8th October
It was on this day...
1918 8 American Soldiers Capture 132 Germans, Kill 25

World War 1, Argonne Forest in France: The inspiration for this attack was a Corporal Alvin C. York, and for it he received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

This seems to be a story of undoubted bravery, but coupled with complete confusion on the battlefield with the German commanders mistakenly thinking they were up against a much bigger force.

A small US unit, under the command of a Sergeant Bernard Early, found themselves behind enemy lines. Following a brief firefight the Germans surrendered, thinking they were up against a much bigger unit. However, German machine-gun operators on the top of a hill noticed the size of the American unit and shouted to their officers to continue to fight, they shot a number of American troops, including the commanding officer.

York, an expert marksman, returned fire, picking off the men as he ran for the machine gun nest, along with the surviving 7 American troops. York shot 6 of the Germans sent to apprehend him. In total 25 Germans were killed. About 90 Germans were apprehended at the scene.

While returning to Allied lines they came across 40 or so other German troops who also surrendered.


It had almost never happened: York had become a highly religious man, an active member of the fundamentalist Church of Christ in Christian Union.

He had initially contested the draft as a conscientious objector because his Church opposed the war. However it was deemed that his Church was not recognized. He was enlisted in the 82nd Infantry Division - he agreed to fight after being convinced of America's cause.

York was immediately promoted to sergeant and was highly regarded by Allied leaders. He was given a heroes welcome on his return to the USA.

In 1941 a movie called Sergeant York, based on York's life, starring Gary Cooper, was released.

He died in 1964.

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1871 Legend has it that a cow kicked over a lantern in the barn of a Mrs. O'Leary. It started one of the worst fires in the USA. 90,000 people were made homeless, 250 killed and $200mn in damage.

1919 USA: The first ever trans-continental air race takes place on this day. 15 planes took off from the Presidio, San Francisco to New York, 48 from Long Island in New York.

1967 Communist icon Che Guevara is captured in Bolivia. He is executed the next day.

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