National Day of Canada. In 1867 the Dominion of Canada was established.

1534: Birth of Frederick II, King of Denmark and Norway. He was an enlightened ruler and a patron of the arts and sciences. He granted the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe an island on which to build his observatory. His policies brought prosperity to the nation.

1690: William III of Great Britain, supported by the French, won the battle of the Boyne in Ireland against the Roman Catholic forces of James II. The victory opened the way to a reconquest of the Irish.

1837: Beginning of the first Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

1838: At the Linnean Society in London, Charles Darwin and the naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace presented a paper on Darwin’s theory of evolution. His Origin of Species was not published until 1859.

1847: In the US the first adhesive stamps went on sale, for five cents or ten cents.

1863: The Battle of Gettysburg began with an attack on the North by Confederate General Robert E Lee, but it ended after three days with retreat and huge scale losses on both sides.

1872: Birth of Louis Blériot, French aviator. He was an inventor of car lights and accessories, and he used the money he made from that to develop planes, one of which he flew across the English Channel.

1903: Birth of Amy Johnson, English aviator. Johnson made a solo flight from England to Australia, and later, with her husband Jim Mollison, flew across the North Atlantic in 1933. The couple made more pioneering flights before their marriage ended in 1938.

1912: The first Royal Variety Command Performance took place at the Palace Theatre, London.

1916: Coca-Cola adopted its distinctive contoured bottle to stay one step ahead of their rivals.

1929: Elzie Segar created Popeye, the spinach-loving cartoon sailor.

1937: Britain implemented the 999 number for Emergency Services, the first of its kind in the world.

1941: The Bulova company broadcast the first television commercial on WNBT in New York. A clock was shown for twenty seconds, accompanied by a voice-over, costing the advertisers $9 for an audience of not more than 4,700. TV commercials began to appear in the UK in 1955.

1961: Birth of Lady Diana Spencer, later the Princess of Wales.

1967: BBC2 began colour television in Britain.

1969: The investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales took place at Caernarvon Castle.

1974: Laura Ashley opened a shop in San Francisco, her first in the US.

1977: The 31-year-old Virginia Wade won the women’s singles championships at Wimbledon in its Centenary Year.

1984: Naples signed up the Argentinean football star Diego Maradona for £1 million.


1489: Birth of Thomas Cranmer, Henry VIII’s first reformed Archbishop of Canterbury, responsible for the Book of Common Prayer.

1644: The tide turned in the Civil War when Oliver Cromwell’s Roundheads won the Battle of Marston Moor against Prince Rupert’s Royalist Cavaliers.

1865: William Booth formed the Salvation Army at a revivalist meeting at Whitechapel, London.

1900: Maiden flight of the Zeppelin from Lake Constance near Friedrichshafen, Germany.

1903: Birth in England of King Olaf V of Norway, who succeeded his father Haakon VII in 1957. He was also an Olympic yachtsman, representing his country in 1928.

1903: Birth of Sir Alec Douglas Home, who was briefly the Tory Prime Minister from 1963-64, succeeding Macmillan. In 1964 he renounced his title as 14th Earl of Home to fight the general election, which he lost.

1937: The US aviators Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan took off from New Guinea to Howland Island in the central Pacific during their attempt to fly around the world. They disappeared, never to be seen again.

1938: Helen Wills Moody of the US won her eighth Wimbledon women’s singles title - a record.

1938: Birth of Dr David Owen, who went on to become a Foreign Minister in the Labour government, then the British leader of the Social Democrat Party.

1951: 41 died and 200,000 were left homeless when Kansas and Missouri were hit by the worst floods in US history.

1954: Jaroslav Drobny and Ken Rosewall played the longest ever final at Wimbledon. Drobny finally won 13-11, 4-6, 6-2, 9-7, despite a bad knee.

1956: Elvis Presley recorded ‘Hound Dog’ and ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ in RCA’s studio in New York. Buddy Holly’s first record ‘Love Me’ was also released today. Presley’s songs reached Number One, but Holly and the Crickets had to wait until the following year with ‘That’ll Be the Day’.

1964: President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Bill prohibiting racial discrimination in the US.


1608: Quebec was founded by the French explorer Samuel de Champlain.

1898: Captain Joshua Slocum completed the world’s first solo boat trip around the world when he reached Newport, Rhode Island in his fishing boat Spray. The journey had taken just over three years.

1905: 6,000 people were killed in Odessa as Russian troops moved to restore order during a general strike.

1916: 100,000 were killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. The British and French offensive against the Germans was one of the most devastating battles of our time. The British went ‘over the top’ (of their trenches) in waves, only to be cut down by the enemy.

1920: William Tilden won the men’s singles title at Wimbledon, the first US player to do so.

1928: John Logie Baird demonstrated the first colour TV transmission in his studio in Long Acre, Covent Garden, London.

1938: In Britain, The Mallard set a world speed record for steam locomotives when it reached 126 mph.

1954: Nearly nine years after the end of World War II, rationing finally ended in Britain.

1962: Algeria was granted independence as French President de Gaulle signed the declaration.

1976: 103 hostages were rescued by Israeli commandos in a night raid on Entebbe Airport, Uganda. An Air France airliner had been diverted there by Palestinian hijackers who had counted on help from Idi Amin. The Israeli commandos flew 2,500 miles and landed in three large transport planes in the dark. It took only 35 minutes for them to kill all the hijackers and 20 Ugandan troops who were guarding the hostages. Three hostages and one commando were killed in the crossfire. As a parting gesture, the commandos destroyed 11 Russian Mig aircraft on the ground before taking off for Nairobi, where they refuelled before the flight back to Tel Aviv.

1987: The 73-year-old Klaus Barbie, a former SS officer, was sentenced to life imprisonment for war crimes committed in France.

1988: During the Iran-Iraq conflict, the US Vincennes, on patrol in the Gulf, mistook an Iranian civil airliner for a bomber and shot it down, killing all 290 people on board.


1753: Birth of Jean Pierre Blanchard, French balloonist. Blanchard had originally tried to build a flying machine, but gave up and resorted to ballooning instead. He made the first flight across the Channel in January 1785. During another flight, he tested the parachute by dropping one harnessed to a dog. He later made several successful parachute jumps and demonstrated his balloons in Europe and North America.

1776: Independence Day for the United States: the American Congress voted for independence from Britain. The Declaration of Independence was later signed by Thomas Jefferson.

1807: Birth of Giuseppe Garibaldi, Italian patriot. Garibaldi and his Redshirts fought to make Italy a single, unified nation. In 1860 he recaptured Naples and Sardinia for the new Italian kingdom.

