This Day in History – December 25

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Canadians forced to surrender in Hong Kong on Christmas Day
Canadians forced to surrender in Hong Kong on Christmas Day

Canadians forced to surrender in Hong Kong on Christmas Day
Canadians forced to surrender in Hong Kong on Christmas Day

THUNDER BAY – December 25, Christmas Day this day in history.

Canadians in Hong Kong were forced to surrender on Dec. 25, 1941 after two and a half weeks of hard fighting.

Canadian and other Allied soldiers fought bravely in the defence of Hong Kong during the Second World War but they were greatly outnumbered by the Japanese attackers. After two and a half weeks of hard fighting, the defenders were forced to surrender on Christmas Day 1941. The surviving Canadians would become prisoners of war and spend the remainder of the conflict–almost four long years–living in harsh camps and performing forced labour. Pictured are Canadian and British POWs in Hong Kong just before their long-awaited liberation in 1945.

Photo: Library and Archives Canada

  • 333 – Roman Emperor Constantine the Great elevates his youngest son Constans to the rank of Caesar.
  • 336 – First documentary sign of Christmas celebration in ancient Rome
  • 350 – Vetranio meets Constantius II at Naissus (Serbia) and is forced to abdicate his title (Caesar). Constantius allows him to live as a private citizen on a state pension.
  • 496 – Clovis I, king of the Franks, is baptized into the Catholic faith at Reims, by Saint Remigius.
  • 597 – Augustine of Canterbury and his fellow-labourers baptise in Kent more than 10,000 Anglo-Saxons.
  • 800 – Coronation of Charlemagne as Holy Roman Emperor, in Rome.
  • 1000 – The foundation of the Kingdom of Hungary: Hungary is established as a Christian kingdom by Stephen I of Hungary.
  • 1025 – Coronation of Mieszko II Lambert as King of Poland
  • 1066 – William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy is crowned king of England, at Westminster Abbey, London.
  • 1076 – Coronation of Bolesław II the Generous as king of Poland.
  • 1100 – Baldwin of Boulogne is crowned the first King of Jerusalem in the Church of the Nativity.
  • 1130 – Count Roger II of Sicily is crowned the first King of Sicily.
  • 1261 – John IV Laskaris of the restored Eastern Roman Empire is deposed and blinded by orders of his co-ruler Michael VIII Palaiologos.
  • 1492 – Carrack Santa María captained by Christopher Columbus runs onto reefs off Haiti due to a proper watch not being kept. Local natives help to save food, armory and ammunition but not the ship.
  • 1553 – Battle of Tucapel: Mapuche rebels under Lautaro defeat the Spanish conquistadors and executes the governor of Chile, Pedro de Valdivia.
  • 1643 – Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean found and named by Captain William Mynors of the English East India Company vessel, the Royal Mary.
  • 1776 – George Washington and the Continental Army cross the Delaware River at night to attack Hessian forces serving Great Britain at Trenton, New Jersey, the next day.
  • 1809 – Dr. Ephraim McDowell performs the first ovariotomy, removing a 22 pound tumor.
  • 1814 – Rev. Samuel Marsden holds the first Christian service on land in New Zealand at Rangihoua Bay.
  • 1815 – The Handel and Haydn Society, oldest continuously performing arts organization in the United States, gives its first performance.
  • 1826 – The Eggnog Riot at the United States Military Academy concludes after beginning the previous evening.
  • 1837 – Second Seminole War: American general Zachary Taylor leads 1100 troops against the Seminoles at the Battle of Lake Okeechobee.
  • 1868 – United States President Andrew Johnson grants unconditional pardon to all Civil War Confederate soldiers.
  • 1926 – Emperor Taishō of Japan dies. His son, Prince Hirohito, succeeds him as Emperor Shōwa.
  • 1927 – The Vietnamese Nationalist Party is founded.
  • 1932 – A magnitude 7.6 earthquake in Gansu, China kills 275 people.
  • 1941 – Admiral Chester W. Nimitz arrives at Pearl Harbor to assume command of the U.S. Pacific Fleet
  • 1941 – World War II: Battle of Hong Kong ends, beginning the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong.
  • 1941 – Admiral Émile Muselier seizes the archipelago of Saint Pierre and Miquelon, which become the first part of France to be liberated by the Free French Forces.
  • 1946 – The first in Europe artificial, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction is initiated within Soviet F-1 nuclear reactor.
  • 1947 – The Constitution of the Republic of China goes into effect.
  • 1950 – The Stone of Scone, traditional coronation stone of British monarchs, is taken from Westminster Abbey by Scottish nationalist students. It later turns up in Scotland on April 11, 1951.
  • 1963 – Turkish Cypriot Bayrak Radio begins transmitting in Cyprus after Turkish Cypriots are forcibly excluded from Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation.
  • 1965 – The Yemeni Nasserist Unionist People’s Organisation is founded in Ta’izz
  • 1968 – Apollo program: Apollo 8 performs the very first successful Trans-Earth injection (TEI) maneuver, sending the crew and spacecraft on a trajectory back to Earth from Lunar orbit.
  • 1968 – Kilvenmani massacre, 44 Dalits (untouchables) burnt to death in Kizhavenmani village, Tamil Nadu, a retaliation for a campaign for higher wages by Dalit laborers.
  • 1974 – Cyclone Tracy devastates Darwin, Northern Territory Australia.
  • 1974 – Marshall Fields drives a vehicle through the gates of the White House, resulting in a four-hour standoff.
  • 1977 – Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin meets in Egypt with its president Anwar Sadat.
  • 1989 – Deposed President of Romania Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife, First-Deputy Prime-Minister Elena Ceaușescu are condemned to death and executed after a summary trial.
  • 1991 – Mikhail Gorbachev resigns as General Secretary of the Soviet Union (the union itself is dissolved the next day). Ukraine’s referendum is finalized and Ukraine officially leaves the Soviet Union.
  • 2000 – Russian President Vladimir Putin signs a bill into law that officially establishes a new National Anthem of Russia, with music adopted from the anthem of the Soviet Union that was composed by Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov.
  • 2003 – The ill-fated Beagle 2 probe, released from the Mars Express spacecraft on December 19, disappears shortly before its scheduled landing.
  • 2004 – Cassini orbiter releases Huygens probe which successfully landed on Saturn’s moon Titan on January 14, 2005.
  • 2009 – Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab unsuccessfully attempts a terrorist attack against the US while on board a flight to Detroit Metro Airport Northwest Airlines Flight 253
  • 2012 – An Antonov An-72 plane crashes close to the city of Shymkent, killing 27 people.