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18 June 2022

The 14th of June

Tag(s): History, Languages & Culture
This week I celebrated my birthday on Tuesday, 14 June. I’m sure everybody regards their birthday as special, but I certainly always have and over the years seem to have found some evidence for it. One thing I swear is that it is always fine weather on my birthday, at least wherever I am and that was again true with another lovely day on Tuesday. I spent part of it watching the fifth day of one of the greatest Test Matches of all time as England, despite conceding over 500 runs in the first innings, still won by five wickets scoring a massive 299 in 50 overs on the last day, as if it were a one-day match rather than the fifth day of a Test Match, breaking various records in the process.

We then went out for a nice dinner in London before seeing a fine production at Holland Park Opera of Carmen, one of our favourites: which seems appropriate since my wife’s name is Carmen. It’s the fourth time we have seen this opera on the stage, and it is the most performed opera in the world, many years ahead of its time and dealing with controversial issues in a controversial but nevertheless highly entertaining way.

One of my best memories of the 14th June was 40 years ago when on that day Argentine forces surrendered to Great Britain ending the 74-day Falkland Islands conflict. I was in Chile at the time so celebrated this in great style with my friends as Chile had greatly supported Great Britain in its efforts. I blogged about this in June 2012 for the 30th anniversary (see my blog The Falklands Conflicts 16th June, 2012 However, I was recently shocked to learn that the new potentially disastrous Government of Chile has reversed this long-term policy and intends to support Argentina’s claim for sovereignty over Las Malvinas. This is against the UN Charter which supports self-determination and nearly 100% of the inhabitants of the Falklands, mainly indigenous, wish to stay under British rule. Indeed, since the war was won, under British rule the standard of living in the Falklands has improved hugely and the GDP per capita is higher than in the main part of the United Kingdom.

But one of my worst memories of the 14th of June was just five years ago when a fire in the Grenfell tower apartment building in North Kensington in London left 72 people dead and another 74 injured. Five years later no one in any position, contractors, politicians or suppliers has paid any price for this whatsoever while the law allowing such unsafe buildings remains untouched.

Other momentous events that have taken place on my special day are as follows:

1158- The city of Munich is founded by Henry the Lion on the banks of the river Isar.

1216- First Barons’ War: Prince Louis of France takes the city of Winchester, abandoned by John, King of England, and soon conquers over half of the kingdom.

1287 – Kublai Khan defeats the force of Nayan and other traditionalist Borjigin to gain princes In East  Mongolia and Manchuria.

 1381- Richard II of England met leaders of the Peasants’ Revolt on Blackheath. The Tower of London is stormed by rebels who enter without resistance.

1404 – Welsh rebel leader Owen Glendower, having declared himself Prince of Wales, allies himself with the French against King Henry IV of England.

1645- English Civil War: Battle of Naseby, Leicestershire. The new model army under Oliver Cromwell and Thomas Fairfax beat the royalist forces of King Charles I, one of the most significant defeats of the King leading ultimately to his prosecution and execution.

1667-The Raid on the Medway by the Dutch fleet in The Second Anglo-Dutch War ends. It had lasted for five days and resulted in the worst ever defeat of the Royal Navy.

1690 – King William III of England (William of Orange) lands in Ireland to confront the former King James II. This leads to the Battle of the Boyne and his victory there confirms that he will reign with his wife as joint monarchs of England. This was the Glorious Revolution that was cemented in 1689 with the Bill of Rights which limited the powers of the monarch and founded the constitutional monarchy that has endured ever since.

1775 – American Revolutionary War: the Continental Army is established by the Continental Congress, marking the birth of the United States Armed Forces.

1777 – The Second Continental Congress passes the Flag Act of 1777 adopting the Stars & Stripes as the Flag of the United States. This date is still celebrated as a holiday in the United States of America.

1789 – Mutiny on the Bounty: HMS Bounty mutiny survivors including Captain William Bligh and 18 others reached Timor after a nearly 4600-mile journey in an open boat.

1800 – The French Army of First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte defeats the Austrians at the Battle of Marengo in Northern Italy and re-conquers Italy.

1807 – Emperor Napoleon’s French Grand Armée defeats the Russian Army at the Battle of Freeland in Poland (modern Russian Kaliningrad Oblast) ending the War of the Fourth Coalition.

1822- Charles Babbage proposes a difference engine in a paper to the Royal Astronomical Society, which eventually leads to the modern computer.

1830 – Beginning of the French colonisation of Algeria: 34,000 French soldiers begin their invasion of Algiers, landing 27 km west at Sidi Fredj.

1839 – Henley Royal Regatta: the village of Henley-on-Thames, on the River Thames in Oxfordshire stages its first regatta.

1846 – Bear Flag Revolt begins: Anglo settlers in Sonoma, California, start a rebellion against Mexico and proclaim the California Republic.

1863 – American Civil War: Second Battle of Winchester: a Union garrison is defeated by the Army of Northern Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley town of Winchester, Virginia.

1872 – Trade unions are legalised in Canada.

1900 – Hawaii becomes a United States territory.

1900 – The Second German Naval Law calls for the Imperial German Navy to be doubled in size, resulting in an Anglo-German naval arms race, and is part of the lead up to the First World War.

1907 – The National Association for Women’s Suffrage succeeds in getting Norwegian women the right to vote in parliamentary elections.

1919 – John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown depart from St John’s, Newfoundland on the first non-stop transatlantic flight.

1926 – Brazil leaves the League of Nations.

1940 – World War II: the German occupation of Paris begins.

1940- The Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp open ed in Nazi-controlled Poland with Polish prisoners of war. Later civilian Jews and gypsies were first imprisoned there. Approximately 3 million would die within its walls.

