Sie sind auf Seite 1von 180

NEW

ANNUAL

GREATEST BATTLES - HEROES & VILLAINS - ICONIC VEHICLES - DEADLY WEAPONS


WELCOME TO

ANNUAL
Its been quite a year for anniversaries, with some of the most
iconic wars and battles in history recently reaching significant
milestones. Naturally, History of War has commemorated these
defining moments of centuries past with some of the most
informative and entertaining features youre likely to read, and
the History of War Annual is an essential compendium of the
very best of this content.
From the 600th anniversary retrospective on the Battle of
Agincourt, to the extensive breakdown of the Battle of Waterloo,
200 years after it was fought, to the in-depth look at the
battles, weapons and people that defined the Vietnam War, the
Annual is a treasure trove of outstanding true stories told by
expert writers.
Read on to discover how the longbow revolutionised Medieval
warfare, how Operation Desert Storm won the Gulf War, count
down our list of the 25 greatest last stands, and much more.
ANNUAL
Imagine Publishing Ltd
Richmond House
33 Richmond Hill
Bournemouth
Dorset BH2 6EZ
 +44 (0) 1202 586200
Website: www.imagine-publishing.co.uk
Twitter: @Books_Imagine
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ImagineBookazines

Publishing Director
Aaron Asadi

Head of Design
Ross Andrews

Production Editor
Ross Hamilton

Senior Art Editor


Greg Whitaker

Designer
Phil Martin

Printed by
William Gibbons, 26 Planetary Road, Willenhall, West Midlands, WV13 3XT

Distributed in the UK, Eire & the Rest of the World by


Marketforce, 5 Churchill Place, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5HU
Tel 0203 787 9060 www.marketforce.co.uk
Distributed in Australia by
Network Services (a division of Bauer Media Group), Level 21 Civic Tower, 66-68 Goulburn Street,
Sydney, New South Wales 2000, Australia Tel +61 2 8667 5288

Disclaimer
The publisher cannot accept responsibility for any unsolicited material lost or damaged in the
post. All text and layout is the copyright of Imagine Publishing Ltd. Nothing in this bookazine may
be reproduced in whole or part without the written permission of the publisher. All copyrights are
recognised and used specifically for the purpose of criticism and review. Although the bookazine has
endeavoured to ensure all information is correct at time of print, prices and availability may change.
This bookazine is fully independent and not affiliated in any way with the companies mentioned herein.

History of War Annual Volume 1 2015 Imagine Publishing Ltd

ISBN 978 1785 461 699

Part of the

bookazine series
HISTORY OF WAR ANNUAL

25 LAST STANDS
8 From Thermopylae to the Alamo, witness some of the most
daring ights to the death that history has ever seen

20 WAR IN FOCUS
See Vasily Surikovs dramatic depiction of
the Conquest of Siberia

22 The bow that built Britain


Find out what made the English longbow
one of the most fearsome Medieval weapons

28 Great Battles: Agincourt


Take a look back at the bloodshed on the
600th anniversary of the iconic battle

38 WAR IN FOCUS
Abrahamsz Beerstraten paints a stirring
image of the Battle of Scheveningen

40 Gustavus Adolphus: The lion


who smashed an empire
Meet the king-turned-general who made
his Swedish army famous across Europe

50 Great Battles: Battle of Naseby


Follow every blow and blast from the most
AGINCOURT
28 England and France face off
decisive encounter of the English Civil War

58 WAR IN FOCUS
See cavalry clash in the Battle of Friedland
in Viktor Vinkentevich Mazurovskys painting

60 Waterloo 200
Celebrate the bicentenary of Napoleons
greatest defeat 130 Discover the genius
76 WAR IN FOCUS
strategies of Hitlers
The Royal Scots Greys charge at Waterloo greatest commander, the
in Elizabeth Butlers famous painting notorious Desert Fox

6
CONTENTS

78 Trigger Point: The Mexican-


American War
Find out how the American notion of
Manifest Destiny was put to the test

82 Rorkes Drift
Relive the iconic battle where 150
soldiers took on 3,000 Zulu warriors

92 WAR IN FOCUS
Witness the phenomenal courage of the
ANZACs irst-hand in this amazing photo

WATERLOO
94 Gallipoli: A clash
of empires
Discover how the ANZACs became one
of the worlds most iconic ighting forces

104 Great Battles: Cambrai


Explore the vehicles that deined this
60 Explore every inch of the worlds most famous battleield battle and changed warfare tanks

40 112 HEROES: HENRY JOHNSON


Uncover the forgotten story of an
The astounding American WWI Hellighter
Swedish
king who 116 WAR IN FOCUS
A sea of red poppies at the Tower of
ruled the London marked the centenary of WWI
battleield
118 303 Squadron
Read all about the unsung heroes of the
Battle of Britain Polands ighter aces

130 Rommel: Genius of the


Desert Fox
Find out why Hitlers inest general won
respect from allies and enemies alike

140 WAR IN FOCUS


Few weapons are as spectacular or
deadly in action as the lamethrower

94 Gallipoli was a 142 HEROES: BENJAMIN F. WILSON


The story of a soldier whose bravery in
hellish campaign, Korea landed him the Medal of Honour
164 Taking the but it gave birth to
ight to Iraq many heroes 146 Vietnam 50
On the 50th anniversary of war breaking
out, look back at the weapons, battles
and people that deined Vietnam

158 Trigger Point: Tamil Tigers


Get the inside story on Sri Lankas
ierce and brutal separatist group

162 WAR IN FOCUS


A stunning long-exposure shot shows
the iery chaos of the Vietnam War

VIETNAM: 164 In the eye of Desert Storm


Discover the incredible story of how the
Gulf War was won and lost

50 YEARS ON
146 How much do you know about the controversial conlict?
174 WAR IN FOCUS
View more iconic imagery from some of
the worlds more recent conlicts

7
A depiction of Custers
infamous last stand on
the ridge later known as
Custer Ridge

8
25 GREATEST LAST STANDS

Take a look back


through military CUSTERS LAST STAND
history to discover THE BATTLE OF LITTLE BIGHORN 25-26 JUNE, 1876
some of the most GENERAL CUSTERS CAVALRY ARE OVERPOWERED BY THE
courageous inal COMBINED FORCES OF INDIAN TRIBES, LEADING TO ONE
OF THE US MILITARYS MOST NOTORIOUS DEFEATS
AGAINST THE ODDS
Number of defenders: 600 approx
stands to take place Fought between the 7th Regiment of the
Number of attackers: 1,800 approx
Attacking advantage: Greater numbers, skilled
on the battleield US Cavalry and the Lakota Sioux, Northern
Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, the Battle of
warriors, wide array of weaponry.
Defending disadvantage: Poor communication,

I
n the heat of the battle, the last stand the Little Bighorn was part of a much larger divided numbers, rushed and unplanned charge
is perhaps the ultimate act of heroism, campaign to force Native Americans into into battle.
or sheer desperation. Whether its reservations during the Great Sioux War.
dogged determination to preserve honour, In 1868 many Lakota leaders agreed to along the Little Bighorn River. Custer initially
or simply to defend the lives and homes of the Fort Laramie Treaty, agreeing to give up planned to hide and launch an attack at dawn,
others, taking that deiant stand against the the nomadic life that often brought them into but believing his presence had already been
odds often facing death is the stuff that conlict with other tribes and US settlers. But detected and the element of surprise lost, he
legends of warfare are truly made of. Those some leaders, including Sitting Bull and Crazy ordered an immediate advance. In the village
who have made gallant last efforts to hold a Horse, rejected the reservation system there were around 8,000 Native Americans in
position and continue the ight against all the leading to the government to hand matters over total, 1,800 of which were warriors.
odds have done so with exceptional bravery, to the military. Custer divided the regiment into four, with
the likes of which is rare and worthy of a General Philip Sheridan, commander of himself commanding a force of 210 men.
prominent place in history. the Military Division of Southwest Missouri, Another group, commanded by Major Marcus
To remind us of some of these famous and devised a strategy to ind and to engage the Reno, was quickly forced to withdraw after
little-known inspiring acts, here are some of Lakota and Cheyenne, now considered hostile, being overpowered by Cheyenne and Sioux
the greatest ever from the ancient battles hoping to force them back to the Great Sioux warriors and suffering heavy casualties. As they
between Greeks and Persians, to the Battle Reservation. Three forces of men numbering retreated on horseback, the warriors galloped
of Waterloo and into the 20th Century. just under 2,500 were sent out to assist this alongside, pulling them off their saddles and
included the 7th Cavalry of Lt. Col. George shooting them at close-range.
Armstrong Custer. Custers men entered the village from the
But the expedition proved harder than other side, but great numbers of Cheyenne
planned communication between the three and Sioux turned back and charged into them,
forces was problematic. Even worse, it was forcing Custer back to a long high ridge.
dificult to ind the nomadic Indians, determine Meanwhile the Oglala Sioux, under the
how long their villages would settle for, or command of Crazy Horse, doubled back and
in which direction they could travel next. At enveloped Custers men in a pincer movement,
the time of the battle, the tribes had come hammering them with arrows and gunire. As
together at a village in south-central Montana, the enemy closed in, Custer ordered his men
strengthening their numbers considerably. to shoot their horses and stack the carcasses
On 22 June, Custer and his 7th Cavalry split to form a wall, but this proved to be inadequate
from the main force to make a wide lanking protection. Within an hour they were all dead.
march and approach the tribes from the east
General George A. Custer photographed in his Brigadier
and south, preventing them from scattering. General uniform in 1863, 13 years before his death at
General Alfred Terry and Colonel John Gibbon, Little Bighorn
with their infantry and cavalry, would act as a
blockade from the north.
Custer marched through the night and on the
morning of 25 June, the 7th Cavalry positioned
near the Wolf Mountains about 12 miles
distant from the Native American encampment

THE AFTERMATH
ONE OF THE BIGGEST DISASTERS IN AMERICAN MILITARY HISTORY WAS
AN ICONIC BUT BRUTAL VICTORY FOR THE NATIVE AMERICANS
The next day the combined forces of Terry and Gibbon
arrived to relieve what remained of the 7th Cavalry. The
bodies of Custers men were found mostly naked
and mutilated. Inexplicably, Custers body was not
scalped or mutilated, though likely because the
warriors didnt know who he was. The Indian
encampment broke up, with many of the number
returning to reservations, sensing there would
be signiicant backlash to the defeat and that
their traditional way of life was largely over. What
remained of the hostile Native American forces
was defeated as the Great Sioux War ended in May
the following year.
25 GREATEST LAST STANDS

SEPTEMBER, 1918

THE ARIZONA BALLOON BUSTERS FINAL FLIGHT


LT. FRANK LUKE IN THE MEUSE-ARGONNE OFFENSIVE
FAMED FOR HIS SKILLS AT SHOOTING DOWN ENEMY OBSERVATION Despite his serious injury, Luke managed
BALLOONS AND FIGHTER PLANES, LT. LUKE WAS ONE OF THE US to scramble from his plane and attempted an
ARMYS TOP PILOTS AND APPARENTLY FEARLESS escape, but collapsed after just 200 yards.
Deiant to the very end, he pulled out his revolver
Arizona native Lt. Frank Luke, Jr (1897-1918) and ired at the German soldiers who had inally
was one of the USAs top airmen during the found and surrounded him. He then died from his
First World War. In the three weeks leading up gunshot wound to the chest.
to his death, he was credited with shooting Lt. Frank Luke was the irst airman to ever be
down 14 German observation balloons and four awarded the Medal of Honor, and is remembered
ighter planes a record that was not beaten as one of the US Air Forces most-daring and
in the four-year war. He was also well known dynamic pilots.
for disobeying orders and taking to the skies
alone, which earned him a reputation among Lt. Frank Luke stands with the
his fellow servicemen. wreckage of one of his planes
His inal light came in the irst phase of the destroyed on a successful
daredevil mission to bring down
Allies Meuse-Argonne Offensive on the Western enemy balloons and aircraft
Front. Lt. Luke took to the skies alone, heading
behind enemy lines in the vicinity of Dun-sur-
Meuse, north-east France. He was chased by
eight aircraft and faced heavy ground ire, but still
destroyed three observation balloons. He was hit
in the chest by a machine gun while circling low to
the ground and was forced to land his SPAD XIII
biplane in a ield near the village of Murvaux. On
his way down, he strafed six German soldiers.

AGAINST THE ODDS


Number of defenders: One
Number of attackers: Hundreds
Attacking advantage: After crash-landing in
France, Lt. Luke was entirely alone an easy
target with no backup.
Defending disadvantage: Fatally wounded, six
miles behind enemy lines, the ighter ace had
no automatic irepower

10
25 GREATEST LAST STANDS

THE SACKING OF ROME


SWISS GUARDSMEN
FIGHT TO THE LAST
NUMBERS: ROMAN MILITIA: 20,000 SWISS GUARD: 500
6 MAY, 1527
After defeating French invaders, Roman soldiers were
incensed that Emperor Charles V couldnt pay them their
wages. They mutinied in the thousands and headed to Rome
to pillage its richest treasures not only that, they intended
to murder Pope Clement VII.
As the mutineers ransacked the city, the Swiss Guards
the Catholic Churchs elite troops fought back, despite
being signiicantly outnumbered. Down to just 183 men,
the Guard formed a defensive square on the steps of St.
Peters Basilica, the church within the Vatican City, ighting
off the mutinous soldiers. What followed was essentially a
massacre, as the Imperial troops cut through the few but
BATTLE OF KARBALA 10 OCTOBER, 680CE
In a battle that took place in what is now Iraq, the Umayyad caliph Yazids army
deiant Swiss Guards. of thousands clashed with the grandson of Muhammad, Hussein Ibn Ali, and his
While the guards efforts to hold the soldiers off long followers numbering just 70. All were killed while making their stand, and they
enough for the Pope to escape were successful, up to are still mourned today by Shia Muslims.
12,000 people in Rome were killed in the sacking. The

BATTLE OF
event would mark the end of the Roman Renaissance, and
irreparably damage the relationship between the Emperor
and Catholic Church.

KOROMO RIVER
15 JUNE, 1189
Stood alone on the drawbridge of Koromogawa no
tate, the warrior monk Saito Musashibo Benkei
held back an entire army. Inside the castle, his
lord had retreated to commit sepukku, having been
defeated in a conlict with his own brother. Benkei
killed over 300 men before he eventually died
standing, riddled with arrows.

PASIR PANJANG 13 FEBRUARY, 1942


In a combined Allied effort, 1,400 Malay, British and Australian soldiers battled
13,000 Japanese troops to save Singapore. In the dying hours, Malay Lieutenant
Adnan Bin Saidi led a 42-man platoon against thousands. He was tortured and
executed for causing unexpectedly high numbers of Japanese casualties.
The sacking of Rome by Imperial troops
caused outrage across Europe

11
25 GREATEST LAST STANDS

VIVE LFRANCE THE BATTLE OF CAMERON HOUSECARLS RESIST


30 APRIL, 1863 NUMBERS: MEXICO: 2,500 (APPROX) FOREIGN LEGION: 65 THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS
14 OCTOBER, 1066
During the Siege of Puebla, Mexico, in with their backs to the wall, ighting back
1863, France sent a shipment of supplies every attack and charge until only ive of them After William the Conqueror feigned a retreat,
to Veracruz under the protection of the 3rd remained, with no ammunition. King Harolds infantry followed and were
company of the Foreign Regiment. The Rather than surrender, the men ixed ambushed in the open ield. Harold and his
company, whose mission was an effort to bayonets to their weapons and charged, housecarl bodyguards stood fast on the ridge,
support Napoleon IIIs campaign, would shouting Vive lFrance! Eventually, the last awaiting Williams inal charge. Harold was
become the foundation of the Legions two were overpowered, but they negotiated killed with an arrow to the eye and the Saxon
unoficial, and somewhat morbid, motto: The their surrender in exchange for keeping their forces retreated. The housecarls surrounded
Legion dies, it does not surrender. regimental colours and weapons, carrying the kings body and fought to their death.
When Captain Jean Danjou and his their dead, and having their wounded
company were ambushed by a Mexican force, lieutenant treated on the battleield. The
the French troops made a spirited retreat to a French Foreign Legion continues to celebrate
nearby hacienda, beginning a siege that would the gallant effort each year on 30 April, known
last over ten hours. The legionnaires stood as Camerone Day.

LAST STAND
25 OCTOBER, 1944
OF THE TIN CAN SAILORS THE BATTLE OFF SAMAR
NUMBERS: JAPAN: 4 BATTLESHIPS, 6 HEAVY CRUISERS, 2 LIGHT CRUISERS, 11 DESTROYERS, KAMIKAZE US: 6 ESCORT CARRIERS, 3 DESTROYERS, 4 DESTROYER ESCORTS, AIRCRAFT
Known as one of naval historys greatest mismatches, the battle began
when Admiral William Halsey, Jr. was lured into taking his powerful
US Third Fleet after a Japanese decoy, which he mistook for the main
Japanese leet and believed he could destroy.
To defend his rear, he left behind a modest leet of destroyers,
destroyer escorts and light carriers known as Taffy 3 which was
surprised by the arrival of a powerful force of Japanese battleships,
thought to be in retreat.
Taffy 3s destroyers charged forward and attacked with vastly inferior
guns. Though the force suffered signiicant losses, it continued to drop
depth charges, bombs from the air and maintained continuous ire.
Damaged and confused, the Japanese leet forced Taffy 3 to withdraw
and regroup. Mistakenly under the impression that force was a leading
power in Admiral Halseys naval force, the Japanese leet chose not to
re-engage. Taffy 3s heroic, mismatched defence would ultimately save
the Philippines from a full Japanese invasion.

12
25 GREATEST LAST STANDS

BRITISH PARAS HOLD ARNHEM BRIDGE


THE BATTLE OF ARNHEM 17-26 SEPTEMBER, 1944
SURROUNDED AND WITH LITTLE FIREPOWER, A SMALL BAND OF PARATROOPERS OVERCOME THE ODDS FOR FOUR BLOODY DAYS
After charging through France and Belgium Allied battalions. Adding to the problems, the
in the summer, there was one last natural Allies quickly discovered their radios werent
barrier standing between the Allied troops and working, which broke down all communication
Germany the River Rhine. From the Allies and the ability to co-ordinate the attack. Also
need to conquer this barrier came Operation the XXX Corps, which had been following the
Market Garden. Allied aircraft from the ground, had made
Masterminded by General Bernard very slow progress and not reached any of the
Montgomery, commander of the British forces in bridges to offer support.
Europe, Market Garden was one of the boldest Despite German resistance, some American
plans of the Second World War. 30,000 British forces reached their designated bridges only to
and American airborne troops were to be lown ind theyd already been destroyed. One British
Aerial view of the bridge over the Neder Rijn, Arnhem
behind enemy lines in order to capture the eight battalion just over 700 men led by Lieutenant British troops and destroyed German armoured vehicles
bridges across a network of canals and rivers Colonel John Frost made it through to Arnhem are visible at the north end of the bridge
on the border on Holland and Germany. At the bridge, and by evening captured the northern
same time, British tanks and infantry planned end. However, their numbers were relatively By the time the Americans took the Nijmegen
to push up a narrow road leading from the small and they were only lightly armed. Soon bridge, it was too late for the paratroopers
Allied front line to reach these key bridges. They they found they were cut off from the rest of the enemy had moved tanks into the town,
would relieve the airborne troops, then cross the their division and were surrounded by the 9th SS demolishing the houses in which the British
bridges themselves. Panzer division. were ighting. With limited anti-tank weapons,
The troops set to make the drop were from As American forces spent the next few days no food and most crucially little ammunition,
the First Allied Airborne Army, which included trying to reach their British allies at Arnhem it was only a matter of time before the British
one British and two American divisions. They bridge, they suffered huge losses. Despite this, would capitulate.
would drop into the towns of Eindhoven, British paratroopers held their position at the On the fourth day, the paratroopers were
Nijmegen and Arnhem to take the bridges, north end of the bridge for four days, short on overpowered. Those who werent wounded
which would give them an advantage. basic supplies, massively outnumbered and or captured had little choice but to withdraw,
But there were problems: unknown to Allied still awaiting delayed reinforcements. The retreating to the village of Oosterbeek, where a
intelligence, two SS Panzer divisions were paratroopers surprised German forces with small pocket of British troops were also holding
stationed around Arnhem, with many tanks and their continued counterattacks and despite the out. The Allied troops had overstretched their
vehicles; also, the Allies had too few aircraft to merciless artillery ire they refused to give up efforts, earning the event the moniker of a
deliver all their troops at once. They would be their position. bridge too far.
dropped over three days, at a site seven miles

THE AFTERMATH
away to avoid anti-aircraft guns, therefore losing
the element of surprise. Though the drop was
successful, the journey to Arnhem was much
more problematic. THE BRITISH PARATROOPERS EFFORTS ARE A REMARKABLE EVENT IN WHAT WAS AN OVERALL DISASTER FOR THE ALLIES
As Allied troops collected up their equipment Of the 10,000 men who landed at Arnhem, 1,400 would be killed and over 6,000 captured. Just a
and headed towards Arnhem, Wehrmacht couple of thousand paratroopers would escape, safely crossing to the south bank of the Rhine in small
forces were quick to regroup and organise their rubber boats. Though a valiant effort from the airborne troops, it was a dark time for the British army
efforts against the airborne troops. The German and would halt the progress of the Allied campaign. General Montgomery had intended to end the
infantry was determined, and made a defensive war by December 1944 on the back of Market Garden, but instead it would be four months before the
Allies successfully crossed the Rhine, with the war raging on until September 1945.
perimeter near-impenetrable for many of the

Four British paratroopers moving


through a destroyed house in
Oosterbeek where they retreated after
being driven out of Arnhem

Below: An anti-tank gun


of the No. 26 Anti-Tank
Platoon, 1st Border
Regiment, 1st Airborne
Division at Arnhem,
September 20, 1944

AGAINST THE ODDS


Number of defenders: 745
Number of attackers: 8,000 approx
Attacking advantage: Reinforced
defensive lines, superior irepower
and vehicles, much greater numbers.
Defending disadvantage: Cut
off from other divisions, poor
communication equipment,
insuficient supplies and a poor
supply of ammunition.

13
25 GREATEST LAST STANDS

THE BATTLE OF WIZNA REMEMBER THE ALAMO


7-10 SEPTEMBER 1939
In a phenomenal show of resistance to the
TEXAS DEFENDS
Nazi invasion, 720 recent Polish conscripts
battled to defend the village of Wizna. It THE ALAMO MISSION
had been fortiied before the war, though
was put to the test when 42,200 Germans 23 FEB-6 MAR, 1836
rolled in with tanks and artillery. Though NUMBERS: MEXICO: 2,000 (APPROX) TEXAS: 189 (APPROX)
outnumbered by almost 60 to 1, the Poles
held Wizna for three days. In the inal days of the Texas Revolution
a territorial conlict between the Mexican
government and Texas colonists poorly armed

PRVT. BAKER
Texan rebels defended the old Spanish mission
from one of Mexicos inest generals, Antonio
Lopez de Santa Anna. Driven out in the months
before, the Mexican troops had returned to

WINS THE MEDAL reclaim Texas, but the hopelessly outnumbered


Texans, including frontiersman David Crockett
and James Bowie, fought back, beginning a

OF HONOUR siege that lasted 13 days.


On the inal day, Santa Anna launched a
surprise pre-dawn attack a full assault on
the mission that forced the Texan defenders

THE BATTLE OF SAIPAN to retreat as they were overpowered by the


Mexican cavalry. The last of the Texans to die
15 JUNE-9 JULY 1944 were 11 men manning a cannon in the chapel,
bayoneted to death as Mexican soldiers broke
NUMBERS: JAPANESE: 5,000 (APPROX) USA: ONE through the doors.
It was a hugely signiicant event in Texan
The Battle of Saipan was fought between history, as the Republic of Texas was declared
thousands for a whole month, as the USA an independent nation during the time of the
and Japan battled to occupy islands in the siege, leading to its eventual annexation into
Paciic. However, its the heroic actions of one the United States of America. The Battle of the
28-year-old private, Thomas Baker, that are Alamo is symbolic of unshakable Texan pride in
remembered as one of the US Armys greatest the face of adversity.
last stands.

THE 101ST AIRBORNE HOLDS BASTOGNE


On expedition to retake the island
of Mariana, Pvt. Bakers company was
attacked by 5,000 Japanese troops. Though
overpowered, Baker held the line taking out
many soldiers single-handedly, breaking his
own rile by using it as a club and at one point
20-27 DECEMBER, 1944
charging 100 yards ahead of his unit with a
JUST DAYS AFTER THE EXHAUSTED AND ILL-EQUIPPED 101ST AIRBORNE DIVISION ARRIVED IN BASTOGNE, IT BECAME SURROUNDED
bazooka to destroy a Japanese emplacement.
FIGHTING TO DEFEND THE TOWNS ALL-IMPORTANT CROSSROADS
In the closing moments of the Japanese Following the Normandy Invasion, the German The following day, all roadways into Bastogne
assault, as the company was surrounded, Wehrmacht had lost the crucial harbour at were cut off.
Baker became seriously wounded. Antwerp to re-take it, Hitler initiated the The enemy also dropped bombs on the town,
Though he had been dragged from the Battle of the Bulge, part of which included his but the 101st stood fast and refused to have
battle, Baker insisted on being propped forces seizing control of the Belgian town of its lines penetrated. On 22 December, German
against a tree in a sitting position, where Bastogne. Numerous important roads passed commander Lt. Gen. Heinrich Freiherr von
he was left with his service pistol and eight through the town, making it of strategic Luttwitz sent in two surrendering soldiers with
rounds of ammunition. importance to both sides. a note demanding the Americans surrender, to
This is where his body was found some The 101st Airborne arrived in Bastogne on which Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe famously
time later, in the same position, but with the 18 December and two days later, German exclaimed: Nuts!
gun empty and eight dead Japanese soldiers forces mounted a surprise attack through the As the days passed, the weather cleared and
around him. He was posthumously promoted Ardennes mountains; they surrounded the town supplies could be airlifted to the US troops.
to Sergeant and awarded the prestigious and on 20 December commenced artillery ire. Mistakes by the German attackers also helped
Medal of Honor. German soldiers who attempted to storm the 101st
the American survival troops were moved
Airborne in Bastogne lie dead on the ground after towards the town of Meuse, weakening the circle
being cut down by machine gun ire and helping the 101st hold the crossroads. After
seven days of ighting, parts of General Pattons
Third Army arrived, breaking the German
encirclement and ending the siege.
The successfully defended siege proved a
deining victory for the US and turned the tide in
not just the Battle of the Bulge, but the whole
war. From here, Allied forces would not only hold
their position, but advance forward, marking the
beginning of the end for Nazi Germany.

14
25 GREATEST LAST STANDS

THE SIEGE OF SZIGETVR


5 AUG-7 SEPT, 1566
As Ottoman Emperor Suleiman the Magniicent pushed into Hungary, he
met Count Nikola Zrinski, whose 2,500 men held an army of 100,000

AGAINST THE ODDS


Number of defenders: 12,000 approx
off the Szigetvr fortress for a month. Before his death, Zrinski booby-
trapped the fortress with explosives, killing thousands of Ottoman
soldiers as they eventually stormed the building.
Number of attackers: 54,000 approx
Attacking advantage: Much larger numbers encircling the 101st
Airborne, with superior equipment and access to supplies.
Defending disadvantage: Lack of suficient winter clothing, no supplies
due to weather, exhaustion from prior combat in Holland. BATTLE OF SHIROYAMA
24 SEPTEMBER, 1877
In the inal battle of the Satsuma Rebellion in which samurai revolted
against the new imperialist government Saigo Takamori and his 300
samurai were surrounded by 30,000 armed imperial troops. The samurai
fought with their bows and katanas, but eventually succumbed to an
artillery bombardment. The samurai all perished, ending the rebellion.

Soldiers of the US 101st Division


march out of Bastogne in the snow
during or just after the siege

15
25 GREATEST LAST STANDS

AGAINST THE ODDS


Number of defenders: 6,000
Number of attackers: 100,000
Attacking advantage: Huge numbers of troops,
as well as the support of Greek cities that had
switched allegiance prior to the battle.
Defending disadvantage: Inferior numbers, as
well as attacks from both the front and to the rear.

Painting of King Leonidas


making his legendary last
stand at Thermopylae, by
Jacques Louis-David

KING LEONIDAS HOLDS SOVIET RESISTANCE


BACK THE PERSIAN EMPIRE THE DEFENSE OF BREST FORTRESS
22-29 JUNE, 1941
THE BATTLE OF THERMOPYLAE 480BCE
AS THE GREEKS WENT TO WAR WITH THE INVADING PERSIANS, SPARTAN KING LEONIDAS
NUMBERS: SOVIET: 9,000 (APPROX) AXIS: 20,000 (APPROX)
LED A SMALL ARMY TO NEAR VICTORY In one of the irst battles of the pivotal Operation Barbarossa the
The Persian king Xerxes invasion of turn and overpower the Persians name given to the attempted Nazi invasion of the USSR Soviet troops
Greece in 480BCE forced the cities tricked into pursuit. and civilians made one of the Second World Wars most deining and
to unite in battle. With Spartan king After two days, a Greek traitor courageous last stands.
Leonidas leading the charge, they revealed a pathway leading Launching a surprise attack of Brest Fortress, in Belarus on the
chose to defend a narrow pass behind Leonidas men, enabling Russian-Polish border, Axis forces initiated their irst major battle with
between the mountains and the the Persians to execute a sneak Soviet forces. In addition to the 9,000 Soviet soldiers, border guards and
sea, called Thermopylae. attack. The Spartan warriors NKVD operatives inside the fortress, there were 300 family members
The Persians arrived at the pass, among the Greek forces refused of the soldiers who helped by reloading guns, providing food and even
but several days went by without to lee despite this disadvantage, ighting off the enemy.
battle. When a scout was sent and chose to ight on. Eventually, As the battle raged for seven days, the Soviets developed defensive
to ind out the Greek position, he they withdrew to a nearby hillock encampments in the fortress that held back the Germans, who suffered
returned to say the Spartans were and battled with what strength unexpectedly heavy casualties over 1,000 dead or wounded.
combing their hair and exercising. they had left. Before long the The fortress inally fell on 29 June. The Soviet forces lost 2,000 men
King Xerxes was warned they sheer number of Persian soldiers and nearly 7,000 captured, but the fortress remained a symbol of Soviet
were preparing for war. Finally, the became too great and volleys of strength. The battle itself, meanwhile, was a precursor to the Nazis
Persians launched the attack. arrows overwhelmed the Spartans. struggle in trying to take the USSR.
The Greek army defended the The Persian army went on
pass from behind a wall blocking to march into central Greece,
the path, from behind which it causing havoc and destruction
successfully fended off wave after and conquering most of the
wave of attacking Persians. In the country. However, Leonidas
narrow space, the Persian horde and his men became martyrs,
couldnt utilise its greater numbers boosting the Greeks morale
and the Greeks longer spears in their efforts to repel Xerxes
proved highly eficient. Occasionally invading forces eventually
the Greeks feigned retreat, only to expelling them the next year.

16
25 GREATEST LAST STANDS

THE BATTLE OF THE


IMJIN RIVER
22-25 APRIL, 1951
A year into the Korean War, 10,000 Chinese
troops attacked a small UN defensive line. The
isolated Gloucestershire Regiment just 650
men, immortalised as the Glorious Glosters
took the worst of it. They withdrew and
reformed on a nearby hill, where they stood
and fought for 24 hours, until being ordered to
retreat. Of the 650, only 40 escaped.

A squad of the 3rd Ranger Co., 3rd Infantry


Division, moves out of assembly area to probe
Chinese Communist territory north of the Imjin
River, Korea. 17 April 1951

A SIKH REGIMENT STANDS


FOR QUEEN AND COUNTRY
THE BATTLE OF SARAGARHI
NUMBERS: PASHTUNS: 10,000 SIKHS: 21
12 SEPTEMBER, 1897
The British struggled to hold India, and it often The post was defended by a small band of
proved too big for British government to control. Sikhs, just 21 individuals from the 36th Sikh
In 1897 it faced one of its biggest challenges Regiment, who all chose to ight to the death,
yet an attack at the North-West Frontier using up all of their ammunition before taking
Province, part of British India and today part of on the attackers in hand-to-hand combat. They
Pakistan. The area was occupied by the tribal killed nearly 600 Pashtuns before eventually
Pashtuns, who had rejected British rule. being overpowered.
In September 1897, 10,000 Pashtuns launch
an attack, charging the signalling post in the
village of Saragarhi to cut off communication
The Pashtun rising was crushed two days
later under heavy artillery ire. The 36th Sikh
Regiment continues to commemorate the battle
THE OLD GUARD
between two British forts. every year on 12 September.
AT WATERLOO
FIGHTING IRISH KEEP THE PEACE
18 JUNE, 1815
As the British pushed back Napoleons
Imperial Guards, charging forward with

THE SIEGE OF JADOTVILLE


NUMBERS: CONGOLESE: 5,000 IRISH: 150
SEPTEMBER, 1961
bayonets ixed, it looked for sure that the
French were defeated. All that remained was
the Old Guard, which had been waiting in
reserve. They stood their ground, refusing to
On a United Nations peacekeeping mission The attackers came with aircraft and surrender to the British, until relentless attacks
during the Katanga conlict in the Congo, a mortar support, while the Irish had light anti- eventually left none alive.
company of Irish support troops was deployed personnel weapons and antiquated Vickers
to the city of Jadotville, arriving without machine guns. The besieged troops famously
support staff or adequate supplies. reported: We will hold out until our last bullet
On a Sunday morning, while the mostly is spent. Could do with some whiskey.
Catholic troops were attending mass, a band The Katangese attacked in waves of 600,
of mercenaries and local tribesmen loyal to but the Irish response was effective and
Katangese Prime Minister Moise Tshombe precise, concentrating its ire on Katangese
attacked the UN troops outpost. machine gun and mortar posts.
Under the bombardment, the Irish held out
for six days, killing 300 of the attackers and
wounding up to 1,000 more, before being
forced to surrender when they exhausted their
ammunition. It was the only time since the
creation of the Irish state that its troops had
been in combat with another nation.

17
25 GREATEST LAST STANDS

The Battle of Rorkes Drift as painted by Alphonse


de Neuville in 1880. The publics image of the
battle would be shaped by the ilm Zulu (1964)

139 SOLDIERS VS THOUSANDS OF ZULU WARRIORS


BATTLE OF RORKES DRIFT 22-23 JANUARY, 1879
those who had made it back from Isandlwana The last stand was held up as a deinitive
A SMALL BRITISH POST IS CHARGED BY THOUSANDS OF ZULU
helped reload the guns and distribute act of British heroism and a welcome means
WARRIORS LEADING TO ONE OF THE BRITISH MILITARYS MOST ammunition. Some Zulus eventually broke into of boosting public morale in the face of the
CELEBRATED VICTORIES the hospital and speared the patients within, Isandlwana massacre. The survivors of Rorkes
Intent on establishing a colony, British forces though they were eventually fought off and the Drift were awarded 11 Victoria Crosses and ive
invaded Zululand and sought out the army of surviving patients rescued. Distinguished Conduct Medal. Zululand was
Zulu king Cetshwayo. Underestimating the After 12 hours of ighting the Zulus eventually declared a British territory the following year.
Zulus ighting abilities, the British divided retreated, leaving behind 400 dead. But the The battle became a popular story in British
and suffered a surprise attack at Isandlwana, British soldiers were by this point low on military history and a powerful example of how
losing almost 1,700 men. Then the Zulu Army ammunition if the Zulus were to mount another a courageous last stand on the battleield can
proceeded across the Buffalo River to Rorkes attack, it was likely they would break through. overshadow other losses.
Drift, where the British had already established
a depot and hospital. British survivors standing on the
Using bags of maize, canned food, and battleield at Rorkes Drift
biscuit boxes as makeshift barricades, the
British soldiers at Rorkes Drift which
famously included Colonel John Chard, Major
Gonville Bromhead, and Corporal William
Allen held back the Zulus with their gunire.
Any enemy warrior that managed to climb the
barricades was repelled with bayonets. British
soldiers too wounded to ight including

AGAINST THE ODDS


Number of defenders: 139
Number of attackers: 4,000
Attacking advantage: Superior numbers, high
ground, knowledge of the terrain.
Defending disadvantage: Defenders werent
the soldiering elite, mostly made up from cooks,
engineers, and supply clerks.

18
25 GREATEST LAST STANDS

ONE VIKING HOLDS BACK THE KINGS ARMY


THE BATTLE OF STAMFORD BRIDGE 25 SEPTEMBER, 1066
THREE WEEKS BEFORE THE BATTLE OF HASTINGS, KING HAROLD DEFEATED ANOTHER INVASION
THOUGH HE WAS NEARLY HALTED BY JUST ONE VIKING WARRIOR

AGAINST THE ODDS


Number of defenders: An army of 6,000 approx
whittled down to just one
Number of attackers: Between 10,000-12,000 men
Attacking advantage: Harolds army took the Viking
Arbo: Battle of
Stamford Bridge by
invaders by surprise with greater numbers, mostly
Peter Nicolai Arbo mounted on horseback.
(1870). Notice the Defending disadvantage: The Vikings had removed
arrow to the Viking King protective clothing in the heat and are thought to have
Hardradas throat in the divided, thus weakening their ranks.
centre of the battle

The Viking King Harald Hardrada, challenger Edward the Confessor had promised him the over an hour, single-handedly killing up to 40
to the English throne, had landed in Yorkshire English throne before his death. Aware of the English soldiers.
accompanied by the English King Harolds Viking invasion, William decided to delay his Unable to defeat him face-to-face, Harolds
brother, Earl Tostig. The Vikings swiftly defeated own invasion until Harold was at his most men had to come up with an alternative
Morcar, Earl of Northumberland and Edwin, Earl vulnerable, dealing with Hardrada in the North. means of chopping down the warrior. One of
of Mercia in a bloody battle, before receiving King Harold was in a dificult position he the English soldiers loated a barrel in the
the surrender of York. anticipated the arrival of William in the south river below, paddling under the bridge. From
Of course the other infamous claimant to any day. Would he travel north to deal with the this position he thrust a spear through the
the throne, William of Normandy, maintained Vikings, or stay where he was to await Williams wooden slats of the bridge, stabbing the
attack? Harold chose to march north, hoping Viking in the groin and mortally wounding him.
to defeat Hardrada and the Vikings before Finally, the English soldiers could advance.

WAKE ISLAND
8-23 DECEMBER, 1941
returning south in time to meet William.
Hardrada travelled to Stamford Bridge, where
he had agreed to exchange hostages. Expecting
They found the Norse army formed into a
shield wall, leading to brutal hand-to-hand
combat that lasted for hours. However, it
Harold to remain in the south under the threat was already too late for the Vikings: Harald
The day after Pearl Harbor, the Paciic of Norman invasion, the Viking king left a third Hardrada was killed with an arrow to the
outpost of Wake Island was attacked by of his troops and armour at his base camp at throat and the treacherous Earl Tostig slain
around 30 Japanese aircraft. But a small Riccall on the River Ouse. on the battleield. It was to be a victory for
combined force of US marines, sailors and Harolds army, most likely mounted troops, the English.
civilians fended off the Japaneses irst reached York on the morning of September 25.

THE AFTERMATH
landing attempt, sinking two destroyers and Reinforced by what remained of Morcars and
damaging a cruiser. The Japanese succeeded Edwins forces, he marched to Stamford Bridge,
in taking the island on 23 December, but lost taking Hardrada completely by surprise.
up to 1,000 men. Harolds army charged towards the Vikings, DESPITE THE LONE VIKINGS EFFORTS, THE BATTLE WAS A
devastating them immediately. Those who DECISIVE VICTORY FOR HAROLD
werent killed immediately struggled to pull The lone Vikings last stand was seemingly
their armour on and make a defensive line. Harolds biggest obstacle in the battle. Overall
They managed to form a circle to hold back the the victory proved Harold to be an able
English, but the ambush had already laid waste commander, while his troops particularly the
to many of their number deciding the outcome housecarls proved themselves highly skilled.
of the bloody battle long before it was inished. The victory at Stamford Bridge will forever
be linked to Harolds defeat at the Battle of
The advance of Harolds army was delayed
Hastings, which took place less than three
by the need to pass through the narrow
weeks later. Had Harold not been forced to
chokepoint of the bridge. Blocking the way was leave Williams landing in the south unopposed,
one lone Viking, an anonymous warrior who later facing him with an army that had suffered
stood wielding a great axe. Harolds troops tried losses and was stricken by fatigue, then the
to cross, but the lone Viking cut down every one outcome could have been very different.
who challenged him. He held this position for

19
WAR IN FOCUS

20
WAR IN FOCUS

in

THE CONQUEST OF SIBERIA


Painted c. 1895
Painted by Vasily Surikov, this dramatic scene depicts
Yermak Timofeyevichs men ighting at the Battle
of Chuvash Cape (1582). Beginning his expedition
to Siberia in around 1579-81, Yermak and his
band of more than 800 men fought against
thousands of native Siberian Tatars, who
were defeated by superior irepower. The
Khanate of Sibir, led by Kuchum
Khan, fell shortly after
Yermaks victory.

21
Mark Stretton holds the World
Record for drawing a 200-pound
draw weight war bow

THE BOW THAT


22
BUILT BRITAIN
The English longbow has become legendary as one of the most
effective and feared weapons of the Medieval age
THE BOW THAT BUILT BRITAIN

I
n the hands of English and Welsh archers, effective in countless battles. The English
the longbow became the stuff of legend. longbow dominated battle for more than 300
From the blood-soaked ields of the years during the Scottish Wars, the Hundred
Hundred Years War to the mythical igure of Years War and the Wars of the Roses. Capable
Robin Hood, the longbow came to represent the of blistering rates of ire and hitting enemies
common man during an age synonymous with hundreds of yards away, the longbow was a
the dashing chivalric knights of the nobility. terrifyingly effective weapon. The men who
Originally used as a hunting weapon, the wielded the bows were seasoned professionals
use of the bow in war began during the Dark who had spent years honing their skills.
Ages by the Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and later the Longbowmen formed a class of their own
Normans. Over time, the draw-weight and power not as grand as the noble knights, but
of the bow increased, and clashes with Welsh still a cut above the lowly foot soldier. They
archers during the 13th century impressed the smashed charging French knights at Poitiers
English commanders leading them to ield and Agincourt; cut down Scottish hordes at
large contingents of archers. Falkirk and Flodden; and outshot Genoese
The English use of archers en masse was crossbowmen at the Battle of Crecy. The
a tactical innovation that proved decisively longbowman, however, was not invincible.
He was susceptible to cavalry attack, and
at Verneuil in 1424 and Patay ive years

THE LONGBOW AND THE later, French knights smashed through the
unprepared English archers.

ARCHERS WHO USED THEM Despite this, the archers continued to


make up a vital part of the English armies of

BECAME THE SCOURGE the period. While many became professional


soldiers, most were drawn from other walks

OF BATTLEFIELDS ACROSS of life. Surviving documents show butchers,


tailors, furriers, cooks, blacksmiths and even

BRITAIN AND EUROPE, physicians enlisting as archers all drawn to


the kings banner by the generous daily pay

CREATING A LEGEND THAT offered to skilled bowmen. The longbow and the
archers who used them became the scourge of

ENDURES EVEN TODAY battleields across Britain and Europe, creating


a legend that endures even today.

Xxxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx


xxxx xx xxxxx xxxxx
xxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx

23
THE BOW THAT BUILT BRITAIN

ANATOMY OF THE BRITISH

LONGBOW
TRADITIONAL BOW-MAKER WILL SHERMAN EXPLAINS THE KEY
FEATURES OF THE BOW, AS WELL AS WHERE ITS DEADLY POWER LIES

THE MEDIEVAL WAR BOW


Almost seven feet long, two inches wide and with a draw-
weight of up to 150 pounds, this hand-crafted single piece of
wood could propel a deadly missile weighing a quarter of a
pound up to 230 yards with ease.

ARROW BAGS
Arrow bags were provided to archers for transporting their
ammunition.The bags would have been made of linen and
contained a stiff leather disc with holes for the arrow shafts.
This kept the arrow letchings from being damaged in transit.
It is most likely that the arrow bags would have contained 24
arrows, known as a sheaf. These bags could be secured to
a belt using a knot that tightened around the arrows while
allowing them to be used easily.

