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The Apollo 11 astronauts

Major historical anniversaries in July

Image: The Apollo 11 astronauts | Public Domain

From the founding of the NHS to the moon landing, discover what major historical events took place in July.

1 July

Hong Kong is returned to China (1997)

Since 1842, Hong Kong had come under British colonial rule, and in 1898 the territory was leased for another 99 years from the Chinese. The lease ended at midnight on 1st July 1997, when Hong Kong was officially returned to China.

Battle of the Somme begins (1916)

The Battle of the Somme was one of the largest and bloodiest of the First World War and lasted until mid-November.

2 July

Amelia Earhart disappears (1937)

The American pilot was a global star after she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1932. However, in 1937, Earhart and her navigator went missing over the Pacific Ocean whilst attempting to fly around the world. No trace of them has ever been found.

4 July

Declaration of Independence is adopted (1776)

The acceptance of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress formally ended America’s links with Britain. The day has become known as Independence Day in the US.

5 July

The National Health Service (NHS) is founded (1948)

On this day in 1948, the National Health Service Act 1946 came into effect, establishing a national public health system in the UK.

Dolly the Sheep is cloned (1996)

Scientists in Scotland successfully cloned (from an adult cell) a mammal for the very first time.

The largest tank battle in history begins (1943)

The mechanised Battle of Kursk on the Eastern Front witnessed the world’s largest armoured confrontation, as Hitler’s Wehrmacht clashed with Stalin’s Red Army during Operation Barbarossa. The two sides were equipped with a combined 8,000 tanks.

6 July

Althea Gibson becomes the first Black player to win Wimbledon (1957)

By claiming the women’s singles title at Wimbledon, Althea Gibson became the first Black player of any gender to win the prestigious tennis tournament.

7 July

7/7 London Bombings (2005)

Four coordinated suicide attacks targeted commuters travelling on London’s public transport system during rush hour on 7/7. The attacks were carried out by Islamic terrorists and resulted in the deaths of 52 innocent civilians.

9 July

The first Wimbledon tournament begins (1877)

At the inaugural playing of Wimbledon back in 1877, there was only one event in the tournament - the Gentleman’s singles. 21 amateurs competed for the trophy.

Catherine the Great comes to power (1762)

After a successful coup against her husband, Catherine the Great began what would become the longest reign by any female in Russian history. During her 34 years on the throne, she transformed her adopted homeland into a global superpower. Her time as ruler is often heralded as the ‘Golden Age of Russia’.

10 July

Battle of Britain begins (1940)

After France fell to Nazi Germany in June 1940, Hitler turned his attention toward Britain. From July to October 1940, the Luftwaffe threw everything it had at Britain in an attempt to bring the country to its knees. The British RAF emerged victorious and Hitler never tried to invade Britain again.

13 July

Live Aid takes place (1985)

A series of rock concerts were held around the world, including in London and Philadelphia, to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia. More than a billion people tuned into the concerts worldwide and over $125 million was raised.

14 July

Storming of the Bastille (1789)

The storming of the Bastille (a Parisian royal fortress and prison) by revolutionaries became the flashpoint of the French Revolution. The day is celebrated in France as a national holiday.

16 July

The Romanovs are executed (1918)

Bolshevik revolutionaries shot and bayonetted Russia’s last imperial family, ending a 300-year dynasty.

17 July

Passing of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act in the UK (2013)

On this day, the bill completed its historic journey through Parliament by receiving Royal Assent, officially making it law. It was now legal for same-sex couples to be married in England and Wales.

18 July

Nero fiddles whilst Rome burns (AD 64)

On the night of 18 July 64 AD, a fire broke out and swept across Rome, ravaging the city for over six days. It would become known as the Great Fire of Rome and legend states the decadent and unpopular emperor Nero ‘fiddled’ whilst his city burned before him.

19 July

The Mary Rose sinks (1545)

The Mary Rose was the pride of King Henry VIII’s naval fleet and is one of the most famous ships in British history. She sank in the Solent (the strip of water running between the Isle of Wight and mainland England) in 1545 as she looked to face off against an impending French armada. In 1982, she was miraculously raised from the depths and now resides in a museum in Portsmouth.

20 July

Man walks on the Moon (1969)

American Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the Moon after the Apollo 11 spacecraft successfully landed on Earth's only natural satellite. The event was not only a 'giant leap for mankind' but it also effectively ended the Space Race between America and the Soviets.

The July Plot fails to kill Hitler (1944)

Lieutenant Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg was at the head of the coup referred to as Operation Valkyrie. German officer Von Stauffenberg placed a briefcase containing a bomb under a conference room table at Hitler’s notorious Wolf’s Lair. The bomb failed to kill Hitler, the coup dwindled, and Von Stauffenberg faced a firing squad. Nearly 5,000 others were also rounded up and killed in retribution by the Gestapo.

30 July

England win the World Cup (1966)

England won their first and only Jules Rimet Trophy by beating West Germany 4-2 after the final had gone into extra time.