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  • Brian Wolfe

    An Apology - of sorts

    By Brian Wolfe

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

Memories of World War 2 - Part 4

OK - I've dallied enough - time to get on with part 4 ! I expect most of you are familiar with Blogs - I'm not, and I find it
very strange typing these old memories into space - and having no real idea if anyone is reading them - or, more
importantly - finding them of the slightest interest ? I don't expect comments, but , it would be nice if there was a counter.
I would like to just say, that I have found a few Google pictures of things I am referring to - I will post where appropriate.
I can't find my early photo albums - which is a pity. Please remember, that I am writing this from the viewpoint of a small child - there was history being made all around me that I was not aware of at that time.


So,what was the terrible surprise my Grandmother made for me ? A small uniform of an aircraftsman in the RAF. It had a tunic, trousers and the sidecap - and the trousers were held up with tape in a bow at the front. More of that later. All small
boys in Britain were put into these type of uniform - it showed our support for the troops. Why the RAF - they were the ones fighting on a daily basis to defend Britain and were the heroes of the hour.

This is what you musn't overlook - whilst it was the 'phony' war in Europe, England was being bombed on a daily basis.
These were daylight raids and this was the Battle of Britain. Basically, they were aiming for the docks and industrial areas and we were not too badly affected - although many houses were hit when they missed - or, just dropped their bombs without caring. We were always kept close to home - and of course, at this time I was not at school.

There were virtually no cars on the roads - mainly military vehicles. My Father had obtained a bicycle and it had a child's seat on the back - I remember sitting behind when he took me for a haircut. Aircraft overhead were common and I often
saw aerial dog-fights - we would all cheer for ours and I remember seeing one shot-down - to a small boy that was a dose of reality.


Britain was just so short of everything - every park had it's railings cut down to be melted. Didn't matter - no-one went out at night. I remember my Mother's Grandmother being ill and we had to catch a bus. Total darkness - torches had to have a cover with the tiniest of slits - buses had a tiny light inside and the headlamps also, had tiny slits. We made it, but
my Mother stayed the night, I was too frightened to go back in the dark. I was only about 3 1/2. I was not to see street lamps or, cars with headlights until after VDAY in 1945.

Aluminium was the sought after metal - we needed it for aircraft. People would come to the door asking for old saucepans -
in the end my Mother had to say no, and hung onto what we had.

Because we lived just outside of Central London no-one - as far as I remember - had air raid shelters. We had practise of going into the cupboard under the stairs - which the ARP Wardens said was safest (Air Raid Precautions). Apart from these incidents, life went on as normal for a small child. This was to shortly change.

One point I would like to make - Britain had double summertime during the War - this meant that the clocks were put back 2 hours to take advantage of daylight. That meant it was light at 4 a.m. and in summer dark at 8p.m. However, in Winter
it meant we were in total darkness by 2-3p.m. in the afternoon.


Normal regulations were suspended to allow the keeping of poultry - also, people were encouraged to support the War Effort and grow their own vegetables. We had a small flock of about 8 or 9 Ducks - about a dozen hens , which of course only lay in the Summer. Forget eggs at other times - we are all spoilt today with battery chickens. A chicken was a luxury food that was not rationed and my parents had to learn how to kill and prepare one. How many people could do that today ? We would have one on very special occasions. We also kept rabbits. This was a problem - I grew too fond of them and played-up when one was to be killed. I was allowed to keep one white one - and he actually won a small cup - which I still have over 70 years later !

To preserve eggs over the winter my Father had buckets filled with Isinglass in the spare bedroom. They didn't taste like eggs we know, but that was how they were preserved. I have no idea what Isinglass was. He also obtained an incubator
and at the right time would put eggs in to hatch and we raised them in the garden.

With the two gardens opened-up - the fence was taken down between them - we had potatoes and all of the green and root vegs. I have read articles in later years that say this was the most nutritious food the British had eaten and we were stronger and fitter for the limited diet. You rarely saw obese people - not like today will all the fatty foods.

We certainly needed to supplement our food rations. I think at this time an adult - on his ration book , got about three rashers of bacon a week. Butter was about 2 0zs. (64 gms.) eggs - 1 or 2 a week, Meat about 4 ozs a week (125gms.).
Of course ration books were saved and therefore for meat , we could have a whole 3/4 of a lb between three people (375gms). My Grandmother was a great cook and remembered the meals from the 1st WW - when food had also been short. Eggs changed when America entered the War and started sending powdered eggs - we also got Spam - and I still like it.

