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January 07, 2007

Thinking outside the box.

The Russians have always been a fan of artillery. And they've been pretty competent users of it, as well.

They also think differently from us, and take novel approaches to things. There's some pictures of a putative new Russian artillery piece making the rounds, and it's shown up in my email box a couple of times.

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It looks to be a derivative of this SP artillery piece, the 2S19 "Mstas".

Artillery by Beretta... this thing, called 'Koalitcia-SV', or Coalition, hit the web over at the Cannon, Machine Guns and Ammunition website (which is a treasure trove of stuff, btw).

Murdoc noticed it last week, and the comments over at Strategy Page harbor some sceptics.

Interesting concept. Over and under 152mm cannon. They definitely aren't worried about trans-global power projection with this puppy - unless they're driving. However, the reinforcing plates on the travel lock (that gizmo that is framing the driver in the pic above) looks like it would really restrict the drivers vision to the corners - which could be an issue driving through urban areas. But, mebbe not. Of course, being a continental power, like Germany was, and not a sea power like the US and Great Britain, they've been more prone to this sort of thing anyway. Take this example... the Tsar Tank.

Tsar Tank

The Tsar Tank was designed and built in 1915. It was one of the largest attempts at tank-building during the war, reputedly weighing in at a lean(!) 40 tons. In comparison, the Brit Marks I-IV of the 1st World War weighed in at a sprightly 28 tons. The German A7V weighed around 33 tons. The French St. Chamond weighed 22 tons, while the other major large French tank, the Schneider, came in at 14 tons. It wasn't until the Mark VIIs, the "Liberty" tanksjointly designed by the Brits and US did anyone else approach the 40 ton mark that I'm aware of (but who knows, lots of people were tinkering back in the day). This sucker had two huge wheels each driven by it's own 250 hp motor. It had two small wheels in the rear. Some sources suggest the guns were placed outside the wheels, others suggest that machine guns in the small turret were all the armament. I've never seen a photo or drawing showing weapons on this baby - they may have realized what a clunker it was before they bothered. Two prototypes were made but they proved unable to handle mud (I can't imagine crossing a shell-pocked battlefield in one of these) and high costs caused the project to be cancelled, mercifully, in 1916. These photos show a partially scrapped vehicle without wheels in the rear. The last of the two was dismantled for scrap in 1923.

Then there is this puppy, the Object 279.

Object 279 Heavy Tank at Kubinka

In 1957 the Russians developed a prototype of a new heavy tank. Take a look at that body and those quad tracks. It was intended to lower the ground pressure of this vehicle, to give it better cross-country mobility in soft ground. I'm sure if it had ever made it into service, crews would have hated it. Twice the track to break. The hull was intended to protecting it against HEAT ammunition by deflecting the rounds. Putatively this shape would also assist in preventing the vehicle from being overturned by a tactical nuke blast. I'm sceptical of that, but... hey, maybe they did the modeling. It was canceled by Khruschev in favor of his preference - missile tanks. I believe they built two of these - the survivor is at the Tank Museum in Kubinka, near Moscow. That's one museum I want to get to. [note to self, lottery tickets]

Not that the US and Britain didn't have their own behemoths, mind you. The Brits built the Tortoise. Intended to kill tanks and help fight through the Siegfried line.

We built the T28/T95.

T28/T95 Super Heavy Tank

This sucker had removeable outer tracks, which could be towed behind the vehicle so it would be able to cross narrow bridges in Europe. Also intended for breaching the Siegfried Line, we only built two before cancelling the project, and the survivor today sits outside the Patton Armor Museum at Fort Knox.

T28 at the Patton Armor Museum, Fort Knox.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Jan 07, 2007 | TrackBack (0)

January 06, 2007

Gratuitous Historical Pic.

Armored Train... kewl.

Soviet Armored train MBV F34, used on the Leningrad battlefront.

Soviet Armored train MBV F34, used on the Leningrad battlefront

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by John on Jan 06, 2007 | TrackBack (0)

January 04, 2007

4 January 1951...

General Matthew Ridgway, WWII Airborne hero, stands on the last bridge across the Han River, as the combined forces of North Korea and China take Seoul for the second time (and last) time in the war.

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ES42-6-56 (SC355598) LT General Matthew B. Ridgway, CG, U.S. 8th Army (front row, left), and Co. Itschner, Engineer, I Corps (front row, center), give the order to begin dismantling pontoon bridge after the last of the UN Forces evacuated Seoul. 4 Jan 1951. (US Army Photo)


ES41-6-56 (SC355548) A tank of the last UN Forces units in Seoul evacuated the city, withdrawing across the Han River on the remaining pontoon bridge which will be demolished as soon as they have passed. 4 Jan 1951. (US Army Photo)

ES41-6-56 (SC355548) A tank of the last UN Forces units in Seoul evacuated the city, withdrawing across the Han River on the remaining pontoon bridge which will be demolished as soon as they have passed. 4 Jan 1951.

And demolished it was.
ES71-19-62 (SC356266) A Han River pontoon bridge out of Seoul, Korea, slowly burns and sinks after the first charge of TNT has been set off by members of the 8th Engineer Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division. 4 Jan 1951.(US Army Photo)

ES71-19-62 (SC356266) A Han River pontoon bridge out of Seoul, Korea, slowly burns and sinks after the first charge of TNT has been set off by members of the 8th Engineer Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division. 4 Jan 1951.
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by John on Jan 04, 2007 | TrackBack (0)

January 03, 2007

Jan 3, 1944 (1945) [Dangnabbit!]

SC 198612. Dudelange, Luxembourg. Painted white to blend with snow-covered terrain, an M-36 tank destroyer crosses a field. (3 Jan 1945) </p>

<p>Signal Corps Photo #ETO-HQ-45-5944 (Hustead). <br />

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Some of these pics should bring back memories for those of you warrriors who did the winter of '81 in Germany - the coldest winter since... 1944. Especially those Jan '81 maneuver rights ARTEPs 1st Tank conducted in the area around Graf and Hohenfels - which, IIRC, were the swan song of the M60A2s, they being swapped for the A3 RISE Passives that spring.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

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by John on Jan 03, 2007 | TrackBack (0)

December 31, 2006

Dec 31, 1944

Having shown a bit of what we're doing this year's end, I thought I'd show a different year's end...

SC 253856. The 101st Airborne troops move out of Bastogne, after having been besieged there for ten days, to drive the enemy out of the surrounding district. Belgium 12/31/45.

SC 253856. The 101st Airborne troops move out of Bastogne, after having been besieged there for ten days, to drive the enemy out of the surrounding district. Belgium 12/31/45

SC 197832. Three members of an American patrol cross a snow covered Luxembourg field on a scouting mission. White bedsheets camouflage them in the snow. Left to right: Sgt. James Storey, Newman, Ga.; Pvt. Frank A. Fox, Wilmington, Del., and Cpl. Dennis Lavanoha, Harrisville, N.Y. (30 Dec 1944). Lellig, Luxembourg</p>

<p>Signal Corps Photo #ETO-HQ-45-5003 (Hustead) <br />
SC 197832. Three members of an American patrol cross a snow covered Luxembourg field on a scouting mission. White bedsheets camouflage them in the snow. Left to right: Sgt. James Storey, Newman, Ga.; Pvt. Frank A. Fox, Wilmington, Del., and Cpl. Dennis Lavanoha, Harrisville, N.Y. (30 Dec 1944). Lellig, Luxembourg Signal Corps Photo #ETO-HQ-45-5003 (Hustead)

SC 198400. Tankmen of the U.S. First Army gather around a fire on the snow-covered ground near Eupen, Belgium, opening their Christmas packages (12/30/44) -5th Armd. Regt.

SC 198400. Tankmen of the U.S. First Army gather around a fire on the snow-covered ground near Eupen, Belgium, opening their Christmas packages (12/30/44) -5th Armd. Regt

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by John on Dec 31, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 25, 2006

December 25, 1944

Sometimes, Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Men, well, it takes a vacation.

SC 200476. Members of the 101st Airborne Division walk past dead comrades, killed during the Christmas Eve bombing of Bastogne, Belgium, the town in which this division was besieged for ten days. This photo was taken on Christmas Day. 1944

SC 200476. Members of the 101st Airborne Division walk past dead comrades, killed during the Christmas Eve bombing of Bastogne, Belgium, the town in which this division was besieged for ten days. This photo was taken on Christmas Day. 1944

SC 200446. German soldiers who attempted to storm the 101st Airborne command post in Bastogne, Belgium, lie dead on the ground after they were mowed down by American machine gun fire. The tanks, behind which they were advancing, were knocked out also. This photo was taken while Bastogne was still under seige (12/25/44) RESTRICTED--Signal Corps Photo #ETO-HQ-45-34 (Krochka). <br />

SC 200446. German soldiers who attempted to storm the 101st Airborne command post in Bastogne, Belgium, lie dead on the ground after they were mowed down by American machine gun fire. The tanks, behind which they were advancing, were knocked out also. This photo was taken while Bastogne was still under seige (12/25/44) RESTRICTED--Signal Corps Photo #ETO-HQ-45-34 (Krochka).

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by John on Dec 25, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 23, 2006

Dec 23 1944

SC 198389. A 7th Armored Division antitank gun covers the approach on a road to Belgium (12/23/44)--Railroad crossing near Vielsalm, Belgium

The bulk of the air cargo brought to Bastogne during the siege was artillery ammunition. By the 24th the airborne batteries were down to ten rounds per tube and the work horse 420th Armored Field Artillery was expending no more than five rounds per mission, even on very lucrative targets. This battalion, covering a 360-degree front, would in fact be forced to make its original 1,400 rounds last for five days. The two 155-mm. howitzer battalions were really pawing at the bottom of the barrel. The 969th fired thirty-nine rounds on 24 December and two days later could allow its gunners only twenty-seven rounds, one-sixth the number of rounds expended per day when the battle began.

The airdrop on the 23d brought a dividend for the troops defending Bastogne. The cargo planes were all overwatched by fighters who, their protective mission accomplished, turned to hammer the Germans in the Bastogne ring. During the day eighty-two P-47's lashed out at this enemy with general-purpose and fragmentation bombs, napalm, and machine gun fire. The 101st reported to Middleton, whose staff was handling these air strikes for the division, that "air and artillery is having a field day around Bastogne."

SC 246723. The members of the 101st Airborne Division, right, are on guard for enemy tanks, on the road leading to Bastogne, Belgium. They are armed with bazookas. 23 Dec 1944

You can read the rest here.

Now, here's something you most likely didn't know. There weren't many black combat units in the US Army during either world war. IIRC, none at all during the First, only a few during the Second.

One of those few was the 969th Field Artillery, which won a Distinguished Unit Citation and Belgian Croix d’Guerre with Palm for their performance during the Battle of the Bulge. Some more on Black soldiers in the war is available here.

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by John on Dec 23, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 22, 2006

Dec 22, 1944

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...in the Bastion of the Battered Bastards of the 101st.

To the U.S.A. Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne.

The fortune of war is changing. This time the U.S.A. forces in and near Bastogne have been encircled by strong German armored units. More German armored units have crossed the river Our near Ortheuville, have taken Marche and reached St. Hubert by passing through Hompre-Sibret-Tillet. Libramont is in German hands.

There is only one possibility to save the encircled U.S.A. troops from total annihilation: that is the honorable surrender of the encircled town. In order to think it over a term of two hours will be granted beginning with the presentation of this note.

If this proposal should be rejected one German Artillery Corps and six heavy A. A. Battalions are ready to annihilate the U.S.A. troops in and near Bastogne. The order for firing will be given immediately after this two hours' term.

All the serious civilian losses caused by this artillery fire would not correspond with the well known American humanity.

The German Commander.


To the German Commander:

Nuts!

The American Commander.

The American Commander was Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, Division Artillery Commander of the 101st Airborne Division.

Redlegs (like yours truly) aren't usually noted for their brevity.

McAuliffe's troops weren't the only ones inspired by his response. There was extra effort on the home front, too.

What may have been the biggest morale booster came with a reverse twist-the enemy "ultimatum." About noon four Germans under a white flag entered the lines of the 2d Battalion, 327th. The terms of the announcement they carried were simple: "the honorable surrender of the encircled town," this to be accomplished in two hours on threat of "annihilation" by the massed fires of the German artillery. The rest of the story has become legend: how General McAuliffe disdainfully answered "Nuts!"; and how Colonel Harper, commander of the 327th, hard pressed to translate the idiom, compromised on "Go to Hell!" The ultimatum had been signed rather ambiguously by "The German Commander," and none of the German generals then in the Bastogne sector seem to have been anxious to claim authorship.14 Lt. Col. Paul A Danahy, G-2 of the 101st, saw to it that the story was circulated-and appropriately embellished-in the daily periodic report: "The Commanding General's answer was, with a sarcastic air of humorous tolerance, emphatically negative." Nonetheless the 101st expected that the coming day-the 23d-would be rough.

Read the rest, here.

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by John on Dec 22, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 21, 2006

December 21, 1944

SC270947. U.S. troops of the 28th Infantry Division, who have been regrouped in security platoons for defense of Bastogne, Belgium, march down a street. Some of these soldiers lost their weapons during the German advance in this area. Bastogne, Belgium (12-20-44) Signal Corps Photo #ETO-HQ-44-30380 (Tec 5 Wesley B. Carolan).

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One Threat Subsides; Another Emerges

The Attempt To Relieve Peiper's Kampfgruppe

The quick and cheaply won victories which had taken Peiper's armored kampfgruppe so close to the Meuse bridges in so short a time may have blinded the higher German staffs for a while to the fact that Peiper was in danger. By the 21st, however, the most strenuous efforts were being made to save the ground he had won north of the Amblève and to rescue the men and matériel in his command. What happened to leave the kampfgruppe stranded and alone?

The 1st SS Panzer Division had begun its drive west in four march groups moving independently. The bulk of the 1st Panzer Regiment, a motorized battalion of armored infantry, a mobile company of engineers, and a battery of self-propelled artillery (as well as most of the gasoline available) had gone to Peiper with the expectation that the armored weight and the mobile character of this spearhead detachment would permit a quick breakthrough and exploitation even to the Meuse River. The balance of the division was to follow hard on Peiper's heels, provide reinforcement as required, and keep the line of communications open until such time as following divisions could take over and be prepared to re-form as a unit at the Meuse. By noon of 17 December Peiper's kampfgruppe was out of touch with the second and third march columns of the division and was racing alone toward the west. The strongest of the rearward columns, the fourth, which amounted to a reinforced armored infantry regiment, had been held up by mines at the entrance to its designated route' and in fact never made a start until 18 December. The student of first causes may wish to speculate on the fateful role of the unknown cavalry, engineers, and foot soldiers who laid the mines between Lanzerath and Manderfeld, thus delaying most of the 1st SS Panzer Division armored infantry for a critical twenty-four hours.

Read the rest here.


One of the interesting thing about this photo of Tank Destroyers being used as artillery is they are firing two different types of ammo.  The one on the left is firing standard ammunition, with the associated bright flash.  The one on the right is firing a specially-developed low-flash ammo.

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by John on Dec 21, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 20, 2006

Dec 20, 1944

  SC 198296. Members of Company B,  630th Tank Destroyer Battalion, who lost their vehicles during the advance to Belgium, take Infantry positions on a hill covering an approach in Wiltz, Bastogne, Belgium on December 20. Signal Corps Photo ETO-44-30382 (Carolan).

During the night of l9-20 December the advance kampfgruppe of the 12th SS Panzer Division and the bulk of one regiment from the 12 Volks Grenadier Division completed their assembly. About 0600 twenty German tanks and a rifle battalion converged on Dom Butgenbach in the early morning fog and mist from south and east. The front lit up as the American mortars and artillery shot illuminating shell over the roads leading to the village. Concentration after concentration then plunged down, three battalions of field artillery and a 90-mm. battery of antiaircraft artillery firing as fast as the pieces could be worked. The enemy infantry, punished by this fire and the stream of bullets from the American foxhole line wavered, but a handful of tanks rolled off the roads and into Dom Butgenbach. (They had shot down three bazooka teams and a Company H machine gun section.) Here, in the dark, battalion antitank guns placed to defend the 2d Battalion command post went to work firing point-blank at the exhaust flashes as the German vehicles passed. Two enemy tanks were holed and the rest fled the village, although the antitank gun crews suffered at the hands of the German bazooka teams that had filtered in with the tanks.

Read more here.

If you haven't noticed, I'm not following a specific trend here, other than trying to stick to actions of any particular day. Why? Historians make it easy - all nice, tidy, and wrapped with a bow. Participants see it through the straw of their existence and, in the case of more senior leaders, the sum of the straws of their subordinates.

Gun position on Elsenborn Ridge

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by John on Dec 20, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 19, 2006

19 December 1944

26TH Infantry area near Butgenbach. Troops positioning antitank gun.

Company officers commanding troops facing the enemy had been carefully briefed to avoid the word "withdrawal" in final instructions to their men. This was to be "a move to new positions"; all were to walk, not run. Col. Leland W. Skaggs' 741St Tank Battalion, tank destroyers from the 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion, and the 2d Division engineers would form a covering force in the villages, laying mines and beating off any attempt at "pursuit." Disengagement was made from left to right, "stripping" the 2d Division line from Rocherath to Wirtzfeld. First, the 2d Battalion of the 38th Infantry pulled out of the north edge of Rocherath; the 1st Battalion, deployed in both villages, followed; the 3d Battalion tacked on at Krinkelt. A half hour later, just as the Germans moved into Rocherath, Company C of the 644th and Company B of the 741st hauled out, the tanks carrying the engineers. The move through Wirtzfeld, now in flames, brought the 38th under German guns and resulted in some casualties and confusion, but at 0200 on 20 December the rear guard tank platoon left Wirtzfeld and half an hour later the 9th Infantry passed through the new lines occupied by the 38th Infantry a thousand yards west of the village.

Read more about that day here.

Wrecked German Panzer IV

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by John on Dec 19, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 18, 2006

December 18, 1944 Pacific

Those who go down to the sea in ships know that the ocean is a dangerous and fickle place.

Today in 1944, a typhoon severely battered Task Force 38, resulting in the loss of three destroyers and damage to numerous other vessels.

On 17 December 1944, the ships of Task Force 38, seven fleet and six light carriers, eight battleships, 15 cruisers, and about 50 destroyers were operating about 300 miles east of Luzon in the Philippine Sea. The carriers had just completed three days of heavy raids against Japanese airfields, suppressing enemy aircraft during the American amphibious operations against Mindoro in the Philippines. Although the sea had been becoming rougher all day, the nearby cyclonic disturbance gave relatively little warning of its approach. On 18 December, the small but violent typhoon overtook the Task Force while many of the ships were attempting to refuel. Many of the ships were caught near the center of the storm and buffeted by extreme seas and hurricane force winds. Three destroyers, USS Hull, USS Spence, and USS Monaghan, capsized and went down with practically all hands, while a cruiser, five aircraft carriers, and three destroyers suffered serious damage. Approximately 790 officers and men were lost or killed, with another 80 injured. Fires occurred in three carriers when planes broke loose in their hangars and some 146 planes on various ships were lost or damaged beyond economical repair by fires, impact damage, or by being swept overboard. This storm inflicted more damage on the Navy than any storm since the hurricane at Apia, Samoa in 1889. In the aftermath of this deadly storm, the Pacific Fleet established new weather stations in the Caroline Islands and, as they were secured, Manila, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. In addition, new weather central offices (for coordinating data) were established at Guam and Leyte.


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Structure of a typhoon captured by a Navy ship's radar. This storm was the second tropical storm to ever be observed on radar.

In the event, the Navy decided not to cashier anyone over the decision to not sail around the storm - but it was a near run thing.

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by John on Dec 18, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 18, 1944 Europe.

German Panther burning after being knocked out - with surviving crewman becoming a prisoner (ain't he glad this was in the West, and not the East...

The Defense of the Twin Villages 18 December

The German attempt to take Krinkelt and Rocherath during the night of 17-18 December had not been well coordinated, carried out as it was by the advance guards of two divisions attacking piecemeal in the dark over unknown terrain against resistance which was completely surprising. By the morning of 18 December, however, the enemy strength had increased substantially despite the miserable state of the woods roads leading to the twin villages. The 989th Regiment of the 277th Volks Grenadier Division (probably reinforced by a third battalion) had reached Rocherath. The 12th SS Panzer Division, whose tanks and armored infantry carriers made extremely slow progress on the muddy secondary roads quickly chewed up by churning tracks-was able by dawn to assemble the 25th Panzer Grenadier Regiment, an assault gun battalion, and one full tank battalion east of the villages. During the 18th this force was strengthened by one more tank battalion, the final armored commitment being about equally divided between Panther tanks and the heavy Tigers.

26th Infantry moving up to Butgenbach

I had the honor, while a battery commander, to be mentored by BG(R) Seitz, the officer who commanded the 26th Infantry.

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by John on Dec 18, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 17, 2006

17 December, 1944.

German troops advancing past wrecked US equipment, a 3inch anti-tank gun and it's burning M3 Half-track prime mover.  From a captured German newsreel.

The German Effort Continues 17-18 December

Although hard hit and in serious trouble at the end of the first day, particularly on the right flank as General Lauer saw it, the inexperienced 99th Division had acquitted itself in a manner calculated to win the reluctant admiration of the enemy. German losses had been high. Where the American lines had been penetrated, in the 393d and 394th sectors, the defenders simply had been overwhelmed by superior numbers of the enemy who had been able to work close in through the dense woods. Most important of all, the stanch defense of Losheimergraben had denied the waiting tank columns of the I SS Panzer Corps direct and easy entrance to the main Büllingen-Malmédy road.

The initial German failure to wedge an opening for armor through the 99th, for failure it must be reckoned, was very nearly balanced by the clear breakthrough achieved in the 14th Cavalry Group sector. The 3d Parachute Division, carrying the left wing of the I SS Panzer Corps forward, had followed the retreating cavalry through Manderfeld, swung north, and by dusk had troops in Lanzerath-only two kilometers from the 3d Battalion, 394th, position at Buchholz.

The 12th SS Panzer Division could not yet reach the Büllingen road. The 1st SS Panzer Division stood ready and waiting to exploit the opening made by the 3d Parachute Division by an advance via Lanzerath onto the Honsfeld road. During the early evening the advance kampfgruppe of the 1st SS Panzer Division, a task force built around the 1st SS Panzer Regiment (Obersturmbannfuehrer Joachim Peiper), rolled northwest to Lanzerath. At midnight-an exceptionally dark night-German tanks and infantry struck suddenly at Buchholz. The two platoons of Company K, left there when the 3d Battalion stripped its lines to reinforce the Losheimergraben defenders, were engulfed. One man, the company radio operator, escaped. Hidden in the cellar of the old battalion command post near the railroad station, he reported the German search on the floor above, then the presence of tanks outside the building with swastikas painted on their sides. His almost hourly reports, relayed through the 1st Battalion, kept the division headquarters informed of the German movements. About 0500 on 17 December the main German column began its march through Buchholz. Still at his post, the radio operator counted thirty tanks, twenty-eight half-tracks filled with German infantry, and long columns of foot troops marching by the roadside. All of the armored task force of the 1st SS Panzer Division and a considerable part of the 3d Parachute Division were moving toward Honsfeld.

Honsfeld, well in the rear area of the 99th, was occupied by a variety of troops. The provisional unit raised at the division rest camp seems to have been deployed around the town. Two platoons

Read the rest, here.

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by John on Dec 17, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 16, 2006

16 December 1944

The Battle of the Bulge Begins.

Geman soldier advancing during the Battle of the Bulge.  Taken from a german newsreel.

 SC 197925. Btry C, 702 TD Bn., 2nd Armored Division, tank destroyer on dug-in ramp has plenty of elevation to hurl shells at long range enemy targets across the Roer River.</p>

<p>L-r: Sgt. Earl F. Scholz, Pvt. George E. Van Horne, and Pfc. Samuel R. Marcum. US Ninth Army. (16 Dec 1944).

Troop with water-cooled .30 cal Browning M1919 mounted on his jeep

You can read about the opening of the offensive here, from the official US Army history.

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by John on Dec 16, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 07, 2006

And more memories fade away.

USS Oklahoma survivor Jerry Tessaro, left, shakes hands with fellow USS Oklahoma survivor Raymond Richmond during the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, USS Oklahoma Lobby Display Dedication ceremony at Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Dec. 6, 2006. The ceremony is honoring the historic tie between the Pearl Harbor shipyard workers who aided in the rescue of 32 Sailors from the capsized ship in the days following Dec. 7, 1941. DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James E. Foehl, U.S. Navy. (Released)


USS Oklahoma survivor Jerry Tessaro, left, shakes hands with fellow USS Oklahoma survivor Raymond Richmond during the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, USS Oklahoma Lobby Display Dedication ceremony at Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Dec. 6, 2006. The ceremony is honoring the historic tie between the Pearl Harbor shipyard workers who aided in the rescue of 32 Sailors from the capsized ship in the days following Dec. 7, 1941. DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James E. Foehl, U.S. Navy. (Released)

But this year's reunion holds an urgency that hasn't been part of gatherings past: Most Pearl Harbor survivors, nearing their 90s or even older, say it will be their final trip back to this place that changed the course of their lives and their nation forever. Event organizers--many of them children of survivors who are ailing or already have died--pragmatically are calling this the "final reunion." And survivors' extended families, including children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, are coming along to the reunion in unprecedented numbers to glimpse history firsthand through their loved one's eyes before the opportunity is gone.

Read the rest here.

And locally, it's fading here, too.

Survivors’ message expected to fade. Pearl Harbor veterans fear that, as they make this year’s local remembrance their last. By BRIAN BURNES The Kansas City Star The goal of those who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor: Keep everyone else from forgetting the Japanese attack of Dec. 7, 1941.

That will be harder to do after Thursday. At 10 a.m., local survivors who have been organizing an annual anniversary remembrance will hold their last observance of the event that ushered America into World War II.

Time has greatly thinned the ranks of the Kansas City Metro Chapter III of the national Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. Those still alive are getting too old to organize the annual event or, sometimes, to attend it.

So Thursday’s observance at the Sylvester Powell Community Center in Mission, they say, will be the final chapter.

“We think it’s been valuable for people who hadn’t known anything about Pearl Harbor,” said Jack Carson of Overland Park, who left last weekend for Hawaii to attend ceremonies marking the attack’s 65th anniversary. “We’ve invited schoolchildren and everyone else.

“But we are all getting old now, and it’s almost too much to get anything done.”

Read the rest here. I almost caused an early decrement to the number of Pearl Harbor survivors. I was driving from Fort Sill to Fort Leavenworth for a conference, and I passed a car with an older couple in it on the turnpike. The car had a Pearl Harbor Survivor license plate. I was in uniform, as I was going straight from the car into a meeting.

As I passed, I saluted. The driver, somewhat startled, returned the salute. And almost drove off the road. So, ma'am, if you're still out there and you visit the Castle - I apologize for causing your husband to scare you witless. At least that's what I assumed you were saying, but it was hard to tell from all the wild gesticulating going on...

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by John on Dec 07, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

0755AM, December 7, 1941.

Air Raid Pearl Harbor. This is no drill.

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There are more pictures. I moved them below the fold into the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry to ease the burden on our dial-up visitors.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

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by John on Dec 07, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

November 30, 2006

Reilly's Battery... Battery F, 5th US Field Artillery

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...A final council of war assigned each national contingent a gate to attack along the city’s outer walls but agreed to postpone the assault when the Russian commander stated that his troops needed time to recuperate from the grueling march from Tientsin. The agreement was short lived, however, for on the evening of August 13 the Russians stole a march on the rest of the allies and attacked Peking on their own at the gate originally assigned to the Americans. News of the Russian action led first the Japanese and then the American and British contingents to make a mad dash for the city. There, on the morning of the fourteenth, they found the Russians pinned down at the Tung Pien gate unable to make further headway. Soldiers of the 14th Infantry scaled the city’s outer wall and cleared the gate, relieving the trapped Russians and opening the way for additional soldiers to pour into the city. Meanwhile, the British penetrated the outer wall at another point and relieved the legation quarter. The following day, Capt. Henry J. Reilly’s Light Battery F of the U.S. 5th Artillery shattered the gates of the city’s inner wall with several well-placed salvos, opening the way for the allied troops to occupy the central Imperial City.

Excerpted from Chapter 15 of American Military History Vol 1, from the US Army Center For Military History.

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An interesting little tidbit I came across as I was doing a little research for these pics of Reilly's Battery - look at the number of Medals of Honor awarded to members of the China Relief Expedition. MG Adna Chaffee commanded 2500 Marines, Soldiers and Sailors in this campaign - that lasted all of two months in terms of fighting, with three major fights, Tientsin 13 July 1900, Yang-tsun 6 August 1900, Peking 14-15 August 1900.

Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom have generated... two (though there may be some more in the works.).

Food for thought there. Regarding standards, expectations, culture... and politics.


Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Nov 30, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

October 25, 2006

At the gallop, Charge!


The Charge of the Light Brigade, from Simpson's


`Forward the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldiers knew
Someone had blundered:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the Six Hundred


October 25, 1854. The Battle of Balaklava, and the Charge of the Light Brigade. Was there a man dismayed? I rather daresay yes! And not the Russian artillerymen who were on all three sides shooting down into the bowl. Well, until the end there, when the now-really peeved troopers were amongst the guns. Then the Gunners were probably a touch dismayed.



Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd & thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack & Russian
Reel'd from the sabre-stroke,
Shatter'd & sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.



Shako badge of the 13th.

Some period photography is available here.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.



The Charge of the Light Brigade,
Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Honor the charge they made - but you can still marvel at the officers who thought it a good idea.

Of course, the officers of the Light Brigade might have been influenced by the performance of the Heavy Brigade and of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders the day before - when the 93rd Regiment under the command of Sir Colin Campbell earned the sobriquet "The Thin Red Line" when they stopped the charge of the Russian cavalry.

While the overall Russian force numbered 25,000, only their cavalry pushed down the road to Balaklava. First to receive the Russian attack was Scarlett's Heavy Cavalry Brigade. The rest swept by to charge the 93rd drawn up in line, rather than in a more traditional square, the accepted formation for infantry receiving a charge of cavalry.

"There is no retreat from here, men," Campbell said as he rode along the line, "you must die where you stand." They regiment presented and fired two volleys, breaking the oncoming cavalry into two groups that split and spun into a full retreat. Seeing the backs of the enemy, some Redcoats started a bayonet charge, but Campbell called them off with, "93rd, 93rd, damn all that eagerness!"

A newspaper correspondent, Mr. W. H. Russell, was standing on the hill overlooking the valley. It was clear from that vantage point that nothing stood between the Russian cavalry and the British base on the water but the "thin red streak tipped with a line of steel" of the 93rd. That phrase morphed into "The Thin Red Line" a phrase that encapuslates the Highland Regiments, and indeed, Brit infantry in general.

When asked why he had been so unorthodox as to receive a cavalry charge in line vice a square. Sir Colin Campbell responded; "I knew the 93rd, and I did not think it worth the trouble of forming a square."


October 14, 2006

Busy day in History...

...for battles, anyway.

1066: Hastings.

1431: The Catholic Hapsburgs beat up on the Protestant Hussites at Waidhofen - the only websites I found are in german.

1758, Frederick the Great gets his butt handed to him by the Austrians at Hochkirch.


1805 - It didn't always go Austria's way today. In 1805 Marshal Ney spanked Feldmarschall-Leutnant Graf von Riesch at Eichingen.

1806 - While Napoleon was spanking the Prussians at Jena, Davout destroyed them at Auerstadt, taking the Prussians out of the picture until Blücher shows up in 1813 for the beginning of the end. The Germans didn't always beat the French...

1912 - Teddy Roosevelt's life is saved by an excessively wordy speech - which he delivers even after he was shot...

1943 - Black Thursday. The 8th AF bombs the Schweinfurt ball bearing factory.

by John on Oct 14, 2006

October 11, 2006

The Fighting 69th...

On this day in 1860, Colonel Corcoran, commander of the 69th New York State Militia - refused to parade his regiment of Irish immigrants for a visiting dignitary, the Prince of Wales, in protest to the British Government's response to the Irish Famine.

He was arrested, and remanded for Courts Martial. All of which was forgotten when Fort Sumter was fired on and the Civil War opened. Good thing, too - the 69th was a key player at Bull Run, as a part of the Irish Brigade, in that sad way that many Irish regiments are important in history - as bulwarks for retreating armies.

The Fighting 69th still fights.

We also got some good music out of it - and note in the song - the predecessors of the FDNY were "going up when we were coming down" way back in the day, too.

Boys that Wore the Green

Boys that Wore the Green
(William Woodburn)

On the twenty-first of July, beneath the burning sun.
McDowell met the Southern troops in battle, at Bull Run;
Above the Union vanguard, was proudly dancing seen,
Beside the starry banner, old Erin's flag of green.

Colonel Corcoran led the Sixty-ninth on that eventful day,
I wish the Prince of Wales were there to see him in the fray;
His charge upon the batteries was a most glorious scene,
With gallant New York firemen, and the boys that wore the green.

In the hottest of the fire there rode along the line
A captain of a Zouave band, crying, "Now, boys, is your time;"
Ah! who is he so proudly rides, with bold and dauntless mien?
'Tis Thomas Francis Meagher, of Erin's isle of green!

The colors of the Sixty-ninth, I say it without shame,
Were taken in the struggle to swell the victor's fame;
But Farnham's dashing Zouaves, that run with the machine,
Retook them in a moment, with the boys that wore the green!

Being overpowered by numbers, our troops were forced to flee,
The Southern black horse cavalry on them charged furiously;
But in that hour of peril, the flying mass to screen,
Stood the gallant New York firemen, with the boys that wore the green.

Oh, the boys of the Sixty-ninth, they are a gallant band,
Bolder never drew a sword for their adopted land;
Amongst the fallen heroes, a braver had not been,
Than you lamented Haggerty, of Erin's isle of green.

Farewell, my gallant countrymen, who fell that fatal day,
Farewell, ye noble firemen, now mouldering in the clay;
Whilst blooms the leafy shamrock, whilst runs the old machine,
Your deeds will live bold Red Shirts, and Boys that Wore the Green!

by John on Oct 11, 2006

October 10, 2006

With all this politics stuff...

...I think we need some eye-candy.

How about the USS Idaho firing on Okinawa?


USS Idaho firing on Japanese positions on Okinawa, April 1945

Yeah, that works.

by John on Oct 10, 2006

September 21, 2006

Interesting day in history today...

1780 Benedict Arnold gives British Major John Andre the plans to West Point. Such is the price of consorting with double-turncoats.
1792 French National Convention abolishes the monarchy, cutting off the head of the government, so to speak. Well, the following January, at any rate.
1858 Charleston: Black freedmen sail in sloop Niagara for Liberia - a nation that has strayed disastrously from the promise of it's founding.
1872 James H. Conyers becomes the first black USNA midshipman.
1941 The first Liberty-ship, Patrick Henry, is launched. The Liberty ships were a triumph of US industry and wartime logistics.
1942 First flight of the B-29
1944 Last British paratroopers holding the bridge at Arnhem surrender. I met John Frost, standing on his bridge (well, the replacement) during the 40th Anniversary observation during REFORGER '84.

In honor of that... how about some PIAT Pr0n?

The PIAT in the holding of the Arsenal of Argghhh!!! in the hands of a Brit Para re-enactor at a militaria show at Fort Leavenworth.

The PIAT in the holdings of the Arsenal of Argghhh!!! in the hands of a Brit Para re-enactor at a militaria show at Fort Leavenworth.


I hadda keep an eye on this guy... he *really* liked the PIAT!

The thing's a bear to cock, with that 220lbs-resistance spring in there.

The thing's a bear to cock, with that 220lbs-resistance spring in there.

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by John on Sep 21, 2006
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September 20, 2006

Chickamauga...

The Armorer, as he has mentioned, is the namesake for a family member who was a veteran of the Orphan Brigade, the Kentucky Confederates.

And the blood runs strong. Pappy and I share a taste for tweaking. Especially members of the 4th Estate.

Pappy was an original joiner of the Brigade, and was with them to the bitter end. The Brigade was present at most of the big battles in the West (almost all losses for the South) and was, over time, effectively destroyed. The only real win in their column was Chickamauga, where the remnants of the Brigade were shattered while facing Thomas doing his "Rock of Chickamauga" thing.

This being the anniversary of the second day of Chickamauga, this seems a good time to tell the tale.... somewhere in the badly-organized Archives of Argghhh! (in meatspace, not cyber, where Google is your friend) is a tattered, yellowed piece of newsprint, from a Chattanooga paper, holding an article on the first Chickamauga reunion.

The story tells of Pappy Hays, currently of Paragould, Arkansas, who was a veteran of the Orphan Brigade. A grand storyteller (hey, he was Mayor and Justice of the Peace) he held forth of the trials and travails of the Orphans on that bloody day in north Georgia. Telling of how the supply situation for the Orphans had been so bad that many went into battle with the weapons that they had brought with them from home, when enlisting.

He recounted how, during that terrible second day, he'd found himself moving among Union dead near a tree in a field. He'd taken the opportunity to secure a fine new M1858 Springfield Rifled Musket from a bluebelly who no longer needed it, along with cartridge case and belt. And a nice new tin canteen, too. Not to mention some boots, although those came from a different fellow. The battle not yet won, however, he didn't want his family fowling piece to fall into Federal hands, and he couldn't carry them both, so he stashed it in a hollow in the tree.

Lo and behold - the tale being told while walking the battlefield - could that not be the very tree? That one, the farmer's shade tree in the center of the field? Excited, breathless, the crowd surges to the tree, where Pappy reaches in and... pulls out a shotgun! Gleefully, gripping the shotgun tightly, he exultantly pumps it in the air - he's found the family gun!

What a tale! Breathlessly reported!

And all hokum.

Pappy arrived a day early, and went by himself to visit the battlefield and make peace with his ghosts. Walking along the path the Orphans had marched, he crossed a field and came across a farmer plowing. The farmer showed him a shotgun he'd plowed up - one in much too good a shape to actually have been a relic of the battle, but, hey, people lose shotguns all the time... right? [The shotgun is the greater mystery. -the Armorer]

He took the gun and looked for a place to hide it - found the tree... and the rest is Historical Fact as Reported by the Press. Heh. Pappy Hays, spiritual fore-runner of Reuter's stringers...

Pappy lived a long, colorful life, and is buried in his Orphan Brigade uniform in the Meriwether family plot in Linwood Cemetery, Paragould, Arkansas. If you're in the area and want to go give him a salute, we plant our dead just to the east of the mausoleum (except my grandparents, who are *in* the mausoleum). And there's another story in there... that one with a Kansas City tie-in.

by John on Sep 20, 2006

August 15, 2006

V-J Day, 15 August 1945.

Maggie - sorry, how could I forget Eisenstadt's pic of the sailor kissing your spiritual forbear?

Sailor kissing a woman in Times Square VJ Day - Eisenstadt

TO MY GOOD AND LOYAL SUBJECTS:

After deeply pondering the general trends of the world and the current conditions of our Empire, I intend to effect a conclusion to the present situation by resorting to an extraordinary measure.

My subjects, I have ordered the Imperial Government to inform the four Governments of the United States, Great Britain, China and the Soviet Union that our Empire is willing to accept the provisions of their Joint Declaration.

The striving for peace and well-being of our imperial subjects, and the sharing of common happiness and prosperity amongst tens of thousands of nations is the duty left by our Imperial Ancestors, and I am the one who has not forgotten about this duty.

The Empire declared war against the United States and Great Britain for the desire to preserve, by ourselves, the Empire's existence in in East Asia and for the region's stability. As to the infringement of other nation's sovereignty and invasion of other territorial entities, those were not my original intent.

By now, the fighting has lasted for nearly four years. Despite the gallantry of our naval and land military forces, the diligence and assiduity of hundreds of civil service officers, and the public devotion and service of one hundred million of our people, the situation on the war has not turned for the better, and the general trends of the world are not advantageous to us either.

In addition, the enemy has recently used a most cruel explosive. The frequent killing of innocents and the effect of destitution it entails are incalculable. Should we continue fighting in the war, it would cause not only the complete Annihilation of our nation, but also the destruction of the human civilization. With this in mind, how should I save billions of our subjects and their posterity, and atone ourselves before the hallowed spirits of Our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why I ordered the Imperial Government to accept the Joint Declaration.

I, from the start, have worked with our various Allied nations towards the liberation of East Asia, and I cannot refrain from expressing my deepest sense of regret to our Allies. The thought of our Imperial subjects dying in the battlefields, sacrificing themselves in the line of duty, and those who died in vain and their relatives, pains my heart and body to the point of fragmentation.

As for the bearing of the wounds of war, the tragedies of war, and the welfare of the those who lost their families and careers, it is the objects of our profound solicitude. From today hereafter, the Empire will endure excruciating hardships. I am keenly aware of the feelings of my subjects, but in accordance to the dictates of fate, I am willing to endure the unendurable, tolerate the intolerable, for peace to last thousands of generations.

Having always protected the Imperial State in general, I rely on the loyal subject's integrity and sincerity, and I shall always be with you subjects.

If we become stimulated by sensations, and begin to engender needless complications, engage in fraternal contention and strike or create confusion, we will become astray and lose the confidence of the world. We must rally the nation, and continue from generation to generation to entrench the imperishability of this sacred state.

Aware of the heavy responsibility and the long road ahead, we must focus completely on the future's construction, follow strictly the ways of our noble morals with determination and resolution. We swear to foster and spread the glory and essence of our Imperial State, so we will not fall behind the evolution of the world. It is my hope that my subjects will understand my intentions

Short version: They kicked our a$$. It hurts. Their Navy is off the coast, ready to keep kicking us in the a$$. Please stop. My bad.

One reason the Navy was off their coast? A nice, little representative example of decadent westerners?

Rear Admiral Sprague's order: "Small boys - intercept."

Three destroyers and three destroyer escorts went up against battleships and cruisers, in order to save the jeep carriers of Taffy 3, consisting of escort carriers USS Fanshaw Bay (CVE-70), USS Gambier Bay (CVE-73), USS Kalinin Bay (CVE-68), USS Kitkun Bay (CVE-71), USS Saint Louis (CVE-63) and USS White Plains (CVE-66).

They were escorted by the 'tin cans' USS Hoel (DD-553), USS Johnston (DD-557) and USS Heermann (DD-532), and the destroyer escorts USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413), USS Raymond (DE-341), USS Dennis (DE-405) and USS John C. Butler (DE-339).

They faced a force from the Imperial Japanese Navy consisting of 11 destroyers, 2 light and 6 heavy cruisers, and 4 battleships, including the Yamato, the largest battleship ever built.

In the Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, they won. 'Nuff said. The Battle off Samar. Just one episode among many in the Pacific War. That lead to Victory over Japan.

by John on Aug 15, 2006
» MilBlogs links with: Just a little historical note.

August 11, 2006

Vietnam... many years on. Down Under.

From Kev Gillette's blog, via CAPT H.

I never thought I’d live to see the day. In todays Australian the Vietnamese have admitted Australia won the Battle of Long Tan. With several hundred Vietnamese versus 18 Australians dead; with the fact neither the North Vietnamese Army nor the local Viet Cong never ever engaged Australians in major battles after that day and with their plan to annhilate the Australian Task Force by attacking the base with a 2,500 man regiment stopped dead by 108 Aussie infantrymen from Delta Coy, 6RAR; one wonders why anyone could ever think differently.

But wait - there's more!

If I was amazed to read the Vietnamese had finally acknowledged D Coy kicked their arse at Long Tan, I was stunned to read in the Australian editorial that it was their considered opinion that our presence in Vietnam has been vindicated.
It has been more than 30 years since the fall of Saigon. Although this newspaper opposed the war in hindsight, the history of Vietnam under communist rule seems to vindicate the effort. Ho Chi Minh’s Stalinist regime was monstrous, even as it was lionised in the West. Vietnam still struggles under political and economic repression. But by stemming the totalitarian tide that was sweeping southeast Asia at the time, Australian and US troops may have saved countless millions.

[full bit here]

Thirty eight years ago, I, as an army NCO was well aware that all Stalinist regimes were monstrous and that if anything, Ho Chi Minh’s regime would be worse - the Australian finally gets the picture and agrees publically.

Up here we have a saying at times like this, I'll Ozzie it up a bit: "Welcome home, Digger."

by John on Aug 11, 2006
» Media Lies links with: Fantastic news....

Coast Guard News.

A Wounded Wiley

From Larry K, a proud father of a Coastie:

Retired Master Chief Petty Officer Mark McKenney has officially decreed roughly eight acres of land in West Harwich, Mass., including a main house and two apartment buildings, to the Coast Guard to be used in the future for housing and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) purposes.

The dedication will occur on the 40th anniversary of the first two Coast Guard members who were killed in Vietnam aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Point Welcome, where McKenney served as a gunners mate.

BZ, Master Chief.

For more on that story, click here.

For more on the USCGC Point Welcome and an explanation of the picture that accompanies this post, click here.

by John on Aug 11, 2006

July 24, 2006

A series of fortuitous events.

Or how a retired artilleryman found himself traveling to Mexico to help repatriate a US WWII Fletcher-class destroyer back to the United States.

"In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth."

No, that's going a bit *too* far back I think. This is a blog post, not a Bill Whittle essay. Hmmmm.

So, what do Jonah Goldberg, torpedoes, Destroyers, Mexico, and I have in common?

During the March Upcountry, the campaign was being followed on the National Review Online blog, "The Corner," a blog started by Jonah. I was emailing Jonah comments and observations on what was going on, and Jonah started posting some of them. And he called me his "Military Guy," just as Dusty was doing at the same time, earning the sobriquet of "Airpower Guy." (Now the tagline for the blog makes more sense, eh? Well, except for the Sugarbuttons part, but that's a different story). SWWBO was impressed, blogs were new, and suddenly "Argghhh!" appeared on Blogspot. Okay. What's that got to do with me, Mexico, and a destroyer?


