It happened today – this day in history – January 4

46BC: Julius Ceasar defeats Titus Labienus in the Battle of Ruspina.

87: Ethelred of Wessex is defeated by the Danish invasion army at the Battle of Reading.

1642: Charles I and 400 soldiers attack parliament.

1698: Most of the Palace of Whitehall is destroyed by fire.

1717: Britain, France and The Netherlands sign a Triple Alliance.

1762: Britain declares war on Spain and Naples.

1847: Samuel Colt sells his first revolver pistol to the US government.

1863: Four-wheeled roller skates are patented by James Plimpton in New York.

1881: Johannes Brahms’ “Academic Festival Overture” premieres in Breslau.

1884: The Fabian Society is founded in London.

1885: Dr William Grant of Iowa, performs the first appendectomy in America on 22-year old Mary Gartside.

1887: Thomas Stevens becomes the first man to bicycle around the world.

1907: George Bernard Shaw’s “Don Juan in Hell” premieres in London.

1932: Viceroy of India Lord Willingdon orders the arrest of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. On the same day, a state of siege is proclaimed in Honduras.

1939: Hermann Goering appoints Reinhard Heydrich head of Jewish Emigration.

1945: Nazis execute resistance fighters in Amsterdam.

1948: Burma declares independence from the UK.

1951: Chinese forces recapture Seoul in the Korean War.

1954: Elvis Presley makes a second visit to the Memphis recording service and cuts two songs Casual Love Affair and I’ll Never Stand In Your Way onto a 10” acetate. Studio boss Sam Phillips asks Presley to leave his phone number.

1958: Sir Edmund Hillary arrives at the South Pole – the first explorer to do so since Captain Scott in 1912.

1959: Russia’s Luna 1 becomes the first craft to leave Earth’s gravity.

1960: French author Albert Camus dies aged 46 in a car accident.

1965: Poet T S Eliot dies aged 76.

1967: Donald Campbell dies on Coniston Water while attempting to break his own water speed record in his jet-powered boat, Bluebird K7.


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1968: Leo Fender sells Fender Guitars for $13 million to CBS.

1969: A People’s Democracy march between Belfast and Derry is repeatedly attacked by loyalists and off-duty police officers.

1970: Chauffeur Neil Boland is accidentally killed when Keith Moon of The Who runs him over in his Bentley while trying to escape from a gang of skinheads after a fight breaks out at a pub in Hatfield.

1972: Rose Heilbron becomes the first female judge to sit at the Old Bailey.

1974: US President Richard Nixon refuses to hand over White House tapes subpoenaed by Watergate Committee.

1976: The UVF shoot dead six Catholic civilians in two co-ordinated attacks in County Armagh.

Singles chart:

  1. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
  2. The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine – Laurel and Hardy
  3. I Believe In Father Christmas – Greg Lake
  4. Glass Of Champagne – Sailor
  5. Let’s Twist Again – Chubby Checker
  6. Wide Eyed And Legless – Andy Fairweather Low
  7. Art For Art’s Sake – 10cc
  8. Golden Years – David Bowie
  9. It’s Gonna Be A Cold Cold Christmas – Dana
  10. Can I Take You Home Little Girl – The Drifters
1976: Mike Oldfield – Ommadawn

Album chart:

  1. 40 Greatest Hits – Perry Como
  2. A Night At The Opera – Queen
  3. 24 Original Hits – The Drifters
  4. 40 Golden Greats – Jim Reeves
  5. Wouldn’t You Like It – The Bay City Rollers
  6. Make The Party Last – James Last
  7. Ommadawn – Mike Oldfield
  8. 20 Songs Of Joy – Nigel Brooks Singers
  9. Atlantic Crossing – Rod Stewart
  10. Favourites – Peters and Lee

1981: Police arrest Peter Sutcliffe, the “Yorkshire Ripper”.

1985: Scotland Yard investigates a surrogate mother in London following reports she is to receive £6,500 for her baby from a childless couple.

1986: Phil Lynott, the former frontman of rock group Thin Lizzy, dies 11 days after collapsing from a drink and drugs binge. On the same day, novelist Christopher Isherwood dies aged 81.

1989: US F-14s shoot down 2 Libyan jet fighters over Mediterranean.

1999: Former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura is sworn in as Governor of Minnesota.

2000: Catherine Hartley and Fiona Thornewill become the first British women to walk across Antarctica to the South Pole. Thornewill and husband Mike go on to become the first married couple to do so.

2004: Britney Spears has her surprise marriage annulled less than 55 hours after tying the knot at the Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas with childhood friend Jason Alexander.

2006: Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel suffers a second, apparently more serious stroke. His authority is transferred to acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

2008: Britney Spears is carried out of her home on a stretcher and taken into custody after police were called in a dispute involving her children.

2011: Singer songwriter Gerry Rafferty dies aged 63. Former Japan bassist Mick Karn (Andonis Michaelides) dies from cancer aged 52.

2016: Music entrepreneur, film producer and impresario, Robert Stigwood dies aged 81.

2018: Liverpool and Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah is named African Football Player of the Year. On the same day, Moody Blues flautist Ray Thomas dies aged 76.

2021: The first Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines are given to the general public. On the same day, prime minister Boris Johnson announces a new national lockdown for England as the Delta variant spreads rapidly.

BIRTHDAYS: John Gorman, comedian/singer (Scaffold) 86; Dyan Cannon (Samile Diane Friesen), actress,85; John McLaughlin, guitarist, 80; Rick Stein, chef/TV presenter, 75; Bernard Sumner, singer/guitarist (New Order) 66; Matt Frewer, actor, 64; Julian Sands, actor, 64; Michael Stipe, singer-songwriter (REM) 62; Robin Guthrie, musician/songwriter (Cocteau Twins) 60; Till Lindemann, vocalist (Rammstein) 60; Craig Revel Horwood, Strictly judge, 57; Beth Gibbons, singer (Portishead) 57; Julia Ormond, actress, 57; Tim Wheeler, guitarist/songwriter (Ash) 45; James Milner, footballer, 36; Labrinth (Timothy McKenzie) singer-songwriter/rapper, 33.

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