Home Decades 1980s 1983



07 – Unemployment total in the USA reaches 12 million.

14 – Armed police ambush a car in Kensington, London, shooting and wounding a passenger, Stephen Waldorf. They later apologise stating that this was a case of mistaken identity.

17 – Launch of breakfast television in Britain with BBC’s Breakfast Time. The ITV’s Good Morning Britain follows on 1 February.

18 – South Africa re-imposes direct rule on Namibia.

22 – Tennis star Bjorn Borg takes early retirement at the grand old age of 26.

24 – 63 Red Brigade terrorists are sentenced to terms of imprisonment in Rome.

28Billy Fury dies from a heart attack, aged 41. Though retired at the time of his death, he was planning a comeback.

31 – Drivers and front-seat passengers in the UK must wear seatbelts under a new law that comes into force at midnight.


03 – In Australia, Bob Hawke takes over as leader of the Labor Party as election is called.

04 – Singer Karen Carpenter dies in California, aged 32. The coroner lists her cause of death as “heartbeat irregularities brought on by chemical imbalances associated with Anorexia” (b. 2 March 1950).

05 – 69-year-old Nazi war criminal and former Gestapo commandant Klaus Barbie – known as the ‘Butcher of Lyon’ – is flown to France to face charges after being extradited from Bolivia.

08 – 1981 Derby winner Shergar – one of the most valuable racehorses in the world – is stolen by an armed gang from the Aga Khan’s stud farm in County Kildare, Ireland. The theft is believed to have been carried out by the Provisional IRA. A ransom was demanded (reputedly around £5 million) which wasn’t paid. Shergar is believed to have been shot and killed, though his body was never found.

11 – An inquiry into the Beirut massacre of Palestinian refugees in September 1982 results in the resignation of Ariel Sharon, Israeli defence minister.

13 – A cinema in Turin, Italy, is destroyed by fire with the loss of 64 lives.

13 – Three cable cars crash at a ski resort in the Val d’Aosta (Italy), killing ten people.

15 – The Lebanese government regains control of Beirut.

16 – 72 perish in Australian “Ash Wednesday” bush fires. 2,590 square miles of bush land is destroyed. 350,000 farm animals are also killed.

16 – Magistrates jail 36 women for breaches of the peace at Greenham Common air base.

20 – Election riots in the Indian state of Assam cause the deaths of between 800 and 1,000 people.

25 – US dramatist Tennessee Williams dies in New York when he accidentally swallows a plastic bottle cap.


02 – The Compact Disc digital audio system is launched in Britain. A five-inch disc can contain up to an hour of music, reproduced as sound by a laser-beam.

03 – Devastating floods occur in South Australia.

06 – In West Germany, the Green Party wins 24 seats in the election.

07 – A coal pit near the town of Eregli in Turkey explodes, with the loss of 97 lives.

08 – US President Reagan denounces the Soviet Union by saying that it is “the focus of evil in a modern world.”

11 – Bob Hawke becomes the Australian Prime Minister in the second-largest Labor victory in the history of Federal politics. Malcolm Fraser resigns as Leader of the Opposition expressing regret at the election loss and saying, “past Prime Ministers should not hang around . . . A great effort is going to be required of all of you. The Liberal Party must win at the next election or else the socialist onslaught will never be turned”.

23President Reagan urges ‘Star Wars’ satellite-based defence system to counter Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile attacks.

25Michael Jackson performs his ‘Moonwalk’ on television for the very first time at the ‘Motown 25’ ceremony.

29 – First laptop computer is launched in the US.


01 – 100,000 CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) protesters join hands to form a 14-mile human chain stretching from Greenham Common to Burghfield Ordnance factory in Britain. Similar protests take place in Italy, the Netherlands, and West Germany.

04 – Second Space Shuttle, Challenger, makes a successful maiden voyage, which includes the first US spacewalk in nine years.

04 – Screen legend Gloria Swanson passes away in New York.

05 – Danny Rapp, former lead singer of Danny And The Juniors is found dead of an apparent suicide.

