Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Crush Cap.

This is coolbert:

My initial reaction to the painting, "Torpedo Los" by Roy Lichtenstein, is that there was a slight technical error on the part of the artist.

The demented U-boat captain gazing through the periscope and ordering the firing of a torpedo is wearing his cap with the bill facing forward.


So I had thought! This is what I have seen in films and photographs.

A U-boat commander WOULD WEAR HIS HAT AT ALL TIMES WHILE ON DUTY? A sign of authority, the rest of the crew being hatless?

The above particular photo shows Peter-Erich Cremer and a crew member during a patrol! Almost looks like something from "Das Boot". A theatrical and posed photo?

Here is a classical photo of a U-boat manning the periscope. THIS IS THE SORT OF THING I AM TALKING ABOUT. CAP WORN BACKWARDS. Commander Kurt Diggins at the controls in this case!

But, here we have another U-boat skipper, Erich Topp, who, in this photo, is wearing his cap regulation style, manning the perisocope without problem?

So which is it? NO ONE correct way? Seems so!




This is coolbert:

"Threat level in Britain raised to 'critical'"

Attack on the Glasgow Airport by apparent jihadis? Two "south Asian men" [a British euphemism for Muslims from the Indian sub-continent] have been captured and are in custody.

A SUV ramming through the main entrance of the airport terminal. Drive the vehicle through the inner expanse, mowing down air travelers. That is what was planned?

[attacks of this type have occurred in San Francisco and North Carolina previously? This type of "warfare" is spread by discussion on jihadi web sites?]

Copycats or a well-thought-out jihadi tactic to be used over and over?

Access to the terminal was blocked by concrete post obstacles, bollards.

"bollards — security posts outside the entrance — stopped the driver from barreling into the bustling terminal at Glasgow's airport."

"Permanent and retractable buried bollards are increasingly common around the world to hinder vehicle-based terrorist actions from achieving close proximity to buildings"

[I have noticed recently that ALL jewelry stores in the U.S. are NOW incorporating into their architectural design bollards. At the entrance to deter smash and grab style attack using SUV, so favored by criminals, primarily street gang members.]

This could have been a major disaster. Lots of casualties.

"He's trying to get through the main door frame but the bollards have stopped him from going through. If he'd got through, he'd have killed hundreds, obviously,"

"Intelligence officials were examining a post to an Islamist Web site — hours before the cars were found — that suggested Britain would be attacked for awarding a knighthood to the novelist Salman Rushdie and for intervening in Muslim countries."

Well, there you have it. Salman Rushdie is awarded a knighthood, so you kill hundreds of folks in response.

This attack, coupled with the two car bombs discovered in London, could be an indication that the INTERNAL INSURRECTION feared by British MI5 is NOW taking place?

And, just think about how easy this sort of thing is to do. WHO NEEDS rifles, pistols, explosives, etc., when all you need is a SUV!



Friday, June 29, 2007


This is coolbert:

From the Potsdam Agreement:

"it is not the intention of the Allies to enslave the German people. It is the intention of the Allies that the German people be given the opportunity to prepare for the reconstruction of their life on a democratic and peaceful basis . . . it will be possible for them in due course to take their place among the free and peaceful peoples of the world."

In the aftermath of World War Two [WW2], Germany was in a beaten and very sorry state. An occupied nation without redeeming value in the eyes of many people the world over.

Interrogations by the allied powers of captured German military personnel proceeded in earnest. Including the interrogations of the surviving U-boat commanders.

From the book, "George Blake: Double Agent":

"their Lordships of the Admiralty wanted all the available facts on subjects ranging from the strategy of German pocket-battleships to the psychology of U-boat crews. The German invention of the revolutionary "Schnorkel" breathing system for submarines, the magnetic and pressure mines, ingeniously constructed torpedoes"

AND, along with the interrogations, apparently, POLITICAL DIALOG also. German U-boat commanders were seen as being redeemable, having potential great value for the future. Could form the nucleus of a home-grown German leadership providing inspiration and vision so that Germany could once again become a prosperous and valued member of the western world.

Once again, from E.H. Cookridge, author of "George Blake":

"These German officers [U-boat captains] were not in the same category [as Nazi war criminals] . . . The U-boat captains were hard, but honorable according to their flawed code. If Germany was to have any sort of civilized future, they and officers like them from the German army and Luftwaffe were worth saving from their own political beliefs."

[The Kieigsmarine was by far the least politically indoctrinated of the German armed forces. Hitler himself is quoted as having said "I have a reactionary Army, a National Socialist Air Force and a Christian Navy"]

Such political dialog was SUCCESSFUL??

From the ranks of the top U-boat commanders we find a number of men who were of outstanding leadership ability. Persons who when rehabilitated, WERE able to resume their military careers [from 1955 onward] and did serve honorably in the newly reconstituted German Navy. These EVIDENTLY WERE THE TYPE OF MEN "worth saving" through political dialog that the allies had in mind.

Otto Kretschmer.

"In 1955 joined the Bundesmarine (postwar German navy) . . . He retired in September 1970 with a rank of Flotillenadmiral."

Erich Topp.

"He later served in postwar West Germany’s navy, rising to the rank of Rear Admiral, and worked closely with NATO during the Cold War."

Herbert Schultze.

"In 1956 joined the Bundesmarine and served in several staff positions, including another two years at the now renamed Marineschule Mürwik [Marinekriegsschule Mürwik (naval war college)]. He retired in September 1968 as Kapitän zur See."

Robert Gysae.

"During the postwar period he joined the Bundesmarine (post-war German Navy). There he served for four years as Navy attache in the USA and then spent three years as Flottillenadmiral and Commander of the Marinedivision Nordsee before retiring in March 1970."

Klaus Scholtz.

"After the war he served from 1953 to 1956 in the naval arm of Bundesgrenzschutz (Federal Frontier Guard), then transferred to the Bundesmarine. He was then commander of several naval bases, including Kiel, Cuxhaven and Wilhelmshaven. In 1966 he retired as Kapitän zur See."

Adolf Piening.

"In 1956 the later Kapitän zur See Adolf Piening joined the Bundesmarine, serving for 13 years."

We must not forget Captain Rogge either. Captain of the Atlantis and known for his considerate treatment of prisoners of war. Considerate and gracious almost to a fault? Ended the Second World War with the rank of Admiral. Is in a class by himself? WAS ONE ONLY SEVERAL GERMAN FLAG OFFICERS [General or Admiral] NOT TO BE ARRESTED AT THE END OF WW2 FOR INTERROGATION AND INVESTIGATION!!

"[One exerts leadership] with a Christian respect for the human qualities of others, conviction and trust in oneself. - - Captain Berhard Rogge"

[Rogge was one-quarter JEWISH!!]

Bernhard Rogge.

"eventually became a Konteradmiral (rear-admiral) of the West German Bundesmarine."

"June 1, 1957 -- Enters the post-World War II West German Bundesmarine with the rank of Konteradmiral"

"Command of Military Area Command I"

"Commander of Land Forces in Schleswig-Holstein (COMLAND-SCHLESWIG)"

"March 31, 1962 -- Retires from the German Bundesmarine as a Konteradmiral"

With regard to leadership ability, some German U-boat commanders demonstrated their competency on LAND as well as at SEA! Commanders in the very last days of the war of TANK-BUSTING UNITS. Submarine crews, equipped with the panzerfaust pea-shooter anti-tank weapon, engaging and destroying allied tanks in a vain and futile effort to prevent German defeat.

