John’s Believe It Or Not… July 5th

* 1814 – British Retreat at Battle of Chippawa After Defeat by US Regulars * 1946 Bikini introduced * 1970 Pilot error causes crash in Toronto * 1996 First successful cloning of a mammal * 1954 Elvis Presley records “That’s All Right (Mama)”

Elvis signing autographs in 1954.

It’s Thursday! Did You Know…

* 1814 – British Retreat at Battle of Chippawa After Defeat by US Regulars

The Battle of Chippawa (sometimes incorrectly spelled Chippewa) was a victory for the United States Army in the War of 1812, during an invasion of the British Empire’s colony of Upper Canada along the Niagara River on July 5, 1814. This battle and the subsequent Battle of Lundy’s Lane demonstrated that trained American troops could hold their own against British regulars. The battlefield is a National Historic Site.

Early on July 5, British light infantry, militia, and Indians crossed the Chippawa ahead of Riall’s main body and began sniping at Scott’s outposts from the woods to their west. (Some of them nearly captured Scott, who was having breakfast in a farmhouse.) Brown ordered Porter’s brigade and Indians to clear the woods. They did so, but they met Riall’s advancing regulars and hastily retreated.

Scott was already advancing from Street’s Creek. His artillery (Captain Nathaniel Towson’s company, with three 12-pounder guns) deployed on the portage road and opened fire. Riall’s own guns (two light 24-pounder guns and a 5.5-inch howitzer) attempted to reply, but Towson’s guns destroyed an ammunition wagon and put most of the British guns out of action.

Meanwhile, Scott’s troops deployed into line with the 25th U.S. Infantry on the left near the woods, the 11th U.S. Infantry and 9th U.S. Infantry in the centre and the 22nd U.S. Infantry on the right with Towson’s guns. At first, Riall was under the impression that the American line was composed of grey-clad militia troops, whom the professional British soldiers held in much contempt. He expected the poorly trained soldiers to fall back in disarray after the first few volleys. As the American line continued to hold steady under British artillery fire, Riall realized his error and supposedly exclaimed his famous phrase “Those are regulars, by God!” (Scott appears to be the only source for Riall’s utterance; there is no record of it in any British source.)

The British infantry, with the 1st (Royal Scots) Foot and the 100th Foot leading and the 8th (King’s) Foot in reserve, were advancing very awkwardly and becoming bunched and disordered, because Riall had formed them into line for an advance over uneven ground with some very long grass instead of keeping them in column, in which they could have advanced more rapidly. Advancing in line meant that Riall’s troops moved more slowly and were under fire from the American artillery for longer. The only benefit of using the line formation instead of column was that it increased firepower, yet Riall sacrificed even this advantage by ordering his infantry to fire only one volley before closing with the bayonet. As the redcoats of the 1st and 100th Regiments moved forward, their own artillery had to stop firing in order to avoid hitting them. Meanwhile, the American gunners switched from firing roundshot to firing canister, with lethal consequences for the British infantry. Once the opposing lines had closed to less than 100 yards apart, Scott advanced his wings, forming his brigade into a “U” shape which allowed his flanking units to catch Riall’s advancing troops in a heavy crossfire.

Both lines stood and fired repeated volleys; after 25 minutes of this pounding Riall, his own coat pierced by a bullet, ordered a withdrawal. The 1/8th, which had been moving to the right of the other two regiments, formed line to cover their retreat. As they in turn fell back, three British 6-pounder guns came into action to cover their withdrawal, with two more 6-pounders firing from the entrenchments north of the Chippawa. Scott halted his brigade, although some of Porter’s Iroquois pursued the British almost to the Chippawa.

Painting: the Battle of Chipawa

* 1946 Bikini introduced

On July 5, 1946, French designer Louis Reard unveils a daring two-piece swimsuit at the Piscine Molitor, a popular swimming pool in Paris. Parisian showgirl Micheline Bernardini modeled the new fashion, which Reard dubbed “bikini,” inspired by a news-making U.S. atomic test that took place off the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean earlier that week.

European women first began wearing two-piece bathing suits that consisted of a halter top and shorts in the 1930s, but only a sliver of the midriff was revealed and the navel was vigilantly covered. In the United States, the modest two-piece made its appearance during World War II, when wartime rationing of fabric saw the removal of the skirt panel and other superfluous material. Meanwhile, in Europe, fortified coastlines and Allied invasions curtailed beach life during the war, and swimsuit development, like everything else non-military, came to a standstill.

In 1946, Western Europeans joyously greeted the first war-free summer in years, and French designers came up with fashions to match the liberated mood of the people. Two French designers, Jacques Heim and Louis Reard, developed competing prototypes of the bikini. Heim called his the “atom” and advertised it as “the world’s smallest bathing suit.” Reard’s swimsuit, which was basically a bra top and two inverted triangles of cloth connected by string, was in fact significantly smaller. Made out of a scant 30 inches of fabric, Reard promoted his creation as “smaller than the world’s smallest bathing suit.” Reard called his creation the bikini, named after the Bikini Atoll.

