Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 12 December
National day of Kenya.
1642: Dutch navigator Abel Tasman discovered New Zealand.
1890: First electric underground train in the world opened in London.
1894: Japanese troops invaded Korea.
1901: The first transatlantic wireless message was sent from Cornwall, 1,800 miles to St John’s, Newfoundland, where it was received by Marconi. It was the letter “s”.
1911: King George V was crowned Emperor of India and founded New Delhi to replace Calcutta as the Indian capital.
1915: The German Junkers J1, the first all-metal aeroplane, was test flown at Dessau.
1917: A train carrying French troops home from Italy crashed at Modane, France, after a brake failure. The death toll was reported to be 543 – the world’s worst railway accident to that date.
1920: Martial law was declared in Cork, Ireland.
1925: The world’s first motel opened in California.
1941: Soviet forces launched their first major counter-attack against the German invasion.
1948: Conscription was introduced in Britain for men aged between 18 and 26.
1955: The hovercraft, or air cushion vehicle, was patented in Britain by Christopher Cockerell.
1963: Kenya attained independence, with Jomo Kenyatta as first prime minister.
1969: Greece, under fire on charges of violating human rights, withdrew from Council of Europe.
1977: Women were elected to Jockey Club for first time.
1982: Mass protest at Greenham Common by 20,000 women at the deployment of American nuclear cruise missiles in Berkshire. The women clasped hands to encircle the airbase.
1988: A train crash at Clapham Junction killed 36 people and injured 113 when a packed commuter train hit the rear of another train.
1992: The Princess Royal married Commander Tim Laurence.
1996: Thomas “TC” Campbell was freed pending an appeal after serving 12 years of a life sentence for murder of six members of a family in Glasgow ice-cream wars.
2000: The United States Supreme Court released its decision in Bush versus Gore, which would lead to the former becoming US president.
2007: Al-Qaeda car bombers killed 67 people in two explosions in Algiers, destroying United Nations offices and targeting a bus full of students outside the supreme court.
Tracy Austin, tennis player and commentator, 51; Honor Blackman, actress and Fairtrade campaigner, 86; Lionel Blair, dancer and entertainer, 82; Jasper Conran, fashion designer, 54; Kenneth Cranham, Dunfermline-born actor, 69; Jim Davidson, comedian, 60; David Elsworth, racehorse trainer, 74; Emerson Fittipaldi, motor racing driver, 67; Connie Francis, singer, 75; Bill Nighy, actor, 64; Brough Scott MBE, television racing presenter, 71; Dionne Warwick, singer, 73.
Births: 1731 Erasmus Darwin, scientist and poet; 1821 Gustave Flaubert, novelist; 1863 Edvard Munch, Norwegian artist; 1915 Frank Sinatra, singer and actor; 1929 John Osborne, playwright.
Deaths: 1600 John Craig, Kirk leader; 1889 Robert Browning, poet; 1977 Lady Spencer-Churchill, widow of Sir Winston; 1999 Joseph Heller, author (Catch-22); 2008 Van Johnson, film actor; 2011 John Gardner CBE, composer.