15 August 2007

This day in history: 15 Aug

1040: Duncan I, King of Alba, was killed in battle with his cousins Macbeth, Mormaer of Moray, and Earl Thorfinn of Orkney, at Pitgaveney, near Elgin; Macbeth (hero of Shakespeare's play) took the throne.

1057: Macbeth was defeated and killed at the Battle of Lumphanan, in Aberdeenshire. He was succeeded as king by Malcolm III Canmore, son of Duncan I.

1599: Irish forces led by Hugh Roe O'Donnell defeated English forces, led by Sir Conyers Clifford, at Curlew Pass, in County Roscommon.

1843: Tivoli Gardens, one of the oldest extant amusement parks in the world, opened in Copenhagen, Denmark.

1914: The Panama Canal opened to traffic, with the the cargo ship SS Ancon making the first transit.

1917: HM Armed Smack Nelson was engaged in fishing in the North Sea when a U-boat surfaced and attacked her with gunfire. Skipper Thomas Crisp DSC, Royal Naval Reserve, was hit and partially disemboweled by the seventh shell. Despite the severe wound, he remained conscious and continued to command his ship, fighting until the ammunition was almost exhausted and the ship was sinking. He refused to abandon ship with the rest of the crew, his last request being that he might be thrown overboard. Crisp was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.

1944: Allied forces landed in southern France (Operation DRAGOON). Sergeant James P Connor, 7th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division, landed at "Red Beach," near St Tropez, and led his platoon in clearing a vastly superior enemy force from strongly entrenched positions on Cape Cavalaire. Though seriously wounded by a mine which killed his platoon leader, Sgt Connor refused medical aid and led the platoon across several thousand yards of mine-saturated beach through intense fire, personally shooting and killing two snipers. The platoon sergeant was killed and Sgt Connor became platoon leader. Wounded twice more, he discovered that he was unable to stand, but continued to direct his platoon from his prone position. The platoon, though reduced to less than one-third of its original 36 men, killed seven Germans and captured forty, along with three machine guns, and took all their assigned objectives. Connor was awarded the Medal of Honor.

1945: Emperor Hirohito's announcement of Japan's acceptance of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration was broadcast.* (The actual surrender documents were signed in Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945.)
That same day, gasoline rationing ended in the United States.

1965: The Beatles performed for a crowd of over 55,000 people at Shea Stadium, in Queens (New York City).

1977: The Wow! signal was detected by the Big Ear radio telescope at Ohio State University.

1995: Shannon Faulkner became the first female student at The Citadel; she resigned after one week.

In addition to Duncan I (1001-1040) and MacBeth (1005-1057), Alexius I Comnenus (1048–1118), Philippa of Hainault (c 1314–1369), Will Rogers (1879–1935), Wiley Post (1898–1935) and Dame Te Atairangikaahu ONZ DBE (1931–2006) died on this date.

And happy birthday to Blind Jack Metcalf (1717-1810), Napoleone Buonaparte (1769–1821), Sir Walter Scott, Bt (1771–1832), Edith Nesbit (1858-1924), Ethel Barrymore (1879–1959), Elizabeth Bolden (1890-2006), Karl-Friedrich Merten (1905-1993), Julia Child (1912–2004), Huntz Hall (1919–1999), HRH The Princess Royal (1950-TBD), and Terry Daniher (1957-TBD).

* It was still 14 August in the United States, so VJ Day is celebrated on that date.

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