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.
Space: The Final Frontier
or the Confessions of a Addict
It starts out quite harmlessly, perhaps at the insistence of a friend, peer pressure as it has become to be known. It seemed harmless enough; after all it was just a “one off”, and not something you were intending to become a habit. Not like those others, all consumed by the drive for more. You know them, with their excuses of being able to stop at anytime, no one is getting hurt and staying well within their financial parameters. After a while you started to look for more sources, buying wherever and whenever you could, tying the purchases to every aspect of your life. Vacations, business trips and days off all centering around getting more until you start using money you have yet to earned, getting out the plastic, the card, the old swipe and carry; “they” make it seem so easy. Then comes month’s end and payment must be made, made for product that you have already acquired and it seems pointless to have to pay for something you already have. Pay the minimum and you’re good for another month of obsession.
Yes, it starts out as one item, a single item, a curiosity some would call it, then another similar or related object makes itself available and you have two; it’s only two, a pair nothing more. Besides they look good displayed on the mantle or bookshelf, what harm could that do? Then, much without you even realizing why, a third appears and you have three, you now have a collection my friend; a small collection to be sure but a collection all the same. No big deal it’s not that it takes up a lot of space; after all you can keep or display the trio anywhere. This is where a normal, rational human being would hear warning bells, a red flag would be raised or some sort of alarm would sound. You are not quite at the “tipping point” that point where you are still part of the majority of humans, functioning like everyone else. Without warning of any kind a fourth item presents itself and you think, “Who wants to be just like everyone else”? You’ve now crossed that line, the Rubicon of no return; you are a collector my son, one of the lost, the hopeless; the obsessed.
At first being obsessed is not a real problem for you or even your spouse, there is lots of room to accommodate your collection or in my case collections. It all fits well in a corner of the basement or your office/den and it keeps you occupied and it is all pretty harmless, or so it seems. As the collection grows ever larger, much like an infestation, hardly noticed for a long time, you find the little area that you have been allowed to use to amass your “stuff” is getting too confined. You and your collections are starting to feel choked, smothered almost trapped, the need for space, more space, is becoming a driving force in your life. Just when you and your collection are starting to suffer claustrophobic anxiety one of the kids is going to University. An empty space is now available and there is no need for an additional guest room and you certainly are not going to entertain the child’s moving back home. What to do. You and your spouse have joked about how to make the room unavailable in case the graduate decides to take up residence with you again until “they find themselves”; a common excuse to free-load off Mom and Dad. The idea of filling the room to the top with concrete has been kicked around in jest, but you, you have a much better idea...
Ah, your own room, the collection room, your sanctum sanctorum a place for you and the collection. Not you and “your” collection but you and “the” collection as it has now taken on a life of its own, ever growing, ever consuming resources and that most vital of all necessities, space. Life, my friend is indeed a cycle, an ever revolving wheel of searching, acquiring followed by more searching for material to feed the collection. Just as it seems as if the very walls of the collection room are about to burst the second child announces plans of “leaving the nest”. All praise the collecting Gods, you now have a second room ready to accept the overflow that has accumulated; and so the cycle starts anew.
Oh happy days, the elation of space to fill, of territory conquered; no more stacking specimens in corners placing them in boxes for future display. You think you are once again the master of space; oh you poor, poor deluded man. It never fails that history repeats itself and room two, the room you now call the “Sword Room” has started to constrict you. “The Collection Room” is now the “Main Collection Room” as you feel the need for definition and while there is more in the new “Sword Room” than swords and because you have submitted to the reality that these collections have become living entities you know the rooms deserve names of their own. “Surely this cannot go on”, is not a thought that crosses your mind, not openly that is; still there is that nagging feeling that space is once again at a premium.
Strange how as each child has announced her decision to move out, to school, to get married or to find their own place they have become your favourite child. As life would have it, the third daughter is moving and at this point no one doubted the destiny of the newly emptied space. A new problem, however, presents itself in the form of a need for a permanent photographic area and a “shipping department’ for two businesses that have taken off and are thriving. So while the third room is there it is not open to the collections in the same context as in the past and while the photo area supports the hobby it is not intended for its residency. What to do?
After just over fifty years of collecting, the last twenty with your present wife, you have the whole downstairs (basement level) to yourself; with the exception of a guest room which has been declared “off limits” to the collection and any part thereof by the true ruler of your house. Three rooms dedicated more of less to your collections, a three piece washroom and the family room which the whole family calls “the museum lounge”; which it pretty much is. All of this and yet there is that need, the need to feed the obsession; the need for space..
The only answer seems to be a reduction of all that is excess and not required to keep the collections alive and thriving. A call to two dealer friends and an antiques “picker” is made and suddenly the Collections are leaner and perhaps improved somewhat. Gone are three car loads of mineral and fossil specimens, two dozen surplus Bobby’s helmets, and a collection of cameras, firefighting equipment and military radios. So many collectables gone but in their place is a tidy quantity of cash. This scenario may sound quite desirable however it is much like a drug addict getting clean and as a reward he is handed the keys to a pharmacy. Still there is the matter of all of those items you worked so hard to accumulate being gone, gone forever, as you realize that you won’t live long enough to ever collect them or like objects back again. You look around the empty room, a vacant place such as you have always been striving for and now have gained. In shock at what you have done, you take a deep breath and before you utter a sound you realize the horror that...
...in space no one can hear you scream.
Happy obsessing collecting.
In this essay I would like to talk about writing in general as well as blogs themselves. It seems odd to me how we say that we are going to “talk” about something when it is actually in print. I suppose I should have written, “I would like to write about...”, it would have been more accurate. The other issue that comes to mind is audio books. You don’t read an audio book, you listen to them; this being the case should they even be called books, since you read a book and listen to a recording. I can’t help but wonder how anyone can be so busy that they need to be read to, like a child at bed time; or is it a matter of limited reading skills or out and out laziness. The books I like to read are historical and scientific [particularly earth science] and I confess to watching lectures on You Tube far more often than I like admitting. If you are looking for a couple of good presenters on You Tube, pertaining to history, I suggest you try, Lindybeige or Matt Easton scholagladiatoria [just type matt easton into your browser and go to the choice that includes scholagladiatoria, this saves typing in a long Latinized name]. He talks mostly about swords and HEMA [Historical European Martial Arts] where Lindybeige talks on history as well as some quite philosophical topics.
As to blogs, at least the one I attempt to pound out here, there are inherent problems. For example it is difficult to stay away from politics and religion when they play such an intrinsic part of the story of military history. It is also difficult not to unintentionally draw comparisons between the past and present state of what is going on in the world today. It’s not as if this is anything new, for example, a writer in the 1850s [an era in which my children are convinced I was born] could as easily have made a connection between the past and their particular time period. The difference is that he or she is not taken to task today about what they wrote “yesterday”; a current writer on the other hand is quite open to verbal attack for such comparisons, intentional or otherwise. No one likes to constantly apologize for the misinterpretation of his work by others. When it comes to religion I could say that I don’t care what your religious beliefs or lack thereof may be. However, that’s not completely accurate as it is not a matter that I don’t care it is a matter that I do not believe it is any of my business.
Then there is the matter of what words to use and how to use them. Most people do not write the same way they speak. The reason is simple, in my mind, as when we converse we don’t have the time to pick what we might think to be a more appropriate word. I will be honest here and say that I do at times stop in the middle of spoken sentence and say, “what is that word...let me think...oh yes”, then include it and carry on with the thought. I know it drives people crazy; unlike religion, this is a case where I really don’t care. I also occasionally do use Latin terms when I talk with others, not a lot, but I use them. My family has gotten used to it and friends pretty much ignore their use, and at times me no doubt. I do struggle with what words to use; should I go for the word I have in mind or try to find a monosyllabic word to assure all of the readers will understand and thereby avoid being seen as pretentious. I think that it’s better to be seen as pretentious rather than to feel like I am being condescending toward the reader, I’d rather be seen as being more pompous rather than risk insulting fellow members. Yes, I see the irony in using “monosyllabic” over “single syllable” when I claimed that I wanted my writing to be clear to the reader. My thought on this point is and has always been that if you don’t understand a particular word then look it up; that’s what I did and still do; it’s basic vocabulary building. My last point on viewing people as being pretentious is to pose the question, ‘Did you think the writer opened the dictionary, picked out some very long words then wrote the article around those words. Certainly he or she had foreknowledge of those words in order to have used them in the first place.
The fact that some of the potential readers may not have English as their first language is not lost on me. I come from a bilingual country [Canada] and stand as a proponent of bilingualism. Having said that my grasp of the French language is less than minimal; this is the very definition of hypocrisy. I can imagine how I would feel attempting to read an article in another language other than English and I regret that I am unable to accommodate them...c’est la vie. I treat learning a second language much like living a healthy life style and getting plenty of exercise. I fully support those so inclined and enthusiastically cheer them on while they run by as I sit in my lawn chair, Pepsi in one hand and a bag of potato chips close by giving the participants a hardy thumbs up. Just remember that in 100 years we all be in the same condition, at least for me it will be no surprise.
In conclusion, I will attempt to be more mindful of the need for clarity in my writing while not drifting too far away from what I term as a writing style. After all it has taken me decades to get to be this annoying and pretentious.
You might not have much of a life if you are working on compiling material for a book titled, My Most Memorable Games of Solitaire, or writing a blog titled.
Why Collect? – The Best Answer
In my ongoing quest to ascertain why things are they way they are and why people do what they do, I offer the following blog.
A question often asked on forums and by people we meet who are aware that we collect is “why do you collect”. For the sake of this discussion I will stay within military collecting but the answer to that question is generic to all forms of collecting; Beanie Babies to bayonets.
The classic answers to this question are quite varied and I have no doubt that some are actually truthful, or at least believed so by the orator. I should digress for a moment, which I am wont to do with more frequency than my readers would prefer. There is a tendency among us sceptics to treat many answers to this common and more or less personal question with a strong dose of cautious doubt. The Internet makes it very easy for those who may not be on speaking terms with the truth to say just about anything. There is no chance to apply lessons learned in the field such as changes in facial features or body posture to ascertain probable truthfulness or attempts at deceit. As an example, many years ago I was assisting a Sergeant in an investigation and we were interviewing a street person who had been known as a storehouse of useful information. This was a chance encounter and, in retrospect, interviewing her on the street was very poor procedure, the repercussions of this lapse of protocol is a subject for a story another day. The young lady was known by the name of “Cigarette Mary”; and she had intimate knowledge of many of the local characters. After we had written down her information the Sergeant said, “That was a very interesting story, Mary; now tell me something I can believe”. Interestingly enough she did just that which eventually led to several arrests. I will admit that I was a bit naive and didn’t pick up on Mary’s body language; however the experienced officer “had her number” as soon as she began speaking. This would have been impossible through emails and holds true not only for deceit but in cases where the truth is being related. I tell you this as many of the reasons given for collecting may sound a bit contrived yet can still be one hundred percent genuine. To paraphrase Mr. Ed Haynes, “Anything is possible and can happen; and probably has; twice in India”. People also tend to tell you what they think you want to hear. A collector’s spouse says, out of frustration, “You really think you need another old gun”, all the while thinking that funds are stretched far enough and that the collector’s an idiot. The collector in a vain attempt at transferral says, “It’s an investment for the future dear, it’s for the kids’ college fund”, even though the kids are as dumb as a bag of hammers and have no hope of attending college unless it is in a custodial capacity. He is actually saying, “Get off my back!” To which she says, “If you say so” at the same time rolling her eyes. This is “woman-speak” for “Jackass”. Don’t feel too bad if you didn’t know this as it has taken me two marriages and seven decades to decipher “woman-speak” and I still get it wrong most of the time. On the other hand it seems that womankind is born with the ability to recognize male smokescreens for what they are.
By this I am saying that any reason for collecting has the potential for truthfulness or at the least the answer to the question is believed by the person delivering the response. I think it is a given that at times we all tend to give answers to questions from others in the form of what we believe they want to hear. “Oh, sorry officer, I didn’t see that stop sign”, certainly comes to mind. In truth I saw the stop sign and I am anything but sorry yet I will not hesitate to insult your intelligence with this lame excuse.
Other answers such as having a keen interest in history, or an urge to preserve history, a way to honour those who serve, a great need to research and investigate are all possible valid and truthful answers. While I don’t usually buy into these statements they are still better than, “Because I am a latent psychopathic homicidal maniac”. Though that might be a quite humorous response in certain venues, not involving an official police investigation in the sudden disappearance of your business partner. The answer to the question as to why someone collects that I find hardest to accept with any degree of validity is as an investment. True some may have found that magic formula to turn “war junk” into gold, however it smacks of alchemy to my ears. Over all it is a very poor investment considering the return on your money over even a lengthy amount of time and certainly if you need to get your hands on the cash quickly...see how fast the dealer/sharks start to circle. Even the ridiculous idea of 50% on the dollar or pound would be a terrible return on investment; let alone the 20% or lower most dealers are willing to offer. Either way it’s a loss.
So what is the answer to the question of why we collect, barring any of the usual fantasy answers that may actually be true in a few cases? I think the best and shortest answer in almost any case is, “I like collecting and it makes me happy”. At the end of the day isn’t that what should really matter?
Happy New Year Everyone.
It’s that time of the year when being a cynic and more than slightly sarcastic becomes just too easy. With the in mind I decided that I would leave the stating of the obvious hypocrisies of the season to younger cynics just starting out in their careers and make this blog more of a public service to the members.
It seems that all the yearlong we answer question after question solving problem after problem as they arise then that annual question that seems to have no answer is thrown at us. “What do you want for Christmas?” The mind goes blank and all that we seems able to offer in the way of response is, “Oh, I don’t know, don’t worry about it; I’ve got everything I need.” Well, my friend, if you have everything you need you just aren’t trying had enough. I think books are one of the best gifts one can receive, if not books themselves then a gift card from a book store. With this in mind I would like to suggest four books that I believe to be most useful for the collector and history buff. I have not included prices as they fluctuate greatly from country to country and a search of the Internet will fill in any details I have forgotten.
The first two are for those interested in swords.
The British Cavalry Sword 1788 – 1912, Some New Perspectives, by Richard Dellar Is perhaps the best book on the market today that specializes in the British Cavalry Sword. This is one of the newer books available and at 326 pages and with lots of photos it is a wealth of information on the British Cavalry Sword. I spend a good deal of time researching British swords and cavalry swords in particular and would not want to be without this book in my library; to call it the definitive work on the subject would be a gross understatement. I have recently been in contact with Mr. Dellar and he informs me that a companion volume to this book will be ready for sale in the early part of 2019. If interested in this book you can email the author directly at http://thebritishcavalrysword.com. You will not regret this purchase and I dare say the companion volume as well when it hits the market.
British Military Swords, 1786 – 1912, the Regulation Patterns, by Harvey J. S. Withers is a very good resource for the identification and study of British swords in general. The 176 page book is crammed with photos of each sword and the details of those weapons in full colour and covers all British swords including cavalry, infantry and department swords. This is perhaps the best book for any collector and especially for those who want a general and quick reference. I find myself thumbing through this book over and over when I start to research a new sword for the collection. The author also includes a price guide but I would caution the reader in using this guide for anything except museum quality specimens. The swords you will encounter at shows or on websites are worth well below the figures stated. I would whole heartedly recommend this book to any collector at any level of sword collecting or for those who occasionally encounter a British sword and would like a quick reference book.
