February 26. Another new-fangled invention was tested
for the first time, and worked brilliantly. And thankfully it
was British. Radar - short for Radio Detection And Ranging - was
the brainchild of Robert Watson-Watt and his colleague A F Watkins.
But they were not the first to suspect that radio waves could
be used in this way. Their research began when Wilkins recalled
a Post Office engineer reporting, in 1931, that aircraft passing
overhead seemed to interfere with radio reception.
idea was simple enough. A transmitter beamed a radio signal which
bounced off any large object in its path. On February 26 the huge
BBC station at Daventry detected a bomber flying at 10,000 feet
eight miles away.
It was a modest enough beginning. Soon, radar stations would
be able to pick up aircraft formations far from the British coast.
The implications were enormous. An air force which knew where
the enemy were could concentrate its force to best effect. In
only six years' time radar would play a vital, perhaps decisive
role in the Battle of Britain, directing British fighter aircraft
to attack approaching German bombers.
October 21. Defeated by the Nationalist armies of General
Chiang Kai-Shek, the desperate Chinese rebel Communist forces
tried to break out of encirclement. With 700,000 troops at their
disposal, the Nationalists had sealed off the rebels Kiangsi stronghold
with a network of barbed wire and concrete blocks. The rebels,
led by a Hunan peasant Mao Tse-Tung, desperately tried to fight
their way out.
March 1. The one-time boy emperor of China, Pu Yi, caused
wild scenes of nostalgia in Hsinking when he was enthroned by
the Japanese masters as "puppet emperor" of conquered Manchuria.
The streets were thronged with medal-bedecked soldiers, Mongol
cavalry, painted Geishas and Lama priests. At his first court,
the new emperor announced: "The Empire of Japan, in the name of
righteousness and justice, assisted the establishment of this
state. Armed hostilities have ceased."
May 23. The famous Bonnie and Clyde saga was brought
to an end in a hail of bullets when the death-dealing duo were
killed in an ambush in Louisiana. Minutes later, the bodies of
Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were found by Texas Rangers with
more than 50 bullets in their lifeless bodies. The couple, who
killed at least 12 people, carved a lawless and lethal trail of
murder across the south- western states of America, robbing petrol
stations, banks and diners. Their killing and robbing spree had
lasted for four years.
July 22. The hoodlum named as Public Enemy Number 1,
John Dillinger, was gunned down outside a Chicago cinema where
he had seen a Clark Gable gangster film. Wanted for 16 murders,
daring bank hold-ups and some spectacular prison escapes, Dillinger
eluded the law through disguise and invention. The imaginative
gangster had a facelift, grew a moustache and even poured acid
over his fingertips to wipe out his fingerprints. On one occasion,
in an Indiana prison, he smeared a piece of wood with shoe polish
and waved the makeshift revolver at guards to aid his escape.
January 21. In Birmingham Blackshirt
leader, Sir Oswald Mosley, spoke to 100,000 people in the
biggest rally ever held by the British Union of Fascists.
March 17. The Boat Race was won
by Cambridge in a record 18 minutes 3 seconds.
April 7. In Norway, 57 people were
feared dead after a cliff crumbled plunging two towns into
May 3. Another major war by the
year 1940 was predicted in New York by British author, H
May 16. Despite the misgivings
of officials it was announced that women would be allowed
to wear shorts at Wimbledon tennis that year.
Italian, Primo Carnera, was beaten in New York by American,
Max Baer, for the world heavyweight boxing title.
July 18. The longest underwater
tunnel on the Mersey in Liverpool was opened by The King.
July 30. "The frontier of England
is not now the chalk cliffs of Dover but the Rhine," Stanley
Baldwin said in London.
August 13. In Birmingham the two-seater
"Opal" model of the Austin Seven was launched by Austin.
The Lichfield Diocesan Conference was told by the bishop
that the clergy was breaking down through overwork.
October 17. Wolverhampton barber-jockey,
A J Chamberlain, aged 59, who trained more than 100 winners,
rode his own horse in the first race of the season at Uttoxeter.
December 14. Wolverhampton Liberal
MP Mr G Mander called for a reduction in working hours to
40, without reducing wages.