Tuesday, June 29, 2010
In those years just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War [WW2], it was the fear of the British government that in case of conflict the German was prepared to conduct an aerial bombardment campaign of overwhelming intensity - - a bombardment to have included the use of poison gas on a widespread - - massive scale.
Chemical munitions dropped from aircraft in an indiscriminate manner on the British civilian populace, saturation bombing with conventional explosives augmented to a large degree by poison gas of an advanced nature development, gases having a lethality far exceeding the old-fashioned variety poisons as employed by the various combatants of the Great War [WW1].
CASUALTIES OF AN APOCALYPTIC AND MIND-BOGGLING NATURE WERE PREDICTED!!
Here from the Internet article:
"Airpower and British Society, 1908-1941" (mostly)"
"the widespread belief in the 1920s and 1930s was that at the beginning of the next war, a huge fleet of enemy bombers would suddenly strike at London and other cities and destroy them with high explosive bombs, incendiaries, and poison gas, causing hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties within a matter of hours or days, shattering essential infrastructure and leading to mass panic."
"British government officials in 1938 predicted [what] might happen if a war started in 1939 . . . over a million casualties per month, half of them fatalities, over only two months . . . you can see why everyone was so worried!"
MILLIONS OF CASUALTIES, HALF OF THE FATAL!! In all probability a high percentage of the casualties and death being from chemical munitions dropped from German bomber aircraft! NOTHING of the sort ever transpired, BUT THE FEAR OF SUCH A THING OCCURRING WAS IN THE MINDS OF THE GOVERNMENT AND AVERAGE CITIZEN BOTH!!
A fear - - even a paranoid malignant terror, to an extent exacerbated by a 1937 movie - - "Things To Come by H. G. Wells (1937)".
Persons already on the edge scared witless [?] by a movie showing in graphic detail a civilian population subjected to saturation bombing which INCLUDED THE WIDESPREAD AND INDISCRIMINATE USE OF GAS!
"The use of gas bombs is very much [a] part of the film . . . In real life, in the build-up to the Second World War, there was much concern that the Germans would use poison gas, which they had done during the Great War. Civilians were required to carry gas masks and were trained in their use."
"By 1939, these gases had been refined and had the potential for being far more effective . . . so it was believed was a military’s ability to deliver poison gas – and create new and more deadly versions [Tabun]".
"The use of poison gas in World War Two was a very real fear. Poison gas had been used in World War One and many expected that it would be used in World War Two. As a result people in Britain were issued with gas masks and gas mask drills became a routine."
During the blitz of London, 1940, as was the case in Israel, 1991, the civilian populace was equipped with gas masks, in anticipation of poison gas attack!
Such a thing did not occur, but the fear WAS there!!
Monday, June 28, 2010
During the air raid - - Bari - - the most significant American casualties were among the U.S. Navy Armed Guards.
Naval personnel serving in units consisting primarily of low ranking enlisted personnel with a smattering of officers in command positions. Naval personnel serving - - however - - on civilian merchant vessels, NOT on warships.
his was a duty, an assignment, unknown to me!
"United States Navy Armed Guard units were established during World War II in an attempt to provide defensive firepower to merchant ships in convoy or merchant ships traveling alone."
Naval personnel, embedded among the crew of a civilian merchant vessel, manning guns and providing protection "to merchant ships in convoy or merchant ships traveling alone"! STRICTLY A WARTIME MEASURE!
[that word "embedded" would not have used at the time. That is a modern word!]
"Hazardous duty considerations"
"The assignment as an Armed Guardsman was often dreaded because of the constant danger and because the merchant ships were among the slowest to receive updated equipment. Early on in the war some ships only had a few machine guns and painted telephone poles to replicate the barrels of larger guns. The most common armament to be installed on merchant ships during the war were the MK II 20mm machine gun and the 3"/50, 4"/50, and 5"/38 deckguns."
Right! Machine-guns, rapid fire cannon [20 mm], and naval guns of smaller caliber to deal with the potential attack from German aircraft, surface raiders and surfaced submarines.
And I would think too, that in most circumstances, if under attack, you were more or less left to your own devices. YOU HAD to do the job yourself, NO support being available.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
This is coolbert:
"I would regard it as a personal affront if the Luftwaffe should attempt any significant action in this area." - - Arthur Coningham, commander of the RAF First Tactical Air Force"
Thanks to the comment from Steiner:
"A complement to this story is the incident at the port of Bari, Italy, in December 1943. The Allies had begun to off-load supplies of mustard gas for possible use in Europe when an unanticipated and successful German aerial attack resulted in a release of the poison."
Steiner is speaking of course about the air raid Bari. Italy - - 1943.
"The Air Raid on Bari was an air attack by German bombers on Allied forces and shipping in Bari, Italy on December 2, 1943. In the attack, 105 German . . . bombers . . . achieving complete surprise, bombed shipping and personnel . . . sinking 17 cargo and transport ships in Bari harbor"
Allied warships in port, unloading cargo attacked by a massed formation of German Ju-88 bomber aircraft, the results catastrophic. Many ships sunk or damaged, the port of Bari out of action for months. A serious blow to allied efforts during the Italian Campaign. AND VERY HUMILIATING TOO!!
Allied air defenses nil, the harbor well lit during hours of darkness, the German threat discounted - - the entire affair referred to as the European "Pearl Harbor"!! The German raiders escaping unscathed!
"The attack, which lasted a little more than one hour, put the port out of action until February 1944 and was called the 'Little Pearl Harbor'."
In addition to the enormous casualties suffered by the allied forces, mustard gas released into the air and water, a U.S. Liberty ship struck by flying debris, set afire, exploding, spewing deadly chemical agent [mustard gas] in all directions!!
"One of the destroyed vessels, the US Liberty ship John Harvey, had been carrying a secret cargo of 2,000 M47A1 World War I type mustard gas bombs, each of which held 30-35kg (60-70 lb) of sulfur mustard."
This too gives some indication of the problem as faced by those exposed to chemical agents. In particular, naval ratings of a British warship, having merely picked up survivors from the water in the aftermath of the air raid, themselves became casualties from the toxicity of the mustard agent, exposure to the chemical agent in aerosol droplet form causing blindness.
"the HMS Bistera, though lightly damaged picked up survivors from the water during the raid and put out to sea; during the night members of the crew went blind and developed chemical burns."
[please recall that A. Hitler during the Great War suffered temporary blindness - - having undergone attack by mustard agent in aerosol form.]
* My understanding was originally that the John Harvey was SINGLED OUT FOR BOMBARDMENT, the German knowing full well in advance that the ship was carrying chemical munitions. I had thought hit by a glide bomb. This is not the case.
* The Ju-88 even by the early stages of WW2 was an outmoded and inefficient bomber aircraft? But was put to good use at Bari!
* These were mustard gas bombs [U.S.] designed to be dropped from aircraft, and from the era of the Great War [WW1]. Surely by 1943 American industry had provided the U.S. military with more updated versions of chemical munitions?
* Many American casualties from the Bari raid were from the Navy Armed Guard service? A war time measure - - naval personnel serving on merchant shipping, using field expedient weaponry of dubious value in the effort to defend civilian shipping used in the war effort. A type of duty unknown to me prior to this.
This is coolbert:
Here with an article from Der Spiegel, thanks to the tip from the Jungle Trader.
