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Great Battles

The Crusades take to

the Field of Blood 20 YEARS


The fight for

SEPTEMBER 2014 ISSUE 7 £4.99




9 772054 376011

9 772054 376011



“The pieces of the jigsaw are

finally falling into place,
thank you Forces War Records”
Mrs Jenny Dance

Forces War Records:

• holds over 6 million military name records

• includes both unit and battle data

• features a historic library and extensive war diary extracts

†visit: www.forces-war-records.co.uk,*off your first month’s subscription

P2415 FWR Press Advert 230x297mm HOW40.indd 1 17/06/2014 16:44

is a writer specialising
in history, defence and
martial arts. He is the
author of The Medieval
Warrior: Weapons,
Technology And Fighting
Techniques AD1000-
1500, and this month
analyses the Battle of

Sarmada (page 38).

is a renowned writer and
It’s known as one of the bloodiest battles journalist specialising in
in the history of warfare. Although the military history. In this
Soviet Union was victorious in the Battle of issue of History of War,
Stalingrad, you couldn’t really describe the he examines the African
Russians as “winners”, such was the human conflicts in the Congo,
cost of a conflict that lasted more than five where millions died during
decades of torment and
months. In this issue of History of War, we attrition. Turn to page
explore how the battle for the city played out; 58 for the full story.
a tale of bitter hand-to-hand fighting, and of
attrition. Find our feature on page 20. DUNCAN BARRETT
The rest of the issue is, as ever, absolutely packed. We examine is an author and historian
the wars in the Congo, where nine African nations ended up fighting who has, most recently,
for control of what is now one of the poorest countries on the planet written Men Of Letters,
(page 58); there’s an analysis of the role of the Post Office workers a book about the Post
who took up arms in the First World War Office Rifles and their role
(page 52); we visit the Battle of Sarmada in WWI. In this issue, he
(page 38); and, well, turn the page for describes how those valiant
men fought in the harshest
a full contents list! Do enjoy the issue.
of conditions in Belguim
Paul Pettengale Editorial Director and France (page 52).

Share your views and opinions online Search History Of Subscribe

@HistoryOfWarMag HISTORY OF WAR FOR £3 (PAGE 46).

A Soviet crew fires on

German positions in
Stalingrad, November 1942




The Battle
of Stalingrad
War In Focus Conflict through
a camera lens ............................ 6
Dispatches The latest news from
around the globe .......................12
Letters Your views and opinions .19
Military Milestones A history of
body armour, from the Assyrians
to the 21st Century ...................80
Reviews The latest book, DVD
and game releases rated by our
expert team of writers ...............89
War in Numbers
Summing up the French Revolution,
from the length of Napoleon’s
reign to the number killed ..........98

JUST £3!




Storm in Stalingrad
The 1942-43 Battle of Stalingrad was
one of the bloodiest engagements in
history, as well as being a turning point
in the Second World War. History of War
takes a closer look .............................. 20
Leaders of Men
American Generals
We left out Norman Schwarzkopf and
Omar Bradley – so who did we pick? ..... 34
Great Battles Sarmada
In 1119AD, in what we now know as
Syria, an almighty clash erupted between
the Crusaders and the Turks ................ 38
Trigger Point
The Iran-Iraq War
How Saddam Hussein’s attempts to
exploit a weakened Iran for Iraq’s gain
caused a bloody conflict that lasted
eight long years .................................. 48
Men Of Letters
From mailmen to military heroes –
the Post Office workers who went to fight
on the Western Front ........................... 52
War In The Congo
WAR IN THE CONGO p58 The African country’s rich natural
resources may seem like a godsend,
but they’ve been nothing but a curse,
with greed leading to conflict ................ 58
p48 p80 Standing For The Fallen
History of War visits the Vimy Ridge
memorial site in France, to explore the
Canadians’ role in WWI ........................ 74
V For Valour Maurice “Moggy” Mayne
Read about the British airman who
embarked on one of military history’s
greatest-ever escape missions, and lived
to tell the tale ..................................... 82
The Ten Greatest War Drama Box Sets
From Band Of Brothers to Napoleon,
we give our rundown of the best military-
based TV series .................................. 96

Denotes on the cover

Getty Images



Taken 23 October 1941
It’s not the kind of thing you expect to see when
you pop out for your morning paper – unless your
country happens to be in the middle of a war,
that is. This scene of devastation greeted residents
of a street in Fulham, West London, after an
RAF plane was shot down by German aircraft
just before blackout. The pilot died in the
crash – one of more than 10,000 to
perish during the conflict.

Rex Features



Taken 1 April 1970
Actually, they didn’t, but the long-exposure photography
used to take this picture certainly gives it a sci-fi
quality. In actual fact, the “spaceship” is a Viet Cong
plane carrying out a night attack on the 173rd
Airborne Brigade’s admin compound near Phu Tai,
Vietnam, and those “lasers” are anti-aircraft
fire from US troops defending the base.
The shot was taken by soldier
James Speed Hensinger.

© Clive Limpkin/’The Battle of Bogside’ (Penguin, 1972)



Taken January 1969
War and innocence meet head-on in this photograph
taken in Belfast during the height of the “Troubles” in
Northern Ireland. On one side of the picture, a British
soldier on patrol, a look of concentration etched
across his face. On the other side, a young girl,
scared and bemused at what is happening
right outside her home. For so many
people around the world, childhood
is stolen from them by war.

Military news and events from around the globe, including WWI commemorations,
record prices for unusual military memorabilia, and the real Captain Blackadder…

Following its surrender in 1945,

Japan embarked on a policy of
military non-intervention, but
tension with China has seen a
reinterpretation of its constitution

Getty Images
t’s been more than 60 years since Japan defend itself, and represents a step in the However, the US is likely to welcome the
placed a pacifist clause in its constitution right direction to ensure its defence policies news, as the nation has long been keen to
banning its military from fighting abroad, are more flexible. It also better aligns the forge a stronger alliance with Tokyo.
but now Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Japanese military with the militaries of other Article 9 of the Constitution, which was
cabinet has adopted a controversial advanced nations. But critics maintain that adopted after Japan’s 1945 defeat and
resolution to lift the ban. the Japanese public will not endorse the has never been revised, states (official
The move will immediately enhance commitment of its own military to foreign wars, translation), “Aspiring sincerely to an
Japan’s military options by ending the ban on and many want to keep hold of Japan’s pacifist international peace based on justice and
exercising “collective self-defence” or helping stance. Hundreds of protesters have marched order, the Japanese people forever renounce
allies under attack. It will also relax limits on against the resolution, and one man has set war as a sovereign right of the nation and the
activities in UN-led peace-keeping operations himself alight to draw attention to the debate. threat or use of force as means of settling
and “grey zone” incidents short of full-scale China, whose relationship with Japan is international disputes. (2) To accomplish the
war, according to a draft cabinet resolution, strained due to an on-going maritime dispute, aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea and
but Abe stressed that there is no change in has also been quick to oppose the move. air forces, as well as other war potential, will
the general principle that Japan cannot send Hong Lei, the Chinese Foreign Ministry never be maintained. The right of belligerency
troops overseas. spokesman, stated, “We demand that Japan of the state will not be recognised.”
Supporters of the re-interpretation of the respects the reasonable security concerns of Legal revisions must still be approved by
clause claim that the ban has historically its Asian neighbours, and prudently handles parliament, and restrictions to amendments
prevented Japan from being able to adequately the relevant matter.” could still be imposed.

TV historian’s myths list draws the ire of war veterans’ families

hen television broadcaster A 500lb MK82 bomb with a potential
Dan Snow produced a blast area of around 1,500 metres
list attempting to debunk has been defused in Vientiane,
“myths” surrounding WWI, he was the capital of Laos. The ordnance,
probably expecting some flak, but dropped by the US during the
he’s revealed that he’s been sent Vietnam War, was found by workers
hate mail and abusive messages. preparing a construction site.
Snow’s list, published by the BBC in
February, aimed to persuade the public
to stop considering the 1914-18 conflict
as the biggest British wartime tragedy.
“By setting it [WWI] apart as uniquely
awful, we are blinding ourselves to Snow suggested that for
the reality of not just WWI but war in some men, life in the
general,” he said. “We are also in danger military was far better than
of belittling the experience of soldiers at home during peace time
and civilians caught up in countless other
appalling conflicts throughout history but suggested that these contradict lightly. 5) British soldiers were “lions
and the present day. It’s absolutely vital the experiences of the majority. led by donkeys”. 6) Gallipoli was fought
that these myths are challenged.” The ten “myths” on the list are: 1) The only by Australians and New Zealanders.
The broadcaster claimed that much Great War was the bloodiest war in history 7) Tactics on the Western Front remained
of the hate mail had been sent by people up to that point. 2) Most soldiers died in unchanged despite repeated failure. REWARD OFFERED FOR
who have read the experiences of war the conflict. 3) Men lived in trenches for 8) No one won. 9) The Treaty of Versailles
written by their relatives in diaries, years on end. 4) The upper class got off was harsh. 10) Everyone hated the war. RETURN OF STOLEN WWII JEEP
Devastated owners of a Willys MB
US Army Jeep have offered a reward
of £1,000 for the return of their
beloved vehicle after it was stolen

WORLD WAR ONE CENTENARY from Bobbingworth in Essex. The Jeep

has been in the family for almost

HERALDS GREATER PROTECTION 70 years and has the number plate

FHO 808. If you have any information


on its whereabouts, please let
Boris know on 07587 099353.


arge-scale pillaging, looting and the UNESCO has reported that pillaging has been THE EVACUATION EXPERIENCE
Isle of Wight schoolchildren found
deliberate destruction of ships lost during happening on a very large scale, and says that the
out what it was really like to be
the First World War may be a thing of the regulation will prevent commercial exploitation of evacuated when they joined in
past, thanks to a UNESCO agreement aimed at the sites, including scrap-metal recovery, which has a local heritage event to recreate
protecting sunken vessels. been on the increase as certain metals become the WWII years. Havenstreet Station
The agreement, called the UNESCO Convention more valuable. The agreement also protects sites was transformed into a wartime
on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, from damage from other ships, such as trawlers. setting, and children tasted food
was introduced in 2001 but only protects ships In 2011, three British cruisers – HMS Aboukir, of the era, experienced air-raid
sunk at least 100 years ago. So now the centenary HMS Hogue and HMS Cressy – were dismantled for sirens and wore gas masks.
of WWI is here, thousands of watery graves copper and bronze by Dutch ships. The Netherlands
of vessels such as warships, submarines and is yet to sign the agreement, which has so far been
hospital barges will receive the safeguards. adopted by 48 countries. WITH THE GREAT WAR
The First World War comes to life in a
new PS4 game, Valiant Hearts, which
takes the form of a puzzle adventure
mixed with action sequences and
historical information. According to
gamers, it’s “one of the best games
released this year so far”. Definitely
one for the Christmas list, then!

The days of pillaging

sunken WWI warships are
hopefully over, thanks to
the UNESCO convention

Tanks, Trucks & Firepower Show Dorset man’s tales of “daft, horrible and downright eccentric” actions
This three-day event showcases a
huge range of tanks and military

vehicles, with battle re-enactments
and a must-see display by the Alvis rawling around in the “stinking wet mud
Fighting Vehicle Society. of the river Maas” in Holland, Brian Guy,
Dunchurch, nr Rugby, Warwickshire. a sapper serving with the 246 Field
www.tankstrucksandfirepower.co.uk Company Royal Engineers, set up a
gramophone behind enemy lines and played
23-25 AUGUST the sound of men preparing to build a bridge. It
Mount Edgcumbe at War was just one of many bizarre personal events in
This annual event by the Cornwall World War Two that motivated Guy to create a
MVT has exhibitors and traders along
book from his memories, entitled Cameos Of War.
with military vehicles of all eras,
wartime displays and re-enactors. The gramophone story is one that he didn’t
Mount Edgcumbe Park, Cornwall. dare repeat for many decades, because he

30-31 AUGUST
MK Museum 1940s Weekend
Relive wartime Britain with a vintage
tea room and pub, re-enactors, EVENTS OF WORLD WAR TWO THAT
period vehicles, exhibitions, stalls,
memorabilia, music and dance. MOTIVATED GUY TO CREATE A
Milton Keynes Museum, Bucks.

thought no one would believe him, but now the

story is recorded forever, alongside the tale of
how he used a modified garden roller to clear
a battlefield of wooden shoe mines, and more.
Now 89, the great-grandfather decided to
publish 100 copies of his book to raise money
for the charity BLESMA, the British Limbless hist
Ex-Servicemen’s Association, an organisation
close to Guy’s heart after the terrible injuries he Cameos Of War, which
received from his years at war. He still has a steel describes Brian’s journey from Normandy to the
ball in his head from a nest mine, and his leg is German border, and all the actions that took place,
held together with metal plates stamped with is available for £11, with all proceeds going to
5-7 SEPTEMBER “war office”, after it was “broken into so many bits, BLESMA. To get hold of a copy (before they’re all
The Victory Show it was almost impossible to put it back together”. gone), email brian@raymondguy55.freeserve.co.uk.
This huge tribute to WWII features
aircraft (both static and flying),
hundreds of re-enactors and military
vehicles, tank rides, a steam railway
and dealer stalls.
Foxlands Farm, Cosby, Leicestershire.
World War Two veteran receives his
Tanks In Town
war medals after 68 years
Take a trip to Mons in Belgium ance Corporal William Ferridge
as it commemorates its liberation was too busy to request his war
with a huge invasion of WWII tanks, medals at the end of his military
APCs, half-tracks, Jeeps and trucks. service in 1946 – but, luckily, his friends
Bois Brûle, Ghlin, Belgium. have stepped in to make sure that the
www.tanksintown.be 91-year-old didn’t miss out.
Ferridge, from Waterlooville in
7 SEPTEMBER Hampshire, earned the Italy Star, the
Mark Carter Militaria & Medal Fair Africa Star, the Defence Medal and
Over 100 tables selling medals, the War Medal while serving with the
badges, military books and more. Royal Corps of Signals, but he explained:
Free parking in huge car park. “I never got around to applying for my
Woking Leisure Centre, Surrey. medals – life got in the way.”
01753 534777 On his behalf, 68 years later, his
close friends secretly applied to the
14 SEPTEMBER Ministry of Defence for the unclaimed
GHQ Militaria Fair medals. When Ferridge attended a flag-
This event has been running for raising ceremony to mark Armed Forces
over 25 years and is one of the Day, it was the perfect opportunity
biggest in the South. More than 100 to honour the veteran at last, and he
tables sell all manner of uniforms, was presented with his long-overdue William Ferridge
equipment, medals and more. decorations by Marjorie Smallcorn, the receives his
The Maltings, Farnham, Surrey. Mayor of Havant. Ferridge said: “This medals – just
www.ghq.uk.com (Cont on p18) was a big surprise, but a very nice one!” 68 years late!


ever-before-seen WWI comedians and actors
records of around helped to swell the ranks.
450,000 men of the On top of this, the records,
Royal Air Force and taken from The National
Royal Flying Corps Archives and digitised by
have come to light, thanks Findmypast.co.uk, provide
to a joint venture between details about the airmen’s
The National Archives and appearance, religious
Findmypast.co.uk. denomination and family
The records reveal that status. With relatives able
at least 58 nationalities to access the records for
served in the RAF during the the first time, they can now
war, including Russia, Brazil, find out what their ancestors
Japan and the first Indian to looked like, what their
fly in combat, Hardutt Singh participation in the war
Malik. They also suggest was, and their next of kin –

Getty Images
that the background of the which is useful for tracing
airmen was unimportant further familial links.
when it came to combat, The records mostly date
with the working classes
working alongside officers,
from 1912, when the Royal
Flying Corps was formed, but
and their successes equally
celebrated with medals.
include entries from 1899,
when the Royal Engineers
Previous occupations are
also listed, and show that
Balloon Service participated
in the Boer Wars.
history_of_war_ww1_dvds_Layout 1 13/06/2014 10:11 Page 1

eagle media
Eagle Media is a divion of Eagle Rock Entertainment Ltd.
Namesakes discovered on military-records website
We assume the real-life

Blackadder was made
ilitary-genealogy website was Lieutenant Athelstan Key of sterner stuff than his
Forces War Records Durance George who trained as weasly TV counterpart
(www.forces-war-records. a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps.
co.uk) has discovered And finally, Tony Robinson’s
in WWI archives that character Baldrick’s namesake
the lead characters in TV series was Private James Baldrick, who
Blackadder not only had real-life enlisted in the Army Reserves
counterparts, they also had and was called up for service
similar ranks. with the British Expeditionary
Blackadder, played by Force. Bizarrely, the real versions
Rowan Atkinson (right), had a also had similar backgrounds –
namesake – Captain Robert though the real Baldrick, unlike
John Blackadder – who fought the TV character, could read.
at the Somme and won the The discoveries were made
Military Cross. Tim McInnerny by 24-year-old military history
played Darling, whose namesake graduate Tom Bennington, but
Captain John Clive Darling won the archives failed to reveal
a Distinguished Service Order a General Melchett, played
and fought at Mons, Marne, by Stephen Fry – although a
Aisne and Ypres. Hugh Laurie’s General Melchett did make an
character George’s counterpart appearance in World War Two.




ITV cooks up Jambusters
new WWII drama will soon be The period drama has been
hitting our TV screens after written and created by Simon Block,
ITV announced its commission whose previous credits include

f you happen to have a Roman stashed Laughter In Ancient Rome: On Joking, of a six-part series. Inspired by the Inspector Lewis. Filming will take
away somewhere who needs cheering Tickling And Cracking Up by Mary Beard book Jambusters, written by Julie place in Cheshire from September
up, Mary Beard’s book, Laughter is available now, published by University of Summers, the series will be set in a to December, but no cast members
In Ancient Rome: On Joking, Tickling California Press in hardcover, RRP £19.95. rural Cheshire community and follow have yet been announced.
And Cracking Up,, is indispensable. a group of inspirational
But even if there isn’t a Roman in women as the global
sight, Beard’s latest tome is a great conflict erupts.
read, providing an academic insight An ITV statement
into what made Romans laugh – said, “The isolated
jokes, irony, silliness, sex, even their village couldn’t feel
own clothes. The jokes themselves further away from the
may not make you laugh, but they impending bloodshed
show that the language of humour and battlefields, and
is rooted in Latin and provides yet it isn’t immune to
the basis of our modern jokes. the effects of war. As
Interestingly, she writes that while the conflict takes hold
the Romans enjoyed a laugh, there and separates women
were no Roman words for smiling. from husbands, fathers,
Using an array of Roman sons and brothers, the
writing, including essays and even characters find themselves
an old joke book, Beard, Professor under increasing and
of Classics at the University of extraordinary pressure in a
Cambridge, examines whether rapidly fragmenting world.”
Rome was an empire full of Director of Drama
practical jokes or a world of wit and for ITV Steve November
irony, and identifies the role that added, “Multiple strands
comedy played in the law courts, of plot interweave to
imperial palace and arena. She create a period drama
explores Roman humour from full of jeopardy and
the hilarious to the momentous intrigue, but also great
to the surprising, while tackling humanity and modernity.”
wider historical questions.


A major new book by

Auction bidders dig A STREET in ARNHEM
deep for sought-after The Agony of Occupation and Liberation
wartime memorabilia
One street...
ancy a 100-year-old biscuit, who fought in the Gallipoli/Dardanelles
anyone? A bidder at a Suffolk campaign (one biscuit is labelled
auction was certainly hungry for
this pair of WWI Army-ration biscuits,
“Gallipoli”, the other “Dardanelles”).
Bidding at Lockdales Auctioneers in
one war...
forking out £290 for the snacks made Martlesham, Suffolk, started at £60 but
out of flour, salt and water. The biscuits,
dated August 1915 and labelled “used by
quickly reached five times that figure.
Although rock-hard, the biscuits are
troops in Suvla Bay”, are thought to have
been owned by Lt Lionel Bruce Charles,
apparently still edible, but it’s thought they
were bought to look at rather than eat. of unique


What happens when your street is overwhelmed by a mighty battle not of your making?
A Street in Arnhem tells the astonishing story of a peaceful Dutch suburb which for
nine days was brutalised and destroyed by the battle that raged through its streets.
Robert Kershaw has unearthed new research through interviews, diary accounts and
letters to show the battle not only from the viewpoint of the British, Polish and German
soldiers fighting in this street, but more importantly through the eyes of the confused
and horrified locals.
This is a compelling human story, often heart-rending, as residents struggled to cope

eanwhile, on the other side as their street was utterly destroyed by conflict. As the 70th anniversary of the Battle
of the pond, one of the most
important WWII aviation of Arnhem approaches in September, this is a good time to reflect and remember
documents went under the hammer at and, for the very first time, to look at this epic World War 2 battle through the eyes of
Bonhams, New York, on 5 June, for a
considerably larger sum. The flight log
ordinary people, whether soldiers or civilians.
of pilot Brigadier General Paul Tibbets, If you read Kershaw’s masterpiece It Never Snows in September you shouldn’t miss
who flew the Enola Gay, the US B-29 his powerful, moving account of a struggle that still resonates across the decades.
plane famous for dropping an atomic
bomb on Hiroshima in 1945, was sold Hardback • 304 pages • 978 0 7110 3754 0 • £20.00
for $86,500 (£50,524). The log, which
records all the flights in Tibbets’ career,
includes a report that he spent 12 Also by ROBERT J. KERSHAW
hours, 15 minutes aboard the aircraft It Never Snows in September
on 6 August, when the atomic bomb PB • £11.00
“Little Boy” was dropped on Japan.
D-Day: Piercing the Atlantic Wall
PB • £8.99

War without Garlands
ut it was a D-Day landing ship’s PB • £11.00
US flag that was the auction hero
this month, after an unnamed
online buyer bid a whopping $386,500
(£225,759) for the battle souvenir at the
same Bonhams sale, which was timed to For more information on Robert Kershaw’s range of military titles
coincide with the 70th anniversary of the
D-Day campaign. The star panel of the please visit www.robertjkershaw.com
48-star ensign is intact, but the striped
area has been badly distressed by the
weather. The flag, which was flown from
the US-built LST 493 that dropped troops TO ORDER:
on the beaches at Normandy, was given an
estimate of $25,000-$35,000, but healthy
Online from www.ianallanpublishing.com
bidding pushed the price way beyond that. Mail order from: 0844 245 6944
FREE Postage and Packing in the UK PUBLISHING


History of War.indd 1 21/07/2014 14:29

Crank Down
The Yorkshire Military Vehicle Trust’s he city of Sarajevo in
weekend run across the Yorkshire Bosnia and Herzegovina
Moors. Includes a full supporting The Latin Bridge stands
programme of 1940s activities.
recently held a
illuminated during a
www.yorkshiremvt.co.uk number of events to theatre performance
commemorate the commemorating WWI
27-28 SEPTEMBER shooting of Archduke Franz
Wallington War Weekend Ferdinand by the Bosnian
A combination of vintage military Serb secessionist Gavrilo
vehicles, living-history displays and Princip – the incident that
food with a WWII theme. ignited the Great War.
Wallington Hall, Northumbria.
The Vienna Philharmonic
01669 620469
performed in the afternoon,
27-28 SEPTEMBER then a midnight musical took
On The Home Front, 1939-1945 place on the Latin Bridge
Pop along and meet “Winston near the site of the shooting.
Churchill”, “General Montgomery” and However, the city’s
other military legends at this period population remain divided
celebration of wartime Britain. over the events of 28 June

Getty Images
Rufford Abbey Park, Nottinghamshire. 1914: to Serbs, Princip was
a nationalist hero striking
27-28 SEPTEMBER a blow against the hated
Pistons & Props Austro-Hungarian empire.
Come for the displays of wartime But for Bosnians, his actions
aircraft, including Spitfires, Tiger ignited an unnecessary war
Moths and Mustangs, then stay for that created the conditions The commemorations in and unveiled a bronze statue
the classic cars and live music. for the rise of Nazism. That, Sarajevo were boycotted by to Princip in the Serb-dominated
Sywell Aerodrome, Northamptonshire. in turn, led to the Second World Serbian officials, who instead east of the city. Prayers were
www.sywellclassic.co.uk War and set the scene for the put on a re-enactment of the also said in Princip’s honour in
horrific civil wars of the 1990s. shooting and subsequent trial, his hometown, Obljaj.
In the UK, the Queen
honoured WWI volunteers by
TO SERBS, GAVRILO PRINCIP WAS A attending the Drumhead Service
of Remembrance at the Royal


was led by the Bishop of London

THE HATED AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN EMPIRE and held 100 years to the day
after the Archduke’s death.

Imperial War Museum A

fter a six-month closure and
a £40million refurbishment,
AND DON’T FORGET completes £40m facelift London’s Imperial War Museum

THESE EVENTS LATER New atrium and WWI-themed galleries now open
re-opened in July to coincide with the
centenary of the outbreak of WWI. The

IN THE YEAR… centrepiece of the new-look museum is

an atrium – the former sepulchral hall –
designed by Foster + Partners. It features
2 NOVEMBER an array of military exhibits, ranging
Northern Military Expo from a Spitfire and a Harrier Jump Jet
More than 200 trade stands will suspended from the celling, to V1 and V2
sell everything from vehicles and rockets, artillery pieces, tanks and vehicles
parts to militaria, medals and more. arrayed around its walls, like a giant
Newark Showground, Notts. war-themed wine rack. In all, there are
www.northernmilitaryexpo.co.uk 400 pieces on display in the atrium,
60 of which have never been seen before.
9 NOVEMBER The museum also has a number of
National Act of Remembrance new WWI galleries featuring more than
The Royal Family will lay wreaths at 1,300 weapons, uniforms and pieces
the Cenotaph, and there will be a two- of military equipment, plus a range of
gun salute and a veterans’ parade. artwork and photos. The latter include
Horse Guards Parade, London shots of soldiers from various nations
across the British Empire, and show the
29-30 NOVEMBER war as a truly global conflict. There’s even
Birmingham International Tattoo a recreation trench, with a Sopwith Camel
Experience military bands from around and a Mark IV tank looming overhead.
the world, plus dancers, a field-gun The new galleries were unveiled by
competition and motorcycle displays. Prince William, the patron of the museum,
National Indoor Arena, Birmingham. who commented that they vividly bring
www.birminghamtattoo.co.uk home the brutal realities of the First
World War, and demonstrate why it’s still
relevant a hundred years later.

Make your thoughts and opinions known by writing
to History Of War. Email historyofwar@anthem-
publishing.com or send letters to the address below

Dear Sir,
Dear Sir,
important – on your follow-up feature on the
battles that took place in the bocage (issue five,
July 2014). Oh, so often, people assume that
Concerning the Tet Offensive article in your Thank you for the start of your series on once the D-Day landings had taken place, the
May issue, I understand that the writer was Weapons That Have Changed History (issue Second World War was effectively over in France.
trying to be objective and present both sides of six, August 2014). I was particularly interested But of course, there was a great deal of fighting,
the issue. But as I read it from the perspective in the piece about the Colt M1911 automatic suffering and dying to come as the Allies made
of an American college student of draft age pistol, which I believe to be a legendary gun their way towards Paris and then on to Germany
in l968, I felt that the article neglected the that has played a vital role in military history. to end the conflict once and for all. I would like
emotions of the times. General William My grandfather fought in Vietnam and swore by to see further coverage of the war after D-Day
Westmoreland had just delivered an incredibly his M1911; he even bought me a replica for my in your magazine. As an aside, I would also like
overly optimistic report on the progress of the 18th birthday. Please continue with this series, to see you expand your coverage of conflicts
war to Congress in November l967. Then, less and do include other era-defining handguns. other than the two World Wars. I appreciate
than three months later, the Viet Cong took the David Bishop Cambridge, Massachusetts that the First and Second World Wars were the
second-largest city of South Vietnam, Hué, and most significant historical events of all time, but
captured large sections of the capital, Saigon.
What would be said if an American guerrilla
force captured Chicago and large sections of
Dear Sir,
there’s so much coverage on television and in
other magazines that we’re in danger of believing
that these wars were the be all and end all.
Washington DC or New York? The body counts Well done on your recent feature on the D-Day So please expand your remit even further!
the author referred to were widely believed to landings (issue four, June 2014) and – just as Brian Peabody via email
be fabricated. In the cynical view of the times,
“Once they’re dead, they’re all VC.” The higher As Brian points out, the Second
the body count, the more likely the officer who World War didn’t end on D-Day
reported it would be promoted. Polishing the
resumé with a year’s combat experience. We
referred to it as “the one and done mindset”.
Mark Ehrlich Houston, Texas

Dear Sir,
I’ve just finished reading my father’s copy of the
August issue of History of War, with its focus
on the First World War. As a young historian
(I’m studying history at university), I was taken
aback by the levels of carnage endured by the
men who fought during the Great War, and the
bravery they exhibited in the face of death or
severe injury. How terrifying it must have been
to witness the shelling and the gas attacks that
World War One has become associated with.
Hard as it must be to write about such things,
I hope you continue to educate and illuminate.
Vanessa Peacock via email

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Second World War: The battle for the Soviet city of
Stalingrad from August 1942 to February 1943 became
a symbol for the entire struggle on the Eastern Front.
Adolf Hitler staked more and more on its capture,
but Vasily Chuikov’s 62nd Army refused to yield…

Devastated buildings can be seen in the

background as soldiers advance across
the city. Up to two million men and women
died during the seven-month battle

BACKSTORY talingrad, originally known By 1941, Stalingrad was a city of Stalingrad. It was marked on military
In an attempt to as Tsaritsyn, had prospered some 600,000 people. It had played maps as Point 102.0 and provided
gain a foothold in the 19th Century as a role in Stalin’s industrial drive of the a magnificent observation site – so
on the Eastern a trading town on the Volga 1930s, and its location on the Volga much so that in weeks of hand-to-hand
Front, Germany had river. During the Russian ensured that it was a vital cog in the fighting, neither side would concede
invaded the Soviet Civil War (1918-21), the Soviet war economy. It was a valuable it. The northern end of the city was
Union on 22 June
Reds had triumphed political, economic, communications and Stalingrad’s industrial heart. Here lay
1941, breaking
the non-aggression there. Joseph Stalin’s contribution to that psychological objective. However, if the the Dzerzhinsky Tractor Factory and
pact signed by the success was marginal but, once he’d Red Army was to fight a major battle of the Barrikady Ordnance Factory. In
two countries in achieved supreme power in 1925 and annihilation, Stalingrad – like Moscow front of the Barrikady lay the Silikat
1939. The Nazis named the city after himself, the history in 1941 – was an ideal place to do so. Factory. Due south lay the Red October
had initially made books were manipulated and his role in The uneven terrain west of the city was steelworks. Stalingrad’s workers lived
rapid progress, but the victory enhanced. By the 1930s, he not ideal for rapid movement. Stalingrad in huge settlements that, together with
their endeavours had was credited as having played a part in itself, with its sprawling apartment blocks the factories, amounted to a massive
left their resources both the October Revolution of 1917 and and factories, ensured that agile combat fortified position. The southern end
depleted. So Hitler
the triumph at Tsaritsyn. Stalingrad was dependent on the smooth integration of the city was defined by the Tsaritsa
set in motion
a two-pronged thus indelibly associated with Stalin and of air power, armour and infantry – the river, which flowed east into the Volga
attack: on oil-rich the Russian Revolution, a dimension that secret of German success – would be beneath Stalingrad-1 railway station.
Baku, and the influenced both Adolf Hitler and Stalin’s next to impossible. The city’s odd shape In the southern suburbs of Minina and
city of Stalingrad. approach to the Battle of Stalingrad. also undermined the Wehrmacht’s ability Yelshanka, General Hermann Hoth’s 4th
to defeat the Red Army by the traditional Panzer Army confronted Major-General
German method of encirclement. As Mikhail Shumilov’s 64th Army, which

Stalingrad's odd it nestled on the western bank of the

Volga, Stalingrad stretched for 25 miles
was protecting 62nd Army’s left flank. A
few miles east lay the Volga, presenting

shape undermined the but was only five miles wide. The Volga,
more than half a mile wide, meant that
both the threat of a watery grave and a
source of survival for the Soviet troops.