Robert Whitehead, inventor of the locomotion torpedo

Well, first, I have to thank Robert Whitehead. Why? He invented the locomotive torpedo in 1868. When Admiral Farragut said "Damn the torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead!" on August 5, 1864 at the Battle of Mobile Bay, what he was referring to was, to modern sensibilities, a type of floating mine made out of beer and wine casks.

Now they are a tad more complex.

Navies jumped on this idea - lots of small, fast boats, carrying weapons capable of sinking the big warships. What's not to like? Especially if you can't *afford* those big capital ships yourself? (Lest anyone think that was a quaint, outmoded idea... can you say Boghammer, or talk to the crew of the USS Cole?)

HMS Lightning, the Royal Navy's first torpedo boat.

*That* offended the Battleship Admirals of the Royal Navy, who didn't like the thought of little boats commanded by Ensigns sinking the floating fortresses commanded by Captains and carrying Admirals. Ships commanded by Lieutenant Commanders, perhaps, but not Ensigns! Field Grade, at least!

So in 1886 they developed a new class of ship. Fast, lightly armored, carrying lots of fast-firing weapons and, *koff*, torpedoes. They were intended to deal with the deadly little mosquitoes. And these they grandiosely titled "Torpedo Boat Catchers."

But wait! That was waaaay too passive sounding, so it quickly changed to "Torpedo Boat Destroyers." This was later shortened to "Destroyers." Staff Officers in the halls of power aren't much different now, wanting to change "Happy" to "Glad" and score that medal (see Norman Polmar's article "Perverting the System" in the July 2006 issue of Proceedings)!

Now you know how Destroyers got their designation.

I'll spare you the horrible details of Destroyer Development, despite how much fun I've had reading about it.

Fast forward to 1941, and the next event. December 7. Pearl Harbor. WWII. And now the US is going to go on a shipbuilding binge without parallel in modern history And we're going to need modern destroyers to escort and scout and sub-hunt and bombard shores, etc. Lot's of them.

While we went into the war with several classes of Destroyer, the workhorses of the war were the Fletchers. And this story will revolve around the last of the "High Bridge" Fletchers, DD-574, the USS John Rodgers. The Rodgers received more battle stars from her service in World War II than any other surviving destroyer from that war. Which is one of the reasons we want to keep her out of the hands of the breakers.

After the war, she found herself at loose ends and in storage, when she got a new lease on life - in the Mexican Navy. The ship was transferred to Mexico 1 May 1968. She served in the Mexican Navy as BAM Cuitláhuac, named after Cuitláhuac (?–1520), the second-to-last Aztec emperor of the Mexica.

<i>BAM Cuitláhuac</i>, the ex-<i>USS John Rodgers</i>, DD-574

The Cuitláhuac was retired by the Mexican Navy 16 July 2002—bringing to an end the 60-year history of the Fletchers.

Enter Bob Owens of Confederate Yankee, and Ward Brewer of Beauchamp Tower Corporation (BTC). More details on BTC and Ward's plans for coastal disaster response ships and how all *that* ties to this in a later post.... Ward collects warships like I collect rifles. Obviously, Ward isn't an employee of the government... Ward is also not a fan of the MSM. He wanted the story of the repatriation of the Rodgers to be told by milbloggers, and asked Bob for a recommendation. Bob recommended me.

The Cuitláhuac was transferred to the ownership of U.S.-based nonprofit Beauchamp Tower Corporation on December 7, 2005. She will be moved back to the United States in 2006 and restored, with it ultimately becoming a World War II Pacific Theater Museum.

She starts her tow back the US 1 August, with an expected arrival at Mobile around 15 August.

And I'm going to cover it. We leave Wednesday for the Mexican Navy base at Lázaro Cardenas del Rio to do the final inspection and rig her for tow.

I'm the Project Scribe. And, since I'm the Armorer, I'm also the guy who's going to secure her guns so that the State Department will rest comfortably that we aren't going to be engaging in any piracy while we schlep her back to Mobile, Alabama, not all that far from where she was launched, the Consolidated Steel Corporation shipyards of Orange, Texas.

She'll be met at the International Limit by a Coast Guard cutter and escorted to her temporary home while Customs and the ATFE do their jobs. Several of her former crew will meet her there, going out on the cutter to greet their old ship upon her return.

Now, ain't this just cool? I don't make any money blogging - but this is a nice perk!

Follow the story day by day as it unfolds. I'm also shilling for links to the posts documenting the return of the Rodgers. Mr. Ward Brewer, the leader of our merry band, wants this story to be spread by the blogosphere, and is eschewing the MSM (we are bringing a documentary film crew).

If you'd like to be on the distro list for the posts related to this project, drop me a line at johnbethd*at*yahoo.com and I'll add you to the distro. That's anyone, not just milbloggers!

i'm also looking for bloggers near Mobile, Alabama who would be able to be there 15-18 August when the Rodgers is expected to arrive. You could score a trip out on the Coast Guard cutter with her former crew members who are going out to meet her when she arrives.

by John on Jul 24, 2006
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» The Gantry Launchpad links with: When Johnny comes sailing home again, hurrah!

July 21, 2006

Ooops.

I was busy yesterday. I forgot this. One of my favorite days *ever*

by John on Jul 21, 2006

July 10, 2006

USDB - old school.

In a post last week about the likely accomodations of Lieutenant Watada should his Courts Martial go as I expect, vice how he hopes (although who knows, the martyr streak may run in him) there was some confusion about the United States Disciplinary Barracks vice the United States Penitentiary. While those were resolved, I got asked if I had any pictures of the old USDB - and the answer is yes.

The DB is technically, I believe, the oldest continually operational federal prison, and has, over it's history actually housed federal prisoners in addtion to military prisoners. It was DB prisoners, civil and military, who built the "Big House" in Leavenworth at the dawn of the previous century.

The original prison was established in 1875 and contained in the buildings of the old Quartermaster Depot, made available when depot operations were moved to Rock Island Arsenal.

The old DB was called "The Castle" and was one of only 3-5 prisons of this type built. It had gotten so old and diplapidated, and was not suitable for modern notions of penology, that it got replaced by the new DB mentioned in the previous post.

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The "Castle" is the structure with the silver dome. It has been completely demolished and carted away to landfill. I thought we missed an opportunity in the demolition - they should have taken it apart level by level - and taken the opportunity to see what sort of ingenious methods the inmates used to hide contraband and who knows what activities over the years. The rest of the buldings remain standing as the Garrison scratches it's collective head trying to figure out what to do with 'em.

Back in the day, if you were a soldier, you could get tours of the prison. Sobering - it sucked to be a prisoner - and it sucked to be a guard. I suspect it still sucks for prisoners, but the new facility is better overall for both classes of people. Here's a glimpse into one of the cell blocks.

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From the outside, at ground level, looking just over the wall, you can see why it got the name, "The Castle."

This picture is taken from the west looking east, from about where the Post Veterinarian office is today.

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The wall still stands - the building is a bad memory.

by John on Jul 10, 2006

July 03, 2006

July 3, 1863. July 3, 2006

Pickett's Charge, the core event of Longstreet's Grand Assault.

"General, I have no division..."
-Major General George Edward Pickett to General Lee at Gettysburg
July 3, 1863

Keep this in mind, when considering the Iraqi Amnesty Plan, however it goes forward.

The names of the places associated with the charge are deeply indented on the American conscience. Every summer, "The Angle" and "The High Water Mark" are crowded with visitors who come to commemorate the event and ponder those terrible minutes when American killed American in a desperate contest of wills and ideals. So much carnage in such a small place- it is difficult for us today to realize the horror those young men faced, and how quickly the hopes of the North and South were determined in this famous battle.

The genius of Lincoln (I can hear Jim C. and JTG gagging, while Rich B. applauds enthusiastically - the war isn't over yet...) was his plan for post-war reconciliation. Leave aside the arguments about who started the war and why - keep focused on how it ended. The main Army of the loser defeated in the field, smaller Armies still intact, with not a few guerrilla bands active. And a continuing insurgency in some places.

But the key piece is there had recently been a lot of Americans killing Americans - and a lot of Northerners who wanted several mass hangings after the war. President Andrew Johnson got impeached essentially for staying the course Lincoln set for Reconstruction. The nation went through a lot during that period, with a Military Occupation, the Carpet Baggers, the slow recovery of the more devastated areas of the South, the rise of the KKK (a Saddam Fedayeen of it's day - like that comparison or no) and paroxysms of violence - especially aimed at blacks - that lasted a long time. A century after the seminal event itself.

Yet our anti-Bush and anti-war elites act as if Iraq should resolve itself immediately or that it is indicative of total, abject failure. And if Iraq doesn't look like a Mayberry RFD equivalent damn soon, then the whole thing was a cock-up (as if the Civil War wasn't a 4 year long cock-up, too).

And then, when the Iraqi's try to exercise a little sovereignty - the amnesty plan - many from that herd erupt in righteous indignation. "No amnesty for people who killed Americans!"

Heh. Like there isn't ample precedent for just such an amnesty. And if it will bring peace to the region... hmmm... wasn't that what we went in for?

Oh, right. It was Oil, and the sekrit directions from the Israeli Cabinet. Sorry, I forgot.

Point being - to me the model that appeals is the one we applied in Germany after WWII. De-Nazification. Essentially amnesty for the German regular military establishment and government officials, investigation and prosecution of the most egregious of the senior military and civilian leadership, and the making of the SS anathema. While you can argue the merits of the way the bulk of the Waffen SS were treated, because we largely didn't understand the labyrinthine organizational structure of the SS in general (a discussion I'm not delving into here) it strikes me this model can apply to Iraq, under the aegis of the Iraqi government - with the Saddam Fedayeen types filling the role of the Waffen SS, the Baathist party the Nazi Party, and yes, absent the war crime style killings (such as PFCs Menchaca and Tucker), give those militias/insurgents willing to work the issues a pass on their military activities, peel them away from the foreigners, and further isolate those bastards. The foreign fighters? They can be handled as were the Totenkopf Verbande - the Death's Head units that comprised the Einsatzgruppen and Concentration Camp guards. Hang 'em, shoot 'em, imprison 'em.

And let the Iraqis stumble their way into their future, which will hopefully include fewer and fewer of us.

But lets not just get in a high dudgeon whenever the Iraqis start to actually exercise a little sovereignty. They aren't us, they are going to make their own way.

Yeah, it may fail - but that was true from the start. The region isn't famous for stable well-run states except the small ones awash in money... who import a lot of the people who make it work for them. So nothing over there is going to be easy or fast or cheap.

by John on Jul 03, 2006

June 06, 2006

D-Day, H-Hour

The Order. So clean, so clear, so simple.

The result.

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The Short-Term Cost.

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The Long-Term Gain.

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by John on Jun 06, 2006
» BLACKFIVE links with: D-Day Remembered
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H-5, D-Day.

Donald R. Burgett - a Screaming Eagle of the 101st Airborne who dropped on D-Day. An excerpt from his book, Currahee! A Screaming Eagle At Normandy, which is well worth the read.

Screaming Eagle before loading the aircraft


The time was 1:14 A.M. June 6, 1944. Suddenly the green light flashed on.

"Let's go," screamed Lieutenant Muir at the top of his voice, and he, along with Carter and Thomas gave the big bundle a shove. Lieutenant Muir followed it out; Carter did a quick left turn and followed him into the prop blast; Thomas did a right turn and followed Carter. I could see their static lines snap tight against the edge of the door and vibrate there with the force of the outside wind pulling on them.

"Go," a voice screamed in my brain! "Hurry!" Speed was the most important thing now, so we would all land as close together as possible. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion again, but I knew that it was really happening in just fractions of seconds as I made my right turn into the door and with a left pivot leaped into dark space.

There were thirteen men following me out the door, but I couldn't see any of them. Doubled up and grasping my reserve chute, I could feel the rush of air, hear the crackling of the canopy as it unfurled, followed by the sizzling suspension lines, then the connector links whistling past the back of my helmet. Instinctively the muscles of my body tensed for the opening shock, which nearly unjointed me when the canopy blasted open. From the time I left the door till the chute opened, less than three seconds had elapsed. I pulled the risers apart to check the canopy and saw tracer bullets passing through it; at the same moment I hit the ground and came in backward so hard that I was momentarily stunned.

I lay on my back shaking my head; the chute had collapsed itself. The first thing I did was to draw my .45, cock the hammer back and slip the safety on. Troopers weren't issued pistols, but my father had purchased this one from a gun collector in Detroit and sent it to me in a package containing a date-and-nut cake. Captain Davis kept it in his possession for me and let me carry it on field problems. He had returned it to me when we entered the marshaling area.

The pilots were supposed to drop us between 600 and 700 feet, but I know that my drop was between 250 and 300 feet. The sky was lit up like the Fourth of July. I lay there for a moment and gazed at the spectacle. It was awe inspiring; I have never seen anything like it before or since. But I couldn't help wondering at the same time if I had got the opening shock first or hit the ground first; they were mighty close together.

The snaps on the harness were almost impossible to undo, and as I lay there on my back working on them, another plane came in low and diagonally over the field. The big ship was silhouetted against the lighter sky with long tongues of exhaust flame flashing along either side of the body. Streams of tracers from several machine guns flashed upward to converge on it. Then I saw vague, shadowy figures of troopers plunging downward. Their chutes were pulling out of the pack trays and just starting to unfurl when they hit the ground. Seventeen men hit the ground before their chutes had time to open. They made a sound like large ripe pumpkins being thrown down to burst against the ground.

"That dirty son of a bitch pilot," I swore to myself, "he's hedgehopping and killing a bunch of troopers just to save his own ass. I hope he gets shot down in the Channel and drowns real slow."

There wasn't any sense in going to those men, for I had seen the results of me hitting the ground with unopened chutes before. If by some miracle one of them were still alive, he would be better off to be left alone to die as quickly as possible; it would be more merciful.

By this time I was free of my harness, had my rifle assembled and loaded, and had crawled to my canopy. Cutting a panel out with my knife, I stuffed it into a pocket to use for camouflage later, and then started out to find someone else, anyone else. More planes went over, but they were flying so low, fast and scattered that it was impossible to orient myself with their direction. I would have to play this one by instinct. In fact, all the troopers would have to do it this way. We were so widely scattered that all the months of practiced assemblies in the dark were shot in the ass. We would have to do this one on our own.

The night was one of those mild June nights that poets write about, but this was neither the time nor the place for poetry. There was the booming of antiaircraft guns and mortars all around and the close stitching of German light and heavy machine guns raking the skies and hedgerows. Small arms fire erupted everywhere and sometimes it broke out hotter than the hinges on hell's gates in one spot. It would rise in ferocity until the fire power became a loud roar, then gradually taper off, sometimes even coming to a complete silence. I could see a mental picture of a few paratroopers running into a German fortification and fighting until they either took the place or died trying.

Small private wars erupted to the right and left, near an far, most of them lasting from fifteen minutes to half an hour, with anyone's guess being good as to who the victors were. The heavy hedgerow country muffled the sounds, while the night air magnified them. It was almost impossible to tell how far away the fights were and sometimes even in what direction. The only thing I could sure of was that a lot of men were dying in this nightmarish labyrinth. During this time I had no success in finding anyone, friend or foe. To be crawling up and down hedgerows, alone, deep in enemy country with a whole ocean between yourself and the nearest allies sure makes a man feel about as lonely as a man can get.

Paratroops moving through a french village on D-Day

by John on Jun 06, 2006
» BLACKFIVE links with: D-Day Remembered

D-38, Slapton Sands.

D-Day was made possible by this training exercise among many other preparations and the invasion went on in spite of...

Operation Tiger, Slapton Sands.

Sometimes, war is just hell. In today's media environment, however, we'd have seen calls for canceling the invasion and just coming home to mind our own business.

Sherman Tank recovered from the sea off of Slapton Sands (lost during a previous exercise) and made into a monument by Mr. Ken Small

There will be lots of D-Day stories scattered around the web today. I thought I'd bring this one to your attention. Given the environment today, this seem apt.

'Slapton Sands: The Cover-up That Never Was' By Charles B. MacDonald (Extracted from Army 38, No. 6 (June 1988): 64-67

"It was a disaster which lay hidden from the World for 40 years . . . an official American Army cover-up."

That a massive cover-up took place is beyond doubt. And that General Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized it is equally clear."

Generals Omar N. Bradley and Eisenhower watched "the murderous chaos" and "were horrified and determined that details of their own mistakes would be buried with their men."

"Relatives of the dead men have been misinformed -- and even lied to -- by their government. "

It was "a story the government kept quiet ... hushed up for decades ... a dirty little secret of World War II."

What was that terrible event so heinous as to prompt those accusations of perfidy 43 years later from the British news media from some American newspapers and in a particularly antagonistic three-part report from the local news of the ABC affiliate in Washington D. C. WJLA-TV?

-----

It was two hours after midnight on 28 April, 1944. Since the moon had just gone down, visibility was fair. The sea was calm.

A few hours earlier, in daylight, assault forces of the U S 4th Infantry Division had gone ashore on Slapton Sands, a stretch of beach along the south coast of England that closely resembled a beach on the French coast of Normandy, code-named Utah, where a few weeks later U.S. troops were to storm ashore as part of history's largest and most portentous amphibious assault: D-Day

The assault at Slapton Sands was known as Exercise Tiger, one of several rehearsals conducted in preparation for the momentous invasion to come. So vital was the exercise of accustoming the troops to the combat conditions they were soon to face that commanders had ordered use of live naval and artillery fire, which could be employed because British civilians had long ago been relocated from the region around Slapton Sands. Individual soldiers also had live ammunition for their rifles and machine guns.

In those early hours of 28 April off the south coast in Lyme Bay, a flotilla of eight LSTs (landing ship, tank) was plowing toward Slapton Sands, transporting a follow-up force of engineers and chemical and quartermaster troops not scheduled for assault but to be unloaded in orderly fashion along with trucks, amphibious trucks, jeeps and heavy engineering equipment.

Out of the darkness, nine swift German torpedo boats suddenly appeared. On routine patrol out of the French port of Cherbourg, the commanders had learned of heavy radio traffic in Lyme Bay. Ordered to investigate, they were amazed to see what they took to be a flotilla of eight destroyers. They hastened to attack.

German torpedoes hit three of the LSTs. One lost its stern but eventually limped into port. Another burst into flames, the fire fed by gasoline in the vehicles aboard. A third keeled over and sank within six minutes.

There was little time for launching lifeboats. Trapped below decks, hundreds of soldiers and sailors went down with the ships. Others leapt into the sea, but many soon drowned, weighted down by water-logged overcoats and in some cases pitched forward into the water because they were wearing life belts around their waists rather than under their armpits. Others succumbed to hypothermia in the cold water.

When the waters of the English Channel at last ceased to wash bloated bodies ashore, the toll of the dead and missing stood at 198 sailors and 551 soldiers, a total of 749, the most costly training incident involving U.S. forces during World War II.

Allied commanders were not only concerned about the loss of life and two LSTs -- which left not a single LST as a reserve for D-Day -- but also about the possibility that the Germans had taken prisoners who might be forced to reveal secrets about the upcoming invasion. Ten officers aboard the LSTs had been closely involved in the invasion planning and knew the assigned beaches in France; there was no rest until those 10 could be accounted for: all of them drowned.

A subsequent official investigation revealed two factors that may have contributed to the tragedy -- a lack of escort vessels and an error in radio frequencies.

Although there were a number of British picket ships stationed off the south coast, including some facing Cherbourg, only two vessels were assigned to accompany the convoy -- a corvette and a World War I-era destroyer. Damaged in a collision, the destroyer put into port, and a replacement vessel came to the scene too late.

Because of a typographical error in orders, the U.S. LSTs were on a radio frequency different from the corvette and the British naval headquarters ashore. When one of the picket ships spotted German torpedo boats soon after midnight, a report quickly reached the British corvette but not the LSTs. Assuming the U.S. vessels had received the same report, the commander of the corvette made no effort to raise them.

Whether an absence of either or both of those factors would have had any effect on the tragic events that followed would be impossible to say -- but probably not. The tragedy off Slapton Sands was simply one of those cruel happenstances of war.

Meanwhile, orders went out imposing the strictest secrecy on all who knew or might learn of the tragedy, including doctors and nurses who treated the survivors. There was no point in letting the enemy know what he had accomplished, least of all in affording any clue that might link Slapton Sands to Utah Beach.

Nobody ever lifted that order of secrecy, for by the time D-Day had passed, the units subject to the order had scattered. Quite obviously, in any case, the order no longer had any legitimacy particularly after Gen. Eisenhower's Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force, in July 1944 issued a press release telling of the tragedy. Notice of it was printed, among other places, in the soldier newspaper, Stars & Stripes.

With the end of the war, the tragedy off Slapton Sands -- like many another wartime events involving high loss of life, such as the sinking of a Belgian ship off Cherbourg on Christmas Eve, 1944, in which more than 800 American soldiers died--received little attention. There were nevertheless references to the tragedy in at least three books published soon after the war, including a fairly detailed account by Capt. Harry C. Butcher (Gen. Eisenhower's former naval aide) in My Three Years With Eisenhower (1946).

The story was also covered in two of the U.S. Army's unclassified official histories: Cross-Channel Attack (1951) by Gordon A. Harrison and Logistical Support of the Armies Volume I (1953) by Roland G. Ruppenthal. It was also related in one of the official U.S. Navy histories, The Invasion of France and Germany (1957) by Samuel Eliot Morrison.

In 1954, 10 years after D-Day, U.S. Army authorities unveiled a monument at Slapton Sands honoring the people of the farms, villages and towns of the region "who generously left their homes and their lands to provide a battle practice area for the successful assault in Normandy in June 1944." During the course of the ceremony, the U.S. commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Gen. Alfred M. Guenther, told of the tragedy that befell Exercise Tiger.

All the while, a detailed and unclassified account of the tragedy rested in the National Archives. It had been prepared soon after the end of the war by the European Theater Historical Section.

For anybody who took even a short time to investigate, there clearly had been no cover-up other than the brief veil of secrecy raised to avoid compromise of D-Day. Yet, in at least one case -- WJLA-TV in Washington -- the news staff pursued its accusations of cover-up even after being informed by the Army's Public Affairs Office well before the first program aired about the various publications including the official histories that had told of the tragedy.
Yet why, a long 43 years after the event, the sudden spate of news stories and accusations?

That had its beginnings in 1968 when a former British policeman, Kenneth Small, moved to a village just off Slapton Sands and bought and operated a small guest house. Recovering from a nervous breakdown, Mr. Small took long walks along the beach and began to find relics of war: unexpended cartridges, buttons and fragments from uniforms. Talking with people who had long lived in the region, he learned of the heavy loss of life in Exercise Tiger.

Why, Mr. Small asked himself, was there no memorial to those who had died? There was that monument the U.S. Army had erected to the British civilians, but there was no mention of the dead Americans. To Mr. Small, that looked like an official cover-up.

From local fishermen; he learned of a U.S. Sherman tank that lay beneath the waters a mile offshore, a tank lost not in Exercise Tiger but in another rehearsal a year earlier. At considerable personal expense, Mr. Small managed to salvage the tank and place it on the plinth just behind the beach as a memorial to those Americans who had died. The memorial was dedicated in a ceremony on the 40th anniversary of D-Day.

That ceremony prompted the first spurt of accusations by the British and American press of a cover-up, but they were soon silenced by publication of two detailed articles about the tragedy: one in American Heritage magazine co-authored by a former medical officer, Dr. Ralph C. Greene, who had been stationed at one of the hospitals that treated the injured; the other in a respected British periodical, After the Battle. Those were carefully researched, authoritative and comprehensive articles; if anybody had consulted them three years later, they would put to rest any charges of a cover-up and various other unfounded allegations.

Kenneth Small, meanwhile, wanted more. Although persuaded at last that there had been no cover-up, he nevertheless wanted an official commemoration by the U.S. government to those who had died. Receiving an invitation from an ex-Army major who had commanded the tank battalion whose lost tank Mr. Small had salvaged, he went to the United States where the ex-major introduced him to his congresswoman, Beverly Byron (D-Md.), who as it turned out is the daughter of Gen. Eisenhower's former naval aide, Capt. Butcher.
With assistance from the Pentagon, Rep. Byron arranged for a private organization, the Pikes Peak Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army in Colorado, where the 4th Infantry Division is stationed, to provide a plaque honoring the American dead. She also attached a rider to a congressional bill calling for official U.S. participation in a ceremony unveiling the plaque alongside Ken Small's tank at Slapton Sands.

Information about that pending ceremony scheduled for 15 November, 1987, set the news media off. There were accusations not only of a cover-up, but also of heavy casualties inflicted by U.S. soldiers, who presumably did not know they had live ammunition in their weapons, firing on other soldiers. Nobody questioned why soldiers would bother to open fire if they thought they had only blank ammunition ... or why a soldier would not know the difference between live ammunition and blanks when one has bullets, the other not. Nor was there actually any evidence of anybody being killed by small arms fire.
There surfaced a new an allegation made earlier by a local resident, Dorothy Seekings, who maintained that as a young woman she had witnessed the burial of "hundreds" of Americans in a mass grave (she subsequently changed the story to individual graves). Dorothy Seekings also claimed that the bodies are still there.

At long last, somebody in the news media -- a correspondent for BBC television--thought to query the farmer on whose land the dead are presumably buried. He had owned and lived on that land all his life, said the farmer, and nobody was ever buried there.

That tallies with U.S. Army records that show that in the first few days of May 1944, soon after the tragedy, hundreds of the dead were interred temporarily in a World War I U.S. military cemetery at nearby Blackwood. Following the war, those bodies were either moved to a new World War II U.S. military cemetery at Cambridge or, at the request of next of kin, shipped to the United States.
Yet many like Ken Small continued to wonder why it took the U.S. government 43 years to honor those who died off Slapton Sands. Those who wondered failed to understand U.S. policy for wartime memorials.

Soon after World War I, Congress created an independent agency, the American Battle Monuments Commission, to construct overseas U.S. military cemeteries, to erect within them appropriate memorials and to maintain them. Anybody who has seen any of those cemeteries, either those of World War I or of World War II, recognizes that no nation honors its war dead more appropriately than does the United States.

Only the American Battle Monuments Commission--not the U.S. Army, Air Force or Navy -- has authority to erect official memorials to American dead, and the American Battle Monuments Commission limits its memorials to the cemeteries, which avoids a proliferation of monuments around the world. Private organizations, such as division veterans' associations, are nevertheless free to erect unofficial memorials but are responsible for all costs, including maintenance.

Soon after the end of the war, veterans of the 1st Engineer Special Brigade, which incurred the heaviest losses in Exercise Tiger, did just that, erecting a monument on Omaha Beach to their dead, presumably to include those who died at Utah Beach and those who died in preparation for D-Day.
At Cambridge, there stands an impressive official memorial erected by the American Battle Monuments Commission to all those Americans who died during World War II while stationed in the British Isles. That includes the 749 who died in the tragedy off Slapton Sands, and there one finds the engraved names of the missing.

Long before 15 November, 1987, the U.S. government had already honored those soldiers and sailors who died in Exercise Tiger.

Eaglespeak honored these men in his Memorial Day post.

by John on Jun 06, 2006
» BLACKFIVE links with: D-Day Remembered

June 04, 2006

Midway.

Sinking Sun Griffith Baily Coale #28 Oil on canvas, 1942 88-188-AB A Marine stands at parade rest on the bow of a PT boat as she moves slowly out to sea from Midway to give decent burial to Japanese fliers shot down on the islands during the battle. The red ball of the rising sun is prophetically repeated by the round disc and spreading rays of the sinking sun.<br />

Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Midway. I haven't found any of the Usual Suspects with posts, so I'll have to handle it myself.

Ensign George Gay, someone you should know.

Lex - this link's for you.

Salamander - this link's for you and your surface warrior focus.

Chap - this link's for you and your submariner focus.

74 - it's the sailors who do the work, and the bulk of the dying. This link's for you.

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Some sailors finally woke up, I see. Late sleepers on a Sunday. As is proper, they did a more thorough job.

by John on Jun 04, 2006
» EagleSpeak links with: Miracle at Midway
» CDR Salamander links with: Battle of Midway
» The Indepundit links with: Battle of Midway

May 29, 2006

May 29, 1944.

Continuing the theme... today we Remember.

May 29, 2006. Imagine you are going to Fort Rucker, Alabama, home of Army Aviation. You enter the installation from Dalesville on Fannie Morris Drive heading north. Right after you enter the fort, turn left on Headquarters Road, then make the first right onto Andrews Ave, heading north again. As you pass the barracks and ball fields, keep an eye to your right, passing the numbered roads counting down until you hit 9th, where the Physical Fitness Center is. Turn left again, going west. 9th quickly turns into Red Cloud Road and heads into post housing. When you cross Farrell Road (easy to tell, there's woods off there catty-corner to your right and the duplexes are now facing the road) slow down a bit - you're taking the next right, onto Galt Lane. 28 families live on Galt Lane, Fort Rucker, Alabama. I wonder how many of them know how it got it's name?

To answer that question, let's go back to Italy, 1944, and see what the soldiers of the 34th Infantry Division were doing that day. In particular, this soldier.

Meet Captain William Galt, via his cousin, Castle reader Chris Lock:


Lieutenant William Wylie Galt

There is much more, but I will keep it relatively brief. He was born 19 December 1919 in Geyser, Montana. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, Infantry, through the Army ROTC program upon graduation from Montana State in the Spring of '42.

He was assigned to A/1/168 Infantry, 34th "Red Bull" Infantry Division. He fought in North Africa and Italy and was awarded the Silver Star for action he took during the 3rd Volturno Crossing:

1. Under the provisions of Army Regulations 600-45, as amended, a Silver Star is awarded to each of the following named individuals: ************************************************************** William W. Galt, 0446805, First Lieutenant, Company "A" 168th Infantry Regiment. For gallantry in action on 4 November 1943, in the vicinity of Roccaravindola, Italy. During the night attack Company "A" was the assault company of the First Battalion. Within a short time after the battalion had crossed the Volturno River, the head of the column was delayed by the heavy concentration of mines in their sector. Upon his own initiative and with utter disregard for his own personal safety, Lt. Galt advanced on his hands and knees through the mined area and selected a comparatively safe route to the objective. Lt. Galt’s courageous action enabled the battalion to advance through this mined sector with a minimum number of casualties. The devotion to leadership of Lt. Galt, in the face of grave danger was a credit to the Armed Forces of the United States. Residence at time of induction: Great Falls, Montana

By command of Major General Crane:

//SIGNED//
Norman E. Hendrickson,
Colonel, GSC,
Chief of Staff

Official:

Les M. White,
Lt. Col., AGD.,
Adjutant General

He was promoted to Captain and commanded Able Company [168th Infantry] in the Anzio Beachhead. He was posted to the 1/168th Infantry S-3 position after the Anzio Beachhead (he was in a bad way physically due to his previous wounds which had not healed completely). He was in the midst of some brutal combat throughout his career, culminating in his being at Villa Crocetta on 29 May, 1944. At Villa Crocetta his actions led to the relief of 2 companies of 2/168 that were pinned down, outflanked and were being shot to pieces.

He was awarded the Purple Heart 3 times prior to being KIA, being wounded at the 1st and 3rd Volturno River Crossings(See the Silver Star Commendation), and a 3rd time at Cervaro, Italy.

Because the 3rd time he was wounded required 3 weeks in the hospital (I understand it should have been much longer but he somehow got himself discharged and returned to duty), he was not present for most of the Battle of Monte Cassino. He was in combat in the battles at Sened Station, Kasserine Pass, Fondouk, Hill 609 and Eddekhila in North Africa and at the 1st and 3rd Volturno River Crossings, Push to the Rapido River, Cervaro, Anzio Beachhead and the Anzio Breakout, which led to Villa Crocetta in Italy.

Bill Galt was a very popular, well loved man. He was tough as nails, physically as well as mentally. He was a great soldier and a great leader. His men revered him and he is bigger than life to me. It is only fitting that this year's anniversary of his being killed falls on Memorial Day. He was 24 years old.

Things had been moving slowly in Italy. The soft underbelly of the Axis wasn't so soft with all those damn Germans there... The Allies had just tried an end run around the Germans (something MacArthur would do much more successfully 6 years later at Inchon) at Anzio. The 34th, already in Italy, was given the mission of trying to force the Rapido River north of the Abbey of Monte Cassino, the 36th Infantry having just been pummeled to flinders trying to force the river south of the monastery. The intent was turning the Gustav Line and avoiding a fight for the mountain altogether. That was not to be. Just an illustrative passage from the Division History:

Throughout this entire period, it must be borne in mind, every box of rations, every can of water, every round of ammunition which the infantry used had to be brought up across terrain which was under direct observation from hills still in enemy hands. The Germans, fully aware of this, laid down accurate and continuous fire upon all critical points and especially on the river crossings. Traffic control by the Division Military Police reduced congestion, but within a few days the stench of decaying mule carcasses, the litter of overturned vehicles, abandoned shell-cases and disabled tanks made a scene of modern war which will not be forgotten by any who saw it. On the mountains the battle remained stubborn and progress was slow. Casualties to both sides were very heavy, especially because the fanatical German paratroopers launched frenzied counter-attacks in an attempt to drive us back to the valley. Our ranks became thinner and the problems of evacuating casualties down the treacherous mountain trails and across the shell-swept approaches to the position were very serious. Volunteers came from the service and rear units of the Division to help out.

By the end of 12 February a platoon had succeeded in reaching the outer walls of the Abbey, and capturing prisoners from a cave on Monastery Hill. It was impossible for the platoon to remain, however, and they withdrew. The Germans throughout the operation took full advantage of the fact that the Allies had undertaken not to fire at the Abbey in view of its importance to the world as a religious institution. The relative immunity which the enemy obtained for his observation can hardly be overestimated.

On 14 February elements of the British 4th Indian Division took over positions held by the 135th and 168th Infantry Regiments on Hill 593 and on the other hills overlooking Cassino. Some of our men had stuck it out so long and had suffered so much that they had to be lifted bodily out of their holes. The sadly depleted Regiments went to S. Angelo d'Alife for rest.

[an aside applicable to today's alarums and excursions - how many casualties did we suffer because we *didn't* bomb or attack the Monastery? Answer - impossible to calculate, but a lot. When we *did* finally bomb and attack it... the Usual Suspects got peeved about it, and periodically bring it up still. Even back in the day, no one bitched nearly as loudly about the Germans using the monastery (which makes it a legitimate target and puts the onus for opprobrium on the shoulders of the Germans, according to the much-cherished, selectively read, Conventions.]

After a few weeks of rest and receiving replacements (and nowhere near enough time to properly integrate the new soldiers into the units), the 34th was embarked for the tiny Anzio beachhead, where they relieved the 3rd Infantry Division in the line. The division learned what it was like to live in a bowl, where the enemy had the high ground and was looking down on you. Something the French Foreign Legion and Paras would discover at Dien Bien Phu - except they didn't have the sea for an exit route. No matter, 5th Army did not intend to use that exit - rather, they intended to create their own.

Joining with the legendary 1st Armored Division and the soldiers of the US/Canadian Special Service Force, the 34th Division smashed through the German 362nd Infantry Division and started pushing their way towards Rome.

We're interested in this bit from the Division History:

The 168th Infantry moved to the west, the 133rd Infantry, returning from its foray, moved up to the left of the 168th, and both Regiments formed up for a concerted push to the northwest. On 25 May the 135th Infantry, relieved of attachment to the Armored Division after a magnificent performance, moved into 34th Division reserve. At dawn on 26 May our troops made rapid progress which continued until late on 27 May when stiff enemy resistance was met along a line approximately 1000 yards short of the railroad between Lanuvio and Velletri. It had long been known that the Germans had prepared a strong defense line in this area. Bunkers and mortar positions had been dug into the north face of the railway embankment while machine gun and rifle emplacements were hastily completed by the retreating German troops as they occupied their defenses. Further, the village of Villa Crocetta had been turned into a fortress containing over a battalion of infantry, reinforced with tanks and self-propelled guns.

That's what the Division History says.

What it doesn't mention is this:

A painting by Jean-Pierre Roy depicting William Galt
(Painting courtesy the Congressional Medal of Honor Society)

Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Army, 168th Infantry, 34th Infantry Division. Place and date: At Villa Crocetta, Italy, 29 May 1944. Entered service at: Stanford, Mont. Birth: Geyser, Mont.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. Capt. Galt, Battalion S3, at a particularly critical period following 2 unsuccessful attacks by his battalion, of his own volition went forward and ascertained just how critical the situation was. He volunteered, at the risk of his life, personally to lead the battalion against the objective. When the lone remaining tank destroyer refused to go forward, Capt. Galt jumped on the tank destroyer and ordered it to precede the attack. As the tank destroyer moved forward, followed by a company of riflemen, Capt. Galt manned the .30-caliber machinegun in the turret of the tank destroyer, located and directed fire on an enemy 77mm. anti-tank gun, and destroyed it. Nearing the enemy positions, Capt. Galt stood fully exposed in the turret, ceaselessly firing his machinegun and tossing hand grenades into the enemy zigzag series of trenches despite the hail of sniper and machinegun bullets ricocheting off the tank destroyer. As the tank destroyer moved, Capt. Galt so maneuvered it that 40 of the enemy were trapped in one trench. When they refused to surrender, Capt. Galt pressed the trigger of the machinegun and dispatched every one of them. A few minutes later an 88mm shell struck the tank destroyer and Capt. Galt fell mortally wounded across his machinegun. He had personally killed 40 Germans and wounded many more. Capt. Galt pitted his judgment and superb courage against overwhelming odds, exemplifying the highest measure of devotion to his country and the finest traditions of the U.S. Army.

Why does it perhaps not mention it? Perhaps because despite the effort -

The Germans in the face of our fierce attack succeeded in maintaining their positions. We committed the 135th Infantry from reserve to the left flank of the Division. Even the 109th Engineer Battalion was sent into the line as infantry. Nothing was held back. Rome was the goal - all or nothing. Finally on 2 June, with the town of Velletri captured and his line in danger of encirclement, the enemy suddenly gave way. His units, patched-up remnants of the troops who had borne the shock of the breakout from the beachhead, had fought surprisingly well. The German High Command had used every effort to bolster them with replacements from the butchers, bakers, tinkers, and tailors of rear area units.

And finally, because of the efforts of men like Captain William Galt and others, on 6 June, 1944, Rome fell. An event rather overshadowed by other events on the continent of Europe that day.

Captain William Galt - someone you should know - and today, Remember.

And if you live on Galt Lane, Fort Rucker, Alabama - now you know why your street has the name it does.

Crossposted at Milblogs and Smash's.

by John on May 29, 2006
» BLACKFIVE links with: Memorial Day - Round Ups
» Welcome To Andi's World links with: SGT Perry D. Martin, Jr. 12/17/1979 - 8/1/2005
» The Indepundit links with: Remember
» The Indepundit links with: Remember

April 19, 2006

Concord Hymn

Tipping points.

Stand your ground! Don't fire unless fired upon! But if they want to have a war, let it begin here!

Captain John Parker's orders to his troops. Like many good quotes, probably apocryphal - but part of the mythos, regardless, and captures the spirit of the restive residents of Massachusetts.


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BY the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.

On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.

Spirit, that made those heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, song composed for and sung on
the raising of the Minuteman Statue at Concord Bridge, April 19, 1836.


by Sgt. Benjamin T. Donde</p>

<p>October 4, 2005</p>

<p>As the sun rises, Sgt. Phillip Chang, from the Alaska Army National Guard, patrols the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan. This photo appeared on www.army.mil.

As the sun rises, Sgt. Phillip Chang, from the Alaska Army National Guard, patrols the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan... some 200-odd years later, who'd have thought a Guardsman named Chang, from Alaska, would be conducting patrols in Afghanistan.

And yes, there are many Founding Fathers who would not approve, on several levels. As there are those that would.

Seeing CAPT H in the commentary, it moves me to add... '...and, while in Afghanistan, working under the command of a (hock, ptui!) Tory General!

by John on Apr 19, 2006

April 13, 2006

Caption Contest

Spring break, 1970.

Hot sun, sand, palm trees, underage drinking -- and you thought *today's* teenagers were unruly!

No comment from me, no sirree. Not one. They know where I live...

Second Platoon of the 162d (the -- ahem -- *Junior* Varsity) observing some off-camera shenannigans, most likely involving Baby-San and the ingredients for homemade napalm.

Photo courtesy of V29, who says the photo's not blurry, the guys actually looked that way to him after a couple of warm PBRs. Indigenous hat courtesy of someone dumb enough to be carrying an AK in a Free Fire Zone.

Have at it, gang!

by CW4BillT on Apr 13, 2006

February 23, 2006

Today in history...

1942. Japanese sub I-17 shells oil depot at Goleta, California, to no effect. For another view of the incident, see here. Later, the US Navy found the 1-17 - with effect.

1778 Baron von Steuben joins Continental Army at Valley Forge. Thus beginning the nascent US Army's first transformation period. (Inside joke, those who know, know)

1852 HMS Birkenhead sinks off South Africa, 420 die standing at attention. Before you shake your head in wonder at what appears to be stupid discipline, know this - the Brit soldiers who stood at attention while the Birkenhead sank are the source of the saying... "Women and Children First!" Could *you* meet that standard?

1903 US leases Guantanamo Bay for $4,000 a year (Castro returns the checks).

1919 Osmond Ingram (DD-255) launched, first ship named for an enlisted man

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1945 Iwo Jima: The 28th Marines raise the flag on Mount Suribachi.

1971 William Calley confesses to My Lai massacre, implicates Ernest Medina.
Rather than link to something about Calley or Medina - I'll link to something about CW2 Hugh Thompson, who stood up to Calley and his rampaging troops.

1979 Frank Peterson Jr. becomes first black general in Marine Corps. And he was a Kansan, to boot! Col. Frank E. Petersen Jr. became the first Black Marine promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in the U.S. Marines on this day in 1979. He was the first Black Marine aviator, too. Hailing from Topeka, KS, Petersen earned a bachelor’s degree in 1967 and a master’s degree in 1973 from George Washington University and is a graduate of the National Defense University. He flew over 300 combat missions during his career, including tours in Korea and Vietnam. Petersen spent 38 years in the Corps before retiring in 1988 as commanding general of the Marine Development Educational Command in Quantico. He wrote an autobiography, Into the Tiger’s Jaw: America’s First Black Marine Aviator.


by John on Feb 23, 2006

January 26, 2006

Hmmmm. Interesting.

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First up: Happy Australia Day! A shout out to my Digger buddies!

Little shiny bits that caught my eye this morning...

Tidbits of history.

Born:
1819 Abner Doubleday, Maj Gen, U.S, , d. this day, 1893
1880 General of the Army Douglas MacArthur

Died:
1885 Charles George Gordon slain at 51 by the Mahdists, Khartoum, setting the stage for Charlton Heston's greatest role...
1893 Abner Doubleday, did not invent baseball (see above), on his 74th birthday
1993 Jan Gies, Dutch resistance fighter, who aided the Frank family - with the push of his wife.


Event

1787 Daniel Shays & followers attack arsenal at Springfield, Mass.
1788 Capt Arthur Phillip founds a penal colony at Sydney, Australia colony, setting the stage for Vegemite!
1799 French set-up puppet "Pathenopean Republic" in Naples, loot and
rape at will. Gotta love that Revolutionary Fervor!
1863 Black 54th Massachusetts Infantry is formed
1885 Mahdist rebels capture Khartoum, slay "Chinese" Gordon - setting the stage for the most embarassing role for Sir Alec Guiness.
1890 NY reporter Nellie Bly completes a 'round the world trip in 72 days. Now you can do it in less than 72 hours, if you don't mind risking Deep Vein Thrombosis.
1934 Nazi Germany and Poland sign ten year non-aggression pact. The lamb lies down with the lion.
1944 Argentina severs diplomatic relations with Germany and Japan. Peron reads the handwriting on the wall - better than he did later in his political career.
1944 Liberia declares war on Germany and Japan. Germany and Japan don't notice.
1945 Japanese government orders an end to offensive operations in China. Those damn 'Muricans are being really pesky.
1948 Executive Order 9981: segregation in the Armed Forces must end.
1957 India annexes Kashmir - still digesting it with periodic gassy cramps.

Heh. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery... but target ID on a Modular Force battlefield (those Strykers) just got more interesting.

Us:
Stryker with slat armor

Many potential Thems:

BTR-80 with slat armor


by John on Jan 26, 2006

January 20, 2006

Kicking around the dusty corners.

Random notes in history today that caught my eye...

1265 English Parliament meets for the first time. 741 years on, in a fashion that would be only vaguely recognizable to Simon de Montfort, and British democracy is still evolving. Yet in this era, we expect one election in a place that's not known political freedom as we understand it to produce a western style democracy - none of which themselves sprang fully formed from the forehead of a cultural Zeus. Yet if it doesn't - the self-appointed Guardians of Democracy, the Press, and those who are Out of Power, virtually declare it a failure because it doesn't look like us. Feh.

1914 USN opens a school for aviators at Pensacola, Fla. Which results, in among other things, Lex.

1942 Nazi officials hold notorious Wannsee Conference on the "Final Solution"

1952 British army occupies Ismailiya, Suez Canal Zone. This sets the stage for the Suez Crisis of 1956. The French are still in a 'payback mode' from the US response to that operation.

1955 USS Nautilus launched at Groton, Conn.

1981 52 Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 days freed. One of the players in that drama now plays chicken with the Western World on nukes.

1991 US Patriot missiles begin shooting down Iraqi Scud missiles. How many depends on who you talk to and how effective depends on how you define it. But it's also instructive regardng the tyranny of unrealistic expectations and the people who pander to them.

by John on Jan 20, 2006

January 08, 2006

What a selectively interesting day in history...

Born

1821 James Longstreet, Lt. Gen., C.S.A., Lee's "Old War Horse"
1830 Gouverneur Kemble Warren, Maj Gen, U.S., who saved Little Round Top (with some help from Joshua Chamberlain and the 22d 20th Maine) d. 1882
1935 Elvis Aaron Presley, Sgt, 3rd Armored Division

Died

1324 Marco Polo, explorer
1842 Pierre de Cambronne, who said "Merde!" at Waterloo.
1880 Norton I, Emperor of America
1922 Charles Young, first black U.S. Army colonel, at 58, in Lagos,
Nigeria
1941 Lord Robert Baden Powell, of the Boy Scouts, at 83. Lefties would hate the Scouts even more if they understood that they were founded for similar reasons as the National Rifle Association...

