Military History Matters 129

Cover Story

The BBC at war This year marks the centenary of the birth of the BBC. To celebrate, Taylor Downing looks at how the Corporation came of age during the Second World War.

Features

Warfare & the Wall: the genesis of a Roman frontier Matthew Symonds examines the resistance that Roman forces faced as they strove to conquer Britain.
Case Blue: the Eastern Front between Barbarossa and Stalingrad Eighty years on, David Porter analyses Germany’s plan to launch another great offensive in the summer of 1942.
Backs against the Wall, 117-113 In the early years of Hadrian’s reign, the military situation in Britain was in danger of spiralling out of control. The emperor hit on a radical solution, as Matthew Symonds…
The worst commanders in history? What makes a good or bad military leader? Is it just the winning and losing of battles, or does personality also play a part? A new book looks at some…
The Red and the Blue: when Britain and the US almost went to war in 1862 Britain and the US have not always enjoyed a ‘special relationship’. During the 19th century, relations between the two were often tense. William Stroock looks at a moment when war…

News

British soldiers whose remains were excavated in Dutch city died of illness, not injury, research finds Located in the centre of the Netherlands, Vianen saw two wars in the 18th century, the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748) and later the Flanders campaign of 1793-1795.
New gallery explores the Queen’s relationship with the armed forces It draws on the museum’s extensive image archive to chart the monarch’s experiences of war, from growing up in the early 1940s to her continuing official duties as Head of…
Last surviving D-Day ration pack discovered Originally found in 2006, the sealed ration pack was mistakenly identified as an artefact from the 1950s.
Research project announced into royal shipwreck discovered off Norfolk coast Due to her age and prestige, the condition of the wreck, and the accident’s political context, the discovery has been described as the most important British maritime find since that…
Ancient ceramic vessels were used as hand grenades, analysis suggests Four pot sherds found between 1961 and 1967 in the Armenian Garden, located within the walled Old City of Jerusalem, were studied as part of the research.

Views

Military History Matters 129 – Letters Letters Your thoughts on issues raised by the magazine.
The Casco-class Monitors Ideas Following the success of USS Monitor – the ground-breaking ironclad warship, designed by Swedish-born engineer John Ericsson, that played a central role in the US Civil War Battle of Hampton…
Military history events, exhibitions and experiences in 2022 Museum, What's on A round-up of some of the best military history events, lectures, and exhibitions.
War Classics: From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow Comment, People More than half a century after its publication, it is widely regarded as the inescapable starting point for scholars working on early 20th-century British naval history. What made Marder such…
MHM 129 Crossword Competitions Put you military history knowledge to the test!
MHM129 competition: win a copy of At the Gates of Rome! Competitions Put your military history knowledge to the test with our competition, and be in with a chance to win a copy of Don Hollway's At the Gates of Rome.
Roland Penrose, ‘camouflage evangelist’ People, What's on ‘The tendency in warfare up to very recent times,’ wrote Roland Penrose in his 1941 book The Home Guard Manual of Camouflage, ‘has been to rely on sheer strength and…
War of words – ‘Bazooka’ Ideas, Objects A signature piece of kit for American GIs in World War II, the bazooka was a tubular, shoulder-fired, 2.36-inch rocket launcher. It fired a projectile bearing a shaped-charge warhead, which…

Reviews

The Restless Republic: Britain without a crown The execution of King Charles I in January 1649 and the subsequent abolition of the monarchy turned Britain into a republic, which it would remain until the Restoration of Charles…
Military history events, exhibitions and experiences in 2022 A round-up of some of the best military history events, lectures, and exhibitions.
Victory at Sea: naval power and the transformation of the global order in World War II REVIEW BY GRAHAM GOODLAD The Second World War at sea has been the subject of several outstanding overviews in recent years. Phillips Payson O’Brien’s innovative How the War was Won…
Review: Fort George Open 9.30am-5.30pm daily (April to September) and 10am-4pm daily (October to March)Ardersier, Inverness, IV2 7TDwww.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/fort-george/+44 (0) 1667 462 834 Fort George is an imposing reminder of a turbulent period in…
War on film – Enemy at the Gates As the Russian army commits appalling atrocities in Ukraine, it might not feel like the best time to recall the heroism of the Red Army in the Second World War.…
The Facemaker: one surgeon’s battle to mend the disfigured soldiers of World War I REVIEW BY CALUM HENDERSON. William Vicarage was just 20 years old when he sustained severe cordite burns aboard HMS Malaya during the Battle of Jutland in 1916. As well as…
Roland Penrose, ‘camouflage evangelist’ ‘The tendency in warfare up to very recent times,’ wrote Roland Penrose in his 1941 book The Home Guard Manual of Camouflage, ‘has been to rely on sheer strength and…
Berlin: life and loss in the city that shaped the century Covering the period from the end of the Great War to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, this is a well-researched and very…

From the editor

Nearly 2,000 years after its construction, Hadrian’s Wall remains Britain’s most impressive military fortification. Stretching more than 80 Roman miles (117km) from coast to coast, it provides a vivid reminder of Roman occupation. But the question of why exactly it was built is still a matter of debate. Was it, as some have argued, designed as a way of repulsing full-blown barbarian armies? Or was it, as others contend, simply a means to control and tax the peaceful movement of people?

In our special this issue, Matthew Symonds examines evidence of earlier clashes between Britons and Romans that raises a fascinating new possibility: that Hadrian’s great legacy was conceived instead as a radical solution to a guerrilla threat that was in danger of spiralling out of control.

Also in this issue, you’ll find two features linked to the Second World War. In the first, David Porter analyses Case Blue, Hitler’s doomed attempt to launch a major new offensive on the Eastern Front in the summer of 1942. In the second, Taylor Downing celebrates the 100th anniversary of the BBC by looking at the Corporation’s finest hour, when it came of age during the conflict of 1939-1945.

Elsewhere, we ask: what makes a truly terrible military commander? Is it just a matter of winning and losing in battle, or does character also count? In an extract from a new book, three historians put forward their nominations for the most disastrous generals down the ages.

And finally, William Stroock recalls the Trent Affair, taking us back to the moment in 1862 when Britain and the United States nearly went to war.
LAURENCE EARLE