Mussolini takes revenge

October 3. Italian troops marched into Ethiopia, claiming it as their African empire for their fascist leader, Mussolini. Ethiopia was the only independent black state to survive the "scramble for Africa" by rival European nations in the 19th century.

Italy had tried once before and been defeated by an Ethiopian army in 1896. Mussolini talked of avenging this humiliation, but the rest of the world saw his 1935 adventure for what it was - naked aggression against an almost defenceless state.

The League of Nations was as powerless to stop this attack as it had been during the Japanese invasion of Manchuria a few years earlier.

It was a particularly savage onslaught. The Italian fascists used not only bombs and artillery against the poorly-armed natives but unleashed poison gas from the air, causing untold suffering.

Britain decided not to intervene, fearful that any opposition to Mussolini might drive him into closer alliance with Hitler. It was a vain hope.

TE LawrenceMay 19. "Lawrence of Arabia" alias Colonel T E Lawrence, died at at the age of 47 following a motorcycle accident after which he lay unconscious for five days with a fractured skull. The legendary figure had been riding his machine from Bovington army camp in Dorset, to his nearby cottage, Clouds Hill, and swerved to avoid two boy cyclists. The story of Lawrence's exploits with the Arab rebels was told in his best seller Revolt in the Desert, but more fully in The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, which he refused to publish in his lifetime. This version recounts how he was briefly captured by the Turks and submitted to assault and humiliation.

May 6. King George and Queen Mary's Silver Jubilee was a day of triumph and pageantry in London. It was 25 years since he became king, following the death of his father, Edward VII - and the special day brought the biggest crowds onto the streets since Armistice Day in 1918.

As their majesties drove past Nelson's Column, tiers of youngsters cheered their heads off in between licks of ice cream. At St Paul's, all eyes were on the Queen, looking resplendent in white with a necklace of pearls and brilliant stones. The King wore the scarlet uniform of a field marshall.

February 10. Gracie Fields, the "throstle of Rochdale," was the recipient of the latest astronomical film offer. She signed a two-year film contract with Associated Talking Pictures to make three films for which she was to receive the unprecedented sum of 150,000.

"Our Gracie" got as much, if not more, than Garbo got at the time, said the company. The Lancashire lass said: "I don't really like it. There's too much responsibility. Give me a cottage and ten shillings." The star came to fame singing Sally in revue and with comedy songs such as "The Biggest Aspidistra in the World."

February 13. A small courtroom in New Jersey was the focus of world attention as 33-year-old unemployed carpenter, Bruno Hauptman, was sentenced to death for the murder of the 20-month-old baby of aviation hero Charles Lindbergh.

Although the evidence against Hauptman was circumstantial, it was damning. Scientific evidence claimed that the ladder used to reach the child's nursery was made by the defendant. He also paid for some petrol with a ten dollar bill known to have been part of the $50,000 ransom demanded - and $13,750 of the ransom money was found in a cellar at Hauptman's New York home.


In brief

January 10. Screen star Mary Pickford won a divorce in Los Angeles from swashbuckling film hero Douglas Fairbanks Sr.

January 30. The Red Army was 940,000-strong, said the Kremlin, scotching a belief in the West that the figure was 562,000.

February 1. The world's first public television service was planned for that year by the BBC.

February 18. In Berlin two women were beheaded after being accused of spying.

April 1. An alliance with Germany was turned down by Japan in Tokyo.

April 7. In the State of Mississippi 26 people were killed and 150 injured as tornadoes struck the area.

April 27. West Bromwich Albion were beaten 4-2 by Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup Final at Wembley.

May 4. The world's longest escalator was installed for the opening of London's Leicester Square tube station.

May 17. At the age of 19, film and stage star Vivien Leigh shot to fame and signed a record 50,000 film contract.

June 15. At Welwyn Garden City 14 people died in a rail crash.

June 21. A telephonist in Croydon, London, won a GPO competition to find a voice for the Speaking Clock.

July 9. Ivan the Terrible's torture chamber was discovered by engineers working on the new underground railway in Moscow.

October 4. At Cosford an entire reconstruction of the pumping and purification plant was planned at a cost of 57,500.

November 20. Wolverhampton motorists were reminded by the chief constable that the new "Halt At Major Road Ahead" traffic sign must be obeyed. The first time it went up road users completely ignored it.

December 4. In Dudley a "land scarcity" prompted a local councillor to claim that if the town did not get more land for building "we are going to die of decay."