The Feast Day of Agnes of Lisieux, patron saint of florists.

The National Day of China marking the formation in 1949 of the People’s Republic with Mao Tse-tung as chairman.

The National Day of Nigeria which became independent within the Commonwealth in 1960, and became a republic this day in 1963.

1207: Birth of Henry III, King of England, born at Winchester, son of King John. He reigned from 1216 to 1272 and, by all accounts, was totally incompetent.

1792: Money orders were first issued in Britain.

1843: The News of the World, Britain’s biggest circulation Sunday newspaper, began publication.

1868: St Pancras railway station in London was formally opened as a terminus of the Midland Railway.

1880: The Edison Lamp Works began operations in New Jersey to manufacture the first electric light bulbs.

1903: From this day it was possible to take a train from London to Dover, pick up the connection at Ostend and travel via Berlin as far as St Petersburg as European railways linked with Russian.

1906: The first hot-air balloon race was staged at Whitley, Yorkshire and was won by US Army Lieutenant Frank Lahm.

1908: Henry Ford introduced the Model T, the world’s most popular low-priced car until the arrival of the Volkswagen Beetle. It was also the first left-hand drive vehicle.

1918: The Arab forces of Emir Faisal with British officer T E Lawrence captured Damascus from the Turks. An Australian Mounted division followed them in.

1924: Birth of Jimmy (James Earl) Carter, 39th US President (1977-81) and peanut farmer who managed to get Egypt and Israel to sign the Camp David agreement ending hostilities between their countries.

1936: General Franco took over as the head of the Nationalist Government in Spain.

1938: German forces entered Sudetenland, once part of Czechoslovakia which Hitler claimed he had liberated.

1938: The first edition of Picture Post, an 80-page photonews magazine, went on sale for just 3d (less than 2p) and became a legend in British journalism.

1963: The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty signed by Britain, USSR and the US came into force.

1969: Olaf Palme became Prime Minister of Sweden.

1969: Concorde 001 broke the sound barrier for the first time during a test flight in France.

1971: Disney World opened in Florida.

1974: The Watergate Trial began. John Erlichman, H R Haldeman and John Mitchell, charged with obstructing the course of justice, were found guilty the following year.

1974: The first McDonald’s opened in London to speed up the fast food revolution.

1985: Liverpool youths went on the rampage in Toxteth, a decaying inner city area. The riots were some of the most serious experienced in Britain this century.


1187: Saladin, the Muslim sultan, captured Jerusalem this day after an 88-year occupation by the Franks.

1452: Birth of Richard III, King of England from 1483 who proved a skilful ruler despite being suspected of the murder of Edward V and his brother.

1608: Dutch lens maker Hans Lippershey demonstrated the first telescope.

1847: Birth of Paul Ludwig Hans von Benckendorff und Hindenburg, German field marshal and president of the Republic from 1925 who was forced to invite Hitler to accept the Chancellorship in 1933.

1851: Birth of Ferdinand Foch, Marshal of France who was in command of the Allied armies in 1918 when the final advance to end the war was launched.

1869: Birth of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Indian leader who campaigned for Indian independence using the techniques of civil disobedience.

1870: Rome was declared the capital of Italy.

1871: Brigham Young, Mormon leader, was arrested for bigamy.

1871: Birth of Cordell Hull, US statesman and diplomat, Roosevelt’s secretary of state who has been called ‘the father of the United Nations’ and for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1945.

1901: The first Royal Navy submarine was launched at Barrow, built by Vickers. There were five of these experimental six-man crew ‘submarine boats’ on order.

1904: Birth of Shri Lal Banadur Shastri, Indian prime minister who campaigned with Gandhi, with whom he shares a birthday and with whom he was frequently imprisoned. Called the ‘Sparrow’ because he was such a small man, he took charge after Nehru’s death in 1964, but died only two years later.

1907: Hampstead Garden Suburb, London’s first garden suburb, was officially opened by the Lord Mayor symbolically unlocking one of the houses.

1909: The first match was held at the famous Twickenham rugby ground between Harlequins and Richmond.

1921: Birth of Robert (Alexander Kennedy) Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury who was the first to be appointed by the church and not by political consultation.

1925: London’s first distinctive red double-decker buses, almost entirely enclosed, began service. The fully-enclosed vehicles entered service in 1935 by which time authorities were convinced it would not be unsafe.

1935: Italian forces invaded Abyssinia after Mussolini’s bombers pounded border towns.

1940: The Empress of Britain en route to Canada with child evacuees, was sunk by a German submarine, but fortunately British warships rescued most of the 634 crew and passengers.

1942: The British cruiser Curacao sank off the coast of Donegal after colliding with the liner Queen Mary with the loss of 338 lives.

1950: Legal aid started in Britain.

1950: Peanuts, Charles M Schulz’s cartoon strip featuring Charlie Brown, first appeared. It was to have been called Li’l Folks, but the syndication agency United Features insisted it be changed to the name by which it is now known in 67 countries.

1953: The photograph of William Pettit, wanted for murder, was shown on BBC television by request from the police, the first time television was used in Britain to help find a wanted man.


1811: The first women’s county cricket match between Hampshire and Surrey began.

1888: The first performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Yeoman of the Guard took place at the Savoy Theatre, London.

1899: A motor-driven vacuum cleaner was patented by J S Thurman of the US.

1900: At the Birmingham Festival, the first performance of Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, set to a poem by Cardinal Newman, was poorly received.

1906: SOS became the international distress signal replacing the call sign CDQ, sometimes explained as ‘Come Damn Quick!’

1922: Mrs Rebecca L Fulton was elected the first US woman senator. She was sworn in on the 7th.

1922: The first facsimile picture was transmitted over the telephone between buildings in Washington DC by C F Jenkins.

1928: Birth of Shridath Surendranath ‘Sonny’ Ramphal, Guyanese politician who became Secretary-General of the Commonwealth in 1975.

1929: The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was renamed Yugoslavia.

1932: The Times newspaper first used Stanley Morrison’s Times New Roman print.

1941: The aerosol was patented by L D Goodhue and W N Sullivan.

1941: The premiere of The Maltese Falcon, starring Humphrey Bogart and directed by John Huston, took place in New York.

1952: The first British atomic device was detonated at the Monte Bello Islands off the north-west coast of western Australia.

1956: The Bolshoi Ballet appeared at Covent Garden for the first time.

1959: Post-codes were introduced into Britain.

1961: The Queen made Tony Armstrong-Jones, Princess Margaret’s husband, an Earl, Lord Snowdon.


1535: Miles Coverdale’s English translation of the Bible was published on or about this day.

1822: Birth of Rutherford Birchard Hayes, 18th US President from 1822-93, who reformed the US civil service.

1878: The first Chinese Embassy was opened in Washington.

1883: The Boys’ Brigade was founded in Glasgow by Sir William Alexander Smith.

1887: The first European edition of the New York Herald (later retitled the Herald Tribune) was published in Paris.

1892: Birth of Engelbert Dollfuss, Austrian statesman appointed Chancellor in 1932 who was eventually murdered when the Nazis seized the Chancellery.

1895: The first US Open Golf tournament, played at Newport, Rhode Island, was won by Horace Rawlins (US).

1905: Orville Wright became the first to fly an aircraft for over 33 minutes.

1910: Portugal was proclaimed a republic when King Manuel II fled to Britain.

1911: Earls Court Underground station switched Britain’s first escalator on this morning.

1952: The first external pacemaker, developed by Dr Paul Zoll of the Harvard Medical School, was fitted to David Schwartz to control his heartbeats. (The first internal pacemaker was not fitted until 1958.)

1957: The first orbiting satellite, Sputnik I, was launched by the USSR, beating the US into space.

