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ON THIS DAY

ON THIS DAY

22 November 1963: Kennedy shot dead in Dallas. The President of the United States has been assassinated by a gunman in Dallas, Texas. John F Kennedy was hit in the head and throat when three shots were fired at his open-topped car. The presidential motorcade was travelling through the main business area of the city. Texas Governor John Connally was also seriously injured when one of the unknown sniper’s bullets hit him in the back. The men were accompanied by their wives, who were both uninjured. Vice-president Lyndon Johnson – who was following in a different car – has been sworn in as the new US leader. The presidential party was driving from Dallas airport to the city centre when witnesses said shots were fired from the window of a building overlooking the road. The president collapsed into Jackie Kennedy’s arms, who was heard to cry “Oh no”. Seconds later Governor Connally was also hit. Dallas Times Herald photographer Bob Jackson was in the motorcade close behind the Democrat leader’s car and heard the shots as it entered Dealey Plaza. “As I looked up I saw a rifle being pulled back from a window – it might have been resting on the window sill – I didn’t see a man,” he said. Mr Kennedy’s limousine was driven at speed to Parklands Hospital immediately after the shooting. The president was alive when he was admitted, but died at 1400 local time (1900 GMT) – 35 minutes after being shot. Police and Secret Service agents stormed the School Book Depository building moments after the shots were fired and recovered a rifle with a telescopic sight, said to be the assassination weapon. The mood of shock in the US was echoed by Senator Mike Mansfield in an emergency forum of the senate. “This is terrible – I cannot find words,” he said. (Source: BBC)

15 November 1940: Germans bomb Coventry to destruction. The German Luftwaffe has bombed Coventry in a massive raid which lasted more than 10 hours and left much of the city devastated. Relays of enemy aircraft dropped bombs indiscriminately. One of the many buildings hit included the 14th century cathedral, which was all but destroyed. Initial reports suggest the number of casualties is about 1,000. Intensive anti-aircraft fire kept the raiders at a great height from which accurate bombing was impossible. Reports say 4,330 homes were destroyed and three-quarters of the city’s factories damaged. “The whole city was ringed with leaping flames, bathed in brilliant moonlight and a few searchlights were sweeping the smoke-filled sky.” People’s War memories. Other targets included two hospitals, two churches, hotels, clubs, cinemas, public-shelters, public swimming baths, a police station and a post office. According to one report, some 500 enemy aircraft took part in the raid. Wave upon wave of bombers scattered their lethal payloads over the city. The night sky, already lit by a brilliant moon, was further illuminated by flares and incendiary bombs. The German High Command has issued a communiqué describing the attack on Coventry as a reprisal for the British attack on Munich – the birthplace of the Nazi party. The message continued: “Particularly heavy was the attack on Coventry, where numerous engine works and aero accessory factories as well as other targets of military importance were attacked with bombs of heaviest calibre, causing extensive damage.” The German Official News Agency described the raid on Coventry as “the most severe in the whole history of the war”. The bombing began at 1920 and did not cease until dawn. The all-clear was finally sounded at 0615 GMT. The city’s tram system was destroyed. Nearly all gas and water pipes were smashed and people have been advised to boil emergency supplies of water. The cathedral Provost, the Very Reverend Dick Howard and a party of helpers attempted to deal with 12 incendiary bombs by smothering them with sand. But another shower of incendiaries accompanied by high explosives forced them to give up their efforts. Mr Howar

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