Events

794 First Viking Raid on Britain, Lindisfarne Abbey destroyed
1811 Louisiana: Charles Deslondes' slave rebellion begins
1815 Battle of New Orleans, 15 days after the Treaty of Ghent
1838 Anti-English rebellion at Amherstburg, Ontario
1918 Pres Wilson outlines the "14 Points" for peace after WW I
1926 Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud establishes the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
1992 Pres. George H. W. Bush vomits in the Japanese prime minister's lap

Yep, interesting day. I'll close with a pic of an interesting airplane - the Heinkel 119. Yep, that's the cockpit.

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by John on Jan 08, 2006

January 06, 2006

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Over...

Ever since there have been civilizations, there have been military organizations, and there have been military leaders who have been given affectionate nicknames by their men.

Howlin’ Mad Smith.

31-Knot Burke.

Bomber Harris.

And in this time-honored tradition, I, too, have recently been screwed over had a nicknamed bestowed upon me.

Sugar Buttons.

Oh, I’ve had nicks before, but of all the asinine, kick-in-the-nuts, teeth-grinding endearing cutsie-poo bullshit pet names I’ve had stuck up my been tagged with, I must confess that the latest friggin’ sophomoric effort one has frosted my balls touched me the most, since it was given to me by a pack of back-stabbing weaselettes the Denizennes.

Now, about this Sugar Buttons thang. It’s a type of candy that was popular in the 50s and is currently undergoing a resurgence in that popularity--Retro is still alive and well. Although the manufacturer calls ‘em Candy Buttons and they’re known by that moniker world-wide, except, evidently, in São Paulo, Brazil and Cincinnati, Ohio, out of deference to the Denizenne who tagged me, I’ll keep it Sugar Buttons.

They’re the subject of fond memory...

Candy Buttons memories... Candy buttons on the paper card were always a treat for those of us who liked to play "hospital." If I somehow got some of them, I would round up a couple other children - someone always had one of those little plastic "doctor's bags" that contained a play stethoscope, a headband with a funny mirror, and a pretend syringe. We'd stuff the candy buttons in the bag, and the doctor would make rounds.

Heh. Playing “Doctor” without Candy Buttons/Sugar Buttons on hand? Unthinkable...

Rock hard, sweet and they come in three different flavors.

So, I guess I really *am* Sugar Buttons…

Sooooo, now it’s time to name the unit. Something catchy and alliterative, like Merrill’s Marauders, or Kane’s Killers...

...or the Sugar Buttons Brigade.

Presenting the Second Squad of the First Platoon, Delta Company, Third Battalion.

The rest of the Brigade is bivouaced in the Jungle Room--I’ve got a busy training schedule lined up.

Squad--‘Ha-Tennnn-SHUN! Hot Tub Drill---Move out!

Sugar Buttons, eh?

Bite me! Later, y'awl.

by CW4BillT on Jan 06, 2006
» NIF links with: Bigger-Better-Faster-More

January 05, 2006

Random Historical Observation.

This (or something like it), is what most people think of when they conjure up a mental image of the German Army in WWII.

This is generally more accurate.

That is all.

by John on Jan 05, 2006

December 30, 2005

Unclear on the concept...?

A french artillery piece from WWI.

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Made of paper. Explains a lot... right?

Actually, no.

Also known as a Quaker Gun.

Obviously, used for deception purposes - whether as in pretending to have something more powerful than you have for deterrence purposes (see May Day Parades at Red Square, or early Nazi Party Rallies at Nueremburg), or to deceive the mean people who suck and are trying to kill you as to the location of your *real* toys - so they can die surprised, later, when they miscalculate and you end up killing *them,* the bassids!

I just picked on the Soviets and Nazis, but hey, the North and South did it too - especially the North, early in the war around Washington. Such as these logs in a fort at Centerville, VA in 1862.

The concept has a long pedigree with the US Army - at *least* as early as 1780. As late as 1984, as I was a participant in *this* fight - on the winning side.

They were crucial for D-Day.

[Off on a tangent - while out looking for the Washington story, I stumbled across this, which confused me for a minute...]

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Serb Quaker Gun

My Kosovo involvement includes some *direct experience* with the Quaker Gun concept as a component of Information Operations, just as relevant today as it was for Colonel Washington. To my mind, within the overall limitations on the campaign for both sides, the Serb Quaker Gun Concept was every effective.

And we still do it on our side, too.

In fact - if anyone has any pics of current (or the last 20 years or so, to avoid OPSEC issues) decoys, send 'em along!

by John on Dec 30, 2005

December 27, 2005

Volcanoes... we hateses them we does!

70 years ago was born the kernel of the idea of the Blogfather, Jonah. The first semi-attempt at Airborne Volcano Lancing occurred on this day in 1935 as US Army B-10s bombed a lava flow in Hawaii in an attempt to stop or divert it. They weren't terribly successful...

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And today - an announcement from the Joint Operations National Annihilation Headquarters, the Air Force, and Boeing...

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by John on Dec 27, 2005

December 24, 2005

This day in 1944. 24 December.

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Infantrymen, attached to the 4th Armored Division, fire at German troops, in the American advance to relieve the pressure on surrounded airborne troops in Bastogne.(Photo credits: U.S. National Archives)

This year I'm excerpting from the Official History - The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge, by Hugh Cole. Continuing with that theme:

The assault on the morning of the 24th followed what had become standard tactics with the 4th Armored. First came a short concentration fired by the artillery. There followed an advance into the village by two teams, each composed of one tank and one infantry company working closely together. As at Chaumont and Warnach there was little trouble from the enemy artillery, for by this time the 5th Parachute Division was rationed to only seven rounds per howitzer a day. Mostly the German infantry held their fire until the Americans were in the streets, then cut loose with their bazookas, light mortars, and small arms. While the two assault companies of the 53d advanced from house to house the tanks of the 37th blasted the buildings ahead, machine-gunned the Germans when they broke into the open, and set barns and out-buildings afire with tracer bullets. One team burst through to the northern exit road and the garrison was trapped. By 1100 the village was clear. Most of the 328 prisoners taken here were from the 13th Parachute Regiment, which had just been released from its flank guard positions farther to the east on Heilmann's insistence that the 5th Parachute Division could not possibly block the American drive north with only two of its regiments in hand.

The pitched battles at Bigonville and Warnach on 24 December made a considerable dent in the front line fighting strength of the 5th Parachute Division but failed to bring CCR and CCA appreciably closer to Bastogne. CCB, the most advanced of the combat commands, had only two platoons of medium tanks left after the affair at Chaumont and had spent the day quietly waiting for replacement tanks from the repair echelons and for the rest of the division to draw abreast. Meanwhile the American paratroopers and their heterogeneous comrades inside the Bastogne perimeter fought and waited, confining their radio messages to oblique hints that the 4th Armored should get a move on. Thus, at the close of the 23d McAuliffe sent the message: "Sorry I did not get to shake hands today. I was disappointed." A less formal exhortation from one of his staff reached the 4th Armored command post at midnight: "There is only one more shopping day before Christmas! " [Ok, ok, emphasis mine, I admit it!]

If you're still interested, see the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Dec 24, 2005

December 23, 2005

On this day in 1944. 23 December.

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TWO WAY TRAFFIC AT BASTOGNE by Olin Dows, Belgium, 1944. Center for Military History Collection.


This year I'm excerpting from the Official History - The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge, by Hugh Cole. Continuing with that theme:

When daylight came on 23 December the 26th Division had little to show for its night attack. The 104th Infantry held Grosbous, but the 328th was checked at Grevils-Brésil by a company of stubborn German infantry backed up with a few tanks. In the woods south of Grosbous the men of Company E, 104th Infantry, had taken on more than they had bargained for: a couple of hundred riflemen from the 915th Regiment led in person by the regimental commander. (The American regimental commander had to throw in Company I, but even so this pocket was not wiped out until Christmas Eve.)

Although the right wing of the 26th Division was driving along the boundary between the isolated forward regiment of the 352d Volks Grenadier Division and the incoming Fuehrer Grenadier Brigade, only a small part of the new brigade was in contact with the forward American battalions early on the 23d. The German brigade commander had been seriously wounded by a shell fragment while reconnoitering on the previous evening, the hurried march to action had prevented unified commitment, and the heavy woods south of the Sure made control very difficult. Also there were troubles with fuel.

The rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Dec 23, 2005
» The Middle Ground links with: Patton's Prayer

December 22, 2005

Recently, in 2005...

A little photo essay...

...lest, with my recent emphasis on the Battle of the Bulge, you think I'm being neglectful of something else, just as important...

Click here for some background music.

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Alpha Company, 1-151 FA , 720th Military Police soldier reacts to small arms fire during a search mission in Al Madain, Baghdad, Iraq, 20 September, 2005. U.S. Army Photo by SPC Gul A. Alisan (Released)


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051001-F-2828D-199
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Chuck Hipple, Charlie Troop 4-14th Cavalry 2nd Platoon, Fort Wainwright, Alaska, cleans his weapon on the Stryker vehicle prior to providing an over watch while Army and Marines look for weapons cache and people that oppose the coalition forces east of the Syrian boarder by the Euphrates River, during Operation Clydesdale, during Operation Iraqi Freedom Oct 01, 2005. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Andy Dunaway) (Released)

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U.S. Army Specialist Anthony Noger, 82nd Airborne Division, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, Bravo Company, 1st Battallion, Fort Bragg N.C., watches a door whle on patrol in Tal Afar, Iraq on Sept. 15, 2005 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. James L. Harper Jr. (Released)

Just as in 1944 we were trying to reach this - and make it stick...

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So too in 2005 we are reaching for this... and making it stick.

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by John on Dec 22, 2005

On this day in 1944. 22 DECEMBER.

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This year I'm excerpting from the Official History - The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge, by Hugh Cole. Continuing with that theme:


...in the Bastion of the Battered Bastards of the 101st.

To the U.S.A. Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne.

The fortune of war is changing. This time the U.S.A. forces in and near Bastogne have been encircled by strong German armored units. More German armored units have crossed the river Our near Ortheuville, have taken Marche and reached St. Hubert by passing through Hompre-Sibret-Tillet. Libramont is in German hands.

There is only one possibility to save the encircled U.S.A. troops from total annihilation: that is the honorable surrender of the encircled town. In order to think it over a term of two hours will be granted beginning with the presentation of this note.

If this proposal should be rejected one German Artillery Corps and six heavy A. A. Battalions are ready to annihilate the U.S.A. troops in and near Bastogne. The order for firing will be given immediately after this two hours' term.

All the serious civilian losses caused by this artillery fire would not correspond with the well known American humanity.

The German Commander.


To the German Commander:

Nuts!

The American Commander.

I would note: The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are all about "Nuts". It's the cloistered elites in their echo chambers and Summer Patriots (Winter Soldiers my butt - Winter Soldiers (like those in Valley Forge), don't run from a fight because they got 3 ti-ti 'Hearts).

The American Commander was Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, Division Artillery Commander of the 101st Airborne Division.

Redlegs (like yours truly) aren't usually noted for their brevity.

McAuliffe's troops weren't the only ones inspired by his response. There was extra effort on the home front, too.

The story is continued in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Dec 22, 2005
» The Middle Ground links with: Castle Argghhh! Nuts!
» The Middle Ground links with: Patton's Prayer and Training Letter 5

December 21, 2005

Fighting Insurgents.

Hmmmm.

Al-Reuters, 21 Dec 05 On December 21, 2005, Al-Qaeda fighters, Ba-athist militiamen, and Sunni Insurgents staged an ambush some three miles from FOB Kearny, in the Sunni Triangle. Ordered to rescue a besieged logistics convoy, Captain William J. Fetterman and 80 soldiers were decoyed over MSR Cheyenne by a small number of Insurgents led by the young jihadi warrior, Abd al-Aziz, into a trap where over 1000 insurgents waited in hiding. Fetterman's pursuit over the MSR, in violation of the ROE, led to the death of his entire command.

The shooting started about noon, and was over by 12:30. Many of the bodies were found by Capt. Ten Eyck that afternoon. They were stipped and mutilated much in the same manner as were the contractors at the Fallujah Bridge earlier.

If that news item were real, can you imagine the calls for disengagement - how we were losing the war and should just pull out?

The clever among have already figured this out. The event described above happened. On this day in 1866, when the US Army of the Plains was fighting a wily enemy on his own turf.

The Fetterman Massacre.

The situations are different, the motivations are different, certainly on our side (though I'm sure Kossacks will snort at that). I'm sure there are those on the insurgent side in Iraq who would comfortably identify with the Cheyenne, Arapaho and Sioux warriors on that cold December morning in 1866.

But if they do - they should perhaps take a good look at where that fight led...

And we know where that victory led... the Wagon Box Fight in 1867, and ultimately, through Little Big Horn to Wounded Knee.

You can't really push this analogy too far. The stakes and motivations are vastly different - but a salient point remains the same: Far better for the insurgents to win their power through the ballot box, by joining the consensus, and helping shape the future - than fight it and lose.

by John on Dec 21, 2005
» Bloggin' Outloud links with: Blog Awards For The Rest of Us

On this day in 1944. 21 December.

neffe.jpg

Outskirts of Neffe, Belgium, 1944, by Olin Down. Center for Military History Collection.

...it may have officially been the shortest day of the year - but for participants it probably seemed like it would never end. For many, however, it ended all too soon. This year I'm excerpting from the Official History - The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge, by Hugh Cole. Continuing with that theme:

The hardest blows dealt the 2d Battalion defenders at Dom Butgenbach came on 21 December. After repeated pleas from the 12th SS Panzer the guns and Werfers which had been used at Krinkelt-Rocherath were committed, and the entire 25th Panzer Grenadier Regiment was also made available, as well as one battalion or more of the 12th SS Panzer Regiment. About three hours before dawn guns, mortars, tanks, and Werfers began pounding the American foxhole line, which was outlined by a double row of trees, and the few houses in Dom Butgenbach. This fire continued unremittingly until the first light in the east, inflicting many casualties, destroying weapons by direct hits, and tearing large gaps in the main line of resistance. American counterbattery fire was intense but failed to still the enemy shelling. Now, as the Germans crossed the fields in assault formation, the American forward observers called for a defensive barrage to box their own front lines. At least ten field artillery battalions ultimately joined the fight (for this batteries of the 2d and 99th Divisions were tied into the 1st Division fire control system) and succeeded in discouraging the German infantry.

The rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Dec 21, 2005

December 20, 2005

Stuff caught by the H&I fireplan today...

...some being targets from yesterday. Which happens. Sometimes target intel is slow...

First up - *still* providing earthquake relief in Pakistan.

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U.S. service members prepare to externally load humanitarian relief supplies onto a CH-47D Chinook helicopter at Muzaffarabad, Pakistan on December 17, 2005. The United States military is participating in humanitarian assistance operations, Operation Lifeline, in support of Pakistani-led relief efforts to bring aid to victims of the devastating earthquake that struck the region October 8, 2005. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Barry Loo)

Just sayin'.

Boudicca thought you Airpower Types might be interested in this view of the latest version of the F-16, the F-16I, which might be in the news, should Israel decide to act, for better or worse, on their concerns about the Iranian attempts to build the Islamic Bomb.

Bob at Confederate Yankee and Jay over at Stop The ACLU have a look at different sides of essentially the same story. Me, I don't know that the FISA thing will have traction or not. But I never thought Clinton would get impeached, either. I don't know enough to have an informed opinion, so, uncharacteristically, I'll keep mine to myself.

For news from those of us in the mushy middle (as perceived from the bi-polarites) the latest edition of RINO Sightings is available here, courtesy of Kesher Talk.

Damian Brooks points us to this post by Andrew at Bound By Gravity - about "American Patriots, Canadian Warriors." While I was aware of Americans enlisting in Commonwealth Forces during the early part of WWII (The Eagle Squadrons of the RAF, as an example - the sheer number in Canadian service had escaped me. Interesting aside here... Alan of GenX@40 has mildly snarked that in the two big wars of the last century, Americans came late to the fights, even after the threat was obvious. So, here we are, trying to come early, and Alan snarks. There's no satisfying some people. Just noting...

CAPT H. sends us this - the efforts of a Canadian to mine Google Earth for... Canadian Fortifications. I will admit to doing this on the US side. Sadly, some of our more interesting structures are not yet in the hi-res areas.

Other things historical that caught a target tic today...

1915 Russian troops capture Qom, Persia (Note - this is the *best* route into Iran, with another being through Turkey. If we ever invade, and try to do it via the Gulf, or Iraq... it will be a long, dangerous journey to get to Tehran. If it comes down to that - I hope there are more players in the game.

1917 Soviet secret police - the Cheka, NKVD, KGB, etc. - formed
1924 Adolf Hitler freed from jail early - D-oh!
1933 Bolivia & Paraguay sign ceasefire in Chaco War. Great Mauser Rifles from that era *are* available...
1944 Battle of Bastogne: 101st Airborne division surrounded - read about that... here!
1989 Operation Just Cause begins: US troops invade Panama. A Banana War I missed.

See the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry for targets from yesterday that went unserviced and were revalidated for today's target list. (Ooooo, Army-talk!)

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Dec 20, 2005

On this day in 1944...

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INFANTRY AGAINST TANKS Ben Nason Center for Military History Collection

This year I'm excerpting from the Official History - The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge, by Hugh Cole. Continuing with that theme:

A second try came just before dawn, this time straight down the road from Büllingen. Ten German tanks in single file were sighted as they came over a slight ridge to the front of Company F. Two tank destroyers and three antitank guns drove the tanks off or at least caused them to turn west in search of a weaker spot in the 2d Battalion defenses. In the next thrust a platoon of Company G was badly cut up before friendly artillery finally checked the attack. Fifteen minutes later, apparently still seeking a hole, the Germans hit Company E, next in line to the west. The 60-mm. mortars illuminated the ground in front of the company at just the right moment and two of three tanks heading the assault were knocked out by bazooka and 57-mm. fire from the flank. The third tank commander stuck his head out of the escape hatch to take a look around and was promptly pistoled by an American corporal.10 By this time shellfire had scattered the German infantry. Nor did the enemy make another try until dusk, and then only with combat patrols.

Relatively quiet in this sector - unless this was the day you died.

The rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Dec 20, 2005

December 19, 2005

On this day in 1944...

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BREAKFAST IN THE SNOW. Battle of the Bulge by Robert N. Blair Center for Military History Collection

I thought this year I'd excerpt from the Official History - The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge, by Hugh Cole. Continuing with that theme:

On 19 December German General Staff officers from the high headquarters of WFSt and OB WEST appeared in the battle zone to peer over the shoulders of the combat commanders and diagnose the irritating failure to achieve a complete breakthrough. The conclusions they reported (which obviously took no official account of stubborn American resistance) were as follows. The check sustained in this sector could not be attributed to intervention by Allied air, an interesting reflection of the importance which Allied air-ground cooperation had assumed in German tactical thought by the end of 1944. The road net opened by the advance on 16 December had not been put in good repair. This the observers attributed to a breakdown of the para-military Todt Organization, whose labor groups were charged with the mission. Since the whole concept of the Todt Organization reached high into the realm of Nazi politics and personalities, this open animadversion is surprising and undoubtedly caused some consternation. The chief source of failure, said the General Staff observers, was the inadequate training of the troops who had been used in the attack. The conclusion reached as to the future conduct of operations on the Sixth Panzer Army front was simple enough and in accordance with established German doctrine: more maneuver room must be secured so that the attack could "unfold"; the entire Elsenborn area, therefore, must be won and at once. The right wing must be brought abreast of the 1st SS Panzer Division, at this moment twenty miles to the west of Stoumont.

This new plan, probably only a reflection of conclusions already reached in the higher echelons, actually had gone into effect on 19 December when German tanks and infantry made the first serious attempt to drive northwest from Büllingen, shoulder the Americans out of the Butgenbach position, and open the Büllingen-Malmédy highway.

Continued in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Dec 19, 2005

December 18, 2005

On this day in 1944...

I thought this year I'd excerpt from the Official History - The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge, by Hugh Cole.

The 2d Division Withdraws to the Elsenborn Line 19 December

At 1800 on 18 December the V Corps commander attached General Lauer's 99th Division to Robertson's 2d Division. General Gerow's instructions, given Robertson late on 17 December for a defense of the Rocherath-Krinkelt-Wirtzfeld line until such time as the isolated American troops to the east could be withdrawn, finally were fulfilled on the night of 18-19 December when the remnants of the 1st Battalion of the 393d and the 2d Battalion of the 394th came back through the 2d Division lines. These were the last organized units to find their way to safety, although small groups and individual stragglers would appear at the Elsenborn rallying point for some days to come. Then, despite the fact that the 2d Division was hard pressed, Robertson made good on his promise to the corps commander that he would release the 99th Division elements which had been placed in the 2d Division line and send them to Elsenborn for reorganization within their own division. The tactical problem remaining was to disengage the 2d Division and its attached troops, particularly those in the twin villages, while at the same time establishing a new and solid defense along the Elsenborn ridge.

The failure to break through at the twin villages on 18 December and so open the way south to the main armored route via Büllingen had repercussions all through the successive layers of German command on the Western Front. Realizing that the road system and the terrain in front of the Sixth Panzer Army presented more difficulties than those confronting the Fifth, it had been agreed to narrow the Sixth Panzer Army zone of attack and in effect ram through the American front by placing two panzer corps in column. The southern wing of the 1st SS Panzer Corps, in the Sixth Panzer Army van, had speedily punched a hole between the 106th and 99th American divisions and by 18 December the leading tank columns of the 1st SS Panzer Division were deep in the American rear areas. The northern wing, however, had made very slow progress and thus far had failed to shake any tanks loose in a dash forward on the northern routes chosen for armored penetration. Peremptory telephone messages from the headquarters of OB WEST harassed Dietrich, the Sixth Panzer Army commander, all during the 18th and were repeated-doubtless by progressively sharpening voices-all the way to the Krinkelt-Rocherath front. But exhortation had been fruitless.

Continued in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Dec 18, 2005

December 16, 2005

On this day in 1944...

It was cold in northern Europe in December, 1944. On this day, 61 years ago, things seemed to be going well. Then Feld Marschall Walter Model said, "Armee Gruppe B, angreifen, bitte" and things went south. Well, mostly west, actually. With the green or resting troops of the US First Army under LTG Hodges taking the brunt of the assault, things didn't go well this day. For anybody. And they all look so young.

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A lone decorated headstone stands beside 5,076 other headstones containing the remains of American World War II military veterans at the American Military Cemetery in Luxembourg. The site was liberated by the U.S. 5th Armored Division on Sept. 10, 1944, and a temporary military burial ground was initially established on Dec. 10, 1944. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Ted Banks

Update: UtahMan of The Pacific Slope found this the CMH pub I used for linkage:


Sorry to comment so soon again, but I just wanted to point this out
from that Ardennes history John found.

Read Chapter 14:

"A small group of stragglers suddenly become tired of what seems to be eternally retreating. Miles back they ceased to be part of an organized combat formation, and recorded history, at that point, lost them. The sound of firing is heard for fifteen minutes, an hour, coming from a patch of woods, a tiny village, the opposite side of a hill. The enemy has been delayed; the enemy resumes the march westward. Weeks later a graves registration team uncovers mute evidence of a last-ditch stand at woods, village, or hill."

And we don't know who they were.

You don't have to apologize for comments like this, trust me.

by John on Dec 16, 2005

December 14, 2005

A little historical stuff for the day...

Hey - old airplane guys - izzit me, or is this just a cool picture? A-12 Shrikes in the Phillipines before WWII.

Heh. Anti-aircraft gunnery... the hard way. I really find it interesting that they kept their pantel (panoramic telescope, used for laying the gun for direction, 'dial sight' to a Commonwealth soldier) on the gun (the thing sticking up in front of the guy crewing the piece). There *is* a way you could use that sight to reflect lead... but a ring-and-bead sight would be better.

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Last, but not least... ain't tanks a mighty fine thing? As long as they're yours?
And is it just me - but given the range and power of the 120mm gun, don't they seem to have very thin barrel walls?

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Don't forget to Vote For Us! We're not gonna catch those punk El-Tees at The Officer's Club unless you guys quit voting for Matty (who is untouchable at this point) but we're neck and neck with that Lawyer at Intel Dump.

by John on Dec 14, 2005

December 09, 2005

It really *did* happen...

...and you can blame Wild Bill (the *other* Wild Bill, not this one) and MCart for setting me off.

TINS! But from ninety years ago...

The 1914 Christmas Truce has somewhat assumed the status of a legend, probably because most of the stories associated with it are in the "historical fiction" category--some admittedly crafted, some posing as eyewitness accounts.

All the first-hand accounts have already been written; there will never be a new one. Alfred Anderson, the last living participant, died last month.

But the full story--plus some of the "romance" associated with it--is here.

I remembered reading a collection of letters in a long-since out-of-print book that my grandfather brought back from his stint with the AEF. One of them stuck in my mind because a Truce at Christmas just seemed like one of those things that *should* have happened and actually *did*...

I found that letter. I won't find the book ever again, but I found the letter.

The Letter of Captain Sir Edward Hulse, Bart., 2nd Scots Guards, to His Sister: "At 8.30 a.m. I was looking out and saw four Germans leave their trenches and come towards us. I told two of my men to go and meet them, unarmed, as the Germans were unarmed, and to see that they did not pass the half-way line.

We were 350 - 400 yards apart at this point. My fellows were not very keen, not knowing what was up, so I went out alone and met Barry, one of our ensigns, also coming out from another part of the line. By the time we got to them, they were three-quarters of the way over, and much too near our barbed wire, so I moved them back. They were three private soldiers and a stretcher-bearer, and their spokesman started off by saying that he thought it only right to come over and wish us a Happy Christmas, and trusted us implicitly to keep the truce.

He came from Suffolk, where he had left his best girl and a three-and-a-half horsepower motor-bike. He told me that he could not get a letter to the girl, and wanted to send one through me. I made him write out a post card, in English, in front of me, and I sent it off that night. I told him that she probably would not be a bit keen to see him again.

We then entered on a long discussion on every sort of thing. I was dressed in an old stocking-cap and a man's overcoat, and they took me for a corporal, a thing which I did not discourage, as I had an eye to going as near their lines as possible. I asked them what orders they had from their officers as to coming over to us, and they said none; they had just come over out of goodwill.

I kept it up for half-an-hour and then escorted them back as far as their barbed wire, having a jolly good look round all the time, and picking up various little bits of information which I had not had an opportunity of doing under fire.
I left instructions with them that if any of them came out later they must not come over the half-way line, and appointed a ditch as the meeting-place. We parted after an exchange of Albany cigarettes and German cigars, and I went straight to HQ to report.

On my return at 10.00 a.m. I was surprised to hear a hell of a din going on, and not a single man in my trenches; they were completely denuded (against my orders) and nothing lived. I head strains of "Tipperary" floating down the breeze, swiftly follwed by a tremendous burst of "Deutschland Uber Alles," and, as I got to my own Company HQ dugout, I saw, to my amazement, not only a crowd of about 150 British and Germans, at the halfway house which I had appointed opposite my lines, but six or seven such crowds, all the way down our lines, extending towards the 8th Division on our right.

I hustled out and asked if there were any German officers in my crowd, and the noise died down. (At this time I was myself in my own cap and badges of rank.)
I found two, but had to speak to them through an interpreter, as they could talk neither English nor French. I explained to them that strict orders must be maintained as to meeting half-way, and everyone unarmed; and we both agreed not to fire until the other did, thereby creating a complete deadlock and armistice (if strictly observed.)

Meanwhile, Scots and Huns were fraternizing in the most genuine possible manner. Every sort of souvenir was exchanged, addresses given and received, photos of families shown etc. One of our fellow offered a German a cigarette; the German said, "Virginian?" Our fellow said, "Aye, straight-cut." The German said, "No thanks, I only smoke Turkish!" (Sort of 10 shillings a hundred man, me. It gave us all a good laugh.) The Border Regiment was occupying this section on Christmas Day and Giles Loder, our Adjutant, went down there with a party that morning on hearing of the friendly demonstrations in front of my Company, to see if he could come to an agreement about our dead, who were still lying out between the trenches. The trenches are so close at this point, that of course each side had to be far stricter. Well, he found an extremely pleasant and superior stamp of German officer who arranged to bring all our dead to the half-way line. We took them over there, and buried 29 exactly half-way between the two lines. Giles collected all personal effects, pay-books and identity discs, but was stopped by the Germans when he told some men to bring in the rifles; all rifles lying on their side they had kept carefully.
They apparently treated our prisoners well, and did all they could for our wounded. this officer kept on pointing to our dead and saying, "Les braves, c'est bien dommage."

When George heard of it he went down to that section and talked to the nice officer and gave him a scarf. That same evening a German orderly came to the half-way line, and brought a pair of warm, wooly gloves as a present in return for George."

The letters tell the story best--and the vignettes. And one of the letters definitively answers the question of what a Scotsman wears under his kilts.

Ooops--I may have just triggered a Denizenne instalanche.

Oh, yeah--MCart? Juan had the idea for the autogyro in 1921.

*grinnn*

by CW4BillT on Dec 09, 2005

December 07, 2005

Lest anyone think I don't check the calendar...

I do. It's December 7th. It was a bad day, 64 years ago, throughout a large swath of the Pacific Ocean, as the Japanese moved to secure their "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere."

And kicked the Giant in the nuts.

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I didn't forget. Click here.

And we salute the living...

As we remember the Dead.

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Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance, In Memoriam.

Don't kick Giants in the nuts. They didn't like it then. They don't like it now.

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051029-F-2828D-115
U.S. Army Capt. Alfonso Prieto from the Military Transition Team, Headquarters Headquarters Company 1st Battalion 327 Infantry, 101st Airborne, Fort Campbell Ky., looks out of his gun turret of a tactical vehicle waiting to convoy to an Iraqi Military Base in Kirkuk, Iraq, from Forward Operations Base McHenry, during Operation Iraqi Freedom Oct. 29, 2005. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Andy Dunaway) (Released)
by John on Dec 07, 2005
» The Glittering Eye links with: Catching my eye: morning A through Z
» Righty in a Lefty State links with: Remembering Pearl Harbor
» TacJammer links with: Pearl Harbor, and a Lesson - 2005 Edition
» A Blog For All links with: This Day In History
» pamibe links with: Pearl Harbor Day in the Sphere
» Small Town Veteran links with: Lest We Forget
» The Grand Retort links with: Review: Hiroshima

December 02, 2005

The Midget Frog General.

I was going to do a post on Napoleon today, it being the anniversary of Austerlitz, and his coronation as Emperor, and tomorrow being the anniversary of Hohenlinden -but I ran out of time this morning.

I offer instead an email Jim C sent me, from some mutal acquaintances who have dream jobs... teaching military history at the Command and General Staff College. They should have to pay to have those jobs... not get paid!

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wanted to reminder you of today's significance, being the 200th anniversary of the French victory over the combined Russian and Austrian armies at Austerlitz. The Battle of the Three Emperors is arguably Napoleon's greatest victory and using today's doctrine, an example of a commander who could visualize the battlefield- since he had picked it as a place to offer battle a least a week before and set the conditions to cause the enemy commander's to react as he wanted them.

Attached are two music files- Marche D'Austerlitz and Pas de Charge de la Marine Imperial to help you get in the mood for the day, as well as the text of Napoleon's address to his troops after the battle. His letter to Josephine is also telling- he wrote it the day after the battle and "was a little tired."

Mark

Soldiers, I am happy with you!

At this day of Austerlitz, you have justified everything that I expected of your intrepidity; you have enriched your eagles with an everlasting glory. A 100 000 man army, under command of the Emperors of Russia and Austria, was, within less than four hours, cut or disbanded. What escaped your blades drowned in the lakes. Forty flags, the banners of the Russian imperial guard, 120 pieces of artillery, twenty generals, more than 30,000 prisoners, are the result of this day now famous forever. This infantry so reputed, and superior in number, could not resist your shock, and now you have no rivals to fear. So, within two months, this third coalition was vanquished and disbanded. Peace cannot be far away; but, as I promised to my people before crossing the Rhine, I shall make only a peace that will give us guaranties and ensure retribution to our allies.

Soldiers, when the French people placed the imperial crown upon my head, I entrusted myself to you to maintain it forever in the high beams of glory which could only make it worth to my eyes. But in the same moment, our enemies thought about destroying and dishonoring it! And this crown of iron, conquered by the blood of so many French, they wanted to force me to place it upon the head of our most cruel enemies! Temerarious and insane projects which, upon this very anniversary of the crowing of your Emperor, you have annihilated and destroyed. You taught them that it is easier to defy us and threaten us, than to defeat us!

Soldiers, when everything that is necessary to ensure the happiness and prosperity of your fatherland will be accomplished, I shall bring you back to France; there, you will be objects of my outmost favours. My people shall see you back with joy, and it will be enough for you to say "I was at the Battle of Austerlitz" for you to be answered "here is a gallant man".

To the Empress, at Strasbourg,

"Austerlitz, 12th Frimaire, Year XIV (December 3, 1805)

"I have sent Lebrun to you from the battlefield. I defeated the Russian and Austrian army commanded by the two emperors. I am slightly tired.

by John on Dec 02, 2005

November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving - some Alternate views.

Ben Franklin's take:

The Real Story of the First Thanksgiving By Benjamin Franklin (1785)

“There is a tradition that in the planting of New England, the first settlers met with many difficulties and hardships, as is generally the case when a civiliz’d people attempt to establish themselves in a wilderness country. Being so piously dispos’d, they sought relief from heaven by laying their wants and distresses before the Lord in frequent set days of fasting and prayer. Constant meditation and discourse on these subjects kept their minds gloomy and discontented, and like the children of Israel there were many dispos’d to return to the Egypt which persecution had induc’d them to abandon.

“At length, when it was proposed in the Assembly to proclaim another fast, a farmer of plain sense rose and remark’d that the inconveniences they suffer’d, and concerning which they had so often weary’d heaven with their complaints, were not so great as they might have expected, and were diminishing every day as the colony strengthen’d; that the earth began to reward their labour and furnish liberally for their subsistence; that their seas and rivers were full of fish, the air sweet, the climate healthy, and above all, they were in the full enjoyment of liberty, civil and religious.

“He therefore thought that reflecting and conversing on these subjects would be more comfortable and lead more to make them contented with their situation; and that it would be more becoming the gratitude they ow’d to the divine being, if instead of a fast they should proclaim a thanksgiving. His advice was taken, and from that day to this, they have in every year observ’d circumstances of public felicity sufficient to furnish employment for a Thanksgiving Day, which is therefore constantly ordered and religiously observed.”

Then there's that whole "Who was first?" thing:

When on September 8, 1565 Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and his 800 Spanish settlers founded the settlement of St. Augustine in La Florida, the landing party celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving, and, afterward, Menéndez laid out a meal to which he invited as guests the native Seloy tribe who occupied the site.

The celebrant of the Mass was St. Augustine’s first pastor, Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales, and the feast day in the church calendar was that of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. What exactly the Seloy natives thought of those strange liturgical proceedings we do not know, except that, in his personal chronicle, Father Lopez wrote that “the Indians imitated all they saw done.”

What was the meal that followed? Again we do not know. But, from our knowledge of what the Spaniards had on board their five ships, we can surmise that it was cocido, a stew made from salted pork and garbanzo beans, laced with garlic seasoning, and accompanied by hard sea biscuits and red wine. If it happened that the Seloy contributed to the meal from their own food stores, fresh or smoked, then the menu could have included as well: turkey,venison, and gopher tortoise; seafood such as mullet, drum, and sea catfish; maize (corn),beans and squash.

What is important historically about that liturgy and meal was stated by me in a 1965 book entitled The Cross in the Sand: “It was the first community act of religion and thanksgiving in the first permanent [European] settlement in the land.” The keyword in that sentence was “permanent.” Numerous thanksgivings for a safe voyage and landing had been made before in Florida, by such explorers as Juan Ponce de León, in 1513 and 1521, Pánfilo de Narváez in 1528, Hernando de Soto in 1529, Father Luis Cáncer de Barbastro in 1549, and Tristán de Luna in 1559. Indeed French Calvinists (Huguenots) who came to the St. Johns River with Jean Ribault in 1562 and René de Laudonnière in 1564 similarly offered prayers of thanksgiving for their safe arrivals. But all of those ventures, Catholic and Calvinist, failed to put down permanent roots.

St. Augustine’s ceremonies were important historically in that they took place in what would develop into a permanently occupied European city, North America’s first. They were important culturally as well in that the religious observance was accompanied by a communal meal, to which Spaniards and natives alike were invited. The thanksgiving at St. Augustine, celebrated 56 years before the Puritan-Pilgrim thanksgiving at Plymouth Plantation (Massachusetts), did not, however, become the origin of a national annual tradition, as Plymouth would. The reason is that, as the maxim holds, it is the victors who write the histories.

During the 18th and 19th centuries British forces won out over those of Spain and France for mastery over the continent. Thus, British observances, such as the annual reenactment of the Pilgrims’ harvest festival in 1621, became a national practice and holiday in the new United States, and over time obliterated knowledge of the prior Spanish experiences in Florida, particularly at St. Augustine. Indeed, as the Pilgrims’ legend grew, people of Anglo-American descent in New England came to believe that Plymouth was the first European settlement in the country and that no other Europeans were here before the arrival of the Mayflower– beliefs that are still widespread in that region.

In recent years, Jamestown, Virginia has enjoyed some success in persuading its Anglo-American cousins in Plymouth that it was founded in 1607, thirteen years before the Pilgrims’ arrival, and that there were regular ship schedules from England to Jamestown before the Mayflower’s voyage of 1620. Furthermore, Berkeley Plantation near Charles City, Virginia, has convincingly demonstrated that it conducted a thanksgiving ceremony on December 4, 1619, nearly two years before the festival at Plymouth. Thought to have been on Berkeley’s menu were oysters, shad, rockfish, and perch. Along the old Spanish borderlands provinces from Florida to California an occasional voice is heard asserting that this site or that was the first permanent Spanish settlement in the United States – a claim often made in Santa Fe, New Mexico which was founded in 1610 – or that it was the place where the first thanksgiving took place. An example of the latter claim appeared last year in the New York Times, which, while recounting the colonizing expedition of Juan de Oñate from Mexico City into what became New Mexico, stated that celebrations of Oñate’s party in 1598 “are considered [the Times did not say by whom] the United States’ first Thanksgiving.”

The historical fact remains that St. Augustine’s thanksgiving not only came earlier; it was the first to take place in a permanent settlement. The Ancient City deserves national notice for that distinction.

Perhaps most of New England is now willing to concede as much, though that was not the case in November 1985, when an Associated Press reporter built a short Thanksgiving Day story around my aforesaid sentence of 20 years before in The Cross in the Sand. When his story appeared in Boston and other papers, New England went into shock. WBZ-TV in Boston interviewed me live by satellite for its 6:00 p.m. regional news
program.

The newsman told me that all of Massachusetts was “freaked out,” and that, as he spoke, “the Selectmen of Plymouth are holding an emergency meeting to contend with this new information that there were Spaniards in Florida before there were Englishmen in Massachusetts.”

I replied, “Fine. And you can tell them for me that, by the time the Pilgrims came to Plymouth, St. Augustine was up for urban renewal.”

The somewhat rattled chairman of the Selectmen was quoted as saying: “I hate to take the wind out of the professor’s sails, but there were no turkeys running around in Florida in the 1500s. But there may be a few loose ones down there now at the University of Florida.” So there! Within a few days of the tempest a reporter from the Boston Globe called to tell me that throughout Massachusetts I had become known as “The Grinch Who Stole Thanksgiving.” Well, let’s hope that everyone up north has settled down now. And let’s enjoy all our Thanksgivings whenever and wherever they first began.

Dr. Michael V. Gannon is a Distinguished Service Professor of History at the University of Florida. He has had a long interest in the early Spanish missions of Florida about which he has written extensively. Two of his books, Rebel Bishop (1964) and The Cross in the Sand (1965) treat of the early history of this state.

H/t Jim C and the Catholic Information Network.

Update: The Pilgrims fire back. From Suzy in the comments:

We know the Spanish were the first Europeans (other than the Vikings) to establish a presence in the New World, but let's not try to change history folks--the St. Augustine thanksgiving took place in Spanish territory. Any Viking thanksgivings (assuming they ever happened) took place in what is now Canada. As for Jamestown's thanksgiving, that was probably a bunch of lonely guys getting drunk (and probably into a brawl afterwards). As a Mayflower decendant, I am re-claiming dibs on the first "American" Thanksgiving. Sure people have given "thanks" for as long as people have been people, but the basis of our celebration has and is the Plymouth Colony's Thanksgiving, which was later promoted by Ben Franklin and then later decreed a National Holiday by Abe Lincoln (right after the Civil War ended). If you want to celebrate a "St. Augustine thanksgiving," knock yourself out with a salt pork stew in September--hey why your at it go celebrate a "Viking" and "Jamestown" thanksgiving too, but in November we are re-enacting the Pilgrim's Thanksgiving. Get over it.

As a Jamestown descendent, my response is, "Yeah? So? What's yer point?"

by John on Nov 24, 2005
» tdaxp links with: Thanksgiving
» Sierra Faith links with: Early Thanksgivings

November 19, 2005

Oh, yeah - I almost forgot...

142 years ago, today, in a brand-spanking new cemetery, full of like, well, y'know, mostly new dead guys, well, this guy, y'know, he like, gave a speech, y'know?

And, like, it was quaint and stuff the way he spoke. Kinda kewl, in an old-timey sorta way.

by John on Nov 19, 2005

November 16, 2005

Of local Kansas City Interest

If you live in the Leavenworth/Lansing/Western KC/St Joseph metro areas you *might* be interested in an Open House tomorrow (Thursday, 17 November) at Fort Leavenworth. The Frontier Army Museum (a good little museum I have *nothing* to do with) is hosting a FREE Open House that will showcase not only the newly-renovated exhibits, the curators will also be showing artifacts related to Fort Leavenworth and the Frontier Army that are usually in storage and not normally available to casual visitors.

As a further incentive, free wine and cheese! Starts at 7PM with a short presentation, and lasts until 9PM. Access to the Fort requires only a photo id, though if you don't have a DoD vehicle sticker you will have to use the right hand lane and let them search your vehicle.

As a disincentive - I'll be the bearded fat guy (or, one of them, if there are more than one who show up) but I promise I'll ignore you unless you introduce yourself...

Really - if you have the time, there are worse ways to spend an evening. Especially if you've never been to the museum.

And no, neither the Director of the Museum, nor the Director of the Combat Studies Institute (co-sponsor of the event) asked me to shill this for them.

It was someone else. Frequent contributor Rich B.!

Just come to the Fort and follow the signs - which isn't too hard - when you enter the Fort at the Main Gate you are on Grant Avenue. Go north on Grant to Reynolds. Turn east on Reynolds, past the gym, and the museum is on the north side of the road, with a little semi-circle drive.

by John on Nov 16, 2005

November 14, 2005

French Military History, with tongue firmly in cheek.

This is funny, if you have any sense of history. But bear in mind one of the Armorer's Maxims - France has rarely had a government worthy of her soldiers. Don't diss the French soldier - plenty of enough for the politicians and the Generals they select.

- Gallic Wars - Lost. In a war whose ending foreshadows the next 2000 years of French history, France is conquered by of all things, an Italian.

- Hundred Years War
- Mostly lost, saved at last by female schizophrenic who inadvertently creates The First Rule of French Warfare; "France's armies are victorious only when not led by a Frenchman." Sainted.

- Italian Wars
- Lost. France becomes the first and only country to ever lose two wars when fighting Italians.

- Wars of Religion
- France goes 0-5-4 against the Huguenots

- Thirty Years War
- France is technically not a participant, but manages to get invaded anyway. Claims a tie on the basis that eventually the other participants started ignoring her.

- War of Revolution
- Tied. Frenchmen take to wearing red flowerpots as chapeaux.

- The Dutch War
- Tied

- War of the Augsburg League/King William's War/French and Indian War
- Lost, but claimed as a tie. Three ties in a row induces deluded Frogophiles the world over to label the period as the height of French military power.

- War of the Spanish Succession
- Lost. The War also gave the French their first taste of a Marlborough, which they have loved ever since.

- American Revolution
- In a move that will become quite familiar to future Americans, France claims a win even though the English colonists saw far more action. This is later known as "de Gaulle Syndrome", and leads to the Second Rule of French Warfare; "France only wins when America does most of the fighting."

- French Revolution
- Won, primarily due the fact that the opponent was also French.

- The Napoleonic Wars
- Lost. Temporary victories (remember the First Rule!) due to leadership of a Corsican, who ended up being no match for a British footwear designer.

- France vs. Mexico
- Win, then give up. France conquers Mexico. When the U.S. decides to enforce the Monroe Doctrine and in so many words tells France to get the HELL out of our side of the world, they tuck tail and run. Maximilian, however, takes it like a man.

- The Franco-Prussian War
- Lost. Germany first plays the role of drunk Frat boy to France's ugly girl home alone on a Saturday night.

- World War I
- Tied and on the way to losing, France is saved by the United States. Thousands of French women find out what it's like to not only sleep with a winner, but one who doesn't call her "Fraulein." Sadly, widespread use of condoms by American forces forestalls any improvement in the French bloodline.

- World War II
- Lost. Conquered French liberated by the United States and Britain just as they finish learning the Horst Wessel Song.

- War in Indochina
- Lost. French forces plead sickness; take to bed with the Dien Bien Flu

- Algerian Rebellion
- Lost. Loss marks the first defeat of a western army by a Non-Turkic Muslim force since the Crusades, and produces the First Rule of Muslim Warfare; "We can always beat the French." This rule is identical to the First Rules of the Italians, Russians, Germans, English, Dutch, Spanish, Vietnamese and Esquimaux.

