North and South go to war

June 25. North Korean forces invaded the independent state of South Korea, without warning. Korea had been occupied by America and Russian troops at the end of the Second World War and divided into two states along the 38th parallel.

As the United Nations met to debate the Korean crisis, Russia was absent in protest at the continued presence of non-communist China at the UN. It proved a fatal mistake. Unable to veto UN action, Russia watched helplessly as the Security Council urged all members of the UN to go to South Korea's aid.

What followed was the first post-war trial of strength between Communism and the West. Red China supported the North Korean invaders with tanks, jet fighters and hundreds of thousands of ground troops.

The UN forces, dominated by US troops, took a hammering from massed attack by Korean tanks in the early stages of the war. But in September an armada of more than 250 boats landed UN troops on the west coast of Korea at Inchon, outflanking the Communists and driving inland with massive artillery support.

UN forces almost reached the Chinese border before China struck back with what one observer called "the bottomless well of Chinese manpower." The war, involving thousands of British conscripts, raged back and forth for three years. An estimated two million died, including many civilians. Both sides ended exactly where they had begun, at the 38th parallel.

February 10. With the Cold War well under way the 50s started with a move on the international front which sent a chill wind through the whole of the free world.

Chairman MaoRussia and China, the two great Communist nations, announced they had formed a united front against the rest of mankind.

After three months of protracted negotiations Stalin and Mao Tse Tung concluded the formal alliance which included a mutual defence treaty.

The talks between the two men - both noted for their devilish cunning - lasted so long that rumours started in diplomatic circles that Chairman Mao had been taken hostage.

The treaty itself was destined to be short-lived.

November 29. A life and career dogged by controversy and scandal reached its height of respectability when British mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell was awarded the Nobel Prize.

It was quite a year for Russell who won the prize for his book "Marriage and Morals" but who by this time had abandoned learning to campaign against nuclear arms.

The grand old man of British letters, who was to live into the 1970s and nearly reach his century, had previously won the Order of Merit and delivered the Reith lectures for the BBC.

March 31. It was the stuff of Boy's Own and Ripping Yarns and brought a whiff of adventure to one of the more austere years of the decade.

A Norwegian anthropologist called Thor Heyerdahl made a 5,000-mile journey across the Pacific on a raft made of balsa wood and logs - just to settle an argument.

What became known as the Kon-Tiki Expedition was immortalised in a book of that name which is still selling today.

It was based on Heyerdahl's theory that Polynesian islanders must have originally sailed from South America - a journey the so-called experts claimed was impossible.

Ultimately the remarkable act of seamanship proved nothing other than that anything was possible.

November 1. One of the more audacious attempts to assassinate a US head of state involved a bid by two Puerto Rican nationalists to shoot President Truman.

They tried to force their way into Blair House - where the president was staying during repairs to the White House - and a fierce gun battle followed during which one of the would-be killers was shot dead and the other captured. One guard was killed and two others badly wounded.

An unperturbed President Truman merely stayed well away from the window and kept his appointments for the rest of that day.


In brief

January 13. Carol Reed's classic film "The Third Man" was premiered in London.

January 21. Author George Orwell died aged 46.

January 27. Seisdon Rural District Council pledged to do its best for Wolverhampton's post-war overspill population, many of whom were living in "appalling shacks."

  February 13. Wolverhampton's Mayor, Coun. H Bowdler, was "extremely disappointed" that his civic appeal to restore Tettenhall Church has reached only 129.

February 24. Labour won the General Election with a greatly reduced majority as the Liberals lost a record 314 deposits.

March 6. Atom spy Klaus Fuchs was jailed for 14 years for passing on defence secrets to the Russians.

March 12. 80 Irish rugby fans died in the world's worst civil air disaster to date when their plane crashed near Cardiff.

April 18. Petrol tax went up by 9d in the budget taking the the price of a gallon to three shillings (about 15p in today's money).

April 24. Arab Palestine was annexed to create the new kingdom of Jordan.

May 1. The musical "South Pacific" won the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for the best original American play.

May 26. Petrol rationing came to an end.

June 17. The first kidney transplant was carried out by a surgeon in Chicago.

June 28. England lost 1-0 at the football to the USA in a result that amazed the sporting world.

July 9. Wolverhampton's 3,000th council home to be built since the war in Meriden Road is handed over to Frank Budge and his family.

July 11. Frank Sinatra made his British debut at the London Palladium. One critic wrote: "You can hear every word he sings which is a pity."

July 31. The country's first supermarket - Sainsbury's - opened in south London.

September 28. 80 miners were killed in a huge underground fire at Cresswell Colliery in Derbyshire.

August 31. Three British soldiers who murdered an Egyptian watchman were executed at dawn by hangman Albert Pierrepoint in the Suez Canal zone.

September 1. Across the Midlands, the worst floods for 30 years inundated Stafford, Wellington and Newport