Thursday, June 25, 2015

Old postcard a mystery in WWI archive

A sentimental postcard sent from a St Andrews University student just a year into World War One has found a place in an archive comemmorating the experiences of children during the war.

The Army Children of the First World War project has been established by The Army Children Archive (TACA) as part of the First World War Centenary Partnership, led by Imperial War Museums (IWM).

The 100-year-old postcard sent by a St Andrews University student - part of The Army Children of the First World War project.

The 100-year-old postcard sent by a St Andrews University student - part of The Army Children of the First World War project.

Two online galleries of images have been created - ‘The Army Children of the First World War: Faces and Families’, which features photographic portraits of army children and their families from between 1914 and 1918, and ‘The Army Children of the First World War: a Sentimental View’, which displays a selection of WWI postcards and items featuring army children, and children generally.
The St Andrews postcard is a blue-framed illstration of a boy, dressed as a British soldier, and a girl embracing, with the words “We don’t want words, we want deeds”, under which someone has written “Haw-haw”.

It was posted on June 1, 1915, of the message on the back reads: “Thanks for your letter. Will answer when I have time – but am most awfully busy at present, what with Degree Exams & Essays & Tennis & Golf. So glad & jealous (!!!) about your drawing. I. K. S.”

It was addressed to a Miss G. Summerhayes at Wycombe Abbey school in High Wycombe.

Diane Lees, director-general of IWM, said: “We are all connected to the First World War, either through our own family history, the heritage of our local communities, or because of its long-term impact on society and the world we live in today.

“TACA, through its The Army Children of the First World War project, is enabling people to understand the impact of the Great War on society today.” Commenting on the items on show, Diane said: “Many of these images were intended to tug at the heartstrings; others, to arouse patriotic feelings; another category reflects, through the prism of childhood, national preoccupations during the Great War.”

Viewers to the online gallery are invited to fill any information gaps and, if possible, to identify any of the ‘forgotten’ faces.

Go to to find out more.

Philippines in US, Japan naval drills amid China sea row

English: GROTON, Conn. (Sept. 30, 2010) Capt. ...
English: GROTON, Conn. (Sept. 30, 2010) Capt. William Merz departs the change of command ceremony for Submarine Development Squadron 12 aboard the Los Angeles-class submarine USS Annapolis (SSN 760). Merz relieved Capt. Robert Burke during the ceremony. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Steven Myers/Released) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Philippines in US, Japan naval drills amid China sea row

PUERTO PRINCESA (AFP) — The Philippines on Monday began separate but simultaneous naval exercises with the United States and Japan, amid shared and growing concern at Chinese island-building in the disputed South China Sea.
Manila has been holding the naval drills with its longtime ally Washington since 1995. But the exercise with Tokyo, a World War II foe, is only its second ever after one earlier this year.
This week’s Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training or CARAT drill with Washington will include a P-3 Orion aircraft, of the type used by the U.S. to monitor the South China Sea. CARAT remains a practical way to address shared maritime security priorities, enhance our capabilities, and improve inter-operability between our forces,” the U.S. exercise commander, Rear Adm. William Merz, said at the opening ceremony in Puerto Princesa city on the southwestern Philippine island of Palawan.China claims almost the entire sea despite competing claims from the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam, and has been taking strong action including reclamation to assert sovereignty.
Rear Adm. Leopoldo Alano, commander of the Philippine Fleet, described the drill as a great opportunity “to gain valuable experience and increase our inter-operability.”
The drills will also feature for the first time the littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth, and involve the rescue and salvage ship USNS Safeguard.
While it does not take sides in the dispute, the US has in recent weeks intensified its criticism of China’s reclamation work, which has created new islands including airstrips on reefs and shoals also claimed by its neighbors.
The U.S. says the activities could pose a threat to freedom of navigation.
China said last week its land reclamation in the disputed Spratly islands would finish soon but be followed by “facility construction.”
The Philippines has asked a United Nations tribunal to reject China’s claims to most of the Sea, a move angrily rejected by Beijing which says the world body has no authority in the matter.
This week’s naval exercise will be held both on Palawan, the closest land mass to the disputed reefs and waters, and in the Sulu Sea to the east of the island.
The Filipino forces in the drills, including the U.S.-acquired frigates BRP Ramon Alcaraz and BRP Gregorio del Pilar, also regularly patrol the South China Sea.
The exercise will focus on combined maritime operations, mobile dive and salvage training, coastal riverine operations and maritime patrol and reconnaissance along with seminars ashore, the U.S. Navy said.
Japan, which has its own maritime dispute with China in the East China Sea, has also expressed concern at Beijing’s reclamation further south.
On Monday it began three days of drills with the Philippine Navy involving a Japanese P-3C patrol aircraft.
The drills, which will also include a Philippine Navy aircraft, will focus on joint search and rescue operations on the high seas, the Philippine Navy said.

