May 1946

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The following events occurred in May 1946:

May 1, 1946 (Wednesday)[edit]

May 2, 1946 (Thursday)[edit]

May 3, 1946 (Friday)[edit]

May 3, 1946: Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal opens
  • Willie Francis, 17, was strapped into the electric chair, awaiting execution at St. Martinville, Louisiana, but got only a mild shock when the circuits failed. Francis had been convicted of the murder of a local pharmacist.[3] After the chair was repaired, Francis's execution was rescheduled for May 9, but Lieutenant Governor Emile Verret used his power as Acting Governor to grant a stay of execution. Francis was eventually executed on May 9, 1947.[4]
  • The Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal began the trial of Japanese military and political leaders for war crimes.[5]

May 4, 1946 (Saturday)[edit]

May 5, 1946 (Sunday)[edit]

May 6, 1946 (Monday)[edit]

  • American Zuni and Navajo veterans of World War II were denied in their attempts to register to vote in the 1946 general elections in New Mexico. The county clerk of McKinley County rejected their applications, citing a provision in the state constitution that denied the right of suffrage to "Indians not taxed", referring to Native Americans who lived on federal reservations.[9] The applicants challenged the provision, and on August 3, 1948, a federal court ruled that the New Mexico constitutional provision violated the United States Constitution. The 1948 general election marked the first time that residents of New Mexico's Indian reservations were allowed to vote.[10]
  • LIFE Magazine published "Bedlam 1946: Most U.S. Mental Hospitals are a Shame and a Disgrace" in its May 6, 1946, issue. Albert Q. Maisel's exposé of the atrocities at two mental institutions, in Ohio and Pennsylvania, which he described as "concentration camps masquerading as hospitals",[11] spurred reforms in psychiatric care.[12]
  • Curly Howard suffered a sroke on the final day of filming of Half-Wits Holiday and retired at age 42.

May 7, 1946 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering (Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo or Totsuko) was founded by Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita, who started with only 20 employees and built the company into one of the world's largest electronics manufacturers. In 1955, the company renamed itself Sony.[13]
  • Born: Thelma Houston, American pop singer ("Don't Leave Me This Way"), in Leland, MS

May 8, 1946 (Wednesday)[edit]

May 9, 1946 (Thursday)[edit]

King Victor Emmanuel III
  • Hour Glass, considered the first network television entertainment show, premiered at 8:00 p.m. on WNBT-TV in New York City. The program, described by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh as "one of the most important pioneers in the early history of television",[15] By November, the show was telecast on the NBC television network, which consisted of three stations (New York, Philadelphia and Schenectady).
  • King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy abdicated, and was succeeded by his son Umberto II.[16]
  • Born: Candice Bergen, American actress, in Beverly Hills; and Drafi Deutscher, German Schlager singer, in Berlin (d. 2006)

May 10, 1946 (Friday)[edit]

  • Two naval airplanes collided during a training mission at the Pensacola Naval Air Station, killing 28 U.S. Navy airmen. The two PB-4Y planes were practicing evasive maneuvers with an F6F Hellcat fighter, and crashed into a wooded area eight miles north of the town of Munson in Santa Rosa County, Florida.[17]
  • An American-launched V-2 rocket reached a record high altitude, soaring 75 miles above the White Sands, New Mexico, proving grounds. Prior to the flight, a man from Dorchester, Massachusetts, had volunteered to ride inside the nose cone of the reassembled German missile, and the U.S. Army politely declined his offer to become the first astronaut in history. "Experts said that there was room in a V-2 for a human being and he probably could survive the 3,500 mile an hour top speed," noted a report, "but added there was no known means of escaping alive before the rocket crashed to earth."[18]
  • Born: Donovan Leitch, Scottish rock musician ("Mellow Yellow"), in Maryhill; and Dave Mason, English rock musician (Traffic ("We Just Disagree"), in Worcester

May 11, 1946 (Saturday)[edit]

