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To the Point, Part 1
British Edged Weapons Problems.
Yet another function where my attendance is somehow mandatory, seated at a round table with barely room for five couples none of whom I know; if I did get to know them I am confident I would not like their company. Men in suits that look like they originally belonged to their fathers with dress shirts that are so small that the top button can only dream of ever being reunited with its intended closure. A failed attempt to hide up the fact that the shirt is far too small made by disguising the open space with the large King Edward’s knot reminding one of a convicted felon, neck in the noose, awaiting the final drop to oblivion. Then there is the inane conversation. The ladies content to swap stories of grandchildren and the men struggling to find a mutually respected sports team. My wife has cautioned me on several occasions about my conduct and what I should and should not say or discuss among those of whom I am unfamiliar. To the question as to whether I follow or have an interest in a certain sports team I now simply say “no”. Apparently this is preferable, according to my spouse, to replying with, “not in the least”, to the sports question. Personally I can tolerate those with single faceted, career related, interests at least they can be interesting and there is a slight chance that one can actually learn something new, making the sacrifice of my time, a finite commodity, somewhat worth the expenditure. I like to hope that at least a couple of these posturing male gorillas attempting to establish themselves to be the alpha silver back has enough intellect to avoid metaphorically throwing their own feces and even accidently offering up a topic of interest; but sadly, no. It’s not that there are no topics that I could be engaged in to discuss, even debate. Of course history, but also science and the feared taboo topics of politics and religion, both of which I am quite capable of carrying on a civilized, or a more heated, conversation.
Finally there is an oasis in the midst of this sea of banality, the “seven minute lull”. It has been said that during any conversation, I suspect even more so during trivial banter, there will be a lull in the conversation every seven minutes or so. It is times like these that I find myself wishing there was a terrorist waiting in the lobby ready to rush in, encased with explosives, screaming some ridiculous babble, intent on ending our existence. Oh, would it were so. I assure you that I would run up to this fanatic, hugging him, pulling the detonator pin myself; but, again, sadly no. Just prior to the so-called lull and my wish for escape, any escape, someone said, “The problem with today’s society is social media”. Eureka, the topic for this month’s blog suddenly came to me. No, no, not today’s social media as my “world” is the mid to late 19th century; it is the media of the Victorian times and in particular the “fake news” (yes, I know the modern reference) as it pertained to the British military swords and bayonets of the day. Oh, yes, the topic of what is wrong with the world today quickly deteriorated into what was wrong with today’s youth. From what I see today’s youth is basically not a lot different from the youth “of my day”. I just may not have yet reached the age where I am convinced that I know what the problems of today are and especially how to solve them. Though I suppose some people are wise beyond their age; yep, sarcasm.
We are all exposed to today’s media, be it through the handheld devices, laptop, PC, or traditional media. It is apparent that some sources are very bias toward a certain political idealism or popular consensus but while we may think we “own” this phenomenon as it seems so relevant to our times it is nothing new. Reports back to the home front from military actions, for example, have been common place for centuries in the form of official war diaries and more “as it happened” journalism through war correspondents. In the mid to late nineteenth century war correspondents were often “in the thick of it” during battles such as the Zulu and Sudan campaigns. In the case of the Sudan campaign, the Battle of Abu Klea 16 January 1885, some of the war correspondents defended themselves during this vicious battle with their privately purchased revolvers. As a point of possible interest an ancestor of mine, Lieutenant Richard Wolfe, No. 4 Co., HCR/Scots Greys, lost his life defending the British square during this battle.
As I have stated above some of the news papers of the time were very quick to point fingers, as to blame military failures, on the political party in power, in particular the Prime Minister. It was found that some of the swords and bayonets failed to perform as needed during the fierce battles often resulting in the death of the British Officer or soldier. This resulted in what was called the 1885 Bayonet Scandal. Basic blame was placed on the poor quality of the swords and bayonets used by the troops. In the case of the Officers they purchased their own swords as opposed to the NCO and other ranks who were issued government supplied weapons. At the time many sword blades were made in Germany and then sold to sword makers in Britain who would then finish the sword and sell it to the government for issue to the NCOs and other ranks, then swords for the Officer class were sold to retailers for private purchase. Some of the tailors, or retailers, would even place “proof marks” on the ricasso as if the sword had passed testing and were therefore “battle ready” which many were not. The “scandal” resulted in the testing of swords and bayonets already in the hands of the military as well as those in stores. It was found that a large percentage of weapons failed the trials; in the case of the socket and sword bayonets for the Martini-Henry this involved both the bending and twisting tests.
One of the early excuses for the failure of bayonets in the field was the accusation that soldiers used their bayonets as pokers to keep camp fires blazing. This was a “smoke screen” used by authorities to hide the testing results and associated blame from the public. An article in The Times, 13, January 1885 discounts this quoting an army source as saying, “Any use of a bayonet as a poker would not likely pass inspection the following morning”. This served to discount the original accusation. While the contractors who produced the sub-standard bayonets were never officially named there were two factors uncovered by the investigation in the manufacturing process that caused the defects.
“Firstly, the bayonets were all subject to bending tests and, so that the contractor could get the bayonet passed, he left them unhardened. This was necessary because, if hardened, they would break under tests, as inferior steel was used in the manufacture. The second reason was that some contractors used casehardening so that when bayonets were manufactured they were ground, then hardened and were then passed on for final grinding. If the bayonet was not much oversize then the bayonet would probably be all right, but if it were too much oversize all of the casehardening would be ground off, leaving the soft metal.”
Source: “British Military Bayonets from 1700 to 1945” by R.J. Wilkinson Latham.
The Patterns involved in the scandal, the Pattern 1853 sword-bayonet and the Pattern 1876 socket bayonet, were replaced by the Pattern 1886 which brought to an end the problems experienced. Future sword and bayonet manufacture was dominated by the firms of Wilkinson and Mole and manufacturing of weapons from firms in Germany ceased.
In this blog we looked mainly at the British bayonet and the associated scandal, in next month’s submission (Part 2: Staying Sharp) we will discuss the earlier problems with the British Cavalry swords, in particular those used during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 (also known as the Sepoy Mutiny).
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The Romanian 2nd Army's success at Marasti forced the Central Powers to revise their plans. The offensive planned in the Namoloasa area was abandoned and the bulk of the forces were moved in the Focsani area. The new offensive was going to be launched west of the Siret River, on the Focsani – Marasesti – Adjud direction, with the German 9th Army (general Johannes von Eben) and on the Oituz Valley with the Austro-Hungarian 1st Army (Archduke Joseph). The objective was to encircle and destroy the 2nd Army.