The next two books, both by D. A. Kinsley, deal with British history and may easily be found for sale on the Internet.
Swordsmen of the British Empire, by D. A. Kinsley is a collection of letters and memoirs of British officers, soldiers troopers and naval personal from time periods dating from before the Indian sepoy mutiny to the Boer War. These are personal accounts of swordsmen who were there and in the thick of battle. The 630 page book, with the last 230 containing period artwork of battles is one you will find hard to put down. Mr. Kinsley’s narrative between the sections only serves to heighten ones interest and adds greatly to this fascinating volume. I would call this book an eye opener as to the effect of the sword in battle, a subject all but lost to the modern student of British conflicts.
They Fight Like Devils, Stories From Lucknow During the great Indian Mutiny, 1857 – 58, by D. A. Kinsley is again a collection of letters and firsthand accounts of the taking of Lucknow from the hands of the mutineers. At 224 pages it is another book that is hard to put down once you start reading. Since these two books are firsthand accounts of the ferocity of the fighting, on both sides, there is no exaggeration through literary licence. Some of the actions are covered by two or even three different writers giving the most accurate portrayal of the fighting during this horrific struggle. This is a very easy read and like the other book noted above the narrative written by Mr. Kinsley acts to set up the next section very well and makes for a smooth almost story-like book.
If you are interested in any of these books but have further questions please feel free to send me a PM and I will try to answer them as best as I can.
It has been a week since Remembrance Day and I still see people wearing their poppy, the symbol of remembrance, on their jackets, coats, hats and even toques. The poppy is to be worn from November 1st until 11:00 o’clock November 11th at which time it is to be left at the cenotaph or at least removed from your apparel. To be without a poppy from Nov. 1 to Nov. 11, for me, would be the same as being out of uniform for a service person. Of course no RSM will ream you out and I’m not allowed to do so, such is the pity of that, still there is a protocol that should be followed. One could use the excuse that you honour the fallen or those who served and are still serving all year long and that is why you are wearing the poppy long after the 11th. To that I will call “BS”. If you mean to say that every morning that you get out of bed, or not, you remember those who served then, unless yours is a recent loss of a loved one, you really need to get a life. Seeing a poppy worn weeks or months after Remembrance Day, at times even on the right lapel of a coat, makes me think that person is either the laziest person around or just completely insensitive. Following protocol honours those who served and serve as much as actually wearing the flower in the first place. I’ve seen some old farmers wearing the poppy on the side of what can only be called their “barn hat” due to the layers of filth that has accumulated there over the years. The red poppy is no longer even a shade of true red, more of a reddish brown. Oh, that certainly honours the service people; perhaps you could have some poppy patterned facial tissues or bathroom tissues made up so you can honour them all the day long, everywhere you go. True, I may have crossed the line with that last sentence however in my mind no more than continuing to wear a symbol of remembrance at the incorrect time of the year. I often wonder if extended wearing of the poppy is more a matter of a display sanctimonious self-rightness than one of respect; “Oh look at me aren’t I the pious one”.
In my time I have known veterans from the Boer War, WWI, WWII and the Korean War and I never got the impression from any of them that they expected or wanted to be made a fuss over all year long. Ass kissing was never an agenda of theirs and never expected from others. Each year my wife and I attend the local cenotaph for the Remembrance Day ceremonies, even though neither of us still lives in our respective home towns. After the ceremony we leave our poppies on the cenotaph, returning home, usually in complete silence, deeply moved by the reverence shown by our fellow attendees and the thoughts of the sacrifice made by others, and perhaps magnified by the lone piper playing Amazing Grace.
In closing, if this blog has hit a nerve, made you angry, made you think or just made me look like the pompous ass that I am, and then it was purpose served. I will not apologise for your failure to follow protocol and will sign off with this note; Get With the Program People!
Hello and welcome to my blog which may start out insulting some and to that I will apologize in advance as insult is not my intention; a serendipitous plus perhaps...
Four years ago (2014) the Chairman suggested that starting with August and continuing to Nov. 11, 2018 might be an excellent time to run articles and content dealing with the First World War. From what I can see there has been little effort in that area, though I will admit to two factors. First that I was away for some time fighting an ongoing medical “condition” that has, happily for me, gone into remission. Secondly, my main interest rests with the Victorian Period and just prior, that is to say from George III to the end of the Boer War in 1902. So my WWI material, other than medals, is limited. I offer this glimpse into “The Life of Brian”, the non-movie version, to suggest that perhaps there was a lot more WWI content during the past four years than I was aware. If you could have written more but just didn’t and cannot offer an acceptable excuse, such as I have, to cover your laziness, then think again. If I can dig up an alibi then so can you, you’re just not trying hard enough.
Seriously, as that last statement was purely in jest, I have an artefact in my collection that I have been waiting patiently for the past four year to post. If I may digress for a moment I need to explain something else, an admission, to some small degree, of my compulsive obsessions, and that is the criteria I like to apply to as many collectables as possible. I like to collect firearms that have a manufactured date that commemorates an historical even. As an example of my criteria, I have a British percussion pistol dated 1842. During the retreat from Kabul in 1842 there occurred the Battle of Gandamak in which most of the British defenders of the position were killed. There is a famous painting showing an officer with the same pattern pistol. While the pistol in my collection was never used at that battle, or not likely any battle for that matter, it still has a date that commemorates the events as well as being an example of the type of pistol used during that time.
The specimen I have so long wanted to post is a Short Magazine Lee Enfield (SMLE) Mk.III* date marked 1918. The specimen certainly has the “look” of war-time use and the date made me decide to make the purchase, nearly ten years ago. I could have purchased a better condition SMLE, that is certain, but I purchased this rifle for the significant date of 1918. Since the purchase, and just prior to 2014, I read an article that stated that many of the rifles that were in the trenches at the moment of the Armistice on Nov. 11, 1918 were marked with the letter V by the soldiers who were present. I recalled what appeared to be an “odd” damaged area on the stock of my SMLE example and when I looked at it again, this time more closely, there was the letter V clearly carved into the stock. It looks to have been done a long time ago, though one can never prove it and the whole story of the carved V nothing more than urban legend, still there it is on my example.
Provenance is a strange beast. Many offer word of mouth provenance and expect that to stand, others doubt even the most detailed documentation. The “experts” are only giving what should be an educated opinion and even if they document their opinion it boils down to just that, an opinion. I have no provenance to say that the V is original to the trenches on Nov. 11, 1918. I will say that there was no “story” to this rifle offered by the seller, like me I do not think he had even heard of the story. Bottom line is that I never, and I repeat, never pay a dime more for a “story” and of course neither should you.
So where does this leave us? On November 11, 2018 I will pick up this rifle and think of that soldier who may very well have held this firearm in his hands, in the trenches, at the very moment the Great War ended. Is “it”, did “he”? No one can tell for a certainty but what I can tell you, for me, is that it brings to life the struggle, suffering, terror and loss of comrades that lesser men such as this humble scribe cannot even begin to fully appreciate. What was going through the mind of our hero as he sat in his trench, still half doubting that the war was finally over, with this rifle across his knees as he carved the V into the stock? That degree of relief and the pent up emotions must have been truly over-whelming.
Let us all lift glasses to those who served, those who fell and those who still serve and give a moment’s reverent thought to them all.
Yes, yes I am an Expert!
Or, Experts and other random things I rant about.
For years I have ranted and railed against the proliferation of so-called “experts”, especially on the internet; these people who seem to hold onto the idea that if they write something then that which they have written suddenly holds validation as the truth. I am reminded of the old movies where the Pharaoh announces to the scribes and others in attendance, “As it is written so shall it be”. Well, it may indeed “be” such as a law but that is not necessarily true about every “so shall it be”. Writing that all pyramids from this day forward shall be built with the point down will not make it so. Besides if that were possible think of the impact it would have today on Ponzi schemes.
A few weeks ago we had house guests for a week in the form of my wife’s brother and his wife. My brother-in-law is not the stereotypical brother-in-law featured in comedic performances but rather a highly educated man and to call him an extremely successful business man would be a great understatement. He related that he was once told that the definition of an expert was someone who has read one chapter ahead of you in the instruction manual. He is an engineer so “instruction manual” suits him; my point of reference would have been “history book”. But, you say potato and I say, “ Solanum tuberosum”. Put the cell phone down, no need to verify that botanical name, I already looked it up. Yes, this time I cheated.
This whole “what is an expert” thing got me to thinking. My brother-in-law is correct, an expert is not necessarily someone who knows everything about a subject, but simply is required to know more than you. Did we really think that our math teacher in High School could calculate the mass of Epsilon bootis (it’s a binary star system)? Personally, the teacher who comes to mind had a bad habit of counting the number of weeks with his thumb on the fingers of the same hand to determine when the school year would end and “this insanity would stop”. It was just a habit, one I have been guilty of from time to time, and I am sure it was an un-necessary exercise...or was it? By the way, go ahead and fact check Epsilon bootis on Google I was just “winging” that one; though I think it is correct. Besides it was an astrological joke as the teacher I am thinking of would have had to use the fingers on both hands (binary system, get it; yah, you got it).
Speaking, or more accurately writing, about fact checking though the use of Google on the cell phone, there was a time when students would attend a play bringing with them a copy of the piece and check to see if the actors knew their lines perfectly. A number of years ago my wife and I were attending a Shakespearian play in Stratford, Ontario. The play was the Tempest and stared William Hutt as Prospero in what was to be his final appearance on stage. The front row was filled with High School students all armed with their copies of the Tempest ready to “fact check” the actors’ ability to deliver their lines to the text book’s exacting standards. Ah, the school system, what better way to enrich these pudding headed accidents of failed birth control than to have them follow the performance word by word in a text book. I suppose it was appropriate as in their future employment they would then be equipped to pose the question, “To flip the burger or not to flip the burger; that is the question”. I will pose this question regarding the education system. When a student excels we credit their teachers, however, when a student performs poorly in school where should we lay the blame? Of course, with a malfunctioning condom!
Back to the play, as the play is the thing. Mr. Hutt was the first actor to insist that he perform using the English language commonly spoken by Canadians.
It was most amusing to see the students flipping pages back and forth looking for the lines spoken by Mr. Hutt. Don’t worry little ones that beeping in the back of your head, indicating that the fries are done, is simply your future calling you.
Before you comment on my gibes at the burger joints I was there both on the grill and the front row at Stratford trying to follow along with the play Midsummer Night’s Dream. Man, what was Bill Shakespeare on when he wrote that play; he must have been smoking some pretty righteous weed.
To close this series of rants I will reaffirm that I am indeed an expert, as long as you don’t read ahead of me in the manual. Expertise is such a fleeting and very subjective state.
By the way, did you catch my intentional error? I used “astrological” in
place of “astronomical”. One is the study of the planets and stars; the other is right up there with the study of sugar plum fairies and unicorns pooping marshmallows.
In keeping with today’s political correctness and a check of the forum’s rules I realized that astronomy may in fact be held by some to the degree of a religion. With that in mind I apologize if anyone was offended by my comments. Also I am led to believe that if you consider yourself a “sugar plum fairy” that it is an acceptable life style choice and again I apologize for any offence I may have unintentionally given. It’s an age thing and I must admit to having not kept up with today’s trends. I would ask that anyone, sugar plum fairy or otherwise, please carry an empty marshmallow bag and clean up after your unicorn, their droppings tend to gum up my lawnmower.
As to unicorns, I have nothing against them in the wild or domesticated, just clean up after your tame ones. See photos below for clarification.
All of My Heroes Are Dead
All of my heroes are dead and I have, for the most part, killed them.
I’ve never been one to hero worship sports figures, those over paid adolescent jocks who actually think their political, environmental and economic opinions matter. I find it strange that someone who hits a small ball with a baseball stick sending it over a fence then running around a diamond shape track stepping on pillows laying in the dirt is paid more than someone who will possibly be saving your life after a heart attack, a police officer or firefighter who protects you, your loved ones and your stuff or takes up arms to defend your way of life. I’ve seen the advertisements for the Fifa world cup which involves grown men again running around a field this time kicking a small white basketball and trying to get it into an extra large hockey net without using their hands. The ball catcher/stopper fellow never seems to stop the ball, as far as I see in the commercials, and makes a futile dive in the relative direction of the ball, missing it by yards (or meters). Then the fellow who kicked the ball last is mobbed by his team mates in jubilation. What’s with that! The net is the size of a school bus, how could you possibly miss? At least in the game of ice hockey the net minder is almost as wide as the target net. Often the net minder will fall on top of the hard rubber disk thing, which substitutes for a ball, to stop a score from being recorded against him. Then the other team members who are close by will poke the goal tender with their curved bladed hockey spears until the referee, dressed in a zebra-like black and white striped shirt blows his whistle. This is a signal that it is time for fisticuffs between the two teams. Sometimes the extra players the teams have brought along are allowed to leap over the fence, behind which they were sitting, onto the ice and join in the melee. After this some of the team members from both sides are given a “time out” and must sit on a wooden bench with the fellows they brought along to watch the game while their little friends get to continue playing. It’s all very confusing. These are great games for children but for adults, who often throw tantrums much like spoiled brats, it seems ludicrous to me.
I have stated that all of my heroes are dead, true enough, but I didn’t actually kill them (figuratively) myself; the culprit was the truth. The other factor, for the most part, is that my interest lies with the Victorian era or more precisely starting with the Napoleonic Wars (pre Victorian) until the end of the Boer War (post Victorian). Therefore, of course my heroes are all truly dead in that sense.
It is not always the truth that “kills” heroes, or more accurately hero worship of historical figures. A WWI Canadian hero, for me growing up, had always been Billy Bishop, the WWI leading flying ace. A number of years ago there was a book written offering the mostly unfounded theory that he could not have actually shot down the number of enemy planes that he had claimed. It was pointed out by some that it was ironic that a German had authored the book discrediting an allied pilot. I have always thought it was ironic that a country that prides itself on its diversity would point out the nationality of the author. All of this prompted the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa to erect a notice with the Billy Bishop display pointing out that resent critics had doubted these accomplishments. Well done War Museum! As Canadians we seldom crap on our heroes but let someone else do it and we’ll be happy to take a stand were we don’t have to actually take a stand. We are positively and absolutely in support of taking a stand against taking a stand, unless that makes us look like we are taking a stand; then no comment. Or, “We’re totally against taking a stand against taking a stand, unless you are not upset, then we will strongly take a stand against not taking a stand”. Please fill out the questionnaire below and we will attempt to come to a consensus, as our opinions may change without prior notification. Thank you for your understanding, unless you don’t understand then we apologize for taking up your time. Have a good day, please call again.
Then again if there are enough people who don’t like what the Canadian War Museum has to say with their displays, such as the bombing of civilian targets during WWII because it up sets the War Vets then they change it. To Hell with the truth if it means taking a stand and we’ll be quite clear in not taking a stand, because we are not for or against it. Facts are the facts and war is war, I would think the museum would have figured that out by now even if the public, desperate for heroes, wants to reject the truth.