CARE Package
  • The first 20,000 "CARE Packages", each with almost twenty pounds of food, were delivered to people in need, as a ship unloaded the materials at the French port of Le Havre. Under the charity program, an individual could pay for a CARE Package to be delivered elsewhere in the world. The phrase "care package" would become a generic term for sending necessary items to someone in need. CARE originally stood for "Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe", and later for "Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere".[19]
  • Sixty-one SS members, who had carried out exterminations at the Mauthausen concentration camp at Dachau, were convicted of murdering 70,000 people, mostly Jewish.[20] Forty-nine of them were executed, and the other 12 released from prison by 1951.[21]
  • Born: Robert Jarvik, American physicist and artificial heart inventor, in Midland, Michigan

May 12, 1946 (Sunday)[edit]

May 13, 1946 (Monday)[edit]

  • The Soviet ballistic missile program was formally created by a top secret decree (No. 1017-419ss) signed by Joseph Stalin, and Minister of Armaments Dmitriy Ustinov was made overseer of the project.[23]
  • The Federal Airport Act was signed into law by U.S. President Harry S Truman, providing for 500 million dollars in federal grants for civilian airport projects across the United States over a seven-year period.[24]
  • With U.S. coal supplies dwindling, striking American coal miners returned to work for two weeks on the orders of United Mine Workers President John L. Lewis, who said that the walkout would start anew of negotiations on a new labor contract failed.[25]

May 14, 1946 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • Nueces County, Texas, including Corpus Christi, was quarantined to prevent the spread of a "polio-like disease" that had broken out in Corpus Christi and San Antonio. In addition to the closing of all schools, churches, theaters, and parks, the roads leading into and out of Nueces County were blocked by 300 members of the Texas National Guard, and nobody under 21 was allowed in. Buses and trains were "sprayed with DDT", with the pesticide being used as a disinfectant.[26]

May 15, 1946 (Wednesday)[edit]

  • The USCG Eagle, later known as "America's Tall Ship", was commissioned as a training vessel for the United States Coast Guard. The only active American sail-powered vessel had been built in 1936 for the German Navy as the Horst Wessel, and was captured in World War II.[27]

May 16, 1946 (Thursday)[edit]


May 17, 1946 (Friday)[edit]

May 18, 1946 (Saturday)[edit]

May 19, 1946 (Sunday)[edit]


May 20, 1946 (Monday)[edit]

  • By a vote of 324 to 143, the British House of Commons passed a bill to nationalize the United Kingdom's coal mining industry.[37] The measure was then approved by the House of Lords and received royal assent on July 12.[38]
  • A U.S. Army C-45 transport plane crashed into the 58th floor of the 70-story Bank of Manhattan building on Wall Street, killing all five persons aboard. The accident happened at eight in the evening, and most of the 5,000 persons who normally would have been in the building had left for the day.[39]
  • Born: Cher, American actress and rock singer, as Cherilyn Sarkisian, in El Centro, CA
  • Died: Jacob Ellehammer, 74, Danish inventor

May 21, 1946 (Tuesday)[edit]

Louis Slotin
  • Dr. Louis Slotin, a physicist at the Los Alamos research center, was fatally injured during an experiment with a "subcritical nuclear assembly", a plutonium core and two halves of a beryllium sphere. The purpose was to measure the increase in radiation as the two hemispheres (which deflected neutrons back into the plutonium) were moved closer together. At 3:20 pm, the screwdriver slipped and the two beryllium pieces came together, causing a critical reaction. Slotin knocked the halves apart, saving the other seven men in the room, while absorbing a lethal dose of radiation that a radiologist described as a "3-D sunburn" to all the cells of his body. Slotin died nine days later.[40]

May 22, 1946 (Wednesday)[edit]


May 23, 1946 (Thursday)[edit]

  • At 4:00 p.m., thousands of railroad workers in the Eastern Time Zone of the United States walked off of their jobs. Hour by hour, as 4 o'clock arrived in the rest of the nation, laborers walked off of their jobs. By 7:00 pm EST, the 227,000 miles of American railroads were tied up.[43] In addition to the halt of freight shipments, millions of travelers were stranded in what was described as "the most crippling work stoppage the nation ever suffered",[44]
  • The first issue of the weekly news magazine World Report, created by publisher David Lawrence as a complement to his weekly newspaper United States News, was published. Beginning on January 16, 1948, the two publications would be combined into one weekly magazine, U.S. News & World Report.[45]

