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  • 24 August 1940: The Night That Hitler Lost The War August 24, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    24 August 1940: The Night That Hitler Lost The War

                            The answer to the question of when the Third Reich doomed itself to extinction depends naturally on whom you ask. Some will tell you Germany’s failure to secure the Mediterranean in 1942 was crucial. Others will point to the invasion of the Soviet Union […]

    Women Drivers in Stalingrad August 22, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Women Drivers in Stalingrad

                                Beachcombing has already offered readers a series of his WIBT (‘wish I’d been there’) moments and couldn’t resist the following vignette that though unimportant in intention and outcome catches something of the Soviet Union in its worst years. Stalingrad in late […]

    Biggles Meets the Sandman August 19, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Biggles Meets the Sandman

                        Beachcombing offers a post today on an unlikely WIBT meeting between two writers: T.E. Lawrence and W. E. Johns. Lawrence should need no introduction. He was a British lieutenant colonel who helped foment the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire (1916-1918). And with a self-publicising genius and an […]

    The Soccer War of 1969 August 15, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Soccer War of 1969

    Beachcombing, po-faced, has to note that most modern historians do not like to refer to the Soccer War of 1969 (La guerra del fútbol) as, well, ‘the Soccer War’. ‘The Hundred Hours War’ or better still ‘the Salvador–Honduras War’ is preferred with a lot of attendant Marxist bilge about poor Salvadoran peasants engaged in class conflict in Honduras. […]

    Image: First light August 13, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: First light

    Beachcombing has recently being putting together a series of photographs for his WIBT (‘Wish I’d been there’) series. He decided that he would open this series with an extraordinary shot from the Battle of Britain that teases him out of thought. Four Spitfires are taking off in the morning from an airfield: the early light and the […]

    A Hitlerian Invisible Library August 9, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A Hitlerian Invisible Library

                Many documents went missing as the Third Reich came crashing down in flames in 1945, documents that would be of the greatest interest to historians today. What, for example, would a modern museum pay for Hitler’s letters to Eva Braun or his letters, for that matter, to Himmler. Millions […]

    Dowsing for Machine Guns August 6, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Dowsing for Machine Guns

              The desperate straits to which Britain was reduced in the first year of the Second World War and Churchill’s maverick character thereafter, meant that many ideas were considered in the British military establishment, c. 1940-43, that would not normally have been whispered at an old women’s séance. Beachcombing recalls the […]

    The Battle of the Somme in London August 4, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Battle of the Somme in London

                      Britain historically – before that dread day in 1973 when the United Kingdom signed the Treaty of Rome – prided itself on its splendid isolation. But simple geography meant that Britain was far closer to Continental Europe than Japan, say, was to Asia. And no amount of […]

    False Armistice: the Cable that Lied to a Nation July 28, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    False Armistice: the Cable that Lied to a Nation

              A story of misplaced joy with, Beachcombing promises, no elephants. In a world of instant communication it is all too easy to forget how long it once took to get a message from one side of the world to another. Think of the months needed for a seventeenth-century Spanish governor in […]

    An Elephant Invades Italy in 1936 July 24, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary
    An Elephant Invades Italy in 1936

                                    Night four of Beachcombing’s Elephant week extravaganza is taken up by Richard Halliburton’s attempt to cross the Alps in 1936 on the back of an African elephant. Halliburton, a fun kind of fellow, managed to hire (and insure!) an […]

    A Head Turn that Ruined the Twentieth Century July 14, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A Head Turn that Ruined the Twentieth Century

                        If you want to rewrite the history of Western Europe in the 1920s then you could do a lot worse than get rid of ‘the Roman Lawmaker’, Benito Mussolini. Just imagine – as Beachcombing has often done – the overweight dictator dropping dead in 1926, ‘Year […]

    Death by Celluloid July 10, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Death by Celluloid

                        When Beachcombing thinks of dying for your art wannabe poets from the 1890s come to mind, starving or being tiresomely consumptive in garrets in Paris or Berlin or Rome. However, Beachcombing does have a couple of examples in his files of men and women dying […]

    Review: The Sledge Patrol July 6, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: The Sledge Patrol

                                                  Beachcombing has been delighted at the volume of correspondence for his story about Kurt the last combatant of the third Reich. Kurt though was only one of several score warriors in ‘the […]

    Did Hitler and Lenin Play Chess Together in 1909? July 5, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Did Hitler and Lenin Play Chess Together in 1909?

    Chess is sometimes called the ‘Game of Kings’. In modern times, at least, it would be truer though to call it the ‘Game of Dictators’. Such unsavoury individuals as Lenin, Napoleon, Fidel Castro, Colonel Gadaffi and the appalling Che Guevara – coming soon to a dress or a tee-shirt near you – all enjoyed the […]

    Oft hung John Lee and an urban legend June 30, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Oft hung John Lee and an urban legend

                        Beachcombing has recently had a bit of a thing about human sacrifice and capital punishment. But it is. he promises, a passing phase and has now reached its climax with a reading of Mike Holgate and Ian David Waugh’s superb The Man They Could Not Hang: The True Story of […]

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