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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

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  2. What was the worst mistake made by Germany in WWII?

    Dave, I think you have summed it up well. Hitler seemed to get carried away with himself and as in the early stages of the war, he seemed unstoppable. He had an innate fear of tackling England and put off and put off operation Sealion. We have to remember of course Dr. Goebbel's part in pushing for total war and while Hitler did not take kindly to being told what to do it must have had an effect on his decisions - wrong decisions.
  3. What was the worst mistake made by Germany in WWII?

    Invading Poland is seen as the actual beginning of WW2 so it is a big mistake for the world. Invading Poland (by it's self) had very little adverse effect on Germany or it's plans to occupy Europe. Without a doubt Hitler's biggest mistake was invading Russia before he had totally dominated Western Europe especially England.
  4. A very brave act of courage and humanity.
  5. Would Operation Sealion have succeeded?

    In my opinion the Germans were able to land on the English coast , and that will be all !! With the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow and Force G ( Adm. Somervell ) out of Gibraltar unbeaten , the Germans had no chance to supplied and re-enforce the landed troops with the necessary goods for an further invasion . Only my opinion !
  6. *******Extremely intense " Battle of Iwo jima(硫黃島)".--- Japanese fighter interception site, airfields of the Japanese bombing B-29 Superfortress,WWII.***** <Edited by Moon Young- Ki> USN Admiral Gen.Nimitz continued his "Leapfrogging"Strategy Jaoanese Island occupation--similar with "Frog Jumping" through Iwo Jima--> Okinawa--> final Japanese mainland Landing Operation. Expected heavy casualities of USMC, Invasion of Iwo Jima especially Airfiled carried out.and USMC absolutely need occupation Iwo Jima Airfield for keeping safe en route of B-29 bombing Japanese main land ! Battle of Iwo Jima was extremely intense fighting between USMC and Japanese garrisons-- resuted in Japanese 1,9000deaths compared with USMC 6,821deaths( total casualities 26,000 !)
  7. Today
  8. What was the best Axis tank of WWII?

    I voted Panther, Stug and the P38t The Panther was an outstanding tank, the best of the war. The STUG was such a simple and versatile SPG / TD that was easy to make and available in large numbers. The P38t I chose because I had to pick one and I think this was better than the others. But I'm not an expert on German light tanks of WWII...
  9. crosbygirl

    Hello, I wonder if there is any veteran from the Italy Campaign or their family's who may have any old Italy War Maps that I could borrow or pay for photocopies to done on my behalf. Credit, in my book, for any maps would be given to whomever helps me with this question. Neither the British Museum of the Imperial War Maps can offer assistance as these maps are all in storage and not currently available for the public to view. Very frustrating! Many thanks Ann
  10. One of the most prominent sports figures of the pre-WWII period and the man who elevated cycling into becoming a national sport in Italy was most certainly and unanimously Gino Bartali. Having won the Giro d’Italia twice (1936, 1937) and the Tour de France in 1938, Bartali was adored by the Italian public and celebrated by its statesmen. In the years before the Second World War, Bartoli’s triumphs were exploited by the fascist government of Benito Mussolini regarding national pride, even though the cyclist never cared much for politics. In 1943, Italy almost fell prey to the Allied invasion, but total defeat was postponed with the help of German intervention and the proclamation of the Italian Social Republic. As Italian internal politics became dependant on the German presence, the Jews who were left in the country were faced with a wave of deportations. Although anti-semitism was not so explicit in Italy, as it was in Germany, racial laws introduced in the period between 1938 and 1943 did comply with the Final Solution. Bartali held a celebrity status during the war but was secretly opposed to the regime. The Italian resistance movement was gaining strength after the Allied invasion and Bartali decided to help by hiding and smuggling Jews. This segment of Bartali’s life was largely unknown until it was uncovered in 2010, ten years after the cyclist passed away. According to one of the Jewish survivors, Bartoli hid him and his family in his cellar, and by doing so undoubtedly saved their lives. Using training as an excuse, Bartoli carried messages for the resistance. Due to his popularity, he was safe from police abuse which was a constant threat during the fascists’ rule. Bartoli roamed on his bike all over northern Italy and delivered crucial information, orders or warnings to members of the resistance, contributing to the defeat of Mussolini’s regime. Gino Bartali in training Dressed in a recognizable jersey with his name on it, he cycled tirelessly from Florence through Tuscany, Umbria, and Marche, sometimes reaching as far as Rome. He was never stopped by the police or the Germans, who did not want to provoke discontent by potentially harassing the sports legend. It gave him the opportunity to exercise his freedom to undermine the anti-Semitic regime. During those dire times, the Jewish minority relied on the help of a network called Delegation for the Assistance of Jewish Emigrants, DELASEM for short. The man behind the organization was Giorgio Nissim, an accountant from Pisa, who dedicated his life to helping Jews escape persecution and deportation to concentration camps. The fascists discovered the organization’s activities in Tuscany in 1943. Most of their escape channels were shut down, while almost everyone involved in the operation was arrested and deported. Nissim managed to avoid capture, but he was unable to re-establish the organization in the same capacity. After the war, it was revealed that Bartali had played a significant role in DELASEM. Nissim was producing a large number of fake documents to assist the persecuted Jews to get out of the country. He needed photographs of the people whose papers he was forging, but most of them were hidden in various convents around Florence. Someone had to serve as a link between the convents and Nissim. More than half a century later it was discovered the photos had been collected and distributed by no other than the champion cyclist of both Italy and France – Gino Bartali. The DELASEM organization was responsible for saving the lives of more than 800 people, and Bartali’s role was crucial, given the circumstances. The 4-speed bicycle Bartali rode to victory in the general classification of the 1938 Tour de France. Nicola – CC-BY SA 3.0 However, he did not stop at using his position only for courier assignments. Bartali smuggled some of the unfortunate Jews himself. He pulled a wagon attached to his bike, in which was a man-sized secret compartment and pedaled his way to the Swiss border. When questioned, Bartoli answered that the wagon was part of his training, to improve his cycling skills by making it harder for him to ride. The patrols miraculously believed him and let him pass on several different occasions. Although he was continually risking his life and the life of his family, Bartali never doubted his duties. Once he was asked by his son to explain his determination to help people he barely knew, despite all the danger. He simply replied: “One does these things, and then that’s that.” Bartali never bragged about his role in saving the lives of innocents, nor did he ever mention it in public. That is why his bravery and compassion was unrecognized throughout his life. Even though he always looked back on his actions with a great deal of modesty, the state of Israel recognized his efforts and in 2013, Gino Bartali was awarded the honor Righteous Among the Nations. View the full article
  11. When Drew Dix deployed to Vietnam in 1968 as a military “advisor” to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), it became abundantly clear that Dix was not the “advising” type. Up against two battalions of Viet Cong, the defense of the provincial capital city of Chau Phu melted away. The result was pockets of civilians, advisors, and soldiers trapped by the fighting throughout the city. Rather than advise the ARVN troops on what to do, Staff Sergeant Dix decided to show them instead. On his own volition, he personally led three expeditions into the fire swept city resulting in the rescue of nearly a dozen civilian military employees. Still not done, the next day on his own accord he took a 20 man contingent to clear additional buildings. This time assaulting buildings by himself, his actions resulted in the capture of 20 enemy soldiers and personally saved the Deputy Province Chief’s wife and children. For his actions at Chau Phu, Drew Dix would be awarded the Medal of Honor and the eternal gratitude of the civilians he rescued. Born to Fight Drew Dennis Dix was born on December 14, 1944, in West Point, New York and grew up in Colorado. From an early age, he knew he wanted to serve his nation and hoped to make his way into the special forces. He enlisted in the US Army at age 18, spending three years with the 82nd Airborne Division. At the age of 21, he was accepted into the 5th Special Forces Group. In 1965, Dix had his first taste of action during Operation Power Pack – the US military intervention in the Dominican Republic Civil War. His experience there was limited but prepared him for what awaited him in Vietnam. By 1968 Dix was a Staff Sergeant, assigned as a special military advisor to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. He was based in Chau Phu near the Cambodian Border just as the Viet Cong were getting ready to launch their famed Tet Offensive. Drew Dennis Dix From Advising to Fighting On January 31, 1968, Chau Phu City was the target for over two battalions of experienced and well-armed Viet Cong soldiers. The speed and violence of the attack broke the defenses of the city resulting in some sectors being controlled entirely by the Viet Cong. Unfortunately, various groups of civilians working with the US military were trapped and cut off from the American forces. Dix, despite the risk to his own life, went into action. When he learned a nurse was trapped in a building near the city center, he organized and led a force to rescue her successfully. He was then informed of another group of 8 civilian employees isolated in the city. They were being subjected to heavy small arms and mortar fire making a rescue perilous. Dix assaulted the building killing six Viet Cong and rescuing 2 Filipinos inspiring the ARVN soldiers to attack the Viet Cong. American soldiers during urban combat in Vietnam. manhhai – CC-BY 2.0 The next day he continued to lead from the front. Putting together a 20 man unit, he guided them through the fire-swept city avoiding intense enemy fire. He successfully led them in clearing multiple buildings in Chau Phu resulting in the capture of over 20 prisoners including a high ranking official. A Rightful Honor He then attacked the Deputy Province Chief’s residence which had been overrun by enemy soldiers rescuing the Chief’s wife and children. Dix’s gallantry and heroic actions resulted in 14 confirmed Viet Cong killed and possibly more, the capture of 20 prisoners and 15 weapons, and the rescue of 14 civilian employees. Staff Sergeant Drew Dix was awarded the nation’s highest military honor when he received the Medal of Honor in 1969 from President Johnson. His Medal of Honor citation reads: “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. SSG. Dix distinguished himself by exceptional heroism while serving as a unit adviser. Two heavily armed Viet Cong battalions attacked the Province capital city of Chau Phu resulting in the complete breakdown and fragmentation of the defenses of the city. SSG. Dix, with a patrol of Vietnamese soldiers, was recalled to assist in the defense of Chau Phu. Learning that a nurse was trapped in a house near the center of the city, SSG. Dix organized a relief force, successfully rescued the nurse, and returned her to the safety of the Tactical Operations Center. Being informed of other trapped civilians within the city, SSG. Dix voluntarily led another force to rescue eight civilian employees located in a building which was under heavy mortar and small-arms fire. SSG. Dix then returned to the center of the city. Upon approaching a building, he was subjected to intense automatic rifle and machinegun fire from an unknown number of Viet Cong. He personally assaulted the building, killing six Viet Cong, and rescuing two Filipinos. The following day SSG. Dix, still on his own volition, assembled a 20-man force and though under intense enemy fire cleared the Viet Cong out of the hotel, theater, and other adjacent buildings within the city. During this portion of the attack, Army Republic of Vietnam soldiers inspired by the heroism and success of SSG. Dix, rallied and commenced firing upon the Viet Cong. SSG. Dix captured 20 prisoners, including a high ranking Viet Cong official. He then attacked enemy troops who had entered the residence of the Deputy Province Chief and was successful in rescuing the official’s wife and children. SSG. Dix’s personal heroic actions resulted in 14 confirmed Viet Cong killed in action and possibly 25 more, the capture of 20 prisoners, 15 weapons, and the rescue of the 14 United States and free world civilians. The heroism of SSG. Dix was in the highest tradition and reflects great credit upon the U.S. Army.” He later received a commission as a First Lieutenant and retired as a Major after 20 years of service. He currently lives in Alaska. View the full article
