18 June 2008

This day in history: 18 Jun

1429: French forces led by Jeanne d'Arc crushed the main English army, under Sir John Fastolf and Sir John Talbot, at the Battle of Patay.

1812: President James Madison signed a declaration of war with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, beginning the War of 1812.

1815: British and allied forces commanded by Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington and Gebhard von Blücher defeated the French (under the Emperor Napoleon and Marshal Michel Ney) in the Battle of Waterloo. This led to Napoleon's abdicating the throne of France for the second and final time, and the restoration of Louis XVIII.

1855: British forces attacked the Russian Redan at Sebastopol, in the Crimea, but were forced to withdraw. Over a dozen Victoria Crosses were awarded to participants.

1928: Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and five other men disappeared whilst flying on a rescue mission. They were looking for survivors of Umberto Nobile's dirigible Italia, which had crashed on 25 May on the way home from the North Pole.

That same day, a Fokker F.VIIb/3m aircraft piloted by Wilmer Stultz landed at Burry Port, Wales. Stultz had taken off from Trepassey Harbor, Newfoundland, the preceding day with co-pilot/mechanic Louis Gordon and passenger Amelia Earhart.

1940: Prime Minister Winston Churchill addressed the House of Commons:
What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour."

That same day, Charles de Gaulle broadcast the Appeal of June 18, declaring that the war for France was not yet over, and rallying the country in support of the Resistance.

1983: Space shuttle Challenger was launched from Cape Canaveral on its second flight (mission STS-7). On board were commander Robert L Crippen, pilot Frederick H Hauck, and mission specialists John M Fabian, Sally K Ride and Norman E Thagard. Ride was the first American woman in space.

Piet Heyn (1577–1629), Sir Thomas Picton (1758–1815), Max Immelmann (1890–1916) and Georgi Konstantinovich Zhukov GCB (1896-1974) died on this date.

And happy birthday to Ludwig Freiherr von der Tann-Rathsamhausen* (1815-1881), Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova (1901—1918), Bud Collyer (1908–1969), Red Adair (1915–2004), Richard Boone (1917-1981), Sir Paul McCartney MBE (1942-TBD) and Blake Shelton (1976-TBD).

* Link to a page in German - sorry.

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