29 April 1916

Easter Rising: After six days of fighting, Irish rebel leaders surrender to British forces in Dublin, bringing the Easter Rising to an end.

The 1916 Easter Rising was a pivotal event in Irish history, marking a significant armed rebellion against British rule in Ireland. It began on Easter Monday, April 24, 1916, and lasted for six days.

Ireland had been under English, and later British, rule for centuries, with numerous uprisings occurring over the years. By the early 20th century, the push for Irish independence gained momentum, particularly with the formation of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and other nationalist groups.

The Easter Rising was primarily orchestrated by the IRB, along with the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army. These groups aimed to end British rule in Ireland and establish an independent Irish Republic. The leaders believed that a successful rebellion, even if initially small, could inspire broader support for independence.

The rebellion began on Easter Monday when approximately 1,200 rebels seized strategic locations in Dublin, including the General Post Office (GPO) which became the headquarters of the uprising. Patrick Pearse, one of the key leaders, read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic outside the GPO, declaring Ireland’s independence from the United Kingdom.

The British military response was swift and forceful. They deployed thousands of troops, along with artillery and a gunboat on the River Liffey, to suppress the rebellion. After six days of fighting, the rebels were overwhelmed by superior British forces.

The leaders of the Rising were executed in the weeks following the rebellion, which initially caused public sentiment to be somewhat against the rebels due to the disruption and destruction caused. However, the harsh penalties imposed by the British, including the executions, shifted public opinion in favor of the rebels. This shift played a crucial role in the subsequent rise of the Sinn Féin party and the Irish War of Independence from 1919 to 1921, which eventually led to the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922.

The Easter Rising is remembered as a turning point in Irish history, a symbol of the struggle for independence, and a demonstration of the Irish desire for self-determination. Annually, it is commemorated across Ireland, particularly in Dublin at the GPO, where the proclamation was first read.

29 April 1997

The Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993 enters into force, outlawing the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons by its signatories.

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is an international treaty signed in 1993 that prohibits the development, production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons. The CWC was established to promote global peace and security by eliminating the use of chemical weapons, which have been responsible for causing significant harm and suffering throughout history.

The treaty has been ratified by 193 countries, making it one of the most widely accepted arms control treaties in history. The signatories to the treaty have committed to the destruction of all chemical weapons they possess and to never develop, produce or acquire any in the future.

Under the CWC, each signatory is required to declare all chemical weapons and production facilities it possesses, and to destroy them within a specified period. The treaty also established the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversees the implementation of the treaty and monitors compliance by signatories.

The OPCW is responsible for verifying the destruction of chemical weapons and ensuring that signatories are complying with the terms of the treaty. The OPCW conducts regular inspections of chemical production facilities and investigates any allegations of chemical weapons use.

The CWC has been successful in reducing the threat of chemical weapons, and the destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles has been ongoing since the treaty’s implementation. However, there have been some concerns about compliance and the potential use of chemical weapons by non-state actors, such as terrorist groups.

29 April 1968

The controversial musical Hair, a product of the hippie counter-culture and sexual revolution of the 1960s, opens at the Biltmore Theatre on Broadway, with some of its songs becoming anthems of the anti-Vietnam War movement.

29 April 1986

Chernobyl disaster: American and European spy satellites capture the ruins of the 4th Reactor at the Chernobyl Power Plant.

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29 April 1945

The German army in Italy surrenders to the Allies.

On this day in 1945, approximately 1 million German soldiers lay down their arms as the terms of the German unconditional surrender, signed at Caserta on April 29, come into effect. Many Germans surrender to Japanese soldiers—Japanese Americans. Among the American tank crews that entered the northern Italian town of Biella was an all-Nisei infantry battalion, composed of Japanese Americans from Hawaii.

Early that same day, Russian Marshal Georgi K. Zhukov accepts the surrender of the German capital. The Red Army takes 134,000 German soldiers prisoner.

