It happened today – this day in history – December 23

1620: French huguenots declare war on King Louis XIII.

1672: Giovanni Cassini discovers Rhea, a satellite of Saturn.

1688: James II, the last Roman Catholic British monarch, flees to France.

1690: Astronomer John Flamstead observes the planet Uranus without realising it hasn’t been discovered yet.

1777: Tsar Alexander I of Russia is born in Saint Petersburg.

1783: General George Washington resigns his military commission as Commander-in-Chief of the US Army.

1815: “Emma” by Jane Austen is first published.

1834: Death of economist Thomas Malthus aged 68.

1888: Vincent van Gogh cuts off his left ear with a razor, after an argument with fellow painter Paul Gaughin.

1899: Field Marshal Lord Roberts departs Southampton for South Africa during the Second Boer War.

1912: The Aswan Low Dam begins operating on the River Nile. On the same day, the Indian Revolutionary Underground attempt to assassinate Viceroy of India Lord Hardinge, by throwing a homemade bomb into his elephant carriage during a ceremonial procession in Delhi.

1914: Australian and New Zealand troops arrive in Cairo.

1916: Allied forces defeat Turks in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula.

1920: The Government of Ireland Act / Home Rule Act is passed, partitioning Ireland.

1922: The BBC begins daily radio news bulletins.

1933: Dutch communist Marinus van der Lubbe is sentenced to death for burning the German Reichstag.

1941: American forces on Wake Island in the Pacific surrender to the Japanese. On the same day, Japan begins an assault on Rangoon, Burma.

1947: The transistor is invented by John Bardeen, Walter H. Brattain and William Shockley at Bell Labs in New York.

1948: Former Japanese Prime Minister Hideki Tojo is hanged aged 64 for war crimes.

1953: Soviet politician and head of the NKVD secret service, Lavrentiy Beria is executed aged 54.

1954: The first human kidney transplant is carried out by Dr. Joseph E. Murray in Boston, Massachusetts.

1959: Chuck Berry is arrested after taking a 14 year-old prostitute across a state line. He was sentenced to five years, but was freed after racist comments by the judge.

1960: King Saud assumes power in Saudi Arabia.


1961: Fidel Castro announces Cuba will release 1,113 prisoners from the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion for $62million worth of food and medical supplies.

1964: During a Beach Boys tour of the US, Brian Wilson suffers a nervous breakdown on a flight from Los Angeles to Houston.

1968: Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders become the first men to orbit the Moon.

1969: Italian midfielder Gianni Rivera wins the Ballon d’Or.

1973: Six Persian Gulf nations double their oil prices.

1977: Singer-songwriter Cat Stevens converts to Islam, taking the name Yusuf Islam.

1979: Singles chart:

  1. Another Brick In The Wall – Pink Floyd
  2. I Have A Dream – ABBA
  3. Walking On The Moon – The Police
  4. Day Trip To Bangor – Fiddler’s Dram
  5. I Only Want To Be With You – The Tourists
  6. Rapper’s Delight – Thee Sugarhill Gang
  7. Wonderful Chritmastime – Paul McCartney
  8. Que Sera Mi Vida – The Gibson Brothers
  9. My Simple Heart – The Three Degrees
  10. Brass In Pocket – The Pretenders
1979: The Clash – London Calling

Album chart:

  1. Greatest Hits – Rod Stewart
  2. Greatest Hits Vol 2 – ABBA
  3. The Wall – Pink Floyd
  4. Regatta De Blanc – The Police
  5. Love Songs – Elvis Presley
  6. Peace In The Valley – Various Artists
  7. 20 Hottest Hits – Hot Chocolate
  8. 20 Golden Greats – Diana Ross
  9. London Calling – The Clash
  10. Greatest Hits – ELO

1981: England’s Geoffrey Boycott becomes the leading run-scorer in test cricket with 8033.

1987: Manson “family” member Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, serving a life sentence for the 1975 attempted assassination of President Gerald Ford escapes from prison.

1992: The BBC investigates a leak which led to the Queen’s Christmas speech being published in a national newspaper. On the same day, Funkadelic guitarist Eddie Hazel dies aged 42.

1996: Saxophonist and legendary jazz club owner Ronnie Scott dies aged 69 from an accidental overdose of barbiturates prescribed by his dentist.

1997: Writer/director Woody Allen marries Soon-Yi Previn 27, adopted daughter of his former partner Mia Farrow.

1999: George Harrison’s home in Maui is broken into by Cristin Keleher, who cooks a frozen pizza, drinks beer from the fridge, starts some laundry and phones her mother in New Jersey.

2000: Comedian and pianist Victor Borge (Borge Rosenbaum) dies aged 91.

2005: Chad declares war against Sudan following a December 18 attack on Adré.

2006: Comedian Charlie Drake (Springhall) dies aged 81.

2007: Jazz pianist Oscar Peterson dies aged 82.

2013: Jazz saxophonist/flautist Yusef Lateef, dies aged 93.

2016: The UN Security Council adopts a landmark resolution demanding a halt to all Israeli settlement in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.

2018: Honey Lantree, drummer with sixties band The Honeycombs, dies aged 75.

BIRTHDAYS: Akihito, former Japanese emperor, 88; Frederic Forrest, actor, 85; Jorma Kaukonen, guitarist (Jefferson Airplane) 81; Harry Shearer, actor, 78; Graham Bonnet, singer, 74; Adrian Belew, guitarist/singer, 72; Anthony Phillips, guitarist, 70; Carol Ann Duffy, poet, 66; Dave Murray, guitarist (Iron Maiden) 65; Trisha Goddard, TV personality, 64; Joan Severance, actress, 63; Carol Smillie, TV personality, 60; Eddie Vedder, singer-songwriter (Pearl Jam) 57; Carla Bruni (Sarkozy), singer-songwriter/model/former French First Lady, 54; Jodie Marsh, glamour model, 43; Harry Judd, drummer (McFly) 36; Finn Wolfhard, actor, 19.