- War on Terrorism
- France, keeping in mind its recent history, surrenders to Germans and Muslims just to be safe. Attempts to surrender to Vietnamese ambassador fail after he takes refuge in a McDonald's.

The question for any country silly enough to count on the French should not be "Can we count on the French?", but rather "How long until France collapses?"

Or, better still: "They're there when they need you."

H/t, Dave M.

by John on Nov 14, 2005

November 02, 2005

Rattling around the mailbox this morning.

Good news from Afghanistan, via Partamian. As James put it - Essayons!

Watershed in history today - the AEF's first combat casualties in WWI: Corporal James B. Gresham, Private Thomas F. Enright, and Private Merle D. Hay. A sad, but significant, way to enter the history books. Worthy of mention, I think.

Other events of note:

19811: Birth of a slogan: Tippecanoe and Tyler Too!
1947: The Spruce Goose Flew for the first - and last - time.
1982: Fire in Salang tunnel, Afghanistan. In the Salang tunnel north of Kabul, a Soviet army convoy truck collided with a fuel tanker. The explosion triggered an inferno. Various sources claim 700 to 2,000 people suffocated and were burned. Think about that when you tot up the cost for us having taken down *two* rogue regimes. The tunnel was destroyed in the Afghan Civil War in 1998 - It's been rebuilt in a multi-national effort - though you'd have to read Pravda to find out which nations... Apparently, it's *still* a tough place to go...

Got an email reaction from a long-time reader to Dusty's post:

My words......makes me so mad I could spit!

Not sure I ever sent you this, someone else's words.

We do not fight for land. We are loyal to an ideal-an ideal of liberty wherever man lives. We do not guard territory, bleed for a piece of dirt. We don't fight because we love violence. We fight for our freedom as individuals to live our own lives, to peruse our own survival, our own happiness.

Your unconditional rejection of violence makes you smugly think of yourselves as noble, as enlightened, but in reality it is nothing less than abject moral capitulation to evil. unconditional rejection of self defense, because you think it's a supposed surrender to violence, leaves you no resort but begging for mercy or offering appeasement.

Evil grants no mercy, and to attempt to appease it is nothing more than a piecemeal surrender to it. Surrender to evil is slavery at best, death at worst. thus your unconditional rejection of violence is really nothing more than embracing death as preferable to life.

You will achieve what you embrace.

The right, the absolute necessity, of vengeance against anyone who initiates force against you is fundamental to survival. The morality of a people's self-defense is in it's defense of each individual's right to life. It's an intolerance to violence made real by an unwavering willingness to crush any who would launch violence against you. The unconditional determination to destroy any who would initiate force against you is an exaltation of the value of life. Refusing to surrender your life to any thug or tyrant who lays claim to it is in fact embracing life itself.

If you are unwilling to defend your right to your own lives, then you are merely like mice trying to argue with owls. You think their ways are wrong. They think you are dinner.

If, hoping to appease it, you willingly compromise with unrepentant evil, you only allow such evil to sink it's fangs into you; from that day on its venom will course through your veins until it finally kills you.

Compromising with murderers grants them moral equivalence where none can rightly exist. moral equivalence says that you are no better than they; therefore their belief-that they should be able to torture, rape, or murder you-is just as morally valid as your view-that you have the right to live free of their violence. Moral compromise rejects the concept of right and wrong. It says that everyone is equal, all desires are equally valid, all action is equally valid, so everyone should compromise to get along.

Where could you compromise with those who torture, rape and murder people? In the number of days a week you will be tortured? In the number of men to be allowed to rape your loved ones? In how many of your family are to be murdered?

No moral equivalence exists in that situation, nor can it exist, so there can be no compromise, only suicide.

To even suggest compromise can exist with such men is to sanction murder.
Many teach that saying someone is evil is prejudiced thinking. it's a way of belittling someone already in pain for some reason. Such people must be embraced and taught to shed their fears of their fellow man and then they will not strike out in violent ways.

They are dangerous to everyone because they embrace evil with their teachings. In so doing, in trying to be kind, to be unselfish, in trying to be nonjudgmental, you allow evil to become far more powerful than it otherwise would. you refuse to see evil, and so you welcome it among you. You allow it to exist. you give it power over you. You are a people who have welcomed death and refused to denounce it.

You are an empire naked to the shadow of evil.

These people think of themselves as enlightened, as above violence. They are not enlightened; they are merely slaves awaiting a master, victims awaiting killers.

Anyone know the source of the words, without Googling?

Update: Visitors from Don Surber's place might find this post to be an even better fit to his post.

by John on Nov 02, 2005
» Don Surber links with: The Right To Remain Silent

October 25, 2005

We few, we happy few...

Today is St. Crispin's Day... the most famous (and perhaps far-reaching in subsequent impact) event of this day in history is...

Agincourt - the Flower of French Nobility is slaughtered. Net IQ of the region improves.



St. Crispen's Day Speech
William Shakespeare, 1599

Enter the KING
WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here
But one ten thousand of those men in England
That do no work to-day!

KING. What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more methinks would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian.'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispian's day.'
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words-
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

by John on Oct 25, 2005
» Techography links with: St Crispins Day Modern
» Neptunus Lex links with: St. Crispian’s Day

October 18, 2005

Everything old is new again

Actually, everything old is still old, but it doesn't lessen the amusement value. Sooooo, in keeping with the theme that seems to have struck a chord (C#minor) with most of you, here's another trip down Memory Lane. It's been around as long as the 'net has...

"[Television] won't be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night."
- Darryl F. Zanuck, head of 20th Century Fox, 1946

"Man will never reach the moon, regardless of all future scientific advances."
- Dr. Lee de Forest, inventor of the audion tube and father of radio, 1967

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 15 tons."
--Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of Science, 1949

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
--Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, 1943

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year."
--The Editor-in-Chief, business books, for Prentice Hall, 1957

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."
--Ken Olson, President, Chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."
--Western Union internal memo, 1876.

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?"
--David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

"The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible,"
--A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service.
(Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

"I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary Cooper,"
--Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in "Gone With The Wind."

"A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make."
--Response to Debbie Fields' idea of starting her company, Mrs. Fields' Cookies.

"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out."
--Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."
--Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value."
--Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.

"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction".
--Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

And my personal fave:

"Everything that can be invented has already been invented."
- Charles H. Duell, U.S. Commissioner of Patents, 1899

by CW4BillT on Oct 18, 2005

October 16, 2005

Sunday Fare..

Even the Sunnis voted in large numbers yesterday... even if, as the AP observes, to vote *against* something. Novel idea, that, eh? Not only can you vote (that's happened before in Iraq) but you can vote *against* something. Wonder how many Sunni's, walking away from the polls, had that little epiphany...

Strategy Page covers it better than most, perhaps.

October 16, 2005


IRAQ: Another Election Carried Out Despite Terrorist Threats

October 16, 2005: The government is getting better at running national elections under the threat of terrorist attacks. The legislative elections last January had fewer than ten million people voting (69 percent of those registered), and over 40 people killed by terrorists opposed to the elections. This vote, on the new constitution, brought out over ten million, and left fewer than ten dead. There are several reasons for this progress. First, the government is getting better. There are more police, and more of them are trained and reliable. The government has used its experience well, and the country was basically shut down for yesterday's election, making it difficult for terrorists to move around. And apparently the terrorists did not move much, and attacked even less. But another reason for that was the effort by many Sunni Arab anti-government groups to get Sunni Arabs to vote against the new constitution. If the three mainly Sunni Arab provinces could get two thirds of the
voters to go against the new constitution, the constitution would have to go back for more revisions and a new vote. Many Sunni Arabs decided that they could live with the new constitution, and turned out to vote that way. As a result, it appears that the Sunni Arabs did not stop the constitution.

All of this is another major defeat for the al Qaeda and anti-government forces. These two groups have not been able to stop any elections, and their efforts are weaker with each round of voting. Al Qaeda's efforts to goad the Shia Arabs into a civil war with Sunni Arabs has not worked either, although it has caused a lot of ill-will and violence in areas where Shia and Sunni live close together.

The anti-government forces have little to sustain them. The October 15 election was just another of many major defeats. And every day, there are numerous lesser defeats. But some of the Sunni Arab terrorists will keep at it, and it will be years before this threat is completely gone from Iraq. That's been the pattern in other Arab countries over the past few decades.

SGT Hook is back in the 'sphere. Welcome home, Sergeant Major!

Michael Barone has an interesting take on things political.

On this day a bunch of WWII German leaders reaped what they sowed, discovering that last step was a long one. On this day in 1946 the condemned Nazi war criminals were hanged. Except for Goering, who cheated Sergeant John Woods with a pill. Perhaps not unfittingly, it was the 6th anniversary of the founding of the Warsaw Ghetto. There are those on the web with a dissenting view of the event.

NOTE: The "dissenting view" link isn't an endorsement by anyone here. And unless you think the Nazis were a good idea, and that the Jews are the root of all evil - you aren't going to like the link, nor the ideas expressed therein. Something I should have noted before this. My apologies to anyone who felt ambushed by that link. The 'Net is neutral - the use we put it to, however, is not.

Actually, not a good day for European leaders... Marie Antoinette got to look through the little window on this day in 1793.

It really is a busy day in history. Some other tidbits...

1710 British troops capture Port Royal, Nova Scotia. The utter ingratitude of the locals to this involuntary change of administration will result in them being resettled in Louisiana... and the Acadians become Cajuns.
1775 Portland, Maine, burned by British - you b*st*rds! Mind you, it seems that Portland has been rather flammable over it's history...
1813 Battle at Leipzig: Napoleon loses to Prussia, Austria, and Russia in "The Battle of Nations." The start of a long, and still bloody denouement.
1859 John Brown captures the arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Va
1863 U.S. Grant is named commander of Union forces in the West. First Vicksburg, finally, Petersburg.
1885 Capt Alfred Thayer Mahan becomes Superintendent of the Naval War College
1925 Locarno Pact, European nations agree to accept boundaries as they are
1940 First black American promoted to general: Benjamin Oliver Davis, Sr.
1953 Batista regime sentences Fidel Castro sentenced to 15 years for
rebellion. Oops. Shoulda held on to him longer. eh Fulgencio? Not that you were any great winner yourself.
1962 Missile Crisis: JFK learns of Soviet missiles in Cuba. Even *I* remember this, and I was pretty young. But Dad left with a lot of other soldiers to head to Florida...
1964 China becomes world's fifth nuclear power. Dangit. That sure changed the calculus for Vietnam...
1978 Polish Resistance worker Karol Wojtyla elected pope as John Paul II.

Ry sends along this bit from Defense Tech about making the old new again.

I counter with this:

Hosting provided by FotoTime

Staff Sgt. Matthew Sheppard of A Co, 1st Battalion, 325th AIR, prepares to move out on an improvised donkey convoy near Lwar Kowndalan, Afghanistan, Oct. 3. Sheppard and other paratroopers used donkeys to transport air-dropped supplies off a mountain and back to their patrol base in town.

Love the reins. Pink is your color, Sergeant.

For our Georgia Denizens and visitors, Banter in Atlanter wants to push this: Heat for Heroes.

At Stop The ACLU, Sunday Funnies!

Gulf Coast resident, reader and blogger Seawitch asks that we go read this piece over at Miss M's place and offer what help we are motivated to provide.

More as the Muse seizes me.

I was seized.

SWWBO wants you to know she understands Kosher. And religious sensitivity. She asks that rather than shower her with religious tracts, (she'll return fire with Catholic stuff), why don't you understand free speech and politics. And that, as the Founder of Carnival of the Recipes, she can have "special themes" like Pork Only, or "No Companion Animal Recipes" as a rule. Trust me - if she ever has a "Piscine-Only Carnival," I won't be visiting. Some people's nerves are too close to the surface! Ya don't like this week's theme... ever, don't participate this week. See how easy that is? Amazing that people take a somewhat 'rights-based' view of a volunteer effort on the web...

So - don't gripe at ALa, who is hosting this week's Carnival of the Recipes, PorkOnlyEdition!!!

SWWBO also introduces you to The Empress of Dark, true ruler of Castle Argghhh!

Hosting provided by FotoTime

Heh: Hat tip to Eric, the Straight White Guy:





My blog is worth $549,861.96.
How much is your blog worth?


by John on Oct 16, 2005
» Righty in a Lefty State links with: News and Updates
» Unpartisan.com Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: Bush Hails Iraq Vote on New Constitution

September 30, 2005

Stuff bumping around in my head today.

Here's a little story I'd missed... More interesting to me is Dr. Weevil's take on it, and his commenters response.

New Zealand's Government is relying on the "we're small, and we'll be nice to everybody" system of defense. You can do that when, in your heart of hearts, you know that if a *real* threat should show up, your northern cousin would send a carrier battlegroup or two, and a Marine amphib group, while your cousins on the Big Island to the West would probably do some dying buying time for you.

Which is no reflection on the New Zealand Armed Forces - the soldiers and sailors of Kiwi-land I've worked with are as fine a group of warriors as has ever taken up arms. Not dissing the aviators - just never worked with any! They've been reduced to what some want the USAF (or at least TRANSCOM) to become - a logistical/rescue force that would be Air FEMA. (A role they are already fully capable of, btw).

A little historical trivia:

1707 Austrians storm Gaeta, seizing it from the Spanish. I find this interesting, since Gaeta is in Italy, not Austria, or Spain.

1938 Munich Agreement: Czechoslovakia surrenders Sudentenland to
Germany. Which, in the end, didn't help. Let's hope 67 years from now we don't have an entry on my not-yet-born grandchild's blog that says...

2005 Gaza Agreement: Israel surrenders Gaza to Palestinian Authority. No, the situations are not exactly parallel... but it does indicate the level of risk that Israel is taking. It's a good thing, based on past performance of the Armies in question, that her enemies are Arab.

Strategy Page has some other interesting info today.

A little Iraq analysis.

In light of that bit - what should we make of *this* analysis? This highlights the problems decision makers face - how to reconcile all these competing views. I can tell you from working in a fusion cell - what's obvious in retrospect is anything other in real-time. H/t, Ry.

And a hoot of a video! Apparently this guy has a very accommodating significant other, as his grip strength is pretty weak. *Naughty Word Warning*

Jay at Stop the ACLU has a poll for you. *Very* Unscientific, but, hey, - it's a blog! I voted for strict constructionist, as passe' as that concept is.

Bob Owens takes on Sarah Brady over at Confederate Yankee, over the Brady Campaigns new advertising campaign... in Europe. Timely post, that is. Why? You should read SWWBO's post about her discussion of American governance with Brits in Bristol (where SWWBO is this week). Why? Because, at least in her limited sample, Brits are every bit as ignorant of the US as Euro's (and Weenie Elites in the US) claim we are about... them.

Then there's this...

BTW - Who Knocked Up Sam?

by John on Sep 30, 2005

September 15, 2005

Thursday Olio

Coupla things that struck me today.

First up - Tom DeLay and his comments about "Winning the War on Fat in the Federal Budget."

Some of us are not amused.

While I am not a fan of Rush Limbaugh's show (I do generally like his monologues, but once the callers start in, I'm outta there, I can only take so much group-think before my mind wanders), I'll say that Limbaugh's explanation is *also* plausible. In fact... I *hope* he's correct, otherwise I have to conclude that Mr. DeLay was hung-over or otherwise incapacitated. Y'all can decide as you wish.

The whole thing revolves around paying for Katrina. There's this little bit from the Wall Street Journal:

Some public-spirited folks in Bozeman, Montana, have come up with a wonderful idea to help Uncle Sam offset some of the $62 billion federal cost of Hurricane Katrina relief. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that Montanans from both sides of the political aisle have petitioned the city council to give the feds back a $4 million earmark to pay for a parking garage in the just-passed $286 billion highway bill. As one of these citizens, Jane Shaw, told us: "We figure New Orleans needs the money right now a lot more than we need extra downtown parking space."

Which got us thinking: Why not cancel all of the special-project pork in the highway bill and dedicate the $25 billion in savings to emergency relief on the Gulf Coast? Is it asking too much for Richmond, Indiana, to give up $3 million for its hiking trail, or Newark, New Jersey, to put a hold on its $2 million bike path?

The whole article is here, if you are a subscriber.

Now *there* is an idea that even lefties should be able to get behind. Take some of the 'nice to haves' out of the current budget and apply them to the 'need to haves' from the month's/year's disasters so far... Lefties are willing to tell me that I should skimp nice to haves at home and fork over the dough to government for need to haves like bike paths... why can't we divert that money for what is obviously *not* a crying and compelling need, to one that is? It's not like we can't reallocate the funds next year.

Further - and I've sent this to my delegation... lets put a checkbox on the federal tax form that allows me to allocate funds to disaster relief... a self-selected surcharge. I can either do it as an "add" to my tax bill or as a debit from my refund. States do it all the time. Why not the Feds?

I'd tick it off if I knew where it was going... and yes, I understand money is fungible, spare me that discussion.

Here is another interesting observation. Where I work, there are some pretty left-leaning people, who work for my firm, the government, and other firms. I've been out shaking the charity tree and just talking to people about who and what they have for giving habits. Not inquisitorial, just in context. Given where I work and who with, the lefties are a decided minority, and pretty muted, though there are at least three who are pretty aggressive, one even pugnacious, in their politics. But all in a collegial way, lest anyone think we have rollicking and brawling politics in the office. We don't, and there is plenty of group-think around here, too. [Get to the point, Donovan, sheesh!] The point is... every right-winger I've spoken to has given money, some substantial amounts, to Katrina relief, and been keeping up with their other giving. With two exceptions, the left-leaners have not, or have given token sums. What's more interesting is the underlier - we all make, broadly speaking, about the same amount of money. I suspect both groups give similar amounts of money, too. Since I'm not really digging into it, and it *is* self-reported, this is not good data... but the lefties give it to groups with direct political agendas, whether parties or organizations like NARAL, NOW, ACLU, etc. Righties tend to give it more to United Way, CFC, Red Cross, and faith-based organizations that are more service-oriented than policy oriented.

Just an observation.

Moving on... Today is a big day in history for CAPT Heinrichs, Mostly Cajun, Neffi... their branch debuted!

1916 First use of tanks in war, by the British in the Battle of the Somme.

1938 Br PM Neville Chamberlain visits Hitler at Berchtesgaden. Thus ltidying up the groundwork for WWII in the aftermath of WWI. So obvious in hindsight, but a lot of people thought it was a good idea at the time. Does any of this sound vaguely familiar... echoes of the 90's? Does anyone doubt that if French Prime Minister Daladier had ordered the French Army into the Rhineland, to enforce the provisions of Treaty of Versailles (Arts. 42, 43) he would have been reviled as much as President Bush has been... by generally the same group of people?

1944 Marines land on Peleliu, 450 miles east of Mindanao in the Philippines. Sadly, the place is more famous now as the setting for Survivor, Palau. (I *detest* the Survivor shows... which makes me a distinct minority amongst my compadres).

You want to read about surviving in Palau, I recommend this: Marine At War. by Russell Davis (I read it in 5th Grade - the first of many, many, many war-related books to follow.)


1950 Inchon Landing: UN troops attack behind North Korean lines. MacArthur's last great stroke of genius.


by John on Sep 15, 2005
» Mostly Cajun, All American and Opinionated links with: Happy birthday, tankers!

August 23, 2005

Monday in San Diego...

The Castle Argghhh! Traveling Roadshow traveled to the San Diego waterfront on Monday. Taking shameless advantage of our military IDs, we parked (for free all day) at the Navy facility facing Navy Pier. Which is good, since Navy Pier is where the USS Midway is.

SWWBO has been feeling the walking pace of the last couple of days, and slipped and fell on the pier as we wended our way to the ticket office. She wrenched her back, not seriously, but painfully enough she informed me she wasn't wandering through any aircraft carrier. So, again shamelessly taking advantage of our IDs, we got reduced admission tickets and boarded the Midway. We paid $10 for SWWBO to head to the Fantail Cafe, swill beer and watch cute guys with tight buns or something, while I prowled the ship.

I got lots of pics, but since I ain't got any bandwidth - you'll settle for this one - a view of something old, the Midway, and something new(er), I'll let you Navy types tell me who the passing vessel is.

We then headed for the Star of India, the oldest iron-hulled commercial vessel still afloat. On the way there, however, we stumbled across a US Army tugboat... After finding out that San Diego supports the military, but not it's retirees (old farts on fixed incomes pay full price) we headed to the ships...

Anyway, back to the Star of India - built on the Isle of Man in 1863, she's seen a lot of miles and still sails. She's hauled cargo and people from England to New Zealand, nitre from Chile to Germany, salmon and timber from Alaska to San Diego. A kewl place to visit. From there, SWWBO surrendered to her tiredness and pain, and went to sit out my continued explorations by gaining solace for her pain buying earrings (nice ones - scrimshaw walrus tusk) at the museum gift shop.

Me, I went sub-hunting. The B-39, an old Soviet Kilo class diesel-electric. I knew they were pretty much improved German Type XXIs from WWII, what I didn't realize is that the crew of the U505 (in the museum of Science and Industry in Chicago [yes, I know the U505 is a Type IXc, thanks]) would have probably been able to sail her without too much help, except in translation. The Armorer figures that just like he wasn't cut out to be a Soviet tanker (over 5ft tall) he wasn't cut out to be a Soviet submariner, either. There were four of these things I hadda go through. I got through, but I left my dignity in the forward torpedo room.

I then went through the HMS Surprise, the movie-ship used for Master and Commander. That's a subject for a different post. Heck alla these are - when I have bandwidth again, next month.

I'll close with two things.

1. The Armorer can *always* find a cannon. (In this case, there's actually two there)

2. And I'll leave you with this very typical Armorer self-portrait - in a seeker-head on a bomb on an A7 spotted on the left catapult of the Midway.

armorerselfportrait.JPG

by John on Aug 23, 2005

August 09, 2005

Enlisted Retention, 18th Century-Style...

...stuff that you'll only find in the archives of Strategypage. Ummm--or here.

On 23 August 1779, the USS Constitution set sail from Boston, loaded with 475 officers and men, 48,600 gallons of water, 74,000 cannon shot, 11,500 pounds of black powder and 79,400 gallons of rum. Her mission: to destroy and harass English shipping.

On 6 October, she made Jamaica, took on 826 pounds of flour and 68,300 gallons of rum. Three weeks later, Constitution reached the Azores, where she provisioned with 550 pounds of beef and 6,300 gallons of Portuguese wine.

On 18 November, she set sail for England where her crew captured and scuttled 12 English merchant vessels and took aboard their rum.

By this time, Constitution had run out of shot. Nevertheless, she made her way unarmed up the Firth of Clyde for a night raid. Here, her landing party captured a whiskey distillery, transferred 40,000 gallons aboard and headed for home.

On 20 February 1780, the Constitution arrived in Boston with no cannon shot, no food, no powder, no rum and no whiskey. She did, however, still carry her crew of 475 officers and men and 48,600 gallons of water.

The math is quite enlightening:
-- Length of cruise: 181 days
-- Booze consumption: 2.26 gallons per man per day (this does NOT include the unknown quantify of rum captured from the 12 English merchant vessels in November).

Naval historians guestimate the re-enlistment rate from this cruise to be 100%.

It's always been my contention that the quality of Navy chow started to increase when the availability of onboard methanol started to decrease. Unfortunately, the Army didn't pick up on that idea...

by CW4BillT on Aug 09, 2005

August 04, 2005

Happy Birthday!

On this day in 1790, the United States Revenue Cutter Service was born.

Today - we know them as the Coast Guard, the 5th Armed Service of the United States.

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"COAST GUARD MATCH BOX FLEET: THE DOUGHTY FLEET OF COAST GUARD 83-FOOTERS PLY THE ROUGH WATERS OF THE ENGLISH CHANNEL OFF THE COAST OF FRANCE. THIS COAST GUARD RESCUE FLOTILLA PERFORMED VALIANT SERVICE, SAVING ALMOST 1500 MEN FROM THE WATERS ON D-DAY AND SUCCEEDING DAYS."

They were there at Normandy, and other hard fights. The manned a lot of the landing craft. They hunted subs and escorted convoys. They earned Medals of Honor. And did their regular job, too.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: Semper Paratus!

by John on Aug 04, 2005

August 02, 2005

Whoa! Busy day in history today...

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216 -BC- Hannibal crushes a Roman Army at Cannae. Which, in the end, might as well be considered a Pearl Harbor... an event which led Admiral Yamamoto (the planner of the raid) to observe, ""I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve. ..." It moved the Romans to fully explore and execute Marcus Cato's dicta "Carthago Delenda Est" (Carthage must be destroyed). Anyone know any Carthaginians? Visited Carthage lately? Heh. And it echoes here in the Castle... Wahabism Delenda Est! Or, for the purists... Wahabismus Delenda Est!
[Erm, I've been reminded that it was really Hamilcar Barca, Hannibal's father, who roused the beast in the Punic Wars... still, a lesson in perseverance for us now...] [Another update: this time for the Googlebot: Yamamoto quote debunked - see comments to this post]

1776 Formal signing of Declaration of Independence. Royal Navy lands 32,000 British & Hessians on Staten Island, off New York. Hmm, that whole Declaration thing musta set 'em off...

1867 Wagon Box Fight: c. 30 army woodcutters defeat c. 1000 Sioux. And unknowingly provide the inspiration for decades of early Western movies, and for this cultural referent...

1887 Rowell Hodge receives a patent for barbed wire. The culture clash along the Chisum Trail and other locations intensifies.

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1914 German troops invade Luxembourg. Russian troops invade Eastern Prussia. The Guns of August open up and the curtain goes up on the Final Act of the Napoleonic Wars. Have to draw a line somwhere... but it was the whole 'Balance of Power" idea established by the Brits to contain Napoleon that led to the interwoven treaties whose clauses cascaded to start the bloodbath. In truth, you can make the argument to lay even our current troubles at the feet of Napoleon.

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1934 German Armed Forces swear a "Holy Oath" to the unholy Adolf Hitler. Thus setting the stage for the Angst of the German Officer Corps in their dealings with Hitler. Happy to embrace him in the beginning, starting to regret the deal in 1943, paralyzed to deal with it even as the Armies of the West and East were grinding german bones to dust.

1939 Einstein writes FDR about the atomic bomb. The seed that would become the Manhattan Project is planted.

1964 Gulf of Tonkin: North Vietnamese PT boats attack USS Maddox, resulting in HJ Resolution 1145. And we still haven't settled out the whole War Powers thing.

1990 Iraq invades & occupies Kuwait - onset of Destert Shield/Desert Storm. Hopefully all y'all are *up* on that...

In other news... mebbe I should put up a tip jar... H/t, multiple people seeking to help me expand the motor pool!

Let's close with this. I've not covered Jane Fonda's return to her roots, preferring to let others deal with it - and I don't have anything useful to add.

These troops do, however. They're holding her seat for her.

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H/t, multiple sources!

by John on Aug 02, 2005
» Peenie Wallie links with: Jihad Jane - The Age of Treason
» Michelle Malkin links with: RESERVED FOR JANE FONDA
» Michelle Malkin links with: RESERVED FOR JANE FONDA
» bennellibrothers.com links with: Do Desert BDUs come in a size 5?
» Say Anything links with: Jane’s Regular Seat
» Dangerous Logic links with: Because "Take Cover In The Temporary Stock Pen" Didn't Have The Same Ring To It
» Scotts Conservative News & Commentary links with: Soldier's Keep Reservation For Hanoi/Jihad Jane
» morningsun.blog-city.com links with: See Jane Run
» Flopping Aces links with: Reserved For The Traitor
» CDR Salamander links with: Linked with no further comment from Argghhh!!!

August 01, 2005

Monday, Monday...

King Fahd of Saudi Arabia is dead. Aside from Franco-style Saturday Night Live jokes, I wonder if that means anything in the fight? Like, will the jihadis come forth in Saudi Arabia and make themselves available for lead poisoning? Whuff. Of course, if they come out into the open and *win*... we may find out, over time, what *is* on the target lists.

Finally. *Someone* is fighting the war on new fronts.

Some of you have been interested in anti-sniper tech - Strategy Page has an update on the Canadian-built (and used) Ferret system.

Some interesting footnotes in history today...

Here is one for the Castle's loyal Swiss reader, Origen: 1291 Everlasting League formed, basis of the Swiss Confederation. Yet *another* example of why the people should be disarmed, so as not to disturb the powerful in their sleep. William Tell.

1619 First black slaves landed at Jamestown, Virginia. Damned Dutch and Spanish, anyway.

1794 Whiskey Rebellion begins. Several Castle Readers and Blog Buds could probably empathize... at least for using Whiskey as an excuse to rebel...

1834 Slavery abolished in the British Empire. In cosmic terms, it really didn't take us much longer... but it sure was a lot harder.

1914 German Emperor Wilhelm II declares war on his nephew Tsar Nicholas II. The really unrecoverable die is cast. Soon, the Guns of August will be roaring.

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1936 Adolph Hitler opens the 11th Olympic Games in Berlin. Go Jesse!

1940 Soviets occupy Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. The Iron Curtain falls across the Baltic Republics (the brief interlude of German occupation isn't really a bright spot...)

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1943 Blackett Str: "Tokyo Express" to Kolombangara tangles with 15 PT-boats. JFK's PT-109 rammed & sunk by HIJMS Amagiri. Can you imagine, in today's political climate, what the political fringes would do with the PT109 story?



1944 LTG George S. Patton's Third Army begins 281 days of operations.

Before we move on from WWII - let's let Don Surber give us a little peek at some WWII revisionist history... This will just tear at your heart, I'm sure.

'After he was arrested, I never saw him again' "

Who's speaking there? Someone with relatives who ended up in Auschwitz? Nope. A Nanking Chinese? Nope. Tojo's grand-daughter. Yep.


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1958 USS Nautilus attains "90 North". That would be the North Pole for anyone confused by that.

1966 Britain disbands the Colonial Office - the Empire is over. Well, until it reforms again in the prequel, Attack of the Clones... oh, wait - sorry - clash of culutural referents! The Colonial Office didn't last all that long, in terms of British History... but I *do* like this characterization of the founding:

The position was first created in 1768 to deal with the increasingly troublesome North American colonies.

That's us!

1966 UT Austin Massacre: Charles Whitman kills 13 people, wounds 31. Okay, the clock is ticking for the associated cultural referent. Who will be the first...

And here in Kansas City, a$$holes do vex us.

by John on Aug 01, 2005
» Don Surber links with: Al-Jazeera's New Hero: Tojo
» MatthewMaynard.net links with: Ferrets & Snipers

July 28, 2005

Entertainment and Education post...

I do like complex mechanical thingys.

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Pacific Ocean (July 25, 2005) – The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) performs a high speed run during operations in the Pacific Ocean. Reagan and embarked Carrier Air Wing Fourteen (CVW-14) are currently underway conducting Tailored Ships Training Availability (TSTA). U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class James Thierry

Man, she's moving, ain't she? Now that takes some power!

Hi-res, click here.

Wonder what it's like to land on a carrier? At night? Of course you do! (dial-up visitors, 1.8 meg video file)

H/t, Boudicca, the once-upon-a-time 'non-commenting commenter' as Castle Argghhh!


Interesting day in history:

1914 Austria-Hungary attacks Serbia, igniting WW I. The dumbest war of the last century starts - which leads to one heckuva lot of the wars that follow... the mis-handling of the peace pretty much guarantees WWII.

1931 Congress makes "The Star-Spangled Banner" the national anthem

1932 MacArthur evicts the bonus marchers from their encampment in Washington. One of many times the government has promised soldiers something, then reneged. Not Mac's (or his aide, Eisenhower's) finest moment.

1943 FDR announces an end of coffee rationing in US. Thank heaven!

1945 Kamikazes sink their last ship, DD Callaghan, off Okinawa.

1945 US Army B-25 crashes into 79th floor of Empire State Bldg, 14 die.

Let's close with more video... there's a reason the manual specifies a 'rate of descent at touchdown' limit. I don't know if the pilot in this video should be rebating his flight pay because he broke the airplane, or should get a bonus because he managed to keep the damage down! Regardless of whether the pilot knew it was going to be or not...

...this was a good landing, not a great one. (dial-up visitors, 4.5 meg video file. Compressed file available here, though I don't know how much that helps!

Anudder H/t to Boudicca!

by John on Jul 28, 2005
» NIF links with: Teenage Mutant Ninja Knight

July 21, 2005

July 21, 1969

Yes, I believe this happened.

What am I talking about?

This. Click Here. (Sound file, Work Safe®)

And geeze, people, give Neil a break. He was under some pressure there. Remember, his transportation and clothing were all low-bidder items! So he flubbed a line!

No I don't think it was done on a sound stage in Nevada somewhere. Though I do like these guys' version!

Need visuals? Try these Work Safe® ones:

Low bandwidth

High bandwidth.

by John on Jul 21, 2005
» The Gantry Launchpad links with: It's a coverup, and we have PROOF!

July 20, 2005

I have been chastised.

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A wee Irish-descended hater-of-Sassenachs and Defender of the Faith® bent over and mintily whispered in my ear today... "Today is the Anniversary of the Plot to Kill Hitler! Why don't I see it on Argghhh!?" Okay, he's not-so-wee, but, still, the rest applies.

My response? "I've mentioned it before." Of course, inspecting the archives, I"ve also deleted it for housekeeping purposes. Sigh.

Okay. Today is the 61st Anniversary of the Bomb That Failed. Stauffenberg's major tactical failure? He wanted to survive. He didn't. He didn't survive the day. He should have taken a page from the Mujahideen playbook. He'd have been a real hero then.

Oh, wait. It wasn't written yet. Never mind.

Heck, given what happened to several of the conspirators, he's lucky he just got shot.

by John on Jul 20, 2005
» CDR Salamander links with: Give a nod to the "Good Germans"

July 13, 2005

Okay, since *someone's* panties are in a twist...

...and CAPT H provided some kewl new material anyway... here is some *Army* stuff for Mike, the sniveling whiner...

First up - Canadian Gunner Zen.

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Secondly, here are some interesting tidbits of Canadiana, provided by CAPT H, and relevant to the discussion of Canadian Military Transformation covered in this post (read the comments, they're illuminating).

The good Captain refuses to provide 1-11 and the others as he has not verified them. He submits these:

12. Canada has the largest French population that never surrendered to Germany.
14. Our civil war was fought in a bar and it lasted a little over an hour.
15. The only person who was arrested in our civil war was an American mercenary, who slept in and missed the whole thing... but showed up just in time to get caught.
18. The average dog sled team can kill and devour a full grown human in under 3 minutes.
24. The handles on our beer cases are big enough to fit your hands with mitts on.


But ... ← (that's a link, Mike)

Yes... but!

If you'd like to see more of the Canadian LG #1 MkII featured above,

Click here, and here, and here, and here, and here.

All photos Canadian Ministry of Defense, I assume.

by John on Jul 13, 2005

June 28, 2005

Morning reads.

First up - go right to Lt Prakash at ArmorGeddon and spend just under 8 minutes of your day watching SPC Roby blow up an IED. While you are there, show me the tired, dispirited, low morale soldiers I read about over at Kos, wouldja? Way to go, SPC Roby! But, dude - you were shooting short! If you are in an office with delicate ears, turn down your sound. No gore - but lots of typical soldier talk. And ya know what that means... H/T the Admiral of the Moat Fleet!

And speaking of patrolling in Iraq - Michael Yon has a new bit up - The Feathers.

The guys at David's Medienkritik put their protest signs where their mouth is - good on ya, Ray!

How can we lose the war? In my post on the subject yesteday, I averred it's lost when we lose it in our hearts, not before. Part and parcel of that - keep paying attention. H/t, Strategy Page.

Interestingly enough - today is the anniversary of the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the Countess Sophia, in Sarajevo, the fuze that lit WWI.

It's also the day the Treaty of Versailles was signed, five years later, which lit the fuze for WWII.

Captain E. N. Bennett, speech at a Union of Democratic Control (11th November, 1920)

The fundamental falsehood on which the Versailles Treaty is built is the theory that Germany was solely and entirely responsible for the war. No fair-minded student of the war and its causes can accept this contention; but the propaganda story of Germany's sole guilt has been preached so persistently from pulpit, Press and Parliament that the bulk of our people have come to regard it as an axiomatic truth which justifies the provisions of the most brutal and unjust Treaty in the world's history.

John Maynard Keynes, The Economic Consequences of Peace (1920)

The Treaty includes no provision for the economic rehabilitation of Europe - nothing to make the defeated Central Powers into good neighbours, nothing to stabilise the new States of Europe, nothing to reclaim Russia; nor does it promote in any way a compact of economic solidarity amongst the Allies themselves; no arrangement was reached at Paris for restoring the disordered finances of France and Italy, or to adjust the systems of the Old World and the New.

It is an extraordinary fact that the fundamental economic problem of a Europe starving and disintegrating before their eyes, was the one question in which it was impossible to arouse the interest of the Four. Reparation was their main excursion into the economic field, and they settled it from every point of view except that of the economic future of the States whose destiny they were handling.

Read the rest here. Note that after WWII, the Marshall Plan did exactly what Keynes was talking about - provided for an economic rehabilitation of western Europe. Something the Soviets did *not* do for their side of the wire, with consequences still felt in Germany and Eastern Europe (and dare I say Russia?) today.

Just as we need to honor our obligation to the Iraqis, and not cut and run as we did from the Versailles Treaty (while offering nothing in it's place) after WWI.

It has, after all, only been a year since they stood up a post-Saddam government. Remember how long (from school, dudes, I know we aren't old enough, sheesh!) it took us to get a Constitution written? That whole Federalist/Anti-Federalist thing? 6-7 years? And that was having something else, the Articles of Confederation, to work from...

Just sayin'

Ravenwood makes an interesting observation. Of course, I tend to judge historical figures by their milieu, not current sensibilities. Yes, Lincoln was racist by todays lights. He was, IIRC, for sending freed slaves back to Africa, because he didn't feel they would fit into US society, among other things not unusual to his era. But to slam him for not being a sensitive 90's kind of guy (not what Ravenwood was implying, I'm running with my own idea here) is to completely ignore the fact that he rose above the tenor of his times to do something no one else in power had been willing to do. For that, I extend him great credit, understanding fully it was the press of war that made the Emancipation Proclamation both needful and possible... HE STILL DID IT - he didn't have to, but it *did* serve to take the British out of the equation, and while Ravenwood notes:

Of course he's exactly right. The Emancipation Proclamation only called for the freedom of slaves in Southern states. And given that the South had seceeded from the Union, the order didn't actually free anyone. In fact, by the time Lincoln got around to proclaiming emancipation, the U.S. Congress had already banned slavery in Southern states.

Lincoln still sent a lot of northern white boys and free/d black men down South to make good on the promise. A lot of whom didn't make it back.

Still yet from Ravenwood - gun sniffing dogs. Whoo boy! They'd be all over my cars like stink on poo, too!

Countertop takes the Kelo decision to a "Reductio in Absurdum" level. But it makes ya think, given the way our political system seems to be ruled by the Law of Unintended Consequences...

John Cole, at Balloon Juice, notes sadness at the 100 Acre Wood, and we're not just talking Eeyore.

Zach Wendling at In the Agora has an interesting take on self-defense measures you can take vice Kelo... I would note the Castle has a wetland in front, providing habitat for frogs, birds, fish, toads, squirrels, chipmunks and at least 1 oppossum...

I was going to take a look at the Drill Sergeant abuse story running around now - but I see it's adequately covered over at Outside the Beltway, so I'll send you there, with a "Dittoes, dudes." Abuse doesn't build good soldiers; hard, realistic training does, combined with a tough, caring leadership. Which is always the harder way to lead vice being a terroristic bastard. The reaction of some people brings to mind this thought of Neptunus Lex's that I put up in the post below:

When the sacrifices of the many who fight for us are diminished by an unremitting focus on the failures of the few, sapping the morale of all -

You'd think the Press might 'get' this, seeing as how they whine that Eason Jordan, Blair Whatsisname, Rathergate, etc, do not fairly reflect them and how they truly approach their jobs... yet, we hear this carp from Chris Bowers...

As if the U.S. military didn't have enough scandals going between Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and the ghost detainees, now we learn it is abusing its own recruits:

Ed Morrissey notes, over at Captain's Quarters:

This story has been known for four months. Within days of the incident, other soldiers reported the abuse, and those involved were relieved of duty. The Army has successfully court-martialed four of the people involved, including the company commander, Captain William Fulton, who got six months of confinement. The recruits were transferred to a different command to complete their training. If the reader gets all the way through the article, he finds out that there were 120 allegations of abuse in all of 2004, resulting in 16 DIs got relieved as a result -- and the rate for 2005 is half of that for last year.

Captain Fulton is a guest at our local facility here in Leavenworth, I believe.

Charmaine Yoest over at Reasoned Audacity is quietly pleased with the Discovery Channel's Greatest American #1 pick was President Reagan. She does admit a sentimental attachment... The list isn't as bad as it could have been (I wonder what it would have been like had it been NPR, not Discovery Channel?) but it does reflect that people know best what they lived through, and that history isn't our strong suit...

Anyway...

Last, but not least this morning... sometimes routine maintenance is just that.

Routine.

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by John on Jun 28, 2005

June 25, 2005

Normandy AAR

Sorry for the delay, guys. Hope none of you were holding your breath…

The Museum

The D-Day Museum is located outside Caen, right across the street from the University. It’s built on a German command bunker and the architect retained the multilevel subterranean rooms and passageways of the original.

Walk through the main entryway and you’re greeted by the A-10’s granddaddy (a bit of warbird pr0n for Dusty). And, for the modelers, a three-quarter shot.

My initial impression was that the place was ‘way too noisy for a museum, then I saw the cause. About 500 French schoolkids being shepherded by their teachers.

From the main floor, you travel a downward-spiraling ramp, passing exhibits from the First World War, the Armistice, the Roaring Twenties (which really rocked in France, evidently), the Depression, the rise of National Socialism and of Hitler, the Sitzkrieg, the Blitzkrieg.

The lighting becomes dimmer the deeper you descend. By the time you reach the invasion and occupation of France, the only light is provided by the exhibits. Uniforms. Books and posters. Letters. Photographs. Flags and banners and military impedimenta.

And now the ramp bottoms out and the level floor begins. More exhibits. The passageway winds dimly past the Resistance, British commando raids, OSS operations, airdrops of weapons and explosives and the preparation for D-Day. I am suddenly aware that the only voices I’ve heard are those of the tour guides, speaking English, French and German. I turn a corner and emerge into light. The D-Day exhibit – photographs, equipment, uniforms, ship models, a diorama of the invasion beaches, letters from participants (not all of whom survived the day).

The tour guides leave us to wander. The voices return, hushed and somber. I converse with a British couple about the break in the weather which enabled the landings and notice a couple of the schoolkids watching us.

After a time, I climb a short flight of stairs, enter the main lobby and realize the thing hanging around my neck is my camera. I’d been so absorbed, I hadn’t taken a single pic. One of the French kids walks up to me and says, “M’sieur? Merçi…” and walks off to rejoin his classmates.

Geez -- do I look that old?

The museum’s website at is worth a peek, for the online bookstore, if nothing else.

Longues-sur-Mer

Battery Longues consists of four 150mm guns housed in Regelbau M272 bunkers, a command bunker, a radar mount and troop quarters. Longues is the only battery which survived the pre-invasion bombardment intact.

Well, almost intact.

Ajax got in a lucky shot that evidently went right into the bunker opening and detonated the magazine, shattering the gun and blowing it off its mount.

Took me a while to recognize the gun barrel, located ten feet from the bunker and rammed into the dirt…

Longues was manned by Polish conscripts. When #4 blew, they decided they no longer had a dog in the fight and went to ground and waited for the Brits to arrive. They did have a few close calls before they had the opportunity to surrender, though.

Ooops -- almost forgot John’s gun pr0n.

Mulberry B

If you're unfamiliar with the history of the artificial harbors, drop in here for some background and an overview.

After the war, Mulberry A, the “American” artificial harbor at Omaha destroyed in the storm which followed close on the heels of the invasion, pretty much disappeared. The sunken blockships were salvaged for scrap by a metal-starved continent and the surviving Phoenix caissons now rest off the Dutch coast; Charles deGaulle decided that helping live people in trouble took precedence over letting a potential monument disintegrate in place. I can’t fault his logic in using them to save lives ten years after they’d been abandoned in place.

Mulberry B, the “British” Mulberry, was better protected by terrain and survived the storm relatively intact. The caissons still extend from Arromanches in the west eastward to the juncture of Juno and Gold. Their only visitors these days are local scallop fishermen.

The American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer

You’ve all seen the annual Memorial Day and D-Day anniversary shots that the MSM feels obligated to publish – crowds of tourists, dignitaries, vets and families slowly walking amidst the graves, searching, finding, remembering…

This is what it looks like the other 363 days of the year – smaller numbers of tourists, vets and families slowly walking amidst the graves, searching, finding, remembering…

Oh -- I almost forgot the French schoolkids and their teachers, walking quietly around the site. Several were reading the names on the five large MIA panels on the Wall behind the Atrium. The Atrium’s central statue represents the Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Sea to save Europe. It’s a bit too sinuous for my taste and I’d already gone back into military mode somewhere along the way. I kept seeing fields of fire and likely ambush sites…

Omaha

There were only three exits off the beach through the dune wall fronting Omaha, which is one reason casualties there were so horrendous. This is what German gunners saw looking down the easternmost exit. The scrub wasn’t there sixty-one years ago, just the beach grasses. Now, even though a blade of grass can feel like it’s a foot wide (just trust me on this one, okay?) when you’re seeking some concealment from the unwanted attention of a machinegunner, it won’t stop a bullet worth squat…

There’s a new road between the beach proper and the dune, protected by a seawall. And a half-an-hour’s worth of lowering tide altered Omaha’s expanse; this is what the second and third waves faced – over a hundred yards of terrain perfectly suited for grazing fire from a dug-in enemy.

One of the few surviving bunkers on the dune’s forward slope is here, overgrown, but still discernible as the rectilinear area to the left of the white house. And, just beyond a break in the guardian wall, almost invisible from the road, is the site where D-Day’s dead were originally buried.

