1959 – Admiral William Halsey dies of old age

William Halsey Jnr was a graduate of the United States Naval Academy in 1904. In the years that followed, he rose through the ranks. By the end of World War One, he was a Lieutenant Commander, and at the time of Pearl Harbour, he was a Vice-Admiral.

Throughout most of World War Two, he commanded the American and Allied forces in the South Pacific as Admiral of the Third Fleet. Notably, he was the ranking officer in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, where American forces triumphed despite a number of errors of judgement on Halsey’s part.

He was present for Japan’s formal surrender on September 2, 1945 – indeed, the USS Missouri, was Halsey’s flagship. He retired from active duty in 1947, and died twelve years later, to be buried in Arlington Cemetary in Washington DC.

Referenced in:

Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey – Paul McCartney

1968 – The Prague Spring is crushed by the Soviet Army

For eight glorious months in 1968, it appeared that some of the liberalisation that was sweeping the West had taken root in Czechoslovakia. The Prague Spring, as it was called, was a period when political controls on the populace of the nation were relaxed: restrictions of movement, speech and commerce were all reduced or removed, and the people rejoiced.

The Prague Spring came to an end when the Soviet Union decided to demonstrate why it had absorbed the easternmost portion of Czechoslovakia at the end of World War Two: without the defensible mountains of the Carpathian range to protect, there was little to stop the tanks of the Soviets – and those of Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria – rolled into the country, and restored Soviet control and Soviet oppression. It would be another 21 years until the Velvet Revolution fulfilled the promise of the Prague Spring.

Referenced in:

Prague — Arik Einstein
They Can’t Stop The Spring — Dervish