1958: BOAC (now British Airways) began the world’s first jet service operating two Comet IV jets, one departing from London, the other from New York.

1965: Pope Paul VI became the first pope to visit the US where he came to address the UN.

1976: British Rail’s high speed train, the 125, which could reach 125 mph, went into service between London and South Wales.

1988: Bavarian environment minister Alfred Dick asked people not to yodel in the Bavarian Alps as it was harmful to the environment. The noise scared the chamois and was driving off golden eagles and other rare birds.


1728: Birth of Charles Geneviève Timothée d’Eon de Beaumont, known as Chevalier d’Eon, who disguised himself as a woman to conduct spying missions for France. When his gender was questioned while working for the French ambassador in London, he was instructed to ‘henceforth dress as a woman’. A brilliant fencer, he gave exhibitions in London where he was accidentally wounded and died on 21 May 1810. An autopsy pronounced him male.

1830: Birth of Chester (Alan) Arthur, 21st US President (1881-5) who took over after the assassination of President Garfield.

1880: Alonzo T Cross patented his new stylographic pen, the earliest ‘ball pen’ which carried its own ink supply and had a retractable tip.

1908: Bulgaria declared its independence from Turkey.

1917: Sir Arthur Lee donated Chequers to the nation as a country retreat for British prime ministers. The first to use it was Lloyd-George.

1930: The British airship R101 crashed at the edge of a wood near Beauvais, France killing 48 of the 54 passengers and crew including Air Minister Lord Thompson who may well have contributed to the disaster. He brought luggage on board the flight to India equivalent to the weight of about 24 people, and the crash of the 777-foot craft was thought to be a result of overloading.

1936: Birth of Vaclav Havel, Czechoslovak playwright and President of his nation since 29 December 1989. As a spokesman for Charter 77 on human rights, he was jailed four times until just before the collapse of the Communist regime in December 1989. His works include Garden Party (1963), Largo Desolato (1985) and Letters to Olga (1989).

1936: The Jarrow march began in which unemployed shipyard workers delivering a petition with over 11,500 signatures to the Government in London.

1967: The first majority verdict by a British jury was taken in Brighton when ‘The Terrible Turk’ (Saleh Kassem) was found guilty of stealing a handbag.

1968: A civil rights march in Londonderry was broken up by police using water cannon and batons and restarted more than two decades of undeclared civil war.

1969: The first Monty Python’s Flying Circus was screened by the BBC with John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, and Graham Chapman who died from cancer on the eve of the twentieth anniversary celebration.

1970: Anwar Sadat succeeded Nasser as the Egyptian Premier.

1982: Sony began marketing two-inch flat television screen pocket sets.

1989: The Moulin Rouge celebrated its centenary.


1552: Birth of Matteo Ricci, Italian Jesuit missionary who travelled out to China to establish a mission.

1773: Birth of Louis Philippe, the ‘Citizen King’ of France from 1830-48. He had spent much time abroad in the US and in England before his opportunity for the crown came with the abdication of Charles X.

1829: Locomotive trials began at Rainhill near Liverpool to find an engine for use on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. On trial were Cycloped, Perseverance, Sans Pareil, Novelty and the winner, Stephenson’s Rocket.

1890: The Mormons in Utah renounced bigamy.

1895: Sir Henry Wood’s Promenade Concerts began at Queen’s Hall, London.

1902: The 2,000-mile railway line from Cape Town to Beira, Mozambique was completed.

1910: Birth of Barbara (Anne) Castle, English member of the European Parliament; formerly Chairman of the Labour Party, then Minister of Overseas Development in the Wilson government followed by other cabinet posts. She was once tipped as the first woman prime minister of Britain.

1921: ‘April Showers’ was sung by Al Jolson during the first performance of Bombo on Broadway. The song drew 36 curtain calls.

1927: Al Jolson starred in the first talkie, The Jazz Singer, premiered in New York. Not a true full-length talkie, as sound was only used for Jolson’s songs and some dialogue, the rest was standard silent movie, and not until 6 July 1928 did a film have sound throughout.

1928: Chiang Kai-shek became President of China.

1941: Two men went to the electric chair in Florida. Their names were Willburn and Frizzel.

1968: British drivers took the first three places in the US Grand Prix; Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill and John Surtees.

1981: One day after the 11th anniversary of his election to office, Anwar Sadat was assassinated by Muslim extremists while watching a military parade.

1987: Fiji cut its ties with the UK when the island was proclaimed a republic by Colonel Sitveni Rabuka.


1571: The Battle of Lepanto between Christian allied naval forces and the Ottoman Turks attempting to capture Cyprus from Venetian rule, ended with the Turks losing 117 galleys and thousands of men in the four-hour battle.

1799: The bell was salvaged from the Lutine which sank off the coast of Holland. It was presented to Lloyds of London. Known as the Lutine bell, it has been rung ever since to mark a marine disaster.

1806: Carbon paper was patented by Ralph Wedgewood of London.

1900: Birth of Heinrich Himmler, head of the Nazi SS from 1929 who was also in charge of the Gestapo, and became Hitler’s second-in-command replacing Goering.

1908: Crete revolted against Turkish domination and united with Greece.

1913: Henry Ford unveiled his new ‘moving assembly line’ to speed up mass production of his cars at the Michigan plant.

1919: The oldest airline, KLM (Koninkklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij) of Holland was established; however, the first scheduled flight was made only on 17 May the following year.

1922: The first royal broadcast was made by the Prince of Wales on 2LO eleven days before it changed its name to the British Broadcasting Company.

1931: Birth of The Most Reverend Desmond (Mpilio) Tutu, Archbishop of Cape Town, who is also the general secretary of the South African Council of Churches. In 1984 he was awarded the Nobel Peace prize.

1959: The far side of the moon was photographed for the first time and pictures relayed back to earth by Russia’s Lunik III.

1985: The Achille Lauro, an Italian cruise liner with over 400 passengers on board, was seized by Palestinian terrorists. They surrendered two days later, but not before killing an elderly physically handicapped US passenger (on 11 October). Intercepted by military aircraft, the ship was diverted to Italy who, despite protests, allowed the terrorists to fly to Yugoslavia and to eventual freedom in the Middle East.

1986: The Independent was first published in Britain.

1988: An Alaskan hunter spotted trapped grey whales beating themselves against the ice trying to break it. They became the focus of an international rescue to save them from certain death. Ironically, many of those who helped in the rescue were normally their killers.


1085: St Mark’s Cathedral was consecrated in Venice.

1806: The British used a form of rocket-propelled missiles for the first time in an attack on Boulogne.

1838: Birth of Montagu Lowry-Corry, first Baron Rowton, English politician and philanthropist who founded the Rowton houses for working men, offering comfortable, low cost accommodation.

1871: The Great Fire of Chicago started, according to popular belief, in Mrs O’Leary’s barn in DeKoven Street when a cow upset a lantern. The fire burned until the 11th, killing over 250 people and making 95,000 homeless.

1891: Britain’s first street collection was held in Manchester and Salford for Lifeboat Day.

1895: Birth of Juan (Domingo) Perón, Argentinean general and president from 1946. Deposed in 1955, he was returned to power in 1973, and died in office in 1974.

1938: The British comic-book hero, Rockfist Rogan of the RAF, appeared in the Champion, created by Frank S Pepper who was also responsible for Colwyn Dane, the detective, and the sci-fi Captain Condor as well as his other famous character, Roy of the Rovers. Pepper used to write 5,000 words a day and used ten different pen names.

1941: Birth of Reverend Jesse Jackson, US senator and black civil rights campaigner.

1952: The second worst rail crash in Britain took place in Harrow, involving three trains, killing 112 and injuring over 200 people.

1965: Britain’s tallest building, the Post Office Tower in London, was opened, with a revolving restaurant and viewing galleries which had to be closed to the public after IRA bomb threats.

