This Day in History – November 14 – Hijinx, Humor, and Insight


NewsWhistle is pleased to feature Gary Jenneke’s “This Day In History” column.

You can read the original at Gary’s THIS DAY IN HISTORY blog — or scroll down to enjoy Gary’s unique look at life’s comings and goings.




1942 – Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.

The fighting, mostly at night, was a series of sea battles from November 12th to November 15th. The action on the 14th and 15th is sometimes called the Second Battle of Guadalcanal. The Japanese force was comprised of a battleship, four cruisers, and nine destroyers. The U.S. fleet, reeling from heavy loses in the first few days of fighting, countered with a scratched together force of the battleships USS South Dakota, USS Washington, and four destroyers. Action commenced around 2200 on the night of the 14th. Shells exploding and ships blowing up lit the night sky with fire. A war correspondent’s description: “From the beach it resembled a door to hell opening and closing… over and over.” Hundreds of Japanese and American sailors lost their lives in the fighting. Sailors named the area where the fighting took place Ironbottom Sound became because so many ships were sunk there.

Despite being outmanned, the Americans emerged victorious. The Japanese lost their battleship, two cruisers, and three destroyers. The American lost all four destroyers, and the South Dakota was badly damaged but remained floating. The result was that the Japanese were unable to send in fresh troops as reinforcements in the fight against the marines desperately holding onto Henderson Field.

Summing up the battle historian Eric Hammel said: “On November 12, 1942, the (Japanese) Imperial Navy had the better ships and the better tactics. After November 15, 1942, its leaders lost heart and it lacked the strategic depth to face the burgeoning U.S. Navy and its vastly improving weapons and tactics. The Japanese never got better while, after November 1942, the U.S. Navy never stopped getting better.”

My generation of sailors was trained by the generation that fought WWII. It is said that the military trains for the last war, not the next one. Although we didn’t know it, ship versus ship battles were a thing of the past by the time I was in the Navy. After Guadalcanal there would only be one more time that battleships would square off in WWII, and probably history.

If anybody wants to read a riveting account of the sea battles at Guadalcanal, check out Neptune’s Inferno.


1972 – Dow Jones closes over 1,000. For the first time in history the Dow closes above 1,000 points.

How quaint.


1982 – Lech Walesa freed.

Public outcry forced the Polish government to release the popular labor leader. Walesa was chairman of Solidarity, a federation of unions composed of workers and farmers. Solidarity led strikes in Poland until the Communist government declared martial law and the organization illegal. Walesa was arrested and confined for eleven months. The union was eventually successful and Poland experienced more political and religious freedom.

Walesa received the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize. In 1989 Solidarity was legalized and in 1990 Walesa was elected President of Poland. He was defeated for reelection by a Communist candidate in 1995.

A union man, a man who stood with the worker, Walesa was, to me anyway, an inspiration and a hero.



1889 – Jawaharlal Nehru.

The first Prime Minister of India, he served in that capacity from 1947 to 1964 when he died. He joined the Indian National Congress in 1919 and was an early follower of Gandhi in India’s fight for independence from Britain. Protesting against British rule landed him in jail for a total of nine years. As Prime Minister Nehru advocated for secularism, democratic socialism, free education for children, and civil rights for women, and he challenged the caste system. He led India at a very turbulent time as it emerged from being a colonial state to a free nation. His daughter, Indira, and his grandson, Rajiv, both later served as Prime Ministers of India.

It is both a testament to the two men, and also somewhat sad, that the only two names most can associate with India are Gandhi and Nehru.


1908 – Joseph McCarthy.

A Senator from Wisconsin, he led an “investigation” into his own charge that Communists had infiltrated the U.S. government. His crusade was described as a witch hunt by his detractors, and that group eventually included just about everybody. His interrogation tactics during public hearings included bullying and browbeating and came to be known as “McCarthyism.” He projected himself as a true patriot and he saw communists everywhere, including Hollywood. He destroyed people, ruined careers and built paranoia. A Hollywood blacklist was created that included directors, actors and screenwriters. Guilt could merely be by association. McCarthy’s undoing was when he went after supposed communists in the U.S. Army. The hearings were televised and the public saw his vicious tactics live and public opinion turned against him. In one of the more famous rebuttals, Joseph Welch, chief counsel for the U.S. Army, said: “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

It seems bullying, insults and intimidation have re-emerged in the current political sphere. A sense of decency should again be demanded…by the American public if the politicians lack the courage.


1948 – Prince Charles.

Heir to the throne of England who had a brief, non-speaking role in the Princess Diana stage drama.

I’ve gotten a few lucky breaks in life, like not having been born a prince.



At various junctures of his life, Gary has been an indifferent grade school student, poor high school student, good Navy radioman, one-time hippie, passable college student, inveterate traveler, dedicated writer, miscast accountant (except for one interesting stint at a Communist café), part-time screenwriting teacher, semi-proud veteran, unsuccessful retiree and new blogger.

You can reach him at



The above information was sourced from the following sites and newspapers.


The Story Of The Second World War – Henry Steele Commager 


We’d also like to thank the following photographers and videographers for the use of their images:

* Lead-In Image (Charles and Diana) – emka74 / – “PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC – DECEMBER 11: The Lennon Wall since the 1980s is filled with John Lennon-inspired graffiti and pieces of lyrics from Beatles songs on Dec 11, 2015 in Prague, Czech Republic.”

* Battle of Guadalcanal (art) – HISTORY /

* Lech Walesa (video) – The New York Times /

* Jawaharlal Nehru (video) – cwvideomaker /

* Joseph McCarthy (video) – Blue Cereal /

* Prince Charles (video) – Biography /

* Outro (Man-In-Museum Cartoon) – SkyPics Studio /



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