On this day in history… 24th December

Christmas Eve is a major date in most people’s calendars, whether or not you are celebrating a traditional Yuletide. Whilst for many, it might be fair to say that the most important 24th December took place all those years ago in a manger, since then there have been numerous events, births and deaths on the same date that have also been of historical interest.

In 1814, for example, the Treaty of Ghent was signed, which ended the war of 1812 in which the US and the UK fought each other over territory and trade restrictions. A century later in 1914 and Christmas Eve saw the beginning of the famous ‘Christmas Truce’ during World War I in which soldiers previously fighting along the Western Front took a break to exchange Christmas pleasantries and even gifts. During World War II a number of important events took place on 24th December, including the conquering of Kuching by Japanese forces in 1941 and the appointment of U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower as the Supreme Allied Commander in 1943. In 1968 on Christmas Eve Apollo 8 entered orbit around the moon, with the crew becoming the first human beings in history to do so, and in 1980 on this day, residents living in and around ‘Britain’s Roswell’ (Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk) reported unexplained lights that many attributed to UFOs.

On 24th December 1745, Benjamin Rush who was an American physician and signer of the United States Declaration of Independence was born, and on the same day in 1894 both the French pilot Georges Guynemer and Jack Thayer, who survived the sinking of the Titanic, were born. Max Miedinger, who created the much loved Helvetica font was born in 1910 on Christmas Eve and the legendary Ava Gardner arrived in 1922. British politician Ed Milliband was introduced to the world for the first time on 24th December 1969, with the singer Ricky Martin following in 1971 and Estonian triple and long jumper Jaanus Uudmäe in 1980. In terms of those who have passed on Christmas Eves over the years, the English composer John Dunstaple died on Christmas Eve in 1453 and François Darlan in 1942 (he was a French navy officer and the 122nd Prime Minister of France). Burt Baskin, founder of Baskin Robbins ice cream died on this day in 1967, followed later by the Nobel Prize laureate Harold Pinter in 2008.

Anyone who loves to metal detect naturally has an interest in history and these events show just how much has happened on this date over the years. It makes you wonder what we can expect from Christmas Eves to come…

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Guest Post: WWI Artifacts

WW1 ArtifactsThe archaeology of World War One has become increasing popular, both inside the metal detector community and without, and finds from this period often gain mass media coverage thanks to their uniqueness and national interest. This will undoubtedly increase with the coming of the centenary anniversary of this conflict next year in 2014 when the eyes of the world will once again be on the areas of Europe that were affected by this significant conflict. Read more of this post

On this day in history… 13th December

It is always interesting to think about our calendar and the fact that the same days come around each year. With that in mind, looking back across the centuries, 13th December has been a pretty interesting day in world history, both in terms of world events, as well as births and deaths.

In 1577, for example, legendary adventurer Sir Francis Drake set sail from Plymouth at the start of his round the world voyage that would last for three years and take him to locations as diverse as South America and Africa. On the same day in 1642 Dutch explorer Abel Tasman reached New Zealand – the first European to reach the area now known as Tasmania. In 1643 in the UK the Battle of Alton took place in Hampshire, when Parliamentary forces serving under Sir William Waller launched a surprise attack on the troops of the Earl of Crawford. On 13th December in 1862, the Battle of Fredericksburg took place in the US with the Confederate General Robert E. Lee defeating the Union Major General Ambrose Burnside.

Between 1938 and 1945 there were numerous World War II related events that took place on 13th December, including the opening of Neuengamme concentration camp in 1938 and the declaration of war on the United States made by the Kingdom of Hungary and Kingdom of Romania in 1941. In more recent times, the third and final moonwalk of Apollo 17 took place on 13th December in 1972 and in 2003 Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was captured near Tikrit in Operation Red Dawn.

Austrian-Hungarian field marshal Svetozar Boroević was born on 13th December 1856, with Philo McGiffin – who was the first American naval officer to be in command of a modern warship in battle time – born on the same day in 1860. The Spanish guitarist and composer Carlos Montoya was born on this date in 1903 and the US Secretary of State George P. Shultz in 1920. Dick Van Dyke’s birthday is also this day (he was born in 1925) and actor Robert Lindsay followed in 1949. Singer Taylor Swift was born in 1989 on 13th December, the same year as Katherine Schwarzenegger, daughter of Arnold. Those who shuffled off this mortal coil include the painter and sculptor Donatello who died in 1466 on this date, Nobel prize laureate Victor Grignard who passed in 1935 and American writer Henry James who died in 1947. Finally, New Zealand rugby player John Drake died on 13th December 2008 and the French mountaineer Maurice Herzog in 2012.

It is fascinating to think about just how much has happened on this one day over the years. Of course it’s even more exciting to think about how evidence of these events might still be waiting out there to be discovered by a someone with a keen eye and a metal detector…

Guest Post: A Batch of Finds – Part II

Metal Detecting FindsIn the first part of these blogs I explained how, when I became seriously ill with a degenerative neurological disorder I decided to take up detecting to give me a reason to keep active.

At the beginning of 2012 I was again feeling the strain of my illness but was still not in that wheelchair. Whilst the initial Fisher CZ-7a Quicksilver I had purchased was working well, the technology was a little outdated and I wanted something a bit more contemporary. My wife told me about the Joan Allen website whilst browsing online and downloaded it for me to look at during the days of sitting in the house. She also mentioned she had entered me in a competition on the site to win a detector, at the same time telling me not to hold my breath, as there were many entries. Read more of this post