1817: Construction of the Erie Canal began this day.

1826: Death of John Adams, second US President, and Thomas Jefferson, third US President. They had both wanted to live until the 50th anniversary of the Declaration. Jefferson died at one p.m., Adams a few hours later.

1829: The first regular horse-drawn bus service began in London, between Marylebone Road and Bank.

1831: Death of James Monroe, 5th President of the United States.

1840: The paddle steamer Britannia set sail from Liverpool to begin the Cunard Line’s first Atlantic crossing. The voyage took just over 14 days.

1845: Birth in Dublin of Thomas John Barnardo, philanthropist and founder of the famous Dr Barnardo’s homes for some of London’s many destitute children. (In fact, he was not a medical doctor.)

1848: Publication of The Communist Manifesto.

1872: Birth of John Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States.

1892: James Keir Hardie became the first Socialist to win a seat in the British Parliament when he stood in the general election for Holytown, Lanarkshire.

1904: Construction began on the 40-mile-long Panama Canal.

1910: ‘The Great White Hope’ John Jeffries came out of retirement to try to win the world heavyweight title in Reno from Jack Johnson, the first black champion. Jeffries’ nose was broken in the 15th round and the fight was stopped, leading to racial violence in many parts of the US.

1919: Jack Dempsey, the ‘Manassa Mauler’, beat Jess Willard, world heavyweight boxing champion for the previous four years. Willard was down seven times in the first round, which should have ended the fight, but the referee let it continue until the fourth.

1946: Manuel Roxas became the first President of the Philippines as the US granted the islands their independence.

1969: The 30-year-old Ann Jones of Britain beat Billie-Jean King for the Wimbledon women’s singles champion. It was her 14th attempt.


National Day of Venezuela. In 1811 Simón Bolívar declared its independence from Spain.

1791: George Hammond was appointed the first British ambassador to the US.

1817: The first gold sovereign coins were issued in Britain.

1853: Birth of Cecil John Rhodes, English colonialist and financier. Rhodes was noted for his commercial exploitation of southern Africa, where he gained control of the world’s major diamond and gold mines. He took part in the notorious Jameson Raid, an attempt to overthrown the Boers in the gold-rich Transvaal, and the incident led to his resignation as Prime Minister. He expanded further north and formed the country of Rhodesia, named after him.

1865: Britain introduced the first speed limit in the world to cover all steam-driven and petrol-driven vehicles. The Locomotives and Highways Act stipulated a maximum speed of 2 mph. At that time there were only two cars in the whole country!

1888: Three match girls were sacked from the Bryant and May Match factory in London for giving Annie Besant information about working conditions. The other 672 employees went on strike, a landmark for women workers in Britain.

1911: Birth of Georges (Jean Raymond) Pompidou, Premier of France from 1962-8 and President from 1969 to 1974, when he died.

1919: Suzanne Longlen of France won the women’s singles championship at Wimbledon. She was the first to wear the ‘short’ dress, very startling at that time.

1945: Churchill lost the General Election after leading Britain throughout World War II. Attlee’s Labour Party won 393 seats to the Tories’ 213, against 12 Liberals and 22 Independents.

1948: Birth of Jean Murray, the first baby to be born on the National Health, on the stroke of midnight in Ashton-in-Makerfield near Wigan.

1952: 17-year-old American Maureen Connolly, or ‘Little Mo’, won the women’s singles title at Wimbledon. She was not the youngest ever to win; Lottie Dod of England won in 1887, aged only 15.

1965: Maria Callas gave her last performance, aged 41. She sang Tosca at Covent Garden.

1967: Israel annexed Gaza.

1969: Three days after Brian Jones’ death, the Rolling Stones played to an audience of 250,000 in a free concert in Hyde Park.

1975: Arthur Ashe became Wimbledon’s first black men’s singles champion when he beat his compatriot Jimmy Connors.

1977: General Zia ul-Huq arrested Pakistan’s Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in a military coup.

1979: The Isle of Man celebrated 1000 years of its ‘Tynewald’, or Parliament.

1980: Bjorn Borg of Sweden became the only player this century to win the Wimbledon men’s singles championship five times in a row.

1987: Martina Navratilova won the Wimbledon title for a record sixth time, against Steffi Graf.

1989: Former Marine colonel Oliver North was fined $150,000 and given a suspended prison sentence for his participation in the Iran-Contra affair.


1189: Richard I (‘the Lionheart’) became king on the death of his father, Henry II.

1553: Mary I acceded to the throne, the first queen to rule autonomously in England. Her persecution of the Protestants led to her nickname ‘Bloody Mary’.

1832: Birth of Maximilian, Archduke of Austria and Emperor of Mexico. He acceded to the throne in the naïve belief that the people supported him; in fact deals had been struck behind the scenes to ensure his position.

1886: The Daily Telegraph was the first to use box numbers in classified advertising.

1892: Dadabhai Naoraji became MP for Central Finsbury, the first coloured MP in Britain.

1907: The world’s first purpose-built motor racing track opened at Brooklands, Surrey.

1919: The British airship R34 crossed the Atlantic from Edinburgh to New York in 108 hours, the first airship to do so.

1928: The Lights of New York was premiered, the first feature-length all-sound film. (The Jazz Singer had sound for only part of its length.)

1935: Birth of the Dalai Lama, 14th spiritual leader of Tibet. In 1959 he fled to India after a failed uprising against the Chinese communist troops occupying his country.

1921: Birth of Nancy Reagan, former First Lady of the US. She started out as an actress who appeared in several mediocre films with Ronald Reagan.

1952: London’s last tram made its final journey.

1957: Althea Gibson of the US was the first black winner of the women’s singles title at Wimbledon.

1957: The 17-year-old John Lennon was appearing at a church fete with his Quarrymen, when a friend introduced him to the 15-year-old Paul McCartney.

1964: Premiere of the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night in London, attended by Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon.

1968: The first Wimbledon Open was won by Australia’s Rod Laver as the men’s champion, and Billie-Jean King as the women’s.

1988: 167 men were killed in an explosion aboard Piper Alpha, the worst off-shore oil rig disaster in history. Some of the bodies were never found.


1752: Birth of Joseph Marie Jacquard, French silk weaver and loom inventor who started the technological revolution in the textile industry. Napoleon gave him a medal and a patent for his loom, which was made public property with a royalty paid to Jacquard for each machine. Silk weavers, fearing for their jobs, burned the new looms, but by 1812 11,000 looms were operating in France. The pattern was controlled by punch cards, the same system used by Charles Babbage, the computer inventor, to store data.

1814: Publication of Sir Walter Scott’s historical novel Waverley.

