Home Decades 1950s 1950


US troops cross the 38th Parallel during the Korean War


01 – Radio Beijing announces that Tibet will shortly be “liberated”.

03 – Wafd Party wins Egyptian elections.

04 – Britain asks the US for a stockpile of atomic bombs.

05President Truman rules out military aid to the Nationalist Chinese.

06 – Britain formally recognises Maoist China.

10 – Russia walks out of United Nations in row over China.

12 – Death penalty is reintroduced in USSR.

18 – Seven people die in Australia in a cyclone stretching from Queensland to Sydney.

19 – Chinese leader Mao Tse-Tung recognises the North Vietnamese regime of Ho Chi Minh.

21 – British author George Orwell (born Eric Blair in 1903) dies after a three-year battle against tuberculosis. His last novel, 1984, published last summer was written in between periods spent in hospital.

21 – The Israeli Knesset passes a resolution making Jerusalem the capital city of the new state of Israel.

21 – Alger Hiss found guilty of two counts of perjury for having initially denied giving State Department papers to Communists in 1938.

Former State Department official Alger Hiss

21 – US scientists at Berkeley announce the discovery of Berkelium, the 93rd element.

24 – American Joey Maxim knocks out Britain’s Freddie Mills for the world light-heavyweight boxing title.

26 – India is proclaimed a republic after nearly 100 years of British rule. Rajendra Prasad is sworn in as the first president.

27 – Eight nations sign the NATO defence plan in Washington, USA.

29 – 1,500 are reported dead in three earthquakes in Iran.

29 – Birth of South African motor racing champion Jody Scheckter.

29 – Racial policy causes riots in Johannesburg, South Africa.

31President Truman instructs US scientists to make H-bomb. Many take this as a sign that the US is losing the arms race.

31 – Soviet leader Stalin recognises Ho Chi Minh‘s regime in North Vietnam. France protests.


01 – The USSR calls for Japanese Emperor Hirohito to be tried as a war criminal.

03 – Top nuclear scientist Dr Klaus Fuchs is charged with giving Russian agents secret information about building atomic bombs. If convicted, he faces up to 14 years in prison.

04 – The 4th Empire Games begin, in Auckland (New Zealand), with 12 nations taking part.

04 – The final death toll from the HMS Truculent disaster last month is 64.

07 – Vietnam effectively becomes two separate nations when Britain and the US recognise Emperor Bao Dai as its ruler, only a week after Russia and her allies officially endorsed the rival regime under Ho Chi Minh.

08 – The French National Assembly approves a bill to legalise strikes and reintroduce collective bargaining.

08 – Petrol rationing ends in Australia.

09 – A court-martial finds the commander of the HMS Truculent guilty of hazarding the ship and sentences him to a severe reprimand.

09 – Senator Joseph McCarthy shoots to national prominence in the US for the first time when he launches a crusade against alleged Communist infiltration of Federal Government. “I have here in my hand a list of 205 members of the Communist Party still working and shaping the policy of the State Department,” he told a meeting of the Ohio County Women’s Republican Club. McCarthy offered no proof and refused to reveal any of the names on the list.

Senator Joseph McCarthy

10 – American swimmer Mark Spitz born in Modesto, California.

10 – In London, Dr Klaus Fuchs claims he quit as a Soviet agent a year ago. The former scientist at the Harwell weapons research centre in Berkshire is convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

11 – New York Academy of Science announces there is no cure for baldness.

12 – Physicist Albert Einstein warns the world that nuclear war could end in mutual destruction.

12 – The Empire Games end in Auckland (NZ) with Australia topping the medal table with 34 wins. Britain comes second with 19 wins, and New Zealand third.

13 – A record 1,866 candidates are set to stand in the upcoming British general election.

14 – USSR and China sign 30-year pact in Moscow.

14 – Three townships around Johannesburg, South Africa, are the scene of racial violence between blacks and police.

17 – British businessman Edgar Sanders and American Robert Vogeler go on trial in Budapest for spying.

18 – Actress Cybill Shepherd is born in Tennessee.

20 – USA severs relations with Bulgaria.

21 – Sanders and Vogeler are jailed for 13 years in Budapest.

22 – British actress Julie Walters (Educating Rita) is born.

