30 May 2007

This day in history: 30 May

1431: 19-year-old Jeanne d'Arc was burned at the stake in Rouen, France.

1536: King Henry VIII of England married his third wife, Jane Seymour.

1574: Henry III became King of France on the death of his brother, Charles IX.

1854: The Kansas-Nebraska Act became law, establishing the US territories of Nebraska and Kansas.

1868: Decoration Day - the predecessor of the modern Memorial Day - was observed in the United States for the first time, per John A Logan's General Order No 11 of 5 May.
That same day, Privates Edgar R Aston and William G Cubberly, L Troop, 8th U.S. Cavalry, with another man, volunteered to search for a wagon passage out of a 4000-foot valley where an infantry column was trapped. The three men passed through six miles of hostile Apache terrain looking for a passage. On their return trip down the canyon, they were attacked by Apaches, who were successfully held at bay. Aston and Cubberly were awarded the Medal of Honor.

1914: RMS Aquitania, at the time Cunard's largest ocean liner at 45,647 tons, sailed on her maiden voyage from Liverpool, England, to New York City.

1941: At Sphakia, Crete, a platoon commanded by Second Lieutenant Charles H Upham, 2nd NZ Expeditionary Force, was ordered to deal with a German party which had advanced down a ravine to near Force Headquarters. Upham climbed the steep hill to the west of the ravine, placed his men in positions on the slope and himself went to the top with a Bren Gun and two riflemen. At a range of 500 yards he shot 22 of the German soldiers, and caused the remainder to disperse in panic. For this, and for his earlier actions at Maleme and Galatos, Upham was awarded his first Victoria Cross.

1942: The first Allied 1000-bomber raid was launched, with Cologne as its target.

1958: The bodies of unidentified soldiers killed in action during World War II and the Korean War were buried at the Tomb of the Unknowns, in Arlington National Cemetery.

1967: The eastern region of Nigeria declared independence as the Republic of Biafra, starting a civil war.

1971: Mariner 9 was launched from Cape Canaveral. The first spacecraft to orbit another planet, it arrived at Mars on 14 Nov 71; though the mission terminated on 27 Oct 72, Mariner 9 is expected to remain in orbit until 2022.

In addition to Jeanne d'Arc (1412-1431) and King Charles IX (1550-1574), Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640), Arnold Joost van Keppel, 1st Earl of Albemarle, KG (c 1670–1718), Wilbur Wright (1867–1912), Tōgō Heihachirō OM (1848-1934), Georg Ritter von Trapp (1880-1947), Leó Szilárd (1898–1964), Claude Rains (1889–1967) and Tex Beneke (1914-2000) died on this date.

And happy birthday to Mel Blanc (1908–1989), Benny Goodman (1909–1986), Hal Clement (1922-2003), Clint Walker (1927-TBD), Alexey Arkhipovich Leonov (1934-TBD), Meredith MacRae (1944-2000), Colm Meaney (1953-TBD) and Wynonna Judd (1964-TBD).

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