This Day in History - 31st July
1703English novelist Daniel Defoe was made to stand in the pillory as punishment for offending the government and church with his satire 'The Shortest Way With Dissenters'. Bystanders pelted him with flowers instead of the customary harmful and noxious objects and drank to his health.
1910Dr Crippen was arrested aboard the SS Montrose as it was docking at Quebec. He was charged with the murder of his wife and was the first criminal to be caught by the use of radio.
1917The third Battle of Ypres (World War I) commenced as the British attacked the German lines.
1942The Oxford Committee for Famine Relief (later called Oxfam) was founded.
1944Jonathan Dimbleby, broadcaster and TV presenter was born.
1950Britain's first self-service store, (Sainsbury's) opened in Croydon.
1956Yorkshire born cricketer Jim Laker (who played for Surrey) became the first man to take all 10 wickets in a Test match innings as he returned figures of 10 wickets for 53 runs against Australia's in the second innings at Old Trafford, Manchester. His match figures for the two innings gave him an incredible 19 wickets for a mere 90 Australian runs.
1959Cliff Richard had his first British No.1 with 'Living Doll'.
1965Cigarette advertising on British television was banned.
1968The first episode (entitled The Man and the Hour) of Dad's Army, a British comedy about the Home Guard in the Second World War. The TV series regularly gained audiences of 18 million viewers during the 1970s and is still repeated today.
1969 The half penny ceased being legal tender. It had been a regular feature of British coinage since the 13th century.
1970Black Tot Day occurred On This Day. It was the last day of the officially sanctioned rum ration in the Royal Navy that dated back to 1665. It was poured as usual at 6 bells in the forenoon watch (11am) after the pipe of 'up spirits'. Some sailors wore black armbands, tots were 'buried at sea' and in one navy training camp there was a mock funeral procession complete with black coffin and accompanying drummers and piper.
1990In the England v India Test Match at Lords, a total of 1603 runs were scored, in exactly 1603 minutes.
1992The death of Leonard Cheshire, the British pilot and philanthropist who created the Leonard Cheshire Disability charity.
1998The British Government announced a total ban on landmines, a month before the first anniversary of the death of Princess Diana.
2009 The death (aged 76) of Sir Robert William "Bobby" Robson CBE, English footballer and football manager. He was manager of Newcastle from September 1999 to 30th August 2004.