23 – Election returns are televised in Britain for the first time.

First television coverage of British elections.

23 – Labour wins the British general election with a majority of only five seats, with Clement Attlee returning as Prime Minister.

24 – Eugene Karp (US naval attaché in Rumania and a friend of Robert Vogeler) is murdered on the Orient Express in Austria.

26 – Scottish comedian Sir Harry Lauder dies (b. 1884). Lauder was the most famous Scotsman of his age, being paid £2,500 a week at his peak.

28 – Attlee forms new Labour government in Britain.

28 – The French Assembly pass a bill curbing the sale of Coca-Cola.


01 – Top nuclear scientist Klaus Emil Julius Fuchs, 38, a German-born civil servant from Harwell in Berkshire, is jailed for fourteen years at the Old Bailey for spying for the Soviet Union.

01 – Chiang Kai-shek becomes president in Formosa.

President Chiang Kai-shek

02 – American vocalist Karen Carpenter is born.

02Lou Reed is born.

03 – The US House of Representatives votes to admit Alaska as the 49th American state.

03 – Saar autonomy guaranteed by France.

08 – British car manufacturer Rover produces the first gas-turbine car. JET1, a two-seater model powered by the same kind of engine used in a jet, will have its first public test drive at the Silverstone racing circuit in Northamptonshire tomorrow.

08 – The USSR claims to possess the atomic bomb.

08 – The RAF retires the last Lancaster bomber.

12 – 80 people die when a charter Tudor V aircraft crashes near Cardiff, Wales. The aircraft is carrying rugby fans home from the Wales v Ireland international. The death toll is higher than any previous civil aircraft disaster in the world. A report in November blames overloading of the aircraft.

Tudor V aircraft crash near Cardiff.

12 – German author Heinrich Mann dies (born 27/03/1871).

18 – British athlete Roger Bannister runs the mile in a record four minutes 1.48 seconds.

18 – The Belgian government collapses over a referendum on the return from exile of King Leopold III.

19 – Tarzan author Edgar Rice Burroughs (b. 01/09/1875) dies.

20 – Carl Palmer (ELP and Asia) is born

21 – A study shows that only 46% of all British households have a bathroom.

25 – In the UK, ‘Freebooter’ wins the Grand National.

26 – People’s Front Party led by Tito wins 93.2% of vote in Yugoslavia.

30 – French statesman Leon Blum (b. 09/04/1872) dies.


01 – Italy takes over Somaliland trusteeship from Britain.

01 – The UN adopts a plan to divide Jerusalem.

03 – German composer Kurt Weill (b. 02/03/1900) dies.

04 – £80,000 worth of smuggled nylon stockings are seized at Liverpool docks in the UK.

04 – British government reveals plans for the UK’s sixth atomic centre at Aldermaston in Berkshire.

05 – Police clash with more than 3,000 Communist demonstrators in Paris.

05 – Agnetha Fältskog (ABBA) is born

08 – Russian ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky (b. 12/03/1890) dies.

08 – Pact of Minorities signed at Delhi by India and Pakistan.

11 – The USSR claims to have shot down a US bomber over Soviet-occupied Latvia.

12David Cassidy is born.

18 – In London, the Budget puts another 9d on petrol tax, taking the price of a gallon to around three shillings.

21 – The USSR refuses to apologise to the USA for shooting down an American plane.

23 – In China, Chiang orders the evacuation of the island of Hainan, the last Nationalist territory outside Formosa (Taiwan).

24 – King Abdullah of Jordan annexes Arab Palestine to create an expanded Kingdom of Jordan. Although widely expected, his move is greeted with fury by the other Arab states. Britain endorses the annexation.

25 – First fashion display by Christian Dior in London.

27 – Britain officially recognises the state of Israel.

27 – South Africa passes the Group Areas Act which formally segregates people by race.

27 – Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies introduces a bill to ban the Communist Party and seize its assets.

29 – Arsenal beat Liverpool 2-0 in the FA Cup Final at Wembley (England).

Arsenal captain Joe Mercer with the FA Cup following their 2-0 win over Liverpool at Wembley

30 – Atomic Energy Commission in Britain confiscate 30,000 copies of Scientific American magazine reported to contain information on how to make an H-bomb.

