On this day: the Black Tom explosion

Aftermath of the Black Tom explosion, an act of sabotage on American ammunition supplies by German agents which took place on July 30, 1916 in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Black Tom pier photographed on the 31st of July, 1916, a day and a half after the explosion.

On the 30th of July, 1916, German agents blew up a pier in New Jersey, USA in an attempt to sabotage American-made munitions intended for World War One.

The worst of the explosions took place at 2:08am, by which point some guards had fled at the sight of fire, knowing what was to come.

The explosion was so great some of the fragments became lodged in the Statue of Liberty, and a clock was stopped over a mile away. The time was frozen at 2:12am.

Map of Jersey City, NJ circa 1905 showing location of Black Tom.

It is estimated that seven people were killed. Hundreds were injured, and the explosion was felt as far away as Philadelphia and Maryland.

It was later revealed that a Slovak immigrant, who had earlier served in the US Army, was responsible for the explosions, and that two guards at the site were German agents.

On this day: Mary, Queen of Scots married.

Mary, Queen of Scots married her second husband, Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley at Holyrood Abbey on the 29th of July 1565. The marriage was not a happy one, and Darnley was murdered in February 1567. He was twenty-one when he died.

Mary, Queen of Scots, and her second husband Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, parents of King James VI of Scotland, later King James I of England.

On this day: the opening of the 1948 London Olympics

The XIV Olympic Games opens in London, 29th July 1948. 772px-The_XIV_Olympic_Games_opens_in_London,_1948

After twelve years and the interruption of the Second World War, the Olympic Games were restored when they were opened in London on the 29th of July, 1948. Some 85 000 people packed Wembley Stadium on a brilliantly sunny day, and a speech was made*:

Your Majesty: The hour has struck. A visionary dream has today become a glorious reality. At the end of the worldwide struggle in 1945, many institutions and associations were found to have withered and only the strongest had survived. How, many wondered, had the great Olympic Movement prospered?

Central Office of Information's copy of the official poster advertising the 1948 London Olympics.

While fifty-nine countries sent competitors, Germany and Japan were not allowed to participate, and German forced labour was used to construct some of the facilities.

The Soviet Union chose not to send any representatives.

On this day: The premiere of Wagner’s Parsifal in 1882

 Bayreuth Festspielhaus, as seen in 1882

Bayreuth Festspielhaus photographed in 1882.

Richard Wagner’s last completed opera Parsifal had its premiere in Bayreuth, Germany on the 26th of July 1882.

Poster for the premiere production of Parsifal - 1882360px-Parsifal-affisch

Advertising for the first performances.

A tradition has arisen that the audience does not applaud after the first act, in order to maintain the mood of the story.

In an attempt to preserve the integrity of the production Wagner only allowed the opera to be performed at the Bayreuth Festival. However this began to change after his death the following year. By 1884 some theatres in other countries were staging the opera.

On this day: the SS Andrea Doria collided with the MS Stockholm in 1956

The SS Andrea Doria sinking after being struck by the SS Stockholm in 1956. Half of the ship's lifeboats are still onboard, a result of the severe list that developed after the ship was struck.Andrea_Doria_USCG_1

The Andrea Doria shortly before sinking.

On the 25th of July, 1956, the Italian ocean liner SS Andrea Doria collided with the MS Stockholm in heavy fog, just south of Nantucket Island. The accident killed fifty-one. Though the bigger of the two, the Andrea Doria would go on to capsize and sink, while the heavily damaged Stockholm managed to sail to New York.

Andrea Doria July 26, 1956. Taken from the Navy transport William H. Thomas.

The Andrea Doria the dawn after the collision.

The ''MS Stockholm'' following the collision with the SS ''Andrea Doria'' in 1956.

The Stockholm damaged after the crash.

On this day: Fascist Italy Banned Foreign Words

Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini with Adolf Hitler Hitlermusso2_edit

Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini with Adolf Hitler

On the 23rd of July, 1929, Italy’s Fascist government banned foreign words.

This was part of a larger act of the “Italianisation” of minorities in Italy and surrounding territories, as well as the annexation of nearby countries.

Naturally, this policy included banning the teaching of minority languages, even for people who were not ethnic Italians.

On this day: Paris’ first Métro line opened in 1900

A train at Bastille station in 1908Sprague_Bastille_1908

A train at Bastille station in 1908.

On the 19th of July, 1900, Paris Métro Line 1 was opened to connect people travelling around the World Fair. Eight of the planned eighteen stations were initially opened.


Under construction, early 20th century.

The decision to begin the construction of the train line was made in November 1898, after decades of discussion.

On this day: the Duigan biplane in 1910

John R. Duigan at the controls of his first powered aircraft

On the 16th of July, 1910 John Robertson Duigan completed the first flight of the Duigan pusher biplane, the first aircraft designed and built in Australia.

Duigan pusher biplane

The first flight travelled only seven metres, but within two months they’d extended the journey to ninety metres.

Within a year, they were able to travel a kilometre at an altitude of thirty metres.

In 1970, brothers John and Reginald Duigan were honoured on a postage stamp issued by Australia Post

The brothers honoured on a 1970 postage stamp.

The Duigan brothers, John and Reginald built the aircraft almost entirely by themselves.