Home Decades 1960s 1963


22 November. US President Kennedy is assassinated during a trip to Dallas, Texas.


01 – In Australia, the Bogle/Chandler case mystifies police who believe poison may have been used to kill the couple.

02 – UPI reports that 30 Americans have died in Vietnam combat to date.

10 – Premier of Cliff Richard‘s Summer Holiday movie in London.

14President de Gaulle dashes British EEC hopes and says Britain is not yet ready to join the Common Market.

15 – The BBC ends its ban on mentioning politics, royalty, religion and sex in its comedy shows.

15 – UN forces bring breakaway Congo state to heels.

16Khrushchev says a nuclear war would kill 800 million people and warns that Russia has a 100-megaton bomb.

18 – British Labour Party leader Hugh Todd Naylor Gaitskell dies after a sudden deterioration in his heart condition. He is 56.

20 – Russia agrees to allow on-site inspection of nuclear tests.

22 – France and Germany sign a treaty of military and political cooperation. Known as the Elysee Treaty, it marks a turning point for Europe and ends 100 years of bitterness.

26 – Andrew Ridgeley, 50% of Wham!, is born.

28 – Actress Marcia Hathaway is attacked by a shark in Sydney Harbour, Australia.


06 – The Queen and Prince Philip arrive in New Zealand for a 12-day visit.

08 – Premier Abdul Kassem Karim is assassinated in a military coup in Iraq. Colonel Abdul Saläm Arif succeeds.

09 – First test flight of the Boeing 727 in USA.

14 – Harold Wilson is named as Labour’s new leader. In a ballot of the Party’s MPs he got 144 votes against 103 for George Brown, who was deputy leader under the late Hugh Gaitskell.

15 – French police foil an assassination attempt against de Gaulle.

18 – The Queen and Prince Philip arrive in Canberra on their first Australian tour since 1954. At a reception at Parliament House, Australian Prime Minister Menzies quoted a Thomas Ford poem in his speech – “I did but see her passing by and yet I love her till I die”.

19 – The USSR agrees to withdraw troops from Cuba.

20 – Ian Brown of UK band Stone Roses is born.


05 – Country singer Patsy Cline is killed in Tennessee when the light aircraft she is travelling in crashes into the side of a mountain.

06 – Britain and the US sign the Polaris Missile Sales Agreement allowing joint production of the first submarine-launched nuclear missiles, to replace the UK’s own successful Blue Streak and Skybolt missile projects.

07 – Yugoslavia declares itself a socialist republic, and Marshal Joseph Tito – who has been prime minister since 1945 – names himself “president for life”

08 – Syrian government is overthrown by a third military coup.

11 – Terrorist Jean-Marie Bastien-Thiry – who attempted to assassinate General de Gaulle in August 1962 – is shot at dawn.

15 – 70,000 people march through central London on a CND protest against nuclear weapons – a number of the protesters have walked from the British nuclear military base at Aldermaston in Berkshire, 50 miles west of London.

15 – In London, Minister of War John Profumo offers to resign from the Government.

16 – Lord Beveridge, architect of the British welfare state, dies.

17 – 11,000 perish when a volcano erupts in Bali.

21 – Alcatraz – the most notorious prison in the United States – is closed as the last 27 inmates of the island prison in San Francisco Bay are transferred elsewhere.

21 – The first driverless and automatically controlled Tube trains are introduced on the London Underground.

21 – Rumours link the UK Minister of War John Profumo with Christine Keeler, a call girl.

22John Profumo denies his affair with Christine Keeler in Parliament.

25Fireball XL5 screens for the first time on British television.

26 – Susann Sulley (The Human League) is born.

27 – A report by the chairman of the British Transport Commission, Dr Richard Beeching announces that only half of British railway routes carry enough traffic to cover the cost of operating them. The report lists over 2,000 stations and 250 train services which could be closed immediately on economic grounds.

30 – Ayala wins the Grand National.


01 – The satirical monthly underground magazine OZ begins publication in Sydney.

02 – Keren Jane Woodward of Bananarama is born.