30 – Five million Americans march in anti-Communist ‘Loyalty Day’ parades across the USA.


01 – A new Chinese law bans polygamy, infanticide and the marriage of children.

01 – The musical South Pacific wins the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for best original American play.

02 – Italian wartime army chief Rodolfo Graziani is jailed for collaboration with Germany.

03 – The new 36,800 ton HMS Ark Royal is launched in Birkenhead, England.

07 – 81 people die in a rail crash at Patna, India. Sabotage is suspected.

08 – French military intelligence says Ho Chi Minh has made a secret military pact with Mao Tse-Tung.

12 – Czechoslovakia renounces its 1947 cultural agreement with Britain.

13 – The first Formula 1 motor race is held at Silverstone race track in England.

13 – American singer/musician Stevie Wonder is born Steveland Morris.

18 – 12 NATO Foreign Ministers adopt a six-point plan to strengthen ties between their nations.

21 – The BBC open their studios at Lime Grove.

22Mao Tse-Tung offers Tibet autonomy if it joins China.

23 – The BBC agrees to televise 100 sporting events a year.

24 – British commander Field Marshall Lord Archibald Wavell dies (b. 05/05/1883).

25 – French troops are attacked by Viet Minh in Dong Khe, Vietnam.

26 – Petrol rationing ends in Britain after 10 years.

27 – ‘Galcador’ wins the Derby in England.

30 – Yugoslavia and Albania sever relations.


01 – Petrol rationing ends in New Zealand.

03 – In Nepal, a French expedition reaches the top of Annapurna.

08 – BBC radio serial The Archers is first broadcast.

14 – In South Africa, Field Marshall Jan Smuts resigns as leader of the United Party due to ill health.

15 – West Germany admitted to Council of Europe.

16 – Butter rationing ends in Australia.

17 – The first kidney transplant takes place in the USA.

18 – Egypt signs a security pact with Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

20 – Singer Judy Garland, who has been suffering from deep depression, attempts suicide by cutting her throat with a piece of glass. Her family race to her aid and she is reported to be out of danger.

22 – Penal codes based on the USSR are introduced in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

25 – The Communist People’s Republic of North Korea invades the Republic of South Korea at dawn, starting the Korean War. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) denounces North Korea’s actions as a breach of the peace and calls for an immediate ceasefire.

26 – US President Truman dispatches US troops to support South Korea.

27 – The United Nations (UN) Security Council votes to support the US action against North Korea.

28 – In Formosa, the Nationalists stop air and naval attacks on mainland China, as requested by the US.

29 – Stalin turns down a request from the US to use Soviet influence to halt the North Korean invasion.

30 – Theology departments in Hungarian universities are closed by the government.


01US ground troops land in Korea.

01 – Ford launches its Zephyr and Consul ranges in Britain.

05 – US troops fight their first major engagement in Korea when 40 Communist tanks overrun their forward positions south of Suwon.

07 – Bobby Locke wins his second British Open Golf Championship in a row with a record aggregate of 279.

08 – General Douglas Macarthur is appointed Commander of UN forces in Korea.

10 – Soap rationing ends in Britain.

10Frank Sinatra makes his London debut to an ovation at the London Palladium.

11 – UK children’s television programme Andy Pandy first transmitted by BBC.

15 – Winston Churchill warns of a third World War.

16 – Uruguay beats Brazil in Rio to win the World Cup.

18 – Britain bans the sale of oil to China.

22 – After six years in exile, King Leopold III returns to throne in Belgium.

22 – Death of ex-Canadian PM William Mackenzie King.

23 – Riots against King Leopold in streets of Brussels.

26 – Britain decides to send troops to Korea. Australian and New Zealand ground troops will also be sent.

British troops headed for Korea. 1950

29 – In Auckland (NZ) the All Blacks defeat the British Lions to take the series 3-0 with one test drawn.

31 – MacArthur arrives in Formosa for talks with Chiang Kai-shek on his possible role in the Korean conflict.

31 – J Sainsbury’s first self-service store opens in Croydon, London.


01 – King Leopold III of Belgium abdicates in favour of son Baudouin.

01 – Australian Prime Minister Menzies commits 3,000 Aussie troops to fight in Korea.