Recently discovered photography from German archives, documenting the Allied bombardment and destruction of Italian Renaissance and post-Renaissance architectural master-pieces. Buildings having immense historical and architectural value.
Destruction used to illustrate in graphic fashion what the fascists deemed as "ALLIED ATROCITY". Behavior on the part of the allied forces reminiscent of the barbarian, destruction wanton and callous, an affront to all civilized persons.
"How the Nazis Used War Rubble as Propaganda"
"As the Allies marched inexorably northward through Italy during World War II, the Nazis set to work photographing the rubble of damaged historical buildings and artwork. The images were supposed to prove that their enemies were cultural barbarians."
"the German military and the Nazi propaganda machinery recognized the potential of using the destroyed buildings to portray the Allies as culturally insensitive barbarians."
Destruction presumably the result of allied saturation bombing. Targets NOT of military value blasted to smithereens. Buildings having withstood centuries of use and exposure to the elements, destroyed in seconds by high-explosives dropped from aircraft. Again, dropped in a callous and unfeeling manner.
* The Germans of all people during World War Two [WW2] felt smug enough to make such accusations? So even suggests the author of the Der Spiegel article. German air force commanders did not feel any special inhibitions against saturation bombardment of allied cities during the war.
* These images were taken by professional photographers? The use of black and white photography during wartime is most effective? There is the artistic touch and flair to all these images as well.
* Rome had been declared an "open city". NOT militarily defended and not having military value. The historic ruins of ancient Rome were not subject to bombardment of any sort? Other Italian cities were not declared to be an "open city"? To include Florence, Siena, Venice?
* It can be suggested too, that at least in the case of the abbey of Monte Cassino, the saturation bombardment by the massed allied air forces ONLY made the situation worse from a military standpoint! Created at certain key points a cratered terrain moonscape that made forward movement of the allied forces that much more difficult!!
* In the aftermath of WW2, the American Congress held only two investigations regarding the war effort. One was an investigation concerning the debacle at Pearl Harbor. The second investigation concerned the entire nature and conduct of the Italian Campaign. Take it for what it is worth!!
Saturday, June 26, 2010
"The fighting Jew who was a Christian?"
Here Bert seeks to redress a wrong as has been done by the cinema to a good man!
Admiral Lutjens. German naval flag officer in overall command aboard the Bismarck, during the famous encounter and battle with the HMS Hood. The Bismarck subsequently sunk, Lutjens meeting his death in battle.
"Günther Lütjens . . . was a German Admiral . . . most well known for his actions during World War II, primarily his command of Bismarck . . . during the Operation Rheinübung sortie."
The screen depiction of the naval battle and in particular the way the Admiral Lutjens is portrayed doing a grave injustice to the man?
"Unrealistic Film Portrayal in Sink the Bismarck!"
"In the 1960 film, Sink the Bismarck!, Lütjens is portrayed as egotistic, overconfident, and a Nazi enthusiast angered over Germany's humiliation and his own lack of recognition at the end of World War I. In reality, Lütjens . . . did not agree with Nazi policies; he was one of the few officers who refused to give the Nazi salute when Hitler visited Bismarck before its first and final mission, deliberately using instead the traditional naval salute."
Here the actor Karel Stepanek is shown from a scene in the movie "Sink the Bismarck". Stepanek did portray Lutjens as arrogant, haughty, over-confident, a fanatic!!
Rather, Admiral Lutjens appears to have been anti-Nazi. NOT a supporter of the fascist belief system, NOT "egotistic", "overconfident", "a Nazi enthusiast"
A man WHO WAS THE OPPOSITE:
"In November 1938 Lütjens was one of only three flag officers [general or admiral] who protested, in writing, against the anti-Jewish 'Kristallnacht' pogroms"
In addition, Lutjens had a JEWISH background. Professed as a Christian, but had one grandmother who was JEWISH. Same as the other famous German naval officer from WW2 fame, Captain Rogge.
"Gunther Lutjens was one-fourth Jewish. A Jewish grandmother, to be precise . . . but if it was maternal, he would have been Jewish under Jewish law."
AND surely Jewish under the laws of the Third Reich! That the man was given high command, and not cashiered or persecuted in the aftermath of his protesting the "Kristallnacht" "pogroms" is amazing in itself.
Lutjens WAS loyal to the German cause and paid the full measure for his loyalty. But WAS NOT a fanatic, a mad-man seeking glory at all cost. The movie portrayal is all wrong.
NOW Bert has set the record straight!!
Thanks to CSI [Center-for-the-Study-of-Intelligence] and the tip through Jungle Trader, this analysis:
"Two Strategic Intelligence Mistakes in Korea, 1950 "
"Perceptions and Reality"
"Two strategic intelligence blunders within six months: yet the civilian and military leaders involved were all products of World War II, when the attack on Pearl Harbor had clearly demonstrated the requirement for intelligence collection and analysis"
Right! Two intelligence blunders within a period of six months. And blunders by persons of experience who SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER!
Central Intelligence and the Far East Command [FEC], both falling down on the job.
Major errors of judgment - - with serious ramifications for the U.S.
* NOT able to predict the North Korean [DPRK] invasion of South Korea [ROK].
* NOT able to predict the intervention - - on a massive scale, of the forces of Communist China. The Chinese Communist Forces [CCF] - - not anticipated as joining the fray in Korea, but doing so in an overwhelming manner.
The experts - - those persons at CIA and FEC having gone to bat during World War Two [WW2] and done quite well, either as civilians [OSS] or military [the staff of General Mac Arthur] - - in 1950 - - deficient in their duties!
Both serious blunders occurring - - AND as is stated - - within a period of six months!
Well, what is going on here! Why such marked incompetence?
AND, according to this web site and article:
"The role of intelligence in America’s national security is often misunderstood. Intelligence information has to exist within the greater context of domestic US political perception."
That is all there is to it? Domestic political perception ignores the threat and neglects the intelligence as being presented to it? Perhaps deception too is part to blame? Or treachery at a high level? The "signs" do not make a "good fit" with the domestic agenda, so "calm" will prevail?
NONETHELESS, two major blunders within six months - - NOT good. And by folks that should have been able to do better!! Read it all!
Friday, June 25, 2010
In my previous blog entry, I described the German/Romanian sea-borne evacuation from the Crimea as a "delaying action"!
It is useful, it is helpful, to refresh our memories regarding the types of operations and movements to the rear, as defined by the American Department of Defense [DoD]?
The reverse amphibious operation from the Crimea was obviously "a movement to the rear" - - a retrograde movement! NOT called a retreat.
"retrograde movement. Any movement of a command to the rear, or away from the enemy. It may be forced by the enemy or may be made voluntarily. Such movements may be classified as [retrogrades consisting of] withdrawal, retirement, or delaying action."
During the Crimea evacuation, the German and Romanian forces had to fight their way out, under constant bombardment by Soviet air force units. A fighting retrograde is referred to as a delaying action.
"delaying action." [delaying operation].
"An [delaying] operation [action] in which a force under pressure trades space for time by slowing down the enemy's momentum and inflicting maximum damage on the enemy without, in principle, becoming decisively engaged."
You have to FIGHT YOUR WAY OUT OF DANGER! Constantly in contact and mortal combat with the enemy.
At some point, the evacuation becoming a withdrawal.
