Jump to content
Gentleman's Military Interest Club


Featured Entries

  • 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      

My Manager is in Hospital

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

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

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

I'm hoping Joan will pull through.

Update April 29 - Joan died today. .

Rest in peace, Joan

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson


Waterloo Medal

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

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

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

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


Sgt. USMC Retired Waterloo Medal June 18, 1815.pdf




30 March 2013

I attended a funeral yesterday for my cousin, Elwood Leroy Collins, who died on the 24th. Born in 1925, he was the son of my Grandfather’s brother and, though somewhat distant in relationship, he appeared in more than a couple of “scenes” in my life whenever I returned to this part of Virginia. Family reunions, Sunday dinners or, simply, running into him during local travels- it was always great to see him as he brought a sense of humour to nearly every occasion. No doubt it would have been present yesterday were he not the subject of the gathering. Besides being a relative, he was a great friend to my Grandfather, my Father and to me.

The young cleryman in attendance was certainly an eloquent speaker, and certainly holy enough (I guess). And Leroy (as we all called him) certainly had all the typical qualities for praise: he was a good husband (his wife, Lucille, preceded him in death seven years ago), a good father, good grandfather and good great-grandfather. He served in the US Navy during WW2 and retired from the Virginia Forestry Department after 40 years of service. Another member of this country’s “greatest generation” has departed. And all this was cited by the minister. “Taps” was sounded; the flag was folded. Good job, but there are a couple of details which, in my opinion, were not covered very well, and these details are those that separated Leroy from most of us and, very possibly, made him the absolutely great person I knew.

He was a young 2nd Class Boatswains (Bos’ns) Mate in the Navy who was Coxswain (Coxs’n). A Coxswain, for those of the more “landlubber” persuasion, is a driver of small craft (boats) and is generally a position/qualification occupied by mid to high ranking BM’s. During the moments prior to the D-Day invasion, he shuttled Generals and Admirals from ship to ship to last minute planning meetings and, on the day itself, piloted the first landing craft (LCC) that hit Omaha Beach. It is important to note here that a Coxswain’s life expectancy during this event was measured in seconds- not minutes- and many, if not most, did not survive the day. And this evolution was repeated until all the troops were landed. And Leroy survived.

Leroy was still in the Navy in 1946 during the A-Bomb tests at Bikini Atoll. Apparently, the bomb (which was very much like the “Fat Man” bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki) did not sink most of the many (in excess of 200) ships that had been brought there as part of the test. So, after the “fireworks”, Leroy was taken, by helicopter, from ship deck to ship deck to go down to the lower level of the engine rooms and open the discharge valves to allow sea water into the ships and, eventually, sink them (those ships that were not designated for further radiation study). Over and over, Leroy was subjected to incredible amounts of radiation (interestingly, he told me that, while the outside of the ships were charred black, the inside looked absolutely normal). And Leroy survived.

These details were only briefly, barely, and in the most general of terms, alluded to during the graveside service. And, as I observed the stoic and, frankly, blank stares of the younger folks who were there I wonder if anyone would have been able to “wrap their minds around it” anyway. I seem to encounter this phenomenon a lot, lately. I don’t suppose they teach kids about this anymore.

Leroy left us quietly, and with apparently no real struggle, in his own bed in his own home in Charlottesville. I am glad for this as he had certainly had more than his share of excitement in his earlier life. I will miss Leroy; his good heart and great sense of humour. I mourn the passing of this great American; they “don’t make them like that anymore”. Fair winds and smooth sailing, my friend.

Greg Collins

Greg Collins


WW II - pull switches

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




Iron Cross Help !

Hi Gents,

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

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

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

In anticipation of any assistance




Image Uploads Unrestricted (well almost)

A long time bone of contention at GMIC has been image upload restrictions. However I am pleased to announce that from today I have introduced a new standard across all membership levels. Basically (dependent on the speed of your internet connection) all membership levels (apart from Basic members) will be able to upload images up to approx 8 to 10MB in size which is massive ! Basic members will be restricted to 2MB which is still a pretty impressive size. Images will be automatically resized, but it should not impact on the quality of the image too dramatically. This in essence means that for most members that they will no longer have to resize or play with images before uploading as the software does it for you, saving you time and hassle.

This may still need some minor tweaking so any problems please report it. I will run this for a few months as a trial to ensure it is not impacting negatively on resources and then review it....





