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  • Gaelic-Speaking Russians in 1914 September 9, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Gaelic-Speaking Russians in 1914

    One of the most interesting myths to come out of First World War Britain was the tall tale of the Russian soldiers with ‘snow on their boots’. The story, which emerged as the war began in Aug and Sep 1914, was that thousands of Russian soldiers had been rushed to the UK. They were there […]

    Foch and the Twenty Year Armistice: A Myth? July 11, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Foch and the Twenty Year Armistice: A Myth?

    It is one of the most famous sentences of the twentieth century. Marshal Foch on being told of the final conditions of the Paris Peace Conference stated: ‘This is not a peace treaty, it is an armistice for twenty years’ (Ce n’est pas une paix, c’est un armistice de vingt ans). The Oxford Dictionary of […]

    Weird Wars: Lost Maps, Lost Plans June 29, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Weird Wars: Lost Maps, Lost Plans

    You’ve all had that awful sinking feeling. You’ve prepared your masterful attack with a vast army across the entire front and then some fool goes and misplaces the map: and next thing you know the scrap of paper ends up in the hands of your opposite number, in the enemy  high command. There must be […]

    Did the Russians Off Archduke Ferdinand?! January 13, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Did the Russians Off Archduke Ferdinand?!

    There follows that rarest of things. A credible conspiracy theory. Our two heroes are Dragutin Dimitrijević (aka Apis, obit 1917) Chief of Serb Military Intelligence and Viktor Artamonov (obit 1942), a Russian military liaison officer in Serbia. Apis is remembered by history as the organizer of Archduke Ferdinand’s assassination and the organizer of the Black […]

    Improving the Twentieth Century November 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Improving the Twentieth Century

    The IEA, one of Britain’s most serious think tanks, has recently published a list, a very stimulating list, of the thirteen great economic mistakes in British economic policy in the last century. All this got Beach thinking about the great mistakes in public policy generally since 1900. Here is a very limited list of points […]

    Gentlemanly Soldiers October 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Gentlemanly Soldiers

    There are lots of different types of soldiers but today Beach wants to put aside the cowards, the sadists, the pragmatists, the survivors and concentrate on perhaps one of the few attractive categories: the gentleman soldier. The cult of the gentleman soldier began amongst the European aristocracy in the middle ages, its values were embodied […]

    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 […]

    Teetotallers Unlucky at Sea March 27, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Teetotallers Unlucky at Sea

    In 1914, a month into the First World War, a British ship the Fisgard II was lost in a gale (not through enemy action) in the English Channel. Sixteen of the sixty four abroad were drowned. There followed an inquest and inquiries and, as sometimes happens, the crew began to make sense of things in […]

    Tears and Bows: WW1 Ambassadors and Declarations of War March 4, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Tears and Bows: WW1 Ambassadors and Declarations of War

    A recent post looked at the tensions created by ambassadors declaring war in WW2. Today, instead, some descriptions of declarations of war from World War 1. The initial impression is that there was more formality and more old world charm. Some of the ambassadors may have believed they would be back in their host capitals by […]

    Immortal Meals #20: The Breakfast That Killed Seven Hundred February 12, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Immortal Meals #20: The Breakfast That Killed Seven Hundred

    Let us, first, introduce Fort Douaumont. The mightiest of the Verdun forts, Douaumont was captured by the Germans early in the battle for Verdun, 25 February 1915, just four days after fighting had begun. The fort was taken (with hardly a shot being fired) because of unbelievable French carelessness in garrisoning the jewel in their Verdun […]

    The Eugenics of History? February 5, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Eugenics of History?

    Eugenics refers of course to the depressing strand of thinking that says that societies (for which read boffins with bow ties employed by the state) should be allowed to decide which of us can and cannot reproduce our genes. Eugenics was briefly fashionable in the 1920s and 1930s then the Nazis came along and, perhaps […]

    Seven German Mistakes that Lost the Great War January 10, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Seven German Mistakes that Lost the Great War

    Germany went to war in August 1914 to bloody Russia, put Britain back in its place and break France’s back. Looking at their war record, after a century, what is striking is just how close Germany came to achieving at least a relative victory. Yet Germany’s leadership was not up to the job: this is clearer […]

    The Man Who Lost Germany the Great War? December 9, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Man Who Lost Germany the Great War?

    A couple of indisputable, non-negotiable Great War facts. In early September 1914 the German army came smashing down on the French army at the Marne. In the decisive battle of the first part of the war, the French, with some assistance from the brave but plodding Brits, managed to hold the Germans. However, everyone on […]

    Great War Organ Gun November 28, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Great War Organ Gun

    The organ gun, also known as the ribadulequin, was one of those crude innovations in military technology that shifted humanity towards the ‘elegant’ killing of the machine gun arc. Organs were basically guns with many barrels and one trigger and were as liable to explode in the gunner’s face as to blast away the opposition. Beach recently […]

    Sunk Three Times in an Hour November 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Sunk Three Times in an Hour

    Beachcombing’s grandfather was sunk three times in the last World War. But the three times in question were spread out over seven years… Imagine, instead, being sunk three times in just under an hour, not only that, we are not talking about lonely frigates or minesweepers, these were three British battleships: HMS Cressy, Aboukir and […]

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