What happened in February? A daily overview

01 February

Richard Edwards, former rhythm guitarist for the Manic Street Preachers was last seen leaving the Embassy hotel in Bayswater Road, London W2, at 7 am on February 1st, 1995. He drove off in his car which was discovered by Avon and Somerset police at the Severn Bridge service station at Aust, on the English side of the bridge, on February 17th, 1995. Richey was never found and the band still keep a cut of his royalties to one side in the unlikely event that he should ever return. Read more

02 February

2 February 1943 - The final remnants of the German Sixth Army, under General Strecker surrender to the Russians. 110,000 prisoners of war were captured, along with 24 Generals. 400,000 German soldiers had died during this ill-fated and ill-conceived campaign. The Battle of Stalingrad is generally considered to be the turning point in the war against Hitler. It proved that Hitler's army was not invincible, and it started the Soviets on the march that would end in Berlin. Read more

03 February

Within minutes of takeoff from the Mason City, IA Airport, at around 1:00 AM CST on February 3rd, 1959 , the chartered Beech-Craft Bonanza airplane No. N3794N containing Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper crashes into the Iowa countryside, killing all three in addition to pilot Roger Peterson. The tragedy was later immortalized as `The Day The Music Died` by Don McLean in his famous song `American Pie`. Read more

04 February

A 7.5 earthquake struck Guatemala at 3:04 a.m. on 4th February 1976 while most people were still sleeping. Thousands of unstable buildings collapsed and buried the people still inside. 24,000 people were killed, 50,000 injured, and as many as one million left without homes. A second series of shocks hit on February 6, collapsing more of the surviving buildings. Thousands more were killed and relief efforts hampered. The United States gave more than $10 million in assistance, but the full property and industrial losses, estimated at $3 billion, could never be reclaimed. Read more

05 February

On February 5th 2004 twenty-three Chinese migrant workers drowned on the cockle bays of Morecambe Bay, cut off by the rising tides. The tragedy shocked the world and highlighted the often extreme dangers migrant workers face when left unprotected by the law and at the hands of unscrupulous human traffickers. Ten of the dead, who were in their teens and 20s, were found by an RNLI hovercraft. A film titled `Ghosts` based on this story has been made by Nick Broomfield. Read more

06 February

On 6th February 1958, the plane carrying the Manchester United football team, crashed on takeoff on a snow covered runway at Munich Airport, West Germany. Seven members of the team died in the crash, and an eighth (Duncan Edwards) was to die later from serious injuries. Eight accompanying journalists and three club officials also perished in the crash. United were returning from Belgrade where they had just beaten Red Star Belgrade in the European Cup and had stopped off at Munich for re-fuelling. Twenty-three of the forty-four passengers on board the aircraft lost their lives. Read more

07 February

On 7th February 1914 Charlie Chaplin makes his first appearance in his popular `Little Tramp` role, in Kid Auto Races at Venice. Born on 16 April 1889 in London, to music hall singers, Chaplin grew up in the theater. At age 17 he joined the vaudeville troupe of Fred Karno, which took him to America in 1910. Famously outspoken and sympathetic to communism, Chaplin left the United States in 1952 because of increased political pressure. He settled in Switzerland, where he and his wife Oona raised eight children, including actress Geraldine Chaplin. In 1975 he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. Read more

08 February

On the 8th February 1983 Shergar was snatched from the Aga Khan's Ballymany stud in County Kildare, Ireland. Owned by the Aga Khan, Shergar was certainly one of the most talented horses in racing history, winning six of his eight races amassing prize money to the value of £436,000. The disappearance is still a mystery; only theories and rumours have offered any clues to Shergar's whereabouts and nover twenty years later the truth is still not known. Read more

09 February

At 7.01pm on 9 February 1996, the IRA ended its 17-month ceasefire with a blast that rocked east London, injured more than 100 people, one critically, and thrust Northern Ireland back into political ferment. After one hour of shock and hectic checking with the security forces who, like the Government, were taken 'completely by surprise', Prime Minister John Major attacked the bombing as 'an appalling outrage'. He called upon Sinn Fein and the IRA to condemn unequivocally those who planted the bomb near South Quay railway station on the Isle of Dogs. Read more

