1. George Washington struck the war’s first blow.
In 1753, Virginia Governor Robert Dinwiddie dispatched 21-year-old George Washington to southwestern Pennsylvania with a written order to French forces to vacate the contested territory of the Ohio Valley. When the French refused, Lieutenant Colonel Washington returned the following year with a force of hundreds and ambushed a small scouting party before dawn on May 28, 1754. The first military action of Washington’s life resulted in the deaths of 13 enemy soldiers and launched the French and Indian War. Washington was forced to surrender his makeshift garrison, Fort Necessity, on July 3, 1754, and the following year he was part of British General Edward Braddock’s disastrous expedition to southwestern Pennsylvania. Two decades after fighting to extend the dominion of King George III over the North American frontier, Washington would lead the armed rebellion to expel the king’s forces.
READ MORE: How 22-Year-Old George Washington Inadvertently Sparked a World War
2. It was part of the first global war.
“The volley fired by a young Virginian in the backwoods of America set the world on fire,” declared English author Horace Walpole, and indeed the 1754 battle started by Washington sparked the Seven Years’ War, a global conflagration in which hundreds of thousands died. Called “the first world war” by Winston Churchill, the Seven Years’ War included fighting in Europe, the Caribbean, the Philippines, India and Africa. It was the North American portion of the conflict that became known as the French and Indian War. While Britain kept up the fight in North America against France, it relied on its ally Prussia, led by Frederick the Great, to sustain the fight in Europe against France, Austria, Russia and Sweden.
3. The Seven Years’ War actually lasted nine years.
Although hostilities began in 1754, Britain did not formally declare war on France until May 18, 1756. France reciprocated three weeks later. Nine years of armed conflict between the two countries on the North American continent ended with the ratification of the Treaty of Paris by the British Parliament on February 10, 1763.
4. In spite of the war’s moniker, not all Native Americans sided with the French.
While the majority of Native American tribes backed the French, numerous tribes remained neutral, fought alongside the British or shifted allegiances with the winds of war. Native American tribes, which laid claim to the same territories that the British and French were fighting over, were hardly monolithic, and their fault lines were reflected in the sides they backed. The Iroquois Confederacy, initially neutral, eventually allied with the British in 1758, while the Algonquins, their traditional rivals, backed the French.
5. The war led Benjamin Franklin to draw a famed political cartoon.
Weeks after the war began, delegates from 7 of the 13 British colonies met in Albany, New York, to discuss the growing crisis and their collective defense. At the Albany Congress, Pennsylvania delegate Benjamin Franklin presented a plan for a unified colonial government that included a legislature of delegates chosen by colonial assemblies and an executive branch headed by a president-general appointed by the British crown. To support his plan, Franklin penned a political cartoon for his Pennsylvania Gazette newspaper that depicted a rattlesnake chopped into pieces with the caption: “Join, or Die.” The colonies, however, did not want to cede any power, and they overwhelmingly rejected Franklin’s Albany Plan.
READ MORE: 11 Surprising Facts About Benjamin Franklin
6. The war gave rise to the Cajuns.
Although the Catholic residents of French-speaking Acadia—composed of portions of the present-day Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island—pledged neutrality, the British feared they would be subversive. Beginning in 1755, the British expelled thousands of Acadians. Refugees fled to the American colonies and to France, but beginning in the 1760s, hundreds started to settle in French-controlled Louisiana. There, the name “Acadian” morphed into “Cajun,” and present-day Cajuns are descendants of these French and Indian War refugees.
7. The war inspired “Yankee Doodle.”
Although more associated with the American Revolution, the lyrics for the patriotic tune were thought to have been composed by the British during the French and Indian War to mock the ragtag colonists fighting alongside the finely drilled and nattily attired redcoats. Intended as a derisive taunt, the patriots proudly adopted the tune during the American Revolution.
8. It launched an 18th-century special operations force—Rogers’ Rangers.
One of the war’s most famous fighting men was Major Robert Rogers, a New Hampshire frontiersman who led a band of daring scouts and raiders who devised guerilla tactics to fight in the thick wilderness, conducted reconnaissance missions deep into enemy territory and launched bold hit-and-run raids against French forts and Native American villages. Rogers’ Rangers served as a Loyalist force during the American Revolution, although many of its French and Indian War veterans joined the patriot cause instead.
9. The British gained Florida as a result.
With a stroke of the pen, the 1763 Treaty of Paris stripped France of its North American empire. Spain, which allied with France in 1762, was also forced to cede Florida to the British, although it did gain possession of Louisiana, which had been secretly granted to it by the French in the Treaty of Fontainebleau the year before.
10. The French and Indian War set the stage for the American Revolution.
After paying Prussia to fight in Europe and reimbursing the American colonies for military expenses, Britain found itself in deep debt at war’s end. As a result, it enacted the Sugar Act of 1764, the Stamp Act of 1765, the Townshend Acts of 1767 and other unpopular measures aimed at raising funds from its 13 American colonies, which gave birth to protests against “taxation without representation.” The issuance of the Proclamation of 1763, which banned colonial settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains, in the war’s immediate aftermath also contributed to colonial discontent that broke out into armed rebellion in 1775.
