History – War

War appears inviable, which is frightening, and there have been many interesting wars, and unless we learn from them my worry is that we will keep making the same mistakes and fighting wars.


The Battle of Copenhagen

This was when Nelson put a telescope to his blind eye saying, “I see no signal”, it was the most famous act of disobedience by a commander in the Royal Navy.

When sent a signal to disengage, he turned to his flag captain holding his telescope to his blind eye, said “I really do not see the signal!”

Was he disciplined for disobeying an order?  No, because …….

Facts about the Battle of Britain

Did you know that ordinary men and women played a vital role in winning this battle?  Air Raid Wardens, firefighters and those in the Home Guard. Not forgetting those people, who between June and October 1940, built around 2,000 Hurricanes and Spitfires.

They were as fundamental as those on the front line, as without a continual supply of aircraft replacing those shot down, we ………

Did the Dutch invade England!

Did the Dutch successfully invade? 

Is this one of the whoppers of history.

You see we didn’t call it an invasion but “The Glorious Revolution”. 

Let me explain what happened and you can decide whether it was an invasion or a revolution?

In England Protestant Parliamentarians were worried

Have the Danes ever
successfully invaded England?

Yes, throughout the 9th and 10th centuries BC.

Between 20,000 and 35,000 Danish Vikings chose to migrate to England between the 9th and 10th century. Originally, they were raiding parties, then more and more of them decided to stay, they liked England!

Why did the Vikings leave the fiords of Scandinavia and settle here?  Well, it appears that England offered …….

Have you ever heard of the Battle of Margate?

It was the naval battle off Margate, where the rewards of this victory were over 2 million gallons of wine! 

It was a mistake!   

You see on the 24th and 25th March 1387, the English fleet thought they were fighting the might of the French Navy.  Unfortunately, they weren’t, they were fighting …..

How the Austrian Army
wiped itself out!

At the Battle of Karánsebes in 1788, the Austrian army fought itself and killed over 10,000 of their own soldiers, before the opposition arrived!

It was all down to drink!

Their scouts found gypsies selling alcohol.  They bought the lot! They started drinking!  Then other soldiers wanted to join in, a fight broke out, shots rang out, someone said the Turks had arrived, which, of course, they hadn’t. And then …….

Why the Triple Entente failed to stop WWI

At the beginning of the 20th century the major nations of Europe formed two grand alliances, in which they pledged to support each other in the event of one of them being attacked.

One between Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy, called the Triple Alliance, and the other the Triple Entente between France, Russia and England.

I don’t think that when they formed these alliances, they felt ……

Why did William the Conqueror
die in Rouen?

On September 7th 1087, William the Conqueror died in Rouen, but why Rouen?  Why was he in Rouen, and why wasn’t he buried in England?  He was in France to recover three towns that Phillip, the King of France, had taken. He was attacking the French town of Mantes, when he collapsed, they all thought he was suffering from heat exhaustion. They were wrong, it ……

The Pyrrhic War

The Pyrrhic Wars led to the term “Pyrrhic victory“, which were fought between Pyrrhus, the King of Epirus, and the Rome Empire. It was called “The Pyrrhic War”.

In the war Pyrrhus scored several victories against the Roman legions, unfortunately, while he achieved these victories, he suffered colossal losses.

In fact, after one of his battles he was heard to say, “If we are victorious ……..

Do you know
Jemima Nicholas?

Jemima Nicholas was the heroine of The Battle of Fishguard, which appears to have been the “last invasion of mainland Britain”.

It was an invasion by Revolutionary France, that only lasted three days, 22nd to 24th February 1797.  Basically, 1,400 troops landed at Fishguard.

This was Jemima Nicholas moment. She tricked the French into surrendering.  She decided ………

The Battle of Gettysburg

One interestng thing about this battle is that even though the battle was fought in and around the town only one citizen of Gettysburg was killed, Jennie Wade.

Unfortunatlry, she was the lady had who had spent the first two days of the battle baking bread for the Unionist soldiers!

She was ……..

Boudica – A woman scorned!

Boudica was the wife of King Prasutagus, ruler of the Celtic tribe Iceni, who agreed with the Romans that on his death half his lands would go to his wife and daughters, and the other half to the Romans.

They didn’t honour it.  Instead, her two daughters were violated, and Boudica publicly beaten by Roman soldiers.

Boudica didn’t like this. It made her mad, so …….

In the middle of a war the opposing sides climb out of their trenches and play football!

World War I began in August 1914. On the Western Front it quickly reached a stalemate. Young soldiers from both Britain and Germany huddled in freezing, muddy trenches, shells and bullets exploding around them, caught in one of the most futile and bloody conflicts of the 20th century.

And yet on Christmas Eve 1914 the guns fell silent. For one brief, magical moment …….

The Unkown Battle of Gravelines
in 1558

The Battle of Gravelines, that took place on July 29th 1558 and ended the Spanish Armada. The Spanish fleet were moored outside Gravelines, a town on the French coast by Dunkirk, waiting for the Duke of Palma, who wasn’t there!  They were then sitting ducks all moored together just outside the coastal town of Gravelines

The English grasped the opportunity.

The weather was bad, and the Spanish …….

Sweden hasn’t been in
a war since 1818!

Did you know that Sweden hasn’t been in a war since1818.    In 1808, the Swedish King, Gustav III, abdicated in favour, King Karl XIII, unfortunately he had no descendants!  They named a Danish prince as his heir, who awkwardly died!  Sweden needed another heir!

