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The Curious Case of Commander Lionel “Buster” Crabb

Commander Lionel “Buster” Crabb

Lieutenant-Commander Lionel Kenneth Phillip Crabb, OBE, GM (28 January 1909 – presumed dead 19 April 1956), known as Buster Crabb, was a Royal Navy frogman and  M16 diver who  vanished during a reconnaissance mission around a Soviet cruiser berthed at Portsmouth   Dockyard in 1956.

Crabb in 1950 whilst divng to find the Tobermory.
Crabb in 1950 whilst divng to find the Tobermory.
MI6 diver
Crabb, April 1944
Nickname(s)Buster
Born28 January 1909
London England
Died19 April 1956 (aged 47) ( Presumed Dead )
BuriedMilton Cemetery, Portsmouth England
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchRoyal Navy
Years of service1941–1947
RankLieutenant Commander
Battles/warsSecond World War
AwardsOfficer of the Order of the British Empire
George Medal
Other workMI6 diver

Early life

Lionel Crabb was born in 1909 to Hugh and Beatrice Crabb of Streatham , south-west London. They were a poor family. In his youth he held many jobs but after two years training for a career at sea in the school ship HMS Conway  he joined the  merchant navy  and the  Royal Naval Volunteers Reserve before the Second World War.

Second World War

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Crabb was first an army gunner. Then, in 1941, he joined the Royal Navy. The next year he was sent to Gibraltar where he worked in a mine and bomb disposal unit to remove the Italian limpet mines that enemy divers had attached to the hulls of Allied ships. Initially, Crabb’s job was to disarm mines that British divers removed, but eventually he decided to learn to dive.

Decima Flottiglia MAS

He was one of a group of underwater clearance divers who checked for limpet mines in Gibraltar harbour during the period of Italian frogman and manned torpedo attacks by the Decima Flottiglia MAS. They dived with oxygen rebreathers, Davis Submerged Escape Apparatus, which until then had not been used much if at all for swimming down from the surface. At first they swam by breaststroke without swimfins.

On 8 December 1942, during one such attack, two of the Italian frogmen, Lieutenant Visintini and Petty Officer Magro, died, probably killed by small explosive charges thrown from harbor-defence patrol boats, a tactic said to have been introduced by Crabb. Their bodies were recovered, and their swimfins and Scuba sets were taken and from then on used by Sydney Knowles and Crabb.

Awards

George Medal

Crabb was awarded the George Medal for his efforts and was promoted to lieutenant commander. In 1943 he became Principal Diving Officer for Northern Italy, and was assigned to clear mines in the ports of Livorno and Venice; he was later created an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for these services. He was also an investigating diver in the suspicious death of General Sikorski of the Polish Army, whose B-24 Liberator aircraft crashed near Gibraltar in 1943.

American actor and swimmer Buster Crabbe

By this time he had gained the nickname “Buster”, after the American actor and swimmer Buster Crabbe. After the war Crabb was stationed in Palestine and led an underwater explosives disposal team that removed mines placed by Jewish divers from the Palyam, the maritime force of the Palmach elite Jewish fighting force during the years of Mandatory Palestine. After 1947, he was demobilised from the military.

Civilian diver

Crabb moved to a civilian job and used his diving skills to explore the wreck of a Spanish galleon from the 1588 Armada, off Tobermory on the Isle of Mull. He then located a suitable site for a discharge pipe for the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston. He later returned to work for the Royal Navy. He twice dived to investigate sunken Royal Navy submarines — HMS Truculent in January 1950 and HMS Affray in 1951 — to find out whether there were any survivors. Both efforts proved fruitless.

See: The HMS Truclulent Incident

In 1952, Crabb married Margaret Elaine Player, the daughter of Henry Charles Brackenbury Williamson and the former wife of Ernest Albert Player. The couple separated in 1953 and divorced about two years later.

In 1955 Crabb took frogman Sydney Knowles with him to investigate the hull of a Soviet Sverdlov-class cruiser to evaluate its superior manoeuvrability. According to Knowles, they found a circular opening at the ship’s bow and inside it a large propeller that could be directed to give thrust to the bow. That same year, March 1955, Crabb was made to retire due to his age, but a year later he was recruited by MI6. By this point, Crabb’s heavy drinking and smoking had taken its toll on his health, and Crabb was not the diver that he had been in World War II.

Inside MI5 (Espionage Documentary) | Real Stories

Crabb Affair

Disappearance

The Ordzhonikidze 

Ordzhonikidze was a Sverdlov-class cruiser similar to that shown in this photograph (Alexander Nevsky).

MI6 recruited Crabb in 1956 to investigate the Soviet cruiser Ordzhonikidze that had taken Nikita Khrushchev and Nikolai Bulganin on a diplomatic mission to Britain. According to Peter Wright in his book Spycatcher (1987), Crabb was sent to investigate Ordzhonikidze‘s propeller, a new design that Naval Intelligence wanted to examine. On 19 April 1956, Crabb dived into Portsmouth Harbour and his MI6 controller never saw him again. Crabb’s companion in the Sally Port Hotel took all his belongings and even the page of the hotel register on which they had written their names. Ten days later British newspapers published stories about Crabb’s disappearance in an underwater mission.

Lionel Crabb.jpg
Commander Lionel “Buster” Crabb

MI6 tried to cover up this espionage mission. On 29 April, under instructions from Rear Admiral John Inglis, the Director of Naval Intelligence, the Admiralty announced that Crabb had vanished when he had taken part in trials of secret underwater apparatus in Stokes Bay on the Solent. The Soviets answered by releasing a statement stating that the crew of Ordzhonikidze had seen a frogman near the cruiser on 19 April.

British newspapers speculated that the Soviets had captured Crabb and taken him to the Soviet Union. The British Prime Minister Anthony Eden apparently disapproved of the fact that MI6 had operated without his consent in the UK (the preserve of the Security Service, “MI5”). It is mistakenly claimed that Eden forced director-general John Sinclair to resign following the incident. In fact, he had determined to replace Sinclair with MI5 director-general Dick White before the incident. Eden told MPs it was not in the public interest to disclose the circumstances in which the frogman met his end.

Commander Lionel “Buster” Crabb

Body found

COMMANDER CRABB MYSTERY (1956) PATHE NEWS

A little less than 14 months after Crabb’s disappearance, on 9 June 1957, a body in a diving suit was brought to the surface in their net by two fishermen off Pilsey Island in Chichester Harbour. The body was brought to shore in a landing craft operated by members of RAF Marine Craft Unit No. 1107.

It was missing its head and both hands, which made it impossible to identify (using then-available technology). According to British diving expert Rob Hoole, the body had the same height as Crabb, the same body-hair colour, and was dressed in the same clothes, Pirelli two-piece diving suit and Admiralty Pattern swim fins that Crabb was wearing when he embarked on his final mission. Hoole wrote that given the length of time that Crabb’s body had been in the water, there was “nothing sinister” about the missing head and hands. Crabb’s ex-wife was not sure enough to identify the body, nor was Crabb’s girlfriend, Pat Rose. Sydney Knowles was requested to identify the body shortly after its discovery.

He described the body as being clad in a faded green rubber frogman suit of a type issued to Royal Navy divers, and the remains of a white sweater. The suit had been cut open from the neck to the groin and along both legs, revealing very dark pubic hair.  Knowles examined the body closely, looking for a Y-shaped scar behind the left knee and a prominent scar on the left thigh. He failed to find any scars on the body, and stated that it was not Crabb.

A pathologist, Dr. D. P. King, examined the body and stated in a short report for the inquest that a careful examination of the body failed to reveal any scars or marks of identification.

Inquest

The inquest was opened on 11 June 1957 by Bridgman, who had received the pathologist’s report that there was no way of establishing identification. As neither Knowles nor Crabb’s ex-wife nor a Lieutenant McLanachan, a Royal Navy torpedo officer from HMS Vernon, had been able to identify the body, Bridgman adjourned the inquest until 26 June to allow time for a positive identification.

The inquest was resumed on 26 June. The pathologist, King, gave evidence that he had returned to the mortuary and re-examined the body on 14 June. He reported that he had found a scar in the shape of an inverted Y on the left side of the left knee, and a scar on the left thigh, about the size of a sixpenny coin. King stated that the scar had been photographed whilst he was present.

