On this day: Apollo 17 splashed down in Pacifc

NASA astronaut Eugene Cernan, Commander of the Apollo 17, is welcomed back to Earth. Picture: Getty
NASA astronaut Eugene Cernan, Commander of the Apollo 17, is welcomed back to Earth. Picture: Getty
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Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 19 December


1154: Henry II became King of England on the death of Stephen.

1688: William of Orange entered London.

1783: William Pitt the Younger became prime minister of Britain at the age of 24.

1842: United States recognised independence of Hawaii.

1846: James Robertson, a London dentist, performed the frst dental extraction under anaesthesia in Britain, to test reports of the success of using ether in America.

1939: German luxury liner Columbus was scuttled by her crew after being intercepted by a British destroyer.

1941: Adolf Hitler, facing military setbacks, dismissed his chief of staff and took personal command of German army.

1957: Passenger fights between London and Moscow began.

1971: Pakistan’s president, Agha Mohammed Yahya Khan, quit offce after military defeat in fghting with India in East Pakistan.

1972: US Apollo 17 spacecraft splashed down in Pacifc Ocean, winding-up Apollo programme of landing men on Moon.

1981: The Penlee lifeboat was lost with her crew of eight attempting to rescue the crew of the coaster Union Star, wrecked in violent seas off the Cornish.

1984: Ted Hughes was appointed Poet Laureate in succession to Sir John Betjeman.

1989: The Prince of Wales condemned the “wasteland of banality, cliche and casual obscenity” in modern English.

1989: The government agreed to pay £150m compensation to Barlow Clowes investors.

1990: Seven George Medals were awarded, two posthumously, for bravery during Piper Alpha disaster.

1991: Twelve Tory MPs, including Margaret Thatcher, abstained from voting to support the government after a debate on the Maastricht summit.

1996: The Duke of Edinburgh caused an outcry among gun law reformers and Dunblane massacre families when he said that gun clubs were no more dangerous than squash clubs or golf clubs. He later apologised.

1998: The US House of Representatives forwarded articles I and III of impeachment against president Bill Clinton to the Senate in relation to the Lewinsky scandal.

2009: Around 2,500 people spent hours trapped inside the Channel Tunnel after fve Eurostar trains broke down due to cold weather .


Jennifer Beals, actress, 50; Béatrice Dalle, actress, 49; Jake Gyllenhaal, actor, 33; Steven Isserlis CBE, cellist, 55; Sam Kelly, actor , 70; Limahl (Christopher Hamill), singer , 55; Syd Little, comedian, 71; Tim Parks, novelist, 59; Karen Pickering, swimmer , 42; Ricky Ponting, Test cricketer, 39; Professor Christopher Smout CBE, director , Institute for Environmental History, St Andrews University 1992-2001, and Historiographer Royal in Scotland, 80.


Births: 1790 Sir William Edward Parry, Arctic explorer; 1895 Baron Rowallan, Chief Scout; 1902 Sir Ralph Richardson, actor; 1906 Leonid Brezhnev, Soviet Communist Party chief; 1915 Edith Giovanna Gassion (Edith Piaf), singer; 1922 Eamonn Andrews, television and presenter. Deaths: 17 41 Vitus Bering, discoverer of various seas, straits and islands that bear his name; 1848 Emily Brontë, poet and novelist; 1851 Joseph Mallord William Turner, painter; 2010 Anthony Howard CBE, journalist.