The History Network

The History Network

United States

The history podcast specialists


2108 WW2_Auxilliary_Cruiser_Kormoran  

On the 3rd of December 1940 the German Auxiliary Cruiser Kormoran slipped out of Gotenhafen. She was the largest of the new wave of Merchant Raiders, which had proved so successful in the first world war. Captained by Theodor Detmers, at just 38 he was the youngest of the Auxiliary cruiser captains. In his own opinion too young. Officially he didn't even hold high enough rank to captain such a ship. But over the next year they successfully sank 11 enemy merchantman and sparred with the Destroyer HMAS Sydney, a David and Goliath encounter... An encounter in which they triumphed. Dur: 24 mins File: .mp3

2107 The Hanseatic League  

Around the 12th Century, German regionalism was very strong with the northern lowlands having their own distinct languages of Saxon and Frisian. Efforts by Imperial central government to unify provincial and legal frameworks, while attempting to impose Middle High German as the official language, failed.

 The importance of towns within this regionalism, they were the focus and strength of the local communities with the power to effect terms of trade, rights, position.

It was therefore a fertile period for the emergence of urban leagues, and in 1241 the first formal alliance between Lubeck and Hamburg was strengthened when they agreed to jointly protect trade routes on sea and land. This was the first formation of what would become the Hanseatic League. This league would expand, fight, defend, trade and negotiate across the next 400 years until Europe no longer needed it. But its legacy can still be seen and found today. Dur: 16mins File: .mp3


2106 The Seige of Khartoum and the Death of Gordon  

Northern Sudan had always been under the control of the Ottoman administered Egypt, though from the early part of the 19th century the now almost autonomous Egypt extended her rule South. Muhammad Ali, the self declared Khedive of Egypt, garrisoned troops throughout the region at outposts such as Khartoum. Soon the busy garrison town was a thriving settlement, the focal point for trade (including slave trade). Dur: 19mins File: .mp3

2105 Eugene of Savoy  

Eugene - Who's full french title was Francois-Eugene, prince de Savoie-Carignan was born in Paris in 1663. His Italian mother, Olympia Mancini, was niece to Cardinal Mazarin the Chief Minister of the French King (or in his case Kings as he served both Bourbon monarchs Louis XIII and Louis XIV). His father was the Italian-French nobleman Eugene Maurice, Count of Soissons. Dur: 21mins  File: .mp3

2104 The Battle of Franklin  

As night fell on July 4, 1863, the fate of the Confederate States of America had been sealed. General Robert E. Lee's second attempt to invade the Union had been turned back at Gettysburg with heavy and irreplaceable losses. In the west the city of Vicksburg surrendered to Ulysses Grant, severing the Eastern and Western portions of the Confederacy and denying the Confederates use of the Mississippi River. The Confederacy would fight the remainder of the war on the defensive, with steadily dwindling resources. Dur: 18mins File: .mp3

2103 The Cataphract  

Throughout history there have been many versions of armoured cavalrymen. In the west we might typically think back to the medieval Knight. Dig down a little deeper and we find that its precursor was the Frankish panzerotti from the 8th 9th and 10th century, however long before this with its Origins in Iran was the cataphract. Dur: 16mins File: .mp3

2102 The Cushing Brothers - Part 2  

Three brothers born in the 1830s in the Wisconsin Territory left a remarkable legacy of bravery, loyalty and determination through their service to the Union during the American Civil War. William, Alonzo and Howard Cushing each fought in separate theaters of that war and their combined service represents a remarkable mosaic of the Union soldier's experience. In the words of biographer Jamie Malinowski, "The Cushing brothers had an astonishing ability to show up at the Civil War's most important moments." Dur: 36mins File: .mp3

2101 The Cushing Brothers - Part 1  

Three brothers born in the 1830s in the Wisconsin Territory left a remarkable legacy of bravery, loyalty and determination through their service to the Union during the American Civil War. William, Alonzo and Howard Cushing each fought in separate theaters of that war and their combined service represents a remarkable mosaic of the Union soldier's experience. In the words of biographer Jamie Malinowski, "The Cushing brothers had an astonishing ability to show up at the Civil War's most important moments." Due: 27mins  File: .mp3

2010 The Torpedo  

To many of us the the idea of a torpedo is that of a sweaty submarine, the commander peering through his periscope and announcing "fire", and the torpedo whizzes through the water leaving a discernible foamy trail. The single hit is devastating. Whilst this has many elements of truth the Torpedo has a much longer history than the World War Two films we grew up with... Dur: 21mins File: .mp3

2009 The Aleutian Islands Campaign  

The Aleutian Islands Campaign is often referred to as the Forgotten Battle due to history concentrating more on battles like that of Midway and Guadalcanal, yet this important campaign to take back U.S. soil, witnessed the first American amphibious assault in the North Pacific as well as one of the first Japanese banzai attacks of the war, and was fiercely fought by both sides. After the Japanese first took their Aleutian Island targets it would take over a year and a force some 20 times as strong before the US retook the land back from the Japanese. Dur: 20 mins File: .mp3

