29th July
It was on this day...
1976 The "Son of Sam" Starts Serial Killing Spree In New York City

Today saw the first shooting from the self proclaimed "Son of Sam". One died (Donna Lauria) and one was injured (Jody Valenti) while sitting in a car.

The killer got his name following a letter he sent to a reporter, Jimmy Breslin:

"I am a monster. I am the Son of Sam. I love to hunt, prowling the streets looking for fair game. The weman are prettyist of all."

After a series of killings across the city, dark haired women in New York were told not to go out alone.

Vigilante groups were set up in an attempt to find him. He was eventually detained following a routine police investigation of his vehicle after a parking ticket. They found a machine gun in a car belonging to David Berkowitz from Yonkers, New York.

Berkowitz later explained that Sam [Carr] was his neighbor, an "agent of the devil". Sam's pet Labrador told Berkowitz to kill people.

Berkowitz was allowed to plead guilty (rather than insanity) and was sentenced to 300 years in prison.

It was on this day...
1588 The 'Invincible' Spanish Armada Is Defeated by English Navy

England's ships were under the command of Lord Charles Howard and Sir Francis Drake.

The battle began on 21st July 1588. A 7 mile-long line of Spanish ships was stationed off the southern coast of England, ready to attack. The English made good use of their innovative, for their time, long range guns which managed to thin out their numbers (before this, the usual method of fighting was to board the ships and then close-quarter fighting onboard).

The Armada landed at Calais (thus a base to control the English Channel), and began an operation to get their troops to Flanders from where they could be shipped over to England. It was widely assumed that Spain's superior infantry could have easily beaten the English equivalent in a land battle.

This plan was foiled after the English sent burning ships into the crowded harbor (on this day) which forced the Spanish ships out into the open sea where they were attacked by English ships, finally putting an end to any hopes of an invasion of England.

The reason for the Spanish attack? To stem the English raids against Spanish trading routes, Queen Elizabeth's support of the Dutch rebels in Spanish controlled Netherlands, and to bring England back into the Roman Catholic fold.

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1890 Vincent Van Gogh, 47, dies two days after shooting himself.

1940 Orson Welles, 25, films the first scene of Citizen Kane.

1958 NASA is established after the US Congress passes legislation inaugurating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It's first aim was to beat the Soviets in the space race.

1981 Prince Charles, first in line to the English throne, marries Lady Diana Spencer, a young English school teacher.

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