FLETCHINGS
The lights, or letchings, of the
arrow were made of goose, swan
or peacock feathers. The feathers
were fastened to the arrow shaft
using animal skin glues, and
bound firmly in place with silk.
The letchings would either be
trimmed with shears or burned NOCKS
to shape with hot steel. A feather To protect the soft yew wood from
has a natural curve, and by using being damaged by the bowstring
three feathers from the same when being shot, the tips of cattle
wing, spin would be imparted to horn were used. These horn nocks
the arrow much like riling. had a single groove cut into one
side, into which the bowstring would
be looped or tied.

ARROW STRENGTH
With such powerful bows, the wooden ends
of the arrows would often split and break on
release.To protect against this, a thin sliver of
lattened cow horn was inserted into a slot cut at
the base of the arrow, going against the grain of
the wood, strengthening the arrow considerably.

24
THE BOW THAT BUILT BRITAIN

HANDLE
Medieval war bows had nothing covering the handle, unlike
more recent longbows. Leather grips are seen on most
modern or Victorian bows, sometimes intricately detailed
or decorated. These can be padded, or wrapped around
cork to make the thin handle more comfortable.

BOWSTRINGS
Bowstrings were made from hemp or linen. The
strands were coated in beeswax and twisted
together to form a strong loop with no knots or joins
that could result in weakness. When the bow was
not being used, the string loops were lifted out of
the horn nocks and slid down the bow limb.

A FEATHER HAS A NATURAL CURVE, AND


BY USING THREE FEATHERS FROM THE
SAME WING, SPIN WOULD BE IMPARTED THE TARGET LONGBOW
Lighter, faster and more stable, this modern
TO THE ARROW MUCH LIKE RIFLING reincarnation of the war bow has a draw-weight
of only 50 pounds, and in the hands of a skilled
archer can achieve incredible accuracy.

WAR BOW VS SPORTING BOW


As military archery became extinct, the longbow evolved into
sporting equipment. The immense draw-weights were no longer
necessary, as arrows didnt need to pierce thick armour.As
a result, the bows became lighter, faster and more stable
perfect for shooting in competitions.They became stiffer in the
centre section for increased accuracy, and exotic hardwoods
began to be used in laminations to rival the natural spring of
yew, which was quickly becoming rare and expensive.

ARROWS
The arrows used in military archery varied greatly in
size, shape and weight.An average length of around
30 inches can be assumed from the thousands
of arrows found on the Mary Rose, which sank in
1545.Often half an inch thick at the point, they
were armed with hand-forged steel heads, each
designed to do a specific job.

CONSTRUCTION OF A WAR BOW


A Medieval war bow was usually made of yew wood
from Europe.The thin layer of living outer sapwood was
creamy in colour, and resisted tension perfect for the
lat back of the bow.The dead inner heartwood was
darker and more caramel in colour, and resisted the
massive compressive forces acting against it at full
draw, making it an ideal timber for the rounded belly
of the bow. This formed a naturally occurring spring.

25
THE BOW THAT BUILT BRITAIN

THE AGE OF THE LONGBOW


ONE OF THE MOST REVOLUTIONARY WEAPONS OF ITS AGE, THE LONGBOW HELPED THE ENGLISH CUT A SWATHE THROUGH FRANCE
The longbow helped to shape what became the shot their arrows with such force and quickness arrows were best for piercing a soldiers plate
English way of war: small mobile armies made up that it seems as if it snowed. armour. These pointed tips could stab deep
of knights, men-at-arms and, most importantly, English archers irst made their name at the into lesh, and lacerated the victims tissue with
archers, who could march and ight at a moments Battle of Falkirk, destroying the tightly packed their every movement. Broad-headed arrows,
notice. Throughout the Hundred Years War Scottish schiltrons. But the Battle of Bannockburn, meanwhile, could create hideously painful
between France and England, the longbowmen in 1314, demonstrated how vulnerable archers wounds and were dificult to remove even for
proved their worth. A skilled archer was able to were to cavalry when Scottish horses outlanked trained surgeons.
loose up to eight arrows per minute and strike them. This became a pattern, with archers Crucially for a war economy, the war bow was
an enemy more than 200 metres away. In order often proving decisive when they were expertly cheap to make, lightweight and versatile. Even
to master the longbow and become an archer, deployed, as at Nevilles Cross in 1346 and as late as 1545, Henry VIIIs lagship, the Mary
both strength and skill were required. Hours of Aljubarrota in 1385, or when they were well Rose, carried more than 200 longbows and
daily practice at the butts were needed, and by protected either by stakes as at Agincourt or by thousands of arrows.
1369 the call for trained archers had become so men-at-arms as at Crecy. The Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, in 1547, marked
important that Edward III decreed all sports were Their weaknesses were revealed, however, one of the last times the longbow was used in a
to be banned and all able-bodied men were to when they were caught in the open at Verneuil major battle, with both the English and Scottish
practise their archery instead. and Patay or were lured away from their armies ielding several thousand archers. While
In battle, an archer would have to ire as fast defensive positions. At Formigny, in 1450, the archers did not play the pivotal role that
and consistently as he could, often with his life they were left vulnerable and were cut down they had in earlier battles, they fought alongside
depending on it. A French chronicle of the Battle mercilessly by enemy cavalry. Henry VIIIs most modern gunpowder weapons
of Crecy even recalled that the English archers The typical 130 to 150-pound draw-weight cannons and arquebuses.
of a war bow enabled it to penetrate a knights Despite the dawning of the gunpowder age,

THROUGHOUT THE HUNDRED plate armour at about 60 yards. Archers used


a variety of arrows, from sharply pointed and
archers continued to be part of English armies
during Elizabeth Is reign, with longbowmen

YEARS WAR BETWEEN FRANCE hardened arrowheads to incendiary arrows and


broad-headed swallowtail points, which were
among the trained bands that prepared to meet
the Spanish Armadas invasion force in 1588.

AND ENGLAND, THE LONGBOWMEN dificult to remove.


Long needle-like bodkins were the best Below: At Poitiers in 1356, English archers drive off

PROVED THEIR WORTH arrowheads for attacking chainmail, textile


armour and horses, while short spear-point
the initial French cavalry charge. The longbowmen used
broad-headed swallowtail-tipped arrows

ENGLISH WAR BOW SOCIETY


Formed in 2008, the English War Bow Society is the only group in
the world dedicated to the Medieval/Tudor English Longbow and the
techniques of shooting the bow. For more information and for upcoming
events, visit: www.theenglishwarbowsociety.com.

26
THE BOW THAT BUILT BRITAIN

MILITARY ARROWHEADS OF THE

The arrowheads shown are made by Miloslav Lasky Krizan and Hector Cole MBE
LONGBOW VS CROSSBOW
MEDIEVAL PERIOD
TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT MEDIEVAL ARROWHEADS AND FIND OUT HOW EACH
GREAT RIVALS OF THEIR AGE, THE LONGBOW AND
CROSSBOW HAD THEIR MOST FAMOUS CLASH IN
1346 IN A VALLEY IN NORTHERN FRANCE
WAS MADE AND USED Like the longbow, the crossbow was irst used for hunting,
but in time it evolved into a deadly weapon of war. The
crossbows greatest strengths were its superior power and
relative ease of use, enabling crossbowmen to train in
days rather than the years it took for an archer to become
proicient. However, its rate of ire was much slower and its
range less than that of the longbow.
LOZENGE-SHAPED HEAVY BODKIN The most famous clash between the longbow and its rival
Heavy, large and with four sharpened edges, this long bodkin point was developed came in August 1346, at Crecy, where Edward IIIs small
purely to punch holes right through steel plate armour. The arrowhead socket is force of 10,000 men won a decisive victory against Philip
formed from a lattened spoon shape, rolled into a cone and itted over the wooden VI of Frances 30,000-strong army. Philips army included a
arrow shaft. When used with a half-inch-thick arrow weighing almost a quarter of a corps of 6,000 Genoese crossbowmen who, at the start of
the battle, advanced ahead of the French army.
pound and shot from a true military war bow, this would have been the equivalent of a
As the Genoese mercenaries began to ire at the English
Medieval rocket-propelled grenade.
line, the crossbows fatal laws became clear. Soaked
by heavy rain, the thick strings had become slack and
stretched, reducing the Genoese crossbows range even
further. As the English archers began to return ire, the
crossbowmen, without their protective shields, were left
exposed in the vital minutes it took them to reload. Caught
in a hail of English arrows, they retreated. Contemporary
accounts recall that the disgusted French knights, advancing
behind the crossbowmen, cut down scores of the retreating
Genoese mercenaries.
TYPE 10
This was perhaps the most common arrowhead of the Hundred Years War simple
and fast to make, and highly effective against the armour of the period. The Type THE CROSSBOWS GREATEST
10 was a simple bodkin a four-sided point and a rolled socket. Forged by a master
arrowsmith, this was the evolution of the needle-bodkin. As chainmail gave way to STRENGTHS WERE ITS SUPERIOR
plate armour, the Type 10 arrowhead found its way into the Medieval arms race.
POWER AND RELATIVE EASE OF USE

While frequently
enemies, archers
and crossbowmen
often found
TYPE 16 themselves working
This arrowhead has a very distinct difference from the bodkins. It contained together. At Falkirk,
barbs on either side, which made it incredibly dificult to remove from whichever English archers and
target it may have pierced. The barbs would most likely have been ire welded crossbowmen beat
the Scots
to the head separately. The popularity of such a head is unknown, but surviving
examples of Type 16s do surface from time to time. This may have been a
military-adapted version of a hunting head.

TUDOR BODKIN
As with the Type 10, this arrowhead would also have been cheap and fast to produce.
According to master arrowsmith Mark Stretton, once the socket has been formed in
Getty

the usual way, the red-hot arrowhead is placed into a press or swage, which is then
hammered shut. The corners are then cut and ground to produce the sharpened edges.
This type of head would have been mostly ineffective against plate armour, but would
pierce many types of textile armour, such as padded Gambesons or leather Jupons.

27
AFTER A LONG TRUCE, HENRY VS MEN TOOK UP THEIR LONGBOWS AND SET
SAIL FOR FRANCE. THE HUNDRED YEARS WAR WAS ABOUT TO REIGNITE

PAS-DE-CALAIS, FRANCE, 25 OCTOBER 1415

B
y the summer of 1415, France
had regained the majority of its
land from Edward IIIs conquests.
Aquitaine and Calais were still held
by the English, but the cross-channel
invaders had been almost completely
driven out of Normandy and Flanders.
Back in England, Henry V had been sat
on the throne for two years. In that time
he had become intent on reclaiming
vast swathes of France for himself.
Taking his claim from his great-
grandfather Edward, Henry initially
offered the French 1.6 million Crowns
to recognise English rule and ordered
payment for the body of French King John
II, who was captured at the Battle of
Poitiers in 1356. Negotiations of these
harsh terms predictably fell through, so
Henry turned to military action.
As well as his burning desire for
conquest, the warrior king had the ideal
conditions for a successful invasion.
Despite a recent plot to overthrow his
rule, he had noble support, broadly there
was domestic peace and, perhaps most
importantly, unrest on the continent.
King of France Charles VI was prone
to bouts of insanity, hand in 1407, his
troubled reign had led to the formation
of rival factions in the Valois royal family.
Louis, the duke of Orlans and brother
of the king, had been murdered in Paris
by the Burgundians, and civil war wasnt
far away. France, after vanquishing the
English in 1389, had descended into
chaos. Henry was ready to strike.

28 600 th
ANNIVERSARY
AS WELL AS HIS BURNING DESIRE FOR
CONQUEST, THE WARRIOR KING HAD THE IDEAL
CONDITIONS FOR A SUCCESSFUL INVASION
THE BATTLE OF AGINCOURT BY GRAHAM TURNER
FOR MORE OF GRAHAMS FANTASTIC ARTWORK, VISIT WWW.STUDIO88.CO.UK

29
GREAT BATTLES

Even though the rules of chivalry stated


that no battleield should favour either
side, the location of Agincourt clearly
held an advantage for the English

30
AGINCOURT

The invasion begins and put into the ield of battle. Although he was
Setting off from Southampton, Henry was instrumental in assembling the soldiers, the
convinced that he could unite the thrones of
England and France he fervently believed that
king would not take to the battleield, and in his
absence, Marshal Boucicault and Constable
OPPOSING
English ownership of the French crown was a
birthright and Gods will. He landed in Normandy
dAlbret would lead the French forces. The main
French army was situated in nearby Rouen, but
FORCES
on 14 August with 8,000 archers and 2,000 men- only watched as Henry marched uncontested
at-arms, who were contracted for 12 months towards Calais. His army was so large that no
service. On arrival, Henry stepped onto shore irst town or village dared oppose him, and he had no
and fell to his knees, praying to God to give him need to pillage as almost every town offered food
strength against his enemies. to the king for his soldiers and horses.
The English armys plan began with a siege DAlbret and his men were intent on engaging
of the nearby town of Harleur, which had been the English near to their own strongholds at
an important centre of operations for raids on Abbeville and Amiens. The scene of Edward IIIs
ENGLISH FRENCH
LEADER LEADER
the English coast. The invasion started with emphatic victory at Crcy was near here, so the Henry V Charles I of Albret
a stumble. The siege took much longer than French were keen to get revenge on the same FORCES FORCES
expected, and the French commune put up piece of land 69 years after their defeat. However, Approximately 500 Estimates range from 12-
ierce resistance for more than a month. When this idea didnt go to plan, and instead the French 1,000 men-at-arms and 30,000 men-at-arms and
Harleur inally surrendered on 22 September, cut off the English at the Somme. 7,000 archers knights, accompanied by
campaigning season was almost over. The plans When Henry made it to the river estuary, there GAME CHANGERS crossbowmen and artillery
to take Paris and Bordeaux were put on hold as was no sign of Bardolph, and to his surprise, the The power and fire rate GAME CHANGERS
the English sought to take refuge in Calais for French had barricaded the main crossing. Henry of the English longbow Overwhelming numbers of
the winter. Leaving their artillery, 1,200 men and had to divert to another bridge, stretching both had been upgraded men-at-arms and knights
most of their baggage train behind as a garrison, his resources and the resolve of his men. After since the days of Crcy could smash the English
they marched 160 kilometres (100 miles) inally crossing the river, they were met by the and was wielded by lines while being protected
north towards Calais. Before setting off, Henry French 48 kilometres (30 miles) from Calais. Two skilled English and from arrows by tough
contacted the governor of Calais, Sir William days march from safety and not far from the Welsh archers plate armour
Bardolph, asking him to safeguard his chosen heavily fortiied French town of Hesdin, appeals
crossing point of the River Somme, the same
point that Edward III had traversed in 1346.
The French had been tracking the English since
the fall of Harleur, and Charles had summoned
ON ARRIVAL, HENRY STEPPED ONTO
knights from every part of his kingdom to engage SHORE FIRST AND FELL TO HIS KNEES,
Henrys military. Letters were sent to every
noble in the realm as the king amassed a huge PRAYING TO GOD TO GIVE HIM
army to ight off the invaders. All weapons and
cannons were removed from town defence duties STRENGTH AGAINST HIS ENEMIES

HENRYS ROUTE
TO CALAIS DOVER
(29 OCT)
CALAIS
SOUTHAMPTON

AGINCOURT (25 OCT)

EU
(8 OCT) AMIENS
FECAMP
CHERBOURG (14 OCT)

NESLE
(18 OCT)

HARFLEUR
(17 AUG 10 OCT)
PARIS

31
GREAT BATTLES

for a safe passage to Calais were refused. As the


huge French army spilled over the horizon, there
was now no way to avoid a pitched battle, and the
Great Battles

BATTLE25OFOCTOBER
AGINCOURT
chosen location was a forest between the villages
of Tramecourt and Agincourt.

Amassing on the ridge


The exhausted and disease-ridden English army
had marched for 17 days and was in no condition
to ight. After having lived off nuts, raw vegetables
and contaminated drinking water for days, the
morale in the English camp on the eve of the
battle was low. In contrast, the French camp was
1415
vibrant. New soldiers were arriving by the hour
and they stayed up gambling and drinking, certain 01 The armies assemble
The two forces face each other
across a narrow forest clearing. The
of victory the next day. So conident were some of
the soldiers that they had even fashioned a cart huge French army is organised into three
especially for Henrys dead body to ride through divisions with both knights and men-
the streets of Paris upon victory. at-arms. The English army has much
A cold and wet morning broke the next fewer men, and its hopes hinge on the
day. Winter was on its way and the freshly effectiveness of the longbowmen.
ploughed ground below the soldiers feet
resembled a mudpit after heavy overnight rain.
02 Insult before injury
Men from either side
goad each other across the
The longbowmen took up their positions just recently ploughed ields. Both
before dawn on slight ridges overlooking both Henry and dAlbret are reluctant
sides of the battleield as well as interspersing to take the initiative. The French
themselves in the core of the infantry. want to starve the English out
Although this was an English army, many of the while Henry knows that his
longbowmen were Welsh. The longbow was irst strengths lie in a tight proximity.
used in great numbers in Wales and some of the
inest archers in the entire army came from there.
The archers were joined by 500 men-at-arms
who stood nervously in rank and ile. Many of
them were ordinary men, not seasoned veterans
of battle, and they watched on as the French
amassed opposite them with about six times as
many men in their ranks.
King Henry, in crown and plumed bascinet,
constantly encouraged his men and would ight
shoulder to shoulder with them as he took
charge of the centre, with Sir Thomas Erpingham 04 French cavalry rush
After failing to attack the
longbowmen when they were exposed
manning the right and Lord Camoys leading the
left. Thick forest enclosed both armies into a while on the move, the French inally
unleash their feared cavalry charge. The
conined space of about 900 metres (2,950 feet)
knights are followed closely by unmounted
wide but the French were sure that there was
infantry as they near Henrys ranks.
still room for their cavalry to lank and ultimately
encircle the English, striking the deadly archers
from all directions. Their army was divided into
three lines: the vanguard, the main body and
the rearguard. One was mounted and two were
on foot, with dAlbret and Boucicault leading the
vanguard with the dukes of Bourbon and Orlans.
The French knew the threat the longbowmen
03 The English advance
The French attack is not
forthcoming, so Henry is forced to
posed and had upgraded their armour since the move. He orders his longbowmen
days of Crcy. They now wore thick steel plates forward and they take up a position
in range of the French lines. Guarded
THE LINES WERE by wooden stakes, they begin
pummelling the French with arrows.
SUCH A MESS
THAT FALLEN
TROOPS WERE
CRUSHED DOWN 07 Attack on the baggage train
As the English take command, the

INTO THE MUD, French dispatch a secondary force. The


attack focuses on the English baggage

UNABLE TO RISE train and initially catches Henry off guard.


An angered Henry slaughters the French

UP AGAIN DUE TO prisoners and the attack comes to nothing


as the French begin to lee.

EXHAUSTION
32
AGINCOURT

Ed Crooks
08 English victory
Scattered and leaderless, the
French army is a spent force. They lee
as the English ransack the French camp.
Henry claims a victory that reinvigorates 06 The heat of battle
The crazed horses unsaddle their
riders and crash into the French infantry.
the English cause in France. The
Lancastrian phase of the war begins. The English line buckles, but in close
quarters, numbers mean nothing. The
archers drop their bows and slash at the
French with swords and axes.

05 A hail of arrows
The charge is miscalculated and
reduces to walking pace as the horses get
stuck in the muddy battleield. They are
now sitting ducks for the longbowmen,
who ire rapidly at the French as the
charge turns into a disorganised frenzy.

33
GREAT BATTLES

DRAWN FROM BOTH


ENGLAND AND WALES,
LONGBOWMEN WERE THE
BACKBONE OF HENRYS ARMY
THE LONGBOW
Made out of yew, ash, oak or birch, the longbow originated
in Wales. By the time of Agincourt, it was one of the most
feared weapons on the Medieval battlefield.
ARROWS
Many different types
of arrowhead could be
used with a longbow.
The simplest was the
bodkin point, and the
majority of arrows ARMOUR
could penetrate even Unlike the men-at-arms, the longbowmen had very
the very toughest little armour except for a boiled leather jacket and
plate armour. occasionally a helmet. The tactics of an archer were
based around being nimble and light-footed.

SECONDARY THE
WEAPONS
When engaged in close- AGINCOURT
CAROL
quarters combat, the
longbowmen would drop
their bows and fight with
swords, axes and clubs. This Deo gracias anglia
was a last resort as archers redde pro victoria.
worked best at a distance. Our kyng went forth to Normandy
Wyth grace and myth of chyvalry
er God for hym wrouth mervelowsly
Qwerfore ynglond may cal and cry deo gracias.
Right: Due to their limited
armour, longbowmen were often
Deo gracias anglia
positioned behind barricades or redde pro victoria.
interspersed among troops with He set a sege for sothe to say
superior protection To harlu toune wyth ryal a ray
at toune he wan and mad a fray
at fraunse xal rewe tyl domysday deo gracias.
Deo gracias anglia
TRAINING redde pro victoria.
The longbow would be Than went hym forth owr kyng comely
nothing if it wasnt in the In achyncourt feld he fauth manly
hands of a trained archer. All Thorw grace of god most mervelowsly
sports except archery were He had both feld and vyctory deo gracias.
banned on Sundays and the Deo gracias anglia
most talented were drawn redde pro victoria.
into the English Army. Ther lordys eerlys and baroune
Were slayn and takyn and at ful soun
And summe were browth in to londoune
Wyth ioye and blysse and greth renoune
deo gracias.
Deo gracias anglia
redde pro victoria.
Almythy god he kepe our kyng
TACTICS Hys pepyl and al hys weel welyng
Longbowmen were vulnerable to cavalry so would And 3eve hem grace withoutyn endyng
attack from range and lank the enemy. Each an may we calle and savely syng
archer carried 60-70 arrows each, enabling up to deo gracias.
about six minutes of continuous fire. Deo gracias anglia
redde pro victoria.

34
AGINCOURT

with visor helmets. Each knight had a coat of


arms proudly emblazoned on his shield, and THE LONGBOWMEN IN THE
the French battle standard, the Orilamme, lew
on lags above them. In response, the English CENTRE HAMMERED STAKES INTO
soldiers carried a bow that was much more
powerful than the one employed during the THE GROUND, FORTIFYING THEIR
conquests of Edward III. Two-handed swords
were wielded by the higher classes of infantry on
POSITION IN A TACTIC LEARNED FROM
both sides, but the majority carried one-handed
swords or lances and even blunt weapons like
PREVIOUS CONFLICTS IN THE WAR
maces, hammers and clubs. Unfortunately for the French, their king, Charles that got even remotely close were impaled on the
VI, was still in Paris, unable to lead his army due stakes, and any that turned back crashed into
Henry makes his move to his failing mental health. Back at Agincourt, the oncoming men-at-arms, blunting the attack.
Both sides spat insults at each other, as several units of archers had secretly tracked With the battleground now even more churned
commanders became reluctant to make the irst through the forest surrounding the battleield and up by the horses hooves, the foot troops moved
move. The French were unwilling to advance, as into the nearby village of Tramecourt, creating forward painfully slowly. The area was so narrow
Boucicault in particular knew the English would another angle of attack for the English. Continuing that the French crossbowmen and artillery could
starve if they went much longer without food. undeterred, the longbowmen in the centre not support their now-isolated foot soldiers, as a
Henry was all too aware of this and inally rolled hammered stakes into the ground, fortifying wall of arrows struck the exhausted infantry.
the dice as he ordered his longbowmen forward. their position in a tactic learned from previous The French attack had just enough momentum
Kneeling and kissing the ground, the archers conlicts in the war. At 11am, on the kings order, to reach the enemy ranks, and at irst the
advanced until they were about 238 metres the archers opened ire. In response, the French English line began to buckle under the strain.
(750 feet) from the enemy lines. A trained archer cavalry charged, followed by men-at-arms. Knowing that leaving the narrow battleield would
could penetrate armour and kill or wound a target The longbowmen irst shot galling arrows to result in annihilation, the English rallied as the
from up to 220 metres (721 feet) away. The purposely wound and disorientate the French longbowmen dropped their bows and took up
French had already made their irst error by not ranks before switching to standard bodkin-point swords and axes. The French men-at-arms were
attacking the archers when they broke ranks and arrowheads. The combination of the narrow, protected by thick plate armour, but the nimble
moved forward. DAlbert and Boucicault were muddy battleield and the severely undermanned archers had purposely shortened their swords
experienced soldiers but lacked the authority and charge saw the French knights slaughtered by and lances, and would slash at any unprotected
respect that a king like Henry would receive from the hail of English arrows, as their frightened and area, while the huge amount of French troops
his men. injured horses became uncontrollable. Any horses struggled to swing their powerful broadswords

In the French ranks, nobles jostled for space so


they could have their coat of arms displayed at
the battle. The result was a chaotic mess

35
GREAT BATTLES

effectively. The lines were such a mess that


fallen troops were crushed down into the mud,
unable to rise up again due to exhaustion and the
THE ENGLISH MEN-AT-ARMS REFUSED
50-kilogram (110-pound) weight of the armour.
Any Frenchman who fell drowned in the mud as
AS IT CLASHED WITH THEIR CHIVALRIC
his fellow soldiers trampled over him. CODE, SO THE ARCHERS TOOK ON THE
Within 30 minutes of ighting, two of the three
French lines had been completely destroyed. The JOB, KILLING THEM IN COLD BLOOD
duke of Alenon lay dead in the mud as did the
French commander dAlbret. On the English side, On the frontline, a 600-man counterattack led French military had been broken on the ield.
the dukes of York and Suffolk had been killed, by the Counts of Marle and Fauquemberghes had Harleur was now an English-controlled town and
but Henry was still alive and so was his brother, been a disaster. This setback was the inal straw, would be an effective launching pad for Henrys
the Duke of Gloucester, who Henry had defended and the remaining French line withdrew. 8,000 second invasion of Normandy in 1417. Burgundy,
valiantly in the heat of battle. French (including one third of the nobility present meanwhile, still refused to strike a deal with
at the battle) had been killed while the English the House of Valois, as the French kingdoms
Failed encirclement dead only numbered in the low hundreds. Against enemies began to stack up.
Having witnessed the carnage, the decision was all the odds, the English had won the battle. Despite the gains, Henry sailed back to
made for Isambart dAgincourt and Robert de England after his nobles voiced fears over
Bournonville, men with local knowledge, to target Aftermath the possibility of a costly winter campaign.
the rear of Henrys army. It was here that French Ecstatic after their victory, the English broke into He returned to a heros welcome, and after a
prisoners the English had captured during their song, chanting early versions of the Agincourt few more years of successful campaigning,
invasion were located. A small force of peasant Carol and other traditional celebratory tunes. The would draw up the Treaty of Troyes in 1420,
ighters and knights quickly overwhelmed the series of French mistakes had proved fatal and recognising him as regent and heir to the French
limited English defenders and plundered the the location of the battle had essentially forfeited throne. The failures of Agincourt had made the
English camp, taking horses and even a royal their numerical advantage. If the full strength of French hesitant to ight pitched battles, which
crown in the process. the French cavalry had charged at the English, contributed to English victories at the 1416 Battle
Enraged, and also concerned at the possibility even the skilled longbowmen, who could ire up to of the Seine and the 1418 siege at Rouen.
of a mass French counterattack, Henry ordered six arrows a minute, and the courage of the men- Henrys French conquests were successful,
the killing of all his prisoners except only the at-arms wouldnt have been able to hold them off. but the strain on his kingdoms inances was
highest-ranking nobles. The English men-at-arms Henrys army sacked the French camp and beginning to tell and would eventually signal
refused, as this would clash with their chivalric stripped the dead of everything of worth as the beginning of the end for the Lancastrian
code, so the archers took on the job, killing them soldiers led in all directions. That night, the king monarchy in his later years.
in cold blood. There were more prisoners than held a banquet in nearby Maisoncelles, which was The king died in 1422, meaning he never
men in the whole English army, so this knee-jerk served by captured and now-humiliated French oficially became the king of France. After his
reaction was effective in nullifying any possibility knights. After the emotion of the victory had sudden death, English fortunes on the continent
of an uprising but severely lessened the died down, the weary men were unable to march took a turn for the worse, and when the Wars of
opportunities for ransom after the battle. on Paris, voicing concerns over a lack of siege the Roses broke out in England, the control of
weapons, and they withdrew back to the safety France slipped from the new teenage king Henry
Below: Unlike many of their counterparts, English men-at-
arms and knights fought on foot
of Calais on 29 October. Despite the unlikely VI. The famous victory at Agincourt was now in
Below, right: It is thought that Henry ordered a service of victory at Agincourt, minimal territory had been the past and the era of Joan of Arc and the return
thanksgiving on the battleield after the English victory gained and Charles VI was still in power, but the of French military power was at hand.

36
ROYAL STRATEGY
DR MATTHEW BENNETT DISCUSSES THE KINGS
COMMAND AND THE FRENCH HESITATION

D
r Matthew Bennett recently retired How did the long siege of Hareur affect
after a full career as senior lecturer Henrys objectives and plans?
at The Royal Military Academy The 12,000-strong English army landed in mid
Sandhurst. He is a Medieval military historian August and a month-long siege ensued. The
and contributed the battle account in the garrison was a bare 300 men, but the town of
catalogue for the Agincourt 600 exhibition Harleur was well fortiied by walls and 24 towers,
at the Tower of London. His publications together with ditches and a moat on the seaward
include Agincourt: Triumph Against The Odds side. Siege artillery, both gunpowder and traction,
(Osprey, 1991) and several specialist studies pounded the main gate, which was protected by Right: Dr
Matthew
of English archery tactics used in the Hundred a wooden bulwark. The unsanitary conditions of Bennett regularly
Years War. the siege lines caused an epidemic of dysentery, lectures about
which killed or incapacitated some 2,000 of the Medieval warfare
How did Henry Vs campaign plan in 1415 English, including its leaders. When Harleur
differ from Edward IIIs Crcy earlier campaign inally surrendered on 18 September, it seemed Did Henry ever consider cutting
in 1346? that Henrys plans had suffered a serious check. his losses and turning back? Were there any
There is no doubt that Henry was inspired by mutinies or desertions?
the achievements of his great-grandfather. What should we make of the story that Henry The sources do not really provide an answer.
Edward had invaded Normandy via the originally intended to march south to Bordeaux In the light of the stunning victory at Agincourt,
Cherbourg peninsula, sacked Caen and and Guyenne, and what would have happened any dissension may have been written out
advanced to just north of Paris, challenging had he done so? of the record. The churchman who wrote an
the French king to battle. He then withdrew The English Crown also held lands in Aquitaine, eyewitness account of the campaign, The Deeds
northwards to Poitou where he was victorious so marching south would have emphasised the Of Henry V, does admit that the soldiers were
at Crcy. The following year he besieged the link with these ancient possessions. However, it often uncertain and frightened. However, the
bridgehead port of Calais. In contrast, Henry was late in the year for campaigning and it would king kept strict discipline, enforcing regulations
landed at Harleur, in the mouth of the River have required signiicant logistical support. and hanging pillagers. Also, the risk of leaving
Seine, capturing it after a bitter siege and then Known as a chevauche, such expeditions could the army and being at the mercy of the enraged
marched to Calais. have a symbolic effect, but in the latter years French peasantry was probably greater than
of Edward IIIs reign, there had been several keeping together.
Was the planned expedition popular at court disastrous attempts of this nature. The French
and among the nobility? had learned not to confront English armies, but Why were the French, with a much larger army
Generally, the war against France, fought in to harry them and deny them provisions, so the and home advantage, so hesitant to engage
France, was desirable to the military aristocracy risk for Henry was too great. the English?
because it offered opportunities for glory, This is the key question. First, French strategy
plunder and lands. Richard IIs unpopular Why did Henry march on land to Calais rather remained non-confrontational. Second,
peace policy had been an important factor in than take a safer passage by sea? they hoped to wear the English down before
Henry Bolingbrokes 1399 usurpation. Young This was indeed the question that Henrys challenging battle. Third, it may be that they
Henry had proved his valour in his irst battle at chief advisers asked the king! They feared that did not actually have a huge advantage. This is
Shrewsbury in 1403, aged only 16, where he the English army would be caught like sheep certainly the argument of Professor Anne Curry
was wounded in the face by an arrow. As king, in fold as French forces combined against it. in her book Agincourt: A New History. Her study
Henry V won support from the nobility, but also The answer must be that Henry was making a of the English documentary records indicates
the inanciers of the City of London, and its lord statement about his right to march wherever he that the army may have been 9,000 strong.
mayor, Richard Whittington, who recognised a wanted in a country he claimed that he had the In contrast, France was in the midst of a civil
good investment. right to rule. He may also have contemplated war, with a mad king and rival Burgundian and
winning a decisive action against the French, as Armagnac factions. Their commanders were
Edward had done 69 years earlier. bitterly divided and it may be that all their forces
did not come up to ight. They had a greater
Were there any skirmishes with the French number of fully armoured men-at-arms, but their
en route to Agincourt? If so, were any of botched battle plan meant that they failed to
them signicant? utilise them effectively.
The French, who had not attempted to relive
Harleur, merely shadowed the English line What sort of condition was the English army in
of march when the army set out. They on the eve of Agincourt?
relied on blocking the bridges and fords The English set out with a weeks rations, but
of the River Somme. Faced with this had been on the road for 16 days. They had
Images: Alamy; Getty; Thinkstock

obstacle, Henry was forced to lead his subsisted on nuts, berries and dirty water.
men south east, away from the direct Anne Curry points out that although no source
route to Calais, and the English supplies states that they were suffering from diarrhoea,
soon ran out. He did manage to cross it seems likely. The archers are described
near Pronne, which was a weeks as rolling down their hose (leg coverings) to
march from his destination, but the the knee. This strongly suggests that their
French still avoided combat. bowels were running. They may well have been
weakened, but they were both desperate and
Left: An English Henry V halfpenny on the front. Henrys inspired by a charismatic leader, which was
campaign put a strain on the inances back in England enough to win the day.

37
WAR IN FOCUS

in

THE BATTLE OF SCHEVENINGEN


Painted 1808
Painted by Abrahamsz Beerstraten some 150 years after
the event, this depicts the decisive battle of the First
Anglo-Dutch War. After defeat off the coast of Suffolk
in June 1653, the Dutch leet had been forced back
into its port. Pursuing were over a hundred warships
under George Monck, which proceeded to blockade
the Dutch coastline and cripple the countrys
economy. On 31 July the Dutch leet attacked
the blockade, but the English leet
proved the victor, effectively
ending the war.

38
WAR IN FOCUS

39
Born into royalty, Gustavus
Adolphus reinvented
himself as an immensely
successful commander
who led from the front

40
THE LION WHO SMASHED AN EMPIRE

GUSTAVUS
ADOLPHUS
THE LION WHO
SMASHED AN EMPIRE
Both a king and an army general, Gustavus
Adolphus was a military game-changer, forging
an empire out of his beloved Sweden

T
he world of warfare owes a lot to warpath once again in the War of Spanish
Gustavus Adolphus. A pioneer of Succession. Rapid, mobile attacks embodied
innovative and original military tactics, the successful new approach.
combat was changed forever when he blazed Adolphus sparked a period known as the
his way south from Scandinavia midway through Golden Age of Sweden and dedicated his
the bloody conlict that was the Thirty Years life to the battleield, serving in his countrys
War. His death on the ields of Ltzenon 16 army from the age of 17 until his untimely
November 1632 shocked Europe after he had death aged just 37. Known as the Golden
changed the entire state of play in the war. King and the Lion of the North, the king
Considered by Napoleon and many modern witnessed and participated in a period of
military strategists as one of the greatest religious, political and economic turmoil in
generals of all time, his inluence can be seen Europe, and used it to his advantage. Not only
in formations and tactics for decades and even did he save the Protestant cause, he also
centuries after. For instance, John Churchill, made Sweden the third biggest nation on the
the Duke of Marlborough, was using the same continent and initiated the countrys period of
tactics 70 years on when Europe was on the Stormaktstiden (Great Power Era).

41
GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS

An artists impression
of Breitenfeld, where
Gustavus Adolphus
recorded his greatest
military victory

GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS: FROM KING IN


Born into Swedish royalty, Gustavus was the
eldest son of King Charles IX of the House of
Vasa. He was raised in a time of religious and

WAITING TO EUROPEAN CONQUEROR


political turmoil, when a Protestant Sweden
would play a huge role in the Reformation and
Counter-Reformation breaking out in central
Europe after the zealous Catholic Ferdinand II
acquired the throne of the Holy Roman Empire. HANDED THE THRONE AT THE TENDER AGE OF 16, GUSTAVUS
Upon his fathers death in 1611, the 16-year-
old Gustavus assumed command after beating
ADOLPHUS FACED ADVERSITY FROM THE START
Born in Stockholm on 9 December 1594, Gustavus Adolphus was
off competition from his cousin, Sigismund III,
the irst son of King Charles IX of Sweden and his wife Christina of
King of Poland, who had long desired power in Holstein-Gottorp. A keen student from a young age, he learned a
Sweden. The country was actually at war with number of languages and has been described as a ine writer and
Poland at the time and the new king had to be speaker who was physically strong and of a courageous nature.
watchful of his borders right from the start. This Protestantism had been introduced in Sweden by his grandfather
grounding as a king, a general and a warrior and educated into all classes, from peasants to nobles, by the time
would hold the young Adolphus in good stead the young prince became king.
for the rest of his life. Gustavus had already served in the military in both Russia and
Denmark before his fathers death in 1611. The 16-year-old came to
Forging Baltic alliances the throne in a time of turmoil in his native Sweden. His cousin
Before Sweden could engage itself in the holy Sigismund III of Poland desired the throne for himself and
war in central Europe, the long-standing feud put constant pressure on the young king. Worse still,
with Poland had to be settled. An intermittent Gustavus had to pick up the pieces of his fathers poor
conlict that had raged for decades, Gustavus relations with Denmark and Russia. He also had to
was left to pick up the pieces from his fathers solve the domestic issues and friction between the
past quarrels, which had also angered Russia aristocracy and people at the time. A nation under
and Denmark. Domestic and international threat from every direction, Adolphus still found
troubles ran through Sweden and the young time to marry Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg
in 1620. Despite having both domestic and
king had a task on his hands if he were to get
international disputes, the king managed to stay
the country off its knees and transform it into Popular with both the aristocracy and
the masses, as well as having good on the throne for 21 years in an era dominated
a great power. Adolphus moved swiftly and by the Thirty Years War, one of the deadliest
diplomatic skills, Adolphus was one
the dispute with Denmark was ended with the of the greatest leaders of his era conlicts of all time.
1613 Peace of Kanared. Sweden was forced

42
THE LION WHO SMASHED AN EMPIRE

THE GENIUS OF GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS


THE TACTICS AND STRATEGIES THAT MADE THE SWEDES THE MOST FEARED
ARMY OF THE THIRTY YEARS WAR
INFANTRY, ACCURACY Above: Longer than
CAVALRY AND AND SPEED an arquebus, a lighter
ARTILLERY Swedish musketeers musket was introduced
Gustavus Adolphus were renowned for TECHNICAL by the Swedes that still
packed the same punch
was one of the their accuracy, and CHANGES
irst to successfully the fast-moving The Swedish army of
combine the use Swedish infantry this era is attributed and musketeers
of the three parts frequently caught their with a number of would ire to clear
of a 17th-century opponents off-guard. inventions and the path for the
army effectively. By The other armies of developments paper cavalry, which would
using light, mobile Europe were still using bullet cartridges, then destroy the
artillery with lexible inlexible tercio and abolishing musket rests, remaining enemy.
formations, his pike-and-shot tactics, light mobile artillery
forces could unleash which were often too and volley ire as well as A NEW PIKE
surprise shock rigid and slow against administrative reforms AND SHOT
attacks with ease. Adolphuss troops. and an improvement of Unlike other
military logistics. leaders of the day,
Gustavus favoured
COMBINING FORCES whole regiments
All of the various of musketeers
Swedish regiments supported by a thin
complemented one wall of pikes. The
another in battle to pikemen protected
great effect. Prior to a the musketeers
cavalry charge, artillery while they picked off
enemy soldiers. Every
soldier was cross-
Left: Tactics developed by
trained to be able to
Gustavus Adolphus can
still be seen in use across use any weapon or
the world today irearm in battle.

The kings Sweden. With conidence from the start, the army landed in Peenemnde, Denmark, in the
Hjullskarbin (wheel- king could wield more power in his later wars. summer of 1630. It began its assault south,
lock carbine) from the war. A
smoothbore steel barrel, the Turning back to domestic issues, he pulled joined as allies of convenience with Christian
design was the irst type of self- off another masterstroke in the state, meeting IVs Danish forces, to turn the tide of the war.
igniting irearm ever invented the needs of both the aristocracy and the
people through a series of reforms that The Swedish surge south
to give up its only port in the North Sea, oversaw the creation of a supreme court, a The Swedish march south was swift. Capturing
lvsborg, as compensation for two years treasury and a war ofice. The irst central bank Brandenburg and other areas of northern
of war, but the nation now had one less in the world, Riksbanken was the brainchild Germany, the Swedish army was well equipped,
enemy on its doorstep. Poland was still a of Adolphus and stands to this day. Sweden fed and watered, and ready to push further
threat, however, and the only way to deter was modernising, and after the 1634 Form of south. A supply system, bolstered by a treaty of
Livrustkammaren(The Royal Armoury)/Jens Mohr/ CC BY-SA

Sigismund and his ifth columns attempts Government, it had a central administration no-conlict with the French signed by Cardinal
at seizing the Swedish throne was to ight more eficient than any other European country. Richelieu, turned the tables on Ferdinand IIs
them back with force. Vast immigration was one of Adolphuss Imperial Catholic armies as Adolphus set out his
In order to concentrate solely on Poland and greatest gifts to Sweden; swathes of experts stall. If Germany was protected, Sweden would
avoid engaging the Russian military, Adolphus boosted the nations intelligentsia and hordes be protected. By 1631, the majority of northern
made peace with Russia in 1617 under the of soldiers swelled its new-found military might.
Peace of Stolbova. A stunningly shrewd move, A devout Protestant from birth, the king
the treaty allowed Sweden to annex large areas
of modern-day Finland and Estonia. Now with
has come to be known as the Protector of
Protestantism by many. While battling Poland, WITH RUSSIA ALREADY OUT
no presence in the Baltic Sea, Russia could
not unleash its naval potential and Gustavuss
he always had one eye on the war in central
Europe. Hearing word of the Catholic Habsburg OF THE PICTURE, SWEDEN
deal inadvertently knocked the Russians out of
the forthcoming Thirty Years War. The treaty
armies sweeping through Protestant Germany,
he ended the long war with Poland in the 1629 CONTROLLED THE BALTIC AND
also helped the Swedes focus on Poland as
they captured the key cities of Riga, Memel,
Treaty of Altmark. With Russia already out of
the picture, Sweden controlled the Baltic and WAS READY TO RISE AGAINST
Pillau and Elbing in Polish Prussia. Adolphuss
excellent foreign policy also prevented Poland
was ready to rise against the renewed growth of
Catholicism in Europe. THE RENEWED GROWTH OF
from taking the Russian throne and increased
his stock signiicantly with the nobles in
The Counter-Reformation didnt see the
Lion of the North coming, as his 4,000-strong CATHOLICISM IN EUROPE
43
GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS

THE BATTLE OF BREITENFELD


and central Germany was under Gustavuss
control. The Swedish kings ultimate plan was
to establish a Corpus Evangelicorum (Protestant
League) to rival the Catholic version, with himself

17 SEPTEMBER 1631
at the helm as military and political director.
The leaders of the protestant German states
were far too ineffectual to become heads of the
Protestant League themselves, but Adolphus
had to tread carefully if he pushed his desire
for a league too far, it could be interpreted as a
push for the crown of the Holy Roman Empire,
MORE THAN 50,000 TROOPS LINED UP ON THE BATTLEFIELD AS ADOLPHUS
which would alienate him from his new allies MET HIS GREATEST TEST OF THE WAR SO FAR
John George of Saxony and George William of The Battle of Breitenfeld was a he preached, Gustavus Adolphus completely
Brandenburg. Their alliance was key if they military masterclass. Burdened with outmanoeuvred the static Imperial line and, in
joined the Catholics in favour of Pan-Germanism, an inexperienced Saxon division, the one of the wars boldest moves, turned their
the Swedes would have to ight two forces, and Swedes and their king were up against own artillery against them. The battle was won
that would have been too much even for the an all-conquering Imperial Army led by and Leipzig, as well as the road to Bavaria, was
master tactician Adolphus. an experienced commander Johann there for the taking. Gustavus Adolphus had
Taking the crown of the Holy Roman Empire Tserclaes, Count of Tilly. By practising what become the most powerful man in Germany.
wasnt on the kings agenda. Religion was
everything to the man and was over and above
politics and personal gain. Stories from the
era describe Gustavus insisting on regular
prayer sessions in the military. He didnt allow
any profanity in the ranks and his speech was
illed with quotations from holy texts. Despite
his dedication to his faith, Adolphus was a
pragmatic negotiator and struck a good deal
with many leaders, even the Catholic Richelieu.
Away from religion, the warrior king wasnt
just an astute tactician, he could often be seen
with his men digging trenches and building
fortiications in the frontline. He didnt shy away
from disciplining his soldiers though. In his
famous articles of war, or Swedish Discipline
Of 1632, it is noted that falling asleep, being
drunk on duty or blasphemy was punishable
by death. He also prevented his soldiers from
stealing produce in the areas theyd invaded
and forced them to pay the locals for it.
His dedication to the cause also put him
in the line of ire and he picked up many
Livrustkammaren(The Royal Armoury)/Gran Schmidt/ CC BY-SA

injuries on the battleield. A musketball


was lodged in his neck near the spine and
because of the pain he didnt wear the
customary two-part metal cuirass, favouring
lexible leather armour instead. Of course,
this didnt stop him from taking to the frontline
time and again.
Meanwhile, the Catholics were still pillaging
and plundering their way through Protestant

Right: Gustavus Adolphuss


steed from the Battle of
Ltzen has been stuffed
and put on display in the
Livrustkammaren (Royal
Armoury) in Stockholm
THE LION WHO SMASHED AN EMPIRE

TILLYS OVERCONFIDENCE 01 First strikes


Artillery bombardments begin the battle 04 Artillery capture
Tillys overconidence after routing the

AFTER ROUTING THE SAXONS but the conlict soon changes as the Imperial
cavalry rush at the Swedish-Saxon lines. The Black
Saxons leaves his artillery battery unprotected.
The Swedish cavalry capture the defenceless

LEAVES HIS ARTILLERY Cuirassiers are driven back by the steadfast Swedes
but break through against the inexperienced Saxons.
cannons and turn them to ire on the rear of
the Imperial infantry.

