Here’s a curious fact to trot out the next time a UK official accuses someone else of being militaristic: of the nearly 200 countries in the world today, only 22 have never experienced an invasion by the British.
That’s according to a new book, All the Countries We’ve Ever Invaded: And the Few We Never Got Round To, which asserts that Britain (or its predecessor, England) have invaded almost 90 per cent of the countries around the globe during its history.
Among the select group never attacked, occupied or annexed by the United Kingdom are far-flung locales such as Kyrgyzstan, Sao Tome and Principe, and the Marshall Islands.
However, closer to home, the British have left unmolested Luxembourg and tiny Andorra, situated in the Pyrenees between Spain and France, as well.
Author Stuart Laycock worked his way around the globe through each country alphabetically, researching its history to establish whether, at any point, they have experienced an incursion by Britain, according to The Telegraph.
“Only a comparatively small proportion of the total in Mr. Laycock’s list of invaded states actually formed an official part of the empire,” according to the publication. “The remainder have been included because the British were found to have achieved some sort of military presence in the territory – however transitory – either through force, the threat of force, negotiation or payment.”
It’s doubtful that one in a 100 Americans recognizes the geographic locale of Jumonville Glen, but 255 years ago this week it was the site of a small but crucial event that helped lead to the creation of the United States of America.
On May 28, 1754, George Washington, then a lieutenant colonel in the Virginia militia, was on his way through the Pennsylvania frontier to reinforce a British fort when he learned that a French force had been spotted in the area.
He and about 40 men went on a reconnaissance mission and came upon the sleeping French camp shortly after dawn. What happened next is still mired in controversy: The French maintained that their diplomatic party had been ambushed, while Washington reported that he had been fired on first.
When the smoke cleared, the entire French force appeared to have been killed, wounded or captured. The dead included the French commander, the Ensign Jumonville, who had been slain by Half King, an Indian ally of the British.
Called the Battle of Jumonville Glen, the event was the opening battle of the French and Indian War. The conflict not only ultimately gave Great Britain control of Canada and much of North America, but it laid the groundwork for the American Revolution.
“The goal was for the British to remove the French from North America , which they did,” Thomas Markwadt, public relations director at Fort Necessity, told The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in May 2008. ”It left the British with a large empire, which created the need for more revenue, which resulted in higher taxes for the colonists.”
As the colonists took on more of a role in their own defense, they began to assert their own identity.
“Because the colonists were no longer threatened by the French, the colonists no longer needed British protection,” Markwadt said. “They wanted to handle their own affairs. It set the stage for the American Revolution.”
Washington was just 22 years old at the time of Jumonville Glen and the battle marked his first test under fire. Although the Battle of Jumonville Glen was a victory for Washington, he lost the campaign when his troops were surrounded by French and Indian enemies a month later.
Given that many Americans don’t know their own country’s history, it’s hardly surprising that many in the US have a misconception about the meaning of Cinco de Mayo.
Contrary to what the typical half-cocked hipster downing Corona light will spout off tonight, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day, but rather commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over superior French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.
At that time, France’s army had gone nearly five decades without being defeated, and Mexico was actually occupied by France at the time, and would be for another five years.
Cinco de Mayo has limited significance nationwide in Mexico, but the date is observed in the United States and other locations around the world as a celebration of Mexican heritage, according to Wikipedia.
Mexican Independence Day is actually Sept. 16, marking the date in 1810 when Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest, declared Mexico’s independence from Spain in the town of Dolores.
US Army veteran Russell Dunham, awarded the World War II, died Monday in Illinois at age 89.for actions in France during
Despite being shot, Dunham killed nine Germans, wounded seven and captured two, firing about 175 rounds of carbine ammunition and throwing 11 grenades, thereby spearheading a successful diversionary attack.
According to Wikipedia, Dunham was a platoon leader in his unit, which became pinned down at the base of snow-covered Hill 616, a steep hill in Alsace-Lorraine:
“Using a white mattress cover as a camouflage aid against the backdrop of the snow, Dunham began moving up the hill. He carried with him a dozen hand grenades and a dozen magazines for his M1 Carbine.
