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  • Brian Wolfe

    An Apology - of sorts

    By Brian Wolfe

    I often describe myself as slightly paranoid, which then seems to make others think I have some sort of philological issues.  I don’t believe I am being “watched” for example.  That would, in my opinion, suggest that I hold some degree of celebrity in my mind; this would also, if it were the case, indicate that I think that I am somehow a fellow of above average interest to others.  I must admit that if I were any less interesting people would fall asleep during a hand shake with me. Perhaps what I should say is that I strive to be more careful than average when it comes to making purchases and in believing everything I am told.  Purchases such as left-handed baseball bats and non-flammable candles may be easy enough to avoid.  However I have lost count of all of the collectables I have purchased and then a few days later wondered how I could have made such unwise choices. A few examples of what I allude to are, prices being far too high or items that really didn’t fit into my collecting themes.    The problem of knowing when you are being told something other than the truth can at times be difficult.  There are some physical signs which must not be taken on individual basis, such as someone rubbing their nose or excessive blinking of the eyes.  These so-called signs, on their own, can be explained away as having nothing to do with attempted deceit. Collectively such signs, along with other indications may be used, in law enforcement as an example, to accept the statement or doubt what you are being told.   The most difficult “stories” to determine their truthfulness is when the person telling the story actually believes it to be the truth.  This and the manner in which the story is delivered and the interpretation of what has been said may end in one doubting the story as being the truth.  Two examples come to mind.  If you hear someone say that smoking can be bad for you and you need to take measures to avoid smoking, you may think of someone inhaling smoke from a cigarette, which fits the caution; or something else.  If you are standing too close to your BBQ and your clothing is starting to smoke then surely you need to take measures (stepping back) to avoid bursting into flames.  My second, and last example, comes from the television comedy, Saturday Night Live (SNL) that first appeared in 1975 which is famous for their rather juvenile humour appealing to the adolescent mind.  I became rather old and stuffy about 40 years ago and therefore stopped watching SNL.  One of the sketches involved a group of people telling an individual on a beach that “You can’t look at the sun too long”.  Most of us would take this as a warning and realize staring at the sun could be detrimental to your vision and not misinterpret this as you can’t get over the majesty of the sun, for example.  Of course the poor fellow being advised took the first interpretation with disastrous results. No, my retelling of this story is not very funny however, as has been said, “You had to be there to see it”.   One of the stories  that has floated around guns shows and places where people interested in military history gather, at least here in Canada, is the topic of this blog.  Yes, I know it has taken me a long time to get to the point...as usual.  Why say something in a couple of dozen words when a plethora of paragraphs can achieve the same results? That’s a rhetorical question of course.   The story is that one can turn an FN FAL C1,or C1A1, rifle from a semi-automatic to a full automatic weapon by inserting a piece of match book in the correct place in the internal workings.  This I have always held as being complete garbage. Any of those reading this who have served in the Canadian Armed Forces in the past and used the FN FAL C1 and the FN C2 please hold off on your hate mail until the end of this blog.    The Canadians used the FN FAL C1, a semi-automatic battle rife with the 7.62X51mm NATO round from 1953, being the first to officially adopt the FN FAL, until 1984 when it was replaced by the 5.56x45mm NATO C7 rifle and the C8 carbine both based on the American US AR-15.  The British and Commonwealth Nations used the same rifle as Canada but called it the L1A1. I have read that the rifle was commonly known as the FAL however in my area of Ontario at least, we refer to it as simply the “FN”.    Here’s where the claim of using the FN C1, inserting a piece of match book to turn it into an automatic weapon, becomes argument.  In each case where this has come up in the past I have tried to delve more deeply into this claim by asking if the service person is saying that with the insertion of a matchbook into the FN C1 they have changed it from a battle rifle (semi-automatic) into an assault rifle (full auto).  Without exception the answer is “yes”.  The problem in my mind, I have just recently discovered, is not whether you can modify an FN C1 with a foreign object to malfunction and discharge the weapon in rapid succession but have you actually “changed” this battle rifle into an assault rifle.  A basic definition of an assault rifle is that it is a carbine sized firearm using a large capacity magazine capable of sustained full automatic fire.  The FN FAL, even fitted with a large capacity magazine, falls short of being an assault rifle on two of the most important requirements that I have stated, even with the matchbook modification.   To all of the servicemen in my past who have engaged me in this argument, and there have been quite a few, I apologize.  You are correct in that you can make an FN FAL C1 malfunction to fire several rounds in rapid, automatic-like, succession.  On the other hand I would offer the suggestion that this could be done with almost any semi-automatic rifle.    On the other hand (you knew there would be an “on the other hand”) to all servicemen in my past who have engaged me in argument you failed miserably in qualifying your claim fully.  You did not, I must repeat, did not, change this battle rifle into an assault rifle, and especially to one fellow who claimed to have changed the FN FAL C1 into the C2A1, the squad automatic weapon (SAW),  as the C2 has a much more robust barrel to withstand the heat generated by sustained rapid fire.  Some of our members might note that they have seen an FN FAL C1 with a selective fire option and you would be correct.  There were some FN FAL C1 rifles fitted with the selective fire option and used only by the Royal Canadian Navy to give boarding parties the option of a full automatic weapon without the weight of the C2A1.     In past blogs I have managed to attempt to prove and at times disprove some claims.  I’ve disproved some claims about the Battle of Crecy and the crossbow. We then proved the capabilities of the crossbow in experiments that were undertaken with minor casualties. These experiments also brought to light that during an apology for a range mishap the suggestion that, “It is only a cat”, is best left unsaid. I think we successively supported claims regarding the possibility of an accidental discharge of the STEN gun.  Now we have supported the claim that the FN FAL C1 can be made to fire with the insertion of a foreign object; yet without actually fully admitting that I was wrong.  It’s a win, win situation!    I will continue with my version of paranoia and look for myths that I can prove or disprove, while being on guard against my own poor purchase decisions.    The post has just arrived and I need to close now and open the shipment of prefabricated postholes I purchased on eBay.   Ever vigilant   Regards Brian      
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  1.  

    Lately in the Books and Films section of this forum there have been discussions of the current movie, “Dieppe”, and the inaccuracies found by some of the members.  My first impulse was to make a list if all of the movies that I could remember back to the days of my youth and before where accuracy was obviously not an issue.  I soon realized that most would not relate to such movies as “Lives of the Bengal Lancers”, 1935 staring Gary Cooper; “Gunga Din”, 1939 staring Cary Grant; “The Charge of the Light Brigade”, 1968 with Trevor Howard (one of my favorite movies); or even “Waterloo”, 1970 with Rod Steiger.  Many of these won numerous awards yet are riddled with inaccuracies. 

