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  • Brian Wolfe

    An Apology - of sorts

    By Brian Wolfe

    I often describe myself as slightly paranoid, which then seems to make others think I have some sort of philological issues.  I don’t believe I am being “watched” for example.  That would, in my opinion, suggest that I hold some degree of celebrity in my mind; this would also, if it were the case, indicate that I think that I am somehow a fellow of above average interest to others.  I must admit that if I were any less interesting people would fall asleep during a hand shake with me. Perhaps what I should say is that I strive to be more careful than average when it comes to making purchases and in believing everything I am told.  Purchases such as left-handed baseball bats and non-flammable candles may be easy enough to avoid.  However I have lost count of all of the collectables I have purchased and then a few days later wondered how I could have made such unwise choices. A few examples of what I allude to are, prices being far too high or items that really didn’t fit into my collecting themes.    The problem of knowing when you are being told something other than the truth can at times be difficult.  There are some physical signs which must not be taken on individual basis, such as someone rubbing their nose or excessive blinking of the eyes.  These so-called signs, on their own, can be explained away as having nothing to do with attempted deceit. Collectively such signs, along with other indications may be used, in law enforcement as an example, to accept the statement or doubt what you are being told.   The most difficult “stories” to determine their truthfulness is when the person telling the story actually believes it to be the truth.  This and the manner in which the story is delivered and the interpretation of what has been said may end in one doubting the story as being the truth.  Two examples come to mind.  If you hear someone say that smoking can be bad for you and you need to take measures to avoid smoking, you may think of someone inhaling smoke from a cigarette, which fits the caution; or something else.  If you are standing too close to your BBQ and your clothing is starting to smoke then surely you need to take measures (stepping back) to avoid bursting into flames.  My second, and last example, comes from the television comedy, Saturday Night Live (SNL) that first appeared in 1975 which is famous for their rather juvenile humour appealing to the adolescent mind.  I became rather old and stuffy about 40 years ago and therefore stopped watching SNL.  One of the sketches involved a group of people telling an individual on a beach that “You can’t look at the sun too long”.  Most of us would take this as a warning and realize staring at the sun could be detrimental to your vision and not misinterpret this as you can’t get over the majesty of the sun, for example.  Of course the poor fellow being advised took the first interpretation with disastrous results. No, my retelling of this story is not very funny however, as has been said, “You had to be there to see it”.   One of the stories  that has floated around guns shows and places where people interested in military history gather, at least here in Canada, is the topic of this blog.  Yes, I know it has taken me a long time to get to the point...as usual.  Why say something in a couple of dozen words when a plethora of paragraphs can achieve the same results? That’s a rhetorical question of course.   The story is that one can turn an FN FAL C1,or C1A1, rifle from a semi-automatic to a full automatic weapon by inserting a piece of match book in the correct place in the internal workings.  This I have always held as being complete garbage. Any of those reading this who have served in the Canadian Armed Forces in the past and used the FN FAL C1 and the FN C2 please hold off on your hate mail until the end of this blog.    The Canadians used the FN FAL C1, a semi-automatic battle rife with the 7.62X51mm NATO round from 1953, being the first to officially adopt the FN FAL, until 1984 when it was replaced by the 5.56x45mm NATO C7 rifle and the C8 carbine both based on the American US AR-15.  The British and Commonwealth Nations used the same rifle as Canada but called it the L1A1. I have read that the rifle was commonly known as the FAL however in my area of Ontario at least, we refer to it as simply the “FN”.    Here’s where the claim of using the FN C1, inserting a piece of match book to turn it into an automatic weapon, becomes argument.  In each case where this has come up in the past I have tried to delve more deeply into this claim by asking if the service person is saying that with the insertion of a matchbook into the FN C1 they have changed it from a battle rifle (semi-automatic) into an assault rifle (full auto).  Without exception the answer is “yes”.  The problem in my mind, I have just recently discovered, is not whether you can modify an FN C1 with a foreign object to malfunction and discharge the weapon in rapid succession but have you actually “changed” this battle rifle into an assault rifle.  A basic definition of an assault rifle is that it is a carbine sized firearm using a large capacity magazine capable of sustained full automatic fire.  The FN FAL, even fitted with a large capacity magazine, falls short of being an assault rifle on two of the most important requirements that I have stated, even with the matchbook modification.   To all of the servicemen in my past who have engaged me in this argument, and there have been quite a few, I apologize.  You are correct in that you can make an FN FAL C1 malfunction to fire several rounds in rapid, automatic-like, succession.  On the other hand I would offer the suggestion that this could be done with almost any semi-automatic rifle.    On the other hand (you knew there would be an “on the other hand”) to all servicemen in my past who have engaged me in argument you failed miserably in qualifying your claim fully.  You did not, I must repeat, did not, change this battle rifle into an assault rifle, and especially to one fellow who claimed to have changed the FN FAL C1 into the C2A1, the squad automatic weapon (SAW),  as the C2 has a much more robust barrel to withstand the heat generated by sustained rapid fire.  Some of our members might note that they have seen an FN FAL C1 with a selective fire option and you would be correct.  There were some FN FAL C1 rifles fitted with the selective fire option and used only by the Royal Canadian Navy to give boarding parties the option of a full automatic weapon without the weight of the C2A1.     In past blogs I have managed to attempt to prove and at times disprove some claims.  I’ve disproved some claims about the Battle of Crecy and the crossbow. We then proved the capabilities of the crossbow in experiments that were undertaken with minor casualties. These experiments also brought to light that during an apology for a range mishap the suggestion that, “It is only a cat”, is best left unsaid. I think we successively supported claims regarding the possibility of an accidental discharge of the STEN gun.  Now we have supported the claim that the FN FAL C1 can be made to fire with the insertion of a foreign object; yet without actually fully admitting that I was wrong.  It’s a win, win situation!    I will continue with my version of paranoia and look for myths that I can prove or disprove, while being on guard against my own poor purchase decisions.    The post has just arrived and I need to close now and open the shipment of prefabricated postholes I purchased on eBay.   Ever vigilant   Regards Brian      
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    Please help.
    My Grandfather, AB A.J.Holland served on HMS Terrible during the 2nd Boer War in the battles in the relief of Ladysmith and also when the ship was active on the China Station in the Boxer Rebellion at the relief of Peking.
    I know that his duties in South Africa were based on transporting ships guns to Ladysmith. He was awarded the Queens South Africa Medal with R of L bar. I am custodian of the afore mentioned medal. The medal appears to be silver and is engraved around its circumference with his number, name and ship. The type face or font appears to be a different style compared to those medals I have viewed on other websites. I hope that it's the genuine item but how can I tell?
    Additionally, he served as part of a gun crew in the battles of the relief of Peking. However, I cannot find any information to show whether he was awarded or should have been awarded a China War Medal. I recently read a book about the activities of HMS Terrible during this time, written by the ships Master at Arms. In the book, my Grandfather is listed as being part of a crew responsible for the operation of a gun. It is only from this information that I ascertain his role in the Relief of Peking.
    My question is; Is there a member knowledgeable in the field of the 2nd Boer War/Boxer Rebellion that could point me in the right direction to check out these two points or help in finding further information?
    Please advise.
    Thank you in anticipation,
    John Holland
    john.holland40@me.com