  12. Former US President Barack Obama spoke on the battleground of Normandy to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion that led to the Allied victory in World War II. President George W. Bush spoke there on the 60th anniversary. President Bill Clinton spoke at the 50th. It has become a tradition for US presidents to make the pilgrimage to the site of that climactic battle. President Ronald Reagan was there for the 40th when he gave his famous speech at Pointe du Hoc. On top of the 100-foot cliff that had been scaled by Army Rangers 40 years before, he gave a stirring speech that commemorated the Allied soldiers who fought on that day. The speech was so moving and inspiring he used it in his re-election campaign commercials. One reason it was so effective is that there had been no national moment recognizing the accomplishments and sacrifices of the WWII veterans. It’s hard to imagine now that no US president visited this site until President Jimmy Carter in 1978. President Richard Nixon was preparing to fly to the Middle East and dealing with the growing scandal of Watergate on the 30th anniversary. President Lyndon Johnson did not attend the 20th anniversary as he had sworn he would not leave the US during his first year in office following the assassination of President John Kennedy. Dwight D. Eisenhower was the president on the 10th anniversary in 1954. Eisenhower, of course, was the commander of the D-Day invasion. It had been his decision to send 160,000 Allied soldiers onto the beaches in France to secure a foothold in Europe against the Axis powers. Nowadays, it isn’t difficult to imagine the political PR machine working overtime to position Eisenhower at the scene of his greatest military victory to remind voters back home of his leadership ability in the toughest of times. But Eisenhower refused to focus on self-congratulation. He avoided visiting Normandy. He did not hold a White House event to extol the virtues of his leadership. This is something people of that generation did not seek out and Eisenhower was no exception. There was at least one time that Eisenhower lost control of his emotions when publicly remembering the sacrifices made that day by some of America’s finest young men. During his 1952 campaign for the presidency, Eisenhower spoke to a group of WWII veterans. As he talked about the men who lost their lives storming the beaches of Normandy, he had to cover his face with his handkerchief while he gathered his emotions. So, rather than basking in the spotlight at the scene that reminded him of so much pain and loss, Eisenhower spent June 6, 1954, at Camp David – out of the public eye. Rather than speaking eloquently to a crowd of supporters, he wrote a simple, 308-word statement which exalted “the courage, devotion, and faith which brought us through the perils of war will inevitably bring us success in our unremitting search for peace, security and freedom.” Even with that, he put the focus on the soldiers and not on his own leadership. The D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, was the largest amphibious military invasion in history. 160,000 Allied troops attacked the shores of the beaches in Normandy, France, to remove German defenses and establish a beachhead in the region which would allow them to march toward Berlin. Over 5,000 ships and 11,000 aircraft were utilized in the mission. Over 4,000 Allied troops were killed, injured or missing by the end of that day. But, 156,000 other soldiers secured the beaches and began the work necessary to prepare for moving inland to the heart of the Nazi empire. View the full article
  13. Everyone knows what happened to the Jews in Europe in WWII. They are also aware of the fact some people risked life and limb to save them – Oskar Schindler, being one. There were others. For example, Giorgio Perlasca saved more Jews than Schindler did and he was both a Fascist and a liar. In 1920, Italy was being torn apart by strikes as workers and peasants demanded better wages and treatment. New ideas became popular – Marxism, Fascism, Anarchism, etc. Of them, Fascism offered a middle ground providing a minimum wage, equality for women, an end to Roman Catholic hegemony, and so much more. Giorgio Perlasca was born on January 31, 1910, in Como to a working-class family. Perlasca fell in love with Fascism’s promise of an egalitarian society that took care of all. The Prime Minister Benito Mussolini vowed to rebuild the ancient Roman Empire for the benefit of all Italians. The 24-year-old Perlasca took part in the invasion of Ethiopia in 1934. Two years later, Italy sided with Spain’s Nationalist government during the Spanish Civil War, so Perlasca saw combat there, as well. When the Nationalists won, they gave the idealistic, young Italian guaranteed safe conduct status at all Spanish embassies worldwide. However, the Italy Perlasca returned to was not the country he had been fighting so hard for. There was no equality of the sexes nor egalitarianism for all as Mussolini needed support from the aristocracy and business barons. In 1938, Mussolini adopted Nazi racial policies as he began relying more and more on Germany for support. Perlasca was appointed to the Italian government and given diplomatic status. He was sent to East Europe, to procure meat for the Italian Army which was fighting the Russians. Everything changed on September 8, 1943, when the Italian government in Rome surrendered to the Allies. In so doing, however, they split the country in half. Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini in 1925. Mussolini did not surrender. He declared the northern half of Italy to be the Italian Social Republic in a reformed Republican Fascist Party allied with Nazi Germany. The Italians had a choice – King Victor Emmanuel III and his pro-Allied government in the south, or Mussolini and his new republic in the north? Perlasca sided with the King. As he was in Hungary – a client state of Nazi Germany – he was arrested and sent to a special prison reserved for diplomats. After a few months, he was given a medical pass. Instead of going to a hospital, Perlasca went to the nearest Spanish Embassy which honored his guarantee of safe conduct and granted him Spanish status. He adopted the name “Jorge,” and as Spain was a neutral country, was allowed to stay in Hungary unmolested. Italian artillery force in Tembien, Ethiopia in 1936. He could have left for Spain or any other safe country, but he did not. Perlasca worked with the Spanish and other embassies doing what they could for the Jews. It was due to Ángel Sanz-Briz – the Spanish ambassador in Budapest. Briz was part of a network of diplomats who issued visas to Jews so they could leave Hungary. It was part of a plan masterminded by Raoul Gustaf Wallenberg – Sweden’s special envoy to Budapest. Wallenberg knew that not all Hungarian Jews could afford to leave, so he bought and rented buildings throughout the city. He then stuck Swedish flags on them – turning them into official Swedish territory and beyond Hungarian law. Jews who could not leave were housed there, rendering them safe from deportation to concentration camps. Wallenberg could not do it alone, so many other diplomats and wealthy businessmen helped. Ángel Sanz-Briz in 1969. Rob Mieremet – CC-BY SA 3.0 Sephardic Jews (those from Spain, Italy, France, and Portugal) had a right to Spanish citizenship so giving them passports was easy. Ashkenazi Jews (those from northern Europe) were another matter entirely. Along with handling paperwork, Perlasca conducted Jews to safe houses throughout the city. It worked; for a while. In November 1944 the Soviet Army marched toward Hungary. Briz and the other diplomats were ordered out of Budapest for their own safety. He went to neutral Switzerland. Perlasca refused to leave, however. He had work to do. Raoul Gustaf Wallenberg in 1944. Eager to get rid of as many Jews as they could before they were overrun by the Soviets, Hungarian officials ordered Perlasca to empty his safe houses of Jews. To buy himself time, he claimed Briz was only away on a short leave. Perlasca claimed he was in charge while Briz was away making him the new Spanish Chargé d’Affaires. He was not, and Spain knew nothing about it. Perlasca then went into overdrive. He used his business contacts to keep thousands of Jews fed, moving them to safe locations, and smuggling those he could, out of Hungary. In December, he grabbed two boys from a freight train, earning the wrath of Otto Adolf Eichmann – the German officer tasked with transporting Jews to the death camps. Hungarian soldiers manning an anti-tank gun in a Budapest suburb. Bundesarchiv – CC-BY-SA 3.0 In retaliation, Eichmann ordered the Jewish ghetto blown up – while it still housed some 60,000 people. Perlasca, therefore, demanded an audience with the Hungarian interior minister and threatened legal and economic punishments against the 3,000 Hungarian citizens in Spain. There were not that many Hungarians in Spain. It is believed there may have been no more than a few hundred, at the time. However, the minister did not know that so he overturned Eichmann’s orders. Perlasca’s memorial in Budapest, Hungary. Gyurika – CC-BY SA 3.0 When the war ended in 1945, Perlasca returned to Italy. He did not speak about his actions, even with his wife. However, those he saved never forgot. About 5,200 of them (or almost 4,000 more than Schindler). They finally found him in 1987 – living a quiet life in Italy. Israel made him a Righteous Among the Nations, while Italy, Hungary, and Spain heaped him with honors. Perlasca claimed he was no hero, however, saying that all he did “was tell a lot of lies.” He certainly did – but they were lies that saved lives. View the full article
