Magazine article History Today


Magazine article History Today


Article excerpt

Declaring Intent

I read with a strange sense of nostalgia Richard Cavendish's article `Who Started Korea' (Months Past, June). I was District Commissioner of a remote station in what is now Zambia at the time, and turned on my radio to an American station. It was a shattering experience. A voice announced,`Stand by for the President of the United States, Harry S. Truman ... This message will be repeated in Mandarin Chinese, Tonkinese Chinese ...' and at least half-a-dozen other Chinese versions. Solemn ritual music followed, then the message was repeated, again and again, for over twenty minutes.

Then came the message, that North Korean forces had invaded South Korea, and the voice of Truman:`I have ordered the American Seventh Fleet to do such and such. I have ordered the American such-and-such Air Force units to do so-and-so'. This message was then repeated in the numerous Chinese versions. Then, the whole message was repeated. After a few listenings we switched off.

World War Three, we thought. When you are far from anywhere, with no telephones, you discuss and discuss. Reading the article, the emotions of that Southern Hemisphere winter evening swept into my mind: World War Three!

Anthony d'Avray Bognor Regis

Hairy Monsters

In Heath Shore's article on juvenile crime (June) the caption to Leech's drawing on page 24 misses the point. It was not the Peelers that frightened the urchins,, but their new-grown beards, a byproduct of the Crimean War. Especially sinsister was the beard of No. 3, in the style of Napoleon III. The bus-conductor and the driver in the background are likewise bearded. As the last beards in England went out with Charles I, it was all a bit of a shock when they suddenly came back.

Michael Samuelson Pevensey, East Sussex

Empty Land

David Braund's article, `Portrait of Britain: AD1' (January) looked at, among other things, the social environment of Britain, and yet nowhere was there any mention as to who the inhabitants were.

In AD1 the only British people on the island were the Brythonic Celts and their descendants, the Welsh and the Cornish. From 500 BC this was the case. Before the Anglo-Saxons - the English - migrated to Britain from Germany, these people were the chief inhabitants of what is now England, Southern Scotland and Wales. They spoke old Welsh (and Welsh was still the language of Strathclyde as late as the 12th century, when it became part of Scotland). The Scots, a different people to the lowland Britons, came down from the North. Hundreds of place names in England and Scotland are clearly Welsh in origin, yet the whole article anglicised Britain - mentioning Kent, Hertfordshire etc, all English names - when it was Brythonic Celt at the time.

The island was known as Prydain, its Welsh name, before the Romans arrived and gave it the Latin version Pritain, which later became Britain. When the Anglo-Saxons invaded in the 5th century many Britons fled to Brittany: hence its name. Their language is very similar to Welsh.

Anyone reading the article would have gained the impression that Britain was Anglicised when it obviously was not. This is to belittle the proud history of the Welsh - British - people. …

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