Archive for the ‘History’ Category


The story of German scientists Fritz Haber and Clara Immerwahr and why the use of poison gas should remain a taboo

April 19th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

At about 5pm on 22 April 1915, French and Algerian troops on the Ypres front in Belgium noticed a lull in the German artillery fire that had been targeting their lines. Bracing themselves for an expected infantry advance, they were puzzled instead to observe a greenish-yellow cloud drifting towards them, then lapping over the tops of the […]

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Ever heard of the African revolutionary Thomas Sankara?

April 5th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

My second granddaughter is named Kara Jo – the second name after the Labour MP Jo Cox who was murdered and the first name after the African revolutionary who was assassinated. I confess that I had not previously heard of Sankara. However, as it happens, there is currently a play in London called simply “Sankara” […]

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It’s the centenary of the formation of the Royal Air Force

April 1st, 2018 by Roger Darlington

I suppose it was inevitable that I would grow up with a lifelong interest in the RAF and aircraft because my father was a fighter pilot in the service at the end of the Second World War although he was too young to see action. Many years later, I married the daughter of a famous […]

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The raid on Entebbe: a story you probably don’t know

March 12th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

I remember vividly the raid on Entebbe when Israeli special forces freed the hijacked passengers of an Air France flight in 1976. Indeed I remember subsequently seeing two films about the audacious episode. Now a new film, entitled simply “Entebbe”, is about to hit our screens in April and this has prompted “Guardian” columnist Hadley […]

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Stumbling Block and Last Address – remembering the past and its victims

March 8th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

In the 1990s, an initiative started in Germany called  the Stolpersteine project. Stolpersteine (stumbling blocks) are brass plaques the size of a cobblestone laid into the pavements of German towns and cities, outside the houses where the victims of Nazi atrocities had lived. Each plaque bears the name of the victim as well as the […]

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Ever heard of the cockleshell heroes?

January 24th, 2018 by Roger Darlington

In 1955, there was a British film called “The Cockleshell Heroes” which told the story of a daring British commando raid of 1942 when 10 men attempted to sink ships in the port of Bordeaux in German-occupied France. Six ships were damaged as a result of the mission, but only two of the 10 commandos survived. I […]

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A review of the 1928 film classic “October 1917”

January 3rd, 2018 by Roger Darlington

This is the black & white silent movie, written and directed by Grigoriy Aleksandrov and Sergei Eisenstein, which was produced to mark the tenth anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia and covers the dramatic events of February to November 1917. Famously it was created on such a grand scale – many scenes were shot […]

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So who exactly was Alexander Hamilton?

December 23rd, 2017 by Roger Darlington

This week, the multi-award-winning American musical “Hamilton” finally opened in London. But, until the success of the show on Broadway, most non-Americans knew nothing about Hamilton and I suspect that many Americans were not as familiar with his achievements as they should have been. I’ve just watched a recording of a two-hour American-made documentary on […]

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What images come to mind when you think of the Holocaust?

December 14th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

In this short article, my good friend Art Shostak writes: “For more than 70 years, [the] narrative has been flawed by overreliance on the horror story of the Shoah, a painful focus on atrocious acts perpetrators committed against victims. At the same time, little or no attention has been paid to its inseparable counterpart, what I […]

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The centenary of the largest man-made non-nuclear explosion

December 6th, 2017 by Roger Darlington

The Halifax Explosion was a maritime disaster in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, on the morning of 6 December 1917. SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship laden with high explosives, collided with the Norwegian vessel SS Imo in the Narrows, a strait connecting the upper Halifax Harbour to Bedford Basin. A fire on board the French […]

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