Archive for October, 2017

Friday 20th October 2017

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on October 20, 2017 by bishshat

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Henry Barrett, in 1872, invented this particular type of screw stopper – and they were subsequently used then for well over 100 years until the 1970s. Henry actually patented the design in the early 1880s, and he was also the person who designed the internal screw thread for the interior of the bottle neck.
The stoppers themselves are made from hard, non-elastic, India rubber, also known as vulcanite. The process of “vulcanisation” involved heating rubber to 115 degrees Celsius with sulphur and also linseed oil – thereby converting it into a more durable material. The stoppers are also sometimes described as being made from ebonite, which in fact was the brand name for the vulcanised rubber patented by Charles Goodyear in 1846.

During the war, with rubber in short supply, it is possible that an inferior material was used for a while. Also, the scooped out stopper means that less material was used. The stoppers made in this fashion during the war, were stamped with “war grade”.

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Thursday 19th October 2017

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on October 19, 2017 by bishshat

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Tuesday 17th October 2017

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on October 17, 2017 by bishshat

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Madrid 1 Spurs 1

Tottenham are top of Champions League Group H after Raphael Varane’s own goal earned them an impressive 1-1 draw at holders Real Madrid.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side have taken a significant stride towards reaching the last 16 for the first time in six seasons thanks to a spirited display in which Spurs had to survive sustained spells of pressure but were only breached by Cristiano Ronaldo’s 43rd-minute equaliser from the penalty spot.

Hugo Lloris made a stunning save from Karim Benzema early in the second half before Harry Kane had a glorious chance to win it but he was denied by an equally remarkable stop from Keylor Navas. The two sides reconvene at Wembley in a fortnight’s time with Spurs holding a slender advantage due to scoring here – effectively an away goal in their head-to-head meetings, separating the two sides otherwise deadlocked on points and goal difference.
Dele Alli’s suspension forced Pochettino into a reshuffle but he still sprang a surprise in his starting line-up.

Within five minutes, the home side could have been ahead. Marcelo looped a ball to the back post which Jan Vertonghen allowed to drop. Achraf Hakimi collected and crossed for Ronaldo, who rose above Alderweireld to plant a header against Lloris’ left-hand upright. arim Benzema wasted the rebound, driving wide from inside the box, but the warning shots had been fired.

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Ronaldo drilled an effort just wide from the edge of the box as Real turned up the pressure but just as it appeared Spurs would wilt, they suddenly began to cause problems. ane forced Navas into a smart save as he met Eriksen’s 19th-minute corner with a firm header before the striker left Marcelo and Sergio Ramos for dead with sublime trickery and crossed dangerously for Llorente.

Spurs had begun to establish themselves, however, and they built on that momentum to take the lead midway through the half. Serge Aurier crossed from the right and Varane, under pressure from kane, turned the ball into his own net.
The 3,917 travelling fans erupted in unbridled joy. Real responded with intent – with Benzema guilty of another bad miss – but forced their way level just before the interval.

Aurier gave the ball away cheaply and then compounded the error by making a rash tackle on Toni Kroos in the box. Contact was minimal but sufficient for Marciniak to award a spot-kick. onaldo duly despatched the opportunity – his 110th Champions League goal from 143 appearances – and Real went into the interval with their tails up.

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They should have gone in front nine minutes after the restart. Casemiro crossed from the right and found Benzema, unmarked, three yards out. Lloris did brilliantly to spread himself and keep the header out but Benzema simply had to score.

Lloris had to be alert again a few minutes later to turn another fierce Ronaldo effort over the bar. It briefly threatened to turn into a personal duel as Ronaldo rode beat three Spurs players before unleashing another strike, this time left-footed from long range, which Lloris beat away after flinging to his left.

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Yet Lloris would not have a monopoly on outstanding goalkeeping here. On an increasingly rare foray forward, Eriksen fed Llorente who in turn released Kane with a ball threaded through the heart of Real’s defence.

Kane opened his body up and sent it on its way into the far corner but Navas somehow got his fingertips to it to send the ball behind for a corner. Out of nowhere, Spurs were a threat again. Eriksen found space and tried to beat Navas at his near post but was denied. Pochettino replaced Llorente with Danny Rose – his first Spurs appearance since January 31 – for the final 10 minutes before introducing Heung-Min Son for Sissoko but both sides had to settle for a point. Spurs were unequivocally the happier.

Monday 16th October 2017

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on October 16, 2017 by bishshat

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The sky above Britain turned yellow today after a red sun was created by fatal Hurricane Ophelia. The gales pulled Saharan dust north to the UK to create a blanket of orange cloud, with the deadly storms also bringing powerful 80mph winds

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Sunday 15th October 2017

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on October 15, 2017 by bishshat

For next Sunday 22nd I was going to dress up as Mr Wickham in Pride and Prejudice.

After studying the roll I decided I was way to old for the part so Clifford and myself will dress as two old reprobates who are still in the militia. Peachy and Danny.. I am really glad I made the right choice as Ryan came through the door and he was perfect for Mr Wickham.

Redcoats were vilified by Mary Wollstonecraft in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), in which she warned about the dangerous attraction of military men for young women: “Nothing can be so prejudicial to the morals of the inhabitants of country towns as the occasional residence of a set of idle superficial young men, whose only occupation is gallantry.” Austen had a more nuanced view of the militia. Wickham embodies what Wollstonecraft is talking about but other soldier characters in Pride and Prejudice – notably Colonel Forster – have high moral standards and generous hearts.

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The militia offers social mobility for poor and immoral men to ascend in society and marry beyond their class, destabilizing the traditional English marriage system among aristocrats.

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The military, the armed forces of a country, is not usually thought of as material because of its human constituents. However, in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, a novel set in a time period when women were considered property and marriage an economic convention, one may very well see how the militia assumes a role as part of the material culture of the time.

