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History of War

History of War No. 72

From the conquering legions of Ancient Rome to the thunderous tank battles of World War II and beyond, History of War takes you deeper inside the minds of history’s fighting men, further under the bonnets of some of the world’s most devastating war machines, and higher above the battlefield to see the broad sweep of conflict as it happened.

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United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd
13 Issues

in this issue

1 min.

TOM GARNER Tom had his work cut out for him this month, with a foot both in ancient world (Frontline: Second Punic War, starting on page 14) and 20th century conflicts (interview with Falklands War veteran George Thomsen, page 54). STUART HADAWAY This issue Stuart takes a look at the lesser-known Boulton Paul Defiant for the Operator’s Handbook (page 74). He also explores the brutal Siege of Seringapatam, as the East India Company invaded the Kingdom of Mysore (page 46). MARIANNA BUKOWSKI Alongside our cover feature on Operation Market Garden this month, Marianna takes a look at the contribution of the 1st Independent Polish Parachute Brigade to the battle, led by the formidable Stanislaw Sosabowski (page 38). FOR MORE FROM THE HISTORY OF WAR TEAM VISIT: WWW.HISTORYANSWERS.CO.UK…

1 min.

After the Allied invasion of Occupied France, culminating in the Battle of the Falaise Pocket that devastated and routed the German 7th Army, many could have hoped the end of the war was in sight. If successful, Operation Market Garden was intended to bring that end, yet infamously it turned into a military disaster, and is still the subject of controversy and debate 75 years later. This issue, historian William F Buckingham explores some of the popular myths surrounding the operation, and suggests why the real reasons for the failure might be more fundamental than previously thought.…

1 min.
war in focus

FIRE SUPPORT Taken: 9 June, 1951 An American gun crew crouches as they fire their M20 75mm recoilless rifle, in support of infantry units across the valley. First deployed in the closing months of WWII, the M20 became a mainstay of US forces and their allies in post-1945 conflicts. Although designed as an anti-tank weapon, it was also used against enemy infantry positions and light armour. TUNEFUL TRENCHES Taken: c. 1914 A soldier plays a travel or ‘trench’ cello for his comrades during the early months of WWI. Although many soldiers were known to build improvised instruments from ammunition boxes and other materials, these small, compact box cellos were designed for holidays and long-distance travel. Once war broke out they proved ideal for dismal, cramped trenches. MELTING POINT Taken: 1943 German soldiers melting snow for drinking water in…

5 min.
second punic war

264 BCE – ORIGINS Carthage is defeated in the First Punic War (264-241 BCE) and loses Sardinia and Corsica to Rome. However, the Carthaginians gain control in Iberia and tensions rise over the hegemony of Saguntum, a Hellenized coastal city with Roman connections. May-December 219 BCE SIEGE OF SAGUNTUM 01 Hannibal, the Carthaginian military leader in Iberia, besieges pro-Roman Saguntum. Rome does not send aid and Hannibal kills every adult in the city after they refuse to leave unarmed. War consequently breaks out the following year. September 218 BCE BATTLE OF RHONE CROSSING Due to Roman control of the Mediterranean Sea, Hannibal decides to attack Italy overland from the north. Moving up from Spain into southern France, the Carthaginians must cross the Rhône River to enter Italy. They defeat local Volcae Gallic tribesmen and cross the river in…

3 min.
the battle of cannae

“BOTH FORCES OF HANNIBAL’S CAVALRY THEN STOPPED AND PREPARED TO RETURN TO THE BATTLEFIELD, CHARGING INTO THE REAR OF THE ROMAN INFANTRY FORMATION” Hannibal, sworn to enmity for Rome since childhood, quickly defeated two Roman armies at the Trebia and Lake Trasimene, shortly after invading Italy. However, on the large sweeping plains near Cannae, he would meet a very different challenge. Those victories had been achieved largely thanks to Roman hubris and error, but now Rome had raised a new army, 80,000 strong to face Hannibal’s own force of less than half that number. The Carthaginian had more (and better) cavalry, but in this period it was largely the heavy infantry that won battles. Rome had new consuls, Gaius Terrentius Varro and Lucius Aemilius Paulus, who would take them to victory.…

1 min.
rome’s triple threat

Rome developed its three fighting lines over centuries of experience. Each man was armed with a spear (pila, heavy throwing), sword (gladius), and shield (scuta). The Hastati were in the front rank, the youngest, in units (maniples) of 120 men each. There were ten such units in a legion. Behind them were the more experienced Principes who were similarly equipped and also organised into maniples of 120 men. Both Hastati and Principes would advance, throw their pila and then draw their swords for hand-to-hand combat. The last line consisted of the most experienced men, the Triarii. Armed with heavier spears they would shore up the line and hold fast – it became a Roman saying in difficult times that ‘it comes down to the Triarii’ because they were the last…