Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home


Weapons of War

Siege Weaponry

Notables: Onagers, Ballistae (753 BC), Mangonels, Cannons (1100s), Howitzers (17th century), Schwerer Gustav, Cruise Missiles.


The fireballing, wall-bashing siege engines from Kingdom of Heaven, trebuchets have always demanded respect from medieval cities and strategy gamers alike as the King of siege weaponry. The older and smaller torsion engine trebuchets were in use back in 4th century BC by the same guys that built the Great Wall (coincidence?). The most common trebuchets used counterweight mechanisms. When the weight was dropped, the sling holding the projectiles was pulled up and forward. The effect was something like Lasith Malinga bowling, except the objects were much larger than cricket balls and the distance travelled was 300 meters [that's roughly three football fields in length].

It also happened to be the forerunner of ICBMs carrying Biological Weapons since it was used to hurl dead bodies over city walls to inspire fear and spread diseases.

This Greek badboy is a 9-story siege tower, equipped with over 15 giant catapults and pushed along by 3400 men. It was armoured and fireproof, making it practically invincible. Weighing in at 160 tonnes, it is understandable why it was named the Destroyer of Cities. Unfortunately, the Helepolis failed in the only siege it was ever used in because it couldn't move over muddy fields, ultimately turning out to be the Titanic of the Bronze Age. Following their victory the Rhodians decided to melt the armour of the tower to build the Colossus of Rhodes.

Range Weaponry
Notables: Throwing spears (400,000 years ago), Bows (8,000 BC), Crossbows (5th-4th century BC), Throwing axes (500 AD), Muskets (16th century), Thompson sub-machine gun, AK-47/M-16.


Welsh Longbow
The Welsh Longbow is called 'longbow' because it is more than 6ft tall. Naturally this offered a much greater range for any dude with the muscle to bend these babies than common archers.

The most renowned feat of the Longbow was at the Battle of Agincourt during the Hundred Years War. The fleeing and tired men of King Henry V of England, most of them archers, faced fresh French troops four times their number [including the famous French cavalry] at the end of the boggy field on St Crispin's Day. With the Longbows unleashing “a terrifying hail of arrow” shot from 200 yards away, the French forces were cut down while trapped in the bog and routed completely. The French didn't get over that humiliating defeat until a little girl named Joan of Arc decided to even the score.

The British used it to take over the world.
It was the British Army's standard issue rifle, also used by other Commonwealth nations in both World Wars. Feature: 10-round box magazine loaded with .303 British cartridges, one round at a time or with 5-round chargers. The best part about the Lee-Enfield was that it could fire a full 30 aimed rounds per minute (aptly titled 'Mad Minute') when handled by a trained marksman, making it the fastest military bolt-action firearm back in the days.

The Lee-Enfield is the precursor for our current Sniper Rifles, whose design began with the Long Lee's inability to compete with German-made Mausers during the Second Boer War.

Melee Weaponry
Notables: Clubs (stone age), Spears (400000 years ago), Mace (12000 BC), Axes (5000 years ago), Swords (5000 years ago), Halberds (14th century), War Hammer (14th century), Morning Stars (14th century), Bayonets (1600s), Bowie Knife [19th century].


The most common image of a sword is the European Longsword, which is double edged and meant for both slashing and stabbing. The Greek short swords or the Roman Gladius are little more than daggers and require agility. Speaking of agile swordwork, the thin, pointy French Rapier needs a lot of it. If you are tired of finesse, try the Scottish Claymore like William Wallace or the German Twohander (also called greatsword because it's 6 freaking feet long), both used for axe-like purposes. And of course, how can we forget the Katana and the Arabian Scimitar? Both are curved and single edged. The curve greatly helps the slashing style of attack. They're also handy for detaching the limbs of your enemy.

