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The h2g2 Calendar - 1 - January

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  • 630 - The Prophet Mohammed and his army set out to capture Mecca.

  • 1754 - General 'Mad' Anthony Wayne is born in Chester County, Pennsylvania on the family homestead between the towns of Paoli and Wayne.

  • 1801 - The first asteroid, Ceres, was discovered and named by the Italian astronomer, Giuseppe Piazzi.

  • 1915 - Ten people are killed and nearly 500 are injured at a London rail disaster at Ilford station when an express train passes the stop signs and crashes into the side of a local train.

  • 1951 - It began as a five-episode educational series broadcast only in the Midlands, but 1 January, 1951 sees The Archers broadcast on the Home Service across the nation for the first time.

  • 1995 - Serial killer Fred West is found hanged in his Birmingham prison cell - he was awaiting trial on 12 murder charges, abduction, false imprisonment and various sexual offences.

  • 2000 - Computer users across the globe breathe a sigh of relief as the infamous Millennium Bug fails to materialise.

  • 2002 - Across Europe, countries ditch their local currency in favour of the Euro.


  • 1777 - British General Lord Charles Cornwallis musters 6,000 men and immediately marches on the Americans during the Battles of Trenton and Princeton, New Jersey, USA.

  • 1879 - Melbourne, Australia, witnesses the third ever test match hat-trick.

  • 1930 - The first crossword appears in the weekly edition of The Times.

  • 1969 - The Beatles begin work on their album Get Back. Though the album would be abandoned, it evolves into what became Let it Be.

  • 1974 – US president Richard Nixon signs a bill reducing the speed limit to 55mph to conserve petrol during an OPEC embargo.


  • 1840 - Father Damien of Molokai is born (as Joseph de Veuster) in Tremeloo, Belgium.

  • 1884 - The biggest wreck the Isle Of Wight had yet seen come ashore on Atherfield Ledge at roughly 6pm. She is the 4,426-ton four-masted steamer Duke of Westminster, newly constructed out of steel. She was travelling to London from Australia, with a crew of 102 under Captain Cox, whose faulty navigation leads her to plough onto Atherfield Ledge at full speed.

  • 1892 - Author JRR Tolkien, author of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, is born.

  • 1943 - The Memphis Belle flies to St Nazaire, France, to bomb U-boat pens.

  • 1945 - Activist and politician Adam Clayton Powell Jr begins his first term of Congress.

  • 1956 - The top part of the Eiffel Tower catches fire.

  • 1991 - The first episode of TV comedy The Brittas Empire is broadcast.


  • 1838 - Charles Sherwood Stratton aka 'Tom Thumb' is born in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

  • 1878 - Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, is emancipated from Ottoman rule.

  • 1910 - Leon Delagrange dies in an air crash when his Bleriot XI monoplane crashes.

  • 1947 - Seven people die and many more are injured in a London rail disaster at Gidea Park station, when a train crashs into another due to the fog that day.

  • 1985 - The cult TV series Street Hawk is first broadcast, following the adventures of motorcyle-mounted crime-fighter Jessie Mach.

  • 1990 - The first episode of classic British sitcom One Foot in the Grave is broadcast.

  • 1991 - Screenwriter Richard Maibaum passes away. His films include the James Bond movies From Russia With Love, Dr No, Goldfinger, Thunderball and Licence to Kill.


  • 1919 - Originally called the German Worker's Party, the Nazi Party is formed in Munich by Anton Drexler.

  • 1941 - Amy Johnson dies in an air crash during a flight from Blackpool to Kidlington when she loses her way in a storm.

  • 1968 - Following their actions at a protest rally against the war in Vietnam, Dr Benjamin Spock, William Sloan Coffin (the chaplain of Yale University), novelist Mitchell Goodman, Michael Ferber (a graduate student at Harvard University) and Marcus Raskin (a peace activist) are charged with conspiracy to encourage violations of the draft laws.

  • 1969 - The US rock singer Marilyn Manson is born.

  • 2004 - Kiharu Nakamura, one of the last authentic Japanese geisha, dies in New York aged 90.


  • Every year - The Heilige Drei Könige, or 'three kings' holiday is celebrated in certain parts of Germany.

  • Every year - The twelfth day of Christmas, when Christmas Cards should be taken down.

  • Every year - Epiphany, the festival celebrating the visit of the infant Christ by the Three Wise Men.

  • 1412 - Posthumously a French national heroine, Joan of Arc is born in Champagne, France.

  • 1883 - Kahlil Gibran - author of 'The Prophet' - is born in Bsharre, a north Lebanese village.

  • 1945 - Edith Frank, mother of famous WWII diarist Anne Frank, dies of hunger and exhaustion.

  • 1950 - The UK recognises The People's Republic of China, causing The Republic of China to sever diplomatic relations with the UK.