"withdrawal operation. A planned operation in which a force in contact disengages from an enemy force."
You are in contact with the enemy and finally are able to "disengage"! NO longer under fire and having to fight your way out.
When no longer under attack and having broken contact, a retrograde becoming a "retirement". Pressure from the enemy no longer present!
"retirement. An operation in which a force out of contact moves away from the enemy."
NEVER a retreat. That is a word used by confused and addled journalists and unknowing authors/bloggers.
NOW you know!!
Herewith an example of a reverse amphibious operation that did not go according to plan.
Troops [German and Romanian] attempting to conduct a delaying action, retreating from an area [Crimea], doing so under fire, evacuation by sea
The German Seventeenth Army, occupying Festung Crimea, isolated, their line of retreat cut-off, sea-borne evacuation the only way out of an impossible situation.
"the 17th Army . . . made up of 3 German divisions and the Romanian Cavalry Corps (6th and 9th Cavalry, 10th and 19th Infantry Divisions) and Mountain Corps (1st, 2nd and 3rd Mountain Divisions)"
About 220,000 men total, of which approximately 60,000 were Romanian.
Germany occupied Crimea, 1943-1944, declared a "fortress" [Festung] by Hitler, NO retreat allowed. Hitler wanting to deny the Crimea as a point from which it would be possible for Soviet long-ranger bomber aircraft to attack the Ploesti oil fields. From a "fortress" NO retreat was allowed without specific permission directly from Hitler.
By 1944 the situation for the 17th Army in the Festung had become untenable, the order to evacuate being given. An evacuation by sea being the only recourse. An evacuation being conducted UNDER FIRE THE ENTIRE TIME!! An evacuation the plan of which was called "Adler" [Eagle] by the German, Operation 60,000 by the Romanian. German Kriegsmarine and the Romanian Navy doing yeoman work, again, all the while under fire!
An evacuation carried out in two stages:
"  12 April and 5 May and,  the most dramatic, between 6 and 13 May"
1. "during the first phase of the operation, between 14 and 27 April 1944, 73,058 people left Crimea by sea":
* "20,779 Romanians, of which 2,296 wounded"
* "28,394 Germans, in care 4.995 wounded"
* "723 Slovaks"
* "15,055 Russian volunteers"
* "2,559 POWs"
* "3,748 civilians"
Of these about 1,5% died during the crossing."
NO mention is made of impedimenta brought along. Gear needed to fight again as a cohesive force. Final figures indicate equipment to some degree brought along, but how much and of what type not clear.
2. "In this second phase of the evacuation 47,825 de men were transported by sea to Constanta:
* "15,078 Romanians"
* "28,992 Germans"
* "3,755 Soviets (volunteers, POWs and civilians)"
"About 10,000 men were lost during the crossing , of which some 4,000 were Romanians. "
Losses much more considerable during the second phase of the evacuation, about 20-25 %!
Totals in the aftermath of Festung Crimea capitulation  were:
"In total, between 14 April – 13 May 1944, 120,853 men and 22,548 tone of cargo were evacuated by sea from Crimea":
* "36.557 Romanians, of which 4,262 wounded"
* "58,486 Germans, of which 12,027 wounded"
* "723 Slovaks"
* "15,391 Soviet volunteers"
* "2.581 POWs"
* "7.115 civilians"
Slightly more than HALF of the 17th Army were evacuated. The remainder of the "Fortress" command going into Soviet captivity.
"It is obvious that an earlier evacuation would have saved more of the 220,000 men that the 17th Army had in April 1944"
Amphibious operations are conceded to the MOST DIFFICULT OF ALL MILITARY MANEUVERS!! And how much MORE difficult is a reverse amphibious operation, WHILE UNDER FIRE!!
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Here with several items, demonstrative of Israeli technological prowess and know-how, technological prowess and know-how in both cases having a military dimension.
This from the Guardian, from documentation dated thirty-five years ago now - - recently uncovered!
1. "Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons".
"Exclusive: Secret apartheid-era papers give first official evidence of Israeli nuclear weapons"
"'top secret' minutes of meetings between senior officials from the two countries in 1975 show that South Africa's defence minister, PW Botha, asked for the warheads and Shimon Peres, then Israel's defence minister and now its president, responded by offering them 'in three sizes'. The two men also signed a broad-ranging agreement governing military ties between the two countries that included a clause declaring that 'the very existence of this agreement' was to remain secret"
NO LONGER secret, the current government in South African not hesitant to release info on the deliberations and negotiations as carried out by the previous apartheid regime.
The government of South Africa , seeking to buy from Israel Jericho missiles, equipped in "three sizes". Those "three sizes" presumably referring to warheads of conventional, chemical/biological, or nuclear capability!!
I can easily understand the degree of mutual cooperation that would have existed between Israel and South Africa. The latter seeking advanced Israeli weaponry, and the former desirous of South African raw materials, most specifically yellow cake, "raw" uranium ore!!
And this thanks to YNet from only two days ago now. Another Israeli "spy" satellite placed into orbit. Most successfully too!
2. "Israel launches spy satellite".
"Israel boosts space presence: Ofek [Horizon] 9 satellite launched from central Israel Air Force base; security official says Jewish State now has several satellites operating simultaneously, thereby boosting results considerably"
Everyone is already aware that Israel has had for some time now an independent space capability? Place satellites into earth orbit for the purpose of strategic reconnaissance. "Spy" satellites, of their own devising! One of only several nations on the planet that has a space "mission" for its' military!!
ANY NATION ABLE TO PLACE A SATELLITE INTO EARTH ORBIT ALSO HAS THE POTENTIALITY FOR GLOBAL "REACH"! Able to place a warhead [atomic or otherwise] to any point on the planet at will!!
Israel is a nation, small in size, a population of only 6 million persons, but has an IMPRESSIVE TECHNOLOGICAL WHEREWITHAL AND THE MORAL IMPERATIVE TO DO WHAT IT FEELS IS NECESSARY FOR ITS' SURVIVAL!!
This is coolbert:
Here thanks to the Telegraph is the obituary for the most famous French soldier from the time of the Second World War [WW2[, Marcel Bigeard!!
"General Marcel Bigeard"
"General Marcel Bigeard, who died on June 17 aged 94, was France's most decorated and popular soldier, a hero of Dien Bien Phu and the Battle of Algiers; but his reputation was tarnished in later life by allegations that he had taken part in torture"
Torture, for which the General never admitted, and forever denied!!
Bigeard, a man from a working-class family, a man of humble origins, who rose to high rank, BASED UPON HIS INTUITIVE SENSE OF BATTLE AND WAR, POSSESSING UNDENIABLE COURAGE!!
[wounded five times!]
* Over a period of five decades, served in the French Army, rising from the lowly rank of private to almost the pinnacle of command.
* A charter member of the French parachute mafia!
* Fought both as a guerrilla and insurgent [WW2], and later as a counter-insurgent [Indo-China and Algeria]! He was a Jedburgh?
* Survived the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, taken prisoner, repatriated, continuing most successfully his military career.
* Was in almost continuous combat for a period of twenty-two years [1939-1961]!
* His record tarnished [?] by those pesky allegations of having administered, presided over, and even personally conducted torture of captured enemy guerrillas, terrorists!
Marcel, gone now, but hardly to be forgotten!!
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
What I figured was to be so is now SO!
