1 April 1318

A Scottish force under Robert Bruce recaptures the vital border town of Berwick from the English, climbing its walls under the cover of darkness.


1 April 1572

The rebel Dutch Watergeuzen or 'Sea Beggars' seized the undefended port of Brielle from the Spanish, gaining the first foothold of land in what would later become the United Provinces.

1 April 1610

East India Company sea captain Sir Henry Middleton sailed from England with three ships with instructions to establish trading links in India. He was captured by the Turks after landing at Mocha but later escaped after hiding in an empty barrel.

1 April 1779

Birth in Durham of Northumbrian historian Robert Surtees, whose history of County Durham remains a valuable resource today. As befits someone born on April Fools' Day, Surtees grows up to be something of a practical joker. On one occasion he concocted a ballad, The Death of Featherstonehaugh, and sends it to Sir Walter Scott claiming it is of great antiquity. It is so convincing that Scott is completely taken in and includes it in his collection of ancient border ballads, The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border.

1 April 1941

German pocket battleship the heavy cruiser Admiral Scheer returned to Kiel after a six-month 46,000-nautical mile voyage during which it sank or captured 17 ships.

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1 April 1977

The Guardian newspaper fools its readers with a spoof supplement about the islands of San Serriffe.


1 April 1983

Tens of thousands of campaigners formed a 14-mile human chain from the Royal Ordnance Factory at Burghfield to the US airbase at RAF Greenham Common in Berkshire, in protest at the decision to site cruise missiles at the airbase.

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