BATTERY UNPROTECTED. 02 Building on early successes


Reeling after the cavalry charge, the Saxons 05 Massacre on two fronts
After being unable to break through Horns
THE SWEDISH CAVALRY are already in retreat. Tilly capitalises on this
weakness and directs his troops to the vulnerable
line, Tillys Imperial troops are attacked from all
directions for a number of hours until they are

CAPTURE THE DEFENCELESS left side of the Protestant lanks. forced into a hurried retreat.

CANNONS AND TURN THEM 03 Gustavuss response


Watching the Saxons lee doesnt shake 06 Retreat to Leipzig
Only four Imperial regiments make it back

TO FIRE ON THE REAR OF THE the Swedish resolve as second in command Gustav
Horn rides to meet the Imperial threat. Meanwhile,
to the safety of Leipzig as soldiers, equipment and
weapons are left strewn across the battleield.

IMPERIAL INFANTRY Gustavus leads his cavalry to attack the opposite


(left) lank of the Catholics.
Tactical genius has prevailed and the Swedes are
now a force to be reckoned with in war-torn Europe.

IMPERIAL
JOHANN TSERCLAES, COUNT OF TILLY
GOTTFRIED HEINRICH GRAF ZU PAPPENHEIM
EGON VIII OFFRSTENBERG-HEILIGENBERG
21,400 INFANTRY
10,000 CAVALRY
27 GUNS
VS
SWEDESGUSTAVUS
& SAXONS
ADOLPHUS
JOHANN GEORG
GUSTAV HORN
JOHAN BANER
27,800 INFANTRY
13,200 CAVALRY
75 GUNS
CASUALTIES
SWEDES AND SAXONS
3,000 (7%)
IMPERIAL
13,000 (41%)
Acute Graphics

45
GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS

THE SOLDIERS FIREARM EXPERTISE


The Swedish musketeers used

OF GUSTAVUS a combination of muskets and


arquebuses on the battlefield.
They were so well trained that

ADOLPHUSS ARMY
they could reload up to three
times faster than their enemies.

THE SWEDISH ARMY WAS MADE


UP OF INFANTRY, CAVALRY
AND ARTILLERY TO FORM AN FIREARM
EFFECTIVE AND COHESIVE TECHNOLOGY
FIGHTING FORCE The Swedes developed a
lighter musket so they did
Gustavus Adolphuss reign not use a rest. Imperial
centred on the military, armies used square
so much so that ive formations but Swedish
sevenths of the musketeers lined up
countrys budget alongside a protective
went on the wall of pikemen.
armed forces.
This was paid
for by heavy
taxation, but
the people
were happy
to part with
their money,
as the House HOLDING RANK
of Vasa was Using a smaller and thinner line than their
consistently adversaries, the Swedish musketeers
popular during were instructed to fire in consistent
his reign. volleys. This could break an enemy cavalry
charge and the tactic was used in both
attack and defence.

CONSCRIPTION
The Swedish armies of the Thirty Years
War were conscripted. Every tenth man
was taken for military service with 40,000
ARMOUR Swedes fighting in the war alongside the
Swedish troops were more lightly same amount of mercenaries.
armoured than the majority of other
soldiers to fit in with Adolphuss
strategy of quick and mobile attacks.

ADOLPHUS REASONED
THAT THE IDEA OF STATIC
LINES BASED ON DEFENCE
WAS DATED, AND INSTEAD A
TRIPLE SALVO OF INFANTRY,
CROSS TRAINING
Every one of Adolphuss troops was CAVALRY AND ARTILLERY
trained to wield all weapons. If a
musketeer was disarmed he could WOULD BE TOO MUCH FOR
pick up a pike and continue the
battle and vice-versa. THE ENEMY TO HANDLE

46
THE LION WHO SMASHED AN EMPIRE

Europe under the leadership of Johann

THE LION ROARS


Tserclaes, Count of Tilly. The siege and
subsequent burning of Magdeburg, an historical
centre of the Protestant faith, aggravated
the Protestant cause. Tilly and his followers 6

THROUGH EUROPE
had killed 20,000 civilians, who perished in STOCKHOLM
the sieges inferno, during the devastating
raid. In response, the Swedes took Berlin and
Meckenburg after being bolstered by new Dutch
recruits. Many now saw Adolphus as the master
of Germany, but he had not yet faced off
against Tilly and the Imperial Army. This would FROM STOCKHOLM TO LTZEN:
soon change on the ields of Breitenfeld.
THE ROUTE OF THE SWEDES
The Battle of Breitenfeld
Throughout the campaign, the Swedes sought
THROUGH EUROPE
the alliance of the Saxon army to boost their
numbers. Led by John George of Saxony, they
were initially reluctant to join the cause but
changed their minds after Tilly and his Imperial 1
troops continued to pillage their lands. 18,000 PEENEMNDE
Saxons took up arms and joined 24,000
Swedes and mercenaries on the battleield
against nearly 35,000 Catholics.
Breitenfeld was the ideal opportunity for
Adolphus to put his innovative tactics to use. BERLIN
After rigorous study of battle formations, he
reasoned that the idea of static lines based 2
on defence was dated, and instead a triple BATTLE OF BREITENFELD
17.09.1631
salvo of infantry, cavalry and artillery would be
too much for the enemy to handle. The kings LEIPZIG
strategy was simple attack, attack, attack. As 4
only 20 per cent of his forces were Swedish, he BATTLE OF LTZEN
had to ensure that his mercenaries were well 16.11.1632
FRANKFURT
drilled in the strategies that he promoted. PRAGUE
Tilly, meanwhile, had plans of his own. 3
Identifying the Saxons as the weak link of the WRZBURG
Protestant forces, he launched the full fury of
his Black Cuirassiers at John Georges lines.
5
BATTLE OF NRDLINGEN
This proved to be an excellent decision, as the 05.09.1634 REGENSBURG
VIENNA
poorly organised soldiers from Saxony were
easily crushed. On the other lank, the Swedes MUNICH
stood irm against the onslaught and, as more
Imperial troops poured into the gap left by
the Saxons, a small force managed to break
through the Catholic defences. The battle was
at a crucial point. Could Adolphuss troops
THE BATTLE OF
make enough progress on the right lank before
Tillys forces on the opposite side struck the
BREITENFELD IS THE
remainder of his divisions with their full force?
The Swedes battled hard and made their
FIRST MAJOR TEST
way forward, eventually capturing the now
sparsely defended Imperial artillery pieces.
FOR THE SWEDES
While the rest of the Swedes held their lines,
the full force of the enemy artillery was turned 01 PEENEMNDE 04 LTZEN 16 NOVEMBER 1632
on their former masters. This created an expert Arriving in June 1630, 4,000 Swedes land and After a series of victories, the Swedes meet the
pincer movement, with the Imperial troops, who swiftly make alliances with the local militia to Catholic League once again at Ltzen. Despite
were initially in the ascendency but fell foul to attract mercenaries and bolster their ranks. emerging victorious, their king falls on the battleield
their slow tercio formation, caught in a brutal and the Swedish war effort begins to falter.
crossire, with cannon ire blasting them from 02 BREITENFELD 17TH SEPTEMBER 1631
one side and cold steel taking them down on The Battle of Breitenfeld is the irst major test for 05 NRDLINGEN 5 SEPTEMBER 1634
the other. The battle was lost for the Imperial the Swedes against the strong Imperial Army led Now under the leadership of Gustav Horn, the
and Catholic armies as Tilly made a hasty by the Count of Tilly. The result is an emphatic Swedish army has an unfocused few years on
escape. In victory, Adolphus dished out lands to victory for Adolphus, who utilises his innovative the continent with both victories and defeats.
allied generals to further extinguish the notion tactics to devastating effect. Their conquest comes to an end with a shattering
that his power was becoming too great. defeat at Nrdlingen.
03 FIGHTING THROUGH GERMANY
Conquering the cities of Bavaria For the next year, Gustavus Adolphus achieves 06 STOCKHOLM
After Breitenfeld, Adolphus and the Swedish a period of great success taking the cities of Jaded by contest ighting and in particular the
army wasted no time and were on the march Munich, Augsburg, Wrzburg and Bamberg. The bloody battle of Jankov, the Swedes retreat home
once again, with Bavaria now their target. Swedes are later forced to turn back on the road as the war comes to an end. Sweden will now
Tilly was inally defeated at the Battle of Lech to Vienna to help their Saxon allies. enjoy a century of control in the Baltic.
in April 1632, a decisive Swedish victory.

47
GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS

PROTESTANTS
GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS
BERNHARD OF SAXE-WEIMAR
THE BATTLE OF LTZEN
16 NOVEMBER 1632
DODO KNYPHAUSEN
MORE THAN A YEAR ON FROM BREITENFELD AND THE
12,800 INFANTRY IMPERIAL ARMY HAD RETURNED, HUNGRY FOR REVENGE
6,200 CAVALRY
60 GUNS

As the winter of 1632 reached its coldest stages, the Catholic forces led by
Albrecht von Wallenstein decided to conclude operations for the year to shelter
from the cold. This tactic was never on the mind of Adolphus, who engaged the
full Catholic force. The Swedes initially gained the upper hand but hit a snag
when more than 2,000 reinforcements led by Imperial Field Marshal Pappenheim Gustavus always
stemmed the tide. Gustavus led a risky charge into the fray at about 1pm and fought on the frontline
paid for it with his life. As their king was struck down, the Swedish forces rallied with his men, but at
to victory but after the battle was over, they mourned their lost leader. Ltzen the kings luck
inally ran out

The great Imperial leader was wounded Bamberg, Wrzburg, Munich and Augsburg. military successes kept coming. Ltzen would
by a cannonball blow and did not recover, The Saxons continued the series of Protestant change all that.
succumbing to his wounds ten days takeovers when they marched into Prague. Tilly may have been a distant memory, but
later. The Catholic League had lost The Swedes were seemingly unstoppable, the Holy Roman Empire had a new hero it could
one its most experienced generals but it was here that the march south began rely on: a Bohemian statesman by the name of
and the momentum was now to run out of steam. After failing to take Albrecht von Wallenstein. Having inally proved
with Gustavus, who duly Regensburg, King Adolphus received word that his worth to Ferdinand II after a series of
took a number of cities his Saxon allies had been defeated and driven missteps, Wallenstein was now the undisputed
and towns including out of Prague. He had no choice but to drive leader of the empires armies and would face
back north, postponing his march to Vienna. off against the Swedes in November 1632 at
The muddied and The Saxons and John George needed aid, as the Battle of Ltzen.
torn shirt worn the Swedes could not risk their allies being
by Gustavus routed, or worse, joining the Catholic cause. The road to Ltzen
Armoury)/Gran Schmidt/ CC BY-SA

Adolphus
during the
It was also at this time that the ever- The once unbeatable Swedish Army was not
Battle of conident Adolphus released his plans for two in the best of places in the inal months of
Livrustkammaren(The Royal

Ltzen new Protestant Leagues: the Corpus Bellicum, 1632. A failed attack on the fortiied camp Alte
which would be responsible for military affairs, Feste resulted in many of the mercenaries in
and the Corpus Evangelicorum, which would the Swedish force abandoning the army. With
handle civil administration. If successful, this the Swedes reeling from and re-evaluating the
would conirm the security of Protestant states desertion, Wallenstein marched into Saxony
on German lands for the foreseeable future. and captured Leipzig with no resistance. The
It would also allow Sweden to retain the lands attack and occupation of the city was designed
it had so painstakingly conquered over the for one reason and one reason alone to
years of the war, but this could only work if the provoke the Swedish into raising arms. A war
THE LION WHO SMASHED AN EMPIRE

the Protestants were led by Bernhard of Saxe- 1648. The king had no male heir so his daughter,

CATHOLICS Weimar and scored a valuable victory as the


Sun set. However, with their charismatic leader
now gone and 15,000 of their own dead in the
Christina, ruled after his death, becoming the
inal monarch from the House of Vasa.
Regarded by many as the archetypal king, he
ALBRECHT VON WALLENSTEIN dirt, for the Swedes it was a hollow victory. is remembered fondly in his home country, with
GOTTFRIED ZU PAPPENHEIM Legacy of the lion
Gustavus Adolphus Day celebrated every year
on the date of his death. Adolphus undoubtedly
HEINRICH HOLCK Gustavus Adolphus died that winters day as a altered the course of European history and every

13,000 INFANTRY man still chasing the inal victory to which he


had dedicated his life. Nonetheless, spurred on
military general that came after respects the
impact he had on warfare.

9,000 CAVALRY
by the grace of God, he had secured the borders
of his country, spread his faith throughout
Europe and redeined military doctrine.

24 GUNS

Livrustkammaren(The Royal Armoury)/ CC BY-SA


Without the Lion of the North, the Swedish
cause in Europe soon dissipated and the war
effort faltered. The ighting went on for 16
more years but the Swedes in particular never
regained their focus, and after a disastrous
loss at Nrdlingen in 1634, lost all momentum.
Adolphuss deputy, Gustav
Horn, assumed joint
leadership of the army
but made a huge
tactical error at
Nrdlingen and was
captured. Leaderless
again, the Swedes
fought on until the war
came to an end with the
Peace of Westphalia in

Right: Clothing worn by Adolphus at Ltzen gives clues


to how he fell. A bullet hole is visible on the right of his
chest and there are also slash and stab marks

AFTERMATH AND LEGACY


HOW MUCH DID THE LION OF THE NORTH CHANGE THE STATE OF PLAY IN EUROPE?
Despite Adolphuss passing, Sweden lourished In later centuries, genius tacticians and
in the years after the war. The country was the students of warfare, such as Napoleon and Carl
most dominant power in the Baltic right up until von Clausewitz not only paid testament to the
the Great Northern War in the early 18th century, Swedish kings innovations, but openly adopted
when a resurgent Russia under the leadership of them in their own campaigns.
Peter the Great began to dominate the region. The memory of Gustavus Adolphus lives
In the immediate years after the Thirty Years on today with his strategies taught in military
War, the Heilbronn League was set up to protect science courses and his idea of cross-training
Protestant interests in northern Germany. still evident in todays militaries across the world.
of manoeuvre began with both armies tracking Gustavus had always dreamed of a Protestant The expansion of Sweden under their warrior king
each other for weeks. Eventually, the Swedes coalition to rival the Catholic League, so, even in opened its eyes to a world outside the Baltic and
spotted their enemy in the ields near Ltzen, death, this was a great victory for him and his helped develop the country into what it is today,
about 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) south west of fellow protestants. economically, socially and politically.
the city limits of Leipzig. There was a chance
for a surprise attack, but the Swedes missed Gustavus would lead
his troops in prayer
this window of opportunity as the cold mist of
before every battle
the winter morning dispersed rapidly to reveal a
layer of golden sunshine on the battleield.
Now on equal footing, the battle took place
and raged iercely all day and into the night.
It was in this battle that the mighty Gustavus
Adolphus would meet his end. A general who
couldnt help but keep away from the melee
of the frontline, the king was leading a cavalry
charge on the right lank when he became
separated from his men. In the resulting brawl,
he was temporarily blinded by gunpowder
smoke and hit by a hail of gunire. His fate was
unknown until his horse emerged, riderless,
from the fray. Word spread like wildire through
the ranks and the loss incensed the Swedes,
Corbis

who piled into the Imperial Army with a desire


to avenge their fallen leader. Without Adolphus,

49
Great Battles

BATTLE OF NASEBY
Parliaments New
Model Army wins the
day during the decisive
removal of MPs from their military commands
and their replacement with experienced,
dedicated soldiers. The Self-denying Ordinance,
as it was known, carried the notable exception of
Oliver Cromwell, who had proved his own martial
excellence at Marston Moor during the previous
besiege King Charless capital city of Oxford,
and though Fairfax lacked the manpower and
irepower to take the city outright, the move
allowed the New Models scattered regiments
to unite into one army and would, Parliament
hoped, lure the king into battle as he moved to
encounter of the year and was permitted to retain his seat in Oxfords relief.
the Commons while also taking the position of
English Civil War lieutenant general within the new structure. This painting depicts
the moment when
The new system saw Parliament merge
the Earl of Carnwath

T
hough Englishman continued to ight several existing armies into one centrally discourages the king
Englishman in the ield and at siege controlled unit consisting of ten regiments from committing his
throughout the course of the year, by of cavalry, 12 of infantry and a regiment of reserve to the fray
mid-summer 1645 the outcome of the civil dragoons. This new force, numbering
war was no longer in doubt. The Royalists and more than 20,000 men, came to
Parliamentarians met in battle on Saturday 14 be known as the New Model Army.
June at Naseby parish in Northamptonshire and It was placed under the command
the decisive blow was struck. of Sir Thomas Fairfax and by the end of
The Roundhead victory was precipitated by April it was ready to start what Parliament
a move to reform its martial structure, which hoped would prove a conclusive campaign.
gathered pace early in the year following the During May, the New Model was ordered to

50
BATTLE OF NASEBY

NASEBY VILLAGE, NORTHAMPTONSHIRE, ENGLAND SATURDAY 14 JUNE 1645


WHO WHAT WHERE WHEN WHY OUTCOME
Parliament takes The newly formed New The armies Saturday 14 With the civil war dragging on, Though boasting many superior
on King Charles I in Model Army cuts it teeth meet near June 1645. Parliament is keen to execute regiments, the Royalists succumb to the
the First Civil Wars in battle with the kings Naseby village in a decisive end to hostilities by New Model Armys greater numbers and,
pivotal engagement. experienced Oxford Army. Northamptonshire. forcing the king into battle. most significantly, its superior leadership.

51
GREAT BATTLES

Both armies cavalry forces


met upon the wings before
Cromwell launched his men
IRETON THEN HAD HIS HORSE SHOT
against the Royalist infantry
FROM BENEATH HIM AND SUFFERED A PIKE
WOUND TO THE TORSO AND A HALBERD
SLASH TO HIS FACE, BEFORE BEING
CAPTURED BY ROYALIST TROOPS

52
BATTLE OF NASEBY

At this time, the king was campaigning in While suffering casualties from the heavy
Cheshire with his experienced Oxford Army
and he responded to the siege of his capital OPPOSING FORCES musket ire, Rupert and Maurices cavalry
charged uphill to meet Iretons on the
by moving south, sacking the Parliamentarian Parliamentarian left. Here, the Royalist charge
stronghold of Leicester. Though this caused THE KING PARLIAMENT proved a success in part, with the extreme left
uproar in London, Parliaments strategy had LEADERS LEADERS of Iretons force buckling under the onslaught
worked the king had moved south. Fairfax King Charles I, Prince Sir Thomas Fairfax, Oliver and losing several of their guns. Their leader,
Rupert, Prince Maurice, Cromwell, Henry Ireton,
lifted the siege of Oxford and marched Colonel John Butler, also suffered serious
Sir Langdale, Lord Astley Philip Skippon
northwards in a bid to bring the king to battle. wounds. The dragoons, however, continued to
INFANTRY INFANTRY
Scattered skirmishes on 12 and 13 June 6,000 7,000
pepper the Royalist cavalry and Okey wrote:
notiied the king of Fairfaxs close proximity and CAVALRY CAVALRY Had not we by Gods providence been there,
Charles, ignoring advice to move north, turned 5,500 8,000, including a regiment there had been but few of Colonel Butlers
to offer battle with his numerically inferior, GAME CHANGERS of dragoons regiment left.
though battle-hardened, force. Prince Ruperts cavalier GAME CHANGERS On the battleields western lip, the
After scouting the countryside and jockeying horsemen had many Cromwells mounted Ironsides Parliamentarians managed to contain the
for position, the armies deployed during the experienced warriors were well-disciplined and Royalist charge, though Ireton then made a
morning of 14 June on an elevated plateau among its ranks vigorous horsemen critical error. Believing that his men had fully
crisscrossed by small hills and vales; much of Sources differ wildly on the numbers involved and even modern stemmed the Royalist surge, he switched his
the area was unenclosed and therefore ideal historians disagree. The igures cited are research-based estimates. attention to the infantry battle unfolding on his
for a showdown. The Roundheads formed up right, in the centre of the two armies, leading
north of Naseby village atop Mill Hill his own unit of cavalry to the relief of Skippons
and upon its northern slope, while POT HELMET infantry, which was being hard pressed by the
the Royalists deployed about a mile Three bars crossing the Royalist infantry advance.
further north on the south-facing face were designed to Ireton then had his horse shot from beneath
slope of Dust Hill. A shallow valley delect sword strokes. him and suffered a pike wound to the torso
called Broad Moor ran between the and a halberd slash to his face, before being
two positions with a parish boundary, known captured by Royalist troops. He was able to
as Sulby Hedge, running along the battleields escape, but Rupert and Maurice had by then
western rim. broken through the Parliamentarian left wing,
much of which began to
The battle begins CUIRASS retreat from the battleield.
The armies formed in conventional array, with Each plate would be The Royalist cavalry then
the infantry placed centrally and the cavalry shot with a pistol, to test continued forward, pursuing
massing on the wings. its strength. Iretons leeing men and
Major-General Lord Astley COAT charging on to attack the
commanded the Royalist Troopers often wore battle train at the Roundhead rear. It is thought
infantry in the centre, and simple woolen coats by some that part of the Royalist cavalry
Sir Marmaduke Langdale under armour. looked to attack the New Model infantry but,
took command of the inding the throng so impenetrable, moved
cavalry on the armys left. The cavalry on the on. As at the Battle of Edgehill, the irst major
right were placed under Prince Maurice, though engagement in the civil war, vital Royalist
his elder brother and military superior the cavalry units left the main battleield at a
young gallant Prince Rupert moved with crucial moment.
him, positioning squads of musketeers
among his cavalry units. The Royalist success
The Parliamentarian infantry, At the outset, the Royalist infantry fared
meanwhile, came under the control well, with Astleys three infantry brigades
of Major-General Skippon, while engaging Skippons eight regiments and
Commissary-General Ireton commanded each side exchanging just a single volley
the cavalry on the Roundhead left, of ire before coming together with
and Cromwells formidable troop of pikes and irearms, which they wielded
horsemen took the right. A forlorn as clubs. Though the Parliamentarian
hope of 300 musketeers stood in front infantry outnumbered the Royalists, the latter
of the army to counter any early Royalist were more experienced and had surprised
movements, though they were ordered to Skippons men with the speed of their assault.
withdraw if placed in peril. Furthermore, the Roundhead guns and
How they fared in the battle muskets had mostly ired too high from their
remains unknown. The
SABRE elevated position on the slopes of Mill Hill,
As well as firearms,
reserves and the baggage mounted troops carried and had therefore failed to check the progress
trains took their positions in swords for close combat. of the Royalist surge.
the rear of each army. During the charge, Skippon took a musket
The opening move came ball in the chest, shot through the right side
on the Parliamentarian left at the battleields under the ribs, through armour and coat, but
western edge, where the New Models regiment not mortal, according to one account. With
of dragoons (musket-armed horsemen) under no second-in-command to relay his orders, the
the leadership of Colonel John Okey scurried New Model infantry suffered confusion and
forward to take advanced positions along Sulby a diminishing morale. The Royalists, wasting
Hedge so that they could ire into the lanks no time upon seeing this, pressed home their
of the cavalry stationed on the Royalist advantage. Parliaments army began to waiver,
right. Not long afterwards, at about with a section of the front line dissolving and
10am, the Royalist army began its falling back, some parts in chaos. At this
advance, perhaps nudged into action by stage, the Royalists looked set for a
Okeys dragoons iring into their lank. possible victory.

53
GREAT BATTLES

It was now that the New Models commander-


in-chief, General Fairfax, justiied his position.
Observing that Skippons infantry units were
Great Battles
faltering, he committed to the fray three
regiments from his reserve, and at the same

BATTLE OF NASEBY
time the second line of Parliamentarian
infantry seemed to stabilise its position. The
numerically inferior Royalists had failed to
make the breakthrough and now fought within a
wedge jammed into their enemys front.

14 JUNE 1645
On the Royalist left, meanwhile, Langdales
Northern Horse had earlier moved to engage
Cromwells cavalry on the Parliamentarian right.
Charging uphill with their ranks broken by thick
gorse and a sprawling set of rabbit warrens, the
Royalist cavalry were here at a disadvantage
and Cromwell unleashed the left wing of his
Ironsides upon them.
The battle was ierce and the two sides
fought in a constrained space, lanked by the
warrens and gorse, which hampered easy
movement. Cromwells men here gained the
upper hand and pushed back the Northern
Horse, who turned and retired, seeking the
help of one of the Royalist reserve units, Prince
07 The king ees
the eld
Though Charles has a
Ruperts infantry regiment, the Bluecoats. One sizeable reserve, only Prince
of the Royalists own accounts claimed that Ruperts Bluecoats are
the Northern Horse was routed without any committed and, though
handsome dispute. sources claim the king tried
to lead his men into battle,
The tide turns he is dissuaded and the
The conined space in this area of the Royalist commander and his
battleield continued to play to Cromwells Lifeguards lee the ield.
advantage, preventing the right wing of his
cavalry from charging off after the retiring
cavaliers. This allowed Cromwell to hold much
of his force in check and to then wheel them
round and launch an assault on the left lank
of the Royalist infantry, while the remainder
pursued the remnants of Langdales leeing
cavalry. As at Marston Moor, Cromwell brought
his cavalry to bear against Royalist infantry and
helped win the day.
Back in the centre, the infantry battle raged
on. The ferocity of the Royalist assault had
been checked and the tide began to turn
with Astleys men feeling the pressure of the
enemys greater numbers. As the Royalist front
line began to gradually disintegrate, Astleys
second line regrouped on Broad Moor to stand
against the New Model infantry.
Also regrouping, the New Model Army was
now boosted by their reserve units, as well as
by the survivors from Iretons left-hand wing,
including Okeys dragoons, who had charged
the right of the Royalist infantry, lanking them
entirely. At this stage, it seemed the die-hard
Bluecoats had also entered the melee from the
Royalist reserve.
Below: A 17th-
century dragoons
helmet

02 The princes charge


Provoked perhaps by
Okeys musketry, the Royalist
cavalry with Princes Rupert and
Maurice move forward and engage
the Parliamentarian cavalry under
Iretons command.

54
BATTLE OF NASEBY

05 Ruperts cavaliers charge


the baggage train
Having broken through Iretons
cavalry but unable to move freely
against the Roundhead infantry, the
Royalist cavalry leaves the main
battle to attack the baggage train,
where they meet stiff resistance.

06 The tide turns


The Parliamentarian
reserves bolster their lagging
centre and begin to push
the tiring Royalist infantry
back. Theyre supported by
Cromwells cavalry, which
engages the Royalist left,
and by the survivors of
Iretons troops, who assail the
Royalist right.

03 The infantry engage


At about 11am, the
Royalist infantry moves against
the New Model infantry and enjoys
some early success, the terrain
concentrating their assault against
the Parliamentarian centre.

01 The hostilities commence


At about 9.30am, Cromwell
orders Colonel Okey to move his men
up behind Sulby Hedges, the dragoons
dismount and ire their muskets into

04 Northern Horse vs Ironsides


Possibly before the infantry
engaged, Langdales Royalist cavalry
the lank of the Royalist horse.

moves against Cromwells, but by about


11.30am the left of the Parliamentarian
front line forces them back. This frees up
Ed Crooks

Cromwell to move against the left lank of


the Royalist infantry.

55
GREAT BATTLES

King Charles and his Lifeguards fled the ield


once his infantry units began their surrender

It is thought that Fairfax had own journal claims that he had returned to the
been on the move throughout the king as the cavalry engagement continued, but
combat, ighting with Cromwells whatever the truth, he was unable to further
men against the Northern Horse, inluence the battle in a positive manner. As to
in which the General charged why the king had failed to commit his reserve
valiantly and lost his headpiece, of cavalry which may have numbered up to
and then charged bareheaded 1,000 men, including his Lifeguards, and could
within push of pike, perhaps have engaged Cromwells Ironsides
according to one witness. He before they smashed into his infantry the
encouraged his Lifeguard to sources give a reasonable account.
assault an unbroken body of According to the kings adviser, Sir Edward
Royalist infantry, most likely Walker, Charles was set to lead his reserve into
the Bluecoats, who received battle, but matters were thrown into disarray
glowing tributes even from when the Earl of Carnwath grabbed the kings
Parliamentarian sources, horse by the bridle, concerned by such reckless
such was their courage and courage, and asked: Will you go upon your
vigour. And yet the New Model death? This movement towards the kings horse
Armys superior numbers is thought to have turned the beast around, which
began to tell, and the Royalist led the troopers to believe that they were being
infantry were suffering battle wheeled away from the battle, and they turned
fatigue. Troops started to surrender, about and ran on the spur almost quarter of a
encouraged by the promise of mile, though some are thought to have returned
clemency, and they were soon dropping in a bid to engage the enemy.
their arms in droves. Okeys dragoons are said
to have taken 500 prisoners alone. The Royalist surrender
The victorious cavalry on the Royalist right, Back on Broad Moor, the beleaguered Royalist
Above: Falconet cannons like
having sought plunder among the enemys infantry continued their surrender, though the
this one would have been used baggage train, returned to the main combat too archaeological evidence, if not the written
by both sides at the battle late to make a positive impact. Prince Ruperts sources, suggests that another large-scale and

56
BATTLE OF NASEBY

THOUGH THE EXECUTION OF A MONARCH


APPALLED MANY PARLIAMENTARIANS, THE KING
WAS EVENTUALLY SENTENCED TO DEATH

The battle site at Naseby is marked


by small hills and vales and was
largely unenclosed at the time

This painting by Charles Landseer depicts


Cromwell reading a letter found in
Charless cabinet after the battle

bloody encounter took place two miles north, quite lightly, with relatively few fatalities on the scattered across the British Isles, while a
atop and around Wadborough Hill, where metal battleield. The battle was over not long past pro-Royalist army held the upper hand in
detectors have found a sizeable concentration noon, and the Parliamentarian commissioners Scotland. He hoped for further support from
of musket shot. Some historians have argued in attendance with the New Model Army across the Irish Sea, yet nothing came of the
that the Royalist infantry posted to guard the reported that about 600 Royalists perished negotiations with the Irish and his supporters
baggage train and ammunition might have that day and 200 Roundheads, though modern north of the border were soon heavily
fallen back to this position during the closing estimates put the Royalist loss somewhere in defeated in September.
stages of combat, but others point out that the vicinity of 1,000. In England, the king found recruitment
the vast concentration of metallic objects dificult in the aftermath of Naseby. The New
suggests a fray involving far greater numbers. The aftermath Model Army mopped up pockets of resistance,
Whatever the case, the Royalist forces Somewhere in the region of 5,000 Royalist and Oxford and Bristol fell. In May of the
were now on the run and their baggage train prisoners were taken, maybe more, mostly from following year, the king surrendered to the
and camp followers were left exposed. The the infantry units. This was an almighty blow Scots, who handed him over to Parliament.
Parliamentarian troops set about slaying or to the kings cause, as was the loss of arms He briely escaped, but was swiftly recaptured
mutilating a number of women, which included and, vitally, ammunition. The manufacture of and sent to London to be tried as a tyrant,
soldiers wives as well as prostitutes. The gunpowder required saltpetre and sulphur, both traitor, murderer and public enemy to the
Irish women that Prince Rupert brought upon of which were mostly imported from overseas, commonwealth of England.
the ield, wrote Fairfaxs secretary, our and the Roundheads controlled the majority Though the execution of a monarch
soldiers would grant no quarter to, about 100 of important port towns along Englands appalled many of Parliaments supporters,
Images: Alamy, Ed Crooks, Getty

slain of them, and most of the rest of the eastern seaboard. Charles also lost a cabinet the king was eventually sentenced to death.
whores that attended that wicked army are containing his personal correspondence, The conlict between Parliament and the
marked in the face or nose, with a slash or including letters communicating with crown had escalated into war when the King
cut. It has been pointed out that many of the supporters on the continent. Though he made raised his standard at Nottingham, followed
Irish women were most likely Welsh. It was light of the loss, the wily Parliamentarians shortly with the battle at Edgehill in October
with this murderous conclusion that the New employed the letters for propaganda, publishing 1642. In January 1649, on a scaffold outside
Model Army claimed its greatest victory, and their content in a bid to showcase the kings Whitehall, Charles I lost his head to the
took the ield at Naseby. Catholic sympathies. executioners axe. The Commonwealth of
Though the camp followers were treated The king retained some troops, and had England was declared and Parliaments victory
horribly, the Royalist army itself suffered a number of smaller armies and garrisons was complete.

57
WAR IN FOCUS

58
WAR IN FOCUS

in

A CHARGE OF THE RUSSIAN


LEIB GUARD
Painted c. 1914
Viktor Vinkentevich Mazurovskys painting captures the
chaotic moment Russian and French cavalry crashed
into each other during the Battle of Friedland, 1807.
Napoleons victory at Friedland spelled the end of the
War of the Fourth Coalition with the signing of the
Treaty of Tilsit by Tsar Alexander I of Russia. This
treaty forced Russia to side with France
against the British Empire and saw
Prussia occupied by the
Grande Arme.

59
On the bicentenary of this clash of nations, explore the decisions, the
armies, and every inch of the worlds most famous battlefield
Chris Collingwood

60
A
s dawn broke on 18 June 1815, thousands
of soldiers from nearly every corner of Europe
slowly emerged from their rain-soaked bivouacs
and looked out across the small patch of Belgian
farmland they found themselves in. Men in the French,
Prussian and Anglo-Dutch camps knew what an
almighty clash of arms the day would bring, but few
could have foreseen the slaughter to come. As orders
rang out to fall in, many must have feared they would
not see the days end.
The Battle of Waterloo was a inal, brutal fullstop to
what was known up until the 20th century as the Great
War. Between 1803 and 1815 nearly every European
nation threw its full weight into the series of conlicts
more commonly known as the Napoleonic Wars.
Waterloo would not only decide the fate of a resurgent
Napoleon, but also of the nations of Europe lined up
against him. For Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington,
and Gebhard von Blcher, Prussias aging but
experienced ield marshal, the stakes couldnt have
been higher Europes destiny was in their hands.

61
WATERLOO 200

The Hundred
Days campaign
Returned from exile,
Napoleon quickly retook
his throne and mustered
those loyal to march
against Europe
On 29 February 1815, Napoleon landed at
Golfe-Juan, south France, with just 1,000 men
after escaping exile on the island of Elba. Less
than a month later and he was entering Paris,
the ranks of his army swelling with nearly every
soldier the Bourbon king Louis XVIII sent to
apprehend him. This began what historians
would later call the Hundred Days Napoleons
inal campaign to cling to power.
Just a week previous, representatives of
On his return from
the great European powers had declared the
Elba, Napoleon was
former emperor an outlaw. By returning from received positively by
his lawful exile, they claimed he has placed the army and much of
himself without the pale of civil and social the French population
relations and has rendered himself liable to
public vengeance. Gathered at the Congress After weeks of desperate negotiation, coalition made its own plans to invade France
of Vienna, delegates from Great Britain, Russia, attempting to compromise Frances position in July, Napoleon took the initiative on 15 June
Austria and Prussia immediately pledged as well as his own, Napoleon realised that war by invading what is now Belgium. He had to
armies to support the authority of the Bourbon was inevitable. With Anglo-Prussian forces move fast to drive a wedge between the Duke
monarch and defeat Napoleon. These powers gathering near Brussels, the emperor chose of Wellingtons British, Dutch and Hanoverian
would form the backbone of the Seventh to take the ight to the allies in a bid to defeat army and Count von Blchers Prussian force,
Coalition, the clenched ist poised to strike them consecutively and broker a better deal the combination of which greatly outnumbered
Napoleon down. for himself and for his country. While the his own Arme du Nord.

WHILE THE COALITION MADE ITS OWN PLANS TO INVADE


FRANCE IN JULY, NAPOLEON TOOK THE INITIATIVE ON 15 JUNE
BY INVADING MODERN-DAY BELGIUM

62
WATERLOO 200

Waterloo s leaders
Map taken from The Battle Of Waterloo Experience by Peter & Dan Snow, published by Andre Deutsch

The duke and the emperors decison makers


Henry Paget, HRH William, Prince
2nd Earl of of Orange
Uxbridge Kingdom of the
Great Britain Netherlands
A talented Still in his early
cavalry officer, 20s and with
Uxbridge little practical
was given command
command of experience,
the allied horse William was
at Waterloo, nonetheless
with carte given a senior
blanche from commission in
Wellington the British Army,
to take action without orders if an commanding the I Corps of Wellingtons
opportunity presented itself. army at Quatre Bras and Waterloo.

Friedrich Wilhelm Jean-Baptiste Drouet,


The march to Waterloo
Encamped in and around Brussels, but managed to block the French
von Blow
Kingdom of Prussia
Comte dErlon
First French Empire
Wellington and his staff received advance along the road to Brussels. Commanding In command
continuous reports of rumoured Blchers army, meanwhile, was the Prussian of Napoleons I
French attacks across the border forced to retreat from Ligny by IV Corps at Corps during the
to the south; they were nearly all a much larger force under the the battle, the battle, dErlon
incorrect. On 15 June, conirmed command of Napoleon. count was a was considered
reports of the French invasion With Marshal Grouchy pursuing the veteran of the to be a veteran
reached the British command and Prussians north, Napoleon gathered successful soldier with more
by evening, the night of the now- his main force and continued after campaigns in than 20 years
famous Duchess of Richmonds Ball, Wellington, who encamped his France that led experience of
the army was marching south. army at Mont St Jean just south of to Napoleons battlefields,
Meeting the Arme du Nord Waterloo village. It was here that first exile. He had also defeated Marshal stretching as far back as the Revolutionary
commanded by Marshal Ney at the British general decided he would Ney at the Battle of Dennewitz. Wars in 1792.
Quatre Bras, Wellingtons men make his stand, in the hope his
came under immense pressure Prussian ally could reach him in time.
Sir Thomas Picton Jerome Bonaparte
Great Britain First French Empire
British troops ighting in square
formation at the Battle of Quatre Bras A veteran of During
Wellingtons the battle,
Peninsular War Napoleons
and a ruthless younger brother,
leader, Picton previously
commanded the king of
the allied Westphalia,
reserve. Before was tasked
the battle of 18 with distracting
June, it is said Wellington
he had a premonition he would not live to with an attack against Hougoumont, on the
return to his native Wales. He didnt. coalition armys right lank.

Sir James Kempt Marshal Michel Ney


Great Britain First French Empire
Returning Having fought
from fighting beside Napoleon
in the War of before his exile,
1812 with the in 1815 Ney
United States marched under
of America, the orders of
Kempt was Louis XVIII to
placed in apprehend the
charge of the former emperor
British 8th after his return
Brigade, which included the 1st Battalion from Elba, but joined him instead and served
of the 95th Riles. as his marshal once more.

