Home Decades 1950s 1955



01 – The US gives $216 million in aid to South Vietnam.

02 – President Jose Remon is assassinated in Panama.

06 – Comic actor (Blackadder and Mr Bean) Rowan Atkinson is born.

12 – US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles outlines the government’s new “massive retaliation” nuclear policy, which calls for “a great capacity to retaliate instantly by means and at places of our choosing”. The US-Soviet arms race heats up even further.

18 – Government in Kenya offers terms to Mau Mau terrorists.

18 – US actor Kevin Costner is born in California.

23 – 17 die and 43 are hurt in the UK when the York to Bristol express is derailed at Sutton Coldfield.

23 – 380 Jamaican immigrants arrive in the UK aboard the liner Fairsea.

25 – USSR officially ends war with Germany.

25 – Scientists at Columbia University (USA) develop an atomic clock that is accurate to within one second every 300 years.

27 – UK bank rate is raised from 3% to 3.5%


02 – England secure the Ashes in their fourth test against Australia.

05 – Mendès-France resigns as French Premier.

08 – In the USSR, Soviet premier Malenkov resigns and is succeeded by Marshal N.A. Bulganin.

09 – Compulsory military service is introduced in China.

10 – British MPs vote by a majority of 31 to keep the death penalty.

10 – 3,000 armed South African police begin evicting 60,000 blacks from Sophiatown, west of Johannesburg. The displaced are taken to Meadowlands, a new township 11 miles away where they will be tenants, not freeholders.


24 – Turkey and Iraq sign Baghdad Pact.

28 – Israeli troops kill 36 soldiers and six civilians in a raid on Egyptian-controlled Gaza. Tensions between Israel and Egypt rise.


02 – Egypt and Syria sign defence pact.

07 – First coast-to-coast televised Emmy Awards is hosted by Steve Allen on NBC.

11 – Italy, Germany and France ratify European Pact.

11 – Death of Scottish Bacteriologist and discoverer of penicillin, Sir Alexander Fleming.

15 – Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) is born.

19 – American actor Bruce Willis is born in Germany.

20 – American teenagers dance in the aisles at cinemas to the music of Bill Haley in the film Blackboard Jungle.

26 – ‘Quare Times’ wins the Grand National.

27 – Pakistan declares State of Emergency.

31 – Chinese Communist Party purged.


01 – German airline Lufthansa is revived.

03 – Over 300 die when a train plunges into a canyon near the city of Guadalajara, Mexico.

03 – Football representatives from eight European countries set up a “European Cup” contest.

05 – 80-year-old Winston Churchill resigns as British PM due to ill health. Anthony Eden becomes Prime Minister.

10 – South Africa withdraws from UNESCO rather than modify racialist policies. African families are compulsorily moved out of Johannesburg to a black settlement 11 miles away.

11 – Neville Staples (The Specials) is born.

12 – Researchers announce that Dr Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine is safe and effective. Mass vaccination of school children is scheduled.

16 – President Eisenhower sates that he may use nuclear weapons if America is drawn into another war. Foreign Minister Molotov warns of Soviet strength, claiming superiority in hydrogen weapons.

18 – Physicist Albert Einstein dies in Princeton, New Jersey, at the age of 76.

18 – Hungarian premier Imre Nagy is dismissed for “deviation”. Andras Hegedus takes over.

29 – Civil war has broken out in Saigon, capital of South Vietnam, between the government of Emperor Bao Dai and the quasi-religious Binh Xuyen faction.


05 – Official occupation ends in West Germany.

06 – Britain goes to International Court over Falkland Islands.

07 – Newcastle United appear in a record 10th FA Cup Final.

08 – 25 Hiroshima victims arrive in California for plastic surgery.

09 – West Germany becomes a member of NATO.

14 – The Warsaw Pact defence treaty is signed by USSR, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland and Romania as a response to NATO.