1963_alabama_demo03 – After civil rights groups coordinate voter registration drives in black areas of Mississippi, Martin Luther King spearheads a massive demonstration in Birmingham, Alabama. The use of dogs and fire hoses by police arouses national indignation (pictured).

05 – A telephone hotline is established between the White House and the Kremlin. It is hoped the direct link will reduce the risk of accidental nuclear war, and enable a faster, more secure exchange of information between the leaders of the two most powerful nations in the world.

08 – Liberals win general election in Canada. Lester B Pearson forms a ministry on April 17th.

08Julian Lennon (son of John Lennon) is born.

09Winston Churchill is made an honorary US citizen by President Kennedy.

09 – Lawrence of Arabia wins seven Oscars.

10 – Nuclear-powered US submarine Thresher floods and sinks in the North Atlantic Ocean after deep diving trials, with a loss of 129 lives. It is subsequently found lying at a depth of 8,400 feet.

12Martin Luther King is arrested for leading a civil rights march in the southern US state of Alabama.

15 – The Aldermaston marchers arrive in London for a protest by 70,000 against nuclear weapons.

16 – “Little” Jimmy Osmond is born.

20 – A bomb is detonated by the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) at the Canadian Army Recruiting Centre in Montreal. 65-year-old William Vincent O’Neill is killed instantly.

21 – Michael E. De Bakey implants artificial heart in human for first time at Houston hospital; plastic device functions and patient lives for four days.

21 – William Moore, a white pro-integration postman from Baltimore on a one-man freedom march from Chattanooga to Jackson, is shot dead near Attalla in Alabama.

21The Beatles and The Rolling Stones meet for the first time at the Stones’ regular Sunday evening gig at the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond, West London.

24Mandy Rice-Davies is arrested in London as she is about to leave the country.

29 – 307-year-old Dutch shipwreck Vergulde Draeck (“Gilt Dragon”) yields silver doubloons off Western Australia coast.


03 – President Duvalier declares martial law in Haiti after protests against his rule.

05 – 1,000 are arrested on a civil rights march in Alabama, USA.

07Telstar 2 is launched.

09 – US Naval base to be established at North West Cape in Western Australia.

11 – British spy Greville Wynne sentenced in Moscow spy trial.

14 – New ‘Identikit’ snares Australian serial murderer ‘The Mutilator’. Sydney police arrest William McDonald.

15 – US astronaut Gordon Cooper orbits the Earth 22 times in his Mercury capsule and performs a perfect splashdown.

17 – A number of mailboxes in Quebec, Canada, are planted with time bombs by the Front de libération du Québec (FLQ). Five of the bombs explode, nine are successfully dismantled. Bomb disposal expert Walter Leja is critically injured when a bomb detonates while he is working on it, blowing off most of his left arm and crushing his face and chest. He suffers brain damage, loses the ability to speak and is paralysed on his right side.

18 – US Federal troops are sent by President Kennedy to quell race riots in Alabama.

20 – A Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) bomb detonates outside the Corps of Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RCEME) building. No one is injured.

24 – 318 people die and more than 500 are injured in a mass riot at a Peru v Argentina football match at the National Stadium in Lima when a Uruguayan referee disallows a Peruvian goal minutes from full-time when Argentina are one goal up.

25 – Leaders of 32 African nations agree to set up an Organisation of African Unity to give them a united voice for the first time in Africa’s history.

25 – Manchester United beat Leicester 3-1 to win the FA Cup.

26 – Pope John XXIII suffers a relapse and is seriously ill.

27 – Harvard lecturers Richard Alpert and Timothy Leary are fired after experiments with LSD.

27 – Jomo Kenyatta is elected Premier after his party, Kenya African Nation Union, wins Kenya’s first general election.

28 – Students and faculty members from Tougaloo College stage a sit-in at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Jackson, Mississippi. For three hours, the group endure insults and attacks by an increasingly violent white mob. Tougaloo student Memphis Norman is physically thrown from his seat and kicked in the head as he lay on the floor. The rest of the white mob slap the protesters, hit them with items from the lunch counter and burn cigarettes on their skin. Others dump drinks on the protesters or laugh as others cover them in sugar, mustard, and ketchup. FBI agents are observing inside but take no action.

