March 1961

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March 1, 1961: Peace Corps established by U.S. President Kennedy
March 3, 1961: Hassan II becomes new King of Morocco
March 8, 1961: Scotland's Holy Loch begins hosting American nuclear missile submarine

The following events occurred in March 1961:

March 1, 1961 (Wednesday)Edit

March 2, 1961 (Thursday)Edit

March 3, 1961 (Friday)Edit

  • Hassan II was formally enthroned as King of Morocco, one week after his father's death.[7]
  • The U.S. Air Force successfully launched the first of its "economy" rockets, the RM-90 Blue Scout II, designed to put payloads into space at a lower cost.[8]
  • Elsie May Batten, a 59-year-old shop assistant and wife of famed sculptor Mark Batten, was found stabbed to death with an antique dagger at the London curiosity shop where she worked.[9] Her killer, Edwin Bush, was the first British murderer to be caught by use of the Identikit facial composite system.[10]
  • Died: Paul Wittgenstein, 73, Austrian-born pianist

March 4, 1961 (Saturday)Edit

March 5, 1961 (Sunday)Edit

  • At a press conference at Andrews Air Force Base, spokesmen for the U.S. Air Force Research and Development command announced that they had developed an atomic clock "so accurate that its biggest error would not exceed one second in 1271 years", and, at 62 pounds, light enough that it could be used on aircraft in place of the existing system of crystal oscillators. Conventional atomic clock units, though more accurate, weighed over 600 pounds and were impractical for flight.[14]
  • The crash of a U.S. Air Force Boeing KB-50 refueling plane killed all ten men on board.[15]
  • Born: Marcelo Peralta, Argentinian musician, in Buenos Aires
  • Died: Kjeld Abell, 59, Danish playwright, shortly after finishing his last work, Skriget (The Scream)

March 6, 1961 (Monday)Edit

  • The phrase "affirmative action" was first used to refer to a governmental requirement to promote equal opportunity by giving preferences in order to remedy prior discrimination. President Kennedy used the term with the issuance of Executive Order 10925.[16] The original context was in Section 301 of the order, providing that federal government contracts include a provision that "The contractor will take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin."[17]
  • The British soap opera Coronation Street was fully networked by ITV, with a new schedule of Monday and Wednesday evenings at 19:30.
  • Born: Bill Buchanan (computer scientist), Scottish academic, computer scientist, cryptographer, first person to receive an OBE for services to Cyber Security at the 2017 Birthday Honours, in Falkirk Scotland
  • Died: George Formby, 56, British singer, comedian and actor

March 7, 1961 (Tuesday)Edit

March 8, 1961 (Wednesday)Edit

March 9, 1961 (Thursday)Edit

March 10, 1961 (Friday)Edit

March 11, 1961 (Saturday)Edit

  • "Ken", a doll to accompany the popular Barbie that had been brought out by the Mattel toy company introduced on March 9, 1959, was introduced at the annual American International Toy Fair in New York City.[26]
  • Plans for an invasion of Cuba were presented by CIA official Richard M. Bissell, Jr. for the approval of President Kennedy. In a meeting attended by the President, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, CIA Director Allen Dulles, and General Lyman Lemnitzer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staffs, Bissell outlined the proposed "Operation Trinidad", with an invasion force storming the beaches of Trinidad, Cuba by sea and by air. Kennedy rejected the plan as "too spectacular", and directed Bissell to come up with a less obvious placement of troops. Only four days later, Bissell had drawn up a new plan, with the force to strike at the Bay of Pigs within a month. "The Kennedy team was impressed," one historian would say later, "when they should have been incredulous."[27]
  • Died: William A. Morgan, 33, former American soldier who later became an advisor to Fidel Castro, was executed by a firing squad in Havana after being found guilty of conspiring against the government.[28]

March 12, 1961 (Sunday)Edit

  • Miami mobster John Roselli, who was assisting the CIA in its plans to assassinate Fidel Castro, met with a Cuban contact at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. Roselli would testify before the U.S. Senate, 14 years later, about the delivery of money and poisoned pills for the contact to place in Castro's food. Columnist Jack Anderson would break the story in his column of January 18, 1971.[29] The CIA would acknowledge its involvement 46 years after the fact, with the declassification of documents in 2007.[30]
  • The long-running BBC radio music show Your Hundred Best Tunes moved to the 9–10 pm Sunday night timeslot with which it would be associated for the next 45 years.

