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.
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 ?
THE PLOT THICKENS......
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.
(i AM PAUSING AT THIS POINT TO SEE IF ANYONE WOULD LIKE ME TO CONTINUE. i THOUGHT AT WEEKLY
INTERVALS ? DON'T BE FRIGHTENED OF TELLING ME TO B........ OFF !
ALSO , I HOPE IT WILL GIVE MANY MORE MEMBERS THOUGHTS OF THEIR OWN BLOG - 2ND BUTTON AT TOP)
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.
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)
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.
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 ;-).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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...
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...
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).
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.
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.
In December 2009, I set for myself the goal of collecting at least one item (medals, postcards, death cards, photos, shoulder straps, militarpass, etc) from each Imperial German Artillery regiment and other Artillery units, both Feld-Artillerie and Fuss-Artillerie. This clearly is a daunting task considering the number of German Artillery regiments (Prussian, Bavarian, active, reserve) and the number of separate battalions, batteries, and munitions columns.
As of March 2011, I have collected 59 regiments and 15 other Artillery units, as well as several photos and postcards from unknown units representing the guns and uniforms of the Imperial German Artillery. I have also added several Austrian, British, French, and American units and artillery pieces to the mix.
There is still a long, long way to go and I am looking for any artillery-related items of Imperial Germany. This blog hopefully will document my search for these many regiments.
Well, as promised, I've begun my new Czechoslovakian gallery. The medal I received yesterday, "For Merit in the Peoples' Militia", began the new gallery. Will add more over the next day or two- I really don't have many Czech pieces.
Thanks for the comments on my first entry. For IrishGunner (I am, by the way, also Irish; Hiberno-Norse- fair haired, family from West Cork, all of that), Beirut is kind of a sore spot with me as it led to the end of my stay in the Navy- which I still miss on many levels. In a nut shell, I was off the USS New Jersey and at the wrong place at the wrong time, boom, heart stopped twice, 3 day MEDEVAC to Naples, during my stay there the barracks went up (boom, again, but I wasn't there for that one- lost a shipmate, though), transferred to Bethesda, about six to nine months in-patient, moved to Special Services in Anacostia and out-patient status, hearing judged my complete recovery would take too long, out of the Navy with a one-time disability severance check and two and a half years outpatient at the Washington VA Hospital. To that point, I had survived being shot at at all sorts of exotic locations: the Philippines (New Peoples' Army reconnaissance, primarily), Nicaragua, El Salvador (what a mess!), Panama and Grenada.