It happened today – this day in history – October 21

1520: Explorer Ferdinand Magellan and his fleet reach Cape Virgenes and become the first Europeans to sail into the Pacific Ocean.

1555: The English parliament refuses to recognize Philip of Spain as king.

1772: Birth of poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in Devon.

1789: The National Assembly declares martial law in France to prevent uprisings.

1805: Admiral Horatio Nelson defeats the combined French and Spanish fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar. Nelson is killed during the battle.

1854: Florence Nightingale is sent to the Crimean War with a staff of 38 nurses.

1858: Jacques Offenbach’s operetta ” Orpheus in the Underworld” (Orphée aux Enfers) premieres in Paris.

1895: The Republic of Formosa (later Taiwan) collapses as Japanese forces invade.

1899: The British Army fights the Boers at the Battle of Elandslaagte in Natal during the Second Boer War.

1914: The Battle of Warsaw ends with a German defeat.

1917: US troops enter the front line of the First World War at Sommervillier. On the same day, jazz trumpeter and creator of bebop, Dizzy (John Birks) Gillespie is born in South Carolina.

1937: Franco’s troops occupy Gijon during the Spanish Civil War.

1938: Japanese troops occupy Canton.

1945: Women in France are allowed to vote for the first time.

1948: The UN rejects a Russian proposal to destroy atomic weapons.

1950: Chinese forces occupy Tibet.

1952: The President of the Kenya African Union, Jomo Kenyatta, is arrested following the declaration of a state of emergency in the British colony.

1954: Indonesian troops land on New Guinea.

1958: Buddy Holly’s last recording session at Pythian Temple Studios, New York City. The songs recorded include Raining In My Heart and It Doesn’t Matter Anymore.

1959: The Guggenheim Museum, designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, opens in New York.

1960: Launch of the first British nuclear submarine HMS Dreadnought.

1964: Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia runs a world record 2:12:11.2 to take gold in the marathon at the Tokyo Olympics.

1965: Elvis Presley’s double bass player Bill Black dies aged 39, four months after surgery to remove a brain tumour. On the same day, The Beatles decided to start again on the song Norwegian Wood, completing the recording in just three takes.

1966: A coal slag tip engulfs a school in the Welsh village of Aberfan, killing 144 people, 116 of them children.

1967: Tens of thousands of anti-Vietnam War protesters march on the Pentagon, besieging the military headquarters for two days.

1969: Maj Gen Mohamed Siad Barre becomes President of Somalia after a bloodless coup. On the same day, Willy Brandt is elected chancellor of West Germany. Also, author Jack Kerouac dies aged 47.


1970: Bernadette Devlin is released from prison having served four months of her six month sentence for riotous behaviour in Northern Ireland.

1975: Armed police surround a house near Dublin where kidnapped businessman Tiede Herrema is being held captive.

1976: Novelist Saul Bellow wins the Nobel Prize for Literature.

1978: The Clash sack manager Bernie Rhodes, saying the band and record company “found him hard to deal with”. Melody Maker journalist Caroline Coon takes his place. On the same day, Australian civilian pilot Frederick Valentich vanishes in a Cessna 182 over the Bass Strait south of Melbourne, after reporting contact with a UFO.

1979: Greta Weitz wins the women’s New York marathon. On the same day, Israeli minister of Foreign affairs, Moshe Dayan, resigns.

1980: Mikhail Gorbachev is elected a member of the Soviet Politburo.

1982: Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness make history as they become the first members of Sinn Fein to be elected to the Ulster Assembly.

1984: Ferrari driver Niki Lauda becomes Formula 1 World Drivers champion for a third time when he finishes second in the season ending Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril. On the same day, film director Francois Truffaut dies of brain cancer aged 52.

1986: American writer Edward Tracy is kidnapped in Beirut.

1988: Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos are indicted on racketeering charges in The Philippines.

1990: Ayrton Senna crashes his McLaren during the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka but clinches his second Formula 1 World Drivers Championship.

Singles chart:

  1. A Little Time – The Beautiful South
  2. Show Me Heaven – Maria McKee
  3. Unchained Melody – The Righteous Brothers
  4. The Anniversary Waltz Part One – Status Quo
  5. Kinky Afro – The Happy Mondays
  6. Blue Velvet – Bobby Vinton
  7. I’m Your Baby Tonight – Whitney Houston
  8. Take My Breath Away – Berlin
  9. Megamix – Technotronic
  10. I’ve Been Thinking About You – London Beat
1990: Led Zeppelin – Remasters

Album chart:

  1. The Rhythm Of The Saints – Paul Simon
  2. Rockin’ All Over The Years – Status Quo
  3. In Concert – Jose Carreras/Placido Domingo/Luciano Pavarotti
  4. Some Friendly – The Charlatans
  5. Reflection – The Shadows
  6. Soul Provider – Michael Bolton
  7. Listen Without Prejudice Volume 1 – George Michael
  8. Recycler – ZZ Top
  9. Bona Drag – Morrissey
  10. Remasters – Led Zeppelin

1991: US hostage Jesse Turner is released from captivity in Beirut after five years.

1992:George Michael takes Sony Records to court in a fight over his contract. The case, which he loses, goes on for two years.

1995: Blind Melon vocalist Shannon Hoon dies from a drug overdose aged 28.

2006: Sandy West, drummer for all girl group The Runaways, dies from cancer aged 47.

2007: Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen wins the season ending Brazilian Grand Prix to claim the Formula 1 World Drivers Championship.

2011: Musician and arranger Edmundo Ross dies aged 100.

2013: Canada confers honorary Canadian citizenship on women’s rights and education activist Malala Yousafzai.

2014: South African Paralympian Oscar Pistorius is sentenced to five years in prison for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

2017: The Spanish government suspends Catalonia’s autonomy in the face of a deepening political crisis over the region’s push for independence.

2019: Thailand’s King Vajiralongkorn strips his royal consort Sineenat Wongvajirapakdi of her titles for “misbehaviour and disloyalty against the monarch” two months after she was appointed.

2020: The FBI claims Iran and Russia have US voter information and are trying to influence outcome of the US election. On the same day, legendary female drummer Viola Smith dies aged 107.

2021: Actor Alec Baldwin shoots cinematographer Halyna Hutchins dead and injures director Joel Souza with a prop gun in rehearsal on a film set in New Mexico.

BIRTHDAYS: Geoffrey Boycott, cricketer, 82; Manfred Mann (Michael Lubowitz), keyboards, 82; Steve Cropper, guitarist/songwriter, 81; Judge Judy (Judith Sheindlin) 80; Tariq Ali, writer, 79; Tetsu Yamauchi, bassist (Free/The Faces) 75; John ‘Rabbit’ Bundrick, keyboards, 74; Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli politician, 73; Charlotte Caffey, guitarist/songwriter (The Go-Gos) 69; Eric Faulkner, guitarist (Bay City Rollers) 69; Baron (Peter) Mandelson, former politician, 69; Julian Cope, singer-songwriter, 65; Steve Lukather, guitarist (Toto) 65; Attila The Stockbroker (John Baine) poet, 65; David Campese, Australian rugby union legend, 60; Paul Ince, footballer, 55; Tony Mortimer, songwriter/singer (East 17), 52; Ronnie Irani, cricketer, 51; Andrew Scott, actor, 46; Kim Kardashian West, reality TV star, 42; Nemanja Vidić, Serbian footballer, 41; Daniel Podence, footballer, 27.