Every now and then it seems like the Earth gets sick and tired of all the senseless fighting. So she steps in and takes care of things herself; either by forcing people to retreat or by wiping out entire armies all together. And it can be through storms, hurricanes or whatever natural disaster seems appropriate at the time. Here are five moments where Mother Nature put humans on timeout.
1. Bad Weather Stopped the Germans from Destroying the Allies at Dunkirk
During the two-week Battle of Dunkirk in 1940, the Allies fled to the port of Dunkirk following a series of defeats. The Germans could have taken advantage of the Allies being backed into a corner, but decided to hold off instead. The Germans were supposed to jump back into action the next day but that never happened either. Many people believed this was due to the heavy rainfall, low clouds and thunderous weather.
2. The Russian Winter of 1709 Ended Sweden’s Era as a Superpower
The Swedish had a thing for decimating larger opponents which is what probably led to their gross misjudgment in this particular fight. The Russians, knowing winter was approaching, burned down their enemy’s villages and raided their supplies. As mentioned earlier, winter was nearing close and it also happened to be an especially harsh one. The Swedish soldiers stood no chance and approximately 2,000 of them froze in just one night. The rest tried to face the Russians but it was a futile effort. In the end, only 543 Swedish soldiers were left.
3. A Storm Ended France’s Invasion of Ireland
On December 15, 1796, a French force of 15,000 set sail for Ireland where they hoped to team up with the Irish against their fight with Britain. The two had a common enemy and France hoped to use Ireland as an ally. Only halfway into their journey, a terrible storm put a damper on their plans and many of the ships and troops including their General Hoche were missing- he managed to make it to Ireland. Fearing the weather was going to get worse, Hoche turned tails and retreated back to France.
4. A Typhoon Thwarted Mongol Attempt to Invade Japan
In this story, Mother Nature stepped in not once, but twice, to make her message clear. In 1274, a fleet of Mongol warriors of 500 to 900 vessels with 30,000 to 40,000 soldiers left China for Japan. While anchored in Hakata Bay waiting for their enemies, the Mongols were decimated by a typhoon, losing a third of their army. Unbothered, the Mongols returned in 1281 with 4,400 ships and 140,000 soldiers, only to be wiped out again by another typhoon. The Japanese wasted no time finishing them off. They saw it as a sign of God and referred to the typhoon as “kamikaze” or “divine wind.”
5. A Disastrous Storm Destroyed the Spanish Armada Attempting to Invade Britain
Tired of the protestant Queen Elizabeth, King Philip II plotted an invasion to get rid of her and to replace her with a Roman Catholic ruler. Britain caught wind of the operation and intercepted them near the coast of Plymouth. The battle drew on for a long time with no victory in sight until a storm stepped in and threw the Spaniard ships off course from Flanders, way out into the sea. As they abandoned the battle, the storm continued to batter the armada, destroying 30 of their 60 ships and half of their 30,000 troops.
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