Home Decades 1970s 1978

1978

18 November. Jonestown Massacre in Guyana.

January

01 – An Air India Jumbo explodes killing 213.

03 – Indira Gandhi is expelled from India’s Congress Party.

05The Sex Pistols make their US concert debut with a gig in Atlanta, Georgia.

10 – The USSR launches Soyuz 27 with Vladimir Dzhanibekov and Oleg Makarov aboard. The craft docks at a second port on Salyut 6 (which is already docking Soyuz 26) and the two crews switch ships, returning in each other’s spacecraft.

13 – Former US Vice President Hubert Humphrey dies.

14The Sex Pistols play their last ever gig (in San Francisco).

15 – Quarterback Roger Staubach leads the Dallas Cowboys to victory over the Denver Broncos, 27-10, in Super Bowl XII.

18 – Johnny Rotten announces he has quit The Sex Pistols, blaming manager Malcolm McLaren for “sensationalising” every aspect of the band.

18Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious is taken unconscious from a New York-bound plane and hospitalised for a drug-and-alcohol overdose.

20 – The USSR launches Progress 1 – an unmanned transport spacecraft – which docks with Salyut 6.

23 – Founder member of the group Chicago, Terry Kath, dies after accidentally shooting himself in the head. He is 31.

23 – Sweden becomes the first country to ban aerosol sprays because of fears about damaging the Earth’s ozone layer – a whole nine years before a worldwide ban on CFC’s is put in place.

24Cosmos 954, a nuclear-equipped Soviet satellite, falls out of orbit and into the dense Canadian wilderness. Investigators find the debris a week later and determine that it poses no threat to humans.

26 – The Aboriginal Land Rights Act is proclaimed in Australia, restoring some land to the Aborigines.

29 – Four motorists are found dead in their cars in the north of Scotland in the worst blizzard for 30 years. 70 passengers are rescued from a snowbound train.


February

01 – Filmmaker Roman Polanski, facing statutory rape charges in California, flees the US.

08 – Egyptian president Anwar Sadat visits the US urging President Jimmy Carter to exert pressure on Israel to negotiate a Middle East peace settlement.

09 – Roman Polanski announces his intention (whilst in London) to remain outside the USA. He left California the day before the sentence was pronounced.

12 – A bomb explodes killing two men at the Hilton Hotel in Sydney (Australia) where Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and the leaders of 10 other countries are attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting (pictured).

13 – Former BBC presenter Anna Ford becomes the first woman newsreader to join Independent Television News (ITN). The former Tomorrow’s World reporter will be ITV’s answer to the BBC news presenter Angela Rippon.

15 – Leon Spinks makes history when he defeats Muhammad Ali in 15 rounds at Las Vegas, to take the World Heavyweight Champion title. Ali regains the title from Spinks in New Orleans on 15 September.

15 – White Prime Minister Ian Smith and three black leaders agree to black majority rule in Rhodesia.

17 – An IRA firebomb with two petrol cans attached – effectively home-made napalm – devastates the La Mon House Hotel on the outskirts of Belfast. Twelve people are killed, over 20 others badly burned. Over 20 people are arrested in connection with the bomb.

19 – 74 Egyptian commandos storm a hijacked Cypriot Airlines DC-8 at Larnaca airport in Cyprus. All hostages are released but 15 of the commandos are killed by Greek Cypriot national guardsmen.

23The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac clean up at the Grammys with the albums Hotel California and Rumours taking ‘Record of the Year’ and ‘Album of the Year’ respectively.

28 – Californian police continue their search for the Hillside Strangler whose murders of LA-area women remains unsolved.


March

02 – Czech Vladimir Remek is the first man in space from neither the USSR or the USA. He travels with Soviet cosmonaut Alexei Gubarev aboard Soyuz 28 and docks with Salyut 6 to conduct experiments.

02 – Charlie Chaplin’s coffin is stolen from a cemetery in Switzerland. His body will turn up on 17 May in a field ten miles away from the cemetery.

03 – Rhodesia attacks Zambia.

05 – Ethiopian forces, supported by Russians and Cubans, retake the town of Ogaden, seized by Somalia in September.

06Hustler publisher Larry Flynt is shot and paralysed from the waist down outside a Georgia courthouse where he has been facing trial for the distribution of obscene material.

