Manuel Noriega was the CIA-funded dictator of Panama from 1983 to 1989. When the United States invaded Panama, they drove him out with The Clash’s cover of I Fought the Law.
The humanitarian daily ration (HDR) is a small non-perishable package designed to provide one day’s food supply to anyone, regardless of religious dietary restrictions. Just don’t make it the same colour as a bomb when you airdrop it.
There’s an island fort in Manila Bay that’s shaped just like a battleship – a remnant of the American colonisation of the Philippines.
The Emeco 1006 Navy chair was originally designed to survive a torpedo hit. In continuous production since 1944, it has found a second life as the go-to chair for interrogation scenes in film.
In World War II, it was standard practice to add nonsense phrases to coded messages in transit, in order to thwart decryption efforts. One of those phrases accidentally changed the course of the largest naval battle in history.
World War II saw the first widespread use of inflatable tanks. The whole point of a tank is protective armour. Why would you want to make an inflatable one?
In the long history of war, there are almost no conflicts between cavalry and navy. But in 1795, there was. And the cavalry won.
In the early 17th century, the German artillery master Franz Helm suggested attaching a bomb to the back of a cat, in the hope that it would run into a fortified town and set it on fire. This sounds like a terrible idea.
Olivier Messiaen was one of the most prominent classical composers of the 20th century, and his most famous work – the Quartet for the End of Time – was first performed in a POW camp in Germany.
1866: the Irish invade Canada. The Irish independence cause spilled over to the rest of the world in interesting ways. In the Battle of Ridgeway, Irish republicans attempted to seize Canada to pressure the UK to leave Ireland.
On August 5th, 1944, more than a thousand Japanese prisoners of war broke out of the Cowra POW camp in eastern Australia. It was the biggest prison break of World War II.
The HMS Trident was a British submarine. Over the course of World War II it sunk several German ships while patrolling the North Sea. And one of its crew members was a reindeer.
We think of rocket launchers as a modern invention, but the Koreans were using them four hundred years ago. The hwacha could fire two hundred rockets at once, blowing up enemies more than a hundred metres away.
The Salvation Army is a Protestant church modelled on pseudo-military lines. It was founded in Victorian London and often protested about the evils of alcohol. And another army arose to fight them.
In the officers’ room of a ship of the British Royal Navy, there are seven traditional toasts for the midday meal, one for each day of the week.