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2018: Battles

This year the code was based on historic battles. Each date represents a battle which took place or began on that date, and thus the initial letter of the battle’s name. The sequence of these letters spell out the message.

Front page

Front page of 2018 card

This translates as:

15 May 1464


Fought near the town of Hexham in Northumberland, this battle marked the end of significant Lancastrian resistance in the north of England during the early part of the reign of Edward IV in the Wars of the Roses.

25 October 1415


This was a major English victory in northern France during the Hundred Years War. Shakespeare puts into the mouth of King Henry V of England the words “And gentlemen in England now a-bed / Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here, / And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks / That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.”

12 October 1917


The First Battle of Passchendaele took place in the Ypres Salient of the Western Front, part of the Third Battle of Ypres in World War I.

7 December 1941

Pearl Harbor

This battle was a surprise morning military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service against the United States naval base in Hawaii. It led to the United States’ entry into World War II.

5 April 1862


This was fought as part of the Peninsula Campaign of the American Civil War in York County, Virginia.

16 April 1746


This was the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745. The Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart were decisively defeated by Hanoverian forces supporting George I.

14 October 1066


This battle was a decisive victory by the invading Norman-French army of William, Duke of Normandy (later “the Conqueror”) over an English army under the Anglo-Saxon King Harold Godwinson. The site was close to the town now called Battle in East Sussex.

22 January 1879

Rorke’s Drift

The defence of the mission station of Rorke’s Drift, in the Anglo-Zulu War, following British army’s defeat at the Battle of Isandlwana on the same day.

19 February 1945

Iwo Jima

The United States Marine Corps landed on and eventually captured the island of Iwo Jima in the Japanese Volcano Islands from the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.

6 July 1685


Fought at Westonzoyland near Bridgwater in Somerset, this was the final battle of the Monmouth Rebellion, between the rebel forces of James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth, and the victorious Royal Army of James II of England.

21 October 1805


A naval engagement fought between the successful British Royal Navy against the combined fleets of the French and Spanish Navies, during the War of the Third Coalition of the Napoleonic Wars, it took place in the Atlantic Ocean off the south-west coast of Spain, just west of Cape Trafalgar.

490 BCE


Fought between the citizens of Athens and a Persian force during the first Persian invasion of Greece, it was the culmination of the first, unsuccessful attempt by Persia subjugate Greece in the Greco-Persian Wars.

7 June 1798


Fought in County Antrim in (now Northern) Ireland during the Irish Rebellion of 1798 between successful British troops and Irish insurgents.

24 June 1859


A victory of the Franco-Sardinian Alliance against the Austrian Army, it was the last major battle in world history where all the armies were under the personal command of their monarchs. It was a decisive engagement in the Second Italian War of Independence, a crucial step in the Italian Risorgimento, or unification.

– giving:


Inside page

Inside page of 2018 card

This translates as:

17 September 1944


A major battle of World War II, fought in and around the Dutch town of Arnhem, it aimed to secure a series of nine bridges that could have provided an Allied invasion route into Germany. It failed in its attempt to secure the last bridge, over the Rhine.

14 June 1645


A decisive engagement of the English Civil War between the main Royalist army of King Charles I and the Parliamentarian New Model Army of Oliver Cromwell, fought near the village of Naseby in Northamptonshire.

13 March 1954

Điện Biên Phủ

The climactic confrontation of the First Indochina War between the unsuccessful French Union’s French Far East Expeditionary Corps and Viet Minh communist-nationalist revolutionaries.

23 June 1314


A significant Scottish victory by King of Scots Robert the Bruce against the army of King Edward II of England in the First War of Scottish Independence.

1 July 1942

El Alamein

The First Battle of El Alamein was a battle of the Western Desert Campaign of World War II, fought in Egypt between Axis forces of the Panzer Army Africa under Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and Allied forces of the Eighth Army.

11 September 1297

Stirling Bridge

A battle of the First War of Scottish Independence; the forces of William Wallace defeated the combined English forces near Stirling, on the River Forth.

4 May 1471


In one of the decisive battles of the Wars of the Roses, the forces loyal to the House of Lancaster were completely defeated by those of the rival House of York under Edward IV. This restored political stability to England until the death of Edward IV in 1483.

18 June 1815


In present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, a French army under Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated by a British-led Allied army under the Duke of Wellington and a Prussian army. The battle marked the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

333 BCE


In southern Anatolia, the Hellenic League led by Alexander the Great fought the Achaemenid Empire, led by Darius III, in the second great battle of Alexander’s conquest of Asia.