The militia is comprised of men, quite often the younger sons of the gentry, and rich, well-bred men were so scarce at the time that they were sought after as husbands by nearly every family with a daughter to marry off. Though not all of the officers were rich or well-bred, enough were to ensure that the officers thus appear as goods more than people at times, and are treated as such by women such as Lydia and Kitty. Of Lydia, Elizabeth muses, “Sometimes one officer, sometimes another had been her favourite, as their attentions raised them in her opinion. Her affections had been continually fluctuating, but never without an object”. Austen’s reluctance to designate the officers by individual names, or Elizabeth’s failure to remember them, dehumanizes them and implies that they are indistinguishable. The fact that they are “objects” of Lydia’s affections instead of subjects who act for themselves in this description suggests that they are essentially no more human than the carriages or playing cards of the time.

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Pride and Prejudice takes place in Regency England during the French Revolution, which began in 1789. To combat the threat of Napoleon’s conquest of Europe, militia forces were moved across the countryside to lie in wait of an attack at camps, where they were involved in training sessions. Landowning aristocrats generally led the militia of their locality, although the soldiers of each regiment came from various places. Though the militia was made up of volunteers, a commission was needed to enroll. With the Militia Act of 1757, which created a more professional force with proper uniforms and better weapons, the militia became seen as a more respectable occupation, especially for younger sons who would not inherit land.

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Immorality and Social Mobility in the Militia

Reading Pride and Prejudice, one may notice that there is a conspicuous lack of war in the text despite the historical context of the Napoleonic Wars and the near-constant presence of the militia. The soldiers Austen depicts are more likely to play card games or dance rather than tell tales of bloodshed, partly because the militia received few chances to fight. The aristocrats that led each local militia tended to be corrupt as well, handing out promotions in exchange for money or sexual bribes. Lydia’s fantasies exemplify the moral laxity of the militia; she imagines “the streets of that gay bathing place covered with officers… She saw all the glories of the camp; its tents stretched forth in beauteous uniformity of lines, crowded with the young and the gay, and dazzling with scarlet; and to complete the view, she saw herself seated beneath a tent, tenderly flirting with at least six officers at once”. Lydia’s description reveals the militia’s superficial attractions, one of which is novelty–the militia are still a new enough presence in England to appear “young and gay” and “dazzling” in their uniforms rather than war-weary. Undercurrents of sexuality run through Lydia’s fantasy in her image of “herself seated… tenderly flirting with at least six officers at once.” Although Lydia’s vision seems romantic enough, sexual deviance was a prominent spectacle of military life. Soldiers invited their mistresses into their tents at night and several prominent aristocrats such as the Duke of York were involved in highly publicized sex scandals.

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Added to the immorality that a military life offered was the anonymity and respectable status, which allowed men to climb social ranks easily. Due to the constant movement of the militia across the country, the new regimentals a man wore, and his new title as an officer, he could escape the hold of his past. Tim Fulford explores this idea in his essay “Sighing for a Soldier,” writing that “[a soldier’s] dress and rank might well have been earned not by experience on the battlefield or parade ground but by influence, and the shiny uniforms masked a variety of characters and origins”. The idea that “influence” can earn a man status is not new to England, a country in which the aristocracy thrive off of patronage, and in the militia “influence” took the form of underhanded bribes and secret deals among officers. “[S]hiny uniforms” and the opulence and novelty of militia camps mostly covered up this corruption from the public; however, corruption on such large a scale could never be wholly hidden.

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Nowhere are the effects of this social mobility more clearly seen than in the character of George Wickham. Charming and handsome, Wickham exudes virtue and fine manners, but these pretended traits belie his true moral deviance. The anonymity and glamor surrounding the militia allows Wickham to project whatever persona he chooses, as no others in the army know of his past and regular citizens are inclined to think well of soldiers. When Elizabeth and her family attempt to research his past, they discover that “[i]t was not known that Wickham had a single relation with whom he kept up any connection, and it was certain that he had no near one living. His former acquaintance had been numerous; but since he had been in the militia, it did not appear that he was on terms of particular friendship with any of them” Through the militia, Wickham has escaped his “former acquaintances” and been given a chance to start anew with a raised social rank.

In portraying the militia as corrupt and superficial, Austen suggests that the social status granted to these men poses a threat to the existing inter-aristocracy marriage system. Ideally in this system the rich would marry the rich and continue to preserve and expand their wealth; however, the upper class will always be beset by social climbers from the middle and lower classes seeking to increase their meager fortunes. The militia provides an opportunity for immoral and perhaps even poor men to elevate their statuses enough to marry into wealth if they have sufficient charm and cunning. Wickham’s marriage to Lydia is the prime example of this corruption of the marriage system. After he elopes with her, the Bennet family learns that “in the wretched state of his own finances, there was a very powerful motive for secrecy … for it had just transpired that he had left gaming debts behind him to a very considerable amount… He owed a good deal in the town, but his debts of honour were still more formidable”. Wickham hides the “wretched state of his own finances” under a veneer of sociability, and once the debts begin to erode his reputation, he tries to escape them by running away with Lydia. Though her dowry is not enough to substantially increase Wickham’s fortune, by marrying her he can alleviate his own debts by imposing them on the Bennets. Thus, a man with little money marries a woman with more, impoverishing her family with his own lack of fortune.

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The fluctuations in wealth that occur within and between English families show the fundamental instability of the ‘marriage economy.’ The intermarriage of rich and poor, sometimes caused by the false reputations conveyed by the militia, disrupted its sanctity and may have eventually led to its collapse.

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The Historical Context of Pride and Prejudice

War with France

Stretching over twenty-two years, Britain’s war with France affected every level of British society. While an estimated quarter of a million men were serving in the regular army, a militia of officers and volunteers in the southeast coast of England (the region where Austen was from) mobilized for what was thought to be an impending invasion by Napoleon. Austen had a close connection to the militia, as her brother Henry joined the Oxfordshire militia in 1793. Though the rural countryside in which Austen’s novels are set seems at a far remove from the tumultuousness of the period, the world of Pride and Prejudice bears the traces of turmoil abroad. As Gillian Russell writes, “The hum of wartime, if not the blast or cry of battle, pervades [Austen’s] fiction.” The presence of the troops at Brighton and militia officers like Wickham reflect wider concerns about the place of the military in English civil society.