Fate

Sydney Knowles

As information was declassified under the 50-year rule, new facts on Crabb’s disappearance came to light. On 27 October 2006, the National Archives released papers relating to the fatal Ordzhonikidze mission. Sydney Knowles, a former diving partner of Crabb’s, stated in a televised interview on Inside Out – South on 19 January 2007 that Crabb did not dive alone on his fatal last mission: “He told me they’d given him a buddy diver.” Furthermore, papers released under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that there were other divers investigating Ordzhonikidze while the ship was in Portsmouth Harbour.  On 9 November 2007, The Independent reported how the government had covered up the death of ‘Buster’ Crabb.

The cruiser Ordzhonikidze was later transferred by the Soviet government to Indonesia in 1962, where it operated as KRI Irian. The ship operated in the conflict against the Netherlands over West Papua, and was later used as a floating detention centre for suspected communists during the Indonesian killings of 1965–1966. The cruiser was scrapped in 1971.

Theories and speculations

Died during Soviet interrogation

The spy Harry Houghton wrote a book called Operation Portland after he was released from prison in which he outlined the explanation of Crabb’s death which he claimed to have been given by his Russian handler, a man he knew as Roman, in July 1956. Houghton claims that shortly before the Soviet visit he had been meeting Roman in a pub in Puncknowle, Dorset, and happened to see a friend who worked at the Underwater Detection Establishment with her boyfriend who was a diver. The boyfriend was annoyed that he had been training for something special, which had just been called off. Shortly after hearing this, Roman had cut short the meeting.

According to this account, after guessing that there may be some attempt by divers connected with Ordzhonikidze, the Soviet Navy had arranged for six underwater sentries to watch the bottom of the ship, which had been fitted with wire jackstays on either side to help them hold on to. When Crabb arrived, a struggle ensued in which Crabb’s air supply was turned off and he passed out. He was then hauled on board, and taken to the sick bay (having passed out a second time) and given medical treatment.

When Crabb had recovered sufficiently, the Soviets began to interrogate him; Crabb was making a confession when he collapsed and this time did not recover. The Soviets, aware that they might be accused of causing his death, decided to fix his body lightly to the bottom of the ship so that it came loose once the ship was under way. In the event, the body entangled in something underwater which meant it did not get discovered for fourteen months. Houghton also puts forward the theory that Crabb’s mission was to plant a small limpet mine on Ordzhonikidze whose purpose was to detect whether the Soviet Navy was using the latest sonar technology: if it was, the mine would detonate, and the ship would slow down; if not, the mine would eventually detach and go to the bottom of the sea.

The Crabb Affair (Part 1)

Killed by the Soviets

In a 1990 interview Joseph Zwerkin, a former member of Soviet Naval intelligence who had moved to Israel as the breakup of the Soviet Union, claimed that the Soviets had noticed Crabb in the water and that a Soviet sniper had shot him.

On 16 November 2007, the BBC and the Daily Mirror reported that Eduard Koltsov, a Soviet frogman, claimed to have caught Crabb placing a mine on Ordzhonikidze‘s hull near the ammunition depot and cut his throat. In an interview for a documentary film, Koltsov showed the dagger he allegedly used in a Russian documentary as well as an Order of the Red Star medal that he claimed to have been awarded for the deed. 

Koltsov, 74 at the time of the interview, stated that he wanted to clear his conscience and make known exactly what happened to Crabb. It seems extremely unlikely that the British government would have tried to blow up a Soviet ship on a diplomatic mission while it was anchored in British waters carrying the leaders of the Soviet Union, making Koltsov’s claim of a mine suspect.

A Russian journalist from the military Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper considers Koltsov’s story improbable. In particular the archive documents do not confirm that Koltsov (a city bus driver for 30 years in Rostov-on-Don) was awarded Order of the Red Star or was a Soviet frogman. An account of this event in the Daily Mail says that Buster Crabb may have been planting not an explosive device but a listening device.

Official government documents regarding Crabb’s disappearance are not scheduled to be released until 2057.

Captured, brainwashed, defected or a double agent

Certain Members of Parliament and Michael Hall became concerned about Crabb’s ultimate fate and in 1961, Commander J.S. Kerans (and later in 1964 Marcus Lipton) submitted proposals to re-open the case but were rebuffed. Various people speculated that Crabb had been killed by some secret Soviet underwater weapon; that he had been captured and imprisoned in Lefortovo prison with prison number 147, that he had been brainwashed to work for the Soviet Union to train their frogman teams; that he had defected and became a commander in the Soviet Navy; that he was in the Soviet Special Task Underwater Operational Command in the Black Sea Fleet; or that MI6 had asked him to defect so he could become a double agent.

MI5 theory

On 26 March 2006, The Mail on Sunday published an article by Tim Binding entitled “Buster Crabb was murdered – by MI5”. Binding wrote a fictionalised account of Crabb’s life, Man Overboard which was published by Picador in 2005. Binding stated that, following the book’s publication, he was contacted by Sydney Knowles. Binding alleged that he then met Knowles in Spain and was told that Crabb was known by MI5 to have intentions of defecting to the USSR. This would have been embarrassing for the UK — Crabb being an acknowledged war hero. Knowles has suggested that MI5 set up the mission to the Ordzhonikidze specifically to murder Crabb, and supplied Crabb with a new diving partner who was under orders to kill him.

Binding stated Knowles alleged that he was ordered by MI5 to identify the body found as Crabb, when he knew it was definitely not Crabb. Knowles went along with the deception. Knowles has also alleged that his life was threatened in Torremolinos in 1989, at a time when Knowles was in discussions with a biographer. About the claims that Crabb was planning to defect to the Soviet Union, Reg Vallintine of the Historical Diving Society was quoted as saying:

“Diving historians find it very hard to believe that this man, who prided himself on being a patriot, would have seriously considered defecting. Crabb was very fond of being a hero, and it is hard to imagine him jeopardising that status.”

It is not clear just why MI6 would recruit a man who was known to be planning to defect to the Soviet Union to spy against the Soviet Union or why Crabb would agree to such a mission if he really had decided that he wanted to live in the Soviet Union.

Death by misadventure

The British diving expert Rob Hoole wrote in 2007 that Crabb had probably died of oxygen poisoning or perhaps carbon dioxide poisoning, and that Crabb’s age and poor health caused by his heavy drinking and smoking had made him unsuitable for the mission that he had been assigned. In support of the death by misadventure theory, Hoole noted that before disappearing on his second attempt to dive Ordzhonikidze, Crabb had during his first attempt experienced equipment failure, which suggested that Crabb’s equipment was not up to standard. Crabb’s MI6 officer John Nicholas Rede Elliott always took the view that Crabb had suffered equipment failure and/or his health had given way, and that his reputation had been unfairly dragged through the mud.

Historical media

In a War Documentary Series titled “Secrets Of War,” episode titled “The Cold War. Khrushchev’s Regime” a 1996 interview with former head of the KGB Vladimir Semichastny (who was the first secretary of Komsomol at the time of Crabb’s dissappearance) reported, Crabb’s decapitated body was found floating in the harbour two months after his disappearance. In the interview, Semichastny states that the “Crabb Affair” was handled elegantly.

Grave Commander Lionel “Buster” Crabb



The Silent Enemy Gibraltar 1958

Movie about Lionel Crabb

References in popular culture

  • Crabb’s time in Gibraltar is covered in the film The Silent Enemy (1958), with Laurence Harvey portraying Crabb.
  • Tim Binding’s novel Man Overboard (2005) is a fictional memoir of Crabb, who looks back over his career from a sanatorium in Czechoslovakia, having been seized by the KGB on his final mission for the British.
  • Crabb appears in the first issue of Warren Ellis’ comic Ignition City.
  • John Ainsworth Davis/Christopher Creighton in his thinly disguised fictional account The Krushchev Objective (1987) with co-author Noel Hynd, states he was the second diver with Crabb that thwarted an assassination attempt on the Soviet dictator by defusing limpet mines.
  • The “Crabb affair” inspired Ian Fleming’s James Bond adventure Thunderball.
  • The frogman briefly seen in the Tintin book The Red Sea Sharks was based on a photograph of Crabb.
  • The Crabb affair features in Edward Wilson’s novel “The Envoy” (London, Arcadia Books, 2008)

Other “war” stories/posts

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear “ C.S. Lewis

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear “

C.S. Lewis

Thank you all for being so kind, caring and supportive yesterday, I was truly touched at how many of you reached out to me and it helped lift the gloomy cloud that was hanging over me and I feel much better and more positive today.