Explore George Washington's life in our interactive timeline
D-Day: 10 things you might not know about the Normandy invasion
The landings were the first stage of Operation Overlord - the invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe - and aimed to bring an end to World War Two.
By night-time, around 156,000 Allied troops had arrived in Normandy, despite challenging weather and fierce German defences.
At the end of D-Day, the Allies had established a foothold in France and within 11 months Nazi Germany was defeated.
Here are 10 things you may not have known about the operation:
10 Things You Should Know About The Treaty Of Paris (1763)
Winston Churchill called it "the first world war." Fought between 1754 and 1763, the misleadingly named Seven Years' War (often called the French and Indian War in North America) pitted Europe's major colonial powers against each other in theaters across the globe, from North America and Africa to India and the Philippines. On one side of the conflict stood Great Britain and its allies, including Portugal and German states. The other camp was led by France, whose comrades included Russia, the Holy Roman Empire, and Spain.
In the end, Great Britain prevailed. On February 10, 1763, representatives from Britain, France, Spain, Hanover, and Portugal met in Paris to sign a peace treaty. Few documents have shaken up global politics so dramatically. This Treaty of Paris wrested Canada from France, redrew North American geography, promoted religious freedom, and lit the fuse that set off America's revolution.
1. THE TREATY HANDED CANADA TO BRITAIN—A MOVE ENDORSED BY BEN FRANKLIN AND VOLTAIRE.
Before the war ended, some in the British government were already deciding which French territories should be seized. Many believed that Great Britain should annex Guadaloupe, a Caribbean colony that produced £6,000,000 worth of exports, like sugar, every year. France’s holdings on the North American mainland weren't nearly as valuable or productive.
Benjamin Franklin thought that securing the British colonies' safety from French or Indian invasion was paramount [PDF]. In 1760, he published a widely-read pamphlet which argued that keeping the French out of North America was more important than taking over any sugar-rich islands. Evidently, King George III agreed. Under the Treaty of Paris, Britain acquired present-day Quebec, Cape Breton Island, the Great Lakes basin, and the eastern bank of the Mississippi River. France was allowed to regain possession of Guadaloupe, which Britain had temporarily occupied during the war. Some thought France still came out on top despite its losses. In his 1759 novel Candide, the French philosopher Voltaire dismissed Canada as but a "few acres of snow."
2. FRANCE RETAINED EIGHT STRATEGIC ISLANDS.
Located in the North Atlantic off the coast of Newfoundland, the Archipelago of St. Pierre and Miquelon is the last remnant of France's North American empire. The Treaty of Paris allowed France to retain ownership of its vast cod fisheries around the archipelago and in certain areas of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In return, France promised Britain that it wouldn't build any military facilities on the islands. Today, the 6,000 people who live on them are French citizens who use euros as currency, enjoy the protection of France's navy, and send elected representatives to the French National Assembly and Senate.
3. AN EX-PRIME MINISTER LEFT HIS SICKBED TO DENOUNCE THE TREATY.Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Prime Minister William Pitt the Elder had led Britain's robust war effort from 1757 to 1761, but was forced out by George III, who was determined to end the conflict. Pitt's replacement was the third Earl of Bute, who shaped the Treaty of Paris to placate the French and Spanish and prevent another war. Pitt was appalled by these measures. When a preliminary version of the treaty was submitted to Parliament for approval in November 1762, the ex-Prime Minister was bedridden with gout, but ordered his servants to carry him into the House of Lords. For three and a half hours, Pitt railed against the treaty's terms that he viewed as unfavorable to the victors. But in the end, the Lords approved the treaty by a wide margin.
4. SPAIN SWAPPED FLORIDA FOR CUBA.
Florida had been under Spanish control since the 16th century. Under the Paris treaty, Spain yielded the territory to Britain, which split the land into East and West Florida. The latter included the southern limits of modern-day Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida panhandle. East Florida encompassed the the territory's peninsula. In return, Spain recovered Cuba and its major port, Havana, which had been in British hands since 1762. Twenty-one years later, Great Britain gave both Florida colonies back to the Spanish after the American War of Independence.
5. THE DOCUMENT GAVE FRENCH CANADIANS RELIGIOUS LIBERTY.
French Canada was overwhelmingly Catholic, yet overwhelmingly Protestant Britain did not force religious conversions after it took possession of the territory. Article Four of the Treaty of Paris states that "His Britannic Majesty, on his side, agrees to grant the liberty of the [Catholic] religion to the inhabitants of Canada … his new Roman Catholic subjects may profess the worship of their religion according to the rites of the [Roman] church, as far as the laws of Great Britain permit."
The policy was meant to ensure French Canadians' loyalty to their new sovereign and avoid provoking France into a war of revenge. As anti-British sentiment emerged in the 13 American colonies, historian Terence Murphy writes, Great Britain needed to bring the French Canadians into the fold because they were "simply too numerous to suppress." This provision in the Treaty of Paris probably influenced the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of religious freedom.