1853: US naval officer Matthew Perry sailed into the Japanese harbour of Uraga with two frigates and two other vessels, insisting that the government meet his delegation. The Japanese had no defence and agreed to the meeting, which ended Japan’s isolation by opening the way to trade.

1950: The Farnborough Airshow was held. It was the first real airshow ever to take place.

1967: Francis Chichester, who had sailed solo around the world in Gypsy Moth IV, was knighted. The Queen used Sir Francis Drake’s sword.

1982: A serious gap in Palace security came to light when Michael Fagan broke into Buckingham Palace, and asked the Queen for a cigarette while sitting on the end of her bed.

1985: Live Aid, the pop concert organized by Bob Geldof, was broadcast to 160 countries and raised over £50 million for the famine victims of Ethiopia.

1985: The unseeded player Boris Becker won the men’s singles championship at Wimbledon. At 17, he was the youngest man ever to hold the title.

1988: The youngest pilot ever to fly the Atlantic, an 11-year-old Californian boy, took off from San Diego. He landed at Le Bourget in Paris on the 13th.


1497: Vasco da Gama set sail from Lisbon with four ships, in search of a sea route to India.

1836: Birth of Joseph Chamberlain, English politician and social reformer. Chamberlain introduced a system of preferential tariffs which consolidated the British Empire.

1838: Birth of Ferdinand Adolf August Heinrich, Count von Zeppelin, German soldier and builder of rigid dirigibles which bore his name. He made his first balloon flight during the US Civil War, where he served as a military observer for the Union Army.

1839: Birth of John Davison Rockefeller, US multimillionaire. He built his first refinery in 1863, and went on to found the Standard Oil Company in 1870. Later in life he devoted himself to philanthropy.

1851: Birth of Sir Arthur John Evans, English archaeologist who excavated the ruins of the ancient city of Knossos in Crete.

1892: Inspector Eduardo Alvarez found bloody fingerprints at a murder scene in La Plata, Buenos Aires Province. The fingerprints were checked against those of the suspect, and those of the mother of the two murdered children, who accused her neighbour of killing them. The fingerprints matched the mother’s and she confessed, the first person to be convicted on the evidence of fingerprints.

1907: Ziegfeld’s Follies of 1907, his first, opened on this day. The titles always had 13 characters for good luck.

1918: National Savings stamps went on sale in Britain.

1943: Jean Moulin (‘Max’), the French Resistance leader, was executed after being tortured by the Gestapo.

1961: Christine Truman and Angela Mortimer played the women’s singles final at Wimbledon, the first in which both players were English. Mortimer lost in three sets.

1963: Margaret Smith was the first Australian to win the Wimbledon women’s singles title.

1965: At the Chesterfield Stakes at Newmarket, starting gates were used for the first time for horseracing in Britain.

1988: A London double-decker bus parked in Orville Road, Battersea, was put on sale for £40,000. It had been converted into a luxury home to overcome rising property prices in the capital.


National Day of Argentina commemorating its declaration of independence from Spain in 1816.

1877: The first Wimbledon Lawn Tennis championship took place.

1887: Paper manufacturers John Dickenson introduced the first paper napkins at their annual dinner at the Castle Hotel, Hastings.

1900: The Royal Assent was given to the act creating a federal Commonwealth of Australia.

1916: Birth of Edward (Richard George) Heath, British Prime Minister from 1970 to 1974. In 1972 Heath took Britain into the EEC.

1922: 18-year-old Johnny Weissmuller swam the 100 metres in 58.6 seconds. He went on to play Tarzan in Hollywood.

1925: 22-year-old Oonagh Keogh became the first female member of a stock exchange when she was admitted to the floor of the Dublin Stock Exchange. Britain did not allow a woman to join a stock exchange until forty years later.

1938: 35 million gas masks went into Britain’s shops, the first time that gas masks were introduced to civilians in anticipation of the Second World War.

1954: 24-year-old Peter Thompson of Australia was the youngest-ever winner of the British Open golf championship.

1969: In a zoo in Ireland, the first rhino in captivity gave birth.

1984: A bolt of lightning struck York Minster. The south transept was seriously damaged, but the famous Rose Window survived.


1792: Birth of Captain Frederick Marryat, English novelist. He wrote adventure stories and tales of life at sea. In 1847 he wrote the children’s classic The Children of the New Forest, about the English Civil War.

1830: Birth in the Danish West Indies of Camille Pisarro, French Impressionist painter. He produced over 1,600 works despite serious eye problems.

1834: Birth of James (Abbott) McNeill Whistler, US painter and etcher. He spent part of his childhood in Russia, then attended the US military academy at West Point before travelling to Europe to study painting. He remained in Europe, painting richly atmospheric pictures of London and Venice, and innovative full-length portraits. His portrait of his mother hangs in the Louvre.

1871: Birth of Marcel Proust, French author. From 1917 to 1925 he wrote Remembrance of Things Past, one of the greatest novels ever written. He spent his life in artistic salons and society gatherings. After the death of his parents, he became a virtual recluse, suffering from severe asthma and hypochondria.

1895: Birth of Carl Orff, German composer. His most famous works are his secular oratorio Carmina Burana and the opera Prometheus.

1900: Opening of the Paris Metro.

1917: Birth of Reg Smythe, English cartoonist and creator of Andy Capp, a working-class anti-hero.

1958: Britain’s first parking meters were installed in Mayfair.

1962: Launch of Telstar I, the first communications satellite. The next day it transmitted a special inaugural television programme.

1970: David Broome won the World Showjumping Championship in France, the first British rider ever to win.

1976: The Italian town of Sveso was evacuated after an explosion at a chemical factory filled the sky with a poisonous cloud. Crops and 40,000 animals died, and there was a huge rise in abnormal births.

1985: The Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior was badly damaged by an explosion in Auckland harbour. Nine people escaped, but a photographer died. French agents had tried to prevent the ship sailing into the Pacific to protest in a French nuclear testing area. The agents were arrested after the incident.

1989: Footballer Maurice Johnson was transferred to Scotland’s Rangers FC for £1.5 million. He had to have a police guard, being the first Catholic to play for the club which had been exclusively Protestant.


1274: Birth of Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, who seized the throne in 1306, won the Battle of Bannockburn against the English in 1314, and united the clans.

1657: Birth of Frederick I, first King of Prussia from 1701-13, who established the new kingdom and brought it to political and cultural prominence.

1754: Birth of Thomas Bowdler, English doctor who gave his name to the process of ‘bowdlerizing’ when he produced his Family Shakespeare by taking out all the naughty bits.

1767: Birth of John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States from 1825-29. He campaigned against slavery.

