October 14th was my mother-in-law’s birthday; she was born in 1914, a significant year for many reasons, and probably most remembered as the start of WW1; on the very day she was born  the Canadian Expeditionary Force arrived on thirty-two ocean liners into Plymouth Sound to take their part in the conflict.

Before I ever met my mother-in-law, I associated today’s date with another time of conflict for our country – with maybe an even greater effect on our lives – even though ti took place nearly a thousand years ago… I’m thinking of the Battle of Hastings. The effects of the Norman conquest on ordinary people all across these islands was profound and affected all the countries of what became the United Kingdom for centuries afterwards, and even today some of the difficulties faced have roots going right back to the defeat by William of Normandy’s forces of those of the English king.

Looking over a list of significant events on particular days, and looking down those for October 14th, there do seem to be a preponderance of negative rather than positive events:

  • 1066 – Norman Conquest: Battle of Hastings: In England on Senlac Hill, seven miles from Hastings, the Norman forces of William the Conqueror defeat the English army and kill King Harold II of England.
  • 1322 – Robert the Bruce of Scotland defeats King Edward II of England at Byland, forcing Edward to accept Scotland’s independence.
  • 1582 – Because of the adoption of the Gregorian calendar this day does not exist in this year in Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.
  • 1586 – Mary, Queen of Scots, goes on trial for conspiracy against Elizabeth I of England.
  • 1773 – Just before the beginning of the American Revolutionary War, several of the British East India Company’s tea ships are set ablaze at the old seaport of Annapolis, Maryland.
  • 1882 – University of the Punjab is founded in a part of India that later became West Pakistan.
  • 1913 – Senghenydd colliery disaster, the United Kingdom’s worst coal mining accident claims the lives of 439 miners.
  • 1926 – The children’s book Winnie-the-Pooh, by A. A. Milne, is first published.
  • 1939 – The German submarine U-47 sinks the British battleship HMS Royal Oak within her harbour at Scapa Flow, Scotland.
  • 1940 – Balham underground station disaster in London, England, sixty-six people in the station were killed during the Nazi Luftwaffe air raids on Great Britain

So The University of the Punjab is founded – hurrah! Winnie-the-Pooh is published – hurray! My mother-in-law is born – happy birthday!!

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