31 May 2008

This day in history: 31 May

1862: Confederate forces under Joseph E Johnston and G W Smith engaged Union forces under George B McClellan outside Richmond, Virginia, in the tactically inconclusive Battle of Seven Pines.

1864: The Battle of Cold Harbor began when the Army of Northern Virginia (Robert E Lee) engaged the Army of the Potomac (Ulysses S Grant) east of Richmond. The battle ended on 12 June in a Confederate victory.

1889: Over 2200 people died after the South Fork Dam, on the Little Conemaugh River, failed, sending a 60-foot (18m) wall of water through the town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

1911: RMS Titanic, built by Harland & Wolff Ltd in Belfast, Northern Ireland, was launched - less than a year before she sank in the early hours of 15 April 1912.

1916: The British Grand Fleet, under Admiral Sir John Jellicoe KCB KCVO and Vice Admiral Sir David Beatty GCB KCVO DSO, engaged the German High Seas Fleet, under Vice Admiral Reinhardt Scheer and Franz von Hipper, off the west coast of Denmark. The Battle of Jutland, the largest naval battle of the First World War, proved indecisive, though the British lost three battlecruisers, three armoured cruisers and eight destroyers, and the Germans lost one pre-dreadnought, one battlecruiser, four light cruisers and five torpedo boats. Four British sailors - Commander The Hon Edward Barry Stewart Bingham (HMS Nestor), Boy Seaman John Travers Cornwell (HMS Chester), Major Francis John William Harvey, RMLI, (HMS Lion) and Commander Loftus William Jones (HMS Shark) - were awarded the Victoria Cross.

1942: Three Japanese midget submarines entered the harbour of Sydney, Australia, in an attempt to sink Allied ships. Shortly after midnight, one boat fired a torpedo at USS Chicago (CA 29), but missed, the torpedo sinking HMAS Kuttabul instead. All three submarines were lost.

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) and Dr Elizabeth Blackwell (1821–1910), died on this date.

And happy birthday to Walt Whitman (1819–1892), Don Ameche (1908–1993), Denholm Elliott CBE (1922–1992), Clint Eastwood (1930-TBD), Johnny Paycheck (1938–2003) and Peter Yarrow (1938-TBD).

No comments: