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August 22, 2011

Call it the English way of war

It isn't fashionable to talk in terms of national character these days. But reading a Wikipedia entry on Cross-Channel guns in the Second World War, I am forced to turn to the old stories to make sense of the facts. Let them speak for themselves.

Say you are going to build these big bastard guns in Kent and the Pas-de-Calais with an aim to smashing enemy shipping in the Channel and causing generalized mayhem and distress on the land opposite. What to call them?

If you are German, your 38 cm opening move is the Siegfried Battery, this followed by a variety of evocative maniacs in uniform along the lines of Friedrich August, Prinz Heinrich and, naturally, Adolf. These topped by the four 38 cm guns of the Battery Todt.

Now say you are in charge of the British response. Naming your first gun is easy, it's Winnie, an affectionate nod to the Prime Minister. Your second 14 inch monster is easier still; it's Pooh. Obviously.

Verdict: We weren't the baddies. But we were badass.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at August 22, 2011 07:27 AM