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Jan Zizka ,leader and commander of the Hussites

Jan Zizka, was a leader and a military commander who lead the Hussites in their struggles against the invading armies of the Holy Roman Empire led by Emperor Sigismund during the Hussite Wars (1419 – 1434).  The word "Zizka" in his name meant "single eyed" as believed that he had lost one of his eyes in a childhood fight. Zizka first saw action at the Battle of Grunwald in 1410, when he fought alongside with the Polish forces and repelled a detachment of German Teutonic Knights at the defense of Radyzn. Later, he was attatched to the Bohemian court and served under Queen Sophia of Bavaria.

The Roman Catholic Church’s execution by burning of Jan Hus, a Christian Reformer (one of the pioneers before the Protestant Reformation 1517) in 1415 through the Council of Constance and the suppression attempt imposed on all followers of Jan Hus which consists of most of the people of Bohemia brought dissatisfaction of Bohemians towards the Holy Roman Empire. The situation worsened in 1419, when a group of protesting Hussites led by Jan Zizka threw the town councillors  of Prague out of the window of the New Town Hall after they were refused by the town council to release a group of Hussite prisoners. The incident was known as the first "Defenestration of Prague". Following the incident, fighting broke out all over Bohemia between the Catholics (mostly Germans) and the Hussites in which Jan Zizka lead the Hussites into victory over the Catholic Royalist troops in the Battle of Nekmer (1419). However, the Hussites were later divided into two factions: the Utraquists and the Taborites. The Taborites faction lead by Jan Zizka left Prague and established their stronghold in Tabor, Southern Bohemia after securing another victory against the Catholic Royalist forces in the Battle of Sudomer in 1420.

The Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund, retaliated by calling for an Anti-Hussite Crusade to be launched against the Hussites in Bohemia. With the support of Pope Martin V, Emperor Sigismund managed to rally a vast army of crusaders and besieged Prague in 1420. The siege was however was lifted later for negotiations. However, the negotiations broke down when the Hussites’ demands which were stated on the "Four Articles of Prague" were rejected by Emperor Sigismund. Hostilities therefore continued . On the 1st of November 1420, the Hussites (combined forces of the Utraquists and Taborites) attacked and beseiged the castle of Vysehrad which was held by Royalist troops. Emperor Sigismund attempted to relieve the fortress, but was defeated by the Hussites near the village of Pankrac. The Royalist forces of the fortresses of Vysehrad and Hradcany finally surrendered to the Hussites after their reinforcements had failed to arrive and within a short time, the Hussites gained control over most of Bohemia.

Internal strife began to break out among the Hussites and one of them was a movement among the Taborites known as Adamites who were put down by Jan Zizka.  Soon, the Holy Roman Emperor rallied another crusade against the Hussites. The army of German crusaders entered Bohemia and besieged the town of Zatec in August 1421, however the attempt to capture Zatec had failed when they heard that Hussites reinforcements were approaching to relieve Zatec which made the crusaders to pull back. Later, Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund arrived in Bohemia with his army of crusaders attacked and captured the town of Kutna Hora. By that time, Jan Zizka who was the commander of the combined Hussite forces of  Utraquists and Taborites managed to defeat the Royalist forces at the decisive battle of Nemecky Brod (Deutschbrod) on January 6th 1422.  The Catholic Royalist forces, then pulled back and Bohemia enjoyed a brief time of peace.



However, the peace was short-lived as fighting broke out again among the
Utraquists and Taborites which resulted the defeat of the Utraquists at the Battle of Horice by Jan Zizka in April 1423. The two parties then made an armistice at Konopilt to cease all hostilities when they heard news that there were another crusade was rallied against them. However, the crusade was soon abandoned due to internal discord that arouse among the crusaders. When the crusaders’ threat was lifted, fighting broke out again among the Utraquist and the Taborite Hussites over the control of the city of Hradec Kralove in which the Taborites led by Jan Zizka won the victory over the Utraquists forces. Both parties later concluded a peace treaty at Liben Village, near Prague on 13 September 1424. Later, Jan Zizka led the newly reunited Hussite force in attempt to invade and capture Moravia which is under the influence of Emperor Sigismund. However, Jan Zizka died of plague at Pribyslav, near the Moravian frontier on 11 October 1424. Jan Zizka was so admired and respected by his soldiers that they called themselves "Orphans" after his death as they felt that they had lost their father. After Jan Zizka’s death the Hussites continued to resist their enemies until a peace treaty was signed by both parties to cease all hostilities on 5 July 1436 at Jihlava, Moravia, thus ending the Hussite Wars. Later, when the Protestant Reformation movement broke out in Europe in 1517, most Hussites adapted the Reformers teachings and doctrines and were included in the Protestant family.