Over the Hills and Far Away

“Over the Hills and Far Away” is a traditional British song, dating back to at least the late 17th century. George Farquhar’s 1706 play The Recruiting Officer. A version also appears in John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera of 1728.
Farquhar’s version refers to fleeing overseas to join the army.

Here’s forty shillings on the drum
For those who volunteer to come,
To ‘list and fight the foe today
Over the Hills and far away

O’er the hills and o’er the main
Through Flanders, Portugal and Spain
King George commands and we obey
Over the hills and far away
When duty calls me I must go
To stand and face another foe
But part of me will always stray
Over the hills and far away

If I should fall to rise no more
As many comrades did before
Then ask the fifes and drums to play
Over the hills and far away

Then fall in lads behind the drum
With colours blazing like the sun
Along the road to come what may
Over the hills and far away

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Danny Dravot and Peachy Carnehan are both in their fifties.

They joined the regular army at 14 or 15 and have been fighting mostly in Europe but did spend time in India.
They have been together ever since taking the shilling.
They are poorly educated but have made there way up through the ranks by being in the right place at the right time.

Danny and Peachy have been in too many scrapes to recant here but their rise through the ranks has been their fortune in the field of battle.

They had been seconded to the 88th Regiment of Foot (Connaught Rangers) in 1807 simply because Danny was overheard by Lieutenant-Colonel John Wallace in a tavern in Portsmouth telling jokes about Englishmen Irishmen and Scotsman in a brilliant Irish accent. He immediately had Danny restrained and along with Peachy who refused to leave his friends side were both shipped off to the barracks.

An Englishman, a Scotsman and an Irishman are the only survivors in a ship wreck.
Though the ordeal has bonded them like brothers they’re all now dying of thirst. It looks like it’s all over until they find a magic lamp!
“I’ll give each of you two wishes,” says the genie.
The Englishman knows exactly what he wants. “I wish for a pint of ice cold lager and to be back home in Aylesbury where I belong!”
“Done!” Bellows the genie, and the last thing the Scot and the Paddy see is the Englishman taking a big swig of Kronenbourg as he disappears.
“Alright, who’s next?”
“Me!” Shouts the Scot. “I want a bottle of Irn Bru and to be back home with me wife and bairn in Dundee.”
The genie waves his hand and the Scot fades from existence greedily quaffing his vile orange piss.
“And yourself?” Asks the genie of the Irishman. Paddy thinks for a moment.
“How about a big bottle of whiskey?” The bottle appears before him almost instantaneously.
“And your second wish?”
“Ah Jaysis? It’s no good without company. I want me two best friends back to enjoy it with me!”

At the Battle of Barrosa 5 March 1811 Danny and Peachy were both Sergeants in the 88th regiment(“the Devil’s Own”) under Major-General Packenham and were part of in an unsuccessful manoeuvre to break the siege of Cádiz.
During the battle, a single British division defeated two French divisions.

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The first French eagle to be captured by the British was taken by the 87th (Royal Irish Fusiliers) Regiment of Foot from the French 8th Line The 88th had become mixed up in the mêlée The and together they aided Ensign Edward Keogh grab the eagle standard, although as his hand grasped it, he was immediately shot through the heart and killed.
He was followed by Sergeant Patrick Masterson, who grabbed the eagle from the French ensign who carried it, reputedly with the cry “By Jaysus, boys, I have the cuckoo”.
But both Danny and Peachy had a part in handing the eagle to Masterson as he had dropped it in his excitement. Thus they were both promoted to Lieutenant in the field.

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From the 16th March – 6th April 1812 they were at the Siege of Badajoz and headed through a major breach in the walls with the Forlorn Hope.

On the 16th April 1812 they are carrying a ladder which they hope to use for firewood when Lieutenant James McPherson grabs them and orders them to lift the said ladder. The ladder is too short! Undaunted he cries to Danny and Peachy to push harder! They  lift the base of the ladder closer to the wall and this rapid, vertical movement suddenly propels Lieutenant James McPherson him to a height several feet above the defensive wall. The ladder breaks and McPherson falls on top of Peachy and Danny.  At the foot of the wall they are revived with a cups of coco from friend A.A. General Hercules Packenham, who was directly behind him on the ladder when it broke. Though winded by the shot he rises to his feet.  More ladders are brought and together they all climb up into and through the breach. Atop the abandoned tower of Santa Maria before him still flies the French flag McPherson along with Danny and Peachy mount the spiral stairway to the top turret and pulls down the enemy flag. For want of a substitute McPherson takes of his red jacket and flies it from the pole, signifying that the castle has fallen. ( The jacket actually belonged to Danny and they spent the next two hours waiting at the foot of the tower to retrieve it. In the rest of the town the fighting continued. Badajoz is one of the bloodiest and violent sieges of the Peninsula War.

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At the battle of Salamanca on 22nd July 1812 whilst resting below a small crested incline a Jingling Johnny belonging to the French fell cascading down the hill. Danny and Peachy managed to prevent its rolling any further and took the credit in resting it from the French. They were approached on after the battle both singing with the bells tinkling and persuaded by Lieutenant-Colonel John Wallace to hand over their booty for a promotion to Captain.

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They continued having many risky adventures until now October 1813 finds them at Compton Verney with Colonel Forsters Militia regiment waiting for discharge papers. They are both at a loss of what to do now their time in the army is coming to a close.

Vitoria

At the last battle Danny and Peachy  took part in in Portugal before setting sail to Britain from San Sebastián was the battle of Vitoria Wellingtons plan was to split his army into four attacking “columns”, attacking the French defensive position from south, west and north while the last column cut down across the French rear. Coming up the Burgos road, Hill sent Morillo’s Division to the right on a climb up the Heights of La Puebla. Stewart’s 2nd Division began deploying to the left in the narrow plain just south of the river. Seeing these moves, Gazan sent Maransin forward to drive Morillo off the heights. Hill moved Col. Henry Cadogan’s brigade of the 2nd Division to assist Morillo. Gazan responded by committing Villatte’s reserve division to the battle on the heights.

