On this day in 1963 the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing occurred in Birmingham, Alabama. Four African-American children are killed as a result. It marked a turning point in the civil rights movement in the South, as most people condemned such an act as to kill children. The church had been a rallying point for civil rights activities in Birmingham, and was thus a target for pro-segregation bigots.
On this day in 1940 a decisive battle for air supremacy over England occurred during the Battle of Britain. The German Luftwaffe had been systematically trying to destroy the Royal Air Force in order to launch Operation Sea Lion, the amphibious invasion of Britain. But during the dogfights on this day the RAF was able to shoot down 56 German planes. From that point on Germany stopped daylight attacks and the invasion was put off indefinitely. Despite being outnumbered, the RAF was able to shoot down 2 planes for every 1 that they had lost.
On this day in 1916 the tank made its debut on the battlefield at Somme during WWI. The British launched a massive offensive to break the stalemate of trench warfare. The barbed wire that encompassed no man's land made large offensives suicidal, so the tank became the logical answer. Despite initial gains, the offensive was a huge failure in that the allies gained only 5 miles of territory at the expense of losing 600,000 soldiers.
On this day in 1954 one of the most famous scenes in movie history is filmed when Marilyn Monroe has her skirt blown up by a blast of air from a subway vent. The movie was The Seven Year Itch, and the scene infuriated Monroe's husband Joe Dimaggio, who thought it was exhibitionist and he filed for divorce a few days later.