10 February

On 10th February 1996, a computer, Deep Blue, beat Russian Garry Kasparov, the greatest chess player on the planet, and mankind’s place in the order of things was reshuffled. The match immediately became an iconic symbol of the advances made in artificial intelligence and supercomputing. Kasparov has since retired, like Deep Blue, which now resides in a museum. He has become a vocal advocate for democracy in today’s Russia. Read more

11 February

On 11th February, 1858, a 14 year old French peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous claimed to have seen visions of the Virgin Mary at her native Lourdes. She also revealed that the waters of a spring near a grotto in Lourdes had been given healing powers by the Virgin. Eventually, the Roman Catholic church decided that the visions were authentic. Franz Werfel wrote the novel, Song of Bernadette, based on the story of Bernadette's visions. Read more

12 February

Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809, in Mount House, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England . He was a naturalist who achieved lasting fame by outlining the theory of evolution and proposing that evolution could be explained through natural and sexual selection. He died on April 19, 1882 and was buried next to Isaac Newton. Read more

13 February

The fifth queen of Henry VIII was Catherine Howard. Her father was very poor, and Catherine lived mainly with Agnes, widow of the 2nd duke of Norfolk. Henry was evidently charmed by her and he was privately married to Catherine at Oatlands in July 1540. In November 1541 Archbishop Thomas Cranmer informed Henry that his queen's past life had not been stainless. After some denials the queen herself admitted that this was true; but denied that she had misconducted herself since her marriage. Some fresh information, however, very soon came to light showing that she had been unchaste since her marriage; a bill of attainder was passed through parliament, and on the 13th of February 1542 the queen was beheaded. Read more

14 February

February 14 is Valentine's Day. Although it is celebrated as a lovers' holiday today, with the giving of candy, flowers, or other gifts between couples in love, it originated in 5th Century Rome as a tribute to St. Valentine, a Catholic bishop. The first Valentine card grew out of this practice. The first true Valentine card was sent in 1415 by Charles, duke of Orleans, to his wife. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London at the time. Cupid, another symbol of the holiday, became associated with it because he was the son of Venus, the Roman god of love and beauty. Cupid often appears on Valentine cards. Read more

15 February

D-Day was February 15th 1971. On that day the United Kingdom changed from the centuries old tradition of using 12 pence to the shilling and 20 shillings to the pound to a new decimal 100 new pence to the pound. The penny and twopence coins have become insignificant in value in everyday transactions. However, these two denominations comprise the largest bulk of new coins minted at the Royal Mint, no less than 71% in 1998-99. The reason for this is simple - they are hoarded because of their low value, with pockets and purses being emptied of these relatively heavy coins each day. Read more

16 February

On February 16th 2005, the first international treaty to cut carbon dioxide emissions came into effect. The treaty is known as 'the Kyoto Protocol', named after the Japanese city where negotiations began in 1997. The protocol seeks to controls emissions of six heat-trapping gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride. With only 4% of the world's population, the USA now releases 6.7 billion metric tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere every year - nearly a quarter of the world's total. Read more

17 February

The central London congestion charging scheme was successfully introduced on 17 February 2003. The introduction of the charge has led to a 30% reduction in congestion in the charging zone, which covers 22 square kilometres of the inner city. The congestion charge is a £5 daily charge for driving or parking a vehicle on public roads within the congestion charging zone between 07:00 and 18:30, Monday to Friday, excluding weekends and public holidays. Certain categories of vehicle, notably taxis, motorcycles and buses, are exempt; and certain categories of vehicle users can register for discounts. Read more

18 February

Mary Queen of Scots completed her last letter at 2am on Wednesday 18 February 1587. Six hours later she was to mount the scaffold at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire. The letter is addressed to Henri III, King of France. Directly or indirectly, Mary was involved in plots against the English Queen, in plans for Catholic risings in England, and in diplomatic intrigues on the continent. The English government was persuaded that, to ensure the political stability of England, Mary could not be allowed to live. The English government insisted that the death of Mary was purely a political matter. However, as she conveys in her last letter, Mary herself believed she was dying a religious martyr. Read more

19 February

On the 19th February 2001 signs of foot and mouth disease were noticed in an abattoir in Essex. The outbreak was traced to a pig fattening 'farm' in Northumberland where the animals were fed with swill made from waste food from local restaurants. Foot and mouth disease affects all cloven-hoofed animals and is caused by a picorna virus. Foot and mouth should not to be confused with hand, foot and mouth disease, which is a mild blistering disease of children, caused by a different virus. Read more