March 13, 1961 (Monday)Edit

March 14, 1961 (Tuesday)Edit

  • The first phase of the creation of the New English Bible, begun in 1946 by the Joint Committee on the New Translation of the Bible", was completed with the publication of the revised New Testament . Relying on a re-examination of the oldest texts and conveyance of original meanings into modern English, the "new New Testament" was released to coincide with the 350th anniversary of the March 1611 publication of the King James Version of the Bible.[35]
  • Born:

March 15, 1961 (Wednesday)Edit

March 16, 1961 (Thursday)Edit

March 17, 1961 (Friday)Edit

  • Albert DeSalvo was arrested in Cambridge, Massachusetts, while trying to break into a house. Confessing to be a sexual predator who had been nicknamed "the Measuring Man", DeSalvo spent a year in jail. For 18 months following his release, thirteen local women were sexually assaulted and murdered. DeSalvo, arrested later in 1964, confessed to being the "Boston Strangler".[43]
  • Israel staged a dress rehearsal for a military parade in the Israeli-occupied part of Jerusalem, in which heavy military armament took part.
  • Born:
  • Died: Susanna M. Salter, 101, first woman mayor in the United States; in 1887, she was elected to a two-year term as mayor of the small town of Argonia, Kansas, after being placed on the ballot as a prank.

March 18, 1961 (Saturday)Edit

March 19, 1961 (Sunday)Edit

  • Tornadoes swept through four districts of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh, killing more than 250 people. The dead included 32 people who had taken refuge in a Catholic church in Dacca after attending Sunday mass.[44]
  • Portugal defeated Luxembourg 6–0 in a 1962 FIFA World Cup qualifying match.
  • Died: Ada Cornaro, 79, Argentinian tango dancer and actress

Homer's father in the Simpsons reference this date in the burlesque house episode, saying they wouldn't have had any fun without it since March 19 1961.

March 20, 1961 (Monday)Edit

  • Following a complaint by Jordan about the events of March 17, the Mixed Armistice Commission decided that "this act by Israel is a breach of the General Armistice Agreement".
  • Born: John Clark Gable, American film actor, in Los Angeles four months after the death of his father, film star Clark Gable

March 21, 1961 (Tuesday)Edit

March 22, 1961 (Wednesday)Edit

  • Dwight D. Eisenhower was restored to the United States Army and to his rank as a five-star General of the Army, two months after completing his term as the 34th President of the United States.[46] General Eisenhower had resigned his commission on July 18, 1952, after accepting the Republican Party nomination for the Presidency.[47]
  • Died: Gideon Mer, 66, Israeli physician and scientist who guided the eradication of malaria in the Jewish state.

March 23, 1961 (Thursday)Edit

  • The Soviet Union lifted censorship restrictions, for foreign news correspondents, that had been in place since 1917. Except for two occasions in 1939 and 1946, non-Soviet reporters had been required to have their dispatches reviewed before transmission. Foreign office press director Mikhail Kharlamov cautioned that, although pre-approval of reports would no longer be required, foreigners were still required to keep copies of all dispatches for future review, and that persons who "circulated unfounded rumors about the Soviet Union" were still subject to expulsion.[48]
  • An American C-47 transport plane with eight men aboard disappeared over the war-torn nation of Laos after taking off from Vientiane toward Saigon. The U.S. Air Force did not announce the incident until two days later.[49] The sole survivor, Major Lawrence R. Bailey, Jr., was captured and became the first American POW of the Vietnam Era. He would be released on August 15, 1962.[50]
  • Born: George Weber, American radio personality, in Philadelphia (murdered 2009)
  • Died:
    • Valentin Bondarenko, 24, Russian cosmonaut, was burned to death in a training accident. His death would be concealed by the Soviet government for more than 25 years, finally being revealed in 1986 in an article in the daily newspaper Izvestia. [51] [52]
    • Heinrich Rau, 61, East German politician and Minister of Foreign Trade