Navy celebrates once-secret sub now on display in museum

GROTON, Conn. — A once-secret submarine in U.S. military research and expeditions is being celebrated for its advanced technology, exploration of the ocean floor and role as a workhorse.

The nuclear-powered NR-1 launched in 1969, the same year the U.S. put a man on the moon, and was taken out of service in 2008. It is now on display, minus some of its parts, at Submarine Force Museum in Groton, joining the museum's collection, including the Nautilus, the first nuclear powered ship in the U.S. Navy when it was commissioned in 1954.

"It was innovation. It was revolution," Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations and engineer of the NR-1, said at a museum gathering Wednesday. "It pushed horizons of engineering and technology and took us now to many, many areas of this world. We could get to the ocean floor."

Stephen Finnigan, supervisory curator at the museum, credited the strength of the country's industrial base, specifically Electric Boat of the General Dynamics Corp., which built the NR-1.

"They made this as they do today, made us owners of the undersea domain," Greenert said. "She really was a technical marvel."

The NR-1 was known primarily as a research vessel, but also carried out military missions that still remain a secret. Veterans who served aboard the tiny sub during the Cold War say it was one of the most fascinating assignments of their careers and their wives still don't know all the details.

The submarine was designed to maneuver on or close to the ocean floor, to detect and identify targets on the bottom and lift objects from the depths. It could roll on wheels and illuminate the sea floor.

It performed geological surveys, oceanographic research, installation and maintenance of underwater equipment, and underwater search and recovery, including the recovery of parts of the Challenger shuttle destroyed in 1986.

"This vessel expanded our range through national security missions, lot of oceanography, a lot of ocean engineering, a lot of national security missions that, well, we don't talk about today, but they made a big difference," Finnigan said.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney of Connecticut said the submarine museum contacted his office to "make sure that this treasure did not sort of end up in a scrap yard."

The sail, upper rudder, two propellers and a manipulator arm are on display at the museum. The hull and machinery are set to be recycled.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Japan marks Battle of Okinawa anniversary - BBC

  • From the section Asia

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lays flowers in Itoman. 23 June 2015
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe placed flowers at the memorial in Itoman

Japan is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Okinawa - one of the bloodiest episodes in the Pacific during World War Two.
Thousands of visitors gathered at a monument to the fallen in the southern city of Itoman to pray and lay flowers.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was also attending the ceremony.

About 80,000 Japanese soldiers died and more than 100,000 Okinawans were killed or committed suicide during the 82-day battle with Allied forces.

More than 12,000 US troops also died on the island, about 340 miles (550 km) south-west from mainland Japan.

The strategic island was seen by the Allies as a launchpad for an invasion of Japan.

Those gathered at Itoman offered a silent tribute to the war dead

The assault never came as Tokyo surrendered following the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.
Okinawa remained occupied by the US military until 1972, when Tokyo regained control of the island.

However, Japan's southern-most prefecture is still home to about 26,000 US troops and several bases.

A controversial project to move a US air base from an urban area to the coast has recently triggered a stand-off between the central authorities in Tokyo and Okinawa's officials.

The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Tokyo says there is still considerable bitterness about how the island's population was sacrificed during World War II.

He says many Okinawans accuse Tokyo and Washington of continuing to treat the island like an imperial possession, ignoring the wishes of the islanders to have US military bases removed.


Secret World War II Chemical Experiments Tested Troops By Race - CAITLIN DICKERSON

These historical photographs depict the forearms of human test subjects after being exposed to nitrogen mustard and lewisite agents in World War II experiments conducted at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.

These historical photographs depict the forearms of human test subjects after being exposed to nitrogen mustard and lewisite agents in World War II experiments conducted at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.

