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Here you’ll find interesting bits of history from all periods and countries that occurred on a particular day.

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Today 2,345 years ago the Battle of Gaugamela took place.


On the 1st of October 331bce, Alexander the Greats army versed Darius III Persian army on the plains of modern day Iraq.
According the Graeco-Roman historian Arrian, Darius III had 40,000 cavalry, 1,000,000 infantry and 200 scythe-bearing chariots. However the logistics of this make it unlikely that any army in antiquity could have commanded more than 50,000.
Alexander had at his command seasoned warriors inherited from his father Philip II amounting to 40,000 infantry, 7,000 cavalry with the elite force that Alexander led personally, the Companions.
Alexander the Great, King of Macedon had already inflicted two defeats upon the Persian King, but on both these occasions it was said that the battle ground had been chosen in favour of the Macedonians where Darius could not exercise his full military power. As such Alexander let Darius choose the battle ground for their third conflict, where the Persian King would have the advantage of using his scythed chariots which needed level ground to operate.
The night before the battle Alexanders generals tried to persuade their king to launch a night attack on the camping Persian army, but Alexander replied stating that he would not steal his victory like a thief in the night.

Having already scouted the battle grounds Alexander devised a plan to counteract Darius’ chariots. On the day he placed his forces slightly to the left of the Persian centre, and when he advanced he did so on the oblique moving further to the left. This caused Darius’ own strategy into disarray and he launched his chariots prematurely, depriving them of the cavalry cover they needed for protection.
(Pictured above. The mosaic from Pompeii, 1st century. Showing Alexander perusing a fleeing Darius.)

When the Persians made a break in the front line and in consequence the cavalry was launched in confusion to assist those surrounding the right wing, Alexander having previously drawn away part of the Persian cavalry in chase wheeled around towards the gap in the Persian front. Charging ahead with his Companions and the Phalanx that was stationed there, Alexander engaged in hand-to-hand combat and fought his way through towards Darius. There are two accounts of Darius reaction, one suggested by Arrian is that Darius fearing for his life fled, however Diodorus Siculus writes Darius as ‘raining javelins on his enemies’ and ‘as the two kings closed…a javelin hurled by Alexander missed Darius by impaled the chariot driver beside him’. Either way the outcome was that Darius did indeed flee the battle ground.
It is said that the casualties among the Macedonians reached 300, while the Persian casualties reached 35,000.
King Darius had lost the battle and more importantly lost his entire empire in that single day. Alexander thus won an empire stretching from Sahara to the Himalayas.
Alexander perused Darius afterwards, but the Persian King was assassinated by his own generals.

Watch this to see an accurate and brilliant recreation of the battle from the film ‘Alexander’.

2 weeks ago
208 notes

August 6th 1945: Hiroshima bombed

On this day in 1945, the first nuclear attack in history occurred when the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The American plane Enola Gay dropped the bomb called ‘Little Boy’, which killed around 70,000 people instantly. The effects of the radiation killed thousands more in later years, resulting in a catastrophic death toll of around 140,000 people. Three days later the ‘Fat Man’ bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, resulting in the loss of around 75,000 lives; in both cases, the majority of casualties were civilian. Whilst other Axis powers including Nazi Germany had already surrendered earlier that year, ending the war in the European theatre, Japan had continued to fight the Allied forces. The bombings were therefore deemed necessary by the United States to end the war and avoid a costly invasion of Japan. In the aftermath of the devastating attacks, Japan surrendered to the Allies on 15th August, thus ending the war in the Pacific theatre of World War Two. Today, 69 years on, the atomic-bomb scarred cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki provide a sharp reminder of the horrors of nuclear warfare.

"My God, what have we done?"
- Enola Gay’s co-pilot Robert Lewis upon seeing the impact

2 months ago
6,348 notes

July 3rd 1863: Battle of Gettysburg ends

On this day in 1863 during the American Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg ended. The battle was a key turning point in the war with its decisive Union victory under George Meade which turned the tide in the Union’s favour. The Confederacy, whose forces were led by Robert E. Lee, were defeated and thus Lee’s invasion of the North was ended. The last day of the battle also saw Pickett’s Charge, a Confederate cavalry charge which was repulsed by Union fire and thus led to many Confederate deaths. The battle was the bloodiest of the war, and President Lincoln famously honoured the fallen with his Gettysburg Address.

3 months ago
432 notes

June 28th 1914: Franz Ferdinand assassinated

On this day in 1914, 100 years ago, Archduke of Austria and heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were assassinated in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They were killed by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip who was driven to action by Austria’s annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908. An attempt to blow up the Archduke’s car failed earlier in the day and his assassins had given up until Princip saw his car later in the day and shot the two. His death triggered a chain of events which led to the First World War. Austria-Hungary, in retaliation, declared war on Serbia, which led to the Central Powers (including Germany) joining on Austria’s side, and the Allied powers like Britain and France joining on Serbia’s side. On this day 5 years later in 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was signed in Paris, thus officially ending the First World War. On the centenary of this momentous day, one which altered the course of world history, it is important to remember the sacrifices made by the over 16 million who died in the ensuing conflict. One hundred years on, it is not our place to glorify nor belittle what they died for, but to solemnly remember the devastating effect of war.