March 24, 1961 (Friday)Edit

  • A Mercury-Redstone BD rocket was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on one final test flight to certify its safety for human transport. As with earlier Soviet tests, the American space capsule carried a test dummy. The spacecraft reached an altitude of 115 miles and was recovered in the Atlantic 8 minutes after launch.[53] Stopped by Wernher von Braun from going, Alan Shepard had volunteered to take the flight, and would have become the first man to travel into outer space. Less than three weeks later, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin would, on April 12, would reach the milestone. Shepard would reach space, though not orbit, on May 5.[54]

March 25, 1961 (Saturday)Edit

March 26, 1961 (Sunday)Edit

March 27, 1961 (Monday)Edit

  • Nine African-American students from Mississippi's Tougaloo College made the first effort of passive resistance to end segregation in the state capital, Jackson, by walking into the whites-only main branch of the municipal public library. After beginning the "read-in", the students declined to leave and were arrested by police. The next day, black students at Jackson State College marched to the city jail to protest the arrest of the "Tougaloo Nine", and more demonstrations followed.[58]
  • Thunderball, the ninth James Bond novel by Ian Fleming, was first published, in a hardback British edition by Glidrose Productions.[59]
  • Born: Leigh Bowery, Australian performance artist, in Melbourne (died 1994)
  • Died: Paul Landowski, 85, French monumental sculptor

March 28, 1961 (Tuesday)Edit

  • U.S. President John F. Kennedy informed Congress that, as part of the proposed $43.8 billion defense budget, he was cancelling the Pye Wacket project, an experimental lenticular-form air-to-air missile, and the B-70 nuclear-powered airplane.[60] Kennedy declared that "As a power which will never strike first, our hopes for anything close to an absolute deterrent must rest on weapons which come from hidden, moving, or invulnerable bases which will not be wiped out by a surprise attack," and lobbied instead for ten additional Polaris nuclear submarines and an increased Minuteman nuclear arsenal.[61]
  • ČSA Flight 511: a Czechoslovak State Airlines airplane crashed near Russelbach, East Germany after an onboard explosion, killing all 52 persons on board.[62] The turboprop Ilyushin-18 was on its way from Prague to Bamako, the capital of Mali, taking technicians and their families, half of them from the Soviet Union, to jobs in Africa.[63]
  • Air Afrique was founded by agreement of ten West African nations that had gained independence from France.[64] The airline operated until 2001, when its fleet and routes were acquired by Air France.[65]
  • The Factories Act 1961 was introduced into the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
  • Died:

March 29, 1961 (Wednesday)Edit

March 30, 1961 (Thursday)Edit

March 31, 1961 (Friday)Edit


  1. ^ Order 10924: Establishment of the Peace Corps. (1961),
  2. ^ "Democrats Win in Uganda", Glasgow Herald, March 27, 1961, p9
  3. ^ "Algerians Accept Bid to Parley With French", Milwaukee Journal, March 2, 1961, p1
  4. ^ "CONGO TROOPS KILL 44 CIVILIANS IN BITTER TOWN FIGHT", Sydney Morning Herald, March 3, 1961, p1
  5. ^ "Blast Kills 22 Miners In Indiana", Pittsburgh Press, March 3, 1961, p1
  6. ^ Patrick O'Brian, Pablo Ruiz Picasso: a biography (W. W. Norton & Company, 1994) p456
  7. ^ Thomas Kerlin Park and Aomar Boum, Historical Dictionary of Morocco (Scarecrow Press, 2006) p149
  8. ^ "Blue Scout Makes Study of Radiation", Spokane Spokesman-Review, March 4, 1961, p1; "'Poor Man's' Rocket Fired By Air Force", Prescott (Ariz.) Evening Courier, March 3, 1961, p1
  9. ^ "MURDERED IN A CURIOSITY SHOP— Bizarre London stabbing", Sydney Morning Herald, March 5, 1961, p3
  10. ^ "Wanted— faces that fit the bill", New Scientist, 16 May 1985, p26
  11. ^ Thomas C. Reed and Danny B. Stillman, The nuclear express: a political history of the bomb and its proliferation (MBI Publishing Company, 2009 ) p190
  12. ^ "Eisenhower, Dwight David", in Biographical Directory of the United States Executive Branch, 1774–1989, Robert Sobel, ed. (Greenwood Publishing Group, 1990) p116
  13. ^ North Callahan, Carl Sandburg: His Life and Works (Penn State Press, 1987) p221
  14. ^ "Clock Is Perfect", Spokane Spokesman-Review, March 6, 1961, p3
  15. ^ "10 Air Force Men die In KB50 Crash", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 6, 1961, p1
  16. ^ "Affirmative Action", in Encyclopedia of Black Studies (Molefi K. Asante and Ama Mazama, eds.) (SAGE, 2005) p3
  17. ^
  18. ^ David K. Stumpf, Titan II: A History of a Cold War Missile Program (University of Arkansas Press, 2000) p29
  19. ^ "Breaking the Sound Barrier: From Mach 1 to Mach 10"
  20. ^ Conrad, 57, had taken off in his twin-engine Piper from Miami at 8:07 a.m. on February 27, and landed at 2:46 a.m. after a 25,457 mile journey around the world. "Grandfather Holds New Flight Mark", Spokane Spokesman-Review, March 9, 1961, p15
  21. ^ I J. Galantin, Submarine Admiral: From Battlewagons to Ballistic Missiles (University of Illinois Press, 1997) p242
  22. ^ "71 Miners Killed In Japan", Calgary Herald, March 10, 1961, p1
  23. ^ "Russia Lands Third Dog From Orbit", Milwaukee Sentinel, March 9, 1961, p1
  24. ^ "Venus Sends Back Clear Radio Beam", Spokane Spokesman-Review, March 17, 1961, p1
  25. ^ James Glanz and Eric Lipton, City in the Sky: The Rise and Fall of the World Trade Center (Macmillan, 2003) p52
  26. ^ "Barbie's boy toy Ken to celebrate 50th birthday", March 7, 2011,
  27. ^ Michael O'Brien, John F. Kennedy: A Biography (Macmillan, 2006) pp525-526
  28. ^ "An 'Americano' Revolutionary in Castro's Cuba",; "Morgan Is Executed; Former Hero of Cuba", Milwaukee Journal, March 12, 1961, p1
  29. ^ "Jack Anderson" (column), Ocala (FL) Star-Banner, January 18, 1971, p4A
  30. ^ "CIA Plot to Kill Castro Detailed", Washington Post, June 27, 2007
  31. ^ "145 Killed By Landslide In Ukraine-- News Withheld From Soviet Press For Over 2 Weeks", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 1, 1961, p2
  32. ^ Maurice Isserman and Stewart Weaver, Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes (Yale University Press, 2010) p352
  33. ^
  34. ^ McIntyre, W. David (April 2008). "The Expansion of the Commonwealth and the Criteria for Membership". Round Table. 97 (395): 273–85. doi:10.1080/00358530801962089.
