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15th May

1718 The machine gun was patented by London lawyer James Puckle.

1905 * Joseph Cotton, US actor who starred in Citizen Kane (1941) with Orson Welles.

1909 * James Mason, English actor who starred in the film Odd Man Out (1947).

1918 The first air mail route in the U.S. was established between New York and Washington, DC, with a stop at Philadelphia.

1935 * Edward 'Ted' Dexter, former Sussex and England cricket captain.

1940 Nylon stockings went on sale in the US for the first time.

1941 Frank Whittle's jet-propelled Gloster aircraft made its maiden flight from RAF Cranwell.

1953 * Mike Oldfield, English instrumentalist best known for the album 'Tubular Bells'.

1954 The Queen and Royal Family return safely from their six-month tour of the Commonwealth to a
rapturous welcome in London.

1957 As the arms race begins to escalate, following only two years of development, Britain tests its first hydrogen bomb over Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean.

1988 The Soviet Union began to withdraw its estimated 115,000 troops from Afghanistan.

1993 A hostage crisis at a nursery school in Paris ends when commandos storm the school. The children's teacher was hailed a hero.

2001 British consumers reap the benefits of cheaper over-the-counter medicine after a court ruling puts an end to the drug industry's price-fixing policy.

xxxx * = Date of birth

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