Great Britain is well known for possessing a long and interesting historical record. From an archeological record that spanned back 800,000 years to the Monarchy, British history has it all.
But what are some of the most interesting British historical events to have happened in this month of July? That is exactly what I will be examining in this article!
Though it may seem like a century is a long time, it really is only a blink of an eye! After all, 100 years ago to us now would only be 1921.
That being said, I will compare each of these extraordinary historical events to how many years ago they happened. So, let’s get on with it and learn about the 7 Most Interesting British Historical Events to Have Happened in July!
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#1. 26 July 1978: Louise Joy Brown, The First Test Tube Baby, is Born
~43 YEARS AGO~
In the summer of 1978, on the 26th of July, the first ever “test-tube” baby, Louise Joy Brown, was born. This was thanks to the incredible work of English Gynecologist Dr. Patrick Steptoe and English Scientist Robert Edwards.
Dr. Patrick Steptoe and Scientist Robert Edwards had been working together for years earlier trying to help couples suffering from infertility. It was not until 1977 that Lesley Brown received the then-experimental in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure.
Lesley and Peter Brown had been experiencing issues having children for years due to a fallopian tube blockage. But, after this innovative procedure, Lesley gave birth to little Louise Brown at 5 pounds and 12 ounces.
Louise was born just before midnight the 26th of July 1978 at Oldham and District General Hospital in Manchester, England. When the media learned of the new IVF pregnancy, the Browns faced much push back from the public.
Though, at that time, the procedure raised many ethical and legal questions, today IVF is one of the most used treatments for infertility. This incredible method has enabled over 8 million babies around the world to be born.
Both of Lesley and Peter Brown’s babies, Louise and Natalie, were born via IVF and both grew up to naturally conceive their very own beautiful babies. Acknowledging Robert Edwards breakthrough, in 2010 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine.
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#2. 24 July 1943: Operation Gomorrah was Carried Out by The British Air Force Against Nazi Germany
~78 YEARS AGO~
World War II was a tragic time for many countries and people around the world. Great Britain itself endured many brutal bombings by the Germans in this very war.
For 8 long and terrible months, the United Kingdom was bombed by German Airman, Luftwaffe, in what was known as ‘The Blitz’. Great Britain suffered the deaths of 167 civilians in the month of July ’43 alone due to further German bombings.
Finally, on the 24th of July 1943, the British Royal Air Force would repay Germany in kind.
On a night air raid, the British Air Forces carried out Operation Gomorrah. The naming of this campaign derives from a verse in the Bible: “Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens.” – Genesis 19:24
This Operation targeted Hamburg, Germany which was an industrial and energy center making it a strategic target. This German city additionally housed a large port containing many German U-Boats and Ships.
Rain “brimstone and fire” they did. The Royal Air Force dropped nearly 2,300 tons of incendiary bombs in just a matter of hours. These powerful explosives equated to what the Nazis had dropped on London in 5 of most devastating bombing raids.
A total of 791 British aircraft flew in the operation but only 12 were shot down by German defenses. This was due to the revolutionary devices called “Windows”. These devices consisted of aluminum foil strips dropped by British airman, confusing German radars and diverting them from the British bombers.
These bombing raids undertaken by the Royal Air Force continued for months, breaking German morale. Many historians believe this marked the end of the horrible war in the mind of many German officials and in the mind of Hitler himself.
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#3. 10 July 1940: The German’s Shift Their Sites on the British and the Battle Of Britain Begins
~81 YEARS AGO~
In September of 1939, Nazi Germany lead by the infamous Hitler invaded Poland causing France and Britain to declare war. Not long after, on July 10, 1940, Germany began bombing raids on Great Britain that lasted nearly 4 months.
Germany’s goal in these horrible attacks was to drive Great Britain to agree to their negotiated peace settlement. Obviously, Britain could not be swayed so easily.
These devastating series of bombings became known as the Battle of Britain. The German’s started by targeting a Royal Naval convoy in the English Channel then went on to attack a South Wales dockyard.
Though it originally started with air and sea blockades, Germany soon started targeting airfields and infrastructure. Shortly after, they progressed to all out terror bombing on politically significant locations and on the British civilians at large.
Though Germany possessed far more fighter planes, Britain was still far superior in the skies. British Spitfires had the capacity to turn much tighter than the German aircraft.
The German planes had additional disadvantages including limited flight radius as well as limited bomb capacity per plane. Even with these limitations, Germany unleashed havoc on Great Britain.
Still Great Britain displayed their greatest advantage; unity. The government requested all civilians turn in any and all available aluminum directly to the Ministry of Aircraft Production.
The ministry famously declaring, “We will turn your pots and pans into Spitfires and Hurricanes”. The time of war was upon Great Britain and a fight they would give them.
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#4. 25 July 1814: The British Blücher Steam Locomotive Is Born
~207 YEARS AGO~
Though the advent of a new locomotive may not seem interesting at first, it is definitely an incredible event! When the Blücher (or Blutcher) was revealed to the public on the 25th of July 1814, the way we transport goods would be changed forever.
This new-fangled steam locomotive was imagined by George Stephenson. And it was the first of its kind that could haul 30 tons at a very speedy rate (for the time) of 6.4 kilometers per hour (4 ml/hr).
