Japanese letter to British forces in Singapore, demanding their surrender, 1942

Lieut General Tomoyuki Yamashita. High Com of The Nipon Army

Feb 10 1942

To:– The High Com of The British Army in Malaya

Your Excellency,

I, the High Com of The Nipon Army based on the spirit of Japanese chivalry have the honour of presenting this note to your Excellency advising you to surrender the whole force in Malaya.

My sincere respect is due to your Army which true to the traditional spirit of Great Britain is bravely defending Singapore, which now stands isolated and unaided.

Many fierce and gallant fights have been fought by your gallant men and officers, to the honour of British Warriorship.

But the development of the General War situation has already sealed the fate of Singapore, and continuation of futile resistance would not only serve to inflict direct harms and injuries to thousands of non-combatants living in the city, throwing them into further miseries and horrors of war, but also would not certainly add anything to the honour of your Army.

I expect that your Excellency accepting my advice will give up this meaningless and desperate resistance and promptly order the entire front to cease hostilities and will dispatch at the same time your Parlimentaire according to the procedure shown at the end of this note. If on the contrary your Excellency should reject my advice and the present resistance be continued I shall be obliged though

reluctantly from humanitarian considerations to order my army to make annihilating attacks upon Singapore.

In closing this note of advice I pay again my sincere respects to your Excellency.


Tomoyuki Yamashita.

The British in Singapore duly surrendered.

Adolf Hitler’s Private Will and Testament – text

My Private Will and Testament

As I did not consider that I could take responsibility, during the years of struggle, of contracting a marriage, I have now decided, before the closing of my earthly career, to take as my wife that girl who, after many years of faithful friendship, entered, of her own free will, the practically besieged town in order to share her destiny with me. At her own desire she goes as my wife with me into death. It will compensate us for what we both lost through my work in the service of my people.

What I possess belongs — in so far as it has any value — to the Party. Should this no longer exist, to the State, should the State also be destroyed, no further decision of mine is necessary.

My pictures, in the collections which I have bought in the course of years, have never been collected for private purposes, but only for the extension of a gallery in my home town of Linz a.d. Donau.

It is my most sincere wish that this bequest may be duly executed.

I nominate as my Executor my most faithful Party comrade,
Martin Bormann.

He is given full legal authority to make all decisions. He is permitted to take out everything that has a sentimental value or is necessary for the maintenance of a modest simple life, for my brothers and sisters, also above all for the mother of my wife and my faithful coworkers who are well known to him, principally my old Secretaries Frau Winter etc. Who have for many years aided me by their work.

I myself and my wife — in order to escape the disgrace of deposition or capitulation — choose death. It is our wish to be burnt immediately on the spot where I have carried out the greatest part of my daily work in the course of a twelve years’ service to my people.

Given in Berlin, 29th. April 1945, 4:00 o’clock.

See also Hitler’s Last Political Testament.

(The following day, 30 April 1945, Hitler, alongside his wife, Eva Braun, committed suicide. For an excellent overview on Hitler, see Hitler: History In An Hour.) 

Rupert Colley

The fascination with history was always part of my growing up – why, I even had a father that was historic. He was already 63 by the time I was born and, as a teenager, it wasn’t always easy having a septuagenarian dad. Friends at school used to ask, ‘why’s your dad so old?’ They were right; in fact, he was so old, Queen Victoria was still on the throne at the time of his birth. He collected medals, a collection I’ve now inherited, and as a boy I was mesmerised by their appearance and the stories that lay behind them. Most had the name and rank of the recipient inscribed on the rim and I dreamt of being like them – a military hero in faraway lands which, given my inherent cowardice, was fanciful to say the least.

IMG_1687My brother inherited the same interest in history. He recently exclaimed to me that his new girlfriend hadn’t even heard of the Retreat from Mons. Well, really, one should expect more.

And just as my father embarrassed me simply for being so ancient, I’m now an embarrassment to my teenage son – other dads don’t have a bust of Lenin, a candlestick made from canon balls from the Crimean War, or a framed Victoria Cross on their walls (sadly a replica).

