29 September 2007

This day in history: 29 Sep

1789: On the last day of its first session, the US Congress passed an act to establish the United States Army, replacing the Continental Army which had been formed in 1775.

1829: London's Metropolitan Police Force, headed by Sir Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne, was founded.

1865: Union forces captured New Market Heights, south of Richmond.

1907: The cornerstone was laid for Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC.

1911: Italy declared war on the Ottoman Empire. The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne on 18 October 1912. In the meantime, Italian forces had taken the Ottoman provinces of Tripoli and Cyrenaica, in Africa, which were combined to form Libya.

1918: The Hindenburg Line was broken by Allied forces.

That same day, Bulgaria signed an armistice.

1935: 5th Battalion (Queen Victoria's Own Corps of Guides), 12th Frontier Force Regiment, was operating against Mohmand tribesmen on the Northwest Frontier. When the battalion commander was unable to get information from forward troops, Captain Godfrey Meynell MC volunteered to go forward. He found the troops - some 30 men with two Lewis guns - on the objective, surrounded on three sides by a superior force of enemy. Meynell took charge of the defence, but the enemy overwhelmed the position; both machine guns were damaged, and hand-to-hand fighting ensued. Meynell was killed, and all of his men were killed or wounded, but they inflicted such heavy casualties that the enemy were unable to exploit their success. Meynell was awarded the Victoria Cross.*

1938: Britain, France, Germany and Italy signed the Munich Agreement, allowing Germany to occupy the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia.

1943: US General Dwight D Eisenhower and Italian Marshal Pietro Badoglio signed the Italian instrument of surrender aboard battleship HMS Nelson, anchored in Valletta Harbour, Malta.

1962: Alouette 1, the first Canadian satellite, was launched by NASA from Vandenberg AFB, California. (Alouette 2 followed in 1965.)

1988: Space shuttle Atlantis (Frederick H Hauck, Richard O Covey, John M Lounge, George D Nelson and David C Hilmers) was launched from Cape Canaveral as mission STS-26 - the first shuttle flight after the Challenger disaster of 28 January 1986.

1990: Washington National Cathedral was completed.

2004: Michael W Melvill became the first commercial astronaut when SpaceShipOne performed its first successful spaceflight. This was the first of two flights needed to win the Ansari X Prize; the second was made a few days later, on 4 October.

That same day, asteroid 4179 Toutatis passed within four lunar distances of Earth.

In addition to Captain Meynell (1904-1935), Edward Everett Horton (1886–1970) and Charles Addams (1912–1988) died on this date.

And happy birthday to Don Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra (1547–1616), Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571–1610), Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive of Plassey, KB (1725-1774), Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, KB (1758–1805), Enrico Fermi (1901–1954), Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz (1904-1973), Greer Garson CBE (1904-1996), Gene Autry (1907–1998), Trevor Howard CBE (1913–1988), Stan Berenstain (1923-2005), Anita Ekberg (1931-TBD), Jerry Lee Lewis (1935-TBD) and Larry Linville (1939–2000).

* This was the only Victoria Cross presented by King Edward VIII during his brief reign.

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