Among those U-boat skippers who fought well both on LAND and SEA were:

Robert Gysae. [see previous entry concerning this man.]

"In the last month of the war (April 1945) he was the commander of the Marinepanzerjagd-Regiment 1 (Navy tank-hunter regiment)."

Peter-Erich Cremer.

"Cremer . . . became commander of the Marine-Panzervernichtungsbataillon (Naval Tank Destroying Battalion) which fought on land against British tanks attempting to occupy the city of Hamburg."

The above shows Cremer [on the left] in his ground command uniform. Note the camo smock.

"(A navy tank destroying unit under command of Korvettenkapitän Cremer, including volunteers from a U-boat base, destroyed 24 tanks during the last few days.)"

Allied efforts at POLITICAL DIALOG successful? German U-boat captains redeemed? YES, I would think so.


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Thursday, June 28, 2007


This is coolbert:

Good article in the Chicago Tribune today concerning the trial, on going, of Jose Padilla.

“Padilla tapes suggest a man adrift”

Accused of giving material aid to terrorists.

Was originally arrested at O’Hare airport in Chicago as he got off the plane from Pakistan. Had attended Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and was purportedly on a mission to facilitate the detonation of a radioactive “dirty bomb”.

[also was supposed to be investigating the possibility of blowing up large high-rise apartment complexes.]

Padilla was declared an unlawful enemy combatant and held in a Navy brig for a number of years before going to trial. Has claimed he was “tortured”.

The case of Padilla has been controversial. Is now being tried on LESSER charges.

“accused of a conspiracy to commit violence overseas and providing material support for terrorism.”

[albeit still serious charges.]

Padilla has had a very checkered past. Was a member of a Puerto Rican street gang in Chicago as a youth.

Did a lot of mayhem in his lifetime. Served time in prison for murder [of another gang member?].

Became a Muslim while in prison [don’t they all!!].

Was allegedly recruited to Al Qaeda while living in Florida.


“Because from the summer of 1998, when he moved from Florida to Egypt, through the spring of 2000 . . . his own and in his associates wiretapped conversations.”

Padilla is the type of recruit that Al Qaeda is looking for? Outward appearance would seem to indicate so. A person with a proven track record of violence. Hardened by prison life, a convert to Islam [converts can be the most zealous], a person who can easily move within American society and NOT draw attention to himself!


An undisciplined, lazy, shiftless, not-very-bright, basically worthless person who has aimlessly bounced around his whole life! Thought he saw in radical Islam a vehicle for redressing his grievances against American society and bringing meaning to his life.

[in this regard Jose is quite similar to Derrick Shareef, the Rockford, Illinois, terrorist wannabee. The disaffected, pissed off young man who wants to take it out on all of society for his own marked failures!!]

As to his lackadaisical and lazy attitude and life style:

“He struggled to learn Arabic, with one of his friends describing him with some exasperation as a slow learner’ - - so lazy that Padilla would learn only if they put a dictionary in his bed.”

From the conversations of his associates:

“Is he speaking Arabic, or he hasn’t learned anything yet?”

“No. He basically, uh, basically, he is a slow learner. I mean he is a slow learner.”

“So during the time he spent there, did he learn anything?”

“Basically, he doesn’t speak, sheikh. Basically, he doesn’t want to speak. I mean, the man doesn’t - - doesn’t move.”

Don’t have ANY sympathy or pity for Jose. He is just a plain old ordinary bad guy who is either a spy/terrorist facilitator or an unlawful enemy combatant whose intention was to commit mass murder on behalf of a foreign power [Al Qaeda].

“Accused terrorist was frustrated, lethargic”




Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Achtung Minen III. [Conclusion]

This is coolbert:

Hobart’s Funnies, to some extent, are still alive and well.

Being used in de-mining operations, the world over.

But with mixed results.

In previous blog entries, I have touched upon some of the unique and unconventional methods being used the world-over in de-mining operations. Methods to include:

* The giant Gambian rat. [to sniff out land mines.]

* Genetically modified water-cress. [cress growing directly over a mine will turn purple in color, other cress remaining green!]

De-mining POPULATED areas in the aftermath of a war is NOT an easy business.

Expensive, time consuming, and DANGEROUS!!

There seems to be no magic or silver bullet to the difficulties posed by de-mining.

Landmines, implanted by various warring factions, are an acute problem. Again, is a worldwide problem.

Most pronounced in such nations as:

* Angola.

* Mozambique.

* Afghanistan.

* Cambodia.

* Columbia.

Land mines, designed to main, causing loss of multiple limbs among victims but not necessarily death, are an enormous strain on poverty stricken countries that cannot afford first class medical care, to include prosthesis for the crippled.

[Worst of all in countries that are by nature agrarian. An adult man in an agricultural society that is crippled in such a manner is an ABSOLUTE LIABILITY on the rest of the populace. Sad, but true!]

Large portions of arable cropland are rendered unusable by the indiscriminate and wanton sowing of land mine, by all factions. Often used AS A TECHNIQUE OF TERROR!!

Land mines, designed also to be more or less undetectable by CONVENTIONAL MEANS!! Very difficult to locate and even more dangerous to remove. AND WILL STAY ACTIVE AND LETHAL FOR DECADES!!

"many anti-personnel mines and some anti-tank mines have a very low metal content and are much more challenging to locate. The process is typically slow, expensive, and dangerous"

[in northern France, live munitions from World War One are uncovered every year. And with annual regularity, a French farmer is blown to pieces when his plow strikes and detonates buried but still deadly ordnance brought to the surface by heaving caused from the spring thaw.]

Civilian variations of Hobart’s Funnies are in operation in those parts of the world most afflicted by the land mine “disease”. Machines working in conjunction with other land mine clearing methods in an exhaustive effort to remove the “menace”.

Machines to include mine rollers, mine plows, and mine flails.

The civilian version of the tank flail is the Hydrema 910.

"the vehicle was first put into service with the US military at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, in order to clear dangerous areas"

These devices are effective, but as could well be expected with any endeavor of this type, NOT 100 % effective.

"Neither system [flails or rollers] is completely reliable and both will leave undetonated mines, requiring the minefield to be rechecked by another method. Mine flails may only be 80% effective; often good enough for military mine clearance, but well below the 99.6% standard set by the United Nations for humanitarian demining."

[when a military “clears” a minefield, they create a gap, a breach, through which units can advance. They NEVER intend to clear the entire minefield, only an OPENING. And, if during the breaching operation, casualties are incurred, that is considered a “cost of doing business”!]

"In the combat zone, the process is referred to as mine clearance. The priority is to breach the minefield quickly to create a safe path for troops . . . it is accepted that mine clearance will be imperfect and there may be casualties from undiscovered mines."

And NOT liked to a large degree by those organizations conducting the land mine clearing operation.

Cost prohibitive in many cases. All these machines require fuel, maintenance, spare parts, trained operators, etc.

AND, destructive of the land in a manner not acceptable.

Well, NO ONE ever said that land mine clearing was going to be easy.

Civilian versions of Hobart’s Funnies are useful. But not entirely so! Are parts of a total solution! I know some pretty significant thinkers and engineers are at work on a HOLISTIC approach to land mine clearing. Using a multitude of devices and ideas to accomplish the goal!

