Monday, June 25, 2012

On This Day In History..........

In 1876....... Lt. Col. George A. Custer and 5 companies of the U.S. 7th Cavalry were killed in action, in an engagement with Sioux and Cheyenne warriors, near the Little Bighorn river in the Montana Territory. A total of around 210 men.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

On This Day In History................

IN 1916 The British Army began it's pre-assault  artillery bombardment on German trenches and defensive lines near the Somme river in France. The British had lined up 15,000 guns along the 20 mile front and they would fire uninterrupted for 7 days.

Monday, June 18, 2012

On The Road Again.................

Before I get all twisted up and start running around and forget it, I wanted to take the liberty of inviting anyone who happens to be within striking distance of Historic Ft. Frederick in Big Pool, MD this coming weekend (June 23rd - 24th) to please stop by and visit with Ms. Nancy, Sweet Daughter, Shorter Half and of course, your humble correspondent at the Brigade of the American Revolution's Grand Encampment. We will be set up as the Detached Hospital and be discussing with the public, the art and mystery of colonial period medicine, health care and of course surgery. Other folks will be explaining other aspects of life in the 18th century to include warfare and FIREARMS........... All kidding aside, if you have ever had a interest in anything regarding the revolutionary war, this is the event you need to attend. And we would LOVE to see ya'll.

On This Day In History.............

In 1815............

After what was called The Hundred Days, ( The period of time from the escape of Napoleon Bonaparte from the island of Elba to the reorganization  of the French Army and the march to Belgium )The Allied Army, A thrown together army of Prussians, Belgians, Dutch, and British commanded by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington  met the French Army under Napoleon  at Waterloo, Belgium.

The battle of Waterloo, consistently listed as one of the most important battles in world history, was a relatively short battle, starting at around 10:00 in the morning, (some records state 11:30) and lasted until Wellington and Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher commander of the Prussian Troops. met that night. at around 10:00. The late start was due to the muddy condition of the battlefield. It had rained all the night before adding to the misery of the soldiers in the field. The mud slowed down the movement of the soldiers as well as the artillery. It also interfered with the ability of the armies to use their cannons effectively. The cannons of the time fired solid shot, which they would try to "skip" off the ground to smash through the tightly packed ranks of the soldiers. On muddy fields, the solid shot buries it's self and does not bounce.

The battlefield was also relatively small, only two miles long by 2/3 of a mile wide. It was however highly concentrated, the Allied Forces had 68,000 men, the Prussians 50,000 facing, 72,000 French. When the battle was done, the Allies had lost 17,000 men, (3,500 killed, 10,200 wounded, 3,300 missing) The Prussians 7,000 men, (1,200 killed, 4,400 wounded and 1,400 missing) The French had lost over half of their forces 48,000 men (broken down to 25,000 killed and wounded, 8,000 captured and 15,000 missing) One of the things I find difficult in the study of history is wrapping my head around these kinds of numbers. Stalin was said to have said "One death is a tragedy, one million deaths is a statistic." It's hard to mentally visualize the numbers engaged as well as the casualties involved. So what I try to do is focus on the story of the individual.

I will not bore you with the major facts of the battle since many other writers have done a much, much better job of it than I could. John Keegan in "Faces of Battle" gives a great quick overview as well as David Howarth in his book "Waterloo: Day of Battle". I will share however some interesting, at least to me stories of the men and incidents of the battle.

One of the more important officers in Wellington's staff had roots deep in America. William De Lancey, the British Quartermaster-General was American born, of a Loyalist family. After the American Revolution, The De Lancey family ended up being driven out of America where they start over again. De Lancey died of wounds he received in battle.

The French Heavy Cavalry, called "Cuirassiers" after the heavy armored breast plate and back they wore were prominent in the battle. It was said after the battle, that the British infantry cooked their rations in the brest-plates of the dead Frenchmen. This picture of a Waterloo brest-plate in a museum, probably escaped that fate.

