10 Facts About the Battle of Hastings

The Battle of Hastings is one of the most famous and significant in British history, despite taking place nearly 1,000 years ago. Like so many battles throughout time, it was sparked by one man’s desire to dethrone a king and claim the crown for himself. In this case, that man was a French duke whose victory in the battle was to usher in Norman rule over England. Here are 10 facts about the battle.

1. It was unusually long by medieval standards

Beginning at 9am on 14 October 1066, the battle lasted less than a day and is believed to have been over by nightfall. But although this may seem short by today’s standards, at the time such battles were often over within an hour.

2. It did not actually take place in Hastings

Although it became synonymous with this coastal town in Sussex, the battle actually took place in an area seven miles away. Today, this area is aptly named “Battle”.

3. Fighting was sparked by the arrival in England of William the Conqueror

William, who then held the duchy of Normandy in France, wanted to usurp England’s King Harold II. He believed the English throne had been promised to him by Harold’s predecessor, Edward the Confessor.

4. William had an advantage

The French duke had two weeks in between landing on the Sussex coast and the Battle of Hastings to prepare his forces for a confrontation with the English army. Harold and his troops, on the other hand, had been busy fighting another claimant to the throne in the north of England just three days ahead of William’s arrival. That, coupled with the fact that Harold’s men had to hurry back down south, meant they were battle-weary and exhausted when they began to fight. But despite this, the battle was closely fought.

5. It is not clear how many fighters took part

There is much debate over how many men were put forward by each of the opposing sides, though it is currently thought that both armies had between 5,000 and 7,000 men.

6. The battle was bloody

Thousands of men were killed and both leaders were feared dead at various points. However, it was Harold who eventually succumbed.

7. Harold met a gruesome end

The English king was killed during the final assault by the Normans but accounts differ as to how he actually died. One particularly grisly telling says he was killed when an arrow became lodged in his eye, while another describes how he was hacked to death.

8. The battle has been immortalised in the Bayeux Tapestry

This embroidered cloth, measuring nearly 70 metres in length, depicts scenes from the tale of the Norman conquest of England. The tapestry was made in the 11th century but is remarkably well preserved.

9. Early accounts of the battle rely on two main sources

One is chronicler William of Poitiers and the other is the Bayeux Tapestry. William of Poitiers was a Norman soldier and although he did not fight at the Battle of Hastings himself, it was clear he knew those who had.

10. The battle brought an end to more than 600 years of rule in England by the Anglo-Saxons

In its place came Norman rule and that brought with it many wide-reaching changes, including to language, architecture and English foreign policy.

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Blackbeard: History of the Dreaded Pirate

Pirate

The pirate Blackbeard is perhaps the most notorious of sea robbers.

He and other pirates plagued shipping lanes off North America and throughout the Caribbean in the early-eighteenth century: an era commonly referred to as the “Golden Age of Piracy.”

From Anonymity, a Life of War and Roguery

Despite his legendary reputation, little is known about the early life of Blackbeard. Even his true name is uncertain, though it is usually given as some variation of Edward Thatch or Teach.

He is reported to have served as a privateer during Queen Anne’s War (1701 – 1714), and turned to piracy sometime after the war’s conclusion.

In Pursuit of a Famous Pirate

N.C.-based Maritime archaeologist and historian David Moore spent considerable time tracing the history of Blackbeard.

The earliest primary source document Moore located that mentions the pirate by name dates to the summer of 1717. Other records indicate that by the fall of 1717 Blackbeard was operating off Delaware and Chesapeake bays in conjunction with two other pirate captains, Benjamin Hornigold and Stede Bonnet.

Blackbeard served an apprenticeship under Hornigold before becoming a pirate captain in his own right.

Learn More About Stede Bonnet

Queen in the Caribbean

Late in the fall of 1717, the pirates made their way to the eastern Caribbean. It was here, off the island of Martinique, that Blackbeard and his fellow pirates captured the French slaveship La Concorde –– a vessel he would keep as his flagship and rename Queen Anne’s Revenge.

After crossing the Atlantic during its third journey, and only 100 miles from Martinique, the French ship encountered Blackbeard and his company. According to a primary account, the pirates were aboard two sloops, one with 120 men and twelve cannon, and the other with thirty men and eight cannon.