On the other side, the Romanian General Headquarters decided to cancel its attack in the Namoloasa area. The Russian 4th Army had to be pulled out from the front in southern Moldavia and moved north, where it could threaten the flank of the Austro-German forces advancing in Galicia. The Romanian 1st Army was going to replace the Russian troops departing the area.
For the offensive, the German 9th Army was strengthened with units brought from the French (the Alpine Corps, which arrived on 6 August) or Italian fronts. General von Eben decided to deliver the main blow with the German 1st Corps (6 divisions), while to its left the German 18th Reserve Corps (3 divisions) had to pin down the Entente troops opposite it. The right wing of the 9th Army was manned by the Ramnic Group (2 divisions). The reserve was made up of one German and one Austro-Hungarian divisions and the Alpine Corps, which arrived in the area during the first day of the battle. The German forces in the attack sector were 102 infantry battalions, 10 cavalry squadrons, 24 pioneer companies, 2 armored cars, 1,135 machine-guns, 356 mortars, 223 field guns and 122 heavy guns and howitzers.
Opposite the German 1st Corps was the Russian 4th Army, which had in contact with the enemy only two corps: on the right the 8th (3 divisions) and on the left the 7th (2 divisions). The reserve was made up of one infantry and one cavalry divisions. These totaled 84 infantry battalions, 52 cavalry squadrons, 280 field guns and 36 heavy guns. The bulk of the Romanian 1st Army was at Tecuci and was getting to cross the Siret River and replace the Russians.
The German 9th Army's offensive was preceded by a powerful artillery preparation, which began at 0430 hours on 6 August 1917. At 0730 hours the 1st Corps (general Kurt von Morgen) started the attack, with the 12th Bavarian, 76th and 89th Infantry Divisions in the first line and with another two divisions in the second echelon. The front defended by the Russian 13th and 34th Infantry Divisions was broken and 10 km breach was created. The Russians started a disorderly retreat east of the Siret River. At the request of the Russian command, general Constantin Christescu, CO of the 1st Army, ordered maj. general Eremia Grigorescu, CO of the Romanian 6th Corps, to intervene west of the Siret with the 5th Infantry Division and with the 9th Infantry Division to defend the river's eastern bank. The 32nd Dorobanti Regiment Mircea and the 8th Dorobanti Regiment Buzau counterattacked and stopped the Central Powers offensive on the line Moara Alba – Doaga – Furceni.
Seeing that the chances to force the crossing over the river are minimal, in the morning of 7 August, the German command redirected the offensive to the north, with four divisions. The effort was concentrated against the Romanian 5th Infantry Division, but the assault was repulsed. However, a bulge was created at the junction with the Russian troops, but the situation was saved by the counterattack of two battalions from the division's reserve. At noon, after a short artillery preparation, the enemy renewed the attack enjoying a 3 to 1 numerical superiority. The 3rd Vanatori Regiment held out in the Doaga village against an entire German division. The same thing happened in the sector of the 32nd Dorobanti Regiment Mircea. The soldiers in this unit made several bayonet charges only in their shirts, because of the suffocating heat, managing to push back the Germans to their positions. In the evening, the 1st Corps attacked and broke through the front of the Russian division on the right flank of the Romanian 5th Division. Threatened with the encirclement, the 32nd Regiment retreated to the Cosmesti Bridge. To fill the gap created, the Romanian 9th Infantry Division was introduced west of the Siret River. It was continuously attacked. In the evening of 7 August, under the cover of darkness, a German group approached and assaulted the 9th Division's flank, engaging into hand-to-hand fights. The Romanians abandoned Doaga and retreated to the outskirts of the Prisaca Forest, where a new defensive line was established. That day the 5th Division lost 44 officers and 1,770 soldiers (dead, wounded and missing). The front moved back 2-3 km.
On 8 August, general von Eben changed the attack sector to the west, on the front held by Russian units. In the evening, during the second assault, they were forced to retreat. A Russian regiment was almost completely destroyed. The Romanian front was bombarded and the attack on the 5th and 9th Infantry Divisions resumed the following day. On 9 August 1917, the German effort was increased. The assault started at 1900 hours, after a powerful artillery preparation, which caused many casualties to the 9th Division. Its troops were only able to dig foxholes, because the ground was very dry and hard to dig. The Germans again took heavy casualties because of the Romanian and Russian artillery situated on the eastern bank of the Siret River, which was firing directing into the attackers' flank. However, the first line of the Romanian defense was pierced in several spots, but reserves intervened and repulsed them after some very violent fighting. The 34th Regiment, which faced the 12th Bavarian Division, held out against three consecutive assaults. Only the 2nd Battalion, under the command of Major Gheorghe Mihail, the future Chief of the General Staff in 1940 and 1944, remained in the first line. It counterattacked and captured 62 prisoners and two machine-guns. The unit's battle flag was decorated later with Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class. The same award was bestowed upon the regiment's CO, colonel Virgiliu Dumbrava, as well the 2nd Battalion's CO. But the casualties were heavy: 35 officers and 1,551 soldiers. The 36th Regiment lost 36 officers and 954 soldiers. Also, the 7th and 32nd Dorobanti Regiments suffered many casualties. During the night, at 0200 hours, another assault took place and the Germans managed to push back for several hundred meters the 9th Division and the right wing of the 5th Division. The neighboring Russian division was also forced to retreat, but the Russian 4th Army counterattacked and captured 2,500 prisoners and recovered the lost ground.
The last failures had weakened the German 9th Army. Thus, general von Eben strengthened the 1st Corps with a new division and the 18th Reserve Corps with the Alpine Corps.
On 10 August, it was the Entente's turn to attack. General Christescu and general Ragoza, the CO of the Russian 4th Army, decided to strike each with a corps of two divisions the bulge in the German line. During the morning, the 9th Army attacked the Russian sector, but gained little ground. At 1700 hours, the allied infantry started the assault, after a long artillery preparation. The 9th Infantry Division took the first German trenches, but because of the losses it had to abandon them. Reinforced with a regiment form the Romanian 13th Infantry Division, it resumed the attack, but again without success. The 5th Infantry Division and a regiment of the 14th Infantry Division managed to get inside the German positions, but could keep them. The 8th Dorobanti and 3rd Vanatori Regiments managed to enter the Doaga village, but were repulsed. The situation was similar in the sector of the Russian 4th Army. However the offensive had reduced the combat potential of the German 76th, 89th and 115th Infantry Divisions, which had suffered the brunt of the assault. These were already exhausted after several days of failed attacks. The report of general von Eben to the Army Group CO, marshal von Mackensen, mentions the fact that the 216th Infantry Division had suffered many casualties because of the flank bombardment of the Romanian artillery yon the eastern bank of the Siret.
