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23rd December

1777 * Alexander I, Tsar of Russia whose armies fought Napoleon Bonaparte.

1805 * Joseph Smith, US leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons).

1834 English architect, Joseph Hansom, patented the Hansom cab.

1888 * Joseph Rank, English film magnate.

1888 Vincent Van Gogh, suffering severe depression, cut off one of his ears.

1905 The first ever Beauty Contest final was held at Newcastle upon Tyne.

1918 * Helmut Schmidt, West German Chancellor in 1974.

1922 The BBC began daily news broadcasts.

1948 Japanese Prime Minister Hideki Tojo hanged for war crimes in Sugamo Prison, Tokyo.

1956 The United Nations Emergency Force took over in Egypt after British and French forces withdraw from Port Said.

1964 Dr Richard Beeching who instigated major and controversial changes to the rail network quit.

1972 Ten thousand people were feared dead after a two-hour earthquake ripped through the Nicaraguan capital, Managua.

1973 The Shah of Iran announced that his country would increase oil prices by 100%.

1986 Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager completed the first non-stop, around-the-world flight without refuelling in Voyager.

1986 The Soviet Union's most prominent dissident, Andrei Sakharov, returned to Moscow after almost seven years of internal exile.

1992 The BBC investigated a leak which led to the Queen's Christmas speech being published in a national newspaper.

xxxx * = Date of birth

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