Cannon raised from Blackbeard’s ship

Archaeologists late last week recovered a cannon off the North Carolina coast that famed pirate Blackbeard once employed to terrorize shipping along the Atlantic seaboard nearly 300 years ago.

The instrument of war was covered in sand and concrete-like accretions of sand and barnacles.

The cannon is 8 feet long and weighs 2,000 pounds, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

It is estimated it will take archaeologists and students at East Carolina University as much as eight years to get down to the bronze cannon, according to Jennifer Woodward, secretary of the NC Department of Cultural Resources, which oversees the project.

“It looks like it’s covered in concretions, with cement all around it, and there will be lots of things attached to it,” Woodward told ABC News.

Woodward said that in past recoveries of cannons from the ship, bits of rope, lead shot, and gold dust had been found encased with the recovered artifact, according to ABC.

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Last Polish pilot from Battle of Britain dies

Unwilling to give up fighting the Nazis after their country was quickly overrun in September 1939, a small group of Polish pilots eventually made their way to Britain and offered their services to the Allies.

Altogether, 145 Polish pilots took part in the pivotal Battle of Britain, helping stave off the German assault and invasion that likely would have resulted if the Nazis had been victorious.

Tadeusz Sawicz, believed to have been the last of the Poles who took to the skies alongside the Brits in the 1940 battle, died this week at age 97.

Sawicz, who shot down three German planes during the war and damaged several others, went on to take part in several Allied operations throughout the remaining years of the war, including being attached to the US 9th Air Force in 1944 and escorting American bomber formations while flying a P-47 Thunderbolt.

Among the awards he received was the British Distinguished Flying Cross, the US Air Medal and the Vlieger Cruis, the Dutch equivalent of the DFC, according to The Telegraph.

The role of Sawicz and his comrades is relatively unknown, but because the Allies won the Battle of Britain by a narrow margin, some historians believe the outcome would have been different without the Polish aviators’ involvement.

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Art expert says he’s found an unknown Rodin

A nine-inch silver statuette purchased at a French flea market in the 1980s is an unknown work by 19th century master Auguste Rodin, a French art expert announced Thursday.

Gilles Perrault presented a 60-page report to reporters in Paris that purports to authenticate the work, which depicts a female figure, as that of Rodin.

Perrault, himself a sculptor, is an official art expert for France’s Cour de Cassation who has carried out more than 750 appraisals connected to Rodin’s work, including being hired to sniff out fakes, according to Agence France-Presse.

Perrault says he has studied the figure, which depicts a female figure, curbed over as if in pain, with a draped fabric clenched between her thighs, for 24 years and is now “intimately convinced” it is by the sculptor, who lived from 1840 to 1917, the wire service added.

The statue itself was not displayed for security reasons.

Rodin was a prolific artistic, producing thousands of busts, figure, and sculptural fragments over a career that spanned more than five decades.  

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Bill Buckner: Much more than a single play

There’ve been several stories this week noting the 25th anniversary of Bill Buckner’s infamous missed ground ball in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

The miscue by the Boston Red Sox first baseman on a weak grounder off the bat of Mookie Wilson allowed the New York Mets to score with two out in the bottom of the 10th inning and take a 6-5 win, keeping the Red Sox from their first world championship since 1918.

Two nights later, the Mets rallied to beat the Red Sox, 8-5, to take the Series, forever lumping Buckner alongside the likes of Fred Merkle, Mickey Owen, Ralph Branca and Mitch Williams.

Labeling Buckner as one of baseball’s greatest goats has always seemed one of sport’s great injustices.

For one thing, by the time he retired in 1990, he’d amassed 2,715 hits over a 22-year career that included a National League batting title.

Beyond that, Buckner was far from the only reason the Sox lost the ’86 series.

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WWII leader addresses Romanian parliament

To understand how long it’s been since Romania’s former King Michael first ascended to his country’s throne, consider that he was initially crowned more than 80 years ago, some six years before Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany.

Michael, one of the last surviving leaders from World War II, on Tuesday made his first address to Romania’s parliament since he was deposed nearly 65 years ago by Communist forces.

During a special session to mark his 90th birthday Michael called on his country’s politicians to restore Romania’s dignity.

“The last 20 years have brought democracy, freedom and a beginning of prosperity,” Michael told lawmakers, according to Agence France-Presse.

“The time has come after 20 years to … break for good with the bad habits of the past,” Michael added, saying that in 2011 “demagogy, selfishness and attempts to cling to power” should not have their place in the Romanian institutions, an implicit criticism of current politicians.

“It is within our power to make this country prosperous and worthy of admiration,” he added, prompting a standing ovation.

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Canadian solider laid to rest in France

Private Alexander Johnston, a Canadian soldier killed in the waning days of World War I, was laid to rest Tuesday in France while his great grand-niece played Last Post.

The remains of Johnson, who was 33 when he was killed during the Battle of the Canal du Nord on Sept. 29, 1918, in northern France, were identified last spring.

Among those in attendance at Cantimpre Canadian Cemetery in Sailly-lez-Cambrai were Marc Lortie, Canadian Ambassador to France, French dignitaries, a Canadian Forces contingent and members of Johnston’s family, including his great grand-niece, Corporal Ann Gregory, a Canadian Forces Reservist and trumpeter with the Governor General’s Foot Guards.

In July 2008, human remains were discovered in Sailly-lez-Cambrai, along with two collar badges of the 78th Battalion (Winnipeg Grenadiers). The Directorate of History and Heritage was notified of the discovery in February 2009, and Private Johnston’s remains were identified through mitochondrial DNA testing on March 31, 2011, according to the Canadian Department of National Defence.

“After all these years, we are finally able to commemorate and pay tribute to this great Canadian hero who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of his country,” said Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. “By honoring Private Johnston today, we ensure that his courage and personal contribution in ending the Great War will never be forgotten.”

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SC museum seeks to restore rail history

The Baldwin Locomotive Works produced more than 70,500 locomotives between the early 1830s and mid 1950s. During a 10-year period between 1898 and 1907, Pennsylvania-based Baldwin, the dominant American locomotive manufacturer, built nearly 17,000 steam engines alone.

Today, it is believed fewer than 1,300 Baldwin locomotives remain. Among these is a 1927 4-6-0 model built for the Hampton and Branchville Railroad, a logging line that operated northeast of Charleston.

Old No. 44 sits at the South Carolina Railroad Museum in Winnsboro, where it has been for the past 20 years. The museum, one of best in the Southeast, is in the midst of restoring the locomotive under an effort called “Project 44.”

The goal is to have the locomotive restored to operating condition for use on the museum’s operating rail line, which includes five miles of track, although plans are in place to refurbish more existing track for use.

The South Carolina Railroad Museum is a 501©3 nonprofit and donations for Project 44 are tax-deductible.

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