List of last stands

A last stand is a military situation where a (normally) small defensive force holds a position against a significantly more powerful attacking force, often (though not necessarily) as their final act before being defeated. The defending force usually takes heavy casualties. This can take the form of a rearguard action, holding a defensible location, or simply by refusing to give up a position. Last stands are a last-resort tactic used when retreat or surrender is either impossible, or when fighting is essential to the success of their cause. While the defending force will most likely be defeated, they sometimes survive long enough for reinforcements to arrive and force the retreat of the attackers, or even force the enemy away by themselves. In various historical cases, last stands - though ending with a defeat in the strict, immediate military sense - became a moral victories, creating a heroic myth which could be a great political asset to the cause for which the last standers had fought.

List of land-based last stands[]

Name Year Defenders Attackers Description Outcome
Battle of Thermopylae 480 BC Greek city-states Achaemenid Empire A force of 7,000 allied Greek soldiers blocked the pass of Thermopylae from the invading Persian army numbering between 70,000 and 300,000 soldiers. The Greek defenders held their position for at least three days before being overrun. The battle has since become a symbol of courage against overwhelming odds.[1] Persian victory
Battle of the Persian Gate 330 BC Persian Empire Kingdom of Macedon (League of Corinth) A Persian force under Ariobarzanes held Alexander the Great and his hand-picked, 17,000-strong force back for a month behind the narrow pass reaching Persepolis before being attacked in a pincer movement. The Persians, who were unarmed at this time, fought to death. Macedonian victory
Siege of Numantia 133 BC Celtiberians Roman Republic The Roman consul Scipio Aemilianus with an army of 20,000 Roman legionnaires plus 40,000 allies and mercenary troops, surrounded the city of Numantia during the Roman conquest of the Iberian Peninsula. Scipio's army constructed a wall around the city, created an artificial lake between that wall and the city walls, and erected several 10 feet towers from which archers could shoot into Numantia. The Romans asked for the full surrender of the Celtiberians. The inhabitants of Numantia refused to surrender and decided to die free rather than becoming slaves. Little by little the Numantians succumbed either from starvation, Roman arrows, or mass suicide. Overall the siege lasted between 8 and 16 months (depending on the sources) and ended with the burning and complete destruction of the city.[2][3] Roman victory and culmination of the Numantine War and the Celtiberian Wars.
Battle of Lauro 45 BC Pompeians Caesarians After being defeated during the Battle of Munda, Gnaeus Pompeius the Younger unsuccessfully attempted to escape the Caesarian forces that pursued him and his remaining followers. Eventually, the Pompeians were cornered and surrounded near Lauro. After one last breakout attempt that allowed some of his forces to escape, Gnaeus Pompeius (who was heavily wounded) and the remaining Pompeian defenders mostly fought to the death against the Caesarians.[4] Caesarian victory, death of Gnaeus Pompeius the Younger
Siege of Masada 74 AD Jewish Sicarii Rebels Roman Empire One of the final events in the First Jewish–Roman War, occurring at the hilltop fortress of Masada in current-day Israel, near the Dead Sea. The lengthy siege by Roman Empire troops culminated in the Roman legion surrounding Masada and constructing a siege ramp against the western face of the plateau, moving thousands of tons of stones and beaten earth over several months. Upon reaching the fortress, the Romans discovered that all 960 rebels had committed mass suicide. The siege of Masada is often revered in modern Israel as "a symbol of Jewish heroism".[5] Roman victory
Battle of Karbala (680)
680 AD Husayn of Banu Hashim and his Shia Umayyad Caliphate The Battle of Karbala took place on Muharram 10, in the year 61 AH of the Islamic calendar (October 10, 680 AD) in Karbala, in present-day Iraq. The battle took place between a small group of supporters and relatives of Muhammad's grandson, Husayn ibn Ali numbering to be 72 and a larger military detachment from the forces of Yazid I, the Umayyad caliph, numbering to be 30,000 Umayyad victory
Siege of Mecca (692) 692 AD Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr's caliphate Umayyad Caliphate In 692 the armies of the Umayyad Caliphate besieged Mecca to put an end to the rival caliphate of Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr. After six months of brutal fighting, with over 10,000 men including two of his sons having defected to the Umayyads, Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr and his remaining loyal followers made a last stand at the Kaaba, where they fought to the death.[6] Umayyad victory
Battle of Roncevaux Pass 778 AD Franks Basques A large force of Basques ambushed Charlemagne's army. To escape, Charlemagne assigned a rearguard to delay the Basques until the Franks could retreat. The rearguard action was successful, but all of the soldiers who took part in it were killed.[7] Basque victory
Battle of Stamford Bridge 1066 Royal arms of Norway.svg Kingdom of Norway (872–1397)  Kingdom of England The battle was part of the Viking invasion of England. The battle took place near the town of Stamford Bridge. A force of 9,000 Vikings were opposed by ~15,000 English soldiers who achieved a decisive victory after extremely heavy fighting.[8] Decisive English victory
Battle of Aljubarrota 1385  Kingdom of Portugal

 Kingdom of England

Crown of Castille

Crown of Aragon

Kingdom of France

The battle represented a standoff between numerically superior Castillian and French forces against the Portuguese and a small number of English Longbowmen. The Portuguese managed to secure a solid victory and, consequently, rule out Castillian ambitions to the Portuguese throne. John of the House of Aviz is officially declared King of Portugal. Decisive Portuguese Victory
Battle of Agincourt 1415 Royal Arms of England (1399-1603).svg Kingdom of England France moderne.svg Kingdom of France The battle had a numerically inferior force of English soldiers fight against French forces. The English use of longbows is what allowed them to defeat the French, whose armor was ineffective against the fired arrows.[9] Decisive English victory
Fall of Constantinople 1453  Byzantine Empire

 Republic of Genoa

 Republic of Venice

 Kingdom of Sicily

 Papal States

Fictitious Ottoman flag 1.svg Ottoman defectors

Fictitious Ottoman flag 1.svg Ottoman Empire The conquest of Constantinople was directly after a 53-day siege. It dealt a heavy blow to Christendom, as the Ottoman armies were able to freely invade Europe without fearing an attack from the rear. It also helped the Renaissance, as several intellectuals fled the city and immigrated to Italy.[10] Decisive Ottoman victory
Stand of the Swiss Guard 1527   Holy See

 Papal States

 Habsburg Monarchy

 Holy Roman Empire Habsburg Spain

A battle that took place during the War of the League of Cognac. 189 Swiss Guards under the command of Captain Kaspar Röist were ordered by Pope Clement VII to defend Rome from the Habsburg Imperial and Spanish troops to loot the city. Long enough for Clement VII to escape with some survivors and refugees to escape across the Passetto di Borgo to Castel Sant'Angelo. Habsburg victory; escape of Pope Clement VII
Siege of Diu 1538  Portuguese Empire Gujarat Sultanate