Your dad (and mine) didn’t go out to kill civilians! Here’s a shocking statement, neither did the German Airmen, in the beginning before Hitler decided to “punish” the British for bombing Berlin (arguments welcomed). There was no such thing as pin point bombing or taking out a target with surgical precision. You simply bombed the general area and trusted in a higher power to guide the explosives to the intended target.
Heroes from the past seldom stand up to the scrutiny of time, the truth that was so carefully hidden suddenly shows these men for what they were; in most cases, human. The Duke of Wellington, Wolsey and Kitchener, all heroes of their day, or as a book I was just reading put it “Heroes in a time of heroes”, have had their darker sides. If we are to follow the Latin advice De mortuis nil nisi bonum (Of the dead, [say] nothing but good), we sacrifice the truth. If we are going to seek the truth then we must be prepared to live with what we find, no matter how distasteful. My heroes are still my heroes but now I see them as ordinary men doing extraordinary things that I would find personally impossible to accomplish.
So let us lift a glass to the average man, among his kind have walked giants.
Not too long ago I was attending a Gun Show in our area and had just completed a negotiation for the purchase of a Pattern 1908 British Cavalry Sabre. The guard had “possibly” been repainted green in the same shade as the WWI models, though I see no indication that this is not the original paint job; some of these were green and some a khaki colour. The seller stated that it had been issued to the Fort Gary Horse (Canadian) which to his mind warranted a slightly higher price than one might normally expect. This example, I did agree, commanded a higher value but not for the reason he presented as the guard was stamped R.H.G. (Royal Horse Guard). As a shameless fan-boy of Victorian era military, anything marked to the Horse Guard is prized. “Hold on there sunshine”, you may be thinking, “haven’t you forgotten the dates of Victoria’s rein (1837-1901) or missed the fact that the sabre is a Pattern 1908?” The Pattern 1908 was in fact accepted into service by King Edward VII (1901 –1910), rather reluctantly according to some sources as he considered it a very ugly pattern compared to those patterns that came before. I considered this specimen a real treasure and therefore was prepared to pay a bit of a premium. For a change the lack of attention to detail was not mine and I came home with a treasure, in my opinion. Granted I could have pointed out that the stampings did not support his original claim with the intentions of negotiating a lower price, however, since he felt the sword commanded a premium price and I agreed, albeit for a different reason, therefore I feel no remorse at withholding the information. A case where Caveat emptor was somewhat reversed; Caveat venditor perhaps?
The Household Cavalry and I believe Royal Horse Guards still use their Pattern 1892 Mk.II for ceremonial purposes, however during the WWI period they were issued the Pattern 1908 while on active service.
By way of some explanation as to why, if I am so inclined to collect Victorian era black powder military firearms and swords, have I added the Pattern 1908 Cavalry troopers sabre and the Pattern 1912 Officer’s Cavalry sabre to the collection? My collection theme, and I do have one, (a method to my madness if you will), is that I like my collection to tell a story and yet not necessarily including every Pattern of sword or Mark and Number of every musket ever made. Therefore the Pattern 1908 and 1912 is the final chapter in the story of British Cavalry sabres. Also, I do collect in the “other direction” so the collection also has examples of weapons from George III, George IV, William IV as well as Victoria, a range from 1760 to 1901 or 1912 in the case of the last cavalry (Officer’s) pattern.
I find it interesting that the Patterns still in use today by Officers, though for ceremonial purposes only, end with the Victorian Patterns. One exception that I am aware of is the use of the Pattern 1908 by Canada’s R.C.M.P. in their world famous Musical Ride. Now, finding one marked to the R.C.M.P. would be a banner day indeed.
After I had secured the sword I slipped it into what is called a “rifle or gun sock” for transport around the balance of the show. My reasons for this, other than treating the sword with respect and protecting it from any damage while it is in my care, is the unwanted banter that often comes from the vendors. If you carry around a firearm or sword, for that matter, every other dealer is shouting out at you asking if “it” is for sale. I find it rather annoying though I understand their reasons. Sword collectors immediately recognize the shape in the rifle sock and some will ask if they can see what you have. Naturally one would never decline to show off a new prize and the resulting conversation that follows. Eventually I came to a table of a long time acquaintance of mine who is also a fellow sword collector. He is a collector of ancient Japanese weapons and armour, the real thing not the WWII NCO and Officer’s katanas or the cheap scrap metal reproductions out of China. I showed him my latest purchase and he said, upon handling it, that it was a really poor sword and felt awkward in the hand and he thought it would also be a poor sword for fencing. It should be explained that this is common between us, his running down of British military swords and me asking once in a while, when no one else can hear, if a certain blade on his table came out of China recently. I would agree with his tongue-in-cheek assessment that the 1908 Cavalry Sabre feels much different in the hand than a Japanese katana, and he was as usual joking, as I have a couple of Japanese swords in the collection dating from the early 1650s. I also agree that the 1908 would make a terrible fencing sword based on the fact that in my younger days I belonged to a fencing club, using the epee for the most part. Then he hit upon the obvious that the 1908 had no true (sharp) edge and was “too dull to even cut butter”, I have not experimented but I assure you the butter remark was a little over the top. My friend knows his swords so his comments only elicited a laugh from me as I knew he was kidding. The downside is that he now has one up on me!
This has led me to thinking about the current trend on television to run programs comparing different weapons systems and warriors throughout history. Comparing a ninja to a fifteenth century fully armoured knight for example. Who would win? First off there is no such thing nor never has been a ninja outside the realm of fiction and fantasy, so let’s call our imaginary friend a samurai. They were both in more or less the same time periods but the warfare they engaged in was completely different calling for different tactics and equipment. Also the samurai portrayed in these silly “competitions” is almost always indicative of the warriors of the 1650’s period and probably should at least be the fully armoured samurai of the 1500’s. Total nonsense! No different than comparing the Japanese katana of the 1650’s, of which I have two examples in my collection, to the Pattern 1908 British cavalry troopers sabre. Katanas are cutting, or slashing, weapons and the 1908 is a “thrust centric” sword, not even a true sabre; it’s actually more of an estoc. True you can thrust with the katana but just looking at it tells you that the principal use is as a cutter. You’ve probably seen samurai movies where the hero has just polished off 1,714 of the opposition’s samurai then flips his sword under his arm and stabs another opponent who is coming up behind him. Nice move for the camera but not one that would be very useful on the battle field. To make my point, the distance from the body of the samurai to the point of strike (about 4 inches from the tip) on the blade is 42 inches. The point of fatal contact with the enemy approaching from behind is 10 inches taking into account a needed four inches of penetration for a kill. Why would the enemy not simply strike his opponent, who is facing away from him, using a cut at 42 inches away instead of coming within the 14 inch strike range of his adversary? If you stand 14 inches away from your opponent it is almost impossible to make a power cut or even “give point” (thrust, or stab). You may simply say, “There he goes again, making unsupported claims”. Surprisingly enough, while I may blend a couple of stories together to make one better tale every now and then, I never make unsupported claims. Today was a very nice day so I went out into the back yard with my wooden practice katana (officially called a “bokken”) and my tape measure and carried out some experiments. The neighbours are used seeing to my so-called experiments in archeology. Some neighbours tend to describe me as eccentric, for some reason. There are probably less polite terms used when speaking to each other about their neighbour, I am sure.
If we now look at the 1908 cavalry sword and read the history behind it we find that it was designed as a thrusting weapon only and only while on horseback. It was to take the place of the lance for the most part. It is not a fencing epee or a slashing weapon, this I assure you as I have studied and participated in both European and Japanese styles of fencing.
In conclusion there is no comparison, not because one is superior to the other but simply because you can’t compare the two; they are totally different “animals”, different time periods and using different tactics.
I apologize that I have not included photographs this time. I am not set up for photographing larger items and had a lot of trouble when I tried to insert Photoshop reduced backgrounds (canvas).
To the Point, Part 1
British Edged Weapons Problems.
Yet another function where my attendance is somehow mandatory, seated at a round table with barely room for five couples none of whom I know; if I did get to know them I am confident I would not like their company. Men in suits that look like they originally belonged to their fathers with dress shirts that are so small that the top button can only dream of ever being reunited with its intended closure. A failed attempt to hide up the fact that the shirt is far too small made by disguising the open space with the large King Edward’s knot reminding one of a convicted felon, neck in the noose, awaiting the final drop to oblivion. Then there is the inane conversation. The ladies content to swap stories of grandchildren and the men struggling to find a mutually respected sports team. My wife has cautioned me on several occasions about my conduct and what I should and should not say or discuss among those of whom I am unfamiliar. To the question as to whether I follow or have an interest in a certain sports team I now simply say “no”. Apparently this is preferable, according to my spouse, to replying with, “not in the least”, to the sports question. Personally I can tolerate those with single faceted, career related, interests at least they can be interesting and there is a slight chance that one can actually learn something new, making the sacrifice of my time, a finite commodity, somewhat worth the expenditure. I like to hope that at least a couple of these posturing male gorillas attempting to establish themselves to be the alpha silver back has enough intellect to avoid metaphorically throwing their own feces and even accidently offering up a topic of interest; but sadly, no. It’s not that there are no topics that I could be engaged in to discuss, even debate. Of course history, but also science and the feared taboo topics of politics and religion, both of which I am quite capable of carrying on a civilized, or a more heated, conversation.
Finally there is an oasis in the midst of this sea of banality, the “seven minute lull”. It has been said that during any conversation, I suspect even more so during trivial banter, there will be a lull in the conversation every seven minutes or so. It is times like these that I find myself wishing there was a terrorist waiting in the lobby ready to rush in, encased with explosives, screaming some ridiculous babble, intent on ending our existence. Oh, would it were so. I assure you that I would run up to this fanatic, hugging him, pulling the detonator pin myself; but, again, sadly no. Just prior to the so-called lull and my wish for escape, any escape, someone said, “The problem with today’s society is social media”. Eureka, the topic for this month’s blog suddenly came to me. No, no, not today’s social media as my “world” is the mid to late 19th century; it is the media of the Victorian times and in particular the “fake news” (yes, I know the modern reference) as it pertained to the British military swords and bayonets of the day. Oh, yes, the topic of what is wrong with the world today quickly deteriorated into what was wrong with today’s youth. From what I see today’s youth is basically not a lot different from the youth “of my day”. I just may not have yet reached the age where I am convinced that I know what the problems of today are and especially how to solve them. Though I suppose some people are wise beyond their age; yep, sarcasm.
We are all exposed to today’s media, be it through the handheld devices, laptop, PC, or traditional media. It is apparent that some sources are very bias toward a certain political idealism or popular consensus but while we may think we “own” this phenomenon as it seems so relevant to our times it is nothing new. Reports back to the home front from military actions, for example, have been common place for centuries in the form of official war diaries and more “as it happened” journalism through war correspondents. In the mid to late nineteenth century war correspondents were often “in the thick of it” during battles such as the Zulu and Sudan campaigns. In the case of the Sudan campaign, the Battle of Abu Klea 16 January 1885, some of the war correspondents defended themselves during this vicious battle with their privately purchased revolvers. As a point of possible interest an ancestor of mine, Lieutenant Richard Wolfe, No. 4 Co., HCR/Scots Greys, lost his life defending the British square during this battle.
As I have stated above some of the news papers of the time were very quick to point fingers, as to blame military failures, on the political party in power, in particular the Prime Minister. It was found that some of the swords and bayonets failed to perform as needed during the fierce battles often resulting in the death of the British Officer or soldier. This resulted in what was called the 1885 Bayonet Scandal. Basic blame was placed on the poor quality of the swords and bayonets used by the troops. In the case of the Officers they purchased their own swords as opposed to the NCO and other ranks who were issued government supplied weapons. At the time many sword blades were made in Germany and then sold to sword makers in Britain who would then finish the sword and sell it to the government for issue to the NCOs and other ranks, then swords for the Officer class were sold to retailers for private purchase. Some of the tailors, or retailers, would even place “proof marks” on the ricasso as if the sword had passed testing and were therefore “battle ready” which many were not. The “scandal” resulted in the testing of swords and bayonets already in the hands of the military as well as those in stores. It was found that a large percentage of weapons failed the trials; in the case of the socket and sword bayonets for the Martini-Henry this involved both the bending and twisting tests.
One of the early excuses for the failure of bayonets in the field was the accusation that soldiers used their bayonets as pokers to keep camp fires blazing. This was a “smoke screen” used by authorities to hide the testing results and associated blame from the public. An article in The Times, 13, January 1885 discounts this quoting an army source as saying, “Any use of a bayonet as a poker would not likely pass inspection the following morning”. This served to discount the original accusation. While the contractors who produced the sub-standard bayonets were never officially named there were two factors uncovered by the investigation in the manufacturing process that caused the defects.
“Firstly, the bayonets were all subject to bending tests and, so that the contractor could get the bayonet passed, he left them unhardened. This was necessary because, if hardened, they would break under tests, as inferior steel was used in the manufacture. The second reason was that some contractors used casehardening so that when bayonets were manufactured they were ground, then hardened and were then passed on for final grinding. If the bayonet was not much oversize then the bayonet would probably be all right, but if it were too much oversize all of the casehardening would be ground off, leaving the soft metal.”
Source: “British Military Bayonets from 1700 to 1945” by R.J. Wilkinson Latham.
The Patterns involved in the scandal, the Pattern 1853 sword-bayonet and the Pattern 1876 socket bayonet, were replaced by the Pattern 1886 which brought to an end the problems experienced. Future sword and bayonet manufacture was dominated by the firms of Wilkinson and Mole and manufacturing of weapons from firms in Germany ceased.
In this blog we looked mainly at the British bayonet and the associated scandal, in next month’s submission (Part 2: Staying Sharp) we will discuss the earlier problems with the British Cavalry swords, in particular those used during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 (also known as the Sepoy Mutiny).
I Hate Moving!
It has taken a while but the Home Office has moved two doors down the hall and the vacated room is now converted over to a second collection room. My dear astute wife is starting to suspect a form of Lebensraum is taking place within our home. She has countered my resent move, generated by the need to expand my territorial claims, with a policy of her own which states that she will concede the space but this is the last time appeasement will be offered before some undisclosed action is taken. I have assured her that if this latest claim is granted then I will make no further territorial claims. Of course the agreement was written on a piece paper which she proudly waved to the family proclaiming that there was to be peace in our time. This is strangely starting to sound familiar.
Like the size of most collections mine has waxed and waned over the years yet continued to survive in one form or another to the point where the space is filled and a move was necessary. You will notice, as did my dear wife, that the option to sell off large sections of the collection never seemed to enter this equation. To be fair I have reduced the collections somewhat in the past couple of months, getting rid of a lot of “smalls” both military and non-military antiques. Naturally some of the items were used in trade for other collectables and the cash realized from the balance of the sold items was quickly rolled over into even more military collectables. My latest obsession is a renewal of an old passion for British military swords, specifically Victorian and older. So while at first it might have appeared that I was indeed reducing the size of my collection (my initial intention) as soon as the cash was in hand something took hold of my better judgement and more items were secured. The other factor that foiled my good intentions was that the items traded and sold were indeed “smalls” but the items I gained in their place were swords; so not so small.