63
WATERLOO 200

The battle begins


Napoleon and Wellingtons armies come face to face on a
Belgian field that resembles a sea of mud
With the pouring rain dripping off their brows Napoleon set his plans into motion. The
and their boots squelching in the thick Belgian emperor aimed to break through Wellingtons
mud, the morale of the soldiers of the Seventh centre, take the ridge and split his force. Seeing
Coalition was at a low ebb. The downpour on the the advance of the French troops, Wellington
night of Saturday 17 June was relentless, as the instructed his men to avoid the inevitable
shivering and soaked troops sat on a ridge along artillery barrage and lay down in the sodden
the road to Brussels. Wellington may have had a grass. Horizontal on the ground, the allied
warm bed in a nearby inn that night, but his mind troops said their prayers and awaited the sound
could not shake the thought that just three miles of French cannon.
south was Napoleon and his Grande Arme, and
they would soon be on their way. Right: The Kings German Legion was made up of some
Wellington positioned his forces on the north- of the inest soldiers in the coalition and had uniforms
to match. Though dressed like their British counterparts,
facing slope of the ridge near Mont St Jean, in their orders of command were made in German
a bid to shield the majority of his men from the
inevitable barrage of the French guns. At the foot Below: La Haye Sainte was one of
of the south-facing slope, three buildings lined his Wellingtons key defensive points at
Waterloo. It held out for far longer
position facing the French advance: the manor than many anticipated and stunted
of Hougoumont, as well as the farmhouses of Napoleons advance
Papelotte and La Haye Sainte. The latter of these
lay in the centre of Wellingtons line, making it
a crucial position to hold to stop Napoleons
advance. Likewise, Hougoumont presented a
vital position for defending the right lank of
the coalition army. While Coldstream Guards
and Nassau German infantry were garrisoned
to defend Hougoumont, La Haye Sainte was
manned by about 400 men from the Kings
German Legion, under Major Georg Baring.
Though he knew these defences were sturdy
enough, Wellington was counting on Blchers
Prussian forces to arrive. On the morning of 18
June, they were still some miles east, pursued
by Marshal Grouchy. After the ground had dried
suficiently to allow his artillery to be deployed,

THE ALLIED TROOPS SAID THEIR


PRAYERS AND AWAITED THE
SOUND OF FRENCH CANNON
The entire plan depended on Wellington
and the Prussians working together of the German states had previously been under
Historian and broadcaster Dan Snow on the makeup of French control. Belgium and the Netherlands had
Wellingtons forces and his plans for taking on Napoleon just been reconstituted after a time as Napoleonic
WHY DID WELLINGTON CHOOSE was one of Wellingtons favourite tricks to shelter client states ruled over by Bonapartists. The army
TO FIGHT NEAR WATERLOO? WHAT from cannon ire. Wellington had reccied the area was unreliable and uncertain in its loyalty.
ADVANTAGES DID HE HOLD? extensively before, and if he couldnt hold them at
Waterloo sits bang alongside the road from Quatre Bras, he could hold them at Waterloo. WERE THE COALITION
Charleroi to Brussels. Wellington COMMANDERS UNITED? WAS
identiied Mont St Jean as WHAT TROOPS DID WELLINGTON THERE ANY DISAGREEMENT OVER
where he could make HAVE TO CALL ON FOR THE BATTLE? TACTICS AND DECISIONS?
a good defence of Wellington was very dismissive of his own army. He The big issue was getting the relationship right
Brussels. It was said he had a very poor army that was ill equipped. between the coalition leaders. The entire plan
harder to attack Many of the troops were newly raised levies depended on Wellington and the Prussians working
up a ridge and he because the allied states had only come back together. Alone, he probably wasnt strong enough to
could hide his into existence a few months before, so an army of deal with the entire might of Napoleons army. Allied
troops behind untrained and unproven oficers had to be rebuilt. with the Prussians, he probably would be.
the fold in the These troops may well have found themselves Our continental allies have always been very
ground. This ighting for Napoleon a few years before, as many suspicious of us Brits and in 1815, the minute

64
WATERLOO 200

Deployment
In a matter of hours, more than 100,000 men would engage in a battle
SECURING
HOUGOUMONT
that would settle the fate of Europe for at least a century This farmhouse would
become a key outpost
ASSEMBLY OF THE during the battle.
GRANDE BATTERIE Wellington reached it
Despite being hastily first and deployed a
assembled weeks earlier, selection of companies
the troops of the Grande from Nassau and Hanover
Armecounted many as well as the Coldstream
veterans among their ranks Guards. With their backs
and morale remained high. to the wall, the allies were
Artillery was set up in the commanded to defend
centre of the French ranks Hougoumont to the very
so to concentrate fire on last man.
the enemy lines - a tactic
pioneered by Napoleon. PAPELOTTE AND
THE EASTERN ROAD
THE ALLIED Casting his eyes to the
COALITION left, Wellington watched
Outnumbered and the small hamlet of
outgunned, with many Papelotte nervously. If
seasoned British troops still the Prussians were ever
station in North America. going to arrive, this is
Those left would be ably where they would show
assisted by allies from up. He and Blcher had a
Brunswick and Hanover, pact, but would they have
and militia from several regrouped in time after
other Dutch and German their tactical loss to the
principalities. Last, French at Ligny?
Wellington had the trusty
95th Riles Regiment. LA HAYE SAINTE
The farm here was made
MONT ST JEAN into a sturdy and well-
At the heart of the allied defended compound by
ranks, this acted as a field the Kings German Legion.
hospital during the battle. One of the best units in
After the overnight rain, the allied army, it was
the battlefield had become made up of Hessians and
a swamp and Napoleons Hanoverians who had
artillery would do well to ample experience fighting
Map taken from The Battle of Waterloo Experience by Peter & Dan Snow, published by Andre Deutsch
make it all the way here. in the name of Britain.

Napoleon crossed the border, everyone thought


the British would head off on their ships back OUR CONTINENTAL ALLIES in Brussels. There was a lot of uncertainty and
general misery caused by the driving rain. We
to Blighty. A key moment was when Wellington
promised Blcher that he would stand and ight. HAVE ALWAYS BEEN VERY struggle to remember now, with our waterproof
clothes, that these guys in their broadcloth and
There was a disagreement in the Prussian high
command about whether Wellington was a man of
his word, but thankfully Blcher believed him and
SUSPICIOUS OF US BRITS wool had uniform that shrunk when they got wet.

IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT WAS THE


sent a corps or two of infantry to help swing the Napoleon would send to his northern army and how MOST IMPORTANT MOMENT OF
battle in Wellingtons favour. many would be kept in reserve. In fact, Napoleon THE BATTLE OF WATERLOO?
had gone north with 130,000 men, a bolder move I think probably Wellingtons left surviving and
WHAT DID THE ALLIES KNOW ABOUT than the allies were expecting. Napoleon had very stabilising its lines after the irst massive attack
NAPOLEONS ARMY? successfully cut all communication and no news by dErlon. On the eastern half of the battleield,
The allies would have made had iltered out since he left Paris. The allies didnt Napoleon feinted to his left and launched a
estimates about how many know where and when Napoleon was going to hammer blow on Hougoumont to draw British
men Napoleon could call cross the border or with how many men. attention to the west, because of course the
on. He had a large pool of British were worried about the west as it was
veterans to summon but WHAT MUST MORALE HAVE their route to sea and the protective embrace of
they were unsure how many BEEN LIKE IN THE RANKS ON THE the Royal Navy. The British left wing was driven
MORNING OF THE BATTLE? back but Uxbridge identiied that the heavy
Left: A mainstay of the British Morale wasnt great. Wellingtons men had spent cavalry was required to break up the French
Army since 1812, the Belgic shako
replaced the stovepipe shako.
a night in the pouring rain while sleeping on the attack, and they did so very effectively. This
Lace was silver or gold for oficers, ground. Their clothes were sticking to them, they allowed Wellington to maintain his defensive
depending on regulations. were freezing cold and looking forward to a bed posture and wait for nightfall and the Prussians.

65
WATERLOO 200

From Hougoumont to the


British cavalry charge
As cannons blazed and infantry clashed, it was left
to the coalition heavy cavalry to ride in and save the
afternoon for Wellington
It had been a long time since Austerlitz, but
the ire in Napoleons belly was still strong as 1 THE HOUGOUMONT FARMHOUSE
he rode up and down his ranks to cries of vive Napoleons first objective is to take the small compound
lempereur! Hidden behind the brow of the at Hougoumont. Lightly defended by only a few allied
ridge, Wellingtons men waited for the inevitable companies, a mass infantry attack is repulsed just as the
artillery bombardment, while those garrisoned in men in the courtyard near breaking point.
the farm houses in front of the slope knew they
would bear the brunt of the French attack.
Intended as a diversion while the main artillery
pummelled the centre, Napoleon instructed 2 THE MAIN ASSAULT
his brother, Jerome, to lead an infantry division The Grande Batterie lines up in the middle of
to Hougoumont. Scaling the compound, they the field and fires countless bursts of round
smashed through the gate but were cut down in shots at the opposing ranks. The relentless
the close conines of the farmyard. This tussle bombardment lasts for two hours and the allied
lines are peppered with cannon shot.
for Hougoumont raged on for hours, and the
diversion became a key part of the battle. Back
in the centre, Napoleon believed that the artillery 3 THE DIVERSION
attack had gone on long enough, and sent in his BECOMES A MASS BATTLE
infantry led by dErlon. The French general had The French army is determined to take
faced Wellington before in the Peninsular War Hougoumont. It believes that if they
and was determined to have the better of him do, Wellingtons reserves will be drawn
this time around. His assault began well, as he towards it and leave his centre exposed.
took La Haye Sainte and forced a retreat. Napoleons brother Jerome commands
As the French moved further forward, they the attack on the farmhouse; he is eager
engaged the core of the coalition forces. to prove his worth.
Wellingtons line was thinly spread and Napoleon 3
hoped that this forward punch would split the
allied forces and clear the way to Brussels. The 4 RESOLUTE
French had the upper hand, but they hadnt
4
COALITION DEFENCE
counted on a mass counterattack led by the The two-metre wall that surrounds
Earl of Uxbridges heavy cavalry. 2,000 horses the compound is stubbornly
clashed with the infantry and sent them running defended by the British, who fire
back. The sudden and effective strike had their muskets and riles through
evened up the battle but, as Napoleon readied any gaps in the wall they can
his artillery and his own cavalry, the pendulum find. Despite wave after wave of
was about to swing again. Frenchmen, Hougoumont is still in
allied hands.
1
Below: In warfare from this era, ighting for and winning
the enemy standard was a major part of the conflict, able
to boost or decimate morale depending on which side
seized the standard and which side lost it.

Infantry
skirmishers
The coalition forces were
bolstered by specialised
troops, able to fight and
move more independently
Waterloo wasnt the only concern for the British
in the summer of 1815. They had only recently
been ighting in the War of 1812 and, as a
result, some of the best units in the army were
still stranded in the United States.

66
5 DERLONS
ADVANCE
After the artillery barrage,
Napoleon sends in his
6 infantry. 20,000 Frenchmen
led by dErlon rush into
La Haye Sainte as the
defenders, including
members of the 95th Riles
and Kings German Legion,
are forced back.

6 COALITION
CAVALRY RESPONSE
Now low on reinforcements
and thinly spread, the road
to Brussels is opening up.
But as the coalition infantry
stumble, a timely cavalry
charge rescues them.

Acute Graphics

Above: A British pattern Baker Rifle 1805. These rifles were far more accurate
than standard-issue muskets and were favourites of light infantry skirmishers

again to ight against the First French Empire. The in farmhouses favoured the use of accurate
majority of the 95th Riles Regiment also served marksmen; they were the eyes and ears of the
at Waterloo. These jaegers and skirmishers were allied army. Using cover, they harassed the
To ill the gaps left by them, the coalition utilised Wellingtons trump card. Wielding Baker Riles lanks of the French columns to great success.
the use of mercenary units from several German rather than smoothbore muskets, these elite The defence of Hougoumont, La Haye Sainte
states. These troops, most from Brunswick, Nassau corps would ight in open order and were among and Papelotte was greatly aided by the Nassau
and Hanover, had served the British with distinction some of the best marksmen of the era. Napoleon regiments and the Kings German Legion.
in the Peninsular War and had signed up once was always slightly hesitant to employ riled Supplementing the British guard, the stoicism
battalions and still believed the faster-to-reload of these battalions helped hold the French
Left: Light infantry from the German city state of Nassau. musket was king, so the Grande Arme only had infantry back and they only stopped ighting
During the battle, Nassau infantry were stationed in one regiment of Tirailleur skirmishers in its ranks. when they ran out of ammunition. For many, the
Hougoumont alongside British Guardsmen The British tactic of laying low behind ridges and victory was as much German as it was British.

67
WATERLOO 200

Waterloos cavalry
Courageous charges and lethal manoeuvres turned the tide
of the battle more than once
With Uxbridges cavalry sweeping across the down either by sabres or lethally effective lances.
battleield, many over-running towards the French More than once during the day it was the French
lines, the French cuirassiers, considered the elite lancers who got the best of their British rivals
heavy cavalry of the day, prepared their counter- in one-on-one combat, with the weapons extra
charge. The result was catastrophic for the British reach providing a devastating advantage.
mounted troops, who were utterly destroyed by After this exchange of slaughter, with the
the fresh French cavalry. Many found themselves remnants of the British cavalry gathering back
pursued as they desperately spurred on their behind its own lines and dErlon still attempting
spent horses towards friendly lines, but were cut to rally his scattered men, a lull broke out across
the battleield as both sides took stock. Further
Below: A shako cap to the west the ight for Hougoumont still raged,
belonging to a member with infantry and artillery attacks battering the Above: The helmet of a French
of the Brunswick building relentlessly. cuirassier oficer, c 1815
Hussars. The skull
and cross bones
At about 4pm, Marshal Ney gathered his
was a symbol of cavalry together and prepared them to charge up
mourning for and over the hill. The German garrison of La Haye
the late Duke Sainte would have seen the terrifying cuirassiers
of Brunswick
and Chasseurs a Cheval speed past on their
way up the ridge. Nervously taking stock of their
dwindling ammunition, they knew they could not
hold this crucial position much longer without
support. As the gleaming armour of the French
appeared on top of the ridge, Wellington bellowed
to his men: Prepare to receive cavalry!

THE RESULT WAS


CATASTROPHIC FOR THE
BRITISH MOUNTED TROOPS,
WHO WERE UTTERLY
DESTROYED BY THE FRESH
FRENCH CAVALRY
Right: The cuirass breastplate of Carabiner Francois
Fauveau, who was killed when a cannonball struck him in
the chest, passing straight through the young mans body

Uxbridge s charge
How the British cavalry swept away the French advantage
With dErlons infantry mounting the ridge ahead of simultaneously one of the most successful and
the coalition position, Sir Thomas Picton attacked tragic of the whole engagement. Crashing into the
the fatigued French with his own reserve units. French 45th line, Sergeant Charles Ewart of the 2nd
Wellingtons entire centre was in danger of folding Dragoons captured an imperial eagle, the symbol
under the sheer mass of 20,000 infantrymen in of the regiment. Only two such prizes were taken in
columns. Uxbridge, seeing the danger, moved his this way during the battle.
entire cavalry corps forward into line and ordered Drunk with the success of their charge, however,
the charge. The Household and Union brigades, the dragoons and many others in Uxbridges
numbering about 2,000 sabres, charged at quick charge continued on towards the French guns on
pace, rather than an outright gallop, through the the opposite slope. With their horses winded and
British lines and into dErlons men. cut off from any infantry support, a counterattack
The French infantry were completely routed, by French cuirassiers devastated the British
with the troops scattering frantically back down cavalry, which descended into panic and became
the ridge towards their lines. Hundreds were killed scattered in the mud and chaos. Only a fraction of
as they ran and hundreds more surrendered or the coalition cavalry remained and would take no
played dead. The charge of the Scots Greys was further signiicant part in the battle.

HUNDREDS WERE KILLED AS THEY RAN AND HUNDREDS MORE SURRENDERED OR PLAYED DEAD
68
WATERLOO 200

Cavalry provided the eyes and ears


Professor Bruno Colson on cavalry tactics and how a well-timed charge
could prove the difference between victory and catastrophe
WHAT WERE THEESSENTIAL WHAT ROLES DID CAVALRY UNITS HOW WAS THE INFANTRY
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE HAVE OFF THE BATTLEFIELD? SQUARE FORMATION
COALITION AND FRENCH CAVALRY? Light cavalry provided the eyes and ears of the DEVELOPED TO TAKE
The British cavalry had two components: the army, on the move and on the battleield. It was ON CAVALRY, HOW
Household regiments, with heavy men on heavy used to reconnoitre, patrol, screen, skirmish, provide EFFECTIVE WAS IT AND WHAT
horses, and the dragoons regiments, with dragoon outposts and seek intelligence. Napoleon formally DID CAVALRY UNITS DO IN
guards and heavy and lightdragoons. Hanoverian, prohibited the use of cuirassiers for such tasks too ORDER TO TRY TO BREAK
Dutch-Belgian and Brunswick units included a heavy and too expensive. They were reserved for SQUARE FORMATIONS?
majority of light regiments but also some heavy shock actions on the battleield. At Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington had
(carabineer) regiments. No cavalry wore armour or formed his infantry battalions in small columns
carried lances in Wellingtons army at Waterloo. HOW WERE CAVALRY UNITS ABLE able to quickly form into squares. Actually,
The French had more types of cavalrymen, equally TO CO-ORDINATE WITH INFANTRY most of them were oblong squares. They were
divided into heavy and light regiments. The most UNITS EFFECTIVELY? four ranks deep and not a single one was
numerous were the cuirassiers regiments: elite Like the infantry, cavalry units normally achieved penetrated by French cavalry.
troops on powerful horses. They had longer swords their best results in combination with guns. It also The only hope for the cavalrymen to break a
than their British counterparts and this proved deadly had to be supported by infantry to be able to hold square was to exploit a gap generally easier to
at Waterloo. The Prussians had no heavy cavalry and ground it conquered. Artillery and infantry followed ind at an angle. Once horsemen got inside a
a majority of their regiments came from the militia the horsemen and plunged into the breach created. square it was all over for the infantry, but this
(Landwehr). A lot of them were armed with lances. Such a co-ordinated attack was brilliantly did not happen at Waterloo.
The British system had only one oficer in front, orchestrated by the French at the Battle of Ligny.
the others being within the ranks. This was not At Waterloo, however, this co-ordination was badly IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT WAS
conducive to forward control and was one reason organised by the French. Neys famous cavalry THE MOST IMPORTANT MOMENT
the British Union Brigade was not able to rally after charges were not followed by infantry. OF THE BATTLE OF WATERLOO?
dispersing dErlons French Infantry. In the French On the allied side, as his posture was defensive, For me, this was when the French I Corps
and Prussian cavalries, ive oficers were out in front, the Duke of Wellington removed most of his Royal reached the crest of Mont St
guiding the direction and speed of their men. Horse Artillery batteries from his cavalry formations Jean and was in position to
to place them in a static role. Uxbridges charge was break the Anglo-allied centre,
DID FRENCH CAVALRY OFFICERS timely in relieving the Anglo-allied infantry. around 2pm. This was the
ENJOY A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF moment when Napoleon
FREEDOM IN THE RANKS? HOW DID NAPOLEON DEPLOY HIS could have won the battle.
At Waterloo, Marshal Ney was put in command of CAVALRY TO TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE The counterattack
the attacks by Napoleon, so he was authorised to OF THEIR ABILITIES? by Pictons division and
launch his great cavalry charges around 4pm, even if Napoleon really put the emphasis on his heavy Uxbridges cavalry charge
the emperor judged it was premature. cavalry and used it as a reserve force able to exploit turned the tide. There are still
The French were the irst to have a strong cavalry every opportunity to break the enemy front during controversies over the French
reserve. Some said this hampered cooperation a battle and to pursue a broken adversary. For that formation, but this was not
with infantry. There were instances in the Waterloo purpose he had massive formations of cuirassiers, necessarily inadequate.
campaign when a French infantry general didnt from 3,000 to 10,000.
Right: Professor Bruno Colsons
want to obey a cavalry general. This happened quite The emperor also had a master of the cavalry book, Napoleon On War, is
frequently, pointing to jealousy and mistrust between able to lead this massive force into battle. The allies available from Oxford University
cavalry and infantry. didnt launch such massive cavalry charges. Press, priced 27.99

The ill-fated charge of the Scots Greys resulted in


the French 45th Lines eagle being captured

69
WATERLOO 200

British squares under attack


and the arrival of the Prussians
With the French still in the ascendency, the coalition soldiers had a choice: hold out
against a sustained offensive or be slaughtered
As his cavalry disappeared over the ridge 1 FRENCH CAVALRY ASSAULT
to attack the British squares, Napoleon Seizing the initiative, Marshal Ney leads
may have heard the well-timed salvo from Milhauds IV Cavalry Corps of heavy cavalry
Captain Mercers cannons as they stood into the allied column. The coalitions
irm against Neys charge. Deadly case shot battalions raise arms and fire round after
launched out into the horses, blunting the round as the horses near their frontline.
charge signiicantly. Many horses were taken 4
down from under their riders, but the French
kept coming as the British infantry ixed their
bayonets, kneeled, and braced for impact. 2 LOSS OF LA HAYE SAINTE
At almost the exact time Ney launched After defending valiantly, the Kings
his charge, the Prussians arrived on the German Legion run out of ammunition
battleield. After a gruelling 12-hour march and are forced to retreat or be routed.
from Wavre, Blcher had kept to his word, and Now in occupation of the outpost, the 3
French move their artillery forward and
he and 50,000 men were ready to enter the
continue their bombardment.
fray. Outnumbering the French three to one,
the full might of the Prussian force ploughed
into Napoleons right lank in the village of
Plancenoit. It was left to the French commander 3 SQUARE 6
Lobau to repel this black-shirted enemy who FORMATION
were eager to avenge their defeat at Ligny. To combat the French
Back in the centre of the ield, General cavalry advance, the allied
Kellerman and 3,500 lancer cavalry had come battalions on the left tighten
to the aid of Ney, with their long blades to to form squares. Bayonets
thrust into the allied soldiers before they could fixed, they brace themselves
raise their bayonets. This destruction went on as the thunder of hooves
for two hours as a cycle of constant artillery draws closer. Wellington and
ire and cavalry hit Wellingtons men. Some his officers continually rally
companies, like the Cumberland Hussars, lost their troops as the heat of
their resolve and led the bloodbath. The vast the battle escalates.
majority of coalition troops held irm though,
and with each charge the French attacks were
losing their potency.
The charge was called off at 6pm after the
loss of life became too much. Napoleons
infantry and artillery had failed to adequately
support the cavalry and the offensive was
a costly failure. Despite their comrades
successfully defending against the cavalry
behind the ridge, the garrison of La Haye Sainte
had reached breaking point and was forced to
withdraw. Wellington had now lost this crucial
centre and the French guns were able to move 1
up to within deadly range of the British position
victory was still hanging by a thread.
Below: Part of Kellermans forces were made up of lancer
regiments, who countered allied bayonets with long lances

70
WATERLOO 200

4 PREPARE TO 5 COMING OF 6 CAPTAIN MERCERS 7 FAILED OFFENSIVE 8 TURN OF THE TIDE


RECEIVE CAVALRY! THE PRUSSIANS ARTILLERY BARRAGE Armed with lancers, Despite the onslaught,
The French cuirassiers arrive at the As the clock strikes four, black- Led by Captain Alexander Mercer, Kellermans riders lay siege Wellingtons right lank holds
coalition lines and are surprised at how uniformed figures appear on the east canister shots are sent into the to the squares but as the firm and now with Prussian aid,
little effect the artillery has had. Close of the battlefield. It is the Prussians. horsemen. At this point, the French allies continue to hold firm, Napoleon is forced to play his
knit and strong, the allied ranks repel Lobau is sent over to engage the new artillery fire once again and are each subsequent attack loses final card. With only a few hours
the 8,000 horsemen, and so begins one arrivals as the vengeful Prussians joined by 3,500 fresh horses led ferocity. At 6pm, Ney is forced of daylight left, the French
of the bloodiest stages of the battle. smash into the right lank. by General Franois Kellerman. to call off the offensive. Imperial Guard are sent in.

5
Acute Graphics

71
WATERLOO 200

Prussians and faltering artillery:


the beginning of the end
After the mass French offensive failed, the Prussians laid siege
to Napoleons right flank, opening up a second front
Above: The mainstay of the
Napoleon had begun his military career Meanwhile, over in the village of Grande Batterie were six-
serving in artillery units, and as such many of Plancenoit, the Prussians were battering pounder guns like this one. This
his battleield decisions were based around down the French right lank. Lobau and his particular cannon was captured
the awesome power of his Grande Batterie. At units were iercely defending the village but at Waterloo by the coalition
Waterloo, however, the cannons that had been were slowly being pushed back due to the
so devastating across Europe were simply not sheer weight of Prussian numbers. It was Guard committing to defend against the
the well-oiled units they once were. now a race against time. Napoleon had to Prussians, the ight for the village became
Nonetheless, through the cover of the defeat Wellington before Blcher punched a yet another bitter struggle.
French cavalry and with La Haye Sainte inally hole in his right lank.
taken, the French guns could make their way With Lobau fending off the Prussians, the Right: Cannonballs littered
closer to the British positions. In a terrifying French had lost almost 10,000 men that the battleield at Waterloo.
This projectile is from an
onslaught, the 27th Regiment of Foot, the could have been utilised against Wellingtons 18-pounder cannon
Inniskilling, was almost wiped out. tiring forces. With several units of Imperial

The Grande Batterie


The strongest force of cannon in the world, Napoleon firmly believed
that artillery was the key to winning battles
The 250 French guns at Waterloo could ire battering the enemy before sending in the The French guns ired, on
round shots farther than one kilometre (0.6 cavalry and infantry to inish the job. His request average, 120 shots per minute,
miles) and were part of the French Gribeauval on 18 June was to astonish the enemy and outperforming Wellingtons artillery as his
and Year XI systems that pioneered the use shake his morale. caissons were hit and set on ire. During the
of light artillery. Each brigade of the Imperial Overconident, the emperor deviated from battle, Napoleon was unable to co-ordinate
Guard had a six-pounder foot battery while his standard tactic at Waterloo, sending in his his cavalry with his artillery. This was a grave
every cavalry brigade had a mobile six- troops before the artillery had completed its mistake as both the brave cavalry charges
pounder horse battery. Each battery consisted job. The late start also affected the French, and the destructive artillery barrages were
of between four to six guns and two howitzers as if the cannons had begun iring earlier, the put to waste. As a result, coalition infantry
operated by 80-150 men. coalition may have been knocked out before squares were able to hold their ground and
Throughout his military career, Napoleon the Prussians arrived. Despite the late start, the the cavalry failed to get among them with
used artillery in an attacking capacity, cannons still shook the resolve of the allies. their lances and sabres.

OVERCONFIDENT, THE The French army depicted crossing


the Sierra de Guadarrama in the

EMPEROR DEVIATED FROM


Peninsular War

HIS STANDARD TACTIC


AT WATERLOO, SENDING
IN HIS TROOPS BEFORE
THE ARTILLERY HAD
COMPLETED ITS JOB
Below: 12-pounder Gribeauval cannons were used
extensively by Napoleon in warfare. They were
replaced prior to Waterloo by the XI system but
some still remained in use
They caused a huge amount
of death and destruction on
the allied side, but not as much
as they should have done
Historian and broadcaster Peter Snow assesses the effectiveness of the
Grande Batterie and how its mismanagement contributed to Napoleons defeat
HOW EFFECTIVE WAS THE FRENCH of farms, as Napoleon should have been trying to the southern side of the Waterloo ridge. Moving
ARTILLERY DURING THE BATTLE? do, you would use round shots, but they werent the guns in those conditions must have been
The artillery was well used by both sides. Napoleon used very often against the farms. Because of extremely dificult.
had 250 guns, Wellington 150. However, the the mud, the round shot was less effective than it
emperor used his guns rather ineficiently. They could have been. COULD NAPOLEON HAVE WON IF HE
caused a huge amount of death and destruction on Canister shots were effective at no more than HAD MORE AMMUNITION?
the allied side but not as much as they should have 150-200 metres (492-656 feet) as they were I dont think it would have made a big difference.
done. One reason for this was that they were iring like iring a shotgun with lots of little musket The crucial failure of Waterloo was not using
in muddy and rainy conditions after the terrible ball rounds, which were terribly effective against the artillery against the buildings, which were so
night of 17 June. When the cannonballs were infantry or indeed approaching cavalry. There was critical to Wellingtons defence. More rounds and
shot they would land with a plonk and not bounce also shrapnel, which the British were very keen on. more hits could have made a difference but the
forwards. Also, the French couldnt really see the It was a round shot with a charge inside that blew fundamental problems were still there the mud
British and allied units behind the ridge, so didnt up the shot as it arrived at the target. This was very and that they couldnt see their targets behind the
know exactly where to ire. effective against infantry. ridge. The battle was largely lost by the weather.
The third problem Napoleon had was that when
iring at the British positions, he failed to destroy WERE THE CONDITIONS ON THE DAY IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT WAS THE
the two most important parts of the defence the POOR FOR ARTILLERY? MOST IMPORTANT MOMENT OF THE
farms at Hougoumont and La Haye Sainte. Both Even though Napoleon failed to get his guns up to BATTLE OF WATERLOO?
survived almost unscathed, although the roof at start the battle at dawn, he still got them there. I think the most important moment of the battle,
Hougoumont was burned off. He failed to land It was an extraordinary feat when you think how undoubtedly, was when von Blows Prussians
a round shot anywhere near these farms, which they dragged those guns up to the frontline in that were able to seriously engage the French right
made it much more dificult for the French to break appalling weather. It was something like 15 miles wing at Plancenoit. There is no doubt in my mind
in. They never broke into Hougoumont and only from Quatre Bras to Waterloo and the farms on that Napoleons need to divert ten battalions
made it into La Haye Sainte at 6pm, when it was of the Imperial Guard was a distraction to his
too late to make any difference to the battle. determination to break through Wellingtons line,
so he had to deviate from his plan to bust through
HOW DID DIFFERENT TYPES OF the centre. Nearly half of the Imperial Guard were
ARTILLERY WORK TOGETHER? sent to the right to keep off the Prussians and
They had to judge what kind of rounds to ire off in helped decide, or in fact decided, the failure of
different situations. If you were bashing down walls Napoleon to win at Waterloo.

Credit Paul Harmer


THE FUNDAMENTAL
PROBLEMS WERE STILL
THERE THE MUD AND
THAT THEY COULDNT The battle of
SEE THEIR TARGETS Waterloo Experience
BEHIND THE RIDGE. THE Full of vivid accounts, astonishing imagery

BATTLE WAS LARGELY and engrossing source material, The Battle Of


Waterloo Experience by Peter and Dan Snow is

LOST BY THE WEATHER published by Andre Deutsch and priced at 30.

73
WATERLOO 200

The final attack and aftermath


With the battle slipping muskets on the French in quick succession as General Cambronne, the Guard commander,
they mounted the ridge. reportedly told the coalition: The Guard dies,
away, Napoleon sent his With their muskets empty, Maitland then but does not surrender. Later, Wellington
battalions of Middle and ordered them to ix bayonets and charge and Blcher famously met at the inn La Belle
Old Imperial Guard to at the enemy. Startled by the sudden and Alliance, which that very morning had been at
crush Wellingtons line deadly volley ire, as well as the screaming the centre of Napoleons position. Relecting on
line of red rushing towards them, the Imperial the events of the battle, Wellington would say
As the ight for Plancenoit raged on, with bitter Guard hesitated. As the two sides clashed, that it was the nearest run thing you ever saw
street ighting inlicting terrible losses on each and lanking ire from another British unit in your life.
side, at about 7.30pm Napoleon ordered the began to chop away at the ranks of Guard still With the battle and his army lost, Napoleon
remainder of his Imperial Guard to attack advancing, the cry went up: La Garde recule! shortly abdicated and surrendered to the
Wellingtons centre. Made up of about 6,000 Napoleons elite Guard was forced back down British, who exiled him once again, this time to
fresh troops from the Middle and Old Guard, the slope it had just marched up. the island of St Helena, where he saw out the
and supported by artillery ire, the unit marched Wellington shortly sounded the general remainder of his days.
up the slope between Hougoumont and La Haye advance of his army after the leeing French,
Sainte. Facing them were two British brigades: crying: No cheering lads, but forward and
the Guards under Major-General Maitland and complete your victory! The shouts of relief and
the 5th Brigade under Major-General Halkett. elation from the pursuing British ranks mingled
As the bearskins of the Imperial Guard with the desperate cries of the leeing French.
appeared over the brow of the ridge, the Meanwhile, the Prussian force at Plancenoit
British troops levelled their muskets and ired inally prevailed and Blchers men led the
a volley, cutting deep into the irst ranks of bulwark of the relentless chase. A vengeful orgy
advancing troops. After a rapid exchange of of slaughter ensued, as no quarter was given
ire, however, the British line began to falter, by the Prussians to those surrendering or even
and Major Halkett was hideously wounded by the wounded.
a musket ball straight through his mouth. Just As Napoleon raced back to France in his
as it seemed the Imperial Guard was about to carriage, his Imperial Guard fought on in deiant
break through, a Dutch-Belgian unit positioned squares to cover the retreat of its emperor.
in reserve advanced and ired on the enemy,
Right: This is the skull of John Shaw, one of the
halting their advance and rallying the British. most imposing soldiers in the coalition. Over six-
Meanwhile, Maitlands brigade had managed foot tall, he perished on the battleield after he was
to push back unassisted, unleashing all 1,500 surrounded by nine cuirassiers

Napoleon seen about to depart in his carriage, as


his men desperately retreat around him

Images: Corbis, Mary Evans, FreeVectorMaps.com, Artefact images: Waterloo in 100 objects

74
WATERLOO 200

Waterloo
in 100 objects
Waterloo In 100 Objects by Gareth Glover is
available from The History Press and features just
a few of the fantastic artefacts seen here. Visit
www.thehistorypress.co.uk for more information.

The scale of the conflict can be seen


in this oil on canvas painting of the
Battle of Waterloo by Sir William Allan

WELLINGTON HAD NOW LOST THIS CRUCIAL CENTRE AND


THE FRENCH GUNS WERE ABLE TO MOVE UP TO WITHIN
DEADLY RANGE OF THE BRITISH POSITION VICTORY OR
DEFEAT WAS STILL VERY MUCH HANGING BY A THREAD
75
WAR IN FOCUS

in

SCOTLAND FOREVER!
Painted 1881
This dramatic 1881 painting by Elizabeth Butler shows
the start of the cavalry charge of the Royal Scots Greys
at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Though in reality
the charge began more at a fast walk over the rough
ground of the battleield, Butlers portrayal of a
chaotic and impassioned cavalry charge has
become iconic. The Scots Greys devastating
attack was a key moment in the battle
and led Napoleon to comment:
Ah, ces terribles
chevaux gris.

76
WAR IN FOCUS

77
TRIGGER POINT

THE MEXICAN-
AMERICAN WAR
Americas Manifest Destiny is something that
is taught in schools across the globe, but it
wasnt something that happened easily

M
anifest Destiny the phrase and Texas sparks a revolution
its sentiment would soon grow After ighting hard to break from the grip of
strong in the ledgling United States their respective European parents, the US and
of America after shrugging off its colonial Mexico was each seeking to deine itself on the
shackles. However, it wasnt enough for this North American continent. However, the former
newborn country to thrive on its hard-fought Spanish dependency immediately struggled to
freedoms while still clutching to the east coast control the vast swathes of land it had inherited
of the continent its booming populations and in 1821, stretching from the state of Coahuila
pioneer spirit demanded more. y Tejas in the north-east, to California in the
By the time James K Polk was sworn in as north-west and all the way down to the Yucatan
the 11th president, all eyes were already ixed in the south. The population of Texas (a part of
on the west and the riches it could yield. Our the Coahuila y Tejas state) in particular proved
Union is a confederation of independent States, a problem for the Mexican government, as it
whose policy is peace with each other and all was mainly populated by American immigrants
the world, he declared in his address. To fresh with the notions of freedom, democracy
enlarge its limits is to extend the dominions of and equality. Though there was willingness
peace over additional territories and increasing to join the newly created nation of Mexico, as
millions. The world has nothing to fear from more and more Mexican immigrants travelled
military ambition in our Government. However, the state it became increasingly clear that an
just one year later in 1846, the US would be American-majority could prove troublesome.
at war and American blood would be shed on By 1835, tensions reached a crescendo.
foreign soil for the irst time. Through desperate attempts to maintain control
over its outlying state, the Mexican government
had stopped all legal American immigration
1836-1845 into Texas. Worse, under the new dictatorship
of Antonio Lpez de Santa Anna, an increased
UNITED STATES centralisation of power was dashing the
Arkansas R. hopes of a free democracy in the state and
the country. In the meantime Texas had grown
rich, with its exports of cotton and animal
Claimed skins amounting to some half a million dollars.
Territory This made it a prize worth keeping or, for the
American government, one well worth acquiring.
It wasnt long before tensions boiled over
TEXAS into outright hostilities, with the Mexican
Rio Grande government seeking to tighten its grip on Texas.
Washington
The military presence in Texas was stepped
S. Antonio up dramatically, and when Mexican troops
under Francisco de Castaneda were sent to
Nueces coniscate a cannon belonging to the colonists
MEXICO River of Gonzales, the Texians refused. The ensuing
skirmish sparked the Texas Revolution, which
would prove to be brief, but bloody. The Battle
of the Alamo stands as its most-iconic moment,
where just under 200 Texians, defending their
position against nearly ten times as many
Mexicans, were slaughtered ruthlessly by Santa

78
THE MEXICAN-AMERICAN WAR

The Mexican-American war saw


the beginning of the Manifest
Destiny. It saw Texas take
KEY FIGURES
independence from Mexico

GENERAL ANTONIO LPEZ DE PRESIDENT JAMES K POLK


SANTA ANNA After running on a ticket
Dubbed the Napoleon of supporting widespread
the West, Santa Annas expansion of US borders,
ambitions both as a general Polk was sworn in as the
and president of Mexico 11th President of the
remain unsurpassed in the USA just as tensions
countrys history. He offered with Mexico were coming
to lead the Mexican forces to a head. He served only
defending the perceived one term in office, before
invasion by the US, shortly retiring from ill health
before announcing himself soon after the end of the
as president. ensuing war.

GENERAL ZACHARY TAYLOR JOHN C FRMONT


A seasoned veteran, Taylor Frmont was involved in
had fought in the War of numerous missions into the
1812, as well as against the West, searching for potential
Black Crow and Seminole routes towards the Pacific.
Native American tribes. While operating in California
During the Mexican- he came into conlict with
American War his experience Mexican populations, who
helped win many battles saw his mission as hostile.
against the Mexican He was actively involved in
forces. He was elected the armed uprisings, such as
12th President of the US the Bear Flag Rebellion, and
after President Polks death became the first Senator of
in 1849. California in 1850.

GENERAL MARIANO ARISTA JOS JOAQUN DE HERRERA


Serving in the New Spanish At times serving as the
army before joining the President of Mexico,
revolutionary cause Herreras willingness to
during the Mexican War of compromise with American
Independence, Arista fought officials in the sale of
during the Texas Revolution. territory in north-west
Soon after the Mexican- Mexico cost him his office.
American War he succeeded He subsequently served as a
de Herrera as president. general during the war.

79
TRIGGER POINT

The Mexican General Santa Anna


surrenders to Texan Sam Houston after a
battle that lasted just 18 minutes

THE MANIFEST DESTINY, IT WOULD SEEM, WAS NOT Mexico, the US and even Great Britain for its
potential riches, as well as its access to the

SOMETHING THAT WOULD HAPPEN OF ITS OWN ACCORD Paciic Ocean.


Whether or not Frmonts presence was
intended to galvanise the pro-independence
Annas men. The battle, more aptly described of Texas. The Manifest Destiny, it would seem, American settlers in California or not, shortly
as a massacre, only served to inspire further was not something that would happen of its after his arrival the Bear Flag Revolution sprang
resistance against Mexican rule and is even own accord. Shortly after Texas successful up to gain the provinces own freedom from
to this day inscribed in the folklore of the Lone revolution, talk of its annexation by the US was the Mexican state. This was yet another thorn
Star State. rife. The many American colonists in Texas in the side of the Mexican government, who
The Alamo, as well as Goliad where were in favour of the idea, but it wasnt until now saw the American grip on the western
hundreds of Texian prisoners were executed, 1845 that a bill was successfully passed territories tightening.
quickly became rallying cries for the through congress to oficially form the 28th In the meantime yet another of President
Revolution and united the colonists. After the State of the USA. Polks agents, John Slidell, had been sent
embarrassing but decisive defeat by an inferior All the while John C Frmont, a lieutenant in to Mexico City to meet with President Jos
Texian force at the Battle of San Jacinto, Santa the Topographical Engineers of the US Army, Joaqun de Herrera. His supposed intention
Anna was forced to surrender. It had taken just had been tasked with inding a route from was discussing peace terms over Texas,
a few months for the small uprising to bring the the Mississippi River to the Paciic, acting which wasnt yet recognised as a US State by
Mexican state to its knees. almost as the spearhead of further American Mexico. Secretly, however, Slidell had been
expansionist ambitions. In January 1846, sent with a mandate to offer over $20,000,000
The USA moves west during his latest exploration of California, in exchange for the territories of New Mexico
Even before the election of President Polk, the Frmont took with him an armed group of and California. When the Mexican press heard
US was working to strengthen its presence in around 60. Like Texas, California was a of the deal they were outraged and Herrera
California, Oregon and the disputed lands west contentious territory and was desired by was branded as a traitor to his country there

1821 1835 1836 1836 1842


MEXICO WINS INDEPENDENCE TEXAS REVOLUTION BEGINS BATTLE OF THE ALAMO BATTLE OF SAN JACINTO BATTLE OF SALADO CREEK
28 September 21 October 6 March 21 April 17 September
After over 11 years of Responding to an increased General Santa Annas army Taking Santa Annas force After re-election as
fighting the Spanish crown, centralising of power and of around 1,600 surrounds entirely by surprise, a smaller President of Mexico, Santa
revolutionary forces of military aggression by the a small Texan garrison at force of Texans under Sam Anna attempts to retake
former New Spain, or the Mexican government, the Alamo. After a short Houston defeats the Mexican the former province of
Mexican Empire, declare many Texans revolt in a siege, the Mexican army army in a battle that lasts Texas. His army under
independence from the bid to win independence for massacres almost the just 18 minutes. Texas Adrin Woll is defeated by
colonial power. the state. entire garrison. independence is declared. the Texians.

80
THE MEXICAN-AMERICAN WAR

was no way a Mexican president could even


entertain the notion of making deals with the
Americans. Slidell was forced to leave empty-
handed methods of diplomacy and even
commerce had failed to settle the situation, so
now it seemed a slip into war was inevitable.

The rst shots are red


With all the pieces in place, only the slightest
of confrontations was needed to set the coming
war into motion. In January 1846 President
Polk directed General Zachary Taylor, which he
had previously positioned at Corpus Christi in
the south of the state, towards the Rio Grande
river. This was seen as an act of aggression
and is in fact the natural border between the
two countries even today.
On the evening of 24 April Captain Seth
Barton Thornton, part of Taylors contingent, set
off with around 70 dragoons to patrol an area
near La Rosia, nearer the Rio Grande. They During the Battle of Alamo the
cautiously scouted out the area after sunrise Mexican army massacred almost all
on the 25 April to discover if and where the of the Texan garrison
Mexican force had crossed the Rio Grande.
They would ind out soon enough. surprise by thousands Mexican troops already stood before Congress on 11 May and declared
While investigating a plantation, Thornton encamped in the area. 16 of the dragoons were Mexico had invaded our territory and shed
and his men became trapped by a vastly killed and the rest taken by Torrejons force, American blood upon American soil. She has
superior Mexican force commanded by General including Captain Thornton and his oficers. proclaimed that hostilities have commenced,
Torrejon. Without setting any guards or taking News of the Thornton Affair, as it would later and that the two nations are now at war. There
any precautions to stay alert of the enemy, become known, reached Washington in May was no question of whether Congress would
the Americans had been taken completely by and gave President Polk his casus belli. He vote for the war, which was oficially declared
on 13 May.
From the ires of revolution, both Mexico and
the United States had inally collided and the
following conlict would decide the shape of the
continent for future generations. The Manifest
Destiny, the self-fulilling prophecy of the USAs
dominance in North America, was to be fought
for on the battleields of Palo Alto, Tabasco and
many others. Soon Mexico City itself fell to the
American forces and the Mexican government
was bitterly forced to concede defeat.

A small band of Texans took the Mexican


army by surprise during the Battle of San
Jacinto in an 18-minute battle The irst oficial state flag of the state of California. It was
irst raised in the 1846 revolt

1845 1845 1845 1846 1846


POLK ELECTED PRESIDENT U.S.A. ANNEXES TEXAS DE HERRERA DEPOSED THORNTON AFFAIR WAR DECLARED
4 March 29 December December 25 April 13 May
After winning the presidency After negotiations between After Polk sends an agent With General Zachary Taylor After receiving news of the
on a ticket promising further the Republic of Texas with an offer to buy the encamped north of the Thornton Affair, President
expansion into the west, and the USA, the bill to territories of California and Rio Grande river, a small Polk addresses congress
James Polk takes office incorporate Texas as a US New Mexico for $20m, contingent of dragoons and presents his case for
amid heightened tensions State is passed by Congress. President Jos Joaqun de under Captain Seth Thornton war with Mexico. The vote
between the US, Mexico and Texas becomes a state by Herrera is deposed for even is attacked and captured by passes with a large majority
Great Britain. the end of the year. considering the possibility. a superior Mexican force. and war is declared.

81
82
RORKES DRIFT

In January 1879, 150 soldiers fought


off over 3,000 Zulu warriors, earning 11
Victoria Crosses and a place in history

T
he siege at Rorkes Drift, Bloody dawn at Isandlwana
an isolated rural outpost On 11 January 1879, the British launched
on the Natal border with a pre-emptive strike at Zululand under
Zululand, came in the wake the command of the experienced African
of one of the British Armys campaigner Lieutenant-General Lord
most shocking defeats the Chelmsford. He assembled three columns,
massacre at Isandlwana, which taking command of the central column
unfolded on 22 January 1879. himself, which he proposed would bear the
At this time, Britain controlled brunt of the ighting with the two lanking
two provinces in South Africa columns poised to provide support and
the Cape and Natal and in 1877 prevent the Zulu army slipping past him.
had annexed the Transvaal from Chelmsfords main column comprised
Boer settlers, thereby inheriting a regular infantry in the form of the 1st and
long-running border dispute with 2nd Battalions of the 24th Regiment, along
the Zulu kingdom. The British High with a battery of seven-pounder ield guns,
Commissioner felt this increasingly a regiment of the indigenous Natal Native
powerful realm, united under Contingent and a light cavalry troop that
King Cetshwayo kaMpande and included a number of local volunteers.
with a ighting force approaching On his way to Zululand, Chelmsford
40,000, posed a threat to his stopped at Rorkes Drift, once a farm
nascent confederacy of states, belonging to the intrepid pioneer Jim Rorke
so he set about engineering a and latterly a Swedish missionary station.
military conlict. The post included two main buildings, a

83
RORKES DRIFT

cookhouse and a pair of cattle corals, or kraals.