This specific model was quickly succeeded by more advanced versions. But the Blücher made a remarkable difference in the speed in which large amounts of materials were transported.
The technology of steam locomotion allowed people and goods to travel faster, effectively changing the world forever. The steam locomotive soon became the icon for many countries that their time of industrial revolution had come.
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#5. 29 July 1588: The Spanish Armada is sighted off the British coast of Cornwall and the Anglo-Spanish War Begins
~433 YEARS AGO~
War between the English and the Spanish had been ready to boil over for years. Finally, in 1588, the Spanish were intent to approach the English home front come hell or high water.
The Spanish Armada set out with about 130 warships intending to bring down the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I. The conflict between the Catholic Spanish and Protestant English was not just a war of religious dominance.
Whoever won this war would determine who had superiority in this very uneasy time. So, in May 1588 the Spanish Armada set sail, aiming their bows towards England.
The English sighted the Spanish warships off the coast of Cornwall on the 19th of July 1588. Though the Spanish were sure their naval capacity was strong, they were no match for the Royal Navy’s superior ships.
The English naval fleet of 55 ships set off from Plymouth under the watchful eyes of Lord Charles Howard and Sir Francis Drake. Due to the much faster and more maneuverable English ships, the large Spanish galleons stood not a chance.
This was the beginning of what is now known as the Anglo-Spanish War. And, due to the brilliant win by the English in this first battle, national English pride grew and powered them forward.
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#6. 28 July 1540: King Henry VIII Marries His 5th Wife, Catherine Howard, and Orders The Execution of Two Men
~481 YEARS AGO~
King Henry VIII is well known for causing quite the commotion in his time. Not only did he marry six times, but he also instigated the English Reformation to do so.
This reformation caused England to break away for the Roman Catholic Church to became Protestant England. This break was necessary in the eyes of King Henry VIII as he needed a male heir, which he was not achieving in his first marriage.
Of course, at this time, it was the woman that was to blame. So, the King separated from the church and went on to marry many wives in hopes that, eventually, a male heir would be born.
On the 28th of July 1540, the King married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard. But the King was not only getting ready for his marriage today, he also ordered the execution of Thomas Cromwell and Walter Hungerford.
Both had been suspected of treason and heresy which, in the case of Thomas Cromwell, was not true. Cromwell had arranged the King’s previous marriage to Anne of Cleves which did not produce the results the King was looking for.
This infuriated the King and after being sentenced without trial, Cromwell was positioned under the executioner’s axe. Henry VIII later very much regretted Cromwell’s execution.
Unfortunately, Cromwell was not the last to be sentenced to execution by King Henry VIII. Less than a two years later, Catherine herself was executed for treason after having an affair with Thomas Culpepper, a close friend of the King.
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#7. 17 July 1453: The French Defeated the English at The Battle of Castillon, Ending the Hundred Years’ War
~568 YEARS AGO~
The Hundred Years’ War consisted of a number of conflicts between England and France during the later Middle Ages. Happening from 1337-1453, this war lasted 116 years and is considered one of the fiercest wars in English history.
But, on the 17th of July 1453, French troops met the English in Gascony near Gastillon-sur-Dordogne, now known as Castillon-la-Bataille. On England’s side, Commander John Talbot led the Royal Army into battle.
Unfortunately, they were walking right into a fortified French encampment. Though Talbot saw the French numbers, he pushed forward without reinforcements. This resulted in the French artillery beating back the English, dealing great casualties.
Many historians consider this the first battle in history won by use of field artillery. This defeat led to the end of the Hundred Years’ War and England still grasped control of Calais, which remained under English control until 1558.
And There you have it!
7 of the Most Interesting British Historical Events to Have Happened in July! I hope you enjoyed learning about these incredible, world changing events from Great Britain’s History.
Keep reading to see more important dates in British History to have happened in July!
Famous British Birthdays In July
1 July 1961: Princess Diana of Wales is Born
~60 YEARS AGO~
The beautiful Princess Diana, also known as the Queen of Hearts, was born today at Park House near Sandringham, Norfolk as Lady Diana Frances Spencer.
7 July 1940: Ringo Starr, from The Beatles, Is Born
~81 YEARS AGO~
The pop rock legend Ringo Starr, drummer from The Beatles, is born at Madryn Street in Liverpool as Richard Starkey.
28 July 1866: World Renown Author and Illustrator Beatrix Potter Is Born
~155 YEARS AGO~
The exceptionally talented Beatrix Potter is born in South Kensington, London. Beatrix Potter was a English writer, illustrator, conservationist, and natural scientist. She is most well known for “The Tales of Peter Rabbit”, a children’s book she wrote in 1901.
More British Facts and Trivia That Occurred In July
What Do the British Call the American 4th Of July?
The British refer to America’s Independence Day as Treason Day. On the 4th of July in 1776, the newly formed Congress in America sent a letter to King George III declaring independence from British rule.
What Is July in Great British Known For?
July in Great Britain is referred to as Picnic Month or Ice Cream Month beings that it is on average the warmest month of the year.
What Happens on July 1st in Great Britain and British Colonies?
The 1st of July is known as Canada Day as it celebrates the anniversary of the British North America Province formation of Canada.
I hope you enjoyed this article about the rich history of Great Britain!
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