"Don’t die darling, live for our children"
- His dying words to his wife

3 months ago
3,014 notes

June 6th 1944: D-Day

On this day in 1944, the D-Day landings began on the beaches of Normandy as part of the Allied ‘Operation Overlord’. The largest amphibious military operation in history, the operation involved thousands of Allied troops landing in France. For those landing on the beaches of Normandy, they faced heavy fire, mines and other obstacles on the beach, but managed to push inland. In charge of the operation was future US President General Dwight Eisenhower and leading the ground forces was British General Bernard Montgomery. The landings proved a decisive Allied victory, as they secured a foothold in France which had been defeated by Nazi Germany in 1940. D-Day was a key moment in the Second World War and helped turn the tide of the war in favour of the Allies. 70 years on, we remember not just the strategic victory that was D-Day but also the ultimate sacrifice paid by thousands of soldiers on both sides of the fighting.

“You are about to embark upon the great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months.”
- Eisenhower’s message to the Allied Expeditionary Force

70 years ago today

4 months ago
16,961 notes

April 25th 1945: Elbe Day

On this day in 1945, during the Second World War, Soviet and American troops met at the River Elbe in Germany - the day is now known as Elbe Day. The event was a momentous show of unity of the Allied Powers as the war drew to a close while the Allies advanced towards Berlin. The first contact was between an American delegation led by First Lieutenant Albert Kotzebue of the 3rd Battalion, 273rd Infantry, 69th Infantry Division, who took his men across the river and were greeted by Russian Lt Col Alexander Gardiev, Commander of the 175th Rifle Regiment of the 58th Guards Division, 34th Corps. The two groups agreed on a formal handshake to be photographed the next day. Each side commended the other, with Moscow holding a gun salute and US General Omar Bradley praising the Soviet success in pushing the Germans back from Russia. A few days after the Elbe meeting, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler committed suicide and Germany soon surrendered - the war was finally over.

"We meet in true and victorious comradeship and with inflexible resolve to fulfil our purpose and our duty. Let all march forward upon the foe."
- British Prime Minister Winston Churchill

"This is not the hour of final victory in Europe, but the hour draws near, the hour for which all the American people, all the British people and all the Soviet people have toiled and prayed so long."
- US President Harry Truman

"Our task and our duty are to complete the destruction of the enemy to force him to lay down his arms and surrender unconditionally. The Red Army will fulfil to the end this task and this duty to our people and to all freedom-loving peoples."
- Soviet leader Joseph Stalin

5 months ago
253 notes

December 24th 1914: Christmas Truce

On this day in 1914, troops across the Western Front during the First World War laid down their arms. Soldiers from all sides participated in the widespread, unofficial ceasefires for the Christmas period. Troops, mostly German and British, exchanged Christmas greetings, songs and even gifts. Both sides also held joint burials where they mourned both their dead. They met in ‘no man’s land’, an area which was usually deadly. The truce began on this day in 1914 when German troops near Ypres decorated their trenches and sang carols, which led to responses from the British troops. As the war progressed, and the violence increased, suspicion grew between the two sides and superiors were stricter about ‘fraternisation with the enemy’ and so less truces were held. However, the truces of 1914 serve as a poignant example of humanity and peace in a horrific and violent situation.

9 months ago
1,747 notes

August 2nd 1990: Iraq invades Kuwait

On this day in 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait, and this act of aggression led to the First Gulf War/Operation Desert Storm. The war saw a UN coalition force made up of 34 countries including Kuwait, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Kingdom fight Iraq. Iraqi forces were led by the President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein. The war was a victory for the UN coalition, who succeeded in liberating Kuwait and lasted until 28th February 1991.

1 year ago
44 notes

August 27th 1896: Anglo-Zanzibar War

On this day in 1896, the shortest war in history was fought between the United Kingdom and the Zanzibar Sultanate. The war lasted only 40 minutes. The conflict was caused by the death of pro-British Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini the day before. The British wanted the successor to be another sultan who would support Britain. The new sultan Khalid bin Barghash refused to stand down and barricaded himself inside his palace. British forces bombarded the sultan’s palace between 09.02 and 09.40, when the attack and thus the war ended. The sultan’s forces suffered 500 casualties, whilst the British only had one soldier wounded. The British were then able to put their preferred sultan in power in Zanzibar.