This controversy with the remarks of General Mc Chrystal and his senior aides is a very big issue. It does appear that the General is on the way out. The man apparently has already submitted his resignation. Rather than face a courts martial for violation of Article 88 of the UCMJ, Mc Chrystal is a lame duck now and shortly gone from the scene. So I surmise.
"Even mag editor says McChrystal used poor judgment"
"NEW YORK (AP) — Even Rolling Stone's editor agreed with Gen. Stanley McChrystal that the Afghan war's U.S. commander showed poor judgment in airing complaints about the Obama administration in the magazine."
NOT necessarily just poor judgement, but more or less insubordination and a violation of law under UCMJ.
Career personnel can avoid judicial proceedings if they resign first upon complaint.
This event, however, I see as having ramifications that will be mind-boggling.
NO MORE hope of even defeating the Taliban. Victory is now out of the question! [if such a thing was possible in the first place!] An end to the surge as envisioned by Petraeus and Mc Chrystal!
The plan and timetable to draw down and withdraw U.S. troops from Afghan will be accelerated. The Afghan is now faced with making peace with the Taliban or carrying out a counter-insurgency minus U.S. aid. That is how I see it.
All this from the imprudent and rash comments of a general officer and his aides. This is very tragic indeed. NO GOOD AT ALL IS COMING OUT OF THIS!!
Well, c'est le guerre and c'est le vie dude!
From the Chicago Tribune today, some insight into the origins of war, as observed in the behavior of chimpanzees?
"Chimps wage war, take land"
"Single-file patrols attack outsiders, study finds"
"WASHINGTON - - Chimpanzees wage war, mercilessly killing members of neighboring groups to expand their own territory, researchers report Monday."
"biologists had long suspected that chimp violence could be more than random.
"Unusual chimpanzee patrols in which the animals moved quickly, silently and in single file, carefully watching for other chimpanzees."
"They had been on patrol outside of their territory for more than two hours when they surprised a small group of females from the community to the northwest."
"The attackers quickly killed one and struggled with the mother of the second for an hour and a half."
"In the process, our [the chimps observed by the researchers] chimpanzees have acquired more land and resources that are then redistributed to others in the group."
* Prior to the research of the now world famous Jane Goodall, chimpanzees were thought be placid, tree-dwelling, vegetarian creatures. A more kinder and gentler form of the primate than the human. That sort of perception no longer exists. Chimps have been observed killing and eating small animals [meat], making and using tools, having a boss ape [the alpha male], having an aggressive side to them, and even waging what seems to resemble war.
[the experts are fond of stating that only among the animal kingdom do humans and ANTS wage war!]
* Chimps and humans share a 99.9 % genome. Genetically very similar. Our closest relatives in the animal kingdom. That 1/10 of 1 % does make, however, for quite a difference, does it not?
* Chimps have been seen making tools for war. Branches found on the ground or ripped off a tree, used as a club. Use stones in hand to strike one another too?
* I have actually seen the films that show the chimps on patrol, as described in the Tribune article. And it DOES resemble a military patrol. Single file, spaced individuals, patrolling their turf, casually ambling along, with a purpose however, very alert, taking the full measure of their surroundings and paying particular interest to any disturbance they may come along. Patrolling!!
* These chimps where not only defending their "turf", they were outside of their normal territory and desiring to expand if possible. So it seems. Scouting and taking advantage of whatever situation occurs. Expansionist. For the gain of land and resources and the betterment of the "tribe".
Monday, June 21, 2010
This has the potential to be very serious. If true, an egregious violation of Article 88 of the UCMJ? Uniform Code of Military Justice.
NO criticism of the President or member of Congress allowed by military personnel. This story can take off at any time too? And has serious ramifications for the entire conflict in Afghan? NOT GOOD!!
"Top general in Afghan war: US envoy betrayed me"
"WASHINGTON (AP) — The top U.S. war commander in Afghanistan told an interviewer he felt betrayed by the man the White House chose to be his diplomatic partner, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry."
"A band of McChrystal's profane, irreverent aides are quoted mocking Vice President Joe Biden and Richard Holbrooke, the special U.S. representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan."
"although McChrystal voted for Obama, the two failed to connect from the start"
Comments, irreverent, jocular or otherwise, are not allowed in the military, when directed against the President or members of Congress!
We might have a crisis on our hands, reminiscent of the brouhaha surrounding President Truman and General Mac Arthur during the Korean War. Over sixty years ago, but the UCMJ is as relevant then as it was now.
[UCMJ as it is now only applying after 1954, the concept of criticism of civilian authority is the same!]
NONE of this is good! Let cooler heads prevail. Too much is at stake!
As if the Koreans and Americans do not have enough to worry about already concerning Kim and the North Korean threat.
What is one to make of this? Some sort of radiation leakage, NOT thought to be from an atomic test, but a leakage - - having a nuclear source of some sort, has been detected on the DMZ separating North from South Korea.
"Abnormal radiation detected near Korean border"
"SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Abnormally high radiation levels were detected near the border between the two Koreas days after North Korea claimed to have mastered a complex technology key to manufacturing a hydrogen bomb"
"the atmospheric concentration of xenon — an inert gas released after a nuclear explosion or and radioactive leakage from a nuclear power plant — on the South Korean side their shared border was found to be eight times higher than normal"
"a nuclear test or radioactive leakage would be the only reasons that could explain the atmospheric concentration of xenon"
THE ONLY REASONS! But somewhat inexplicable in nature. Comrade Kim continues his machinations unabated, enjoying the limelight, the notoriety. Enjoying his claim to fame with all sorts of mischief.
More on this later? Or will this "story" go nowhere? It took the U.S. about eight years from 1945 until 1953 from the first fissionable atomic detonation until a fusion reaction and hydrogen type weapon was exploded. The North Koreans have found a way to speed up the process - - going from the small to the big?
Sunday, June 20, 2010
This is coolbert:
"'Conceited blockheads' - - wearing corsets and scent"
Even from the earliest age, it would seem, Adolf Hitler had an instinctive, strongly-held, deep-rooted, and base emotional response to those of the military officer class.
Thanks to sawfnews for the lead to this!
Military officers, in those years prior to the Great War [WW1], those seen in Vienna by the teenage Adolf, lieutenants and such of the Austro-Hungarian army, "hated", "despised", looked-down upon, even by a young man, a young adult, a person without even hardly any worldly experience at all.
Even as a teenager, the young Hitler had the strongest negativity directed against those of the officer elite. Persons, the officer elite, quite often of the minor nobility, refined, educated, polished men-of-the-world! An aristocracy both literal and figurative that was loathed by the man who became "the leader".
All this we know from a most surprising source. The teenage best friend of Hitler, a man named Kubiczek, an image we obtain of Hitler as a young adult from the memoirs of the man [Kubiczek]. Written after the end of the Second World War [WW2], the English translation only NOW becoming available? [a free download is available]
In particular, Hitler the teenager had an unrequited love, an infatuation for a Jewish girl, Stefani! Stefani and her mother quite often seen in the company of young officers, those of the "elite", a situation that must have been quite galling to Adolf.
"But from time to time the, two ladies [Stefani and mother] were to be seen in the company of young officers. Poor, pallid youngsters like Adolf naturally could not hope to compete with these young lieutenants in their smart uniforms. Adolf felt this intensely and gave vent to his feelings with eloquence. His anger, in the end, led him into uncompromising enmity towards the officer class as a whole, and everything military in general."
