David Crane

Training Corps from Lahore, march with rifles during a training exercise (Photo: Getty)

The forgotten army: abandoned by the British to the horrors of Partition

It is often said that cricket was ‘a game invented by the English and played by Indians’, and every so…

Isaak Israelevich Brodsky’s depiction of the execution of the ‘26 Martyrs’, painted in 1925 and already the stuff of Soviet legend

Murder in the dunes: the ‘26 Martyrs’ of Baku and the making of a Soviet legend

In the pre-dawn hours of 20 September 1918, a train, its headlamp off, heading eastwards out of Kransnovodsk on the…

English knight and Earl of Pembroke, William Marshall Photo: Getty

William Marshal: kingmaker — or just king of the joust?

In February 1861 a 21-year-old French medievalist called Paul Meyer walked into Sotheby’s auction house near Covent Garden. He had…

Burying the dead of Waterloo

Narrative history at its best – and bloodiest

Anyone thinking of bringing out a book on Waterloo at the moment must be very confident, very brave or just…

What, in the end, was it all for? In a French caricature of 1814, Napoleon precariously spans Madrid and Moscow and begins to topple. Fontainebleau — scene of his abdication — is depicted centre-stage

If you want to admire Napoleon, it helps not to have met Gaddafi

Napoleon’s exploits may have captured the world’s imagination, but the great European drama, played out over 20 years, was ultimately tawdry and pointless, says David Crane

‘The Final Advance of the Guard’ by Nicolas Toussaint Charlet

An old soldier sees through the smoke of Waterloo

David Crane on an old soldier’s account of a 200-year-old battle that will never fade away

Patrick Leigh Fermor as a major in the parachute regiment, October 1945

Patrick Leigh Fermor and the long, daft tradition of Brits trying to save Greece

Twenty-odd years ago, while on holiday in the deep Mani at the foot of the Peloponnese, I got into conversation…

Three of the best: Edward Thomas (left), Wilfred Owen (above right) and Edmund Blunden

Look again – the first world war poets weren't pacifists

The patriotism of the Great War’s finest poets was neither narrow nor triumphalist but reflected an intense devotion to an endangered country and to a way of life worth dying for, says David Crane

‘There was no better way’: Ancient Celts or Gauls go into battle against the massed ranks of Rome, and are slaughtered for the good of posterity

War is good for us

The argument that mankind’s innate violence can only be contained by force of arms may make for a neat paradox, but it fails to convince David Crane

Danish Jews escaping the Nazi's across the Oresound to neighbouring Sweden Photo: Getty

How Denmark’s Jews escaped the Nazis

Of all the statistics generated by the Holocaust, perhaps some of the most disturbing in the questions they give rise…

The Duke of Wellington 
at the Battle of Salamanca, 
22 July 1812

How we beat Napoleon

We are accustomed to the thrill and glamour of the grands tableaux, but a nuts-and-bolts study of Napoleonic warfare makes for equally gripping reading, says David Crane

The British experience at Mons was just one of many examples of defeat dressed up as moral victory, according to Max Hastings

Why does Max Hastings have such a hatred for the British military?

David Crane is taken aback by the particular contempt Max Hastings appears to reserve for the British at the outbreak of the first world war

Portrait of Byron in Greek national dress by Thomas Phillips

Byron’s War, by Roderick Beaton - review

Although Lord Byron is hailed as a national hero in Greece, his legacy has been largely destructive, says David Crane

The Young Titan, by Michael Shelden; Churchill’s First War, by Con Coughlin - review

One evening in 1906, shortly after the election that brought Campbell-Bannerman’s Liberals into power, an understandably nervous Eddie Marsh, a…

Last tango in Paris. Albert Guillaume captures the relaxed mood of Europe in 1913

'1913: The World Beforethe Great War', by Charles Emmerson

On the eve of the Great War, the future was anyone’s guess, says David Crane


'Deserter: The Last Untold Story of the Second World War', by Charles Glass - review

A strong stomach is needed when it comes to the fate of second-world-war deserters, warns David Crane

Carve their names with pride

On a ridge high above the River Ancre, four miles to the north of the town of Albert, stands the…


Another doomed youth

It is very possible that unless you are a Bulgarian or a Wykehamist or an SOE buff or ideally all…

Against all odds

For more than 40 years now Clive Brittain has enjoyed a unique position in British racing. There are plenty of…


If only …

In the early summer of 1910, a naval officer, bound for the Antarctic, paid a visit to the office of…


Titanic mistakes

David Crane on 100 years of controversy and recrimination since the great ship went down

Ugly old Europe

There are moments and places in history that one would have paid good money to avoid, and wartime Lisbon was…


An intemperate zone

David Crane finds the English gentry, through the ages, litigious and harassed, pitched awkwardly between greatness and want


What was it like at the time?

At midday on Thursday, 8 June 1933 — Erik Larson is very keen on his times — the newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt had a call put through to the history department at the University of Chicago.

The price of victory

In the patriotic mythology of British arms 1759 may be the one true annus mirabilis, the ‘year of victories’, the year of Minden, Quebec and Quiberon Bay, but has there ever been a year comparable to 1918? In that year 20,000 British soldiers surrendered on a single day, 31 March, and yet within six months Britain and her allies had recaptured all the territory lost since 1914, destroyed Austrian and Bulgarian resistance in Italy and Macedonia, encircled a Turkish army in Palestine, mastered the submarine menace at sea, and fought the German army to the brink of disintegration and the German empire to the point of revolt.