Grief for a loved one is never ending and I have been grieving for my dad for over forty years now , a lifetime of sorrow and pain  that can never completely heal.  Most of the time I can deal with it and banish the pain of losing him at such an early age to the dark passages of my soul.

But sometimes it can creep up on me unexpectedly and hit me like a sledgehammer and time stands still as the sadness and sorrow  of missing him engulfs my entire being and the fear of never ending grief  stops me dead in my tracks .

That was the case yesterday and I suppose I should have expected it with the anniversary of his death approaching and also rereading  through the chapters of my book which deal with his death was not the smartest move on my part in hindsight.

Anyways Im feeling much better now with the support of wifey and the kids and just wanted to say thank you to all of you who reached out to me yesterday.

Thank you.

Princess Anne Kidnapping Attempt: 20th March 1974

Princess Anne

Kidnapping attempt 20th March 1974

As Princess Anne and Mark Phillips were returning to Buckingham Palace on 20 March 1974, from a charity event on Pall Mall, their Princess IV car was forced to stop on the Mall by a Ford Escort. The driver of the Escort, Ian Ball, jumped out and began firing a pistol. 

Balls car pulled up in front of Royal Limousine
Royal Crime Scene : News Photo

Inspector James Beaton, Anne’s personal police officer, responded by exiting the car in order to shield her and to attempt to disarm Ball. However, Beaton’s firearm, a Walther PPK, jammed, and he was shot by the assailant, as was Anne’s chauffeur, Alex Callender, when he tried to disarm Ball.

Inspector James Beaton,

Brian McConnell, a nearby tabloid journalist, also intervened, and was shot in the chest. Ball approached Anne’s car and told her that he intended to kidnap her and hold her for ransom, the sum given by varying sources as £2 million or £3 million, which he claimed he intended to give to the National Health Service. Ball told Anne to get out of the car, to which she replied: “Not bloody likely!”, and reportedly briefly considered hitting Ball.

Kidnap Attempt Journalist : News Photo
Princess Anne visiting journalist Brian McConnell at St George’s Hospital in London after he was shot in the chest while attempting to intervene during the attempt to kidnap the Princess in the Mall, 25th March 1974. (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Eventually, she exited the other side of the limousine as had her lady-in-waiting, Rowena Brassey. A passing pedestrian, a former boxer named Ron Russell, punched Ball in the back of the head and led Anne away from the scene. At that point, Police Constable Michael Hills happened upon the situation; he too was shot by Ball, but he had already called for police backup. Detective Constable Peter Edmonds, who had been nearby, answered, gave chase, and finally arrested Ball.

Beaton, Hills, Callender, and McConnell were hospitalised, and all recovered from their wounds. For his defence of Princess Anne, Beaton was awarded the George Cross by the Queen, who was visiting Indonesia when the incident occurred; Hills and Russell were awarded the George Medal, and Callender, McConnell, and Edmonds were awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal.

Anne visited Beaton in hospital and thanked him for his assistance.

Princess Anne visiting Jim Beaton at Westminster Hosptial

How I took 3 bullets for Princess Anne – Witness – BBC News

In 1984, the princess spoke about the event on Parkinson saying she was ‘scrupulously polite’ to her would-be kidnapper as she thought it would be ‘silly to be too rude at that stage’.

Princess Anne talks on 1974 kidnap attempt

Ball pleaded guilty to attempted murder and kidnapping. He was still detained under the Mental Health Act as of 2019, at Broadmoor Hospital

Ian Ball, 26, arrives at court where he was charged with the attempted murder of Princess Anne’s bodyguard.
 Ian Ball, 26, arrives at court where he was charged with the attempted murder of Princess Anne’s bodyguard. Photograph: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive

More information on: Ian Ball

Main source : wikipedia.org

Britain’s Most Notorious Psychiatric Hospital (Prison Documentary) | Real Stories

Frank Sheeran – The (real) Irish Man , life & death

Frank Sheeran

The (real) Irish Man , life & death

Frank Sheeran (left) & with fellow Teamsters organisers at his first job in Detroit.

Francis Joseph Sheeran (October 25, 1920 – December 14, 2003), known as Frank “the Irishman” Sheeran, was an American labor union official who was accused of having links to the Bufalino crime family in his capacity as a high-ranking official in the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), the president of Local 326.

Sheeran was a leading figure in the corruption of unions by organized crime. In 1980, he was convicted of labor racketeering and sentenced to 32 years in prison, of which he served 13 years. Shortly before his death, he claimed to have killed Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa in 1975. Author Charles Brandt detailed what Sheeran told him about Hoffa in the narrative nonfiction work I Heard You Paint Houses (2004).

The truthfulness of the book has been disputed by some, including Sheeran’s confessions to killing Hoffa and Joe Gallo. The book is the basis for the 2019 film The Irishman directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran and Al Pacino as Hoffa.

The Irishman Explained | The Reel Story

My thoughts:

Well I watched The Irish Man yesterday evening, all three and a half of it and to be completely honest I thought it was a load of rubbish and a waste of three and a half hours of my life i’ll never get back. Its not a patch on Goodfellas or The God Father and the constant flash backs to when the main players were younger was to say the least completely off putting and unbelievable in the extreme. They looked and moved like the elder actors they are and it was painful watching these icons of gangsters movies having to shame themselves in this manner. Plus, the story line and the dialogue were abysmal and so far removed from the true events that reality had to be suspended and I had to force myself to sit through the whole sorry mess until the bitter , disappointing end.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Early life

Sheeran was born and raised in DarbyPennsylvania, a small working-class borough on the outskirts of Philadelphia. He was the son of Thomas Francis Sheeran Jr. and Mary Agnes Hanson.  His father was of Irish descent, while his mother was of Swedish descent.

World War II

Sheeran enlisted in the Army in August 1941, did his basic training near Biloxi, Mississippi, and was assigned to the military police. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, he volunteered for training in the Army Airborne at Fort BenningGeorgia, but he dislocated his shoulder and was transferred to the 45th Infantry Division, known as “The Thunderbirds” and “The Killer Division”. On July 14, 1943, he set sail for North Africa.

Sheeran served 411 days of combat duty—a significant length of time, as the average was around 100 days. His first experience of combat was during the Italian Campaign, including the invasion of Sicily, the Salerno landings, and the Anzio Campaign. He then served in the landings in southern France[11] and the invasion of Germany.

Sheeran said:

All in all, I had fifty days lost under AWOL—absent without official leave—mostly spent drinking red wine and chasing Italian, French, and German women. However, I was never AWOL when my outfit was going back to the front lines. If you were AWOL when your unit was going back into combat you might as well keep going because one of your own officers would blow you away and they didn’t even have to say it was the Germans. That’s desertion in the face of the enemy.

War crimes

Sheeran recalled his war service as the time when he developed a callousness to taking human life. He claimed to have participated in numerous massacres and summary executions of German POWs, acts which violated the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 and the 1929 Geneva Convention on POWs. In interviews with Charles Brandt, he divided such massacres into four categories:

  1. Revenge killings in the heat of battle. Sheeran told Brandt that a German soldier had just killed his close friends and then tried to surrender, but he chose to “send him to hell, too”. He described often witnessing similar behavior by fellow GIs.
  2. Orders from unit commanders during a mission. Sheeran described his first murder for organized crime: “It was just like when an officer would tell you to take a couple of German prisoners back behind the line and for you to ‘hurry back’. You did what you had to do.”
  3. The Dachau reprisals and other reprisal killings of concentration camp guards and trustee inmates.
  4. Calculated attempts to dehumanize and degrade German POWs. Sheeran’s unit was climbing the Harz Mountains when they came upon a Wehrmacht mule train carrying food and drink up the mountainside. The female cooks were allowed to leave unmolested, then Sheeran and his fellow GI’s “ate what we wanted and soiled the rest with our waste”. Then the Wehrmacht mule drivers were given shovels and ordered to “dig their own shallow graves”. Sheeran joked that they did so without complaint, likely hoping that he and his buddies would change their minds. But the mule drivers were shot and buried in the holes they had dug. Sheeran explained that by then, he “had no hesitation in doing what I had to do.”

