On This Day … 09 December


  • 480 – Odoacer, first King of Italy, occupies Dalmatia. He later establishes his political power with the co-operation of the Roman Senate.
  • 536 – Gothic War: The Byzantine general Belisarius enters Rome unopposed; the Gothic garrison flee the capital.
  • 730 – Battle of Marj Ardabil: The Khazars annihilate an Umayyad army and kill its commander, Al-Jarrah Ibn Abdallah Al-Hakami.
  • 1688 – Glorious Revolution: Williamite forces defeat Jacobites at Battle of Reading, forcing flight of James II from the country.
  • 1775 – American Revolutionary War: British troops lose the Battle of Great Bridge, and leave Virginia soon afterward.
  • 1824 – Patriot forces led by General Antonio José de Sucre defeat a Royalist army in the Battle of Ayacucho, putting an end to the Peruvian War of Independence.
  • 1835 – Texas Revolution: The Texian Army captures San Antonio, Texas.
  • 1856 – The Iranian city of Bushehr surrenders to occupying British forces.
  • 1861 – American Civil War: The Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War is established by the US Congress.
  • 1868 – The first traffic lights are installed, outside the Palace of Westminster in London. Resembling railway signals, they use semaphore arms and are illuminated at night by red and green gas lamps.
  • 1917 – World War I: Field Marshal Allenby captures Jerusalem from the Ottoman Empire.
  • 1937 – Second Sino-Japanese War: Battle of Nanking: Japanese troops under the command of Lieutenant General Asaka Yasuhiko launch an assault on the Chinese city of Nanjing (Nanking).
  • 1940 – World War II: Operation Compass: British and Indian troops under the command of Major-General Richard O’Connor attack Italian forces near Sidi Barrani in Egypt.
  • 1941 – World War II: China, Cuba, Guatemala, and the Philippine Commonwealth declare war on Germany and Japan.
  • 1941 – World War II: The American 19th Bombardment Group attacks Japanese ships off the coast of Vigan, Luzon.
  • 1946 – The “Subsequent Nuremberg trials” begin with the “Doctors’ trial”, prosecuting physicians and officers alleged to be involved in Nazi human experimentation and mass murder under the guise of euthanasia.
  • 1948 – The Genocide Convention is adopted.
  • 1950 – Cold War: Harry Gold is sentenced to 30 years in jail for helping Klaus Fuchs pass information about the Manhattan Project to the Soviet Union.
    • His testimony is later instrumental in the prosecution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
  • 1953 – Red Scare: General Electric announces that all communist employees will be discharged from the company.
  • 1960 – The first episode of Coronation Street, the world’s longest-running television soap opera, is broadcast in the United Kingdom.
  • 1961 – Tanganyika becomes independent from Britain.
  • 1968 – Douglas Engelbart gave what became known as “The Mother of All Demos”, publicly debuting the computer mouse, hypertext, and the bit-mapped graphical user interface using the oN-Line System (NLS).
  • 1969 – US Secretary of State William P. Rogers proposes his plan for a ceasefire in the War of Attrition; Egypt and Jordan accept it over the objections of the PLO, which leads to civil war in Jordan in September 1970.
  • 1971 – Indo-Pakistani War: The Indian Air Force executes an airdrop of Indian Army units, bypassing Pakistani defences.
  • 1973 – British and Irish authorities sign the Sunningdale Agreement in an attempt to establish a power-sharing Northern Ireland Executive and a cross-border Council of Ireland.
  • 1979 – The eradication of the smallpox virus is certified, making smallpox the first of only two diseases that have been driven to extinction (rinderpest in 2011 being the other).
  • 1987 – Israeli–Palestinian conflict: The First Intifada begins in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
  • 1992 – American troops land in Somalia for Operation Restore Hope.
  • Armed Forces Day (Peru).
  • Navy Day (Sri Lanka).

People (Births)

  • 1752 – Antoine Étienne de Tousard, French general and engineer (d. 1813).
  • 1883 – Alexander Papagos, Greek general and politician, 152nd Prime Minister of Greece (d. 1955).
  • 1883 – Joseph Pilates, German-American fitness expert, developed Pilates (d. 1967).
  • 1906 – Grace Hopper, American admiral and computer scientist, designed COBOL (d. 1992).
  • 1911 – Ryūzō Sejima, Japanese colonel and businessman (d. 2007).
  • 1914 – Max Manus, Norwegian lieutenant (d. 1996).
  • 1916 – Jerome Beatty Jr., American soldier, journalist, and author (d. 2002).
  • 1926 – Lorenzo Wright, American sprinter and coach (d. 1972).
  • 1930 – Óscar Humberto Mejía Víctores, Guatemalan soldier and politician, 27th President of Guatemala (d. 2016).
  • 1933 – Milt Campbell, American decathlete and football player (d. 2012).
  • 1947 – Tom Daschle, American soldier, academic, and politician.
  • 1947 – Jaak Jõerüüt, Estonian politician, 24th Estonian Minister of Defence.
  • 1973 – Vénuste Niyongabo, Burundian runner.
  • 1980 – Ryder Hesjedal, Canadian cyclist.
  • 1982 – Tamilla Abassova, Russian cyclist.
  • 1982 – Nathalie De Vos, Belgian runner.
  • 1993 – Laura Smulders, Dutch cyclist.
  • 1995 – McKayla Maroney, American gymnast.
  • 1996 – MyKayla Skinner, American gymnast.

People (Deaths)

  • 730 – Al-Jarrah ibn Abdallah, Arab general.
  • 748 – Nasr ibn Sayyar, Umayyad general and politician (b. 663).
  • 1957 – Ali İhsan Sâbis, Turkish general (b. 1882).
  • 2001 – Michael Carver, Baron Carver, English field marshal (b. 1915).
  • 2003 – Paul Simon, American soldier, journalist, and politician, 39th Lieutenant Governor of Illinois (b. 1928).
  • 2008 – Yury Glazkov, Russian general, pilot, and astronaut (b. 1939).
  • 2012 – Patrick Moore, English lieutenant, astronomer, and educator (b. 1923).
  • 2013 – John Gabbert, American soldier, lawyer, and judge (b. 1909).

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