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This Day in History - 27th October


939 Edmund I succeeded Athelstan as King of England.

1644 The Second Battle of Newbury in the English Civil War took place in Speen, adjoining Newbury in Berkshire. The combined armies of Parliament inflicted a tactical defeat on the Royalists, but failed to gain any strategic advantage.

1662 Charles II of England sold the coastal town of Dunkirk to King Louis XIV of France.

1728 The birthday of Captain James Cook, English naval officer and one of the greatest navigators in history. His voyages in the Endeavour led to the European discovery of Australia, New Zealand and the Hawaiian Islands. Thanks to Cook’s understanding of diet, no member of the crew ever died of scurvy, the great killer on other voyages.

1914 World War I: The British super-dreadnought battleship HMS Audacious was sunk off Tory Island, north-west Ireland, by a minefield laid by the armed German merchant-cruiser Berlin. The Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet, Sir John Jellicoe, proposed that the sinking be kept a secret, to which the Board of Admiralty and the British Cabinet agreed, and for the rest of the war, Audacious' name remained on all public lists of ship movements and activities.

1936 American Wallis Simpson, the future Duchess of Windsor, was granted a divorce from her second husband Ernest, leaving her free to marry King Edward VIII.

1939 The birth of John Cleese, actor, comedian, writer and film producer. He appeared in BBC TV's Monty Python's Flying Circus and Fawlty Towers, and has starred in many films including the four Monty Python films, Clockwise and A Fish called Wanda.

1952 The BBC screened part one of the 26 part series 'Victory At Sea', Britain's first TV documentary.

1958 The birth of Simon Le Bon, English musician, best known as the lead singer, lyricist and musician of the band Duran Duran.

1965 An airliner crashed at Heathrow, killing 36 people.

1967 Britain passed the Abortion Act, allowing abortions to be performed legally for medical reasons.

1968 An estimated 6,000 marchers, demonstrating against the Vietnam War, faced up to police outside the US Embassy in London.

1978 Four people were killed and four others seriously wounded after a gunman (Barry Williams) went on a shooting spree on the Bustleholm estate, Wednesbury and later at a service station in Nuneaton.

1986 The government suddenly deregulated financial markets, leading to a total restructuring of the way in which they operated, in an event now referred to as the Big Bang.