05 – American swimmer Florence Chadwick swims across the English Channel in 13 hours and 23 minutes, breaking the woman’s record.

07 – The US launches its biggest attack on the North Koreans so far, at Chinju.

08 – American Florence Chadwick swims the English Channel in a record 13 hours and 20 minutes.

12 – A division of North Korean troops crosses the Naktong River in a fresh assault on Taegu.

15 – Princess Elizabeth gives birth to her second child, a daughter – Princess Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise – at Clarence House in London.

15 – An earthquake in Assam, India, causes flooding that leaves 5 million homeless.

16 – Birth of Australian cricketer Jeff Thompson.

17 – Konrad Adenauer calls for the establishment of a West German Army.

21 – Althea Gibson becomes the first black tennis player accepted for the US titles.

25Mao Tse-Tung asks the UN to order the US Navy to quit the waters around Formosa.

26 – Sedgman, McGregor and Bromwich win back the Davis Cup for Australia, defeating the US 4-1.

27 – Britain wins eight gold medals in the European Games.

27 – The BBC transmits TV pictures live across the Channel from France. The two-hour program is hosted by Richard Dimbleby and Alan Adair.

29British troops arrive in Korea from Hong Kong to assist the American-led United Nations force. The British force includes the 1st Battalion of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and the 1st Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment.

31 – Truman says the US Navy will leave Formosan waters when the Korean War is settled.


01 – The North Koreans launch an offensive on UN troops along a 50-mile front and advance across the Naktong River.

03 – A typhoon sweeps Hokkaido (Japan) leaving 250 reported dead and 300,00 injured.

04 – The US says it downed a Soviet bomber “threatening” US ships off Korea.

06 – The USSR vetoes a UN Security Council motion condemning North Korea.

07 – All religious orders are dissolved in Hungary.

08 – 116 miners are trapped underground in Knockshinnoch Castle colliery at New Cumnock in Ayrshire, Scotland, for more than 24 hours. The presence of dangerous gases delays the rescue effort and the miners have to be brought out wearing breathing apparatus.

08 – 268 foreign Communists are deported from France.

08 – In Melbourne, Australia, radio announcer John Bryan Kerr is found guilty of the murder of 20-year-old Beth Williams at his third trial and sentenced to death.

11 – South African commander, statesman and philosopher Field Marshal Jan Christian Smuts (b. 24/05/1870) dies.

11 – 115 trapped miners are saved from a pit at Knockshinnoch in Ayrshire. 13 are still missing.

11 – Birth of Barry Sheene, motorcycling champion.

15 – UN forces gain the upper hand in Korea with an amphibious assault of up to 50,000 troops behind enemy lines at Inchon, on the west coast. The landings – codenamed “Operation Chromite” – take the North Koreans completely by surprise.

Amphibious assault at Inchon

18 – The Viet Minh occupy Dong Khe in Vietnam.

21 – Chinese forces occupy Tibet.

22 – The Allies capture Suwon, south of Seoul.

23 – US Congress passes the McCarran Internal Security Act, which enables the Subversive Activities Control Board to register members of groups that the Attorney General has determined to be fronts for Communism. The Act also includes a provision for establishing “emergency” concentration camps for Communists.

25 – United Nations forces take control of the South Korean capital Seoul, three months after it fell to North Korea. US Air Force planes from the American aircraft carrier Sicily support the ground attacks all day, targeting North Korean defences with jellied petrol bombs and rockets.

26 – NATO adopts the idea of an integrated European defence force, including West Germany.

26 – A blue moon is visible from South East England.

28 – South Korean President Syngman Rhee returns to Seoul.

28 – A huge underground fire kills 80 miners at Cresswell Colliery in Derbyshire (England).

28 – China says they will intervene if North Korea is invaded.

29UN troops in Korea reach the 38th Parallel.


01UN forces cross the 38th parallel into North Korea.

01 – Diners’ Club introduces the first credit card (in New York City). The card gives credit at 27 restaurants.

02 – Legal Aid becomes effective in Britain.

02 – Charles M Schultz’s comic strip Peanuts first appears in seven US newspapers.

06 – The world’s longest pipeline is completed in Lebanon, running 1,068 miles from US oil fields in the Gulf to Sidon.

07 – 30,000 Chinese troops enter Tibet with little opposition.

