It’s Tuesday! Did you know…
* 1944 – D-DAY: (Determined to end four years of often-brutal German occupation, on 6 June 1944, Allied forces invaded Western Europe along an 80-kilometre front in Normandy, France. Of the nearly 150,000 Allied troops who landed or parachuted into the invasion area, 14,000 were Canadians. They assaulted a beachfront code-named “Juno”, while Canadian paratroopers landed just east of the assault beaches. Although the Allies encountered German defenses bristling with artillery, machine guns, mines, and booby-traps, the invasion was a success. Other Canadians helped achieve this victory. The Royal Canadian Navy contributed 110 ships and 10,000 sailors in support of the landings while the R.C.A.F. had helped prepare the invasion by bombing targets inland. On D- Day and during the ensuing campaign, 15 R.C.A.F. fighter and fighter-bomber squadrons helped control the skies over Normandy and attacked enemy targets. On D-Day, Canadians suffered 1074 casualties, including 359 killed.)
* 1944 D-Day. (Although the term D-Day is used routinely as military lingo for the day an operation or event will take place, for many it is also synonymous with June 6, 1944, the day the Allied powers crossed the English Channel and landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, beginning the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi control during World War II. Within three months, the northern part of France would be freed and the invasion force would be preparing to enter Germany, where they would meet up with Soviet forces moving in from the east. On the morning of June 5, 1944, U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe gave the go-ahead for Operation Overlord, the largest amphibious military operation in history. On his orders, 6,000 landing craft, ships and other vessels carrying 176,000 troops began to leave England for the trip to France. That night, 822 aircraft filled with parachutists headed for drop zones in Normandy. An additional 13,000 aircraft were mobilized to provide air cover and support for the invasion. By dawn on June 6, 18,000 parachutists were already on the ground; the land invasions began at 6:30 a.m. The British and Canadians overcame light opposition to capture Gold, Juno, and Sword beaches; so did the Americans at Utah. The task was much tougher at Omaha beach, however, where 2,000 troops were lost and it was only through the tenacity and quick-wittedness of troops on the ground that the objective was achieved. By day’s end, 155,000 Allied troops–Americans, British and Canadians–had successfully stormed Normandy’s beaches. Though it did not go off exactly as planned, as later claimed by British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery–for example, the Allies were able to land only fractions of the supplies and vehicles they had intended in France–D-Day was a decided success. By the end of June, the Allies had 850,000 men and 150,000 vehicles in Normandy and were poised to continue their march across Europe. The heroism and bravery displayed by troops from the Allied countries on D-Day has served as inspiration for several films, most famously The Longest Day (1962) and Saving Private Ryan (1998). It was also depicted in the HBO mini-series Band of Brothers (2001).
* 1933 First drive-in movie theater opens. (On this day in 1933, eager motorists park their automobiles on the grounds of Park-In Theaters, the first-ever drive-in movie theater, located on Crescent Boulevard in Camden, New Jersey. Park-In Theaters–the term “drive-in” came to be widely used only later–was the brainchild of Richard Hollingshead, a movie fan and a sales manager at his father’s company, Whiz Auto Products, in Camden. Reportedly inspired by his mother’s struggle to sit comfortably in traditional movie theater seats, Hollingshead came up with the idea of an open-air theater where patrons watched movies in the comfort of their own automobiles. He then experimented in the driveway of his own house with different projection and sound techniques, mounting a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car, pinning a screen to some trees, and placing a radio behind the screen for sound. He also tested ways to guard against rain and other inclement weather and devised the ideal spacing arrangement for a number of cars so that all would have a view of the screen. The young entrepreneur received a patent for the concept in May of 1933 and opened Park-In Theaters, Inc. less than a month later, with an initial investment of $30,000. Advertising it as entertainment for the whole family, Hollingshead charged 25 cents per car and 25 cents per person, with no group paying more than one dollar. The idea caught on, and after Hollingshead’s patent was overturned in 1949, drive-in theaters began popping up all over the country. One of the largest was the All-Weather Drive-In of Copiague, New York, which featured parking space for 2,500 cars, a kid’s playground and a full-service restaurant, all on a 28-acre lot. Drive-in theaters showed mostly B-movies–that is, not Hollywood’s finest fare–but some theaters featured the same movies that played in regular theaters. The initially poor sound quality–Hollingshead had mounted three speakers manufactured by RCA Victor near the screen–improved, and later technology made it possible for each car to play the movie’s soundtrack through its FM radio. The popularity of the drive-in spiked after World War II and reached its heyday in the late 1950s to mid-60s, with some 5,000 theaters across the country. Drive-ins became an icon of American culture, and a typical weekend destination not just for parents and children but also for teenage couples seeking some privacy. Since then, however, the rising price of real estate, especially in suburban areas, combined with the growing numbers of walk-in theaters and the rise of video rentals to curb the growth of the drive-in industry. Today, fewer than 500 drive-in theaters survive in the United States.)
* 1997 A teenaged mother gives birth and murders her baby at the prom. (Eighteen-year-old Melissa Drexler gives birth to a baby boy in the bathroom stall at an Aberdeen Township banquet hall in New Jersey during her high school prom. Maintenance workers called to clean up blood found in the stall discover a bag in the garbage with her dead baby inside. An autopsy later revealed that the baby had been born alive but had been strangled to death. Drexler’s case drew national attention and outrage, especially since she returned to the dance floor after killing her newborn baby. It was also somewhat curious that she had managed to conceal her pregnancy from everyone she knew. After arriving at the Lacey Township High School prom with her friends, Drexler immediately went to the women’s bathroom. With her unsuspecting friends outside the stall, she gave birth to her baby boy in about 20 or 30 minutes. She reportedly told her friend, “Go tell the boys I’ll be right out.” Apparently, Drexler cut the umbilical cord on the edge of a metal sanitary napkin box in the stall. Blood tests revealed that she had no trace of drugs or alcohol in her system. Prosecutors in Monmouth County initially charged Drexler with murder, but she pled guilty to aggravated manslaughter on August 21, 1998. Telling the court that she was remorseful for her actions, on October 29 the teary-eyed girl was sentenced to 15 years in prison with the possibility of parole in three years. She was released on parole after 37 months on November 26, 2001.)
* 1683 The Ashmolean opens. (The Ashmolean, the world’s first university museum, opens in Oxford, England. At the time of the English Restoration, Oxford was the center of scientific activity in England. In 1677, English archaeologist Elias Ashmole donated his collection of curiosities to Oxford University, and the school’s directors planned the construction of a building to display the items permanently. Acclaimed English architect Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned for the job, and on June 6, 1683, the Ashmolean opened. The first modern museum, the Ashmolean was designed to display its collections, organized so that Oxford University could use it for teaching purposes, and was regularly opened to the public. In 1845, architect Charles R. Cockerell completed the construction of a new home for the museum’s rapidly growing collection on Oxford’s Beaumont Street. Today, the collection at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology ranges in time from the earliest implements of man, made about 500,000 years ago, to 20th-century works of art. Among the collection of antiquities and artwork are curiosities like Guy Fawkes’ lantern and relics like the Alfred Jewel.)
* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology http://canadachannel.ca/todayincanadianhistory/index.php
* This Day In History – What Happened Today http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/