Brits at their Best.com: British History, Culture & Sports, History of Freedom, Heroes, Inventors

 

Montage of Churchill, River Thames, his wife Clementine, and a rider on horseback

GOING THROUGH HELL

"Famous men are usually the product of an unhappy childhood," Winston Churchill once wrote, and this was certainly his experience. Nevertheless, he was elated by courage and beauty, and determined to protect, as best he knew how, the thing he loved more than life even if it meant going through hell several times.

 

Elephant Island off Antarctica

Elephant Island off the coast of Antarctica

EXTREME JOURNEYS

Scott, Shackleton, Wilson, Mawson, and Cherry-Garrard take the most severe punishment on earth in the hope of scientific discovery. Living on a relentless diet of tea, biscuits and pemmican, they are cheerfully defiant of icy storms, snow blindness, exhaustion, and gangrene. National Geographic calls Cherry-Garrard's description of their travels in Antarctica the number one adventure book of all time.

 

Two clasped hands

BEING A FRIEND
ALBAN

 

Iona

PASSING THE TORCH

COLUM CILLE AND IONA

 

ALFRED with scroll and axe

FINDING A DOOR INTO THE LIGHT
ALFRED THE GREAT

 

Major Alexis Roberts
GALLANT IN DEED

 

Montfort in armour

Heroes of parliamentary democracy

MONTFORT & THE BACHELORS OF ENGLAND

Pioneer Pilot Beryl Markham smiles as she stands at door of plane

Beryl Markham

"TWENDE TU" (I am going)

Winning horse races, setting flying records, taking her small plane into the African bush on rescue missions, Beryl Markham lives an odyssey, and finds the Homer who will describe it to the world.

Gerald Durrell lovingly holds tiny monkeys

Gerald Durrell
Wildlife Preservation Canada »

HIS FAMILY OF ANIMALS

Gerald Durrell's hilarious adventures have a transcendent purpose. His mission is to save animals from extinction, a vocation that begins when he is a boy and that he describes in a series of unforgettable books and films.

Allied paratroopers land in Netherlands during World War II

ARMED WITH AN UMBRELLA

During World War II, Digby Tatham-Warter and fellow Brits parachute into the Netherlands and hold off a SS Panzer Division at the Arnhem Bridge.

Light shining in trees

Anselm confronted several Kings

ANSELM & THE RED KING

The man who confronted the Red King, freed British slaves, and helped to establish the Charter of Liberties.

Baby smiling


YOUR TRUE FACE
Aidan confronts gang-warfare in 7th century Britain.

Two World Trade Center towers hit by planes on 9-11-2001

World Trade Center, NY, 9-11-01, Public TV

STOP CRYING
On the morning of 9-11 one indomitable Brit is in the south tower of the World Trade Center. 

Edith Cavell

Edith Cavell

NO WONDER THEY'RE GREAT IF THEIR WOMEN
ARE LIKE THAT

When Germany invades Belgium in the First World War, Edith Cavell nurses the wounded regardless of nationality. As Allied troops retreat, she helps hunted British soldiers escape, though she knows her punishment if she is caught is the firing squad. She is not alone. There are thousands of British women who brave battlefields to help injured and dying men. A few of their stories can be read here.

 

Old map of the world with compass

In Elizabethan England, little was known, much was dreamed.

ARMCHAIR ADVENTURER

The Elizabethan who does more to send Brits around the world than any other man.

Close up of Baroness Cox, dark-haired and smiling slightly

Baroness Cox of Queensbury
Photo: SAT -7 Trust »

NEVER ALONE

In the most war-torn, desperate lands on earth, Baroness Cox risks her life to bring medical supplies, food, and hope. Along the way she makes implacable enemies and steadfast friends.

 

Statue of Nelson

A HEROIC POINT OF VIEW

In the early 19th century, Horatio Nelson saved Britain from Napoleonic invasion. Here is a brief look at how Nelson thinks.

Celtic Cross

PATRICK, SAINT OF SECOND CHANCES
Kidnapped as a child and made a slave, he faces his greatest fear, returns to the land of his bondage, and leads the Irish toward community, self-sufficiency, and freedom.

Schoolboys larking

TEACHERS AS HEROES

Heroes because of what they risked and what they gave, Richard Dawes and George Hogg are but two of that host of teachers who metaphorically and actually saved the lives of their students.

Mary 'Ma' Slessor

Persuading cannibals to live differently.

Coming

THE EMPTY QUARTER

In the 1940s, only a few white men had ever seen the Empty Quarter, now known as the southern Arabian desert. Living with the Bedouin, Wilfred Thesiger, explores its wilderness on foot and on camel. He lives in a vanished mediaeval world where death is a brother.

BROTHERS IN ARMS

The Gurkhas, called the ‘bravest of the brave’ by their Brit soldier brothers, fight fearlessly for liberty.

SECRET OPERATIONS

Flights of imagination are crucial to the success of the Ukrainian vodka caper; to the World War II naval intelligence coups led by Ian Fleming, future creator of James Bond; and to Frank Foley’s effectiveness in derailing the Nazi’s bomb research while running an underground railroad to help Jews escape from Berlin.

THE ONE AND ONLY  

Proving that the most ‘ordinary’ people can become heroes, men and women like Richard Dawes, Trevor Huddleston, and Sue Ryder rescue children, sometimes in unpredictable ways.

THE MOUNTAIN SO HIGH NO BIRD CAN FLY OVER IT           

Brits and Sherpas conquer Everest with superb preparation, teamwork, and unparalleled physical effort. Hilary and Tenzing walk in the in the footsteps of Mallory and Irvine, who never returned from the mountain. Young Brits like Oliver Burr, who fought off myalgic encephalomyelitis to reach the summit, walk in their shadow

THE TWELVE CHARACTERISTICS OF A BRIT HERO

Every essential characteristic is listed along with the inspirational sources of heroism.

AFRICAN ADVENTURES

Dressed like the Victorian lady she is, Mary Kingsley investigates fetishes and sacrificial rites, and tackles spear traps and crocodiles with understatement and good humour. Equally stoic in facing hardship, Mungo Park leaves one of the most shocking pieces of travel accounts ever written.  His fate at the fabled city of Tellem remains a mystery.

ON THE RUN

William Penn, courageous and surprisingly witty, fights for free juries; goes unarmed to negotiate with Indian tribes; and finds himself on the run in the slums of London. Before he dies he establishes Pennsylvania with a free local government and freedom of religion. His treaties with the Indians are never broken.

INTO THE HEART OF AFRICA

For at least two thousand years men had tried without success to find the source of the Nile. Born in Devonshire, commissioned in the British Indian Army, John Speke travelled through Tibet and the Himalaya before joining Richard Burton's party in exploring Somaliland in 1855. Speke is severely wounded in an attack, but manages to catch up with the expedition on the island of Zanzibar. The two explorers are determined to find the great lake that is said to lie in the heart of Africa. They reach and explore Lake Tanganyika, then Speke leaves Burton and heads north alone. In 1858 he reaches and names the great Lake Victoria, and identifies it as the source of the Nile. He proves his thesis in a second expedition in 1860, which is as full of exciting exploits as his first.

DIVING INTO THE TSUNAMI       

An injured fireman on vacation in Thailand rescues women and children from the colossal wave.

Hoping

There are hundreds of heroes and adventurers we have not written about. We hope you will tell us about the heroes you love, and want to see described here. To email us

 

 

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English bulldog puppy

 

Copyright 2006, 2007, 2008 David Abbott & Catherine Glass