I took a history degree but my real interest started after graduating because then, finally, I could read whatever I wanted– but where to start? The choice is unending and I found myself flitting from one subject to another– Henry VIII this week, the Spanish Civil War the next, the American Revolution the week after that. Sometimes all I wanted was a simple introduction. There were over 10,000 military engagements during the American Civil War but I just wanted to know the headlines. Shallow of me, perhaps, but I also wanted to know why Alfred the Great burnt his cakes, how the Egyptians built their pyramids and why Napoleon invaded Russia. And all at the same time.

So slowly an idea formed in my mind of presenting history in its most digestible form, a way of providing a starting point; and from such musings came the idea for History In An Hour. I knew there was, and still is, a huge demand for history presented in such a way yet for years I held back, thinking it wasn’t the proper way to ‘do’ history. The ebook revolution helped me change my mind. The digitalisation of reading seemed ideal for History In An Hour: quick reads for people on the go in this, our digital age.

Far from “dumbing down”, it provides a way into history for people who may feel daunted by the mass and sheer length of new history titles that come out every year. I call it ‘history for busy people’.

And my wife could still, with a limited interest in history, tell you about the Retreat from Mons – reluctantly, maybe, but she could.

As well as my books for History In An Hour, I have a number of historical novels out. Details can be found here.

Rosa Parks – 10 things…

This article was originally published in the Huffington Post. Here you can read it without all the distracting ads.

1. Parks had been thrown off the bus a decade earlier by the same bus driver – for refusing to pay in the front and go around to the back to board. She had avoided that driver’s bus for twelve years because she knew well the risks of angering drivers, all of whom were white and carried guns. Her own mother had been threatened with physical violence by a bus driver, in front of Parks who was a child at the time. Parks’ neighbor had been killed for his bus stand, and teenage protester Claudette Colvin, among others, had recently been badly manhandled by the police.

Rosa Parks2. Parks was a lifelong believer in self-defense. Malcolm X was her personal hero. Her family kept a gun in the house, including during the boycott, because of the daily terror of white violence. As a child, when pushed by a white boy, she pushed back. His mother threatened to kill her, but Parks stood her ground. Another time, she held a brick up to a white bully, daring him to follow through on his threat to hit her. He went away. When the Klu Klux Klan went on rampages through her childhood town, Pine Level, Ala., her grandfather would sit on the porch all night with his rifle. Rosa stayed awake some nights, keeping vigil with him.

3. Her husband was her political partner. Parks said Raymond was “the first real activist I ever met.” Initially she wasn’t romantically interested because Raymond was more light-skinned than she preferred, but she became impressed with his boldness and “that he refused to be intimidated by white people.” When they met he was working to free the nine Scottsboro boys and she joined these efforts after they were married. At Raymond’s urging, Parks, who had to drop out in the eleventh grade to care for her sick grandmother, returned to high school and got her diploma. Raymond’s input was crucial to Parks’ political development and their partnership sustained her political work over many decades.

4. Many of Parks’ ancestors were Indians. She noted this to a friend who was surprised when in private Parks removed her hairpins and revealed thick braids of wavy hair that fell below her waist. Her husband, she said, liked her hair long and she kept it that way for many years after his death, although she never wore it down in public. Aware of the racial politics of hair and appearance, she tucked it away in a series of braids and buns — maintaining a clear division between her public presentation and private person.

5. Parks’ arrest had grave consequences for her family’s health and economic well-being. After her arrest, Parks was continually threatened, such that her mother talked for hours on the phone to keep the line busy from constant death threats. Parks and her husband lost their jobs after her stand and didn’t find full employment for nearly ten years. Even as she made fundraising appearances across the country, Parks and her family were at times nearly destitute. She developed painful stomach ulcers and a heart condition, and suffered from chronic insomnia. Raymond, unnerved by the relentless harassment and death threats, began drinking heavily and suffered two nervous breakdowns. The black press, culminating in JET magazine’s July 1960 story on “the bus boycott’s forgotten woman,” exposed the depth of Parks’ financial need, leading civil rights groups to finally provide some assistance.