  • 1975 - Wheel of Fortune premiers on American TV, becoming arguably the world's most popular game show - just one of the world-shaping events featured in Billy Joel's song We Didn't Start the Fire.



  • 1935 - Regarded by many as the greatest rock singer of all time, Elvis Presley is born on this day in Mississippi, USA.

  • 1947 - Actor/singer David Bowie is born in Brixton, London.

  • 1973 - Following an immense bombing campaign in Hanoi during the Christmas period of 1972, the war in Vietnam is still raging. However, peace negotiations between Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho started again on 8 January, 1973, and terms were agreed upon the next day.

  • 1991 - One person is killed and many more are injured in a London rail disaster when a train from Sevenoaks collides with the buffers at the end of a Cannon Street terminus platform.

  • 1999 - Another London rail disaster happens at Spa Road Junction when a Thameslink service from Brighton to Bedford collides with a train from Dover Priory; four people are injured.


  • 1788 - Connecticut is the fifth state to ratify the US Constitution.

  • 1913 - Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the United States of America, is born in a village called Yorba Linda in California.

  • 1967 - Activist and politician Adam Clayton Powell Jr is stripped of his committee chairmanship and refused a seat by the House Democratic Caucus, pending an investigation by the Judiciary Committee.

  • 1973 - Following negotiations that had recommenced the previous day, peace terms are agreed by Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, signalling an end to American troops in Vietnam.

  • 2002 - Homeless charity Crisis receives £4.5m after David Gilmour, guitarist with rock band Pink Floyd, sold his London house to Earl Spencer and decided to give the organisation all the proceeds.


  • 1642 - King Charles abandons London, prior to the start of the English Civil War.

  • 1920 - The Clown Prince of Baseball, Max Patkin is born in Philadelphia.

  • 1927 - Legendary singer Johnny Ray is born in Dallas, Oregon, USA; his life was just one of the world-shaping elements featured in Billy Joel's song We Didn't Start the Fire.

  • 1964 - The Beatles' second album With the Beatles is released in the USA, albeit in a reshuffled version named Introducing... The Beatles.


  • 1864 - Charing Cross station opens at the end of London's Strand.

  • 1941 - During the London Air Raid, 56 people are killed when a World War 2 bomb hits the escalator at Bank station of the London Underground.

  • 1973 - The first graduates from the Open University are awarded their degrees after two years studying from home.


  • 1923 - Unwilling hero Ira Hayes is born a full blood Pima Indian in Sacaton, Arizona, USA.

  • 1974 - The fastest recorded gust of wind in Northern Ireland is observed at the County Down fishing village of Kilkeel - measuring 108 knots (125mph).


  • 531 - The Nika Riots start in Byzantium and last five days.

  • 858 - Ethelwulf, King of England, dies on this day.

  • 1939 - With rivers at their lowest levels for 80 years and humidity at 8%, 71 lives are lost to fires and the town of Noojee is destroyed - one of many tragic incidents in the history of bushfires in Victoria, Australia.

  • 1943 - The Memphis Belle flies to Lille, France, to bomb marshalling yards.

  • 1963 - French President de Gaulle uses the word 'concorde' (roughly translated to mean 'agreement') to refer to the Anglo-French supersonic aircraft project.


  • 1858 - Patrick Joseph Kennedy, grandfather of US president John Fitzgerald Kennedy, is born.

  • 1954 - Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe marries baseball legend Jo DiMaggio.

  • 1947 - Legendary snooker player 'Big Bill' Werbeniuk is born in Winnipeg, Canada.

  • 1973 - Elvis Presley scores the last major success of his life with his TV special Elvis: Aloha from Hawaii - Via Satellite.

  • 2002 - George Harrison reaches No.1 in the UK charts when his most famous solo single, 'My Sweet Lord', is re-released after his death; the charting was almost 31 years to the day after it was a No.1 hit back in 1971.


  • 1923 - Writer and humourist Ivor Cutler is born in Ibrox, Glasgow.

  • 1947 - Beth Short is brutally murdered; newspapers dubbed the crime the Black Dahlia Murder.

  • 1959 - Legendary tenor saxophonist John Coltrane makes his first recording for Atlantic Records, working with Milt Jackson.

  • 1995 - For the first time since their deployment on 15 August 1969, British soldiers no longer patrolled Belfast during daylight hours.


  • 1909 - The largest-scale appearance of the Jersey Devil is said to have occurred, being sighted by over 1,000 people in New Jersey and Philadelphia.

  • 1917 - The RMS Mendi sails from Cape Town for France, just over a month before it was was sunk in what was the greatest disaster ever to occur in the waters of the Isle of Wight.

  • 2001 - In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Laurent Kabila is assassinated and his son Joseph becomes president - thus opening another chapter in the long, bloody history of the Congolese civil war.

