History in Pics

British Soldier

British soldiers fire their rifles at German aircraft flying overhead during the evacuation of Dunkirk, May-June 1940.

The Battle of Dunkirk was a military operation that took place in Dunkirk (Dunkerque), France, during the Second World War. The battle was fought between the Allies and Nazi Germany. As part of the Battle of France on the Western Front, the Battle of Dunkirk was the defense and evacuation of British and Allied forces in Europe from 26 May to 4 June 1940.

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson and the Reagans at the White House for the launch of a campaign against drunk driving, 14 May, 1984.

Mask Drill

American “doughboy” laughing during a gas mask drill, 1917.

The gas mask drill is pretty much to put on your mask as fast as you can with your eyes closed while holding your breath. It is to create muscle memory so you know what to do when sh*t has actually hit the fan. It is actually still used in the military worldwide.

The gas masks at this time did not create a perfect seal with the face, and so required a snorkel piece that went in the mouth (the white thing in the photo), and a clip that held the nose shut. Due to the physiology of some African-American’s noses being wider and flatter, the nose clip did not stay in place for many of them. The Army actually developed what they termed the “Negro Nose Stopper” which was a specially shaped pad to press the nostrils closed for these individuals.

The word Doughboy is best known for its usage for American troops in the First World War, the origins of the term are unclear. The word was in wide circulation a century earlier in both Britain and America, albeit with different meanings. Horatio Nelson’s sailors and the Duke of Wellington’s soldiers in Spain, for instance, were both familiar with fried flour dumplings called “doughboys”, the precursor of the modern doughnut. Cavalrymen used the term to deride foot soldiers because the brass buttons on their uniforms looked like the flour dumplings or dough cakes called “doughboys”, or because of the flour or pipe clay which the soldiers used to polish their white belts. Observers noticed U.S. infantry forces were constantly covered with chalky dust from marching through the dry terrain of northern Mexico, giving the men the appearance of unbaked dough or the mud bricks of the area known as adobe, with “adobe” transformed into “Doughboy”.

Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl in the garden shed where he wrote many of his books, including Charlie and the Chocolate factory. The photo was taken in 1979 in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, England.

Roald Dahl’s last words on his deathbed were almost “I’m not scared to go, I’m just going to miss you all so much”, spoken to his accumulated family around his hospital bed. His actual last words were “Ow, fu*k”, as a nurse put an IV needle into his arm.

Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler’s 4th-grade class, 1899. The fuhrer-to-be can be seen top row, dead center.

It was said that Hitler always felt like a natural leader. When he was a kid and playing with his friends, he always wanted to be the leader and command others. In this picture, Hitler does indeed look a bit more commanding than the other kids.


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