One building Chelmsford pressed into service
as a hospital, the other he transformed into a
storehouse. He neglected to fortify the position,
though he left a small garrison to man the post, HE WAS DESPERATE TO
from which he would provision his forces during
the campaign. BRING THE ZULUS INTO
His offensive began with the crossing of
the Mzinyathi River from Rorkes Drift on BATTLE, WORRYING
the morning of 11 January. By 20 January,
Chelmsford, struggling over rough terrain, THAT THEY MIGHT SLIP
had reached the sphinx-like rocky crest at
Isandlwana, setting up camp on the forward PAST HIS COLUMN AND
slope. As at Rorkes Drift, he elected not to
fortify his position, reasoning that he would
not stay in the vicinity for very long. He was
INVADE NATAL
desperate to bring the Zulus into battle,
worrying that they might slip past his column
and invade Natal.
When his reconnaissance troops ran into a
Zulu force that quickly melted away into the
bush, this seemed to conirm his suspicions
the Zulus were avoiding battle. Resolute in
his pursuit, Chelmsford decided to lush the
army out. However, he didnt realise his men
had encountered a skirmish unit and that
the main Zulu army had already identiied his
position at Isandlwana. Unknown to the British
commander, it was forming up in a valley just a
few miles away.
Making a crucial mistake, Chelmsford split
his force, leaving around 1,700 men behind
while he sallied forth in a bid to locate the main
Zulu army and force them into combat. While
he was more than ten miles away, searching in
vain for Cetshwayo, the main Zulu army readied
itself for an assault on Isandlwana.
If properly arranged in defence of a fortiied
camp, the diminished British force would have
stood an excellent chance of holding off the
Zulu attack, but Chelmsfords negligence and
the complacency of the oficers still in camp
left the British defenders in a perilous position.
Believing that Chelmsford was out corralling the
main Zulu army and that the warriors emerging
in front of the British lines at Isandlwana
formed only a small unit, the residing oficers
deployed their men in an open formation
around a mile ahead of the main camp. They
were conident that their iring arc, featuring the
new Martini-Henry breech-loading riles, would
be strong enough to scatter the enemy.

THE HEROES OF RORKES DRIFT


ELEVEN VICTORIA CROSSES WERE AWARDED TO THE DEFENDERS AT RORKES DRIFT, INCLUDING
LIEUTENANT LIEUTENANT JAMES DALTON CORPORAL PRIVATE PRIVATE
JOHN CHARD GONVILLE Age: 46 CHRISTIAN FREDERICK HENRY HOOK
Age: 31 BROMHEAD Having retired SCHIESS HITCH Age: 28
Commissioned Age: 33 from the Age: 22 Age: 22 Fighting
into the Royal Attaining Army, Dalton An NCO in the Alongside along with
Engineers in 1868, Chard his officers commission had enrolled as Acting Natal Native Contingent, his fellow VC winner Corporal John Williams VC, he
did not arrive at Rorkes three years after Chard, Assistant Commissary ill-fitting boots had forced him Allen, Hitch kept held out in the hospital
Drift until three days Bromhead was appointed with the British Force into the Rorkes Drift hospital, communications at the for over an hour, fighting
before the battle. Left in second-in-command once and superintended though he took a position hospital open, thereby until his ammo ran out.
temporary charge of the Major Spalding had left the organisation of the on the perimeter once the allowing patients to be As the Zulus advanced
garrison by Major Spalding, Rorkes Drift, earning his VC defence. He was among defences were set. Despite removed. Though wounded through the building,
he belied his lack of battle by showing great gallantry those receiving the first taking a bullet to his foot and in the shoulder, he worked these two burst through
experience by organising throughout the defence. He wave of attack. Although having his hat shot off, he through the night, dispensing three partition walls and
the defences and showing was subsequently promoted wounded, he continued to dislodged several Zulus from ammunition to his comrades helped eight patients out
great leadership. to brevet Major. engage in the action. a mealie bag barricade. before he finally collapsed. to safety.

84
RORKES DRIFT

MYTHS OF RORKES DRIFT


An engraving depicting Zulu prince
kaMpande is seen here with warriors
accompanied by their irearms
A NUMBER OF FALSITIES HAVE SPRUNG UP AROUND
THIS LEGENDARY BATTLE, WITH MORE THAN A FEW
PERPETUATED BY THE STIRRING 1964 FILM ZULU
THE WELSH WON THE DAY
Though the film pitches the 24th Regt as Welsh,
most of the defenders were in fact English. The
regiment was based in Brecon in South Wales but,
according to one source, 49 of the defenders at
Rorkes Drift were English and just 14 were Welsh.

MEN OF HARLECH
A highlight in the 1964 film is the singing contest
between the opposing forces in which the defenders
belt out a rousing rendition of Men Of Harlech. This
did not happen, though the sing-off constitutes a
rousing and memorable piece of cinema.

THE ZULU SUICIDE BID


In another fantastic moment of cinema, the Zulu
chief in the film sends out his men in a suicide
mission to test the numbers of British riles. This
did not happen. It should also be noted that the
Swedish missionary had already left his post prior
to the attack and did not go mad. Neither was Pte
Hook a drunkard.

THE ZULUS SALUTE THE DEFENDERS


A highlight in the film, no doubt, but the stirring
moment when the retreating Zulus sing a salutary
song to the beleaguered victors is a falsehood.
War-torn and weary, the Zulu troops slunk
away under cover of night, no doubt spurred
on by Chelmsfords relief column arriving
from Isandlwana.

ZULUS WITH MARTINI-HENRY RIFLES


The Zulus were definitely armed with riles
and muskets but they did not boast any of
the new Martini-Henry riles looted from
the dead at Isandlwana. The Zulus fighting
at Rorkes Drift had not engaged in the
fighting earlier that day and therefore
could not have picked up any of these
powerful weapons.

Right: The Martini-Henry rifle was the


formidable weapon available to the
British garrison

However, this was no mere skirmish unit many frantic with panic, leaving the oficers in The British troops soon got to work fortifying
it was a muster of 20,000 spear-brave command with a decision to make. Should they their position. The garrison was comprised of B
warriors, the cream of Cetshwayos ighting defend the Drift or lee? Company from the 2nd Battalion of the 24th
force, and they were ready to bathe their The decision fell to Lieutenant John Chard, usually containing 100 men, at Rorkes Drift B
spears in the invaders blood. Forming up in whod been appointed the commanding oficer Company numbered only 95 men on duty. There
a traditional horns of the bull formation, the by the garrison chief, Major Spalding, in the were 30 wounded in the hospital, along with
Zulus outlanked the British line, overwhelming wake of his departure earlier in the day to Surgeon Reynolds and three men from the Army
the defenders with sheer weight of numbers. chivvy along a group of reinforcements that Hospital Corps, and somewhere between 100-
The superior British irepower was rendered had failed to arrive. Lieutenant Chard was 300 indigenous troops from the NNC with their
redundant and a slaughter ensued. an engineer and had yet to see action, while white oficers.
his second in command, Lieutenant Gonville This force soon got the defences up and
Garrison fortications Bromhead, though possessed of some running; a barricade of biscuit boxes and
The men garrisoned at Rorkes Drift heard the experience, had never shone in battle. mealie bags was run from a well-built stone
distant gunire at Isandlwana and cursed their As they discussed options, a Commissariat kraal on the eastern edge of the camp along
luck. Many of them would have preferred what oficer, James Dalton, spoke up in favour of to the far western edge of the hospital. This
they presumed was a glorious victory over in a defensive action, pointing out that with the barrier was around three-feet high and sat atop
Zululand to the interminable boredom of camp wounded men from the hospital slowing them a ledge, giving the defenders a barrier that
life in their barren outpost. How quickly their down, the Zulu force would overtake them stood up to eight-feet tall all along the northern
opinions changed. A string of refugees from the and, out in the open, theyd have little chance. rim. A second barrier of mealie bags, which also
massacre began iltering back to their position, Chard agreed they would make a stand. incorporated two wagons, was run along the

85
RORKES DRIFT

86
RORKES DRIFT

This spirited, if romanticised,


depiction of the battle by Alphonse
de Neuville shows the garrison
defence in vibrant detail

87
RORKES DRIFT

positions southern border, linking the hospital


and the storehouse.
With upwards of 400 manning the
barricades, the defences looked sound. The BATTLE OF RORKES DRIFT
Zulu army consisted of light infantry, capable of
swift manoeuvres out in the open, but with no
AN HOUR-BY-HOUR ACCOUNT OF THE ATTACK ON THE BRITISH STATION
artillery and inferior irearms they were ill placed Left: The ruins of one of the
to overrun a well-fortiied position. However,
around 4pm things took a turn for the worse.
N buildings at Rorkes Drift,
photographed c. 1882

The Zulu force arrives


A contingent of Natal Native Horse had come
galloping up to Rorkes Drift, yet more fugitives
from Isandlwana, but their white oficer
apologised to Chard, saying he could not
control his men who had ignored their orders
and rode off into the distance. Their departure
demoralised the NNC troops who also deserted
their positions. This left just 150 men to defend
the entire post.
The defenders now faced a far more perilous VEGETATION
situation, prompting Chard to construct an inner BUSH
defensive wall a biscuit-box barricade that ran
in a northerly direction from the left edge of the E
storehouse to the northern barricade in case NC
FE
his men could not hold the entire perimeter.
The irst Zulu contingents now came into view.
Around 500 to 600 men from the iNuluyengwe CH
DIT 7
Regiment arrived at roughly 4.30pm, moving in 17.00+
open formation from the south before charging The Zulu forces
the defenders. assault the weak
Chard ordered the British to ire at 500 yards barricade in front
and though initially erratic, the Martini-Henry of the hospital
fusillade soon found its range and the irst Zulu 4 and battle erupts
16.45 on the veranda.
attack faltered, forcing the iNuluyengwe to veer Zulu troops launch first
off along the western rim towards the northerly assault on the hospital
approach. They ducked into cover in front of the L L
and fierce hand-to-hand
H WA
hospital, while others swung to the east and fighting unfolds. T H IG
tucked in behind the cookhouse and ovens, 5F
where they opened ire with their own riles. 19.30 12
Before long the hospital came under attack. The British
This was the stations weakest position as the evacuate the
troops had not been able to inish the barricade hospital after the
in front of the building, while the attackers were roof is set ablaze.
afforded good cover by long grass that ran right
up to the British defences.
The Zulus suffered heavy ire, but were soon
on the defenders, forcing them into hand-to-
hand combat, where it was assegai versus AH
18.10 9 A ND
bayonet. Here the defenders had the advantage V ER
A two-hour fight for
of a longer reach and the irst Zulu rush was
the hospital interior
hurled back by a bayonet counter-charge led by
begins in earnest.
Bromhead himself.
Approaching 5pm, the main Zulu force
appeared, numbering around 3,000 men
under the command of Prince Dabulamanzi WC
kaMpande. The majority of these warriors had
acted as a reserve at Isandlwana and were 2
16.35
now eager to earn their own share of war glory
and loot. Snipers took up positions on Shiyane 16.55 6 HOSPITAL An initial attack
falters under a heavy
Hill to the south and opened ire on the British The main Zulu British crossfire.
perimeter. Their weapons were out-dated and force appears
they lacked decent ammunition and powder, and tucks into the 16.40 3
but their barrage took its toll and a number of bush in front of NK
The first attackers
T BA
defenders were hit. Its estimated that around the post. veer along the 2F
16.30 1 ND
one-third of the garrisons total losses came western rim C HA
Up to 600 DI T
from sniper ire. towards the
northerly approach. men from the
iNuluyengwe
Fight for the hospital regiment launch
With the main force in position, the Zulu army the first attack.
continued its assault on the north-facing front
of Rorkes Drift and the battle around the
hospital intensiied, spilling onto the veranda.

88
RORKES DRIFT

ROUGH STONE
KRAAL

18.15 10
As the Zulu line
extends they launch
serious assaults
on the storehouse
barricade.

8 WELL BUILT
18.00 KRAAL
The British start to
fall back towards 11
the inner biscuit-
19.00
H Zulus occupy parts
T H IG box barricade.
AG S 3F of the kraal as the
EA LIE B British are gradually
L OF M
WAL HEAP OF forced back.
MEALIE
BISCUIT BAGS
BOXES
13 DOOR ABOVE AND BELOW
21.00
The fight continues after dark
with the final major assault
coming around 22.00.

ND
AH COMMISSARIAT
V ER
A
STORES
IG H
S4 FT H
E B AG
A LI
F ME
LL O
WA
STEPS
WAGONS TO ATTIC
DOOR
10
Rorkes Drift is located
near to a ford in the
Buffalo River

COOK HOUSE

OVEN
2F

OVEN
TB
AN
K

16.50 5
Zulu snipers take
* Estimated timings

up a position on
Shiyane Hill and
open fire.

89
RORKES DRIFT

The Zulus sustained a constant volley of Chard and Bromhead, meanwhile, proved barrier. Nevertheless, the retreat left the
attacks and the British began to feel the pinch their mettle, constantly moving along the line, hospital and the wounded men inside seriously
as the combatants came eyeball to eyeball, plugging gaps and reinforcing weak points in exposed. It was now down to the patients and
with the attackers desperately grabbing at the the defensive line. half a dozen able-bodied men to try and hold
British muzzles and trying to rip them from the Non-combatants like Surgeon Reynolds and this now-isolated position. The hospital ight
soldiers hands. Chaplain Smith also showed great bravery, would emerge as one of the most famous
During this second phase of combat, chivvying the men and distributing ammunition. engagements at Rorkes Drift.
a number of individuals demonstrated Still, the pressure was beginning to take its As dusk fell, the Zulus launched yet another
extraordinary courage, not least Private Fred toll and the casualties from the sniper ire on attack, hoping to catch the retreating British
Hitch and the Commissariat oficer, James Shiyane Hill began to mount. At around 6pm line on the hop while also bidding to take
Dalton, who according to Hitch was, fearlessly Chard ordered his men to abandon the weak possession of the hospital building. During
exposing himself cheering the men and using barricade in front of the hospital and retire to the retreat, or sometime after, Private Hitch
his own rile most effectively. Lieutenants the inner biscuit-box barricade. was shot in the shoulder and Bromhead leapt
This was a sound strategic move, to his aid, iring his revolver at a man poised
protecting the men from the sniper to spear him. Bromhead exchanged weapons
ZULU WARRIOR ire, while the inner biscuit-box with the wounded Hitch who fought on with a
THE AFRICAN FIGHTING FORCE barricade proved a formidable revolver for as long as he could. He then ferried
ammunition to the other men
before inally passing out.
HEADDRESS In the hospital,
Warriors wore elaborate around 20 armed
headdresses to identify with patients and the
their battle groups.
six able-bodied
soldiers kept
up a steady ire,
shooting through the
ASSEGAI windows and iring-holes
This stabbing weapon was knocked into the outside
usually around 60cm long and wall. Such was the press
was deadly in close combat. of Zulu numbers, however,
the besiegers were soon
right outside the hospital
walls, grabbing at the British
riles or else iring their own
weapons through the exposed
iring-holes. Here Private Joseph
Williams is said to have shot 14
of his enemies before he was
inally overcome.

BASIC CLOTHING
In the heat of
the African day,
only simple
animal skins
needed to be
worn, with rarer
skins being
worn by the
higher ranking
Zulu warriors.

SHIELD
Made from cowhide, these were
also used as weapons in their
own right, and their colour also
identified the warriors regiment.

90
RORKES DRIFT

Lieutenant Chard killing power and leaving him with just a scalp The Zulu pressure was as intense as ever,
pictured with his wound. With only one door in or out of this room as some brave warriors sought to ire the
Victoria Cross the defenders were in danger of being burned storehouse thatch and almost succeeded.
alive, so they hastily grabbed a pickaxe and One attacker was even shot down just as he
forced a hole in the wall through which they lifted his torch. Once darkness fell, Assistant
escaped to the next room to start yet another Commissary Walter Dunne formed a stack of
ragged ireight. spare mealie bags into a towering redoubt
Hook and his fellow defenders gradually from which the defenders could ire down
worked their way eastward through the rooms on their attackers.
and at one point had to break one patients Ordinarily, Zulus preferred not to ight after
recently mended leg as they scrambled their dark a time of malevolent spiritual forces
way toward the inal room in the building. yet their attacks continued with great
Squashed into this space, they noted that the intensity even as the sun set. As they forced
only escape route was a small window that the defenders out of the stone kraal, the
opened into the yard, which had become a British were left holding on to a tiny portion of
no-mans land now that the main British force their original position. But the British, though
had retreated behind the biscuit-box barricade. exhausted, were not done yet and they had luck
If they remained in the building, they were on their side.
doomed, so the able-bodied ferried the patients With the hospital now fully ablaze, the Zulu
out through the window and into the yard where attackers were illuminated whenever they tried
they had to crawl towards the safety of the to move across the no-mans land inside the
For all their bravery, the defenders could not biscuit-box barricade. One delirious patient Rorkes Drift perimeter. Trooper Lugg of the
repel the Zulus who, once massed outside the refused to be moved and the defenders had to Natal Mounted Police recalled that, We poured
hospital, set ire to its thatched roof, sending leave him to his fate. bullets into them like hail. We could see them
plumes of reeking smoke rolling into the falling in scores. Still, the British could not
building and inviting the now famous words of Sunset and aftermath hold out much longer. They had 20,000 rounds
Private Henry Hook: We were pinned like rats Even as the battle raged inside the hospital, of ammunition at the battles commencement
in a hole. the Zulus had kept up a constant pressure by the end, just 900 remained.
Pinned or not, it was here that Hook on the cattle kraal, the storehouse and the The inal determined assaults came at
demonstrated extreme courage and saved the biscuit-box barricade. At one point Corporal sometime between 9-10pm and then the
lives of many of the sick men, emerging as Christian Schiess, a NNC soldier whod been in ighting inally abated. The last shots were
the sole defender in one of the rooms after hospital before taking up a defensive position, ired at around 4am on the morning of 23
the other men had led. Eventually, he too was took a bullet in the foot but still showed January. The Zulus had suffered terribly, with
forced to fall back as black smoke engulfed the ferocious courage by abandoning the safety the British Martini-Henry weapons causing
room, forcing him to abandon an NNC patient of the barricade to stand atop the wall and casualties estimated at up to 1,000 men. The
who the Zulus speared to death. ire down on his assailants. When his hat was British, meanwhile, lost just 15 men, with ten
In the next room, a furious ight ensued as blown off by musket ire, he bent to retrieve badly wounded, two of them mortally. It was
assegai and bayonet clashed. Hook received it before bayoneting two men and shooting a surprisingly small number the thin red line
a spear to the head, his helmet delecting its another dead. had held irm.

The survivors of Rorkes THE AFTERMATH


Drift, photographed
after the battle
THE TWO BATTLES ON 22 JANUARY PROVOKED A QUICK
CONCLUSION TO THE ANGLO-ZULU WAR
Though the victory at Rorkes Drift did much to
assuage the horror of the defeat at Isandlwana, it
was not a strategically signiicant moment. Instead
it demonstrated the eficacy of the British soldier
if properly marshalled. Events of 22 January 1879
cost both sides dearly, though this proved harder
to bear for King Cetshwayos citizen army than it
did for the Imperial British war machine. Though
defeat at Isandlwana shattered Chelmsfords
original invasion plan, he was granted fresh
troops who pushed into Zululand. They scored a
devastating victory against Cetshwayos forces at
the Battle of Kambula in March of the same year
before winning the decisive Battle of Ulundi on
4 July. Cetshwayo was sent into exile and the
Anglo-Zulu war had run its course.

THE ZULUS HAD SUFFERED


TERRIBLY, WITH THE BRITISH
MARTINI-HENRY WEAPONS
CAUSING CASUALTIES ESTIMATED
AT UP TO 1,000 MEN
91
WAR IN FOCUS

in

GET HIM BACK ALIVE


Taken c. 1915
An Australian soldier carries his wounded comrade away
from the frontline in one of the most iconic images of the
Dardanelles campaign. Masterminded by British commanders
and politicians, including First Lord of the Admiralty Winston
Churchill, the plan for the campaign was to knock the
Ottoman Empire out of World War I for good. However,
the enemy defences were tragically underestimated,
leaving the assaulting French, British and ANZAC
soldiers struggling against almost impossible
odds. Weak and poorly supplied, the force
began to withdraw by the end of
the year.

92
WAR IN FOCUS

Rex Features

93
With deadlock on the Western Front, Britain was
about to expose the Ottoman soft underbelly of
Europe to its new ighting force, the ANZACs

94
GALLIPOLI
A CLASH OF EMPIRES
A CLASH OF EMPIRES

L
ooking out onto the shoreline, off by the Ottoman machine gunners before
Lieutenant-General William they even made it to land. For those that did
Birdwood knew that this would be make it out of the boats, they were faced with
a risk. Gallipoli, which was once Britains steep cliffs and a relentless, ferocious enemy
foolproof plan in the ight against the led by Colonel Mustafa Kemal, the future
might of the Central Powers, was fast Atatrk and father of modern Turkey. Within a
becoming a disaster and the commander short space of time it was clear that this was
of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) had going to be no easy battle.
been entrusted with turning the tide of the For a campaign that was meant to end the
lailing campaign. stalemate on the Western Front, progression
The landings began on 25 April 1915 was remarkably slow and trenches were soon
and were designed to take the heat constructed. The Australian and New Zealand
off the British divisions up and down Army Corps (ANZAC) would lose hundreds of
the coast. As the leet of transports soldiers in the irst few days as they dug in to
neared the beaches, many were picked protect a small beachhead and await orders.

95
GALLIPOLI

A ready and willing force


An Australian soldier
Rewind to late 1914 and the picture is a very rescues a wounded
different one for the ANZAC soldiers. Rather comrade from no
than facing the mud of northern France like mans land in a brave
the majority of the British Army, including many attempt to get him to
a ield hospital
Australians and New Zealanders, the corps was
training on the sands of the Sahara desert.
With training and accommodation facilities
in short supply back in England, this was
deemed the best place to get the ANZAC troops
prepared for the heat of battle.
Eagerly awaiting deployment, the war effort
was actually very popular in Australasia.
Australian Prime Minister Joseph Cook pledged
his support to Britain and many rushed to be
recruited for the army, as they didnt want to
miss out on the adventure. Many boy soldiers
even lied about their ages to become part of
this high-paid job that will, of course, be over
by Christmas. Australia instantly promised
20,000 men to the cause and raised the
AIF. New Zealand werent far behind and the
8,454-strong New Zealand Expeditionary Force
(NZEF) left the capital Wellington in October
1914, eager to join the ighting. After their
arrival, the NZEF troops were irst pressed into
action in the Suez Canal, where they helped
quash an Ottoman raid on the important
waterway. Fast forward to April 1915 and the
wheels were now in motion for the ANZAC
deployment from Egypt to Turkey. Gallipoli and
glory beckoned. Or so they thought.
Almost half of the Mediterranean
Expeditionary Forces (MEF) 75,000 troops
were made up of recruits from Australia and
New Zealand. Saddled with a 40 kilogram pack
of equipment and supplies, the ANZAC troops
entered the lions den of ANZAC Cove on that
fateful day in April 1915 and established a ALMOST HALF OF THE MEDITERRANEAN EXPEDITIONARY
beachhead against the opposing Ottomans.
The peaceful way of life back home seemed FORCES 75,000 TROOPS WERE MADE UP OF RECRUITS
far away and a hot summer was on the horizon.
As the troops were tormented by the Turkish
heat and swarms of insects, they now realised
FROM AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
this was what war was really like.

Field Marshal Lord


Kitchener and Lieutenant-
General William Birdwood WHY ATTACK GALLIPOLI?
inspect the troops
THE RISKY OPERATION FULL OF PROMISE THAT BACKFIRED
SPECTACULARLY FOR THE BRITISH EMPIRE
Gallipoli was a failure for the with the aim of bombarding and
British and is remembered for the capturing Constantinople. The
frequent blunders made by the Allied poor weather and tougher-than-
hierarchy and the spirited defence of expected Turkish fortiications
the peninsula by the Ottomans. damaged the Royal Navy
The campaign was the brainchild considerably and three battleships
of Winston Churchill - then First were sunk. Army assistance,
Lord of the Admiralty - who desired including the ANZAC troops, was
a second front against the Central called in by April but could only
Powers. A surge through the soft establish small footholds as the
underbelly of Europe would weaken Ottomans defended doggedly.
the German and Austrian lines on This stalemate would drag
the Western and Eastern Fronts. It on for a number of months as
was believed that this would be a offensives continually proved
quick-ix for the deadlock in Europe. ineffectual. In December 1915,
The campaign began on 19 British command decided that
February 1915 with the mighty Royal enough was enough and pulled
Navy sailing into the Dardanelles, a the troops out. It was back to the
strait on the west coast of Turkey, Western Front for more bloodshed.

96
A CLASH OF EMPIRES

ANZAC RECRUIT MOUNTED RIFLES HAT


Known as the slouch hat, the New
Zealand version here was slightly
The troops dig in
Life on ANZAC Cove was harsh and painfully
repetitive. The daily routine on the tiny six-
CITIZEN SOLDIERS OF THE EMPIRE different to its Australian counterpart kilometre bay would consist of observing and
The British Army incorporated a and nicknamed the lemon squeezer. sniping enemy positions with the occasional
large contingent of troops from A different coloured cloth band bombing run. Life behind the frontline saw
all over the empire to swell its denoted rank and service branch. support trenches ferry supplies to the front.
ranks. The Australian and New Despite their perilous situation, it is well
Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) known that to unwind the Australians swam
were stationed in Egypt ready for UNIFORM in the warm waters of the Aegean Sea. Life
action in Gallipoli. Khaki was the order of the day was especially dificult for the Australian
and helped the ANZAC troops Army Medical Corps (AAMC), who were often
stay concealed in the heat of the undermanned and undersupplied. Fresh water
Turkish sun. The New Zealand was particularly scarce and the craving for it
uniform was actually slightly was heightened by the diet of salty bully beef
BAYONET greener than British versions. and dry biscuits.
A bayonet was One of the most famous men of the AAMC
attached to the end was John Simpson, who led a stretcher-carrying
of the rile for close- RATIONS donkey around the battleield to pick up the
quarters combat. The On average, 30kg of injured and transport them to safety behind the
Ottomans carried rations would be carried. lines. Despite the medical staffs best efforts,
swords and lances, The most common foods typhoid and dysentery were common and these
so this blade could be were bully beef, hard illnesses, along with poor nutrition, gradually
invaluable when low biscuits, tea, sugar and wore down the ANZAC troops. Many reports
on ammunition. beef cubes. They would suggest that treatment for the wounded was
also carry firewood and
even worse than on the Western Front.
spare clothing.
Between April and August 1915, neither the
Ottomans nor the ANZAC forces were able to
break the deadlock. Trench warfare unfolded
and, unlike the British hierarchy had hoped, the
EQUIPMENT ANZAC divisions were unable to break through.
A standard ANZAC
soldier would
carry on their Sam
Browne belt: a
revolver holster,
ammo pouch,
sword frog,
compass,
binoculars, map
case, shovel
haversack and
water bottle. MAXIM MACHINE GUN
The Maxim boasted an excellent
fire rate but was soon replaced
by the more reliable Vickers and
Hotchkiss guns. Machine guns
were a new type of warfare that
RIFLE would try to end the stalemate
The rile of choice of the trenches.
for an ANZAC
soldier was the
trusty bolt-action
Lee Enfield MK I
rile. These were
wielded by the
main infantry,
while officers
carried revolvers.

GARLAND
TRENCH MORTAR
The most-used mortar of
the Gallipoli campaign, the
Garland proved useful at
clearing enemy trenches.
Projectiles were aimed using
a telescope and sent in at
a 45-degree angle using a
powder charge.

97
GALLIPOLI

Ingenuity may save the day ire was a fruitless exercise, especially as the
In early May, the New Zealand Infantry Brigade
was tasked with a new objective that would
defenders were being constantly reinforced.
The periscope rile was one invention that THE BATTLE OF LONE PINE
hopefully outmanoeuvre the resolute Ottomans.
The brigade was taken south to Helles, where
British divisions were engaged in combat.
made life easier for the ANZAC troops. Devised
by Sergeant William Beach of the 2nd Battalion
of the AIF, mirrors were attached to the sight
6-9 AUGUST 1915
Their mission was an assault on the village of
Krithia that would join the British forces up with
of a rile allowing soldiers to have a view above
the trench without sticking their head in the
IF THERE WAS ANY CHANCE OF THE
the ANZAC contingent. Progress was initially Ottoman crosshairs. String was also attached so AUGUST OFFENSIVE WORKING, THIS FEINT,
encouraging but the advance soon turned into a
series of battles; 800 men were lost.
the trigger could be pulled without their hands
getting in the line of ire. 100 METRES ABOVE ANZAC COVE, WOULD
The ANZAC contribution to the war effort
wasnt limited to the frontline. Lurking in the
There was also the jam tin bomb. Crudely
made, this was another excellent improvisation
HAVE TO SUCCEED
By August 1915, the ANZAC regiments were
straits was an Australian submarine by the from the ANZACs and was simply an old tin illed already an integral part of the British force. Their
name of AE2, which constantly harassed the with whatever explosives they could get their mission on this day was to draw the Ottoman
Ottoman Navy deep inside its territory. Sinking hands on. All in all it was a plucky invention that armies away from Chunuk Bair to give the August
destroyers, battleships and gunboats, the AE2 saw extended use on the frontline. Offensive a chance of succeeding. The ANZAC
eventually ran out of luck on 30 April when it On 15 May, the ANZACs lost their chief of artillery barrage ceased at 5.30pm. Battle was
was sunk by an Ottoman torpedo boat after general staff when Major General WT Bridges about to begin.
trying to rendezvous with a British submarine. was shot by an Ottoman sniper. This was
Captain Henry Stoker was left with no option followed by a huge Ottoman push of 42,000
but to scuttle the vessel and the 35-man crew men on 18 May that was repulsed by the ANZAC
were captured as prisoners of war. forces. Reinforcements in the shape of the
Back on the rocky heights of ANZAC Cove, Australian 2nd and 3rd Light Horse Brigade
the remainder of the Australasian corps was arrived but there was still no release from the
struggling against the Turkish defenses. cove. Despite the ANZACs best efforts, there
Traversing the cliffs while dodging machine gun was seemingly no way of ending the stalemate.
02 Trench defence
In a lash the ANZAC troops reached
the shocked Ottoman encampment.
FRESH WATER WAS PARTICULARLY SCARCE AND THE CRAVING The ANZAC soldiers were then surprised
themselves as the trenches were roofed with

FOR IT WAS HEIGHTENED BY THE DIET OF SALTY BULLY BEEF pine logs. Unable to force their way in and
unsure of what to do, many soldiers became

AND DRY BISCUITS sitting ducks and were shot down.

01 Breakout
On the shores of the Aegean Sea,
Allied regional Commander in ChiefSir Ian
Hamiltonestablished a line and called an end
to the artillery barrage. At 5.30pm, 4,600
Australians from the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th
Battalions charged the Ottoman positions on
Hill 971 with the sun on their backs.

Above: Australian infantry after the battle. Ottoman


bodies can be seen strewn across the top of the trench
Left: Troops would carry up to 40kg of supplies with them
when they travelled, including food and spare clothing

98
A CLASH OF EMPIRES

07 Victory
Joined now by the
04 Victory in the dark
Some men avoided the trenches
altogether and headed for the communication
5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 12th
Battalions, the ANZAC forces
had succeeded in drawing in
and reserve trenches to the rear. The others the whole immediate Ottoman
scored massive gains in the Ottoman trenches 16th Division reserve as the
and by 6pm, half an hour after the irst whistle enemy retreated. Up to 10,000
was blown, the ANZAC troops had taken control (3,000 ANZAC, 7,000 Ottoman)
and rooted out the Ottoman resistance. had perished in just four days
and seven Victoria Crosses
were awarded to the brave
ANZAC troops.

05 Tunnelled assault
Australian engineers dug
across no mans land to give
reinforcements a safe passage. The 06 ANZACs seize
the advantage
Struggles were usually one
Ottomans then came back in force
and four days and nights of hand- on one with friendly ire from
to-hand ighting began. It was so both sides common in the
close quarters that often irearms dark trenches. Tin bombs and
Stielhandgranate were thrown
03 Entry
In desperation, the ANZAC soldiers
shot, bombed and bayoneted through
could not be used and the weapons
of choice were unixed bayonets back and forth and bodies soon
piled up but the ANZAC soldiers
and ists.
the timber roofs as they scrambled into had gained the upper hand and
the trenches. The ighting became close were beginning to push the
quarters and each ANZAC wore a white Ottomans back.
armband to tell friend from foe. In the maze
of trenches, both sides dashed around
corners and ired wildly as chaos erupted.

THE ENEMY IN DETAIL seaports. Their assault on Russias Black Sea ports
inadvertently caused the Gallipoli campaign as the
Russians appealed for support from their allies.
The Empire had very little munitions of their
own so both the infantry and cavalry wielded
either the Mauser 1893 or Gehwehr 88 rile,
THE GALLIPOLI CAMPAIGN FROM THE The straits of Dardanelles were littered with
mines that wreaked havoc with the Royal Navys
again provided by the Germans. The Ottomans
on the peninsula also had swords, pistols and
OTHER SIDE OF THE LINES ships. What the British didnt know, however, was lances as well as Stielhandgrenate, a grenade
By the outbreak of the war, the Ottomans were in that the naval bombardment had nearly eradicated commonly associated with Germany.
no it state for another conlict. After losing land all of the Ottoman troops in the area. The
and money in the First and Second Balkan War, withdrawal allowed commander Mustafa Kemal Gallipoli was
they were described as the sick man of Europe. to bring in ive corps worth of reinforcements from the most
The Ottomans had originally desired an alliance the Fifth Army to bolster Ottoman strength. successful
Ottoman action
with Britain but this was rebuffed. Impressed The army put out by the Ottoman Empire at of the war as
with Germanys growing power, they eventually Gallipoli was heavily reliant on assistance from the British
sided with the Central Powers. Germany and Austria. They had borrowed the idea underestimated
The Empire had a long-standing rivalry with of khaki uniforms from them and now wore a the defences of
the strait
Russia and were determined to access Russian kabalak rather than the traditional Turkish fez.

99
GALLIPOLI

Failure after failure


A hastily arranged armistice took place on
24 May so both sides could collect the fallen
that now littered the battleield. The ceaseire
THE EVACUATION FROM THE COVE
lasted from 7.30am to 4.30pm before the THE BLOODSHED HAD GONE ON FOR TOO LONG AND BY
ighting resumed for another few months.
Something had to give and by August, the
NOVEMBER 1915, IT WAS TIME TO WITHDRAW FROM ANZAC COVE
British commanders had a new idea the After the loss of Hill 60 on 29 August 1915, commanders
August Offensive. decided that withdrawal was now the only option available
to the British. The idea of reinforcement and navy barrage
One of the irst of these new engagements
was toyed with but on 13 November Lord Kitchener
was the Battle of the Nek on 7 August
observed ANZAC Cove and declared an imminent
1915. The Australian 3rd Horse Brigade was
entrusted with an advance on a thin strip of
land known as the Nek. Here, there were a
evacuation. The ANZAC role in Gallipoli was over.
04 REDUCING
GARRISON
36,000
THE
Reducing the garrison
Beginning on 15 December,
BeginningANZAC soldiers were
on 15 December, 36,000 withdrawn
ANZAC
number of Turkish trenches that, if taken, over ivewere
nights. Troops were evacuated
soldiers withdrawn over five nights.
would represent a signiicant foothold for in small
Troops batches
were evacuatedandinunneeded
small batches
the British. The attack began at 4.30am ammunition
and unneeded was buriedwas
ammunition or destroyed.
buried or
with support from an offshore destroyer that Machine
destroyed.gunners were left
Machine gunners wereto left
theto
provided an artillery barrage. i nalfinal
the night due
night duetototheir
their heavy loadsofof
heavy loads
Unfortunately, in one of the miscalculations equipment.
equipment. The The rilemen
rilemen departed,
departed, setting up
that seemed to happen at Gallipoli so setting
drip rilesupasdrip
they ril es as they went.
went.
frequently, the bombardment was unleashed
seven minutes early and the Ottomans
had time to shelter and then return to their
positions ready for the cavalry charge.
In a scene reminiscent of the Charge of the
Light Brigade, the Ottoman machine gun ire
01
01 PREPARATION
DEPARTURE
rumours
The
FOR
Preparation for departure
The ANZAC troops had heard
ANZACoftroops
an evacuation so, to
had heard rumours
cut down the cavalry and infantry. More than maintain
of order,so,
an evacuation theto commanders
maintain order,
300 died in the massacre with next to no informed
the their troops
commanders informedthat
theirthey
troops
territorial gain. While the Australians were led werethey
that heading to Lemnos,
were heading Greece,
to Lemnos,
to the slaughter at Nek, the New Zealanders for a rest.
Greece, for aTorest.
prepare for this
To prepare for this
were facing problems of their own at Chunuk falsejourney,
false journey, thethe military
military stores
stores were
were emptied
emptied of all supplies.
of all supplies. The
The infantry
Bair, a 13-day struggle to the summit of the
infantry remained
remained suspicious. suspicious.
Sari Bair ridge.
After ierce resistance on the ascent, the
New Zealanders arrived to ind the peak
deserted and the Wellington and Auckland
Battalions were forced to hold off a renewed
Ottoman advance on the top at dawn on
8 August. Under increasing pressure from
artillery strikes and machine gun ire, the
stubborn New Zealanders were eventually
bailed out by incoming British troops, who
06 FINAL PHASE
designed
Final phase
The evacuation
The evacuation
and prepared
waswas
bycers
oficers
designed and prepared by offi
themselves were soon taken out by a mass who knewexactly
who knew exactly
whatwhat
was was
best best
Ottoman counterattack. for theirmen.
for their men.ByBy20 20 December
December the
Later in the month, the Battle of Hill 60 on the withdrawal
withdrawal from ANZAC
from ANZAC Cove was
21 August proved to be just as disastrous for Cove
completewaswithout
complete without
a single loss ofa
both Australian and New Zealand soldiers. single loss
life. More of10,000
than life. More than
ANZACs
After the failures at Nek and Chunuk Bair, this 10,000
were killedANZACs were killed
in the campaign, so in the
battle represented the last throw of the dice campaign, so the
the safe removal of asafe
total removal
of of
for the weary divisions. The ANZAC troops a total ofmen
105,000 105,000
and 300menfieldand
guns300
managed to get among the maze of Ottoman i eldaguns
was was a
huge relief tohuge
all. relief to all.
trenches but were unable to force them out
of their positions completely. With a distinct
lack of ammunition and minimal artillery
support, the attack soon lost momentum. The
exhausted British lost up to 2,500 men as the Helles Cove pictured just before
Ottomans once again proved too strong. the evacuation of the inal troops
The main British divisions were struggling
themselves. Suvla Bay was a small, lightly
defended enclave that was seen by the British
as an ideal way to break the deadlock and
inally hit the Ottomans where it hurt. Some
63,000 allied troops swarmed into the area
and had massive gains but could not link up
with ANZAC Cove before they were repulsed.
This was the inal straw for Field Lord
Marshal Kitchener who, after a visit, declared
that evacuation was the only course of action
for this costly campaign. Long-standing
Commander in Chief Sir Ian Hamilton was
replaced by Charles Munro as the evacuation
programme got under way.

100
A CLASH OF EMPIRES

THE NIGHT OF
03 THE EVACUATION
Delays and unrest
The few troops remaining now
left meant that the Ottomans could
break through within a week if the
evacuation was not complete. Worse FLEEING UNDER THE COVER OF
still, a blizzard battered the shoreline
on 7 December making evacuation
DARKNESS, THE BRITISH USED A NEW
extremely dificult. The ANZAC morale
was low as they realised they were
RIFLE TO AID THEIR ESCAPE
Churchill was convinced that the Gallipoli
leaving the fallen behind.
02 Silent stunts
From late November
onwards it was declared that
Campaign was a good idea, but even he had
to give up the ghost as the new year dawned.
no artillery ire or sniping would After approximately 200,000 Allied casualties,
be allowed. The belief was that the decision was taken to cut losses and
the Ottomans would see this evacuate in December 1915. ANZAC Cove was
as the ANZAC preparing for the irst to be abandoned and 36,000 troops
winter rather than a withdrawal. were cleared within ive nights with no loss of
Irregular rile ire kept the life. The next areas to be evacuated were Suvla
enemy unaware of any scale Bay and Helles Bay. The last troops stepped on
05 Evacuation in full ow
More and more transports
arrived to ferry the troops to safety. First
back in strength. to the transports on 9 January 1916. Gallipoli
was over and 142,000 men had been rescued.
in the pecking order were support troops William Birdwood was in charge of the
and reserves. The ighting units were evacuations and they were undoubtedly the
removed gradually so they could keep biggest success of the whole campaign. The
ighting the battle and provoking the forces were moved under the cover of darkness
Ottoman lines. By 19 December, only as they kept up their attacks during the day to
10,000 troops remained. not draw attention to the imminent withdrawal.
It was so sneaky that the Ottomans shelled
empty trenches after the British forces were
long gone. The successful evacuation is partly
down to an innovative tactic used by the
British the drip rile. Using a simple system
of water cans and string, riles were set up to
ire automatically at the Ottomans while the
remaining troops scampered to safety.

FIRST MECHANISM
Invented by Australian Lance Corporal William Scurry,
the top can is filled with water, which drips into the
lower can after the leeing soldier punches a hole in
the bottom.

SANDBAG SUPPORT SECOND MECHANISM


Propped up on the top of a trench, the drip rile The bottom can is attached to string, which pulls the trigger once
would be aimed at the Ottoman positions to the can is heavy with water. The firing would be sporadic but
keep them at bay as the soldiers retreated. convincing enough to fool the Ottomans.

