Articles

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Shell shock cover-up at Passchendaele

Taylor Downing reveals an official cover-up of mental illness in the later years of the war. It was not just the scale of the physical casualties that overwhelmed the British Army in the summer of 1916 on the Somme, terrible though these were – 38,000 wounded to be processed through medical facilities on the first day […]

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Krystyna Skarbek: the SOE’s silent killer

Clare Mulley on the daring exploits of a highly decorated WWII special agent. Krystyna Skarbek, aka Christine Granville, was the first woman to work for Britain as a special agent during the Second World War. She was also the longest-serving. Her extraordinary contribution to the Allied effort in three theatres of the war led to […]

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The Matabele Wars

We know the story. Goaded into a hopeless war by an expanding colonial empire, thousands of warriors rise against their oppressors – and inadvertently spawn a legend. There is a twist: this action takes place in present-day Zimbabwe. While we are very familiar with the struggle for South Africa and the desperate encounters at Isandhlwana, Rorke’s Drift, and Ulundi during the Zulu War of 1879, this was only the beginning of a generation of brutal conflict across the ‘dark continent’.

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Afghanistan: graveyard of armies

A huge, mountainous, landlocked Central Asian state, Afghanistan has defied invaders for 2,500 years. Jules Stewart takes a look at the country’s military longue durée.     Taken in historical context, the 13-year presence of NATO combat troops in Afghanistan amounted to scarcely a footnote to centuries of foreign military intervention in the country. From the […]

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Britannia: the real story

The TV series Britannia (2017) is a historical fantasy along the lines of Game of Thrones. Though set at the time of the Roman invasion of Britain in AD 43, it makes no great claim to historical authenticity. It reflects enduring interest in the Celts, the druids, and, above all, Queen Boudicca of the Iceni. But what was warfare really like during the Roman conquest of Britain between AD 43 and 84?

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The Somme’s forgotten history

Film-maker Ross Barnwell is crowdfunding for a new documentary drama based on Geoffrey Malins, the cameraman who famously shot footage of the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Here’s a sneak preview of the stories Barnwell uncovered while filming.

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MHM BOOK AWARDS 2018: Winners announced!

The ballots have been cast, the votes have been counted, and we are delighted to announce the winners of this year’s MHM book awards! We curated a list of the year’s best military history titles, and asked our readers to vote for their favourites. Our selection includes some of the best-researched, most-insightful, and most-readable titles […]

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Jane Austen: a wartime writer?

War and violence are the last things one would associate with that 19th-century doyenne of English literature, Jane Austen. Ambles in the countryside, flirtatious glances, frocks with lace and frills, and the relentless pursuit of wealthy bachelors are the more likely images conjured by her name.

Yet conventional interpretations of the novelist’s work lack reference to a crucial context – that of war. For most of Jane Austen’s life, Britain was involved in conflicts of varying existential significance across the globe.

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Chakdara: the other Rorke’s Drift?

The epic defence of Chakdara is intriguing. It lasted a week (26 July-2 August 1897), involved 240 men defending an isolated post against up to 8,000 tribal warriors, and had a big impact on the British public back home at the time. But no VCs were awarded, and the action is almost totally forgotten today. Why?

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Kaiserschlacht, Spring 1918

Could the Germans have won the First World War in 1918? Almost certainly. A quarter of a century later, the tide of war would turn irretrievably against Hitler’s Third Reich in 1942/1943. The massive industrial power of the Soviet Union and the United States combined – still rising towards a wartime peak –guaranteed eventual defeat. The outcome was far more open in 1917/1918.

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