One of the most strange memories for me is that I remember a grocer's shop before supermarkets and processed food.
Tins were on shelves at the back - a front food counter held the perishables - and biscuits were weighed from the tins they came-in. Oh, Yes ! You also queued for everything - meat, veggies, groceries, sweets. There was always a line outside - even early in the morning. And, when word went round that something that had been out of stock was back -
then see the women move. When I was in a push chair I could go as well, but after that it was too long for me to stand.


The Battle of Britain - despite horrendous for our young pilots, was won by the RAF - coming to a head when we shot down over 200 German planes in one day. Numbers are contested by both sides - but, it was something around that figure. The German Airforce could not sustain losses of that size and they changed tactics.

Flying at night was difficult in those days - pilots were never sure exactly where they were - hence the importance of no lights showing. From our point of view it also made it very difficult for our planes to locate the enemy. London was ringed with heavy ack-ack guns - 3,7" and also lighter 40mm Bofors guns for lower flying aircraft - strangely, 14 years later in Australia I was to be an instructor in Sydney on these light anti -aircraft guns. Giant searchlights were also installed to
support the ack-ack and when a beam caught a bomber all of the other lights closed-in as well. Then the guns opened-up. It was strange to see this small plane in the middle of the guns and puffs of smoke going off all around.

From Sept.7th. 1940 to 10th May 1941 - 76 consecutive nights - London was bombed by consecutive waves of German bombers. The damage was unbelievable - the casualties horrific. There was no quarter given to Civilians and it was this time that Children were permanently evacuated throughout Britian - some never to return home until after 1945. We left to an Uncle in Watford for a few weeks, but both my Mother and I had a 'meeting' and decided we would go home.

This was the period of the famous London Blitz. Many people left for outer areas at night - but we stayed put. Because - like many others , we had not installed a shelter, we were very vulnerable. The Germans were trying to hit the Pool of London - West India Docks - Deptford - Greenwich and Gravesend. However, in the dark they were very inaccurate and the houses and towns around were very badly hit. Several houses around us were hit and destroyed and many fell on a golf course which was at the end of our road.

I clearly remember my Father carrying me out of the shelter one night - that is when we had one - and the whole skyline from left to right was a a red colour. This was the famous night when London was nearly destroyed - when St. Paul's Cathedral stood alone in the flames - the night that is usually credited with British people saying - Enough - we will not be destroyed ! This was in December of 1940 - I was 4 years old - and I will never forget.

Next thrilling instalment on Wednesday - is there any one out there ?


Mervyn Mitton

Mervyn Mitton


The first piece - base piece - in the Artillery collection

I guess I better publish a new entry since my fellow bloggers are getting ahead I'm being left in the dust.


Some of you know - and others may have guessed - from my username of Irishgunner - that I am in fact a gunner. I'm coming to the end of a 30 year career as a Field Artilleryman in the US Army and that has started to color my collecting interests more and more. When I started collecting militaria, I really had no theme other than WWI. I was drawn to that period simply because I believe - as I am sure do others - that this was the pinnacle of ODM. Medals had to be earned and they carried considerable prestige. I think the appearance of the unofficial veterans medals in the inter-war period foreshadowed a gradual dilution of the meaning of military medals. That's not to say that later medals - even more modern awards - have no meaning. Certainly there is both value and honor to many medals today; especially wound and valor awards. But the Imperial period was the golden age for ODM in many ways. So, this is what has drawn me to primarily focus on ODM of the WWI combatants.

Initially, I was out to collect examples of every WWI-era medal that I could afford. Not without subtle meaning, my time spent on GMIC has gradually edged me towards more of a specialization. Combining my personal career as a gunner with the awards earned by my predecessors in WWI seemed like a natural progression. I will specifically credit Chris Boonzaier with planting these seeds with his Kaiserscross website. I started to think about an area in which to specialize and possibly create my own website, chronicaling the stories of the men who earned these awards. As I started doing research on some of my acquisitions, I realized there isn't really a consolidated source of information related to the German Imperial Artillery. And thus the idea to focus on that area germinated. There are many web and published sources - excellent sources - which I've mentioned in an earlier blog. But my idea was to consolidate some basic - and unique - information for the casual researcher. I decided to base that initial research upon items representing each regiment of the Imperial German Artillery.

