Home Decades 1950s 1956

1956

January

01 – Sudan becomes an independent Republic.

03 – USSR gives technical aid to China.

03 – Movie star Mel Gibson is born in New York.

05 – Prince Rainier III of Monaco announces his engagement to actress Grace Kelly.

12 – More British troops arrive in Cyprus.

13 – Anti-US rioters burn down an American hospital in Jordan.

17 – Nasser assumes full executive powers in Egypt.

19 – BEA now flies from London to Paris for £10, to Milan for £27 and to Zurich for £20 10/-

28 – Elvis Presley makes his first appearance on national US television on The Dorsey Brothers Show.

31 – John Lydon (Sex Pistols and PiL) is born.

February

11 – Maltese referendum favours integration with Britain.

12 – Missing British diplomats Burgess and Maclean appear in Moscow and make a statement.

14 – Nikita Khrushchev denounces the policies of Stalin at the 20th Communist Party Conference.

16 – British parliament votes to abolish the death penalty.

21 – The Duke of Edinburgh announces an award scheme in Britain for enterprising young people.

22 – Newcastle United beat Portsmouth 2-0 in the first league match to be played under floodlights.

23 – The West German army bans the goose step.

29 – The US Federal Court rules that the University of Alabama must re-admit Autherine Lucy, its first black student.

March

01 – University of Alabama expels its first black student, Autherine Lucy, claiming she made false charges.

02 – France recognises the independence of Morocco and Tunisia.

04 – US singer Johnnie Ray is rescued semi-conscious from a wild crowd of 4,000 at Sydney Airport in Australia.

09 – In Cyprus, Britain deports Archbishop Makarios to the Seychelles.

10 – A Fairey Delta 2 research aircraft flown by Peter Twiss sets a new world speed record of 1,132 mph.

18 – A massive airlift of French troops to Algeria begins.

20 – France recognises the independence of Tunisia.

20 – Rioting Turks loot Greek shops in Cyprus.

22 – The Reverend Dr Martin Luther King vows to continue the fight for black rights in the US, using “passive resistance and the weapon of love”.

23 – Sudan becomes an independent republic.

29 – Pakistan is declared an Islamic Republic.

April

01 – The first British civilian is murdered by EOKA terrorists in Cyprus.

01 – The first American U-2 spy plane arrives at RAF Lakenheath.

10 – White men drag Nat King Cole off the stage as he sings to a white audience in Birmingham, Alabama.

11 – The French government dissolves the Algerian parliament.

16 – Bulgarian Premier Vulko Chervenkov is forced to resign in an anti-Stalinist purge.

18 – Actress Grace Kelly marries Prince Rainier III of Monaco and becomes Princess Grace (pictured below).

princessgracewedding

18 – Bulganin and Khrushchev visit Britain.

22 – The 2i’s coffee bar opens in Old Compton Street, London, and begins to feature skiffle sessions.

22 – Newly independent Morocco joins the United Nations.

23 – City Bus Lines in Montgomery, Alabama, order an end to segregated seating on their buses.

27 – Undefeated in his 49 professional bouts, world heavyweight boxing champion Rocky Marciano retires from the ring and renounces his title. Later in the year, 21-year old Floyd Patterson becomes the youngest champion when he knocks out Archie Moore.

May

03 – A new range of mountains is discovered in Antarctica with two peaks of over 13,000 feet.

08 – John Osborne’s groundbreaking play Look Back In Anger marks a new era of political theatre in the UK.

13 – Stirling Moss wins his second Grand Prix, in Monaco.

14 – USSR complains about US aircraft overflying their territory.

14 – The British government admits that naval diver Commander Lionel “Buster” Crabb was carrying out trials of ‘certain equipment’ near the Soviet ship Ordzhonikidze in Portsmouth Harbour during the visit by Nikita Khrushchev. Crabb disappeared during the operation and is presumed drowned. His headless body will be discovered in 1957.

