The story of Anne Gunter is seriously one of the most interesting/entertaining bits of obscure history I know and it is the middle of the night so I’m gonna share it with you.
Okay so once upon a time there was a young woman named Anne Gunter who lived in a village in England at the beginning of the 17th century. One day Anne got really sick, and when physicians were brought in, she was diagnosed with POSSESSION, which is a thing that you could be diagnosed with back then. Now, keep in mind that possession had very specific symptoms (spitting up foreign objects, being able to speak foreign languages in a trance, bodily contortions, etc.) so there was like actual diagnostic criteria for that. This will be important.
Now, the cause of possession way back then wasn’t usually the modern day bullshit of playing around with a ouija board or buying a cursed doll off eBay or whatever. Possession was the direct result of a supernatural attack by a witch! So when someone got diagnosed with possession, well, a literal witch hunt usually followed. Anne pointed the finger at a few of their neighbors, Agnes Pepwell and her daughters. Like, admittedly Agnes Pepwell is a bitchin name for a witch, but here’s the truth. Agnes Pepwell just so happened to be an enemy of Anne’s father, Brian Gunter. The families were in this mortal feud because of a footie match gone wrong (because this is England and they go fuckin hard over their sports, and also because some people literally died) and they’d hated each other for years. You see where I’m going with this, right? Yeah. Anne was faking it. Pamphlets about witchcraft (containing warnings, interesting cases, etc.) were all the vogue back then, and they got their hands on one that basically told them the exact symptoms they needed to mimic.
But it’s not as simple as one woman faking possessed. Shit gets way crazier than that. No, Brian Gunter is the real douchebag in this story. According to Anne’s later testimony, he basically forced her to pretend to be possessed, and did really horribly physically and emotionally abusive things to her. Like even just the possession was pretty awful; he’d give her noxious brews to make her vomit and go into trances, and he’d make her conceal pins in her mouth. This is her father’s grudge here. And when the accused witches were acquitted (which, yes, did happen back then; it wasn’t all Salem level craziness) he did not back down. Instead he kept pushing things through to higher courts until he managed to get Anne’s case taken to - wait for it - King James I’s Star Chamber.
Now, King James I gets a bad rap in some history of witchcraft circles, but he is actually the good guy in this story. Brian Gunter was clearly expecting the witch-obsessed king to believe Anne’s story, but look, James was a straight up witchcraft otaku and you know how those guys get about canon details. The whole thing seemed hinky to King James, so he actually kept Anne at court for like a month, and he made her dad fuck off. Not so shockingly, once she was separated from her abusive dickbag of a father, Anne started to come around, and she ended up telling James the full truth. She actually begged leniency for her father, and he did seem to get away with it. We don’t actually have the results of his trial on historical record, but we know that he went back to the village to keep being an asshole for years to come. He was actually gentry, which probably had a lot to do with it.
AS FOR ANNE, well, this is where shit basically becomes a YA historical fiction novel. This part can’t be 100% verified, but there is historical support for the fact that she fell in love while at court and got married to the man she met there. The story even goes that James provided the dowry! So she stood before the king of England, escaped the clutches of her weird family, fell in love, and lived happily ever after! (Probably.)
THE WHOLE STORY IS A RIDE FROM START TO FINISH. I really recommend reading The Bewitching of Anne Gunter by James Sharpe if you’re interested in more information, because that book is hella detailed and super interesting.
The first German serviceman killed in the war was killed by the Japanese (China, 1937)
The first American serviceman killed was killed by the Russians (Finland 1940).
80% of Soviet males born in 1923 didn’t survive World War 2
The highest ranking American killed was Lt. Gen. Lesley McNair, killed by the US Army Air Corps.
Between 1939 and 1945 the Allies dropped 3.4 million tons of bombs, An average of about 27,700 tons of bombs each month.
12,000 heavy bombers were shot down in World War 2
2/3 of Allied bomber crews were lost for each plane destroyed
3 or 4 ground men were wounded for each killed
6 bomber crewmen were killed for each one wounded
Over 100,000 Allied bomber crewmen were killed over Europe
There were 433 Medals of Honor awarded during World War 2, 219 of them were given after the receipiant’s death
From 6 June 1944 to 8 May 1945 in Europe the Allies had 200,000 dead and 550,000 wounded
The youngest US serviceman was 12 year old Calvin Graham, USN. He was wounded in combat and given a Dishonorable Discharge for lying about his age. (His benefits were later restored by act of Congress).