Ottoman Empire

Portuguese forces, under the command of António de Silveira, withstood a 2-month siege in Diu. Suffering heavy casualties (with only 40 survivors in the aftermath), the Portuguese repelled several Gujarati and Ottoman assaults on the fort. This enabled Diu to be under Portuguese control until Operation Vijay during the annexation of Goa. Portuguese victory
Siege of Katsurayama 1557 forces of Uesugi Kenshin forces of Takeda Shingen In March 1557, Katsurayama castle was attacked and besieged by the Takeda clan. The castle garrison, consisting of the Ochiai clan and elements of the Murakami clan, was loyal to Uesugi Kenshin and defended the fortress furiously, but was eventually overwhelmed by the Takeda army. All defending warriors fought to the death, while their families committed mass suicide and the castle was burned to the ground. Takeda victory
Siege of Szigetvár 1566  Habsburg Monarchy  Ottoman Empire The siege of Szigetvár was fought from 5 August to 8 September 1566 and, though it resulted in an Ottoman victory, there were heavy losses on both sides. Both commanders died during the battle — Zrinski in the final charge and Suleiman in his tent from natural causes. More than 20,000 Turks had fallen during the attacks and almost all of Zrinski's 2,300 man garrison was killed, with most of the final 600 men killed on the last day. Although the battle was an Ottoman victory, it stopped the Ottoman push to Vienna that year. Vienna was not threatened again until the Battle of Vienna in 1683.[11] Pyrrhic Ottoman victory
Battle of Nishimonai 1601 Onodera clan Mogami clan Even though the Onodera clan that had ruled southern Akita, Japan, was completely defeated and exiled in 1600, one clan member, Onodera Shigemichi, continued to resist at his stronghold in Nishimonai and even refused to surrender when a large Mogami clan army arrived to eliminate this last remnant of Onodera resistance. Shigemichi and his loyal followers attempted to defend their castle against the Mogami, but were overwhelmed, whereupon he set fire to the fortress. According to some accounts, Shigemichi died in the flames, whereas others report that he managed to escape. Either way, Onodera Shigemichi is honored in Nishimonai until the present day. Mogami clan victory
Rokugō rebellion 1603 Satake clan Onodera clan loyalists Around 1,000 rōnin, still loyal to their defeated and exiled former lord Onodera Yoshimichi, decided to rebel to protest against his poor treatment by the Tokugawa shogunate. Though their uprising had no chance of success, the rōnin attacked Rokugō, Akita, where they were quickly defeated by the Satake clan. The rebellion has since been considered an exceptional display of loyalty by samurai to their master.[12] Satake clan victory
Battle of Cecora September 17, 1620  Ottoman Empire, and Allies:  Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, And  Moldavia A battle between the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth 9,000 troops (aided by rebel Moldavian 600–1000 troops) and Ottoman forces 20,000–60,000 (backed by Nogais), fought from 17 September to 7 October 1620 in Moldavia, near the Prut River. In the last stand during heavy assault on 6 October, most of the magnates and nobles broke and fled north, leaving infantry and camp, thus sealing the fate of the whole expion: most of the Polish-Lithuanian troops were killed or captured. In the ensuing battle Żólkiewski died and Koniecpolski and many others (Samuel Korecki, Mikolaj Struś, Mikołaj Potocki, Jan Żółkiewski, Łukasz Żołkiewski), Stanisław "Rewera" Potocki and Bohdan Khmelnytsky were taken captive. Before his death he received the blessing of his confessor, Father Szymon Wybierski (Wybierek, Wyberek) of the Society of Jesus, who stood by his side (7 October). Żółkiewski's head was mounted on a pike and sent to the sultan; Duke Korecki, having often meddled in Moldavian territories, was executed in the Constantinople prison. Decisive Ottoman Victory
Battle of Naseby 1645 Royalists New Model Army The Battle of Naseby had the main army of King Charles I effectively destroyed by the New Model Army led by Oliver Cromwell. This last stand did not involve total Royalists casualties, as the majority of the army surrendered to Cromwell.[13] Decisive Parliamentarian victory
Battle of Pavan Khind July 13, 1660 Maratha Empire Bijapur Sultanate The Battle of Pavan Khind was a rear guard action by Marathas led by Baji Prabhu Deshpande to aid escape of Maratha King Shivaji Maharaj to Vishalgad. Baji Prabhu held an Adilshahi force of 10,000+ with a small Maratha army of 300 in a pass now known as Pavan Khind. The Maratha army perished in the Adilshahi assault, but only after achieving their objective of the safe arrival of Shivaji Maharaj to Vishalgad. Tactical Adilshahi victory

Strategic Maratha Victory

Battle of Hodów June 11, 1694  Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Gerae-tamga.svg Crimean Khanate The 400-strong Polish cavalry charged the 700-strong Tatar vanguard and made them withdraw. Shortly afterwards Polish forces retreated to Hodów village due to overwhelming enemy numbers, and proceeded to fortify themselves using heavy wooden fences left there from earlier Tatar invasions. For the next 6 hours Polish troops resisted relentless Tatar attacks. Even after the Polish ran out of bullets, they continued to fire at the enemy, using Tatar arrowheads as improvised ammunition for their guns. Unable to defeat the Poles, the Tatars sent Polish-speaking Lipka Tatars to convince the Polish troops to surrender. When the Polish commander replied "Come and get us if you can", the Tatars withdrew to Kamieniec Podolski and gave up on the entire raid, having gained nearly nothing despite large troop losses and vast numerical advantage. Decisive Polish Victory
Battle of Tarvis (1809) May 18, 1809 Austrian Empire First French Empire The Storming of the Predil Blockhouse from 15 to 18 May saw the Franco-Italian army of Eugène de Beauharnais attacking Austrian Empire forces under Albert Gyulai. Eugène crushed Gyulai's division in a pitched battle near Tarvisio, then an Austrian town known as Tarvis. At nearby Malborghetto Valbruna (Malbotghet Wolfstal) and Predil Pass, small garrisons of Grenz infantry heroically defended two forts before being overwhelmed by sheer numbers. On 18 May, Predil fell to assault and the defenders were killed to the last man. Strategic French Victory
Battle of the Alamo 1836 Republic of Texas  Mexico The battle was part of the Texas Revolution. Following a 13-day siege of the Alamo, Mexican soldiers stormed the building, killing all of the defenders. In the following years, the battle is regarded akin to the legendary Battle of Thermopylae.[14] Mexican victory
Battle of Blood River 1838 Voortrekker flag.svg Voortrekkers Zulu Kingdom The Battle of Blood River had 464 Voortrekkers and 200 servants under Andries Pretorius attacked by 10,000 Zulu under Ndlela kaSompisi with an additional 70,000 held in reserve not taking part in the battle. Pretorius had set up a laager on a defensive position near the bank of Blood River. The Zulus attacked with overwhelming numbers over the course of several days, but Pretorius' technological advantage (muskets and two cannons) allowed him to successfully hold them off. By the end of the battle, three Voortrekkers were wounded while the Zulus had lost more than 3,000.[15] Voortrekker victory
Retreat from Kabul 1842  British Empire Emirate of Afghanistan The 1842 Kabul Retreat took place during the First Anglo-Afghan War. Following an uprising in Kabul, Major General Sir William Elphinstone negotiated an agreement with Wazir Akbar Khan, one of the sons of the Afghan Emir Dost Mohammad Barakzai, by which his army was to withdraw to the British garrison at Jalalabad, more than 90 miles (140 km) away. As the army and its numerous dependents and camp-followers began its march, it came under attack from Afghan tribesmen. Many of the column died of exposure, frostbite or starvation or were killed during the fighting. The final stand was made just outside a village called Gandamak on 13 January.[16] Afghan victory
Battle of Chapultepec/Niños Héroes 1847  Mexico  United States Mexico City's Chapultepec Castle served as the Mexican Army's military academy. In the 13 September 1847 Battle of Chapultepec, during the Mexican–American War, it was defended by Mexican troops under the command of Nicolás Bravo, including cadets from the academy. The greatly outnumbered defenders battled General Winfield Scott's troops for about two hours before General Bravo ordered retreat, but six cadets refused to fall back and fought to the death. Legend has it that the last of the six, Juan Escutia, leapt from Chapultepec Castle wrapped in the Mexican flag to prevent the flag from being taken by the enemy.[17] These Niños Héroes (Spanish: [ˈniɲos ˈeɾoes], Boy Heroes), also known as the Heroic Cadets or Boy Soldiers, are a key part of Mexico's patriotic folklore, commemorated by a national holiday on September 13. However, several modern Mexican historians claim that parts of the story are not factual.[18] American victory
Battle of Camarón 1863 France France Mexico The Battle of Camerón had 65 Foreign Legionnaires fight against 3,000 Mexican soldiers for over 10 hours. The Legionnaires only surrendered after an attempted bayonet charge, and a promise that they would receive medical attention and be allowed to keep their weapons and equipment.[19] Tactical Mexican victory