It was a warm day, and the sand at the base of the seawall had been in the bright sunlight all day, yet when I knelt to touch it, it was cold…

Pointe du Hoc

You’re all familiar with the ordeal of the Rangers who scaled the cliffs here, so I’ll restrain the scope of this portion. Between 1941 and 1943, the architects of the Atlantic Wall designed gun emplacements which were open concrete platforms. They soon discovered that this configuration, when viewed from above, spelled “BOMB ME” to Allied air mission planners (moonscape courtesy of the 8th Air Force). So, beginning in early 1943, the architects decreed that the guns should be placed in protective bunkers, such as the ones at Battery Longues. For several reasons, including the occasional air delivery of high explosives to the site, the replacement guns were never installed in the bunkers at Pointe du Hoc.

Instead of their stated targets, the Rangers who survived the climb found these -- infantry fighting positions manned by aroused defenders.

The rest, so the saying goes, is history, but here’s a bit that hasn't made it into the books yet. To honor the Rangers’ gallantry, this monument was commissioned and erected on the promontory by – ahem – the French...

The Dagger's guard is concrete, the blade is limestone. The cliff face has been falling recently, which is the reason for the barrier.

Somehow, that whole “The French don’t like us” deal I keep hearing about rings kind of hollow, both in light of what I saw and my chat with Were-Kitty's Norman alter-ego...

More on all that later, though. Ummmmm -- maybe not *all* of it, though.

Heh.

by CW4BillT on Jun 25, 2005
» bryanstrawser.com links with: Normandy
» The Politburo Diktat links with: Normandy Photos
» Grubbykid.com :: Links links with: Excellent photo series of the D-Day museum and beaches in Caen, France

June 20, 2005

Space holder

I'm on the road today. So, while I suffer the slings and arrows of modern air travel... why don't you guys look at some Castles?

by John on Jun 20, 2005

June 19, 2005

Happy Father's Day

Go, hang out with your Dads, or your kids. If you no longer have a Dad, or kids - go... bowling! Yeah, that's it, bowling!

This is the first time in a long time there has been no kid at home, he having fled the nest to live in Manhattan, learn about apartment living, and asking people "You want fries with that?" And don't make assumptions about Manhattan, visitors - you will most likely be wrong...

Speaking of college students - if you are a GI Bill eligible kind of person as a result of the current unpleasantness - I recommend you go check out what Cranky has to say at The Balance Sheet on the subject of the Horatio Alger Scholarships.

I'll also be dropping SWWBO off at the airport for her trip to Tampa. I'll be chatting with my father tonight. I'm going to Dayton, Ohio tomorrow to get some corporate re-bluing on how to lead. Apparently 24 years in the Army is something to be undone... heheheheheheheh. But, since it's been 30+ years since I last visited the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, I'm betting they've changed the exhibits - so that's what I'll be doing tomorrow afternoon.

Speaking of airplanes... here's another picture of the TU-4 in Chinese Service - as a recon drone carrier.

Today is also Juneteenth. As has been noted in this space previously, the Armorer believes the outcome of the Civil War was a net good, regardless of what you think are it's true origins. Juneteenth is why. This is why.

Wars are never pretty things, and civil wars can generally be the most horrific (which, as far as such things go, ours was not). And there are *always* unintended and unanticipated consequences, as current events make clear. So too is true of the Civil War. But Juneteenth, for me, tips the balance.

Other bits of interest...

Napoleon III's attempt to expand his Empire in the new world suffers a setback as Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, AKA Emperor Maximilian, was executed by his unappreciative subjects, the Mexicans, preferring home-grown Benito Juarez to the well-intentioned Archduke. The Emperor, sometimes referred to as the "Archdupe," displayed class at the end, refusing to abandon his supporters, which resulted in his execution this day in 1867. Napoleon III wasn't a total hack - he did design this, a most excellent gun, the 12-pounder Napoleon.

The Rosenbergs got to meet their maker this day in 1953. While you can debate the merits of their case, I can't help but note that in today's climate, they would probably get elected to Congress from some place like Berkeley.

In 1943, the Navy was in the midst of a whopping great spanking of the Japanese Navy - the First Battle of the Phillipine Sea.

It's a bad day for American boxers. In 1936 Max Schmeling knocked out Joe Louis (The Brown Bomber creamed him in the rematch). In 1967, Muhammad Ali was convicted of draft evasion. All three men went on to various forms of success in later life (Ali, of course, still being at it...)

In 1948, the Berlin Blockade begins. Bad decision, Joe.

On an different note - there was discussion a while back on flying Focke-Wulf 190's and such - and someone brought up the fact that the first useful German jet fighter, the ME-262 is flying again. And so, after a fashion - it is.

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This pic should make aircraft lovers *and* the military vehicle lovers happy... especially SGT B and Monteith! Hi-res click here.

Happy Father's Day all and sundry. Don't waste too much time at places like this. Tempus Fugit, after all!

by John on Jun 19, 2005
» Mudville Gazette links with: Dawn Patrol

June 18, 2005

Saturday Olio

First up - SWWBO's The Carnival of the Recipes is up, hosted by Michele of Meanderings!

MCart buried this in the comments of the party thread - but it's too good for this former Dungeon Master to not put on the front page. This *is* the Castle, after all!

Gotta admit - the flight sim geek in me is drawn to this car...

Castle Adjutant Barb is turning into quite the journo!

Kat, the Kastle Philosopher is reading other people's mail again...

Punctilious has a Raven 42 roundup.

Cassie is *on a roll* as ever. She really should start shopping that stuff to magazines.

Over at Alan's - Beware the Luxembourger!

Snarkatron approaches the same topic Cassie does... from a different angle.

AFSis jumps in on the subject of Boobs. For that matter, so does ALa. There. That should send some traffic their way. Yes, guys, breasts. No tricks. heh. That cleared the room fast. So, ladies, now that the gents are gone, let's continue, eh?

Castle Contrarian Jack has been taking advantage of his work in France to do some traveling. This time - Prague.

SGT B is having a garage sale. Apparently at the Firebase, the nuts don't fall far from the tree...

Ry sent along this *very* interesting article for you guys and gals who have to carry rifles - and especially ones who wonder just how the heck we're gonna get rid of all the cables we're fiddling with now regarding digitizing weapons. This is one approach.

Some historical notes from the day:

1945 Lt Gen Simon B Buckner, Commander, Tenth Army, KIA, Okinawa. There have been only *two* Lieutenant Generals of US Forces killed in combat. Can anyone name the other one? If no one gets it - I'll provide the answer later. And how many among you knew that over half the combat troops at Okinawa were Army, and that an Army General commanded the ground forces?

1538 Treaty of Nice: "Peace" between Holy Roman Emperor Charles V & Francis I of France. Not this one... Forget proper French pronunciation - The Treaty of Nice for ending a war tickles me like the Diet of Worms does for a governing body.
1812 War of 1812: US declares war against Britain. Nyah nyah! You lost! We bored you to death.
1815 Battle of Waterloo: Napoleon defeated by Wellington & Blucher. The Castle collection includes shell fragments recovered from the area of La Haye Sainte.
1940 Winston Churchill says "this was their finest hour" Wotta man, was Winnie!


by John on Jun 18, 2005
» Random Fate links with: Tell them

June 17, 2005

Stuff of interest...

1745 American colonials capture Louisbourg, Cape Breton Island, from the French. Why is this significant? 1. It's the first time we Southrons (from a Canadian perspective) successfully invaded what is now Canada, and, (grump) the only times we've ever been truly successful is under Brit leadership engaging in French-bashing. 2. It set the stage for 1755, which marks the start of Cajun Cooking in what would become the US. The Brits expelled the Acadians (french colonists) from Port Royal... resettling them, among other places, in what is now Louisiana... "Cajun" is derived from Acadian (say it fast and drunk... ducking thrown crawdad heads).
1775 Battle of Bunker Hill. Okay, really Breed's Hill, apparently map-reading was problematic... Brit Regulars showed why they are so formidable... and found out that the Colonials could be tough, too. As General Howe observed, "A dear-bought victory, another such would have ruined us." Along with Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill would give the fledgling US Army a mythos to build on - much as Ric Locke refers to regarding the Fight of Raven 42.
1861 Battle of Boonville, MI - Colonel Phil Sheridan earns his Brigadier's star.
1870 USS Mohican takes and destroys the Mexican pirate ship Forward. Mexican piracy at this time is news to me!
1876 Where the Girl Saved Her Brother - the Battle of the Rosebud: Crazy Horse fights Gen Grook's column to a draw. The stage is set for Custer's last ride.

Ry sends along a link to this: Global Guerillas.

However, as tough as the the 4GW warrior is, it fails to account for the extreme resilience and innovation we see today in global terrorism and guerrilla warfare. We are also fighting on many more levels that merely the moral one. This implies that something has been left out of this analysis. My conclusion is that it fails to appreciate how globalization has layered new skill sets on ancient mindsets. Warriors, in our current context, are not merely lazy and monosyllabic primitives as Peters implies. They are wired, educated, and globally mobile. They build complex supply chains, benefit from global money flows, and they invest shrewdly. In a nutshell, they are modern.

Interesting premise, and site. I'll be forwarding it to buddies who like myself have to do scenario development - might be useful stuff here to help define the Current Operating Environment in wargaming. Read the whole post here.

To close, how about some Cannon Pr0n?

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The Armory doesn't have that particular mortar, we do have an inert round of that type...

Update: Damn her! Damn the Half-Vast Editorial Staff to the uttermost depths of a meaningless existence... something along the lines of Forum Moderator at DU!~

First - Cheeky Wench found the commercial I did when I played football! Hey! It was college, that was illegal! I wore a fake beard and wig so no one would recognize me... but, but, I needed the beer money for The Old Heidelberg after ROTC drill on Thursdays, man, it was an emergency!

Secondly - not enough that Cassie comes up with time wasters... no, that's not enough - now she has to have a weekly recurring one! Feh! Denizens are forbidden to participate. I may have to revoke her denizen status!

And, since CAPT H feels violated... Commonwealth Cannon Pr0n. A 5.5 inch gun at Larkhill, the Brit artillery school.

by John on Jun 17, 2005
» Mostly Cajun, All American and Opinionated links with: Where we started…
» Quotulatiousness links with: Argghhh's History Post for Today
» MatthewMaynard.net links with: Fun Army Media

June 07, 2005

A little bit of this, that, and a return to blogroots.

Since the sailors didn't seem interested... here's a link to an article about the Battle of Midway... Pictures from the Battle of Midway

Oops. Spanked.

John- Guess you still haven't found my Midway post from June 3 or CDR Salamander's from June 2 here. We Navy guys don't miss much, and Midway was one of the greatest sea victories of all time, although even the Air Corps got involved by attempting to bomb the Japanese fleet with B-17's...

Eagle1

Did someone say B-17s bombing?

And, Leagle, go *that* far back? Into the Archives? Geez, dude, blogs! We're blogs! If it ain't on the front page, it doesn't exist, except via Google! Or some such weak excuse, anyway.

Staff Officers, Commanders, Project Managers, CEOs, CIOs, IT Admin types, helk, just about anyone anywhere everywhere who haven't already seen this elsewhere and who has ever been in an organization of more than 20 people (and some with less) will appreciate this requirements brief. Some caveats - it's a powerpoint show, and if you believe that any Microsoft Product via the Internet is the Embodiment of Evil - don't download it. If you have sensitive ears, don't bother, as it's only funny with the sound on - but it is *chock full* of NOT WORK SAFE language. Earphones recommended, or low sound. Unless, like me, everyone in your local cube farm sends you stuff like this all the time anyway... including your corporate and government bosses....

With those warnings out of the way - Requirements Brief.

Just cuz' I'm feeling mean - I've got one and you don't! Now to sit back and see who in the readership trumps me and how long it takes... toys you use at work count, if you can use 'em for your own stuff...

Come to think of it - I bet you don't have this, either. A tabletop full of WWI grenades.

What the heck, let's roll with this. How about some old IEDs?


Left, Polish grenade from the Warsaw Uprising. Right, german concrete 'stock' mine. The cylinder in the middle is an original wax paper wrapper and label for the TNT charge that was inserted into the stock mine.

Here's another pic showing the bottom of the stock mine. The hole is where the TNT went, and usually (but not always) a wooden stake. Stock mines were commonly used as booby traps. They were made of concrete, many times with ball bearings embedded to improve fragmentation effects. They could accept a variety of fuzes, this one having a booby-trap pull fuze.

The Polish Home Army hand grenade was made with a pre-war Polish fuze, and whatever materials and explosive filler was at hand. This is a heavy sucker - definately for defensive use (i.e., thrown from cover).

All inert, of course! No placards at the Castle. We keep all that stuff over at the Firebase (but don't tell SGT B).


Snerk! I mean, like, y'know, everybody at DU *knows* that the BushChimp is an idiot, right? His grades at Yale prove it, right? Hee hee hee. Under the Yale system, Bush had a 77 (through his junior year, after which the scale changed). His oh-so-bright opponent? 76. Perhaps that's why Kerry didn't want his records released, as his transcript is a part of his records. I personally don't get that wrapped around grades. Of course not - mine, for my undergrad work, aren't a heckuvalot better. But I *test* well!

Another article on his records is here. For the moment, I guess we're going to have to trust the Globe that there are no new revelations (I was interested in the paperwork regarding his discharge) and take that at face value. If we've got any readers who were Naval officers of the period, I'd be interested in an opinion on the wording of the recommendations that the Globe quotes. In the Army, as I'm sure is true of all the Services, we have code phrases that allow us to 'damn with faint praise" but still sound nice. "One of the most outstanding junior officers I have served with" could mean, "he's fine, promote him with the others," while "One of the most outstanding officers I have served with," means "Promote Yesterday," with 'junior' being the code word to mean, "good kid, needs seasoning." I'd be interested in the take on that aspect of Kerry's reports.

Given what is thus far reportedly in the records, I'd say Kerry should have rolled with the punch about his grades and released 'em during the campaign. But mebbe I'm missing something, with my tin political ear. It wouldn't have helped him with me - he still fails the 'leaving combat early' test.

Michelle Malkin has more.

For a Lieutenant of the '80s, this is an interesting read. Any Russians at Graf during my time over there would have meant the 79th ITB had turned me and my guys into hamburger...

Changing subjects again, I've had chats with Wilcox (and, indeed, have published his brief on this site with his permission -right click, open in new window). Those of you who are 4th Gen Warfare fans will enjoy this article. The fight continues.

by John on Jun 07, 2005
» Cadillac Tight links with: Russians at Graf!

June 06, 2005

Quite a day today!

June 6th...

1775 NY patriots prevent the Royal Governor from removing weapons from the city - I wonder how many would stand up to the Governor today?

1813 US invasion of Canada halted at Stoney Creek (Ont). Heh. Someday we'll get it right... ;^)

1898 Marines land at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba - Prisoners abused - Korans mistreated!

1918 Marines secure Belleau Wood.

Midway! The Tide Turns in the Naval War in the Pacific.

1942 Japanese troops land on Kiska in the Aleutians. Along with Attu, the only bits of continental US dirt successfully captured during WWII.
1943 Japanese decide to evacuate Kiska, except for a small force that was ovewhelmed easily.
1944 D-Day: 150,000 Allied Expeditionary Force lands in Normandy, France.
-The Airborne Drops.

Pegasus Bridge, securely in British hands, is crossed by military vehicles on D-Day plus 1, June 7, 1944. The Trustees of the Imperial War Museum, London

-Brits:
Gold Beach
Special Service troops of 47 Royal Marine Commando land at Gold Beach near Le Hamel on D-Day, June 6, 1944. The Trustees of the Imperial War Museum, London

Sword Beach
Mine- and obstacle-clearing tanks of the 27th Armoured Brigade thread toward the shore at Queen sector, Sword Beach, on D-Day, June 6, 1944. The Trustees of the Imperial War Museum, London

-Canadians:
Juno Beach (en francais)

1st Hussars tanks and men of the 7th Infantry Brigade landing on a crowded beach at Courseulles-sur-Mer, June 6th,1944. Photo by Ken Bell. Department of National Defence / National Archives of Canada,

VAC site: Canada Remembers.
On board their assault landing crafts, men of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles heading towards their sector of Juno Beach, June 6th, 1944. Photo by Dennis Sullivan. Department of National Defence / National Archives of Canada,

-Americans:
Utah Beach
Soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division wade ashore at Victor sector, Utah Beach, on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Amphibious tanks are lined up at the water's edge. U.S. War Department/National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Omaha Beach
U.S. infantrymen wade from their landing craft toward Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944. U.S. Coast Guard/National Archives, Washington, D.C.

-Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., earns the Medal of Honor on Utah Beach. And, like his father before him, dies before it can be awarded. Can anyone name the other Father/Son Medal of Honor holders?


Freedom
isn't
Free.

1949 George Orwell's "1984" published

And, last, but not least, way too long ago for his taste... my brother-in-law Ed was born. Three kids! I reluctantly have to conclude he's been boffing my sister all these years, as there has been no mention of virgin births...

The picture of the Canadian Cemetery at Reviers was shamelessly stolen from these fine Canadians. I hope they can forgive me.

And this couple have some nice pics of the area as it looks today.

Oh - and no snarking regarding the French and D-Day. Not in the mood. So, quit it.

by John on Jun 06, 2005
» Spotted Horse links with: Happy 13th Wedding anniversary to ???????
» Techography links with: Greatest Generation
» Righty in a Lefty State links with: History: Old and New
» Intermittent Stream links with: "Rangers! Lead the Way!"
» Iraq War Today links with: This Day in History - June 6, 1944 - D-Day
» Mark in Mexico links with: June 6, 1944

June 03, 2005

Footnotes to the day.

First and foremost... Carnival of the Recipes #42 is up at Conservative Friends. Enjoy!

Some historical notes I overlooked yesterday...

Born:

1740 Marquis de Sade, sometime soldier, full time wierdo. 'Nuff said!

Events:

1774 Parliament passes the Quartering Act, forcing billetting British
soldiers in homes, and one more straw goes on Colonial America's back.
1866 Repulsed from Canada, Irish Fenians surrender to US forces. One of our numerous failed attempts to conquer Canada.
1914 Glenn Curtiss flies the Langley Aerodrome. One ungainly bird!
1943 All-black 99th Pursuit Squadron flies 1st combat mission, over Italy.
1943 Pope Pius XII denounces air bombardment, is totally ignored. That whole Monastery at Monte Cassino thing must have really chapped him. But I wouldn't say he was ignored completely. The bombing weapons and tactics we have today are directly derived from the concern that large-scale area bombing (we were generally as accurate as we could be, at the time)was not a good thing...


Today, of course, is the anniversary of Tiananmen Square. Check out Bad Cat Robot's recollections.

Stand by for ram on Abu Ghraib again.

If the stuff missing from these sites was not taken by us... this does represent a significant failure in planning for OIF, whether we like the UN on this issue or not...

Not surprisingly, LT Pantano wants out. No arguments from me. If he stays, the controversy will always hang over him, rightly or wrongly, and he'll be a lightning rod.

I'll defer to Dusty - but this strikes me as penny-wise and pound foolish.

New handcannon. This won't be entering the Arsenal holdings any time soon, as we don't do babies, only providing homes to Old Soldiers.

200-grain bullet at a speed of 2,330fps. Reputedly this pistol now ranks as the highest velocity revolver *in production*. And velocity is only a component of the energy equation... but I'm sure I've got some readers who can, and will, elucidate... The Smith and Wesson 460XVR, only $1,253.00. There are several things I want for the arsenal before I shell that much out for some new-fangled thingy! But I know some of you have a regrettable yen for newness...

Mind you, I'm only talking the Arsenal at Argghhh! there... for the troops... mmmm, Ray Guns! And cool cameras. Of course, now the Armorer will be taking photos of the yard periodically and using software to point out anomalies... just in case.


by John on Jun 03, 2005
» Righty in a Lefty State links with: Friday Fun

June 01, 2005

Interesting Day in history, and other tidbits.

Strategy Page has some interesting background on the Norwegian Peacekeepers "Kosovo" music video - and why a ten year old song- or old news - becomes suddenly hot. No blinding flash of insight, so much as filling in the corners on the story.

For some reason, CAPT H thinks this is important... Canada beats us *again*... (more on that later)

He also thought this worthy of mention. I've got the "Yes, dear" part down. The rest is a little more troublesome.

I do, however, completely concur with CAPT H about this article. Meet Corporal Dunham. Semper Fidelis.

Okay... things that caught my eye today from a historical perspective...

Born

1637 Fr. Jacques Marquette, French explorer of North America;
1780 Karl von Clausewitz. My man!
1801 Brigham Young, Mormon leader
1814 Philip Kearney, "The bravest man in the Union Army," kia 1862;
1825 John Hunt Morgan, Brig Gen, C.S.A., noted irregular cavalryman
1831 John Bell Hood, Gen, C.S.A., d. 1879
1844 Galusha Pennypacker, a Brig Gen, U.S., before he was 21, d. 1916

Died

1668 Mary Dyer, hanged in Boston for Quakerism - a very stubborn woman.
1823 Louis Nicholas Davout, Marshal of France, at 53
1879 Prince Imperial Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, slain by the Zulu at 22


Event

1794 "Glorious First of June," Brit fleet under Lord Howe spanks the French
1813 Chesapeake-Shannon Fight: James Lawrencea> (*not* Commodore Perry) cries "Don't give up the ship!"
1866 Irish Fenians attack Ft Erie, Ontario, from the US.
And lose. The only time we've ever been successful whacking on people in Canada was under British leadership. The Canadians don't need a large Army to protect themselves from us - we've *never* displayed any competence at invading Canada!
1914 SecNav Josephus Daniels issues G.O. 99, barring alcohol in the fleet. Well, mostly, as Neptunus Lex relates.
1915 1st Zeppelin air raid over England
1916 German attack Fort Vaux, Verdun Go here, and take a look at what modern war day after day in the same place does to an area. Then imagine *being there*!
1947 OPA, WW II rationing agency, is dissolved. Imagine that, a redundant Federal agency that actually went away... heh.

by John on Jun 01, 2005

May 17, 2005

Whatizit?

Here's an interesting little spud. Anybody know what it is?

UPDATE: New commenter (may be a long time lurker) Sean has narrowed it down to what I'm accepting as a working hypothesis for the gun itself - an Oerlikon M23 20mm - in this particular case, a Finnish gun. Now to see if we can take that info and find something about the gun in the configuration in the picture - and what *looks* to be a Brit manning it.


UPDATE 2: Bingo! He shoots, he scores! Using the data than Sean ferreted out, I found this:

The Oerlikon 1 Pdr. anti-tank gun was mounted on leaf sprung tracks in British service in order to be towed behind Carden Loyd T.9 tracked carriers and Mk.I Universal carriers. The weapon was withdrawn from active duty in 1938 when the 2 Pdr. became available. It was again issued to some Home Guard units during 1940 in preperation for the German invasion that never came. It also served as a anti-tank gunnery range trainer throughout the war. The weapon had no shield fitted.

No pic provided... I'm still looking for that!

UPDATE 3: And Sanger (of course, his *pride* gets wrapped up in beating me to things like this... 8^D) has scored a picture.

Well, I was right about the airplane, that took about an hour. Obviously too many aviation geeks 'round here. That must be a record for the other... pretty much 24 hours. I finally found a challenge worthy of the crowd!

I figure the a/c grognards will figure this one out in moments...

by John on May 17, 2005

May 15, 2005

Peering around the 'sphere this morning...

Out of the blue, a German emailed this: Der Spiegel (trans: The Mirror) with an english-language article looking at an elephant in the living room: Muslim 'honor killings' in Germany. While you're there, click on the WWII retrospective in the sidebar - or, if you're too lazy to look for it - click here: Interesting viewpoints from the German side. Want a way to sample many Germans feel today? *Especially* the ones born after the war? How many of we whites feel personal responsibility for slavery - or even the Jim Crow aftermath, up to, say, 1964 or so? If you don't feel a personal sense of responsibility, but rather a more detached sense of "that was then, this is now" I think you can get a feel for how a 30-40 something German might feel about the war. I can even see where they get a (mistaken, but honestly felt) sense of victimhood. For them growing up, many cities still had rubble piles and bombed out blocks - I remember that from when I was kid living in Germany. And there were all those relatives that were only pictures on the wall, and the tales of property lost, etc. Yes, yes, I know - that was all over Europe, and especially Eastern Europe - not my point. I'm just offering it up as a way to understand why Germans of the general age of the readership of this blog might not feel quite the way we'd think regarding WWII.

Dave Chappelle - while I wasn't that enamored of his show, I've always liked his comedy... and I find this interview fascinating - how many people moving in the orbit he does, takes a good look at the sycophants that cluster about star power and money and find them wanting?

Novak is reporting that high-level Republicans in the House think that Hillary just might be unbeatable. Given the current slate of idiot spineless Republicans, they might be right. If so, serves the Republicans right, so to speak. I find the Republican Senate cohort to be lamentable, even if my own two Senators, Brownback and Roberts, aren't too bad the whole party is tainted by the inability of the leadership to Lead. And if the Dems regain the Senate and the White House, we know the Republicans in the Senate will just roll over and not fight tooth and nail for what they believe, like the Democrats do. Sigh. Three years away and I'm already depressed.

Sorry Presidente Fox - when Mexico affords Gringos the same rights in Mexico it demands for Mexicans in the US, I might start listening to what you have to say with something other than a sense of exasperation.

Hmmm. Poverty + Opportunity = Conservatism? Bogus Gold thinks so.

Over at Dean's World, Joe Gandelman starts dissecting a movie that will debut at Cannes which appears to be Celsius 911 (Michael Moore with a Brit accent).

The Queen of All Evil finds she lives a few blocks away from a Cops Episode.

SWWBO is doing maintenance. And she's a Brute. By contrast, I'm a Spiteful Loner.

Cassandra, as ever the eclectic - wonders what's wrong with women... and points out an odd Islamic practice...

Barb is seeing double.

Alan has the first Ribs of summer!

Punctilious asks a question. Come to think of it - so did Barb.

Castle Philosopher Kat on Guns.

Bad Cat Robot lays out reality if *She* was Evil Overlord!

AFSis is in Disneyworld celebrating Mr. Sister's 40th... but she left the keys to her blog under the doormat... Par-tay!

Jack ruminates on Star Wars. He also offers his take on the Bolton nomination. All in all Jack, I think you're going to like a Hillary Administration one heckuva lot more than the current one.

SGT B still has little patience for people who whine, yet do nothing about that which makes them whine. T'was ever thus: Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. Those who can't teach, criticize.

I'm going to brunch.

by John on May 15, 2005
» Quotulatiousness links with: "Too often these crimes go unreported"

May 05, 2005

May 5, 2005

Busy day in history.

If you're a conspiracy fanatic - Napoleon died this day in 1821.

If you're Mexican - or an Gringo who looks for an excuse to Party - it's the 143rd opportunity to slam Tequila in celebration of the Cinco de Mayo. How many of your partyers actually know what's being celebrated?

If you are an Italian Patriot, 145 years ago today Garibaldi and The Thousand landed in Sicily

If you like Gun Pr0n, 63 years ago, in 1942, the Japanese landed on Corregidor, capturing these guns.


Hi-res, click here. (take a look at the tube)


Hi-res, click here.

The Mortars, I believe, are the only M1890 12-inch seacoast mortars left in existence. If I ever win the lottery or somehow gather a Gatesian fortune - I'll see if the Phillipine government won't let me buy one of those mortars and return it to the US, probably to install it someplace like Fort Monroe, where the mortar pits are still in pretty good shape... Barb will like this - Battery Way. Hat tip to John S for sending along the pictures from his trip!

If you are an Oregonian, you can commemorate your WWII civilian casualties caused by the pointless Japanese weapon, The Balloon Bomb. Lesson learned here - leave UXO alone. Even if you don't know it's UXO (UneXploded Ordnance).

44 years ago - Alan Shepard became the 1st American in space. Yuri Gagarin holds the title for Humanity, chinese claims notwithstanding...

But perhaps, most importantly in my little window on the world, from last night at sundown until today at sundown, it's Yom Ha-Shoah Ve-Hagevurah. The Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust and the Heroism. The Heroism being the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Charles Simmins, of the blog You Big Mouth, You! notes that 60 years ago today, the soldiers of the 89th Division overran Ohrdruf.

I'm not jewish. But I believe the Holocaust happened. And I, too, should like that "someone remember there once lived a person named David Berger."

Not because David should be exalted above other names and deaths just as worthy - including anyone you know who has died - but because by putting a name, and a face to the David Bergers of the Holocaust, we help to combat the reality of Stalin's observation: "The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic."

Nie Wieder.

"Towards the end of the trip, we visited Ohrdruf and, to our surprise (although we had been forewarned) found nothing, absolutely nothing. All traces of it had disappeared. There is only a graveyard for POWs and a German Army Training Camp. It was like it never existed. But it did and we can testify to it personally." All of the horrors of the last sixty years have numbed us. A bombed wedding party in Afghanistan becomes the equivalent of the German camps, and so on. You cannot put a qualification on evil, but acts such as these cry out to us through the passing decades to be remembered.
by John on May 05, 2005

April 27, 2005

The Army has the right idea...

John's post of the leg-challenged trooper reminded me of someone whose memory I respect perhaps more than anyone in combat aviation, then or now.

PLEASE read the whole thing...

Bader could never do that today...too many restrictions would never let him get anywhere near a jet...which, actually, doesn't make a lot of sense. If you don't have legs, you don't have to worry about blood pooling in the lower extremities during high-G maneuvering. The classic G-suit (Fast Pants, Speed Jeans, whatever you want to call 'em) wouldn't do you much good. However, comma, there is Combat Edge, so Bader could be fitted with equipment to keep the rest of his circulatory system ready for 9-G engagements.

I love the RAF. For one thing, they never, ever, ever lower their performance standards--not even for the Royals, I don't think--when it comes to training and qualifications. For another thing, at least up to now, they have broken the code on aviation regulations in their national airspace. We had a saying in USAFE, "Britain was invented by God for pilots." Even though I'm a UK immigrant's son, I'm not biased, either...heh.

Need something? Just ask. Just stay the hell away from the Purple Routes (Royal purple...get it?) and you could do damn near anything you wanted. Couple that with the fact that UK bombing range controllers were paid by the amount of munitions expended, and you've just entered Hog Heaven (pun intended). At a minimum, we'd leave 106 projectiles, per aircraft, on the range (6 BDUs and 100 rounds of 30mm TP) so if the Ranger heard a 4-ship of Hogs checking in on his freq (I'm not making this up) he'd kick other flights off the range (even fellow Brits) to make sure we got on.

I KNOW there are active duty amputees back out there in the "Rack"...the Army has the right idea: warriors are warriors are warriors. Like sled dogs, race horses and other hard chargers, if you don't want to let them do what they were born and want to do, you may as well shoot 'em. (OK, not really, but you get my point.) Why can't we do that in the fighter community? It's a dumb question, I know, but one can always hope.

By the way, what the Bader site fails to mention is that he--being Bader--talked his captors into allowing a one-time, low-level delivery of a new set of legs by air over the prison camp. "Yeah, OK." says the Kommandant. So far, so good...then he uses them to escape. I wonder what the German Stalagluft guard's equivalent of "Cheeky Bastard!" is...

So, the reason he never got away for good until liberation by First Army was his legs being confiscated every night to avoid an embarrassing repeat of the first attempt.

...and THAT, dear readers, is why we win wars...

by Dusty on Apr 27, 2005

April 25, 2005

Out of the ashes...

Twenty-five years ago yesterday, a couple of classmates of mine went on a mission from which many did not return. One of my buds was laid up in the burn center at Brooks for awhile but he's OK now. The Air Force took the most casualties (5 dead) and the Marines came in second (3 dead). Many were captured and the snake-eaters supporting the op almost got bagged to boot.

Fast forward...the sole USAF helo pilot involved, Col (Ret) Russell "Rotor" Rakip, died this past year and when he did, the blue suiters lost a fighter.

Desert One sucked, but out of the ashes rose what is today the most formidable special forces capability on the face of the earth. Colonel Rakip helped make it so. I never knew him, but my classmates did and they miss him...a lot.

Rest in Peace, Rotor. You made a difference...probably more than you know.

by Dusty on Apr 25, 2005
» The Glittering Eye links with: Catching my eye: morning A through Z
» Blog o'RAM links with: Visits With The Denizens

April 19, 2005

April 19th, some years ago in a small town in New England...

...the central government came to sieze near-state-of-the-art military weaponry in the hands of the locals, who had come to not show proper deference to the representatives of that government...

Hi-res click here.

By the rude bridge which arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard 'round the world.

Hi-res click here. (Nice Brown Bess, btw!)

For a whim - the BBC's look at things.

Hi-res click here.

From that seed was to spring the greatest disaster to ever befall mankind, in the eyes of Leftists and Dictators the world over... the United States of America.

by John on Apr 19, 2005

April 11, 2005

Today in History

Having had to come home to put the Exterior Guard out (they don't do Guard Mount in Thunderstorms) I find that SangerM is all excited about today in history, sending these three tidbits:

1951 McArthur was Relieved. The Executive asserts his primacy over the miltary.

1961 Adolf Eichmann On Trial Adolf would end up at the wrong end of a rope.

1990 SuperGun going to Iraq Siezed

To which I would add:

1814 Napoleon's first abdication; next stop, Elba. Sour looking little spud, ain't he?

1862 Rebels surrender Ft Pulaski, Georgia. Significant in that this massive masonry fort was reduced very quickly - by rifled artillery... sounding the death knell of the utility of this particular type of fortification.

1865 Lincoln urges a spirt of generous conciliation during reconstruction. Andrew Johnson's Presidency almost foundered trying to carry it out. Failure to take this approach in WWI gave us WWII...

1898 President McKinley asks for Declaration of War against Spain -the US tries a little Imperialism on for size. Likes the fit, at least short term:

1899 Treaty of Paris; Spain cedes Puerto Rico, Philippines, Guam to US. The war was fought according to JTG's principles, however. You have to be a *real* Denizen to get that one!

1900 USN accepts its first submarine, the USS Holland.

1933 Hermann Goering becomes Premier of Prussia.

1941 Germans "Coventryize" Conventry, England, a decision many german city-dwellers, especially in Hamburg, Berlin, and Dresden, were to come to bitterly regret.


by John on Apr 11, 2005

March 25, 2005

617th MP Co AAR.

What a difference timing makes. Two posts down, in an update, I talk about the AAR (After Action Review) covering the fight of the 617th MP Company. I lament Blackfive got it published first. Hey, we *hate* being scooped!

Like I said, Matt got it via different sources, and his didn't come with any markings or from sources that might give cause for pause... mine came in ways that I felt I had to get permission first. [update: From chattng with Matt, he got his copy from different sources, and vetted it from different sources] So, I asked the author (via email) this morning. I go to lunch, find out Matt has it posted... come back from lunch, and there is my email from the guy who wrote it. So, since I can include his email (there are some redactions at his request) I'm gonna run with the story anyway! Yay!

Here is the email I got from the author:

John,

No I do not mind if you publish the email.

No attribution required.

My purposes were threefold:

- a. [redacted- But there is a good reason, and if that reason comes to pass, I'll share. ed.]

- b. to end the debate about women in combat—they are in combat, period.;

- c. to add our two cents to this stupid debate about the Close Combat Badge the Army command is tossing around, for non-infantry combat arms only---no MPs.

I edited it for OPSEC before it went out. I only wish that the references to the name of the ASR hadn’t appeared on the news.

I did not put any names in there, because I didn’t want any legal trouble coming back to me for unauthorized disclosure of names. I’d prefer names weren’t added, to avoid any questions about the source document.

Please share it, it was meant to share.

In my intro to the pictures, I noted the performance of the soldiers - their professionalism and discipline. And, I'm pleased to say, I was pushing just the points that the author of the AAR was hoping for - and I wrote that before I read the AAR. From previous discussions, there are good and loyal readers of this blog who don't share my view of women in combat. Leaving that aside, this fight certainly shows that at least in this kind of fight - properly trained, motivated, and led (not to mention doing the leading themselves) they can hold their own. I will allow that the issue of women in the infantry is a different issue. But the issue of women in combat... well, my position all along has been - if they are in the Army, then they can take their chances, too. And I don't wanna hear any Regulars talking down the RC (Reserve Component) unless they are being specific about people and places. Don't hand me any generic crap. Talk to the hand. And yes, I'm a Regular.

On to the AAR:


Everyone,

Over the next few days you will see on the television news shows, and in the print news media the story of a Military Police Squad who are heroes. Through those outlets, I doubt that their story will get out in a truly descriptive manner. I can't express to you the pride, awe, and respect I feel for the soldiers of callsign Raven 42.

On Sunday afternoon, in a very bad section of scrub-land called Salman Pak, on the southeastern outskirts of Baghdad, 40 to 50 heavily-armed Iraqi insurgents attacked a convoy of 30 civilian tractor trailer trucks that were moving supplies for the coalition forces, along an Alternate Supply Route. These tractor trailers, driven by third country nationals (primarily Turkish), were escorted by 3 armored Hummers from the COSCOM. When the insurgents attacked, one of the Hummers was in their kill zone and the three soldiers aboard were immediately wounded, and the platform taken under heavy machinegun and RPG fire. Along with them, three of the truck drivers were killed, 6 were wounded in the tractor trailer trucks. The enemy attacked from a farmer's barren field next to the road, with a tree line perpendicular to the ASR, two dry irrigation ditches forming a rough L-shaped trenchline, and a house standing off the dirt road. After three minutes of sustained fire, a squad of enemy moved forward toward the disabled and suppressed trucks. Each of the enemy had hand-cuffs and were looking to take hostages for ransom or worse, to take those three wounded US soldiers for more internet beheadings.

About this time, three armored Hummers that formed the MP Squad under callsign Raven 42, 617th MP Co, Kentucky National Guard, assigned to the 503rd MP Bn, 18th MP Bde, arrived on the scene like the cavalry. The squad had been shadowing the convoy from a distance behind the last vehicle, and when the convoy trucks stopped and became backed up from the initial attack, the squad sped up, paralleled the convoy up the shoulder of the road, and moved to the sound of gunfire. They arrived on the scene just as a squad of about ten enemy had moved forward across the farmer's field and were about 20 meters from the road. The MP squad opened fire with .50 cal machineguns and Mk19 grenade launchers and drove across the front of the enemy's kill zone, between the enemy and the trucks, drawing fire off of the tractor trailers. The MP's crossed the kill zone and then turned up an access road at a right angle to the ASR and next to the field full of enemy fighters. The three vehicles, carrying nine MPs and one medic, stopped in a line on the dirt access road and flanked the enemy positions with plunging fire from the .50 cal and the SAW machinegun (Squad Automatic Weapon). In front of them, was a line of seven sedans, with all their doors and trunk lids open, the getaway cars and the lone two story house off on their left.

Discipline, training, leadership. Attacking into a "near" ambush is the correct response. It's also hard, and takes great confidence in yourself, your buddies, your leaders, and your gear - especially, when by definition, an ambush is a surprise. Reacting, and reacting correctly, is the purpose of training and drill - however sometimes repetetive it might seem.

Immediately the middle vehicle was hit by an RPG knocking the gunner unconscious from his turret and down into the vehicle. The Vehicle Commander (the TC), the squad's leader, thought the gunner was dead, but tried to treat him from inside the vehicle. Simultaneously, the rear vehicle's driver and TC, section leader two, open their doors and dismount to fight, while their gunner continued firing from his position in the gun platform on top of the Hummer. Immediately, all three fall under heavy return machinegun fire, wounded. The driver of the middle vehicle saw them fall out the rearview mirror, dismounts and sprints to get into the third vehicle and take up the SAW on top the vehicle. The Squad's medic dismounts from that third vehicle, and joined by the first vehicle's driver (CLS trained) who sprinted back to join him, begins combat life-saving techniques to treat the three wounded MPs. The gunner on the floor of the second vehicle is revived by his TC, the squad leader, and he climbs back into the .50 cal and opens fire. The Squad leader dismounted with his M4 carbine, and 2 hand grenades, grabbed the section leader out of the first vehicle who had rendered radio reports of their first contact. The two of them, squad leader Staff Sergeant and team leader Sergeant with her M4 and M203 grenade launcher, rush the nearest ditch about 20 meters away to start clearing the natural trenchline. The enemy has gone into the ditches and is hiding behind several small trees in the back of the lot. The .50 cal and SAW flanking fire tears apart the ten in the lead trenchline.

Recognize what you are seeing here. The "good guys" are getting hit. But cohesion remains. People do their jobs. They help each other - but never lose sight of the mission. "Duty First, People Always" is a hackneyed phrase to many people... but what do you think about it now? The casualties they are taking could well have justifed a withdrawal. But they didn't? Why? I can't answer definitively without interviewing the troops - but I'll offer these hypotheses.

1. Body armor. People are hit, and wounded, but not taken completely out of the fight.

2. Combat lifesaving training. People know how to treat the wounded, and do so. That gives *everybody* confidence and a willingness to stick it out. It also returns troops to the fight... which isn't happening on the other side. Though - it's not as universal as you'd think, as is mentioned at the end. The bad guys are just getting ground down (their dead-to-wounded ratio supports that point) - and ground down by a smaller group than they are who just won't quit fighting... and the squads doing this fighting are *not* enjoying the traditional advantages of the defender. At best, this is a meeting engagement. At worst, it is an in-stride assault on a defended position by an inferior force. It doesn't get any harder than that guys.

3. Training. From training comes confidence. You'll see that mentioned later, too.

4. Leadership. Cool, and calm under fire. Leadership that directs. Controls. Leads. And we're not talking senior leaders. We're talking Staff Sergeant and Sergeant. The crucial link in any Army.

5. Trust & Confidence. Confidence that they can handle this fight - and turst that other people are busting their ass to get there and help out.

6. Discipline, discipline, discipline. Those of you who were in the Army during long periods of no-combat peace - remember how people bitched about load plans, and uniformity? Read on.

Meanwhile, the two treating the three wounded on the ground at the rear vehicle come under sniper fire from the lone house. Each of them, remember one is a medic, pull out AT-4 rocket launchers from the HMMWV and nearly-simultaneously fire the rockets into the house to neutralize the shooter. The two sergeants work their way up the trenchline, throwing grenades, firing grenades from the launcher, and firing their M4s. The sergeant runs low on ammo and runs back to a vehicle to reload. She moves to her squad leader's vehicle, and because this squad is led so well, she knows exactly where to reach her arm blindly into a different vehicle to find ammo-because each vehicle is packed exactly the same, with discipline. As she turns to move back to the trenchline, Gunner in two sees an AIF jump from behind one of the cars and start firing on the Sergeant. He pulls his 9mm, because the .50 cal is pointed in the other direction, and shoots five rounds wounding him. The sergeant moves back to the trenchline under fire from the back of the field, with fresh mags, two more grenades, and three more M203 rounds. The Mk 19 gunner suppresses the rear of the field. Now, rejoined with the squad leader, the two sergeants continue clearing the enemy from the trenchline, until they see no more movement. A lone man with an RPG launcher on his shoulder steps from behind a tree and prepares to fire on the three Hummers and is killed with a single aimed SAW shot thru the head by the previously knocked out gunner on platform two, who now has a SAW out to supplement the .50 cal in the mount. The team leader sergeant, she claims four killed by aimed M4 shots. The Squad Leader, he threw four grenades taking out at least two baddies, and attributes one other to her aimed M203 fire.

The gunner on platform two, previously knocked out from a hit by the RPG, has now swung his .50 cal around and, realizing that the line of vehicles represents a hazard and possible getaway for the bad guys, starts shooting the .50cal into the engine blocks until his field of fire is limited. He realizes that his vehicle is still running despite the RPG hit, and drops down from his weapon, into the drivers seat and moves the vehicle forward on two flat tires about 100 meters into a better firing position. Just then, the vehicle dies, oil spraying everywhere. He remountes his .50 cal and continues shooting the remaining of the seven cars lined up and ready for a get-away that wasn't to happen. The fire dies down about then, and a second squad arrives on the scene, dismounts and helps the two giving first aid to the wounded at platform three. Two minutes later three other squads from the 617th arrive, along with the CO, and the field is secured, consolidation begins.

That's just simply Audie Murphy stuff. The soldier described here is the one in the first picture of my post below. Wounded, stunned from the RPG blast - but still thinking not just of reaction and survival - but thinking ahead, past the immediate end game. Taking away the ability of the enemy to escape. Hoo-ah! This is why the Armies of the western democracies are so lethal. Not just the weapons - but the inherent flexibility of the soldiers. US Sergeants have more authority and initiative than many Colonels in some second tier armies. And it shows.

Those seven Americans (with the three wounded) killed in total 24 heavily armed enemy, wounded 6 (two later died), and captured one unwounded, who feigned injury to escape the fight. They seized 22 AK-47s, 6x RPG launchers w/ 16 rockets, 13x RPK machineguns, 3x PKM machineguns, 40 hand grenades, 123 fully loaded 30-rd AK magazines, 52 empty mags, and 10 belts of 2500 rds of PK ammo.

The three wounded MPs have been evacuated to Landstuhl. One lost a kidney and will be paralyzed. The other two will most likely recover, though one will forever have a bullet lodged between second and third ribs below his heart. No word on the three COSCOM soldiers wounded in the initial volleys.

Of the 7 members of Raven 42 who walked away, two are Caucasian Women, the rest men--one is Mexican-American, the medic is African-American, and the other two are Caucasian-the great American melting pot. They believed even before this fight that their NCOs were the best in the Army, and that they have the best squad in the Army. The Medic who fired the AT-4, said he remembered how from the week before when his squad leader forced him to train on it, though he didn't think as a medic he would ever use one. He said he chose to use it in that moment to protect the three wounded on the ground in front of him, once they came under fire from the building. The day before this mission, they took the new RFI bandoliers that were recently issued, and experimented with mounting them in their vehicles. Once they figured out how, they pre-loaded a second basic load of ammo into magazines, put them into the bandoliers, and mounted them in their vehicles---the same exact way in every vehicle-load plans enforced and checked by leaders! Leadership under fire--once those three leaders (NCOs) stepped out of their vehicles, the squad was committed to the fight.

