On this day in 1066 William the Conqueror starts his invasion of England by landing at Pevensey Bay. As the authors of The Battle of Hastings: The Uncomfortable Truth have pointed out: "The Norman ships, given as 696 but certainly many hundreds, could never had arrived at Pevensey at one go and one account states that the disembarkation took place at intervals along the shore. We know that some ships grounded at Romney, far to the east, so that such a large fleet must inevitably have been scattered along the coast. Nevertheless, to have transported such a large force of cavalry across the Channel was a magnificent, in fact unprecedented, achievement and just two vessels were lost on the voyage - one of which carried William's soothsayer who failed to foresee his own demise."
On this day in 1740 John Cartwright was born in Nottingham. Major Cartwright wrote and published Take Your Choice (1776). The book argued the case for parliamentary reform including: manhood suffrage, the secret ballot, annual elections and equal electoral districts. This was followed by The People's Barrier Against Undue Influence and Corruption. It has been argued that this was: "The finest of his pre-French Revolution works, revolved around six points. Continuing to advocate universal manhood suffrage, Cartwright also supported annual parliamentary elections, equal electoral districts, a secret ballot, the abolition of property qualifications for parliamentary candidates, and (to lessen political bribery) the payment of members of parliament." In 1805 John Cartwright left his large estate in Lincolnshire and moved to London. Cartwright made friends with other leading radicals living in the city including Francis Burdett, William Cobbett and Francis Place. In 1812 Cartwright decided to form the first Hampden Club. He then toured the country encouraging other parliamentary reformers to follow his example. Cartwright main objective was to unite middle class moderates with radical members of the working class. This worried the authorities and this led to Cartwright's arrest in Huddersfield in 1813.
On this day in 1811 Tom Molineaux, a former slave fought Tom Cribb for the heavyweight championship of England. A record 15,000 people watched the fight. In the sixth round Cribb hit Molineaux with a low blow. He never fully recovered from this punch and in the ninth round Cribb broke his jaw. Two rounds later Cribb knocked out Molineaux. After making a full recovery Molineaux fought and defeated Jack Carter in 1813. This was followed by a victory over Bill Fuller. However, his boxing career came to an end in 1815 when he lost to George Cooper, a fighter trained by the former black boxer, Bill Richmond. Molineaux died penniless in Dublin, Ireland, in 1818.
On this day in 1841 Georges Clemenceau was born. As French Prime Minister he represented France in Peace Conference held in Paris after the First World War. President Woodrow Wilson wanted to the peace to be based on the Fourteen Points published in October 1918. David Lloyd George was totally opposed to several of the points. This included Point II "Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas, outside territorial waters, alike in peace and in war, except as the seas may be closed in whole or in part by international action for the enforcement of international covenants." Lloyd George saw this as undermining the country's ability to protect the British Empire. These measures were also opposed by Clemenceau. He told Lloyd George that if he accepted what Wilson proposed, he would have serious problems when he returned to France. "After the millions who have died and the millions who have suffered, I believe - indeed I hope - that my successor in office would take me by the nape of the neck and have me shot."
On this day in 1865 Elizabeth Garret Anderson became the first English woman to officially qualify as a doctor. Garrett had tried to study in several medical schools but they all refused to accept a woman student. Garrett therefore became a nurse at Middlesex Hospital and attended lectures that were provided for the male doctors. After complaints from male students Elizabeth was forbidden entry to the lecture hall. Garrett discovered that the Society of Apothecaries did not specify that females were banned for taking their examinations. As soon as Garrett was granted the certificate that enabled her to become a doctor, the Society of Apothecaries changed their regulations to stop other women from entering the profession in this way. With the financial support of her father, Elizabeth Garrett was able to establish a medical practice in London. Garrett was a committed feminist and in 1865 she joined with her friends Emily Davies, Barbara Bodichon, Bessie Rayner Parkes, Dorothea Beale and Francis Mary Buss to form a woman's discussion group called the Kensington Society. The following year the group organized a petition asking Parliament to grant women the vote.
On this day in 1922 the poet Ivor Gurney was certified insane and was transferred to the City of London Mental Hospital at Dartford. On the outbreak of the First World War, Gurney volunteered for the Gloucester regiment. He was initially turned down because of his defective eyesight, but as the British Army was short of men, was allowed to join in 1915. Gurney was gassed at St. Julien on 10th September 1917. He was sent to Edinburgh War Hospital and while recovering a collection of his war poems, Severn and Somme, appeared in November 1917. After the war Gurney spent time in the Newcastle General Hospital, Lord Derby's War Hospital in Warrington and the Middlesex War Hospital in St. Albans. Gurney was finally discharged from hospital and the army on 4th October 1918. Gurney's second book of poems, War's Embers was published in May 1919. However he was unable to make a living from his writing and over the next three years worked as a farm labourer, as a pianist in a cinema and as a clerk in the Gloucester Tax Office. Gurney suffered from a severe manic depressive illness and after several failed attempts at suicide was sent to a mental asylum in Gloucester. Ivor Gurney died of bilateral pulmonary tuberculosis at the City of London Mental Hospital on 26th December, 1937.
On this day in 1928 the US acknowledge Chinese government of Chiang Kai-shek. Major financial reforms were carried out and the education system and the road transport were both improved. Chiang also established the New Life Movement in 1934 which reasserted traditional Confucian values to combat communist ideas.
On this day in 1928 Alexander Fleming discovered the world's first antibiotic – penicillin. He was clearing out some old dishes in which he grew his cultures. On one of the mouldy dishes, he noticed that around the mould, the microbes had apparently been dissolved. He took a small sample of the mould and set it aside. He later identified it as of the penicillium family. He therefore named the anti-bacterial agent he had discovered penicillin. Fleming published his findings in 1929 but it was not until during the Second World War that Howard Florey and Ernst Chain managed to isolate and concentrate penicillin. It was not until the end of the war that the antibiotic could be mass produced and was widely used. Fleming, Florey and Chain won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1945.
On this day in 1942 Luftwaffe bombs Stalingrad for the first time. Over the next few months the Germans flew 70,000 sorties dropping over a million bombs. Casualties during the Battle of Stalingrad are estimated to have been around 800,000, including those missing or captured. Soviet forces are estimated to have suffered 1,100,000 casualties, and approximately 40,000 civilians died.