On this day: Swiss duo become first men to reach stratosphere

Events, birthdays and anniversaries on 28 May

1931: Swiss professor Auguste Piccard and Charles Kipfer became first men to reach the stratosphere, ascending in their balloon to 52,462ft. Picture: Hulton/Getty
1931: Swiss professor Auguste Piccard and Charles Kipfer became first men to reach the stratosphere, ascending in their balloon to 52,462ft. Picture: Hulton/Getty

585 BC: A timely total eclipse of the sun decided the Battle of Mesopotamia between Medes (now Iran) and Lydians (now Turkey). The blackened sky was read as a sign of God’s anger and an immediate truce was called.

1841: Seven ministers of the Presbytery of Strathbogie were deposed by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for obeying the civil rather than the ecclesiastical law.

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1887: Seventy-three miners died in firedamp explosion at Udston Colliery, Lanarkshire.

1907: The first Isle of Man motor cycle TT race was held.

1931: Swiss professor Auguste Piccard and Charles Kipfer became first men to reach the stratosphere, ascending in their balloon to 52,462ft.

1934: The first Glyndebourne Festival of opera opened with Mozart’s Figaro.

1940: Belgian King Leopold III surrendered to Germany.

1967: Francis Chichester arrived back at Plymouth after sailing round the world single-handed in Gipsy Moth IV.

1982: Pope John Paul II arrived at Gatwick Airport – the first reigning Pope to visit Britain.

1982: A youth was jailed for 12 years for rape at the end of Scotland’s first private prosecution since 1909.

1982: Paratroopers recaptured Goose Green and Darwin in Falklands conflict, taking 1,400 Argentine prisoners. They lost 17 men, including Lieutenant-Colonel H Jones, commanding officer.

1990: President Saddam Hussein of Iraq gave warning that he would use nuclear weapons against Israel in the event of an Israeli attack on any Arab country.

1990: First all-woman crew to race round the world crossed the Whitbread Round the World Race Southampton finishing line in their yacht, Maiden.

1991: Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front took power in Addis Ababa as civil war ended.

1993: Nurse Beverley Allitt was given 13 life sentences for murdering four children and attacking others in her care.

1995: Serb forces took hostage more than 350 United Nations peace-keeping personnel, including 33 Britons, and used them as human shields against attacks on their weapon supplies.

2002: Nato declared Russia a limited partner in the Western alliance.

2002: The Mars Odyssey found signs of large ice deposits on Mars.

2003: Peter Hollingworth became the first governor-general of Australia to resign his office as a result of criticism of his conduct.

2004: The Iraqi Governing Council chose Ayad Allawi, a long-time anti-Saddam Hussein exile, as prime minister of Iraq’s interim government.

2008: More than 100 countries, including Britain, agreed to scrap their stocks of cluster bombs. The United States refused to take part.

2010: In West Bengal, India, a train derailment and subsequent collision killed 141 passengers.

Births: 1738 Joseph Guillotin, French physician who advocated use of beheading machine; 1759 William Pitt the Younger, prime minister; 1779 Thomas Moore, Irish poet and musician; 1818 Pierre Beauregard, American Confederate general; 1908 Ian Fleming, novelist who created “James Bond”; 1911 Dame Thora Hird, actress; 1940 Maeve Binchy, Irish novelist.

Deaths: 1849 Anne Brontë, novelist (notably The Tenant of Wildfell Hall); 1937 Alfred Adler, psychiatrist and psychologist; 1972 Duke of Windsor, the abdicated King Edward VIII; 1984 Eric Morecambe, comedian; 1995 Jean Muir, dress designer; 2009 Terence Alexander, English film and television actor; 2010 Gary Coleman, American actor; 2014 Maya Angelou, author, poet, actress, singer, civil rights activist; 2015 Johnny Keating, Edinburgh-born musician, composer.