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      

Ongoing Update, Server Downtime & Gallery

I am sure that you have noticed the speed increases if you have been lucky enough to find GMIC online in the last 24 hours. I apologise for some of the downtime, crashes and the gallery not working over the last few days. GMIC has been migrated to its own dedicated server and like all things in the IT world, the transition was not as smooth as I would have liked. It will take a few days for all the errors to be smoothed over and the forum to be fully functioning again, but the speed increase will make all this worth it, as if you are reading this you will have noticed the forum is now flying along compared to the slow chug of before.

Please be patient as errors are not always immediately noticeable, if you do find any errors post them here and I will look into it.




New book on a little-known war in South Africa

Members might be interested in a new book, called MOOROSI: A South African king's battle for survival that I have written and which has just been published. It tells the detailed story of a little-known, but intriguing, war that took place in southern Lesotho (then Basutoland) in 1879 between the Cape Colony and the BaPhuthi people, led by King Moorosi. The war was followed by the Basotho War, or the Gun War, which began a year later. MOOROSI also includes descriptions of other wars that took place on the Eastern Cape border of the Cape Colony in 1877 and 1878. The book describes how the Moorosi war arose from conflict between the Cape Colony and the BaPhuthi people, leading to the siege of Mount Moorosi, a flat-topped mountain fortress surrounded by steep cliffs on three sides. The accessible fourth side was fortified with stone walls and guarded by the heavily-armed BaPhuthi people, who built a village on the mountaintop. The assault on Mount Moorosi presented a challenge in military strategy to the colonial forces who found it more formidable than they had ever thought it would be. Three colonial soldiers won the Victoria Cross for their actions during the war; how they won them is told in detail in the book. Although the book is categorized as historical fiction, almost all the story is true and represents the results of seven years of research during which I consulted rare books and government documents from the time of the war, spent many hours in archives in South Africa and Lesotho, and visited the historical sites around which the action takes place. I was born and raised in South Africa. My interest in cultural conflict, colonial Africa and the Moorosi battle in particular began when I traveled through Lesotho on horseback in my early 20s and when I subsequently worked as a journalist at several South African newspapers and news magazines, covering cultural conflict in Southern Africa during the apartheid years. While studying as a journalism student at Columbia University in the mid-60s, I not only wrote a thesis on cultural conflict but also attended lectures and wrote papers relating to the Vietnam War, which directly affected many of my fellow students. After moving to the United States in 1980, I studied conflict around the world, including the two wars in which the United States has recently been involved, while working as a journalist in the Seattle area. I believe MOOROSI is an excellent case study in war, mirroring many of the issues that we see in today's conflicts around the world. The book is accompanied by pictures illustrating the events before and during the war. Please see: http://www.moorosi.com MOOROSI is listed on the amazon website at: http://www.amazon.co...351655372&sr=8- where it is available in print and Kindle editions.




Major John Francis Purcell

Doing research on Major John Francis Purcell (Cape Mounted Rifles) I discovered that you have been contacted
by his grandson. I have in my possession family letters, photographs, and other personal ephemera which I feel
should go back to the family. Unfortunately I only discovered your web site today and have already put these items
on Ebay. I hope there is a way that he can view these items.




Does anyone know about these mugs

I have in my possession a half pint pewter mug given to my grandfather. It is engraved with the words: Branscombe contingent H. Hansford 1914-1919.
It appears that these mugs were given to the men of Branscombe village, devon when they returned from the war. They were also given to the families of those that didn't return.
If anyone knows anything about these mugs or has seen one please contact me.




Jasta 78b

Being new to this site please excuse for anything that may be repetitive. I have some clarification concerning Reinhold Ritter von Benz. As a member and later leader of Jasta 78b his military career started in the infantry. I have seen some posts which suggest his (Blue Max ) Maximillian Joseph Orden was awarded posthumously. In fact it was awarded on Sep. 28,1915 as Leutnant 17. Bayerische Infanrieregiment. This after already receiving the Military Merit Order of Bavaria. Due to serious wounds he was unable to continue service in the infantry. Later he joined the air wing of Jasta 78b. One of his early planes was an Albatross then later a Fokker D VII Nr. 4461/18. This is the aircraft in which he was shot down and killed on Aug 13,1918, near Vaxainville, France.
He was buried in the military cemetery at Reillon, France. There is some suggestion on various internet sites that a Fokker D VII with a "K" inside a white star is that of Karl Kallmunzer. This unfortunately for all you model enthusiasts is incorrect. Karl Kallmunzer was indeed a member of Jasta 78b and he did have a "K" on his plane but but it was on an Albatross and it was in a circle. He was in fact shot down in that same plane. You may ask why someone with the name Benz would have a "K" on his plane. This is information only his family would know and therefore the confusion. The "K" on Benz's plane was actually for his girlfriend Katie.
How do I know ? He was my grand uncle and his papers and photos are now all in my possession. I have 4 photos taken during different times of him and his plane, a group photo of him with the rest of Jasta 78b as well as several documents of his death , and burial.
I hope this helps. I know some of you have been looking for more info on Jasta 78b.




2012 GMIC Photographic Competition

Following the success of last years competition Mervyn has been working hard to bring together the 2012 Photographic Competition, so I would ask members to take consider participating in this years competition. There are some great prizes on offer and also entries have the opportunity to win a place in the 2013 GMIC Calendar.


There are three categories for 2012 and each person will be limited to 5 (five) entered per category so make them count.