Wehrmacht's ability to if the Wehrmacht wanted to encircle the

city, a major amphibious operation would Greeted with derision
defeat the Red Army by be necessary. This ensured that, unless
there was a dramatic collapse by the
General Friedrich Paulus and his
divisional commanders remained

the traditional German Red Army, German troops would be

forced into a prolonged frontal assault.
confident – perhaps too confident –
in the prowess of German arms. 6th

method of encirclement The Mamayev Kurgan, an ancient

Tartar burial mound, loomed over central
Army had chased its Soviet foe across
the Steppe, and the idea of defeat at
Stalingrad was greeted with derision.
Equally, many Soviet commanders
doubted the Red Army’s ability to defeat
the Wehrmacht, including General
A. I. Lopatin, commander of 62nd
Army, charged with defending the city.
On 12 September 1942, Lieutenant-
General Vasily Chuikov replaced
Lopatin. Since June 1941, Chuikov had
acted as the Soviet military attaché in
China but, upon his return to active

Getty Images

command in June 1942, he had inflicted
a tactical setback on 4th Panzer Army As Soviet troops reeled through the Yelshanka district. The
aim was to encircle and destroy their
as the commander of 64th Army. Chuikov
was a bloody-minded individual who under the German prospective opponents before uniting
for a drive on 62nd Army’s vital landing
was more of a natural fighter than his
German counterpart, Paulus. A scruffy, onslaught, Chuikov stage on the Volga. If successful, 62nd
Army would be isolated on the western
ill-tempered character, he led from the
front with commitment allied to an acute was in danger of losing bank of the river and at the mercy of 6th
Army. By afternoon, Chuikov’s command
“feel” for battle. Throughout September
and October 1942, Chuikov’s nerve
held in the darkest days of the struggle,
control of the battle position on the Mamayev Kurgan had
been destroyed. As Soviet troops reeled
under the German onslaught, Chuikov
as he eventually led his men to victory. was in danger of losing control of the
Chuikov believed that he had went in, the infantry held back. Once battle. However, certain that the German
discerned a German weakness of in battle, they demonstrated great objective was the landing stage, he
great relevance to fighting in an urban cohesion; however, while such a modus committed his last available tactical
environment. He had noticed that until operandi was ideal for the open steppe, reserve – a tank brigade with just 19
their air power attacked, the armour it was alien to the confines of a city. tanks – to block the German advance.
hung back, and that until the panzers Chuikov concluded that 62nd Army Simultaneously, Chuikov informed his
must break the German chain of commander, Colonel-General Andrei
operations. The Luftwaffe’s ability to Yeremenko, that unless he received
roam the skies had to be undermined reserves, 62nd Army would be defeated.
A 50mm mortar of 13th
Guards Rifle Division fires to force German armour and infantry to As dusk fell on 14 September 1942,
on German positions in come forwards on their own. His tactical Major-General Aleksandr Rodimtsev’s
Stalingrad. Much of the city solution was to order the Soviet infantry 13th Guards Division lined up on the
was reduced to rubble by to “hug” their German counterparts to eastern bank of the Volga. As the sound
the German bombardments
and air attacks deny the Luftwaffe its usual opportunity of battle echoed across the river, few
to devastate the enemy’s front line. The of Rodimtsev’s men could ignore the
Luftwaffe remained a huge influence on implications of what lay ahead. The
the battle, paralysing daytime movement 13th Guards counted 10,000 men
and communications, but it was not the and, at 7pm, received formal orders to
decisive influence it had been in previous cross the Volga. The objective was to
battles. Chuikov’s orders gave 62nd secure the landing stage, retake the
Army a valuable tactical ploy but, on 14 Mamayev Kurgan and deny the Germans
September 1942, Soviet troops found possession of Stalingrad-1 railway
themselves scrambling to survive. station. As the division landed, the lead
battalions encountered German infantry.
First attacks But after a short yet intense fight, 13th
6th Army’s first assault was led by Guards Division moved quickly to the
Lieutenant-General Walther von Seydlitz- south-eastern slopes of the Mamayev
Kurzbach’s LI Corps in a two-pronged Kurgan and dug in at Stalingrad-1
assault towards the north and centre station. At dawn on 15 September, 71st
of the city. Three infantry divisions and 295th Infantry Divisions attacked
(71st, 76th and 295th) spearheaded 13th Guards Division, while, to the
the south-easterly drive of LI Corps. south of the Tsaritsa, 4th Panzer Army
On the southern bank of the Tsaritsa, smashed into the Minina and Yelshanka
24th Panzer and 94th Infantry Divisions suburbs. The fighting raged: Stalingrad-1
attacked through the Minina suburbs railway station changed hands 15 times.
while, to their right, 14th Panzer and On 16 September, 13th Guards Division
29th Motorised Infantry Divisions moved temporarily drove back 71st Infantry

Key figures

Following the death of Commander of 62nd Army, Paulus helped co-ordinate Held in high esteem by Zhukov was made Deputy While he was only a soldier
Bolshevik leader Vladimir Chuikov was tasked with the plan to invade the both the Axis forces and Commander in Chief of (94th Infantry Division,
Lenin in 1924, Stalin defending Stalingrad from Soviet Union and, as the Allies, von Manstein the Soviet Army in August 6th Army), Hoffman played
outmanoeuvred his rivals the German forces. His General of 6th Army, led was appointed commander 1942. Along with Aleksandr a key role at Stalingrad –
to take control of the tactic of “hugging the some 250,000 men towards of the newly formed Army Vasilevsky, he planned the by chronicling the battle
party. By 1929, he was enemy” – fighting in close Stalingrad. Following Group Don, which was Stalingrad counter-offensive in his journal. It remains
the supreme leader of the quarters – minimised the the German surrender, tasked with mounting a Operation Uranus, which one of the few unaltered
Soviet Union, a position enemy’s superior firepower he was taken prisoner relief operation (Winter encircled 6th Army. Zhukov German accounts of WWII,
he held until his death and made things difficult and later gave evidence Storm) to reinforce the is the most decorated and is often quoted in
following a stroke in 1953. for Luftwaffe bombers. at the Nuremberg Trials. German hold on Stalingrad. officer in Soviet history. books and TV programmes.

The aftermath of a Stuka
attack on Stalingrad seen
from one of the attacking
aircraft on 2 October 1942.
Vasily Chuikov (with pencil),
The Volga river is visible on
commander of 62nd Army, which
the left of the photograph
was isolated on the left bank of
the Volga for many months by
General Friedrich Paulus’ forces

Division and cleared German troops

from the vicinity of the landing stages.
w STALINGRAD To the south of the Mamayev Kurgan,
13th Guards Division had lost its fight
if 62nd Army’s tactical position had been
stabilised north of the Tsaritsa, on the
However, on 17 September, the balance A NEW FILM for Stalingrad-1 railway station. 62nd southern bank it was deteriorating in the
of the battle tipped in favour of the ABOUT THE Army’s left flank was folding as the face of 4th Panzer Army’s assault.
Germans as 76th Infantry Division BATTLE OF German 71st Infantry Division sought The objective of 4th Panzer Army was
entered the fight. By 19 September, 71st STALINGRAD, to swing north to meet 76th and 295th to reach the Volga and split Chuikov’s
Infantry Division had secured the station SIMPLY TITLED Infantry Divisions. Its aim was to 62nd Army from Shumilov’s 64th Army.
and had the landing stage under fire. STALINGRAD, encircle and annihilate the remnants On the extreme right, 14th Panzer and
Rodimtsev’s 13th Guards Division, which HAS JUST BEEN of 13th Guards Division. In the early 29th Motorised Infantry Divisions had
had stood 10,000-strong, now numbered RELEASED ON hours of 23 September, 2,000 men split the two Soviet armies. However,
just 2,700, but Soviet defences,
DVD. SEE OUR of Lieutenant-Colonel Nikolay Batyuk’s 24th Panzer and 94th Infantry Divisions
although buckled, had not broken. 284th Rifle Division crossed the Volga faced tougher opposition. The combined
and fought their way into the city. They efforts of the Soviet 35th Guards
Collapsing buildings were to support 13th Guards Division Division with 42nd Infantry Brigade and
The fight on the Mamayev Kurgan was and bolster Colonel V. A. Gorishny’s 92nd Naval Infantry Brigade ensured
equally intense. The German 295th 95th Division on the Mamayev Kurgan. that a bitter struggle developed for
Infantry Division had made a massive Ironically, as Batyuk’s men landed, a the dominant local landmark, a huge
effort to drive Colonel I. P. Solugub’s Luftwaffe air strike provided cover as concrete grain silo close to the Volga.
112th Division off this vital tactical smoke, dust and collapsing buildings The silo was the lynchpin of the Soviet
position. Its capture would give the combined to serve as a temporary defence south of the Tsaritsa, offering
Germans clear observation of both diversion. At 10am on 23 September, excellent observation as well as being
the left and right wings of 62nd Army’s 284th Siberian and 13th Guards a powerful defensive bastion. For
defence, and permit the accurate Divisions counter-attacked and drove the several days, 30 Soviet marines and 20
direction of air strikes and artillery German 71st Infantry Division away from guardsmen held it against three German
fire. Chuikov later recalled that, the landing stage. Their drive was halted divisions, but eventually it was taken.
on the night of 15/16 September, short of Stalingrad-1 railway station, Wilhelm Hoffman of the German 94th
“We were all concerned about the but their efforts enabled Chuikov to Infantry Division recalled, “Our battalion,
fate of the Mamayev Kurgan. If the re-establish some control. However, plus tanks, is attacking the elevator, from
enemy took it, he could command which smoke is pouring – the grain in
the whole city and the Volga.”
At dawn on 16 September, Chuikov
ordered a Soviet attack on the A German MG34 heavy machine
summit of the Mamayev Kurgan. gun during the battle for Stalingrad.
Two Soviet regiments fought their The geographical layout of the city
along the banks of the Volga meant
way to the summit, but were driven that the Germans were forced
off by a combined Luftwaffe and German into a costly frontal assault
infantry attack. Nevertheless, the
Soviet infantry held on and by 20
September, the German assault had
eased, with Soviet and German troops
camped on either side of the summit.

RED ARMY OFFICER This officer is wearing the

new-pattern winter uniform that was introduced in
1941. By late 1942, his telogreika – a padded khaki
jacket – was in common usage, even in areas where
the winters were not that severe, such as Stalingrad.
He wears the matching padded trousers, valenki felt boots
and “fish-fur” cap, or shapka-ushank – so-called because
the material it was manufactured from bore very little
relation to real fur. He carries a small canvas musette
bag, which would have included a small map case.
Soviet binoculars were of remarkably good quality,
and he probably carries a pair of 8X30 BPCs.


The claustrophobic
two combined brigades were short of
Monument to a rest, ammunition, food and water. By 26

titanic struggle nature of street fighting

September, 24th Panzer Division had
reached the Volga and brought 62nd

in a ruined city made

No matter where you stand in Volgograd (as Army’s main landing stage under fire.
Stalingrad is known today), it’s hard to miss In tactical terms, even if the Germans

the Wehrmacht's
the Mamayev Kurgan, the massive hill that had not driven 62nd Army into the Volga,
looms imperiously over the city. And that’s 6th Army had made substantial gains.

large-scale, multi-unit
the way it should be, because the landmark Hoth’s 4th Panzer Army had shouldered
provides a permanent and poignant reminder 64th Army aside, thus isolating Chuikov’s
of one of the bloodiest battles in history;
operations a liability
62nd Army. It had also gained control
a battle that saw hundreds of thousands of of a five-mile section of the Volga
men and women lose their lives, and provided

rather than an asset

the Allies with a crucial tactical advantage
bank south of the Tsaritsa. In central
on the Eastern Front. Stalingrad, German forces had captured
Marked on military maps as Point 102.0, the rail station, driven the Soviets back
Mamayev Kurgan (the name in Russian to the Volga’s edge and pushed them
means “tumulus of Mamai”) provides a it is burning; the Russians seem to have off the summit of the Mamayev Kurgan.
magnificent vantage point over the city, and set light to it themselves. Barbarism. The Red Army’s counter-attacks within
was therefore seen by both the Germans and The battalion is suffering heavy losses. the city and on 6th Army’s northern flank
the Soviets as a vital strategic stronghold. There are not more than 60 men left in had been defeated, while 62nd Army’s
Between September 1942 and the end of
the battle in February 1943, the hill changed w BLOOD ON
each company. The elevator is occupied
not by men, but by devils that no flames
bridgehead on the western bank of the
Volga was now confined to the industrial
hands many times, with countless casualties THE STREETS
suffered on both sides. Following the battle, or bullets can destroy.” areas of Stalingrad.
it was discovered that the soil on the hill (THEN KNOWN The battle for the elevator, first Yet, as German commanders and
had been so thoroughly churned by shellfire AS TSARITSYN) engaged on 17 September, raged until soldiers surveyed the destruction
that it contained between 500 and 1,250 WAS THE SCENE 22 September, when a relieved Hoffman of Stalingrad, it did not feel like a
splinters of metal per square metre, and even OF ANOTHER gasped that, “Russian resistance in the victory. The Red Army’s tenacity had
today it’s possible to find fragments of bone FIERCE CONFLICT elevator has been broken. Our troops are shocked many German soldiers, who
and metal buried on the site. DURING THE advancing towards the Volga. We found quickly realised that the Soviets were
Also buried on the hill are Vasily Chuikov, RUSSIAN CIVIL about 40 Russian dead in the elevator determined to fight to the death. The
commander of the Soviet 62nd Army, and WAR BETWEEN
sniper Vasily Zaytsev, who is reckoned to have building… The whole of our battalion Wehrmacht had demonstrated its
BOLSHEVIK has as many men as a regular company. outstanding fighting qualities in the
killed 225 Axis soldiers during the Battle of FORCES AND
Stalingrad, and who was portrayed by Jude THE WHITE ARMY Our old soldiers have never experienced open field, where its ability to integrate
Law in the 2001 film Enemy At The Gates. (1918-1921). such bitter fighting before.” armour, air power and infantry with rapid
In 1967, Soviet artist Yevgeny Vuchetich MORE THAN As the silo fell, the Soviet position movement and bold leadership had won
was commissioned to design a sculpture for 200,000 PEOPLE deteriorated. 35th Guards Division had it a stream of victories. However, the
the top of the hill. Known as “The Motherland WERE KILLED. been worn down, while the remaining claustrophobic nature of street fighting
Calls!”, the statue of a woman raising a
sword in her right hand was, at the time of
its installation, the largest free-standing
Soviet sailors – who
sculpture in the world, and it remains the fought alongside their
tallest sculpture of a woman in the world. army colleagues and
Two-hundred steps from the bottom of the hill also operated the Volga
to the foot of the statue commemorate the river-crossing craft –
200 days that the Battle of Stalingrad lasted. are seen here joining
the Communist Party.
Only families of party
members were notified
if their son was killed

1941 1942 The Battle of Stalingrad timeline

Germany launches After major setbacks, Case Blue begins, Before invading Andrei Yeremenko is As the German 6th German ground
Operation Barbarossa, and with German with 4th Panzer Army Stalingrad, the German named commander of Army, under General forces launch their
with the intention resources depleted, marching towards Luftwaffe embarks the South-Eastern Front. Friedrich Paulus, first attacks on
of taking control of Adolf Hitler lays the city of Voronezh, on a six-day bombing He and commissar reaches the outskirts Stalingrad. Fierce
the Soviet Union in out plans for a new seen as a key staging campaign of Soviet Nikita Khrushchev are of Stalingrad, the fighting ensues as
a matter of months campaign, “Case point for an attack ships on the Volga tasked with planning Luftwaffe bombs the they wrestle Soviet
using blitzkrieg tactics. Blue”, aimed at taking on Stalingrad. Voronezh river. The river is seen Stalingrad’s defence. city. Many buildings troops for control of
control of the oil- is under complete Axis as vital for bringing They appoint Vasily are destroyed, while the Mamayev Kurgan
rich Caucasus region, control by 24 July. supplies into the city. Chuikov to lead that the Soviets lose more and the Stalingrad-1
including Stalingrad. defence with 62nd Army. than 200 planes. railway station.

in a ruined city made the Wehrmacht’s
large-scale, multi-unit operations a
liability rather than an asset.
The ability of the Wehrmacht to REAL SURNAME
devolve command down to divisional WAS DJUGASVILI
commanders had given it the agility BUT, DURING
and speed to humiliate its opponents A SPELL IN
in manoeuvre warfare. If this key PRISON, HE
German principle was to be retained in ADOPTED THE
Stalingrad, however, authority had to be NAME STALIN
delegated to regimental, even battalion, (“MAN OF STEEL”)
commanders. On the other hand, as the
battle of Stalingrad developed into a HIS IMAGE.
continuous struggle between hundreds
of small units, it became incompatible
with a single, decisive victory. In their
attempt to deliver a victory on this scale,
senior German commanders undermined
the flexibility that had played such a key
role in earlier triumphs. By persistently
planning the conduct of operations – even A Soviet mortar team in action.
within a city – around the coordination By 26 September 1942, German forces
had captured the railway station in
of several division-sized units, the central Stalingrad and had driven the
commanders inadvertently imposed upon defenders back to the Volga’s edge
6th Army the positional and attritional
battle they were seeking to avoid.
As Paulus’ 6th Army prepared for senior commanders, such as Georgy
Brilliantly disguised another encounter on Stalingrad’s Zhukov, Aleksandr Vasilevsky, Konstantin
The heavily centralised Soviet command barricades, the latent, simmering conflict Rokossovsky and Nikolai Vatutin, greater
system had struggled to cope with between Hitler and Colonel-General scope to display their talents.
the speed of German operations Franz Halder, Chief of the Army General As Paulus redeployed the main body
in open country, but adapted with Staff, exploded into open acrimony. of 6th Army to the centre and north of
greater success to the peculiar military On 24 September, Halder was sacked the city, the full complement of 284th
environment that was Stalingrad. 62nd and replaced by General Kurt Zeitzler. Siberian Division made its way across
Army’s isolation on the western bank Halder had long resented Hitler’s the Volga. It was integrated into the
of the Volga actually gave Chuikov an capricious military insights, and his Soviet line between the Mamayev
unusual degree of tactical freedom inability to see beyond Stalingrad. Kurgan and the Red October steelworks.
while, at the operational and strategic To Halder, a battle of annihilation The Red Army’s ability to provide 62nd
level, the South-Eastern Front and on the Volga – which, even if Army with supplies and men from the
Stavka provided the resources. victorious, was likely to be eastern shore was a critical factor at
Chuikov dispensed with the customary indecisive in strategic terms – was Stalingrad. As Paulus’ 6th Army and
organisational units of division, brigade military madness. However, the Hoth’s 4th Panzer Army bled, Chuikov’s
and regiment. The basic Soviet fighting more Halder voiced his doubts, the 62nd Army was nourished and sustained
unit became the “shock group” of more obsessed Hitler became with by the Volga naval flotilla under the
50-80 men, who moved with a speed victory. Stalin’s city – the one he had command of Rear Admiral Dmitry
and flexibility that was immediately named for himself – was to be taken. Rogachev. His force included hundreds
noted by German troops. Soviet tanks That was Hitler’s strategy. Victory of civilian craft, and this miniature
did not attempt elaborate manoeuvres, at Stalingrad would demonstrate naval armada fought a constant battle
but acted as armoured bulwarks, the superior racial qualities of the of attrition with the Luftwaffe. As it
often brilliantly disguised in the rubble Aryan over the Slav, thus inducing the delivered thousands of tonnes of food
of ruined buildings. destruction of the Soviet Union. Hitler and ammunition, and men to the western
These tactics, in conjunction with the was descending into the ideological bank, all manner of fishing craft played
Soviet artillery on the eastern bank, strait-jacket that increasingly made the a deadly game of cat and mouse with
and the Luftwaffe’s inability to close conduct of rational military operations Manfred von Richthofen’s Air Fleet 4.
the Volga, were to play a critical role all but impossible. It’s ironic that, as A daytime crossing was suicidal, but
in frustrating German hopes of a rapid the Führer denied his commanders night brought the risk of collisions with
victory. By 26 September 1942, however, the flexibility they had become other craft or sunken wrecks moving
the Wehrmacht remained confident, if accustomed to, Stalin allowed his in the Volga’s dark currents.
no longer arrogant, in its assumption of The intimate local knowledge of
victory. As the Germans launched their the river possessed by Rogachev’s
second major assault on 27 September
WEHRMACHT OFFICER A German Sergeant of
patchwork crews proved invaluable in
an assault artillery regiment. He has been awarded
1942, few Soviet soldiers thought the Knight’s Cross, Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class, sustaining 62nd Army, but it would have
of victory, rather mere survival. General Assault Badge and Wound Badge.

In a speech at the In a renewed effort The Soviet forces With the German 6th Following von Seven days after the Ignoring Hitler’s order
Berlin Sportpalast, to weaken Soviet launch Operation Army surrounded, Manstein’s advice, last German-controlled to commit suicide,
Adolf Hitler declares resistance, the Uranus, a major Field Marshal Erich the Germans launch airfield is taken by the Paulus – now a Field
that German forces will Luftwaffe flies 2,000 counter-offensive von Manstein sends Operation Winter Soviets, cutting off Marshal – surrenders,
never leave Stalingrad. sorties, dropping designed to exploit the a message to Hitler, Storm, with 4th Panzer their supplies, further effectively ending
around 550 tons Germans’ inadequate advising him that they Army attempting attacks split Paulus’ the battle. Up to a
of bombs on Red winter resources and should not attempt to to break the Soviet 6th Army into two hundred thousand
Army positions. finally drive them out of break out, and that, encirclement. pockets of men. German soldiers
the Caucasus region. with reinforcements, The plan fails. are taken prisoner.
they can hold out.


4 The second assault is

supported by XVI Panzer
Corps of 60th Motorised
and 16th Panzer Division
16 PZ
attacking from the north.
60 MOT

26 SEPT 1942




3 In the second
phase of the battle
on 27 September, the
Germans shift their main 71
effort into the factory
district in an effort to
capture the landing
stages behind them.

1 LI Corps of 76, 71
and 295 Infantry
Divisions launches its
first assault on the city
on 14 September in an
attempt to capture the
Mamayev Kurgan and the
central landing stage.

The Battle of
23 August 1942 – 2 February 1943
6 Throughout October, the
Germans maintain their
pressure in the factory district,
Y bringing 90 per cent of the city
under their control. The last major
German attack begins on 11
November. Eight days later, the
Soviets launch Operation Uranus,
cutting off 6th Army in the city.

ARMY HQ 5 Although the 62nd
Army HQ is on the
eastern side of the river,
KRASNAYA Chuikov’s command post
SLOBODA remains in Soviet-held
Stalingrad throughout.




24 PZ
2 4th Panzer
Army attacks in
support of the initial
14 PZ
assault in the south of
the city, but is held up
by fanatical resistance
around the grain silo.

29 MOT

WAR 27
counted for nothing if Soviet troops GERMAN TANK
had failed to defend the crucial landing The StuG III assault gun
stages dotted along the western shore was a conversion of a PzKpfw III
of the Volga. This was the crucible tank armed with a 75mm (2.95in) gun. The
vehicle’s lack of a turret gave it a low silhouette.
of the Battle of Stalingrad. If the
Luftwaffe severed the Volga artery,
then 62nd Army’s fate was inevitable. If
Rogachev’s men – Stalingrad’s unsung to breach the enemy’s
heroes – could defy the Luftwaffe, position, be it a building or
Paulus’ jaded 6th Army would wither trench. Its weapons were
while Chuikov’s 62nd Army would survive short-barrelled machine
the ordeal. The Luftwaffe retained its guns, grenades, daggers,
tactical superiority over the Red Air shovels and clubs. The
Force to the bitter end at Stalingrad, but commanding officer of the storm
could not close the Volga. This played group, who was also in overall command
a key role in the Soviets’ overall victory. of the shock group, carried a signal
rocket to be fired when the storm group
Speed and agility was inside the enemy position. This
As 62nd Army’s reconnaissance network signal would activate the reinforcement
detected the German 6th Army’s group of 20-25 men, whose mission was
preparations to attack, the impudent to deliver the killing blow to the enemy
Chuikov planned a counter-attack on the troops and secure the objective against
Mamayev Kurgan. This was scheduled immediate counter-attack – a German
Fighting in the rubble
for dawn on 27 September, and Chuikov’s speciality. The reinforcement group was
of Stalingrad. The city was formal orders stressed, “I again warn very heavily armed, being equipped
a hazardous battlefield: the commanders of all units and with light and heavy machine guns,
as well as snipers, artillery formations not to carry out operations grenades, daggers, anti-tank rifles and
and aircraft attacks,
soldiers had to be wary of
in battle by whole units like companies mortars, as well as explosives. A Soviet
collapsing buildings and battalions. The offensive should be reinforcement group always contained
organised chiefly on the basis of small at least two combat engineers, who
groups with tommy guns, hand grenades, had a critical role in demolition and
bottles of incendiary mixture and anti- the erection of rudimentary defensive
w tank rifles.” Chuikov understood that the obstacles once the target was secure.
The aftermath LUFTWAFFE
deadly intimacy of fighting at such close
quarters made it imperative that Soviet
Once into the enemy position, the
reinforcement group was naturally
of Stalingrad THE GERMAN
fighting power must be organised around
small, heavily armed infantry teams that
followed by the reserve group of 30-50
men, to be used as a blocking force
While the German forces surrendered on
2 February 1943, Russian records indicate DURING THE could operate with speed and agility. against counter-attack and as a handy
that around 11,000 German soldiers BATTLE OF During the Battle of Stalingrad, the source of combat reserves should
continued to fight in isolated groups across STALINGRAD – shock group evolved as the the first two groups experience
the city for another month, many bedded AROUND 50 PER main Soviet formation. It was a sustained opposition. It was their
into sewers and cellars. For those men, CENT OF THE semi-autonomous unit designed responsibility to establish an
it was a simple choice: fight on or face a AIRCRAFT THEY to act independently in pursuit of all-round defence. Machine-
slow death in Soviet captivity. However, by USED IN THE
CAMPAIGN. objectives that were devolved gunners, mortar and anti-tank crews
early March, exhausted and outnumbered, down the chain of command would quickly deploy on the ground
the last remnants had laid down their arms.
from Chuikov. A shock floor, while other soldiers scrambled
For Germany, the defeat at Stalingrad
was a disaster, both in terms of its military group consisted of 50-80 onto the upper floor to gain better
significance (it was, effectively, the turning men, depending on the observation and establish fields
point on the Eastern Front) and the casualties nature of its mission, of fire. Combat engineers would
suffered (around 850,000 Axis soldiers and was broken down then lay mines to channel enemy
are believed to have been killed, injured or into three sub-units: attacks into these fields of fire.
captured during the battle). Accordingly, the storm group, the The aim of the
it was the first time the Nazi government reinforcement group shock group was to
publicly acknowledged a failure in its war and the reserve group. hold its objective
effort – on 31 January, German state radio Fighting in the Red
October steelworks in The storm group for up to 48 hours,
even replaced its usual programming with October 1942. The plant
a recording of the sombre Adagio movement was usually made up of by which time it could
and its surrounds were
from Anton Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony, reduced to tangled
ten men and was the be integrated into the overall
followed by news of the defeat at Stalingrad. wreckage by the weeks spearhead of the shock regimental, divisional and army
And just two weeks after the of constant fighting group. Its role was position. This was the method
surrender, on 18 February, Minister by which Chuikov’s sorely
of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels told tried men fought the Battle
a large audience gathered at the of Stalingrad. The German 6th
Berlin Sportpalast that the German Army was a formidable opponent
people should prepare for a “total
and Soviet casualties were high,
war” – one that would require all of
their resources and efforts. especially among inexperienced
Meanwhile, a handful of German units, which had to learn quickly if
officers were taken to Moscow for they were to survive. Nevertheless,
propaganda purposes, and some Chuikov’s instructions gave 62nd
– including Paulus – signed anti- Army a fighting chance, and it wasn’t
Hitler statements that were later long before German soldiers began to
broadcast to German soldiers. While fear their Russian counterparts, who
Paulus assured families in Germany
that the soldiers taken prisoner
at Stalingrad were safe, it was
not until 1955 that the survivors AIR HERO A major of the Soviet Air Force,
were repatriated to West Germany. which was part of the Red Army. The red and
gold chevrons on the forearm show his rank.

were more at home in this shattered
environment. As the battle wore on,
Soviet infantrymen were trained for
and understood the messy, exhausting
nature of street fighting in a way the
German troops did not. ON 30 JANUARY
Nevertheless, 62nd Army’s dawn 1943, PAULUS
counter-attack on the Mamayev Kurgan WAS PROMOTED
was met by its old foe, the Luftwaffe. TO FIELD
Gorishny’s 95th Division was subjected MARSHAL, WITH
to a harrowing two-hour ordeal on HITLER TELLING
the summit while, to their left, 284th HIM THAT NO
Siberian and 13th Guards Divisions
HAD EVER A German MG34 machine-gun
made little impression on the German SURRENDERED. team in Stalingrad. Visible in the
lines. At 10.30am, Paulus unleashed THREE DAYS background is the grain elevator,
his retaliation on 62nd Army. A total of LATER, PAULUS where 50 Soviet soldiers held off
11 German divisions (14th, 16th and BUCKED attacks from three German divisions
24th Panzer; 29th and 60th Motorised THAT TREND.
Infantry; 71st, 79th, 94th, 295th and
389th Infantry; and 100th Jäger) moved
forward. As the Luftwaffe dominated
the airspace above Stalingrad, 16th Soviet infantrymen Volga.” But for all Chuikov’s insight into
the nature of the battle at Stalingrad and
Panzer Division and 389th Infantry
Division moved on the Dzerzhinsky were trained for and his astute tactical modifications, 62nd
Army was in danger of submitting before
Tractor Factory. 24th Panzer Division
attacked the Barrikady, while, on its understood the messy, it had fully got to grips with the changes
its commander was trying to introduce.
right side, 100th Jäger advanced
on the Red October plant. For 62nd exhausting nature of On the evening of 27 September,
Chuikov made it clear to both his front
Army, Gorishny’s 95th Division found
itself battling once again with its old street fighting in a way commander, Yeremenko, and Nikita
Khrushchev, the South-Eastern Front’s
German foe, 295th Infantry Division,
for possession of the Mamayev Kurgan. the German troops did not political commissar, that he needed
reserves and respite from the Luftwaffe.
The German 76th Infantry Division
held Stalingrad-1 railway station while, Mighty effort
from the south, 71st Infantry Division By the evening of 27 September, As the cover of night descended,
tried to move north along the bank of the the Soviet position had deteriorated Rogachev’s men worked tirelessly to
Volga and get in behind the Soviet 13th considerably. On all fronts, the German get Colonel F. N. Smekhotvorov’s 193rd
Guards and 284th Siberian. formations had made considerable Division over the Volga. Their success
progress. Soviet troops had been driven permitted Chuikov to deploy 193rd
Wehrmacht soldiers hitch a lift towards back towards the Dzerzhinsky Tractor Division among the outbuildings of the
the centre of Stalingrad on a StuG III Factory, where Solugub’s 112th Division Red October workers’ apartments and
assault gun. The conditions in the city was clinging on. 24th Panzer Division at the southern end of the Barrikady
itself did not suit armoured vehicles, had made short work of 189th Tank to meet 24th Panzer Division. At
which helped the Soviet defenders
Brigade and was moving on the Barrikady dawn, 284th Siberian Division counter-
site, while, to its right, 100th Jäger had attacked 295th Infantry Division on the
enjoyed a successful day against 23rd Mamayev Kurgan, but failed to make
Tank Corps. On the Mamayev Kurgan, the much impression, while, in the centre,
Soviet 95th Division appeared to be on Chuikov’s divisions waited for the main
the edge of defeat. The only consolation German blow. When it came, 62nd Army
for Chuikov was that, on his left flank, handled itself with considerably more
13th Guards and 284th Siberian aplomb than it had just 24 hours earlier.
Divisions stood firm – though both were In his memoirs, Chuikov commented
in danger of being left high and dry. that, throughout 28 September, the
At the end of a day that had begun German assault lacked the conviction,
with a cheeky Soviet counter-attack, the speed and agility of previous days.
Germans had advanced nearly 3,000 He was correct: the mighty effort of
yards and virtually destroyed 95th and 27 September – although it had brought
112th Divisions. Chuikov, a notorious 6th Army considerable rewards – had
optimist, noted in his diary, “One more resulted in severe casualties among
day like this and we will be in the senior non-commissioned officers

(NCOs) and junior officers. Indeed, to directly threatened on all sides, but away and, if the Germans reached it, the
sustain the momentum of 27 September, Chuikov refused to take troops from heart of 62nd Army would be ripped in
Paulus abandoned the frustrations of the centre of Stalingrad to chase a lost two, enabling the Germans to bring the
28 September by switching the main cause in the salient. It was clear that Red October plant’s landing stage under
German attack to the north-west corner the main focus of German operations fire. Chuikov’s command post, behind
of Stalingrad, where the Orlovka salient remained Stalingrad’s industrial heart. the Barrikady Ordnance Factory, was in
provided a tempting target.
The Orlovka salient intruded several
On 29 September, 24th Panzer
Division renewed its assault, and by the
danger from the west and north.
The Soviet position became more
kilometres into the German lines, THE BATTLE OF evening, Solugub’s hard-pressed 112th tenuous as the German 71st Division
but was virtually surrounded. On 29 STALINGRAD Division had retreated into the Silikat made a concerted effort to move north
September, General Hans Hube’s 16th WASN’T JUST factory to the west of the Barrikady up the bank of the Volga, seeking to
Panzer Division swept south to meet CONTESTED BY complex. To the immediate south, the encircle 112th and 193rd Divisions.
60th Motorised Division coming east. GERMAN AND German attack on the junction of the The latter, well aware that it was fighting
On 30 September, the pincers met and, SOVIET TROOPS southern end of the Barrikady and for its life, threw everything at 24th
with 389th Infantry Division coming – SOLDIERS northern end of the Red October site had Panzer Division, while a combination
north, the salient was easily snuffed out FROM ITALY, succeeded in driving a wedge between of 284th Siberian and 13th Guards
and the Soviet position in the northern CROATIA AND 112th Division’s left flank and the right Divisions moved to block 71st Infantry
areas of Stalingrad reduced to a narrow ROMANIA ALSO flank of Smekhotvorov’s 193rd Division. Division. In bitter fighting that cost it
sliver of land in the Rynok suburb. The FOUGHT, ON THE This was a critical development for both three regimental commanders and three
Dzerzhinsky Tractor Factory was now GERMAN SIDE. sides; the Volga was two-thirds of a mile battalion commanders in a matter of
hours, the menacing advance of 24th
Panzer Division was finally halted by
Smekhotvorov’s 193rd Division, while
71st Infantry Division’s progress north
was temporarily checked.