The Power of the Internet

While researching a Metropolitan Police 1902 Coronation, I found and contacted the recipient's great-grand-daughter, who has her own blog on this man. I decided to offer to sell it back to the family, as I already have several of that medal. Her response was amusing:

Sometimes virtue is not its only reward.

Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson


Forum Restructuring & Image Updates

The sharp eyed amongst you would have noticed that a few forums have disappeared. Just to let you know that over the last few weeks and in the weeks ahead myself and the hard working volunteers that keep this forum running, have been/will be moving posts around and decommissioning several forums.

No topics other than a few totally empty or worthless topics have been deleted and over the coming weeks they will all be integrated into the restructured forums. I want GMIC to be a lot easier to navigate to stop some of the confusion of the past as to where is the best place to post new topics. To that end other than some of the specialist forums all topics need to be posted under their respective country categories.

Another update I am working hard on is images. One of the most complaints I get, is about the difficulty to upload images. I have posted a comprehensive guide on how to do it here. But for some of you that do not use regular imaging software this is still causing you issues. I have also quietly updated the size allowance which differs dependent on membership.

I am also working on a more long term solution which utilises the ability of the software to adjust any size image automatically. But this has a few issues that come with it, mainly software compatibility and loss of quality which I still need to overcome.

But dont forget GMIC still offers free membership and free uploads which some forums do not give you !




Kachhawa Horse

Dear All

I am Grand son of Muhammad Ismail Khan who served as RDF in Kachhawa Horse in 19 30 / 40.I need photos of Kachhawa Horse unit.
I am very thankful to you all for support

My Email is: ahmed.khan313@yahoo.com





23 December 2012

As I wrote in yesterday's blog, I have thought about sharing a few "sea stories" with you. Don't expect great revelations here; just a few that I can't seem to get out of my head, no matter how hard I try. They are personal in nature and may give insight as to why I am somewhat "twisted".

Communication, I have painfully learned, is the cornerstone of a lasting marriage. All to often we fall prey to our own baser instincts and concentrate on the physical, only to "pay big time" at a later date. So it was with my first marriage. Here's a little taste of what lasted seven years for me (1978 through 1984).

I was married, for a time, to a girl from the “sunnier climes”- the Philippines, to be exact- who never quite got the grasp of the English language although, to be honest, her English was heads and shoulders above my attempt at Tagalog (the national language of the Philippines).

Anyway, one morning I arose at the customary 4:30 am to grab a shower and a couple cups of coffee prior to heading across the Terminal Island Expressway to get to the USS New Jersey BB-62, which we were re-assembling back in ’82. This particular morning, the wife was awake, sitting at the dining room table and, as a large bonus, had coffee ready! As I mumbled my early morning greeting and closed in on the warm, brown elixir of life, I heard her say, “Honey, hand pour me please de hello pahgaes”. I took a long slug of coffee and replied, “Huh?”. “Hand pour me please do hello pahgeas”, she said. I dropped my head, shook it side to side a bit as if trying to dislodge some blockage in my ear and replied, “Huh?”. She repeated the phrase again, but with much irritation. Finally I told her, “Honey, I can hear what you are saying; I just don’t understand what you’re telling me”. Exasperated, she explained, “Joo know, de book pour de telephone coeloured hello…”. To which I replied, “You mean the g*d d*mned Yellow Pages?”. She did.

On my way to the ship that morning I was reminded of an earlier (probably ’79), similar incident in Yokosuka, Japan when I was on the USS Kirk FF-1087. As I was the only one of a close-knit group of buddies to have a house on the economy (in town) and a wife who could really cook several Philippino delicacies such as pancit and lumpia, I was elected to host our drunken get-togethers (I did say this was Navy, didn’t I). Well, I had duty on the day before one of these events and I told a couple of the guys, “Look, if you want to do this tomorrow, you’ll have to get off your *sses, go to my place, pick up the wife, take her to the commissary and then get her back home”. “No problem”, came their reply. Later that day- much later- and as I was on rounds on the ship, one of the guys approached me and said, “That is the last time I ever go to the commissary with your wife”. “Why, what happened”, I inquired. He stated, “She had me looking high and low for car-oats”. He went on, “I was climbing the shelves in the cereal aisle looking up and down for the s*ns of b*tches”. I interjected, “Didn’t she mean carrots?”. He glared at me and mumbled’ “*sshole” before turning and walking away. I smiled and chuckled as I hooked a right at the Hughes Tool Company shack and turned toward the dry dock.