The judges are looking for not only for photographic technique but more importantly creativity and imagination. A picture which shows a lot of imagination, but lacks in technical skill, still stands a better chance in winning over a technically perfect photo which is unimaginative and dull. I will also be looking for 12 images to represent the 12 months of 2013, so if members can enter photos within Categories 1 & 2 which have a seasonal (and military) theme I will be considering those entries separately to the main competition, so it will not necessarily be category winners who earn a place in the calendar.


1. Members - and Family Members are permitted to enter this 2012 Photo Competition. Name of member must be shown. These rules apply equally to any non-members and by entering the competition they show their assent.

2. The panel of judges has been appointed - their decision is final.

3. Ownership of the image remains with the person posting. However, by entering this Competition he/she grants permission to GMIC to use any of the image entered - in any way or, for whatever purpose - and at any time. The member posting the entry must OWN the copyright to the image being entered.

4. There will be no change in the announced dates.

5. There will be one overall prize - The Chairman's Award. Each category will have a 1st , 2nd. and 3rd. place and will receive a GMIC plaque. 4th and 5th in each category will receive a small nominal gift. ALL 5 in each Category will receive a GMIC Certificate.

6. To keep numbers managable the maximum number of entries - per category - will be LIMITED TO 5 (FIVE)

7. The categories will be : Please include a few words of description

1. Personal Militaria collections - pick your own items for entry.

2. Militaria from any source. Graves.Bands.Processions etc.. Your choice.

3. Non- Militaria. Any source or, subject. Be original and creative.

8. Entries for the 2013 GMIC Calendar will be considered separately to the main competition by the Chairman. Note category winners will not necessarily be entered into the GMIC Calendar. Entries will only be considered from Categories 1 & 2 (or of a military theme) and images which have a seasonal aspect i.e. Spring, Summer, Autumn (Fall), Winter will be of benefit.




Major Lukas Kirsten

My great-grandfather is Lukas Kirsten. His daughter is Marianne v. Watzdorf-Kirsten, my grandmother. His grand daughter, Angela Schroeder, is my mother. My name is Alexandra Kennedy Corwin.

I have photos/documents left to me in albums. I have his sword.

If anyone knows of medals and so forth linked to him or know of descendants, please let me know. When my grandmother migrated to the US in the 60s, she left Germany behind. I do not know of any other family.

here is Lukas Kirsten's information:

LukasKirsten: born 21 May 1874 Crimmitschau, killed in action 10 December 1917 near Warneton,

Saxon cavalry officer, participant in China Campaign 1900-01 and Southwest Africa 1904-06

Oberleutnant 28.6.99 C
Rittmeister 15.9.05
Major zD

Went to zD status from Ulanen Rgt 21 19 January 1914. Recalled for WW1 and served in infantry units as a battalion and regimental commander, being KIA as commander of Saxon Inf Rgt 177.

Received the Saxon St Henry Order-Knight for China 19.1.1901, as well as Prussian Crown Order 4X and Austro-Hungarian Military Merit Cross 3 with War Decoration and Japanese Order of the Rising Sun 6th Class. He may have received his Italian Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus-Knight for China.

In Southwest Africa he received Saxon Merit Order-Knight w/Xs and Prussian Red Eagle Order 4 w/Xs.

Until 1914: Saxon XXV Years Long Service Cross

WWI: both classes of Prussian Iron Cross, Swords to Saxon Albert Order-Knight 1st 19.10.15 (when he got a Knight 1st WITHOUT swords—must have been before the war started in 1914) and Crown to that grade 27.6.16. Turkish Imtiaz Medal in Silver with Sabers Bar was apparently a “courtesy” award from a visiting Ottoman Pasha.

Commander grade of the Saxon Order of Saint Henry 12 October 1916 as commander of Saxon Infantry Regiment 103.




2nd King Edwards Horse

I have a group of medals to a Trooper Churchill of the 2nd King Edwards Horse, one of the medals is a privatly awarded medal, which I assume is from the Regiment as the ribbon is their colours. The inscription on the medals reads for bravery in the Field in Irland the other 2 medals are the war and Victory medals to Sgt. Churchill. I have been able with some help from a friend to possibly put him in Dublin during the Easter Rising but can find no real mention of his name.
Can anyone help with any information please.




