A Brief History
This article presents a chronological list of notable events that happened on May 17th. For each date below, please click on the date to be taken to an article covering that date’s event.
On May 17, 1536, King Henry VIII of England had his marriage to Anne Boleyn annulled, although she had borne him the future Queen Elizabeth I.
On May 17, 1875, in front of an estimated crowd of 10,000 people, a field of 15 three-year-old horses contested the first Kentucky Derby.
On May 17, 1943, the famous 617 Squadron of the RAF conducted a raid against dams on the Eder, Mohne, and Rohr rivers in Germany, using brilliantly designed special “bouncing bombs.”
On May 17, 1943, RAF Squadron 617, later known as The Dambusters, embarked on Operation Chastise, a plan to bomb and destroy two dams to flood the Ruhr Valley in Germany.
On May 17, 1943, the British RAF conducted their famous “Dambusters” raid on dams on Germany’s rivers, a story we told in our article “May 17, 1943: 10 Most Daring, Dashing, Devastating Bombing Raids (WWII)”.
On May 17, 1970, Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl’s boat made of reeds in the ancient way set sail across the Atlantic Ocean to prove people from North Africa could have reached the New World by boat.
On May 17, 1974, the Los Angeles Police Department engaged the radical Symbionese Liberation Army in one of the most famous gun fights in the history of the LAPD, a fight in which an incredible 9000 rounds of ammunition were expended!
On May 17, 1990, homosexual people around the world breathed a sigh of relief and vindication when the General Assembly of the World Health Organization ruled that homosexuality would no longer be considered a mental illness, paving the way for the culture shaking changes that have followed in the next 26 years.
On May 17, 1995, San Diego, California was the scene of one of the oddest and perhaps the scariest police chase of a stolen vehicle in the annals of motor vehicle theft.
Named by President Obama as his nominee for Secretary of the Army in November 2015, Eric Fanning, a 47 year old graduate of Dartmouth and a Defense Department employee, was confirmed for the job by the US Senate on May 17, 2016, making him the first openly gay Secretary of a US Military branch.
On May 17, 2018, a Tiny House Village in the Granton area of Edinburgh was opened by the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, Angela Constance MSP.
Question for students (and subscribers): Which event that occurred on today’s date would you like to learn more about? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Andrews, John and Matt Baker. Timeline of World History. Thunder Bay Press, 2020.
You can also watch video versions of this article on YouTube.