11 – Palestinian terrorists land on the Israel coast near Tel Aviv. 32 Israelis are killed and over 70 injured. Nine terrorists are killed and 2 taken prisoner.

14 – Israeli troops invade southern Lebanon and destroy five Palestinian bases in response to the recent terrorist raid on Israel.

morokidnapping15 – Somalia accepts defeat in the Ogaden War and withdraws troops.

16 – Former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro is kidnapped in Rome by Red Brigade terrorists. His five bodyguards and his chauffeur are shot dead (pictured at right). The terrorists demand the release of 15 imprisoned Red Brigade members, including their leader on trial in Turin, but current prime minister Giulio Andreotti refuses to negotiate with them.

16 – The supertanker Amoco Cadiz runs aground off Brittany, France, and breaks in half, spilling over 220,000 tonnes of oil and contaminating over 800 square miles of the Breton coastline.

18 – Red Brigade terrorists release a picture of kidnapped former PM Moro and threaten to put him on trial. Over the following month, Moro makes frequent appeals to the Italian government to negotiate with his kidnappers, as do his family and the Pope, but Andreotti remains firm.

18 – Former Pakistani prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is sentenced to death for ordering the assassination of an opponent.

21 – Rhodesia’s first three black government ministers are sworn in.

25 – Oxford wins the Boat Race after the Cambridge boat sinks a mile from the finish.

29 – French Naval helicopters in the English Channel fail to sink the Amoco Cadiz with depth charges.

30 – Bassist Paul Simonon and drummer Topper Headon, both of The Clash, are arrested for shooting pigeons from the roof of a rehearsal hall in London.


April

01 – ‘Lucius’ wins Grand National.

02 – The first episode of Dallas is screened on US television.

07President Carter postpones production of the neutron bomb, pending further research and until circumstances warrant “the ultimate decision”.

20 – A South Korean Boeing 707, 1,000 miles off course, is fired at by a Soviet fighter aircraft and forced to land at Murmansk. Two passengers are killed and 13 others injured.

21Fairport Convention vocalist Sandy Denny dies aged 31 of a brain haemorrhage after falling down a flight of stairs.

27 – A Soviet-backed military coup in Afghanistan establishes an Islamic government.

27 – Scaffolding on a cooling tower in West Virginia (USA) collapses, killing 51 people.


May

06 – Ipswich beats Arsenal 1 – 0 in the FA Cup Final at Wembley.

08Donny Osmond gets married at the age of 21, breaking the hearts of thousands of fans.

09 – In Italy, the bullet-ridden body of senior statesman (and ex-prime minister) Aldo Moro is found in a car boot in the centre of Rome after the Italian government refuses to capitulate to his captors, the Red Brigade.

10 – Princess Margaret is seeking a divorce from the Earl of Snowdon. Two years ago the couple decided to separate. The two children of the marriage are with their mother.

14 – Bianca Jagger files for divorce from Mick.

15 – Former Australian Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies dies at 83.

17 – Swiss police find Charlie Chaplin’s stolen coffin and body in the town of Noville, only a few miles from the cemetery in Vevey where his tomb was robbed 11 weeks ago. Swiss police have arrested two men – Roman Wardas, a Pole aged 24 and 38-year-old Bulgarian Gantscho Ganev who were hoping to extort £400,000 from the Chaplin family.

18 – Abortion is legalised in Italy.

19 – French troops parachute into Zaire to rescue 2,000 Europeans held hostage by rebels. 100 Europeans are found to have been massacred.

20 – Five terrorists and two policemen are killed at Orly Airport in Paris, after terrorists fire at passengers boarding an Israeli plane.

20 – NASA launches Pioneer Venus 1 on a mission to Venus.

24 – Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon divorce.

26 – The first legal casino in the US outside of Nevada opens in Atlantic City, New Jersey.


June

06 – ‘Proposition 13’, a controversial California constitutional amendment to cut state property taxes by 57% wins over California voters. Amendment reduces the state’s revenues from $12 billion to $5 billion.

08 – 29-year-old Naomi James breaks the solo round-the-world sailing record by two days. Her 53 ft yacht Express Crusader crosses the finish line in Dartmouth at 0911 BST after almost nine months at sea. She also becomes the first woman to sail solo around the globe via Cape Horn – the classic “Clipper Route”.

