Cuban Missile Crisis Timeline

Cuban Missile Crisis 1962

 This timeline details the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis 1962


1956 (25th November)
Cuban exiles in Mexico, led by Fidel Castro, had made a plan to invade Cuba and overthrow the leader, Batista. Che Guevara had joined the group and was one of eighty-two men who left Mexico in the yacht Granma bound for Cuba.
1956 (2nd December)
The group were attacked by Batista and fled to the Cuban hills where they formed a rebel opposition movement.
1958 (29th July)
Battle of Las Mercedes
This was a ten-day battle planned by Batista to wipe out the rebels. He sent his Cuban army into the hills with orders to encircle the rebels. However, the Cuban army found fighting the rebels difficult since they knew the layout of the hills and used guerrilla tactics. The Cuban army accepted a cease fire and sent negotiators to Castro. While negotiations continued the rebel army retreated back into the hills.
1958 (late December)
The rebels had successfully taken much of Las Villas province. Guevara then led a sortie into the capital of the province, Santa Clara. Despite being outnumbered, he successfully overthrew and occupied the city. On hearing the news Batista fled to the Dominican Republic.
1959 (8th January)
Rebel opponents of the Cuban Batista government, led by Fidel Castro, his brother Raul and Che Guevara had landed in Cuba and successfully overthrown the government. Batista had fled to the Dominican Republic.
1959 (4th February)
Castro’s government announced a land reform initiative which involved nationalisation of industry and redistribution of land. This move had serious consequences for the United States since the majority of industries scheduled for nationalisation were owned by Americans.
1959 (Summer)
Counter-revolutionary groups, backed by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) sought to remove Castro and restore a US backed government.
1960 (17th March)
President Eisenhower approved a plan to train Cuban exiles prior to their invading Cuba. It was believed that the Cuban people and military would rise up against Castro and he would be overthrown. A new government, friendly to the United States would then be established.
1960 (May)
The continued hostility of the United States, including the American refusal to buy Cuban sugar, led Castro to establish diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union.
1961 (February)
New President J F Kennedy authorised the invasion of Cuba but wanted all US involvement to be hidden. He ordered the landing be moved to the Bay of Pigs, which was further away from populated areas and would make it easier for the US to deny involvement.
1961 (17th April)
Bay of Pigs
An American backed invasion of Cuba to overthrow Communist Fidel Castro via the Bay of Pigs failed and many troops lost their lives.
1961 (November)
Operation Mongoose
Following the failure of the Bay of Pigs Invasion, John F Kennedy approved this campaign of spying on Cuba with a view to finding ways to support Cuba in the overthrow of Communism. However, US mistrust of Cuba pushed Castro closer to the Soviet Union.
1962 (14th October)
An American U-2 spy plane flown by Richard Heyser, took a series of aerial photographs over Cuba. The photographs showed newly built installations.
1962 (15th October)
Analysis of the photographs revealed transport trucks, launchers and missiles and it became clear that the Soviet Union were stationing missiles capable of reaching the United States on Cuba. During the Cold War period tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union were high and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was concerned about the number of US missiles in Europe and wanted a similar advantage on the United States.
1962 (16th October)
President John F Kennedy was briefed on the discovery of missiles. A meeting of the Executive Committee was immediately called to discuss the United States response. Over the next few days a range of strategies was discussed including doing nothing, persuading the Soviets to remove the missiles, mounting an air strike on the missile bases, invading Cuba or placing a naval blockade around Cuba to prevent the delivery of missiles.
1962 (18th October)
Kennedy held a meeting with Andrei Gromyko, Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs. Gromyko explained that the missiles were a defence strategy.
1962 (19th October)
The latest U-2 aerial photographs showed a total of four sites on Cuba being readied for missiles.
1962 (21st October)
Members of the Executive Committee had narrowed potential action to two choices: destroying the bases by air strikes or setting up a naval blockade of Cuba.
1962 (22nd October)
President Kennedy formally ordered that a naval blockade be placed around Cuba. He then made a TV broadcast notifying the American people of the discovery of missiles and the US strategy to deal with them, including military action if necessary. US forces were placed on a state of high alert.
1962 (22nd October)
President Kennedy wrote to Nikita Khrushchev demanding that the Soviets remove the missile bases and return all offensive weapons to the Soviet Union.
1962 (24th October)
Khruschev replied to Kennedy stating that the US blockade of Cuba was an act of aggression and that Soviet ships bound for Cuba would ignore the blockade.
1962 (24th October)
Soviet ships bound for Cuba approached the blockade and stopped.
1962 (25th October 7 am)
Soviet tanker, Bucharest, attempted to cross the blockade. The tanker was not believed to be carrying military supplies and so was let through the blockade.
1962 (25th October)
An emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council was held and photos showing the missile sites were shown to members.
1962 (25th October 5 pm)
A new report showed that the missile sites in Cuba were still operational.
1962 (25th October 5.30 pm)
Kennedy ordered military planes to be loaded with nuclear weapons and be readied for a potential attack on the Soviet Union.
1962 (25th October evening)
Reports arrived stating that a number of Soviet ships had changed course and were returning home.
1962 (26th October)
By this point Kennedy believed that the United States would have to invade Cuba in order to get the missiles removed.
1962 (26th October)
John Kennedy received a long message from Khrushchev stating that he would remove the missiles from Cuba if the United States would promise not to invade Cuba.
1962 (27th October)
The United States received a second message from Khrushchev stating that he would remove the missiles from Cuba if the United States removed their Jupiter missiles from Turkey. Kennedy was not prepared to agree to these terms since it laid blame for the situation equally on both parties. Kennedy argued that the Soviets were the aggressors and that their presence in Cuba had caused the situation not the American missiles in Turkey.
1962 (27th October)
After much thought, the Kennedy government decided to ignore the second message and agree to the terms of the first message. Robert Kennedy personally delivered the US response to the Soviet ambassador in Washington with an off-the-record promise to withdraw US missiles from Turkey.
1962 (27th October)
An American reconnaissance plane piloted by Rudolf Anderson was shot down over Cuba. Khrushchev categorically denied Soviet involvement stating that the plane had been shot down by the Cuban military.
1962 (28th October)
The Soviet Union issued a statement that the Soviet missiles would be removed from Cuba. In response the United States promised not to invade Cuba.
1962 (20th November)
The naval blockade of Cuba was ended.
1963 (April)
The United States removed its Jupiter missiles from Turkey.


Published Mar 18, 2020 @ 9:22 pm – Updated -[last-modified]

Harvard Reference for this page:

Heather Y Wheeler. (2020). Cuban Missile Crisis 1962 Last accessed [date]

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