On This Day … 20 June


  • 451 – Battle of Chalons: Flavius Aetius’ battles Attila the Hun. After the battle, which was inconclusive, Attila retreats, causing the Romans to interpret it as a victory.
  • 1180 – First Battle of Uji, starting the Genpei War in Japan.
  • 1620 – The Battle of Höchst takes place during the Thirty Years’ War.
  • 1631 – The Sack of Baltimore: The Irish village of Baltimore is attacked by Algerian pirates.
  • 1685 – Monmouth Rebellion: James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth declares himself King of England at Bridgwater.
  • 1756 – A British garrison is imprisoned in the Black Hole of Calcutta.
  • 1789 – Deputies of the French Third Estate take the Tennis Court Oath.
  • 1819 – The US vessel SS Savannah arrives at Liverpool, United Kingdom.
    • It is the first steam-propelled vessel to cross the Atlantic, although most of the journey is made under sail.
  • 1837 – Queen Victoria succeeds to the British throne.
  • 1840 – Samuel Morse receives the patent for the telegraph.
  • 1877 – Alexander Graham Bell installs the world’s first commercial telephone service in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
  • 1895 – The Kiel Canal, crossing the base of the Jutland peninsula and the busiest artificial waterway in the world, is officially opened.
  • 1942 – World War II: The Holocaust: Kazimierz Piechowski and three others, dressed as members of the SS-Totenkopfverbände, steal an SS staff car and escape from the Auschwitz concentration camp.
  • 1943 – World War II: The Royal Air Force launches Operation Bellicose, the first shuttle bombing raid of the war.
    • Lancaster bombers damage the V-2 rocket production facilities at the Zeppelin Works while en route to an air base in Algeria.
  • 1944 – World War II: The Battle of the Philippine Sea concludes with a decisive US naval victory.
    • The lopsided naval air battle is also known as the “Great Marianas Turkey Shoot”.
  • 1944 – Continuation War: The Soviet Union demands an unconditional surrender from Finland during the beginning of partially successful Vyborg-Petrozavodsk Offensive.
    • The Finnish government refuses.
  • 1944 – The experimental MW 18014 V-2 rocket reaches an altitude of 176 km, becoming the first man-made object to reach outer space.
  • 1945 – The United States Secretary of State approves the transfer of Wernher von Braun and his team of Nazi rocket scientists to the US under Operation Paperclip.
  • 1948 – The Deutsche Mark is introduced in Western Allied-occupied Germany.
    • The Soviet Military Administration in Germany responded by imposing the Berlin Blockade four days later.
  • 1960 – The Mali Federation gains independence from France (it later splits into Mali and Senegal).
  • 1963 – Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet Union and the United States sign an agreement to establish the so-called “red telephone” link between Washington and Moscow.
  • 1975 – The film Jaws is released in the United States, becoming the highest-grossing film of that time and starting the trend of films known as “summer blockbusters”.
  • 1979 – ABC News correspondent Bill Stewart is shot dead by a Nicaraguan soldier under the regime of Anastasio Somoza Debayle. The murder is caught on tape and sparks an international outcry against the regime.
  • 1982 – The International Conference on the Holocaust and Genocide opens in Tel Aviv, despite attempts by the Turkish government to cancel it, as it included presentations on the Armenian genocide.
  • 1982 – The Argentine Corbeta Uruguay base on Southern Thule surrenders to Royal Marine commandos in the final action of the Falklands War.

People (Births)

  • 1583 – Jacob De la Gardie, Swedish soldier and politician, Lord High Constable of Sweden (d. 1652).
  • 1737 – Tokugawa Ieharu, Japanese shōgun (d. 1786).
  • 1763 – Wolfe Tone, Irish rebel leader (d. 1798).
  • 1771 – Hermann von Boyen, Prussian general and politician, Prussian Minister of War (d. 1848).
  • 1893 – Wilhelm Zaisser, German soldier and politician (d. 1958).
  • 1899 – Jean Moulin, French soldier and engineer (d. 1943).
  • 1920 – Geoffrey Baker, English Field Marshal and Chief of the General Staff of the British Army (d. 1980).
  • 1925 – Audie Murphy, American lieutenant and actor, Medal of Honor recipient (d. 1971).
  • 1926 – Rehavam Ze’evi, Israeli general and politician, 9th Israeli Minister of Tourism (d. 2001).
  • 1946 – Xanana Gusmão, Timorese soldier and politician, 1st President of East Timor.
  • 1954 – Ilan Ramon, Israeli colonel, pilot, and astronaut (d. 2003).
  • 1963 – Kirk Baptiste, American sprinter.
  • 1964 – Silke Möller, German runner.
  • 1980 – Fabian Wegmann, German cyclist.

People (Deaths)

  • 1810 – Axel von Fersen the Younger, Swedish general and politician (b. 1755).
  • 1815 – Guillaume Philibert Duhesme, French general (b. 1766).
  • 1820 – Manuel Belgrano, Argentinian general, economist, and politician (b. 1770).
  • 1847 – Juan Larrea, Argentinian captain and politician (b. 1782).
  • 1869 – Hijikata Toshizō, Japanese commander (b. 1835).
  • 1872 – Élie Frédéric Forey, French general (b. 1804).
  • 2002 – Tinus Osendarp, Dutch runner (b. 1916).

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