Discharge and post-war

Sheeran
Sheeran with family

Sheeran was discharged from the army on October 24, 1945. He later recalled that it was “a day before my twenty-fifth birthday, but only according to the calendar.” Upon returning from his army service, Sheeran married Mary Leddy, an Irish immigrant. The couple had three daughters, MaryAnne, Dolores, and Peggy, but divorced in 1968. Sheeran then married Irene Gray, with whom he had one daughter, Connie.

Organized crime and the Teamsters Union

When he left the service, Sheeran became a meat driver for Food Fair, and he met Russell Bufalino in 1955 when Bufalino offered to help him fix his truck, and later worked jobs driving him around and making deliveries. Sheeran also operated out of a bar located in Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania which was run by Bill Distanisloa, a soldier for Angelo Bruno.

Sheeran’s first murder was killing Whispers DiTullio, a gangster who had hired him to destroy the Cadillac Linen Service in Delaware for $10,000. Sheeran did not know, however, that Angelo Bruno had a large stake in the linen service. Sheeran was spotted outside the business in Delaware and was brought in for questioning. Bufalino had convinced Bruno to spare Sheeran, but he ordered Sheeran to kill DiTullio as retribution.

Sheeran was also suspected of the murder of Joe Gallo at Umberto’s Clam House on April 7, 1972.

Bufalino introduced Sheeran to Teamsters International President Jimmy Hoffa. Hoffa became a close friend and used Sheeran for muscle, including the assassination of recalcitrant union members and members of rival unions threatening the Teamsters’ turf. According to Sheeran, the first conversation that he had with Hoffa was over the phone, where Hoffa started by saying, “I heard you paint houses”—a mob code meaning “I heard that you kill people”, the “paint” being spattered blood.

Sheeran later became acting president of Local 326 of the Teamsters Union in Wilmington, Delaware.

Sheeran was charged in 1972 with the 1967 murder of Robert DeGeorge, who was killed in a shootout in front of Local 107 headquarters. The case was dismissed, however, on the grounds that Sheeran had been denied a speedy trial. He was also alleged to have conspired to murder Francis J. Marino in 1976, a Philadelphia labor organizer, and Frederick John Gawronski, killed the same year in a tavern in New Castle, Delaware.

Prison and death

Sheeran was indicted along with six others in July 1980, on charges involving his links to the labor leasing businesses controlled by Eugene Boffa Sr. of Hackensack, New Jersey. On October 31, 1980, Sheeran was found guilty of 11 charges of labor racketeering. He was sentenced to a 32-year prison term and served 13 years.

Sheeran died of cancer on December 14, 2003, aged 83, in a nursing home in West Chester, Pennsylvania. He was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Yeadon, Pennsylvania.

Hoffa death

The Sinister Disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa

Charles Brandt claims in I Heard You Paint Houses (2004) that Sheeran confessed to killing Hoffa. According to Brandt’s account, Chuckie O’Brien drove Sheeran, Hoffa, and fellow mobster Sal Briguglio to a house in Metro Detroit. O’Brien and Briguglio drove off and Sheeran and Hoffa went into the house, where Sheeran claims that he shot Hoffa twice in the back of the head. Sheeran says that he was told that Hoffa was cremated after the murder. Sheeran also confessed to reporters that he murdered Hoffa.

Bill Tonelli disputes the book’s truthfulness in his Slate article “The Lies of the Irishman”, as does Harvard Law School professor Jack Goldsmith in “Jimmy Hoffa and ‘The Irishman’: A True Crime Story?” which appeared in The New York Review of Books.

Blood stains were found in the Detroit house where Sheeran claimed that the murder happened, but they were determined not to match Hoffa’s DNA.  The FBI continues its attempts to connect Sheeran to the murder, retesting the blood and floorboards with latest advancements in forensics.

Biographical film

The book is the basis for the 2019 film The Irishman directed by Martin Scorsese. Scorsese was long interested in directing a film about Sheeran’s life and his alleged involvement in the slaying of Hoffa. Steven Zaillian is the screenwriter and co-producer Robert De Niro portrays Sheeran, with Al Pacino as Hoffa, and Joe Pesci as Bufalino.[The film had its world premiere at the New York Film Festival on September 27, 2019, and was released on November 1, 2019, with digital streaming that started on November 27, 2019, via Netflix.

Main Source : Wikipedia Frank Sheeran

“The Irishman” Official Documentary

Other gangster posts

My Book Update , sad to say publication has been delayed due to …..

Howdy Blog followers…

My Book update , Im gutted !! I’m sad to let you all know that due to the Coronavirus crisis publication of my book has been delayed for at least five months , see below for more details.

I’m more than a little disappointed to let you all know due to the Coronavirus & the chaos it is causing worldwide the launch date for my book has been put back until September 3rd, a delay of more than five months.

The publishers believe that persisting with the planned April date would be highly detrimental to the book’s prospects.

Many of Ireland’s bookshops are closing at the moment and expecting to remain closed through April. Retailers Eason, Argosy, Dubray and WHS Travel have cut their orders dramatically in light of the ongoing crisis, and Irish WHS Travel have cancelled all their Irish orders for April.

Apparently twenty-five book retailers in Ireland have closed their doors until further notice.

Amazon are also having enormous issues meeting demand and are currently prioritising medical and home supplies over things like books, so many soon-to-be-released and new books currently don’t have a ‘Buy’ button on the page. As does my own. This may only get worse as the problem deepens.

 The proposed publication date will now be 3 September. I’ll keep you all posted on here!

It’s not the first time a major global event has thrown a spanner in the works for me. The week Princess Di so tragically died a national Newspaper had done a massive feature of my story for publication in the Sunday papers and I was bracing myself for the interest that would generate. In the event Princess Di’s death rightly dominated the press and my feature was kicked into the long grass.

Social Distancing Global Champion

Unexplained Videos That Will Give You Chills

The Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre – 14th Feb 1929

The Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre 14th Feb 1929

The Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre was the 1929 Valentine’s Day murder of seven members and associates of Chicago’s North Side Gang. The men were gathered at a Lincoln Park garage on the morning of Valentine’s Day. They were lined up against a wall and shot by four unknown assailants who were dressed like police officers. The incident resulted from the struggle to control organized crime in the city during Prohibition between the Irish North Siders, headed by George “Bugs” Moran, and their Italian South Side rivals led by Al Capone.

The perpetrators have never been conclusively identified, but former members of the Egan’s Rats gang working for Capone are suspected of a significant role, as are members of the Chicago Police Department who allegedly wanted revenge for the killing of a police officer’s son.

The Massacre

Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre – Al Capone, George ‘Bugs’ Moran and the Irish North Side Gang

At 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, February 14, 1929, seven men were murdered at the garage at 2122 North Clark Street,  in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago’s North Side. They were shot by four men using weapons that included two Thompson submachine guns. Two of the shooters were dressed as uniformed policemen, while the others wore suits, ties, overcoats, and hats. Witnesses saw the fake police leading the other men at gunpoint out of the garage after the shooting.

The victims included five members of George “Bugs” Moran‘s North Side Gang. Moran’s second in command and brother-in-law Albert Kachellek (alias James Clark) was killed along with Adam Heyer, the gang’s bookkeeper and business manager, Albert Weinshank, who managed several cleaning and dyeing operations for Moran, and gang enforcers Frank Gusenberg and Peter Gusenberg.

Two collaborators were also shot: Reinhardt H. Schwimmer, a former optician turned gambler and gang associate, and John May, an occasional mechanic for the Moran gang. Real Chicago police officers arrived at the scene to find that victim Frank Gusenberg was still alive. He was taken to the hospital, where doctors stabilized him for a short time and police tried to question him. He had sustained 14 bullet wounds; the police asked him who did it, and he replied, “No one shot me.” He died three hours later.

