A few weeks ago, on 8th May 2015, Britain commemorated the 70th anniversary of VE Day (Victory in Europe Day). This was not the end of World War Two, which continued in the Pacific, but the end of hostilities in Europe. In World War One, Britain had experienced a few raids by air and sea, but in World War Two the conflict was brought right into the British Isles with the bombing, the shortages caused by the war at sea disrupting supplies, and the constant threat of spies, raids and invasion. VE Day was therefore particularly significant for everyone.
Very few people in Britain had an easy life during World War Two, but it could be particularly gruelling for those in the munitions factories, as one young woman found. Continue reading
We keep talking about the number of anniversaries in 2015, so perhaps we can squeeze in one more. The 210th anniversary of Trafalgar will fall on 21st October 2015, highlighting that it took a decade after this famous sea battle for Napoleon to be defeated on land at Waterloo.
In September 2001, we were travelling through Spain, a trip that we remember vividly because of the terrible events in New York on the 11th, which we barely understood as it was difficult to get hold of news. A few days later, we reached Gibraltar and visited the Trafalgar cemetery. We were then anxious for the holiday to finish, as we wanted to find out what books were available on Trafalgar and if it was a viable subject for us to tackle for our next book. As it happened, we both embarked on different projects, and it was Roy who wrote the Trafalgar book. Since then, we have resumed writing our books as joint authors.
Like all our books, it was not written for a specialist reader who wanted a blow-by-blow account of every single ship’s manoeuvres. Instead, it deals with Continue reading
Two lots of 200 years
The year 2014 saw the 200th anniversary of the ending of the long wars with Napoleon. Like VE Day in 1945, the celebrations in 1814 were especially joyful after more than a decade of war. As we mentioned in our newsletter for Newsletter 39 (under ‘The Start of the Hundred Days’), Napoleon escaped from exile and returned to France in early 1815, only to be defeated once and for all at the Battle of Waterloo in Belgium in June 1815, giving us yet another 200th anniversary.
The French dead and wounded amounted to around 30,000, while the British suffered around 17,000 casualties and their Prussian allies about 7,000 – a total of approximately 54,000 dead and wounded. Major Harry Smith of the 95th Rifles wrote: ‘I had been over many a field of battle, but Continue reading
Inevitably, many myths have grown around Magna Carta, such as King John signing the charter on an island in the River Thames at Runnymede, so ensuring the freedom of the individual. Much of this is untrue. Another misconception is that only one copy of Magna Carta exists. Even its name was not used at the outset.
The United States commemorates Magna Carta with an oak tree at Runnymede
In 1199 John was anointed and crowned king, giving him divine sanction to rule. The ‘feudal system’ (introduced after the Norman Conquest in 1066) controlled English society – ‘feudal’ was a term coined centuries later from Continue reading