15 – Britain, France, the USA and the USSR sign the Vienna Treaty restoring Austria as an independent nation.

23 – Senator John F Kennedy returns to the Senate in Washington after back surgery and seven months off.

25 – ‘Phil Drake’ wins the Derby.

28 – 16 Teddy Boys are arrested in Bath (UK) after a disturbance at the city’s dance hall.

30 – The giant poster of Marilyn Monroe with her skirts billowing is removed from the facade of Loew’s State Theater in New York under pressure from the League of Decency. The poster had been up for five days promoting her latest film, The Seven Year Itch.

31 – The US Supreme Court orders that schools must be racially integrated by local authorities within ‘a reasonable time’.


02 – A British team under Charles Evans conquers the highest unclimbed peak in India, Kanchenjunga (28,146 ft).

11 – Three cars crash at 150 mph at the Le Mans racetrack in France and plough into the spectators grandstand. 84 people are killed, with children decapitated and other spectators dismembered.

15 – US and Britain sign agreement on atomic energy.

16 – 13 die when the British submarine HMS Sidon sinks in Portland Harbour after an explosion.

17 – 202 die in an armed uprising against President Juan Perón in Buenos Aires.


04 – British dock strike ends after a month.

07 – A new supersonic Hawker Hunter aircraft crashes at Farnborough Air Show in the UK, killing the pilot.

13 – Blonde model Ruth Ellis is hanged in Britain for murdering her lover, racing driver David Blakely. She is the last woman to be executed in the UK.

17 – Stirling Moss wins his first Grand Prix, beating world champion Fangio.

18 – Disneyland opens on a 60-acre site at Anaheim, California – 22 miles outside Los Angeles. The magic kingdom comprises five themed zones – Main Street, USA (which, Disney said, “turned back the clock to the days of grandfather’s youth”), Frontierland (celebrating “the pioneering spirit of our forefathers”), Adventureland (“an exotic tropical place”), Tomorrowland (looking at “the marvels of the future”) and Fantasyland, complete with castle and fantasy village.

23 – Donald Campbell breaks water speed record at 202 mph.

24 – Bulganin and Khrushchev visit East Germany.

26 – Austria formally regains its sovereignty.


05 – Movie star Carmen Miranda dies in Hollywood, California.

08 – A conference is held in Geneva to discuss peaceful uses of atomic energy.

11 – Right-wing Muslim government takes over in Indonesia.

12 – German writer Thomas Mann dies.

13 – Five armed IRA men are arrested attempting to steal arms from a training centre at the Army barracks at Arborfield, Berkshire.

15 – Indians attempt to enter Goa. 12 are shot dead by the Portuguese.

20 – Hundreds are killed in anti-French riots in Morocco and Algeria.

23 – A Canberra PR7 flies from Croydon near London to New York and back in 14 hours.

27 – The Guinness Book of Records is published for the first time.

30 – A pilotless aircraft takes off from Bankstown in Sydney (Australia) and flies over the city for three hours before being shot down by a navy plane.


01 – Peron puts Buenos Aires under a state of siege as students riot.

06 – Anti-Greek riots in Istanbul and Izmir.

06 – A force of British commandos is sent to Cyprus amid mounting tension.

15 – EOKA – the guerrilla group fighting in Cyprus for union with Greece – is outlawed by the British.

17 – South Sydney beat Newtown 12-11 in the Australian Rugby League Grand Final.

18 – The British Foreign Office states its belief that Burgess and Maclean, the former diplomats who disappeared in 1951, had been long-term Soviet agents. Kim Philby denies being the “third man”.

19 – Argentinean president Juan Perón is overthrown in a military coup after nine years of dictatorship. He resigns and flees to Paraguay.

20 – TV Times is first published (London area).

22 – Commercial television begins broadcasting in Britain with the launch of ITV.

23 – General Eduardo Lonardi is sworn in as provisional Argentinean president.

24 – US President Eisenhower has a minor heart attack but recovers fully.

