3 June 1539

Hernando de Soto claims Florida for Spain.

In 1537 de Soto appealed to the King of Spain to be granted control of the New World territorial province that stretched from Rio de Las Palmas in South America to Florida. De Soto won his claim and was also granted the governorship of Cuba. However, his appointment stipulated that, within a year, he had to personally re-conquer and occupy Spanish Florida at his own expense. Previous ventures to South America with Pizarro had earned de Soto tremendous wealth and prestige; as a result, he found several willing financial partners for the venture, some of who accompanied de Soto on the actual voyage. He assembled and armada of 10 ships and 600 men. In April of 1538 his fleet departed from the port of San Lucar, Spain, for the shores of the New World. He landed in Cuba, remaining on the island for a few months to gather supplies, rest his men, and plan his expedition in Florida.

De Soto landed in Florida in May of 1539 and claimed formal possession of the land on June 3 despite ongoing hostility between his men and some of the neighboring Indian tribes. Welcomed by one local Native American chief, de Soto and his crew wintered in the village of Apalache before beginning their expedition. De Soto supposed that great indigenous civilizations, like those he encountered on voyages to South America, lay in the region’s interior. Determined to garner further plunder for both his own interests and for the Spanish court, de Soto and his men headed northward through present-day Georgia. Once reaching the Piedmont, or the Appalachian foothills, de Soto turned his forces westward, exploring the Carolinas and Tennessee. Though he located the Tennessee River, de Soto had failed to find the material wealth and plunder after which he sought.

Disappointed and weary, in 1540 de Soto attempted to head south to Mobile Bay in Alabama to rendezvous with his ships. Two hundred miles south of the Tennessee River, de Soto and his men encountered a warrior band led by Chief Tuscaloosa. The Native American forces were ill equipped to fight the Spaniards, and the ensuring battle proved disastrous for Tuscaloosa’s men. The clash was perhaps the bloodiest single encounter between Native Americans and whites in American history. Crippled by the encounter with Tuscaloosa and running short on supplies, de Soto continued to head south, believing that he would not meet with further resistance. A few miles from the headwaters of Mobile Bay, however, the indigenous peoples at Mauvilia confronted de Soto’s men. The local Native Americans were decimated, and the Spanish forces were weakened severely. Losing most of his men, supplies, and plunder, de Soto rashly decided to extend his expedition and recoup his losses instead of immediately returning to Spain.

After regrouping with some of his fleet and resting for a month, de Soto again pushed northward—though this time the decision would prove fatal. His expedition was plagued by Indian attacks as they made their way through western Alabama and Mississippi. On May 21, 1541, de Soto became the first European to sight the Mississippi River. He encountered the river south of Memphis, Tennessee, and instead of following the river and charting its path to the Gulf of Mexico, de Soto crossed the river into Arkansas in search of more wealth. The expedition was fruitless and de Soto lost more of his already diminished crew to fatigue and disease. Resolved to finally reunite with his fleet and return to Spain, de Soto decided to turn back and follow the Mississippi River southward. De Soto fell ill, most likely with Yellow Fever, and died in Louisiana on May 21, 1542, exactly one year after first sighting the Mississippi River.

The surviving members of de Soto’s crew endured perhaps the most trying part of their travels after de Soto’s demise. Continuing their way southward, they were unable to return to the remnants of de Soto’s fleet. They made their way to Mexico via handmade rafts and eventually caught passage back to Spain. De Soto’s second in command, Luis de Moscoso, arrived at the Spanish court over a year and half after de Soto’s death.

3 June 1940

The Luftwaffe bomb Paris.

Unternehmen Paula Undertaking or Operation Paula is the German codename given for the Second World War Luftwaffe offensive operation to destroy the remaining units of the Armée de l’Air, or French Air Force during the Battle of France in 1940. On 10 May the German armed forces began their invasion of Western Europe. By 3 June, the British Army had withdrawn from Dunkirk and the continent in Operation Dynamo, the Netherlands and Belgium had surrendered and most of the formations of the French Army were disbanded or destroyed. To complete the defeat of France, the Germans undertook a second phase operation, Fall Rot, to conquer the remaining regions. In order to do this, air supremacy was required. The Luftwaffe was ordered to destroy the French Air Forces, while still providing support to the German Army.

For the operation, the Germans committed five Air Corps to the attack, comprising 1,100 aircraft. The operation was launched on 3 June 1940. British intelligence had warned the French of the impending attack, and the operation failed to achieve the strategic results desired by the Oberkommando der Luftwaffe. Fortunately for the Luftwaffe, the plight of the French ground and air forces at this stage meant that the failure of the operation would not impede the defeat of France.

Hugo Sperrle had long planned attacks upon Paris and on 22 May he ordered Fliegerkorps II and Fliegerkorps V with Kampfgeschwader 77 and Generaloberst Ulrich Grauert’s I Fliegerdivision, III./Kampfgeschwader 28 to bomb Paris. Bad weather prevented the operation. Determined to continue with his plans, Sperrle ordered Otto Hoffmann von Waldau and Helmuth von Hoffman, Gruppenkommandeur Group Commander of III./KG 28, to plan an operation named Paula the following day, on 23 May 1940.

The operation was broad in its scope. As well as eliminating French airfields and aircraft factories around Paris, in von Waldau’s words, the bombing was to “achieve a desirable influence on the morale of the capital”. German reconnaissance aircraft reported 1,244 aircraft on airfields in and around Paris, including 550–650 single engine aircraft. This French air power was to be destroyed along with the aviation factories in the area. French anti aircraft artillery defences were mapped from tactical to operational level, and intelligence of French ground defences was therefore good. The operation was due to be carried out on 30 May, but again, bad weather prevented it.

The operation was compromised by poor staff work and excessive confidence in the “invulnerable” Enigma machine. The British intelligence, namely Ultra, who had been reading the German codes, forewarned the French. On 30 May they intercepted a message sent by Grauert discussing the arrangements he was making for his Corps. Adding to this leak, the units involved received incomplete orders for the assault. Oberst Johann-Volkmar Fisser, Geschwaderkommodore Wing Commander of KG 77 complained about this. He asked the Headquarters of VIII Fliegerkorps, only to be told that the target was “Paris”. Sperrle responded to his request by removing KG 77 from the order of battle. The British intercepted Frisser’s request to VIII Fliegerkorps, and passed it to the French. The French had intercepted similar messages and in response they doubled their aircraft strength to 120 fighters.

3 June 1992

Aboriginal Land Rights are granted in Australia from the case of Mabo v Queensland.

On 3 June 1992 six of the seven High Court Judges ruled;’The Meriam people are entitled as against the whole world, to possession, occupation, use and enjoyment of the lands of the Murray Islands’

Eddie Mabo had died of cancer in February 1992, just 4 months before this historic high court ruling that would change Australian land law. The judgement was so historic because it completely overturned the idea of terra nullius and said that native title survived in many places, even though the land had been taken by the Crown. See image 1

Mabo v Queensland (Mabo) declared that terra nullius had never legally existed and that it had been wrongfully applied to Australia. The high court said that ‘ultimate’ title existed instead, and through that, native title could be claimed. Australian land law has developed from English land law and it was under those principles that Australia was settled. At common law all land is owned by the Crown which then deals with that land as it sees fit. See image 2

In the 18th century there were three legally recognised principles that governed the taking over of new land; conquest, treaty or occupation. As Australia was an ’empty’ country neither of the first two principles applied, and so under 18th century English common law, Australia became an occupied country. This legal fiction of an empty country was directly challenged by the Mabo case.