An Adventure? Are you out of your mind? Part two

An Adventure? Are you out of your mind?
Part Two.
As stated in the last installment Linda, my wife and best friend, and I had paid our admission to the Christie’s Antique Show and were at last on our way to the happy (antiques) hunting grounds. Once we crossed the causeway the area opened up to reveal the affects the night long rains had on the dealers. The wide rows were blocked with large vans and trailers because many dealers had waited until morning to start to set up their booths. Normally something like this would anger me but given the hurricane-like storm that had raged all night and the steady rain we were now experiencing, who could blame them for this late start? Many of the dealers house their wares in tents, though these are mainly protection from the intense heat of the sun; that would not pose a problem today. Some had tents with sides and plastic windows of the same design you see at outdoor weddings, the sides prevent the rains from getting in but also impedes the customers somewhat. Many of the dealers who only have tables set up outside in the elements had cancelled and those who decided to brave the elements were now regretting it. Plastic covered the tables and looked much like the dew spangled web of a grass spider (Agelenopsis spp.) in early morning. Pools of water had collected anywhere there had been a pocket formed in the plastic sheets. In one case between the spokes of a ship’s wheel producing a circle of small triangle lakes and another, in the form or a rectangular pool that was bordered by a picture’s frame under the plastic. There was one poor lady who had left her wares out over night at the mercy of the elements and now had to deal with emptying out the water from dozens and dozens of bowls and vases. The positive aspect of this was that she only sold glass and ceramic ware so everything at least had a good wash. A few were not as fortunate because the winds had ripped the plastic away for the tables and the paper goods and photographs were in ruin. Anything made of cloth or stuffed items like bears and their ilk were saturated. I can only hope that these were able to be salvaged.
Our immediate goal was to go directly to the pavilion, a permanent structure on the grounds, consisting of two adjoining show rooms, a refreshment concession and washrooms. It would seem that one of us was not willing to wait until we got to the show before consuming an extra large double, double coffee making the trek to the washroom of paramount importance. Yes, that would have been me, good sense and planning ahead not being a familiar state of my thought process. This would not have mattered anyway as we always go to the pavilion first as there is one dealer who always has a few medals and good quality black powder firearms for sale. I would like to point something out at this point regarding washrooms. The washrooms in the pavilion are always in good condition, however, when the show’s attendance it at its zenith the demand for the facilities out strips the availability of fixtures. It is for this reason the Conservation Authority brings in portable toilets and lines them up along the wall of the pavilion opposite to the entrance to the washrooms. Having worked for a conservation authority myself for some time now there is one thing I have learned. Water will always run down hill and if there is a depression in the ground the water will find it and fill it to the brim before continuing on to its destination at the lowest possible point wherever that may be. In this case that lowest point, at least for the time being, was where they had placed the portable toilets. These blue beacons of relief for the desperate victims of the extra large double, double coffees consumed, even though their spouses warned against it, were perched on wooden skids. I am sure this was to facilitate the placement and removal by the units by the waste management company. The water in this little lake was at least four inches deep judging by how little the skids were still out of the water, and that was not much. I could not help but think of later in the day when the skies cleared and the crowds arrived that there would be long line ups for the pavilion washrooms due to the inaccessibility of the portable toilets unless the conservation authority was about to open up a ferry service, though I suppose canoes would be a suitable alternative. Imagine if you will a long line of patrons, bladders filled to bursting, forced to wait their turn for relief with a large body of water adjacent to the walkway. Now think of a breeze causing a slight ripple on the surface of that pond. An exquisite torture that only Tomas de Torquemada could fully appreciate.
Leaving behind the thoughts of the torments of those late arrivals to the show I’ll move on to the dealer I wanted to see here in the pavilion. As I have stated, more than once here on the forum, I tend to make purchases from only a few eBay sellers and some fellow GMIC members, in a couple of cases they are one in the same. With all of the scam artists and out and out fakes and reproductions out in the world today I suggest that all collectors find such suppliers, it will be well worth it. The dealer in question has supplied me with black powder firearms as well as medals over the years and his word is his bond. At this point in time at the show there were few collectors on the field so we had time for pleasantries which is a rare thing at this particular show, as the pavilion is usually a mad house of activity. I was looking to add a Snyder Rifle to the collection and I recalled that he had a couple for sale at the spring show. They had, as I feared, been sold but there was a British percussion rifle with bayonet and scabbard on display that caught my eye. I thought that it was an 1858 Artillery Carbine but he identified it as an 1853 Calvary Carbine, both look pretty much the same to my eye. The price was not too bad but there were some condition issues. In our conversation, remember there were few buyers at this point so we had some time, I mentioned that Linda has an interest in the War of 1812 as well as the Fenian Raids as do I of course. I’d have to say that my wife is much keener on these areas of Canadian history and I tend to concentrate on British Empire, Police and World War One history. The dealer pointed out a few condition issues I had missed and reminded me that this particular type of rifle fell between the two areas of our interest (1812 and 1866). Further, this was the rifle that was converted to the Snyder, which would be the rifle we should hold out for and then add to the collection. I think my point about sticking to a few select trusted dealers has been made.
When I first arrived at the display I had noted a nice group of five World War Two medals with a boxed Memorial Cross (therefore Canadian) along with the supporting documents. I figured that I would purchase that since the rifle was not going to be secured. I turned toward the display case next to me and was about say, “I’ll take that group”, when I heard the voice of the fellow beside me as he said, to the dealer’s wife, “I’ll take that group”. I looked at the dealer and we both had to chuckle a bit as it was quite the coincidence. The collector turned and just inquired, “What?” I related why we found this a bit humorous and told him it must be his lucky day. He thought so too.

There was a Canadian Decoration (CD) in a box, this is the Canadian Long Service Good Conduct Medal, and it was named to a Captain. I decided to purchase this one, not only because of the rank, which I didn’t have, but also due to the box which was different than any of the ones presently in the collection. The pavilion was staring to fill up so we decided it was time to brave the elements once again and besides the rains had slackened up a bit and it was now just what I would call a steady rain. The type of rain fall you like to see, one that would soak in rather then run off your lawns a gardens. Tough by this time the ground was pretty well saturated anyway. Just before leaving I took a last look at the rifle, you know how it is...just in case there was a change of mind. It was at this point the dealer asked me to wait a minute and he went to the back of his truck which was backed into the pavilion’s open side behind his booth. He pulled out an object wrapped in some dark cloth and started to unwrap it. He said that I might be interested in this and he that he had just purchased it. What he uncovered was a percussion cap dueling pistol. A British dueling pistol marked as being the Manton Patent. Joseph Manton was a very important gunsmith in the 1800s and his innovations greatly improved the dueling pistol, among his other achievements. This was the treasure of the day, an actual dueling pistol. These are usually in pairs (of course) and come in a fitted box. This was a single pistol from what was undoubtedly once a pair. As most who know me from this forum are aware I seldom disclose what I pay for items as I believe money is secondary to the artifact. If you can’t afford it, don’t purchase it. If you have the expendable cash then make the purchase, however, talking about what you paid for an item results in either bragging or whining, both I find distasteful, and crass. I will post the pistol in the appropriate area of the GMIC at a later date. The rest of the morning passed with no really exciting finds and we left just as the sun was starting to appear and the rains starting to recede. We were both pretty well soaked and with mud splashed half way to our knees as well we arrived back at the van to begin our trip home. Needless to say I thought the day was well worth the effort and not being one to just let it go (see part one) commented that the day had been quite the adventure. To this Linda just laughed and said, “An adventure? Are you out of your mind?”