Jan Zizka is hailed as a national hero by the people of Bohemia and modern Czechoslovakia. Jan Zizka’s soldiers were mostly peasants and he were
among the few commanders at that time that drafted women into their
fighting force. Besides that, the weapons used by his soldiers and most
of the Hussite forces were agricultural equipment modified as combat
weapons like the flail and the Wagenburg which is modified from farm
wagons to be used as mobile fortresses and troop transport. The
Hussites were also among the first to use the firearms in war, weapons
like the hand gun known as the "pistala" and the anti infantry field
guns, the "houfnice" which possibly where the English word "pistol" and
"howitzer" originated.
Jan Zizka’s innovative war tactics, the  Wagenburg, utilizing of infantry troops and use of fire arms had revolutionized military technology and tactics in his time.
 
Sources: Jan Zizka (Wikipedia)

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Hero of Dai Viet (Vietnam), General Tran Hung Dao

General Tran Hung Dao (later Prince) was the Grand Commander of the Tran Dynasty of Vietnam (at that time known as Dai Viet) who successfully repelled the Second and Third Mongol invasion of Dai Viet in 1285 and 1287. Originally named Tran Quoc Tuan, he was born at the dawn of the Tran Dynasty and was a member of the Tran royal family. When the Mongol first invaded Dai Viet in 1257, Tran was posted to the Northern border to counter the Mongol invasion. However the Mongol forces led by Commander Uriyankhadai attacked from Yunnan Province, China and broke through the Dai Viet border defenses and captured Dai Viet’s capital Thang Long (modern day Hanoi). The Mongols sacked Thang Long though it had already been abandoned by the Tran emperor. However, the Mongol army’s advance was bogged down due to tropical disease, heat and harassment from Vietnamese guerillas and added that their supplies were strained due to "scorched earth" tactics used by the Vietnamese. Uriyankahdai finally  withdrew his forces from Vietnam after the Tran emperor acknowledged the Mongol’s overlordship and agreed to pay tribute to the Mongol ruler. Peace lasted to the 1280s.

In 1285, Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan demanded the Tran Emperor, Tran Nhan Tong to grant passage for his troops through Dai Viet territory in order to reinforce his invading army at Champa, but the Tran emperor refused. In reprisal, Kublai Khan dispatched an army led by Prince Toghan to invade Dai Viet  who defeated the Dai Viet army and captured the capital Thang Long in June 1285, but the city had already been abandoned by the Tran emperor who had retreated southwards and had destroyed all facialities and supplies when they fled. As the Mongol army continued their advance down the Red River, they were ambushed by Dai Viet forces at Chuong Doung and were forced to retreat. Under the cover of their navy, the Mongol forces suffered lesser casualties and managed to pull back to China. Meanwhile, the isolated Mongol vanguard of the Champa invasion force were wiped out by General Tran Hung Dao, thus foiling the Mongol’s plans to conquer Dai Viet and Champa. The Mongols had failed for the second time to capture Dai Viet at the peak of their power.

Two years later, Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan again despatched Prince Toghan and an army of 500,000 troops supported by a naval force of 500 warships commanded by Omar to invade Dai Viet again. During the early stage of the invasion, the Mongol ground forces broke through the Vietnamese border defenses and linked up with their navy vanguard who were at Van Don in order to advance to Thang Long, the capital of Dai Viet. The combined Mongol army and navy forces then proceeded to overrun Thang Long. However, the renmants of the defeated Dai Viet army led by General Tran Khanh Dur had managed to regrouped, counter-attacked and captured the Mongol supply fleet who had not regrouped with their main invasion force. At the mean time, General Tran Hung Dao also led another force to counterattacked the Mongol forces who were still advancing towards the capital. The capital, Thang Long was immediately abandoned by the Tran emperor. However, as their supply fleet was lost, the Mongol invasion force was forced to withdraw, the ground force, led by Prince Toghan would withdrew via Noi Bang while the naval forces led by Commander Omar would withdrew through Bach Dang River. 

