On this day: John Smith funeral | Hamburger Hill

Some 2,000 people gathered outside Cluny Parish Church in Edinburgh for the funeral of Labour leader John Smith in 1994
Some 2,000 people gathered outside Cluny Parish Church in Edinburgh for the funeral of Labour leader John Smith in 1994
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Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 20 May

20 MAY

1498: Vasco da Gama arrived at Calicut, southern India, after discovering a route via the tip of southern Africa.

1588: The Spanish Armada set sail from Lisbon on a mission to invade England. It comprised 129 ships sent by Phillip II of Spain. 1840: York Minster was badly damaged by fire.

1873: Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis received a United States patent for blue jeans with copper rivets.

1883: Krakatoa begins to erupt. The volcano’s final and most notable explosion occurred on 26 August.

1902: Cuba gains independence from the United States. Tomás Estrada Palma became the first president of Cuba.

1932: Amelia Earhart became the first woman to make a solo air crossing of the Atlantic.

1940: The first prisoners arrived at a new concentration camp at Auschwitz.

1941: Germany began an aerial invasion of Crete.

1956: The Americans dropped their first hydrogen bomb over Bikini atoll in the Marshall Islands of the Pacific.

1965: PIA Flight 705, a Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 720-040 B, crashed while descending to land at Cairo International Airport, killing 119 of the 125 passengers and crew.

1969: The Battle of Hamburger Hill in Vietnam ended.

1983: First publications of the discovery of the HIV virus that causes Aids in the journal Science by Luc Montagnier and Robert Gallo individually.

1990: An Israeli gunman killed seven Arab workers, setting off serious riots in the occupied territories in which seven more Arabs died as Israeli troops were called in.

1991: The USSR passed a law allowing Soviet citizens to leave the country of their own free will.

1993: The House of Commons gave the Maastricht Treaty bill its third reading. Forty-one Conservative MPs voted against the agreement.

1994: Cluny Parish Church in Edinburgh was packed and 2,000 people stood in the streets outside for the funeral service of the Labour leader, John Smith.

2002: The independence of East Timor was recognised by Portugal, formally ending 23 years of Indonesian rule and three years of provisional United Nations administration.

2009: An Indonesian military transport plane carrying troops and their families crashed on the island of Java, killing more than 100 people.

2010: The first annual Everybody Draw Muhammad Day was celebrated. The event caused Pakistan to shut down the social networking site Facebook in protest.


Cher (Cherilyn Sarkasian), actress and singer, 67; Colin John MacLean Sutherland, Lord Carloway, Senator of the College of Justice in Scotland, 59; Joe Cocker OBE, singer, 69; Lynn Davies CBE, Olympic gold medallist long-jumper, 71; Greg Dyke, director-general, BBC 2000-4, 66; Mark McGhee, football manager, 56; Michèle Roberts, novelist, 64; Earl Spencer, 49.


Births: 1799 Honoré de Balzac, French novelist; 1806 John Stuart Mill, philosopher and economist; 1895 Reginald Joseph Mitchell, aircraft designer, including Second World War fighter Spitfire; 1920 Betty Driver MBE, actress (Coronation Street).

Deaths: 1506 Christopher Columbus, navigator and discoverer of the New World; 1864 John Clare, peasant poet (died in lunatic asylum); 1975 Dame Barbara Hepworth, sculptor.