“Dunham began crawling more than 100 yards to the first machine gun nest under fire from two machine guns and supporting riflemen. When 10 yards from the nest, he jumped up to assault the nest and was hit by a bullet which caused him to tumble 15 yards downhill. He got back up and charged the nest firing his carbine as he went, and kicked aside an egg grenade that had landed at his feet. Prior to reaching the nest, he tossed a hand grenade into the nest. When he got to the nest, he killed the machine gunner and his assistant. His carbine then jammed, and he jumped into the machine gun emplacement. He threw a third German in the nest down the hill who was later captured by his unit.
“With his carbine jammed, he picked up another carbine from a wounded soldier and advanced on the second nest, 50 yards away. As he came within 25 yards of the nest, he lobbed two hand grenades into the nest, wiping it out. He followed this up by firing down fox holes used in support of the nest. He then began his slow advance on the third nest, 65 yards up the hill. He made his advance on the third nest under heavy automatic fire and grenades. As he came within 15 yards of the nest, he tossed more grenades and wiped out the last nest, barely being missed at point blank range by a German rifleman.”
During the action, nearly 30 other Germans were captured. Dunham’s actions saved the lives of more than 150 American soldiers that day.
After he recovered from his injuries at Kayserberg, he returned to the line. On Jan. 22, 1945, he and most of his unit were captured, according to a story in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. But only a day or two later, Dunham used a hidden handgun to kill a guard and escape. He walked three days in temperatures sometimes below zero to get back to U.S. lines.
Proving that bureaucracy is a worldwide phenomenon, a 93-year-old man has become the first person to be officially recognized by Japan as a survivor of both atomic bombs dropped on the country by the US at the end of World War II.
Tsutomu Yamaguchi had already been a certified survivor of the Aug. 9, 1945, atomic bombing in Nagasaki, but Japanese officials have now confirmed that he also survived the attack on Hiroshima three days earlier, according to a story in The Telegraph.
There was no explanation on why it took the Japanese government more than six decades to confirm Yamaguchi’s status as a survivor of both atomic bomb blasts, however.
Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on a business trip on Aug. 6, 1945, when a US B-29 dropped an atomic bomb on the city. He then returned to his home in Nagasaki just in time for the second attack, according to The Telegraph.
Certification qualifies survivors for government compensation – including monthly allowances, free medical checkups and funeral costs – but Yamaguchi’s compensation will not increase, according to Toshiro Miyamoto, a Nagasaki city official.
The Hiroshima attack killed approximately 140,000 and the Nagasaki attack approximately 70,000. Among the dead were at least a dozen Americans, killed while being held as prisoners of war.
How bad is the global economic crisis? Business leaders in the Adriatic coastal city of Dubrovnik are trying to attract Serbian tourists for the first time since Serb forces besieged the area in 1991.
While many in Dubrovnik still recall with horror the bitter war which began when Croatia broke away from Yugoslavia in 1991 and claimed thousands of lives, financial doldrums are forcing former foes to turn to one another in an attempt to weather the economic storm, according to a story in the International Herald Tribune.
“After the war, thousands of Serbian refugees fled Croatia, and many sold their homes,” according to the story. “But tourism officials say Serbs, who vacationed in droves on the Croatian coast when the area was still part of Yugoslavia, are slowly beginning to return. Last year, some 90,000 Serbian tourists came to Croatia.
“Tomislav Popovic, a Croatian tourism official from the Istrian peninsula in the north, who went to the tourism fair last month in Belgrade, Serbia’s capital, said he was optimistic that the promise of an idyllic coastal holiday would increase Serbian tourism this summer by more than 50 percent,” the paper added.
Yes, while governments are notoriously poor at forcing people to get along with one another, it’s good old free-market economics that often proves much more effective at thawing relations between former enemies.