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Wellington thrust James Kempt’s brigade of the Light Division across the Zadorra at the hairpin. At the same time, Stewart took Subijana and was counterattacked by two of Gazan’s divisions. On the heights, Cadogan was killed, but the Anglo-Spanish force managed to hang on to its foothold. Wellington suspended his attacks to allow Graham’s column time to make an impression and a lull descended on the battlefield.

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With some help from Kempt’s brigade, Picton’s 3rd Division along with Danny and Peachy shouted at them “come on you rascals”!  and the 88th Regiment of Foot (Connaught Rangers) crossed to the south side of the river. According to Picton, the enemy responded by pummelling the 3rd with 40 to 50 cannon and a counter-attack on their right flank, still open because they had captured the bridge so quickly, causing the 3rd to lose 1,800 men (over one third of all Allied losses at the battle) and They held their ground.

French morale collapsed and the soldiers of Gazan and d’Erlon fled from the field. Artillerists left their guns behind as they fled on the trace horses. Soon the road was jammed with a mass of wagons and carriages. The efforts of Reille’s two divisions, holding off Graham, allowed tens of thousands of French troops to escape by the Salvatierra road. This was the boys last action.

Below is a list of their battles.

1793

Between 29 August – 19 December 1793 they were in action at the Siege of Toulon a military siege of Republican forces over a Royalist rebellion in the southern French city of Toulon. It is also known as the Fall of Toulon.

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1798

Saw them together in Ireland where side by side they were at the Battle of Vinegar Hill during the Irish Rebellion on 21 June 1798 when over 13,000 British soldiers launched an attack on Vinegar Hill outside Enniscorthy, County Wexford, the largest camp and headquarters of the Wexford United Irish rebels. It marked a turning point in the rebellion, as it was the last attempt by the rebels to hold and defend ground against the British military. The battle was actually fought in two locations: on Vinegar Hill itself and in the streets of nearby Enniscorthy.

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1803

On 23 September 1803 near Assaye in western India they fought in Battle of Assaye which was a major battle of the Second Anglo-Maratha War fought between the Maratha Empire and the British East India Company.

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They were both with Wellesley in his victory at Assaye, this was preceded by the capture of Ahmednagar and followed by victories at Argaon and Gawilghur, resulting the defeat of Scindia and Berar’s armies in the Deccan. Wellesley’s progress in the Deccan was matched by Lieutenant General Gerard Lake’s successful campaigns in Northern India and led to the British becoming the dominant power in the heartlands of India.

1808

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They crossed over with Wellesley into Portugal on the campaign to rid Europe of the French.
They were present at the Battle of Roliça on17 August 1808 where an Anglo-Portuguese army under Sir Arthur Wellesley defeated an outnumbered French army under General Henri Delaborde, near the village of Roliça in Portugal. The French retired in good order. Formerly spelled Roleia in English, it was the first battle fought by the British army during the Peninsular War.

Battle of Vimeiro 21 August 1808 the British under General Arthur Wellesley defeated the French under Major-General Jean-Andoche Junot near the village of Vimeiro near Lisbon, Portugal during the Peninsular War. This battle put an end to the first French invasion of Portugal.

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1809

Battle of Corunna took place on 16 January 1809, when a French corps under Marshal of the Empire Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult attacked a British army under Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore. The battle took place amidst the Peninsular War, which was a part of the wider Napoleonic Wars. It was a result of a French campaign, led by Napoleon, which had defeated the Spanish armies and caused the British army to withdraw to the coast following an unsuccessful attempt by Moore to attack Soult’s corps and divert the French army.

Doggedly pursued by the French under Soult, the British made a retreat across northern Spain while their rearguard fought off repeated French attacks. Both armies suffered extremely from the harsh winter conditions. Much of the British army, excluding the elite Light Brigade under Robert Craufurd, suffered from a loss of order and discipline during the retreat. When the British eventually reached the port of Corunna on the northern coast of Galicia in Spain, a few days ahead of the French, they found their transport ships had not arrived. The fleet arrived after a couple of days and the British were in the midst of embarking when the French forces reached them. They forced the British to fight another battle before being able to depart for England.

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In the resulting action, the British repulsed the French assault and completed their embarkation. They saved their army from destruction. But the port cities of Corunna and Ferrol, as well as northern Spain, were captured and occupied by the French. During the battle, Sir John Moore, the British commander, was mortally wounded, dying after learning that his men had repulsed the French attacks.

Death of Sir John Moore, La Coruna, Spain, 17th January 1809 (1815).

Battle of Grijó
10–11 May 1809 was a battle that ended in victory for the Anglo-Portuguese Army commanded by Sir Arthur Wellesley over the French army commanded by Marshal Nicolas Soult during the second French invasion of Portugal in the Peninsular War. The next day, Wellesley drove Soult from Porto in the Second Battle of Porto.

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Battle of Talavera
27–28 July 1809 was fought just outside the town of Talavera de la Reina, Spain some 120 kilometres (75 mi) southwest of Madrid, during the Peninsular War. At Talavera an Anglo-Spanish army under Sir Arthur Wellesley combined with a Spanish army under General Cuesta in operations against French-occupied Madrid. The French army withdrew at night after several of its attacks had been repulsed.

After Marshal Soult’s French army had retreated from Portugal, General Wellesley’s 20,000 British troops advanced into Spain to join 33,000 Spanish troops under General Cuesta. They marched up the Tagus valley to Talavera, some 120 kilometres (75 mi) southwest of Madrid. There they encountered 46,000 French under Marshal Claude Victor and Major-General Horace Sebastiani, with the French king of Spain, Joseph Bonaparte in nominal command.

