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October 17th:

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

1727 The 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. Eventually, working, and middle-class support secured him his rightful entry to Parliament where he fought for reforms and religious tolerance.

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

1860 The world's first professional golf tournament was held, at Prestwick in Scotland.

1936 Newspaper owner Lord Beaverbrook promised King Edward VIII that he would arrange for the British press to remain silent on the subject of his relationship with American divorcee Mrs. Wallis Simpson.

1942: 94 Lancasters from Bomber Command's 5 Group conducted an audacious long-range low-level daylight raid on the Schneider arms factory at Le Creusot in central France, which was manufacturing heavy guns and railway engines for the Germans.  After intensive low-flying training, the aircraft set out over the sea, passing around Brittany to make landfall on the Biscay coast.  Despite the lack of fighter cover, only one aircraft was lost, when it attacked its intended target at such low level it crashed into the building.  Four other aircraft were damaged by bird strikes.  140 tons (142 metric tons) of bombs fell on the factory and a nearby electricity transformer station.  Sadly, a nearby housing estate was also badly hit by bombs that fell short.

1956 Queen Elizabeth II opened Calder Hall in Cumbria - Britain's first large scale atomic energy station.

1973 The start of a major world oil crisis when oil producing Arab states increased prices by 70 per cent and cut production in protest at US support for Israel in the Yom Kippur War.

1978 Public pressure led ministers to reduce the number of grey seals to be culled in Scotland.

1980 In Rome, the first ever meeting between a British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II and the Pope, during a State Visit to the Vatican.

1985 The House of Lords, in the Gillick case, permitted doctors to prescribe oral contraceptives to girls aged under 16 without parental consent.

1989: Earthquake hits San Francisco. A powerful earthquake rocks San Francisco killing nine people and injuring hundreds.

1991 Four independent television companies: TV-am, Thames, TVS and TSW lost their licences to broadcast following a 'sealed bid' system of awarding the franchises by the Independent Television Commission.

1996 England international footballer Paul Gascoigne was accused of beating up his wife Sheryl at a hotel in Scotland.

2000 Four people were killed when a high speed passenger train derailed in Hatfield, just north of London.

October 18th:

1016: Cnut, King of Denmark, defeated Edmund Ironside, King of England, in battle at Ashingdon.  Ironside was forced to cede the north of England to Cnut, and his subsequent murder resulted in Cnut gaining control over the whole of the country.

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

1826 Britain's last state lottery was held, prior to the launch of the National Lottery in 1994.

1865 British Tory politician Lord (Pumice-stone) Palmerston died in office. His abrasive and arrogant style earned him his nickname.

1910 The trial of English murderer Dr Crippen began at the Old Bailey Criminal Court in London.

1922 The British Broadcasting Corporation was officially formed.

1940: There was very little daylight Luftwaffe activity.  Night targets included London, Bristol, Liverpool, Southampton and Birmingham.   Convoys SC-7 and HX-79 suffered grievously at the hands of U-boat wolfpacks, losing seventeen and fourteen ships respectively.

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 because of ill health. Sir Alec Douglas-Home became Prime Minister.

1966 The Queen granted a royal pardon to Timothy Evans, wrongly convicted and hanged in 1950 for the murder of his wife and child. The real murderer was John Reginald Christie who had been hanged for mass murder in 1953.

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

1987 Nigel Mansell won the Mexican Grand Prix.

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

1995 Red Rum, three times winner of the Grand National at Aintree, died at the age of 30 - an exceptional age for a horse.

1998 Richard Bacon, presenter of the BBC TV programme 'Blue Peter' was sacked for taking cocaine.

October 19th:

1216 King John died during a Civil War which was the result of his refusal to recognize the Magna Carta signed the previous year. He was known as Lackland for losing so much territory to France.

1745 Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver's Travels, died aged 77.

1781 The American War of Independence came to an end when British commander Lord Cornwallis surrendered his 8,000 troops to George Washington at Yorktown, in Virginia, after a three week siege.

1914 World War I - The start of the First Battle of Ypres. It saw the British and French defeat repeated German attempts to break their lines in an attempt to capture the channel ports.

1914 Wartime licensing laws came into operation, premises having to close at 10 p.m.  Shocked

1918: Advancing Allied troops liberated Zeebrugge and Bruges, finally putting an end to the depredations of the Flanders-based U-boat flotillas which had enjoyed great success against British shipping.

1954 The first day of the public inquiry into the crashes of two Comet airliners within months of each other heard that metal fatigue was the most likely cause. The Comet's certificate of airworthiness was withdrawn after the second crash.

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 British Petroleum announced the first major discovery of oil under the British sector of the North Sea.

1978 For the first time in Britain, the International Motor Show was held outside London, its new home being the newly-completed National Exhibition Centre (NEC) near Birmingham.

1987 Black Monday. Millions of pounds were wiped off the value of shares and other financial markets around the world. Wall Street ended the day down 22%, a greater fall than the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

1989 The 'Guildford Four' had their convictions quashed after wrongly serving 14 years in prison for the IRA bombings at Guildford and Woolwich.

1991 London's Royal Opera House had to cancel its performance, as orchestra members, pursuing an industrial dispute, refused to wear dinner jackets and turned up in jeans.

2001 It was announced that a 'serious error' was made by researchers who wasted five years testing the wrong animal brains for BSE!

October 20th:

1632 The birth of English architect Christopher Wren. He was responsible for the rebuilding of St. Paul's Cathedral following the Great Fire of London.

1714 The Coronation of King George I.

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 USA and Britain as the official boundary between Canada and the United States of America.

1822 The first edition of the Sunday Times newspaper.

1822 The birth of Thomas Hughes, English author who wrote Tom Brown's Schooldays.

1827: During the Greek War of Independence, a Turkish-Egyptian fleet had landed troops at Navarino Bay in the Peloponnese, despite demands by the three Great Powers, Britain, France and Russia, for an armistice.  A fleet from all three Powers, led by Vice Admiral Sir Edward Codrington, was ordered to intervene.  On 20 October, the allied fleet entered Navarino Bay and destroyed the Turkish and Egyptian ships.  The decisive defeat led to Egypt withdrawing its support to the Ottomans.  Navarino was effectively the last major Royal Navy action under sail, with steam propulsion being widely adopted in later years.

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.

1946 'Muffin the Mule', a wooden puppet operated by Annette Mills (sister of actor Sir John Mills) first appeared in a children's television programme on BBC TV.

1959 Women's colleges at Oxford University were given equal rights to those of the men's.

1960 D.H Lawrence's controversial novel 'Lady Chatterley's Lover' put Penguin Books in the dock at the Old Bailey, London. They were accused of publishing obscene material but were eventually found not guilty.

1973 Queen Elizabeth II opened the new Sydney Opera House in Australia, designed by Danish architect John Utzon.

1988 The British Government announced plans to change the law so that remaining silent could incriminate rather than protect a suspect.

1996 Oscar winners 'Wallace and Gromit' disappeared after being left in a taxi in New York. Both the life-size plastic models from Britain's award winning animation film were later found safe and well !

1997 'Brown Monday' on the London Stock Exchange with £10 billion being wiped off the value of shares after British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown failed to clarify his Government's stance on the European single currency.

2000 Rail safety chiefs warned they would consider closing sections of track following the Hatfield crash.

October 21st: 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, the modern building material, was first patented by Joseph Aspdin of Wakefield in Yorkshire.

1868 Sir Ernest Dunlop Swinton, the English inventor of the military tank, was born.

1940 Geoff Boycott, Yorkshire and England batsman was born.

1958 The first women peers were introduced into the House of Lords.

1960 Britain launched its first nuclear submarine, HMS Dreadnaught, at Barrow.

1966 144 people, 116 of them children, were killed in the small Welsh mining village of Aberfan when tons of slush, from a nearby coal slag tip weakened by rain, slid downhill and engulfed the village school, a farm and a row of terraced houses.

1975 Britain's unemployment figure reached 1,000,000 for the first time since World War II.

1982 Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness made history as they become the first members of Sinn Fein to be elected to the Ulster Assembly.

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

1985 In one of Britain's worst motorway crashes, 13 people were killed on the M6 motorway in Lancashire.

1988 A Greek cruise ship sank after a collision with a freighter. All 390 British schoolchildren and 81 teachers were rescued.

1996 Frances Lawrence, widow of headmaster Phillip Lawrence who was stabbed to death by a group of teenagers outside his school gates, launched a 'better citizenship campaign' to promote good behaviour in schools.

1997 'Candle in the Wind' - the re-working of the hit single Elton John sang live at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, was declared the biggest selling single in music history.

October 22nd:

1707: HM Ships Association, Romney and Eagle ran aground on Scilly Isles during a storm, whilst returning from operations in the Mediterranean.  Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, one of the Royal Navy's most experienced and distinguished commanders, is believed to have survived the wreck, but to have been subsequently killed by looters.

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, between Broughton and Swinton, at Broughton, Lancashire.

1883: The Metropolitan Opera House, New York opened.

1910 American born Doctor Hawley Crippen was convicted at the Old Bailey Central Criminal Court in London of poisoning his wife Cora. Crippen was hanged on November 23rd at Pentonville prison.

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.

1937 The Duke and Duchess of Windsor arrived in Berlin to meet German leader Adolf Hitler, to study housing conditions and to hear a concert.

1946: The Corfu Incident - the destroyer HMS Saumarez struck a mine whilst passing down the channel between Corfu and the Albanian coast.  36 crewmen were killed.  She was taken in tow by her consort HMS Volage, but she in turn struck a mine, losing eight crewmen.  Volage nevertheless continued to tow Saumarez to safety, passing the towline over her bow and steaming astern.  The International Court of Justice ruled that the mines had been laid after the end of the war, and awarded the UK £1 million in compensation.

1952 In Kenya, British troops arrested the leader of the 'Mau Mau' rebels, Jomo Kenyatta.

1966: KGB Double-agent breaks out of jail. One of Britain's most notorious double-agents, George Blake, escapes from prison in a daring break-out believed to have been masterminded by the Soviet Union.

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.

1974 A bomb exploded in a London restaurant near to where opposition leader Edward Heath was dining. Three members of staff were injured.

1975 The 'Guildford Four' were sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty of planting IRA bombs in pubs in Guildford and Woolwich. Fifteen years later they had their convictions quashed by the Court of Appeal, following an extensive inquiry into the original police investigation.

1983 The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) held its biggest ever protest against nuclear missiles in London, with an estimated one million people taking part.

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

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.

1990: Aral Sea is 'world's worst disaster'. Scientists tell the Royal Geographical Society how irrigation has destroyed what was once the world's fourth largest fresh water sea.

2001 Towns and villages in Cambridgeshire and Essex were on flood alert as forecasters predicted more torrential downpours following what experts said were the worst floods in 20 years.

October 23rd:

1642 The first major battle of the English Civil War took place at Edgehill in South Warwickshire. Charles I and Prince Rupert led the Royalists and the Earl of Essex led the Parliamentarians.

1843 Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square was finally completed. It commemorates Admiral Nelson's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

1906 In Britain, women suffragettes, campaigning for the right to vote, held a demonstration at the House of Commons. Ten were arrested and sent to prison.

1918: On the Western Front, Lieutenant-Colonel Greenwood led a battalion of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in a series of assaults against formidable German defences, at one point attacking single-handed a machine-gun position which had pinned down his men.  Elsewhere, Private Miles, Gloucestershire Regiment, attacked two machine-guns in turn, opening up an advance by his battalion that captured 16 machine-guns and their crews.  Greenwood and Miles each received the Victoria Cross.

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

1931 The birth of Diana Dors, an actress remembered for her 'sex symbol' roles.

1942: A massive artillery barrage marked the start of the Second Battle of El Alamein, as Montgomery unleashed 8th Army against the German and Italian defensive positions commanded by General Stumme.  The initial infantry assault was led by 51st Highland, 1st South African, and the New Zealand Divisions.  The Desert Air Force, reinforced by a small USAAF contingent of fighters and medium bombers, provided continuous close-air support.

1951 Conservative leader, Winston Churchill, wound up his election campaign by denying that he was a warmonger: "If I remain in public life at this juncture it is because I believe I may be able to make an important contribution to the prevention of a 3rd World War."

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

1966 John Surtees, British racing driver, won the Mexican Grand Prix.

1967 British farmers began slaughtering cattle following a severe outbreak of 'foot and mouth' disease.

1972 Access credit cards came into use in Britain.

1987 Former Champion Jockey Lester Piggott 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.

1991 The House of Lords ruled that husbands could legally be convicted of raping their wives.

2001 The Northern Ireland peace process reached an historic breakthrough as the IRA announced that they were decommissioning their weapons.

October 24th:

1537 Henry VIII's 3rd wife, Jane Seymour, died following the birth of future king, Edward VI.

1857 The founding of the world's first official football club, Sheffield Football Club, in Yorkshire, by a group of former students from Cambridge University. That figures. If it had been left to the locals they still wouldn't have a club, unless someone else paid for it...

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.

1879: In Afghanistan, half a dozen men, led by Captain Sartorius, 59th Regiment, attacked a mountain-top position held by tribesmen.  They were under fire most of the way up a steep and difficult path, and one man was killed, but they successfully reached the top and cleared the position.  Sartorius was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC).

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.

1922 George Cadbury, the English chocolate manufacturer, died aged 83.

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

1945 United Nations Organisation is born. Allies of World War II ratify the UN Charter at a ceremony in Washington DC. The aim of the UN was to 'save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.'  Confused

1961 Malta was granted independence from Britain.

1969 British actor Richard Burton bought his wife, American actress Elizabeth Taylor, a 69.42 carat diamond costing more than half a million pounds.

1976 British Formula One driver James Hunt won the Japanese Grand Prix and secured the world championship.

1983 Civil servant Dennis Nilsen, from North London, went on trial accused of six murders and two attempted murders.

1986 The UK government broke off diplomatic relations with Syria following revelations of official complicity in a plot to blow up an El Al airliner.

1987 Heavyweight boxing champion Frank Bruno knocked out Joe Bugner in Britain's most hyped boxing match, held at White Hart Lane, London. Bruno took home £750,000, Bugner got £250,000.

1995 Britain's main church leaders attacked the setting up of Britain's first National Lottery, accusing it of undermining public culture and damaging society.

2003 The legendary supersonic aircraft, Concorde, made its last commercial passenger flight amid emotional scenes at Heathrow airport.

October 25th: 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.

1400 Geoffrey Chaucer, the English poet famous for the Canterbury Tales, died.

1415: Henry V won his great victory at Agincourt.  Massively outnumbered by the French forces, and with his own men exhausted after marching through appalling weather, the result should have been very different.  But the French squandered their advantages, failed to use their crossbowmen and archers to any effect, and attacked the English frontally through thick mud.  English losses may have been as low as 100, whilst thousands of French perished or were captured, including the flower of their nobility.

1760 King George II died. George III Hanover, his grandson, became king.

1839 Bradshaw's Railway Guide, the world's first railway timetable, was published, in Scumchester.

1854: The Russians under Prince Menshikov moved on the Allied supply depot at Balaclava supporting the siege of Sebastopol.  An initial attack seized defensive redoubts on the heights which had been manned by Turkish troops supported by British gunners.  A large formation of Russian cavalry then advanced towards Kadikoi, just north of Balaclava.  Sir Colin Campbell held the position with 700 Sutherland Highlanders and 1,000 Turkish troops.  The "Thin Red Line" held despite tremendous odds.
Then Major General Scarlett led the Heavy Brigade in one of the finest actions of the British cavalry's history, charging uphill with some 300 men to break at least 2,000 Russian cavalry.  Sergeant-Major Grieve and Sergeant Ramage were awarded the Victoria Cross (VC).
However, Balaclava is best remembered for the disastrous charge by Lord Lucan's Light Brigade "into the valley of death".  (Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote poems about both cavalry charges.) Lord Raglan wanted the Light Brigade to stop the Russians taking away the British guns from the captured redoubts on the hills.  Instead, the 673-strong Brigade charged approximately a mile and a quarter (0.6km) down the valley, which was lined with perhaps as many as 70 Russian artillery pieces.  The survivors overran the artillery at the head of the valley, then had to cut their way through Russian cavalry before falling back, having lost 360 men killed and wounded, and 517 horses; their return to the Allied lines was aided by a gallant attack by the French cavalry on the Fedoukine Heights.  VCs were awarded to Lieutenant Dunn, Sergeant-Major Berryman, Sergeants Malone and Farrell, and Private Parkes.

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.

1951 Margaret Roberts (later Thatcher), aged 26, of the Conservative Party, became the youngest candidate to stand at a general election. The Conservatives won a narrow overall majority but the future British Prime Minister failed to win the seat.

1964 The Beatles won five UK Ivor Novello Awards - 1963's Most Broadcast Song, and Top-Selling Single 'She Loves You', Second Best-Selling Single 'I Want to Hold your Hand', Second Most Outstanding Song 'All My Loving', and the Most Outstanding Contribution to Music.

1976 The new National Theatre on the South Bank in London, was officially opened after years of delays.

1978 Queen Elizabeth II opened the new Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool.

1984: Europe grants emergency aid for Ethiopia. The EEC is donating £1.8 million to help combat the famine in Ethiopia.

1995 Fans gathered outside Buckingham Palace, to sing 'Congratulations' after singer Cliff Richard formally received his knighthood.

2001 British Crime Survey revealed that the chances of being a victim of crime were the lowest for 20 years.

2004 John Peel, veteran BBC broadcaster and Radio 1 DJ died from a heart attack whilst in Peru on holiday. He was the only original DJ from when Radio 1 started still broadcasting on the station.

October 26th: National Day of Australia.

0899 King Alfred the Great, Saxon King of Wessex, south west England, is believed to have died on this date. A soldier and scholar, he fought against the invading Danes and formed England's first navy. His son, Edward the Elder became King.

1760 George III was crowned, beginning one of the longest reigns in history (60 years), during which he went insane.

1863 The Football Association was formed at a meeting at Freeman's Tavern in London.

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.

1907 The Territorial Army was formed by the Secretary of State for War, Richard Haldane.

1917: The Second Battle of Passchendaele began.  The ANZAC troops, who had suffered heavily in the previous phases of the Third Ypres offensive, had been relieved by the Canadian Corps.  Although the combination of artillery fire and heavy rain had reduced the terrain to a quagmire in many places, the assault was renewed.  The Germans resorted to the use of increasing quantities of mustard gas to stave off the attacks.  Progress was slow, and casualties extremely heavy.

1929 London's world famous buses were painted red.

1942: An Australian soldier, Private Gratwick, single-handedly destroyed a machine gun post and a mortar position at El Alamein.  He was killed charging a second machine-gun.  He received a posthumous Victoria Cross (VC).

1950 The first sound and vision broadcast from the House of Commons was broadcast, showing George VI reopening the chamber after repair work carried out on damage sustained during the war.

1951: Churchill wins general election. The Conservatives defeat Labour in the general election by a small majority making Winston Churchill prime minister for the second time.

1965 The Beatles went to Buckingham Palace to be presented with their MBEs by Queen Elizabeth II. Four years later, John Lennon sent back his MBE, stating that he was returning the award in protest against British involvement in Biafra, Nigeria, and Vietnam.

1986 Leading politician Jeffery Archer was forced to resign from the deputy chairmanship of the Conservative party following allegations that he made a payment to a prostitute to avoid a scandal. He denied the allegations and later fought a successful libel case.

1989 The re-built Globe Theatre in London reopened for the first time in 350 years.

1989 The British Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson resigned over policy differences with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. John Major replaced him.

2000 The long awaited report into the spread of BSE or 'mad cow disease' and its fatal human equivalent, vCJD, criticised officials, scientists and government ministers.

2001 British troops were put on standby for action in Afghanistan as Tony Blair warned that Osama bin Laden must be stopped.
30 Mill

October 26th: National Day of Australia.


30 Mill wrote:
October 26th: National Day of Australia.


You know the rules - if it's on the internet it must be true!  Cool

October 27th:

1662 Charles II of England sold the coastal town of Dunkirk to King Louis XIV of France for 2,500,000 livres.

1728 The birthday of Captain James Cook, Yorkshire-born English naval officer and one of the greatest navigators in history. His 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. In his youth he was apprenticed to a ship owner in Whitby.

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

1890: A Royal Navy squadron captured Witu in East Africa, using a Naval landing party of sailors, plus troops from the Government of Zanzibar and police from the Imperial British East Africa Company, after the Sultan instigated the murder of nine German citizens.

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.

1914 Birth of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. He had a long affinity with Laugharne, spending the last four years of his life in the Boathouse.

1918: A Canadian officer, Major William Barker, RAF, patrolling in one of the new Sopwith Snipe fighters, single-handedly fought off five German formations numbering some sixty or more fighters after successfully destroying a German two-seater.  His elbow was shattered, he suffered bullet wounds in each thigh, and twice lost consciousness, but Barker managed to shoot down another three of his opponents, before crash-landing safely behind Allied lines despite having suffered multiple wounds.  He received the Victoria Cross.

1936 American Wallis Simpson, the future Duchess of Windsor, was granted a divorce from her second husband Ernest, leaving her free to marry King Edward VIII.

1942: Lieutenant Colonel Turner of the Rifle Brigade led an attack which captured a position on Kidney Ridge at El Alamein.  His battalion was counter-attacked by 90 enemy tanks.  Turner led a desperate defence which destroyed 50 of the tanks, and personally helped man an anti-tank gun despite suffering a head wound.  He was awarded the Victoria Cross.

1952 The BBC screened part one of the 26 part series 'Victory At Sea', Britain's first TV documentary.

1958 First transmission of the BBC children's television programme Blue Peter.

1965 An airliner crashed at Heathrow, killing 36 people.

1967 Britain passed the Abortion Act, allowing abortions to be performed legally for medical reasons.

1968 An estimated 6,000 marchers, demonstrating against the Vietnam War, faced up to police outside the US Embassy in London.

1971: The Republic of the Congo changed its name to the Republic of Zaire. They also stopped drinking Um Bongo.

1978 Four people were killed and four others seriously wounded after a gunman (Barry Williams) went on a shooting spree on the Bustleholm estate, Wednesbury and later at a service station in Nuneaton.

1980 The start of a hunger strike by Republican prisoners interned in the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland.

1986: ‘Big Bang’ Day in the City of London, brought about by the deregulation of the money market, which I'm sure we'll all agree has been an unmitigated triumph for all concerned.

1987 Gilbert McNamee was sentenced to 25 years in prison for being an IRA bomb maker

1998 Welsh Secretary Ron Davies resigned after what he described as his 'inappropriate behaviour' late at night on Clapham Common, London which led to him being robbed at knife point.  Embarassed

October 28th:

1216 Henry III was crowned. His son was England's warrior king, Edward I.

1664: King Charles II authorised the raising of the Duke of York & Albany's Maritime Regiment of Foot, the first infantry unit specially raised for service aboard ships and the ancestors of the modern Royal Marines.  The men were raised from the Trained Bands of the City of London, and the Royal Marines retain the right of marching through the City with Colours, drums, and fixed bayonets.

1794 The birth of Robert Liston, Scottish physician who carried out Britain's first operation with the aid of an anaesthetic.

1831 English physicist Michael Faraday demonstrated the dynamo, founding the science of electro-magnetism.

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 HMS Havelock, the Royal Navy's first destroyer, went on trials.

1912 The 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.

1938 David Dimbleby, TV journalist and commentator was born.

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

1958 The State Opening of Parliament was televised for the first time.

1959 The first use of a car phone, with a call from Cheshire to London. A mere twenty five people had paid the astronomical sum of £200 each for one of the phones.

1962 The opening of Britain's first urban motorway - the M62 (now M60) around Scumchester.

1971 The House of Commons backed Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath and, by a majority of 112, voted for Britain to apply to join the EEC - the European Economic Community.

1974 Sports Minister Denis Howell's wife and young son survived a bomb attack on their car. The attack was thought to be the work of the Provisional IRA and the first on a serving minister during the current IRA campaign.

1979 Chairman Hua Kuo-Feng, the first Chinese leader to visit Britain, was welcomed at Heathrow by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

1986: 'Evil' Bamber jailed for family murders. A 24-year-old Essex man is sentenced to life for killing five members of his family, including his two young nephews.

2000 Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble narrowly won party support to keep a Northern Ireland power sharing government alive.

October 29th:

1618 Sir Walter Raleigh, English seafarer, courtier, writer and 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. He was released after 13 years to try and find the legendary gold of El Dorado. He failed, and returned to an undeserved fate.

1656 Edmund Halley, British astronomer, was born.

1843 The world's first telegram were sent, from Paddington to Slough

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.

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

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.

1975 More than 20 people were injured in an IRA bomb attack on a restaurant in Mayfair, London.

1975 The world’s largest mining complex was opened at Selby, Yorkshire. (Selby is now an attractive market town with an ancient abbey  that dates back to shortly after the Norman conquest.) Only one pit is still operating largely due to a series of geological faults, despite there being a centurys worth of coal still down there...the power stations of the lower Aire Valley are now powered by coal shipped in from China and Poland...

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.

1983 Yachtsman Chay Blyth had to cancel his plans to create a new world clipper record when his trimaran capsized 500 miles east of New York.

1986 The final section of the M25 was opened. The motorway around Greater London was designed to relieve traffic congestion within the capital.

1988 Two of Britain’s greatest middle distance runners, Sebastian Coe and Steve Cram, re-ran the 367 metre ‘Chariots of Fire’ race around the Great Court at Trinity College, Cambridge. Sebastian Coe was the winner in 45.52 seconds. In the original race Lord Burghley crossed the line in 42.5 seconds.

1989 Eight people died when winds of almost 100mph struck South Wales and the West of England, causing flooding, fallen trees and power cuts.

2003 The Conservative Party leader, Iain Duncan Smith, resigned after failing to win the backing of his fellow MPs.

October 30th:

1485 Henry VII of England founded the Yeoman of the Guard - 'Beefeaters' - to guard Royal Palaces in London.

1580 English explorer Sir Francis Drake completed his circumnavigation of the world when his ship, the 'Golden Hind', arrived back at Plymouth on the south coast of England.

1650 The Society of Friends became known as 'Quakers'. During a court case the founder of the Society, George Fox, told the magistrate to 'quake and tremble at the word of God'.

1863: During a campaign against the "Hindustani Fanatics" on the North-West Frontier, Brigadier-General Sir Neville Chamberlain led two brigades of the Indian Army in an encircling movement via the Ambela Pass, but in so doing aroused the hostility of the Bunerwal tribe.  One of several bitter actions was fought on 30 October, when tribesmen succeeded in capturing the Crag Piquet, a British post overlooking the Pass, killing 60 soldiers.  Lieutenant Pitcher of the 4th Punjab Regiment and Lieutenant Fosbery of the 4th Bengal Regiment led the counterattack up a steep and narrow path.  Fosbery was wounded by a boulder hurled from above, but Pitcher was the first man to reach the top, and succeeded in driving the enemy from their position.  Both officers were awarded the Victoria Cross.  The Bunerwal were eventually persuaded by their own casualties to help destroy the "Hindustani Fanatics", whose base at Malka was destroyed on 22 December.

