On This Day … 13 December

Events

  • 1577 – Sir Francis Drake sets sail from Plymouth, England, on his round-the-world voyage.
  • 1636 – The Massachusetts Bay Colony organises three militia regiments to defend the colony against the Pequot Indians.
    • This organisation is recognised today as the founding of the National Guard of the United States.
  • 1642 – Abel Tasman is the first recorded European to sight New Zealand.
  • 1643 – English Civil War: The Battle of Alton takes place in Hampshire.
  • 1758 – The English transport ship Duke William sinks in the North Atlantic, killing over 360 people.
  • 1862 – American Civil War: At the Battle of Fredericksburg, Confederate General Robert E. Lee defeats Union Major General Ambrose Burnside.
  • 1937 – Second Sino-Japanese War: Battle of Nanking: The city of Nanjing, defended by the National Revolutionary Army under the command of General Tang Shengzhi, falls to the Japanese. This is followed by the Nanking Massacre, in which Japanese troops rape and slaughter hundreds of thousands of civilians.
  • 1938 – The Holocaust: The Neuengamme concentration camp opens in the Bergedorf district of Hamburg, Germany.
  • 1939 – World War II: The Battle of the River Plate is fought off the coast of Uruguay; the first naval battle of World War II. The Kriegsmarine’s Deutschland-class cruiser (pocket battleship) Admiral Graf Spee engages with three Royal Navy cruisers: HMS Ajax, HMNZS Achilles and HMS Exeter.[2][3]
  • 1943 – World War II: The Massacre of Kalavryta by German occupying forces in Greece.
  • 1949 – The Knesset votes to move the capital of Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
  • 1960 – While Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia visits Brazil, his Imperial Bodyguard seizes the capital and proclaims him deposed and his son, Crown Prince Asfa Wossen, Emperor.
  • 1967 – Constantine II of Greece attempts an unsuccessful counter-coup against the Regime of the Colonels.
  • 1974 – Malta becomes a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations.
  • 1974 – In the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese forces launch their 1975 Spring Offensive (to 30 April 1975), which results in the final capitulation of South Vietnam.
  • 1981 – General Wojciech Jaruzelski declares martial law in Poland, largely due to the actions by Solidarity.
  • 1988 – PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat gives a speech at a UN General Assembly meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, after United States authorities refused to grant him a visa to visit UN headquarters in New York.
  • 1989 – The Troubles: Attack on Derryard checkpoint: The Provisional Irish Republican Army launches an attack on a British Army temporary vehicle checkpoint near Rosslea, Northern Ireland. Two British soldiers are killed and two others are wounded.
  • 2003 – Iraq War: Operation Red Dawn: Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is captured near his home town of Tikrit.
  • Sailor’s Day (Brazil).
  • Martial Law Victims Remembrance Day (Poland).
  • Nanking Massacre Memorial Day (China).

People (Births)

  • 1856 – Svetozar Boroević, Croatian-Austrian field marshal (d. 1920).
  • 1887 – Alvin C. York, American colonel, Medal of Honour recipient (d. 1964).
  • 1906 – Laurens van der Post, South African-English soldier and author (d. 1996).
  • 1919 – Hans-Joachim Marseille, German captain and pilot (d. 1942).
  • 1984 – Hanna-Maria Seppälä, Finnish freestyle swimmer; 2003 world champion in the 100 m freestyle.
  • 1989 – Hellen Obiri, Kenyan runner; twice world champion in the 5000 metres event.

People (Deaths)

  • 1721 – Alexander Selkirk, Scottish sailor, both privateer and Royal Navy officer (b. 1676).
  • 1814 – Charles-Joseph, 7th Prince of Ligne, Belgian-Austrian field marshal (b. 1735).
  • 1862 – Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb, American general, lawyer, and politician (b. 1823).
  • 1945 – Irma Grese, German concentration camp guard (b. 1923).
  • 1945 – Josef Kramer, German concentration camp commandant (b. 1906).
  • 1945 – Elisabeth Volkenrath, Polish-German concentration camp supervisor (b. 1919).
  • 1969 – Raymond A. Spruance, American admiral and diplomat, United States Ambassador to the Philippines (b. 1886).
  • 1998 – Richard Thomas, Royal Naval Officer (b. 1922).
  • 2018 – Noah Klieger, Holocaust survivor who became an award-winning Israeli journalist (b. 1926).
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