jump to navigation

The Spy Who Loved Me? Semen and Espionage April 13, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
The Spy Who Loved Me? Semen and Espionage

By WW2 Britain had the best spy and espionage service in the world: one that helped end the war in 1945 rather than 1946 or 1947. However, in WW1 it was still amateur hour. MI6 was just five years old when the guns of August thundered and there was a great deal of improvisation by […]

A Jewish Hitler? April 7, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
A Jewish Hitler?

One of the most interesting ‘urban legends’ about Hitler is that the fuhrer was himself part Jewish: a notion perhaps helped along by his particularly unaryan features. It would, as a matter of fact, be truer to say that Hitler may have had Jewish ancestry. The ambiguity comes about not from Hitler’s maternal side but […]

A Year-Long Dance in the Eleventh Century? April 5, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
A Year-Long Dance in the Eleventh Century?

A busy day here but really this strange twelfth century text (about an eleventh century event) needs little in the way of explanation. Wonder should be enough. William of Malmesbury, who quotes this account, apparently has a witness to hand. Note that Ethelbert sounds an Anglo-Saxon name but it is presumably an Anglified version of […]

Declaring War in WW2: National Styles March 23, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Declaring War in WW2: National Styles

The characters of countries are reflected in their cuisines, their clothes, and their soap operas, so why not in their declarations of war? Thought it might be fun to see whether this notion stands up and so this morning ran through every WW2 declaration of war that I could find from 1 September 1939 through […]

A Letter Between Enemies, 1915 March 11, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
A Letter Between Enemies, 1915

This letter came in the spring of 1915 to the Michon family house in France. It arrived from a Naples address, but it had come ultimately from Berlin: direct letters from Berlin to France where, of course, out of the question by this date. The writer was one Charlotte von Dassel. Very dear Madame, In […]

The Most Exciting School Trip in History: 21 June 1919 February 19, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
The Most Exciting School Trip in History: 21 June 1919

School trips are often fairly maudlin affairs: go to a local zoo, don’t pet the lions; walk through a city park, buddy up as you pass the homeless people; polish the sun-washed floors of the local museum with fifty infant feet… But one school trip that any of us would have wanted to be on […]

Interview: Invasion Scares (Harry Wood) February 15, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Interview: Invasion Scares (Harry Wood)

I am very happy today to be able to invite Harry Wood of the University of Liverpool, historian and blogger, to talk about his speciality, British invasion scares, something we looked at last month. Harry, thanks so much for joining us for this brief discussion. You run a very enjoyable blog, Island Mentalities, and you […]

Starting the First World War Early: The Three Virgins February 8, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Starting the First World War Early: The Three Virgins

Two years ago Strange History ran a post on the German who accidentally started WW2 five days too early by invading Poland with something resembling a Third Reich version of the A-Team. However, I’ve recently come across a story about the German who accidentally started WW1 a day early. The German in question was one […]

Miraculous Survival with Parachute January 7, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Miraculous Survival with Parachute

***in his long tradition of blogging incompetence Beach accidentally put up two posts yesterday including, briefly, an incomplete post on folklore and the Nessie legend. That will come in the next month! Apologies!*** A late supplement to the post on those who survived jumps from planes without a parachute. This is the most remarkable instance […]

German Invasion Force in London, 1909! January 2, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
German Invasion Force in London, 1909!

All the European nations suffered bouts of craziness leading up to the First World War: one of the reasons that so many men in jackets started throwing straw hats at each other in August 1914… However, in many ways the most endearing and incredible was the conviction in Britain that Germany was planning an invasion […]

The Inevitability of the First World War December 26, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
The Inevitability of the First World War

And so it begins… 2 August 1914 German troops begin to pour into Belgium and Luxembourg. French troops prepare their border defences. Serbian irregulars are marching towards battle. Austria-Hungary is preparing itself for the inevitable Russian attack. Britain is wringing its hands and calling up its naval reserves. The most horrific war in human experience […]

The Gannet Club: Parachuteless in WW2 December 14, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
The Gannet Club: Parachuteless in WW2

Jumping out of a plane without a parachute is never a good idea. But it is striking that some individuals walk away, or more likely are carried away, with a few token broken bones and a story to dine out on for the rest of their lives. Most modern examples are of parachutists who have […]

Jokes from WW1 November 22, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Jokes from WW1

A recent post included jokes of the Second World War and jokes about the Second World War. Here is a sister post on jokes from the First World War. These are trickier to track down but some are still fun and deserve respect and a reading. Others gratefully received: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com Beach […]

Dropping Things from Planes in WW1 November 7, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Dropping Things from Planes in WW1

With insouciance and innocence man took to the air and then in the First World War began to fight in the air. The pilots were suicidally brave and also almost childlike in their duels. Along with the machine guns there were jokes and jests with friends and enemies alike. In this short post Beach wanted […]

Jokes From World War 2 October 28, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Jokes From World War 2

Unlike our previous post on jokes about the World Wars here are a series of jokes from world war two. Beach can’t guarantee that every single one came from the the period between Sept 1939 and the summer of 1945, but they have a contemporary feel. Here are his favourites. Note a factory worker, Marianne […]

Page 1 of 912345...Last »