Depleted divisions
These successes, though dearly bought,
at least gained the Soviets time to
recover their wits and replenish their
depleted divisions before the final
German assault on the Dzerzhinsky
Tractor Factory and the Barrikady
Ordnance Factory. The night of 29/30
September saw Rogachev’s naval
flotilla breathe new life into 62nd Army.
Solugub’s smashed 112th Division
was moved out of the line and into
tactical reserve, and was replaced by
a combination of 39th Guards Division
and 308th Division. Major-General S. S.
Guriev’s 39th Guards Division, raised
from 5th Parachute Corps, contained
some of the toughest and most highly
committed troops in the Red Army. It
deployed to the west of the Red October
steelworks to support Smekhotvorov’s
193rd Division. To the right of 193rd
Division, Major-General L. N. Gurtiev’s
308th Division took over the positions
of Solugub’s 112th Division. Its left wing
was dug in between the northern area
of the Red October steelworks and the
Barrikady Ordnance Factory, while its
right wing buried itself into the south-
west corner of the Barrikady.
The Germans continued to probe 62nd
Army’s perimeter for the next few days
while they readied their main assault.
The Soviet line held. Indeed, the German
regrouping enabled the South-Eastern
Front to get more reserves across the
Volga to 62nd Army. On the night of 2
October, Major-General V. G. Zholudev’s
crack 37th Naval Guards Division,
specifically trained in the black art of
street fighting, appeared on 62nd Army’s
order of battle. The Red Army had been
sorely pressed in recent days, but the
fact that halfway through the second
German assault 62nd Army was actually
Any Soviet factory workers stronger than at the beginning of 6th
that remained in Stalingrad Army’s attack on 27 September reveals
became members of the
militia. Here, equipped with
a great deal about the Battle of
rifles, they fire at German Stalingrad. The ability of the South-
aircraft flying overhead Eastern Front to move around 15,000

The Soviet troops in
A Wehrmacht Stalingrad divided
soldier hangs themselves into small
out a swastika groups, which were
flag to identify ideal for the confused
his position to fighting in the city
Luftwaffe planes

reserves across the Volga illustrates

the Luftwaffe’s inability to achieve The German units though the rest of the Eastern Front
did not matter; victory or defeat in
the isolation of 62nd Army from the
operational and strategic resources that were subjected to a the East was to be measured by the
Wehrmacht’s ability to go the final mile
sustained it. As the strength of Paulus’
men diminished, that of Chuikov’s men crushing 40-minute at Stalingrad. Stalin, the Red Army and
the Soviet people shared this escalating
grew. This was the secret of the Red
Army’s triumph at Stalingrad. bombardment that obsession with this regional city on the
Volga. The world’s attention was fixed
Nevertheless, on 3 and 4 October,
62nd Army was again forced to give entirely disrupted on Stalingrad; this was the crucible of
World War II, a battle that would not be
ground as the new units struggled to
find their bearings and coordinate their their plan of attack forgotten, but one whose legacy would
endure for years, even decades to come.
defence. By 4 October, Chuikov believed On 14 October 1942, Hitler issued
that three German infantry and two Operations Order Number 1, which
panzer divisions were concentrated on Barrikady site. 94th Infantry Division’s stopped all German military operations
a frontage of barely three miles, covering experience in attacking the southern end on the Eastern Front, except those
the area from the Red October site to of the Barrikady tells its own story. to take Stalingrad. As the order was
the northern corner of the Dzerzhinsky w BLADE As Hoffman noted, ”Our battalion has dispatched, Paulus’ 6th Army launched
Tractor Factory. 14th Panzer Division had OF GLORY gone into the attack four times and its third massive assault.
been brought into the line west of the IN NOVEMBER got stopped each time.” As evening At 8am, Paulus launched three infantry
Barrikady, while 94th Infantry Division 1943, A drew on and the Germans massed for divisions (94th, 389th and 100th Jäger),
had deployed in the area between the CEREMONIAL a decisive assault on the Barrikady, supported by two panzer divisions (14th
Barrikady and the Red October. On LONGSWORD, Red Army artillery on the eastern bank, and 24th) that had four battalions of
5 October, the Germans made their THE “SWORD OF directed by artillery observers in the specialist combat engineers attached
supreme effort, and fierce fighting STALINGRAD”, city, intervened decisively. The German to them. In total, 90,000 men and 300
developed along the entire frontage of WAS HANDED TO units were subjected to a crushing tanks, with massive air support, drove
62nd Army’s position. However, despite 40-minute bombardment that entirely on 62nd Army. The German aim was to
massive support from the Luftwaffe, it’s VI OF ENGLAND disrupted their plan of attack. As Chuikov smash through to the Volga between
significant that only the relatively fresh IN HOMAGE TO recalled in his memoirs, not only the Barrikady and the Red October. The
and rested 14th Panzer Division made THE SOVIET was this attack prevented, but also, assault was to be led by 14th Panzer
any real impact by driving back 37th DEFENDERS “6 October passed without any particular Division against 37th Naval Guards
Naval Guards Division and capturing the OF THE CITY. enemy infantry and tank activity.” Division. On the latter’s right was the
Silikat factory on the western edge of the badly mauled 112th Division, with its
Sickening encounter right flank on the River Orlovka as it
As exhausted and shattered German flowed past the Tractor Factory to the
The Soviets attack near
Stalingrad. The waves of tanks units licked their wounds following the Volga. To the left was Gurtiev’s 308th
and infantry swept over the tired failure of this massive effort, General Division, deployed in the grounds of the
and cold defenders, and tightened Paulus ordered a pause in the fighting. Sculpture Park immediately west of the
the Soviet grip on the city Chuikov’s 62nd Army had survived Barrikady. Gorishny’s 95th Division was
another telling blow. It was beginning to deployed to the immediate rear of these
dawn on the soldiers and commanders two frontline units to act as a tactical
of the German 6th Army that the reserve. On 308th Division’s left was the
relatively easy victories of the past were battle-scarred 193rd Division, supported
gone forever. As a temporary lull settled by 284th Siberian Division. The extreme
over Stalingrad, both sides sensed left of 62nd Army’s position was held by
that the climax of the battle – both the veterans of 13th Guards Division.
physical and psychological – was rapidly The German assault was of a scale
approaching. To the Wehrmacht, defeat and ferocity not previously witnessed
was unthinkable and victory essential, in this most sickening of military
for Hitler’s gaze rested upon Stalingrad encounters. Chuikov’s HQ lost count of
with startling intensity. It was almost as the number of Luftwaffe attacks once

The determined
face of a decorated
German officer

A Soviet Colonel awards

decorations to his men in
a Stalingrad trench. Both
sides fought courageously
in awful conditions

the total passed 3,000. German armour German troops moved south from the
and infantry followed the Luftwaffe’s Tractor Factory, threatening the rear of
attacks with a menacing intensity, as
they concentrated their assault upon
37th Naval Guards Division and 95th
Division. Chuikov’s command post Hoffman commented
Zholudev’s 37th Naval Guards Division
and its junction with Gurtiev’s 308th
behind the Barrikady came under threat
as 62nd Army was forced back into the in his diary that
Division. By 11.30am, 14th Panzer
Division had punched a clean hole
area surrounding the Barrikady and the
Red October. On the night of 15/16 “fighting has been
through 37th Naval Guards Division, and
Chuikov admitted that more than 180
October, Chuikov finally received some
reinforcements when a single regiment going on continuously
enemy tanks had broken through and
were heading in the general direction of
of Colonel I. I. Lyudnikov’s 138th Siberian
Division made it across the Volga. for four days with
the Tractor and Barrikady factories. As
14th Panzer Division broke through, it Wreaked havoc unprecedented ferocity"
immediately swung north and enveloped There was little respite as 6th Army
Solugub’s 112th Division. The centre- sought to drive home its advantage in
right of 62nd Army’s position was the early hours of 16 October. 14th the south-west, Smekhotvorov’s 193rd
deteriorating by the minute. Solugub and Panzer, 100th Jäger and 305th Infantry Division and Guriev’s 39th Guards
Zholudev’s divisions had been decimated Divisions were to converge on the w PRISONERS Division managed to hold off the
in a matter of hours. At the same time, Barrikady and finish off 37th Naval OF WAR combined attacks of 24th Panzer and
308th Division’s right flank was exposed Guards and 95th and 308th Divisions. AT THE END OF 94th Infantry Divisions. To the west of
to attack while it was being engaged To the south and south-west, 24th Panzer THE BATTLE, the Barrikady, in the Sculpture Park,
to the west by 389th Infantry Division, Division and 94th Infantry Division UP TO 100,000 308th Division was struggling to retain
and as 100th Jäger sniped at its left were to focus on the area between the GERMAN TROOPS its position, but held the line.
flank. If and when 14th Panzer Division Barrikady and the Red October. The WERE TAKEN The Soviet position was bolstered on
moved south along the Volga, defeat and main burden of 14th Panzer Division’s PRISONER. the night of 16 October with the arrival of
complete collapse seemed inevitable. drive south down the Volga fell on 84th OF THOSE, the remaining regiments of Lyudnikov’s
ONLY 6,000
By midnight, Paulus’ 6th Army had Tank Brigade. However, as German 138th Siberian Division. They deployed
surrounded the Tractor Factory and tanks pressed home their attack, the RETURN TO on the right wing of Gurtiev’s 308th
had assault groups on the Volga, thus dug-in and brilliantly camouflaged Red GERMANY Division and the northern walls of the
splitting Chuikov’s 62nd Army for the Army T-34s wreaked havoc at point- FOLLOWING Barrikady. Chuikov ordered Lyudnikov to
third time. The intelligence Chuikov blank range. Less than a mile away to THE WAR. hold the junction with 308th Division.
had received from his reconnaissance Still the power of the German attack
units led him to believe continued as 14th Panzer Division bore
that the Germans’ ultimate A Soviet 76.2mm field gun in down again on 84th Tank Brigade, this
objective was the junction the workshop of the Tractor time with more success. In conjunction
of the Barrikady and the Red Works in Stalingrad. At such with an attack by the Luftwaffe, German
October sites. He refused close ranges, the weapon tanks, supported by infantry, swept
had a devastating effect
to send reserves after a lost through 84th Tank Brigade’s position.
cause in the Tractor Factory, Chuikov commented that, “Buildings
and gambled on the ability of were burning, the earth was burning and
surviving Soviet troops to halt
the southward progress of the
German attack towards the SOVIET TANK The T-34/76 was, by early 1943,
the mainstay of the Soviet armoured forces and,
Barrikady and the right wing of
when first encountered by the Germans in 1941,
308th Division. On 15 October, easily the best tank in the world, belying the
Paulus threw another fresh myth of Soviet technical inferiority. It remained
German unit, 305th Infantry a formidable tank and was central to the success
Division, into the fray, and the of Operation Uranus. The tank was very reliable in
adverse weather conditions, well-armed with the
northern flank of the Soviet 76mm cannon, and had wide tracks that did not get
bridgehead shrunk further as easily bogged down on the muddy Russian roads.

the tanks were burning.” As 14th Panzer
Division moved on to the north-west
corner of the Barrikady, Gurtiev’s 308th
Division, assaulted on three sides, was
fighting for its life – and gradually losing.
By the afternoon, the fighting was literally
at the factory gates, before moving into
the workshops and continuing amid the
wrecked machinery and twisted metal.

One final, frenzied lunge

During the night of 17/18 October, the
proximity of the fighting in the Barrikady
persuaded Chuikov that it was time
to shift his command post. He moved
south along the Volga but failed to find
anywhere suitable, so he set up his
HQ in the open air on the riverbank A soldier from 62nd
Army waves a red
behind the Red October plant. As Soviet flag in Fallen Fighters
engineers dug out and camouflaged Square to celebrate
a command post, the risk of a strike the Soviet victory.
by the Luftwaffe was substantial, but In the background
is the Univermag
once again the gods of war smiled on department store, where
Chuikov. By dawn on 18 October, he had Paulus located his HQ
a new and fully functioning HQ less than
half a mile from the front. Despite its
inauspicious origins, he would remain
here until the final days of the battle in
308th Division to break contact and
conduct a withdrawal of 300 yards.
w NEW NAME the Barrikady, further isolating Guriev’s
forces. As Smekhotvorov’s 193rd
February 1943. To Chuikov, this was preferable to the KHRUSHCHEV’S Division’s strength gave way, another
On 18 October, the German assault encirclement and annihilation of 308th ADMINISTRATION ominous wedge was being driven into the
concentrated on the Barrikady. One Division – but it was only his reputation CHANGED Soviet defences between the Barrikady
regiment reached the Volga, isolating the and his relative isolation in the city that THE NAME OF complex and the Red October site.
Tractor Factory from the Barrikady, while, permitted him to issue such an order. STALINGRAD However, the German assault and the
to the west of the latter, Gurtiev’s 308th 308th Division was saved to fight TO VOLGOGRAD bitterness of the fighting had taken their
Division and Lyudnikov’s 138th Division another day but by 20 October, 6th (“VOLGA CITY”). toll. On 25 and 26 October, the tempo
scrapped for every inch of ground along Army had secured the Dzerzhinsky and ferocity of the German attacks
the railway lines running directly under Tractor Factory and virtually enveloped diminished as Paulus’ 6th Army, despite
the western walls of the factory. all but the extreme eastern side of its tactical successes, took stock and
On Gurtiev’s left, Smekhotvorov’s the Barrikady Ordnance Factory, while rebuilt shattered companies, battalions
remarkable yet relatively unsung 193rd continuing to fight within its walls. and regiments for one last effort.
Division continued to defy 94th Infantry Chuikov’s reconnaissance network had As Chuikov’s exhausted 62nd Army
Division in close, unforgiving encounters. also begun to detect signs of a major gained temporary respite, it received
Hoffman commented in his diary that, German concentration to the west of the further reinforcements in the shape of
“fighting has been going on continuously Red October steelworks. The first major two regiments of Colonel V. P. Sokolov’s
for four days with unprecedented German drive on the site began on 22 45th Division under the command of
ferocity. During this time, our regiment October, as 100th Jäger and 94th and Smekhotvorov’s hard-pressed 193rd
has advanced barely half a mile. The 305th Infantry Divisions attacked Soviet Division. On 28 October, the reshuffled
Russian firing is causing us heavy units around the Barrikady, to prepare German units made one final, frenzied
This feature was edited
losses. Men and officers alike have the way for the fresh 79th Infantry using material from lunge at 62nd Army. In the centre of
become bitter and silent.” However, the Division to attack the Red October site. two books: Stalingrad: the front, German troops finally drove
relentless nature of the German assault At dawn on 23 October, supported The Infernal Cauldron Gurtiev’s 308th Division and Lyudnikov’s
told and, at around noon on 18 October, by armour and repeated Luftwaffe air and Battles That 138th Siberian Division out of the
Changed History.
Smekhotvorov’s 193rd Division began to strikes, 39th Guards Rifle Division was Both are published Barrikady, but could not battle their
crack, leaving Gurtiev’s 308th Division attacked by 79th Infantry Division. by Amber Books way to the Volga just 500 yards away.
with no protection on its southern flank Concentrated on the north-western and available from To the south of the Barrikady, inside
while heavily engaged on its western and corner of the Red October site, the www.amberbooks.co.uk the Red October steelworks, the German
northern wings. In the face of this threat assault succeeded (in conjunction with 79th Infantry Division renewed its
to the heart of 62nd Army’s position, other German moves on the Barrikady) attack on 39th Guards Rifle Division.
Chuikov took the bold step of ordering in isolating Guriev’s tough paratroopers In a matter of hours, the German troops
in the steelworks. German infantry had broken into the factory in strength,
moved into the Red October’s foundries with the leading sections a mere 400
and workshops, and the next day yards from the Volga. Hand-to-hand
German troops successfully fighting with flame-throwers, shovels
captured the central and south- and axes raged through the factory,
western sections of with Guriev’s command post the scene
of prolonged battles.
On Chuikov’s orders, Soviet
reinforcements scurried through
Stalingrad’s streets to the Red October.
By the evening of 29 October, the
fighting in the steel complex finally died
down and, on 30 October, an odd calm
descended upon the Red October works.
It would be the scene of spasmodic,
vicious little encounters until the final
German surrender on 2 February 1943. w

Leaders of Men
From Washington to Ridgway, Steve Jarratt reveals our
selection of the finest US Generals, whose efforts both on
and off the battlefield have helped shaped history

ver the course of its 238-odd years, Armies, the highest-possible rank in the
the United States has produced many US Army. Ignoring the experience of the
brilliant military leaders, and for this British and French in WWI, he decided to forego
issue we’ve concentrated on that elite trench tactics in favour of frontal assaults,
band that made it to the rank of General. and is seen as responsible for the heavy
Narrowing it down to just ten was casualties suffered by the American troops.
almost impossible; for example, we’ve excluded We’ve also, probably unfairly, avoided
General William Tecumseh Sherman – a brilliant modern-day Generals like “Stormin’ Norman”
strategist but also an advocate of “hard war”, Schwarzkopf, who took on a larger, battle-
which employed a scorched-earth policy to hardened force in Iraq and destroyed it in
destroy both the Confederacy’s morale and its three days. Of course, he just happened
means to wage war. to be in charge of the wealthiest and most
Neither does General John J. Pershing make technologically advanced military in history;
the cut, despite being made General of the short-term victory was always assured.

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The future founding father of America was the son of Augustine
Washington, an entrepreneur in Westmoreland County, Virginia.
In 1752, Washington Jnr joined the Virginia Militia and fought
during the Seven Years War of 1756-1763, rising to the rank of honorary
Brigadier General. In 1755, he was the senior US aide to British General
Edward Braddock, and was part of the ambushed expedition into the
Ohio Valley. Braddock was mortally wounded and Washington narrowly
escaped injury while shepherding the troops in retreat. He was refused
a commission in the British Army and resigned in 1758.
When the political disputes between Britain and her North American
colonies escalated into war, Washington was in a prime position to be
appointed Major General and Commander-
in-Chief of the Continental Army. Despite DID YOU KNOW?
Washington taught himself
his lack of training, he was a determined
to be a surveyor and,
and resourceful man; he outmanoeuvred aged 17, became surveyor
the British forces and, with help from the for Culpeper County,
French, ensured their eventual surrender Virginia. Were it not for
during the Siege of Yorktown in 1781. the war, he may well have
enjoyed a profitable career.

One of George Washington’s most trusted officers in the 1786-1866
Revolutionary Army was a pacifist Quaker by birth, but one
Scott was born on
who was fascinated by military science. He joined the Kentish
a plantation near
Guards local militia in the early 1170s, and
Petersburg, Virginia,
when the American War of Independence
and trained to be a lawyer.
began, he offered his services, being
But after graduating, he
quickly promoted to Major General.
soon tired of his chosen
When the British inflicted
profession, joining the
several crushing defeats in the
Virginia Militia cavalry and, in
South, Greene was appointed
1808, gaining his commission
commander of the Southern
as a Captain in the US Army.
Army, effectively becoming
He was assigned to the
second-in-command of the
Light Artillery and posted
Continental Army. He oversaw
to New Orleans, serving
the army’s strategic retreat,
under the corrupt Brigadier
and then lured the British,
General James Wilkinson.
under General Charles
In 1810, Scott was court-
Cornwallis, into various actions.
martialled for criticising his
Greene lost every pitched battle
commander, and suspended for a year. When war was declared
he fought, but gradually wore the
between the US and Britain in 1812, he was promoted to Lieutenant
enemy down. Although the final Battle
Colonel and was part of the force that invaded Canada. A stickler
of Eutaw Springs proved inconclusive,
for presentation, “Old Fuss and Feathers” rose through the ranks,
it forced Colonel Alexander
becoming General-in-Chief of the US Army in 1841. During the
Stewart’s forces to withdraw to
Mexican-American War of 1846, he led the Army’s first major
Charleston, surrendering their
amphibious landing at Collado Beach, and marched around 12,000
conquests in the South.
men on Veracruz. He then secured six major victories against
Mexican forces and captured the enemy capital. Upon hearing of
DID YOU KNOW? this, the Duke of Wellington referred to him
After the war, Greene as “the greatest living General.” Scott’s
Scott was responsible for
Getty Images

retired to a plantation last great act was to devise the Anaconda

near Savannah, given setting the standards of
Plan, which called for the blockading of the US Army, and was a
to him by the grateful
people of Georgia. He died the South during the American Civil War to commanding General from
of sunstroke in 1786. squeeze the life out of the Confederacy. 1841 to 1861 – longer than
anyone else in US history.

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Robert E. Lee graduated second in his class from West
Point academy, and served with distinction as Captain
under General Winfield Scott during the conflict with
Mexico in 1846-1848. At the outbreak of the American Civil War,
Lee was serving with the 2nd US Cavalry and initially ridiculed the
Confederacy. But when offered a command in the Union, he rejected
it and later resigned when his home state of Virginia seceded, taking
command of the Army of North Virginia in 1862. His strategic nous
helped him to outwit larger armies, and he was responsible for
planning “Stonewall” Jackson’s successful Shenandoah Campaign.
Lee enjoyed his greatest success at the Battle of Chancellorsville,
but he then mistakenly invaded the North, hoping to show off the
power of the Confederate Army while securing
much-needed supplies in Pennsylvania. Lee’s DID YOU KNOW?
forces engaged the Union under George G. Spared from being
Meade at Gettysburg, where, on the third day, hanged as a traitor,
Lee’s order for a frontal assault at Cemetery Lee returned home in
Ridge proved disastrous. The Confederate 1865, accepted a job
Army never recovered from the huge at a college in western
casualties it sustained on that day. Virginia, and never
spoke of politics again.



Upon enlisting at
West Point, Hiram
Ulysses Grant 1880-1964
found himself listed by The son of a
his middle name and recipient of the
his mother’s maiden Medal of Honor,
name (Simpson), and Douglas MacArthur
so became Ulysses S. graduated top of his
Grant. After graduation, class from West Point
he served in the in 1903, and later
Mexican-American War, served with the 42nd
earning awards for “Rainbow” Division in
gallantry. A miserable the First World War,
posting in Oregon fighting at the Battle
prompted him to retire of Saint-Mihiel and
and try his hand at life the Meuse-Argonne
on the family farm but, Offensive in 1918.
six years later, the Civil In the inter-war period, MacArthur spent many years in the Philippines
War erupted and he was and rose to become Field Marshal of the Philippine Army. Surprised by
appointed Colonel of the the Japanese invasion of the islands in WWII, he was flown to Australia
21st Illinois Infantry. He was and ordered to halt the advance. His strategy was to attack only main
quickly promoted to Brigadier and objectives, thus speeding up progress and minimising casualties.
enjoyed success at Fort Henry and His brilliant amphibious campaign liberated the Philippines, and he
later at Fort Donelson, where he earned his nickname of was preparing plans for the invasion of Japan when it surrendered.
“Unconditional Surrender” Grant. During the Korean War, MacArthur spearheaded the capture of
The great man was often accused of drunkenness, but that didn’t Inchon in a pincer movement that practically destroyed the North
seem to impair his abilities on the battlefield, and he secured a Korean Army. But manoeuvres above the 38th Parallel brought the
victory at Vicksburg that proved the turning point of the war in the Chinese into the war, forcing a mass
West. He then took control of the Army
of the Potomac and relentlessly pursued DID YOU KNOW? retreat of UN forces. MacArthur’s desire to DID YOU KNOW?
Grant fared poorly at West extend the war to China was in opposition MacArthur wanted to escalate
Robert E. Lee and his army, suffering heavy to the “limited war” being carried out by the war and, if left to his
casualties in order to erode the Confederate Point, receiving several the US and Europe, and he was relieved own devices, would probably
demerits for tardiness and
forces and ultimately crush the rebellion. of his command by President Truman. have started World War Three
slovenly dress code.
against China and Russia.

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Mary Evans


Born in California, Patton came from a long line of military men,
dating back to the Revolutionary War. Unsurprisingly, he enrolled
in the Virginia Military Institute and subsequently graduated
from West Point in 1909. He took part in the punitive expedition against
Pancho Villa in 1915, before joining the US Tank Corps as Captain during
WWI – the first officer to be appointed to the new unit. Like MacArthur,
he fought at Saint-Mihiel and in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, earning
himself a Distinguished Service Cross and a Distinguished Service Medal.
With the outbreak of the Second World War, Patton was promoted to
Major General and given command of the newly formed 2nd Armored
Division. His first task was to lead the Western Task Force and take
Casablanca from Vichy French forces in 1942. Then, following its defeat
by Germany’s Afrika Corps, he rebuilt II Corps for the offensive in Tunisia
and led the invasion of Sicily in 1943.
Patton proved to be a brilliant but divisive DID YOU KNOW?
Patton was an Olympic
leader; brash, profane, arrogant and politically athlete and competed
insensitive, but a great inspiration to his men, in the first Modern
who nicknamed him “Old Blood and Guts”. Pentathlon event in
Stockholm in 1912.

After his poor
performance at
school, Marshall
vowed to excel when joining
Virginia Military Institute.
Although he struggled
academically, he proved to
be a brilliant military cadet
and graduated in 1901,
accepting a commission 1890-1969
as a Second Lieutenant
Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower graduated from West Point
in the US Army.
and spent the years during WWI in training schools, where he
After a year in the
was top of his class. He was twice denied action in Europe,
Philippines, Marshall spent
first by being transferred to the new Tank Corps as a trainer, and
time at various postings in
then by the armistice, which was signed a week before he was due to
America, before entering WWI
ship out. He was on General MacArthur’s staff during the 1930s, and
as a Captain in operations
in 1941 he gained promotion to Major General, whereupon he was
for the 1st Infantry Division.
put in charge of US forces in Europe. Eisenhower’s first assignment
Working with General John
was the invasion of French North Africa and Tunisia, followed by his
Pershing, he was involved in
command of the invasion of Sicily.
the planning of the Saint-Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives. He spent
With Italy secured, he was ordered to England as Supreme
the inter-war years training in the US Army War College and, prior to
Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force (a position he was
WWII, was promoted to General and made Chief of Staff of the US Army.
given in favour of George Marshall), and asked to plan Operation
While hostilities raged in Europe, Marshall oversaw the expansion of
Overlord, the amphibious assault on Normandy. Eisenhower displayed
the Army and the development of American war plans. Churchill referred
great political and diplomatic skill in
to him as the “organiser of victory” and,
for his efforts, he was promoted to General DID YOU KNOW?
managing the differing needs of the Allied DID YOU KNOW?
commanders, while making key strategic Eisenhower’s hopes for
of the Army and given a five-star rank – In 1924, Marshall was sent
decisions. He later became Supreme a constructive peace
the first Army officer to receive it. His final on assignment to China, to summit with Russia were
oversee the troops protecting Commander of NATO and President of the
act was to outline the “Marshall Plan” thwarted in 1960 by the
Americans living there. He and US, an administration that many suggest
for the rebuilding of Europe, for which he capture of a U-2 spy plane
his wife stayed in Tientsin, and was unfairly criticised at the time.
received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953. and its pilot, Gary Powers.
he learned to speak Chinese.

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Another West Point graduate, Matthew Bunker Ridgway
served with the 3rd Infantry during WWI, but his first
overseas action would be with the 82nd Airborne and the
assault on Sicily in 1943. He led the amphibious assault on
Salerno, and parachuted into France on D-Day, 1944. He played
a significant role in checking the German Ardennes Offensive, and
became a three-star General during the Rhine and Ruhr campaigns.
However, it was in Korea where Ridgway made his name, taking
charge of the battered and retreating US 8th Army, and instilling
its men with confidence. Following the sacking of Douglas
MacArthur, Ridgway took control of the UN forces in Korea, and his
defensive tactics halted the Chinese offensive, enabling him to
regain control of the area and recapture Seoul.
An impressed Omar Bradley called Ridgway’s DID YOU KNOW?
The son of a Colonel,
actions “the greatest feat of personal
Getty Images

Matthew Ridgway was

leadership in the history of the Army”. With brought up on a variety
the Chinese and UN forces at a stalemate, of military bases across
an armistice was signed in July 1953. the US, and took pride
in being an “Army brat”.

During the Crusades, the Middle East was
plagued by war and unrest. This 1830s
painting by Jean Joseph Dassy depicts the
Siege of Antioch, which occurred around
20 years before the Battle of Sarmada

Great Battles

The Crusades: The 1119 Battle of Sarmada is also known
as “Field of Blood”, and for good reason. Fewer than 200
of the 3,700 Crusader soldiers escaped with their lives…

NE OF THE ARMIES OF THE Tripoli in 1109. Beirut and Saida were captured
First Crusade established itself in 1110, and Tyre in 1124.
in Jerusalem in 1099, and, after This left the Crusaders in control of a
beating off attempts to dislodge considerable stretch of territory and a lot of
it, gradually consolidated its hold. critical coastline, through which supplies and
Although Pope Urban II, who had instigated the reinforcements could be brought in. Attempts by
Crusade, died before hearing of its success, the local Muslim leaders to retake their territory
the mission was apparently accomplished. were a regular feature of the period, and conflict
The holy city was in Christian hands. was more or less constant, rising and falling in
However, the Christian hold on the region intensity at various times.
was somewhat tenuous. Armies sent to At first, the Crusaders had seemed invincible,
reinforce the occupation of Jerusalem in brushing aside attempts to stop them with
1100-01 were defeated before they got headlong charges of armoured horsemen
anywhere near the city. backed up by infantry
Worse, the Byzantines,
who had assisted
CONFLICT WAS MORE and lighter cavalry.
The latter were mainly
the Crusaders,
were becoming
OR LESS CONSTANT, Turcopoles (“sons
of Turks”), recruited
disenchanted with the
whole business. The
RISING AND FALLING from the region
and converted to
Crusading Franks were
supposed to have
IN INTENSITY Christianity. Armed
with bows and lances,
returned territory they
took to Byzantine rule,
AT VARIOUS TIMES and wearing only
light armour (if any),
but had not done so. their superior mobility allowed them to protect
The Franks, meanwhile, were not at all the flanks of the heavy cavalry.
impressed with the degree of support they This combination of forces had worked well
were receiving, and did not like the way the at first, and attempts by Muslim troops to
Byzantines were trying to retake their traditional meet the knightly charges head-on resulted in
territories. This all detracted from the real defeat. The Muslim leaders were learning how
business at hand – the constant battles to to defeat the Crusaders, however, and at Harran
keep and expand control of the Holy Land. the invaders suffered their first major reverse.
Despite a variety of setbacks and a defeat That battle had been a clash between
at Harran in 1104, the Franks were able to Crusaders besieging the city of Harran, and
gradually expand their holdings in the Holy Land Seljuk Turks coming to its relief. After a series
and elsewhere in Muslim territory during the of small skirmishes in which the Crusaders
years 1100-19. Acre fell to them in 1104 and were victorious, a major battle developed.

The facts
WHO A Crusader force from the Principality of Antioch
under the leadership of Roger of Salerno, numbering PRINCIPALITY
around 3,700 men. They were opposed by a larger force OF ANTIOCH
of Turks under Ilghazi.
WHAT The Crusader force was surrounded and attacked SARMADA ALEPPO
by a superior enemy.
WHERE Kadesh was a rich and powerful, fortified city in
what we now know as Syria. It offered an excellent outpost
to defend an empire, or from which to expand.
WHEN 1119.
WHY The Crusaders responded to an invasion of their
territory by the Turks, resulting in a fierce engagement.
Mary Evans

OUTCOME The Crusader force was massacred, with very FATIMID CALIPHATE
few survivors.


Although more lightly equipped than the knights opposing

them, the cavalry of the Muslim army were determined,
experienced and well armed. Equally able to harass an enemy
with minor attacks or make a massed lance charge, these
horsemen were a powerful military asset in the right hands.

During this action, one wing of the Crusader of Jerusalem, but for
army rushed impetuously into action and was reasons of his own
soundly defeated, although the rest of the force he declined. Perhaps he
retired and escaped. thought he could not afford to
Harran served to demonstrate not only wait for assistance to arrive.
that the Crusaders could be beaten, but also
how it could be done. The battle had political Vastly outnumbered
consequences, too, deepening the rift between Roger assembled his forces at Artah,
the Crusading Franks and the Byzantines. The not far from Antioch. He was advised to
latter even took advantage of the situation and remain there by Bernard of Valence, the Latin
recaptured some of their territory. Patriarch of Antioch. Ilghazi would have to
Nevertheless, the Crusaders managed to reduce the fortress of Artah in order to advance
expand their territory despite the constant on Antioch, or risk being attacked in flank or rear
conflict. With the death of Radwan of Aleppo in
Osprey Publishing

by Roger’s army. Again, Bernard suggested a

1113, a period of relative peace descended. defensive strategy, waiting for assistance in the
At this time, the main Crusader provinces were security of the fortress.
Roger would have none of it. It’s possible
IT WAS THE KNIGHTS that he was overconfident, as the Crusaders
had tended to win most engagements by simply
WHO DECIDED THE attacking headlong as soon as possible. There
are some parallels with the British situation
ISSUE BY CHARGING in India centuries later. There, too, a vastly
outnumbered occupying force generally
AT THE ENEMY AND defeated its enemies via a headlong attack,
no matter what the odds. However, the
DEFEATING HIM British would have two major advantages in
India. First, they would possess superior
Edessa under Baldwin II, Tripoli under Pons, weapons and be better trained than their
and Antioch. Roger of Salerno was Regent of opponents. More importantly, they would
Antioch on behalf of Bohemond II. have the myth of invincibility on their
By 1117, Aleppo was under the rule of Ilghazi side. Roger had neither. After Harran,
of the Ortoqid dynasty, and the stage was set for the Muslims knew that the Crusaders
further conflict. Roger of Salerno had perhaps
passed up an opportunity to smash Aleppo
during the disruption caused by Radwan’s death.
Now, Aleppo once again had strong leadership WEAPONS OF DEATH
and was in a position to respond when Roger’s With warriors wielding sharpened axes,
forces took Azaz in 1118. swords and spears, there were numerous
The capture of Azaz provided the Crusaders grisly ways that you could meet your
with a route to attack Aleppo, and this could end during the Crusades. No
not be tolerated. Ilghazi responded in 1119 wonder soldiers from both sides
by invading the Principality of Antioch. Roger wore such sturdy armour and
carried such large shields.
of Salerno was advised to ask for help from
Pons and from Baldwin, who was now King

This map shows the rather complex relationship between the
Christian and Muslim states in the Middle East in the 12th and 13th
Centuries, when the Crusader states reached their greatest extent.









