01 – The Maldive Islands become a republic.
01 – Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris is knighted in the New Year Honours list.
01 – Hank Williams dies.
02 – The RAFs first supersonic fighters, 400 US-designed Sabres, arrive at RAF Abingdon.
10 – Pat Benatar born.
14 – Marshal Tito is elected first President of the Yugoslav republic.
16 – Egypt dissolves all political parties.
20 – Dwight D Eisenhower is inaugurated as US President.
28 – Teenager Derek Bentley is executed at Wandsworth Prison in London for his part in the murder of PC Sidney Miles during a bungled break-in at a warehouse in Croydon, Surrey. The 19-year-old is hanged at 09:00 after last-minute appeals for clemency are rejected.
31 – A tidal surge floods large parts of the Netherlands, killing 2,000 people.
31 – Irish car ferry Princess Victoria sinks in the Irish Sea in one of the worst gales in living memory with the loss of 133 lives. Only 67 bodies are recovered.
03 – Hurricanes and flooding bring disaster to Britain’s East Coast with a death toll of 307 people. More than 30,000 people are left homeless.
05 – Rationing of sweets ends in Britain.
05 – Walt Disney’s animated film Peter Pan is released.
10 – General Neguib takes dictatorial powers in Egypt.
12 – Agreement on Sudan reached by Britain and Egypt.
12 – USSR breaks off relations with Israel.
23 – British WWII deserters are granted amnesty.
28 – Scientists Francis Crick and James Watson announce that they have discovered the double-helix structure of DNA.
01 – Turkey, Greece and Yugoslavia sign a friendship treaty.
05 – Long time leader of the Soviet Union Josef Stalin dies of a stroke at the age of 73.
05 – Death of Russian composer Prokofiev.
06 – Malenkov succeeds Stalin as Chairman of the Council of Ministers in the USSR.
16 – Marshal Josef Tito of Yugoslavia arrives in Britain, the first Communist head of state to visit the country. The Duke of Edinburgh, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden greet him at Westminster at the start of his five-day visit.
19 – First coast-to-coast televised “Oscars” coverage in the US. The ceremony runs too long and is cut off by NBC before it has ended.
20 – Nikita Khrushchev becomes Secretary of the USSR Communist Party.
23 – Death of French artist Raoul Dufy.
23 – The low-cost disposable Bic ballpoint pen is launched in France. Developed by Baron Bich, the pen costs 50 centimes.
24 – In Britain, Her Majesty Queen Mary, the Queen’s grandmother dies. She is 85.
26 – Salk vaccine is successful in tests against Polio in the US.
28 – Death of US athlete Jim Thorpe.
31 – John Christie is arrested and charged with murdering his wife following one of London’s biggest manhunts.
31 – Queen Mary is laid to rest next to her late husband following a funeral service at Windsor Castle. More than 1,500 mourners, including many royal dignitaries from around the world, attend the service at St George’s Chapel in Windsor.
06 – German Chancellor Adenauer visits New York.
07 – Dag Hammarskjöld of Sweden is elected Secretary General of the UN.
08 – An underground train crashes in the UK killing 8 people.
08 – In Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta and five others are convicted of being involved with the terrorist organisation Mau Mau. Kenyatta is sentenced to seven years hard labour.
15 – John Christie is charged with the murder of three more women in London. Murders for which a man has already been hanged.
16 – The royal yacht Britannia is launched at the Clydebank yard of John Brown and Co.
17 – Charlie Chaplin surrenders his re-entry permit to the US under threat of proceedings due to alleged Communist links. He refuses to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee and instead relocates to Switzerland.
20 – Allied and Communist sick and wounded POW’s are swapped at Panmunjon in Korea in Operation “Little Switch”.
25 – Cambridge University scientists James D Watson and Francis Crick publish their description of the structure of a chemical called deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA – the material that makes up genes that pass hereditary characteristics from one parent to another.
02 – Blackpool beats Bolton in the ‘Stanley Matthews’ Cup Final.
04 – Duke of Edinburgh receives his pilot’s wings from Air Chief Marshall Sir William Dickson, Chief of Air Staff, during a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
04 – Ernest Hemingway wins a Pulitzer Prize for The Old Man and the Sea and Picnic.
12 – General Gruenther is made Supreme Commander in Europe.
18 – Jacqueline Cochrane becomes the first woman to fly faster than the speed of sound while piloting a North American F-86 Sabre in the USA.
