1536 Catherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry VIII of England and mother of Mary I, died, at Kimbolton Castle in Cambridgeshire where she had lived since Henry annulled their marriage. The Pope had declined the request for an annulment, but Henry married his mistress Anne Boleyn regardless, a chain of events that led to England’s break with the Roman Catholic Church.
1558 English forces were ousted from the French port of Calais, led by the Duke of Guise. Calais had surrendered to an invading English army in 1346 and its recapture by the French saw the last continental possession of England forfeited.
1618 Francis Bacon became Lord Chancellor of England. Later that year he was accused of taking a bribe, and fined £40,000, a huge sum of money for those times.
1805 The famous pugilist Tom Cribb had his first public fight. It was against Tom Maddox at Wood Green. Cribb was declared the winner after an incredible 76 rounds.
1889 Birth of Arthur Clifford Hartley, the English inventor of World War II’s PLUTO (Pipeline Under The Ocean), a series of 21 undersea pipes used to transport oil from Britain to continental Europe. He also invented FIDO (Fog Investigation Dispersal Operation) which is credited with bringing 2500 aircraft and 10,000 aircrew safely home during the war.
1904 The CQD distress signal was introduced. CQ stood for ‘seek you’, and the D for ‘danger’. It lasted just two years before being replaced with SOS.
1927 A telephone service began operating between London and New York. A three-minute call cost £15. Nevertheless 31 different people made a call on the first day.
1945 Second World War – General Montgomery held a press conference in which he claimed credit for victory in the Battle of the Bulge (also known as the Ardennes Offensive). The defeat left many German units severely depleted of men and equipment. America suffered 89,000 casualties, their bloodiest battle of World War II