09 – The Mormon church opens its priesthood to blacks for the first time.

15 – Italian president Giovanni Leone resigns after allegations of fiscal misconduct.

19 – Cricketing star Ian Botham becomes the first man in the history of the game to score a century and take eight wickets in one innings of a Test match. The Somerset all-rounder’s blistering performance helps bring England victory by an innings and 120 runs in the second Cornhill Test.

21 – Civilian William Hanna is killed in the crossfire between Provisional IRA bombers and British security forces at the Ballysillan post office depot in Belfast. Three IRA men also die.

24 – The president of North Yemen is killed by a bomb.

25 – Argentina wins the (soccer) World Cup, beating Netherlands 3-1.

26 – The president of South Yemen is killed by the same faction that murdered the North Yemeni president two days earlier.

28 – In the case of Bakke v the University of California, the US Supreme Court rules that the college has to admit white applicant Allan Bakke to its medical school. Bakke claimed his civil rights had been violated by the school’s minority student admission quota.

29 – Pop star Peter Frampton is injured in a car crash in the Bahamas.


July

03 – China cancels all aid to Vietnam.

05 – The Australian government lifts the five-year ban on the export of live Merino rams.

06 – Fire sweeps through a sleeper carriage of the Penzance to Paddington (London) night express in the early hours of the morning, killing 11 passengers and injuring about 30 others. One person dies later in hospital. The interconnecting doors of the carriage had been locked.

07 – The Solomon Islands gain independence from British rule.

07 – Martina Navratilova beats Chris Evert for the women’s singles title at Wimbledon.

08 – Sandro Pertini is elected Italy’s first socialist President.

08 – Björn Borg beats Jimmy Connors in three straight sets to win the Wimbledon title for the third year in succession.

08 – Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon of The Clash are arrested in Glasgow for being drunk and disorderly.

11 – 170 die in a campsite on the Spanish east coast as a tanker truck carrying liquid gas explodes. 100 more are injured.

18 – In South Africa, Nelson Mandela is refused the thousands of cards he has received for his 60th birthday.

26 – The world’s first test-tube baby, Louise Brown, weighing five pounds twelve ounces, is delivered by a caesarian operation at Oldham District General Hospital, Greater Manchester.

1978testtube

28 – Passenger train services in Tasmania are discontinued due to lack of demand.

31Gough Whitlam resigns from the Australian federal parliament.


August

04 – Former British Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe and three others are charged with conspiracy to murder former male model Norman Scott.

04 – Having recently discovered that their land was used as a toxic waste dump between 1947 and 1952, the residents of New York’s Love Canal community begin to evacuate their homes. Three hundred homes will be buried as a result of contamination by the Hooker Chemicals and Plastics Company.

06 – Pope Paul VI dies of a heart attack. He is succeeded by John Paul I.

08 – NASA launches Pioneer Venus 2 to reach Venus.

10 – The American Chrysler car company announces it is selling its European manufacturing operations to the French Peugeot-Citroën group.

17 – The first balloon crossing of the Atlantic, from Presque Isle, Maine (USA) to Evreux, Normandy (France) is completed by three Americans in 137 hours, six minutes in their balloon, Double Eagle II.

20 – A bus containing Israeli airline El Al aircrew is attacked by machine-gun wielding Palestinian terrorists outside the Europa Hotel in London’s Mayfair shortly after noon. One of the flight attendants, Irit Gidron (29) is killed and nine other people are injured. One of the attackers also dies.

22 – In Nicaragua, Sandinista guerrillas seize the parliament building in Managua and take 1,500 hostages.

22 – Kenyan President Jomo Kenyatta dies, aged 84.

24 – New Orleans bandleader and wild man, Louis Prima, dies after nearly three years in a coma.

26 – Cardinal Albino Luciani is elected Pope and is to be known as John Paul I.


September

03 – An Air Rhodesia Viscount is shot down by Joshua Nkomo’s Patriotic Front. It crashes near Lake Kariba, with the loss of 38 lives. Of the 18 survivors, 10 are shot dead by Nationalist guerrillas.

05 – The Jumna river bursts its banks in India and 10,000 lives are lost in the ensuing floods.

05/17 – Talks between Egypt, the US and Israel at Camp David lead to the Camp David Accord, which ends 30 years of hostility between Egypt and Israel.