1967: A motorist in Somerset became the first person to be breathalysed in Britain.

1973: The first commercial radio station in Britain opened when LBC (London Broadcasting) went on the air.

1980: British Leyland launched the Mini Metro.


National Day of Uganda celebrating its independence in 1962 after 70 years of British rule. Milton Obote became first prime minister.

28 BC: The Temple of Apollo on the Palantine Hill, Rome, was dedicated.

1470: Henry VI was restored to the English throne after being deposed in 1461.

1701: Yale College received its charter.

1890: Birth of Aimee Semple McPherson, US evangelist who was one of the first to use radio to reach a large audience. She built up a huge following and her theatrical style helped her amass a fortune. She married three times. On 27 September 1944, she died from an overdose of barbiturates, but by then her Temple had become a tourist attraction.

1897: Henry Sturmey set off in his 4.5-hp Daimler from Land’s End, Cornwall to be the first to drive to John O’Groats, Scotland, a journey of 929 miles which he completed on the 19th.

1907: Birth of Lord Hailsham (Quintin McGarel Hogg), British politician, later Lord Chancellor.

1947: The first call between a car telephone and one in a plane was made above Wilmington, Delaware, in the US.

1967: The legendary fighter who had supported Castro’s struggle in Cuba, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, Marxist revolutionary and guerrilla leader, was captured and shot in the village of La Higuera, near Vallegrande, Bolivia.

1973: Elvis Presley divorced Priscilla who received $1.5 million and $4,200 a month as settlement, as well as half the sale of the house ($750,000) plus 5% interest in two of Elvis’ publishing companies.


1825: Birth of Paul Kruger (Stephanus Johannes Paulus Kruger), South African statesman and Boer leader who was born in the Cape Colony. He became President of the Transvaal, the gold-rich area of South Africa, and his treatment of the Uitlanders, the British and non-Boer white residents, gave Britain the excuse to invade and so start the Boer War.

1877: Birth of William Richard Morris, first Viscount Nuffield, English car manufacturer and philanthropist who started the Morris Motor Company at Cowley, Oxfordshire in 1910 to build cars for those with modest incomes. He endowed Nuffield College, Oxford in 1937 and the Nuffield Foundation in 1943.

1903: Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst formed the Women’s Social and Political Union to fight for female emancipation in Britain.

1913: US President Wilson detonated 40 tons of explosives by remote control from the White House to clear the last obstacles and open the Panama Canal.

1930: Three US airlines merged to form TWA (Transcontinental and Western Airlines).

1935: The first performance of Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin took place in New York. The ‘first American opera’ with the songs ‘Summertime’ and ‘I’ve Got Plenty of Nothin’’, was a financial failure though an artistic triumph.

1940: A German bomb destroyed the high altar of St Paul’s, London.

1957: The Windscale nuclear accident which began on 7 October when an atomic pile was shut down for what should have been a routine operation at the Cumberland power station, ended up being a major radiation leak this day. The emergency was under control by the 12th, making it the worst nuclear accident prior to Chernobyl.

1958: Any Questions? was broadcast in the south-west region by the BBC before going national, with Freddy Grisewood as chairman.

1972: John Betjeman was appointed Poet Laureate.

1973: US Vice-President Spiro Agnew resigned because of charges of tax evasion.

1975: After a divorce in the early 70s followed by several reconciliations and separations, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor re-married in a remote village in Botswana. They would divorce the following year.

1988: A 25-year-old haemophiliac became the first in Britain to be treated with a new genetically-engineered blood-clotting agent Synthetic Factor viii, at London’s Royal Free Hospital.

1988: Igor Judge, a British QC, was sworn in as a High Court judge where he would be known as Mr Justice Judge.


1521: Pope Leo X conferred the title of ‘Defender of the Faith’ on Henry VIII for his book supporting Catholic principles. Twelve years later Henry broke with Rome to marry Anne Boleyn.

1689: Peter the Great became Tsar of Russia.

1727: The coronation of George II took place in London.

1738: Birth of Arthur Phillip, English admiral and first governor of New South Wales, who founded the first penal colony at Sydney.

1821: Birth of Sir George Williams, English social reformer and founder of the YMCA in 1844.

1844: Birth of Henry John Heinz, US food manufacturer who in 1905 formed H J Heinz Company Inc, and who adopted the slogan ‘57 Varieties’ in 1896.

1871: The Great Fire of Chicago was finally extinguished.

1884: Birth of (Anna) Eleanor Roosevelt, wife and cousin of the 32nd US President, Franklin D Roosevelt. She was also a writer and civil rights campaigner.

1899: The first airline meals were served on a Handley-Page flight from London to Paris. They were pre-packed lunch boxes at 3s each (15p).

1951: Gordon Richards, champion British jockey, rode his 200th winner for the sixth successive season.

1957: The Jodrell Bank radio telescope designed by Sir Bernard Lovell began operating.

1968: Apollo 7 was launched with US astronauts Walter Schirra, Don Eiselle and Walter Cunningham.

1976: Chiang Ch’ing, Mao Tse-tung’s widow, and the ‘Gang of Four’ were arrested in Beijing.

1980: Soviet cosmonauts in Salyut 6 returned to earth after a record 185 days in space.

1982: The Mary Rose, once the pride of Henry’s fleet before it capsized and sank in 1545 in the Solent, was finally raised.


Columbus Day in Spain, commemorating this day in 1492 when Columbus sighted the New World.

1537: Birth of Edward VI, King of England, who was the son of Henry VIII and his third wife, Jane Seymour.

1609: Three Blind Mice was published in London, believed to be the earliest printed secular song.

1822: Pedro the Great was proclaimed Emperor of Brazil.

1849: British inventor Charles Rowley patented the safety pin, unaware of an earlier US patent this same year.

1860: Birth of Elmer Ambrose Sperry, US inventor of the gyroscopic compass and other gyroscopic devices as well as marine autopilots.

1866: Birth of (James) Ramsay MacDonald, Scottish statesman who was the first Labour British Prime Minister in 1924 with the support of the Liberals. He led a minority government again in 1929 which collapsed in 1931. He left the Labour Party to form a national government with backing from both Conservatives and Liberals.

1901: President Theodore Roosevelt renamed the Executive Mansion ‘The White House’.

1923: The BBC appointed its first full time announcer, J S Dodson.

1924: The Z3 Zeppelin flew from Friedrichschafen to Lakenhurst, New Jersey.

1928: The first ‘iron lung’ was used at the Boston Children’s Hospital, Massachusetts.

1948: The first Morris Minor, designed by Sir Alec Issigonis, came off the assembly line at Cowley, Oxfordshire.

1951: Florence Chadwick broke the English Channel swimming record. The US swimmer took just 13 hours 33 minutes.

1961: New Zealand voted to abolish the death penalty.

1971: Jesus Christ Superstar by Lloyd-Webber and Rice opened on Broadway, prior to its London production.

1984: During the Conservative Party Conference at the Brighton Grand Hotel, an IRA bomb badly damaged the hotel killing four and injuring 30 people including Norman Tebbitt, the Employment Secretary, and his wife. The Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher escaped unharmed on the eve of her 58th birthday.


1399: The first King of the House of Lancaster, Henry IV, was crowned.

1792: The foundation stone of the White House was laid by President George Washington. The building was designed by James Hoban.

1857: ‘Prioress’ became the first US horse to win a major British race when it ran at Newmarket.

1884: Greenwich was adopted as the universal meridian (Greenwich Mean Time).

1894: Liverpool and Everton football clubs met in the first Merseyside ‘derby’ at Goodison Park with Everton winning 3-0.

1904: Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams was published.

1924: Ramsay MacDonald made the first election broadcast on the BBC on behalf of the Labour Party.

