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  • 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 […]

    German Crusaders lost in Central Asia? June 29, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
    German Crusaders lost in Central Asia?

    Beachcombing often stretches himself pretty thin in covering the centuries and sometimes he just doesn’t have the languages to check up properly on a story. With these caveats he offers his readers the following tale that reads like a late Victorian or Edwardian boy’s own adventure. The text comes from Richard Halliburton’s Seven League Boots, […]

    Nazi Kurt captured in Arctic Circle in 1981 June 27, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Nazi Kurt captured in Arctic Circle in 1981

                        Beachcombing has long been fascinated by the last Japanese soldiers to surrender in the Second World War, several of whom crawled around the jungle islands of the Pacific for decades. Indeed, the very last, Nakamura, only came in from the cold in December 1974 after […]

    Totalitarian Trees June 22, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Totalitarian Trees

              Beachcombing learnt today, from his daily graze across the newspapers, that Colonel Ghadaffi of Libya has adopted the Italian village of Antrodoco near l’Aquila [Italian article]. For a moment Beachcombing felt lyrical about the eccentric Colonel and about how much MG has brought to the study of the bizarre – it almost makes the […]

    The Last Cavalry Charge in History? June 16, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Last Cavalry Charge in History?

                        It is a long ago Sunday and Beachcombing, aged ten, is playing with his plastic Napoleonic soldiers. In walks Beachcombing’s father with his dangerous pacifist tendencies and pointing to a group of charging cavalry observes: ‘They must have suffered terribly when their horses were shot […]

    Unluckiest in History June 12, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Unluckiest in History

                        Beachcombing has had one of those extraordinarily bad days where everything went wrong from birdsong onwards: broken computers, screaming infants, rude emails, income tax threats, temperamental car, vomiting wife (don’t ask)… In celebration of this he thought that he would muse on the unluckiest person in history: a […]

    Hitler’s Class-Mate June 10, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Hitler’s Class-Mate

            Beachcombing has five files on Hitler and will soon have to start on a sixth. The moustached one was, after all, a whirlpool in history dragging the strange, coincidental, bizarre and outrageous into his cursed depths. A favourite curiosity is examined in Kimberley Cornish’s  The Jew of Linz: Wittgenstein, Hitler and […]

    Longbow at Dunkirk June 4, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Longbow at Dunkirk

                        Donald Featherstone’s The Bowmen of England was written in 1968 and read by Beachcombing 7 long years ago. He is ashamed to say though – and this reflects badly on him rather than on the author – that the only thing he can remember is […]

    Oleg Penkovsky, Six Breaths and World Destruction May 31, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Oleg Penkovsky, Six Breaths and World Destruction

        Beachcombing has never quite known what to make of Oleg Penkovsky, the most important double agent run by MI6, indeed by any power in the Cold War. Was he self-seeking? A traitor? A hero? These are puerile questions: he was probably all three. But now for a curiosity that is more amenable to […]

    Tibetan soldiers in the Second World War May 31, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Tibetan soldiers in the Second World War

                        Beachcombing has long been intrigued by the following account published in Tribune in October 1944 in Orwell’s As I Please. We know that Greenlanders fought the Germans, that Brazilians attempted to take Monte Cassino… but Tibetans in the Wehrmacht? The mind boggles. Is it genuine or […]

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