General Akira Mutō, with an elephant, during his time as the commander of Japanese Army forces on Sumatra, in the Japanese occupied Dutch East Indies, photo circa June, 1944.

After the surrender of Japan, Mutō was arrested by American occupation authorities and charged with war crimes before the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. He was convicted for atrocities against civilians, and torture of prisoners of war, in both China and the Philippines, and was executed by hanging on December 23rd, 1948.

A Parliamentarian battle flag, back after 350 years. This ultra-rare English Civil War battle standard, due to go on public display for the first time in three and a half centuries, was kept and preserved by 11 generations of the same English country family. It will be on permanent show at the National Army Museum in London as from this coming Thursday. (National Army Museum).

tiny, messy, lunch break sketches absolutely MUST include wonder woman rn…

I love love LOVED this look (and i want to do a more finished piece with it eventually). i can’t not go hard about costuming and the history of dress and i’m going to flail about this for a sec. Costume designer Lindy Hemming clearly knew what she was doing. This wasn’t just a “this outfit is plain and practical after those nonsense ‘fashionable’ options” it was a definite, intentional nod to WWI Women’s uniforms (and Diana is going to the front, it makes sense for her to be in something uniform-ish).

Although WWII is better known for women going to work for the first time (i.e. the iconic ‘Rosie the Riveter’) - women absolutely served in various capacities in WWI and were considered crucial to the war effort. Even though most of the women who served still did so in tradition-friendly roles of relief & aid work, WWI is notable in that it was one of the first times that women served either in an enlisted or civilian capacity in uniform. 

Here are some examples of WWI women’s uniforms to show the clear tie between these and Diana’s outfit: 

Women’s Motor Corps 1916-1918 (American) - If you look at men’s uniforms from the same time period the core design elements are basically identical, they’ve just been ‘feminized’ in the women’s versions. 

UK army recruits 1917 (check out those hats! definite link between those and Diana’s, Also the clear distinction between what’s worn by the recruits and the commander)

Women Police Service, 1916 (British) - women served in uniform at home - filling traditionally male roles while men were away (MOST women served at home, with a relatively small % actually ending up at the front). below are some women firefighters in london around the same time wearing similar uniforms (i can barely go down a ladder period, much less do so with someone over my shoulder - so badass!!!): 

The costuming design is perfect in context of the movie’s storyline, wonder woman as a property, and as a tribute to the tens of thousands of women who enlisted and volunteered during the war and it made me SO HAPPY.

*side note - while pulling together these photos I learned about the Women’s Death Battalions (no, seriously) and Holy. CRAP. apparently around 6,000 russian women were actual combatants during the war and not just aid & relief and jfc how had I never heard about this? the rest of the world is like “we guess women can be nurses and ambulance drivers, we are so progressive!!!” meanwhile russia: GETS TIRED OF WOMEN DISGUISING THEMSELVES AS MEN AND SNEAKING INTO THE ARMY. FORMS WOMEN-ONLY UNITS AND CALLS THEM ‘BATTALIONS OF DEATH’*

bbc.com
Forbidden love: The WW2 letters between two men - BBC News
Love letters written during World War Two and discovered in a trunk in Brighton reveal a forbidden relationship between two men.

While on military training during World War Two, Gilbert Bradley was in love. He exchanged hundreds of letters with his sweetheart - who merely signed with the initial “G”. But more than 70 years later, it was discovered that G stood for Gordon, and Gilbert had been in love with a man.

At the time, not only was homosexuality illegal, but those in the armed forces could be shot for having gay sex. The letters, which emerged after Mr Bradley’s death in 2008, are therefore unusual and shed an important light on homosexual relationships during the war. What do we know about this forbidden love affair?

Wednesday January 24th 1939

My darling,

… I lie awake all night waiting for the postman in the early morning, and then when he does not bring anything from you I just exist, a mass of nerves…

All my love forever,

G.

Information gleaned from the letters indicate Mr Bradley was a reluctant soldier. He did not want to be in the Army, and even pretended to have epilepsy to avoid it. His ruse did not work, though, and in 1939 he was stationed at Park Hall Camp in Oswestry, Shropshire, to train as an anti-aircraft gunner.

He was already in love with Gordon Bowsher. The pair had met on a houseboat holiday in Devon in 1938 when Mr Bowsher was in a relationship with Mr Bradley’s nephew. Mr Bowsher was from a well-to-do family. His father ran a shipping company, and the Bowshers also owned tea plantations. When war broke out a year later he trained as an infantryman and was stationed at locations across the country.