1925: Birth of Margaret Hilda Thatcher (née Roberts), British Prime Minister from 1979, daughter of a Grantham grocer. She entered parliament in 1959, became Minister of Education 1970-74, and defeated Edward Heath for leadership of the Conservative Party in 1975.

1946: Birth of Edwina Currie, British politician whose flair for self-publicity was her undoing when her remarks to the press on the amount of salmonella in British eggs set her against the powerful egg lobby. She was forced to resign her post as junior Minister of Health.

1954: Chris Chataway broke the world 5,000 metres by a full 5 seconds beating the great Vladimir Kuts in 13 minutes 15.6 seconds in the London v Moscow championship at London’s White City.

1988: The British Government’s 2_-year, £3 million battle to suppress Peter Wright’s book Spycatcher was given a further setback when the Law Lords lifted an injunction and allowed British newspapers to print extracts.

1988: In Italy, the Cardinal of Turin confirmed leaked press reports that scientific tests had proved the Shroud of Turin, believed to carry the imprint of the face of Christ, to be of medieval origin, around AD 1260 to 1390.


1066: The Battle of Hastings was fought on Senlac Hill, seven miles from Hastings, where King Harold was slain as William the Conqueror’s troops routed the English army.

1633: Birth of James II, King of Great Britain and Ireland, second son of Charles I. His pro-Catholic stand led to his overthrow by William of Orange.

1644: Birth of William Penn, English Quaker leader who was the founder of a Quaker colony in the US named Pennsylvania in his honour.

1830: Belgium was proclaimed an independent kingdom.

1878: The first football match played under floodlights (four Siemens’ arc lamps), took place at Bramhall Lane, Sheffield.

1882: Birth of Eamon de Valera, Irish Prime Minister and President, who was born in New York City. He was sent to Ireland for his schooling and later became a teacher. In 1917 he became president of Sinn Fein. In 1920 he was elected president but, wanted by the British, he went into hiding. When Ireland was divided, he refused to accept the treaty. He was elected again in 1932 and renegotiated with Britain, defeated in 1948, but back again in 1951-4 and 1957-9, and President 1959-73.

1884: George Eastman patented photographic film.

1890: Birth of Dwight David Eisenhower, US military commander in charge of the Allied invasion of Europe in the Second World War, and 34th US President from 1952-6 and again 1956-60 with Nixon as his Vice-President.

1893: The first performance of The Gaiety Girl, considered the first musical comedy, was presented in London by George Edwardes on his 38th birthday.

1912: President Theodore Roosevelt was shot at by a mentally unstable man named Schranke in an assassination attempt. He was saved by his thick coat and a bundle of manuscript paper in his breast pocket.

1913: Britain’s worst mining disaster occurred as the result of an explosion at Universal Colliery in South Wales killing 439 miners.

1930: Ethel Merman made her Broadway debut in Gershwin’s Girl Crazy. The cast included Ginger Rogers in only her second show and the orchestra featured Glenn Miller, Jimmy Dorsey, Gene Krupa and Jack Teagarden who all went on to become major jazz musicians. The music included ‘I’ve Got Rhythm’ and ‘Embraceable You’.

1939: The Royal Navy battleship Royal Oak was torpedoed and sunk in Scapa Flow with the loss of 810 lives.

1947: Chuck Yeagar in his Bell XI rocket plane became the first man to break the sound barrier.

1964: Martin Luther King was awarded the Nobel Peace prize.

1968: The new Euston station was opened in London.

1969: The British ten shilling note was replaced with the seven-sided 50p coin.

1973: Egyptian and Syrian forces invaded Israel as the nation marked the holiest of holy days, Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). Despite an unprepared Israel, by 26 October the Yom Kippur War was over when Israeli forces trapped the Egyptians in the Sinai and other Israeli troops were only 20 miles from Damascus. A cease fire was called.

1987: A man flushed 52 gold bars down an airliner toilet after failing to make contact with a fellow smuggler at Kathmandu Airport, giving the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal a windfall worth £100,000 when the bars were found by the cleaning crew at Hong Kong airport. The gold had to be legally returned to its place of origin, Nepal.


1581: The first major ballet was staged at the request of Catherine de’Medici in the palace at Paris. Le Ballet comique de la reine entertained an audience of 10,000 and was five hours of spectacle choreographed by Balthazar de Beaujoyeulx.

1666: The first waistcoat was worn by King Charles II, according to Pepys.

1815: Napoleon arrived in St Helena with a party of followers who were joining him in exile where he spent most of his time writing, and reading English newspapers.

1851: The Great Exhibition closed at Hyde Park, but its unique Crystal Palace was re-erected in south London.

1864: The Church Times published ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’, music by Arthur Sullivan, words by the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould, written for a children’s festival.

1887: Preston North End beat Hyde 26-0 in an FA Cup tie, the highest goal score ever by an English club in a major competition, with James Ross, the first player to score seven goals in a Division 1 match.

1928: The ‘Graf Zeppelin’ made its first transatlantic crossing from Friedrichshafen to Lakenhurst, New Jersey.

1951: The first British party political broadcast was televised by the BBC. Lord Samuel spoke on behalf of the Liberals.

1954: William Golding’s Lord of the Flies was published in Britain.

1959: Birth of the Duchess of York, wife of Prince Andrew, formerly Sarah Ferguson.

1962: Amnesty International was formed in London.

1964: Nikita Khrushchev was deposed while holidaying at the Black Sea and replaced by Leonid Brezhnev.

1964: Craig Breedlove of the US set a new landspeed record in his rocket propelled car reaching 526.28 mph.

1978: Irene Miller and Vera Komakova became the first women to reach the summit of Annapurna One in the Himalayas.

1987: The worst hurricane to hit Britain since records began struck in the early hours of the morning, devastating southern England and causing at least 17 deaths.


1758: Birth of Noah Webster, US lexicographer who originated the first US dictionary.

1822: The new Drury Lane Theatre was opened.

1834: Fire caused extensive damage to the Palace of Westminster, but firemen managed to save both Westminster Hall and St Stephen’s Chapel.

1846: An anaesthetic was successfully used for the first time at the Massachusetts General Hospital where dentist William T G Morton used diethyl ether prior to removing a tumour from a young man’s jaw. Soon after, John Snow, a physician in Britain, enthusiastically adopted the use of this anaesthetic.

1847: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë was published under the pseudonym, Currer Bell.

1863: Birth of Sir (Joseph) Austen Chamberlain, British statesman who won the Nobel Peace prize in 1925 for his work as Foreign Secretary, negotiating and signing the Locarno Pact.

1886: Birth of David Ben-Gurion, first Prime Minister of Israel in 1948 who was born in Poland as David Green; a visionary who was the leading force in the creation of the state.

1902: The first Borstal Institution to house young offenders was opened at the village of Borstal, Kent.

1906: British New Guinea became part of Australia.

1908: US aviator Samuel Cody demonstrated his aircraft at Farnborough and became the first man to fly in Britain.

1922: The longest railway tunnel in the world, the Simplon II under the Alps, was completed.

1923: John Harwood patented the self-winding watch in Switzerland.

1928: Marin Pipkin of the US patented the frosted lamp bulb.

1946: Nazi war criminals were hanged at Nuremberg. They included von Ribbentrop, Rosenberg and Streicher.

1964: China exploded a nuclear device.

1964: Harold Wilson became Prime Minister of a Labour Government which won a General Election with a majority of four.

1978: Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Poland became the first non-Italian pope since 1542 and also the youngest this century.


1651: Charles II, defeated by Cromwell at Worcester, fled to France, destitute and friendless.

1727: Birth of John Wilkes, English political agitator and advocate of press freedom who, despite being elected to Parliament four times, was not allowed to take his seat. Growing working- and middle-class support eventually secured him his rightful entry to Parliament where he fought for reforms and religious tolerance.