Even though the move was not of any great distance there was the usual complaining from the staff here at The Home Office. The computer needed to be moved and hooked up and book cases relocated, new sword racks constructed and a lot of rearranging so that neither collection room looked too sparse, though the new room (former office) has ample space for a couple more years of collecting available. A large and very comfortable arm chair was “liberated” from the family room and after turning it on its side, with a lot of manipulation through the door way, found a new home. I doubt this chair will be reclaimed by the family as it was very difficult navigating it into the room, though it may end up costing me for a new chair to replace the vacant spot in the family room. Perhaps they won’t notice.
Since I seldom post photos of myself or the staff members here at The Home Office I decided to make an exception this time, especially for those who wonder if there really is a Home Office complete with staff. The photo below is of us and our move and a second photo thrown in just for fun shows a group of friends at a military show contemplating the purchase of a new addition to one of their collections. The fellow looking on from the right hand side of the photo seems to have done well, scoring some nice Swiss military equipment. Well done!
That’s all for now as I am going into the new room with a cup of coffee to relax in the arm chair and admire the new additions to the collection.
The Romanian 2nd Army's success at Marasti forced the Central Powers to revise their plans. The offensive planned in the Namoloasa area was abandoned and the bulk of the forces were moved in the Focsani area. The new offensive was going to be launched west of the Siret River, on the Focsani – Marasesti – Adjud direction, with the German 9th Army (general Johannes von Eben) and on the Oituz Valley with the Austro-Hungarian 1st Army (Archduke Joseph). The objective was to encircle and destroy the 2nd Army.
On the other side, the Romanian General Headquarters decided to cancel its attack in the Namoloasa area. The Russian 4th Army had to be pulled out from the front in southern Moldavia and moved north, where it could threaten the flank of the Austro-German forces advancing in Galicia. The Romanian 1st Army was going to replace the Russian troops departing the area.
For the offensive, the German 9th Army was strengthened with units brought from the French (the Alpine Corps, which arrived on 6 August) or Italian fronts. General von Eben decided to deliver the main blow with the German 1st Corps (6 divisions), while to its left the German 18th Reserve Corps (3 divisions) had to pin down the Entente troops opposite it. The right wing of the 9th Army was manned by the Ramnic Group (2 divisions). The reserve was made up of one German and one Austro-Hungarian divisions and the Alpine Corps, which arrived in the area during the first day of the battle. The German forces in the attack sector were 102 infantry battalions, 10 cavalry squadrons, 24 pioneer companies, 2 armored cars, 1,135 machine-guns, 356 mortars, 223 field guns and 122 heavy guns and howitzers.
Opposite the German 1st Corps was the Russian 4th Army, which had in contact with the enemy only two corps: on the right the 8th (3 divisions) and on the left the 7th (2 divisions). The reserve was made up of one infantry and one cavalry divisions. These totaled 84 infantry battalions, 52 cavalry squadrons, 280 field guns and 36 heavy guns. The bulk of the Romanian 1st Army was at Tecuci and was getting to cross the Siret River and replace the Russians.
The German 9th Army's offensive was preceded by a powerful artillery preparation, which began at 0430 hours on 6 August 1917. At 0730 hours the 1st Corps (general Kurt von Morgen) started the attack, with the 12th Bavarian, 76th and 89th Infantry Divisions in the first line and with another two divisions in the second echelon. The front defended by the Russian 13th and 34th Infantry Divisions was broken and 10 km breach was created. The Russians started a disorderly retreat east of the Siret River. At the request of the Russian command, general Constantin Christescu, CO of the 1st Army, ordered maj. general Eremia Grigorescu, CO of the Romanian 6th Corps, to intervene west of the Siret with the 5th Infantry Division and with the 9th Infantry Division to defend the river's eastern bank. The 32nd Dorobanti Regiment Mircea and the 8th Dorobanti Regiment Buzau counterattacked and stopped the Central Powers offensive on the line Moara Alba – Doaga – Furceni.
Seeing that the chances to force the crossing over the river are minimal, in the morning of 7 August, the German command redirected the offensive to the north, with four divisions. The effort was concentrated against the Romanian 5th Infantry Division, but the assault was repulsed. However, a bulge was created at the junction with the Russian troops, but the situation was saved by the counterattack of two battalions from the division's reserve. At noon, after a short artillery preparation, the enemy renewed the attack enjoying a 3 to 1 numerical superiority. The 3rd Vanatori Regiment held out in the Doaga village against an entire German division. The same thing happened in the sector of the 32nd Dorobanti Regiment Mircea. The soldiers in this unit made several bayonet charges only in their shirts, because of the suffocating heat, managing to push back the Germans to their positions. In the evening, the 1st Corps attacked and broke through the front of the Russian division on the right flank of the Romanian 5th Division. Threatened with the encirclement, the 32nd Regiment retreated to the Cosmesti Bridge. To fill the gap created, the Romanian 9th Infantry Division was introduced west of the Siret River. It was continuously attacked. In the evening of 7 August, under the cover of darkness, a German group approached and assaulted the 9th Division's flank, engaging into hand-to-hand fights. The Romanians abandoned Doaga and retreated to the outskirts of the Prisaca Forest, where a new defensive line was established. That day the 5th Division lost 44 officers and 1,770 soldiers (dead, wounded and missing). The front moved back 2-3 km.
On 8 August, general von Eben changed the attack sector to the west, on the front held by Russian units. In the evening, during the second assault, they were forced to retreat. A Russian regiment was almost completely destroyed. The Romanian front was bombarded and the attack on the 5th and 9th Infantry Divisions resumed the following day. On 9 August 1917, the German effort was increased. The assault started at 1900 hours, after a powerful artillery preparation, which caused many casualties to the 9th Division. Its troops were only able to dig foxholes, because the ground was very dry and hard to dig. The Germans again took heavy casualties because of the Romanian and Russian artillery situated on the eastern bank of the Siret River, which was firing directing into the attackers' flank. However, the first line of the Romanian defense was pierced in several spots, but reserves intervened and repulsed them after some very violent fighting. The 34th Regiment, which faced the 12th Bavarian Division, held out against three consecutive assaults. Only the 2nd Battalion, under the command of Major Gheorghe Mihail, the future Chief of the General Staff in 1940 and 1944, remained in the first line. It counterattacked and captured 62 prisoners and two machine-guns. The unit's battle flag was decorated later with Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class. The same award was bestowed upon the regiment's CO, colonel Virgiliu Dumbrava, as well the 2nd Battalion's CO. But the casualties were heavy: 35 officers and 1,551 soldiers. The 36th Regiment lost 36 officers and 954 soldiers. Also, the 7th and 32nd Dorobanti Regiments suffered many casualties. During the night, at 0200 hours, another assault took place and the Germans managed to push back for several hundred meters the 9th Division and the right wing of the 5th Division. The neighboring Russian division was also forced to retreat, but the Russian 4th Army counterattacked and captured 2,500 prisoners and recovered the lost ground.
The last failures had weakened the German 9th Army. Thus, general von Eben strengthened the 1st Corps with a new division and the 18th Reserve Corps with the Alpine Corps.
On 10 August, it was the Entente's turn to attack. General Christescu and general Ragoza, the CO of the Russian 4th Army, decided to strike each with a corps of two divisions the bulge in the German line. During the morning, the 9th Army attacked the Russian sector, but gained little ground. At 1700 hours, the allied infantry started the assault, after a long artillery preparation. The 9th Infantry Division took the first German trenches, but because of the losses it had to abandon them. Reinforced with a regiment form the Romanian 13th Infantry Division, it resumed the attack, but again without success. The 5th Infantry Division and a regiment of the 14th Infantry Division managed to get inside the German positions, but could keep them. The 8th Dorobanti and 3rd Vanatori Regiments managed to enter the Doaga village, but were repulsed. The situation was similar in the sector of the Russian 4th Army. However the offensive had reduced the combat potential of the German 76th, 89th and 115th Infantry Divisions, which had suffered the brunt of the assault. These were already exhausted after several days of failed attacks. The report of general von Eben to the Army Group CO, marshal von Mackensen, mentions the fact that the 216th Infantry Division had suffered many casualties because of the flank bombardment of the Romanian artillery yon the eastern bank of the Siret.
For the following day, general Christescu imposed a limited objective to the 6th Corps: the Doaga – Susita Valley. The Russian 4th Army had decided to remain on the defensive. The Germans attacked in its sector at 1600 hours, after a three hour artillery preparation, and again forced the Russian troops to retreat. At 1630 hours, the Romanian 9th Infantry Division began the assault without knowing the situation in the neighboring sector. After the Russian retreat the flank was exposed. The division's CO sent a battalion to extend the line. The Germans were advancing on Marasesti and the situation became extremely dangerous for the Entente. The 9th VanatoriRegiment, which was in the division's reserve, was quickly brought in and set up positions in the factory north of the town. It managed to stop the German troops that were threatening to encircle the 9th Infantry Division. For this action, lt. col. Gheorghe Rasoviceanu, the regiment's CO, was awarded the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class. A regiment of the 13th Infantry Division, from the 6th Crops' reserve, established the link with the Russians. The 5th Infantry Division attacked in the Doaga area, but the 7th and 8th Dorobanti Regiments failed to enter the village. The same day, maj. general Eremia Grigorescu was named at the command of the 1st Army.
Noticing that the troops of the German 1st Corps were exhausted, general von Eben decided to assign the main strike to the 18th Reserve Corps of maj. gen. Kurt von Wenniger, which had suffered fewer losses and was less tired. Thus, on 12 August, the 9th German Army attacked with small forces the 5th Infantry Division, in order to pin it down, and concentrated its forces against the Russian 4th Army, taking Panciu. Following this failure, general Ragoza wanted to retreat the Russian-Romanian front north of Marasesti., but abandoned the idea at maj. gen. Eremia Grigorescu's pleas. Lt. gen. Constantin Prezan, the Chief of the General Staff, decided to replace the Russian 7th Corps with the Romanian 5th Corps (10th and 13th Infantry Divisions) and to put the Russian 8th Corps under the command of the Romanian 1st Army. The staff of the Russian 4th Army was retreated to Bacau from where it was reassigned to another front.
On 13 August, the 18th Reserve Corps attacked the Russian troops north of Panciu, but failed to make any breakthrough. The following day, general von Eben ordered the 1st Corps to eliminate the Romanian bulge in the area of the Prisaca Forest and take the bridge over the Siret River at Cozmesti. In the same time, the 18th Reserve Corps had to attack on the Zabraut Valley. After powerful artillery preparation commenced the assault on the Russian 8th Corps' positions. Brig. gen. Henri Cihoski, CO of the 10th Infantry Division, sent the 10th Vanatori Regiment as help. It surprised the Alpine Corps and caused it important casualties, some in vicious hand-to-hand combat. The vanatori managed to take Hill 334, but were forced to retreat following a powerful artillery bombardment. The 38th Infantry Regiment Neagoe Basarab also intervened and its CO, col. Gheorghe Cornescu, received the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class for the counterattack that stopped the German offensive, which threatened to penetrate in the Susita Valley, behind the Romanian 2nd Army. The Russian 8th Corps was forced to pull back north of Iresti and Straoani.
The 5th Infantry Division, at the other end of the front, had been reduced to one third of its initial size during the last days of fighting. The positions in the Prisaca Forest were heavily bombarded by German artillery. At 1700 hours the assault began with two divisions and forced the Romanian troops to retreat. The division's reserves, as well as a regiment form the 14th Infantry Division, in the army's reserve, intervened and stopped the German advance north of the Prisaca Forest. The bridge at Cozmesti was blown up, as the Romanian engineers had built another two to the north. The exhausted 5th Infantry Division was pulled out of the first line.
On 15 August, the 18th Reserve Corps continued the offensive and managed to create a breach at the junction between the 10th Infantry Division and the Russian division to its right. The 10th Vanatori Regiment, supported by 10 Romanian and 3 Russian batteries, counterattacked and reestablished the situation. However, with its left wing, the 18th Corps took Muncel, forcing theRussians to pull back. Thus the link between the two Romanian armies was threatened. The 2ndArmy attacked with the "Colonel Alexiu" Detachment made up of 2 vanatori battalions, 2 infantry battalions and 3 artillery batteries, which, together with a Russian cavalry division, retook control of the village. The following day, the Germans occupiued half of Muncel, but were again forced to retreat after the assault of col. Alexandru Alexiu's men.
The days of 17 and 18 August were calm. The losses suffered by both sides, forced the commanders to reorganize their units. Maj. gen. Eremia Grigorescu replaced the 14th Infantry Division, which was deployed east of the Siret River, with the 1st and 6th Rosiori Brigades and the hard pressed 5th Infantry Division with the 2nd Cavalry Division. The latter and the two brigades formed the Cavalry Corps. The 14th Infantry Division was moved on the northern bank of the Siret River in the Cozmestii de Vale area. Also, the army's heavy artillery was redeployed so that it could better cover the sector of the 5th Corps (10th, 13th and 9th Infantry Divisions). The 1st Army's reserve was made up of the 15th Infantry Division and of the 5th Infantry Division, under reorganization. On the other side, at the intervention of marshal von Mackensen, general von Eben grouped 7 infantry divisions under the command of the German 1st Corps and subordinated almost all the heavy artillery of the 9th Army to it. These forces totalized 55 battalions and 95 batteries.
On 19 August, the Germans resumed the offensive, attacking with the 1st Corps towards Marasesti and with 18th Reserve Corps on the Panciu-Muncel direction. The main effort was concentrated in the sector between Marasesti and the Razoare Forest, defended by the Romanian 9th and 13th Infantry Divisions, the latter being assaulted by three enemy divisions. The artillery preparation started at 0630 hours in the area of the trenches of the 47/72nd, 51/52nd and 50/64th Infantry Regiments, from the first line of the 13th Infantry Division, and at the western outskirts of Marasesti, where the 9th Vanatori Regiment of the 9th Infantry Division was located. It lasted for two hours and was the most violent artillery bombardment of the entire battle. At 0900 hours the first assaults small scale began and were easily repulsed. After 1100 hours a very powerful attack started. The main blow was delivered north of the Razoare Forest, at the junction of the 13th and 10th Infantry Divisions. The 10th Infantry Division was attacked by the 13th Austro-Hungarian Division, which failed to breakthrough the Romanian lines.
The 13th Infantry Division, commanded by brig. gen. Ioan Popescu, was the Romanian unit that saw the most action that day. It occupied a front 6 km wide, with the 47/72nd Infantry Regiment at the south-western edge of the Razoare Forest, the 50/64th Infantry Regiment in the Negroponte Vineyards and the 51/52nd Infantry Regiment in the middle. The reserve was made up of one battalion of the 50/64th Regiment and the 48/49th Regiment. 15 Romanian and 15 Russian batteries provided artillery support.