With the French crew already reduced by sixteen fatalities and another thirty-six seriously ill from scurvy and dysentery, the French were powerless to resist. After the pirates fired two volleys at La Concorde, Captain Dosset surrendered the ship.

View Real Weaponry Found on the Ship

From La Concorde to Mauvaise Rencontre

The pirates took La Concorde to the island of Bequia in the Grenadines where the French crew and the enslaved Africans were put ashore. While the pirates searched La Concorde, the French cabin boy, Louis Arot, informed them of the gold dust that was aboard. The pirates searched the French officers and crew and seized the gold.

The cabin boy and three of his fellow French crewmen voluntarily joined the pirates, and ten others were taken by force including a pilot, three surgeons, two carpenters, two sailors, and the cook. Blackbeard and his crew decided to keep La Concorde and left the French the smaller of the two pirate sloops.

The French gave their new and much smaller vessel the appropriate name Mauvaise Rencontre (Bad Encounter) and, in two trips, succeeded in transporting the remaining Africans from Bequia to Martinique.

Sailing, Slaving, and PiracyLearn about the La Concorde’s journeys prior to its capture by Blackbeard.

View Artifacts: Tools and InstrumentsExamine some of the tools and instruments Blackbeard and his crew used to navigate and survive at sea.

An Increasingly Dangerous Pirate Force, 1717-18

Leaving Bequia in late November, Blackbeard with his new ship, now renamed Queen Anne’s Revenge, cruised the Caribbean, taking prizes and adding to his fleet. According to David Moore’s research, from the Grenadines, Blackbeard sailed north along the Lesser Antilles plundering ships near St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Nevis, and Antigua, and by early December he had arrived off the eastern end of Puerto Rico.

From there, a former captive reported that the pirates were headed to Samana Bay in Hispaniola (Dominican Republic).

By April 1718, the pirates were off the Turneffe Islands in the Bay of Honduras. It was there that Blackbeard captured the sloop Adventure, forcing the sloop’s captain, David Herriot, to join him. Sailing east once again, the pirates passed near the Cayman Islands and captured a Spanish sloop off Cuba that they also added to their flotilla.

Blackbeard Terrorizes Charleston, 1718

Turning north, they sailed through the Bahamas and proceeded up the North American coast. In May 1718, the pirates arrived off Charleston, South Carolina, with Queen Anne’s Revenge and three smaller sloops.

In perhaps the most brazen act of his piratical career, Blackbeard blockaded the port of Charleston for nearly a week. The pirates seized several ships attempting to enter or leave the port and detained the crew and passengers of one ship, the Crowley, as prisoners.

As ransom for the hostages, Blackbeard demanded a chest of medicine. Once delivered, the captives were released, and the pirates continued their journey up the coast.

Charles Johnson’s A General History of the Pyrates, p. 73″Teach detained all the Ships and Prisoners, and, being in want of medicines, resolves to demand a Chest from the Government of the Province… threatning [sic], that if they did not send immediately the Chest of Medicines, and let the Pyrate-Ambassadors return… they would murder all their Prisoners…”

Mishaps Off the North Carolina Coast

Soon after leaving Charleston, Blackbeard’s fleet attempted to enter Old Topsail Inlet in North Carolina, now known as Beaufort Inlet. During that attempt, Queen Anne’s Revenge and the sloop Adventure grounded on the ocean bar and were abandoned. Research by David Moore, and others, has uncovered two eyewitness accounts that shed light on where the two pirate vessels were lost.

According to a deposition given by David Herriot, the former captain of Adventure, “the said Thatch’s ship Queen Anne’s Revenge run a-ground off of the Bar of Topsail-Inlet.” Herriot further states that Adventure “run a-ground likewise about Gun-shot from the said Thatch”.

Captain Ellis Brand of the HMS Lyme provided additional insight as to where the two ships were lost in a letter (July 12, 1718) to the Lords of Admiralty. In that letter Brand stated that: “On the 10th of June or thereabouts a large pyrate Ship of forty Guns with three Sloops in her company came upon the coast of North carolina ware they endeavour’d To goe in to a harbour, call’d Topsail Inlet, the Ship Stuck upon the barr att the entrance of the harbour and is lost; as is one of the sloops.”

