It happened today – this day in history – December 17

Mick Ferris
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546: The Ostrogoths of King Totila conquer Rome by bribing the Byzantine garrison.

1398: Turkick conqueror Tamerlane captures and sacks Delhi, defeating Sultan Nasir-u Din Mehmud’s armies by setting camels loaded with hay alight and charging them at the Sultans armoured elephants.

1538: Pope Paul II excommunicates King Henry VIII.

1718: France, Britain and Austria declare war on Spain.

1830: Death of South American revolutionary and president of Colombia, Simon Bolivar.

1865: Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 “Unfinished Symphony” premieres in Vienna.

1885: France declares Madagascar a protectorate.

1900: First prize of 100,000 francs offered for communications with extraterrestrials. Martians are excluded as they are considered too easy.

1903: The Wright brothers make the first sustained motorized aircraft flight piloted by Orville Wright at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Of four flights made that day, the first took just 12 seconds at a speed of 6.8 miles per hour.

1914: Britain declares Egypt a protectorate.

1922: The last British troops leave the Irish Free State.

1927: Australian cricketer Don Bradman scores 118 on his first-class cricket debut.

1938: Discovery of nuclear fission using uranium by Otto Hahn and his assistant Fritz Strassmann.

1939: The German pocket battleship Graf Spee is scuttled by its crew off Uruguay.

1941: Beginning of the Siege of Sebastopol.

1947: 27 inches of snow falls in New York.

1957: Death of novelist Dorothy L. Sayers.

1963: James Carroll at WWDC in Washington, DC, became the first disc jockey to broadcast a Beatles record on American radio. Carroll played ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’, wlastedhich he had obtained from his stewardess girlfriend, who brought the single back from the UK. On the same day, Russian goalkeeper Lev Yashin wins the Ballon d’Or.

1967: Harold Holt, Prime Minister of Australia, vanishes in mysterious circumstances while swimming near Melbourne.

1968: 11 year-old Mary Bell is sentenced to life in detention after being found guilty of the manslaughter of two small boys aged four and three. She was released on licence in 1980 and given a new identity.

1969: The US Air Force closes Project Blue Book, concluding no evidence of extraterrestrial spaceships behind thousands of UFO sightings.

1975: Manson disciple Lynette ‘Squeaky’ Fromme is sentenced to life for the attempted assassination of US President Gerald Ford.

1977: George Harrison played an unannounced live set for the regulars at his local pu b in Henley-On-Thames.

1982: Delta blues musician and songwriter Big Joe Williams died in Macon, Mississippi aged 79.

1983: The Provisional IRA bombs Harrods department store, killing six people and injuring 90.

1986: Davina Thompson makes medical history by having the 1st heart, lung & liver transplant at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge.

1989: The first full episode of The Simpsons premieres in the US.

1999: Saxophonist Grover Washington Jr died of a heart attack aged 56.

2003: The Soham murder trial ends at the Old Bailey with Ian Huntley found guilty of two counts of murder. His girlfriend Maxine Carr is found guilty of perverting the course of justice.

2004: Elvis Presley’s daughter Lisa Marie agreed to sell 85 per cent of his estate to businessman Robert Sillerman in a deal worth $100m.

2010: Captain Beefheart (Don van Vliet) died aged 69 from complications from multiple sclerosis.

2011: Kim Jong-Il, supreme leader of North Korea, dies of a suspected heart attack aged 70.

2013: Angela Merkel is elected Chancellor of Germany for a third term.

2014: Sony Pictures cancels the release of “The Interview”, starring Seth Rogan and James Franco, after a cyber attack on the studio by North Korea.

2015: José Mourinho is sacked as manager of Chelsea.

2018: Actress/director Penny Marshall dies aged 75.

BIRTHDAYS: Tommy Steele (Thomas Hicks), performer, 83; Pope Francis, 83; Ron Geesin, composer, 76; Ernie Hudson, actor, 74; Paul Rodgers, singer, 70; Bill Pullman, actor, 66; Peter Farrelly, director, 63; Mike Mills, musician (REM) 61; Sarah Dallin, singer, (Bananarama) 57; Ginger Wildheart, guitarist, 55; Mickey Quinn, musician (Supergrass) 50; Paula Radcliffe, former athlete, 46; Giovanni Ribisi, actor, 45; Sarah Paulson, actress, 45; Milla Jovovich, actress, 44; Manny Pacquiao, boxer, 41.James Windsor, Viscount Severn, son of Prince Edward, 12.


Mick Ferris

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