It happened today – on this day in history – December 24

563: The Byzantine church Hagia Sophia in Constantinople is dedicated for the second time after being destroyed by earthquakes.

1167: King John is born in Oxford.

1515: Thomas Wolsey is appointed Lord Chancellor of England.

1524: Portugese explorer Vasco da Gama dies.

1777: Captain James Cook discovers Christmas Island (Kiritimati) in the Indian Ocean.

1799: A Jacobin plot against Napoleon is discovered.

1814: The Treaty of Ghent is signed, ending the War of 1812 between the United States, the UK and its allies.

1818: Silent Night (Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht) is first sung at St Nicholas parish church in Oberndorf, Austria.

1865: Several Confederate veterans form the Ku Klux Klan in Pulaski, Tennessee.

1871: Giusseppi Verdi’s opera “Aida” premieres in Cairo, Egypt.

1877: Thomas Edison files a patent for the phonograph.

1900: Foreign powers present the Chinese Empress with their list of ‘irrevocable conditions’ before their nations will withdraw troops from the country.

1914: A German plane drops bombs on Dover.

1922: The BBC broadcasts its first radio play: “The Truth about Father Christmas”.

1924: Albania becomes a republic.

1942: The first powered flight of a V-1 ‘buzz bomb’ at Peenemunde, Germany.

1943: US President Franklin D Roosevelt appoints General Dwight D Eisenhower Supreme Commander of the Allied forces.

1951: Libya gains independence from Italy.

1953: René Coty is elected president of France.

1954: Laos gains its independence.

1955: Author Aldous Huxley takes LSD for the first time.

1956: The statue of French diplomat and developer of the Suez Canal, Ferdinand de Lesseps is blown up in Port Said, Egypt.

1963: Greek and Turks riot in Cyprus.

1966: Unmanned Soviet spacecraft Luna 13 lands on the Moon.


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1968: George Best wins the Ballon d’Or for European Footballer of the Year.

1973: A ferryboat capsizes off the coast of Equador, drowning 200.

1974: Former government minister John Stonehouse is found in Australia after apparently faking his own death. On the same day, former astronaut John Glenn becomes senator for Ohio.

1979: The first European-built rocket, Ariane 1, successfully blasts off into space from French Guyana.

1985: French midfielder Michel Platini wins the Ballon d’Or.

1989: Charles Taylor enters Liberia to unseat President Samuel K Doe. On the same day, Panama dictator Manuel Noriega seeks asylum at the Vatican embassy.

Singles chart:

  1. Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid II
  2. Let’s Party – Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers
  3. When You Come Back To Me – Jason Donovan
  4. Donald Where’s Your Troosers? – Andy Stewart
  5. Dear Jessie – Madonna
  6. Get A Life – Soul II Soul
  7. Lambada – Kaoma
  8. I Don’t Wanna Lose You – Tina Turner
  9. Don’t Know Much – Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville
  10. Sister – Bros
1989: Phil Collins – But Seriously…

Album chart:

  1. But Seriously… – Phil Collins
  2. Jive Bunny…The Album – Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers
  3. Foreign Affair – Tina Turner
  4. Holding Back The River – Wet Wet Wet
  5. The Road To Hell – Chris Rea
  6. Enjoy Yourself – Kylie Minogue
  7. Ten Good Reasons – Jason Donovan
  8. Stronger – Cliff Richard
  9. Affection – Lisa Stansfield
  10. The Best Of… – Rod Stewart

1990: Actors Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman marry.

1992: US President George Bush pardons former Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger, for the Iran-contra affair.

1994: Playwright John Osborne dies aged 65.

1995: Liberian striker and future President, George Weah, wins the Ballon d’Or as European Footballer of the Year.

1997: William Straw, the son of Cabinet minister Jack Straw, is arrested on suspicion of selling drugs. A court ruling preventing the media in England and Wales from revealing the names of the minister and the teenager was overturned by the High Court because their identities had been revealed in several Scottish and non-British papers.

2000: Four Seasons bass singer Nick Massi (Macioci) dies of cancer aged 63.

2003: Jack White of The White Stripes was released on bail after turning himself in to Detroit police to face aggravated assault charges stemming from a bar room altercation in which he allegedly attacked Jason Stollsteimer of The Von Bondies. On the same day, Spanish police thwart an attempt by ETA to detonate 50 kg of explosives inside Madrid’s busy Chamartín Station.

2005: Rapper Foxy Brown is handcuffed and threatened with jail after sticking her tongue out at a New York judge who ordered her to stop chewing gum while facing charges of assaulting two nail salon workers.

2008: Playwright Harold Pinter dies aged 78.

2012: Ray Collins, vocalist with the Mothers Of Invention dies aged 76. On the same day, actor Charles Durning dies aged 89 and actor Jack Klugman dies aged 90.

2015: William Guest of Gladys Knight and The Pips dies of heart failure at the age of 74.

2016: Status Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt dies in hospital in Marbella, Spain aged 68.

2019: Songwriter Allee Willis, co-writer of the Earth Wind and Fire songs Boogie Wonderland and September plus the Friends TV theme I’ll Be There For You, dies age 72

BIRTHDAYS: Jan Akkerman, guitarist (Focus), 74; Carol Vorderman, TV personality, 60; Ed Milliband, former leader of the Labour Party, 51; Will Oldham, singer-songwriter, 50; Ricky Martin (Enrique Martín Morales), singer, 49; Stephenie Meyer, author, 47; Ryan Seacrest, US TV presenter/broadcaster, 46; Louis Tomlinson, singer (One Direction) 29.

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