The House on Pooh Corner

The House on Pooh Corner

The below photo is the House at Pooh Corner (Our name) in Bosnia in the summer of 1996 as my platoon was returning to our camp after spending the day guarding some UN folks who were excavating a Mass Grave nearby.   I was deployed to Bosnia in 1996 with 3/4, later 1/4 Cavalry out of Schweinfurt, Germany.  I ran across this photo last night and decided to post it today.  I am not in the picture because I am behind the camera. The picture is not very good quality because I had to scan it, digital cameras still being in the future except for the rich in 1996.  I used … Read more…

Periodic World Craziness Update # 29

Russian Troops Ukraine

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship.  Crimea referendum: Voters ‘back Russia union’:  Yep, That had to be a fair election.  It’s not like the Russians don’t have armed troops all over the place there.  I stand by my prediction that the US and EU will meekly submit to whatever Russia wants and go no farther than sanctions despite the Western Guarantee of Ukrainian sovereignty from the 90’s.  Ukraine will probably continue to dominate the news this month as well. NATO general warns of further Russian aggression:  So, what led NATO’s commander to just now acknowledge the danger that the Crimea will not be … Read more…

Book Review: No End Save Victory by David Kaiser

Book Review Featured Image

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] No End Save Victory: How FDR Led the Nation into War is one of those books that at first glance looks like it is going to be one of those dry, difficult to read history books that is nothing more than a litany of dates and facts.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It is an interesting and compelling account of the events in America during the 18 months prior to American entry into WWII.  Oddly, this period is mentioned in every … Read more…

The Battle of Pfaffenheck – 15-17 March 1945

I recently read The Armored Fist a unit history of the US 712th Independent Tank Battalion in WWII.  One of the events described in detail in the book is the Battle for the town of Pfaffenheck in between the Rhine and Moselle rivers in March of 1945.   The event that stuck out at me from the battle was the destruction of an American tank, which killed the driver, Billy Wolfe.  I had the opportunity to visit the town in March, 2014 shortly after the 69th Anniversary of the  battle.

The Battle of Pfaffenheck was fought between soldies froom the 357th Infantry Regiment of the US 90th IN Division, the 2nd Platoon of C Company 712th Independent US Tank Battalion, and German troops of the 6th SS Mountain Division North (Gebirgsjäger).  The 6th SS Division has an interesting history itself.  The unit spent most of the war fighting in Finland and when that country made peace with the Soviets the 6th SS made an overland trek through Sweden to Norway where they transferred to Germany and fought in the Vosges Mountains of northern France over the winter.

Pfaffenheck

Locations of actions in the battle for Pfaffenheck

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Book Review: The Armored Fist: The 712th Tank Battalion in the Second World War by Aaron Elson

Book Review Featured Image

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] The Armored Fist: The 712th Tank Battalion in the Second World War is one of the best unit histories I have read from WWII.  It is not a traditional unit history in that it is not simply a list of engagements fought, enemy killed, and casualties suffered.  It is a compilation of the recollections of the unit’s members put into chronological order from their first combat to the end of the war.  This is not traditional battle history, instead it is the story … Read more…

Periodic World Craziness Update # 28

Ukraine

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship.  Ukraine crisis: Police storm main Kiev ‘Maidan’ protest camp:  The question on everyone’s mind: Is this the start of the Ukrainian Civil War?  I would guess no but still put the likelihood of Ukraine descending into civil war around 50%.  It would appear that the president is hoping he can wait the protesters out.  A hope that appears misplaced since the coldest part of the winter is about over and warmer weather is on the horizon.  The return of warm weather will actually bring out more protesters and if eh fails to dislodge the protesters now he … Read more…

The Makin Raid of 1942 and the Recovery of the Marines Lost After the Battle

Makin Burial

In August 1942 the 2nd Marine “Raider” Battalion raided what was then called Makin Island in the Gilbert Archipelago of the South Pacific.  The present name of the island is Butaritari in the island nation of Kiribati.

