Real people, real stories – more than just dates and boring facts
1671 Swashbuckling Welsh buccaneer Henry Morgan captures Panama City from Spain.
1644 Perplexed Pilgrims in Boston report America’s first UFO sighting.
1677 Jan van Riebeeck, 57, the first Dutch governor of the Cape Colony, dies in Batavia.
1778 Captain James Cook stumbles across the Sandwich Islands (later called the Hawaiian Islands).
1788 The first ships carrying 736 convicts drop anchor in Botany Bay, Australia.
1900 Two Black cattle-herders are captured and executed at Mafeking by burghers, in accordance with a council of war decision on cattle-rustlers. ZAR President Paul Kruger repudiates the decision and orders that the practice stop.
1943 The Soviets say they have broken the long siege by Nazi Germany of Leningrad by opening a narrow land corridor, although the 900-day siege would not be fully lifted until a year later. The German and Finish assault – aided by Spanish volunteers and naval support from Italy – on Leningrad claimed the lives of 800 000 of the city's inhabitants, mainly through cold and hunger. In all, more than 2.2 million people on both sides died, making this the bloodies battle in history. Despite the extreme hardships, the Russian authorities tried to maintain the appearance of normal life for the sake of morale: libraries remained open, plays were performed and concerts were held. Dmitri Shostakovich’s 7th Symphony, completed in Kuybyshev in March 1942, was played by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra in August that year.
1976 Lebanese Christian militias kill at least 1 000 people in Karantina, Beirut.
1991 Boris Becker and Italy’s Omar Camporese play the then longest tennis match in Australian Open history. Becker wins.
2005 The Airbus A380, the world’s largest commercial jet, is unveiled.
2006 Entrepreneur, businessman and conservationist Anton Rupert, voted 28th in a list of the top 100 greatest South Africans in 2004, dies peacefully in his sleep in Stellenbosch. In tribute to him, former President Nelson Mandela called him his friend and described him as ‘a giant of a man …famous for his approach of helping others to help themselves rather than fostering dependency’, while then President Thabo Mbeki said: ‘Dr Rupert played a pivotal role in the development of South Africa’s industrial and commercial sectors. Not only did he distinguish himself in the Afrikaner community, but also played a significant role in supporting and initiating significant transformation of South Africa’s business.’
2015 AB de Villiers makes the fastest century in ODI cricket history. The South African skipper scores 149 off 31 ball against the West Indies in Johannesburg.
2018 Brazilian Maya Gabeira surfs the largest wave ridden by a female surfer at 20.72m (68 ft) at Nazaré, Portugal.
2018 The first drone rescue of swimmers by lifeguards in New South Wales, Australia, takes place.
2022 Microsoft says it is buying Activision Blizzard, publisher of the online games, Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush for $70 billion – the biggest-ever gaming and tech takeover.
2023 A series of atmospheric river storms pummelling California finally subside, after more than 500 mudslides with "extensive" damage to 40 out of 58 counties, killing 20 people.