Historically, 7th September has been one of the busiest and most impactive days of the year. Let’s start with a famous victory secured over 8 centuries ago….
On 7th September 1191, during the Third Crusade, the 33 year old King Richard I of England defeated the Moslem warrior Saladin, at the Battle of Arsuf, about 15km north of Tel Aviv.
It is not possible to establish the scale of the losses incurred by either side, but certainly, Richard’s victory was important because it destroyed Saladin’s reputation as an invincible warrior and proved Richard’s skill and courage. The result allowed England’s King to take Jaffa, the nearest port to the prized Holy City. Now we shall move to the birth of an illustrious Queen….
At 3pm on Sunday 7th September 1533, Anne Boleyn was in her private chambers at Greenwich Palace when she gave birth to a healthy, red-haired girl: the infant developed into the woman we know as Queen Elizabeth I.
This proved to be Anne’s only live child. Henry VIII had been reassured by physicians and astrologers that the child would be a boy and he was comparatively disappointed; he need not have worried of course. During the latter part of Elizabeth’s reign, a fabulous treasure was captured….
It was on 7th September 1592, that the Portuguese vessel , ‘Madre de Dios’ was towed into Dartmouth harbour, after being captured during a ‘privateering’ expedition led by Sir John Burrows (Burroughs).
The ship, made in Lisbon in 1589, was huge by contemporary standards and was packed full of treasure, jewellery, silks, porcelain and spices. It has been estimated that the ship contained approximately 900 tons of valuables.
Much of the treasure was either stolen or smuggled away immediately after it docked. Queen Elizabeth I appointed Sir Robert Cecil and Sir Walter Raleigh to recover the spoils and protect what remained. Eventually, Raleigh and Cecil retrieved small packages and sold the cargo for £13,505; the profits went to the Treasury. Three centuries later, renowned heroes their names….
On 7th September 1838, the remarkable 22 year old Grace Horsley Darling became a heroine after performing incredible deeds off the north-east coast of England. In the early hours, she was with her father in Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands, when she saw the wreck of a ship, the SS Forfarshire, on a nearby rocky island. The weather was atrocious and the couple could see that the ship had broken in two so they set off in a rowing boat, over a distance of one mile, to rescue the survivors under very dangerous conditions. Together, Grace and her father saved the lives of 13 men.
On 7th September 1910, the painter William Holman Hunt died in Kensington at the age of 83. He stayed true to the principles of the ‘Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood’ and produced some of the most outstanding work of his generation. He was buried in the crypt of St. Paul’s Cathedral….A few years later saw the birth of a man who witnessed the worst of all disasters…
On 7th September 1917, Group Captain Geoffrey Leonard Cheshire VC OM DSO DFC was born at Chester.
When the Second World War broke out, he joined the RAF and flew bomber aircraft; he was the youngest Group Captain in the service. He completed over 100 missions and was awarded the Victoria Cross for his continuous courage.
On his 103rd mission, he served as an official observer on board a B-29 bomber over Nagasaki and witnessed the dropping of an atomic bomb. After the conflict, he became a tireless charity worker and together with his wife Sue Ryder, set up ‘Leonard Cheshire Disability’ and other philanthropic organisations. On that theme…..
It was in the later afternoon of 7th September 1940, that approximately 300 German Luftwaffe bombers unleashed the first of dozens of intense raids against London, on a scale not previously seen in world history.
Hundreds of civilians were killed, thousands injured and many people lost their homes. This was the beginning of the ‘London Blitz’ which claimed the lives of about 43,000 civilians and injured approximately 140,000….When Europe moved in the Cold war, the violence continued…
On 7th September 1978, George Ivanov Markov, a Bulgarian dissident, was murdered as he walked across Waterloo Bridge in London.
Markov was a writer, journalist and broadcaster and worked for the BBC World Service. He was an outspoken critic of the Bulgarian regime. Whilst walking over Waterloo Bridge, it seems that he was injected, probably via an umbrella, through the back of the leg, with a tiny pellet containing the deadly toxin, ricin.
Finally, on 7th September 1978, the wildly eccentric drummer Keith John Moon died at 9 Curzon Place in Mayfair after taking 32 tablets of Clomethiazole.
Moon and his girlfriend had spent the previous evening dining with Paul and Linda McCartney in Covent Garden. The address where he died, was the same property where the singer Cass Elliot had died four years earlier. Keith Moon was cremated and his ashes scattered at Golders Green.