in 1917 – one hundred years ago – the Third Battle of Ypres began. It is also known as the Battle of Passchendaele. The battle lasted for 105 days, gaining the Allied forces just 5 miles, at the cost of at least a quarter of a million casualties (not including around 220,000 lost on the German side). 90,000 Allied bodies were never identified, with a further 42,000 never even recovered. Having recently been to see the graves of two of my Great Great Uncles who fought in the First World War, it is incredibly painful to imagine not being able to visit them, or to see them resting peacefully after enduring such horrors.
… in 1415, the Battle of Agincourt took place between the English and the French during the Hundred Years’ War. The result was a major English victory, despite the fact that the French troops vastly outnumbered the English. Their success is attributed to their use of longbows – an English weapon that was greatly superior to the French crossbow. A trained English archer could shoot six aimed arrows a minute, and these arrows could penetrate armour from 100 yards away (and kill from 200).
…in 1914, the first trenches were dug on the Western Front. As it became ever more apparent that the war would not be ‘over by Christmas’, both Allied and German forces began digging trenches. In total, if these trench systems were laid out in one long row, they would stretch for 25,000 miles. 12,000 of those miles belonged to the Allies; 13,000 to the Central Powers.
Fourteen years before the RMS Titanic hit an iceberg and sank in the Atlantic Ocean on April 15th 1912, a man named Morgan Robertson wrote a novella called Futility. The fictitious story was about the world’s largest ocean liner – called ‘Titan’ and believed to be ‘unsinkable’ – that hit an iceberg one April night and sank in the Atlantic. Like the Titanic, Titan lacked enough lifeboats for every passenger on board and, like the Titanic, most of her passengers died in the disaster.
…in 1940 the Blitz began. The night of September 7th was the first of fifty-seven consecutive nights of bombing across London and the UK by German bombers.In all, the ‘lightening war’ lasted for eight months, and was ultimately a strategic failure … Continue reading
… in 1916, the Battle of the Somme began. Lasting until 18th November 1916, it was the largest battle of the First World War on the Western Front and saw more than a million men wounded or killed. It remains one of the bloodiest battles in human history.