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    I have written a book which will be published later this year. In it I have written an article about The
    Lord Wakefield Gold Medal. I have been able to name nineteen recipients of this medal and would like to name more if possible. I saw a Blog by HOLYBOY who I thought said that he owned one of these medals.
    Please get in touch. This is my first blog.

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    Victory in combat relies on proficient scheduling along with prompt implementation of strategies. At the same time, there is a need to alter all obtainable information in to rapid dealing and efficient planning. As the saying goes, “the more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war”.
    In these circumstances, military solutions are offered by companies like Rolta who offer an elegant and helpful tool which not only ensures smooth progress of outfitted planning but also furnishes senior officers at different levels with a wide-ranging training application, which is, war gaming. The solution provides a perfect stability by training the soldier during peace and by assisting rapid planning and implementation during war. They set caters for war gaming necessities at special ranks.

    Some of the important solutions needed during this period are:-

    • Maps and Geographic Information System (GIS)
    • Operational Planning Tool
    • Wargaming System
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    Hi all

    I maybe going to Erbil, Iraq with work for an extended period of tie and would like to know if there is the possibility of buying British medals at any markets or shops there, if so any assistance would be great

    regards and thanks

    Caz

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    Smartie
    Latest Entry

    Hi. I'm hoping there's someone who can help me? I'm doing some research on a family member who was part of the Northern Rhodesia Police Force during the 1950's. His name is Alexander Dodding and he was a member of Swansea Police(PC 73). He left for Northern Rhodesia in April/May 1953. I would be very grateful for any information and/or records.
    Thank you.

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  1. TWR's Blog

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  2. blog-0178235001420148872.jpg

    New Year's Day is a time for reflection. One cannot help but wonder what thoughts went through the minds of the Kaiser's Gunners as the New Year opened on 1 January 1915. Or what were the thoughts of their comrades in the Austro-Hungarian artillery or of the allied gunners pouring counterfire down on German positions. The Centenary of the First World War in the second half of 2014 was marked publicly by solemn ceremonies and reflective discussion. But from my opinion it still was a bit subdued. Of course, the crises of the day rightfully are the priority; not to mention the day-to-day grind of simply making one's way in this complicated world. Who has time to remember the troubles of 100 years ago? What significance do bits and baubles of leftover metal, enamel, ribbon, canvas, steel or leather have today? Since so few pieces of personal documents have survived, surely they cannot be of any significance.

