On this day in history, October 23

‘A man South Africa can well be proud of and a credit to his country’.

‘A man South Africa can well be proud of and a credit to his country’.

Published Oct 23, 2023


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

1838 The Voortrekkers decide to call the first planned town in Natal, Pietermaritzburg, in honour of Piet Retief and Gerrit Maritz.

1911 First use of aircraft in war.

1942 The decisive second Battle of El Alamein (in the Western Desert), in which many South Africans take part, begins. It is then that the highest decoration awarded to a Black South African soldier in the Second World War, the DCM (Distinguished Conduct Medal, second only to the Victoria Cross) is awarded to Lucas Majozi (1916-1969). Because he was black, Majozi was not allowed to bear arms, but volunteered to become a medic working as a stretcher bearer and during the battle repeatedly went into the thick of things without regard for his own safety to rescue others. At a parade afterward, the commander of the 1st South African Division, Major-General Dan Pienaar, said: ‘This soldier did most magnificent and brave things. With a number of bullets in his body he returned time after time into a veritable hell of machine gun fire to pull out wounded men. He is a man of whom South Africa can well be proud of. He is a credit to his country.’

1944 The largest naval battle in history, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, begins.

1964 Dutchman Anton Geesink stuns the Japanese hosts and wins the Open gold medal in the first Olympic judo competition, preventing a clean sweep by Japan.

1983 A truck bomb in Beirut kills 241 US Marines. A French army barracks in Lebanon is also bombed, killing 58 troops.

2015 Adele releases her single, Hello , which becomes the first song to be downloaded more than a million times within its first week.

2018 The world’s longest sea-crossing bridge, the Hong Kong Macau Zhuhai bridge at 55km, is opened by Chinese President Xi Jinping

2018 The world’s oldest known intact shipwreck, an ancient Greek vessel 2 400 years old, is found at the bottom of the Black Sea by archaeologists.

2018 Microplastics are found in human stools for the first time by Austrian scientists.

2019 Google research lab claims it has achieved Quantum Supremacy, performing calculation in 3 minutes that would take a supercomputer 10 000 years.

2019 A lorry containing 39 bodies of Vietnamese nationals is found in Essex, England, and a man arrested for people smuggling and murder.

2022 Xi Jinping secures a record third term as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party with a new seven-member Politburo Standing Committee, at the 20th National Party Congress in Beijing.