On this day: First UK astronaut | Bismarck sunk

Britain's first astronaut Helen Sharman returned to Earth on this day in 1991. Picture: TSPL
Britain's first astronaut Helen Sharman returned to Earth on this day in 1991. Picture: TSPL
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EVENTS, birthdays and anniversaries for 27 May

• 27 May is the national day of Afghanistan

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

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

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 4,200ft Golden Gate Bridge at San Francisco opened.

1940: Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of British and French troops from the Dunkirk beaches, began, ending 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 carrier Ark Royal.

1952: European Defence Community was set up.

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: Willie 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.

1994: Prime minister John Major caused controversy when he said beggars should be cleared from the streets because they were offensive and bad for tourism.

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.

2005: Australian Schapelle Corby was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in Kerobokan Prison for drug smuggling by a court in Indonesia.

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


Cilla Black OBE, entertainer, 70; Pat Cash, tennis player, 48; Lewis Collins, actor (The Professionals), 67; John Conteh, boxer, 62; Joseph Fiennes, actor, 43; Paul Gascoigne, footballer, 46; Duncan Goodhew, Olympic swimmer, 56; Doctor Henry Kissinger, US secretary of state 1973-77, 90; Christopher Lee CBE, actor, 91; Thea Musgrave CBE, Edinburgh-born composer, conductor and lecturer, 85.


Births: 1774 Sir Francis Beaufort, admiral and hydrographer; 1794 Cornelius Vanderbilt, financier; 1878 Isadora Duncan, dancer; 1887 Frank Woolley, cricketer; 1894 Dashiell Hammett, novelist; 1911 Vincent Price, actor.

Deaths: Robert Koch, bacteriologist who discovered tuberculosis bacillus; 1914 Sir Joseph Swan, physicist and inventor; 2000 Lord MacLehose of Beoch, governor of Hong Kong 1971-1982.