And the base piece in this collection was actually acquired in 2006 - long before I decided to concentrate on Imperial German Artillery. A base piece in artillery terminology is the gun that is initially sighted (or laid) and whose fire is adjusted as necessary and then all other guns in the battery base their bearings upon this base piece. And I think my base piece is truly unique and appropriate for this endeavor.

My first acquired - and base - piece is a commemorative medal produced in 1914 for the 50 year anniversary of the Fußartillerie Regiment von Linger Nr. 1 (Ostpreußische). The regiment was organized on 16 June 1864 in Königsberg, East Prussia. It saw service in the Franco-Prussian War 1870/71 and of course, in WWI. Pure coincidence that this piece dates from before the war as far as my collection goes, but I think it's an excellent place to start as Europe edged toward war in that summer of 1914. And an excellent connection to the legacy of the Imperial German Artillery.

It foreshadows the coming storm of war and is a link to the proud lineage of the Prussian Army. I've researched some already of the 1. FuAR in WWI, but that will have to wait until I publish the website.




Memories of World War 2 - Part 3

My apologies to Irishgunner and to Frank, who I left off the list of regular bloggers , posted on the Lounge.
I was hoping to persuade a few more of our Members to join-in and make regular posts. Everyone has something happening
in their lives - let us be part of it ...............

Well, at the end of part 2 we had reached Dec. 1936. Neville Chamberlain was Prime Minister - King George 6th. was on the Throne - and Hitler was busy taking over bits of Europe that no-one was contesting.

War was declared by Britain against the German 3rd. Reich on September 1st. 1939 - the ostensible cause being Germany's invasion of Poland. I was at that time 2 3/4 years of age - so, you will forgive me if my memories are not too solid.

During this time Britain was not idle - our armed forces were being re-inforced - civil defense units were set-up and our police,ambulance and fire brigades were trained in possible future events management. The problem was that despite happenings in Europe no-one had any idea of the horrors that were to follow.

I have clear memories of my Mother making blackout curtains - one of the laid down civil defense measures. They were hung inside of normal curtains and had to be fully light proof. I can also remember being taken to the local clinic - with the proximity of war, essentials started to be in short supply and youngsters under a certain age were entitled to free orange juice and cod liver oil - I think I also had another unpleasant one called malt extract. We used to go to the clinic every 2 weeks and I enjoyed seeing the other youngsters.

During this period my Father was badly ill with a duodenal ulcer and spent nearly three months in hospital with an operation. I can remember being taken to see him regularly, either by my Mother or, Grandmother. My Mother did not work , as was normal in those days. Probably such an ulcer would not be so serious today - however, the drugs were not invented then to deal with it. He was left poorly for a long time and I don't think ever fully recovered. He was not allowed to be 'called-up' as it was termed then and died in 1974 at 64 years old.


I have very clear memories of the thousands of troops travelling down the Rochester Way - which we overlooked, going to Dover and embarkation to France. Part of the BEM - British Expeditionary Force. I was too young to go down the wooded slope to the road - but did on many other occasions. Tanks - on the backs of lorries would take ages to go past - they were slow. The soldiers often stopped and the men came-up to our row of houses for water - again, I clearly remember my Mother and Grandmother - and all the other ladies making sandwiches and tea - leaving everyone short but, this was important.

Neither side seemed in a hurry to engage and there was the period known as the 'phony war'. Nearly our entire army was in France and Belgium and yet there was no real fighting. This was to change with the attacks on Belgium and Holland - and our army retreated towards Dunkirk (UK spelling). From May 26 to June 4 1940 our army was evacuated by the great armada of small boats, ferries and old warships. I was 3 1/2 now and understood a lot more. I can sense now the worry in my parents - everyone was listening to radios all the time and I can remember the men in the area having meetings - although many of the younger ones had gone to join-up. When the call for volunteers was given on the radio all of this groups went to Gravesend to try and help. I believe some did go as crew to France - Father was rejected as being not fit enough, This upset him for many years to come.


So, this was it. We were in grave danger and invasion was a real possibility. With the frightening example of Rotterdam all adults knew civilians would not be spared. Evacuation for children out of London became a reality - my Mother refused to let me go - and we didn't think we were in danger as Blackheath was the other side of Greenwich and about 10 or 12 miles from Central London. How wrong we were !