At the time of Pearl Harbor, the top US Navy command was called CINCUS (pronounced “sink us”), the shoulder patch of the US Army’s 45th Infantry division was the swastika, and Hitler’s private train was named “Amerika”. All three were soon changed for PR purposes.
Germany lost 110 Division Commanders in combat
40,000 men served on U-Boats during World War 2; 30,000 never returned
More US servicemen died in the Air Corps that the Marine Corps. While completing the required 30 missions, your chance of being killed was 71%. Not that bombers were helpless. A B-17 carried 4 tons of bombs and 1.5 tons of machine gun ammo. The US 8th Air Force shot down 6,098 fighter planes, 1 for every 12,700 shots fired.
Germany’s power grid was much more vulnerable than realized. One estimate is that if just 1% of the bombs dropped on German industry had instead been dropped on power plants, German industry would have collapsed.
Generally speaking, there was no such thing as an average fighter pilot. You were either an ace or a target. For instance, Japanese ace Hiroyoshi Nishizawa shot down over 80 planes. He died while a passenger on a cargo plane.
It was a common practice on fighter planes to load every 5th found with a tracer round to aid in aiming. That was a mistake. The tracers had different ballistics so (at long range) if your tracers were hitting the target, 80% of your rounds were missing. Worse yet, the tracers instantly told your enemy he was under fire and from which direction. Worst of all was the practice of loading a string of tracers at the end of the belt to tell you that you were out of ammo. That was definitely not something you wanted to tell the enemy. Units that stopped using tracers saw their success rate nearly double and their loss rate go down.
When allied armies reached the Rhine, the first thing men did was pee in it. This was pretty universal from the lowest private to Winston Churchill (who made a big show of it) and Gen. Patton (who had himself photographed in the act).
German Me-264 bombers were capable of bombing New York City but it wasn’t worth the effort.
A number of air crewmen died of farts. (ascending to 20,000 ft. in an un-pressurized aircraft causes intestinal gas to expand 300%!)
Germany lost 40-45% of their aircraft during World War 2 to accidents
The Russians destroyed over 500 German aircraft by ramming them in midair (they also sometimes cleared minefields by marching over them). “It takes a brave man not to be a hero in the Red Army”. - Joseph Stalin
The average German officer slot had to be refilled 9.2 times
The US Army had more ships that the US Navy.
The German Air Force had 22 infantry divisions, 2 armor divisions, and 11 paratroop divisions. None of them were capable of airborne operations. The German Army had paratroops who WERE capable of airborne operations.
When the US Army landed in North Africa, among the equipment brought ashore were 3 complete Coca Cola bottling plants.
84 German Generals were executed by Hitler
Among the first “Germans” captured at Normandy were several Koreans. They had been forced to fight for the Japanese Army until they were captured by the Russians and forced to fight for the Russian Army until they were captured by the Germans and forced to fight for the German Army until they were capture by the US Army.
The Graf Spee never sank, The scuttling attempt failed and the ship was bought by the British. On board was Germany’s newest radar system.
One of Japan’s methods of destroying tanks was to bury a very large artillery shell with on ly the nose exposed. When a tank came near the enough a soldier would whack the shell with a hammer. “Lack of weapons is no excuse for defeat.” - Lt. Gen. Mataguchi
Following a massive naval bombardment, 35,000 US and Canadian troops stormed ashore at Kiska. 21 troops were killed in the fire-fight. It would have been worse if there had been Japanese on the island.
The MISS ME was an unarmed Piper Cub. While spotting for US artillery her pilot saw a similar German plane doing the same thing. He dove on the German plane and he and his co-pilot fired their pistols damaging the German plane enough that it had to make a forced landing. Whereupon they landed and took the Germans prisoner. It is unknown where they put them since the MISS ME only had two seats.
Most members of the Waffen SS were not German.
Air attacks caused 1/3 of German Generals’ deaths
By D-Day, the Germans had 1.5 million railway workers operating 988,000 freight cars and used 29,000 per day
The only nation that Germany declared war on was the USA.
During the Japanese attack on Hong Kong, British officers objected to Canadian infantrymen taking up positions in the officer’s mess. No enlisted men allowed!