 Waterloo has to be one of the most written about battles in history. there are countless journals, diaries, and letters written by every one involved in the fight from common soldiers to the highest ranking general, but my favorite recollection was from a lowly "ranker" who when asked about the great battle, reportedly said: " I'll be hanged if I know anything about the matter," was all he could find to say, "for I was all day trodden into the mud and ridden over by every scoundrel who had a horse"
Some of the wounded laid on the battlefield for up to 5 days without medical attention. Not because of ill will on behalf of the armies, but simply because the medical resources of both sides were overwhelmed with the numbers of wounded men they had to deal with. The wounded also had to deal with looters that would steal over the battlefield, looting and sometime even killing the wounded when they resisted. The injured soldiers continued showing their bravery by undergoing some of the most horrific surgeries without anesthesia. After a French soldier had his leg taken off by a surgeon, he grabbed it, tossed it in the air and shouted "Vive l' Empereur" A British officer, not to be out done, had a leg amputated,then jumped off the surgical table, refusing all aid and hopped to a cart that was waiting to take him to Brussels. And a wooden leg was a life long badge of courage.
Even the dead were used.  At this time dentures were either made from carved ivory or from the teeth of the dead. Shortly after the battle, there were large numbers of people who were searching the battlefield to extract teeth from corpses. There were literally barrels of teeth that were shipped to England to be turned into dentures and "Waterloo Teeth" were something of a conversation piece for many years.
 In 1970 the movie Waterloo was done with a proverbial "cast of thousand:" It wasn't half bad, so to close I 
 have attached a clip of the movie from You Tube. If you like, watch it and remember the fallen........

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day..............

Just wanted to tip my hat to all those gents who happen to hold the second toughest job in the world. (Mom's have the toughest, hands down) The sainted and long suffering Ms. W and myself were never lucky enough to have kids, so I spend my time spoiling other folks young un's. So you dads out there, congratulations and enjoy the blessing that you have today.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Breaking News.............

In Oregon, a man attempted to rescue a mouse from a stray cat.According to health authorities, he was bitten by either the cat or the mouse and ended up with the plague. You know, the Black Death, that took out most of the population of Europe in the middle ages?

Just goes to show that no good deed goes unpunished.............

Welcome To The Land Of The Big PX.........

Since the Lightbringer has decided to be fair and welcoming by Imperial decree, (Not to mention getting at least a FEW future votes) I thought HE might need a theme song......................

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Good Information To Know.............

IF you ever want to get through a Trader Joe's in record time, all you have to do is wear a Vlad the Impaler T-Shirt and a ball cap that has Infidel written on it in both English and Arabic. I kid you not, my fellow shoppers parted like the Red Sea when ever I pushed my cart in their direction. Heck, I couldn't get close enough to them to even get the slightest whiff of Patchouli.

Monday, June 11, 2012

O.K. I Know I've Shared This Before.............

While sitting here ozoned out in front of the tube yesterday, it once again struck me like a lightning bolt. Have you ever noticed the remarkable resemblance between  Nancy Pelosi and Cruella De Vil of 101 Dalmatians fame? It's almost as if they were separated at birth.....

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Another Blast From The Past.........

Inspector Alexander "Clubber" Williams
N.Y.P.D. 1866-1895

 "There is more law in the end of a policeman's nightstick then in a decision of the Supreme Court"

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Lawyer from South Dakota.......

Yesterday was the anniversary of the battle of Midway, the turning point for the war in the Pacific in WWII. I wanted to reprint this but couldn't due to being on the road returning from Nancy R.'s Kid Shoot and open carry weekend. (At which I had a ball, post to follow) Read and remember.........

It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

General George S. Patton

The lawyer from South Dakota

On memorial day, veterans graves across the country are honored with wreaths and flags. But some veterans have no graves to honor, and can only be remembered.

Lieutenant Commander John C. Waldron, U.S.N.

He & his men changed the course of World War II in the Pacific, and didn't live to know it.

He was a lawyer, born in Fort Pierre, South Dakota. His father was descended from English settlers, his mother was a Sioux Indian.

He was married, with 2 daughters.

He was admitted to the state bar in South Dakota, but rather then going into practice decided to join the U.S. Navy. He was chosen to be a pilot, in the new field of naval aviation.

He trained to fly torpedo planes (no longer in use). Their goal was to fly close enough to an enemy ship to drop a torpedo into the water, then get away as fast as possible. This was a difficult job. It required the planes to fly in a low, straight line as they approached the enemy, making them easy targets for enemy fighters and anti-aircraft.