Mediterranean Sea


Principality of Antioch
County of Edessa
AQABA County of Tripoli
Kingdom of Jerusalem

Kingdom of Jerusalem
(after Treaty of Jaffa, 1229)

Kingdom of Armenia (1198-1375)

could be beaten, and while Roger’s force was military force that an individual could be, but
differently armed to its opponents, there’s that’s exactly what the knightly contingent was OPPOSING FORCES
serious doubt as to whether it was better armed. – a collection of individual warriors rather than
Roger of Salerno commanded a force of about a disciplined fighting force. CRUSADERS (ESTIMATED)
Knights/men-at-arms: 700
3,700 men, of whom around 700 were mounted The infantry and Turcopoles were there simply Infantry: 3,000
knights and men-at-arms, and the remainder a as supports for the main striking force, and to Total: 3,700
mix of Turcopoles and infantry. The cavalry were protect the knights in camp or on the march.
the main striking force. Typical of Crusader These men were neither well trained nor very MUSLIMS (ESTIMATED)
knights and men-at-arms, they were covered highly valued. In battle, it was the knights who Total: 10,000
in heavy armour, and armed with lances and decided the issue by charging at the enemy and
swords. Each man was the most powerful defeating him. Infantry were considered to be

5 With his army
scattered all over the
field in small clumps, Roger
of Salerno tries to rally his
men. He is killed in close

1 Minor Muslim forces surround

the Crusader camp during the
night. They keep their distance as
combat as he does so.

the battle opens, serving only as

a distraction and a nuisance.

2 Dividing his force

into three “battles”,
Roger of Salerno launches
a headlong charge
with his powerful knights.
The Crusaders are
initially successful.

Great Battles
4 The Turcopoles,
attacking in

support of the knights,
are repulsed and pursued,
causing disorder in
the Crusader ranks.


3 Driving deep into the

Muslim army, the knights
become separated from their
supports and begin to tire.

6 Muslim forces converge

from all sides on the
disordered Crusaders, virtually
annihilating their surrounded
and leaderless enemies.

little more than hangers-on, or at best a mobile

Osprey Publishing
obstruction to rally behind before launching the
While Byzantine troops of the 12th Century generally had mail armour,
The exact numbers of the Muslim force
and were armed with a shield and a sword, they were still more lightly
are not known, but it’s likely that they equipped than the Crusaders, which gave them more mobility. They were
outnumbered the Crusaders by a substantial also disciplined, and would not give in at the first sign of adversity.
margin. Muslim armies of the period tended to
be more lightly equipped than their Crusader
opponents, but were more mobile as a
consequence. In order to take advantage of
that mobility, a certain level of discipline was forts, located at al-Atharib, was under siege,
also required, allowing the various parts of the and decided to do something about it.
army to operate as a coordinated force. Roger sent out a small force under Robert
Thus, the opposing forces were very different. of Vieux-Pont to break the siege. Rather than
If the Crusaders could land a blow with the meet the Crusaders head-on, the wily Ilghazi
sledgehammer that was their mounted knights, ordered a retreat, and Robert’s force pursued,
whatever was struck would be destroyed. But joined by forces from the fortress.
the sledgehammer could not be swung many
times before exhaustion began to set in Warriors in tears
and, meanwhile, the Muslim forces would be However, this was not a real retreat at all,
nibbling away at the Crusader army with arrows but a feigned withdrawal of the sort favoured
and fast, mounted charges by lighter cavalry, by the Muslim armies to draw out and tire
waiting for the decisive moment to wade in their impetuous foes. Among the nobility of
and finish the matter. Europe, caution was another word for cowardice,
Roger of Salerno began his advance, moving and it was widely accepted that a commander
to meet the Muslim army. As he reached the who failed to lead his men in a headlong assault
pass of Sarmada, he learned that one of his would quickly lose their confidence. Thus,

Robert really had no choice but

to pursue, and indeed, at that stage in the
campaign, he simply may not have known about
the favourite tactics of his foes.
Thus, Robert’s men were drawn ever further
from support, supply and the security of the
fort, and, when the time was right, Ilghazi turned
and launched his own attack. The Muslim
fighting man of the period was much better
disciplined than his European counterpart, and
thought nothing of being ordered to flee for
many kilometres before turning to fight. This
pragmatic attitude gave Ilghazi an easy victory
over Robert’s relief force, as a prelude to
setting out to meet the main Crusader army.
During the night of 27-28 June, the Muslim
army moved into position, surrounding the
camp of the smaller Crusader force. Roger of
Salerno was probably not unduly worried. He
was a Christian knight about to give battle in
the Lord’s name. Victory was his by right, and
surely nothing could withstand the head-on
charge of his knights?
Roger split his force into three “battles”,
as was common practice at the time. These
were under the command of Geoffrey the Monk,

An 18th-century illumination depicting the Crusades. By

the time this depiction was made, the Crusades had become
something of a romantic legend whose complex (and
sometimes sordid) details had been largely forgotten.

Guy Fresnel and Roger himself. Meanwhile, The Crusader army began to break up, and In this 12th-century French manuscript illustration,
Muslim cavalry and Crusader knights engage in hand-to-
the Muslim army was being addressed by small groups were quickly overwhelmed by hand combat. In reality, Muslim cavalry rarely engaged up
Abu al-Fadl ibn al-Khashshab, who was armed superior numbers. Roger of Salerno tried to close with the more heavily armed and armoured European
for battle but wearing the turban of a lawyer. rally his men, fighting under a huge jewelled knights unless they had a significant numerical advantage,
This slightly incongruous combination cross that was his personal banner – but it preferring instead to harass at a distance with missile fire.
detracted nothing from his oratory as he was to no avail. He was struck down by a blow
reminded the assembled soldiers of their duty to the face as his army disintegrated. which probably would’ve been in vain. However,
and role in the coming clash. By the time There was nowhere to run. The Crusaders Ilghazi did not launch an attack. King Baldwin
he was finished, according to contemporary had started the battle surrounded, and were of Jerusalem and Count Pons arrived in time to
historians, many of the warriors were in tears now scattered all over the field in disorganised eject Ilghazi from the region, and Baldwin took
and went to battle inspired to great deeds. clumps. The Muslim warriors concentrated control of Antioch.
The Principality of Antioch was crippled by
Hammer blow
Not unexpectedly, things at first went well for ROGER OF SALERNO the catastrophic defeat of Roger and his army,
and never really recovered. Although the Battle
Roger of Salerno. The initial charge of his
knights met with success and drove the enemy
WAS STRUCK DOWN of Azaz – which took place a few years later in
1125 – was a victory that allowed the Crusaders
back. However, a Muslim army was not like
a European one. European armies could be
BY A BLOW TO HIS to reclaim some of their prestige, the myth of
their invincibility, which had served them so well
rather brittle, shattering under the hammer blow
of seeing their knights defeated or even just
FACE AS HIS ARMY for so long, had been shattered forever.
The Muslims now knew without a shadow of
driven back.
Fighting power was more evenly distributed
DISINTEGRATED a doubt that they could defeat the Crusader
forces in the field, and they would do so
in the Muslim armies, and discipline was against first one and then another of these, repeatedly in the years and decades to come. w
good enough to absorb any blows to morale. slaughtering the Crusader army until virtually
A setback in one area would not necessarily nothing was left of it.
dismay the men fighting elsewhere. Only two of Roger’s knights survived the
Besides, even as the Crusaders drove engagement. One of those, Raynald Mazoir,
forward, they tired quickly. Weary men was able to reach the fort at Sarmada but was
mounted on blown horses became increasingly later taken prisoner. Other prisoners were This feature is an edited
separated from their supports, and the tide taken, while a handful of men were able to extract from the book
began to turn. Robert of Saint-Lô, leading the make off and reach safety. In the end, some Battles That Changed
Turcopole force, was driven back into the 3,500 of the 3,700 Crusaders who took part History, published by
main line of the Crusader army. This caused were killed, giving the battle its name – Ager Amber Books, RRP £24.99.
severe disruption, and the Muslims were Sanguinis, or “Field of Blood”. Bernard was It is available from
coordinated enough to take advantage of it. left to prepare a hasty defence of Antioch, www.amberbooks.co.uk


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When the Iranian revolution of 1979 resulted in civil
unrest and a weakened military, Saddam Hussein saw an
opportunity to cement Iraq as the major power in the Middle
East. The resulting war would drag on for eight long years…

HE SOLDIERS WERE HUNCHED But when Genghis Khan and his Mongol
down in trenches behind barbed hordes invaded Iran, the Seljuqs’ power began
wire, gas masks at the ready, to fade and the various Anatolian clans saw an
awaiting the order to head out into opportunity to declare their own sovereignty.
no man’s land. When the signal Osman did the same in 1299, which is regarded
arrived, wave after wave of men charged towards as the beginning of the Ottoman empire. The
opposing lines in an attempt to overwhelm the dynasty continued after Osman’s death in 1326,
enemy. Thousands would die in this way, mown and by 1400 all the remaining Turkish dynasties
down by machine-gun fire or killed by landmines. had been absorbed into the empire.
These men weren’t fighting in the quagmire The Mongol invasion of Iran – known to the
of northern Europe, but the desert plains of the West as Persia – was devastating. Genghis
Iran-Iraq border. The First Persian Gulf War Khan’s forces descended in 1219 and, in two
began in September 1980 and would years, the ruling Khwarezmid empire
run for almost eight years, making was wiped out. Over the following
it the longest conventional war
of the 20th Century. By the end,
SADDAM four decades, the Mongols laid
waste to the region, destroying
it had cost more than a trillion HUSSEIN its culture and infrastructure,
dollars in arms and damage, LAUNCHED AN and literally decimating the male
and racked up millions of
casualties – but had resulted
INVASION INTO population – by the end of the
invasion in 1258, the number
in no real gains for either side. IRAN ON 22 of Iranian men had fallen from
There were many aspects SEPTEMBER 2.5 million to just 250,000.
to the conflict, arising from its 1980 The Mongols would rule Iran
location at the crossroads of East for the next 80 years, becoming an
and West, with generations of rivalries Ilkhanate under Genghis’ grandson
over culture, ethnicity, class, politics and Hulagu Kahn. The country was gradually
religion. But the main source of the war was a rebuilt and began to enjoy some prosperity
dispute over territory, which can be traced back at the end of the 13th Century, with new
to the early 16th Century, when the Ottoman trade routes to India and China. However, the
and Persian empires collided. Ilkhanate began to collapse with the death of
The Ottoman state began with the rise of the Abu Said Bahadur Khan in 1304; without an
House of Osman in the 13th Century. Osman appointed successor, the state devolved into
I was one of several Turkmen tribal lords, or separate small kingdoms ruled by the powerful
“Beys”, of the Anatolian Peninsula, between the Mongol, Turk and Persian families in the region.
Black Sea and the Mediterranean. The Beyliks The nation would once again suffer at the
Getty Images

had been set up by the Seljuq empire of Iran hands of the vicious conqueror Timur. Towards
in the 11th Century to act as a buffer zone the end of the 14th Century, he seized vast
between it and the Byzantine empire, and were swathes of the Middle East and Central Asia,
populated by Muslim frontier warriors, or “gazi”. from Bulgaria to the edge of China, from



When Britain needed The nationalist Iraqi
someone to head up the Army General seized
newly formed Kingdom of power in 1958 in a
Iraq, it turned to Prince coup d’état known as
Faisal, the Hashemite ruler the 14 July Revolution.
of the Arab Kingdom of King Faisal II, his family
Syria. Faisal was recruited and the Prime Minister
to lead the Arab Revolt were assassinated, and
against the Turks in WWI. Iraq was made into a
He would rule Iraq for 23 republic. Qasim’s links to
years, before dying under communism eventually
suspicious circumstances led to his murder in the
in Switzerland. Ba’athist coup of 1963.


A leading member of Khomeini was a religious
the Sunni Ba’ath Party, leader of Shia Islam,
Saddam took part in the and a political activist.
Ba’athist coup of 1963, His outspoken views on
before fleeing to Syria. the Shah led him to be
Tensions within the party exiled for 14 years, during
led to another coup in which time he became
1968, when Saddam a cult figure to Muslims
became deputy to the new worldwide. With the
President, Ahmed Hassan departure of the Shah in
al-Bakr. Saddam gained 1979, Khomeini became
control in 1976 when he Supreme Leader of the
forced al-Bakr to resign. new Islamic theocracy.


Mohammad Reza Pahlavi RONALD REAGAN
was the last member of Tensions between the US
a Persian monarchy dating and the extremist Muslim
back some 2,500 years. He rulers of Iran, who had
ruled for 38 years until the ousted its ally the Shah,
revolution of 1979, when saw the US provide arms
the tide of public opinion and intelligence to Iraq.
turned against him. At Reagan’s administration
that time, his personal was embarrassed by the
wealth was estimated at Iran-Contra arms-deal
in excess of $1billion. He affair and the accidental
lived in exile for just 18 destruction of an Iranian
Saddam Hussein inspects the months until dying of a rare airliner by the missile
Basra front in Iraq, 1986 form of cancer in Egypt. cruiser USS Vincennes.

stable Iraq would always be in conflict with a
nation divided along ethnic, tribal, religious and
economic lines.
Since the days of Ottoman rule, Iraq had
been split into three vilayets, or provinces:
Mosul in the north, Baghdad in the centre
and Basra in the south. Mosul and Basra are
populated mainly by Sunni Muslims, while Basra
is predominantly Shia.
But the country is also split between the Arab
majority in central and southern Iraq, with Kurds
and small pockets of Turkmen and Assyrians
in the north. The incorporation of the Sunni-
dominated Mosul province into the Iraqi state in
1925 was intended to offset the dominance of
the Shia, but it brought the Kurds under central

Getty Images
Women of the volunteer rule, which they’ve opposed ever since.
paramilitary force the Basij, So alongside Saddam’s social reforms, the
which was set up by order of
Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979
people also saw an increase in the country’s
security in an effort to avoid future coups
and insurrections. Echoing Hitler’s tactics,
Uzbekistan to Iran, and as far as Baghdad in terminating along the Shatt al-Arab waterway Saddam cleverly built public support with his
Iraq. Historians estimate that by the end of his that spills into the Persian Gulf. welfare programs, while also creating a military
campaigns, his armies had killed 17 million – With the demise of the Ottoman empire at the regime and cultivating an inner circle of loyal
around five per cent of the world’s population. end of WWI, Iraq fell under British administration. supporters. In 1979, he forced the elderly
Timur invaded Iran in 1381, slaughtering In 1921, the Brits installed the Kingdom of Iraq al-Bakr to resign, and began the systematic
thousands and destroying entire cities as he led by King Faisal I, the Hashemite Prince who’d execution of hundreds of allegedly “disloyal”
went. His arrival almost signalled the end of the been recruited by T. E. Lawrence to lead the Arab Ba’ath Party officials, securing his position
Ottoman empire, too, when its Sultan, Bayezid Revolt against the Turks. The monarchy lasted as President of Iraq and Chairman of the
I, was defeated at the Battle of Ankara in 1402. for over 30 years, but was eventually overthrown Revolutionary Command Council.
However, the Timurid empire went into decline in a military coup d’état in 1958, and Iraq was In the same year, Iran was undergoing the
with the death of its founder in 1405; Timur’s proclaimed a republic. However, the ensuing transition from absolute monarchy to Islamic
successors fell into dispute and civil war, and
by the start of the 16th Century the empire was
divided and being pushed back on all fronts.
The Ottoman empire regrouped and began OF TIMUR’S CAMPAIGNS, HIS ARMIES HAD
to expand once more, while Iran was eventually
reunited by Shah Ismail I, the leader of the
Safaviya, a Shia militant religious order in PER CENT OF THE WORLD’S POPULATION
Iranian Azerbaijan. His dynasty lasted 200 years,
unified a splintered Iran and was instrumental political instability led the way for the Ba’athist republic. For the previous 16 years, the Shah
in converting the Sunni-dominated nation to its coup of 1963 (backed by the US and UK). of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, had ruled the
present Shiite state. Formed in the late 1940s, the Arab Socialist country as an autocracy with support from the
Ba’ath Party called for the unification of the Arab US. The revolution against him was inspired by
Mesopotamian conflict world with freedom from non-Arab interference. the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a marja – or
The land along the Tigris-Euphrates river system, Tensions within the new Ba’athist government “source of emulation” – in the Shia Islam clergy.
originally known as Mesopotamia, has been led to another coup in 1968, which saw Ahmed Khomeini had long denounced the Shah for
contested for thousands of years, with control Hassan al-Bakr become the new President. his attempts at westernising Iran, his links with
passing from the Babylonians and Assyrians He was assisted by Saddam Hussein Abd al- the US and Israel, and for causing the spread
to the Romans, Sassanids and Mongols of the Majid al-Tikriti, Vice Chairman of the Ba’athist of moral corruption (although the Shah had also
Timurid dynasty. By the mid-1500s, Iraq had Revolutionary Command Council. And although overseen a series of health and social reforms,
fallen under Ottoman control, but throughout al-Bakr was notionally in charge, by the end of helped women’s suffrage, instituted profit
its 400-year rule the region was the focus of a the 1960s it became clear that it was his deputy sharing for workers and drastically improved
struggle for power between rival tribes and the who was pulling all the strings. Iraqi income).
neighbouring empires of the Turks, the Safavids Saddam Hussein rapidly gained a reputation Khomeini came into conflict with the Iranian
of Persia and the Mamluks of Georgia. as a progressive politician, instigating government in the mid-1960s, calling the Shah a
Between 1514 and 1639, the Ottomans reforms across the country to modernise “wretched, miserable man” who had “embarked
and the Persians engaged in five wars, the the economy, industry and infrastructure, on the [path toward] destruction of Islam in
last of which was concluded with the Treaty of and improve education and literacy – for his Iran”. He was jailed for six months and forced
Zuhab. Other treaties would follow, but this one efforts in introducing welfare services and into exile in Iraq, where he stayed for 14 years.
is considered the most significant as it drew public healthcare, Saddam received an award On 17 January 1979, the Shah left the
the current Turkey-Iran and Iran-Iraq borders, from UNESCO. But his vision of a unified and country, ostensibly on holiday, and never

1921 1941 1953 1958 1963

Britain creates the Kingdom of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi Mohammad Mosaddegh, the Iraq’s monarchy is overthrown by Qasim is himself overthrown
Iraq following the capture of becomes the Shah of Iran democratically elected Prime a military coup and declared a in a coup led by the Arab
Baghdad in WWI. Faisal, leader after his father’s abdication Minister of Iran, is removed republic. General Abd al-Karim Socialist Ba’ath Party. Qasim
of the Arab rebellion, is placed during WWII. from power by a coup carried Qasim becomes Prime Minister. is executed and the footage
on the throne. out by the CIA and MI6 over publicly broadcast to prove
fears of communist sympathies. that he’s dead.
Mosaddegh remains a hugely
popular figure in Iran.

returned. His connections to the US, unbridled the Shah – was more than capable of repulsing launched a full-scale invasion into Iran on 22
royal extravagance, and reports of corruption Iraq’s meagre forces. September 1980. Surprise air attacks on Iranian
and brutality saw public opinion turn against This simmering tension seemed to be air-force targets proved ineffective, enabling Iran
him. Nationwide strikes and demonstrations eliminated with the signing of the Algiers Treaty to launch counter-attacking bombing raids on
brought the country to a standstill and, in in 1975, in which Iraq removed limitations on Iraq. The next day, a two-pronged attack took
December 1978, upwards of six million people use of the Shatt al-Arab waterway, and Iran place, when some 10,000 Iraqi troops invaded
marched against the Shah’s regime. promised to stop funding the Kurds. However, southern Iran, and a mechanised infantry
Two weeks after the Shah left, Khomeini the removal of support by Iran and the US division crossed into Iran’s central provinces.
returned and set about turning Iran from a saw the Kurdish Peshmerga rebels crushed by Saddam had banked on the Iranian people
western-style monarchy to an Islamic republic, Saddam’s forces in a brief campaign that cost turning against their new Islamic republic but,
with the cleric as the country’s Supreme Leader. around 20,000 lives. instead, his military action saw them rally
However, despite Khomeini’s popularity, there Iran’s Islamic revolution proved to be to their country’s cause; by November, the
were still factions that opposed this new something of a doubled-edged sword: while defenders’ numbers had swelled by 200,000.
theocratic state, which had set about undoing it removed the Shah, whom Saddam viewed With Iran’s air power still effective, Iraq’s
the Shah’s program of reforms, and returning as a common enemy, it also advocated Pan- supplies were destroyed and progress ground
the country to Islamic policies. Nationwide Islamic policies in direct conflict with Iraq’s to a halt. By the start of 1981, both sides had
uprisings began among the country’s secular Arab nationalism. reached a stalemate, and it was here that Iran
groups, some of which lasted more than a year With Iran in a state of civil and political introduced “human wave” attacks, in which an
and cost thousands of lives. unrest, and its military effectively disbanded by absence of heavy weapons was countered by
the ruling theocracy, Saddam Hussein saw his a huge amount of volunteer troops: what they
Territorial dispute opportunity: a strike against Iran would allow lacked in firepower, they made up for in numbers
In Khuzestan, an Iranian province on the Persian him to liberate the oil-rich Khuzestan province – and a corresponding amount of casualties.
Gulf, an uprising was started by a local Arab and also dethrone Egypt as the dominant power The war would drag on until 8 August 1988,
separatist group seeking independence from its in the Middle East. when only the threat of a full-scale Iraqi assault
new rulers. Saddam Hussein had long claimed Saddam’s Sunni minority rule also faced the by its rebuilt military, and chemical weapon
Iraqi ownership of the province, and helped prospect of regime change from Shiite factions strikes against major cities, forced Ayatollah
foment separatism in the region. In retaliation, inspired by the Iranian revolution. He believed Khomeini to accept the UN ceasefire. The
Iran began arming the Kurdish troops in the that the anti-Ba’ath riots in Iraq’s Shia areas financial cost of the war was only exceeded by
north, who continued to resist control from had been instigated by Iran, and used the the cost in lives, with around a million dead and
Baghdad, and provided training camps on assassination of 20 Ba’ath Party officials by as many severely wounded. In 1990, Iraqi troops
Iranian soil. This dispute sparked a number of Shia militants in 1980 as a pretext to attack. withdrew from Iran, and ownership of the Shatt
border wars in the mid-1970s, although Iran’s With a new and fully equipped army, paid al-Arab was split between the two countries,
military – built up during a spending spree by for by the oil boom of the 1970s, Saddam more or less as it had been 15 years before. w

An Iranian Revolutionary
Guard holds his rifle aloft
in triumph over a burned-
out Iraqi truck, near Qasr-e
Shirin, Iran, October 1980
Getty Images

1968 1979 1980 1982 1988

An internal power struggle Despite social reforms, the With continuing conflict over Despite several proposals for A UN-sponsored ceasefire
within the Ba’ath Party leads to Shah of Iran’s popularity fades national borders and Iran’s an Iraqi troop withdrawal, Iran goes into effect, bringing to
another coup in which Ahmed and nationwide protests force support for the Iraqi Kurds, refuses to negotiate unless an end the longest war of the
Hassan al-Bakr becomes him to leave the country. The Saddam Hussein orders his Saddam Hussein’s government 20th Century.
President, supported by his monarchy is removed in favour forces to invade Iran. The US, is overthrown. The war rumbles
deputy, Saddam Hussein. of an Islamic republic led by the UK, Russia and several European on into a stalemate.
Ayatollah, Ruhollah Khomeini. nations all try to get in on
the lucrative arms market.

Members of the Post Office
Rifles line up in London

s t ory

H war
. . ..
.. . .

RO N First World War: When Britain was plunged into conflict,
the men of the Post Office answered the call and were sent
to mainland Europe, to serve and die in their thousands

HEN LORD KITCHENER ISSUED and weekends for drill practice at the Tower On the Western Front, the men from the
his call to arms a week after of London, and for route marches through Post Office soon began proving their mettle.
the declaration of the First the city, had seen action in the Boer Wars In May 1915, the First Battalion of the Post
World War in 1914, the men before taking up their jobs in the Post Office, Office Rifles fought bravely at the Battle
of the Post Office – at the time, the largest many were untested in battle. They had joined of Festubert, where they suffered their first
employer in the world – didn’t disappoint him. up as much for the camaraderie, and for real losses. A few months later, they were in
Immediately, 11,000 employees volunteered the football and cricket matches held after action again at Loos, while the following year
(in total, 75,000 went into service during the work in the evenings, as for the military saw them at the Somme, participating in the
conflict). Some signed up for their own local training. And the new recruits who volunteered successful capture of High Wood.
regiments, others with the Royal Engineers after the outbreak of war were even less In January 1917, the Second Battalion
Postal Section – which was responsible for experienced in the practicalities of battle. – which had been formed in September
transporting mail to and from the frontlines – 1914 and had initially served as a reserve
while a large number joined the organisation’s Bloodthirsty warriors regiment supplying reinforcements for the First
own fighting force, the Post Office Rifles. However, in the autumn of 1914, the mild- Battalion – were called into action. They initially
Before the war, the Post Office Rifles had mannered men from the Post Office were fought at the Second Battle of Bullecourt in
consisted of voluntary, part-time soldiers. transformed into bloodthirsty warriors. In France, but in July they were sent across the
Formed half a century earlier to guard Post place of jolly weekends drinking beer around Belgian border for more pressing matters.
Offices in London in the wake of Irish acts of a roaring fire at the country estate of one
terror in the capital, they had recently been of their aristocratic officers, the Post Office
absorbed into the Territorial Army as the Rifles were put through the wringer of
Eighth Battalion of the London Regiment. military discipline – first at an Army camp in
The war saw a massive expansion of the Crowborough, East Sussex, and then in the
Post Office Rifles – as more and more men grounds of the Leavesden Lunatic Asylum in
volunteered, it quickly grew from one battalion Hertfordshire, the only building in the area
to three. But these territorial units had a lot that could accommodate almost a thousand
to prove. Many people dismissed them as men. The former Post Office workers would
little more than “Saturday soldiers”, and even train day and night, learning to fire rifles This article is an abridged
extract from Duncan
Lord Kitchener himself referred to them as and hurl hand grenades, acting out mock Barrett’s book Men
a “town clerks’ army”. engagements with imaginary enemies, and Of Letters, published
To begin with, the sceptics had a point. bayoneting sandbags. By the time they sailed in paperback by AA
Although some of the postmen and to France in March 1915, they were itching to Publishing, RRP £8.99.
messenger boys who gave up their evenings join the fight and show what they could do. © Duncan Barrett 2014

His Majesty The King has been graciou sly pleased to approve
the award of the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned
Officers, Non-com missioned Officers and Men:

No. 370995 Sgt. Alfred Joseph Knight, Lond. R. (Notting ham).

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty during the operations against
the enemy position s. Sgt Knight did extraordinary good work, and showed
exceptional bravery and initiative when his platoon was attackin g an
enemy strongpoint, and came under fire from an enemy machine gun.
He rushed through our own barrage, bayoneted the enemy gunner
and captured the position single-h anded. Later, 12 of the enemy
with machine guns were encountered in a shell hole. He again
rushed forward by himself, bayoneted two and shot a third,
causing the remainder to scatter... His several single-h anded
actions showed exceptional bravery, and saved a great number
of casualties in the company. They were performed under heavy
machine-gun and rifle fire, and without regard to persona l risk,
and were the direct cause of the objectives being captured.
Extract from The London Gazette, 8 November 1917, reporting
on the only Victoria Cross awarded to a Post Office Riflema n

When the battalion arrived, the Third Battle the battle wrote at the time, “Fancy fighting and the rest of us to danger,” Kingston was
of Ypres – known today as Passchendaele, Germans for a land like this. If it were mine, told. “If you want to help him, you’re going
after the village that was its ultimate objective I’d give them the whole damn rotten country.” to have to wait until nightfall.”
– had already been under way for a month, The rest of the men moved on, but
and had descended into a disaster to rival the Kind gesture Kingston stayed behind with Rogers, who
Battle of the Somme in 1916. The Second Battalion had experienced pretty was gradually sinking deeper into the sludge.
On this occasion, it was the weather that bad mud already. Going up the line in March When darkness fell, he began working to get
was largely to blame. The timing of the British 1917, a signalman by the name of Rogers his comrade free.
Second Army’s attack could not have been had accidentally stepped off a duckboard trail Rogers was buried in mud up to the waist,
less fortuitous – the rainfall in the area during and had begun to sink into the black slime. and the only way Kingston was able to get him
the summer and out was by cutting
autumn of 1917 was
five times worse than The Post Office Rifles had been part-time off his waders and
trousers. Eventually,
it had been for either
of the previous two soldiers, formed half a century earlier to guard Rogers was able to
slither out of them
years. Men in the
trenches were often
Post Offices in the wake of Irish acts of terror and clamber up
from the slime onto
up to their waists the duckboard trail.
in water, and in no man’s land the situation Rifleman Kingston had knelt down and tried He looked quite a sight, covered in the filthy
was even more grim. Injured men could be to help him, removing the kit Rogers was muck from head to foot, with full military
caught out by a new burst of torrential rainfall, carrying a piece at a time. But his kind uniform on his top half and nothing but his
drowning in shell holes that they were too gesture drew the irritation of one of the underwear down below.
weak to struggle out of. battalion officers. “You’re exposing yourself
To make matters worse, the drainage
system in the area was extremely delicate,
with an unusually high water table, and
the fortnight-long artillery bombardment
that preceded the battle had turned much
of the ground into a kind of murky porridge.
Men who had already seen action at the
Somme had a rough idea of the quagmire
that awaited them, but Passchendaele
was far, far worse than anything they had
come across in France. Tanks found the
ground to be completely impassable,
and things weren’t much better for the
infantrymen. One soldier who fought in

Sorting through the post in the Home Depot at
Regent’s Park, London. Some 75,000 Post Office
workers would serve in the armed forces during WWI.


Alfred Knight was the only member of
the Post Office Rifles to be awarded the
Victoria Cross, which he received for
“most conspicuous bravery and devotion
to duty during the operation against the
enemy positions,” following his exploits at
Passchendaele (see box on previous page).
Born in Ladywood, Birmingham, he joined the
Post Office as a clerical assistant, working
in the North Midland Engineering District.
Alfred survived the war and also received an
OBE for his services in the Ministry of Labour.
He died in Birmingham in 1960, aged 72.

