13 die on Bloody Sunday

January 30: Bloody Sunday in Londonderry. The Parachute Regiment was drafted in to deal with a demonstration that turned into a riot. Shots rang out. The paras, who claimed they were under attack, fired back. By the time it was over 13 civilians were dead.

Many claimed afterwards that the first shots had been fired by a Loyalist sniper. The subsequent inquiry exposed as lies the claims that some of the dead had been carrying bombs. There was outrage, too, at the firepower unleashed by the soldiers.

Bloody Sunday became a watershed in Anglo-Irish relations which lingers to this day, despite Tony Blair's formal apology in 1998 and the offer of a new inquiry. As soon as the carnage was known, the IRA vowed revenge. It struck without warning at the paras' headquarters in Aldershot. The bomb killed five women, a gardener and a Roman Catholic priest.

February 16. It was the year of the power cuts. Industry went on to a three-day week to conserve fuel as the miners' dispute began to bite. On this day Britain groped its way through the dark as blackouts lasting nine hours were imposed - and worse seemed on the way as the power workers declared that they would not move oil trains past pickets set up by the miners. Lord Wilberforce led an inquiry into miners' pay which did its work in less than two days and concluded that the miners deserved an extra 6 per week.

September 5. The Munich Olympics were plunged into a bloody nightmare as Arab guerillas seized nine hostages from among the Israeli sports team. The Israeli Olympic squadThe terrorists, who demanded the release of Palestinians held in Israeli jails, also wanted safe passage out of Germany with their hostages. The Israeli team immediately said they would quit the Games, alleging that the Germans had not done enough to protect them. As the terrorists and their captives made a move that night, German police marksmen opened fire. It was a botched operation. Four Arabs were killed but one policeman and all nine Israeli hostages perished in the shoot-out.

September 21. The first of thousands of Ugandan Asians began arriving at Heathrow, having been expelled by the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. For years the Asians had formed the prosperous middle class of Uganda.

Amin was determined to "Africanise" his nation. He not only kicked out the Asians but allowed his soldiers to rob them. Most of the newcomers arrived penniless at Heathrow, to be greeted by a suspicious public, already wary of mass immigration, and temporary housing on old air-force and army bases.

They went on to become one of the most successful examples of immigration, starting from nothing and turning small businesses into big ones. Within 20 years some of the children of Uganda's Asians were millionaires.

August 11. The last US ground troops in Vietnam were withdrawn as a battalion of the 21st Infantry packed up and left the Da Nang airbase. The Vietnam trauma had begun for America in 1965 when marines went ashore in a defensive role. Later it was claimed that US forces were no more than advisers to the South Vietnamese army.

But as conscripts were drawn into the fighting and public opinion turned against the war. President Nixon promised to "bring the boys home" and hand the fighting over to the South Vietnamese. The war cost America more than 45,000 dead. Even after the last of the infantry returned home, the US Air Force continued to pound North Vietnamese positions.


In brief

January 22: Six became 10 when Britain became one of four new countries to join the EEC.

  March 17. One hundred striking garage staff meant there were no WMTA buses operating over the weekend.

March 28. Nine council-owned house plots in Penkridge attracted more than 100 applications. One councillor suggested the asking price for the land, as little as £1,750 per plot, was too cheap.

April 11: Paul McCartney was fined for importing cannabis into Sweden.

June 17: Five men were arrested after being caught red-handed trying to bug the Democrat offices in Washington's Watergate complex.

June 18: More than 100 people were killed when a BEA Trident which had just taken off from Heathrow crashed in a field at nearby Staines.

July 18: Home Secretary Reginald Maudling was forced to quit over his involvement with the corrupt Yorkshire architect John Poulson.

September 1: Bobby Fischer became the first world chess champion following an acrimonious battle with his arch rival Boris Spassky.

October 9: Twenty-stone Cyril Smith proved to be every inch a Liberal when he won the Rochdale by-election.

October 15. Five soldiers of the Staffordshire Regiment were hurt by a shotgun booby-trap planted in a house in Armagh.

October 25. Flamboyant South Worcestershire MP Gerald Nabarro was cleared of dangerous driving. He had been convicted at an earlier hearing but claimed his secretary had been driving. She did not attend the second hearing.

November 7: President Nixon won a landslide victory to return to the White House - but not for long.

December 1. Birmingham singer Polly Brown denied rumours that she was engaged to DJ Jimmy Savile.

December 7. Cannock Council banned buses from the town centre for a three-month experiment.