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Fort Halliday

Great Court, British Museum Had a quick trip to London, purely for pleasure, on Friday and Saturday. Three of us drove up to meet up with a fourth friend who lives up there, and on the Saturday morning we all went seperate ways to do our own things. I spent an hour in the British Museum, then went to a couple of military history bookshops to find a copy of No. 95 in the Men at Arms series. This is a handy visual guide to the typical clothing of the various fighters in the Boxer Rebellion. I've been using the local library's copy but decided I really needed my own. No. 95 was nowhere to be found and the man behind the desk at Motor Books told me it had been out of stock for some time, so may be being reprinted. (Anyone thinking comic shops are a male preserve should try military history bookshops or departments.)

Eventually, with the aid of a father and son in the military history section of Foyles, I found the related Campaign No. 85 : Peking 1900 which is full of photographs and battle maps, including the first really clear map I've found of the inside of the British Legation. I didn't look at it until this morning, over my breakfast tea. I nearly spluttered my breakfast everywhere when I checked the map.

I've mentioned before the valiant Capt Lewis Stratford Tollemache Halliday of the Royal Marines who, having been shot in the shoulder and lung, ordered his men to "carry on and not mind me" before wallking back unaided to the makeshift hospital. I'd decided not to mention him by name in Warring States, on account of feeling a bit silly having my own family name within a book. It's not like it's 'Smith' or 'Jones'. Looking at the lovely big battlefield map, I discovered that the hastily built ramparts about the British Legation entrance - an entrance referenced quite often in the novel - were called 'Fort Halliday', on account of being under his control. So, should I rename it or go with historical accuracy?

Posted @ 10:17 am on Sunday, November 14, 2004
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