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13 June: On this day in history

What events happened on 13 June in history? We round up the events, births and deaths…

Published: June 13, 2022 at 5:05 am
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13 June 1763

Seven-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart performed before Elector Maximilian of Bavaria at Munich. it was the first performance on the Mozart family’s three-year ‘grand tour’ of western Europe.

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13 June 1809

John Dickens, an assistant clerk in the navy pay office at Portsmouth, marries Elizabeth Barrow, the daughter of a senior official in the office. Charles, their second child, will be born in Portsmouth two and a half years later.


13 June 1831

Physicist and mathematician James Clerk Maxwell was born in Edinburgh. Considered one of the most influential scientists of the 19th century, he is particularly known for his theory of electromagnetism.


13 June 1842

Queen Victoria made her first journey by train, travelling with her husband in a special royal carriage on the Great Western Railway between Slough, near Windsor, to Bishop’s Bridge, near Paddington.


13 June 1910

Birth in Nuneaton, Warwickshire of Mary Whitehouse, campaigner against what she saw as declining moral standards on TV and radio and founder of the National Viewers and Listeners Association.


13 June 1917: German bombs smash into a Poplar school

The surprise daylight attack brings horror to east London

It was almost lunchtime at Upper North Street School in Poplar, east London, and the children were hard at work. The older girls were on the top floor, having a singing lesson. The older boys were on the first floor, battling with their maths. The infants were on the ground floor. Most were between four and six years old.

When the German bomber appeared overhead, there was no time to react. The bomb punched through the roof, killing a 13-year-old girl. It ploughed through the floor to the next level, mortally wounding a 12-year-old boy. Finally it crashed into the infants’ classroom, where it exploded.

Sixteen infants were killed and several dozen injured. The survivors huddled sobbing in the playground, while the teachers went to search the building. It was a horrific scene, breaking the hearts of all who saw it. The next day the school opened, as usual. As the headmaster read the register, there was a silence after every missing name. By the time he had finished, tears were running down his cheeks. The kaiser’s commanders believed that by bringing death to the streets of London, they would break Britain’s spirit and end the war. But they were wrong.

In the East End, the bombing unleashed a wave of anger. When a reporter visited Upper North Street School, he spotted the local Liberal MP, Alfred Yeo, with his Conservative rival, Captain Wilfrid Allen. Both were “white with anger” at the Germans.

“What’s the use of playing about like this?” Yeo said. “In God’s name, let us have an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. We must have reprisals.”

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Allen agreed: “Bomb their open towns, as they are bombing ours. Kill their civilians, as they are killing ours. Let their women and children suffer... It is the only way to bring the German people to their senses.” | Written by Dominic Sandbrook

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