Today in History: 19th of January

BY MATTHEW COLLINS - JANUARY 19, 2015

On this day in History...

Last VW Beetle produced in Germany.

On the 19th of January 1978, the final German-built Volkswagen Beetle rolled out of production in Emden, Germany.

The Volkswagen (“people’s car”) Beetle, or more formally known as the Type 1, began its life in 1938 after having been envisioned by Adolf Hitler and designed by Ferdinand Porsche.

The Volkswagen Beetle holds the title of being the best-selling car in history.

Production would continue in Latin-America until 2003, when Mexico produced the final “old” Beetle.

However, the spirit of the beetle has lived on with more recent designs such as the “New Beetle” as well as the latest model, namely “The Beetle”.

Caption: Last German Beetle, now in the Wolfsburg Auto Museum. Image courtesy of: www.flickr.com

Britain invades Eritrea

On the 19th of January 1941, British forces invaded Italian-Eritrea (an area bordering Ethiopia and Sudan) after having deciphered Italian coded-messages.

In 1940, the then Italian Prime Minister, Benito Mussolini, declared war and Italian forces would proceed to eventually take British-Somaliland as well as border towns in Sudan and Kenya that year.

However, as time went by, Italian losses in other campaigns sparked a more defensive strategy which subsequently led to the decision to withdraw Italian forces from Sudan towards Eritrea.

The British, having broken the Italians’ codes, were able to gain valuable insight into this decision.

Therefore, British forces, under a Lieutenant General William Platt, launched an offensive heading into Eritrea on the 19th of January 1941, which would soon move through Eritrea before heading into Italian-Ethiopia. This offensive was coupled by British forces in Kenya (to the south) making their way into Italian-Somaliland and Ethiopia as well as an amphibious invasion heading into British-Somaliland.

Eventually, Somaliland and Ethiopia would fall and the Italians would eventually surrender in 1943.

Overall, this offensive laid a brick on the path towards the overall Allied victory in East Africa.

Caption: Indian soldiers enter Italian-Eritrea. Image courtesy of: ww2today.com

Storm hits Mount Ayliff, Eastern Cape

On the 19th of January 1999, in what has been regarded as South Africa’s deadliest tornado, a fierce twister struck Mount Ayliff in the Eastern Cape.

The violently-rotating funnel of air, which was rated an F4 on the Fujita Scale, tore through the area, killing over 20 people, injuring countless more and leaving even more homeless.

The Fujita Scale is used to measure the intensity of a tornado, with 5 being the highest rating on the scale.

Caption: Damage caused by the twister which hit Mount Ayliff. Image courtesy of: newcastleadvertiser.co.za

First Tour de France announced

On the 19th of January 1903, the cycle race, namely the Tour de France, was, for the first time ever, announced by the then French newspaper, L’Auto (now known as L’Equipe).

The event was simply a “publicity stunt” to increase the paper’s sales.   

It ran from the 1st to the 19th of July and covered 2400 km, with Maurice Garin winning the event.

This “stunt” was clearly a success in that its spirit has lived on for over a century, with the Tour de France arguably being considered as one of the greatest sporting events in the world.

Caption: L'Auto announces the route for the race. Image courtsey of: www.bikeraceinfo.com