jump to navigation
  • Why Couldn’t WW2 Italians Fight? July 8, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Why Couldn't WW2 Italians Fight?

    There are endless tales about twentieth-century Italian military ineptitude and more importantly the perception of the same. Churchill said to Ribbentrop of the Italians just before the last war: ‘We had them last time, it is only fair you take them this time.’ In a meeting between British and German WW1 veterans in 1937 or […]

    Landing on the Wrong Carrier July 3, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Landing on the Wrong Carrier

    This is the most bizarre aircraft carrier story of them all. It involves suitably enough a Japanese and an American aircraft carrier. May 7 1942 American and Japanese forces are fighting in the Coral Sea. Both American and Japanese planes have been flying off the flat-tops, hoping to hunt down the enemy’s ships. It was […]

    Image: Glowworm Prepares to Ram June 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Glowworm Prepares to Ram

    The chance event that led to this extraordinary WW2 picture was a sailor, an ableseaman Ricky, being washed overboard in heavy seas from his ship HMS Glowworm. Glowworm under its captain Gerard Roope had been, 5 April 1940, one of four destroyer escorts of HMS Renown rallying out from Scapa Flow to prevent Hitler’s invasion […]

    Counter Factual: Mussolini Doesn’t Roll the Dice June 22, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Counter Factual: Mussolini Doesn't Roll the Dice

    Hitler tried to persuade Italy to join Germany in 1939. He failed but German arms did their own devilish work in Poland then in France. By late May 1940, when it was clear that France and Britain were on the edge of defeat, Mussolini made increasingly belligerent sounds. It was then Hitler who held the […]

    Enemy Gives Medal for Ship Sinking June 17, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Enemy Gives Medal for Ship Sinking

    There are very occasional instances of enemy officials reporting on the gallantry and heroism of opposite numbers. The Irish Captain Roope of the HMS Glowworm was, for example, given his Victoria cross in part because of the testimony of a German captain, Heye, whose ship had been rammed by Roope in 1940. However, there is […]

    Could Germany Have Successfully Invaded Britain, 1940? June 13, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Could Germany Have Successfully Invaded Britain, 1940?

    The greatest month in German history (militarily speaking) began 10 May 1940 with the attack in the west and ended 14 June when the Wehrmacht entered Paris. Yet that month was clouded by Britain’s survival. Hitler had two ways to pacify Britain: first, he could break Britain militarily (invasion); second, he could convince Britain to withdraw […]

    The Mysterious Erich von Richthofen May 18, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Mysterious Erich von Richthofen

    The King and Country debate has been described previously on this blog. It was a talk at Oxford Students’ Union 9 Feb 1933, which saw 275 to 153 students vote for the motion ‘that this House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country’. This surprisingly pacifist stance from a major British institution attracted […]

    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 […]

    Page 1 of 1112345...10...Last »