Waldron was a good pilot. He was chosen to teach at Annapolis, and later Pensacola. He flew planes off 1 battleship and 3 carriers.

He and his wife held parties for other pilots at their Norfolk home. He was very proud of his little girls. Some pilots remembered being taken to his daughters' darkened bedroom and asked "Did you guys ever see such pretty little girls?"

With war looming in the Summer of 1941, Waldron and his men were assigned to the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Hornet, in the Pacific theater.

He was determined. He once told his pilots that "if we run out of gas, we'll piss in the tanks." He wasn't looking for glory, or to become a martyr, or a hero. He was just doing his job.

On the morning of June 4, the Hornet was somewhere off Midway island, placed there to defend against the massive Japanese force sent to capture the Pacific base.

Waldron likely had few illusions about his chances. Although his men were well-trained, their "Devastator" torpedo bombers were already obsolete. The new "Avenger" planes were much better, but only beginning to roll out of the factories. And with the enemy coming, they had to make do with what they had. Before the battle he called his men together and said "If there is only one plane left to make a final run in, I want that man to go in and get a hit."

The Japanese "Zero" fighter was a lethal weapon. Though poorly protected, it was quicker and more maneuverable than it's American counterparts. And it was flown by some of the best pilots in the world.

On the morning of June 4, 1942, Waldron led Torpedo Squadron 8 off the Hornet. He had orders to search for the Japanese in a specific area, but had a hunch (he called it his "Sioux intuition") that the heading he'd been told to follow was wrong. He disobeyed orders, and it turned out his intuition was correct.

Waldron led his 15 planes straight to the enemy fleet. Forced to fly straight & low to aim their torpedoes, they were sitting ducks as the Zeroes swooped down and destroyed them one by one. Out of 30 men, there was only one survivor, Lt. George Gay. He saw Waldron stand up in his plane as it burst into flames, just before his own plane was shot out from under him. They didn't get a single hit.

The 15 pilots of Torpedo Squadron 8, photographed in May, 1942. Waldron is standing, 3rd from left. Lt. George Gay, (circled, 1st row) is the only man in the picture who survived.
In a few minutes all the planes of Torpedo Squadron 8 had vanished beneath the Pacific, leaving only Lieutenant Gay hiding from the Zeros under his flotation device. It was a disaster for the Americans.

But unbeknownst to all but Lt. Gay, they changed the course of the Pacific war.

The deadly Zeroes were now at sea level, on the prowl for more torpedo planes. But the next American wave, this time of dive bombers, was high above. They might have been easy targets, too. But as they came down the Zeroes were no longer in a position to defend their fleet, and couldn't gain altitude in time to stop the bombers. Between 10:20 and 10:25 a.m that morning the Japanese lost 3 of their 4 aircraft carriers to the bombers. The last carrier followed them a few hours later.

The loss of the four carriers, with their planes, pilots, and crews, was a blow the Japanese navy never recovered from. The war went on for 3 more years, but the tide was turned by the sacrifice of a group of men, led by a 41-year old lawyer from South Dakota.

The fallen from Torpedo Squadron 8. Their only grave marker is the blue Pacific water.

Lt. Commander John C. Waldron
Lt. Raymond A. Moore
Lt. James C. Owens, Jr.
Lt.(jg) George M. Campbell
Lt.(jg) John P. Gray
Lt.(jg) Jeff D. Woodson
Ens.William W. Abercrombie
Ens. William W. Creamer
Ens. Harold J. Ellison
Ens. William R. Evans
Ens. Henry R. Kenyun
Ens. Ulvert M. Moore
Ens. Grant W. Teats
Robert B. Miles, Aviation Pilot 1c
Horace F. Dobbs, Chief Radioman
Amelio Maffei, Radioman 1
Tom H. Pettry, Radioman 1
Otway D. Creasy, Jr. Radioman 2
Ross H. Bibb, Jr., Radioman 2
Darwin L. Clark, Radioman 2
Ronald J. Fisher, Radioman 2
Hollis Martin, Radioman 2
Bernerd P. Phelps Radioman 2
Aswell L. Picou, Seaman 2
Francis S. Polston, Seaman 2
Max A. Calkins, Radioman 3
George A. Field, Radioman 3
Robert K. Huntington Radioman 3
William F. Sawhill, Radioman 3