Home Decades 1950s 1951


British soldier on guard along the banks of the Suez Canal. 1951


01 – Chinese and North Korean forces advance across the 38th Parallel and through UN lines.

01 – First episode of The Archers is broadcast nationally on the BBC Light Programme.

01 – Bill Byford (Saxon) born.

04 – Communist troops capture Seoul.

09 – The UN retreat in Korea continues as Wonju falls to the Chinese and North Koreans.

09 – The United Nations new headquarters opens in New York.

10 – Death of US writer Sinclair Lewis.

11 – The Viet Minh launch an attack against the French forces in the north of Tonkin.

15Truman asks Congress for $60 billion to prepare US forces for combat.

17 – Walter Nash (68) becomes Leader of the Labour Opposition in New Zealand following the death of Peter Fraser.

25 – UN forces halt the Communist advance in Korea and counter-attack.

30 – Death of German motor car engineer Ferdinand Porsche.

31 – American pilot Captain Charles Blair flies a Mustang from New York to London in a record 7 hours 48 minutes.

31 – Phil Manzanera (Roxy Music) is born.

31Phil Collins is born.


05UN forces push back to within five miles of Seoul.

06 – A passenger train derails in New Jersey, USA, killing 85 people.

07 – Baseball player Joe DiMaggio signs a $100,000 contract with the Yankees for the third year in a row.

Joe DiMaggio. 1951

08 – Cecil Day-Lewis is elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford University.

08 – In London, the King is awarded a 10% pay rise – the first of his reign.

09 – Swedish actress Greta Garbo becomes a US citizen. She has been a resident in America since 1925.

14 – Ben Gurion resigns in Tel Aviv.

14 – Birth of British footballer Kevin Keegan.

16 – A standard bottle of whisky goes up by 1/8 to £1/15/- in the UK.

19 – Death of French author Andre Gide.

19 – In Melbourne (Australia), prostitute Jean Lee and her two pimps are hanged for the torture and murder of a 73-year-old bookmaker.

21 – The Canberra, Britain’s first jet bomber, crosses the Atlantic in a record 4 hours 40 minutes.

23 – Spy Klaus Fuchs loses his British citizenship.

26 – US legislation changes to restrict Presidents to two terms (a maximum of eight years in office).

28 – In New Zealand, the Waterside Workers Union is deregistered, and a state of emergency declared.


02 – Purge of Czech Communist Party.

07 – Iranian Premier Razmara assassinated.

08 – Iranian oil industry nationalised.

09 – A bill is approved in the UK to make a separation for seven years sufficient grounds for divorce.

09 – Herbert Morrison replaces Ernest Bevin as British Foreign Secretary. Bevin becomes Lord Privy Seal.

12 – In Washington, alleged spy Alger Hiss loses his Supreme Court appeal against his conviction for perjury.

13 – Israel claims $1.5 billion in war reparations from Germany.

14UN troops recapture Seoul.

15 – Martial law is declared in Teheran.

16 – Fourteen people die when an express coach hits the mouth of a tunnel at Doncaster in Yorkshire (UK).

19 – France, West Germany, Italy and the Benelux States sign a treaty to create a European Coal and Steel Community.

20 – Montgomery is appointed Eisenhower‘s deputy at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe.

24 – The Oxford boat sinks in the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race (UK).

26 – Cambridge wins the re-run Boat Race by 12 lengths.

29 – In the US, American electrical engineer Julius Rosenberg and his wife Ethel are found guilty by New York’s Federal Court of passing atomic secrets to the Russians and sentenced to death. Despite numerous appeals for clemency, they are executed in the electric chair at Sing-Sing Prison on 19 June 1953.

Ethel and Julius Rosenberg

30 – General MacArthur threatens to carry the war to China by attacking the “privileged sanctuary” of Manchuria.


07 – Nickel Coin wins the Grand National. Only three out of 36 runners finish.

11President Truman relieves General Douglas MacArthur of command in Korea. MacArthur had advocated attacks on strategic points in Chinese territory – a move that could conceivably have led to World War III. He is replaced by Lieutenant General Matthew Ridgway.