16 – Britain explodes an atomic device on the Montebello Islands off the north-west coast of Australia.

18 – A party of 19 French soldiers who went missing on patrol in Algeria are found decapitated and hacked to bits near the tents of Arab nomads.

21 – The US drops their first plane-loaded H-bomb over Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific.

23 – The government in Cyprus announces everyone over the age of 12 is to get an identity card.

24 – Lys Assia wins the inaugural Eurovision Song Contest for Switzerland.

June

01 – Shepilov succeeds Molotov as Soviet Foreign Minister.

02 – In Britain, 3rd class is abolished on trains and re-named 2nd class.

06 – Swedish tennis player Bjorn Borg is born.

06 – ‘Lavandin’ wins the Derby.

09 – Eisenhower undergoes emergency surgery for an intestinal obstruction.

10 – A Peronist revolt in Argentina is crushed. 26 revolt leaders are executed.

13 – The last British troops leave the Suez Canal zone and hand control over to Egypt.

16 – A terrorist bomb explodes in a restaurant in Cyprus killing the US Vice Consul.

19 – A second British nuclear bomb test takes place on the Montebello Islands off Western Australia.

23 – Colonel Nasser is elected president of Egypt.

24 – 26 die in the crash of a BOAC airliner in Nigeria.

28 – Tanks are called out during riots in Poznan, Poland. 38 people die and 270 are wounded.

28 – The House of Commons votes to end capital punishment in the UK but the decision is overruled by the House of Lords on 10 July.

29 – Marilyn Monroe marries playwright Arthur Miller in White Plains, New York.

29 – Martial Law is imposed in the Polish city of Poznan after riots which leave 38 dead.

30 – Two US airliners collide in a thunderstorm in Arizona with the loss of 128 lives. The wreckage is found in the Grand Canyon.

July

09 – Bill Haley & The Comets are banned by the Jersey City authorities from playing the “Rock & Roll Under The Stars” concert at Jersey’s Roosevelt Stadium.

09 – American actor Tom Hanks is born in California.

21 – The World Bank follows Britain and the US in refusing to help fund the Aswan Dam in Egypt.

26 – The Egyptian government seizes the Anglo-French-controlled Suez Canal in direct breach of a 1954 agreement.

26 – The 29,083-tonne Italian liner Andrea Doria sinks after colliding with the 11,644-tonne Swedish liner Stockholm about 60 miles south of Massachusetts.

28 – The British government freezes all Egyptian assets held in Britain.

30 – Turkish prime minister Adnan Menderes says he wants Britain to stay in Cyprus.

30 – British PM Sir Anthony Eden tells Nasser he cannot have the Suez Canal and imposes an arms embargo on Egypt.

August

04 – British paratroopers sail for Cyprus aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Theseus.

06 – 2,000 die in a typhoon that hit the Chekiang area of China.

08 – 250 men are trapped by fire in a Belgian colliery.

11 – US abstract artist Jackson Pollock (44) dies after his speeding car crashes into a tree.

14 – German playwright Berthold Brecht dies.

16 – Horror movie star Bela Lugosi dies in Los Angeles.

22 – John Harding, Governor of Cyprus, offers surrender terms to EOKA, but they are refused.

September

08 – State of emergency is declared in Clinton, Tennessee, as violence grows towards blacks trying to go to school.

08 – St George defeats Balmain 18-12 in the Australian Rugby League Grand Final before a record crowd of 61,987.

10 – Nasser rejects proposals for Suez Canal.

10 – Elvis Presley performs on the Ed Sullivan Show and is watched by 82% of US television viewers.
11 – President Eisenhower tells southern states to end schools segregation.

16 – The first regular TV service is launched in Australia by TCN-9 at 7:00 pm.

21 – Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza is assassinated. His son Luis Somoza takes over.

21 – Riots ensue in Oslo, Norway after Rock Around The Clock is screened. Police use batons to contain 600 youths.

23 – Britain and France go to UN Security Council about Suez.