Have a Great Holiday!,

Greg Collins

Greg Collins


22 December 2012

Well, the 21st has come and gone and we're still here... not sure if that's a plus or minus but, hey, it IS. So, on we go until the next projected apocalypse.

Nothing much happening here except it is getting colder. I apologize to those living in the colder climes- Canada and Russia come to mind- but we're just not as used to it here and it does get "raw" at times. Anyway, I'm taking advantage of the indoor time to continue cataloging the collection. This has become something of a daunting task due to the size of the "beast"- what you're seeing in my galleries is only a third of it, at best.

Acquistitions continue, although at a much slower rate than in the past (the economy). What I have been concentrating on is, primarily, Border Guard items and have found some pretty nice pieces at good prices. I'll take this opportunity to give a shameless (and uncompensated) plug to Igor at Collect Russia. Despite the talk of his high prices, I have been able to find several very good deals from him- very good deals- and with the bonus of knowing absolutely that these pieces are genuine. So, many thanks to Igor- again. And, as always, I've posted these jewels in my USSR gallery, so have a look.

Am toying with an idea for future blogs; I have alot of interesting/weird/humerous etc. stories from a fair amount of travelling which I often resort to, from time to time, in my interactions with younger people. Most deal with clashes in culture, "fish out of water"- that kind of thing. Anyway, I thought I'd share a few of these with you as they all pertain directly or indirectly with the military of my day (I say "of my day" because there have definitely been some changes since I was there... whew!). Most will be humerous, many will be off-colour, some will be happy and some of a sadder nature.

Two things before I go: thanks to Nick for seeing fit in including me in the calender- twice! Very gratifying. And, finally, my very best to all for the season in what ever way you chose to celebrate it.

All the Best,

Greg Collins

Greg Collins



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

Robert A

Robert A


GMIC 2013 Calendar for Sale

To support the server upgrade and to acknowledge some of the great photos that were submitted in both the 2011 and 2012 photography competitions, I have commissioned a limited edition 2013 GMIC Calendar.

It is a spiral wire bound A4 size wall Calendar. This is a first for GMIC and I hope that many of you support the forum and grab an edition quickly as it is a limited print run.

My thanks to the members that contributed their photos, making this all possible.

I have previewed some of the pages to give you an idea of the content. Price will be £8 for a Calendar plus postage costs which will be dependent on location.

Ordering for the calendar will go live this weekend in the members store and through an updated link which will appear on this page.




2012 GMIC Photographic Competition Winners

I am glad to announce that the GMIC 2012 Photographic Competition Results are now out. Congratulations to all the winners and my thanks to all members who entered the competition. My thanks also to the panel of independent judges who had a difficult task as well as to Mervyn who makes all this possible.

I will be making a further announcement later with regards the special Chairmans Award and the GMIC 2013 Calendar.

To view the winning photos go http://gmic.co.uk/index.php/gallery/category/45-2012-photographic-competition-winners/




Shedding Light on the Crime

Shedding Light on the Crime; not a bedtime story.

Abysmal was the only word to describe this moonless overcast autumn night. The neighbourhood had been forgotten by society, polite society that is. The street lights were old and outdated. New lights found in the up-scale areas would never see this neighbourhood, not even when they were felt to be out of style. The lights would be sold to smaller municipalities; never to be installed here. Many of the lights were out, shot out by pellet guns making the darkness here purposeful and with an intent repulsive to gentler folk. This the city planners called “Urban Blight”, however in more knowledgeable circles where actual “doing” was the norm was whispered a different term. “Ghettoization of the Poor” was the term bantered around, a purposeful concentration of those less fortunate to serve as fodder, victims if you will, to the criminal element. After all as long as you can ignore an area in decline thereby creating a hunting ground for the wolves of society the chances are less likely that they will ply their trade in the white bread world of “up-town”. This is nothing new and every city has their Cedar Street, corner of St. Ledger and Young and “Shooters Lane”. This will never change as high speed commuter train systems are more important than the welfare of our fellow man. It truly is still a Dickensian world.

Along with the blinded street lights very little other light was visible short of the odd window through which an eerie sporadic pulsating glow emitted from a television set. One or two upstairs windows were lit up and there existed hope that in the room was a small desk with a young child who was pouring over his or her lessons with the slight hope of earning their way out of this cess pool. Experience, however, told a different likelihood. That of a single mattress thrown on the floor where a lady of the evening carried on her so-called trade in order to earn just enough for the next hit of crack, smoked using a crushed soda can as a pipe and a butane cigarette lighter as the ignition source. She was old before her time, even though she was barely out of her teens, just more collateral damage in the political gaming circles.