     

    I looked to more resent movies such as “The Blue Max”, though it was in 1966 staring George Peppard.  In one scene of the German trenches it shows the soldiers awaiting the order to go over the top while holding British Number 4 Rifles first produced in the 1930’s equipped with the Number 9 Mk 1 bayonet.  This was the short bladed No, 5 (jungle carbine) bayonet blade welded to a socket similar to the 4 Mk 1 or 2 spike bayonet. These bayonets did not appear until after WWII, possibly around 1950.

     

      “Saving Private Ryan”, 1998 starring Tom Hanks.  A movie many World War Two veterans claimed was the most accurate depiction of conditions on the beach on D-Day.  If you are yet to see this film then do so if for no other reason than the landing scenes.  I suspect that if someone were to put out a remake with double the gun fire the same vets would proclaim it an even more accurate portrayal. Perhaps they would be correct.  I was really getting into this movie until Tom Hanks’ character disabled a German Tiger tank (if my memory serves) by firing his Thompson machine gun into the viewing port of the tank and killing the crew. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!  That must have been the only German tank to be without its very thick protective glass in the viewing port.  I need to research German tanks to see is they were actually using a periscope-style viewing device or not.  Either way, good for you Captain John Miller (Hanks), too bad the rest of the allies didn’t know this trick; could have saved a lot of lives.

     

    “Zulu”, 1964 starring Michael Caine, is another of my all time favorite movies.  My biggest complaint about this movie, aside from the medals worn by Colour Sergeant Borne, was the presence of a female in the movie.  What were they trying to accomplish?  Appeal to the female movie viewer?  You could have marched unicorns barfing rainbows and pooping bunnies across the screen and it would have still missed the female market! 

     

    “Zulu Dawn”, 1979 featuring Bob Hoskins, Peter O’Toole and Burt Lancaster.  Another of my favorite movies.  I listed Burt Lancaster because if this movie was not flawed enough Burt Lancaster cast as being Irish is an insult.  His Irish accent is so bad it should be recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. His range of emotion is slim to none and slim just left the room.  In one scene there is a line of what appears to be dismounted cavalry or perhaps artillery men using the Martini Henry Carbine.  The problem is that in some cases they are using what would appear to be the Martini-Metford carbine. The Martini-Metford did not appear before the 1890’s and the Battle of Isandlwana took place in 1879.

     

    Certainly bad acting has ruined many movies.  Charlton Heston comes to mind in such movies as “55 Days at Peking”, 1963 and “Khartoum”, 1966. Even now I have to remind myself that Moses was at neither location or in the movie.  Heston is another “one trick pony” of an actor in my opinion. 

     

    If I were going to nominate resent  movies on bad plot and worse acting the two top would be “Inglourious Basterds”, 2009 and “Fury”, 2014, both starring Brad Pitt; usually one of my favourite action movie actors.  The first one, overlooking the misspelled title, is a romp through some sort of fantasy Nazi-like world with lots of violence.  Better to go watch “Zombieland”, 2009 with Woody Harrelson.  There is just as much adventure and history is not insulted.  Is it true Mr. Harrelson is moving to Canada as soon as we legalize weed? Hmmm.

     

    Then there is “Fury”.  One of the best movies showing tanks in action bar none, however after one gets past the great tank scenes the rest is an insult to both the American and German soldiers.  The Germans are shown, in one scene, as marching down a dark road singing a song more like an army of Orks from Lord of the Rings.  Then they decide to destroy a disabled M4 Sherman with mostly small arms rather than the Panzerfaust carried by several soldiers.  Once the German casualty rate keeps going up it looks like the German commanding officer simply turns and walks away. Was he late for Oktoberfest or going to a BYOP party (Bring Your Own Panzerfaust) since the soldiers carrying the panzerfausts seemed to leave before or just after the officer.  Yet the German privates ,poor “basterds” (that was for you, Tarantino) keep attacking the tank with small arms.

     

    So the question stands, is accuracy in movies necessary?  Of course it is!  People who make movies and those acting in them are awarded all sorts of acclaim, provided the movie makes a lot of money.  Unless it was one of those Cannes Film Festival Best Foreign Film award things then it is hard to tell what they are trying to say or portray.  I’ll just say it, if I wanted to read sub-titles I would have bought the book. 

     

    Let’s look at a book and the movie about the same topic.  “How Can Man Die Better, The Secrets of Isandlwana Revealed” by Lieutenant Colonel Mike Snook verses “Zulu Dawn”, original story and screen play by Cy Enfield.  The book sets out the preliminary history that led up to the battle as does the movie, though less clearly.  Remember the movie had only 113 min. to make its point where the book had 302 pages.  Even so the movie could have been clearer.  All in all after you read the book you have an excellent knowledge of what happened as compared to the movie where you saw a large battle after a long and drawn out succession of scenes that only served to display the actors talents, or lack of talent in the case of a certain American actor trying to talk with an Irish accent (you know who I mean).  The impact of the movie battle was, of course, more poignant than the book due to live action and a sound tract.  Before I go any further it has probably come to you as it has to me that it depends upon what you are looking for in a historical drama.  It is difficult to pit action against the historical accuracy of a well written book. 

     

    It is my position that movie producers need to spend more attention to accuracy in story line as well as in the accoutrements that go along with a historically based film.  If all you are going to do is to produce an adventure loosely based on an historical event then you have simply churned out an adventure fantasy.  Even Game of Thrones is based on the War of the Roses, or so I have read; I don’t see it but that’s what I’ve read.  Rather than turn out a flawed historical farce then they should keep making films such as “Avatar”, 2009, staring...oh, who cares, it’s only a dammed fantasy movie anyway.

     

    I suppose the greatest benefit to historically based films made today with all of their flaws is to give people like us a challenge to point out all of those flaws.  I’ve been told that others also viewing said move are less than accepting when we voice our disapproval.  Don’t be too concerned, they just lack a need for accuracy and attention to detail.  Best you drive home after the movie, we wouldn’t want them to have to concentrate too hard on the finer details of road safety.

     

    Regards

    Brian

     

    PS: Yes, that mention of “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” earlier was a movie title reference from Tina Fey’s, 2016 movie.  That title is quite appropriate as I wanted to say “WTF” after I watched this time (wasting) bomb.

