Military History Matters 125

Cover Story

Pearl Harbor and the Rise of Imperial Japan David Porter charts Japan’s heady ascent from secluded feudal dictatorship to Pacific superpower in less than a century.
Pearl Harbor: The Attack, 7 December 1941 David Porter analyses the Japanese surprise attack on the US Pacific fleet.


How the Americans defeated the British in the Revolutionary War William V Wenger offers a forensic analysis of the American victory, apparently against the odds, in the war of 1775-1783.
Memorials of the Mighty Eighth Sam Edwards explores the many markers in the English countryside to the former presence of America’s WWII bomber fleet.
The Tudor Conquest of Ireland The English Tudors were determined to crush Irish independence, but Gaelic warriors fought back. Tim Newark describes the Irish warlords who took on the armies of Elizabeth I.
Second World War and Holocaust Galleries, IWM London MHM Assistant Editor Calum Henderson reviews the Imperial War Museum's latest exhibition.
All Sir Garnet! The Battle of Tel el-Kebir, 13 September 1882 It signalled a new age of empire – an age of armed intervention by industrialised European armies. The Scramble for Africa had begun. In this extended extract from his new…


Vikings settled in North America exactly 1,000 years ago, study confirms Discovered in 1960 and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is the first and only base established by the Vikings in North America.
Samurai armour goes back on display after conservation The suit was made in around 1830 in the Japanese province of Kaga, an important centre of armour production
Major new aircraft exhibition to display largest collection of Spitfires under one roof The exhibition opens at the Imperial War Museum’s Duxford branch in December
Roman courtyard unearthed at WWII bunker site on Alderney The discovery of the courtyard was made after years of searching.
Mass graves of Crusader soldiers identified in Lebanon Each of the bodies showed signs of serious injury and were buried with swords, maces, and arrows.


MHM Letters – November 2021 Letters Your thoughts on issues raised by the magazine.
Military History Events, Lectures, and Exhibitions – November 2021 Museum, What's on The best Military History events, lectures, and exhibitions running from November to April 2022.
War Classics – 1066: the year of the conquest Comment The Norman Conquest of England was a violent onslaught by barbaric feudal chivalry on what was, at the time, a sophisticated constitutional monarchy based on the rule of law, under…
Back to the Drawing Board: the Nock Volley Gun Objects David Porter on Military History's doomed inventions.
Guy Gibson at RAF Scampton, 1943 The Picture Desk In this image, Wing Commander Guy Gibson can be seen sitting in field of poppies at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire in July 1943. It was from this airbase that Gibson…
War of Words – ‘ARMAGEDDON’ Ideas 'Armageddon’ came to English, via Greek, from Hebrew har megiddo, meaning ‘mountain of Megiddo.’


The Pathfinders: the elite RAF force that turned the tide of WWII This well-written book tells the remarkable story of an extraordinary team of aviators and their support personnel, from a wide range of backgrounds and nationalities, who – to quote from…
Smiling Through: Heath Robinson’s cartoons in the Second World War Though he was 67 when the Second World War broke out, the celebrated cartoonist William Heath Robinson – best known for his drawings featuring crazy inventions – continued to produce…
Military History Events, Lectures, and Exhibitions – November 2021 The best Military History events, lectures, and exhibitions running from November to April 2022.
Anglo-Boer War Blockhouses: a military engineer’s perspective The final phase of the South African War of 1899-1902, in which Boer guerrillas were eventually overcome by British forces, has been extensively studied by historians. The concentration camps, in…
War on Film – Pearl Harbour Taylor Downing surveys screen depictions of Pearl Harbor in a ‘War on Film’ special.
MHM’s round-up of the latest military history titles – November 2021 •Total War: a people’s history of the Second World War • Churchill, Master and Commander: Winston Churchill at war 1895-1945 • A Dangerous Enterprise: secret war at sea • A…
The Edge of Europe – Heritage, Landscape, and Conflict Archaeology The passage of time reveals two things – the forgetfulness of human memory, and the clarity of hindsight – neither of which of course is a law. For the archaeology…
Taking Paris: the epic battle for the City of Lights ‘General Erwin Rommel has had a very busy weekend.’ So begins Martin Dugard’s latest book, Taking Paris. And immediately the reader knows two things. Firstly, the book does not only…
The Shape of Battle What can six battles across a thousand years of history tell us about the nature of warfare? Probably not a lot, as Allan Mallinson himself admits. In his latest book,…
The Making of Oliver Cromwell Oliver Cromwell was the pivotal figure of the English Revolution. He emerged from relative obscurity to become Parliament’s greatest commander of cavalry in the Civil War, the leader of the…

From the editor

It was perhaps the most tactically brilliant operation by naval aviation in military history: the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.

But, as David Porter explains in our special this time, it was a desperate gamble. Like Hitler in Europe, the Japanese were betting on a short war, a blitzkrieg that would bring their enemies to the negotiating table, knowing they could not win a long war of attrition against the European colonial powers and the United States.

They misjudged. The US aircraft carriers – the most important targets – were absent, and six months later they would win the Battle of Midway and turn the tide of war in the Pacific. Worse, Pearl Harbor enraged a sleeping giant that would wage a relentless war until the Japanese Empire was destroyed.

The Tudor conquest of Ireland in the late 16th century is the focus of Tim Newark’s article. As well as offering a vivid narrative, he dispels some myths about the supposed ‘backwardness’ of the Irish military resistance.

Also this issue we have an account of the Battle of Tel el-Kebir in 1882, when a modern British expeditionary force crushed an Egyptian nationalist army; an analysis of the Rebel victory in the American Revolutionary War; and a survey of the East Anglian memorials to the Mighty Eighth, the US bomber fleet stationed there during WWII.