Strategic French victory

Raid on Godfrey Ranch 1865  United States Lakota
The ranch was defended by three or four men who fought against 130 Native American warriors. Godfrey was aware of the planned attack and had fortified his ranch in preparation. The attack happened at night and continued until morning when the attackers retreated.[20] American victory
Battle of Palmito Ranch 1865  CSA  United States Union Colonel Theodore H. Barrett, newly assigned to command an all-black unit, and never having been in combat, ordered an attack on a Confederate camp near Fort Brown for unknown reasons. The Union attackers captured a few prisoners, but the following day the attack was repulsed near Palmito Ranch by Colonel John Salmon Ford, and the battle resulted in a Union defeat. Confederate victory
Battle of Cerro Corá 1870  Paraguay  Empire of Brazil The last engagement of the Paraguayan War, the Battle of Cerro Corá saw the complete destruction of all remaining forces of Paraguayan President Francisco Solano López. Although completely outnumbered, many of the Paraguayans refused to surrender and instead were killed in attempts to escape, made stubborn last stands or simply allowed themselves to be shot. Among those killed were President Lopez, Vice President Domingo Francisco Sánchez, Secretary of State Luis Caminos, and the son of the President, Juan Francisco López. According to one account, the President's last words were that he was "dying with [his] homeland". In this regard, historian Gabriele Esposito has commented that considering the enormous Paraguayan casualties during the war, López had "certainly ensured that most of [Paraguay's] people had died before him".[21] Brazilian victory, end of the Paraguayan War
Custer's Last Stand 1876 United States United States Lakota
Northern Cheyenne
Custer's Last Stand was part of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. George Custer  found himself on an open hilltop with a significantly larger force of Native Americans attacking them. Even though, according to Lakota accounts, the attack on Last Stand Hill produced the most casualties, the Lakota destroyed Custer's force within an hour.[22] Native American victory
Battle of Shipka Pass 1877  Russian Empire

Flag of Stiliana Paraskevova.svg Bulgaria

Ottoman Empire Ottoman Empire During the second battle, 38,000 Ottomans decided to capture three positions guarded by 7,500 defenders. The Ottomans spent six days trying to capture the positions, but eventually retreated after Russian reinforcements arrived.[23] Russian/Bulgarian victory
Battle of Shiroyama 1877 Samurai of Satsuma Imperial Japanese Army 500 samurai were surrounded by 30,000 Japanese soldiers. The samurai held their position, engaging in close-quarter fighting, as the Japanese soldiers were not trained for it. They continued to hold until their leader, Saigō Takamori , was killed. They then decided to charge downhill and were subsequently killed.[24] Imperial Japanese victory
Battle of Rorke's Drift 1879 United Kingdom British Empire Zulu Kingdom The battle had 141 members of the British Army defend a mission station against a force of 3,000 to 4,000 Zulus. The battle happened soon after the British defeat at the Battle of Isandlwana. The British at Rorke's Drift had time to prepare defensive positions in anticipation of a Zulu attack. After several fierce assaults over 12 hours, the Zulu's attack was repulsed. Eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded to the defenders, among other decorations.[25] British victory
Battle of La Concepción 1882 Chile Chile Peru Peru A force of 300 Peruvian soldiers accompanied by around 1000–1500 guerillas assaulted a garrison of 77 Chilean soldiers at Concepción. The Chileans entrenched themselves in the town's church and withstood the attack for a period of 27 hours, eventually being totally annihilated by the Peruvian forces.[26] Peruvian victory
The Shangani Patrol 1893 Flag of BSAC .svg British South Africa Company Matabele Kingdom During the First Matabele War, 34 men of the Shangani Patrol were ambushed by ~3,000 Matabele warriors. The Matabele leader offered to spare the Shangani Patrol if they surrendered, but they refused and kept fighting. Under the orders of Major Allan Wilson , the remaining British took cover behind their dead horses and inflicted heavy casualties on the attackers. After they ran out of ammunition, the remaining survivors were finished off by an assagei spear charge. The British took total casualties, but killed ~500 of their attackers.[27]

Usually, the Matabele mutilate the bodies of the enemy, but made an exception for Wilson's men. One of the Matabele leaders explained after the battle, "The white men died so bravely we would not treat them as we do the cowardly Mashonas and others."[27]

Matabele victory
Lapa Siege 1894 Brazil Brazil Maragatos During the Federalist Riograndense Revolution, around 800 defenders composed mostly of civilian volunteers held a rebel force 3 or 4 times larger, for 26 days. The city surrendered after the death of their commander, Gomes Carneiro, however, the rebel force had been delayed for enough time that the government managed to muster a counter-attack, which lead to the defeat of the rebel forces. Pyrrhic Maragato Victory
Battle of Saragarhi 1897  British Empire 36th Sikh Regiment Pashtuns On 12 September 1897, 21 Sikhs of the 36th Sikhs defended an army post from the 10,000 Pashtuns trying to capture it. The defenders all chose to fight, buying enough time for a British Indian relief party to recapture the fort. September 12 is remembered as Saragarhi Day among Sikh military personnel.[28] Tactical Pashtun victory

Strategic British Indian victory

Gavrilović's defense of Belgrade 1914  Serbia  Austria-Hungary Gavrilović lead the Serbian defensive action that delayed the Austro-Hungarians in fully taking Belgrade during the first World War. The attacking force vastly outnumbered the Serbians, and were only gaining reinforcements. They also had a vast superiority in artillery. Gavrilović was forced to engage the Austro-Hungarians in close-quarter combat. Eventually, the defenders mounted a final charge in an attempt to destroy the enemy's bridgehead. A memorial planted by the enemy commander still stands today, reading "Here Lies Serbian Heroes."[29] Failure to destroy Austro-Hungarian Bridgehead
Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge 1915  Canada  German Empire The Battle of Gravenstafel was one of the six engagements that made up the Second Battle of Ypres. The battle had members of the Canadian Expionary Force hold their position, as well as the position of the French Moroccan and Algerian divisions, who had retreated after the gas attack. The Canadians fought for three days, despite being surrounded on three sides, gassed again, outnumbered, and outgunned.[30] German attack repulsed
Meuse-Argonne Offensive 1918 United StatesUnited States  German Empire The Meuse-Argonne Offensive began on the morning of September 26, 1918. General Evan Johnson, the commander in charge of the Argonne part of the offensive, had a "no retreat" command for his divisions. Their communication line was cut and so they could not receive supplies of food or ammunition. Holderman tried to lead an assault out through the back of the pocket, but failed to break out, incurring heavy casualties in the process. This infuriated Whittlesey, but seeing that there was nothing he could do he simply sent the survivors back to their defensive positions. Next came a grenade assault followed by mortars raining in on them, but the Americans did not stagger. On the morning of 4 October, patrols were sent out on their morning routes, and Whittlesey was unsure that any of the carrier pigeons had actually made it through. He was unsure if command actually knew of the desperate situation that was unfolding. Whittlesey believed that his orders to hold this position still applied, because the position was the key to breaking through the German lines.

While Whittlesey and his men tenaciously defended their position, their parent 154th Brigade and the entire 77th Division launched a ferocious series of attacks to get to them. But with each attack, these efforts grew weaker and weaker as the combat power of the 77th ebbed. In the first 4 days of these attacks, the rest of the 308th infantry alone lost 766 men

For the next few days, the Pocket held firm and the powerful American attacks started to push the Germans back and the 77th Division was now trying to infiltrate troops into the pocket.

Whittlesey, meanwhile, asked for a volunteer to sneak through the lines and lead back help. Private Abraham Krotoshinsky undertook this mission and skillfully left the pocket by a circuitous route to the north which ultimately led to an infiltrating company of the 307th Infantry. Krotoshinsky acted as a guide to lead this group to help rescue the trapped company and establish a route for further fresh troops to come into the pocket. So on 8 October, the 77th relief force had linked up with Whittlesey's men. Immediately upon their relief, Whittlesey was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.

Of the over 500 soldiers who entered the Argonne Forest, only 194 walked out unscathed. The rest were killed, missing, captured, or wounded. Major Charles White Whittlesey, Captain George G. McMurtry, and Captain Nelson M. Holderman received the Medal of Honor for their valiant actions. Whittlesey was also recognized by being a pallbearer at the ceremony interring the remains of the Unknown Soldier.