See Blackbeard Artifacts in BeaufortVisit the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort’s popular exhibit featuring a huge selection of artifacts from the Queen Anne’s Revenge.

Was the Loss of QAR Blackbeard’s Gambit?

In his deposition, Herriot claims that Blackbeard intentionally grounded Queen Anne’s Revenge and Adventure in order to break up the company, which by this time had grown to over 300 pirates. Intentional or not, that is what happened as Blackbeard marooned some pirates and left Beaufort with a hand picked crew and most of the valuable plunder.

The Reckoning

Blackbeard’s piratical career ended six months later at Ocracoke Inlet on the North Carolina coast. There he encountered an armed contingent sent by Virginia Governor Alexander Spotswood and led by Royal Navy Lieutenant Robert Maynard.

In a desperate battle aboard Maynard’s sloop, Blackbeard and a number of his fellow pirates were killed. Maynard returned to Virginia with the surviving pirates and the grim trophy of Blackbeard’s severed head hanging from the sloop’s bowsprit.

Buy “Blackbeard Reconsidered: Mist’s Piracy, Thache’s Genealogy”Read the book from North Carolina Historical Publications to learn more about Blackbeard’s family and origins.

Blackbeard Reconsidered

In 2015, historian Baylus Brooks examined official government records in Jamaica and Church of England records to gain new insight into the identity of Blackbeard. Brooks was able to assembly the immediate lineage of Edward Thache, a respected resident of Spanish Town, Jamaica.

Because of this work, Blackbeard’s actions now can be placed in an appropriate historical context. Brooks’s genealogical research is enhanced by Blackbeard’s family tree contained in the book he wrote on the subject, which also includes information on when the family moved to Jamaica.

Animation shows how the Allies bombed Hitler and Nazis into submission

The animation was created by the Imperial War Museum to mark the re-opening of the American Air Museum

It shows the progress of the Allied strategic bombing campaign against the Germans from 1939 to 1945 

The map is designed to highlight way the Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Forces worked together

Bombing was essential to win the war for the Allies but has been criticised for killing thousands of civilians 

 

AIR CAMPAIGN THAT WON THE WAR

In the first few months of the war the British strategic bombing avoided targeting civilians and private property, as it was believed to be unjustifiable. But by 1945, entire German cities were being obliterated overnight.

No major German city avoided being bombed during the war and many were half-destroyed, including Cologne, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Dresden.

The RAF Bomber Command had dropped nearly one million tonnes of bombs in the course of 390,000 operations. The US Army Air Forces dropped more than 600,000 tonnes between 1942 and 1945.

The USAAF would carry out ’round the clock’ raids with its RAF counterparts – the American attacked by day and the British by night. German civilian deaths are estimated in the region of 400,000.

The progress of the Allied bombing campaign which helped to win the Second World War has been graphically illustrated in an extraordinary animation.

The map pinpoints the exact location of every bombing raid by either the Royal Air Force or the United States Army Air Forces from the start of the conflict in 1939 until its end six years later.

It vividly demonstrates the importance of the 1.6million tonnes of explosive deployed against the Nazis and their allies – and the way Britain and America collaborated in the war.

Map animation shows raids on occupied Europe from 1943 to 1945
  Beginnings: This image shows how the Allied bombing campaign against Germany was initially limited to just a few raids

Beginnings: This image shows how the Allied bombing campaign against Germany was initially limited to just a few raids

Allies: In December 1941, the US joined the Second World War; their raids are shown on the IWM map with red dots

Allies: In December 1941, the US joined the Second World War; their raids are shown on the IWM map with red dots

The animation was created by researchers from the Imperial War Museum in order to mark the re-opening of the American Air Museum in Duxford, Cambridgeshire.

It is the first time the full extent of the Allies’ strategic bombing campaign against Hitler has been documented in this graphic format.

The video shows how in the early years of the war bombing raids were deployed relatively seldom, becoming more important as the conflict went on.

The US joined the war in December 1941, and from then on the RAF and the USAAF worked together to defeat the Axis threat in Europe.

