It happened today – this day in history – July 31

54BC: Aurelia Cotta, mother of Julius Caesar, dies at 66.

30BC: Marc Antony achieves a minor victory over Octavian at the Battle of Alexandria, but most of his army subsequently deserts, leading to Octavian’s invasion of Egypt.

1423: The French army is defeated by the English on the banks of the river Yonne in Burgundy at the Battle of Cravant during the Hundred Years War.

1498: Christopher Columbus discovers the island of Trinidad.

1620: Pilgrim Fathers depart Leiden, Netherlands for England on their way to America.

1658: Aurangzeb appoints himself Mongol emperor.

1703: Author Daniel Defoe is placed in a pillory for the crime of seditious libel after publishing a politically satirical pamphlet, but is pelted with flowers.

1737: Prince Frederick of Wales escapes English court.

1786: “Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish dialect” by Robert Burns is published.

1856: Christchurch, New Zealand, is chartered as a city.

1875: Former US President Andrew Johnson dies from a stroke aged 66.

1886: Death of Hungarian composer Franz Listz aged 74.

1912: The US government prohibits films and photos of prize fights.

1914: Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany threatens war unless Russia demobilises.

1917: The Battle of Passchendaele begins

1919: The Weimar Constitution establishing the German Republic is adopted.

1922: General strike in Italy against fascist violence.

1925: The Unemployment Insurance Act is passed in Britain.

1932: André Leducq of France wins the Tour de France.

1940: Whitey Krakow, American gangster and hitman (Murder Inc), is murdered by “Bugsy” Siegel.

1945: Pierre Laval, fugitive former leader of Vichy France, surrenders to Allied soldiers in Austria.

1948: American sprinter Harrison Dillard runs an Olympic record 10.3s to win the 100m gold medal at the London Olympics.

1954: First ascent of K2, by an Italian expedition led by Ardito Desio.

1955: A riot breaks out after an Elvis Presley show at Fort Homer Hesterly Armory in Tampa, Florida, when he announces from the stage to a crowd of 14,000: “Girls, I’ll see you backstage.”

1958: Anti-Chinese uprising in Tibet.

1962: Former fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley is assaulted at a rally in London’s east end.

1964: Country singer Jim Reeves is killed in a plane crash.

1965: Cigarette advertising is banned on British TV.

1967: An appeal court in London gives Mick Jagger a conditional discharge and quashes Keith Richard’s conviction for permitting his Redlands home to be used for the purpose of smoking cannabis resin.

1968: Working with the 8-track facilities at Trident studios in London as Abbey Road still only had 4-track machines, The Beatles record four takes of Hey Jude.

1969: Elvis Presley performs his first live show since 1961 at the beginning of a four week run at the Las Vegas International Hotel. On the same day, Mariner 6 makes its closest approach to Mars and the National Guard mobilizes as racial disturbances break out in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.


1970: The last day of the officially sanctioned rum ration in the Royal Navy after 230 years. On the same day, a Catholic civilian is shot dead by the British Army during a riot in the New Lodge Road area of Belfast.

1971: A security guard is stabbed to death during a concert by The Who at Forest Hill Stadium, New York. On the same day, Apollo 15 astronauts David Scott and James Irwin take a 6½ hour ride on the Moon in the new lunar rover.

1972: The British Army use 12,000 soldiers supported by tanks and bulldozers to re-take the no-go areas controlled by the Provisional IRA. On the same day, nine civilians are killed when three car bombs explode in Claudy, Co Londonderry.

1973: Loyalists disrupt the new Northern Ireland parliament, the first elected body since direct rule was imposed by the British government four months earlier. On the same day, a Delta Airlines DC-9 crashes in fog at Logan Airport, Boston, killing all but one of 89 aboard. The lone survivor dies five months later.

1975: The UVF shoot dead three members of an Irish showband at Buskhill, County Down.

1980: During an Eagles concert at Long Beach, California, tempers finally boil over between Glen Frey and Don Felder, who spend the entire show bickering. “Only three more songs until I kick your ass, pal,” Frey could be heard telling the guitarist.

1984: The US men’s gymnastics team score an emotional upset win over world champion Chinese team in the combined event to take the gold medal at the Los Angeles Olympics.

1987: Attorney General Sir Patrick Mayhew launches legal proceedings against the Sunday Telegraph after it published three articles repeating details from the banned book “Spycatcher” by former assistant director of MI5, Peter Wright.