1776: Captain Cook set sail from Plymouth on his third and last voyage of exploration.

1789: In France, Lafayette presented his draft Rights of Man and the Citizen to the revolutionary National Assembly.

1916: Birth of (Edward) Gough Whitlam, who combined his duties as Australian Prime Minister from 1972-75 with the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs.

1950: Andy Pandy, the children’s programme, had its first showing on BBC television.

1975: Over 6,000 life-sized terracotta figures of warriors were unearthed near the ancient Chinese capital of Xian. The army had been made around 206 BC to guard the tomb of the first Ch-in emperor.

1979: Skylab returned to earth after six years. As it reached the earth’s atmosphere, the 79-ton structure burned up and shattered over Western Australia, creating a spectacular firework effect.

1986: British newspapers were prohibited from printing material from Peter Wright’s Spycatcher.


100 BC: Birth of Gaius Julius Caesar. At the time of his birth this month was called Quintilis, but was renamed in honour of the most famous general in Roman history, who became a dictator.

1543: Sixth and last marriage of Henry VIII, to Catherine Parr at Hampton Court. She outlived him.

1730: Birth of Josiah Wedgwood, English pottery designer and manufacturer. He worked in his family’s pottery business at Churchyard Works, Burslem, Staffordshire. He contracted smallpox and his right leg was amputated; while convalescing, he spent a great deal of time on research and experimentation, and as a result, Wedgwood pieces became prized all over the world.

1817: Birth of Henry David Thoreau, US author and naturalist. He went to live in the woods, writing many books about his time there, among them Early Spring in Massachusetts.

1845: The first performance of Pas de Quatre was staged before Queen Victoria at a Royal Command Performance in London.

1878: Turkey handed over Cyprus to British administration.

1920: The Panama Canal was opened by President Wilson.

1930: Don Bradman, the Australian batsman, hit 309 runs in one day in the Test at Headingly, Leeds. He broke records not only for the most runs in a single day, but with his final score of 334.

1969: Tony Jacklin won the British Open, the first British golfer to win since 1951.

1989: In a court in Cleveland, Ohio, a shouting woman, who had been convicted for stealing jewellery, was ordered by the judge to have her mouth taped shut.


1527: Birth of John Dee, English alchemist and mathematician. He was astrologer to Mary Tudor before being imprisoned for practising magic. He was not disgraced for long, casting horoscopes for Elizabeth I and naming the day for her coronation. He also advised navigators and explorers. The real importance of his work lay in encouraging an interest in mathematics, though he was more popular for the ‘magic shows’ which he gave while touring the courts of Europe.

1837: Queen Victoria was the first monarch to live in Buckingham Palace.

1859: Birth of Sidney James Webb, English social reformer with his wife, Beatrice. Leading lights of the Fabian Society, they also founded the London School of Economics and the socialist journal, the New Statesman.

1911: This was the night of the 1911 census. A suffragette hid in a broom cupboard in the House of Commons so she could record The House of Commons as her address, ‘thus making my claim to the same right as men’.

1923: A bill was passed by the British Parliament which outlawed the sale of alcohol to anyone under the age of 18.

1930: The World Cup began in Montevideo, Uruguay. The home team won against 13 other countries on this inaugural competition. Britain did not participate because of the expense and the long sea voyage.

1939: Frank Sinatra recorded ‘From the Bottom of My Heart’ with the Harry James Band - his first record.

1947: Europe accepted Marshall Aid from the United States. Marshall Aid was financial assistance to help recovery after World War II, especially for certain countries which were in danger of bankruptcy.

1973: The Everly Brothers disbanded in mid-concert in California: Phil smashed his guitar and left Don on stage to finish the gig by himself.


Bastille Day, the national day of France, commemorating the storming of the Bastille in 1789. The Bastille in Paris was the notorious state prison. It was razed to the ground, marking the beginning of the Revolution.

National day of Iraq. This day marks the assassination in 1958 of King Faisal in a military coup led by General Kassem, after which Iraq became a republic.

1858: Birth of Emmeline Pankhurst. The English suffragette, with her daughters Christabel and Sylvia, endured imprisonment and hunger strikes during a 40-year campaign.

1865: Edward Whymper and his team were the first to reach the 14,690-foot summit of the Matterhorn. It was Whymper’s seventh attempt.

1867: At a quarry in Redhill, Surrey, England, Alfred Nobel carried out the first demonstration of dynamite.

1902: The Campanile of St Mark’s Cathedral in Venice collapsed suddenly during a safety inspection.

1913: Birth of Gerald (Rudolph) Ford (Leslie Lynch King), 38th US President. He took his name from his stepfather, Gerald Ford, who married his mother and adopted him, his parents having divorced when he was very small. Ford was Vice-President to Richard Nixon and took over after Nixon was forced to resign.

1930: BBC Television broadcast its first play, an adaptation of Pirandello’s The Man With A Flower In His Mouth.

1959: Launch of the first nuclear warship, the 14,000-ton cruiser USS Long Beach.

1965: Mademoiselle Vaucher was the first woman to reach the summit of the Matterhorn.


St Swithun’s Day, named after the Anglo-Saxon saint. It is said that if it rains today, it will rain for 40 days. St Swithun was bishop of Winchester Cathedral, and asked to be buried outside it so he would be exposed to ‘the feet of passers-by and the drops falling from above’.

1099: The Muslim governor of Jerusalem surrendered to the Crusaders in the Tower of David. The Crusaders were led by Godfrey and Robert of Flanders and Tancred of Normandy.

1795: Rouget de Lisle’s Marseillaise became the French national anthem.

1857: British troops, among them women and children, were killed and their bodies thrown into a well in the Massacre of Cawnpore, at an Indian frontier station. The well is now a memorial to the victims.

1865: Birth of Alfred (Charles William) Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe. Northcliffe introduced the first tabloid newspaper, the Daily Mail, followed later by the Daily Mirror. He also took over The Times in 1908, and improved its declining sales.

1869: Margarine was patented by Hippolyte Mège Mouries in Paris.

1881: Death of Billy the Kid (William H Bonney), the notorious outlaw. He had broken out of jail and was trying to escape re-arrest, when he was shot in New Mexico by Sheriff Pat Garrett. Billy the Kid was 12 when he first killed a man, and went on to murder 21 more people.

1912: Lloyd George’s social insurance plan came into force in Britain.

1916: Pacific Aero Products was formed by William Edward Boeing.

1933: Wiley Post, the US aviator, took off in Winnie Mae on the first solo round-the-world flight. He made ten stops for refuelling, to complete the journey on the 22nd.

1938: Howard Hughes, then aged 32, set off on a round-the-world flight, completing the journey in a record three days, 19 hours and 14 minutes.