29 – Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Norgay Tenzing conquer Mount Everest.
01 – Gordon Richards is the first British jockey to be knighted.
02 – Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in Westminster Abbey in front of more than 8,000 guests, including prime ministers and heads of state from around the Commonwealth.
04 – The largest atomic explosion yet is detonated in Nevada, USA.
06 – Gordon Richards wins the Derby after 28 attempts.
07 – Edmund Hillary and Colonel John Hunt are knighted.
07 – The Christian Democrats win a majority in the Italian general election.
17 – Riots take place in East Berlin against the Communist government. The Soviet Union send troops in to put down the uprising.
18 – 18-month-old King Faud is deposed and Egypt becomes a republic with General Naguib as president.
20 – Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are executed in the electric chair at Sing Sing Prison in the USA for conspiring to pass atomic secrets to Russia in World War II.
04 – International Confederation of Free Trade Unions meets.
04 – There are riots in Poland as coal miners go on strike.
05 – Hungarian Ministry formed by new PM Imre Nagy.
12 – Martial law is lifted in East Berlin.
15 – British murderer John Christie is hanged at Pentonville prison. Christie’s home at 10 Rillington Place, Notting Hill is eventually torn down and the whole decrepit street rebuilt in the 1970s as Bartle Road.
20 – USSR and Israel restore diplomatic relations.
26 – Fidel Castro leads a failed attack on Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba.
27 – An armistice is signed at Panmunjom, ending the Korean War.
08 – The Soviet Union announces that it has developed a hydrogen bomb.
18 – The Kinsey Report is published in the US. It is the most extensive report on sexual habits ever written.
20 – In Morocco, the Sultan is deposed by France.
20 – Iranian Prime Minister Dr Mussadiq is arrested.
21 – Lobotomy is banned in the USSR.
29 – The USSR explodes their first hydrogen bomb.
30 – Yugoslavia and Hungary resume relations.
06 – Christian Democrats win election in West Germany.
12 – Nikita Khrushchev becomes first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist party in the USSR.
06 – British naval and military forces are deployed to British Guiana in response to what the UK Government says is a threat to the administration of the British colony.
09 – Welsh poet Dylan Thomas dies in a New York hotel, aged 39.
09 – Death of Saudi Arabian King Abd el-Aziz III Ibn Saud.
09 – Cambodia wins independence from France.
12 – ‘Samaritans’ helpline is founded by Reverend Chad Varah at St Stephen’s church in Walbrook, UK.
17 – 20 Italian sailors die when their steamer Vittoria Claudia – on her way from the Bulgarian port of Burgas in the Black Sea to Hamburg in West Germany – sinks within five minutes of being hit by French motor vessel Perou in the English Channel off the Kent coast.
21 – ‘Piltdown Man’ (discovered in 1912) is proved to have been a forgery by W. Le Gros Clark and others at the British Museum.
26 – The House of Lords votes by 157 to 87, a Government majority of 70, in favour of the introduction of commercial television in Britain.
27 – Death of US playwright Eugene O’Neill.
28 – US Army scientist Captain Frank Olson plunges to his death from the window of his 13th-floor room at the Hotel Statler in New York City, where he is staying under the supervision of a CIA doctor. Olson had been dosed with LSD – without his knowledge – at a three-day CIA retreat, nine days before his death. While the official report said he jumped to his death, some believe Olson was murdered by the CIA because he’d expressed concerns about the biological warfare experiments he was working on.
30 – Iran restores diplomatic relations with Britain.
04 – A large oilfield is struck in Australia.
10 – Sir Winston Churchill wins the Nobel Prize for Literature.
23 – Lavrentiy Beria, former Soviet minister for internal affairs and head of Stalin’s secret police, is executed for high treason along with six others.
Also this year . . .
- L Ron Hubbard founds the Scientology movement in the USA.
- Ian Fleming introduces James Bond in the book Casino Royale.
- Christian Dior brings the bosom back into women’s clothes with the ‘sweater girl’ bra.
- Hugh Hefner launches Playboy.
- To combat smog in the UK, 6½d mouth-masks can be bought from chemists.
- The cost of a 3 bedroom semi-detached house in Britain is just over £2,000.00.
- Over 100,000 Londoners are waiting to have telephones installed.
- The Tuskegee Institute in Alabama announces that, for the second year in a row, there were no lynchings in the US.