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  • Destroying Cassino June 9, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Destroying Cassino

    There is a demolition expert in all of us. After all, who doesn’t enjoy seeing something large and complex being blasted to a million smithereens? Beachcombing, certainly, finds architectural snuff movies relaxing. In the hope then of soothing his readers – with the possible exception of medievalists whose blood will run icy cold – he […]

    Superman versus Hitler May 12, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Superman versus Hitler

    Oh those happy, innocent afternoons a few decades ago! Home from school /college Beachcombing would sit through the junk that British children’s television had to offer. He would quickly take in the news headlines on BBC 1 at 6.00 pm (cruise missiles, inflation, cricket defeats…) and then turn over at 6.02 pm to BBC 2 […]

    Saving and Murdering in the Holocaust May 10, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Saving and Murdering in the Holocaust

    Beachcombing noted in this place a month ago – death-dealer of Kovno – that an important new book on Germany’s wartime atrocities is coming out: Hitler’s Foreign Executioners: Europe’s Dirty Secret by Chris Hale. CH argues in this work that subject populations of the occupied territories often partook enthusiastically in the Final Solution or ‘Outdoor […]

    The Death Dealer of Kovno March 31, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Death Dealer of Kovno

    Call it the month of the massacres: Beachcombing in the past four weeks has gone knee deep in blood ‘that should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er’. Even he gets a little queasy thinking about it. There was Queen Victoria drinking blood; then killer ice-cream; followed up by a horrific […]

    Playing Solitaire in Hitler’s Bunker March 24, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Playing Solitaire in Hitler’s Bunker

      Crisis in the Beachcombing household tonight. Yesterday it was discovered that every member of the family save Beachcombing himself had been stricken with head lice. And so Beachcombing has spent most of the last six hours combing what look like wood ants from his darling wife’s and elder daughter’s fair locks. By way of […]

    Image: Cow Sheds and Massacres January 11, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Cow Sheds and Massacres

    Beachcombing has had the novel experience, in these days of premature babies, of watching lots of history documentaries. It is one of the few things that you can do while syringe feeding a fifteen-day-old tot and hoping that she will sleep. After years of staying away from television, he’s been treated to a lot of sub-standard stuff, but […]

    Image: St Paul’s Rides the Blitz December 9, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: St Paul's Rides the Blitz

    Beachcombing should start today with an apology. In his mission statement about his Image series he promised to put up only little known photographs and paintings. And yet here he is, six months on, offering the most famous of all British pictures from 1940, as if it were a scoop. Sorry. Beachcombing only hopes the […]

    Bats Fight Japan November 28, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Bats Fight Japan

    Beachcombing recently described  the possible Byzantine use of weaponised crows soaked in pitch and wondered aloud whether other birds or flying creatures had been employed by ancient or medieval armies. And, almost immediately, like an answer from heaven, he got three emails pointing him to a wonderful story that he’d never heard before:  kudos to Ostrich (a bizarrist of […]

    De Gaulle Flies into History November 17, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    De Gaulle Flies into History

    Beachcombing has a soft spot for Charles De Gaulle. Indeed, he often thinks of old lemon face on the balcony in Mostaganem in 1958, denying that the twentieth century had happened. Or the good General pissing off the Canadians in Quebec in 1967. Then there is de Gaulle’s comment on the death of his daughter, Anne, with Down […]

    The Last Scalping in History? October 26, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Last Scalping in History?

    Beachcombing cannot deny it. He has a bit of a thing about the removal of heads this week. First, there was the question of the last western beheadings, second an exploration by photograph of Japanese decapitations in the Second World War and today he is going to move on to a close cousin of beheading, […]

    Image: Decapitation at Aitape, 1943 October 24, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Decapitation at Aitape, 1943

    Beachcombing continues with his series of striking images. He is offering today though not the neat studio photograph of an Australian, Leonard Siffleet (1916-1943), opposite. But another more worrisome photograph of the same man that he has included in the middle of this post. There any reader, who feels up to it, will see the brave Australian […]

    The Table Leg that Changed History (Kind Of) September 29, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Table Leg that Changed History (Kind Of)

    Beachcombing knows that estimates of the number of serious assassination attempts against Hitler vary from ten to twenty. However, the only one of these attacks that actually drew Adolf’s blood was the last, Claus von Stauffenberg’s gutsy solo effort towards the end of the war. In fact, on three different occasions – 11, 15 and 18 July […]

    Image: They Can Because They Think They Can September 27, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: They Can Because They Think They Can

    As his final tribute to the RAF on the seventieth anniversary of the Battle of Britain, Beachcombing offers this remarkable photograph from 19 Squadron. 19 Squadron had fought over Dunkirk and spent the Battle of Britain in the front line at Duxford: the legless and incorrigible Douglas Bader was one of her pilots as was […]

    Review: First Light August 30, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: First Light

      Beachcombing confesses that he has gone a bit Battle-of-Britain mad in the past few weeks with several posts on ‘their finest hour’ and the RAF generally. His excuse? Well, this is, after all, the seventieth anniversary of the BoB and so he offers here another, a review of his favourite BoB book: First Light. First Light not only […]

    24 August 1940: The Night That Hitler Lost The War August 24, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    24 August 1940: The Night That Hitler Lost The War

                            The answer to the question of when the Third Reich doomed itself to extinction depends naturally on whom you ask. Some will tell you Germany’s failure to secure the Mediterranean in 1942 was crucial. Others will point to the invasion of the Soviet Union […]

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