For the following day, general Christescu imposed a limited objective to the 6th Corps: the Doaga – Susita Valley. The Russian 4th Army had decided to remain on the defensive. The Germans attacked in its sector at 1600 hours, after a three hour artillery preparation, and again forced the Russian troops to retreat. At 1630 hours, the Romanian 9th Infantry Division began the assault without knowing the situation in the neighboring sector. After the Russian retreat the flank was exposed. The division's CO sent a battalion to extend the line. The Germans were advancing on Marasesti and the situation became extremely dangerous for the Entente. The 9th VanatoriRegiment, which was in the division's reserve, was quickly brought in and set up positions in the factory north of the town. It managed to stop the German troops that were threatening to encircle the 9th Infantry Division. For this action, lt. col. Gheorghe Rasoviceanu, the regiment's CO, was awarded the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class. A regiment of the 13th Infantry Division, from the 6th Crops' reserve, established the link with the Russians. The 5th Infantry Division attacked in the Doaga area, but the 7th and 8th Dorobanti Regiments failed to enter the village. The same day, maj. general Eremia Grigorescu was named at the command of the 1st Army.
Noticing that the troops of the German 1st Corps were exhausted, general von Eben decided to assign the main strike to the 18th Reserve Corps of maj. gen. Kurt von Wenniger, which had suffered fewer losses and was less tired. Thus, on 12 August, the 9th German Army attacked with small forces the 5th Infantry Division, in order to pin it down, and concentrated its forces against the Russian 4th Army, taking Panciu. Following this failure, general Ragoza wanted to retreat the Russian-Romanian front north of Marasesti., but abandoned the idea at maj. gen. Eremia Grigorescu's pleas. Lt. gen. Constantin Prezan, the Chief of the General Staff, decided to replace the Russian 7th Corps with the Romanian 5th Corps (10th and 13th Infantry Divisions) and to put the Russian 8th Corps under the command of the Romanian 1st Army. The staff of the Russian 4th Army was retreated to Bacau from where it was reassigned to another front.
On 13 August, the 18th Reserve Corps attacked the Russian troops north of Panciu, but failed to make any breakthrough. The following day, general von Eben ordered the 1st Corps to eliminate the Romanian bulge in the area of the Prisaca Forest and take the bridge over the Siret River at Cozmesti. In the same time, the 18th Reserve Corps had to attack on the Zabraut Valley. After powerful artillery preparation commenced the assault on the Russian 8th Corps' positions. Brig. gen. Henri Cihoski, CO of the 10th Infantry Division, sent the 10th Vanatori Regiment as help. It surprised the Alpine Corps and caused it important casualties, some in vicious hand-to-hand combat. The vanatori managed to take Hill 334, but were forced to retreat following a powerful artillery bombardment. The 38th Infantry Regiment Neagoe Basarab also intervened and its CO, col. Gheorghe Cornescu, received the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class for the counterattack that stopped the German offensive, which threatened to penetrate in the Susita Valley, behind the Romanian 2nd Army. The Russian 8th Corps was forced to pull back north of Iresti and Straoani.
The 5th Infantry Division, at the other end of the front, had been reduced to one third of its initial size during the last days of fighting. The positions in the Prisaca Forest were heavily bombarded by German artillery. At 1700 hours the assault began with two divisions and forced the Romanian troops to retreat. The division's reserves, as well as a regiment form the 14th Infantry Division, in the army's reserve, intervened and stopped the German advance north of the Prisaca Forest. The bridge at Cozmesti was blown up, as the Romanian engineers had built another two to the north. The exhausted 5th Infantry Division was pulled out of the first line.
On 15 August, the 18th Reserve Corps continued the offensive and managed to create a breach at the junction between the 10th Infantry Division and the Russian division to its right. The 10th Vanatori Regiment, supported by 10 Romanian and 3 Russian batteries, counterattacked and reestablished the situation. However, with its left wing, the 18th Corps took Muncel, forcing theRussians to pull back. Thus the link between the two Romanian armies was threatened. The 2ndArmy attacked with the "Colonel Alexiu" Detachment made up of 2 vanatori battalions, 2 infantry battalions and 3 artillery batteries, which, together with a Russian cavalry division, retook control of the village. The following day, the Germans occupiued half of Muncel, but were again forced to retreat after the assault of col. Alexandru Alexiu's men.
The days of 17 and 18 August were calm. The losses suffered by both sides, forced the commanders to reorganize their units. Maj. gen. Eremia Grigorescu replaced the 14th Infantry Division, which was deployed east of the Siret River, with the 1st and 6th Rosiori Brigades and the hard pressed 5th Infantry Division with the 2nd Cavalry Division. The latter and the two brigades formed the Cavalry Corps. The 14th Infantry Division was moved on the northern bank of the Siret River in the Cozmestii de Vale area. Also, the army's heavy artillery was redeployed so that it could better cover the sector of the 5th Corps (10th, 13th and 9th Infantry Divisions). The 1st Army's reserve was made up of the 15th Infantry Division and of the 5th Infantry Division, under reorganization. On the other side, at the intervention of marshal von Mackensen, general von Eben grouped 7 infantry divisions under the command of the German 1st Corps and subordinated almost all the heavy artillery of the 9th Army to it. These forces totalized 55 battalions and 95 batteries.
On 19 August, the Germans resumed the offensive, attacking with the 1st Corps towards Marasesti and with 18th Reserve Corps on the Panciu-Muncel direction. The main effort was concentrated in the sector between Marasesti and the Razoare Forest, defended by the Romanian 9th and 13th Infantry Divisions, the latter being assaulted by three enemy divisions. The artillery preparation started at 0630 hours in the area of the trenches of the 47/72nd, 51/52nd and 50/64th Infantry Regiments, from the first line of the 13th Infantry Division, and at the western outskirts of Marasesti, where the 9th Vanatori Regiment of the 9th Infantry Division was located. It lasted for two hours and was the most violent artillery bombardment of the entire battle. At 0900 hours the first assaults small scale began and were easily repulsed. After 1100 hours a very powerful attack started. The main blow was delivered north of the Razoare Forest, at the junction of the 13th and 10th Infantry Divisions. The 10th Infantry Division was attacked by the 13th Austro-Hungarian Division, which failed to breakthrough the Romanian lines.
