30th January: This Day In History

It’s the 30th January.  It is a date that always strikes me as one which attracts “events”.  The history books seem to have more than their fair share of this date, and I have often wondered why.  Perhaps it is just that certain events of which I am aware have occurred on this date, and therefore I link them in my mind creating an illusion of connection, or perhaps it is just coincidence.


There are some events that have occurred on this day over the years that may be seen in a negative light.  Famously, on this day in 1649, the King of England, Charles I, was executed, and heralded the start of the short-lived English Commonwealth.  Twelve years later, Oliver Cromwell was executed on this day.  This was less of an issue for him, as he had actually been dead for two years at the time, but his body was exhumed and ritually executed for good measure.


In 1835, the US suffered it’s first attempted assassination of its head of state.  An attempt was made on the life of President Andrew Jackson, but the gunman, Richard Lawrence, was overwhelmed. In 1889, Archduke Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria was found dead with his mistress, in an apparent suicide.


Move forward to 1933, and we see Adolf Hitler being sworn in as Chancellor of Germany, and in 1943, The USS Chicago is sunk. In 1945, the Wilhelm Gustloff, overloaded with refugees, is torpedoed in the Baltic, killing an incredible 9400 people.  This is the worst known maritime disaster for loss of life.


In 1948, Ghandi was assassinated, and in 1956, Martin Luther King Jr’s house was bombed.  In 1959, the “unsinkable” MS Hans Hedtoft sinks, with a loss of all 95 onboard.  In 1964, there is a coup in South Vietnam, in 1965 Britain’s wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill was buried, and in 1972 is one of the incidents that has become known around the world as “Bloody Sunday”, this the one in Northern Ireland.  In 1979, a Varig airliner went missing over the pacific, and in 2000, Kenya Airways flight 431 crashes into the Atlantic, with the loss of 169 people.  The American embassy in Kabul closed on this day in 1989, and even the Beatles had bad news on this day, with their last public performance on the roof of Apple Records on London on 30th January 1969.


This day has also seen the passing of John Barry, Jeremy Beadle, and Gerald Durrell.


It has not, though, all been bad news.  There have been equally a number of good incidents on the 30th January, often linked to either peace or innovation.


In 1018, it saw the Peace of Bautzen, and in 1648, The Treaty of Münster and Osnabrück is signed ending the Eighty Years War.


In 1790, the first purpose built lifeboat was trialled on the river Tyne, and in 1806, the original Lower Trenton Bridge between Pennsylvania and New Jersey opened, as did the Menai Suspension Bridge 20 years later. In 1820, Edward Bransfield spotted the Trinity Peninsula, and claimed the discovery of Antarctica. The town of Yerba Buena became San Francisco.  In 1858, the first Halle concert in Manchester took place, marking the founding of the Halle Orchestra.  In 1862, the first US Ironclad, the USS Monitor, was launched.


In 1911, The USS Terry made the first airplane rescue at sea, near Havana.


It even saw the birth of such luminaries as Percy Thrower, Gene Hackman, Boris Spassky, Christian Bale, Dimitar Berbatov, Peter Crouch, and even Phil Collins.


However, I always remember a conversation that I had nearly twenty years ago with a friend called Georgina.  She mentioned that her birthday was on the 30th January, and I pointed out some (or, perhaps most) of the less auspicious things that had happened on this day over the years.  When I first wrote this, I had not seen Georgina for seventeen years, but we did meet up in 2013 in Sydney, and it was great to catch up after all that time.  However, on the morning that I was initially writing this, I was driving to the station, and was prompted by the radio that it was, in fact, the 30th January, my mind scanned through the various world events of this day in history, and settled on thinking, “Happy Birthday, Georgina”.