  14. Many famous actors and entertainers achieved their fame on stage or in Hollywood, but some had eventful and remarkable lives before they entered the public spotlight. Various artists and musicians had already spent years in the military before they began the careers that made them famous. From Allied troops on the D-Day beaches to Resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied Europe, here are four celebrities who risked their lives in war. Mel Brooks Before he became known as the comedic genius of The Producers and Young Frankenstein, Mel Brooks worked on the front lines of WWII. He served in the 1104 Engineer Combat Battalion, 78th Infantry Division, as a combat engineer. He defused land mines in active war zones, risking death on a daily basis. Brooks also faced active combat, fighting at the famous Battle of the Bulge. In later years he credited much of his dry wit to his time in the war, and while in military service his sense of humor was evident. When German soldiers began playing propaganda recordings through loudspeakers, the young Brooks set up his own speakers and blasted the music of Al Jolson, a Jewish singer, right back at them. Mel Brooks. By Towpilot – CC BY-SA 3.0 Audrey Hepburn Before Breakfast At Tiffany’s cemented her place as an iconic Hollywood figure, Audrey Hepburn worked as a courier for the Dutch resistance against the Nazis. It was not uncommon for children in the Netherlands to act in that role; they smuggled money, papers, and information with less likelihood of being noticed by the authorities. Hepburn’s parents were staunch supporters of the Nazi party, making her willingness at a young age to support the resistance all the more impressive. When she was not running messages and carrying packages, she was donating what little money she had earned to the cause. In later years, her remarkable story was promoted and her courage acclaimed, but her parents’ support for the Nazis was usually written out of the narrative. When it is remembered, however, it makes Hepburn’s bravery all the more striking. Jimmy Stewart Jimmy Stewart The star of It’s A Wonderful Life was first drafted in 1940, only to be rejected for being underweight. While others might have been relieved not to be sent into danger, Stewart actively set out to gain the required weight. As soon as he had, he headed back to be re-evaluated by the military and was accepted. At first, due to his already established celebrity status, his commanding officers kept him away from the conflict. They used him for promotional videos or in training pilots, as Stewart already had extensive experience in that field. Eventually, he managed to convince his superiors to move him overseas, to face real action in Europe. There he rose quickly through the ranks, often flying at the head of his unit to inspire the soldiers under his command. Four years after he joined the Army as a Private, Stewart was promoted to the rank of Colonel. James Doohan James Doohan. James Doohan is widely remembered for his role as Scotty in the Star Trek series. The Canadian partook in active conflict long before he took to the screen. When WWII broke out, Doohan joined the Canadian military and went to England for training. His first taste of combat came on D-Day, on June 6, 1944, when Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy. Taking part in the largest amphibious landing in history, Doohan led his troops up the beach, shooting two snipers and finding defensive positions beyond a field of mines. Later that night, he was shot six times by a Bren Gun. Four of the rounds struck him in the leg, and one tore through his finger. The sixth would have penetrated his chest, had it not been blocked by a silver cigarette case his brother had given him some time before. Doohan survived, although he lost the finger. He went on to become a beloved figure in television history. View the full article
  15. During WWII, scientists and inventors on both sides of the conflict raced to develop new and terrifying weapons that might tilt the balance in their favor. Many new war machines were created and put into practice on battlefields across the world. However, the Nazi regime had a particular talent for thinking outside the box; so far outside of it that many of their ideas were utterly impractical. From death-rays in space to whirlwind guns, here are five far-fetched weapons the Germans tried to implement. Schwerer Gustav The largest cannon ever created and deployed in the history of human warfare, this behemoth of a weapon could fire projectiles at a range of 29 miles. Each shell was nearly as large as a regular tank. It ran on railway tracks and weighed roughly 1350 tons. Its name translates as the Great Gustav. In theory, the cannon was a terrifying prospect. In production, it must have seemed like the ultimate game-changer against the Allied forces. In practice, however, the Great Gustav proved to be almost entirely useless. Its size and weight were impractical. A small army of workers was required to assemble the weapon and lay out the necessary railway tracks. A model of the largest cannon ever built This terrifying war machine was more of a hindrance to the Nazis than a threat to their enemies. It saw minimal action and was subsequently relegated to the history books as a waste of time and effort. It was so huge that is needed a special contraption to move it – the Landkreuzer P. 1500 Monster Landkreuzer P. 1500 Monster The Great Gustav gun, captured by the Allies. Adolf Hitler was a believer in what has been described as “war-winning weapons” – new and innovative weapons that turn the tide of the war. In this spirit, he commissioned the development and construction of a truly massive war machine, known as the Great Gustav. This massive gun was originally designed to move on a train line, but as that required an enormous amount of manpower, the Landkreuzer P. 1500 Monster was proposed as a solution. A self-propelled contraption, it was intended to make the Great Gustav more mobile. A machine of that size was inevitably set to hit some practical and functional snags. For one thing, its size made it something of a strategic liability. Its sheer heaviness would destroy roads and bridges, and it could not be transported by rail for the same reason. In the end, the production of this monster was put on hold. Whirlwind Cannon In theory, the cannon could blast planes out of the sky When it comes to the Whirlwind Cannon, the name says it all. This weapon was designed by eccentric Austrian engineer Mario Zippermayr. It created a swirling blast of air that could shoot upwards, destroying planes in mid-air. Early prototypes seemed to be very effective, hitting targets at a distance of 600 feet. Had the weapon worked on a larger scale it could have been a formidable new threat to Allied fighter planes, but it proved to be wholly inadequate. A full-scale model was constructed and tested at Hillersleben Artillery proving ground, but it could not fire blasts intense enough to reach the altitude at which enemy planes flew. After several unsuccessful trials, this remarkable weapon was scrapped, and the test model abandoned. Goliath Tracked Mine Goliath Track Mines While its name may conjure up images of a giant, the Goliath Tracked Mine was a remarkably small device. It was a simple concept; a bomb on caterpillar tracks that could be controlled from afar with a joystick. The idea was to have German forces drive them towards enemy lines and detonate them when in range, without putting their own lives at risk. Like so many of the Nazi’s outlandish inventions, it only worked in theory. The critical flaw in its design was the remote control element; to function, an extended cable had to stretch from the joystick to the tank. All the Allied troops needed to do to disable the device was cut the wire, at which point German troops could no longer steer or detonate the bomb. They were also extremely vulnerable to anti-tank weaponry, impractically slow on the battlefield and overly expensive to produce. Sun Gun The Sun Gun was the stuff of science-fiction One of the most outrageously unrealistic weapons proposed and developed by German scientists during WWII, the so-called Sun Gun is pure science-fiction. The basic concept involved constructing and launching a space station into orbit that would be able to reflect the light of the sun back onto earth in intensely controlled rays. Theoretically, this would allow the Nazis to destroy entire cities in an instant, but “theoretically” really is the key word here. Although early tests were run and miniature prototypes built, even the Nazi scientists behind the concept admitted it would take anything from 50 to 100 years to put their work into practice. To harness the sun’s light as a weapon, they believed they would need nine square kilometers of metallic sodium, suspended almost 10,000 kilometers above the earth’s surface. Symptomatic of the Nazis’ many far-fetched ideas for super-weapons, there was no future in this particular venture. View the full article
  16. Though many wars throughout human history have dragged on for years, others ended far sooner. In fact, the results of some of the quickest wars are still felt in the politics and geography of the modern world today. From military conflicts that lasted for only two weeks to those that were won and lost in less than one hour, here are the five shortest wars in recorded history. The shortest war in human history broke out on the 27th of August, only to end less than one hour later. It is a matter of historical fact that the conflict lasted for a mere 38 minutes, with British imperial forces defeating the Sultan of Zanzibar in record time. Until this point, the nation had been ruled by Hamad bin Thuwaini, a man who was more than happy to work in tandem with the British. When he died, his nephew, Khalid bin Bargash, declared himself Sultan and occupied the palace. Having already selected their own ideal candidate for this role, the British gave the new Sultan a set time by which he had to abdicate. The Anglo-Zanzibar War (Duration: 38 Minutes) Bargash failed to meet the ultimatum, and British warships in the bay opened fire. The bombardment was brutally effective, and Bargash quickly fled the palace, taking refuge in the German embassy before he slipped away from the city entirely. To reinforce the unquestionable dominion of the Empire, Britain billed Zanzibar for the shells they’d used to attack the palace. The Six Day War (Duration: 6 Days) Although it is probably the second-shortest war in recorded history, there can be no doubt that its aftermath and outcome have had long-lasting effects. In fact, the decisive Israeli victory that ended the conflict still shapes the political landscape of the area in the 21st Century, more than half a century later. In summer 1967, after a long build-up of regional tensions, Egypt began marshaling forces along the border with Israel. In response, Israeli troops began a massive pre-emptive offensive on the 5th of June. The United Nations began to work towards a cease-fire immediately, but by the 10th of June Israel had captured the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Eastern Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. It was a decisive victory; while Israel lost less than a thousand men, Arab casualties numbered more than 20,000. On the 11th of June, a cease-fire was signed. Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 (Duration: 13 Days) Lasting only 13 days, the Indo-Pakistani War in 1971 began on the 3rd of December and came to an end on the 16th of December, with the fall of Dhaka. The war was closely linked Liberation War of Bangladesh, and began with aerial strikes against Indian air bases. The hostilities commenced following the election in Pakistani in 1970, when the East Pakistani Awami League manage to gain 167 of 169 seats in the region. Pakistan’s forces were soon defeated, suffering roughly 9000 casualties, while their opponents lost less than half that number. More than eight million civilians fled to India in search of refuge during the conflict, while at least 300,000 died in Bangladesh alone. Some estimations put that number much higher. Serbia-Bulgarian War (Duration: 14 Days) The fourth-shortest war in recorded history broke out on the 14th of November 1885, with hostilities flaring up between the nations of Serbia and Bulgaria. The conflict lasted for only 14 days, ending on the 28th of November with a decisive Bulgarian victory. They lost roughly 550 men, while Serbia sustained a casualty count of between 700 and 800. Serbia’s clear defeat prompted authorities in Austria-Hungry to threaten retaliation. The Viennese ambassador to Belgrade met with Bulgarian military officers and demanded an immediate end to their activities. Failing to meet their demands would have precipitated military actions on the part of the Austria-Hungarian army, and so a cease-fire was quickly signed. In the aftermath of the conflict, the rest of European was prompted to recognize the unification of Bulgaria, which had come into effect on the 18th of September 1885. The Georgian-Armenian War (Duration: 24 Days) The Georgian-Armenian war lasted only 24 days, but during that time hundreds, if not thousands, died. The Democratic Republic of Armenia and the Democratic Republic of Georgia entered into a military conflict for the control of the provinces known as Lori, Borchali, and Javakheti. Though these regions were hotly disputed, the populations therein were by the late 1800’s primarily Armenian. For some time the provinces had been under the control of Ottoman forces, but when they withdrew, Armenia and Georgia both moved to secure the region. Beginning on the 7th of December 1918 and ending on the 31st, neither side achieved a clear victory. A cease-fire came into effect, and the territory in question was placed under the mutual control of both the Georgian and Armenian governments. View the full article
