On This Day … 31 October


  • 683 – During the Siege of Mecca, the Kaaba catches fire and is burned down.
  • 802 – Empress Irene is deposed and banished to Lesbos. Conspirators place Nikephoros, the minister of finance, on the Byzantine throne.
  • 932 – Abbasid caliph al-Muqtadir is killed while fighting against the forces of general Mu’nis al-Muzaffar.
    • Al-Muqtadir’s brother al-Qahir is chosen to succeed him.
  • 1822 – Emperor Agustín de Iturbide attempts to dissolve the Congress of the Mexican Empire.
  • 1863 – The New Zealand Wars resume as British forces in New Zealand led by General Duncan Cameron begin their Invasion of the Waikato.
  • 1917 – World War I: Battle of Beersheba: The “last successful cavalry charge in history”.
  • 1918 – World War I: The Aster Revolution terminates the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, and Hungary achieves full sovereignty.
  • 1922 – Benito Mussolini is made Prime Minister of Italy
  • 1940 – World War II: The Battle of Britain ends: The United Kingdom prevents a possible German invasion.
  • 1941 – World War II: The destroyer USS Reuben James is torpedoed by a German U-boat near Iceland, killing more than 100 US Navy sailors.
    • It is the first U.S. Navy vessel sunk by enemy action in WWII.
  • 1943 – World War II: An F4U Corsair accomplishes the first successful radar-guided interception by a United States Navy or Marine Corps aircraft.
  • 1956 – Suez Crisis: The United Kingdom and France begin bombing Egypt to force the reopening of the Suez Canal.
  • 1956 – Hungarian Revolution of 1956: A Revolutionary Headquarters is established in Hungary.
    • Following Imre Nagy’s announcement of October 30, banned non-Communist political parties are reformed, and the MDP is replaced by the MSZMP.
    • József Mindszenty is released from prison. The Soviet Politburo makes the decision to crush the Revolution.
  • 1968 – Vietnam War October surprise: Citing progress with the Paris peace talks, US President Lyndon B. Johnson announces to the nation that he has ordered a complete cessation of “all air, naval, and artillery bombardment of North Vietnam” effective 01 November.
  • 1973 – Mountjoy Prison helicopter escape. Three Provisional Irish Republican Army members escape from Mountjoy Prison, Dublin aboard a hijacked helicopter that landed in the exercise yard.
  • 1998 – Iraq disarmament crisis begins: Iraq announces it would no longer cooperate with United Nations weapons inspectors.
  • 2011 – The global population of humans reaches seven billion.
    • This day is now recognised by the United Nations as the Day of Seven Billion.
  • Girl Scouts Founders Day (United States).

People (Births)

  • 1835 – Adelbert Ames, American general and politician, 27th Governor of Mississippi (d. 1933).
  • 1848 – Boston Custer, American soldier (d. 1876).
  • 1860 – Juliette Gordon Low, American scout leader, founded the Girl Scouts of the United States of America (d. 1927).
  • 1875 – Vallabhbhai Patel, Indian lawyer, freedom fighter and politician, 1st Deputy Prime Minister of India (d. 1950).
  • 1881 – Toshizō Nishio, Japanese general (d. 1960).
  • 1887 – Chiang Kai-shek, Chinese general and politician, 1st President of the Republic of China (Taiwan) (d. 1975).
  • 1895 – B. H. Liddell Hart, English soldier, historian, and theorist (d. 1970).
  • 1917 – Gordon Steege, Australian soldier and pilot (d. 2013).
  • 1925 – Robert B. Rheault, American colonel (d. 2013).
  • 1930 – Michael Collins, American general, pilot, and astronaut.
  • 1950 – Antonio Taguba, Filipino-American general.

People (Deaths)

  • 1641 – Cornelis Jol, Dutch admiral (b. 1597).
  • 1860 – Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, Scottish-English admiral and politician (b. 1775).
  • 1879 – Joseph Hooker, American general (b. 1814).
  • 1913 – William Evans-Gordon, English soldier and politician (b. 1857).
  • 1916 – Huang Xing, Chinese revolutionary leader and statesman (b. 1874).
  • 1925 – Mikhail Frunze, Bolshevik leader during and just prior to the Russian Revolution of 1917 (b. 1885).
  • 2006 – P. W. Botha, South African soldier and politician, State President of South Africa (b. 1916).
  • 2012 – John H. Reed, American soldier and politician, 67th Governor of Maine (b. 1921).
  • 2014 – David Manker Abshire, American commander and diplomat, United States Permanent Representative to NATO (b. 1926).

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