On This Day: German submarine sinks USS Reuben James

On Oct. 31, 1941, more than a month before the United States entered World War II, a German submarine torpedoed and sunk a U.S. destroyer, the USS Reuben James.

By UPI Staff
On This Day: German submarine sinks USS Reuben James
Retired Navy Chief Boatswain Stephen Heald of Georgetown, Maine, (R) blows the boatswains call during a cermony in Portland, Maine on November 14, 1998, at the just-installed monument to honor the men that died on the first United States warship sunk in World War II, the destroyer USS Reuben James. A German U-boat torpedoed the destroyer on October 31, 1941. File Photo by Lee K. Marriner/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 31 (UPI) -- On this date in history:

In 1517, Martin Luther began the Protestant Reformation by nailing a proclamation -- the 95 theses -- to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany.


In 1864, Nevada was admitted to the United States as the 36th state.

In 1926, Harry Houdini, renowned magician, illusionist and escape artist, died of peritonitis in a Detroit hospital following a blow to the abdomen.

In 1931, with the Great Depression in full swing, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that 827 banks had failed during the previous two months.

In 1941, more than a month before the United States entered World War II, a German submarine torpedoed and sunk a U.S. destroyer, the USS Reuben James.

In 1941, the Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota -- consisting of the sculpted heads of U.S. Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt -- was completed.

In 1968, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson announced a halt to the bombing of North Vietnam.


UPI File Photo

In 1984, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated outside her home in a volley of gunfire by Sikh members of her own security force. Her son, Rajiv, succeeded her.

In 1985, salvage divers located the remains of the booty-laden pirate ship Whydah, which sank Feb. 17, 1717, off Cape Cod, Mass.

In 1993, actor River Phoenix died of a drug overdose outside of a West Hollywood, Calif., nightclub, The Viper Room. He starred in Stand By Me and My Own Private Idaho.

In 2004, Iranian lawmakers chanted, "Death to America!" after a unanimous vote to allow their government to resume uranium enrichment activities.

In 2008, U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus took over as head of the Central Command, in charge of military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iran and other countries.

In 2010, Brazilians elected Dilma Rousseff as their first female president. The former energy minister and choice of outgoing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva defeated Jose Serra in a runoff with 56 percent of the vote. Rousseff won a second term Oct. 26, 2014.


File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI.

In 2011, a U.N. report said the world's population had topped the 7 billion mark, doubling the total of 1968. The U.N. Population Fund predicted 8 billion people by 2025.

In 2014, SpaceShipTwo, Virgin Galactic's effort in spaceflight for tourists, crashed during a test flight in the Mojave Desert, killing one of the pilots and seriously injuring the other.

In 2015, Russian airliner Metrojet Flight 9268 crashed after taking off from Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport in Egypt, killing all 224 on board. Investigators suspected a bomb on the plane caused the crash.

In 2019, the Islamic State named Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi as its new leader after the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died October 26, 2019, during a raid by U.S. special operations forces on his compound in northwestern Syria. File Photo courtesy Department of Defense

Latest Headlines


Follow Us