Imperial German Cap Insignia w/ crown and cockade in SILVER by Claudius
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Winston Churchill, From Scapegoat to Hero
Winston Churchill, From Scapegoat to Hero Part One: The Boer War to 1939. History, especially military history, is ripe with myth and legend in regard to politics, battles and war leaders. Myths such as “Germany almost won the Second World War”, which is pure nonsense and a topic for another blog at a later date, or the myth that Winston Churchill alone won the War abound, especially in the post War era. Most of the Churchill myth was generated by his own six volume “History of the Second World...
Dec 01 2014 16:10 Read Full Blog Entry
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Still looking to swap stuff!Show comments (2)
So, who's decorating for the holidays?
Thanks to Spasm all of the Photo Comp. prizes have been forewarded from the UK . You should receive them soon. Mervyn
Busy Re-discovering the German South West Africa Campaign. What great funShow comments (1)
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Mr. Julius Jeffreys F.R.S.: A Victorian Eccentric
These figures are taken from a talk given to the Royal United Services Institute (R.U.S.I.) in 1860 whose subject was ON IMPROVEMENTS IN HELMETS AND OTHER HEADDRESS FOR BRITISH TROOPS IN THE TROPICS, MORE ESPECIALLY IN INDIA. These drawings, of a civilian hat, were selected to illustrate, up front, the impracticality of this eccentric’s proposed implementation of his theories.
Russian artillery in the First World War never really achieved the same level of effect or respect as that of the other large Allied powers. The Tsar’s artillery continued its historical tradition of fielding huge quantities of guns; and some would argue that in the case of artillery, quantity is a quality all its own. However, the Tsar’s commanders also continued the dubious tradition of cautious employment of their artillery and failed to develop tactics that adequately linked fire support to infantry operations. In the past, the Tsar’s cannons could lay claim to symbolic victories despite these shortcomings. Cast of bronze in 1586, The Tsar’s Cannon is among the world’s largest artillery pieces with a 890mm caliber, more than twice the German Kaiser’s 42cm “Big Bertha” Krupp howitzer of the First World War. A very ornate piece, it is likely the Tsar’s Cannon was cast more as symbolic weapon than one for war. In fact, the huge cannon never fired a shot in combat, including during the 1812 defense of Moscow against Napoleon’s troops. An artilleryman himself, Napoleon thought about carting the Tsar’s Cannon back to Paris as a war trophy. However, considering its massive size and the Russian winter, the cannon probably would not have made it very far in the French retreat. The symbolism of the Tsar’s artillery begins, but does not end with this piece. Russian artillery would go through various reforms in the first half of the 19th Century, improving the quality of its guns and finding notable successes during the Napoleonic Wars and in the Crimean War. However, rather than resulting in significant doctrinal advances in the use of artillery, these Russian successes only inspired additional symbols. Additional efforts were made to improve the effectiveness of the Tsar’s artillery after a less than spectacular performance in the Russo-Japanese War 1904-1905; however, once again, the result was failure. The Tsar’s artillery entered the First World War totally unprepared for modern combat.
This is an excellent example of the 1879 Anglo-Zulu War Medal. The most sought after of these, is the KIA for Isandlawana - or, The Defence of Rorke's Drift. Neither have any distinctive marks or clasps and it is the research necessary to establish a connection. I sold - many years ago - a Rorkes Drift , Natal Mounted Police. This was sold-on and became the highest paid non-gallantry medal - I believe with commission it was about 34000 pounds. A KIA for Isandlawana is only beaten in the price stakes by a Defence of Legations at Pekin.
In August 1914, the German Kaiser’s Guns would challenge King Albert I of Belgium’s fortress artillery with devastating effects. On the eve of the First World War, the army of King Albert I was small, befitting his country’s size and policy of neutrality. In terms of armament and doctrine, the Belgian artillery in 1914 was not particularly noteworthy. Nonetheless, some of the first shots from “The Guns of August” would be the artillery of one of the smallest countries in Europe. In response, the Belgian forts would be bombarded by some of the largest artillery pieces of the time. The Battle of Liege, 5-16 August 1914, was the first major battle of the First World War and the first battle of the war in which artillery played a very significant role. The guns of the Belgian forts punished the German attackers and delayed their advance, but the forts were finally destroyed by shells from the heavy German guns. The devastating effects of Germany’s 28cm and 42cm “Dicke Bertha” mortars, along with attachments of 30.5cm Skoda mortars from its ally, Austria-Hungary, would foreshadow the role artillery would attain as the most effective killer on the battlefield.
Perhaps the use of the diamond patch on the Slough hat came from those fortunate survivors of the original 1st Battalion who fought so bravely at Tobruk in 1942, where some officers took to wearing a slouch hat with a grass green patch and badge on the upturned brim. However, it seems more likely that the practice was a natural cross-over from the pith helmet.