Humans are a strange species - we can read signs better then most and knew the possibilities. However, life has to go on and even the Wall's ice cream man still used to visit once or, twice a week. The cycle had a big insulated container on the front and we all waited patiently for him - he wasa lovely old man - used to tell us about the 1 st WW.
What had changed was that rationing had come into force - food, furniture, clothing - even cigarettes and drink - were now on a points system and we all had a ration book with the coupons for different periods. Even sweets had gone - I think they were what I missed most.

Another thought - we had to go to the local school to collect gasmasks - it was compulsory to carry them at all times. I can remember my childs' version - the bit over the face was of mickey mouse.

Oh yes ! There was one other piece of equipment I was given by my Grandmother - that will be in the next installment...... I will try for Sunday.

Mervyn Mitton

Mervyn Mitton


Addicted to medals...

I did it again... SIGH...

Bought over a dozen Russian medals... Then bought 1/2 a dozen Belgian medals (and Orders)... Then bought 1/2 a dozen German medals... All within a 48 hour period...

I MUST learn to control myself.

Seems items I am missing (needing ) all suddenly and simultaneously appear! The wife will F-R-E-A-K if I can't intercept my VISA bill next week...




21 September 2011

My first of two days off after two fairly hellish days at "the pen". Imagine being surrounded by 1200+ very needy persons of the female persuasion, the median age being around 26-32 and the median weight being around 150-190. Not a pretty picture. Oh yeah, and we all know from biology class that men are "xy" chromosome and women are "xx" chromosome... well let me tell you that there are many, MANY variations between these two "poles". Whew! But, enough of that.

The main images in my USSR gallery are in place (at long last); now to the more civilian items and the more obscure things. I'm putting up several images now, some of which are rarely seen such as the Volunteer Police badge from Georgia SSR (with doc). Have a look. By the way, does anyone but me know there are 3 Americans buried at the Kremlin? Yep, they are: John Reed (journalist and early American Communist), Charles Ruthenberg (a founder and leader of the American Communist Party) and Bill Haywood (well, part of his ashes are at the Kremlin; the rest are in Chicago), who formed the Industrial Workers of the World. Just thought I'd throw that in.

Got a chance to take some initial images for the Bulgarian gallery I hope to start. Most of my Bulgarian medals are "new/old stock"; probably never issued, bought from warehouses after 1991 and sold- this is not the case with the badges. However, everything is the genuine article.

Well, let me get to it...

Greg Collins

Greg Collins


Memories of World War 2 - Part 2.

Well - that was a surprise - I got my two readers - so, I have no excuse not to continue !


I was born in early December of 1936 - I didn't know it, but I was to be an only child. Like many married couples my parent's feared the war and held off adding to the family. A pity, I would always have liked a brother or, sister.

From both sides of the family there were military people. My Grandfather had been a senior NCO with the Leicestershire Regt. and was commissioned as a Captain/Quartermaster in 1914 with the Gloucestershire Regt.. He left with the rank of Major. My Father had three brothers - one a regular army officer - one a leading stockbroker - and the other one went to Singapore in 1935 and was missing from the family until 1956. A story for another time. My paternal Grandfather died in 1933 - paralysed - we believe from WW1.
My Father being the youngest son had to stay at home to help my Grandmother look after him.

The Mitton side of the family goes back to the 7th Century - we were invading Angles - later to be joined by the Saxons.
The word Angle - a tribe who settled in Scandinavia from central Russia - gave the name England. My name means the junction of two rivers and that was where the tribe settled in Shropshire. The village of Mitton still exists, as does the Manor House and the local pub - The Myton and Mermaid. Phoentic spelling gives differences - but, we are all related -
although I must say I have never visited - just too many generations apart.

The above picture shows my Father as a 4 year old (born in 1910) - at the front. My Grandparents - the one on the left is Arthur - at the back is George - who went missing - and not in the picture is the eldest brother who had joined-up. My Grandmother was born in India in 1873 and I have recently discovered that her Father at that time was a Sergeant in the Essex Regt. - I have never found out his final rank. She often spoke to me in Hindustani and I still remember a few words.
I have no idea what his final rank was. He was of Welsh descent and in deference to this I was named Mervyn. This is
one of the oldest name in Welsh and means 'son of the sea' - I think I was badly named - I've nearly drowned three times in my life and am not at all fond of water - the exception being that it should be shallow and about the usual temp.
of my bath ! I find Kenya ideal.

