December 19, 2018




Sinking of the HMS Stanley: On December 19,  1941 while on patrol with other escort carriers,  the HMS Stanley, on station astern of the convoy, reported the presence of another U-boat. Half an hour later U-574 scored a direct hit on her. Stanley exploded and sank (38°12′N 17°23′W) All except 25 crew members were lost.  Within 12 minutes, the sloop Stork responded and sank the submarine; 16 survivors were picked up.  Up until that fateful day, the HMS Stanley took part in sinking other U-boats (U-131 and U-134).


Polish Ambassador Defected to the US:  Romuald Spasowski, Polish ambassador to the United States requested aslym and defected to the US on December 19, 1981.  He had once been a fervent communist, but made the decision to defect the US when the Polish government authorities launched a brutal crackdown on the Solidarity movement.  The next day he told a worldwide radio audience that he had defected to show support for Solidarity and Lech Wałęsa. "The cruel night of darkness and silence was spread over my country," he said.  The Polish government confiscated his family's property,  denounced him as a traitor and condemned him to death in absentia. Throughout the 80s, Spasowski toured the United States denouncing the Communist regime in Poland and played a leading role in the U.S. Information Agency's anti-Communist television program, 'Let Poland Be Poland'.


Gorbachev Released Sakharov:   On December 19, 1986, Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Community Party of the Soviet Union, ordered the release of Andrei Skahrov and his wife Yelena Bonner. They were arrested on January 22, 1980 following Sakharov's public protests against the Russian government for its intervention in Afghanistan in 1979.  The couple was living in an apartment in a building in the Scherbinki district of Nizhny Novgorod (then known as city of Gorky). During this period they were under constant surveillance by the Soviet police, and their apartment subjected to searches and heists. His apartment is now a museum.

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