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  • Nine Moments When the Axis Lost the War August 10, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Nine Moments When the Axis Lost the War

    The sequel to Beach’s seven reasons why Germany lost the Great War. 1) When Germany didn’t destroy the British Expeditionary Force: at the end of May 1940 about a third of a million British servicemen, the Empire’s entire European army was trapped in a small pocket on the northern French coast. Demoralised, with their equipment […]

    British and Irish Wild Men August 9, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    British and Irish Wild Men

    There follow nineteenth-century reports of wild men from Britain and Ireland: can anyone add to the list, drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com (fiction is good too) 1851: Co Limerick (Ireland), a rumour was doing the rounds that a wild man with no clothes lived in the wood there. He had been carrying off and killing […]

    Foundling Names August 8, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Foundling Names

    We recently offered a post on the names given to bastard children. Here is a related and far nicer post on the names given to foundlings, who seem to have been treated, perhaps strangely, with rather more respect by society. Today, if an anonymous individual turns up, he is, in the US, referred to as […]

    Victorian Urban Legend: the Pickpocket’s Diamond Ring August 7, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legend: the Pickpocket's Diamond Ring

    Beach has offered a series of Victorian and Edwardian urban legends in the last weeks, some of which he has his doubts about. This one though is a slam dunk of the best kind. First, it is the clear ancestor of the stories where an honest person accidentally steals something from a stranger: though in Beach’s […]

    Return to Trenches at Death August 6, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Return to Trenches at Death

    There follows a very fine ghost story from the British press. It would be fascinating to track down the sources here: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com At the beginning of the war a famous regiment left England for France. The colonel that regiment was a man beloved of all his men, idolised by his young […]

    Victorian Urban Legends: Snuff Poisoning? July 14, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legends: Snuff Poisoning?

    No not the cinematic kind of snuff! This story appeared in 1870 and enjoyed wide circulation in all British newspapers. A Wolverhampton contemporary records what seems to be a new trick upon railway travellers. The other day, a passenger from Wolverhampton to Bilston, after having been drawn into conversation by couple of respectable looking fellow-travellers, […]

    Ghost Cars July 13, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Ghost Cars

    There is lots of interesting burbling about technology and ghosts. How long does it need for a new technology to become hauntable? When will the first call centres or internet hubs get their poltergeists? To us today that wonderful Dickens story ‘The Signal Man’ is a straightforward ghost tale. But part of its daring back in […]

    Horse God in Early Modern Cornwall! June 24, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Horse God in Early Modern Cornwall!

    In 1595 a Spanish raid on Cornwall in South-western England took place under Captain Carlos de Amezola. Amezola landed his men at Mount’s Bay and burnt several ships, churches and hundreds of houses in Penzance, Newlyn, Paul and Mousehole, some of the most westerly English settlements. This small act of warfare was, of course, absolutely […]

    Enemy Gives Medal for Ship Sinking June 17, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Enemy Gives Medal for Ship Sinking

    There are very occasional instances of enemy officials reporting on the gallantry and heroism of opposite numbers. The Irish Captain Roope of the HMS Glowworm was, for example, given his Victoria cross in part because of the testimony of a German captain, Heye, whose ship had been rammed by Roope in 1940. However, there is […]

    Could Germany Have Successfully Invaded Britain, 1940? June 13, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Could Germany Have Successfully Invaded Britain, 1940?

    The greatest month in German history (militarily speaking) began 10 May 1940 with the attack in the west and ended 14 June when the Wehrmacht entered Paris. Yet that month was clouded by Britain’s survival. Hitler had two ways to pacify Britain: first, he could break Britain militarily (invasion); second, he could convince Britain to withdraw […]

    The Poisoned Bowl and the 5000 Letters May 29, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    The Poisoned Bowl and the 5000 Letters

    Beach has not offered up a rogue researcher for some time: the last was mummy maker, Bob Brier, a year ago. Rogue researchers, for the uninitiated are those men and women, with doctorates, who do things that others in their discipline might consider eccentric. To call someone a ‘rogue researchers’ is a sign of the […]

    The Mysterious Erich von Richthofen May 18, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Mysterious Erich von Richthofen

    The King and Country debate has been described previously on this blog. It was a talk at Oxford Students’ Union 9 Feb 1933, which saw 275 to 153 students vote for the motion ‘that this House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country’. This surprisingly pacifist stance from a major British institution attracted […]

    Downey’s Death: Killed by Imagination May 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Downey's Death: Killed by Imagination

    Beach stumbled across this story a couple of weeks ago and thought he’d put it up for the practical jokes tag. There was much interest in the nineteenth century about how the psychological impression of death could cause death. Somewhere Beach has read a French version of this (can anyone help: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT […]

    Wild Man Circus Fakery May 9, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Wild Man Circus Fakery

    The wild man was a staple of nineteenth-century circuses and penny shows. This personality was typically black, mostly undressed and the possessor of a cannibal’s grin. He (and it was invariably a male who took on the role) would stomp back and forth in his cage every so often lunging at some unwary child, allowing […]

    Execution by Cannon May 5, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Execution by Cannon

    Human beings have long showed remarkable ingenuity at getting rid of their fellow human beings, especially perhaps human beings that they do not like. Once the cannon was invented it was only a matter of time before someone tied a prisoner to the front and lit a fuse, blowing his body into a constellation of pain, the […]

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