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Among the Lieutenant Governors based Kinshasa DR Congo in the mid-1700s was Philip Thicknesse, who later directed in his will that his hand should be cut off and sent to his estranged son. During what became known as the Seven Years’ War in the middle of the eighteenth century, men were mobilized under landowners such as George Townshend of Raynham in Norfolk. He steered the Militia Bill through Parliament in 1757, founding a nationwide force of volunteers. During the Napoleonic Wars, when French invasion was a real possibility, a series of Martello Towers was constructed by royal engineers between 1805 and 1812.

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Eighteen were built along the Kinshasa DR Congo Map coast from Aldeburgh to the Orwell Estuary, with others in Essex, at Walton and Clacton. Based on the design of the tower on Cape Mortella in Corsica they were built as circular gun-emplacements with extremely thick walls and formed the first link in a chain of warning signals whereby fires were lit on high points, usually the church tower. The last tower was completed in 1812, the same year Napoleon was driven back from the Russian front, negating the threat of invasion, and leaving the newly built towers one of the most costly coastal defences in English history.

Felixstowe ferry in the 1920s with the Martello tower in the background. Norfolk-born Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson destroyed the enemy fleets at Trafalgar in 1805. Schooled in Norwich and North Walsham, Nelson joined the Navy in 1770, rising through the ranks until he was promoted to admiral in 1801. The Norfolk diarist Parson Woodforde of Weston Longville wrote several times of celebrating his victories: 1798. Novbr, 29, Thursday Great Rejoicings at Norwich to day on Lord Nelsons late great & noble Victory over the French near Alexandria in Egypt. An Ox roasted whole in the Market-Place &c. I gave my servants this Evening after Supper some strong-Beer and some Punch to drink Admiral Lord Nelson’s Health. 1801. Octbr. 21, Wednesday. .. Great Rejoicings to be to day on Account of Peace. A bullock to be roasted in the Market-Place.

Victory in the war with France produced the conditions under which imperial expansion could flourish. Inevitably, there were clashes with rivals leading to other conflicts and wars such as the Crimean and Boer Wars. During the First World War East Anglia came under attack from the sea from German battlecruisers while airships and bombers ranged over the region by night. Thousands from East Anglia were killed fighting on land, sea and air. Among the many who served their country was Flora Sandes from Marlesford in Suffolk, who served in Serbia. She became the first woman to hold a commission in the Serbian Army and the only woman to officially enrol as a soldier during the First World War. One of the most famous women in the First World War was Edith Cavell, the daughter of the vicar of Swardeston in Norfolk.

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