On this day: Britain’s first astronaut returned to earth

On this day in 1991, Helen Sharman, 27, Britain's first astronaut, returned to earth after an eight-day space mission
On this day in 1991, Helen Sharman, 27, Britain's first astronaut, returned to earth after an eight-day space mission
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Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 27 May

National day of Afghanistan.

1679: The Habeas Corpus Act, stating that nobody could be held in prison without trial, was passed.

1863: Broadmoor Asylum for the criminally insane was established in Crowthorne, Berkshire.

1905: Japanese annihilated Russian fleet of 32 ships in the Tsushima Strait off Korea.

1918: German forces launched major offensive on Western Front.

1919: Lieutenant-Commander Albert Read and a crew of five in a Curtiss NC 4 seaplane reached Lisbon via the Azores to complete the first transatlantic flight, having left Trepassey, Newfoundland, on 16 May.

1936: The Queen Mary left Southampton on her maiden voyage to New York.

1936: First open prison in Britain was opened at New Hall, near Wakefield, Yorkshire.

1937: The 4,200-foot Golden Gate Bridge at San Francisco was opened.

1940: Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of British and French troops from the Dunkirk beaches, began, and ended on 4 June.

1941: The German battleship Bismarck was sunk by the battleships Prince of Wales, King George V and Rodney, after torpedo attacks by Swordfish aircraft from the carrier Ark Royal.

1952: European Defence Community was set up.

1960: Government of premier Adnan Menderes and president Celal Bayar was overthrown in Turkey, and General Cemal Gürsel assumed presidency.

1961: Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaya’s premier, proposed Great Malaysia Federation.

1971: Soviet Union signed 15-year pact with Egypt, pledging assistance in recovery of all Arab territories occupied by Israel.

1972: United States president Richard Nixon flew to Leningrad and visited graves of victims of Nazi siege in Second World War.

1981: Jockey Bill Shoemaker rode War Allied to victory in California to record his 8,000th winner.

1982: British troops launched three-pronged break-out from San Carlos beach-head in Falkland Islands, while commandos “yomped” north to Teal Inlet.

1990: In the Netherlands, the IRA killed two Australians, mistaking them for British soldiers.

1991: Helen Sharman, 27, Britain’s first astronaut, returned to earth in Soviet Central Asia after an eight-day space mission.

1992: At least 16 people died when Serbian mortar bombs fell among shoppers queuing for bread in Sarajevo.

1993: Norman Lamont was sacked as Chancellor of the Exchequer as prime minister John Major reshuffled his Cabinet.

1999: President Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia was indicted for war crimes, including the murder of 340 ethnic Albanians, and the deportation of 740,000 Kosovans.

2006: An earthquake in Java killed more than 6,000 people and left 200,000 homeless.

2009: A crematorium in Scotland started broadcasting funerals over the internet to allow mourners to watch from anywhere in the world.

2010: A study revealed that women in full-time work earn 12 per cent less than their male colleagues in Scotland.


Denise Van Outen, actress, 40; André 3000, singer-songwriter (OutKast), 39; Cilla Black OBE (born Priscilla White), entertainer, 71; Pat Cash, tennis player, 49; Joseph Fiennes, actor, 44; Neil Finn OBE, singer (Crowded House), 56; Paul Gascoigne, footballer, 47; Duncan Goodhew, Olympic swimmer, 57; Louis Gossett junior, actor, 78; Dr Henry Kissinger, US secretary of state 1973-7, 91; Christopher Lee CBE, actor, 92; Thea Musgrave CBE, Edinburgh-born composer, conductor and lecturer, 86; Jamie Oliver MBE, chef, 39; Ravi Shastri, cricketer, 52; Siouxsie Sioux, singer, 57; Don Williams, singer, 75; Herman Wouk, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, 99; Paul Bettany, actor, 43; Heston Blumenthal, chef, 48; Rebekah Brooks, former newspaper editor, 46.


Births: 1794 Cornelius Vanderbilt, financier; 1818 Amelia Jenks Bloomer, American women’s suffrage campaigner who wore trousers that acquired her name; 1819 Julia Ward Howe, American suffragist, who wrote The Battle Hymn of the Republic; 1837 James Butler (“Wild Bill”) Hickok, American frontiersman; 1878 Isadora Duncan, dancer; 1887 Frank Woolley, cricketer; 1894 Dashiell Hammett, novelist; 1911 Vincent Price, actor; 1932 Jeffrey Bernard, writer; 1941 Prof Sir Neil MacCormick, legal academic and politician; 1946 Lewis Collins, actor.

Deaths: 1564 John Calvin, theologian; 1840 Niccolò Paganini, violinist; 1910 Robert Koch, bacteriologist who discovered tuberculosis bacillus; 1914 Sir Joseph Swan, physicist and inventor; 1964 Pandit Nehru, first prime minister of independent India in 1947; 2011 Gil Scott-Heron, American singer; 2013 Bill Pertwee MBE, actor and comedian.