Brian Wolfe

Brian Wolfe


24 September 2012

I have been absent from the blogging scene of late… I could list all kinds of excuses but, as most of them revolve around being 58- and a lot of you are in the same shoes- you can fill-in the blanks. For those who have not reached this point in your “development”, I admonish you to enjoy the youth you currently enjoy as it truly is fleeting. For those who have passed me and are looking at 58 in the rear-view, please resist the temptation of telling me what comes next as I just LOVE these surprises :-( .

I have religiously followed the forum and, surprisingly and gratefully, was chosen as a 2nd Place winner in the August competition (thanks to the judging staff). It’s always a “pig in a poke” anticipating if another will find the interest or excitement that you found in a particular piece or pieces. And I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the plaque.

I have also been quite busy adding to a couple/few of the galleries I maintain here- a labour of love. I try to put forward some interesting stuff in a way that folks will enjoy the look. Since my last blogging, I’ve added to the USSR, Veteran’s, PMR and DDR galleries; have a look if you have the time… more than a couple of interesting/unusual pieces there.

The cooler temperatures have arrived and it’s beginning to feel, and look, like autumn here in Central Virginia. The leaves are beginning to turn from green to gold to red- many love this time of year BUT, the “grump” that I am is reminded of Sean Bean’s recurring line, and family motto, in The Game of Thrones, “winter is coming”. Hope it’s not too hard on us this year- it wasn’t last year, but it does run in cycles.

Again, check out the galleries,
Take Care,

Greg Collins

Greg Collins


An Adventure? Are you out of your mind? Part 1

An Adventure? Are you out of your mind?
Part One.

Summer was just about over, a summer plagued with drought conditions here in this part of Ontario, Canada, with crops being devastated and shallow well drying up. For us at the Grand River Conservation Authority it was equally serious. Fire bans angered the campers, even though it was as much for their protection as anything else. The cottagers who lease their lots from us around two reservoirs were more than a little edgy as the “lakes” receded from the shore line to a record distance as the water was depleted and not replenished by nature. Boat launching from the cottage lots was out of the question and in front of each property was now a border of what could only be described as mud flats. After the drought we had started into what may be described as the rainy season and with its arrival the severe heat of the summer was vacating our lands. It was a heat that was reported to have been in the low forties centigrade, if you calculate the high humidity into the equation. I tend to hate the high temperatures, being born in the North, in a place formerly known as Fort William. The rest of my family are “Southerners” and can’t understand my love of the Canadian winter, I don’t mind being the odd duck of the flock, after all they’re Southerners and you just have to tolerate them; an attitude that led to many, to say the least, awkward situations while I was growing up. I really like autumn and refuse to refer to it as “fall” because it is autumn and not the direction of travel when one’s feet are suddenly horizontal with one’s head when footing is lost on ice. I like the slap in the face from Mother Nature as she strikes your cheek with that fine frozen drizzle propelled by high winds just before winter sets in. Suddenly I am starting to see my family’s point of view, perhaps I am the “odd” duck of the flock, could they have been right all of these year; no that would not be logical...they’re Southerners.

The story is not about my eccentricities, though that is exactly what an eccentric would say, it’s about collecting. That last statement probably surprised absolutely no one.

A neighbouring Conservation Authority to the one I am so fortunate to work for holds a bi-annual outdoor antiques show. This is the Christie’s Antiques Show, named after the Christie Conservation Authority, situated near Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. There are hundreds of dealers and is attended by thousands and thousands of dedicated antiques hunters, collectors as well as a good smattering of curious and interesting characters. As always the plan was to arrive before the show opens to assure a parking spot close to the means of egress as after walking for miles searching for collectables one doesn’t need to walk an additional mile to their vehicle. The older I get the closer I want to be to that most welcome exit at the day’s end. It was up at 05:00 and get ready for the day’s outing. Remember that this was the rainy season and the forecast had not bode well for a dry excursion, but we had our rain gear out and were ready for whatever Ma Nature could throw at us. My dear wife, Linda, was born and raised in Perth Ontario which is an hour’s drive south of Ottawa, our nation’s capital the home of our Parliament, or as I like to think of it, “the gas works”. The location where Linda lived would make her a Northern girl; however, the number of years spent here in the South has had an adverse effect on her. Her tolerance to cold wet weather is about as low as it is toward my sense of humor, though she is a good sport about the latter. I have heard her referred to as “Brian’s long suffering wife”; though what “they” are getting at eludes me as her health is just fine, thank you very much.

