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Jul 06 2011

On This Day In History July 6

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on images to enlarge.

July 6 is the 187th day of the year (188th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 178 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1917, Arabian troops led by T. E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) and Auda ibu Tayi capture Aqaba from the Ottoman Empire during the Arab Revolt.

Background

Lawrence, sent by General Archibald Murray, commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, to act as a military advisor to Emir Faisal I, convinced the latter to attack Aqaba. Aqaba was a Turkish-garrisoned port in Jordan, which would threaten British forces operating in Palestine; the Turks had also used it as a base during their 1915 attack on the Suez Canal. It was also suggested by Faisal that the port be taken as a means for the British to supply his Arab forces as they moved further north. Though he did not take part in the attack itself (his cousin Sherif Nasir rode along as the leader of his forces), Faisal lent forty of his men to Lawrence. Lawrence also met with Auda ibu Tayi, leader of the northern Howeitat tribe of Bedouin, who agreed to lend himself and a large number of his men to the expedition. Lawrence informed his British colleagues of the planned expedition, but they apparently did not take him seriously, expecting it to fail.

Aqaba was not in and of itself a major military obstacle; a small village at the time, it was not actually garrisoned by the Turks, though the Turks did keep a small, 400-man garrison at the mouth of the Wadi Itm to protect from landward attack via the Sinai Peninsula. The British Royal Navy occasionally shelled Aqaba, and in late 1916 had briefly landed a party of Marines ashore there, though a lack of harbor or landing beaches made an amphibious assault impractical. The main obstacle to a successful landward attack on the town was the large Nefud Desert, believed by many to be impassable.

Prelude

The expedition started moving towards Aqaba in May. Despite the heat of the desert, the seasoned Bedouins encountered few obstacles aside from occasional harassment from small bands of Arabs paid off by the Turks; they lost more men to attacks by snakes and scorpions than to enemy action. During the expedition, Auda and Lawrence’s forces also did severe damage to the Hejaz Railway.

Auda and his men reached the Wadi Sirhan region, occupied by the Rualla tribe. Auda paid 6,000 pounds in gold to their leader to allow his men to use Wadi Sirhan as a base.

Abu el Lissal and Aqaba

The actual battle for Aqaba occurred for the most part at a Turkish blockhouse at Abu el Lissal, about halfway between Aqaba and the town of Ma’an. A group of separate Arab rebels, acting in conjunction with the expedition, had seized the blockhouse a few days before, but a Turkish infantry battalion arrived on the scene and recaptured it. The Turks then attacked a small, nearby encampment of Arabs and killed several of them.

After hearing of this, Auda personally led an attack on the Turkish troops there, attacking at mid-day on July 6. The charge was a wild success. Turkish resistance was slight; the Arabs brutally massacred hundreds of Turks as revenge before their leaders could restrain them. In all, three hundred Turks were killed and another 150 taken prisoner, in exchange for the loss of two Arabs killed and a handful of wounded. Lawrence was nearly killed in the action; he accidentally shot the camel he was riding in the head with his pistol, but was fortunately thrown out of harm’s way when he fell. Auda was grazed numerous times, with his favorite pair of field glasses being destroyed, but was otherwise unharmed.

Meanwhile, a small group of British naval vessels appeared offshore of Aqaba itself and began shelling it. At this point, Lawrence, Auda, and Nasir had rallied their troops; their total force had been quadrupled to 2,000 men by a local Bedouin who, with the defeat of the Turks at Lissal, now openly joined Lawrence’s expedition. This force maneuvered themselves past the outer works of Aqaba’s defensive lines, approached the gates of Aqaba, and its garrison surrendered without further struggle.

 371 BC – The Battle of Leuctra, where Epaminondas defeats Cleombrotus I, takes place.

1189 – Richard I “the Lionheart” is crowned King of England.

1253 – Mindaugas is crowned King of Lithuania.

1348 – Papal bull of Pope Clement VI protecting the Jews accused to have caused the Black Death.

1415 – Jan Hus is burned at the stake.

1483 – Richard III is crowned King of England.

1495 – First Italian War: Battle of Fornovo – Charles VIII defeats the Holy League, but ultimately ends his attempted conquest of Italy.

1535 – Sir Thomas More is executed for treason against King Henry VIII of England.

1560 – The Treaty of Edinburgh is signed by Scotland and England.

1609 – Bohemia is granted freedom of religion.

1630 – Thirty-Years War: 4,000 Swedish troops under Gustavus Adolphus land in Pomerania, Germany.

1751 – Pope Benedict XIV suppresses the Patriarchate of Aquileia and establishes from its territory the Archdiocese of Udine and Gorizia.