05 – 47 Soviet diplomats and officials are expelled from France after being accused of spying.

11 – A US presidential panel recommends the installation of 100 ICBM missiles in silos in Wyoming and Nebraska, as well as the development of the single-warhead ‘Midgetman’ missiles.

12 – Harold Washington becomes Chicago’s first black mayor after a narrow victory over his Republican opponent.

14 – Pete Farndon, bass player of UK rock group, The Pretenders, dies of a drug overdose. He is found dead in his bath.

14 – A Spitfire fighter plane from WWII is sold for £260,000.

18 – Suicide car bomb destroys US embassy in Beirut, killing over 60 people. Pro-Iranian terrorists are blamed.

20 – The USSR launches Soyuz T-8 with three cosmonauts aboard. It fails to dock with Salyut 7 and returns to Earth.

21 – British £1 coin enters circulation for the first time. Notwithstanding its gilded appearance, the new coin has no gold in it. It is made of nickel-brass (a mixture of copper, nickel and zinc).

hitlerdiaries24 – Austrian chancellor Dr Bruno Kreisky resigns after 13 years in office.

25 – German magazine Stern begins to serialise 60 volumes of Adolf Hitler’s diaries (pictured at right).

29 – The Argentina Junta officially declares that the many thousands of missing persons reported since the 1970s must be considered dead.

30 – Blues legend Muddy Waters dies of a heart attack in his Chicago home, aged 68.


01 – Police break up demonstrations in 20 Polish cities.

04Reagan sides with Contra “terrorists”.

04 – In Bangladesh, many people die and 60,000 are made homeless after widespread floods.

06 – The Hitler Diaries are revealed as fakes after fooling historians and editors. The diaries – published in Stern magazine (pictured below) – had been cleverly faked by Konrad Kujau.


07Paul Weller unveils his new post-Jam group, The Style Council, at an Anti-Nuclear benefit in South London.

17 – Israel and Lebanon agree on the withdrawal of Israeli troops.

19 – Missing barrels of dioxin from the chemical plant at Seveso are found in southern France.

20 – A car bomb kills 17 people and injures more than 190 in Pretoria, South Africa. The outlawed anti-apartheid group the African National Congress (ANC) is blamed for the attack.

24 – US Congress approves spending of $625 million on the research and development of MX missiles.

25 – In Egypt, a ferry on the Nile catches fire. More than 300 people die.

25Return of the Jedi grosses $6.2 million (US) on its opening day.


09Margaret Thatcher‘s second election victory is one of the most decisive in post-war Britain. Mrs Thatcher sees her majority rise to 144 seats. In terms of share of the vote, Labour only just manage to come in ahead of the Alliance, in their worst election performance since 1918

13Pioneer 10 crosses the orbit of Neptune, the first spacecraft to travel beyond known planets.

16 – Yuri Andropov is elected Soviet President.

16/23 – The Pope returns to his native Poland, denounces the constrictions of the governing regime, meets Lech Walesa and states that the right to join a free trade union is “given by the creator”.

18 – Dr Sally Ride is the first US woman in space as she blasts off aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger. The shuttle returns safely on 24 June.

24 – Syria expels PLO leader Yassir Arafat and Syrian tanks lay siege to his guerrilla bases in Lebanon.

27 – USSR launches Soyuz T-9 with two cosmonauts aboard. It docks with the space station Salyut 7.


13 – The House of Commons votes against the restoration of the death penalty by an unexpectedly large majority.

21 – Following a rained-out free concert by Diana Ross in Central Park in New York, gangs of young men swarm through the park and its neighbouring blocks, assaulting and robbing those they encounter. Diners at the Tavern on the Green are stabbed and robbed by dozens of teenagers in “the night Central Park got mugged”.

21 – Poland ends martial law after 19 months.

27 – More than 100 people die during race riots in Sri Lanka.

29 – British actor David Niven dies in Geneva.


04 – Bettino Craxi becomes Italy’s first Socialist Premier.

