Chemical weapons again

The latest allegations that the regime of Bashar Al-Assad in Syria has been using chemical weapons against rebel targets got me thinking. What does it take? It takes a particular type of person or a particular state of desperation to use these sorts of weapons. As far as I can recall, Saddam Hussein was the last […]

The Guns of August

Although the First World War officially started on 28 July 1914, what we now know as ‘the Western Front’ didn’t start until 4 August when the Germans invaded neutral Belgium. There’s probably been more written about the causes of this war than just about any other subject in modern history, Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of […]

Nadia Popova, Hero of the Soviet Union

God only knows how many unsung heroes there must have been on the Russian side during the cataclysm of the Second World War. 11,635 were honoured as Heroes of the Soviet Union, one of whom was Nadia Popova, a night-bomber pilot who died on 8 July 2013, aged 91. Her story was nothing short of […]

Come you Masters of War

I was thinking about the global arms trade the other day in the context of reading an article in The Economist about the role of the Sunni-Shia schism in the Syrian civil war. Many parties are calling on the West to ‘arm the rebels’, which as we know from history, is a policy fraught with […]

Battle Picture Weekly lives again

When I was a boy I avidly read Battle Picture Weekly, a British war comic that astonishingly enough, turned up in my local newsagent every week. I would await each instalment with barely-constrained eagerness, desperate to find out what would happen to Major Eazy and Tewfik his Bedouin sidekick, D-Day Dawson, Johnny Red, the Rat […]

A superb resource for gamers

One of my oldest and best friends is, like me, a very keen player of board games. In fact, if one was being unkind one could say he was obsessed, but then, he has an obsessive kind of personality, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s only through obsession that we achieve excellence after […]

The Brest Fortress

Last night I watched a Russian film called ‘The Brest Fortress’ about the German storming of the fortress at Brest Litovsk on the Bug River on June 22 1941. This was the first day of the Barbarossa invasion and the attack came as a complete surprise to the defenders. This film shows, better than any I’ve […]

Computer gaming

As well as board games (see earlier blog) I’ve also taken an unhealthy interest in computer games along the way, and seen some of the things we could only dream about as teenagers come to fruition. This includes brilliant strategy games like Panzer General, Heroes of Might & Magic and of course, Civilization. This is […]

War fiction consolidated

If you’re a fan of war fiction, there’s plenty to choose from, but this genre falls into a pretty broad range of sub-categories and it can get rather confusing. For example, while both in essence ‘war books’, a serious biographical work like All quiet on the Western Front  can’t be considered in the same breath […]

Making a living out of writing

I consider myself an extremely fortunate person for a number of reasons, mostly to do with choosing my parents well and being born in Australia in the 20th century, the greatest Golden Age of peace and prosperity ever known in history probably. I had the good fortune to go to university and do a Bachelor […]