Courtesy of the Naval Research Laboratory

As a young U.S. Army soldier during World War II, Rollins Edwards knew better than to refuse an assignment.

When officers led him and a dozen others into a wooden gas chamber and locked the door, he didn't complain. None of them did. Then, a mixture of mustard gas and a similar agent called lewisite was piped inside.

"It felt like you were on fire," recalls Edwards, now 93 years old. "Guys started screaming and hollering and trying to break out. And then some of the guys fainted. And finally they opened the door and let us out, and the guys were just, they were in bad shape."

About This Investigation

This is Part 1 of a two-part investigation on mustard gas testing conducted by the U.S. military during World War II. The second story in this report will examine the failures by the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide benefits to those injured by military mustard gas experiments.

Edwards was one of 60,000 enlisted men enrolled in a once-secret government program — formally declassified in 1993 — to test mustard gas and other chemical agents on American troops. But there was a specific reason he was chosen: Edwards is African-American.

"They said we were being tested to see what effect these gases would have on black skins," Edwards says.

An NPR investigation has found evidence that Edwards' experience was not unique. While the Pentagon admitted decades ago that it used American troops as test subjects in experiments with mustard gas, until now, officials have never spoken about the tests that grouped subjects by race.

For the first time, NPR tracked down some of the men used in the race-based experiments. And it wasn't just African-Americans. Japanese-Americans were used as test subjects, serving as proxies for the enemy so scientists could explore how mustard gas and other chemicals might affect Japanese troops. Puerto Rican soldiers were also singled out.

Rollins Edwards as a young soldier in 1945 at Clark Air Base in the Philippines.

Rollins Edwards as a young soldier in 1945 at Clark Air Base in the Philippines.

Courtesy of Rollins Edwards

White enlisted men were used as scientific control groups. Their reactions were used to establish what was "normal," and then compared to the minority troops.

All of the World War II experiments with mustard gas were done in secret and weren't recorded on the subjects' official military records. Most do not have proof of what they went through. They received no follow-up health care or monitoring of any kind. And they were sworn to secrecy about the tests under threat of dishonorable discharge and military prison time, leaving some unable to receive adequate medical treatment for their injuries, because they couldn't tell doctors what happened to them.

Army Col. Steve Warren, director of press operations at the Pentagon, acknowledged NPR's findings and was quick to put distance between today's military and the World War II experiments.

"The first thing to be very clear about is that the Department of Defense does not conduct chemical weapons testing any longer," he says. "And I think we have probably come as far as any institution in America on race. ... So I think particularly for us in uniform, to hear and see something like this, it's stark. It's even a little bit jarring."

NPR shared the findings of this investigation with Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., a member of the Congressional Black Caucus who sits on a House subcommittee for veterans affairs. She points to similarities between these tests and the Tuskegee syphilis experiments, where U.S. government scientists withheld treatment from black sharecroppers in Alabama to observe the disease's progression.

"I'm angry. I'm very sad," Lee says. "I guess I shouldn't be shocked when you look at the syphilis studies and all the other very terrible experiments that have taken place as it relates to African-Americans and people of color. But I guess I'm still shocked that, here we go again."

Segregated troops practice movement in protective gear at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland in the early 1940s.

Segregated troops practice movement in protective gear at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland in the early 1940s.

Army Signal Corps via National Archives

Lee says the U.S. government needs to recognize the men who were used as test subjects while it can still reach some, who are now in their 80s and 90s.

"We owe them a huge debt, first of all. And I'm not sure how you repay such a debt," she says.

Mustard gas damages DNA within seconds of making contact. It causes painful skin blisters and burns, and it can lead to serious, and sometimes life-threatening illnesses including leukemia, skin cancer, emphysema and asthma.

In 1991, federal officials for the first time admitted that the military conducted mustard gas experiments on enlisted men during World War II.

According to declassified records and reports published soon after, three types of experiments were done: Patch tests, where liquid mustard gas was applied directly onto test subjects' skin; field tests, where subjects were exposed to gas outdoors in simulated combat settings; and chamber tests, where men were locked inside gas chambers while mustard gas was piped inside.

Even once the program was declassified, however, the race-based experiments remained largely a secret until a researcher in Canada disclosed some of the details in 2008. Susan Smith, a medical historian at the University of Alberta in Canada, published an article in The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics.