2008 The Battle of Naseby and the New Model Army  

At the Outbreak of English Civil War it was convention that the aristocracy would lead the troops, this was irrespective of ability or experience. As the war went on it became clear to the parliamentarians that a conflict of interest both for power, and the unwillingness to drive home a Royalist defeat, meant that another solution should be sought. The result was the New Model Army, at Naseby it would show its mettle. Dur: 18mins File: .mp3

2007 The Lovat Scouts  

Despite being well-led, trained, and equipped at the outbreak of the Second Boer War in October 1899, the British army was unprepared for the guerilla-style tactics their enemy employed, suffering more than 3000 casualties and several defeats in the first two months of the conflict. On December 12th, as the leadership in London was attempting to formulate a plan to counter the Boer threat, 28-year old reservist Lieutenant Simon Joseph Fraser the 14th Lord Lovat & 22nd chief of the clan Fraser, approached the War Office with a proposal to raise two companies of Scottish Highlanders, one mounted and one infantry, for use as elite units with the express mission of neutralizing the Boer on their own terms. Dur: 25mins File: .mp3

2006 The Schlieffen Plan – A Pistol Cocked at England's Heart  

By the first decade of the last century, the two great opposing alliance systems in Europe had formed, or been starched into the fine conformity of Milton, "a staunch and solid piece of framework, as any January could freeze together" (if we overlook the pliable Italians). All had their war plans, but none as famous as Schlieffen's. And by 1914, all plans were for the offensive – any previous defensive ones were discarded in favour of the much more manly and becoming offensive action, or so the thinking went. Dur: 46mins File: .mp3

2005 Pamwe Chete! The Story of the Selous Scouts  

"If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles", so said the great Chinese general and strategist Sun Tzu. Though all military tacticians since the dawn of time have tried to predict and understand their enemy, few organisations have succeeded and truly become their enemy. To truly become one's enemy, takes more than putting on a uniform. Empathy with their foundation, a knowledge of their society, traditions and customs are the basics when trying to get inside your enemy's head. In modern military times, when discussing becoming one's enemy, the name of the Selous Scouts easily stands out above all others. Dur: 20 mins File: .mp3

2004  Vlad Dracula, Prince of Wallachia: part 2  

In the last episode we heard of Dracula's rise to power in Wallachia and how in 1459 he refused to pay tribute to the Ottoman's. His failure to do so forced Sultan Mehmed II to raise a huge army to march on Wallachia. Dracula had prepared Wallachia for such a fight. Not only did he order the construction or repair of border castles, and hire mercenaries for the army, but he also prepared his people for war. He moved his official residence south to the strong citadel of Bucharest to be closer to the border. Dur: 28mins File: .mp3

2003 Vlad Dracula, Prince of Wallachia - Part 1  

In December 1476, two monks from the monastery of Snagov, about forty kilometers north of Bucharest, stumbled upon a bloody, mangled, headless corpse. Recognizing the clothing, the monks secretly interred the body in the monastery's crypt. The head, meanwhile, made its way to Constantinople where it was put on display. The body belonged to the newly returned prince, Vlad, who was at the time known as 'the Impaler', but history knows him by a different name - Dracula. Dur: 39mins File: .mp3

2002 Commerce Raiders: WW1  

The threat to Britain's supply lines during the second world war is a story of U-Boat Wolf Packs, preying on the merchant shipping as they brought vital goods to Britain across the Atlantic. But in other seas and oceans there was another threat, much akin to latter-day day pirates, at sea for months at a time in converted cargo ships. With their guns hidden, masquerading as other merchantmen they would sail remote sea lanes sinking or capturing lone shipping. Only nine German merchant raiders put to sea, yet they sank 130 Allied or neutral ships… The origins of these raiders goes back to the First World War... Dur: 22mins File: .mp3

2001 The Battle of Ilipa  

The Second Punic War was already in its twelfth year with neither side in a strong enough position to claim supremacy. The Roman general Scipio had been campaigning successfully in the contested province of Spain for over three years but now the Carthaginians had gathered a huge army and marched out to destroy him. Significantly outnumbered, yet eager to draw his enemies into a decisive battle, Scipio accepted the challenge and in the spring of 206 BC the two armies met near the small town of Ilipa in southern Spain. The outcome of the Battle of Ilipa would not only determine control of the wealthy and strategically vital Iberian peninsula, but ultimately decide which city would become master of the whole Mediterranean world; Rome or her arch rival – Carthage. Dur: 29mins File: .mp3

SPECIAL - The Lancaster Bomber  

During the hiatus between seasons we thought you might be running a bit short of military history? So we thought we'd put out this episode from Angus's new WW2 Podcast (sorry if you already subscribe and have heard it).

The WW2 podcast is a regular podcast looking at all aspects of the Second World War. You can subscribe on iTunes, for more information have a look at

In this episode, from August, Angus talked to Andrew Panton.

Andrew is the pilot of "Just Jane", a Lancaster based in Lincolnshire. You can find out more at


1911 Pike and Shot  

During the 15th Century Swiss Pikemen dominated the battlefield. Fighting as mercenaries these well drilled, professional soldiers, would provide the backbone to many European armies. The Spanish introduction of the Arquebusiers into their armies would prove to be their achilles heel to pike units and ushered in the era of "Pike and Shot". Dur: 25mins File: .mp3

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