  17. The modern games market has never been more diverse, offering a huge variety of titles in a wide range of genres. Many games offer pure escapism of fantasy or science-fiction, while others draw their inspiration from real historical events. From the Roman conquest of Europe to WWII, battles and warfare have been the stimulus for some of the most successful titles. Here are five popular video games from recent years that owe their success to the wars of the past. Assassin’s Creed Although players and critics criticized later installments of the franchise, the Assassin’s Creed games have been immensely successful, earning themselves an important place in gaming history. The games cover many different time periods and weave fantasy and science-fiction into most of the plots. Several entries in the series – the original game in particular – are heavily grounded in historical conflicts. The first game in the franchise is based on events from the Third Crusade, with a mission involving the Battle of Arsuf and appearances by some historical figures. Templar Knights feature as the antagonists for much of the game and the mysterious order of assassins have some basis in historical fact. This game and the series it kicked off owe a great deal to the wars of the past. Total War Series Shogun 2: Total War. By tlwmdbt – CC BY 2.0 The Total War games span multiple historical and cultural periods and have become a gold standard for turn-based strategy titles. Several games in the series received criticism for bugs and performance issues; Rome II suffered a particularly messy launch. However, the franchise as a whole has been well received. The most recent edition, Total War: Warhammer, moved into the high fantasy genre, but the majority of the games focus on real historical conflicts. Players can experience the Napoleonic Wars, the Mongol invasion of Europe, many Crusades, the Boshin War in 19th Century Japan and much more. It is their attention to historical accuracy and detail that makes the Total War games so compelling, putting this series at the forefront of modern strategy gaming. Age Of Empires III Although the only new entries in the series in the last few years have been expansions to previously released titles, the Age of Empires games have enjoyed considerable critical and commercial success. This has been attributed to a number of factors, including the reliance on real events and historical wars as their foundation. Age of Empires III is a particularly good example of this, with the game exploring the colonization of America by European factions across several centuries. It is a nuanced and historically accurate approach to everything from weaponry and technological advancement to Native American cultures and trade. Age of Empires III owes its accolades, awards and financial success to the close attention developers paid to the real military conflicts of early American history. Battlefield 1 By Stefan S – CC BY 2.0 In recent years there has been an increasing fatigue around the futuristic warfare of the Call of Duty series. Evidence of this was the backlash against the Infinite Warfare trailer in 2016. Many in the gaming community were looking for first person shooters with a basis in real historical combat. That is exactly what they got with the critically acclaimed Battlefield 1. With stunning graphics and outstanding gameplay, this title’s success can be traced back to a number of factors, but perhaps foremost among them is its setting in WWI. Technology, the weaponry, and locations are all historically accurate, allowing players to become immersed in a gritty and realistic recreation of the war. Call of Duty 1 – 3 In recent years this series has moved progressively away from its historical roots, focusing on modern to futuristic warfare instead. The original three Call of Duty games had their basis in WWII. They enabled players to experience dramatic recreations of historical events and battles. The games met with critical and financial success and received multiple awards, putting this franchise at the forefront of the first person shooter genre. Over the years the shift towards a setting that borders on science-fiction has been poorly received, underlining the original trilogy’s popularity. Basing the games on real events and historical warfare has proven to be a successful formula and one that is still popular today with other franchises. View the full article
  18. Outnumbered and outgunned, the underdogs that defeat their enemies through strategy, cunning or pure luck often give us the most compelling stories. Although numerical strength and superior weaponry is usually the key to victory, there are throughout history some remarkable examples of tiny armies managing to see off much larger forces in a number of ways. Using everything from the weather to the superior size of an enemy’s army to gain an advantage, here are four underdogs who won against all the odds. The Battle of Morgarten On the 15th of November, 1315, the confederates of Switzerland won a remarkable victory. The battle that preceded it saw no more than 1500 Swiss soldiers taking on an Austrian army of 8000 men. Vastly outnumbered, defeat would have been almost certain had the confederates met their opponents head on, but with a superior knowledge of the terrain and some cunning strategy, their chances of success were improved considerably. The Battle of Morgarten Choosing their moment carefully, the Swiss waited until the larger Austrian force was on the move beside Lake Ägeri, with water on one side and steep forested slopes on the other. The road had been blocked with heavy wooden barricades, and with the Austrian troops stretched out and trapped on the narrow path, the confederates launched their attack. Raining arrows and rocks down on their enemies from the slopes, the Swiss threw their enemies into disarray. By the time their soldiers had stormed down to the road to engage with the Austrians hand-to-hand, the invading army was collapsing in on itself. Soldiers found themselves crushed in the throng, or backed into the water where they were picked off by archers. Some of them managed to fall back along the road, but the army at large was decimated. Battle of Salamis The Battle of Salamis While the heroic stand of Sparta’s 300 at Thermopylae has become perhaps the most well-known chapter in the wars between Greece and Persia, another instance of an outnumbered Greek force battling an enormous invading force occurred soon afterwards. In this case, the defenders actually won, despite the poor odds. Subsequent to the annihilation of the 300 Spartans, several more engagements were lost and Athens was abandoned. The Greek forces fell back, while Persian emperor Xerxes pressed forward towards what looked to be a clear victory. However, the tides were about to turn. Despite their numerical inferiority, the Greeks planned another battle, this time on the sea. Luring the over-eager Persian ships into the Straits of Salamis, the small Greek force launched their attack. Although the invading navy consisted of roughly three times as many ships as the defenders’, their numbers proved to be a hindrance in the narrow straits. While Xerxes’ ships struggled to maneuver effectively, smaller and more nimble Greek vessels moved among them, ramming their hulls. Soon the enemy was in disarray, taking heavy losses and struggling to maintain any kind of counter-attack. Following their resounding defeat on the ocean, the Persian invasion began to falter, and was ultimately repelled. The Battle of Watling Street The statue to Boudica on Westminster Bridge at the heart of London. By David Precious – CC BY 2.0 From the Thermopylae pass in Greece to Stirling Bridge in Scotland, there is a long history of small forces using the terrain to funnel a larger army into more manageable formations. One particularly good example of this saw a tiny Roman force facing off against an enormous force of British rebels. With Boudica’s uprising progressing rapidly, a small group of Roman soldiers positioned themselves in a narrow gorge, backed by a thick forest. This latter feature was essential in deterring Boudica’s troops from attempting to circle around behind their positions. Instead, the rebels attacked directly along the gorge, confident that their superior numbers would be enough to break the tight defending formations. After volleys of Roman javelins tore through Boudica’s front ranks, the legionaries began to push forward in small wedges, backed up with powerful Roman cavalry units. Before long the disorganized and poorly equipped Britons were falling back from the gorge, only to be trapped by a line of their own wagons, which they had left behind them. Trapped before these and the advancing Romans, Boudica’s troops were slaughtered. Battle of Narva The Battle of Narva In late November 1700, Russian troops laid siege to the city of Narva, in Estonia. The region belonged to the Swedish Empire, but the defending forces were vastly outnumbered. The king of Sweden, Charles XII, led an army of 8000 men – at least three times less than the besieger’s forces – to defend the city. He positioned his men outside Narva, opposite the Russia’s army, and waited. Immediate engagement was impossible for either due to a severe blizzard, so the two armies held back at first. However, as the day went on, the wind changed and the snow began to blow directly into the eyes of the Russian soldiers, leaving their line of sight severely impaired. Seeing that this was his best chance at victory, Charles XII advanced quickly, with his men in two columns. They were able to creep right up on the enemy undetected, cutting the larger force into three smaller groups, which could then be systematically broken. The Russian army was crushed, and those who weren’t slaughtered quickly surrendered. View the full article