1948: Alcoholics Anonymous started up in Britain, 13 years after it was first formed in the States.

1949: Jaroslav Drobny, Wimbledon tennis champion of only two weeks, defected to the West.

1954: The first Boeing 707 jetliner took off from Seattle.


This day in 622 is traditionally regarded as the beginning of the Islamic Era. Muhammad fled to Medina from persecution in Mecca, in what is known as the hegira, Arabic for ‘flight’.

1661: The first banknotes in Europe were issued by the Bank of Stockholm.

1867: Joseph Monier of Paris patented reinforced concrete.

1872: Birth of Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian explorer who was the first to reach the South Pole.

1885: A nine-year-old boy from Alsace received the first successful rabies treatment from Louis Pasteur.

1896: Birth of Trygve Lie, Norwegian statesman. Lie was the first Secretary-General of the United Nations.

1918: In a cellar in a house in Ekaterinburg, the entire Russian royal family was shot by the Bolsheviks: Tsar Nicholas II, the princesses, the servants, the family doctor, and even the dog.

1935: Carlton Magee’s invention, the parking meter, was introduced in Oklahoma City.

1936: George Andrew MacMahon was arrested in an attempt to assassinate King Edward VIII. The Scottish journalist did not even get to fire a shot.

1945: In New Mexico, the first atomic bomb developed by Robert Oppenheimer and his team at Los Alamos was detonated. It was the official beginning of the atomic age.

1948: The first turbo-prop aircraft, the Vickers Viscount, had its maiden flight.

1950: 205,000 people formed the largest crowd ever to attend a football match. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil lost 1-2 in the Brazil-Uruguay World Cup match.

1969: Apollo II was launched, manned by astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins.

1970: Prime Minister Edward Heath called Britain’s first state of emergency since 1926 in response to the dockers’ strike.

1988: In Kandy, Sri Lanka, thousands of mourners gathered at a Buddhist temple for the death of 81-year-old Raja, a holy elephant and ‘national treasure’.

1988: Lord Harewood, the Queen’s cousin, brought in police to investigate the theft of the world’s smallest horse, Pernod, a 27-inch-high Shetland stallion.


1790: The first sewing machine was patented by Thomas Saint of London. However, it does not seem ever to have been manufactured.

1793: Execution of Charlotte Corday, for the murder of Marat, the French revolutionary. After she was guillotined, the executioner held up her head before the crowd and slapped her face. A doctor who saw the execution reported that the cheeks turned red and ‘her countenance expressed the most unequivocal marks of indignation’. Clearly the head survived for a few moments after being separated from the body.

1841: Publication in London of the first issue of Punch.

1876: Birth of Maksim Litvinov, Soviet statesman. He was arrested for propaganda activities in 1917, when he represented the Bolshevik government in Britain before it was recognized. A prisoner exchange was later carried out when he was traded for Robert Bruce Lockhart, a British journalist who had been detained while on a special assignment in the Soviet Union.

1909: Birth of Hardy Amies, fashion designer, dressmaker to the Queen.

1917: The British royal family changed their name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor.

1945: At the end of the Second World War, world leaders Truman, Stalin and Churchill met at the Potsdam Conference to plan for a peaceful future.

1951: Dublin’s famous Abbey Theatre burned down. That evening’s play concluded with soldiers on stage singing ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’.

1968: Premiere of Yellow Submarine, the animated film with a soundtrack by the Beatles.

1975: US astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts crossed over from their docked spacecraft to shake hands at an altitude of 140 miles.


National Day of Spain.

64 BC: Rome burned, and legend has it that Nero fiddled (or played a lyre) as the fire gutted two-thirds of the city. In fact, one of the few things Nero deserves credit for is rebuilding Rome after the fire.

1870: The Vatican Council proclaimed the dogma of Papal infallibility in faith and morals - that is, that the Pope could not be mistaken in these matters.

1877: Edison had his first success in his experiments with recording and storing the sounds of the human voice. He worked to improve his methods, and early the next year he demonstrated his invention at the offices of the Scientific American.

1887: Birth of Vidkun Quisling (Abraham Lauritz Jonsson), Norwegian army officer whose name has become a synonym for ‘traitor’. He formed a fascist party in 1933, and in 1940 urged the Nazis to occupy Norway. When the war ended he was tried and executed for treason.

1918: Birth of Nelson (Rolihlahla) Mandela, leader of the African National Congress (ANC). The South African lawyer and politician earned the nickname ‘Black Pimpernel’ in 1961, when he was on the run from police. In 1964 he was imprisoned for plotting to overthrow the government, and he remained in custody until 1990. He went on to be elected President of South Africa.

1919: Unveiling of the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London. It was designed as a First World War memorial by Sir Edward Lutyens, and served its purpose again for the Second World War.

1921: Birth of John (Herschel) Glenn, who in 1962 became the first US astronaut to orbit the earth.

1925: Publication of Hitler’s Mein Kampf (My Struggle), written while he was in jail.

1936: General Francisco Franco led the army in a revolt against Spain’s Republican government, beginning over three years of Civil War.

1955: Disneyland opened at Anaheim, California. It had cost $17 million to build Walt Disney’s 160-acre theme park.

1969: Senator Edward Kennedy was driving an Oldsmobile when it crashed into the Chappaquiddick River near Martha’s Vineyard. The Senator escaped, but Mary Jo Kopechne, who was also in the car, was drowned. Scandalously, Kennedy waited almost ten hours before reporting the incident. He was later given a two-month suspended sentence for leaving the scene of the accident.

1984: 20 people were killed and 16 wounded in San Ysidro, California, when a security guard who said he hated Mondays walked into a McDonald’s and fired at random. He was shot by a police marksman, but by then he had created the largest death toll by a gunman in a single day in US crime history.


1545: 700 people died when the Mary Rose, the pride of Henry VIII’s battle fleet, keeled over in the Solent. The ship was finally raised in 1982.

1814: Birth of Samuel Colt. Colt spent time at sea, during which he created a six-shot revolver out of wood. He patented his invention in 1835, but it was not immediately successful, and his manufacturing business suffered. His guns had gained popularity by the time he invented the first remote-controlled naval mine, and Colt made his fortune. He was a progressive businessman, with advanced ideas about the welfare of his workers.

1821: George IV was crowned King of Great Britain. His estranged wife Caroline, from whom he had separated after a brief, loveless marriage, travelled from Italy to claim her rights but was prevented from attending the coronation. She died on 7 August.

1837: Brunel’s steamship, the Great Western, was launched at Bristol.

