Ward's Book of Days.

Pages of interesting anniversaries.

What happened on this day in history.


On this day in history in 1896, took place the Anglo-Zanzibar War, the shortest war in history.

War broke out between Zanzibar and the United Kingdom when the sultan of Zanzibar died and his nephew, Khalid bin Bargash seized power in a coup. The old sultan had been a supporter of British interests in East Africa but the new monarch was a supporter of the Germans who were attempting to establish colonies and build trading stations in Africa.

Alarmed by the prospect of a German takeover, the Royal Navy assembled five warships off the Zanzibar coast, nearby the sultanís palace and, through a load hailer, ordered Bargesh to relinquish the throne in favour of the old sultanís elder son. Bargesh, replying by semaphore, not only refused but also pompously declared war on the United Kingdom and defied the Royal Navy to defeat his army of 2,500 men and his armed luxury yacht, the Glasgow.

Responding to the challenge, the Royal Navy opened fire on the yacht and palace at 9-00 a.m. on 27th August 1896. The Glasgow sank after fifteen minutes and the palace walls crumbled under gunfire causing numerous casualties amongst the sultanís army, obliging him to hoist the white flag of surrender at 9-45 a.m., thereby concluding the shortest war in history. Bargesh took refuge in the German consulate and was later smuggled out to Dar es Salaam.

The longest war in British history started when the Dutch declared war on the Royalist held Scilly Isles in 1651, during the English Civil War and, due to an administrative error, forgot to conclude a peace treaty until the mistake was discovered in 1986.

Another long war took place between Russia and Berwick on Tweed. Queen Victoria, in formally declaring the Crimean War in 1853, did so in the names of England, Scotland, Ireland and Berwick on Tweed, a town that, at the time, was in dispute between England and Scotland.  The peace treaty of 1856 was concluded between England, Scotland and Ireland, leaving Berwick Town at war with Russia.  A formal peace treaty was signed in 1966 between the mayor of Berwick and the Soviet ambassador, after which the mayor, Mr Robert Knox, told his Excellency the ambassador that ďThe Russian people can now sleep peaceably in their beds!Ē

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