On this day: Mount Pelee erupted on Martinique

Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 8 May

On this day in 1902 Mount Pelee erupted on the Caribbean island of Martinique, killing more than 30,000 people. Picture: Getty

1660: Restoration of the British monarchy.

1701: “Captain” William Kidd was tried at London’s Old Bailey for piracy – he was hanged on 23 May.

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1895: Japan surrendered Liao Tung Peninsula and Port Arthur to China in return for huge indemnity.

1886: Coca-Cola was invented by Doctor John Pemberton – he mixed the multi-million pound brew at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia.

1902: Mount Pelée erupted on the Caribbean island of Martinique. In three minutes, molten lava obliterated the town of St Pierre, incinerated ten square miles of countryside and killed more than 30,000 people.

1931: A group of leaders from Scottish industry, commerce, trade unions and local authorities convened a meeting in Edinburgh which resulted in the formation of the Scottish National Development Council.

1933: The secret of the treasure ship of Sutton Hoo began to be revealed when the owner of the land, near Ipswich, Suffolk, suggested experts should excavate the curiously-shaped burial mound in which it stood. Inside was found an 89ft-long Anglo-Saxon open ship with a burial chamber on deck full of magnificent treasure.

1933: The first execution by gas chamber in the United States was carried out in the state of Nevada.

1942: Naval battle of the Coral Sea ended. Although the United States lost the aircraft carrier Lexington, the battle was the first allied success in the Pacific, saving Australia from invasion.

1945: VE-Day. Victory came to Europe at one minute past midnight with the unconditional surrender of Germany.

1955: The European Cup for the football league champions of the respective nations was approved by Fifa.

1961: George Blake, British naval intelligence officer and Soviet spy, was jailed for 42 years, the longest sentence ever imposed in Britain.

1970: The Beatles’ final album, Let It Be, was released.

1984: The Thames Barrier at Woolwich was officially opened.

1989: US space shuttle Atlantis glided out of orbit into safe landing in California’s Mojave Desert after four-day mission.

1990: Ferranti, now GEC Ferranti, clinched contract to supply radar system for European fighter project.

1991: Scientists said they had discovered the gene which determined the difference between the sexes.

1992: The government announced that MI5 would take over responsibility for intelligence against the IRA in mainland Britain.

1993: British boxer Lennox Lewis became WBC world heavyweight champion, beating Tony Tucker.

1995: Two-thousand beacons blazed out across the UK in a climax of celebrations to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Allied victory in Europe.

2008: ITV was fined a record £5.68 million by Ofcom for abusing premium rate phone lines used in viewer competitions in shows like Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, Gameshow Marathon and Soapstar Superstar.

2009: The Daily Telegraph began publishing details of MPs’ expenses claims.


Sir David Attenborough, naturalist and broadcaster, 88; Pat Barker CBE, novelist, 71; Jack Charlton OBE, football player and manager, 79; Lucius Edward William Plantagenet Cary, 15th Viscount Falkland, premier viscount of Scotland, 79; Melissa Gilbert, actress, 50; Enrique Iglesias, singer, 39; Keith Jarrett, jazz musician, 69; Lord Lamont of Lerwick, chancellor of the Exchequer 1990-3, 72; Dame Felicity Lott DBE, soprano, 67; Thomas Pynchon, author, 77; John Reid, MP, home secretary 2006-7 and chairman of Celtic Football Club 2007-11, 67; Dave Rowntree, drummer (Blur), animator and political activist, 50; David Sole, Scotland Grand Slam rugby captain, 52.


Births: 1828 John Henri Dunant, Swiss philanthropist and founder of the International Red Cross; 1884 Harry S Truman, 33rd United States president; 1893 Francis Ouimet, amateur golfer; 1903 Fernandel (Fernand Constantin), French film actor; 1932 Sonny Liston, heavyweight boxing champion; 1940 Peter Benchley, author (Jaws); 1940 Ricky Nelson, singer.

Deaths: 1873 John Stuart Mill, philosopher; 1880 Gustave Flaubert, novelist; 1903 Paul Gauguin, post-Impressionist painter; 1947 Harry Gordon Selfridge, store owner; 1988 Robert Heinlein, science fiction writer; 1990 Cardinal Thomas O’Fiach, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland; 1999 Sir Dirk Bogarde, actor and author; 2000 Douglas Fairbanks junior, actor; 2012 Maurice Sendak, author and illustrator.