     

     

     

  2. I am sad to announce that Mervyn Mitton who has been Senior Moderator and friend to many of us on GMIC for several years passed away on Wednesday. He had been ill for many years, but he never let this get in the way of his passion for Militaria and Police Collectables. His knowledge of British Police history and collectables was immense and his death is a tragic loss to GMIC and the wider collecting world. Mervyn was always very proactive on GMIC and a real driving force behind the scenes amongst the staff. I will miss his old world charm, warmth, generosity and guidance. Yes he could be slighlty cantankerous at times, but that was part of his makeup, an old school English Gentleman a dying breed that are irreplaceable. I will miss him.

  3. INTRODUCTION

    When you live , or, work in an old town or city, it is easy to overlook historical buildings and
    landmarks.

    This happened when I was first posted to Bethnal Green Police Station. The area was a mixture -
    tall, ugly concrete blocks of flats - typical for the the late 1960's. Rows of old terraced houses
    and and tenement blocks - built-in the 1880's to try and improve the area and cover the shame
    and bad publicity that Jack the Ripper's murders had caused. There were also many small and medium sized factories and workshops.

    Walking - or, driving in a car on duty, it was easy to see just the people and the streets - however,
    once I was on night duty I had the opportunities to really see what made-up this 2000 year old
    area of continuous occupation. There will be other occasions when I will be able to go into detail -
    however, as an example, there was a short cross street between Brick Lane and Commercial Street
    named Fournier Street. Basically, it was a row of joined houses dating back to the 18th Century and
    in the style of the 17th Century. Most of them were derelict.

    During the time of King Charles 2nd - who was restored to the British Throne in 1660 - his French
    counterpart was the 'Sun King' - Louis X1V (14th). Following the urging of Cardinal Richelieu, he
    barred the Hugeonots - or, Protestants - from practising their Religion and they were forced to flee
    overseas. Many to Britain. My Mother's family name was Bozier - a Hugeonot descendent.

    The French silk weaving industry really depended on their skill, and when they left it fell into decline. Their loss was England's gain - the area the silk weavers chose to live was the same Fournier Street in London's East End. Many of the old houses have now been renovated and are
    shown as they used to be - workrooms on the ground floor - living accomodation above. There
    are several museums and it is an area worth a visit.

    General View of Fournier Street

    http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_09_2013/blogentry-6209-0-88277600-1378482882.gifclick

    Inside of one of the houses - the marks on the beams were for silk weaving machines



    Map of the area - Sever's House is now restored for the public.




    THE MECHANICS OF A 1960'S POLICE STATION

    I can only talk about the running of a Police Station in the 1960's/70's. I would think little had
    changed over the previous 100 years - and, quite frankly, if a system works why keep making
    changes. This seem to be the prevailing attitude today - change for the sake of change - or,
    is it just me getting old ?

    'HB' or Bethnal Green Police Station, was not the Divisional Station - however, because of the large
    population in the district it had a complement of some 200 Police and civilian staff.

    The commander of the Station was a Chief Superintendent (equiv. to a Lt.Col. in the Army). He
    was assisted by a Superintendent.

    The CID (Criminal Investigation Department) numbered about 25/30 - under a Det. Inspector.

    There was a Process Dept., under an Inspector for dealing with Summonses. When you reported
    someone for an offence, the paperwork was reviewed in this Dept. to ensure there was enough
    evidence to go to Court. When you made a direct Arrest the Sergeant dealing with the Charge also, had the responsibility of ensuring that it was a legitimate arrest - with the evidence to prove
    the Act the arrest was made under.

    The Station also had a detachment of Special Constabulary - who at that time were only allowed
    2 hours duty a week. I remember one old Special who was an Estate Agent. When on duty he
    parked his Rolls Royce in a side street.

    We had a fully staffed canteen and after 8p.m. we had facilities in the sitting area to make tea
    and light meals.

    The uniformed Branch numbered some 120 men - split into 3 Divisions or, Reliefs. These were
    identified as 'A' "B' and 'C' Reliefs - each under an Inspector and two sergts.. The system was
    changed some time ago, however, the above had existed for very many years.

    A 9 week cycle was followed. Early Turn was 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.. Late Turn was 2p.m. to 10 p.m.
    and Night Duty - 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.. You did 6 weeks of alternate Early and Late Turn and then
    3 weeks continuous Night Duty.

    You paraded 15 minutes early to be told what was happening, receive special duties and who was wanted. You also Paraded Appointments . This was to show you had your whistle, truncheon and report books.

    You have to remember that Police are a disciplined Force and subject to the Rules laid down by
    Parliament and your Commissioner or, Chief Constable. For example - you don't decide which variation of uniform you will wear - Dress of the Day is shown in Force Orders.
    With holidays, sickness, time off and Court appearances the Relief rarely paraded more than twenty men - and sometimes much lower. Just meant we worked harder.

    Hopefully, this brief outline will give you an idea of the set-up. With so many people with-in the Station you really worked with your own Relief - and the men on the other shifts. I was on 'B' Relief. Being so dependent on your colleagues for help in an emergency, you tended to become close friends - on and off duty. Although, as often happens you tended to have your own group.

    When I finished learning Beats with Jock, my Relief was about to start on 3 weeks of Nights. This
    meant I would be Patrolling my assigned area - or, Beat - on my own. Being the East End, away from main roads the back streets were poorly lit.

    Let me say right now - you don't know the meaning of ' Being on your Own ' until you have
    patrolled for the first time at night - and on a freezing February night....

    Radios had only recently been introduced - and we did not have enough to go around. I'm fairly
    sure that friends I had made, had ensured I had one that first night. They were Swedish Stornos
    and quite powerful. The unit went in your back left pocket and the microphone was fed up to
    your tunic or, greatcoat lapel. You could hear all station calls and if you wanted to speak you
    pressed a button on the top. Messages went to our Reserve Room or, Communications Room. This
    was manned by two PC's and an elderley , retired PC, manned the switchboard.

    We were supposed to return by midnight for refreshments - but, in the dark back streets I got
    hopelessly lost. It got to about 12.30a.m. and I knew I was a long way from the Station and knew
    that people would be wondering where I was. I didn't want to use the radio - I knew I would
    never hear the last of getting lost..........

    The decision was made for me - I was looking in my A-Z wondering where the 'hell' I was, when
    4 drunk yobos found me !