The 13th Infantry Division, commanded by brig. gen. Ioan Popescu, was the Romanian unit that saw the most action that day. It occupied a front 6 km wide, with the 47/72nd Infantry Regiment at the south-western edge of the Razoare Forest, the 50/64th Infantry Regiment in the Negroponte Vineyards and the 51/52nd Infantry Regiment in the middle. The reserve was made up of one battalion of the 50/64th Regiment and the 48/49th Regiment. 15 Romanian and 15 Russian batteries provided artillery support.
The attack started at 0900 hours. In the sector of the 47/72nd Infantry Regiment, the German assaults failed one after another. The 1st Battalion was situated on the left wing, south of the Razoare Forest. It was attacked by the 28th Bavarian Infantry Regiment (from the 12th Bavarian Division) and by units of the German 89th and 115th Divisions. The 2nd Battalion, on the right wing, was assaulted by the Austro-Hungarian 13th Infantry Division. The 3rd Battalion was kept in reserve. The regiment's CO, lt. col. Radu Rosetti, the former chief of the Operations Bureau of the General Staff in 1916, was wounded at a leg during the fighting. At the center, the 51/52nd Regiment was situated in an open position ands was also powerfully attacked. It had to pull back. The Germans tried to use the momentum and infiltrate behind the positions of the two regiments on the flanks of the Romanian 13th Infantry Division. The 3rd Battalion/47/72nd Infantry Regiment, under the command of maj. Draganescu counterattacked and stopped their advance. The reserves of the 51/52nd Regiment joined the fight directed by the unit's CO, lt. col. Ioan Cristofor, buying time for the reinforcements sent by the division to arrive. The 1st Machine-gun Company commanded by cpt. Grigore Ignat, stubbornly held its position, being almost totally destroyed. Its CO was posthumously awarded the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class. However, the Germans advanced towards Hill 100, behind which the allied artillery was situated. The 50/64th Regiment had to pull back its right wing, because of the enemy advance in the sector of the 51/52nd Regiment. Lt. col. Diamandi Genuneanu, the 50/64th Regiment's CO, organized the defense south of Hill 100 and managed to hold out against two Bavarian regiments for two hours.
General Popescu organized the counterattack against the German forces closing in on Hill 100. The 2 battalions in reserve, together with the 3rd Battalion/47/72nd Regiment and other units attacked from several different directions the German 115th Infantry Division, which had infiltrated between the Razoare Forest and the Negroponte Vineyards. The artillery of the 10th Infantry Division also intervened in the fighting at that moment, at the orders of the army's CO. The 1st Battalion/50/64th Regiment, commanded by cpt. Nicolae Miclescu, emerged from the Negroponte Vineyards and surprised the German infantry in the area and pushed it back to towards the Razoare Forest. Cpt. Miclescu was wounded during the action. He was later awarded the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class. The 3rd Battalion/47/72nd Infantry Regiment and the 2nd Battalion/48/49th Infantry Regiment joined the battle. The resistance at the edge of the Razoare Forest was broken following a violent bayonet charge. The Germans started a disorderly retreat. The entire 47/72nd Infantry Regiment started a counterattack, followed soon by the 39th Infantry Regiment (from 10th Infantry Division). The German troops retreated towards the Susita Valley, dragging along the units of the Austro-Hungarian 13th Division. The Romanians captured the first line of the enemy positions, but the advanced was stopped by maj. general Eremia Grigorescu, because von Eben had already started to deploy his reserves.
The 10th Division and, especially, the 13th Division had achieved a great victory. The commanders of the two divisions, as well as the commanders of the 47/72nd, 50/64th and 51/52nd Regiments were awarded the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class. Another 7 officers received this high distinction for the fighting on 19 August. The 39th Infantry Regiment Petru Rares captured 376 POWs and 7 machine-guns and advanced 500 m on a 4 km wide front. The 47/72nd Infantry Regiment took 209 POWs and 4 machine-guns. But the losses were high. The same regiment lost 880 men (99 killed, 300 wounded and 481 missing). The regiment's flag, as well as those of the other hard pressed units on 19 August were also decorated with the Mihai Viteazul Order 3rd class.
The same day, the Germans attacked the sector of the 9th Infantry Division, situated south of the 13th Division. It had been reduced to 4,500 men in the previous days of hard fighting. In the first line were the 9th Vanatori Regiment on the right wing and the 40th Infantry Regiment Calugareni on the left wing. After a powerful artillery preparation, two German infantry divisions started their attack. Following some heavy fighting in the ruins of the factory north of Marasesti, the 9th Vanatori Regiment was forced to fall back towards the city. The 40th Infantry Regiment also abandoned its first positions. The 9th Division reformed the front on the line south Negroponte Vineyards – Marasesti Railroad Station – south Marasesti, which it held against the enemy assaults, with the help of the artillery of the 14th Infantry Division from the eastern bank of the Siret River, firing directly in the German flank.
Because of the failure of its army to take the objectives on 19 August, general von Eben decided that the continuation of the offensive was no longer possible. A week of pause followed, which both sides used for reorganizing. The 9th Army again changed the attack sector. The 18th Reserve Corps was strengthened with 3 divisions and the entire heavy artillery at the army's disposal. The Romanian 1st Army received the 11th Infantry Divison. Maj. general Eremia Grigorescu redeployed his forces. Thus, the Russian 8th Corps formed the army's right wing in the Muncelul area. It had two divisions in the first line and another two reforming in the back. The Romanian 5th Corps (10th and 15th Infantry Divisions) held the front all the way to Marasesti Railroad Station, where it linked up with the 3rd Corps (14th Infantry Division), situated between Marasesti and the Siret River. East of the river was the Cavalry Corps (1st and 6th Rosiori Brigades, 2nd Cavalry Division and one brigade of the 5th Infantry Division). The army's reserve was made up of the 9th, 11th and 13th Infantry Divisions and the other brigade of the 5th Division.
The offensive of the 18th Corps started in the sector of the Russian 8th Corps on 28 August. At 0900 hours the German troops infiltrated between the two Russian divisions and forced them to retreat. Two regiments of the Romanian 3rd Infantry Division from the 2nd Army intervened and managed to stop the German advance together with the Russian reserves. The following day, general Grigorescu prepared an attack in the Muncelul area, aimed at eliminating the bulge created by the Germans. He put at the disposal of the Russian 8th Corps another Russian division, as well as the Romanian 9th Infantry Division, a regiment from the 13th and another from the 15th Division. The two regiments from the 2nd Army were also supposed to participate in this action.
