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date: 21 April 2024


see also War
  1. War is the most exciting and dramatic thing in life. In fighting to the death you feel terribly relaxed when you manage to come through.
    Moshe Dayan 1915–81 Israeli statesman and general: in Observer 13 February 1972
  2. The singeing of the King of Spain's Beard.
    on the expedition to Cadiz, 1587
    Francis Drake c.1540–96 English sailor and explorer: Francis Bacon Considerations touching a War with Spain (1629)
  3. I fear we have only awakened a sleeping giant, and his reaction will be terrible.
    of the attack on Pearl Harbor
    Larry Forrester, Hideo Oguni, and Ryuzo Kikushima screenwriters: Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970 film); said by the Japanese admiral Isoruko Yamamoto, although there is no evidence that Yamamoto used these words; see Yamamoto
  4. Gentlemen of France, fire first.
    Lord Charles Hay c.1700–60 Scottish army officer: before the Battle of Fontenoy, 1745; Voltaire Siècle de Louis XIV (1751), where the wording is given as ‘Gentlemen of the French guards, open fire’
  5. Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy, if possible.
    his strategic motto during the Civil War
    Thomas Jonathan ‘Stonewall’ Jackson 1824–63 American Confederate general: M. Miner and H. Rawson American Heritage Dictionary of American Quotations (1997)
  6. Nine-tenths of tactics are certain, and taught in books; but the irrational tenth is like the kingfisher flashing across the pool, and that is the test of generals.
    T. E. Lawrence 1888–1935 English soldier and writer: ‘The Evolution of a Revolt’ in The Army Quarterly and Defence Journal October 1920
  7. J'y suis, j'y reste.
    Here I am, and here I stay.
    at the taking of the Malakoff fortress during the Crimean War, 8 September 1855
    Comte de MacMahon 1808–93 French soldier and statesman; President of the Third Republic, 1873–9: G. Hanotaux Histoire de la France Contemporaine (1903–8) vol. 2
  8. ¡Venid a ver la sangre
    Por las calles!
    Come and see the blood
    in the streets!
    Pablo Neruda 1904–73 Chilean poet: ‘I'm Explaining a Few Things’ (1947)
  9. Probably the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton, but the opening battles of all subsequent wars have been lost there.
    George Orwell 1903–50 English novelist: The Lion and the Unicorn (1941) pt. 1 ‘England Your England’; see Wellington
  10. If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
    Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
    Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
    Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
    My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
    To children ardent for some desperate glory,
    The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
    Pro patria mori.
    Wilfred Owen 1893–1918 English poet: ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ (1963 ed.); see Horace
  11. Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
    Or close the wall up with our English dead!
    In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
    As modest stillness and humility:
    But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
    Then imitate the action of the tiger;
    Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
    Disguise fair nature with hard-favoured rage.
    William Shakespeare 1564–1616 English dramatist: Henry V (1599) act 3, sc. 1, l. 1 (Oxford Standard Authors ed.); some editions prefer ‘conjure up the blood’
  12. I hae brocht ye to the ring, now see gif ye can dance.
    William Wallace c.1270–1305 Scottish national hero: before the battle of Falkirk, 1298; attributed in varying forms, including ‘…hop if ye can’; James MacKay William Wallace: Brave Heart (1996)
  13. A military man can scarcely pride himself on having ‘smitten a sleeping enemy’; in fact, to have it pointed out is more a matter of shame.
    Isoroku Yamamoto 1884–1943 Japanese admiral: letter, 9 January 1942; Hirosuki Asawa The Reluctant Admiral (1979, tr. John Bester); see Forrester, Oguni, and Kikushima