Following the end of the Second World War, after battling through many long years of the Great Depression, Britain begins to move back into normality and experiences some forms of postwar prosperity as clothes rationing ends and retailers can now supply consumer goods. This post will highlight the significant events in 1949, giving an overview of the year in history.

Significant events in 1949 include the discovery of another moon of Neptune, the discovery of oil under the Caspian Sea, as well as a new US President, and the introduction of intergovernmental military agreements between North America and European countries in the form of NATO. If you are looking to read about what happened in 1949 on a specific date, a 1949 newspaper provides an interesting window into the past.

1949 Timeline

Turn the page to:

33rd US President, Harry Truman


January

January 4: This 1949 timeline begins with the ‘RNS Caronia’ of the Cunard Line departing Southampton for New York on her maiden voyage.

January 15: In South Africa, three days of race rioting leave 105 people dead.

January 19: Tributes from the Poe Toaster first appear at the grave of Edgar Allan Poe.

January 20: One of the most important events that happened in 1949, Harry S. Truman begins his term as the President of the United States.

January 22: A series of winter storms throughout several American states cause deaths of thousands of cattle and sheep, with winds reading 72mph.

January 25: For the first time, the Emmy award ceremony is held at the Hollywood Athletic Club.

January 26: Australian citizenship is introduced for the first time.

January 31: Widely credited as the first daytime soap in history, These Are My Children premieres.


February

February 1: The rationing of clothes ends in Britain after the Second World War.

February 1: At this exact date, Belgian astronomer Jean Meeus states that all the planets in the Solar System are within the same 90° arc, something that will not happen again until the year 2492.

February 2: The date that South Korea officially applied for membership in the UN.

February 10: Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller shows in New York City for the first time and continues for 742 performances.

February 11: The first concert by the London Mozart Players is held in London at Wigmore Hall.

February 13: With no opposing candidate, António Óscar Carmona is re-elected as Portugal’s president.

February 13: After a landslide in Peru, 70 people are killed.

February 17: The first ever President of Israel, Chaim Weizmann, begins his first term.

Clothes Rationing

A clothing book used for rations


March

March 1: the B-50 Super Fortress ‘Lucky Lady II’ lands in Fort Worth, Texas under Captain James Gallagher. It had completed the first ever non-stop around-the-world aeroplane flight, refuelling four times.

March 1: A law was created in Bulgaria to make organised religion under the control of the state.

March 5: Judith Coplon, US Department of Justice employee, was arrested on suspicion of espionage.

March 24: Hamlet wins the Academy Award for Best Picture at the 21st Academy Awards ceremony.

March 28: During the BBC Third Programme radio show, Fred Hoyle, an English astronomer, coins the term ‘Big Bang’.

March 30: Following the decision by the Icelandic parliament to join the newly formed ‘NATO’, an anti-NATO riot takes place in Iceland.

March 31: The former British colony of Newfoundland and Labrador joins Canada as its tenth province.

March 31: Churchill makes a speech to an audience of 14,000 people, suggesting that without the deterrent of America’s atomic bomb, the Soviets would have attacked Britain.


April

April 2: For the first time in ten years, all restrictions on electric signs in the UK are lifted.

April 4: Creating the NATO defense alliance, the North Atlantic Treaty is signed in Washington D.C., one of the major events in 1949.

April 13: Killing 8 people and causing $25 million damage, the Olympia earthquake occurred in Washington, America.

April 18: Éire is formally renamed the Republic of Ireland and leaves the British Commonwealth.

April 20: To evacuate the British Commonwealth refugees who were escaping the advance of Mao’s Communist force, the Royal Navy frigate HMS Amethyst ventures up the Yangtze river. Negotiations with the Communists go on for weeks.

April 22: London opened the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference.

April 26: The Kingdom of Jordan emerges; formerly ‘Transjordan’.

April 28: The London Declaration is issued at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference.

Royal Navy Sailors HMS Amethyst

HMS Amethyst


May

May 1: Gerard Kuiper discovers Nereid, a moon of Neptune.

May 5: The Council of Europe is founded, as the Treaty of London is signed.

May 6: Cambridge University makes history, running a program on the first ever stored-program computer.

May 9: Rainier III of Monaco is given the title Prince of Monaco upon the death of his maternal grandfather, Louis II.

May 11: Israel is the 59th member admitted to the United Nations.

May 11: Formerly Siam officially declared a new name: Thailand.

May 16: After four years of closure, the Tokyo Stock Exchange resumes operation.

May 23: In one of the much discussed 1949 events, the Federal Republic of Germany is established.


June

June 5: Orapin Chaiyakan is elected as the first female member of Thailand’s Parliament.

June 6: In Kansas, alcohol sales become legal for the first time in over 60 years.