  19. As the evilest and most widely condemned organization in European history, the Nazis have long fascinated both historians and the public at large. Inevitably, a wide variety of grotesque and often unbelievable theories have formed around Hitler and his followers, blurring the distinction between historical fact and wild speculation. From dark magic and ancient prophecies to secret Nazi tunnels in Antarctica, here are five theories that walk the line between shocking fact and dark fiction. Inevitably, a wide variety of grotesque and often unbelievable theories have formed around Hitler and his followers, blurring the distinction between historical fact and wild speculation. From dark magic and ancient prophecies to secret Nazi tunnels in Antarctica, here are four theories that walk the line between shocking fact and dark fiction. 1: Nazi Tunnels in the Antarctic In 1938, a group of Germans led by a Navy captain undertook an expedition to Antarctica. It occurred as Europe teetered on the brink of the second world war which was declared in 1939. In later years, the trip became the subject of fantastical myths, most of which centered around the Hollow Earth and Concave Earth Theories. Authors, fringe groups, and conspiracy theorists have proposed that the German expedition’s real purpose was to locate the entrance to a network of underground tunnels supposedly leading down into the center of the planet. Some versions of the myth involve Hitler and other senior Nazi officials fleeing into this subterranean realm after the Allies achieved victory in Europe. The Nazis claimed only a small area of the Antarctica. By Thomas Blomberg – CC BY-SA 2.5 It is, of course, untrue, as the expedition had a very specific purpose. German authorities wanted to establish a whaling station in the area, as whale oil was a valuable resource. Germany was heavily reliant on Norway for that oil and wanted to produce it independently. Although a search for the main ingredient in soap and margarine is less exciting than a quest for the Hollow Earth, it is much more likely. 2: Hitler’s Missing Testicle Adolf Hitler’s missing testicle has been a subject of speculation for decades. By Roto3’14 – CC BY-SA 4.0 A claim often made about the leader of the Nazi party, is the fact that Adolf Hitler only had one testicle. It has long been touted in British propaganda and popular culture. This urban legend was the basis for the song “Hitler Has Only Got One Ball,” written in the late 1930s. It became popular among Allied troops who sang it as a way of belittling and ridiculing the enemy leader. Hitler’s doctor dismissed the idea, and people understandably cast doubt on the claim, seeing it as a product of biased propaganda, promoted by Germany’s enemies. However, in the years following the end of WWII, new research has uncovered documents and reports that point to it being more fact than fiction. Hitler’s prison records and medical records from his time as a soldier in WWI all point to a case of monorchism; the condition in which a man lacks one of his testicles. Although it is usually placed alongside other more far-fetched urban myths about the Nazis, the evidence behind this one is convincing. 3: Hitler Escaped To South America The fact that Hitler’s body was found badly burnt and only identified by Soviet forces has led to a long-running theory that the Nazi leader did not die when Berlin fell in 1945. For decades after WWII ended, people around the world have reported sightings of men they believe to be the Fuhrer. One location that seems to be a favorite for theorists is South America and Argentina in particular. Recent theories have suggested that Hitler fled Berlin via a secret tunnel to a nearby airport. From there he traveled first by helicopter and then in a U-boat to a series of secret locations, finally coming to rest in South America. There he lived out the rest of his days in peace, dying in Argentina later in the 20th Century. Many Nazis and fascists did find sanctuary there, including Adolf Eichmann and Joseph Mengele. However, there is no credible or convincing proof the Fuhrer joined them. Fantastic as the idea of Hitler’s escape may be, it is unlikely to be anything more than fiction. 4: The Nazis Practiced Dark Magic Heinrich Himmler was a key player in the Nazi’s occult network. By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de The Nazis’ links to occultism, esoteric practices, and dark magic are usually cast in the same light as the more unrealistic Nazi myths and conspiracies. However, there is considerable evidence for claims that Hitler and his associates were involved in occult practices. Heinrich Himmler, a high-ranking party member, participated in seances and rituals during which he attempted to contact the spirits of the dead. Rudolph Hess was a member of the shadowy Thule Society and associated with a network of fortune-tellers and mystics. Hitler himself had a keen interest in dark magic and was believed by many to be a Messiah whose coming was prophesied by Nostradamus. Although this macabre and seemingly fantastical feature of the Nazi party has become the basis for many works of fiction, the organization’s links to dark magic are far from fictional. View the full article
  20. Given the circumstances, we know an amazing amount about the ancient Roman army. Over 1500 years after the fall of the Roman Empire fell, we know more about its military than we do for many more recent civilisations. We know all these thanks to five kinds of sources. Literature Roman culture valued literature, and especially literature that told the stories of war and politics. As a result, we have a wealth of narrative information about the wars of Rome, much of it left by Romans themselves, some by their opponents. The record is not consistent throughout the empire, and we know more about periods when major historians were alive. Some saw the events they described first-hand. Polybius was at the siege of Carthage in 147-146 BC while Caesar left a full though biassed account of his Gallic Wars. The sources have their limits. Being literature rather than history as we now know it, they seldom record technical information, and details are often vague. Polybius’s description of the finer workings of the republican legions is the exception rather than the rule. Literary conventions sometimes cloud our understanding of events, as do the biases of writers justifying the actions of their homeland or political sponsors. For more technical information we have military manuals. Records of theoretical forms of war rather than the compromised reality works such as Frontinus’ Stratagems and Vegetius’s Concerning Military Affairs still provide a valuable insight into how men thought about war. Archaeology Inverted kite aerial photo of an excavation of a Roman building at Nesley near Tetbury in Gloucestershire. By Dr John Wells – CC BY 3.0 It is very rare for a new literary source to be discovered, lost and unexamined for centuries. Archaeological remains, on the other hand, are being found, studied and recorded in growing numbers. Remains are most often found at places where the army was based for some time, such as forts and barracks blocks. Hadrian’s Wall has provided great insights into the life of legionaries in Roman Britain. Rarer are finds of temporary camps such as siege lines though these have been unearthed at opposite ends of the empire, at Masada in Judea and Numantia in Spain. There show how camps were constructed and siege works conducted. Rarest of all, and often the most fascinating, are traces of armies on campaign. The marching camps of legions were seldom recorded and leave little physical evidence, and the location of battle sites is hard to pin down. When such evidence is found, as at Maiden Castle in Britain or the exciting finds at the Teutoberg Wald in Germany, this provides valuable insights into battle’s and their aftermath. Sub-literary Sources Vindolanda tablet. By Fæ – CC BY-SA 3.0 When we think of written evidence or records we normally think of the literary sources – the histories, chronicles and fighting manuals written by scholars and men of power. But other written evidence is sometimes found, providing a record of more mundane details and the lives of ordinary legionaries. Literary sources have survived not in their original editions but in copies made and preserved down the centuries. Sub-literary sources, on the other hand, are the real deal, preserved by accidents of environmental conditions. For a fragile document to last two millennia takes very special circumstances, such as papyruses preserved by the dry heat of Egypt, or the wooden tablets that survived in piles of waste at the Hadrian’s Wall fort of Vindolanda. While the literary sources provide us with the big picture, sub-literary sources provide an insight into ordinary life. Some are private correspondence while many record administrative details such as legal disputes, inventories of supplies and business dealings. They show us what the day-to-day working of the legions was like, and as more are found, so our understanding grows richer and broader. Epigraphy Basilica of Aquileia, 4th-century mosaic with Latin inscription: IANUARI DEDEI DONO P * DCCCLXX. By Wolfgang Sauber – CC BY-SA 3.0 The third, form of written source comes from the inscriptions carved on monuments and tombstones. Like the literary and sub-literary sources, these engravings show us the Roman army from a different angle. The two most common sorts of inscriptions are tombstones and monuments. Small monuments were often erected to record the achievements of units, such as the completion of construction projects. Others came in the form of altars and other religious monuments. Both tombstones and monuments, though religious in flavour, provide us with insight into far more than what the legionaries believed. The names of soldiers are recorded upon them, along with ranks, units and achievements. On an individual level, these offer a record of commanding officers. On a broader level, they show us where certain units were at certain times, and other details of army organisation. Much of what we know about the rank structure of the armies of Rome comes from these inscriptions, with their records of how men rose through the ranks. The names of the men recorded in carvings and the gods they made offerings to can be used to draw conclusions about the ethnic makeup and geographical origin of specific units and the army as a whole. These conclusions are always a little speculative, but give an idea of the diverse nature of the legions. Art Trajan’s Column around 1896. One of the reasons why Europeans have remained so fascinated by their Roman past is the magnificent remains the Romans built across the continent and beyond. Their artistic endeavours, and in, particular their carvings, have stood the test of time, allowing us to learn more about the appearance and actions of the legions. While archaeological remains provide the most detailed and reliable insights into legionary equipment, carvings show us details usually lost to archaeology. Cloth and leather quickly rot away, but stone imitations can last for millennia. Tombstones again play a part, as does public art and architecture. The most impressive record of the Roman army is Trajan’s Column, built in Rome to celebrate the Emperor Trajan’s victory of 106 AD over the Dacians. While it shows an idealised army, it shows a great deal of details and information on auxiliary troops and different forms of uniform, as well as events in the Dacian campaign. The Tropaeum Traiani at Adamklissi, now in Romania, shows the same campaign more realistic point of view and demonstrate the legionnaire’s equipment and everyday duties. Source: Adrian Goldsworthy (2003), The Complete Roman Army. View the full article