The assault started at 0800 hours, from the north and west, but found the Germans ready for an attack of their own and it was repulsed. The second one, around 1700 hours, was also repulsed. The Germans forced the right wing of the Russian 124th Division to pull back. Two battalions from the 2nd Army intervened and managed to stop the enemy advance during the night. The 11th and 13th Infantry Divisions were brought behind the threatened areas. The 5th Division crossed to on the western bank of the Siret River. On 30 August, the German 18th Reserve Corps resumed the attack and its troops managed to get between the 18th Dorobanti Regiment Gorj and the 2nd Vanatori Regiment of the 2nd Army. The 34th Infantry Regiment Constanta, belonging to the 9th Division from the 1st Army, counterattacked and plucked in the breach.
The Russian 8th Corps was strengthened with the 13th Infantry Division on 31 August, when, because of the weather, there was no fighting. General Eremia Grigorescu subordinated the 9th Infantry Division and a Russian division to the CO of the 13th Division, brig. general Ioan Popescu. This group attacked on 1 September. The artillery preparation started at 0600 hours, with all the artillery available to the group, as well as with the artillery of the other two Russian divisions and the army's heavy artillery. After one hour, the 9th and 13th Divisions attacked from the west and the 3rd Infantry Division (belonging to the 2nd Army), commanded by brig. general Alexandru Margineanu, from the north. After some heavy fighting, the 13th Division advanced up t o200 m of Muncelul. The 18th Corps counterattacked in the sector of the 3rd Infantry Division, but was repulsed. The following day, the same 3rd Division suffered the brunt of the 9th Army's strike. The main objective was the Porcului Hill, defended by the 30th Dorobanti Regiment Muscel. It lost the positions, but they were retaken following the counterattack of the division's reserves and of a Russian regiment. It was the last major operation of the German 9th Army in the Marasesti sector.
The offensive of the 1st Army in the Muncelul area was resumed on 3 September. The 11th Infantry Division was subordinated to the General Popescu Group, entering the first line beside the 9th and 13th Divisions. The Russian division and the regiments of the 2nd Army formed the reserve. The plan was to attack frontally with the 9th Division and a brigade of the 11th, while the 13th Division and the other brigade of the 11th Division were going to attack the Muncelul village, threatening the enemy flank. The artillery preparation started at 0630 hours and at 0800 hours the 13th Infantry Division started the assault, but could not make any progress. The same happened in the sector of the 9th Division. A second artillery preparation, which lasted for an hour and a half, and some violent hand-to-hand fighting were necessary for the 13th Infantry Division to occupy the eastern edge of the Muncelul village. But the Romanian losses that day were heavy: about 2,700 men.
This was the last day of the battle of Marasesti, both sides deciding to adopt a defensive attitude on the entire front. The Romanian 1st Army had lost 610 officers and 26,800 NCOs and soldiers, while the German 9th Army had lost about 47,000. Forty Mihai Viteazul Orders 3rd class were awarded for deeds accomplished during the fighting around Marasesti. Maj. general Eremia Grigorescu received the Mihai Viteazul 2nd class. Also, the flags of no less than 9 regiments were decorated with the Mihai Viteazul 3rd class.
The fighting continued with little intensity the following days, with local attacks and counterattacks. In one of these clashes, on the Secuiului Hill on 5 September, the volunteer Ecaterina Teodoroiu was killed by machine-gun fire, while leading her platoon. On the other side, on 8 September, maj. general Kurt von Wenniger, CO of the German 18th Reserve Corps, was killed by an artillery shell in the Muncelul area.
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Hello to all
I am a new young on this site.
I am French and collector of Japanese medals.
I have just purchased a set : medal of 7è class of the order of the sacred treasure with its diploma and the translation by the embassy of Japan.
This decoration was given to a police officer asked to assure of the protection of prince Hiro Hito (not still emperor) during his visit in Paris June 2nd, 1921.
(Visit of the Eiffel Tower and meeting with Gustave Eiffel, visit of "Le Louvre", "Les Invalides" and the military airport of the Bourget.)
This police officer was decorated a few days after the visit of Hiro Hito June 7th, 1921.
I do not know how to read the characters Kanji and I shall like knowing if it is mentioned in the diploma the motive for the delivery of this decoration.
Big thanks to the one who will be kind enough to answer and help me
I am sad to announce that Mervyn Mitton who has been Senior Moderator and friend to many of us on GMIC for several years passed away on Wednesday. He had been ill for many years, but he never let this get in the way of his passion for Militaria and Police Collectables. His knowledge of British Police history and collectables was immense and his death is a tragic loss to GMIC and the wider collecting world. Mervyn was always very proactive on GMIC and a real driving force behind the scenes amongst the staff. I will miss his old world charm, warmth, generosity and guidance. Yes he could be slighlty cantankerous at times, but that was part of his makeup, an old school English Gentleman a dying breed that are irreplaceable. I will miss him.
Olvasd el a Caterpillar Club honlapját! A családi levelezés közt Keress olyan Tábori posta-lapot, mélyén egy K.und K.Festungsartilleriebataillon Nr.8.
30.5 cm.Mörserbatterie Nr.8. --- Bélyegzőt találod !! ./ UNCLOWN-UNBEKANNT /
Küldj fotót és automatikusan Tagja leszel a CATERPILLAR CLUBNAK! A CLUB ANNAK AZ ELSŐ M-11 typusu
VONTATÓJÁRMŰNEK A NEVÉT VISELI,AMELY A 30,5 CM-ES MOZSÁRÁGYÚT VONTATTA AZ I.VILÁGHÁRORÚBAN.
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
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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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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.
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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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!!
Garrison: Landau (In der Pfalz)
Established: 1 October 1901
Brigade: 3. Königlich Bayerische Feldartillerie-Brigade
Division: 3. Königlich Bayerische Division
Kaserne 12. bFAR Landau
One of twelve active field artillery regiments of the Bavarian Army, 12. bFAR was formed in October 1901 from the III. Abteilung and the 6. Fahrenden Batterie of the Königlich Bayerisches 2. Feldartillerie-Regiment „Horn“ as well as two newly organized Fahrenden Batterien at Würzburg, Bayern. Prior to mobilization in August 1914, 12. bFAR, was garrisoned at Landau in der Pfalz, in southwestern Germany. The Regiment was subordinate to the 3. Königlich Bayerische Feldartillerie-Brigade / 3. Königlich Bayerische Division.
