31 October 1940

World War II: The Battle of Britain ends, causing Germany to abandon Operation Sea Lion.

The Battle of Britain was a pivotal air campaign during World War II that took place between July and October 1940. It was a significant conflict between the Royal Air Force (RAF) of the United Kingdom and the German Luftwaffe, as they vied for control of the skies over Britain. This battle is considered a critical turning point in the war, as it marked the first major defeat for Nazi Germany and thwarted its plans for an invasion of Britain.

Background: The Battle of Britain was a direct result of the larger conflict of World War II. After the fall of France in June 1940, Britain stood alone against Nazi Germany, and Adolf Hitler considered the invasion of the British Isles. However, control of the skies was essential for any successful invasion, and the Luftwaffe was tasked with achieving air superiority.

The Blitz: The Battle of Britain began with a period known as “The Blitz” in which the Luftwaffe conducted a sustained bombing campaign against British cities and military installations. This campaign was intended to weaken British resolve and military capabilities.

Key Leaders: On the British side, Air Chief Marshal Hugh Dowding was responsible for the RAF’s defense strategy, and Sir Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister, provided strong leadership and inspiration during this critical time. The Germans were led by Hermann Göring, head of the Luftwaffe.

Tactics: The RAF employed a combination of fighter aircraft, including the Supermarine Spitfire and the Hawker Hurricane, and a well-organized air defense system. They used a strategy known as the “Big Wing,” which involved sending large formations of fighters to intercept German bombers and their escorts. The Germans, on the other hand, relied on a strategy that targeted the destruction of RAF airfields and infrastructure.

Radar: One crucial advantage the British had was radar technology, which allowed them to detect incoming enemy aircraft at greater distances. This early warning system was vital in allowing the RAF to scramble its fighters and prepare for enemy attacks effectively.

The Turning Point: The Battle of Britain reached its climax in September 1940. A series of intense air battles, including “Eagle Day” on September 13, saw heavy losses on both sides. However, the RAF was able to repel the Luftwaffe’s attacks, and the Germans began to shift their focus toward London and other cities.

Victory and Legacy: By the end of October 1940, the Germans had suffered unsustainable losses, and Hitler decided to postpone Operation Sea Lion, the planned invasion of Britain. The Battle of Britain was a significant British victory, and it marked a turning point in the war. It also demonstrated that Nazi Germany could be defeated and boosted British morale

31 October 1922

Benito Mussolini is made Prime Minister of Italy

Benito Mussolini was an Italian political leader who became the fascist dictator of Italy from 1925 to 1945. Originally a revolutionary socialist, he forged the paramilitary fascist movement in 1919 and became prime minister in 1922. Called “Il Duce”  by his countrymen, Mussolini allied himself with Adolf Hitler, relying on the German dictator to prop up his leadership during World War II, but he was killed shortly after the German surrender in Italy in 1945.

Born on July 29, 1883, in Verano di Costa, Italy, Mussolini was the son of blacksmith and ardent socialist Alessandro Mussolini and a devout Catholic mother, Rosa Maltoni. By most accounts, Mussolini’s family lived in simple, small quarters.

Young Mussolini was expelled from his first boarding school at age 10 for stabbing a fellow student. At 14, he stabbed another student but was only suspended.

Much of Mussolini’s early adulthood was spent traveling around Switzerland, getting involved with that country’s Socialist Party and clashing with police. In 1909, he moved to Austria-Hungary to become editor of a socialist newspaper, but was deported back to Italy, accused of violating laws meant to regulate press freedom.

31 October 1922

Benito Mussolini is made Prime Minister of Italy.


Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician, journalist and leader of the National Fascist Party ruling the country as Prime Minister from 1922 to 1943—constitutionally until 1925, when he dropped all pretense of democracy and set up a legal dictatorship.

Known as “The Leader”, Mussolini was the founder of Italian Fascism. In 1912, Mussolini was a leading member of the National Directorate of the Italian Socialist Party but was expelled from the PSI for advocating military intervention in World War I, in opposition to the party’s stance on neutrality. Mussolini served in the Royal Italian Army during the war until he was wounded and discharged in 1917. Mussolini denounced the PSI, his views now centering on nationalism instead of socialism and later founded the fascist movement which came to oppose egalitarianism and class conflict, instead advocating revolutionary nationalism transcending class lines. Following the March on Rome in October 1922, Mussolini became the youngest Prime Minister in Italian history until the appointment of Matteo Renzi in February 2014.

After removing all political opposition through his secret police and outlawing labor strikes, Mussolini and his followers consolidated their power through a series of laws that transformed the nation into a one-party dictatorship. Within five years, Mussolini had established dictatorial authority by both legal and extraordinary means and aspired to create a totalitarian state. Mussolini remained in power until he was deposed by King Victor Emmanuel III in 1943, but a few months later he became the leader of the Italian Social Republic, a German client regime in northern Italy – Mussolini held this post until his death in 1945.

Mussolini had sought to delay a major war in Europe until at least 1942,but Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939. This resulted in declarations of war by France and the UK and the start of World War II. On 10 June 1940—with the Fall of France imminent—Italy officially entered the war on the side of Germany, though he was aware that Italy did not have the military capacity and resources to carry out a long war with the British Empire. Mussolini believed that after the imminent French armistice, Italy could gain territorial concessions from France and then he could concentrate his forces on a major offensive in North Africa, where British and Commonwealth forces were outnumbered by Italian forces.

31 October 683

The Kaaba catches fire and is burned down during the Siege of Mecca.


The Siege of Mecca in September was one of the early battles of the Second Islamic Civil War. The city of Mecca served as a sanctuary for Abdallah ibn al-Zubayr, who was among the most prominent challengers to the dynastic succession to the Caliphate by the Umayyad Yazid I. After nearby Medina, the other holy city of Islam, also rebelled against Yazid, the Umayyad ruler sent an army to subdue Arabia. The Umayyad army defeated the Medinans and took the city, but Mecca held out in a month-long siege, during which the Kaaba was damaged by fire. The siege ended when news came of Yazid’s sudden death. The Umayyad commander, Husayn ibn Numayr, after vainly trying to induce Abdallah to return with him to Syria and be recognized as Caliph, departed with his forces. Ibn al-Zubayr remained in Mecca throughout the civil war, but he was nevertheless soon acknowledged as Caliph across most of the Muslim world. It was not until 692, that the Umayyads were able to send another army which again besieged and captured Mecca, ending the civil war.