    But to serious collectors like those of us here at GMIC, these things do matter. Sometimes I think we collect - and remember - both the heroic and the mundane (not only of the First World War, but from all the periods in which we find our collecting interest), with the simple hope that one day, we too will be remembered. History is often looked down upon by many (especially school children and students) as just old things and dead people in a book. Okay, well maybe as just old things and dead people on a Wikipedia web page. They fail to see that post cards from a soldier in the trench were the Twitter feed of today. They fail to see that hand-written diaries are the equivalent of a Facebook page. More importantly, they fail to see that history is around them every day: in the news, in their neighborhood, in their neighbors' lives, and in their own lives. Students understandably question why they should learn about people, places, and events in the past; we as "historians" and "teachers" have failed to show them relevancy. As a collective society, we must inspire each other to have a natural curiosity and awareness about the past so that we see how it affects the present. Perhaps then, armed with this knowledge, we can become active participants in shaping a better future for our communities, both locally and globally. This is why I believe the discussion we had earlier on GMIC about the causes of the First World War was so important.



    And this also is why these bits and baubles we collect are so important. They are tangible. They are a spark for curiosity. As collectors, I do believe that we serve a larger purpose of preserving history. One trend that continued in 2014 is especially troubling: the closing of brick-and-mortar museums. The scaling back in the scope of the Royal Artillery Museum "Firepower" in Woolwich, England due to budget issues announced in May 2014 is only one example. (Unfortunately, this trend started long ago in the United States with the scraping of the US Army Ordnance Museum in 2007.) It is perhaps inevitable. Reflecting on my own collecting past of 2014, I too scaled back due to budget. In 2014, I continued in earnest my transition from a lucrative consulting career to a career in education, with its corresponding scale back in remuneration. Consequently, my largest single collecting purchase in 2014 cost less than $100; a 1914 Mons Star to a Royal Artillery Gunner. It did not cost a great deal, but it means a great deal to me in terms of my current collecting motivation - history. I did not previously have a 1914 Star in my collection; adding one in 2014 seemed most appropriate. I have yet to research the medal; nonetheless, that brings me to my next reflection and moves this rambling tome on to its next phase - resolution.



    I didn’t collect much in 2014; I only added 10 new regiments in my effort to collect something representing every Imperial German artillery regiments. On the other hand, I researched more of the history behind my items. While quite basic, I enjoyed researching and writing the first four articles in the series “Artillery of the First World War” for GMIC Articles: Germany, France, Belgium, and Russia. I also wrote a special edition, “The Royal Artillery at Mons” and a piece on the “Königlich Bayerisches 12. Feldartillerie-Regiment (12. bFAR).” An article on the effect of large scale artillery bombardments in the First World War is in very rough draft. So, I resolve to spend less money on stuff and more time on research and writing in 2015. I am certain that The Chancellor of the Household Exchequer will ensure I keep this resolution! Like many of us, my collection rambles outside the boundaries of my main focus on artillery in the First World War. So, I also resolve to liquidate some of the more far-flung pieces; of course, if I can construe even the slightest connection to artillery, it will stay. The Chancellor may have to intervene to enforce rigor and discipline in the culling process.



    Realizing that one well-aimed shot can be more effective than several hundred tons of high explosive, I will wrap up this New Year's missive with one simple challenge: share your collecting reflections and resolutions for 2015.

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    Hi
    Can somebody please help identify exactly which model Lee Enfield rifle this is.

    Thank You

    http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_08_2014/blogentry-17430-0-03628300-1407242878.jpeghttp://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_08_2014/blogentry-17430-0-13444800-1407242900.jpeghttp://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_08_2014/blogentry-17430-0-73086700-1407242920.jpeghttp://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_08_2014/blogentry-17430-0-31203500-1407242950.jpeghttp://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_08_2014/blogentry-17430-0-60023200-1407243024.jpeghttp://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_08_2014/blogentry-17430-0-15120400-1407243047.jpeg

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    Dear Members,

    My great-grandfather served in the Serbian infantry during the Great War. Although I have seen his picture in uniform, I am interested in discovering sources of components of the uniform, or of uniforms for sale (original or reproduction.

    Thank-you for your assistance!!

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    Can anyone tell me please? Is there any particular significance to the words "CassinoStar" in metal, attached to the medal ribbon. From the issue number on the obverse of the medal it would appear that it was issued to a member of the 11th Signals (Polish). Wladyslaw Najduch

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    blog-0962627001418484046.jpg

    30392 Trooper John Northfield was in the 21st Cheshire Company, 2nd Battalion Imperial Yeomanry. I have accessed his discharge papers via Ancestry.com, but are any other details available. I'm intrigued because he was a pastry chef by trade and to my knowledge had never ridden a horse.

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    Hi

    Firstly, apologies for the unsolicited email. I was researching the attached and came across a blog on this site dating back to 24 March 2006.

    As you will see from the attached, I have some aerial photographs from WW1 and have previously researched them. What interested me was a discussion concerning an " Ernst Kempfer" and my photos were taken by him. A posting by “Rick Research” on 25th March 2006 @ 06.04 states Kempfers’ unit as Feld Fliger Abteilung 9, this is clearly visible on the reverse of the photos.
    I enjoyed reading the postings on 7th May 2006 @ 18.25 where it detailed Kempfers’ “war life” and stated amongst other facts that he was awarded a number of medals including the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd class.

    As an off chance, I don’t suppose anyone would have any further details on Kempfer or would have any idea of the photos true financial worth?

    Any assistance would be much appreciated

    Regards
    D Pollard

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