June 8: George Orwell’s book Nineteen Eighty-Four is published. The novel has a large impact on the English language as terms such as ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Room 101’ become commonly used. The book also becomes famous for its prophetic insight into an increased presence of governmental surveillance and control.

June 8: The United States experience a second ‘Red Scare’ when celebrities are named in a federal bureau of investigation reported as Communist Party members.

June 14: Albert II becomes the first primate to enter space on a US rocket, but unfortunately does not make it back alive and dies on impact at return.

June 20: Birthdate of singer and songwriter Lionel Richie.

June 27: The Australian coal strike begins.

June 29: Dock workers strike in the United Kingdom.


July

July 2: The State of Vietnam is announced.

July 4: Princess Elizabeth moves to Clarence House, which is her first official place of residence.

July 8: In South Africa, the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act began.

July 10: Khait earthquake triggered a mass landslide killing over 7,000 people in Tajikistan.

July 20: After a 19-month war, Israel and Syria sign a truce.

July 24: In La Palma, Cumbre Vieja erupts.

July 30: ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ – Perry Como topped the Billboard singles chart.

July 30: Legal aid in England and Wales is introduced, one of the most famous events of 1949 in the United Kingdom.


August

August 5: Ambato earthquake causes destruction in a number of villages in Ecuador, killing around 5,000 people.

August 8: Greece, Turkey and Iceland are admitted to the Council of Europe.

August 12: The fourth Geneva Convention is agreed to.

August 14: A military coup occurs in Syria to oust the president.

August 22: Canada experiences its largest earthquake, the Queen Charlotte Island earthquake, since 1700.

August 24: NATO or the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is established.

August 29: For the first time, the Council of Europe meet.

August 29: The Soviet Union’s first atomic bomb is tested.


September

September 6: Allied military authorities hand control of former Nazi Germany assets back to Germany.

September 6: Becoming America’s first single-episode mass murderer, Howard Unruh kills thirteen neighbours in Camden, New Jersey.

September 7: The Federal Republic of Germany is announced officially.

September 7: For the first time, the Parliament of West Germany meets for the first time in Bonn.

September 19: The United Kingdom government devalues the pound sterling from $4.03 to $2.80, leading to many other currencies dropping value.

September 19: Following Britain, 19 countries devalue their currencies against the US$.

September 23: It is announced by Harry S. Truman – US President – that the Soviet Union have tested the atomic bomb.

September 29: A flag design is approved for the People’s Republic of China.


October

October 1: The People’s Republic of China is officially proclaimed.

October 7: The Democratic Republic of Germany is officially established.

October 13: Severe flooding occurs in Guatemala causing widespread disruption.

October 16: After a communist surrender, the Greek civil war ends.

October 22: After derailing on a journey to Warsaw, Poland, 200 people are killed.

October 27: An Air France flight from Paris to New York fails and crashes killing everyone on the flight.

October 27: In India, a cyclone causes 50,000 people to become homeless and kills at least 1,000 more.

October 28: Birthdate of Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, Olympic gold medalist and television personality.


November

November 1: Eastern Airlines Flight 537 collides with Lockheed P-38 Lightning in mid-flight, killing everyone on board.

November 7: It is discovered that there is oil underneath the Caspian Sea.

November 7: Meeting for the first time in Strasbourg, The Council of Europe have their first meeting.

November 7: ‘This I Remember’ is published: Eleanor Roosevelt’s memoir of her life with Franklin D. Roosevelt.

November 15: Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte are executed for assassinating Mahatma Gandhi.

November 17: With delegates from 46 nations, the Women’s International Democratic Federation met in Moscow.

November 22: On board a ferry south of Mandalay, Burma, 30 passengers were killed by rebels that attacked the vessel.

November 28: In support of the European Union, Churchill makes a speech at Kingsway Hall, London.

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein


December

December 1: Birthdate of Pablo Escobar, Colombian drug lord.

December 4: Following statements in November, Czechoslovakia’s Roman Catholic bishops warned their communist government away from church control laws, as it would remove religious freedom in the country.

December 10: The 1949 Nobel Prizes are awarded; British Baron Boyd-Orr received the Peace Prize.

December 12: Birthdate of English actor Bill Nighy.

December 13: After a vote, it is decided that the capital of Israel will move to Jerusalem.

December 15: Killing thousands, a fishing fleet is struck by a typhoon off Korea.

December 16: Royal Assent was given to the Parliament Act 1949 in the United Kingdom.

December 26: ‘Generalised Theory of Gravitation’ is published by Albert Einstein.


Giving an overview of exactly what happened in 1949, this timeline of key and memorable 1949 events offers an insight into the relationships formed between governments, the laws and agreements put in place in multiple countries, and highlights the progression that had been made in the postwar era.