Kids who grew up in the 80s are familiar with
Stunned BBC Radio listeners heard the news anchor make this bizarre announcement. Although it was a day as rich with shocking, strange and noteworthy events as any other, the BBC had decided that none of it was suitable for broadcasting. That day was April 18th, 1930, and here is the news that went unreported.
The Torch Murderer
Henry Colin Campbell, a.k.a. The Torch Murderer, was executed for the murders of two women. He seduced them via a marriage agency, defrauded, shot and burned them. Both women had married a mysterious ‘Doctor’, withdrawn their life savings and were found 15 miles apart, burned and with bullets in their heads. The trial was a sensation, with claims of morphine addiction, amnesia and police corruption, which ended in Campbell’s execution on April the 18th.
The Chittagong Armory Raid
Across the world in Chittagong, Bengal, 65 revolutionaries inspired by the Irish Easter uprising, raided the armory. They shot and killed the guards and took over the barracks. Having found guns but no ammunition, they fled into the hills, leaving behind a leaflet on their aim to: “stand against the British government’s cruel policy to keep the 300 millions of Indian people subjugated.” This shocking event stunned the Raj and the British Establishment.
Death of Henry de la Vaux
18th April also saw the tragic death of this French explorer and balloonist – he was the inspiration for Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days. In his life, De la Vaux set astonishing balloon flight records, once traveling 1200 miles from France to Ukraine in 35 hours. He died on April 18th when his flight over New York City hit power cables.
Sometimes the importance of events is best seen with hindsight, such as in the case of this academic paper published on 18th April 1930 by the biochemist Ensor Roslyn Holiday. Titled “The Characteristic Absorption of UV Radiation by Certain Purines” it went on to be cited in papers on hormones and radiation damage, and was used by research studies to develop our understanding of DNA.
Other events of note that day in 1930:
On 18th April, Hitler gave a speech to thousands at the Jahrhunderthalle in Breslau, the Russian writer Mikhail Bulgakov received a personal phone call from Stalin about his request to emigrate and the stars of All Quiet On The Western Front, were preparing for their film premiere. The film went on to win an Oscar and is considered one of the most influential anti-war films of all time.