1905: Aspirin went on sale in Britain. It was developed by the German pharmaceutical company Bayer. The active ingredient is actually a form of acid and occurs naturally in willow trees.

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

1925 In his workshop in London, Scotsman John Logie Baird achieved the transmission of the first television pictures using the head of a dummy as his image source. He then persuaded a 15 year old office boy, William Taynton, to sit in front of a camera, becoming the first live person captured on camera.

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.

1942: The German submarine U-559 was badly damaged by Royal Navy destroyers and RAF aircraft in the Mediterranean, and forced to surface.  Her crew began to scuttle her and abandoned ship.  Lieutenant Fasson and Able Seaman Grazier of HMS Petard scrambled aboard the sinking U-boat and managed to find the top secret Enigma cryptographic machine.  They succeeded in passing this safely to colleagues, but were unable to escape themselves before the submarine sank.  The recovery of the machine and its latest key settings were invaluable to the Allied code-breaking effort.  Both men were awarded a posthumous George Cross (GC).

1957 The Government revealed details of plans to reform the House of Lords, which included creating the first women life peerages.

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

1965 English model Jean Shrimpton wore a miniskirt to the first day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival in Australia. The event became a milestone in the advancement of the mini as the defining fashion of the 1960s.

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 grilling legend George Forman in the eighth round in Kinshasa.

1979 Barnes Wallis, British aeronautical engineer and inventor of the wartime dam busting 'bouncing bomb' died. The pilots of 617 squadron used Derwent Reservoir in Derbyshire to practice their low level flying. There is a memorial to them at Derwent Dam.

1984 In Liverpool, the surviving members of the 'Beatles' Pop group were given the freedom of the City. George Harrison refused to attend.

1990 English and French tunnellers met for the first time underneath the English Channel during the construction of the Channel Tunnel.

1995 At Winchester Crown Court, Rosemary West, the wife of serial killer Frederick West, broke her 20 month silence to plead her innocence over her husband's murders.

2001 Farmer Tony Martin, the loner who shot dead a teenage burglar, was cleared of murder but told he must spend at least another year in jail.

October 31st:

1485 The coronation of Henry VII.

1795 John Keats, English romantic poet, was born.

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

1888 Scottish inventor John Boyd Dunlop patented pneumatic bicycle tyres.

1903 Hampden Park football ground - Glasgow, was opened.

1915 For the first time during World War I, British troops wore steel helmets.

1926 Sir Jimmy Savile, radio and TV entertainer was born.

1940: On what is generally regarded as the final day of the Battle of Britain, Luftwaffe operations were mostly limited to fighter sweeps and hit-and-run fighter-bomber raids.

1942: At El Alamein, Sergeant Kibby, an Australian, was noted for his gallantry in a series of actions between 23 and 31 October, including capturing a machine-gun post and repairing damaged field telephone lines in the open under heavy fire.  Finally, on 31 October, once more attacking an enemy position on his own, he was killed.  He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

1944: 24 RAF Mosquito aircraft conducted a low-level precision attack on the Gestapo headquarters at Aarhus University in Denmark.  Their bombs destroyed the records of Gestapo investigations into Resistance operations.  In addition, they killed a team torturing Pastor Harald Sandbaek.  He was rescued alive from the rubble by the Resistance and smuggled to safety in Sweden.

1951 In Britain, 'zebra' crossings came into use for the first time.

1955 Princess Margaret called off her plans to marry divorced Group Captain Peter Townsend.

1956 Britain and France bombed Egypt in retaliation for the barring of their ships from the Suez Canal.

1964 The Windmill Theatre off London’s Piccadilly Circus finally closed after 32 years. Their slogan ‘We Never Closed’ was a tribute to them staying open to troops during the war.

1971 A terrorist bomb exploded at the top of the Post Office Tower in London. The building has been closed to the public ever since.

1982 The Thames barrier, part of London's flood defences, was raised for the first time.

1988 Coventry became Britain's first city to introduce a by-law banning the drinking of alcohol in public places.

1997 A 19 year old British au pair Louise Woodward, was found guilty by a court in America of murdering 8 month old Matthew Eappen.

November 1st:

1695: The Bank of Scotland was founded.

1762 The birth of Spencer Perceval, British Prime Minister, who was later assassinated in the House of Commons.

1848 WH Smith opened its first railway bookstall at Euston Station in London.

1858 Following the bloody events of the Indian Mutiny, Queen Victoria was proclaimed ruler of India, replacing the reign of the East India Company.

1887 The birth of L.S Lowry, English artist, famous for his matchstick figures. The Lowry theatre and art gallery is at Salford Quays.

1911 The first Woman's Weekly magazine was published in Britain.

1914 In the Pacific, off Chile, the first major naval engagement of the First World War was fought at Coronel.  Vice-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock commanded a squadron of largely elderly Royal Navy ships, the most modern vessels being concentrated in the North Sea and Mediterranean.  His opponent was Vice-Admiral Graf von Spee, commanding the German East Asiatic Squadron, which was attempting to return to Germany.  Cradock had left his most powerful but slowest ship, the old battleship HMS Canopus, guarding the Falkland Islands.  In appalling weather, his two armoured cruisers, HMS Good Hope (flagship) and HMS Monmouth, fought gallantly but with little effect against the far more modern German cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, and went down with all hands, including Cradock.  The light cruiser HMS Glasgow, and an armed merchant cruiser, Otranto, managed to escape.  The Admiralty immediately dispatched a powerful battle-cruiser squadron to the South Atlantic.  Spee's squadron was destroyed at the Falklands on 8 December, both Canopus and Glasgow playing a key part in the action.

1922 The first radio licences went on sale in Britain at a cost of ten shillings (50p).

1927 Betting tax was first levied in Britain. Two days later the bookies went on strike at Windsor in protest.

1944 Britain's Home Guard, formed in 1939 to fight the expected German invasion, was ordered to disband.

1945 It was announced that all available evidence supported the theory that German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler had committed suicide in Berlin.

1956 Premium Bonds first went on sale in Britain with the winning numbers picked at random by a machine with the acronym 'ERNIE'. The first Premium Bond was bought by the then Lord Mayor of London, Sir Cuthbert Ackroyd.

1959 The first stretch of the M1 motorway linking London with Yorkshire was opened. The link proved to be a boost for millions of Southerners.

1982 A new terrestrial television channel, Channel Four, began transmitting its first programme - the word game 'Countdown'.

1990 The UK's deputy Prime Minister, Sir Geoffrey Howe, resigned after disagreements over the government's European policy.

November 2nd:

1734: Birth of Daniel Boone, legendary American frontiersman and hunter who led a party to find a trail through the Cumberland Gap in the Appalachian Mountains and eventually settled in Kentucky. Although he was captured by the Indians, he was adopted as a son of the Shawnee chief, Blackfish, before returning to the settlement.

1755: Birth of Marie Antoinette, Austrian princess and Queen Consort of Louis XVI of France, whose arrogant and extravagant behaviour helped fuel the unrest that led to the Revolution. Of the poor she said, ‘If they have no bread, let them eat cake.’

1757/1758/1940: 2 November proved an eventful date for Royal Navy ships bearing the name Antelope.  In 1757, HMS Antelope captured a French privateer, Moras, which had been raiding merchant ships in the Atlantic.  Exactly a year later,Antelope captured the French Belliquex off Ilfracombe.  And in 1940, a destroyer of the same name, similarly defending merchant vessels from attack, sank the German submarine U-31 whilst escorting convoy OB-237.

1871 British police began their Rogues' Gallery, taking photographs of all convicted prisoners.

1896 The first motor insurance policies were issued in Britain, but they excluded damage caused by frightened horses.

1899 Boer War: The start of the Siege of Ladysmith in Natal when Boers encircled British troops and civilians inside the town.

1903: The Daily Mirror was first published in Britain, devised as a daily paper for women. Not much has changed... Wink

1917 British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour submitted a declaration of intent to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The British government hoped that the formal declaration would help garner Jewish support for the Allied effort in World War I.

1924 Almost 11 years after its appearance in America, the first crossword puzzle was published in a British newspaper, sold to the Sunday Express by C.W. Shepherd.

1936 The world's first regular TV service was started by the British Broadcasting Corporation at Alexandra Palace at 3:00 p.m. An estimated 100 TV owners tuned in.

1942: Australian troops in New Guinea succeeded in recapturing the airstrip at Kokoda, allowing their advance across the appallingly difficult terrain of the Owen Stanley mountains to resume.

1950 George Bernard Shaw, the renowned playwright died, aged 94.

1951 The final phase of the largest troop airlift since the war brought in British reinforcements to quell unrest in the Canal Zone, Egypt.

1954 The comedy series 'Hancock's Half Hour' was first broadcast on BBC Radio.

1960 Penguin publishers were cleared of obscenity for printing the D.H. Lawrence novel 'Lady Chatterley's Lover'.

1963 Gerry & the Pacemakers reached the number one spot with 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.

1964 The first episode of the television soap opera 'Crossroads' was broadcast on ITV.

1981 Citizens Band radio (CB radio) was legally allowed in Britain

2000 The controversial chief inspector of schools in England, Chris Woodhead, stepped down, to the delight of teachers' unions.

November 3rd:

1534 England's Parliament met and passed an Act of Supremacy which made King Henry VIII head of the English church, a role formerly held by the Pope.

1718 The birth of John Montague, fourth Earl of Sandwich who gave his name to the Sandwich Islands, and (allegedly) to the 'sandwich' as a result of his reluctance to leave the gaming tables but requiring a quick and easy to eat snack.

1843 The statue of English Admiral Horatio Nelson was raised to the top of Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square, London. The operation was completed on the 4th when the statue’s two sections were assembled.

1941 English broadcaster Roy Plomley conceived the idea for 'Desert Island Discs'. The programme was first broadcast on BBC Radio in January 1942.

1942 World War II: The Battle of El Alamein. The British Eighth Army, commanded by General Bernard Montgomery, broke through the German front line having taken 9000 prisoners and destroyed 300 tanks.

1943: RAF Bomber Command mounted a major raid on Dusseldorf on the night 3/4 November, 589 bombers attacking the city, with another 62 conducting a diversionary attack on Cologne.  38 of the Dusseldorf aircraft made the first large-scale test of the new G-H blind-bombing system, attacking a steel works on the northern edge of the city.  Although a high percentage of the G-H sets failed to work properly, those that did proved quite successful, and the system was duly developed to allow a good level of accuracy to be achieved later in the war.
En route to Dusseldorf, a Lancaster of 61 Squadron, flown by Flight Lieutenant William Reid, was attacked twice by night fighters.  The navigator was killed, the wireless operator was fatally wounded, and both Reid and his flight engineer, Sergeant Norris, were wounded - Reid twice.  The aircraft itself suffered extensive damage, but Reid continued on for another two hundred miles (321.8km) and the bomb aimer, Sergeant Rolton, dropped the weapons on target, as proved by the aircraft's camera.  On the return journey, Reid lost consciousness, but Norris managed to keep the aircraft airborne.  Reid recovered enough to attempt a landing in mist at Shipdham in Norfolk, despite being partially blinded by blood from a head wound.  The undercarriage collapsed on landing, but the surviving crew members escaped successfully.  Flight Lieutenant Reid received the Victoria Cross.

1944: 364 days after the raid above, Bomber Command returned on the night 2/3 November for its last major raid on Dusseldorf with 992 aircraft.  The north of the city was devastated.

1949 The BBC purchased the Shepherd's Bush Studios from the Rank Organisation.

1957: Russians launch dog into space. The Soviet Union sends the first ever living creature into the cosmos aboard Sputnik II.

1975 Queen Elizabeth II opened the North Sea pipeline - the first to be built underwater - bringing ashore 400,000 barrels a day to Grangemouth Refinery on the Firth of Forth in Scotland.

1976 The first £100,000 Premium Bond was won, by an anonymous person in Hillingdon.

1984: Father Jerzy Popieluszko was buried after being murdered by Polish Secret Police. Over 200,000 attended his funeral.

1985 Two French agents in New Zealand pleaded guilty to sinking the Greenpeace ship, Rainbow Warrior and to the manslaughter of a photographer on board. They were sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment.

1996 The death of Conservative MP Barry Porter narrowed to one seat the majority held by the Conservative Party in Parliament.

1997: Angry truckers blockade French ports. Thousands of lorries are at a standstill in France as striking drivers form roadblocks around the country. To be fair, this subject could probably be posted on most days through the years...

2001 Osama bin Laden warned Arab leaders in a video tape broadcast that using the UN for peace negotiations was tantamount to renouncing Islam.

2002 Lonnie Donegan, singer, musician, and legendary skiffle king, died at the age of 71.

2004: George W Bush wins second term. George W Bush is elected president of the United States for the second time, beating his Democratic rival by a comfortable margin.

November 4th:

1605: Guy Fawkes was arrested when around 30 barrels of gunpowder camouflaged with coals and faggots were discovered in the cellar under Parliament. Robert Catesby’s small band of Catholic zealots who planned to blow up James I and Parliament were only arrested after Fawkes revealed their names when tortured on the rack. (Yes, I thought it was tomorrow as well....)

1650 William III, King of England, Scotland and Ireland was born ..... in Holland. On the day after his 38th birthday he landed at Torbay with an army of English and Dutch troops, and when Parliament declared the throne empty, he was proclaimed king.

1852 For the first time in its history, journalists were allowed into the House of Commons to report debates.

1859 Joseph Rowntree, British chocolate manufacturer and philanthropist, died.

1890 The Prince of Wales travelled by the underground electric railway from King William Street to the Oval to mark the opening of what is now the City Branch of the Northern Line. It was the first electrified underground railway system.

1900 Britain's first driving lessons were given, in London.

1922 English explorers Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter discovered the Tomb of King Tutankhamen, in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor, Egypt. It had been undisturbed since 1337 BC.

1929 Violinist Yehudi Menuhin made his London debut, aged 12.

1942 The Battle of El Alamein ended with victory for the allies, after 12 days of conflict with Rommel's 'Africa Corps'.

1946: UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) was established.

1951: In Korea, enemy attacks were in danger of over-running a position held by the King's Own Scottish Borderers.  Private Speakman, from the Black Watch but serving with the KOSB, on his own initiative led forward a group of six men with a large supply of grenades, and led a series of charges to break up the attack.  Although wounded in the leg, he continued to counter-attack until his company had safely withdrawn to a fresh position.  He received the Victoria Cross.

1952 Queen Elizabeth II opened her first Parliament.

1956: Soviet troops overrun Hungary. Soviet troops pour into the city in a massive dawn offensive in repsonse to a national uprising led by Prime Minister Imre Nagy.

1974 Judith Ward was convicted of an army coach bombing on the M62 motorway in which 12 people died. She received a life term for each of those who died. Her conviction was quashed in 1992 when her lawyers argued that the trial jury should have been told of her history of mental illness.

1980: Reagan beats Carter in landslide. Former Hollywood actor and Republican Ronald Reagan wins the US presidential elections by a huge majority.

1987 Millionaire Peter de Savary bought Land’s End in Cornwall.

1992: Clinton beats Bush to the White House. Bill Clinton is elected US President.

1994 400 years of shipbuilding came to an end at the Swan Hunter Shipyard, Tyneside, with the launch of the Royal Naval Frigate ' Richmond'. The yard stood empty for a few years, before it was bought by Jaap Kroese, a Dutch millionaire.

November 5th:

1605 Guy Fawkes (born here, in York) was arrested when around 30 barrels of gunpowder, camouflaged with coal, were discovered in the cellar under Parliament. Robert Catesby’s small band of Catholic zealots who planned to blow up James I and Parliament were only arrested after Fawkes revealed their names when tortured on the rack. The 'Gunpowder Plot' is commemorated each year in Britain on 5th November , 'Guy Fawkes' Night'. The setting off of fireworks is still preceded by children asking for ‘a penny for the Guy’, a grotesque effigy of Guy Fawkes which is burnt on a bonfire this night. (See, I told you it was today....bloody internet!)

1854: The third major engagement of the Crimean War, the Battle of Inkerman, was fought.  The Russians planned a major coordinated assault by four large columns of troops from Sevastopol against British positions on Mount Inkerman.  The British position, held by 2nd Division, was relatively weak, with deep gullies and ravines making reinforcement difficult, and the defenders outnumbered by over 5:1.  The attack was launched in the early hours of the morning, amid rain and mist.  However, Russian coordination failed, and the battle developed into a series of vicious close quarter actions fought in and around the gullies on the hillside.  Bosquet's French troops arrived to lend invaluable support, as did additional British forces, and the Russians were eventually driven back, having lost 10,700 men killed or wounded.  The British lost some 2,300, and the French about 900.  No less than sixteen Victoria Crosses (VC) were awarded.

1909 Woolworths opened its first British store, in Liverpool. Almost 100 years later, (at the end of the first week in January 2009) the last remaining stores closed, for the final time.

1912 The appointment of a British Board of Film Censors. They decided on only two classifications - 'Universal' and 'Not Suitable for Children'.

1913 Vivien Leigh, British actress who won an Oscar for 'Gone With the Wind' was born.

1935 Lester Piggott, champion jockey, was born. Aged 18, he rode his first Derby winner.

1914 World War I: Britain and France declared war on Turkey.

1927 Britain’s first automatic traffic lights were installed at Princess Square road junction in Wolverhampton, in the West Midlands.

1932 Gillespie Road London Underground station, which also served Arsenal Football Club’s Highbury ground, had its name changed to Arsenal after representations by the club.

1940: The German "pocket battleship" Admiral Scheer attacked convoy HX-84 in the mid-Atlantic.  The convoy comprised 37 ships, escorted by the armed merchant cruiser Jervis Bay, commanded by Captain Fegen.  Although unarmoured and massively outgunned - seven elderly 6" guns against Scheer's 11" main battery - Fegen attacked the German ship head on, ordering the convoy to scatter.  Jervis Bay never once brought Admiral Scheer within the range of her own guns, but fought on with her decks ablaze.  190 of her crew of 255 were killed, including Fegen.  The delay allowed most of the convoy to get clear, the German raider only being able to sink five ships before nightfall.  The Canadian armed freighter Beaverford put up a dogged fight for over four hours before being lost.  Captain Fegen was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

1950: 77 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force commenced operations in Korea, flying close-support missions for Australian infantry.

1952: Landslide victory for Eisenhower. General Dwight D Eisenhower sweeps to victory in the American presidential elections with the largest number of popular votes ever recorded for a presidential candidate.

1956: British and French paratroopers were dropped in airborne assaults at Port Fuad and Port Said in Egypt during the Suez Crisis.

1967 At least 40 people were killed and 80 hurt after a train derailed near Hither Green, south-east London.

1971 Princess Anne was voted ‘Sportswoman of the Year’ by the British Sportswriters' Association.

1979 The trial began in Dublin, of the two men accused of the murder of Lord Mountbatten.

1991 Millionaire publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell was found dead at sea, several hours after mysteriously disappearing from his yacht off the Canary Islands.

November 6th:

1282: As part of the preparations for Edward I's second campaign in Wales, a flotilla of small ships had been sent to Anglesey, held by the English, to construct a pontoon bridge across the Menai Strait.  The plan was for the Anglesey force to launch an attack in the Welsh rear coordinated with Edward's advance from the east with the main force.  Luke de Tany, the Anglesey commander, proved too impatient and launched his attack prematurely when the King had only reached Denbigh.  De Tany's force was easily defeated by the Welsh, he fell in action, and the pontoon bridge was wrecked.

1429 Henry VI was crowned King of England, seven years after acceding to the throne at the age of eight months. Two years later, in Paris, he was also crowned King of France.

1638 Birth of James Gregory, Scottish mathematician and astronomer who described the first practical reflecting telescope and contributed towards the discovery of calculus.

1892 Birth of Sir John Alcock, English aviator who flew the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic in 1919 with Sir Arthur Whitten-Brown.

1924 Tory leader Stanley Baldwin was elected Prime Minister. He appointed Winston Churchill, former Liberal, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

1935 The RAF's first monoplane fighter, the 'Hawker Hurricane' made its maiden flight.

1938 Singer P.J. Proby , popular in the 60s, was born. He was banned from performing when his trousers regularly and 'accidentally' split on stage.

1942 The Church of England relaxed its rule that women must wear hats in church.

1956: British and French troops conducted an amphibious landing at Port Said during the Suez Crisis, under cover of naval gunfire and air support.  3 Commando Brigade made the first extensive use of helicopters in such an assault, 45 Commando being flown in by Fleet Air Arm Whirlwinds and Sycamores.  A cease-fire followed at midnight.

1968 2300 jobs were lost when British Eagle airlines stopped flying.

1970 Three times Grand National hero Red Rum, the greatest ever steeplechaser, won his first ever race, a novice event at Doncaster, at odds of 100/7.

1975 UK punk rock group, the Sex Pistols, gave their first public performance at London's St Martin's College of Art. College authorities cut the concert short after a mere 10 minutes.

1986 Forty five people died after a Chinook helicopter carrying oil rig workers plunged into the North Sea off the coast of Scotland.

1988: A virus which crippled 6,000 US Defence Department computers was spread by a 23-year-old graduate whose father headed the country’s computer security agency.

1996: 'Comeback Kid' wins second term. Democratic President Bill Clinton crushes Bob Dole but Republicans retain control of both Houses.

1999: Australia rejects republic. Australians reject a proposal to break ties with the British monarchy and become a republic.

2003 Michael Howard took over as leader of the Conservative party after Iain Duncan Smith was ousted in a no-confidence vote.

2004 Fred Dibnah, aged 66, steeplejack and TV personality lost his three-year fight against cancer only weeks after filming his final television series. He had been awarded the MBE in 2003. Was that really 5 years ago? By 'eck, as Fred himself might have said...

November 7th:

1594: English and French royalist troops under Sir John Norris, supported by a naval squadron under Sir Martin Frobisher, stormed the Spanish fort at Roscanvel in Brittany and massacred the defenders.  Frobisher, however, was wounded in the assault and subsequently died of his injuries.  The fort had been established by the Spanish in March of that year, and occupied a commanding position over the strategic anchorage of Brest Roads.  It thus posed a significant threat to English security by offering a potential staging post for Spanish expeditions to invade England, Wales or Ireland, as had been attempted by the Armada in 1588 and was to be repeated several more times during the Anglo-Spanish war.  The fort's location is remembered by the modern name of Pointe des Espagnols.

1665 The first edition of the London Gazette, the world's longest running journal. It carried news of military appointments and engagements.

1783 The last public hanging in Britain took place when John Austin, a forger, was executed at Tyburn, near Marble Arch in London.

1872: The Marie Celeste, the ill-fated brigantine, sailed from New York to be found mysteriously abandoned some time later.

1918: Birth of (William Franklin) Billy Graham, US evangelist who campaigned for Christ using all the techniques of modern communication to address huge audiences in the US and worldwide. He made several appearance at Elland Road over the years.

1935 The Royal National Institute for the Blind distributed its first Talking Books of players and records to blind and partially sighted people.

1942 The birth of Jean Shrimpton, leading English model whose face and figure, enhanced with a miniskirt, set the fashion for the 60s.

1953 Lucinda Green, frequent winner of the Badminton horse trials, was born.

1956 An official ceasefire during the Suez Crisis following the British and French invasion of Egypt after President Nasser had announced the nationalisation of the Suez Canal.

1956: Eisenhower re-elected with record vote. Eisenhower is returned to the White House with the biggest share of votes for 100 years.

1967 British heavyweight champion Henry Cooper beat challenger Billy Walker to become the only boxer to win three Lonsdale Belts outright.

1974 Lord Lucan mysteriously disappeared following the murder of his children's nanny and a serious assault on his wife.

1989: Protests force out East German rulers. East German leader Egon Krenz prepares to choose a new government after mass resignations of Communist ministers.

1990 Mary Robinson became the first woman President of the Irish Republic.

1996 A team of British, American and Australian scientists reported evidence that life on Earth originated some 350 million years earlier than previously believed.

1997 Despite him being instrumental in their overnight phenomenal international success, British group 'The Spice Girls' sacked their creator and manager Simon Fuller.

1998 Families of World War 1 soldiers executed for cowardice or desertion laid a wreath at the Cenotaph in Whitehall in the first ceremony of its kind to pay tribute to the 306 servicemen who died.

2001 Prime Minister Tony Blair insisted that his global activity for the war on terrorism did not mean that domestic issues such as crime, health and education were neglected.

November 8th:

November 8th is 'The Feast of the Four Crowned Ones', still marked by some English freemasons. It commemorates four masons martyred by Emperor Diocletian for refusing to sculpt a pagan god.

1656 Birth of Edmond Halley, English astronomer and mathematician best known for the comet named after him and for his work predicting its orbit. He also produced the first meteorological chart.

1674 John Milton, blind English poet of Paradise Lost, died.

1793: The Louvre was opened to the public by the revolutionary government, although only part of the great collection could be viewed.

1802 The birth of Sir Benjamin Hall, commissioner of works at the time of Big Ben’s installation in the tower at the Houses of Parliament. The famous 13 ton bell is named after him.

1847 Bram Stoker, Irish author remembered for the classic, 'Dracula', was born. Whitby in Yorkshire has associations with the Dracula novel.

1866: Birth of Herbert Austin, later Baron Austin, English motor car manufacturer who first went to Australia where he managed several engineering works. He returned to England and produced his first car in 1895. He joined the Wolsey Company and then opened his own works in 1905.

1920 Rupert Bear made his first appearance in the Daily Express.

1942: As Rommel's Axis forces were driven out of Egypt following their defeat at El Alamein, Operation Torch saw Allied forces numbering over 100,000 land in North Africa, at Oran, Algiers and Casablanca.  Vichy French forces put up fierce resistance, particularly at Casablanca, although Algiers surrendered that evening.  At Oran, the sloops HMS Walney and HMS Hartland ran the gauntlet of shore batteries in an attempt to land an assault party in the harbour.  Hartland was sunk and every man on Walney's bridge was killed, save only Captain Peters, her Canadian commanding officer, who was blinded in one eye but pressed on the attack, despite his ship being ablaze.  Walney reached her target jetty, but sank alongside.  Peters and a few survivors made it to shore, but he tragically died five days later when the aircraft evacuating him back to the UK crashed.  He was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC).

1957 A report into a fire at Windscale nuclear power plant in Cumbria blamed the accident on human error, poor management and faulty instruments. The fire caused an unspecified amount of radioactive iodine vapour - iodine 131 - to escape into the atmosphere.