6. A SECOND, SECRET TREATY GAVE HALF OF LOUISIANA TO SPAIN.
By the 1760s, the French territory of Louisiana stretched from the Appalachians to the Rocky Mountains. Faced with a likely British victory in the Seven Years' War, France quietly arranged to give the portion of Louisiana west of the Mississippi River, including the city of New Orleans, to its ally, Spain, in 1762. (The rest eventually went to Great Britain.) The deal was struck in the Treaty of Fontainebleu. This arrangement wasn't announced to the public for more than a year, and Britain's diplomats were completely unaware that it had taken place while they negotiated the Treaty of Paris. By ceding so much territory to Spain, French foreign minister Étienne François de Choiseul hoped to compensate that country for its forfeiture of Florida.
7. CHOISEUL PREDICTED THAT THE TREATY WOULD LEAD TO AMERICAN REVOLT.
Before the Treaty of Paris, the threat of a French Canadian invasion had been keeping Britain's colonies loyal to the crown. When Canada became British, king and colonies no longer shared a common enemy, and the colonists' grievances with Britain came to the fore.
Choiseul predicted this chain of events, and saw it as an opportunity for France take revenge on Britain. Before the Treaty of Paris had even been signed, he'd started rebuilding France's navy in anticipation of a North American revolt. He also sent secret agents to the American colonies to report signs of growing political upheaval. One of these spies, Baron Johan de Kalb, later joined the Continental Army and led American troops into numerous battles before he died in action in 1780.
8. THE TREATY HAD A MAJOR IMPACT IN INDIA.
In the early 1750s, the British East India Company and its French counterpart, the Compagnie Française des Indes, clashed regularly over control of lucrative trade on the Indian subcontinent. Once the Seven Years' War began, this regional tension intensified. France's most vital Indian trading post was the city of Pondicherry, which British forces captured in 1761.
The Treaty of Paris returned to France all of its Indian trading posts, including Pondicherry. But, it prohibited France from fortifying the posts with armed troops. That allowed Britain to negotiate with Indian leaders and control as much of the subcontinent as it could, dashing France's hope of rivaling Great Britain as India's dominant colonial power.
9. IT TRIGGERED A HUGE NATIVE AMERICAN UPRISING.Ottawa leader Pontiac (center) meets with British generals after the Treaty of Paris was signed. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
For decades, French leaders in the eastern Louisiana Territory had developed alliances with native peoples. However, when that land was transferred to the British, some Native Americans were shocked at the French betrayal. Netawatwees, a powerful Ohio Delaware chief, was reportedly "struck dumb for a considerable time" when he learned about the Treaty of Paris. In 1762, the Ottawa chief Pontiac forged an alliance between numerous tribes from the Great Lakes region with the shared goal of driving out the British. After two years, thousands of casualties, and an attack with biological weapons, Pontiac and representatives of Great Britain came to a poorly enforced peace treaty in 1766.
10. THE TREATY CAME TO AMERICA AFTER 250 YEARS.
Once the Treaty of Paris was signed in that city, it stayed put. In 2013, the British government lent its copy—the first time the document would be displayed outside Europe—for an exhibit in Boston, Massachusetts, commemorating the 250th anniversary of the signing. The Bostonian Society's "1763: A Revolutionary Peace" exhibited the document alongside other artifacts from the Seven Years' War. Afterward, the manuscript returned to Great Britain.
9 Toppling Of Statues
Executing Louis wasn&rsquot enough: later that year, the rebels decided to remove all trace of the old kings from the country. They started with the tombs of St Denis, the traditional resting place of France&rsquos royals.
To begin with, the masons were happy just to destroy the old Carolingian statues and other symbols of royalty. But within a month they were hammering into the old vault that held the kings from the House of Bourbon. When they were in, they started destroying the old coffins. Some of the kingly remains were put on public display, while others were dumped into a large burial pit, to cries of joy from the crowd. Many people came to watch&mdashso many that the labourers struggled to do their work. According to eyewitnesses, members of the crowd grabbed at the bodies when they could, taking stray hairs, teeth and other things as personal mementos. These acts were later condemned both within France and across the world, but by that time it was too late.
After the Bourbon Restoration, the kings were retrieved from the pit and moved to the crypt in the basilica, but the damage was already done: many of the kings were unrecognisable. 
Ten Facts About George Washington and the French and Indian War
George Washington was a raw and ambitious 21-year old when he was first sent to the Ohio Valley to confront the growing French presence in the region. His actions sparked the French and Indian War.
1. Virginia's governor sent 21-year old Maj. George Washington to deliver an ultimatum to the French
Control of the expansive Ohio Valley region, especially near the joining of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers (modern-day Pittsburgh), was of great interest to both the British and their French rivals. Rivers like the Ohio, which connected to the Mississippi, were essential transit corridors for goods produced in this fertile region.
Concerned by reports of French expansion into the Ohio Valley, Virginia Lt. Governor Robert Dinwiddie sent 21-year-old Major George Washington of the Virginia Regiment on a mission to confront the French forces. Washington was to deliver a message from the governor demanding that the French leave the region and halt their harassment of English traders. Washington departed Williamsburg, Virginia in October 1753 and made his way into the rugged trans- Appalachian region with Jacob Van Braam, a family friend and French speaker, and Christopher Gist, an Ohio company trader and guide. On December 11, 1753, amidst a raging snowstorm, Washington arrived and was politely received by Captain Jacques Legardeur de Saint-Pierre at Fort LeBoeuf. After reviewing Dinwiddie's letter, Legardeur de Saint-Pierre calmly wrote a reply stating that the French king's claim to the Ohio Valley was "incontestable."
