Hiram Maxim’s ‘Hun Stopper’ Was a Lethal Hose
In late 1915 Sir Hiram Maxim, famed inventor of the machine gun, approached the British government with the offer of a “repeating gun firing buckshot for clearing out captured trenches.” Memos from the U.K. Ministry of Munitions describe the gun as firing a cartridge containing eight buckshot and 200 birdshot... Read more
Woodrow Wilson Really, Really Worried About Germans Getting Silencers
The United States’ declaration of war on the German Empire in 1917 mentions by name the U.S.-made Maxim silencer. On April 6, 1917, Pres. Woodrow Wilson issued Presidential Proclamation #1364, declaring war on Germany and putting the United States on a war footing. The proclamation includes sections specifying items that... Read more
His Majesty’s Scary Steam Subs
This story first appeared on Nov. 6, 2015. Like the airplane, the submarine evolved in the early 20th century into a real weapon. But for the British Royal Navy, this posed a dilemma. The Admiralty’s battle plan for its revolutionary new dreadnoughts foresaw high-speed clashes between rival fleets armed with very-long-range... Read more
The Cartoonist, the Historian and Their War
This story first appeared on Dec. 29, 2013. While working on his classic World War I serial It Was the War of the Trenches, celebrated French cartoonist Jacques Tardi was approached by collector and historian Jean-Pierre Verney, who offered to correct some minor errors in War of the Trenches.... Read more
Infinite War
“The United States of Amnesia.” That’s what Gore Vidal once called us. We remember what we find it convenient to remember and forget everything else. That forgetfulness especially applies to the history of others. How could their past, way back when, have any meaning for us today? Well, it... Read more
Captain Blackadder Really Did Fight in World War I
This story originally appeared on June 26, 2014. BBC’s Blackadder is one of the funniest historical T.V comedies ever. The four series, which ran from 1983 to 1989, follow the conniving, cowardly Edmund Blackadder and his sidekick Baldrick through various epochs. The final series, Blackadder Goes Forth, is set... Read more
In 1918, British and German Tanks Clashed at Villers-Bretonneux
One hundred years ago, on the evening of April 23, 1918, a thousand German artillery pieces unleashed high-explosive shells and mustard gas around the French town of Villers-Bretonneux. Imperial Germany had launching a last-ditch Spring Offensive in the sector around Amiens in an attempt to defeat French and British... Read more
The Battlecruiser That Wouldn’t Die
On Aug. 1, 1914, the German battlecruiser Goeben was taking on coal, preparing to flee the Italian port of Brindisi in order to escape a pursuing British Royal Navy squadron. Thus began an epic pursuit across the Mediterranean, with effects that reverberated across World War I. In the years... Read more
La pistola que empezó la Primera Guerra Mundial
Posiblemente sea la muerte del archiduque austrohúngaro Franz Ferdinand a manos de Gavrilo Princip uno de los asesinatos más conocidos de la historia. Catalizó las disputas marciales, burocráticas y políticas que condujeron a la Primera Guerra Mundial. Por lo tanto, la pistola que Princip utilizó para matar a Ferdinand,... Read more
The Gun That Started World War I
Gavrilo Princip’s killing of Austria-Hungary’s archduke Franz Ferdinand is perhaps one of history’s best known assassinations. It catalysed the political, bureaucratic and martial wranglings that led to World War I. The gun Princip used to kill Ferdinand — an FN-Browning M1910 — is therefore one of history’s most significant... Read more
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