May 24, 1946 (Friday)[edit]

  • At 9:00 pm Eastern Time, U.S. President Harry S. Truman made a nationwide radio address regarding the railway strike, and delivered an ultimatum: "If sufficient workers to operate the trains have not returned, by 4 p.m. tomorrow, as head of our government, I have no alternative but to operate the trains by using every means within my power ... I shall ask our armed forces to furnish protection to every man who heeds the call of his country in this hour of need." Having set a deadline of 19 hours for action, Truman closed by saying that he would address a joint session of Congress the next day at 4.[46]
  • Thailand was invaded at dawn by 800 soldiers of the French Army, who crossed the Mekong River from Laos, at that time part of French Indo-China. The troops from France were supported by planes and artillery, and clashed with local forces while pursuing Communist rebels.[47]
  • An unidentified U.S. Congressman on the House Appropriations Committee told a reporter of a biological weapon that "can wipe out all form of life in a large city", describing a "germ proposition" that would be sprayed from airplanes to deliver "quick and certain death".[48]

May 25, 1946 (Saturday)[edit]

  • In a 14-minute ceremony at Amman, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (referred to as the Kingdom of Transjordan until 1949) won its full independence from the United Kingdom. Before a crowd of 300,000 witnesses, emir Abdullah became the nation's King.[49]
May 25, 1946: Truman comes within 3 minutes of ordering U.S. Army to seize America's railroads
  • With only three minutes left before the United States Army would seize control of the nation's railroads, the leaders of both striking railway workers' unions signed a settlement at the White House. With soldiers in place and a deadline of 4:00 pm EST, a verbal agreement was reached at 3:50 and the written pact was signed at 3:57.[50] Earlier in the day, the U.S. House of Representatives had approved President Truman's request for emergency legislation that would have allowed striking workers to be drafted into the U.S. armed forces.[51]
  • "The Gypsy" by The Ink Spots topped the Billboard Honor Roll of Hits.
  • Died: Marcel Petiot, 49, French serial killer (executed by beheading)

May 26, 1946 (Sunday)[edit]

  • Czechoslovak parliamentary election, 1946: In the first democratic elections in Czechoslovakia since World War II, the Communist Party, led by Klement Gottwald captured 114 of the 300 seats in Parliament. Gottwald became Prime Minister of a coalition government. In 1948, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia became the sole legal party.[52]
  • Vincent Pellicio, a 21-year-old prisoner in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, escaped from a road crew. Pellicio would start a new life, becoming an electrician in Newhall, California, and remained free until his August 4, 1987, arrest on a 41-year-old escape warrant. Returned to Virginia, Pellicio would be pardoned later that month by Virginia Governor Gerald Baliles, "in view of his law-abiding behavior and commendable adjustment since his escape".[53]

May 27, 1946 (Monday)[edit]

  • In Vietnam, the French colonial government created an administration for the minority Montagnard population, separate from the Vietnamese people, with the headquarters at Buôn Ma Thuột. A short-lived, autonomous Pays Montagnard du Sud followed in 1950.[54]

May 28, 1946 (Tuesday)[edit]

  • Blum–Byrnes agreement: The United States made a loan package to France for a record 1.37 billion dollars.[55]
  • In the first nighttime baseball game ever played at Yankee Stadium, a crowd of 49,917 watched the New York Yankees lose to the Washington Senators, 2–1.[56]
  • Born: Koyamparambath Satchidanandan, Malayalam language poet, in Kerala, India
  • Died: Carter Glass, 89, United States Senator (D-Virginia) since 1920 and oldest member of the U.S. Senate; Senator Glass had not appeared in Congress since June 1942, but had been re-elected later that year. Even after he became incapacitated, his seat was never declared vacant.

May 29, 1946 (Wednesday)[edit]

John L. Lewis
Eddie Klep

May 30, 1946 (Thursday)[edit]

May 31, 1946 (Friday)[edit]

  • The Japanese submarines I-400 and I-401, described as history's first "underwater aircraft carriers", and the largest non-nuclear subs ever built, were secretly destroyed near Hawaii, sunk by the USS Cabezon. The I-401 was rediscovered on March 17, 2005. At 400 feet long, the "Sensuikan Toku" class of subs were designed to carry three Seiran bombers, each of which could be readied to fly once the sub surfaced.[62]
  • London Heathrow Airport was officially opened for civilian use.[63]
  • The Antonov Design Bureau was established at Novosibirsk to begin production of the Antonov series of Soviet civilian airplanes.[64]
  • An earthquake in the Muş Province of Turkey killed at least 255 people. The quake was centered at the village of Varto.[65]
  • USS George A Johnson decommissioned in Sand Diego.



