Admiral Nelson lost an arm
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Not only did Rear Admiral Horatio Nelson lose the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife on this day in 1797, but he lost his arm as well.
The British were attempting a beach landing followed by a ground attack on the Spanish port but they were mown down by Spanish cannon, mortar and guns, many of which were manned by civilians. Nelson is reported to have said, pointing to his right arm, "Doctor, I want to get rid of this useless piece of flesh here." Following amputation, the arm was thrown overboard, despite the admiral's wish to keep it.
We're sure Nelson would have needed a stiff drink - we'd have offered a Suffering Bastard.
We also remembering Harry Patch
On this day in 2009, the last soldier known to have fought in the trenches of World War I passed away. Harry Patch was 111, and so traumatised by the horrors of trench warfare that he didn't even speak about the war until he turned 100.
But when he spoke, he spoke with power and passion. Radiohead wrote a song in memory of him, using his own words, such as "The next will be chemical but they never learn" and "Give your leaders each a gun and let them fight themselves". Poet Laureate Andrew Motion wrote a poem for him; Patch himself wrote an autobiography.
His observation on meeting Germany's last surviving WWI soldier, Charles Kuentz, bears repeating. "Herr Kuentz is a very nice gentleman. He is all for a united Europe and peace - and so am I." Harry Patch, we salute you. And we're toasting you with a Matador #2 - Tommy style.
It's also the birthday of the first Tube Baby
IVF is so common nowadays, an essential recourse for older parents or people suffering fertility issues, that it's hard to believe the shock Louise Joy Brown's birth caused the world in 1978.
Louise was the first ever baby born after IVF, or in vitro fertilization, a process where eggs and sperm are brought together outside the body. Despite the common term "test-tube baby", fertilization usually happens in Petri dishes, not tubes of any kind.
In recognition of his transformation of medical science, Robert Edwards, the doctor who developed IVF and worked with Louise's parents, won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2010. Louise is now a mother herself. We are not generally fans of any drink that comes in test tubes. The Test Pilot, however, is a different matter.
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