11 – The Coronation Stone (Stone of Scone) is found in the UK three months after it was stolen from Westminster Abbey.

14 – Death of British statesman Ernest Bevin.

15 – The Abadan oil refinery closes in Iran.

16 – British submarine HMS Affray disappears with its crew of 75. It is discovered two months later in 300 ft of water 46 miles south of Portland. The submarine is never recovered because the depth at which it had sunk and the distance from the coast makes a full salvage operation impossible.

18 – France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands sign the Treaty of Paris to form the European Coal and Steel Community.

19 – First Miss World competition is held in London. Miss Sweden is the winner.

23 – The Chinese launch an attack in Korea along a 50-mile front.

24 – A new Waterside Workers union is registered in New Zealand.

26UN forces in Korea retreat as the Chinese pour in reinforcements.

28 – Newcastle United beat Blackpool 2-0 in the FA Cup Final.


01 – Radio Free Europe begins broadcasting from Munich to countries behind the Iron Curtain.

02 – Syrian troops cross the demilitarised zone to occupy two villages in Israel.

03 – King George VI inaugurates the Festival of Britain and opens the Royal Festival Hall on London’s South Bank.

04 – Israel and Syria agree to a cease-fire called by the UN. It lasts three hours.

05 – Australian missionary and pioneer of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the Reverend John Flynn dies (b. 1880).

11 – Mikhail Botvinnik retains his world chess crown as the 24th championship game is drawn in Moscow.

12 – The first H-bomb is successfully tested on Eniwetok Atoll in the mid-Pacific.

14 – The “coloured” vote is removed from the electoral register in South Africa.

18 – Vickers Valiant, Britain’s first four-engined jet bomber, makes maiden flight.

19 – Britain warns Iran against trying to seize British oil properties.

20 – Iran serves formal notice on the Anglo-Iranian Oil Co that it is taking over its oil installations.

23 – US Generals Bradley and Marshall condemn MacArthur.

23 – China issues Tibet an ultimatum to choose between “peaceful liberation” or military annihilation. Under this duress, Tibet signs the “17-point Agreement”.

25 – Foreign Office officials Guy Burgess and Donald MacLean disappear without leave in London.

28Festival of Britain Pleasure Gardens open at Battersea, London.

28 – HRH Princess Elizabeth formally opens the Exhibition of Industrial Power in Glasgow, the latest show in the Festival of Britain.

29 – 83 miners are feared dead after an explosion at Easington Colliery, Durham.

30 – ‘Arctic Prince’ wins the Derby at Epsom.


02 – 1500 striking dockworkers clash with police in Auckland, New Zealand.

08 – A telegram from British diplomats Burgess and MacLean says they are taking a “long Mediterranean holiday”.

08 – The School Of The Air begins in Australia with broadcasts from the Flying Doctor base at Alice Springs.

09 – The last group of Nazis to be convicted of war crimes are executed by hanging in Germany.

11 – In London, Herbert Morrison admits the “security aspects” of Burgess and MacLean “are under investigation”.

13 – Former Australian prime minister Ben Chifley dies at the age of 65. More than 40,000 attend his funeral at Bathurst, NSW, on 17 June.

13 – Eamon de Valera is once again Irish Premier.

15 – After repelling strong Communist offensives in April and May, UN forces stabilise the front-line just north of the 38th parallel.

18 – The US is given permission for an airbase at Greenham Common in Berkshire, UK.

20 – Dr Evatt succeeds Ben Chifley as leader of the Australian Labor Party, with Arthur Calwell as deputy leader.

24 – Peter Walker in a Jaguar C-Type is the first Briton in 16 years to win at Le Mans.

28 – Hungarian Arch Bishop Jozsef Grosz is jailed for 15 years for allegedly plotting the Government’s fall.

30 – Lieutenant General Ridgway says he is ready to negotiate a cease-fire with Communist forces in Korea.


01 – Argentine Juan Fangio wins the European Grand Prix.

10 – A cease-fire is called in Korea, and truce talks begin.

10 – British boxer Randolph Turpin surprises the boxing world when he takes the world middleweight crown from Sugar Ray Robinson.