    They were very cautious at first - then got 'cheeky'. I wasn't nervous of them - perhaps a little
    intimidated. There were 4 of them and I only stood 5' 8". I decided that I'd better call in for
    directions - doing so, it slipped out that I was having a little trouble.

    Before I could turn round 5 Police cars and the van - plus some 20 police had arrived to see "what I
    was 'up to' " The whole canteen had turned out. Very embarrasing - but I knew then that I had
    friends.

    The yobs got a quick lesson in having respect for their local Police - and I got lots of different
    lectures in letting people give assistance when it is needed.

    I learned a lot from that incident - and of course - with time and experience you become a more
    confident person. However, like all of the Services - Military and Civilian - you have to learn that you are part of a team.

    Next time - a few more incidents. Some years ago I was asked to write for a local Radio Station,
    some humerous memories. Having recently found them in the move from the shop, I will add one
    to each future post.

    HUMOUR IN UNIFORM

    One of the duties of a London Policeman is Reserve Duty. This is where , once in a while, you
    man the communications room and make sure that there are always a few uniformed men around the Station.

    One quiet Sunday afternoon I had 'pulled' this duty and was thankful as it was a cold, wet afternoon in winter. About 3 p.m. the Duty Sgt. called me into the Front Office, where there were two men who
    were covered in mud. They said that in the morning they had been clearing a site (they were building workers) and had found two large iron objects. Thinking to sell them for scrap they had loaded them onto their open flatbed lorry. When they had gone for a drink someone said they looked like bombs and to bring them to the Police.

    Needless to say I was very grateful !! One look told me that they appeared to be large shells or, even bombs without fins. Beating a retreat wouldn't have helped - if they had gone-up so
    would half the East End of London - I tried Bribery ! Take them to Commercial Street police station I said - they won't take so long to deal with them !! Not likely - they wern't moving an inch
    and expected me to deal with them. Eventually we managed to get them into a corner of the station yard and covered them with sandbags - the London Police have always been good at immediate action to to re-assure the public !

    The 'bloody' workmen left and we had to evacuate the Station and the surrounding area until the
    bomb squad came to take them away.

    YES ! They were live and very unstable - had to be detonated in a nearby park. They were 1st
    World War 8 inch Naval shells. Heaven alone knows what thay were doing in the East End of London ?

    A couple of years ago - in Durban, I was asked to value and identify a deceased estate with militaria. The friend who was with me spotted a mortar bomb and picked it up - ' look', he said
    'it's a Chinese one. Oh my God, it's live with it's detonator and it's sweating '.
    We retreated very quickly and the SAP bomb squad had to detonate it. Please, please - no-one bring me any more shells or, bombs.












  4. Earlier today (5-25-13) I attended the Ft. Lee Military Show for the first time. I had a blast… great show, wonderful location; altogether a very worthy effort by the organizers. I’ll certainly go again next year, and I’ll probably have a table of my own then as well.

    I primarily went to hook up with two good friends, Kevin Born (one of the show’s organizers- thanks Kevin!) and Ralph Pickard (author of “Stasi Decorations and Memorabilia, Volumes 1 and 2”), as it has been a couple of years since I saw them last. A wonderful reunion ensued, along with some minor buying and selling on my part. Great way to spend a beautiful Saturday morning and early afternoon.

    Insofar as content, most of the vendors dealt in artifacts from multiple countries and the country that had the most items on display/for sale was the US. Wars covered began with WW1, although I did see reunion items from the US Civil War. There were a couple of US vendors who also had a smattering of Third Reich items, and a couple who also had Eastern Bloc awards. Kevin and Ralph’s tables were the only tables displaying East German militaria.
    The highlight of the day was Ralph’s sharing two unbelievable groupings he has acquired… and when I say “unbelievable”, well, you can certainly take that to the bank. The first group is that of a Hungarian State Security agent who retired a Colonel in the mid ‘70’s. In this group, Ralph has been able to acquire this gentleman’s awards from his own country, which include awards from both the Rakosi and Kadar periods and the documents that go with them; Bulgarian awards and associated documents; East German MfS (“Stasi”) awards and their documents; Soviet awards and their documents including the highly coveted “Outstanding Member of the MOOP” (in absolutely pristine condition) and KGB 50 Year award badge. Also with this group, is a Hungarian classified award document that, by virtue of it not having a copy distribution number, may be the sole copy of that particular document, and an interesting pass that admitted this gentleman to all secure areas in the event of an emergency- a sort of “get out of jail free” pass. There were other documents, such as his retirement document, as well. Suffice it to say I have never seen a grouping so impressive and so complete… then Ralph showed me the next case.

    This next group was that of an Armenian KGB agent (rose to Lt. Colonel) who was posted, for obviously a good little while, in Afghanistan. 24 awards with documents (for all but, I believe, 2 of the awards), including the Soviet Order of Personal Courage, Soviet Order of the Red Star, Afghan Orders of the Red Star (2), Afghan Order of Glory, Afghan Orders of the Star (1st and 3rd Class) and Afghan Medal for Valour… this guy saw more than his fair share of action. I have never this many Afghan awards in one place, let alone with nearly all the documents TO ONE INDIVIDUAL. I know that Ralph took a lot of time (and money) to get these groups together so completely and they really are beyond amazing. Such collections allow you to go past the individual medal, as impressive and desirable as it may be, and actually get an insight into the life and career of the individual who achieved these awards. Genuine history. And, what probably goes without saying is my appreciation to Ralph for sharing this with me. Strike two from the “bucket list”.

    A great day.

  5. TacHel
    Latest Entry

    Lost my step father of 40+ years this morning following a battle with cancer. He'll be terribly missed...

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    Hi Gents,

    I have been searching for some time to locate a clean WW2 Iron Cross Class 1, hopefully in original case and marked. Pin or screwback is fine.
    The problem appears to be that there are 1000's scattered over the Internet and as I wish to avoid buying a lemon, was hoping that a member maybe able to assist in some way ?

    I am not stuck on a specific LOD, but any help on where I should be looking and realistically expected to pay would be really appreciated.

    My grandfather was in the German forces serving with the 'Afrika Korps' and sadly perished during the conflict in the early 1940's. My little boy is now fascinated with the history of WW2 and I am hoping to locate the right medal that can stay in the family for future generations.

