Euphemisms, acronyms and outright lies: The language of war

For decades, politicians referred to the Korean War as the ‘Korean Conflict,’ as if the soldiers who fought and died on the battlefields of the disputed peninsula were somehow less soldierly or less dead if killed by conflict rather than war. Some 2.5 million people died in the Koreas between 1950 and 1953, including...
  • George Alfred Newburn: A soldier of the First World War

    June 12, 2019 by Stephen J. Thorne
    His name was George Alfred Newburn, a labourer from Victoria who was killed during the Battle of Hill 70 in France on Aug. 15, 1917. He was just 18 years old, although Newburn would have you believe he was 20. For almost a century, Private...
  • From Dieppe to D-Day

    June 5, 2019 by Stephen J. Thorne
    In his orders of the day on June 6, 1944, Lieutenant-General Henry D.G. (Harry) Crerar told some 14,500 Canadian soldiers destined for the beaches and drop zones of Normandy that their impending success was thanks largely to the disaster at Dieppe. Almost two years earlier,...
  • James Strachan: Old enough to die; too young to drink

    May 29, 2019 by Stephen J. Thorne
    The grim cost of the D-Day invasion still haunts James Strachan, 75 years after he delivered troops to the beaches of Normandy. Strachan was a signaller aboard a Landing Craft, Infantry (Large), manning the Oerlikon gun as his assault vessel shuttled back and forth across...
  • The mighty word on D-Day

    May 23, 2019 by Stephen J. Thorne
    The American employed soaring oratory in calling D-Day troops to “the Great Crusade.” The Brit summoned the words of a 17th-century soldier-poet as he urged the “team” on in their “great and righteous cause.” The Canadian, on the other hand, reminded his troops of the...
  • For whom the ship’s bell tolls

    May 15, 2019 by Stephen J. Thorne
    Ships’ bells mark the watch, sound alarms, send signals, declare a ship’s presence in foggy weather and even serve as baptismal fonts. Usually engraved, the ship’s bell is often the primary identifying element of an historic wreck, as was the bronze bell from HMS Erebus,...
  • ‘And all who sail in her. . . .’

    May 8, 2019 by Stephen J. Thorne
    There was a bit of a row across the pond recently after the Scottish Maritime Museum decided to adopt gender-neutral signage for its vessels. Museum director David Mann told The Guardian newspaper the decision to drop “she” for “it” when referencing ships was made after...
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