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  • Who Coined ‘World War’? February 16, 2018

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Who Coined 'World War'?

    ‘World war’ is a magnificent phrase. It alliterates, it promises a vast scale, and it doesn’t get lost in tiresome Latinate polysyllables. But where does the expression come from? The Longer Oxford Dictionary gives its earliest reference in English to 1848 and the People’s Journal.* Actually the phrase seems to have been used earlier in […]

    Man at Station Changes Course of War February 4, 2018

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Man at Station Changes Course of War

    Mid October 1941. A man with a mustache walks up and down besides a train, while snow falls. He is conscious, all too conscious that he is about to make a decision that will change the direction of the war, perhaps even its outcome: a true hinge moment. And the decision? Quite simply should he […]

    Obscene Mexican Japanese Generals January 9, 2018

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Obscene Mexican Japanese Generals

    Beach came across this list of Japanese generals that was allegedly published in a Mexican newspaper in 1941. It was republished in A. Jimenez, Picardía Mexicana in 1965. The joke is that the names are all clever and very obscene double entendres in Mexican Spanish. Beach does not understand them all, but if anyone else […]

    World War 2 Rumours January 5, 2018

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    World War 2 Rumours

    Beach is continuing to hunt down rumours, this time from the British press in the Second World War. Here are some global and some local, some silly and some worryingly credible. All were published with the implication being that they are not to be believed and yet were they so far off the mark? The […]

    Review: Grossman, Life and Fate November 25, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Grossman, Life and Fate

    Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate [1960] This blogger has been very reluctant to write posts on historical fiction for the simple fact that he cannot stand most representatives of the genre. But Life and Fate was started reluctantly during the recent flu wars, and has been great bedtime and pre-siesta reading ever since. Written in […]

    The End of German Bohemia, May 1945 August 25, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The End of German Bohemia, May 1945

    Thanks to Stephen D. for sending in this extraordinary video of the disintegration of German Bohemia in May 1945. Bohemia was a mixed Czech-German province and German speakers had lived there since perhaps as early as the year 1000. Bohemia became part of the Czech Republic after the First World War, and the ‘cause’ of […]

    Myths of Twentieth-Century History August 6, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Myths of Twentieth-Century History

    Seven twentieth century myths follow. Any other contributions or angry rebuttals, drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com Great War: A Disaster Waiting to Happen, 1914 The Great War was going to happen sooner or later because two countries, Germany and France, wanted it. However, the consensus that the Great War would have inevitably led to the ‘breaking […]

    Review: Hitler’s Forgotten Children December 5, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Hitler's Forgotten Children

    Lebensborn is a Nazi word to place side by side with such Teutonic charmers as Einsatzgruppen, Lebensraum and Endlösung. The Lebensborn or Life’s Fount was a scheme to breed a hundred million blond supermen and their hand maidens. It had various reflexes: sex between consenting Aryans was encouraged, against conventional Christian morality; Aryan women siring children […]

    Review: Postwar November 22, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Postwar

    Tony Judt is often touted as one of the great historians of the later twentieth century. Yet really his writings are, with one exception, not the stuff that world reputations are made on The Burden of Responsibility: Blum, Camus, Aron, and the French Twentieth Century or Socialism in Provence 1871–1914: A Study in the Origins […]

    Night Soldiers: the World of Alan Furst November 20, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Night Soldiers: the World of Alan Furst

    Europe from 1933-1945, from Hitler’s arrival in office to the moment that the moustached one ends his life with a pistol in the bunker. What a truly remarkably, ear-splittingly screwed up continent! We travel from De Valera’s theocratic Ireland dancing  hopelessly at the crossroads, to men, women and children being taken downstairs to be shot […]

    Herman Göring in Plymouth November 11, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Herman Göring in Plymouth

    In Plymouth, in the Second World War, a strange idea evolved, among the bombed out population: Plymouth, as an important port, was all too frequently visited by the Luftwaffe. The population came to believe that Herman Göring, the head of his Luftwaffe, personally took part in the attacks on the city. Plymouth folk even claimed […]

    Fat Boy Blusters October 23, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Fat Boy Blusters

    The US bombing of Hiroshima went off, in operational terms, flawlessly. The bombing of Nagasaki was a different matter. For one thing, Nagasaki was not even the target: Fat Man was supposed to have been dropped on nearby Kokura but smoke from a conventional raid obscured the bombing run. Everything that could go wrong on […]

    Death by Plane October 16, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Death by Plane

    Death by plane, the latest in the unusual execution series. Imagine, you are bundled, for a terrible crime, into a bomber bay and tied to a bomb. The bomb is, then, dropped, after a terrifying wait, from 10,000 feet on the enemy. Will you die by explosion or by falling? Some stories are so terrible that […]

    Napoleon and Hitler Coincidences October 14, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Napoleon and Hitler Coincidences

    Personally Beach has always found the ‘coincidences register’ the most irritating of all genres. Typically, an historically illiterate conspiracy freak, notices some interesting parallels between two different events or more usually individuals. He or she, then, sends out a communication pointing out the ‘striking’ parallels. Then, other readers note other parallels (occasionally making them up) […]

    SIM break the British October 12, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    SIM break the British

    Beach has sometimes in this place celebrated Italian achievements in the Second World War; small footnotes against the prevailing tide of Italian incompetence and mediocrity in that conflict. Perhaps the area where the Italians most frequently and effectively proved their mettle was in intelligence work. Britain’s SIS (MI6) felt that the Japanese Kempeitai were incompetent, […]

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