May 2014 will celebrate the 10 year anniversary for GMIC. There are a lot of exciting things planned for next year at GMIC which also ties in with the 100 year rememberance anniversary for the Great War. Some of the things I will highlight are:
For much of the 18th Century and well into the early 19th Century, France’s artillery could lay claim to the title of the king of European battlefields. In fact, it was French king Louis XIV who first inscribed the Latin motto, Ultima Ratio Regum – Last Argument of Kings, on his cannon. As Emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte, himself an artillery subaltern in the Régiment de La Fère and commander of artillery in France’s Army of Italy, brought artillery tactics into the modern age. Mobile artillery, aggressively massed at the point of attack in direct support of the infantry or cavalry, was a devastating force on the Napoleonic battlefield. Foreshadowing the use of artillery during the First World War, Napoleon frequently employed “grand batteries” in both offensive and defensive roles. For example, at Borodino in 1812, he concentrated around 200 guns to both to open holes in Russian lines for assaults by French infantry and to stop enemy assaults through gaps in his own lines. Unlike artillery traditionalists who advocated conservation of ammunition, Napoleon advocated heavy, sustained fire regardless of expenditure and organized his trains to ensure sufficient supply. (McConachy) Under Napoleon, French artillery held a commanding position in the army and on the battlefield. However, in the decades that followed, the status of French artillery would decline, finally reaching bottom with failure in the Franco-Prussian War. During the First World War, France’s artillery would not be able to claim exclusive rights to the king’s crown; however, it would re-gain its rightful place as an essential combat arm and indispensable partner of the infantry.
The Friends of Fort York at Toronto are a 20-year old group of volunteers who exist to complement the operation of the fort that was the founding place of the city in 1793, and played a prominent role in the War of 1812. The Friends publish a quarterly newsletter, The Fife & Drum, which is available gratis by subscription on the organization's website. Just published is an issue that includes a piece on several of Toronto's Crimean veterans including Alexander Roberts Dunn, V.C., and Michael Brophy who was the subject of a recent series of posts in the Collectors' Discussion Forum on the GMIC site on "A Very Very Very Old Soldier," started by Ulsterman in December, 2013.
Once in a while, or more often if you are like me, you will find yourself in need of having some medals mounted for your collection. You could send them out to a professional or you could add to your enjoyment of the hobby by mounting them yourself. There is a certain satisfaction in being able to “do-it-yourself” and the finished project may well surprise you in looking quite professional.
I have mounted groups of medals for friends wanting to preserve their father’s or grandfather’s medals as well as fellow collectors who just can’t be convinced to try this themselves. The one thing I will NOT do is add an attachment pin to the back of the mount unless it is for the veteran who was awarded the group. I will not be part of making it possible to easily wear someone else’s medals. However, I happen to like the way a group sits in a display case with the pin device in place and if I am mounting the group for my own collection I place a small piece of cardboard under the top edge to give it the same look; not affixed to the mount but simply placed under the group. I leave it to you as whether you want to add a mounting pin or not. I’ll point out when this should be done as we proceed.
Sources vary and exact figures are difficult to achieve; however, consensus is that artillery caused the majority (something close to 60 percent) of combat casualties in the First World War. Add in the effects of constant harassing fire, reaching far behind the lines with large caliber weapons, as well as those of artillery-delivered gas attacks, and there can be no doubt that artillery was an effective killer. German production of artillery shells went from 1.36 million in 1914 to 36 million in 1916. Certainly, many (if not most) of those were fired across no-man’s land into allied positions. On the other side, Britain’s Royal Artillery fired 170 million shells by the war’s end, sometimes in barrages that would last for days. (David) The sheer volume of artillery ammunition expended during the First World War certainly made life on the battlefield very dangerous.
Given the importance of artillery to the First World War and the approaching centenary of the war, a broad survey of the topic seems in order. Ideally, over the course of the centenary, I will periodically add installments to this space. While I spent over 10 years as a professional artilleryman, I am only an amateur historian; therefore, I do not presume I will add anything new to the wealth of information already written about artillery in the multitude of volumes on the First World War, including several texts dealing exclusively with the subject. There are also some very detailed and worthwhile websites on the topic. However, I have noted that this wealth of information is a lot like disconnected pockets of gold in a mine. By bringing together some basic facts and interesting information from both the printed works and these websites, my goal is to provide a useful starting point for discussion and further research for those with an interest in artillery during the First World War. I also will try to bring the topic to the soldier’s level by tying in post cards, documents, and other items related to artillery in the First World War that I have collected over the years. This also will allow me to try and focus the discussion more on the tactical level of regiment and below rather than on the strategic and operational levels above divisions.
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