On this day in history, September 2

Two baobab trees surrounded by green bushes, photographed against a blue sky.

Baobab trees on the island of Madagascar. There are 3 trillion trees on Earth. Picture: Archives

Published Sep 2, 2023


44BC Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt declares her son co-ruler as Ptolemy XV Caesarion.

31BC In the Battle of Actium, off Greece, the forces of Octavian defeat troops under Mark Antony and Cleopatra. The battle effectively marks the end of the Roman republic.

1666 The Great Fire of London begins in Pudding Lane at 2am; 80% of London is destroyed.

1806 A landslide destroys the town of Goldau, Switzerland, killing 457 people.

1848 Sir Harry Smith proclaims the territory between the Orange and Vaal rivers as British territory, regardless of protests by Voortrekker leader Andries Pretorius.

1870 Prussian forces take Napoleon III of France and 100 000 of his soldiers prisoner in the Battle of Sedan.

1898 Lord Kitchener’s force decisively defeats the Dervishes at the Battle of Omdurman, in Sudan, taking Khartoum.

1901 US vice-president Theodore Roosevelt first utters the phrase ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick’ at the Minnesota State Fair.

1909 Britain’s King Edward VII signs the South Africa Act, creating the Union of South Africa from the colonies of the Cape of Good Hope, Natal, Orange River Colony, and Transvaal.

1944 Holocaust diarist Anne Frank is sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp.

1945 V-J Day, the formal surrender of Japan aboard the ‘Mighty Mo’, the battleship USS Missouri, marks the end of World War II.

1987 In Moscow, the trial begins for German Mathias Rust, 19, who flew his Cessna light plane undetected by air defences into Red Square. The failure to detect the plane gives Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev the excuse to replace some of the old guard in the military to further his policies of perestroika (restructuring of the political and economic systems of the Soviet Union, in an attempt to end the Era of Stagnation. It also led to the end of the Cold War.)

1998 The UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda finds Jean-Paul Akayesu, the former mayor of a small town in Rwanda, guilty on nine counts of genocide.

2001 Chris Barnard, the medical pioneer who performed the first heart transplant, dies of an asthma attack in his hotel room in Paphos, Cyprus, where he is on holiday.

2015 Earth’s trees number 3 trillion according to a Yale University study.

2019 A diving boat catches fire at night off Santa Cruz Island, California, killing 34 people asleep on board.

2019 Violence and looting directed at foreigners in Johannesburg results in five deaths and dozens arrested by the police.

2022 Russian state-controlled energy firm Gazprom indefinitely suspends supplies of natural gas to Germany and Europe via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, amid accusations of weaponising its energy supplies.