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Visit us in Kew Visit us in Kew to see original documents or view online records for free. Pay for research Consider paying for research. What are these records? How do I search the records? The following search tips may prove useful: If you search only by name of regiment without a battalion number , your search results will include all the battalions in that regiment.
When searching for unit numbers, use cardinal numbers i. Contact us for advice. Still need help? Live chat For quick pointers Tuesday to Saturday to Siege warfare is often necessary to capture forts. Bows and arrows were often used by combatants. Egyptians shot arrows from chariots effectively.
It helped to give the English a large early advantage in the Hundred Years' War , even though the English were eventually defeated.
It dominated battlefields for over a century. In the 10th century, the invention of gunpowder led to many new weapons that were improved over time. Black powder was used in China since the 4th century, but it was not used as a weapon until the 11th century. Then came the matchlock , which was used widely until around the s. Leonardo da Vinci made drawings of the wheel lock which made its own sparks.
Eventually, the matchlock was replaced by the flintlock. Cannons were first used in Europe in the early 14th century, and played a vital role in the Hundred Years' War.
The first cannons were simply welded metal bars in the form of a cylinder, and the first cannonballs were made of stone. At the beginning of the 16th century, the first European fire ships were used. Ships were filled with flammable materials, set on fire, and sent to enemy lines. This tactic was successfully used by Francis Drake to scatter the Spanish Armada at the Battle of Gravelines ,  and would later be used by the Chinese, Russians, Greeks, and several other countries in naval battles.
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Naval mines were invented in the 17th century, though they were not used in great numbers until the American Civil War. They were used heavily in the First and Second World Wars. Air-deployed naval mines were used to mine the North Vietnamese port of Haiphong during the Vietnam War.
However, the first military submarine was constructed in by Isaac Peral. Robert Fulton then improved the submarine design by creating the Nautilus.
The Howitzer , a type of field artillery , was developed in the 17th century to fire high trajectory explosive shells at targets that could not be reached by flat trajectory projectiles. Organizational changes resulting in better training and intercommunication, made the concept combined arms possible, allowing the use of infantry, cavalry, and artillery in a coordinated way. Bayonets also became of wide usage to infantry soldiers.
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Bayonet is named after Bayonne , France where it was first manufactured in the 16th century. It is used often in infantry charges to fight in hand-to-hand combat. General Jean Martinet introduced the bayonet to the French army. They were used heavily in the American Civil War , and continued to be used in modern wars like the Invasion of Iraq. Balloons were first used in warfare at the end of the 18th century.
Previously military scouts could only see from high points on the ground, or from the mast of a ship. Now they could be high in the sky, signalling to troops on the ground. This made it much more difficult for troop movements to go unobserved. At the end of the 18th century, iron-cased artillery rockets were successfully used militarily in India against the British by Tipu Sultan of the Kingdom of Mysore during the Anglo-Mysore Wars. Rockets were generally inaccurate at that time, though William Hale , in , was able to develop a better rocket.
The new rocket no longer needed the rocket stick , and had a higher accuracy. In the s there were a series of advancements in rifles. The first repeating rifle was designed in by a company bought out by Winchester , which made new and improved versions. Springfield rifles arrived in the midth century also. Machine guns arrived in the late 19th century. Automatic rifles and light machine guns first arrived at the beginning of the 20th century. In the later part of the 19th century, the self-propelled torpedo was developed.
At the start of the World Wars, various nations had developed weapons that were a surprise to their adversaries, leading to a need to learn from this, and alter how to combat them. Flame throwers were first used in the First World War. The French were the first to introduce the armored car in Then in , the British produced the first armored troop carrier. Many early tanks were proof of concept but impractical until further development. In World War I, the British and French held a crucial advantage due to their superiority in tanks; the Germans had only a few dozen A 7 V tanks, as well as captured tanks.
The British and French both had several hundred each. In , the first helicopter flew, but it wasn't practical for usage. Aviation became important in World War I, in which several aces gained fame. In an aircraft took off from a warship for the first time. Landings on a cruiser were another matter.
This led to the development of an aircraft carrier with a decent unobstructed flight deck. Chemical warfare exploded into the public consciousness in World War I but may have been used in earlier wars without as much human attention. The Germans used gas-filled shells at the Battle of Bolimov on January 3, These were not lethal, however. In April , the Germans developed a chlorine gas that was highly lethal, and used it to moderate effect at the Second Battle of Ypres. Gas masks were invented in matter of weeks, and poison gas proved ineffective at winning battles.
It was made illegal by all nations in the s. World War II gave rise to even more technology. The worth of the aircraft carrier was proved in the battles between the United States and Japan like the Battle of Midway. Radar was independently invented by the Allies and Axis powers. It used radio waves to detect objects. Molotov cocktails were invented by General Franco in the Spanish Civil War, directing the Nationalists to use them against Soviet tanks in the assault on Toledo.
During the Cold War , the main powers engaged in a Nuclear arms race. Other technological advances centered on intelligence like the spy satellite and missiles ballistic missiles , cruise missiles. Nuclear submarine , invented in This meant submarines no longer had to surface as often, and could run more quietly. They evolved into becoming underwater missile platforms.
The influence of technology on military history, and evident Eurocentrism are nowhere more pronounced than in the attempt by the military historians to divide their subject area into more manageable periods of analysis. While general discipline of history subdivides history into Ancient history Classical antiquity , Middle Ages Europe, 4th century — 15th century , Early Modern period Europe, 14th century — 18th century , Modern era Europe, 18th century — 20th century , and the Post-Modern USA, —present , the periodisation below stresses technological change in its emphasis, particularly the crucial dramatic change during the Gunpowder warfare period.