Washington's return to Virginia during the winter of 1753 was a perilous one, but the group safely returned to Williamsburg after traveling almost 900 miles in two and a half winter months.
2. Washington's family along with many of his political allies had strong economic interests in the Ohio Valley
Royal Governor Robert Dinwiddie, George William Fairfax, George Mason, and George's half-brothers Lawrence and Augustine Washington were all shareholders in the Ohio Company. Founded in 1749, the Ohio Company was created to help encourage settlement and development of the vast Ohio Valley. Granted 200,000 acres (with the potential for an additional 300,000 acres) between the Kanawha and Monongahela Rivers, the Ohio Company shareholders were economically threatened by the French incursion into these granted lands. In addition to the larger geopolitical issues at stake, the principal shareholders of the Ohio Company, George Washington included, were also personally motivated to push the French out of the region.
3. Washington's account of his actions in the Ohio Valley made him a celebrity in North America and Britain
Shortly after his return to Williamsburg in January 1754, George Washington sat down and wrote a detailed account of his journey to the Ohio Valley and a description of all that he had seen. This account was so well received by Lt. Governor Robert Dinwiddie that he had Maj. Washington's journal published in both Williamsburg and in London. The Journal of Major George Washington included not only Washington's careful account of his experiences in the Ohio country, but also Dinwiddie's letter to the French and the French reply.
The Journal of Major George Washington appeared in monograph form and was published in various newspapers in both Britain and America. The account not only helped to inform the American and British populations of the perceived growing French threat in the Ohio River Valley but also made young George Washington a celebrity on both sides of the Atlantic.
4. Washington's very first battle ignited a world war
Responding to the defiant French, Lt. Governor Dinwiddie ordered the newly promoted Lt. Col. George Washington and approximately 160 Virginia militia to return to the Ohio country in March of 1754. Dinwiddie wanted Washington to "act on the defensive," but also clearly empowered Washington to "make Prisoners of or kill & destroy&hellip" all those who resisted British control of the region.
Eager to send their own diplomatic directive demanding an English withdrawal from the region, a French force of 35 soldiers commanded by Ensign Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville camped in a rocky ravine not far from Washington's encampment at the Great Meadows (now in Fayette County, Pennsylvania). Accompanied by Tanacharison, a Seneca chief (also known as the Half-King) and 12 native warriors, Washington led a party of 40 militiamen on an all night march towards the French position. On May 28, 1754, Washington's party stealthily approached the French camp at dawn. Finally spotted at close range by the French, shots rang out and a vigorous firefight erupted in the wooded wilderness. Washington's forces quickly overwhelmed the surprised French force and killed 13 soldiers and captured another 21. Washington later wrote of his first military engagement with a certain amount of martial enthusiasm.
"I fortunately escaped without any wound, for the right wing, where I stood, was exposed to and received all the enemy's fire, and it was the part where the man was killed, and the rest wounded. I heard the bullets whistle, and, believe me there is something charming in the sound."
Both sides claimed that the other fired first, but what neither side disputed was that this event deep in the American wilderness helped spark a war that would ultimately spread to places as far away as Europe, Africa, and India.
5. Washington surrendered to the French at Fort Necessity
After learning of the attack at Jumonville Glen, Claude-Pierre Pecaudy de Contrecoeur, the veteran French commander at Fort Duquesne, ordered Captain Louis Coulon de Villiers, Ensign Jumonville's brother, to assail Washington and his force near Great Meadows. De Villiers left Fort Duquesne with nearly 600 French soldiers and Canadian militiamen, accompanied by 100 native allies.
Aware of the onset of a powerful French column, Washington busily fortified his position at Great Meadows. Despite receiving additional reinforcements, Washington's bedraggled force of around 400 men remained outnumbered by the approaching French. Even more concerning, the small circular wooden fort &ndash named Fort Necessity - built in the center of the meadow was poorly situated and vulnerable to fire from the nearby wooded hills that circled the position.
On July 1, 1754, the large combined French and native forces reached the Great Meadows. Washington gathered his troops and retreated into Fort Necessity where on a rainy July 3rd the French began firing on the surrounded English. Sensing the hopelessness of his situation, Washington agreed to surrender to the French. The surrender terms, written in French, poorly translated, and soaking wet allowed Washington and his troops to return to Virginia in peace, but one clause in the document had Washington admitting that he had "assassinated" Ensign Jumonville &ndash something that Washington hotly contested despite his signature on the document.
The Battle of Great Meadows proved to be the only time that Washington surrendered to an enemy in battle.
6. Washington chafed at not being able to secure a royal commission in the British army
The young, ambitious George Washington was keenly aware that his Virginia militia rank was looked down upon by those in the British military. British regular officers, with their royal commissions, regularly dismissed provincial militia officers and sought to have even their most junior officers placed above more senior ranking militia officers. During the 1755 Braddock expedition, Washington became an unpaid, volunteer aide-de-camp to Braddock rather than assume his militia rank and be subjected to the embarrassment of being subordinate to junior officers. Washington's interest in obtaining a royal commission became so strong that he traveled to Boston to meet with Governor William Shirley, who was the acting commander in chief after Gen. Braddock's death. Washington was unsuccessful in obtaining a royal commission, but Shirley did issue a decree that officers in the Virginia militia would outrank British officers of lower rank.