  • 2003 - Following 27 previous flights, the Space Shuttle Columbia embarks on its ill-fated final mission.


  • 1961 - Patrice Lumumba, the Democratic Republic of Congo's first and only elected Prime Minister is beaten, humiliated and shot dead.

  • 1964 - Upon leaving NASA, astronaut, politician and pilot John Glenn sets out on his political career by announcing a challenge to incumbent Ohio Senator Steve Young.

  • 1977 - Yugoslavia's Prime Minister Dzemal Bijedic, his wife and six others die in an air crash, when their Learjet 25B crashes into Inac Mountain near Sarajevo.

  • 1983 - Many people in Britain switch on their television sets earlier than normal, as the BBC's  Breakfast Time programme goes on air.

  • 1995 - The Kobe earthquake hits Japan, taking the lives of 3,000 people and leaves more than a third of the city's population homeless.


  • 531 - The Nika Riots in Byzantium end violently with the killing of 30,000 rioters.

  • 1820 - The Whaleship Essex reaches Cape Horn, five weeks into its ill-fated voyage.

  • 1885 - Simon Marrix and Miene Schonberg are married on this day - parents to legendary comedy clan the Marx Brothers.


  • 1839 - The small settlement of Waterloo is chosen as capital of the Republic of Texas. Later that year it is renamed Austin.

  • 1910 - Seven people are killed in a London rail disaster on the line between London and Brighton at Stout's nest.

  • 1946 - Well-known for her glitzy, glamorous style, not to mention her widely-documented 'curvature', singer/songwriter Dolly Parton is born in Tennessee, USA on this day.

  • 1994 - It is the coldest day ever recorded in the history of South-central Pennsylvania, USA - the temperature fails to get above 0° Fahrenheit (-18°C).


  • 1898 - Towns are razed to the ground and several people killed as fires sweps across the Otway Ranges and south and west Gippsland on 'Red Tuesday' - one of many tragic incidents in the history of bushfires in Victoria, Australia.

  • 1907 - Dmitri Mendeleev, creator of the periodic table, dies.

  • 1937 - The annual date for presidential inauguration in the US shifts from 4 March to 20 January; Franklin Roosevelt is the first to be inaugurated in the month of January.

  • 1949 - The inauguration of Harry S Truman takes place - this is the first time an inaugural address is televised.

  • 1950 - The marriage of Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller comes to an end - as mentioned in the Entry on Billy Joel's song We Didn't Start the Fire.

  • 1971 - Marvin Gaye's album What's Going On is finally released and becomes an instant hit.


  • 1867 - Emperor Joshua Norton I of America is arrested by policeman Armand Barbier on the grounds of insanity.

  • 1940 - Statistically the best golfer of the 20th Century, Jack Nicklaus is born to Louis Charles Nicklaus Jr and Helen Nicklaus in Columbus, Ohio, USA.

  • 1955 - The 7,150-ton freighter Kingsbridge becomes stranded on Brighstone Ledge in the Isle of Wight's waters. She is finally refloated on 28 January, when she was towed back to sea by several tugs and a helicopter.

  • 1958 - Spanish conductor Ataúlfo Argenta dies of carbon monoxide poisoning while apparently letting his car warm up with the garage doors closed.

  • 1994 - South-central Pennsylvania, USA reaches -22° Fahrenheit (-27°C) - the coldest temperature ever recorded in the region.

  • 1968 - In the Vietnam war, the North Vietnamese Army attacks the American air base at Khe Sanh, deploying 20,000 troops. The 5000 US Marines stationed there soon find themselves encircled and under siege.

  • 2003 - The final section of The Spire of Dublin is added.


  • 1788 - Celebrated poet and philanderer Lord Byron is born on this day.

  • 1901 - After reigning for almost 64 years, Queen Victoria dies from a cerebral haemorrhage at Osborne House, and the Victorian era ends with her.

  • 1907 - William Ralph 'Dixie' Dean is born. A legendary player for Everton Football Club, Dean is arguably the best player of his generation anywhere in the world.

  • 2008 - Australian-born actor Heath Ledger (Brokeback Mountain) is found dead in his apartment in Manhattan. He was 28.


  • 1855 - Pioneering gun designer John Moses Browning is born.

  • 1943 - The Memphis Belle flies to Lorient, France, to bomb U-boat pens.

  • 1948 - Three people are killed and many are injured in a London rail disaster when a train fails to stop at a signal just outside of London Brigde station.

  • 1955 - Following a night of drinking and gambling, unwilling hero Ira Hayes dies from exposure after falling into a ditch.

  • 1993 - Having completed his period of training at Manchester United, David Beckham is signed by the club as a professional footballer.


  • 41 AD - The Roman Emperor Caligula is murdered by members of the Praetorian Guard, and his uncle Claudius becomes his successor.

