On this day: QEII joins the Falklands Task Force

Troops line the rails of the QEII sailing up Southampton Water in 1982 as it heads off to join the Falklands Task Force. Picture: PA
Troops line the rails of the QEII sailing up Southampton Water in 1982 as it heads off to join the Falklands Task Force. Picture: PA
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Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 12 May

1536: Sir Francis Weston, Mark Smeaton and other alleged paramours of Queen Anne Boleyn went on trial for treason.

1608: Protestant Union of German princes opposing Catholic bloc was formed at Anhausen.

1679: Reverend James Kirkwood, the father of public libraries in Scotland, became minister of Minto.

1725: The Black Watch was commissioned under General Wade as the Independent Companies to police the Highlands.

1780: Charlestown fell to the British during the American Revolutionary War.

1888: Britain established protectorate over North Borneo and Brunei.

1906: The weekly magazine John Bull was started by Horatio Bottomley, MP.

1926: The General Strike in Britain ended after nine days.

1932: The kidnapped baby son of aviator Charles Lindbergh was found dead.

1935: Alcoholics Anonymous was founded by William Wilson in Ohio.

1937: The Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth took place in Westminster Abbey.

1940: First Victoria Crosses awarded to airmen in Second World War went posthumously to Flying Officer Donald Garland (pilot) and Sergeant Thomas Gray (observer) for a successful bombing attack, by 12 Squadron Fairey Battles, on the bridge at Maastricht.

1949: USSR lifted its blockade of Berlin after 11 months. It had cost the Allies £200 million to fly in food and essential supplies.

1951: The first H-bomb test on Eniwetok Atoll in the mid-Pacific proved it was possible to destroy a city more than 100 times the size of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

1962: South African General Law Amendment Bill imposed death penalty for sabotage.

1965: West Germany established diplomatic relations with Israel, and Arab states broke off relations with Bonn government.

1969: The voting age in Britain was lowered to 18.

1982: The QE2 sailed to join the Falklands Task Force.

1988: World Health Organisation said more than 34,000 Aids cases had been reported worldwide.

1990: At a Baltic summit, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania revived a 1934 political alliance, hoping a united front would crack Moscow’s resistance to the republics’ attempts to break away from the Soviet Union.

1990: A 1,000-tonne oil slick leaked from the Liberian tanker Rose Bay, which was in collision with a trawler in the Channel.

1991: In Monte Carlo, Ayrton Senna won fourth successive Grand Prix.

1992: The Queen made a historic first speech to the European parliament in Strasbourg.

2003: Clare Short, the international development secretary, quit the Cabinet and accused the prime minister, Tony Blair, of endangering Labour’s achievements through his “obsessive” pursuit of a place in history.

2009: The number of people out of work in the UK rose 244,000 to 2.22 million in the first three months of the year – the biggest quarterly rise since 1981.

2009: A rare blue diamond sold for a record 10.5 million Swiss francs (£6.2m) at auction in Geneva. It weighed 7.03 carats, was smaller than a penny piece, and was one of only a handful of blue diamonds in existence.


Burt Bacharach, pianist and composer, 86; Gabriel Byrne, actor, 64; Andrew Coltart, Dumfries-born golfer, 44; Emilio Estevez, actor, 52; Susan Hampshire OBE, actress, 77; Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws, QC and broadcaster, 64; Jonah Lomu, New Zealand rugby player, 39; Dame Jenni Murray, broadcaster, 64; Chris Patten (Baron Patten of Barnes), MP 1979-1992, chancellor of Oxford University, 70; Dame Rosalind Savill, art and museum curator, 63; DrMiriam Stoppard OBE, author and broadcaster, 77; Professor Dame Joan Stringer, principal and vice-chancellor, Napier University, 66; Catherine Tate, actress, 46; Deborah Warner CBE, theatre director, 55; Steve Winwood, rock singer (Traffic) and composer, 66; Mark Foster, Olympic swimmer, 44.


Births: 1763 John Bell, Edinburgh-born anatomist and surgeon; 1820 Florence Nightingale, the “Lady with the Lamp” in the Crimea, hospital and nursing reformer; 1903 Wilfrid Hyde White, actor; 1907 Leslie Charteris, crime fiction writer and creator of the Saint; 1912 Katharine Hepburn, actress; 1915 Dr Herrick Bunney, organist and Master of the Music, St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh 1946-1996; 1924 Tony Hancock, comedian.

Deaths: 1641 Earl of Strafford (beheaded for treason); 1860 Sir Charles Barry, architect who designed new Palace of Westminster; 1884 Bedrich Smetana, composer; 1925 Amy Lowell, poet; 1967 John Masefield, poet laureate 1930-1967; 1986 Elisabeth Bergner, actress; 1994 John Smith, Labour Party leader 1992-4; 2001 Perry Como, singer.