  35. ^ S. L. Greenslade, The Cambridge History of the Bible: The West, from the Reformation to the Present Day (Cambridge University Press, 1975) p380; "New Translation Of Bible In Modern Day English To Be Released Tuesday", St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, March 13, 1961, p11-A
  36. ^ "Terrorists Kill 'Dozens' in Angola", Windsor (Ont.) Star, March 18, 1961, p1
  37. ^ "Roberto, Holden", in Historical Dictionary of Angola by W. Martin James (Scarecrow Press, 2004) pp140-141
  38. ^ "IT'S FINAL— SOUTH AFRICA OUT", Windsor (Ont.) Star, March 15, 1961, p1
  39. ^ "1st Game Of World Chess Match Called", St. Petersburg (FL) Times, March 16, 1961, p7-C
  40. ^ "Joint Nuclear Accident Co-ordinating Center: Record of Events" (PDF). United States Department of Defense. 1961-03-14. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-11-17. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
  41. ^
  42. ^ National Aeronautics and Space Administration, The Early Years: Goddard Space Flight Center; Historical Origins and Activities through December 1962 (NASA Publication, 1963) p20
  43. ^ Susan Kelly, The Boston Stranglers (Pinnacle Books, 2002) pp69-70
  44. ^ "Tornado Kills 180 in Pakistan", Milwaukee Journal, March 22, 1961, p1; "Tornado Death Toll Said 266", Lakeland (FL) Ledger, March 23, 1961, p5
  45. ^ June Skinner Sawyers, ed., Read the Beatles: Classic and New Writings on the Beatles, Their Legacy, and Why They Still Matter (Penguin, 2006) pp xxi-xxii
  46. ^ "Kennedy Signs Bill Restoring Eisenhower's Rank", Lewiston (ID) Morning Tribune, March 23, 1961, p2
  47. ^ "Army Accepts Resignation of Eisenhower", Schenectady (NY) Gazette, July 21, 1952, p7
  48. ^ "Soviets Abolish News Censorship", Milwaukee Journal, March 23, 1961, p4
  49. ^ "Eight Yanks Are Missing in US Aircraft Over Laos", Milwaukee Journal, March 25, 1961, p1
  50. ^ Jamie Howren and Taylor Baldwin Kiland, Open Doors: Vietnam POWs Thirty Years Later (Potomac Books, 2005)
  51. ^ "Soviets acknowledge death in '61 of rookie cosmonaut", Philadelphia Inquirer, April 4, 1986, p18
  52. ^ Colin Burgess and Rex Hall, The First Soviet Cosmonaut Team: Their Lives, Legacy, and Historical Impact (Praxis Publishing, 2009) p119
  53. ^ "U.S. Shoots A Dummy Into Space", Miami News, March 24, 1961, p1
  54. ^ Jonathan Allday, Apollo in Perspective: Spaceflight Then and Now (CRC Press, 2000) p89
  55. ^ "Cincinnati Topples Ohio State, 70-65, In Overtime Game", Miami News, March 26, 1961, p2C
  56. ^ Rex Hall and David Shayler, The Rocket Men: Vostok & Voskhod, the First Soviet Manned Spaceflights (Springer, 2001) p132
  57. ^ "Rugby Title Won By French Team", Montreal Gazette, March 27, 1961, p20
  58. ^ Charles E. Cobb, On the Road to Freedom: A Guided Tour of the Civil Rights Trail (Algonquin Books, 2008) p269
  59. ^ "A Licence to Read: Thunderball"
  60. ^ "B70 Cuts To Face Solons' Scrutiny", Deseret News (Salt Lake City), March 29, 1961, p1
  61. ^ "Kennedy Asks $1.9 Billions Defense Hike", Milwaukee Sentinel, March 29, 1961, p1
  62. ^
  63. ^ St. Petersburg (FL) Times, March 30, 1961, p3-A
  64. ^ S. A. Akintan, The law of international economic institutions in Africa (BRILL, 1977) p210
  65. ^ "Air Afrique is Dead, Long Live Air Afrique",, August 15, 2001
  66. ^ "D.C. Gets Its Vote Finally", Daytona Beach Morning Journal, March 30, 1961, p1
  67. ^ John P. Grant and J. Craig Barker, International Criminal Law Deskbook (Psychology Press, 2006) p140
  68. ^ Armand Robin chronology (in French)