20 February

Launched on 20 February 1986, Mir is the longest lasting, most elaborate space station to date. It returned to Earth in March 2001 after remaining in space for 15 years, more than three times its planned lifetime. In total, 105 cosmonauts, including 82 non-Russians of 11 nationalities, flew on Mir between 1988 and 1999. Read more

21 February

On 21st February 1952, as part of Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s bonfire of controls, the government abolished the national identity cards with much support from the population. Wartime identity cards, when introduced in 1939, had just three administrative functions: national service, national security and food rationing. Within eleven years this had risen to thirty-nine, and showing your identity card for the most trivial of purposes had become routine. Since then, there have been failed attempts to reintroduce the card by both Conservatives and Labour, with justifications varying from tax administration, to football hooliganism. Read more

22 February

It all began with Dolly the Sheep whose birth was announced on 22 February 1997 in 1996. Dolly , a ewe, was the first mammal to have been successfully cloned from an adult cell. She was cloned at the Roslin Institute in Midlothian, Scotland, and lived there until her death when she was six years old. . The sheep was originally code-named `6LL3`. The name `Dolly` came from a suggestion by the stockmen who helped with her birth, in honour of Dolly Parton, because it was a mammary cell that was cloned. Read more

23 February

In 1892, Rudolf Diesel, the inventor of the diesel fueled internal combustion engine was issued a patent for a proposed engine, in which air would be compressed so much that the temperature would far exceed the ignition temperature of the fuel. By 1898, Rudolf Diesel was a millionaire. His engines were used to power pipelines, electric and water plants, automobiles and trucks, and marine craft, and soon after were used in mines, oil fields, factories, and transoceanic shipping. The diesel engines of today are refined and improved versions of Rudolf Diesel's original concept. They are often used in submarines, ships, locomotives, and large trucks and in electric generating plants. Read more

24 February

In 1981 the engagement between the 19 year-old Lady Diana Frances Spencer and the 32 year-old Heir to the British Throne Prince Charles is officially announced. Prince Charles had proposed to Lady Diana three weeks before at a private dinner at Buckingham Palace before she went to Australia. He wanted her to use the trip to think over his proposal but she accepted immediately and he gave her the diamond and sapphire engagement ring. Read more

25 February

On 25th February 2006, 1:16am CET, Earth’s population hit 6.5 billion people. The next benchmark will be on 18 October 2012 when the Earth will be home to 7 billion people . According to the Population Reference Bureau, the estimated number of people ever born is 106 billion (106,000,000,000). That means that 6.13 per cent of all people ever born are living right now! Even more striking is that the time required for the global population to grow from 5 billion to 6 billion just a dozen years was shorter than the interval between any of the previous billions. Read more

26 February

On the 26th of February 1995 Eddie George, governor of the Bank of England stunned the corporate financial world when he announced that Barings PLC, Britain's oldest and most respected merchant bank was bankrupt. Barings' collapse on February 26, 1995 was brought by the activities of just one rogue trader, Nick Leeson, who lost $1.4 billion by speculating on the Singapore International Monetary Exchange using futures contracts. If anything, till the very collapse of the bank, Leeson was viewed as a celebrity, a star trader who was not to be interfered with. Read more

27 February

On 27th February 1900 the Fabian Society joined with the Independent Labour Party, the Social Democratic Federation and trade union leaders to form the Labour Representation Committee (LRC). Later that year the LRC decided to change its name to the Labour Party. When the Liberal Party split in 1916, the Labour Party was well placed to make a challenge for power. Read more

28 February

On 28th February 1948, the lst Battalion The Somerset Light Infantry marched through the Gateway of India in Bombay after having taken part in a huge ceremonial Parade. The Battalion was the last British unit to leave India after it had received its Independence in August 1947. The Battalion returned by troopship to Liverpool where they received a hero's welcome as, indeed, they received in Taunton, when they arrived there by train a day later. Read more

29 February

Roughly four million people in the world were born on February 29th, the day that only comes around once every four years. The Earth does not, unfortunately, go around the sun in exactly 365 days, in fact it’s closer to 365.2425 days. So every four years the calendar moves out of sync with the Earth’s orbit by just slightly less than one day. People who have a birthday on February 29th can be known as `Leaplings` and like to say that they are `only` a quarter of their real age, they like to be different and it’s always special when they have a `real` birthday. Read more