"a book – “The Young Hitler I Knew” – written by Hitler’s childhood friend August Kubizek. The uncensored account in English, published nearly 70 years after it was written"
"August (Gustl) Kubizek . . . was a close friend of Adolf Hitler when both were in their late teens. He later wrote about their friendship."
AND, as is known, during the Great War, Hitler did comport himself with honor as a soldier of some marked ability. BUT WAS NOT FELT BY HIS SUPERIORS TO BE OF OFFICER MATERIAL. WAS FELT TO BE TOO MENTALLY UNSTABLE!!
And, as is also well known, Hitler during WW2, while in command, was constantly in conflict with his most senior military commanders, constantly meddling in strategy, not trusting those he needed to rely upon for advice, etc. Contemptuous disregard for sound recommendations much to the detriment of the German soldier in the field.
And from where exactly does a young man, a teenager, develop such strongly held negativity and hate? A negativity and hate, an ENMITY carried to ridiculous extremes! You tell me.
And all this and more because of one Jewish girl - - Stefani - - and "an unrequited love"!
Thanks to the Mail Online we have the pronouncements of a fellow blogger, Peter Hitchens. English bloke attempting to debunk the "myth" of British evacuation at Dunkirk ! Peter - - an iconoclastic and acerbic writer, self-assured of his opinions. Even taking glee in stirring up controversy?
"This is Peter Hitchens' Mail on Sunday column"
"Dunkirk: Are we finally ready to face the truth?"
"I think enough time has passed since Dunkirk for us [British] to admit the truth about it. It was not a triumph, but a terrible national defeat – surpassed in the 20th Century only by the other Churchillian catastrophe of Singapore in 1942."
"Having entered a war for which we were wholly unready, for a cause which was already lost, at a time we did not choose and with allies on whom we could not rely, we were flung off the continent of Europe in weeks. Only thanks to a double devil’s pact did we survive as a nation."
"Sooner or later, the fuzzy, cosy myth of World War Two and our ‘Finest Hour’ will fade. We once needed to pretend Dunkirk was a triumph. If we are to carve our way in a hostile world, we now need to understand – as those who were actually on the beaches well knew – that it wasn’t any such thing."
According to Peter: "it wasn’t any such thing."
To be sure, the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force [BEF], France, 1940, was a manifestation of a severe defeat [on land] during the Battle of France, 194. YES! 100 % agreement about that.
BUT - - Peter is also in part wrong! The ability to evacuate 300,000 troops, minus impedimenta [their gear], was a MAJOR SUCCESS!!
ONLY TWO NATIONS IN THE HISTORY OF WARFARE HAVE EVER BEEN ABLE TO SUCCESSFULLY CONDUCT SUCH MILITARY OPERATIONS! A reverse amphibious operation, UNDER FIRE, evacuation, departing the beaches for ships rather than landing from ships! ONLY THE ENGLISH [DUNKIRK] AND AMERICANS [HUNGNAM, KOREA] HAVE EVER DEMONSTRATED SUCH A CAPABILITY! To the extent that Dunkirk was carried out as it was, represents not a failure, but a success.
[American units being evacuated from Hungnam in addition departed with all their impedimenta, a remarkable feat!!]
Amphibious operations are generally conceded to the most difficult of all military endeavors. Going from one element [water] to another [land] is intuitively hard and presents certain unique problems.
See my prior blog entry on the entire topic of successful reverse amphibious operations.
I must also qualify my prior statement that only the English and U.S. has shown a capacity to carry out reverse amphibious operations. The German during Operation Hannibal also demonstrated a surprising, almost amazing adeptness at such "maneuvers".
Peter is in part right and part wrong, and Bert is here to correct him.
NOW you know the rest of the story.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Here thanks to oneindia, the real dope on the poison chemical agent Tabun, a weapon that had war-winning or war-changing possibilities for the German during the Second World War [WW2], but never used!!
"Allies would lost Second World War had Hitler used deadly nerve gas: Expert"
As the D-Day anniversary approaches, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, Frank J. Dinan, has revealed what could have happened if Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler had used the deadly nerve gas Tabun.
TABUN! Deadly nerve agent, a poison gas, in the hands of the German, stockpiled, the gas masks and filters of the allied forces being ineffective against this toxic agent. Employment would have resulted in massive allied casualties!!
TABUN - - accidentally discovered, and kept a secret throughout the course of the war, the existence of this agent NOT KNOWN TO ALLIED AND SOVIET INTELLIGENCE!!
"the Tabun story began on December 23, 1936, when a single drop of that newly-made chemical fell to the floor of a laboratory in Germany".
"The two men working there immediately suffered diminished vision, labored breathing and a loss of muscle control."
"By mid 1943 thousands of tons of Tabun had been produced, loaded into artillery shells and bombs that were moved to storage sites throughout Germany."
"The secrecy that surrounded Tabun was so effective that the Allies had no hint of its existence and had no comparable weapons to retaliate with if the Nazis used it."
That widespread use of poison gas and other chemical agents was not availed by the fascist forces [or allies for that matter], is generally thought to have been because of:
1. Hitler had a visceral unfavorable reaction to the use of any chemical agents! Having been temporary blinded by mustard gas attack during WW1, Hitler forbade the use of poison gas - - presumably in reaction to his own experiences.
2. The use of such chemical agents - - poison gases and such, would not have had the profound and dramatic influence on the course of the war as it was fought. The gain as compared to the loss would not have been so great, the effort too costly for whatever advantage may have been [and only maybe] been achieved.
3. The German BELIEVED [erroneously] THAT THE ALLIES ALSO POSSESSED A CHEMICAL POISON GAS ANALOGOUS TO TABUN!! Retaliation was not worth the risk.
This is not to say that poison gas was NOT used in WW2.
The Japanese made numerous poison gas attacks on Chinese Nationalist forces in those years prior to December 1941. Most liberal and egregious use of poison gas employed at the Battle of Wuhan! During the much wider war in the Pacific Theatre, NO poison gas was used, the threat of retaliation being to great?
"Emperor Shōwa [Hirohito] authorized by specific orders (rinsanmei) the use of chemical weapons against the Chinese. During the battle of Wuhan, Prince Kan'in transmitted the emperor's orders to use toxic gas on 375 separate occasions"
[release of poison gas for use was supposedly made only with the personal confirmation of Emperor Hirohito. Yet the man in the aftermath of the war was NOT reated as a war criminal?]
See these previous blog entries also concerning the German use [?] of poison gas on the Eastern Front during WW2. Used sparingly and very selectively, but still used:
* Brest Fortress [?]. Tear gas at any rate, some suggest poison gas.
* Warsaw Ghetto. Used against the Jewish ZOB fighters.
* Adzhimushkay Catacombs.
IN ALL CASES HOWEVER - - NOT TABUN!!
[I recall very well that the greatest fear of the coalition prior to the First Gulf War  was for allied forces to get "hung-up" in the "Saddam Line" while getting saturated with artillery rounds containing nerve agent, presumably Tabun!!]
Friday, June 18, 2010
Here from the DEBKAfile, Israeli "Special Analysis".
