08 June 2007

This day in history: 8 Jun

1861: Tennessee became the 11th state to secede from the Union.

1862: General Richard S Ewell's three Confederate brigades - about 5,000 men - held off a rather feeble attack by General John C Frémont, despite being outnumbered two to one, at the Battle of Cross Keys (at the south end of the Shenandoah Valley).

1940: Aircraft carrier HMS Glorious* and destroyers HMS Acasta and HMS Ardent, en route from Norway to England, encountered German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. Acasta scored a torpedo hit on Scharnhorst, causing serious damage, but all three British ships were sunk; there were only 46 survivors of the over 1500 men on board.

1941: Operation EXPORTER - the Allied invasion of Vichy-controlled Syria and Lebanon, conducted mainly by Australian forces - began.

1942: Japanese submarines I-21 and I-24 shelled the Australian cities of Newcastle and Sydney.

1959: The United States Postal Service and USS Barbero (SSG 317) experimented with the delivery of mail via Missile Mail.

1966: North American XB-70 Valkyrie prototype number two was destroyed in a mid-air collision with a North American F-104N Starfighter during a photo shoot. The F-104's pilot (NASA chief test pilot Joseph A Walker) and the XB-70's co-pilot (USAF test pilot Carl Cross) were killed.

1967: 34 were killed and 171 wounded when Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats attacked USS Liberty (AGTR 5) in the eastern Mediterranean. Liberty's commanding officer, Commander William L McGonagle, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his role in defending his ship.

1968: James Earl Ray was arrested in London for the murder of Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

1982: Argentinian aircraft caught British ships unloading at Fitzroy and Bluff Cove, in the Falklands. HMS Plymouth took some damage, but RFA Sir Tristram and RFA Sir Galahad were hit much harder. At least 45 men, mainly Welsh Guards, died aboard Sir Galahad, and another 150 were wounded.

2006: Work on an urban-renewal project in Broadmead, the main "high street" shopping district of Bristol, England, was halted when workers discovered what was thought to be an unexploded German bomb from World War II. The "bomb" turned out to be just a large piece of reinforced concrete.

Harthacanute (1018–1042), Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales, KG (1330–1376), Thomas Paine (1737–1809), Andrew Jackson (1767–1845), Cochise (ca 1812–1874) and Robert Taylor (1911-1969) died on this date.

And happy birthday to Giovanni Cassini (1625–1712), Tomaso Albinoni (1671–1751), Robert Alexander Schumann (1810–1856), Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959), John W Campbell (1910–1971), Francis Crick OM FRS (1916–2004), Jerry Stiller (1927-TBD), Dana Wynter (1931-TBD), James Darren (1936-TBD), Nancy Sinatra (1940-TBD), Bonnie Tyler (1951-TBD) and Scott Adams (1957-TBD).

* The commanding officer of HMS Glorious was Captain Guy D'Oyly-Hughes DSO and bar, DSC, RN, a former submariner whom I mentioned here.

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