While the exact origins of April Fools’ day remain murky, the day synonymous with deception and trickery really hit its stride in 18th century Britain. In Scotland, one day of chaos simply wasn’t enough, with the country stretching the fools’ day into two. Day one begins with “hunting the gowk,” in which people are sent out to do phony errands, while day two is “devoted exclusively to pranks involving the posterior region of the body. This is known as “Taily Day” and the origin of the ever-popular “Kick Me” sign is likely traceable to this observance,” according to the Scottish Country Dance of the Day
In the United States, dangers of stubbing one’s toes reached new heights in the late 19th century, as stowing a brick under a hat in the middle of a sidewalk took off as popular, if not painful, practical joke.
And while we here at Historynet don’t have any shenanigans up our sleeve, we do have a collection of stranger-than-fiction historical tales for you to enjoy.
Below, can you guess which one of these didn’t actually happen? No cheating!
The Faulty Flush
A faulty flush caused this German submarine to have to surface, resulting in its crew to be captured. While the U-boat commander denied culpability, as the saying goes, whoever smelt it, dealt it.
A bug crawled into a Civil War soldier’s ear…and then eventually crawled back out, but not before it caused (understandably) severe distress and lifelong headaches. Civil War soldiers were expected to duck bullets and bomb bursts, but not bugs.
rest for the weary
As morning dawned on June 6, 1944, and the Allied armada began their assault on Normandy, France, the two diametrically opposing leaders of Adolf Hitler and Winston Churchill both found themselves in rather relaxing places—Hitler arose from his bed at 10am, while Churchill spent the morning in his bathtub.
no cookies for you
For most Americans the word conjures up the image of childhoods spent on the beach or around a campfire. Nestled between graham crackers and a slab of Hershey’s chocolate, the greatest danger a marshmallow ever really posed was burning the roof of one’s mouth or causing a slight expansion to the waistline. Yet for RAF pilots, they proved deadly. Marshmallow teacakes were placed on the RAF’s No-Fly list after an incident caused the ‘mallows to explode, causing havoc in the cockpit.
While Adolf Hitler did indeed sleep in until 10 a.m. on the morning of June 6, 1944, Winston Churchill was not found lounging in the bath (although he was known to do much of his work from there).
But all of the other tales did happen—believe it or not. The crew of the German submarine U-1206 did, in fact, get captured as a result of a faulty flush; a bug did crawl into the ear of poor William W. Richardson of the 104th Ohio Infantry during the 1864 Atlanta Campaign; and cabin pressure did result in exploding chocolate and marshmallow shrapnel.
HistoryNet staff April 1, 2022 at 06:26PM