On the morning of June 6, 1944, an armada of landing ships chopped through the icy, stinging waters of the English Channel, ferrying thousands of troops toward the German-held beaches in a surprise attack that changed the course of the war and of human history. On the far eastern edge of the invasion fleet, one landing craft held a special commodity which no other could boast: deployed along with the 1st Special Services Brigade, many of whom were Scottish, 21-year-old Bill Millin, a Royal Marine Commando in direct service to the brigade commander prepared for the landing. Millin, unlike his fellow soldiers, did not prepare a helmet, rifle, or bayonet; instead, he hoisted and readied the traditional and iconic instrument of Scottish warriors: bagpipes.
Just north of Turkey lies the Black Sea, a roughly peanut-shaped saltwater lake the size about the size of Arizona and New Mexico combined. The Crimean Peninsula juts out into the Black Sea from the north, on which sits the port city of Sevastapol. In 1853, the weakening Ottoman Empire controlled the area known as the Crimea, but Russia, sensing weakness, sent troops into the region in July of that year. Britain and France, hoping to deny the growing Russian Empire the valuable port city, sent warships and troops to aid the Ottomans, signalling the beginning of the Crimean War.
Frederick Burnham was born in 1861 on an Indian reservation in what is now Minnesota, the son of a Kentucky-born missionary and outdoorsman and his English wife, and a true product of the American west.. When Indians attacked their village during the Dakota War of 1862, Fred’s mother, knowing she couldn’t move quickly enough while carrying him, hid Fred in a corn shock while she fled to another homestead; Fred spent the night there under the stacked corn even as the Indians ran by, and upon his mother's return the following day, she found him unharmed and sleeping. Over the years, he inherited his father’s love and skill for outdoorsmanship, and became proficient in the use of a rifle by the time he was eight. Around 1870, Fred’s father slipped on some ice while carrying an armload of wood; the falling wood left him with serious injuries and a case of consumption from which he could not recover; the family moved to California, where Fred’s father died in 1873. The following year, Fred's mother decided to return the family to Iowa, but Fred, then 13 years old, considered himself responsible for the family, so he decided to stay in California, where he would call upon his frontiersman skills to earn money for their support.
Henry Fielding was born in Somerset, England, 1707 to an aristocratic family which soon found itself out of money and out of luck. His mother died when he was ten, and his father, a General in King George's Army, died penniless not long after. At the age of 12, his maternal grandmother sent him to Eton for schooling, where he learned the art of writing, with an eye toward the satirical. In the summer of 1725, he and James Lewis, his servant, were involved in a brawl over Sara Andrews, a 15-year-old heiress with whom Henry was infatuated. Two months later, he convinced James to help him abduct Sara on her way to church along with another man named Andrew Tucker; they failed, and while the constables captured James not long after, Henry drew up some leaflets ridiculing Andrew and his family, posted them up about town, and then ran away.