October has a long history with the military. In 1346 Scottish forces were encouraged to attack the British in order to help France during the Hundred Years’ War. The Second Battle of Kosovo happened in 1448. Nine men were executed in 1660 for having signed the death warrant of Charles I. The men had participated in an attempted coup in 1649 and were sentenced once the monarchy was restored.
In 1777, British General John Burgoyne surrendered to American forces at Saratoga, NY. This was an important win for the fledgling American army and it took only five days for Burgoyne to decide to give in. In 1781, Americans won another decisive victory when General Cornwallis surrendered at the Siege of Yorktown- this was the last major battle of the Revolutionary War.
Famously, the October Manifesto was issued in 1905. This document stated that Russia would institute the Duma- a representative branch of the government. It also promised some basic civil rights. This “democratic” success was short lived.
In 1915, some of the first strategic bombings, ever, occurred when Italian forces targeted Austro-Hungarian railroads and supply stations. In 1917, Britain bombed zeppelin bases in Germany. Zeppelins were used on more than 60 different missions and constituted one of the Germans’ military advantages in World War 1.
During World War 2, many important things happened in October. Einstein fled Germany in 1933. On October 17, 1941, Germans attacked the USS Kearny. In 1938, British officials ceded the Sudetenland to Nazi forces in the Munich Agreement, a powerless agreement that Germany would not invade anyone else and an international committee would decide the fate of other disputed areas. The failed Munich Agreement ruined then Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s career. Throughout October 1941, German soldiers systematically executed male populations in at least three different Greek towns.
Perhaps one of the happiest connections occurred in 1943, when some 600 prisoners in Sobibor concentration camp led a revolt. Some fifty survivors escaped and the camp was forced to close.
So during the month of October, reflect on some of the great military victories but also remember the tragedies. Bellevue University Library has a host of military history resources. Find a sampling of those resources below and here.