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ON THIS DAY

07 May 1945: Germany signs unconditional surrender. Germany has signed an unconditional surrender bringing to an end six years of war in Europe, according to reports from France. This evening the Ministry of Information has confirmed that an official statement declaring the end of the war, will be made simultaneously in London, Washington and Moscow tomorrow. The day has been declared a national holiday to mark Victory in Europe Day (VE Day). The following day (9 May) will also be a national holiday. The BBC’s Thomas Cadett watched the official signing at a schoolhouse in Reims, northeastern France, which serves as the advance headquarters of the supreme commander in Europe, General Dwight D Eisenhower. (Source: BBC)

10 May 1940: Churchill takes helm as Germans advance. German forces have invaded Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg by air and land. The invasion began at dawn with large numbers of aeroplanes attacking the main aerodromes and landing troops. The Dutch High Commission says more than 100 German planes were shot down by its forces. In London, it has been announced that Winston Churchill will lead a coalition government after Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain said he was stepping aside. Two days ago his majority plummeted in a vote of confidence in the Commons during a debate on the war and there were calls from the Tory benches for him to go. (Source: BBC)

05 May 1961: Shepard becomes first US astronaut. Commander Alan Shepard has been recovered from his space capsule in the. Atlantic after becoming the first American in space. Three weeks ago, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to fly into space. This morning, 37-year-old Cdr Shepard of the US Navy was launched into sub-orbital flight from Cape Canaveral in Florida in a Mercury 3 capsule attached to a Redstone rocket. He travelled 115 miles into space and landed in the Atlantic just 15 minutes later. His first words after he was picked up by a helicopter were: “Boy, what a ride!” President Kennedy telephoned to congratulate the astronaut a few minutes after he was flown to aircraft carrier Lake Champlain. (Source: BBC)

05 May 1980: SAS rescue ends Iran embassy siege. The siege of the Iranian embassy in London has ended after a dramatic raid by SAS commandos. Five Iranian gunmen were killed and one was arrested. Nineteen hostages were set free but one died and two were injured in the cross-fire. Millions of people watched the rescue live on television as bank holiday entertainment on all three channels was interrupted to show the real-life drama unfold. ‘We did not surrender, we became victorious,’Iran’s President Bani-Sadr. More than 30 masked troops stormed the embassy building from the balcony and front and back doors throwing grenades through the windows. Screams were heard from inside the building and some 15 minutes later the hostages emerged and were escorted by Scotland Yard police to waiting ambulances. The siege began five days ago when six gunmen took over the Iranian embassy in Kensington. Most of their hostages were fellow Iranians but also included embassy police guard PC Trevor Lock, BBC sound man Sim Harris, BBC news organiser Chris Cramer and tourists who had stopped by to collect visas. Four of the captives – including Mr Cramer – were released over the last week for medical reasons. The gunmen belonged to a dissident Iranian group opposed to Ayatollah Khomeini, the religious leader who came to power last year. They wanted the release of 91 political prisoners held in Iran as well as an aircraft to take them and the hostages out of the UK. The Home Secretary William Whitelaw ordered the attack on the sixth day of the siege after the gunmen shot dead Iranian press attaché Abbas Lavasani and dumped his body outside the building. (Source: BBC)
Comment: One apocryphal story about the siege was told to the Editor. When a certain Met. Police Officer walked out in front of the Embassy and ordered the surrender of the terrorists, P

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