May 2. Wolves returned to their home town in triumph,
having won the FA Cup by putting three goals past Leicester at
Wembley. Wolverhampton went wild as the cup was borne in triumph
to the Town Hall.
the Express & Star reporter put it: "I am not ashamed to write
that as we travelled in one of the three coaches between the Low
Level station and the town hall, it was hard to keep a lump from
coming into the throat.
"From the balcony of the town hall, all one could see was the
vast sea of faces in every direction, and when the Mayor (Alderman
H E Lane) brought Billy Wright, clutching the cup out to face
the crowd, there was a roar greater than anything I had heard
at Wembley. "The captain introduced his team one by one ('don't
expect them to make speeches, they are far too shy')"
July 27. The world's first jet airliner, the De Havilland
Comet, made its first flight. Pioneering work by the Midland-educated
Frank Whittle had put Britain at the forefront of jet technology
and Gloster Meteor fighters had taken part in the closing weeks
of the Second World War.
Although America was steadily catching up, the first flight
of the Comet was a tremendous boost for a Britain still enduring
the austerity of rationing. The airliner, built under conditions
of great secrecy, had its first flight at Hatfield in the hands
of test pilot Group Captain John Cunningham.
BOAC, the British Overseas Airways Corporation, ordered 16 of
the new aircraft and Britain seemed certain to sell its beautifully
streamlined Comets around the world. But Comet held two dark secrets.
The first was a design fault which led to several disastrous crashes
in its early years. The second was the practical problem of maintenance.
Those inboard engines looked elegant but when it came to daily
repairs, the underwing engines of the rival Boeing jets won hands-down.
Although it was never a commercial success as an airliner, Comet
was developed and refined to become Nimrod, one of the most reliable
maritime reconnaissance aircraft ever built
May 12. The Berlin Airlift finally came to an end, having
saved the German city from starvation under a communist blockade.
The airlift had succeeded in forcing the Russians to abandon the
322-day stranglehold on Berlin.
It had been an enormous operation. Berlin needed 2,500 tons
of food per day. More than 90,000 take-offs and landings had been
recorded by British and US planes which delivered an average of
1.5 tons of supplies every single minute of the siege. The blockade
was imposed by the Russians, furious at currency reforms in West
Germany which were leading to increased prosperity and showing
up the economic failings of the Soviet-occupied East Germany.
June 8. George Orwell published a novel whose chief villain
would pass into everyday language. Nineteen Eighty-Four was a
bleakly depressing work, set in a Britain of the future where
an all-powerful dictatorship manipulated people's thought processes
in a grim, post-war world. Orwell, who claimed to be a socialist,
insisted that this new work was not an attack on the Labour Party
but a warning of where communism could lead. The arch-villain
of the book was never revealed but his image gazed down from over
billboard and surveillance screen. Big Brother was with us.
March 18. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, better
known as Nato, was founded. The alliance of eight Western countries
declared from the outset that it would not wage an aggressive
war against the Soviet Union. Britain's foreign minister Ernest
Bevin insisted that the alliance was "purely defensive." Even
so, Russia saw Nato as a threat and in the years ahead the arms
build-up in the two rival camps of communism and capitalism would
cost each side billions of dollars.
February 3. German Jews protested
in Berlin at Alec Guinness's depiction of Fagin in the film
March 11. After a brief war, Israel
and Jordan called a ceasefire.
April 2. Following protests in Stafford
against council rents, Minister of Health Anuerin Bevan agreed
to re-examine financial arrangements to provide council houses.
The Federal Republic of Germany, better known as West Germany,
June 8. George Orwell's depressing
novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, was published.
June 12. Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery
reviewed Staffordshire Territorials at Lichfield and declared:
"I wish there were more like you."
July 27. First flight by Comet
September 2. Four hundred men and
women called off an unofficial strike at Joseph Lucas of
Birmingham for a 1d per hour pay increase.
September 24. Cannock angler Mr R.
Woodall beat 923 rivals to take England's top angling award
at a competition in Norfolk.
September 21. Russia tested its
first atom bomb.
September 23. Birth of Bruce Springsteen,
October 1. Mao Tse Tung's communists
took power in China.
October 8. Trade unionists in Smethwick
called for an investigation into the uneven post-war supply
of cigarettes, complaining that Midland folk were victims
of "spivs who are duping the working man".
November 26. India's new constitution
makes it the world's biggest democracy, with 173 million
December 28. US Air Force concluded
an investigation by declaring that there were no such thing
as flying saucers.