On This Day … 08 May


  • 453 BC – Spring and Autumn period: The house of Zhao defeats the house of Zhi, ending the Battle of Jinyang, a military conflict between the elite families of the State of Jin.
  • 413 – Emperor Honorius signs an edict providing tax relief for the Italian provinces Tuscia, Campania, Picenum, Samnium, Apulia, Lucania and Calabria, which were plundered by the Visigoths.
  • 1429 – Joan of Arc lifts the Siege of Orléans, turning the tide of the Hundred Years’ War.
  • 1450 – Kentishmen revolt against King Henry VI.
  • 1516 – A group of imperial guards, led by Trịnh Duy Sản, murdered Emperor Lê Tương Dực and fled, leaving the capital Thăng Long undefended.
  • 1541 – Hernando de Soto stops near present-day Walls, Mississippi, and sees the Mississippi River (then known by the Spanish as Río de Espíritu Santo, the name given to it by Alonso Álvarez de Pineda in 1519).
  • 1794 – Branded a traitor during the Reign of Terror, French chemist Antoine Lavoisier, who was also a tax collector with the Ferme générale, is tried, convicted and guillotined in one day in Paris.
  • 1821 – Greek War of Independence: The Greeks defeat the Turks at the Battle of Gravia Inn.
  • 1846 – Mexican–American War: Zachary Taylor defeats a Mexican force north of the Rio Grande in the first major battle of the war.
  • 1886 – Pharmacist John Pemberton first sells a carbonated beverage named “Coca-Cola” as a patent medicine.
  • 1919 – Edward George Honey proposes the idea of a moment of silence to commemorate the Armistice of 11 November 1918 which ended World War I.
  • 1927 – Attempting to make the first non-stop transatlantic flight from Paris to New York, French war heroes Charles Nungesser and François Coli disappear after taking off aboard The White Bird biplane.
  • 1941 – World War II: The German Luftwaffe launches a bombing raid on Nottingham and Derby.
  • 1942 – World War II: The German 11th Army begins Operation Trappenjagd (Bustard Hunt) and destroys the bridgehead of the three Soviet armies defending the Kerch Peninsula.
  • 1942 – World War II: The Battle of the Coral Sea comes to an end with Imperial Japanese Navy aircraft carrier aircraft attacking and sinking the United States Navy aircraft carrier USS Lexington.
  • 1942 – World War II: Gunners of the Ceylon Garrison Artillery on Horsburgh Island in the Cocos Islands rebel in the Cocos Islands Mutiny. Their mutiny is crushed and three of them are executed, the only British Commonwealth soldiers to be executed for mutiny during the Second World War.
  • 1945 – World War II: The German Instrument of Surrender signed at Reims comes into effect.
  • 1945 – End of the Prague uprising, celebrated now as a national holiday in the Czech Republic.
  • 1945 – Hundreds of Algerian civilians are killed by French Army soldiers in the Sétif massacre.
  • 1945 – The Halifax riot starts when thousands of civilians and servicemen rampage through Halifax, Nova Scotia.
  • 1946 – Estonian schoolgirls Aili Jõgi and Ageeda Paavel blow up the Soviet memorial which stood in front of the Bronze Soldier of Tallinn.
  • 1963 – South Vietnamese soldiers under the Roman Catholic President Ngo Dinh Diem open fire on Buddhists defying a ban on the flying of the Buddhist flag on Vesak, killing nine and sparking the Buddhist crisis.
  • 1972 – Vietnam War: US President Richard Nixon announces his order to place naval mines in major North Vietnamese ports in order to stem the flow of weapons and other goods to that nation.
  • 1984 – Corporal Denis Lortie enters the Quebec National Assembly and opens fire, killing three people and wounding 13. René Jalbert, Sergeant-at-Arms of the Assembly, succeeds in calming him, for which he will later receive the Cross of Valour.
  • 1987 – The SAS kills eight Provisional Irish Republican Army volunteers and a civilian during an ambush in Loughgall, Northern Ireland.
  • Liberation Day (Czech Republic).
  • Veterans Day (Norway).
  • Victory in Europe Day (and its related observances, Europe).
    • Time of Remembrance and Reconciliation for Those Who Lost Their Lives during the Second World War, continues to 09 May.
  • World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day (International).

People (Births)

  • 1508 – Charles Wriothesley, English Officer of Arms (d. 1562).
  • 1629 – Niels Juel, Norwegian-Danish admiral (d. 1697).
  • 1632 – Heino Heinrich Graf von Flemming, German field marshal and politician (d. 1706).
  • 1653 – Claude Louis Hector de Villars, French general and politician, French Minister of Defence (d. 1734).
  • 1670 – Charles Beauclerk, 1st Duke of St Albans, English soldier and politician, Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire (d. 1726).
  • 1828 – Henry Dunant, Swiss businessman and activist, co-founded the Red Cross, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1910).
  • 1884 – Harry S. Truman, American colonel and politician, 33rd President of the United States (d. 1972).
  • 1934 – David Williamson, Baron Williamson of Horton, English soldier and politician (d. 2015).
  • 1947 – John Reid, Baron Reid of Cardowan, Scottish historian and politician, Secretary of State for Defence.
  • 1955 – Mladen Markač, Croatian general.

People (Deaths)

  • 1785 – Étienne François, duc de Choiseul, French general and politician, Prime Minister of France (b. 1719).
  • 1822 – John Stark, American general (b. 1728).
  • 1837 – Alexander Balashov, Russian general and politician, Russian Minister of Police (b. 1770).
  • 1842 – Jules Dumont d’Urville, French admiral and explorer (b. 1790).
  • 1893 – Manuel González Flores, Mexican general and president, 1880–1884 (b. 1833).
  • 1907 – Edmund G. Ross, American soldier and politician, 13th Governor of New Mexico Territory (b. 1826).
  • 1942 – Nikolai Reek, Estonian general and politician, 11th Estonian Minister of War (b. 1890).
  • 1945 – Frank Bourne, British soldier, last survivor of the Battle of Rorke’s Drift (b. 1854).
  • 1945 – Wilhelm Rediess, German SS officer (b. 1900).
  • 1945 – Bernhard Rust, German lieutenant and politician (b. 1883).
  • 1945 – Josef Terboven, German lieutenant and politician (b. 1898).
  • 1980 – Geoffrey Baker, English Field Marshal and Chief of the General Staff of the British Army (b. 1920).
  • 1993 – Avram Davidson, American soldier and author (b. 1923).
  • 2014 – Roger L. Easton, American scientist, co-invented the GPS (b. 1921).
  • 2015 – Atanas Semerdzhiev, Bulgarian soldier and politician, 1st Vice President of Bulgaria (b. 1924).

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