1777 – American Revolutionary War: Siege of Fort Ticonderoga – After a bombardment by British artillery under General John Burgoyne, American forces retreat from Fort Ticonderoga, New York.

1779 – Battle of Grenada: French victory over British naval forces during the American Revolutionary War.

1785 – The dollar is unanimously chosen as the monetary unit for the United States.

1801 – Battle of Algeciras: the French navy are defeated by the Royal Navy.

1809 – The second day of the Battle of Wagram sees a French victory over the Austrian army in the largest battle yet of the Napoleonic Wars.

1854 – In Jackson, Michigan, the first convention of the United States Republican Party is held.

1885 – Louis Pasteur successfully tests his vaccine against rabies. The patient is Joseph Meister, a boy who was bitten by a rabid dog.

1887 – David Kalakaua, monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, is forced at gunpoint, at the hands of the Americans, to sign the Bayonet Constitution giving Americans more power in Hawaii while stripping Hawaiian citizens of their rights.

1892 – Dadabhai Naoroji is elected as the first Indian Member of Parliament in Britain.

1917 – World War I: Arabian troops led by T. E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) and Auda ibu Tayi capture Aqaba from the Ottoman Empire during the Arab Revolt.

1919 – The British dirigible R34 lands in New York, completing the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by an airship.

1933 – The first Major League Baseball All-Star Game is played in Chicago’s Comiskey Park. The American League defeats the National League 4-2.

1936 – A major breach of the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal in England sends millions of gallons of water cascading 200 feet (61 m) into the River Irwell.

1939 – Holocaust: the last remaining Jewish enterprises in Germany are closed.

1942 – Anne Frank and her family go into hiding in the “Secret Annexe” above her father’s office in an Amsterdam warehouse.

1944 – Jackie Robinson refuses to move to the back of a bus, leading to a court martial.

1944 – The Hartford Circus Fire, one of America’s worst fire disasters, kills approximately 168 people and injures over 700 in Hartford, Connecticut.

1947 – The AK-47 goes into production in the Soviet Union.

1957 – Althea Gibson wins the Wimbledon championships, becoming the first black athlete to do so.

1957 – John Lennon and Paul McCartney of the Beatles are introduced to each other when Lennon’s band the Quarrymen performs at the St. Peter’s Church Hall fête in Woolton.

1962 – As a part of Operation Plowshare, the Sedan nuclear test takes place.

1964 – Malawi declares its independence from the United Kingdom.

1966 – Malawi becomes a republic, with Hastings Banda as its first President.

1967 – Nigerian Civil War: Nigerian forces invade Biafra, beginning the war.

1975 – The Comoros declare independence from France.

1986 – Davis Phinney became the first American cyclist to win a road stage of the Tour de France.

1988 – The Piper Alpha drilling platform in the North Sea is destroyed by explosions and fires. 167 oil workers are killed, making it the world’s worst offshore oil disaster.

1994 – Storm King Mountain, Glenwood Springs, Colorado: South Canyon Fire: 14 firefighters died in the fire.

1998 – Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Airport is closed and the new Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok becomes operational.

1999 – U.S. Army private Barry Winchell dies from baseball-bat injuries inflicted in his sleep the previous day by a fellow soldier, Calvin Glover, for his relationship with transgender showgirl and former Navy Corpsman Calpernia Addams.

2003 – The 70-metre Eupatoria Planetary Radar sends a METI message (Cosmic Call 2) to 5 stars: Hip 4872, HD 245409, 55 Cancri (HD 75732), HD 10307 and 47 Ursae Majoris (HD 95128). The messages will arrive to these stars in 2036, 2040, 2044 and 2049 respectively.

2006 – The Nathula Pass between India and China, sealed during the Sino-Indian War, re-opens for trade after 44 years.

Holidays and observances

   * Birthday of the 14th Dalai Lama (Tibetan diaspora)

   * Christian Feast Day:

       * Maria Goretti

       * Romulus of Fiesole

       * July 6 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

   * Constitution Day (Cayman Islands)

   * Day of the Capital, established in 2008. (Kazakhstan)

   * Independence Day, celebrates the independence of the Comoros from France in 1975.

   * Independence Day/Republic Day, celebrates the independence of Malawi from United Kingdom in 1964.

   * Jan Hus Day (Czech Republic)

   * Statehood Day (Lithuania)

   * The earliest date for summer solstice in Julian calendar system, which corresponds to June 23:

       * The first night of Ivan Kupala Day (Poland, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine)

   * The first day of Ludi Apollinares, games in honor of Apollo. (Roman Empire)

   * The first day of San Fermín, which lasts until July 14. (Pamplona)

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