  1. ^ Pilbara: Australia's longest strike Green Left online, May 3, 2006
  2. ^ "Convict Revolt Grips Alcatraz", Salt Lake Tribune, May 3, 1946, p1; "Alcatraz Officers Regain Control", Salt Lake Tribune, May 5, 1946, p1; "The Battle of Alcatraz",
  3. ^ "Convict Lives On As 'Chair' Fails", Salt Lake Tribune, May 4, 1946, p1
  4. ^ "The Two Executions of Willie Francis", by Gilbert King, Washington Post, July 19, 2006, pA19
  5. ^ "The Tokyo War Crimes Trials (1946–1948)", American Experience
  6. ^ "Occupation Authorities, the Hatoyama Purge and the Making of Japan's Postwar Political Order", by Juha Saunavaara,
  7. ^ Ton van der Eyden, Public Management of Society: Rediscovering French Institutional Engineering in the European Context (IOS Press, 2003) p57
  8. ^ Herbert Braun, The Assassination of Gaitan: Public Life And Urban Violence In Colombia (University of Wisconsin Press, 2003) p226
  9. ^ "Indians Seek Vote Right", Salt Lake Tribune, May 7, 1946, p1
  10. ^ "Suffrage for the Suffering Indians", Milwaukee Journal, October 12, 1948, p20
  11. ^ LIFE Magazine, May 6, 1946 p102
  12. ^ The American Experience,
  13. ^ "Sony Corporate History",
  14. ^ "11 Nations Invited to View Atom Test", Milwaukee Journal, May 8, 1946, p11
  15. ^ Brooks and Marsh, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946–present (8th Ed., Random House, Inc., 2003) pp554–555
  16. ^ "Italian King Abdicates; Umberto Wins Crown", Salt Lake Tribune, May 10, 1946, p1
  17. ^ "28 Navy Airmen Die As Planes Collide", Salt Lake Tribune, May 11, 1946, p1
  18. ^ "Rocket Pierces Skies 75 Miles", The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA), May 11, 1946, p1
  19. ^
  20. ^ "61 SS Killers Convicted", Salt Lake Tribune, May 12, 1946, p1
  21. ^ United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  22. ^ Newfoundland Herald website
  23. ^
  24. ^ "The History of Government Airport Funding"
  25. ^ "Coal Unions Trek Back to Mines", Salt Lake Tribune, May 13, 1946, p1
  26. ^ "Guardsmen Patrol Texas City As Polio-Like Disease Spreads", Miami Daily News, May 14, 1946, p1
  27. ^ "Eagle Captain Spends Last Summer Aboard America's Tall Ship" U.S. Coast Guard Academy
  28. ^ "Annie Oakley on Stage and Screen", The American Experience,
  29. ^ "British Propose India Union; Reject Moslem State Idea", Salt Lake Tribune, May 17, 1946, p1
  30. ^ "27 Die as Airliner Dives Into Virginia Pine Woods", Salt Lake Tribune, May 17, 1946, p1
  31. ^ "The Race to Video", by Stewart Wolpin, Invention & Technology Magazine (Fall 1994),
  32. ^ "A homecoming long overdue", by Meredith Goad, Portland Press-Herald, November 9, 2009
  33. ^ NASA Driyden Flight Research Center
  34. ^ "Unions Delay Rail Tieup 5 Days", Salt Lake Tribune, May 19, 1946, p1
  35. ^
  36. ^ John W. Dower, Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II (W.W. Norton, 2000) p254; "125,000 Japs Ask Food at Palace Gate", Sarasota (FL) Herald-Tribune, May 19, 1946, p1
  37. ^ "British Agree to Coal Control", Milwaukee Journal, May 21, 1946, p10
  38. ^ Office of Public Sector Information, United Kingdom