Al Capone was widely assumed to have been responsible for ordering the 1929 Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre in an attempt to eliminate Bugs Moran, head of the North Side Gang. Moran was the last survivor of the North Side gunmen; his succession had come about because his similarly aggressive predecessors Vincent Drucci and Hymie Weiss had been killed in the violence that followed the murder of original leader Dean O’Banion.

Al Capone was widely assumed to have been responsible for ordering the 1929 Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre in an attempt to eliminate Bugs Moran, head of the North Side Gang. Moran was the last survivor of the North Side gunmen; his succession had come about because his similarly aggressive predecessors Vincent Drucci and Hymie Weiss had been killed in the violence that followed the murder of original leader Dean O’Banion.

Several factors contributed to the timing of the plan to kill Moran. Earlier in the year, North Sider Frank Gusenberg and his brother Peter unsuccessfully attempted to murder Jack McGurn. The North Side Gang was complicit in the murders of Pasqualino “Patsy” Lolordo and Antonio “The Scourge” Lombardo. Both had been presidents of the Unione Siciliana, the local Mafia, and close associates of Capone. Moran and Capone had been vying for control of the lucrative Chicago bootlegging trade. Moran had also been muscling in on a Capone-run dog track in the Chicago suburbs, and he had taken over several saloons that were run by Capone, insisting that they were in his territory.

The plan was to lure Moran to the SMC Cartage warehouse on North Clark Street on February 14, 1929 to kill him and perhaps two or three of his lieutenants. It is usually assumed that the North Siders were lured to the garage with the promise of a stolen, cut-rate shipment of whiskey, supplied by Detroit’s Purple Gang which was associated with Capone. The Gusenberg brothers were supposed to drive two empty trucks to Detroit that day to pick up two loads of stolen Canadian whiskey. All of the victims were dressed in their best clothes, with the exception of John May, as was customary for the North Siders and other gangsters at the time.

Most of the Moran gang arrived at the warehouse by approximately 10:30 a.m. on Valentine’s Day, but Moran was not there, having left his Parkway Hotel apartment late. He and fellow gang member Ted Newberry approached the rear of the warehouse from a side street when they saw a police car approaching the building. They immediately turned and retraced their steps, going to a nearby coffee shop. They encountered gang member Henry Gusenberg on the street and warned him, so also he turned back. North Side Gang member Willie Marks also spotted the police car on his way to the garage, and he ducked into a doorway and jotted down the license number before leaving the neighborhood.

Capone’s lookouts likely mistook one of Moran’s men for Moran himself, probably Albert Weinshank, who was the same height and build. The physical similarity between the two men was enhanced by their dress that morning; both happened to be wearing the same color overcoats and hats. Witnesses outside the garage saw a Cadillac sedan pull to a stop in front of the garage. Four men emerged and walked inside, two of them dressed in police uniform. The two fake police officers carried shotguns and entered the rear portion of the garage, where they found members of Moran’s gang and collaborators Reinhart Schwimmer and John May, who was fixing one of the trucks.

The Guns of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

The fake policemen then ordered the men to line up against the wall. They then signaled to the pair in civilian clothes who had accompanied them. Two of the killers opened fire with Thompson sub-machine guns, one with a 20-round box magazine and the other a 50-round drum. They were thorough, spraying their victims left and right, even continuing to fire after all seven had hit the floor. Two shotgun blasts afterward all but obliterated the faces of John May and James Clark, according to the coroner’s report.

To give the appearance that everything was under control, the men in street clothes came out with their hands up, prodded by the two uniformed policemen. Inside the garage, the only survivors in the warehouse were May’s dog “Highball” and Frank Gusenberg—despite 14 bullet wounds. He was still conscious, but he died three hours later, refusing to utter a word about the identities of the killers. The Valentine’s Day Massacre set off a public outcry which posed a problem for all mob bosses.

Victims

  • Peter Gusenberg, a front-line enforcer for the Moran organizations
  • Frank Gusenberg, the brother of Peter Gusenberg and also an enforcer
  • Albert Kachellek (alias “James Clark”), Moran’s second in command
  • Adam Heyer, the bookkeeper and business manager of the Moran gang
  • Reinhardt Schwimmer, an optician who had abandoned his practice to gamble on horse racing and associate with the gang
  • Albert Weinshank, who managed several cleaning and dyeing operations for Moran; his resemblance to Moran is allegedly what set the massacre in motion before Moran arrived, including the clothes that he was wearing
  • John May, an occasional car mechanic for the Moran gang[8]

Investigation

Within days, Capone received a summons to testify before a Chicago grand jury on charges of federal Prohibition violations, but he claimed to be too unwell to attend.

The Purple Gang

It was common knowledge that Moran was hijacking Capone’s Detroit-based liquor shipments, and police focused their attention on Detroit’s predominantly Jewish Purple Gang. Landladies Mrs. Doody and Mrs. Orvidson had taken in three men as roomers ten days before the massacre, and their rooming houses were directly across the street from the Clark Street garage. They picked out mug shots of Purple members George Lewis, Eddie Fletcher, Phil Keywell, and his younger brother Harry, but they later wavered in their identification. The police questioned and cleared Fletcher, Lewis, and Harry Keywell. Nevertheless, the Keywell brothers (and by extension the Purple Gang) remained ensnared in the massacre case for all time. Many also believed what the killers wanted them to believe: that the police did it.

On February 22, police were called to the scene of a garage fire on Wood Street where they found a 1927 Cadillac Sedan disassembled and partially burned, and they determined that the killers had used the car. They traced the engine number to a Michigan Avenue dealer who had sold the car to a James Morton of Los Angeles.

Claude Maddox

The garage had been rented by a man calling himself Frank Rogers, who gave his address as 1859 West North Avenue. This was the address of the Circus Café operated by Claude Maddox, a former St. Louis gangster with ties to the Capone gang, the Purple Gang, and a St. Louis gang called Egan’s Rats. Police could not turn up any information about persons named James Morton or Frank Rogers, but they had a definite lead on one of the killers. Just minutes before the killings, a truck driver named Elmer Lewis had turned a corner a block away from 2122 North Clark and sideswiped a police car.

He told police that he stopped immediately but was waved away by the uniformed driver, who was missing a front tooth. Board of Education president H. Wallace Caldwell had witnessed the accident, and he gave the same description of the driver. Police were confident that they were describing Fred Burke, a former member of Egan’s Rats. Burke and a close companion named James Ray were known to wear police uniforms whenever on a robbery spree. Burke was also a fugitive, under indictment for robbery and murder in Ohio. Police also suggested that Joseph Lolordo could have been one of the killers because of his brother Pasqualino’s recent murder by the North Side Gang.

Police then announced that they suspected Capone gunmen John Scalise and Albert Anselmi, as well as Jack McGurn and Frank Rio, a Capone bodyguard. Police eventually charged McGurn and Scalise with the massacre. Capone murdered John Scalise, Anselmi, and Joseph “Hop Toad” Giunta in May 1929 after he learned about their plan to kill him. The police dropped the murder charges against Jack McGurn because of a lack of evidence, and he was just charged with a violation of the Mann Act; he took his girlfriend Louise Rolfe across state lines to marry.

The case stagnated until December 14, 1929, when the Berrien County, Michigan Sheriff’s Department raided the St. Joseph, Michigan bungalow of “Frederick Dane”, the registered owner of a vehicle driven by Fred “Killer” Burke. Burke had been drinking that night, then rear-ended another vehicle and drove off. Patrolman Charles Skelly pursued, finally forcing him off the road. Skelly hopped onto the running board of Burke’s car, but he was shot three times and died of his wounds that night. The car was found wrecked and abandoned just outside St. Joseph and traced to Fred Dane. By this time, police photos confirmed that Dane was in fact Fred Burke, wanted by the Chicago police for his participation in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

Thompson submachine guns,

Police raided Burke’s bungalow and found a large trunk containing a bullet-proof vest, almost $320,000 in bonds recently stolen from a Wisconsin bank, two Thompson submachine guns, pistols, two shotguns, and thousands of rounds of ammunition. St. Joseph authorities immediately notified the Chicago police, who requested both machine guns. They used the new science of forensic ballistics to identify both weapons as those used in the massacre. They also discovered that one of them had also been used to murder New York mobster Frankie Yale a year and a half earlier. Unfortunately, no further concrete evidence surfaced in the massacre case. Burke was captured over a year later on a Missouri farm. The case against him was strongest in connection to the murder of Officer Skelly, so he was tried in Michigan and subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment. He died in prison in 1940.

