This Week, in History | The Birmingham Bombing, Amelia Earhart, the History Channel and The Manson Family

Treading the fine line between past and present, This Week, in History is a round-up of the latest historical events and findings which continue to impact the world today. This week, we look at Birmingham Bombings, the History Channel’s latest conspiracy surrounding the death of Amelia Earhart and Quentin Tarantino announces that the Manson Family will be the subject of his penultimate film.

Michael Hayes of the Provisional IRA opens up about his role in the 1974 Birmingham Bombings

“Collective responsibility” for the 1974 Provisional IRA Birmingham Bombings was, this week taken by Michael Christopher Hayes, a south Dublin resident and bomb-maker for the republican terrorist organization, who felt this act might provide “closure” for the grieving families of the 21 people killed.

The bombing, which took place on November 21st 1974, saw members of the PIRA plant two devices in the Mulberry Bush and the Tavern in the Town pubs in the city. Killing 21 and injuring a further 222, the attack also resulted in the unjust imprisonment of Hugh Callahan, Patrick Joseph Hill, Gerard Hunter, Richard Ilkenny, William Power and John Walker – the Birmingham Six – all of whom were handed life sentences after being falsely accused of orchestrating the atrocity.

Speaking on the BBC, with journalist Kevin MaGee, Hayes, 69 years of age when he decided to nobly step forward and carry this burden, insisted that the two blasts were never designed with the “intention of hurting anybody.” The objective, he says was to provide police a thirty minute timeframe in which to evacuate the areas under threat. However, eight minutes were lost in the process as one public payphone was out of service, while another was being used Nevertheless, given twenty-two minutes were provided in the end, Hayes absolved himself even more by saying, “We believed that we gave adequate warnings.”

To which there is one response:

Michael Beasley (30), Lynn Bennett (18), Stanley Bodman (51), James Caddick (40), Thomas Chaytor (28), James Craig (34), Jane Davis (17), Paul Davis (20), Charles Gray (44), Maxine Hambleton (18), Anne Hayes (19, John Jones (51), Neil Marsh (20), Marylin Nash (22), Pamela Palmer (19 Desmond Reilly (20), Eugene Reilly (23), Maureen Roberts (20), John Rowland (46), Trevor Thrupp (33), Stephen Whalley (21).

“It was not the intention of the IRA to kill innocent people. That wasn’t meant. It wouldn’t have been done if that was the case”, he continued, before later adding, “I can sleep at night because I am not a murderer”, which is true provided you buy into the logic that bombs kill people, not people.

“I apologise not only for myself, I apologise for all active republicans who had no intention of hurting anybody and sympathise with you,” Hayes said here as a means of achieving closure, again, the no-intention-to-harm point representing all of the IRA, but not necessarily the intentions of the bombs, which were only designed and placed in a public area by the IRA.

Admitting he was a participant in the bombings, which were planted by two men whose identities he would not disclose, while also refusing to comment on whether he planted either device himself, Hayes noted a third bomb was intended for use on Birmingham’s Hagley Road, but which he defused during the course of the bombing.

Speaking to the Irish Times, Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six, a man who spent 17 years in prison because of the actions of these bombs, not Hayes or the IRA, dismissed Hayes’ act of contrition, calling it a “useless” “insult to the Birmingham families” that was “40 years too late.”

“You could never apologise to the families of those who died. No apology in the world could make up for anything,”

Of course, with a cause for justice and solidarity among Irish people, Hayes stood up for the Six by not coming forward or informing on the actual perpetrators of these massacres. “Let me tell you my good man I would sooner die than become an informer”, he told MaGee, an honourable defence offered as he carried his burden in the same admirable way that Hill and the other Six did by vicariously serving his sentence between 1975 and 1992.

‘Just a picture of a wharf with a bunch of people’: Blogger Disproves History Channel Theory on Amelia Earhart

The History Channel, that beacon of factual information, famous for Ancient Aliens, Ice Road Truckers and Pawn Stars has again ended up on the receiving end of ridicule after a recent documentary, Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence forwarded a long disputed theory regarding the aviator’s mysterious disappearance.