    In anticipation of any assistance
    Regards
    Marco
    :unsure:

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    Please help.
    My Grandfather, AB A.J.Holland served on HMS Terrible during the 2nd Boer War in the battles in the relief of Ladysmith and also when the ship was active on the China Station in the Boxer Rebellion at the relief of Peking.
    I know that his duties in South Africa were based on transporting ships guns to Ladysmith. He was awarded the Queens South Africa Medal with R of L bar. I am custodian of the afore mentioned medal. The medal appears to be silver and is engraved around its circumference with his number, name and ship. The type face or font appears to be a different style compared to those medals I have viewed on other websites. I hope that it's the genuine item but how can I tell?
    Additionally, he served as part of a gun crew in the battles of the relief of Peking. However, I cannot find any information to show whether he was awarded or should have been awarded a China War Medal. I recently read a book about the activities of HMS Terrible during this time, written by the ships Master at Arms. In the book, my Grandfather is listed as being part of a crew responsible for the operation of a gun. It is only from this information that I ascertain his role in the Relief of Peking.
    My question is; Is there a member knowledgeable in the field of the 2nd Boer War/Boxer Rebellion that could point me in the right direction to check out these two points or help in finding further information?
    Please advise.
    Thank you in anticipation,
    John Holland
    john.holland40@me.com

  6. Chris Boonzaier
    Latest Entry

    Kaiserscross.com topped 16 000 visits for the month of October !

    Only 2 000 were me!

  7. blog-0178235001420148872.jpg

    New Year's Day is a time for reflection. One cannot help but wonder what thoughts went through the minds of the Kaiser's Gunners as the New Year opened on 1 January 1915. Or what were the thoughts of their comrades in the Austro-Hungarian artillery or of the allied gunners pouring counterfire down on German positions. The Centenary of the First World War in the second half of 2014 was marked publicly by solemn ceremonies and reflective discussion. But from my opinion it still was a bit subdued. Of course, the crises of the day rightfully are the priority; not to mention the day-to-day grind of simply making one's way in this complicated world. Who has time to remember the troubles of 100 years ago? What significance do bits and baubles of leftover metal, enamel, ribbon, canvas, steel or leather have today? Since so few pieces of personal documents have survived, surely they cannot be of any significance.

    But to serious collectors like those of us here at GMIC, these things do matter. Sometimes I think we collect - and remember - both the heroic and the mundane (not only of the First World War, but from all the periods in which we find our collecting interest), with the simple hope that one day, we too will be remembered. History is often looked down upon by many (especially school children and students) as just old things and dead people in a book. Okay, well maybe as just old things and dead people on a Wikipedia web page. They fail to see that post cards from a soldier in the trench were the Twitter feed of today. They fail to see that hand-written diaries are the equivalent of a Facebook page. More importantly, they fail to see that history is around them every day: in the news, in their neighborhood, in their neighbors' lives, and in their own lives. Students understandably question why they should learn about people, places, and events in the past; we as "historians" and "teachers" have failed to show them relevancy. As a collective society, we must inspire each other to have a natural curiosity and awareness about the past so that we see how it affects the present. Perhaps then, armed with this knowledge, we can become active participants in shaping a better future for our communities, both locally and globally. This is why I believe the discussion we had earlier on GMIC about the causes of the First World War was so important.



    And this also is why these bits and baubles we collect are so important. They are tangible. They are a spark for curiosity. As collectors, I do believe that we serve a larger purpose of preserving history. One trend that continued in 2014 is especially troubling: the closing of brick-and-mortar museums. The scaling back in the scope of the Royal Artillery Museum "Firepower" in Woolwich, England due to budget issues announced in May 2014 is only one example. (Unfortunately, this trend started long ago in the United States with the scraping of the US Army Ordnance Museum in 2007.) It is perhaps inevitable. Reflecting on my own collecting past of 2014, I too scaled back due to budget. In 2014, I continued in earnest my transition from a lucrative consulting career to a career in education, with its corresponding scale back in remuneration. Consequently, my largest single collecting purchase in 2014 cost less than $100; a 1914 Mons Star to a Royal Artillery Gunner. It did not cost a great deal, but it means a great deal to me in terms of my current collecting motivation - history. I did not previously have a 1914 Star in my collection; adding one in 2014 seemed most appropriate. I have yet to research the medal; nonetheless, that brings me to my next reflection and moves this rambling tome on to its next phase - resolution.



    I didn’t collect much in 2014; I only added 10 new regiments in my effort to collect something representing every Imperial German artillery regiments. On the other hand, I researched more of the history behind my items. While quite basic, I enjoyed researching and writing the first four articles in the series “Artillery of the First World War” for GMIC Articles: Germany, France, Belgium, and Russia. I also wrote a special edition, “The Royal Artillery at Mons” and a piece on the “Königlich Bayerisches 12. Feldartillerie-Regiment (12. bFAR).” An article on the effect of large scale artillery bombardments in the First World War is in very rough draft. So, I resolve to spend less money on stuff and more time on research and writing in 2015. I am certain that The Chancellor of the Household Exchequer will ensure I keep this resolution! Like many of us, my collection rambles outside the boundaries of my main focus on artillery in the First World War. So, I also resolve to liquidate some of the more far-flung pieces; of course, if I can construe even the slightest connection to artillery, it will stay. The Chancellor may have to intervene to enforce rigor and discipline in the culling process.



    Realizing that one well-aimed shot can be more effective than several hundred tons of high explosive, I will wrap up this New Year's missive with one simple challenge: share your collecting reflections and resolutions for 2015.

  8. blog-0882473001408934598.jpg

    Garrison: Landau (In der Pfalz)
    Established: 1 October 1901
    Brigade: 3. Königlich Bayerische Feldartillerie-Brigade
    Division: 3. Königlich Bayerische Division


    Kaserne 12. bFAR Landau

    One of twelve active field artillery regiments of the Bavarian Army, 12. bFAR was formed in October 1901 from the III. Abteilung and the 6. Fahrenden Batterie of the Königlich Bayerisches 2. Feldartillerie-Regiment „Horn“ as well as two newly organized Fahrenden Batterien at Würzburg, Bayern. Prior to mobilization in August 1914, 12. bFAR, was garrisoned at Landau in der Pfalz, in southwestern Germany. The Regiment was subordinate to the 3. Königlich Bayerische Feldartillerie-Brigade / 3. Königlich Bayerische Division.