10 – French troops are overwhelmed by the Viet Minh at Kaobang, Vietnam.

16 – The French abandon 250 miles of the Chinese frontier zone to the Viet Minh.

17 – 28 people die when a BEA DC-3 Dakota crashes at Mill Hill, North London.

17 – The Chinese take Chamdo, opening the route to Central Tibet.

19UN forces capture the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.

19 – Gaitskell becomes Chancellor of the Exchequer in Britain.

21 – Chinese forces occupy Tibet.

23 – US singer and actor Al Jolson (born Asa Yoelson on 28/05/1883) dies in San Francisco.

26 – The King opens the restored House of Commons, destroyed in an air raid in 1941.

27 – In Korea, Australian troops win the Battle of Broken Bridge.

29 – Swedish King Gustav V dies (b. 16/06/1858).

31 – 28 die when a BEA Viking crashes in fog at Heathrow Airport, London.

31 – Accused of “libidinous relations” with a 17-year-old girl, actor Errol Flynn is acquitted by a Monaco court.


01 – US President Truman survives an assassination attempt at Blair House in Washington DC by two Puerto Rican nationalists. White House Police officer Leslie Coffelt is killed in the fracas.

01 – Trygve Lie is elected to serve a second term as UN Secretary-General.

02 – Irish author, playwright and politician George Bernard Shaw dies at his home in Ayot St Lawrence, Hertfordshire, aged 94. (b. 26/07/1856).

04 – In Washington, President Truman attends the funeral of Leslie Coffelt – the guard killed in the attempt on his life.

06 – MacArthur reports that Chinese forces have attacked UN forces near the Manchurian border.

07 – A US F86 shoots down a MIG 15 over Korea in the first ever combat between jet fighters.

09 – ICI announces it will build a new factory at Redcar in Yorkshire (England) to produce a new fabric called “terylene”.

14 – 58 die when a Canadian plane crashes in the French Alps.

14 – Jack Gardner beats Bruce Woodcock to become British and Empire heavyweight boxing champion.

16 – King Farouk of Egypt demands the “total and immediate” evacuation of British troops from the Suez Canal Zone.

17 – The United Nations grants independence to Libya.

20American troops reach the Chinese border.

21 – The Australian government announces the reintroduction of military conscription for all 18-year-olds.

22 – 75 die when two trains collide on Long Island, New York.

Train collision, Long Island, New York

22 – Vietnamese, Cambodian and Laotian rebels meet for the first time in Indochina.

24 – UN forces launch an offensive in the Yalu valley provoking China to reinforce the North Koreans. Together they drive UN forces southwards.

29 – The Chinese throw 850,000 “volunteers” into the Korean conflict. General Douglas MacArthur describes it as “an entirely new war”.


01 – The death penalty, abolished in 1941, is reintroduced in New Zealand for convictions of murder.

05 – Chinese troops enter the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, as United Nations forces are pushed steadily back towards South Korea.

09 – Rock musician Joan Armatrading is born.

10 – New Zealand military ‘Kayforce’ sails for service in Korea.

11 – 18 people are killed in riots in Singapore as Muslim protestors demonstrate against the British colonial government. The unrest lasts for two days.

12 – Paula Ackerman is the first woman to perform the duties of a Rabbi in the USA.

13 – Marshall Aid to Britain ceases.

16President Truman declares a national state of emergency as UN forces suffer further setbacks in Korea.

18 – In Melbourne (Australia), John Bryan Kerr’s death sentence is commuted to 20 years in jail.

19Eisenhower is appointed head of NATO forces.

23 – Pope Pius XII announces St Peter’s tomb has been discovered under the Vatican.

25 – The Dalai Lama flees Tibet.

25 – The Coronation Stone (also called the ‘Stone of Destiny’ and ‘Stone of Scone’) is removed from beneath the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey by Scottish Nationalists.

27 – US and Spain resume diplomatic relations.

27 – Death of German painter Max Beckmann.

28 – 38th Parallel crossed by Chinese Army.

28 – The Peak District is designated as the first National Park in Britain.

Quote of the year

“Well, I’m certainly not the son of Clement Attlee”.
War correspondent Randolph Churchill when asked in Korea if he was the son of Winston Churchill.