Second World War

The Downfall that never was

How many were killed on the first few days of the Allied invasion of Japan? Tens of thousands of bodies lay mangled on the blood soaked beaches. The sea churned, frothing pink-tinged waves pounding the sticky, red sand. Memories of the D-Day landings were eclipsed by this new slaughter, the desperate defence producing a suicidal savagery that surprised leaders on all sides. Waves of devoted but poorly armed locals had been thrown […]

The ultimate grudge match

The legendary Bill Shankly once drolly summed up how important football had become: “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.” There are very few occasions when football lives up to this quote and is literally a matter of life and death, but a game played in Kiev’s Zenit stadium […]

America’s official wars

The United States of America has only officially declared war on five occasions in over two centuries of its existence. Formal declarations were made by Congress in 1812, 1846, 1898, 1917 and 1941. So does this mean the US has spent most of its history at peace? And what about the Korean, Vietnam, Gulf, Iraqi and Afghanistan wars? Under Article One of Section Eight of the Constitution of the United States, Congress […]

The wicked wit of Josef Stalin

Josef Stalin is remembered for many things – establishing a brutal dictatorship over the Soviet Union, his determination to create a buffer zone in Eastern Europe and thus close the iron curtain, the capriciousness and cruelty of the security system he set up and brutalising terror of the gulag system. It is, therefore, not surprising that Stalin’s wit and raw intelligence are rarely focused on. But a selection of quotes and anecdotes […]

Lies to protect the truth

“In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.” –       Winston Churchill to Josef Stalin Military history abounds with stories of bluff, deception and feints – lies seem to be the constant companion of military genius. Few operations, however, have been as comprehensively swaddled in so impenetrable a shroud of subterfuge as the Normandy landings of D-Day. A vivid and fascinating book by Ben […]

Britain’s fiercest of foes 3

Who was Britain’s greatest ever foe? The contest, run by the National Army Museum, lends itself to controversy and debate. And that is exactly what the museum encouraged by hosting a day long event with presentations on behlf of five leading contendors followed by questions, discussion and a secret ballot.     The list was narrowed down from a long list of twenty to the top five by a public vote on the museum’s website. […]

Rebuilding Germany stone by stone

The period immediately following Germany’s defeat in the Second World War became known as Stunde Null, or zero hour. It become the bleakest chapter in the nation’s modern history. There was no longer even the hope of a surprise victory – Germany was a defeated and occupied country facing an uncertain and divided future. It had plunged the world into a global catastrophe and its armies had carried out some of the […]