U.S. and NATO forces, with their Afghan allies, are at best able to achieve a stalemate situation with regard to the Taliban. NOT able to decisively defeat the Taliban and create a secure and prosperous Afghan!
"Pakistan SIS helps Taliban beat US and NATO in Afghanistan"
[DEBKAfile is poorly informed. That is the Pakistan ISI, not SIS. Well, just a transposition of letters. But experts are not supposed to make such mistakes, are they?]
"DEBKAfile Special Analysis"
13 June: US-led NATO forces may soon find their campaign in Afghanistan no longer winnable - with a draw at best, or a Taliban-al Qaeda victory, at worst, terminating the conflict.
"DEBKAfile outlines four factors which have brought this situation to pass:
* "the Kandahar offensive's postponement"
* "Taliban's acquisition of anti-air missiles"
* "[an] ability to strike anywhere in Kabul" [Taliban]
* "Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence [ISI] Agency's extensive support for the Taliban."
I guess it could be suggested that a compromise solution to the Afghan problem, with a graceful exit of U.S. and NATO forces from Afghan, would be a far better ending to the situation than has been the historical case for others, i.e., British and Soviets. Insurrections, guerrilla wars, rebellions of this nature are OFTEN settled by a political compromise. I guess the major question would be - - to what extent is Al Qaeda still a viable element and what sort of sanctuary might they [Al Qaeda] still find within Afghan?
Such analysis as from the DEBKAfile in the form of a one-page document is the type of stuff that is presented on a daily basis to leaders such as Obama and Netanyahu.
You too, the average-citizen, thanks to the Internet and resources, also have such material at your fingertips.
We do live in a remarkable age!!
Thursday, June 17, 2010
This is coolbert:
"as soon as I saw where the 88th Division was being committed I realized where the main effort would be" - - The German General Von Schellwitz
It having been apparent to me that several "best" were omitted from my original blog list, here is the remedy.
MORE military "bests"! Forgotten previously - - but now remembered.
1. Rick Rescorla. "Best" platoon commander [infantry].
Rick Rescorla. Infantry soldier, serving with the U.S. Army in Vietnam, demonstrating outstanding combat leadership skills at the most basic level of command. Nicknamed "Tammy".
"Lieutenant General Hal Moore described him as 'the best platoon leader I ever saw'".
Rick Rescorla in particular distinguishing himself during the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley. Perhaps the worst and most difficult combat action fought by American infantry during the Vietnam War.
The photo accompanying this blog entry is of Rick Rescorla at Ia Drang. ALSO an iconic photo of the Vietnam War!
"Richard Cyril "Rick" Rescorla (May 27, 1939 – September 11, 2001) was a retired United States Army officer [Colonel] of British birth who served with distinction in Rhodesia as a member of the British South African Police . . . and as [a] British soldier"
"[a] . . . paratrooper with The Parachute Regiment . . . serving with an intelligence unit in Cyprus . . . served as a paramilitary police inspector in the Northern Rhodesia Police . . . joined the Metropolitan Police Service"
Rescorla having natural athletic ability, an adeptness at the physical combined with an intensiveness and mental abilities [law degree] - - a highly motivated self-starting individual.
"he was a sports natural, setting a school record in the shot put, and was an avid boxer." [also an outstanding rugby player.]
Rick Rescorla, his life being tragically cut-short by the disaster of 9/11, Rescorla perishing in the collapse of the WTC buildings.
2. 88th Infantry Division [U.S.]. Rated by Trevor Dupuy as "BEST" American combat unit [army] of the Second World War [WW2].
An all-draftee infantry division, the first such American combat unit to be trained and deployed overseas. Was formed as a unit, trained, evaluated, deemed ready for combat, in a record sixteen months! [in all things, the 88th Division just seemed to out-do other run-of-the-mill U.S. units.
The 88th Division seeing extensive combat during the Italian campaign, comporting itself with distinction on all occasions. The 88th Division in the forefront of Operation Diadem , the operation to capture Rome from the Axis powers.
The high rating accorded the 88th Division is well-merited, the calculations and pronouncements of Dupuy having an independent and most interesting confirmation:
"the Tagebuch (War Diary) of the German Tenth Army revealed that by late 1944 the Germans were classing the 88th as a 'shock troops' division. Also, when the 88th Division was committed into the battle line, the Germans shifted their reserves, anticipating a main effort in the 88th Division sector . . . the German believed that the 88th Infantry Division was something special."
"Shock troops or assault troops are infantry formations and their supporting units, intended to lead an attack."
"General Von Schellwitz . . . told interrogators that 'as soon as I saw where the 88th Division was being committed I realized where the main effort would be -- they have always spearheaded Fifth Army drives.'"
YES INDEED!! Praise from the enemy is high praise indeed.
Devoted readers to the blog - - can suggest more military "bests"? Please comment. Your suggestions welcome!!
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Go here and see very good photographs from the Vietnam War. Described as iconic.
Here with my selection and commentary: [in no specific order or precedence]
Within that plastic bag are the remains of a loved one. I think this is in the aftermath of the Battle of Hue, 1968. 4,000 South Vietnamese civilians rounded up and executed by North Vietnamese/VC cadre. A cold-blooded and carefully pre-meditated massacre. Persons executed by the communists, deemed collaborators, "puppets" of the Americans and Saigon government.
General Loan has asked just prior to the shooting: "where was this man captured??"
"Lém [the doomed man] was captured near the site of a ditch holding as many as thirty-four bound and shot bodies of police and their relatives"
INCLUDING FOUR SMALL CHILDREN WHOSE THROATS WERE CUT, THOSE CHILDREN HAVING GENERAL LOAN AS THEIR GODFATHER!!
NOW you know the rest of the story!
Iconic photographs and images. For some reason I am particularly fond of the black and white photograph. And too, those photographers, each respectively, intuitively or not, have added an ARTISTIC FLAIR TO EACH AND EVERYONE OF THE IMAGES, perhaps not even realizing they had done so at the time!!
Monday, June 14, 2010
# 6 "Defenders' chances of success are directly proportional to fortification strength." - - Dupuy.
The defense of the Brest Fortress. June 1941. Soviet troops defending against overwhelming numbers and force of the German army. The tenacity and heroism of the Red Army troops becoming almost folkloric in nature. The comportment of the defenders heroic beyond question.
The Brest Fortress - - originally conceived and built in the 1830's - - by 1941 an outmoded and archaic anachronism. A citadel surrounded by three other forts, protected by moats, canals, buildings with thick walls, earthen ramparts, subterranean construction.
BUT - - to the extent the Fortress existed, it GREATLY ENHANCED THE CHANCES OF SUCCESSFUL DEFENSE BY THE RED ARMY TROOPS!! NO one would suggest that the Fortress was inpregnable. Defeat was inevitable without relief . However, the archaic but still formidable fortress did allow the defenders a fighting chance!
There are a considerable number of interesting aspects to the defense of the Brest Fortress. To include:
1. Capture of the enemy colors. German troops NOT able to capture the Red Army colors of those units defending the fortress. Extraordinary measures taken by Red Army troops to protect the colors, even to the point of death. Colors hidden and later recovered - - the type of courageous effort from which legends are made.
"The enemy couldn't get a single Red Army standard on the territory of the Fortress. At the critical moment Junior Sergeant Rodion Semenyuk and two other soldiers buried the standard of the 393rd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion in one of the casemates on the East Fort west side. Fifteen years later, Semenyuk returned to Brest, found the spot and dug the standard up."