  • 1611 - Erszi Majorova, accomplice and lover of Elizabeth Bathory - the Blood Countess, is sentenced and executed.

  • 1848 - Gold is discovered in a river near Sacramento, California, kicking off the California Gold Rush that changed the face of the American west.

  • 1976 - The Kremlin uses the adjective the 'Iron Lady' to describe British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. It comes the day after the Kremlin accused the Conservative Party of 'extreme unfriendliness' and even open hostility towards the Soviet Union.

  • 1979 - A couple of passengers on a westbound train of the London Underground Stratford station are injured when two trains collide due to human error.


  • Every year - Today is Saint Dwynwen's Day (Dydd Santes Dwynwen) - the Welsh equivalent of St Valentine Day.

  • 1759 - Scots celebrate the birth of their Poet Laureate, Robbie Burns.

  • 1858 - Queen Victoria's daughter, Victoria, is married to Friedrich Wilhelm at St James's.

  • 1890 - The Irex, the largest sailing ship to be totally wrecked off the Isle Of Wight - meets her fate off the Needles.

  • 1970 - M*A*S*H the movie, a black comedy set in a US Army mobile hospital during the Korean War, is released in the US. Directed by Robert Altman, the film spawned a highly successful TV series.

  • 2003 - A Central line London Underground train derails just outside Chancery Lane, injuring 30 passengers and causing hysteria on board.


  • 1823 - Edward Jenner, a key figure in the history of modern medicine having pioneered the science of immunology, passes away.

  • 1939 - Barcelona falls to Franco's forces toward the end of the Spanish Civil War.

  • 1955 - Guitarist Eddie van Halen is born in Nijmegen, Holland.

  • 1972 - Luckily nobody is hurt when a London Underground Bakerloo line train crashes into a slower proceeding train just outside Edgware Road.


  • 1820 - Continuing southward on their expedition, explorer Admiral Faddei Faddevich Bellingshausen and his crew sight the continent of Antarctica. It is believed they are the first men ever to do so.

  • 1881 - The 1,023-ton steamer SS Claremont is wrecked in a dense fog in Chale Bay off the Isle Of Wight.

  • 1910 - Probably Britain's most famous plumber Thomas Crapper dies. But no, he didn't invent the flush toilet.

  • 1956 - Elvis Presley releases his first single for RCA - Heartbreak Hotel.

  • 1967 - Tragedy strikes the Apollo space program, as the first Block I manned flight catches fire on its launch pad, killing its crew of Gus Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee.

  • 1973 - Lt Col William B Nolde dies in battle, becoming the last American soldier listed as having been killed in combat in Vietnam. Coincidentally, he dies on the same day that United States Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird announces an end to the draft in favour of voluntary enlistment.

  • 1983 - Singer/Songwriter Billy Fury, born Ronald Wycherley, dies from heart failure, aged 42 years.


  • 1547 - Death of king Henry VIII, whose dynastic aspirations resulted in England leaving the universal Roman Catholic Church and the creation of the Church of England.

  • 1939 - Irish poet and dramatist William Butler Yeats dies in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France.

  • 1953 - Derek Bentley is hanged in Wandsworth prison.

  • 1955 - After a week of being stranded on Brighstone Ledge off the Isle Of Wight, the 7,150-ton freighter Kingsbridge is finally refloated when she was towed back to sea by several tugs and a helicopter.

  • 1986 - The spaceship Challenger embarks on its final flight, having been in active service since 1983. The subsequent explosion of the craft in the air, and the death of all seven crew members, is a defining moment of the 1980s.

  • 2002 - Author Astrid Lindgren dies.


  • 1959 - Certainly not for the first (or last) time, England falls foul to the mercy of the weather, as dense fog - the worst for seven years - brought transport chaos to the country's road, rail and air networks, resulting in a virtual standstill.

  • 1985 - Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is snubbed by Oxford dons, as the esteemed university refuses her an honorary degree.

  • 2001 - Self-adhesive postage stamps go on sale for the first time in the UK.


  • 1649 - Charles I is tried and executed outside the Banqueting House in Whitehall during the third wave of the English Civil War.

  • 1933 - Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany, quickly turning the coalition government into a dictatorship. The disturbing subsequent events were documented by Anne Frank and her diary.

  • 1958 - A combination of fog and signalling problems leads to a London rail disaster at Dagenham East, where 10 people are killed in a collision.

  • 1969 - The Beatles perform their famous rooftop gig - their last live performance.

  • 1995 - Death of English naturalist Gerald Durrell, author of My Family and Other Animals.

  • 1999 - Bradford's heavy metallers Terrorvision release their Mint Royale Shot remix of Tequilla. The track reached No 2 in the UK charts, achieving heavy rotation on Radio 1 and becoming the band's highest-profile release to date.


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