On this day: Alexander Fleming died | Tsunami off the coast of Japan

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Events, birthdays, deaths and anniversaries from 11 March

1618: Margaret and Philippa Flower were burned at the stake in Lincoln for witchcraft. They put a curse on the man who convicted them, Judge Charles Holiment, who, when he heard about it, could not stop laughing and died in a hysterical fit.

1669: In one of the most violent of Mount Etna’s 250 recorded eruptions, a two-mile-wide river of lava poured towards Catania, 18 miles away. Citizens built a 60ft high wall to check the flow, but molten lava poured over the top, killing 20,000 people.

1784: British signed peace treaty with Tippoo of Mysore in India.

1845: Maoris staged further uprisings against British rule in New Zealand.

1917: British forces captured Baghdad.

1935: The German air force, the Luftwaffe, was created by Hermann Goering.

1938: German forces entered Austria.

1941: The United States Lend-Lease Bill was signed by president Franklin D Roosevelt. It enabled Britain to borrow millions of dollars to buy food and arms needed for the Second World War.

1943: British Eighth Army repulsed heavy German counterattacks in Tunisia.

1945: The huge Krupps factory in Germany was destroyed when 1,000 Allied bombers took part in a daylight raid.

1969: Golda Meir became prime minister of Israel after the death of Levi Eshkol. She resigned in 1974.

1985: The al-Fayed brothers won control of the House of Fraser Group to become owners of Harrods.

1988: The Bank of England pound note, introduced on 12 March, 1797, ceased to be legal tender in Britain at midnight. When the deadline for returning old notes was reached, it was estimated that 70 million were outstanding.

1989: An East German and his wife died trying to cross the Berlin Wall in a hot air balloon.

1990: Lithuania became the first Soviet republic to seek secession from the Soviet Union after declaring itself a sovereign state.

1990: Chile’s General Augusto Pinochet bowed out as president after 16 years of dictatorship.

2004: Some 200 people died when a series of bombs ripped through rush-hour trains at stations in Madrid. Al-Qaeda later claimed responsibility.

2006: Michelle Bachelet was inaugurated as first female president of Chile.

2009: Some 17 people were fatally shot at the Winnenden school in Germany.

2011: An 8.9-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Japan triggered a ten-metre tsunami, killing more than 13,000 people.


Rupert Murdoch, publisher and newspaper proprietor, 82; Thora Birch, actress, 31; Louise Brough, winner of 13 Wimbledon titles, 90; Peter Eyre, actor and designer, 71; David Gentleman, artist, engraver, lithographer and designer, 83; Alex Kingston, actress, 50; Lord (Nigel) Lawson of Blaby, chancellor 1983-89, 81; Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen, interior designer, 48.


Births: 1819 Sir Henry Tate, philanthropist and founder of the Tate Gallery, London; 1885 Sir Malcolm Campbell, holder of world land and water speed records; 1952 Douglas Adams, author (The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).

Deaths: 1820 Sir Alexander Mackenzie (of Dunkeld), explorer of North America; 1936 Earl Beatty, admiral and commander at Battle of Jutland; 1955 Sir Alexander Fleming, discoverer of penicillin.