28 – Valium is introduced. Roche’s brand name for the sedative diazepam soon becomes America’s most prescribed drug, only overtaken by Prozac in the late 1980s.

29 – 10,000 die in a cyclone in East Pakistan and 500,000 are left homeless.

29 – In Sydney, Australia, the coroner returns an open finding in the Bogle/Chandler case.


03 – Pope John XXIII (born Angelo Guiseppe Roncalli) dies at the age of 81 and is replaced on 29 June by Pope Paul VI.

04 – Pan Am places an order to buy Concorde.

05 – British Cabinet Minister John Profumo quits after a scandal links him to model Christine Keeler and he admits he lied to Parliament about their relationship.

08 – Dr Stephen Ward, a London osteopath and friend of Christine Keeler, is arrested in Watford and taken to Marylebone Lane police station. Ward is charged with living on the “earnings of prostitution” at 17 Wimpole Mews since 1 January 1961.

09 – US actor Johnny Depp is born in Kentucky.

10 – US Federal legislation requires that women receive equal pay for equal work.

11 – University of Alabama is desegregated, over the protests of Governor George C Wallace, who only steps aside to let black students in the university doors when confronted by the National Guard.

11 – A Buddhist monk burns himself to death in Saigon in protest against Vietnam’s religious persecution.

11 – In Greece, the opposition party led by George Papandreou questions the legitimacy of the 1961 election. PM Constantine Karamanlis resigns.

12 – Civil rights activist Medgar Evers is assassinated outside his home in Jackson, Mississippi.

12Cleopatra – the most expensive movie ever made to date – opens in New York City. Critics doubt that the $35 million will be recouped.

16 – Russia launches the first woman into space as former textile worker Valentina Tereshkova orbits the Earth 48 times in Vostok VI. The mission takes 70 hours 50 minutes.

16David Ben-Gurion resigns as Israeli Premier.

17 – US Supreme Court rules no locality may require recitation of the Lord’s Prayer or Bible verses in public schools.

18 – British heavyweight boxer Henry Cooper faces Cassius Clay in a non-title fight at Wembley Stadium in London. Cooper knocks Clay down in the fourth round, but the future world champion is saved by the bell. The referee stops the fight in the fifth round.

19 – Singer Paula Abdul is born.

25George Michael (Georgios Panayiotou) is born.

26President Kennedy visits West Berlin and makes his famous anti-communist speech declaring “Ich bin ein Berliner” to 120,000 Berliners gathered in front of the Schöneberg Rathaus (City Hall).

27 – US President John F Kennedy receives a rapturous welcome on an emotional visit to his ancestral homeland in County Wexford, Ireland.

29 – Cardinal Montini is elected as Pope Paul VI.


01 – The British Government admits that “Kim” Philby, the former Foreign Office colleague of the traitors Burgess and Maclean, was after all the “Third Man”. It was he who tipped off Maclean, through Burgess, that the security service was on his trail.

01 – The Zip Code is introduced in America by the US Postmaster General.

03 – All 23 people on board are killed when a DC-3 crashes into the Kaimai Ranges in New Zealand en route from Auckland to Tauranga.

06 – En route from a Peterborough concert, Jet Harris suffers injuries in a car crash near Hitchin. Singer Billie Davis, who is also in the car, emerges unhurt.

15 – The US, USSR and UK open talks towards a nuclear test ban treaty. They eventually agree that no more bomb tests should be carried out unless they are underground.

20 – Indonesia announces that it will rename the Indian Ocean the “Indonesian Ocean”. No one else seems to agree.

21 – Communist China and Soviet Russia fail to resolve their ideological differences after two weeks of secret meetings in Moscow. The Soviet Union advocates “peaceful coexistence” with the West, while China views this as surrendering to capitalism.

21 – Ord Dam ushers in great experiment in Australia.

