On this day: Eric Liddell| Ronald Ross| Lockerbie

On this day in 1989 51 people drowned when pleasure cruiser Marchioness sank on the Thames after being hit by a dredger. Picture: PA
On this day in 1989 51 people drowned when pleasure cruiser Marchioness sank on the Thames after being hit by a dredger. Picture: PA
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Events, Birthdays and Anniversaries

20 AUGUST

1158: St Ronald, Earl of Orkney, was killed. He was canonised in 1192.

1791: Alaska was discovered by Danish navigator Vitus Jonas Bering.

1897: Ronald Ross, first Scot to win a Nobel prize (1902), dissected an anopheles mosquito and discovered the link with malaria.

1913: Adolphe Pegoud baled out from a Bleriot aeroplane 700 feet above Buc in France. He was the first parachutist to jump from an aircraft.

1918: British offensive on Western Front opened in First World War.

1924: The Scottish sprinter, Eric Liddell, refused to run in the heats of the 100 metres at the Paris Olympics on a Sunday as it was against his religious convictions to do so. He had been tipped as the likely winner.

1935: The discovery of vitamin E was announced by scientists at the University of California.

1940: Leon Trotsky, exiled Russian revolutionary, was hit on the head with an ice pick at his home near Mexico City. He died 26 hours later, and his killer was sentenced to 20 years in jail.

1940: Winston Churchill made his famous tribute to the RAF in the House of Commons, when he said: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

1956: Calder Hall in Cumbria, the world’s first large-scale atomic power station, began generating.

1968: Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact nations invaded Czechoslovakia to crush Alexander Dubcek’s liberal regime.

1975: United States spaceship Viking I, bound for Mars, was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

1989: Fifty-one people partying on the Thames pleasure cruiser Marchioness drowned when it was hit by a dredger.

1994: There were calls for an urgent investigation by the Lord Advocate into a third drugs-related death in three months at a “rave” at the Hangar 13 nightspot in Ayr.

2008: 153 people were killed when a Spanish airliner bound for the Canary Islands crashed on take off in Madrid. There were only 19 survivors in what was Spain’s most deadly air disaster in more than 20 years.

2009: The Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, left Scotland, bound for Libya, after being freed from prison on compassionate grounds.

BIRTHDAYS

Sylvester McCoy, Dunoon-born actor, seventh Dr Who, 70; Amy Adams, American actress, 39; Ronnie Browne, folk singer (The Corries) and painter, 76; Finlay Calder, former Scotland rugby captain, 56; Jamie Cullum, singer, 34; John Emburey, cricketer and coach, 61; Dame Anne Evans DBE, soprano, 72; Alvin Greenidge, West Indian cricketer, 56; Lord Macdonald of Tradeston CBE, Minister for the Cabinet Office 2001-03, 73; Tom Mangold, broadcaster, 79; Robin Oakley, journalist and broadcaster, 72; Joe Pasquale, comedian and television presenter, 52; Robert Plant CBE, British rock singer (Led Zeppelin), 65; Simon Shepherd, actor, 57; David Walliams, comedian (Little Britain), 42.

ANNIVERSARIES

Births: 1818 Emily Brontë, writer; 1833 Benjamin Harrison, 23rd United States president; 1860 Raymond Poincaré, French statesman; 1905 Jack Teagarden, jazz trombonist and band leader; 1921 Jacqueline Susann, novelist;

Deaths: 1912 General William Booth, social reformer, founder of the Salvation Army; 1936 Frederico Garcia Lorca, dramatist and poet (murdered); 1969 Dudley D Watkins, cartoonist (The Broons, Oor Wullie and Desperate Dan).