7. Washington's leadership at the Battle of Monongahela helped save the remnants of Braddock's army
In the spring of 1755, a column of 2,100 British Regulars and 500 colonial militia commanded by Major General Edward Braddock, set out from Virginia to advance upon and take the French stronghold at Fort Duquesne. Braddock's column faced the daunting challenge of moving their men and material over the rough, densely wooded Allegheny Mountains.
George Washington accompanied Braddock's column as an aide-de-camp to the general. Washington, who knew the terrain well, was recovering from a terrible case of dysentery as Braddock's force reached the Monongahela River ten miles from Fort Duquesne. In a wooded ravine on the far side of the river, Braddock's leading force of 1,300 men was suddenly attacked and defeated by a smaller French and native force on July 9, 1755 at the Battle of Monongahela. During the attack, most of the senior British officers, including Gen. Edward Braddock were killed or severely wounded. With panic in the air, George Washington quickly rode into the fray and helped to reestablish some amount of order. During the savage fight, Washington had two horses shot out from underneath him and his coat was pierced by four musket balls. Washington's cool leadership helped many of the surviving soldiers to effectively escape the onslaught. Despite the British loss of 977 killed or wounded, Washington was lauded as the "hero of Monongahela" by Virginia Governor Robert Dinwiddie and was given the rank of colonel in command of the 1,200 man Virginia Regiment.
8. Gen. Edward Braddock's red commander sash is in the Mount Vernon collection
In the aftermath of the British defeat at the Battle of Monongahela, George Washington helped to lead the defeated remnants of Braddock's army back towards Colonel Thomas Dunbar's camp and the army's reserve. Braddock who had been severely wounded in the battle, succumbed to his wounds on July 13, 1755 and was buried in an unmarked grave in the middle of the narrow road that his troops were using. According to Washington family legend, Edward Braddock presented his red commander's sash to Washington, as the only uninjured aide on Braddock's staff and the leader who helped to save the army from further catastrophe. This sash &ndash Braddock's Sash &ndash was a symbol of command and the gift represented a powerful gesture to the young Virginian. In 1846, this same sash was presented to another war hero, Zachary Taylor, and later returned to Mount Vernon in 1918.
9. Washington led the Virginia Regiment in Forbes' successful advance that captured Fort Duquesne
George Washington, who had been a part of two failed efforts to take Fort Duquesne, commanded the Virginia militia forces attached to Brig. Gen. John Forbes's expedition against the French stronghold at the Forks of the Ohio River from 1757-1758. Commanding a strong force of almost 2,000 British Regulars and 5,000 colonial militia, Forbes chose to drive westwards along the southern border of Pennsylvania instead of along the more southerly Braddock road &ndash the path that Washington has strongly recommended.
Operating from the recently established Fort Ligonier, Colonel Washington's Virginians participated in a number of operations in the area east of the French position. On November 24, 1758, Washington led his troops on an advance that occupied the smoking ruins of the abandoned Fort Duquesne. After almost five years of hard marching, combat, and countless setbacks, Washington was finally able to stand at the British controlled forks of the Ohio.
10. Washington learned many important lessons from his French and Indian War experiences
The French and Indian War provided George Washington with many important experiences and examples that helped to shape this future Founding Father. As a young, ambitious 21-year old, Washington had been exposed to the realities of life at the edges of British North America, and been asked to lead and negotiate with experienced native and French commanders. As part of Braddock's command, Washington took the opportunity to read military manuals, treatises, and military histories. He practiced the art of creating clear and effective orders by transcribing orders issued by more experienced British officers around him. In more practical military terms, Washington's French and Indian War experience taught the young officer much about how to organize supply, how to dispense military justice, how to command, how to build forts, and how to manage subordinates. Even though he was denied a royal commission, Washington did all he could to emulate the habits, manners, and actions of the regular officers around him. As historian Fred Anderson states, "Washington at age twenty-seven, was not yet the man he would be at age forty or fifty, but he had come an immense distance in five years' time. And the hard road he had traveled from Jumonville's Glen, in ways he would not comprehend for years to come, had done much to prepare him for the harder road that lay ahead."
7 US Soldiers Started Collecting Japanese Skulls
The atrocities of the Japanese during World War II are very well-documented, and in the United States especially, their misdeeds are very well-known. Most people have heard of Japan&rsquos Unit 731 as well as of actions like the Bataan Death March. The Japanese were known for incredibly brutal treatment of prisoners of war and in some cases were witnessed burying captured enemies alive.
However, war brings out the brutality in all of us, and as the campaign in the Pacific dragged on, US soldiers began to perform actions that many people today would find to be shocking and horrific. They started mutilating Japanese corpses and taking trophies, even going so far as to send them back home to civilians, who were actually thankful instead of disgusted. One of the most common things to take were ears because they were easy to cut off and haul away as a trophy, but skulls were the real coup de grace.
Unfortunately, neither process for obtaining the skull was anything short of barbaric. They would either have to boil the head to get the skin off or leave it out long enough for ants to eat all the flesh, leaving the skull underneath intact.  To be clear, the United States military leadership officially was against the practice and tried to discourage it, but the soldiers kept taking skulls anyway.
