13 November 1901

The 1901 Caister lifeboat disaster takes place.

The Caister lifeboat disaster of 13 November 1901 occurred off the coast of Caister-on-Sea, Norfolk, England. It took place during what became known as the “Great Storm”, which caused havoc down the east coasts of England and Scotland.

Poor weather conditions on 13 November contributed to the disaster. A gale created lashing rain and a heavy sea. Shortly after 11:00 PM, flares were seen from a vessel on the Barber sands. The Cockle light-ship fired distress signals to indicate a vessel in trouble. The crew of the lifeboat Beauchamp were alerted and an attempt was made to launch the lifeboat. The heavy seas washed the boat off her skids and she was hauled back up the beach for another attempt. The crew fought until 2:00 AM in the dark and cold with warp and tackle to get the lifeboat afloat.

After the launch most of the launching crew went home to change their wet clothing. James Haylett Sr, who had been the assistant coxwain for many years and was now 78 years old, remained on watch despite being wet through and having no food. He had two sons, a son-in-law, and two grandsons in the boat.

The coxwain steered towards the stricken vessel but the sea conditions forced the boat back towards the beach and she struck the beach bow first about 50 yards from the launch point. The heavy sea struck the starboard quarter and capsized the boat, breaking off the masts and trapping the crew beneath the boat. Beauchamp was a Norfolk and Suffolk-class non-self-righting boat, 36 feet in length, 10 1?2 feet wide and weighing 5 long tons without her gear. When fully crewed and equipped and with ballast tanks full she needed 36 men to bring her ashore.

The time was now around 3:00 AM. Frederick Henry Haylett returned to the lifeboat house after getting changed and alerted his grandfather James Haylett Sr to the cries coming from the boat. They ran to where Beauchamp lay keel up in the surf. James Haylett managed to pull his son-in-law Charles Knights from the boat. Frederick Haylett also ran into the surf and pulled John Hubbard clear. James Haylett returned to the water to pull his grandson Walter Haylett clear. These were the only survivors.

13 November 1887

The ‘Bloody Sunday’ clashes take part in central London.

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There are several events which are remembered with the name ‘Bloody Sunday,’ perhaps most famously Sunday the 30th of January 1972 when members of the British Army opened fire on protesters in Derry, Ireland, killing 13. London has its own Bloody Sunday however, which took place on Sunday the 13th of November 1887, in Trafalgar Square. It was the culmination of months of increasing tension between police and Londoners over the right to demonstrate in Trafalgar Square.

Demonstrations by the unemployed had been taking place in the square daily since the summer. Many unemployed men and women also slept in the square, washing in the fountains. Under pressure from the press to deal with a situation seen as embarrassing to the great metropolis, the police started to disperse meetings in the square from the 17th of October, often resorting to violence. The tension continued, now with frequent clashes between police and protesters, and Irish Home Rulers also began to use the square to protest.

Sir Charles Warren, Commissioner of Police, banned all meetings in Trafalgar Square on the 8th of November. This challenge to the freedom of speech and the right to protest ouraged radicals across London, and a meeting scheduled for the following Sunday suddenly became much more significant. Called initially to demand the release of the Irish MP William O’Brien from prison, the demonstration was a clear and deliberate defiance of the ban, and the police could not allow it to go ahead without suffering severe humiliation.

13 November 1990

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In Aramoana, near Dunedin in New Zealand, David Gray shoots dead 13 people.

On November 13th, 1990, residents of the small seaside town of Aramoana awoke to a horrific nightmare. One of the town’s residents, in a deranged state, had decided to take his fury out on the people around him. With his rifle he ran riot through the village, shooting helpless individuals whom fate had put in his path. By the time he was shot some 34 hours later, 12 people would have been executed.David Gray was a recluse, whom his neighbours thought odd, but harmless.

He was an avid reader of warfare, weaponry and survivalist literature who had amassed a cache of firearms and ammunition. His mental and physical state in the six months prior to the tragedy had deteriorated rapidly although this was only appreciated in hindsight. He lived in a small crib in Aramoana and was on the unemployment benefit.

After a careful house-by-house search the next day, police officers led by the Special Tactics Group located Gray and shot him dead as he came out of a house firing from the hip. It is the deadliest criminal shooting in New Zealand history.