February 12 1940, Park Grange

My own darling boy,

There is nothing more than I desire in life but to have you with me constantly…

…I can see or I imagine I can see, what your mother and father’s reaction would be… the rest of the world have no conception of what our love is - they do not know that it is love…

But life as a homosexual in the 1940s was incredibly difficult. Gay activity was a court-martial offence, jail sentences for so-called “gross indecency” were common, and much of society strongly disapproved of same-sex relationships. It was not until the Sexual Offences Act 1967 that consenting men aged 21 and over were legally allowed to have gay relationships - and being openly gay in the armed services was not allowed until 2000.

The letters, which emerged after Mr Bradley’s death in 2008, are rare because most homosexual couples would get rid of anything so incriminating, says gay rights activist Peter Roscoe. In one letter Mr Bowsher urges his lover to “do one thing for me in deadly seriousness. I want all my letters destroyed. Please darling do this for me. Til then and forever I worship you.”

Mr Roscoe says the letters are inspiring in their positivity. “There is a gay history and it isn’t always negative and tearful,” he says. “So many stories are about arrests - Oscar Wilde, Reading Gaol and all those awful, awful stories. "But despite all the awful circumstances, gay men and lesbians managed to rise above it all and have fascinating and good lives despite everything.”

February 1st, 1941 K . C. Gloucester Regiment, Priors Road, Cheltenham

My darling boy,

For years I had it drummed into me that no love could last for life…

I want you darling seriously to delve into your own mind, and to look for once in to the future.

Imagine the time when the war is over and we are living together… would it not be better to live on from now on the memory of our life together when it was at its most golden pitch.

Your own G.

But was this a love story with a happy ending?

Probably not. At one point, Mr Bradley was sent to Scotland on a mission to defend the Forth Bridge. He met and fell in love with two other men. Rather surprisingly, he wrote and told Mr Bowsher all about his romances north of the border. Perhaps even more surprisingly, Mr Bowsher took it all in his stride, writing that he “understood why they fell in love with you. After all, so did I”.

Although the couple wrote throughout the war, the letters stopped in 1945.

However, both went on to enjoy interesting lives.Mr Bowsher moved to California and became a well-known horse trainer. In a strange twist, he employed Sirhan Sirhan, who would go on to be convicted of assassinating Robert Kennedy. Mr Bradley was briefly entangled with the MP Sir Paul Latham, who was imprisoned in 1941 following a court martial for “improper conduct” with three gunners and a civilian. Sir Paul was exposed after some “indiscreet letters” were discovered.Mr Bradley moved to Brighton and died in 2008. A house clearance company found the letters and sold them to a dealer specialising in military mail.

The letters were finally bought by Oswestry Town Museum, when curator Mark Hignett was searching on eBay for items connected with the town. He bought just three at first, and says the content led him to believe a fond girlfriend or fiancé was the sender. There were queries about bed sheets, living conditions - and their dreams for their future life together. When he spotted there were more for sale, he snapped them up too - and on transcribing the letters for a display in the museum, Mr Hignett and his colleagues discovered the truth. The “girlfriend” was a boyfriend.

The revelation piqued Mr Hignett’s interest - he describes his experience as being similar to reading a book and finding the last page ripped out: “I just had to keep buying the letters to find out what happened next.” Although he’s spent “thousands of pounds” on the collection of more than 600 letters, he believes in terms of historical worth the correspondence is “invaluable”. “Such letters are extremely rare because they were incriminating - gay men faced years in prison with or without hard labour,” he says. “There was even the possibility that gay soldiers could have been shot.”

Work on a book is already under way at the museum, where the letters will also go on display. Perhaps most poignantly, one of the letters contains the lines: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all our letters could be published in the future in a more enlightened time. Then all the world could see how in love we are.”

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March 24th 1944: The ‘Great Escape’

