On This Day … 15 April


  • 1071 – Bari, the last Byzantine possession in southern Italy, is surrendered to Robert Guiscard.
  • 1395 – Timur defeats Tokhtamysh of the Golden Horde at the Battle of the Terek River. The Golden Horde capital city, Sarai, is razed to the ground and Timur installs a puppet ruler on the throne.
  • 1450 – Battle of Formigny: Toward the end of the Hundred Years’ War, the French attack and nearly annihilate English forces, ending English domination in Northern France.
  • 1632 – Battle of Rain: Swedes under Gustavus Adolphus defeat the Holy Roman Empire during the Thirty Years’ War.
  • 1642 – Irish Confederate Wars: A Confederate Irish militia is routed in the Battle of Kilrush when it attempts to halt the progress of a Royalist Army.
  • 1715 – The Pocotaligo Massacre triggers the start of the Yamasee War in colonial South Carolina.
  • 1736 – Foundation of the Kingdom of Corsica.
  • 1783 – Preliminary articles of peace ending the American Revolutionary War (or American War of Independence) are ratified.
  • 1861 – President Abraham Lincoln calls for 75,000 Volunteers to quell the insurrection that soon became the American Civil War.
  • 1896 – Closing ceremony of the Games of the I Olympiad in Athens, Greece.
  • 1900 – Philippine–American War: Filipino guerrillas launch a surprise attack on US infantry and begin a four-day siege of Catubig, Philippines.
  • 1922 – US Senator John B. Kendrick of Wyoming introduces a resolution calling for an investigation of a secret land deal, which leads to the discovery of the Teapot Dome scandal.
  • 1923 – Insulin becomes generally available for use by people with diabetes.
  • 1936 – First day of the Arab revolt in Mandatory Palestine.
  • 1941 – In the Belfast Blitz, two-hundred bombers of the German Luftwaffe attack Belfast, killing around one thousand people.
  • 1942 – The George Cross is awarded “to the island fortress of Malta” by King George VI.
  • 1945 – Bergen-Belsen concentration camp is liberated.
  • 1952 – First flight of the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress.
  • 1969 – The EC-121 shootdown incident: North Korea shoots down a United States Navy aircraft over the Sea of Japan, killing all 31 on board.
  • 1970 – During the Cambodian Civil War, massacre of the Vietnamese minority results in 800 bodies flowing down the Mekong river into South Vietnam.
  • 1986 – The United States launches Operation El Dorado Canyon, its bombing raids against Libyan targets in response to a discotheque bombing in West Germany that killed two US servicemen.
  • 2014 – In the worst massacre of the South Sudanese Civil War, at least 200 civilians were gunned down after seeking refuge in houses of worship as well as hospitals.

People (Births)

  • 1828 – Jean Danjou, French captain (d. 1863).
  • 1883 – Stanley Bruce, Australian captain and politician, 8th Prime Minister of Australia (d. 1967).
  • 1885 – Tadeusz Kutrzeba, Polish general (d. 1947).
  • 1892 – Theo Osterkamp, German general and pilot (d. 1975).
  • 1892 – Corrie ten Boom, Dutch-American clocksmith, Nazi resister, and author (d. 1983).
  • 1894 – Nikita Khrushchev, Russian general and politician, 7th Premier of the Soviet Union (d. 1971).
  • 1912 – Kim Il-sung, North Korean general and politician, 1st Supreme Leader of North Korea (d. 1994).
  • 1920 – Richard von Weizsäcker, German soldier and politician, 6th President of Germany (d. 2015).
  • 1921 – Georgy Beregovoy, Ukrainian-Russian general, pilot, and astronaut (d. 1995).
  • 1943 – Hugh Thompson, Jr., American soldier and pilot (d. 2006).
  • 1944 – Dzhokhar Dudayev, Russian-Chechen general and politician, 1st President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (d. 1996).

People (Deaths)

  • 1898 – Te Keepa Te Rangihiwinui, New Zealand commander and politician
  • Archibald Butt, American general and journalist (b. 1865): died on the Titanic.
  • 1944 – Nikolai Fyodorovich Vatutin, Russian general (b. 1901).
  • 1945 – Hermann Florstedt, German SS officer (b. 1895).
  • 1980 – Raymond Bailey, American actor and soldier (b. 1904).
  • 1989 – Hu Yaobang, Chinese soldier and politician, former General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (b. 1915).
  • 1998 – Pol Pot, Cambodian general and politician, 29th Prime Minister of Cambodia (b. 1925).
  • 2017 – Emma Morano, Italian supercentenarian, last person verified born in the 1800s (b. 1899).

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