Hey, again, NO ONE EVER said this was going to be easy.



Monday, June 25, 2007


This is coolbert:

From Forbes magazine:

“Disposable Cameras’”

“Hide The Satellite”

The spy in the sky satellite currently used by the U.S. military and “spy agencies” is not adequate?

“it’s getting hard to detect mischief by rogue states such as North Korea . . . And billion-dollar spy satellites aren’t as effective as they might once have been . . . Also, China, North Korea, Iran and other powers have figured out the orbit of a number of pricey photoreconnaissance satellites and can hide assets when they know they’re being watched.”

[please keep in mind that with sophisticated opposition you are denied seeing "things" you want to see while at the same time ARE BEING ALLOWED TO SEE "THINGS" AS PART OF A DECEPTION PLAN!!]

An alternative has been found?

“one answer to all this is a plan that might be called satellite-lite . . . the Air Force is working with a small company called AirLaunch . . . that would strap a lightweight, 100-850 pound satellite onto an inexpensive rocket. The rocket would be released from a cargo aircraft flying at 32,000 feet and carry the satellite into orbit . . . Twenty or so of these satellites would be put in orbit each year.

This sounds similar to the Pegasus type rocket launcher that DOES the same thing?

This will confound the opposition?

“The advantage is that a midflight launch without warning would make the satellite extremely difficult to track, a crucial benefit”

Cost is a huge factor here also. NOT just the surveillance capability.

“AirLaunch says it can meet a Defense Department requirement to launch a rocket at a cost below $5 million . . . (a cheap one might cost only $1 million). Right now it takes at least $25 million . . . to launch a satellite of similar size from the ground . . . the largest military spy satellites can top $2 billion and take a year.”

"Affordable Space Lift (less than $5 million per flight)"

"Launch within 24 hours from notice"

Have a satellite in orbit by the end of 2007 is the goal!


Otto II. [Conclusion.]

This is coolbert:

During the allied effort to thwart the escape attempt of the German U-boat ace Otto Kretschmer, a secret weapon was employed.

A weapon I had never heard of before.

Diffused lighting. An early attempt at stealth technology.

"A Canadian invention, diffused lighting is a method that the naval forces of Canada, Great Britain and the United States studied between 1940 and 1945. This system of concealment at night made it difficult to identify a ship at short range and rendered it almost invisible to the eyes of a distant enemy observer."

A concept that seems to be counter-intuitive.

A naval vessel in a combat zone is able to conceal itself during HOURS OF DARKNESS BY LIGHTING ITSELF UP!!

"equipment [light projectors mounted on the side of a ship] . . . allowed a ship's visibility to be reduced by 50 per cent in most conditions, and by as much as 75 per cent in very favourable conditions."

What is this?

Seems to be based upon sound principles? Discovered by accident. Almost sounds too good to be true!

"The principle of diffused lighting was accidentally discovered in 1940 by Professor Edmund Godfrey Burr, of McGill University, while he was conducting work for the National Research Council of Canada in a field having no direct relationship with the concealment of ships in high seas."

Was to put to good use by convoys transiting the Atlantic enroute from America to England?

The versatility of this technique would be about zero today? Modern technology has far surpassed the Mark I eyeball as a means of detecting “prey” on the open ocean!

Please recall too that the Canal Defence Light [CDL/Hobart’s Funnies] had some sort of mechanism NOT ONLY to blind defenders but cause visual confusion by the use of a “flickering effect”. Also an attempt at stealth technology using lighting.

"the operation of a shutter would create a flickering effect."


Otto I.

This is coolbert:

I did some research on the all-time ace German submarine commander from World War Two [WW2].

Otto Kretschmer. My apologies to the commander. I had previously spelled his name as Kretchmer. A trivial error.

Otto unfortunately passed away a few years ago now. Did survive WW2 and had a stellar post-war naval officer career as well!

Will not be able to confirm or deny that he sighted the Flying Dutchman.

Is maybe impossible anyhow. Otto DID NOT have any combat cruises off the Cape of Good Hope?

Otto Kretschmer did have a remarkable military career.

First as a distinguished U-boat Captain.

"a German U-boat commander of the Second World War, and was the most successful Ace of the Deep." [most ships sank with greatest tonnage.]

Then after capture, as a prisoner-of-war [POW] as well.

"After his capture he spent more than six and a half years in British captivity . . . he maintained contact with BdU."

While a POW being held captive in Canada, did maintain contact with U-boat command [BdU] in a surreptitous manner. Plotted escape and return to Germany.

A plot that was thwarted by allied intelligence.

Finally, Otto became a senior officer in the post-WW2 German Navy, retiring as an Admiral with honors.

"In 1955 Otto Kretschmer joined the Bundesmarine"

"He retired in September 1970 with a rank of Flotillenadmiral."

Otto Kretschmer was an Anglophile? Spoke excellent English and had spent time in England!

"Before the 17-year-old Otto Kretschmer began his naval career he spent eight months in Exeter, England where he mastered the English language."

Treated crews of ships he sank with honor and what can only be call CHIVALROUS behavior.

[much in the manner as Captain Rogge of the Atlantis did.]

Otto Kretschmer, the GOOD German!



Saturday, June 23, 2007


This is coolbert:

Perhaps one of the most [the most?] famous works of art to come out of the genre' known as Pop Art is the painting "Torpedo Los". By the famous American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein.

"a prominent American pop artist [Lichtenstein], whose work borrowed heavily from popular advertising and comic book styles."

A painting with an interesting military dimension to it.

Lichtenstein is widely considered to be one of the greatest practitioners of the Pop Art scene. Often used military related themes in his Pop Art works.

"Large-scale, aggressive, military-action paintings were the first ones to be painted in Lichtenstein's final Pop Art style during the early 1960s. For several years, he continued to produce paintings of fighter pilots in action and machine gunners blasting at enemies."

A lot of folks I think have a problem with Pop Art as being a serious medium for artistic talent. Is thought to be primarily the reserve of the comic book. Drawings for juveniles not worthy of being considered as "high art" as the term is generally accepted.

This is so?

"Pop art is one of the major art movements of the twentieth century. Characterized by themes and techniques drawn from popular mass culture, such as advertising and comic books, pop art is widely interpreted as either a reaction to the then-dominant ideas of abstract expressionism or an expansion upon them."

There are two versions of "Torpedo Los". One of course is the original comic book frame. Lichtenstein later reproduced the frame in the format of a formal oil painting.

The PAINTING [as opposed to the original comic book frame] is large. Actually LARGER than life size.

"Oil on canvas............68 X 80 inches"

"It is no longer a frame in a picture story from a comic book, but has become a larger-than-life-portrait."

"The original idea for this painting came from a comic-book story called "Battle of the Ghost Ships!" that had been published shortly before Lichtenstein translated one frame into the picture reproduced here. The story told about a World War II German submarine that was doomed to torpedo the same ship over and over again and, in doing so, driving the submarine captain mad."

[sort of sounds like the legend of the "Flying Dutchman", does it not!!??]

Lichtenstein did put a lot of thought into the larger-than-life-size painting that emerged from the original cartoon frame.

"The inclusion of a staring single eye was frequently used by the artist for maximum effect."