25 – Field Marshal Harding is appointed Governor of Cyprus.

26 – America and the UK are linked by a submarine telephone cable.

30 – In California, actor James Dean crashes his Porsche 550 Spyder head-on into a Ford Tudor driven by student Donald Turnupseed. Dean is pronounced dead on arrival at hospital. He is just 24.


30 – Violent demonstrations against British rule erupt in Cyprus. Troops are ordered to shoot to kill if necessary.


04 – After years of World Series disappointment, the Brooklyn Dodgers finally beat the New York Yankees for baseball’s world championship.

04 – Field Marshal Papagos, the Greek Premier, dies.

08 – In the USA, the aircraft carrier Saratoga is launched. It is the world’s most powerful warship.

08 – Hitler’s pilot Hans Bauer, just released by the USSR, confirms that Hitler and Eva Braun both committed suicide.

10 – Test transmissions for colour television begin.

12 – Florence Chadwick swims the English Channel in 13 hours 55 minutes.

26 – Ngo Dinh Diem proclaims South Vietnam a Republic and declares himself President.

30 – Britain’s Princess Margaret announces she will not marry Group Captain Peter Townsend.

30 – Abdication of the Sultan of Morocco.


01 – ‘Toporoa’ wins the Melbourne Cup.

02 – Ben-Gurion forms a government in Israel.

03 – The Cocos Islands – previously part of Singapore – are transferred to Australia.

05 – The new Vienna Opera House is opened.

12 – The immigration centre on Ellis Island in New York Harbour closes.

13 – Provisional President Lonardi is ousted by Major-General Pedro Aramburu in Argentina.

16 – Donald Campbell sets a water-speed record of 216.2 mph in his Bluebird speedboat on Lake Mead in the US.

20 – Ten die and 99 are hurt in a train crash near Didcot in Oxfordshire.

20 – Future screen siren and perfect “10” Bo Derek is born in California.

24 – Future England cricketer Ian Botham is born.

25 – Racial segregation on interstate trains and buses in America is banned by the Interstate Commerce Commission.

26 – An IRA group crosses the border into Roslea, County Fermanagh, and attacks a Royal Ulster Constabulary police station.

26 – The USSR claims to have exploded a hydrogen bomb of “unprecedented force”.

26 – State of emergency is declared in Cyprus following terrorist activities by Greek-Cypriot organisation EOKA and the death of two more British soldiers.

30 – The first floodlit international football match is played at Wembley, between England and Spain.


01 – 42-year-old black woman Rosa Parks is arrested in Alabama after refusing to give up her seat on a US bus to a white man. A boycott begins on the bus company which continues for over a year and causes the bus company to go broke.

02 – 12 people die in a train fire in Barnes, London.

03 – Britain and Egypt sign an agreement granting independence to the Sudan.

06 – The Jam drummer Rick Buckler is born.

09 – Sugar Ray Robinson knocks out Carol Olson to regain the world middleweight boxing championship.

10 – Australian prime minister Menzies is returned with an increased majority in the federal election.

14 – 16 nations join the UN – the biggest single expansion of the United Nations since it was formed – but Mongolia and Japan are barred.

14 – Hugh Gaitskell is elected leader of the British Labour Party, succeeding Clement Attlee who has resigned.

20 – Cardiff becomes the capital of Wales.

22 – The French government sends 60,000 more troops to Algeria to suppress revolutionary elements.

28 – The Comet 3 aircraft completes its first round-the-world flight, finishing the Montreal-London section in 6 hours and 18 minutes.

Also This Year . . .

  • Clean Air Act passed to eliminate killer smog in Britain.
  • America begins supplying direct financial aid to Vietnam.
  • Quiz shows with big prizes are introduced to American television.
  • Fads of the year in the USA: Davy Crockett hats and Rock & Roll!
  • Archers fans mourn the loss of Grace Archer in a fire.
  • Fish Fingers are created.