  21. Though they clung to the name of the Roman Empire, the Byzantines never achieved the glory of their predecessors. Theirs was an empire in slow retreat and stagnation, they were not dynamic conquerors like the Romans. But even by their standards, the Battle of Pliska in 811 was a humiliating disaster. Border Wars Following the fall of the Roman Empire in the west, its eastern half lived on for another millennium. Though we now refer to them as the Byzantine Empire, the Byzantines thought of themselves as Roman and even used that name in reference to themselves, long after the fall of Rome. Like the original Romans, their history was one of repeated border wars. As they tried to retain power over the wide region left to them, they were forced to fight against new enemies constantly, who came out of Arabia, northern Europe and the Asian steppes, to attack the empire. One of these tribes was the Bulgars. In the early 9th century, the Bulgars were the biggest thorn in Byzantium’s side. Under the Khan Krum, the gathered Bulgar tribes launched regular raids into Byzantine territory, not to conquer but to extract wealth. A 14th-century image of Krum As long as the Bulgars remained unchecked, the Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus I faced resentment from the people whose lands he was not protecting. The risk that they would leave the empire grew with each raid. And so, in 811, he gathered an army of 70,000 men and headed out to face the Bulgars. The Bulgars Retreat The Byzantines might not be the greatest fighting force the region had ever seen, but this was still an intimidating army. Faced with its advance, Krum asked for peace. A negotiated settlement would not bring what Nicephorus needed. There was no guarantee that the Bulgars would not begin raiding again as soon as his back was turned. Gathering a large army was a difficult and costly undertaking, which he could not afford to do every time they attacked. And without a victory, he stood less chance of reassuring his nervous subjects. Nicephorus needed to push for victory while he had the forces to win it. There would be no negotiation. And so, as the Byzantines advanced, Krum withdrew his forces north, abandoning his capital of Pliska. Into the Valley The Byzantines seized Pliska, and with it great heaps of loot. But they could not stop there and celebrate – Nicephorus needed to break the Bulgar army. That army was growing. In the hills north of Pliska, Krum was hiring Avar mercenaries and recruiting more warriors from his own population. But his forces would still be no match for the Byzantines in the open – they were raiders, not line fighters. To gain the vital edge, Krum decided to make use of the terrain. As the Byzantines advanced, weighed down with spoils confident of their certain victory, he drew them into a steep-sided valley north of his capital. The Byzantines obligingly advanced, right up until the vanguard found the far end of the valley blocked with a wooden palisade held by Bulgars. Before Nicephorus could order his army to pull back, word came from the rear guard – Bulgar troops had emerged in their rear and held the Byzantines off long enough to build another palisade. Both ends of the valley were blocked by Bulgar fortifications. The Byzantines were trapped. No Confidence If the test of a commander is how he copes with a crisis, then Nicephorus was no commander at all. Faced with the Bulgar ruse, he failed to act. The Byzantine heavy cavalry, so effective in open battle, would be no use here. The sides of the valley were too steep to get out that way. Escaping from either end would mean accepting heavy casualties in an assault on a palisade. Rather than accept the inevitable and try and rescue the situation, Nicephorus avoided making a decision. Instead, he made camp. For two days the Byzantines camped in the valley, ’s commanders, including his son Stauricius, begged him to act. But he had lost the will to act and his destiny slipped from his hands. The emperor waited to see what would happen next. The Bulgars Attack On the third night, Krum had his men bang on their shields and shout down at their trapped enemies from the valley sides. Having shaken their foes, the Bulgars swept down into the valley. Their surprise attack targeted Nicephorus’s own tents and those of his toughest troops, overwhelming them before they could organise and resist. Nicephorus was killed – the first Roman Emperor to die in battle for over 400 years. Other Byzantines were driven toward the riverbed at the bottom of the valley, where hundreds were cut down or drowned in the marshes. The Romans Routed Those who remained tried to flee, many crossing the river and swamps on the bodies of their dead comrades. Running into the Bulgar palisade, some climbed over, only to die when they fell into the deep ditch on the far side. Others fell into the ditch after setting fire to the logs and rushing through the flames. The broken remnants of Nicephorus’s mighty army eventually forced their way out of the valley. Among them was the emperor’s son Stauricius who had fought his way clear alongside his bodyguards. Though he inherited the crown it did him little good, and he died of the after-effects of his wounds six months later. Doubling Down on Defeat The following year, the Byzantine Emperor Michael tried to make up for the disaster at Pliska by launching another attack on the Bulgars. It was another disaster. Faced with Krum’s forces, Michael lost his nerve, just as Nicephorus had. The Emperor failed to advance, leaving one of his commanders, John Aplaces, to lead the left wind forward alone. John’s troops were encircled and slaughtered while Michael fled. The remnants of Rome had proved themselves unworthy of that proud name. However, Basil II was later to retrieve the situation and inflicted a devastating defeat on the Bulgars and helped to prolong the life of the Byzantine Empire. Sources: Geoffrey Regan (1991), The Guinness Book of Military Blunders. View the full article
  22. Success in war is as much about avoiding death as about inflicting it. In modern warfare, doctors, nurses and field medics are as vital to an army as the men whose lives they save. In World War One, as new advances in weaponry inflicted incredible destruction upon fighting men, incredible work was also being done in saving their lives. Lieutenant General Sir William Boog Leishman Born in Glasgow in 1865, Leishman’s career had always combined medicine and the armed forces. After graduating from the University of Glasgow he enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps, where he researched tropical diseases while stationed in colonial India. Back in Britain, he joined the Royal Army Medical College where he became a Professor of Pathology. Leishman was most noted for his work in studying disease and was the president of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene from 1911 to 1912. During his work, he developed new typhoid fever inoculations. Typhoid had been a real menace to the British Army during previous wars, and Leishman’s work saved an estimated 130,000 lives as well as preventing 900,000 men being invalidated out of the army. On his death in 1926, his Royal Society obituary stated that “For this achievement, Leishman must be accounted to have been one of our most successful generals in the Great War.” William Leishman. By Bassano – CC BY 4.0 Sir Arthur Sloggett Sir Arthur Thomas Sloggett All the medical supplies in the Empire would have done no good without an effective system to get them into place. The man responsible for ensuring that treatment was well organized was Sir Arthur Sloggett. Sloggett was another career army medic, and Director General of Army Medical Services when the war began. Outgoing and cheerful, he got on well with the commanders running the war, helping to ensure smooth cooperation. His role was management and leadership, which could have been conducted from London, but when he saw the chaotic nature of initial efforts he relocated to France. The part of his job – based at the War Office – was passed to Sir Alfred Keogh while Sloggett reorganized medical care on the ground for millions of troops. Sloggett and Keogh together quietly transformed Britain’s military medical care. They increased supplies of antiseptic and anesthetic and oversaw the provision of field dressings to all soldiers, allowing swift emergency treatment and better care down the line. Sir Anthony Bowlby By Doris V. Jaeger. , CC BY 4.0 Recognising the limits of their knowledge, the army consulted with senior surgeons on how to better treat the injured. Sir Anthony Bowlby was the most important of these surgeons. Though he had not served in the army, he had been a volunteer surgeon for the British forces during the Boer War, and so understood the beast with which they were grappling. Bowlby pushed hard to modernize ways of working. In particular, he fought against the practice of bringing men far from the front before treating them. The sooner they were treated the more likely they were to survive, and that meant moving medical services closer to the battle zones. Another of the changes Bowlby saw took place in the Casualty Clearing Stations (CCS), bases that effectively acted as miniature hospitals a few miles behind the lines. He pushed them into specializing in the most important treatments for the wounded, including head injuries and abdominal wounds. CCS took on an increasingly important role, providing more and more medical services including surgery, to ensure that men were treated as quickly as possible. Captain Harold Delf Gillies A New Zealander educated as much in Britain as in his homeland, Gillies was one of the great innovators of the British medical war effort, and of the field of plastic surgery. Having worked in London as an ear, nose and throat surgeon, Gillies was familiar with the delicate operations that could take place around the head and face, and the scars they could leave. When the war broke out, the 32-year-old spent several months as a Red Cross volunteer in France and Belgium, being exposed to the horrors of war. While on the continent he was also exposed to the work of Europe’s most famous plastic surgeon, Hippolyte Morestin. The operation Gillies saw Morestin conduct, removing a face cancer and repairing the wound, was a revelation to him. Back in Britain, Gillies approached Bowlby. Gillies had become a passionate advocate for reconstructive surgery and believed that the war made it doubly important. The huge number of head wounds meant that many men would be disfigured for life. Gillies argued that the army should have its own unit to deal with reconstructing the faces of the injured. Bowlby was persuaded, and he, in turn, persuaded Keogh. In January 1916, Captain Gillies was sent to the Cambridge Military Hospital in Aldershot to start work. What followed transformed the lives of thousands of men, as well as the techniques of reconstructive surgery. Gillies and his team had no textbooks to guide them and so developed techniques of their own as they rebuilt bone, skin, and cartilage. New ways of replacing skin were developed. New challenges in anesthetics were overcome. Bone grafting techniques were invented to rebuild noses and jaws. Artists were brought in to help them recreate features and restore faces to what they had once been. By the Battle of the Somme, Gillies had been given an extra 200 beds in another hospital, but in the face of the appalling casualties from that battle, it was not enough. He worked around the clock seven days a week, rebuilding not just men’s bodies, but their morale. Faces are so important to human identity that facial damage could crush a man’s spirits. Calm, encouraging and cheerful, Gillies helped men to believe that they could survive what they had undergone. By the end of the war, doctors were coming from around the world to learn from him. Sources: Taylor Downing (2014), Secret Warriors: Key Scientists, Code-breakers and Propagandists of the Great War. View the full article