Their only complaints in the AAR were: the lack of stopping power in the 9mm; the .50 cal incendiary rounds they are issued in lieu of ball ammo (shortage of ball in the inventory) didn't have the penetrating power needed to pierce the walls of the building; and that everyone in the squad was not CLS [combat lifesaver. ed.] trained.

Yesterday, Monday, was spent with the chaplain and the chain of command conducting AARs. Today, every news media in theater wanted them. Good Morning America, NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC, Stars and Stripes, and many radio stations from Kentucky all were lined up today. The female E5 Sergeant who fought thru the trenchline will become the anti-Jessica Lynch media poster child. She and her squad leader deserve every bit of recognition they will get, and more. They all do.

I participated in their AAR as the BDE S2, and am helping in putting together an action report to justify future valor awards. Lets not talk about women in combat. Lets not talk about the new Close Combat Badge not including MPs.

Secretary Rumsfeld, sir. Not enough .50 cal ball ammo? Howinthehell does that happen? Buy some from FN. IMI. Singapore Industries. Hyundai. It's not like it's not out there. How are we four years into a war and still short small arms ammo?

I won't go into the 9mm. I've hated the Beretta from day one - I'm just not rational on that one!


Update: Winds of Change has links to video via the Army, including interviews with the soldiers involved.

Matt at Blackfive also points us to this vid: From the Insurgents Losers in this fight....


by John on Mar 25, 2005
» BLACKFIVE links with: After Action Report - Raven 42 Ambushed!
» Winds of Change.NET links with: Tell Me Again About Women in Combat - Raven 42
» triticale - the wheat / rye guy links with: just simply Audie Murphy stuff
» BeldarBlog links with: Raven 42
» Carpe Bonum links with: Raven 42 Ambushed - many terrorists dead
» Ghost of a flea links with: Raven 42
» Ghost of a flea links with: Raven 42

March 07, 2005

Today in History...

In 1862, the Battle of Pea Ridge ended. Yeah, we captured Cologne in 1945. But today, I'm more interested in...

The Bridge at Remagen - the crossing of the Rhine in 1945 - the true death knell for German hopes in the West.

Read Ken Hechler's story.

Read Clemon Knapp's story.

by John on Mar 07, 2005

February 24, 2005

Okay - we did it with Bill, now let's do it with me.

Get yer mind out of the gutter.

This is the Arsenal's Chinese Type 51 Pistol, a copy of the Soviet TT33. Like "Hubert," Twitchy Bill's Trusty Steed, this pistol and its previous owner had a tough day at the office.

Unlike Twitchy and Hubert, the pistol's then-owner did not survive the encounter. Evidence of the encounter is visible on the pistol. How many hits do you see?

Click here for hi-res.

by John on Feb 24, 2005

February 23, 2005

OKay, let's answer that teaser...

The consensus (with some not-so-gentle shoving by the Armorer) was moving towards a Vickers firing lock. Some people picked up on the hint that when the Armorer does this sort of thing he's using pictures which are up in the Arsenal photo album... and paid attention to what folder was what.

Of course, in preparation for this, there was also some Maxim stuff in that folder...

Here is a Vickers lock and a Maxim lock side by side - and just as importantly - they are oriented as if they were in their respective receivers.

They are in the 'locked' position - ready to fire.

Some of you twigged fairly early to a Maxim-style lock (on the right in this photo, a Russian/Finn M1910). All Maxims, all calibers, use a lock that is virtually identical. There may be slight dimensioning differences based on calibers and materials, but they all follow this pattern.

The Vickers is a Maxim-derived gun - and the difference is in the lock. The Vickers shoots more quickly, and is smaller and lighter than equivalent-caliber water-cooled Maxims. And the secret to that is in the lock. Vickers took Maxim's design and left the extractor as it was (that's the part to the right side of the locks which strip, feed, and eject the rounds) and flipped the lock upside down. This made the 'break' of the knuckle in recoil all take place within the vertical space occupied by the lock - instead of breaking below the lock, like the Maxim does. Got that?

1. Strip.

2. Feed.

3. Eject.

This action is why you cock a Maxim-style gun twice... once to strip from the belt, second time to feed the stripped round to the breech, while stripping the next round.

A safety note. In the pics above, you see what looks like a cut-out in the extractor. That's actually a modification done to make the lock safe to handle. This was a training lock used by the Finns. These weapons are VERY DANGEROUS - aside from the Usual Caveats for firearms - WHEN HANDLING THE LOCK. Why? Because the lock contains the firing pin, firing pin spring, sear, and hammer - though you wouldn't recognize the hammer as such. Technically, it's termed a *tumbler*. Point being - if you have a round in the extractor, in front of the firing pin, and you trip the sear (not hard to do) you have an unsupported round that is going to explode. Wear your goggles and Interceptor if you are planning on running with these scissors.

In this picture, you can see how a Maxim operates - loading, firing, ejecting. In most machineguns - the action is straight line - reciprocating back and forth, with the bolt twisting to lock in the breech. On Maxim's guns - the lock stays in the vertical plane, but the actual 'locking' of the weapon occurs when the arm returns to horizontal. Then, upon firing, the barrel gets an initial rearward impulse that moves the recoil plates back along the sides of the locking arm, camming it to break, at which point the lock continues rearward against the action of the fusee spring, which sends the lock forward again to start the process all over again. Complicated. Expensive - but damned reliable, which is why the Maxim still serves in China, and the Vickers served in Brit usage until 1968 or so. But all that, with pictures... is the subject of a later eye-glazing post.

Let's take a look at the locks overlaid on a full-scale poster of the Soviet Maxim. If you click the link, you'll see the Maxim lock overlaid on the poster. Take a look at how the receiver extends down below the water jacket surrounding the barrel (the right side of the picture).

Now take a look at a Vickers. Although this picture doesn't show it that well (hey, excuse to take more!) the receiver on the Vickers is not much deeper than the water jacket - and the reason for that is the weapon ejects the spent brass through a hole right under the water jacket. A tremendous savings in strategic materials, weight, production time, and an increase in firing rate. What more could you ask? The Maxim is much deeper, hence heavier and more clumsy to lug around. I wish I had an MG08/15 to show the attempt to deal with that.

That then - is the genius of the Vickers modification to Maxim's design. Flipping the lock. Just look at the space it saves.

The drawings in this post are from Dolf Goldsmith's book, The Devil's Paintbrush - though the actual drawings are Ministry of Defense drawings from the MoD Pattern Room. Anyone who is *serious* about their machineguns parts with the lucre for those two books - which aren't cheap.

Vickers - The Grand Old Lady of No Man's Land.

Maxim - The Devil's Paintbrush.

Available from the publisher, and elsewhere, I'm sure.

by John on Feb 23, 2005

February 21, 2005

How about a little U.N.-bashing?

I know, I know, easy target - just like any bureaucratic process-driven entity. JMH sent along a link to an column by Peter Worthington in the Toronto Sun last week. (I have a 'blog fodder' folder where I save this stuff to help kick-start the Muse - if you send me something and it doesn't show up immediately doesn't mean it won't - nor that I don't appreciate it!)

Anyway, the title of the column is of itself provocative, as it challenges the received wisdom, always a Bad Thing when dealing with the Establishment, liberal or otherwise...

Rwanda was not about race

He goes on.

Of all the movies nominated for this year's best picture Oscar, none matches the harrowing power of Hotel Rwanda.

While unlikely to win, it serves two valuable purposes: It dramatizes the horror of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda in a way news stories can't, and it graphically shows how impotent the UN was. [emphasis mine]

The UN didn't/doesn't *have* to be impotent. It chose/chooses to be. Just as it did in the Balkans when NATO, pressured by the US, the USGOV itself under pressure from interest groups, finally chose to act in it's own backyard. Given what it took to get anything done in the Balkans (whether we should have done what we did how we did it in the Balkans is a different discussion from this one, please) by the people who lived next door to it, can we be surprised that virtually *no one* was prepared to act, especially after the fact, in Rwanda? That doesn't have to be racism, active or passive. It's inertia.

Reality is, the United Governments is pre-disposed to *not act* - as most actions outside of what it routinely does day to day involve dealing with failed states and governments... and the members of the United Governments are not disposed to dealing with that, because it sets the precedent for meddling in their own affairs. Just as police, absent great external pressure are not disposed to investigate themselves in an open and forthright manner... or, as in our own government at the moment, intelligence services and their umbrella organizations. Unlike the rest of us, for whom government, through it's police and judicial powers, acts as that external pressure, the UN, and most governments, do *not* have that external pressure. Ones which are truly periodically subject to public validation (however messily in the event) do have that pressure... the rest, don't. The UN is mostly composed of governments that, don't.

I'm a Calvin Coolidge kind of guy - most problems coming down the road will roll off into the ditch by the side of the road without strenuous effort or intervention on our part, as he so famously noted. However, that doesn't mean that you don't keep an eye on them - and act to nudge the more dangerous ones off into the ditch a little sooner when their inertia is less, rather than wait for them to bound towards you like a cannonball to a rank of soldiers - one of whom puts his foot out to stop the ball... which doesn't notice the foot, except as a flying body part that very briefly slows it's progress. (Napoleonic and US Civil War abound with stories of green troops trying to stop slow-rolling cannon balls... how much better to have snuck into the opposing army's camp and soaked their gunpowder...).

The argument is made here that Rwanda was such a rolling ball... that could have been stopped with a little water on the powder. The UN mission in Rwanda was a flying body part. Always acknowledging that hindsight is 20-20... but what's the purpose of studying the past, unless you just *like* living Groundhog Day?

Actor Nick Nolte's performance as the colonel commanding the inadequate UN force was modeled on Canada's Romeo Dallaire -- then a brigadier-general, and since promoted to Major-General and Lieutenant-General, and decorated for his service.

Gen. Dallaire's emotional collapse and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been well documented, both in the news and in his Governor-General's Award-winning book, Shake Hands with the Devil. He has since left the army and become something of a poster-boy for PTSD, and is Canada's special advisor on war-affected children. [Old soldiers never truly leave the Army... not really. It is too much a part of us. Ask MacArthur]

In his book, Dallaire acknowledges that his mission was a failure and that he was the wrong man to command in Africa -- his first UN command. [emphasis mine]

Why would this be so? By all accounts, General Dallaire was a competent soldier and leader, a man for Canada to be proud of. Which they generally are, I should hasten to add, lest you think I meant otherwise.

To continue with Worthington's piece.

This is no reflection on Dallaire -- a sincere, decent man who got no support from UN superiors and was out of his depth in Rwanda -- in Africa, even. [emphasis mine]

When Dallaire was sent to Rwanda, it was considered a Cyprus-style peacekeeping mission, not the powder keg it became.

Dallaire's request for more troops was refused. When a high-level informant warned him of an impending massacre, he asked the UN's New York headquarters to okay a preventive raid on a secret weapons cache. Again denied.

So, who was the UN's civilian-in-charge for this event? Kofi Annan. General Dallaire insists that racism was the cause of the world's failure to act. I would argue it was benign neglect, and a reluctance to act until it's all very obvious. Bureaucrats are like that. One does not rise to high office in an institution like the UN with a reputation as a risk-taker. Worthington continues:

When Dallaire was sent to Rwanda, it was considered a Cyprus-style peacekeeping mission, not the powder keg it became.

Dallaire's request for more troops was refused. When a high-level informant warned him of an impending massacre, he asked the UN's New York headquarters to okay a preventive raid on a secret weapons cache. Again denied.

Worthington suggest had a different Canadian, General Lew MacKenzie - with more experience in UN operations - been in command, things might well have proceeded differently.

A reason why Dallaire wasn't taken seriously was because this was his first real field command, and the senior UN military advisor in New York was Maurice Baril (later to become Canada's chief of defence staff) who likely told Kofi Annan that Dallaire was inexperienced in command.

If MacKenzie had been in command, it's unlikely his reports would have been dismissed so casually. With nine UN missions on his record, he was the world's most tested UN Commander -- the hero of Sarajevo.

Herein lies the great frustration of guys on the ground who have no support from the guys on high - of course the flip side *is* the frustration of guys on the ground who are being micromanaged from on high... by people who don't understand the situation on the ground - and won't listen.

And here is the difference between good soldiers and great commanders. Risk-taking. As Worthington notes:

First, MacKenzie knew New York was (is) hopeless for quick decisions. As he did in Sarajevo, he would have gone to Rwanda with more weaponry and reserves than authorized by the UN.

Most significant, he wouldn't have asked permission to stage a preventive raid on a weapons supply.

Arguably, that was Dallaire's greatest failing -- he already had a mandate to do whatever was necessary to ensure security. With none of MacKenzie's field experience, Baril would not have dared second-guess Canada's most celebrated UN commander.

On such seemingly simple things do great events turn...

Worthington closes with this thought:

It's academic now, but Rwanda's genocide might not have happened had a more experienced Canadian commander been in charge. And it has nothing to do with racism.

While I won't argue with that in and of itself... Worthington is taking the journalist's lesson from it - and he's right as far as it goes - except that someone had to take the initial risk on MacKenzie and put him in Sarajevo... and then supported him in that very difficult mission. But I would add a new dimension.

No, for me, the other lesson is in how we raise, train, develop, and nurture our leaders. General Dallaire's failure was one of nerve - not personal courage, but in the moral dimension, when you, as the man on the ground and with the final responsibility, act. Or not act - and in so doing, bump up the problem to a different level.

I don't know how I would have acted in General Dallaire's shoes. I too, might have foundered in that situation - which would simply mean that in that instance, that place, that time - I was bumping up against my personal Peter Principle. And, if General Dallaire *had* acted, and prevented the Massacre - he might well have been ruined for not being a team player... because No One Would Have Known What He Prevented... and the facts might well support sacking him.

My point? Them's the breaks, especially for Officers, in the Service. Which is why a good moral balance and grounding are critical. I'm not talking about being religious fanatics or moral philosophers here - I'm talking about Doing What's Right as you see it when you see it - and let the chips fall where they may, recognizing you may be wrong. And that tends, more often than not, to be the place at which Generals fail. Good men and women, but when faced with that one tough decision - they fall back to the safe answer, rather than the hard one.

Peacekeeping is a tough business - and I'll note that more often than not, Canadians have been pretty good at it.

Again, hat tip to CAPT H for sending that along. And if anyone has a link to General MacKenzie's column, please pass it along.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Feb 21, 2005

February 20, 2005

Bouncing around in my head today...

Today was an interesting day in history...

In 1547, the Brits put a child on the throne - Edward VI (aged 10), installed as King of England (r 1547-1553). Interesting young man, but sickly and died young of tuberculosis - which led to the very sad 9-day reign of Lady Jane Grey, followed by the cantankerous Mary - culminating in the Ultimate Tudor, Elizabeth I. (just clck on the "next monarch" button on the bottom of the page... fascinating reading, I think)

In 1839, Congress prohibited dueling within the District. Too bad - they'd probably be a lot more interested in 2nd Amendment issues if they'd permitted it as a means of resolving political impasses. "Ladies and Gentlemen, on the Field of Honor today, Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, Senate Majority Leader and Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, Senate Minority Leader - on the issue of judicial filibusters! Senator Frist, although having decided this issue in his dispatch of Senator Daschle, finds the Democrats unable to abide by the rules as laid down, and so finds himself again forced to take to the Field of Honor. Mssrs Jonah Goldberg and Al Franken will act as seconds, respectively." Ah, fantasies.

In 1942, Lieutenant Edward H. O'Hare, namesake of the eponymous airport, shot down 5 Japanese bombers on a single mission. I'll send you to The Commissar's other website, Ace Pilots, to read of O'Hare's exploits.

1947 Former commando leader Lord Louis Mountbatten becomes the last Viceroy of India. He will later be murdered by the Irish Rethuglican Army. (I may be of Irish heritage - but I am *not* impressed by the IRA) The man had in impressive and fascinating career.

1962 John Glenn is first American to orbit Earth, in Friendship 7. Whatever you may think of Glenn's subsequent political career, as a Marine fighter pilot and later astronaut, he had the Right Stuff.

Just because I like the picture - the Osprey, in tests at Edwards AFB in California.

Hi-res here.

Neptunus Lex reminds us of a another anniversary - yesterday. Blackfive weighs in as well.

Blogspawn SGT B is collecting a list of things we sent newbies out to get...

Blackfive has some interesting stuff up about the documentary Gunner Palace. The Armorer was invited to participate in this PR blitz, but since none of the premiers we were invited to was within striking distance of the Castle, we have been unable to participate in a meaningful way - which is kind of a bummer, since it was nice to be asked. I'm afraid I'll have to leave it to Matty and others to beat the drum until it hits the main theaters. The Armorer does note that the soldiers in the documentary are from the Armorer's Regiment, the Third Field Artillery. And we're a little jealous around here that Jessica Smith didn't ask us for any help... but then considering how much help we've been to Gunner Palace...

by John on Feb 20, 2005

Bouncing around in my head today...

Today was an interesting day in history...

In 1547, the Brits put a child on the throne - Edward VI (aged 10), installed as King of England (r 1547-1553). Interesting young man, but sickly and died young of tuberculosis - which led to the very sad 9-day reign of Lady Jane Grey, followed by the cantankerous Mary - culminating in the Ultimate Tudor, Elizabeth I. (just clck on the "next monarch" button on the bottom of the page... fascinating reading, I think)

In 1839, Congress prohibited dueling within the District. Too bad - they'd probably be a lot more interested in 2nd Amendment issues if they'd permitted it as a means of resolving political impasses. "Ladies and Gentlemen, on the Field of Honor today, Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, Senate Majority Leader and Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, Senate Minority Leader - on the issue of judicial filibusters! Senator Frist, although having decided this issue in his dispatch of Senator Daschle, finds the Democrats unable to abide by the rules as laid down, and so finds himself again forced to take to the Field of Honor. Mssrs Jonah Goldberg and Al Franken will act as seconds, respectively." Ah, fantasies.

In 1942, Lieutenant Edward H. O'Hare, namesake of the eponymous airport, shot down 5 Japanese bombers on a single mission. I'll send you to The Commissar's other website, Ace Pilots, to read of O'Hare's exploits.

1947 Former commando leader Lord Louis Mountbatten becomes the last Viceroy of India. He will later be murdered by the Irish Rethuglican Army. (I may be of Irish heritage - but I am *not* impressed by the IRA) The man had in impressive and fascinating career.

1962 John Glenn is first American to orbit Earth, in Friendship 7. Whatever you may think of Glenn's subsequent political career, as a Marine fighter pilot and later astronaut, he had the Right Stuff.

Just because I like the picture - the Osprey, in tests at Edwards AFB in California.

Hi-res here.

Neptunus Lex reminds us of a another anniversary - yesterday. Blackfive weighs in as well.

Blogspawn SGT B is collecting a list of things we sent newbies out to get...

Blackfive has some interesting stuff up about the documentary Gunner Palace. The Armorer was invited to participate in this PR blitz, but since none of the premiers we were invited to was within striking distance of the Castle, we have been unable to participate in a meaningful way - which is kind of a bummer, since it was nice to be asked. I'm afraid I'll have to leave it to Matty and others to beat the drum until it hits the main theaters. The Armorer does note that the soldiers in the documentary are from the Armorer's Regiment, the Third Field Artillery. And we're a little jealous around here that Jessica Smith didn't ask us for any help... but then considering how much help we've been to Gunner Palace...

by John on Feb 20, 2005

February 10, 2005

Food for thought, Part I.

CAPT H sends this bit along. True words.

Quotation of the week:

Many years ago, as a cadet hoping to someday to be an officer, I was poring over the "Principles of War", listed in the old Field Service Regulations, when the Sergeant-Major came up to me. He surveyed me with kindly amusement. 'Don't bother your head about all them things, me lad,' he said. 'There's only one principle of war and that's this. Hit the other fellow, as quick as you can, and as hard as you can, w'ere it hurts him most, when he ain't looking'!

Sir William Slim
From the RMC weekly newsletter

Goes along with Clausewitz's line from On War:

"In war, everything is simple, but. even the simplest thing is difficult."

The simple thing: "w'ere it hurts him most" is oft times a most diffcult thing to determine, at any level above immediate tactical. It is there, most often, that plans fail at a strategic or operational level - the inability to determine what is the true 'center of gravity' of the enemy - and where you most often then lose control of how you are going to achieve your ends. Unless, as in the Russians dealing with the Finns in the Winter War, or the North, in the Slaveholder's Rebellion Against Simple Decency (that'll generate some heat...) you just overpower them with mass. Another example is the Plains Indians. Until we figured out the Buffalo was the center of gravity, all we were doing was nibbling around the edges.

Of course sometimes, you know what you need to do - but then the enemy usually does, too. And then it's just hard. Like Germany and Japan. And while we seemed to have figured it out for Operation Enduring Freedom... I'm pretty sure we initially missed the boat on Iraqi Freedom.

The rest of this long, boring dissertation is in the Flash Traffic/extended post.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Feb 10, 2005

February 09, 2005

An omnibus to get started today.

First off, Bill the Rotorhead spams me (a good thing when it's usable) with this:

A chicken and an egg are lying in bed.

The chicken is leaning against the headboard smoking a cigarette, with a satisfied smile on it's face. The egg, looking a bit pissed off, grabs the sheet, rolls over, and says,

"Well, I guess we finally answered THAT question!

A little historical trivia:

1799 West Indies: USS Constellation captures frigate L'Insurgente - We'll get our current L'Insurgente problem under control too, I'm sure.

1904 Japan declares war on Russia, one day after initiating hostilities - Hmmm, start of a trend there, eh?

1916 Britain institutes conscription - think about that - they managed to feed the beast that was the Trenches in Tregonsee's only accepted fashion for almost 2 years...

1942 War Time (Double Daylight Savings) goes into effect in US
1943 FDR orders minimal 48 hour work week in war industry - these two items combine to remind us of the last time we fought a war as a War, and not as an afterthought to day-to-day commerce.

1964 GI Joe "action figure" created - Happy Birthday, Joe! Sorry about that hostage thing. Just keep focused on the Code of Conduct.

2001 Sub USS Greeneville sinks Ehime Maru while surfacing. That was a black day both for the victims and the Submarine Force. I'll credit the Captain of the Greenville for accepting responsibility with no cavils.

Lastly - judging from some comments, there are readers who don't truly understand the Castle and the Arsenal at the Castle. This should help. A view of one of the rooms containing the Arsenal at Castle Argghhh! (fuller views available by clicking on the Castle or the machine gun on the left sidebar). This is actually a somewhat dated pic. The Vickers machine gun in the center now sports an ammo-box holder.

Hi-res version here.

by John on Feb 09, 2005

February 01, 2005

Oy vey! Ach du lieber! Gott im Himmel!

What's a nice transplanted Austrian Fascist Dictator of the Germans to do?

Ya promote the guy to Feldmarschall, because no german Field Marshall has ever surrendered before - and the defeatist bassid promptly goes and does what?

Surrenders! The Entire Sixth Army, upon which you have staked your martial reputation as a military genius!

And then there's that damn Afrika thing, too. Montgomery sitting in Tripoli! Well, at least that's mud in the eye of your fascist mentor, Benito.

Some days it just doesn't pay to get up.

*Based on some email - this is relevant because today is the date in 1943 that Paulus surrendered, pretty much sealing the fate of the Germans in WWII.

*****Change of Subject******

Meanwhile, here's an interesting view from someone else, who, unlike Hitler, *is* challenging his assumptions, in the form of a liberal mugged by reality. You may not agree with all his conclusions (he certainly doesn't with mine!) - but he's on an interesting voyage himself.

Update: Looky - a Main Streamer does some navel-gazing. I suspect he'll find enough bad to redeem himself before all is said and done. What I find interesting, however is this paragraph:

Deciding democracy's worth

On the other side of that barrier is a concept some of us have had a hard time swallowing:

Maybe the United States really can establish a peaceable democratic government in Iraq, and if so, that would be worth something.

Would it be worth all the money we've spent? Certainly.

Would it be worth all the lives that have been lost? That's the more difficult question, and while I reserve judgment on that score until such a day arrives, it seems probable that history would answer yes to that as well.

I don't want to get carried away in the moment.

Now, I admit that when I was in the nuclear weapons business, you had to confront the question - are 'democracy and freedom' as we define them, worth the potential annihilation of the human race? Would that not be the ultimate Phyrric victory? And, I concluded that 'democracy and freedom' as I understood has risen twice (the Greek city-states, post-Enlightenment West) and therefore would probably rise again from the ashes, as long as there was something to rise. Glad I wasn't in the Boomers, or SAC - those guys had to really face those choices, we Army guys didn't.

But as I read the paragraph above - I think that guy's threshold of 'it's better Red than Dead' is one hell of a lot lower than mine. And he's more about the here and now, the "I", than he is about the future.


*****Change of Subject*****

The Red Ensign Standard #14 is up!

by John on Feb 01, 2005

January 23, 2005

Ahh, Johnny, God Speed and Fare Well.

And if you're headed South, you can use one of my chits at Fiddler's Green on the way down.

Least I can do - you made it possible for my mother to get to sleep those 478 long, lonely nights during 68-69 when Dad was in Vietnam.

We'll miss ya Johnny.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance... In Memoriam.

It seems Johnny was popular in the Blogosphere. He's getting a lot of mention. I wonder if any of his successors will enjoy the same level of notice when they shuffle off this mortal coil?


Jeff Quinton. Wizbang. A Small Victory. Infinite Monkeys. Our Life. Marcus. BBC. Ace.Slant Point. Blogs of War. Right Thoughts. Six Meat Buffet. Stryker. SlagleRock. BMEWS. DogSnot. TBTN. Dean's World. La Shawn. The Shape of Days. BuzzMachine. Boots & Sabers. Althouse. Digger. ISOU. Cheese and Crackers. California Yankee. Vodkapundit. Spoons. Shot in The Dark. SondraK. The American Mind. The World Rant. American Digest. The MUSC Tiger. Resurrectionsong. The RothReport. DGCI. Ryne McClaren. ScrappleFace. Say Anything. Protein Wisdom. QandO. Pajama Pundits.Powerline. Speed of Thought. Inside Allan's Mind. Rambling's Journal. Mostly Cajun.

by John on Jan 23, 2005
» Speed of Thought.. links with: I loved Johnny Carson
» ISOU links with: Memories Of Johnny
» Pajama Pundits links with: Johnny Carson, RIP
» Take Back The News links with: Johnny Carson Deat At 79 - Full Coverage
» Inside Allan's Mind links with: Good night Mr. Carson
» Ramblings' Journal links with: Goodnight, Johnny.
» Six Meat Buffet links with: Adios, Johnny
» Mostly Cajun, All American and Opinionated links with: Good-bye, Johnny...

January 21, 2005

Coupla things...

1. This week's Carnival of the Recipes is up at CalTechGirl's place. (Hmmm, just how gay *is* a tiled background of a naked guy with sword (non-expansible) and funny hat...?) Not that the Castle would mind having the funny hat and sword. Shield, either.

2. SangerM points us to Bill Whittle on Michael Moore. I like Whittle's analysis of actors...

3. Beth obliquely discusses Andyism. Andyism is a polite philosophy, if a touch too narcissistic for my taste... But it *is* a tolerant philosophy, as long as you acknowledge him as Supreme High Being, Master of the Universe. Which isn't as bad as it sounds, 'cuz the SHB will most likely be playing video games, so if you don't unplug anything, he's not gonna mess around with you.

At Pool of Thought, Brad is spitting nails, however.

4. Marine Bumper Stickers.

5. Sorta Happy Birthday to the National Guard - in 1903 the Militia Act established the Guard in it's modern form.

6. Caption Contest. If I get 20 or more entries to choose from (no more than 2 from any single person will count, though you can submit more) gets a Castle Mug or Mousepad, what the heck.

by John on Jan 21, 2005

January 20, 2005

Interesting day in military history...

Sometimes I hate the guys at Strategy Page. Here I am, working on a largish post, and they cover the topic for me. With a brevity I'll never indulge in. The subject? Something about the same people who bitch about $5000 hammers also bitch about the fact that we don't design everything to meet every contingency, imaginable and unimaginable. You know, Congressmen. And people like them.

There's also a little bit in there about how winning wars like the one we are in now is both a long, and frequently bloody, process. It's just a long, hard, slog.

Today in Military History... well, not exclusively military.

Event

1265 Parliament meets for the first time
1778 First American court martial begins, Cambridge, Mass
1914 USN opens a school for aviators at Pensacola, Fla. (there went the property values)
1942 Nazi officials hold notorious Wannsee Conference on "Final Solution"
1955 USS Nautilus launched at Groton, Conn.
1981 52 Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 days freed. Oh, and Ronald Reagan took the oath of office, too.

by John on Jan 20, 2005

January 19, 2005

Assault Rifle Ammunition

JMH sends along this link to an interesting article on 6.5 Grendel.com comparing and contrasting the developmental history and choices in choosing/designing ammunition for the assault rifle genus.

Perhaps of equal interest to me (and any other ammo collectors out there) is the homepage of the author of the article, Anthony Williams - CANNON, MACHINE GUNS AND AMMUNITION... looks like my kinda guy!

by John on Jan 19, 2005
» SayUncle links with: Les has more

The Answer to the Question.

What was the question? Go read here!

The answer is 11. There were a few of you who answered with that number, but as I observed earlier, we'll have to wait for Bill to get back from his short trip this week to give us the definitive winner.

I got 10 - but, I didn't get the right 10 (and I dithered a lot over whether or not the damage in the upper left corner of the door was a hit or just a ding. I also counted at least one rivet, which, based on the numbers some of you put in, you did too. I also allowed for about four possibles - one of which *was* a hit, the other were, as I suspected, rivets.

Anyway - here's the annotated picture with the answer. This picture was taken not long after landing from the mission that provided the punctures - and Bill was flying this aircraft - in the left seat, the side with all the holes.

Hi-res here.

by John on Jan 19, 2005

January 17, 2005

A little fractured history...

I can't wait to see what Allen has to say...

Today's History lesson is on evolution of Conservatives & Liberals.

Subject: Evolution of Conservatives & Liberals.

Division of the human family into 2 distinct political groups began some12,000 years ago. Humans existed as members of small bands of nomadic hunter/gatherers. They lived on deer in the mountains in the summer & would go to the beach & live on fish & lobster in winter.

The 2 most important events in all of history were the invention of beer & the invention of the wheel. The wheel was invented to get man to the beer. These were the foundation of modern civilization & together were the catalyst for the splitting of humanity into 2 distinct subgroups: Liberals & Conservatives.

Once beer was discovered it required grain & that was the beginning of agriculture. Neither the glass bottle nor aluminum can were invented yet, so while our early human ancestors were sitting around waiting for them to be invented, they just stayed close to the brewery. That's how villages were formed.

Some men spent their days tracking & killing animals to B-B-Q at night while they were drinking beer. This was the beginning of what is known as "the Conservative movement." Other men who were weaker & less skilled at hunting learned to live off the conservatives by showing up for the nightly B-B-Q's & doing the sewing, fetching & hair dressing. This was the beginning of the Liberal movement.

Some of these liberal men eventually evolved into women. The rest became
known as 'girleymen.' Some noteworthy liberal achievements include the domestication of cats, the invention of group therapy & group hugs, and the concept of Democratic voting to decide how to divide the meat & beer that conservatives provided. Over the years conservatives came to be symbolized by the largest, most powerful land animal on earth, the elephant. Liberals are symbolized by the jackass.

Modern liberals like imported beer (with lime added), but most prefer white wine or imported bottled water. They eat raw fish but like their beef well done. Sushi, tofu, & French food are standard liberal fare. Another interesting revolutionary side note: most of their women have higher testosterone levels than their men. Most social workers, personal injury attorneys, journalists, dreamers in Hollywood & group therapists are liberals. Liberals invented the designated hitter rule because it wasn't "fair" to make the pitcher also bat.

Conservatives drink domestic beer. They eat red meat & still provide for their women. Conservatives are big-game hunters, rodeo cowboys, lumberjacks, construction workers, medical doctors, police officers, corporate executives, soldiers, athletes & generally anyone who works productively outside government. Conservatives who own companies hire other conservatives who want to work for a living.

Liberals produce little or nothing. They like to "govern" the producers & decide what to do with the production. Liberals believe Europeans are more enlightened than Americans. That is why most of the liberals remained in Europe when conservatives were coming to America. They crept in after the Wild West was tame & created a business of trying to get MORE for nothing.

Here ends today's lesson in world history.

Hat tip to Mr. Green Jeans!

by John on Jan 17, 2005
» Pass The Ammo links with: Evolution of Conservatives & Liberals.
» Thoughts of a Medic links with: The Divergence of Conservatives and Liberals
» Simon and the Lefties links with: More conservative story crap

January 14, 2005

General Purpose Omnibus post.

For a little reading to counteract the doom and gloom of the Punditocracy and MSM... (and some of us bloggers, too), try a little Victor Davis Hanson.

Platitudes follow: "We can't just leave now," followed by no real advice on how a fascist society can be jumpstarted into a modern liberal republic. After all, there is no government handbook entitled, "Operation 1A: How to remove a Middle East fascist regime in three weeks, reconstruct the countryside, and hold the first elections in the nation's history — all within two years." Almost all who supported the war now are bailing on the pretext that their version of the reconstruction was not followed: While a three-week war was their idea, a 20-month messy reconstruction was surely someone else's. Yesterday genius is today's fool — and who knows next month if the elections work? Witness Afghanistan where all those who recently said the victory was "lost" to warlords are now suddenly quiet.

Heads You Lose, Tails We Win
Indeed, from the oscillating analyses of Iraq, the following impossible picture often emerges from our intelligentsia. It was a fatal error to disband the Iraqi army. That led to lawlessness and a loss of confidence in the American ability to restore immediate order after Saddam's fall. Yet it was also a fatal error to keep some Baathists in the newly constituted army. They were corrupt and wished reform to fail — witness the Fallujah Brigade that either betrayed us or aided the enemy. So we turned off the Sunnis by disbanding the army — and yet somehow turned off the Shiites by keeping some parts of it.

You can get all of it here.

Then there's the always fun to read Ralph Peters. Gee, if I had any talent, I could be him...

...From Islamic terrorists to The New York Times, the enemies of free elections in Iraq have a common goal: They desperately want the American experiment in bringing democracy to the Middle East to fail - the first for reasons of power, the latter to regain its lost prestige.

The terrorists' alarm is understandable. Ditto for the Sunni Arab insurgents. They could never win an election in Iraq, and they know it. The terrorists believe in religious tyranny, while the insurgents believe in secular tyranny. Neither care in the least about the aspirations of the common people.

For its part, the Times believes in the tyranny of the intelligentsia. Blinded by its hatred for the Bush administration, it attempts to portray every development in Iraq as a disaster. Even marginally successful Iraqi elections would prove it wrong yet again...

Read Ralph's full bit here, at the NY Post. Gotta love access to the Early Bird!

Obviously, what they both have to say resonates with me.

On a completely unrelated note - SWWBO's Carnival of the Recipes is up, over at One Happy Dog's place.

To wrap it up, at least for now - another reason why I love American soldiers. We're generally a disciplined lot. But we do sometimes pose some passive-agressive challenges to authority asserting itself for authority's sake. And, unlike some of our senior leaders (this includes uniforms and suits) we keep our promises.
Warning - tissue alert for critter lovers.

I was inspired to do this because Bill The Rotorhead is promising his hard-hitting tell all comic book of his life after the Statute of Limitations on GO#1 expires. Aside from capital crimes, unless there's an existing Courts Martial Convening order outstanding, seven years about covers it. You should be good to go for the Vietnam book Bill, absent anything covered by non-disclosure agreements...

General Order #1 can be a real pain in the patootie.

Okay, okay. Kwitcherbitchin'! Ya wanna see an example General Order #1? Here.

If you need a little humor for your day... check out the extended post, in the Flash Traffic.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Jan 14, 2005

A new contest.

Okay, for those of you following half the conversation yesterday, Bill the Rotorhead sent me a picture of his young, combat pilot in Vietnam self (when his hair was still dark), taken just after a mission moving SEALs around when his bird attracted attention from the hostiles.

Your mission. Count the bullet holes in the aircraft. On this side, anyway. And Bill says they are all on this side - and in the picture.


Click here to get the picture in it's full-size glory.

No answers in the comments, please. Give the other guys a chance - without possibly misleading them. Email your analyses...

Bill does offer these hints.

Gratuitous hint numbah one: In my outfit, we waxed our aircraft as an anti-corrosion measure, but didn't buff 'em. The wax made small-caliber bullets act like they were Teflon-coated, so if they were fired from within 100m, they'd slip through the aircraft skin without chipping the paint; hence, no large, shiny areas of exposed metal (I think the zinc chromate primer may have helped paint retention, too) around a puncture. The edge of the holes were shiny, but film grain in this pic wasn't fine enough to show anything but the holes, for the most part. Gratuitous hint numbah two: As an example of what you should be looking for, check the lower-right corner of my door frame--entry hole is on the outside, exit is on the inside. Okay--now find the others... This is fun being on the other side of the "Whatsdis?" picture game!

Winner gets a Castle mug, courtesy the Armorer. The winner being randomly picked by Bill from all the correct entries. One entry apiece, please. In the case of female aspirants, I'm sure sexy photos sent to Bill *will* influence the judging process, but please time them so that they arrive after normal work hours, Eastern Standard Time, so that Mrs. Bill can properly enjoy them too!

by John on Jan 14, 2005
» Villainous Company links with: Weekend Blogjam

December 22, 2004

December 22, 1944.

...in the Bastion of the Battered Bastards of the 101st.

To the U.S.A. Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne.

The fortune of war is changing. This time the U.S.A. forces in and near Bastogne have been encircled by strong German armored units. More German armored units have crossed the river Our near Ortheuville, have taken Marche and reached St. Hubert by passing through Hompre-Sibret-Tillet. Libramont is in German hands.

There is only one possibility to save the encircled U.S.A. troops from total annihilation: that is the honorable surrender of the encircled town. In order to think it over a term of two hours will be granted beginning with the presentation of this note.

If this proposal should be rejected one German Artillery Corps and six heavy A. A. Battalions are ready to annihilate the U.S.A. troops in and near Bastogne. The order for firing will be given immediately after this two hours' term.

All the serious civilian losses caused by this artillery fire would not correspond with the well known American humanity.

The German Commander.


To the German Commander:

Nuts!

The American Commander.

The American Commander was Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, Division Artillery Commander of the 101st Airborne Division.

Redlegs (like yours truly) aren't usually noted for their brevity.

McAuliffe's troops weren't the only ones inspired by his response. There was extra effort on the home front, too.

Check the Trackback for another take on this event, this time by Mostly Cajun.

by John on Dec 22, 2004
» Mostly Cajun, All American and Opinionated links with: Today in History

December 07, 2004

63 Years Ago...

These men took the first steps of the Greatest Generation's March to Greatness, just as their grandchildren make their own march today.

At 7:55AM, Pearl Harbor went from this...

To this...

To this...

To this...

To this.

Finally, those men and millions of men and women like them, forced this:

The representatives of the Emperor of Japan surrendering on the deck of the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

This generation will do no less, as long as we let them!


So today, we honor the veterans and the fallen of Pearl Harbor.

Sailors man the rail of the USS Hopper (DDG 70) as it parades by the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 2000. The Arleigh Burke class destroyer is taking part in the ceremonies commemorating the 59th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Paul Holcomb, U.S. Air Force.

More Pearl Harbor Blogging:

Random Fate
Silent Running
Instapunk
Michelle Malkin
Florida Cracker
Mamamontezz
Rooftop Report
Poliblog
Backcountry Conservative
Flynn Files
Shot in the Dark
Power Line
Outside the Beltway
The Commissar
Val Prieto
Laughing Wolf
Transterrestrial Musings
Mallard Fillmore
SGT Hook
Brainshavings
Drink This
Airborne Combat Engineer
Cowboy Blob
I Love Jet Noise
Intermittent Stream
Blackfive
Texas Bug

by John on Dec 07, 2004
» TacJammer links with: Pearl Harbor, and a Lesson - 2004 Edition
» The Laughing Wolf links with: It Was A Quiet Morning
» Intermittent Stream links with: Infamy Today
» Sgt Hook - This We'll Defend links with: Infamy
» Random Fate links with: John of Argghhh! has a
» Backcountry Conservative links with: Remembering Pearl Harbor
» INCITE links with: Pearl Harbor Day
» TexasBug links with: Dec 7th, 1941, 0753 Hours - Attack Erupts at Pearl
» BLACKFIVE links with: December 7th - Pearl, the 'stan, and Iraq
» Cinomed's Tower links with: Before 9/11 there was 12/7
» CDR Salamander links with: Pearl Harbor Day

November 22, 2004

Whitworth Cannon

I got a request in an earlier thread for pictures of the Whitworth rifled breech loader breech and bolt. Bolt in this instance referring to the round it shot (or at least I hope that's what the requester was after!).

I've got some stuff in the reference library - but I didn't have any good pictures of the breech mechanism to scan, so I went hunting on the web. And, as I expected, about all I could find was this, the most common photo of a Whitworth, from the Civil War. I found some other British guns, but none of those shots showed the breech to any good effect.

But joy of joys, after a couple of refinements in my Googling, I came up with these photos. They are from this website, devoted to the hobby of making and shooting miniature cannon. This may be the avenue the Arsenal has to go in order to indulge our taste in cannon.

Anyway, here are two pretty good shots of the Whitworth - in model form, made by a remarkable mini-cannon-founder, Ronald Nulph.

The Whitworth was a "screw-gun," meaning that it's breech block worked exactly like a screw - requiring multiple twists of the breech handle to close and seal the breech. Developed at a time before brass cartridges cases of that size were practical, they were plagued by sealing problems at the breech over time, in addition to some of the inherent weaknesses in the wrought-iron construction methods used.

These problems would so plague the screw-guns that first rank armies of the era went back to rifled muzzle-loaders until a solution was found in the form of the 'interrupted screw' breech and the french-designed DeBange obturation system. The interrupted screw breech (still preferred on large guns) with the DeBange sealing system allows for the breech to close and seal in a quarter-turn, vastly speeding service of the piece. The DeBange obturator was essentially a mushroom-shaped steel spindle that sat in the center of the breech block. It sat on a split ring, obturating pad (usu. a hard, heat resistant rubber or asbestos compound) with another split ring on top of it. The compression of firing pushed the mushroom back on the split rings and obturator, which bulged to seal the breech. The charge is initiated by a primer (looks like a large blank) inserted into the lock. Just like a rifle cartridge case, the brass case seals the lock, the pad seals the breech, the interrupted screw allows a quarter turn to seal, giving you a very strong, very fast breech for large caliber guns. The various forms of dropping and sliding blocks (as used on smaller guns and tank guns) give even greater speed - but at the cost of weight, which is why larger caliber guns use stepped thread screw breeches - with at least the exception of the German 155mm guns, which still use blocks. The stepped screw breech still soldiers on, however - as this picture of Redleg Marines sending a present via their M198 Howitzer to muji's in Fallujah amply demonstrates.

The diagram above is a DeBange interrupted screw breech in a naval gun. The cannoneers on the Marine gun would recognize the essentials of this breech.

The second part of the question was the Whitworth bolt. Bolt, in artillery parlance of the Civil War era, meant an elongated rifled projectile that did not explode - the rifled equivalent of solid shot (in this case, a 30pdr Parrot bolt).

The reason a Whitworth bolt is interesting is because the Whitworth gun (designed, incidentally by Sir Joseph Whitworth) used a novel method of rifling. Rather than cutting grooves into the bore of the piece to spin the projectile, the Whitworth gun's bore was hexagonal in section, and twisted down the bore to provide the spin to stabilize the projectile, and provide a predictable drift that could be offset in aiming.

Consequently, the ammunition had to be specially made to accommodate that - which gives you a projectile that looks like this.

Seen behind the bolt is a 12pdr spherical case (exploding shell) with a Bormann fuze.

Obviously, one of the last things the Confederates needed was a gun that required specialized ammunition. So, while the Whitworth was an accurate gun, it's propensity in it's wrought iron mode to explode without warning, and the requirements for specially-made ammunition, combined with it's relative lack of power made it a not terribly useful gun. But what Whitworth learned in the design of this gun and his rifles was carried forward part and parcel into the guns we cannon-cockers use today.

There, that should about cover it. I really could go on for pages, but this is a blog, eh?

by John on Nov 22, 2004
» The Politburo Diktat links with: Show Trial #24

New truths, old truths, timeless truths.



Soldiers from the 82nd Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, clear a house in Fallujah, Iraq, where some insurgents have holed up. US Army Photo by Pvt. Brandi Marshall.

Think about what it takes to do that, house after house, day after day, week after week. Cops know what it's like, though cops don't usually face people with quite the same armament these guys face.

From an email I received last week (a forward, not addressed to me, I don't move in this guy's circle). I do however, wallow in this environment, and I am one of the quasi-Luddites who always ask the question, "Yeah, it's neat, but does it help the soldier?" I also concur with the statement in there regarding a lack of realism in our testing and development - but now that I work on the analysis side of that (and have worked on the developmental and operational sides) I'm not sure there's a heck of a lot that can be done, because it's hard to engender and maintain the 'need to learn and adapt' in peacetime that happens instantly in combat.

Bottom line - it still takes the 19 year old with a bayonet to finish the job, with some older farts like Dusty and I giving guidance and direction.

There is still no substitute for the warrior at the sharp end, willing to kill for that piece of dirt, and die to protect it and the inhabitants thereof. Anything that doesn't enhance that is a waste of time and money. And yes, Virginia, that *does* include Peace Keeping/Enforcement and Nation Building etc...

I've reviewed the articles that you sent to me. They were interesting reading but I would like to provide my perspective having been here last year and now with III Corps. What I share below is unclassified and much of my work over the last year has been in the classified realm so please understand if there are logic gaps. Also, I'm very tired so please excuse the grammar and syntax. I hope my comments are useful as you pursue the ABCS [Army Battle Command System - command and control computers. ed] evaluation.

