December 14, 1911 A five-man team led by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen become the first men to arrive at the South Pole. Amundsen, along with Olav Bjaaland, Helmer Hanssen, Sverre Hassel and Oscar Wisting had set out from their base camp in the Bay of Whales on October 19. They took with them four sledges and 52 dogs. Another team led by Robert F. Scott was racing Amundsen’s group to be the the first to the Pole. They reached their destination more than a month after Amundsen. None survived the journey back. Amundsen’s team however, perhaps buoyed by their achievement, all returned safely, with 11 dogs.
Also on December 14: death of 1st US president, George Washington (1799); the Soviet Union is expelled from the League of Nations for attacking Finland (1939); Eugene Cernan becomes the last person to walk on the moon (1972); signing of the Dayton peace agreement to end the conflict in the former Yugoslavia (1995); opening of the world’s tallest bridge, the Millau viaduct in France (2004).
Born on December 14: Nostradamus (1503), Jane Birkin (1946), Dilma Rousseff (1947), Michael Owen (1979).
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