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  • Espionage Commandments April 11, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Espionage Commandments

    Beach ran several years ago a series of spying commandments from the end of the Great War. He thought he would follow this up today with some espionage commandments from the Second World War. These come courtesy of Bernard James Barton or (aka ‘Killer’ Barton or John Barton), a twenty-four year-old British major who, in […]

    The Failure of Appeasement April 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Failure of Appeasement

    Appeasement is the policy of giving smiles, kisses and gifts to neighbours to prevent war. In some moments of history it has worked (Dane-geld and Roman bribery beyond the frontiers); in some periods it has failed. A conspicuous example of a failure is the attempt by Britain to stroke its European friends and enemies into […]

    Dreadful Homecoming, Italy 1944 March 23, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Dreadful Homecoming, Italy 1944

    Sometimes when you read descriptions from history, something snags on your imagination and you can’t get loose: in fact the wool on your mental pullover starts to unravel… Sometimes it is hard to explain why. But for what it is worth here is a scene from history that could have featured as a vignette in […]

    Smelling Germans March 20, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Smelling Germans

    This is a weird little story that has proved frustratingly difficult to pin down: not even the original reference. 12 June 1944 Churchill, Brook, and Smuts (far right) visited Montgomery’s forward position at Creully to see how the Normandy campaign was unwinding. This much can be attained from several sources not least the photograph above: […]

    The Lie of the Lie of Christian’s Yellow Star March 19, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Lie of the Lie of Christian's Yellow Star

    One of the most attractive stories to come out of the Second World is that of Christian X of Denmark and the yellow star. When told that Jewish Danes would have to wear said star the elderly king threatened to wear one himself. The King, adored by his people and a symbol of Danish nationhood, […]

    Preserving Foolish Enemies March 15, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Preserving Foolish Enemies

    A very speculative post. In war there may be something to be said, in strategic terms, let’s forget the tiresome debates around international law, for killing enemy leaders. Sometimes this is a simple decapitation strategy (American attempts to annihilate Sadam Hussein at the beginning of the Second Gulf War or earlier US targeted bombing on […]

    Churchill’s Daemon March 5, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Churchill’s Daemon

    Strange History has noted before the belief in daemons, individual spirit guides, a Mediterranean tradition that matures into the guardian angel with the assistance of Christianity. The most striking example is certainly that of Socrates who had regular conversations with his daemon. Then there is Joan of Arc and St Michael (or whoever)… Beach today […]

    Good Swastikas? The Hakaristi February 24, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Good Swastikas? The Hakaristi

    When is a swastika a good sign? The answer is, crudely, when it predates the Nazi party’s adoption of the crooked cross in 1920, for the swastika is one of the most ancient and one of the most widespread of human symbols. In many countries it remained an essentially religious symbol, locked into a pre-modern memory […]

    Count Teleki: The Politics of Suicide February 18, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Count Teleki: The Politics of Suicide

    The Hungarian Count Pál Teleki is a tragic Second World War figure, obit 1941 (that says it all). In the last year of his life tensions between Hungary and her neighbours were growing. Teleki was emotionally an Ally, an old fashioned conservative democrat, who would have been far more at home in Britain or France’s […]

    Scoundrels and Pisspants: WW2 Ambassadors and Declarations of War February 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Scoundrels and Pisspants: WW2 Ambassadors and Declarations of War

    Diplomats and ambassadors find themselves in a rather unusual situation. They are to represent their country, first and foremost, of course, but they are also to fraternize with their adopted country. This strange and strained sets of loyalties makes declarations of war particularly painful. The ambassador meets the foreign secretary with whom he has often […]

    The Peshev Insurgency February 9, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Peshev Insurgency

    Dimitar Peshev was a middle ranking interwar Bulgarian politician of conservative persuasion. He served briefly as Bulgarian minister of Justice in the mid 1930s, then returned to the back benches with an honorific position in parliament. He survived the Second World War and, miraculously, the communist purges that followed, though he spent a year in […]

    Forgot the Damn Suicide Pills! January 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Forgot the Damn Suicide Pills!

    Perhaps you need a British sense of humour, but this scene had Beach smiling more than potential death scenes normally do. It is D-Day and General Donovan (pictured) and Colonel David Bruce the narrator have to undertake a special mission in the French interior just off the D-Day beaches (they have been landed at Utah), […]

    Forgotten Kingdoms: The Republic of Montefiorino January 14, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Forgotten Kingdoms: The Republic of Montefiorino

    Another for the forgotten kingdom files, this time a particularly short lived example from Italy: the rulers of the Republic of Montefiorino managed about six weeks in 1944 before history and German flame-throwers intervened. First, some background. In the summer of 1943 Mussolini’s fascist government crumbled and Italy found itself occupied by angry Allies in […]

    For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow and WW2 December 18, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    For He's a Jolly Good Fellow and WW2

    A painful moment from 1939, at least for any Britons reading this post. Neville Chamberlain and his capable foreign minister, Lord Halifax, have travelled, 11 January, to Rome for a meeting of minds with Mussolini. In fact, Britain is just nine months away from a World War and a year and a half away from […]

    The Rights and Wrongs of Killing Mussolini December 11, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Rights and Wrongs of Killing Mussolini

    After Beach’s recent blog on Mussolini’s death several emails about not so much the circumstances as the justification for killing the Fascist leader. The official version of the story claims that the Allies wanted Mussolini for themselves but that the partisans and particularly the Communist partisans had decided to do away with Mussolini as a […]

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