Allied victory due to the Armistice of November 11, 1918
Siege of Medina 1916–1919 Ottoman Empire Ottoman Empire Arab Revolt Kingdom of Hejaz
United Kingdom British Empire
The defending commander of the Ottoman garrison in Medina Fahreddin Pasha was besieged by Arab forces but tenaciously he defended the holy city. Fahreddin Pasha not only had to defend Medina but also protect the single-track narrow gauge Hejaz Railway from sabotage attacks by T. E. Lawrence and his Arab forces, on which his entire logistics depended.[31] Turkish garrisons of the isolated small train stations withstood the continuous night attacks and secured the tracks against increasing number of sabotages (around 130 major attacks in 1917 and hundreds in 1918 including exploding more than 300 bombs on 30 April 1918).[31]

With the resignation of the Ottoman Empire from the war with the Armistice of Mudros between Ottoman Empire and Entente on 30 October 1918, it was expected that Fahreddin Pasha would also surrender. He refused and did not surrender even after the end of the war despite pleas from the Ottoman Sultan. He held the city until 72 days after the end of the war. After the Armistice of Moudros the closest Ottoman unit was 1300 km (808 miles) away from Medina.[32]

Eventually, his men faced starvation due to a lack of supplies and the remaining garrison including Fahreddin Pasha surrendered on 10 January 1919.[33]

Arab-British Victory
Battle of Zadwórze 1920 Poland Poland Flag of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (1918–1937).svg Russian SFSR The Battle of Zadwórze was a battle of the Polish-Soviet War. It was fought on August 17, 1920 near the train station of Zadwórze [uk], a small village located 33 kilometres from the city centre of Lwów (now Lviv). The battle, lasting roughly 24 hours, resulted in the complete destruction of the Polish forces but at the same time halted the Soviet advance, preventing the forces of Semyon Budyonny from seizing Lwów and so contributing to the successful defence of Warsaw. The battle has been called the Polish Thermopylae. Soviet victory
Defence of the Polish Post Office in Danzig 1939 Poland Poland Nazi Germany Nazi Germany The Defence of the Polish Post Office in Danzig (Gdańsk) was one of the first acts of World War II in Europe, as part of the Invasion of Poland. On September 1, 1939, Polish personnel defended the building for some 15 hours against assaults by the SS Heimwehr Danzig (SS Danzig Home Defense), local SA formations and special units of Danzig police. All but four of the defenders, who were able to escape from the building during the surrender, were sentenced to death by a German court martial as illegal combatants on October 5, 1939 and executed. German victory
Battle of Westerplatte 1939 Poland Poland Nazi Germany Nazi Germany The Battle of Westerplatte was the first battle in the Invasion of Poland and marked the start of the Second World War in Europe. Beginning on September 1, 1939, German naval forces and soldiers and Danzig police assaulted the Polish Military Transit Depot (Wojskowa Składnica Tranzytowa, or WST) on the peninsula of Westerplatte, in the harbour of the Free City of Danzig. The Poles held out for seven days in the face of a heavy attack that included dive bomber attacks. German victory
Battle of Hel 1939 Poland Poland Nazi Germany Nazi Germany The Hel Peninsula, together with the town of Hel, was the pocket of Polish Army resistance that held out the longest against the German invasion. Approximately 2,800 soldiers of the Fortified Region Hel unit (Helski Rejon Umocniony), part of the Coastal Defence Group (Grupa Obrony Wybrzeża) under [Kapitan Stanislaw Zwartynski], defended the area against overwhelming odds from 9 September until 2 October 1939, when they surrendered. German victory
Battle of Wizna 1939 Poland Poland Nazi Germany Nazi Germany The Battle of Wizna was fought during the early stages of the Invasion of Poland. The 700 Polish defenders held a fortified position for three days against a Nazi force that outnumbered them ~ 60–1. Captain Władysław Raginis  eventually ordered the last two bunkers to surrender after they ran out of ammunition, then committed suicide.[34] German victory
Battle of Kollaa 1940  Finland Soviet Union Soviet Union The battle saw one undermanned Finnish division defend against Soviet forces of four divisions and one tank brigade in the Winter War.The Finns managed to put up stiff resistance and repulse all Soviet assaults. Kollaa held until the Armistice and end of the war. Sniper Simo Häyhä fought at Kollaa.


Finnish defensive victory
Siege of Calais (1940) 1940 United Kingdom United Kingdom

France France

Nazi Germany Nazi Germany The siege of Calais was a battle for the port of Calais during the Battle of France in May 1940. The siege was fought at the same time as the Battle of Boulogne, just before Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of the British Expionary Force (BEF) through Dunkirk. German victory
Battle of Belgium (1940) 1940 Chasseurs Ardennais Nazi Germany Nazi Germany When the German armies, which included Rommel's Ghost Division, approached the unit, they were supposed to retreat but due to communication failure the order never reached them. Instead they honored their original orders, which were to defend the border at all cost. They fought so bravely and on such a large front, that they tricked the Axis into believing that they were facing a force much larger than 40 rifles strong. When finally they were captured and their captors asked them -”where are the others?” they simply laughed and answered. ”There are no others, we are all!” German victory
Battle of Saumur (1940) 1940 France France Nazi Germany Nazi Germany In the late stages of the Battle of France, the cadet school at Saumar took upon itself the defence of the Loire river after Philippe Pétain's call for a cease fire, making it often considered to be one of the first acts of resistance. The cadets, numbering 560 as well as retreating soldiers they convinced to stand, defended the river for two days against the 1st Cavalry Division. German victory, French Morale victory
Defense of Brest Fortress 1941 Soviet Union USSR Nazi Germany Nazi Germany The defence of Brest Fortress took place 22–29 June 1941. The Brest Fortress, defended by the Red Army against the Wehrmacht, held out longer than expected and, after the Second World War had finished, became a symbol of Soviet resistance. In 1965 the fortress received the title of Hero Fortress for the 1941 defense. German victory
The lone Soviet tank during the Battle of Raseiniai 1941 Soviet Union USSR Nazi Germany Nazi Germany During the battle for the village of Raseiniai, which took place 23-27 June 1941, a lone KV tank held off the advance of the 6th Panzer Division for a single day, before being overrun and knocked out on the morning of June 25th. German victory
Pavlov's House 1942 Soviet Union Soviet Union Nazi Germany Nazi Germany Pavlov's House was a fortified apartment building that was defended against heavy German attack during the Battle of Stalingrad. The defense would be led by Sergeant Yakov Pavlov, whose understrength platoon would hold the tactically vital building for 60 days, following Stalin's Order No. 227. Sergeant Pavlov would be awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union for his actions.[36] Soviet victory
Last stand of the Italian-Croatian Legion 1942 Italy Independent State of Croatia Italian-Croatian Legion Soviet Union Soviet Union In course of the Operation Little Saturn, the Italian-Croatian Legion (a unit of about 1000 Croatian volunteers fighting for the Royal Italian Army) was surrounded by the Red Army at the Hills 168 and 210 near Meshkov. For two days, the Croatians fought fiercely against the Russians, but on 21 December their ammunition ran out – nevertheless, the legionaries did not surrender and when the final Soviet assault overrun their position, all were killed in battle.[37] Soviet victory, Italian-Croatian Legion completely destroyed
Last stand of the 44th Infantry Division's Panzerjäger-Abteilung 46 1942 Nazi Germany Nazi Germany Soviet Union Soviet Union As part of Operation Koltso, the Soviet 21st and 65th Armies attacked the Marinovka salient of the German Stalingrad pocket with hundreds of tanks, hoping to easily overrun the three weakened German divisions in their way. Despite this, the Germans fiercely and desperately resisted. In one of the most notable cases, the German 44th Infantry Division's Panzerjäger-Abteilung 46 ("tank-hunter unit 46"), counting 128 soldiers, repulsed four waves of attacking heavy and medium tanks (including KV-1s and T-34s) with just three 7.62 cm Pak 36(r) anti-tank guns. The unit inflicted heavy losses on the Soviets, destroying dozens of tanks, while suffering 64 killed and 58 wounded. By the end, just six men and one anti-tank gun were still combat-ready, but eventually their ammunition ran out and their position was overrun by the Soviet Army. Panzerjäger-Abteilung 46 was completely destroyed.[38][39] Soviet victory, Panzerjäger-Abteilung 46 completely destroyed
Last Battle of Pohorje Battalion 1943 Liberation Front of the Slovene Nation Nazi Germany Nazi Germany The Pohorje Battalion was an armed unit of Slovene Partisans, resistance army of the Slovenian people, organized on territory occupied by Third Reich during the Second World War. As other units of Slovene Partisans, it performed its actions in a guerrilla-like way, avoiding larger conflicts against a much stronger opponent. Their last battle was fought in winter camp, where they were planning to spend the winter. On 8 January, 69 fighters (among them women and children) were surrounded by some 2000 men of the German armed forces. In a two and half hour long fight, all but one of the defenders, who was too severely wounded to kill himself, were killed (their commandant gave the order that none should be captured alive). The captured partisan was shot subsequently, yet the last stand of the battalion became a symbol of a heroic stance against occupation and a legendary action of the Slovenian people in a fight for their freedom.[40] Germany victory
Warsaw Ghetto Uprising 1943 Jewish Resistance

