Untold Suffering

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

On Sunday 7 December 1941 Japanese aircraft attacked the American Pacific Fleet as it lay peacefully off its base in Hawaii. The attack sank four battleships, seriously damaged another five, destroyed 130 aircraft, and killed 2,403 servicemen. President Roosevelt declared it was a date ‘that would live in infamy’.

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Port in Peril

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

It was clever of Bernard Ireland to find a major engagement of the Napoleonic Wars in which the British were involved but which has hitherto been largely ignored. The conflict at Toulon was a campaign rather than a single battle, lasting for five months of 1793, beginning as a British success and ending as a […]

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A Land Forsaken

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

In peacekeeping, the transition period is the most dangerous time. It is the time when the factions who have been at war vie for power, and when extremists try to make the most of the vacuum, to derail the peace and seize power. In the case of Rwanda, by the time the peacekeepers arrived it […]

Sodden Sand

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

‘The sand of the desert is sodden red,’ wrote the imperial poet Sir Henry Newbolt in ‘Vitai Lampada’ of a disastrous nineteenth-century military encounter in Egypt – Red with the wreck of a square that broke; The Gatling’s jammed and the colonel dead, And the regiment blind with dust and smoke. Half a century on, […]

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He Lunched Alone

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

It is baffling how Haig’s command is picked over, usually unsympathetically, and often by people with no understanding of what Clausewitz called ‘friction’ (that element in war which contrives to make simple things difficult), while the politicians’ handling of the long Edwardian prelude to August 1914 is set aside. It is as if Asquith and […]

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