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COLUMN: Journal story helped inspire new book by Spanish author

Phil Egan There are plenty of Corunna’s around the world, but ours may be the most intriguing.
Author Mark Guscin reprises the role of Sir John Moore during a re-enactment of the Battle of Corunna in Spain. Corunna, Ont. is just one of many towns and cities worldwide that took its name from the Peninsular War, which involved Spanish, English and the French army of Napoleon. Guscin is writing a new book describing those communities. Submitted Photo

Phil Egan

There are plenty of Corunna’s around the world, but ours may be the most intriguing.

That’s the opinion of Mark Guscin, a celebrated author and historian who is working on a new book that describes the cities, towns, warships and other things around the world that took their name from a Napoleonic War battle at La Coruna, Spain.

Five years ago, The Journal ran a story under the headline, “Founding of Corunna was a capital idea,” which described Corunna, Ontario’s brief flirtation with becoming the capital of Canada.

Guscin found the story fascinating. An Englishman Living in La Coruna, Spain, and with a lifelong interest in communities named for the town or battle, he decided to tell their stories in a new book.

Guscin, a Ph.D. in history, has written numerous scholarly works in English and Spanish, including a biography of Lt. General Sir John Moore, hero of the battle in which the French army was repulsed.

Moore, who lost his life in the 1809 battle, is remembered here in the naming of Sir John Moore Public School, the former Moore Township, and Mooretown itself.

Guscin told me he has found Corunnas in Michigan and Indiana. In Australia, two sheep stations and a town are named Corunna, as well as a mountain, a lake and a Second World War airfield known as Corunna Downs.

In New Zealand, Guscin located a Corunna Bay. And a town there called Napier has, like Corunna, Ont., numerous streets named for English soldiers who fought the battle.

HMS Corunna, also named for the legendary battle, was a Second World War-era destroyer in the Royal Navy.

Guscin even found a U.K. software company called Corunna Systems, whose founder was a history buff inspired by the French defeat.

Glasgow, Sir John Moore’s hometown has a Corunna Street. After Guscin corresponded with authorities in the Scottish city, La Coruna, Spain reciprocated by naming one of its thoroughfares Avenida de Glasgow.

His own interest in the Battle of La Coruna is a deep one. Wearing a replica of Lt. Gen. Moore’s redcoat uniform, and mounted atop a warhorse, he has led as many as 1,000 “soldiers” during battle re-enactments.

His new book is being published in Spanish at a yet-to-be-finalized date. I have encouraged him to invest in an English-language version as well, and to include, as a preface, a synopsis of the key battle itself.

For citizens of our Corunna, and Corunna’s around the world, it would be an entertaining read.

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