1958 Melody Maker published the first British album charts.

1965 The bill abolishing the death penalty became law.

1967 Britain's first commercial radio station, Radio Leicester, was given a licence to broadcast.

1974 Covent Garden ceased to be the location of London’s famous flower and vegetable market as it moved across the Thames, leaving the old warehouses and Floral Hall.

1974: Police hunt Lord Lucan after murder. Detectives are searching for British aristocrat Lord Lucan following the death of his children's nanny last night.

1987 An IRA bomb exploded shortly before a Remembrance Day service at the Cenotaph in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, killing 11 people.

Do you just cut and paste from last year  Laughing  Laughing

cardboardbox?Youwerelucky wrote:
Do you just cut and paste from last year  Laughing  Laughing

How rude! Shocked

Actually that would be a good idea, but it would be the devils own job finding the right page everytime... Rolling Eyes

I'll probably see this through to the end of the year and call it quits unless anyone else fancies a go Wink
30 Mill

Dont be soft - stick with it

November 9th:

1841 Birth of King Edward VII, eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

1847 In Edinburgh, Dr James Young Simpson delivered Wilhelmina Carstairs while chloroform was administered to her mother, the first child to be born with the aid of anaesthetics.

1857: During the Indian Mutiny, the British and loyal Indian garrison defended the Residency at Lucknow for five months.  In November, a relief force under Sir Colin Campbell marched on the city.  On 9 November, Mr Thomas Kavanagh, a Civil Servant in the Residency garrison, volunteered to break out and guide the relief column through the city.  Disguising himself as an Indian, he managed to smuggle himself across the city, eventually reaching Campbell's positions.  Drawing on the intelligence he delivered, Campbell launched a successful assault on 16 November, and succeeded in evacuating the Residency survivors by 23 November.  Kavanagh received the Victoria Cross (VC) for his heroism, one of only five civilians ever to be so decorated.

1859 Flogging in the British army was abolished.

1888 At 3:30 a.m. in London's Whitechapel, 25-year-old Mary Kelly became Jack the Ripper's last known victim.

1907 The Cullinan Diamond, the largest diamond yet found, was presented by the Transvaal to King Edward VII.

1908 Britain's first woman mayor, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, was elected at Aldeburgh. She died on 17th December, 1917 and was buried in Aldeburgh churchyard, Suffolk.

1914: Off the Cocos Islands, the Royal Australian Navy's light cruiser HMAS Sydney finally caught the elusive German light cruiser Emden, which had carried out a remarkable raiding mission against merchant shipping in the Indian Ocean, despite being hunted by the entire Japanese fleet and the British and French Far East squadrons.  Sydney was more modern and more heavily armed, and trapped Emden whilst she was landing a raiding party to destroy the wireless and telegraph station on Direction Island.  A bloody two-hour engagement left Emden wrecked on North Keeling Island.

1922: The SS (Schutzstaffel or ‘Protection Squad’) was formed in Germany.

1940 Neville Chamberlain, British statesman, died.

1953 Dylan Thomas, Welsh poet, died in New York, aged 39. His heavy drinking and wild living contributed to his early demise. He had a long affinity with Laugharne, (Carmarthenshire) spending the last four years of his life in the Boathouse.

1960: Narrow victory for John F Kennedy. Senator John F Kennedy has won the election to become the youngest elected president of the United States.

1961 Brian Epstein went to a lunchtime session at The Cavern in Liverpool to see for himself why his record shop was receiving so many requests for records by a group that had apparently made none. He later became their manager.

1970: France mourns death of de Gaulle. One of the greatest figures in the history of France, General Charles de Gaulle, dies at his home of a heart attack.

1979 Four men were found guilty of killing paperboy Carl Bridgewater. Eighteen years later their convictions were quashed.

1989: Following demands for political reform from its citizens, the East German government decided to lift the ‘iron curtain’ and allow free travel through the Berlin Wall. Soon after the announcement, many thousands of jubilant East Berliners swarmed through the crossing points into West Berlin. The following day bulldozers moved in and began demolishing the 28-year-old barrier.

1992 Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Dr Michael Stroud set out on their unassisted crossing of the Antarctic. For 97 days they fought pain, starvation and snow blindness until they were eventually airlifted out after completing the first and the longest, unsupported journey in Polar history. They walked more than 1,350 miles across some of the most hostile terrain in the world, averaging more than 14 miles a day at temperatures as low as -45°C.

1999 Pop singer Gary Glitter appeared at Bristol Crown Court charged with seducing and sexually humiliating a 14-year-old girl. The charges related back to 1980.

November 10th:

1337: English forces under Edward III's Admiral of the North, Sir Walter Mauny, sacked Cadzand on the Scheldt at the start of the Hundred Years War.  Edward's efforts to raise money and men for operations on the continent had fared poorly, not least given the need to maintain an army fighting the Scots.  To maintain the pressure on the French, Mauny was dispatched across the Channel with a couple of thousand troops that could be spared.  Although his main mission was to convey Edward's chief diplomat - the Bishop of Lincoln, Henry Burghersh - to bolster support amongst allies in the Low Countries, Mauny took the opportunity to raid French-held territory in Flanders.  The sack of Cadzand provoked the local troops to offer battle, and Mauny - himself from Hainault in Flanders by birth - inflicted a bloody defeat on them.  Although the raid proved of great psychological value in panicking the French government, the longer term penalty was bitterness towards the English in that part of Flanders.

1483: Birth of Martin Luther, religious reformer who attacked church abuses and began the Reformation.

1683: Birth of George II, King of England from 1727 to 1760 who leaned heavily on his prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole. He had a passion for opera and was Handel’s patron.

1697 William Hogarth, painter, best known for his series, 'The Rake's Progress', was born.

1854: At Sevastopol, a Russian shell fell in a British trench, its fuse still burning.  Rifleman Wheatley attempted to extinguish the fuse with his rifle butt.  When this failed, he picked up the bomb and threw it out of the trench, where it immediately exploded.  He received the Victoria Cross (VC).

1871 Henry Morton Stanley, sent out to Africa by his newspaper to find Scottish missionary David Livingstone, finally made contact with him at Ujiji on Lake Tanganyika with the immortal words, ‘Dr Livingstone, I presume?'

1913 Battersea elected the first coloured mayor in London, John Archer, born in Liverpool of Jamaican parents. The honour of Britain's first black mayor goes to Allen Glaser Minns (Dr. Allan Glaisyer Minns?) who was elected Mayor of Thetford, Norfolk in 1904.

1925 Richard Burton, legendary Welsh actor, was born.

1938: ‘Kristallnacht’ in Germany, when in the early hours Nazis burned 267 synagogues and destroyed thousands of Jewish homes and businesses, smashing shop windows, which gave the night its name.

1942 Buoyant after the desert victory at El Alamein, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said: 'This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.'

1944: A Gurkha reconnaissance patrol at Monte San Bartolo in Italy ran into overwhelming opposition.  The scout, Rifleman Thaman Gurung, sacrificed himself to allow his platoon to withdraw.  His gallantry not only saved several lives, but also allowed the patrol to escape with valuable intelligence which contributed to the successful capture of the position a few days later.  Gurung received a posthumous Victoria Cross.

1958 British speed enthusiast Donald Campbell broke the water speed record of 248mph on Coniston Water. He died in 1967 (also on Coniston Water) and is buried in the new parish churchyard at Coniston.

1960 Bookshops all over England sold out of Penguin's first run of the controversial novel Lady Chatterley's Lover. All 200,000 copies were sold on the first day of publication.

1968 England and Yorkshire fast bowler Fred Trueman announced his retirement, possibly with the words "There is only so much of a beating the Lancastrians and Australians can take" Very Happy

1980 Outspoken left wing MP Michael Foot defeated (then Leeds East MP) Denis Healey in a shock result to become the new leader of the Labour party.

1986 The legendary jockey, Sir Gordon Richards, died aged 82.

1997 Louise Woodward, British child-minder, was freed from jail in the United States after her conviction for murdering a baby was reduced to manslaughter. Her sentence was cut to 279 days, the exact length of time she had already spent in jail.

2002 Viewers of the UK music channel VH1 voted 'I Will Always Love You' as the most romantic song ever.
30 Mill

1968 England and Yorkshire fast bowler Fred Trueman announced his retirement, possibly with the words "There is only so much of a beating the Lancastrians and Australians can take"

Havent had a decent bowler since  Confused   Sad

November 11th: Feast Day of St Menas (or Mannas), who was believed by the Greeks to have the power to locate lost objects, especially sheep - making him popular in Wales I would imagine?

1887 Work started on building the Scumchester Ship Canal.

1918 At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Great War ended; a war that had lasted for 4 years and 97 days. Germany, bereft of manpower, supplies and food, signed an armistice agreement with the Allies. The war left 9 million soldiers dead and more than 21 million wounded, with Germany, Russia, Austria Hungary, France, and Great Britain each losing nearly a million or more lives.  Peace was not finally secured until the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.  Britain had lost some 888,000 men killed, India 72,000, Canada 65,000, Australia 62,000, New Zealand 18,000 and South Africa 9,300.  Smaller parts of the Empire and Dominions had also made huge sacrifices: of the 6,500 men who served during the war with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, 1,250 men were killed, the 1st Battalion having suffered perhaps the worst casualties of any unit on the first day of the Somme, when 91% of its men were wounded or killed in just 40 minutes. In addition, some 6 million civilians died from disease, starvation, or exposure.

1919 Britain introduced a two minute silence at 11:00 a.m. to remember those who died in World War I.

1920: The body of the unknown soldier was buried under the Arc de Triomphe, while the body of an unknown British soldier returned from France was interred in Westminster Abbey. This ceremony was recorded using a microphone by Lionel Guest and H O Merriman, the first electrical recording made.

1921 The first British Legion Poppy Day.

1940: 21 Fleet Air Arm Swordfish biplanes from HMS Illustrious conducted an audacious night attack on the Italian battle fleet in Taranto harbour with torpedoes and bombs.  Three Italian battleships received serious damage, sinking at their moorings.  Despite formidable anti-aircraft defences, only two Swordfish were lost.  

1940: Willys launched the Jeep (called so from the initials ‘GP’, for general purpose car).

1942: The Royal Indian Navy minesweeper Bengal, armed with a single small 12 pounder (5.4kg) gun, and the Dutch tanker Ondina, armed with a single 4" gun, won a remarkable victory over two heavily armed Japanese raiders, each carrying six 6" guns, torpedoes and aircraft.  The raiders attacked the Allied ships in the Indian Ocean, but Bengal charged at them, setting one of the raiders on fire - she subsequently sank.  Ondina was heavily shelled and hit by two torpedoes, but drove the other raider off.  Although Ondina's crew then abandoned her, they later re-embarked, put out the fires and brought her into Fremantle.

1946 Stevenage was officially designed as Britain’s first New Town, one of ten which were planned to relieve London’s post-war housing problems.

1952: The first video recorder was demonstrated at Bing Crosby Enterprises in Beverly Hills, California by inventors John Mullin and Wayne Johnson.

1953 The BBC television programme Panorama was first broadcast.

1954 Thousands of elderly people took part in a rally in London calling for an increase in their pensions.

1965 The Rhodesian Government, led by Prime Minister Ian Smith, illegally severed its links with the British Crown.

1975: Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was dismissed by the Governor-General Sir John Kerr because, unable to get his budget plans through Parliament he refused to call a general election.

1987 Irises, a painting by Vincent Van Gogh was sold for £27m at Sotheby's, a world record at that time for a work of art.

1987: An amateur pilot, dubbed the Black Baron for his illegal night-time flights over Paris when he buzzed the Champs-Elysées, was grounded by a French court after a massive manhunt. He was fined £5,000 and banned from flying for three years.

1992 The Church of England General Synod voted to allow women to be ordained to the priesthood.

1997 Britain's Labour Party admitted to accepting a £1m donation from Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone, but claimed it would be repaid and that it had nothing to do with the Government's decision to exempt motor racing from the ban on tobacco-related sports sponsorship.

1998 In the first joint engagement of its kind, the Queen and the Irish president, Mary McAleese, unveiled a peace tower in memory of the Irish dead of the First World War.

November 12th:

1642: Following the Royalist victory at Edgehill on 23 October, the Parliamentarian army had retreated to London.  King Charles I pursued, but faced a formidable challenge in trying to take Parliament's power-base in London.  Prince Rupert led a dawn assault on a pair of Parliamentarian regiments holding Brentford, commanded by Lord Brooke and Denzill Holles respectively.  Dense fog aided the attackers, and Holles' regiment was particularly roughly handled, with many of its men drowned in the Thames trying to escape.  Along the river, the Royalist Colonel Blagge pulled off another coup by setting up some artillery at Sion House, which caught a Parliamentarian supply convoy of barges by surprise, sinking several of them.

1660 English author John Bunyan was arrested for preaching without a licence. He refused to give up preaching and remained in jail for 12 years.

1684: Birth of Edward Vernon (‘Old Grog’), English admiral.

1847 The first public demonstration of the use of chloroform as an anaesthetic was given by James Simpson, at the University of Edinburgh.

1911 Birth of Reverend Chad Varah, founder of the Samaritans, the voluntary group who counsel those in distress. Originally established at St Stephen’s Church, London, it provides a service day and night, every day of the year. (Reverend Chad Varah died on 8th November 2007, aged 95.)

1912 The remains of English explorer Robert Scott and his companions were found in Antarctica.

1919 The first flight from England to Australia started at Hounslow, with Ross and Smith in a Vickers Vimy. They landed safely on 13th December 1919.

1923: Hitler was arrested after his failed Beer Hall putsch in Munich on the 8th.

1933 The first photograph of the ‘Loch Ness monster’ was taken by Mr Hugh Gray. He managed to take five pictures altogether but after processing, four of them were blank and the fifth was not confirmed as being Nessie. I took a photo of Nessie in 2003 - I'll have to see if I can find it....

1942: Pharmaceutical giant Bayer patented polyurethane.

1944: Lancaster bombers from 617 and 9 Squadrons conducted a precision bombing attack on the German battleship Tirpitz in Tromso Fjiord.  Flying from RAF Lossiemouth, the Lancasters dropped 12,000lb (5,443kg) Tallboy bombs from 14,000 feet (4.2km), scoring at least two direct hits.  These finally achieved the long-sought destruction of Tirpitz - she blew up and capsized.  There is continuing debate to this day between 9 and 617 Squadrons as to which was responsible for the hits.

1954: New York's Ellis Island closes. New York's main immigration point, Ellis Island, shuts its doors after 62 years.

1974 A salmon was caught in the Thames, the first since around 1840. It was an 8lb 4 1/2oz female and she was discovered entangled in the protective nets around West Thurrock power station It was regarded by Thames Water authority as a vindication of the £100m they had spent on effluent control.

1982: Solidarity leader Walesa released. The Polish government frees the leader of the outlawed Solidarity movement, Lech Walesa, after 11 months of internment.

1984 It was announced, by Chancellor Nigel Lawson, that the pound note (in circulation for more than 150 years) would be phased out and replaced with the pound coin.

1997 The so-called 'Great Train Robber', Ronnie Biggs, was celebrating after Brazil's Supreme Court rejected a British request to extradite him, for the second time. The court in Rio de Janeiro ruled that because Biggs' crime was committed more than 20 years ago he could not be extradited under Brazilian law.

2001 Greece held 12 plane-spotting British 'spies' to carry out further inquiries. All were arrested for allegedly taking photographs at an air show at a military base.
30 Mill

1933 The first photograph of the ‘Loch Ness monster’ was taken by Mr Hugh Gray. He managed to take five pictures altogether but after processing, four of them were blank and the fifth was not confirmed as being Nessie

1986 After a big night on the toon, Mr Mill awoke next to Nessie herself, though to be fair, after 8 pints of Tennants Special she did look a whole heap better at 2:00am

November 13th:

1093 Malcolm III of Scotland, son of King Duncan, died at Alnwick, Northumberland, during his fifth attempt to invade England.

1312 Birth of Edward III, King of England from 1327. He invaded Scotland and was soundly beaten at Bannockburn.

1687 Nell Gwyn, actress and one of Charles II's 13 mistresses, died aged 37.

1850 Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish author of Treasure Island, Kidnapped and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, was born.

1887 'Bloody Sunday' in London when violence erupted in Trafalgar Square at a Socialist rally attended by Irish agitators.

1907: The first helicopter rose 6 feet above ground in a field in Normandy powered by two motor-driven propellers above the pilot.

1916 The Battle of the Somme (World War 1) ended. By the end of the battle, the British Army had suffered 420,000 casualties including nearly 60,000 on the first day alone. The French lost 200,000 men and the Germans nearly 500,000. The battle epitomised the futility of trench warfare and the indiscriminate slaughter of so many men.

1916: Nineteen year-old Private Cunningham of the East Yorkshire Regiment was a member of bomb section (armed with large quantities of grenades) during a trench attack.  Every other member of his section was killed or wounded, but Cunningham patiently collected all their grenades, and continued the attack alone, successfully clearing the trench of defenders.  He received the Victoria Cross (VC).

1936 King Edward VIII told Prime Minister Baldwin that he intended to marry twice divorced Mrs, Simpson.

1940: Walt Disney’s Fantasia opened in New York.

1941: HMS Ark Royal, so often claimed by Goebbels to have been sunk, was finally hit by torpedoes from U-81 off Gibraltar.  Efforts to save her proved fruitless, and she eventually sank on 14 November. On hearing the news the people of Leeds immediately set about raising funds to build a replacement.

1947 Chancellor of the Exchequer, Hugh Dalton, resigned after admitting he had disclosed tax proposals to a reporter several minutes before presenting his Budget speech.

1965: Warrant Officer Wheatley won the first of four Australian Victoria Crosses during the Vietnam War.  A member of the Australian Army Training Team supporting the ARVN, he insisted on staying behind to defend a wounded comrade when their position at Tra Bong was overwhelmed.  He was killed conducting a lone defence against heavy odds.

1969 Britain's first live quintuplets this century were born at Queen Charlotte's maternity hospital in London.

1978: A Sea Harrier made its first successful deck landing on HMS Hermes.

1979 The Times newspaper was published for the first time in nearly a year. The paper's disappearance from news stands followed a dispute between management and unions over manning levels and the introduction of new technology.

1987 With a view to encouraging 'safe sex', or AIDS prevention, the BBC screened its first condom 'commercial' (without a brand name).

1995 18 year Leah Betts was on a life-support machine after taking a single ecstasy tablet at her 18th birthday party. She died three days later without ever regaining consciousness.

November 14th:

1582 English playwright William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway.

1770: Scottish explorer James Bruce discovered the source of the Blue Nile in north-east Ethiopia, which was then considered the main stream of the Nile.

1896 The speed limit for horseless carriages in Britain was raised from 4 mph (2 mph in towns) to 14 mph. It was marked by the first London to Brighton Car Run, which only became a regular and official event from 1927, when it was sponsored by the Daily Sketch.

1889: New York World star female reporter Nellie Bly set sail from New York to beat Phileas Fogg’s 80 days to go around the world as described in Jules Verne’s classic. She filed stories during her travels and ran a competition for readers to guess what her time would be, attracting nearly one million entries. She actually did it in 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes and 14 seconds having travelled by sea, on sampans, on horseback, by rail and road.

1911 George V and Queen Mary landed at Gibraltar, the first time a reigning British monarch had visited a British Commonwealth country.

1922 BBC radio was first broadcast from Alexandra Palace. The first programme was broadcast at 6 pm from 2LO London (later the BBC). A news bulletin, repeated again at 9 pm, and a weather report were the entire programme.

1940 In one raid, 449 German Luftwaffe bombers dropped 503 tons of bombs and 881 incendiaries onto the City of Coventry, killing over 500 civilians and destroying the medieval cathedral. A new cathedral was built, adjacent to the old, and the bombed cathedral was left as a memorial.

1941 The British aircraft carrier Ark Royal sank off Gibraltar after being hit by a torpedo from German U-boat, the U-81.

1948 Birth of Prince Charles (Charles Philip Arthur George), Prince of Wales and an enthusiastic and concerned environmentalist.

1952 Britain’s first music chart was published, in the New Musical Express, with Al Martino’s ‘Here in my Heart’ at No. 1 and Vera Lynn in at 7, 8 and 10.

1969 The BBC began colour television programmes.

1973 Bobby Moore made his 108th and final appearance for England.

1973 Princess Anne married Captain Mark Phillips at Westminster Abbey.

1977 Firefighters claimed widespread support for their first national strike, over a 30% pay demand. More than 10,000 troops were called in to cover emergencies.

1983 The first Cruise missiles arrived at Greenham Common, a US airbase.

2000: Fuel protesters rally for tax cut. Convoys of lorries and tractors have converged on London and Edinburgh to mark the 60-day deadline for government action to cut fuel tax.

November 15th: The Feast Day of Albert the Great, patron saint of medical technicians. Albert was a pioneer of books for students of natural sciences.

1577 English explorer and navigator Sir Francis Drake began his voyage to sail around the world.

1708 William Pitt the Elder, 1st Earl of Chatham and British Prime Minister, was born.

1897: Birth of Aneurin Bevan, British Labour politician, son of a miner, who was the architect of the National Health Service.

1899 The SS St. Paul became the first ship to receive radio messages, transmitted from the Needles wireless station off the Isle of Wight.

1918: Victory Day in Britain following the end of the First World War.

1899 Winston Churchill was captured by the Boers while covering the war as a reporter for the Morning Post. He escaped a few weeks later.

1922 Children's Hour was first broadcast on the radio. It established a tradition of drama and story-telling and built up a devoted audience of over three million at its peak.

1923: Rampant inflation in Germany reached a peak this day when the mark (4.2 to $1 in 1914) had risen to 4,200,000,000 to $1.

1940: Germans bomb Coventry to destruction. The German Luftwaffe bombs Coventry overnight in a massive raid leaving much of the city devastated.

1942: Church bells -silent since June 1940, reserved for use as an invasion alarm - were rung in the UK as a celebration of victory at El Alamein.

1956: Love Me Tender, Elvis Presley’s first film, was premiered in New York. It recouped its production costs after three days.

1968 The liner Queen Elizabeth completed her final passenger voyage when she landed at Southampton. She was sold to a US group who planned to moor her in Florida as a tourist attraction. She was replaced by the new liner the QE2.

1969 ATV (Midland) screened the first colour television commercial in Britain. It was for Birds Eye Peas and cost just £23 for the off peak 30 second slot.

1977 The birth of Peter Phillips, son of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips.

1985 Britain and the Republic of Ireland signed a deal giving Dublin a role in Northern Ireland for the first time in more than 60 years. Unionists accused Mrs. Thatcher of treachery.

1991 In the wake of increased sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, Britain called up 1,400 reserve troops for full-time active duty.

1994 The launch of Britain's first Internet newspaper, The Electronic Telegraph.

1998 Britain and America called back their fighter planes after Iraq agreed to allow UN weapons inspectors back into the country.

2002 Moors murderer Myra Hindley, the woman who came to personify evil , died in prison, aged 60.

November 16th:

42 BC: Birth of Tiberius Claudius Nero, second emperor of Rome, succeeding Augustus in AD 14, who improved and strengthened the principate, but was depicted as cruel and perverted by historians.

1724 Jack Sheppard, Stepney born highwayman, was hanged at Tyburn in front of 200,000 spectators.

1811 John Bright, son of a Quaker cotton spinner, was born in Rochdale, Lancashire. He achieved fame as an English statesman, as MP for Durham and Scumchester and as a great reformer and orator.

1824: Australian explorer Hamilton Hume discovered the Murray River, the longest in Australia, 1,609 miles (2,589 km).

1848 Frédéric Chopin gave his last public performance at London’s Guildhall. He played on, despite illness and an uninterested audience who spent most of the evening in the refreshment areas.

1869: The formal opening of the Suez Canal took place. It had taken ten years to make the 100-mile canal devised by Ferdinand de Lesseps. He celebrated his 64th birthday three days later. In 1974, the Suez Canal was reopened following its closure in the 1967 Suez conflict.

1896 Birth of Oswald Mosley, English politician who was successively a Conservative and Labour Member of Parliament before forming the British Union of Fascists. Provocative marches through the Jewish East End of London prior to the Second World War led to major confrontations. He was interned during the war and later lived in exile in France.

1915: Private Caffrey of the York & Lancaster Regiment left the safety of his trench, accompanied by a corporal from the Royal Army Medical Corps, to rescue a wounded man lying in No Man's Land.  Spotted by the Germans, their first attempt was driven back by an artillery bombardment.  At the second attempt, they reached the wounded man, and bandaged his wounds.  But as they were lifting him, the RAMC corporal fell with a serious head wound.  On his own, Caffrey bandaged him in turn and got him back to the British lines.  He then braved enemy fire a third time to successfully rescue, at last, the original wounded colleague.  Caffrey received the Victoria Cross.

1928 In London, obscenity charges were brought against Radclyffe Hall for her crusading lesbian novel The Well of Loneliness.

1938 Willie Hall of Tottenham Hotspurs scored five goals for England against Ireland with his three goals in 3 minutes, setting a record for the fastest ever in an international match.

1942 Willie Carson, English jockey, was born.

1960 The TV personality with a reputation for outspokenness, Gilbert Harding, died as he left the BBC's Broadcasting House in London.

1961 Frank Bruno, British boxer, was born.

1976 Seven men who took part in an £8m bank robbery raid at the Bank of America in Mayfair, London, received jail terms totalling nearly 100 years. Only £1/2m was recovered. The judge said the sentence ensured that the thieves would not enjoy the fruits of their haul.

1983 More than 20 English football supporters were arrested in Luxembourg after a night of violence.

1995 The Queen Mother, aged 95, had her right hip replaced in an operation in London.

November 17th: The Feast Day of Hilda, patron saint of business and professional women.

1558 Mary I, England's first queen (also known as 'Bloody Mary'), died at St James's Palace London. She was succeeded by Elizabeth I.

1603 The trial of Sir Walter Raleigh began. Falsely accused of treason, he had been offered a large sum of money by Lord Cobham, a critic of England’s King James I, to make peace with the Spanish and put Arabella Stuart, James’s cousin, on the throne. Raleigh claimed he turned down the offer, but Lord Cobham told his accusers that Raleigh was involved in the plot.

1800: The US Congress met for the first time and John Adams became the first President to move into the Executive Mansion (later renamed the White House).

1849: As part of the Royal Navy's campaign to suppress the slave trade, Castor and Dee sent a landing party in boats up the river at Porto de Angoche in Mozambique to destroy a slave ship and slaving centre.

