Military History Matters 121

Cover Story

Airpower comes of Age, 1917-1918 In the last year of WWI, airpower became a major factor – so much so that the British turned their air contingents, previously treated as adjuncts of the Army or the Navy into a unified RAF. Was the diversion of…

Features

Britain at war in colour Britain at War in Colour, released later this spring, reveals 100 of the best original images from the IWM collection. Some of them have been previously published – either in…
Sink the Tirpitz! John Sweetman analyses the relative failure of repeated Fleet Air Arm attacks on the German battleship Tirpitz.
A late medieval military elite The Swiss army of the late Middle Ages ruthlessly used terrain to its advantage and had a genius for knowing which battles not to fight.
Britain’s secret resistance plans The British authorities were preparing for a brutal underground war in the event of German invasion and occupation in 1940.
The 9th East Norfolk Patrick Mercer reports on a tough fighting regiment of the Napoleonic Wars, let down by dismal command in 1809.

News

Lost wartime letter reaches family after 75 years The family of a schoolgirl who knitted clothes for troops has received a letter written by a grateful soldier.
Nelson urged mistress to vaccinate their daughter against smallpox The victor of the Battle of Trafalgar may have been a naval genius. But it has now emerged that Admiral Lord Nelson was also uncommonly wise when it came to…
Spanish Armada maps saved ‘for the nation’ They depict one of the most significant events in English history. Now a collection of incredibly rare maps representing the defeat of the Spanish Armada will remain in the country,…
Former Cold War missile facility converted into Airbnb It was once the launch centre for nuclear missiles capable of immense destruction. Now, a former military complex has found new life as an Airbnb guest house.
New Welsh home confirmed for military medical museum A new home in Cardiff Bay for the Museum of Military Medicine has been given the green light by the local council. Currently based in the village of Mytchett, Surrey,…

Views

Britain at war in colour Feature, The Picture Desk Britain at War in Colour, released later this spring, reveals 100 of the best original images from the IWM collection. Some of them have been previously published – either in…
Raising the dead, 1865 The Picture Desk In June 1864, Cold Harbor was the site of a fortnight-long battle during the American Civil War. A year later, photographer John Reekie visited the battlefield and captured pictures of…
War Athletes: Keith Truscott People No other Australian was so dear to the public as ‘Bluey’ Truscott... He was idolised and idealised, but not put on a pedestal.
Letters from MHM 121 Letters Japan in WWII, Zulu & Societ Propaganda images
A39 Tortoise Heavy Assault Tank Ideas The Tortoise was to be a well-armoured assault vehicle that could break through heavily defended areas. But Its sheer bulk and weight meant that rail transportation was impossible, and it…

Reviews

Philip and Alexander: Kings and Conquerors The story of Alexander the Great, the dashing young prince who conquered vast swathes of the world before his mysterious death at the age of just 32, is a familiar…
Secret Alliances It is one of the great ‘what ifs?’ of World War II. What would have happened had the Nazis acquired a nuclear weapon? The consequences are unthinkable. The sabotaging of…
The International Brigades: Fascism, Freedom, and the Spanish Civil War The precise number is uncertain, but around 35,000 foreign fighters may have served in the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War. Of these, perhaps one in five died, becoming,…
Gladius: living, fighting, and dying in the Roman Army The author is a renowned scholar of the Roman Army and has written many books, both on this topic and related Roman subjects. The present work will be an absolute…
Korean Air War The Korean War was the first serious clash of the Cold War, but it also witnessed a small and often-overlooked revolution in airpower. During the conflict, the last generation of…
The Western Front In this authoritative new history, WWI historian Nick Lloyd goes against the widespread myth of the war of 1914-1918 as one of stupidity and pointlessness. Amid the mud and mire…
Mission France Despite the deserved praise for Special Operations Executive members Violette Szabo and Noor Inayat Khan, many of its other agents are forgotten. Kate Vigurs here attempts to redress the balance,…
Barbarossa and the Bloodiest War in History On a fateful Sunday in late June 1941, millions of German soldiers poured into the Soviet Union, beginning Operation Barbarossa: the Nazis’ war of annihilation in the East. Stewart Binns…
The Compleat Victory In the summer of 1777, British forces were waging a campaign to finally crush the American rebellion. Kevin Weddle here analyses how Continental Army and Militia forces under Major General…
Operation Pedestal: the fleet that battled Malta’s strategic significance to the Allied war effort was not lost on the Luftwaffe: in the spring of 1942 alone, they dropped more bombs on the island than they did…

From the editor

We devote the special this time to our occasional series on airpower. We analyse airpower’s coming of age in the context of the military revolution of 1918, when a new kind of combined-arms tactics based on machines, firepower, and infiltration ended trench-war stalemate and restored a war of movement.

This became the basis of tactics through the rest of the 20th century. The Hundred Days Offensive of 1918 has more in common with the Blitzkrieg operations of 1940 than with either the Battle of the Marne in 1914 or the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Airpower was an increasingly important part of this transformation in war.

Two very different aspects of the Second World War are covered – in Andrew Chatterton’s report on the latest research on Britain’s secret resistance forces, and in John Sweetman’s analysis of the Fleet Air Arm attacks on the Tirpitz in 1944.

Earlier periods are represented in Edmund West’s article on the Swiss in the Late Middle Ages – peasant pikemen who evolved into a Renaissance military elite – and in Patrick Mercer’s latest regiment feature, where his focus is the 9th (East Norfolk) Regiment of Foot in the little-remembered Walcheren Campaign of 1809.