    After mobilization, 12. bFAR remained with the redesignated 3. Bayerische Infanterie-Division throughout the war; thus earning the same campaign credits as the Division. First World War Campaigns 3. Bayerische Infanterie-Division:


    The I. Abteilung 12. bFAR was armed with the 7.7cm Feldkanone (FK 96 n/A); II. Abteilung was armed with the 10.5cm leichte Feldhaubitze 98/09. In February 1916, two guns from each of the 1., 2., and 3. Batterie, were given up to form the 21. Feldartillerie-Regiment. In January 1917, 12. bFAR was enlarged with a III. Abteilung. The Stab, 7., 8., and 9. Batterie of the III. Abteilung initially fell under the command of the III. Armeekorps for training. Training was completed at the Truppenübungsplatz Thimougies in Belgium in February 1917 and the new battalion joined the Regiment in the field.

    At mobilization, the 3. Bayerische Infanterie-Division was part of Kronprinz Rupprecht von Bayern’s 6. Armee. The 6. Armee was central to the bitter fighting in Alsace-Lorraine during the Battle of the Frontiers at the beginning of the war. Official German reports for August 1914 set casualty figures in the 6. Armee at 34,598, with the number of dead at 11,476. (Herwig) One of those dead was Kanonier Alois Plinganser of 5. Batt. 12. bFAR, who was killed on 24 August 1914. After holding off the French offensive in the south, 6. Armee counter-attacked on 20 August with the objective of capturing terrain south of Nancy, known as the Gap of Charmes. After initial success, the 6. Armee’s attack stalled on 24 August just east of Bayon; the French 1st and 2nd Armies counter-attacked, pushing the line back to its 14 August positions. On 24 August 1914, 12. bFAR and Kanonier Plinganser’s 5. Batterie were located at Remenoville, right in the center the brutal back and forth fighting. Early on 24 August, 3. Bayerische Infanterie-Division was given the task to open the route from Mont to Blainville; 12. bFAR was attached to the 5. b. Infantrie Brigade on the right side of the avenue of attack for this task. By early afternoon, 12. bFAR had taken up a position on Hill 251, north of Blainville, but without the 5. Batterie. The 5. Batt 12. bFAR had been fixed in its previous position by enemy artillery fire and was not able to move until the next morning (the morning of 24 August) when it took up a position south of Lamath. Infantry regiments of the 3. Bayerische Infanterie-Division continued a slow advance from Blainville toward Remenoville, supported by its own artillery, but under heavy counter-fire from French artillery. Progress was made kilometer by kilometer and by 6pm on 24 August, elements of the Division were outside Remenoville. However, during this advance, II. Abteilung 12. bFAR came under heavy French artillery fire near Franconville, a few kilometers north of Remenoville. The heaviest casualties were suffered by 5. Batt 12. bFAR. II. Abteilung 12. bFAR finally arrived at Remenoville by 7pm in the evening. Almost immediately, the German troops at Remenoville came under heavy French artillery fire and infantry attacks. By dawn on 25 August, Remenoville was in flames and the front line between German and French forces was just outside the village. Kanonier Plinganser, however, had not lived to see that dawn.


    The Battle of the Charmes Gap, August 1914


    Line of German Attack on 24 August


    12. bFAR positions Remenoville, 24 August


    Line of French Counterattack on 25 August

    With the end of the war in November 1918, the III. Abteilung was dissolved, with the 7. Batterie being completely disbanded, the 8. Batterie moving to I. Abteilung, and 9. Batterie moving to II. Abteilung. The Regiment was demobilized at Ebermannstadt on 18 December 1918 and dissolved in January 1919. Elements of the Regiment became part of Frei- or Volkswehr-Batterie Zacherl, later Heyl; later these elements became 3. Batterie Reichswehr-Artillerie-Regiment 23. In August 1921, this unit became 3. Batterie des 7. (Bayerisches) Artillerie-Regiments garrisoned in Würzburg. The tradition of 12. bFAR was taken up in the Wehrmacht by the II. Abteilung des Artillerieregiments 33 in Landau und later by Artillerieregiment 69 in Mannheim.

    Sources:

    Kraus, Jürgen. Handbuch der Verbände und Truppen des deutschen Heeres 1914-1918. Teil IX: Feldartillerie. Band 1. Vienna: Verlag Militaria, 2007. Web (Wikipedia Deutschland). 24 August 2014

    Herwig, Holger H. The Marne, 1914. New York: Random House. 2009. Print.

    “Les batailles de Lorraine.” n.p. n.d. chtimiste.com/batailles1418/lorraine.htm Web. 24 August 2014

    “Pierre’s Photo Impressions of the Western Front.” n.p. n.d. pierreswesternfront.punt.nl/content/2012/10/als-lorraine-gap-of-charmes Web. 24 August 2014

    The Prussian and spolei. “Kgl. Bayer. 12. Feldartillerie-Regiment info needed.” GMIC.co.uk Web. 24 August 2014

  9. "Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives...

    You are now living in the soil of a friendly country.Therefore rest in peace.

    There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours…

    You, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace, after having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well."

    Ataturk, 1934

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    Old artprints I found at a fleemarket. Enjoy

  11. Joan, whom I have worked with for more years than I care to think of, is in hospital seriously ill with cancer and a heart attack. Your thoughts and prayers would be appreciated.

    Over the years I have helped Joan research her family's military history. Her father was one of the Canadians who joined the R.A.F. in 1938. He ended up with 42 Squadron R.A.F. flying Beauforts, along with a compatriot Oliver Philpot. Both were shot down and both ended up in Stalag Luft III. Philpot was to escape with Eric Williams and Michael Codner in the wooden horse escape. Her uncle was killed October 13, 1941 with 58 Squadron R.A.F. on return from a raid on Nurenburg.

    A great uncle 464662 Pte.James Frederick Burns was killed October 26, 1917 with the 47th Bn. C.E.F. and is buried in Passchendaele New British Cemetery.




    I'm hoping Joan will pull through.

    Update April 29 - Joan died today. .

    Rest in peace, Joan


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    blogentry-14469-0-39597000-1351657013_th Members might be interested in a new book, called MOOROSI: A South African king's battle for survival that I have written and which has just been published. It tells the detailed story of a little-known, but intriguing, war that took place in southern Lesotho (then Basutoland) in 1879 between the Cape Colony and the BaPhuthi people, led by King Moorosi. The war was followed by the Basotho War, or the Gun War, which began a year later. MOOROSI also includes descriptions of other wars that took place on the Eastern Cape border of the Cape Colony in 1877 and 1878.