1843: Brunel’s Great Britain, the first all-metal liner, was launched from Wapping Dock. It ended up a rusting ruin in the Falkland Islands, but was brought back to Britain on this day in 1970.

1848: At the Seneca Falls convention in New York State, Amelia Bloomer, the women’s rights campaigner, introduced ‘bloomers’, which she described as ‘the lower part of a rational dress’.

1860: Birth of Lizzie Borden, anti-heroine of the rhyme ‘Lizzie Borden took an axe/And gave her mother forty whacks/When she saw what she had done/She gave her father forty-one’. In 1892, the bodies of her father and stepmother were found locked in their house in Fall River, Massachusetts. Borden, a Sunday-school teacher and member of the Christian Endeavour Society, was acquitted after a 13-day trial, and the case remained unsolved.

1865: Birth of Charles Horace Mayo, US surgeon and co-founder, with his two brothers, of the Mayo Clinic.

1877: Spencer Gore won the first ever men’s singles title at Wimbledon.

1903: The first Tour de France cycle race, devised and promoted by journalist Henri Desgranger, saw its first winner as Maurice Garin crossed the finish line.


1588: The Spanish Armada set sail from Coruña. They had originally intended to sail a month earlier, but a severe storm forced the fleet to disperse.

1837: London’s first railway station, Euston, was opened.

1871: The Football Association proposed an FA Challenge Cup competition.

1875: Professional football was legalized in England.

1889: Birth in Scotland of Sir John (Charles Walsham) Reith, 1st Baron. A radio engineer, he became the first General Manager of the BBC in 1922, and Director-General from 1927-38. He had high aspirations for radio communication, and his successful efforts to produce high-quality programmes established an international reputation for the BBC.

1919: Birth in New Zealand of Sir Edmund (Percival) Hillary. A mountaineer and Antarctic explorer, he teamed up with Sherpa Tenzing to be the first to reach the summit of Everest. He later became New Zealand High Commissioner to India.

1940: In the US, Billboard published the first singles charts. No. 1 was ‘I’ll Never Smile Again’ by the Tommy Dorsey Band, vocal by Frank Sinatra.

1941: Launch in Britain of the ‘V for Victory’ campaign, using the opening notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, which sound like dot-dot-dot-dash, and which were also used by the BBC in their overseas broadcasts.

1944: Summary execution in Berlin of army officer Claus Graf (Schenk) von Stauffenberg. Von Stauffenberg had placed a bomb in Hitler’s headquarters in Rastenburg, under a table in a meeting room, but the assassination attempt failed. In the meantime, a coup in Berlin also failed, and after von Stauffenberg was killed a thousand more people were executed.

1957: British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan invited ridicule when he said ‘Let’s be frank about it. Most of our people have never had it so good,’ at a meeting in Bradford, and again five days later in the House of Commons. It became a catchphrase, spoken in the same derisory tones as his nickname, ‘Supermac’.

1968: During an interview on BBC TV, actress Jane Asher announced that she was breaking off her engagement with Paul McCartney, so that McCartney heard the news at the same time as millions of viewers.

1976: The US Viking spacecraft sent back television pictures of the rocky Gold Plain on Mars, where it had made a soft landing.

1982: Two guardsmen and seven army horses were killed, and seventeen spectators injured, as an IRA bomb exploded on the way to Horse Guards Parade for the changing of the guard


National day of Belgium, marking the day in 1831 when Belgium broke from the Netherlands to become a kingdom in its own right. Prince Leopold became King Leopold I of Belgium.

1620: Birth of Jean Piccard, French astronomer. Piccard was the first to calculate the size of the earth, and Newton made use of his data to verify his own theory of gravitation.

1798: Napoleon won the Battle of the Pyramids against the Mamelukes, following his invasion of Egypt.

1816: Birth in Germany of Paul Julius von Reuter. He formed a telegraph company to transmit commercial information, and in 1851 he established its headquarters in London. From then on, Reuters began to transmit general news items.

1861: The Battle of Bull Run ended with a Confederate victory in the first of two engagements during the American Civil War.

1897: On the site of Millbank Prison in London, the Tate Gallery opened its doors for the first time.

1904: Louis Rignolly of Ostend drove a 13.5 litre Gobron-Brillie at 103.56 mph, becoming the first driver to go faster than 100 mph.

1904: After 13 years, the 4,607-mile Trans-Siberian railway was finally completed.

1960: Francis Chichester, at the age of 58, set a new record of 40 days for a solo Atlantic crossing when he landed in New York in Gypsy Moth II.

1960: Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the first woman prime minister in the world when she took office in Sri Lanka after her husband’s assassination.

1966: Gwynfor Evans became the first Welsh Nationalist MP.

1969: At 3.56 am, British Standard Time, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin stepped out of Apollo II onto the surface of the Moon, as most of the Earth’s population watched on television. ‘That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind,’ said Armstrong.

1988: While landing at Baroda Airport, western India, an Indian Airlines Boeing 737 was charged by a bull who tried to take the jet by the horns. None of the passengers was hurt, but the bull died.


National day of Poland.

1284: According to legend, this is the day when the Pied Piper appeared in Hamelin, Brunswick, and agreed a deal with the burghers to remove the rats. When the burghers refused to pay, the Pied Piper led away all the town’s children.

1478: Birth of Philip I, who became King of Spain when the father of his wife, Joan the Mad, was forced to relinquish control of Castile.

1844: Birth of the Reverend William Archibald Spooner, Anglican clergyman and warden of New College, Oxford. Spooner sometimes muddled the first letters or syllables of a word, as, for example, when he described the Lord as a ‘shoving leopard’, or introduced a hymn as ‘Kinquering kongs their titles take’. This kind of transposition became known as a ‘Spoonerism’.

1890: Birth of Rose Kennedy, matriarch of the Kennedy family. Married to Senator Joseph Kennedy, one-time Ambassador to Britain, she had nine children. One of them, John F., became President; another, Robert, became attorney-general of the US (and both were assassinated); another, Edward, became a senator and might have become President but for the Chappaquiddick incident.

1917: After the overthrow of the Tsar, Aleksandr Kerensky became Prime Minister of the Russian provincial government.

1934: Death of bank robber John Dillinger, ‘public enemy No. 1’. J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, had offered a $10,000 reward for his capture, dead or alive. FBI agents received a tip-off that a particular man coming out of the Biograph Cinema, Chicago, would be Dillinger. The man appeared in the crowd, and when he appeared to reach for a gun, the agents shot him dead. However, some people have compared US Naval records of Dillinger’s description when he was a crewman, and suspect that he was not the man who was shot.


The National days of Ethiopia and the United Arab Republic.

