This Month in UK History - November

4 November 1605


Guy Fawkes arrested

Guy Fawkes, a Catholic convert and conspirator in the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested in parliament's cellar. Protestant King James I was the target of the conspirators as they thought with him out of the way a Catholic king could be restored to the throne. The conspirators put 36 kegs of gunpowder in parliament's cellar with the intention to blow up the king on November 5th.
One of the conspirators got cold feet and wrote to one of his friends, a member of parliament, warning him to stay away on that day. The letter found its way to the king who immediately had the cellars searched.
Guy Fawkes was arrested, tortured and along with the rest of the conspirators, hung drawn and quartered. Even today it is tradition in England to celebrate the foiled assassination by throwing effigies of Guy Fawkes on lighted bonfires and letting off fireworks.

11 November 1911


End of World War I

After four years and 97 days the guns finally fell silent as the Great War ended. Around 9 million lives were lost with a further 27 million injured. The war was one of attrition and mostly fought in trenches in the muddy fields of Western Europe.
In the Battle of the Somme alone, the British lost 60.000 men in one morning. Now every November 11th at 11 O'clock a minute's silence is observed across the UK to remember the fallen servicemen and women from the Army, Navy, Air force and Merchant Navy, not only from the Great War but all conflicts since including; WWII, Malaya, Cyprus, Kenya, Aden, Northern Ireland, The Falkland Islands, former Yugoslavia and more recently Iraq and Afghanistan.
A service is held each year by the Bishop of London on the Sunday closest to November 11th at the Cenotaph at Whitehall in London. The service is also attended by members of the royal family, representatives of the government and veterans. Red poppies are worn as a mark of respect to the dead.

10 November 1871


Stanley finds Dr David Livingstone in Africa

Few Europeans have contributed more to the exploration of Africa as the Scottish missionary. He spent 30 years in Africa, exploring almost a third of the continent, from its southern tip almost to the equator. He was the first white man to see Victoria Falls.
In 1865, Livingstone set out on his last and most famous journey. He soon lost his medicine, animals and porters, but struggled on almost alone. In the village of Ujiji, on Lake Tanganyika, Livingstone encountered Henry Stanley who greeted him with his (now famous) words: "Dr Livingstone, I presume?"
Stanley had been sent by the New York Herald Tribune newspaper but it had taken a year to find him. Weak, worn out and suffering from dysentery, Livingstone died on April 30, 1872,The natives buried his heart in Africa as he had requested, but his body was returned to England and buried in Westminster Abbey. 

23 November 1979


Pink Floyd's The Wall released selling 6 million copies in 2 weeks

Pink Floyd were formed in 1966, the band members were Syd Barret, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Richard Wright. By 1969 genius, Syd Barret, was quickly losing his mind and was replaced by Dave Gilmour.
During the sixties they released psychedelic music on albums such as 'Piper at the Gates of Dawn' and 'Saucer Full of Secrets' but they really took off in the seventies with 'Dark Side of the Moon' in 1973, (One of the all time best selling albums in the world) 'Wish You Were Here' in 1977 (a tribute to Syd), 'Animals' and 'The Wall'.
This double album follows the story of Pink from his childhood in war torn England through to his self isolation as a famous rock star. Pink Floyd, already noted for their elaborate stage shows, featured the building of a wall during performances on the epic world tour of 'The Wall' which would be blown up in the finale.

Famous Birth


30 November 1874 - Sir Winston Churchill

Educated at Harrow School, Churchill went to the Military Academy at Sandhurst before five years in the army.
On leaving the army he became a war correspondent and was captured during the Boer War but managed to escape making the headlines back home.
He then engaged in a career in politics and by WW1 was First Lord of the Admiralty. He was blamed for the failure of the Dardanelles so rejoined the army and served on the Western front.
He then reentered politics and became a national hero when he became Prime Minister shortly after the outbreak of WWII.  Churchill Rallied the people with his rousing speeches and held the country together when Britain stood alone against the Germans. He organized the air defence that led to victory in the Battle of Britain. He opened a 2nd front in the Middle East, convinced that Hitler could never invade Britain with the RAF and the Royal Navy intact. When the Americans were finally forced into the War by the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbour Churchill's status as world statesmen was assured.

....And Famous Death


4 November 1918 - Wilfred Owen, anti-war poet, dies at 25

Wilfred Owen was born on 18th March, 1893. Although he had previously thought of himself as a pacifist, in October 1915, he enlisted in the army and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and joined the Manchester Regiment in France in January, 1917.
While in France Wilfred Owen began writing poems about his war experiences. In the summer of 1917 Owen was
 diagnosed as suffering from shell-shock and sent back to Britain. While recovering he met the poet Siegfried Sassoon who advised and encouraged him in his writing, as did another writer, Robert Graves.
Over the next few months Owen wrote a series of poems, including Anthem for Doomed Youth, Disabled, Dulce et Decorum Est and Strange Meeting.
In August 1918 Owen returned to the
Western Front where he was awarded the Military Cross. He was killed by machine-gun fire while leading his men across the Sambre Canal on 4th November 1918. A week later the Armistice was signed.


Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, 
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, 
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs 
And towards our distant rest began to trudge. 
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots 
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind; 
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots 
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! –  An ecstasy of fumbling, 
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time; 
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling, 
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime . . . 
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light, 
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, 
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace 
Behind the wagon that we flung him in, 
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, 
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin; 
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood 
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, 
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, 
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest 
To children ardent for some desperate glory, 
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est 
Pro patria mori.

8 October 1917 - March, 1918