In planning the debut of his new swimsuit, Reard had trouble finding a professional model who would deign to wear the scandalously skimpy two-piece. So he turned to Micheline Bernardini, an exotic dancer at the Casino de Paris, who had no qualms about appearing nearly nude in public. As an allusion to the headlines that he knew his swimsuit would generate, he printed newspaper type across the suit that Bernardini modeled on July 5 at the Piscine Molitor. The bikini was a hit, especially among men, and Bernardini received some 50,000 fan letters.

Before long, bold young women in bikinis were causing a sensation along the Mediterranean coast. Spain and Italy passed measures prohibiting bikinis on public beaches but later capitulated to the changing times when the swimsuit grew into a mainstay of European beaches in the 1950s. Reard’s business soared, and in advertisements, he kept the bikini mystique alive by declaring that a two-piece suit wasn’t a genuine bikini “unless it could be pulled through a wedding ring.”

In prudish America, the bikini was successfully resisted until the early 1960s, when a new emphasis on youthful liberation brought the swimsuit en masse to U.S. beaches. It was immortalized by the pop singer Brian Hyland, who sang “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini” in 1960, by the teenage “beach blanket” movies of Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon, and by the California surfing culture celebrated by rock groups like the Beach Boys. Since then, the popularity of the bikini has only continued to grow.
first-bikini… Louis Réard’s original string bikini modeled by exotic dancer Micheline Bernardini which caused a sensation and was made from just 30 square inches of fabric. (

* 1970 Pilot error causes crash in Toronto

An Air Canada DC-8 crashes while landing in Toronto, killing 108 people on this day in 1970. The crash was caused by poor landing procedures and inadvertent pilot error. The terrible accident came less than two days after another jet crash had killed more than 100 people in Spain.

The roots of this accident can be found in the working relationship of pilot Peter Hamilton and his co-pilot Donald Rowland. Though they were colleagues who often flew together, they frequently disagreed over the procedure for deploying the wing spoilers at landing. The spoilers are the parts of the wings that assist in braking when they are put in the right position.

Hamilton preferred to “arm the spoilers” or get them ready for deployment, early in the landing process, when the plane was 2,000 feet high, although this was against company policy. Rowland eventually agreed to arm the spoilers before landing, but only when the plane was just above the ground.

On this day, Rowland accidentally deployed the spoilers–rather than merely arming them–as the plane was approaching Toronto’s airport. The premature deployment immediately caused the right wing to plunge to the ground. One engine on the right side fell off and the loss of weight sent the plane back into the air. Hamilton tried to regain control and attempt another landing; as he did, another engine, and then the whole right wing, detached from the plane.

The DC-8 broke into pieces in mid-air near the airport. All 108 people onboard were killed.

Crash of a Douglas DC-8 in Toronto: 109 killed | Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives
Crash of a Douglas DC-8 in Toronto: 108 killed | Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives

* 1996 First successful cloning of a mammal

On this day in 1996, Dolly the sheep–the first mammal to have been successfully cloned from an adult cell–is born at the Roslin Institute in Scotland.

Originally code-named “6LL3,” the cloned lamb was named after the buxom singer and actress Dolly Parton. The name was reportedly suggested by one of the stockmen who assisted with her birth, after he learned that the animal was cloned from a mammary cell. The cells had been taken from the udder of a six-year-old ewe and cultured in a lab using microscopic needles, in a method first used in human fertility treatments in the 1970s. After producing a number of normal eggs, scientists implanted them into surrogate ewes; 148 days later one of them gave birth to Dolly.

Dolly’s birth was announced publicly in February 1997 to a storm of controversy. On one hand, supporters argued that cloning technology can lead to crucial advances in medicine, citing the production of genetically modified animals to be organ donors for humans as well as “therapeutic” cloning, or the process of cloning embryos in order to collect stem cells for use in the development of treatments for degenerative nerve diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Some scientists also looked at animal cloning as a possible way to preserve endangered species. On the other hand, detractors saw the new cloning technology as potentially unsafe and unethical, especially when it was applied to what many saw as the logical next step: human cloning.