07 – Keith Moon, the wild man of pop, dies from a suspected drugs overdose. The 32-year-old drummer with The Who had been to Peppermint Park, a new hamburger restaurant in Covent Garden, to a party given by Paul McCartney in memory of Buddy Holly, who died 19 years ago at the height of his fame.

08 – Martial law is imposed in Iran by the Shah in Teheran after demonstrations against his regime left 58 die in the rioting.

10 – Martial law is declared in Rhodesia to combat increasing guerrilla activity.

11 – Bulgarian defector and dissident writer Georgi Markov dies after being stabbed by a Ricin poison-tipped umbrella by Bulgarian secret police (the Darzhavna Sigurnost) at a bus stop near Waterloo Bridge in London on 7 September.

15 – German Baader-Meinhof terrorist Astrid Proll, 31, is arrested in London. She is working in a West Hampstead garage under a false name when officers from Special Branch arrest her.

15Muhammad Ali defeats Leon Spinks and regains his title, to become boxing’s World Heavyweight Champion for the third time.

15 – German aircraft engineer, Willy Messerschmitt (b. 1898) dies.

16 – For the second year in a row, the Australian Rugby League Grand Final is a draw. This time between Manly (11) and Cronulla (11).

16 – 20,000 are feared dead in Iran after a minute-long earthquake. The town of Tabas and surrounding villages are devastated.

19 – 13-year-old paperboy Carl Bridgewater is shot in the head at close range at an isolated farmhouse near Stourbridge in Staffordshire. Police believe Carl may have disturbed burglars at the house and they carried out the shooting.

19 – Manly beat Cronulla 16-0 in the Australian Rugby League Grand Final replay.

20 – South African Prime Minister Vorster announces his resignation “for health reasons”.

25 – At least 150 people die in one of America’s worst air disasters when a light aircraft collides with Pacific Southwest Airlines Flight 182 over San Diego and both crash on to houses. All 135 passengers on the PSA 727, and the student pilot of the light aircraft die immediately; others are killed on the ground as burning wreckage crashes on homes.

29 – Pope John Paul is found dead in his bed by his private secretary. He is thought to have died of a heart attack after only 33 days in office. Some Catholic groups believe the liberal, working-class pope was poisoned in a plot by the Papal See’s traditionalist wing but no post-mortem is carried out and an investigation is not held.

29 – P W Botha elected PM in South Africa.

29 – Geoff Boycott is sacked as captain of Yorkshire Cricket Club.

30 – Hawthorn 18.13 (121) defeat North Melbourne 15.13 (103) in the Australian VFL.


October

03 – Australian Lynette Phillips, a member of the Ananda Marga sect, burns herself to death in Geneva in protest against “injustice in the world”.

04 – Emily and William Harris are jailed for ten years for kidnapping Patty Hearst.

05 – “The Wild One”, Australian rock singer Johnny O’Keefe, 43, dies in Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital after an earlier heart attack at his Double Bay home.

06 – Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad of Swedish pop quartet ABBA, marry in a private ceremony after living together for nine years.

08 – Mario Andretti becomes world Formula One motor racing champion.

08 – The Australian Wran government has a landslide victory in the NSW state election.

09 – Belgian singer/songwriter Jacques Brel dies.

11 – Nancy Spungen, the American girlfriend of Sex Pistols‘ bassist Sid Vicious, is found dead from multiple stab wounds at New York’s Chelsea Hotel. Vicious (pictured below) is charged with murder but claims to remember nothing about the night.

12 – Sydney rugby player Paul Hayward, Warren Fellows and William Sinclair are arrested in Bangkok for heroin smuggling.

16 – Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, Archbishop of Cracow, becomes Pope John Paul II. He is the first non-Italian Pope for 400 years.

19 – The body of actor Gig Young is found lying beside that of his bride of three weeks in New York. He is clutching a revolver. Police believe the actor killed his wife before turning the gun on himself. Young made over 50 films during his career, including his Academy Award-winning performance in They Shoot Horses Don’t They? (1969).

24 – Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones is convicted in Canada of heroin possession. He receives a one-year suspended sentence and is ordered to play a charity concert for the blind.

