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On this day in history, July 31

Significant and interesting snippets of news with a South African angle, from this day in history.

England players celebrate with the trophy following victory over Germany in the Uefa Women's Euro 2022 final at Wembley Stadium, London. Picture: Reuters

Published Jul 31, 2023


Significant and interesting snippets of news with a South African angle, from this day in history.

30BC Cleopatra’s lover Mark Antony achieves victory over Octavian, but when most of his army deserts, he commits suicide.

1588 Terror strikes at the heart of the English realm when the Spanish Armada is spotted off the coast of England.

1861 India’s monsoon is so bad that a record 9 300mm of rain falls July in Cherrapunji, Assam.

1885 Marthinus de Villiers, composer of Die Stem (The Call), is born in Paarl, Cape. As the composer of the music put to the poem by CJ Langenhoven. De Villiers’ first version didn’t get the nod, so it had to be redone.

1970 Black Tot Day: The last day of the rum ration in the Royal Navy. (To help supply the vast volumes required during World War II, the Admiralty recruited out of Durban, aid from the South African National Chemical Syndicate. Established to make methylated and rectified spirits for the tanning industry, the syndicate began distilling cane spirit in support of the war effort. While regarded as rum, it was more similar in taste to its methylated cousins. South Africa continued to supply rum to the Royal Navy until 1961.)

1987 A battle between Iranian pilgrims and Saudi troops leaves 402 people dead.

1990 The fifth day of the Test between India and England at Lords ends with a total of 1 603 runs being scored in as many minutes. England captain Graham Gooch scores 333 in his first innings and 123 in his second for a world-record Test aggregate score of 456. He is the most prolific run-scorer of all time.

1992 A Thai Airways airliner crashes into a mountain north of Kathmandu, Nepal, killing all 113 people on board.

1998 ‘Dr Death’, Wouter Basson testifies before the TRC that he had to help keep Nelson Mandela alive in prison during the 1980s because it was thought that certain ANC members were trying to poison him.

2012 Michael Phelps breaks the record set in 1964 by Larisa Latynina for the most medals won at the Olympics.

2019 Russian President Vladimir Putin orders the Russian army to help put out huge wildfires covering three million hectares in Siberia.

2022 Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who helped plan 9/11 attacks in 2001, is killed in a CIA drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan. US President Joe Biden calls it the group's biggest loss since Osama bin Laden was killed.

2022 Women's Euro 2022: England defeat Germany 2-1 in extra time in front of biggest-ever Euro crowd of 87 192 at Wembley, London.