A Nation's Finest Hour
Richard Maurer
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Since we were having an interesting discussion about this topic in the Wargaming section. I took J.L. Robert's suggestion and here is the geeklist to post all your best historical moments for any nation.

Keep in mind, these finest hours doesn't have to be battles or wars where a nation or people faced extinction. It could be a battle, campaign, or war where this nation demonstrated their valor, wisdom, tenacity, and skill.

I'm looking forward to learning something new, so I hope that everyone will have some interesting information to post. Also, please keep this solely focused on military history. We don't want to get too off target.
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1. Board Game: Panzer Grenadier: Kokoda Trail [Average Rating:7.27 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.27 Unranked]
Richard Maurer
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For Australia, definitely the New Guinea campaign was their finest hour where they delayed and stalled the Japanese offensive long enough to bring up support. Particularly, the Kokoda Track Campaign was one of the most bitter and bloody campaigns where disease and terrain were even worse killers than shells or bullets.

If the Australians had broken or failed to delay the Japanese advance, the Australian mainland might have been threatened by a possible Japanese invasion. Worse, the US island hopping campaign would have been seriously delayed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Guinea_campaign
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2. Board Game: Vimy Ridge [Average Rating:6.41 Unranked]
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For Canadians, Vimy Ridge is one of the most famous battles in our military history.

To quote http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Vimy_Ridge:

Historians attribute the success of the Canadian Corps in capturing the ridge to a mixture of technical and tactical innovation, meticulous planning, powerful artillery support, and extensive training, as well as the failure of the German Sixth Army to properly apply the German defensive doctrine. The battle was the first occasion when all four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force participated in a battle together, and thus became a Canadian nationalistic symbol of achievement and sacrifice. A 250-acre (100 ha) portion of the former battleground now serves as a preserved memorial park and site of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.
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3. Board Game: The Ten Thousand [Average Rating:5.25 Unranked]
Richard Maurer
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One of the finest hours for the Greeks had to be the legendary march of the Ten Thousand. This squad of Greek mercenaries assisted Cyrus II in his attempt to seize the Persian throne. When Cyrus was killed and his army defeated in the Battle of Cunuxa, the Greeks had to fight their way from Iraq up to the Black Sea against a host of enemies, difficult terrain and weather, and limited supply. The fact that they pulled off this incredible march is a testiment to Greek courage and tenacity.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Thousand_(Greek)
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4. Board Game: L'Armée du Nord [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:5211]
Pieter Collier
Belgium
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"For all Frenchmen of courage, the time has come to conquer or die"

With these words Napoleon launched 125,000 men across the Belgian frontier . . . . L'Armée du Nord for his final campaign: Waterloo. Man for man they were arguably the best troops he had ever commanded. They were the veterans, chosen from among the half a million men that answered the call to arms in the frantic mobilization following his dramatic return from exile. Each man burned with the desire to revenge the humiliating reverses of the past few years.

Ahead lay the crossing of the Sambre River at a place called Charleroi; an intersection barely visible on their maps called Les Quatre Bras; a sleepy little village on the banks of the meandering Ligny brook; a narrow bridge at a place called Genappe; a bustling little town called Wavre; and another intersection set amidst the gently rolling Brabantine farmland. . . .a place called Mont. St. Jean . . . . just south of the village of Waterloo. The road to Brussels then was a straight shot north. Two days of hard marching would see them in the capital, three if they had to fight a battle. .

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Waterloo

The Battle at Waterloo must be a thing all Belgians must know about!
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5. Board Game: Wiedeń 1683 [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:10317]
Andrzej Sieradzki
Poland
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Polish and German allied troops commanded by Polish Soldier King John III Sobieski cross the mountains as a last hope and relief force for besieged Austrians and smash Turkish forces surrounding Vienna, thus preventing a turkish occupation of the central Europe.
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6. Board Game: 2 de Mayo [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:1036]
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Arguably the independence war was Spain's finest hour.

There are many important dates for a country older than the two previous ones added together but I'll go with this.

Napoleon's armies had entered in Spain with the alleged intention of conquering Portugal, but instead, they established in Spain. On the morning of the 2nd of May 1808 the King and all his family were taken from the Royal Palace to the exile in France.

