VULCANS & VAMPIRES - Carlisle's wonderful Solway Aviatian Museum has some rare survivors of the early Jet Age

In previous issues of Read Me I’ve been looking at RAF Spadeadam’s role in the post-war Blue Streak rocket project that was supposed to give the UK its own nuclear missile. Though Blue Streak was cancelled in the early 60s, North Cumbria continued to play a vital role in Britain’s defence thanks to RAF Carlisle. Beginning in 1938 with a grass airstrip, known as RAF Kingstown, the base was re-designated RAF Carlisle inthe 1950s and expanded to incorporate a number different sites housing maintenance, observation , storage and research facilities... Read More

THE EDGE OF ARMAGEDDON - There was a time when a quiet corner of Cumbria was on the front line of the Cold War…

In 1949, just four years after the American had dropped the first atomic bombs on Japan, the Soviet Union detonated its own nuclear device. Once the Communist East had caught up with the Capitalist West, the idea soon developed that ‘peace’ could only be preserved if both sides had enough nuclear weapons to obliterate the other. This terrifying policy, which became known as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), was supposed to make all wars unwinnable, and therefore unthinkable, but this strategy had a fundamental flaw... Continued

HERE'S MY LATEST ARTICLE FOR THE MILITARY HISTORY NOW WEBSITE...

THE FIGHTING MESSMATES — THE CURIOUS ROLE OF FOOD IN TURKEY’S ELITE JANISSARY CORPS

Though it was Napoleon Bonaparte (or possibly Frederick the Great) who first coined the phrase “an army marches on its stomach” no military formation in history placed more emphasis on food than the elite Janissary Corps of the Ottoman Empire. Formed in the 14th Century, to serve as the sultan’s personal army, the janissaries were supposed to operate outside the system of Ottoman feudal loyalties.... Read More

THE WAR OF SNAILS - 10 things you (probably)didn't know about the Great German Peasants War [1524-26]

Though it lasted less than two years, the German Peasants’ War has had a lasting influence on history. The Twelve Articles, a document listing the rebels’ demands, has been described as a model for the American Bill of Rights and the French Revolution while Friedrich Engels, one of the founders of Communism, tried to use the war to prove that ‘class struggle’ was part of an inevitable historical process that would lead to world socialism. So what was this bloody conflict that claimed the lives of 100,000 German peasants... Continued

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