By D-Day, 35% of all German soldiers had been wounded at least once, 11% twice, 6% three times, 2% four times and 2% more than 4 times
Nuclear physicist Niels Bohr was rescued in the nick of time from German occupied Denmark. While Danish resistance fighters provided covering fire he ran out the back door of his home stopping momentarily to grab a beer bottle full of precious “heavy water”. He finally reached England still clutching the bottle, which contained beer. Perhaps some German drank the heavy water…
Germany lost 136 Generals, which averages out to be 1 dead General every 2 weeks
Again, two people asked for this one, so this is for both of you. It can be read as a prequel to this, but doesn’t have to be.
Relevant dates: France proposed the Franco-British Union during the Suez Crisis of 1956. The Beatles released “All You Need Is Love” as part of the Our World broadcast in June, 1967.
England’s first attempt is a phone call.
“Allô?” France answers somewhat breathlessly, turning away from his lunch guests.
“France,” England’s voice responds,hurried. “Look, just listen, I need to talk—”
France doesn’t wait for the rest of it; hehangs up the phone and turns back to Monaco and Belgium, apologizing for the
When Canada opens the door to France’s
apartment, it hits the side table and sends a torrent of letters falling to the
“Sorry,” Canada says immediately, kneeling
to retrieve them. But then his brow furrows. “France? What is this?”
France swoops in quickly, grabs the letters
out of Canada’s hands and shoves them into a convenient drawer. “Nothing,” he
says, as though Canada hadn’t seen England’s return address on every one of
them, or noticed the fact that each is unopened.
“Thank you for lunch,” Germany says
formally, setting his cutlery aside. France, sitting across from him, smirks at
his care and shakes his head.
“Don’t mention it, dear. After all, we’re
friends now.” They get up from the table and France leaves his Francs beside
Germany makes a vaguely affirmative noise,
straightening his tie as he launches into another speech about their current
treaty and future plans. France is only half-listening, but he notices when
Germany stops abruptly.
“Ah,” Germany says. “England. What are you
doing in Paris?”
What, indeed. France’s eyebrows narrow over
his shrewd blue eyes, and before England can say anything, he drapes an arm
around Germany’s waist and turns him away deliberately.
“Come, Germany,” he says, “let’s go
Despite Germany’s confusion and England’s
flustered protest, France never looks back.
“Don’t even think about it,” France
declares, pushing another drink into America’s hands one evening after a world
meeting. “Don’t say anything, if it’s on his behalf.”
America just takes a long swig of his drink
and rolls his eyes. “Dude, you guys have serious issues. And I wasn’t going to
say anything, anyway.”
Relieved, France leans back and tries to
Of course, it is impossible to avoid
England forever. One evening, France is leaning against his balcony with a
cigarette dangling from his fingers. It’s late June, and the heat is warm
against his skin as he takes another drag and inhales deeply. It’s at that
precise moment of profound peace that he looks down and sees a familiar (and
unwanted) head of shaggy blond hair.
“You have two minutes to get out of here,”
France calls down scathingly, “before I find something suitably hot to pour
over your head.”
England looks up at him with the sort of
furious determination France has not seen since World War II. “I’m not going
anywhere, frog, until you listen to me.”
He’s dressed casually today, plain dark trousers
and no tie. He looks good, casually enticing, like one of his musicians. France
swallows and turns his head away, lifting the cigarette to his lips once more.
“As I told you some time ago, your
government may speak to mine if there’s anything Britain requires from France.”
It’s a dismissal. France holds his breath and waits for England to leave.
“Fuck that!” England snaps. He’s clutching
something, large and square and wrapped in brown paper. “I don’t give a damn
about your government, or your bloody feelings! It’s been eleven years, when
are you going to grow up?”
“You’ve thrown tantrums that have lasted
far longer,” France retorts. True, England’s response to the American War of
Independence had only compounded their existing animosity, but it still counts.
“Did you even listen to the broadcast?”
England demands, suddenly.
France tilts his head, confused. “Of course
I did, I helped organize it.”
“And did you watch my contribution?”
He hadn’t. East Germany had pulled out at
the last moment, leaving him and Spain bereft of their planned reunion. France
hadn’t even thought of England, at the time, but he’d always planned to leave
before his portion began. He didn’t want to give England the satisfaction.