But Kingston already had a solution. In August, the appalling weather
“Take your jersey off,” he told his comrade. led to a temporary halt to the battle, but by LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
Rogers promptly removed his tunic, and then the end of the month the sun had begun The programme for a Post Office Rifles dinner
the jumper he was wearing underneath it. to shine once more, and Field Marshal Haig and concert held at the Theatre St-Cecile, Lillers,
Then, under Kingston’s instruction, he held was determined to try again. He ordered France, on 7 December 1915.
the garment upside down and stepped into another massive artillery bombardment,
the arm holes. It was an unorthodox pair of this time lasting a full three weeks, and the whistle was blown, their minds began to
leggings, but it was better than nothing. on 20 September, at 5.40am, the next big wander. One of the Post Office Sergeants,
push began. This time, the Second Battalion Alfred Knight, was imagining what it must feel
Broken spine were one of the units going over the top. like to be a man condemned to execution,
Not all mud-related crises ended so happily, Their objective was to capture a section of trying to get a final night’s sleep before taking
however. Rifleman Harvey of the First Battalion the German line leading up to Wurst Farm, the walk up to the hangman’s noose. It didn’t
witnessed another man slide off a duckboard as part of the Battle of the Menin Road seem a million miles away from the situation
into the mire. When two of his comrades were Ridge. The section the Post Office Rifles were he and his men found themselves in now.
unable to pull him out between them, they charged with taking contained three enemy Knight was a 29-year-old man from
attached a chain to a pair of mules and tried strongholds, known as Hubner Farm, Genoa Birmingham who had worked for the Post
to get him out Office as a clerical

Several men wept as the man was shot by a

that way. Through assistant in the North
the layers of mud, Midland Engineering
Harvey heard a
crack as the man’s colleague from the Post Office: a bullet in the District. He had
already been highly
spine was broken
in the attempt. The
head was preferable to suffocation by mud praised for his bravery
during an attack in
mules got him out, France four months
but he died not long after. Farm and Marine View. The plan was to seize earlier – his promotion to Sergeant had come
In the ground around Ypres, the Second these key points first, and then to force the about thanks to “gallant conduct” in helping
Battalion started to witness such horrors rest of the Germans in the line to surrender. wounded comrades to safety under heavy fire.
on a regular basis. One day, when they were As was becoming common practice, the But no one could possibly have predicted the
on the move, a man slipped and fell into objectives had been marked out on a training extraordinary acts of heroism he was about to
the quagmire. His friends begged their ground, and a scale model of the battlefield commit at Wurst Farm Ridge.
Sergeant to stop and try to rescue him but, prepared with viewing galleries 20 feet above The moment the creeping barrage opened
as their comrade began to slide out of sight, from which the men could study it. By the time up, the men of the Second Battalion hurled
there was nothing they could do. Several the Post Office Rifles assembled for battle on themselves out of their trenches and began
soldiers could be seen weeping as the man the night of 19 September, they knew exactly the dash across the slippery ground of no
was shot by a former colleague from the Post what they were supposed to be doing. man’s land. Keeping good note of their
Office: a bullet in the head was considered By 3am, the men were in position and training, they hugged the barrage close, and
preferable to suffocation by mud. ready to go over the top. In the lull before at times the shells were falling less than


a dozen yards in front of them. They made the Sergeant lost his footing and found Alfred Knight’s heroism and quick thinking
fast progress across the terrain, but the himself buried up to the waist, his face and paid off handsomely. Before long, the battalion
casualties were heavy. Soon, both No. 1 and tunic spattered all over. There was another had secured all three strongholds, and the
No. 3 Companies were without any officers at stronghold up ahead, and a group of Germans Germans were beginning to surrender. It
all – every one of them had been either killed there were shooting at some of Alfred’s was a costly battle for the Post Office Rifles,
or badly wounded. comrades. Without stopping to consider his with 90 men killed and many more seriously
Sergeant Knight, though, seemed to be own safety, he opened fire on them and, soon, injured, but, thanks in large part to Sergeant
protected by some kind of magic charm. He half a dozen lay dead. Knight, the operation had been a success.
was carrying on his person every one of the The remaining Germans returned fire and More generally, across the eight-mile front of
various objects that were popularly supposed Alfred felt the bullets ping off his helmet. the advance, things had gone well too, and by
to stop a bullet – and, as the morning wore He watched as the spray from a machine noon most of the Army’s objectives had been
on, every one of them did: a cigarette case, gun drew patterns in the mud all around successfully achieved.
a miniature picture frame and even a book him. But somehow, he was able to extricate For his part in the Battle of Wurst Farm
were all torn himself and clamber up to relative safety. Ridge, Alfred was awarded the Victoria Cross,
or smashed to the highest honour
pieces, but the for gallantry in the
Sergeant remained When Sergeant Knight saw men from No. 2 British Army. When
free from injury.
It was not for lack Company under fire, he stormed up to the gun he returned home
on leave to receive
of bravery. When
Sergeant Knight saw emplacement and captured it single-handedly the medal from King
George V, he found
a group of men from himself treated as
No. 2 Company under fire from With hardly any officers left on the a celebrity. In his home city of Birmingham, he
a German machine gun, he stormed up to the battlefield, Alfred rounded up a group of was feted with a ceremonial presentation and
gun emplacement and captured the position. survivors and issued his own orders. He invited to address the assembled masses.
Then, with a cry of, “I’m after this, boys!”, he could see a platoon struggling to take one When members of the public asked him
charged on to a second post, shooting and of the farmhouses, so he brought his band what they could do to help the men at the
bayonetting several enemy troops there and of men up to offer assistance, firing on the front, Alfred had a simple answer for them.
causing the rest of them to scatter. enemy’s flank and giving his comrades the What the men valued more than anything else,
But all the heroism in the world was no chance they needed to claim victory. he told them, were letters. If the people in
use against the force of the mud. Soon, As one suitably impressed eyewitness the crowd wanted to help boost morale in the
later commented, “It is not exaggerating to trenches, the most important thing they could
suggest that the entire command of the do was pick up a pen and write. It was hard
COMRADES IN ARMS troops in these operations fell on Sergeant to imagine that this war hero had once been
Sergeant Alfred Knight (pictured holding a pipe) with his
Knight, and had he failed, the chances are a mere clerical worker but, in his heart, Alfred
comrades of the Post Office Rifles. Two battalions served
that the whole of the work put into that was still one of the men from the Post Office.
at Ypres, Passchendaele, Loos and the Somme, with the
loss of around 1,800 men and a further 4,500 wounded.
particular push would have been in vain.”

A field-service postcard sent by author Duncan
Barrett’s great-great-uncle. The cards were used by
soldiers for speed, as they didn’t require censoring.

While Alfred was back in Blighty giving

speeches, for his comrades in the Second
Battalion the horrors of the Western Front
continued. A month after the attack at Wurst
Farm Ridge, they were ordered back to the
frontline to participate in the battle for
Passchendaele itself. It was to be a night
operation, with the Post Office Rifles going
over just before dawn. Once again, they
were given a series of enemy strongholds to
conquer, all of them former farms or houses.
There was no trench from which to launch
the attack – instead, the men followed a
fragile duckboard trail through fields of sinister
black slime until they reached a white line
taped out on the ground. Here, they silently
prostrated themselves, clinging to the muddy
earth beneath them or hiding behind the lip
of a shell hole as they waited for the signal
to advance.

Sitting ducks
For the men from the Post Office, the attack
was an unmitigated disaster. Even before
they began to move forward, many of them
were caught by the shells of the creeping
barrage, which were falling dangerously close
to their positions. As soon as they did start
to advance, they found themselves stuck in
impassable mud, and while they struggled to
heave their legs out of the morass, they were
sitting ducks for enemy snipers.
The lucky ones made it to the relative safety
of a shell hole, but once the sun came up and
the Germans could see across the battlefield,
there was little chance of advancing any
further. At the slightest hint of movement, they
would be hit by a torrent of gunfire.
Rifleman Fred Shewry was one of the men
left cowering in a shell hole for the rest of
that long October day. Every so often, a shell
would fall nearby, almost deafening Fred and
the men who were with him, and showering
them with a fresh layer of mud and slime. All
around, they could see the remains of what
had once been their comrades.
For some, the endless waiting, soaked
to the skin and exposed to the bitterly cold attack, over 120 of them had been killed Rifles to capture any of their objectives.
air, became too much to bear. “I can’t stand – and the battalion had not gained a thing. Their attack had been nothing more than
this any longer,” one man told Fred, before Among the dead was the 1,000th Post Office a diversion, designed to draw the Germans’
standing up and making for a nearby British Rifleman to perish since the start of the war: attention away from the real advance being
pillbox. He got only a few steps away from the Lance Corporal Bailey, a 24-year-old former made by some Canadian units.
shell hole before he went down, shot through postman from Walworth in London. Since the Canadians had ultimately
the head by a sniper. proved successful in taking the village of
As darkness fell, Fred and the other Terrible losses Passchendaele, the General was delighted.
survivors made their way carefully back to The men felt deeply dispirited, both at the However, the Post Office men were left with
their starting positions. They crawled on terrible losses they had sustained, and at their a bitter taste in their mouths. As they saw
their hands and knees, often sinking up to failure to make any headway in the battle. it, over a hundred of their lads had been
their armpits in the mire. At one point, Fred’s But when they were visited by their divisional killed in an attack that had been designed
rifle was swallowed by the mud and, try as commander a few days later, he seemed to to fail from the offset. Some blamed the
he might, he was unable to get it back. He be in a surprisingly upbeat mood. “I always battalion’s own commander, Lieutenant
felt desperate, like a fly trapped on flypaper. thought you were a lot of stamp-lickers,” the Colonel Derviche-Jones (known unofficially
Eventually, however, Fred and his comrades General told them frankly, “but the way you as “Kill-Boche Jones” for the bloodthirsty
reached the safety of the British positions. fought – you went over like bloody savages!” speeches he made before every battle). They
The surviving Post Office Rifles had little The men soon learned the reason for the felt that he had been too quick to offer his
hope of taking any of their objectives now, with General’s good spirits. As it turned out, the men up as a sacrifice, just to please those
so many men out of action. In the day’s failed Army had never intended the Post Office above him in the chain of command. w

A 15-year-old Congolese Cobra
militiaman, nicknamed “the
Japanese” for his fast skills
in combat. The Red Cross and
Red Crescent charities have
appealed to governments to outlaw
children’s participation in war


Africa’s Great War: As the 20th Century came to an
end, the costliest conflict since the Second World War
engulfed Central Africa, apparently sparked by 1994’s
Rwandan Genocide. Nick Soldinger reveals that its true
cause was rooted in the region’s brutal colonial past…

PRIL 6TH 1994, At 8.26pm, as Kinani’s plane begins
8.21pm. Kigali, its descent, two “shooting stars”,
Rwanda. The pilot of as one eyewitness later puts it, slice
a Falcon-50 corporate through the night sky, zooming up from
jet requests the direction of the Kanombe barracks,
permission to land five miles to the south – home to
at Kigali International Kinani’s Presidential guard. What the
Airport. On board are seven Rwandan eyewitness sees, however, aren’t comets
officials, the President of Burundi, and but surface-to-air missiles – Soviet-
Rwanda’s dictator Juvénal Habyarimana, built SAM16s. One misses, the other
aka “Kinani” – the “invincible one”. finds its quarry, smashing into the aircraft
Kinani has ruled Rwanda for over at 1,000mph. The jet erupts, igniting
20 years, overseeing a regime that has the sky, and the explosion is heard by
treated the country’s Tutsi minority no every Hutu and Tutsi in the city. Colonel
better than dogs. Lately, though, the Bagasora’s apocalypse is about to begin…
dogs have bitten back. A three-year-long
civil war ended with a peace agreement Twisted corpses
promising the Tutsis a share of power. The Tutsi leader Paul Kagame and
That was in August the previous year. his Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF)
The treaty still hasn’t been ratified, though, were immediately blamed for the
and the UN, backed by the US, is piling assassination. The Hutu hardliners seized
on the pressure for Kinani to comply. As power and, over the next 100 days,
his plane circles the airport, the dictator’s went about their work with machete, rifle,
grip on power is slipping, and he knows axe and club. When the killing was over,
All images © Getty

it. So do the men he’s led all these the twisted corpses of over 800,000
years. Men like Hutu hardliner Colonel Tutsis – men, women, children, babies
Théoneste Bagasora, who responded to – lay rotting in the streets and fields, or
the terms of the peace treaty by warning floating bloated in the rivers and lakes.
the Tutsis to “prepare for the apocalypse”. Was Kagame’s RPF responsible for
Kinani’s assassination? It’s a matter
that’s still disputed to this day. What isn’t

HUTU HARDLINERS disputed is what happened next. While

the UN’s response to the genocide was

SEIZED POWER infamously lumbering, Kagame’s was not.

Backed and armed by the US, his army,

AND WENT ABOUT which had been hemmed in behind a

ceasefire line north of Rwanda along the

THEIR WORK WITH Ugandan border, swept down and by the

end of July had driven the Hutu leadership

MACHETE, RIFLE from power, and sent over two million

Hutu refugees scurrying west over the

AXE AND CLUB border into Zaire. The stage was now set
for a conflict that would result in more

than five million further deaths, and affect
the lives of around 180 million people as
it drew in nine countries, including Burundi,
Angola and Zimbabwe. It would become
known as Africa’s Great War, and would
be fought across the continent’s entire
belly, in the country then known as Zaire.

Gunned down
Today, Zaire is known as Congo – the
original name 19th-century European
colonialists ascribed to the region
after the mighty river that loops its way
through its mineral-rich basin and endless
rainforests. The colonialists were
Belgians who, in 1885, under the orders
of their King, Leopold II, claimed the land
in his name. It became his personal
plaything and, over the next 23 years,
he made, in today’s money, a billion-dollar
fortune from it, via forced labour, ivory
and rubber, before handing it over to the A group of women in Accra,
Belgian state. His financial gain came Ghana, take part in a
at the cost of up to 15 million lives, as mourning parade for Patrice
Lumumba, the murdered
the local population was gunned down, former Premier of the Congo
burnt out, starved and enslaved. It was
one of history’s worst genocides, and
yet remains so obscure that nobody
can be sure how many actually died.
At first, Leopold’s brigands came for FOUR MONTHS Kinshasa, 1,200 miles to the west.
The aim, it soon became clear, wasn’t
ivory and rubber but, in their pursuit of
these resources, they soon discovered LATER, LUMUMBA simply to go after the Hutus, but
the country’s seat of power. Kabila, it
that the soil was alive with minerals:
gold, diamonds, copper, cobalt, coltan, WAS HANDED OVER seemed, was being backed to topple
Zaire’s long-term dictator, Mobuto
manganese, uranium, tin and iron all
teemed in the Congolese earth. TO SECESSIONIST Sese Seko. For more than 30 years,
President Mobuto had been the West’s
Such a land was never going to be
left in peace (it’s estimated that it still THUGS, TORTURED, go-to guy in Central Africa. He’d been
installed as leader of Zaire in 1965,
has 24 trillion dollars’ worth of untapped
mineral deposits – equivalent to the
combined GDP of the EU and the US),
BEATEN AND SHOT after the so-called Congo Crisis.

Poisoned toothpaste
and so it came to be that by the end of In 1960, when Belgian colonial rule
the 20th Century, the Congolese people came to an end, the country’s first-ever
had become cursed by the riches that 1994 were countless members of democratically elected leader, Patrice
lay beneath their feet. The Rwandans, the Interahamwe, the militias that Lumumba, was voted in as Prime
Zimbabweans, Ugandans, even the had annihilated the Tutsis. They hid Minister of the newly named Democratic
Congolese, all claimed to have noble themselves in plain view among the Republic of the Congo (DRC). At that
reasons for waging a war that was to people on whose behalf they’d committed time, Congo was so underdeveloped, the
kill so many and plunge Central Africa mass murder. Telling who was a fleeing Belgians believed they could relinquish
into a desperate darkness. But what war criminal and who a displaced administrative control of the country,
really drove these men, and the men farmer in the scores of squalid refugee without losing grip of its resources.
who led them, and the men who backed camps that mushroomed in Zaire’s There was no real infrastructure in place
them, was good, old-fashioned greed. border provinces of North and South for nation-building – few roads or railways,
Among the mass of Hutu refugees Kivu was nigh on impossible. Not that and barely a trained native engineer
who fled into Zaire in July Kagame’s troops would have much or architect in the land. Belgium’s 75
interest in discriminating between the years of colonial rule had taken much
two if they ever got the opportunity for but contributed little. The Congolese
Mining operations in Katanga revenge – an opportunity that Kagame may have wrestled their land back, but
province, circa 1960 was hurriedly engineering. in the eyes of their former overlords
By 1996, the militias in the camps they were children, who would need the
were apparently well organised enough guidance and technical expertise of
to mount cross-border raids back into their European superiors if they were to
Rwanda. They were, Kagame also survive – services the Belgians would,
insisted, staging attacks on the local of course, charge handsomely for.
Banyamulenge people – the ethnic Tutsis The left-leaning Lumumba, however,
in South Kivu. As the year drew to a had other ideas, using his Independence
close, an armed insurgency suddenly Day speech to remind his countrymen
sprung up in the province to resist this that they’d had to endure years of
reported threat from the Hutus. Led by “humiliating slavery” under the Belgians,
Laurent Kabila, a Congolese-born former and how their “proud struggle” now left
bar owner with a taste for whisky and them both “liberated and equal” to those
revolutionary politics, the insurgency who’d once ruled them. Such sentiments
was as suspiciously well equipped as spooked the West. Not least a major,
it was swiftly organised. Before long, Belgian-owned mining conglomerate in
Kabila’s vigilantes would turn their the country, which reacted by initiating a
attention towards the country’s capital, secessionist movement in the mineral-rich

LAURENT KABILA (1939-2001)
When Laurent Kabila suddenly came to power
in 1997 – the apparent puppet-leader of a
Rwandan-inspired coup – hardly anyone had
heard of the man who ousted Zaire’s President
Mobutu Sese Seko. The outgoing dictator
knew who Kabila was, however, as the pair of
them had had beef going right back to Congo’s
immediate post-colonial past.
Mobutu had seized power in the early
1960s, after a CIA-backed coup had left the
democratically elected Patrice Lumumba
full of bullet holes. Kabila, who’d returned
from France as a Marxist after studying
Kabila brought
politics there, was a Lumumba supporter,
misery to millions
and his hero’s execution set him off on the
Then-US President Ronald path as a revolutionary-turned-opportunist.
Reagan meets Mobutu Sese During Congo’s ensuing civil war, Kabila beautiful women.” Concluded Guevara, “Nothing
Seko in Washington DC, 1983 fled to the eastern edge of the country, where, leads me to believe he is the man of the hour.”
in 1963, he set up a rebel enclave and made Thirty years later, however, Kabila was
a lot of noise about toppling Mobutu. In the leader of the DRC, having spent most of
1965, the poster boy of the Cuban Revolution, his life in the political wilderness while exiled
Katanga province in Congo’s south-east – w CONRAD’S
Che Guevara, turned up offering to help. The
exasperated Argentine spent six months trying
in Tanzania. In the intervening years, he’d
variously set himself up as a warlord, smuggler,
home, incidentally, to the impressionable CONGO to forge Kabila and his men into an effective bar owner and kidnapper. He was essentially a
21-year-old Laurent Kabila. The Belgians THE DEMOCRATIC force, before sighing loudly and hoofing it back small-time gangster who, when he was plucked
bankrolled a private army to force the REPUBLIC OF to Havana. In his diaries, he complained about from obscurity and parachuted onto the world
secession through, and any cut-throat THE CONGO IS Kabila’s lack of commitment to the cause, noting stage, used his criminal smarts to cling to power
willing to kill for cash was invited to join THE SETTING how, rather than fight, he preferred to hang for four years – bringing misery and death to
– white Rhodesians, South Africans and FOR JOSEPH out in “the best hotels, drinking scotch with millions in the process.
Europeans, including Nazi veterans of
World War Two, all rushed to join its ranks. DARKNESS. THE
Not that the Belgian businessmen NOVEL TACKLES Zairian government soldiers
needed to worry. As far as Cold War march after surrendering to the
THEMES OF rebel forces of Laurent Kabila
America was concerned, this Lumumba COLONIALISM in the town of Kisangani, 1997
guy was clearly a commie, and he needed AND RACISM.
to go. The CIA plotted his assassination,
planning at one point to kill him with
poisoned toothpaste. But in the end,
they plumped for a coup, backing Mobutu
– then a 30-year-old army officer – to
lead it. Within 12 weeks of his election,
Lumumba was in prison. Four months later,
he was handed over to secessionist thugs
in Katanga, tortured, beaten and shot.

Phoney display
Mobutu was then installed as dictator.
To prove to the people that he was
more than just a puppet of the West, he
embarked on a campaign of pro-African
awareness and renamed the country
Zaire. But it was a phoney display of as greedy as Leopold, Mobutu would be It began with Kabila’s forces seizing vast
African pride as cheap as the leopard-skin Washington’s favourite African dictator. swathes of Congolese territory in the
Zairian Tutsi rebel
toque that adorned his head at all future children soldiers play At least until the Cold War ended. east. By Christmas, they were in complete
photo-calls. As far as Capitol Hill was with AK-47 Kalashnikov By the time of the Rwandan Genocide, control, but there was to be no good
concerned, they had their man. Rabidly assault rifles and sub- the West had tired of Mobutu. Containing will to all men. With the US and the UN
anti-communist, corrupt, compliant and machine guns, 1996 communism in Africa had been a priority “looking the other way”, and supported
during the Cold War, and Mobutu had by forces from Burundi, Uganda and,
certainly had his uses, interfering in both most notably, Rwanda, the Tutsis exacted
Sudan and Angola, where pro-Soviet coups a revenge on the Hutus that may not
had been successfully stymied. By the have taken as many lives (an estimated
mid-Nineties, though, the pack was being 200,000 were massacred in the Hutu
reshuffled, and Mobutu – whose record refugee camps), but was no less barbaric.
of human-rights abuses was dwarfed only The official line might have been that the
by the amount of cash he’d embezzled Tutsis were exacting a just punishment on
from his own treasury – was a card the the génocidaires, but the truth was that
Americans no longer needed, nor wanted, they slaughtered anyone who failed to run
in their hand. He’d become expendable fast enough. Man, woman or child.
and if he was to be replaced by a puppet – With the new year came a new ally
and one who’d been personally mentored – Angola to Kinshasa’s south. With its
by Che Guevara, no less – then so be it. support, Kabila felt confident enough to
Laurent Kabila would be Congo’s next take the capital, and turned his campaign
dictator. Another coup was hatched. westward. Mobutu’s forces offered little
The First Congo War, as it was called, resistance, and the inevitable overthrow
was short-lived. Starting on 26 October was slowed only by the country’s appalling
1996, it lasted just over six months. lack of infrastructure. By May, an ailing

largest and most determined mercenary
force in his country – the Interahamwe,
the Hutu militias that his rebellion had
been created to destroy. A month later,
in late July, he dismissed his Rwandan
Chief of Staff, General James Kabarebe,
thanked Rwanda for its help, and invited
his military ally to leave the country.
The touch-paper was lit. A few days
later, on 2 August, the DRC’s 10th
Brigade, stationed in North Kivu’s
capital, Goma, declared itself in open
revolt against Kabila. That same day,
Rwandan Army units invaded from the
east, while in Kinshasa a firefight broke
out between Congolese Tutsis and forces
A Congolese soldier stands
loyal to Kabila. The Tutsis were routed,
guard as clandestine boatmen and Kabila ordered that all remaining
leave Brazzaville on a barge Tutsis in the capital be hunted down.
for Congo’s war-torn capital The peace had merely been a ceasefire.
Kinshasa, where they will
try to do some trading, 1998
Now the real killing would begin.

Audacious plan
Although Rwanda and her allies had

THE PEACE HAD Mobutu had fled to Morocco, and Kabila

had installed himself in the Presidential
powerful forces assembled in the east
of the DRC, Kabila had no reason to

MERELY BEEN A Palace. From here, he reverted the name

of the country back to the Democratic
panic. After all, it had taken him months
to reach Kinshasa when he and his

CEASEFIRE. NOW Republic of the Congo, and named

himself the country’s undisputed leader.
rebellion had started from a similar
position the previous year, and he’d faced

THE REAL KILLING It wasn’t, however, how many Congolese

citizens viewed him.
little resistance. When the Rwandans
came, they would not only face the same

WOULD BEGIN With the overthrow complete, and the

threat from Mobutu dying with him when
topographic obstacles that his army had,
but determined opposition, too. Many
he succumbed to cancer four months Congolese were by now convinced of
after the ceasefire, there was no reason Kabila’s leadership, and were rallying
for the foreign troops – particularly the around him to repel the invaders. In
Rwandans – to hang around. And yet, the meantime, Kabila could broker
there they were, in the bars and cafés, or deals with his neighbours to the south,
on the street corners of Kinshasa, while west and north to raise support for his
in the east of the country, they occupied fledgling regime – after all, he had plenty
the provinces of North and South Kivu, to bribe them with.
regions rich in coltan deposits – a mineral The Rwandan alliance, however, was
used widely by the electronics industry not about to afford Kabila the luxury of
– as well as vast gold and tin reserves. time, and a daring plan was devised. As
It was a huge area – effectively the size the offensive in the east escalated, they
of Greece – and richer in resources than would airlift an army 1,200 miles across
the whole of Rwanda. the country to Kitona air base, 200
Criticism of Kabila grew louder. Rather miles west of Kinshasa near the Atlantic
than seeing him as a liberator, his own coast. This airborne assault would then
people now claimed that he was little march east, seizing key objectives, before
more than a pawn of foreign powers, just attacking Kinshasa. Along the way, it
as his predecessor had been. At this would absorb Congolese deserters,
point, an increasingly isolated Kabila dissidents and the Tutsi soldiers who had
Congolese child victims took an outrageous gamble – one that fled Kinshasa into its ranks. Meanwhile,
of the conflict play in
an orphanage in Goma his Rwandan puppet-masters and their a Rwandan “fifth column” would go to
US backers could never have dreamt that work in the city, distributing arms and
he’d dare take. He cut the strings. recruiting combatants. It was audacious
In June 1998, perhaps realising what to say the least, but the Rwandans had
the Tutsis – both Rwandan and Congolese just the man to lead such a mission;
– were up to, he secretly approached the someone who knew Kinshasa’s
1885 1908 1960 1961 1963 1965
Belgian ruler Leopold An ageing Leopold After years of Backed by Belgian Prime Minister Katanga’s bid for General Joseph
II announces the hands over control of anti-colonial riots, mining interests, Lumumba is murdered, secession is called off. Mobutu is installed
establishment of the Congo to the Belgian Congo becomes Katanga province reportedly with US and as dictator.
Congo Free State, state, having made independent, with declares itself Belgian complicity.
headed by himself. a personal fortune Patrice Lumumba independent from
from it. Millions have elected as Prime Congo. Belgian and
been killed during his Minister. He quickly UN troops are sent in
control of the region. announces a rejection as civil war escalates.
He dies in his palace of Belgian influence
at Laeken a year later. in the region.

THE BELLIGERENTS SUDAN Although never officially involved,
Sudan’s troops clashed with Ugandan forces
along its own border, as well as supplying
They may be called the Congo Wars, but the African Great War is now over, there remains
these bloody conflicts saw the involvement of an uneasy peace between the countries involved, anti-Ugandan rebel groups in retaliation for
numerous nations, as political agendas, long- and the feeling is that – with Congo still Ugandan support of anti-Sudanese rebel groups.
standing feuds and greed were thrown into sitting on a vast wealth of natural resources,
a melting pot of murder and mayhem. While those tensions could erupt again at any time…
Long-standing Tutsi
alliances in Uganda
ensured the country’s
military involvement in
the war. The riches
CHAD Encouraged by to be plundered from
France, which was keen the DRC persuaded
to regain influence it to dig in (literally)
in the region, Chad for the duration.
sent 2,000 troops
to the DRC’s aid. Its
involvement was short-
After Hutu militias
lived, however. Accused
fled to Congo to find
of human-rights
protection under
violations and looting
the Mobutu regime,
from the start,
Rwanda established a
they soon withdrew.
Congolese insurgency
to topple Mobutu. When
Rwanda’s appointed
successor, Kabila, then
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC sided with the Hutus,
OF CONGO After a second war broke out.
the 1994 Rwandan
Genocide, the fleeing
Hutu perpetrators
ANGOLA Supported
Kabila throughout
brought vengeance-
– firstly to help him BURUNDI
seeking Tutsis in their Like Rwanda, Burundi
topple Mobutu in
wake. Along with their was ethnically split
retaliation for his
allies, these began to between Hutus and
previous backing of
plunder the DRC’s vast
Angolan rebels, and
NAMIBIA Officially Tutsis. A civil war
natural resources. drawn into the raging there ensured the
then to prevent a
conflict on the DRC’s country’s involvement as
power vacuum evolving
side due to a trade fighting spilled across
that might help those
agreement, Namibia’s its borders with the DRC.
same insurgents.
real reason was to
defend the lucrative
mining concessions
ZIMBABWE Its well-equipped troops played
a key role in defending Kinshasa in 1998.
it had in the country.
Its air force later helped keep the Rwandan
Its influence, while
advance at bay. The price of its support? Access
minimal, attracted huge
to diamond seams in the south of the DRC.
international criticism.

backstreets and Kabila’s tactical thinking forms a corridor of land that links Congo’s war swiftly. Only one thing presented
intimately, and the country to the west of vast interior with its only access to the a real threat to that success – the
the city well – General Kabarebe, Kabila’s sea – a slender 27-mile coastline on intervention of Angola. The country had
recently sacked Chief of Staff. the Atlantic. Bas-Congo is the country’s sided with Kabila’s uprising the previous
The Rwandan plan was as brilliant as smallest province, but strategically it’s year, and had proved instrumental in
it was bold. This wasn’t just a way of vital. Not only is it home to the country’s tipping the balance. Angolan territory lay
causing Kabila a headache on a different main sea port at Matadi, but also Congo’s mainly to the south of the airbase, but it
front; it was a way of targeting Congo’s only oil reserves and its primary source also held land to the north, in the enclave
economic umbilical chord, the Bas-Congo of electricity, the Inga dam complex. If of Cabinda. The Angolan Army was big –
province. This region west of the capital successful, the operation could end the its 112,000 soldiers alone outnumbered

1971 1989 1994 1996 1997 2000

Mobutu renames the After decades of The Rwandan Genocide Tutsi rebels capture Laurent Kabila, After Kabila tries to After a 1999 peace
country Zaire and embezzlement results in the murder huge chunks of backed by Rwanda, sling his Rwandan accord is struck but
himself Mobutu Sese by Mobutu, Zaire of some 800,000 eastern Zaire. captures the Zairian backers out of the not observed, the UN
Seko, in an attempt defaults on loans from Tutsis and a change of capital, Kinshasa, and country, Rwanda and sends a 5,500-strong
to prove that he’s a Belgium. Development government in Kigali, is installed as the Uganda invade the UN peacekeeping
genuine post-colonial programmes are as a Tutsi army under country’s new dictator. DRC and advance force to the country.
African leader, not cancelled. The the leadership of Paul Zaire is renamed the on Kinshasa. Angola, It makes little impact.
the West’s puppet. economy begins to Kagame drives two Democratic Republic Zimbabwe and
spiral out of control. million Hutus over of the Congo. Namibia send troops
the border into Zaire. to repel them.


The Inga dam complex, located

220 miles south-west of Kinshasa,
was seized by James Kabarebe’s
rebels in August 1998. However, with
help from his neighbours, President
Kabila was soon able to recapture it

the combined troops of the Rwandan But Angola wasn’t the only country
alliance – and, after a 20-year civil war, it Kabila had managed to enlist the help


was battled-hardened. Angola’s support – of. Appealing directly to the countries
or, at the very least, its neutrality, was vital. that make up the Southern African

For the moment, Angola stood on the Development Community – which the
sidelines watching silently. So Kabarebe DRC was and is a member of – he’d


loaded his planes, kissed the crucifix also secured support from Namibia and,
around his neck and gave the order crucially, Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe,


to go. By the morning of 4 August, his whose military was one of the best-
1,200-strong contingent had boots on the equipped in the region. As Kabarebe

runway at Kitona air base. Its defenders advanced on the capital, he found
had swiftly capitulated, and were soon that Zimbabwean Special Forces,
persuaded to switch sides by the kitbags complete with armour and air support,
full of US dollars Kabarebe had brought had bolstered the Congolese forces
with him. Other objectives, such as the blocking his path. The “fifth column”
nearby petrol works and port, were also w PRESIDENT contingent marched ever closer. Panic never materialised either – popular
quickly seized and, in subsequent days, PRIVILEGES now engulfed the capital, and thousands support for Kabila had grown in the wake
additional flights brought in another 3,000 THE LATE fled in terror. Then, on 22 August, of the invasion, and Kinshasa’s dark,
troops. The contingent began its march CONGOLESE with Kabarebe less than 20 miles electricity-starved streets were now lit
east, collecting fighters to its cause as PRESIDENT from Kinshasa, Angola picked a side. up with the burning corpses of those
it went. Within two weeks, Kabarebe MOBUTU SESE The next day, Angolan President José suspected of collaboration. Kabarebe’s
had captured the Inga dam complex, SEKO WAS Dos Santos sent 2,500 troops, supported mission was doomed.
NOTORIOUS The hounded Rwandan troops fought
immediately ordering its hydroelectric by tanks and aircraft, to defend Kinshasa.
turbines be shut down. Congo was being LIFESTYLE, They attacked the Rwandan-held airfield a desperate rearguard action up into
plunged back into darkness. WHICH INCLUDED at Kitona, overwhelmed the Rwandan Cabinda, the Angolan enclave north of the
An outmanoeuvred Kabila scrambled CONCORDE- rearguard and severed Kabarebe’s line DRC. Here, they were eventually spat
for allies. He lobbied his neighbours FLOWN SHOPPING of retreat. Unable to withdraw, Kabarebe out of the fighting via a captured airfield.
for military assistance as Kabarebe’s TRIPS TO PARIS. decided to push on towards Kinshasa. By Christmas 1998, after five months

2001 2002 2005 2006 2011

Laurent Kabila is The DRC and Rwanda A peace deal is A new constitution The first free elections Joseph Kabila is Kabila is elected
assassinated. Joseph sign a peace deal, signed in South is agreed by former in four decades are declared winner of the for a second term
Kabila succeeds his under which Rwanda Africa between the warring factions held. With no clear Presidential election, as President. The
father as President. will withdraw its Kinshasa government in the DRC. winner, incumbent under the scrutiny of news is greeted with
troops while the DRC and Congolese rebel leader Joseph Kabila international monitors. violence in Kinshasa
will dismantle Hutu groups. A plan is and opposition and Mbuji-Mayi, where
militias responsible put in place for a candidate Jean-Pierre official tallies indicate
for Rwanda’s democratic transition. Bemba contest a that the strong
1994 genocide. run-off poll in October. majority voted for the
opposition candidate.