1 month ago
108 notes

July 29th 1899: First Hague Convention signed

On this day in 1899, the First Hague Convention was signed at the international peace conference at The Hague in the Netherlands. Together with the Second Hague Convention in 1907, these two conventions make up the foundation of international laws regarding the conduct of war. The first conference was called at the suggestion of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, and the second by US President Theodore Roosevelt. Most of the provisions of the Hague Conventions were violated during the First World War.

2 months ago
166 notes

July 1st 1916: Battle of the Somme begins

On this day in 1916 during World War One, the Battle of the Somme began. On the first day alone there were 60,000 British casualties, and there were over a million from all sides by the end of the battle in November. It was one of the bloodiest campaigns of the war, and is remembered for its attritional nature and seemingly fruitless losses.

3 months ago
695 notes

June 22nd 1941: Operation Barbarossa begins

On this day in 1941 during the Second World War, the German invasion of Soviet Russia (codenamed Operation Barbarossa), began. Over three million German troops, armed with 3,000 tanks, 2,500 aircraft and 7,000 artillery pieces, crossed the border, making it the largest invasion in the history of warfare. The operation, pushed for by German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, was driven by the Nazi leader’s fears of the Soviets (with whom the Nazis had made a non-aggression pact in 1939) joining forces with Britain and her allies. The invasion and the tactic of blitzkrieg was initially successful, allowing the Germans to take hundreds of miles of land and decimate the Russian military forces. Russia was taken by surprise by the invasion and unprepared for war, with a vast but unorganised army and a lack of coherent leadership as Stalin had purged 2/3 of senior army officials during the 1930s. However the Soviets reorganised and the Germans began to lose, most famously at the Battle of Stalingrad where German soldiers froze in the sub-zero temperatures lacking winter clothing. Thus ultimately the Axis powers failed, and Allied victory was effectively secured. Barbarossa is remembered as a major turning point of the war but also as one of the largest military operations in history.

"When Barbarossa commences, the world will hold its breath and make no comment"
- Adolf Hitler

3 months ago
625 notes

April 26th 1937: Bombing of Guernica

On this day in 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, the Basque  town of Guernica was bombed by the German Luftwaffe. The attack was planned to fall on a market day, when they knew there would be a lot of people on the streets of Guernica. Guernica had little strategic value, but was a cultural centre of the Basque people who had been resisting Franco’s Nationalist forces. Over the course of three hours, over twenty five planes dropped one hundred thousand pounds of bombs, reducing the beautiful town to rubble. Those who tried to escape were shot down by the guns on the fighter planes. Final death tolls are unclear - most sources suggest around 1,500 were killed, however recent calculations have put the figure as under 400. The incident has become immortalised in the famous anti-war painting by Spaniard Pablo Picasso, which helped bring the atrocities of the civil war to international attention. The bombing served as a testing ground for Hitler’s military and the concept of ‘total war’, in which civilians are considered combatants and thus attacks on them are justified. The Guernica attack was indeed one of the first air raids and inaugurated the widespread use of aerial attacks in warfare. Just two years after the devastation of Guernica, World War Two broke out and the world experienced its first truly ‘total’ war.

"We were still a good ten miles away when I saw the reflection of Guernica’s flames in the sky. As we drew nearer, on both sides of the road, men, women and children were sitting, dazed. I saw a priest in one group. I stopped the car and went up to him. ‘What happened, Father?’ I asked. His face was blackened, his clothes in tatters. He couldn’t talk. He just pointed to the flames, still about four miles away, then whispered: Aviones…bombas’…mucho, mucho.’
- recollections of Noel Monks, the first journalist on the scene

5 months ago
1,397 notes

February 2nd 1943: Battle of Stalingrad ends

On this day in 1943, German troops surrendered to the Soviet Red Army in Stalingrad, thus ending the 5 months of fighting. The Battle of Stalingrad is among the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare, with nearly 2 million casualties. The Germans had attempted to invade Russia and capture Stalingrad, but the Russians fought back and cut off and surrounded the German army. The Russian winter soon set in, with sub-zero temperatures weakening the German forces. Eventually, the remaining army surrendered, and 91,000 were taken prisoner (including 22 generals). The German failure at Stalingrad was a key turning point in the Second World War, as the army never recovered from their defeat.

8 months ago
911 notes

August 27th 1896: Anglo-Zanzibar War

On this day in 1896, the shortest war in history was fought between the United Kingdom and the Zanzibar Sultanate. The war lasted only 40 minutes. The conflict was caused by the death of pro-British Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini the day before. The British wanted the successor to be another sultan who would support Britain. The new sultan Khalid bin Barghash refused to stand down and barricaded himself inside his palace. British forces bombarded the sultan’s palace between 09.02 and 09.40, when the attack and thus the war ended. The sultan’s forces suffered 500 casualties, whilst the British only had one soldier wounded. The British were then able to put their preferred sultan in power in Zanzibar.

1 year ago
62 notes