The house in question had long past being described as run down and old. It was an ancient pile or half rotten timbers and broken window panes awaiting the caress of the arson’s touch. A sure fate when the property became more valuable than the rent squeezed by the slumlord from these poor retches. Still it was someone’s home and castle, their refuge from the greater decay looming all around in the darkness. Paint had long since given up trying to make a home on the building’s exterior and what did still reside there was in flakes peeling off as if it too were trying to follow after its comrades to a better existence. The front steps had long since given up being even close to horizontal and the wooden treads were bowed downwards as if the stress of thousands of desperate souls treading on them had been too depressing for them and they now just existed without the will to live. Under the porch could be heard a rustling scurrying sound of creatures best left unseen and unmolested least their unwanted attentions be turned loose on the inquisitive interloper. On the corner of the porch next to a very narrow unpaved driveway, was a square-based tapering pillar holding up the porch roof with the house number 23 affixed to it. The letters had been of good quality at one time, enameled white letters on a metal base. Now they were missing much of the enameling with what was left being stained yellow by the rusting medal. Under the letters was nailed a board with little to no regard to right angles or even an attempt to be slightly horizontal. On the board was scrawled the words, “23½ ROUND BACK!” by someone obviously sick and tired of being inconvenienced to give out directions to 23½.

“Why is it always ‘round back?”

The driveway was put in long after the house had been built, before Henry Ford’s creations, constructed to accommodate the Model T or Model A automobiles of the day. It had gone unused due to its lack of width through the craze for super sized automobiles and the muscle cars. A Smart Car would now fit but that would never be seen in this neighbourhood. The driveway was equally dark and uninviting ending with a dilapidated garage, more than a mate for the ailing house. The sill had long ago rotted away and the vertical wood siding was now all that held the structure erect. The sides themselves bowed out leaving the structure resembling a circus tent more than an accessory building.

The sound of a dog barking in the distance could be heard but it sounded to be a few doors over. No barking came from this property in response to the other dog’s challenge so that may not be an issue here.

“At least it’s not the end of the shift.”

There was a superstition among the officers in the division that if all went well for your whole shift then the last call was likely going to be the most dangerous. If you were going to “buy it” then that was when it would happen. This caution was probably started to keep the new officers on their toes. As the biggest factor in any officer’s injury or death is quite often complacency.

Taking a deep breath the summons firmly in the officer’s leather encased Kevlar gloved left hand, he drew his right hand back past the Asp (extendable baton), undoing the dome on his 9 mil. holster and finally coming to resting on his three-cell Mag-Lite. He preferred the Mag over the stronger beam of the mini flashlights carried by some of the younger officers. The reason was simple, deadly simple. A Mag might not be able to blind a charging rhino or fry ants at fifty feet such as the young officers bragged about their mini lights, but it gave sufficient light and could serve, as it had on several occasions, as a defensive “weapon of opportunity”. Here is the simple logic. When something “goes down” you have 1.5 seconds to react. So, 1.5 seconds to drop your mini flashlight, un-holster your 9 mill (did you remember to unfasten it earlier?), snap off the safety, point it at the assailant and come up with a memorable line out of a Dirty Harry or Rambo movie and save your butt. All in 1.5 seconds...won’t happen sweetheart! At least with the Mag-Lite in hand you have something, well, at hand, what you do in the next 1.5 seconds is up to you.

“Thank God for my Mag-Lite”

The officer had seen just about every kind of trap and trip fall over the years. From boards with nails protruding waiting like some spiny sea urchin in the dark waters of night, to impale any unwary pedestrian venturing into their domain, to trip wires set across the top of exterior basement access stairways. The lights at the bottom of these egress wells were always “conveniently” out of order. The one that always stuck in his mind was one basement apartment access stairs, as usual in complete darkness, that had a row of soda cans sitting along the front edge of one of the treads, about one half way down the stair case. Stepping on top one or two of these cans would send you down the stairs on your backside in a flash. The worst were concrete stair cases. Then there were the “screamers”. Battery powered alarms that emitted a sharp whine so loud as to nearly split an ear drum and the fright enough to bring on a heart attack, or at least it seemed so. These were attached to one side of the stair case, a monofilament line stretched across the stair way. These were activated similar to a hand grenade with a pin being pulled out when someone tripped the line. If there was one thing in abundance in this neighbourhood it was human ingenuity, whether protective or malicious.