1869 England’s James Moore won the first cycle road race, an 83 miles race from Paris to Rouen.

1880 The first three women to graduate in Britain received their Bachelor of Arts degrees at London University.

1882 The Royal Astronomer witnessed an unidentified flying object from the Greenwich Observatory. He described it as a circular object, glowing bright green.

1887 The birth of Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, English soldier who was a painstaking planner, which contributed to his most successful battle in North Africa when he broke through Rommel’s lines during the Second World War. ‘Monty’ was also a superb communicator, which assured his popularity with his men.

1917: Royal Navy and German light forces clashed off Heligoland.  Ordinary Seaman Carless of HMS Caledon was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for continuing to man his gun and tend to the wounded despite being himself mortally wounded.

1922 Britain elected its first Communist Member of Parliament, J T Walton-Newbold standing for Motherwell, Scotland. He eventually joined the Labour Party.

1941: British Commandos led by Lieutenant Colonel Keyes attacked a house at Beda Littoria in Libya, believed to be the headquarters of General Rommel, commander of the Afrika Korps.  The Commandos had been landed by submarine three days before, and had approached the location through difficult terrain.  Keyes went forward with two men, and successfully overcame a sentry.  Bursting into the building, they killed the occupants of the first room they entered, but Keyes was then shot dead as he attacked the next room.  It later emerged that Rommel was in Rome at the time.  Although the raid was failure, Keyes was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

1945 H J Wilson of the RAF set a new world air speed record 606 mph in Gloster Meteor IV.

1955 Anglesey became the first authority in Britain to introduce fluoride into the water supply.

1959 Two Scottish airports, Prestwick and Renfrew, became the first to offer duty free goods in Britain. London Heathrow followed soon after.

1964 Britain said that it was banning all arms exports to South Africa.

1970 Stephanie Rahn became the Sun newspaper's first 'Page Three Girl'.  Cool

1986: French car chief shot dead. The head of the Renault car company, Georges Besse, is assassinated outside his home in Paris.

2003: Washington sniper convicted. An ex-soldier who served in the Gulf War is found guilty of at least one of the Washington sniper killings in October 2002.

November 18th:

9: Birth of Vespasian (Titus Flavius Vespasianus), Roman emperor who consolidated the empire, directed the pacification of Wales and northern Britain and established extensive sales and excise taxes, including one on public urinals.

1477 Caxton’s book, the Dictes or Sayengis of the Philosophres, was published. It was the first printed book in England bearing a date.

1626: St Peter’s in Rome was consecrated.

1836 Sir W.S. Gilbert, who collaborated with Sir Arthur Sullivan to produce light operas, was born.

1852 The state funeral of the Duke of Wellington took place at St Paul’s Cathedral. It was one of the biggest ever held in London.

1906 Birth of Sir Alec Issigonis, born in Turkey of a Bavarian mother and a Greek father. He came to Britain in 1922 and made his way slowly in the motor industry, designing the Morris Minor in 1948, the first British car to sell more than a million. In 1959 he had his greatest triumph when he unveiled the Mini Minor which ten years later became the first British car to sell over two million.

1910 More than 100 were arrested by police when suffragettes tried to storm the House of Commons at Westminster, London.

1916 General Douglas Haig called off the first Battle of the Somme in Europe after five months of futile battle, which included the first use of tanks. The Allied advance of just 125 square miles claimed 420,000 British and 195,000 French casualties. German losses were over 650,000.

1928: The first Mickey Mouse cartoon, Steamboat Willie, was screened in the US. It was the first experimental sound cartoon and, although not strictly the first Mickey cartoon, it was the first with his amended name.

1942: Australian troops captured Popondetta in New Guinea, just north of the Owen Stanley mountains, to provide an important base to liberate the rest of the island.

1963: Bell Telephone introduced push button telephones.

1967 A ban on the movement of farm animals across the whole of England and Wales came into effect at midnight, in a bid to curb the spread of foot and mouth disease.

1978: In Guyana, a US sect led by the ‘Reverend’ Jim Lloyd murdered three visiting newsmen and a US congressman who had come to investigate the movement. Lloyd then ordered his 900 men, women and children to commit mass suicide by drinking a soft drink laced with cyanide. It was probably the largest mass suicide in modern times.

1983 The world's first all-girl sextuplets were born, to Mrs. Janet Walton at Liverpool Maternity Hospital. They were named Hannah, Lucy, Ruth, Sarah, Kate and Jenny.

1987 The worst fire in the history of the London Underground killed 30 people. The blaze began in the machinery below a wooden escalator in King’s Cross Underground station and soon filled the tunnels with dense, choking smoke and intense heat.

1991 Church envoy Terry Waite was freed by the Islamic extremists who kidnapped him in Beirut in 1987.

2000: Hollywood meets Wales in 'wedding of year'. The film world celebrates the celebrity wedding of the year as film star Michael Douglas marries Welsh actress Catherine Zeta Jones.

2003 The US President, George W. Bush, made a state visit to Britain amid the tightest security London had ever seen.

November 19th:

1600 Birth of Charles I, King of England and Scotland who believed that the king ruled by Divine Right, until his action in dissolving Parliament led to the civil war with Cromwell and his eventual execution.

1620 The ship Mayflower arrived at Cape Cod, America. Its 87 passengers were members of a Protestant sect, known as The Pilgrim Fathers.

1805: Birth of Vicomte Ferdinand de Lesseps, French diplomat and engineer who supervised the construction of the Suez Canal 1859-69. He was to be responsible for the construction of the Panama Canal but was prosecuted for embezzling funds.

1850 Lord Tennyson became Poet Laureate.

1863: President Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg address after the American Civil War with the immortal phrase ‘...that government by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth’.

1915: During a raid on Ferrijik railway station in Bulgaria, a Royal Naval Air Service aircraft of 3 Squadron was shot down.  Its pilot managed to make a safe landing, and set fire to his aircraft.  Squadron Commander Bell-Davies saw that Bulgarian troops were closing in on the pilot, and brought his Nieuport aircraft in to land beside the wreck.  The pilot scrambled aboard, and Bell-Davies just managed to take off as the troops opened fire.  Bell-Davies was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC).
In France, Corporal Meekosha (of Polish extraction) was serving with the West Yorkshire Regiment near the Yser.  A heavy German bombardment killed or wounded most of his platoon, and largely buried the rest.  Meekosha sent for help whilst almost single-handedly digging out the victims, despite the continuing ferocity of the barrage - shells falling within twenty yards (18m) of him - and being highly visible from the German positions.  He saved at least four lives, and was awarded the Victoria Cross.  An extremely modest man, he changed his surname when serving as a major during the Second World War, to avoid being identified as a hero.

1941: HMAS Sydney was sunk with all hands when she investigated a suspicious vessel off West Australia - the ship proved to be the disguised German raider Kormoran.  Kormoran was also sunk in the fierce engagement, but over 300 of her crew survived.  Speculation continues as to how Sydney, which had enjoyed a distinguished career in the Mediterranean against the Germans and Italians, was destroyed so effectively by the weaker vessel.

1947 Prince Phillip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, was created Duke of Edinburgh.

1949 Dennis Taylor, Irish snooker player, was born.

1951 The white football became official.

1960 The first VTOL (vertical take off and landing) aircraft made by the British Hawker Siddeley Company was flown for the first time.

1960: Pélé scored his 1,000th goal with a penalty while playing for Santos in his 909th first class match.

1967 The Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, stood by his decision to devalue the pound saying it would tackle the 'root cause' of Britain's economic problems. The Bank of England spent £200m in a single day trying to shore up the pound from its gold and dollar reserves.

1987 A 1931 Bugatti Royale was sold for £5.5 million at an auction at the Royal Albert Hall, a record at that time for a car.

1996 A fire broke out in the Channel Tunnel, injuring 34 people and disrupting rail services.

1976 Basil Spence, the British architect who designed Coventry Cathedral, died.

1994 Britain's first National Lottery draw. It had a jackpot of £7M and was shown live on BBC television.

1997 Police confiscated indecent videos and pictures of children in a series of raids on the homes and offices of British pop star Gary Glitter. Exactly six years later, American pop star Michael Jackson was arrested in California on charges of child molestation.

November 20th:

868 St. Edmund, Saxon king of East Anglia, was martyred by the Vikings, who tied him to a tree, shot at him with arrows, then beheaded him. His bodied is enshrined at Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk.

1759: Admiral Sir Edward Hawke won his great victory at Quiberon Bay.  Bad weather had forced Hawke to suspend his blockade of the French fleet under the Comte de Conflans in Brest.  Conflans seized the chance to put to sea to rendezvous with an invasion fleet assembling in Quiberon Bay.  Hawke pursued, but Conflans hoped that, without local knowledge, he would not dare to follow him in amidst the treacherous rocks of the Bay during a gale.  Hawke followed him, trusting in the seamanship of his crews.  A ferocious action was fought in appalling conditions, with collision between ships proving particularly common.  Two Royal Navy ships - Essex and Resolution - were wrecked on the Four Shoal, but eleven of the French fleet of 21 were captured or sunk.

1787 Birth of Sir Samuel Cunard, a ship owner born in Nova Scotia who came to Britain in 1838 and, together with two partners, established what became the Cunard Line in 1839. Their first ship, the Britannia, set sail the following year taking 14 days and 8 hours to cross the Atlantic.

1906 Charles Stewart Rolls and Frederick Henry Royce formed Rolls-Royce. On this day in 1931, the company bought up Bentley Motors. While many refer to them as "Rolls", those in the know call then "Royce" as he was the engineer.

1908 Birth of Alistair Cooke, British-born US-based broadcaster and journalist who began his famous commentaries, Letters from America, in 1938.

1929: Salvador Dalí’s first one-man show was held in Paris.

1942: The desperate situation on Malta, where the daily ration had fallen to starvation level, was finally ameliorated by the successful arrival of a convoy under Operation Stone Age, delivering vital food supplies to Grand Harbour.  The four merchantmen reached the port safely, although one of their escorts, the cruiser HMS Arethusa, had been severely damaged by a torpedo bomber.

1944 World War II: The end of the 'blackout' in London. After five years in the dark, the lights were switched back on in Piccadilly Circus, the Strand and in Fleet Street.

1945: Nuremberg trial of Nazis begins. Twenty of Germany's Nazi leaders go on trial in Nuremberg charged with war crimes.

1947 Princess Elizabeth (Queen Elizabeth II) married Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten (Duke of Edinburgh) at Westminster Abbey. The BBC made the first tele-recording of the event, which was broadcast in the US 32 hours later.

1951 Snowdonia in Wales was designated a National Park. It was the third area to be designated 'National Park', the first being the Peak District. It's widely recognised that the two best National Parks in the UK are the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors National Parks.

1970 The ten-shilling note (50p) was officially withdrawn by the Bank of England.

1975: Spanish dictator Franco dies. Hopes for democracy run high as Prince Juan Carlos prepares to take the reins of power following the death of General Franco.

1979 Anthony Blunt, the Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures, was stripped of his knighthood after admitting to being a spy for Russia, thereby exposed as the Fourth Man in the Burgess, Maclean and Philby spy scandal.

1984: British Telecom shares went on sale and were oversubscribed several times over.

1990 Margaret Thatcher failed by four votes, to gain outright victory over Michael Heseltine, for leadership of the Conservative Party.

1992 Fire severely damaged the 'Brunswick Tower', at Windsor Castle.

1995: Diana admits adultery in TV interview. Diana Princess of Wales speaks openly for the first time about her separation from the Prince of Wales in a frank interview for BBC Television.

November 21st:

1695 The death of Henry Purcell, English composer and organist.

1783: Man’s first free-flight was made by Jean de Rosier and the Marquis d’Arlandes in the Montgolfier brothers’ hot-air balloon. They rose 500 feet above Paris and after 25 minutes, landed a few miles south.

1831: Michael Faraday read his first series of papers at the Royal Society in London on ‘Experimental Research into Electricity’.

1840 Victoria Adelaide Marie Louise, Princess Royal and first child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, was born.

1843 Thomas Hancock patented vulcanized rubber. In 1825 he had produced the first toy balloons in Britain, consisting of a bottle of rubber solution and a condensing syringe.

1918 At the end of World War I, the German Fleet was surrendered to Britain at its northern naval base at Scapa Flow.

1920 The Irish Republican Army shot and killed 14 British soldiers in what became known as the country's first 'Bloody Sunday'.

1922 Ramsay MacDonald was elected leader of the Labour Party.

1936 The world's first gardening programme, 'In Your Garden, with Mr. Middleton', was broadcast by the BBC.

1941: During Operation Crusader, a major British offensive in the Western Desert aimed at relieving Tobruk, fierce fighting centred around the Axis positions at Sidi Rezegh.  A British infantry attack on an airfield was pinned down by heavy fire - Rifleman Beeley charged with a Bren Gun and wiped out the crews of an anti-tank gun and two machine-guns.  He was killed, but his unit took their objective.  Brigadier Campbell, commanding the artillery of 7th Armoured Division, distinguished himself, ignoring enemy fire whilst directing on foot the defence against heavy counter-attacks.  He twice helped man guns when crew members fell casualty, and refused to be evacuated when himself wounded.  Some sixty Axis tanks attacked a position defended by four light anti-tank guns commanded by 2nd Lieutenant Gunn.  Three of the guns were knocked out, and all but one of the crew members of the last gun were killed or wounded, and its portee vehicle, loaded with ammunition, set on fire.  Gunn himself manned this last gun and managed to fire fifty rounds and destroy two tanks before he was killed.  Beeley, Campbell and Gunn were awarded the Victoria Cross.

1953: The discovery of ‘The Piltdown Man’ skull by Charles Dawson in Sussex in 1912 was finally revealed as a hoax.

1958 Work began on the Forth Road Bridge in Scotland. It was the longest suspension bridge outside the United States and the fourth-largest in the world at the time of its construction. It was awarded Historic Scotland's Category A, listed structure status in 2001.

1967 The number of animals slaughtered in the latest epidemic of foot and mouth disease reached a record high of 134,000.

1974 The IRA exploded two bombs in two Birmingham Pubs, killing 19 people and injuring 180 others.

1994 Princess Anne left England for a 7 day tour of South Africa and Mozambique. It was the first official visit to South Africa by a member of the Royal Family for 50 years.

2001 UK pop mogul Jonathan King was jailed for seven years for sex attacks on five boys.

2003 An acoustic guitar on which the late Beatle George Harrison learned to play, fetched £276,000 at a London auction.

November 22nd: The feast day of Cecilia, the patron saint of music, singers and poets.

1718: Lieutenant Maynard of the Royal Navy finally ended the career of the notorious pirate Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, killing him in an epic hand-to-hand fight at Ocracoke, North Carolina.

1764 History credits James Hargreaves with inventing the first Spinning Jenny, but it had been designed and built years before by an obscure artisan from Leigh called Thomas Highs.

1774 Robert Clive, English soldier often referred to as 'Clive of India', died, possibly from an overdose of opium. It may have been suicide, but suicide was regarded as a sin, and if this had been admitted by his family he would not have been allowed a church burial. As it is, his grave was unmarked and remains so.

1808 Birth of Thomas Cook, the English travel agent. He began his pioneering tour business, Thomas Cook & Son, when he organized the first publicly advertised railway excursion to a temperance meeting on 5 July 1841.

1830: Container transport was introduced by Pickford’s by agreement with the Liverpool & Scumchester Railway Company.

1869 The launch of the English sailing ship the Cutty Sark.

1940: Lieutenant Commander Ouvry and Chief Petty Officer Baldwin made their way out across mudflats in the Thames estuary to a German mine of a previously unseen type, lying exposed at low tide having been dropped by the Luftwaffe the night before.  Working quite literally against the clock to defuse the weapon and recover it before the tide rose or a ticking timing device exploded the weapon, they managed to remove two detonators, make it safe and drag it to shore.  The mine proved to be of a new magnetic type that had already caused severe damage to British shipping.  Its recovery allowed detailed analysis at HMS Vernon, the RN's school of torpedoes and mines, and suitable countermeasures were rapidly introduced.

1946 The first Biro ballpoint pen went on sale, invented by Hungarian Laszlo Biro and manufactured by a British company.

1963: Kennedy shot dead in Dallas. The president of the United States has been assassinated by a gunman in Dallas, Texas.

1971 Five teenagers, all from Ainslie Park School in Edinburgh, and their female instructor died in one of Scotland's worst mountaineering accidents.

1977 The world's first supersonic airliner, Concorde, was given permission to fly into New York's Kennedy Airport following an agreement over noise levels.

1986: Mike Tyson, at age 20, became the youngest ever world heavyweight boxing champion when he beat Trevor Berbick in Las Vegas in just two rounds.

1990 Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister since 1979, announced her resignation.

1995 Britain's most prolific female serial killer, Rosemary West, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of 10 young women and girls.

1997 Michael Hutchence, the lead singer of Australian rock band INXS and partner of British television star Paula Yates, was found dead in a hotel in Sydney.

2003 England's rugby team won the World Cup, beating Australia 20-17 in a nail biting final in Sydney.  Cool
30 Mill

Where thee be???

30 Mill wrote:
Where thee be???

Sorry mate - panic stations here tonight.  Mad

November 23rd:

1670: The first performance in Paris of Molière’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme.

1804: Birth of Franklin Pierce, 14th US President from 1852 who was nominated as a compromise candidate. He retired from active politics in 1857 when his unpopular actions lit a long fuse which would set off the Civil War.

1852: The first pillar boxes were erected in St Helier, in the Channel Islands where, according to a Post Office surveyor sent over to inspect postal facilities, ‘there were no receiving offices for people in the distant parts of the town’. The surveyor later became famous as the novelist, Anthony Trollope.

1859: Birth of Billy the Kid (William H Bonney), US outlaw who was the legendary gang leader in the Lincoln County cattle war in New Mexico. He murdered a sheriff, was sentenced to death, escaped killing two guards, and was eventually shot by Sheriff Pat Garrett, but not before the 22-year-old psychopath had murdered 21 people, the first when he was only 12 years old.

1869: Birth of Valdemar Poulsen, Danish engineer who invented the tape recorder which he patented on 1 December 1898. He was unable to find backers in Europe and finally took his invention to the US, but the device, which recorded on piano wire, had limited application.

1889: The first juke box was installed in Palais Royal Saloon in San Francisco.

1901: An Australian officer, Lieutenant Maygar of the 5th Victorian Mounted Rifles, saw that an outpost was in danger of being outflanked by Boer troops, and galloped forward to order them to withdraw.  As the men withdrew under heavy fire, one of their horses was shot, and its rider fell.  Maygar went to his aid, and pulled him up behind his saddle, but his horse then bolted onto boggy ground.  It being clear that the horse could not carry both of them on that ground, and the pair still coming under continual fire, Maygar gave up his horse to the other soldier, ordering him to gallop for cover as fast as possible, then made his own way back to safety on foot.  He was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC).

1915: ‘Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag’, the famous First World War song, was published, music by Felix Powell and words by George Asaf, who were really two brothers from Wales.

1939: The German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau attempted to break out into the Atlantic to raid convoys.  In the Iceland-Faeroes Gap, they encountered the armed merchant cruiser, HMS Rawalpindi.  Commanded by Captain Kennedy, she was a P&O merchant ship converted for patrol duties.  Although only armed with 6" guns, she nevertheless attacked the Scharnhorst.  Although inevitably sunk, Rawalpindi inflicted damage on the battlecruiser which forced her and Gneisenau to retire to port.

1941: At Tobruk, Captain Gardner of the Royal Tank Regiment led a sortie by two tanks to rescue a pair of armoured cars which had been knocked out on patrol.  Whilst the other tank gave covering fire, Gardner dismounted and connected a tow rope to one of the armoured cars.  He then lifted into it an officer from the patrol who had lost both his legs.  However, when his tank attempted to tow the car back, the tow rope parted.  Still under fire, Gardner once more dismounted, rescued the wounded officer from the vehicle and carried him to one of the tanks.  The tanks then retreated back to the British lines safely, despite a heavy barrage of fire.  Gardner was awarded the Victoria Cross.

1963: The first episode of the BBC TV serial Dr Who was screened in Britain. The first Dr Who was played by William Hartnell, and Ann Ford was his first female companion. The producer, Sydney Newman, thought the Daleks, designed by Ray Cusick, were ‘bug-eyed monsters’ and totally wrong for the series.

1988: The grand sumo champion Chionofuji became only the fifth sumo wrestler in recorded history to win 50 matches in a row. Known as the Wolf, his name will be carved into a cenotaph.

November 24th:

1776: The first St Leger horserace took place at Doncaster.

1831 Michael Faraday read his first series of papers at the Royal Society in London on ‘Experimental Research into Electricity’.

1815 Birth of Grace Darling, an English lighthouse keeper’s daughter from the Longstone Lighthouse, who rowed out to rescue survivors of the Forfarshire off and became a national heroine. She died of consumption (TB), aged 26. The Grace Darling memorial is within St. Aidan’s churchyard, Bamburgh, Northumberland.

1859 Charles Darwin published his controversial and groundbreaking scientific work 'The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection'.

1914: At Festubert in France, German troops dug a trench or sap towards British lines held by Prince Albert Victor's Own Poona Horse.  Lieutenant de Pass entered the sap and despite German grenades, managed to destroy a traverse in the sap, hindering the German approach.  He later left the safety of the trenches to rescue a wounded man lying in the open.  When the Germans once more attempted to reuse the sap, he again went forward to stop them, but this time was killed.  He was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross (VC).

1939 Imperial Airways and British Airways merged to become BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation), which later merged with British European Airways and returned to one of the previous names, British Airways.

1943: In New Guinea, troops of 9th Australian Division were engaged in a campaign centred on the key strategic position of Sattelberg, a hill and town dominating the Huon peninsula.  2/48th Battalion made a push to take Sattelberg on 24 November, but after two hours heavy fighting to no gain, the lead company was ordered to disengage.  Sergeant Derrick, however, remained behind and conducted a lone attack on the hill.  Making extensive use of grenades, he methodically attacked positions and eventually so demoralised the Japanese defenders that they fled.  His single-handed action transformed the situation and the battalion was able to take the town of Sattelberg the following day.  Derrick received the Victoria Cross in recognition of his outstanding achievement.

1951 Austin and Morris Motors agreed to merge.

1960: Launch at Newport, Virginia, of the USS Enterprise, the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

1962 ' That Was the Week That Was' went out live from the BBC, introduced by a new presenter, David Frost, and with some material written by an equally unknown John Cleese.

1963: Kennedy 'assassin' murdered. Lee Harvey Oswald, the man accused of murdering President Kennedy, is himself shot dead in a Dallas police station.

1972 One of only eight 1933 pennies minted was auctioned at Sotherbys for £7,000.

1974 Police charged 6 men in connection with the Birmingham pub bombings 3 days previously.

1985: Commandoes storm hijacked plane. The hijacking of an EgyptAir passenger jet ends in violence and further bloodshed after the plane is stormed by Egyptian commandoes.

1987 Free eye tests were abolished by the Conservative government.

1991 Freddie Mercury, English rock singer, died at the age of 45, just one day after he publicly announced that he was HIV positive.

1993 The last 14 bottles of Scotch whisky salvaged from the SS Politician, wrecked in 1941 and the inspiration of the book and film, Whisky Galore, were sold at auction for £11,462. If you've never seen the film, do watch it next time it's on the telly. It's a cinematic great.

2005 New laws came in force in England and Wales allowing 'round-the-clock drinking'. Another of B-liar and Browns roaring successes.

November 25th: Some biblical scholars claim this was the day in 2348 BC when the Flood began.

1120 Henry I's only legitimate son, William, was drowned when the ship carrying him from Normandy to England sank off Barfleur. This set up a conflict for the English crown between Stephen and Henry's daughter, Matilda.

1823 The first pleasure pier, The Chain Pier at Brighton, opened. It closed in 1896 and was destroyed in a storm in the same year.

1835 Birth of Andrew Carnegie, Scottish-born US industrialist and philanthropist who rose from telegraph boy to iron and steel multimillionaire. He devoted his vast wealth to libraries and universities including the Carnegie Hall in New York which opened in 1891.

1844: Birth of Karl Friedrich Benz, German engineer and motor car pioneer who built the world’s first practical internal-combustion vehicle in 1885, patented the following year. In 1926, his company merged with Daimler.

1896 William Marshall became the first person in Britain to receive a parking summons after leaving his car in Tokenhouse Yard in the City of London, but the case was dismissed.

1932 British Equity, the actors' union, voted for a 'closed shop' to begin operating in 1933.

1937 An inter-regional spelling competition became the first British quiz programme to be broadcast.

1940: The De Havilland DH98 Mosquito prototype made its first flight at Hatfield.  Constructed of wood, and relying entirely on high speed and altitude to protect it rather than armament, it was a radical departure from conventional design wisdom.  The "Wooden Wonder" proved one of the most successful aircraft of the war, excelling in bomber, night-fighter, intruder, fighter-bomber and reconnaissance roles.

1941: The battleship HMS Barham, veteran of Jutland, was sunk off the North African coast by U-331.
Ashore, Captain Jackman of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers distinguished himself in an attack near Tobruk.  Commanding a motorised machine-gun company, he ignored heavy fire to manoeuvre his troops into position to suppress anti-tank guns which were holding up the advance, standing up unprotected in his vehicle to direct operations.  He was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC).

1952 The play, The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie, opened in London, at the Ambassador's Theatre where it remained for 21 years. By Saturday 12th April 1958 it had become the longest running production of any kind in the history of British Theatre.

1953 Hungary, led by their talented footballer Ferenc Pushkas, beat England 6-3 at Wembley to become the first foreign team to achieve an away win at Wembley.

1969 John Lennon returned his MBE in protest against British involvement in Biafra and British support of US involvement in Vietnam.

1981 The inquiry into the Brixton riots in April blamed serious social and economic problems affecting Britain's cities.

1984 Band Aid rock stars gathered at Sarm Studios in London to record 'Do They Know It's Christmas', to aid famine relief in Ethiopia.

1991 Winston Silcott became the first of the 'Tottenham Three', convicted for the 1985 killing of a policeman in Tottenham, North London, to have his conviction overturned.

November 26th:

1703 The day of 'The Great Storm', in which 8,000 people died. Henry Winstanley, the engineer who built the first Eddystone lighthouse, was among those who died when it was destroyed in the storm.

1810: Birth of William George Armstrong (Baron Armstrong), English inventor of hydraulic equipment, originally for military use, but which led to the development of the first hydraulic crane.

1864 Oxford professor Charles Dodgson presented a little girl called Alice Liddell with a story she had inspired him to write. It was called Alice in Wonderland and was written under the pen name of Lewis Carroll.

1867 Mrs. Lily Maxwell of Scumchester became the first ever woman to vote in a British election, due to a mistake in the electoral register. She had to be escorted to the polling station by a bodyguard to protect her from those opposed to women’s suffrage.

