Cardboard rockets and staying up late - what you remember from the 1969 moon landing 50 years on
- Credit: Getty Images
50 years ago this week Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong, lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin and command module pilot Michael Collins made a descent on to the moon's surface on board lunar module Eagle. Watched by millions around the world, Armstrong and Aldrin set foot on the moon and the rest is history. We asked readers what they remember from that momentous mission
In the summer of 1969, as a young transmitter engineer with the BBC, I had been seconded to the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Kingdom of Libya, helping to get their embryonic television service up and running. Like countless other TV services, we relayed the coverage of the landing as it happened so I have particularly vivid memories of the event. Being the sole experienced engineer on duty at the transmitter, which served the capital city of Tripoli (Including the Royal Palace!) there was some degree of responsibility in ensuring these momentous events were transmitted without a hitch. On return from Libya I spent the rest of my BBC career based at the Tacolneston transmitter.
I have a couple of Daily Express supplements about it which my late husband had squirrelled away. A bit yellow with age but looking for them helped me sort out more rubbish! There is also a coloured Life Magazine dated 1969 costing 2/6 ! with various pictures from Apollo 8
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I remember the moon landing and Apollo spacecraft in 1969. I was six and my brother was eight. We lived near Southend at the time. The day the Apollo spacecraft took off we were being babysat by a neighbour's daughter as our parents were out. She let us stay up late to watch what must have been the Nine o'Clock News on BBC 1. At the end of the news the newsreader said that if you go outside and look into the sky then you may see the rocket. We rushed outside in our pyjamas and sure enough there was the flame of the rocket high up in the sky in amongst the stars. We were even lucky enough to see a stage break away from it. I can remember being excited but not really realising the significance of it. In the following days we watched the landing on a black and white TV with very grainy footage and terrible sound. I remember being very frustrated at the quality of the pictures. Looking back now it was an amazing event. Not many people can say that they saw the Apollo spacecraft that was heading to the moon to put the first ever man on the moon. Great times and great achievements for mankind.
I was 18 living in New York with my British parents, dad being a geophysicist who worked for the UN. I stayed up with dad for nearly 48 hours gripped, watching Walter Cronkite telling us what was going on. It was magical and even the grainy images were so exciting to watch. It was one of mans' greatest achievements made possible by incredibly brave men willing to travel to the unknown and brilliant scientists on the ground. I wish more money could be spared for further space travel.
Deirdre (Dee) Brown
How could I forget July 1969 when man first set foot upon the moon with that 'giant leap for mankind' statement, as my son David was born less than 48 hours later!
So he will be 50 on July 22 and I will be in Somerset to help him celebrate, at his party. He's been in the Royal Navy since the age of 18.
I do remember very well July 1969 as I was expecting my third baby and it was a very hot summer. If it was a boy we were calling it Neil. As there were no scans back then we had to wait but in August we had a daughter so called her Hilary. We watched the whole thing on a black and white TV.
I was seven at the time and the astronauts were my childhood heroes. I wrote to NASA and asked for Michael Collins' autograph and was sent it. I still have it in the NASA envelope somewhere in my home, must hunt it out. Cllr Ian Sherwood
Sporle, nr Swaffham
I was 14 years old and was at Downham Market Secondary Modern Boys school. I stayed up all night to watch it on the TV. Space was a really big event then and I was well into it and wrote my GCE project on Apollo 11 which I still have.
We remember the moon landing in 1969. Our son was 10 months old and we sat him on our knees to watch. He was too young to understand but he can still say "I watched the moon landing". Also with us was our neighbour. He had no TV so came to watch with us. He was an aeronautical engineer. He found it interesting as he understood all the technical talk between earth and space and commented how similar it was to being in a plane. He thought it brave of NASA to let the world hear the technical communications as should anything have gone amiss everyone would know. We all held our breath when Eagle landed and again when we were expecting the hatch to open and for Neil Armstrong to emerge.
Something we will never forget.
Peter & Geraldine Smith
I remember exactly where I was when man first set foot on the moon in July 1969. Having bought a beat-up 1953 Morris Minor convertible for £17 I had spent all the previous spring with a couple of mates, fixing it up. Then we three set off to see how far we could go. We had to be pushed up the ramp of the Dover-Calais ferry which wasn't a good omen, but the old girl seemed to bowl along on the flat. We went through France, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary and into Russia. Then down to Romania where, in the border city of Suceava in Moldavia, we met a couple of girls in the local post office. They spoke French and so did we so we ended up staying with them. That's where I saw the moon landings on a 14 inch black and white Russian TV. Unforgettable! Raymond Norman
I remember sitting in my parents' lounge in Gorleston and watching the moon landing as a teenager. It had such an affect on me that I later did a school project for my history CSE at secondary school aged 14 on the moon landing in 1969 which contained the scientific developments that led to it from the first balloon launch onwards. As part of my research I contacted NASA and was amazed to receive information which at the time indicated the Apollo programme was to carry on until Apollo 20! I also have newspaper cuttings taken from different newspapers which record the moon landing still included in my project - which I have kept. In addition later after undertaking a OU degree and a PGCE in 1991/92 at the UEA to become a history and English teacher, I ended up teaching GCSE and A-level history in schools in Lowestoft, Norwich and Beccles and as part of my high school teaching career. I taught the Cold War which included as part of the course the space race. To me the 1969 moon landing was a time of great change, inspiration and turmoil as technology showed what could be achieved, however ironically at the same time I was all too aware of the difficulties on earth that people were facing on the streets of both the USA (civil rights strife) and in Vietnam where people were being bombed and napalmed - so a time of great contrast of great progress but also great suffering.
My memories begin with Apollo 8's mission the previous Christmas when it became the first manned craft to orbit the moon. My brothers and myself, being impatient to leave the Christmas Day dinner table, were rebuked by ouruncle Bob who said, 'There are three men up there who can't get down'.
On television and at school I followed the next two test missions in the first half of 1969 - becoming nine years old in March and then the gripping moments of the landing in front of the TV.
We stayed up with Dad all night for the moonwalk. I seem to remember the television coverage was replaced for a few hours by a static illustration with a caption until THE moment. Unfortunately we all fell asleep and missed it.
However, Dad went out in the morning and bought a newspaper with a huge blurry black and white picture on the front page which sufficed until the TV recaps.
I recall vividly looking up at the moon for the first time afterwards and feeling quite 'different' about it and trying to picture the astronauts on it as the TV had shown us.
It definitely felt that something the like of which had not been experienced before had taken place.
To celebrate the July 1969 moon landing, myself and friends, celebrated with a few pints at the Man in, or on, the Moon pub in Hellesdon, Norwich (which I believe is now a surgery). As a souvenir, I took home a nice fluted glass pint mug with a handle embossed with a small Watneys red barrel label. Still have it after 50 years. Didn't get the landlord/lady to sign it for me as I was borrowing it. Forgot to send it back!
1969 was the year of excitement and possibilities. I'd just passed my 11+ and then men landed on the moon. I found my moon landing pack and press cuttings. Lots of us from school had managed to buy the pack for the grand sum of 12/6, (several weeks pocket money). It contained all we needed to know about the expedition, including a flight plan, so that each night we could watch the TV and hear where the spaceship was and place a cardboard representation of the vessel on our maps. It all sounds very pedestrian, but it was very exciting. When they landed, I would look out of the window and stare at the moon and think, 'Wow, there really are people up there'. For me, someone who even then was more interested in history than science I knew it was a momentous event.
Charsfield, near Woodbridge