10 Things You May Not Know About Indian Army Dogs
Army Dogs have been an integral part of the Armed Forces since time immemorial but their silent service to the nation always go unnoticed. There is more to a military dog than to just detect explosives and alert about enemy insurgency.
The relation between a soldier and the dog is as old as the battlefield itself. Romans were the first to use trained dogs in close combats and the inherent desire of the dog to please its master makes the task of training the animal easier.
Here are some lesser known facts about military dogs in India:
- Like the soldiers, they too undergo rigorous training of their level and only some of them make it through while others are rejected.
- The army dogs are no ordinary pets as their history is full of valiant tales. The fact that Remount Veterinary Corps (RVC) is decorated with a Shaurya Chakra and close to 150 commendation cards is reason enough to prove their worth.
- Army has around 1,000 trained dogs in its ranks. The task to maintain the strength is assigned to RVC.
- The army dogs are integral part of search and rescue operations where they have to assist in recovering explosives. Without them, the search operations would be at a stand-still.
- They are taught to respond to military-specific hand gestures and even verbal orders by their handlers.
- While undergoing extensive military training, the dogs are coached in commands that require them to hold their barks in situations of combat, in order not to reveal their position to the enemy.
- An army dog squad had participated in Republic Day parade after 26 years in 2016. The RVC Centre and College in Meerut Cantt had put in great effort to prepare the squad for the march past.
- The most preferred army dogs are the German Shepherd and Labradors because of their natural ability to adapt to any training schedule. They are easy to train and have the special ability to perform the tasks required by the army.
- Their service lasts anywhere from 8-10 years (ambiguous).
- As soon as they retire from service, they are euthanized. The army finds it expensive to maintain their post military care. Risk is also of their knowledge on sensitive locations being revealed to enemies.
Let us all take a moment and acknowledge the contributions of this animal’s speechless service to the nation. Bow-wow!
Ben Hardy is more than just the star drummer of Bohemian Rhapsody. The British Heartthrob has a lot more going for him than what meets the eye.
You may know him as Roger Taylor in Bohemian Rhapsody , Angel from X-Men: Apocalypse , Peter Beale from UK soap opera EastEnders , or even King Arthur in Drunk History (by far my favorite of his roles) – either way, you’ve probably picked up that the talented British actor, Ben Hardy (born Ben Jones), is on his way to something truly huge. Branded by the media and public as a ‘heartthrob’ (though he humbly says the label doesn’t feel like him) here are a few facts to help you get to know the man behind the pretty face:
1. He is not a drummer.
He may have just pulled off an extremely convincing role as drummer legend, Roger Taylor , in Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody , but Ben confesses to PEOPLE “I told him [Director Bryan Singer] I could play the drums — which I could not at the time. I wanted the job really bad. Who doesn’t want to play a rock ‘n’ roll star?”. After which, he promptly “went away in a massive panic” and proceeded to find a cheap drum kit and a local drum teacher, playing 10 hours a day to get up to speed.
Remarkably, he delivered and finally met the rockstar drummer himself at Abbey Road Studios and received a private drum lesson! And don’t worry, Rami Malek (who picked up an Oscar for his Freddie Mercury) managed to hand him his comeuppance for the lie with a brilliantly executed prank .
2. He is not an artist.
In 2018 Ben graced our screens as a kind-hearted and gifted painter, Walter Hartright, in BBC’s The Woman in White (originally an 1859 novel). Sticking to his theme of jumping head-first into roles he’s not quite appropriately-skilled for, he admits , “Walter is a painter, but painting or sketching has never quite been my strong suit, so the prospect of playing an artist was a little daunting!”. Trying to get himself familiarized with the craft for filming, he revealed that he took as many art lessons as possible but … “I was never going to be Picasso in four weeks – not that I could ever be Picasso”, he laughed .
Nevertheless, he pulled it off and the drama gained much attention for its progressiveness and relevance to modern times. “The series has a lot to say about feminism, mental health and the heinous crimes that men commit,” he explained. But the main lesson to be learned from Ben is, “Say yes and figure out the rest later!” – clearly it’s been working wonders for him. The photos can be found on Hollywood Insider’s instagram page in the links here and here.
10 things the KGB didn’t want you to know about Chernobyl
At the end of April, we observed the 35th anniversary of the event that has changed the world, and the consequences of which, unfortunately, will be felt for a very long time. It was the Chernobyl disaster.
If you watched the sensational HBO mini-series, you probably remember scenes of KGB surveillance and attempts by this security service to hide the truth about what happened.
Since recent times, declassified documents of the KGB about the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and the 1986 became available. Eduard Andryushchenko, a Ukrainian historian, journalist and creator of the KGB Files history channel has selected interesting excerpts from some of the KGB files found by his colleagues in the archive of the Security Service of Ukraine.
Most of them were published in the compilation “KGB Chernobyl Dossier”, which came out in Kyiv, 2019. The book is free and available in Ukrainian or in Russian via the link.
“KGB Chernobyl Dossier”. Photo: Ukrainian Institute of National Memory
Eduard Andryushchenko has searched among 200 documents, selected and translated the 10 most instructive excerpts.
1. 7 pages of shortcomings in the construction of the building
The first document is dated late 1978 — it’s more than 7 years before the accident.