Reaching the back corner of the main house there was a smaller structure attached, probably a former kitchen with accommodation for the “help” dating back to more affluent times. The porch light was off but the window beside the door was lit up. As he scanned the property and especially the path to the door he noticed that the only potential traps were those of children’s toys reluctantly left when “time for bed” was announced. He could imagine the protests of the young adventurers as their mother put an end to their conquests of the imagined castle or the slaying of the evil dragon. Some things common to children everywhere is their ability to ignore brutal reality in favour of their own worlds of make believe. This made him smile slightly.

Reaching the entrance the officer opened the screen door and knocked on the old paint cracked wooden slab. He actually lightly kicked the door with the toe of his shoe but it was still a knock. Immediately the light was turned off that had illuminated the window and the porch light was snapped on. The officer instinctively shut the screen door which he braced closed with his foot; toe on the door and heel firmly against the decking of the porch. This was the moment of truth, the seconds before the bull charges the matador or the moment before when all is revealed, the expected raging bull or a peaceful member of the heard.

A woman opened the door; it was hard to tell her age due to the lack of light as she stayed in the shadows afforded by the frame of the screen door. It didn’t matter at this time as the officer could see that she held nothing in her hands and shining the flashlight’s beam in her face would only serve to annoy more than identify..at least for the time being.

“Is Mr. Larry Oatman living at this address?”
“Yes, I’m his wife”, she offered without hesitation and offered her full name and date of birth following the officer’s request.
“Please give this to him” the officer calmly said in a helpful tone of voice practised to garner cooperation.
“What is this?” She queried as she instinctively reached out and took the document. This happens more than not when serving a summons which is helpful though in Canada there is no need to actually touch the person with the summons to complete service.
“It’s a Summons for Mr. Oatman to appear in court”
She accepted this with a look of someone familiar with the term recidivism; the cycle of conviction followed by incarceration, release and another crime leading to arrest and conviction. This time all went down smoothly and peacefully. It is not always so, but one needs to be thankful for small favours and not dwell on the times when you’re met with violence.

Back in the patrol car the officer couldn’t help but think that this cycle of crime, incarceration, release then crime was like the instructions, wash, rinse, and repeat on the label on a shampoo bottle being applied to life. He also couldn’t help but wonder if this was always going to be the case for many in this part of the city. Deep down he knew the answer to his own question.

This is a scenario played out over and over day after day year after year all over the country. In most cases there is no need for a firearm, the asp is not drawn or the pepper spay not released into an assailant’s eyes. However it’s the trusty old flashlight that is employed repeatedly. So it has been since the days of the watchmen with their burning brands, or torches, the candle lit lamps followed in time by oil fueled and then to battery powered lights, shedding light on crime and making it safer for officers to carry out their duties.

For quite some time now my good friend and fellow GMIC member, Mervyn Mitton and I have been discussing a collaboration of sorts to expand one of his earlier posts, regarding early police lanterns. This will involve specimens from both of our collections and a detailed description along with photos of the different specimens. I anticipate this taking some time as between the two of us we possess quite a good number of examples. In addition to this blog I will kick the project off with a “What do they have in common?” question. Sorry, no prize for the correct answer or even the wittiest response; just bragging rights. Which I suppose could be considered “priceless”.

Watch for the knowledge testing question coming to the appropriate section of your form shortly. Then tune into the police section to follow our post on police lanterns.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and I hope that you found it entertaining and will check out our Police Lantern post in the Police Section under the title “What did they do in the dark...”.


Brian Wolfe

Brian Wolfe


Last few days of Photo Competition Remaining

I am glad to say that the server errors of Monday are resolved and that the Gallery is now functioning correctly. I apologise for the inconvenience to those members trying to post images for the competition and I would ask that you repost any that are missing. The competition will close Midnight on Sunday (18th November) US Pacific Time to allow as many members to catch up as possible. Don't forget there are great prizes and a chance for your photo to feature on the 2013 GMIC calendar.




Photo Competition & Ongoing Gallery Issues

I am working hard to fix an issue with the gallery. There still seems to be an ongoing issue with the photo gallery which was caused by the migration to the new server. As a consequence some members have had difficulty posting images for the 2012 Photographic Competition.

I have therefore suspended the gallery while I work on the problem. I apologise for this, as I thought the problem was fixed, but it seems not to have been fully resolved.

The competition will be slightly extended to compensate for this.