On this day in history, July 9

The African Union flag. Picture: Supplied

The African Union flag. Picture: Supplied

Published Jul 9, 2023


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

1401 Mongol warlord Tamerlane destroys Baghdad, killing 20 000 people and forming pyramids of burning heads around the city.

1877 First Wimbledon tennis championships.

1893 George Cato (79), Natal pioneer and first mayor of Durban, dies.

1893 Daniel Williams performs the US’s first open-heart surgery – but without anaesthesia.

1917 The British battleship HMS Vanguard explodes at Scapa Flow, killing 804 sailors.

1922 American Johnny Weissmuller swims the 100m freestyle in 58.6 seconds, breaking the world record and the ‘minute barrier’.

1943 The Allied invasion of Sicily begins, involving many thousands of South Africans, eventually leading to the downfall of Mussolini. The invasion forces Hitler to break off the Battle of Kursk with the Soviets.

1944 America takes Saipan island, bringing Japan within range of B-29 raids, and causing the downfall of the Tojo government.

1959 A RAF bomber sets a record of 11 hours, 27 minutes between London and Cape Town.

1982 Pan Am Flight 759 crashes in Kenner, Louisiana, killing all 153 people onboard.

1987 Sixty-one whites, mainly from the Afrikaans community, meet the ANC in Dakar, in search of an end to apartheid.

1991 Suspended since 1964, SA rejoins the International Olympic Committee.

1995 The Sri Lankan Air Force bombs a church, killing 125 Tamil civilian refugees.

1995 Ex-police commissioner Johan van der Merwe implicates Deputy President FW de Klerk in a ‘dirty tricks’ campaign against the ANC before the 1994 election.

2002 The AU, with Thabo Mbeki as its first chairman, is formed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

2006 An Airbus passenger jet veers off the runway at Irkutsk, Siberia, killing 125 people.

2017 Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says Islamic State forces in Mosul have lost.

2018 Four more boys are rescued from a cave in Thailand after being trapped for 17 days.

2021 Death Valley, California, swelters at 54.4°C, one of the Earth’s hottest days.

2022 Thousands of Sri Lankan protesters storm the Presidential Palace and set the prime minister’s house on fire in Colombo, leading to promises that both will resign amid continuing economic turmoil.