The Real Scarface: Al Capone (Full Documentary)

See: Wikipedia Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre for more details

The Spanish Flu “The greatest medical holocaust in history”

The Spanish Flu

The 1918 influenza pandemic (January 1918 – December 1920; colloquially known as Spanish flu)

The 1918 influenza pandemic (January 1918 – December 1920; colloquially known as Spanish flu) was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic, the first of the two pandemics involving H1N1 influenza virus, with the second being the swine flu in 2009.  It infected 500 million people around the world, or about 27% of the then world population of about 1.8 billion, including people on remote Pacific islands and in the Arctic. The death toll is estimated to have been 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million (about 3 to 6 percent of Earth’s population at the time), making it one of the deadliest epidemics in human history.  Historical and epidemiological data are inadequate to identify with certainty the pandemic’s geographic origin.

Infectious diseases already limited life expectancy in the early 20th century, but life expectancy in the United States dropped by about 12 years in the first year of the pandemic. Most influenza outbreaks disproportionately kill the very young and the very old, with a higher survival rate for those in-between. However, the Spanish flu pandemic resulted in a higher than expected mortality rate for young adults.

To maintain morale, wartime censors minimized early reports of illness and mortality in Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and the United States. Papers were free to report the epidemic’s effects in neutral Spain (such as the grave illness of King Alfonso XIII). These stories created a false impression of Spain as especially hard hit,[13] thereby giving rise to the pandemic’s nickname, “Spanish flu”.

Scientists offer several possible explanations for the high mortality rate of the 1918 influenza pandemic. Some analyses have shown the virus to be particularly deadly because it triggers a cytokine storm, which ravages the stronger immune system of young adults. In contrast, a 2007 analysis of medical journals from the period of the pandemic found that the viral infection was no more aggressive than previous influenza strains. Instead, malnourishment, overcrowded medical camps and hospitals, and poor hygiene promoted bacterial superinfection. This superinfection killed most of the victims, typically after a somewhat prolonged death bed

1918 Spanish Flu historical documentary

History

Hypotheses about the source

The major troop staging and hospital camp in Étaples, France, was identified by researchers as being at the center of the Spanish flu. The research was published in 1999 by a British team, led by virologist John Oxford.[20] In late 1917, military pathologists reported the onset of a new disease with high mortality that they later recognized as the flu. The overcrowded camp and hospital was an ideal site for the spreading of a respiratory virus.

The hospital treated thousands of victims of chemical attacks, and other casualties of war. 100,000 soldiers were in transit through the camp every day. It also was home to a live piggery, and poultry was regularly brought in for food supplies from surrounding villages. Oxford and his team postulated that a significant precursor virus, harbored in birds, mutated and then migrated to pigs kept near the front.

There have been claims that the epidemic originated in the United States. Historian Alfred W. Crosby claimed that the flu originated in Kansas, and popular author John Barry described Haskell County, Kansas, as the point of origin. It has also been claimed that, by late 1917, there had already been a first wave of the epidemic in at least 14 US military camps.

One of the few regions of the world that were seemingly less affected by the 1918 flu pandemic was China, where there may have been a comparatively mild flu season in 1918 (although this is disputed, see #Less-affected areas). There were relatively few deaths from the flu in China compared to other regions of the world. This has led to speculation that the 1918 flu pandemic originated from the country of China itself.

The relatively mild flu season and lower rates of flu mortality in China in 1918 may be explained due to the fact that the Chinese population had already possessed acquired immunity to the flu virus. Thus in 1918, China was spared from the worst ravages of the pandemic, due to the apparent greater resistance to the virus among the Chinese population compared to other regions of the world

Earlier hypotheses put forward varying points of origin for the epidemic. Some hypothesized that the flu originated in East Asia, a common area for transmission of disease from animals to humans because of dense living conditions. In 1993, Claude Hannoun, the leading expert on the 1918 flu for the Pasteur Institute, asserted the former virus was likely to have come from China. It then mutated in the United States near Boston and from there spread to Brest, France, Europe’s battlefields, Europe, and the world with Allied soldiers and sailors as the main disseminators.

He considered several other hypotheses of origin, such as Spain, Kansas and Brest, as being possible, but not likely.

Political scientist Andrew Price-Smith published data from the Austrian archives suggesting the influenza had earlier origins, beginning in Austria in early 1917.

In 2014, historian Mark Humphries argued that the mobilization of 96,000 Chinese laborers to work behind the British and French lines might have been the source of the pandemic. Humphries, of the Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s, based his conclusions on newly unearthed records. He found archival evidence that a respiratory illness that struck northern China in November 1917 was identified a year later by Chinese health officials as identical to the Spanish flu.

A report published in 2016 in the Journal of the Chinese Medical Association found no evidence that the 1918 virus was imported to Europe via Chinese and Southeast Asian soldiers and workers. It found evidence that the virus had been circulating in the European armies for months and possibly years before the 1918 pandemic.

Spread

When an infected person sneezes or coughs, more than half a million virus particles can spread to those nearby. The close quarters and massive troop movements of World War I hastened the pandemic, and probably both increased transmission and augmented mutation. The war may also have increased the lethality of the virus. Some speculate the soldiers’ immune systems were weakened by malnourishment, as well as the stresses of combat and chemical attacks, increasing their susceptibility.

A large factor in the worldwide occurrence of this flu was increased travel. Modern transportation systems made it easier for soldiers, sailors, and civilian travelers to spread the disease.

In the United States, the disease was first observed in Haskell County, Kansas, in January 1918, prompting local doctor Loring Miner to warn the U.S. Public Health Service‘s academic journal. On 4 March 1918, company cook Albert Gitchell, from Haskell County, reported sick at Fort Riley, an American military facility that at the time was training American troops during World War I, making him the first recorded victim of the flu. Within days, 522 men at the camp had reported sick.

By 11 March 1918, the virus had reached Queens, New York. Failure to take preventive measures in March/April was later criticised.

In August 1918, a more virulent strain appeared simultaneously in Brest, France; in Freetown, Sierra Leone; and in the U.S. in Boston, Massachusetts. The Spanish flu also spread through Ireland, carried there by returning Irish soldiers. The Allies of World War I came to call it the Spanish flu, primarily because the pandemic received greater press attention after it moved from France to Spain in November 1918. Spain was not involved in the war and had not imposed wartime censorship.

Mortality

“In terms of single events causing major loss of life, it surpassed the First World War (17 million dead), the Second World War (60 million dead), and possibly both put together. It was the greatest tidal wave of death since the Black Death, perhaps in the whole of human history.” Laura SpinneyPale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World

See: Wikipedia Spanish Flu

Coronavirus

coronavirus is one of a number of viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. In humans, the viruses cause respiratory infections, including the common cold, which are typically mild, though rarer forms such as SARSMERS and 2019-nCoV can be lethal. Symptoms vary in other species: in chickens, they cause an upper respiratory disease, while in cows and pigs coronaviruses cause diarrhea. There are no vaccines or antiviral drugs to prevent or treat human coronavirus infections.

Coronaviruses are in the subfamily Orthocoronavirinae in the family Coronaviridae, in the order Nidovirales. They are enveloped viruses with a positive-sense single-stranded RNA genome and a nucleocapsid of helical symmetry. The genome size of coronaviruses ranges from approximately 26 to 32 kilobases, the largest for an RNA virus.

The name “coronavirus” is derived from the Latin corona, meaning crown or halo, which refers to the characteristic appearance of the virus particles (virions): they have a fringe reminiscent of a crown or of a solar corona.

