On this day in history, January 26

It’s Invasion Day Down Under

It’s Invasion Day Down Under

Published Jan 26, 2024


It’s Invasion Day Down Under

1531 Lisbon is hit by an earthquake, which leaves 30 000 people dead.

1788 Captain Arthur Phillip and British colonists hoist the Union Jack at Sydney Cove, New South Wales. The occasion is celebrated annually as Australia Day, while some First Nations people prefer to call it Invasion Day.

1856 The barque, Annabella runs aground on the Lee Bank, a sandbank at the entrance to the port of Durban. The bank, a tidal sandbar, formed by sand swept along by the littoral current that hugs the coast, is renamed the Annabella Bank. The ship’s captain becomes a prominent citizen of Durban and the first Commodore of the Royal Natal Yacht Club. It is after him that Wilson’s Wharf is named. An official inquiring in to the loss of the barque, unfairly costs Harbour Engineer John Milne his job. The Annabella Bank, on which 49 vessels floundered, still lies off the mouth of Durban Harbour, ever silting-up the entrance and requiring constant and laborious dredging.

1902 Boer General Ben Viljoen and seven men are ambushed and captured by the British. A pocket book in Viljoen’s breast pocket saves him from a bullet and almost certain death.

1972 A bomb destroys the plane stewardess Vesna Vulovic is in. She survives the 10 160m fall – the world’s highest without a parachute. She wakes up from a coma in hospital and immediately asks for a cigarette.

1998 US President Bill Clinton lies and says, “I want to say one thing to the American people; I did not have sexual relations with that woman (Monica Lewinsky).

2007 Globally acclaimed author, historian and raconteur par excellence, David Rattray is murdered at his Fugitive’s Drift home, near the battlefield of Isandlwana. The editor of the Sunday Times, Mondli Makhanya, observed that Isandlwana was “a favourite fireside story” among Zulus, told to youngsters for more than 120 years. He added: ‘To listen to David Rattray narrate the story of Isandlwana was akin to watching the best-scripted, best-directed and best-produced movie Hollywood’s finest studios could put out. It was goose-bump stuff.’ Rattray, who championed post-apartheid reconciliation and enthralled tourists and locals with his tales of the Zulu War, was shot three times while protecting his wife from intruders, who fled empty-handed.

2020 Basketball legend Kobe Bryant, considered one of the game’s greatest players, dies in a helicopter crash.

2023 Five ex-Memphis, Tennessee, police officers are charged with murdering Tyre Nichols, who they beat to death at a traffic stop on January 7.