The first thing I would tell you is that reporters for the most part are here for only a few days and are ignorant (not counting the embedded reporters who have experienced and learned). The majority of the press doesn't understand what they are looking at and are seeking graphic images and "action" shots. Having disparaged the press I need to emphasize that the real heroes are our Soldiers and Marines. These kids improvise, adapt and overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Using the MICLIC [Mine Clearing Line Charge, ed.] to clear roadways is a significant tool in their favor and I support them. Improvised Explosive Deices (IEDs) is responsible for approximately 63% of our casualties so predetonating hidden explosives is a plus. I worked with the Meerkat and Buffalo last year when landmines were a problem. Now the Buffalo is the hero because of its articulating arm is able to move IEDs with the operator safely behind armor and bullet proof glass. The enemy has progressed their hardware, tactics and techniques in 18 months over the evolution of technical development from 1970 to 2002. If you were to look at the history of Northern Ireland from 1970 to today you will see striking similarities.

Warlock, until it broke in the press, was a classified system that provides an electronic umbrella to protect the Soldier from remote controlled IEDs. The device is successful but with electronic counter-measures you never really know if the device works. When I travel over the road we have a Warlock that protects us and it is quite comforting knowing the system is on. I can tell you from firsthand experience that the IED is deadly and indiscriminant. It is also a psychological weapon as we do everything possible to up-armor our trucks.

Using existing technology that is relatively old such as Spectre
(AC-130) gunship and Cobra (AH-1W) can break the enemy's back with Specters 105mm howitzer, 40mm Bofors rapid fire cannons, and my favorite are the Vulcan 20mm "gatling" guns or the 25mm Gatling gun in newer aircraft. What make these platforms so effective are the state of the art navigation systems, electronic counter-measures, and most importantly night vision capability. As the Spectre crews say "You can run, but you will only die tired".

The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) has become a significant platform for the commander. Sitting at my desk, looking at my SIPR (Secret Internet Protocol Router, the military's secure Internet, ed.] monitor, I can watch streaming video of live feeds from the UAV. In the JOC [Joint Operations Center, ed], as an example, they've watched guys vaporized while emplacing a mortar tube or large groups of subversives destroyed with a single precision bomb. Not much more I can say about this wonderful system - it works. The UAV is extremely effective and expensive but those three guys will never fire another mortar or the group of subversives will attack free Iraqi Citizens or Coalition Forces.

Raw combat power is the only way to take and hold ground. Mass is critical at the decisive point and time in a battle. The Stryker can't lead an attack into a fortified enemy stronghold. The M1 Abrams and the M2/M3 Bradley are well suited for this task of the Attack. All of the technical developments for weapons and related systems allow our Soldiers and Marines to get closer to the enemy so that the last 100 meters doesn't come at a huge human cost for Coalition Forces. The less of our guys who are killed and maimed the better. From the news you can see the Coalition Forces and Iraqi Forces are very effective in Fallujah. Urban fighting is dangerous and expensive but I'm confident we killed a lot of bad guys with our technology and minimize collateral damage. A point needs to be made about the Iraqi Soldier. They are wonderful people who want a free Iraq and are fighting and dieing every day in a higher proportion than the Coalition Forces. While their losses are terrible their willingness to fight alongside our men and women is a good indication that the formerly oppressed society is healing.

ABCS as we know it [emphasis mine, ed] was a failure. The ability of the Soldier to improvise, adapt and overcome obstacles with innovative concepts allowed them to take technology and leverage it. The most significant shortfall experienced last year was bandwidth which all but shutdown any of the ABCS systems and stovepipe development that hindered interoperability. That also created second order effects of not being able to get inside of the enemy's decision cycle. I believe the reason much of the equipment didn't work is because during testing we allowed contactors to maintain the equipment and the tests were neither rigorous nor realistic. Millions of dollars later the systems are improved in 2004 than they were in 2003. The Fog of War is something that is lost on the development side of science and technology. We are not fighting dim-witted boobs. The enemy leaders are educated and well versed in subversion and guerilla warfare. Many, I believe, are veterans of Chechnya and Afghanistan and have been trained by organizations such as the IRA or Al Qaeda. The bottom line is the subversives are fighting hard and taking tactical advantage by using immoral, unethical, and illegal tactics. These are criminal organizations pretending to be Nation States. [emphasis in original]

Finally, what I believe is most important is that we recognize that it isn't technology that wins wars, it is the Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine using that technology to close the last 100 meters. Our best contribution to the Soldier is that we give them reliable equipment that works the first time (bring back the MILSPEC) [Military Specification, ed] and the training to properly use those tools to make them successful. Just because the equipment works in the laboratory or at the NTC [National Training Center, ed] doesn't mean it is ready for "prime time". Logistics is a forgotten aspect of what we do. As you develop the ABCS ensure that logistics is part of the solution. The Warfighters are merely 10% of the force (tip of the spear) and the rest are service and support personnel who must maintain the equipment that the Warfighter needs. U.S. Casualties are proportionally distributed, I believe, across the combat arms, combat support and combat-service support Soldiers. There is no moral (sic) problem - Soldiers are excited about doing their job but they deserve the right tools for the job and superior training.

Today I am headed west of Baghdad for several days to do technical evaluations on captured enemy equipment. As I prepare to depart I'm thinking that this action is truly a non-linear (asymmetric) conflict. We have to destroy enemy fighters while quelling an insurgency and not alienating the Iraqi people. The Iraqi people are a good folk who want stability and a prosperous future for their families. Technology has allowed us, to a high degree of success, to attack the insurgent and minimize collateral damage. Human Factors Engineering is critical to ensuring we improve Soldier performance, readiness, safety and TRAINING. This is lost on the science and technology community.

If you just surfed in from a link and aren't bored to death - you might like the follow-up post.

by John on Nov 22, 2004
» AlphaPatriot links with: The Technology of War

November 18, 2004

Soldier's Letter Home

Two soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 130th Field Artillery, Kansas National Guard, were killed in Iraq recently. The Battalion draws from around where I live. This letter is from an officer from Indiana who works with the battalion, and was written to his daughters back home. It originally appeared in the Daily Journal, I received it via email.

Veteran's Day Letter to Mary, Laura & Sarah

Hello girls, I have something very important to tell you about this war and the meaning of Veteran's Day. We should never forget that Memorial Day used to be called Armistice Day. This particular day was chosen because that was the month, day and hour that WWI ended. November 11, 1918 at 11:00am. This was supposed to be the "war to end all wars", but of course we know that it was not the last one.

Sometimes on Veterans Day, we lose connection to the real meaning of the day. I've written a few words that may help you to understand what it is all about. Sweethearts, I've just returned from the memorial service that was held for two very special soldiers. These two men were taken from this world on Monday of this very week protecting our unit. They were very brave men who protected generals and your dad too.

The first man's name is Specialist Don Allen Clary. He would have celebrated his 22nd birthday on the last day of this year, December 31. His mother must have wondered if she was to have a New Year's baby when he was born in 1982. That's the same year as your big brother John. Specialist Clary had a girlfriend, but they hadn't married yet and so that part of the story will never be known. What we do know is that he built a house before he left and that he loved to fish. He was a tall man who worked with his hands and he was good at most everything he did. He was excited for the future, but first he wanted to serve his country.

The second hero's name is Staff Sergeant Clinton Lee Wisdom. This hero just turned 39 in August. He was married and had three children who attended three different levels of school, namely: high school, middle school and elementary school just like our family. He also loved to fish even more than Specialist Clary, but he always took one of his children along so they could have 'quiet time' with dad. He wanted to run for mayor of his town once he returned to Kansas.

Both men had the job of leading convoys and protecting generals and other high ranking people so that they would be safe. This was a frequent mission to take several high ranking people to the American Embassy in the International Zone. A suicide bomber aimed a truck for the convoy and the VIP vehicles. These two soldiers placed their own vehicle between the suicide truck and the rest of the convoy to protect the riders. The truck detonated and instantly took these two soldiers away from this world. One of the men who was saved was appointed by President Bush and who is now returning to submit testimony before the U.S. Congress in Washington D.C. This high ranking man said that he owes his life to these two heroes and hopes that he can live to be worthy of the great sacrifice these two men made. I am sure that neither he nor the people with them that day will ever forget these two heroes.

Sooner or later all of us will pass on from this life, but those who willingly give their lives for others certainly are true heroes. Jesus once taught the world that, "Greater love hath no man that this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13. That is one way to know that these two men were real-life heroes.

We had a memorial this morning for these two heroes. You might think that Army soldiers are tough and don't need to have time for this. It is exactly the opposite sweethearts. We too, need time to grieve over the loss of friends and family. A British soldier played the bagpipes as we assembled for the service. The memorial stand had a pair of empty desert combat boots with M-16 rifles pointed down beside the shoes. Their Kevlar helmets were placed on top of the upturned rifles. The unit that lost the men was called to attention and then role call was made. Each man responded to their individual names. Only silence responded to the names of the fallen heroes. The names were called out three times according to custom before the name is marked as 'not present'. Shortly afterward, a wonderful trumpet played the mournful notes of "TAPS" while the entire unit saluted. Upon conclusion, each soldier in the entire unit then had a chance to march up to the temporary memorials and render one final salute to their dear friends. Some spent time on their knees in quiet remembrance of their friends. There were many tears among this 'band of brothers' today. Yes girls, soldiers cry too.

Within another week, there will be another similar memorial, back in the state of Kansas. The difference this time will be the individual families that will say, "Goodbye." Specialist Clary and his girlfriend and family along with the wife and children of SSG Wisdom and their close friends and family will say their final farewells. There will be a military funeral which includes a 21-gun salute. Once that is over, the respective families must then adjust their lives without their real heroes being with them anymore.

This is what we memorialize on Veteran's Day. We remember the sacrifice of the soldiers themselves along with their grieving families. These men were just two of the more than a thousand heroes who have been taken during this conflict. This is the day to also remember all wars that have been fought on behalf of our country. It is important that we remember who these heroes are and that they are not forgotten. It is not just words spoken softly on one day of the year, but that we remember each time we see the wonderful flags flying along the light poles in Greenwood. Each one helps us to remember others who are no longer with us to enjoy the freedom that was given to us as a gift from those who sacrificed earlier in our country's history.

I am nearing the end of my time here in Baghdad, Iraq and I am so looking forward to seeing you three as well as your brothers again and being together. I will give you extra hugs and kisses because I know that there are children who will not get them from their dad who was taken away on Monday.

Maybe we can visit the Soldier's and Sailor's memorial downtown Indianapolis and remember the other families and heroes so that they are never forgotten too.

Love you,

Papa


by John on Nov 18, 2004

November 15, 2004

Stories from the Front.

1. Not all the casualties are young soldiers. The Senior Leaders are dying, too.


In Iraq, CSM Faulkenburg conducted a combat patrol with every platoon in the task force. He followed the platoons through the orders process, rehearsals, precombat checks and inspections, execution, and AARs. He knew that was how he could best understand the strength and weaknesses of each platoon, its leaders, and Soldiers. Never backing down from a fight, Ramrod 7 was involved in Task Force 2-2’s first firefight in March 2004 on the day of the transfer of authority. CSM Faulkenburg lived for maintaining contact with the enemy once the snake raised his head. During the Battle of Muqdadiyah Market Place on 08 August 2004, he fearlessly roamed the battlefield. A soldier described him as, “the Robert Duvall character in Apocalypse Now” and he inspired those around him.

CSM Steve Faulkenberg, Ramrod 7, TF 2/2 Infantry, KIA 4 Nov 04.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

2. Payback is hell, motherf*ckers. Get some, Marines.

3. A little more payback. More of that good reporting from Toby Harnden I mentioned in an earlier post.

70 insurgents killed in mosque battle By Toby Harnden in Fallujah (Filed: 11/11/2004)

Fight for Fallujah

American troops scored one of their biggest successes in the battle for Fallujah when an estimated 70 foreign fighters were killed in a massive precision artillery strike on a building in a mosque complex.

Military intelligence officers were last night trying to confirm that a "high-value target" or HVT died in the attack. The man is suspected of being a key lieutenant of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the most wanted man in Iraq, and responsible for marshalling hard-line insurgence from other Arab countries.

The strike took place on Tuesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after the invasion of the rebel-held Sunni bastion began, after an Abrams tank commander from Phantom troop, part of the US Army's Task Force 2-2, observed large numbers of men converging on a building next to a mosque. "Guys with short brown hair, dark pants and carrying AK-47s were moving in groups of between two and five across the road to a yellow building," said Lt Neil Prakash, the tank commander.

"Then some started throwing Molotov cocktails and pouring gasoline on the road to create a smokescreen."

They apparently thought the smoke would obscure them from view.

Lt Prakash, whose call-sign is Red 6, observed the scene through the optical sight of his tank, 2,400 metres away in an "area of responsibility" or AOR covered by the 1st Company, 8th Marines, west of Task Force 2-2's AOR on the eastern edge of the city.

The constraints of firing into another AOR, where US marines might be operating, and the danger of damaging the mosque, which would have provoked outrage in the Arab world, meant attacking the building had to be authorised at a very senior level.

A Humvee from Phantom troop fitted with a Long Range Acquisition System (LRAS) was moved to within two kilometres of the mosque, well inside its maximum range of 15km, to get a second opinion on what was happening. "The strike was so sensitive that it took more than an hour to approve it," said Maj John Reynolds, operations officer for 2-2. "Normally it happens in minutes."

Lt Prakash was asked to provide a grid co-ordinate, accurate to within a metre, to minimise the chance of hitting the mosque, about 50 metres from the building.

At about 3pm, the higher authorisation came through and Lt Col Pete Newell, commanding 2-2 and with the call-sign Ramrod 6, gave the order to fire a barrage of 20 155mm high-explosive shells from howitzers about three miles away from the mosque.

Specialist James Taylor, manning the LRAS, watched the burst of shells hit.

"They landed on the left side of the building and I saw three bodies fly into the air," he said. "It was awesome."

Lt Prakash radioed that the rounds were right on target and requested 10 more to ensure maximum killing effect.

"One of the men was in a sniper position on the building," said Lt Prakash. "I saw him fall off, hit the ground and bounce up. There were about five bodies that went three, four, five storeys up in the air. I'd already counted between 40 and 50 men going into that building. There were men running out, coughing and doubling over. The second lot of rounds took them out and all those who had been crossing the road.

It is believed that Task Force 2-2 hit fighters gathered to discuss how to retreat after US forces had pushed the insurgents down from the north and in from the east.

Mobile phone intercepts and reports from Iraqi informants suggested there were 70 gunmen in the building and indicated that the very senior Zarqawi lieutenant had perished. A final assessment on who died has yet to be made.

"We are hearing reports saying that the enemy is withdrawing to a central place for a final stand," said Maj Reynolds. "It's like a Gettysburg. We have urrounded the whole area."

Make it like the Germans in the Falaise Gap, or Stalingrad. The French at Dien Bien Phu. The Romans at Cannae. Too much of the Army of Northern Virginia escaped from that crossroads in Pennsylvania.

That is some fine soldiering going on there.

4. Now let's let the Marines have their turn - and pay attention any moonbats - look at how hard we are trying to make sure that the only dying is being done by bad guys.

The Watchdogs of Fallujah

From: Bing West

Subject: If a "Muj" Blinks, the Marines of VMU-1 See It

Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2004, at 11:34 AM PT

In a small ops center inside a tent, a dozen Marines peered at two 26-inch flat-panel displays. On the screens, the black edges of the hospital roof stood out in sharp contrast to the white thistle clumps of palm trees in the courtyard below. A line of white ghosts snaked around the trees and flowed onto the roof.

"Those guys are wearing packs. They're friendlies," Lt. Col. John Neumann, the mission commander, said. "It's the 36th Iraqi commandos."

"Concur," said Lt. J.P. Parchman, the watch officer. "The movement's too disciplined to be muj."

A few miles away in Fallujah, Operation Phantom Fury had commenced at dark on Nov. 8. Inside the tent, the Marines of unit VMU-1, which flies the Pioneer Unmanned Aerial Vehicle or UAV, were looking at video taken from the UAV by a Forward-Looking Infra-Red (or FLIR) camera. The pictures were bright as day.

"The raiding party wants us to scan across the river," Cpl. Robert Daniels said, reading a chat-room message that had popped up on his computer monitor. "Someone's firing."

"Take us east," Neumann said over his shoulder. "Shift from white-hot to black-hot."

Behind him, the pilot of the UAV adjusted the flight path as his partner tightened the zoom on the plane's camera. The images on the screen jumped slightly and focused on two black spots hopping from place to place behind an earthen berm.

"I confirm weapons," said Sg. Jenifer Forman, an imagery analyst. "Watch their right arms when they run. They're shooting across the river."

When the black spots bobbed together, the screen suddenly bloomed white, then settled back into focus, showing a thick gray cloud and a scattering of small black spots, like someone in the cloud had thrown out a handful of rocks.

"Tank gun got them," Neumann said. "Picked them up on their thermals. They're scratched. Scan up the street."

The camera tracked up a wide, empty boulevard bordered by ramshackle warehouses, tin-roof repair shops, and dingy apartment buildings. Four dark spots—presumably insurgents—were splayed against one corner of a large concrete building, with three similar spots on the other corner

"One's lying down," Neumann said. "They're manning a crew-served weapon pointed at the bridge. Tell Fusion we have targets for Basher."

Neumann's VMU unit flew the UAVs and analyzed the video for targets but rarely communicated directly with the shooters. Matching targets to shooters was the specialty of the Fusion Center located on the other side of Fallujah. There a staff pulled together information from Marines on the front lines, UAVs, electronic intercepts, agent reports, and other sources. The Fusion Center compiled target lists, tracked battle damage, prioritized targets, and assigned shooters.

Cpl. Daniels typed in and sent the center a grid location accurate within a few meters. The center sent a one-line response: Basher on the way. Marines doing various chores around the op center stopped what they were doing and clustered behind the screens. A minute went by. The four dark spots moved slightly but stayed in the shadow of the building next to the street. On the screen a ball of black hit the edge of the building, sending black chunks flying out. Another black ball and another and another, enveloping the dark spots crouched along the side of the building.

"Basher," an Air Force AC-130 aircraft, had illuminated the ambushers with its huge infrared spotlight and was pounding them with 105 mm artillery shells, each round packing 50 pounds of high explosives. Gray smoke rose from the scene.

"Watch for squirters," Neumann said. "There's one now, heading north. Stay with him."

A black spot broke out of the smoke. Against the background of the macadam on the street, the man's silhouette stood out plainly. He was running with the speed of a sprinter.

"Ten to one he's headed for the mosque up the street,'" Neumann said.

"Same as always," Lt. Parchman said as he watched the runner climb over a wall. "He's made it. Can't hit him there."

The camera tracked back to the damaged building. Basher had moved on to another target. The Pioneer UAV circled the building to assess battle damage. A large door in the back of the building slid open and two men ran around the side and quickly returned, dragging something behind them. The Marines watched as this was repeated a few times.

"Are they carrying a heavy weapon or a body part?" a Marine asked.

"Don't know. We can confirm four down, though," Lt. Parchman said. "Mark this as a safe house. We'll come back later for a relook."

The Pioneer flew on for a look along the river's edge. The "Watchdogs," as the Marine UAV crew called themselves, were the scouts out in front of the troops assaulting Fallujah. It was impossible for the insurgents to move out of doors without being seen and tracked.

"Those muj are out there to kill our soldiers or Marines," Lt. Col. Neumann said. "We're in here to find them so our shooters kill them first."

Bing West is a former Marine who is writing a book about Fallujah. This is his fifth trip to Iraq. His writings can be found at www.westwrite.com.

This is one of the enabling technologies that make this fight so much different from Mogadishu, much less Hue, Seoul, Stalingrad...


11/06/04 - Spc. William Pasiechnik with 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, launches an unmanned aerial vehicle, known as the Raven, to locate insurgents attacking Patrol Base Uvanni in Samarra, Iraq.


Meanwhile... back at home - the Marines are disrupting the fun of anti-war protestors... hee hee hee. Good job, Smash!


by John on Nov 15, 2004
» The Jawa Report links with: US Warplane Shot Down by Terrorists Identified

November 14, 2004

Monteith provides this dope about the Ferret.

You asked, Monteith answers. Between the two of us, we have the makings of a pretty good museum! Bring in Chris, and heck, we could probably make money!

Where do I start...

The Daimler Ferret is an outgrowth of the WWII Daimler Dingo and Daimler Armored car. The Dingo, being a LMG (light machine gun) armed scout car (2 man crew, 3 tons, wireless set, etc) and the Daimler Armored car being a 'wheeled light tank' as the role was envisioned at the early stage of it's design.

The Dingo came first and was used by the BEF in France. It was a purpose-built vehicle with a chassis and drive line arrangement built for war from the start vs a civilian light truck chassis being adapted by fitting an armored body (ala the Humber Light Recce cars or earlier Lanchester/Rolls/Crossley armored cars). The power plant was a Daimler 2.5 liter straight 6 engine driving through a fluid coupling, Wilson pre-selector gearbox and separate transfer box for forwards and reverse capability. Thus the vehicle had 5 gears forwards and reverse (get out of trouble as fast as you get into it, you know).

The Daimler Armored car was largely an expansion of the existing Daimler Dingo chassis to a 7 ton size and with a 3 man crew. The armament was a 2 pounder (40mm) AT gun and a coaxial BESA 7.92mm MG. There was also a Bren LMG for AA and close in defense work plus personal weapons. The Daimler armored car had a similar drive line to that of the Dingo including the 5 speeds forwards and reverse but instead had a larger 4.5 liter engine.

At war's end the Daimler Dingo and Armored Cars soldiered on, but around the end of the 40's a replacement was sought. The Ferret was an expansion of the basic design with some refinements and a larger engine. Daimler was approached to carry out the development of the prototype and production after the prototypes were approved. There were two main variants, a liaison vehicle that had no turret (pintle-mounted MG) and a scout version that had a 1 man manually traversed turret containing a MG. The drive line was just as similar as it's two predecessors, just updated in a few areas for details and easier servicing. The engine in this case being a 4.25 liter straight 6 Rolls Royce design.

All three vehicles have an individual drive shaft running to each wheel station allowing a lower overall profile as there is less requirement to fit crew and other kit above a large front and rear mounted differential. The transfer box is what contains the differential. The two WWII era Daimlers have standard frames with the armored bodies fitted to them whereas the Ferret has the drive line components directly mounted within a monocoque body(meaning the body is built to be a single unit), this allows a low height, but increases noise as the drive shafts and other running gear are with in the enclosed space of body with the crew. Power is transmitted to the 4 wheels which have reduction gearing in the hubs for a lower amount of torque exerted on the drive shafts for a correspondingly higher amount of torque where the rubber meets the road.

Normal crew is 2 men for the scout car version and 2-3 for the liaison version. Internal stowage arrangements are dependent on which role the vehicle is assigned. Wireless sets were standard kit with 2 sets and an intercom component as part of the radio sets. Early ferrets used WS 19 sets with WS 88's for liaison with infantry units. Later on they used the Larkspur series C42/45 and B47/48 depending on arm of service. Ferrets in the 80s used the Clansman series of radios and intercom sets.

The Ferret had two larger siblings for the heavy armored car role and wheeled APC (armored personnel carrier) role. Those being the Saladin and Saracen. The Saladin and Saracen have 6x6 arrangements that follow the ferret's configuration with individual drive shafts for each wheel station. The Saracen swapped the engine from the rear to front for reasons of easy debussing (dismounting, 'un-assing' in US miltary parlance) by the PBI (Poor Bloody Infantry) carried in the back area.

As John stated in comments, the Ferrets were built from '53 to '71 and were used up through the first Gulf War. The British used them everywhere their forces needed reconnaissance and scouting including, Cyprus, Northern Ireland, Germany, Aden, North Africa and Southeast Asia. Several Commonwealth nations also operate Ferrets to this day. The last Ferrets were disposed of following the Gulf War and make a very good choice for wheeled armor by the average collector. Prices range from $10K up in the US.

Photo's of all three are available here.

Plus details and movies of the Daimler Armored
car are at this place.

There is also a parallel set of movies on the Humber Armored Car.

Photos (with lots of interior shots) of Monteith's Ferret, as well as some of the more interesting vehicles that took part in the Veteran's Day parade are available here.

Oh, and did I mention... I WANT ONE!

by John on Nov 14, 2004

November 03, 2004

The end of a sad little sidebar in history.

From Strategy Page (and other places):

November 3, 2004: U.S. Army Sergeant Charles Jenkins, who deserted to North Korea in 1965, and was finally allowed to leave earlier this year, has been court-martialed by the U.S. Army. He admitted his guilt and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, reduction in rank to private, forfeiture of all back pay and a dishonorable discharge. Jenkins is 64 years old, in poor health, and will go to live with his Japanese wife (who was kidnapped by the North Koreans 25 years ago) and two daughters in Japan.

Justice was served - though I think we could skip the jail time at this point. Having sat on Courts-Martial panels, I know why they did it. Let Mr. Jenkins fade back into obscurity. He can always petition President Bush to get the same treatment Jimmy Carter gave the Vietnam-era deserters.

On this day in 1783, the Continental Army was disbanded, except for a Lieutenant and some soldiers to "guard the stores at West Point," then just a fort and arsenal, the Academy being a few years in the future. That Lieutenant and his men were the soldiers of Alexander Hamilton's company (yes, company, not battery) of artillery, the New York Provincial Artillery Company, which survives to this day, as Delta Battery, 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery, 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Infantry Division. This unit is the oldest continuously serving unit in the United States Army. As distinct from numerous units with longer lineages in the Army of the United States (the legal distinction between the Regulars and the National Guard and Reserve) who can trace their lineages back to the founding of their colonies. They are the only company-level unit to have their own color (flag) as opposed to a guidon.

In 1862, Dr. Richard Gatling patented his famous gun. Still available, too.

In 1957, the Russians murder the dog Laika, launching her into space on Sputnik 2, knowing she wasn't going to survive the trip. Bastards. She deserved better.

In 1979, the Iranians take 63 Americans hostage, effectively setting up Jimmy Carter for failure as a President. Gotta give 'em credit, though. We didn't get them back in pieces, unlike certain Islamic fundamentalists we know.

I'll close for the day with this picture of soldierly life. Y'all who know, know.


by John on Nov 03, 2004

November 02, 2004

Another Good Day.

If you can't be at home, you should at least be able to immerse yourself in cool stuff!

The Armorer

Had

Another

Good

Day.

Heck, how can't they be good - with the crackle of musketry as new soldiers learn to shoot just across the street... young soldiers all around you, doing soldierly things.

Airborne trainees dropping off the 250 foot towers...

Slamming into the berm of the 34 foot towers.

Learning to do proper PLFs (Parachute Landing Fall) in the sheds.

What's not to like?


And you know - you know! You always wanted to know what a "Stand of Arms" was. There is a technical definition, having to do with numbers and stuff - but here's a visual that will make it all clear.

by John on Nov 02, 2004

Some more Andersonville...

Andersonville is, appropriately, also the home of the National POW Museum.

Save the Holocaust museums I have visited, this is possibly the most depressing... especially the initial entryway (past the atrium, in the museum proper) showing the footage of POWs and the treatment they received at the hands of their captors - with voiceovers from actual POWs, telling their stories.

Not surprisingly, most of that, though certainly not all, is from Vietnam vets, with sprinklings from Korea and World War II.

When you vote today, if you are undecided yet, consider who gave aid and comfort to the North Vietnamese, and measureably made the lives of the POWs worse. I can forgive Jane Fonda quicker than I can John Kerry. He betrayed his brothers-in-arms, Jimmy Carter's likely rehab of Kerry's discharge notwithstanding. The government has forgiven John Kerry. We'll find out today whether or not the Nation has (or cares about 30 years ago). Even should he sit in the Oval Office, I will not forgive. Doesn't mean I won't continue to well and faithfully serve, as my oath demands - but I will not forgive.

tyrants.gif

Senator McCain may have chosen to forgive, that is his right.

I do not.

by John on Nov 02, 2004

November 01, 2004

This may lose a few readers...

...but the Armorer doesn't care. All ya'all ain't payin' a dime for this place.

The Andersonville post touched a few nerves. Some comments and emails just flat stomped on the Armorers remaining nerve. Lucky for the posters/mailers, the Armorer isn't suffering from gout at the moment, or he'd really tear some new assholes.

Let's get something out in the open about the Armorer.

1. He's eligible for membership in the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Hell, he's eligible for membership in the Sons of the Revolution, too. The Armorer is named after a member of the Orphan Brigade. He honors his great-grandfather's service, he does not honor the Lost Cause - even though he is a Federalist at heart, he is, after all a retired Federal.

2. He's not a member. Of either organization. There are reasons for that.

3. He thinks the correct side won the war. He is aware that by the United State's own posturings in the last 100 years, that the Federal Government, to be totally consistent, would have to condemn it's armed resistance to secession. He also notes that Jimmy Carter also feels that way about the Republic in general, given his recent comments on the Revolution. He just throws that in there because, well, because.

4. He understands the 'State's Rights' arguments about the causes of the war. Tough noogies. The war's over, you lost. Be careful what you wish for. If you demand a return to the Status Quo Ante Bellum, because you think the war was un-Constitutional, let us read your blogposts regarding the return of the Southwest to Mexico. Regardless of how you personally feel about how war aims evolved, for whatever reasons they evolved so - on 1 January 1863, the war became about slavery, and as far as the Armorer is concerned, that trumps. Yes, the Armorer *is* aware that the Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to Northern states. Really. The Armorer does have some background in the reading of history. Honest. No, he's not really interested in re-hashing the war here, this ain't a Civil War roundtable, which tend to be more war, less civil, unless everyone supports one side.

5. The Armorer is not interested in listening to diatribes about how Abe Lincoln botched the war, made mistakes, caused evil things to happen, etc - coming from the same mouths that mount defenses against the same charges laid against President Bush. Think that through, people. Some internal consistency helps produce regular bowel movements.

6. The Armorer also doesn't care for waking up in the morning while TDY away from Wife, Critters, Hearth, and Guns to read email just breathlessly scoring points for the South, directly or indirectly chiding the Armorer regarding the Eeeevils of the North. The Armorer is perplexed. And a little annoyed. And no, the comments you see on that post are the ones that survived the Armorer's wrath, either for not offending, or as an instructive lesson.

a. The post was about Andersonville. Not "Civil War Prison Camps I Have Known, With Peculiar Emphasis on Southern Atrocity at the Expense of a Balancing Look At Northern Atrocity. Nope. It said Andersonville.

b. The Armorer is wordy enough, without turning into DenBeste. Since the Armorer can't produce the quality of DenBeste, the Armorer does not attempt to be DenBeste. Or Wretchard at Belmont Club.

7. The Armorer also wishes people would Read before hitting Post. This includes their own writing. The shade of Stonewall opined thusly:

Unfortunately the South couldn't support its own armies and its treatment of POWs while poor cannot be compared to the North's deliberate mistreatment of the POWs it held. The North deliberately starved its POWs for which there is no defense. A comparison of mortality rates between both sides prisoners rasies numerous questions. A point you fail to bring out in the article is the kangaroo trial held against Wirtz for his supposed crimes.

The Armorer responds thusly. Gee, Genr'l, the opening paragraph said:

Andersonville sucked. In 1864 the war was not going well for the Confederacy. Grant and Sherman were starting the long grind that would end the war a year later, and the pressure on Confederate resources was high. To relieve some of the pressure on the Army of Northern Virginia, both in terms of security and food supplies, the Confederate government moved the Union prisoners of war from the Richmond area to other camps in the south, establishing a new one, that would be the largest of them, at Camp Sumter, near Andersonville, Georgia. The intent was also to get Union prisoners nearer to food supplies as well, though in the event... that didn't happen.
Emphasis added.

That answers the General's first sentence. The second sentence... the post said Andersonville. People come here to read, but not read books. I chose to stick to my subject. I don't mind the commentary that attempts to 'balance' the story - but I do object to commentary that ignores what I said to make points. If the North did, indeed, deliberately starve prisoners, that is Bad. Whether on the initiative of local commanders, or, worse, as Policy. However, the Armorer wasn't talking about Northern prison camps, and didn't feel the need to expand the post to make Everybody Happy. Though, ironically, he finds himself doing so here, to make a point about whingeing moonbats. (Who don't provide contact info, either.)

Regarding mortality rates, the Armorer spake thusly:

To be fair, Northern POW camps weren't always a lot better, having mortality rates comparable to most southern camps, in the mid-teens.

General Jackson may not care for the "weren't always" qualifier, but the Armorer made note that Union Camps were not much better than Southern. The camps for which the Armorer has data, from which he based his commentary, are:

In the South:

Andersonville: 45,000 prisoners, 12,920 deaths. 29%
Florence, SC: 18,000 prisoners, 2,802 deaths. 16%
Salisbury, NC: 15,000 prisoners, 3,649 deaths. 24%

Total: 78,000 prisoners, 19,371 deaths, 24.8%

In the North:

Camp Douglas, Ill: 30,000 prisoners, 4,454 deaths 15%
Rock Island, Ill: 12,409 prisoners, 1,960 deaths. 16%
Elmira, NY: 12,123 prisoners, 2,963 deaths. 24%
Camp Morton, IN: 12,082 prisoners, 1763 deaths. 15%
Johnson's Island (a comparative paradise, apparently) 12,000 prisoners, 221 deaths. 2%

Total: 78,614 prisoners, 11,361 deaths. 14.4%

Since Johnson's Island is such a rarity (and I'm not taking the time to research it this morning - for all I know it was only open a month) let's strip it out.

Total: 66, 614 prisoners, 11140 deaths. 16.7%

The Armorer is still thinking, on average, he would rather have been a prisoner of the North, than of the South.

The Armorer also covered that here, in a way:

Andersonville also shows the downside of being a prisoner from a winning Army... many times your own side's military success weighs heavily against you.

As for the Ghost of Lee's Right Arm's last virtual calumny - he either didn't read or chose to ignore the following:

The commander of the inner camp, Captain Henry Wirz, was arrested and tried for "conspiring with high Confederate officials to impair and injure the health and destroy the lives...of Federal prisoners" and "murder, in violation of the laws of war." The conspiracy never existed, but in the anger and indignation over the conditions of Andersonville, a military tribunal found Wirz guilty, and he was hanged on November 10, 1865. This was, in all probablilty, a miscarriage of justice.

The Armorer begins to see, General, how, at least in this avatar, you stumbled into your own troops and got shot. (With apologies to the real General Jackson).

Ya wanna piss on the Armorer's boots - you should at least read what the Armorer writes, and not just go into a howling moonbat frenzy. The Armorer wakes up grumpy and under-appreciative of your nuanced parsings of his musings when you are a whingeing drum-beater who does not read what is said, but just angles off on a rant. The good General's response was the best of the rest - so you shouldn't ascribe my vitiriol entirely to his post.

The Armorer was writing about Andersonville - and was as sympathetic to the Southern government as the facts at his command, and his personal experiences of command and war allowed. Offering up illuminating commentary is fine. Just try to pay attention to what's said, not what your predjudices in the matter scream in your ear.

/rant

by John on Nov 01, 2004

October 23, 2004

Kewl.

This is kewl on several levels. It's a joint and combined op (Joint means multi-service, Combined means multinational). Brit Infantry, US Air Force Spectres. (We spell Spectre the way the Brits like, too).

THEY called it “Spectre baiting”. Sergeant Craig Brodie, 33, sensed his men’s nervousness in the grim little joke as their Warrior armoured vehicle crawled down a darkened street in the southern Iraqi city of Amara. They were keyed up for action and concentrating for all they were worth.

Lurking in the shadows ahead was a group of rebel gunmen from the Mahdi army of Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shi’ite cleric. Brodie’s job was to lure them into the open so an AC-130 Spectre gunship overhead could destroy them with its cannons and howitzers.



The rebels would show themselves only if they were attacking the British Warrior, so it was no surprise to Brodie that the atmosphere in the vehicle was tense.

By contrast, the American voice in his earphones could not have been cooler. “Steel rain on call,” drawled the controller of the US special forces gunship circling in the starry night sky and waiting for the moment to strike.

There was a pause as the Warrior edged forward. Then the controller, codenamed Basher 75, came back on the radio. Six to eight armed men had been spotted with the Spectre’s night vision equipment. They were preparing to ambush.

What's the other kewl thing about it? Given how the Brits used Commonwealth Troops in the Boer War and WWI - now they are getting the kinds of jobs that used to be reserved for Aussies and Canadians. Ya think I'm making this up? Go do a little reading and see how the Aussies and Kiwis strove to keep their troops under national commanders - even through the fighting in the Western Desert during WWII. They were living the lessons of the previous two wars - when Brits get casualty-shy, they had a tendency to send in the Colonials. This time they're 'going in.'

Colonel Matt Maer, of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (PWRR), had given special written authorisation for the Spectre to open fire even if his own troops were within the potential blast area. This was to be the first such “danger close” engagement signed off by a British commander since the Korean war.

Things are different now - but this does have a nice little whiff of metaphorical grapeshot to find Brits in this position.

It also speaks volumes to their trust in us - trust we'll have to work to maintain!

Read the whole story here. It's worth it. Hat tip to JMH for sending it along.

by John on Oct 23, 2004
» links with: Ghost Riders In The Sky

October 06, 2004

Oh, yeah. I remember this..

The Last Hurrah of the Sherman Tank.

Photo from David Pride's website.
31 years ago today, the Arabs massed again to smash Israel. 30 years and 49 weeks ago, the Israelis were shelling Damascus and poised to move on Cairo, until the the US and Russia intervened with their respective interests to prevent what started out as (at least) Egypt's finest military moment last century turning into another humiliating defeat on the scale of the 6-Day War in 1967.

The Yom Kippur War started 31 years ago today. Tell me again why we are always so hand-wringy over Muslim sensitivity to Ramadan, given their government's 'sensitivity' to other religions observances? Is that an unfair question to ask?

My favorite book on the subject of the October War is Avigdor Kahalani's Heights of Courage, his memoirs of the Battle of the Golan Heights.

by John on Oct 06, 2004

September 28, 2004

In history today...

In some respects, not a lot of good news today.

1066 William the Conqueror lands in England. England suffers her last successful invasion (not counting all those Over-Paid, Over-Sexed, and Over-Here Yanks during WWII) by a foreign power. (cool website, btw)

1781 Siege of Yorktown begins, the last major battle of Revolutionary War. Wherein we learn that we, too, can fight wars like the British, i.e., lose a huge chunk of the battles - but win the right ones, usually the ones at the end.

1850 Congress outlaws flogging in the Navy and Merchant Marine. Seems kinda late, doesn't it?

1901 Balangiga, Samar: 48 of 78 men of Co. C., 9th Inf killed by Filipino insurgents. There was another long quagmire that turned out alright in the end. I had a relative in this war. Not this fight (he wasn't in the direct line, so it wouldn't have mattered...) Another example of asymetric warfare and a weaker foe adapting to overcome weakness. In the long run, it didn't matter - but it did serve to make the war that much uglier.


1922 Fascist "March on Rome". Il Duce' starts his road to ruin.

1939 Hitler-Stalin Pact, two butchers agree to divide up Europe. Much woe to Poland and the world.

Hat tip: Strategy Page!

by John on Sep 28, 2004

September 20, 2004

The Lord of the Rings, part Deux.

Via Northwest Winds I find myself at Aaron the Liberal Slayer's recasting of Lord of the Rings. Thanks for the cartoon, Curt - and the Lord of the Rings, Aaron!

Bilbo: Bush 41 - for starting something he couldn't finish and his (effective) son had to do it. Oops. I see Juliette beat me to it.

Pippin - Prime Minister John Howard of Australia.
Merry - Joe Lieberman/Zell Miller

Faramir - I can live with Aznar.

by John on Sep 20, 2004

September 18, 2004

Operation Market-Garden (A Bridge Too Far)

Yesterday marked the 60th anniversary of the airborne drops on Nijmegen, Eindhoven, and Arnhem, in Montgomery's attempt to turn the German flank on the Rhine and drive into the industrial heartland of the Third Reich. The 40th anniversary in 1984 fell in the midst of Exercise Atlantic Lion, which was the tactical exercise component of REFORGER (the big trans-Atlantic reinforcement exercises that practiced the US reinforcement of NATO. REturn of FORces to GERmany. REFORGER, possibly more than anything else, gave us the logistics base and planning experience that enabled us to pull off Desert Storm). I was a controller for that exercise, I believe it was the 1st Cavalry Division that was the deploying unit. The tactical assembly areas were in Holland, centered all around the Market-Garden area (not hard, really, since all of Holland was Market-Garden territory). I got to meet MG John Frost, on his bridge. Fascinating conversation about that, and about the Falklands, which he had just written his book about (2 Para Falklands).

This year the Dutch are going all out, apparently. I get the impression it is to be the last 'big official' commemoration, or something. All I know is I wish I was there to see it.

"For Us, They Are Heroes!"

I was reminded by this email I got today from a frequent European visitor to the Castle:

Hi John

Should have added this to the previous mail... you're
probably well aware that the 60th anniversary of
Market Garden is currently going on in Holland.

I was unfortunately unable to go this time, but my
husband is there and will likely take part in one of
the jumps. I was there 4 years ago and compared to
this year, it was probably a small affair.

At the time I was very new to the military. My future
husband was travelling there from the US and I was
meeting him there. But I must say, I was overwhelmed
by it all. I had never expected to see so many people,
Dutch people, gathered to watch the jumps and the
ceremony. I had never expected Oosterbeek to somehow
go back in time to 1944: jeeps in the streets, other
old cars, the old uniforms, even the Dutch people had
reverted to period clothes. It created a unique
atmosphere and you could really feel that the Dutch
have not forgotten what the Allies did for them. I
also had the great honour of meeting some British
veterans.

It was a unique, unforgettable experience. Even more
so because my father's family was at the time in
Holland and close to starving. My grandfather was not
allowed to work (he was of German origin but had left
Germany before the war) and my grandmother had to give
Russian lessons to enable the family to survive. My
father still talks about the tulip bulp soup they ate,
the coal he sometimes used to steal from the Germans
and the constant fear of the Nazis they lived with.
The last gift my grandfather made to my father was
Cornelius Ryan's A Bridge too far.

I am glad that my fellow Dutchmen have not forgotten.

Claudia

I asked for permission to use the note, and got this response (the city reference involves my 10 ten favorite European cities)

John

Sure..go ahead :) I would like people to know that not
all Europeans have forgotten. And I am upset that
Geneva doesn't figure on your top 10. Is it because
it's too close to France ?

Claudia


by John on Sep 18, 2004
» Ghost of a flea links with: Winston, No. 11
» Brain Shavings links with: Away boarders!

September 12, 2004

Interesting Day in History.

Born

1818 Richard Jordan Gatling, weapons designer
1913 Jesse Owens, who spoiled Hitler's Olympics

Event

490 -BC- Athenians defeat Persian invasion of Greece at Marathon
1683 Polish King Jan Sobieski lifts Turkish siege of Vienna. Probably ought to re-think those Polish jokes.

1818 Richard J Gatling invents a revolving machine gun (not that one, this is just the Ultimate Expression!), thus enabling the creation of Dusty's mount!

1938 Hitler demands self-determination for Sudeten Germans in
Czechoslovakia - one last chance for Appeasement to work. It didn't.

1990 US, Britain, France, and the USSR agree to let the two Germany's
merge
- WWII is finally over, and the Cold War soon to follow.

Hat tip: Strategy Page.

by John on Sep 12, 2004

August 31, 2004

Soldiers Must Be Warriors

New AAR (Unclas, of course) from the Sandbox.

This is 4th ID's latest Lessons Learned document coming out of OIF. The first one, covering their actions during the Major Combat Operations phase and right after, is here.

There is some Good Stuff in here, though the cynical among you will go "D-uh, dudes. It was self-evident from the time Moses soldiered..."

For those of you who have been soldiering long enough to remember what it's like not to be in An Army At War, there are some satisfying observations in here. Like this (which some of us trained our soldiers as all along - but was tough in an Army Not At War...:

Soldiers must be Warriors. This does not mean all Soldiers must be infantrymen - a unique core competency.

If the commander of the 507th Maintenance Company and his senior commanders had held this as a core value - we might never have heard of Jessica Lynch, and the Captain commanding might have a Bronze or Silver Star for fighting through the ambush - thus qualifying him for the Presidency on a Democratic Party ticket...

Another good little snippet:

Creating combined arms synergy requires tactical rather than technical solutions.

Amen! Tech should enable, not supplant. Too often weak commanders want it as a crutch, not a tool. Some people, like JD Mays at An Army of One, have been all over the Services for not procuring and developing tech to defeat IEDs. JD is correct - they should, and are. But more important, is how do you adapt and use the tools at your disposal, and invent new ones within the scope of your immediate assets to address the issue while the tech is developed? Too many people sit on their butt waiting on the boffins. Good commanders know that many of the tools and skills are already there - either in the force, or in the history of the force. Take IEDs and counterfire as an example, like this slide shows.

To view the whole thing, click here to go to the album. While in the album, if you click on idividual slides, they will pop-up in an easier to read form. These are jpgs. If you would like it in powerpoint, email me at armorer (at) thedonovan.com and I will send it along.


August 24, 2004

In history today...

Some days are diamonds.

End Of Party Rule

By the end of August 1991 , Boris Yeltsin stood at the podium inside the White House and declared, "I am now signing a decree suspending the activities of the Russian Communist Party!" Even Communist-run newspapers such as Pravda were temporarily suspended. Gorbachev followed his actions by issuing decrees to end Communist Party rule. These decrees dissolved the party's structure of committees and policymaking bodies, which included the Central Committee. Archives of the Party and the KGB were seized. In addition, the government confiscated all the Party's assists and property throughout the country.

Some days are stones.

Meanwhile, the British had blockaded all our ports along the Atlantic coast, and had plundered and burned a number of towns. Later in the summer (1814) they entered Washington. (Map, p. 203.) President Madison fled in one direction; Mrs. Madison, filling her workbag with silver spoons, fled in another. The President's dinner, which had just been served, was captured and eaten by the enemy. After dinner, Admiral Cockburn, the English commander, and his officers, paid a visit to the House of Representatives. Springing into the Speaker's chair, he cried out, "Shall this harbor of Yankee democracy be burned?" There was a general shout of "Aye!" "Aye!" The torch was applied, and soon the evening sky was red with the glare of the flames, which consumed the Capitol, the President's house, and other public buildings. A recent English historian says of that deed, "Few more shameful acts are recorded in our history; and it was the more shameful in that it was done under strict orders from the government at home."

