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Culture & Literature
History of War

History of War No. 76

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.

United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd
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13 Issues

In this issue

1 min.

This year will see a unique series of poignant anniversaries for anyone interested in the history of World War II. 2020 marks both 80 and 75 years since among the most important and world-changing events of the war. One such event in January 1945 was Operation Bodenplatte – the Luftwaffe’s final bid to defeat Allied air superiority, following the defeat on the ground in the Battle of the Bulge. This mass of air attacks saw veteran and novice pilots thrown into combat, flying both outdated machines and cutting-edge jets. It was a tragic last chapter for a force that had once reigned supreme in Europe’s skies. FOR MORE FROM THE HISTORY OF WAR TEAM VISIT: WWW.HISTORYANSWERS.CO.UK…

1 min.

TOM GARNER This month Tom was honoured to speak with RAF veteran Allan Scott, who flew during the Battle of Britain and later during the Siege of Malta. Read his thrilling first-hand account of flying Spitfires and a host of other aircraft over on page 44. DAVID SMITH David is a writer, historian and visiting lecturer at the University of Chester, with an expertise in American military history. On page 36 he recounts the pivotal Battle of Quebec (1759), during the struggle for what would become Canada. STUART HADAWAY Stuart is an aviation historian, former curator of the Royal Air Force Museum and currently a senior researcher at the Air Historical Branch (RAF). For this issue’s cover feature he takes a look at Operation Bodenplatte (p. 26).…

1 min.
war in focus

STREET FIRE Taken: c. 1985 A militiaman is photographed in Beirut, during the Lebanese Civil War. What began in 1975 as a struggle between Christian and Muslim factions, soon attracted attention from neighbouring states. Syrian troops intervened in 1976, followed by Israeli forces in 1978. The UN Interim Force in Lebanon was installed the same year to help stabilise the region – as of 2019 it is still active. “RATS, RATS, BIG AS BLOOMING CATS!” Taken: c. 1914 French soldiers pose next to a tally of rats caught on the Western Front. Once both fronts had stagnated into static trench warfare, vermin infestations became a problem for troops on both sides of no-mans-land. Traps, terriers, or trusty bayonets were all used to hunt the long-tailed foe. PISTOL PRACTISE Taken: 8 December 1939 British recruits are instructed in using…

5 min.
conquest of the aztec empire

1517-18 EARLY EXPLORATIONS OF MEXICO Francisco Hernández de Córdoba and Juan de Grijalva lead expeditions to the Yucatán Peninsula and the southern coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Grijalva encounters a delegation of Motecuhzoma II and a Native American joins his expedition. This man is baptised and becomes an interpreter on Hernán Cortés’s later expedition. February-April 1519 CORTÉS’S EXPEDITION Hernán Cortés commands the third Spanish expedition to the Mexican coast. Although he is ordered to simply explore and trade, Cortés establishes himself as a military leader. He unlawfully sails from Cuba with 11 ships and over 600 men. Before landing in Aztec territory he gains a handful of translators including shipwrecked Spaniards and a Nahua woman called ‘La Malinche’. April-September 1519 01 MARCH INTO THE INTERIOR After founding Veracruz and scuttling his fleet, Cortés leads his expedition inland…

4 min.
the horrors of war

“AFTER THEY FINALLY SURRENDERED THE TLAXCALANS, TOTONACS, TEXCOCANS AND CHALCA WENT AROUND, PULLING PEOPLE FROM HOLES, CLUBBING THEM TO DEATH AND CANNIBALISING THEIR CORPSES” When the conquistadors arrived in Tenochtitlan, they discovered a society founded on an institutionalised cult of death. At the Great Temple, prisoners of war, slaves and even children sent from the provinces were sacrificed to delay the death of the fifth and final sun – the sun of the Aztecs. They were strapped to a slab and had their hearts cut out alive, a shockingly violent, terrifying death. Although the conquistadors had come for the gold, they justified their actions as a conquest to liberate Mexico from the barbaric Aztec yoke, in the name of Christendom. However, they were no saints. Before reaching Tenochtitlan, Cortés secured the Totonacs’…

6 min.
battle of otumba

In 1515, the Aztec tlatoani, the ‘speaker’ or emperor, Motecuhzoma II was warned that his empire was soon to be “ravaged and destroyed”. Soon after, a series of omens occurred: a foreboding comet, Huitzilopochtli’s temple spontaneously burned to the ground, another was struck by lightning and Lake Texcoco flooded its banks. When, in 1519, Motecuhzoma heard that a group of floating mountains had hit his shores, unloading enormous beasts with bearded white men atop, he assumed that the god Quetzalcoatl had returned to reclaim his realm from the Aztecs. In truth, their leader was no god, but the Spanish conquistador, Hernán Cortés, who had spent vast sums of his own wealth on an unsanctioned mission to conquer Mexico. Joined by just 600 fellow Castilians, he allied with the Tlaxcalans, a local…