On this day: the plane crash that killed an entire sporting team


Found in the wreckage X

On the 15th of February, 1961 the plane transporting the entire US figure skating team to the World Championships crashed in Belgium, killing everyone on board.


Two days earlier, national ladies’ champion Laurence Owen, aged sixteen, had been featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. There is a common myth that appearing on the cover of the magazine curses athletes, as she is not the only person to have something terrible happen soon afterwards.


The Owen family. X

Owen’s sister Maribel, also a member of the team, and her mother, a coach and former champion herself, were also on the flight.

In addition to the seventy-two people on the plane, a farmer was also killed by flying debris.


The team boards the plane the day before the crash. X

Once news of the crash got out, the Championships, scheduled to be held in Prague, were cancelled to honour the victims.

On this day…

Two Canadian soldiers, neighbours from back home, meet in Ghent, Belgium on the 8th of November, 1944. The men were from Scarborough in Ontario, Canada.



On this day…

“A” Company of Britain’s 4th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers rests in Mons, Belgium on the 22nd of August, 1914.

The following day they would fight in the Battle of Mons.

800px-4th_Bn_Royal_Fusiliers_22_August_1914 A Company of the 4th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (9th Brigade, 3rd Division) on 22 August, 1914, resting in the square at Mons, Belgium, the day before the Battle of Mons.

On this day: the 1920 Olympics

Antwerp_1920_bannerThe 1916 Olympic Games were scheduled to be held in Berlin but were cancelled due to World War I. The 1920 Games were awarded to Antwerp to honour the suffering that had been inflicted during the war.


The 1920 Summer Olympics opened in Antwerp, Belgium on the 14th of August.

1920_olympics_posterPoster of the 1920 Olympic Games. Printed in 90 000 copies in 17 languages plus French-Flamish bilingual versions.

The Games, which were to have been held in Germany in 1916 but were cancelled due to World War One, were awarded to the city in honour of the suffering inflicted on the Belgian people during the war.

On this day: Jean Joseph Merlin was born in 1735

Belgian inventor and horologist Jean Joseph Merlin was born on the 17th of September, 1735.

An inventor of a wide range of things, one of his most unusual patents was for the world’s first pair of roller skates in 1760. Though they were little more than ice skates with wheels where the blades would usually go, it may well be one of his biggest contributions to society.

He also had an interest in automata, and his work took him to Paris and London.

Dying in 1803, here he is as painted by Thomas Gainsborough in 1782.

Belgian inventor and horologist Jean Joseph Merlin was born on the 17th of September, 1735.