On this day in 1829, the Rainhill Trials began. Eight conditions were laid down for the locomotives that entered the competition. This included the rule that the maximum weight was to be six tons. All wheels had to be sprung and the cost of the locomotive had to be less than £550. The gross weight of the train was stated to be not less than three times the engine's weight. To qualify for the first prize the locomotive had to reach speeds of 10 mph (16 kpm).
On the first day over 10,000 people turned up to watch the competitors. The locomotives had to run twenty times up and down the track at Rainhill which made the distance roughly equivalent to a return trip between Liverpool and Manchester. Ten locomotives were originally entered for the competition but only five turned up.
On the third day the Rocket covered 35 miles in 3 hours 12 minutes. Hauling 13 tons of loaded wagons, the Rocket averaged over 12 mph. On one trip it reached 25 mph and on a locomotive-only run, 29 mph. After studying all the evidence, the three judges, John Rastrick, Nicholas Wood and John Kennedy, awarded the £500 first prize to the owners of the locomotive. The contract to produce locomotives for the Liverpool & Manchester Railway went to the Robert Stephenson Company at Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
On this day in 1917 Canadian troops capture the village of Passchendaele in the Third Battle of Ypres. Three more attacks took place in October and on the 6th November the village of Passchendaele was finally taken by British and Canadian infantry. Sir Douglas Haig was severely criticized for continuing with the attacks long after the operation had lost any real strategic value. Since the beginning of the offensive, British troops had advanced five miles at a cost of at least 250,000 casualties, though some authorities say 300,000. "Certainly 100,000 of them occurred after Haig's insistence on continuing the fighting into October. German losses over the whole of the Western Front for the same period were about 175,000."
On this day in 1918, Karl Liebknecht, who was still in prison for his anti-war activities, demanded an end to the monarchy and the setting up of Soviets in Germany. Other members of the Spartacus League such as Rosa Luxemburg, Paul Levi and Leo Jogiches all recognised that a "successful revolution depended on more than temporary support for certain slogans by a disorganised mass of workers and soldiers". By 13th January, 1919 the rebellion had been crushed and most of its leaders were arrested. This included Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, who refused to flee the city, and were captured on 16th January and taken to the Freikorps headquarters. "After questioning, Liebknecht was taken from the building, knocked half conscious with a rifle butt and then driven to the Tiergarten where he was killed. Rosa was taken out shortly afterwards, her skull smashed in and then she too was driven off, shot through the head and thrown into the canal."
On this day in 1928 Josip Broz sentenced to 5 years in jail. On his release he went to live in the Soviet Union and in 1934 began working for the Comintern. Soon afterwards he obtained the nickname Tito. On the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War the Comintern established the Dimitrov Battalion. Named after Georgi Dimitrov the battalion comprised of Greeks and people from the Balkans. Tito eventually became one of the battalion's senior commanders.
On this day in 1944 Karl Hulten and Elizabeth Jones, killed a taxi driver in London. Three days earlier, Hulten, a member of the United States Army met Jones, an eighteen-year-old Welsh striptease dancer. On their first date they ended up using Hulten's truck to knock a young girl from her bike and stealing her handbag. The following day they gave a lift to a woman carrying two heavy suitcases. After stopping the car Hulten attacked the woman with an iron bar and then dumped her body in a river. On 6th October the couple hailed a hire car on Hammersmith Broadway. When they reached a deserted stretch of road they asked the taxi driver to stop. Hulten then shot the driver in the head and stole his money and car. The following day they spent the money at White City dog track. The couple were arrested on the 9th October. There was great public interest in the case of the GI gangster and his striptease dancer. The public was deeply shocked by the degree of violence the couple had used during their crime spree and it came as no surprise when both Karl Hulten and Elizabeth Jones were found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Hulten was executed at Pentonville Prison on 8th March 1945 but Jones was reprieved at the last moment and was released in May 1954.
On this day in 1951 Joseph Stalin proclaims the Soviet Union has the atomic bomb.
On this day in 1960 Spartacus, screenplay by Dalton Trumbo, blacklisted because of McCarthyism premieres in New York City. Trumbo became the first blacklisted writer to use his own name when he wrote the screenplay for a Hollywood film. Based on the novel by another left-wing blacklisted writer, Howard Fast, it is a film that examines the spirit of revolt. Trumbo refers back to his experiences of the House of Un-American Activities Committee. At the end, when the Romans finally defeat the rebellion, the captured slaves refuse to identify Spartacus. As a result, all are crucified. Ironically, much of Spartacus was filmed on land owned by William Randolph Hearst. It was Hearst's newspapers that played such an important role in making McCarthyism possible.
On this day in 1973, Egyptian and Syrian forces launched a surprise attack on Israel. On 6th October 1973, Egyptian and Syrian forces launched a surprise attack on Israel. Two days later the Egyptian Army crossed the Suez Canal while Syrian troops entered the Golan Heights. Israeli troops counter-attacked on 8th October. They crossed the Suez Canal near Ismailia and advanced towards Cairo. The Israelis also recaptured the Golan Heights and moved towards the Syrian capital. The October War came to an end when the United Nations arranged a cease-fire on 24th October. The following year UN troops established a peace-keeping force on the Golan Heights. In September 1978, with the support of Jimmy Carter, the president of the United States, Menachem Begin of Israel and Anwar Sadat of Egypt signed a peace treaty between the two countries.