U.S. troops in Panama participate in a chemical warfare training exercise with smoke during World War II.

U.S. troops in Panama participate in a chemical warfare training exercise with smoke during World War II.

Howard R. Wilson/Courtesy of Gregory A. Wilson

In it, she suggested that black and Puerto Rican troops were tested in search of an "ideal chemical soldier." If they were more resistant, they could be used on the front lines while white soldiers stayed back, protected from the gas.

The article received little media attention at the time, and the Department of Defense didn't respond.

Despite months of federal records requests, NPR still hasn't been given access to hundreds of pages of documents related to the experiments, which could provide confirmation of the motivations behind them. Much of what we know about the experiments has been provided by the remaining living test subjects.

Juan Lopez Negron, who's Puerto Rican, says he was involved in experiments known as the San Jose Project.

Military documents show more than 100 experiments took place on the Panamanian island, chosen for its climate, which is similar to islands in the Pacific. Its main function, according to military documents obtained by NPR, was to gather data on "the behavior of lethal chemical agents."


One of the studies uncovered by NPR through the Freedom of Information Act was conducted in the Spring 1944. It describes how researchers exposed 39 Japanese American soldiers and 40 white soldiers to mustard and lewisite agents over the course of 20 days. Read the study.

Eerie photos show sunk Royal Navy submarine discovered on seabed 72 years after she was scuttled during WWII

These eerie photos show a sunken Royal Navy submarine discovered 72 years after she plunged to the ocean floor during WWII.

HMS Saracen - one of the most famous British naval vessels of the war - was scuttled off the coast of Corsica.

Lying hundreds of meters below the surface, the snaps by Italian engineer Guido Gay, follow a two year search on his catamaran, the Daedalus.

‘This morning I inspected a sonar contact found yesterday and there she is - beautifully adorned by white corals,’ said Mr Gay, who added that the S-class submarine was found in Italian waters, and at a depth of 422m.

It is the latest chapter in the extraordinary career of a boat which terrorised the German and Italian navies, and took part in daring adventures involving Corsican resistance fighters and Allied spies, before being sunk by her own crew.

Navy: The vessel was one of the most feared in the Royal Navy

Terry Hodgkinson, the British author who has written extensively about HMS Saracen, said the find was ‘absolutely magnificent.’
‘It is an incredible discovery, and one which will cause huge excitement around the world,’ said Mr Hodgkinson.
‘The pictures were sent to the Royal Navy submarine museum in Britain and have now been positively confirmed as Saracen.’
HMS Saracen was scuttled close to Bastia, on the French island of Corsica, on Saturday August 14 1943 after being severely damaged by depth charges from the Italian corvettes Minerva and Euterpe.
Lt Michael Lumby, captain of the Saracen, deliberately waited a day because he did not want to sink his boat on the 'unlucky' Friday 13.

Peter AllenRoyal Navy submarine HMS Saracen, from the Second World War, has been found almost 72 years to the day since she was scuttled off the coast of Corsica
Eerie: She was found on the seabed off Corsica

This meant his entire crew staying underwater until 2am on the Saturday before he ordered his chief engineer to open the vents with the submarine's engines still running.
Earlier in the war, she had sunk the German submarine U-335 with almost all its crew on its first patrol southeast of the Faroe Islands.

Saracen then became notorious in the Mediterranean, launching regular torpedo attacks on Italian and German shipping, as well as on enemy ports.

Just before her scuttling, she landed three agents from MI6 on Corsica whose aim was to spy on the Axis forces on the strategically crucial island.

Imperial War MuseumsHMS Saracen in 1943
Service: The vessel in her prime in 1943

Two Saracen crew drowned as they escaped the ship during her scuttling, meaning she is now an official war grave. Others were captured but then released when Italy capitulated later in the war.
Lt Lumby himself was sent to a German POW camp but after the war became commander of HMS Belfast, which is now a floating museum in London.

There are believed to be just two survivors of the 48 officers and men who served aboard Saracen, and there is a marble plaque in the citadel in Bastia with the ship's badge honouring them.

Mr Hodgkinson said all surviving relatives of the Saracen crew were being informed of the discovery, and a bronze badge honouring those who served onboard will now be lowered to the wreck. Beyond that, she will remain exactly where she is, as befits a war grave.