101
GALLIPOLI

AS WE CAPTURED LONE PINE WE FELT LIKE WILD


BEASTS AND AS FAST AS OUR MEN WENT DOWN
ANOTHER WOULD TAKE HIS PLACE BUT SOON THE
WOUNDED WERE PILED UP THREE OR FOUR DEEP
AND THE MOANS OF OUR POOR FELLOWS AND
ALSO THE TURKS WE TRAMPED ON WAS AWFUL.
Private Tom Billings

A group of Australian troops


bravely charging head on at
an Ottoman trench

102
A CLASH OF EMPIRES

A successful evacuation
The ANZAC contingent had now been stationed
at the cove for a number of months and it
wasnt soon until winter would arrive in Gallipoli.
THEY EARNED A REPUTATION AS TOUGH FIGHTERS
Despite being exhausted, the decision to WE SPEAK TO DR DAMIEN FENTON, HONOURARY RESEARCH FELLOW AT MASSEY
evacuate was kept from the ANZAC troops
as long as possible. These troops had come
UNIVERSITY IN WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND, ABOUT THE ANZAC CAMPAIGN
halfway around the world and even though WHAT WAS THE ROLE OF THE regulations, albeit with a few local variations in uniform
many were diseased and sick, the decision ANZACS IN THE CAMPAIGN? and equipment.Infantry brigades predominated but
to retreat when they had made little to no The original role of the 30,000-strong both expeditionary forces contained a high proportion of
territorial gain would crush morale. ANZAC was to carry out a landing near mounted infantry regiments, Australian Light Horse and New
The evacuation was covered up by a false Gaba Tepe and support the British landings Zealand Mounted Riles accordingly.
restocking mission to Lemnos but whispers at Cape Helles by advancing inland to capture the Sari Bair The 25 April landing was an all-infantry affair with the
were frequent and by November the game was Range and Maltepe, thereby cutting the Ottoman lines of mounted regiments arriving at ANZAC as reinforcements
up. This was to be no quick withdrawal though. communication with their troops at Helles. Instead they on 12 May, without their horses. The infantry and mounted
The evacuation was to be done in stages and in landed at the wrong place Ari Burnu (ANZAC Cove) and troops from both Dominions soon earned a reputation
the most discreet way so the Ottomans did not ended up defending their tiny six kilometre squared beach as tough, aggressive fighters who quickly adapted to the
suspect a thing. head for the next three months while the British and French conditions of trench warfare. Their field artillery batteries
By day the ANZACS would keep up their concentrated on trying to break out of Cape Helles. were equipped with modern 18-pounders and 4.5-inch
attacks as usual but by night, a careful retreat In late July, the MEFs attention switched to the ANZAC howitzers, which, to the surpirse of the ANZACs, made them
was devised. Small numbers would depart as enclave, which became the focal point of the Sari Bair better equipped than many of the British Territorial or New
the rest of the division ired sporadically to give Offensive in August. The ANZACs played a leading role in Army artillery batteries sent out to Gallipoli.
the illusion the troops were still ighting. The this ultimately doomed offensive and suffered accordingly
entire evacuation took ive days and was so well ANZAC casualties for between 6 and 10 August amount HOW DID THE AUSTRALIAN UNITS DIFFER
disguised that the Ottoman artillery bombarded to 12,000. After more heavy fighting in late August to FROM THE NEW ZEALAND UNITS?
the empty trenches for days afterwards. consolidate the link-up between ANZAC and Suvla, the It was often hard for outsiders to distinguish the soldiers
The ANZAC forces lost 8,709 Australians ANZACs settled back into the daily grind of trench warfare from the two Dominions, much to the annoyance of the
and 2,701 New Zealanders at Gallipoli, with to defend their now greatly expanded perimeter until the New Zealanders, who usually found themselves mistaken
many more, perhaps up to 20,000, wounded. final evacuation in December. for Australians. In 1914-15, the famous Aussie slouch
The campaign was a complete failure but could hat was actually also standard kit for most New Zealand
have been so much worse for the British if it WHAT TECHNOLOGY, WEAPONS AND infantry and mounted units. This changed when the NZEF
wasnt for the bravery and tenacity of these METHODS OF WARFARE WERE USED BY adopted the lemon squeezer felt hat as a deliberate effort
men from the other side of the globe. THE ANZACS? to differentiate themselves from the AIF. In demeanour, the
In the grand scheme of things, Gallipoli The volunteer citizen-soldiers of the AIF and NZEF who New Zealanders were often noted as being less boisterous
was not a deining campaign, with events on served in Gallipoli in 1915 had been organised, trained than the Australians and more willing to take prisoners but
the Western and Eastern Fronts much more and equipped on the basis of pre-war British Army in terms of fighting ability, there was nothing between them.
signiicant in the fall of the Central Powers.
After the evacuation, the ANZACs went on to
serve with distinction on the Western Front and
many other theatres of war in World War I. The
events of 1915 still live long in the memory of
Australians, New Zealanders and also Turks.
The success of the campaign under future
president Mustafa Kemal kick started a Turkish
revival that gave a renewed sense of identity
and helped aid the fall of the Ottoman Empire
in the Turkish War of Independence. Back Down
Under, remembering the sacriice is an annual
tradition and for two young countries, the
experience bound them together.

THE ANZAC LEGACY


THE ANZACS HEROISM AND BRAVERY AT
GALLIPOLI LIVES ON TO THIS DAY
A celebration of the wartime spirit shown by
Images: Alamy, Corbis, Rebekka Hearl, Osprey

soldiers from Australia and New Zealand, the


irst ANZAC Day was in 1916 and has been going
ever since, with marches and services throughout
the two countries. The day begins at dawn on
25 April, the date that ANZAC troops irst landed
on the peninsula. Rosemary is traditionally worn
as it was commonly found on the battleields
at Gallipoli. There is also a tradition of making
the ANZAC biscuit to remember the rations sent
from home to the frontline. A special year for the
remembrance was 1990, when veterans went
back to the site of the battles to commemorate This painting by Walter
the 75th anniversary. Armiger Bowring shows the
ANZACs returning home

103
GREAT BATTLES

104
Great Battles

CAMBRAI
When the British Army deployed tanks to change the pace
of the First World War, it changed the face of it instead

B
y 1917 the British Armys notions of With change so desperately needed, its not
war had changed entirely. Any romantic surprising that the plan of attack at Cambrai
ideals of the glory of combat and was the product of ideas from three groups.
the open battleield had been trampled and British preliminary bombardment meant
drowned in the blood-drenched, rain-slicked German forces were always alerted to the fact
mud and barbed wire of the trenches of the an attack was imminent, enabling a tactical
Somme. Men fought and died for yards that felt retreat before a counter-attack. In August 1917,
like inches. Three years of almost imperceptible artillery commander Brigadier General Henry
movement in the ields of France had pulled the Hugh Tudor proposed silent registration of
wool from British commanders eyes. guns, bringing the artillery to the battleield

CAMBRAI, FRANCE 20 NOVEMBER 7 DECEMBER 1917


WHO WHAT WHERE WHY OUTCOME
The British Third The first major tank Cambrai, France. Part Attempting to break An important lesson
Army, including battle of the First of the Hindenburg the cycle of trench in the co-operation
Commonwealth and World War, seeing Line, it was heavily warfare, the assault between tanks and
American troops, up hundreds of British defended and a key was meant as a 48- infantry, but one that
against the German modified Mark IV supply station for hour lightning attack came at a huge cost with
Second Army. tanks deployed. German forces. to gain key positions. very few tactical gains.

105
GREAT BATTLES

British soldiers photographed during Right: Field Marshal Douglas


the battle. The photos original Haig was the most senior British
caption reads: Down in a shell commander during WWI
crater, we fought like Kilkenny cats

Below: General Julian Byng, commander of the


British Third Army, pictured in April 1917

without alerting the enemy. This process would reinforcements before 48 hours had passed. Several things needed to go very right in
be greatly assisted by the use of the No.106 Obviously, secrecy was paramount. order for this so-called clockwork battle to
instantaneous fuses, which meant that shells The Mark IV tanks were divided into male work. Haig had fallen victim to overreaching in
would detonate immediately on impact. and female groups, with the former having previous campaigns and he was determined
Meanwhile, the Tank Corps Brigadier General four Lewis guns and two six-pounder Hotchkiss that the Cambrai offensive have limited
Hugh Elles and Lieutenant Colonel John Fuller naval guns. The latter were each itted with objectives and stick to its time frame.
were desperate for a chance to show their six Lewis guns. Without the naval guns, the Minimising losses was crucial even more
machines worth. Fuller was convinced they female tanks were lighter, at 26 tons, while so when he was forced to send two divisions
would be capable of conducting lightning raids the males weighed 28. The crews also to support the Italian front. Co-operation and
to smash resistance and drive the British line noticed that while the males had a door at the communication between the divisions was also
forward. This dovetailed neatly with Tudors back, the female tanks had doors closer to vital, as the battles events would prove.
plan, as General Julian Byng, head of the the ground that were harder to get out of in an
Third Army, recognised. Byng turned his eye to emergency. Eight men shared the single space The battle rumbles to life
Cambrai, a quiet area used by the Germans as with the engine, while the machine was only The attack began at 6.20am on 20 November
supply point. While it was very well defended capable of reaching a speed of 3.7mph, and as the artillery began shelling. With this
with the deep trenches of the Hindenburg Line more typically around 1mph over bad terrain. stunning overture, the tanks advanced into the
and barbed wire, an attack would certainly be The tanks would lead, providing cover for fog. The gentle incline made things very easy
unexpected despite the areas strategic value. the infantry as they crushed the barbed wire for the drivers, while the infantry marvelled at
With six infantry divisions, ive cavalry effortlessly under their tracks. As for navigating the ease with which the tanks rolled over the
divisions and nine tank battalions, more than the trenches, each tank carried a fascine a barbed wire as they followed them into battle,
1,000 guns were mustered for the attack. bundle of wood and branches, which would be as did the men inside.
There would be a front of around 10,000 yards, deposited into the trench in order to ill it, so The initial advance seemed to be going
covered by the III and IV Corps of the Third that the vehicle could drive over it. Meanwhile, impossibly well. The clockwork battle was
Army, which would be widened as the attack a grapnel was itted to some of the tanks to living up to its name as the Germans were
progressed. The III Corps had to break the enable them to drag away the crumpled wire taken completely by surprise by this sudden,
Masnires-Beaurevoir line, enabling the cavalry as they went, so that the path was clear for the shocking attack. The British artillery kept up a
to circle around Cambrai and cut it off from advancing cavalry. devastating rate of ire, as much as possible
given the two-rounds-per-minute rule to avoid

WITH SIX INFANTRY DIVISIONS, FIVE CAVALRY DIVISIONS overheating. The advance was also supported
by the Royal Flying Corps, whose targets

AND NINE TANK BATTALIONS, MORE THAN 1,000 GUNS were on the ground rather than in the air. As
the pilots braved machine-gun ire to drop

WERE MUSTERED FOR THE ATTACK their payloads, the weather worked against
them. An Australian squadron pushed through

106
CAMBRAI

Men from the 11th Leicester


Regiment in a captured
enemy trench at Ribecourt

With extra weaponry attached,


punishingly thick fog at Havrincourt, barely able a male Mark IV weighed
to see one another, let alone their targets. If up to 30 tons
their planes went down, they had to ight their
way back to their lines, as Lieutenant Harry
Taylor was forced to do, picking up the weapon
of a fallen man and setting out to ind support.
This isnt to say there was no resistance.
A myth sprung up as the days went on about
a German gunner who held the enemy at bay
entirely by himself. That myth does a disservice
to the determination and skill of the men who
suddenly found themselves on the back foot.
Some of the troops stationed near Cambrai
had come from the Russian front and had
never seen a tank before. Its impossible to
know what these soldiers thought as the metal
leviathans rolled towards them, but they fell
back on their training, resisting where possible
before making a tactical retreat.
Before long, communication began to prove
an issue. When the tanks worked in tandem
with the infantry, such as through Havrincourt
and Graincourt, things went very smoothly.
Elsewhere, infantrymen were forced to bang
on the door of the tanks to get their attention,
while confusion over objectives led to groups
of infantry being forced to take key positions
without artillery support. However, sitting in
these slow-moving targets had its own terrors.
They drew the bulk of enemy ire and if the
engine gave out, whether due to attack, water
in the fuel tank, or even a ire, the tank became
a sitting duck. Once engaged in combat, the
inside of the tank would become incredibly

107
GREAT BATTLES

hot as the guns began to ire and the sound


of their doing so was deafening. Visibility was
shockingly poor, while the fact that most tanks
had to stop in order to turn meant that they
Great Battles

CAMBRAI
were a popular target on the battleield.
Nevertheless, the speed with which they
were taking ground was intoxicating; each
trench taken and each line of wire cleared was
another step towards the objective and morale
had rarely been higher. As the tanks moved
further away from their lines of reinforcement,
establishing a clear road and lines of
communication back became crucial. However,
the supply mules proved nearly useless in the
tangle of mud and wire, while the narrow roads
quickly became clogged with trafic back and
forth, ferrying wounded and prisoners. The Cambrai
01 offensive gets off
to a stunning start as
The Third Army consolidates
Despite the ground gained, the irst day ended the British tanks face
with some major concerns. While crossing the German artillery
trenches had proved easy enough for the tanks, across the planned
moving past the St Quentin Canal was another line of attack, rolling
forward across trenches
matter indeed. A crucial bridge at Masnires
and barbed wire. Its
had been crushed by a tank that had attempted
impossible to overstate
to cross the canal, stopping the planned the impact that these
infantry advance, while another had been machines, had on the
mined. The cavalry was delayed by the clogged morale of the British
roads, while a lack of communication frequently infantry, when they
meant they were stranded or forced to retreat. were working.
A lone squadron of Canadian cavalry realised it
was the only unit to make it across the canal at
Masnires and was forced to ind its way back
around and across.
Meanwhile, the key village of Flesquires had
not been captured after the advancing tank
divisions became separated from the infantry
of the 51st (Highland) Division. With no infantry
support, the tanks were target practice for
the gunners at Flesquires ridge and suffered
huge losses. Messengers from the battleield, Like Bourlon and its
some of whom walked the two miles on foot, 03 wood, Flesquires is a
vital target and vantage point,
struggled to convince their commanders
that Flesquires had not yet been captured. but as the British tanks advance
Crucially, Major General George Montague beyond the supporting infantry
Harper refused to commit any of the troops of the 51stHighland Regiment,
held in reserve to take the objective. they are sitting ducks. Pigeons
are sent for the cavalry support
The second day required consolidation and
that never comes, while infantry
advancement. Masnires was taken in the
that is in the vicinity arent
alerted to the fact that they are
needed. This is one of the most

OPPOSING FORCES catastrophic examples of a lack


of communication, leading to
unforgivable losses.

BRITISH GERMANS
LEADERS LEADERS
Field Marshal Douglas Haig, General Georg von der
General Julian Byng Marwitz, Crown Prince
INFANTRY Rupprecht of Bavaria
2 Corps (6 divisions) INFANTRY
CAVALRY 1 Corps
5 divisions PLANES
TANKS Baron Manfred
476 (378 fighting tanks) von Richtofens
PLANES Jagdgeschwader 1
14 squadrons (approx. 40 planes)
RESERVES GAME CHANGERS
4 divisions The air force led by
GAME CHANGERS Baron Von Richtofen
378 fighting tanks that that arrived on the 23
enabled the British to move November to combat
forward at an incredible rate the RFC and attack the
on the first day of fighting. British ground forces.

108
CAMBRAI

Some of the most brutal and


04 devastating ighting breaks out in
Bourlon Wood. Capturing it is crucial for the
British as its an excellent vantage point for
German irepower. Once British forces enter
the trees, the infantry are on their own and
some wounded men will be wait days to
be rescued. Facing ierce resistance from
German infantry, not to mention shelling
and aircraft ire, Bourlon Wood continues to
be iercely contested at a terrible cost.

Few locations exchange hands


05 as often as the small village of
Fontaine. Its strategically important
but painfully open to attack, as the
British learn shortly after taking it.
By the 26 November, the Grenadier
Guards manage to take Fontaine
despite incredible losses, but the lack
of support means theyre forced to
retreat not long after their victory.

If the British forces are


02 to circle around from the
South, it is crucial to cross the St
Quentin canal at Masnires. This
initiative fails spectacularly when
bridges are either been mined by
the Germans or collapse under the
weight of the tanks. All supplies and
reinforcements now have to come by
road, which quickly becomes choked.

The German counterattack on 30


06 November takes place all across the line,
but the speed with which they strike Gouzeaucourt
seems staggering. British troops fall back and
take shelter in a nearby quarry, but soon realise
that they have given themselves no cover, with
only one option remaining. The number of British
prisoners taken is incredibly high.

109
GREAT BATTLES

morning, but as a salient it was open to a


punishing amount of shell and machine-gun RUNNING FROM TREE TO TREE, WITH THE NOISE OF CEASELESS
ire, and the German air force soon reappeared
to make life very dificult for the British troops.
Meanwhile, the tanks had used all their
GUNFIRE, A HUGE NUMBER OF SOLDIERS WERE LOST
improvised wooden fascine bridges on the irst of Bourlon and Bourlon Wood posed a serious Division was dispatched to relieve some of the
day, which made crossing the trenches dificult, threat to the British. After a last-ditch effort exhausted men at the front. The tanks met
and the infantry were reluctant to advance ordered by Byng to push through, the order ierce resistance in Fontaine, and were forced
without them. came to halt and dig in. to withdraw to the disapproval of Tanks Corps
Things looked much better for the IV Corps, When Haig learned of the attacks successes intelligence oficer Captain Elliot Hotblack, who
which advanced on Flesquires dreading the and failures, he decided to junk the 48-hour saw the effect their retreat had on the infantrys
prospect of a prepared German resistance, time limit and continue the advance. He toured morale. Further down the line, German infantry
only to ind it had been abandoned. In contrast, the battleield, congratulating the men and made life hell for the tanks, inding the machine
while the cavalry helped take Cantaing, it helping to spread the myth of the lone German gunners blind spots and throwing hand
struggled to work in tandem with the tanks as gunner at the Flesquires ridge, as that was grenades inside, leaving the British soldiers
planned. Similarly, as the tanks moved into surely a better explanation for the number of trapped and burning.
villages, it became clear they were not prepared ruined British machines on the battleield than Having reached Bourlon Wood with the help of
for street ighting. With no machine gun on the alternative. During this apparent lull on 22 the tanks, ighting through the thick wood was
the top of the tank (it would be introduced in November, German forces rushed Fontaine now the infantrys job alone. It was here that
1918), they were horribly vulnerable to ire from and retook it. Resistance was growing, and as some of the most-intense and gruesome combat
second-storey windows. Still, Fontaine was the British dug in for the night in the miserable was seen. Running from tree to tree, with an
secured despite heavy losses, leaving Bourlon November cold they knew that their momentum unimaginable noise of ceaseless gun and
and its dense wood as the next target. was dripping away. Haig stressed to Byng that artillery ire, a huge number of British soldiers
The offensive was on a knife edge without Bourlon and Fontaine must be captured by the were lost in Bourlon Wood.
enough men to consolidate these gains. end of 23 November. When the German forces were inally pushed
Fontaine was incredibly vulnerable, but was out, they started shelling it. Meanwhile, both
refused any artillery support and destroyed Bitter ghting at Bourlon Wood Bourlon and Fontaine remained in German
bridges made moving supplies incredibly The fresh offensive was major, with 400 hands despite attempts in the afternoon, but
dificult. Meanwhile, the German vantage points guns and 92 tanks, while the 40th Bantam the casualties on both sides were horriic. As

110
CAMBRAI

Above: Tommies look and looked for their weapons. While German
on as British artillery forces broke through in some places and were
arrives at Cambrai in held up in others, communication broke down
December, 1917 once again. There was simply no plan in place
for this kind of counterattack, meaning that any
attempts to ight back and reclaim ground were
Left: German oficers made on the hoof.
pose with a captured Much as the Germans had offered ierce
British tank in Cambrai. resistance, so too now did the British. At Les
Hundreds of stranded
or abandoned British
Rues Vertes, the inspired and determined
machines were captured defensive tactics of Captain Robert Gee
during the offensive meant that their position and the brigades
ammunition dumps were held. He set up a
Lewis gun, organised bombing raids against
Right: Manfred von the attackers, killed two Germans who had
Richtofen, known as
iniltrated his position and killed the guards,
The Red Baron, played
a pivotal role from the
before charging a German machine-gun post
air at Cambrai with his two pistols. While seeking medical
attention he was forced to jump into a canal
night fell, troops were sent to support the men had his instructions from Haig. The attack went and swim to safety. His actions earned him the
in Bourlon Wood as counter attacks from the ahead, as Fontaine was taken at tremendous Victoria Cross.
Germans continued well into the night. Haig told cost and targets in Bourlon Wood were As reinforcements arrived, the Guards
Byng that Bourlon ridge simply must be taken, reached. However, there was barely time to Brigade retook Gouzeaucourt, while the forces
so the Guard division was summoned to support note the achievements before counterattacks in Bourlon Wood held determinedly to their
and relieve the depleted forces. drove the British forces back. positions. The conlict turned into a series of
Throughout 24 November, shelling and costly but unproductive skirmishes. As the
counterattacks continued on Bourlon Wood. The German offensive days passed and the casualties mounted,
Poor weather made it dificult for any RFC pilots While skirmishes wore both sides down, the Haig inally realised the necessity to fall back
to take to the skies and challenge the forces time had come for the major German counter- and form a line for the winter. He ordered a
of the recently arrived Manfred von Richthofen, offensive after reinforcements had been arriving retreat on 3 December and by 7 December the
the Red Baron, whose planes rained ire on since the second day of the attack. Planned by lines had settled, with both sides having made
the wood. German efforts to grind down the Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria, and widened considerable gains and losses in territory.
soldiers in the wood continued throughout by his superior General Erich Ludendorff, it The British casualties numbered 44,207
the day. Counterattack met counterattack, was the irst offensive planned against the killed, wounded or missing. The number of
and 25 November saw further terrible lapses British since 1915. Gas was ired into the wood German losses has proved harder to calculate,
in communication and bloody skirmishes. two days before the attack, and at 6am on with estimates ranging between 41,000 and
Battalions without tank support were mown 30 November the assault began. Despite the 53,300. The battle has proven to be one of
Corbis; Alamy; Ed Crooks; Thinkstock

down by machine-gun ire at Bourlon, while an warnings of some key oficers, the British troops the most fertile grounds for myths of the First
entire cavalry regiment ordered to wait within were simply not prepared for the assault at World War to form, but what is clear is that
sight of the German artillery was shelled. A Gouzeaucourt, as German soldiers swarmed the crucial lessons were learned in how important
furious Haig ordered the capture of Bourlon and British line and amassed prisoners. This was the communication and co-operation between
Fontaine by the 27 November, as German forces irst instance of the German stormtroop tactics, different divisions was.
continued to push at the exhausted British as the irst wave of soldiers went around targets A lack of support in reserve, a lack of
throughout the night. and cut them off as the further troops arrived. communication, and that terrible desire to
A planned attack on 26 November was As British soldiers realised what was overreach led to the attacks failure. While
the cause of ierce argument between Major happening, across all their lines, attempts were it may have been the irst large-scale tank
General Braithwaite, who bemoaned the lack made to regroup and stand their ground as offensive in the war, this landmark came at a
of support and fresh troops, and Byng, who startled oficers threw down their shaving kits terrible cost to both sides.

111
Heroes of the Croix de Guerre

HENRY JOHNSON
World War I: A German night raid on French positions
is repelled by a fearless US Hellighter

H
enry Lincoln Johnson is the deinition and weapons and learned basic French so they
of under-appreciated. One of the
heroes of World War I, his outstanding FOR VALOUR could understand their new comrades.
May 1918 saw fresh German offensives into
act of bravery and dedication to a fellow soldier The Croix de Guerre rewarded great Northern France and it wasnt long until the
is really quite remarkable. bravery and courage. Introduced in men were pressed into action. On the night of
In the years prior to his inest hour, Johnson 1915, it was open to solders, sailors 14 May, Privates Johnson and Roberts were on
and airmen from all allied powers. Bronze and silver
was earning a living as a rail porter at Albany versions were both available and variations of the
the midnight to 4am shift on double sentry duty,
Union Station. Standing at 5ft 4 and weighing decoration were awarded into WWII. when they heard the sound of wire cutters on the
130 pounds, the former chauffeur and coal camps perimeter fence. They were then forced
labourer was by no means a born soldier but he WHY DID HE WIN IT? to take evasive action as they were shot at by
was quick to sign up when President Woodrow For an act of heroism in defending an sniper ire. Opening up a box of 30 grenades, the
Wilson declared war against Germany in 1917. outpost from a German raid of much men readied themselves for battle.
Johnson enlisted at the Marcy Avenue Armory greater numbers. Johnson helped save the While Johnson hurled the projectiles at the
in Brooklyn and was soon sent to Carolina life of Private Needham Roberts, who was oncoming raiding party, Roberts sprinted back
for training, leaving his wife Edna and three severely wounded. towards the main camp for backup. However,
children behind. after seeing between 20 and 40 men advancing
Johnson was assigned to the 15th New
WHEN WAS HE AWARDED THE CROSS? on Johnson, he turned back to help his friend.
c. 1918
York National Guard Regiment, which was later They returned ire but in no time ferocious hand-
renamed the369th Infantry. This was the irst WHERE WAS THE BATTLE? to-hand combat had broken out.
African-American regiment of the war and it was Argonne Forest, Champagne, France Roberts, who had been struck more seriously
here that he would irst meet his great friend than Johnson, was unable to ight effectively with
Needham Roberts. WHEN DID IT TAKE PLACE? wounds to his arm and hip. He still managed
The early days of military service didnt go 14 May 1918 to make himself useful by handing grenades to
smoothly as brawls regularly broke out between Johnson who threw them over the parapet.
black and white troops. When they sailed over WHAT WAS THE POPULAR REACTION? Soon they ran out of projectiles and in the
to French soil, life didnt get much better as the Johnson returned home to a heros confusion Johnson tried to arm his French rile
two privates and their company were slapped welcome in his hometown of Albany. The US with a US cartridge, jamming the mechanism.
with menial tasks such as digging latrines. Being government, however, was less helpful and Drawing his nine-inch double-edged bolo
African-American, Johnson and Roberts were he was denied a disability pension. He was knife from his belt, Johnson fought on despite
subjected to segregation and their Labor Unit eventually awarded US honours posthumously. grenade and shotgun wounds.
was given the worst tasks that their commanders In the heat of battle, Johnson noticed Roberts
could think of. being carried away by the Germans. Determined
When the time inally came for frontline duty, troops in the ight against the German Empire. not to let his good friend become a prisoner of
the rest of the US forces reportedly refused to A notorious document called Secret Information war, he made his way towards him using his
ight alongside the African-American regiments. Concerning Black American Troops was even broken rile as a club and even his ists. His
The company was determined to contribute given to the French to dispel any negative tales dogged defence and total disregard for his own
as much as possible to the war effort so the they had been told from the other US divisions. life kept the German soldiers at bay until they
decision was made to put the 369th, or the The company was stationed at Outpost 20 heard the distant advance of French and US
Black Rattlers, under the operational control in the Argonne Forest in north-eastern France. troops and made a hasty retreat. The skirmish
of the French Fourth Army, who were short of Johnson and Roberts were given French helmets had lasted about an hour and the two men were

112
HENRY JOHNSON

Praise for a hero

Henry Johnson licked a


dozen Germans. How many
stamps have you licked?
A US Army slogan that used Johnsons
image to recruit new soldiers and to sell
Victory War Stamps

113
HEROES OF THE CROIX DE GUERRE

Words from a hero

Each slash meant something, believe me; I


wasnt doing exercises, let me tell you
Henry Johnson

then forced to wait it out until morning broke pension and was even refused a Purple Heart, a
and reinforcements arrived. Johnson cared for US military decoration given to those wounded
Roberts for hours ensuring that his 17-year-old in service.
buddy could ight another day, but his act of Johnson was given a heros welcome by the
gallantry had taken its toll on the weary Albany people of Albany, and the Fort Orange Club (a
native and as help reached them, he collapsed prestigious venue in the area) hosted a tea for
absolutely exhausted. his wife, Edna. Pictures of Johnson and Roberts
Waking up in the morning light of a French ield sold in great number and were even used as
hospital, Private Johnson learned that he had recruitment tools, as the men lectured the youth
killed four Germans, including one lieutenant, on their war experiences.
and had wounded between 10 and 20 more. Life was seemingly good for the Johnson
He had successfully protected the French line
but had received a total of 21 wounds from
family but in private, the great man was
struggling. After being denied work back at the
03 Roberts returns
On his retreat, the young private sees
up to 40 Germans advancing on Johnsons
gunshots and grenade blasts. Back on the Union Station due to his wounds, he found it position. Unwilling to let his friend die, he
battleield, a patrol from 369th Company found dificult to get another job. Uneducated and in rushes back to help and begins to return ire
that the Germans blood trailed back almost his early twenties, Johnson, like many of the from their position. In the ire ight, Roberts is
to his own lines. This was the carnage that the other returning soldiers, could not overcome the incapacitated with wounds to the hip and arm.
young American had caused and the name trauma and injury he had suffered in France. The
Hellighters would now stick with the company turmoil eventually drove him to hit the bottle and
forever. As for Johnson, he was given the soon his wife and children left him behind. He
nickname Black Death for his ferocity in battle. died penniless in 1929 aged 32.
Indebted to their efforts in saving the camp, Herman Johnson, Henrys son, managed
the French military hierarchy awarded the two to locate his fathers grave 63 years later in
men with the Croix de Guerre military decoration. Arlington National Cemetery. The discovery
Frances highest award for bravery, this was a helped the memory of Johnson gain
massive honour to the two privates who were momentum and soon a movement was raised
the irst Americans to receive the medal and to award him higher honours. In 1996 he
were both promoted to sergeant. Johnson was awarded the Purple Heart and in 2003
was additionally given a golden palm wreath the moment came when the World War I hero
on his ribbon for extraordinary valour. was given what he had always deserved, the
After the defeat of the Triple Alliance, the Distinguished Service Cross. There is now even
Hellighters returned home to be greeted by a a campaign underway to award him the Medal
parade in New York. Johnson rode in an open- of Honor, but whether this happens or not, the
top Cadillac, but the parade would be the limit efforts made by Henry Johnson in the spring of
of his rewards. The hero was denied a disability 1918 have inally been appreciated.

On his return
to New York,
Johnson was
paraded in an
open-top Cadillac

114
HENRY JOHNSON

Words from a hero

There wasnt anything so


ine about it, I Just fought
for my life. A rabbit would
have done that
Henry Johnson

05 Saving Private Roberts


Holding his position against
the odds, Johnson is wounded but

02 Striking from
a distance
During their preparations, the
continues to fell Germans. He then
notices enemy soldiers trying to
take Roberts as a prisoner, so with
sound of wire cutting ceases no regard for his own life, draws his
but the silence is broken by bolo knife and begins slashing wildly
sniper ire overhead. Johnson at the German troops.
responds by launching
grenades towards the sound
while Roberts races back
to the main camp to signal
for help.

04 Out of ammo
Private Johnson
uses up his last grenade,
and in desperation he puts
his American clip into his
French rile. This jams the
iring mechanism leaving him
without a weapon. With nothing
else to hand, he uses his gun
as a club and clenches his ists.

01 Night shift
Its the early hours of 15 May
and Henry Johnson and Needham
Roberts are on the night shift of
sentry duty. At 2am, Johnson hears 06 Waiting out the night
After hearing the advance of
American and French divisions in the
the distinct sound of wire cutters
on the edge of the camp. Taking distance, the German troops retreat
precautionary measures, the two back to their lines. Johnson and
Corbis; PZ Graphics

privates begin stocking grenades Roberts are left to wait out the rest
and arming their weapons. of the night until help arrives
at sunrise.

115
WAR IN FOCUS

in

SEAS OF RED
Taken 16 October 2014
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip walk through the
Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation in
the moat of the Tower of London. The art project
to commemorate the beginning of the First World
War used over 888,246 ceramic poppies, each
representing a British fatality during the conlict.
Donations raised by the project went towards
a number of military charities including
Help for Heroes, The Royal British
Legion and Combat
Stress.

116
WAR IN FOCUS

REX/Geoff Pugh 117


THE UNSUNG HEROES OF THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN

Among the deadliest but least celebrated pilots to ight


the Luftwaffe during Britains time of need were Polands
ighter aces. This is the story of their inest hour

A
ugust 1940: for three weeks, the men them, began in their homeland of Poland and
of 303 Squadron have been forced to continued in France.
wait while the German war machine Everywhere the Poles have been, the
readies itself to smash the last resistance in Germans have proved inescapable, forcing
Western Europe. Not that they have been idle them to ind a new base from which to continue
pilots and ground crew have been training their struggle. The Battle of Britain may have
hard to operate their Hurricane Mk Is, and been raging for weeks, but the men of 303
they are nearly ready to renew a ight that, for Squadron have already been ighting for a year.

118
THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN MAY HAVE BEEN RAGING
FOR WEEKS, BUT THE MEN OF 303 SQUADRON
HAVE ALREADY BEEN FIGHTING FOR A YEAR

Mark Postlethwaite

119
303 SQUADRON

Rising from Polands ashes Montpelier Squadron (so called because


The Polish Air Force (PAF) was reorganised just that was where they had undertaken their
prior to the outbreak of hostilities in September conversion courses for the MS.406), which was
1939, with the bulk of the eskadras (escadrilles divided between several French formations.
or lights, which were grouped together into The willingness of the Polish to ight wherever
squadrons) being allocated to Polish land and whenever was exempliied by a squadron
forces. The exception was the Brygada that trained in France in order to ight against
Poscigowa, the Pursuit Brigade, which was the Russians in Finland. Before they could be
tasked with defending Warsaw. transferred, however, the Finns made their
Despite the technological inferiority of its separate peace with the Soviet Union on 12
machines, the PAF downed more than 100 March 1940. Even after being asked to ly
German planes and Pilot Oficer Stanisaw the inferior Caudron-Renault C.714 Cyclone, a
Skalski of 142 Eskadra became the irst Allied seriously underpowered plane with a wooden
ace of the war, downing four German planes frame, the Polish pilots stubbornly persevered.
and sharing in the destruction of a ifth. French authorities declared the plane unit for
As the Polish armed forces fell back before combat after early negative feedback, but with
the German advance, they could count on the no alternatives available, the pilots lew on.
forests and marshland in eastern Poland to Of course, the end of this chapter came
slow their enemy down on the ground, while new quickly. Having been credited with the
planes (including Hurricanes) were expected destruction of 60 German planes (at a cost
to arrive via neutral Romania at any moment of 13 pilots killed), the Polish airmen were on
to match the Germans in the air. Such hope the move once more after France surrendered.
was dashed on 17 September, when the Soviet Scattering in any planes they could get their
Union invaded Poland from the east. The next hands on, or making their way to French ports,
day, the remaining PAF forces were ordered to the men headed for Marseilles, La Rochelle,
make their way as best they could to Romania North Africa and Gibraltar. Their routes may have
or Hungary. It was to be just the irst step of been varied, but their destination was always
a long journey. From their temporary havens, the same as far as they were concerned, there
the Polish pilots headed for France, mostly was simply nowhere else to go.
by ship (the few P.11s that had been lown to
Romania were left there), and quickly started The island of last hope
preparations for the next stage of their war. The Polish airmen had put up a brave ight in
Some Polish forces, perhaps recognising the their homeland and in France, and they could
likelihood of German success in France, headed have headed for the USA or Canada with
immediately for Britain. However, most, pilots pride intact. But only one nation still offered
and air crew alike, started frantic retraining the prospect of continued combat operations
on the Morane-Saulnier MS.406 a plane against the Germans.
with a passing resemblance to the Hurricanes Despite this, Britain was a very different
the men of 303 Squadron would ly with such experience for the Poles. Where they had
distinction during the Battle of Britain. enjoyed their own special relationship with
A total of 130 Polish pilots took part in the the French, which meant that most of them
Battle of France, with many serving in the spoke excellent French, they had little or no

Below: Members of 303 Squadron after Top: This Polish propaganda poster told the
retuning from a sortie in October 1940 country its air force was strong, serried, ready
Right: A 1939 British tabloid reports on the
Polish Air Force bombing Berlin

SOME POLISH FORCES, PERHAPS RECOGNISING


THE LIKELIHOOD OF GERMAN SUCCESS IN FRANCE,
HEADED IMMEDIATELY FOR BRITAIN
120
THE UNSUNG HEROES OF THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN

English. The French method of spreading Polish

THE PURSUIT BRIGADE


pilots through existing squadrons would be
problematic in the RAF, but that was how the
irst men to arrive made their contributions.
Some of those who had moved on to Britain
soon after reaching France were already in HOW THE POLISH AIR FORCE TOOK THE FIRST FIGHT TO THE LUFTWAFFE IN 1939
training. Fighter aces were even prepared to One of the myths of the war, propagated by the Operating from a base about ive kilometres
take up posts in bomber squadrons, so keen Nazis, was that the Polish Air Force had been north east of Warsaw, III/1 Dywizjon comprised
were they to keep ighting. This enthusiasm destroyed on the ground in the irst two days 111 and 112 Eskadras. The famed 303 Squadron
led to one of the many myths about the Polish of the German invasion. In fact, the Poles had would largely be made up of pilots from this unit.
Air Force that their personnel were brave but known what was coming and had moved their Most of the pilots in the Pursuit Brigade lew PZL
reckless, and that they paid a heavy price for it. ighters to new bases before the Nazis struck. P.11 ighter aircraft, although 123 Eskadra had
The Polish ighters were indeed brave, and The problem was that those ighters were badly to make do with P.7s. Less than a decade old
their preferred tactic closing to extremely outperformed by their German counterparts and when the war opened, the P.11 had nevertheless
close range before opening ire on an enemy even struggled to compete with bombers. been rendered nearly obsolete by modern
appeared to the British to be quixotic. The Pursuit Brigade (Brygada Poscigowa) was developments in ighter technology. It had a
It would take some time for this comprised of two squadrons responsible for distinctly old-world look, with its open cockpit and
misapprehension to be remedied and for the defending Warsaw. Three units, 113, 114 and ixed undercarriage.
Polish airmen to be recognised for what they 123 Eskadras, made up IV/1 Dywizjon (Squadron), Unable to catch German planes from behind
were some of the best pilots available to based about 11 kilometres north of Warsaw. (its top speed was just 242 miles per hour), P.11
the RAF. Their experience was valued from the pilots were forced to tackle them head-on, and
start, but it was with British units that they the relative weakness of the P.11 armament (two
made their irst contributions.
Of course, their support was badly needed. THE P.11 HAD BEEN or four 7.92mm machine guns) meant that they
had to close to the sort of ranges that would have
Britain, anticipating a major air confrontation
with Germany, had been investing heavily in RENDERED NEARLY made an RAF pilot blanche to have a chance of
downing an enemy.
its air force since 1937, but when war came,
it did not follow the expected pattern. German OBSOLETE BY MODERN Seriously outnumbered as well, it is no surprise
that the PAF lost about 85 per cent of its aircraft
military planning was not based on massive
strikes from the air, but on tight co-operation DEVELOPMENTS IN during Polands brief war, but it also claimed
more than 100 kills, and the experience gained
between air and land forces. The nightmare of
bombing raids against cities was not part of the
plan it was only to be considered in retaliation
FIGHTER TECHNOLOGY by the pilots was to prove invaluable in France
and Britain.

for similar raids. Britains army was small at A Stuka dive-bomber claimed the irst kill of the
the outbreak of war and was unable to make a war in Poland, downing a P.11 as it was taking off
difference on the continent.
The RAF, which had envisioned lying over
home ground with the beneit of radar, was
much less effective when shorn of these two
major advantages. No fewer than 477 ighters
and 284 pilots were lost in France. Fighter
Commands Sir Hugh Dowding begged the War
Cabinet to stop sending his precious planes
over the Channel. Spitires were not committed
until the evacuation at Dunkirk, but even so the
British lost 155 of their premier aircraft.
However, the war was about to enter a
phase that the British had been
planning for a defensive
struggle to prevent an
invasion. On 18 June,
Winston Churchill
christened the battle
to come when he
declared: The Battle
of France is over. I
expect the Battle of
Britain is about to begin.
Polish liers were airborne with
RAF squadrons as early as July 1940, with
the irst kill credited to Flying Oficer Antoni
Ostowicz on 19 July, when in action with 145
Squadron. In one of wars many cruel ironies,
Ostowicz was also the irst Polish pilot to be
killed in the Battle of Britain. Nearly 100 Polish
pilots lew with 27 ighter squadrons, moving
from one unit to another as needed. They would
undoubtedly have been willing to continue in
this manner, but it was quickly realised that
they could be more effective in dedicated
Polish squadrons, where the language barrier Above: The PZL P.11c may have been
slow and lightly armed, but it was a tough
and the differences in operational doctrine plane with an all-metal construction
would not be problems.

121
303 SQUADRON

122
THE UNSUNG HEROES OF THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN

SCRAMBLE!
WHEN THE CALL CAME, PILOTS WERE
A group of pilots rush to their planes
as the order to take off is sounded

RELYING ON THEIR GROUND CREWS


During the daily intensity of the ongoing
struggle with the Luftwaffe, the RAFs ground
crews were just as important as the pilots in
the air. It was their job to ensure the planes
were refuelled, repaired and re-loaded for
take-off when the order to scramble was
given. Ground crews were also tasked with
clearing runways of any debris from crash-
landings. Pilots trying to steer damaged
aircraft back to base as best they could often
left a wake of carnage behind them.

123
303 SQUADRON

Giving the Poles their own squadrons


would also enable them to keep alive the unit IT WOULD TAKE SOME TIME to the tips of their aircrafts wings. They feel
them physically and emotionally. If an enemy
histories that meant so much to soldiers,
sailors and airmen. It meant that 303 FOR THIS MISAPPREHENSION damages one of their wings, they feel the shock
as if they had been wounded themselves.
Squadron, the fourth Polish squadron to be
formed, was able to resurrect the City of TO BE REMEDIED AND FOR Fiedler also debunked another of the myths
surrounding the Polish airmen that they were
Warsaw name that it had carried when part
of the Pursuit Brigade. The squadrons roots, THE POLISH AIRMEN TO BE consumed with rage when in the air. The young
Polish pilots were, of course, hugely motivated
however, ran even deeper than this.
RECOGNISED FOR WHAT THEY by experiences in their home country, but in the
air they were calm; their minds blank as instinct
Rise of the Kosciuszko squadron
Following World War I, Poland emerged from WERE SOME OF THE BEST took over and they experienced a sort of
mental blackout. Only in this state could they
more than 100 years of partition to be an
independent nation once more. The Polish-
Bolshevik War, however, threatened to end
PILOTS AVAILABLE TO THE RAF hope to react quickly enough to survive.
The men of 303 Squadron did not have to
wait for their training to oficially end before
this almost immediately, with Lenin intent on taking the ight to the Germans. On 31 August,
absorbing the country within the Soviet Union. It was an illustrious history, based on the the last day of their conversion course to
Help for Poland came from many quarters, willingness of foreign pilots to ly in another ly Hurricanes, they were vectored onto a
but perhaps the most remarkable was the nations air force. It is dificult to imagine formation of German planes. Bombers and
squadron of American volunteer pilots formed a more itting background for the men who their ighter escort were returning after a raid
by Merian Cooper. Taking their place in the started training in Britain in August 1940. when 303 Squadron found them. Five kills
Polish Air Service as the 7th Squadron, they The men of 303 Squadron were immortalised were made quickly, while a sixth was added by
were nicknamed the Kosciuszko Squadron, in a book by Arkady Fiedler. While many unit Lieutenant Zdzisaw Henneberg after he had
after a Polish general that had served with histories are written long after the events, patiently followed a group of four retreating
the Americans during their own War of with aging veterans recalling their days of planes. Six kills, all Messerschmitt Bf 109s,
Independence. The squadrons badge, designed service, 303 Squadron is a very different text. had announced the arrival of the squadron in
by American pilot Elliott Chess, combined Written during the Battle of Britain, it has an no uncertain terms, and their admission to
American and Polish elements such as red and immediacy that instantly grips the reader. the oficial strength of the RAF was timely
white stripes and 13 blue stars (representing Fiedler was an emotive and emotional writer, German strategy had shifted to target Fighter
the original 13 American states) into an eye- but even the occasionally overblown rhetoric Command speciically.
catching emblem. cannot alter the fact that he offered a glimpse
Following the distinguished service of the inside the workings of a ighter squadron under The Luftwaffe attacks
American pilots (three of whom died during the the highest possible stress, and inside the Just as the shift to an air-based strategy
war), the Kosciuszko name was taken on by workings of the ighter pilots mind as well. suited the British, it caused problems for
111 Eskadra, part of the Pursuit Brigade, which The more-sensitive ighter pilots, Fiedler the Germans, who were used to combining
in turn provided the basis for 303 Squadron. wrote, clearly feel that their nerve ends reach their air and ground forces independent

Hawker Hurricanes
fly in formation

124
THE UNSUNG HEROES OF THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN

Feric (far left) with other members of 303


Squadron at RAF Northolt
THE ULTIMATE
SACRIFICE
MIROSAW FERIC SURVIVED INVASION,
EVACUATION AND THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN
BEFORE FINALLY LAYING DOWN HIS LIFE IN
AN RAF UNIFORM
Born in 1915 near Sarajevo, Feric moved to Poland
in 1919 and fought as part of the Pursuit Brigade
during the German invasion of 1939. He shared
in two kills, but also only narrowly escaped death
when forced to take to his parachute after another
sortie. He led to Romania on 17 September, and
then on to France, where he fought under Zdzisaw
Krasnodebski, who was also to become his
commanding oficer in 303 Squadron.
As well as destroying six German planes during
the Battle of Britain (four Bf 109s, a Bf 110 and an
He 111) he also somehow found time to set up a
squadron diary, the 303 Squadron Chronicle, which
has proved invaluable for students of the unit.
Following the Battle of Britain, Feric fought
on in Spitires, destroying one more Bf 109 and
damaging another, before he was killed in an
accident on 14 February 1942.
Awarded the Silver Cross of the Virtuti Militari, as

FOLLOWING THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN, FERIC FOUGHT ON IN well as the Cross of Valour (with two bars) and the
British DFC, Feric is buried in Northwood Cemetery

SPITFIRES, DESTROYING ONE MORE BF 109 in Middlesex. His name lives on as both a street
name and a primary school name in Poland.

air operations presented a new challenge. The Regia aeronautica, the


Famously, the British beneited from radar Italian air force, also took
part in the Battle of Britain
technology, but a far more prosaic system of
ground-based observers was also available
to Fighter Command and denied (obviously) to
the Germans.
German tactics initially involved lights of
Bf 110s (twin-engine heavy ighters), which
were supposed to lure in British ighter units
and leave the way clear for the bombers and
their single-seater ighter escorts. However,
the 110s suffered so badly they required their
own escorts, nullifying their effectiveness. The
ultimate symbol of the German way of warfare,
the Stuka dive-bomber, also proved unsuitable
for a role in the Battle of Britain. German
bombers, meanwhile, especially the Junkers Ju
88, were good planes, but their payloads were
small (the Ju 88 could carry 4,000 pounds of
bombs, while the Lancaster would haul up to
ive times as much on its missions).
German high command appeared unsure
over what strategy to pursue, targeting coastal
defences, shipping and cities as well as ighter
bases, but the overall aim was consistent,
at least as far as the Luftwaffe itself was
concerned it was aiming to knock out Fighter
Command. German bombers were initially
expected to manage with only small escorts,
as the ighters engaged their RAF counterparts.
The RAF, however, prioritised attacks on the
bomber formations, forcing the Germans to
unite bomber with ighter into the sort of mixed
formations that have become symbolic of the
battle. The formations presented a big target
to the pilots of 303 Squadron when they burst
onto the scene on 31 August, and they lost no
time in taking advantage.