1777: British commander General Burgoyne surrendered to General Horatio Gates at Saratoga, a victory for the American colonists.

1855: A steel-making process was patented by Sir Harry Bessemer.

1860: The first professional golf championship was held at Prestwick, Scotland, won by Willie Park.

1902: The first Cadillac was made in Detroit.

1945: Juan Perón was asked to take over the government of Argentina eight days after being ousted by the army.

1956: The Queen opened Calder Hall, Britain’s first nuclear power station.

1988: Beethoven’s lost Tenth Symphony was performed for the first time in London as a result of researcher Barry Cooper piecing together fragments of Beethoven’s manuscript and sketches discovered in Berlin. Critics said it should have been called ‘Excerpts and Snippets’.


The Feast Day of Luke, patron saint of doctors.

1674: Birth of Richard ‘Beau’ Nash, English gambler who made Bath a city of fashion, improving its streets and buildings.

1873: The rules of American football were formulated at a meeting in New York by delegates from Columbia, Princeton, Rutgers and Yale Universities.

1887: Russia transferred Alaska to the USA for $7,200,000. Negotiated by US Secretary of State William H Seward, critics called the treaty, ‘Seward’s Folly’ and claimed he was ‘wasting money on a lot of ice’.

1898: The US took possession of Puerto Rico from Spain.

1919: Birth of Pierre (Elliot) Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada from 1968-79, then again in 1980 until his resignation in 1984.

1922: The BBC (British Broadcasting Company) was officially formed.

1939: Birth of Lee Harvey Oswald, presumed US assassin of President John F Kennedy in Dallas, Texas.

1957: The Queen and Prince Philip visited the US and the White House to mark the 350th anniversary of the British settling in Virginia.

1963: Harold Macmillan resigned as Prime Minister and was succeeded by Lord Home.

1966: The Queen granted a royal pardon to Timothy Evans, convicted of the murder of his wife and child at 10 Rillington Place, west London. The real murderer was John Reginald Christie who had been hanged for mass murder in 1953. Unfortunately, Evans was hanged in 1950.

1970: The body of Pierre Laporte, Quebec’s Minister of Labour, kidnapped by the separatist FLQ (Quebec Liberation Front), was found this day.

1977: Hilary Bradshaw became the first woman to referee a rugby match when Bracknell played High Wycombe.

1977: Germany’s anti-terrorist squad stormed a hijacked Lufthansa aircraft at Mogadishu Airport, Somalia, killing three of the four Palestinian hijackers and freeing all the hostages.

1987: A small US company announced it was shipping 12 million pairs of chopsticks to Japan because of a shortage of timber there.

1988: British Home Secretary, Douglas Hurd, banned all broadcasts involving terrorist spokesmen. IRA spokesmen could be seen, but not heard, but their statements could be reported by the media.

1989: Erich Honecker, the East German leader, was replaced by Egon Krenz in response to the failing economy and mass flight of young East Germans to the West.

1989: San Francisco was hit by an earthquake which measured 6.9 on the Richter scale killing at least 273 people and injuring 650.


1741: David Garrick made his debut at Goodman’s Fields Theatre in London’s East End playing Richard III to tumultuous acclaim.

1781: The American War of Independence came to an end when Lord Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington at Yorktown, Virginia.

1859: Birth of Alfred Dreyfus, French army officer at the centre of the Dreyfus Affair, who was falsely accused of treason and sent to Devil’s Island.

1860: The first company to manufacture internal combustion engines was formed in Florence. The engines were designed by Eugenio Barsanti and Felice Matteucci.

1864: During the American Civil War, the Battle of Cedar Creek ended with a victory to General Sheridan over the Confederates.

1901: An airship flew around the Eiffel Tower in an attempt to win the Deutsch Prize valued at around £1,000. Albert de Santos, a young Brazilian, made the round trip from a field near St Cloud in the permitted 30 minutes, but took 30 seconds too long to climb out of the gondola and was penalized; public consternation persuaded the judges to award him the prize.

1934: Birth of General Yakubu Gowon, Nigerian head of state who was educated at Sandhurst. He took control after a military coup in 1966 and tried to unite the country after the civil war (1967-70), but was himself overthrown by a military coup in 1975.

1958: Driving for Ferrari, Mike Hawthorn became world motor racing champion despite coming second in the Moroccan Grand Prix to compatriot Stirling Moss, the winner.

1970: BP announced the first oil find in the North Sea.

1972: The first performance of Crown Matrimonial at the Haymarket Theatre, London, with Amanda Reiss portraying the Queen Mother in a drama about the abdication crisis of 1936. This was the first portrayal of a living member of the Royal family on the British stage.

1987: ‘Black Monday’ on Wall Street wiped out millions on the stock markets around the world. Wall Street ended the day down 22%, lower than the 1929 crash.

1989: The ‘Guildford Four’ had their convictions quashed after serving 15 years for the IRA Guildford and Woolwich bombings.


1714: George I was crowned.

1784: Birth of Lord Palmerston (Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount), English statesman, twice Prime Minister, in 1855-8 and 1859-65. Popular with the people, his imperious attitude did not amuse Queen Victoria.

1792: Birth of Colin Campbell, Baron Clyde, British commander-in-chief during the Indian Mutiny of 1857 who was nicknamed ‘Old Careful’ because of his sense of economy: this included winning battles by losing as few of his men as possible.

1818: The 49th Parallel was established by the US and Britain as a boundary between Canada and the US.

1822: The first edition of the Sunday Times was published in Britain.

1827: The Battle of Navarino, off the coast of Greece, ended with the combined British, French and Russian fleets completely destroying the Turkish and Egyptian fleets.

1926: Birth of Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, whose home houses the famous National Motor Museum with one of the world’s finest collections of vintage cars.

1935: One day short of a year, Mao Tse-tung’s ‘Long March’ ended in Yenan, North China. He had led his threatened Communist army in a 6,000 mile semicircle to safety.

1944: General MacArthur returned to the Philippines, now the liberator, fulfilling a promise he made when his forces retreated from the Japanese; while on the same day the Allies captured Aachen, the first German city in their drive to Berlin.

1968: Jackie Kennedy, President Kennedy’s widow, married Aristotle Onassis.


Trafalgar Day, commemorating Nelson’s victory and his death.

1805: At the Battle of Trafalgar, Nelson gave his famous signal, ‘England expects...’ which flew from the HMS Victory shortly after 1100 hrs. The British won this important battle against Napoleon’s combined French and Spanish fleets off Cape Trafalgar, south-west of Spain, but Nelson was one of the day’s casualties. His body was sent home in a barrel of rum. One of the guards reported hearing gurgling coming from the barrel en route to Deptford where it was unloaded. After Nelson’s corpse was removed, sailors found half a barrel of rum abandoned in the dockyard and apparently got ‘pickled’. Neat rum is still known in the Royal Navy as ‘Nelson’s Blood’.

1824: Portland Cement was patented by Joseph Aspdin of Wakefield, Yorkshire.

1833: Birth of Alfred (Bernhard) Nobel, Swedish industrialist, chemist and inventor of dynamite. His factory once made nitro-glycerine until it blew up in 1864 killing his younger brother. Three years later he found a safer explosive and patented dynamite in 1867. With the vast fortune he made from this and his oil field holdings, he founded the Nobel prize to honour the world’s leading scientists, artists and peacemakers from 1901.

1858: The first performance of Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld took place in Paris.

1868: Birth of Sir Ernest Dunlop Swinton, English tank inventor and the originator of the word ‘tank’ to describe the armoured vehicle.

1923: The first planetarium opened in Munich.

