FYI December 12 & 13, 2020

On This Day

1866 – Oaks explosion: The worst mining disaster in England kills 361 miners and rescuers.[5]
The Oaks explosion on 12 December 1866 killed 361 miners and rescuers at the Oaks Colliery at Hoyle Mill near Stairfoot in Barnsley, West Riding of Yorkshire. The disaster happened when a series of explosions caused by firedamp ripped through the workings. It is the worst mining accident in England and the second worst mining disaster in the United Kingdom, after the Senghenydd colliery disaster in Wales.


1294 – Saint Celestine V resigns the papacy after only five months to return to his previous life as an ascetic hermit.

Pope Celestine V (Latin: Caelestinus V; 1215 – 19 May 1296), born Pietro Angelerio (according to some sources Angelario, Angelieri, Angelliero, or Angeleri), also known as Pietro da Morrone, Peter of Morrone, and Peter Celestine, was pope for five months from 5 July to 13 December 1294, when he resigned. He was also a monk and hermit who founded the order of the Celestines as a branch of the Benedictine order.

He was elected pope in the Catholic Church’s last non-conclave papal election, ending a two-year impasse. Among the few edicts of his to remain in force was the confirmation of the right of the pope to abdicate; nearly all of his other official acts were annulled by his successor, Boniface VIII.[1] On 13 December 1294, a week after issuing the decree, Celestine resigned, stating his desire to return to his humble, pre-papal life. He was subsequently imprisoned by Boniface in the castle of Fumone in the Lazio region, in order to prevent his potential installation as antipope. He died in prison on 19 May 1296 at the age of 81.[1]

Celestine was canonized on 5 May 1313 by Pope Clement V. No subsequent pope has taken the name Celestine.


Born On This Day

1881 – Louise Thuliez, French school teacher, resistance fighter during World War I and World War II and author (d. 1966)[40]
Louise Thuliez (12 December 1881–10 October 1966) was a French school teacher, resistance fighter during World War I and World War II and author.

Life and career

Thuliez was born in Preux-au-Bois, northern France, on 12 December, 1881.[1]

When World War I broke out, Thuliez was working as a teacher in Saint-Waast-la Vallée. She then became part of an underground network that helped allied soldiers who were trapped behind enemy lines to get out of Belgium and into Holland. She worked closely with Edith Cavell, Philippe Baucq and Princess Marie of Croÿ.[2]

By the time German authorities closed in on the network, they had rescued around 200 soldiers.[3] Thuliez was the first to be arrested, along with Philippe Baucq on 31 July 1915. She was sentenced to death by German court martial[4] but the sentence was later reduced to life in prison due to the intervention of Alfonso XIII of Spain.[2] She was imprisoned in Saint-Gilles prison in Brussels and released on 8 November, 1918.[1]

Thuliez published a book in 1933[5] on her experiences in prison called, Condemned to Death which won a Montyon Prize in 1935.[6]

Thuliez worked with Princess Marie de Croÿ again during World War II. Thuliez helped Allied soldiers escape from the Auvergne region of occupied France while de Croÿ hid soldiers in a château in Bellignies.[7]

She died in Paris on 10 October, 1966.[1] In 1970, a statue of Thuliez was erected in Preux-au-Bois and a street in Paris was named after her in 1974.[2]

1908 – Elizabeth Alexander, British geologist, academic, and physicist (d. 1958)
Frances Elizabeth Somerville Alexander (née Caldwell; 13 December 1908 – 15 October 1958) was a British geologist, academic, and physicist, whose wartime work with radar and radio led to early developments in radio astronomy and whose post-war work on the geology of Singapore is considered a significant foundation to contemporary research. Alexander earned her PhD from Newnham College, Cambridge, and worked in Radio Direction Finding at Singapore Naval Base from 1938 to 1941. In January 1941, unable to return to Singapore from New Zealand, she became Head of Operations Research in New Zealand’s Radio Development Lab, Wellington. In 1945, Alexander correctly interpreted that anomalous radar signals picked up on Norfolk Island were caused by the sun. This interpretation became pioneering work in the field of radio astronomy, making her one of the first women scientists to work in that field, albeit briefly.[1]



Dame Georgina Mary Mace, DBE, FRS[2] (12 July 1953–19 September 2020)[1][3] was a British ecologist and conservation scientist. She was Professor of Biodiversity and Ecosystems at University College London, and previously Professor of Conservation Science and Director of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Centre for Population Biology, Imperial College London (2006–2012)[4] and Director of Science at the Zoological Society of London (2000–2006).[5][6][7]
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