125
303 SQUADRON

Wonderful madmen
The successes of 303 Squadron during the
Battle of Britain were so remarkable that
some began to question the accuracy of their
igures. Was it really possible for a group of
reckless Poles to be outperforming every
other RAF squadron? The group captain at RAF
Northolt, Stanley Vincent, wanted to be sure
and accompanied the squadron on a sortie
lown on 5 September. He could hardly have
chosen a better day. The nine Hurricanes that
303 Squadron could put in the air that day
accounted for eight German planes to the loss
of just one and all their pilots returned safely.
Vincent was amazed and delighted, calling his
Poles wonderful madmen.
The dash and courage of the Polish squadron
could not be denied, but following one of its
greatest days, it then suffered through one of
its most costly on 6 September. One pilot was The mascot of 303 Squadron,
Misia, sits atop the 178th German
killed, ive Hurricanes destroyed and Major aircraft destroyed by the unit
Zdzisaw Krasnodebski suffered severe facial
burns after his plane was hit. Despite the
terrible losses, the day was a triumph for the
squadron a defensive action that saw its nine
SOMETIMES THE MEN OF 303 SQUADRON ATTACKED, SOMETIMES
Hurricanes occupy huge numbers of German
ighters and help to break up a major assault.
THEY DEFENDED ALWAYS THEY WERE PUSHED TO THE LIMIT
By stripping a massive bomber formation manoeuvres and exceptional, superhuman not let them down. Despite the almost constant
of its cover, 303 Squadron had allowed other presence of mind can save him. action, the ground crews of 303 Squadron
units to get at the bombers themselves. Being The Battle of Britain played out in this failed to put 12 planes into the air on just
a ighter pilot wasnt always about attacking, fashion. Sometimes the men of 303 Squadron four occasions. It wasnt always the same 12
as Fiedler realised: A ighter pilots skill is attacked, sometimes they defended always planes. It wasnt always the same 12 pilots.
displayed not only in the offensive, but also they were pushed to the limit. The unsung The battle took a terrible toll on both groups,
in the defensive role, he wrote. Above all, in heroes of the squadron, the ground crews but the squadron was handing out more
the defensive role. While every soldier is easily (memorably described by Fiedler as the punishment than it was taking.
able to take cover from enemy ire, a ighter colourless roots of brilliant lowers) allowed 12 Dorniers were shot down on 7 September
pilot at an altitude of 20,000 feet has nothing the pilots to be sure of at least one thing as for the loss of two Hurricanes, with other British
but empty sky around him. Only lightning they ran to their Hurricanes: the planes would squadrons accounting for 61 planes and anti-
aircraft ire destroying another 28.

HURRICANE MK I
Then came a dizzying 15 minutes on 11
September a quarter of an hour in which
the squadron scored 17 kills when engaging
an airborne armada of 60 bombers, 40 Bf
LIVING IN THE SHADOW OF THE MORE ILLUSTRIOUS SPITFIRE, THE HURRICANE WAS 110s and 50 Bf 109s. The irst section of 303
ARGUABLY THE BACKBONE OF THE RAF DURING THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN Squadron, three planes, bypassed the ighters
The Hurricane comprised 55 per cent of Fighter German ighters, and a mixture of incendiary and and headed straight for the bomber formation.
Commands single-seat ighter force during the armour-piercing shells was used as well in an The second section held the German ighters
Battle of Britain. It was not as fast as the Spitire effort to compensate. at bay, allowing the third to also target the
(325 miles per hour compared to over 350 miles Propeller modiications were also introduced bombers. Finally, the fourth section joined in
per hour), but it made up for this by being a more through the battle, adding to the Hurricanes the holding action against the ighters.
robust machine. From mid-August, Hurricanes ceiling and boosting general performance. It was arguably the squadrons inest
were encouraged to concentrate on attacking hour, but it came at a cost. Ground crews at
bomber formations, with Spitires handling the
ighter escorts. IT WAS NOT AS FAST Biggin Hill watched in appalled fascination
as Sergeant Stefan Wjtowicz fought alone
Its Achilles heel, one that cost 303 Squadrons
Zdzisaw Krasnodebski dearly, was the lack of a AS THE SPITFIRE, BUT against nine Bf 109s, shooting two down before
inevitability caught up with him. Also dying that
self-sealing fuel tank. This defect was gradually
rectiied as the Battle of Britain progressed, but IT MADE UP FOR THIS day was Arsen Cebrzynski, killed by machine-
gun ire from a German bomber. RAF losses on
unmodiied Hurricanes were prone to erupting in
lames if hit in the fuselage-based tank. BY BEING A MORE the day totalled 24 planes and 17 pilots as well
as the two fatalities in 303 Squadron.
The Hurricanes eight .303 machine guns
also struggled against the tough armour of the ROBUST MACHINE By 15 September, the day that is now
commemorated as Battle of Britain Day, the
toll on 303 Squadron had become almost too
much to bear. Three sorties were lown, but the
grinding reality of the near-ceaseless combat
was made clear by the number of planes that
took part in each: 12 Hurricanes took to the air
in the irst sortie, nine in the second and just
four in the third. Despite this, the Polish ground
crews had 12 Hurricanes ready for action
by dawn the following day. The wonderful
madmen had a supporting cast every bit as
important as they were.

126
THE UNSUNG HEROES OF THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN

I have fought a good ght


The pilots of 303 Squadron were not
exclusively Polish. Two British, one Canadian
and one Slovakian also lew with the squadron,
alongside one of the most intriguing characters
of the entire war, the Czech pilot Josef
Frantiek. Unable to control his instincts when
in the air, he would leave his formation shortly

MESSERSCHMITT BF 109
after take-off and head for the Channel, where
he would wait, alone, to ambush returning
German planes after their missions. Perfecting
this technique to the level of an art form (the
THE GERMANS PREMIER FIGHTER IN THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN WAS A SUPERB
Polish pilots called it the Frantiek method), ALL-ROUNDER AND A WORTHY OPPONENT FOR THE HURRICANE AND SPITFIRE
he scored 17 kills in the Battle of Britain to add
to ten from the Battle of France, but his mental The Messerschmitt Bf 109 could make a damaged planes often had to be returned to
state gradually unwound due to the intense and credible claim to being the best ighter in the Germany for repair and aircraft production never
unrelenting pressure and he eventually died in Battle of Britain. hit targets. Only 775 109s were produced during
tragically needless circumstances, crashing his The superior armament of the 109 (a pair of the critical four-month period from June to
plane while executing a victory roll. 20mm cannons were teamed with two 7.9mm September 1940.
The squadron remains most famous, machine-guns) gave them a hefty punch,
however, for its 37 Polish pilots, nine of
whom died in the six weeks the squadron
while they enjoyed signiicant performance
advantages over both Hurricanes and Spitires THE MESSERSCHMITT
was operational during the battle. During
those six weeks, they shot down 126 German
at higher altitudes. Richard Overy has claimed
that if the Battle of Britain had been fought at BF 109 COULD MAKE A
planes, the highest total of any squadron in
the RAF. No less an authority than Dowding at
30,000 feet, the RAF would have lost it.
The 109 also beneitted from extensive CREDIBLE CLAIM TO BEING
Fighter Command recognised the tremendous
contribution made by the foreign pilots when
armour, added prior to the Battle of Britain,
which protected the pilot, but it could not turn as THE BEST FIGHTER IN THE
he said: Had it not been for the magniicent
material contributed by the Polish squadrons
and their unsurpassed gallantry, I hesitate to
tightly as the British ighters and the Germans
also suffered badly in the logistical department; BATTLE OF BRITAIN
say that the outcome of the battle would have
been the same. days of action at the end of September. He while, but its war was not over. It returned to
The Polish pilots within the RAF had at times inished with 15 victories to become the most action in 1941, this time in Spitires.
appeared to be almost unstoppable. Sergeant successful Polish pilot of the Battle of Britain. The memorial to the Polish airmen who
Antoni Gowacki, of 501 Squadron, downed Although the battle was not to oficially end fought during World War II was unveiled at RAF
ive German planes on 28 August, until 30 October, 303 Squadrons contribution Northolt in 1948, carrying the names of the
becoming an ace in a day, while came to a conclusion on the 11th of that month 2,408 men who gave their lives and bearing a
303 Squadrons Witold Urbanowicz when the exhausted men were moved to RAF simple but poignant inscription: I have fought
was known as the ace of aces, once Leconield for some badly needed respite. The a good ight, I have inished my course, I have
shooting down nine German planes in three proud squadron became a training unit for a kept the faith.
Front row from left, Polish flying ace
Jan Zumbach, Wing Commander
Stefan Witorzenc and Flight Lieutenant
Zygmunt Bienkowski of 303 Squadron

127
303 SQUADRON

In Hurricanes, 303 Squadron


engaged German bombers while
Spitires took on the ighters

128
THE UNSUNG HEROES OF THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN

HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR THE MAGNIFICENT MATERIAL


CONTRIBUTED BY THE POLISH SQUADRONS AND THEIR
UNSURPASSED GALLANTRY, I HESITATE TO SAY THAT THE
OUTCOME OF THE BATTLE WOULD HAVE BEEN THE SAME
AIR CHIEF MARSHAL HUGH DOWDING

Images: Alamy, Getty, Mark Postlethwaite, Topfoto

129
GENIUS OF THE

130
GENIUS OF THE DESERT FOX

The tragic story of


T
he legend of Erwin Johannes Eugen greatest commanders was rejected twice
Rommel has been irmly entrenched before joining the infantry in 1910. He became
Nazi Germanys most in Western history for over 60 years.
Unquestionably Hitlers most-famous general,
a career oficer, serving throughout the First
World War, and was decorated with the Pour
famous general, whose at the heart of his myth lies a remarkable
man; driven, brilliant and supremely skilled, yet
le Mrite, Germanys equivalent of the Victoria
Cross. During the interwar years he became an
genius and audacity also lawed. Rommel could be brash, volatile
and arrogant, and suffered from bouts of
instructor, training oficers in the aggressive
infantry tactics hed developed during the
led him to be revered depression. At the peak of his carer in January
1942, Winston Churchill described him as
war. With the rise of the Nazi Party, Germany
again turned to her military, and Rommel
by both friend and foe a very daring and skilful opponent a great
general. In addition to being a great tank
found himself commanding the bodyguard of
Germanys new Chancellor, Adolf Hitler.
commander, Rommel was a brilliant tactician
and exceptional leader, as well as a loving The Invasion of France
father and doting husband. On 1 August 1939, Rommel was promoted
He commanded the devotion of his men and to Major General, commanding Hitlers
the respect of his enemies, becoming a legend headquarters during the coming invasion of
in northern France and the deserts of North Poland. Just a month later, at 4.50am on
Africa. Using his trademark cunning and the morning of 1 September, German forces
audacity, he beat the odds stacked against crossed the Polish border.
him on the battleield, only meeting his In charge of the security for Hitlers
downfall when he became embroiled in headquarters, Rommel was in a position to
a world of politics he little cared learn all he could of Germanys new way of war
for, and didnt fully grasp. Blitzkrieg. He found this tactic completely in
Born in 1891 in southern step with his own decisive and energetic style
Germany, Rommel of ighting. The general enjoyed an increasingly
joined the army at 18. close relationship with the Fhrer, lunching
Ironically, the man who with him and being invited to attend brieings.
would prove to be one Writing home excitedly to his wife Lucie, he
of modern warfares exclaimed: I was able to talk with him for

HE COMMANDED THE DEVOTION OF HIS


MEN AND THE RESPECT OF HIS ENEMIES,
BECOMING A LEGEND IN NORTHERN FRANCE
AND THE DESERTS OF NORTH AFRICA

131
ROMMEL

THE GROWING ADMIRATION BETWEEN THE TWO ENCOURAGED ROMMEL TO ASK HITLER
FOR WHAT HE REALLY LONGED FOR COMMAND OF ONE OF THE NEW PANZER DIVISIONS

Rommel and his staff rest on


the grass while planning their
next advance through France

about two hours yesterday evening, on military


problems. Hes extraordinarily friendly toward
me! The growing admiration between the two
encouraged Rommel to ask Hitler for what he
THE FOXS FORMATIVE YEARS
FROM A SICKLY CHILD TO DECORATED
In 1915 he was awarded
the Iron Cross for raiding
French bunkers in the
really longed for command of one of the new WAR VETERAN Argonne forest, losing just a
Panzer divisions. Born in Wrttemberg, southern Germany, dozen men. In Italy Rommel
In February 1940, Rommels wish was Rommel was a sickly youth with dreams of excelled, displaying a
granted, and he was ordered to take command becoming an aeronautical engineer. At 18 his lair for independent and
of the 7th Panzer Division. Early each morning father persuaded him to join the army, but both decisive action and in 1918
he jogged a mile, intent on regaining his itness the artillery and engineers rejected him, before was awarded Germanys
after months spent with Hitlers headquarters. the infantry accepted him in 1910. Described highest gallantry award, the Pour le Mrite,
He was determined to be as it for the coming by his Commandant as irm in character, with the famed Blue Max. He ended the war as a
campaign as any of his young oficers in just immense willpower and keen enthusiasm a captain, and despite its post-war decimation,
three months, Rommel had to learn his new useful soldier. Rommel proved himself more remained in the army. During the inter-war
role as a Panzer commander. He feverishly than just a useful soldier during World War years he published several books on aggressive
trained and experimented with his new One. Fighting in France, Romania and Italy with infantry tactics. By 1937 he had reached the
command, devouring all the information bravery, skill and tenacity, he became adept at rank of Colonel and gained the attention of
on tank warfare he could ind. On 9 May, leading raiding parties behind enemy lines. Germanys new Chancellor, Adolf Hitler.
Rommel received the order to ready his division
for war. He frantically wrote a brief letter home,
ending it with: Its going to be all right. We they were, earning them the nickname the among the Allies. On 15 May, after leading
jump off at dusk, how long weve been waiting Ghost Division. Naturally, Rommel led from the his division through the French town of
for this moment! front, as his division burst out of the Ardennes Avesnes, Rommel and his staff paused
At dawn the next morning, the invasion of forest to cross the Meuse river. Seeing when a French woman tapped him on the
France began, and in just 20 days Rommel engineers building a pontoon bridge under shoulder to ask, Are you English? Rommel
tore across northern France in what he later heavy ire, he leapt into the river waist-deep to politely replied in French; No maam, Im
described as a lightning Tour de France. The help them. German! Realising her mistake the French
7th Panzer Division moved so fast that at times The speed and unexpected direction of the Woman ran back to her house screaming
not even German high command knew where German advance caused much confusion Oh, barbarians!

132
GENIUS OF THE DESERT FOX

BLITZKRIEG
GERMANYS REVOLUTIONARY LIGHTNING WAR THAT BROUGHT
FRANCE TO ITS KNEES
Between 1939 and 1941, Nazi Blitzkrieg met its irst test during
Germanys army swept through the invasion of Poland in 1939 when
Europe, overwhelming all German Panzers and Stuka dive-
resistance. The secret to their bombers smashed the Polish army in
success was a new kind of war just a month. A year later, on 10 May
Blitzkrieg. This combined a 1940, the Panzers burst through the
Panzer spearhead that punched Ardennes Forest and raced across
through the enemys lines with France, reaching the Channel in just
close air support a concept seven days a journey of over 200
alien to the Allies in 1940 miles. Erich von Manstein and Heinz
and fast-moving mechanised Guderian masterminded the German
infantry following up the Panzers, strategy for the invasion of France
exploiting their advance. This armoured divisions were to break
new combined-arms doctrine through French lines and sweep west psychologically shattered, harassed of May, leaving the French to ight
was developed in Germany by to the channel, causing the strategic by the Luftwaffe and unable to muster on alone until they collapsed and
Heinz Guderian, who knew the collapse of the Allies. for a counterattack. Outmanoeuvred, surrendered on 22 June 1940. The
key to rapid, decisive action was Allied forces were stunned by the the British Expeditionary Force was concept of Blitzkrieg remains at
communication between the speed of the German advance forced to retreat to Dunkirk and the heart of modern mechanised
armys individual elements. within days they were was evacuated at the end warfare today.

Rommel recognised that maintaining


momentum was critical, and he was willing to THE BATTLE OF FRANCE HAD BEEN
outpace the slower elements of the army to
achieve success. He knew that despite the A STUNNING SUCCESS. SOME OF
risks to his rear and lanks, by pressing deep
into enemy territory he could deal a devastating HIS PANZERS HAD FOUGHT THEIR
blow to Allied morale and cohesion. The only
time Rommels strategy was threatened was WAY FROM SEDAN TO THE CHANNEL
on 20 May when a hastily cobbled together
British brigade launched a counterattack into IN JUST SEVEN DAYS, COVERING AN
his divisions lank near Arras. As British tanks
attacked his position, Rommel was once
again in the thick of the action. Despite being
ASTOUNDING 200 MILES
exhausted by ten days of constant ighting, he
began directing artillery ire onto the enemy including the entire 51st Highland Division and
tanks. In his diary Rommel described just the garrison of Cherbourg. Rommels success
how close the action was: Only rapid vindicated his bold, swift and decisive style
ire from every gun could save the of command.
situation. We ran from gun to gun
All I cared about was to halt the Into the desert
enemy tanks by heavy gunire. In February 1941, the general was
Rommel only realised how given command of an expeditionary
dangerous the situation had force and ordered to rally routed
been when his aide, who had Italian forces in Libya. Over the
helped him sight the guns, next two years Rommel and the
fell mortally wounded. Afrika Korps covered thousands
He remained resolute, of miles of desert in some
rallying his division of the harshest conditions
to beat off the imaginable oppressive
attack. While the heat, choking sandstorms
counterattack and the constant
never posed a shortage of water and
real threat to the fuel. The terrain of the
German offensive, western Desert was
it is notable as the unique, a lat, stony
irst time Rommel plain 200 kilometres
engaged the British wide, separating the
in battle. Mediterranean and the
Blitzkrieg perfectly dunes of the Sahara. In
suited Rommels style of ighting and April 1941, without waiting
leadership. The battle for France had for his whole force to land, Rommel
been a stunning success. Some of his sensed an opportunity and struck the
Panzers had fought their way from British, taking them by surprise and
Sedan to the Channel in just seven pushing them back 900 kilometres
days, covering an astounding Rommel irst engaged British force
to the Egyptian border. The audacity
200 miles. He had captured during the Invasion of France, but would and initiative of this attack became
over 100,000 enemy troops, soon meet them again in North Africa his trademark.

133
ROMMEL

WHEN THERE WAS DANGER, HE WAS


ALWAYS OUT IN FRONT CALLING ON US TO
FOLLOW. HE SEEMED TO KNOW NO FEAR
WHATEVER. HIS MEN IDOLISED HIM
Theodor Werner Rommels aide

THE AFRIKA KORPS


GERMANYS ELITE DESERT WARRIORS HONED BY ERWIN ROMMEL
The Deutsches Afrikakorps (DAK) was formed in Deployed in the shadow of
February 1941, made up of just two divisions. preparations for Operation Barbarossa,
Rommel was placed in command and rushed the invasion of Russia, the DAK was never
into action to Libya to bolster the reeling Italian made up of more than three divisions. By
forces there. early 1942, Axis forces in North Africa had
While the Afrika Korps became the Allies been reconstituted as Panzerarmee Afrika,
catch-all term for Axis forces in North Africa, with Rommel directly commanding both
the DAK was actually only part of a larger the Afrika Korps and six Italian divisions.
German-Italian force. When it arrived it boasted Under Rommels leadership the Korps gained
300 tanks, with the majority of these being a reputation as an elite force, always under-
the lightly armed and armoured Panzers I and supplied and often relying on captured vehicles
II. Rommel also had a number of the more and fuel, but renowned for its toughness and
formidable Panzer III and IV. ighting ability.

134
GENIUS OF THE DESERT FOX

It was in the desert that Rommel showed his


true brilliance, bringing together a disparate, UNLIKE TYPICAL CORPS
poorly equipped and under-supplied army.
Leading them across thousands of miles of
desert, he used his instinct and daring to out-
COMMANDERS, WHO REMAINED
fox half a dozen British generals. Rommel had
the ability to inspire those around him with his
IN THEIR HEADQUARTERS
own professional enthusiasm, from the lowliest
private to the brigade commanders. His aide,
DIRECTING TROOPS FROM
Theodor Werner, later recalled: Anybody who
once came under the spell of his personality THE REAR THROUGHOUT
turned into a real soldier. However tough the
strain, he seemed inexhaustible. Rommel ENGAGEMENTS, ROMMEL ALWAYS
himself knew it, and in March 1941 wrote home
to Lucie that much depends on my own person FAVOURED BEING AT THE FRONT,
and my driving power.
Unlike typical corps commanders, who LEADING HIS MEN IN SECTORS HE
IDENTIFIED AS CRUCIAL
remained in their headquarters directing
troops from the rear throughout engagements,
Rommel always favoured being at the front,
leading his men in sectors he identiied as riding in the turret of his command tank. With The Desert Foxs reputation for cunning and
crucial. Werner remembered that, When there success came fame at home, and in 1941, improvisation became legendary he used
was danger, he was always out in front calling Joseph Goebbels newspaper Das Reich tricks such as having trucks drag brush behind
on us to follow. He seemed to know no fear attempted to re-write his life story painting them to kick up enough dust to simulate an
whatever. His men idolised him. him as one of the Nazi Partys loyalist early advance, only to strike elsewhere. He lured the
Rommels successes cemented his members. Rommel was outraged ever his own unsuspecting Allies into deadly traps by feinting
reputation as the Wehrmachts most popular man, he had never been a member of the Nazi advances to draw in British tanks, only to lead
general. The 50-year-old general cut a dashing Party. Despite the possibly fatal consequences, them into ambushes. Most famously, at the
igure in his leather jacket and dust goggles, he demanded the lies be retracted, and Das Battle of Gazala, Rommel unexpectedly fell
Reich was compelled to print the correction of back to entice the British to attack into what
the generals background. he described as the Cauldron, where they

DESERT CAMPAIGN
THE LEGEND OF THE DESERT FOX IS BORN
Rommel had a reputation
for leading from the front,
directing his men personally

Rommel arrived in Libya in February 1941,


tasked with saving the Italian army. Even
before all of the Afrika Korps had arrived,
he sensed an advantage. Rallying his Italian
allies, he stuck at the British Western Desert
Force, halting their advance and pushing them
back to the Libyan-Egyptian border, before
laying siege to Tobruk. This began two years
of battle, which raged up and down the North
African coast. In November 1941, the British
launched Operation Crusader, relieving the
embattled port and forcing Rommel to fall
back to El Agheila where his offensive had
begun months earlier.
After being resupplied, Rommel launched
his second offensive in May 1942, catching
the British off guard again and capturing
Tobruk. His audacity paid off, and he sent
superior Allied forces reeling back into Egypt.
By July 1942, months of heavy ighting and
a supply line stretched over 1,000km left
Rommel with just 13 operational tanks both
armies were exhausted. The Fox was unable
to convince Hitler that the campaign in North
Africa was as vital as the invasion of Russia.
As a result, the Afrika Korps was chronically
under-equipped and under-supplied. In
September, General Montgomerys 8th Army
struck back irst at Alam El Halfa and again
at El Alamein. Rommels last roll of the dice
was anticipated by Montgomery, so the Afrika
Korps was forced to begin a long and arduous
retreat back to Tunisia. In March 1943,
Rommel was recalled back to Berlin and in
May the remnants of the once superior Afrika
Korps surrendered.

135
ROMMEL

Rommel and his staff


inspecting the beach defences
along the French coast

were picked off by carefully hidden anti-tank terrible thoughts. On 10 March, the Desert Fox
guns. For his victory at Gazala, Rommel was
promoted to Field Marshal in June 1942.
was relieved of command in North Africa and
placed on sick leave. DEFENDING NORMANDY
PREPARING HITLERS ATLANTIC WALL
However, Rommels luck could not hold Not even Rommels tactical genius could
forever, and by mid-1942 he had overstretched outweigh the numerical superiority the Allies As early as 1941, Hitler and the German high
himself raiding into Egypt in the hope of brought to bear against the Afrika Korps. It is command began planning on how they would
shattering the Allies resolve as he had in a testament to true skill that he was able to defend the Third Reichs extensive coastline. In
France. While the desert was a tacticians achieve so much with so little. March 1942, Fhrer Directive 40 oficially ordered
paradise, it was a logistical nightmare, the construction of a series of defences along
and Rommel struggled to supply his men Defending Fortress Europe the western coast of Europe running for 1,670
throughout the campaign, relying on captured After a brief posting to Italy, where Axis forces miles from the northern shores of Norway to the
Allied supplies. At one point in July 1942, he failed to push back the Allied invasion, Rommel Bay of Biscay. The construction of what became
had just 13 operational tanks, and was again was transferred to France and tasked with known as the Atlantic Wall saw thousands of
forced to retreat into Libya. He wrote home in inspecting and improving Hitlers Atlantic Wall. bunkers, gun batteries and resistance posts
despair to Lucie: This means the end. You can He understood that in Italy the Axis had lost the built. 40 million tonnes of concrete, 1.2 million
imagine what kind of mood Im in The dead initiative by allowing the enemy to consolidate tons of steel and thousands of miles worth of
are lucky, its all over for them. once they had landed. In France, he argued that barbed wire were used. In Northern France alone,
General Montgomery, the new commander it was essential that they position troops close 6 million mines were laid and the beaches were
of the British 8th Army, had studied Rommels to the coast to counterattack immediately, but peppered with Czech hedgehogs, Belgian gates
tactics and prepared meticulously. The British this was challenged by his immediate superior, and Hemmbalk obstacles for ripping out the
general defeated his rival at Alam el Halfa and Field Marshal von Rundstedt. bottoms of landing craft.
El Alamein with an overwhelming superiority in Despite the static nature of the Atlantic The cost of building the Wall is thought to
tanks, men and aircraft. With the odds stacked Walls coastal defences hampering Rommels have been a colossal 3.7 billion Deutschmarks.
against him, Rommel wrote home in despair: style of mobile warfare, his keenly practical Despite this, the Normandy beaches targeted by
Nobody can ever know the burden that lies on mind was able to improve the defences. He was Operation Overlord were considerably weaker
me, all the cards are stacked against us. shocked to see how incomplete the work on the than those in the Pas de Calais area, where the
In February 1943, he won one last battle at defences was in various sectors, and was able German high command anticipated the landings
the Kasserine Pass against US troops, but with to tackle technical problems almost as well as would take place. The Luftwaffe had just 400
limited ability to seize the initiative and exploit he did tactical ones. He set about peppering planes stationed in France, and the 50,000
his early success, he decided to retreat before the beaches with obstacles and illing the troops available in Normandy were made up
the Allies could concentrate their forces. By open ields near the coast with poles called of invalids and second-rate units. While the
March, Rommel was physically and mentally Rommelspargel, or Rommels asparagus, 130,000 Allied troops that landed on 6 June met
spent, with his letters home increasingly which would make it dificult for Allied gliders to with initial success, they werent able to break
despondent: The end will not be long for land safely. out of the beachhead until August in part due
were being simply crushed by the enemy The Wehrmachts standard tactic for to the dogged defence that Rommel organised.
superiority I wish I could get free of these dealing with amphibious landings involved a

136
GENIUS OF THE DESERT FOX

concentration of panzer and panzergrenadier


divisions on the enemy beachhead. However,
this took vital days to prepare, and the strategy Despite being supported by Hitler early on in
the war, Rommel became implicated in plots to
had failed a year earlier in Italy. Rommel began assassinate the Fhrer
to consider alternative strategies, believing
that the enemys entire landing operation
must under no circumstances be allowed to
last longer than a matter of hours and that the
invasion could only be crushed on the beaches.
As his frustration at being unable to deploy
his troops as he wished grew, he frequently
took it out on his staff. One of his corps
commanders in Normandy wrote home, saying,
If theres something he doesnt like, then all
his pigheaded rudeness comes out. In early
1944, he passionately argued to Hitler that if
we dont manage to throw them back at once,
the invasion will succeed in spite of the Atlantic
Wall! However, depression and self-doubt
again consumed him as he became bogged
down by his feud with Von Rundstedt over the
positioning of troops close enough to the coast
to strike quickly. In April 1944, he wrote in his
diary: And what will history say in passing its
verdict on me? If I am successful here, then
everybody else will claim all the glory if I fail
here, then everybody will be after my blood.
Despite these setbacks to his preparations,
the general lost none of his grounded spirit
as a soldier. In May 1944, he again displayed
the chivalry for which he had become known
when he interrogated Captain Roy Wooldridge,
a British engineer captured while scouting the
Normandy beaches. Two years earlier, Hitler
had ordered that all captured commandos were
to be shot. Instead, Rommel gave Wooldridge a
ROMMEL & HITLER
THE GENERAL AND HIS PATRON
Rommel with pleasant memories. With Hitlers
patronage, Rommel, who had stagnated as a
captain for 15 years, rose to Field Marshal in
packet of cigarettes and a meal before sending Rommel was uninterested in politics, but like just four years. Isolated in North Africa for two
him to a POW camp. many he was ensnared by Hitlers charisma, years, it was not until his return in 1943 that he
On 6 June 1944, the Allies launched believing him to be the best hope for Germanys realised the extent of Hitlers madness and the
Operation Overlord, the long-anticipated future. In 1937, Hitler had been impressed hopelessness of Germanys situation.
invasion of France. As the enemy hit the by Rommels book Infantry Attacks, and in As the war dragged on, Hitler became
beaches, Rommel was at home in Ulm visiting 1938 appointed him the armys liaison to the increasingly deluded, refusing to listen to
Lucie and his son Manfred. On hearing of Hitler Youth before giving him command of reason. With each attempt Rommel made to
the landings, he raced back to his his bodyguard in 1939. During the invasion of convince Hitler the war was lost, the further
headquarters. Throughout June, Rommel Poland, Hitler and Rommel became closer and from grace he fell. Finally, in late June 1944,
doggedly threw his men into the battle. At Rommel enthusiastically wrote home telling during a meeting of senior commanders,
Villers-Bocage, Panzers and Allied tanks Lucie that Hitler had made soldiers worth Rommel was determined to question the
clashed in the regions narrow country lanes. something again. Fhrers plans. Hitler reacted furiously and
Around Caen, his troops managed to beat off As Rommel left to command the 7th Panzer dismissed him. Following the failed 20 July plot,
successive Allied attacks. Rommel was no less division, Hitler handed him a farewell gift, a Rommel was implicated and an increasingly
energetic in Normandy than he had been in the copy of Mein Kampf inscribed: To General paranoid Hitler ordered his death.
desert, frequently covering 200 miles a day
meeting with his commanders.
horrendous head injuries, and the irst surgeon commanded from not just fellow oficers but
The Foxs Downfall to examine him did not expect him to live. As also the enemy, the conspirators approached
In North Africa, Rommel had been his own had become characteristic of him, he would Rommel in early 1944. He was told of plans for
master, blissfully detached from Hitler and defy the odds and survive. However, his luck a coup dtat to remove the Fhrer from power.
high command. Once back in Europe, he found wouldnt hold out. The Fox, by his very nature, was loyal. Writing
himself embroiled in military and party politics By late 1944 it had become clear that to his son Manfred in 1943, he said, Only
and bogged down by the chain of command. Germany could not win the war, and it was the man who has learned how to obey, even
But regardless of his growing pessimism and Hitlers decisions that were dragging the against his better instincts and convictions, will
arguments with superiors, Rommel had thrown country down, so a group of oficers began to make a capable oficer. Despite this, Rommel
himself into the defence of Caen, organising plot how they could remove Hitler and make had been questioning his own convictions
a layered defence with hundreds of guns. peace. Because of his popularity among the and loyalty to Hitler. While he did not become
Montgomerys attack on the city loundered in German people, as well as the respect he directly involved, he became inexorably linked
what was to be the Foxs last victory.
Several days later, on the evening of 17 July,
Rommels staff car was driving down the main
road towards Vimoutiers when a pair of roaming ROMMEL HAD NO KNOWLEDGE OF THE PLAN TO DETONATE A BOMB
Spitires dived, straing his car with cannon
and machine-gun ire. Rommels mortally AT THE MEETING WITH HITLER, BUT THE PLOTS FAILURE WOULD HAVE
wounded driver wrestled to keep control, but
the car careened into a tree. Rommel suffered TRAGIC CONSEQUENCES FOR THE RECOVERING FIELD MARSHAL
137
ROMMEL

ROMMEL HAD THROWN HIMSELF INTO


THE DEFENCE OF CAEN, ORGANISING
A LAYERED DEFENCE WITH HUNDREDS
OF GUNS. MONTGOMERYS ATTACK ON
THE CITY FLOUNDERED IN WHAT WAS
TO BE THE FOXS LAST VICTORY

Photographed while inspecting the


Atlantic Wall in France, designed
to stop the Allied invasion

138
GENIUS OF THE DESERT FOX

to the conspirators. On 20 July 1944, as


Rommel lay unconscious in hospital recovering ROMMEL FACED THIS BETRAYAL AND IMPENDING DEATH WITH THE SAME
from his wounds, an explosion ripped through a
meeting room at Hitlers eastern headquarters,
the Wolfs Lair. Hitler survived with minor
BRAVERY HE HAD DISPLAYED ON THE BATTLEFIELD COUNTLESS TIMES
injuries, but became gripped by paranoia and a draped in a swastika, against the Foxs wishes,
massive investigation was launched. Rommel while Nazi party members eulogised. Hitler did
had no knowledge of the plan to detonate a not attend. His wife Lucie was forced to remain
bomb at the meeting with Hitler, but the plots quiet about the truth behind her husbands
failure would have tragic consequences for death throughout the spectacle.
the recovering Field Marshal. Rommels name The legend of this talented commander has
was found on a list of oficers who would be endured for over 60 years, with his masterful
key after a coup, and was even mentioned by use of terrain and his ability to predict his
tortured conspirators. enemys next move marking him out as one of
As the war in Europe entered its inal stages, modern warfares greatest generals. Rommel
Rommel continued his recovery at his home shot to fame as the energetic commander of
near Ulm. On Hitlers orders, the Gestapo the 7th Panzer division, but it was in the vast
was busy rooting out and executing dozens of deserts of North Africa that his reputation as
conspirators, and on 14 October two generals a tactical genius was cemented. Despite his
told him he had been implicated in the plot. laws and struggles with depression, his ability
They gave him a grim choice; a show trial before to inspire men and use guile and cunning to
the Peoples Court or commit suicide with the outwit his enemies was phenomenal. He was
guarantee his family would be safe. charismatic and honourable one of very few
Rommel faced this betrayal and impending senior German commanders that not only

Images: Alamy; Corbis; Getty


death with the same bravery he had displayed ignored, but directly challenged Hitlers orders
on the battleield countless times. Weighing to kill Jewish soldiers and civilians, as well as
up his situation, he chose to commit suicide. captured Allied commandos.
Saying goodbye to his wife and son, he left with His legacy is unique among his
the generals. 30 minutes later, the Fox was contemporaries, as he is the only general of the
dead. Oficial reports claimed hed suffered a Third Reich to have a museum dedicated in his
heart attack, but in truth hed taken the cyanide honour. He is immortalised as a brilliantly able
that the generals had brought with them from commander who was betrayed by the regime he
Berlin. Rommels state funeral saw his cofin had loyally served.

Against
his wishes,
Rommels
funeral was
adorned
with all the
trappings of
the Nazi party

139
WAR IN FOCUS

140
WAR IN FOCUS

in

FIRE FOR EFFECT


Taken May 1945
With a range of around 40 yards, this terrifying
lame-throwing tank was developed by the Army
Chemical Warfare Service. Pictured during
manoeuvres at Fort Benning, Georgia,
the lame-thrower its into the standard
machine gun mount under the turret.
Many Allied and Axis tanks were
altered to shoot lame
during WWII.

Nara Archives/REX 141


Heroes of the Medal of Honor

BENJAMIN F. WILSON
This one-man army led the charge in an uphill struggle, single-handedly
taking on Communist forces in Korea to protect his platoon

T
he Medal of Honor is the highest military The hydroelectric dam was not only a
honour in the United States, awarded
for personal acts of conspicuous FOR VALOUR strategic asset, because it was a source of
power for South Korea, but also because it
gallantry and going beyond the call of duty. The USAs highest military honour is could be used to lood downstream areas. At
The medal was awarded to First Lieutenant awarded to members of the armed midnight on 8 April 1951, Chinese and North
Benjamin F. Wilson by President Eisenhower forces for exceptional acts of valour in Korean forces captured the dam and opened
himself for the oficers heroic actions single- combat. This is when service personnel have gone the spillway gates, raising the Han River level by
beyond the call of duty, often placing themselves in
handedly taking on enemy forces during the dificult situations beyond reasonable expectation. four feet and washing away ive loating bridges.
Korean War. Despite serving in two wars, These included connections to the United
Wilsons military career almost passed entirely WHY DID HE WIN IT? Nations Command the headquarters of the
without distinction of any kind. He enlisted For showing outstanding bravery in both multinational Allies in Korea.
in the US Army in 1940 aged 18, seeking leading the charge against an enemy force The Allies initial attempts to take back the
escape from his sleepy seaside home in and providing cover ire so that his troops reservoir were beset by problems. The 7th
could safely retreat. He even received a Cavalry Regiment attacked north towards the
Washington. Stationed at Schoield Barracks,
life-threatening injury.
Hawaii, he reached the rank of Corporal when dam, but only made it within half a mile before
the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 being pushed back by Communist forces. As
December 1941. There is little known about
WHERE WAS THE BATTLE? well as the enemy holding the higher ground,
Near Hwachon-Myon, South Korea
Wilsons actions on that day, though he once the terrain made ground assaults on the
joked that the Japanese bombing woke him up WHEN DID IT TAKE PLACE? reservoir even more challenging for the Allies.
from a rare lie-in. 5 June 1951 The hilly countryside and poor roads meant
He was later commissioned as a Second that armoured vehicles couldnt make it to the
Lieutenant in 1942, after attending the Oficer WHEN WAS HE AWARDED THE MEDAL? dam, while it was also much harder to transport
Candidates School. But despite frequently 7 September 1954 artillery, so only one battery of 155mm
applying for combat service, Wilsons WWII howitzers could range the dam, rather than the
experience passed peacefully, with the Army WHAT WAS THE POPULAR REACTION? three battalions that were assigned. This also
keeping him stateside in training roles. While Wilsons exploits were not widely made it dificult to deliver boats for amphibious
Having never seen active duty, when the war reported in the press, he was honoured with assault on the dam.
was over Wilson resigned his commission and a Distinguished Service Cross and Purple Ultimately, the Allies were only able to stop
returned home to Vashon Island, Washington. Heart along with his Medal of Honor, and enemy forces from using the dam as a weapon
However, working in the lumber mills didnt later went on to become a Major. with the help of air support. On 30 April, AD-4
agree with him, and he was back in uniform Skyraiders dropped 2,000-pound bombs on
within nine months. Even with the looming the reservoir, along with rocket ire. However,
threat of the USSR in the Cold War, the United 1951, his experience had seen him promoted this still wasnt enough to destroy the 20-foot-
States Army was thinning its ranks, and to First Sergeant in Company I, 3rd Battalion, tall and 40-foot-wide steel lood gates, which
recruitment oficers told Wilson they had no 31st Infantry Regiment, part of the 7th Infantry were reinforced with concrete. Eight Skyraiders
need for a lieutenant, even an experienced one. Division. On 5 June, his company was charged had to return the next day armed with MK13
Wilson was more interested in action than rank, with taking the largest hill overlooking the air torpedoes the last time this weapon was
so re-enlisted as a private recruit all over again Hwachon Reservoir. Also known as Limbos ever used in combat to be able to destroy one
and was sent to Korea. Dam, or Hells Waiting Room, the dam had sluice gate and damage many others.
It was here that Wilson inally got the chance proven a focal point for ighting between Allied Though the attack had negated the military
to prove himself in battle. By the summer of and Communist forces in recent months. value of the dam, the Allies still wanted to

142
BENJAMIN F. WILSON

President Eisenhower
shaking hands with
Benjamin F Wilson

143
HEROES OF THE MEDAL OF HONOR

03 Counter strike
While friendly forces
are consolidating the newly
won gains, Communist forces
hit back in greater numbers.
05 A last stand
While the rest of the
company evacuates, Wilson
Realising the risk of being
overrun, Wilson again leads a
lone-man charge, killing seven
charges forward. He shoots
and wounding two of the enemy.
three more enemy soldiers,
The Allies pushed on within 15
and even when the North
yards of the peak, before having
Koreans wrestle his rile
to retreat due to heavy ire.
from him, he kills four more
using a shovel. Though
Wilson is unable to keep
the hill, his delaying action
enables his comrades to
reorganise and make an
orderly withdrawal.

02 Gaining ground
With the sub-machine gunners
taken out, the Allies are able to push
further up the hill. While his troops
provide a base of ire, Wilson leads
a bayonet attack further up the hill,
which gains them further ground and
kills 27 more North Korean soldiers.

01 Leading the charge


At the outset of the
mission to take back a summit
known as Hell Hill from a large,
entrenched North Korean force,
the Allies are held back by enemy
gunire. First Sergeant Benjamin
F Wilson advances solo, killing
four enemies manning sub-
machine guns.