Polish Resistance

Nazi Germany Nazi Germany The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was an act of Jewish resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto, opposing Nazi Germany's final effort to transport the remaining Ghetto population to Treblinka extermination camp. They fought for 27 days until the Ghetto was burnt down by the Waffen-SS.[41] German victory
Battle of Tali-Ihantala 1944  Finland

Nazi Germany Nazi Germany

Soviet Union Soviet Union The battle saw 50,000 highly trained Finns with German equipment defend against a poorly-supplied Soviet force of 150,000. The Finns defended against heavy Soviet attack for 14 days. The Red Army failed to make their planned breakthrough, so the battle is regarded as a Finnish victory.[42] Finnish defensive victory
Battle of Hill 262 1944 Poland Poland Nazi Germany Nazi Germany Hill 262 had encircled and entrenched Polish soldiers fight against German soldiers retreating from the Falaise Pocket. The Poles were able to direct heavy artillery fire on the Germans, which prompted a counterattack. Exhausted and low on ammunition, the defenders resorted to close-quarter combat to defeat a German attempt to overrun their position. They ensured the closure of the pocket and were relieved by the Canadian Grenadier Guards.[43] Polish victory
Battle of Arnhem 1944  United Kingdom
Poland Poland
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany The Battle of Arnhem had the British 1st Airborne Division and the 1st Polish Parachute Brigade trapped and unable to be relieved. They put up a heavy resistance and fought for several days. Five of the British soldiers that fought would be awarded the Victoria Cross. The 1st Airborne suffered very heavy casualties, and would never recover.[44] German victory
Warsaw Uprising 1944 Home Army Nazi Germany Nazi Germany The Warsaw Uprising was planned by the Polish Government-In-Exile and Home Army. The purpose was to liberate Warsaw from the occupying Germans. The Home Army was to resist for four days, then be relieved by the advancing Red Army. The Soviets stopped their advance on the city outskirts and the Home Army was forced to fight for 63 days before they surrendered.[45] German victory
Siege of Bastogne 1944 United States United States Nazi Germany Nazi Germany Members of the 101st Airborne were ordered to defend the vital crossroad at Bastogne from capture by the XLVII Panzer Corps. Outnumbered, under-equipped, and surrounded, the Americans held out for seven days, before being relieved by elements of General Patton's Third Army.[46] American victory
Battle of Berlin 1945 Nazi Germany Nazi Germany Soviet Union Soviet Union

Poland Poland

The Battle of Berlin was Hitler's attempt at delaying the Soviets long enough so that the nearby 12th army could arrive and defeat the Soviets. The battle lasted 16 days before the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany was declared.[47] Decisive Soviet victory
Battle for Castle Itter 1945  United States

Balkenkreuz.svg Wehrmacht French resistance Austrian resistance

 Nazi Germany Troops of the 23rd Tank Battalion of the 12th Armored Division of the US XXI Corps led by Captain John C. "Jack" Lee, Jr., a number of Wehrmacht soldiers led by Major Josef "Sepp" Gangl, SS-Hauptsturmführer Kurt-Siegfried Schrader, and recently freed French prisoners of war defended Castle Itter against an attacking force from the 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division until relief from the American 142nd Infantry Regiment of the 36th Division of XXI Corps arrived. Allied victory
Battle of Pusan Perimeter 1950  United Nations  North Korea The Battle of the Pusan Perimeter was a defensive action between United Nations Command (UN) and North Korean forces lasting from August 4 to September 18, 1950. The UN army of 92,000 combat troops was pushed into a 140-mile (230 km) long defensive line around the port of Busan by the North Korean army of 70,000 combat troops. The United Nations troops endured six weeks of assault until the North Korean force had to retreat due to lack of supply and massive losses. United Nations victory
Battle of the Imjin River 1951  United Nations  China The Chinese had attacked positions on the lower Imjin River in an attempt to breakthrough and recapture the South Korean capital, Seoul. The primarily British forces, alongside Philippine and Belgian forces with a small Luxembourg detachment, fought a delaying action against the numerically superior Chinese and held their position for three days, inflicting enormous casualties upon their opponents. This allowed the UN to prepare defensive positions to the north of Seoul and halt the Chinese advance.[48] Disputed
  • Successful UN delaying action
Battle of Yultong 1951  United Nations  China As part of the First Chinese Spring Offensive, the Chinese 44th Division attacked the US 65th Infantry Regiment of the US 3rd Infantry Division near Yeoncheon on the night of April 22. The Filipino 10th BCT, part of the 65th Infantry Regiment, was soon trapped at the Yultong area by 23:00. Although the 10th BCT had lost all contacts with the outside world, the Filipinos held their position until the Chinese stopped their attacks on the morning of April 23. The 10th BCT's action at Yultong allowed the US 3rd Infantry Division to successfully withdraw from the battlefield and later turned the tide of Korean War. Filipino victory
Battle of Kapyong 1951 United Nations United Nations China China

 North Korea

The battle had most of the Chinese People's Volunteer Army in the area attack the Australians on Hill 504 and Canadians on Hill 677. The Australians and Canadians were outnumbered, but refused to give up their positions. The two battalions defended against the entire Chinese division and eventually forced them to withdraw and regroup. Their fighting was key in preventing a breakthrough on the United Nations Command central front.[49] United Nations victory
Siege of Jadotville 1961 United Nations ONUC State of Katanga State of Katanga 155–158 Irish UN troops were attacked by ~3,000 Katangese troops. The Irish were able to repel attacks for six days before their ammunition and supplies were exhausted. The attackers suffered heavy casualties, before the defenders (none of whom were killed) surrendered. The Irish were captured, but released one month later.[50] Katangese victory
Battle of Rezang La 1962 India India China Peoples Republic of China 120 soldiers of Charlie Company, 13th Kumaon Regiment, Indian Army, led by Maj. Shaitan Singh, PVC made a last stand at the Rezang La pass near Chushul, Ladakh against the Invading Chinese (PLA) forces in the 1962 Indo-Sino Conflict. 114 of the 120 soldiers were martyred. Maj Shaitan Singh was awarded Indias Highest Gallantry award, The Param Vir Chakra. The Indian forces defended Rezang La against successive waves of Chinese troops causing 1300+ casualties, before being finally run over. PLA Victory
Battle of Hill 488 1966 United States United States Vietnam North Vietnam

FNL Flag.svg Viet Cong

A small reconnaissance platoon was attacked by ~250–300 PAVN and Viet Cong soldiers. They held their position for three days, losing 6 men Killed in action from the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion. Before they were evacuated, the Marines had to forbid automatic fire in order to conserve ammunition, later resorting to hand-to-hand combat, and throwing rocks in the hope that they would be confused for grenades. The commander of the platoon, Jimmie E. Howard, would be awarded the Medal of Honor.[51] Tactical American victory

