May 2016

This Day in History… May 9, 1860

Happy Birthday J.M. Barrie 

U.S. #4193 – Disney adapted Barrie’s Peter Pan to animation in 1953.

James Matthew Barrie was born on May 9, 1860, in Kirriemuir, Angus, Scotland.

Barrie was the ninth of ten children. When he was six, one of his brothers died. Though his mother was devastated by the loss, she was comforted by the fact that he would remain a boy forever and never grow up and leave her. This likely served as one of Barrie’s inspirations for his most famous work many years later.

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This Day in History… May 8, 1945

Victory in Europe Day

Item #M11156 – Gibraltar sheet marking 60th anniversary of V-E Day.

On May 8, 1945, Americans celebrated Germany’s defeat with the first Victory in Europe Day.

The war in Europe came down to Berlin. Hidden from harm in his bunker under Berlin, Adolph Hitler continued ordering his troops to fight, somehow believing the Third Reich could defeat its enemies. But, when Soviet forces smashed their way into Berlin on April 25, 1945, and with U.S. forces waiting at the Elbe River, reality overcame Hitler’s visions.

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This Day in History… May 7, 1915

Sinking of the Lusitania 

Lesotho #1214 pictures the Lusitania in the selvage.

Lesotho #1214 pictures the Lusitania in the selvage.

On May 7, 1915, a German U-boat torpedoed and sunk the Lusitania.

The British built the RMS Lusitania to be the fastest ocean liner afloat. Completed in 1906, it was the world’s largest passenger ship for a brief time as well. The Lusitania set out on its maiden voyage in September 1907, with a crowd of 200,000 there to see it off. Nicknamed the “Greyhound of the Seas,” the Lusitania earned the Blue Riband for the fastest Atlantic crossing that October.

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This Day in History… May 6, 1937

The Hindenburg Disaster 

Item #M11008 – Mint sheet marking 75th anniversary of Hindenburg disaster.

On May 6, 1937, the Hindenburg zeppelin caught fire and exploded within a minute, killing over a third of the people on board.

Before commercial air travel was commonplace, people traveled from Europe to the U.S. in airships. French engineer Henri Giffard designed one of the first steerable balloons. The cigar-shaped craft was filled with hydrogen, and was propelled by a small steam engine attached to an open platform. A rudder allowed Giffard to steer the airship. His first flight in 1852 lasted three hours and covered about 17 miles. Giffard didn’t make a return flight because the wind was too strong.

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This Day in History… May 5, 1961

Alan Shepard Becomes First American in Space

U.S. #4527 was issued for the 50th anniversary of Shepard’s flight.

On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American to travel into space when he successfully took a sub-orbital flight aboard Freedom 7.

A year after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik into space, the United States created Project Mercury – its first manned space program – in 1958. Project Mercury had three specific objectives: One, to orbit a manned spacecraft around Earth. Two, to investigate man’s ability to function in space. And three, to recover both man and spacecraft safely.

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Posted in May 2016, This Day in History | 10 Comments

This Day in History… May 4, 1942

Battle of the Coral Sea Begins 

U.S. #2697 – From the 1992 WWII 50th anniversary series.

U.S. #2697c – From the 1992 WWII 50th anniversary series.

On May 4, 1942, the World War II Battle of the Coral Sea began. It was the first fight between aircraft carriers; in fact, the ships weren’t even in sight of each other.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was the start of a plan to remove the U.S. and its allies from the South Pacific. In the following months, Imperial Japan attempted to control the Philippines and the Solomon Islands.

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Posted in May 2016, This Day in History | 7 Comments