On this Day

Published in Issue 2 (March/April 2015), Volume 23


The remains of Sir Roger Casement, hanged in Pentonville Prison, London, for high treason in 1916, were buried with full military honours in the Republican plot in Glasnevin Cemetery after a state funeral.

Helen Waddell, Tokyo-born and Queen’s University Belfast-educated medievalist and writer, notably of Peter Abelard (1933), died.

Civil rights marchers, attempting to march from Selma to the Alabama state capital, Montgomery, were attacked by state troopers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in an incident that became known as Bloody Sunday.

The Soviet politburo elected Mikhail Gorbachev (54) as general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union just hours after the death of Konstantin Chernenko.

Gerard Victory, composer and director of music at RTÉ (1967–82) who wrote compositions inspired by the lives and writings of literary figures such as Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde and James Joyce, died.

Soviet cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov made the first space walk, lasting about ten minutes.

Lord Alfred Douglas (74), author, poet and translator, better known as the friend and lover of Oscar Wilde, died.

The Stamp Act, which put a tax on all legal documents and other publications in the British colonies, came into effect, causing uproar in the American colonies.

David Lloyd George (82), prime minister of the wartime coalition government (1916–22), who presided over the Government of Ireland Act (1920) which partitioned Ireland, died.

James Callaghan (92), leader of the British Labour Party (1976–80) and prime minister (1976–9), who was home secretary when the Northern Ireland Troubles broke out in 1969, died.

The ‘community charge’ or poll tax riots in London, the worst against poll tax in England since the original poll tax riots of the Peasants’ Revolt (1381).


Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia, bringing the American Civil War to an end. An estimated 160,000 Irishmen fought in the Union army and c. 20,000 in the Confederate army.

Oliver Sheppard, sculptor, notably of ‘The Death of Cú Chulainn’ (1911–12), later chosen as a memorial to the 1916 Rising and placed in the GPO, Dublin, born in Cookstown, Co. Tyrone.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (63), ‘FDR’, 32nd US president since March 1933, who won a record four elections, died in office.

Abraham Lincoln, 16th US president since 1861, was mortally wounded by the actor John Wilkes Booth whilst attending a performance in Ford’s Theatre, Washington. He died the following day.

Bergen-Belsen (or Belsen) concentration camp in Lower Saxony, where c. 70,000 inmates (including almost 20,000 Soviet prisoners of war) died, was liberated by British forces.

The Second Battle of Ypres, the only major German attack that year on the Western Front, began. That same day, the Germans launched the first chlorine gas attack of the war, killing 5,000 French troops south of the town in less than ten minutes.

Rupert Brooke (27), English poet remembered for his idealistic war sonnets, died off the island of Skyros on his way to the Gallipoli landings.

In Turkey the so-called ‘Armenian massacre’ began with the arrest of hundreds of Armenian political and intellectual leaders in Constantinople.

The Gallipoli landings, part of an Allied campaign to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the First World War, took place.

Benito Mussolini (61), ‘Il Duce’, Fascist leader, was executed with his mistress, Claretta Petacci, near Azzano by Italian partisans as he tried to flee the country.

Adolf Hitler (56), German Führer, committed suicide in a Berlin bunker.


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