29 April 1945

The German army in Italy surrenders to the Allies.

The spring 1945 offensive in Italy, codenamed Operation Grapeshot, was the final Allied attack during the Italian Campaign in the final stages of the Second World War. The attack into the Lombardy Plain by the 15th Allied Army Group started on 6 April 1945, ending on 2 May with the formal surrender of German forces in Italy.

In the first week of April, diversionary attacks were launched on the extreme right and left of the Allied front to draw German reserves away from the main assaults to come. This included Operation Roast, an assault by British 2nd Commando Brigade and armour to capture the seaward isthmus of land bordering Lake Comacchio and seize Port Garibaldi on the lake’s north side. Meanwhile, damage to other transport infrastructure having forced Axis forces to use sea, canal and river routes for re-supply, Axis shipping was being attacked in bombing raids such as Operation Bowler.

Men of the Jewish Brigade ride on a Churchill tank in the Mezzano-Alfonsine sector, 14 March 1945.
The build-up to the main assault started on 6 April with a heavy artillery bombardment of the Senio defenses. In the early afternoon of 9 April, 825 heavy bombers dropped fragmentation bombs on the support zone behind the Senio followed by medium and fighter bombers. From 15:20 to 19:10, five heavy artillery barrages were fired, each lasting 30 minutes, interspersed with fighter bomber attacks. In support of the New Zealand operations, 28 Churchill Crocodiles and 127 Wasp flamethrower vehicles were deployed along the front. The 8th Indian Division, 2nd New Zealand Division and 3rd Carpathian Division attacked at dusk. In fighting in which there were two Victoria Crosses won by 8th Indian Division members, they had reached the river Santerno, 5.6 km beyond, by dawn on 11 April. The New Zealanders had reached the Santerno at nightfall on 10 April and succeeded in making a crossing at dawn on 11 April. The Poles had closed on the Santerno by the night of 11 April.

By late morning of 12 April, after an all night assault, the 8th Indian Division was established on the far side of the Santerno and the British 78th Division started to pass through to make the assault on Argenta. In the meantime the British 24th Guards Brigade, part of 56th Infantry Division, had launched an amphibious flanking attack from the water and mud to the right of the Argenta Gap. Although they gained a foothold, they were still held up at positions on the Fossa Marina on the night of 14 April. 78th Battleaxe Division was also held up on the same day on the Reno River at Bastia.

5th Army offensive, April 1945
The U.S. 5th Army began its assault on 14 April after a bombardment by 2,000 heavy bombers and 2,000 artillery pieces, with attacks by the troops of U.S. IV Corps 1st Brazilian, 10th Mountain, and 1st Armored Divisions on the left. This was followed on the night of 15 April by U.S. II Corps striking with 6th South African Armoured and 88th Infantry Divisions advancing towards Bologna between Highway 64 and 65, and 91st and 34th Infantry Divisions along Highway 65. Progress against a determined German defence was slow but ultimately superior Allied firepower and lack of German reserves told and by 20 April both corps had broken through the mountain defences and reached the plains of the Po valley. 10th Mountain Division were directed to bypass Bologna on their right and push north leaving U.S. II Corps to deal with Bologna along with Eighth Army units advancing from their right.

By 19 April, on the Eighth Army front, the Argenta Gap had been forced, and British 6th Armoured Division was released through the left wing of the advancing 78th Division to swing left to race north west along the line of the river Reno to Bondeno and link up with the US 5th Army to complete the encirclement of the German armies defending Bologna. On the same day, the Italian National Liberation Committee for Northern Italy, in command of the Italian resistance movement, ordered a general insurrection; in the following days, fighting between Italian partisan and German and RSI forces broke out in Turin and Genoa as well as in many other towns across Northern Italy, while German forces prepared to withdraw from Milan. On all fronts the German defense continued to be determined and effective, but Bondeno was captured on 23 April. The 6th Armoured Division linked with US IV Corps’ 10th Mountain Division the next day at Finale some 5 miles upstream along the river Panaro from Bondeno. Bologna was entered in the morning of 21 April by the Eighth Army’s Polish II Corps’ 3rd Carpathian Infantry Division and the “Friuli” Combat Group of the Italian Co-belligerent Army advancing up the line of Route 9, followed two hours later by US II Corps from the south. On 24 April, Parma and Reggio Emilia were liberated by the partisans.