A Congolese soldier carrying a
rocket-launcher and a Kalashnikov rifle
walks through the streets of Kinshasa

IN 1994 –



Rwandan leader Paul Kagame’s entire life has been RPF in the invasion of his homeland. Despite being
overshadowed by the ethnic hatred between Hutus and outnumbered, by avoiding direct assaults, using
Tutsis. These two distinct ethnic groups in east Central prolonged artillery barrages and allowing the Hutus Kagame was criticised
Africa got dumped inside the same national boundaries to concentrate their efforts on the genocide, he won for plundering Congolese
during the colonial carve-up in the 19th Century, with the war in just three months. His tactics betrayed mineral deposits
the “more negroid-looking” Hutus ending up at the bottom both the pragmatic side of his character, and his
of the social pile thanks to their racist rulers. When ruthless streak.
colonial rule came to an end in 1959, the Hutus took Much criticised for his later role in Africa’s
out their resentment over this on their Tutsi neighbours, Great War and the plundering of Congolese
and Kagame’s Tutsi family, along with thousands of others, mineral deposits, Kagame is a man obsessed with
fled north to Uganda. Here, the former rich kid grew up stabilising Rwanda. He attempts this through
in a refugee camp. strict control of the press, the opposition (critics
After graduating from university, the canny Kagame frequently disappear or turn up dead) as well as
became Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s Chief of the economy. He also talks down the importance
Intelligence, before forming the RPF, an exiled Tutsi army of ethnicity, calling on all Rwandans to help
designed to retake Rwanda. Following further military transform the country from a land of subsistence
training in the US, Kagame returned in 1990 to lead farmers into a middle-income economy. For
the insurrection against the Hutu government in Kigali. Kagame, making Rwanda a wealthier country
Then, when Hutus began the 1994 genocide, he led the is the key to saving it from future genocides.

of battle, Kabarebe returned to Kigali, are unrepeatable here. Congo, with its It seemed the whole country was being
with what was left of his badly mauled endless bounty, green rainforests, and plundered. Zimbabwe grabbed diamond
force. At its peak, his army had been sparkling, sun-lit lakes and rivers, was seams in the south. Angola joined the
around 15,000-strong. He made it out a paradise made pandemonium by the Congolese government in an oil venture
with less than 3,000 men. greed of man. One by one, thriving villages in the west. Rwanda and Uganda (when
After the Rwandan reversal at were replaced by filthy mines that tore they weren’t squabbling over the spoils)
Kinshasa, the war became bogged down up the earth. One by one, the surviving pillaged the east of everything from
in a deadly stalemate in the east. The villagers were transformed into broken minerals and timber to ivory. And always,
next two years were a muddled, bloody zombies who would work these mines, it was the unarmed locals who paid the
mish-mash of in-fighting and murder. hacking out the minerals the West would price. Ceasefire agreements were drawn
The lines become so blurred, it was no pay top dollar for to make its weapons, up, only to be broken, while the insertion
longer clear who was fighting for whom, its war machines and its mobile phones. of the most-expensive UN peacekeeping
as roving militias constantly changed operation in history – over 5,500 troops
sides and ravaged the land. What is were sent to the region in February 2000
clear is that it was the civilian population
who were made to suffer, as various AT ITS PEAK, alone – did little to stop the slaughter.
Only another assassination could do that.
warlords scrambled over each other for
control of regions and resources. KABAREBE'S ARMY Shot four times
The country became a killing field
where the power-hungry deracinated HAD BEEN 15,000- In January 2001, Kabila was in his
inner sanctum, the Presidential Office
communities with death squads, and
used gang rape as a weapon. Break the STRONG. HE MADE in the Marble Palace, Kinshasa. He was
wrestling over economic policy with an
women, and in front of their neighbours,
their husbands, their children – so the IT OUT WITH LESS advisor when his bodyguard walked in.
The 18-year-old, named Rashidi, was a
ghastly logic went – and you’ll break all
resistance. What stories did make it out
of this ghoulish netherworld
THAN 3,000 MEN former child solider who’d served Kabila
with unquestioning loyalty since he was
12. Kabila was the closest thing Rashidi
had in this world to a father, but someone
had obviously got to him. Approaching
Rwandan soldiers the President, he pulled his revolver out
guard a truck of of his pocket and shot him four times.
supplies, 1998 Rashidi was later killed while trying to
escape, taking the truth behind the
assassination with him. Rashidi’s reasons
for pulling the trigger are as mysterious
as the identities of those who got to
him. Was it the Rwandans? Was it their
American backers? Was it Kabila’s own
people? We’ll probably never know,
but the fact remains that the dictator’s
murder broke the stalemate.
Kabila was replaced by his son, Joseph,
and, almost immediately, Kabila Jnr
endorsed a peace plan that his father
had rejected. A ceasefire followed, policed
with some success by the UN. Angola
withdrew its troops, and Uganda pulled
back. Rwanda, however, refused to budge.
By now, it was occupying a chunk of the
DRC 27 times bigger than its own country,
on the pretext that it was hunting down
the génocidaires still hiding there –
despite reports that, in some cases,

If his father, Laurent Kabila, was a product of
the past, and Rwanda’s leader, Paul Kagame,
represents the present, then the DRC’s current Kabila (left) with UN Secretary
leader, Joseph Kabila, is perhaps a hint of General Kofi Annan, 2001
Central Africa’s future.
Born in a rebel camp in eastern Congo, and
brought up in Tanzania witnessing his one-time
revolutionary dad carve out a living as a crook,
Kabila Jnr would appear to have had the ideal
grounding in the Realpolitik of the region.
While following a military curriculum at
university, he got to put his lessons into practice
when his father called on him to help him
overthrow Congo’s dictator, Mobutu, in 1996.
After the revolution, his father sent him to China
to finish his education, and when he returned
his father promoted him to Chief of the Armed that stopped the war altogether, and set
those same génocidaires were employed Laurent Kabila’s coffin Forces for the duration of Africa’s Great War. the DRC on course for its first democratic
is carried by Congolese His experience of battle, combined with all elections in over four decades. In 2006, he
in the mines there. officers, January 2001.
Rwandan resistance, however, was that martial education, left Kabila Jnr with the became the country’s first legitimately elected
His son Joseph (in
crumbling, blighted by in-fighting, fatigue black), appointed as
understanding that the last thing his country leader since the murdered Patrice Lumumba,
heir to the Presidency, needed was more war. When he reluctantly and he has since been re-elected.
and mutiny. As the east descended accepted the offer to become the DRC’s leader Things are far from perfect in the DRC. Joseph
follows behind
further into chaos, the west under its after his father’s assassination in January 2001, Kabila inherited a country with a 120-year legacy
new leader became increasingly stable. the first thing he did was endorse a ceasefire of corruption, terror and grotesque exploitation.
Foreign aid started to flow back into that his hardline father had rejected. However, for the first time in its history, maybe –
Kinshasa, and the economy eventually By the end of 2002, as the world’s youngest just maybe – the Democratic Republic of Congo
calmed down. Perhaps sensing the head of state, he’d brokered a peace deal finally has a man who can lead it into the light.
shift in power against him, Rwanda’s
leader, Paul Kagame, was persuaded
to take a seat at the negotiating table.

Rape victims
On 30 July 2002, in South Africa, Rwanda
finally signed a peace deal with the DRC.
In exchange for the withdrawal of the
20,000 or so Rwandan soldiers in the
Kivu provinces, the Congolese promised
to dismantle all Hutu militias serving
there. Five months later, on 17 December,
a further agreement was signed in
Pretoria among the various Congolese
factions. It promised to return the DRC
to the democratic status it had been
robbed of 42 years earlier with Patrice
Lumumba’s murder, with the assurance
of elections within two years. With its
signing, Africa’s Great War was formerly
declared over.
As the ink dried on the documents,
though, it was clear that nobody had
won, while the cost of this avaricious
madness had been horrific. An estimated
5.4 million people had lost their lives –
civilians mostly who had been burned,
starved, shot and driven from their lands.
Today, Congo is home to more than
200,000 rape victims, both male and
female, from those darkest of times,
while the country itself – rich enough
still in resources to make it the greatest
powerhouse on the African continent –
is officially the poorest country on the
planet. And while the war may have been
officially over for 12 years, the crackle
of gunfire still frequently silences the
birdsong in the rainforests of the east.
Rogue groups of bandits there still attack
villages and each other, while unpunished
génocidaires still lurk in its jungles. Then,
of course, there are the children of Congo, A newspaper-seller in Kigali gives
a thumbs-up as sales increase,
many of whom witnessed all that killing, with the population eager to
all that mutilation, all that rape. They are read of the peace agreement
on the brink of adulthood now. Soon, it will between the Democratic Republic
be their turn to see if they can find a way of the Congo and Rwanda, 2002
through the grim shadows of the past. w


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Starving internees at the
Belsen concentration camp
wait at the cookhouse gate for
their rations of potato soup

Back to the past


Second World War: The worst conflict Europe has ever witnessed wasn’t just fought
on battlefields and across the skies. The Nazis also waged war on the continent’s civilians.
Nick Soldinger follows their trail of terror from Anne Frank’s house to Auschwitz…

IRST, THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN which traverses Europe exploring the Holocaust.
the shouts of the SS men in the street It’s a fitting place from which to begin a journey
below. Then the echo of their boots back into Europe’s darkest hour, as it brings to
as they made their way up the stairs. life the story of Anne and her family in intimate
And finally, the clang of their weapons detail. It reminds you that amongst that grainy
as they tore their way into the secret newsreel footage of diseased corpses being
hiding place… Standing in Anne Frank’s bulldozed into ditches at Belsen, Buchenwald
House in Amsterdam, one can almost and Dachau, between all those bewilderingly
imagine the fateful morning in August 1943 big numbers you read about in history books,
when the Nazis came for the teenage diarist and were real people. People like little Anne,
her family. What’s harder to grasp is the fear whose 13-year-old face smiles at you from a
that the young girl must have felt as her worst photo on the wall as you enter the museum.
nightmare, which she’d lived with for so long,
suddenly and terrifyingly came true. Vile crusade
Getty Images

The house, essentially five claustrophobic Thirteen was how old Anne was when she and
rooms above a warehouse in central Amsterdam, her family went into hiding on the premises.
is the first stop on a new historical tour entitled She’d already had an eventful childhood. Born
The Story of Anne Frank and Oskar Schindler, in Frankfurt in 1929, she was just three when

More than a million people
were killed at Auschwitz

Hitler came to power. A year later, her father Otto The workers in the warehouse were apparently exactly where the informant – who’s never
relocated the family to Amsterdam, hoping to oblivious to the tragedy evolving above been identified – said they’d be. Anne had been
escape the escalating anti-Semitism in Germany. their heads, so quiet were the eight hidden only four years old when she’d left Germany.
By 1940, though, Hitler’s vile crusade had inhabitants. During the day, a step was barely The Nazis now returned her, ten years older,
caught them up, as his stormtroopers invaded taken, words were only whispered and the in a crammed cattle train bound for Belsen.
the Netherlands. As the Nazis’ grip tightened, toilet was never flushed. Indeed, the annexe
“undesirables” – such as Anne’s Jewish family Condemned to death
– were targeted for extermination. There was
no way out for Otto this time – the borders were THE WORKERS IN THE The site of the former concentration camp
is where the tour lands next, just across the
blocked – so on 6 July 1942, he sneaked his
family into a secret annexe behind his business WAREHOUSE WERE APPARENTLY border into northern Germany. Preserved as
a memorial, today Belsen is a haunted place
premises in the city centre, to wait out the
war. Here, they lived with a further four Jewish OBLIVIOUS TO THE TRAGEDY where the birds still seem not to sing.
A simple stone there remembers Anne and


fugitives for the next two years in staggeringly her sister Margot. They both died of typhus
testing conditions. there in March 1945. Anne was not yet 16.
With the curtains constantly drawn, and no Berlin is the next stop, and a visit to the
sound allowed during the day, it was a world was so well concealed, few even knew of its Wannsee Conference Centre. It was here that
starved of sunshine, conversation or stimulus. existence. Even fewer were aware that the only senior Nazis signed off The Final Solution in
For a child – certainly one as vivacious as Anne way in was through a secret doorway concealed January 1942, condemning millions of innocents
– it should have been unbearable, and yet, behind a bookcase, at the top of a stairwell no – including Anne – to death. It’s an insightful
despite the darkness, she somehow thrived. employee had any reason to climb. link in the chain, as the tour’s odyssey then
As she wrote in her famous diary, “I long to ride Somebody must have climbed it, though, heads into Poland itself, where so many of the
a bike, dance, whistle, look at the world, feel or perhaps heard something, because on 4 “undesirables” swept up by the Nazis – Jews,
young and know that I’m free… [But] we’re not August 1944 the annexe was raided by SS-led Slavs, gypsies, gays – were dumped and then
allowed to look out of the window or go outside. police, who found the eight terrified occupants murdered. The tour ends up, like many of them,
Also, we have to do everything softly in case
they hear us below… then I’m afraid we’ll be
discovered and shot.” Anne’s diary is on display
at the Anne Frank
Museum in Amsterdam
Getty Images

Anne Frank was sent to a

concentration camp when
she was just 14 years old


Book of hope
Anne Frank’s diary was a valuable companion to the
young girl as she endured months of being holed up
PA Photos

in a secret hideaway with no sunlight or conversation. It

remains an inspiration to many people around the world.

in Auschwitz. The name of modern nightmares. The Memorial to
The dark vortex that sucked in over a million the Murdered Jews
lives, chewed them up in its gas ovens, then spat of Europe, in Berlin
out their ashes like a malignant snow. But even
here, in this story, we find a glimmer of hope.
Not every Jew who passed through Auschwitz
perished. Anne’s father, Otto, survived and
went on to publish his dead daughter’s diaries,
ensuring her story was never forgotten. There
were others who also inspire, such as the Nazi
factory owner Oskar Schindler, who saved 300
women from the camp’s deadly riptide in 1944.

Huge privileges
Thanks largely to the Steven Spielberg movie,
Schindler’s name is as celebrated today as
Anne Frank’s. His factory, “Emalia” – also on
the itinerary – still stands in Krakow, 40 miles
east of Auschwitz. This one-time munitions plant
is now a museum to Schindler and his legacy, and often given double rations, rather than be hanged or shot other “undesirables” with
although when the 31-year-old entrepreneur beaten or starved to death. Schindler may have impunity – although justice would eventually be
acquired it just after the German invasion of started out a bon viveur Nazi of convenience served at the Nuremberg courthouse, southern
September 1939, not even he could have who hoped to get rich quick, but the horrors he Germany, where the tour concludes.
guessed that it would eventually transform witnessed during the liquidation of Krakow’s Oskar Schindler claimed it took a “miracle”
him from scoundrel to saviour. ghetto transformed him into one of history’s to do what he did. It didn’t. It took courage;
As a member of the Nazi party – albeit an bravest humanitarians. courage to resist – the same courage the Frank
opportunistic one – Schindler was entitled to His greatest play was yet to come, though. family displayed by not giving in. That’s the
huge privileges in the newly occupied lands, and In July 1944, with the Soviets approaching, lesson this tour teaches, and the reason why
he knew it. He also knew that it could make him the Nazis ordered easternmost concentration the names Anne Frank and Oskar Schindler
rich, and within weeks of arriving as Emalia’s camps such as Emalia to close and send their beam a message of hope throughout history. w
prisoners to Auschwitz. Schindler bluffed again,


arguing that his camp made weapons that were
vital to the war effort. He persuaded officials to The Story of Anne Frank and
move his camp, with its “specialised” workforce,
300 OF HIS FEMALE WORKERS to Brünnlitz, Czechoslovakia. When officials Oskar Schindler tour
asked for a list of who was on his workforce, Price from £1,029 per person. Includes: 11 nights’
BEING SENT TO AUSCHWITZ Schindler supplied one – with 1,200 names on
it. The rest, as they say, is history. Apart from
accommodation with continental breakfast; travel
door-to-door by Silver Service luxury coach from a

INSTEAD OF BRÜNNLITZ one last twist. A clerical error led to 300 of his
female workers being sent to Auschwitz instead
convenient local joining point; and historical visits
as described, with assistance from one of Leger’s
specialist guides.
of Brünnlitz, and it took Schindler a month and
Departure dates: 22 September 2014;
new owner, he had won huge contracts to supply most of what was left of his personal fortune to
4 May 2015; 27 July 2015; 10 August 2015;
the Wehrmacht with cookware and, crucially, get them out. It’s thought that, in today’s money, 21 September 2015
expanded its manufacturing output to include Schindler – who ended the war penniless –
For more details
munitions. Schindler soon reduced his labour spent £8million saving his workers. Not that a
on this and other
costs, too, by replacing Polish workers with price can really be put on what he achieved. tours, visit www.leger.
cheaper ones from the local Jewish ghetto. An estimated 20 million non-combatants co.uk or call
His new workforce was good. So good, in weren’t as fortunate as Schindler’s 1,200. As 0844 846 0808.
fact, that when, in March 1943, the Nazis the Nazis’ terror campaign spread, they gassed,
liquidated the ghetto and marched its Jews
off to the death camps, Schindler’s stayed
behind. Schindler had struck a deal to keep Schindler’s factory in
them, converting his factory into its very own Krakow, where he saved the
lives of hundreds of Jews
concentration camp, complete with barbed-wire
fences and watchtowers. It was, however, a ruse.
On the outside, Emalia looked like any other
respectable Nazi arbeitslager. On the inside,
though, “inmates” were treated with respect

Getty Images


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It took 11 years to erect
and cost the Canadian
government 1.5 million
Canadian dollars, but the
Vimy Ridge monument is a
truly impressive tribute to
those who died during WWI
PA Photos

the fallen
First World War: The Battle of Vimy Ridge has proven significant on many levels: it formed
a vital aspect of the 1917 Battle of Arras, its battlefield now houses one of the world’s most
impressive war monuments, and, as Paul Pettengale discovers, it helped forge a nation

BACKSTORY PPROACHING FROM A DISTANCE, Vimy Ridge fell to the Germans in October
It’s 1917 and the war in you’re easily fooled into thinking 1914 during the Race to the Sea, where French
France rages. In Arras, that one of Canada’s greatest and British forces competed with the Germans to
near to Calais, the British monuments to its fallen is a outflank each other throughout northern France
are digging tunnels relatively small construction, such at the beginning of the Great War. The French
under German enemy is the vastness of the surrounding topography tried to recapture the ridge on several occasions
lines in preparation for
and the distant horizon that it presents. – notably during the Second and Third Battles
the climactic Battle of
Arras, and to the north Looking across miles and miles of landscape of Artois in May and September 1915 – and
the Canadians are tasked of north-western France, the sheer scale of the although losing around 150,000 men in the
with conquering the two-pillared edifice only becomes apparent as you attempt, they failed to achieve success.
imposing Vimy Ridge. approach through the meticulously maintained The French Tenth Army withdrew from the
grassed areas enveloping it. Arras area in February 1916 in order to intensify
The twin pylons stand 30 metres (120 feet) their efforts against the Germans in Verdun.
from the base of the memorial steps. It doesn’t They were relieved by the British XVII Corps, and
sound a lot until you experience the dizzying effect so followed a cat-and-mouse series of battles

Vimy Ridge fell to the Germans during the Race to

the Sea, where the French and British competed
with the Germans to outflank each other
of standing at the foot of one of the limestone that employed mining and tunnelling, plus heavy
pillars and looking straight up at the figures shelling between the opposing forces. However,
carved into its summit. The monument’s stature Vimy Ridge remained under German control.
is emphasised by its position on the top of Hill
145, the highest point of Vimy, itself positioned Battle of Arras
145 metres (hence the name) above sea level During May 1916, the Canadian Corps assumed
on the 14 kilometre (nine mile) long ridge. responsibility for operations in the Vimy Ridge w GOING
sector, though under the command of British UNDERGROUND
Strategic importance Lieutenant General Sir Julian Byng. Months of TWENTY-FIVE
The Battle of Vimy Ridge took place from 9-12 planning followed, during which the British First KILOMETRES OF
April 1917. The offensive, conducted by the Army headquarters presented Byng with the task TUNNELS WERE DUG
Canadian Corps against the Germans, was part of commanding the Canadian Corps, supported UNDER ARRAS IN
of the Battle of Arras in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais by British Fifth Infantry Division, and British PREPARATION FOR
region of France. Vimy Ridge was considered to engineers and artillery; their aim was to take THE GERMANS,
have immense strategic importance because Vimy Ridge during the broader Battle of Arras that AT A RATE OF 80
it presents clear views across the Douai Plains was to commence in April 1917. METRES A DAY,
below. Hold the ridge and you could see what was The tactical plan was a significant factor in BY JUST 580 KIWI
going on for tens of kilometres all around you. the success of the subsequent attack. The AND BRITISH MEN.


Vimy Ridge in 1917;

utterly unrecognisable
from the photo to the left

The Vimy Ridge battleground

today, featuring bomb and blast
craters (and unexploded shells)

Canadian Corps and their British allies were to

attack four coloured objective lines, leapfrogging
each other as they progressed through German-
held territory. Snatch-and-grab tactics were to be
employed, supported by artillery bombardment of
German strongholds, and the British-devised plan
of digging tunnels under German lines and using
explosives to kill from below, creating massive
craters as a consequence.
But the Germans knew that the attack was
coming. A combination of intelligence gathered
around the Arras area and information handed
over by a Canadian soldier who had defected to Four attacking divisions under the command of defences, though achieved the Black Line a few
the Germans meant that the aggressors had a Byng were to fight sleet and snow as well as their hours later. The Green Line was soon to follow.
chance to plan a defence in Vimy. Unfortunately, human counterparts, as they pushed forward The attack continued, forcing the Germans
the tactics they would usually employ – whereby at 5.30am on Easter Monday, a day later than back, despite the deployment of their 79th
an initial strong frontline defence would take the planned due to a request from the French not to Reserve Division. The Germans rallied during the
brunt of the attack against them before falling commence battle on the religious holiday. evening, securing the third (Red) line, and, at the
back and regrouping – were flawed when it came The attack was supported by an immense end of the day, were satisfied that the worst of
to defending Vimy: the ridge was too narrow, barrage of artillery bombardment that utilised the Canadian offensive was over.
being just 700 metres wide in part, and heavily every single gun available to the joint Canadian It most certainly wasn’t.
sloped on the eastern side. The Germans’
solution was to launch a pre-emptive attack
against the Canadian troops, intended to capture On 9 April 1917, the struggle for Vimy Ridge
the nearby Zouave Valley at the northern point
of the Canadian front. However, this offensive commenced. A joint Canadian and British force
failed due to heavy artillery action on the part
of the Canadians, and left the Germans weakened. of some 170,000 men marched into battle
Sleet and snow and British Forces. Mine charges were then At 9.30am the following morning, the British
On 9 April 1917, the struggle for Vimy Ridge detonated under no man’s land and under ordered three reserve brigades to the Red Line to
commenced. A joint Canadian and British force German forward-defence lines. And in less than aid the Canadian First and Second Divisions. The
of some 170,000 men marched into battle an hour, the First, Second and Third Canadian fresh legs and minds benefited the subsequent
against German forces consisting of the 16th Divisions reported that they’d captured the Black onslaught. The leapfrogging tactic was again
Bavarian Infantry Division, the 79th Reserve Line – the first of the four line objectives. The used to advance through the German-held fields
Division and the First Bavarian Reserve Division. Fourth Division encountered greater German and villages, and just an hour and a half later, the
Allied forces had managed to push through to
capture the fourth (Blue) line. However, Hill 145,
the highest point of Vimy Ridge, remained under
The Canadian National Vimy
Memorial site features original
German control.
(though rebuilt) trenches. This Not for long, it transpired. The Germans were
one belonged to the Germans evacuating at a pace and by the arrival of nightfall
on 10 April 1917, Vimy Ridge was all but taken.
Only the very pinnacle of the ridge, called the
Pimple, remained – and remain it would for a
further two days of fighting.
During 11 April, the Pimple, which was
being guarded by the 16th Bavarian Infantry

A German gun
emplacement mounted
just yards from what
was the Canadian front

A race to the lines
This map shows the four coloured mission lines the
Canadians aimed to capture during the four-day Battle
of Vimy Ridge. They took the first, the Black Line, in
just under an hour from the start of the engagement.


Division, reinforced by the Fourth Guards Vimy Ridge offensive accounted for less than ten The Canadian Battlefields Memorial Committee,
Infantry Division, was subjected to constant per cent of Canada’s war dead. which was established in 1920, commissioned
bombardment and sustained gas attacks initiated Yet the Battle of Vimy Ridge had significant, the Canadian government to administer a
by the Royal Engineers. The following day, the far-reaching consequences for Canada as a competition to design a memorial, which would
Canadians pressed on. Although initially held nation, for it was the first time in the history of be erected on eight sites across Belgium and
back by German small-arms fire, they eventually the country that all four divisions of its Corps had France, the land for which had been donated by
succeeded in taking the whole of Vimy Ridge. fought together, albeit under the command of a those countries.
By the end of the day, 12 April, the Canadians, British Lieutenant General. Byng was succeeded The winning design was by Walter Seymour
supported by their British allies, had succeeded by Canada’s first-ever commander in the summer Allward, a sculptor from Toronto. A total of 160
in their overall objective. of 1917, when General Sir Arthur Currie assumed submissions had been received, and the 17
command of the First Division. Currie later shortlisted possibilities had been created in
Fallen soldiers described the Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge plaster for the Committee’s consideration. What
In all, 10,606 Canadian soldiers had fallen as “the grandest day the Corps ever had”. impressed the Committee members was that
during the battle, either killed (3,598) or But it was the impact on the Canadian national Allward’s design incorporated two towers rather
seriously injured. Total German casualties are psyche for which Vimy Ridge will be remembered. than the single tower the other submissions
unknown, though over 4,000 were captured as The battle has come to signify the unity of the featured; one tower was to represent Canada
a consequence of the action. In the context nation; of solidarity and national identity. No and the other France, in recognition of the
of the Great War, the Battle of Vimy Ridge wonder, then, that when the French offered sacrifice each of the countries had made in
was a relatively small aspect of the campaign land to Canada to construct its First World War fighting the war. However, due to the size and
conducted by the Canadian Corps. Of the memorials, the Canadians ultimately chose the complexity of Allward’s proposed monument,
418,052 Canadian soldiers who fought in World site at Vimy Ridge on which to build the largest it was decided that his twin towers would be
War One, 56,638 were to lose their lives. So the Canadian monument outside of the country. built in just one of the memorial sites, and that
the design of the runner-up, architect Frederick
Chapman Clemesha, would be erected at all
One of 20 statues on the others. (Clemesha was actually from Preston,
the monument, this one but moved to Canada in 1901.)
represents a mother’s Discussion then began as to which of the
grief at the loss of a son
memorial sites should feature Allward’s design.
General Currie favoured the Mount Sorrel site in
Ypres, but after some time it was decided that
the most fitting site would be where the four
Canadian Corps fought, united together for the
first time, at Vimy Ridge.

Herculean task
The construction of the memorial was a
herculean task. The precise location was to
be Hill 145, the highest point of the ridge, so
transporting materials there was a job in itself,
especially considering that the foundations
alone contain over 11,000 tonnes of concrete
and reinforced steel. Literally on top of that sits
6,000 tonnes of limestone from a quarry in
Seget in modern-day Croatia, which was mined
for the towers (or pylons), and the 20 sculpted
figures that adorn the structure.
The project took 11 years to complete from
inception to finalised construction, with the
first stone arriving for the building of the pylons
in 1927. The stone for the statues would not
arrive until 1931, at which point sculptors began

An entrance to one of
the tunnels dug by the
Canadians under the
German lines

Over 11,000 tonnes of concrete
and steel, and 6,000 tonnes
of limestone were used in the
monument’s construction

the job of carving them, housed in makeshift, are carved the names of the 11,285 Canadian opportunity to view the immense craters that
canvas-covered studios at the Vimy Ridge site. soldiers who lost their lives but whose bodies were formed during the fighting.
The project would eventually cost the Canadian have never been found or identified.
government 1.5 million Canadian Dollars. On 26 July 1936, the monument was unveiled Failing foundations
The monument features 20 figures in with a dedication ceremony attended by a Regrettably, Allward’s vision to create a
total: eight figures at the top of the pylons, staggering 100,000 people, including over 8,000 monument that would last many hundreds of
representing The Chorus; two figures of a dying veterans who had made the pilgrimage from years did not reach fruition, for after 60 years
the way in which the limestone was bonded

One tower was to represent Canada and the to the concrete foundations started to fail.
Water damage eroded the concrete where
other France, in recognition of the sacrifice each it came into contact with the limestone, and
a vast restoration project was needed.
of the countries had made in fighting the war This was embarked upon in 2001 and took
five years to complete, at a cost of 20 million
Canadian Dollars. On 9 April 2007, the Vimy
soldier passing a torch to a comrade as the Spirit Canada. It was unveiled by King Edward VIII, Ridge memorial monument was re-dedicated at
of Sacrifice; two groups, totalling seven figures, as the King of Canada – while still a Prince – a ceremony fronted by Queen Elizabeth II and
at the base of the monument acting as The had served on the staff of the Canadian Corps attended by Prince Philip, the Canadian Prime
Defenders; The Mourning Parents, representing in France during World War One. Minister Stephen Harper and the French Prime
the mothers and fathers of Canada’s war dead; As well as providing land for the monument Minister Dominique de Villepin, together with
and Mother Canada, who bows her head down itself, the French authorities agreed to grant thousands of visitors. The ceremony took place
towards a stone sarcophagus. space for the construction of the National on the 90th anniversary of the start of the
High up on one of the pylons sits a carved Historic Site of Canada, which comprises a Battle of Vimy Ridge. w
maple leaf, and on the other a fleur-de-lys, large visitors centre, reconstructed trenches
representing Canada and France respectively. (built on the original trench sites), a section of
Furthermore, all around the wall of the monument the underground tunnels on the ridge, and the
Visiting the Canadian National Vimy
The view from the
monument takes in Memorial site
the largest slag-heaps The Canadian National Vimy Memorial site is
in Europe, situated a relatively short drive from the city of Arras in
in Pas-de-Calais
north-west France. By car, take the N17 north
of Arras and then pick up the E15/A26 towards
Aix-Noulette. Turn left onto the D55, which will
take you directly to the Memorial Park (just
follow the road signs).
The site is closed from mid-December through to
mid-January, but is open for the rest of the year
from 9am until 5pm. Guided tours are available
from February until the end of November, though
not on Mondays.
Phone +33 3 21 50 68 68
Email vimy.memorial@vac-acc.gc.ca
History of War visited the Canadian National
Vimy Memorial courtesy of the Pas-de-Calais
Tourist Agency (www.visit-pas-de-calais.com)
and P&O Ferries (www.poferries.com).

Military M I L E S T O N E S

In warfare, protecting yourself is every bit as important as inflicting
damage on the enemy. Steve Jarratt traces the progression of body armour
from the Assyrians through the Romans to the 21st Century…


One of the oldest forms of personal
Chainmail is the weaving together of rings to
protection, lamellar armour was made form a flexible metal fabric, which is worn over
from hundreds of small, rectangular a padded vest. One shirt of chainmail consists
iron, bronze or hardened-leather plates, of between 10,000 and 50,000 rings. It is
or “lamellae”. These were laced together believed that chainmail was developed by the
to form tough yet flexible armour, with Celts, as rusty examples have been found in
varieties including Brigandine, Scale, Celtic graves in Romania dating back to 400BC.
Splint and Ring. Egyptian bas-reliefs from The earliest depiction of a soldier wearing
1700BC depict soldiers wearing a form chainmail armour is that of a Persian warrior of
of lamellar armour, although the only 359BC, however examples of bronze chainmail
physical examples date back to the Assyrians date as far back as the Etruscans over 3,000
between 900 and 600BC. The Asian form years ago. Chainmail was developed in different
of the armour was first developed in China regions and is distinguishable by its ring
around 300BC, before spreading to Japan, pattern, which identifies its source as western
and often used leather plates that were Europe, Italy, Japan or Persia. In around 200BC,
hardened by boiling or lacquering (the the Romans – having been defeated by the
First Emperor’s terracotta army can be seen Gauls – began to adopt European-pattern mail
shirts, known to historians as lorica hamata.

wearing lamellar tunics and helmets). Lamellar
armour was later used by races all across Chainmail went out of favour with the rise of
Asia, including the Mongols, Rus and Turks, plate mail, but can still be seen in use today in
and remained in use until the 16th Century. activities such as butchery and shark-diving.

2000BC 1500 1000 500 0 100AD 200 300 400 500 600 700 800


THE DENDRA PANOPLY Greek infantrymen, or Hoplites, were named after the
round shield they bore, the “hoplon”. Their armour
The oldest-known example – which was paid for by each individual – consisted Gaius Marius’ introduction of
of full-body bronze armour – of the Corinthian helmet, greaves or shin armour, a standing professional army
or “panoply” – is that found in a breastplate and a backplate, and was very expensive. led to the creation, in 30BC, of
1960 in the village of Dendra, There’s little naturally occurring tin or copper in a standardised uniform, which
southern Greece. Dating from Greece, so all the raw materials had to be imported, needed to be practical, simple
the late Mycenaean period, to mass-produce and easily
Mary Evans
and the armour itself was complex to make, needing
the bronze armour consists to be hand-beaten from a single sheet of bronze and repairable. The armour
of a two-piece cuirass with “raised” to create deeply concave forms. Hoplite was variously of lamellar,
hinged plates, three- armour was poorly designed for close combat: the scale or chainmail
piece shoulder guards helmet was uncomfortable and restricted vision design. During the time
termed pauldrons, and a and hearing, while the “bell corselet” thorax limited of the Roman Republic,
large collar or gorget. The movement and was heavy. This resulted in severe soldiers wore the lorica
components are of relatively perspiration, leading the wearer to become dehydrated. squamata – scale
simple construction with armour made of small
no major shaping, except iron or bronze plates
around the arms, and are sewn into a fabric shirt.
bound together with pieces In the early Roman
of cord and lined with Empire, the lorica
leather. The helmet is hamata chainmail was
made of multiple slices introduced, adopted
of boar tusk stitched to from Celtic designs.
a leather cap and finished The more familiar lorica
off with bronze cheek segmentata was introduced around

guards. The bulk and 100AD, and featured a series of

weight of the armour horizontal plates around the torso,
suggest that it was worn with segmented shoulder guards,
by an archer charioteer. held together with leather straps.

