sábado, 26 de octubre de 2013

Early 80s dominated by 'war and terror attacks' - Stoke Sentinel

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'A HIGH-PROFILE disappearance, a Royal celebration and a Papal visit were among the landmark events of 1982.

The year began strangely when Mark Thatcher, the son of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, disappeared in the Sahara during a Paris-Dakar rally.

Maggie's son broke down with two team-mates, and they were found after six days by the Algerian military following a search involving four countries, planes and helicopters.

In March 1982, the birth of twins in Cambridge made headline news.

The parents were 31-year-old Jo Smith and her husband Stewart – their newborns were Britain's first test tube twins.

The following month, the news was dominated by the beginning of the Falklands War as, on April 2, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands.

A garrison of Royal Marines was outnumbered and outgunned, and after some brief skirmishes, Governor Sir Rex Hunt ordered them to lay down their arms.

The conflict lasted 74 days and in June of 1982, UK Defence Minister Peter Blaker announced that the official count of British war dead was 255, with approximately 300 wounded.

In May, Pope John Paul II paid a visit to Canterbury, the first time a pontiff had visited Britain.

The narrow streets of the ancient city were lined with up to 25,000 people.

In July there was sombre news. The Provisional IRA detonated two bombs in central London, killing eight soldiers and wounding 47 people. The terror attack also led to the deaths of seven horses.

Reacting to the bombing of Hyde Park and Regents Park, the Prime Minister said: "These callous and cowardly crimes have been committed by evil, brutal men who know nothing of democracy.

"We shall not rest until they are brought to justice."

In happier news, August saw the christening of Prince William.

Prince William Arthur Philip Louis was christened in the Music Room at Buckingham Palace on August 4. In October, the astonishing story of The Mary Rose, flagship of Henry VIII of England that sank in 1545, came to a conclusion.

The ship, which sank while leading an attack on a French invasion fleet, was raised from the Solent.

December brought 30,000 women descending on Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp – established to protest at nuclear weapons being sited at RAF Greenham Common in Berkshire.

The women held hands and formed a human chain around the 14.5 km perimeter fence.

The beginning of 1983 saw 'red rain' falling in the UK. The phenomena was caused by sand from the Sahara Desert in the droplets.

The headline story the following month was the discovery of the dismembered remains of 15 young men at a house in Muswell Hill, North London.

The men were victims of Dennis Nilsen, who disposed of the bodies by burning them or flushing the remains down a toilet. Nilsen was brought to trial later that year and sentenced to life imprisonment.

April of 1983 saw gunmen escape with £7 million from a Security Express van in London – the biggest cash haul in British history.

In politics, the following month, Margaret Thatcher called a General Election for June 9. Opinion polls at the time showed her on course for victory.

Indeed, Mrs Thatcher won by a landslide – with a majority of 144 seats (though just 42 per cent of the popular vote) over Michael Foot, who led the Labour Party, which earned only 28 per cent of the vote. Among the new members of Parliament were two Labour MPs, Tony Blair for Sedgefield, and Gordon Brown for Dunfermline.

On June 12, Michael Foot resigned as leader of the Labour Party, and in October, Neil Kinnock took over the role.

The end of 1983 was, to some extent, dominated by terrorism.

On August 5, Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) members received sentences totalling more than 4,000 years from a Belfast Court.

The following month, on September 25, there was an escape from Maze Prison. Thirty-eight IRA prisoners armed with six guns hijacked a lorry and escaped. During the breakout, one guard died of a heart attack and 20 others were injured.

The incident was the largest prison escape since the Second World War in British history. Nineteen escapees were later apprehended.

On December 17, an IRA car bomb killed six people – three police and three members of the public – and injured 90 outside Harrods in London.

IRA members had sent a warning 37 minutes before the explosion, but the area was not evacuated.

On Christmas Day, a second bomb exploded in Oxford Street, but this time nobody was injured.

Tell us your memories of big news events from 1982 and 1983. Email waywewere@thesentinel.co.uk

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