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  • Fighting Over a Tennis Court June 28, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Fighting Over a Tennis Court

    Battles have been fought in some odd places: in sewers, on iced lakes, in factories, across impossibly high mountains… But a battle on a tennis court is surely unique? Other strange examples: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com The scrap in question took place in April 1944 at the bungalow at Kohima and was one of […]

    Why Did the Axis Fight the US? June 7, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Why Did the Axis Fight the US?

    One of the neatest sentences about the Second World War is that the Allies won their victory because of ‘Soviet blood, British time and American resources’. This is an approximation, of course, to truth but a pretty effective one. The Soviets lost perhaps 26 million, enough dead to damn the river of German invasion. The […]

    Rommel in the Shenandoah?! May 27, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Rommel in the Shenandoah?!

    Every so often a reader writes in with a great story told brilliantly where I just cut and paste. Cue the following tale from Michael Dunn. I’ve put Michael comments/elaboration in italics (tweaking typos etc) and just added a few thoughts of my own in normal text. This story involves a prominent figure in a […]

    Killing After Surrender in WW2: Parachutes and Submarines May 5, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Killing After Surrender in WW2: Parachutes and Submarines

    The laws of war dictate that if someone puts up their hands then they are prisoners and must be treated as such. However, despite the traditions of ages and now the strictures of various conventions mercy is ignored at times even by civilised armies. Two striking examples from the Second World War where the opposition […]

    Neo-Pagan Partisans May 2, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Neo-Pagan Partisans

    Ask a well-read person today about neo-paganism and many will identify it as something that came out of flower power in the late 1960s. However, this is not, for the most part, true. Neo-pagans were actually around before the Great War and in some incarnations neo-paganism can be traced back to late nineteenth-century eccentrics, such […]

    Britain and Pearl Harbor April 18, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Britain and Pearl Harbor

    The whole question of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor has been mired for years in conspiracy theories. There are, naturally, huge problems with said conspiracy theories not least the motive of the American leadership in allowing the destruction of an important part of their Pacific Fleet; it is not as if Japan was being […]

    Gordon Selby: The Luckiest Survivor of WW2? April 2, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Gordon Selby: The Luckiest Survivor of WW2?

    Long, long ago I did an article on the unluckiest individuals in history. But spurred on by the Gannet Club I’ve started to think in terms of the luckiest and I’ve come across an absolute winner, Gordon Selby, a much decorated son of a Wiltshire farrier. GS (obit 2007) was twenty when the Second World […]

    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 […]

    The Stalags: Israeli Holocaust Erotica March 15, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Stalags: Israeli Holocaust Erotica

    Literature has some pretty bizarre dust balls under the bed – roadkill cookbooks, Marxist-Leninist poetry… – but there are few things that compete with the so-called ‘stalags’, Israeli erotica based around Nazi murder camps. In the late 1960s Israel was experiencing holocaust delerium: sweating out the killing of six million Jewish Europeans just two decades […]

    Molotov, Poetic Justice and Outer Mongolia March 13, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Molotov, Poetic Justice and Outer Mongolia

    There is always some fun seeing people placed in hells of their own making, hells that they amply deserve. Of course, there is the whole ‘live by the sword, die by the sword’ thing: Samuel K. Doe, president of Liberia being tortured to death on celluloid; Gaddafi meeting his end in a culvert (‘God forbids […]

    Jasper Maskelyne and Magic Machine Guns in WW2 March 5, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Jasper Maskelyne and Magic Machine Guns in WW2

    ***Dedicated to Moon Man who put me onto Jasper Maskelyne*** Jasper Maskelyne is a fascinating character from the ranks of fighting WW2 Britons. A stage magician, he found himself in the Royal Engineers at the start of the War and gave himself over to camouflage work. His book, Magic Top Secret (1949), which I’m itching […]

    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 […]

    Review: Party in the Blitz December 30, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Party in the Blitz

    Elias Canetti was a Bulgarian-Swiss-British writer, who wrote autobiography, a particularly twisted form of central European sociology and who penned one important modernist novel, translated into English as Auto-da-fé. He won a Nobel Prize in 1981, which is, of course, no guarantee of quality: Dario Fo and the EU did, Borges and Calvino didn’t. But […]

    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 […]

    Death’s Fluttering Wings: Photos November 9, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Death's Fluttering Wings: Photos

    A bit of a melancholy day and so Strange History offers a post on death: a series of pictures of people about to die. The only condition is that the photographs must not be excessively upsetting or morbid. This means that most of the people here, in fact, do not know that they are about […]

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