1941- Estonia lost 11,000 inhabitants as a consequence of mass deportations into Siberia. It would seem that nothing changes there.

1949– Albert II, a recess monkey, rides a V2 rocket to an altitude of 134 km (83 miles) thereby becoming the first mammal and first monkey in space.

1959– Disneyland Monorail System, the first daily operating monorail system in the Western hemisphere, opens to the public in Anaheim, California.

1966 – The Vatican announces the abolition of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (“index of prohibited books”) which was originally instituted in 1557.

1985– Five members of the European Economic Community signed the Schengen agreement establishing a free travel zone with no border controls, leading to the mass immigration crisis of today.


1811– Harriet Beecher Stowe, American author and activist whose book Uncle Tom’s Cabin famously attacked slavery and possibly contributed to the developments leading up to the Civil War.

1909– Burl Ives, American actor and singer, Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in The Big Country 1958.

1910– Rudolf Kempe, German pianist and conductor. As Principal Conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (1961-2) and then Artistic Director (1963-1975) he abolished Sir Thomas Beecham’s male-only rule, introducing women into the RPO
1916– Dorothy McGuire, American actress. Nominated for Academy Award for Best Actress in Gentleman’s Agreement 1947.

1919- Gene Barry, American actor, Golden Globe Award 1965 for Burke’s Law.

1919-Sam Wanamaker, American actor and director and the man responsible for the re-foundation of the Globe Theatre.

1924- James Black, Scottish pharmacologist and academic, Noble prize laureate.

1928- Ernest “Che” Guevara, Argentinian-Cuban Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, guerrilla leader and politician who contributed to the Cuban Revolution and was later captured on the run in Bolivia and summarily executed by the CIA.

1938– Julie Felix, American – English singer songwriter and guitarist. Felix arrived in the UK in 1964 and became the first solo folk performer signed to a major British record label when she gained a recording contract with Decca Records. In 1965, she was reportedly the first folksinger to fill the Royal Albert Hall.

1939- Peter Mayle, English author and screenwriter. Successful career in advertising with Ogilvy et al and he wrote the best seller A Year in Provence.

1939- Colin Thubron CBE, English travel writer, novelist and journalist. In 2008 The Times ranked him among the 50 greatest post-war writers. My favourite is In Siberia 1999.

1942– Jonathan Raban, English author and academic. Another travel writer who has won numerous awards. I have read four of his books, but my favourite is Coasting 1986.

1945– Rod Argent, English singer-songwriter and keyboard player with The Zombies. Wrote She’s Not There and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2019.

1946- Donald Trump, American businessman, television personality and 45th president of United States. I don’t need to say any more.

1949 – Sir Antony Sher, South African – British actor, director, screenwriter. Two-time Lawrence Olivier Award  winner and a four-time nominee. I saw him as a fine King Lear at the RSC in 2016.
1950– Rowan Williams, Baron Williams of Oystermouth, PC. Archbishop of Canterbury and theologian.

1951– Paul Boateng, English lawyer and politician, British High Commissioner to South Africa. The UK's first Black Cabinet Minister in May 2002, when he was appointed as Chief Secretary to the Treasury.

1961– Boy George, English singer-songwriter and producer,  In 2015, Boy George received an Ivor Novello Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Compsers and Authors for Outstanding Services to British Music.  In 2002, he was voted 46th in a BBC poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.

1969– Steffi Graf, German tennis player, She was ranked world number one for a record 377 weeks and won 22 major singles titles, the second-most since the start of the Open Era in 1968 and third-most of all time (behind Margaret Court's 24 and Serena Williams' 23). In 1988, Graf became the first tennis player to achieve the Golden Slam by winning all four major singles titles and the Olympic gold medal in the same calendar year. Furthermore, she is the only tennis player, male or female, to have won each major tournament at least four times. I met her once in Tokyo.

1982– Lang Lang, Chinese pianist. Active since the 1990s, he was the first Chinese pianist to be engaged by the Berrl;in Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic and some top American orchestras.


1801– Benedict Arnold, American general during the American Revolution, later turned British spy.

1914 – Adlai Stevenson I, American lawyer and politician, 23rd vice president of the United States.

1920– Max Weber, German sociologist and economic economist, one of the fathers of sociology.

1927– Jerome K Jerome, English author, Three Men in a Boat.

1936– GK Chesterton, English essayist, poet, playwright, and novelist. The Father Brown series.

1946– John Logie Baird, Scottish – English physicist and engineer. Demonstrated the world’s first working live television system in 1926. Numerous awards and prizes.

1986- Jorge Luis Borges, Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator. Fluent in several languages but became completely blind by age 55 which may have influenced his style of imagination which subsequently influenced the whole school of Spanish-American writing.

1986– Alan Jay Lerner, American librettist and lyricist who collaborated with composer Frederick Loewe on the hit Broadway musicals Brigadoon (1947), Paint Your Wagon (1951), My Fair Lady (1956), and Camelot (1960) and the film Gigi (1958).

1991– Dame Peggy Ashcroft, English actress. Won Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in A Passage to India 1984 as well as four BAFTA Awards.

2007– Kurt Waldheim, Secretary-General of United Nations, Austrian politician, ninth president of Austria. Despite opposition from the US, UK and China and despite serving as an officer in the Wehrmacht, Waldheim served two terms as Secretary General.

Holidays and observances

 I have mentioned that this is Flag Day in the United States and as you can imagine in the Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands it is celebrated every year as Liberation Day. But it is also World Blood Donor Day. My brother has won recognition for the sheer number of times that he has given blood.

I’m sure everyone could play this game and do research into special events that took place on their birthday. As you can see I have quite a variety to talk about, both good and bad, and affecting all the leading countries in the world.

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