1908 Birth of Lord Forte (Charles Forte), British business magnate and Chairman of Trusthouse Forte, one of the largest hotel and restaurant groups in the world.

1914: The battleship HMS Bulwark was destroyed by an internal explosion whilst moored at Sheerness, with the loss of 730 crew, faulty ammunition was probably to blame.  The Protection of Military Remains Act was passed in 1986, but its application to wrecks and sea graves has not previously been enforced.  Following extensive consultation with both veterans' associations and the diving community, it was announced in the House of Commons on 9 November 2001 that some wrecks were to be designated Controlled Sites, with all diving prohibited without a specific licence, or Protected Places, where diving will be permitted but on a strict "Do Not Touch" basis.  HMS Bulwark was included in the list of sixteen wrecks to be designated as Controlled Sites.

1922 Howard Carter and the Earl of Carnarvon, Carter’s sponsor, became the first men to see inside the tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamun near Luxor since it was sealed 3,000 years previously. Having escaped detection by tomb robbers, it was complete with gold statues and a gold throne inlaid with gems.

1928: The first twins delivered by Caesarean section in Britain were born in a Scumchester hospital to a mother who was hunchbacked.

1942: The Soviet forces counterattacked at Stalingrad, ending the siege and forcing General von Paulus’s Sixth Army to retreat.

1953 Peers backed the Government's proposals for commercial television.

1968 The new Race Relations Act made it illegal to refuse housing, employment or public services to people because of their ethnic background.

1983 The Brinks Mat security warehouse at London’s Heathrow Airport was robbed of £25 million worth of gold bars weighing three tons.

1987 Drawings of English bank notes by US artist James Boggs were declared works of art and not illegal replicas of UK currency by an Old Bailey jury.

1988 Mrs. Rita Lockett of Torquay, Devon, spent £10,000 to repeat her daughter’s wedding two months after the event, because she did not like the video. The couple went through the reception with all 200 wedding guests wearing the same outfits and having to listen to the same speeches, this time with a professional video crew on hand.

1992 It was announced that as from 1993 the Queen would make arrangements to pay income tax, the first British monarch to do so since the 1930s.

November 27th:

1582 William Shakespeare, aged 18, married Anne Hathaway. They had a daughter in 1583 and a twin boy and girl in 1585. The boy died aged 11.

1874 The birth of Chaim (Azriel) Weizmann, first president of Israel, who was a chemistry professor in Geneva where he became active in the World Zionist Movement. After settling in Britain in 1904 he assisted the British munitions industry during the First World War when he devised a way of extracting acetone (needed for cordite) from maize. In return, the British government promised to help his cause and establish a Jewish state in Palestine.

1894: Birth of Konosuke Matsushita, Japanese industrialist who founded the Matsushita Electric Industrial Company in 1918 which later made products under the Panasonic name.

1914 Miss Mary Allen and Miss E F Harburn became the first two trained policewomen to be granted official status in Britain when they reported for duty at Grantham, Lincolnshire.

1916: Zeppelin LZ78 was shot down off Hartlepool. It is not known if there were any monkeys onboard at the time.

1925 Ernie Wise, 'straight man' to comedian Eric Morecambe, was born.

1940: Force H, commanded by Vice Admiral Sir James Somerville, was providing cover for a convoy sailing from Gibraltar to Alexandria when the Italian Navy dispatched a powerful force (including 2 battleships and seven heavy cruisers).  Although outnumbered, Somerville intercepted the Italians off Cape Spartivento, Sardinia, with the battlecruiser Renown, the carrier Ark Royal, and five cruisers.  One cruiser, HMS Berwick, suffered damage in the ensuing action, but the Italians abandoned the operation and the convoy got through safely.

1944 Between 3,500 and 4,000 tons of explosives stored in a cavern beneath Staffordshire detonated, killing 68 people and wiping out an entire farm. The explosion was heard over 100 miles away in London, and recorded as an earthquake in Geneva.

1961: RAF flies aid to flood-stricken Somalia. The Royal Air Force begins airlifts of supplies to the desperate flood victims in Somalia.

1967 President de Gaulle said ‘Non’ to British entry into the Common Market.

1975 Ross McWhirter, TV presenter and co-editor of The Guinness Book of Records, was assassinated by two Provisional IRA gunmen after he had offered a £50,000 reward for information leading to a conviction for several high-profile bombings.

1976 The four millionth 'Mini' car left the production line.

1987 A young man in Somerset tried seven times to kill himself following a row with his girlfriend. He threw himself in front of four cars, and jumped under the wheels of a lorry. He tried to strangle himself and jumped from a window. The real victims were a driver of one car who suffered a heart attack, a policeman who injured his back trying to restrain the man, and a doctor who was kicked in the face when the struggling man reached hospital.

1990 John Major won his second ballot for leadership of the Conservative Party and became Prime Minister. (Mrs. Thatcher had resigned as Prime Minister 5 days previously.)

2000 A 10-year-old schoolboy, Damilola Taylor, died after being stabbed in the leg by a gang of hooded attackers near his home in Peckham, south London.

November 28th:

1628 John Bunyan, author of 'The Pilgrims Progress', was born.

1660 The Royal Society, an organization dedicated to promoting excellence in science, was founded.

1765: Birth of Captain George Manby, English inventor of lifesaving equipment which he developed while barrack-master at Yarmouth.

1837: Birth of John Wesley Hyatt, US inventor who discovered a process for making celluloid while trying to find a substitute for ivory billiard balls.

1904: Australia elected the first Labour Prime Minister, but John Christian Watson lasted only four months.

1905 The Irish political party Sinn Fein was founded by Arthur Griffith in Dublin.

1914: During the operations against German colonial forces in Tanganyika, Commander Ritchie, of the battleship HMS Goliath, took a pinnace and a pair of other small boats into Dar-es-Salaam harbour to demolish the port installations.  The boats came under heavy fire, and Ritchie was wounded eight times in the space of twenty minutes.  However, he continued to direct operations until he eventually lost consciousness from loss of blood.  The harbour was wrecked and three German ships disabled.  Ritchie was awarded the Victoria Cross.

1919 Nancy Astor became Britain's first woman MP, holding a safe Plymouth seat for the Conservative Party in a by-election caused by her husband's elevation to the peerage.

1924: The skull of a fossil child from Taung, near Kimberley in the northern Cape Province, was identified by Professor Raymond Dart, Australian anthropologist, as a ‘southern African ape with a brain size capable of human intelligence’, thereby establishing the missing evolutionary link between ape and man which Darwin had predicted.

1935 The Miles quadruplets (Ann, Ernest, Michael and Paul) were born in Cambridgeshire and were the first British quads to survive infancy.

1942: RAF Bomber Command raided Turin, flying across France and the Alps to reach its target.  Flight Sergeant Middleton, RAAF, was the pilot of a Stirling bomber from 149 Squadron which was badly damaged by anti-aircraft fire.  One shell burst hit the cockpit.  Middleton lost an eye, and the co-pilot and wireless operator were both wounded.  Nevertheless, Middleton continued to fly the aircraft to its target, where the bombs were successfully dropped, then managed to nurse the Stirling back over the Alps and return to the UK.  Losing fuel, he ordered his crew to bail out over the English coast.  He then appeared to turn the aircraft away from land to avoid the risk of the aircraft crashing into habitation: he did not survive.  He was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

1948: Dr Edwin Land’s first Polaroid cameras went on sale in Boston. Readers wives followed shortly after... Wink

1968 Enid Blyton, English children's book author, died.

1967 All horse racing in Britain was suspended 'indefinitely' to help prevent the spread of foot-and-mouth disease.

1971 An English farmer uncovered a major immigrant smuggling operation when he rammed a plane which had landed at a disused airfield on his farm in Kimbolton, 10 miles from Huntingdon. The pilot escaped but police officers arrived soon after the incident and detained the five occupants of the plane.

1990 Margaret Thatcher made her last speech outside 10 Downing Street following her resignation as Prime Minister.

1993 The Northern Ireland peace process and Prime Minister John Major's credibility were dealt a blow when secret government contacts with the IRA were publicly disclosed.

1997 A large majority of MPs in the House of Commons approved a Private Member's Bill, introduced by Labour MP Michael Foster, to ban fox hunting.

1999 Eleven people were injured when a nude swordsman attacked churchgoers at St. Andrew's Roman Catholic Church in south London.

November 29th:

1530 Thomas Wolsey, English Cardinal and Lord Chancellor, died en route from York to his imprisonment in the Tower of London.

1849 Sir John Ambrose Fleming, English electrical engineer, was born. His inventions included the Fleming Valve and many related devices that led to the development of modern electronics.

1864: A black day in US history. Several hundred Cheyenne and some Arapaho Indians who had surrendered to the US, had been given permission to camp at Sand Creek, Colorado Territory while negotiating a peace formula. Their chief, Black Kettle, had agreed to the disarming of their troops. Colonel John M Chivington with 1,200 troops mounted a surprise attack on the camp, and despite Black Kettle hoisting aloft the US flag and a white flag, the troops shot dead 400 men, women and children and set off the Arapaho-Cheyenne war.

1898 C.S. Lewis, author of the Narnia Chronicles, was born.

1907 British nurse Florence Nightingale, aged 87, was presented with the Order of Merit by Edward VII for her work tending the wounded during the Crimean War.

1934 In Britain, the first live radio broadcast of a royal wedding - the marriage of the Duke of Kent to Princess Marina at Westminster Abbey in London.

1940: Lieutenant Newgass, RNVR, was called to defuse a large parachute mine, dropped during a devastating Luftwaffe raid on Liverpool, which had penetrated the roof of a gasometer at Garston Gasworks.  If the weapon had exploded, it would have destroyed the entire gasworks and caused immense devastation in the surrounding area.  Newgass was lowered into the gasometer wearing breathing apparatus six times, and despite working under the most difficult and dangerous of circumstances - in the dark, in a couple of feet (0.6m) of water, and surrounded by explosive gas - eventually managed to make the weapon safe.  He was awarded the George Cross (GC) for his extraordinary heroism.

1945: The Royal Navy conducted its first helicopter air-sea rescue operation, using an early Sikorsky R-5.

1947 The UN approved Britain's plan for a partition of Palestine.

1956 Panic-buying broke out at garages across the country as the government gave details of its petrol rationing plans. Petrol had been in short supply since the President of Egypt, Gamal Abdul Nasser, took over the running of the Suez Canal four months previously.

1962 Britain and France announced a joint agreement to design and build Concord, the world's first supersonic airliner.

1963 The Beatles record I Want To Hold Your Hand was released, with advance orders of one million in the UK alone.

1965 Housewife Mary Whitehouse began her Clean Up TV Campaign by setting up the National Viewers and Listeners' Association to tackle 'bad taste and irresponsibility'.

1975 British racing driver Graham Hill was killed in an aircraft crash at Arkley, Hertfordshire.

1995 On his historic visit to Britain, US President Bill Clinton praised British Prime Minister John Major and Irish Prime Minister John Bruton for their joint efforts to bring peace in Northern Ireland.

2001 George Harrison, former member of the Beatles died, aged 58.

November 30th: St Andrew’s Day. He is the patron saint of Scotland, also of golfers and fishermen.

1840: Napoleon I’s remains were returned from St Helena to Paris.

1872 The first football match between England and Scotland took place in Glasgow. It ended in a 0-0 draw.

1874 Birth of Sir Winston Leonard Churchill, British statesman, journalist, historian and Nobel prize-winner for literature. He was a descendant of the great Duke of Marlborough, and was born born in Blenheim Palace. The great wartime Prime Minister, with his highly quotable speeches, was considered by many as ‘the greatest living Englishman’.

1913 Charlie Chaplin made his film debut without the moustache and cane in 'Making a Living'.

1931: HMV (His Master’s Voice) and Columbia Records merged to form EMI (Electrical and Musical Industries).

1936 The Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire. The spectacular blaze was seen miles away. Designed by Sir Joseph Paxton, it was originally erected in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition in 1851.

1944 HMS Vanguard, Britain’s largest, and last ever battleship, was launched at Clydebank.

1950: 41 Commando Royal Marines, fighting alongside 1st US Marine Division, distinguished itself at the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir in Korea.  It was awarded a US Presidential Unit Citation.

1954: Winston Churchill turns 80. The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, celebrates his 80th birthday in a day of ceremonies and tributes to his remarkable career.

1955 Floodlights were used for the first time at Wembley Stadium, during an international game with Spain.

1960 Gary Lineker, footballer, and former England captain, was born. Despite his long career, Lineker was never cautioned by a referee for foul play, a feat equalled only by Billy Wright, John Charles and Sir Stanley Matthews, although none of those players subsequently made a career hawking crisps.

1968 The Trade Descriptions Act came into force making it a crime for a trader to knowingly sell an item with a misleading label or description.

1982 A letter bomb exploded inside No. 10, Downing Street, injuring a member of staff. The package was sent by animal rights activists. Margaret Thatcher was at home when the device exploded but she was not hurt in the blast.

1983 Seaweed contaminated by heavy radioactivity was discovered in Cumbria, near the Sellafield nuclear plant.

1987 At Christie's auctioneers in London, a painting by Edgar Degas, 'The Laundry Maids', was sold for £7.48 million.

1994: Blazing liner abandoned off east Africa. Almost 1,000 people are forced to abandon the Achille Lauro in the Indian Ocean after it catches fire.

1999: T-bone steaks on sale by Christmas. The ban on beef on the bone is to be lifted next month, with T-bone steaks and ribs of beef back on sale for the first tmie in two years.

December 1st:

1135 England's King Henry I died. He had fallen ill seven days earlier after eating too many lampreys (jawless fish resembling eels). He was 66, and had ruled for 35 years.

1581 Edward Campion (later St. Edward) and three other Jesuits were martyred. He was tried on a charge of treason for promoting Catholicism and was hanged in London.

1588: The first attempt to organise welfare provision for Royal Navy seamen was established - the Chatham Chest.  Contributions were deducted from sailors' pay and placed in the chest, which had five different locks, the keys being held by five officers in a (not very successful) attempt to avoid corruption, with sums disbursed to seamen in distressed circumstances.

1761 Birth of Madame Marie Tussaud (Grosholz), Swiss-born French waxworks modeller. During the French Revolution she made death masks from the severed heads of the famous. In 1800, separated from her husband, she toured Britain with her waxworks, eventually setting up a permanent exhibition in London.

1868 The opening of London's Smithfield meat market.

1887 Beeton’s Christmas Annual went on sale, with 'A Study in Scarlet' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which first introduced the detective, Sherlock Holmes.

1895 Henry Williamson, author of the classic book 'Tarka The Otter', was born.

1942 The Beveridge Report, written by Sir William Beveridge, proposed a welfare state for Britain, offering care to all from the cradle to the grave. Shame it would be abused to buggery by people who see "Shameless" as role models.

1951: Twelve Meteors of 77 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, successfully engaged 40-50 Chinese MiG-15 fighters in Korea, over Sunchon; a rare air-to-air combat, and the largest, for 77 Squadron, which was normally employed on ground support operations.

1955: Black woman challenges race law. A black woman is arrested by police in Montgomery, Alabama, after refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white person.

1965 The Government put forward a plan to improve the lot of both farmers and consumers by encouraging intensive farming.

1966 Britain issued its first special edition Christmas stamps. In 2006 the stamps were heavily criticized as they depicted no Christian images on any of the Christmas stamps.

1969 A statue of former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill was unveiled in the House of Commons.

1987 The Department of Trade inspectors were ordered into the giant Guinness company to investigate allegations of misconduct which ended up with four arrests being made, including the chairman Ernest Saunders. Guinness shares plunged by £300m.

1990 Britain and France were joined for the first time in thousands of years as the last wall of rock separating two halves of the Channel Tunnel was removed

December 2nd:

1697: The rebuilt St Paul’s Cathedral, the work of Sir Christopher Wren, was opened.

1804: Napoleon was crowned Emperor in Paris by Pope Pius VII. On this day, one year later in 1805, Napoleon defeated the Austro-Russian force at the Battle of Austerlitz.

1823: US President James Monroe’s Monroe Doctrine was proclaimed, opposing foreign, especially European, interference and involvement in US policies.

1878: British troops, advancing into Afghanistan during the Second Afghan War, encountered stiff resistance at Peiwar Kotal.  During the action, Captain Cook, 5th Gurkha Rifles, won the Victoria Cross (VC) during fierce hand-to-hand fighting.  The Afghan defenders were outflanked, and the pass forced.

1891: During the Hunza-Nagar Expedition on the North-West Frontier, intended to eliminate raids and banditry by the tribesmen, Colonel Durand led Kashmiri troops against the fort at Nilt.  Captain Aylmer of the Royal Engineers went forward to blow up the fort's gates, armed only with a revolver.  He succeeded in his task, but was severely wounded in the process.  Lieutenant Boisragen, serving with the 5th Gurkha Rifles, led the assault, and the fort was duly captured.  Both officers were awarded the Victoria Cross.

1901: In the US King Camp Gillette marketed a safety razor he patented in 1897. It had a double edged disposable blade.

1907: English footballers formed the Professional Footballer’s Association.

1942: At the University of Chicago, the world’s first nuclear chain reaction took place as the first atomic pile began operating under the direction of physicists Enrico Fermi and Arthur Compton.

1942: A Royal Navy force of three cruisers and two destroyers caught an Axis convoy laden with reinforcements including tanks headed for North Africa at night.  RAF aircraft dropped illumination flares, and radar-controlled gunnery proved devastating, sinking the four ships in the convoy plus its escort.

1943: Ernest Bevin announced that 10% of conscripts aged under 25 would be diverted to serve not in the Armed Forces, but in the mining industry, following a serious loss in coal production; the so-called "Bevin Boys". They would include Jimmy Saville in their number.

1982: The first artificial heart was fitted, to dentist Dr Barney B Clark, at the University of Utah Medical Center, Salt Lake City. He died the following March.

1981: Colonel ‘Mad Mike’ Hoare and his 44 mercenaries posing as the Froth Blowers Club found their frothy cover blown soon after landing in the Seychelles and had to shoot their way out of the airport lounge, hijack an Air India plane and make the pilot fly them to South Africa where they had originally been sponsored to fly over and topple the Seychelles government. The Froth Blowers were arrested by South African officials.

December 3rd:

1795 Sir Roland Hill, postal pioneer and founder of the 'Penny Post' was born.

1810: Troops under Major General Abercromby captured the Ile de France - modern-day Mauritius - having been landed by a powerful Royal Navy force.

1820 Thomas Beecham, English manufacturer and inventor of Beecham's pills, was born.

1836 Three people were killed at Great Corby, near Carlisle in Cumbria, in the first fatal railway derailment.

1894 Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish novelist of Treasure Island, Kidnapped and Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, died, aged 45 on the island of Samoa.

1910: Neon lighting, developed by French physicist George Claude, was displayed for the first time at the Paris Motor Show.

1926 In an episode as puzzling and intriguing as any in her many novels, Agatha Christie disappeared from her Surrey home and was discovered on the 14th December staying under an assumed name at the Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate. She said she had no recollection of how she came to be in Yorkshire. Fans of Doctor Who know though... Shocked

1936 The Royal Family cancelled all engagements as news broke of Edward VIII's determination to marry divorcee Wallis Simpson.

1942 One of the most remarkable RAF sorties of the war was flown by a Wellington Mk Ic of 1474 Flight - the RAF's specialist radar counter-measures unit.

1944 Britain 'stood down' the Home Guard - formed in 1939 to defend Britain from invasion by Germany. They were officially disbanded in December 1945.

1945: A jet aircraft landed aboard an aircraft carrier for the first time.  Lieutenant Commander Brown landed a Sea Vampire aboard HMS Ocean in the English Channel.

1961 The whole of south East England was plunged into darkness for two hours, due to an error by an electrician.

1963 The launch of Britain's second nuclear submarine, HMS Valiant.

1965: White jury convicts Ku Klux Klansmen. For the first time an all-white jury convicts members of the KKK over the murder of a white civil rights activist Viola Liuzzo.

1967: At Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, Dr Christiaan Barnard carried out the world’s first heart transplant. The heart of the first donor came from Denise Darvall, a 25-year-old bank clerk who was found dying after a road accident and agreed to give her heart to a 53-year-old grocer, Louis Washansky. He died 18 days later as a result of tissue rejection.

1977 Wings started a nine week run at No.1 with Mull of Kintyre. It was the first single to sell over 2 million in the UK.

1984 British Telecom was privatised. The shares immediately made massive gains.

1984: Hundreds die in Bhopal chemical accident. A dense cloud of lethal gas escapes from a chemical factory in the central Indian city of Bhopal, killing hundreds of people.

1988 Health minister Edwina Currie provoked outrage by saying that most of Britain's egg production was infected with the salmonella bacteria.

1992 Two bombs exploded in the centre of Scumchester injuring 65 people. Miraculously no-one was killed, but much of the city centre had to be rebuilt.

December 4th: One-time Feast Day of Barbara, patron saint of artillery and miners. Her heathen father is said to have beheaded her for her faith and was immediately struck by lightning and died.

1154 The only Englishman to become a pope, Nicholas Breakspear, became Adrian IV.

1586 Queen Elizabeth I conferred the death sentence on Mary Queen of Scots after discovering a plot to assassinate her and bring about a Roman Catholic uprising.

1791 The Observer, Britain’s oldest Sunday newspaper, was first published.

1798 British Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger announced the introduction of Income Tax to help finance the war against France.

1865 Birth of Edith Cavell at Swardeston ( 4 miles south of Norwich). An English nurse in Brussels 1914-15, she was accused of helping Allied soldiers escape occupied Belgium over the Dutch border and was executed by the Germans. There is a statue of her outside Norwich Cathedral.

1872 Crew from the British brigantine Die Gratia boarded a deserted ship drifting in mid Atlantic. The captain's table was set for a meal aboard the US ship Marie Celeste but the Captain, crew and passengers were all missing.

1892: Birth of General Francisco Franco (Bahamonde), Spanish dictator who was formerly the Chief of Staff of the Spanish Army before being demoted to Governor of the Canary Islands and then dismissed by the Republican government. With German and Italian assistance, he initiated the Civil War and in 1939 became the head of a Fascist government.

1930 Ronnie Corbett, comedian partnered with Ronnie Barker, was born.

1937 The first issue of the Dandy comic. With a fan club of over 350,000, Desperate Dan proved a durable character. A copy of this first edition is worth between £850 and £1,000.

1941: The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, announced the call-up of unmarried women aged 20-30 to serve in the women's branches of the Armed Forces, or the police and fire services.  Exemptions were made for single mothers, full-time carers, and conscientious objectors.

1942: Wing Commander Malcolm led the Bristol Bisley aircraft of 18 Squadron RAF in a low-level bombing raid on a fighter base at Chougui, Tunisia.  Unescorted, the formation was intercepted by a large number of fighters, but Malcolm pressed his attack home.  He was shot down and killed.  He received a posthumous Victoria Cross (VC).  

1948 George Orwell completed the final draft of the book Nineteen Eighty Four which was published on 8th June 1949.

1952 At least 4,000 people died in a week, from breathing difficulties, during a severe London smog.

1961 Birth control pills became available on the NHS.

1976 Benjamin Britten, considered to be Britain's leading composer, died aged 63. He had been fighting ill health after a heart operation in 1973. His Memorial Window is in Aldeburgh Parish Church, Suffolk.

1983: IRA gunmen shot dead in SAS ambush. SAS soldiers involved in an undercover operation in Northern Ireland have shot dead two IRA gunmen and injured a third man who escaped. He is being sought by police following the incident which took place a few miles from Coalisland, an area of County Tyrone known for IRA activity.

1997 Europe's health ministers voted to ban tobacco advertising throughout the European Union although they agreed that motor-racing, which relied heavily on sponsorship and advertising by tobacco companies, should be exempt for another 8 years.

December 5th:

1578: Francis Drake plundered Valparaiso in Chile during his round-the-world expedition in Golden Hind.

1697 The first Sunday service was held in the new St Paul's Cathedral, London.

1766 James Christie, the founder of the famous auctioneers, held his first sale in London.

1839 The postage rate in Britain was changed to a standard charge of 4d (4 old pence) a half ounce instead of being charged by distance.

1839: Birth of George Armstrong Custer, US cavalry commander famous for his ‘last stand’. He attacked Sitting Bull’s Sioux and Cheyenne Indian encampment on the Little Bighorn River in Montana and all 250 of his men were killed, because he failed to wait for reinforcements to arrive. He had previously been court martialled for leaving his fort without a commander to go off and visit his wife.

1863 The rules of Association Football were published.

1872: The Marie Celeste was found abandoned, drifting in the Atlantic with a cargo of alcohol. The captain, Benjamin Briggs, and his crew were never heard of again.

1899 The death of Lancashire businessman and philanthropist Henry Tate (sugar refining and the Tate Gallery)

1905 The roof of Charring Cross Railway Station in London collapsed, killing five people.

1913 Britain forbade the selling of arms to Ireland.

1928 England beat Australia by a record 675 runs in the Test at Brisbane.

1933: Prohibition ended after 14 years in the US.

1944: The capabilities of Bomber Command's ever improving electronic navigation and bombing aids were demonstrated when 94 Lancasters of 5 Group conducted a devastating blind attack on Hamm, bombing through thick cloud.  All of the Lancasters returned safely.  During the night, a further 497 Bomber Command aircraft attacked Soest, successfully targeting the area of the railway yards.  Two Halifax aircraft failed to return.

1945: Five US Navy bombers took off from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on a training flight. Contact was lost and an aircraft was sent to look for them. It too lost contact and no trace of any of the aircraft or their 27 crew members was ever found in the area which became known as the Bermuda Triangle.

1950: Commonwealth naval forces took the lead in the evacuation of US and South Korean troops from Chinnampo.  The cruiser HMS Ceylon, with three Canadian and two Australian destroyers escorted to safety transports carrying nearly 8,000 troops, with air cover provided by the carrier HMS Theseus.

1956 Miss Rose Heilbron QC was appointed Recorder of Burnley to become Britain’s first woman judge.

1958 The Queen dialled Edinburgh from Bristol to inaugurate the first direct dialled trunk call (STD).

1958 Prime Minister Harold Macmillan opened the Preston bypass in Lancashire, the first stretch of motorway in Britain.

1973 During a petrol shortage, the government imposed a 50mph speed limit to save fuel.

1989 Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher defeated Sir Anthony Meyer in the first challenge to her leadership of the Conservative Party.

1991 Robert Maxwell's business empire collapsed with huge debts of more than £1bn and revelations about misappropriation of money in pension funds.

1993 The record, by Mr Blobby, a pink-and-yellow spotted BBC television star, reached number one in the charts.

December 6th: The Feast day of Nicholas, patron saint of children, popularly known as Santa Claus. The name is a phonetic alteration from the German Sankt Niklaus and the Dutch Sinterklaas.