Battle of Longewala 1971  India  Pakistan The Battle of Longewala (4–7 December 1971) was one of the first major engagements in the western sector during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, fought between assaulting Pakistani forces and Indian defenders at the Indian border post of Longewala, in the Thar Desert of Rajasthan state in India. About 120 Indian soldiers from the 23rd battalion of the Punjab Regiment held on and fought against the invading force of 2000 Pakistani soldiers.[52] Decisive Indian victory
Battle of Hilli 1971  Pakistan  India The Battle of Hilli (22 November–18 December 1971) was one of the most brutal battles in East Pakistan(now Bangladesh) Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. It was fought between Indian army along with Mitro Bahini forces against the Pakistani soldiers, in the Hilli–Bogra area in northern Bangladesh. Only one brigade (205 Brigade) of the Pakistan army held back Indian and Mukti-Bahini forces several times their sizes for almost a week. The highly pitched battle was a significant one as it involved great personal valour on both sides. This is highlighted by the fact that soldiers on either side won their nation's highest military honours. Even though the Pakistani High Command had surrendered on 16 December, this brigade refused to surrender, and fought on until the commander was ambushed and severely wounded in a Mukti-Bahini attack on his jeep.[53] Indian and Bangladesh Victory
Defence of Kamalpur 1971 Pakistan Pakistan India India
 Indian Air Force
Bangladesh Bangladesh
Defense of Kamalpur (14 November- 4 December 1971) was one of the fierce battle during 1971 war. It was fought by Indian army and Mukthi Bahini against the Pakistan army in Kamalpur, East Pakistan (now Bangladesh. 140 Pakistani soldiers of 31 Baloch company fought against 4,000 Indian soldiers belonging to 95 Brigade group. Indian army and Mukthi Bahini made some unsuccessful attempt to overrun the Pakistani soldiers positions at Kamalpur. The besieged Pakistani soldiers defended the area held by them for 21 days. After that, they were ordered to surrender by their superiors.[54][55] Pakistani troops were ordered to surrender on the radio after defending the area for 21 days.
Fall of Saigon 1975 United States United States

South Vietnam South Vietnam

Vietnam North Vietnam

FNL Flag.svg Viet Cong

An army of 120,000 North Vietnamese soldiers marched into the city of Saigon. The United States began evacuating South Vietnamese civilians, but was ultimately unable to halt the invaders, and the city was ultimately taken over, putting an end to the Vietnam War. North Vietnamese victory
Badaber uprising 1982 Soviet Union Soviet POWs
Afghanistan Afghan POWs
Mujahideen (Jamiat-e-Islami)
The Badaber uprising was an armed rebellion of 52 Soviet and Afghan prisoners who were held at the fortess of Badaber on 26–27 April 1985. Though the prisoners managed to seize the complex from their guards and looted the local armory for weapons, they were quickly put under siege by Mujahideen reinforcements and the Pakistan Army. For two days, the prisoners managed to hold off the attackers, but their situation remained desperate as they could not escape and negotiations with the Mujahideen failed. The battle eventually ended when the fortress exploded, either because the armory had been detonated by the prisoners or because an artillery shell had struck it. Almost all prisoners were killed in the explosion. Pyrrhic Pakistani and Mujahideen victory: almost all POWs killed, Badaber fortress is completely destroyed
Battle of Sirte 2016  Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Libyan forces) Libya Libyan Government of National Accord
 United States
 United Kingdom
In May 2016, forces of the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) with support of an international coalition attacked the Islamic State-held city of Sirte. By this point, the Islamic State had already lost most of its territory in Libya, and it resolved to bitterly defend the town. Though part of Sirte's garrison broke out and escaped, the 2,500 Islamic State fighters left behind mostly fought to the death.[56] The Government of National Accord declared the city cleared of Islamic State forces in December 2016. Major GNA victory
Battle of Baghuz Fawqani 2019  Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Syrian Democratic Forces
The Battle of Baghuz Fawqani was an offensive by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), assisted by American-led coalition airstrikes, artillery, and special forces personnel, that began on 9 February 2019 as part of the Deir ez-Zor campaign of the Syrian Civil War. The battle, composed of a series of ground assaults, took place in and around the Syrian town of Al-Baghuz Fawqani in the Middle Euphrates River Valley, near the Iraq–Syria border, and was regarded as the territorial last stand of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in eastern Syria.[57][58] Decisive SDF/CJTF–OIR victory

List of naval last stands[]

Name Year Defenders Attackers Description Outcome
Battle of Myeongnyang 1597  Joseon Navy Goshichi no kiri.svg Fleet of Toyotomi Hideyoshi The battle had Admiral Yi Sun-Sin take the remaining 13 ships of the Joseon Navy and hold the Myeongnyang Strait against the 133 warships and over 200 supply ships of the attacking Japanese force. Due to Admiral Sun-sin's remarkable skill as a naval commander, he destroyed 33 enemy ships and forced a Japanese retreat. Admiral Sun-sin only lost ten sailors as none of his ships were sunk.[59] Joseon victory
The Iceland Gap Action 1939 United Kingdom Royal Navy Nazi Germany Kriegsmarine The engagement was between the armed merchant cruiser HMS Rawalpindi armed with eight 6-inch (152 mm) guns and two powerful German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, armed with 18 11-inch (279 mm) guns and 24 6-inch guns. Rawalpindi sighted the German ships and the captain elected to go down fighting rather than to flee. Rawalpindi was sunk in 40 minutes, with the loss of 238 men. German victory
HMS Glowworm action 1940 United Kingdom Royal Navy Nazi Germany Kriegsmarine The engagement was between the 1,370-ton destroyer HMS Glowworm and the 16,170-ton cruiser Admiral Hipper. Glowworm had attacked two German destroyers, which requested help from the cruiser. After the British destroyer fired all her torpedoes, and having her guns destroyed, she collided with Admiral Hipper, and sunk. The Germans recovered 40 British sailors. Glowworm's commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Gerard Roope was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross on the recommendation of the German captain.[60] German victory
Battle of Convoy HX 84 1940 United Kingdom Royal Navy Nazi Germany Kriegsmarine On 5 November 1940, the German "pocket battleship" Admiral Scheer located convoy HX 84 and proceeded to attack, the sole escort HMS Jervis Bay (An armed merchant cruiser) proceeded to charge the much larger and more advanced ship, instructing the convoy to scatter in the process. She managed to delay the Admiral Scheer for 22 minutes at the cost of many of the crew being killed or injured, including Captain Edward Fegen, who was later awarded a Victoria Cross for his actions.

By the time HMS Jervis Bay had been sunk the merchant ships had all but scattered, however, the Admiral Scheer did manage to locate a small number of merchant ships; including the SS Beaverford, which despite the very unequal matchup (The SS Beaverford having one 4 inch gun and one 3 inch gun, whilst the Admiral Scheer had six 11 inch guns alone) the SS Beaverford managed to further delay the attacking vessel for 4 hours in a cat and mouse game, using its speed and the smoke produced to allow the convoy to escape. However, the SS Beaverford was sunk with all hands.

