It happened today – this day in history – August 20

2AD: Venus and Jupiter in conjunction – possible astrological explanation for Star of Bethlehem.

1000: Hungary is established as a Christian kingdom by Stephen I.

1191: Richard I kills 3,000 muslim prisoners in Akko.

1612: Nine Pendle witches are hanged at Gallows Hill in Lancaster.

1741: Alaska is first sighted by Danish explorer Vitus Bering.

1828: Gioachino Rossini’s opera “Le Comte Ory” premieres in Paris.

1865: US President Andrew Johnson proclaims an end to “insurrection” in Texas.

1866: US President Andrew Johnson formally declares the American Civil War over.

1882: Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” debuts in Moscow.

1890: Birth of horror writer H. P. Lovecraft.

1896: The dial telephone is patented.

1901: The Fawcett Commission visits Mafeking concentration camp in Cape Colony.

1905: Chinese revolutionary, Sun Yat-Sen forms the first chapter of T’ung Meng Hui, a union of all secret societies determined to bringing down the Manchus.

1908: Congo Free State becomes the Belgian Congo.

1914: The German army captures Brussels.

1918: Britain opens an offensive on the Western front.

1923: The London dock strike ends.

1940: Winston Churchill says of the RAF: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”.

1944: US & British forces destroy the German 7th Army at Falaise-Argentan Gap.

1951: “Rashomon,” directed by Akira Kurosawa wins the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.

1952: Soviet leader Josef Stalin meets Chinese premier Zhou Enlai.

1955: Hundreds die in anti-French rioting in Morocco and Algeria.

1961: East Germany begins erecting a wall along the border with the west to replace the barbed wire put up on August 13.

1965: Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham and his partner Tony Calder launch Immediate records.

1968: 250,000 Soviet and Warsaw Pact troops invade Czechoslovakia.

1969: On the last occasion all four Beatles are together in a recording studio, a preliminary master tape of the Abbev Road album is compiled with the medley slated for side one and the placement of Octopus’s Garden and Oh! Darling reversed from the final version. The album was to end with the sudden cut off outro of I Want You (She’s So Heavy). At this point, the band were unaware that Her Majesty still existed at the end of the tape after a 20 second gap.


1970: England soccer captain, Bobby Moore, is cleared of charges of stealing in a trial in Colombia. The accusation has long been assumed to be an attempt to unsettle the team’s World Cup campaign.

1974: Nelson Rockefeller is selected as US Vice President by President Gerald Ford.

1977: NASA launches Voyager 2 towards Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

1978: Two people die during an attack on a bus carrying Israeli airline staff in central London.

Singles chart:

  1. Three Times A Lady – The Commodores
  2. You’re The One that I Want – John Travolta and Olivia Newton John
  3. It’s Raining – Darts
  4. Rivers Of Babylon – Boney M
  5. Forever Autumn – Justin Hayward
  6. Dreadlock Holiday – 10cc
  7. Substitute – Clout
  8. Supernature – Cerrone
  9. Boogie Oogie Oogie – A Taste Of Honey
  10. Jilted John – Jilted John
1978: Bob Dylan – Street Legal

Album chart:

  1. Saturday Night Fever – Original Soundtrack
  2. Nightflight To Venus – Boney M
  3. 20 Giant Hits – The Nolans
  4. Star Party – Various Artists
  5. 20 Golden Greats – The Hollies
  6. Grease – Original Soundtrack
  7. Street Legal – Bob Dylan
  8. War Of The Worlds – Jeff Wayne
  9. Classic Rock – London Symphony Orchestra
  10. Images – Don Williams

1982: US marines land in Beirut.

1986: Postal worker Patrick Sherrill shoots 14 fellow workers dead in Edmond, Oklahoma.

1988: Two fans die in the mosh pit during Guns n Roses’ set at the Donington Monsters of Rock festival. On the same day, thousands die when an earthquake strikes India and Nepal.

1989: 51 people die when pleasure cruiser The Marchioness, packed with young partygoers, collides with a barge on the River Thames. On the same day, conservationist George Adamson is murdered in Kenya aged 82.

1990: Iraq moves western hostages to military installations as human shields.

1991: Estonia formally declares its independence from the USSR.

1992: Intimate photographs of the Duchess of York and Texan businessman John Bryan are published in The Daily Mirror newspaper. On the same day, east London catering manager Paul Ride is sentenced to seven years in an Iraqi jail for “illegal entry” into the country. He had been working in Kuwait before disappearing two months earlier. Also, Sting and Trudie Styler marry at an 11th century chapel in Wiltshire.

1993: Mother Teresa of Calcutta is hospitalised with malaria.

1998: The Supreme Court of Canada rules that Quebec cannot legally secede from Canada without the federal government’s approval. On the same day, the US military launches cruise missile attacks against alleged al-Qaida camps in Afghanistan and a suspected chemical plant in Sudan in retaliation for August 7 bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

1999: The World Athletics Championships open in Seville, Spain.

2000: Tiger Woods wins the PGA Championship to become the first golfer since Ben Hogan in 1953 to win three majors in a calendar year.

2004: Stoke-on-Trent man Rob Tinsley names Bryan Adams as the ‘other man’ in his divorce papers after years of trying to cope with his wife’s obsession with the singer.

2008: Usain Bolt of Jamaica wraps up the 100/200m double in style with a new 200m world record 19.30 at the Beijing Olympics.

2012: American comedienne Phyllis Diller dies aged 95.

2013: Beyonce spends almost £1,500 cash at an Essex branch of chicken chain Nando’s following her performance at the V Festival in Chelmsford for her entourage. On the same day, author Elmore Leonard dies from a stroke aged 87.

2016: Mo Farah wins the men’s 5,000m at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. On the same day, controversial South African middle distance runner Caster Semenya retains her Olympic women’s 800m title.

2017: Comedian Jerry Lewis dies aged 91.

2018: Guitarist Eddie Willis from Motown house band The Funk Brothers dies from complications of polio at the age of 82. On the same day, Pope Francis releases a letter to all Catholics condemning sexual abuse atrocities and clerical cover-ups: “We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them”. Also, Venezuela issues new currency the “Bolivar Soberano” in attempt to stop runaway hyperinflation and Polish immigrant and former volunteer Nazi guard Jakiw Palij (95) is deported from the US to Germany.

2020: Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon is arrested and charged with fraud over a fundraising campaign to build a wall on the Mexican border. On the same day, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny falls into a coma after being poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok.

BIRTHDAYS: Don King, boxing promoter, 90; Dave Brock, guitarist (Hawkwind) 80; Sylvester McCoy, actor, ,78; Ralf Hütter, musician (Kraftwerk), 75; Robert Plant, singer-songwriter (Led Zeppelin), 73; Joan Allen, actress, 65; David O Russell, director/screenwriter, 63; Joe Pasquale, comedian, 60; James Marsters, actor, 59; Fred Durst, vocalist/songwriter/record company executive (Limp Bizkit) 50; David Walliams (Williams), author/comedian/TV personality, 50; Amy Adams, actress, 47; Misha (Dmitri) Collins, actor, 47; Jamie Cullum, pianist/singer/songwriter, 42; Andrew Garfield, actor, 38; Demi Lovato, singer/songwriter/actress, 29.