22 – Trial of Stephen Ward begins in London.

26 – An earthquake in the Yugoslav city of Skopje kills more than 1,000 people and renders 135,000 homeless.

26 – 50mph speed limit is introduced in the UK but ignored by most drivers.

30 – Izvestia announces that Kim Philby has been granted both political asylum and Soviet citizenship.

31 – Norman Cook (The Housemartins/Fat Boy Slim) is born.


03 – Dr Stephen Ward dies in London after taking a drugs overdose.

03The Beatles make their final appearance at The Cavern in Liverpool.

05 – USA, USSR and UK sign a nuclear test ban treaty, prohibiting the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, outer space and underwater.

08 – The biggest robbery in UK history takes place when a mail train is halted by a sabotaged rail signal. The 15 Great Train Robbers, including Ronald Biggs and Buster Edwards, steal £2.6 million – mainly old banknotes on their way to be incinerated.

trainrobbery 4

09President Kennedy‘s second son dies 36 hours after his birth.

09 – Whitney Houston is born.

09 – First TV broadcast of legendary British pop TV show Ready, Steady, Go!.

13 – British police find the Great Train Robbers‘ hideout at Leatherslade Farm.

18 – James Meredith, the first black student at the University of Mississippi, receives his diploma.

24 – In Sydney, St George defeat Wests 8-3 in heavy conditions in the Australian Rugby League Grand Final before a record crowd of 69,860.

28 – “I have a dream,” says Reverend Luther King as 200,000 converge on Washington DC for a black freedom march.

30 – Washington-to-Moscow “hotline” communications link opens. Designed to reduce the risk of accidental war, the hotline is named ‘Molink’. Apart from routine testing it was not used until the Six Day War in June 1967.


01 – British spy Guy Burgess dies in Moscow.

05Christine Keeler is arrested in London and charged with perjury in the trial of John Edgecombe.

10 – American Express charge card launched in Britain.

12 – 36 British tourists die in a plane crash in the Pyrenees.

13 – Graham Nash of The Hollies tries to check if the door of the band’s van is locked while driving back from a gig in Scotland. It isn’t and he falls out of the van while it is travelling at 40MPH.

15 – A church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama (USA) leaves four black girls dead.

16 – The Federation of Malaysia is created. A mob of 10,000 gathers in Kuala Lumpur and Britain’s High Commission is burned down in protest.

18 – Martial Law is declared in Malaysia after widespread riots.

20 – In Australia, Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra begins filling with the blocking of the Molonglo River.

24 – In Sydney, William McDonald – “The Mutilator” – is sentenced to life imprisonment for murder.

27 – Joe Valachi tells the Senate crime hearings all about the Cosa Nostra.


01 – Nigeria becomes an independent republic.

04 – Pint-sized Scottish songstress and Opportunity Knocks winner, Lena Zavaroni, is born.

05 – In Melbourne (Australia), Geelong thrashes Hawthorn in the VFL Grand Final, 15.19 (109) to 8.12 (60).

07 – The first Lear Jet makes its maiden test flight. International travel for wealthy pop stars will never be the same again.

09 – Disaster strikes the 870-foot high Vajont Dam in the Italian Alps. A landslide on a hill overlooking the lake plunges 260 million cubic metres of earth into the water causing a massive tidal wave to travel across the lake. The water spills over the top of the dam, sending a 600-foot wall of water crashing down the valley beyond. 1,900 people are killed as alpine villages are washed away.

10 – Australian VFL legend, Roy Cazaly dies.

11 – French singer Edith Piaf dies of liver cancer, aged 47. She is denied a funeral mass by the Roman Catholic archbishop of Paris due to her wayward lifestyle.

13 – Fifteen million British viewers tune in to see The Beatles‘ debut on the UK television show Sunday Night At The London Palladium as hordes of screaming fans wait outside the venue. Beatlemania has arrived.

15 – West German Chancellor Adenauer resigns and is replaced by Dr Ludwig Erhard.

