Real people, real stories – more than just dates and boring facts
971 Using crossbows, Song dynasty troops soundly defeat a war elephant corps of the Southern Han at Shao, China.
1556 The deadliest earthquake in history kills 830 000 people in China’s Shaanxi province.
1795 After a charge across the frozen Zuiderzee during an exceptionally cold winter, the French cavalry captures 14 Dutch ships and 850 guns, in a rare case of a battle between ships and cavalry.
1879 The overnight attack on Rorke’s Drift is repulsed at about 4am when the decimated Zulu regiments are withdrawn.
1897 Isaac Pitman dies. He was the founder of a form of shorthand that was a standard tool in the armoury of many a reporter, among others.
1900 At the Battle of Spioenkop, the Boers beat off a British attempt to break the Siege of Ladysmith.
1903 Colonel Arthur Alfred Lynch is found guilty of high treason and sentenced to death for leading the ‘Irish Commando’ alongside the Boers against British forces. The sentence is later commuted to life imprisonment.
1920 The Netherlands refuses to surrender exiled German Kaiser Wilhelm II to the Allies. The last Prussian king and German emperor lives at Huis Doorn, in the Netherlands, until his death in 1941. He was an enthusiastic supporter of Adolf Hitler, although the German Chancellor and tyrant thought little of him.
1960 The bathyscaphe USS Trieste breaks a depth record by descending to 10 911m in the Pacific Ocean. The record stands until 2019 when Frenchman Victor Vescovo pilots his submersible down to 10 927m in the Challenger Deep part of the Mariana Trench – where the previous record was set. There, Veriscovo found both life and plastic trash.
1999 Self-proclaimed Sifiso Nkabinde, the former secretary-general of the ANC in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands region, is shot dead at Richmond by three unknown assailants as he was leaving one of this shops. Two years prior, Nkabinde was expelled from the ANC on suspicion of having been a spy for the apartheid government. He denied the allegation stating that, as an ANC populist, he was becoming a threat in the Midlands branch of the party. He also felt that his alleged refusal to desist contesting the chairmanship of the party was the cause for his expulsion. He was soon approached by the newly formed United Democratic Movement (UDM) to join its ranks, where he became the National Secretary General and Chairman of the movement in KwaZulu-Natal up and until his death.
2002 US journalist Daniel Pearl is kidnapped in Karachi, Pakistan and murdered.
2016 8 Egyptian Museum workers, in Cairo, are referred for prosecution for reattaching Tutankhamun’s beard with the wrong glue.
2018 Twelve camels are disqualified from Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz Camel beauty contest after their owners used botox on their lips. It’s an ongoing problem.
2020 The journal Scientific Reports describes how the voice of an Egyptian priest, who lived 3 000 years ago, has been recreated by scientists who 3D-printed his vocal tract.
2023 Japan is on the brink of not being able to function as a society, because of its falling birth rate and high life expectancy, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida tells the Japanese parliament.