1883: Birth of Alan Francis Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke. A British field marshal, he was Chief of Staff from 1941. A controversial figure, he criticized US strategy and questioned Eisenhower’s competence as a military commander.

1884: The Australian owner and crew of four on a yacht sailing from Britain to Sydney, were forced to abandon ship when the pump failed during a storm. Their provisions ran out; the cabin boy drank sea water and went mad. The others dealt with the problem by killing and eating him on this day. They were eventually rescued, and made no effort to hide what they had done. They were tried and sentenced to death, but as a result of public sympathy their sentence was reduced to six months’ imprisonment.

1892: Birth of Ras Tafari Makonnen, Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia. He modernized his country, but went into exile when the Italians invaded in 1936. Ethiopia was liberated by British and Ethiopian forces in 1941, whereupon he returned and resumed his position.

1913: Birth of Michael Foot, Labour Party leader from 1980-83.

1940: Winston Churchill renamed the Local Defence Volunteers, thenceforth known as the Home Guard.

1943: In Essex, there was a huge explosion when a grenade mine designed to blow up tanks, went off under the seat of a wheelchair occupied by a domestic tyrant. The man was accompanied by a resident nurse, and she survived, but there was no trace left of the wheelchair or its occupant. The man’s son, Eric, a soldier, who had been on the receiving end of his father’s tyranny, was charged with murder. He was found guilty, but insane.

1967: British cyclist Tony Simpson, aged 29, collapsed and died from the heat during the mountain stage of the Tour de France.

1986: Wedding of Prince Andrew to Lady Sarah Ferguson at Westminster Abbey.


1701: The city of Detroit was founded by Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, administrator in French North America, as a fur trading post which he called Font-Pontchartain du Détroit.

1704: Gibraltar was captured from Spain by Admiral Sir George Rooke and Sir Cloudesley Shovel.

1783: Birth of Simón Bolívar, South American liberator who gained independence for six republics, beginning with Venezuela. Bolivia is named after him.

1775: Birth of Eugène François Vidocq, founder of the world’s first detective force, the Brigade de Sûreté. He was dismissed after being accused of planning a theft, but started the world’s first private detective agency.

1824: The first public opinion poll, to assess electoral loyalties for the forthcoming Presidential election, was carried out in Wilmington, Delaware. The Harrisburg Pennsylvanian published the results, which placed Andrew Jackson ahead of John Quincy Adams.

1898: Birth of Amelia Earhart, US aviator. She made many pioneering flights, which encouraged future commercial flights as well as proving the worth of women in aviation. She was the first woman to fly solo over the Atlantic.

1925: At Guy’s Hospital, London, six-year-old Patricia Cheeseman received the first successful treatment with insulin.

1965: Freddie Mills, the former champion British boxer turned nightclub owner, was found shot dead in his car in Soho. He was suffering from financial difficulties, and it is not known whether his death was murder or suicide.


1554: Mary I of England (‘Bloody Mary’) made an unpopular marriage to Philip II of Spain.

1848: Birth in Scotland of Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl. He was British Prime Minister from 1902-5, and Foreign Secretary from 1916-19, when he made the Balfour Declaration promising a homeland in Palestine to the Zionists.

1888: Touch-typing was demonstrated for the first time by Frank McGurrin, the official stenographer for the Salt Lake City Federal Court. He beat typing instructor Luis Taub at speed-typing in a contest in Cincinnati. Taub typed with four fingers and had to look at the keyboard.

1909: Louis Blériot won the £1,000 prize that the Daily Mail offered to the first person to fly the Channel in either direction. He landed his Blériot XI in Dover after a 43-minute flight.

1917: The Dutch spy Mata Hari (Margaretha Geertruida Zelle) was sentenced to death.

1943: Fascism was outlawed in Italy. King Victor Emmanuel took control after Mussolini was deposed, and Marshal Badoglio, an anti-fascist, became Prime Minister.

1957: Habib Bourguiba became the first President of the new republic of Tunisia.

1959: The experimental SRNI hovercraft, one of several tested by Sir Christopher Cockerell, crossed the Channel in 50 minutes.

1989: ‘Ghost crossing’ signs were put up in southern Norway - a symbol of a ghost was used to warn motorists of the hazard, which locals claimed had caused accidents.


The National Day of Liberia, which in 1847 became the first African colony to gain independence.

1745: At Gosden Common near Guildford, Surrey, the neighbouring village of Hambledon played against Bramley in the first recorded women’s cricket match.

1788: New York was the 11th state to join the Union.

1875: Birth of Carl Gustav Jung, Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist. He founded a major school of thought in analytical psychology, and was the first to divide personalities into extrovert and introvert.

1908: Birth of Salvador Allende Gossens. He was the first Marxist to become president of Chile, holding office from 1970 until his death in 1973, when he was overthrown by a military coup.

1908: The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was formed by J. Edgar Hoover in Washington, DC.

1948: At White City, London, Freddie Mills of Great Britain became the world light heavyweight boxing champion when he beat Gus Lesnovich of the US on points.

1952: General Neguib forced the abdication of King Farouk of Egypt.

1956: President Nasser of Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal, provoking a confrontation with Britain, France and Israel.

1974: In Greece, ‘the Colonels’ announced that they would place the government in the hands of civilians. This brought an end to military rule.

1989: 56-year-old Leslie Merry was knocked off his feet, a rib broken and his spleen ruptured, by a turnip thrown from a passing car in east London. He finally died of respiratory failure brought on by the accident.


1824: Birth of Alexandre Dumas fils, illegitimate son of Dumas père. He adapted his own novel, La Dame aux Camélias, into a play, Camille, on which Verdi based the opera La Traviata.

1867: Birth of Enrique Granados, Spanish pianist and composer. The Goyescas, based on selected paintings by Goya, are probably his most famous works.

1870: Birth of (Joseph) Hilaire Belloc, English author of The Bad Child’s Book of Beasts, and a series of books on the French Revolution.

1904: Birth of Anton Dolin (Patrick Healey-Kay). As a dancer and choreographer, he co-founded the Markova-Dolin company with his partner Alicia Markova. In 1950 they founded the London Festival Ballet, now known as the English National Ballet.

1921: The first effective treatment for diabetes, insulin, was isolated by Sir Frederick Banting and Charles Best at the University of Toronto.

1929: Birth of Jack Higgins (Harry Patterson), author of The Eagle Has Landed. He was a senior lecturer in education for mature students at a Leeds college.

1949: Group Captain John Cunningham, chief test pilot for de Havilland and World War II night fighter hero, flew the world’s first jet airliner, the de Havilland Comet, on its maiden flight.