  23. At the start of the Second World War, the French general staff were led by General Maurice Gamelin, an officer widely respected by both allies and opponents. A veteran of the First World War, he was credited with much of the planning that led to victory at Marne in 1914. Since then, he had tried to modernize and mechanize the army. But Gamelin was suffering from neurosyphilis, whose symptoms include lapses in concentration, memory, judgment, and intellect. Gamelin’s own memoirs showed paranoia and delusions of grandeur. His strategy was grounded in First World War tactics, despite changes since then. As the French were driven back by Germany, he sacked twenty frontline commanders, scapegoats for his failure, rather than accept that his plans had been flawed. Their Main Defense was the Maginot Line Gamelin’s defense of France relied upon the Maginot Line, a line of concrete fortifications running the length of France’s border with Germany. This was meant to make it difficult the Germans to invade France directly, giving the French time to prepare. To avoid offending the Belgians, the line did not run past their border all the way to the English Channel. As a result, despite its near-impregnable concrete defenses, the Line became useless, with the Germans simply advancing around its northern edge. Gamelin Relied on a Slow Defensive Strategy Hitler watching German soldiers marching into Poland in September 1939. Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de Gamelin’s plan to defend France was based on the same sort of defensive thinking that had led to the Maginot Line. Rather than take the initiative, he intended to delay while French forces were mustered. Very little effort was made to invade Germany or weaken her infrastructure with targeted bombing. The initiative, and so the course of the war, was left in German hands, and the Germans were given time to finish fighting in Poland and then after their victory in the east to move troops west. Germany Succeeded Using the Manstein Plan Clockwise: The evolution of German plans for Fall Gelb, the invasion of the Low Countries. German success was founded on a plan developed by General Erich von Manstein. Rather than advance primarily across the open plains of the Low Countries, the Germans focused two-thirds of their forces, including three-quarters of the available tanks, in a single strike along a narrow front through the Ardennes Forest. This area was weakly defended, as the French believed it was impassable to tanks. The Germans proved them wrong. They Divided the Allies with the Sickle Stroke Rommel and staff during the Battle for France, June 1940. Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de Having smashed their way into France, German forces then followed a move known as the Sichelschitt (sickle stroke). Sweeping south across France at remarkable speed, they divided the Allied forces into two parts, separated by the “Panzer corridor” of German armor. Communication lines between the halves were cut, and the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was left isolated in Belgium. 340,000 Allied Troops Escaped Through Dunkirk British troops escaping from Dunkirk (France, 1940). Screenshot taken from the 1943 United States Army propaganda film Divide and Conquer (Why We Fight #3) directed by Frank Capra and partially based on, news archives, animations, restaged scenes and captured propaganda material from both sides. With German victory imminent, the British decided to save what forces they could. Only one Channel port was still in their hands, and so the BEF withdrew to there. This port was Dunkirk. Despite German bombing of the harbor, the British conducted a successful seaborne withdrawal in the form of Operation Dynamo. Over the course of 8 days, 848 ships rescued 340,000 fighting men, two-thirds of them British. It was an extraordinary achievement, but one with substantial losses – six destroyers were lost, 19 damaged, and the soldiers’ equipment had to be left behind. Italy Joined on 20 June Photograph of the Val Dora battalion of the 5th Alpini Regiment in action in the Colle della Pelouse during the Italian invasion of France in June 1940. At the start of the Second World War, Italy avoided committing to the fighting, despite Mussolini’s political closeness with Hitler. Some in Britain even hoped that Italy might be persuaded to join their side, as in the First World War. On 22 May 1940, Mussolini signed a military alliance with Nazi Germany – the Pact of Steel. On 10 June he declared war on Britain and Germany, and on 20 June invaded southern France. By then the Battle of France was almost over. The Italian troops made only limited progress and made almost no strategic difference. On 10 June he declared war on Britain and France, and on 20 June invaded southern France. By then the Battle of France was almost over. The Italian troops made only limited progress and made almost no strategic difference. The Battle of France Lasted 46 Days The classic characteristic of what is commonly known as “blitzkrieg” is a highly mobile form of infantry and armor, working in combined arms. Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de The Battle of France lasted only 46 days – from the German invasion of 10 May to the announcement of an armistice on 25 June 1940. German Blitzkrieg tactics and highly effective Panzer formations far outmatched the slow-moving French and Gamelin’s cautious strategy. The British, having far fewer troops in the fight, went along with the French plans, and found themselves cut off and forced to withdraw. Paris fell on 14 June, and French Prime Minister Paul Reynaud, seeing the failure he had overseen, resigned on 16 June. His replacement, Marshal Philippe Pétain, immediately started suing for peace. The Armistice was Signed in a Railway Carriage – Again Ceasefire with France signed in the Compiégne woods on 22 June 1940. Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de The armistice agreement was signed on 22 June 1940, with Hitler traveling from Germany for the event. The signing took place at the symbolically powerful site of Compiègne. Compiègne had been the German headquarters in France during World War One, and it was there that they had signed the armistice of 1918. Hitler’s early political career was built on German resentment at the results of that peace. He made the French sign their own surrender in the same railway carriage in which the 1918 peace was signed, and then took the carriage to Germany as a souvenir. Five years later, in April 1945, it was destroyed rather than let the Allies recapture it. There were 523,000 Casualties A German Military Medic providing first aid to a wounded soldier. Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de The Germans suffered 157,000 casualties in the Battle of France, 27,000 of them dead. Their Italian allies suffered around 6,000 casualties. The Allies lost over twice as many men, with 360,000 dead or wounded. A further 1,900,000 were captured. Western Europe was now in the grip of the Axis powers, and the Allies had no land base on the continent. Put on trial by Frances Vichy regime, which collaborated with Germany after the fall, Maurice Gamelin refused to answer the charges, sitting in dignified silence. He was imprisoned in France and Germany, and survived the war, living until 1958. View the full article
  24. Few military orders throughout history have maintained the same air of secrecy and mystique as the Knights Templar. From their humble origins in the Middle East to their sudden fall in Paris centuries later, their story has captivated generations and inspired books, films, and video games. Perhaps more tantalizing, however, are the many conflicting theories their legacy has inspired since they vanished from the pages of history. They were formed in 1120 when it became apparent pilgrims were in danger from marauding bandits and highwaymen on the road to Jerusalem. The founders made it their mission to protect Christians journeying to their holy sites. They called themselves the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon. Much of their identity in the early years was defined by their poverty – reflected by their emblem of two men riding one horse – but that did not last for very long. Ironically, this small and impoverished Order eventually became one of the wealthiest and most powerful political factions in Medieval Europe. Generous benefactors, the backing of the Church and a great deal of shrewd financial investment allowed the Templars to rise to prominence and influence across the continent. The emblem of the Order However, King Philip IV of France developed a personal vendetta against the Order and decided to take action against them. In the 1300’s the Monarch successfully cracked down on the Templars, accusing them of heresy and had key figures in the group executed. Officially, their story ended there, with the Order disbanded and the remaining members scattered to the wind. However, that may not be the case. The execution of Templar Knights in France There are theories – some more convincing than others – as to the various forms in which the Knights Templar may have continued, and where their influence was strongest years after their apparent downfall in France. Contemporary accounts gave rise to the theory that a fleet of eighteen ships belonging to the Templars and moored at La Rochelle was used for a daring escape. Certainly, the Order had numerous vessels and many members who were never apprehended by the French authorities. Their fate is still a subject of debate to this day. Jean de Châlon, a brother of the Order, testified that eighteen galleys had set sail under the command of Templar officers, laden with a “whole treasury.” Subsequently, some historians have cast doubt on the reliability of that testimony. There is no doubt many Templar Knights were able to inexplicably evade capture and flee abroad, some heading north across the sea to Scotland. That theory is in keeping with both the Scottish connection and another even stranger hypothesis. The Battle of Bannockburn, where some sources claim Templars fought alongside the Scots. It is widely accepted that some of the Templars fled to Scotland. The Order had holdings in both England and Scotland. However, the former had avoided intervening when King Philip IV was decimating the Templars. They had even participated in some of the arrests themselves. There is evidence of Templar Knights relocating to Scotland with carved symbols in Rosslyn Chapel, Edinburgh, and accounts from the Battle of Bannockburn to back up this narrative. There are claims the Templars hid their treasure there, possibly in the vaults beneath Rosslyn Chapel. The exact nature of what the Order secreted in Scotland is not clear – it is speculated to be the Holy Grail or the mummified body of Christ. However, many of the conspiracy theories were developed during the 1980’s and are unfounded. Although it is almost certain members of the Order did escape to Scotland, what they did upon their arrival there is still something of a mystery. Oak Island, Canada – another potential site for buried Templar treasure. By Oaktree b – CC BY-SA 4.0 Another theory suggests the Templars traveled across the Atlantic, towards uncharted territories. Again, this version of events features their treasure, which proponents believe may still be buried on Oak Island in Canada. However, there is little credible evidence to back this up, and it is perhaps less convincing than their relocation to Scotland. While these possibilities are debated and remain uncertain, a few things are known for sure about the aftermath of the Templars’ sudden downfall. For example, it is a matter of historical fact that many members were assimilated into the Hospitaller Order or sent to join The Knights of St John. These factions were meant to receive the majority of the Templar wealth and business assets – a great deal of which was never found. Along with 15,000 Templar Houses and a large fleet of ships, there were extensive records of all business transactions and financial holdings. Officially it should all have been passed to other Crusader orders, but it is unclear what became of any of it. Along with the highly secretive style in which the Templars conducted much of their work in later years, these unanswered questions leave plenty of room for speculation. The Knights Templar still hold a mysterious and enigmatic place in history and modern culture. It has been maintained over the years by Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and the hugely successful Assassin’s Creed video games. Perhaps what has allowed their legacy to grip so many for so long is the sheer amount of conjecture surrounding them that remains. From unexplained carvings in a Scottish church to buried treasure on a distant Canadian island, it is the answers we still do not have that make the secrets of the Templars so compelling. View the full article