Over the course of her short life, Dolly was mated to a male sheep named David and eventually gave birth to four lambs. In January 2002 she was found to have arthritis in her hind legs, a diagnosis that raised questions about genetic abnormalities that may have been caused in the cloning process. After suffering from a progressive lung disease, Dolly was put down on February 14, 2003, at the age of six. Her early death raised more questions about the safety of cloning, both animal and human. Though Ian Wilmut, the lead scientist on the team that produced Dolly, has spoken out publicly against human cloning, its supporters are unlikely to be dissuaded. As for Dolly, the historic sheep was stuffed and is now on display at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Dolly the Sheep - Preserved.-John-Fioravanti-Words-To-Captivate-Johns-Believe-It-Or-Not
Professor Ian Wilmut of the Roslin Institute pictured, with his old friend, “Dolly”, the world s first cloned sheep. (Photo by Maurice McDonald – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

* 1954 Elvis Presley records “That’s All Right (Mama)”

History credits Sam Phillips, the owner and operator of Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee, with the discovery of Elvis Presley, which is perfectly fair, though it fails to account for the roles of four others in making that discovery possible: The business partner who first spotted something special in Elvis, the two session men who vouched for his musical talent and the blues figure who wrote the song he was playing when Sam Phillips realized what he had on his hands. The song in question was “That’s All Right” by Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, and Elvis’ unrehearsed performance of it—recorded by Sam Phillips on this day in 1954—is a moment some regard as the true beginning of the rock-and-roll revolution.

The sequence of events that led to this moment began when a young truck driver walked into the offices of Sun Records and the Memphis Recording Service on a Saturday night in the summer of 1953 and paid $3.98 plus tax to make an acetate record as a birthday present to his mother. Sam Phillips recorded Elvis singing “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin,” and he told his business partner Marion Kreisler something that made her write down “Good ballad singer. Hold” in her notes. It was Kreisler who was impressed enough by the incredibly shy young singer that she repeatedly brought his name up to Phillips over the next year and mentioned that he seemed worth following up with. In early July 1954, Phillips finally sent two of his favorite session musicians, guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black, to go meet with Elvis and report back to him with their assessment. After talking and jamming a bit with Presley, Moore and Black gave Phillips a report that was hardly enthusiastic. “He didn’t knock me out,” Moore told Phillips, “[but] the boy’s got a good voice.” Phillips decided to take a flyer and schedule a recording session with Presley for July 5.

Phillips knew that something was brewing in the music world of 1954, and he had a pretty good idea what it would take to make the pot boil: A white singer who could sing “black” rhythm and blues. However, the first several hours of the July 5 session did nothing to convince Sam Phillips that Elvis was the one he’d been looking for. Elvis’s renditions of “Harbor Lights” and “I Love You Because” were stiff and uninspired, and after numerous takes and re-takes, Phillips called for a break. Rather than shoot the breeze with his fellow musicians or step outside for a breath of fresh air, Elvis began to mess around on the guitar, playing and singing “That’s All Right,” but at least twice as fast as the original.

Through an open door in the control room, Sam Phillips heard this unfamiliar rendition of a familiar blues number and knew he’d found the sound he’d been looking for. “[Phillips] stuck his head out and said ‘What are you doing?’” Scotty Moore later recalled. “And we said, ‘We don’t know.’ ‘Well, back up,’ Sam said, ‘try to find a place to start, and do it again.’”

Phillips continued recording with Elvis over the next two evenings, but he never captured anything as thrilling as he did that first night. Released to Memphis radio station WHBQ just two days after it was recorded, and then as a single two weeks later, Elvis Presley’s “That’s All Right (Mama)” became an instant regional hit and set him on his path toward stardom.

Record jacket: That's all right (Mama)
That’s all right (Mama) (The Blog That Rocked – Canalblog)

Today’s Sources: 

* Canadian History Timeline – Canada’s Historical Chronology

* This Day In History – What Happened Today              

* Wikipedia                                                                      

Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December 2013 and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

11 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… July 5th”

  1. Love the bikini story, although I thought it was Brigitte Bardot who first wore it. 1946- wow! And this was a new story to me about Elvis. And Dolly is that old!? Thanks, John.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Beats me if there’s any other connection, James. I never really got it anyway. Then again, who cares?


  2. Males like to think of themselves as clever, but it took them until 1946 and “inspiration” from atomic bomb testing to conceive of skimpy swimwear which would expose the female form? [but, I’m glad we finally did – lol!]

    Liked by 2 people

  3. That plane crash was a nightmare. Had Rowland accidentally deployed the spoilers at 2000 feet there would have been room to recover. Hamilton, in reality, was more cautious in arming the spoilers at 2000 feet. Makes it safer if accidentally deployed. Interesting story on Elvis.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m not a very technical guy, so I’m in no position to judge. But it certainly was a terrible crash. Thanks, John.


  4. Wow, I had no idea that bikinis first appeared in 1946. I would have guessed the ’60s. The cloning of the sheep was a mammoth step forward, and we’re still learning from this experiment. Amazing. Thank you, John. I hope your day goes well. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Actually, you’re quite correct – bikinis didn’t show up in the USA until the 60’s. Oh, blessed day! LOL!! That cloning issue will continue to plague us from an ethical viewpoint. Thanks, Gwen!


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