Waterloo

Since I saw the first Sharpe TV Movie the Napoleonic Wars have held a certain interest for me and I admit to seeking out all of Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe books over the years, as well as all the TV Movies.

Next year (2015, this year by the time most people read this) sees the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, as we British call it anyway.  I’ve never bothered to collect and paint a true Napolenoic army (yes I have a big Slaughterloo army covering Krautians and Orcs) and whilst I doubt I ever will the interest is there.  So when I saw Bernard Cornwell’s historical text on Waterloo at half price I picked it up.  Now that was a few months ago now, but I’ve finally finished reading it.  I already had Mark Adkin’s Waterloo Companion on my shelf, but this is a great addition to that text.  What Cornwell lacks in maps and diagrams he makes up for in his writing style and the quotes from various soldiers on all three sides.  The strapline (not sure I got the right phrase there) is “The history of four days, three armies and three battles.”  It certainly covers what it says on the tin there.

In fact the book covers more than 4 days starting with the escape of Napoleon to the final victory of the allies at Waterloo.  It moves from the classic “Napoleon has humbugged me, by God!”, through the battles of Quatre-Bras, Ligny and of course Waterloo, the fighting at Wavre is mentioned as part of the battle of Waterloo.  It is clear throughout that Cornwell has researched the three battles very well and had certainly made use of some of the research from Sharpe’s Waterloo.  If you have an interest in military history then I really do recommend you get a copy of this book and read it, to often the Napoleonic Wars are forgotten but too many men died in them keeping europe free for us to forget.

All The Countries We’ve Ever Invaded.

I tend to read on my Kindle (other eReaders are available) these days, however when I was on driving to see my parents I spotted an interesting looking book in WHSmiths at the services.  Well that is what you miss when you go for eBooks that moment in the store when something catches your eye.  Anyway the book was entitled “All the Countries we’ve ever Invaded, and the few we never got round to” by Stuart Laycock.  The first thing that I noticed when looking at the back is that he refers to 193 countries that are currently UN member states and that we’ve “invaded” 171 of them.  Wow big numbers.

Britain has invaded all but 22 countries in the world in its long and colourful history, new research has found

So the 22 we haven’t “invaded” according to Stuart Laycock are; Andorra, Belarus, Bolivia, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo, Guatemala, Ivory Coast, Kyrgyzstan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Mali, Marshall Islands, Monaco, Mongolia, Paraguay, Sao Tome and Principe, Sweden, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Vatican City.

That’s quite a lot of countries were we have used military force, the author does leave his interpretation of Invading very wide and catches the times when Naval vessels are recorded to have acted with in territorial waters.  But it still left my with a few raised eyebrows.  The book is an excellent read if you want to find out about the little known invasions but leaves you needing to look up more information.  Some of these invasions are by Brits who had nothing particular to do with the government and some are by our ex-colonies at the request of the British Government.  My personal favourite is the Anglo-Soviet Invasion of Iraq and Iran during the Second World War, an invasion I certainly had never heard of.  To put it simply we were worried that they were getting too close to the Germans and we also saw a nice supply route into Russia, oh and don’t forget the oil.  We the asked the Indians to do the job for us, we leant them some troops, some generals etc but the Infantry was mostly Indian.  I’m sure there is an interesting wargame somewhere in this one so more research is needed.

In terms of other countries France has a little over 6 pages, well we’ve been squabbling with our neighbours since Roman times.  Germany, Greece and Portugal get about 4 pages each.  A lot of the invasions are associated with the Second World War and use attacking Vichy French colonies, but who’s counting.