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  • Mussolini’s Barber August 7, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Mussolini's Barber

    Mussolini’s Barber is a bizarrist’s wet dream, fifty well-written ‘weird’ stories as told by Graeme Donald ranging from the Jacobite rebellion of 1745 to Vietnam, with a heavy bias towards the Second World War. Long time readers of this blog will recognize many of the tales collected including the twice atom-bombed Yamaguchi, Mussolini’s Irish assassin, […]

    Stalin, Molotov and the Finns August 6, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Stalin, Molotov and the Finns

    A brief post to celebrate a WIBT (wish I’d been there) moment from the margins of the Second World War. November 1939 and western Europe has plunged into internecine conflict. However, the non-combatant Soviet Union is enjoying itself. Indeed, it has decided to use this precious period to put the record straight with some of […]

    Death Diaries and Plane Doors August 4, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Death Diaries and Plane Doors

    A diary today from the door of an American transport plane: crazy, yes, but bear with Beach. Its contents act like smelling salts. The door in question was off an C-47 nick-named, for reasons that will soon become apparent, the Flying Dutchman. The FD came down  10 November 1942 in jungle over New Guinea, yet […]

    Last Human Sacrifice in Europe? August 2, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Last Human Sacrifice in Europe?

    Beachcombing has often set a Guinness-Book-of-Records-style competition for the last cavalry charge, the last head hunters or the last execution by blade in the west. And recently an email from the Sword and the Beast got him thinking about the last human sacrifice. SandB who has travelled extensively in eastern parts writes: ‘I take the […]

    András Toma: The Forgotten Prisoner July 28, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    András Toma: The Forgotten Prisoner

    The Second World War was a time of almost universal suffering. But, at least, when Hitler popped a bullet into his head and the Japanese Emperor retired his divinity it all ended? Well, for most of humanity yes. But there were those unlucky souls who ended up far from home with no hope of a […]

    Last European Headhunters July 27, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Last European Headhunters

    Beachcombing has been trying to keep up with decapitation this summer by looking at late examples of head-hunting. Go back to the Celts, the Germanic tribes and even the Romans and there are several striking examples of head-hunting in Europe well into historic times. Then, of course, if you cross the Atlantic there is scalping: […]

    Fidel Castro is a Jesuit Spy! [sic] July 26, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Fidel Castro is a Jesuit Spy! [sic]

    Beachcombing often speaks of his rusty filing cabinets in which the treasures of a couple of decades of bizarre research have been placed. However, there are also regrets. Sometimes  Beach realizes that he has missed out on two decades harvesting through lack of foresight. An example of this that causes him particular pain is what […]

    Leonardo’s Dream and the Kite July 24, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Leonardo's Dream and the Kite

    Another case study from the historic dream series. This time the only dream to be recorded from Leonardo da Vinci’s snoozes. The record appears in  a notebook dating to c. 1504 replete with sketches and considerations of flight: This writing in such a distinct manner about the kite seems to be my destiny, because in […]

    Lost in Shangri-La July 20, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary

    In May 1945 an American flight over central New Guinea crashed and killed all but three of the twenty four servicemen on board. The three survivors – two men and a woman – found themselves in the midst of a dense jungle miles from home. They managed to parley with the local tribespeople – who […]

    The Emu War of 1932 July 18, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Emu War of 1932

    In the aftermath of the First World War different countries wrestled with the problem of how to reintegrate their veterans into society. In Britain houses were built ‘fit for heroes’, in Italy soldiers coming home were invited to beat up socialists and in Australia veterans from that country  were given land to farm. These Australian […]

    William Corliss RIP July 16, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    William Corliss RIP

    An email from Moonman brings the sad news that William Corliss passed away 8 July, a month and a half shy of his eighty-fifth year. Corliss, for those who don’t know, was the world’s greatest living anomalist. From 1974 to his death he collected curiosities culled from science magazines and journals. He then took these […]

    Impossible Escape from Calais July 14, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Impossible Escape from Calais

    In May 1940 the British army achieved many feats of arms and endurance despite the Wehrmacht‘s overwhelming superiority in northern France. And perhaps none of these feats was equal in pathos, drama and sheer futility to the battle for Calais. Here, while the British Expedition Force was being hurriedly evacuated across the Channel to England, […]

    Immortal Meals 5#: Mannerheim and the Cigar July 12, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Immortal Meals 5#: Mannerheim and the Cigar

    Halcyon hours this birthday evening with the flash of kingfisher wings: excellent presents, visits from friends and, best of all, the food… Strict health diet suspended for one glorious twelve-hour period. Beach has just finished a litre and a half of coca cola: if God exists then he tastes like cane sugar. In tribute to […]

    Strange Speeches July 11, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Strange Speeches

    Beachcombing got an email last night from inspired speeches, a new website [now defunct!] dedicated to gathering, well, inspired speeches. His correspondent asked for suggestions for notable discourses from the past. And Beachcombing made the terrible mistake of opening said email at midnight. The result? Beach did not sleep until dawn, tossing and turning, as […]

    The Nanjing Belt July 9, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary
    The Nanjing Belt

    Beachcombing always comes to China with a certain trepidation. After all, he doesn’t have much Mandarin (i.e. absolutely zilch), he has an embarrassingly modest knowledge of Chinese historiography and yet he must admit to having nothing but fascination for the exotic flowers that grow in the swamps of the Chinese past – recent oriental posts […]

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