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The French crossed the Alberche in the middle of the afternoon on 27 July. A couple of hours later, the French attacked the right of the Spaniards and the British left. A strategic hill was taken and lost, until, finally, the British held it firmly. At daybreak on 28 July, the French attacked the British left again to retake the hill and were repulsed when the 29th Foot and 48th Foot who had been lying behind the crest stood up and carried out a bayonet charge. A French cannonade lasted until noon when a negotiated armistice of two hours began. Troops from both sides took drinks at the River Portina exchanging insults and bits of food and even souvenirs then they went back to their own lines and began killing each other again

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That afternoon, a heavy exchange of cannon fire started ahead of various infantry and cavalry skirmishes. Early in the evening, a major engagement resulted in the French being held off. A cannon duel continued until dark. At daylight, the British and Spanish discovered that the bulk of the French force had retired, leaving their wounded and two brigades of artillery in the field. Wellesley was ennobled as Viscount Wellington of Talavera and of Wellington for the action.

1810

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The Combat of the Côa

The Combat of the Côa July 24, 1810 was a skirmish that occurred during the Peninsular War period of the Napoleonic Wars. It took place in the valley of the Côa River and it was the first significant battle for the new army of 65,000 men controlled by Marshal André Masséna, as the French prepared for their third invasion of Portugal.

As the British-Portuguese forces were outnumbered here, on July 22, General Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington sent Brigadier-General Robert Craufurd a letter, saying that he (Wellington) was “not desirous of engaging in an affair beyond the Coa.” On July 24, Craufurd’s Light Division, with 4,200 infantry, 800 cavalry, and six guns, was surprised by the sight of 20,000 troops under Marshal Michel Ney. Rather than retreat and cross the river as ordered by Wellington, Craufurd chose to engage the French, narrowly avoiding disaster.

The French objective was to force the Light Division back across the Côa in order to besiege Almeida. They succeeded after hard fighting, but then launched a costly assault across the Côa, suffering heavy casualties. Craufurd committed a serious tactical error by choosing to fight with an unfordable river at his back while badly outnumbered. As such, in the early hours of 24 July, after a night of torrential rain, Ney sent forth Ferey and Loison’s divisions to engage the allies.

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A company of the 95th Rifles came under fire from French artillery as they moved in to attack. French voltiguers of the 32nd then came up and took the fight to the bayonet, and the heavily outnumbered British broke and fled. The guns of Almeida opened fire on the 95th Rifles, mistaking them for French because of their dark uniforms. They then fell under attack by the French 3rd Hussars, supported by two companies of dragoons. British troops of the 43rd came to assist them. Though fierce fighting broke out, the French advance was halted. Despite orders from Wellington to fall back across the river Côa, Craufurd decided to hold his ground as more French arrived and began to deploy in formation.

The 15th Chasseurs a Cheval then charged to the south to outflank the British 52nd division, while Ferey’s French brigade attacked the British positioned near a windmill positioned at the British right, advancing through rough-terrain while Almeida’s guns were firing upon them. The French infantry charged the British with fixed bayonet and, under mounting pressure, the allies began to fall back, isolating themselves from the 43rd division under attack by the 15th Chasseurs. The 3rd Hussars came into the fight and Craufurd’s men took heavy casualties. All this time, while Ney’s assaults were being slowed by awful terrain, Almeida was slowly being isolated from the allied force.

Craufurd, realising his situation that the French were threatening his only escape (the bridge crossing the river Côa), ordered a withdrawal across the river Côa, with the British 52nd and 43rd foot as well as the 95th rifles protecting their retreat. For the British, matters only became worse. A supply wagon turned over and caused a traffic jam in the retreat across the bridge. The French were gradually driving back the British divisions protecting the withdrawal.

Craufurd then ordered these troops to fall back and take position the heights overlooking the bridge and hold that position until the retreat had been made. The French took the heights but in a move that took the Ney’s forces completely by surprise the allies made an assault and held their opponents at bay long enough for the main body of the British-Portuguese to make it across to the other side of the river Côa.

With the French driving the Light Division back, Ney then attempted attacking across the Côa. In the first attempt, grenadiers of the 66th surged towards the bridge under a hail of musketry and cannon fire, failing to get more than halfway across the bridge. The second more strongly-pressed offensive was made by the Elite Chasseurs de la Siège light infantry. Oman writes that they had “flung themselves at the bridge, and pushed on till it was absolutely blocked by the bodies of the killed and the wounded, and till they themselves had been almost literally exterminated, for out of a battalion of little more than 300 men 90 were killed and 147 wounded in less than ten minutes.” The final attack was once more led by the 66th which was beaten off with little difficulty.

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The battle ended with the French having, despite the setback at the bridge, driven the Light Division from the field. Having been beaten back and only narrowly escaped a total rout, Crauford’s forces withdrew at midnight, leaving Masséna free rein to lay siege to Almeida. Napier and Oman stated that the British Light Division held off the entire 20 000 troops under Ney. However, it was only Ferey and Loison’s division that actually engaged the Light Division. French forces engaged were around 6,000 pitched against 4,000 British-Portuguese.

Casualties are hard to determine. Both the French and the British-Portuguese were biased. Imperial propaganda reported allied casualties to be at 1,200, while many British sources claimed the loss of 36 killed and 189 wounded as well as 83 missing. On the other hand, French casualties are easier to determine, as both the allies and French estimated around five hundred dead or wounded. The great majority of these casualties were due to Ney’s futile attack across the bridge.

Battle of Buçaco
fought on 27 September 1810 during the Peninsular War in the Portuguese mountain range of Serra do Buçaco, resulted in the defeat of French forces by Lord Wellington’s Anglo-Portuguese Army.

Having occupied the heights of Bussaco (a 10-mile (16 km) long ridge located at 40°20’40″N, 8°20’15″W) with 25,000 British and the same number of Portuguese, Wellington was attacked five times successively by 65,000 French under Marshal André Masséna. Masséna was uncertain as to the disposition and strength of the opposing forces because Wellington deployed them on the reverse slope of the ridge, where they could neither be easily seen nor easily softened up with artillery. The actual assaults were delivered by the corps of Marshal Michel Ney and General of Division (Major General) Jean Reynier, but after much fierce fighting they failed to dislodge the allied forces and were driven off after having lost 4,500 men against 1,250 Anglo-Portuguese casualties.