Coronavirus fake news infects the media 

See: Wikipedia Coronavirus for more details

Black Death

The Black Death, also known as the Pestilence (Pest for short), the Great Plague or the Plague, or less commonly the Black Plague, was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people in Eurasia, peaking in Europe from 1347 to 1351.[1][2][3] The bacterium Yersinia pestis, which results in several forms of plague (septicemic, pneumonic and, the most common, bubonic) is believed to have been the cause.[4] The Black Death was the first major European outbreak of plague and the second plague pandemic.[5] The plague created a number of religious, social and economic upheavals, with profound effects on the course of European history.

The Black Death is thought to have originated in the dry plains of Central Asia or East Asia, where it travelled along the Silk Road, reaching Crimea by 1343. From there, it was most likely carried by fleas living on the black rats that traveled on all merchant ships, spreading throughout the Mediterranean Basin and Europe.

The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30% to 60% of Europe’s population. In total, the plague may have reduced the world population from an estimated 475 million to 350–375 million in the 14th century. It took 200 years for the world population to recover to its previous level. The plague recurred as outbreaks in Europe until the 19th century.

BBC Documentary THE BLACK DEATH

Chronology

Origins of the disease

Main article: Black Death migration

The plague disease, caused by Yersinia pestis, is enzootic (commonly present) in populations of fleas carried by ground rodents, including marmots, in various areas, including Central AsiaKurdistanWestern AsiaNorth India, and Uganda. Due to climate change in Asia, rodents began to flee the dried-out grasslands to more populated areas, spreading the disease. Nestorian graves dating to 1338–1339 near Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan have inscriptions referring to plague and are thought by many epidemiologists to mark the outbreak of the epidemic, from which it could easily have spread to China and India. In October 2010, medical geneticists suggested that all three of the great waves of the plague originated in China.

The 13th-century Mongol conquest of China caused a decline in farming and trading. Economic recovery had been observed at the beginning of the fourteenth century. In the 1330s, many natural disasters and plagues led to widespread famine, starting in 1331, with a deadly plague arriving soon after.  Epidemics that may have included the plague killed an estimated 25 million Chinese and other Asians during the fifteen years before it reached Constantinople in 1347.

The disease may have travelled along the Silk Road with Mongol armies and traders or it could have arrived via ship. By the end of 1346, reports of plague had reached the seaports of Europe: “India was depopulated, TartaryMesopotamiaSyriaArmenia were covered with dead bodies”.

Plague was reportedly first introduced to Europe via Genoese traders from the port city of Kaffa in the Crimea in 1347.  During a protracted siege of the city by the Mongol army under Jani Beg, whose army was suffering from the disease, the army catapulted infected corpses over the city walls of Kaffa to infect the inhabitants. The Genoese traders fled, taking the plague by ship into Sicily and the south of Europe, whence it spread north.[20] Whether or not this hypothesis is accurate, it is clear that several existing conditions such as war, famine, and weather contributed to the severity of the Black Death. Among many other culprits of plague contagiousness malnutrition even if distantly also had an effect as a contributor to such an immense loss in European population since it lead to weakened immune systems. 

See: Wikipedia Black Death

5 Diseases That Could Kill You In 24 Hours


Youngster gets E.coli after park lake swim

Here’s a story about my son Jude, now 12 who contacted E Coli from local river.

Jude Chambers, four, has been suffering with E.coli for three weeks, with his mother Simone
Jude and the wife

A Leyland youngster who enjoyed a paddle in the water at a beauty spot ended up being struck down with the E.coli bug.

Jude Chambers, four, of Great Park Drive, went to Cuerden Valley Park with his parents Steve and Simone three weeks ago.

Mum Simone, 39, who also has a daughter Autumn, said: “Jude had been paddling in the stream on both the Friday and the Saturday and on the Monday, he began complaining of stomach cramps and vomiting.

“A couple of days later, he began suffering from diarrhoea which kept getting worse and became uncontrollable.”

When Jude’s condition worsened, his parents took a sample to the doctor for testing and the following day, they received a telephone call telling them Jude had E.Coli and to take him to Royal Preston Hospital.

Simone, who is a ballet and contempary dancer and teacher, said: “When you first hear the word E-coli, you start thinking really horrible things and we were really upset and worried about Jude.

“Royal Preston Hospital carried out tests to check Jude’s kidneys and liver were affected. Luckily, they weren’t and we were allowed to take him home.

“He carried on suffering from the diarrhoea for a week and he is now a lot better, although he gets very tired and still gets stomach pains.

“However, we have sent three samples for testing and he is still testing positive for E.coli three weeks on.

“Health protection experts came to our home and after hearing that Jude had been paddling in the water, they suspect he got the E.Coli from the water.”

Jude is a pupil at Lever House Primary School in Leyland, but has not been to school since becoming ill.

See : Leyland Guardian for full story

Whats on my mind ……?

I need to chill , the daily grind of everyday life gets a little boring sometimes , esp after 53 years of many crazy highs and at times epic lows .But I’ve got to be grateful for what I have. I know my life although far from perfect is much better than many others . Thank god for small mercies.

Hospital appointment tomorrow morning for over active thyroid , I ain’t complaining about it but my god I didn’t even know it was a thing until they found I had it after some blood tests. I knew there was something not quite right , but took ages to diagnose. Caused me loads of problems , mostly with my eyes which is kind of scary ,chronic tiredness , weight …..

Wifey going to Goa on Friday to teach yoga and go to a yoga retreat. I was invited along but not my kind of thing,. To be sure I like the philosophy of it all , just not bendy enough to do most of the moves. Might take up tai chi , that’s more my style. hee he.

She’s away for nine days so I’ll be in charge of the kids, two cats , one with only three legs and two very nervous goldfish. Hope I don’t drink myself to death. I wonder if she’ll make me a curry before she goes.. Hmmmm…

Wondering if I can be arsed joining the local astronomy club , or should I wait until spring/summer ? Star gazing is something I really enjoy, I have a telescope and all the equipment , but when no one else in the family is interested in sitting in the garden in the middle of winter in the dark and cold it can become quite a lonely venture. .Tried to get son interested, but he’s a teenager now, thinks he’s a gangster and hates me at least five times a day at the mo.

Wondering if that big asteroid gonna destroy the Earth and when we’ll ever hear the end of the harry and Meghan debate. Snzzzz……….

Worried and anxious about my forthcoming book , its a massive thing for me and I’m about to go down the rabbit hole and have no idea what I’ll find down there.

Considering if it would be a good idea to have a gin.

And finally Im testing out some new features on my blog and wanted to see how they all worked and looked , hence this boring post!

My autobiography: A Belfast Child is now available to order on line

Hi folks

Just a quick post to let you know my book: A Belfast Child is now avaiable on line from Amazon , see link below for details and how to order.

Cheers

Click here to order online : A Belfast Child

Barry Seal – DEA Informant : Life & Death

Adler Berrima Adler Berriman “Barry” Seal

Barry Seal

Adler Berriman “Barry” Seal (July 16, 1939 – February 19, 1986) was a Trans World Airlines (TWA) pilot who became a major drug smuggler for the Medellín Cartel. When Seal was convicted of smuggling charges, he became an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration and testified in several major drug trials. He was murdered in 1986 by contract killers hired by Pablo Escobar, head of the Medellín Cartel.

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The Rise & Fall of Pablo Escobar El Patron Medellin Cartel Documentary

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Early life

Seal, born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was the son of Mary Lou (née Delcambre) and Benjamin Kurtis Seal, a candy wholesaler. Seal began flying as a teenager. According to his flight instructor, he was a naturally gifted pilot. He earned his student pilot certificate at 16 and a private pilot’s certificate at 17.

In 1961, Seal enlisted in the Louisiana Army National Guard for six years, serving with the 20th Special Forces Group. He graduated from United States Army Airborne School but never completed United States Army Special Forces selection and training. Seal later served in the 245th Engineer Battalion with his MOS being radio telephone operator.

Early career

Barry Seal In his TWA uniform

Seal joined TWA as a flight engineer in 1964 and was soon promoted to first officer, then captain, flying a Boeing 707 on a regular Western Europe route. He was one of the youngest 707 command pilots in the TWA fleet.