06 – US sends aircraft to support Chad against Libyan-backed rebels.

15 – US admits shielding former Nazi Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie, 69, the “butcher of Lyon,” wanted in France for war crimes.

16 – Actress Carrie Fisher marries singer Paul Simon.

18Radio Caroline, operating from a converted trawler in the North Sea, resumes broadcasting.

21 – Philippine opposition leader Benigno Aquino is assassinated at Manila Airport just minutes after his return from exile in the US.

30 – NASA launches the space shuttle Challenger on a night-time launch with five astronauts aboard. It returns safely, also at night, on 5 September.


01 – Flight 007, a Korean Airlines passenger flight is shot down today over Soviet airspace. All 269 people on board are killed. The Korean airliner, a Boeing 747, left Anchorage, Alaska, bound for Seoul, Korea, on a course south and west which would take it across Japan. For reasons as yet unknown, the 747 was flying a course further to the west than it was supposed to fly – a course which took it into Soviet airspace. The Soviets tracked this plane for two and a half hours while it flew a straight-line course at 30 to 35,000 feet. Only civilian airliners fly in such a manner. At one point, the Korean pilot gave Japanese air control his position as east of Hokkaido, Japan, showing that he was unaware they were off course by more than a hundred miles.

03 – Civil war breaks out in Lebanon following Israeli withdrawal. President Reagan orders an amphibious force to Lebanon.

05 – The US imposes light sanctions against the USSR (including suspension of negotiations for a US embassy in Kiev) over the Soviet downing of a South Korean passenger plane on September 1.

09 – Medicare, the Federal Government’s publicly funded national health scheme, is launched in Australia.  The first national health scheme since the Whitlam Government introduced Medibank, the scheme will be funded by a levy based on 1 per cent of gross income with variations for large families and limited exemptions.

12 – In the second-largest theft in US history, an employee of Wells Fargo makes off with $7 million in cash from a company warehouse in Connecticut.

15 – Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin resigns and is succeeded by Yitzhak Shamir on Oct 10th.

17 – Vanessa Williams becomes the first black Miss America.

20 – US Congress authorises Marines to remain in Lebanon for another 18 months.

23 – The Australia II syndicate wins the America’s Cup. After being bolted down in Newport for 132 years, the cup will now be displayed half a world away at the Perth Yacht Club. Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke declares the day “as good as a public holiday”.

25 – 38 IRA prisoners escape from the Maze top security prison in Belfast. One prison officer is killed and another seriously injured during the mass break-out of Republican inmates.

26 – A ceasefire is agreed to in Lebanon.


02 – Neil Kinnock is elected leader of the British Labour Party in place of resigning Michael Foot.

05Lech Walesa, leader of the Polish trade union Solidarity is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

13 – The Grenadian Army, controlled by former Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard, seizes power in a bloody coup. The severity of the violence, coupled with Coard’s hard-line Marxism, causes deep concern among neighbouring Caribbean nations, as well as in Washington, D.C. The presence of nearly 1,000 American medical students in Grenada causes added concern.

14 – Cecil Parkinson resigns as British Secretary of State for Trade after revelations by his former secretary that she is expecting his child.

20 – The left-wing military coup in Grenada deposes prime minister Maurice Bishop. The prime minister and three other ministers are shot dead by troops.

22 – More than 250,000 people attend a rally protesting against nuclear weapons in central London.

23 – A truck loaded with explosives destroys the peacekeeping force building in Beirut (Lebanon), killing 241 US Marines and 58 French paratroopers.

25 – The United States invades the island of Grenada to depose the new Soviet-aligned government at the request of the Governor-General (pictured above). The initial assault (code-named ‘Operation Urgent Fury’) consists of some 1,200 US Marines and 700 Army Rangers who are met by stiff resistance from the Grenadian army and Cuban military units on the island. Heavy fighting continues for several days, but as the invasion force grows to more than 7,000, the defenders either surrender or flee into the mountains. Scattered fighting continues as US troops hunt down stragglers, but for the most part, the island quickly falls under American control. The troops evacuate 1,100 US citizens, and by mid-December, US combat forces return home and a pro-American government takes power.