25 – The Transatlantic telephmaralinga_1956one service comes into operation via a cable laid on the Atlantic Ocean bed.

28 – American air pioneer William Edward Boeing (b. 1881) dies.

29 – Britain explodes an atom bomb at Maralinga in South Australia (pictured at right).

29 – British athlete Seb Coe is born.

October

01 – 15 nations form the Suez Canal Users Association.

07 – American frozen food pioneer Clarence Birdseye dies.

10 – Mobs attack Europeans in Hong Kong as anti-British riots break out in mainland Kowloon.

10 – The New York Yankees win their 17th World Series, defeating the Brooklyn Dodgers.

15 – The Royal Air Force retires its last Lancaster bomber, now used for training.

17 – First large-scale nuclear power station opens at Calder Hall, Cumberland, England.

18 – Tennis superstar Martina Navratilova is born in Prague.

21 – Actress Carrie Fisher is born in Los Angeles.

23 – Hungarian students and workers begin pro-democracy demonstrations demanding the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary.

24 – Demonstrations in Hungary escalate into civil war and the government declare martial law. Soviet tanks surround Budapest and reinforcements begin massing near the border.

25 – Hungarian security forces open fire on demonstrators in front of the Hungarian parliament building, killing some 600 people. Soviet tanks and troops enter the city.

25 – 15 die in anti-British riots in Singapore.

27 – Hungarian Prime Minister Imre Nagy forms a new government, promising democratic reforms and Soviet withdrawal.

28 – Nagy orders a cease-fire and restores calm in Hungary.

29 – Soviet troops leave Budapest.

29 – Israel makes a pre-emptive strike in Sinai and invades Egypt.

31 – Britain and France bombard the Suez Canal zone ahead of an invasion in early November.

November

01 – Soviet reinforcements cross the border into Hungary and begin moving towards Budapest. Prime Minister Imre Nagy announces Hungary’s withdrawal from the Warsaw Pact, declaring the country independent and neutral.

02 – Hungarian PM Nagy appeals to the United Nations for assistance.

03 – ‘Evening Peal’ wins the Melbourne Cup.

03 – Israeli troops now control Gaza and Sinai.

04 – The USSR vetoes a UN resolution calling for it to withdraw from Hungary. The Soviet army re-enters Budapest and completely crushes the uprising. The Hungarian government is arrested.

06 – Eisenhower is re-elected as president of the USA for a second term, defeating Adlai E Stevenson. He becomes the first Republican president to win re-election since William McKinley in 1900.

06 – Anglo-French forces gain control of the Suez Canal Zone, allowing UN troops to maintain peace.

07 – Britain and France cease-fire in Egypt. Their troops will remain in place until an international force arrives to take over.

canal1956

13 – Racial segregation on buses is declared unconstitutional by US Supreme Court.

22 – XVIth Olympic Games is opened in Melbourne, Australia, by the Duke of Edinburgh.

30 – Refugees from the Hungarian uprising and the brutal Soviet repression pour across the Austrian border.

December

02 – Fidel Castro lands in Cuba to start a guerrilla war against the Batista regime.

05 – Defence barrister Rose Heilbron is appointed the UK’s first female judge.

05 – Paul Spaak is appointed Secretary-General of NATO.

08 – XVI Olympic Games end in Melbourne, Australia.

10 – Hungary is put under Soviet military law.

13 – The US Supreme Court rules unconstitutional the Alabama state law which requires blacks to travel in the rear of vehicles used for public transport. Reverend Martin Luther King begins his fight for black civil rights.

18 – Japan joins United Nations.

20 – Israel says it will not return Gaza to Egypt.

22 – Last French and British troops leave Port Said.

27 – UN salvage fleet begins to clear Suez Canal of blockades.

31 – President Sukarno proclaims state of siege in Sumatra.

Quote of the year

“We are not at war with Egypt – we are in an armed conflict”.
Sir Anthony Eden on the Suez Crisis.

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