 

However, unknown to the retreating Mongol forces, the Dai Viet forces had set a trap for them for their destruction. General Tran Hung Dao, for months earlier had ordered that huge seel-tipped wooden stakes to be implanted at the river bed under the cover of the high tide. As the Mongol navy was retreating at Bach Dang River, General Tran Hing Dao sent a small force to engage the Mongol fleet and pretended to retreat in order to lure them into their trap. Unaware of the trap set for them, the Mongol fleet pursued the retreating Dai Viet forces until they were caught in the pre arranged trap when the river tide receded. Most of the Mongol ships were either sunk or badly damaged by those embedded stakes. Seizing the opportunity, General Tran ordered his vessels to attacked the trapped Mongol fleet and burned off around 400 Mongol ships. Only a renmant of the ships managed to escape the onslaught by fleeing towards the sea and headed for home. The Mongol fleet commander, Omar was captured and was executed. Meanwhile, the Mongol ground forces under Prince Toghan also suffered heavy casualties due to guerilla attacks and counter attacks by Dai Viet forces as they retreated back to China via Noi Bang, however Prince Toghan managed to escape back to China unscatched.

Though the Dai Viet had triumphed over the powerful Mongol empire for three times, the Dai Viet emperor agreed to accept the Mongol overlordship and agreed to pay annual tribute to the Mongol court. But, for General Tran Hung Dao, he was regarded by the Vietnamese as a national hero who had prevented the Mongol conquest of Vietnam for two times. Most of his soldiers were poorly equipped volunteers and peasants, yet through his strategic brilliance, and "hit and run" tactics and his masterifng over strategic geographical fighting,  he managed to defeat the Mongol hordes at their peak of their power and thus preserved Dai Viet’s independance. General Tran Hung Dao’s speech, "Proclamation to the Officers" at the dawn of the Mongol Second Invasion in 1285 was among one of his writings which motivated his soldiers to resist the powerful Mongols.  General Tran Hung Dao died of natural causes at the age of 73 in 1300 and was posthumously awarded the title "Hung Dao Dai Voung" or Grand Prince Hung Dao. His advice to the Dai Viet emperor before his death was: "When the enemy advances roaring like fire and wind, it is easy to overcome them. Should they use patience like the silkworm nibbling berry leaves without looking for a quick victory and without fleecing the people, we need not only skilled generals, but also a detailed analysis for adequate tactics in order to apply it in the situation just as in a chess (Weiqi or Go) game. On the other hand, the army should be united with the same heart just as father and sons in a family. The people should be treated humanely, for their loyalty to be deeply rooted in order to safe guard the country’s freedom." This advice were used several times as a reference for the Vietnamese  in their struggle for their nation’s independence and to safe guard their nation’s sovereignity.
 

Sources: Wikipedia: Tran Hung Dao

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Admiral Yi Sun Sin , hero of the Imjin War (1592 – 1598)


Admiral Yi Sun-Sin (April 28, 1545 – December 16, 1598) was regarded as a national hero by Koreans for his naval victories in the Imjin War or The Seven Years War. The war was sparked by Japanese daimyo, Toyotomi Hideyoshi in an attempt to conquer Ming China via Korea (then Joseon) with the intention to establish Japanese supremacy over the Far East. At first, the Japanese made swift progress by conquering most of Korea, however the Japanese rely heavily on the seas for supplies. Seizing this advantage, Admiral Yi, led his navy to attack the Japanese supply lines in order to foil their conquest of Korea. One of the most effective weapon which were used by Admiral Yi used against the Japanese navy was the "geobukseon" or "turtle ship". The "turtle ship" was one of the most innovative weapon in the Korean Navy’s arsenal. The "turtle ships" were actually modified standard battleship, which had completely covered deck with iron spikes at the top to prevent the enemy from boarding. A dragon head was mounted on the bow where sulphur smoke were emitted out for hiding it’s movement from the enemy’s visual during close combat. Besides it also served as a means of psychological warfare. 