So there we were on our way to the antiques show, in the dark, in the rain with windshield wipers on full speed and visibility far from ideal. After an hour ‘s drive in relative quiet, the possibility of this being an ominous silence never seemed to dawn on me, though dawn itself was upon us. As we sat there in our van, awaiting the gates of the show to open, the storm seemed to increase in ferocity. Gusts of wind laden with rain hit the side of the van at a near forty-five degrees rocking the vehicle with a violence that only the most vengeful elements can muster. Lightning and thunder were all around and I discovered right there and then that breaking into a chorus of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody (you know, “Thunder and Lightning, very, very frightening”) was not to be received in the vein of humour in which it was intended. My dear wife did say the anymore Queen renditions from me and it would result in “Another one bites the dust!” Oh, and I suppose that Queen reference was funny? Suddenly, with the storm raging all around, there was an uneasy silence that only men know when they tell their wives that they can’t attend the ballet because the Stanley Cup playoffs are being played on that same night. Women, go figure. In fairness to the ladies I suppose one could say, “Men, go figure”, though that, of course, would not be my first choice.

Not being one to learn from my mistakes, no matter how recent they may be (it’s a guy thing), I broke the silence with the suggestion that one should see this as an adventure. I offered the image of Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Capt. Ahab standing on the deck of the Pequod as he sailed her around the horn. I often like to think of myself as one of Gregory Peck’s heroic characters, though I am beginning to regret sharing that, oh well, I did say I have a tendency toward the eccentric. Linda offered that this was more like being on the bridge of the Edmund Fitzgerald. For those not familiar with Great Lakes lore this was a ship that sunk in a gale on 10 November 1975 in Lake Superior with all hands, no bodies were ever recovered. Check it out on the internet it is an interesting story, one made legend by Gordon Lightfoot in his song of the sinking of this ship.
By this time the winds had subsided though the rain continued in a torrential downpour and finally after what seemed an eternity the show’s gates were open. We approached the gate, Linda safely sheltered under her umbrella and me in my rain coat and good luck Tilley hat in anticipation of what treasures we would uncover. After passing through the gate we walked over an earthen walkway that cut through a pond, so water was on either side as well as teaming down from the heavens. I could not help but feel a little like Peck’s Capt. Mallory in the 1961 movie “The Guns of Navarone” as they approached their goal climbing up the shoreline cliffs in the gale force storm. Strange, as you would think that I would liken our pending adventure to some Indiana Jones movie but I have always liked the classics and let’s be honest Indie will never be a classic, not as far as acting is concerned.
Finally we entered the hallowed grounds of antiques heaven.

....to be continued.


Brian Wolfe

Brian Wolfe


Order of Medjidie: Dr Thomas Coutts Morison MRCSE LSA JP

Dr Thomas Coutts Morison MRCSE LAC JP, son of Sir Alexander Morison, volunteered to serve as a civilian Staff-Surgeon during the Crimean War. He died unmarried in 1863 in Rockhampton in the Colony of Queensland (Australia), and apparently among his possessions when he died was a Crimean War period Order of the Medjidie. I'm looking for some information on this from the people that really know the Medjidie.

Morison’s insignia is a silver star comprising seven triple quills with seven small crescents and five-pointed stars between them, the whole measuring 43 mm in diameter (one of the tips has been broken off). Is there any way to distinguish a 4th Class insignia from a 5th Class, just from the star?

The gold central disc bears the Sultan’s tughra, the Royal Cipher of the Ottoman Sultan Abdülmecid I, after whom the Order is named. Around this is a gold-bordered circle of red enamel bearing the words in Arabic script for “Devotion”, “Loyalty” and “Truth” and the Islamic year 1268 AH (1852) on four red enamel plaques. There is a suspension loop present, fitted at the rear, but the entire central disc is out of position by 90º clockwise. Is this unusual, or likely to be a fault in the assembly of the original medal?

This insignia lacks the typical suspension (a red-enamelled crescent and star suspender with green enamelled edges); this has been removed and the star instead has a horizontal brooch mount on the reverse. The reverse bears a fitted concave silver disc which is engraved to: “Thomas Coutts Morison Staff Surgeon P.M.O. Sultan’s Coʃsacks”, which I think reflects the writing style of the day.

Any comments or feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Paul Rosenzweig

Paul Rosenzweig


Software Error in Members Posting Permissions

It has come to my attention that an error in the system has affected some members ability to start topics or post in ongoing threads . This has mainly affected joining members (who joined in the last couple of months), as well as some members who have recently upgraded or downgraded their membership.

I am glad to say the issue has been rectified for new joining members, however there may well be a few members that are still being prevented from posting or starting new topics. Without individually logging onto and checking every membership account, I cannot retrospectively apply an easy fix for all members. Therefore I am having to rely on members reporting the issue to me.

Can i ask that all participating members check this functionality and please PM (PM system is not affected by this) or email me if you think you have problems posting. If you identify, you have been affected I can easily and quickly repair your accounts and rectify the situation for you.




When some medals seem to just keep coming back...

Over on another forum, the cry usually goes up three weeks before the actual date of the medal auction: "The catalogue is online!"

The first thing one does, if one happens to live in Canada, is check the five-hour time difference between here and the UK, to make sure that most of the British collectors are safely in bed and won't be using up all the website's bandwidth.

Then the apprehension starts: What will they have up this time? Will there be anything for me on there? What if there's *too much* for me on there this time? Do I have enough money in the Fund to pick up something shiny?

I open the search function on the catalogue and enter my terms. Then I click and wait. The list of items within my interests shows up and I start scrolling down. That's nice; so is that ... then one particular listing catches my eye.

I know those medals. I've seen them before. Not just once, but twice, offered for sale from various medal dealers. Every time I've gotten the money together to snag them, they end up being sold, only to reappear a few months later in another shop window. The price, oddly enough, has stayed somewhat constant, allowing for time, inflation, and expenses.