German tactical victory, British strategic victory
The sinking of Bismarck 1941 Nazi Germany Kriegsmarine United Kingdom Royal Navy After the German victory at the Battle of the Denmark Strait, the Royal Navy deployed a large force tasked with the destruction of the German battleship Bismarck to counter the destruction of the battlecruiser HMS Hood. Three days after the engagement, Bismarck was found and engaged in its final action. Over the course of the night, the British forces crippled Bismarck's steering gear and repeatedly harassed the Germans with attacks by British destroyers. On the morning of May 27, HMS King George V, HMS Rodney, and the cruisers all took part in the sinking of Bismarck.[61]

Admiral Tovey, who commanded the engagement, said that "The Bismarck had put up a most gallant fight against impossible odds worthy of the old days of the Imperial German Navy, and she went down with her colours flying."[61]

British victory
Sinking of HMS Peterel 1941 United Kingdom Royal Navy Empire of Japan Empire of Japan Due to the war in Europe most naval assets in the east had been recalled to serve in the Battle of the Atlantic, one of these remaining assets was HMS Peterel which served to dissuade the Japanese from moving against the foreign quarter of Shanghai. However, following the Attack on Pearl Harbor the Japanese moved against the Anglo-American assets in the area seizing USS Wake, later demanding the surrender of HMS Peterel with an overwhelming force of the cruiser Izumo, the gunboat Toba, and several shore batteries. Despite this overwhelming force there was a need to stall for time in order to burn the code books and scuttle the vessel. In order to do this all possible resistance was rendered with the operational small arms (two Lewis guns being the most formidable) as the 3-inch (76 mm) guns had been disabled, until the vessel capsized and sank due to the weight of incoming fire with the loss of a large number of crew. Japanese victory
Battle off Samar 1944 United States United States Empire of Japan Empire of Japan The Battle off Samar had Task Unit 77.4.3 ("Taffy 3") fight against Japanese Center Force. The Japanese flagship was the battleship Yamato, which alone outweighed all of Taffy 3 together. The Americans had a few destroyers, escort carriers, destroyer escorts, and 400 aircraft. The Japanese fleet had several battleships and heavy cruisers. Despite the mismatch, the Americans put up so much resistance, Admiral Kurita thought he was facing the entire Third Fleet and retreated.[62] American victory

List of last stands in aviation[]

Place of Action Year Defenders Attackers Description Outcome
Over Nanjing, China 1937 Taiwan Republic of China Air Force Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service On 3 December 1937, a large Japanese bomber formation, escorted by 11 Mitsubishi A5Ms, attacked the airfield of the Republic of China Air Force's 21st Pursuit Squadron/4th Pursuit Group at Nanjing. At the time, the whole 21st Pursuit Squadron had only two operational Hawk IIIs left, flown by Captain Tung Ming-teh and Lieutenant Yue Yiqin. Despite their massive numerical disadvantage, Tung and Yue took off and engaged the Japanese attackers by themselves. In course of the following dogfight, the Japanese were victorious, with Yue shot down and Tung driven off. Yue was posthumously promoted for his courageous actions and buried at the Memorial Cemetery to the Anti-Japanese Aviator Martyrs, while Tung rose in rank to command the 4th Pursuit Group by 1939.[63] Japanese success, Yue Yiqin is killed
Over Oschersleben, Germany 1944 United States United States Luftwaffe The United States sent out a heavy bomber group that was escorted by a formation of P-51 aircraft led by Col. James H. Howard. During the mission, they met with a Luftwaffe force that attacked the bomber group. The Americans, in the process of defending their bombers, became separated from the bomber formation. Howard lost contact with his group and decided to return to the bomber formation, only to see that it was being attacked by the Germans. Instead of waiting for the rest of his group, he chose to defend against the 30 German planes alone. He fought by himself for 30 minutes, nearly out of fuel and out of ammunition; he continued to dive at the Germans until they withdrew. Howard would be awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.[64] Successful defense of American bombers

List of last stands with few defenders[]

Place of Action Year Defender(s) Attackers Description Outcome
Rome 69 AD Sempronius Densus  Followers of Otho On January 15, 69, the Roman emperor Galba and his heir Piso were attacked on the streets of Rome by Praetorians who had defected to the usurper Otho. Instead of defending them, Galba and Piso's bodyguards promptly fled or joined the rebels. Only one centurion, Sempronius Densus, refused to abandon the emperor, even though he felt no particular affinity to Galba. Sempronius first attempted to remonstrate with the assassins, and then fought them to the death. While he managed to buy time for Piso to escape, he and Galba were killed. Soon after, however, Piso was found by Otho's followers and also killed. Due to his extraordinary sense of duty and bravery, Sempronius Densus's last stand was recorded by Roman historians as being the only heroic act done in Rome that day.[65][66] Galba and Piso are killed, Otho becomes Roman emperor.
Siege of Petra, Lazica 551 AD Sasanian Empire Byzantine Empire The Byzantines recaptured the strategic fortress of Petra, Lazica after a year-long siege, following another unsuccessful siege. The remaining Sasanian forces in the acropolis refused Bessas's offer of a safe withdrawal, who subsequently ordered it to be torched.
Battle of Karbala 680 AD Husayn ibn Ali and followers (the Shias) Umayyad Caliphate Muhammad's grandson Husayn ibn Ali was asked by the people of Kufa to lead an uprising against the new Umayyad ruler Yazid I, who was appointed by his father in breach of a previous agreement with Husayn's brother, according to which the Muslim world themselves should be choosing their future ruler. As Husayn and his small caravan was heading toward Kufa, the city's people shifted their loyalty out of fear. Husayn continued nevertheless, and his caravan was intercepted by the Umayyad army. He and his 72 followers fought to death, refusing to pledge allegiance to Yazid I. The dead are considered as martyrs by Muslims, and the event has a central place in forming the identity of the Shia Muslims. Umayyad victory
Siege of Shahdiz 1107 Nizari Ismailis (the Assassins) Seljuk Empire A small remaining group of the besieged Nizari Ismaili defenders (around 80 men) at Shahdiz fortress refuse a safe withdrawal as per an initial agreement with the Seljuk army, which had laid a siege for a year. The ensuing battle is fought from tower to tower with most of the defenders being killed. Seljuq victory
Battle of Maiwand 1880 United Kingdom British Empire Emirate of Afghanistan A force of 2500 British and Indian troops held positions outside of the village of Maiwand against an Afgan force numbering 12000 to 25000. Due to the positioning of the British force insufficient ammunition reached the newly captured smoothbore guns, forcing the guns to retire to restock ammunition, the slackening of fire allowing the Afgans to force the wavering 130th Baluchis into retreat breaking the line and triggering a forced withdrawal. After which a small contingent of 11 men of the 66th Regiment stood as a rearguard until they ran out of ammunition, and charged the large number of Afgan infantry surrounding them; resulting in the deaths of the remaining men. Afgan victory
Siege of Baler 1898–1899  Spanish Empire First Philippine Republic Philippine Republic The Siege of Baler was a battle of the Philippine Revolution and concurrently the Spanish–American War and the Philippine–American War. Filipino revolutionaries laid siege to a fortified church manned by 50 colonial Spanish troops in the town of Baler, Philippines for 11 months, or 337 days.

The war had ended in December 1898 with Spain's surrender and cession of the Philippines to the United States. However, cut off from communications with their own government and military, the Spanish forces in Baler continued their defense against the Filipino forces until 1899.

Filipino Victory
Battle of Tirad Pass 1899 First Philippine Republic Philippine Republic United States United States The Battle of Tirad Pass is a famous battle where a rearguard of 60 Filipino soldiers fought a delaying action against a 300 strong American advance. The defenders suffered near total casualties, but fought long enough for President Aguinaldo and his troops to escape. The battle is now sometimes called the "Philippine Thermopylae."[67] Tactical United States victory