When I was born, my Father was involved in horticulture and we lived next door to my Grandmother - a pair of the big 1930 's semi-detached houses that you could buy for about 500 pounds - $ 750. We lived just outside of Bexleyheath - this was originally a country market town and the nearest big centre was probably the City of Rochester. Actually, not a
big place - however, it has a Cathedral and is therefore a City. A very quiet area with not that many houses - we were in a single row, that ran along the top of a steep wooded embankment - at the bottom of this was the Rochester Way.
The embankment and the main road will feature as it was the main road to Dover - a main embarkation point for troops.
This happened in1939/40 and again in 1944 with the re-invasion of France.

So, you now know a little about me - where I lived , and my immediate family.

Now - we get to the important bit - December 6th , 1936 - ME !

You will have to wait - with bated breath - for the next instalment .

Mervyn Mitton

Mervyn Mitton


18 September 2011

Had a fairly uneventful weekend... largely overcast with temps in the 60's, which is a big change. Will probably heat back up prior to going cold for the winter. Had a couple of aftershocks (when will this end?). The rest of the chimney went with the one this morning- glad I wasn't standing under it! Anyway, had some time to pluck on the 12 string and shoot a bunch of images for a couple of galleries- my USSR and Mongolian galleries to be precise. These are still works in progress, although the Mongolian is just about finished (at least for now). Hope to begin the Bulgarian gallery soon.

Back to work tomorrow- not looking forward to it at all. Many changes; and most, I fear, will not work out at all. And a whole lot of work will go down the tubes before management comes to the realization that most criminals just don't care to "go straight". Most really do have contempt for society and the laws enacted... OK, I'll get off the "soapbox" now. Still, it is a paycheck and these are some rough times (worst I've seen, and I've been around since 1954). More later...

Greg Collins

Greg Collins



When Nick first told us a few weeks ago that he was setting up a special Blog for GMIC members - I must be honest and
say my first thoughts were - ' whatever for - we have the Forum' for that purpose'

Well, I've thought it over, I've read the blogs from other members and have enjoyed them - and now I agree with him, that this gives us a freedom of expression that is not available on the open Forums. Thinking of a subject has been difficult - but, I do
wish to support Nick - he runs the backbone of this special Forum almost singlehanded - the Mods. are mainly his
watchdogs and committee.

I would like to make it clear to anyone who does read this, that it is new to me. I have made a few pages of notes with regard to early memories - but, that's it ! I am - like many of our members - a published author in the non.fiction World and this does give me an advantage as I enjoy the expressiveness of English and it's descriptive abilities. However, as with my posts on GMIC I write as I go along - I rarely do a lot of research - therefore, I will have the odd spelling mistake - or, go off track.
As I write memories will come back so, I may well go off at a tangent to explain a point. Bear with me - you may even find this old history interesting ?


So, my heading says 'Memories of World War 2 ' . Your first reaction could well be - but, it's all been done before -
everbody and his dog have written-up the battles - the regiments - the heroes. Well, that is what GMIC is all about, so at least I know I will have knowledgeable readers. Well, probably all one or, two of you ?

There is one important detail you have missed - in 2 months I will hit the distinguished old age of 75 ! I was born in December 1936 - and am therefore in a unique position of being able to cover ' my bit of the War ' from the perspective of a small boy who lived in London for the entire 5 years of WW2.


Mervyn Mitton

Mervyn Mitton




When Nick first mentioned that he was setting up a Blog for members to post personal militaria related material - I
thought - 'whatever for - this is what GMIC does every day'.

Well, I've given it serious consideration - have read other contributions, which I enjoyed, and have now decided on a subject. I am wondering if it will be interesting enough for members to want to visit regularly - however, like all things in life - if you don't make an effort - you will never know.


Mervyn Mitton

Mervyn Mitton


Down time :-((

Only able to log in at work for quick looks... Somehow my computer at home has no online connection... at least it does, but only for a few minutes till the connection breaks down.

Guy from the telephone company comes monday to repair it, so will be back fully then... after I get back from the dentist.

Never rains but it pours!

Chris Boonzaier

Chris Boonzaier


12 September 2011

Ha! Completed mowing today (it takes me longer than most because of my skin is beyond white- almost ghostly- I cannot tan at all, so I have to wait for overcast or near sundown), managed to get a haircut (I seem to grow hair thicker and faster in my old age- weird), and photographed my USSR "Capture of..." medals for the gallery. Will work on those tonight and, hopefully post later or tomorrow. Finished the PMR gallery as I had planned and have been furiously working on the USSR gallery (have a look). I'm enjoying it all but it does take time, the one commodity I find I have decidedly less of these days (and the one you don't get back and cannot replace).