"the captain's face fills most of the space with a raging--almost insane--expression. Unlike the works of most other artists, however, Lichtenstein draws the face with the least number of lines possible and almost without any shading except harsh black."

"The rippling black shadow down the right side of his face suggests that the captain is sweating inside the submarine and also that he is being lit by lamps shining from different directions."

"Adding to the tension in the face is the tight grasp of the captain's fingers around the handle of the periscope."

Was the purpose of Lichtenstein to portray this particular U-boat commander as the "bad German"? The maddened brute - - "tight grasp of the captain's fingers" - - "sweating" - - "raging--almost insane--expression" - - the "staring single eye"!


In my opinion, "Torpedo Los" is an outstanding art work, worthy of being inclusion with other forms of "high art".



Friday, June 22, 2007


This is coolbert:

From a comment to the blog:

"We need combat ships for patrol on the Tigris/Euphrates, supply barges, etc...This technology is over 40 years old and it worked, it was a success in Vietnam . . . The navy could buy stuff off the shelf, paint it green and mount weapons on it, get it to Iraq and put it to work"

The U.S. Navy does have a lot of experience, very positive, recently and historically also, with “brown water” sailing.

"Brown-water navy is a term that originated in the United States Navy, referring to the small gunboats and patrol boats used in rivers. A broader meaning is any naval force that has the capacity to carry out military operations in river or littoral environments."

The term “brown water navy” comes from the American Civil War. Naval ships DID play an important part during INLAND campaigns along the Mississippi River [other rivers too]. Hence the name “brown water”.

"The term brown-water navy originated in the American Civil War (1861-1865)"

I understand there are conflicting accounts regarding the manning of “brown water” naval ships during the various American Civil War campaigns. NOT manned by U.S. Navy sailors. Enlisted were U.S. Army personnel “combed” from the ranks by Grant. Troops that prior to the war had experience as “river men”. Knew about ships and how to sail them. WERE OFFICERED by regular U.S. Navy commissioned officers.

[could it be that the relative hesitancy of the U.S. Navy to employ "brown water" ships is that they appear to be ungainly and are NOT elegant vessels as would be seen in a pelagic [deep ocean going] fleet!!!]

"Because of the river's murky brown water, the ships that participated in these Mississippi campaigns were quickly referred to as the brown-water navy,
The U.S. Navy was assigned the blockade of the seaports, while a new force of gunboats and river ironclads, together with regular army units, would take, or at least lay siege on, the Confederate forts and cities along the Mississippi."

River gunboats and river ironclad monitors did play a vital role in the campaigns of Grant. Shiloh was a victory for Grant thanks to his pre-planning for reinforcement of men and firepower brought to the battlefield by “brown water” ships.

The Yangtze River Patrol is another example of where the U.S. Navy has employed “brown water” warships with success. Shallow draft naval vessels of various nationalities plying the waters of the Chinese Yangtze River, protection the extra-territorial treaty rights guaranteed European [and American] powers. Lightly armed, with sailors that had to be prepared at a moments notice to go ashore and fight as naval infantry [NOT Marines.].

"US River boats (Gunboats) operated in portions of Chinese rivers (sometimes referred to as the 'Asiatic Navy') during the 1920's."

[NOT only U.S. ships. Other nations had them too!!]

Who has not seen the movie “Sand Pebbles”? About the Yangtze River Patrol. If you have not seen this classic, please do so. A great movie, outstanding even. Steve McQueen in perhaps his greatest role.

[Steve McQueen did serve in the military and was a NCO. He did know how to “play” a soldier [sailor in this case], having been one!]

And during the Vietnam War, the Mobile Riverine Force was an American concept that DID work during that dolorous conflict. The “brown water navy” in Vietnam was a rare example of where American know-how, technology and fighting spirit were put to good use?!

"On 18 December 1965, for the first time since the US Civil War, the US Navy formalized the new Brown Water Navy in Vietnam."

"In 1970, for the first time since the US Civil War, the US Navy stood down the last of its brown-water navy units."

Can the “brown water navy work in Iraq? YES! If the U.S. intends to stay-the-course for the “long-haul”, this is the way to go??!!

Aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf with close air support [CAS] on-call, riverine combat task force on both the Tigris and Euphrates, resupply NOT by tenuous overland routes?! And no immobile, sitting ducks in the “Green Zone” either!!

[the U.S. Navy is contemplating the rebuilding of the "brown water navy"? Read about it here.]

Go for it!!



Flying Dutchman.

This is coolbert:

Here is another one of those posts that you can place in the STRANGE, could it be TRUE category.

Similar to other posts that dealt with other strange observed phenomenon, such as the Foo Fighter or Noah’s Ark.

Phenomenon of an unusual or unworldly nature, observed by military personnel.

A lot of credence has to be placed on the observations of military personnel? Trained observers without an agenda! The veracity of such persons can be counted upon and has to be stressed!

In this case, the phenomenon is the Flying Dutchman. A spectral GHOST ship attempting to round the Cape of Good Hope, while sailing INTO the wind.

"According to folklore, the Flying Dutchman is a ghost ship that can never go home, doomed to sail the oceans forever. The Flying Dutchman is usually spotted from afar, sometimes glowing with ghostly light."

Please, devoted reader, take this seriously. NO, really!

Last seen by German U-boats while patrolling southern waters in the vicinity of South Africa in World War Two?

No less personage than Admiral Doenitz claimed that his U-boat commanders HAD SEEN the Flying Dutchman.

"According to Admiral Karl Doenitz, U-Boat crews logged sightings of the Flying Dutchman, off the Cape Peninsula."

[or something that resembles a “ghost ship”. These TRAINED observers saw something??!!]

One such commander was the renowned U-boat commander Otto Kretchmer!!??

Kretchmer is now in his nineties and still alive!? If so, I wonder what he would have to say concerning this matter.

I am going to be in touch with KTB "Sharkhunters" [the magazine of the U-boat service] about this. I wonder what they have to say? Or if they can put me in contact with someone that knows further.

[a number of years ago, British “special operations” units, probably SAS, occupied reconnaissance “hide spots” in the vicinity of farm fields where “crop circles” had been found. In an effort to determine the origin of this mysterious phenomenon. I am not sure what the results were. Crop circles are a hoax in totality? These type of operations give troops good training with realism!! Again, you have a cadre of TRAINED observers whose testimony can be counted upon.]



Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Water Wagtail.

This is coolbert:

Thanks here for the tip from KTB “Sharkhunters”.

Here is a remarkable and innovative idea used by German submariners during World War Two [WW2].

Used sparingly albeit.

A tethered helicopter-glider used for observational purposes. The FA-330 [Focke-Achgelis]. A helicopter-glider? Had never heard of such a thing prior to this!

[sometimes referred to as an auto-gyro, or a "kite"! Nicknamed the "Water Wagtail"!]

Stowed within a submarine when not in use. Could be brought on deck and piloted aloft, remaining in contact with the U-boat by the tether.

[had a telephone for the pilot to communicate with the sub when aloft.]

Allowed for a MUCH greater surveillance range. The ability of the U-boat captain to SPOT “game” was greatly increased.

The helicopter-glider could be piloted to a maximum height of 300 feet. From that altitude the line-of-sight distance would be about twenty-five miles.

