Today in History, May 31

By AAP and agencies
2017 - Police find bones belonging to missing man Matthew Leveson in the Royal National Park

Highlights in history on this date:

455 - A Roman mob tears Emperor Maximus Petronius limb from limb when he tries to escape an approaching Vandal fleet.

1043 - Lady Godiva rides naked through the market square in Coventry, England.

1520 - After being held hostage in Denmark, young nobleman Gustav Vasa slips back into Sweden to start a rebellion against the Danes that will establish Swedish independence.

1813 - Australian explorers Blaxland, Lawson, and Wentworth reach highest point in Blue Mountains and see fertile plains to the west.

1837 - Joseph Grimaldi, famed English dancer and actor whose white-faced act marked the birth of the English circus clown, dies.

1899 - George Whitehouse, a British engineer, decides to build a workshop for the Uganda Railway in a swamp where Kenya's capital, Nairobi, later grows.

1910 - The self-governing Union of South Africa is formed under the British crown.

1911 - In Belfast in Northern Ireland, the Titanic is launched as one of the largest vessels afloat. It sank on its maiden voyage in April 1912.

1912 - Arthur Stone makes the first powered aircraft flight in Queensland at Rockhampton in a US built monoplane.

1915 - German Zeppelins bomb London for the first time.

1916 - British and German fleets fight Battle of Jutland off Denmark in World War I.

1924 - China recognises Soviet Union.

1928 - Australian aviator Sir Charles Kingsford Smith sets off from Oakland, California, to fly across the Pacific to Australia (he arrives on June 9).

1942 - Three Japanese midget submarines enter Sydney Harbour; ferry Kuttabul is sunk but all three subs are captured.

1961 - South Africa becomes an independent republic outside British Commonwealth with CR Swart as president.

1962 - Adolf Eichmann, World War II Nazi Gestapo chief, is executed by hanging after Israeli court rejects appeal.

1970 - Earthquake hits Peru, leaving more than 66,000 dead, 20,000 missing and 200,000 injured.

1973 - US Senate votes to cut off all funds for US bombing operations in Cambodia.

1976 - Indonesia completes takeover of East Timor.

1993 - Suspected Khmer Rouge guerillas in Cambodia ambush a UN convoy, killing one peacekeeper and wounding five in an escalation of attacks.

1996 - An ethnic Croat who fought in the Bosnian Serb forces becomes the first person to be convicted by the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.

1998 - Representatives of all 16 countries involved in the building of an international space station approve an assembly schedule to begin in November.

2000 - Hong Kong closes its last Vietnamese refugee camp, ending the quarter-century boat people saga in the territory and leaving about 100 people homeless.

2001 - Veteran FBI agent Robert Hanssen pleads innocent to charges of spying for Moscow. He later changed his plea to guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.

2003 - Eric Robert Rudolph, suspected of bombing abortion clinics and a gay nightclub as well as the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, is captured in Murphy, North Carolina.

2005 - The Washington Post revealed that "Deep Throat", the legendary source who leaked Watergate scandal secrets to its reporters, was former FBI deputy director Mark Felt.

2006 - Australian mountaineer Sue Fear, 43, is confirmed dead after falling into a crevasse on Manaslu, the world's eighth highest mountain, three days earlier.

2010 - Israeli commandos rappel down to an aid flotilla sailing to thwart a Gaza blockade, clashing with pro-Palestinian activists on the lead ship in a botched raid that left at least nine passengers dead.

2014 - Police arrest a third suspect in a gang rape and slaying of two teenage cousins found hanging from a tree in northern India, a case that triggered national outrage.

2016 - Britain announces it is investing in extra patrol boats and surveillance to try to prevent asylum seekers crossing the English Channel.

2017 - Police find bones belonging to missing man Matthew Leveson, who disappeared and was presumed murdered 10 years ago, in the Royal National Park.

Today's Birthdays

Walt Whitman, US writer (1819-1892); Don Ameche, US actor (1908-1993); Judith Wright, Australian poet (1915-2000); Prince Rainier of Monaco (1923-2005); Clint Eastwood, US actor (1930-); Shirley Verrett, US mezzo-soprano (1933-2010); Peter Yarrow, US singer (1938-); Terry Waite, Anglican Church envoy (1939-); Sharon Gless, US actress (1943-); Rainer Werner Fassbinder, German author/filmmaker/theatre-director (1945-1982); John Bonham, Led Zeppelin drummer (1948-1980); Gregory Harrison, US actor (1950-); Tommy Emmanuel, Australian guitarist (1955-); Lea Thompson, US actress (1961-); Todd McKenney, Australian TV personality (1965-); Brooke Shields, US actress (1965-); Sarah Murdoch, Australian model and TV personality (1972-); Colin Farrell, Irish actor (1976-).

Thought For Today:

Love is enough, though the world be a-waning - William Morris, English poet and artist (1834-1896).