In 1942 the island had a small, roughly 160 man garrison, and was the site of a Japanese Airfield.  The raid was conceived as a way for the Marines to gather intelligence on what and how many Japanese forces were stationed in the Gilbert Islands.  The plan was for 211 men from companies A and B of the 2nd Marine “Raider” Battalion led by LTC Evans Carlson to land on the island under cover of darkness, neutralize the small Japanese garrison and ransack the island for anything of intelligence value before destroying the facilities and leaving the island.  The Marines would land from two submarines the USS Nautilus and USS Argonaut using small rubber boats equipped with outboard motors.

View of Makin Island from the Periscope of the USS Nautilus Before the Raid

View of Makin Island from the Periscope of the USS Nautilus Before the Raid

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Periodic World Craziness Update # 27

Remains of a prematurely detonated Car Bomb (VCIED) outside of Ad-Daw, Iraq in January 2005

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship. Suicide Bomb Instructor Accidentally Detonates, Kills 21 Students In Iraq:  I just about fell out of my chair laughing when I read this story.  I was reminded of the moron one afternoon in January 2005 who came out of a side road racing towards me and my wingman’s Bradley’s as we were driving into Ad Dawr, Iraq.  As he got to about 300m from our two vehicles his car suddenly disintegrated.  Stuff like this is why Arabs make horrible fighters.   North Korea warns South and U.S. over “provocative” drills:  I start to get the feeling that … Read more…

WWII Animated Day-by-Day

Below is an animated map of the progress of WWII day by day from 1 September, 1939 to October, 1945 when the last major units of the Japanese military surrendered.  It provides a fascinating view of the way in which the fortunes of the went back and forth.

Periodic World Craziness Update # 26

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship.  China’s State Media Blame U.S. for Near Collision of Warships:  I start to wonder how far and how fast China is willing to ratchet up tensions over the Senkaku’s?  It seems that China is not unwilling to provoke an incident.  What happens if they pull something like this in the future and the US retaliates by sinking a Chinese ship, maybe even their beloved waste of a carrier?  Never mind that this whole incident is akin to Hitler blaming Poland for WWII. India-US row over arrest of diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York escalates:  though this piece … Read more…

Periodic World Craziness Update # 25

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship.   Syrian Regime Chokes Off Food to Town That Was Gassed:  What is the point of a siege if food is allowed through the siege lines? I will never understand modern bleeding hearts.  They should be happy the government forces are not catapulting disease ridden corpses into the besieged area or trying to poison the water supply.  Since when is war supposed to bloodless and not affect non-combatants? Update: Starving rebels eat lion from a Damascus zoo – Apparently the siege is doing what a siege is intended to do.  I am not shocked.  Further, the guys … Read more…

Periodic World Craziness Update # 24

The latest month’s wackiness in the world of international relations, politics, and  brinkmanship. Syria: Al-Qaida group changes shape of civil war – It seems increasingly clear that the Syrian Civil War is starting to morph into a more regional conflict.  I would expect that before next summer we will star to see more overt regional alignments and the conflict will start to spread.  Give it another 18 months and we may very well start to see the fighting spread outside of Syria.  I would expect that Lebanon would be the first foreign country to see significant fighting spread onto it’s territory although I can picture a scenario where Iraq is also … Read more…

A rebuttal to “Killology”

In the past 100 years man has gone from a man, to a killer ape, to a man again. I find it hard to believe that he ever was a killer or lover of mankind, but more like a hungry creature who needed a reason to do anything other than satiate himself. First of all, we don’t have evidence to prove that the Battle of Gaugamela was “a giant shoving match.” We do have evidence that modern soldiers have misfired their rifles on purpose in order to avoid shooting the enemy, but many conclusions can be drawn from this. I would argue that Europeans have gone through four stages in … Read more…

When the Tigers Broke Free – Rape in World War Two

I am afraid that the top side is not completely satisfied with my work… They are naturally disappointed that I failed to chase the Hun out of Italy but there was no military reason why I should have been able to do so. In fact there is no military reason for “Shingle”. – Major General John P. Lucas     The Royal Fusiliers Company C were not the only men sacrificed for the imbibing hereditary duke beyond the Cliffs of Dover. The Battle of Monte Cassino and its sub theaters were a great multicultural event. The last time so many nations had uplifted and hurled themselves at an object was … Read more…