Anyone who questions the brutal nature of medieval warfare need only read The Economist’s description of the fate of a Lancastrian soldier killed at the Battle of Towton during England’s bloody War of the Roses:
The soldier now known as Towton 25 had survived battle before. A healed skull fracture points to previous engagements. He was old enough – somewhere between 36 and 45 when he died – to have gained plenty of experience of fighting. But on March 29th 1461, his luck ran out.
Towton 25 suffered eight wounds to his head that day. The precise order can be worked out from the direction of fractures on his skull: when bone breaks, the cracks veer towards existing areas of weakness. The first five blows were delivered by a bladed weapon to the left-hand side of his head, presumably by a right-handed opponent standing in front of him. None is likely to have been lethal.
The next one almost certainly was. From behind him someone swung a blade towards his skull, carving a down-to-up trajectory through the air. The blow opened a huge horizontal gash into the back of his head – picture a slit you could post an envelope through. Fractures raced down to the base of his skull and around the sides of his head. Fragments of bone were forced in to Towton 25′s brain, felling him.
His enemies were not done yet. Another small blow to the right and back of the head may have been enough to turn him over onto his back. Finally another blade arced towards him. This one bisected his face, opening a crevice that ran from his left eye to his right jaw. It cut deep: the edge of the blade reached to the back of his throat.
Though relatively unknown today, the Battle of Towton has been described as “probably the largest and bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil.”
The scope of a recent discovery of sunken World War I submarines is so vast that it leaves one wondering whether initial reports are accurate.
The German magazine Der Spiegel is reporting that British archaeologists have found more than 40 German U-boats and three English submarines sunk during First World War off the coast of England.
Most of the U-boats sank with their crews onboard and several were still considered missing until their recent discovery, nearly a century after they were lost.
“The marine archeologists were struck by the fact that sometimes two or three German U-boats were found lying in close proximity to one another,” according to the publication. “For historians, this serves as evidence of a certain German combat strategy in an especially drastic phase of the U-boat war.
“In February 1917, the (German) Imperial Navy had altered its strategy and was now torpedoing and firing guns at British commercial ships on a large scale,” Der Spiegel added. “The Royal Navy reacted by providing the freighters with warship escorts, as well as using airships and aircraft to spot enemy submarines from above.”
While German military strategists devised a plan to break up these massive convoys by attacking with several U-boats at the same time, what became known as a wolfpack, the strategy was difficult to implement in the Great War because it required the coordination of complex maneuvers.
In all, British underwater archaeologist Mark Dunkley and three other divers found 41 German and three English submarines from World War I on the seafloor along the southern and eastern coasts of the United Kingdom.
After more than 70 years on the floor of the English Channel, a German bomber shot down during World War II has been raised.
The Dornier Do 17 aircraft was downed in August 1940 off the coast of Kent during the Battle of Britain.
It is believed to be the only intact example of its kind in the world, according to the BBC.
The aircraft, brought up last week, was found to be badly corroded, with the fuselage twisted and held in place only by a strut inserted by the salvage team. The plane’s engines were found to have come apart from the plane and had to be brought up separately.
The existence of the Dornier Do 17 – nicknamed the Luftwaffe’s “flying pencils” because of its narrow fuselage – became known when it was spotted by divers in 2008 lying in 50 feet of water on a chalk bed with a small debris field around it.
The Dornier will be restored at a site in Shropshire before eventually going on display at the RAF Museum in Hendon, north London.
About all that stands out in TopGear.com’s review of the Aston Martin V12 Vantage S is the end of the second sentence – “ … it’s more powerful than ever, and it’s louder” – along with the accompanying photos of the stylish sports car.
But, then again, power, noise and flashy pics can do much to mask muddled writing.
Yes, for the vast majority of us plebeians, dreaming of owning an Aston Martin is akin to window shopping on Beverly Hill’s Rodeo Drive – except, perhaps, you might get something a little more tangible for your money.
Perhaps that’s why TopGear loaded its review of the V12 Vantage S with jargon that makes it practically incomprehensible at first glance.
Following on from the Rapide S revealed earlier this year, the new Vantage S replaces the old V12 Vantage, and sports Aston’s new AM28 6-litre V12 engine, producing the same figures as the Vanquish. So you’re looking at 565bhp – up from 510bhp – 457lb-ft of torque and a top speed of 205mph. The old car did a piffling 183mph; positively pedestrian.