Yi was not trained to be a naval commander or attend any military academy and his only military experience was fighting the Jurchen nomad invaders from Manchuria, yet throughout the war and his military career, Admiral Yi had neither lost a single battle or lost any of ship under his command. His first naval victory was the Battle of Okpo which was also his first naval battle. He along with his Ming Chinese allies together fought several other naval battles and won. One of them was the decisive Battle of Hansando. Admiral Yi was finally killed in action by a stray bullet at the Battle of Noryang Point, the last naval battle which forced the Japanese to withdraw from Korea. Before he died, he ordered that his death to be kept secret until the battle is over.


Despite Admiral Yi’s efforts in defending his nation’s freedom, he was not popular among the court officials, including King Seonjo who were suspicious that the admiral would gained political influence and posed a threat to his throne. He and the other court officials had at least two times attempted to dispose the admiral by death sentence. It was only with the help of Yi’s friend, Prime Minister Yu  Seong-ryong, Yi was spared the death sentence for two times. However, Admiral Yi was loved by the people and his fellow soldiers for his kindness and gratitude to them throughout the war besides his military achievements. Admiral Yi was awarded posthumously on the following titles and offices:

The Joseon Court
1. Martial Lord of Loyalty (Chungmugong)
2. Seonjo reign’s First-class military order of merit (Seonmu Ildeung Gongsin)
3. Prime Minister (Yeonguijeong)
4. Prince of the Court of Deokpung (Deokpung Buwongun)

The Ming Court of China

1. Fleet Admiral of Ming China (Yumyeong Sugun Dodok)

Admiral Yi Sun Sin recorded down all his war experience and the events of the Imjin War in his war diary, Nanjung Ilgi ( War Diary of Admiral Yi Sun Sin). Royal Navy Admiral George Alexander Ballard (1862-1948) highly commended Admiral Yi Sun Sin in his book, The Influence of the Sea on the Political History of Japan and even compared him to Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson of the Royal Navy. Imperial Japanese Navy, admiral Tetsutaro Sato also commended Admiral Yi in his book, A Military History of the Empire (1908) by stating that Yi was even better than Dutch Admiral Michiel de Ruyter and British Royal Navy Vice Admiral Nelson. Sato even mentioned that Admiral Yi Sun Sin was the inventor of the covered warship known as the turtle ship and Yi was a great commander and a master of naval tactics of that time. 

    

"If we are willing to fight to death, we shall live, if not we shall perish" – Admiral Yi Sun-Sin                                       
                                                                                                                                                      
KBS had produced a TV mini series of 104 episodes in 2004 based on Admiral Yi Sun Sin’s life titled "The Immortal Yi Sun-Sin". Please click this link to view some of the scenes including the turtle ships in action. 

Sources from Wikipedia: Yi Sun-Sin

Links: Chungmugong Yi Sun-Sin

            Chungmugong Yi Sun-Sin (Chinese Version)                                    

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Kuala Lumpur World War II Trail Tour

Kuala Lumpur World War II Trail Tour

Interested in experience or seeing Kuala Lumpur in another perspective besides the popular destinations and activities? Perhaps this is one option you can consider: The Kuala Lumpur World War II Trail Tour. This four hour historic tour would bring you back in time what, when and where in Kuala Lumpur during Japanese Occupation in World War II. It would be a memorable and educational tour for everyone who join as well as an eye opening tour for World War II enthusiasts.

Tours would be conducted in either English, Mandarin Chinese or Japanese.

Interested?

Kindly please contact Mr. George CCYong :

Hand Phone no.: +60193375329
                    or
E-mail: propstation@po.jaring.my
  
For a copy of the tour itinerary, kindly please click here

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Heroine Sybil Kathigasu Clinic, Papan, Perak, Malaysia

 

          Sybil’s Clinic Papan

No.74, Jalan Besar,
Papan (Lama),
31500 PUSING.
 
Half an hour out of Ipoh, Sybil’s Clinic in Papan is the very shophouse where Sybil and family found refuge during the Japanese Occuapation of Malaya, World War Two. It is now a memorial to Sybil Kathigasu – A Heroine in Our Time. This partially restored shophouse hosts two small
exhibitions; on Sybil and Papan. It is well worth a visit.

Visit by appointment. No entrance fee but donation appreciated. Guided walk of Papan can be arranged.
Open most weekends.
Call Hong: 017.506 1875
or email ahead of visit: siakhongstudio@yahoo.com
 
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