On this day, June 8

Death of Muhammad (PBUH); mid-Atlantic volcano causes 7-year famine across Europe and Asia; Lady Godiva rides naked again; the world’s fastest computer

With all her clothes burned from her body, screaming ‘Napalm Girl' Phan Thị Kim Phúc flees a US napalm attack on civilians that took place on this day during the Vietnam War. Picture: File

Published Jun 8, 2023


Death of Muhammad (PBUH); mid-Atlantic volcano causes 7-year famine across Europe and Asia; Lady Godiva rides naked again; the world’s fastest computer

452 Italy is invaded by Attila the Hun, one of Europe’s most feared enemies.

632 Muhammad, founder of Islam (PBUH) dies in Medina. He was 61 or 62 and is viewed as the final prophet of God in all the main branches of Islam.

1783 Laki, a volcano in Iceland, begins an eight-month eruption which kills 10 000 people and starts a widespread seven-year famine throughout Asia and Europe.

1786 Commercially made ice-cream is first advertised, in New York.

1794 Radical democrat and key figure in the French Revolution Robespierre inaugurates the revolution’s state religion, the Cult of the Supreme Being.

1824 The washing machine is patented, in Quebec.

1856 A group of 194 Pitcairn Islanders, descendants of the mutineers of HMS Bounty, arrive at Norfolk Island for resettlement.

1938 Schoolboy Gert Terblanche discovers fossils of an unknown “robust-type” human ancestor, named Paranthropus robustus, at Kromdraai, near Sterkfontein.

1942 Japanese submarines shell Sydney and Newcastle, Australia.

1943 The two-day Battle of Porta between the Royal Italian Army and the Greek People’s Liberation Army begins with 250 Greek partisans overcoming 5 000 Italian soldiers. Italy’s poor performance in Greece leads to the Germany army invading and conquering the country.

1949 George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is published.

1972 Phan Thị Kim Phúc, 9, is burned by napalm. A photographer snaps her moments later as the screaming young girl runs away down a road. The image, Napalm Girl, conveys the horrors of war in a way that words cannot and it becomes an iconic, Pulitzer Prize-winning photo.

1982 Argentinian air attacks on British landing ships kill 56 UK servicemen in the Falklands.

1986 Alleged Nazi Kurt Waldheim, a former UN secretary-general, is elected President of Austria.

1995 Downed US Air Force pilot Captain Scott O’Grady is rescued by US Marines in Bosnia.

1996 Revival of the legendary procession of Lady Godiva naked through Coventry, England. According to legend, Godiva, a real figure, In the eleventh century, Lady Godiva reportedly rode a horse completely naked through the streets of Coventry on Market Day. According to legend, her husband, Leofric, Earl of Mercia, demanded an oppressive tax from Coventry citizens. Lady Godiva, aiming to help the citizens, pleaded for him to stop. Leofric supposedly said, “You will have to ride naked through Coventry before I change my ways.” Before beginning this quest to help Coventry, Godiva told everyone to stay in their homes to preserve her modesty before riding through the streets, her long hair draped so that it covered almost her whole body, allowing only her legs and eyes to remain visible. However, one man, now known as Peeping Tom, disobeyed her instructions and couldn’t help looking out at Godiva riding through Coventry on the horse. Upon doing so, the legend goes, he was instantly blinded.

2018 The world’s most powerful supercomputer, Summit, which can process 200 000 trillion calculations per second, is unveiled.

2020 Former astronaut Kathy Sullivan is the first woman to reach deepest point of the ocean – Challenger Deep in the Marianas Trench. She was formerly the first American woman to spacewalk.