14 fascinating and stimulating events that happened on December 21

A police officer walks by the nose of PanAm Flight 103 in a field near the Scottish town of Lockerbie after a bomb destroyed the plane.

A police officer walks by the nose of PanAm Flight 103 in a field near the Scottish town of Lockerbie after a bomb destroyed the plane.

Published Dec 21, 2022


Among the things that happened on this day in history, soviet strongman Josef Stalin, the man of steel, is born while the most audacious general of World War II dies following a car crash.

AD 69 The Roman Senate declares Vespasian the emperor of Rome – the last in the Year of the Four Emperors (Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and Vespasian).

1846 Anaesthesia is used for the first time during an operation at London’s University College Hospital by Robert Liston, who amputates the leg of a servant.

1879 Soviet leader Josef Stalin is born, as Iosif Dzhugashvili, in the village of Gori in Georgia.

1913 The first crossword puzzle (with 32 clues) is printed in the New York World.

1933 Fox Films signs Shirley Temple aged 5, to a studio contract.

1945 Flamboyant US General George Patton dies in Germany following a car accident. Buried in Luxembourg, ‘Old Blood and Guts’ once stated during the war, ‘We shall attack and attack until we are exhausted, and then we shall attack again.’

1967 Louis Washkansky, the first person to have a human-to-human heart transplant, dies in Cape Town, 18 days after the transplant.

1979 The Lancaster House Agreement – an independence agreement for Rhodesia – is signed in London by Lord Carrington, Sir Ian Gilmour, Robert Mugabe, Joshua Nkomo, Bishop Abel Muzorewa and SC Mundawarara.

1982 At the end of a 44-day inquest into the death in detention of the trade union leader Neil Aggett, the magistrate finds no one to blame. The verdict is greeted with astonishment and anger.

1988 Pan American Flight 103 explodes in midair when a terrorist bomb goes off, and it ploughs into the town of Lockerbie, Scotland. All 259 passengers and crew, along with 11 people on the ground, are killed.

1988 First flight of the Antonov An-225 Mriya, the largest aircraft in the world. Only one example of it takes to the skies, and it is destroyed during Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

1989 New Zealand is the first country to set a formal inflation target (0-2%) for how much prices should rise each year. Most developed countries adopt similar targets, as well as nations like Kazakhstan, Chile and Armenia, but not South Africa.

1990 Cricketing brothers Steve and Mark Waugh score 464 runs for New South Wales against Western Australia.

2012 Gangnam Style, by Psy, becomes the first video to reach one billion views on YouTube. | The Historian

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