Earhart, who disappeared in the Pacific on July 2nd 1937, while travelling with her navigator, Fred Noonan from Papau New Guinea to a fuelling station on Howland Island was long suspected to have crash landed in transit. However, the new documentary suggests she never made it to Howland, but rather, fell captive on the Marshall Islands to the Japanese Army.

Taken into custody on the island of Saipan, there, she would apparently succumb to dysentery with Noonan being decapitated. This bleak end, endorsed by her cousin Wally Earhart, the documentary suggests remained unknown, because of a US government cover-up. Former FBI assistant director and host of the documentary, Shawn Henry suggested the government knew, but decided not to intervene and hence, “She may very well be the first casualty of World War Two.”

The evidence used to boost this theory is a single photograph, which one of the interviewed sources, Les Kinney, a retired treasury agent discovered in the US national archives in 2012. Upon inspection, Kinney became convinced that one of the figures present in the photograph, a woman with her back to the camera was in fact Earhart, while a male with a similar hairline to that of Noonan was also visible. Equal attention was paid to a ship identified as the Japanese Koshu, which can be seen towing a barge that appeared to be carrying an object estimated at 38-feet-long, the very same length as Earhart’s plane: the Lockheed Electra.

Using facial recognition and forensic technology to verify the image, the conclusion reached was that this photo was captured after Earhart’s assumed crash on July 2nd 1937. It was ground-breaking felt Kinney when he said that this “clearly indicates that Earhart was captured by the Japanese”. Then, Kota Yamano, a sceptical military history blogger proceeded to investigate the actual context of the picture, and managed to disprove the entire documentary in about 30 minutes.

Amelia Earhart History News Birmingham -
Just a bunch of people, Jaluit Atoll, 1935

“I was sure that the same photo must be on record in Japan”, he told Justin McCurry, the Guardian’s Japanese correspondent.

Running an online search through the archives of Japan’s National Diet Library, using the keywords ‘Jaluit atoll’, the location of Japan’s administrative headquarters on the Marshall Islands, this was the “10th item that came up”.

Contrary to the cover-up theory, the picture was actually taken from a Japanese-language travel book on the South Seas and was published in 1935, either suggesting that Earhart was not the woman, or that she died at the hands of the Japanese after having accidentally travelled back in time (the subject of the History Channel’s follow-up documentary).

Writing on his blog, Yamano shared the actual details behind the picture, which was “first published in Palau under Japanese rule in 1935, in a photo book”.

Furthermore, the “IJN Koshu” naval survey ship depicted actually assisted the search mission to locate the whereabouts of Earhart, since she arrived in Jaluit Atoll in 1937, while the ship arrived there circa 1935.

Adding to the disappointment was the actual context of the picture, since the scenario depicted was simply a gathering for a schooner race between local tribes that, the book called a “bustling spectacle”.

Whereas the History Channel saw this as evidence that Earhart “got caught up in an international dispute, was abandoned by her own government, and made the ultimate sacrifice”, a simpler explanation was offered up by Ric Gillespie, executive director of the International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery and the leader of eleven search expeditions into the South Pacific to locate her whereabouts.

“This is just a picture of a wharf at Jaluit, with a bunch of people.”


… and Finally, The Hollywood Reporter Announce Tarantino to Direct Film about Manson Family, Accidentally Deny the Holocaust

Quentin Tarantino is reportedly set to direct, as his ninth feature-length film a story based on the Manson Family and their murder of actress Sharon Tate.

After covering slavery, World War Two and the post-Civil War era, this will be his fourth fictitious foray into American history after last year’s somewhat controversial Western murder-mystery, The Hateful Eight.

In an exclusive report, The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that Tarantino is in the process of completing the script, with filming likely to begin in 2018. On the big announcement, THR said, “If the Manson-Tate project does become Tarantino’s next film, it becomes unique in that it will be his first movie to be based on true events”, as opposed to ‘Inglourious Basterds’, which depicts World War Two and a Jewish apache-like resistance to the Holocaust, otherwise known as the major global events that a historian such as David Irving believes to be grossly exaggerated, but let’s not quote him.

Instead, let’s remember the time when he was interviewed for a documentary entitled Inferno: The True Story of Dresden, which was broadcast on the History Channel back in 1999.

Featured Image Source