The advent of the longbow inspired
another technological change in
armour design. By the time
of the Battle of Agincourt
between the English
and the French in 1415,
the coat of plates was
being supplemented
by articulated armour
over the arms and
legs. This in turn led to
the development of full
suits of plate armour.
The use of case-
hardening (or
by Milanese
also provided
metal that
was harder
and tougher.
For the next 200
years, anyone in
possession of
a suit of good-
quality armour was
Following the First World War, different materials were
trialled in an attempt to gain maximum protection
with minimum weight, but these still largely consisted
almost invulnerable of steel plates. However, with the invention of the
The armour used by Japanese samurai came into to the weapons synthetic fibre Kevlar in 1965 by Stephanie Kwolek
being in the late 700s. Early versions were of lamellar of the day. Plate of DuPont (who passed away in June of this year),
construction using individual scales called kozane, armour continued to armourers had a new material with which to work.
which were connected by leather or silk to form develop, becoming Woven Kevlar is five times stronger than steel of an
the cuirass or dou. The plates were either made of ever more stylised equal weight, and provides lightweight protection from
toughened, lacquered leather (nerigawa), or iron (tetsu). and decorative, and shrapnel and bullets. The US Army began issuing its
A full suit consisted of many components, including its widespread use Kevlar-reinforced PASGT vest and helmet combo in the
the cuirass and helmet, shoulder and forearm guards, was only brought 1980s. Since then, a number of different materials
thigh and shin guards, a neck guard, and the signature to an end by the Istockphoto
have been developed that are both lighter and more
panels at the front and back called kusazuri, which introduction resistant than Kevlar. The standard body armour of
protected the lower body and upper leg. A fearsome- of the musket in today’s US military is the Improved Outer Tactical
looking facemask, or mengu, was tied to the helmet. the 16th Century. Vest, which features hard ceramic plate inserts.

0 900 1000 1100 1200 1300 1400 1500 1600 1700 1800 1900 2000 2100

Probably due to the extra The arrival of firearms rendered full body
protection required during a armour redundant, but there was still need
joust, the next major revolution for some sort of personal protection. Men
in armour took place during the fighting in the American Civil War bought steel
12th Century, with the advent of vests to help protect them in battle, and in
the coat of plates, also known WWI a variety of personal armour was tested.
as the jack of plates. Basically, New techniques included the use of layered
this involved sewing or riveting material like silk and rubber to absorb
overlapping iron plates into a cloth the impact of rifle rounds, while the
or leather jerkin – the medieval Chemico Body Shield was made of
equivalent of a bulletproof vest kapok and resin – but at £5 could
– which was typically worn beneath only be afforded by the wealthy.
a hauberk, or shirt of mail. The The major forces all field-tested
number of plates used varied body armour: the British with
from a handful to hundreds – a fabric corselet reinforced
remnants from the Battle of with metal plates; the
Visby (1361) number as many Germans with a segmented,
as 600. This design evolved lobster-like body guard;
into the Brigandine, which and the Americans
resembled a traditional doublet, with Bashford Dean’s
though it was often sleeveless, panoply, a metal
and had plates riveted in suit cushioned with
between two layers of cloth. vulcanised sponge
Getty Images

This type of armoured garment rubber. Sadly, none of

was introduced during the these were issued in enough
transitional phase, prior to the numbers to prevent the
introduction of full plate armour. horrific casualties of the war.

Unsung heroes The person he chose was someone who
ticked those boxes but was, perhaps, the last
person a POW on the run should approach
for a chat. Spying a burly cop directing traffic
in the middle of the street, Moggy walked up
to him and, in his best schoolboy German,
asked, “Bitte, Herr Offizier, wo ist der bahnhof
zum norden?” (Please, Officer, where is the
train station that will take me north?).
It was a boxer’s gamble – and a hell of a
risk. The policeman stopped what he was
doing. He turned, looked down at the slender,
fair-haired lad with the strange accent. Then
he grabbed him with both hands…

Intense attack
Maurice Mayne – or “Moggy”, as he’d been
known since his schooldays – was born in
Deptford in South East London in 1920. It
was a rough neighbourhood, and his dad,
a veteran of the First World War, had survived

going over the top on the first day of the
Somme, among other things. Mr Mayne Snr
knew what it took to survive in a tough world,
and the boxing that was to be such a big
part of Moggy’s childhood was one way he
would pass that knowledge on to his son.
Boxing was also what led Moggy to become

an RAF air gunner when he joined up in 1940.
Then 19 years old, he had initially gone to the
recruiting station because he fancied himself
in one those dapper blue RAF uniforms,
after spotting a chap bowling through his
neighbourhood in one. As for what job he
could do for the RAF in return, Moggy wasn’t
quite sure. When asked at his interview,
Shot down in 1942, RAF gunner Sergeant Maurice he’d not unreasonably replied “pilot”, but
the panel had collectively shaken its head.
“Moggy” Mayne was sent to a prisoner-of-war camp in There weren’t enough places. Then, when
Poland. The spirited Londoner had no intention of staying Moggy was asked about his hobbies and his
love of boxing came up, his fate was sealed.
there long, though, and two years later broke out. “I suppose they thought a gunner had to be
Nick Soldinger traces his daring and deadly journey through a tough, aggressive type,” he wrote years
later in his memoir, Down But Not Out. “The

the heart of the Nazi empire, as he sought to escape dream of being a pilot was over, but at least
I was going to be flying. I’d get to see more
BRIGHT SPRING DAY, JUST BEFORE Moggy, self-conscious in the extreme, than my fair share of danger, too!”
Easter Sunday 1944. The sky deliberately ambled along Berlin’s avenues. After training, Moggy was assigned to 217
over Berlin was brilliant blue and He knew that even his walk might give him Squadron, a coastal command unit initially
cloud-free. The war that had been away. He’d been in the RAF since 1940 and, operating out of St Eval in Cornwall. He was
raging for almost five years and like most servicemen, usually strode with a to be a turret gunner on a Bristol Beaufort,
had transformed Londoner Maurice hint of parade-ground swagger. So today, he an aircraft used primarily as a torpedo plane
“Moggy” Mayne’s home city to a shuffled along with rounded shoulders, his to attack enemy shipping. It was in this
place of blackouts and shattered hands stuffed in his pockets as he headed role that Moggy first got to fire his gun in
brickwork seemed not to have touched the northwards through the city, hoping that he anger, when his squadron was sent to attack
German capital. As he wandered along its might soon see a sign that would point him in the German battleship Scharnhorst as it
elegant boulevards, where huge swastika flags the direction of Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof station. made for the North Sea from Brest, in the
adorned the buildings or fluttered from their From there, he intended to catch a train to so-called “Channel Dash”. Moggy was used
rooftops, he marvelled at the splendour and the port of Stralsund, some 160 miles to to fighting opponents who were bigger than
tranquillity of this Nazi hub. the north. Moggy’s plan was to get to neutral him, but even he knew that a plane against
Dressed in a cannibalised mix of military Sweden by boat, then get back into the war. a battleship was pushing the odds. The attack
uniforms, cut and dyed to look like the attire But he’d been wandering for hours, not on 12 February 1942 proved so intense that,
of a civilian electrician, 23-year-old Moggy had knowing if he was even heading the right way. although the Beaufort’s crew survived, its pilot
only that morning broken out of a prisoner-of-war He would have to ask a local for directions. suffered a breakdown and had to be replaced.
camp in German-occupied Poland, 250 miles to Moggy had boxed all through childhood Superstitions are rife in wartime, and in
the east. Now, after a five-hour train journey, he and, as a smaller man, knew that when your the RAF in the 1940s, it was believed to be
found himself at the heart of Hitler’s Germany, opponent’s reach is greater than yours, you bad luck to switch crews. Not long after the
at the height of the Führer’s sadistic reign. need to move inside, to get closer to your attack on Scharnhorst, the crew of Moggy’s
The streets may have been busy with smartly adversary in order to survive. It was this logic plane, with a new pilot installed, could’ve
dressed civilians, but among them strode black- that had brought him to Berlin in the first been forgiven for thinking that there might be
uniform-clad SS men, their sinister Totenkopf place, as it was the last place the Gestapo some sense in such nonsense.
cap badges flashing in the sunlight. There would look for a prisoner of war. And it was The squadron was relocated to the
was no doubt that the nightmarish Gestapo, time to gamble on that same boxer’s tactic Shetland Islands, from where it was to
Heinrich Himmler’s dreaded secret police, again. He needed to ask someone who would conduct sorties against German shipping
were silently watching from the shadows, too, definitely know the answer; ideally, someone in the Baltic Sea. On 1 April 1942, Moggy’s
looking for anything or anyone that didn’t fit in. who was used to giving strangers directions. plane set off to attack a convoy off the coast


The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin during

a military review, 1939. As Moggy
discovered, the German capital was an
intimidating place for prisoners on the run

Getty Images

of Norway. At around 5pm off Stavanger Fjord, it during the course of the war. Prisoners Brits left behind after the fall of Dunkirk. In the
the German ships were spotted and Moggy’s were divided by nationality, with each country intervening two years, those prisoners had
plane began its dive towards the flotilla. As occupying a separate district, from where they set up a pretty good system of bartering for
it came through the clouds, the sailors manning were organised into work parties. goods, gaining information and acquiring
the anti-aircraft guns on the decks opened The only exception to this was RAF personnel. anything from the guards or the local population
up, filling the sky with shell bursts. The Perhaps because air crews were perceived that might be deemed useful in an escape
cockpit of Moggy’s plane was ripped apart by as more valuable to a war effort, or perhaps attempt. That said, whatever resources were
a direct hit, killing the pilot instantly. Moments – as Moggy insisted – because they were scrounged were incredibly precious, and any
later, the plane smashed into the icy Baltic. more inclined to escape, the RAF men were attempt over or under the wire first had to be
incarcerated in what amounted to the camp’s approved by the Escape Committee, who had
Badly wounded high-security wing, complete with extra barbed- complete control over everything from document-
With a serious head injury, Moggy struggled to forging to tailoring.
escape the wreckage, gasping for air, thrashing Within days of arriving at Stalag VIII-B, Moggy
about in the freezing waters and growing more
numb by the second. Unconsciousness began
AS MOGGY’S PLANE CAME approached the Escape Committee to tell them
he wanted to bust out. They told him he wasn’t
to close in, but the sight of the crew’s radio
operator succumbing to the cold and drowning
THROUGH THE CLOUDS, THE the only one. Freedom, like everything else in
1940s Europe, was rationed. If he wanted it,
spurred him on. Moggy fought his way out of the
sinking wreck and scrambled onto the plane’s
SAILORS MANNING THE GUNS he’d have to join the queue. So Moggy took
his place at the back of what turned out to be
dinghy, along with its badly wounded navigator.
He was alive, but only just. Within minutes, the ON THE DECKS OPENED UP a very long line.
Not that he got downbeat, instead using his
pair were picked up by the Germans and taken time positively to prepare. Moggy had studied
to the mainland. Moggy would spend the next wire fencing. As they weren’t permitted off the German at school, and now worked hard to
two years in captivity. base, the RAF POWs were also unable to work reacquaint himself with the language, studying
After a week in Norway, Moggy was flown to in the forests or quarries around the camp. the signs all around him and chatting to the
Germany, to the Luftwaffe’s interrogation centre Instead, they spent long days behind the wire, guards, who were as bored as he was by the
in Oberwesel. After ten days of questioning, being counted and constantly scrutinised. daily grind of prison life in rural Poland.
he was sent to the notorious Stalag VIII-B, The camp had been hosting Allied prisoners Moggy realised that his best chance of
a POW camp near Lamsdorf in Upper Silesia, since the start of the war. It had originally escape would be to get into one of the work
deep inside Nazi-occupied Poland. been built during World War One and had simply parties that the Germans allowed into the
The camp was huge. More than 100,000 been dusted off when hostilities broke out nearby countryside for tree-felling or stone-
British and Allied troops would pass through again – just in time to greet many of the 40,000 cutting. But how? As an RAF inmate, he was


Getty Images
Moggy served as a turret gunner aboard
a Bristol Beaufort plane like this one,
before being shot down and captured

forbidden from joining one, prevented even from been sent ashore, 3,623 out of 6,086 were In Stalag VIII-B, that would’ve caused the camp
gaining access to the districts of the camp either killed, wounded or captured. commandant a headache. The 1,000 or so
where they departed from. He was effectively While the Germans were generally jubilant Canadians he had in the camp were part of his
trapped inside a camp within a camp. To make about the failure of the raid, one pernicious workforce – indeed, many of his best foresters
matters worse, the RAF personnel also found story persisted about it that incensed them, and lumberjacks were to be found among their
themselves targeted for reprisals for the not least their notoriously narky Führer. One of ranks. So instead, as Moggy claimed in his
Allied bombing of Germany, as well as other the few objectives the raid had achieved was book, the RAF prisoners “who were of no use to
actions conducted miles away from where Moggy the taking of German prisoners for intelligence- the Germans as non-workers” were shackled.
and his mates sat in their miserable huts. Confined to barracks, Moggy and his mates
The failed Dieppe Raid was a point in case.
BY THE TIME THE SHACKLES CAME were forced to sit on the floors of their huts,
their hands bound in front of them with stiff,
Heavy German fire
On 19 August 1942, a sizeable force of mostly OFF, MOGGY HAD SPENT THE fibre ropes that cut into their wrists. This
particular ordeal continued for three weeks.
Canadian commandos had attacked the French
port of Dieppe. The objective had been to BEST PART OF FOUR MONTHS Then things got worse. The crude wrist
restraints were replaced with metal handcuffs,
temporarily seize the harbour, gather intelligence
and then withdraw. It was a probe, essentially,
for what would evolve into the D-Day landings
CHAINED TO A CONCRETE FLOOR which the prisoners had to endure for a further
eight weeks, again on their backsides on the
concrete floors of their huts. Eventually, the
two years later. It was also a complete disaster. gathering purposes. But not all of these Red Cross gained access to Stalag VIII-B and
Support for the raid was inadequate and, after prisoners, it transpired, made it out alive, and pleaded with the commandant to get rid of the
ten hours of being pinned down on the beach reports suggested that the bodies of German handcuffs. This he did – only to replace them
by heavy German fire, the commandos retreated, soldiers had been washed up on Dieppe’s with marginally less uncomfortable chains
having achieved next to nothing. The RAF lost beaches with their hands tied. In response, until the Führer’s spiteful gaze turned to more
92 planes, the Royal Navy 33 landing craft and Hitler ordered that all Canadian prisoners pressing matters. By the time the shackles
a destroyer. And as for the poor souls who’d in German camps be shackled in revenge. came off, Moggy had spent the best part of four

Maurice “Moggy” Mayne's timeline

29 MAY
A 19-year-old Maurice Moggy takes part in While attacking a convoy Moggy is sent to Stalag Canadian commandos raid Moggy breaks out of the
“Moggy” Mayne enlists the “Channel Dash” off the Norwegian coast, VIII-B POW camp in Dieppe. Alleged atrocities high-security compound
in the RAF and is given attack of the German Moggy’s plane is shot Lamdsdorf, Upper Silesia in against German troops and into the New Zealand
the job of air gunner. battleship Scharnhorst, down. The pilot is killed present-day Poland, where lead camp guards to take Army compound. There,
He is later assigned as – along with Prinz and Moggy is captured. he is imprisoned in the it out on Moggy and the he assumes the identity
to 217 Squadron, Eugen and Gneisenau high-security compound rest of the RAF POWs. of Kiwi soldier Len Murray
Coastal Command. – it steams towards the reserved for RAF personnel. and joins a work detail
safety of German ports. that travels off the camp.

The German battleship Scharnhorst, which
Unsung heroes

was the target of an attack by Moggy’s

squadron soon after he joined the RAF

Getty Images
Death marches led
by German forces were
common in early 1945

months chained to a cold concrete floor. By the
end, he was determined to get out.
arrange everything else he needed, including
his paperwork – forged identity card, passport
When Hubert Brooks, another RAF POW, and travel passes – to help him get across
suddenly disappeared from the camp in 1943 Nazi-occupied Europe. n 29 December 1944, with the Russian Army
and was later confirmed to have successfully Once out, the Committee’s plan was for approaching, the Germans shut Stalag VIII-B.
escaped and joined the Polish resistance, Moggy to pose as a Belgian electrician who Moggy was put into a column of 1,400 Allied POWs
Moggy started investigating how he’d done it. was working his way through Germany. They’d and made to march westward. They kept going
Brooks, it turned out, had got through the wire assigned him a brand-new – and, according throughout January and February 1945, reaching
separating the RAF compound from the nearby to Moggy, unpronounceable – Flemish name. Bad Sulza, near Leipzig in eastern Germany, by late March.
New Zealand compound, swapped identities Very few German officials were likely to speak That winter was one of the coldest of the 20th Century,
with one of the soldiers imprisoned there – Flemish, the Committee decided, and Moggy’s with temperatures dropping as low as -25°C. The men,
who was now taking Brooks’ place in the regular German was good enough for him to get by malnourished after years of imprisonment, and without
RAF roll calls – and then done a runner while speaking that. Only his accent would betray him proper winter clothing, suffered appallingly. Survival, as
out with one of the Kiwi work parties. The as a non-German, and it was hoped that he’d be Moggy put it in his book Down But Not Out (The History
Germans, apparently, were none the wiser, able to convince whoever was asking that he’d Press, £17.99), depended on “your fighting spirit”. But
and Moggy figured he’d work the same plan. grown up near Bruges rather than Bermondsey. even he was nearly broken. The sole of one of his feet
Once out of the camp, he would take a series simply fell off one day when he removed his boot, and at
Poor health of trains and head north towards the Ostsee the end of the march he contracted dysentery.
Early in 1944, almost two years after he’d coast. His destination was the port of Stralsund. Somehow, though, he survived – one of just 400 of the
first arrived at the camp, Moggy found himself The Escape Committee had decided it was small marchers who did so. Similar POW death marches took
near the front of the queue to bust out. He was enough to be largely free of stringent security place all over Germany throughout early 1945. By the end
approached by representatives from the Escape checks, but big enough to get Moggy out of the of the war, an estimated 3,500 Allied troops had perished
Committee, who told him that his time was country. Get to Stralsund, Moggy was told, and in the exodus from the east.
fast approaching. He had a month to prepare. get on a boat bound for neutral Sweden, just
In the meantime, the Escape Committee would over 60 miles across the Baltic Sea. Do all


Unbeknownst to Moggy, Moggy escapes from Moggy is rumbled while Moggy is retuned to Stalag In the face of the Russian After three years away,
“The Great Escape” Stalag VIII-B. By the breaking into the docks VIII-B, where he’s put in advance, Moggy and Moggy finally returns
takes place at the nearby afternoon, he’s in Berlin. at Stralsund, as he looks the punishment block for around 1,400 others are to his family in London,
Stalag Luft III camp. By evening, he’s reached for a boat to take him to several weeks. forced by their German and marries his long-
Seventy-six Allied the north German coast. neutral Sweden. captors to flee west. They time sweetheart Sylvia.
POWs flee, sparking a begin a 330-mile, three-
Europe-wide manhunt. month-long death march
to Bad Sulza in Germany.

Unsung heroes Stalag Luft III POW camp, 100 miles south-east
of Berlin. It was from here that 76 prisoners fled in
what became known as “The Great Escape”. With the
German Gestapo on red alert, it was amazing that
Moggy remained undetected for as long as he did


uilt on the site of a prisoner-of-war camp left over
from the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1, Stalag
VIII-B was used by the Germans throughout World
War One. It reopened in 1939, initially to house

Getty Images
captured Polish soldiers. By 1945, however, it
had played host to over 100,000 POWs from Britain, the
US, Australia, Belgium, India, British Palestine, Canada,
France, Greece, Holland, South Africa and Yugoslavia.
Another camp, Stalag VIII-F (pictured), was set up
nearby to house Russian prisoners. The camp was square- move into the RAF compound, where no work Before long, he was in the New Zealand
shaped, with each side measuring around half a mile, and was permitted, would bring its own release, compound and had swapped places with
was hemmed in by double-banked, 8ft-high barbed-wire allowing him the time and space he needed to Murray, who successfully made it back the other
fences. Guard towers, armed with machine guns and recuperate. Moggy, for his part, didn’t tell any way. The next morning, Moggy – now answering
searchlights, stood at regular intervals. The space between of his other inmates what he was up to. Nor to the name of Len – left the confines of the
the fences was filled with barbed wire and at night, the did he wish them farewell when his time came camp for the first time in two years. As part
perimeter was patrolled by guards with Alsatian dogs. to depart. It was the way things were done in of a Kiwi work party, he now had to figure out
Despite such security, one inmate of Stalag VIII-B, the camp, as hearsay was something that the how to give the guards the slip when he was
Horace Greasley, a young Private in the Leicestershire German captors were doubtless tuned into. outside the wire.
Regiment who’d been captured after Dunkirk, broke in and He was put to work in a nearby factory
out of the camp over 200 times, for nocturnal adventures Given the slip complex, labouring on a building site. He’d
with a local German girl he’d fallen in love with! One night, in February 1944, Moggy crept out of been working there for more than a month,
his barracks and slipped through the shadows looking for a way out, when another POW, who
towards the fence. The “gate” in the wire that knew he was planning to escape, told him
that, and you’ll get home. First, though, the Escape Committee had previously cut for he’d seen something that might just help. The
Moggy had to get out of the RAF compound him was exactly where they said it would be. man took Moggy around the back of some
and into the New Zealand barracks. Moggy slithered towards it on his belly, freezing warehouses to reveal a mound of earth piled
The man who’d been selected to swap cold and with heart thumping, as the searchlight up against a wall. It was a slope, essentially,
identities with Moggy was a Kiwi Private from the guard tower swept over him, then that some of the free workers in the factory
called Len Murray. Murray had been captured stopped. It lingered on him, the guard obviously had built as a shortcut out of the complex,
during the German invasion of Crete in May trying to decide whether what he was looking at possibly so that they could get home quicker,
1941, and was in poor health. He was on was worth shooting at or not. Moggy didn’t and possibly because they had things in their
a work party assigned to do heavy labouring move an inch. He couldn’t – his life depended pockets that the guards on the gates wouldn’t
in a nearby factory complex, and was in no on it. The light hesitated, and then – thankfully approve of. Either way, it led to the outside
fit state to escape. In fact, for Murray, the – moved on. Moments later, so did Moggy. world, and if they could slide down this ramp
undetected, Moggy wondered, why couldn’t he?
Captured RAF officers at By now, he’d managed to get hold of some
Stalag Luft III. Airmen were civilian clothing to supplement the adapted
subjected to a particularly tough uniform the Escape Committee had helped him
time at German POW camps with, including a Tyrolean-style hat with a feather
in it. He’d also got some dye, which he used
to turn his khaki trousers blue. Everything,
it seemed, was finally in place.
At 8am on Good Friday 1944, Moggy made
his move. That morning, he’d marched to work
as usual in his New Zealand Army uniform.
Then, accompanied by a Kiwi soldier, he’d
slipped behind the warehouses, changed into
his “civilian” clothes, given his uniform to his
accomplice for disposal, and darted to the top
of the ramp by the wall. Pausing only to wave
goodbye to his accomplice, he jumped down
Getty Images

into the street below. For the first time in 737

days, Moggy was no longer a prisoner. He
was, however, on the run in the middle of the
deadliest empire the world has ever known.


Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Hitler’s

Minister for the Interior, inspects
a POW camp in Russia, circa 1941

He caught a bus to the local train station. them back on the table next to him. Moggy had Rumbled and fearing that he could get
A series of train journeys followed, and by gambled, and he’d won again. How much longer handed over to Gestapo if he resisted, Moggy
afternoon, Moggy had travelled across Nazi- would his luck hold, though?, he wondered as surrendered to the security guard, who then
occupied Poland and was in Berlin, the heart of he left the café at sunrise, heading down the handed him over to the police. Guards from
the Third Reich. Here, he wandered the streets cobbled streets towards the dock. Stalag VIII-B were sent to retrieve their errant
in search of Hauptbahnhof station, from where He was about to find out. The dockyard inmate. As Moggy was travelling back with them,
he could catch a train to his final destination, entrance was controlled by a guard, and as he learnt of another remarkable break-out, at
Stralsund on the coast. Lost and running out Moggy had no legitimate excuse for entering, Stalag Luft III, a POW camp not far from his own.
of daylight, Moggy decided to ask for directions he skirted its perimeter, looking for a suitable “The Great Escape”, as it later came to be
– which is when he suddenly found himself in place to go over the fence. Finding one, he known, had seen 76 POWs escape through
the grasp of that huge policeman. pulled himself up. tunnels on a single night. Moggy had been
But the copper wasn’t about to arrest Moggy’s achievement had been remarkable. travelling across Germany completely oblivious
Moggy. He was physically turning him around The day before, the 23-year-old Londoner had to the fact that a nationwide manhunt for
and pointing him in the right direction. “Da!” been a POW over 400 miles to the south-east, Allied POWs had been in full swing for nearly a
(“There!”) was all the big German said to in occupied Poland. He’d crossed right through month. For him to have got as far as he did was
Moggy, who thanked the man and walked the amazing; to do so under these circumstances
way he’d been shown. Before long, the station
appeared in front of the young Londoner, out THE DOOR TO A NEARBY was miraculous. So far, the guards told him, 73
of the escapees had been caught. Then they
of the late-afternoon sunshine. Moggy stepped
inside, into the cool shadows of the booking HUT OPENED, AND OUT told him something that turned his blood to ice.
Of the 50 POWs the Gestapo had recovered,
hall, and bought a ticket north. By nightfall,
he was in Stralsund. STEPPED A SECURITY GUARD all had been shot in suspicious circumstances.
If Moggy and his guards ran into any Gestapo

On the brink
Moggy found an all-night café at the station,
BRANDISHING A REVOLVER on the way back, his captors shrugged, they
wouldn’t be able to protect him.
Mercifully, Moggy’s journey back to Stalag
where he reckoned a stranger would look less the heart of the Nazi empire and wandered VIII-B was uneventful. On arrival, he was sent
conspicuous, and settled in to wait for dawn. the streets of Hitler’s capital. Now, here on the to the punishment blocks, but was back
A little after midnight, two German military dockside in Stralsund, he was on the brink of among his RAF comrades – with Len Murray
policemen, complete with metal gorgets hanging his goal. Sadly, though, the brink was as close safely back among the Kiwis – by the second
about their necks, strode in and began checking as he was going to get. As he landed on the week of May. By then, Moggy had also received
everybody’s papers. There was no way Moggy other side of that fence, the door to a nearby freshly forged papers from the Escape
could make a run for it, and by now he was too hut opened, and out stepped a security guard Committee, and was planning his next break-
tired to bluff his way through a conversation brandishing a revolver. After everything he’d out. A few weeks later, though, signs began
with them. So he pulled out his travel papers been through – the escape from the compound, to appear around the camp that read: “The
and slumped down on the table in front of the month passing himself off as a Kiwi, the Escape From Prison Camps Is No Longer
him, pretending to be asleep, his documents break-out from the camp and his remarkable A Sport”. It was clear, the 50 POWs the Gestapo
conspicuously held in his limp hand. Taken in odyssey across the Nazi empire – it had come had captured had all been shot deliberately
by the ruse, the policemen merely removed the to this. Moggy was to be foiled by a middle-aged as a warning. From now on, escaping was
papers from his grasp, inspected them and put night-watchman he’d probably just woken up. a crime the Nazis would punish by death. w



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Ian Fletcher and Natalia Ishchenko The History Press RRP £19.99

lthough it’s considered half a century later in 1904. The One of the major strengths
one of the first modern wars, extensively illustrated nature of of this new history is that it
wherein media coverage War In The Crimea may mean it incorporates a Russian view
and photography helped will never be regarded alongside and Russian research into the
document the conflict academic studies of the conflict, war – hence the dual authorship.
for future generations but there’s a lot to be said for That extra attention to detail is
to explore, the Crimean War pictures telling a more evocative reflected in a superbly evocative
hasn’t left many lasting dents story than hidebound historians’ cover picture, which gives a pretty
in British culture in the way that dry, studied words can, and as accurate impression of what the in-depth studies of the Crimean
its 20th-century counterparts such the book provides a fine soldiers involved looked like. War out there, this concise,
have – understandable, perhaps, introduction to the conflict for It’s easy to assume that a unpretentious and even-handed
considering it wasn’t a global war those of us who like to have a book full of pictures would be account of the causes, course
(although, since it involved Britain, little colour injected into a tale, somehow “dumbed down” and results of the conflict remains
France, the Ottoman empire, rather than suffer endless but, while there are far more a valuable one. Johnny Sharp
Sardinia and Russia, it was far footnote-strewn tomes full of text.
Better still, it’s a book written
from a localised skirmish), and
didn’t have as much help from the from more than one point of view. One of the major strengths of this new
mass media to make us all feel
a part of it.
Inevitably, most of what military-
history buffs know about this war
history is that it incorporates a Russian
Yet it wasn’t without its enduring comes from a British viewpoint. view and Russian research into the war
stories and iconic figures: the
communication failures and poor
planning that led to the Charge of
the Light Brigade have helped it
to become a metaphor for gung-
ho strategical blundering, and
Florence Nightingale has long been
the poster girl for medicine’s key
role in battle. It was the media’s
reporting of the war that was
chiefly responsible for that, helped
in no small part by the advent of
photography. In addition to artists’
suitably airbrushed illustrations
of reports coming back from the
battlefield, the work of pioneering
photographers like Roger Fenton
meant that there were at least
a few genuine snapshots of the
individuals involved, even if Fenton
mainly concentrated on portrait
shots rather than the kind of
visceral action scenes caught
on camera during the American
Civil War a few years later.
A number of newspaper
illustrators and painters, such as
William Simpson, also travelled
to the front, and the depictions
of events in periodicals such
as the Illustrated London News
gave a striking visual flavour of
what life was like for our boys,
even if it was considerably
sanitised for public consumption.
Those images form the bedrock
of this illustrated history, now out
in paperback six years after its
original publication. Added to those
images are numerous maps and

a collection of fascinating photos

of key battleground locations, taken



John Christopher & Campbell McCutcheon Sidney Edwards Book Guild RRP £7.99
Amberley Publishing RRP £15.99 ★★★★★
Not a lot was known about Sidney
Thanks to this year’s centenary, Edwards’ role in the Falklands War
there’s a heightened interest in before the 30-year rule meant that
the Great War. But, as the title of he could publish his memoirs of his
this book suggests, it may not covert mission in Chile to arrange
have been such an instrumental assistance in ending Argentina’s
conflict had the popular consensus aggression. However, his
come to fruition, and it finished “Sidgrams” (as Margaret Thatcher
by the end of 1914. Christopher referred to his signals between
and McCutcheon’s book focuses Chile and Britain) undoubtedly
on the first five months of the war, influenced tactics during the
giving both a written and visual conflict, and in this engaging book
account of the events that played the image of the Great War as he reveals what went on behind
out between August and December. a mechanised conflict, with the scenes before the Argentine
The book doesn’t go into German forces relying on horses surrender on 14 June 1982.
any major depth, and may be for transport (as both sides Edwards was whisked away from
familiar territory for some. It’s did in the war’s early stages), mowing his lawn on Easter Sunday Edwards declares that the
still a satisfying read, however.
The introduction is of particular
interest, looking at the naval arms
and even French soldiers on
bicycles. Conversely, photos of the
mechanical, oversized firearms (in
to a top-secret briefing with his
friend, Air Vice Marshal Ken Hayr,
and was soon liaising with General
A major new bo
sinking of the General Belgrano was
justified, and explains that, after
the attack on HMS Sir Galahad, he

race between Britain and Germany, particular the German howitzers, Rodriguez, with whom he shared a negotiated the use of the Chileans’
which is presented as being a which seem primitive now) are still number of hairy escapades. On one radar and San Felix island as
significant catalyst for the war. a powerful sight – a reminder of occasion, while discussing tactics, a base for the Nimrod aircraft.
The visual content combines the war’s sheer destructive force. the General’s briefcase fell off his It was his manipulation of the
photography, maps and artwork For experts, there’s little new desk, disgorging a loaded pistol media over the Sea King helicopter

from the time, mostly depicting to discover, but as a starting point and three live hand grenades onto incident that went someway
Europe’s nations preparing for this makes for perfectly adequate the floor. Another time, their plane to Edwards receiving the OBE,
battle rather than in the midst reading. Further instalments was hit by such turbulence that although only a handful of people,
of it. There are some fascinating covering 1915-18 would be they were left flying upside down, including the Queen, knew the real
inclusions – pictures that dispel a welcome addition. Tom Fordy “like rag dolls” in their harnesses.
The Agony of Occupation and
reason – until now. Simon Lee Green