The Times profiles Henry Allingham, the 112-year-old World War I veteran, one of Britain’s last two Great War survivors, who was appointed Monday Officer of the Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest order.
Mr. Allingham saw action in the air, on land and at sea. His first taste of action was as an observer and gunner searching for U-boats, Zeppelins and mines in the North Sea during 1915, according to The Times.
He witnessed the Battle of Jutland, the largest naval engagement of the First World War, and is believed to be the only witness of the battle alive today.
Mr. Allingham joined the Royal Naval Air Service in 1917 and flew over the trenches as part of the Allied offensives at Ypres and the Battle of the Somme, where more than 1.5 million men died.
“I will never forget,” he told The Times. “I tried very, very hard to forget it, but I cannot.”
Henry Patch, 110, the only other surviving British veteran of the First World War, was awarded the same honor last week.
David Reuwer’s love of history has led him to begin publishing American Revolution, a magazine about the United States’ war of independence.
The Camden, SC, resident told The State newspaper that his publication is a ”hybrid designed to appeal to scholarly and popular audiences, (and) will focus not just on battles but also on the nation’s history and culture from 1750 to the acceptance of the Constitution in 1789.”
“South Carolina has over 345 documented Revolutionary War battle, engagement or skirmish sites — more than any other state,” Reuwer told The State, adding that one of his goals is to promote education, awareness and preservation of state sites. “There’s not a county that doesn’t have an engagement of some size.”
Key Revolutionary War battles in South Carolina were fought at Fort Moultrie, Cowpens, Kings Mountain and Camden.
Reuwer printed 5,000 issues of the inaugural issue at a cost of $10,000. They were sent out in January to people and groups in 35 states. He hopes to publish five times a year.
More information about subscribing to American Revolution can be found here.
It’s a sad commentary on the genocidal nature of the 20th Century when a character such as Baron Roman Nickolai Maximilian von Ungern-Sternberg can slip into relative obscurity less than a century after a short but spirited reign of terror and death.
Ungern-Sternberg was an Estonian-raised, ethnic-German tsarist officer who became the last khan of Mongolia amid the chaos of the Russian Civil War. During his time in Russia and later Mongolia, he waged genocide on Jews, Bolsheviks and the affluent with equal aplomb.
Ungern-Sternberg, who believed himself to be a reincarnation of Genghis Khan, had goals that included restoring the Russian monarchy and the Mongolian Khanate.
“Mr. Palmer has done a good job in disentangling the myths and horror stories that surround his much-reviled subject,” according to The Economist. “His accounts of Ungern’s bestial cruelty are not for the squeamish. The best bit of “Bloody White Baron” is the way it brings the repulsive combination of tsarist-era absolutism and mysticism to life.
“The Bolsheviks ultimately proved far worse,” the magazine adds. “But it is easy to see why so many people thought that any change from monsters like Ungern could only be for the better.”
One supposes that in a century that produced the likes of Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, et al., it was rather difficult to truly make a name for oneself as a murderous despot. Ungern-Sternberg certainly did his best, however.
Wallenberg’s mother Maj von Dardel and his stepfather Fredrik von Dardel killed themselves by overdosing on prescription drugs in 1979, The Journal reported.
Wallenberg is regarded as one of the great heroes of World War II. He worked as a Swedish diplomat in Budapest and is credited for having saved the lives of at least 20,000 Jews and averted the massacre of 70,000 more people in Budapest’s ghetto. He was recruited and financed by the U.S. and was arrested by Soviet troops in 1945.
The Russians say Wallenberg died in prison in 1947, but never produced a proper death certificate or his remains. There were reports of Wallenberg being alive in Soviet captivity as late as the 1980s. His fate has never been determined.
The Wall Street Journal, which studied a 50,000-page archive compiled by Wallenberg’s half-brother, Guy von Dardel, said Maj and Fredrik von Dardel committed suicide two days apart, devastated by decades of conflicting reports about Wallenberg’s fate, according to The Associated Press. They were 87 and 93.