Sometimes it feels like there was never a world without Top Gun. There was, of course.  Aircraft in combat and thrilling dogfights had to originate somewhere. That place was the sky over Serbia.  And the when was August 25, 1914 at the first battle of World War I – the Battle of Cer. As it …

  • August 25, 2020
  • Interesting
  • Comments Off on The First Real Dogfight
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On 10 July 1914, the Russian Minister to Belgrade dropped dead in the house of the Austrian Minister to Belgrade while the two met to discuss the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo just two weeks before. It is safe to say that Baron Nikolai Hartwig’s ill-timed but stress-induced heart attack led the …

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National-level warfare in the 21st century depends on air power.  Armies without air support are lost against enemies with modern aircraft and precision weapons.  Air Forces without ground components can win against a numerically-superior enemy, stopping an offensive or paving the way for an attack, although notably, they can not occupy territory.  World War I …

  • August 12, 2020
  • Comments Off on The Balkan Invention of Air to Air Combat

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On 28 July 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.  The rest of Europe would soon choose a side, and within a month the guns of August were sounding. Although the world knew about the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in June, everyone expected the reaction to be localized and within appropriate bounds. Everyone, that is, …

  • July 28, 2020
  • Comments Off on The End of the World

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On 4 July 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sofie were buried at their estate of Artstetten. Emperor Franz Josef of Austria-Hungary didn’t even attend the funeral of his nephew and heir. Royal gossip in Europe was well aware that the Archduke had been disliked by the Emperor.  Franz Josef and his court had …

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“When I am dead, I will not hurt anymore, will it Mama? When I am dead, build me a little monument of stones in the woods.” From the diary of Tsarevich Aleksei Romanov In the earliest morning hours of 17 July 1918, the Imperial Family of Russia was murdered in a Siberian basement.  This part …

  • July 17, 2020
  • History
  • Comments Off on The Night The Dynasty Died

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World War 1 brings images of poppies in Flanders Field, vast swaths of European Plains where millions of Allies and Central Powers Troops fought over inches of ground covered in trenches and barbed wire.  This was true for most of the latter part of the war.  Once the troops were dug in, there was little …

  • July 6, 2020
  • Ghana
  • Comments Off on The First Brit to Die

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Now I realized that when Aleksander and Draga fell from that balcony the whole of the modern world fell with them.  It took some time to reach the ground and break its neck, but its fall started then. —Rebecca West Draga Mašin was not a stupid woman.  She had been educated in multiple languages, written …

  • May 20, 2020
  • Serbia
  • Comments Off on How a Wedding Led to an Assassination That Led to a War

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Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated on St Vitus’s Day.  To those who applauded the assassination, the members of Young Bosnia who carried it out would be forever known as “The Vidovdan Heroes.” And even though Gavrilo Princip and his cohorts were imprisoned throughout the Austro-Hungarian empire, where most of them died in prison of tuberculosis, …

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