Soviet Motor Rifles, 1970s-80s

For many young men, life in the Soviet Union was one of extreme militarisation. Once a youth turned 18, he would be conscripted into the armed forces for at least two years; aside from the violent process of dedovshchina (‘initiation’) that saw NCOs bully and harass their men, the average Soviet conscript was given basicContinue reading “Soviet Motor Rifles, 1970s-80s”

Italian colonial forces, 1890s

Italy, united as one nation relatively recently in 1861, hoped to arouse genuine feelings of patriotism and national identity, and saw acquiring colonies along the Red Sea in East Africa as the best way of doing so. In 1883 the government purchased land from an Italian firm, eventually expanding out to form colonies in modern-dayContinue reading “Italian colonial forces, 1890s”

The Fall of France, May-June 1940

By 1940, The Second World War threatened to overwhelm the whole of Western Europe; after the quick victory achieved against Poland in September 1939, the Germans focused their attentions on France and the Low Countries; despite a brave and hard-fought defence, French troops were ultimately unprepared for the blitzkrieg tactics that came to define GermanContinue reading “The Fall of France, May-June 1940”

Elite guardsmen, 5th century BC – present day

From left to right: Persian Immortal, 5th century BC The Immortals were among the finest warriors in the Achaemenid (Persian) Empire during its invasions of Greece. This elite corps numbered around 10,000 men; if a soldier was put out of action, he would quickly be replaced to keep the number of men the same. ThisContinue reading “Elite guardsmen, 5th century BC – present day”

Naval battle of the Imjin War, Korea, 1592-98

In 1592, Japan was united and ready to expand after years of continuous internal conflict. Under Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the neighbouring Chinese tributary state of Joseon (Korea) was the perfect target for Japanese expansion towards China. On land, the battle-hardened samurai made several swift advances, but at sea they suffered enormously. With their naval supply linesContinue reading “Naval battle of the Imjin War, Korea, 1592-98”

Last stand at Gandamak, 13th January 1842

The First Anglo-Afghan War (1839-42) saw forces of the British Army and East India Company support former ruler Shah Shuja Durrani, in the hopes of curbing Russian expansion towards India. Whilst they had successfully completed their objectives and reached Kabul by 1840, constant rebellions forced them and their camp followers to retreat from Kabul toContinue reading “Last stand at Gandamak, 13th January 1842”

The Eight-Nation Alliance, Boxer Rebellion, 1900

In the 19th century, China suffered at the hands of Western powers, with numerous wars and internal insurgencies plunging the once-mighty Qing Dynasty into decline. In 1899 a secret society- yi-he quan, ‘Boxers United in Righteousness’ – began attacks on foreigners and Christian missionaries who they felt had tarnished their nation’s dignity. By 1900 theseContinue reading “The Eight-Nation Alliance, Boxer Rebellion, 1900”

Battle of Poitiers, AD 732

The Battle of Poitiers was fought between Charles Martel of the Franks and Abdul-Rahman Al-Ghafiqi of Al-Andalus (Umayyad Spain). The latter’s forces encountered the Franks in between the towns of Poitiers and Tours. Largely an unsuccessful Muslim raid in France, this battle is often seen as one of the most decisive events in Western EuropeanContinue reading “Battle of Poitiers, AD 732”

Tlingit warriors, 18th-19th centuries

The Tlingit are a prominent Pacific Northwest indigenous people living in Alaska. Traditionally split into various clans and family groups, their main main source of economy came in the form of fishing and hunting, with wood as their chief material for manufacturing. Russian expansions in the late-18th century brought hostility and war. The Tlingit wereContinue reading “Tlingit warriors, 18th-19th centuries”

The Siege of Malta, 1565

As part of a period of expansion in the Mediterranean, the powerful Ottoman Empire under Sultan Suleiman I (r. 1520-66) waged an epic siege on the island of Malta, guarded by a small force of Hospitaller knights and troops. With superior numbers, the Ottomans used their heavy cannons and siege towers, but were repulsed timeContinue reading “The Siege of Malta, 1565”