Another weirdness about me (for anyone who cares); I'm a news junkie. If I watch nothing else on T.V., I will watch the news (I'm probably far more boring than I think I am). Anyway, the primary news shows I watch are, in order:

-RT (formerly Russia Today)

-France 24

-Al Jazeera

Occasionally, I'll watch DW (Deutsche Welle), EuroNews (from Spain) and NHK (Japan), but I watch the top three I listed at least twice a day. So I guess other than working for a paycheck, being a husband and caring for animals, my life boils down to: politics, collecting, making music, watching the news, art/photography and watching movies/series. Hmmmm, actually not bad in the scheme of things.

More later...

Greg Collins

Greg Collins


9 September 2011

Well, I did it again... got up at 0330, went through my normal routine (the stars of which are coffee and cigarettes- a fifth food group in my home), got to work by 0520, only to find out I asked for and was given the weekend off some months ago. Senility has set-in FIRMLY, I'm afraid. Anyway, turned on my heel and went back home (short drive, at least). Embarrassing, but happy to be off.

Used some of the time to continue the re-working of my PMR gallery, which I hope to have completed by tomorrow, and to begin my Mongolian gallery (5 images, so far- have a look). It seems all my galleries with the exception of the Czechoslovakian and the CPRF galleries are works in progress. But, hey, I'm not going anywhere (at least I'm not planning to) so we keep photographing and posting. So far I've posted, maybe, 4-5% of what's lying around.

Oh yeah, it's become a jungle here with all the rain of late. Gotta hop on the mower at some point tomorrow and cut the acre we live on; used to do it with a push mower, but my wife wanted to keep me around a few more years ;-).

Greg Collins

Greg Collins


Tags & Prefixes

Many of you may have noticed the Tags box (and in some areas a prefix box) on the posting form which has replaced the sub title area. Sub Titles in topics are no longer supported and I therefore have added a Tags and Prefixes module. At the current time I am starting to test this within certain areas of the forum.

For members information this is work in progress and unless there is a requirement to enter pre configured tags or prefixes then please for the moment ignore the boxes as you can't create or input tags or prefixes unless they are pre configured.

For those of you who use the Imperial German Section you may find that you are required to input a prefix or tags. In the case of prefixes there can only be one choice and you should choose the most relevant prefix for the topic being posted. As for tags you can add multiple tags but a minimum of one is required and again these should be keywords which highlight the topic content.

The purpose of tags and prefixes is to categories topics by the use of keywords which then enables you as members to quickly and easily search for other related material which also has the same tags or prefixes. For example in Imperial German Medals, the Prefixes categories the topic into States or Duchies. In the Imperial Uniforms and Equipment forum the tags categories the content further i.e. uniform, helmet, insignia etc. If you then click on a prefix or tag it should automatically sort and list topics with the same prefix this can then be further sorted by clicking on tags.

Any questions just ask.




7 September 2011

After an earthquake and a near brush with a hurricane within a couple days of each other, the mail seems to be catching up... at least for now (heard that they are having incredible cash flow issues on the news last night). Anyway, got a few new items to add. A couple of documents from a friend stationed in the Republic of Georgia including a Georgia SSR Volunteer Police (Drushzinik) badge and doc- the badge is very Georgian in design (had not seen one before) and the doc still contains the bearer's photo. Also received a couple of early Hungarian items I won at our favorite (!?) auction site; a 1949 Excellent Worker badge- predates the Rakosi seal, and a 1952 Sztahanovista badge with miniature. Both of these are numbered and very well worth what I won them for. Will post to the respective galleries soon.

The remnants of Hurricane Lee turned north the other day and is making my area of Virginia a bog (whoa, another aftershock just hit). Am a bit concerned with the approach of Katia; really hope she turns north while well off the coast. Everything is so soaked that any rain she might bring will cause massive flooding and trees will just fall over. Won't be pretty. Weather has really been "dicey" this year...

Well, I'll begin this 2-days-off period by going to Wally World and commiserating with the great unwashed (here, that's pretty literal)- need food; fridge nearly empty. Take care.

Greg Collins

Greg Collins



As the UK prepares for HM The Queen's Diamond Jubilee, I've started musing on which milestones various nations commemorate by issuing medals.

In the UK, it is the events relating to the Sovereign's reign: Coronations and Jubilees (along with a few state visits and Durbars, back when foreign travel, even if you happen to be a King, was a very big deal).