1811

Battle of Barrosa

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An unsuccessful manoeuvre on the 5 March 1811 to break the siege of Cádiz.
During the battle, a single British division defeated two French divisions.

Cádiz had been invested by the French in early 1810, leaving it accessible from the sea, but in March of the following year a reduction in the besieging army gave its garrison of British and Spanish troops an opportunity to lift the siege. A large Allied strike force was shipped south from Cádiz to Tarifa, and moved to engage the siege lines from the rear. The French, under the command of Marshal Victor, were aware of the Allied movement and redeployed to prepare a trap. Victor placed one division on the road to Cádiz, blocking the Allied line of march, while his two remaining divisions fell on the single Anglo-Portuguese rearguard division under the command of Sir Thomas Graham.

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Following a fierce battle on two fronts, the British succeeded in routing the attacking French forces. A lack of support from the larger Spanish contingent prevented an absolute victory, and the French were able to regroup and reoccupy their siege lines. Graham’s tactical victory proved to have little strategic effect on the continuing war, to the extent that Victor was able to claim the battle as a French victory since the siege remained in force until finally being lifted on 24 August 1812.

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Battle of Sabugal
was an engagement of the Peninsular War which took place on 3 April 1811 between Anglo-Portuguese forces under Arthur Wellesley and French troops under the command of Marshal André Masséna. It was the last of many skirmishes between Masséna’s retreating French forces and those of the Anglo-Portuguese under Wellington, who were pursuing him after the failed 1810 French invasion of Portugal.

In poor weather, with heavy rain and fog, Allied forces succeeded in forcing the demoralized French force into retreat. The victory was lauded by the British; Sir Harry Smith, then a junior officer of the 95th Rifles and a participant in the battle, remarked “Oh, you Kings and usurpers should view these scenes and moderate ambition” while Wellesley later referred to the Light Division’s action in the battle as “one of the most glorious that British troops were ever engaged in”.

1812

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Siege of Badajoz
From the 16th March – 6th April. After capturing the frontier towns of Almeida and Ciudad Rodrigo in earlier sieges, the Duke of Wellington’s army moved south to Badajoz to capture this frontier town and secure the lines of communication back to Lisbon, the primary base of operations for the allied army. Badajoz was garrisoned by some 5,000 French soldiers under General Philippon, the town commander, and possessed much stronger fortifications than either Almeida or Ciudad Rodrigo. With a strong curtain wall covered by numerous strongpoints and bastions, Badajoz had already faced two unsuccessful sieges and was well prepared for a third attempt, with the walls strengthened and some areas around the curtain wall flooded or mined with explosives. The allied army, some 27,000strong, outnumbered the French garrison by around five to one and after encircling the town on 17 March 1812, began to lay siege by preparing trenches, parallels and earthworks to protect the heavy siege artillery, work made difficult by a week of prolonged and torrential rainfalls, which also swept away bridging works that were needed to bring the heavy cannon and supplies forward.

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On 19 March the French made a strong sally with 1,500 men and 40 cavalry which surprised the working parties and caused losses of 150 officers and men before being repulsed. Amongst the wounded was Lt. Col. Fletcher, chief Engineer. By 25 March batteries were firing on the outwork, Fort Picurina, which that night was stormed by 500 men and seized by redcoats from General Thomas Picton’s 3rd Division. Casualties were high with 50 killed and 250 wounded, but the fort was captured. The French made several raids to try to destroy the lines advancing toward the curtain wall, but were repeatedly fended off by the famed British 95th Rifles while simultaneously being counter-attacked by line infantry. The capture of the bastion allowed more extensive siege earthworks to be dug and with the arrival of heavy 18 lb (8.2 kg) and 24 lb (11 kg) howitzers, breaching batteries were established. On 31 March the allies began an intense bombardment of the town’s defences. Soon a maze of trenches were creeping up to the high stone walls as the cannons continued to blast away at the stonework. On 2 April an attempt was made to destroy a barrier that had been erected amongst the arches of the bridge to cause flooding that was hampering the siege. The explosion of 450lbs of powder was only partly successful. By April 5 two breaches had been made in the curtain wall and the soldiers readied themselves to storm Badajoz. The order to attack was delayed for 24 hours to allow another breach to be made in the wall.News began to filter to the allies that Marshal Soult was marching to relieve the town and an order was given to launch the attack at 22:00 on April 6. The French garrison were well aware of what was to come, and mined the large breaches in the walls in preparation for the imminent assault.

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With three large gaps in the curtain wall and with Marshal Soult marching to the town’s aid, Wellington ordered his regiments to storm the town so at 22:00 on the 6th and the troops made their way forward with scaling ladders and various tools. Three attacks would be mounted. The first men to assault the breaches were the men of the Forlorn Hope, who would lead the main attack by the 4th Division on two of the breaches. The third breach would be assaulted by Craufurd’s Light Division while diversionary attacks were to be made to the north and the east by Portuguese, and British soldiers of the 5th Division and Picton’s 3rd Division would assault the Castle from across the river.

Just as the main Forlorn Hope were beginning their attack, a French sentry was alerted and raised the alarm. Within seconds the ramparts were filled with French soldiers, who poured a lethal hail of musket fire into the troops at the base of the breach. The British and Portuguese surged forward en masse and raced up to the wall, facing a murderous barrage of musket fire, complemented by grenades, stones, barrels of gunpowder with crude fuses and bales of burning hay to provide light.