Seal’s career with TWA ended in July 1972, when he was arrested for involvement in a conspiracy to smuggle a shipment of plastic explosives to Mexico using a DC-4. The case was eventually dismissed in 1974 for prosecutorial misconduct, but TWA in the meantime fired Seal, who had falsely taken medical leave to participate in the scheme.

Drug smuggling career

According to statements Seal made after becoming a DEA informant, he began smuggling small quantities of cannabis . By 1978, he had begun flying significant loads of cocaine, because pound-for-pound it was more profitable.

In December 1979, Seal was arrested in Honduras after returning from a drug smuggling trip to Ecuador. Although the Honduran police did not find any cocaine, they did find an M-1 rifle, and Seal was imprisoned until July 1980.

Undeterred by his arrest, Seal expanded his operations upon returning to the United States. He hired William Bottoms, his ex-brother-in-law, as a pilot, and from 1980 on Bottoms was the main pilot in Seal’s smuggling enterprise, while Seal oversaw planning and operations.

Seal later began working for the Medellín Cartel as a pilot and drug smuggler. He transported numerous shipments of cocaine from Colombia and Panama to the United States, and earned as much as $1,300,000 per flight.

After successful runs at his home base in Louisiana he moved operations to Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport, in Mena, Arkansas. There he bought, sold and operated many planes.

Undercover informant and operative

Seal was eventually arrested in connection with his drug smuggling activities. In a Florida federal court, he was indicted, tried, convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison. After his sentencing, Seal approached the DEA and offered to cooperate with the government as an informant.

Federal officials agreed to use him in that capacity and mentioned his cooperation during hearings in which Seal sought a reduction of his sentence. With an agreement reached, Seal began working as a federal informant in March 1984.

According to the FrontlineGodfather of Cocaine investigation, Ernst “Jake” Jacobson was Seal’s DEA handler during this period. Jacobson claims he still has the high-tech message encrypter which he gave Seal.

“We made sure all of his aircraft were equipped with the most expensive cryptic radio communications we had ever seen at that time,”

said Jacobson.

In order to mitigate his 1984 arrest in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for money laundering and Quaalude smuggling, Seal agreed to testify against his former employers and associates in the drug trade, and thereby contributed to putting several of them in jail. Among those against whom Seal testified were Chief Minister of the Turks and Caicos Islands Norman Saunders and members of the Medellín Cartel. Seal also testified before the President’s Commission on Organized Crime in October 1985.

Jacobson, testifying in 1988, told a House Judiciary Committee that Seal had flown to an airstrip in Nicaragua in an airplane that had cameras installed by the Central Intelligence Agency. Seal took pictures during the Nicaragua sting operation that showed Pablo EscobarJorge Luis Ochoa Vásquez, and other members of the Medellín Cartel loading kilos of cocaine onto a C-123 transport plane. Federico Vaughan, the Sandinista Minister of the Interior, who Seal claimed was a top aide of Tomas Borge‘s, was also photographed with Sandinista soldiers helping load the plane.

Pablo Escobar

Seal was both a smuggler and a DEA informant/operative in this sting operation against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. In 1984, Seal flew from Nicaragua to Homestead Air Force Base in Florida with a shipment of cocaine that had been allegedly brokered through the Sandinista government.

This cocaine was seized by the DEA and was never received by the cartel’s distribution handlers in Florida, which in Medellín caused suspicion to fall upon Seal as the person responsible for this lost shipment.

Edmond Jacoby’s report in the July 17, 1984 issue of the Washington Times linked officials in the Sandinista government to the Medellín cartel and discussed Seal’s mission to Nicaragua. The public disclosures jeopardized Seal’s life and quickly brought an end to the sting operation designed to capture the cartel’s leaders.

Questioned about the identity of the source, Jacobson replied, “I heard that the leak came from an aide in the White House”. He stated that Iran–Contra figure Oliver North had attended two meetings about the sting operation and had motivation to release the information. UPI reported: “By linking the Sandinistas with drug traffic … aid to the rebels accused of human rights violations might seem more palatable”.

Subcommittee chairman William J. Hughes strongly suggested that North was the source of the leak, but Representative Bill McCollum said,

“…we don’t know who leaked this. No one has been able to tell us”.

 Citing testimony of DEA Administrator John C. Lawn, the report of the Kerry Committee released in December 1988 pinned the leak on North stating he “decided to play politics with the issue”. In an interview with Frontline, North said he was told by his superiors on the National Security Council to brief Senator Paula Hawkins about the operation, but he denied leaking the report.

Hawkins told Frontline that neither she nor her staff leaked the information after the briefing.Jacoby later denied that North was the source of his story and attributed it to a deceased staff member for Representative Dan Daniel.

The Wall Street Journal also printed the story, contributing to media coverage that indirectly exposed Seal’s involvement in the operation. The articles also exposed the Colombian cartel leaders and Nicaraguan Interior Minister who had been photographed moving cocaine onto Seal’s aircraft. Despite these pressures, Seal went ahead and testified with the pictures taken during the trip showing Sandinista officials in Nicaragua brokering a cocaine deal with members of Colombia’s Medellín Cartel.

Murder

Seal was sentenced to work in public service at the Salvation Army facility on Airline Highway (U.S. 61), in Baton Rouge, as a modification by the judge to Seal’s original plea deal. On February 19, 1986, Seal was shot to death in front of the site. His murder abruptly brought the DEA’s investigation to an end.

 Barry Seal | American Dope

Colombian assassins sent by the Medellín Cartel were apprehended while trying to leave Louisiana, soon after Seal’s murder. Authorities thus concluded Seal’s murderers were hired by Ochoa. The killers were indicted by a state grand jury on March 27, 1986.

In May 1987, Luis Carlos Quintero-Cruz, Miguel Vélez (died in custody 2015) and Bernardo Antonio Vásquez were convicted of first degree murder in Seal’s death, and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Barry Seal’s Grave

Louisiana Attorney General William Guste wrote to United States Attorney General Edwin Meese criticizing the government’s failure to protect Seal as a witness. At Guste’s request, Meese launched an investigation to determine whether or not attorneys in Louisiana, Miami, and Washington had mishandled the case, and to determine whether or not Seal should have been forced into protective custody. Government attorneys stated that Seal placed himself in danger by refusing to move his family and enter a witness protection program.

In 1991, cartel member Max Mermelstein testified that he had been instructed in December 1984 either to kidnap Seal and return him to Colombia, or to murder him. The reward to kidnap Seal was $1 million, and the reward to kill him was $500,000.

Personal life

Deborah DuBois his third wife and children

Seal married three times; the first to Barbara Dodson from 1963 to 1971 and to Lynn Ross from 1971 to 1972 – ended in divorce. His marriage to Deborah DuBois, in 1973, ended with his death in 1986. Seal had 6 children, 2 from his first wife, one child from a relationship he had in between marriages and three more with Debbie. 

Media depictions

Films

  • Seal is portrayed by Dennis Hopper in the docudrama Doublecrossed (1991), which prominently features Seal’s co-pilot and collaborator Emile Camp[27][28] (portrayed by G. W. Bailey), although some of the Camp plotlines stand in for actual events involving William Roger Reeves, who met Seal in jail and introduced him to the Medellín Cartel.
  • Seal is portrayed by Michael Paré in the American crime drama film The Infiltrator (2016), in two brief, historically inaccurate scenes that exercise dramatic license to depict the film’s title character, Robert Mazur, as a passenger in a car being driven by Seal who is killed in a motorcycle drive-by shooting.
  • Seal is portrayed by Tom Cruise in the crime drama-comedy film American Made (2017), loosely based on Seal’s life, produced by Imagine Entertainment. Little of the film is historically accurate; most of the plot, such as the assassination of Seal’s brother-in-law, were invented for purposes of the film.

Television

  • Seal is portrayed by theater director Thaddeus Phillips in the 2013 TV series Alias El Mexicano.
  • Seal is portrayed by Dylan Bruno in Season 1, Episode 4, of the Netflix series Narcos (2015).

Inside the Colombian Cartels

Other drug stories

See: Kiki Camarena – The Brutal Torture & Death of a Narc

See : Gangster Warlords – Amado Carrillo Fuentes – Lord of the Skies