30 – 2,000 people die as earthquake ravages Eastern Turkey.

30 – In the Argentine elections, a civilian government is chosen for the first time in a decade.


02 – Hostilities end in Grenada with eighteen US soldiers dead and 115 wounded.

02President Reagan signs a bill designating a federal holiday to honour the late Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.

03 – South Africa extends constitutional and political rights to Indians and coloureds, but no concessions are granted to the country’s 20 million blacks.

04 – A truck loaded with explosives explodes at Israeli HQ in Tyre, Lebanon, killing 39 people.

04 – Dennis Nilson is sentenced to life imprisonment for killing and dismembering 15 young women in Muswell Hill and Cricklewood, London.

09 – Brewing king Alfred Heineken is kidnapped.

14 – The first of 160 Cruise Missiles are delivered from the US to the Greenham Common airbase in the UK. In response, the USSR withdraws from arms limitation negotiations.

15 – Turkish Cypriots declare their sector in Cyprus to be independent, but only Turkey recognises this.

17 – An IRA bomb kills six and injures 100 outside Harrods in Knightsbridge, London.

22/23 – Breakdown of US-USSR arms reduction talks.

26 – Six robbers break into the Brink’s-MAT warehouse at Heathrow Airport, London and escape with £26 million worth of gold, diamonds, and cash. The media dubs it “the crime of the century” (pictured below).


28 – Six astronauts, including a West German, are launched in the space shuttle, returning 10 days later.

30 – Alfred Heineken, head of the Dutch brewery bearing his family name, is freed after being kidnapped on 9 November.

30 – ASIS (Australian Secret Intelligence Service) agents bungle a raid on the Sheraton Hotel in Melbourne, Australia. The planned operation was to involve the “rescue” of two ASIS agents being held hostage in of the Sheraton’s rooms. Other ASIS personnel were then supposed to free the hostages by ‘subterfuge and deception’. No inconvenience to the public was anticipated or intended. However, the exercise was interrupted by the hotel manager. The five ASIS operatives did not stop the operation.


03 – Syrian forces near Beirut fire on US reconnaissance planes, prompting an attack from US warplanes the following day.

04 – Two IRA gunmen – Brian Campbell and Colm McGirr – are shot dead in an SAS ambush near Coalisland, County Tyrone in Northern Ireland.

06 – The first heart and lung transplant operation to be performed in Britain is successfully carried out when Swedish journalist, Lars Ljungberg, receives the organs of a woman from the south of England who died yesterday. Mr Ljungberg survives for 13 days after the operation.

06 – In a London auction, a world record price of £7,400,000 is realised for a 12th century Gospels of Henry the Lion manuscript.

06 – Anthony Black, an employee of Brink’s-MAT Ltd., is charged by Scotland Yard with involvement in the theft of cash, gold, diamonds and platinum from Heathrow, the largest heist in British history.

17 – IRA car bomb kills six people and injures 91 outside Harrods department store in London.

18 – Ex-President Gerald Ford appears in the soap opera Dynasty.

28 – Dennis Wilson, the only real surfing enthusiast among The Beach Boys, drowns during an incautious dip in the Pacific Ocean from his boat moored in Marina del Rey, California.

Also this year . . .

  • Early morning television begins in Britain with BBC’s Breakfast Time followed a month later by ITV’s breakfast television service TV-AM.
  • The new £1 coin is introduced in Britain.
  • Cellular phone network starts in USA.
  • Swatch watch launched.
  • Wheel-clamping of illegally parked cars begins in London.
  • EFTPOS banking launched in Australia by Westpac.
  • ‘Kiwi’ wins Melbourne Cup.
  • Champion golfer Jack Newton loses arm in airport accident.
  • Time magazine names ‘the computer‘ as “Man of the Year.”.

Quote of the year

“Balmain boys don’t cry”
Neville Wran, New South Wales’ Premier, Australia.