The attack started at 0900 hours. In the sector of the 47/72nd Infantry Regiment, the German assaults failed one after another. The 1st Battalion was situated on the left wing, south of the Razoare Forest. It was attacked by the 28th Bavarian Infantry Regiment (from the 12th Bavarian Division) and by units of the German 89th and 115th Divisions. The 2nd Battalion, on the right wing, was assaulted by the Austro-Hungarian 13th Infantry Division. The 3rd Battalion was kept in reserve. The regiment's CO, lt. col. Radu Rosetti, the former chief of the Operations Bureau of the General Staff in 1916, was wounded at a leg during the fighting. At the center, the 51/52nd Regiment was situated in an open position ands was also powerfully attacked. It had to pull back. The Germans tried to use the momentum and infiltrate behind the positions of the two regiments on the flanks of the Romanian 13th Infantry Division. The 3rd Battalion/47/72nd Infantry Regiment, under the command of maj. Draganescu counterattacked and stopped their advance. The reserves of the 51/52nd Regiment joined the fight directed by the unit's CO, lt. col. Ioan Cristofor, buying time for the reinforcements sent by the division to arrive. The 1st Machine-gun Company commanded by cpt. Grigore Ignat, stubbornly held its position, being almost totally destroyed. Its CO was posthumously awarded the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class. However, the Germans advanced towards Hill 100, behind which the allied artillery was situated. The 50/64th Regiment had to pull back its right wing, because of the enemy advance in the sector of the 51/52nd Regiment. Lt. col. Diamandi Genuneanu, the 50/64th Regiment's CO, organized the defense south of Hill 100 and managed to hold out against two Bavarian regiments for two hours.
General Popescu organized the counterattack against the German forces closing in on Hill 100. The 2 battalions in reserve, together with the 3rd Battalion/47/72nd Regiment and other units attacked from several different directions the German 115th Infantry Division, which had infiltrated between the Razoare Forest and the Negroponte Vineyards. The artillery of the 10th Infantry Division also intervened in the fighting at that moment, at the orders of the army's CO. The 1st Battalion/50/64th Regiment, commanded by cpt. Nicolae Miclescu, emerged from the Negroponte Vineyards and surprised the German infantry in the area and pushed it back to towards the Razoare Forest. Cpt. Miclescu was wounded during the action. He was later awarded the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class. The 3rd Battalion/47/72nd Infantry Regiment and the 2nd Battalion/48/49th Infantry Regiment joined the battle. The resistance at the edge of the Razoare Forest was broken following a violent bayonet charge. The Germans started a disorderly retreat. The entire 47/72nd Infantry Regiment started a counterattack, followed soon by the 39th Infantry Regiment (from 10th Infantry Division). The German troops retreated towards the Susita Valley, dragging along the units of the Austro-Hungarian 13th Division. The Romanians captured the first line of the enemy positions, but the advanced was stopped by maj. general Eremia Grigorescu, because von Eben had already started to deploy his reserves.
The 10th Division and, especially, the 13th Division had achieved a great victory. The commanders of the two divisions, as well as the commanders of the 47/72nd, 50/64th and 51/52nd Regiments were awarded the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class. Another 7 officers received this high distinction for the fighting on 19 August. The 39th Infantry Regiment Petru Rares captured 376 POWs and 7 machine-guns and advanced 500 m on a 4 km wide front. The 47/72nd Infantry Regiment took 209 POWs and 4 machine-guns. But the losses were high. The same regiment lost 880 men (99 killed, 300 wounded and 481 missing). The regiment's flag, as well as those of the other hard pressed units on 19 August were also decorated with the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class.
The same day, the Germans attacked the sector of the 9th Infantry Division, situated south of the 13th Division. It had been reduced to 4,500 men in the previous days of hard fighting. In the first line were the 9th Vanatori Regiment on the right wing and the 40th Infantry Regiment Calugareni on the left wing. After a powerful artillery preparation, two German infantry divisions started their attack. Following some heavy fighting in the ruins of the factory north of Marasesti, the 9th Vanatori Regiment was forced to fall back towards the city. The 40th Infantry Regiment also abandoned its first positions. The 9th Division reformed the front on the line south Negroponte Vineyards – Marasesti Railroad Station – south Marasesti, which it held against the enemy assaults, with the help of the artillery of the 14th Infantry Division from the eastern bank of the Siret River, firing directly in the German flank.
Because of the failure of its army to take the objectives on 19 August, general von Eben decided that the continuation of the offensive was no longer possible. A week of pause followed, which both sides used for reorganizing. The 9th Army again changed the attack sector. The 18th Reserve Corps was strengthened with 3 divisions and the entire heavy artillery at the army's disposal. The Romanian 1st Army received the 11th Infantry Divison. Maj. general Eremia Grigorescu redeployed his forces. Thus, the Russian 8th Corps formed the army's right wing in the Muncelul area. It had two divisions in the first line and another two reforming in the back. The Romanian 5th Corps (10th and 15th Infantry Divisions) held the front all the way to Marasesti Railroad Station, where it linked up with the 3rd Corps (14th Infantry Division), situated between Marasesti and the Siret River. East of the river was the Cavalry Corps (1st and 6th Rosiori Brigades, 2nd Cavalry Division and one brigade of the 5th Infantry Division). The army's reserve was made up of the 9th, 11th and 13th Infantry Divisions and the other brigade of the 5th Division.
The offensive of the 18th Corps started in the sector of the Russian 8th Corps on 28 August. At 0900 hours the German troops infiltrated between the two Russian divisions and forced them to retreat. Two regiments of the Romanian 3rd Infantry Division from the 2nd Army intervened and managed to stop the German advance together with the Russian reserves. The following day, general Grigorescu prepared an attack in the Muncelul area, aimed at eliminating the bulge created by the Germans. He put at the disposal of the Russian 8th Corps another Russian division, as well as the Romanian 9th Infantry Division, a regiment from the 13th and another from the 15th Division. The two regiments from the 2nd Army were also supposed to participate in this action.
The assault started at 0800 hours, from the north and west, but found the Germans ready for an attack of their own and it was repulsed. The second one, around 1700 hours, was also repulsed. The Germans forced the right wing of the Russian 124th Division to pull back. Two battalions from the 2nd Army intervened and managed to stop the enemy advance during the night. The 11th and 13th Infantry Divisions were brought behind the threatened areas. The 5th Division crossed to on the western bank of the Siret River. On 30 August, the German 18th Reserve Corps resumed the attack and its troops managed to get between the 18th Dorobanti Regiment Gorj and the 2nd Vanatori Regiment of the 2nd Army. The 34th Infantry Regiment Constanta, belonging to the 9th Division from the 1st Army, counterattacked and plucked in the breach.
The Russian 8th Corps was strengthened with the 13th Infantry Division on 31 August, when, because of the weather, there was no fighting. General Eremia Grigorescu subordinated the 9th Infantry Division and a Russian division to the CO of the 13th Division, brig. general Ioan Popescu. This group attacked on 1 September. The artillery preparation started at 0600 hours, with all the artillery available to the group, as well as with the artillery of the other two Russian divisions and the army's heavy artillery. After one hour, the 9th and 13th Divisions attacked from the west and the 3rd Infantry Division (belonging to the 2nd Army), commanded by brig. general Alexandru Margineanu, from the north. After some heavy fighting, the 13th Division advanced up t o200 m of Muncelul. The 18th Corps counterattacked in the sector of the 3rd Infantry Division, but was repulsed. The following day, the same 3rd Division suffered the brunt of the 9th Army's strike. The main objective was the Porcului Hill, defended by the 30th Dorobanti Regiment Muscel. It lost the positions, but they were retaken following the counterattack of the division's reserves and of a Russian regiment. It was the last major operation of the German 9th Army in the Marasesti sector.
The offensive of the 1st Army in the Muncelul area was resumed on 3 September. The 11th Infantry Division was subordinated to the General Popescu Group, entering the first line beside the 9th and 13th Divisions. The Russian division and the regiments of the 2nd Army formed the reserve. The plan was to attack frontally with the 9th Division and a brigade of the 11th, while the 13th Division and the other brigade of the 11th Division were going to attack the Muncelul village, threatening the enemy flank. The artillery preparation started at 0630 hours and at 0800 hours the 13th Infantry Division started the assault, but could not make any progress. The same happened in the sector of the 9th Division. A second artillery preparation, which lasted for an hour and a half, and some violent hand-to-hand fighting were necessary for the 13th Infantry Division to occupy the eastern edge of the Muncelul village. But the Romanian losses that day were heavy: about 2,700 men.
This was the last day of the battle of Marasesti, both sides deciding to adopt a defensive attitude on the entire front. The Romanian 1st Army had lost 610 officers and 26,800 NCOs and soldiers, while the German 9th Army had lost about 47,000. Forty Mihai Viteazul Orders 3rd class were awarded for deeds accomplished during the fighting around Marasesti. Maj. general Eremia Grigorescu received the Mihai Viteazul 2nd class. Also, the flags of no less than 9 regiments were decorated with the Mihai Viteazul 3rd class.
The fighting continued with little intensity the following days, with local attacks and counterattacks. In one of these clashes, on the Secuiului Hill on 5 September, the volunteer Ecaterina Teodoroiu was killed by machine-gun fire, while leading her platoon. On the other side, on 8 September, maj. general Kurt von Wenniger, CO of the German 18th Reserve Corps, was killed by an artillery shell in the Muncelul area.
The Value of a Collection
A lot is said by collectors as to what their collection is worth. Last month I threw out a subject for dialogue regarding the use of avatar names on the Social Network sites and one of the comments was in regard to collection value; more specifically that there is a need for anonymity to help prevent theft. This is a very valid point indeed and one that could generate much discussion on its own merit. It has been pointed out that one may even discover someone’s identity if they use an avatar on eBay, for example, and their proper name here on the GMIC. This may be accomplished by paying attention of what is in the background of the picture of the posted item for sale then noticing the same background here on this forum. I’ve seen this myself in regard to one of the GMIC members who also sells on eBay, though I only know his real name as we both have been members here for a long time. I am also guilty of this in that I used to sell a lot on eBay and always employed the same grey corduroy back drop cloth in every photo both on eBay and on the GMIC.
I usually wait until later in a Blog to get sidetracked but this time I started with being distracted, though it may be argued that it was after the first paragraph when this blog went off the rails, so-to-speak. I leave that up to you.
One comment, last month regarding security started me thinking, which is the very reason for these Blogs, about my collection and the attractiveness to criminals that it might present. I do have a security system but not of the James Bond laser, poison gas type. The concept that someone could easily cut the phone lines just outside of the house has been eliminated when I built a shop attached to the side of the dwelling. The lines all remained in the same location and the shop was built over them so the lines are eight feet below the surface of the yard and enter the dwelling inside the shop. We live in a small community and an extremely quiet neighbourhood where the biggest event of the year is when the first robin arrives back from the south in the spring. So it is a fairly safe and secure neighbourhood in a small and low-crime town. This left me with looking at what my collection was actually worth and with this exercise came a rude awakening.
Exactly what is any collection worth? Certainly if you have kept good records of the amount paid out for your collectables you could state the cost of a collection. Probably a figure best kept locked away in a secret safety deposit box and the key hidden from your spouse. What you paid and what it is actually worth are two completely different figures. If a criminal broke in and was able to steal whatever they wanted what would they take? Firearms would be on the top of the list I am sure and then anything they could easily sell, usually to support their drug habit. Unless you have diamond encrusted military awards or solid gold medals the criminal may have to sort through dozens, perhaps hundreds of military medals in order to take only those made of silver. Keep in mind most thieves are “grab and run” types and do not take the time to sort, especially if an alarm system is blaring away. Most pawn shops are hesitant to take in any quantity of so-called collectables, though anything that could be easily melted down may be more desirable to the less honest pawn shop owner. I would say that electronics would present a more attractive target than 200 bayonets, even with their original scabbards.
Moving on from the possibility of criminal activity because you have either taken precautions to “harden the target” (police terminology) or preserved your anonymity by not allowing every Tom, Dick and Harry in to see your collection, let’s look at post mortem sales. This may be the fate of a lot of our collections. Certainly our own mortality is not in question; unless you have found out something I haven’t. If you have, sharing it would be much appreciated. So here we are in a state of personal extinction, dead as a dodo bird and securely under six feet of dirt, with your collection in the hands of your heirs. I have found that spouses and family are fairly quick to dispose of the deceased collector’s hoard. It is not because of greed and the desire to pick the carcass of the estate clean, in most cases, at least in my opinion. It is a time of grief and your collection is a small part of the whole issue at hand. One should never discount how much your hobby has irritated the family and their point of view may not be that of the selfless parent or spouse but rather has always been a silent point of contention. There may be a small bit of resentment over the time and money you have lavished on your collection, time and attention, if not money, that could and should have been spent on them. This could be a moment of self-reflection for me, if it were not for my deep seated lack of empathy; my dear wife calls me her, “cold hearted old bastard”; that rather sums me up on so many levels. In retaliation I call her, “yes dear”. Perhaps that should make me even more reflective but, nope, it doesn’t. I’m sure my collection will be sold as soon as they can pry it from my cold dead fingers. At least I hope they will wait that long.
So you are gone and your heirs go to a dealer or two and offer your collection for sale. What could they expect to see out of your “investment”? We’ve all heard such discussions between collectors and it usually goes something like this, “Those @#$%& bastards (dealers) will only give you ten cents on the dollar”. With this in mind I asked around and found that the range from those dealers who would actually offer an estimate varied greatly. The highest was from an American source at 60 cents on the dollar with the average here in Ontario at 20 to 25 cents on the dollar, Australia came in around the same as here. Bear in mind that any dealer must consider the purchase of a whole collection as a long term investment tying his money up perhaps for years. The highest estimate was from a collector/dealer with the lowest estimate from a dealer with a “brick and mortar” shop and therefore with the highest amount of overhead to cover monthly expenses. The average came from dealers who set up at shows with little to no overhead.
Looking over my own collection, which includes firearms (all deactivated except my muskets, they are all in working order), I realize that I have two room filled with history’s unwanted junk. Obsolete tools of war and medals to persons long gone that tell no real story on their own. All items that any self-respecting thief (an oxymoron is I ever wrote one) would not risk his freedom to take. This, you may think, would be a bit sobering, even depressing for me and it would if I weren’t so self-absorbed and believed my collection is indeed my treasure trove of historically significant objects.
So what is your collection really worth? To others perhaps an average of 40 cents on the dollar for your investment but more importantly to people like us it’s priceless.
Avatar names; Why?
What I would term as odd or bizarre human behaviour has always interested me and the search for why people act as they do has not only fascinated me but at times eluded my powers of comprehension. The person who said that there is nothing as funny as a barrel of monkeys obviously was not, at the time, situated in a room full of people. Since politics and religion are subjects non grata here on the GMIC, and rightfully so, I will resort to the plethora of other subjects that I personally find irritating; subjects upon which I obsess.
Straight off I will say that I do not tend to keep up with modern lingo as used in today’s internet communications. Using the letter “n” to represent the word “and’ or ISO (in search of), IMO (in my opinion) and BRB (be right back) simply seems as foreign to me as putting maple syrup on your French fries (chips for those of the British persuasion). This brings me to today’s rant, so get ready as this is probably going to ruffle some feathers.
Why do people insist on using avatar names? For the most part I am talking about avatar names on the internet in general, You Tube, as an example rather than a forum such as ours. Since I have admitted that I do not keep current on modern terms perhaps I just don’t know what the term avatar means. Upon looking it up I found that in Hinduism it is a manifestation of a deity or released soul in bodily form on earth: an incarnate divine teacher. Well, this could not be the definition I am searching for as we are not allowed to talk about religion here and from some of the comments on the internet I can ascertain they not likely come from any form of divine teacher. The next definition given was from the computing “world” as, “an icon or figure representing a particular person in video games, Internet, etc”. Ah, there we have it a suitable definition from which to work; something that represents a person on the Internet.