2. The use of the Germans of extraordinary weaponry to reduce and destroy the fortress. Weaponry that was not envisioned as being necessary became an essential in overcoming the most surprising resistance of the Red Army defenders.
Weaponry to include the siege mortars of 54 centimeter [21 inches] and 60 centimeter [23 inches] bore. AND THE USE OF GAS. Non-lethal [some web sites suggest it was lethal agent] riot agent [tear gas]. Another instance of the use of chemical agents by fascist forces during WW2.
"The Germans deployed various powerful guns . . . resorted to tear gas and flame throwers"
3. Surviving Red Army troops, captured, taken prisoner by the German, when repatriated, becoming pariahs among their own people, accused of collaboration, sent to forced labor camps. Harsh and unremitting treatment for persons that behaved heroically in combat, far beyond any reasonable expectations!! Heroes that were treated very badly.
"some of the survivors who returned to the USSR after spending the rest of the war in Nazi concentration camps were imprisoned by the Soviet authorities under charges of treason (see Order No. 270) and collaboration and sent to labor camps."
[Stalin was a real bastard of a human being. NO doubt about it]
4. I would be remiss in NOT mentioning that there were two defenses of the Brest Fortress during WW2. The first was in 1939 - - the Battle of Poland. Polish troops defending the Fortress for four days, successfully, before retiring.
"During the Invasion of Poland in 1939 the fortress was defended for 4 days by a small garrison of four infantry battalions and two tank companies under Gen. Konstanty Plisowski against the XIX Panzer Corps of Gen. Heinz Guderian."
5. And most evocative from the battle for the Brest Fortress [1941 is this inscription found in a cellar, a constituent part of the fortress. Scratched, presumably with a bayonet, into a wall, almost A FULL MONTH AFTER THE INTIAL ONSLAUGHT, A DETERMINED SOVIET HOLD-OUT - - TENACIOUS TO THE EXTREME!!
That says it all, doesn't it!
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Please forgive me, but I am back to the subject of burial - - specifically that of the war dead.
In this specific case, Edwin Dyett. English bloke from the era of the Great War [WW1], one of two British officers shot for cowardice and desertion, while in the face of the enemy.
A man who in some circles remains a cause celebre' to this day?
"cause cé· lè·bre - - n. 1. An issue arousing widespread controversy or heated public debate. 2. A celebrated legal case."
A man, being executed with dishonor, nonetheless, seemingly having been buried with some degree of honor? A burial in the cemetery of Le Crotoy, France, the remains of Edwin finding final repose with other deceased from the Great War, men whose death was deemed HONORABLE!!
It seems that in the aftermath of WW1, those having been executed for dishonorable behavior WERE given proper and respectful burial. I guess that the question would be - - DID Edwin do well?
"Executed men eventually received the same gravestones as their comrades and with no mention of their dishonourable ends."
And thanks once more to the Telegraph, we have this item from just recently, 2006. A movement was afoot, perhaps by now having been brought to fruition, to rehabilitate those executed for cowardice during WW1, COMPENSATION BEING DUE THE ESTATE OF THE DECEASED! From almost one hundred years ago now - - justice will be done?
"Families of WW1 soldiers shot for cowardice 'are owed compensation'"
"The payment would be for loss of life, loss of pension, loss of earnings and loss of the right to enjoy family life. It seems only fitting."
Like I said, in some circles, Edwin and others like him are a cause celebre'!
1. From the Telegraph, as of August, 2008:
"Body of WWII airman found dangling from a tree"
Human remains, believed to be from a combatant of the Second World War [WW2], found hanging from a tree in New Guinea. Evidently a "bailed-out" aviator, caught by his rigging, not able to make it to the ground, the body "caught", disintegrating with time, covered with moss, but the outline of a human body still plainly discernible!
"The suspected remains of a Second World War airman have been found dangling from a tree in the dense jungles of Papua New Guinea."
A story that caused a mild stir at the time!!
"The skeleton of what is thought to be a World War II pilot hangs in the jungle canopy along the Kokoda Track"
"in a harness. There are goggles and it appears to be caught up in cables, so presumably it is an airman,"
"a jumble of cords and bits of parachute harness leaves."
"If confirmed as a human body it is likely to be the remains of an Australian, American or Japanese airman, left undisturbed in the forest for more than 60 years"
2. NOW, thanks to the BBC, only two weeks after the discovery of the "body" hanging from a tree"
"Papua 'remains' are not WWII body"
"Hikers thought moss-covered branches were the remains of a WWII airman"
Well, what was thought to be so was not so. It was not a body - - rather, a growth, branches and vegetation, having shape and form of a human body, but merely that, jungle vegetation covered with moss and nothing more. Where all the notions of cable, harness and goggles came from I do not know!!
"The Australian military sent a team to investigate the 'body' only to discover it was a branch tangled in vines."
3. And here from 2007 - - the Philippines, the remains of Japanese soldiers, fragments of bone I would think mostly, being burned. Japanese "bone pickers, what they are called, devoted to proper ceremony and ritual for Japanese war dead - - many decades after the end of the war in the Pacific.
"Japanese soldiers' bones burned; At rites in Ifugao to release spirits of the dead."
"KIANGAN, Ifugao - Japanese bone pickers were here last week to retrieve and ceremonially burn the skeletal remains of Japanese soldiers killed 62 years ago during World War II."
"Japanese officials and a high priest burned the collected human skeletons believed to be those of Japanese soldiers 'to release the spirits of the dead.' This is consistent with mandatory cremation of the dead, a Japanese tradition"
Within the Buddhist tradition [perhaps even more so within the tradition of Shinto?], those deceased, the body of which is not disposed of according to proper ritual, roam the earth as ghosts? Proper ceremony obligatory to the greatest extent possible!
"those who in Buddhism are reborn in the 'realm' where they wander the earth eating waste. The fear of many Japanese, indeed, is that Japanese soldiers who died missing in action in many places in World War II, and whose bones may lie without proper burial or rites, did end up as hungry ghosts in such places."
Japanese civilians - - "bone pickers" have been a presence all throughout the WW2 Pacific theatre for decades now! A noble but thankless task properly disposing of the remains of Japanese soldiers, what still exists. A devotion to Buddhist ritual and belief that is to be admired.
Here is the Great War [WW1] saga of Vacquois.
Scene of intense tunnel warfare during WW1. Perhaps the one site in all of France that most epitomizes the entire concept of tunnel warfare as it was fought during the era.
The small French village of Vacquois - - sitting atop a butte, dominating terrain - - vicinity of Verdun. Dominant terrain fiercely contested by both sides [French and German] more or less for the entire length of the war. Contested primarily UNDERGROUND. The weapon of choice being a tunnel packed at the far end with explosive, detonated under the front line of the enemy!!
"It provided a superb observation point for road and rail traffic from the Islettes pass, and therefore, eventually, all movement to and from Verdun."
"butte - - n. A hill that rises abruptly from the surrounding area and has sloping sides and a flat top."
FOR A PERIOD OF FOUR YEARS, NEITHER SIDE EVER TO DISLODGE THE OPPONENT, THE COMBATANTS ESCHEWING ABOVE-GROUND CONVENTIONAL FRONTAL ASSAULTS - - RESORTING TO TUNNELING AND SAPPING AS A MEANS OF OVERCOMING THE OPPOSITION!!