[what would be the normal height above the water line for a surfaced submarine conning tower observational post? Assuming a height of twenty feet, your Mark I eyeball could detect a target at ONLY about six miles!!]

"The kite would then be deployed behind the U-boat with its observer/pilot aboard, raising him approximately 120 metres above the surface where he could see much further (typically 25 nautical miles, compared to 5 nautical miles visible from the conning tower of the U-boat)."

How useful was the FA-330? NOT sure!

"Despite its advantages, the use of the Fa-330 only resulted in a single sinking"

But, an innovative idea? YES!




This is coolbert:

From the Chicago Tribune today:

Pakistan ads raise worry over its nuclear security

Ads have recently been placed in Pakistani Urdu-Sindhi, and Pushtu language newspapers that have raised alarm [at least in the mind of Congressman Mark Kirk [R-IL].

“The ads, placed by the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority, warn anyone who sees such a sign to step away from the material and call a reporting hot line.”

Ads that:

”display the international yellow-warning sign for nuclear material.”

Ads that have NOT appeared in any of the Pakistani ENGLISH language newspapers.

Congressman Kirk is an active Navy reservist, an intelligence officer, continuing to perform his reserve duty while serving as a Congressman. Presumably Congressman Kirk has the background that allows him to make reasonable inferences from these ads and the lack of them in Pakistani ENGLISH language newspapers.

"Kirk was also commissioned in 1989 as a reserve intelligence officer in the U.S. Navy. In the Navy, Kirk served during conflicts with Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo. He served aboard USS Normandy and USS John C Stennis. Kirk also served three tours in Panama and was an aircrewman over Iraq as part of Operation Northern Watch."

[Kirk seems to be intimately involved in all military matters concerning the Great Lakes Naval Training Center!!]

Is this a big to do about nothing? How safely is the Pakistani nuclear arsenal protected? What about other nuclear materials [could be used for a “dirty” bomb]? Reasonably and adequately safeguarded too?

These are legitimate questions!? Yes!



Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Forbes Miscellany II. [Conclusion]

This is coolbert:

More from Forbes magazine. [October 30, 2006 issue]

Regarding the corporation Armor Holdings. Providing the armor up-grade kits for the Humvees as being used in Iraq.

“In 2003 Armor outfitted 51 Humvees a month. A year later it was doing 450 a month, at an average of $65,000 each.”

It is that price that caught my eye. A single armor up-grade kit for one Humvee costs $65,000??

That would seem to be a significant percentage of what an UNARMORED Humvee would cost. What does the Army pay for a stripped down basic Humvee? Don’t know. Providing an armor kit almost doubles the cost of the vehicle?!

Those armor up-graded Humvees have to be under a lot of mechanical stress. Was the Humvee designed from the start to accommodate the armor up-grade? I would think the additional weight of the armor up-grade MUST place a lot of wear and tear on all mechanical assemblies of the Humvee. Engine, transmission, tires, frame, etc. ALL must get a LOT of unanticipated wear and tear. Couple that with overuse [abuse] and the talcum-like powdery sand of Iraq and you have the potential for an entire generation of Humvee to be rendered to the scrap heap as being unrepairable and unserviceable!!??

Here is the future of combat vehicles? Already being used in Iraq with success!

The Buffalo, Cougar, and Cheetah. Described as multi-purpose combat vehicles [MPCV]. Built by Force Protection Industries.

The Buffalo seems to be a more advanced version of the South African developed Buffel/Hippo/Casspir family of combat vehicles?

High ground clearance, vee-shaped hull [for blast protection], better armor, etc.

[The Buffalo should be known colloquially as the BUS [Big Ugly Sucker]]

Effective, combat proven vehicle with well thought out features, having gone through a Darwinian selection process of improvements during the seemingly never-ending series of “bush wars” fought in Southern Africa during the latter part of the 20th century.

[I am curious to know if the Buffalo has the tank of water directly above the vee-shaped hull. The South African Buffel for instance, did so have this feature. Allowed for additional mitigation of blast from a mine detonation.]

Not a single serviceman has been killed riding in the 23-ton Buffalo vehicle or the 17-ton Cougar urban fighting vehicle used in thousands of mission on the bloodiest routes in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Buffalo is the future??!! The future is NOW??!!


Forbes Miscellany I.

This is coolbert:

Again from Forbes magazine.

The “Wakeless Wonder”.

This is the Stiletto, M80. A $6 million [cheap] maritime design specifically developed for the “brown water” Navy.

[again, the U.S. Navy is building ships with the intention of fighting a future war in littoral waters.]

A stealth ship of innovative design. NOT big, 88 feet long and half as wide, but with ONLY a three-foot draft WHEN LOADED. Made of carbon composite material.

[draft is that part of the boat under water at any given moment.]

Capable of superior hydrodynamic performance. Smooth ride, tight turns, even at speeds of 50 knots [58 mph]!!

What sort of weaponry does the Stiletto carry? This is not specified. The artist’s conception shows an UAV mounted astern!

Also, “Bombs Over Anchorage”.

Guy is building his own Air Force, and doing so with the money of a multi-million dollar trust.

“Mark J. Avery, an Anchorage lawyer . . . is accused . . . of using $52 million in trust assets [not his trust] to purchase . . . a fleet of at least eight Czech-made two–seater Aero Vodochody L-39 military jets . . . with plans to buy more. In a raid on a hanger in Alaska, . . . agents found two rocket pod launchers for the L-39’s, each capable of holding 16 rockets. The launchers were bought on Ebay for an estimated $2,890 each “

. . . .

“For what purpose? . . . the company kicked around plans to use the military planes for training exercises for the Air Force or to secure a contract with the United Nations to train pilots for regional conflicts. And the rocket launchers? Just an unusable toy and therefore legal”

Well, he had the launchers but NOT the rockets. But remember, just about anyone with MEANS [dollars], desire, and the moxie to do so, can buy JUST ABOUT ANY SORT OF SOPHISTICATED WEAPON THEY WANT, AND CAN DO SO FROM A VARIETY OF SOURCES, LEGAL AND OTHERWISE.

If you are willing to take the risk, you can obtain what you want. More or less so!


Sunday, June 17, 2007


This is coolbert:

Read this article by Susan Estrich.

Prominent law professor and political advocate.

"Susan Estrich -- politician, professor, lawyer and writer"

Writing about the captured terrorist, Ali al-Marri.

An article entitled, "The Land of the Free?" Please notice the question mark. Susan is suggesting that in some regard, this is NOT the land of the free??!!

Well, this Ali has been held for three and one half years now in a military prison, and has now been transferred to a civilian prison awaiting charges and trial?

This does seem to be against what our legal system stands for.

But, Susan does LEAVE OUT some interesting facts regarding this Ali and his case. Very disturbing facts that have been reported in some other media. Susan understates in a major way what this man was all about.

"you are charged with credit-card fraud and making false statements"


"In 2002, Ali was charged with financial crimes. Al-Marri was charged with opening bank accounts with inadequate or forged identity documents."

Ali also had made phone calls to a person in Dubai that has been determined to be a financier for Al Qaeda. NOT just one or two phone calls, but a number of them. AND MADE THESE CALLS FROM PUBLIC TELEPHONES. ALI WAS TAKING ACTIVE MEASURES TO PREVENT BEING DETECTED. SURREPTITIOUS BEHAVIOR INDICATIVE OF GOOD COUNTER-SURVEILLANCE TRAINING.

