IT HAPPENED THEN
Historical highlights from May
1937 80 years ago
The coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth took place at Westminster Abbey. It came after the abdication of the king’s brother Edward VIII the previous December. This was the first coronation to be filmed and broadcast on the radio.
The German airship Hindenburg burst into flames while mooring at Lakehurst, New Jersey, in the USA. A total of 35 people, passengers and crew, were killed in the disaster.
Neville Chamberlain became prime minister of Great Britain, succeeding Stanley Baldwin.
1947 70 years ago
US President Harry S Truman signed an Act of Congress to give $400 million worth of military and economic aid to Greece and Turkey. Both were threatened by communist insurgencies, and Truman sought to counter these.
British film director David Lean’s brilliant version of Charles Dickens’s novel Great Expectations was screened. It starred John Mills and Valerie Hobson. Other films you could see at cinemas included Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious, starring Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant, and Scarlet Pimpernel, with Leslie Howard and Merle Oberon.
1957 60 years ago
Britain tested its first hydrogen bomb at Maiden Island in the Pacific Ocean. The first bomb was dropped by former Norwich man, W/Cmdr Kenneth Gilbert Hubbard, flying a Valiant. Operation Grapple
was part of a series of tests which led to Britain becoming the world’s third official nuclear power. The H-bomb tests were denounced as “un-Christian” by Canon L J Collins, Precentor of St Paul’s, London, while Labour Party leader Hugh Gaitskell called for their postponement.
Ipswich Town was promoted to football’s Division Two, scoring more than 100 goals in the process. Manager Alf Ramsey, in his second season with the club, steered it to the Third Division South title. It was a poor season for Norwich City; bottom of the same league, having to apply for re-election.
Lord Mayor of Norwich, Arthur South, opened the Victoria Bowling Club’s green at Trafford Road with a match against a team of ex-lord mayors. At 150-years-old, the Victoria was said to be the city’s oldest bowls club.
Young Prince Charles arrived at Holkham Hall in Norfolk to stay with the Earl and Countess of Leicester. The nine-year-old prince was recovering from an operation to remove his tonsils and adenoids.
1967 50 years ago
Prime Minister Harold Wilson announced Britain’s application to join the European Economic Community. Talks were due to start on June 6. Ireland also applied to become a member. “This is a historic decision which could well determine the future of Britain, of Europe, indeed the world for decades to come,” Wilson told Parliament. French President Charles de Gaulle – ‘Monsieur Non’ – poured cold water on the plan, citing the UK’s close links with the USA as an obstacle.
War loomed once again in the Middle East. Egypt closed the Straits of Tiranto, between Sinai and Arabia, to Israel, blockading the Israeli port of Eilat. Syria and other Arab nations mobilised their armed forces, while the USSR backed Egypt. Time was running out, warned Israel.
Glasgow Celtic became the first British football team to win the European Cup. The ‘Lions of Lisbon’ defeated Inter Milan 2-1 in the final, played in the Portuguese capital.
Despite the late withdrawal of top band Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch, the Norwich Rag Barbecue in Earlham Park was a great success. Some 8,000 people saw The Kinks and Chris Farlowe perform in fine weather.
About 1,600 Birds Eye workers went on unofficial strike in Great Yarmouth. After a weeklong stoppage a deal was struck between management and representatives of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, and the strikers returned to work.
A quarter of a million people welcomed solo round the world yachtsman Sir Francis Chichester home to Plymouth. He had set out aboard Gipsy Moth IV 275 days earlier. Asked by reporters if he had any future adventures planned, the 65-year-old sailor replied: “Not for a week”.
The Road Safety Act became law. Police gained powers to conduct roadside breath tests on drivers suspected of drink driving.
1977 40 years ago
Queen Elizabeth II began her Silver Jubilee year celebrations in Glasgow. Events would culminate the following month.
Star Wars made its cinematic bow. George Lucas’s ‘Western in outer space’ starred Harrison Ford, the late Carrie Fisher and Alec Guinness. It was the highest grossing film of its era.
Liverpool Football Club won the European Cup for the first time with a memorable 3-1 victory over Germany’s Borussia Moenchengladbach in Rome.
Sir Francis Chichester aboard The Gipsy Moth IV at Greenwich, London.
Sir Alf Ramsey.
Prime minister Harold Wilson.
Sir Arthur South.