Periodisation is not uniformly applied through time and space, affirming the claims of Eurocentrism from regional historians. For example, what might be described as prehistoric warfare is still practised in a few parts of the world. Other eras that are distinct in European history, such as the era of medieval warfare , may have little relevance in East Asia. Much of what we know of ancient history is the history of militaries: their conquests, their movements, and their technological innovations.
There are many reasons for this. Kingdoms and empires, the central units of control in the ancient world, could only be maintained through military force. Due to limited agricultural ability, there were relatively few areas that could support large communities, so fighting was common. Weapons and armor , designed to be sturdy, tended to last longer than other artifacts, and thus a great deal of surviving artifacts recovered tend to fall in this category as they are more likely to survive.
Weapons and armor were also mass-produced to a scale that makes them quite plentiful throughout history, and thus more likely to be found in archaeological digs. Such items were also considered signs of prosperity or virtue, and thus were likely to be placed in tombs and monuments to prominent warriors. And writing, when it existed, was often used for kings to boast of military conquests or victories. Writing, when used by the common man, also tended to record such events, as major battles and conquests constituted major events that many would have considered worthy of recording either in an epic such as the Homeric writings pertaining to the Trojan War, or even personal writings.
Indeed, the earliest stories center on warfare, as war was both a common and dramatic aspect of life; the witnessing of a major battle involving many thousands of soldiers would be quite a spectacle, even today, and thus considered worthy both of being recorded in song and art, but also in realistic histories, as well as being a central element in a fictional work. Lastly, as nation states evolved and empires grew, the increased need for order and efficiency lead to an increase in the number of records and writings.
Officials and armies would have good reason for keeping detailed records and accounts involving any and all things concerning a matter such as warfare that in the words of Sun Tzu was "a matter of vital importance to the state". For all these reasons, military history comprises a large part of ancient history. The fertile crescent of Mesopotamia was the center of several prehistoric conquests. Iranians were the first nation to introduce cavalry into their army. The earliest recorded battle in India was the Battle of the Ten Kings. The Indian epics Mahabharata and Ramayana are centered on conflicts and refer to military formations, theories of warfare and esoteric weaponry.
Chanakya 's Arthashastra contains a detailed study on ancient warfare, including topics on espionage and war elephants. The same region was soon re conquered by Chandragupta Maurya after defeating the Macedonians and Seleucids. He also went on to conquer the Nanda Empire and unify Northern India. Most of Southern Asia was unified under his grandson Ashoka the Great after the Kalinga War , though the empire collapsed not long after his reign. In China, the Shang dynasty and Zhou dynasty had risen and collapsed.
This led to a Warring States period , in which several states continued to fight with each other over territory. Philosopher-strategists such as Confucius and Sun Tzu wrote various manuscripts on ancient warfare as well as international diplomacy. The Warring States era philosopher Mozi Micius and his Mohist followers invented various siege weapons and siegecraft, including the Cloud Ladder a four-wheeled, extendable ramp to scale fortified walls during a siege of an enemy city.
The warring states were first unified by Qin Shi Huang after a series of military conquests, creating the first empire in China. The Han came into conflict with settled people such as the Wiman Joseon , and proto-Vietnamese Nanyue. They also came into conflict with the Xiongnu Huns , Yuezhi , and other steppe civilizations. The Han defeated and drove the Xiongnus west, securing the city-states along the silk route that continued into the Parthian Empire.
After the decline of central imperial authority, the Han Dynasty collapsed into an era of civil war and continuous warfare during the Three Kingdoms period in the 3rd century AD. After being ruled by the Seleucid dynasty, the Persian Empire was subsequently ruled by the Parthian and Sassanid dynasties, which were the Roman Empire 's greatest rivals during the Roman-Persian Wars. In Greece , several city-states rose to power, including Athens and Sparta.
The Greeks successfully stopped two Persian invasions, the first at the Battle of Marathon , where the Persians were led by Darius the Great , and the second at the Battle of Salamis , a naval battle where the Greek ships were deployed by orders of Themistocles and the Persians were under Xerxes I , and the land engagement of the Battle of Plataea. Athens built a long wall to protect its inhabitants, but the wall helped to facilitate the spread of a plague that killed about 30, Athenians, including Pericles. After a disastrous campaign against Syracuse , the Athenian navy was decisively defeated by Lysander at the Battle of Aegospotami.
However, following Alexander's death at an early age, the empire quickly fell apart. Meanwhile, Rome was gaining power, following a rebellion against the Etruscans. During the three Punic Wars , the Romans defeated the neighboring power of Carthage. The First Punic War centered on naval warfare. He famously won the encirclement at the Battle of Cannae. However, after Scipio invaded Carthage, Hannibal was forced to follow and was defeated at the Battle of Zama , ending the role of Carthage as a power.
While Roman armies suffered several major losses, their large population and ability and will to replace battlefield casualties, their training, organization, tactical and technical superiority enabled Rome to stay a predominant military force for several centuries, utilizing well trained and maneuverable armies to routinely overcome the much larger "tribal" armies of their foes see Battles of Aquae Sextiae , Vercellae , Tigranocerta , Alesia. In a decisive battle at Carrhae Romans were defeated and the golden Aquilae legionary battle standards were taken as trophies to Ctesiphon.
The battle was one of the worst defeats suffered by the Roman Republic in its entire history. While successfully dealing with foreign opponents, Rome experienced numerous civil wars, notably the power struggles of Roman generals such as Marius and Sulla during the end of the Republic. Caesar was also notable for his role in the civil war against the other member of the Triumvirate Pompey and against the Roman Senate.
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