On seeing the smallest of the princes crying, and thinking they were being mistreated, the populace of Madrid attacked the French army. During the whole day the French army and Madrid villagers fought through the streets of Madrid. Cavalry charges against knifes, fire volleys against flowerpots thrown from houses...

At the end of the day, the French had won the battle and started the executions (depicted in the games cover from a painting from Goya). But they had started to lose the war.

After 4 years of war with regular combat (including Wellington's armies) but more with irregular combat (such names as Juan Martín "El Empecinado", El Charro, Espoz y Mina) where "bandoleros" turned there weapons against the French and with constant attacks tied some much needed troops for the French.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peninsular_War
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7. Board Game: Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648 [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:1264]
Pieter Collier
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During these events, which are often known as the “Eighty Years´ War”, the northern provinces became independent and established the present day Netherlands. In the south the revolt was less successful and Belgium did not emerge as an independent state until after the Napoleonic era.
Revolution depicts a power struggle in which each player represents one of the principal factions involved, the Catholics, Habsburgs, Nobility, Burghers and Reformers. Some factions tend to have similar outlooks but they are not allies - each has its own motives and objectives.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_Revolt
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8. Board Game: Warszawa 1920 [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Andrzej Sieradzki
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After 1917 Revolution, Bolsheviks tried to spread out their ill ideas throughout Europe. Poland was the first "road block" standing fast against red Kommanders among which was young Stalin. In August 1920, when all hope was gone, a bold manouver strategy employed by Polish Commander Pilsudski drove the tides of Reds back and the whole campaign anded with Polish Victory. Probably the 8th important battle in some serious rankings. Stalin never forgot Poles that humiliation.
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9. Board Game: Crisis: Sinai 1973 [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:7201]
Joshua Gottesman
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After intense attacks by its Arab neighbors, Israel was backed against the wall. Breaking through on the Sinai front and surrounding an Egyptian army ensured that the Israel would survive.
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10. Board Game: Fire in the East [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:2954]
Brian Crawford
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Hitlers war in the east was lost in the winter of 1941 in front of the gates of Moscow. The Germans simply did not have the resources both in population or natural resources to engage in a war of attrition against the Soviet Union. They had to knock them out in a relatively quick campaign. Also the Red Army proved to the world that the German war machine could be beaten as they did in the winter of 1941 and the ensuing counteroffensive. The writing was on the wall early 1942 and there was no way the Germans could have launched an assault on Moscow in 1942 as it was too heavily defended. And besides the German war machine did need the oil. Each year the Soviets kept getting stronger and it was only a matter of time before they would be on the offensive. The defence of Moscow in 1941 had to occur for a Soviet victory. So this is my Finest Hour for the Soviet Union in WWII.
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11. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.34 Overall Rank:4]
Robb Minneman
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Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
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Their finest hour? I'd call that the peak of a civilization. Its shining moment in the sun.

Where did American civilization peak? July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong took one giant leap for mankind. It's all downhill from here, folks.
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12. Board Game: Poltava [Average Rating:6.67 Unranked]
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As per my suggestion for Russia in the original forum thread.
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13. Board Game: Austerlitz: The Battle of Three Emperors, 2 December 1805 [Average Rating:6.31 Overall Rank:9738]
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Suggestion #1 for France.
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14. Board Game: The Marne: Home Before the Leaves Fall [Average Rating:6.25 Overall Rank:10657]
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Suggestion #2 for France.
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15. Board Game: Their Finest Hour [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:7116]
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Gotta include this one!
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16. Board Game: Midway [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:2612]
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I'll propose this one for the US.
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17. Board Game: Civil War Express [Average Rating:7.73 Unranked]
 
Pete Belli
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USA = Appomattox 1865