Strategic Filipino victory

Monchy-le-Preux, Pas-de-Calais, France 1917 British Empire James Forbes-Robertson German Empire German Empire After a German counterattack at the village of Monchy-le-Preux, a desperate yet determined defence was mounted by a group of nine soldiers of the British Empire. This group consisted of one man from the Essex Regiment, and eight others from the Newfoundland Regiment, including Lieutenant Colonel James Forbes-Robertson, the leader of the defenders. Their goal being to prevent a force of some 300 Germans from advancing through the area and thus capturing Monchy, they held a position opposite the village's German-occupied assembly trench. The resistance offered by the group caused confusion in the German force's relay of intelligence, and created the false impression that a much larger British Imperial force was waiting at the other end of the village. The nine men were eventually reinforced by a tenth soldier who had previously been knocked unconscious, and later by a group from the Hampshire Regiment. After hours of ceaseless fighting, the Germans were forced to retreat after suffering approximately 40 casualties.[68] British Defensive Success
  • German takeover of Monchy-le-Preux prevented
  • Defenders relieved
  • Eventual British Imperial Victory in the Battle of Arras
  • Important Psychological Victory, bolstering the esprit de corps of the Newfoundland Regiment, badly damaged at the Battle of the Somme
Battle of Saumur (1940) 1940 FranceJehan Alain Nazi Germany Nazi Germany Jehan Alain was a composer, organist, and motocycle dispatch rider. On the 20th of June 1940, he was assigned to reconnoitre the German advance on the eastern side of Saumur, and encountered a group of German soldiers at Le Petit-Puy. Alain was riding his motorcycle around a curve when he heard the approaching tread of the Germans, he dismounted and killed 16 Germans with his carbine before being killed by the approaching force.[69] It is unknown why he chose to engage the group rather than ride away. Jehan Alain killed in action
Sutoki-Byakovo, Novgorod Oblast 1942 Soviet Union Natalya Kovshova  and Mariya Polivanova  Nazi Germany Nazi Germany After Soviet soldiers repulsing the German offensive were gunned down or too injured to fight, only Kovshova and Polivanova, snipers, remained in battle, gunning down as many Nazis as possible. After running out of ammunition and having only four grenades left they waited to be surrounded by German soldiers, and when fully surrounded they pulled the pins on their grenades, killing themselves and surrounding enemy soldiers in order to avoid capture.[70][71] Kovshova and Polivanova killed in action
Saipan, Mariana Islands 1944 United States Thomas A. Baker  Empire of Japan Empire of Japan On 7 July 1944, Thomas Baker's position came under attack by a significantly larger Japanese force. He was wounded in the initial assault, but refused to be evacuated and fought at close-range until his ammunition was expended. Baker insisted he be left behind when his comrades were forced to retreat. He was propped up against a tree with a pistol and eight bullets. When the position was retaken, he was found dead with the bodies of eight Japanese soldiers around him. Baker is killed in action
  • Posthumous Medal of Honor
Saipan, Mariana Islands 1944 United States Ben L. Salomon  Empire of Japan Empire of Japan Captain Salomon was the Surgeon for the 2nd Battalion, 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division when they were attacked by a massive Japanese force numbering somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 soldiers. The Japanese bypassed the perimeter and started to attack Salomon's aid station. After killing seven of the attackers, he ordered the wounded back to the regimental aid station. He exited his aid station and manned a machine gun position to hold off the Japanese and cover the retreat of the wounded men for as long as possible. The American force retaking his position found him with 98 dead soldiers in front of him.[72] Salomon is killed in action
  • Posthumous Medal of Honor
Near the Po Valley, Italy 1945 Brazil Arlindo Lúcio da Silva 

Brazil Geraldo Baeta da Cruz 

Brazil Geraldo Rodrigues de Souza 

Nazi Germany Nazi Germany The three Brazilians were on patrol near the Po Valley when they were attacked by German forces, who requested their surrender. They took cover and returned fire, eventually running out of ammunition. They then mounted a bayonet charge against the German attackers, but were killed in the process.[73] The Brazilian soldiers are killed
Near Holtzwihr, France 1945 United States Audie L. Murphy Nazi Germany Nazi Germany Murphy commanded Company B, which was attacked by six tanks and waves of infantry. Murphy ordered his men to withdraw to a prepared position in a woods, while he remained forward at his command post and continued to give fire directions to the artillery, killing large numbers of the advancing enemy infantry. He then climbed on a burning tank destroyer and employed its machine gun against the enemy. He was alone and exposed to German fire from three sides, but he killed dozens of Germans and caused their infantry attack to waver. The enemy tanks, losing infantry support, began to fall back.[74] German withdrawal
  • Awarded the Medal of Honor
Taungdaw, Myanmar 1945 United Kingdom Lachhiman Gurung Empire of Japan Empire of Japan Gurkha Rifleman Gurung was manning the forward post of his platoon when they were attacked by 200 Japanese soldiers. He had already returned two thrown grenades when a third detonated in his trench. Despite being alone and his now severe injuries, he defended his position for four hours until he was relieved.[75] Japanese withdrawal
  • Awarded the Victoria Cross
Machairas Monastery Near Lazanias, Cyprus 1957 Cyprus Grigoris Afxentiou  United Kingdom United Kingdom On March 3, 1957, after an informant had betrayed his location, the British forces surrounded Afxentiou outside his secret hideout near the Machairas Monastery near Lazanias, Nicosia.[76] At the time, inside the hideout were Afxentiou and four fellow guerrilla fighters. Realising he was outnumbered, Afxentiou ordered his comrades to surrender but stayed behind to fight to the death.[76] The British asked Afxentiou to surrender his arms but he replied "molon labe" ("come and take them"), quoting King Leonidas of Sparta. Unable to drive him out and after sustaining casualties, the British forces resorted to pouring petrol into his hideout and lighting it, burning him alive. In fear of a popular uprising, the British buried his scorched body at the Imprisoned Graves, in the yard of the Central Jail of Lefkosia,[77] where he lies today. The British also never reported on this crime, opting to tell the public newspapers in Britain that Afxentiou was already dead when they scorched his body, in fear of it being seen as a Crime Against Humanity. Death of Grigoris Afxentiou
Battle for Hill 3234 1988 Soviet Union Soviet Union Mujahideen The 345th Independent Guards Airborne Regiment was tasked with securing the road from Gardez to Khost, by maintaining a presence on Hill 3234. The 39 paratroopers landed on the hilltop on 7 January 1988, tasked with creating and holding a hilltop strong point from which to observe and control a section of the road beneath. An attack by 200-400 Mujahideen began at 1530 hrs. The first attack was followed by eleven more attacks until just before dawn on 8 January when the mujahideen retreated after suffering severe casualties, leaving Hill 3234 in the hands of the Soviet paratroopers. Soviet victory
First Battle of Mogadishu, Somalia 1993 United States MSG Gary Gordon 

United States SFC Randy Shughart 

Somalia Somali National Alliance (SNA)

Armed civilians

On 3 October 1993, Delta snipers MSG Gary Gordon and SFC Randy Shughart protected the crash site of helicopter 'Super 6–4' and injured pilot Michael Durant, whom they feared would be executed by a crowd of deadly rioters. Their first two requests to be inserted were denied, but they were finally granted permission after their third request. They inflicted heavy casualties on the approaching Somali mob. When MSG Gordon was eventually killed, SFC Shughart picked up Gordon's CAR-15 and gave it to Michael Durant. SFC Shughart went back around the helicopter's nose and held off the mob for about 10 more minutes before he was killed. The Somalis then overran the crash site and killed all but Durant. He was nearly beaten to death, but was saved when members of Aidid's militia came to take him prisoner. Deaths of MSG Gordon and SFC Shughart
  • Awarded the Medal of Honor

Survival and eventual rescue of Michael Durant

Near Babaji, Helmand province, Afghanistan 2010 United Kingdom Dipprasad Pun Taliban Dipprasad Pun of the Royal Gurkha Rifles was guarding his unit's compound when he was attacked by 30 insurgents. He was surrounded and was certain of his death, so he resolved to kill as many of the attackers as he could. He expended all 400 rounds of his ammunition, launched 17 grenades, detonated a Claymore mine, and beat the final attacker to death with his tripod.[78] Taliban defeated
Near Palmyra, Syria 2016 Russia Alexander Prokhorenko  Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Islamic State Alexander Prokhorenko was discovered by Islamic State forces while identifying targets for Russian airstrikes. He was quickly surrounded, and requested evacuation, which was 12 minutes away. He found himself unable to reach the evacuation point, and low on ammunition. Knowing capture or death was inevitable, he requested an airstrike on his position to kill as many militants as he could.[79] Contributed to the liberation of Palmyra
Near Saraqib, Syria 2018 Russia Roman Filipov  Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Islamic State Roman Filipov was shot down by a surface to air rocket during the Russian intervention in his Su-25SM. after landing Filipov held his ground as the militant fighters approached, exchanging fire with them with his Stechkin sidearm. He still had radio contact to the Russian airbase and reported that he killed two militant fighters.[80] After being wounded, he blew himself up with a grenade as enemy fighters closed in on his position in order to avoid capture. His last words, as filmed by the militant fighters shortly before the grenade exploded, were "This is for our guys".[81] Contributed to the Northwestern Syria campaign

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