VILLAGE GREEN Robert Kershaw Ian Allan Publishing
RRP £20 One s
Dot May Dunn Orion RRP £6.99
There are at least two sides to one w
Around The Village Green is the every story, and Robert Kershaw’s
heart-warming account of author
and miner’s daughter Dot May
2010 study of the 1944 Allied
assault on Arnhem, It Never Snows
of un
Dunn’s childhood in a small In September, was deservedly
village in Derbyshire throughout acclaimed for exploring the
the Second World War. During the disastrous Allied operation from a
conflict, both an American base
and a prisoner-of-war camp are
built close to her home, and Dot
German standpoint, and revising
the prevailing view that the Allied
reverse was all their fault rather
soon starts to hear the adults than the German Army’s enduring
around her talking about war, strength as a military force.
though to begin with it means little
to her. As time goes by, she forges
Staying in the Netherlands for
this follow-up, he now looks at the
an unlikely friendship with one of The book lacks some depth same battle from the perspective with it, you ended up getting caught
the soldiers, but the impact of war and neglects some of the harsher of a single stretch of the same in the crossfire?
soon makes itself known, and both realities that were endured during road – the Utrechtseweg – and its What happens account
Kershaw’s when youralsostreet is overwhelmed by a migh
the friendship and Dot’s innocent the Thirties and Forties. We hear inhabitants. While the accounts of Ahome
Streettoinyou the bewilderment
Arnhem of
tells the astonishing story of a peac
childhood are threatened. a little about Dot’s father, who the combatants themselves still the war’s innocent victims at a
This is an easy, cosy read. was in charge of the miners’ offer valuable insights into the nine days was brutalised and
time when, unlike now, there was destroyed by the battle that
There are plenty of funny moments, union and campaigned tirelessly day-to-day realities of war, and the very little
Robert news has
Kershaw to be found beyond
unearthed new research through in
most notably as Dot and her for better safety conditions, but confusion and strategic factors Chinese whispers, gossip, paranoia
childhood friends attempt to make we’re left thinking it would’ve been that would become decisive, it’s letters to show the
and panicked battle notMany
confusion. only from
of the viewpoint of th
sense of what’s happening in interesting to hear more of this. the stories of the Dutch civilians soldiers fightingreally
these people in this street,
didn’t knowbut more importantly thro
the grown-up world around them. Nevertheless, it’s obvious that that really tug at the heart strings, whohorrified
and was attacking
locals. who at various
When the Americans arrive, Dot’s Dot looks back at this unusual time not least because so many of them points, and where they stood in the
brother Jack tells her, “They’re the with fondness, and this warmth were children at the time. And it This is aofcompelling
middle human
it all. As such, it’sstory,
not often heart-rending, a
cowboys, like Roy Rogers,” which shines through. A must-read for begs the question – how would you just an important new contribution
as their street was utterly destroyed by conflict. As the 7
of course means that she’s anyone who fancies a nostalgic feel if the mother of all bust-ups to the military history of World
confused when she sees them trip down memory lane to those took place in your back yard and, of
Two, but approaches in September,
a fascinating slice of this is a good tim
arriving in jeeps and not on horses. more innocent times. Hannah Mears despite having very little to do and, forhistory
social the verytofirst time,
boot. to look
Johnny Sharpat this epic World War
ordinary people, whether soldiers or civilians.
If you read Kershaw’s masterpiece It Never Snows in Se
his powerful, moving account of a struggle that still reson
Hardback • 304 pages • 978 0 7110 3754 0 • £20.00

CAMPAIGN Anthony Burton The History Press RRP £19.99
H.A. Carruthers Pen & Sword Military
RRP £25 At the outbreak of WWI, Britain
★★★★★ was no longer considered the
workshop of the world, and a
Half a century or so after Napoleon complete overhaul of her political
Bonaparte helped the French Army and technological attitudes
to dominate Europe, photography really any substitute for seeing was necessary. It is how this
came along to bring pictorial them so lovingly presented, in modernisation produced major
coverage of war into a new era. a landscape-shaped hardback social changes in all areas of life
But back at the turn of the 19th volume? Even when that volume that Anthony Burton’s book focuses
Century, scores of painters made has a £25 price tag? on, not least on the crucial role
their name by illustrating the The quality of the prints is the played by women, who took up jobs
glorious – and inglorious – exploits saving grace of this book, ranging previously considered unsuitable.
of leaders like Napoleon in from Fernand Cormon’s action- Burton traces the development
beautifully rendered detail. Some of packed battlefields to Edouard of every conceivable aspect of
their best work can be found in this Detaille’s gritty realism and Horace industry: from changes to the
book – some designed to glorify Vernet’s populist romanticism, railway network, to the problems
the great man, some aiming to and the narrative chiefly serves faced by the inland waterways; from industry, which, despite new laws
highlight the gruesome realities of to tell us what those artists were the supply of war materials and making it illegal to buy a drink for
war, and some simply acting as an attempting to depict. For that manufacture of cordite (described a friend in the pub, was so vital in
impartial observer to world events. reason, Napoleon On Campaign as “stirring the devil’s porridge”), lifting the nation’s spirits.
Napoleon obsessives looking can’t really tell the whole, tangled to the development of the internal One might think that to cover all
for elusively rare images in Harriet tale of the French General’s combustion engine; from the this in just 215 pages is providing
Carruthers’ collection might be long rise to prominence and steel industry’s importance in the merely a cursory glance at the
disappointed, as this is something subsequent defeats and exiles. development of ships, tanks and subject, but by looking at the social
of a “Best Of…” compilation But when you find yourself aeroplanes, to the pitiful conditions effects of British industry, Burton
curated by the author, who herself gazing at some of these images miners worked in; and from the has stressed the importance of
is more of an enthusiastic observer as if standing in an art gallery, large-scale production of uniforms remembering the sacrifices made
than an academic student of the temporarily lost in the wash in overcrowded textile mills, to the by those who served at home
period. The vast majority of these of colours and chaos of this changes in farming needed to meet just as much as we do those who
illustrations are fairly well-known tumultuous pocket of a bygone the demands of a worsening food fought on the battlefields. This
and can be found on the internet age, you’re tempted to just drink shortage. Burton even devotes should be required reading on the
with little trouble – but is there it all in and enjoy. Johnny Sharp a chapter to the entertainment National Curriculum. Simon Lee Green


Paul Conroy Quercus RRP £9.99 Benjamin Lai Osprey RRP £14.99
★★★★★ ★★★★★
Our candid view into modern- The latest offering from the
day warfare is largely thanks to “Campaign” book series will be
the efforts of our fearless war of particular interest to British
correspondents. And as war readers. While the beginning of the
photographer Paul Conroy knows Pacific War is largely associated
only too well, frontline reportage with the attack on Pearl Harbor,
can come at a devastating price. that was just one of several
His gripping book Under The Wire Japanese strikes that took place
documents the days leading up to on 8 December 1941 – this book
the death of his friend and fellow documents the simultaneous
journalist Marie Colvin, who was attack on British Hong Kong
killed while they were reporting from (better known as the Battle of
a brutal Syrian warzone in 2012. Hong Kong), which marked the
Conroy puts us behind the beginning of a four-year-long
camera to reveal the realities Japanese occupation of the island. reading – such as a daring escape
of being a war correspondent in of duty is as awe-inspiring as At just 96 pages, Hong Kong by a one-legged Chinese Rear-
the 21st Century. Against better Colvin’s tenacity. And as the story 1941-45 is hardly an exhaustive Admiral and 60 fellow survivors
judgement and the advice of continues towards the event dissection of the Britain-Japan just weeks after Japan had taken
others, he and Conroy head to that will claim Colvin and French conflict – like the other books in Hong Kong.
the under-siege city of Homs in photographer Rémi Ochlik’s the series, though, it’s formatted The book also includes maps,
western Syria. Colvin’s journalistic lives – a deadly explosion in their as an easy-to-use reference book, timelines of events and a
integrity is unparalleled – having makeshift media hub – it’s a tense offering a solid introduction to chronology of battles, predating the
already lost an eye to shrapnel in and humbling experience. Hong Kong’s role in the Second Battle of Hong Kong by four years,
Sri Lanka, she’s intent on reporting Conroy’s writing reveals him as World War. The book is broken starting with the Japanese attack
on the horrors of the Syrian civil a likeable and ordinary man, albeit down into various topics – profiling on Chinese forces – the Marco Polo
war, and in one of the opening one in an extraordinary situation commanders on the opposing Bridge Incident – in July 1937.
chapters she leads Conroy on a (after the explosion, he’s left with sides, their respective plans, Though it’s an essentially
crawl through a claustrophobia- a hole in his leg big enough to resources and key battles – all brief look at a significant part
inducing tunnel into Homs, where put his hand through, yet he of which give valuable insight into of the Second World War,
they interview survivors of the siege. still escapes). For anyone with a both the Japanese and British Hong Kong 1941-45 remains
Conroy knows better but follows modicum of interest in modern military manoeuvres. Some of an informative entry into this
his colleague anyway. His sense warfare, this is essential. Tom Fordy the stories make for fascinating reliable series of books. Tom Fordy



SHOGUNS AND SEPPUKU Geoffrey Wawro Basic Books RRP £19.99
Ben Hubbard The History Press
RRP £12.99 It’s fair to say that none of the
★★★★★ major powers came out of World
War One covered in glory, and
To this day, there’s much mystique history has soundly scotched
and wonder surrounding the 6,852 whatever propaganda claims they
islands that make up Japan, and made about it at the time. But
its legendary Samurai warriors still in this new book on the conflict,
have the power to capture the most Geoffrey Wawro shows that for
vivid of imaginations. the Austro-Hungarian empire,
For those of us in the largely it was particularly disastrous –
uninitiated West, our “knowledge” almost to the point of farce –
of these noble warriors is limited in terms of the dismally inept
to what we’ve seen in Hollywood’s way it lurched into the conflict,
portrayals. In fact, author Ben and its hopeless attempts to
Hubbard dedicates an entire deal with 20th-century warfare.
chapter, entitled Popular Culture, But that they were also largely He depicts a regime already on
to this very subject. But we are as masters of their own downfall. its last legs, which was determined horses to put in harness when their
misinformed as these cinematic Modern warfare and its machinery to rage against the dying of the own collapsed from exhaustion,
forays if we believe that that’s would mean that their mastery of light by throwing itself headlong or search the enemy’s dead for
where the Samurai story begins skills more suited to hand-to-hand into a war with ill-equipped, barely weapons due to a shortage of
and ends, and this is where combat would become outdated. In trained soldiers who could scarcely supplies. Wawro also documents
Hubbard’s concise account proves isolation for so long, the Samurai communicate with each other in in unflinching detail the numerous
to be a valuable asset. were set to became nothing more the same language. Meanwhile, if atrocities committed on the Serb
With both adults and children than a curious fascination. a wrong strategical decision could population during the conflict,
in mind (illustrations and Hubbard’s tome will be a welcome be made, its commanders seemed outrages borne largely of blustering
photographs accompany the text addition to any home library for to conspire to make it, and Wawro overkill on the part of the Austro-
throughout), Hubbard tells us both generations to enjoy. Having explains in clear, step-by-step detail Hungarian Generals. As such,
that, yes, the Samurai were both read The Samurai, this father in the myriad ways they got it wrong. A Mad Catastrophe is a highly
fearsome and fearless fighters, particular is hoping to learn more Little details help to illuminate readable and cogently argued book
who followed a code – Bushido about their mysterious counterpart the lions-led-by-donkeys approach that, once again, shows the level
– that advocated virtues such and silent assassin, the ninja. on the ground, such as soldiers of sheer idiocy that lay behind this
as honour, loyalty and pride. Mr Hubbard, over to you. Louis Isaac being forced to look for stray pivotal period of history. Johnny Sharp

Alexander J Mullay Amberley Publishing
RRP £17.99
Louis Archard Amberley Publishing
RRP £15.99
FIRST WORLD WAR Andrew Robertshaw The History Press
RRP £9.99
John Christopher
★★★★★ ★★★★★ Amberley Publishing ★★★★★
Unlike today, Subtitled “The RRP £20 The Somme has
there was a time Second World ★★★★★ become a byword
when Britain’s War In The Air In for the horrors of
railways were Photographs”, For those war, and for the
highly regarded this book offers interested in senseless waste
and able to meet rare images of war propaganda, of human life.
the demands aerial warfare British Posters Of Ask the proverbial
placed upon them taking in the first The First World man on the
– that time was during WWI. year of the conflict. War provides a valuable addition Clapham omnibus what he knows
As today, Britain’s rail network The author’s detailed introduction to your bookshelf. Featuring a about World War One, and he may
was privately owned, with discusses the pervading mood of collection of over 100 high-quality not even know who actually fought
companies involved in mergers the summer of 1939, during the colour reproductions, the book in it, but he’ll probably know of the
and takeovers. Many in the Railway lead-up to hostilities, and the clues focuses heavily on the art and horror that occurred at the Somme.
Executive Committee rightly that indicated how the war in the design of the posters, and, Yet, after the mass slaughter of
predicted that the Government air would come to dominate the as such, is primarily a visual the battle’s first day, it eventually
would take control of their lines entire conflict. experience. However, the turned into a decisive victory for the
and stock without consulting them. Rarely seen photos include supporting explanations are BEF, and one that turned the tide of
Mullay details the requirements images of the RAF’s daring bombing insightful and thought-provoking, the war on the Western Front.
the railways had to meet: mission against the Kiel Canal, putting the posters and their It’s that wider context that is
armoured trains to protect against footage of which went on to be famous slogans into context. Andrew Robertshaw’s strong suit
air raids; conveying troops and used in Alexander Korda’s 1939 The book takes readers on a here – he ignores the simplistic
armour by sea; and the eventual film The Lion Has Wings. Most of journey, explaining the vital role mythology surrounding the battle
transportation of the war wounded the pictures are in black and white, poster advertising played in the to take a dispassionate, scholarly
and POWs on ambulance trains. but there’s also a splendid colour story of the Great War. You can look at why and how it happened
There was a personal cost, too; section. The colour photos are follow the changing face of First (arguing that trench warfare
184,000 railwaymen enlisted, notably all German, highlighting World War posters, from the was partly understandable, and
their jobs filled by boys and women, their leadership in the world of glorification of voluntary enlistment sometimes successful), and what
helping to change opinion in favour photography at the time. and the early pleas of “For King it meant. As such, his book is a
of female emancipation. It’s Mullay’s 1939 is the first in a series and Country”, to the demonisation breath of fresh air, and an essential
eye for the human factor that saves covering the war in the air, year by of the enemy’s barbarism, Home read for anyone who wants to
this book from being overburdened year. If the others are as good as Front guilt and the promotion of find out the complicated facts
by facts and figures. Simon Lee Green this, we’re in for a treat. Alix Stevens comradery at the Front. Alix Stevens behind the folklore. Johnny Sharp


Dir: George Clooney 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment RRP £9.99

he story of The Monuments and pieces of historical importance thinly sketched and predictable;
Men is, without a doubt, stolen by the Germans. Clooney’s its narrative bumps along without
utterly fascinating and helps movie has a team of seven ever fully engaging; and it takes
only to emphasise that the intrepid conscripts – played by a very, very US-centric slant on
Second World War was not the likes of Matt Damon, Bill what was, in actual fact, a multi-
just a tragedy in terms of Murray and John Goodman – national program.
the loss of human life, but also working their way through France, Europe was artistically raped
in terms of the effect it had on Belgium and Germany on a and pillaged by Hitler’s Germany
cultural and artistic endeavour. recovery program that actually during the Second World War.
As the Nazis’ power spread involved over 300 men and women, Paris was ravaged, Italian cultural
across Europe, so Adolf Hitler most of whom worked alone centres were trashed, and
ordered his minions to burn many rather than in a ramshackle group, Belgium lost artworks that were
thousands of books, along with as portrayed by the Hollywood irreplaceable. This is a story
works of art almost too precious production (Clooney has been well worth telling, but this film
for words, simply for the sake of quoted as saying that 80 per
ownership, or the impending lack cent of the story is completely The film lacks cohesion, and ping-
thereof. Sadly, this tragic tale of true and accurate, and that almost
greed, lust and power, and the all of the scenes happened – pongs between its poignant primary
efforts of those individuals to
rescue some of those artefacts
make of that what you will).
The Monuments Men, which
storytelling and schmaltzy sub-comedy
from such a terrible fate, miserably Clooney both directed and plays the manages to trivialise it, relegating portrayal of a Parisian museum
falls short in this George Clooney- lead role in, isn’t without merit. It a tale of derring do and bravery worker is almost ’Allo, ’Allo!
directed adaptation of the book contains vibrant dialogue at times, to a series of set pieces and laughable in its delivery.
of the same title. and pulls on the heartstrings hammed-up acting. Sure, there George Clooney has proved
The eponymous Monuments occasionally. But it lacks cohesion, are some very capable actors himself to be an extremely capable
Men were a group of conscientious and ping-pongs between its employed within this film, but actor, with a string of impressive
art historians, museum curators poignant primary storytelling and not one surfaces with a notable performances to his name. He’s
and archivists who formed the schmaltzy sub-comedy, and as performance, let alone one less well-known as a director,
Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives such fails to deliver on too many that could be called career-defining and The Monuments Men suggests
program – a collective tasked with different levels. It fails to engage or Oscar-worthy. Even the that that isn’t likely to change
finding and defending artworks because the characters are usually reliable Cate Blanchett’s any time soon. Paul Pettengale


Dir: N/A Studiocanal RRP £13
Dir: Michael McGuire
In this, the centenary of the Three Wolves Ltd RRP £7
beginning of the First World War, ★★★★★
there are obviously a plethora of
documentaries hitting the shops, Michael McGuire’s feature film
but it’s likely that none of them tells the story of the Canadian
will be quite like this, seeing as 21st Battalion and their preparation
it was made back in 1934! for the Battle of Flers-Courcelette,
As the name suggests, Forgotten an assault within the Somme
Men tells the incredible story of offensive (which actually took
some of those brave men who place in 1916 and not, as the title
fought on the Western Front during suggests, 1914). The engagement
the Great War; men who too often marked the debut of Canada’s
remain nameless and faceless forces on the Somme battlefield.
due to the tendency to generalise We follow Sergeant Reid and
about what went on between 1914 powerful and provocative, candidly his young recruits during the
and 1918. We hear their accounts depicting the horrors of war. The build-up to their impending attack. that particular style, such as
from the men themselves, via tone of the documentary reflects Not only must Reid prepare his Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope and
rarely seen interviews, and these the sensitive subject matter, and battalion for the fierce challenges Alexander Sokurov’s Russian Ark.
are coupled with original footage remains restrained and respectful that lie ahead, he must also deal Unfortunately, in this case
and photography. There’s an throughout, while still managing to with the day-to-day difficulties the style is poorly executed and,
outstanding introduction by General supply contemporary viewers with of life in the trenches, including in parts, the wobbly camerawork
Sir Ian Hamilton, the commander great analysis and an unbiased injuries to his men and supply leaves you feeling uncomfortable.
of the failed Gallipoli campaign, perspective on the conflict. issues. To make matters worse, The film was made on a limited
and a strong narrative throughout, With contributions from Italian there’s an underage recruit in budget and, sadly, it shows.
thanks to the presenter, historian and Belgian nationals, and the trench, who’s recently been That said, there’s still much
Sir John Hammerton. And if all of former members of the German sent to the frontline. to enjoy in this mini-opus. It’s
that’s not enough, there’s also a Wehrmacht, alongside the 1914: The War To End All Wars successful in conveying the young
distinguished commentary from memories of British war veterans, is an unusual movie in that it takes soldiers’ bravery in the face of the
well-respected war historian Max Forgotten Men offers a fascinating place in real time and was filmed terror they feel as they prepare
Arthur among the DVD extras. and moving overview of the in one shot. You have to give to go into battle. And at just 90
As you would imagine, the First World War, and is a vital McGuire some credit for trying minutes, it’s short enough to
personal accounts featured are historical document. Alix Stevens to emulate the classics of keep you engaged. Hannah Mears


Dir: Fedor Bondarchuk

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment RRP £6
Dir: Sebastian Junger
★★★★★ Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment RRP £7
The Battle of Stalingrad (explored ★★★★★
in detail on page 20 of this
issue) was one of the fiercest Tim Hetherington and Sebastian
engagements of the Second World Junger’s acclaimed, Oscar-
War, and also one of the most nominated 2010 documentary
decisive. The German offensive Restrepo confronted viewers with
to capture the city was supported a soldier’s-eye view of life in an
by intensive Luftwaffe bombing, advanced outpost, in what was
and there were, unimaginably, over then regarded as “the deadliest
a million casualties on the Soviet place on earth” – Afghanistan’s
side alone. Ultimately, though, Korengal Valley. It focused on the
the Germans were defeated and near-impossible job faced by the
their army never regained the Second Platoon of Battle Company
initiative. In acknowledgement of must’ve felt like in the heat of one in clearing the valley of insurgency
its people’s epic struggle, Joseph of history’s bloodiest battles. and winning the trust of the locals. went through, they went through
Stalin bestowed upon Stalingrad On the whole, though, while This sequel returns to the it together, and those feelings of
the honour of “Hero City” in 1945. Bondarchuk tries to emulate soldiers’ new outpost to focus family camaraderie are hard to
Director Fedor Bondarchuk’s film his father Sergei’s grand scope more on their day-to-day feelings, replicate back on civvy street.
focuses on a group of Russian as a director, the film somehow from extreme bravado to extreme The fact that Hetherington was
soldiers as they fight to defend fails to engage and, at two boredom, abject trauma to light killed on a subsequent documentary
a strategically placed apartment hours 15 minutes, it’s too long. relief, while exploring the emotional expedition also reflects the bravery
block during the battle, and the The film is weak on character impact the events of the first of the filmmakers, yet they are also
men’s subsequent relationship development, lacks an emotional movie had on those involved, from subtle enough to let the footage
with the two women who live there. punch and doesn’t seem to know religious guilt to post-traumatic speak for itself, and not to apply
The battle scenes are epic – as whether it’s a tale of love or an stress. There’s a real sense of the any over-arching message. Right
they need to be. The special effects all-out action flick. almost-unbreakable bonds war or wrong, it depicts these young
are incredible and, at times, you Despite these flaws, there’s creates between the protagonists, men as real, fallible human beings
feel like you’re immersed in a video still some enjoyment to be had resulting in many of them being who are nonetheless capable of
game. While it’s understandably from Stalingrad, simply because keen to return again from their safe exceptional restraint and bravery
violent, it’s successful at allowing the thrilling action scenes can’t First World lives to this apparent amid daily fear for their lives and
you to experience a little of what it fail to impress. Hannah Mears hell on earth – because, for all they incessant provocation. Johnny Sharp


iPhone app Interrobang Group Free iPhone/Android app Wargaming.net Free
Dir: Peter Berg Universal Pictures RRP £10
★★★★★ ★★★★★
It is, of course, This is pretty much the polar
There is, of course, an immediate the 100th opposite of World War I Live, in
criticism to be made of this modern anniversary of that you don’t learn anything from
war drama starring Mark Wahlberg, the start of the it, and it’s just about shooting
which is that the title of the film Great War, and, other tanks with your tank. There’s
rather gives away how you can as such, you could nothing wrong with that, provided
expect it to end. So a little of the be forgiven for being sniffy about you’re doing it from the safety of
theatrical spice is removed from modern cultural tat that could your mobile and not, for example,
the word go, regardless of whether be seen to be making light of in a shopping precinct. The problem
or not you happen to be familiar that most hideous of conflicts. with WOT: Blitz is that the tanks
with the story of four US Navy However, the unabashed zeal and themselves are hard to control –
SEALS who are deposited in the deep knowledge of its subject but then, you could argue that
heart of the treacherous Hindu matter make World War I Live an that’s a shot in the arm of realism.
Kush mountain range to capture a endlessly fascinating app. Also, if you’re the first to be
prolifically murderous Taliban leader It poses a simple question: blown up on your team (you hook
during the Afghanistan conflict. often the case with films about what if the original conflict was up with random online players), you
Wahlberg is joined on the recent military missions, but the played out in a time when rolling won’t enjoy the rest of the game.
expedition by Taylor Kitsch, the main criticism for me is that, news was a constant reality, as it is But when it gives you what it says
all-action lunkhead who previously Foster’s warm-hearted sniper today, and mobile-phone technology on the tin, you may find yourself
stank up the screen in director Axe aside, you don’t really get both existed and enjoyed the same accepting the game’s foibles and
Peter Berg’s last big Hollywood a feel for any of the characters, level of advancement that it does ending up, as I did, addicted to
effort, the risible sci-fi/board-game so much as their abilities to get a hundred years later? And so the explosions. Pete Cashmore
mash-up Battleship; the rather into and out of scrapes using their it is that the major events of the
more refined actorly chops of superior training and firepower. 1914-18 conflict are delivered in
Emile Hirsch, who gave such There’s nothing wrong with that real-time to your phone handset
a startling performance in Sean as such – at the end of the day, as regular bulletins, giving you
Penn’s Into The Wild, the ever- it worked for Black Hawk Down your own rolling-news coverage
dependable Ben Foster, oozing – but when you know how it’s of a distant historical event.
wired nervous tension; and Eric all going to end, and the meat World War I Live is an ingenious
Bana as the mission commander of the film is constant gunplay, and fascinating way for both
trying to get his boys home. it feels very much like a video younger and older people to
The film plays fast and loose game that you don’t even have learn about a period of history
with its historical facts, as is the fun of playing. Pete Cashmore that binds us all. Pete Cashmore

on sale



North vs South


The Ten Greatest
Got a birthday coming up? You could do a lot worse than ask for one
of these. Nick Soldinger fires up the DVD player and gets lost for hours
in some of the finest military dramas ever filmed

Warner Home Video, 2008
Based on Rolling Stone hack Evan Wright’s memoir
of riding shotgun with the US 1st Marine Recon
Division as they spearheaded the invasion of
Iraq in 2003, this is a criminally underrated bit of
television. Much of the action takes place inside the
cabin of the Humvee on point as it races through
the Arabian desert towards Baghdad. In here, we
get to learn about war from the grunt’s perspective
– in all its hilarious, politically incorrect, put-upon and frequently insightful
glory. With Hollywood-sized budgets, the show doesn’t disappoint when
stuff needs to get blown up by helicopters, but it’s the script – marshalled
brilliantly by The Wire’s David Simon – that’s the real star of the show.
A true, if slender, work of genius. Essential.

Warner Home Video, 2001
Spielberg’s tribute to the citizen soldiers who defeated
Warner Home Video, 2010
Spielberg’s paean to the men who fought the
tyranny in WWII is one of the greatest TV series
Japanese in World War Two is no less ambitious than
ever made. It retraces the remarkable journey that
Band Of Brothers, but is slightly less successful in
Easy Company, the US 101st Airborne’s toughest
its storytelling. Its problem lies in its split narrative,
unit, made from the D-Day landings, via Operation
which follows the war from the perspective of
Market Garden, to its legendary role in the Battle
three US marines in different battalions – Robert
of the Bulge, with almost faultless period accuracy.
Leckie, Eugene Sledge and Medal of Honor winner
We get to know the “brothers” as they fight, die or
John Basilone – as they fight their way from Guadalcanal, via Peleliu and
are disfigured liberating Fortress Europe – not least
Okinawa to Iwo Jima. Despite being somewhat disjointed, the series
their brave and brilliant leader Colonel Winters.
still shows, in unflinching detail, the horrors that thousands of young
Although, he’s been softened for the small screen;
Americans faced in the Pacific island jungles, fighting the fanatical
in real life, Winters was a hard-ass who carved
Japanese. Based largely on Leckie and Sledge’s must-read memoirs,
a notch in his rifle butt every time he got a kill.
this is a compelling gateway into the story of the Pacific war.


Sony Pictures, 2012
In the US, the phrase “like the Hatfields and
McCoys” is apparently commonly used to describe
an on-going dispute. It originates from a real-life
bloody feud that began during the American Civil War,
and set two families at each other’s throats for the
next 30 years. Set on the Kentucky/West Virginia
border, where the fissure between the Confederate
South and the Union North could be found, the
series explores the hatred that set American against American. It’s
birth-of-a-nation stuff, as the wild mountain men struggle not just
with each other, but with the realisation that their way of doing things
– with rope, torch and rifle – won’t be tolerated in the new America.

Metrodome, 1987
Thanks to films like Platoon, the 1980s saw a
revival of interest in the Vietnam War. One movie,
Tour Of Duty, even generated its own rather excellent
spin-off television series, but an even better one
came out of Oz. Vietnam showed the war from
the rarely told perspective of Australia – a country
that committed some 60,000 military personnel
to the conflict and suffered around 3,500 casualties. If you
can get past the wonky, dated synth background music, this compelling
drama explores how one family is torn apart, as the father (who works
for the government), the son (who is called up) and the daughter (who
becomes a leading advocate of the anti-war movement) are all variously
transformed by the horrors of war.

6 TURNAMC, 2014
Cloak-and-dagger meets Redcoats and bayonets in
Anchor Bay, 1986
this American War of Independence drama about The great warrior king Shaka was the man who
the Culper Ring – the real-life espionage outfit that gave the Zulu army its most innovative tactic in the
operated in New York under the orders of George “bullhorn” battle formation that helped them defeat
Washington. The first series (another is currently being the British Army on more than one occasion. This
worked on) focuses on the early years of the war, with epic retelling of his life shows how Shaka survived
Revolutionary War hero Abe Woodhull being lured off a brutal childhood to gain royal glory, taking in family
his farm to spy on the Brits by his old school friends. strife, political intrigue, witchcraft and violent battle
New York is in British hands, Washington’s forces have been driven into scenes along the way. The script is Shakespearean in scope, stuffed
the wilderness, and it’s up to Woodhull and pals to gather vital information full of big, memorable characters, and often sharply satirical insights
about the pesky Redcoats without getting rumbled by those still loyal to into the similarities between the so-called civilised British Empire and
the crown. Fans of this period will love it – Turn is great time-machine TV! the apparently primitive Zulu one it came to destroy.

Eurovideo, 1985
No, not mistaken, it is a film, but in 1985
director Wolfgang Petersen took the original
rushes and recut it for TV, coming up with this
282-minute-long, six-episode extravaganza.
Like the movie, it portrays the life of a U-boat
crew during World War Two in all its sweaty,
claustrophobic intensity, as they hunt the
Atlantic and the Mediterranean for British
shipping. The difference between this and the
movie original is the pacing: the plot is exactly
the same, but the episodes unfold in real time, giving the viewer an even
more realistic insight into the oppressive life under the waves endured by
submarine crews, with the stress, privations and dangers they faced from
drowning and depth charges. A classic.

Source 1 Media, 1985
Another bonzer and, indeed, ripper 1980s mini-
Beta Films, 2002
This rich, fast-moving retelling of Napoleon’s life
series from Down Under. This one, set during WWI, manages to include just about every major event the
follows the adventures of a group of Aussies who wee man went through, and also every battle – all
enthusiastically enlist in the Australian Imperial recreated in highly accurate detail, right down to
Force in 1914. They see action first at Gallipoli the correct brass tunic button. The budgets must
in 1915, before being shipped off to the Western have been blockbuster big, too, because not only
Front to take on the Germans at Pozieres during are there Hollywood names sprinkled throughout
the Battle of the Somme, then at the third Battle of Ypres, the Battle (take a bow, John Malkovich, Isabella Rossellini and
of Amiens and, finally, the Australian-led victory at the Battle of Hamel Monsieur Depardieu), but the sweep of the series
under General Sir John Monash. Life in the trenches is recreated in is staggering. The military campaigns are recreated on an
surprisingly graphic detail, while the banter and bonhomie between especially epic scale – if you’re a fan of cavalry charges, cannon smoke
the diggers demonstrates how men cope with war’s horrific extremes. and clanging swords, this will not disappoint. At six hours long, it manages
to cram in an awful lot, but then that Napoleon was a very busy chap!

WAR in

Counting the cost of democracy and
nationalism in 18th-century France
14 On 14 July 1789,
Parisians attacked
and captured Bastille
The guillotine wasn’t
abandoned in France until 1977.
The country abolished capital
punishment altogether in 1981.

prison in search of
gunpowder. This

signalled the start of

10 40,000
the French Revolution.

When it
came to the
vote over
whether to
execute King
Louis XVI, 361
voted for and
288 against.

The number of years the

Revolution lasted, from 1789-99.

More than 40,000 people were killed by the revolutionary government in just ten months (1793-94)
in what became known as the Reign of Terror. Of these, 16,594 were killed by guillotine.


Napoleon Bonaparte took power in 1799,
beginning a dictatorship that lasted 15 years. 97 per cent of Europe’s
population at this time
was struggling to survive
on a daily basis, due to
inflated prices.

There were three phases to the Revolution:

100 When the French monarchy was overthrown,
temporary changes to the calendar were made.
Days of the week increased to ten, with days
King Louis
XVI was executed
four years into the
Revolution, in 1793,
for crimes against

the Moderate Stage (1789-92), the Radical Stage divided into ten hours. Each hour had 100 the people.
(1792-94) and the Directory (1795-99). minutes and each minute had 100 seconds!

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