Anniversaries: Christmas Eve

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Born this day: Galba, Roman emperor, 3BC; John Lackland, King of England, 1167; St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, 1491; William Warburton, bishop and scholar, 1698; George Crabbe, poet, 1754; Christopher ('Kit') Carson, trapper, scout and Indian agent, 1809; Henry Russell, singer, organist and composer, 1812; James Prescott Joule, physicist, 1818; Matthew Arnold, poet and critic, 1822; John, Viscount Morley, statesman and writer, 1838; George I, King of Greece, 1845; Louis Jouvet, actor and director, 1887; Michael Curtiz (Mihaly Kertesz), film director, 1888; Ruth Chatterton, actress, 1893; Harry Warren (Salvatore Guaragna), composer and pianist, 1893; Howard Robard Hughes, millionaire and recluse, 1905; Ava Lavinia Gardner (Lucy Johnson), actress, 1922.

Died this day: Leo V, Byzantine emperor, killed 820; Jean de Joinville, crusader and historian, 1317; John Dunstable, astrologer and composer, 1453; Vasco da Gama, explorer and navigator, 1524; Andreas von Karlstadt, preacher and reformer, 1541; James Smith, humorous poet (with his younger brother Horatio), 1939; William Makepeace Thackeray, novelist, 1863; Charles Mackay, poet and journalist, 1889; Frances Mary Buss, educationist, 1894; Leon Bakst (Lev Samoylovich Rosenberg), painter and stage designer, 1924; Alban Maria Johannes Berg, composer, 1935; Sir Charles Frederick Higham, advertising executive, 1938; Jean-Louis-Xavier-Francois Darlan, admiral and politician, assassinated 1942; Sir Richard Robert Cruise, surgeon-oculist to Queen Mary, 1946; Frank Richards (Charles Harold St John Hamilton), author and creator of 'Billy Bunter', 1961; Karl Doenitz, former naval commander, 1980; Alan Melville, writer, 1983; Peter Lawford, actor, 1984.

On this day: an attempt was made to assassinate Napoleon I, 1800; Britain's first self-propelled vehicle was tested by Richard Trevithick, 1801; the War of 1812 between Britain and the United States was ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent, 1814; William Burke, body-snatcher, went on trial, 1828; part of the Capitol, Washington, and almost the whole Library of Congress was destroyed by fire, 1851; Giuseppe Verdi's opera Aida was performed for the first time, Cairo 1871; Professor RA Fessendon in Canada made the first demonstration of transmitting the human voice by radio-telephone, 1906; Ahmed ben Zogu (later King Zog) overthrew the Albanian government and proclaimed a republic, 1924; British forces in North Africa gained control of Cyrenaica, 1941; General Eisenhower was appointed commander-in-chief of the Allied invasion forces, 1943; the Apollo 8 spacecraft orbited the moon and sent back a Christmas message, 1968.

Today is Christmas Eve and the Feast Day of St Adela, St Delphinus, St Gregory of Spoleto, St Irmina, St Sharbel Makhlouf and Saints Tharsilla and Emiliana.