1934: Mao Tse-tung’s Long March with his 100,000-strong Communist army began after fighting their way out of the siege mounted by Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist armies in Funkien.

1940: Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls was published in New York.

1958: The first life peer and peeress, Lord Parker of Wassington and Baroness Swanborough, took their seats in the House of Lords.

1960: Dreadnought, the first British nuclear submarine, was launched.

1966: A coal slag slid and engulfed the Welsh village of Aberfan killing 116 children and 28 adults. Locals had warned coal board officials and others that the coal slag was unsafe and that there had been signs of a slide before, but these complaints and warnings had been ignored.

1967: Egyptian missiles sank the Israeli destroyer Eilat off the coast of Sinai with the loss of over 40 lives.

1969: Willy Brandt was elected Chancellor of West Germany.

1979: Grete Waitz of Norway became the first woman to break the 2 hrs 30 min marathon in 2 hours 27.6 minutes.

1984: Niki Lauda became world motor racing champion for the third time.


1797: The first parachute jump was made by André-Jacques Garnerin from a balloon 6,000 feet above the Parc Monceau, Paris.

1878: The first floodlit rugby match took place at Broughton, Lancashire.

1881: The first edition of the British magazine Titbits was published.

1883: The Metropolitan Opera House, New York opened.

1909: Elise Deroche, who used the self-created title Baronne de la Roche, became the first woman to fly solo. She was the world’s first qualified woman pilot.

1917: The Trans-Australian Railway was opened, running from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta.

1930: The BBC Symphony Orchestra played their first concert, conducted by Sir Adrian Boult at the Queen’s Hall, London.

1936: Birth of Colonel John Blashford-Snell, English adventurer and director of ‘Operation Raleigh’.

1962: The Cuban Missile Crisis began when President Kennedy announced a naval blockade against Cuba in protest over the installation of Soviet missile bases on the island.

1962: Nelson Mandela’s treason trial began in South Africa. He pleaded not guilty.

1966: A leading Russian spy, George Blake, escaped from Wormwood Scrubs in west London, where he was serving a 40-year sentence.

1966: Britain’s David Bryant won the first world bowls championship singles title in Sydney.

1972: Gordon Banks, England’s star goalkeeper, damaged his eyes in a car crash.

1986: The world’s youngest heart transplant patient, a two-and-a-half-month-old baby from northwest London, was given the heart of a five-day-old Belgian boy by Professor Magdi Yacoub at Harefield Hospital, Middlesex.

1987: The first volume of the Gutenberg Bible (from Genesis to Psalms), was sold in New York for £3.26 million ($5.39 million) and became the most expensive printed book ever sold at auction.

1987: An aeroplane was found by a deer hunter in the branches of a tree in Star Lake, New York. It had taken off 65 miles away without its pilot who had cranked its propeller to start it. It fell tail first after it ran out of fuel.


1642: The Cavaliers of Charles I clashed with Cromwell’s Parliamentary Roundheads at the Battle of Edgehill in the Cotswolds, the first major but inconclusive encounter between these opposing forces. Sir Robert Welch and Captain John Smith won the first medals for gallantry (presented 1 June 1643).

1812: A rumour that Napoleon had died in Russia encouraged an anti-Napoleonic faction in Paris to try and mount a coup d’état. When news reached Napoleon, he hurried back from Moscow ahead of his retreating Grande Armée.

1844: Birth of Louis Riel, rebel leader of the Métis (people of mixed Aboriginal-white descent) in Canada. He and his followers captured Fort Garry (now Winnipeg) and established a provisional government (1869-70). The fort was soon recaptured, and Riel was outlawed. He led another rebellion in 1884 which ended in his execution.

1922: The shortest term of office this century for a British Prime Minister began this day when Andrew Bonar Law took office. Due to ill health, he was replaced six months later by Stanley Baldwin.

1947: Twelve-year-old Julie Andrews made her debut in Starlight Roof.

1954: Britain, US, France and USSR agreed to end the occupation of Germany. On the same day, the Western nations agreed to allow West Germany to enter NATO.

1956: The Hungarian revolt against Soviet leadership began. Thousands of demonstrators called for the withdrawal of Russian forces in Hungary.

1970: The world land speed record of 631.367 mph was achieved by Gary Gavelich of the US in Blue Flame, a rocket-propelled car on Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah.

1972: Access credit cards were introduced to Britain.

1987: Lester Piggott, former British champion jockey, now a top trainer, was jailed for three years for tax evasion.

1987: In San Antonio, Texas, a burglar sentenced to seven years complained that seven was his unlucky number. The judge raised it to eight years.

1987: Dolphins were first used by the US Navy in the Gulf War to help detect mines.

1988: A dog fell from the 13th floor of a Buenos Aires building and landed on a 75-year-old woman, killing her instantly. As a crowd gathered, a bus knocked down a woman, and a man who saw both incidents dropped dead from a heart attack.


United Nations Day commemorating this day in 1945 when the UN Charter came into force.

The National day of Zambia. In 1964, Northern Rhodesia became independent and was renamed Zambia.

1769: Birth of Jacques Laffitte, French banker who made a vast fortune and became Governor of the Bank of France. During the Revolution, his house was its headquarters. In 1843 he was elected President of the Chamber of Deputies.

1857: The first football club was formed by a group of Cambridge University Old Boys meeting in Sheffield.

1861: The US transcontinental telegraph line was completed, and the Pony Express Mail Service which ran from St Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California, stopped running after just 18 months.

1901: To help pay the mortgage, Mrs Ann Edson Taylor of the US went over the Niagara Falls in a padded barrel.

1908: Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter Christabel were sent to prison for ‘inciting the public to rush the House of Commons’. Two Cabinet ministers were witnesses for the defence including Lloyd-George, then Chancellor of the Exchequer.

1924: A letter purporting to be from Grigori Zinoviev of the USSR calling for socialists in all countries to start a revolution was deliberately leaked to the British press on the eve of an election to help give the Tories a huge victory over Labour. The letter was later denounced as a forgery.

1931: Chicago gangster boss, Al Capone, was given an 11-year jail sentence and fined $80,000 for tax evasion. He served eight years.

1937: New Zealand aviator Jean Batten landed in England after a record-breaking 5-day, 18-hour and 18-minute flight from Australia.

1987: The most hyped boxing match in Britain took place at White Hart Lane helped along by Joe Bugner’s second wife, Marlene, a fast-talking Australian. Frank Bruno, 25, knocked down Joe, 37, in the 8th putting an end to the heavyweight ballyhoo. Bruno took home £750,000, Bugner got £250,000.

1989: US television preacher Jim Bakker was given a 45-year jail sentence and fined $500,000 for swindling his followers of millions of dollars.


The Feast Day of Crispin and his brother, Crispinian, patron saints of shoemakers, a craft they practised in Soissons, France, after fleeing persecution in Rome. In 287, they were martyred when, according to one version, they were both thrown into molten lead, but more probably were beheaded. A Kentish claim was that their bodies were cast into the sea and floated ashore at Romney Marsh.

1415: Just south of Calais in northern France, the Battle of Agincourt took place. One of the many battles of the Hundred Years War, Henry V’s longbowmen routed the superior French knights on St Crispin’s Day.

1800: Birth of Lord Macaulay (Thomas Babington, Baron Macaulay), historian, essayist, poet and politician who advocated parliamentary reform and the abolition of slavery. He wrote the popular volume of verse, Lays of Ancient Rome (1842) and his four-volume masterpiece, History of England (1848-61).

1839: Bradshaw’s Railway Guide, the world’s first railway timetable, was published in Manchester.

1854: Lord Cardigan led the Charge of the Light Brigade during the Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War. An ambiguous order from the commander, Lord Raglan, led Cardigan’s brave cavalry to charge the Russians while fire came from three different sides. As one of the generals was heard to remark as the outrageous soldiers suffered heavy casualties, ‘C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre’.