In Sweden, another constitutional monarchy, they have a different approach. The milestones they mark with a medal are very personal - significant birthdays of their monarch, weddings and wedding anniversaries... and even funerals. There's nothing about their monarch's connection with the nation. The award of such medals is also more personal: family members and people who organise or attend celebrations for whatever milestone is being marked being the only recipients.

Norway does both: there are birthday AND reign anniversary medals! Medals were issued to mark King Haakon VII's Coronation (1906), Silver Jubilee (1933), Gold Jubilee (1955) and his 70th birthday. Thailand too marks a mixture of State and personal milestones in their Royal Family's lives with the issue of medals - adding such occasions as the investiture of a Crown Prince to the expected coronations, jubilees and birthdays; along with one to mark 'The Longest Reign' in 1988.

As well as a fine memorial of Royal history, these series of medals give a fascinating insight as to the role of the monarchy in different countries around the world... and probably scope for a whole book not just a blog entry!




From: Blogs

There is a way to promote blogs within forum topics so that if there is relevant information in a blog which might benefit that topic it can be linked. I am working on setting it up. I see the blogs as a more detailed and personalised method of publishing information. Forum topics may be a range of members expressing views over a particular item or point of fact. A blog is an individuals personalised account with the only interaction being members who comment on what has been published. The forum is for ongoing debate and conversation, whereas the blog is very much a one sided affair. Source: Blogs




How many Imperial German Artillery regiments were there?

This is a tough question since a definitive list is elusive. The regiments existing prior to August 1914 are well known. On the Prussian side there were 89 Feld-Artillerie Regiments (FAR), 22 Fuss-Artillierie Regiments (FuAR), and several corresponding Reserve regiments. In Bavaria, there were an additional 12 FAR and 3 FuAR. (Of course, this is not even precise, as I've seen in Cron and Jager the numbers add up +/- one or two regiments.)

It is the war-raised units that make a complete list difficult; both regiments and separate battalions. Then there are the munitions columns, which add an exponential number to the problem. And let's not forget the Matrosen Artillerie units of the Navy. Pouring through 251 Divisions shows many high numbered regiments; however, without a unit index it's time-consuming to pull together a list. I've started this task, but like all things, other priorities push it far to the bottom of my to-do list.

I was going to mention my highest number regiment collected so far; however, when I tried to open the spreadsheet that lists all of my Artillery items (including where/when purchased and how much paid), the file was corrupted and unrecoverable! Of course, this is a huge catastrophe because I have no back-up file. Guess what is now on my to-do list.




Open question to the GMIC membership - Russian Federation ODMs

One particular question has been nagging at me for years now, I would really appreciate input from as many of you as possible. Please answer honestly without fear of insult (because it's my particular field of interest).

I am a member of multiple militaria and phaleristics forums worldwide, one common point among all of these is the apparent lack of interest in anything and everything to do with modern day Russia. Tsarist and Soviet ODMs are still hot, but as soon as the wall came crashing down, so did the interest in what came next... I for one was drawn like a magnet to this completely new and unexplored field of collecting but seem to be a member of a minuscule group...

So here's my question:





Major surprise! Major disappointment! Ongoing frustration!

The Soviet Union is gone, it's been gone for 20 years now. The Russian Federation's ODM system was quickly reworked, minor changes here and there have improved it over the years, then in 2010 came the major amendment that completely severed all ties to the old Soviet ODMs.

I started looking into modern Russian awards just over 5 years ago and was astounded at how little data was available in the West, so I turned my attention to the East joining multiple Russian phaleristics forums. What I found was the merest trace of any serious research or correlation of data. I found most Russian collectors had no notion of the terms we use in the West, namely "official" and "unofficial". Their collecting interests are centered around themes, naval, air, space etc. They will collect anything and everything even remotely associated to their chosen theme with little if any care whether the piece is official or a mere souvenir made for the collector market. At the risk of sounding a bit condescending (and it isn't my intention), most are "amassers" vice collectors IMHO. To each is own I guess...

You can well imagine my surprise and frustration when I discovered I had accumulated more info than they collectively had! I went there seeking assistance and guidance, exactly the opposite happened! I showed up with ODMs they had never seen or heard of, I showed up with ministerial orders officializing awards they didn't believe were real or even knew existed, I proved many of there prized collectables were nothing more than mere baubles. I ended up educating most of them on there own ODM system!! To this very day I'm often their source of official decrees and orders on ODMs! I'm still at a loss to explain that...

