39 episodes

I'm Cullen Burke and this is Cauldron, a history of the world battle by battle. Every two weeks I'll cover the important battles in history and then hash out listener theories and thoughts on how the world would look if the outcome were different.

Cauldron Cullen Burke

    • History

I'm Cullen Burke and this is Cauldron, a history of the world battle by battle. Every two weeks I'll cover the important battles in history and then hash out listener theories and thoughts on how the world would look if the outcome were different.

    “The General Who Wept” - Battle of Passchendaele - Jul 31, 1917 – Nov 10, 1917

    “The General Who Wept” - Battle of Passchendaele - Jul 31, 1917 – Nov 10, 1917

    “Harry Devers leaned up against the bonnet of his muddy, dinged up and dented Vauxhall D-type. The large, boxy staff car had a certain beauty and grace to it, and Harry had been in enough close-run situations while driving her that he'd grown to trust her. Of course, that hadn't always been the case…”

    This is the tale of the "General that Wept," a famous story that comes from the First World War. First reported by B.H.Lidell Hart and the corroborated in David Lloyd George's memoirs, the story tells of a decision making officer that was driven to the front lines at the end of Passchendaele. The man was a respected paper pusher and more a soldier of theory than of mud. So far removed from the realities of the war he was directing was this man that upon seeing the front, he uttered the famous question, "We sent men to fight in that?" The story goes that his driver, a veteran of the battle, responded laconically, "It gets worse farther up."

    The people involved and even the veracity of the story has been debated since first reported. Regardless of the truth, the tale has stuck in our collective memory of the war. The idea of "lions led by donkeys" was solidified by this apparent evidence and has been a considerable narrative of the Great War ever since. Whether or not it occurred, at this stage, doesn't matter. What matters is that for decades, the idea that the men in charge of making the decisions on the Western Front seemed oblivious to the horrors they ordered.

    Harry Devers is a fictional soldier. Through him, I thought it would be interesting to reimagine this famous tale from the muddy front itself. Any errors are mine and unintentional.

    • 18 min
    I Died In Hell (Part 2) - Battle of Passchendaele - Jul 31, 1917 – Nov 10, 1917

    I Died In Hell (Part 2) - Battle of Passchendaele - Jul 31, 1917 – Nov 10, 1917

    Years of artillery fire in both directions had cratered the Ypres salient into a lunar landscape. And remember these craters rapidly filled with water from below and rain from above. The rain at Passchendaele went on and off for the entirety of the offensive. August historically a dry month, in 1917, full of rain and damp, moist weather. Everything and everyone was wet all the time; even on rain-free days, the men couldn't dry-out because they were sitting in muddy holes. Robert Sherriff of the East Surrey Reg wrote, "The living conditions in our camp were sordid beyond belief. The cookhouse was flooded, and most of the food was uneatable. There was nothing but sodden biscuits and cold stew. The cooks tried to supply bacon for breakfast, but the men complained that it smelled like dead men...At dawn, on the morning of the attack, the battalion assembled in the mud outside the huts. I lined up my platoon and went through the necessary inspection. Some of the men looked terribly ill: grey, worn faces in the dawn, unshaved and dirty because there was no clean water. I saw the characteristic shrugging of their shoulders that I knew so well. They hadn't had their clothes off for weeks, and their shirts were full of lice."

    • 1 hr 2 min
    I Died In Hell (Part 1) - Battle of Passchendaele - Jul 31, 1917 – Nov 10, 1917

    I Died In Hell (Part 1) - Battle of Passchendaele - Jul 31, 1917 – Nov 10, 1917

    The English Poet Siegfried Sassoon famously wrote: “I died in hell (They called it Passchendaele).” The First World War was an incubator for man-made hellscapes and mechanized death. Each passing season brought some new horrid way for mankind to inflict suffering on itself. Like Dante’s Inferno, each fresh hell had a name; the Marne, Mons, Verdun, the Somme, Tannenberg, Gallipoli, Izonso, the Kaisershlacht. But of these now infamous names, no battle of the Great War was quite like the human experience at Passchendaele. The Third Battle of Ypres played out like a fever dream, full of ghastly visions, insane scenery, and the theater of the macabre. Most of our mental picture of the war - bodies or parts of bodies lying still in rolls of barbed wire, bloated horse bellies half-submerged in the inky water of shell craters, men ordered by fools to be cut down for nothing but a few measly yards- most of this comes from Passchendaele. It’s odd then that this titanic slugfest, the ultimate test of man vs. man vs. nature, has gone somewhat forgotten. The memory of Passchendaele has been replaced in France with the blood and rubble of Verdun, in Great Britain with the sadly romantic Somme, in the U.S. by the bravery of Belleau Wood, in Germany by those murderous final offensives. For those that lived in the mud, though, the memory of that place was seared into the minds forever. It’s for those men, on both sides, now likely all past, that we remember that there was once a place on earth that men called hell. And there they went to die.

    • 53 min
    Young Derfel - Battle of Stamford Bridge 1066

    Young Derfel - Battle of Stamford Bridge 1066

    Young Derfel is not much of a fighter, but he is a problem solver. This problem solving comes in handy when Derfel finds himself in the front ranks with men, pushed towards certain death. In front of Derfel stands a great Viking warrior. The Norseman is killing all who attempt to cross the bridge at Stamford. King Harold Godwinson needs to move quickly, though, and crossing the bridge to destroy the Norwegian invaders is essential to the king’s defense of the realm. Can Derrfel find the warrior’s spirit within himself? How can the last and fiercest of the Norsemen be beaten? Will Young Derfel survive the encounter? Find out in this week’s episode!

    • 17 min
    Attack of the Dead Men, "Angel's Glow", and More! The Halloween Special

    Attack of the Dead Men, "Angel's Glow", and More! The Halloween Special

    In this creepy quick hit, we cover some weird stories from the history of warfare. A zombie-like attack in WWI that would shock even George Romero himself. A mysterious green glow on the wounded at the battle of Shiloh. A listener has a tale that involves the Yom Kippur War and an uncanny coincidence. Alright, let's get stuck in!

    • 29 min
    A Viking Swan Song - The Battle of Stamford Bridge September 25th 1066

    A Viking Swan Song - The Battle of Stamford Bridge September 25th 1066

    At the outset of the battle, several mailed horsemen rode up to the Viking lines. Tostig Godwinson moved up to hear what the Anglo Saxon riders had tot say. The leader of the men was his brother, King Harold, and he offered Tostig peace and his life. When Tostig asked what the King offered to his ally, Harald Hardcounsel, the King, responded, "Six feet of English ground, and then some more as he is taller than most men." With this little quip, the second most important battle in English history began. At Stamford Bridge, the fate of the Viking World hinged, and the future of the rest of the world was changed. Enjoy and send me your "What If?" theories!

    • 45 min

Customer Reviews

timmy2bop ,

Awesome podcast if your a history buff

Awesome podcast, love listening on long trips for work. Highly recommend if your a history lover and military head

njm2019 ,

👍

Definitely worth a listen

Magyarbertie56 ,

Aussie fan

Excellent presentation and well researched. Highly recommended.

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