1881: The airbrush was patented by L L Curtis in the US.

1888: Birth of Richard Evelyn Byrd, US naval officer, pioneer aviator and polar explorer who claimed to have flown over the North Pole on 9 May 1926. He made several visits to the Antarctic to explore the area from the air.

1900: The British annexed the Transvaal, rich in minerals, especially gold.

1906: Professor Lee de Forest of the US patented the three-diode amplification valve, the Audion, which made broadcasting possible.

1927: Bix Beiderbecke and his Gang recorded ‘Goose Pimples’ and ‘Sorry’. They are still available today... on CD.

1936: Birth of Martin Gilbert, English historian and official biographer of Sir Winston Churchill.

1936: The first radio request programme was broadcast. The station in Berlin introduced You Ask - We Play. The first British request programme was From My Post Bag on 19 May 1939.

1951: Margaret Roberts (Thatcher), at 26, was the youngest candidate to stand at a General Election. The Tories won by a narrow margin. She failed to win the seat.

1961: The first edition of Private Eye, the British satirical magazine was published.

1971: Taiwan was expelled from the UN to make way for the admission of the People’s Republic of China.

1976: The National Theatre complex on the South Bank, designed by Denys Lasdun, was officially opened by the Queen. The first production had been staged in March, but not all three of the auditoriums had been completed.


National Day of Australia.

1759: Birth of Georges Jacques Danton, French Revolutionary leader who exhorted the nation when the Revolution was threatened by invading allied armies, ‘To conquer the enemies of the fatherland, we need daring, more daring, daring now and always, and France is saved!’ While he tried to stabilize the Revolution and disapproved of the Reign of Terror, opposition grew and eventually he and his supporters were arrested and he was put on trial on 5 April 1794.

1803: Birth of Joseph Aloysius Hansom, English designer of the Hansom cab (the Patent Safety Hansom Cab) in 1834, with a front folding entrance door and room for two passengers. The driver communicated through a trap door on top. They proved the most popular of London’s cabs and were later introduced into New York and Boston.

1825: The Erie Canal (the New York State Barge Canal) was opened linking the Niagara river with the Hudson.

1860: Garibaldi proclaimed Victor Emmanuel King of Italy.

1860: The Physical Society, Frankfurt, was given the first demonstration of a telephone when its inventor, Johann Philipp Reis, transmitted verses of songs over a 300-foot line from the Society’s meeting room to the neighbouring Civic Hospital, but it appeared the transmission was not sustained and only bursts of the song were ever heard.

1863: The English Football Association was formed in London.

1879: Birth of Leon Trotsky (Lev Davidovich Bronstein), Communist leader who with Lenin, organized the October Revolution. After Lenin’s death, Stalin ousted him from the Politburo and forced him into exile in 1929. After a Soviet court sentenced him to death in his absence, he found asylum in Mexico where he was eventually murdered.

1881: The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral took place outside Tombstone, Arizona Territory between the Ike Clanton gang and the Town Marshal Virgil Earp, his deputized brothers, Wyatt and Morgan, as well as the alcoholic Doc Holliday. In the gun battle, Ike Clanton’s brother Billy was shot dead as well as two other members of the gang. Ike Clanton and Billy Claibourne escaped. Virgil and Wyatt Earp both died of old age.

1905: Sweden and Norway ended their union and Oscar II, the Norwegian king, abdicated.

1907: The Territorial Army (the British Volunteer Force) was founded by Secretary of State for War, Richard Haldane.

1912: The Woolwich Tunnel under the Thames was opened.

1916: Birth of François Mitterand, founder of the French Socialist Party and President from 1981.

1919: Birth of Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, last Shah of Iran who became shah in 1941. He divorced Princess Soraya in 1958 and married Farah Dibah, a former shepherdess, the following year. On his birthday in 1967, after 26 years, he crowned himself and his Queen in Tehran and declared this to be the National Day of Iran. In 1979 Islamic fundamentalism asserted itself and he was eventually driven into exile.

1927: Duke Ellington and his orchestra recorded ‘Creole Love Song’ with Adelaide Hall growling a wordless vocal to make this a jazz classic.

1955: Village Voice, the influential underground US newspaper, was first published. One of the backers was Norman Mailer.

1956: The International Atomic Energy Agency was formed.

1965: The Beatles received their MBEs at Buckingham Palace.

1984: Known to the outside world simply as Baby Fae, this Californian infant was given a baboon’s heart to replace a defective one, but she died on 15 November 1984.


1662: Charles II sold Dunkirk to Louis XIV for 2,500,000 livres.

1728: Birth of Captain James Cook, English naval officer and one of the greatest navigators in history whose voyages in the Endeavour led to the European discovery of Australia, New Zealand and the Hawaiian Islands. Thanks to Cook’s understanding of diet no member of the crew ever died of scurvy, the great killer on other voyages.

1811: Birth of Isaac Merit Singer, US inventor and manufacturer of domestic and industrial sewing machines despite Elias Howe’s infringements case.

1854: Birth of Sir William Smith, founder of the Boys’ Brigade movement in Glasgow.

1858: Birth of Theodore Roosevelt, 26th US President who, among his many accomplishments, won the Nobel Peace prize (1906) for his efforts in ending the Russo-Japanese war.

1901: A getaway car was used for the first time when thieves robbed a shop in Paris and raced away.

1904: Mayor McLellan opened the New York Subway.

1936: Mrs Simpson was granted a divorce from her second husband.

1951: Winston Churchill, now aged 77, became Prime Minister once more after the fall of the Labour Government.

1971: The Republic of the Congo changed its name to the Republic of Zaire.

1978: The Nobel Prize Committee announced that the Peace prize would go to President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel for their effort in establishing peace between their two countries. They received their awards on 10 December 1978.

1986: ‘Big Bang’ Day in the City of London, brought about by the deregulation of the money market.


1636: Harvard University was founded, the first in the US. It was named after John Harvard, the English-born Puritan minister who bequeathed £779 and a 300-volume library.

1746: An earthquake demolished Lima and Callao in Peru.

1794: Birth of Robert Liston, Scottish physician who carried out the first operation with the aid of an anaesthetic in Britain.

1831: Michael Faraday demonstrated the first dynamo.

1846: Birth of George-Auguste Escoffier, ‘King of Cooks’, chef de cuisine of the Carlton and the Savoy in London who also wrote A Guide to Modern Cookery with some 5000 recipes.

1862: The Aerated Bread Company (ABC) began in London. It eventually developed into a major food and retail chain.

1886: The Statue of Liberty was presented by France to the US. It was dedicated by President Cleveland to mark the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Designed by Auguste Bartholdi, it took nine years to complete.

1893: The first Royal Navy destroyer, HMS Havock, started trials.

1912: Birth of Sir (William) Richard Doll, English physician and cancer researcher who first proved the link between cigarette smoking and cancer.

1914: Birth of Jonas (Edward) Salk, US microbiologist who developed an anti-polio vaccine which virtually eradicated polio in developed countries.

1914: George Eastman announced the invention of a colour photographic process to be marketed by his Eastman Kodak Company.

1929: The first baby was born on a plane when Mrs T W Evans gave birth to a girl in a transport plane above Florida.

1938: Birth of David Dimbleby, English newspaper proprietor and broadcaster, son of the great Richard, who, like his father, commentates at major political and ceremonial occasions.

1949: The glove puppet character Sooty, with Harry Corbett, made his first appearance on BBC television.

1958: The state opening of the British Parliament was televised for the first time.

1962: The Cuban Missile Crisis came to an end when Khrushchev announced that the USSR would withdraw its missiles from Cuba, and Kennedy said the US would lift the blockade.

