On This Day … 24 December


  • 1144: The capital of the crusader County of Edessa falls to Imad ad-Din Zengi, the atabeg of Mosul and Aleppo.
  • 1500: A joint Venetian–Spanish fleet captures the Castle of St. George on the island of Cephalonia.
  • 1737: The Marathas defeat the combined forces of the Mughal Empire, Rajputs of Jaipur, Nizam of Hyderabad, Nawab of Awadh and Nawab of Bengal in the Battle of Bhopal.
  • 1800: The Plot of the rue Saint-Nicaise fails to kill Napoleon Bonaparte.
  • 1814: Representatives of the United Kingdom and the United States sign the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812.
  • 1868: The Greek Presidential Guard is established as the royal escort by King George I.
  • 1914: World War I: The “Christmas truce” begins.
  • 1939: World War II: Pope Pius XII makes a Christmas Eve appeal for peace.
  • 1941: World War II: Kuching is conquered by Japanese forces.
  • 1941: World War II: Benghazi is conquered by the British Eighth Army.
  • 1942: World War II: French monarchist, Fernand Bonnier de La Chapelle, assassinates Vichy French Admiral François Darlan in Algiers, Algeria.
  • 1943: World War II: US General Dwight D. Eisenhower is named Supreme Allied Commander for the Invasion of Normandy.
  • 1952: First flight of Britain’s Handley Page Victor strategic bomber.
  • 1964: Vietnam War: Viet Cong operatives bomb the Brinks Hotel in Saigon, South Vietnam to demonstrate they can strike an American installation in the heavily guarded capital.
  • 1966: A Canadair CL-44 chartered by the United States military crashes into a small village in South Vietnam, killing 129.
  • 1969: Nigerian troops capture Umuahia, the Biafran capital.
  • 1980: Witnesses report the first of several sightings of unexplained lights near RAF Woodbridge, in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, England, United Kingdom, an incident called “Britain’s Roswell”.
  • 2005: Chad–Sudan relations: Chad declares a state of war against Sudan following a December 18 attack on Adré, which left about 100 people dead.
  • 2008: Lord’s Resistance Army, a Ugandan rebel group, begins a series of attacks on Democratic Republic of the Congo, massacring more than 400.
  • Day of Military Honour – Siege of Ismail (Russia).

People (Births)

  • 3 BC: Galba, Roman emperor (d. 69).
  • 1166: John, King of England (d. 1216).
  • 1809: Kit Carson, American general (d. 1868).
  • 1894: Georges Guynemer, French captain and pilot (d. 1917).
  • 1920: Yevgeniya Rudneva, Ukrainian-Russian lieutenant and navigator (d. 1944).
  • 1923: George Patton IV, American general (d. 2004).
  • 1924: Abdirizak Haji Hussein, Somalian soldier and politician, 4th Prime Minister of Somalia (d. 2014).
  • 1938: Valentim Loureiro, Portuguese soldier and politician.
  • 1946: Jeff Sessions, American captain, lawyer, and politician, 44th Attorney General of Alabama and 84th Attorney General of the United States.
  • 1954: Yves Debay, Congolese-French commander and journalist (d. 2013).

People (Deaths)

  • 950: Shi Hongzhao, Chinese general.
  • 1867: José Mariano Salas, Mexican general and politician. President of Mexico (1846, 1859) and regent of the Second Mexican Empire(b. 1797).
  • 1920: Stephen Mosher Wood, American lieutenant and politician (b. 1832).
  • 1931: Flying Hawk, American warrior, educator and historian (b. 1854).
  • 1942: François Darlan, French admiral and politician, 122nd Prime Minister of France (b. 1881).
  • 1969: Olivia FitzRoy, British soldier and author (b. 1921).
  • 1980: Karl Dönitz, German admiral and politician, President of Germany (b. 1891).
  • 1999: Maurice Couve de Murville, French soldier and politician, 152nd Prime Minister of France (b. 1907).
  • 1999: João Figueiredo, Brazilian general and politician, 30th President of Brazil (b. 1918).
  • 2012: Charles Durning, American soldier and actor (b. 1923).

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