"Evidence has been disclosed that al-Marri was in possession of a telephone card that was previously used to call a number in Dubai linked to the reputed Al Qaeda finacier, Mustafa al-Hawsawi"

Ali was also found to have the formula for making hydrogen-cyanide [HC] poison gas on his computer. A very deadly chemical agent that could wreak havoc if used properly.

"After searching al-Marri's computer, a folder was found labeled 'jihad arena', which according to the government, contained information on hydrogen cyanide, a poisonous gas used in chemical weapons"

[jihadis in 2003 were preparing for a HC attack on New York City subway system? The apparatus they purportedly were going to use to release the gas was replicated by the CIA and found to be workable?]

From this, a person such as myself is reasonably able to infer that Ali was a really bad guy. Wormed his way into this society with the intent to do great harm.

Is an unlawful enemy combatant of the worst type. I stress the word UNLAWFUL [Susan omits this word from her description of Ali.] At best, Ali is a spy in a time of war [albeit an undeclared war!]. At worst, he is an unlawful enemy combatant planning mass murder and is not entitled to any legal protections as ordinarily understood.

[recall that the Nazi saboteurs from World War Two that landed in the U.S. were captured, declared to be unlawful enemy combatants, tried, and hung, all within two weeks. Roosevelt personally gave the orders that this is how things would proceed.]

The American government, legal system, and the public in general seem to be confused as to how to proceed with the anti-terrorist, anti-jihad war. Is this "war" going to be prosecuted as a criminal matter or as WAR! This does need to be decided. So far, I find that the process is not satisfactory! NO definitive answers have been had. Dragging things out through the courts is not an adequate way to address this matter!!



Saturday, June 16, 2007


This is coolbert:


The use of searchlights in warfare has been made anachronistic by modern night vision devices [NOD]? Prior to the advent of NOD, searchlights were valuable!?

One of Hobart's Funnies was the Canal Defence Light [CDL]. A "secret weapon" deliberately mis-named to confuse.

"Canal Defence Light (CDL) was a British 'secret weapon' of the Second World War [WW2]."

"It was based upon the use of a powerful carbon-arc searchlight to dazzle and confuse enemy troops. A demonstration had shown that the use of a vehicle mounted searchlight both disoriented the units facing it and masked activities behind the searchlight"

"Canal Defence Light This was a powerful carbon-arc searchlight carried . . . inside a modified turret. The name of the device was deliberately inaccurate in order to help keep it secret - its true purpose was to blind the defenders during a night attack and so help obscure attacking forces. An ingenious optical design allowed the light to flood out of a comparatively small slit in the armour, minimising the chance of damage by enemy fire."

The concept of using searchlights en masse' to dazzle and confuse the defenders during an attack was also used by the Soviet during the latter days of WW2. Used at Seelowe Heights in an effort to blind the German defender. WAS NOT effective. A hindrance rather. The Soviet preparatory bombardment had kicked up too much dust for the searchlights to be useful.

"At 5:30 AM, three Soviet armies moved forward from the Soviet bridgehead into the churned-up German front lines. Their way was in principle illuminated by 143 searchlights on the east bank of the Oder, which Zhukov had arranged to help blind the Germans and give his people an advantage. In fact, in all the smoke and dust the searchlights simply confused the troops, and most of the soldiers halted to wait for daylight."

"Searchlights were occasionally used tactically in ground battles. One famous occasion was the Soviet's use of searchlights during the Battle of Berlin in April 1945. 143 searchlights, aimed to blind Nazi General Henrici's defense force across the Neisse River, failed as the morning fog diffused the light and made silhouettes of the attacking Soviet [soldiers]"

The CDL did play a role in the war for which it was not intended? That role being to provide artificial moonlight for illumination during combat operations!

"artificial moonlight

(NATO) Illumination of an intensity between that of starlight and that of a full moon on a clear night . . . "

"Searchlights were first used in World War I to create "artificial moonlight" to enhance opportunities for night attacks, a practice which continued in World War II. Artificial moonlight was invented by historian and tank warfare theorist, Gen. J.F.C. Fuller."

The idea was to "bounce" the intense light of a searchlight off the BOTTOM of a cloud. Light reflected downward would provide a degree of light allowing for continued combat operations. A NUMBER of searchlights operating simultaneously could illuminate a wide area and do so continuously.

"was used during the attack on the Geilenkirchen salient to create indirect artificial daylight"

"Dash to the Rhine"

"That night we experienced something strange, new and different. A detachment of troops equipped with huge searchlights pulled into the area and began to bounce light off the bottoms of the clouds that covered the sky. An eerie sort of light filled the area."

"Artificial moonlight! One could certainly see more with it than without it. It was not like daytime, but it was light!"

Searchlights at war! Gone forever!?



The Sacred Band of Thebes.

This is coolbert:

From that same article:

"Gay Bomb: Story Behind The Story"

This question is asked:

"P.S. Do gay units really have bad discipline? History suggests otherwise"

And a link to this web site:

"The Sacred Band of Thebes"

The Sacred Band of three hundred Thebans, LINKED TO ONE ANOTHER BY AFFECTION!!??

According to the ancients:

"from Plutarch, Life of Pelopidas"

"a band cemented by friendship grounded upon love is never to be broken, and invincible; since the lovers, ashamed to be base in sight of their beloved, and the beloved before their lovers, willingly rush into danger for the relief of one another."

Fought as a unit [battalion] at Chaeronea, EVERY LAST MAN EITHER KILLED, WOUNDED, OR CAPTURED.

"the Sacred Band, though surrounded and overwhelmed, refused to surrender. They held their ground and fell where they stood."

"Though Plutarch claims that all three hundred died that day, other writers claim that two hundred and fifty-four died and all the rest were wounded. That claim was substantiated upon the excavation of their communal grave at Chaeronea in the early 1800s in which two hundred and fifty-four skeletons were found, arranged in seven rows."

"never beaten till the battle at Chaeronea: and when Philip [the father of Alexander the Great], after the fight, took a view of the slain, and came to the place where the three hundred [the Sacred Band] that fought his phalanx lay dead together, he wondered, and understanding that it was the band of lovers, he shed tears"

As a unit, fought very well:

"keeping them entire, and as one man, gave them the first duty in the greatest battles . . . brave men, provoking one another to noble actions, would prove most serviceable, and most resolute, where all were united together."


Gay Bomb.

This is coolbert:

Put this one in the "OH MY" category.

"Gay Bomb: Story Behind The Story"

The "gay" bomb - - "a chemical weapon which made soldiers irresistibly attractive to each other."

Could such a thing exist? What would be the purpose? Render the enemy soldier passive and weak and make a femme' out of him? Could it be so?

NOT so fast Sylvester!

Read the article and you will find the rest of the story.

"Harassing, Annoying, and 'Bad Guy' Identifying Chemicals proposes development of a mind-altering aphrodisiac weapon for use by the US armed forces, as well as other biochemicals, including one that would render US enemies exceptionally sensitive to sunlight."

Chemical agents that would assist in a counter-insurgency environment to aid in identifying the "bad guys"? Incapacitating agents that would render an enemy combatant ineffective?

"US Army proposals to weaponize narcotics that were made at the time have moved forward. These include proposals such as Antipersonnel Calmative Agents and for development of opiate and sedative biochemical weapons."

