22 June 2007

This day in history: 22 Jun

1893: Battleships HMS Victoria (flagship of the British Mediterranean Fleet) and HMS Camperdown collided during manoeuvres near Tripoli, Lebanon. 358 men, including Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon KCB, Mediterranean Fleet commander, died when Victoria sank.*

1911: George V, who had been King of England since his father's death on 6 May 1910, was crowned at Westminster Abbey.

1916: British engineers were digging a mine beneath the German trenches near Givenchy, France, when the enemy detonated their own counter-mine. Five of the miners were trapped in the tunnel by the resulting cave-in. After digging for a whole day, a rescue party finally made contact through a small shaft. Three of the trapped men were able to crawl to safety, but a fourth was too seriously injured to get through the hole. The fifth member of the team, Sapper William Hackett, 254th Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers, insisted on staying with him. There was another cave-in shortly afterwards, and by the time a fresh tunnel had been dug, both men had died. Hackett was awarded the Victoria Cross.

1918: 86 people were killed and 127 injured when an empty troop train rear-ended a circus train near Hammond, Indiana.

1940: The Franco–German armistice was signed at Compiegne, in the same railway carriage in which the armistice ending World War I had been signed. France was divided into two parts: an occupied zone controlled by the Germans, and an un-occupied zone controlled by the French Government under Petain in Vichy.

1941: Unternehmen Barbarossa (Operation Barbarossa), the German invasion of the Soviet Union, began.

1944: Operatsiya Bagration (Operation Bagration), the Soviet offensive against German forces in the Byelorussian SSR, began.

1978: Charon, the largest satellite of the dwarf planet Pluto, was discovered by astronomer James Christy, working at the US Naval Observatory in Washington DC.

Ghiyath al-Kashi (1380–1429), Judy Garland (1922–1969), Fred Astaire (1899–1987) and Ann Landers (1918-2002) died on this date.

And happy birthday to George Vancouver (1757-1798), H Rider Haggard (1856-1925), Maximilian Graf von Spee (1861-1914), Robert Ritter von Greim (1892-1945), Erich Maria Remarque (1898-1970), John Dillinger (1903-1934), Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906-2001), Paul Frees (1920-1986), Charles Augustus Lindbergh III (1930–1932), Kris Kristofferson (1936-TBD), Meryl Streep (1949-TBD), Lindsay Wagner (1949-TBD) and Bruce Campbell (1958-TBD).

* The small photo shows Camperdown shortly after the collision. The large photo shows Victoria sinking at right, attended by HMS Nile.

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