There's nothing wrong with the set, or so I think. Those medals which are named are named properly. Those which aren't are authentic. The pictures all appear to be of the same medals, just taken in different environments, showing the whims of the individuals to photograph them in their own way. The dealers are reputable, as is the auction house.

I've got a canny bid in on this set and would like to win it. But even if I don't, I have a feeling I'll be seeing them again shortly...

But why do they keep coming back?

I've seen this happen before, with Rex Cosh's set of 10. They went through two or three auction houses and a dealer before I snagged them. I've seen it with some other sets. One dealer sells to another, who sells the set. Then they appear a year or two later on E-bay, only to wind up across the pond in the UK, for sale again from yet another dealer, now all nicely mounted together rather than loose.

What keeps some sets in the purgatory of cycling around and around?




Thomas Coutts Morison MD

I am trying to discover if Thomas Coutts Morison's Medjidie medal is genuine. I have details of his enlistment in the Turkish Contingent in London in 1855, and I know from letters found in Australia that he served in the Crimea with Count Zamoyski's Sultan's Cossacks. I can find no record in the various London Gazettes of his having been awarded the medal but I have seen pictures of a medal which has been auctioned at various times in recent years, and it is engraved on the back with Thomas Coutts Morison, PMO (Principal Medical Officer) Sultan's Cossacks, and has been turned into a brooch. Does anyone know if the Sultan issued medal to the Contingent separately to those gazetted for British army officers? Morison's medal was part of his possessions when he died in Rockhampton, New South Wales. I suspect he may have obtained a medal and had it engraved for himself, but be interested to know if the Turks awarded any medals to British citizens in the Turkish Contingent, not gazetted in London.

Nick Hervey

Nick Hervey


Thomas Coutts Morison MD

I am trying to discover if Thomas Coutts Morison's Medjidie medal is genuine. I have details of his enlistment in the Turkish Contingent in London in 1855, and I know from letters found in Australia that he served in the Crimea with Count Zamoyski's Sultan's Cossacks. I can find no record in the various London Gazettes of his having been awarded the medal but I have seen pictures of a medal which has been auctioned at various times in recent years, and it is engraved on the back with Thomas Coutts Morison, PMO (Principal Medical Officer) Sultan's Cossacks, and has been turned into a brooch. Does anyone know if the Sultan issued medal to the Contingent separately to those gazetted for British army officers? Morison's medal was part of his possessions when he died in Rockhampton, New South Wales. I suspect he may have obtained a medal and had it engraved for himself, but be interested to know if the Turks awarded any medals to British citizens in the Turkish Contingent, not gazetted in London.

Nick Hervey

Nick Hervey


A Survivor of Isandlawana - Zulu War 1879


The Battle of Isandlawana in 1879 was the worst defeat inflicted on Britain in a Colonial War. For that reason
alone, this old newspaper report is a valuable document. However, it is far more then that - the details given
make it a valuable historical document, and it for this reason that I am posting it on the BLOG section. This
will allow it to be read by nonMembers who can access it from Google.

Basically it is the story of Mr. W.M. Adams - who died in December 1916 at the age of 96. The report of his
death and a short history of his life appeared in the Pietermaritzburg (Capital of Natal) "Natal Witness" of Dec.8th
1916. The story was written by a close friend of his and is therefore accurate - making it a rare historical
document from an earlier time.

Mr. Adams was born in England in 1820 - 7 months after the death of King George 3rd. He came to Durban at
at 22 years of age in 1842 - which makes him one of Natal's earliest pioneers

------------------------------------------------------http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_08_2012/blogentry-6209-0-38958400-1344782858.jpgclick to enlarge---------------------------------------

..................................................................THE LATE MR.W.M. ADAMS........................................................

.....................................REMINISCENCES OF ISANDLAWANA................................

Mr. William Adams Snr., whose photograph appears in this issue ,so well known in the Northern Districts as one of
the old pioneers, passed away on November 28th at the ripe age of 96.

I had known him intimately for some years and it is difficult to believe that the genial old gentleman, who strongly
held his own for half a century, and who so succesfully faced the hardships and perils of those early days, has at last
relinquisheed the struggle and answered the call to his long rest.

Mr. Adams landed at the Port of Durban in 1842, arriving in the 'King William' which accomplished the journey from
England in 3 1/2 months. He was then 22 years of age. Durban hardly existed in those days and ' McDonald's
Hotel ' where Mr. Adams took refuge was built of sods ! The young man became a trader and hunter and in the
course of his wanderings for 30 years he visited almost every part of South Africa, at one time venturing as far North
as the Zambesi.

.....................................................A HUNTER'S PARADISE......................................

Natal was then a hunters paradise and lions and elephants often fell to Mr. Adam's gun . Once an elephant
attacked him with such suddeness that he could only fall flat on the ground to avoid the charge. The animal's
feet actually missed by inches, but luckily the impetus carried the elephant sufficiently ahead to enable Mr. Adams
to recover his gun and as the animal returned to the attack he shot it dead.

Another time, Mr. Adams was being carried across the Tugela River by a native and just as they reached the bank,
the unfortunate native was seized by a crocodile and killed - Mr. Adams barely reached the bank.

In 1853 he married Maria Elizabeth Strydom. It was a happy union. She cheerfully with him the perils and the
privations of those early days accompanying him in his journeys proving herself a true helpmate and a good
mother to his children. She has survived him and is now 82 years of age.

Lattererly they have lived in a small cottage near the Helpmekaar Magistracy, with one of their Grandsaughters
as a companion. The home was not an elaborate one but it was spotlessly clean, and the old couple seemed as
contented with one another's society as they must have been when first married.