Of course I knew this ahead of time but why say something in a few words when a whole paragraph will do (besides I am paid by the word). Again I will reiterate that I have no problem with avatar names here on the GMIC as we do have very good controls regarding ungentlemanly behaviour. Over the years we have seen a few members “cautioned” as to their conduct. However, on the Internet in general that seems to be exception rather than the norm. I never use an avatar name whether here or commenting on the Internet because if I am willing to put something down in writing I am will to stand by what I say. If I am incorrect in my convictions I do stand to be corrected followed by my apology or expression of gratitude whichever is appropriate.
On the other hand I don’t see myself as an offensive sort of fellow, I have never found pleasure in kicking a cat for example, not even unintentionally. There was an incident a number of years ago when one of our daughters arrived home late from her part-time pizza shop job sans her door key. She decided that sleeping in the car was a poor choice and rang the door bell to awaken someone to let her in. This resulted in my rushing through a darkened house to let her in before she woke the whole household. I should mention that we had a cat; a cat whose name evolved in proportion to his girth to the point where the kids aptly renamed him “Fat Tony”. Fat Tony was fast asleep, his natural state when not gorging himself on Fancy Feast, or some other over-priced cat food. Unknown to me this lump of a cat was transfixed, due to his preponderance, to the floor in line with my path of travel. My left foot apparently just missed him however my right foot made contact with the force of a footballer (soccer player for those of you of the North American persuasion).
As a science lesson this is an example of Newton’s First Law of Motion, sometimes referred to as the Law of Inertia, “an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force”. Just to clarify, the “object at rest” and the “unbalanced force” represent the lethargic and comatose Fat Tony. The “object in motion” being yours truly. Imagine, if you will, a football player taking a penalty kick or attempting to kick a field goal (depends on your definition of football) and the ball is replaced by an anvil. Suffice it to say that the object in motion, in this case, still stayed in motion though transformed from a vertical state to a horizontal one in a split second. Thus ends the science lesson and the answers the question as to why you never kick a cat, or at least not Fat Tony.
To return to the question at hand, why do people use avatar names? Do they feel more at ease giving an opinion and if so what is it about expressing their ideas that frightens them. Is it giving free range to rude and crass people? Well, sometimes. Perhaps it much the same as using an avatar picture, such as the Canada General Service Medal’s reverse that I use. It hints that I am a Canadian and it is a bit of fun, after all life without a little whimsy would be most dull. At times I find it awkward to respond using the avatar name as it is just too impersonal, therefore I usually simply make the response and live with the feeling that I have failed to act in a polite manner by not starting with “Hello X2bKl9”, or whatever their avatar name happens to be. I would like to see the use of a first name in the closing of an entry or response with “Regards (your first name here)” as an example. At least a reply could be made to what would appear to be a real person and not some sort of Bot. I do hope I used that Internet term for Robot correctly, in today’s terminology I run the risk that this is somehow an offensive term. If so I apologize.
By now you must have realized that I had nothing for this month’s blog but I hope this amused you somewhat and gave some folks pause to think.
Brian (a real person not an Internet Bot).
In 1818, during the reign of John Caradja, the prince of Wallachia, an unmanned hot air balloon was flown off Dealul Spirii in Bucharest. On July 7th, 1874, Colonel Nicolae Haralambie, together with Ion Ghica and a third person flew over Bucharest in a hydrogen balloon named "Mihai Bravul", which had made its first flight on June 9 of the same year.
On November 20, 1909 the Chitila Piloting School was formed as a joint venture by Mihail Cerchez. The school, conducted by French flight instructors, had five hangars, bleachers for spectators and workshops where the Farman planes imported from France were assembled. The school opened on July 9, 1910, when the chief flight instructor and director of the school René Guillemin crashed a Farman III biplane from a height of 40 metres during a demonstration flight, and broke his leg.
Guillemin was succeeded by Michel Mollawho made the first flight across Bucharest on September 7, 1910. Molla was succeeded by two others before the school closed in late 1912 due to financial difficulties, having trained six officers, but only licensed two.
In November 1909, the Romanian Minister of War commissioned Aurel Vlaicu to build the Vlaicu I airplane at the Bucharest Army Arsenal which first flew on June 17, 1910. On September 28, during the Fall military exercise, Vlaicu flew his airplane from Slatina to Piatra Olt, carrying a message, Romania thus becoming the second country after France to use airplanes for military purposes. Along with other Romanian pilots, Vlaicu flew reconnaissance missions during the Second Balkan War. Vlaicu III, the first metal aircraft in the world, was completed after his death, in May 1914.
Also, there should not be forgotten the so-called by some "controversed" plane built by Henri Coandă, considered by some and ancestor of the jet plane, back in 1910.
World War I
During World War I, Romania acquired 322 aircraft from France and ex-RNAS aircraft from Great Britain including Nieuport 11 and 17 single seat fighters and Morane-Saulnier LA and Nieuport 12 two seat fighters. Caudron G.3, Henry Farman HF.20, Farman MF.11, and Farman F.40 & 46 artillery observation and reconnaissance aircraft, Caudron G.4, Breguet-Michelin BLM and Voisin LA bombers were also bought. On September 16th, 1916, a Romanian Farman F.40 downed an Imperial German Air Force aircraft near Slobozia; this was the first Romanian Air Force victory. By the end of World War I, Romanian pilots had flown about 11,000 hours and 750 missions; however, it was unable to prevent the defeat from the offensive at the Battle of the Arges, which resulted in the occupation of 2/3 from Romania, and eventually an armistice on 6th December 1917.
Here is a list of the most important airplanes used in that period:
Blériot XI was a French plane built by the Blériot Aircraft Factory. It was originally used as a school plane, later used as a reconnaissance plane during the first part of the First World War. The Blériot XI aircraft was in possession of the Air Corps Airborne Squadrons of the Romanian Armed Forces at the beginning of the 1916 campaign, with a total of 6 pieces, but in a non-operational state. The Blériot XI was designed in a top-wing monoplane configuration with a tractive propeller (placed in front of the engine). The engine was 50-horsepower-cooled Anzani. The plane had a wooden fuselage, the amperes were classical, with a stabilizer set in the rear, followed by the direction. Carlinga, which contained the engine and crew space, was fitted to the wing. The landing train was composed of a pair of simple wheels in front and a skateboard in the back. The plane was intended for reconnaissance and school missions.
Maurice Farman MF.11
Maurice Farman MF.11 was a French military aircraft built before the First World War by the Farman-Avions Farman Aircraft Factory. It was used as a light bombardment aircraft in the early part of the war, later being used as a reconnaissance plane or school. Farm Farm MF.11 was also the endowment of the Romanian Air Force. During the war, he noted the fronts of France, Italy, Greece and the Middle East, also playing an important role during the campaigns of the Moldavian front in the summer of 1917.
Nieuport 11, nicknamed Bébé, was a French biplane fighter designed by Gustave Delage. It was the main airplane that in 1916 brought France to victory in the western front air warfare at a time when Fokker Eindecker German fighter monkeys, equipped with synchronous machine guns, had outgrown the allied airplanes. After the war, in the 1920s it was used as a training plane. Nieuport 11 was in the service of several French allied forces such as Russia, Italy, the United Kingdom. In the history of Romanian aviation, Nieuport 11 is a famous apparatus, being the first specialized hunting plane of the Romanian Army.
Aviatik C.I was a German military aircraft built by Aviatik Aircraft Factory, used as a light observation and bombardment aircraft during the First World War. The Aviatik C.I aircraft was endowed with the Air Force in the Romanian Army, at the beginning of the 1916 campaign, there was only one copy received from the Germans before the war began.
Breguet Bre.5 was a French military aircraft built by the Breguet Aircraft Factory. It was used as a hunting jet, escort, reconnaissance and light bombardment during the First World War. Breguet Bre.5 was in possession of the Air Force Staff of the Romanian Armed Forces at the beginning of the 1916 campaign, with a total of 20 pieces, another 18 being received from France by the end of the year.
Farman F.40 was a French military aircraft built by the aircraft factory Maurice Farman. It was used as a lightweight reconnaissance and bombardment aircraft at the beginning of World War I, later being used as a school plane. The Farman F.40 aircraft was in possession of the Air Force Staff of the Romanian Armed Forces at the end of the 1916 campaign when a total of 55 pieces were received from France, of which 38 in operational status, the rest being destroyed during transport .
Sopwith 1½ Strutter
Sopwith 1½ Strutter was a British military aircraft built by the Sopwith Aircraft Factory. It was used as a hunting jet, escort, reconnaissance and light bombardment during the First World War. He was in possession of the squadrons of the Air Force Corps of the Romanian Armed Forces, starting with the campaign of 1917 when these appliances were received from the United Kingdom.
Photos in order:
- Vlaicu I plane
- Vlaicu III plane
- Henri Coandă M1910 "jet plane ancestor"
- Nieuport 11, Romanian markings
- Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter, Romanian markings
- the air battle above Slobozia from September 16th 1916 between a Romanian Farman F40 and a german fighter
The IAR CV 11 was a Romanian fighter prototype from 1930, designed by Elie Carafoli, and it was IAR's first original aircraft.
In early 1930 a contest was called by the ARR for a new fighter type to equip its squadrons. During July and October, seven foreign types were tested at an airfield near Bucharest. No decision was made, however, since none of the contenders reached the minimal speed limit set by the requirements at 300 km/h. Despite the inconclusive results, the favourite plane seemed to be the chunky-looking Polish P.Z.L. P.1/II prototype, registered SP-ADO. During the same period, the air force commission was informed that a new fighter prototype had been completed at I.A.R., and it had reached an impressive 319 km/h top speed during initial test flights.
Built according to the plans of Dipl.-Eng. Dr. Elie Carafoli and Lucien Virmoux, the I.A.R. fighter was an advanced construction. Named the C.V. 11 after its designers, it had a mixed metal-wood structure and cantilever, low-wing configuration, modern features soon to be adopted by all major aircraft manufacturers. The front fuselage structure was made of duraluminum tubes, while the rear part was of pinewood. The engine nacelle and the fuselage up to the cockpit were covered by duraluminum sheets, the aft part by plywood. The rear part of the fuselage merged with the tail without a substantial cross-sectional change, giving the aircraft a rather unusual arrow-like look. Due to its unconventional fuselage configuration the overall length came to less than 7 m, while the height was only 2.46 m. The 11.50 m span wing was made up by three sections of combined duraluminum/pinewood construction,reinforced by steel cables. The centre part housed the main wing fuel tank. The unbalanced control surfaces, which proved to be too small during trials, were made entirely of wood covered by fabric.
The powerplant chosen was a Lorraine-Dietrich 12Fa Courlis with 12 cylinders arranged in a W configuration. Its maximum output was an impressive 600 h.p. (447 kW) but it proved to be too heavy for the small and light fuselage, which weighted only 1,100 kg, and caused a dangerous tendency to go into a spin at low speed. This shortcoming could not be eliminated, so the prototype, officially designated I.A.R. C.V. 11/W.8, had finally to be abandoned.
In the meantime, a second prototype was completed at I.A.R. This time a less powerful but sensibly lighter Hispano-Suiza 12Mc engine, with 12-cylinders in V, had been fitted to essentially the same fuselage. Although weaker than its predecessor, this engine gave a superior maximum speed of 328 km/h at sea level and 295 km/h at 5,000 m.
The armament of two 7.7 mm Vickers machine guns firing through the propeller arc had been retained from the first prototype. An O.P.L. type gunsight helped the pilot to aim its guns.
After initial test flights, the second prototype, designated in French style I.A.R. C.V. 11 C1 (Chasseur monoplace), had been shipped to Istres, in France, where it arrived in January 1931. During the following two months further trials were conducted involving French specialists as well.
The French specialists report, however, did not have any significant impact on ARR commission members. After the initial failure in reaching a verdict, this prompted the ARR leaders to set up a new, five member committee to decide the choice of fighter type to be introduced into Romanian service. After several months of inquiries and test flights, the commission finally decided four to one in favour of the P.Z.L. P.1 and against the faster but less manoeuvrable, spin-prone I.A.R. C.V. 11.
Therefore, once the prototype returned to Romania, as a last measure, the I.A.R. team decided to make an attempt to break the speed record on a 500 km closed circuit. The record of 306,696 km/h in effect at that time for this category had been set up by the Frenchman Joseph Sadi-Lecointe, with a Nieuport-Delâge airplane. The record-breaking attempt was scheduled for the morning of 9 December 1931 on the Bucharest-Fetesti-Bucharest route. With the Capitan aviator Romeo Popescu at its controls, the C.V. 11 took off from Pipera-Bucharest military airfield at 11.30 a.m. The first 370 km were flown without any trouble at an encouraging average speed. Close to Lehliu railway station, however, the overheated Hispano-Suiza engine suddenly stalled, forcing the pilot to try an improvised forced landing with the now vicious airplane. Cpt. Popescu approached a nearby open field, but at contact with the thick snow cover one of the main wheels collapsed and the fighter turned over, crushing the pilot under the fuselage. Romeo Popescu, an experienced test pilot and holder of three Romanian national aviation records, died instantly. The investigation following the incident concluded that the lubrication of the overstressed engine, working at maximum power, was insufficient, causing seizure. Until that fatal moment, during an hour and thirty-four minutes of flight, an average speed of 319 km/h had been recorded by the onboard instruments, thus a good chance had existed of achieving the goal set by the temerarious pilot.
However, by that time the dies had already been cast. Months before, in September 1931, General Constantin Lazarescu, the new inspector of DSA, decided not to consider the I.A.R. design any more, but to purchase the Polish P.Z.L. P.11, an upgraded version of the initial P.1
• Crew: one
• Length: 6.98 m (22 ft 10⅞ in)
• Wingspan: 11.50 m (37 ft 8¾ in)
• Height: 2.46 m (8 ft 0¾ in)
• Wing area: 18.20 m2 (195.9 ft2)
• Empty weight: 1100 kg (2425 lb)
• Gross weight: 1510 kg (3329 lb)
• Powerplant: 1 × Hispano-Suiza 12Mc, 373 kW (500 hp)
• Maximum speed: 329 km/h (204 mph)
• 2 x .303 Vickers machine guns
The IAR 471 was a 1943 prototype of ground attack aircraft and dive bomber aircraft built by Industria Aeronautică Română.
The IAR-81 had not proved a great success as an improvised dive bomber and experience with the IAR-47 showed that the IAR 14K would not be up to the demands of powering a full-sized dive bomber. Thus by early 1943 the Romanians still lacked an effective ground support aircraft . In November 1942 IAR had at last secured a license for the manufacture of the German DB 605 engine and planning now centred on this powerplant. On January 16, 1943, a new dive bomber project, the IAR-471, was commissioned which was to be powered by the DB 605. Although the Germans lent Romania numerous Stukas from mid-1943, they would not sell any. Therefore, the design of the IAR-471 was persevered with for reasons of self-sufficiency.
