11 June 2007

This day in history: 11 Jun

1429: The Battle of Jargeau - Joan of Arc's first offensive battle - began. It ended the next day in a French victory.

1509: King Henry VIII of England and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, were married.

1727: George II became King of Great Britain on the death of his father, George I.

1776: The Continental Congress appointed Thomas Jefferson (Virginia), John Adams (Massachusetts), Benjamin Franklin (Pennsylvania), Roger Sherman (Connecticut), and Robert Livingston (New York) to a committee to draft a declaration of independence.

1864: The Battle of Trevilian Station, the largest all-cavalry battle of the Civil War, began when Major General Philip Sheridan, striking at the Virginia Central Railroad, was intercepted by two divisions under Major Generals Wade Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee. At one point during the day, a Union artillery battery was firing at the 10th New York Cavalry Regiment; Sergeant Major H E Farnsworth crossed a ridge, swept by the fire of both armies, in plain view to deliver a message to the battery. The battle ended the following day in a Confederate victory. Farnsworth and three other men were awarded the Medal of Honor.*

1871: After being rebuffed during their efforts to inquire into the fate of merchant ship General Sherman, American forces attacked the Korean forts on Ganghwa Island, near Inchon. Six sailors and five Marines from USS Colorado, USS Benicia and USS Alaska were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions during the attack.

1901: The Cook Islands, a British protectorate since 1888, were annexed by New Zealand.

1940: The day after Italy declared war on the Allies was a busy day in the air. The first air raid against Malta - 35 Savoia Marchetti SM79 Sparviero bombers, flying from Sicily with an escort of 21 Macchi MC200 Saetta fighters - was launched against the RAF airfield at Hal Far, the Naval dockyards at Valetta, and the RAF seaplane base at Kalafrana. The only fighters available in Malta were six Gloster Sea Gladiators; three of them took off and, despite the odds, attacked. No aircraft were lost by either side, though one SM79 was damaged.
The first air raid against Italy was conducted by 36 Armstrong Whitworth Whitley bombers from No 10, 51, 77 and 102 Squadrons. 23 were unable to get past the Alps, due to bad weather, and two crashed in France, but nine bombed Turin and two bombed Genoa.
And 26 Bristol Blenheim bombers from No 44, 55 and 113 Squadrons, operating from Egypt, attack the Italian airfield at El Adem, Libya.

1955: Pierre Levegh's Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR collided with Lance Macklin's Austin-Healey 100 at Le Mans. 82 people were killed and at least 100 injured after Levegh's car flew off the track and sprayed parts across the spectators.

1962: Frank Morris, John Anglin and Clarence Anglin became the only prisoners to successfully escape from the prison on Alcatraz Island, though it is believed they probably drowned in San Francisco Bay.

1963: Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc, protesting the lack of religious freedom in South Vietnam, burned himself with gasoline in a busy Saigon intersection.

1970: After being appointed on May 15, Anna Mae Hays, Army Nurse Corps, and Elizabeth P. Hoisington, Women's Army Corps, were officially promoted to brigadier general, becoming the first females to reach that rank in the US Army.

2001: Timothy McVeigh was executed for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing.

2002: The US House of Representatives acknowledged Antonio Meucci as the first inventor of the telephone.

2004: The Cassini-Huygens probe made its closest flyby (about 1285 miles) of Saturn's moon Phoebe.

In addition to George I (1660–1727), Thich Quang Duc (1897-1963) and McVeigh (1968-2001), Sir John Franklin FRGS (1786–1847), Klemens Wenzel F├╝rst von Metternich (1773–1859), Robert E Howard (1906–1936), Dan Beard (1850–1941), John Wayne (1907–1979), Karen Ann Quinlan (1954–1985), Chesley Bonestell (1888–1986), DeForest Kelley (1920–1999) and David Brinkley (1920–2003) died on this date.

And happy birthday to Anne Neville (1456–1485), Dr Joseph Warren (1741–1775), John Constable (1776–1837), Richard Strauss (1864–1949), Jacques-Yves Cousteau (1910–1997), Richard Todd (1919-TBD), Gene Wilder (1933-TBD) and Jud Strunk (1936-1981).

* Two more men were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions during the second day of the battle.

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