27 – Four people are killed and four others seriously wounded when a gunman opens fire at two separate locations in the Midlands. The gunman kills George Birkett and his son, Phillip, on their driveway in Andrew Road on the Bustleholm estate, Wednesbury, and then Mrs Birkett inside the house. Their daughter, Gillian Birkett, is seriously wounded. He then rings the bell of the house next door, shooting Judith Chambers who answers and then her husband Joe as he goes to her aid. The gunman then speeds off in a Ford Capri shooting indiscriminately at houses, narrowly missing several people, eventually stopping at a petrol station in Nuneaton where, having asked for some petrol, he shoots dead the attendant and seriously injures her husband.

27 – The UN military command in South Korea discover an invasion tunnel beginning in North Korea.

28 – Barry Williams, the 36-year-old Bustleholm neighbour of the murdered Birkett family, is arrested in Buxton, Derbyshire and charged with the murders after a car chase through the county. In 1979, he is sentenced to indefinite detention in Broadmoor and serves 15 years.

29Chairman Mao‘s Little Red Book is denounced by the Communist Party in China.


November

02 – Soviet cosmonauts Kovalenok and Ivanchenkov descend to earth in Soyuz 31 after a record 139 days in space.

02 – A new British newspaper, The Daily Star, is published by Express Newspapers.

03 – The Caribbean island of Dominica becomes an independent republic.

04 – Australian bakers’ strike leads to panic buying and bread rationing.

05 – Fierce fighting in Teheran causes Iranian prime minister Sharif-Emami to resign.

08 – William Jefferson Clinton is elected governor of Arkansas, becoming the youngest governor in the US at the age of 32.

18 – 914 followers of the Reverend Jim Jones – a cult known as the People’s Temple – commit mass suicide in Jonestown, deep in the jungles of Guyana (pictured below). Survivors who hid in the jungle claim Jones forced them all to drink a mixture of soft drink Kool-Aid laced with cyanide. A note, signed by Jones, explains the deaths as “an act of revolutionary suicide”. 276 of the dead are children.

jonestown

20 – Former Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe is accused in court of plotting to kill his former homosexual lover and dispose of the body. He is charged with David Holmes, George Deakin and John le Mesurier (not the Dad’s Army actor) of conspiracy to murder Norman Scott.

27 – San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and openly gay city supervisor Harvey Milk are shot dead at City Hall by disgruntled former supervisor Dan White. White later pleads “Twinkie insanity” (ie: he had been eating too much junk food in the weeks leading up to the attack) and actually receives a reduced sentence.


December

01 – Guerrillas kidnap two British bankers in El Salvador.

04Pioneer Venus 1 reaches Venus and goes into orbit, conducting a survey of the planet.

06 – USSR signs a 20-year pact with Afghanistan.

08 – Former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir (b. 1898) dies in Jerusalem.

09Pioneer Venus 2 reaches Venus, separating into five probes which measure the atmosphere as they descend to the surface.

10 – Begin and Sadat share Nobel Peace Prize.

14Studio 54 co-owner Ian Schrager is busted for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. IRS agents also find hefty bags containing nearly $1 million in cash.

19 – Indira Gandhi is expelled from the Indian Parliament and imprisoned on charges of conspiracy and electoral misconduct.

22 – An all-out strike at the BBC results in blank screens and millions of viewers tuning in to ITV, resulting in a victory for ITV in the ratings Top 20.

25 – Vietnam begins a full-scale invasion of Cambodia.

26 – Indira Gandhi is released after a week in jail for refusing to testify on a corruption charge.

27 – Spain becomes a democracy after 40 years of dictatorship.

27 – The Soviet spacecraft Venera 11 and Venera 12 reach Venus and release capsules onto the surface which relay scientific data.

sadat197830 – After months of testimony, including a taped interview with Cuba’s Fidel Castro, the US House Assassinations Committee determines that John F Kennedy‘s death was probably the result of a conspiracy, citing substantial evidence of more than one shooter.


Also This Year . . .

  • Egyptian president Anwar Sadat is Time Magazine ‘Man of the Year’ (pictured at right)
  • First “Gay Mardi Gras” held in Sydney
  • ‘ Arwon’ wins Melbourne Cup
  • New 3 Bedroom house in Sydney’s Western suburbs selling for $21,000 – $45,000

Quote Of The Year

“I think Britain could benefit from a Fascist leader. I mean Fascist in its true sense – not Nazi”
David Bowie