After mobilization, 12. bFAR remained with the redesignated 3. Bayerische Infanterie-Division throughout the war; thus earning the same campaign credits as the Division. First World War Campaigns 3. Bayerische Infanterie-Division:
The I. Abteilung 12. bFAR was armed with the 7.7cm Feldkanone (FK 96 n/A); II. Abteilung was armed with the 10.5cm leichte Feldhaubitze 98/09. In February 1916, two guns from each of the 1., 2., and 3. Batterie, were given up to form the 21. Feldartillerie-Regiment. In January 1917, 12. bFAR was enlarged with a III. Abteilung. The Stab, 7., 8., and 9. Batterie of the III. Abteilung initially fell under the command of the III. Armeekorps for training. Training was completed at the Truppenübungsplatz Thimougies in Belgium in February 1917 and the new battalion joined the Regiment in the field.
At mobilization, the 3. Bayerische Infanterie-Division was part of Kronprinz Rupprecht von Bayern’s 6. Armee. The 6. Armee was central to the bitter fighting in Alsace-Lorraine during the Battle of the Frontiers at the beginning of the war. Official German reports for August 1914 set casualty figures in the 6. Armee at 34,598, with the number of dead at 11,476. (Herwig) One of those dead was Kanonier Alois Plinganser of 5. Batt. 12. bFAR, who was killed on 24 August 1914. After holding off the French offensive in the south, 6. Armee counter-attacked on 20 August with the objective of capturing terrain south of Nancy, known as the Gap of Charmes. After initial success, the 6. Armee’s attack stalled on 24 August just east of Bayon; the French 1st and 2nd Armies counter-attacked, pushing the line back to its 14 August positions. On 24 August 1914, 12. bFAR and Kanonier Plinganser’s 5. Batterie were located at Remenoville, right in the center the brutal back and forth fighting. Early on 24 August, 3. Bayerische Infanterie-Division was given the task to open the route from Mont to Blainville; 12. bFAR was attached to the 5. b. Infantrie Brigade on the right side of the avenue of attack for this task. By early afternoon, 12. bFAR had taken up a position on Hill 251, north of Blainville, but without the 5. Batterie. The 5. Batt 12. bFAR had been fixed in its previous position by enemy artillery fire and was not able to move until the next morning (the morning of 24 August) when it took up a position south of Lamath. Infantry regiments of the 3. Bayerische Infanterie-Division continued a slow advance from Blainville toward Remenoville, supported by its own artillery, but under heavy counter-fire from French artillery. Progress was made kilometer by kilometer and by 6pm on 24 August, elements of the Division were outside Remenoville. However, during this advance, II. Abteilung 12. bFAR came under heavy French artillery fire near Franconville, a few kilometers north of Remenoville. The heaviest casualties were suffered by 5. Batt 12. bFAR. II. Abteilung 12. bFAR finally arrived at Remenoville by 7pm in the evening. Almost immediately, the German troops at Remenoville came under heavy French artillery fire and infantry attacks. By dawn on 25 August, Remenoville was in flames and the front line between German and French forces was just outside the village. Kanonier Plinganser, however, had not lived to see that dawn.
The Battle of the Charmes Gap, August 1914
Line of German Attack on 24 August
12. bFAR positions Remenoville, 24 August
Line of French Counterattack on 25 August
With the end of the war in November 1918, the III. Abteilung was dissolved, with the 7. Batterie being completely disbanded, the 8. Batterie moving to I. Abteilung, and 9. Batterie moving to II. Abteilung. The Regiment was demobilized at Ebermannstadt on 18 December 1918 and dissolved in January 1919. Elements of the Regiment became part of Frei- or Volkswehr-Batterie Zacherl, later Heyl; later these elements became 3. Batterie Reichswehr-Artillerie-Regiment 23. In August 1921, this unit became 3. Batterie des 7. (Bayerisches) Artillerie-Regiments garrisoned in Würzburg. The tradition of 12. bFAR was taken up in the Wehrmacht by the II. Abteilung des Artillerieregiments 33 in Landau und later by Artillerieregiment 69 in Mannheim.
Kraus, Jürgen. Handbuch der Verbände und Truppen des deutschen Heeres 1914-1918. Teil IX: Feldartillerie. Band 1. Vienna: Verlag Militaria, 2007. Web (Wikipedia Deutschland). 24 August 2014
Herwig, Holger H. The Marne, 1914. New York: Random House. 2009. Print.
“Les batailles de Lorraine.” n.p. n.d. chtimiste.com/batailles1418/lorraine.htm Web. 24 August 2014
“Pierre’s Photo Impressions of the Western Front.” n.p. n.d. pierreswesternfront.punt.nl/content/2012/10/als-lorraine-gap-of-charmes Web. 24 August 2014
The Prussian and spolei. “Kgl. Bayer. 12. Feldartillerie-Regiment info needed.” GMIC.co.uk Web. 24 August 2014
Can somebody please help identify exactly which model Lee Enfield rifle this is.
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.
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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
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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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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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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?
Thank you in anticipation,
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Enhancing Your Collection
It’s been a while since I have written and since we last talked I have moved my study and with it the Home Office into new surroundings; same address just a new and better location. This involved new cabinets and displays so it was a lengthy process. In addition to this I decided to retire from public service and the past six months has been spent attempting to wrap up my projects. Although to get them all completed would take another two years as new road connections through forests are limited by budget and in our country a short construction season. Still all has finally come to pass with a few more touches to the study and the unfinished work projects in the capable hands of my replacement I am free to do what I want to do with rest of my life.
Reading the posts on the GMIC lately I noticed one by Robin talking about the addition of a new Crimea Medal, I’m still envious, and in addition to this the addition of a cigarette card of this medal featuring the same bar. I believe Mervyn mentioned that some members are adding cap badges and other insignia to their medals and medal groups. This is something I have been doing for some time now and I wanted to talk about this interesting augmentation to medal collections as well as other military collectables.
Below is one drawer of medals where I have added the cap badges to the medals
I find myself; or rather catch myself, boring family and friends with my collections and constant droning on about history and this battle and that battle and how the breakdown of diplomacy led to one conflict or another. Most of my medal collection is housed in shallow drawers and if there is one thing I’ve noticed is that the average person’s eyes will start to glaze over after the third, and if I’m lucky, the forth drawer of what is perceived as one medal or group of medals after another with little to no differences. In fact I too start to think that there is a certain monotony about a sizable collection of just about anything after a while. If you are at all like me this “monotony” somehow imparts a warm feeling of comfort and security, as does the knowledge that I am a student, of sorts, of history and how these artefacts are in concert with the events they commemorate.