1953: Three years of war came to an end with the signature of the Korean armistice in Panmunjom. During that war, 1.5 million North Koreans and Chinese were killed or wounded, 116,000 UN troops were killed, and 54,000 US troops were killed.


National day of Peru, marking the occasion in 1821 when San Martin’s soldiers won the country’s independence from Spain.

1586: Sir Thomas Harriot brought the first potatoes to Britain when he docked at Plymouth after sailing from Colombia.

1858: William Herschel made his first use of fingerprints for identification. While he was in the Indian Civil Service, he began by obtaining a print from a local contractor. He went on to establish a fingerprint register.

1929: Birth of Jacqueline Bouvier, later Jacqueline Kennedy, wife of John F Kennedy. After Kennedy was assassinated, she went on to marry the millionaire shipowner Aristotle Onassis after he rejected Maria Callas.

1937: The former Rector of Stiffkey, Harold Davidson, was mauled by a lion. He was reduced to performing in showgrounds to earn a living, and part of his act involved putting his head into a lion’s mouth. He died two days after the incident.

1945: 11 people died, along with the three crew of a B-25 light bomber, when the plane crashed into the 78th floor of the Empire State Building while flying in fog. It was Saturday, and fortunately the offices were closed.

1959: The Postmaster-General introduced postcodes and new sorting machines into the Royal Mail.

1966: Florence Nagle won her case against the Jockey Club, who did not allow any woman to hold a licence to train horses. She and other women were training horses in Britain, but they had to run under the names of the head lads.

1986: Disappearance of Suzy Lamplugh, a 25-year-old executive for a London estate agent. She left her office in Fulham at 12.40 pm to show a house to a ‘Mr Kipper’. Her car was later found abandoned, but Lamplugh herself remains missing.

1987: 23-year-old British golfer Laura Davis won the US Women’s Open, the first Briton ever to win.

1988: 19-year-old Stuart Lack donated bone marrow to his father Alan to save him from leukaemia. Eight years before, Alan Lack had been the one to donate bone marrow to his son, to save him from the same disease.


The Feast Day of Martha, patron saint of housewives.

1565: Marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots to Lord Darnley, her cousin.

1588: Sir Francis Drake was told that the Spanish Armada had been sighted and that he must take the British Fleet to sea. He finished the game of bowls he was playing before he set out.

1801: Birth of George Bradshaw, English publisher, the first person to produce railway guides.

1805: Birth of Alexis Henri Maurice Charles de Tocqueville, French historian and politician. After a nine-month visit to the United States, he was inspired to write Democracy in America. After the French Revolution, he was one of the writers of the Second Republic’s constitution.

1883: Birth of Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini, Fascist dictator of Italy. He was the founder of the Fascist Party in Italy and went on to govern the country supported by his militia. During the Second World War he allied Italy with Hitler. As a result Italy was defeated, Mussolini was removed from office, and Fascism outlawed in that country.

1900: Death of King Umberto I of Italy, assassinated by Angelo Bresci, an anarchist gunman. His successor was the Prince of Naples, Victor Emmanuel.

1905: Birth of Dag Hjalmar Hammarskjöld, Swedish economist. His efforts as the second Secretary-General of the United Nations raised the Organisation’s profile. In 1961, after his death, he was awarded the Nobel Peace prize.

1907: Baden-Powell officially formed the Boy Scouts. This was the fruition of his earlier success in creating a camp on Brownsea Island, off Poole, Dorset.

1913: Birth in Scotland of Joseph Grimmond, Lord Grimmond, leader of the Liberal Party from 1956-67.

1948: Opening at Wembley Stadium of the first Olympic Games after the war. This marked the end of a 12-year hiatus.

1949: The BBC’s first weather forecasts went on the air.

1966: Bob Dylan suffered serious injuries in a motorcycle crash, keeping him off the stage for a year.

1981: Marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer. 700 million television viewers watched the ceremony at St Paul’s.


1930: The first World Cup final took place. Uruguay beat Argentina 4-2.

1935: The first Penguin paperback, Ariel by André Maurois (a biography of Shelley), was published. Sir Allen Lane introduced the paperback as a way of making books affordable to all, and the results were revolutionary.

1949: HMS Amethyst arrived at Hong Kong. The ship was running out of food and fuel as it fled from advancing Communist troops, and had been shelled from the banks of the Yangtze River.

1963: Kim Philby, the ‘Third Man’, reappeared in Moscow after escaping charges of spying in Britain.

1966: England won 4-2 against West Germany at Wembley, winning the World Cup in extra time. Alf Ramsey’s England team was led by Bobby Moore, with Banks in goal, and the Charlton brothers and Geoff Hurst participating. The German team was led by Beckenbauer. During the match, Hurst scored three goals, the highest total by any player in the World Cup’s history.

1968: Don Jones of Ventura County, the Californian state public defender, was fined for being too fat. He weighed 238 lb, or 17 stone.

1973: Thalidomide victims won compensation of £20 million as the 11-year case, fought by the Sunday Times, ended today.

1984: 11-day-old Holly Roffey was the youngest patient ever to receive a heart transplant, but she died on 17 August.

1990: Death of Ian Gow, MP, a close friend of Margaret Thatcher. An IRA bomb blew up his car in the driveway of his home.


1498: Columbus arrived at the island which he named Trinidad. He had been hoping to discover the Amazon, having three days earlier changed from a parallel course with the mainland. He was on his third voyage of exploration.

1910: Dr Hawley Crippen and Ethel Le Neve were arrested on board the SS Montrose. Le Neve was disguised as a boy for the journey from England to Canada. Captain Henry Kendall became suspicious of their true relationship and contacted London by radio. This was the first time that radio played a part in an arrest. Chief Inspector Walter Drew came aboard disguised as the pilot when the ship entered the St Lawrence River.

1912: Birth of Professor Milton Friedman, US monetarist. He was against the use of income tax or guaranteed income as a way of overcoming the bureaucracy of social welfare services.

1917: Beginning of the third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele).

1919: The Weimar Republic was established in post-war Germany.

1950: Sainsbury’s, the first self-service store in Britain, opened in Croydon.

1964: The first close-up pictures of the moon’s surface were transmitted by the US craft Ranger 7.

1965: Cigarette commercials were banned from British TV.

1971: James Irwin and David Scott rode their Lunar Roving Vehicle (Lunar Buggy) on the moon’s surface, watched on television by millions. They were later reprimanded for smuggling stamps to and from the moon as souvenirs.

1990: Graham Gooch broke records by completing 333 and 123 in the first Test against India at Lords. In that game a total of 1,603 runs were made by both teams in exactly 1,603 minutes.

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