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BEHIND THE IMAGE: Wind tunnel testing, Messerschmitt Bf 109, 1940

It may look like a scene from a movie shoot – Germany’s answer to The Dam Busters, perhaps – but this strikingly modern photograph from 1940 offers instead a real-life glimpse behind the scenes of a top-secret aeronautical project. The state-of-the-art wind tunnel at the Herman Goering Aviation Research Institute, near Braunschweig (or Brunswick) in Lower Saxony, was one of Germany’s most closely shrouded […]

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All you need to know about… Erich Ludendorff

Neat ‘tache… who was he? Once called ‘the most powerful man in Germany’, Erich Ludendorff was a prominent general in the German Army of the First World War. He was also a writer, military theorist, and ultra right-wing politician. He went to cadet school at an early age, and later attended the prestigious War Academy. He quickly rose through […]

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BEHIND THE IMAGE: captured Luftwaffe crewmen, London Underground, 1940

In photography, timing is all – and there is no better example of the dictum than this gem of a snapshot capturing a surprising moment from ordinary London life during the Second World War. The image shows two airmen in Luftwaffe uniform walking through the Underground. One is a corporal, the other an Oberleutnant (the highest-ranking type of lieutenant), and together they stroll […]

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WAR OF WORDS: ‘first rate’

Top notch. The best. The finest. To be ‘first rate’ is to be unexcelled. The phrase initially appeared in the London Gazette in 1666, in a report on the building of 12 ships for the Royal Navy, ‘all of the first rate’. Fifteen years later, in John Lacy’s Sir Hercules Buffoon, it was being applied by the playwright to people, with some said to have ‘first-, […]

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BRIEFING ROOM: Nader Shah

Look at that bling – who was he? Hailed by historians as ‘a second Alexander’ and ‘the Napoleon of the East’, Nader Shah was Shah (monarch) of Persia from 1736 to 1747. He was a gifted military commander and used his prowess to build a huge empire that included Iran, Afghanistan, the North Caucasus, northern India, and much of central […]

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BOOK REVIEW: Taylor Downing’s ‘Breakdown: the crisis of shell shock on the Somme, 1916’

How do you deal with someone suffering from mental illness if you do not believe that such a condition exists? If you feel that it is possible to ‘snap out of it’, use mind over matter, and exercise the stiff upper lip? This was the problem that confronted the British Army during the Great War, and became a particularly acute problem following the Battle […]

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Remote survey of HMS Hampshire: new images released

A remotely operated vehicle (ROV) has surveyed the wreck of HMS Hampshire, sunk on 5 June 1916. The Devonshire-class armoured cruiser, which played a minor role in the Battle of Jutland, was transporting Lord Kitchener to Russia for a meeting with Tsar Nicholas II when it struck a German mine off Marwick Head in Orkney. The ship sank in just 20 minutes, resulting in Lord […]

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BRIEFING ROOM: Mustafa Kemal

Mustafa Kemal was a Turkish nationalist leader and military commander. He founded the Republic of Turkey and was the country’s first president.

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WAR CULTURE: Cyrus LeRoy Baldridge I Was There

American artist and illustrator Cyrus LeRoy Baldridge published I Was There in 1919. The book contains over 30 illustrations, sketches, and paintings made by Baldridge during his time on the Western Front. Baldridge studied at the University of Chicago before searching out adventure as a ranch hand in Texas and joining the National Guard. With the outbreak of the […]

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