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Births: Friedrich August Leberecht Jakob, singer and composer, 1803; Robert Erskine Childers, author and Irish nationalist, 1870; William De Mille, film and theatre producer and writer, 1878; Louis, first Earl Mountbatten of Burma, 1900; George Orwell (Eric Blair), author and essayist, 1903.

Deaths: Anthony Woodville, second Earl Rivers, statesman, executed 1483; Ernest Theodor Amadeus Hoffman, writer, composer and caricaturist, 1822; George Armstrong Custer, cavalry officer, killed in battle 1876; Thomas Eakins, portrait painter, 1916; Johnny Mercer, composer, lyricist and singer, 1976.

On this day: Virginia became the 10th of the United States, 1788; Lucien Smith, of Ohio, took out the first patent for barbed wire, 1867; the Battle of the Little Big Horn River was fought - Custer's Last Stand, 1876; the Strand Magazine published the first 'Sherlock Holmes' story by Arthur Conan Doyle, 1891; Dr Douglas Hyde, a Gaelic scholar and protestant, was inaugurated as the first president of the Irish Republic, 1938; South Korea was invaded by troops from North Korea, 1950; Erskine Childers became president of the Irish Republic, succeeding Eamon de Valera, 1973.

Today is the Feast Day of St Adalbert of Egmond, St Eurosia, St Febronia, St Gallicanus, St Gohard, St Maximus of Turin, St Moloc or Luan, St Prosper of Aquitaine, St Prosper of Reggio, St Thea and St William of Vercelli or Monte Vergine.


Births: George Morland, painter, 1763; William Thomson, first Baron Kelvin, physicist and inventor, 1824; Willy Messerschmitt, aircraft designer, 1898; Peter Lorre (Laszlo Loewenstein), actor, 1904.

Deaths: Julian the Apostate, Roman Emperor, died of wounds 363; Francisco Pizarro, conqueror of Peru, assassinated 1541; The Rev Gilbert White, naturalist, 1793; Joseph-Michel Montgolfier, balloonist, 1810; Samuel Crompton, inventor of spinning mule, 1827; Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle, composer of the 'Marseillaise', 1836; Ford Madox Ford, novelist and poet, 1939; Carl Foreman, film producer, 1984; George Horace Gallup, poll organiser, 1984.

On this day: Christ's Hospital (the Bluecoat School) was granted its charter, 1553; William IV ascended the British throne, 1830; Victoria Crosses were awarded to 62 men of the army and navy by Queen Victoria in Hyde Park, 1857; Wagner's opera The Valkyrie was first performed, Munich, 1870; the Order of Merit was instituted by King Edward VII, 1902; the new Victoria and Albert Museum was opened, 1909; the first Queen Alexandra Day was held, 1912; following publication of a manifesto for peace, the newspaper Vorwarts was suppressed in Germany, 1915; the US Expeditionary Force arrived in France, 1917; Finland entered the war on the German side in a 'defensive capacity', 1941; the United Nations Charter was signed by 50 nations in San Francisco, 1945; Madagascar proclaimed its independence as the Malagasy Republic, 1960; the first London production of the musical show Grease was presented, 1973.

Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St Anthelmus, bishop, St John of the Goths, St Maxentius, St Pelagius of Cordova, Saints Salvius or Sauve and Superius and St Vigilius of Trent.