Instead of trials, executions, purges, and deportations the United States struggles to stitch itself back together as one nation.
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18. Board Game: Byzantium Reborn [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:8894]
Richard Maurer
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Turkey's finest hour would have to be the Greco-Turkish War from 1919-1922. A close fight between Greece and Turkey that would have decided the fate of Turkey itself. If not for the Allied withdrawal and the leadership of Mustafa Kemal, the Turkish nation might not exist today.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greco-Turkish_War_(1919%E2%80%9...)
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19. Board Game: Joan of Arc [Average Rating:6.25 Overall Rank:4122]
Richard Maurer
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Another competitor for France's finest hour would have to be the French turn around near the end of the Hundred Year's War with the appearance of Joan of Arc. Within thirty years, France was able to recover a good half of their country lost to the English King Henry V. Definitely, this should be an example of French resilience during even the worse moments.
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20. Board Game: Monopoly: Amiens [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
James Carlton
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The Battle of Amiens, 1918 For Sir John Monash's brilliance in command and the finest hour of many for Australian troops on the Western Front in WWI.

One of the finest battles of a war that had an awful lot of horrifying failures. The Australian General, John Monash took the combined arms tactics he had explored at the Battle of Hamel and applied them on a much larger scale with artillery, tanks and planes working together with the infantry in a coordinated push rather than tacked on the side of a typical "over the top" bloodbath. In doing so he essentially invented modern combined arms warfare well before the advent of 'blitzkrieg'.

The result was a staggering victory for the Australian and Canadian troops who pushed deep into the German lines capturing thousands of troops and guns (with support from the French and British.) and resulted in "The Black Day" of the German Army.
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21. Board Game: Agincourt [Average Rating:5.97 Overall Rank:9920]
J.L. Robert
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California
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The Hundred Years' War marked a major step in history. Over the course of the war, armies evolved from troops of this or that king. Levies and volunteers joined the landed knights, creating forces of people. Forces were no longer tied to a particular tribe, noble or region, but rather came from throughout the country and formed into a singular troop.

These were the first national armies. And the men who fought in them fought for country as much as for King. It was the birth of nationalism as we know it today.

Agincourt can be considered the first major victory of the ENGLISH nation.
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22. Board Game: Attila [Average Rating:7.41 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.41 Unranked]
Bret Clifton
United States
Newman Lake
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I was hoping someone more knowledgeable than I would do one for Rome. I guess I'll try one to at least (hopefully) get someone to argue with me

Battle of the Catalaunian Plains: The last great victory of the Western Roman Empire and over Attila, no less. Many have argued that this Roman victory halted an assured ravaging of Western Civilization culturally, academically and religiously.
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23. Board Game: Ceuta [Average Rating:6.17 Unranked]
Zé Mário
Portugal
Porto
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Well, for my country:

Battle of Ceuta - 1415


This is taught to us as the beginning of our age of discoveries. Holding the main gate for the Mediterranean and one of the major trade centers at the time gave us an enormous economic boost. It also provided a needed status quo to the king's sons, who earned their chivalry at the small battle. Between them, was our Prince Henry the Navigator.
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24. Board Game: The Peninsular War 1808-14 [Average Rating:5.75 Unranked]
Richard Maurer
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Spain's finest hour would have to be the Peninsular War of 1808 - 1814. After having their king deposed and the country occupied by the French, the Spanish people rose up in revolt and fought relentlessly to liberate their country from French control. Despite numerous defeats and disasters, the Spanish will to resist refused to break. The Peninsular War was called Napoleon's "Spanish Ulcer" for good reason.
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25. Board Game: Cannae [Average Rating:5.81 Unranked]
Elwyn Darden
United States
Richmond
Virginia
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If the character of a nation can be revealed in defeat, and it can, Cannae, or rather the day after it, is Rome's Finest Hour.

A Carthaginian commander who returned home after a less spectacular failure would have been crucified (literally) for his performance. Gaius Terentius Varro was publicly thanked because "he had not despaired of the Republic".

While they were not found of losing battles, they realized that the beating Hannibal was not a pons asinorum. They knew Hannibal was good and decided that Varro could be trusted with further command both as a proconsul and a propraetor.

Cannae triggered a number of defections among allies, an invasion by Macedonia and the revolt of Sicilian Greeks, ultimately including Syracuse. Rome fielded another army to face Hannibal, another army to face Philip V, another army to invade Sicily, and maintained the forces they had in Spain and Gaul.

Possibly Hannibal could have panicked Rome into some form of surrender had he made a rush for the city following Cannae, but that was the last time he would see his opponent on the canvas.
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