Peter AllenRoyal Navy submarine HMS Saracen, from the Second World War, has been found almost 72 years to the day since she was scuttled off the coast of Corsica
Images: The submarine was photographed by an Italian engineer

The back of the badge reads: ‘In memory of HMS Saracen and her Crew who played a vital role in the Liberation of Corsica. Sank 14th August 1943.’
There is also a granite monument to Saracen on the beach at Cupabia, Corsica, marking the spot where the secret agents landed.

The most recent hunt for the Saracen was originally led by an 8.5m pounds state-of-the-art French research ship called the André Malraux.

Scientists from France’s underwater archaeological unit (DRASSM) intended to locate her first by side-scan sonar, before sending down a robotic camera.

But in the end it was left to the Italians to send pictures and film to George Malcolmson, Archive Officer at the National Museum of the Royal based at the Submarine Museum in Gosport, Hants.

Mr Malcolmson said: ‘The pictures positively identify the remains of HMS Saracen. It is a very exciting discovery.’

Monday, June 22, 2015

Aaslestad: Beyond Waterloo – What a 200-year-old battle can tell us about economic warfare

Aaslestad: Beyond Waterloo – What a 200-year-old battle can tell us about economic warfare

By Katherine B. Aaslestad
AP photos
Actors play a symbolic scene during the official Belgian ceremony to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo at the Lion’s Mound in Braine-l’Alleud, near Waterloo, Belgium Thursday.
From left: Prince Edward; Dutch King Willem-Alexander; Arthur Wellesley, son of the ninth Duke of Wellington; Prince Nikolaus Furst Blucher von Wahlstatt; Prince Jean-Christophe Napoleon Bonaparte; Belgium’s King Philippe; and Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg commemorate the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo in Braine l’Alleud, near Waterloo, Belgium Thursday.
Soldiers salute as they stand behind a wreath while (left to right) Luxembourg’s Grand Duke Henri, Arthur Wellesley, son of the 9th Duke of Wellington, Dutch King Willem-Alexander, Belgium’s King Philippe, Prince Nikolaus Bluecher von Wahlstatt, Prince Jean-Christophe Napoleon Bonaparte and Prince Edward, Duke of Kent hold a moment of silence during the official Belgian ceremony to commemorate the bicentenary of the battle of Waterloo at the Lion’s Mound in Braine-l’Alleud, near Waterloo, Belgium Thursday..
Soldiers pull ribbons down from the Lion’s Mound during a ceremony to commemorate the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo in Braine l’Alleud, near Waterloo, Belgium Thursday.
Two hundred years ago British, German, and Dutch troops decisively defeated Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo. Historians have since studied and written about the great general and the Empire he established and lost. The majority of these studies explored military campaigns to explain Napoleon’s success and failure.
In the last 20 years, an international community of historians has explored the nature and structure of the Napoleonic Empire to reveal nuanced perspectives on its supporters and its opponents. This approach helps us better understand why Europeans ultimately united against Bonaparte between 1813 and 1815, and why his Empire began to falter and to disintegrate even before the final military showdown took place at Waterloo.
Examining Napoleon’s Empire, in particular his Continental System, provides insights into the economic warfare that followed in the wake of French conquest and expansion. When Britain and Revolutionary France entered into military conflict in 1793, both states embraced economic warfare, including restricting the trade of neutral states.
One year after the failure of the short-lived Peace of Amiens (1802-1803), Britain seized French and Dutch vessels in British ports, proclaimed a blockade of the Elbe and Weser rivers, and extended it to French ports a year later, as France undertook a range of policies to restrict British commerce on the continent. France and Britain alike targeted neutral shipping, which sought to continue trade with both belligerents.
Following the expansion of the Napoleonic Empire, economic warfare spread to the high seas, harbors and marketplaces across Europe and the Atlantic. In 1806 following the defeat of Prussia, the Berlin Decrees formalized Napoleon’s Continental System and generated a new level and intensity of trade disruption, when Bonaparte criminalized trade with Britain and British subjects in French-occupied areas. The British retaliated with their own Orders in Council in January and November 1807 that sought to tighten the blockade of France and its allies, deny French trade with neutrals and prevent Britain’s enemies from trading with their colonies.
