It happened today – on this day in history – December 16

1431: Henry VI of England is crowned king of France.

1485: Birth of Catherine of Aragon in Madrid.

1497: Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama is the first European to sail along Africa’s East Coast and names it Natal.

1631: Mount Vesuvius in Italy erupts, burying many villages under lava and killing around 3,000 people.

1653: Oliver Cromwell is appointed Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland.

1689: Parliament passes the Bill of Rights establishing limits on the monarch’s powers and the requirement for regular elections.

1707: The last recorded eruption of Mount Fuji in Japan.

1770: Composer Ludwig van Beethoven is born in Bonn.

1773: Protesters throw tea shipments into Boston harbour in protest against the British imposed Tea Act. It becomes known as the Boston Tea Party.

1775: Birth of novelist Jane Austen.

1809: Napoleon Bonaparte divorces Empress Joséphine.

1859: Writer of fairy tales, Wilhelm Grimm, dies aged 73.

1880: The Transvaal region declares itself as the Republic of South Africa, beginning the First Boer War with the British Empire.

1893: Anton Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” premieres at Carnegie Hall, New York.

1899: Playwright/songwriter/actor/director Noel Coward is born in London.

1907: As a gesture of the US’s new presence as a world power, President Theodore Roosevelt sends the ‘Great White Fleet’ on a round-the-world cruise, visiting ports internationally.

1909: A conservative revolution and US pressure forces Nicaraguan President Jose Santos from office.

1912: The Ottoman Navy is defeated by the Royal Hellenic Navy at the Battle of Eli in the First Balkan War.

1913: Charlie Chaplin begins his film career at Keystone for $150 a week.

1914: German battleships bombard Hartlepool and Scarborough in the First World War.

1917: Sci-fi author and inventor of the communications satellite, Arthur C Clarke is born in Minehead.

1918: Boxer Jack Dempsey knocks out opponent Carl Morris in 14 seconds. On the same day, German troops evacuate Finland, give over Kiev in the Ukraine to revolutionary forces and pull back from Estonia as Bolshevik forces move in.

1920: An estimated 200,000 people are killed when a massive earthquake strikes Gansu province in China.

1921: French composer Camille Saint-Saëns dies aged 86.

1940: Joe Louis KOs Al McCoy in Round 6 for the heavyweight boxing title in Chicago.


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1944: The Battle of the Bulge begins as Germany launches a counteroffensive against the Allies in the Ardennes region of Belgium.

1946: The Christian Dior fashion house is launched. On the same day, Thailand joins the United Nations.

1950: US President Harry Truman proclaims a state of emergency against “Communist imperialism”. On the same day, child star Shirley Temple marries for the second time and announces her retirement from showbusiness aged 22.

1953: The first White House press conference is held with President Dwight D Eisenhower and over 160 journalists.

1955: The Queen inaugurates the central building at London Airport, now known as Terminal 2 of Heathrow.

Singles chart:

  1. Christmas Alphabet – Dickie Valentine
  2. Rock Around The Clock – Bill Haley and his Comets
  3. Love Is A Many Splendored Thing – The Four Aces
  4. Let’s Have A Ding Dong – Winifred Atwell
  5. Meet Me On The Corner – Max Bygraves
  6. Twenty Tiny Fingers – The Stargazers
  7. When You Lose The One You Love – David Whitfield with Mantovani and his Orchestra
  8. Hernando’s Hideaway – The Johnston Brothers
  9. The Yellow Rose Of Texas – Mitch Miller
  10. Ain’t That A Shame – Pat Boone

1961:Jimmy Greaves scores a hat-trick on his debut for Spurs in their 5-2 First Division victory over Blackpool at White Hart Lane.

1962: Bobby Vee Meets The Crickets

1962: Album chart:

  1. Out Of The Shadows – The Shadows
  2. West Side Story – Original Soundtrack
  3. The Black And White Minstrel Show – The George Mitchell Minstrels
  4. Bobby Vee Meets The Crickets – Bobby Vee & The Crickets
  5. Rock N’ Roll No 2 – Elvis Presley
  6. On Stage With… – The George Mitchell Minstrels
  7. A Picture Of You – Joe Brown
  8. South Pacific – Original Soundtrack
  9. Another Black And White Minstrel Show – The George Mitchell Minstrels
  10. Golden Age Of Donegan – Lonnie Donegan

1965: Gemini 6 returns to Earth after the first rendezvous in space with Gemini 7. On the same day, author W (William) Somerset Maugham dies aged 91.

1969: MPs vote for the permanent abolition of the death penalty for murder.

1971: East Pakistan’s independence as Bangladesh is declared after India’s army occupies Dacca and 93,000 West Pakistani troops surrender.

1974: Guitarist Mick Taylor announces he is leaving The Rolling Stones.

1977: The Queen unveils the new Piccadilly Line underground link from central London to Heathrow.

1979: Four British Army soldiers are killed near Dungannon, Co Tyrone and another is killed near Forkill, Co Armagh by Provisional IRA landmines.

1980: President-elect Ronald Reagan announces Alexander Haig as his Secretary of State.

1983: The Who announce they are disbanding.

1988: Disco singer Sylvester (James) dies of complications from AIDS in San Francisco aged 41.

1990: Jean-Bertrand Aristide is elected President of Haiti.

1991: The former Soviet state of Kazakhstan declares independence.

1998: The US and the UK bomb targets in Iraq.

2001: Thousands of countryside campaigners take to the streets of Edinburgh in protest at The Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act and the Scottish Land Reform Bill. On the same day, guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Stuart Adamson, of Big Country was found dead aged 43 in a closet in a Hawaii hotel a month after disappearing from his home.

2004: NASA’s Voyager 1 probe is the first craft to cross the termination shock, where solar and interstellar winds merge.

2007: Singer songwriter Dan Fogelberg died at his home in Maine at the age of 56 from prostate cancer.

BIRTHDAYS: Liv Ullmann, actress, 82; Tony Hicks, guitarist (The Hollies) 75; Bobby George, darts player, 75; Benny Andersson, keyboards/composer (ABBA) 74; Christopher Biggins, actor, 72; Billy Gibbons, guitarist/singer, (ZZ Top) 71; Robben Ford, guitarist, 69; Benjamin Bratt, actor, 57; Dennis Wise, footballer, 54; Miranda Otto, actress, 53; Krysten Ritter, actress/director, 39; Anna Popplewell, actress, 32; Zara Larsson. Singer-songwriter, 23.

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]