Their honeymoon took the novel form of a hunting trip to Zululand, in which they had an exciting experience.
One day a couple of lions stalked out of the shrubs ahead and barred the path. Their manes bristled and they
showed every indication of an attack upon the frightened oxen. Mr. Adams and two of his natives rushed
ahead, covering the lions with their guns - and shot them dead.

The young trader was well acquainted with the famous Dick King, and he often related the story of how one
winter's night he and Mr. King rode from Durban to Botha's Hill, the latter told him of his stirring ride to the Cape'for reinforcements. It was a wonderful story and Mr. Adams always spoke of Dick King as a ' fine fellow'.

One of Mr. Adam's earliest ventures was the establishment of a trading station at what is now Bond's Drift.
Here he met the veteran Dutch pioneer, Piet Hogg , and they had an exciting experience with the warlike Zulus.
It was just about the time that Cetywayo and Umbulazi were disputing for the headship of the Zulu Nation. One
day an armed party of Zulus swept down upon the traders , carried off the oxen and left the owners and their
families stranded. The plucky traders went off in hot pursuit, caught up the marauders and at great personal
risk demanded the return of the oxen. They were succesful and wisely decided to immediately trek South until
matters became more settled.

A year or two later found Mr. Adams and his family settled about four miles from Rorke's Drift. The country was
then a native location, there being only four white families in the district. One of those was Mr. Rorke, whose name
will live forever in history, on account of the famous drift named after him.

When Cetywayo finally became King it was apparent to Mr. Adams - living as he did on the border - that serious
trouble was brewing. He joined the Border Mounted Rifles, and at the outbreak of war held the rank of
Quarter Master Sergeant.

.........................................................http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_08_2012/blogentry-6209-0-38958400-1344782858.jpgclick to enlarge...........................................

There was no adventure which he told so freely as those which befell him in the Zulu War. He and his son were
present at the fatal battle of Isandlawana. He was one of the first to realise the danger on that disastrous day.

The small British force was scattered, and as the mighty Zulu Impi, half moon in shape sprang out of their hidden
dongas and began advancing on to the doomed band, Mr Adams pleaded with the Imperial Officers to concentrate
and form a laager. His advice was unheeded. He fired to the last and as the 'horns' were closing round, he and
others , seeing that all was lost, dashed through the opening and made for Fugitives Drift. He was pusued most of
the way and just managed to reach the Buffalo River in safety. A few days later he had the joy of meeting his son
whom he had given up as lost and who had escaped at a drift lower down. ' How did you manage to escape ' I
more then once asked him and the old gentleman - with a twinkle in his eye - woulkd reply ' Funk and a good horse'.

Mr. Adams also took part in the first Boer War, this time in the Transport Service. At the close he returned to
Rorke's Drift, where he remained until the outbreak of the second Boer War. He was taken prisoner by the Boers,
sent to Pretoria, but subsequently released and he ultimately arrived via Delgoa Bay. Later he was joined by his wife who
though 60 years of age, evaded the Boers and in a small waggon crossed Zululand and entered Natal through
Bond's Drift.

He was fond of telling of the changes that had taken place in Durban since he first saw it. Then it was a collection
od sand dunes and thick bush and these had now given place to an up-to-date and prosperous seaport , with trams,
macadamised streets and all those things which mark the advance of a 20th. Century civilisation.

He returned to Rorke's Drift, but in 1910 after a residence there of 54 years he sold out and purchased a small home at
Helpmekaar, where the old couple spent their declining years. He took a keen interest in the present European War
and enjoyed good health to the last. We all hoped and believed he would reach his Century.

He was born 7 months after the death of George 3rd. of England and so lived during the reign of 5 Sovereigns.

On the morning of the 24th November he looked ill. Mrs Adams sent for the Doctor who pronounced the illness
to be of a serious nature. He never rallied but passed peacefully on the 28th ultimoo and was buried in
Helpmekaar the following day.

In addition to his widow, he leaves 6 children (living) , 36 grand children and 10 great granchildren.

I hoped you enjoyed reading of this early pioneer - of people such as this the British Empire was set-up.

Mervyn Mitton

Mervyn Mitton


Collecting more but enjoying it less?

Collecting More but Enjoying It Less?

Up before dawn and after a stop at Tim Horton’s coffee shop back on the road for an hour’s drive. Arriving at the “Tim’s” located in the town or city of your destination, after all, Canadian’s plan their trips in accordance to the location of a handy Tim’s. Fresh coffee in hand you pull into the show’s parking lot and at this early hour there is almost an unlimited choice of parking spaces. Dawn has broke and you find yourself in line, hot coffee in hand to help fight off the cold chill of the morning, awaiting the minutes before the doors will be flung open allowing the flood of eager collectors and hunters to stream in.

Yes, it’s Gun Show Day down Canada way!

An auditorium filled to capacity with dealers and enthusiasts alike. There are guns, swords, knives, medals and sundry equipment in abundance. People talking to people of like interest and you are able to actually pick up an item, unlike the on-line auction houses wares you may have “won”. With a bit of luck and a fair bit of haggling you may be heading home in a few hours with a new treasure to add to your, collection room, war room, Rambo room or study, whatever you call your Sanctum sanctorum.

Gun, militaria and medal shows are tactile and social events filled with sights (no pun intended) and sounds ranging from laughter to argument. Deals made, information and goods exchanged. They are the market places of old where customer met wares, the trading centres so important to the development of our countries and our way of life.