As Napoleon gained more territory on the continent, and Britain exerted its muscle on the high seas, the Continental Blockade expanded: Russia, Prussia, Norway-Denmark (following a British invasion and bombardment of Copenhagen), and Portugal (following a French invasion) joined in 1807. Napoleon retaliated to the British Orders in Council with the 1807 Milan Decrees and expanded the blockade of continental ports to include neutral shipping that complied with the British directives. The economic disruption, hardships and declining standard of living caused by the dual blockade engendered widespread hatred of France and Britain. Merchants everywhere condemned their common practice of privateering and disregard of neutrality.
In addition to subduing Britain, the restructuring of the continental trade attempted to establish French industrial and commercial hegemony on the continent. Far from a constructive program for European industrial development and trade under French guidance, the Blockade represented an act of aggression against the continent. Intensified economic warfare altered the character of the Napoleonic conflict since both France and Britain pursed victory at the expense of the continent as both states targeted neutral, conquered, satellite and allied states alike.
The Continental Blockade and System are often used interchangeably, but they are distinct if related in origin. The Blockade was Napoleon’s economic weapon against Britain, whereas the Continental System encompassed the political organization necessary to enforce this Blockade on the continent. For example, Napoleon reorganized the political boundaries on the Italian peninsula to better implement the Blockade, ultimately annexing Tuscany, Parma and Piacenza in 1808 and Rome, Umbria and Lazio in 1809 directly into the Empire. Within a few years, commerce in Mediterranean ports was reduced to short-term coastal shipping.
In 1810 Imperial economic warfare reached a new level following the annexation of the Papal States, Illyrian Provinces, Holland and the north German coast into the Empire and the issue of three new decrees: Saint Cloud, Trianon and Fontainebleau Decrees. Napoleon sought to turn privateering to the advantage of the French Treasury, strengthen the already privileged position of French industry and commerce by raising imperial tariffs, increase the number of customs officials and imperial troops to enforce the Blockade, punish smugglers and confiscate British goods. Imperial officials burned seized goods with ceremonial pomp in hundreds of towns and cities in the last months of 1810 and first months of 1811, creating a customs terror.
An overview of continental Europe reveals that Britain’s opponents and France’s satellites — Holland for example — suffered the most economic disruption. Relentless commercial warfare with virtually no recognition of neutral commercial rights meant that neutral states saw their peoples and economies become pawns in the great power conflict. Blocked from legitimate trade with Britain and colonial markets, such entrepôts as Amsterdam and Hamburg faced commercial, industrial and financial decline.
The full impact of the Continental System, therefore, included the costs of imperial occupation, which ultimately discredited the French regime. By 1813 impoverishment brought on by economic warfare and exploitation generated an ever-growing anti-French sentiment that erupted in a range of riots, desertions from the Grand Armée, and even revolt in northern German states and across destitute western Holland. Burning custom houses and targeting toll collectors underscored the source of local grievances and popular hostility toward the Empire. The impoverishment attributed to Continental System provided anti-Napoleonic propaganda with examples of Gallic oppression and exploitation that resonated throughout Europe.
New research on daily life under French rule illustrates the hardships associated with economic warfare, the growth of illegal trade and new merchant networks, and tensions with neutral states generated by the Anglo-French conflict to reveal the contradictions inherent in the Napoleonic Empire -- at once rational and progressive, but also coercive and exploitative.
Transnational, regional and urban examples underscore the vulnerability and ingenuity of Europeans as they faced transformative social and economic challenges. The difficult years of economic warfare and new commercial networks and practices predisposed Europeans to openly associate peace with trade and prosperity and offered contemporary experience to support Adam Smith’s moral vision of free trade that emphasized a benign spirit of commerce and the interdependency between peace and prosperity that would reduce conflict.
In the end, however, the British Empire emerged as the winner of the Anglo-French contest, positioning Britain as the preeminent global power throughout the 19th century. For this reason alone, it is not surprising that the British celebrate Waterloo as their own hard-won victory: one that resonated and ultimately marked new towns and city squares across its growing Empire.
Katherine B. Aaslestad is professor of history at West Virginia University and has published widely on the Napoleonic era. She recently co-edited “Revisiting Napoleon’s Continental System: Local, Regional, and European Experiences” with Johan Joor. This commentary was published by the History News Network.

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