Turning point: Around the time of D-Day in 1944, the volume of bombing attacks by the RAF and USAAF began to increase

Turning point: Around the time of D-Day in 1944, the volume of bombing attacks by the RAF and USAAF began to increase

Destruction: The two air forces jointly shouldered the burden of attacking the Nazis, as shown by the mixture of blue and red dots here

Destruction: The two air forces jointly shouldered the burden of attacking the Nazis, as shown by the mixture of blue and red dots here

Toll: This final image shows the location of every Allied bomb dropped on Western Europe from 1939 to 1945

Toll: This final image shows the location of every Allied bomb dropped on Western Europe from 1939 to 1945

The IWM graphic depicts RAF raids in blue and USAAF ones in red, demonstrating how the burden which was initially shouldered by Britain became increasingly shared by both air forces.

More than 80 per cent of bombing raids took place in the final 18 months of the war as the Allies advanced against Germany, recapturing France and then moving eastwards towards Hitler’s capital of Berlin.

A sudden flurry of bombs can be seen in the map in June 1944 – marking D-Day, when the air forces worked to support ground troops who landed on the beaches of Normandy in the action which decisively turned the tide of the war.

The bombing campaign is often credited with winning the Second World War for the Allies – but the tactics were also controversial because they led to hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, with British commander ‘Bomber’ Harris eschewing precision targeting in favour of area bombing

Aircraft: Many of the bombing raids were carried out by the Lancaster Bomber, pictured here at a British airfield in 1942

Aircraft: Many of the bombing raids were carried out by the Lancaster Bomber, pictured here at a British airfield in 1942

Damage: This picture shows the city of Dresden in February 1945 after a campaign of bombing by the Allies

Damage: This picture shows the city of Dresden in February 1945 after a campaign of bombing by the Allies

The animation project was spearheaded by researcher Emily Charles, who pored over RAF and USAAF records to chronicle every single Second World War raid.

She told MailOnline that existing books which describe the raids often fail to give their exact targets, so she had to go back to the original documents to rediscover details of the missions.

Describing how the bombing raids ended up affecting most of Western Europe, she added: ‘You look at the map and there’s not much that’s not covered in colour.’

The animation chronicles how the bombing started in France, spreading east towards the Netherlands and Germany before pausing in 1944 as the Allies prepared for D-Day, and then returning with a vengeance and sweeping in to Hitler’s heartland.

An interactive version of the video as well as other animations will be available to visitors at the American Air Museum once it reopens on Saturday.

The museum, part of IWM Duxford, tells the story of collaboration between Britain and the US from 1918 until the present day.

Among its other displays are aircraft used in the Gulf War and in the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as older planes from the Second World War.

Around 30,000 US airmen were killed while serving in Europe during the war against Hitler.

Diane Lees, director-general of IWM, said: ‘The transformed American Air Museum will tell the story of the relationship between Britain and America in very human terms.

‘Personal stories come to the fore, vividly demonstrating the consequences of war in the 20th and 21st centuries.’

 

 

Black Sheep One: Marine Fighter Ace With 26 Kills -Gregory “Pappy” Boyington

Pappy

Gregory Boyington would often muse that during his 20 months as a Japanese POW that his health actually improved due to the forced sobriety. Affectionately known by his men as “Pappy,” Boyington was a Marine fighter ace with a confirmed 26 kills who was known for his exceptional ability in combat as well as his hard living and outspoken demeanour.

In a global war for survival, such men are often prized more than they would be in garrison and Pappy was no exception. One of the few Marines to receive both the Medal of Honor and Navy Cross, this fighter ace would fight his way into the halls of military history as well as Hollywood.

Many might know him from the 1970’s show Baa Baa Black Sheep, which mused about his time with the famed Black Sheep Squadron. But fact is more fascinating than fiction, and the true story of Pappy Boyington proves he was a man truly larger than life itself.

Born to Fly and Fight

Born in 1912 in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, he initially had the last name of Hallenback which was that of his presumed stepfather. He grew up in the Northwest where he would harness his desire to jump into a fight through high school and college wrestling.