The chief security officer of Chernobyl region, Comrade Klochko, informed the head of the KGB directorate of Kyiv and Kyiv oblast, Nikolay Vakulenko, that not everything was going well at the station:
We continue to receive data from agents and proxies, indicating gross violations of technological standards of construction, fire safety and safety engineering of construction and installation works, which lead to accidents.
The seven pages of this document list specific shortcomings in the construction of new plant facilities. They are full of special terminology that is incomprehensible to a person without a technical background. But in general terms, Klochko, referring to agents, reports about weak building structures, poor waterproofing, low-quality concrete, fires in the main building and machine room, accidents with workers.
2. The faulty reactor
This memorandum, also from the pre-disaster period, is dedicated to the type of nuclear reactor used in Chernobyl, a reactor that will later become notorious — RBMK-1000.
…information about the insufficient reliability of RBMK-1000 type of reactors used at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was recieved.
The design flaws of the reactor, as well as individual violations of the rules for its operation, can become the cause of serious accidents.
3. Foreigners were denied departure tickets
This reference was drawn up on 29 April 1986 — 3 days after an accident.
During those days there were about 24,000 foreigners in Ukraine, 6,000 of them were in Kyiv. There were students, tourists, engineers, diplomats among them.
Tourists of the USA group (31 people) … who lived in the Rus Hotel, tried to purchase air tickets to Leningrad for early departure from Kyiv in the morning of April 29, 86, putting pressure on the hotel administration. The measures were taken through the ARO [acting reserve officer] and agents, the situation was normalized, the group went on an excursion.”
4. Foreign journalists were prevented from talking to locals
The Soviet regime called Western media reports of the scale of the catastrophe a lie and an exaggeration. Foreign journalists who arrived in the Ukrainian capital tried to talk with ordinary passers-by but had great chances to meet the Chekists without a uniform who said only the “right” things.
There are 16 foreign correspondents in Kyiv. Attempts of correspondents from England, France and Sweden to collect biased information at the Kyiv railway station were prevented by bringing in members of the KGB special team from neutral positions that locked foreigners into themselves.
5. The May Day parade deliberately held in contaminated Kyiv
One of the tragic pages of the spring of 1986 is the May Day demonstration in Kyiv.
During these days, it was better not to appear on the streets of Kyiv — or even better to leave the city.
May Day demonstration in Kyiv, 1986. Photo: istpravda.com.ua
But the authorities decided that the traditional May Day demonstration in the center of the Ukrainian capital should take place in order to avoid panic among people and not to disclose information about the disaster. It is a well-known fact that the head of the republic Volodymyr Shcherbytsky was against the rally, but his Moscow boss Mikhail Gorbachev ordered it to be held at any cost.
Shcherbytsky was forced to obey, and, in addition, personally came to the demo together with his grandchildren. By the way, the scene with the demonstration, transferred from Kyiv to Minsk, was supposed to enter the HBO mini-series but was deleted.
During the preparation of the May 1 demonstration, school students received training suits in which they rehearsed the program on [April] 27, 28, 29. From May 5 to May 8, these costumes were handed over to schools. Clothing has a fairly high level of background radiation. Schools intend to hand over costumes to the palace of pioneers. Decontamination required.
6. Doctors were forced to conceal diagnoses of radiation sickness
Aspirations of the authorities to maintain secrecy around the disaster at the initial stage even forced doctors to literally lie to their patients.
According to the Shevchenkovsky department of the KGB, the administration of the Kyiv Oblast hospital and 25 [another] hospitals, referring to the instructions of the Ministry of Health of the Ukrainian SSR … indicates a diagnosis of vegetovascular dystonia in the medical records of patients with signs of “radiation sickness.” According to the head physician of the regional hospital, A. Klimenko, such a statement of the question may subsequently lead to confusion when prescribing treatment, diagnosing, and also resolving the issue of disability and establishing a pension.
Ruins of the Chornobyl nuclear power station. Photo: belaruspartisan.org
7. 26 items of classified information on Chernobyl
We have a KGB list of data on the Chernobyl disaster that should have been classified. This list, relevant for the summer of 1986, consists of 26 items.
Among them there are the following:
1. Information disclosing the true causes of the accident at Unit 4 of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.
2. Complete information on the nature of the destruction and the extent of damage to equipment and systems of the unit and nuclear power station.
3. Information on the values and composition of the mixture ejected during the accident.
4. A summary of the radiation situation, containing the characteristics of pollution in the premises of the nuclear power plant and in the 30-kilometre zone.
5. Information on the results of individual measurements of the radiation situation and the isotopic composition of soil and water.
9. Information about new effective means and methods of decontamination.
11. Summary of radioactive contamination of natural environments, food and feed in excess of the maximum permissible concentration.
14. Generalized information on the incidence of all forms of radiation sickness of people exposed during the accident and the elimination of its consequences.
16. Information about the results of treatment with new methods or means of radiation sickness.
18. Summary of environmental assessments of the consequences of the accident.
8. Chornobyl locals were imbibed with vodka
The scene of the mini-series with the soldiers drinking a huge amount of vodka seemed unrealistic and anti-Soviet to some viewers. But what do the KGB documents tell us?
Eduard Andryushchenko found two mentions of vodka in the compilation.