18Harold Macmillan resigns as British PM following a report censuring the government’s handling of the Profumo Affair. He is succeeded by Sir Alec Douglas-Home.

24 – Australia contracts to purchase 24 F-111 bombers from the US for the RAAF.

31 – Johnny Marr (The Smiths) is born.


01 – Rick Allen (Def Leppard) is born.

02 – Unpopular leader of South Vietnam Ngo Dinh Diem killed in US-supported military coup.

02 – Archaeologists find Viking remains in Canada from 500 years before Columbus’s arrival in America.

04The Beatles star at the Royal Command Variety Performance in London.

05 – Outsider Gatum Gatum wins the Melbourne Cup.

15 – In Australia, Queensland police evict Aborigines and raze their buildings to make room for bauxite mining.

22President Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. The President is hit in the head and throat when three shots were fired at his open-topped car as his motorcade was travelling through the main business area of the city.

22Lyndon Baines Johnson is sworn in as the 36th US President just two hours after an assassin shoots John F Kennedy in the head. The former vice-president takes his oath on the presidential plane at Andrew’s Air Force Base.

22 – CS Lewis, the author of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and many other books, dies at home in Oxford.

23 – The first episode of Doctor Who, starring William Hartnell, is broadcast.

24 – Kennedy‘s alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald is shot dead in Dallas Police Headquarters by small-time crook and nightclub owner Jack Ruby (pictured at right) as millions watch on TV.

25 – An estimated 800,000 Americans line the streets of Washington DC to watch the procession of President Kennedy‘s coffin from the Capitol, where his body has lain in state since yesterday. A requiem mass is held at St Matthew’s Cathedral before the president is buried in Arlington Cemetery accompanied by a 21-gun salute and three musket volleys.

29President Johnson appoints the Warren Commission to investigate Kennedy‘s death.

29 – A Trans-Canada Airlines DC8 bound for Toronto crashes within minutes of take-off, killing all 111 passengers and seven crew on board. Following the crash, looters steal wreckage from the plane and personal possessions from the dead passengers.

30 – Conservatives win in Australia and NZ.


01 – Menzies Government wins Australian federal election.

02 – The world’s longest submarine telecommunications cable is inaugurated. The Commonwealth Pacific Cable (COMPAC) runs 9,000 miles from Sydney, Australia to Vancouver, Canada.

06Christine Keeler jailed for nine months for perjury.

08 – A Boeing 707 airliner is struck by lightning near Elkton, Maryland (USA) causing it to crash. 81 passengers are killed.

10 – Zanzibar becomes independent within the Commonwealth.

11 – Kidnapped son of Frank Sinatra is freed after $240,000 ransom is paid. He is found wandering around Bel Air. Two men later receive life sentences for the kidnap, despite insisting it was just a publicity stunt.

12 – Kenya wins independence.

12The Beatles become the first act ever to knock themselves off the top of the UK singles charts when I Want To Hold Your Hand replaces She Loves You.

14 – ‘Queen of the Blues’ Dinah Washington is found dead from an overdose of sleeping pills at her home in Detroit.

18 – Actor Brad Pitt is born in Oklahoma.

21 – England cricketer Sir Jack Hobbs dies, aged 81.

Also this year . . .

  • The audio cassette is developed in Holland
  • Britain’s first woman airline pilot, Yvonne Pope, flies from Gatwick to Dusseldorf
  • Carbon Fibre is developed in the UK
  • Colour Polaroid film introduced by the Polaroid Corporation, Boston
  • The hologram is developed by Emmett Leith and Julius Upatnicks at the University of Michigan
  • Friction Welding is invented in the Soviet Union
  • ‘Gatum Gatum’ wins the Melbourne Cup

Quotes of the year

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character”.
Martin Luther King at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC on 28 August 

“All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ ”
President John F Kennedy speaking in Berlin on 26 June

New words added to the British vocabulary this year . . .

  • Peacenik
  • Fallout
  • Jet Set
  • Pop Art
  • Surfer
  • Cosa Nostra
  • Psychedelic
  • ‘Happening’