History Guild General History Quiz 113
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History Guild General History Quiz 113

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The stories behind the questions

1. What was the code name of the massive Soviet operation that saw them push the German forces back on the Eastern Front in June 1944?

Operation Bagration – This offensive, fought between 22 June and 19 August 1944 hurled around 2 million Soviet soldiers against the German Army Group Centre, destroying 28 of its 34 divisions. This was the biggest defeat in German military history, with around 450,000 German casualties and another 300,000 German soldiers cut off in the Courland Pocket on the Baltic Coast.

2. Which battle did King Harold II fight in the days prior to the Battle of Hastings?

Battle of Stamford Bridge – It took place at the village of Stamford Bridge, Yorkshire, on 25 September 1066, when an English army under King Harold Godwinson fought an invading Norwegian force led by King Harald Hardrada and the English king’s brother Tostig Godwinson.

Prior to the battle a single man rode up alone to Harald Hardrada and Tostig. He gave no name, but spoke to Tostig, offering the return of his earldom if he would turn against Hardrada. Tostig asked what his brother Harold would be willing to give Hardrada for his trouble. The rider replied “Seven feet of English ground, as he is taller than other men.” Then he rode back to the Saxon host. Hardrada was impressed by the rider’s boldness, and asked Tostig who he was. Tostig replied that the rider was Harold Godwinson himself.

King Harold Godwinson won a decisive victory, the losses the Norwegians suffered were so severe that only 24 ships from the fleet of over 300 were needed to carry the survivors away. Three days after the battle, on 28 September, a second invasion army led by William, Duke of Normandy, landed in Pevensey Bay, Sussex, on the south coast of England. Harold had to immediately turn his troops around and force-march them southwards to intercept the Norman army.

3. In which year did Hawaii become the 50th US state?

1959 – On August 21, 1959, President Eisenhower signed the official proclamation admitting Hawaii as the 50th state, marking the end of over half a century of work towards Hawaiian statehood.

4. How long elapsed between these two aircraft seeing active service in the British military?

Active at the same time – The Second World War saw phenomenal development in aircraft performance. The Fairey Swordfish, on the left, entered service in 1936 and retired in 1945. Its top speed was 124 knots. The Gloster Meteor, which was the first British jet fighter, saw active military service from 1944 to 1980 and had a top speed of 520 knots.

5. Which politician lived at Mt Vernon?

George Washington – Mount Vernon is the former plantation of George Washington, the first president of the United States, and his wife, Martha. The estate is on the banks of the Potomac River in Fairfax County, Virginia.

6. Which of these countries abolished slavery first, including in their colonies?

France – 1794

Britain – 1834

Holland – 1914

USA – 1865

7. How long did the English Republic exist for?

11 years – After the execution of Charles I the English republic’s existence was declared through “An Act declaring England to be a Commonwealth”, adopted by the Rump Parliament on 19 May 1649. During the 11-year period, no stable government was established to rule the English state for longer than a few months at a time. Several administrative structures were tried, and several Parliaments called and seated, but little in the way of meaningful, lasting legislation was passed. The only force keeping it together was the personality of Oliver Cromwell. This fell apart after Cromwell’s death in 1658, with the monarchy restored in 1660.

8. Which of these countries last fought in a war in 1814?

Sweden – Since a short war against Norway in 1814 in conjunction with the creation of the union, Sweden has not been involved in any war. Since World War I, Sweden has pursued a policy of non-alignment in peacetime and neutrality in wartime, basing its security on a strong national defence.

9. Which camera, first sold around 1900, brought photography to the masses?

Kodak Box Brownie – Released in 1900, it introduced the snapshot to the masses. It was a basic cardboard box camera with a simple convex-concave lens that took 2 1/4-inch square pictures on Kodak roll film.

10. The siege of Basing House was part of which conflict?

English Civil War – Basing House was intermittently under attack between 1642 and 14th October 1645 when it was finally stormed by Oliver Cromwell’s men.

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