The first concerns not soldiers, but civilians — residents of the Polisky district near Chernobyl.
May 8th at 7 PM a lorry with vodka arrived in the central square of the town [Poliske] and its sale began. A crowd of about 1,000 people formed, a stampede, scandals took place. The lorry was sent outside the city (5 km), which allowed to disperse the crowd and normalize the situation.
A lot of people that haven’t been involved in work, hooligans have accumulated in the city and the district, they take 10-15 bottles of vodka each, increased police work is necessary.
Unfortunately, there is no clarification in the document whose initiative was the sale of vodka.
Another message is devoted to the situation in Ivankivsky district:
On May 9, the vice-chairman of the regional executive committee, Comrade Fursov, banned the sale of vodka, in connection with which on May 10th and 11th groups of military, police officers and evacuated persons (2-3 people each) made scandals in the district consumer union. A police post was put up on the basis of the district consumer union.
It should be noted that this happened during the anti-alcohol campaign of Gorbachev when the sale of alcohol was severely limited.
9. Radioactive food was sold for bribes
A huge amount of food that year was contaminated with radiation. And not all of it was seized and disposed of in time — including due to corruption.
…the source [agent] witnessed a conversation between two sellers of vegetables who sold radishes in this market with an increased level of radioactive contamination, having passed dosimetric control for a bribe.
10. The KGB secretly replaced soil samples probes with non-radioactive ones
The last document is dated 1988. Interest in Chernobyl throughout the planet did not subside. The communist regime, on the basis of the ideas of perestroika, tried to show that it had become more open, and was no longer trying to hide the truth about the disaster. But, as we see from the KGB files, to a large extent these changes were just an illusion.
In October 1987, the correspondent of the French newspaper “L’Humanité”, Jean-Pierre Vaudon, with tricks, took samples of soil and water in the vicinity of the Shelter object and in the town of Pripyat, as well as along the line in the village of Priborsk (50 km from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant). During the measure “D” [secret search and seizure], samples taken by a foreigner were detected and secretly replaced with radioactivity-free clean samples.
Interestingly,“L’Humanité” was a newspaper of the French Communists, which occupied mainly a pro-Soviet position and received regular subsidies from the USSR.
Eduard Andryushchenko found an article by Vaudon published after his visit to Chernobyl in November 1987. The author notes:
“But I am allowed to take samples of soil, water and branches at the foot of the reactor buried under concrete when, everywhere in the world, it is prohibited to do so close to the power stations.”
It remains unclear why Vaudon writes nothing about the results of analysis of these samples, which, as we know, have been replaced.
Watch the entire show of KGB files here:
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10 Facts about the French and Indian War
The French and Indian war is a very important war in early American History, before the United States were formed. The war is often misunderstood, and many people have facts about the war wrong. Here, we take a closer look at what really happened.
The French and Indian War does not mean the French were fighting the Indians. The French and some Native Americans were actually allies against the British Colonies, and Great Britain. Some other Native Americans allied with the British, so there were Indians on both sides. Spain also allied with France, toward the end of the war.
The name French and Indian War is not only deceptive in whom was fighting, but it isn’t even the name the whole world uses. British citizens refer to it as the French and Indian War, but those in other parts of the world call it the Seven Year War, or consider it as a part of the Seven Years’ War and do not give it a separate name. Some French Canadians call it the War of Conquest. The French and Indian War refers specifically to the North American involvement in the war.
The war took place from 1754 until 1763. Great Britain and France officially declared war against one another in 1756, which peaked the conflict. Although the war officially continued until 1763, the fighting in North America came to a stop around 1760. The remainder of the war was, for the most part, between the home countries.
4. Why were they fighting?
Great Britain and France were fighting over North America. They both wanted to dominate the colonies in North America, India, and the Caribbean. The more new land, the better!
5. George Washington fought
The French and Indian War was the first war George Washington fought in. He gained most of his military know how from the war, which lead to him leading the army in the revolution. If he had not fought in the French and Indian War, he probably would not have become president, or even famous.
6. A new way of fighting
Up until this war, the British had always fought in open fields, lined up. They would march and fire toward each other. The Indians taught the French a new way to fight. This involved camouflage and hiding out of sight. This tactic caused many British casualties, as they were not expecting such a maneuver.
7. Leaders and Battles
The first leader of the British Militia was General Braddock. He was killed in the line of duty. When William Pitt became the British secretary of state, more funds were dedicated to the war, allowing the British to gain an edge over France. The Battle of The Plains of Abraham led to the British occupation of Quebec. Next they captured Montreal, and essentially ended the fighting in North America in 1960. After 1960, one fort would be captured by France and later reclaimed by Britain, but overall, the fighting was done.
Fighting mostly ended in North America in 1760, although the war continued on until 1763. Great Britain won the war. The end of the war was also the end of French settlement in to colonies. After the war, Great Britain dominated settlement.
The war ended with the Treaty of Paris on February 10 th , 1763. The treaty gave most land to Britain. They gained Florida from Spain, and all of the French territories east of the Mississippi river, including most of Canada.
10. Continuing Results
Although the British won, the colonies were left with a lot of debt. This debt led to the taxation of the colonies, which eventually lead to the Revolutionary War and the forming of the United States of America.