There are some, I suspect, on the fringes of either party, who would gladly join the cries of "Aye" when their party is not in power. Sadly, I think that particular rot goes further in the Democratic Party than the Republican.

One wonders when the Democrats are going to realize that being tough on National Defense, and stop trying to disarm the populace, would give them a virtual lock on electoral politics in this country?

If they would just give up trying to take away guns, and "Talk softly and carry a big stick" in international arenas, they would win back a good chunk of the blue collar vote that now goes to Republicans, as the populist groups who like a lot of democrat economic policy but can't stand their otherwise wussy face would go back. I really think that.

John Kerry talks that way about defense, and he's been really pretty silent on guns - showing us he can trap shoot, and talking about hunting - while saying nothing on policy at all, except perhaps a pro forma regarding the AWB... his voting records speaks volumes about how he truly feels on those issues.

And I don't believe someone can change his spots that thoroughly, that fast - and if they can, I'm not sure I want them as President, which is just a whole different ball of wax than being an Executive, which Les Aspin learned the hard way - good legislator, crappy SecDef.

But I digress.

by John on Aug 24, 2004

August 23, 2004

Maintenance day, continued.

As mentioned earlier, yesterday was Maintenance Day at Castle Argghhh!, with much dusting, checking of rust-proofing, some rearranging, and, perhaps most importantly, some poking in long-overlooked corners.

One of those corners was the Ordnance Closet, wherein the Armory's store of artillery and tank projectiles, rockets and bombs, which are not normally on display out of space considerations (should we ever remember to buy lottery tickets and those, winning ones... watch out! Sadly, I doubt the Arsenal numbers any sugar-daddies or -mommas among it's readers). We were mildly distressed to find this, buried in the far-more-damp-than-I-realized corner of the closet. Looks like I need to either add a, or re-site the existing, de-humidifier.

So, as I was gonna hafta deal with it anyway, I decided it was time y'all learned more than you wanted to know about Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions - DPICM - which I will punish you with in the Flash Traffic.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Aug 23, 2004

August 19, 2004

Today in History

And this completes my Anglosphere trifecta, as I heap some lauds on the Canadians.

As far as the Germans are concerned...

damned if you do (Dieppe), damned if you don't (Stalingrad).

1942 Canadians take heavy casualties raiding Dieppe
1942 German Sixth Army ordered to capture Stalingrad

Dieppe, while an unmitigated disaster for the allied troops participating, was in fact not a wasted operation and useless expenditure of lives.

The attack upon Dieppe took place on August 19, 1942. The troops involved totaled 6,100 of whom roughly 5,000 were Canadians, the remainder being British Commandos and 50 American Rangers. The raid was supported by eight Allied destroyers and 74 Allied air squadrons (eight belonging to the RCAF). Major General J.H. Roberts, the Commander of the 2nd Canadian Division, was appointed Military Force Commander, with Captain J. Hughes-Hallett, R.N. as Naval Force Commander and Air Vice Marshal T.L. Leigh-Mallory as Air Force Commander.

The lessons learned there by the Allies (and the Germans, who learned the wrong ones) caused the postponement of the invasion, and a complete re-think of how to go about it... culminating in Overlord two years later.

By early afternoon, Operation Jubilee was over. Conflicting assessments of the value of the raid continue to be presented. Some claim that it was a useless slaughter; others maintain that it was necessary to the successful invasion of the continent two years later on D-Day. The Dieppe Raid was closely studied by those responsible for planning future operations against the enemy-held coast of France. Out of it came improvements in technique, fire support and tactics which reduced D-Day casualties to an unexpected minimum. The men who perished at Dieppe were instrumental in saving countless lives on the 6th of June, 1944. While there can be no doubt that valuable lessons were learned, a frightful price was paid in those morning hours of August 19, 1942. Of the 4,963 Canadians who embarked for the operation only 2,210 returned to England, and many of these were wounded. There were 3,367 casualties, including 1,946 prisoners of war; 907 Canadians lost their lives.

Stalingrad was an unmitigated disaster for the Germans, and all the troops participating - without any saving grace at all for the Germans, as Hitler learned nothing at all from it. Good thing for us.

Hat tip to Strategy Page for the reminder.

Go visit the websites of the Canadian units present at Dieppe:

The Royal Regiment of Canada
The Royal Highland Regiment of Canada
The South Saskatchewan Regiment.
Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
The Essex Scottish Regiment
Les Fusiliers Mont Royal
The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry
The Kings Own Calgary Regiment

Two of Canada's 16 WWII Victoria Crosses came from Dieppe:

Rev. John Weir Foote, the Royal Hamiltons
Lt. C ol. Charles Cecil Ingersoll Merritt, the South Saskatchewans.

by John on Aug 19, 2004

August 08, 2004

Today in history.

1945 Harry S Truman signs UN Charter - seemed like a good idea at the time.

1945 USSR declares war on Japan. A little late in the game, but they *were* busy trying to survive before. Of course it was less about helping take down Japan than it was about being in on the occupation and getting their tentacles into Asia.

1988 Russian troops begin pull out of Afghanistan after 9 year war. Cost us the '80 Olympics, but hey - it was worth it, right?

1990 Iraq annexes Kuwait. Oops. Betcha Saddam wishes he'd rethought that decision!


But my fave of the day is:

1918 Alvin York captures "the whole damned German Army" York's story is an encapsulation of early 1900s America.

by John on Aug 08, 2004

July 27, 2004

An email question turns into a post.

Sean asks:

Heya-

Been reading your blog for awhile now, and I love your weapon pics. So, I have two weapon questions for you that I haven't been able to find sufficient answers for.

1) The French Mitrailleuse- How did it work? I understand that it was loaded via a plate, and it had numerous barrels, but how did it fire? Some lithos I've seen show a crank in the rear, but ????

2) Cloth/Canvas belt ammo. How'd the feed work, how easy/hard was it to make. Why didn't it come around sooner. (Mind's eye- a belt-fed gatling in
1870)

Alrighty, let's give that a shot.


The Mitrailleuse: loaded by inserting cartridges into holes in a metal plate. Insert plate and lock. You are correct, there was a crank. BTW, mitrailleuse is the generic french word for machine gun - if you want to find out more about the M1870 gun, search for Reffye, the french Colonel who designed it.

The gun "barrel" was a casing for 25 rifle barrels around a common axis, like the Gatling, except the barrels don't rotate. The barrels were held together at intervals by wrought-iron plates. They were open at the breech, and a removable false breech (called a chamber) containing the firing mechanism and loaded cartridges was inserted. The chamber was held in the firing position by a strong screw resembling roughly those of contemporary breech-loading guns like those guns made by Armstrongs. It was a plate with 25 holes, which allowed the points of the strikers to pass through and reach the cartridge primers. The plate was turned by hand so that one striker was admitted at a time. To avoid any deflection of the bullet by the gases at an adjoining muzzle the barrels were fired in a staggered order. Each gun was provided with four chambers, which were loaded by a charger, and fixed to the breech one after the other as quickly as the manipulation of the screw allowed. The rates of fire were slow by our standards. Sustained, 3 chambers, or 75 shots a minute, and for rapid, 5 chambers or 125 shots per minute. Regular rifle bullets were used, but to enhance the case-shot/shrapnel effect a heavy bullet made of three parts, which broke apart when leaving the barrel, was introduced in 1870 at the rate of one round in nine. The weapon was sighted to 3000 meters. The initial velocity was 1558fps; and the weight of the gun about 800lbs, the carriage a little over that, with the total behind the team, fully combat-loaded, about 3000 lbs.

Probably more than you were after, eh?

Belt-feed. There you run into the genius of Hiram Maxim and John Browning. Simply put, somebody had to think of it. But, in order to think of it, you also had to have all the elements in place for it to be successful.

Making the feed mechanism wasn't that hard. Making it all work, was. First and foremost, in a sense, was cartridges. They had to be strong enough to resist crushing in the belt and going through the feed mechanism. That wasn't possible until fully drawn brass cases were perfected. Wrapped brass and paper or copper simply couldn't take the stress. The belt has to grip the cartridge tight enough to hold it, but not so tight that you can't extract the cartridge, or you tear off the base.

The mechanical guns were actually hard enough to fire using muscle power, especially as they fouled from powder residue, without adding the mechanical action of a belt puller and lifting the bullets into the mix. It really took Maxim and Browning's harnessing of recoil, in a straight line aligned with the axis of the barrel, to efficiently produce enough mechanical advantage to make it practical, and useful.

Don't underestimate creative inertia, as well. The Gatling was developed before strong cartridges were developed (the copper cartridges in play at the time were too fragile and short - drawing technology limited how long a case could be) and the initial loads were iron tubes. Subsequent development of the Gatling maintained the same gravity feed system as much because government, in it's normal peacetime penurious fashion, wanted to simply update the existing guns, and not buy a whole new technology.

In the meantime, Maxim, Nordenfeldt, Hotchkiss and Browning were hard at work with their designs, which pretty much obsoleted the Gatling until the high speed electric motors and steel belted links were revived in the form of the M61 guns from GE for aircraft.

The Gatling-style gun was developed into a belt-fed variety for Naval use however, especially by Nordenfeldt and Hotchkiss, where weight was not of the same level of consideration, and the guns were intended for defense against the new threats of torpedo boats and destroyers - before turning the barrels skyward for defense against aircraft.

That's my story - and I'm sticking to it - until someone barfs in the comments and quibbles with me... 8^)


by John on Jul 27, 2004

July 21, 2004

Ha-rumph!

1861 Battle of Bull Run/Manassas: Confederate Victory


Damn'd rebels.

by John on Jul 21, 2004

July 20, 2004

Today in History...

14:17:43 20 July 69:

"Houston, Tranquility Base here, the Eagle has landed."

20:56:15 20 July 69:

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
(click here for audio with Realplayer)

Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and "Buzz" Aldrin make good on the sacrifice of "Gus" Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee.

1969. What a year. Dad is in Vietnam, the Tet Offensive, Apollo 11, and I discovered that girls are, well, interesting.

NASA's official website.

Kinda fun.

And last, but not least - via the Ghost of a Flea, a "Hat Tip" to Dr. Aldrin, for his own feisty way of Dealing with Moonbats!

by John on Jul 20, 2004

July 19, 2004

Two Little historical nuggets.

1. Happy Birthday, Sam Colt!

2. "Peace Sign" my a$$. Let's take it back!

July 19, 1941- Winston Churchill flashes his "V for Victory" for the first time

IIRC (and I do), sometimes, it just takes time to finish kicking their a$$. Something that politicians used to understand...

You are supposed to lead, people, not follow. Following the polls is *not* what your job is supposed to be. Not really. And if you can truly lead, the polls will follow.

Hat tip: Strategy Page

by John on Jul 19, 2004
» Ghost of a flea links with: V for Victory

July 18, 2004

July 18, 1863

"The Fifty-fourth did well and nobly. . . .They moved up as gallantly as any troops could, and with their enthusiasm they deserved a better fate."

--Edward L. Pierce, correspondent for the New York Tribune,
to Governor John A. Andrew, July 22, 1863

With the publication of the Emancipation Proclamation on 1 January, 1863, President Lincoln opened the doors of the Army and Navy to black men, a key first step on the long road to formal acceptance of blacks as full and equal people. This post isn't to argue how far we've come or have to go - it's to honor the soldiers, black and white, who made a downpayment on that day in 1863.

There were doubts expressed that blacks could fight as well as whites. After the assault on Battery Wagner, those questions were laid to rest, along with 116 soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry.

Another milestone was passed that day - Sergeant William Carney became the first black soldier to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

You'll note I've said soldiers here, and mindful of the discussion of labels in posts below, I do have to make a distinction here. Blacks were allowed to be enlisted soldiers and non-commissioned officers, but the commissioned officers of the 54th were white. There's a long row to hoe before the services *truly* allowed blacks to take positions as commissioned officers and to fully command white troops, too. It would take a while to get to General Colin Powell.

Robert Gould Shaw, scion of Bostonian privilege, commanded the 54th Massachusetts from the time the regiment was raised, to the storming of the parapets of Battery Wagner.

He died at the head of his men. The odd thing is, the Confederates dumped his body into the mass grave with the rest of his soldiers, thinking they were insulting Colonel Shaw.

Where else would an officer *want* to be buried, if not with the men he led?

by John on Jul 18, 2004

July 09, 2004

Lets look at a cartridge, in detail, eh?

Click the picture for a hi-res view.

In this case, a Canadian-produced .577 cartridge for the Snider rifle. The Snider rifle is a transition rifle, the cartridge is a transition cartridge. The Sniders were the equivalent to the US Springfield Trapdoor or Austrian Werndl rifles, being a conversion of the muzzle-loading Enfield 3 Band musket and it's kin to a breech loading capability. The Snider had a 'flip-open' breechblock that opened to the side, the Trapdoor had a 'flip-up' action that opened upwards, the Werndl rolled to the side.

The cartridge represents the second generation of cartridges, when manufacturers were getting away from pin-fire and rim-fire to center-fire. This cartridge represents the bridge from the early systems to what we have today.

The details are in the Flash Traffic. Click on the thumbnails to open the slides and links - and I recommend you right-click and open them in a new window, so you can go back and forth.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Jul 09, 2004
» Les Jones Blog links with: Thursday Gun Links #25
» Les Jones Blog links with: Thursday Gun Links #25

LIttle tidbits of history today...

In 1900, Australia became a Commonwealth (I know, First Fleet is your "birthday," but heck, this seemed like a significant date, too).

In 1945, TF 38, with 20 carriers and associated vessels, arrived off of Japan, and wouldn't leave until the war was over - in August. 20 carriers! Man, what a sight that must have been. Even if today three carrier battle groups have about the same combat power...

To get a better sense of the mass of that shot - click here.

Here's a shot of TF38 at anchor in Ulithi prior to sailing for Japan. I count at least 6 carriers in the shot.

by John on Jul 09, 2004

July 07, 2004

More stuff I didn't know...

...but wish I had.

Scotty of Star Trek was an artilleryman. Hoo-ah! I knew he was smarter than Kirk, too. How anybody could have so many ships shot out from under him (and stolen out from under him, too) could keep getting commands is explainable in only one way - the Federation Navy valued seniority over competence.

Doohan was born on March 3, 1920, in Vancouver, British Columbia, and spent his early years in there and in Sarnia, Ontario. Surviving the anguish of living with an alcoholic father, he left home at age 19 to join the Canadian Forces, fighting with the Allies in World War II. After outscoring his fellow soldiers on an officer's exam, he became Captain in the Royal Canadian Artillery. While leading his men into battle on D-Day, Doohan was wounded in the leg and hand, and eventually lost a finger. For the remainder of the war, he became a pilot observer, and received the dubious distinction of being called the "craziest pilot in the Canadian Air Forces."

From the bio at Star Trek.com

Once again, I might as well just make this page a reflector of the Ghost of A Flea.

by John on Jul 07, 2004

July 06, 2004

Answer to the last challenge.

Well, hats off to Captain H of Her Majesty's Canadian Forces, who, using all the tools at his disposal, and while in the midst of a move, got the right answer, correct in all details.

Gunner, with a little coaching, got there too.

The fact that I set this up for a tanker, well, so some of ya don't need to feel bad ya didn't get it.

Guesses ranged from tripods to rifle bolts. Good guesses all.

Oh, yeah. The answer.

76mm TP-T HEAT round for the US M41 Walker Bulldog tank.

TP-T HEAT = Training Practice-Tracer High Explosive Anti-Tank. Guessing the weapon system (not a requirement, extra credit to CPT H) was made easy because the M41 tank was the only tank we had in service after Korea with a 76mm gun.

Here's a shot of the markings.

by John on Jul 06, 2004
» Les Jones Blog links with: Thursday Gun Links #25

July 03, 2004

Happy Independence Day!

I'm off to a family reunion. I'm taking a laptop because of possible business needs, but probably won't blog again until Monday. I'm sure there will be Good Stuff all over the 'sphere, just troll the blog roll. Start with Beth.

I'm going to leave you with these snippets of some of the most important words ever written (leaving out religious texts). Guess what, I *don't* think it's the UN Charter. The UN Charter exists, because these words below were written, and then believed in, by generations of Americans.

The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness...

Which led to this:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Which led to this:

"I, (state your name), having been appointed an officer in the (insert Armed Service), as indicated above in the grade of Second Lieutenant, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of The United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter. So help me God. "

Which led to this:

:

America's Wars: U.S. Casualties
and Veterans

American Revolution (1775–1783)

Total servicemembers

217,000

Battle deaths

4,435

Nonmortal woundings

6,188

War of 1812 (1812–1815)

Total servicemembers

286,730

Battle deaths

2,260

Nonmortal woundings

4,505

Indian Wars (approx. 1817–1898)

Total servicemembers

106,0001

Battle deaths

1,0001

Mexican War (1846–1848)

 

Total servicemembers

78,718

Battle deaths

1,733

Other deaths in service (nontheater)

11,550

Nonmortal woundings

4,152

Civil War (1861–1865)

 

Total servicemembers (Union)

2,213,363

Battle deaths (Union)

140,414

Other deaths in service (nontheater) (Union)

224,097

Nonmortal woundings (Union)

281,881

Total servicemembers (Conf.)

1,050,000

Battle deaths (Conf.)

74,524

Other deaths in service (nontheater) (Conf.)

59,2972

Nonmortal woundings (Conf.)

unknown

Spanish-American War (1898–1902)

 

Total servicemembers

306,760

Battle deaths

385

Other deaths in service (nontheater)

2,061

Nonmortal woundings

1,662

World War I (1917–1918)

Total servicemembers

4,734,991

Battle deaths

53,402

Other deaths in service (nontheater)

63,114

Nonmortal woundings

204,002

Living veterans

fewer than 500

World War II (1940–1945)

Total servicemembers

16,112,566

Battle deaths

291,557

Other deaths in service (nontheater)

113,842

Nonmortal woundings

671,846

Living veterans

4,762,0001

Korean War (1950–1953)

Total servicemembers

5,720,000

Serving in-theater

1,789,000

Battle deaths

33,741

Other deaths in service (theater)

2,827

Other deaths in service (nontheater)

17,730

Nonmortal woundings

103,284

Living veterans

3,734,0001

Vietnam War (1964–1975)

Total servicemembers

8,744,000

Serving in-theater

3,403,000

Battle deaths

47,410

Other deaths in service (theater)

10,789

Other deaths in service (nontheater)

32,000

Nonmortal woundings

153,303

Living veterans

8,295,0001

Gulf War (1990–1991)

Total servicemembers

2,183,000

Serving in-theater

665,476

Battle deaths

147

Other deaths in service (theater)

382

Other deaths in service (nontheater)

1,565

Nonmortal woundings

467

Living veterans

1,852,0001

America's Wars Total

Military service during war

42,348,460

Battle deaths

651,008

Other deaths in service (theater)

13,998

Other deaths in service (nontheater)

525,256

Nonmortal woundings

1,431,290

Living war veterans

17,578,5003

Living veterans

25,038,459

 

To which we add this: The New Fallen Heroes.

All of which is summed up in this:

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
-- Thomas Jefferson


Something the Left doesn't seem to understand, enamored as they are, of tyrants.

It ain't perfect, it's still growing, and it took the efforts of all of us to get where we are today - from the immigrants pushing across the wilderness, to the Robber Barons that spawned the modern left* - it took us all. And at one time or another, all of us, right, left, and in-between, have had our spell being an anchor, and not the sails.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Jul 03, 2004
» Dean's World links with: Independence Day

July 02, 2004

Viven-Bessiere Rifle grenade and launchers. Part 1

Nota Bene: this is a long one, and I've chopped it up into four parts.

Okay, as I have said before, people who are trying to kill you while you are trying to kill them suck. They’re supposed to just surrender, right? I mean, why can’t we all just get along – especially if you’ll do what I tell you! Anyway, once this whole blackpowder/gun thing got going, especially as the guns got better, people started doing things like hiding. And that sucks. Besides, they rarely come at you alone, and if you’ve got a single-shot rifle and all, well, gee, it would be nice to be able to get more’n one guy at a time, if you could, and ya know the penny-pinching bean counters who don’t ever *have* to do any of this fighting stuff, well, they think fancy guns are an extravagance, but they’re willing to spend some bucks on grenades.

But then that means you have to throw them, right? And back in the day, pretty much only Americans played baseball, a game that teaches you how to throw a long way. So the namby-pamby Europeans, decided to find ways to loft grenades without having to stand up and throw ‘em like a man, yet were cheaper than mortars, artillery and such. First they started out with stick grenades . Then they moved on with rod grenades, that you stuck in the barrel of your rifle, fired a special blank, and off it went. Of course, this required you to carry blanks AND remember to use them. If you didn’t, well, it ruined the rifle, and caused annoyance to yourself and those around you.

Of course, then we discovered that it ruined the rifle anyway, splitting stocks and such, as well as bulging the barrels, which required that stocks be reinforced, and barrels replaced. The Brits carried that the furthest, by wrapping ‘EY” (grenade launcher, so designated from rifles no longer accurate enough for issue use) rifles with copper wire, so when the stock split the grenadier didn’t get a faceful of splinters. The Indian Army, who carried forward the WWI Enfield rifle design into the 1970’s, went so far as to wrap their rifles with sheet metal. Well, the rod grenades are a different post, so to heck with them. Let’s move on to grenade discharger cups, and in particular, the French WWI version.

To save eyestrain on the main blog, I've broken this into four parts.

Part II, the story, con't.

Part III. The Launchers.

Part IV. The Grenades.

by John on Jul 02, 2004

June 22, 2004

Rip his heart out, or trash his network?

Ralph Peters asks the question. And the answer is: both. If you aren't willing to rip his heart out, however, you're probably just dancing with the rainbow.

Even though I do (hock, ptui!) defense contractor work revolving around net-centric warfare, I agree with Ralph.

Net-centric is just another tool. It's not a palliative. But Ralph says it better than I do.

Here's a teaser.

This essay does not suppose that warfare is simple: "Just go out and kill 'em." Of course, incisive attacks on command networks and control capabilities, well-considered psychological operations, and humane treatment of civilians and prisoners matter profoundly, along with many other complex factors. But at a time when huckster contractors and "experts" who never served in uniform prophesize bloodless wars and sterile victories through technology, it's essential that those who actually must fight our nation's wars not succumb to the facile theories or shimmering vocabulary of those who wish to explain war to our soldiers from comfortable offices.

It is not a matter of whether attrition is good or bad. It's necessary. Only the shedding of their blood defeats resolute enemies. Especially in our struggle with God-obsessed terrorists - the most implacable enemies our nation has ever faced-there is no economical solution. Unquestionably, our long-term strategy must include a wide range of efforts to do what we, as outsiders, can to address the environmental conditions in which terrorism arises and thrives (often disappointingly little - it's a self-help world). But, for now, all we can do is to impress our enemies, our allies, and all the populations in between that we are winning and will continue to win.

The only way to do that is through killing.

It's long, so it's in the extended post. This and other good stuff are available from Parameters, The Quarterly of the Army War College. This specific article is here, if you'd rather read it there.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Jun 22, 2004

June 18, 2004

192 years ago today...

Animation1.gif

WAR! Congress declares "Mr. Madison's War" on June 18, 1812. It may have cost a huge remodeling job on the White House, but we once again bored the British into preferring French-bashing to dealing with fractious colonials, and they dropped the idea of re-absorbing us into the Empire. And we *still* failed to beat-up the Canadians after three tries, the fall-out of which I deal with periodically as they drop by and go "Neener-neener-neener!" The animation above was shamelessly stolen from this website about the war, which you should go visit!

64 years ago, Sir Winston Churchill stood in Parliament and delivered a sobering recitation of military failure after military failure, concluding his speech with one of the most famous bits of oration in the english-speaking world:

What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.'

Go read the whole thing - it makes the last paragraph even better. Dubya's speechwriters would do well if they could write something like this speech.

by John on Jun 18, 2004

June 04, 2004

Why the basement looks as it does.

While I rant about gun rights and such on occasion in this space, and many of you have discovered the Arsenal, which was one of the original inspirations for this blog, the Ghost of a Flea has an excellent post that neatly encaspulates why the basement is so cluttered, what motivates me to do what I do, and spend money and effort, and time on military artifacts, rather than socking it away for our retirement. Why we drive cars with 280,000 miles on them, and only buy a new car once a decade...

I want to know things like this, as it helps me in my work as a historian:

The authenticity of the helmet was never in doubt. But the researchers used techniques called neutron diffraction, x-ray diffraction, x-ray fluorescence and infrared spectroscopy to confirm that among other things, the noseguard was not authentic. Alastar Jackson of Manchester University, an authority on bronze armour, had already suggested that the noseguard might be a different alloy mix, since its edges were much sharper than those on the rest of the helmet and its shape was wrong. Pantos says: "It just did not look right. It could have been tested a simpler way. But we went the extra mile, took the extra step, and we haven't finished our work."

"It is much later, because it doesn't work, it is too short, its profile is too vertical," Prag says. "You try putting it on - and Manolis demonstrated this by making a plaster cast - and it bangs on your nose. It needs to stick out because your nose sticks out.

"It suffered in battle. John Prag's point is that this is a cheapo soldier's helmet," says Pantos. "It did not have the thickness of the helmet that Achilles might have used. It does not have that crest on top. It has a fantastic mark at the back that suggests that something sharp went right through the eye, presumably through the head, and very nearly came out through the back. So it has been battered in battle."

The dead soldier's armour would have been stripped from his body by the victors and then set up with other trophies of battle on wooden posts in the sanctuary of Olympia, as offerings to the gods. Armour would be "killed" in a sacrificial ritual, just as a lamb might be.

Prag says: "It happened a lot at Olympia. It stands there for a long time, and either the sanctuary gets too full, or the post rots and it falls down and the sanctuary guards gather it all up and they bury it. At that point you are committing it to the next world, and you have to kill it. You kill a lamb by cutting its throat, to commit it to the next world, to the gods. You kill a helmet by bending the cheek pieces up, and the noseguard up, so that it is dead, it is useless."

It also keeps students interested, when you can show them actual artifacts from the period in question... as well as keeping me interested!

If you'd like to read the whole piece on the helmet from the Guardian Weekly, go visit the Flea via the link above.

by John on Jun 04, 2004

June 02, 2004

Viven-Bessiere Rifle grenade and launchers. Part IV

The Grenades.

There were at least three types of grenade made for the V-B system. First, was the standard HE grenade, which US industry produced over 20 million of for the war. Next was a message grenade that was used by the French, but rejected by the US. Lastly (that I’m aware of) was a pyrotechnic grenade, used as a carrier for flares, star clusters, and smoke.

Like the launchers, the US V-B grenades were essentially the same as their French forbears. The main difference between the two versions of the HE grenade is that the US grenade was made out of malleable iron instead of cast (brittle) iron. Both grenades were serrated internally to assist fragmentation – and because external serration would increase gas loss (and matching range loss) during launching. As John Heinrichs noted in comments to the earlier post on the subject – many grenades were serrated externally to improve the soldiers grip, and that the serration was for that purpose – it being known that external serration was ineffective in assisting controlled fragmentation. The historical record is mixed. There are US records dating to WWII where it came as a surprise that external serration was ineffective – perhaps simply because if anyone had tested prior to that, it was unknown to the then-serving officers on the Board.

I suspect it’s all correct. Some people and manufacturers knew, some didn’t, and most didn’t care in any big way.

Anyway, back to the story… The grenades are about 2.5 inches long and 2 inches in diameter (you metric-types can do your own conversion…) and weighed 17 ounces or so, just over a pound. They had a range of about 200 yards when fired at 47 degrees, and a ‘danger zone’ of 75 yards from the point of burst. Since the range exceeded the bursting radius, the grenade was considered both ‘offensive’ and ‘defensive’. The distinction being that an offensive grenade has a smaller bursting radius than its average throwing distance – i.e., it can be used by a soldier in the open, whereas a defensive (generally more powerful) assumes the user is under cover.

The pyrotechnic grenade (cylinder in the middle) was simply a carrier for combustable material, whether phosphorus or some other incendiary compound. They weren’t very effective and didn’t see much use.

Last, but not least, is the ‘message grenade’. Intended for use by cut-off units, it contained a tube into which a message could be inserted, and the grenade then fired. Upon landing, a small smoke charge would go off to make the grenade more visible. Several problems arose. The smoke charge was too small, consequently, it was hard to see. The fuze failed to function in soft ground. Until the somewhat mobile battles of late 1918, pretty much all the ground people were fighting over was soft ground from years of pounding. Lastly, if you were cut off, you couldn’t tell anyone you were going to be sending messages, so they wouldn’t be looking for them when they landed. If they were trying to get to you – same problem, exacerbated by the fact that cut-off and surrounded units are many times closer together as individuals on the battlefield… and getting hit with one of these things, well, sucked.

Here endeth the tale.


by John on Jun 02, 2004

Viven-Bessiere Rifle grenade and launchers. Part III

The Launchers.

There were essentially 5 types of V-B launchers in US service. To minimize the time between adoption, production, and issuance, the V-B launcher and grenades were adopted as-is. The only initial changes needed were the dimensional changes required to adapt to US rifle barrel/front sight profiles. When US production caught up there were 4 US- specific Marks of launcher adopted, though the Mark II was never manufactured.

1. The original was the French launcher. While US producers were tooling up to the new specs, the French produced 50.000 launchers for issuance made to the French specs, with the problems alluded to in the report above.
2. Mark I. Between the time the specs were determined and US producers were tooled up, the French produced another 50.000 launchers to the US spec.
3. Mark II. Not much is known about this one. It was spec’d but never adopted or produced.
4. Mark III. These launchers were stamped on the outside for which rifle they were intended to be used, and the launchers intended for the M1917 had a knurled band on them so that a soldier could assure himself he had the right launcher in darkness. (Trivia- the US issued more M1917 rifles during the war than M1903s). The Mark IIIs were like the original French launchers in that they had a straight slot milled in the stem and they slipped over the barrel and were shimmed in place.
5. The Mark IV had a spiral groove that hooked around the front sight and gave a more positive lock. The version for the M1917 rifle maintained the knurled band. My example is a M1917 version. The knurled band is eroded away by years of being buried on the battlefield, but it fits the M1917 easily, and will not fit the M1903. At least not with the effort I’m willing to put forth!

Part IV. The Grenades.

by John on Jun 02, 2004

Viven-Bessiere Rifle grenade and launchers. Part II

The French led the way with the ‘cup discharger” (as the Brits called them) style of grenade launching. The Brits, Germans, Russians, and the US followed them in close order. When US forces arrived in theater in France in 1917, we discovered that while it looked cool and impressed the ladies that you could stand up and toss a grenade 50 yards, the veritable sheet of lead the Germans were sending about 1 inch over the top of whatever cover you were behind tended to spoil your aim. So the US simply adopted the French version in-situ and over time made some minor changes in light of experience. The Brits, Germans, and Russians all developed their own launchers and grenades. I’ll cover the German discharger in a later post – and I’ll cover the Russian, too, if I ever score a launcher. I can cover the Russian grenades.

The British version (also a post for a later time) used standard grenades, with or without a special baseplate, and launched the grenades using the special blanks (in this case, Austrian) already developed for the rod grenades. The French, German, and Russian models were all bullet-through’ grenades, designed to be launched using standard ball ammunition, with the bullet passing through a tube in the center of the grenade. In the French version adopted by the US, the bullet also initiated the fuze, which is kinda cool. You could also load two grenades into the launcher and launch them together, with a concomitant decrease in range, but more fun in the target area (as long as you weren’t the poor dumb b*st*rd in it)

The upside of this type of launcher is that it used standard ball (‘ball’ being the technical term for regular bullets, being a holdover from when bullets were balls) ammunition and didn’t damage the bore of the rifle in the way rodded grenades did. On the debit side, in addition to putting all that weight on the end of the barrel (affecting accuracy should the soldier have to do some shooting beyond grenades) the god of recoil still demanded payment, sometimes in the coin of broken stocks. This is reportedly the primary reason the second recoil lug was added to the stock of the M1903 rifle in 1917.

The normal firing mode was to place the butt of the rifle on the ground, align the rifle to the target, and adjust for range by raising or lowering the barrel (pivoting on the butt for you snarky purists). The French went so far as to make special racks that you could load multiple rifles into and salvo fire. These racks had vernier adjustments and simple range tables, enabling more accurate (and comparative saturation) fires than individual soldiers firing their rifles, though obviously not terribly practical in the assault.

The US adopted the V-B system in July 1917 for use with the M1903 and M1917 rifles. Until production was established for US rifles, some number of Lebel and Berthier rifles with launchers was issued to US units, and came with some french trainers. Despite the usual grumblings from the Ordnance establishment regarding non-standard ammunition and weapons, the field commanders said “Tough shit, I want something, and all you offer is nothing, so suck it up, bub!” and took the rifles and went out and killed Germans with ‘em.

As is ever the case when you leave the troops alone for a minute, clever (but not necessarily technically competent) troops started adapting the Lebel V-B launchers to the US rifles. A surviving report from the 42nd Division covers the topic:

“Someone at the Ordnance Base re-designed the base of the French tromblon to that it would fit the muzzle of the Springfield rifle, but they failed to take into consideration the great difference in pressure developed by the propelling charge of the American cartridge. It seems that the Rainbow (nickname of the 42nd Div) was the first to receive this new brainchild and they were promptly issued to the infantry squads in the divisions. The next day many of the men were in the hospital and their rifles were beyond repair.”

Part III. The Launchers.

by John on Jun 02, 2004

Another Interesting Day in History...


1943 All-black 99th Pursuit Squadron flies 1st combat mission, over Italy

1943 Pope Pius XII denounces air bombardment, is totally ignored (and this still holds true)

1969 Australian CV Melbourne rams US DD Frank E Evans, 74 die - what's odd about this? How many of you knew that Australia ever had a carrier? Much less, two? And that the Evans wasn't her first victim?

1989 Democracy protests in Tiananmen Square, Beijing.

Hat tip: Strategy Page.

by John on Jun 02, 2004

May 27, 2004

Today in history.

1813 Col. Winfield Scott captures Ft George, Canada, which is later
lost. One of the few, and brief, successes against them da*n dirty Northerners!


1940 Operation Dynamo: Dunkirk Evacuation begins. In which the British armed forces show their grit in diversity, and add to a Battle Honours list which is most notable in some respects for it's magnificent defeats, than it's brilliant victories. Ever the economists, the Brits only win the crucial battles.

In some respects, Dunkirk, along with the quiet stoicism of the urban population during the Blitz, shows the great underlying strength of character of the British nation - despite the best efforts of the elites.

by John on May 27, 2004

May 26, 2004

Instead of abused prisoners and a$$holes sawing off heads...

Let's have a little conventional military heroism. This time, Canadian. In fact, in some respects, today will be "All Canada, all day" just to annoy people still pissy over the fact that Canada declined to participate in Iraq (but are still in Afghanistan).

The motto of Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) is "Perseverance."

Lt. Edward Perkins "Persevered". After making the initial crossing of the river, he returned to the far bank "after an extremely eventful 24 hours."

Crossing the Melfa River

Lieutenant Edward J. Perkins, DSO

The recce troop of an armoured regiment consists of eleven light American General Stuart or "Honey" tanks. From these the turrets have been removed and instead a .50 Browning machine gun is mounted. The vehicle carries a crew of five and its fire power besides the .50 includes a .30 Browning, a Bren gun, a PIAT and four Tommies. We also carry prepared charges and grenades. In small arms weapons, our fire power per man is a as large as any force in the army. Our job is close recce both of the ground and of the enemy which we are prepared to do either from our vehicles or on foot.

For the Melfa crossing, six of my tanks were taken for use by engineers who were travelling with us and my troop consisted of only five tanks. As a matter of fact, my own tank had a mechanical failure soon after we crossed the start line and I had to switch to my sergeant's tank. At no time during the operation did the troop consist of more than four tanks carrying in all twenty men.

The plan of the operation was that a force commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Vokes of the British Columbia Dragoons (BCD) and including the Irish Regiment of Canada, was to push through the gap in the Adolf Hitler Line which had been made by 1st Canadian Division. They were to advance about 8000 yards and then form a strong point or "firm base." My regiment was to go through this strong point and advance the remaining 4000 yards to the Melfa. We were then to seize a crossing and to hold it while other troops passed over and continued the advance. My job was to lead the regiment during the advance to get to the river as quickly as possible, find a crossing and get over. The Commanding Officer (CO) would then push over "A" Company of the motor battalion who were under his command, and if possible, get a tank squadron over, although whether this last would be possible, was not certain.

The Vokes force pushed over the start line at 0600 hours. At 0800 hours, the CO sent me forward to liaise with them and to find out what was happening. I found that while the preceding units were not encountering great opposition from the enemy, they were having considerable difficulty in getting their tanks forward over many obstacles and the rate of advance was consequently slow. I spent most of the morning reporting progress to my CO who was impatiently waiting in the assembly area two or three thousand yards back.

Read the rest here.

by John on May 26, 2004

Now for the Victoria Cross from the Melfa River Crossing.

On the 24th May, 1944, "A" Company of the Westminster Regiment (Motor), under the command of Major Mahony, was ordered to establish the initial bridgehead across the River Melfa. The enemy still had strong forces of tanks, self-propelled guns and infantry holding defensive positions on the east side of the river. Despite this, Major Mahony personally led his company down to and across the river, being with the leading section. Although the crossing was made in full view of and under heavy fire from enemy machine-gun posts on the right rear and left front, he personally directed each section into its proper position on the west bank with the greatest coolness and confidence. The crossing was made and a small bridgehead was established on ground where it was only possible to dig shallow weapon pits. From 1530 hours the company maintained itself in the face of enemy fire and attack until 2030 hours, when the remaining companies and supporting weapons were able to cross the river and reinforce them.

The bridgehead was enclosed on three sides by an 88 mm. Self-propelled gun 450 yards to the right, a battery of four 2cm. A.A. guns 100 yards to the left, a Spandau 100 yards to the left of it, to the left of the Spandau a second 88 mm. Self-propelled gun, and approximately a company of infantry with mortars and machine-guns on the left of the 88 mm. gun. From all these weapons, Major Mahony's company was constantly under fire until it eventually succeeded in knocking out the self-propelled equipment and the infantry on the left flank.

Shortly after the bridgehead had been established, the enemy counter-attacked with infantry supported by tanks and self-propelled guns. The counter-attack was beaten off by the company with its P.I.A.T.'s (1), 2" mortars and grenades, due to the skill with which Major Mahony had organized his defences. With absolute fearlessness and disregard for his own safety, Major Mahony personally directed the fire of his P.I.A.T.'s throughout this action, encouraging and exhorting his men. By this time, the company strength had been reduced to 60 men, and all but one of the Platoon Officers had been wounded. Scarcely an hour later, enemy tanks formed up about 500 yards in front of the bridgehead and in company with about a Company of infantry, launched a second counter-attack. Major Mahony, determined to hold the position at all costs, went from section to section with words of encouragement, personally directing fire of mortars and other weapons.

At one stage, a section was pinned down in the open by accurate and intense machine-gun fire. Major Mahony crawled forward to their position, and by throwing smoke grenades, succeeded in extricating the section from its position with the loss of only one man. This counter-attack was finally beaten off with the destruction of three enemy self-propelled guns and one Panther tank.

You can read the rest here.

by John on May 26, 2004

May 23, 2004

An interesting day in history...

1533 King Henry VIII declares marriage to Catherine of Aragon null &
void. Ended up founding his own church, too. The Church of England, Well, the Anglican Church, really. Catholic Light, 1/3rd the guilt, More fulfilling!

1618 The Defenestration of Prague sets off the Thirty Years War. Toss a few politicians out a window into a dung heap, not hurting them, and start a war that lasts 30 years. And the Dems think we're over-reacting to 9/11? Oh, wait - these people weren't democrat politicians, so only a police response is appropriate. Before the commenters weigh in - I'm still in favor of the Iraq war and do not believe we should have limited ourselves to Afghanistan. And that doesn't mean I support the torture crap either.

1775 Patrick Henry says "Give me Liberty or give me death!"

1873 Canada's North West Mounted Police force established - Happy Birthday to the Mounties!

1958 Mao Tse tung starts "the Great Leap Forward" in China, millions
die
. Just like just about any well-run communist dictatorship of the proletariat... millions die. But lefties don't give a flying flip. Because they 'meant well' so it's okay. They had good motivations. And its all Bush's fault, anyway. Boy, I'm grumpy this morning. Gotta quit reading the news, I guess.

1960 Israel announces capture of Nazi Adolf Eichmann in Argentina. I don't remember people squawking when they hung this mass-murderer, though.

Hat tip: Strategy Page

by John on May 23, 2004
» Sgt Hook links with: Castle of Argghhh!!!

May 20, 2004

Today in history...


German Paratroops landing at Maleme airfield.


In 1940 German tanks reach the Channel, splitting off most of the British Expeditionary Force from the main french armies. The British have Dunkirk to look forward to. The French, occupation. Until the US, Brits, Canadians, and some French soldiers come back on June 6, 1944. A date lost to de Villepin.

In 1941, the greatest German airborne (and last big one) assault began on Crete. Casualties were so high Hitler never used mass paratroop drops again. The battle at Crete provided yet another of those chapters seemingly peculiar to Anglosphere armies... heroic defeats. Of course, as the Brits have amply demonstrated throughout their history - you only need to win the correct battles to win the war. Something the Confederacy learned to their sorrow in the US Civil War.

by John on May 20, 2004

May 15, 2004

What happened of interest in history today...

Of interest to me, that is. Your mileage may vary...

magna.jpg

Copyright © The British Library

1215 King John of England "agrees" to Magna Carta. The first step in a long series of limits on the powers of the monarch that lead to the US Constitution. In retrospect, a sad day for leftists the world over. Pointlessly proud to be descended from a member of the petite nobility present that day. Probably one who wanted something specifc and selfish, but, hey, it's not like you choose your ancestors! I had the chance while in England last fall to view one of the extant copies that is held at Salisbury Cathedral. Very interesting to see what they thought important. You can read the text here.

Magna Carta is often thought of as the corner-stone of liberty and the chief defence against arbitrary and unjust rule in England. In fact it contains few sweeping statements of principle, but is a series of concessions wrung from the unwilling King John by his rebellious barons in 1215. However, Magna Carta established for the first time a very significant constitutional principle, namely that the power of the king could be limited by a written grant.

1479 -BC-- Battle of Megiddo: Thutmose III defeats the King of Kadesh. The location of the first recorded battle in history - and according to Revelations, will be the site of the Last Battle of history.

butler,benjamin.gif

1862 Ben Butler issues his famous "Woman Order" That Ben! Whatta card!

1948 Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, & Saudi-Arabia attack Israel - get butts kicked. Not for the last time, either.

04map_pg64.gif

Hat tip: Strategy Page


by John on May 15, 2004

May 14, 2004

Another busy little day in history.

lewis.gifCamel1.jpg

1804 My 2nd cousin, 6 times removed Meriwether Lewis & William Clark set out from St Louis for the Pacific Coast. Hey, don't have many famous family members, gotta point out the few I know of - and won't mention the horse thieves.

1845 USS Constitution lands Marines at Danang, Indochina. They'll be back in 120 years.

1856 Shipment of camels for the US Army arrives at Indianola, Texas. Yep. Camels.

1940 Nazis bomb Rotterdam, rumor has it that 30,000 die (actually
600-900)

1940 The Netherlands surrender to Germany With the crossings of the Meuse at Sedan complete, Rommel is poised for his dash to the sea and the beginning of the end for the Allies defense of France opens.

1948 Israel declares independence. Arabs immediately invade. Get butts kicked. Not for the last time.

1955 Warsaw Pact formed. Guaranteeing me a job 25 years later.

1975 Unsuccessful US raid to free the Cambodian-held ship Mayaguez.

Hat tip: Strategy Page

by John on May 14, 2004

May 13, 2004

Interesting day in history.

toma.jpg

1110 Crusaders capture Beirut amid great slaughter - Some of you are thinking this way right now.

1846 US declares war on Mexico, two months after fighting begins. Oops.

1940 Churchill promises "blood, toil, tears, and sweat."

1943 Axis troops in Tunisia, North Africa, surrender.

1946 US sentences 58 Mauthausen concentration camp guards to death - some on the left would do this to Rumsfeld over Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo - they ARE the same thing, right?

1981 Pope John Paul II wounded by assailant in St Peter's Square

1985 Philadelphia police bomb a house held by group "Move", 11 die.

Yep. Busy day.

by John on May 13, 2004

May 10, 2004

Today in history...

The Battle of Dong Ap Bia begins.

Better known to most of us as... Hamburger Hill.

dongapbia.jpg
US Army photo.

The fight is portrayed in the movie of the same name. One of the better movies that goes into "Why men fight." The answer is, once the bullets start to fly, for each other.



by John on May 10, 2004

May 06, 2004

Since the news has been, well, depressing...

I think it's time for pictures of Arsenal Artifacts. Besides, I've been playing with the new camera - proving only one thing. That quality pictures are a function of the photographer, more than they are the camera. This is a good camera, Canon EOS Digital.

Anyway, I have this item up for your consideration. The german WWI spigot mortar, the Granatenwerfer 16 (literally, Grenade Thrower).

Spigot mortars get their name from the fact that instead of a barrel, they have a rod, more technically, a mandrel, onto which slips the round. The tail of the round acts as the barrel. These things are not light, and this one does not have it's full baseplate that contained the traversing table. The round slips all the way down the rod, unlike the picture. This is a battlefield recovery round and I haven't finished the cleaning/preserving action in the tail, so it's blocked by corrosion. Doesn't take much, the tolerances here are pretty tight. The advantage of these weapons is that you can fire many different sizes of warhead, since you aren't constrained by the barrel dimensi