Shocking and frustrating...

I decided to put together Wikipedia pages to catalog everything and share the research in order to promote interest in modern Russian ODMs. My pages contained 10 times what the Russian Wikipedia pages had. Within a year, most Russian Wiki pages were linked to mine! When requesting info on Russian forums, I was directed to my own research on Wiki!! Frustrating as H... What did this tell me? I was it. If anybody else had researched modern Russian ODMs in depth, he sure was keeping it a secret!

Then the realities of Wikipedia set in... Morons changing stuff at will, skewing the data, changing translations according to their personnal interpretations, no respect whatsoever for other peoples' research... It got to be too much for me and I abandonned Wiki utterly disgusted with the entire experience. In retrospect, that's what Wiki is, I should've never gone there in the first place and should've made my own web pages but was too eager to share the data and believed Wiki the best place for that. I should've found a publisher and written a book! But I never seemed to have acquired enough data, there was always something new popping up on a weekly if not daily basis! Only just very recently have I had the feeling at having reached a point where a book might be warranted, having reached the 95+% mark of what's out there.

When I say the 95+% mark, I'm talking about 500+ "official" awards from the State, ministries, departments, federal agencies... I've wanted to make a multilingual web site (English, French, German, Russian) for a while now containing everything I had amassed on the subject, then thought how great all of this would look in a book (in all 4 languages). But I simply do not have the time...

Oh well... Maybe one day.




4 September 2011

Basically a slow Sunday... managed to get a few things done around the house and get my uniform ready for work tomorrow (yes, most folks have the day off). Did manage to finish- at least to date- my Czechoslovakian gallery (have a look) and also added some images to my Hungarian gallery (look there, as well). The PMR (Pridnestrovie) gallery is up-to-date although there are a few items (documents) coming in the mail. I need to get back to work on my USSR gallery, as well as begin the Mongolian and Bulgarian galleries AND the DDR gallery, which will be HUGE.

Work is going to be a drag tomorrow. 12 hours of the usual needy women plus visitation (it's a holiday, after all), staff shortages (ongoing), getting the trash off the compound, getting offender workers paid, and the usual lock-ups, fights, medical runs, etc... all the fun you can possibly have between 0545 and 1815. Oh well, it's a paycheck.

Hope everyone has a great Labour Day (I still celebrate mine on May 1st).

Greg Collins

Greg Collins


Forum Home Page Changing

I have been working this evening on bringing a new home page to GMIC. Essentially, in the not too distant future the home page of www.gmic.co.uk will change to a portal type page. The portal will have a selection of highlights displaying recent topics, blog pages,articles and links. The forum index page as you know it will still exist, but will be moved to a new URL. That way if you do not like the portal page to launch your daily dose of GMIC, you can still access the old forum index as it looks today.

The new portal will give a fresh overview for the forum and allow new members and guests to quickly see what we are about. It will also be a good way of playing catch up with whats new at a glance.




Regimental histories and references

One interesting aspect of this endeavor is an attempt to piece together some history of the Imperial German Artillery during the First World War. Of course, many of the regiments, particularly those with lineages existing before August 1914, published a written history of the regiment's wartime service. These are also highly collectible and I have three regimental histories already in my collection; 4. FAR, 49. FAR, 7. Bayr. FAR. There are many more out there and I'm always on the watch to add new volumes. There are also Das Ehrenbuch der Deutschen Feldartillerie and Das Ehrenbuch der Deutschen Schweren Artillerie, which include references to many regiments. Unfortunately, I still don't have these volumes. Like all collectors, my wish list seems longer than my holdings list!

It's often said, buy the book first and I wholeheartedly agree. Other references are useful for gaining an understanding of the basic organization of the Artillery within the German Army and of the guns with which the batteries were armed. My basic library includes the following books and I recommend this as a basic starting bibliography for the Imperial German Artillery enthusiast:

Imperial German Army 1914-18; Hermann Cron
Handbook of the German Army, 1918; British General Staff
Handbook of Imperial Germany; Robinson and Robinson
251 Divisions of the German Army; US Army G2
Artillerie im 20. Jahrhundert; Franz Kosar
German Artillery of World War One; Herbert Jager

Certainly, this list is not exhaustive; simply a good starting point. Any suggestions of references specifically related to German Artillery are greatly welcomed in the comments.