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Gentleman's Military Interest Club

Brian Wolfe

Senior Moderator
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About Brian Wolfe

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    Senior Moderator
  • Birthday 06/08/1948

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  • Gender
  • Location
    Ontario, Canada
  • Interests
    Medals: British and India (post 1947), Special Constabulary and a few others.
    General: Staffordshire and British Police memorabilia
    Plus odds and ends that capture my interest from time to time.

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  1. Hoarder to Historian

    Thank you for you kind comments, it is high praise indeed. Paul, The adult size shoes should be available in the Home Office Gift Shop for Christmas. Regards to all, Brian
  2. Hoarder to Historian

    Hoarder to Historian One of the types of articles I absolutely distain are the “personal journey” stories with some sort of life changing message at the end. The only thing intentionally placed at the end of one of my blogs is a full stop. That’s a “period” for our American friends. I actually say “full stop” just to irritate my Canadian friends who insist on speaking like Americans, which is alright if that’s what you are going for. I said it was “alright” with one exception. One of my all time favourite modern actors is Benedict Cumberbatch, a British actor who has brilliantly brought Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character, “Sherlock Holmes” into the twenty-first century. As an open letter statement to Mr. Cumberbatch, please, please do not attempt an American accent as you did in the movie Doctor Strange. Listening to him announce that he (his character) was an Am-air-ik-an was painful. It makes me wonder what Americans ever did to him. To get back on track, while I was making notes for this blog I suddenly realized that the topic was pretty much about my own journey in collecting. As I have said I really dislike those types of articles so I will end this blog with a tip on how you can save money to allow you to do more collecting rather than some hippy-like transcendental useless spiritual advice. Yep, another public service announcement from the Home Office. I suppose you are surprised to read that I actually make notes prior to banging away on my keyboard. If you think I ramble on and on now, you should read the unedited notes. Getting back on getting back on track, see what I mean; and these are the edited results. Many of us start out collecting as hoarders, to a point. Not real hoarders such as seen on television programmes that deal with the physiological illness of hoarding but the accumulation of specific items at an accelerated rate to the exclusion of any in depth research and study. As an example I offer the short story of a fellow I knew who collected British War Medals and Victory Medals from WWI awarded to Canadians from a specific regiment. This was the same regiment he had served in during peace time just before the Desert Storm era. It is understandable why he would collect WWI medals from his old regiment and there is nothing wrong with that. Another fellow from his regiment was also trying the “corner the market” in these medals and a stiff rivalry ensued on the internet auctions between them, complete with bidding wars and heated emails between the two competitors. The fellow I knew would receive the medal or medals he had won then place them in a large zip-lock bag hiding them in the attic space under the insulation. He claimed it was to foil burglars, however, considering he left the small step ladder in the same place directly under the attic hatch it was obvious he was hiding the amount he was purchasing from his wife; a fact that I know to be the true reason. He often said that he intended to open a museum to his old regiment but in reality even a few hundred medals is not enough on their own to fill a museum. I have 210 drawers (I just counted them) filled with collectables, mostly medals and even that would make a pretty poor showing for a museum. The fact that he simply stored the medals away, out of sight and out of reach of his wife, she is quite a short lady, makes me categorize his as a hoarder. I will admit that I was in much the same category for many years then something strange (not Dr. Strange) happened. My collecting started to slow down and research started to interest me more and more. I say “strange” because as I aged my disposable income increased. I am much happier now than when I was driven by an obsession to add to the “pile”, as organized as it was. Now the accumulation of knowledge, and still adding to the collection of course, has become paramount in my obsessive little mind. Perhaps it is age or perhaps it is a simple matter of available space to house my collection, I’m not really sure. The one thing Nature and a collector agree on is that they both abhor a vacuum and will try to fill any void. Now for that money saving tip. One of the areas one can save money and therefore have more funds to spend on a collection is by doing-it-yourself. Take the high price of children’s shoes for example; they’re just little shoes so why do they cost so much? Why not make your kids foot wear in your shop; no shop then in your kitchen, as the materials are cheap and tools readily available in the average home. Take two cardboard boxes of the correct size, or cut larger boxes down to the appropriate size; use the ones your latest collectables from e$cam arrived in. Once you have them to the correct size cover them with duct tape. I used silver but it comes in black as well. If your child is a boy then adding a strip of “camo” duct tape (I used Gorilla tape) will give it that masculine look that most boys strive to achieve. If you have a daughter then duct tape also comes in bright colours as well. Take a black magic marker and draw laces on the tops of the shoes, after all we don’t want to emotionally scar the little buggers too much, and besides we are not animals. Once this is done, “Robert’s your father’s brother”, you have a nice pair of shoes, and darn sporty looking if I do say so myself. Just another public service from The Home Office...you’re welcome. Regards Brian
  3. Japanese Fieldmarshal sword

