On this day: The Battle of Bunker Hill

Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 17 June

The Battle of Bunker Hill took place on this day in 1775, the British victory over America starting the War of Independence. Picture: Getty

National day of Iceland.

1390: Elgin Cathedral burned by Wolf of Badenoch, Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan, son of Robert II.

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1567: Queen Mary was imprisoned in Lochleven Castle by the Council of Scotland.

1579: Sir Francis Drake proclaimed England’s sovereignty over New Albion (now California).

1775: The Battle of Bunker Hill took place, with victory for the British under General Howe over American troops at the start of the War of Independence.

1823: Charles Macintosh, Glasgow-born chemist, patented waterproof cloth.

1860: The 692-foot liner Great Eastern, designed by Brunel and Russell, began her first transatlantic voyage.

1867: Joseph Lister performed the first operation under aseptic conditions, on his sister Isabella, at Glasgow Infirmary.

1939: German multiple-murderer Eugen Weidmann was the last to be publicly guillotined, outside Versailles prison.

1940: The British troopship Lancastria, carrying 4,000 troops, was sunk by enemy bombing off St Nazaire. About 2,500 died.

1944: Iceland became an independent republic.

1947: The first round-the-world airline service was opened by Pan-American Airways.

1950: The first kidney transplant was performed, at Little Company of Mary Hospital, Chicago, by Doctor Richard Lawler.

1952: First drive on-drive off ferry, British Rail’s Lord Warden, was launched, for Dover-Boulogne route.

1969: Boris Spassky became world chess champion, beating Tigran Petrosian.

1970: Decimal postage stamps (10p, 20p, 50p) went on sale in Britain.

1982: General Leopoldo Galtieri resigned as president of Argentina after Falklands war humiliation.

1982: Italian banker Roberto Calvi, who was known as “God’s banker” due to his close ties with the Vatican, was found hanging under Blackfriars Bridge in London.

1991: Iraq freed British engineer Douglas Brand, jailed for life for spying, after appeal by Edward Heath.

1991: In South Africa, the repeal of the Population Registration Act of 1950 officially ended apartheid.

1994: American Football star OJ Simpson, facing charges of murdering his former wife and her boyfriend, surrendered to police after a motorway pursuit filmed live on television.

1995: Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams pulled his party out of peace talks with the government and hinted at a resumption of IRA violence in Northern Ireland.

2008: The laptop of Hazel Blears, the communities secretary, was stolen. It contained restricted government files on extremism and defence.

2009: In the ongoing row over parliamentary expenses, Labour Treasury minister Kitty Ussher quit amid allegations she avoided paying £17,000 of tax on the sale of her constituency home.

2010: A £7 billion project to replace Sea King helicopters that support the country’s mountain rescue teams was suspended.


Konnie Huq, TV presenter and journalist, 40; Sir Gerald Gordon KBE, Sheriff of Glasgow and Strathkelvin 1978-99, 86; Derek Ibbotson MBE, athlete, 83; Greg Kinnear, actor, 52; Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London 2000-08, MP 1987-2001, 70; Ken Loach, director, 79; Alistair McHarg, Scottish rugby player, 71; Barry Manilow, singer and songwriter, 72; Iain Milne, Scottish rugby player, 59; Diane Modahl, athlete, 49; Jason Patric, actor, 49; Chris Spedding, guitarist, 71; Venus Williams, Grand Slam-winning tennis champion, 35; Jordan Henderson, English international footballer, 25; Thomas Haden Church, actor and director, 55; Shane Watson, Australian Test cricketer, 34.


Births: 1239 King Edward I; 1703 John Wesley, evangelist and founder of the Methodist movement; 1832 Sir William Crookes, physicist, discoverer of thallium; 1881 Tommy Burns, Canadian heavyweight boxer; 1882 Igor Stravinsky, composer; 1895 Very Rev Lord MacLeod of Fuinary, founder Iona Community; 1911 James Cameron, journalist; 1917 Dean Martin, singer and actor; 1920 Beryl Reid, actress and comedienne.

Deaths: 1719 Joseph Addison, poet, essayist and founder of the Spectator in 1711 with Sir Richard Steele; 1898 Sir Edward Burne-Jones, painter; 1957 Dorothy Richardson, novelist; 1997 Emilio Coia, cartoonist; 1999 Cardinal Basil Hume, Archbishop of Westminster; 1999 Ken Oliver, racehorse trainer; 2001 Cardinal Thomas Winning, Archbishop of Glasgow; 2006 Julian Slade, composer; 2008 Cyd Charisse, dancer and actress; 2009 Walter Cronkite, American broadcaster; 2010 Andy Ripley OBE, rugby player.