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This Day in History - 20th August


1912 The death of William Booth, British founder of the Salvation Army. Early-day Salvationists started wearing uniform as a natural consequence of the 'army' adopting a military character.

1913 Harry Brearley of Sheffield cast the first stainless steel.


1924 Although considered the likely winner, British sprinter Eric Liddel refused to run in the 100m heats at the Paris Olympics because it took place on a Sunday. He went on to set a new record when he won the 400 metres on a weekday.


1940 As the aerial Battle of Britain raged, Prime Minister Winston Churchill told Parliament: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." With the Battle of Britain won a few months later and German plans postponed, the Allied airmen of the battle ultimately became known as 'The Few'.


1944 World War II: American and British forces destroyed the German Seventh Army at Falaise-Argentan Gap, west of Paris, capturing 50,000 German troops.


1944 World War II: 168 captured allied airmen, accused by the Gestapo of being 'terror fliers', arrived at Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany. Opened in July 1937, it was one of the first and the largest of the concentration camps on German soil.


1956 Calder Hall, Britain's first nuclear power station, began operating.


1970 England's soccer captain, Bobby Moore, was cleared of charges of stealing, in a trial in Colombia.


1971 Prince Charles got his 'wings' at RAF College Cranwell, in Lincolnshire.


1971 The birth of David Walliams (born Williams), the English comedian known for his partnership with Matt Lucas on the TV sketch show Little Britain. He and Lucas wrote and starred in Come Fly with Me, a spoof of the British documentaries Airport and Airline.


1989 In London, the pleasure cruiser Marchioness was hit by a dredger, the Bowbelle, on the River Thames - 51 people attending a party on the boat were killed. The formal investigation put the time elapsed from the instant of collision at 1.46 a.m. to complete immersion of the Marchioness at a mere 30 seconds.


1990 Iraq confirmed that Western hostages held after the outbreak of the Gulf War were being moved to military and other vital installations as a human shield to deter attacks.


1992 The Daily Mirror published compromising photographs of Sarah Ferguson (the Duchess of York), sunbathing topless, on holiday in France with John Bryan, a Texan financial manager. The event contributed to her further estrangement from the Royal Family and after four years of official separation, the Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson announced the mutual decision to divorce, in May 1996.


1992 Iraq sentenced a English man (Paul Ride, a catering manager from east London) to seven years in jail for alleged illegal entry into the country.