1988: Singles chart:

  1. The Only Way Is Up – Yazz and the Plastic Population
  2. The Loco-motion – Kylie Minogue
  3. Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You – Glenn Medeiros
  4. You Came – Kim Wilde
  5. Push It – Salt n Pepa
  6. Superfly Guy – S Express
  7. I Need You – B.V.S.M.P
  8. I Don’t Want To Talk About It – Everything But The Girl
  9. I Want Your Love – Transvision Vamp
  10. Dirty Diana – Michael Jackson
1988: Michael Jackson – Bad

Album chart:

  1. Now That’s What I Call Music! 12 – Various Artists
  2. Hits 8 – Various Artists
  3. Tracy Chapman – Tracy Chapman
  4. Bad – Michael Jackson
  5. Kylie – Kylie Minogue
  6. Idol Songs: 11 Of The Best – Billy Idol
  7. Push – Bros
  8. Dirty Dancing – Original Soundtrack
  9. The First Of A Million Kisses – Fairground Attraction
  10. Tango In The Night – Fleetwood Mac

1990: Bosnia-Herzegovina declares independence.

1991: US President George Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev sign the Start Treaty to reduce stockpiles of nuclear warheads by about a third.

1993: Inkatha forces kill 49 ANC followers in Johannesburg.

1994: Singers Aaliyah and R. Kelly are secretly married at the Sheraton Gateway Suites, in Rosemont, Illinois. The marriage is later annulled as Aaliyah was only 15 years old. On the same day, Russian pole vaulter Sergei Bubka breaks his 35th world record (6.14m).

1998: The Government announces a total ban on landmines.

1999: NASA intentionally crashes the Lunar Prospector into the Moon, ending its mission to detect frozen water on the moon’s surface.

2001: John Walters, producer of BBC Radio 1’s John Peel Show, dies aged 63.

2006: Fidel Castro temporarily hands over power to brother Raul.

2007: The presence of the British Army in Northern Ireland, and longest-running British Army operation ever, comes to an end.

2009: Former England manager Sir Bobby Robson dies after a long battle with cancer.

2012: A second power grid failure in India in two days leaves 670 million people without power. On the same day, the Queen’s granddaughter, Zara Phillips wins a silver medal as part of the GB Olympic Equestrian team and Michael Phelps becomes the greatest medal winner in Olympic history as part of the winning American 4 x 200m freestyle relay team. Also, author Gore Vidal dies of pneumonia aged 86.

2014: Meceo McEaddy is sentenced to between five and 10 years in prison for stealing millions of dollars from concert promoters by posing as a booking agent for Lady Gaga, Rihanna and others.

2015: Morrissey claims he was sexually assaulted by a security officer at San Francisco International Airport, who he said “groped” him. An official spokesman for the Transport Security Administration (TSA) said security camera footage confirmed that nothing out of the ordinary had occurred.

2017: Anthony Scaramucci is removed as White House communications director after less than two weeks. On the same day, legendary French actress, Jeanne Moreau, dies aged 89.

2018: Facebook discloses and removes a Russian-linked network of sites attempting to interfere in American politics.

2019: Russian President Vladimir Putin orders the Russian army to help put out huge wildfires in Siberia covering three million hectares (7.4 million acres) after 700,000 people sign petition. On the same day, US officials announce Osama bin Laden’s son and potential successor Hamza has been killed in US air strikes in Pakistan.

2020: Film director Alan Parker dies aged 76.

2021: Legendary Leeds United left back Terry Cooper dies aged 77.

2022: Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, who helped plan the 9/11 attacks, is killed in a CIA drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan. On the same day, England woman’s football team The Lionesses, beat Germany 2-1 in extra time at Wembley to win the European Championhsips.

Emilia Fox

BIRTHDAYS: Lynne Reid Banks, author, 93; Geraldine Chaplin, actress, 79; Allan Clarke, footballer, 77; Susan Wooldridge, actress, 73; Evonne Goolagong Cawley, tennis champion, 72; Michael Biehn, actor, 67; Daniel Ash, guitarist/songwriter (Bauhaus) 66; Bill Berry, drummer/songwriter (R.E.M) 65; Sue Jenkins, actress, 65; Andrew Marr, journalist, 64; Kim Newman, journalist, 64; Pete Tong, DJ, 63; Wesley Snipes, actor, 61; Fatboy Slim (Norman Cook), DJ/Musician, 60; Jim Corr, musician (The Corrs) 59; J K (Joanne) Rowling, writer, 58; Dean Cain, actor, 57; Antonio, Conte, football manager, 54; Michael Eklund, actor, 51; Terri (Teresa) Dwyer, actress/TV presenter, 50; Emilia Fox, actress, 49; Paulo Wanchope, footballer, 47; Will Champion, drummer (Coldplay) 45; Titus Bramble, footballer, 42; Rico Rodriguez, actor, 25.