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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      

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.




Collecting Imperial German Artillery Regiments

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.




Medal for Fire Safety in Critical Public Facilities

I've only recently positively identified this medal as an official EMERCOM award when I found Ministerial Order 620 of December 6, 2010 amending its award criteria.

I still haven't found the original ministerial order establishing it. Any help would be greatly appreciated!




3 September 2011

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.

Back to working with images...

Greg Collins

Greg Collins


Blog Skin

I am still working on the final skin (the appearance and colour scheme) for the blog area. It may take a few days to tweak it so don't worry if things don't look quite right just yet !




On Going Development: Classified & For Sale Section and Poll on Currency of Sale

I am currently working on adding a new modification to support the sales section which should make selling militaria and browsing what is for sale a better experience.

A little while back I tested a modification which had a number of issues around its performance, especially with Microsoft Internet Explorer. (Microsoft Internet Explorer is worthy of a entry on its own, the number of issues that this browser since IE7 has caused me over the years I have lost count with). Since that time the modification has been updated significantly. However one area which need more work on is whether to advertise in a single currency and then in the text of the advert specify prices in different currency and specify what currency is preferred payment. I.e. advertise all sales in GBP but in the text show Euro and or Dollar price and preferred method of payment. Th alternative which I am not sure is feasible yet is to advertise all sales in the preferred choice of payment out of Euro GBP or US Dollar.




2 September 2011

This is my very first attempt at blogging, so bear with me until I get used to it. Some of you have already heard of me through my posts or the logo design, and I have met several of you through direct messaging. What I'm going to attempt to do here is give a bit of insight as to who I am now, have been in the past, what motivates/disgusts me and how this is all woven into my collecting habits. Please do not share what you see/read with Mental Health professionals as I would rather not take that kind of a vacation.

I was born in the '50's and am a child of the '60's; heavily influenced by the "British Invasion". Have been a musician since I was 7- guitar and cittern. Radically political since I became a "card carrying" member of a decidedly red political party in 1972 (yep, still a member). Joined the Navy anyway- they didn't buy my political affiliation and gave me a secret clearance (I look like a Conservative Republican, I'm told). Stayed with that until my luck ran out in Beirut, 1983. Went back to college and got a degree in Commercial Art/Photography and worked in that field until 1999 when, through a list of sordid mishaps and bad luck, I began work with the State (Virginia) and am currently a Sergeant in a maximum security prison for... women.

I left Virginia the first time in 1959; swore I'd never come back to live. After circumnavigating the globe around 5 times, I returned to Virginia, to live, in 1988. Bad decision. But, you are where you are, so here I am in the middle of nowhere in the "rocker" between Charlottesville and Richmond, in a very old, decrepit house with my wife, my dog, a huge bunch of cats that passing cars continue to "drop off", a red-tailed hawk, a peregrine falcon, several possums, black snakes and copperheads and whatever else wanders onto my 8.95 acres- and no, I don't hunt, so I wind up feeding them.

Now that everyone has some idea of where I'm coming from, I'll be making entries from time to time to keep all up to speed. I will post new acquisitions in my galleries, saving this area for those side images that give an insight into the where, when or how. So, until the next entry, take care...

Oooops, it's still the 2nd and I have a little more to write, so I've chosen to edit this and add more. Got a new piece today... the mail has slowed a bit since last week when I was "preparing for a hurricane and got an earthquake"- actually got both, the earthquake being quite unusual for this area (especially a 5.8)- lost my chimney completely due to the initial and following aftershocks which continue. The hurricane was pretty much a non-event where I am; some rain and a little wind. Never lost power... when we lose power we lose everything; water, toilet, phone. Not good. Anyway, I digress... the piece I received is a "Merits of the People's Militia" medal (Czechoslovakia) with ribbon bar in a padded, light blue case. A very nice piece from a dealer in Israel at an outstanding price. I always enjoy doing business with this gentleman. Tomorrow I hope to photograph it and begin my Czechoslovakian gallery- I have managed to collect several pieces geared around, for the most part, organizations of the internal ministry.

Hmmmm, brings me to a last bit- "what do I collect?". I collect orders, medals, badges and documents from the Communist era of the USSR, Mongolia, the DDR (a lot of this appears on Megan's site), Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary. I also have a small collection of Cuban badges, a few Mao buttons, some items from Poland and some from Czechoslovakia. I have a pretty good collection of Communist Party of the Russian Federation medals (in the Gallery section- have a look), a nearly complete collection from the unrecognized Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (Pridnestrovie) also in the Gallery section and a few Umalatova medals (who doesn't). Oh yeah, I've also got a pretty good collection of Sons of Confederate Veterans and Military Order of the Stars and Bars items that were given to me over the years. I think I mentioned it all.

This is the final entry today, I promise.

Greg Collins

Greg Collins


Start your Own Collectors Blog

As part of the ongoing work to upgrade GMIC and a decision take it to a new level, I have incorporated the ability for members to start their own personal blogs. The theme for a blog must be around medals, militaria or general military history. I will be using my blog to regularly update members on any ongoing issues, upgrades or general forum information. More details to follow....