McGarity, a technical sergeant, was positioned with the rest of the 99th Infantry Division in the Ardennes Forest in December 1944 when Hitler mounted a final desperate offensive, seeking to break through the region and make for the North Sea.
Hitler believed if the plan were successful he might be able to negotiate a separate peace with the US and Great Britain, dividing them from the Soviets and allowing the Nazis to then concentrate on fighting the Red Army to the east.
Allied forces, which had been moving toward Germany after the D-Day invasion of France, were caught unaware by the counteroffensive and were initially pushed back.
The battle proved the costliest of the war for the US in terms of casualties with 89,000 killed, wounded, captured of missing. German losses were comparable, but the Nazis could less afford the loss of both men and materiel that the battle ultimately claimed.
An English schoolboy digging a hole in his family’s yard unearthed an eight-pound cannonball dating back more than 350 years to the English Civil War.
Jack Sinclair, 10, of Southwell, Nottinghamshire, continued tunneling after his father had dug down to remove a tree root and the lad came across what he at first thought was a rock.
Further work revealed that it was bigger and denser, and when Jack pulled it from the ground he had a heavy, rusty, muddy lump.
“His mother was concerned that it might be an unexploded bomb from World War II, but when they cleaned off the dirt, they saw it was an iron cannonball,” according to The History Blog.
Jack’s grandfather researched the artifact and took it to the nearby Museum Resource Centre in Newark, where experts verified with 90 percent certainty that it is a 17th century cannonball used during the English Civil War.
Its weight and dimensions suggest it was shot from a saker cannon, a medium-caliber long-range cannon widely used in the early 16th century and 17th century, according to The History Blog.
The find strengthens Southwell’s strong links with the 1642-51 conflict.
Today marks the 250th anniversary of the beginning of Pontiac’s Rebellion, known by a number of other monikers, including Pontiac’s War, Pontiac’s Uprising and Pontiac’s Conspiracy.
Pontiac was a chief of the Ottawa nation, and was one of many Indians dissatisfied with the results of the French and Indian War (1754-1763), which left the British in control of much of eastern North America.
Pontiac was born in the early part of the 18th century, most likely along a waterway in what is today the Midwestern US, likely either the Detroit or Maumee river.
He became an Ottawa war leader by the mid-1740s and supported the French in pivotal French and Indian War.
Following the British victory in North America and the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the British angered Indian tribes who had been allied with the French by cutting back on key supplies previously distributed from forts in the region.
The Indians had come to depend on gunpowder and ammunition distributed by Europeans for hunting game for food and to be able to take skins, which could be used in trade. The British, however, mistrusted their former Indian adversaries and began to restrict distribution of both.
Some Native Americans began to grow wary, believing the British were making preparations to attack them by disarming them. Many also resented being treated like a conquered people.
Efforts to raise the sole surviving German Dornier Do 17 bomber from World War II began last Friday, more than 70 years after it was shot down over the English Channel.
The aircraft, a light bomber, rests in approximately 50 feet of water and is in surprisingly good condition, according to those involved with the salvage operation.
Officials plan to raise the bomber with a specially designed cradle later this month.
The project will be the biggest recovery of its kind in British waters, and the price tag could top $900,000, according to Reuters.
The existence of the Dornier Do 17 – lost during the Battle of Britain – off the coast of Kent became known when it was spotted by divers in 2008 lying on a chalk bed with a small debris field around it.
“The plane will be packed in gel and plastic sheeting to shield it from the air before it can be transported to hydration tunnels where the crust created by 70 years underwater will be washed away over the next two years,” according to Reuters.
Eventually, the bomber will be exhibited in the Royal Air Force Museum in London.
British finance minister George Osborne wielded the cudgel of fiscal insecurity to warn Scots against voting for independence.
Scotland runs the risk of ceding control of much of its economy if it chooses sovereignty during a referendum next year and remains in a “currency zone” using the British pound – the preferred option of the pro-independence Scottish government.
Osborne also warned there was no guarantee that the rest of the United Kingdom would accept such an arrangement.
Speaking in Glasgow, Osborne said choosing such a path could result in Scotland ending up like Panama and Montenegro, which use the US dollar and the euro, respectively, but neither has control over policy, according to Agence France-Presse.
In case anyone in attendance was unclear where Osborne, Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, stood regarding Scotland’s 300-year-old union with England, the British Conservative politician made it crystal clear.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t break it,” he said.