Behind History For December 24
1906 – Radio: Reginald Fessenden transmits the 1st radio broadcast; consisting of a poetry reading, a violin solo, and a speech.
1911 – Lackawanna Cut-Off railway line opens in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
1913 – The Italian Hall disaster in Calumet, Michigan results in the deaths of 73 Christmas party participants (including 59 children) when someone falsely yells “fire”.
1914 – World War I: The “Christmas truce” begins.
1920 – Gabriele D’Annunzio surrendered the Italian Regency of Carnaro in the city of Fiume to Italian armed forces.
1924 – Albania becomes a republic.
1929 – Assassination attempt on Argentine President Hipólito Yrigoyen.
1929 – A four alarm fire breaks out in the West Wing of the White House in Washington, D.C.
1939 – World War II: Pope Pius XII makes a Christmas Eve appeal for peace.
1941 – World War II: Kuching is conquered by Japanese forces.
1941 – World War II: Benghazi is conquered by the British Eighth Army.
1942 – World War II: French monarchist, Fernand Bonnier de La Chapelle, assassinates Vichy French Admiral François Darlan in Algiers, Algeria.
1943 – World War II: U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower is named Supreme Allied Commander for the Invasion of Normandy.
1945 – Five of nine children become missing after their home in Fayetteville, West Virginia, is burned down.
1951 – Libya becomes independent. Idris I is proclaimed King of Libya.
1952 – First flight of Britain’s Handley Page Victor strategic bomber.
1953 – Tangiwai disaster: In New Zealand’s North Island, at Tangiwai, a railway bridge is damaged by a lahar and collapses beneath a passenger train, killing 151 people.
1964 – Vietnam War: Viet Cong operatives bomb the Brinks Hotel in Saigon, South Vietnam to demonstrate they can strike an American installation in the heavily guarded capital.
1964 – Flying Tiger Line Flight 282 crashes after takeoff from San Francisco International Airport, killing three.
1966 – A Canadair CL-44 chartered by the United States military crashes into a small village in South Vietnam, killing 129.
1968 – Apollo program: The crew of Apollo 8 enters into orbit around the Moon, becoming the first humans to do so. They performed ten lunar orbits and broadcast live TV pictures.
1969 – Nigerian troops capture Umuahia, the Biafran capital.
1973 – District of Columbia Home Rule Act is passed, allowing residents of Washington, D.C. to elect their own local government.
1974 – Cyclone Tracy devastates Darwin, Australia.
1980 – Witnesses report the first of several sightings of unexplained lights near RAF Woodbridge, in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, England, United Kingdom, an incident called “Britain’s Roswell”.
1994 – Air France Flight 8969 is hijacked on the ground at Houari Boumediene Airport by Armed Islamic Group (GIA) of Algeria. Over the course of three days three passengers are killed, as are all four terrorists.
1997 – The Sid El-Antri massacre in Algeria kills between 50 and 100 people.
1999 – Indian Airlines Flight 814 is hijacked in Indian airspace between Kathmandu, Nepal, and Delhi, India. The aircraft landed at Kandahar in Afghanistan. The incident ended on December 31 with the release of 190 survivors (one passenger is killed).
2003 – The Spanish police thwart an attempt by ETA to detonate 50 kg of explosives at 3:55 p.m. inside Madrid’s busy Chamartín Station.
2005 – Chad–Sudan relations: Chad declares a state of war against Sudan following a December 18 attack on Adré, which left about 100 people dead.
2008 – The Lord’s Resistance Army, a Ugandan rebel group, begins a series of attacks against civilians in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, massacring more than 400.
2018 – A helicopter crash kills Martha Érika Alonso, first female Governor of Puebla, Mexico, and her husband Rafael Moreno Valle Rosas, former governor.