News

The Man With the Donkey – John Simpson Kirkpatrick

One of the iconic figures of the Gallipoli campaign was John Simpson Kirkpatrick – a private soldier who landed at ANZAC Cove on April 25th 1915, serving as a stretcher-bearer with the 3rd Field Ambulance. He had deserted from the British merchant navy some five years before and on his Australian Army enlistment forms he…Read more

Marie Antoinette – Let them eat cake

It is one of the most famous quotes of all time – but was it really a quote or in reality a great historical falsehood? Most are familiar with the remark attributed to Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, around 1789, when told that many of her subjects could not afford bread. She supposedly responded “Qu’ils…Read more

Architect Extraordinaire – The Jørn Utzon Story

Without doubt one of the most famous architects of modern times, Jørn Oberg Utzon was born in Copenhagen, Denmark on 9 April 1918, eventually carving out a legendary career in architecture matched by few others. He is best known as the designer of the Sydney Opera House, a building that made him internationally famous and become…Read more

Cleopatra – Queen of the Nile

Cleopatra VII Philopator, (69-30 BC) was the last active ruler of ancient Egypt, just before the country became a province of the Roman Empire One of the most famous women of antiquity, much of Cleopatra’s history is common knowledge, but there are many interesting, and perhaps lesser known facts that helped define her life – and…Read more

Luck of the Irish – Brendan “Paddy” Finucane

The story of Brendan “Paddy” Finucane, the Irish Spitfire ace from the Battle of Britain, makes remarkable reading from many standpoints, not only from his prodigious feats and bravery shown as a pilot, but the strange path he walked to arrive there. He was born in Dublin in 1920 where his father had been active in…Read more

Dentistry in the 1700’s

Going to the dentist is an experience that few people enjoy, although modern practice has resulted in largely painless treatments. But winding back the clock to much older times, dental work, in particular the removal of an aching tooth, was a much dreaded procedure usually resulting in great pain and often septicaemia because of poor…Read more

A Big Man – the Daniel Boone Story

Daniel Boone (1734-1820) was one of the most famous frontiersmen in the history of the United States, helping explore and open up wilderness areas for settlement during the second half of the 18th century. In an amazing life he became a skilled hunter, trapper and pioneer and maintained an extraordinary relationship with Native Americans –…Read more

U.S.S Cyclops Disappears

One of the most enduring and mysterious maritime incidents of modern history is the disappearance of the large American transport and collier ship U.S.S Cyclops that occurred on 5 March 1918. This vessel, weighing in at close to 20,000 tonnes was carrying 306 passengers and crew, together with a large cargo of manganese ore that was to be…Read more

The Big Bang – Halting Nuclear Testing During the Cold War

During the mid 1950’s there was an alarming escalation in the testing of nuclear weapons, mostly by the two superpowers, the USA and the Soviet Union, although the United Kingdom was also involved. This was known as the nuclear arms race and both superpowers were stockpiling nuclear weapons at a frightening rate at the height…Read more

The First Corned Beef Sandwich in Space

A simple corn beef sandwich, reportedly containing no mustard or pickles, played a unique role in the US Space Program, resulting in a high-level investigation by the US House of Representatives and NASA. On impulse, astronaut John Young decided to take a corn beef sandwich into space with him on the Gemini 3 mission of 23 March…Read more

Flight Into Oblivion – The MH 370 Story

One of the great aviation mysteries of modern times is the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH 370), a flight en-route from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to Beijing, China. The aircraft was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew. MH 370, a Boeing 777 operated by Malaysia Airlines, departed Kuala Lumpur on schedule soon after midnight local time…Read more

Man of Glass – The Strange Disorder of Charles VI of France

One of the strangest examples of a mental health disorder is the so called “glass delusion”, where sufferers believe that they are actually made of glass and are in constant danger of shattering if any impact is made with their body. This condition appears to have been far more common in the Middle Ages, although…Read more

The Dangers of Spying – The Mata Hari Story

Mata Hari was the stage name for Dutch woman Margaretha Zelle (1876 -1917) who became a very well known exotic dancer in Europe during the decade leading up to the First World War. She had married a Dutch Army officer when she was only 18 and a son and daughter were born soon after.  The young…Read more

6 Myths of Ancient Rome Debunked

Many of our perceptions of ancient Rome, in particular those surrounding the emperors, have been shaped by legend and exaggeration, notably motion pictures made during the 20th Century. But when we return to actual history, particularly what was recorded in primary sources, a somewhat different picture emerges. Caligula and his horse General An example is…Read more

Killer Code – The Zodiac Murders

The so-called Zodiac Killer was – or indeed is – a murderer who is suspected of at least five killings and could well have committed several more. He operated around Northern California during 1968 and 1969, killing his victims at random, using both gun and knife. His attacks were against total strangers without any direct motivation…Read more

The Powerful Women of Ancient Rome

The position of women in ancient Rome was generally well below that of their male counterparts – with some notable exceptions being the early Queens of Rome. However many other women became famous and influential through their associations with powerful men of the day – associations involving birth into noble families, marriage or love. Not…Read more

Custer’s Lost Treasure

One of the best known events of American history is the Battle of the Little Bighorn, also known as  “Custer’s Last Stand”, when a force of some 2000 Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho Native Americans annihilated the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army. This battle took place on 25 and 26 June 1876 in an area of rolling…Read more

A Treaty with the Maori – Waitangi Day

The 6 February is a highly significant date in New Zealand history  – Waitangi Day – so named after the historic Treaty of Waitangi that was signed on this day in 1840. This event took place in British resident James Busby’s House at Waitangi in the Bay of Islands. The Treaty is widely recognised as New…Read more

Victoria Burning – The Black Saturday Fires of February 2009

On Saturday 7th February 2009 the deadliest bushfires in the history of Australia cut a blazing swathe of destruction across the State of Victoria. 173 people lost their lives, over 2000 homes were razed and people from all over Australia were stunned by the enormity of the disaster. The summer of 2008/2009 began on an optimistic note with good…Read more

Over the Edge – The Amazing Denniston Incline

Denniston is a small settlement perched high on a rocky plateau on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Large deposits of coal were discovered there in the early 1870’s and the Denniston mines, in operation from 1879 to 1967, turned out to be the most productive coalfields in New Zealand. Operated by the Westport…Read more