On This Day … 20 October


  • 1568 – The Spanish Duke of Alba defeats a Dutch rebel force under William the Silent at the Battle of Jodoigne.
  • 1572 – Eighty Years’ War: Three thousand Spanish soldiers wade through fifteen miles of water in one night to effect the relief of Goes.
  • 1740 – France, Prussia, Bavaria and Saxony refuse to honour the Pragmatic Sanction, and the War of the Austrian Succession begins.
  • 1803 – The United States Senate ratifies the Louisiana Purchase.
  • 1818 – The Convention of 1818 is signed between the United States and the United Kingdom, which settles the Canada–United States border on the 49th parallel for most of its length.
  • 1827 – In the Battle of Navarino, a combined Turkish and Egyptian fleet is defeated by British, French and Russian naval forces in the last significant battle fought with wooden sailing ships.
  • 1883 – Peru and Chile sign the Treaty of Ancón, by which the Tarapacá province is ceded to the latter, bringing an end to Peru’s involvement in the War of the Pacific.
  • 1904 – Chile and Bolivia sign the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, delimiting the border between the two countries.
  • 1935 – The Long March, a mammoth retreat undertaken by the armed forces of the Chinese Communist Party a year prior, ends.
  • 1941 – World War II: Thousands of civilians in German-occupied Serbia are murdered in the Kragujevac massacre.
  • 1944 – World War II: The Soviet Army and Yugoslav Partisans liberate Belgrade.
  • 1944 – American general Douglas MacArthur fulfils his promise to return to the Philippines when he comes ashore during the Battle of Leyte.
  • 1947 – The House Un-American Activities Committee begins its investigation into Communist infiltration of the Hollywood film industry, resulting in a blacklist that prevents some from working in the industry for years.
  • 1952 – The Governor of Kenya declares a state of emergency and begins arresting hundreds of suspected leaders of the Mau Mau Uprising.
  • 1961 – The Soviet Union performs the first armed test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile, launching an R-13 from a Golf-class submarine.
  • 1962 – China launches simultaneous offensives in Ladakh and across the McMahon Line, igniting the Sino-Indian War.
  • 2011 – Libyan Civil War: Rebel forces capture Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and his son Mutassim in his hometown of Sirte and kill him shortly thereafter, ending the first Libyan civil war.
  • 100% certain that it’s World Statistics Day!

People (Births)

  • 1854 – Arthur Rimbaud, French soldier and poet (d. 1891).
  • 1897 – Yi Un, South Korean general (d. 1970).
  • 1900 – Wayne Morse, American lieutenant, lawyer, and politician (d. 1974).
  • 1918 – Martin Drewes, German soldier and pilot (d. 2013).
  • 1918 – Robert Lochner, American-German soldier and journalist (d. 2003).
  • 1925 – Art Buchwald, American soldier and journalist (d. 2007).
  • 1926 – Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu, 3rd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, English lieutenant and politician, founded the National Motor Museum (d. 2015).

People (Deaths)

  • 1401 – Klaus Störtebeker, German pirate.
  • 1865 – Champ Ferguson, American guerrilla leader (b. 1821).
  • 1941 – Ken Farnes, English cricketer and soldier (b. 1911).
  • 1950 – Henry L. Stimson, American colonel, lawyer, and politician, 46th United States Secretary of State (b. 1867).
  • 1953 – Werner Baumbach, German colonel and pilot (b. 1916).
  • 1956 – Lawrence Dale Bell, American industrialist and founder of Bell Aircraft Corporation (b. 1894).
  • 2011 – Muammar Gaddafi, Libyan colonel and politician, Prime Minister of Libya (b. 1942).
  • 2011 – Mutassim Gaddafi, Libyan colonel (b. 1977).
  • 2013 – Jovanka Broz, Croatian-Serbian colonel (b. 1924).
  • 2016 – Robert E. Kramek, former United States Coast Guard admiral (b. 1939).

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