On this day in 1836, the chapel of San Antonio de Valero Mission, under siege for thirteen days by the Mexican army under General Antonio Lòpez de Santa Anna, was subjected to an early morning assault. After a fierce battle, lasting for perhaps some 90 minutes, the defenses of the Alamo were overrun and all the defenders were killed. The slogan "Remember the Alamo!" subsequently became a rallying cry for the Texas Revolution, and the Alamo became a shrine to fallen Texas heroes.
On this day in 1944, John Cary Morgan's plane was shot down over Berlin. He spent the remaining fourteen months of World War II as a German prisoner. The Texas native, born in Vernon in 1914, received his pilot's license at age twenty. In July 1943, Second Lieutenant Morgan was stationed in England and was flying as a copilot on a B-17 bomber when his aircraft was attacked by a large force of enemy fighters. The pilot received a severe head wound that left him crazed, and fell over the controls with the wheel in his arms. Morgan took the controls on his side and, despite the frantic struggles of the pilot, brought the aircraft under control and back into the formation. Because the interphone had been destroyed it was impossible to call for assistance. The waist and tail gunners were unconscious because of damage to the oxygen system in the rear compartment. Hearing no fire from their guns, Morgan concluded that they had bailed out. He faced the prospect of flying the plane to the target and back to England unassisted. For two hours he flew in formation, with one hand holding off the pilot and the other on the controls, until the navigator entered the pilot's compartment and relieved the situation. Morgan's heroic performance resulted in the successful completion of a vital bombing mission and the safe return of the aircraft and crew. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for "gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty." He continued to fly missions until he was shot down in 1944. His story was fictionalized in the novel Twelve O'Clock High! by Sy Bartlett (1948).
On this day in 1954, the Anglo-Texan Society in London held its first official affair—a barbecue. Fifteen hundred guests enjoyed the celebration and feasted on 2,800 pounds of beef generously donated by the Houston Fat Stock Show. Author Graham Greene founded the group in London in late 1953 and welcomed persons with “definite connections with both Texas and Great Britain.” The society promoted friendly relations between Texans and Britons during a time when Great Britain had increased ties with the Lone Star State and its oil. Architect O’Neil Ford was an enthusiastic participant. The organization enjoyed its heyday under the leadership of Sir Alfred Bossom, a member of Parliament. The society met four times a year for merry Mexican food luncheons and dynamic speakers. By the mid-1960s the fun-loving glory days of the Anglo-Texan Society were over. The group disbanded in 1979.