21 July 1403


In what is now Battlefield, Shropshire, an army led by the Lancastrian King Henry IV fought a rebel army led by Henry “Harry Hotspur” Percy from Northumberland.

13 September 1951

Heartbreak Ridge

This was one of several major engagements in the hills of North Korea during the Korean War.

23 October 1642


This was a pitched battle of the First English Civil War, fought near Edge Hill and Kineton in southern Warwickshire between Charles I and the Parliamentarian army. Neither army was able to gain a decisive advantage.

23 August 1942


This was the largest confrontation of World War II, in which Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd) in Southern Russia. It was the largest and bloodiest battle in the history of warfare.

9 September 1513


This was fought at Branxton, Northumberland, in the War of the League of Cambrai between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland, resulting in an English victory.

1 April 1945


A major battle of the Pacific War fought on the island of Okinawa by United States Marine and Army forces against the Imperial Japanese Army.

10 May 1940


A World War II battle fought during the Battle of the Netherlands: a successful German attempt to seize the Dutch city.

23 August 1914


The first major action of the British Expeditionary Force in World War I, a subsidiary action of the Battle of the Frontiers.

4 June 1942


A decisive naval battle in the Pacific Theatre of World War II near Midway Atoll in the north Pacific Ocean.

13 September 1937


A decisive engagement of the Taiyuan Campaign, between the National Revolutionary Army and Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

5 November 1854


Fought during the Crimean War between the allied armies of Britain, France, and Ottoman Empire against the Imperial Russian Army. It was followed by the Siege of Sevastopol.

24 March 1938


A conflict between the Empire of Japan and the Republic of China forces during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

22 July 1298


One of the major battles in the First War of Scottish Independence. The English army, led by Edward I, defeated the Scots, led by William Wallace.

11 April 1512


Fought by forces of the Holy League and France, a major battle of the War of the League of Cambrai in the Italian Wars.

19 August 1388


Part of the continuing border skirmishes between the Scots and the English. (Some sources suggest this took place a fortnight earlier, on 5 August.)

17 January 1944

Monte Cassino

A costly series of four assaults by the Allies against the Winter Line in Italy held by Axis forces during the Italian Campaign of World War II.

25 October 1854


Part of Siege of Sevastopol, the port and fortress being Russia’s principal naval base on the Black Sea, during the Crimean War.

12 March 1814


An Imperial French army commanded by Emperor Napoleon was victorious over a combined Russian-Prussian corps led by General Emmanuel de Saint-Priest.

28 February 1862

Island Number Ten

An engagement at the New Madrid or Kentucky Bend on the Mississippi River during the American Civil War.

2 December 1805


On of the most important and decisive engagements of the Napoleonic Wars, and widely regarded as the greatest victory achieved by Napoleon, in the War of the Third Coalition. It was fought near Austerlitz in the Austrian Empire – modern-day Slavkov u Brna in the Czech Republic.

24 May 1798


One of the first engagements of the 1798 rebellion, rebels led by Michael Reynolds attacked Naas, the strongest Crown garrison in the county town of County Kildare, Ireland.

1 July 1690


A battle between the forces of the deposed King James II of England and those of Dutch Prince William of Orange who, with his wife Mary II, had acceded to the Crowns of England and Scotland in 1688. It took place across the River Boyne near the town of Drogheda in the Kingdom of Ireland and resulted in a victory for William.

8 August 1918


Also known as the Third Battle of Picardy, this was the opening phase of the Allied offensive, known as the Hundred Days Offensive, that ultimately led to the end of World War I.

13 December 1939

River Plate

The first naval battle in World War II and the first one of the Battle of the Atlantic in South American waters. Three Royal Navy cruisers, HMS Exeter, Ajax, and Achilles, defeated the German cruiser Admiral Graf Spee off the estuary of the River Plate close to the coast of Uruguay.

1 September 1880


The last major conflict of the Second Anglo-Afghan War: a decisive British victory in southern Afghanistan.

498 BCE


Part of the Ionian offensive of the Greco-Persian Wars.The Greeks were no match for the Persians and were completely routed in the battle.

7 June 1795

Richmond Hill

A major battle of the Hawkesbury and Nepean Wars, which were fought between the native Darug people and the New South Wales Corps near Richmond, New South Wales, Australia.

– giving:


There is obviously some chance of ambiguity in this code, as some dates will not have a single, unique battle. Indeed, my original selection happened to include two battles which occurred on the same day - Rorke’s Drift and Isandlwana.

There was no obvious way to encode digits using this code, so I couldn’t encode the new year in arabic numbers and had to use roman numerals instead.

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Version 5: Revised 23 December 2018
Brian Barker