Make the enemy soldier calm, sedated, passive, inert. Yes, that we can understand. Make you "gay"? NO!


Thursday, June 14, 2007


This is coolbert:

Did some reading to refresh my memory on the Dieppe landings [1942].

The Dieppe “raid” has always been referred to as a success even though it was a failure?! A pretty marked failure too. Most of the assault force either being killed or captured, NONE of the objectives being gained. An unnecessary slaughter from WHICH A LOT WAS LEARNED??!!

[success even though it was a failure?! That is the type of double-speak higher commanders and political leaders engage in when they have stepped on it big time?! “We lost, but we learned a lot from the loss”]

Tanks [armor] were an integral part of the Dieppe landing force. Taken into consideration by the planners and included in the operation. About a battalion of tanks DID go ashore to provide fire support for the infantry.

Tanks landing at Dieppe seem to have encountered two major problems, neither having been anticipated and for which they [armor] had no counter.

1. Many tanks threw off their tracks while just attempting to get OFF THE BEACH!!

"Despite the damage and the difficulties 27 of the 29 tanks got ashore but only 15 managed to struggle up the smooth, grapefruit-sized pebbles of the beach, slipping and sliding, to get on to the esplanade."

2. Movement of those tanks that had been able to GET OFF the beach, WAS further impeded by an anti-tank wall that STOPPED ALL additional forward advance.

"the Germans had built tank traps for just such an occasion to keep any invading tanks from getting into the town."

"they had to deal with anti-tank walls more than six feet high and four feet thick protecting the exits from the esplanade."

[not, as I have said, what I thought to be a sea-wall. This was a formidable and unbreachable anti-tank wall!!]

That German division defending Dieppe was rated [by the German themselves] as a second-rate force, with scrounged and antiquated weapons. Did have a first-rate commander [Haase], who seems to have known his stuff!! A second-rate German division was able to obliterate a first-rate Canadian unit, and do so almost at their leisure!! DEFENSE IS THE STRONGER FORM OF COMBAT! Dieppe is yet further additional proof that this is so.

[one German regiment of the 302nd Division opposed the landing. Haase was in general command as that regiment was subordinate to him. He had also devised the plan of defense?

Allied commanders and staffs DID learn a lot from the abortive Dieppe “raid”. And from a surprising source. Haase himself [presumably his staff also]. Hasse authored an after-action report detailing how and why the German was successful in repelling the Canadians at Dieppe. A report captured in 1943 by the Soviets and passed on to the British. A report the British paid exceptional interest to.

"Over a year before [before June 6], the Red Army had mauled Germany's 320th Infantry Division [author calls it mistakenly the 320th, not the 302nd!], capturing its codes and classified documents . . . After bloodily beating off the landing force [at Dieppe] . . . the 320th's officers prepared a critique of all the mistakes the Allies had made, a virtual how-not-to-manual . . . An Army G-2 officer described the critique of Dieppe as 'probably the most important document exploited in preparation for D-Day'."

Analysis of the German after-action report allowed those persons planning the Normandy invasion to adopt measures and develop equipment [Hobart’s Funnies] that facilitated the successful attack on the Sixth of June!



Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Achtung, Minen II.

This is coolbert:

"For 'tis the sport to have the enginer
Hoist with his own petar; and 't shall go hard
But I will delve one yard below their mines
And blow them at the moon"

Hobart’s Funnies!!

In the aftermath of the disastrous Dieppe landing [1942], it was realized by those planning the Normandy invasion [1944] that SPECIAL equipment would be required to breach German beach defenses and then subsequently when the allied forces moved inland.

[D-Day at Normandy was just the beginning of a ninety-day campaign to defeat German forces in Normandy. A defeat that hopefully would result [it did too] it a precipitous Nazi retreat to the Rhine. D-Day was only the start of the battle to liberate France!]

The use of tanks [armor] was seen as being essential for the landings at Normandy to be successful. Infantry wading ashore needed fire support to overcome German defenses.

Hobart’s’ Funnies were developed as an answer to the beach landing problem. Tanks that were modified with a variety of “apparatus”, each designed to solve a particular problem associated with amphibious invasion and tank assault.

An amphibious version of the Sherman tank [DD] was developed. A tank that had the capability to “wade” ashore and support that initial wave of troops landing at Normandy.

An additional tank, combat engineering modified, was developed that sported a “bobbin” mechanism on the front. Ungainly looking but having great utility for the amphibious assault.

"A reel of 10 foot wide canvas cloth reinforced with steel poles carried in front of the tank and unrolled onto the ground to form a 'path', so that following vehicles (and itself) would not sink into the soft ground of the beaches"

Again, the landings at Normandy on June 6 would only be the beginning of the Normandy campaign. A campaign that would rely heavily on allied armor movements. Armor movements that needed to proceed without impediment.

It was also well understood by allied planners that a rapid tank advance by American and British tankers would be contested by German forces which were adept at employing anti-tank “stop lines”.

Anti-tank “stop lines” that were intended to slow down and delay further forward advance by tank units. Lines of defense that posed serious difficulties for allied commanders who desired a quick resolution to the Normandy campaign.

Anti-tank “stop lines” that would consist of the following, from front to rear, as viewed by the attacker:

A minefield consisting of anti-personnel and anti-tank mines both.

An anti-tank ditch.

Above ground anti-tank obstacles, such as dragon's teeth, hedgehogs, concrete blocks, steel beam apparatus of varying designs, vertical steel piping [concrete filled] and wooden posts [telephone pole sized] anchored by concrete into the ground.

Prepared defensive fortifications, bunkers, pillboxes and anti-tank gun positions, pre-sighted and positioned to guard the “stop line”.

[an anti-tank “stop line”, like all other barriers, is no good unless guarded to some degree!! Modern anti-tank “stop lines” would include a tank-firing ramp. A wedge of earth from which a defending tank could fire by depressing it’s gun, presenting only the heaviest and thickest portion of frontal armor to the attacker. Israeli tanks defending the Golan Heights in 1973 utilized such ramps with great success!]

Beach defenses to stop tanks would have included a “tank wall”. An impressive concrete structure too difficult for tanks to scale. Sometimes being six feet in thickness. Allied tanks at Dieppe encountered such a wall? It seems that the wall at Dieppe was a sea wall, and not an anti-tank wall.

"Those tanks that did cross the sea wall were stopped by concrete roadblocks

.... the bogged-down vehicles became sitting ducks for the anti-tank guns."

[to defeat a "tank wall", the "Ark" could be employed.]

"Ark - Armoured Ramp Carrier was a Churchill tank without a turret that had extend able ramps at each end; other vehicles could drive up ramps and over the vehicle to scale obstacles."

These anti-tank “stop lines” sometimes measured tens of miles long [or even greater??] and were often arrayed in depth by the defender.


[this to defend against any possible German counter-attack!]

These “stop lines” posed a significant dilemma to advancing tank units. A problem that conventional combat engineering units of the time did not have a ready answer to.

[it would have been suggested at the time that conventional combat engineering units did possess a know-how and ability to breach these anti-tank “stop lines”. Existing units did have the wherewithal to do so, yes, but only with a large expenditure of time and manpower. Time is of the essence in an armored advance. Tank units pursuing an enemy could not wait for a laborious process to take place prior to resuming the advance!]

