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Yeager breaks sound barrier

American pilot Chuck Yeager breaks the sound barrier on this day. For years, many aviators believed that man was not meant to fly faster than the speed of sound. All that changed on October 14, 1947, when Yeager flew the Bell X-1 rocket plane, nicknamed Glamorous Glennis, over Rogers Dry Lake in southern California. The X-1 was lifted to an altitude of 25,000 feet by a B-29 aircraft and then re... Read more >

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The Cuban Missile Crisis begins

The Cuban Missile Crisis begins on October 14, 1962, bringing the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear conflict. Photographs taken by a high-altitude U-2 spy plane offered incontrovertible evidence that Soviet-made medium-range missiles in Cuba--capable of carrying nuclear warheads--were now stationed 90 miles off the American coastline. Tensions between the United States ... Read more >

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Theodore Roosevelt shot in Milwaukee

Before a campaign speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Theodore Roosevelt, the presidential candidate for the Progressive Party, is shot at close range by saloonkeeper John Schrank while greeting the public in front of the Gilpatrick Hotel. Schrank's .32-caliber bullet, aimed directly at Roosevelt's heart, failed to mortally wound the former president because its force was slowed by a glasses case a... Read more >

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HMS Royal Oak is sunk in Scapa Flow

On this day in 1939, the battleship HMS Royal Oak was torpedoed and sunk in Scapa Flow with the loss of 833 lives. Coming just weeks after the outbreak of World War Two, it was one of Britain’s worst naval disasters. It was an even worse shock because it happened inside a famous and supposedly impregnable naval base. Scapa Flow, in the Orkney Islands, was the Royal Navy’s home base in World... Read more >

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First 50p is Introduced

Coining It In

On this day in 1969, in preparation for full decimalisation in 1971, the fifty pence piece was first introduced in the UK. And people hated it. The coin was created to replace the old 10-shilling note and, even though it was the only heptagonal coin in circulation in the world, the British public felt it was too similar to the brand new ten pence piece that... Read more >