  39. ^ "C-45 Strikes Skyscraper, Kills 5 in N.Y.", Salt Lake Tribune, May 21, 1946, p1
  40. ^ Jon Hunner, Inventing Los Alamos: The Growth of an Atomic Community (University of Oklahoma Press, 2007) pp118–119; *"A-Bomb Staff Men Exposed to Radiation", El Paso Herald-Post, May 24, 1946, p1
  41. ^ "Truman Seizes Coal Pits; Orders Wage Parley", Salt Lake Tribune, May 22, 1946, p1
  42. ^ Institute history
  43. ^ "Rail Crews Out in East", Milwaukee Journal, May 23, 1946, p1 "Railroad Strike Paralyzes U.S.", Salt Lake Tribune, May 24, 1946, p1
  44. ^ "Rail Strike Outlook Dark", El Paso Herald-Post, May 24, 1946, p1; "The Great Train Strike", LIFE Magazine, June 3, 1946, pp27-33
  45. ^ "History of U.S. News"
  46. ^ "Run Trains or Army Will–Today!–Truman", Milwaukee Sentinel, May 25, 1946, p1; "Complete Text of Truman Talk", Id. at p2
  47. ^ "French Troops Move Into Siam", Salt Lake Tribune, May 27, 1946, p1
  48. ^ "New U.S. Secret Weapon Is Germ Spray That Can Wipe Out Cities" El Paso Herald-Post, May 24, 1946, p1
  49. ^ "Trans-Jordan Gets a King, Bearded Abdullah Hussein", Milwaukee Journal, May 25, 1946, p2; "Jordan celebrates Independence Day", Jordan Times, May 25, 2004
  50. ^ "Rail Unions Yield, End Strike–Beat Ultimatum Dead Line Only 3 Minutes", Salt Lake Tribune, May 25, 1946, p1
  51. ^ "Rail Strike Settled: House Votes 306 to 13 for Industrial Draft In Emergencies, at Truman's Demand; Unions Accept Truman Terms At Zero Hour", Syracuse Herald-American, May 26, 1946, p1
  52. ^ Norman M. Naimark and Leonid Gibianskii, The Establishment of Communist Regimes in Eastern Europe, 1944–1949 (Westview Press, 1997) p250
  53. ^ "Man in 1948 Escape Found", New York Times, August 7, 1987; "Chain gang fugitive 41 years, wins pardon" Mohave Daily Miner (Kingman AZ), August 19, 1987
  54. ^ Sidney Jones, et al., Repression of Montagnards: Conflicts over Land and Religion in Vietnam's Central Highlands (Human Rights Watch, 2002) p18; Unrepresented nations and people's organisation
  55. ^ "France Given U.S. Loan of $1,370 Million", Salt Lake Tribune, May 29, 1946, p1
  56. ^ "Senators Nip Yanks, Threaten For Second", Milwaukee Journal, May 29, 1946, pB-3;
  57. ^ "Baseball's other 'great experiment': Eddie Klep and the integration of the Negro leagues", by Larry R. Gerlach, Journal of Sport History (Fall 1998) p465
  58. ^ "Coal Dispute Ends; Strike Draft Dies – Lewis Orders Men Back, Gains 18.5 c Wage Hike", Salt Lake Tribune, May 30, 1946, p1
  59. ^ Minsk Tourist Bureau
  60. ^ "L.A. Dark Horse Wins Auto Race", Salt Lake Tribune, May 31, 1946, p1
  61. ^ "90 Killed and 60 Injured as Chinese Train Derails", Milwaukee Journal, June 3, 1946, p1
  62. ^ "UH team locates huge Japanese sub", Honolulu Star-Bulletin, March 20, 2005
  63. ^ David St John Thomas, Journey Through Britain: Landscape, People and Books (Frances Lincoln Ltd., 2006) p503
  64. ^ "HIstory of the Antonov ASTC"
  65. ^ "Turkish 'Quake Toll Set at 255", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 3, 1946, p1
  66. ^ "USS George A. Johnson (DE 583) of the US Navy - American Destroyer Escort of the Rudderow class - Allied Warships of WWII -". Retrieved 2016-12-31.