1421 Henry VI, youngest King of England to accede the throne (at 296 days), was born.

1642: Colonel Ruthven, the energetic Parliamentarian commander of a mercenary Scots garrison in Plymouth, launched a daring pre-emptive raid on Royalist forces gathering at Modbury.  He scattered the new recruits and captured the High Sheriff of Devon, before getting away safely back to his base. Further north in Yorkshire, the Royalist Earl of Newcastle attacked Lord Ferdinando Fairfax and his son Sir Thomas at Tadcaster.  Newcastle conducted a series of probing attacks to try to pin the Parliamentarians in place whilst a detachment under the Earl of Newport sought to take them from the rear, marching via Wetherby.  However, Newport was unable to arrive before dark, and during the night, the Fairfaxes pulled their men out of Tadcaster and retreated to Selby.

1732 Birth of Warren Hastings, first Governor General of Bengal who established the foundations of British administration in India. He was impeached for corruption on his return to England in 1785, but was later acquitted.

1877: Thomas Alva Edison recited ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ into his Phonograph and made the world’s first recording of the human voice.

1897 The world's first fleet of motorised taxi cabs started operating in London.

1906 Britain granted self-government to the Transvaal and the Orange River Colonies in southern Africa.

1916 David Lloyd George became Prime Minister.

1921 Irish independence was granted for the 26 southern states that became known as the Irish Free State. Six counties which formed Ulster (Northern Ireland) remained as part of the UK.

1941: HMS Perseus, a submarine based in Alexandria, hit an Italian mine off Cephalonia whilst returning from patrol, and sank, coming to rest on the bottom at a depth of 170 feet (52m).  Five men survived in an aft compartment.  Faced with the daunting prospect of escape, they consumed a bottle of rum.  Leading Stoker Capes and another man then attempted to escape, but sadly only Capes made it to the surface, with a broken pelvis.  Despite his injuries, he managed to swim seven miles (11.2km) to Cephalonia, where he was found and sheltered by the Greek Resistance.  After eighteen months, they succeeded in smuggling him to safety in neutral Turkey.

1942: 2 Group of Bomber Command mounted a large-scale low-level raid on the Philips electronics factories in Eindhoven.  The factories were a key supplier of components for the Germans, and thus judged worth the high risks that the bomber crews would face - Eindhoven's distance from the Dutch coast meant that they would have to attack without fighter escort.  47 Ventura, 36 Boston and 10 Mosquito aircraft took part.  Most of the bombing proved very accurate, and production was disrupted for six months.  Sadly, some bombs did fall astray, causing 148 Dutch fatalities.  The price for the attackers also proved high - 15% were shot down (9 Venturas, 4 Bostons and 1 Mosquito) with another three damaged aircraft crashing in the UK on their return.

1962: Choking fog spreads across Britain. Emergency services are on standby at every London hospital as thick fog continues to affect public health.

1963 English call-girl Christine Keeler, one of the models named in the scandal involving British Secretary of State for War John Profumo, was jailed for 9 months for perjury arising from the trial of an ex-boyfriend.

1975 The Balcombe Street siege in Central London was watched by millions on television. It ended when the four IRA gunmen, who had taken a couple hostage following a gun battle and chase, finally gave themselves up without a shot being fired.

1983 Surgeons successfully completed the first heart and lung transplant operation to be performed in Britain. Swedish journalist, Lars Ljungberg underwent the transplant, receiving the organs of a woman from the south of England who had died the previous day.

1994 The Queen gave the go ahead for oil drilling to take place in the grounds of Windsor Castle. The move came after studies showed there could be up to £1bn of oil lying beneath the castle.

2005 David Cameron beat David Davis to the leadership of the Conservative Party.

December 7th:

1315: Edward Bruce's Scots army, triumphant in its sweep across Ireland, faced at Kells the last significant English field force, commanded by Sir Roger Mortimer, Lord of Wigmore.  Mortimer appears to have been betrayed during the battle by two of his vassals, Hugh and Walter de Lacey, and the result was the destruction of his force and the burning of the town.  Mortimer broke out with a small force and escaped to England; he was to return the following year at the head of a royal army, destroy the Scots' hold on Ireland, and seek personal vengeance on the de Lacey brothers.

1732: The first Covent Garden Opera House, then called the Theatre Royal, opened in London.

1783: William Pitt the Younger, aged 24, became the youngest British Prime Minister.

1787: Delaware became the first US state.

1889: The first performance at the Savoy of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers, their last real success.

1907: Eugene Corri became the first referee to officiate inside a boxing ring at the Tommy Burns - Gunner Moir fight at the National Sporting Club, London.

1916: David Lloyd George became Prime Minister of a British coalition government.

1924: Birth of Dr Mario Soares, President of Portugal, who lived in exile during the period of dictatorship, but returned in 1974. He was elected Prime Minister in 1976, and President in 1986.

1928: Birth of Professor Noam (Avrom) Chomsky, US linguist who revolutionized the study of linguistics. He also became well known for his opposition to US involvement in Vietnam.

1941: Japanese troops landed at Kota Bharu in Malaya, the first attack in their "drive south". Two hours later the Japanese attacked the US fleet in Pearl Harbor. Without any official declaration of war, they sank or damaged five battleships, 14 smaller warships, 200 aircraft and killed 2,400 people.

1942: Ten men from the Royal Marines Boom Patrol Detachment set out in five canoes from the submarine HMS Tuna off the Gironde, planning to paddle 80 miles (128.7km) up the river to attack German shipping in Bordeaux; Operation Frankton.  Heavy seas claimed two canoes and their occupants, and a third was swept off course.  Five nights later, the two surviving canoes reached their target on 12 December.

1972: The US launched Apollo 17 on its way to make the sixth landing on the moon.

1982: Charles Brooks Jr, a prisoner on death row at Fort Worth Prison, Texas, was executed by being given a lethal injection, the first to die by this method in the US.

1988: A severe earthquake hit Armenia, killing thousands and causing widespread destruction.

December 8th:

1542 The birth of Mary Queen of Scots, Scottish Queen who ascended to the throne aged seven. A rebellion led to her abdication and later Elizabeth I imprisoned her for the plot to restore the Roman Catholic religion and to take the throne from her.

1841 Prince Albert Edward, later King Edward VII, became the Prince of Wales.

1863 The world’s first heavyweight boxing championship took place at Woodhurst, Kent, between Tom King (England) and John C Heenan (US). King was the champion.

1854: Pope Pius IX declared the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary to be an article of faith.

1864 The Clifton Suspension Bridge over the River Avon at Bristol, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was opened.

1914: Following the disaster at Coronel on 1 November, a powerful taskforce under Vice Admiral Sir Doveton Sturdee, including the battlecruisers HMS Invincible and HMS Inflexible, was dispatched to hunt down the Graf von Spee's Asiatic Squadron.  Sturdee's ships were re-coaling at Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands when von Spee's squadron came into sight, planning a raid on the British facilities there.  However, von Spee hesitated, probably upon seeing the distinctive tripod masts of the battlecruisers in the harbour.  Furthermore, the elderly battleship HMS Canopus, which had been deliberately run aground by her captain to act as a harbour defence ship, opened fire, scoring a direct hit on Gneisenau with her first salvo.  The hit did little damage since the shell was an inert practice round - Canopus had been about to start a gunnery training drill.  But the hit may have contributed to von Spee's fatal decision to turn away and run.  Sturdee's ships gave chase, and the advantages in speed and firepower enjoyed by his battlecruisers soon told: this was precisely the type of action for which the much maligned battlecruisers were designed - the destruction of enemy raiders.  Scharnhorst and Gneisenau were destroyed by Invincible and Inflexible, von Spee going down with his flagship, whilst Sturdee's armoured and light cruisers dispatched the rest of the German squadron, only the light cruiser Dresden escaping.  She was eventually tracked down at Juan Fernandez on 14 March 1915, whereupon she scuttled herself.

1941 The US, Britain and Australia declared war on Japan following the Pearl Harbour attack the previous day.

1952 Her Majesty the Queen announced that she would permit her coronation to be televised.

1965 The new Race Relations Act came into force making racial discrimination unlawful in public places.

1980 John Lennon, former member of the Liverpool group The Beatles, was shot dead by Mark David Chapman who opened fire outside the musician's New York apartment.

1981 Arthur Scargill became leader of 'The National Union Of Mineworkers'.

1983 The House of Lords voted in favour of allowing live broadcasts from its chamber.

1988 Scientists at Liverpool University reported they had etched an image of Marilyn Monroe onto an area smaller than a pinhead using a revolutionary new instrument, an ultra-powerful ‘field emission electron microscope’.

1993 Daisy Adams of Church Gresley, Derbyshire, thought to be Britain's oldest person, died aged 113.

1995 Head teacher Philip Lawrence, aged 48, died after being stabbed outside his west London school while protecting a pupil who was being assaulted.

December 9th: The National Day of Tanzania, celebrating its independence in 1961. Originally Tanganyika, it became a republic on the first anniversary of independence, remaining within the Commonwealth and with Julius Nyerere as the first President.

1783: The first executions took place at Newgate Prison.

1868: Gladstone became Prime Minister for the first time. He would win office for three more terms.

1886: Birth of Clarence Birdseye, US inventor of a process to deep-freeze foodstuffs in small packages for retailing, who got the idea from his days as a fur trader in Alaska where he had seen the Inuit do exactly that.

1895: Birth of Dolores Gómez Ibarruri, Spanish politician, known as ‘La Pasionaria’ who won a seat in parliament in 1936. She was a great orator; her passionate speeches against the Fascists, and her cry of ‘They will not pass’ became the battle cry for the Republican soldiers during the Civil War. She eventually fled to Russia, only returning to Spain in 1977.

1902: Birth of Richard Austen (‘Rab’) Butler, progressive British Conservative politician born in India who was Minister of Education, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary but never the role he was most tipped for, that of Prime Minister. Instead he served no less than four Prime Ministers.

1905: Richard Strauss’s opera Salome, based on Oscar Wilde’s play, was first performed at Dresden.

1929: Birth of Bob (Robert) Hawke, elected Prime Minister of Australia in 1983.

1940: At 0300 hrs, the 4th/7th Rajput Regiment commenced a feint attack on the strong eastern defences of the Italian position at Nibeiwa in Egypt, the opening move in Operation Compass.  The operation had been devised by Lieutenant-General Sir Richard O'Connor, commanding the Western Desert Force, as a five-day raid on the massively superior Italian forces in North Africa.
After an hour, the Rajputs broke off their action, and the Italians relaxed, unaware that the other battalions of 11th Indian Brigade - the 2nd Battalion Cameron Highlanders and 1st/6th Rajputana Rifles - had moved up during the night into position to the west behind Nibeiwa, accompanied by 7th Royal Tank Regiment and Royal Horse Artillery guns.  At dawn, the Matilda tanks of 7 RTR led the attack on the western side of Nibeiwa, their armour proving invulnerable to Italian artillery fire.  Together with the infantry, they completely destroyed the Gruppo Maletti based in the camp, a divisional sized formation of light tanks and Libyan infantry, taking 4,000 prisoners despite a desperate defence by the Italians.  British and Indian casualties proved very light.  7 RTR then advanced north to assist 5th Indian Brigade in its assault on a large encampment at Tummar West.  The advantage of surprise had been lost, and the attack was hampered by a midday sandstorm.  The first attack by the Royal Fusiliers was pinned down by enemy fire, but the 3rd/1st Punjabis managed to break through the defences and the camp was taken with a further 2,000 prisoners.  Meanwhile, 4th/6th Rajputana Rifles drove off an Italian relief column of tanks and lorried infantry, inflicting 400 casualties without suffering a single injury themselves.
The following morning saw the surrender of the now dispirited and isolated Italian garrisons of Tummar East and Point 90, while 16th Infantry Brigade advanced north through fog towards the coastal town of Sidi Barrani.  Unfortunately, the fog lifted just as the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders began their assault, and they suffered relatively heavy casualties from Italian artillery.  However, ten Matildas of 7 RTR arrived to support 2nd Battalion The Queen's Regiment in a successful attack on the western end of the defences which culminated in the surrender of the Black Shirt Legion garrison.  Meanwhile, 4th Armoured Brigade, which had been stationed out in the desert guarding the flank of 4th Indian Division's attacks, swung some of its Light and Cruiser tanks east to hit the rear of more Italian troops in coastal positions who had been harried by Selby Force, drawn from the British garrison of Mersa Matruh.
Although 11 December saw 4th Indian Division ordered to redeploy to East Africa, O'Connor continued his attacks with 7th Armoured Brigade and the Support Group of 7th Armoured Division, pushing them north from the desert to cut the coastal road and trap yet more Italian forces.  A squadron of Light Tanks from3rd Hussars was destroyed when they bogged down in a salt marsh, making them easy targets for the Italian artillery.  But other British tanks successfully broke into the defences of 64th Catanzaro Division and routed them.
In just three days, for fewer than 1,000 British and Indian casualties,7th Armoured Division and 4th Indian Division had driven the Italians out of Egypt, taken over 38,000 prisoners and captured 237 artillery pieces, 73 tanks and over 1,000 vehicles, the latter proving invaluable in desert operations where every item of supply, particularly water, had to be delivered by lorry.  7th Armoured Division and 6th Australian Division, arriving to replace the Indians, now prepared to advance into Cyrenaica and attack the 45,000 Italian troops dug in at Bardia.

1941: As the Japanese advanced in Malaya, 62 Squadron RAF based at Butterworth was ordered to mount a bombing raid on troops at Singora.  Squadron Leader Scarf took off in his Blenheim to lead the operation, but at that moment Japanese aircraft swept in and destroyed the remainder of the squadron on the ground before they could get airborne.  Scarf and his crew pressed on alone through fighter attacks to bomb their target, but on the return leg he was badly wounded by another fighter attack.  He managed to land his aircraft safely at Alor Star, but died of his wounds shortly afterwards.  He was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

1942: Australian troops of 21st Brigade liberated Gona on the north coast of Papua following the failure of the Japanese offensive down the Kokoda trail.  Both sides suffered very heavy casualties both in battle and from the oppressive conditions and tropical disease.

1944: A platoon from the Lincolnshire Regiment under Captain Brunt was dug in near Faenza in Italy around a house.  The building was destroyed by mortar fire, and the Germans followed up with a vigorous assault.  Brunt withdrew with the survivors of his unit to a nearby position, and mounted a fierce resistance.  He himself killed some fourteen enemy with a Bren Gun.  Then, running out of ammunition, he took over from casualties first a PIAT anti-tank launcher, then a 2" mortar.  Eventually the German attack was beaten off, and Brunt was able to advance, retake his original position, and rescue his wounded men there.  He was killed in action the following day, and was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously.

1955: Sugar Ray Robinson knocked out Carl Olson to regain his middleweight boxing title.

1960: The first episode of Coronation Street was screened on ITV.

1987: The first martyrs of the ‘intifada’ in the Gaza Strip were created when an Israeli patrol attacked in the Jabaliya refugee camp.
30 Mill

1926 In an episode as puzzling and intriguing as any in her many novels, Agatha Christie disappeared from her Surrey home and was discovered on the 14th December staying under an assumed name at the Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate. She said she had no recollection of how she came to be in Yorkshire. Fans of Doctor Who know though...  

Tell me more....

30 Mill wrote:
1926 In an episode as puzzling and intriguing as any in her many novels, Agatha Christie disappeared from her Surrey home and was discovered on the 14th December staying under an assumed name at the Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate. She said she had no recollection of how she came to be in Yorkshire. Fans of Doctor Who know though...  

Tell me more....

Agatha Christie was helping Doctor Who dispatch some aliens and he then dropped her in harrogate after they'd finished. It must be true, it was on the telly.


December 11th:

1845 The Scottish civil engineer, Robert Thompson, patented pneumatic tyres. Later manufacture had to be by hand and they proved too expensive to be economically viable. That was left to Dunlop in 1888.

1868 Whitaker’s Almanac was published for the first time.

1868 London's first set of traffic lights was installed in Westminster; helping Members of Parliament reach the House of Commons.

1901: The first Nobel prizes were awarded on the anniversary of the death of Nobel.

1903: Madame Marie Curie became the first woman to win the Nobel prize which she shared with her husband Pierre, and Henri Becquerel, for their work on radioactivity.

1907 Author Rudyard Kipling was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. It was the first time it had been bestowed on an English writer.

1917 The first postmark slogan was stamped on envelopes in Britain: ‘Buy British War Bonds Now’.

1919 The Smith brothers (Capt. Ross Smith and Lt. Keith Smith) became the first aviators to fly from Britain to Australia.

1928: Piccadilly Circus Underground station opened.

1941: Force Z, the Royal Navy's main strength in the Far East, under Vice Admiral Sir Tom Phillips, was caught without fighter cover by Imperial Japanese Navy bombers off the east coast of Malaya whilst attempting to interdict Japanese landing forces.  The battleship HMS Prince of Wales and the battlecruiser HMS Repulse both succumbed to multiple torpedo and bomb hits and sank with the loss of 840 men.  Some 2,800 were rescued by escorting destroyers.  Both wrecks have been designated Protected Places.

1979 Twenty year old stuntman Eddie Kidd accomplished a "death-defying" motorcycle leap when he crossed an 80ft gap over a 50ft sheer drop above a viaduct at Maldon, Essex. He jumped the Great Wall of China in 1993, but his career ended after he suffered serious head injuries in 1996 at a Hell's Angels rally in Warwickshire.

1987 Two dangerous prisoners escaped by helicopter from the Gartree maximum security prison in Leicestershire.

1990 The first of the hostages held in the Gulf for four and a half months arrived in Britain, after their release by Saddam Hussein. A total of 100 British hostages were freed and landed at Heathrow airport, with the promise of a further 400 to follow.

1991 The leaders of the 12 EC nations agreed on the treaty of Maastricht, pledging closer political and economic union.

2001 Tony Blair backed Home Secretary David Blunkett over his call for ethnic minority groups to make more effort to fit in with the British identity.

2003 The Court of Appeal quashed the conviction of Angela Cannings, jailed for life for the murder of her two baby sons. She had always maintained that the two boys died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), also known as cot death.
30 Mill

PLUS  Raveys and 30-Mills birthdays!!

December 11th:

1282 The death of the last native Prince of Wales - Llewelyn ap Gruffydd, prince of Gwynedd. The decisive battle during Edward I's invasion of Wales was fought at Orewin Bridge near Builth.  Llewellyn of Gwynedd's men took up a strong defensive position at the bridge, but pro-English Welshmen showed the Marcher Lords Giffard and Mortimer a ford which allowed them to outflank the Welsh troops.  They retreated to a hill, but English archery inflicted heavy casualties and they broke.  Llewellyn had been absent at the beginning of the fight, and rushing to rejoin his men, was killed by a Shropshire soldier, Stephen de Frankton.

1688 James II was forced to abdicate after William of Orange had landed in England on 5th November.

1769: Venetian blinds were patented by Edward Beran of London.

1879: During the Second Afghan War, a number of troopers fell with their horses into a water-filled ditch during fighting at Killa Kazi.  Ignoring heavy fire from tribesmen only a few yards away, the Reverend James Adams, a chaplain, rushed into their aid and waded through the waist-deep water to rescue men trapped under their horses, having to let his own horse go to free his hands for the work.  He and the men made their way to safety on foot.  The Reverend Adams was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC).

1882: Birth of Fiorello Henry La Guardia, three times mayor of New York, who fought corruption and did much to improve the city. Known as Little Flower, he was a colourful, legendary character whose actions ranged from providing a Jewish police escort for a visiting Nazi delegation and reading the comic strips on radio during a newspaper strike. He was later the subject of the hit musical, Fiorello.

1894: In Paris, the first motor show opened. There were nine exhibitors.

1903 The first wildlife preservation society was formed in Britain to protect fauna. It was called the Society for the Preservation of Wild Fauna of the Empire.

1914 The Royal Flying Corps, which later became the RAF, adopted the red, white and blue roundel to identify its aircraft more easily during World War I.

1936 After ruling for less than one year, Edward VIII becomes the first English monarch to voluntarily abdicate the throne. Edward planned to marry divorcee Mrs. Wallis Simpson and, before he left for France, he made a final radio broadcast to the nation. He was succeeded by his brother, George, who became George VI.

1941: Germany and Italy declare war on US. Hitler and Mussolini announce they are at war with America which retaliates with its own declaration of war on "the forces of savagery and barbarism".

1952 Derek Bentley, aged 19, and 16 year old Christopher Craig, were found guilty of the murder of a policeman in south London. Because of his age, Craig was sentenced to be detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure, while Bentley, who did not fire the gun, was sentenced to hang. Despite a public outcry, the sentence was carried out on 27th January 1953.

1962: During the Brunei Revolt, rebels led by Salleh bin Sambas had murdered a number of Government officials at Bangar and Limbang, and threatened to kill the British resident, Mr Morris, and his wife, as well as several other hostages in Limbang.  L Company of 42 Commando Royal Marines, commanded by Captain Jeremy Moore, was tasked with their rescue.  Lacking reliable intelligence on rebel numbers, and with a timely rescue of the hostages paramount, Moore elected to mount a direct assault, using two river lighters operated by Royal Navy crews.  The two vessels came under heavy machine-gun fire as they rounded the river bend at Limbang, but the Royal Marines managed to land and secure the town despite fierce resistance.  The hostages were safely rescued.  Five Royal Marines were killed, and a number of Marines and Royal Navy lighter crewmen were wounded.  Over the next couple of days, the remainder of 42 Commando cleared Bangar and forced the rebels to flee up-river.

1967 Concord, the world's first supersonic airliner, was rolled out of its hangar for public viewing for the first time.

1975 An Icelandic gunboat opened fire on unarmed British fishery support vessels in the North Atlantic Sea, heightening the 'Cod War'.

1979 Rhodesia reverted to British rule after Parliament passed a bill to end 14 years of illegal independence from Britain.

1986 Church leaders condemned a radio campaign about Aids for 'condoning promiscuity'.

1987 Charlie Chaplin’s famous cane and bowler were sold at Christie’s in London. His cane went for £82,500 and his boots for £38,500.

2001: 30,000 postal jobs 'to be cut'. Up to 30,000 Post Office workers could lose their jobs over the next 18 months, Consignia, the company which runs the service, has announced

2005 A huge fire continued to burn at Buncefield oil depot near Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire. It was the largest of its kind in peacetime Europe and the noise of the explosions could be heard as far away as the Netherlands.

December 12th:

The National Day of Kenya marking its independence, with Jomo Kenyatta as the first Prime Minister, in 1963. He became President when Kenya became a republic in 1964.

1724: Birth of Admiral Samuel Hood, first Viscount, British naval commander and one of the most skilful tacticians who had notable victories including those in the West Indies in 1782.

1781: A squadron under Rear Admiral Kempenfelt, flying his flag in HMS Victory, captured a French convoy in the Atlantic.

1787: Pennsylvania became the second state of the Union.

1896: Marconi gave the first public demonstration of radio at Toynbee Hall, London. The same day in 1901, Marconi carried out the first transatlantic radio transmission from Poldhu, Cornwall, to St John’s, Newfoundland.

1913: The Mona Lisa, which had been stolen from the Louvre, was recovered from its hiding place in a bedroom of a small hotel in Florence. Vincenzo Perugia and three others were arrested.

1915: The first all-metal plane, made by German aircraft builder Hugo Junkers, was flown for the first time.

1942: The four surviving canoeists from the Royal Marines Boom Patrol Detachment - Major Hasler, Marine Sparks, Corporal Laver, Marine Mills - reached their target, the ports at Bordeaux and Bassens, having set out on 7 December.  Their limpet mines destroyed or damaged four merchant ships, a tanker and a naval auxiliary.  The Marines then attempted to escape on foot to Spain.  Only Hasler and Sparks reached safety.  The other eight Royal Marines who set out on Frankton either drowned at sea or were captured and executed by the Germans.

1955: Christopher Cockerell patented his prototype of the hovercraft.

1955: Bill Haley and the Comets recorded ‘See You Later Alligator’ at Decca Recording Studios, New York.

1988: Britain’s worst rail crash for 20 years killed 35 and injured 113 people when a packed express from Bournemouth ran into the back of a stationary commuter train near Clapham Junction.

1988: The first satellite pictures were beamed to 2,200 London betting shops to allow them to watch the races live from many race courses.

1989: Billionaire Leona Helmsley, who said, ‘Only the little people pay taxes,’ was fined $7 million and sentenced to four years’ imprisonment for tax evasion. Dubbed the ‘Queen of Greed’, she and her husband Harry owned a chain of luxury hotels worth $5 billion.

December 13th:

1577 Francis Drake set sail from Plymouth with his flagship Pelican, plus 4 other ships and 160 men, on an expedition to the Pacific. His other ships were lost or returned home shortly after the voyage began but the Pelican, renamed the Golden Hind, pushed on alone up the coast of Chile and Peru. Continuing northwards, the California coast was claimed in the name of Queen Elizabeth. He crossed the Indian Ocean, rounded the Cape of Good Hope and eventually returned to Plymouth on September 26th 1580 with treasure worth £500,000. He became the first Englishmen to sail around the world and the Queen knighted him aboard his ship at Deptford, on the river Thames.

1779: The first Smithfield Show organized by the Smithfield Cattle and Sheep Society was held at Wooton’s Dolphin Yard in London.

1847 Wuthering Heights by Ellis Bell (Emily Brontë) was published, as was Agnes Grey by Acton Bell (Anne Brontë).

1867 Twelve people were killed when Irish terrorists blew up the outer wall of Clerkenwell Prison, London in an attempt to rescue a jailed colleague.

1878 The Holborn Viaduct in London was illuminated by electricity, the first street lighting in Britain, installed by a French contractor who had lit a street in Lyon in 1857, the first in the world.

1879: During the Second Afghan War, an attack by British troops at the Sherpur Pass faltered in the face of heavy fire.  Lieutenant Dick-Cunyngham of the Gordon Highlanders ran forwards, rallied the men, then charged into the midst of the enemy.  The position was successfully taken, and Dick-Cunyngham was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC).

1884: A coin-operated weighing machine was patented by Percy Everitt.

1903: Ice cream cones (or moulds) were patented by Italo Marcione of New York.

1904: The Metropolitan Underground railway in London went electric.