Dig a tunnel from your side of the butte so that it extended under the front line trenches of the enemy, pack that tunnel at the far end with explosive, and detonate. Mining, counter-mining, sapping and counter-sapping that went on more or less continuously for three years!!
Combatants too engaging in warfare, hand-to-hand, miners and counter-miners sometimes meeting underground, deliberately or otherwise, trench-raid style warfare being the result, but subterranean! Literally cave-man type battle. Picks, shovels, hand-guns, grenades, knives, fists, boots, etc.
[these tunnels to a large extent were probably dug by men who in civilian life were professional miners? I think so!]
Again, during that entire period, neither side being able to dislodge the other!!
The village of is now gone forever. A multitude of craters now exists were the battlefield once was. And under the butte it is estimated there is no less than TEN MILES OF TUNNEL!!
"The sappers of both sides shifted tons of Argonne rock, a loamy sandstone the French called 'gaize', to create an underground system of tunnels, on three levels, that eventually totalled 17 km (12 km German/5 km French), and between them exploded 519 mines (199 German/320 French)."
During the Great War, not only did Vacquois die for France, but so did the butte!! All it seems, from a military stand-point, for nought.
What remains is now a popular tourist attraction? Tunnels and craters galore? Well, if you like that sort of stuff!
Friday, June 11, 2010
The 1927 Cristero War, a rebellion by those opposed to the anti-clerical measures of the Mexican government, is still remembered by the average Mexican, the cowboy, the vaquero, the rider on the horse.
In an amazing manner! An apparently spontaneous, unrehearsed, "grass-roots" style remembrance of things past. Much as was the insurgency of the Cristeros to a degree spontaneous, unrehearsed, a "grass-roots" rebellion.
The Cristero War. A particularly bloody guerrilla insurrection - - the conflict only being ended in large measure because of the mediation of the American Ambassador.
A guerrilla army of Mexican peasantry led most successfully by "a pharmacist, a ranch hand, and two priests!!" Intuitive military commanders and leaders. Well, if that is all you need, that is all you need!!
An insurrection commemorated by an annual ceremony that has occurred for fifty-one years now. As described in the August 2007 edition of the National Geographic: "Mexico's PILGRIM COWBOYS"
"In central Mexico, time and place are fluid, and history runs into the present, and the present is always straining in the the afterlife so that nothing is only what it seems. For example, at dawn on January 5, the day before Epiphany, on a dusty rancho in El Rodeo"
"Clusters of riders - - dozens, hundreds in a group - - cross Guanajuato state . . . This pilgrimage has no official routes, no central organization, but it's been happening for more than half a century, and it's growing."
Thousands [three to four thousand] cowboys [vaqueros] making a sacred pilgrimage, wearing the obligatory and symbolic white cowboy hat, a trek via horseback across desolate terrain to a high mountain peak, and, again, in remembrance [?] of the failed uprising and those that died in the conflict.
Makes for a very impressive devotional and spiritual exercise.
"History runs into the present"! Very true.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Here from the Internet Archive - - free to download and keep, to be read at your leisure, a collection of forty nine titles - - invasion literature of the era, circa 1900 primarily!
Alternative history, novelettes, short stories, speculative military science-fiction, etc.
Germany invades and conquers England. Germany at war with America, Japan at war with America, the results unfavorable to the U.S. That sort of thing.
"Imaginary wars and battles"
This particular title I found to especially intriguing. As written by Marsden Manson. Very short story, about thirty-six pages only, you can read in one sitting without breaking a sweat!
"The yellow peril in action, a possible chapter in history; dedicated to the men who train and direct the men behind the guns" - Manson, Marsden, 1850-
China at war with the U.S. - - Japan in league with China, the year is 1909. The teeming hordes of China, organized into armies of prodigious size, supported by the pre-Dreadnought and Dreadnought navy of the Japanese, the Chinese able to besiege and capture American Pacific outposts, Guam, Philippines, Pago Pago [Samoa] and Hawaii. American west coast ports blockaded, no Panama Canal in place for passage of American warships from the Atlantic to Pacific.
Download and read. You will enjoy. And Marsden Manson was both a prolific and prescient writer too. An man that had some pretty good insights. Unfortunately several pertinent pages are missing from the collection [Manson refers to the brochure]. Evidently the destruction of the U.S. Pacific fleet was primarily accomplished by torpedoes fired from submarines and steaming yachts surreptitiously fitted for firing "fish"!
[Manson was a writer totally unknown to me prior to this. A highly educated man, PhD in Engineering, a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute [VMI], and as a public works engineer inextricably linked to the San Francisco as we know it, the city having to have been rebuilt in the aftermath of the Earthquake of 1906!!]
Monday, June 7, 2010
The most senior French military commander during the Battle of France, 1940, General Gamelin, is a figure not well understood, the man being a non-entity as far as the history books are concerned.
The speed, the rapidity, the apparent ease of German victory - - 1940, came as a decided and VERY unexpected shock to the democracies of the western world? Within SIX WEEKS the Germans had accomplished what they had been unable to do during the FOUR YEARS of the Great War [1914-1918]. AND, again - - did so with what seemed to be "apparent ease"
THE FRENCH JUST SEEMED TO COLLAPSE!
"Maurice Gustave Gamelin . . . was a French general. Gamelin is best remembered for his unsuccessful command of the French military in 1940 during the Battle of France and his steadfast defense of republican values."
"The generalissimo of the French armed forces in World War II, Gamelin was viewed as a man with significant intellectual ability. He was respected, even in Germany, for his intelligence and 'subtle mind', though he was also viewed by some German generals as stiff and predictable . . . his command of the French armies during the critical days of May 1940 proved to be disastrous"
Disastrous and humiliating in the extreme. So much so that it has been suggested that Gamelin was either very incompetent or A TRAITOR. Furthering German victory by lackadaisacal response, indecisiveness, etc. PERHAPS EVEN DESIRING A GERMAN VICTORY!
From the book "The Ultra Secret" by F.W. Winterbotham:
And from another source, that Gamelin was not so much traitorous as grossly incompetent. Treason emanating from another direction:
Gamelin, during the Great War [WW1], did display some panache', competence, ability! A commander whose record was excellent! And a man who did prescribe to French Republican democratic ideals when large portions of the French electorate were in a ferment, far-right and far-left both!!
Those French and English general officers, during the various earliest stages [1939-1940] of the Second World War [WW2] - - at least to my way of thinking - - have the appearance of someone whose entire mentality and perception of warfare had NOT GONE BEYOND THE MANNER OF COMBAT AS EXPERIENCED IN 1918!! Appearances might be deceiving - - but these guys JUST LOOK OLD - - were out of place!! AND, then Gamelin was relieved of command, his replacement - - Weyand, was five years the senior of Gamelin! So you had failure reinforced by failure. There was no vigor or dynamism? Or am I being too harsh here?
"The 68 year-old Gamelin was replaced by the 73 year-old Maxime Weygand who immediately tried to launch counter-attacks but by then it was too late."
Gamelin in the aftermath of 1940 was placed on trial by the Vichy French, but maintained his decorum - - not availing his captors, maintaining his dignity, even in defeat.
Gamelin - - more incompetent that a traitor? This seems to be the case!