U.S. IV Corps had continued their northwards advance and reached the river Po at San Benedetto on 22 April. The river was crossed the next day, and they advanced north to Verona which they entered on 26 April. To the right of Fifth Army on Eighth Army’s left wing, British XIII Corps crossed the Po at Ficarolo on 22 April, while V Corps were crossing the Po by 25 April, heading towards the Venetian Line, a defensive line built behind the line of the river Adige. As Allied forces pushed across the Po, on the left flank the Brazilian, 34th Infantry and 1st Armored Divisions of IV Corps were pushed west and northwest along the line of Highway 9 towards Piacenza and across the Po to seal possible escape routes into Austria and Switzerland via Lake Garda. On 27 April, the 1st Armored Division entered Milan, liberated by the partisans on 25 April, and IV Corps commander Crittenberger entered the city on 30 April. Turin was also liberated by partisan forces on 25 April, after five days of clashes, and on 27 April General Günther Meinhold surrendered his 14,000 troops to the partisans in Genoa. To the south of Milan, at Collecchio-Fornovo, the Brazilian Division bottled up the remaining effectives of two German divisions along with the last units of fascist army, taking on 28 April 13,500 prisoners.

On the Allied far right flank, British V Corps, met by lessening resistance, traversed the Venetian Line and entered Padua in the early hours of 29 April, to find that partisans had locked up the German garrison of 5,000.

Secret surrender negotiations between representatives of the Germans and Western Allies had taken place in Switzerland in March but had resulted only in protests from the Russians that the Western Allies were attempting to negotiate a separate peace.

On 28 April, von Vietinghoff sent emissaries to Allied Army headquarters. On 29 April, they signed an instrument of surrender to the effect that hostilities would formally end on 2 May. Confirmation from von Vietinghoff of the arrangements did not reach Allied 15th Army Group headquarters until the morning of 2 May. It emerged that Kesselring had had his authority as Commander of the West extended to include Italy and had replaced von Vietinghoff with General Friedrich Schulz from Army Group G on hearing of the plans. However, after a period of confusion during which the news of Hitler’s death arrived, Schulz obtained Kesselring’s agreement to the surrender and von Vietinghoff was reinstated to see it through.

29 April 1986

Chernobyl disaster is detected by the west.

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The Chernobyl disaster, also referred to as the Chernobyl accident, was a catastrophic nuclear accident. It occurred on 26 April 1986 in the No.4 light water graphite moderated reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant near Pripyat, in what was then part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic of the Soviet Union.

During a late night safety test which simulated power-failure and in which safety systems were deliberately turned off, a combination of inherent reactor design flaws, together with the reactor operators arranging the core in a manner contrary to the checklist for the test, eventually resulted in uncontrolled reaction conditions that flashed water into steam generating a destructive steam explosion and a subsequent open-air graphite “fire”. This “fire” produced considerable updrafts for about 9 days, that lofted plumes of fission products into the atmosphere, with the estimated radioactive inventory that was released during this very hot “fire” phase, approximately equal in magnitude to the airborne fission products released in the initial destructive explosion. Practically all of this radioactive material would then go on to fall-out/precipitate onto much of the surface of the western USSR and Europe.

The Chernobyl accident dominates the Energy accidents sub-category, of most disastrous nuclear power plant accident in history, both in terms of cost and casualties. It is one of only two nuclear energy accidents classified as a level 7 event on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the other being the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011.