Despite its designation, the IAR-471 bore little resemblance to the smaller IAR 47 and was essentially a different aircraft. It was designed with a superior performance to the Stuka, much helped by the retractable undercarriage, but a lighter bomb load, and on May 7, 1944, the Stuka's two underwing 37mm cannons were ordered to be included in its specification. It was planned to order 100 IAR-471s and 136 engines from IAR in 1944/1945, but IAR was in the throes of dispersing its factories and beginning production of the Bf 109G and declared itself incapable of simultaneously producing the IAR-471. This halted the project even before Romania's defection to the Allies in August. No prototype flew. There were (at least) one IAR 471 prototypes built, its fate being unknown. No picture of the plane has survived.
• Crew: 2
• Length: 11 m ( ft in)
• Wingspan: 14 m (45 ft 10 in)
• Height: 3.2 m ( ft in)
• Wing area: 29 m2 (312 ft2)
• Gross weight: 4300 without bomb load kg (9,479l lb)
• Powerplant: 1 × IAR DB 605, 1,100kW kW (1,475 hp)
• Maximum speed: 490 km/h (304 mph)
• Service ceiling: 8000 m (26,245 ft)
• 1 x 20mm MG151 cannon firing through the airscrew spinner
• 2 x 7.92mm Rheinmetall wing mounted
• 2 x 37mm BK 37 Rheinmetall under wing
• 2 x 7.92mm Rheinmetall MG for rear gunner
• 500kg (1,100lb) bomb under fuselage
2 x 100kg (220lb)
Hoarder to Historian
One of the types of articles I absolutely distain are the “personal journey” stories with some sort of life changing message at the end. The only thing intentionally placed at the end of one of my blogs is a full stop. That’s a “period” for our American friends. I actually say “full stop” just to irritate my Canadian friends who insist on speaking like Americans, which is alright if that’s what you are going for. I said it was “alright” with one exception. One of my all time favourite modern actors is Benedict Cumberbatch, a British actor who has brilliantly brought Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character, “Sherlock Holmes” into the twenty-first century. As an open letter statement to Mr. Cumberbatch, please, please do not attempt an American accent as you did in the movie Doctor Strange. Listening to him announce that he (his character) was an Am-air-ik-an was painful. It makes me wonder what Americans ever did to him.
To get back on track, while I was making notes for this blog I suddenly realized that the topic was pretty much about my own journey in collecting. As I have said I really dislike those types of articles so I will end this blog with a tip on how you can save money to allow you to do more collecting rather than some hippy-like transcendental useless spiritual advice. Yep, another public service announcement from the Home Office. I suppose you are surprised to read that I actually make notes prior to banging away on my keyboard. If you think I ramble on and on now, you should read the unedited notes.
Getting back on getting back on track, see what I mean; and these are the edited results. Many of us start out collecting as hoarders, to a point. Not real hoarders such as seen on television programmes that deal with the physiological illness of hoarding but the accumulation of specific items at an accelerated rate to the exclusion of any in depth research and study. As an example I offer the short story of a fellow I knew who collected British War Medals and Victory Medals from WWI awarded to Canadians from a specific regiment. This was the same regiment he had served in during peace time just before the Desert Storm era. It is understandable why he would collect WWI medals from his old regiment and there is nothing wrong with that. Another fellow from his regiment was also trying the “corner the market” in these medals and a stiff rivalry ensued on the internet auctions between them, complete with bidding wars and heated emails between the two competitors. The fellow I knew would receive the medal or medals he had won then place them in a large zip-lock bag hiding them in the attic space under the insulation. He claimed it was to foil burglars, however, considering he left the small step ladder in the same place directly under the attic hatch it was obvious he was hiding the amount he was purchasing from his wife; a fact that I know to be the true reason. He often said that he intended to open a museum to his old regiment but in reality even a few hundred medals is not enough on their own to fill a museum. I have 210 drawers (I just counted them) filled with collectables, mostly medals and even that would make a pretty poor showing for a museum. The fact that he simply stored the medals away, out of sight and out of reach of his wife, she is quite a short lady, makes me categorize his as a hoarder. I will admit that I was in much the same category for many years then something strange (not Dr. Strange) happened. My collecting started to slow down and research started to interest me more and more. I say “strange” because as I aged my disposable income increased. I am much happier now than when I was driven by an obsession to add to the “pile”, as organized as it was. Now the accumulation of knowledge, and still adding to the collection of course, has become paramount in my obsessive little mind. Perhaps it is age or perhaps it is a simple matter of available space to house my collection, I’m not really sure. The one thing Nature and a collector agree on is that they both abhor a vacuum and will try to fill any void.
Now for that money saving tip.
One of the areas one can save money and therefore have more funds to spend on a collection is by doing-it-yourself. Take the high price of children’s shoes for example; they’re just little shoes so why do they cost so much? Why not make your kids foot wear in your shop; no shop then in your kitchen, as the materials are cheap and tools readily available in the average home. Take two cardboard boxes of the correct size, or cut larger boxes down to the appropriate size; use the ones your latest collectables from e$cam arrived in. Once you have them to the correct size cover them with duct tape. I used silver but it comes in black as well. If your child is a boy then adding a strip of “camo” duct tape (I used Gorilla tape) will give it that masculine look that most boys strive to achieve. If you have a daughter then duct tape also comes in bright colours as well. Take a black magic marker and draw laces on the tops of the shoes, after all we don’t want to emotionally scar the little buggers too much, and besides we are not animals. Once this is done, “Robert’s your father’s brother”, you have a nice pair of shoes, and darn sporty looking if I do say so myself.
Just another public service from The Home Office...you’re welcome.
Continuing the series of the Romanian made planes, here comes the IAR 37, a bomber produced during the Interwar period and used on the Eastern Front.
IAR 37, IAR 38 and IAR 39 is a series of Romanian biplane airplanes with three seats for easy reconnaissance and bombardment of Romanian conception and achievement of the 1930s. Its producer is the Romanian Aeronautical Industry.
In 1936, the IAR Factory carried out the design of a reconnaissance and bombardment aircraft easily derived from the French aircraft Potez 25. Initially, this aircraft was equipped with the engine IAR 14K, a Gnome-Rhône Mistral Major engine, which was manufactured under license. The prototype (IAR 37.1) was tested in the spring of 1937, and as a result of the good test results, it began to be manufactured under the name of IAR 37. On the basis of a contract with the Ministry of Air and Marine, by the end of 1937, pieces. Still, the IAR 14K engine was not available anymore, so there was the problem of adapting another engine. In the summer of 1938, the BMW-132A engine, 700 hp, was adapted for which some changes to the cell were needed. The version equipped with this engine was called IAR 38 and from this version were produced 75 copies. In November 1938, the new IAR 14K II C32 engine was equipped with 49 IAR 37 airplanes, but due to the increasingly powerful engine variants, there were structural problems that required changes to the project initial. The first device of the new variant, called IAR 39, made the first flight on 13 March 1940, and by the end of the year 95 pieces were produced. As the IAR plants were busy with the production of IAR 80 and SM 79B bombers, starting with 1942, the production was transferred to SET Bucharest, where the aircraft also received an improved engine, the IAR 14K IVC engine. The variant made at SET was called IAR 39A. Production ceased in the autumn of 1944 after 160 aircraft had been produced. On the series of airplanes produced at the SET was added the letter "S".
• Use in combat
The first planes were equipped with the observation squadrons in 1939. By the end of 1940, three Information Floats were fully equipped with IAR 37, 38 or 39 planes. The organization was as follows: Fleet 1 Information, based on the Iaşi airfield, consisting of 19, 20, 21 and 22 observation squadrons; Fleet 2 Information, based on the Someseni-Cluj aerodrome, which consisted of observation squadrons 11, 12, 13 and 14; Fleet 3 Information, based on the aerodrome in Galati, which consisted of observation squadrons 15, 16, 17 and 18. Each squadron consisted of 12 apparatus. The first wave in 1941 Modification These fleets participated in World War II with the start of Operation Barbarossa on June 22, 1941. Each army corps was attached to observation squadrons, used to observe and photograph the front line and the movements of enemy troops. Of the total, 11 squadrons (No. 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21 and 22) were used in reconnaissance, observation and liaison missions and one (18) easy bombardment. They were also used to attack enemy troops, artillery positions, convoys, anti-aircraft guns, and partisans. The distribution of the squadrons was as follows: Squadrons 11, 12, 13, 14 were assigned to the Aeronautical Command as the escorts to link to the 3rd and 4th Armies. Squadron 15 was attached to the 1st Armored Division. Squadron 16 is at the disposal of the Dobrogea Aeronautical Command. Squadrons 17, 20, and 22 served the 4th Army as observation squadrons. Escadillo 18 was part of Group 2 of Fleet 2 Bombardment. Squadrons 19 and 21 served the 4th Army as observational escads. The first loss occurred on the very first day of the attack, when an IAR 37 of Recognition Squadron no. 19 was shot down by a Polikarpov I-153 VVS (Voenno-Vozduhnîe Silî) - Soviet Air Force. On this day, four observation devices were lost. The first victory was approved two days later, when Sergeant Vasile Puşcaşu, the backside machine gun of an IAR 39 apparatus of the Recognition Squadron no. 22 shot down a Polikarpov I-16 "Rata". During this first campaign, 30 IAR type 37, 38 or 39 were lost.
• At Stalingrad in 1942
Modification In the Stalingrad campaign from September 1942 to January 1943, six of the observation escorts and the light squadron were involved. Campaign losses were 13 IAR 38/39.
• In 1943
Modification In 1943, most missions aimed at recognizing the Black Sea and escorting convoys between Constanta, Odessa and Sevastopol. Also, missions to recognize the front area were performed. Since November 1943, some IARs 37 and 39 have been used to tow DFS-230 sailplanes of the Aircrafts Squadron 109 Squadron. The IAR 38 machines, due to their weaker engines, could not pull the loaded gliders to their payload capacity of 1100kg but loaded with only 500kg.
• In 1944
Change In 1944, IAR 39s were fused into 9 observation squats, and IAR 37s equipped the light bombardment squadron. They all performed missions in the front area. After the events of August 1944, two observation squads of the Observation Group 2 took part in the campaign in Transylvania. Two more observation squads of the Observation Group 1 soon joined them. In the Transylvanian campaign, 10 appliances were lost. The campaign continued in Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Due to the few remaining enemy fighter jets, the losses in the observation devices were determined by the air defense. The last plane lost in the war was an IAR 39, on May 8, 1945, near Voderady, in eastern Moravia. The last mission of ARR in the war was on 9 May 1945, observing the handover of German troops. With all their low speed and vulnerability due to the lack of any armor, IAR 37, 39 and 30, nicknamed "Santa Claus", were used by ARR from the first to the last day of war. Because of them, the infantry had a sense of security knowing them patrolling over and directing the artillery.
• After the war
After the war, the remaining planes received civilian registrations and were used until the 1960s. None has been preserved to date.
• Technical detailes
The Piaggio-P.XI engine is derived from the same engine Gnome-Rhône Mistral Major as the IAR 14K, which is extremely similar in appearance. The fuel could be loaded into two tanks, one of 539 liters and one 123 liters fitted under the pilot's seat. The propeller was bipolar, wooden, with a diameter of 3,400 m.
The board equipment with which it was equipped also allowed night-time navigation. The plane had two retractable headlamps. The airplane had a fire-extinguishing facility and oxygen installation for each member. The aircraft had a Telefunken 901 A/F radio with a power of 20 W with a fixed antenna and a moving antenna.
2 x 7,92 mm
2 x 7,92 mm
1 x 7,92 mm
1 x 7,92 mm
1 x 7,92 mm
1 x 7,92 mm
1 x 7,92 mm
1 x 7,92 mm
Rheinmetal MG 15
1 x 7,92 mm
1 x 7,92 mm
1 x 7,92 mm
1 x 7,92 mm
12 x 50 kg
12 x 50 kg
24 x 12 kg
24 x 12 kg
This my first topic from a series that will cover at least some of the planes used by Romania during the Second World War. First one will be about the only romanian-built fighter, the IAR 80.
IAR 80 was a monoplane fighter and dive bomber. It was conducted at IAR Braşov by a team composed of Prof. Ion Grosu, Ion Coşereanu, Eng. Gheorhe Zotta, Viziru Grosu and Ion Wallner. At that time, the IAR 80 was comparable to the most modern combat aircraft, such as Germany's Bf 109, Mitsubishi A6M Zero in Japan, Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire in the UK. In the second part of the war, this project proved to be technologically outdated. About five years after the end of the war, the planes were completely replaced by Soviet models. In 1955, the Military Air Force Command decided to dismantle the apparatus and destroy it. No plane has been preserved, but two copies are now found at the National Museum of the Aviation, and the other at the National Military Museum, both in Bucharest.
At the end of 1937 the IAR 80 started working, initially designed with the open cockpit and the IAR K14-III C32 engine of 870 hp (649 kW). Slow work was done on this project and the first flight was conducted in April 1939. Subsequent tests were impressive: the airplane reached a speed of 510 km / h at a height of 4000 m. Several small issues discovered by the tests were resolved in the following year. For more power, a new engine of 930 hp (690 kW), ie version C36 of K14-III, was installed. Due to the power of this engine, it was also necessary to modify the fuselage. As a result, the tank was increased to 455 l, the wings extended and the tail modified to eliminate some aerodynamic problems. Carlinga was moved a little in the back, and to offset the visibility of the pilot's seat, the entire cockpit was lifted.
The improved prototype was tested on the Heinkel He 112 plane that had just arrived from Germany as the beginning of a larger order. Although the He 112 was somewhat more modern and much better armed, the IAR 80 with a stronger engine proved to be much more performing in the rest of the range. The Royal Aviation, being impressed, immediately ordered 100 pieces on December 18, 1939, and the orders for He 112 were canceled.
- Length: 8,16 m. Width: 10.0 m.
- Height: 3.6 m. Carrier surface: 15,50 m². Weight (empty): 1780 kg.
- Mass (maximum): 2280 kg.
- Engine: IAR K14-III C32, 870 hp (649 kW), later IAR K14-III C36, 930 hp (690 kW).
- Maximum speed: 510 km / h at 4000 m. - Ceiling: 10500 m (34,500 ft). - Climbing time at 5000 m: 6 min. - Weapons 2 × FN (Browning) 7.92 mm
- IAR 80: Production was supposed to begin immediately, but procurement of weapons proved to be a serious problem. On the prototype, only two Fabrique Nationale guns of 7.92 mm Belgian production were mounted. This weapon was obviously too weak for use in war and according to the project the plane should have been equipped with six such weapons. On the occasion of the invasion of Belgium and the Netherlands by Germany, the supply of these weapons ceased and unfortunately there were no Romanian weapons fitting on the plane. In the absence of weapons, production was stopped. In November 1940, Romania entered into an alliance with the Powers of the Axis, and the Germans allowed the resumption of Belgian arms transport. Even if more weapons were purchased, the planes produced had only 4 machine guns fitted. Serial specimens have increased the length, width and bearing surface. It received a stronger engine and increased overall weight. A total of 50 devices, numbered 1 - 50, will be built from this version.
- IAR 80A: In April 1941, Romania was included in Germany's sphere of influence, so the Germans supplied more weapons. The weaponry was quickly incorporated into the project and the 80A model resulted, according to the project, was equipped with 6 weapons. The windscreen was also made of armored glass and armored pilot's seat. The plane was powered by the new IAR K14-1000A engine, 1025 hp. Because this engine was too strong for the original cell, the fuselage was modified and strengthened. Although the IAR 80A had a stronger engine, the addition of weapons, ammunition, and armor weight contributed to a slight reduction in maximum speed to 509 km / h. The new model was an obvious breakthrough and replaced the old model with the 51th aircraft. Eight new planes were completed in time to participate in the war of liberation of Bessarabia starting June 22, 1941. From this version will be built 90 devices with numbers 051-090, 106-150 and 176-180.
