Now & Then


18 JUNE 1429: Joan of Arc defeated the English at the Battle of Patay. 1583: The first life insurance policy was sold (according to records in London).

1746: Flora MacDonald met Prince Charles Edward Stuart, and persuaded him to don woman's clothes as part of escape plan.

1815: The Battle of Waterloo took place south of Brussels, the scene of Napoleon's defeat by the troops of Wellington and Blucher.

1822: London's first nude statue was unveiled in Hyde Park. The bronze figure of Achilles was sculpted by Sir Richard Westmacott. There were embarrassed gasps from onlookers as the statue was unveiled - and Achilles later acquired a bronze fig leaf.

1846: North British Railway was opened from Edinburgh to Berwick-on-Tweed. The inaugural train had five locomotives and 28 carriage.

1928: Roald Amundsen, Norwegian explorer and first to reach the South Pole in 1911, was lost in a flying accident near the North Pole.

1928: Amelia Earhart became the first woman to cross the Atlantic by air. She was passenger to pilot Wilmer Stulz, flying from Newfoundland to Wales. 1940: Winston Churchill spoke the words: "Let us brace ourselves to our duty and so bear ourselves that if the British Commonwealth and its Commonwealth lasts a thousand years, men will still say: 'This was their finest hour.'" That was at the moment that France was collapsing before German forces. 1953: On Farouk's abdication, Egypt was proclaimed a republic, with General Muhammad Naguib as its first president. 1963: Henry Cooper floored Cassius Clay (later Muhammed Ali) in round four at Wembley. But by the sixth, with Cooper badly cut, the fight was stopped and Clay remained world heavyweight champion.

1967: China announced it had exploded its first hydrogen bomb.

1970: The Conservatives won the general election with an overall majority of 30. Edward Heath became prime minister the following day.

1972: BEA Trident jet crashed near Staines, Middlesex, after take-off for Brussels, killing all 118 passengers and crew. …

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