On this day: Union flag adopted|First man in space

Harry Truman (1884 - 1972) takes the oath as the 33rd president of the USA. Picture: Getty
Harry Truman (1884 - 1972) takes the oath as the 33rd president of the USA. Picture: Getty
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Events, birthdays and anniversaries that happened on this day; 12 April.

1606: The Union Flag was adopted as the flag of England, Wales and Scotland.

1621: French forces under King Louis XIII set out to crush a Huguenot rebellion.

1850: French troops restored Pope Pius IX and occupied Rome.

1861: The American Civil War began with the bombardment of Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina by the southern Confederate army under General Pierre Beauregard.

1945: Harry S Truman was sworn in as US president after the death from a cerebral haemorrhage of Franklin D Roosevelt at age 63.

1957: West German nuclear physicists refused to co-operate in the production or testing of atomic weapons.

1961: The Soviet Union put the first man in space – cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin made a safe landing after one orbit of Earth.

1966: American bombers carried out their first strikes against North Vietnam.

1981: The US launched the pioneering space shuttle Columbia from Cape Canaveral, with Robert Crippen and John Young.

1987: Soviet media reported that two cosmonauts had successfully linked a space module to their orbital space station Mir.

1989: Lord Lloyd-Webber’s Cats was performed for the 3,358th time at the New London Theatre, Drury Lane, making it Britain’s longest-running musical. Seats were booked to the end of 1999.

1990: The Soviet Union admitted the massacre of up to 15,000 Polish officers at Katyn in 1940.

1993: Serbian shelling killed 56 people, including 15 children, in the besieged Bosnian town of Srebrenica.

1995: The home secretary, Michael Howard, announced tougher laws to protect children from “video nasties”.

1996: The government’s majority in the House of Commons was reduced to one after Labour won Staffordshire South-east from the Conservatives in a by-election.

2007: A suicide bomber penetrated the Green Zone and entered a cafeteria within a parliament building, killing Iraqi MP Mohammed Awad and wounding more than 20 other people.

2009: Zimbabwe officially abandoned the Zimbabwe dollar as its official currency.

2010: A train derailed near Merano, Italy, causing nine deaths.


Claire Danes, actress, 35; Sir Alan Ayckbourn CBE, playwright, 75; Bill Bryden CBE, Greenock-born theatre director and writer, 72; Montserrat Caballé, opera singer, 81; David Cassidy, actor, singer, 64; Shannen Doherty, actress, 43; Andy Garcia, actor, 58; Herbie Hancock, jazz pianist, 74; Professor Lisa Jardine CBE, historian, 70; Hardy Kruger, German actor, 86; David Letterman, US chat-show host, 67; Brian McFadden, singer, 34; Lord Robertson of Port Ellen KT, MP 1978-99, secretary-general of Nato 1999-2003, 68; Saoirse Ronan, actress, 20.


Births: 1853 William Conway, first baron, art critic and mountaineer; 1925 Oliver Postgate, creator of Bagpuss; 1929 Elspet Gray (Lady Rix), Inverness-born actress; 1941 Bobby Moore, footballer; 1947 Tom Clancy, novelist.

Deaths: 1684 Niccolo Amati, violin-maker; 1817 Charles Messier, astronomer; 1912 Clara Barton, founder of American Red Cross, known as “Angel of the Battlefield”; 1975 Josephine Baker, singer; 1989 Sugar Ray Robinson, welterweight and middleweight boxing champion.