1971: The House of Commons voted by a majority of 112 in favour of Britain joining the European Common Market.

1982: The Socialists won a landslide victory in Spain under the new Prime Minister, 40-year-old Felipe Gonzalez.


National Day of Turkey. Kemal Atatürk proclaimed Turkey a republic and became its first President.

1507: Birth of the Duke of Alba, Spanish soldier and statesman who conquered Portugal and was the hated governor general of the Netherlands.

1618: Sir Walter Raleigh, English seafarer, courtier and writer, once a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I (he named Virginia after her) was beheaded at Whitehall. He had been falsely accused of treason and sentenced to death commuted to imprisonment, but after 13 years had been released to try and find the legendary gold of El Dorado. He failed, and returned to an undeserved fate.

1787: The first performance of Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni took place in Prague.

1863: The Red Cross was founded by Swiss philanthropist, Henri Dunant. On the 46th anniversary of its formation in 1909, Dame Anne Bryans was born and would become the chairman of the Red Cross and Order of St John in Britain.

1879: Birth of Franz von Papen, German statesman and diplomat who played a leading role in overthrowing the Weimar government and helping Hitler come to power.

1886: Fred Archer rode the last of his 2746 winners at Newmarket, retiring after 16 years.

1897: Birth of (Paul) Joseph Goebbels, Nazi propaganda chief from 1929 and Minister of Propaganda from 1933, who turned from poisoning minds to poisoning himself as the Allies entered Berlin.

1927: Russian archaeologist Peter Kozlov discovered the tomb of Genghis Khan.

1929: ‘Black Tuesday’, so-called when Wall Street crashed leading to the Great Depression. Shares had begun to slide dramatically on ‘Black Thursday’ (24 October) and the fall only ended on 2 July 1932 when the Dow Jones Industrial Index average had fallen almost 90%.

1945: The Harwell Atomic Energy Research Establishment was set up in England.

1956: Israel invaded the Sinai Peninsula and troops were pushing on towards the Suez Canal, just 20 miles away.

1964: Tanganyika and Zanzibar became known as Tanzania when they united.

1967: Expo 67 opened in Montreal.

1975: The world’s largest mining complex opened at Selby, Yorkshire.

1982: The Dingo Baby Murder Case ended in Australia with Lindy Chamberlain, the mother, being convicted of the murder of her nine-week-old baby Azaria at Ayers rock who, she claimed, had been carried off by a dingo. The Darwin Supreme Court sentenced her to life imprisonment, but she was later given a discharge.

1985: Lester Piggott, champion jockey, ended his riding career with one winner out of five rides at Nottingham. He had won the Derby nine times.

1987: Thomas ‘Hit Man’ Hearns won the world middle heavyweight title, making him the first boxer to win a world title at four different weights.

1988: Two of Britain’s greatest middle-distance runners, Sebastian Coe and Steve Cram, re-ran the ‘Chariots of Fire’ race. In 1927 Lord Burghley and Harold Abrahams, later an Olympic gold medallist, decided to sprint around the Great Court, Trinity College, Cambridge, setting off as the clock began to strike twelve and completing the 367 metre circuit before the twelfth stroke. Seb Coe won in 45.52 seconds. In the original race (not in the film) Lord Burghley actually beat Abrahams crossing the line in 42.5 seconds.


1485: Henry VII established the Yeoman of the Guard.

1735: Birth of John Adams, 2nd US President from 1797-1801, who signed the Declaration of Independence and went to France to negotiate the treaties that ended the War of American Independence.

1894: The Time Card recorder was patented by D M Cooper of New Jersey.

1905: The October Manifesto: The Tsar of Russia bowed to pressure and agreed to grant civil liberties and elections in the hope of preventing a revolution by striking workers and oppressed peasants.

1905: Aspirin went on sale in Britain. It was developed by the German pharmaceutical company Bayer.

1911: Pu Yi, the boy emperor of China, aged five, on the advice of the regent Prince Chun granted a new constitution to combat the growing support for the Republican army and officially ended three centuries of Manchu domination over China.

1914: The Battle of Ypres began. (It ended on 21 November.)

1918: Czechoslovakia was proclaimed a republic with leaders Tomas Masaryk and Edvard Benes.

1922: Benito Mussolini, who at 39 became Italy’s youngest Prime Minister, formed a Fascist ministry in Rome.

1925: In his workshop in London John Logie Baird achieved the first television pictures using a dummy’s head. He then persuaded a 15-year-old office boy, William Taynton, to come and sit in front of the camera and to become the first live person captured on television.

1938: Orson Welles’ radio production and adaptation of H G Wells’ story, War of the Worlds, caused panic and at least one death through heart failure by convincing many that Martians had really landed in the US. It made 23-year-old Welles and many of his Mercury Theatre cast (including Joseph Cotton) household names.

1942: Montgomery’s Eighth Army began its major offensive at El Alamein with thousands of guns lighting up the sky.

1959: Ronnie Scott’s jazz club opened in London’s Soho.

1967: Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones was jailed for nine months for drug offences, but released on bail pending an appeal.

1974: Muhammad Ali regained his world heavyweight boxing title when he knocked out George Forman in the eighth round in Kinshasa.

1984: Father Jerzy Popieluszko, aged 37, a friend of Solidarity who had been kidnapped 11 days earlier, was found beaten to death in a reservoir in central Poland, murdered by government agents.

1988: The mass marriage of 6,516 couples who had only met the day before took place in a Seoul factory. The Reverend Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Moonies, conducted the service.


Halloween (All Hallows Eve), the day the souls of the dead were supposed to revisit their homes.

1802: Birth of Benoît Fourneyron, French inventor who developed the water turbine based on a proposal by his former professor, Claude Burdin. It was only realized how important the turbine could be when it was installed on the US side of the Niagara Falls to turn generators to provide electricity.

1828: Birth of Sir Joseph Swan, English chemist and inventor. Both he and Edison are separately credited with the invention of the electric lamp. Edison was first, but his had a much shorter life and was therefore not practical.

1864: Nevada became the 36th state of the Union.

1887: Birth of Chiang Kai-shek, Chinese general and leader of the Kuomintang (Nationalist People’s Party) until ousted by the Communists. He remained as leader in exile on Taiwan.

1888: Pneumatic bicycle tyres were patented by Scottish inventor John Boyd Dunlop.

1915: The first steel helmets were issued to British troops on the Western Front.

1940: The Battle of Britain ended. The Royal Air Force had lost 915 aircraft, the Luftwaffe 1,733.

1951: The first zebra crossings were introduced in Britain.

1952: The first hydrogen bomb was detonated by the US at Eniwetak Atoll, Marshall Islands in the mid-Pacific.

1955: Princess Margaret announced that she would not marry Captain Peter Townsend, a divorcee.

1958: In Stockholm, Dr Ake Senning implanted the first internal heart pacemaker.

1964: The Windmill Theatre off London’s Piccadilly Circus finally closed after 32 years excluding 12 compulsory days in 1939 at the start of the war. The slogan ‘We Never Closed’ was a tribute to the tiny theatre that stayed open to troops during the war and later saw new comedians get their first blooding. Hancock, Sellers, Milligan and Bentine were just some who played in the Windmill’s Revuedeville shows starting in the late morning and running non-stop till late evening.

1971: An IRA bomb exploded at the top of the London Post Office Tower near the revolving restaurant. The building has been closed to the public ever since.

1984: Mrs Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, was shot dead by a Sikh member of her bodyguard in New Delhi while walking to a meeting with Peter Ustinov to discuss making a documentary about her.

1987: A London bank allowed a trainee accountant, 23-year-old Anil Gupta, to run up debts of more than £1 million to deal in traded options. When shares dropped dramatically, he lost all and admitted not ‘having a bean’.


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