6. Parks spent more than half of her life in the North. The Parks family had to leave Montgomery eight months after the boycott ended. She lived for most of that time in Detroit in the heart of the ghetto, just a mile from the epicenter of the 1967 Detroit riot. There, she spent nearly five decades organizing and protesting racial inequality in “the promised land that wasn’t.”

7. In 1965 Parks got her first paid political position, after over two decades of political work. After volunteering for Congressman John Conyers’s long shot political campaign,

Parks helped secure his primary victory by convincing Martin Luther King, Jr. to come to Detroit on Conyers’s behalf. He later hired her to work with constituents as an administrative assistant in his Detroit office. For the first time since her bus stand, Parks finally had a salary, access to health insurance, and a pension — and the restoration of dignity that a formal paid position allowed.

Black History in an hour28. Parks was far more radical than has been understood. She worked alongside the Black Power movement, particularly around issues such as reparations, black history, anti-police brutality, freedom for black political prisoners, independent black political power, and economic justice. She attended the Black Political Convention in Gary and the Black Power conference in Philadelphia. She journeyed to Lowndes County, Alabama to support the movement there, spoke at the Poor People’s Campaign, helped organize support committees on behalf of black political prisoners such as the Wilmington 10 and Imari Obadele of the Republic of New Africa, and paid a visit of support to the Black Panther school in Oakland, CA.

9. Parks was an internationalist. She was an early opponent of the Vietnam War in the early 1960s, a member of The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and a supporter of the Winter Soldier hearings in Detroit and the Jeannette Rankin Brigade protest in D.C. In the 1980s, she protested apartheid and U.S. complicity, joining a picket outside the South African embassy and opposed U.S. policy in Central America. Eight days after 9/11, she joined other activists in a letter calling on the United States to work with the international community and no retaliation or war.

10. Parks was a lifelong activist and a hero to many, including Nelson Mandela. After his release from prison, he told her, “You sustained me while I was in prison all those years.”

This Time TomorrowSee also our article on the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Rupert Colley’s novel, This Time Tomorrow, a compelling tale set during the First World War, is now available.

Original article.

Top 25 of 2103

The History In An Hour Top 25 most viewed articles of 2013 were…

  1. Yakov Stalin
  2. The Civil Rights Movement – a summary
  3. Malcolm X
  4. The Battle of Hastings, 1066
  5. The Battle of the Bulge, 1944
  6. The Hindenburg Disaster, 1937
  7. Bloody Sunday, 1905
  8. Alois Hitler, father to Adolf
  9. Nelson Mandela
  10. Kaiser Wilhelm II
  11. The Marshall Plan
  12. Ramses the Great
  13. Operation Barbarossa, 1941
  14. Tsar Nicholas II
  15. Death of Prince Albert, 1861
  16. The Battle of Stalingrad, 1942-3
  17. Hitler the Artist
  18. The Battle of the Somme, 1916
  19. Harrying of the North, 1060s
  20. The assassination of Sergei Kirov, 1934
  21. The Siege of Kaffa, 1346
  22. Henry VIII’s problems of succession
  23. Edward the Confessor
  24. Anne of Cleves
  25. The Mau Mau Uprising

If you would like to contribute a guest post, please see our submissions page.

The Top 25 of 2012.

Self-Publishing to Success – a Words Over Waltham Forest event


How to self-publish your ebook: from editing and cover design to uploading onto online bookstores. Plus how to market your book and use social media.

16 November 2013, 11am-1pm

at Vestry House Museum, Vestry Road, Walthamstow, London, E17 9NH

Free admission

A Words Over Waltham Forest festival event.

Go to selfpublishtoday.eventbrite.com to reserve your place.

If you have any enquiries, please visit your nearest library, or phone 020 8496 3000

This Time Tomorrow About the organiser

Former librarian Rupert Colley is the founder, editor and writer of History In An Hour. Published by HarperCollins UK, this highly successful series of ebooks and audio books provides ‘history for busy people’.