The furious barrage devastated the British soldiers at the wall and the breach soon began to fill with dead and wounded, over whom the storming troops had to struggle. The carnage, rubble and loss of guiding Engineering officers led the Craufurd’s Light Division to become confused; assaulting an outlying ravelin that led nowhere, the troops got mixed up with those of the 4th Division. Despite the carnage the redcoats continued to surge forward in great numbers, only to be mown down by endless volleys and shrapnel from grenades and bombs. The French could see they were holding the assault and the British were becoming stupefied and incapable of more exertion. In just under two hours, some 2,000 men had been killed or badly wounded at the main breach, while countless more men of the 3rd Division were shot down as they made their diversionary assault. Picton’s 3rd Division managed to reach the top of the castle wall — without General Picton, who was wounded as he climbed a ladder to try to reach the top of the wall — and found themselves secure within the castle, but as all doors into the town were blocked up, could not immediately come to the assistance of the other divisions.

Everywhere they attacked, the allied soldiers were being halted and the carnage was so immense that Wellington was just about to call a halt to the assault when he heard that the soldiers had gained a foothold in the castle. He ordered the castle gates to be blown and that the 3rd Division should support the assaults on the breaches with a flank attack

The 5th Division, which had been delayed because their ladder party had become lost, now attacked the San Vicente bastion; losing 600 men, they eventually made it to the top of the curtain wall. FitzRoy Somerset, Wellington’s military secretary (and the future Lord Raglan), was the first to mount the breach, and afterwards secured one of the gates for British reinforcements before the French could organise a fresh defence.

The town’s fate was sealed with the link up with men of the 3rd and 5th Divisions, who were also making their way into the town. Once they had a foothold, the British and Portuguese soldiers were at an advantage. Seeing that he could no longer hold out, General Philippon withdrew from Badajoz to the neighbouring outwork of San Cristobal; however, he surrendered shortly after the town had fallen.

When dawn finally came on 7 April, it revealed the horror of the slaughter all around the curtain wall. Bodies were piled high and blood flowed like rivers in the ditches and trenches. Surveying the destruction and slaughter Wellington wept openly at the sight of British dead piled upon each other in the breaches and bitterly cursed the British Parliament for granting him so few resources and soldiers. The assault and the earlier skirmishes had left the allies with some 4,800 casualties. Numbers differ between 4,924 and 4,760. The elite Light Division had suffered badly, losing some 40 percent of their fighting strength. The storming of Badajoz affords as strong an instance of the gallantry of our troops as has ever been displayed. But I greatly hope that I shall never again be the instrument of putting them to such a test as that to which they were put last night.

From an engineering view point, the requirement to undertake the assault in a hasty manner, relying upon the British bayonet, rather than scientific methods of approach, undoubtedly resulted in heavier casualties, as did the lack of a corps of trained sappers. The siege was to lead, within 2 weeks, to the formation of the Royal School of Military Engineering. The siege was over and Wellington had secured the Portuguese–Spanish frontier. He could now advance into Spain, where he eventually engaged Marshal Marmont at Salamanca

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On the night of 6th April 1812

Wellingtons Army, surrounding the walled Spanish town of Badajoz (garrisoned by Napoleons soldiers under general Baron Philippon) is ready to attack! The men of the 45th regiment from Pictons 3rd Division launch themselves in a desperate and bloody assault against the north castle wall. Carrying improvised ladders, the men have their top buttons undone, overalls rolled up and are stripped for action. The castles defenders (Germans, allied to Napoleon of the Graf und Erbprinz Regiment from Hesse-Darmstadt) patrolling the walls in their greatcoats are initially surprised by the bold assault from this sector but they have been preparing the strong defenses for some time. Soon the night air is full of musketry, falling masonry, burning bundles of ropes and exploding grenades or mines. Despite the horrific casualties suffered the attackers press home. As the first scaling ladders are raised near a small bell tower the young Lt. James Macpherson reaches for the top of the wall. The ladders are too short! Undaunted he cries to his men below to lift the base of the ladder closer to the wall. This rapid, vertical movement suddenly propels him to a height several feet above the Germans heads. A shot rings out as one of the defenders fires point blank into the young mans chest. Fortunately the lead ball only strikes a glancing blow, cleaving in two a button of the officers waist coat and dislocating one of his ribs. Despite his fortunate escape, the force of the impact nearly sends him tumbling from the ladder. Somehow he maintains his grasp but the ladder itself gives way under the weight of the men following.

Some unfortunates are impaled on the bayonets of their comrades below. Leaping from the rungs of another ladder, Corporal Kelly is the first man over the top and gradually the 45th gain a foothold on the ramparts. The rest of the regiment is ordered to unfix bayonets. Using the few remaining ladders, others also manage to scale the walls. Through the carnage they climb, club and shoot their way into the castle itself! Maepherson now regains consciousness at the foot of the wall and revived with a cup of coco from his friend A.A. General Hercules Packenham, who was directly behind him on the ladder when it broke. Though winded by the shot he rises to his feet. This sudden movement relocates his rib and he is able to climb the ladders once more. Once over the defense he sees the old towers of Apendez and Albar-rana to his left and the cathedral illuminated by gun fire in the distance. However his objective is directly ahead. Atop the abandoned tower of Santa Maria before him still flies the French Macpherson the opportunity, mounts the spiral stairway to the top turret and pulls down the enemy flag. For want of a substitute he flies his own red jacket from the pole, signifying that the castle has fallen. In the rest of the town the fighting continues and turns into a blood lust. Badajoz is one of the bloodiest and violent sieges of the Peninsula War. On the following day Macpherson presents his trophy to the Duke of Wellington himself but his bravery is not rewarded with a promotion.

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Battle of Salamanca
Anglo-Portuguese army under the Duke of Wellington defeated Marshal Auguste Marmont’s French forces among the hills around Arapiles, south of Salamanca, Spain on 22 July 1812 during the Peninsular War. A Spanish division was also present but took no part in the battle.