Randolph Turpin following his boxing victory over Sugar Ray Robinson

13 – The Queen lays the foundation stone of the National Theatre in London.

15 – Nine die in anti-British riots in Iran.

16 – King Leopold III of Belgium abdicated, and his son, Baudouin I, is the new King.

18 – Jersey Joe Walcott wins the world heavyweight boxing title, knocking out Ezzard Charles in the 7th round.

19 – Worst floods in US history hit Kansas and Missouri, killing 41 people and leaving 200,000 homeless.

20 – British Hawker Hunter jet fighter makes maiden flight.

20 – King Abdullah of Jordan is assassinated while at Friday prayers in Jerusalem.

26 – The first substantial peace talks between Vice Admiral Turner Joy of the US Navy and General Nam Il of the North Korean army begin at Kaesong, a no-man’s land just south of the 38th Parallel.

31 – Birth of Australian tennis player Evonne Fay Goolagong.


01 – In Britain, Austin raises car prices. The A40 goes up £31 to £685.

10 – Britain and Cuba sign a trade pact.

12 – Over a million young people take part in anti-American demonstrations in East Berlin.

12 – JD Salinger’s novel, The Catcher In The Rye, is published and becomes a bestseller.

14 – Death of US newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst.

15 – Dartmoor in England is designated as a National Park.

15 – Basil Spence wins a British competition to design a new Coventry Cathedral.

16 – The Australian Financial Review begins publication in Sydney.

21 – 132 people are reported to have died in the hurricane which struck Jamaica three days ago.

24 – 50 die when a new DC-6 airliner crashes into a hill in California.

25 – Emmanuel MacDonald Bailey sets a world record for the 100 metres of 10.2 seconds in Belgrade.

27 – The first 25 US Air Force F-86 Sabre jets arrive.

31 – West German’s Deutsche Grammophon introduce 33 RPM long-playing records.


01 – The US signs a mutual defence treaty with Australia and New Zealand.

01 – In New Zealand, the National Party is returned to government with an increased majority (50) to Labour’s 30.

04 – Tennis player Frank Sedgman becomes the first Australian to win the US singles title, and the new women’s champion, Maureen “Little Mo” Connolly, 16, is the youngest-ever winner.

08 – Peace treaty is signed in San Francisco by Japan and representatives of 49 powers to formally end the Pacific War.

09 – Chinese troops occupy the Tibetan capital, Lhasa.

10 – Anti-British riots sweep across Egypt following Egypt’s decision to rescind its 1936 alliance with Britain.

12 – Briton Randolph Turpin is KO’d in the 10th round in a return bout with Sugar Ray Robinson.

13 – UN talks on Palestine break down.

14 – Prime Minister Clement Attlee opens the largest oil refinery in Europe at Fawley on Southampton Water.

19 – Clement Atlee calls a General Election in the UK.

19 – Eight doctors in London diagnose that the King has a lung disease.

20 – Greece and Turkey are asked to join NATO.

22 – South Sydney beats Manly 42-14 in the Australian Rugby League Grand Final.

23 – King George VI undergoes an operation at Buckingham Palace to remove part of his lung. He never makes a complete recovery and dies in February 1952, when it is revealed he has been suffering from lung cancer.

27 – In Bonn, the Bundestag votes unanimously to make restitution for “unspeakable crimes” against the Jews.

27 – Iranian troops seize the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company refinery at Abadan.

30 – The Festival of Britain ends in London. The Festival is widely regarded as a big success – although there was much criticism initially of the £11m cost at a time of meat rationing and petrol shortages.


01 – The ANZ Bank is formed in Australia – an amalgamation of the Union Bank of Australia and the Bank of Australasia.

03 – Britons leave the oil refinery at Abadan.

03 – Britain’s first atomic bomb is tested in the Indian Ocean.

06 – Death of US breakfast Cereal tycoon William Kellogg.

06 – Sir Henry Gurney, British High Commissioner for Malaya, is killed in a Communist ambush in Singapore.

08 – Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip arrive in Montreal on a Canadian tour in place of the King.

09 – Ben-Gurion forms government in Israel.