    The book describes how the Moorosi war arose from conflict between the Cape Colony and the BaPhuthi people, leading to the siege of Mount Moorosi, a flat-topped mountain fortress surrounded by steep cliffs on three sides. The accessible fourth side was fortified with stone walls and guarded by the heavily-armed BaPhuthi people, who built a village on the mountaintop. The assault on Mount Moorosi presented a challenge in military strategy to the colonial forces who found it more formidable than they had ever thought it would be. Three colonial soldiers won the Victoria Cross for their actions during the war; how they won them is told in detail in the book.

    Although the book is categorized as historical fiction, almost all the story is true and represents the results of seven years of research during which I consulted rare books and government documents from the time of the war, spent many hours in archives in South Africa and Lesotho, and visited the historical sites around which the action takes place.

    I was born and raised in South Africa. My interest in cultural conflict, colonial Africa and the Moorosi battle in particular began when I traveled through Lesotho on horseback in my early 20s and when I subsequently worked as a journalist at several South African newspapers and news magazines, covering cultural conflict in Southern Africa during the apartheid years.

    While studying as a journalism student at Columbia University in the mid-60s, I not only wrote a thesis on cultural conflict but also attended lectures and wrote papers relating to the Vietnam War, which directly affected many of my fellow students. After moving to the United States in 1980, I studied conflict around the world, including the two wars in which the United States has recently been involved, while working as a journalist in the Seattle area.

    I believe MOOROSI is an excellent case study in war, mirroring many of the issues that we see in today's conflicts around the world.

    The book is accompanied by pictures illustrating the events before and during the war. Please see: http://www.moorosi.com

    MOOROSI is listed on the amazon website at: http://www.amazon.co...351655372&sr=8- where it is available in print and Kindle editions.

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    Reyes
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    Gentlemen -- I have a Waterloo Medal that I wish to determine the authenticity of. The medal was given to me by an uncle who fought in Germany in WWII. Until a couple of months ago I thought it was just some commemorative coin of little value. After doing a little research I have reason to believe that it may be an autheWaterloo Medal June 18, 1815.pdfntic Waterloo Medal.

    In an attempt to authenticate it, three months ago I sent the Royal Mint Museum pictures of the medal (see attached images) requesting verification of the name encrypted on it in the museum's original Waterloo Roll Call. A day after I sent the request I received a standard reply stating that one of their team members would be in touch with me shortly -- a month ago I sent a second request asking for the status of my original inquiry but the museum did not reply.

    The name engraved on the outer edge of the medal is Richard Smith, 2nd BATT, 73rd REG, FOOT.

    Could you please tell me if there is another way(s) to authenticate the medal?

    Sincerely,

    Sgt. USMC Retired

    Waterloo Medal June 18, 1815.pdf

  12. Enhancing Your Collection

    It’s been a while since I have written and since we last talked I have moved my study and with it the Home Office into new surroundings; same address just a new and better location. This involved new cabinets and displays so it was a lengthy process. In addition to this I decided to retire from public service and the past six months has been spent attempting to wrap up my projects. Although to get them all completed would take another two years as new road connections through forests are limited by budget and in our country a short construction season. Still all has finally come to pass with a few more touches to the study and the unfinished work projects in the capable hands of my replacement I am free to do what I want to do with rest of my life.

    Reading the posts on the GMIC lately I noticed one by Robin talking about the addition of a new Crimea Medal, I’m still envious, and in addition to this the addition of a cigarette card of this medal featuring the same bar. I believe Mervyn mentioned that some members are adding cap badges and other insignia to their medals and medal groups. This is something I have been doing for some time now and I wanted to talk about this interesting augmentation to medal collections as well as other military collectables.

    Below is one drawer of medals where I have added the cap badges to the medals



    I find myself; or rather catch myself, boring family and friends with my collections and constant droning on about history and this battle and that battle and how the breakdown of diplomacy led to one conflict or another. Most of my medal collection is housed in shallow drawers and if there is one thing I’ve noticed is that the average person’s eyes will start to glaze over after the third, and if I’m lucky, the forth drawer of what is perceived as one medal or group of medals after another with little to no differences. In fact I too start to think that there is a certain monotony about a sizable collection of just about anything after a while. If you are at all like me this “monotony” somehow imparts a warm feeling of comfort and security, as does the knowledge that I am a student, of sorts, of history and how these artefacts are in concert with the events they commemorate.

    For most of us, we collect for ourselves and not for others, nor do we seek to garner praise for our efforts from the few upon whom we may bestow the honour of viewing our treasures. I suppose that is somewhat a joke in the average person’s opinion as many would think even an hour going over someone’s collection, their passion as it were, to be a total waste of time. However, they are simply members of the great unwashed masses so let’s not give them any more consideration here.

    I’ve seen several collections where the owner has framed their collection, breaking the medals up into specific themes or a grouping to one recipient. For the most part I really like this, however in my case; wall space is and always has been at a premium. Framed documents and larger photos have always taken precedence in allotting wall space so medals were placed in shallow drawers out of necessity as much as anything else.

    In this blog I am speaking more about additional items to enhance the experience for someone viewing a collection and even to make it more interesting for the collectors themselves. Some of those additional items could be the cigarette cards mentioned earlier which could be of a soldier in uniform as much as the particular medal. My Bahawalpur collection has a cigarette card featuring a soldier from that country in full uniform, which I think is quite interesting. In addition to this I have added a post card commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1st Bahawalpur Regiment, 1834-1934, and their battle honours.

    Other additions to collectables, that comes to mind; could be the addition of nipple, or hammer protectors to a black powder rifle or musket, or an authentic muzzle plug for the same type of weapon. A small word of caution here; it might be best not to make the announcement around the water cooler, in the office, that you are awaiting a shipment of vintage nipple protectors. Nasty rumors could be forthcoming. Of course rifle slings either authentic or reproductions dresses up a rifle or musket quite nicely. A discussion on reproductions, “to use or not to use”, is a topic for another time.

    Examples of additional items for a musket are shown below. The nipple protector and muzzle plug are on an 1853 Enfield and the sling is an original on a Pattern 1842 Brunswick Rifle marked as belonging to the Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR).



    Swords too have accessories such as wrist straps and sword knots that can be added. Sadly my Japanese sword collection has no such accessories, yet, but who knows, perhaps in the future. The only one with any such strap is missing the all important knot.

    The British sword shown below, with original leather sword knot, is the Pattern 1895 Infantry Officer’s Sword displaying the cipher of King George V.



    As always I hope this short dissertation will give the reader pause to think about alternatives to simply adding yet another item to the collection and enhance the specimens you already have.