Enrolling in Army ROTC while at the University of Washington, he subsequently graduated in 1934 with a degree in aeronautical engineering. After marrying, he attempted to enroll for flight training under the Aviation Cadet Act of 1935 but unfortunately found out that it excluded any men who were married.

A fortunate discovery led him to realize that his father was actually one Charles Boyington, who had divorced his mother when Gregory was just an infant. With the name Boyington on his birth certificate, Gregory Boyington was able to enroll as a US Marine Corps aviation cadet as there were no records under that name showing him as being married.
By mid-1935, he was able to transfer from his commission with the Army to the US Marine Corps Reserve and begin his training as an aviator in 1936.

flying_tigers

Flying Tiger aircraft in China via archives.gov
It was actually here in training that Pappy would pick up his affinity for liquor and the rest of the 1930’s for Boyington was spent training, drinking, and then training some more often followed by more hard drinking. By his own admission, Boyington acknowledged his hard lifestyle made for a lot of conflict during his time in the Marines.

However, in August of 1941, Pappy Boyington would get his first chance to jump into the fight as he resigned his commission with the Marines to join the famed Flying Tigers in China. Pappy said of the American Volunteer Group that they were “paying $675 per month with a bonus of $500 for every confirmed scalp you knocked down. In 1941 that was the same as making $5,000 a month today. And with an ex-wife, three kids, debts and my lifestyle, I really needed the work.”

A Path to Marine Corps History

Pappy’s time with the Flying Tigers was brief as he frequently clashed with the commander of the outfit, Claire Chennault.  He would gain valuable experience during his months flying in China and is credited with two Japanese air kills.  But with the United States in the war, Pappy broke his contract with the Flying Tigers and returned to the States in April of 1942.

In September, he rejoined the Marines and was commissioned a Major.  He would subsequently spend time with Marine Fighter Squadron 122 operating out of Guadalcanal and Marine Fighter Squadron 112 where he operated with little fanfare.

However, in September of 1943, he would become the Commanding Officer of Marine Fighter Squadron 214 where he would find his home and fame with the “Black Sheep Squadron.”

 

Pappy in his Corsair via archives.gov
Pappy in his Corsair via archives.gov

 

Given Boyington’s reputation for hard living, one could hardly think of a more apt name for the squadron led by the Major.  At 31 years old, he was nearly a decade older than most of the men he commanded which led to the nickname “Pappy.”

Fighting in his Vought F4U Corsair, Pappy was quickly distinguishing himself as a force to be reckoned with in the Pacific and one Marine you don’t try to out drink while back at base. During his first tour with his new squadron over the South Pacific, he personally shot down 14 enemy fighters in just 32 days with his unit taking out many more.  By the end of the year, his number had climbed to 25 and his fame continued to grow.

On January 3rd, 1944, he scored his 26th kill during a raid over Rabaul before being shot down during the melee.  After a desperate search for their famed pilot, Pappy Boyington was officially listed as MIA.  However, Boyington had been saved, but unfortunately, it was at the hands of a Japanese submarine.

From here, he would be transferred to a variety of POW camps before making his way to the infamous Omori Prison Camp near Tokyo where he would spend time with fellow future Medal of Honor recipient and famed submarine captain Richard O’Kane.

The End of a Storied Career

Pappy was released after the Japanese surrender and returned to the United States in September where he was met by former members of the Black Sheep Squadron.  Covered by Life Magazine, the men of the Black Sheep had what was documented as one amazing party as only a man like Pappy himself could enjoy.

Pappy had already been awarded the Medal of Honor by the late Franklin D. Roosevelt, but it was held back until his status could be confirmed.  In October of 1945, he received the Medal of Honor from President Truman and celebrated it as only Pappy would.

Pappy's Return as covered by Life Magazine
Pappy’s Return as covered by Life Magazine

He retired from the Marines in 1947 and was awarded the rank of Colonel for his combat service.  With a Medal of Honour and Navy Cross to show for it, Pappy Boyington would be one of the most celebrated aces of World War 2 as much for his personality as his action in combat.

The man who partied and lived as hard as he fought eventually died in 1988 after a long battle with cancer.  He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery as an iconic symbol of the United States Marine who know how to fight and knows how to live.

6 Famous WWI Fighter Aces