11 – Lord Mountbatten is appointed Commander-In-Chief of British forces in the Mediterranean.

15 – British Liberal party makes the first BBC party political broadcast.

15 – Egypt rejects a defence pact with Britain under which Britain would give up its Suez Canal rights.

16 – Liaquat Ali Khan, prime minister of Pakistan, is assassinated in Rawalpindi by a Moslem.

21 – Four British warships are now in Port Said: more troops are heading for the Suez Canal zone.

22 – A woman wearing a backless sun frock is asked to leave the members’ enclosure during a Sheffield Shield match at the ‘Gabba in Brisbane, Australia.

25 – At 25, Margaret Roberts (later, Thatcher) becomes the youngest Tory candidate in the British General Election.

25 – General election in Britain gives small majority in Parliament for Conservatives (321 seats against 295 for Labour, 6 for Liberal and 3 others).

26 – Winston Churchill becomes British Prime Minister again. At 76, he is the second-oldest prime minister in history to take office, second only to the Victorian politician William Gladstone.

26 – According to Chinese news agency Xinhua, on this day “the Tibetan people were liberated from imperialist aggression and returned to the great family of the People’s Republic of China”.

27 – Egypt denounces the Treaty of Alliance with Britain.

31 – Former Communist leader Wladyslaw Gomulka is arrested in Warsaw.

31 – Zebra Crossings come into effect in Britain.


01 – The US military holds exercises to prepare for nuclear war in the Nevada desert.

02 – Up to 6,000 more British troops are flown into the Suez Canal Zone in the biggest troop airlift since the war. Hastings and Valetta aircraft bring in most of the 3rd Battalion, Coldstream Guards from Tripoli in Libya in an effort to try to quell anti-British disturbances in the region. Over the next few days, they are joined by the 3rd Battalion, Grenadier Guards and 1st Battalion, The Cameron Highlanders.

03 – Eva Peron enters hospital in Buenos Aires for surgery.

06 – Delta wins the Melbourne Cup, ridden by Neville Sellwood.

07Truman offers to sponsor Eisenhower as Democratic Presidential candidate in 1952.

08 – Three Himalayan climbers discover and photograph giant footprints in the snow. The footprints are said to be made by the Yeti (also known as the Abominable Snowman) and were found on the lower slopes of Mt Everest.

11 – Juan Peron is re-elected as President of Argentina.

12 – BBC TV’s Come Dancing is first transmitted.

14 – French paratroops capture the town of Hao Binh in Vietnam.

14 – Yugoslavia signs a security pact with the US.

15 – Anti-government rebels ambush and kill 11 people in an attack on a rubber plantation in Malaya. The dead include a London director visiting the area, the manager of the estate and nine special constables on a foot inspection.

19 – Dr Chaim Weizmann is elected to a second term as Israeli President.

20 – More than 1,000 families of British servicemen begin moving out of the Suez Canal Zone town of Ismailia. The women and children are being sent back to Britain because there is not enough room for them in guarded Army compounds.

23 – UN and Communist negotiators agree “in principle” to a truce line.

28 – The British agree to withdraw from three towns in Egypt if the Egyptians promise to quell terrorism.


03 – East Germany turns down an invitation to the 1952 Olympics.

04 – 23 die when a bus ploughs into a company of Marine cadets at Chatham in Kent.

06 – 10,000 police and students clash in Teheran, Iran.

13 – Viet Minh launch an offensive in Tonkin, Vietnam.

19 – The Communists hand the UN a list of 3,100 UN prisoners of war.

20 – The world’s first nuclear power plant opens at an experimental site in Idaho, USA.

22 – Golfer Jan Stephenson is born.

24 – Libya wins independence from Italy.

28 – Australia retains the Davis Cup, defeating the US 3-2.

31 – British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden set off to America on the Queen Mary for talks with President Truman.

Also this year

  • “Self-service” shopping is introduced in Britain

Quote of the year

“I fired him because he wouldn’t respect the authority of the President. I didn’t fire him because he was a dumb son-of-a-bitch, although he was, but that’s not against the law for Generals”.
President Truman explaining why he dismissed General MacArthur.