Colley is also the author of four self-published novels, including This Time Tomorrow, a compelling story of war, brotherly love, passion and betrayal during World War One.

Self Publishing to Success – Rupert Colley PDF

Karl Lody – last letters

On the day before his execution, Karl Lody wrote a number of letters. Below are the texts for two of those letters:

London, Nov, 5th 1914

Tower of London

To the Commanding Officer of the 3rd Battalion Gren. Guards.
Wellington Barracks


I feel it my duty as a German officer to express my sincere thanks and appreciation towards the staff officers and men who were in charge of my person during my confinement.

Their kind and considered treatment has called my highest esteem and admiration as regards good fellowship even towards the enemy and if I may be permitted, I would thank you for making this known to them.

I am, Sir, with profound respect:

Carl Hans Lody.

Senior Lieutenant, Imperial German Naval Res. II.

London, Nov, 5th 1914
Tower of London

(To family in Stuttgart)

My dear ones,

I have trusted in God and He has decided.  My hour has come, and I must start on the journey through the Dark Valley like so many of my comrades in this terrible War of Nations.  May my life be offered as a humble offering on the alter of the Fatherland.

A hero’s death on the battlefield is certainly finer, but such is not to be my lot, and I die here in the Enemy’s country silent and unknown, but the consciousness that I die in the service of the Fatherland makes death easy.

The Supreme Court-Martial of London has sentenced me to death for Military Conspiracy.  Tomorrow I shall be shot here in the Tower.  I have had just Judges and I shall die as an Officer, not as a spy.

Farewell.  God bless you,


(See article on Karl Lody).

1914: History In An Hour

1914In 1914 the world changed. Europe’s great powers were dragged, one by one, into a war by Serbian conflict which affected very few of them directly. At least it would resemble the short sharp battles of the previous century, many thought – fought with military bands, horsemen, and swift victories. But 1914 proved to be different, a watershed, as old notions of war were trampled in the mud.

1914: History in an Hour by Rupert Colley is the indispensable overview of the year that marked the end of the Belle Époque and the shocking birth of modern mechanised warfare. It became a war of unimaginable horror, fought with terrifying new weapons that produced death on an industrial scale, a war that involved so many nations and reached into the fabric of their societies. 1914 shaped the First World War, and the years beyond.

Only 99p / $1.99. Buy now from iTunesAmazon, and other online stores.

Also available as an audio download.

1914 Audio








Turn of the Century: States of the Nations
Treaties and Alliances
Assassination of an Archduke
The Road to War
The Willy and Nicky Telegrams
The Schlieffen Plan
Battle Begins
The First Battle of Ypres
Eastern Front
War Crimes
The Wider War
The War at Sea and in the Air
The Christmas Truce

William Shakespeare: History In An Hour

Shakespeare IAHIn a writing career that spanned over twenty years during the explosion of poetic and theatrical creativity of late Elizabethan and early Jacobean periods, William Shakespeare produced a body of work that has become the bedrock of human thought, literature and language in English. His poetry and plays have endured for almost 450 years, such is their universal appeal and understanding of the human condition. And yet Shakespeare wrote almost nothing of himself. Who was this socially ambitious wordsmith who had neither pedigree nor university education? What was his family life like? How did he work?

Shakespeare: History in an Hour by Sinead Fitzgibbon is the essential guide to the life of Shakespeare, his relationships, colleagues and his breathtaking works. From the Elizabethan world to which he was born, to the theorists and critics that continue to debate him to this day, this is the story of the most revered writer of all time.

See a teacher’s review of Shakespeare: History in an Hour.

Only 99p / $1.99. Buy now from iTunesAmazon, and other online stores.

Also available as an audio download.

Shakespeare Audio








Setting the Scene
The Childhood Years
The Family Years
The Jack of All Trades
The Lord Chamberlain’s Men
The Kings Men
The Wooden O
The Works
The Autobiographical Author?
The Affluent Years
Shuffling Off This Mortal Coil
The Contested Will
The Quartos, Folios and the Missing Plays
The Authorship Debate
Becoming the Bard