- IAR 80B: In this version, two of the Browning machine guns were replaced by two NF machine guns of 13.2 mm and the range increased. Improved fuel tank and armor protection on the pilot's side. From this version, 20 appliances were manufactured, with numbers 181-200. Next, 11 appliances in the series 201-211 will be equipped with two additional fuel tanks of 100 l, wide, located under the wings.
- IAR 80DC: At the Aircraft Repair Workshops (ARMV), which later became the Aircraft Company Bucharest, several IAR 80 units were converted to the training biloc, the version being called IAR 80DC (double command). These machines were equipped with hunting pilot schools.
- IAR 81: It is a version equipped to carry out missile bombing (Bo-Pi) missions. For this purpose, it started from various versions of IAR 80, which were equipped with bomb launchers. The IAR 81 base version started from the IAR version 80A, to which were added three bomb launchers, two 50kg bombs placed under the wings and one for a 250kg bomb placed under the fuselage. The weapon was the same as the IAR version 80A. From this version, 50 copies were produced, with the numbers 091-105, 151 -175 and 231-240.
- IAR 81A: This version comes from the IAR 80B version. The differences consisted of a 13.2 mm machine gun cartridge, and instead of the 50 kg bomb, it had additional fuel tanks. There were 29 copies, with the series 212-230 and 291-300.
- IAR 81B: In this version, 13.2 mm machine guns are replaced by two 20 mm Ikaria (20-mm license), each with 60 strokes each. Thus his fire power was similar to that of the Spitfire V device. There were 50 copies, with the series 241-290.
- IAR 81C: In this version, Ikaria cannons were replaced with Mauser MG 151 cannons of 20 mm, with increased bumps. From this version there were produced 38 copies of the 100 series ordered, with the series beginning with 301.
• Other versions: An Junkers Jumo 211 Da Engine, a twelve-cylinder turbocharged 12-cylinder turbocharged engine with a higher power output of 1340 hp (1000 kW), has been tried on an IAR 81. The results are little known. Also, an IAR 80 replaced the original engine with a BMW 801, used by the German Focke-Wulf Fw 190, which could develop a speed of at least 600 km/h, but this could not be put into practice on a scale because of the fact that the Germans were unable to provide the engine.
One of the greatest obstacles, ignoring spelling and grammar, in the way of writing pieces related to history is staying objective. I have never made any secret that I tend to be a bit of an Anglophile, which is not the worst “phile” one can be, even though my family has been here in Canada well before Confederation and our roots are, for the greater part, German. I recall, when I was very young, being in the classroom and seeing the large pull-down maps at the front of the room showing the map of the world. The British Empire was shown in red and the rest of the world in rather different shades of “we don’t care about them” colours. I recall being told that we were to be proud of being a part of the great British Empire and will admit that the message left a lasting impression on my little mind. Strange that we tend to tell children what they think and what they are proud possibly out of fear that they won’t see it the same way once they start to develop a more analytical mind. I would have said an “adult mind” but let’s face facts what we are told as children sticks with most of us and conservation of energy being what it is we tend not to bother taxing our brains all that much. The vast majority of people took a “sure whatever” attitude towards history taught in school so it could be argued that any potential self-serving propaganda inherent in any memoirs of the war years of modern history is lost on them. Still there are those who took a greater interest and even went beyond what they were initially told to look for the truth or should I say accuracy as “truth” implies so sort of conspiracy. Gathering intelligence on a local Neo-Nazi group a number of years ago clearly showed what a little knowledge, perverted and distorted, can produce. As a side note; at one of our debriefing meetings the question was posed as to whether gathering “intelligence” on a Neo-Nazi group would qualify as an oxymoron. It was pointed out that it would be more of an “exercise in futility”. While they were anything but a joke a little levity is often welcomed. Changing the minds of certain fanatical groups is more or less an impossible task; however, our efforts certainly showed what exposure to strong sunlight and fresh air can do to stop the growth of a fungal infestation.
Some other issues effecting objectivity is around what we are told as the truth and perhaps as detrimental what we were never told. Both of these issues are often cured through the passing of time and the expansion of our horizon. As an example when I was taking some engineering courses there was a fellow student from Hong Kong who was already an engineer and was here on leave from Hong Kong Hydro and planned to return after his courses. Just to clarify I am and have never been an engineer. He related a story about a question he was once asked, by a fellow student, soon after he came to Canada. He was asked what he thought about the Opium Wars (First Opium War 1839-1842, Second Opium War 1856- 1860). He told me that he was absolutely dumb-founded at such a question and had to admit that this was the first he had heard of such events. At the time there was no mention in any school history books regarding either conflict. There is no doubt, in my mind, that this was not simply an oversight but purposeful omission, possibly for political reasons.
The second point is in what we are actually told compared with what actually took place or rather why certain events took place. Two good examples, from World War Two, would be the raid on Dieppe and the bombing raid on the island of Heligoland.
The Raid on Dieppe, 19 August 1942, has been shrouded in mystery by the Official Secrets Act until only a few years ago. The raid was initially and officially touted as a raid to test German strength along the so-called Atlantic Wall. The raid was quite costly in lives and material with a total of 3,623 either killed, wounded or taken prisoner out of the 6,086 involved in the action. It was only after decades that the real reason for the raid was made available to the public. The raid itself was a diversion staged in order for Military Intelligence for secure a working example of the German Enigma coding device. Unfortunately the machine had already been moved out of Dieppe and to make things even worse they were planning on adding another coding disk, in the near future, to make their messages even more secure.
Another example of the reasons for a raid being kept secret was the 1,000 plane bombing raid in a small German island named Heligoland on April 18, 1945. The reason given in the post mission briefings was that there was a need to completely destroy the last remaining German planes and the submarine pens located there to prevent any last minute suicide raids by the German personnel stationed there. This seemed odd to many who took part in the mission as the island had been cut off completely earlier on and the fuel for any such retaliatory strikes unavailable. The cost of the raid was nowhere as great as the Dieppe Raid with 3 Halifax bombers being lost due to malfunctions and not enemy fire. As an aside; I personally knew two independent witnesses who saw two of the planes go down over the sea. The planes were “stacked” one above the other in waves, the upper plane hit an air pocket or down draft and was forced down directly on the bomber below. These two witnesses, both in separate bombers watched as the two planes spiralled, still one on top of the other all the way down into the sea below. There were no survivors. The true reason for the mission was to deny the Soviets any possible access to the submarine pens in the post war era. The continued bombing of the island until 1952 as “practise” can be better understood in the context of, if you want to blow things up then better on your neighbours land than your own.
However, we are not here to judge history just to record and hopefully try to understand it.
I suppose the two examples above could fall under things that frustrate and impede the historian in attempting to report on history accurately rather than preventing objectivity. The necessity to keep certain information from the general public has long been a reality and the current trend by today’s generation for “totally transparency” is rather naive and potentially dangerous to the security of nations. A good historian avoids stating personal views so I would instruct the jury to disregard that last statement...has that ever actually worked. In some cases the history of an action may have been recorded for posterity based on the facts given and the judgement of those recording the incident. A good example could be post-coital regret, officially known as post-coital triestesse (PCT) or dysphoria (PCD) which in extreme cases could result in charges of sexual assault. If the accused is found guilty then he could very well be labelled as a sexual offender for life; even though the original act was completely consensual. Unlike post-matrimonial regret where the end result is coitus of an ongoing monetary expenditure nature.
In retrospect, looking over this blog, I have arrived at the conclusion that I don’t really have a problem with maintaining my objectivity; my problem is remaining serious for any length of time.
Happy New Year to all who read my blogs and for those who don’t; well, what I can say that would matter, you’ll never see it anyway.
On the Lounge Paul asked the question, “What is the dumbest things you ever did” under the heading “Let’s liven things up around here” in the Lounge. This is an excellent topic and one which allows for many different styles of response from serious to the jocular. Yes I used the word “jocular”; only because it is a word you seldom see these days, much like “happenstance”. Don’t worry I won’t use “happenstance” today but only because I couldn’t figure out where to work it in. There’s always tomorrow.
When I thought about Paul’s question and the possible real life responses I said to myself (I do that a lot the older I get) this sounds like it would require something embarrassing, a mistake or a regret from one’s past. My personal philosophical take on this is that if one is happy with one’s life or circumstances then can you really say that anything that transpired in your personal history was a mistake. If you could go back and make changes to your past then it could and very likely would have dire consequences on the present and therefore the future. If you said that you are not happy with your present circumstances then you could make those changes by going back to school, for example. I noticed that some of the members have done just that after retirement from their careers. This thinking rather ruled out “mistake” from any response I might undertake to write.
I do wish I could have made some sort of humorous reply, however a lack of any appreciable sense of humour on my part would make that an impossibility. I blame a lack of comic ability on my rather stoic British/Germanic upbringing, which at times was rather Dickensian in nature, to say the least. That old “stiff upper lip” and “staying the course” or simply “man up” has left me the rather bland and linear thinking person you see today. Just so you know, we anal retentive people tend to prefer “linear thinking” as a term to describe ourselves.
I was left with regret as a subject for a response but felt that this would only serve to “pirate” Paul’s post somewhat; therefore, I decided to write this message as a blog.
Around Christmas time, several years hence, a very good friend of mine passed away. We were extremely close and shared in numerous adventures including hunting and fishing as well as just “hanging out” together. His passing had a devastating effect on me, not so much that he is no longer with us, which is a deep sadness, but because I never got to tell him something I think was very important. Perhaps you know what I mean. There never was a correct time or place; we were either having too much of a good time to possibly ruin the moment or the moment was too serious or sad to bring up what might have been an awkward subject. Now my close friend has gone to his grave and I can never tell him that which I agonized over for many years.
I so wish I had simply blurted it out regardless of the situation or the atmosphere of the moment. Sadly my dog died never knowing he was adopted.
Merry Christmas everyone!
This time, I want to get simething a bit different from the Romanian military history, and discuss about its allued from the first part of WW2, Germany and its tanks. Not any german tanks, but the huge projects P.1000 "Ratte" (the Rat) and P.1500 "Monster". Hitler, being a veteran of the Great War, had an obsession for oversized weapons, such as the Maus super-heavy tank, "Gustav" and "Dora" 800mm supercanons, the "Flack Towers" and many others. From this obsession were also born the projects for P1000 and P1500.
Landkreuzer P.1000 "Ratte"
The Ratte is known for its enormous size: it would have weighed 1,000 tonnes, five times the weight of the Panzer VIII Maus. The divided weight of the Ratte included 300 tonnes of armament (the total weight of the guns themselves was 100 tonnes, so turret armour would have weighed 200 tonnes), 200 tonnes of armour and frame and 100 tonnes of track and automotive components, while remaining weight would be distributed to miscellaneous features. It was planned to be 35 m (115 ft) long (39 metres (128 ft) when including naval guns), 11 m (36 ft) high and 14 m (46 ft) wide. To compensate for its immense weight, the Ratte would have been equipped with three 1.2 m (3 ft 11 in) wide and 21 m (69 ft) long treads on each side with a total tread width of 7.2 m (23 ft 7 in). This would help stability and weight distribution, but the vehicle's sheer mass would have destroyed roads and rendered bridge crossings next to impossible. It was expected that its height, and its ground clearance of 2 m (6.6 ft), would have allowed it to ford most rivers with relative ease, thus eliminating the need for bridge crossings. Planned propulsion was by two MANV12Z32/44 24-cylinder marine diesel enginesof 6,300 kW (8,400 hp) each (as used in U-boats) or eight Daimler-Benz MB 501 20-cylinder marine diesel engines of 1,500 kW (2,000 hp) each (as used in E-boats) to achieve the 12,000 kW (16,000 hp) needed to move this tank. The engines were to be provided with snorkels, also like those used by German submarines. The snorkels were designed to provide a way for oxygen to reach the engine, even during amphibious operations passing through deep water. The Ratte's primary weapon would have been a dual 280 mm SK C/28 gun turret. This was the same turret that was used on the German capital ship Gneisenau but modified by removing one of the guns and its associated loading mechanism. Removing the third gun allowed extra accommodation of ammunition, and reduced the total weight of the tank by 50 tonnes. The guns used for the Ratte would have fired ammunition developed for other naval guns. It also included armour-piercing rounds with 8.1 kg (18 lb) of explosive filler, and high-explosive rounds with 17.1 kg (38 lb) of explosive filler. Further armament was to consist of a 128 mm anti-tank gun of the type used in the Jagdtiger or Maus, two 15 mm Mauser MG 151/15 autocannons, and eight 20 mm Flak 38 anti-aircraft guns, probably with at least four of them as a Flakvierling quad mount. The 128 mm anti-tank gun's precise location on the Ratte is a point of contention among historians, most believing that it would have been mounted within the primary turret, with some others thinking a smaller secondary turret at the rear of the Ratte more logical. Some concept drawings exist to suggest a flexible mount on the glacis plate. The tank was to be provided with a vehicle bay that could hold two BMW R12 motorcycles for scouting, and several smaller storage rooms, a compact infirmary area, and a self-contained lavatory system. The large size and weight would have rendered the tank unable to cross bridges at the risk of collapsing them, and travelling on roads would soon destroy them. Though its top intended speed was 40 kilometres per hour, its huge size and high visibility would have made it extremely vulnerable to aerial bombardment and artillery fire. Its great size would also have made it nearly impossible to transport—no existing railway or train car could bear its weight and its width was too great for existing tunnels.
Landkreuzer P.1500 "Monster"
This "land cruiser" was a self-propelled platform for the 800mm Schwerer Gustavartillery piece also made by Krupp—the heaviest artillery weapon ever constructed by shell weight and total gun weight, and the largest rifled cannon by calibre. This gun fired a 7-tonne projectile up to 37 km (23 miles) and was designed for use against heavily fortified targets. The Landkreuzer P. 1500 Monster was to be 42 m (138 ft) long, weighing 1500 tonnes, with a 250 mm hull front armor, four MAN U-boat (submarine) marine diesel engines, and an operating crew of over 100 men. The main armament was to be an 800 mm Dora/Schwerer Gustav K (E) gun, and with a secondary armament of two 150 mm sFH 18/1 L/30 howitzers and multiple 15 mm MG 151/15 autocannons. The main armament could have been mounted without a rotating turret, making the vehicle a self-propelled gunrather than a tank. Such a configuration would have allowed the P. 1500 to operate in a similar manner to the original 800mm railroad gun and Karl 600mm self-propelled mortars, launching shells without engaging the enemy with direct fire.
Development of the Panzer VIII Maus had highlighted significant problems associated with very large vehicles, such as their destruction of roads/rails, their inability to use bridges and the difficulty of strategic transportation by road or rail. The bigger the vehicle, the bigger these problems became. Propulsion had also proved problematic in the development of the Maus: The prototype had failed to meet its specified speed requirements which meant that even larger vehicles such as the P. 1500 were likely to be slow-moving.