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This Day in History - 24th December


1914 World War 1 - Not a shot was fired, as German & British soldiers played football & handed out drinks, cigars & souvenirs. It was possibly the most poignant moment of the 'Great War' & for several days afterwards the two sides appeared reluctant to fire on the men they had met face to face. Will we ever learn from history of the futility of war?


1166 The birth of King John, youngest son of Henry II, who was forced by the barons to sign the Magna Carta. When he tried to revoke his authorization, civil war broke out. He was jokingly nicknamed 'Lackland' as it seemed unlikely that John would ever inherit substantial lands.


1650 Edinburgh Castle surrendered to troops commanded by Oliver Cromwell.


1814 The war of 1812 between the US and Britain was brought to an end with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent.


1828 William Burke who, with his partner William Hare, dug up the dead and murdered to sell the corpses for dissection, went on trial in Edinburgh. The other bodysnatcher, William Hare, had turned King’s evidence and was not therefore brought to trial.


1904 The London Coliseum opened with the first revolving stage in Britain.


1914 A German monoplane dropped a single bomb on Dover, the first ever to be dropped on British soil. It landed on a rectory garden lawn and blew out the house windows.


1922 The BBC broadcast 'The Truth About Father Christmas' by Phillis M Twigg, the first play written for radio in Britain.


1932 Colin Cowdrey, MCC President and former England test captain, was born. His career lasted from 1950 to 1976. He was the first cricketer to play in 100 Test matches and he toured Australia a record six times, between 1954-55 and 1974-75.


1965 A meteorite weighing about 100 lb (45kg) was the largest to fall on Britain and landed in the village of Barwell, Leicestershire.


1974 Former UK minister John Stonehouse was found in Australia after apparently faking his own death.


1979 The first European Ariane rocket was launched. It had been officially agreed upon at the end of 1973 after delicate discussions between France, Germany and Britain. The project was Western Europe's second attempt to develop its own launcher, following the unsuccessful Europa project.


1988 Three North Sea oil fields were shut down after a giant floating storage vessel, the Medora, broke free of its moorings in gale-force winds.


2013 Alan Turing, the World War Two codebreaker at Bletchley Park was granted a Royal pardon over his homosexuality conviction. The work done at Bletchley Park, particularly the codebreaking feats of Alan Turing, were credited with shortening the Second World War by several years. In August 2014 a film 'The Imitation Game' was released, based on the biography 'Alan Turing: The Enigma'.


2013 Several thousand passengers were stranded at Gatwick Airport following stormy weather. The airport said electricity sub-stations on the airfield had flooded with water from the River Mole.


2018 Christmas Eve - Because of ongoing major conservation work on Parliament's Elizabeth Tower, the bell of Rochdale Town Hall replaced the usual chimes of Big Ben on BBC Radio 4 news bulletins. The Rochdale bell was selected, in part, because it uses the same 'Westminster chime' as Big Ben.