On this day in 1944, a group of Allied prisoners of war staged a daring escape attempt from the German prisoner of war camp at Stalag Luft III. This camp, located in what is now Poland, held captured Allied pilots mostly from Britain and the United States. In 1943, an Escape Committee under the leadership of Squadron Leader Roger Bushell of the RAF, supervised prisoners surreptitiously digging three 30 foot tunnels out of the camp, which they nicknamed ‘Tom’, ‘Dick’ and ‘Harry’. The tunnels led to woods beyond the camp and were remarkably sophisticated - lined with wood, and equipped with rudimentary ventilation and electric lighting. The successful construction of the tunnels was particularly impressive as the Stalag Luft III camp was designed to make it extremely difficult to tunnel out as the barracks were raised and the area had a sandy subsoil. ‘Tom’ was discovered by the Germans in September 1943, and ‘Dick’ was abandoned to be used as a dirt depository, leaving ‘Harry’ as the prisoners’ only hope. By the time of the escape, American prisoners who had assisted in tunneling had been relocated to a different compound, making the escapeees mostly British and Commonwealth citizens. 200 airmen had planned to make their escape through the ‘Harry’ tunnel, but on the night of March 24th 1944, only 76 managed to escape the camp before they were discovered by the guards. However, only three of the escapees - Norwegians Per Bergsland and Jens Müller and Dutchman Bram van der Stok - found their freedom. The remaining 73 were recaptured, and 50 of them, including Bushell, were executed by the Gestapo on Adolf Hitler’s orders, while the rest were sent to other camps. While the escape was generally a failure, it helped boost morale among prisoners of war, and has become enshrined in popular memory due to its fictionalised depiction in the 1963 film The Great Escape.

“Three bloody deep, bloody long tunnels will be dug – Tom, Dick, and Harry. One will succeed!”
- Roger Bushell

In terms of [French] soldiers, the habit of being tattooed appears to have been well established by the time of the Revolution. […] Another veteran of the [First French] Empire, with twelve campaigns and fifteen wounds to his name, was given a medical examination and was found to have VIVE LE ROI (‘Long live the king’) tattooed on his right forearm. For political expediency, the veteran quickly had this tattoo amended to read VIVE LE RÔTI (‘Long live roast meat’).

 - Napoleon’s Infantry Handbook, Terry Crowdy

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Centrefire Semi-Automatic Pistol with Stock from Germany dated about 1899 on display at the Royal Armouries in Leeds

The Mauser C96 “Broomhandle” had become very fashionable and the Mauser was most advanced and expensive. Such weapons were used by the Boers in South Africa, this one being seized by the Royal Scots Fusiliers.  The wooden holster-stock has been carved with ’R.S. Fusiliers, Boer War, 1899-1900-01-02’ set around a South African Republic coin.

The coin is the Krugerrand named after the man on it, Paul Kruger the third President of the South African Republic and famous for his opposition to the British Empire during the Second Boer War. He was a controversial figure not just for fighting the Empire but also for his treatment of Black Africans in the Republic

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February 2nd 1943: Battle of Stalingrad ends

On this day in 19423 during the Second World War, German troops surrendered to the Soviet Red Army in Stalingrad, thus ending five months of fighting. The battle began in August 1942 during the Nazi invasion of Russia - codenamed Operation Barbarossa - and Adolf Hitler ordered an attack on the major city of Stalingrad. Stalingrad became a major playing field of the war, as Soviet leader Stalin was determined to save the city which bore his name. Under the leadership of General Paulus, German bombing destroyed much of the city and troops captured areas through hand-to-hand urban warfare. In November, Marshal Zhukov assembled six Russian armies to surround Stalingrad and trap the Germans in the city, barring provisions and troops from reaching them. Many German soldiers died of starvation and frostbite following the onset of the harsh Russian winter, with temperatures down to -30°C, but Hitler insisted they fight until the last man. After five months, the Russian Red Army claimed victory when the remaining German troops surrendered in February 1943. 91,000 Germans were taken prisoner, including twenty-two generals; this was all that remained of the 330,000 strong German force who arrived at Stalingrad. The Battle of Stalingrad is among the bloodiest battles of the Second World War, causing nearly two million casualties. The disaster depleted the German army’s supply of men and equipment, allowing the Allies to gain the advantage, which enabled them to invade Germany and win the war.

“The God of war has gone over to the other side”
- Adolf Hitler upon hearing of the German surrender at Stalingrad

The Heavyweight Punch by Geoff Hunt.

In the misty calm of the morning of 21st October 1805, three of Great Britain’s most powerful ships - Victory (100 guns), Temeraire (98) and Neptune (98) are seen under full sail, bearing down majestically on the enemy line off Cape Trafalgar. The colossal might of Victory, Temeraire and Neptune, combined firepower of 296 guns, is seen from the French and Spanish line as they close to deliver the famous “Heavyweight Punch”

Today marks the 155th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. With over 23,000 combined casualties suffered by both the Union and Confederate armies, it remains the bloodiest day in American history. It’s hard to imagine the horror that ravaged this Maryland community when you walk the now peaceful fields of Antietam National Battlefield. Photo by National Park Service.