Now something weird happened.  A member of the Swedish Parliament then proposed Jean Bernadotte, one of Napoleon’s Marshalls.  Now this is the ………

How old is the shield wall
the police use today?

At demonstrations the police build a shield wall to defend themselves, then when checking the History Portal’s musical 1066 – The Battle of Hastings I realised that the shield wall has been a policy used by armies for hundreds of years.

Harold used it twice, at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, where it worked, then in the Battle of Hastings.  While the wall was in place, he was unbeatable, then …..

Battle of Beverhoutsveld
officially the first recored
drunken battle!

It became famous because the Ghent army beat a drunken one from Bruges. It must have happened before, but it is the first time an army admitted they were all drunk! Interestingly it should have gone down as the first time The Organ Gun had been used in battle, but that’s doesn’t sound so fun.

To explain, in Belgium on 3 May 1382, on a field between Bruges and Ghent ……….

The Combat of the Thirty.
Yes, only 30 soldiers
on each side!

The Combat of the Thirty took place in France on 26th March 1351, during the Breton War of Succession. It was watched by a crowd eating refreshments, while the combatants even took a half time break!

The war had reached an impasse, when Jean …..

The Mise of Lewis

This was another fight between the King and his Barons. Henry III was in a power struggle with his Barons, led by Simon de Montford. 

They didn’t like the foreign influence in court, more importantly, the way he was attempting to tax them. 

To keep the peace in 1258 the King accepted, The Provisions of Oxford, creating Great Council to govern the country.

It didn’t work, it led …….

The British Tommy
and his cup of Tea!

This is a silly question, but where do you get a cup of tea when you are fighting a war?

It is so important to the British way of life, that it was decreed that every British soldier deserves his cup of tea.  

The problem when fighting a war and the bullets are flying around, is where do you stop for a cup of tea?  This led to …….

A naval battle in the middle of Africa!

Sometimes in war it is the logistics of getting a fighting force to the action, that wins it. Like the WW1 Battle of Lake Tanganyika. Lake Tanganyika, a strategically important lake in the middle of Africa, was dominated by the German navy, the British needed to control it.

The British had no ships on the lake while the Germans did!  What could the British do? They ……

Will we ever learn
from Afghanistan?

History keeps repeating itself, if we understood the mistakes of history, perhaps we wouldn’t keep making them.  I know, it’s some hope!

There are so many examples in history, the most expensive has been Britain’s  20-year involvement in Afghanistan.  It cost us £22.7 billion!

I have to ask, have any politicians and civil servants, ever read history? If they had would know that …….

Unsinkable Sam

Sam a black and white patched cat, supposedly owned by a crewman of the German battleship Bismarck.

When it was sunk Sam, the cat, was discovered floating on a piece of wood, by the crew of the HMS Cossack, which part of the attacking flotilla.  They took him aboard and they gave him the name, Oscar!

You may ask, why? 

Well, ……….

Would you date Khutulun,
a descendant of Genghis Khan?

Khutulun, descended from Genghis Khan, was a Mongol noblewoman, wrestler, feared warrior, and the most famous daughter of Kaidu, a cousin of Kublai Khan.  Her physical strength and skill in archery, horseback riding, and warfare made her his ideal partner in war.  Further, any man who wanted to marry her had to beat her in a wrestling match, while wagering some of his horses. Nobody defeated her, until ……

When was the air
first used in war?

In the 3rd century BC Chinese Lanterns are believed to have been used in Ancient China as military communication stations. Then in 1794 Napoleon founded the “Compagnie d’aérostiers” to use balloons for reconnaissance.  But they couldn’t fly in bad weather, fog, high winds, and they were large easy targets, so he disbanded them. They were next used in The Siege of Venice in 1849 but then again …

End of the Aztecs

The Aztec Civilization was brought to an end by the Spanish. It was left basically untouched until in 1519 Cortés landed in Yucatán then went to Campeche, where he negotiated a peace.   Initially, Cortes created Veracruz, as a city on the Mexican coast, from where he marched into Mexico. There, thanks to the instability of the Aztec empire, he was able to play the different native peoples off …….

Did you know of the Night Witches?

“The Night Witches” is the name given by German soldiers to Russian female pilots during World War II.  They flew at night their wooden biplanes toward their target.  Then, as they got close to their target, they switched their engines to idle mode, glided over their target and released their bombs. 

The Russian Military machine, well, the men saw women as inferior, so they made certain that …………

Who really won
the Battle of Britain?

Of course, the fighter pilots.  They couldn’t have won without an awful lot of support.  At the beginning of the Battle of Britain we were horribly out numbered.  With the odds staked against us how did we do it?  It was a whole country effort, the young, arrogant pilots and fearless soldiers at the front would have achieved nothing without ……………

The Calcutta Light horse
and Operation Creek

Let me tell you of Operation Creek. The Calcutta Light Horse was formed in 1872 but by 1943 it had become a drinking club for the older officers. India was part of our Empire, but the port, Goa, was in the Portuguese Empire!  There were three German merchant ships sitting in the Port of Goa and this is where the Calcutta Ligh Horse saw action.  They ……

Singapore, another failure
we need to learn.

Singapore, in 1942 was British and the Japanese Army was slowly moving down the Malaysian Peninsula.  Singapore was at the bottom, it was inevitable that would be attacked.   Lieutenant-General Arthur Percival was in command, he lacked experience and was badly under resourced. Unfortunately, General Percival made a major error, he thought the Japanese wouldn’t be able to approach Singapore through the jungle.  Then on  ………