Vichy France planned the scuttling of the French navy at Toulon on 27 November 1942, to stop Nazi German forces from occupying it. Wikimedia Commons
A number of significant events make the day, 27 November worth remembering. While New York City got its busiest intercity railroad station, Penn Station in 1910, Macy’s held the first Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924. It also marks a memorable day in the history of France as Vichy France was ordered to scuttle a huge fleet at Toulon in 1942. The most notorious one was recorded in 1975 when Guinness Book of Records co-founder Ross McWhirter was shot dead outside his house in North London.
27 November Historic Events:
Penn Station opened to the public
Pennsylvania Station, also known as New York Penn Station opened for the general public on 27 November 1910. The new station located in Midtown Manhattan contributed to a noticeable increase in the number of subway passengers both at the Times Square and 33rd Street stations. Having 21 tracks fed by seven tunnels, Penn Station is considered the major intercity railroad station in New York City and also the busiest transportation facility in the Western Hemisphere.
When Penn Station’s old above-ground structure began to deteriorate in 1963, it was dismantled and Madison Square Garden was built as the replacement. The demolition led to the creation of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, which just a few years later would prevent Grand Central Terminal from suffering a similar scenario.
Macy’s first Thanksgiving Day Parade
On 27 November 1924, a New York custom was born when employees of the US-based department store giant Macy’s took to the streets to commemorate the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. However, it was not at all designed for Thanksgiving and the purpose was to formally welcome the holiday shopping season. Before the Macy’s parade, Thanksgiving was celebrated in New York City with a peculiar ritual that seemed more like trick-or-treating. In order to obtain pieces of candy or fruit, kids would wear costumes as vagabonds, colour their faces, and wander through their neighbourhoods seeking “Anything for Thanksgiving.”
Admiral Jean de Laborde ordered to scuttle his own fleet
Vichy France planned the scuttling of the French navy at Toulon on 27 November 1942, to stop Nazi German forces from occupying it. German forces attacked the territory controlled by Vichy under the terms of the 1940 Armistice after the Allied invasion of North Africa. Admiral Francois Darlan, the Vichy Secretary of the Navy, surrendered to the Allies, who were garnering more and more military and civilian backing. Admiral Jean de Laborde, who took over the role next, accurately predicted that the Germans aimed to capture the huge fleet at Toulon and issued the directive to scuttle it.
The French naval personnel utilised trickery to prevent the Germans from starting Operation Anton until the scuttling was completed. With 39 small ships captured, Anton was considered a failure while the French damaged 77 ships. Other submarines managed to escape and reach French North Africa. It signalled the end of Vichy France as a respectable naval power and the collapse of its final political tactic against Germany.
Guinness Book of Records co-founder Ross McWhirter was shot dead
On 27 November 1975, Ross McWhirter, an editor and co-founder of the Guinness Book of Records, was shot and killed outside his residence in North London. He received a direct shot to the forehead and chest and was rushed right away to a nearby hospital. But shortly after being admitted, he passed away. McWhirter was reported to have been in the house getting ready to leave for the theatre and the two gunmen waited in the garden for almost an hour.
The attack came after McWhirter announced a reward of £50,000 for information leading to the arrest of IRA bombers. However, Scotland Yard reported that no one had claimed responsibility for the assault.