On this day, April 20

The Gunner’s long-serving coach, Arsène Wenger. Picture: EPA-EFE

The Gunner’s long-serving coach, Arsène Wenger. Picture: EPA-EFE

Published Apr 20, 2024


A tyrant is born, the Red Baron bags his last kills, a deadly attack becomes a byword for school mass shootings, Swaziland gets a name change, and George Floyd’s killer convicted

1657 English Admiral Robert Blake destroys a Spanish silver fleet under heavy fire at the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

1749 The first public worship by the Church of England in South Africa, also called the Anglican Church, is held in Cape Town.

1828 René Caillié becomes the second non-Muslim to return from the fabled city of Timbuktu, after Major Gordon Laing.

1862 First pasteurisation test completed by Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard.

1889 Adolf Hitler is born in Braunau am Inn, Austria. As leader of Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945, he waged a war of expansionism in Europe that caused 50 million people to die.

1902 Marie and Pierre Curie isolate the radioactive element radium chloride.

1918 German flying ace the Red Baron claims his 79th and 80th victims – his last aerial victories – over the Western Front in Europe.

1945 Adolf Hitler makes his last trip to the surface from his Berlin bunker to award Iron Crosses to boy soldiers of the Hitler Youth.

1968 SAA Pretoria, a Boeing 707, with 122 people on board, crashes just after take off from Windhoek, South West Africa (Namibia). Only five people survive.

1978 Korean Air Lines Flight 902, from Paris to Seoul, is shot down in Soviet airspace. Fired on by a Soviet jet, two passengers are killed. The plane makes an emergency landing on a frozen lake near the Finnish border.

1999 Final-year school pupils Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold gun down 34 people, killing 13 – most of whom are pupils, at their school, Columbine High in Denver, Colorado, before committing suicide. The killers had intended for the attack to primarily be a bombing, but the failed detonation of the several home-made bombs caused them to launch a shooting attack, which at the time was the deadliest mass shooting at school in the US. The attack inspired dozens of copycat killings, dubbed the Columbine effect, including many deadlier shootings across the world. The word ‘Columbine’ has become a byword for school shootings.

2010 The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explodes in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and beginning a six-month oil spill.

2018 Frenchman Arsène Wenger says he will leave Arsenal after 22 years as the club’s manager. By the time he leaves north London, the Gunners have won three English Premier League (EPL) titles and seven FA Cups. Wenger was the EPL’s longest-serving manager and his contribution to English football through changes to scouting, players' training, and diet regimens revitalised Arsenal and aided the globalisation of the sport in the 21st century.

2018 King Mswati III of Swaziland changes the name of the smallest country in the southern hemisphere to eSwatini (land of the Swati).

2021 Former US police officer Derek Chauvin is convicted of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which led to global protests about racial injustice.

2021 President of Chad for three decades, Idriss Déby is killed on the battlefield leading the fight against rebels near the capital, Ndjamena.

2022 Online streaming service Netflix suffers its first subscriber loss in a decade, losing 200 000 customers in the first quarter of the year (Jan-Mar).