For most of us, we collect for ourselves and not for others, nor do we seek to garner praise for our efforts from the few upon whom we may bestow the honour of viewing our treasures. I suppose that is somewhat a joke in the average person’s opinion as many would think even an hour going over someone’s collection, their passion as it were, to be a total waste of time. However, they are simply members of the great unwashed masses so let’s not give them any more consideration here.
I’ve seen several collections where the owner has framed their collection, breaking the medals up into specific themes or a grouping to one recipient. For the most part I really like this, however in my case; wall space is and always has been at a premium. Framed documents and larger photos have always taken precedence in allotting wall space so medals were placed in shallow drawers out of necessity as much as anything else.
In this blog I am speaking more about additional items to enhance the experience for someone viewing a collection and even to make it more interesting for the collectors themselves. Some of those additional items could be the cigarette cards mentioned earlier which could be of a soldier in uniform as much as the particular medal. My Bahawalpur collection has a cigarette card featuring a soldier from that country in full uniform, which I think is quite interesting. In addition to this I have added a post card commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1st Bahawalpur Regiment, 1834-1934, and their battle honours.
Other additions to collectables, that comes to mind; could be the addition of nipple, or hammer protectors to a black powder rifle or musket, or an authentic muzzle plug for the same type of weapon. A small word of caution here; it might be best not to make the announcement around the water cooler, in the office, that you are awaiting a shipment of vintage nipple protectors. Nasty rumors could be forthcoming. Of course rifle slings either authentic or reproductions dresses up a rifle or musket quite nicely. A discussion on reproductions, “to use or not to use”, is a topic for another time.
Examples of additional items for a musket are shown below. The nipple protector and muzzle plug are on an 1853 Enfield and the sling is an original on a Pattern 1842 Brunswick Rifle marked as belonging to the Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR).
Swords too have accessories such as wrist straps and sword knots that can be added. Sadly my Japanese sword collection has no such accessories, yet, but who knows, perhaps in the future. The only one with any such strap is missing the all important knot.
The British sword shown below, with original leather sword knot, is the Pattern 1895 Infantry Officer’s Sword displaying the cipher of King George V.
As always I hope this short dissertation will give the reader pause to think about alternatives to simply adding yet another item to the collection and enhance the specimens you already have.
When you live , or, work in an old town or city, it is easy to overlook historical buildings and
This happened when I was first posted to Bethnal Green Police Station. The area was a mixture -
tall, ugly concrete blocks of flats - typical for the the late 1960's. Rows of old terraced houses
and and tenement blocks - built-in the 1880's to try and improve the area and cover the shame
and bad publicity that Jack the Ripper's murders had caused. There were also many small and medium sized factories and workshops.
Walking - or, driving in a car on duty, it was easy to see just the people and the streets - however,
once I was on night duty I had the opportunities to really see what made-up this 2000 year old
area of continuous occupation. There will be other occasions when I will be able to go into detail -
however, as an example, there was a short cross street between Brick Lane and Commercial Street
named Fournier Street. Basically, it was a row of joined houses dating back to the 18th Century and
in the style of the 17th Century. Most of them were derelict.
During the time of King Charles 2nd - who was restored to the British Throne in 1660 - his French
counterpart was the 'Sun King' - Louis X1V (14th). Following the urging of Cardinal Richelieu, he
barred the Hugeonots - or, Protestants - from practising their Religion and they were forced to flee
overseas. Many to Britain. My Mother's family name was Bozier - a Hugeonot descendent.
The French silk weaving industry really depended on their skill, and when they left it fell into decline. Their loss was England's gain - the area the silk weavers chose to live was the same Fournier Street in London's East End. Many of the old houses have now been renovated and are
shown as they used to be - workrooms on the ground floor - living accomodation above. There
are several museums and it is an area worth a visit.
General View of Fournier Street
Inside of one of the houses - the marks on the beams were for silk weaving machines
Map of the area - Sever's House is now restored for the public.
THE MECHANICS OF A 1960'S POLICE STATION
I can only talk about the running of a Police Station in the 1960's/70's. I would think little had
changed over the previous 100 years - and, quite frankly, if a system works why keep making
changes. This seem to be the prevailing attitude today - change for the sake of change - or,
is it just me getting old ?
'HB' or Bethnal Green Police Station, was not the Divisional Station - however, because of the large
population in the district it had a complement of some 200 Police and civilian staff.
The commander of the Station was a Chief Superintendent (equiv. to a Lt.Col. in the Army). He
was assisted by a Superintendent.
The CID (Criminal Investigation Department) numbered about 25/30 - under a Det. Inspector.
There was a Process Dept., under an Inspector for dealing with Summonses. When you reported
someone for an offence, the paperwork was reviewed in this Dept. to ensure there was enough
evidence to go to Court. When you made a direct Arrest the Sergeant dealing with the Charge also, had the responsibility of ensuring that it was a legitimate arrest - with the evidence to prove
the Act the arrest was made under.
The Station also had a detachment of Special Constabulary - who at that time were only allowed
2 hours duty a week. I remember one old Special who was an Estate Agent. When on duty he
parked his Rolls Royce in a side street.
We had a fully staffed canteen and after 8p.m. we had facilities in the sitting area to make tea
and light meals.
The uniformed Branch numbered some 120 men - split into 3 Divisions or, Reliefs. These were
identified as 'A' "B' and 'C' Reliefs - each under an Inspector and two sergts.. The system was
changed some time ago, however, the above had existed for very many years.
A 9 week cycle was followed. Early Turn was 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.. Late Turn was 2p.m. to 10 p.m.
and Night Duty - 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.. You did 6 weeks of alternate Early and Late Turn and then
3 weeks continuous Night Duty.
You paraded 15 minutes early to be told what was happening, receive special duties and who was wanted. You also Paraded Appointments . This was to show you had your whistle, truncheon and report books.
You have to remember that Police are a disciplined Force and subject to the Rules laid down by
Parliament and your Commissioner or, Chief Constable. For example - you don't decide which variation of uniform you will wear - Dress of the Day is shown in Force Orders.
With holidays, sickness, time off and Court appearances the Relief rarely paraded more than twenty men - and sometimes much lower. Just meant we worked harder.
Hopefully, this brief outline will give you an idea of the set-up. With so many people with-in the Station you really worked with your own Relief - and the men on the other shifts. I was on 'B' Relief. Being so dependent on your colleagues for help in an emergency, you tended to become close friends - on and off duty. Although, as often happens you tended to have your own group.