144
BENJAMIN F. WILSON

Praise for a hero

Lieutenant Wilsons sustained valor and


intrepid actions reflect utmost credit upon
himself and uphold the honored traditions of
the military service
Oficial citation for Wilsons Medal of Honor

regain control of it. Wilsons company had been in pain, Wilson got up from the stretcher and
sent to capture the nearby summit, which in made his way back up the hill in spite of his
the coming days would earn the nickname Hell injuries. However, at this point everyone else
Hill. Wilson was soon caught in a literal uphill was retreating, so he was almost the only US
struggle, with his men taking on a much larger soldier on the offensive.
enemy force that was ensconced in heavily Already injured and greatly outnumbered,
fortiied positions on the peak. Wilson pushed on against seemingly
As the North Koreans rained down small insurmountable odds. He charged the enemy
arms and automatic weapon ire, preventing the ranks with his rile, killing three enemy soldiers.
Allies from being able to move forward, Wilson When enemy soldiers physically wrestled the
charged ahead, iring his rile and throwing rile from his hands, he pulled out his standard-
grenades. The heroic action killed four enemy issue entrenching shovel and beat four more
soldiers manning sub-machine guns, allowing enemies to death. This delaying action enabled
the Allies to get a foothold on the hill. With his comrades to make an orderly withdrawal.
supporting forces providing cover ire, Wilson While this is the instance that earned Wilson
led a bayonet attack further up the hill, killing the Medal of Honor, the story doesnt end there.
27 more North Koreans. The next day he killed 33 more Chinese soldiers
While the company tried to consolidate with his rile, bayonet and hand grenades in
its position on the hill, the enemy launched another one-man assault. In the process, he
a counterattack. Lieutenant Wilson, having reopened the wounds he suffered the day before
realised the imminent threat of being overrun, and was inally evacuated to a hospital. He was
made another lone-man charge, killing seven again recommended for the Medal of Honor,
soldiers, wounding two, and routing the but Army policy prohibited any man from being
04 Return to the fray
While his troops retreat,
Wilson provides covering ire, but
remainder in disorder.
Wilsons forces were now able push on to
awarded more than one. Wilson received the
Distinguished Service Cross instead and was
within 15 yards of the summit, when enemy ire commissioned when he returned to the States.
takes a bullet to the leg. Medics try
to evacuate Wilson to a hospital, once again halted the advance. However, this He retired from the Army as a Major in 1960 and
however, as soon as they put his time the enemy ire was far too overpowering, died in Hawaii in 1988.
stretcher down for a rest, he limps off and he ordered the platoon to withdraw.
back up the hill to rejoin the ight. Characteristically, Wilson remained to provide Hwachon Dam
his retreating troops with cover ire taking a
bullet wound to the leg in the meantime.
With a life-threatening injury, medics tried
to evacuate Wilson to a MASH station. They
carried him down the hill on a stretcher, as the
battle drew to an end. About halfway down the
hill, Wilsons stretcher-bearers put him down to
rest. Not being one to give in easily, but clearly

Soldiers from Wilsons 31st Battalion


iring ield cannon days after Wilson
earned his Medal of Honor
Corbis; Ed Crooks

145
The machines, weapons, battles and
heroes of this most iconic conlict
T
he Second Indochina War, better known in the West as The Vietnam
War, affected the lives of millions, and whole generations on both sides
of the conlict were changed forever by the horrors experienced. The
jungles, skies and rivers of Vietnam became just the latest battleground in the
seemingly unending ight against the perceived global threat of Communism.
With the military might of one of the worlds superpowers clashing with highly
effective guerilla tactics, the war featured some of the deadliest weapons, the
most effective hardware and it saw some of the most unbelievable feats of
human bravery. 50 years after US ground operations began, we take a look at
50 of the machines, battles and heroes of this devastating war.

146
VIETNAM 50

VEHICLES THE NICKNAME SERVICE IN VIETNAM

BELL UH-1 IROQUOIS


Bells original model designation was More than 16,000 Bell UH-1s were
HU-1. Even when renamed to UH-1, produced between 1955 and 1976, with
the Huey nickname stuck. over 7,000 of them seeing service.

NICKNAMED THE HUEY,


BELLS FIRST TURBINE- NO PARATROOPERS
POWERED HELICOPTER In Vietnam, the helicopter reigned supreme. Only one
parachute drop was conducted during the entire war. The rest
BECAME AN ENDURING LYCOMING TURBOSHAFT ENGINE
Most Hueys featured a 44-foot
of the time, troops were predominantly ferried into enemy

VIETNAM WAR SYMBOL twin blade rotor.


territory via helicopter. Nicknamed slicks thanks to their lack
of external armaments, the formations were so tight that the
001 rotor blades of neighbouring helicopters often overlapped.

THE FIRST GUNSHIPS


VIETNAMS LONDON BUS MEDIC! Without weapons, slick Hueys were vulnerable. Some were
Early UH-1s featured a short fuselage Initially, assault helicopters were used for medical fitted in the field with .30 cal machine guns or rocket pods
with cabin space for just six troops. Later evacuations. As the war continued, some Huey crews to provide defensive fire. By 1963, the first factory-built
UH-1B models stretched the fuselage and SEMI-MONOCOQUE were trained in basic medical skills, and could be UH-1 gunship, the UH-1C, arrived in Vietnam. Despite this,
could seat 15 (or house six stretchers). CONSTRUCTION summoned with the Dustoff radio call sign. around 2,500 were lost during the conlict.

WEAPONS
HEROES &
VILLAINS BRUCE CRANDALL DOB: 17 FEBRUARY 1933 - COLONEL - US ARMY 002
60MM M2 LIGHT
FLEW OVER 900 COMBAT MISSIONS DURING THE WAR
Bruce Crandall commanded the 1st Cavalry
Divisions Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter
the remaining troops with ammo. Another major
mission was Operation Masher, during which
MORTAR 003
Battalion, and was involved in some of the most he braved intense enemy ire while rescuing 12 RAINING DOWN FIRE FROM ABOVE
heroic acts of the war. Trained to ly both ixed- wounded soldiers. He earned many awards, like Developed during World War II, the M2 steadily
wing aircraft and helicopters, he was never far the Aviation & Space Writers Helicopter Heroism replaced the less eficient M19 as the standard
from the action. During the Battle of Ia Drang, he Award, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry and the mortar for the US Army. Copied from the designs of
evacuated around 70 US soldiers, and supplied Medal of Honor for Valor. French engineer Edgar William Brandt, the weapon
had a range of nearly 6,000 feet, and was capable of
Bruce Crandall photographed here flying iring explosive white phosphorous and illuminating
his Huey within the Ia Drang valley, after
dropping off infantry on the ground projectile rounds.

147
VIETNAM 50

EVENTS
004 WEAPONS

US Marines land 08.03.65


SUPPLYING THE SOUTH VIETNAMESE WITH ARMS AND RESOURCES WASNT ENOUGH
The irst combat troops to be dropped in the NVA for the irst time on the ground.
Vietnam were the 9th Marine Expeditionary Hundreds of GIs were lost and many more
Brigade, who were charged with defending the NVA. After the battle had ceased, US troop
Danang airield on 8 March 1965. The irst
major skirmish began on the 14 November in
numbers reached their highest levels yet
(200,000) as B-52s lew overhead. The
005
the Ia Drang Valley as the US forces engaged American ground involvement had begun.

9K32 STRELA-2
BATTLES &
OPERATIONS Ia Drang 006 ANTI-AIR WEAPON FOR OVER-THE-
SHOULDER USE
CONFIRMATION THAT THE WAR WOULD NOT BE OVER QUICKLY FOR THE UNITED STATES With the threat of US air superiority, NVA troops
Vietnam saw some of the iercest pitched battles the main conlict, and the two sides engaged on relied on these Soviet-gifted surface-to-air
in history. One of these was Ia Drang, where the the wooded slopes of Chu Pong Mountain on 14 launchers. Also known as the Grail, the weapons
North Vietnamese and US armies clashed for November 1965. The NVA attack was repelled, portability was its greatest advantage, as a user
the irst time. The North Vietnamese veered off and over 200 US soldiers were killed, while North could threaten low-lying aircraft out of nowhere.
the Ho Chi Minh trail in an attempt to escalate Vietnamese casualties numbered up to 1,000.

OFF THE TRAIL 1


Viet Cong and NVA forces
advanced southwards and
off the Ho Chi Minh path to
make their presence felt to
the arriving US forces.

LANDING ZONES 2
The 1st Cavalry Division
touched down. As the North
Vietnamese forces marched
in, US soldiers engaged and
pursued them.

ENCIRCLEMENT 3
A second US Platoon
pursued the NVA, but were
cut off from the rest of the
ground forces and encircled
by the North Vietnamese.

RESCUE OPERATION 4
Reinforcements from
Bravo Company were sent
in on the evening of day
two as the NVA launched
their overnight assaults on
the Americans.

FIRE FOR 5
Napalm strikes pushed the
NVA and Viet Cong back
after five days of fighting.
The NVA was buoyed by its
successes against the US.

WEAPONS WEAPONS

105MM M101A1 HOWITZER 007 FLAMETHROWERS 008


FIRE SUPPORT DROPPED INTO PLACE BY HELICOPTER THE GO-TO WEAPON FOR BURNING
The 2.2 ton, 105mm M101 Howitzer irst
entered service in 1941, seeing action
OUT BUNKERS AND BUSH
inw WWII and Korea before it became a Used for everything from burning brush to destroying
mainstay of US irebases in Vietnam. Vietnamese bunkers, lamethrowers were commonly
found mounted on special tanks and riverboats
nicknamed Zippos. Man-portable lamethrowers were
rarely used, because the heavy tanks held only enough
fuel for just nine seconds of burn time.

148
VIETNAM 50

US ARMY M1 HELMET WEAPONS


COMMANDERS
M16
This headgear

GI 009 010
was the
standard issue
in the US Army
AND LEADERS
8.7 million general since WWII. AMERICAS NEW FUTURISTIC PLASTIC LE TRONG
infantrymen served
from 1964-75, RIFLE WAS NOT WITHOUT PROBLEMS TAN
CHIEF OF
In 1966, the US Army replaced the heavy
most of whom were
M14 with a space-age lightweight rile.
STAFF AND
army volunteers.
Troops mocked its plastic stock and
012 DEPUTY
unorthodox shape, calling it the Mattel toy
MINISTER OF DEFENCE
rile. Soon after reaching Vietnam, the M16 OF VIETNAM
began suffering catastrophic jams caused by A major commander of
ammunition problems, made worse by troops the NVA and Communist
being told that the rile was self-cleaning. forces, General Le Trong
GI conidence in the rile was destroyed Tan led assaults on the
by horrifying reports of men killed while cities of Hue and Da Nang
disassembling their weapons to clear jams. in 1975. He was also the
Despite this, its light weight and high rate of deputy commander in the
ire made the M16 ideal for jungle ighting. Ho Chi Minh campaign
Proper cleaning and some design changes in the latter stages of the
eventually made the M16 the soldiers Spring Offensive.
best friend.
HO CHI MINH
PRESIDENT
OF NORTH
VIETNAM
013 A veteran
of the Indochina War, Ho
was in poor health for
most of the Vietnam War,
BODY ARMOUR and was more of a public
These sturdy zip-up lak vests figure than a governing
commonly came with ammunition one. However, he was
pouches and grenade hangers.
instrumental in planning
UTILITY TROUSERS the Tet Offensive, and
Olive-green lower garments came with two patch and remained inluential until
two hip pockets and were made to endure all weathers his death in 1969.
and heavy wear.
EARLE
JUNGLE BOOTS WHEELER
Before the introduction of sturdier jungle
boots, limsier footwear rotted quickly in the
US ARMY
unforgiving conditions.
GENERAL &
014 CHAIRMAN
WEAPONS OF JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF

AK47
A surprising choice for
a general, Wheeler was
known for pumping

RIFLE
extra troops into combat
whenever requested. He
011 favoured heavy-handed
tactics, and presided over
THE INSURGENTS ICONIC the heaviest stages of US

WEAPON OF CHOICE involvement in the war. He


also pioneered the first
Designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov acts of Vietnamisation.
in the late Forties, the AK47
reached Vietnam in 1967, with RICHARD
Russia and China sending NIXON
hundreds of thousands of riles. US
The most common was Chinas PRESIDENT
copy of the AK, the Type 56. 015 Coming into
While the gun was less accurate
power at a time of huge
and heavier than the M16, its
SMOKE GRENADE simple, rugged design meant it
anti-war sentiment, Nixon
Coloured smoke grenades was easy to shoot and maintain planned to withdraw
were frequently used to even after being dragged through US forces in Vietnam
mark landing zones and the jungle or a muddy rice paddy. as rapidly as possible.
casualty pickup points. Unlike the M16, the AKs heavier This was easier said
7.62x39mm bullet was able to than done, and the US
penetrate dense jungle and even remained in Nam as they
trees. The Vietnam War helped tried to incorporate the
make the AK47 the worlds most Vietnamisation policy.
recognisable rile.

149
VIETNAM 50

EVENTS

My Lai massacre 16.03.68


THE BRUTAL MURDERING OF 500 CIVILIANS IN THE VILLAGE OF MY LAI 016
The guerrilla warfare in Vietnam was so
secretive that almost anyone could be in
alliance with the Viet Cong. By 16 March 1968,
the morale of the US forces was at a low ebb.
Task Force Barker was assigned to seek out Viet
Cong members in the small village of My Lai,
and despite reports stating that very few were
of ighting age, the troops opened ire on the
residents of the village. The event was a turning
point in opinion back in the US, and Lieutenant
William Calley was charged for war crimes for
his part in the massacre.

Siege of Hu
VEHICLES
BATTLES &
018
M520 GOER 017
AN AMPHIBIOUS 4X4 THAT COULD GO ANYWHERE,
OPERATIONS

THE ANCIENT CAPITAL CITY HAD BEEN SPARED DAMAGE UNTIL JANUARY 1968
Despite the war raging relentlessly around kill leading South Vietnamese government
it, the ancient city of Hu had barely been oficials and destroy the citadel.
HELPING TO SUPPLY US TROOPS IN SOUTH VIETNAM touched until January 1968, when 10,000
NVA and Viet Cong troops rolled into town.
The battle would become one of the
largest US urban conlicts of all time. A
The Caterpillar-built prototype M520 GOERs were pressed
into active service in 1966, where they quickly became 2,500 US soldiers crossed the river tactical victory for the US, the gory images
from the south to help stop the communist seen around the world greatly reduced
the most popular resupplying vehicle. The M520 had no
advance, before the NVA could round up and Western support for the war.
suspension, instead relying on tyres for springing.
Whats more, the seams between the GOERs external
steel frame and sides were watertight, making it NVA AND VIET CONG ASSAULT 1 FAILED LIBERATION 2 5 SECURING THE CITY
amphibious. Despite its success, it wasnt until 1972 that a On the final day of January, The North Vietnamese propaganda The Communists are finally
production order was placed, seeing 812 sent to Vietnam. North Vietnamese forces doesnt register with the majority defeated on 2 January, by which
sweep through Hu, of Hus residents, who are against point 50 per cent of the ancient
targeting the citadel as the the communist advance, and city has been destroyed. This is a
city falls under NVA control. instead aid the South Vietnamese. blow for South Vietnamese morale.

4 RUNNING BATTLE
Although outnumbered,
the US and South
Vietnamese regiments
slowly but surely make
their way through the
city, defeating the NVA
HEROES &
VILLAINS HUGH THOMPSON JR 019 regiments in fierce street-
to-street combat.

THIS TRUE HERO STOOD AGAINST THE TIDE DURING


ONE OF THE DARKEST EVENTS IN THE WAR
DOB: 15 APRIL 1943 - MAJOR - US ARMY
The My Lai Massacre of 16 March
1968 was one of the darkest
moments of the war, but if it
werent for Hugh Thompson and his
helicopter crew, it would have been
a lot bleaker. While the tragedy
was unfolding, Larry Colburn, Glenn
Andreotta and Hugh Thompson
attempted to stop the massacre.
Using their helicopter to block the
US troops, Thompson ordered the
vehicles machine guns to be trained on American GIs to halt
the slaughter. After this, they lew around rescuing all that they 3 US RESPONSE
could. Pulling Vietnamese from ditches and clearing bunkers, It isnt long until the allies counter-
the trio managed to extract many of the victims from the area attack as US marines enter the fray
in helicopters. Thompson and his crew initially had a mixed and begin advancing through the city
reception upon returning home, but received the Soldiers from the south. The NVA begins to
Medal in 1998 for their heroic act. execute government officials.

150
VIETNAM 50

VEHICLES

M67A2 FLAME THROWER TANK


SENDING SCORCHING NAPALM ACROSS THE VIETNAMESE
020

COUNTRYSIDE WAS THE JOB OF THIS US MARINE TANK


Based on the hull of the M48 Patton
tank, the M67 lame-throwing tank
did away with the usual gun, instead
utilising an M7 fuel and pressure unit,
along with an M6 lame gun (the latter
of which was hidden inside a dummy
90mm turret in order to prevent the
Flame Thrower Tanks from being
singled out by enemy ire).
Favoured by the US Marine
Corps, the M67 tanks were
nicknamed Zippos after the famous
manufacturer of cigarette lighters.
YEAR PRODUCED: 1955
However, unlike their everyday ENGINE: 643HP 29.36-LITRE V12
namesake, there was no novelty SUPERCHARGED DIESEL
about the lame-throwing tanks, WEAPONS: M7-6 FLAME THROWER, .50 CAL
spewing out napalm over Viet Cong MACHINE GUN, .30 CAL MACHINE GUN
territory. Alongside the M132 armored CREW: 3
lamethrower, the Marines were ARMOUR: 1-4.33 CAST STEEL ON HULL,
provided with a fearsome offensive 1-7 CAST STEEL ON TURRET
weapon that caused much destruction SPEED: 30MPH SUSTAINED
to the rebel Vietnamese forces. WEIGHT: 47,500KG

NAPALM WEAPONS
021 WEAPONS

AGENT ORANGE
Over 75,000,000 litres of the acidic herbicide
were sprayed from planes and helicopters,
devastating swathes of Vietnamese jungle in
ALMOST 400,000
TONS OF NAPALM THE HORRIFIC CONSEQUENCES an effort to destroy the Viet Congs dense cover.
The side effects of Agent Orange led to hideous

WERE DROPPED OF THE DANGEROUS DEFOLIANT deformities and illnesses among those who
came into contact with it
DURING THE WAR
Developed during WWII,
and irst used in Vietnam
by the French, napalm is
a mix of petrol and thickening gel. It burns at 1,000C and can
cover up to 2,000m2 when dropped from the air. News reports of
civilians accidentally hit by napalm attacks horriied the US public. 022
VEHICLES

SOVIET MIG-17 VS USAF F-4 PHANTOM II


023
SOVIET AND AMERICAN AERONAUTIC TECHNOLOGY CLASHED IN THE BATTLE FOR VIETNAMESE AIR SUPERIORITY
024

Despite US Air Force pilots being engaged in better bet in close aerial dogights, accounting for plane, it was capable of participating in
aerial combat almost continuously since the 26 US aircraft from 1965-72. intercept and reconnaissance missions.
end of WWII, USAF could only manage a 2:1 At the time, The F-4 Phantom II was the The F-4G Wild Weasel variant was
kill ratio against the NVAFs MiG-17 and MiG- Wests most proliic ighter craft. Serving under developed by the US Air Force to ind and
21 leet. the US Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, the destroy enemy radar using air-to-surface
The MiG-17 was the tightest turning jet ighter jet had already set speed and altitude records missiles, which proved highly effective against
of its day. Despite its thin delta wings, it could by the outbreak of the war. A highly versatile NVA installations.
sustain turns of up to 8G. While the US began
developing air-to-air missile systems for its ighter
planes, the MiGs twin cannon system made it a

151
VIETNAM 50

EVENTS
BASE UNDER THREAT 1 THE SIEGE BEGINS 2
Tet Its proximity to the Ho Chi Minh
Trail made Khe Sanh a strategically
A 20,000-strong NVA force led by
General Giap hoards around the base, and

Offensive
important location. The NVA hoped to doesnt leave for 77 days. It becomes one
repeat the Dien Bien Phu massacre of of the bloodiest battles of the war.
the first Indochina War.
30.01.68
THE TURNING POINT OF THE WAR THAT
KICK-STARTED THE US WITHDRAWAL UNDER BOMBARDMENT 3
Around 1,000 rounds of KHE SANH COMBAT
artillery falls on the base BASE AREA
every day as the NVA throws
everything at the siege. The
US forces are so pinned
down that nuclear weapons 5
are briely considered.
OPERATION CHARLIE
AND EVACUATION
The NVA doesnt get
behind the lines, but
manages to divert vast AIR SUPPORT 4
025 SPECIAL FORCES CAMP amounts of US troops
into the area, making KHE SANH
To assist the encircled troops, A-4
Skyhawk fighters strike the surrounding
other sections of the North Vietnamese while drops from
This surprise attack in January 1968 saw
American defences C-130 Hercules resupply the G.Is within
70,000 NVA and Viet Cong troops swarm into
more lightly guarded. the base.
over 100 cities, towns and military bases
in South Vietnam. Although the attack was
eventually repelled, the show of military
strength shocked the South Vietnamese and
US military so much that withdrawal talks
BATTLES &
OPERATIONS Siege of Khe Sanh 026
began shortly after. The toughest ighting was
in Hue,where US air strikes bombarded the
AN IMPORTANT US BASE, KHE SANH BORE and their South Vietnamese allies put up a strong
defence, but had to be rescued by air support.
citadel, which had been taken by the NVA. THE BRUNT OF THE TET OFFENSIVE 80,000 tons of bombs were dropped on the
The Offensive lasted seven months until the Beginning on 21 January 1968, this siege would attackers, who were forced to retreat after losing
NVA and Viet Cong were forced to retreat, with last six months as the NVA tested the resolute up to 15,000 men, but earned a strategic victory
losses of around 37,000 men. It was a huge US defences to the limit. With 20,000 men in the process as the tactical success of the Tet
cost to life, but an important strategic victory. surrounding Khe Sanh, the 6,000 US soldiers Offensive continued.

I CANNOT DESCRIBE IN WORDS HOW FRIGHTENING IT WAS NGUYEN 027


HEROES &
VILLAINS

US MARINE VETERAN KEN RODGERS WITNESSED THE SIEGE OF KHE SANH 028 HUY HIEU
AND THE TET OFFENSIVE FIRST-HAND THIS SOLDIER EMERGED FROM
HUMBLE BEGINNINGS TO PLAY
CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR EXPERIENCES OF THE unfolded, we were trapped inside Khe Sanh and we thought the
A HUGE ROLE IN THE WAR
SIEGE OF KHE SANH TO US? end of the world for us was at hand and just not us personally, but
Little food, little water. We were hungry, dirty for the American war effort. I suspect that Khe Sanh and Tet were DOB: 1947 - REGIMENT COMMANDER - NVA
and frightened. We were pounded with all sorts of incoming, from illustrations to the American public that the war effort was a waste Born in Nam Dinh
sniper fire to 152mm artillery. We lost a lot of men. Over 60 KIA in of time, humanity and money and they, over the next few years, in North Vietnam,
Bravo Company alone. I cannot describe in words how frightening it determined to pull their support for military action. Nguyen Huy Hieu
was. A lot of times, in war, one has five and ten minute encounters joined the military
with the enemy and those encounters scare you. But only a little. WHAT WAS YOUR ROLE IN THE WAVES OF ATTACKS THAT FOLLOWED? at 18. During the
Khe Sanh was about fear twenty-four-hours a day. Fear piled on At the onset of Tet nothing much changed at Khe Sanh except the war, he progressed
top of fear, the levels so numerous and varied they almost defy ferocity of the attacks increased, more incoming, the NVA attacking rapidly through
Ken Rodgers, photo courtesy of Kevin Martini-Fuller.

description. outposts outside the combat base itself. They introduced their tank the ranks, and
units and stormed some Army Special Forces installations and tried became one of the
WERE YOU UNDER CONSTANT BOMBARDMENT? to take some Marine positions, too. youngest captains in the NVA. One
As I recall it, we were under almost constant bombardment. of his most notable conlicts was the
I left Khe Sanh, I think, on 4/2/68. I went down to one of the WAS THE AMOUNT AND FEROCITY OF THE ATTACKS A SHOCK TO YOU? 1968 Battle of Quang Tri, where the
helicopter pads and waited what seemed like all day before I got on WHAT TACTICS DID YOU USE IN RESPONSE? NVA and Viet Cong were defeated
a Chinook and lew out for the coast and the Marine base at Dong Full scale war is a shock and by its nature is ferocious. At Khe Sanh while trying to occupy the city of
Ha. I remember the crew chief of the Chinook telling me to sit down we dug deep, stayed low and waited for the chance to get outside Quang Tri. By October 1970, Nguyen
ascended to the rank of Commander.
but I wouldnt. I stood up because I was afraid ground fire from the the wire that surrounded our positions and attack attack attack.
His service didnt go unnoticed by
NVA would come through the bottom of the hull and kill me.
the North Vietnamese hierarchy, who
DID YOU RECEIVE ANY WOUNDS? awarded him the title of Commander
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU HEAR OF THE ONCOMING TET OFFENSIVE? On March 30, 1968 I was on an assault of a hill southeast of Khe of the regiment in 1973. After the war,
I first heard about the Tet Offensive on Armed Forces Radio the Sanh Combat Base (Known as the Payback Patrol) and was hit in he was given the title Hero of the
day it happened. We got almost all our news and entertainment the head with shrapnel from a mortar. Later that day I was hit in the Peoples Armed Forces, along with
that way, unless we listened to Hanoi Hannah. As the Tet Offensive face with white phosphorus from a booby trap. ive Liberation Distinguished Service
Medals and 14 Brave Soldier titles.

152
VIETNAM 50

WEAPONS

PANJI TRAP 029


Hidden inconspicuously inside camoulaged holes,
MACE TRAP 030
What the US had in irepower the Viet Cong
GRENADE TRAP 031
Less widespread than other traps due to
these traps were ideal for catching unsuspecting made up for with ingenuity. The mace trap was the availability of explosives, this was nonetheless
US GIs off guard. These hidden jungle threats a simple three-metre (ten-foot) log studded with an effective trap. The grenade could be hidden
could slow a march down to a sluggish pace, as sharp bamboo spikes. It would be triggered by a in water, under foliage or up in the treetops.
they were almost impossible to locate. If you were concealed trip wire on the forest loor, and was Once again using the element of surprise, a small
unlucky enough to get caught in one, a bamboo used in a similar role to the Panji trap. These tug on the tripwire would dislodge the safety
spike or nail plunging through your foot would mace traps were silent, but could maim and even pin and incapacitate a group of enemy soldiers in
make you instantly combat ineffective. kill once activated. one blast.

VEHICLES
032 STRUCTURES
THE CU CHI TUNNELS 033

BICYCLE
THE VIET CONG MOVED
THE VIET CONG CONSTRUCTED HUGE TUNNEL NETWORKS TO STRIKE INFANTRY FROM BELOW
AMERICAN ADVANCE TRAPS CARPET BOMBING
US Infantry and Holes filled with grenades To lush the Viet Cong out, the US
SUPPLIES VIA PEDAL POWER tank divisions would
advance through the
or spikes would be
well concealed until an
forces resorted to mass bombing
operations. They were only
In contrast to the technological
jungle, unaware of the unsuspecting GI stumbled moderately successful.
might of the US, one of the key subterranean bases across one.
vehicles for the North Vietnamese under their very feet.
troops was the humble bicycle.
Capable of carrying up to 180kg
of supplies, the Viet Cong used their TUNNEL RATS
bikes to transport rice, guns and The US troops ventured underground
other goods. They proved especially with grenades and tear gas, but were
useful in ferrying items along the PLANNING CHAMBER met with more traps and fierce Viet
Ho Chi Minh Trail, and were an The facilities underground Cong resistance.
integral part of the Tet Offensive. were expansive enough to
Fully laden, the bikes were house conference rooms.
impossible to ride, and had to be
pushed. However, easily repaired
and camoulaged, they were rarely
attacked. Harrison Salisbury, a New
York Times reporter, remarked: I
literally believe that without bikes COMPLEX TUNNEL
theyd have to get out of the war. STOREHOUSE NETWORK
The Viet Cong could stay Between the larger
concealed for days, and rooms the tunnels DORMITORY
stockpiled supplies so they were narrow, and While battles were raging above, Viet
could eat, sleep and drink only one man could Cong troops could sleep deep in the
under the ground. fit through at a time. subterranean tunnels.

HEROES &
VILLAINS VO NGUYEN GIAP DOB: 25 AUGUST 1911 - COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF - VIETMINH
THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE VIETMINH WAS KEY TO FIGHTING THE US CAMPAIGN 034
A veteran of World War II and the Indochina After the US withdrawal, Giap helped
War, the Red Napoleon was the leader of mastermind the 1975 fall of Saigon. Internal
the Communist Vietminh, or League for the power struggles in the North Vietnamese
Independence of Vietnam, and the countrys hierarchy has reduced Giaps depiction in
Defence Minister. An astute military tactician, modern Vietnam. In modern texts, much of the
he sent frequent aid to the Viet Cong, and is glory of victory is credited to General Vn Tin
credited with organising the Tet Offensive. Dng rather than Giap.

153
VIETNAM 50

VEHICLES

NORTH AMERICAN
ROCKWELL OV-10
BRONCO 035
AN UNUSUAL WARBIRD DESIGNED TO DO
YEAR PRODUCED: 1965
ENGINE: 2 X 715HP GARRETT T76 TURBOPROPS
WEAPONS: 4 X 7.62MM MACHINE GUNS
IT ALL IN THE SKIES ABOVE VIETNAM CREW: 2
SPEED: 281MPH MAX.
A large cockpit, seating pilot and co-pilot in WEIGHT: 3,125KG UNLADEN
tandem, with wings mounted atop the fuselage
and twin booms with interconnecting stabiliser,
North American Rockwells OV-10 Bronco airields. It could also be started without ground home during forward air control and reconnaissance
certainly cut a distinctive shape in the air. equipment and, if needed, run on automotive missions. However, despite aiding in numerous air
Designed and tested in the early Sixties with petrol with little loss of performance. strikes, the Bronco wasnt without its problems. 81
the counter-insurgency combat of Vietnam in Capable of carrying 1,450kg of cargo (from OV-10 Broncos were lost in Vietnam, with a low top
mind, the OV-10 was capable of short take- ive paratroopers to a Viet Cong-busting supply of speed making it an easy target for enemy ighters,
offs and landings, ideal for use from larger bombs), the OV-10 was a versatile machine after and its slow climb rate causing some US pilots to
amphibious assault ships or from unprepared its introduction into Vietnam in 1969, most at crash into the hilly terrain.

Hamburger Hill
VEHICLES BATTLES &
036
ATC MONITOR
OPERATIONS

US FORCES ATTEMPT TO TAKE THE A SHAU VALLEY, AN IMPORTANT NVA ROUTE TO SOUTH VIETNAM
BOAT 037 Operation Apache Snow was designed to restrict the
North Vietnamese advance southwards. The valley
on the border with Laos had become littered with
NVA soldiers after a long, drawn-out battle where the
heavy US infantry struggled in the thick undergrowth
of the hills slopes. The battle is known for various
PATROLLING THE RIVERS NVA bases, and the Ap Bia Mountain or Hamburger friendly ire incidents and a hollow US victory that

WAS ENTRUSTED TO Hill was one of the major centres. 1,800 US and
South Vietnamese troops managed to defeat 800
many back home saw as a senseless battle in a
senseless war.
CONVERTED LANDING CRAFT
Inspired by its French counterparts
actions during the First Indochina
STORMING THE SUMMIT 5
The garrison is taken on the 15 May after
War, the US Navy and Army five days of fighting. Control of the high
formed the Mobile Riverine Force ground is disputed until NVA resistance is
to combat Viet Cong forces in the finally quashed on 20 May.
Mekong Delta, predominantly using
Armoured Troop Carriers (ATCs) to
ferry up to 40 soldiers and launch
river-based assaults.
The ATCs were based on the HO CHI MINH
Fifties LCM-6 landing craft design, TRAIL
using quarter-inch steel armour
plating to protect the superstructure
and a distinctive bow ramp to
deploy troops and load supplies. In
TOUGH TERRAIN 3
61-foot Monitor form, the ATC was FRIENDLY FIRE 4 The 937m hill is surrounded by heavy jungle,
transformed into a loating artillery Disaster strikes for the US GIs as supporting which makes progress difficult. Bravo and Charlie
platform, adding either a 81mm helicopters mistake the LZ for an NVA camp companies head towards the summit by different
mortar or a 105mm Howitzer. and open fire, killing two and wounding 35 as routes to strike the NVA from two fronts.
One of the inest moments for the companies are forced to retreat.
the ATCs in Vietnam was during
Operation Game Warden on
18 December 1965. Intending
to prevent the Viet Cong from HO CHI MINH
accessing supplies, US forces TRAIL
launched a surprise attack at a
number of enemy ports, destroying
much of the Viet Cong leet.

THE ASCENT 2
OPERATION APACHE SNOW 1 Around 800 NVA troops occupy the top of
The US forces are determined to prevent North Hamburger Hill as US Airborne troops begin scaling
Vietnamese access to the A Shau Valley, which has the peak. They are supported by artillery fire, which
become a hidden infiltration route for NVA forces reduces the NVA bunkers to rubble.
into South Vietnam.

154
VIETNAM 50

HEROES &
VILLAINS JOHN MCCAIN 038
DOB: 29 AUGUST 1936 - LIEUTENANT COMMANDER - US NAVY
THE FUTURE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
SERVED IN THE NAVY BEFORE SPENDING
FIVE AND A HALF YEARS IN A POW CAMP
The son of a navy
admiral, McCain saw his
irst action in Operation
Rolling Thunder.
While lying in his A-4
Skyhawk, he was hit by
a missile and had his
right wing blown off. He
managed to activate
his ejector seat, but
the ferocity knocked
him unconscious
and broke his right leg and both arms. Barely
WEAPONS
conscious, McCain was taken to Hoa Lo Prison
and interrogated. Determined to give nothing away,
the injured navy pilot refused to say anything more
than his name, rank, serial number and date of
M60 039
birth. This angered his captors, who gave him next REVERED FOR ITS FIREPOWER AND NICKNAMED THE PIGFOR ITS SIZE
to no care and barely any food. This went on for Mounted in choppers, on jeeps and lugged through bullet, it punched through jungle undergrowth with
ive and a half years, and he was only once taken
the jungle by GIs, the M60 was the USs primary ease. The barrel got so hot during iring, a heat-
to a hospital after the guards learnt of his fathers
squad light machine gun. Firing a heavy 7.62mm proof asbestos glove was issued for barrel changes.
rank. After his release, he returned home a hero.

VEHICLES
YEAR PRODUCED: 1952 WEAPONS

WILLYS M38A1 JEEP 040


ENGINE: 75HP 2.2-LITRE INLINE-4 PETROL ENGINE
WEAPONS: NONE
CREW: 1 M18 CLAYMORE
AN ICON OF WWII, THE WILLYS JEEPS MILITARY SERVICE
CARRIED THROUGH THE VIETNAM CONFLICT TOO
ARMOUR: NONE
SPEED: UNKNOWN
WEIGHT: 1,200KG
MINE 041
FRONT TOWARD ENEMY
After the success of the Willys MB Jeep in World War
II, the US irm developed the M38 Jeep for use by the
the M38A1 Jeep featuring revised suspension, a
stronger chassis and rounded wings more than proved
AMERICAS LETHAL ANTI-
US Marine Corps, where it was once again put into a its worth with over 80,000 units produced for US forces PERSONNEL MINE
multitude of roles during the Vietnam War. use between 1952 and 1957. Ideal for ambushes and anti-
Often seen patrolling around Saigon, the Jeep was a However, the etymology of Jeep is still debated, iniltration, the Claymore, named
cheap and reliable means of transporting small numbers with some believing it to be a form of GP (General after the famous Scottish
of troops and goods over multiple terrains. From carrying Purpose Vehicle) and others feeling it inluenced by broadsword, was a lethal anti-
dignitaries (such as President Lyndon B Johnson during Eugene the Jeep, a jungle dwelling character in the personnel mine developed in the
his various visits) to providing cover during urban warfare, Popeye comics. Fifties. A block of plastic explosive
inside the curved casing blasted
700 steel ball bearings into a
100m kill zone, killing or maiming
everything in range.

155
VIETNAM 50

DESIGNED IN A HOTEL EIGHT JET ENGINES


Boeing Chief Engineer Ed Well and his team had to redesign the B-52s While it looks as if the B-52 only has four engines, each cluster
design during a weekend in an Ohio hotel when the US Air Force asked them suspended below the wings contains two Pratt & Whitney turbofans.
to scrap the previous propeller-engine design. With 10,000lb of bombs, the B-52 had a combat radius of 3,650 miles.

DROP TANKS
External fuel tanks increased capacity
by up to 1,000 US gallons.

VEHICLES

BOEING B-52 A B-52 CREW


A regular B-52 crew
consisted of a pilot, a

STRATOFORTRESS
THE US AIR FORCES LONGEST SERVING BOMBER
042
WINGSPAN
The swept-wing B-52 had
a wingspan of 185ft.
EXTERNAL PAYLOAD
Project South Bay enhanced
the B-52Fs external payload
capacity in 1964.
co-pilot, an electronic
warfare officer specialising
in identifying and
countering various threats,
a navigator, a radar
PLAYED A STARRING ROLE IN THE VIETNAM CONFLICT navigator (who would also
double as the bombardier)
and a tail gunner.
YEAR PRODUCED: 1954 OPERATION ROLLING THUNDER
Between March 1965 and November
ENGINE: 8 X 13,750LB PRATT & WHITNEY TURBOFANS 1968, the US Air Force implemented IMMENSE FIREPOWER
WEAPONS: 4 X .50 CAL MACHINE GUNS, UP TO a sustained bombing of Vietnam.
60,000LB BOMB CAPACITY A number of B-52Ds were given a
Standard B-52s could carry around 43,000lb of
CREW: 6 Big Belly conversion, allowing them
bombs across the internal bomb bay and on the
SPEED: 638MPH MAX to carry a bomb total of 60,000lbs
wings. During the Christmas bombings of 1972,
WEIGHT: 78,350KG EMPTY during the operation.
B-52s dropped over 15,000 tons of ordnance
across 12 days for the loss of 15 planes.

HEROES &
VILLAINS
BATTLES &
OPERATIONS Binh Bah 044
BOB KERREY 043 THE 5TH AUSTRALIAN BATTALION TAKE THE FIGHT TO THE VIET CONG
DOB: 27 AUGUST 1943 - PLATOON OFFICER Binh Ba was one of the key Australian involvements as civilians, the ighting became one-sided as the
- NAVY SEAL in the Vietnam War. After two Viet Cong companies Australians outclassed their opponents. The victory
launched raids on the village under the cover of denied the Viet Cong a free corridor in the Phuoc Tuy
THE SENATORS WARTIME darkness, the Australian 5th Battalion responded Province, and with only one loss on the Australian side
EXPERIENCES ARE AMONG THE with a large infantry presence that surrounded the
area. Despite the Viet Cong disguising themselves
(compared to 110 communists) it was one of the most
resounding victories of the war.
CONFLICTS MOST SHOCKING
Despite only
serving for AUSTRALIAN VICTORY 5 WAKE-UP CALL 1
three months in By 5.15pm on the third day, the fighting ceases At 7.20am on the
Vietnam, Bob and the village is cleared. There are fears of an NVA morning of 6 June 1969
Kerreys actions response, but this never transpires. a rocket-propelled
and those of his grenade strikes an
SEAL comrades Australian Centurion
have become TACTICS AND WEAPONRY 4 tank as it enters the
Using M-14 riles and Centurion tanks, the village of Binh Ba in
a point of great
Australians breach the walls of houses using Phuoc Tuy Province.
controversy. In February 1969,
shells, before infantry swarm in through the
Kerrey led a team of SEALs on a
fresh gap.
night patrol around the village of
Thanh Phong. What happened next
is widely debated, but the most
common account is of Kerrey and
his team taking ire. Diving for
cover, they shot back with their M16 D COMPANY D COMPANY
assault riles, expending around
1,200 rounds of ammunition. Upon
entering the village, they realised to INFANTRY AND TANK ADVANCE 3 2
their horror that they had not shot The main Australian force attacks AUSTRALIAN RESPONSE
Viet Cong soldiers, but women and through the south, while D Company Two Viet Cong companies take control of the village,
assembles on the east and west sides and shortly after, several Australian regiments
children. Since then it has been
of the village. Tanks and infantry move surround Binh Bah and evacuate the settlements
questioned whether it was the SEALs
in as the house-to-house fighting starts.
AUSTRALIAN residents. The battle is about to begin.
who were responsible for the killings, 5TH BATALLION
or a ploy by the Viet Cong.

156
VIETNAM 50

HEROES &
048
NAVY NGUYEN NGOC LOAN
VILLAINS

SEAL DOB: 11 DECEMBER 1930 -


WEAPONS NATIONAL POLICE COMMANDER
- SOUTH VIETNAMESE

CARL GUSTAV THE MAN BEHIND ONE OF THE


MOST INFAMOUS IMAGES OF
M/45 045 THE WAR WAS SOUTH VIETNAMS
THE LEGENDARY BRUTAL AND UNSYMPATHETIC
SWEDISH-K FAVOURED BY CHIEF OF POLICE
Nguyen Ngoc Loan was a staunch South Vietnamese Nguyen Van Lem in cold blood after his deputy hesitated
US SPECIAL FORCES nationalist, and led the national police force in its to do so. The incident sparked negative public opinion
Developed by neutral Sweden during struggle against the Viet Cong. He is remembered for his against the war, especially in the US as an Associated
WWII, the rugged M/45 became irrational rages and bad temper, as well as his insistence Press photographer caught the full anguish on the
extremely popular with CIA operators and that only local authorities could arrest and detain South victims face in the photo. Loan had reason to use force
US Navy SEALs in Vietnam. The 1966 Vietnamese citizens. His refusal to offer the US GIs (Lem was the captain of a Viet Cong death squad who
any preferable treatment made him very unpopular with had been targeting the families of the South Vietnam
Swedish arms embargo ended export
the American forces, but he was an eficient police Police), but the shooting struck a nerve worldwide.
of the M/45 to the US. This led Smith
commander who performed his job competently. Three months later, Loan was injured by machine-gun
& Wesson to produce the M76, a direct
However, his whole life would change on 1 February ire, ending his involvement in the war. He escaped on a
copy of the Swedish-K. 1968 with his role in perhaps the most iconic image plane at the fall of Saigon, and lived the rest of his life
from the Vietnam War, when he shot Viet Cong prisoner selling pizza in Washington DC.

WEAPONS
049
RPD THE VERSATILE RUSSIAN LIGHT MACHINE GUN FAVOURED BY THE VC

KA-BAR 046 Firing the same round as the AK47, the RPD fed from a 100-round drum. Its
ixed barrel meant it had to be ired in short bursts to avoid over-heating, but it
THE UTILITARIAN was lighter than the bulky M60, making it ideal for Viet Cong insurgents.

COMBAT KNIFE
CARRIED BY EVENTS 050
THOUSANDS OF
US SERVICEMEN Fall of Saigon 30.04.75
Hanging from the belt
COMMUNIST FORCES ADVANCE UNOPPOSED INTO THE SOUTH VIETNAMESE CAPITAL
of most US servicemen In seven short weeks in
in Vietnam, the Ka-Bar, 1975, the Communist forces
irst adopted in 1942, swept south towards the
was used for everything capital of the South and their
from probing for mines ultimate goal, Saigon. With
to opening C-rations. Vietnamisation a failure, the
South Vietnamese army was

S&W MODEL 39
in disarray as the gates of
Images: The Art Agency, Corbis, Ed Crooks, Alex Pang

Saigon were threatened for


the irst time in ten years.
A FAST-FIRING 9MM 047 The city fell on 30 April as
NVA tanks rolled through the
FAVOURITE streets with only minimal
Smith & Wessons irst modern resistance from the scattered
automatic pistol was used by Navy Southern forces. By this
SEALs during covert missions. A time the US embassy had
silenced model was nicknamed the safely been evacuated, and
Hush Puppy. President Thieu had already
led to Taiwan. Saigon was
renamed Ho Chi Minh City,
and the entire country now
belonged completely to the
Communist government.

157
THE TAMIL
TIGERS
Sri Lanka (Ceylon) seemed like an Earthly
paradise upon independence in 1948. But by the
early 1980s, it had become an ethnic time-bomb

T
he most wanted man in Sri Lanka important posts in the colonial administration.
was found on the morning of 19 May Smaller communities of Indian and Arab-
2009. There were hundreds of other descended Muslims and the Eurasian burghers
bodies scattered in the marshes and dunes also dotted the island. Later on, the British
that formed the thin strip of coastline where, imported thousands of low-caste Tamils to work
hemmed in by the Sri Lankan security forces, the rolling tea estates of the highlands.
the Tamil Tiger ighters made their inal This was a potentially volatile mix. Many
apocalyptic stand. Sinhalese Buddhists believe that in the
When t