01 April 2010

This day in history: 1 Apr

1858: At Jhansi, India, Lieutenant Hugh S Cochrane, 86th Regiment (the Royal Irish Rifles), dashed forward under heavy musketry and artillery fire to capture an enemy cannon. He also showed conspicuous gallantry in attacking the enemy's rear guard, despite having three horses shot from under him. At Betwa, India, Lieutenant James Leith, 14th Light Dragoons (The 14th King's Hussars), made a single-handed charge to rescue a fellow officer who had been surrounded by a large number of rebel infantry. Cochrane and Leith were awarded the Victoria Cross.

1863: Captain John S Mosby, with approximately 70 men, was attacked shortly after dawn at Miskel's Farm, in Loudoun County, Virginia, by 150 men of the 1st Vermont Cavalry. Despite having just been awakened as the Vermonters approached, the Confederates killed or wounded 24 of the enemy and captured 82 prisoners, along with 95 fully equipped horses, with the loss of only one man killed and three wounded.

1873: 562 people died when the White Star Line's SS Atlantic sank after hitting an underwater rock off Nova Scotia.

1893: The US Navy rank of Chief Petty Officer was created.

1918: The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) were combined to form the Royal Air Force.

1924: Adolf Hitler was sentenced to five years in jail for his participation in the Beer Hall Putsch. He only served nine months of the sentence, during which time he wrote Mein Kampf.

That same day, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) was formed.

1934: Patrolmen H D Murphy and Edward Bryan Wheeler, Texas Highway Patrol, were killed in a gunfight with Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.

1944: 40 people were killed when American aircraft accidentally bombed the Swiss city of Schaffhausen.

1945: United States troops landed on Okinawa (Operation ICEBERG).

1946: A tsunami, presumably caused by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake near the Aleutian Islands, killed 159 people (mostly in Hilo, on the "Big Island" of Hawai`i) when it struck the Hawaiian Islands.

1970: President Richard Nixon signed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act (Public Law 91-222), requiring surgeon general's warnings on tobacco products and banning cigarette advertisements on US television and radio, beginning 1 January 1971.

2001: A US Navy EP-3E Aries II made an emergency landing in Hainan, People's Republic of China, after colliding with a Chinese J-8 IIM "Finback-B" fighter. The EP-3's crew were detained until 11 April; the aircraft was not released until 3 July.

Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122–1204) and Scott Joplin (1867/8-1917) died on this date.

And happy birthday to William Harvey (1578–1657), Otto Fürst von Bismarck (1815–1898), Lon Chaney (1883–1930), Aleksandr Sergeyevich Yakovlev (1906-1989), Anne McCaffrey (1926-TBD), Gordon Jump (1932–2003), Debbie Reynolds (1932-TBD) and Samuel R Delany (1942-TBD).

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