  25. One of the most powerful tools in Napoleon Bonaparte’s intellectual arsenal was the connections he drew between his own life and that of great figures from history. This provided the French ruler with inspiration, and more importantly fulfilled an ideological purpose. By linking himself to these great men, in an age when history was seen as shaped by them, he could improve his public image, win support and provide legitimacy for his regime. For a French ruler, no example could be more important or more appropriate than Charlemagne. Frankish King and Holy Roman Emperor The King of the Franks from 768 to 814 AD, Charles the Great, or Charlemagne, was one of the most influential figures in early medieval history. During his 46 year reign, he conquered most of western Europe, becoming King of the Lombards and Holy Roman Emperor – the first leader to bear the title of Roman Emperor since the fall of the Roman Empire in the west three centuries before. With its elite cavalry troops, effective law making and inspirational cultural renaissance, Charlemagne’s Carolingian Empire would provide an inspiration for the rulers who followed. He laid the foundations for the later nations of France and Germany. In France in particular, he came to be seen as a founding national hero, a figure akin to King Alfred or the legendary Arthur in Britain. His image was, therefore, a powerful one for Napoleon to associate with, an important example of a French ruler with Europe-wide ambitions. Outside Encouragement Already a fan of the Frankish king, Napoleon was encouraged in his attempts to imitate Charlemagne by others around him. Prior to his falling out with Pope Pius VII, Napoleon was encouraged by the papacy to follow the example of Charlemagne. After all, the Frankish king had supported and protected the church during an era of chaos and violence. Even some within what remained of the Holy Roman Empire saw Napoleon as a possible ruler of the contemporary institution that had evolved from Charlemagne’s empire. The Archbishop of Mainz and Arch-Chancellor of the Holy Roman Empire, Karl Theodor Anton Maria von Dalberg, suggest in 1806 that the best hope for preserving the Empire – which by this pointed was famously neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire – was to give the crown once held by Charlemagne to Napoleon. With both his own interests and the influence of others encouraging him to imitate Charlemagne, Napoleon sought in several ways to make himself seem like the new version of the ancient king. French Coronation The most famous incident in which Napoleon associated himself with Charlemagne was his coronation in Notre-Dame de Paris on 2 December 1804. This was the moment at which France returned from being a republic, as it had been since the revolution, to being a monarchy. Though Napoleon had effectively ruled for several years, he now took a royal title. Like Charlemagne, he was founding a French dynastic line. The Coronation of Napoleon, by Jacques Louis David Though this was a return to the monarchy for France, it was a monarchy with a symbolically important difference. At its head was an emperor, not a king. In this way, Napoleon associated himself less strongly with the example of the overthrown royal line, against which many in France still harbored deep resentments. Instead, he had taken the title last worn in France by Charlemagne. Just as symbolically, he gave a key role in his coronation to the Pope. Napoleon, unlike Charlemagne, crowned himself with his own hands. But like Charlemagne, he ensured that his imperial coronation carried the blessing of the head of the Catholic church. Lombard Coronation The coronation in Paris was not the only one Napoleon received. At Milan on 26 May 1805, he had himself crowned King of Italy. On this occasion, he was crowned with the Iron Crown of Lombardy, one of the most ancient royal relics in Europe, with a heritage and mythology stretching back to Charlemagne’s Kingdom of Lombardy. Once again, Napoleon was taking on a title associated with Charlemagne. This time, he did so wearing a crown that many believed Charlemagne himself had worn. To hammer the point home, he marked the occasion by giving a painting of Charlemagne to the city of Milan. Universal Monarchy The Austrian noble Colloredo wrote of Napoleon that he “sought to become a new Charlemagne and aspired to ‘universal Monarchy’”. What Colloredo uttered as a warning, Napoleon and his associates, such as his brother Lucien, saw as a fine example of the potential for unity across the continent. Like Charlemagne, Napoleon sought to unite all the lands he could reach, to create a single monarchy governing the nations of Europe. The dream was not to make all nations the same but to unite them under one law and one set of political values. It was an aspiration that linked Napoleon’s early endeavors in the cause of the republic with his later wars of imperial conquest. Associations with the Great Name Napoleon worked tirelessly to push the name of Charlemagne into the forefront of people’s minds when they saw him. He regularly spoke about the medieval emperor, telling papal representatives in 1809 that “In me you see Charlemagne. I am Charlemagne, me!” Some connections were little more subtle, though not much, as when he traveled aboard the boat Charlemagne in 1811. He encouraged Jacques-Louis David, who famously painted propaganda pieces for the emperor’s reign, to connect him with Charlemagne. That name appears, along with others, in the rocks beneath Napoleon in David’s portrait of him crossing the Alps. Aachen Even Charlemagne’s capital of Aachen was incorporated into this grand work of propaganda. A portrait of the new emperor was displayed there, and in 1811 an effigy of Charlemagne was paraded through the city, with a message inscribed upon it in both German and French: “I am only surpassed by Napoleon.” View the full article
  26. Throughout the 20th and 21st Centuries, military technology has advanced considerably. Along the way, that evolution has taken some disastrous turns, particularly several weapons which proved almost as dangerous for the men using them as they were for the enemy. Here are five that proved unreliable to the point of being deadly to those who used them. The Mark 14 Torpedo Like many nations around the globe, the US and its Navy struggled to develop effective torpedo systems during WWII. The Mark 14 torpedo was a particularly dangerous venture. Not only did it often miss its target, but on one occasion it sank the submarine it was launched from. Due to its magnetic trigger mechanism, it doubled back and hit the USS Tullibee, the submarine that had fired it, resulting in the deaths of almost everyone on board. Its development had been under-funded and the testing period for the weapon was much too short, so the risks were already high. The torpedo was eventually redesigned, and the problems that had made it so dangerous were corrected. The Mark 14 Torpedo The M16 Rifle During the Vietnam War, American soldiers were issued with new M16 rifles. The manufacturers claimed the weapons were “self-cleaning” so troops were supplied with minimal cleaning materials and no instructions on how to maintain them. It proved to be a deadly problem. The M16 Rifle in action The rifles got clogged with dirt and detritus, and spent cartridges became stuck inside the chamber. The only way to remove the blockage and get it operational again was to take the rifle apart, clean it and remove the cartridge. This laborious process left troops on the battlefield completely defenseless, and there were numerous reports of soldiers being found dead after a gunfight with their M16 disassembled beside them. Gas Gas being released from cylinders An iconic feature of WWI, chemical weapons like mustard and chlorine gas could be devastatingly effective when used successfully. However, there were risks involved for the men deploying the gas in the first place. The delivery of gasses via a projectile had been outlawed by the Hague Convention in 1899. The only available method was to open a gas cylinder when the wind was blowing towards enemy lines. It meant if the wind changed – as it often did – the cloud could be blown right back onto the soldiers who released it. Also storing the cylinders was dangerous. If any of them leaked prematurely, the ensuing stream of gas drew enemy fire and shelling, as well as directly affecting the soldiers nearby. Underground Explosives An underground explosion on the Western Front Tunneling has been used in wars throughout the centuries, and during WWI, it became a practice on both sides of the Western Front. Teams of men worked to dig passages underground, moving towards and underneath enemy lines. When they reached beneath critical enemy positions, they set explosives to be detonated. However, planting the explosives was incredibly dangerous for the soldiers involved. Tunnelers risked dying from cave-ins, or crushed and trapped when the passages collapsed around them, as well as carbon monoxide poisoning. Explosives sometimes went off prematurely, killing the men charged with setting them up. The Ross Rifle Originally designed as a hunting rifle, this weapon was supplied to Canadian troops during WWI. Although the firearm worked well for its original purpose, as a military tool it was far from ideal. It was large and unwieldy, for one thing, and the mud and dirt of the trenches easily jammed the internal workings. A bayonet fixed on the barrel often fell off when a bullet was fired. The worst and most troubling feature of this weapon, however, was that the bolt of the rifle often dislodged when in use, launching the bullet back into the soldiers’ hands. At best this could result in serious injury, at worst it could cause their death. Understandably, the Ross Rifle was removed from service after just a year in action. View the full article
  27. Must See TV For Every Veteran

    With more than 250,000 veterans transitioning every year from military to civilian life–it’s one of the nation’s most important topics. “Keeping America’s Promise’–a recent town hall meeting organized by WorkingNation–will be aired this weekend (Dec.15-17) on Hiring America–the only television show created and devoted to giving veterans transiioning to civilian life the tools, information and direction to find meaningful jobs and careers. This is MUST SEE TV for any and every veteran, their families, friends–their entire “ecosystem.” With more than 250,000 veterans transitioning every year from military to civilian life – it’s one of the nation’s most important topics. Highlights from the recent Town Hall meeting “Keeping America’s Promise” – organized by WorkingNation – will be aired this weekend (Dec.15-17) on HIRING AMERICA – the only television show created and devoted to giving veterans transitioning to civilian life the tools, information and direction to find meaningful jobs and careers. The 30-minute special features a panel discussion with some of America’s top corporate and veteran organization employment experts. The original event – capsulized in the TV special – was held in front of a live audience at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, TX. The program can be seen on nearly 200 TV stations nationwide and the American Forces Network. “The Town Hall meeting was an incredible exchange of ideas and meaningful, impactful dialogue,” said Art Bilger, founder and CEO of WorkingNation. “It proved to be a great way of sharing insights on how best we can deliver on the promise of a good life/good career and job for those who have served in the military. I’m thrilled we can share this with millions of TV viewers.” Panelists included former U.S. Army Chief of Staff General George W. Casey, Jr. and executives from such entities as IBM, 7-Eleven, The Home Builders Institute and veteran organization DAV. “Every potential employer is looking for people who can probem solve, who are team players, are task directed, have solid leadership skills – and are driven to be successful,” observed General Casey. “And those qualities are found in almost all transitioning veterans.” Bottom line: They make excellent employees. “Hiring America is very proud to be airing this show,” related Bill Deutch, creator and executive producer. “We think our viewers will find it very engaging and insightful.” The event was perhaps best summed up by Jeff Hall, national employment director for DAV: “A veteran wants to get up and going every day with purpose.” The Town Hall meeting was designed to help ensure just that. Learn more at WorkingNation website and Hiring America website. View the full article
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