For the past decade I have more or less turned my back on shows opting instead for the ease and convenience of the internet based auction houses such as the famous or infamous eBay. There are others though this is the one I have carried out business with. It hit me a few days ago that while I was collecting a lot more I may, in fact, be enjoying it a lot less.

My mind got to wandering, which it is prone to do now that I am older, of the days when I would go fishing with my childhood buddies. On the lake in our canoes before dawn, listening to the loon song wavering over the still water. A chill in the air and the water feeling like warm tea to the touch; the joking about one of the crew having once stepped in a soft spot in the muskeg and plunging through to the putrid water below, up to his waste, while on portage. Some days the fish would bite and some days it was the mosquitoes, such is the angler’s world and we wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Then the years passed by, we all got busy with families and careers, some with wives and girl friends, etc. Some got side tracked with divorces when wives met girlfriends. It’s all in the timing you know. Now almost all of my boyhood friends are no longer with us, residing in a much hotter place down below us. In Florida! What were you thinking? Now I go to the supermarket and if I want fish to I pick from a vast array of different fish, both fresh and frozen. I never fail to reach my “quota” and I never provide a snack for those vampires of the insect world. I also don’t talk about the experience as it has become mundane. There is no bragging rights or accusations of exaggerating the length of a fish taken two years hence; and no defending that exaggeration - as we all know it was indeed much shorter than now claimed.

Eventually my mind did return to the topic at hand and I wondered if what has happened to my pursuit of that monster bass, pickerel (walleye), pike or lake trout has happened to my collecting. You don’t have to believe this but about four months ago I swore off eBay and any other on-line auction and started once again to attend miltaria and gun shows. To my amazement the thrill of the “hunt” has returned. The crowd has changed somewhat. The majority are a lot younger and the “old boys” with their gruff exteriors and ample girths have been replaced by...(now this is depressing)...me. The last show turned up a nice little flintlock pistol and I have reacquainted with some of the dealers who are still attending. There is a trade pending involving a Brown Bess and my surplus collectables which would never have happened on eBay.

This may not be the way to go for all collectors, especially the younger collector, trying to build a collection and especially if on a shoestring budget. I’m not bragging but I’ve built a good base collection and I no longer feel the need to add great qualities to the collection. So I am content to pay a bit more and collect fewer items of a bit higher quality. Many of these items are not available on the internet auctions and it is always best if you can handle collectables that are more expensive and rarer.

So for me, I am now collecting less and enjoying it more, a lot more.


Brian Wolfe

Brian Wolfe


White with elk or deer

I have these two believe police hats, looking for help to identify where they are from. The blue with red band has tag inside "By appointment of her majesty the queen etc.

The white hat has a typed piec of paper inside "POL WISLER HEINRICH".

Any help would be great in finding out where these hats are from.




28 June 2012

Haven't written in a while; otherwise occupied lately. Anyway, I have a few days off which, when added to the days I'd normally be off comes to a total of seven days, thought I'd drop a few lines to let everyone know (A) I'm still sucking air and am warm and upright, and (B) what I'm up to as far as collecting goes.

I've been concentrating on my primary interest lately, which is state security/internal ministry/border troops/fire brigades, and my focus, at least at present, is directed toward the USSR. To tell you the truth, it's been kind of nice to return to the USSR after spending so much of my collector time elsewhere. Anyway, while I am limited (financially) to what I can seek ("egg" badges are out for me at present), I've found some gems that are within my realm. I've added the following to my USSR gallery in case anyone would like to take a look:

- Medal for Distinguished Service in Defense of State Frontier (3rd variation)
- Medal for Distinguished Service in Defense of Public Order (2nd variation)
- 60 and 70 Year Border Troop badges (the official badges)
- An early 1985, two piece gold Outstanding Militiaman badge (set completer)
- A '62-'66 Belorussian MOOP badge (set completer)
- A set of KGB type 1 service medals
- A '92 70 Years of the North Western Border Guard veteran's badge (set completer)
- A 60 year Tajikistan Border Troop veterans badge (not posted yet)
- Several Georgian MVD documents, including I.D.'s (not posted yet)
- An interesting 50 year anniversary badge of the MVD unit concerned with the misappropriation of state property (not posted yet)

So yeah, I've been busy. And, I continue the search (in case you may have some things you're looking to get rid of... hint).

Other than that, life goes on here pretty much uneventfully. It's supposed to be quite warm over the next several days- 93 today, climbing to 103 by Saturday. That and, of course, we live without air conditioning- we generally don't need it, but it would come in handy for the few days we have like this. Anyway, if I don't fry or bake to death, I'll write more soon.

Greg Collins

Greg Collins


Document Archive

Document Archive

I have recently refreshed this area and want to explain its purpose and use.

The document archive allows members to upload and download files in a large format. It is like an online library which allows the archiving of material in a variety of formats including PDF files which our members can access to support their research of military history or military collectables. I see it as an area to upload scans of books, or lengthy documents.

This is primarily a free resource in that it is free to upload and download files. However there is is the facility for members to upload files which attract a fee for other members to download. This essentially allows members posting the document the facility to charge a cost per download. GMIC handles this fee (a small administrative charge is made to the member selling files to support the forum) and passes it on to the member via electronic payment.

As with all uploads on GMIC the member uploading must be clear on who owns the copyright to any work, especially when a charge is being made to download it. For further information on costs and methods of payment please contact me direct.

When an article is uploaded a support post is automatically created in the Document Archive Forum which allows members to comment or ask further questions to the members posting the documentation.