“France,” England calls up, voice sounding
both infuriated and desperate. “Please, just listen to it.”
France can count on one had the number of
times that England has said “please” with sincerity. The number of times the
word has been directed at him is even less. He takes one more drag from his
cigarette, dropping the stub into the ashtray to put it out. He takes long
moments, running one hand through his hair and staring out at the sunset.
Finally: “You have ten minutes.”
He doesn’t offer England a drink, nor
invite him to sit down. Instead, England stands awkwardly in his sitting room,
unwrapping the brown paper from what turns out to be a record. France rolls his
eyes when he sees Lennon and McCartney on the cover.
England notices, and glares at him, even
though France is being very generous by not having throw England out, yet. But
England proceeds to blow the dust off France’s record player, setting the vinyl
disc in reverently and turning on the player.
France sits down on his loveseat, arms
crossed over his chest. “Would you get on with it?” he demands.
“It’s starting,” England hisses back. “Just
shut up and listen, would you?”
Despite everything, France thinks he owes
England this. So he shuts up, and listens. The first few bars of the song tug
at his heart, the way they always have, filling him with old and familiar
passion and warmth.
“Angleterre,” he says, sitting up, “this is…”
“No, it’s not. Shut up. Listen.”
La Marseilles fades away quickly, replaced
by England’s dearest voices. The lyrics are simple, and could almost be
sardonic. But France knows England, and so he knows the British—he can
recognize their dry, frank sincerity when he hears it.
But hearing England’s heart sing about love
only fills France with bitterness. His hands clench in his lap, face pinched as
the song continues. The refrain continues, over and over, taunting France.
you need is love… Love is all you need…”
“Turn it off,” France demands, “I don’t
want to hear any more.”
“No,” England snaps, “France, it’s almost
“Turn it off!” France snaps, getting to his feet. It’s a moot point,
however, because the voices peter out and leave only the roll of vinyl and
static in their wake.
“You didn’t like it?” England asks, looking—confused,
“Why would I like it?” France yells. “Why
are you taunting me? You’ve made it very clear what you feel about me, and yet
you use my song to sing about love!
How dare you? Get out of my home, get out of my country, I am going to—”
England steps forward suddenly, grabs
France’s wrists and forces his arms to his sides. He looks at France with startlingly
intense green eyes, brows narrowed.
“You never listen to me,” England hisses. “I’ve
been trying to tell you for over a decade, you stupid man, and you’ve ignored
me every time.”
France struggles against England’s grip,
shaking his head. “You’ve said all you needed to,” France sniffs. “You didn’t
“I didn’t want to marry you!” England
snaps, as though that should make France hurt less. “And not over some stupid
crisis! That’s no reason to—don’t pretend that was so much about love, for you!
I wounded your pride, not your heart.”
“You did more than that, to both.” France
turns his head away, avoiding England’s gaze. “You laughed at me. You acted
like it was the last thing you’d ever want to do.”
“We’d kill each other inside of a week if we
got married.” England’s voice is high and exasperated. “You know that, you’ve
said as much! And you’re doing fine, now, so I don’t understand why you’re
still holding onto this when I’m pouring my goddamn heart out to you!”
“You laughed!” France says. “You laughed as
though it was a joke! As though I, and we,
were a joke! Why would I forgive you for that?”
“Because I respect you too much to propose out
of desperation, again, or to accept such a proposal,” England says lowly.
France thinks back to 1940 and flinches. “You and I are equals, France, no
matter how long we spent trying to prove otherwise. We don’t need some bloody
union to say what we’ve always known.”
France licks his lips, turns his head and
sees Lennon and McCartney and Ringo and George. “You’re saying we don’t need
marriage. We only need…”
“Love,” England breathes. “It’s all you
need.” He screws up his face then, gagging at himself. “Oh, god, can we pretend
I didn’t just say that? Never, ever tell John I said that. In fact, never speak
to John at all. Especially not about this.”
France feels anger bleed away, replaced by
longing and affection. “Did he just happen to write the song at a convenient
moment?” he teases. He eases his wrists out of England’s grip, clutches the
other man’s hands tightly instead.
England turns his head and mutters
something, turning beet red.
“What was that?”
“I said—I asked him to! Alright? Are you
“Very,” France says, biting down on a
laugh. “Shall we listen to it again?”