The battle involved a succession of flanking manoeuvres in oblique order, initiated by the British heavy cavalry brigade and Pakenham’s 3rd division, and continued by the cavalry and the 4th, 5th and 6th divisions. These attacks resulted in a rout of the French left wing. Both Marmont and his deputy commander, General Bonet, received shrapnel wounds in the first few minutes of firing. Confusion amongst the French command may have been decisive in creating an opportunity, which Wellington successfully seized and exploited. General Bertrand Clausel, third in seniority, assumed command and ordered a counterattack by the French reserve toward the depleted Allied centre. The move proved partly successful but with Wellington having sent his reinforcements to the centre, the Anglo-Portuguese forces prevailed.

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Allied losses numbered 3,129 British and 2,038 Portuguese dead or wounded. The Spanish troops took no part in the battle as they were positioned to block French escape routes and as such suffered just six casualties. The French suffered about 13,000 dead, wounded and captured. As a consequence of Wellington’s victory, his army was able to advance to and liberate Madrid for two months, before retreating to Portugal. The French were forced to abandon Andalusia permanently while the loss of Madrid irreparably damaged King Joseph’s pro-French government.

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Battle of Vitoria
In July 1812, after the Battle of Salamanca, the French had evacuated Madrid, which Wellington’s army entered on 12 August 1812. Deploying three divisions to guard its southern approaches, Wellington marched north with the rest of his army to lay siege to the fortress of Burgos, 140 miles (230 km) away, but he had underestimated the enemy’s strength and on 21 October he had to abandon the Siege of Burgos and retreat. By 31 October he had abandoned Madrid too, and retreated first to Salamanca then to Ciudad Rodrigo, near the Portuguese frontier, to avoid encirclement by French armies from the north-east and south-east.

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Wellington spent the winter reorganising and strengthening his forces. By contrast, Napoleon withdrew many soldiers to rebuild his main army after his disastrous invasion of Russia. By 20 May 1813 Wellington marched 121,000 troops (53,749 British, 39,608 Spanish and 27,569 Portuguese from northern Portugal across the mountains of northern Spain and the Esla River to outflank Marshal Jourdan’s army of 68,000, strung out between the Douro and the Tagus. The French retreated to Burgos, with Wellington’s forces marching hard to cut them off from the road to France. Wellington himself commanded the small central force in a strategic feint, while Sir Thomas Graham conducted the bulk of the army around the French right flank over landscape considered impassable.

Wellington launched his attack with 57,000 British, 16,000 Portuguese and 8,000 Spanish at Vitoria on 21 June, from four directions.

The Battle of the Pyrenees was a large-scale offensive launched[5] on 25 July 1813 by Marshal Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult from the Pyrénées region on Emperor Napoleon’s order, in the hope of relieving French garrisons under siege at Pamplona and San Sebastián. After initial success the offensive ground to a halt in face of increased allied resistance under the command of Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Wellington. Soult abandoned the offensive on 30 July and headed toward France, having failed to relieve either garrison.

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1813

The Battle of the Pyrenees involved several distinct actions. On 25 July, Soult and two French corps fought the reinforced British 4th Division and a Spanish division at the Battle of Roncesvalles. The Allied force successfully held off all attacks during the day, but retreated from the Roncesvalles Pass that night in the face of overwhelming French numerical superiority. Also on the 25th, a third French corps severely tried the British 2nd Division at the Battle of Maya. The British withdrew from the Maya Pass that evening. Wellington rallied his troops a short distance north of Pamplona and repelled the attacks of Soult’s two corps at the Battle of Sorauren on 28 July.

Instead of falling back to the northeast toward Roncesvalles Pass, Soult made contact with his third corps on 29 July and began to move north. On 30 July, Wellington attacked Soult’s rearguards at Sourauren, driving some French troops to the northeast, while most continued to the north. Rather than use the Maya Pass, Soult elected to head north up the Bidassoa River valley. He managed to evade Allied attempts to surround his troops at Yanci on 1 August and escaped across a nearby pass after a final rearguard action at Etxalar on 2 August. The French suffered nearly twice as many casualties as the Allied army.

Danny and Peachy were sent back to England after the Pyrenees offensive to get their discharge papers. But they were first ordered to attend Compton Verney as part of the Militia with Colonel Forster’s regiment. As two trusted old timers they have been ordered to keep a watchful eye on Mr Wickham.

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Victorian antique salt-glazed stoneware ink bottles

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Saturday 14th October 2017

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on October 14, 2017 by bishshat

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Spurs 1 Bournemouth 0

Our first-ever Premier League win at Wembley Stadium was achieved on Saturday afternoon thanks to Christian Eriksen’s second-half strike.
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The Danish midfielder produced a calm finish from 18 yards just two minutes after half-time and it was enough to give us maximum league points for the first time at our temporary home, following draws against Swansea City and Burnley and a defeat by Chelsea.

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The first half was a disappointing affair, as visitors Bournemouth pulled all 10 players back behind the ball when not in possession and we struggled to penetrate their defence. Eriksen and Dele Alli had efforts blocked while Asmir Begovic made a good save to deny Harry Kane, while at the other end, we needed a great block by Davinson Sanchez to deny Junior Stanislas and a superb close-range save from Hugo Lloris – keeping out a corner which hit Eric Dier and was heading in – to keep the game goalless at the interval.
But we wasted no time in the second half and went in front on 47 minutes when Heung-Min Son played in Eriksen and he advanced into the area before sending a slide-rule shot past Begovic and into the far corner.

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A good spell followed for us and the Cherries goalkeeper was forced into making a great double save to prevent Kane from extending our lead, but there was always a threat from Bournemouth and Lloris was called upon to keep out former Spur Jermain Defoe’s chance in the 78th minute, just moments after he had come off the bench.
In the closing stages, Dier had an effort blocked by Steve Cook from 12 yards, Dele just headed wide after great work by Moussa Sissoko and fellow substitute Georges-Kevin Nkoudou was upended on the edge of the area in stoppage time by Begovic when clean through. The keeper saved Eriksen’s effort from the resulting free-kick, but the whistle blew seconds later to ensure we took the three points

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Friday 13th October 2017

Posted in Life the Universe and Other Things on October 13, 2017 by bishshat

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