Hobart’s Funnies, once again, in a variety of manifestations, did offer a solution for combat engineering units attempting to breach the “stop lines”.

Ingenious and clever solutions WERE FOUND that allowed combat engineers to defeat the various elements comprising the anti-tank “stop lines”.

To defeat the minefields, tank plows ["bullshorn"], mine rollers, and tank flails were all employed.

To defeat the anti-tank ditch, tank-borne bridging equipment or fascines could be employed.

"Small Box Girder was an assault bridge that was carried in front of the tank and could be dropped to span a 30 foot gap in 30 seconds."

To defeat above ground anti-tank obstacles or pillboxes, a tank firing a petard spigot mortar demolition charge could be used.

"A petard mortar was the demolition weapon fitted to the Churchill AVRE tank. It was a mortar of a 290 mm bore, known to its crews as the 'flying dustbin' due to the characteristics of its projectile: an unaerodynamic 20 kg charge, sufficient to demolish many bunkers and earthworks."

A further weapon to defeat enemy bunkers and pillboxes was the flame-throwing tank [Crocodile].

"Crocodile - A Churchill tank modified by the fitting of a flame-thrower in place of the hull machine gun. An armoured trailer, towed behind the tank, carried 400 Imperial gallons (1,800 litres) of fuel. The flamethrower had a range of over 120 yards (110 metres)."

There was available several versions of armored all-purpose bulldozers that had a multiplicity of applications, employed at the discretion of the combat engineers.

"Armoured Bulldozer - A conventional Caterpillar D8 bulldozer fitted with armour to protect the driver and the engine. Their job was to clear the invasion beaches of obstacles and to make roads accessible by clearing rubble and filling in bomb craters."

"Centaur Bulldozer, a Cromwell tank with the turret removed and fitted with a simple, winch operated, bulldozer blade. These were produced because of a need for a well-armoured, obstacle clearing vehicle that, unlike a conventional bulldozer, would also be fast enough to keep up with tank formations."

There was even a "Canal Defence Light" which could be used to blind and dazzle defenders at a crucial crossing point.

"It was based upon the use of a powerful carbon-arc searchlight to dazzle and confuse enemy troops."

"its true purpose was to blind the defenders during a night attack and so help obscure attacking forces."

Combinations of these combat engineering vehicles [CEV] working in concert could be used to breach with speed and relative ease existing tank “stop lines”, facilitating further rapid advance by allied tank units.

Hobart’s Funnies are generally recognized as the forerunner of the modern CEV.

Necessity was the mother of invention. In large part also to the strong character of General Sir Percy Cleghorn Hobart.



Monday, June 11, 2007

Day of the Goum.

This is coolbert:

As you might expect, this one caught my eye and interest right away.

From Forbes Magazine:

"Mixed Media reviews"

"Days of Glory", a movie on DVD, is reviewed.

"From the "Longest Day" to "Saving Private Ryan", movies have paid rich and fairly thorough homage to World War II; still, the French combat drama "Days of Glory", has a new story to tell. In 1943, 130,000 infantry troops [these were Berbers from the High Atlas - - goum] from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia enlisted under the tricolor to help France eject the occupying German. Director Rachid Bouchareb (a Frenchman of Algerian descent depicts one such battalion as they charge German positions from Italy all the way to Alsace. These men show the patriotic nerve of the native-born, but to their French commanders, they're cannon fodder, indigenes [indigenous/"natives"] (a slur, and also the movies's more pointed French title) who don't deserve the privileges - - promotions, timely leave, fresh rations - - of "true" citizens. "Days of Glory" leans on familiar war-flick tropes: an exacting sergeant, band-of-brothers camaraderie, a thwarted romance with a village girl. But the natural, deeply felt performances of the four leads, all of North Africa descent and collective winners for best male performance at Cannes last year, give the movie its humanity and lend force to its quiet outrage . . . It's as exquisitely filmed and gripping a depiction of selfless valor as any put to film."

"trope - - noun - - language used in a figurative or nonliteral sense"

Read my prior blog posts about the goum here and here.

I wonder, any depictions of the mass rape and murder perpertrated by the goum in Italy and Germany both?? Probably NOT!

Well, then I have not seen in any movies depictions of the fire bombing of Hamburg or Dresden for that matter either.

Make no mistake about it, however, the goum WERE hard, determined, skilled fighters of excellent quality. Gave a good account of themselves on the BATTLEFIELD. They DO merit recognition!

This movie sounds like it would be worthwhile seeing. I wonder if translated or in subtitles? At the IMDB web site, I see the goum are shown wearing American style World War Two helmets. This is wrong? They wore the British style helmet?

[the goum were renowned for carrying and wearing a melange' of equipment and uniforms, the French Army so ill-equipped them for combat. Whatever they could scrounge of capture from the Germans or Italians would do!!]



Friday, June 08, 2007

Achtung - - Minen!! I.

This is coolbert:

Once more to the subject of the famous [?] British General Sir Percy Cleghorn Hobart.

[I must apologize to the General. In a previous blog entry I had referred to him as Claghorn. Correctly the name is Cleghorn.]

An imaginative British armor officer of World War Two [WW2].

Having been retired from active military service prior to 1939, was serving as a corporal [!!!] in the British Home Guard before being recalled to active service.

Is the type of slightly eccentric but brilliant military officer the British seem to produce. In the same mold as Wingate, Lawrence, etc.

Played a very crucial role in the D-Day invasion and in the subsequent ninety day Normandy campaign.

Hobart was instrumental in developing and bringing onto the battlefield a whole range of combat engineering vehicles of the most innovative designs. Primarily designed to defeat beach [Normandy] and anti-tank defenses, but, also being applicable in other combat engineering situations.

[the term combat engineering vehicle [CEV] would not have been used during the WW2 era. The various engineering vehicles as promoted by Hobart and used by the British in WW2 were called for the lack of a better name "funnies"!!]




This is coolbert:

Again, from a comment to the blog:

"Bizarre that the one German naval success regarding the Normandy invasion was in successfully attacking the training exercise. I guess they "stumbled" into this allied training maneuver while on patrol, but from what I can understand, none of the E-boats showed up on D-Day."

German intelligence that the exercise [Tiger] was occurring was based upon radio intercepts?

"German Intelligence had listened to the American radio traffic and dispatched 9 E Boats from their home port, Cherbourg, creating this large scale disaster."

"On routine patrol out of the French port of Cherbourg, the commanders had learned of heavy radio traffic in Lyme Bay."

The German E-boats got "lucky" during Tiger?

"Only once in that time [prior to and during D-Day] did the E-Boats achieve anything of consequence. That was during an invasion exercise when they got in amongst a convoy of landing craft in Lyme Bay and wrought serious devastation and heavy loss of life; it was their sole success although they were at sea night after night".

It seems that but with one exception, the German was totally "asleep at the wheel" on the Sixth of June. The initial Normandy invasion had such a good deception plan that German forces did not respond?

That one exception being that of the strafing run by the German fighter pilot "Pips" Priller. As shown in the movie "The Longest Day". Made a SINGLE pass over the beaches with his wing man.

Other than "Pips", the German Navy and Luftwaffe did not "show up" on D-Day.

"Pips" Priller survived the war with 101 kills to his record.

"Josef Priller flew 307 combat missions to claim 101 victories"