From *The Telegraph*, November 4, 2012:
http://tinyurl.com/coubmhp (note the map)
British have invaded nine out of ten countries - so look out Luxembourg
Britain has invaded all but 22 countries in the world in its long and
colourful history, new research has found.
By Jasper Copping
9:30AM GMT 04 Nov 2012
Every schoolboy used to know that at the height of the empire, almost a
quarter of the atlas was coloured pink, showing the extent of British rule.
But that oft recited fact dramatically understates the remarkable global
reach achieved by this country.
A new study has found that at various times the British have invaded almost
90 per cent of the countries around the globe.
The analysis of the histories of the almost 200 countries in the world
found only 22 which have never experienced an invasion by the British.
Among this select group of nations are far-off destinations such as
Guatemala, Tajikistan and the Marshall Islands, as well some slightly
closer to home, such as Luxembourg.
The analysis is contained in a new book, All the Countries We've Ever
Invaded: And the Few We Never Got Round To.
Stuart Laycock, the author, has worked his way around the globe, through
each country alphabetically, researching its history to establish whether,
at any point, they have experienced an incursion by Britain.
Only a comparatively small proportion of the total in Mr Laycock's list of
invaded states actually formed an official part of the empire.
The remainder have been included because the British were found to have
achieved some sort of military presence in the territory--however
transitory--either through force, the threat of force, negotiation or
Incursions by British pirates, privateers or armed explorers have also been
included, provided they were operating with the approval of their
So, many countries which once formed part of the Spanish empire and seem to
have little historical connection with the UK, such as Costa Rica, Ecuador
and El Salvador, make the list because of the repeated raids they suffered
from state-sanctioned British sailors.
Among some of the perhaps surprising entries [not of course surprising to
soc.history.what-if participants, who for example have long discussed the
British in Cuba--DT] on the list are:
* Cuba, where in 1741, a force under Admiral Edward Vernon stormed ashore
at Guantánamo Bay. He renamed it Cumberland Bay, before being forced to
withdraw in the face of hostile locals and an outbreak of disease among his
men. Twenty one years later, Havana and a large part of the island fell to
the British after a bloody siege, only to be handed back to the Spanish in
1763, along with another unlikely British possession, the Philippines, in
exchange for Florida and Minorca.
*Iceland, invaded in 1940 by the British after the neutral nation refused
to enter the war on the Allies side. The invasion force, of 745 marines,
met with strong protest from the Iceland government, but no resistance.
* Vietnam, which has experienced repeated incursions by the British since
the seventeenth century. The most recent--from 1945 to 1946--saw the
British fight a campaign for control of the country against communists, in
a war that has been overshadowed by later conflicts involving first the
French and then Americans.
It is thought to be the first time such a list has been compiled.
Mr Laycock, who has previously published books on Roman history, began the
unusual quest after being asked by his 11-year-old son, Frederick, how many
countries the British had invaded.
After almost two years of research he said he was shocked by the answer. "I
was absolutely staggered when I reached the total. I like to think I have a
relatively good general knowledge. But there are places where it hadn't
occurred to me that these things had ever happened. It shocked me.
"Other countries could write similar books--but they would be much shorter.
I don't think anyone could match this, although the Americans had a later
start and have been working hard on it in the twentieth century."
The only other nation which has achieved anything approaching the British
total, Mr Laycock said, is France--which also holds the unfortunate record
for having endured the most British invasions. "I realise people may argue
with some of my reasons, but it is intended to prompt debate," he added.
He believes the actual figure may well be higher and is inviting the public
to get in touch to provide evidence of other invasions.
In the case of Mongolia, for instance--one of the 22 nations "not invaded",
according to the book--he believes it possible that there could have been a
British invasion, but could find no direct proof.
The country was caught up in the turmoil following the Russian Revolution,
in which the British and other powers intervened. Mr Laycock found evidence
of a British military mission in Russia approximately 50 miles from the
Mongolian border, but could not establish whether it got any closer.
The research lists countries based on their current national boundaries and
names. Many of the invasions took place when these did not apply.
The research covered the 192 other UN member states as well as the Vatican
City and Kosovo, which are not member states, but are recognised by the UK
government as independent states.
The earliest invasion launched from these islands was an incursion into
Gaul--now France--at the end of the second century. Clodius Albinus led an
army, thought to include many Britons, across the Channel in an attempt to
seize the imperial throne. The force was defeated in 197 at Lyon.
Mr Laycock added: "One one level, for the British, it is quite amazing and
quite humbling, that this is all part of our history, but clearly there are
parts of our history that we are less proud of. The book is not intended as
any kind of moral judgment on our history or our empire. It is meant as a
light-hearted bit of fun."
The countries never invaded by the British:
Central African Republic
Congo, Republic of
Sao Tome and Principe
OK, how about some scenarios of the British invading some of these
countries? Mongolia is perhaps the easiest--maybe if Garid were still
posting here, he would prove that the British really *did* intervene there
during the Russian Civil War...As for Tajikistan and Uzebekistan, see my
where I note that "The closest the British had come to intervention in
Turkestan was Malleson's moving into Transcaspia [in what is now
Turkmenistan--hence Turkmenistan is not one of the 22--DT] in 1918, and
this was very brief--already by February 1919 the troops had been ordered
to evacuate." As I also note, effective British support for the Basmachis
(who were fighting the Bolsheviks in what is now Uzbekistan and Tajikistan)
would be difficult because it would presumably have to go through
Afghanistan, and "The Afghans were suspicious of the British as well as of
the Bolsheviks." And of course the pan-Turkist and pan-Islamist ideologies
of some Basmachi leaders would not exactly appeal to the British.
Some other ideas: Wasn't Britain aligned against Sweden in the Great
Northern War from 1715-1719? Could this have led to a British invasion of
Sweden (within Sweden's current borders)? How about a British invasion of
Guatemala (and yes, I know the US will oppose it, but let's say the US is
preoccupied with its own civil war--which need not be the ACW of OTL) due
to the dispute over Belize? As for the Ivory Coast, could there have been
a British-Vichy clash there during World War II?
Any other thoughts?