While the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War in August 2014 is set to be one of 2014’s big stories, there are a number of other significant military anniversaries coming up this year. Please note that the listing in this blog is not remotely comprehensive – do feel free to post comments about any military anniversaries I haven’t mentioned.
September will see the 75th anniversary of the start of the Second World War, this year providing a stark reminder that that this war broke out only 25 years after WW1.
6th June is the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, the allied invasion of north-west Europe. While no New Zealand units landed on D-Day, some New Zealand squadrons in the Royal Air Force took part in aerial support and two New Zealand Merchant Navy vessels ferried personnel and equipment across the English Channel.
September sees the 70th anniversary of the disastrous airborne landings at Arnhem.
It is also 70 years since the battles of Kohima and Imphal, two crucial engagements in the Far East campaign.
New Zealand troops were heavily involved in fighting at Monte Cassino in Italy in the first half of 1944.
Looking back further 2014 is 200 years since the end of the Peninsular War (1807-1814). This phase of the Napoleonic Wars saw Arthur Wellesley, later the Duke of Wellington, leading the campaign to chase the French out of Portugal and Spain. The Peninsula War was memorably brought to life in Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series, later turned into a television show starring Sean Bean. Following the end of the war Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba. However, the next year he escaped, retook France and lost the Battle of Waterloo – which is going to be the big anniversary for 18 June 2015.
Even further back in 1714 the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714) finally came to an end. Most famous for the Battle of Blenheim (1704) and the generalship of the Duke of Marlborough (of the same family as Winston Churchill and Diana, Princess of Wales) this war saw much of Europe at odds with France over who should succeed to the throne of Spain.
What other anniversaries are happening in 2014?