When I finished learning Beats with Jock, my Relief was about to start on 3 weeks of Nights. This
meant I would be Patrolling my assigned area - or, Beat - on my own. Being the East End, away from main roads the back streets were poorly lit.
Let me say right now - you don't know the meaning of ' Being on your Own ' until you have
patrolled for the first time at night - and on a freezing February night....
Radios had only recently been introduced - and we did not have enough to go around. I'm fairly
sure that friends I had made, had ensured I had one that first night. They were Swedish Stornos
and quite powerful. The unit went in your back left pocket and the microphone was fed up to
your tunic or, greatcoat lapel. You could hear all station calls and if you wanted to speak you
pressed a button on the top. Messages went to our Reserve Room or, Communications Room. This
was manned by two PC's and an elderley , retired PC, manned the switchboard.
We were supposed to return by midnight for refreshments - but, in the dark back streets I got
hopelessly lost. It got to about 12.30a.m. and I knew I was a long way from the Station and knew
that people would be wondering where I was. I didn't want to use the radio - I knew I would
never hear the last of getting lost..........
The decision was made for me - I was looking in my A-Z wondering where the 'hell' I was, when
4 drunk yobos found me !
They were very cautious at first - then got 'cheeky'. I wasn't nervous of them - perhaps a little
intimidated. There were 4 of them and I only stood 5' 8". I decided that I'd better call in for
directions - doing so, it slipped out that I was having a little trouble.
Before I could turn round 5 Police cars and the van - plus some 20 police had arrived to see "what I
was 'up to' " The whole canteen had turned out. Very embarrasing - but I knew then that I had
The yobs got a quick lesson in having respect for their local Police - and I got lots of different
lectures in letting people give assistance when it is needed.
I learned a lot from that incident - and of course - with time and experience you become a more
confident person. However, like all of the Services - Military and Civilian - you have to learn that you are part of a team.
Next time - a few more incidents. Some years ago I was asked to write for a local Radio Station,
some humerous memories. Having recently found them in the move from the shop, I will add one
to each future post.
HUMOUR IN UNIFORM
One of the duties of a London Policeman is Reserve Duty. This is where , once in a while, you
man the communications room and make sure that there are always a few uniformed men around the Station.
One quiet Sunday afternoon I had 'pulled' this duty and was thankful as it was a cold, wet afternoon in winter. About 3 p.m. the Duty Sgt. called me into the Front Office, where there were two men who
were covered in mud. They said that in the morning they had been clearing a site (they were building workers) and had found two large iron objects. Thinking to sell them for scrap they had loaded them onto their open flatbed lorry. When they had gone for a drink someone said they looked like bombs and to bring them to the Police.
Needless to say I was very grateful !! One look told me that they appeared to be large shells or, even bombs without fins. Beating a retreat wouldn't have helped - if they had gone-up so
would half the East End of London - I tried Bribery ! Take them to Commercial Street police station I said - they won't take so long to deal with them !! Not likely - they wern't moving an inch
and expected me to deal with them. Eventually we managed to get them into a corner of the station yard and covered them with sandbags - the London Police have always been good at immediate action to to re-assure the public !
The 'bloody' workmen left and we had to evacuate the Station and the surrounding area until the
bomb squad came to take them away.
YES ! They were live and very unstable - had to be detonated in a nearby park. They were 1st
World War 8 inch Naval shells. Heaven alone knows what thay were doing in the East End of London ?
A couple of years ago - in Durban, I was asked to value and identify a deceased estate with militaria. The friend who was with me spotted a mortar bomb and picked it up - ' look', he said
'it's a Chinese one. Oh my God, it's live with it's detonator and it's sweating '.
We retreated very quickly and the SAP bomb squad had to detonate it. Please, please - no-one bring me any more shells or, bombs.
Earlier today (5-25-13) I attended the Ft. Lee Military Show for the first time. I had a blast… great show, wonderful location; altogether a very worthy effort by the organizers. I’ll certainly go again next year, and I’ll probably have a table of my own then as well.
I primarily went to hook up with two good friends, Kevin Born (one of the show’s organizers- thanks Kevin!) and Ralph Pickard (author of “Stasi Decorations and Memorabilia, Volumes 1 and 2”), as it has been a couple of years since I saw them last. A wonderful reunion ensued, along with some minor buying and selling on my part. Great way to spend a beautiful Saturday morning and early afternoon.
Insofar as content, most of the vendors dealt in artifacts from multiple countries and the country that had the most items on display/for sale was the US. Wars covered began with WW1, although I did see reunion items from the US Civil War. There were a couple of US vendors who also had a smattering of Third Reich items, and a couple who also had Eastern Bloc awards. Kevin and Ralph’s tables were the only tables displaying East German militaria.
The highlight of the day was Ralph’s sharing two unbelievable groupings he has acquired… and when I say “unbelievable”, well, you can certainly take that to the bank. The first group is that of a Hungarian State Security agent who retired a Colonel in the mid ‘70’s. In this group, Ralph has been able to acquire this gentleman’s awards from his own country, which include awards from both the Rakosi and Kadar periods and the documents that go with them; Bulgarian awards and associated documents; East German MfS (“Stasi”) awards and their documents; Soviet awards and their documents including the highly coveted “Outstanding Member of the MOOP” (in absolutely pristine condition) and KGB 50 Year award badge. Also with this group, is a Hungarian classified award document that, by virtue of it not having a copy distribution number, may be the sole copy of that particular document, and an interesting pass that admitted this gentleman to all secure areas in the event of an emergency- a sort of “get out of jail free” pass. There were other documents, such as his retirement document, as well. Suffice it to say I have never seen a grouping so impressive and so complete… then Ralph showed me the next case.
This next group was that of an Armenian KGB agent (rose to Lt. Colonel) who was posted, for obviously a good little while, in Afghanistan. 24 awards with documents (for all but, I believe, 2 of the awards), including the Soviet Order of Personal Courage, Soviet Order of the Red Star, Afghan Orders of the Red Star (2), Afghan Order of Glory, Afghan Orders of the Star (1st and 3rd Class) and Afghan Medal for Valour… this guy saw more than his fair share of action. I have never this many Afghan awards in one place, let alone with nearly all the documents TO ONE INDIVIDUAL. I know that Ralph took a lot of time (and money) to get these groups together so completely and they really are beyond amazing. Such collections allow you to go past the individual medal, as impressive and desirable as it may be, and actually get an insight into the life and career of the individual who achieved these awards. Genuine history. And, what probably goes without saying is my appreciation to Ralph for sharing this with me. Strike two from the “bucket list”.
A great day.