1914: Lieutenant Holbrook took the submarine HMS B-11 up the Dardanelles, probably the most heavily defended waterway in the world at the time.  B-11 was, even by the standards of the First World War, a small (300 ton), under-powered (225hp electric motor) and obsolete boat dating back to 1905 and the very early days of submarine development.  The compass was actually mounted outside the hull and viewed through a small glass in the conning tower.  Despite the treacherous current in the Straits, Holbrook successfully got through a minefield to torpedo the Turkish battleship Messudiyeh.  He then managed to return safely down the Dardanelles, despite coming under fire from shore batteries and enemy torpedo boats.  B-11 had been submerged for no less than nine hours - a remarkable achievement in such a primitive craft.  Holbrook was awarded the Submarine Service's first Victoria Cross.

1921 Britain, France, Japan and the USA signed the Washington Treaty respecting each other's rights over possessions in the Pacific.

1939: Force G under Commodore Harwood, comprising the cruisers HMS Exeter, HMS Ajax and HMNZS Achilles, found the German pocket-battleship Admiral Graf von Spee off the River Plate.  The German raider had enjoyed much success against merchant shipping in the South Atlantic, and was individually far more powerful than the three Commonwealth cruisers.  Exeter drew most of the early German fire and was badly damaged, but the cruisers in turn inflicted significant damage on Graf Spee, and she ran for the sanctuary of the neutral harbour of Montevideo.  Faced with the alternatives of the ship being interned, or a sortie to fight the Royal Navy ships heading for the scene, her captain scuttled her on 17 December, mistakenly thinking that the legendary HMS Ark Royal had arrived to join the battle.

1972 More than 300 British victims of the Thalidomide drug were offered a compensation deal said to be worth £11.85m.

1973 The British Government ordered a 3 day working week following an Arab oil embargo and industrial action by the country's miners.

1976 The first oil was brought to Britain from the Brent Oil Field in the North Sea.

1989 A deaf choir from South Wales gave what was claimed to be the first concert using sign language. Performed in unison with a leading male voice choir, it enabled members of the audience who were deaf to enjoy the concert at the Gwyn Town Hall in West Glamorgan.

1995 Hundreds of black and white youths went on the streets of Brixton, in south London attacking police, ransacking shops and burning cars after the death of a black man in police custody.

December 14th:

1503: Birth of Nostradamus (Michel de Nostradame), French astrologer and physician who published his celebrated book of prophecies, Centuries, in 1555. It seemed many of his prophecies were fulfilled; his fame spread and he was invited to cast horoscopes for Catherine de’Medici, the queen consort.

1546: Birth of Tycho Brahe, Danish astronomer and mathematician who, with Kepler, proved that the planets orbit the sun in ellipses. The Danish King Frederick II provided an island for an observatory where Brahe was able to carry out some of the most advanced astronomy in Europe.

1861 Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria, died of typhoid fever.

1879: On the Asmai Heights in Afghanistan, three Victoria Crosses (VC) were won: Captain Hammond held off the enemy whilst British troops retired down the hill; Captain Vousden led a cavalry charge which repeatedly cut through the enemy's ranks, inflicting heavy casualties; and Lance-Corporal Sellar was badly wounded whilst distinguishing himself in fierce close-quarter combat.

1895 The birth of King George VI, the second son of George V and Mary. He succeeded Edward VIII when Edward abdicated and ruled Britain during the war years.

1911 Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first man to reach the South Pole, 35 days ahead of British explorer Captain Scott. Scott died, along with the rest of his team, on the return journey.

1918 The first woman elected to Parliament was Constance, the Countess Markievicz who won for Sinn Fein, contesting a Dublin seat. She was unable to take her seat as she was in Holloway Prison, London. The 1918 General Election was also the first time that women in Britain had the vote.

1920 The first scheduled airliner disaster in aviation history occurred when an airliner with six passengers and two crew took off from Cricklewood Airport, London, for a flight to Paris. Barely airborne, the plane crashed into a house in neighbouring Golders Green, killing the crew and two passengers. The others escaped from the wreckage.

1922 The man who would play a significant part in the history of British broadcasting, John Reith, was appointed General Manager of the fledgling BBC.

1932 The first floodlit rugby league match was held at London’s White City Stadium, between Leeds and Wigan.

1943: In Italy, Captain Triquet, of the French-Canadian Le Royal 22e Regiment, took command of a company which had suffered very heavy losses in an attack, and managed to break through the enemy positions.  Less than twenty men of the company remained under his command by this time, but under his leadership they held the newly-won ground against German counter-attacks until reinforced the following day.  Triquet received the Victoria Cross.

1947 Stanley Baldwin, three times Conservative Prime Minister, died.

1955 Hugh Gaitskell was elected leader of the Labour Party, following the resignation of Clement Attlee.

1959 The shortest murder trial in British legal history. In 30 seconds, at Winchester Assizes, Brian Cawley pleaded guilty to the murder of Rupert Steed and was later sentenced to life imprisonment.

1972: Last Moon mission returns. Apollo 17, the last manned space mission to the Moon, returns to Earth, bringing an end to America's programme of lunar exploration.

1984 Miners' leader Arthur Scargill was found guilty of obstruction during a picket at a Yorkshire coal works earlier in the year. He was fined £250 and ordered to pay £750 in costs.

2003 The ousted President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, was under arrest after being found by US soldiers hiding in a cellar.

December 15th:

37: Birth of Nero, the fifth Roman emperor, who put to death his mother in 59, his wife Octavia in 62, and saw Rome destroyed by fire in 64. His behaviour inspired a revolt which eventually led to his suicide.

1654: A meteorological office established in Tuscany began recording daily temperature readings.

1906 The opening of the Piccadilly tube line on London's Underground. It was the longest underground line at the time, running from Finsbury Park to Hammersmith.

1913 Suffragette's caused a dynamite explosion at Holloway Prison where Emmeline Pankhurst and Lady Constance Lytton were detained.

1916 The Battle of Verdun ended, with 364,000 Allied soldiers and 338,000 Germans dead.

1927 The British Parliament rejected the New Book of Common Prayer because it ‘leaned too far towards Rome’ and it was returned for further revision.

1944: In Burma, a gun of the Royal Indian Artillery in an advanced position was attacked by repeated waves of Japanese infantry.  Havildar Umrao Singh, in charge of the piece, was seen in fierce combat with the enemy, and when reinforcements finally reached him, he was found collapsed from exhaustion, surrounded by the bodies of his enemies.  He received the Victoria Cross.

1958 The last steam locomotive was made at Crewe. Engine number 92250 was the 7,331st locomotive built since the works opened.

1964: The Canadian Parliament adopted the maple leaf as the official symbol for the national flag.

1978: Laser videodiscs were launched in Atlanta, Georgia, by Magnavision, part of Philips/MCA.

1979: Two 30-year-old Canadians, Chris Haney, picture editor on the Montreal Gazette, and sports writer Scott Abbott, came up with the idea for a game called Trivial Pursuit. It was eventually manufactured in 1982 and sold 45 million copies worldwide in its first five years.

1982 Reputed to be Robin Hood's tree, the 'Major Oak' in Sherwood Forest, was fitted with a fire alarm.

1982 There were scenes of jubilation as the gates isolating the people of Gibraltar from Spain were opened for the first time in 13 years. There were tight restrictions, which included a ban on any British or foreign tourists crossing.

1984 'Do They Know It's Christmas' by Band Aid entered the chart at No.1 and stayed at the top for 5 weeks. At the time it was the biggest selling single ever in the UK, with sales of over three and a half million.

1987 A company in Bedford became the first to be fined (£500) for failing to register personal computer records under the Data Protection Act.

1993 The British and Irish prime ministers John Major and Albert Reynolds signed the historic Joint Declaration for Peace which they hoped would end 25 years of bombing and murder in Northern Ireland.

1994 Former 800m Commonwealth gold-medallist Diane Modahl was found guilty of taking a banned drug, but was cleared a year later on appeal.

2004 The Home Secretary, David Blunkett, resigned after an email implicated him in using his Government position to grant favours to his ex-lover.

December 16th:

1485 Birth of Catherine of Aragon, first of Henry VIII’s wives. She bore him six children but only one survived (Mary I), and Henry divorced her against the Pope’s wishes, in his pursuit for a male heir.

1653 Following the execution of Charles I, Oliver Cromwell failed to get the Parliament he wanted and became Lord Protector, turning himself into an uncrowned king for the next four years.

1742: Birth of Gebhard Berecht von Blucher, Prussian general nicknamed ‘Marshal Forward’. In the Battle of Waterloo, his forces supported Wellington and tipped the balance against Napoleon.

1773 Taxes by Britain on tea and other commodities led Samuel Adams and 150 ‘Sons of Liberty’ disguised as Mohawk Indians to hold the Boston Tea Party in which 342 tea chests worth £18,000 were tossed off Griffin’s Wharf into Boston Harbour. The War of Independence had begun.

1850: The first immigrant ship, the Charlotte Jane, arrived at Lyttleton, New Zealand

1882 Sir Jack Hobbs, renowned cricketer and the first of his sport to be knighted, was born.

1914 German warships bombarded the seaside resort of Scarborough, believing it to be a major British port. Several other east coast resorts were also hit.

1925: Construction work began on the Mersey Tunnel which would take nine years to complete.

1929 Barnes Wallis saw his R100 airship carry out its first test flight.

1944 The Battle of the Bulge began in the Ardennes. By January 21, the Germans had been pushed back to their original line, having lost some 120,000 men in the offensive.

1951 Freddie Steele was transferred from Mansfield to Port Vale, the first footballer to be involved in a transfer deal.

1955: London Heathrow opened its new terminal buildings and established itself as the world’s busiest international airport.

1969 MPs voted by a big majority for the permanent abolition of the death penalty for murder.

1977 The Queen unveiled the new underground link from central London to Heathrow; the first from a capital city to its major airport.

1991 Britain named Stella Rimington as the first woman to head its security service, MI5.

1998 USA & Britain combined bombing attacks on Iraq after UN weapons inspectors were expelled from the country, contrary to assurances given by Saddam Hussein.

2001 Thousands of campaigners took to the streets of Edinburgh to protest against a bill to ban dog-hunting, the uncertain future of rural schools and the handling of the foot and mouth crisis.

December 17th:

1332: Five months after his remarkable victory at Dupplin Moor had restored him to the Scottish throne, Edward Balliol was staying at Annan on the Solway Firth, when Archibald Douglas mounted a murderous night assault.  Balliol's companions were killed in their beds, but he escaped, half-naked on a horse, eventually reaching safety with the English at Carlisle.

1778 The birthday of Sir Humphrey Davy, English inventor of the safety lamp for miners. He also discovered sodium, magnesium, calcium, barium and strontium.

1843 A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, was published. See this link.

1849 Thomas and William Bowler, felt hat makers, sold their first 'bowler' to William Coke, which he purchased at James Lock & Co. in London.

1917 Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, first English woman physician, died.

1933 Members of the public were allowed to walk through the recently completed Mersey Road Tunnel, prior to its opening to traffic.

1939: The pocket-battleship raider Admiral Graf von Spee was scuttled by her crew off Montevideo rather than face internment or risk another battle with the Royal Navy.

1941: The First Battle of Sirte was fought off the Libyan coast.  Royal Navy cruisers and destroyers, plus the Dutch Isaac Sweers, conducted an inconclusive engagement with Italian ships.

1942 The British Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, told the House of Commons about the mass executions of Jews by Germans in occupied Europe. He also read out a United Nations* declaration condemning "this bestial policy". * not sure how, as wasn't the UN former AFTER the war???

1954 The British Petroleum Company (BP) was formed.

1967 Alec Rose, aboard Lively Lady, completed his solo 14,500 mile sail, from Britain to Australia.

1968 An 11-year-old girl (Mary Bell) was sentenced to life in detention after being found guilty at Newcastle Assizes of the manslaughter of two small boys. It was said that she strangled the boys, aged four and three, "solely for the pleasure and excitement of killing".

1976 Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates rejected Opec's recommended 15% oil price increase and choose to impose a lower price rise of 5%.

1983 Three police officers and three members of the public were killed and many others injured after a car bomb attack in London. Police believe the IRA planted the bomb in a side street near Harrods department store in Knightsbridge.

1986 Mrs Davina Thompson, in an operation performed at a Cambridge hospital, became the world’s first heart, lungs and liver transplant patient .

2003 Former school caretaker Ian Huntley was convicted of the murders of 10 year olds Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

December 18th:

1559 Queen Elizabeth I of England sent aid to the Scottish Lords to drive the French from Scotland.

1707 Birth of Charles Wesley, English hymn writer of 5,500 hymns. He was an evangelist like his brother John, who was the founder of Methodism.

1779 The birth of Joseph Grimaldi, English creator of the original white faced clown.

1792 Radical political writer Thomas Paine was tried for treason, in his absence, for publishing 'The Rights of Man' in which he supported the French Revolution and called for the abolition of the British Monarchy.

1793: The Royal Navy, led by Vice Admiral Lord Hood in HMS Victory, evacuated British, Spanish and Royalist French troops from Toulon during the siege in which the young artillery officer Napoleon Bonaparte distinguished himself on the Revolutionary side.  Although evicted from Toulon, the Allied forces destroyed French seapower in the Mediterranean, sinking or taking with them 33 French warships.

1912 The Piltdown Man was discovered in Sussex by Charles Dawson. It was claimed to be the fossilized skull and remains of the earliest known European, but in 1953 it was proved to be a hoax. The skull was that of an orang-utan.

1916 The Battle of Verdun, the longest engagement of World War I, ended after 10 months and massive loss of life. 23 million shells had been fired and 650,000 were killed.

1919 Pioneering aviator John Alcock died in an aircraft accident whilst flying the new Vickers Viking amphibian to the Paris airshow. Alcock and Lt. Arthur Whitten-Brown were the first to make a non-stop transatlantic flight, but after Alcock's death, Brown, never flew again.

1939: 22 RAF Wellington bombers from 9, 37 and 149 Squadrons attempted a daylight raid on German warships in the Wilhelmshaven area.  Detected by German radar, they were badly mauled by Bf109 and Bf110 fighters off Heligoland.  Twelve Wellingtons were shot down and another three badly damaged; two Bf109s were destroyed.  The disaster helped convince Bomber Command that unescorted day bombers were too vulnerable to operate safely except under very favourable circumstances.

1944: Australian troops captured Arty Hill, a major Japanese position on the island of Bougainville.

1946 Clement Atlee's Labour government won the vote on state ownership. It led to the nationalizing of the railways, ports and mines. Labour MPs triumphantly sang 'The Red Flag'.

1974 The Government said that it would pay £42,000 compensation to relatives of the 13 men killed in the Bloody Sunday riots in Londonderry (30th January 1972).

1987 Ivan Boesky, the former US ‘King of Arbitrage’ was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for insider stock exchange dealings. Some of Boesky’s revelations led to the investigation by the Department of Trade and Industry in Britain into Guinness’s takeover of Distillers.

1989 The Labour Party abandoned its policy on trade union 'closed shops' in line with European legislation.

1997 A bill giving Scotland its own parliament for the first time in three centuries was unveiled in Glasgow.

December 19th:

1154 Henry II became King of England.

1387: The Earl of Oxford, Robert de Vere, attempted to restore Richard II's rule, confronting the Lords Appellant at Radcot Bridge.  However, his troops were defeated and the Lords Appellant were left in control of the country.

1848 Emily Brontë, English author of Wuthering Heights, died of tuberculosis at the tender age of 30.

1851 The renowned landscape painter, Joseph Turner, died in a lodging house in Chelsea, London

1854: Private Norman of the 7th Regiment was on sentry duty alone, well in advance of Allied positions in the Crimea, when he spotted a Russian patrol moving through the undergrowth.  He managed to surprise them and capture two prisoners.  He was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC).

1863 Frederick Walton of London patented a new floor covering called linoleum.

1905 London County Council set up Britain's first motorised ambulance service for the victims of traffic accidents.

1914: Three Victoria Crosses were won on the Western Front.  Lieutenant Bruce of the 59th Scinde Rifles led a determined defence against repeated German attacks, continuing to walk up and down his men's positions directing the defence despite a severe neck wound, until he received a further fatal injury.  Guardsman Mackenzie of the Scots Guards rescued a wounded soldier from No Man's Land, and was killed attempting to rescue another.  And Lieutenant Neame of the Royal Engineers mounted single-handed a grenade attack on the Germans, holding them back for three-quarters of an hour to win time for a number of wounded men to be rescued.  After the war, Neame won a Gold Medal at the 1924 Olympics, the only man to win the VC and an Olympic Gold.

1915 World War I: British, Australian and New Zealand troops began their withdrawal from Gallipoli after failing to defeat the Turks.

1941: A daring attack by Italian Navy frogmen badly damaged the battleships HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Valiant in Alexandria harbour.  The frogmen's two-man torpedo-based submersibles were copied by the Royal Navy as the Chariot and used in later attacks on Axis ports.
In Hong Kong, the beleaguered garrison was involved in fierce fighting, particularly around Mount Butler.  Canadian Sergeant Major Osborn distinguished himself in the action, finally being killed in a supreme act of self-sacrifice, throwing himself on a grenade that landed amongst his men.

1956 At least six people died and several others were injured in road accidents in thick fog, with visibility as low as 4.5 metres in many parts of England. There was also chaos on the railways, at airports and with shipping.

1957 The start of a regular air service between London and Moscow.

1972 Ugandan leader General Idi Amin gave British workers an ultimatum; to accept reduced pay or be expelled.

1972 Irish footballer George Best was sacked from his club, Scumchester United.

1981 The 8 man crew of the Penlee Lifeboat all lost their lives attempting to rescue the crew of the coaster Union Star that was wrecked in violent seas off the coast of Cornwall.

1984 Britain and China signed an agreement in Beijing, in which Britain agreed to transfer full sovereignty of Hong Kong to China in 1997.

1984 Ted Hughes was named the 18th Poet Laureate, in succession to Sir John Betjeman.

1997 Former Conservative party leader William Hague married his fiancée Ffion Jenkins at a ceremony in Westminster.

December 20th:

1649 Theatres were banned by Oliver Cromwell.

1804: A new game, ‘Emulation’, was published, ‘designed for the Amusement of Youth of both Sexes and calculated to inspire their Minds with an Abhorrence of Vice and a Love of Virtue’. The game was over when a player moving his or her token along the board and passing through various virtues and vices, eventually reached the centre where ‘Virtue is its Own reward’. It never caught on.

1805 Thomas Graham, the Scottish chemist who discovered the principle of dialysis, was born.

1891: During the Hunza-Nagar Expedition on the North-West Frontier, following the capture of the fort at Nilt on 2 December, Lieutenant Smith, 5th Gurkha Rifles, led an assault up a cliff face.  He and his men were exposed to enemy fire for four hours before finally reaching the summit, whereupon Smith, the first man to the top, rushed an enemy sangar and killed its occupants.  He was awarded the Victoria Cross.

1894: Birth of Sir Robert (Gordon) Menzies, Australian Prime Minister from 1939. He returned as leader of the Opposition in 1943. The following year he formed the Australian Liberal Party and in 1949 became Prime Minister of a coalition government which was re-elected six times from 1951 to 1963, retiring as Prime Minister in 1966. He was both knighted and made Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports in 1965, formerly held by Churchill.

1910 The British General Election produced a tied vote, with the Liberal Party and the Tory Party each winning 272 seats.

1920 An English born comedian named Leslie Downes, who later changed his name to Bob Hope, became an American citizen on this day. He had lived in the United States since 1908 and became one America's true ambassadors for show business and charity.

1926 Geoffrey Howe, British politician, was born.

1928 Harry Ramsden started his fish and chip restaurant in a hut near Leeds, West Yorkshire. It soon became the most famous fish and chip restaurant in the world.

1928 The England cricket team scored a record 636 against Australia in Sydney, including 251 scored by Walter Hammond. England won the Test match by eight wickets.

1942: A Mosquito bomber of 109 Squadron RAF, crewed by Squadron Leader Bufton and Flight Lieutenant Ifould, conducted the first operation using the Oboe blind-bombing system.  Two radar stations in the UK, codenamed Cat and Mouse, tracked the Mosquito as it flew a precisely calculated course, speed and height, with Cat providing correction signals, and Mouse instructing bomb release at the correct moment.  The system needed specialist training to use, and could only be employed by a small number of aircraft, but was by far the most accurate blind-bombing system of the Second World War, allowing Bomber Command to deliver true precision attacks.  On this occasion, the target was a Dutch power station.

1954 James Hilton, the English author of the classic book 'Goodbye Mr Chips', died.

1955 Cardiff was officially named the capital of Wales.

1957: At the height of his career Elvis Presley received his call-up papers.

1969 Rolf Harris had the Christmas No.1 of 1969 and the last No.1 of the 1960s with 'Two Little Boys'. The song stayed at No.1 for six weeks.

1979 The introduction of Britain's Housing Bill - forcing local councils to sell their houses to any tenants who wished to buy them.

1988 Animal rights terrorists fire bombed Harrod's department store in London.

1990 The Maerdy Colliery, employing 320 men, closed. It was the last remaining coal mine in the Rhondda Valley, an area which once produced 9million tonnes a year, and where more than 50,000 miners had worked in 54 pits.

1995: Under the Dayton Agreement, NATO's Implementation Force (IFOR) took over responsibility for peace support operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina from the United Nations.  British forces serving with the UN transferred to the new command and proved particularly effective in rapidly implementing the new security arrangements on the first morning.

1995 The Queen urged the Prince Charles and Princess Diana to seek "an early divorce".

December 21st: The Feast Day of St Thomas the Apostle, patron saint of Portugal, and of architects.

1118 Birth of Thomas à Becket, future Archbishop of Canterbury and martyr, in Cheapside.

1620 The Pilgrim Fathers arrived at Plymouth Rock , Massachusetts aboard The Mayflower. Passengers & crew increased to 103 after 2 births on the voyage from Plymouth, England.

1804 The birth of Benjamin Disraeli, first Earl of Beaconsfield and British Prime Minister. He became the first Conservative Prime Minister in 1868, but was defeated at the next election. He was Prime Minister again in 1874 with a substantial majority.

1842 Pentonville Prison, Islington, was opened.

1846 Robert Liston used anaesthetic (ether) for the first time in a British operation at University College Hospital, London, to perform an amputation of a leg.

1879: Birth of Joseph Stalin (Joseph Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili), Russian revolutionary whom Lenin had wanted to remove, but died before he could do so, leaving Stalin to impose his harsh ideology, carrying out purges to eliminate critics.

1880 An act passed by the House of Keys on the Isle of Man granted women the vote, provided they were widows or spinsters with a property rated annually at £4 or over. The first opportunity to vote was in April, the following year. In 1901, Norwegian women were allowed to vote, but in local elections only.

1913: The New York World printed the first crossword puzzle.

1935: Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first full-length colour and sound animated cartoon, was shown in the US.

1941: The first escort carrier, HMS Audacity, was sunk by U-751 while defending convoy HG.76 in the Atlantic.  Although Audacity, converted from the former German liner Hanover, was lost after a very short period of service, she had proved the escort carrier concept during a series of actions the previous week, her aircraft helping significantly in hampering U-boat and Focke-Wulf Condor operations against the convoy.

1962 President Kennedy and Prime Minister Harold Macmillan agreed that the UK would buy nuclear missiles from the US to form a multilateral NATO nuclear force.

1963 Under soil heating was used for the first time at the Leeds Rugby League ground for their match against Dewsbury.

1963 Sir Jack Hobbs, English cricketer, died.

1977 The Trades Union Congress General Council narrowly voted to reject firemen's demands for a public campaign against a 10% limit on wage increases. The union decided by 20 votes to 17 not to support the firemen who were in their sixth week of strike action for better pay and conditions.

1988 A Pan American jumbo jet bound for New York was blown out of the sky by a terrorist bomb and crashed onto the Scottish town of Lockerbie, killing all 259 passengers and 11 people on the ground.

1990 In a German television interview, Saddam Hussein declared that he would not withdraw from Kuwait by the UN deadline.

December 22nd:

1715 James Edward Stuart, son of James II, the deposed Catholic King of England, landed at Petershead in north-east Scotland, after his exile in France, to lead a Jacobite rebellion against England. The rebellion failed.

1716 Lincoln's Inn Theatre in London put on England's first pantomime which included the characters Harlequin, Columbine and Pantaloon.

1895: Roentgen made the first radiograph or x-ray of his wife’s hand.

1915: In France, Private Young of the East Lancashire Regiment spotted a wounded man lying in No Man's Land.  He left the trench and started to make his way towards him, but was spotted by the Germans and fired upon.  One round shattered his jaw, while another inflicted a chest wound.  Nevertheless, Young reached the casualty.  Another soldier made it safely out to join him and assist in pulling the injured man back to the British lines.  Young was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC).

1919 The Government of Ireland Act of Power (Home Rule for Ireland) came into being. It was signed by King George V. Ireland was divided into two parts, each with its own parliament.

1943 The children's writer, Beatrix Potter, died. Her house at Hill Top, Sawrey is open to the public.

1951 The birth of Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster. He is second only to the Queen, as Britain's richest landlord.

1962 Pop group the Tornados started a three week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with their record Telstar. It was the first major hit from a UK act in the American charts. Good track too, even after all this time - download it and see.

1965 The government introduced an 'experimental' speed limit of 70mph on motorways in England. The limit is still in force.

1965 Richard Dimbleby, British broadcaster, died.

1972: Survivors found 10 weeks after plane crash. The Chilean Air Force finds 14 survivors two months after their plane crashed in the Andes. The story of the ordeal was published in a book called "Alive!" by Piers Paul Read. A film based on the book was released in 1993, starring Ethan Hawke.

1973 Elton John started a two week run at No.1 on the UK chart with the album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. The album featured the song Candle in the Wind that was later re-written after the death of Princess Diana.

1974 Terrorists bombed the home of the Conservative leader and former Prime Minister Edward Heath.

1982 Heavy snow fell across much of Britain, causing chaos with up to 8 inches of snow.

1989: Brandenburg Gate re-opens. Berlin's most famous landmark, the Brandenburg Gate, opens for the first time in nearly 30 years.

1997 An independent inquiry into the BSE disaster and the devastation it wreaked on British farming was announced by the government.

2000 The American singer Madonna married British film maker Guy Ritchie at an exclusive ceremony in a Scottish castle, hours after their son was christened.

My Nephew Greg`s birthday today, you forgot that Ravey.  Cool

December 23rd: The day after Gophers nephew Greg's birthday.  Very Happy

1777: Birth of Alexander I, Tsar of Russia whose armies fought Napoleon when he made his disastrous march into Russia.

1812 The birth of Samuel Smiles, English author of the book Self Help (1859). It sold over 250,000 copies and was followed by other self-improvement books such as Thrift (1875). The books were the tools of Victorian virtues.

