On this day in history, October 21

Oscar Pistorius – just when he thought it could not get any worse. Picture: EPA

Oscar Pistorius – just when he thought it could not get any worse. Picture: EPA

Published Oct 21, 2023


Some of the more interesting things that happened on this day.

335 Roman Emperor Constantine the Great rules that Jews are not allowed to buy and circumcise Christian slaves.

1805 The Battle of Trafalgar takes place between the Royal Navy and the combined French and Spanish fleets. The British end the threat of Napoleon’s invasion of England, but the victory is bitter sweet as their leader and naval hero, Admiral Horatio Nelson, is mortally wounded aboard his flagship, Victory.

1833 Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite and after whom the Nobel prize is named, is born.

1867 The Medicine Lodge Treaty is signed by southern Great Plains Indian leaders, requiring Native American Plains tribes to relocate to a reservation in western Oklahoma.

1879 Thomas Edison applies for a patent for an incandescent light bulb.

1913 Transvaal women satyagrahis begin defiance activities, hawking without licenses in Vereeniging; they cross the Natal border and encourage the miners in Newcastle to strike.

1914 Germany loses the Battle of Warsaw, Poland, ends with German defeat.

1948 The UN rejects a Russian proposal to destroy atomic weapons. The Soviets had earlier rejected a US plan and suggested a counter-proposal on the grounds that the UN was dominated by the US and its allies in Western Europe, and could, therefore, not be trusted to exercise authority over atomic weaponry in an even-handed manner.

1966 A mine dump collapses on the village of Aberfan, Wales, burying a school and killing 144 people, mostly schoolchildren.

1971 A gas explosion kills 22 people at a shopping centre near Glasgow, Scotland.

1978 Australian civilian pilot Frederick Valentich vanishes in a Cessna 182 over the Bass Strait, south of Melbourne, after reporting contact with an unidentified aircraft.

1983 The metre is given as the distance light travels in a vacuum in under a second.

1989 Four days after a powerful earthquake strikes California, Buck Helm is found alive among the rubble in San Francisco.

2014 Sporting hero Oscar Pistorius is jailed for five years for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. The sentence is later lengthened.

2019 It is announced that the world’s oldest natural pearl, 8 000 years old, has been found during excavations at Marawah Island, near Abu Dhabi, in the UAE.

2019 Australia’s biggest newspapers blank out their front pages to protest press restrictions.

2020 Pope Francis backs same-sex civil unions in an interview in the documentary film, Francesco.

2020 The parents of 545 children, who were separated from their families at the US-Mexico border, cannot be found, says American Civil Liberties Union. By 2023, the government has lost track of 85 000 migrant children, some of whom may have been forced into labour in the US. Even more telling, the Department of Justice says 460 000 children go missing from the ‘Land of Opportunity’ each year.

2021 Actor Alec Baldwin shots and kills cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, and injures director Joel Souza with a prop gun in rehearsal on a film set at Bonanza Ranch in the US state of New Mexico.