The greatest of all melee weapons, these short double-edged hilted blades were actually developed in prehistoric times, initially as a building tool, later taken to higher grounds for killing as human evolution progressed, eventually taking form into the sword. Currently one kind (the knife) is used as a daily appliance in every household.

Symbolically, daggers can be associated with treachery and cowardice for being the weapon of choice in assassinations (Caesar died of 23 dagger stab wounds), and is at the same time a symbol of courage, as using it requires getting dangerously close to the enemy. It represents the church, being similar to a cross, and in ancient Egypt gilded daggers were adorned as ceremonial objects. The Nazis used them as ornamental uniform regalia, and it's assumed that Japan started the fashion statement of military personnel wearing dress daggers. The British used the prettiest kind, the Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife, in actual combat.

It also represents feminine attributes. We know. Anticlimactic.

By Dr Who and Professor Spork


In My Mind

The man is old. He seems to be about sixty-five. Though he's old, he is still strong. I think he came to the park for a morning walk with some of his friends. I heard one of his friends calling him Farid. So, his name is Farid. He seems to be a jolly person and he is trying to be friendly with the small kids.

He was once young like my father. He once had a beautiful family like my father does now. He once used to love his wife and children like my father does now.

I am watching him inside my mind.

Why do I have to watch him in my mind? Why can't I watch him as a reality? Why can't I be friendly with him? Why can't he be friendly with me? Why can't he love his wife and children like before? Why can't he love his grandchildren now?

How can he? He no longer exists on the Earth now.

Who do you think it is? It's my great old grandfather who I miss very much. I never saw him because he died in a road accident when my father was small. So, I have no choice except imagining him in my mind and saying-

In my mind
I watch him everyday,
But can't touch him.
He died long ago
So, around me,
I can't see him.

By Nawshin Tabassum Binte Alim

Daddy Comes Home

My name is Elena and I'm 10 years old. I was born on October 19th, 2000. My dad picked my name. He said that he had always wanted a daughter named Elena. I am an only child and my dad is the best thing that ever happened to me. Here's something that happened when my dad left me for time to fight in the war…

"I don't know why I let him go."

"I'm home," I called as I walked through the door. I didn't get a hug from him as I went upstairs nor did he take my bag from me and make me do homework. It had been a year since I saw him and we hadn't received a letter for months. I was getting worried. The feeling was getting worse everyday.

"Dinner's ready," said my mom. I couldn't bear going downstairs. "What's the matter?" she asked as she opened the door.

"Nothing," I replied.
"Come on, you know can tell me."
"It's just that I feel as if something is missing, you know?"
"I understand. I miss him too. Don't blame yourself. It was his decision. None of us could've stopped him."
"I could. I don't know why I let him go. I should have stopped him." Now he might not come back, ever. I might lose him, and we'll never see him again. I need him, he can't be gone. Not now."

"Come on, let's go have dinner," she suggested as she wiped away my tears. Throughout dinner, there was a very uncomfortable silence. Usually we would be talking and laughing but without dad it just wasn't the same. After dinner, I went to bed. The next morning the alarm clock sounded much too early for a Saturday morning. As I walked downstairs I smelled the sweet aroma of waffles being cooked.

We hadn't had breakfast like that since… "DAD!" I cried as I saw him coming up the stairs. I ran down to him and gave him the biggest hug ever. I couldn't believe my eyes. It was the happiest day of my life. "Whoa there, Elena. I'm happy to see you, too. Now then let's have breakfast and I'll tell you all about my adventures. Deal?"

"Deal," I said as we walked towards the kitchen. Mom was there waiting for us with a huge grin on her face. "When?" I asked her. She told me that a few hours after I went to sleep, there was a funny kind of knock on the door and when she opened it, there he was. I couldn't believe it. On Monday, everyone asked me why I was so happy and I told them. They said that they were happy for me and that my dad should be proud because I do so well in school. After that everything went back to normal and he promised that he would never leave for so long again.

By Sapphire Amara Faruque




home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2010 The Daily Star