    Regards

    Brian





  13. Hello again,

    Well, my enthusiasm totally overrides my ability to get these badges organised. It's such a big job and I get a little lost just trying to sort through them. Although I have been quiet here, I have been noting a lot of posts and have identified a few of my pieces just from others' photos......so thankyou!

    I'm also reading "Tobruk" by Peter Fitzsimons. It's heavy reading....very interesting, but I read in bed at night, generally crime novels that you don't have to pay too much attention to, but THIS book!! I find that I have to reread the previous page every time I pick it up. I just don't want to miss anything and I'm taking notes as I go so I can try and match up some photos to the events. So, while I can knock over a cheap thriller in a few nights, this one is taking a lot of time. I've learned a lot though.

    I will tell you a funny story, a little embarassing, but it will give you an idea of exactly how much of a beginner I am at this military stuff (some might even say I'm a real girl!)... So, I'm going through the badges one night, putting aside ones that have words on them so I can google.. I come across one that is just one word, curved like a badge that goes on a sleeve (I have Harry's Australian one so I'm thinking I know what I'm doing here). Anyway, this one says "LESTINIAN"..... I'm thinking French...it sounds French right? So I Google....nothing. I go to Google translate....nothing. Now I'm getting frustrated. It seems it should be the easiest one of all to find, but no, nothing! So I give up on that one, I'll deal with that later, maybe post it on GMIC....

    Then, I'm browsing a few days later, and I see a post, with a picture, and it hits me..... I look at the badge again, taking a close look at the end, right before the "L"...two little nubs.....

    Yep, that's right, I'm sure you guessed it..... It's "PALESTINIAN"..... the "PA" has just broken off !!!

    So, be warned (again)... I'm new to this !!

    Here are a couple more of Harry's photos, just a few random ones from the album.

    Kind regards to you all

    Tracy



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    blog-0443697001362839212.png

    I have a box of 9 WW II pull switches - in original tin with the original instructions, 7 still in original wrapping - found in an old building I purchased. Wanting to sell but don't know best way or forum anybody interested? or know a good outlet, and does anybody have any idea of value?

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    Hello altogether,
    i look for the user "douglynn". He was here at last three years ago. If anyone know him or is able to contact him please refer to this blog.

    Thank you very much!

    best regards
    ma_rie_rudz

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    Surreyroamer
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    blog-0901189001353763767.jpg

    Anyone reconise this?

  14. Dr Thomas Coutts Morison MRCSE LAC JP, son of Sir Alexander Morison, volunteered to serve as a civilian Staff-Surgeon during the Crimean War. He died unmarried in 1863 in Rockhampton in the Colony of Queensland (Australia), and apparently among his possessions when he died was a Crimean War period Order of the Medjidie. I'm looking for some information on this from the people that really know the Medjidie.

    Morison’s insignia is a silver star comprising seven triple quills with seven small crescents and five-pointed stars between them, the whole measuring 43 mm in diameter (one of the tips has been broken off). Is there any way to distinguish a 4th Class insignia from a 5th Class, just from the star?


    The gold central disc bears the Sultan’s tughra, the Royal Cipher of the Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid I, after whom the Order is named. Around this is a gold-bordered circle of red enamel bearing the words in Arabic script for “Devotion”, “Loyalty” and “Truth” and the Islamic year 1268 AH (1852) on four red enamel plaques. There is a suspension loop present, fitted at the rear, but the entire central disc is out of position by 90º clockwise. Is this unusual, or likely to be a fault in the assembly of the original medal?

    This insignia lacks the typical suspension (a red-enamelled crescent and star suspender with green enamelled edges); this has been removed and the star instead has a horizontal brooch mount on the reverse. The reverse bears a fitted concave silver disc which is engraved to: “Thomas Coutts Morison Staff Surgeon P.M.O. Sultan’s Coʃsacks”, which I think reflects the writing style of the day.

    Any comments or feedback would be greatly appreciated.
    Paul

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    pmuehleis
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    Being new to this site please excuse for anything that may be repetitive. I have some clarification concerning Reinhold Ritter von Benz. As a member and later leader of Jasta 78b his military career started in the infantry. I have seen some posts which suggest his (Blue Max ) Maximillian Joseph Orden was awarded posthumously. In fact it was awarded on Sep. 28,1915 as Leutnant 17. Bayerische Infanrieregiment. This after already receiving the Military Merit Order of Bavaria. Due to serious wounds he was unable to continue service in the infantry. Later he joined the air wing of Jasta 78b. One of his early planes was an Albatross then later a Fokker D VII Nr. 4461/18. This is the aircraft in which he was shot down and killed on Aug 13,1918, near Vaxainville, France.
    He was buried in the military cemetery at Reillon, France. There is some suggestion on various internet sites that a Fokker D VII with a "K" inside a white star is that of Karl Kallmunzer. This unfortunately for all you model enthusiasts is incorrect. Karl Kallmunzer was indeed a member of Jasta 78b and he did have a "K" on his plane but but it was on an Albatross and it was in a circle. He was in fact shot down in that same plane. You may ask why someone with the name Benz would have a "K" on his plane. This is information only his family would know and therefore the confusion. The "K" on Benz's plane was actually for his girlfriend Katie.
    How do I know ? He was my grand uncle and his papers and photos are now all in my possession. I have 4 photos taken during different times of him and his plane, a group photo of him with the rest of Jasta 78b as well as several documents of his death , and burial.
    I hope this helps. I know some of you have been looking for more info on Jasta 78b.

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    Hi,
    I have in my possession a half pint pewter mug given to my grandfather. It is engraved with the words: Branscombe contingent H. Hansford 1914-1919.
    It appears that these mugs were given to the men of Branscombe village, devon when they returned from the war. They were also given to the families of those that didn't return.
    If anyone knows anything about these mugs or has seen one please contact me.

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    Robert A
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    Hi every one, I have a question, there are conflicting information on the net regarding the French Import mark of swan for objects containing silver. Online encyclopedias mention it came into existence in 1893 and was in use till mid 1960's, in this web site some mention it came into existence in 1864 and was in use till 1892-93, can someone please enlighten me as to the actual date it came into use and when did it stopped being used by the French authorities. Many thanks for any help you can forward me.

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    Doing research on Major John Francis Purcell (Cape Mounted Rifles) I discovered that you have been contacted
    by his grandson. I have in my possession family letters, photographs, and other personal ephemera which I feel
    should go back to the family. Unfortunately I only discovered your web site today and have already put these items
    on Ebay. I hope there is a way that he can view these items.

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