1813 A great freeze began. It lasted until well into February.

1834 English architect Joseph Hansom patented the horse drawn taxi, known as the Hansom Cab.

1848 The London Illustrated News published the first Christmas supplement with advice on ‘making the Christmas Pudding’.

1888 Birth, in Hull, of the film magnate and rhyming slang legend J. Arthur Rank.

1888: Vincent Van Gogh, suffering severe depression which was increased by his companion Gauguin’s decision to leave their lodgings at Arles to escape winter, cut off his ear.

1905 The earliest recorded British beauty show was held at Newcastle Upon Tyne, in north-east England.

1922 The BBC began regular daily radio news broadcasts.

1940 World War II: British Prime Minister Winston Churchill urged the Italians to rid themselves of dictator Benito Mussolini.

1942: Bomber Command Venturas attacked naval installations at Den Helder, whilst Boston light bombers attacked facilities at St Malo.  The Ventura attack proved particularly accurate, badly damaging a torpedo workshop.

1944: Over Cologne, Squadron Leader Palmer led a small daylight precision attack on the railway yards at Gremberg.  The weather proved unexpectedly clear, which favoured the defences since the bombers were using the Oboe bombing aid, which, whilst very accurate, required a long straight approach making them vulnerable to anti-aircraft fire.  It was therefore decided to abort the Oboe operation, but the decision was taken too late for Palmer's Lancaster, already on its attack run.  His aircraft received the full attention of the Cologne flak defences, and was then attacked by fighters.  Nevertheless, with two engines on fire, he continued on the run and dropped on target, before the Lancaster fell out of control.  Only the rear gunner survived.  Palmer was awarded a posthumous VC.

1956 The United Nations Emergency Force took over in Egypt after British and French forces withdrew from Port Said and Port Fuad ending the Suez Crisis.

1964 The government announced that Dr. Richard Beeching who instigated major and controversial changes to the rail network was to quit his post.

1970 The Mousetrap reached its 7511th consecutive performance to break the world record for the longest running play.

1987 The first ‘Scrooge’ award by the Low Pay Unit was made to a Wiltshire stable-owner who paid a qualified groom only £28 a week. The runner-up was a doctor employing a telephonist for 30p an hour. The prize was an illustrated edition of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

1992 The BBC investigated a leak which led to the Queen's Christmas speech being published in a national newspaper.

December 24th: Christmas Eve

1167: Birth of King John, youngest son of Henry II, King of England, who was forced by the barons to sign the Magna Carta. When he tried to revoke his authorization, civil war broke out.

1491: Birth of Ignatius Loyola, Spanish soldier who became a religious convert when injured in battle and who formed the Jesuits.

1582: Water piped to private houses by the London Bridge Waterworks began flowing.

1777: Yorkshire's Captain James Cook discovered, and appropriately named, Christmas Island.

1809: Birth of (Christopher) Kit Carson, US frontiersman, trapper, scout, Indian agent and national folk hero who played an important part in the westward expansion of the US. He served the Union cause during the Civil War and was made a colonel. Carson City, Nevada, was named after him.

1814: The war of 1812 between the US and Britain was brought to an end with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent.

1818: The first performance of the song ‘Silent Night’ (‘Stille Nacht’), music by Franz Gruber with words by his friend Joseph Mohr, a priest at the church in Oberstdorf, Bavaria.

1828: The trial of William Burke began in Edinburgh. The other bodysnatcher, William Hare, had turned King’s evidence and was not therefore brought to trial. Burke had published his full confession in the Edinburgh Courant. Dr Knox, who bought the bodies, was not even called to give evidence. Burke charged sixpence to artists wishing to draw him while in court. Sentenced to death, he was hanged on 28 January, 1829, when the rhyme appeared: ‘Burke’s the murderer, Hare’s the thief/And Knox the boy who buys the beef’.

1851: Part of the Capitol building in Washington and the entire Library of Congress was destroyed by fire.

1871: The first performance of Verdi’s opera Aida was presented in Cairo.

1904: The London Coliseum opened with the first revolving stage in Britain.

1905: Birth of Howard (Robard) Hughes, US tycoon who inherited the Hughes Tool Company on his father’s death and invested some of the money in Hollywood productions including Hell’s Angels (1931) and later Jane Russell’s films including The Outlaw (1943). He was considered a ladies’ man during this period, dating many stars including Ava Gardner. He worked under an assumed name for American Airways, then left after less than a year with enough knowledge not just to start his own aircraft company, but also to design an aircraft to take the airspeed record. In 1950, he became a recluse, by all accounts living a bizarre lifestyle.

1906: The first radio telephone broadcast was demonstrated by Canadian-born Professor Reginald Fessenden from a radio station at Brant Rock, Massachusetts, to ships’ radios within a five-mile range.

1914: A German monoplane dropped a single bomb on Dover, the first ever to be dropped on British soil. It landed on a rectory garden lawn and blew out the house windows.

1922: The BBC broadcast The Truth About Father Christmas by Phillis M Twigg, the first play written for radio in Britain.

1941: Commonwealth troops of the 8th Army captured Benghazi in Libya after exhausting fighting during Operation Crusader, launched on 18 November.

1942: At Peenemunde, the Germans launched the world’s first surface-to-surface guided missile, the VI.

1943: General Dwight D Eisenhower was appointed by Roosevelt to be Commander-in-Chief of the invasion of Europe. The desk-bound general had never fought a single campaign.

1944: The Germans flew the first jet aircraft for wartime use.

1965: A meteorite weighing about 100 lbs landed on Leicestershire, possibly the largest to fall on Britain in modern times.

1974: The Beatles’ partnership was legally dissolved.

1979: Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan as the Kabul government fell.

December 25th:
Christmas Day

1066: William the Conqueror was crowned at Westminster Abbey.

1176: The first eisteddfod took place at Cardigan Castle.

1741: The Centigrade temperature scale was devised by Anders Celsius and incorporated into a Delisle thermometer at Uppsala in Sweden.

1800: The first Christmas tree in Britain was erected at Queen’s Lodge, Windsor by the German-born Queen Charlotte, wife of George III who brought the idea over from Germany where the first reports of Christmas trees go back to 1521.

1864: The traditional swim in the ice-cold Serpentine in London’s Hyde Park was initiated.

1866: The US yacht Henrietta sailed into Cowes harbour, Isle of Wight, the winner of the first transatlantic yacht race.

1876: Birth of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Indian politician who, as a Muslim, opposed Gandhi’s policies for a united India, demanding a separate Muslim state. He was made the first Governor-General of Pakistan in 1947.

1887: Birth of Conrad (Nicholson) Hilton, US hotelier who founded one of the largest groups in the world. He began by helping his father turn their large New Mexican house into an inn for travelling salesmen.

1914: The famous Christmas truce between British and German troops bogged down in the trenches on the western front during the First World War led to fraternizing and swapping presents in no man’s land. At midnight, they began to shoot each other again.

1918: Birth of Anwar Sadat, President of Egypt from 1970 who initiated peace talks with Israel’s hard-line Prime Minister Begin. They both shared the Nobel Peace prize for accomplishing a reconciliation.

1926: Hirohito acceded to the throne of Japan on the death of his father Yoshihito.

1932: King George V made the first Royal Christmas broadcast to the Empire. Queen Elizabeth II made her first Christmas broadcast in 1952, and her first television Christmas message was broadcast in 1957.

1941: Hong Kong fell to the Japanese after a seven-day battle.

1950: The Stone of Scone, the Scottish coronation stone which had been in Westminster Abbey for 650 years was stolen by Scottish nationalists. The Stone, weighing 458 lbs, was said to have been taken from Scotland by Edward I.

1959: Sony launched their transistor television set, the Sony TV 8-301 in Japan.

1972: The Nicaraguan capital of Managua was devastated by an earthquake which killed over 10,000 people.

1989: The former dictator of Romania, Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena, who had been in hiding since 22 December when the hated regime was toppled, were arrested, tried and found guilty of ‘genocide’ by a military court. They were executed this Christmas Day.

December 26th: Boxing Day, also the traditional starting day for English pantomimes. Oh no it isn't!

1643: At Middlewich, Royalist troops under Lord Byron, formed around Irish regiments from Leinster, defeated Parliamentary forces under Sir William Brereton attempting to relieve their garrison at Nantwich.

1717: The first pantomime, Harlequin Executed presented by John Rich at Lincoln’s Inn Fields Theatre, London.

1893: Birth of Mao Tse-tung, Chinese Communist leader who was a founder of the party in 1921 and organized the Long March. He led his nation after the war of liberation, from 1947 to his death. Chairman Mao’s famous Little Red Book with his thoughts, was issued to all the population.

1898: Marie and Pierre Curie discovered radium while experimenting with pitchblende.

1899: An action was fought at Game Tree near Mafeking during the Boer War.  Sergeant Martineau of the Protectorate Regiment won the Victoria Cross (VC) by his efforts to save a wounded colleague, himself suffering two wounds in the process.  Trooper Ramsden was similarly decorated for saving his own brother's life - his brother fell wounded only ten yards (9m) in front of the Boer positions.  Ramsden picked him up and carried him back some 800 yards (731.5m), under heavy fire all the time and having to stop regularly to rest.  He eventually got his brother to safety.

1906: The world’s first feature film, The Story of the Kelly Gang, made in Australia, was screened in Melbourne.

1908: ‘Galveston Jack’ Johnson became the first black boxer to win a world-heavyweight title when he beat Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia. It shocked white boxing fans and so began the quest for the Great White Hope to put this ‘uppity n***** in his place’.

1932: The BBC presented the first televised panto, Dick Whittington.

1943: A force comprising the battleship HMS Duke of York, four cruisers, and eight destroyers, including the Norwegian Stord, intercepted the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst which was attempting to raid a pair of Arctic convoys.  The action was fought in appalling weather, with radar proving invaluable to the Royal Navy.  The cruisers successfully drove Scharnhorst away from the merchantmen, and Duke of York arrived in a gale to finish the battlecruiser off - only 36 crew survived from the Scharnhorst.  HMS Belfast was one of the RN cruisers engaged in the action, which was the last in which a Royal Navy capital ship fought an enemy capital ship.

1948: Bertrand Russell delivered the first Reith Lecture on the BBC, entitled Authority and the Individual.

December 27th:

1571: Birth of Johannes Kepler, German astronomer who discovered and confirmed Copernicus’s theory that the earth and planets circle the sun in elliptical orbits.

1773: Birth of Sir George Cayley, English pioneer of the study of aerodynamics who built the first successful glider to be flown by a man - his reluctant coachman - in 1853. One of his later inventions was the caterpillar tractor.

1822: Birth of Louis Pasteur, French chemist and bacteriologist who discovered that microorganisms cause fermentation and infection and later developed a vaccine for rabies. His pupil Lister developed this research into the field of antiseptic surgery.

1831: Charles Darwin set sail in the Beagle from Plymouth on his voyage of scientific discovery.

1904: The first performance in London of James Barrie’s Peter Pan with Nina Boucicault as the first Peter and Gerald du Maurier as Captain Hook.

1904: The world’s first state subsidized theatre, the Abbey in Dublin, opened with two short plays, one by Yeats, the other by Lady Gregory.

1927: Broadway saw the first performance of Jerome Kern’s musical Show Boat, presented by Florenz Ziegfeld. It introduced songs including ‘Ol’ Man River’ and ‘Bill’ (with words by P G Wodehouse).

1941: British and Norwegian commandos mounted the first major Combined Operation, raiding the Norwegian island of Vaagso north of Bergen.  The raid - Operation Archery - was intended to tie down German troops in Norway and distract them from operations in the north against Murmansk.  Specific targets on the island included the harbour, a power station, fish factories and an oil facility.  The island was relatively well defended by German troops, particularly on the small island of Malloy which guarded the entrance to the Ulvesund, and South Vaagso town.
The attack commenced at 0848 hrs, with a hurricane bombardment of the German positions on Malloy from the cruiser HMS Kenya and four destroyers.  Twelve Hampden bombers from 50 Squadron RAF bombed coastal defences and dropped smoke bombs to cover the approach of the landing craft launched from the troopships Prince Charles and Prince Leopold.  Some 580 Commandos and Royal Norwegian Army troops were landed.  RAF Blenheim bombers mounted diversionary attacks on German shipping elsewhere on the Norwegian coast and suppressed the nearest air base.  Six Blenheims and two of the Hampdens were lost.
German resistance was greater than expected - it later emerged that some front-line infantry were on leave in South Vaagso.  After five hours of heavy fighting, the British and Norwegian forces withdrew, having killed some 100 Germans, captured a similar number, and destroyed all the valuable facilities together with several ships.  Furthermore, many Norwegian men on the island took the opportunity to return to the UK as volunteers for the Free Norwegian Forces.

1943: The Australian 7th Division captured Shaggy Ridge in New Guinea after four months of heavy fighting.

1945: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) was established in Washington.

1975: The Sex Discrimination and Equal Pay Acts came into effect in Britain.

1984: The four police officers accused of killing the pro-Solidarity priest, Father Jerzy Popieluszko, went on trial in Poland.

raveydavey wrote:
December 27th:

1571: Birth of Johannes Kepler, German astronomer who discovered and confirmed Copernicus’s theory that the earth and planets circle the sun in elliptical orbits.

1773: Birth of Sir George Cayley, English pioneer of the study of aerodynamics who built the first successful glider to be flown by a man - his reluctant coachman - in 1853. One of his later inventions was the caterpillar tractor.

1822: Birth of Louis Pasteur, French chemist and bacteriologist who discovered that microorganisms cause fermentation and infection and later developed a vaccine for rabies. His pupil Lister developed this research into the field of antiseptic surgery.

1831: Charles Darwin set sail in the Beagle from Plymouth on his voyage of scientific discovery.

1904: The first performance in London of James Barrie’s Peter Pan with Nina Boucicault as the first Peter and Gerald du Maurier as Captain Hook.

1904: The world’s first state subsidized theatre, the Abbey in Dublin, opened with two short plays, one by Yeats, the other by Lady Gregory.

1927: Broadway saw the first performance of Jerome Kern’s musical Show Boat, presented by Florenz Ziegfeld. It introduced songs including ‘Ol’ Man River’ and ‘Bill’ (with words by P G Wodehouse).

1941: British and Norwegian commandos mounted the first major Combined Operation, raiding the Norwegian island of Vaagso north of Bergen.  The raid - Operation Archery - was intended to tie down German troops in Norway and distract them from operations in the north against Murmansk.  Specific targets on the island included the harbour, a power station, fish factories and an oil facility.  The island was relatively well defended by German troops, particularly on the small island of Malloy which guarded the entrance to the Ulvesund, and South Vaagso town.
The attack commenced at 0848 hrs, with a hurricane bombardment of the German positions on Malloy from the cruiser HMS Kenya and four destroyers.  Twelve Hampden bombers from 50 Squadron RAF bombed coastal defences and dropped smoke bombs to cover the approach of the landing craft launched from the troopships Prince Charles and Prince Leopold.  Some 580 Commandos and Royal Norwegian Army troops were landed.  RAF Blenheim bombers mounted diversionary attacks on German shipping elsewhere on the Norwegian coast and suppressed the nearest air base.  Six Blenheims and two of the Hampdens were lost.
German resistance was greater than expected - it later emerged that some front-line infantry were on leave in South Vaagso.  After five hours of heavy fighting, the British and Norwegian forces withdrew, having killed some 100 Germans, captured a similar number, and destroyed all the valuable facilities together with several ships.  Furthermore, many Norwegian men on the island took the opportunity to return to the UK as volunteers for the Free Norwegian Forces.

1943: The Australian 7th Division captured Shaggy Ridge in New Guinea after four months of heavy fighting.

1945: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) was established in Washington.

1975: The Sex Discrimination and Equal Pay Acts came into effect in Britain.

1984: The four police officers accused of killing the pro-Solidarity priest, Father Jerzy Popieluszko, went on trial in Poland.

Yes, and we're still not equal! Very Happy

December 28th:

1846: Iowa became the 29th state of the Union.

1856: Birth of (Thomas) Woodrow Wilson, 28th US President, elected 1912 and 1916, who was one of the founders of the League of Nations.

1879: The Tay railway bridge collapsed when the Edinburgh to Dundee train was crossing. The engine and carriages plummeted into the icy river below killing 90 people.

1904: The first weather reports relayed by wireless telegraphy were published in London.

1908: An earthquake killed over 75,000 at Messina in Sicily.

1926: At Melbourne, the highest score in a single innings in first-class cricket was 1107, hit by Victoria. New South Wales bowler, Arthur Mailey, ended with a world record 362 runs for four wickets.

1940: The Australian 6th Division took its place in the front line in the Western Desert, relieving 4th Indian Division which was needed for the East African campaign.  The 6th Division soon proved as effective as the very experienced Indian formation, leading the successful attack on Bardia.

1943: Canadian troops liberated the port of Ortona on Italy's Adriatic coast after intense street fighting.  In the Bay of Biscay, the cruisers HMS Enterprise and HMS Glasgow caught a force of ten German destroyers, which had sortied in an effort to escort home a German blockade-runner, Alsterufer.  Alsterufer had, however, been sunk the previous day by Coastal Command aircraft.  Enterprise and Glasgow sank three of the destroyers, then survived retaliatory strikes by the Luftwaffe.

1950: The first British national park was designated: the Peak District.

1963: The last That Was The Week That Was, television’s first satirical show, was broadcast by the BBC. It was pulled off while still commanding huge audiences because 1964 was to be election year; it was felt the show could influence voters.

December 29th:

1720: The Theatre Royal Haymarket opened.

1721: Birth of Jeanne Antoinette, Marquise de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV, a woman of fashion who attracted the eye of the King. She became involved in matters of state and also diverted its wealth to supply her own lavish lifestyle.

1808: Birth of Andrew Johnson, 17th US President, the former military governor of Tennessee who became Vice-President in 1865 and took over the presidency on Lincoln’s assassination. His unpopular policies led to impeachment proceedings being brought against him but he was acquitted.

1809: Birth of William (Ewart) Gladstone, four times British Prime Minister in 1868-74 which allowed him to carry out major reforms. He was elected in 1880-85, and again in 1866. When his Home Rule Bill was defeated, he resigned. He became Prime Minister again in 1892 and resigned two years later, this time when his Home Rule Bill was rejected by the Lords.

1845: Texas became the 28th state of the Union.

1860: Australian forces were deployed for the first time overseas, a detachment of sailors from the steam sloop Victoria taking part in an engagement ashore during the closing stages of the Second New Zealand War.  In Britain, the Royal Navy's first ironclad warship, HMS Warrior, was launched at Blackwall on the Thames.  The French had built the first armoured warship, Gloire, the previous year, but had proved unable to build an iron hull, resorting instead to armour plating over a wooden hull.  Warrior in contrast boasted an iron hull, wood only being used for shock absorption behind the armour.  Warrior is preserved at Portsmouth Dockyard.

1877: During the Ninth Cape Frontier War, a trooper of the Frontier Mounted Police was dismounted during a skirmish with tribesmen from the Ngquika clan of the Xhosa, and unable to escape.  Spotting his predicament, Major Hans Moore of the 88th Regiment galloped up to attempt a rescue, charging into the midst of the enemy force.  He proved unable to save the trooper's life, and had to fight his way back to safety, being wounded by an assegai in the process.  Moore was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) for his gallant effort.

1890: The last major battle between US forces and the Indians took place at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, when 200 Sioux Indians under Chief Big Foot were massacred by Colonel Forsyth’s 7th Cavalry.

1895: The Jameson Raid into the Transvaal to aid the Uitlanders (mainly British settlers) in the Boer Colony, began.

1911: Birth of Emil Julius Klaus Fuchs, German physicist and spy who settled in Britain in 1933 and studied at Edinburgh and Bristol Universities. During the war he was involved in the Manhattan Project - the development of the atomic bomb - but he was meeting Soviet agents and passing them secrets. He was later charged with spying, confessed and served nine years in prison.

1911: Sun Yat-sen became the first president of a republican China following the revolution.

1930: Radio Luxembourg began broadcasting.

1937: The Irish Republic changed its name to Eire as the new constitution was implemented.

1940: German bombers dropped 10,000 bombs on London on one of the worst nights ever during ‘The Battle of Britain’. The City of London suffered heavy damage during a large Luftwaffe raid on the night 29/30 December.  The famous picture of St Paul's Dome undamaged in the smoke and fire was taken that night, but eight other churches built by Sir Christopher Wren were burnt out along with many other public buildings.  Some 20,000 regular and auxiliary firemen from all over the London area fought the fires.

1944: A serious fire broke out in a rocket magazine in Mogadishu.  Captain Latutin of the Somerset Light Infantry suffered severe burns whilst successfully rescuing two men and attempting in vain to rescue a boy caught in the blaze.  Latutin died of his injuries the following day, and was awarded a posthumous George Cross (GC).

1951: The first transistor hearing aid went on sale in the US.

1952: The coelacanth, a prehistoric fish believed to be extinct, was caught off the coast of South Africa.

1972: The 16 survivors from the crashed Uruguayan Fairchild F227 which had been chartered by an amateur rugby team en route to Montevideo, were rescued on the Andes. The crash had taken place on 13 October, and it was only later that the 16 revealed their survival had been possible because they ate the flesh of their dead companions.

1989: Vaclav Havel was sworn in as President of Czechoslovakia.
30 Mill

1721: Birth of Jeanne Antoinette, Marquise de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV, a woman of fashion who attracted the eye of the King. She became involved in matters of state and also diverted its wealth to supply her own lavish lifestyle.

So, in effect, invented modern day politics and councils

1860: Australian forces were deployed for the first time overseas, a detachment of sailors from the steam sloop Victoria taking part in an engagement ashore during the closing stages of the Second New Zealand War.

See!! Victoria, not New South Whales, leading the way!!

December 30th:

1460: During the Wars of the Roses, Richard, Duke of York, was killed in battle at Sandal Castle near Wakefield.  However, undeterred, his sons continued the fight by the House of York against the House of Lancaster.

1672: The first public concert was held in London. The musicians performed behind a curtain while patrons ate cakes and drank ale. It sounds very civilised!

1851 The artist JMW Turner was buried, at his own request, in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral.

1879: The first performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance at Paignton, Devon.

1880: Transvaal became a republic with Paul Kruger as the first president.

1887: A petition addressed to Queen Victoria with over one million names of women appealing for public houses to be closed on Sundays was handed to the Home Secretary.

1915: The armoured cruiser HMS Natal blew up whilst moored in Cromarty Firth when a fire spread to a magazine and 421 crew were lost with the ship.  The Protection of Military Remains Act was passed in 1986, but its application to wrecks and sea graves has not previously been enforced.  Following extensive consultation with both veterans' associations and the diving community, it was announced in the House of Commons on 9 November 2001 that some wrecks were to be designated Controlled Sites, with all diving prohibited without a specific licence, or Protected Places, where diving will be permitted but on a strict "Do Not Touch" basis.  HMS Natal was included in the initial list of sixteen wrecks to be designated as Controlled Sites.

1922: Russia officially became the USSR - the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

1932 The completion of the electrification of the London to Brighton railway line.

1944: Australian troops captured Pearl Ridge, Bougainville.

1946 Football league players threatened to strike over the proposed maximum wage of £11 a week. The mercenaries - no good will come of this, mark my words!

1948: The first performance of Cole Porter’s Kiss Me Kate in New York with songs ‘Wunderbar’ and ‘Always True to You In My Fashion’.

1954 British athlete Chris Chataway became the first winner of the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year award.

1956 The last passenger train service on the Liverpool Overhead Railway, after 63 years in operation.

1973: The head of Marks and Spencer’s, Lord Sieff, was wounded by an Arab gunman at his home in St John’s Wood.

1986 According to new plans by the government, more than 200 canaries would be 'phased out' of Britain's mining pits. New electronic devices would replace canaries as detectors of harmful gasses, because they were said to be cheaper in the long run and more effective.

December 31st: New Year’s Eve, and Hogmanay in Scotland (but not in Inverness, where they've just cancelled tonights festivities due to it snowing...wusses!).

1491: Birth of Jacques Cartier, French navigator who explored the St Lawrence river and named the site of Montreal during his Canadian explorations.

1687: The first Huguenots set sail from France for the Cape of Good Hope where they would escape religious persecution and create the South African wine industry with the vines they took with them on the voyage.

1695: The window tax was imposed in Britain which resulted in many being bricked up, evidence which remains to this day.

1720: Birth of Bonnie Prince Charlie (Charles Edward Stuart), also known as the ‘Young Pretender’, in Rome. With his followers he landed in Scotland in 1745, capturing Edinburgh and setting up court at the Palace of Holyrood. He scored a further victory at Prestonpans, but his decision to march on London brought him head on with the British army and defeat at Culloden.

1823: The Royal Navy facilities at Plymouth were given the name Devonport, until then simply known as Dock.

1880: Birth of George Marshall, US general and statesman who directed the Marshall Aid plan to help the post-war recovery of Europe.

1890: Ellis Island in New York was opened as the immigration depot to handle the ‘huddled masses’.

1911: Marie Curie received her second Nobel prize, unprecedented in the history of the award.

1917: Sugar was rationed in Britain as a result of shortages during the First World War, the first time food rationing had ever been imposed in Britain on a national scale.

1923: The chimes of Big Ben were broadcast by the BBC for the first time.

1935: Charles Darrow patented his board game ‘Monopoly’, which he had first invented in 1933.

1938: In Indianapolis, Dr R N Harger’s ‘Drunkometer’ was officially used to breathalyse drivers by the Indianapolis Police Department.

1942: A Royal Navy destroyer force under Captain Sherbrooke in HMS Onslow were escorting convoy JW.51B in the Barents Sea bound for Russia when the German pocket battleship Lutzow, heavy cruiser Hipper and six destroyers attacked.  Sherbrooke led out five destroyers to drive them off.  Despite the massive German superiority in firepower, the destroyers held them off for three hours until the light cruisers Jamaica and Sheffield arrived to help.  Sherbrooke was badly wounded in the face early in the action and partially blinded, with his left eye dislodged, but nevertheless continued to direct the defence.  HMS Achates and HMS Bramble were sunk, but the Germans, under orders not to risk their capital ships, eventually turned away and the convoy escaped.  Captain Sherbrooke received the Victoria Cross.

1960: The farthing ceased to be legal tender in Britain at midnight.

1968: The Russian supersonic airliner TU-144 made its inaugural flight from Moscow to Alma Ata, several months ahead of the Anglo-French Concorde.

1973: The three-day week began in Britain as a result of power strikes; it would lead to the downfall of Prime Minister Edward Heath and his government.

1988: At midnight, when the Queen’s New Year honours list was revealed, world champion Eric Bristow - ‘the Crafty Cockney’ - became the first ever darts player to receive an MBE.

I've stopped updating this thread regularly, but an event happened today that makes an occasional post worthwhile.

12th March 1941: The SS Politician ran aground off the Outer Hebrides - and so was born the story that became the film Whiskey Galore.

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