    Great photos, many thanks for sharing them. Regards Brian
  4. Help with Great East Asia War Medal in group, please

    Well, it looks as if I have finally reached "that" age; I had completely forgotten that I had posted this group before. I must admit to still be in a fog as to being able to tell if the medal in question is a replica or not, therefore I will have to assume that it is. Assumption flies in the face of good historial research but it looks as if I will have to let this one pass. Regards Brian
  5. I would like the opinion of the members here in the Japanese section regarding the group shown below, in particular the Great East Asian War Medal. I have had this group for a number of years and have always wonder if the GEAWM might have been one issued just prior to the war’s end when all existing stocks were ordered destroyed by the Occupational authorities. Thank you in advance for any assistance you might be able to extend to me. Regards Brian
  6. Responding to Paul C's Post

    Thanks for your comments. A new year is a lot like your first day on a new job. You can hold out hope that you can't possibly screw up for the first day; after that it's anyones guess. Regards Brian
  7. Remaining Objective

    One of the greatest obstacles, ignoring spelling and grammar, in the way of writing pieces related to history is staying objective. I have never made any secret that I tend to be a bit of an Anglophile, which is not the worst “phile” one can be, even though my family has been here in Canada well before Confederation and our roots are, for the greater part, German. I recall, when I was very young, being in the classroom and seeing the large pull-down maps at the front of the room showing the map of the world. The British Empire was shown in red and the rest of the world in rather different shades of “we don’t care about them” colours. I recall being told that we were to be proud of being a part of the great British Empire and will admit that the message left a lasting impression on my little mind. Strange that we tend to tell children what they think and what they are proud possibly out of fear that they won’t see it the same way once they start to develop a more analytical mind. I would have said an “adult mind” but let’s face facts what we are told as children sticks with most of us and conservation of energy being what it is we tend not to bother taxing our brains all that much. The vast majority of people took a “sure whatever” attitude towards history taught in school so it could be argued that any potential self-serving propaganda inherent in any memoirs of the war years of modern history is lost on them. Still there are those who took a greater interest and even went beyond what they were initially told to look for the truth or should I say accuracy as “truth” implies so sort of conspiracy. Gathering intelligence on a local Neo-Nazi group a number of years ago clearly showed what a little knowledge, perverted and distorted, can produce. As a side note; at one of our debriefing meetings the question was posed as to whether gathering “intelligence” on a Neo-Nazi group would qualify as an oxymoron. It was pointed out that it would be more of an “exercise in futility”. While they were anything but a joke a little levity is often welcomed. Changing the minds of certain fanatical groups is more or less an impossible task; however, our efforts certainly showed what exposure to strong sunlight and fresh air can do to stop the growth of a fungal infestation. Some other issues effecting objectivity is around what we are told as the truth and perhaps as detrimental what we were never told. Both of these issues are often cured through the passing of time and the expansion of our horizon. As an example when I was taking some engineering courses there was a fellow student from Hong Kong who was already an engineer and was here on leave from Hong Kong Hydro and planned to return after his courses. Just to clarify I am and have never been an engineer. He related a story about a question he was once asked, by a fellow student, soon after he came to Canada. He was asked what he thought about the Opium Wars (First Opium War 1839-1842, Second Opium War 1856- 1860). He told me that he was absolutely dumb-founded at such a question and had to admit that this was the first he had heard of such events. At the time there was no mention in any school history books regarding either conflict. There is no doubt, in my mind, that this was not simply an oversight but purposeful omission, possibly for political reasons. The second point is in what we are actually told compared with what actually took place or rather why certain events took place. Two good examples, from World War Two, would be the raid on Dieppe and the bombing raid on the island of Heligoland. The Raid on Dieppe, 19 August 1942, has been shrouded in mystery by the Official Secrets Act until only a few years ago. The raid was initially and officially touted as a raid to test German strength along the so-called Atlantic Wall. The raid was quite costly in lives and material with a total of 3,623 either killed, wounded or taken prisoner out of the 6,086 involved in the action. It was only after decades that the real reason for the raid was made available to the public. The raid itself was a diversion staged in order for Military Intelligence for secure a working example of the German Enigma coding device. Unfortunately the machine had already been moved out of Dieppe and to make things even worse they were planning on adding another coding disk, in the near future, to make their messages even more secure. Another example of the reasons for a raid being kept secret was the 1,000 plane bombing raid in a small German island named Heligoland on April 18, 1945. The reason given in the post mission briefings was that there was a need to completely destroy the last remaining German planes and the submarine pens located there to prevent any last minute suicide raids by the German personnel stationed there. This seemed odd to many who took part in the mission as the island had been cut off completely earlier on and the fuel for any such retaliatory strikes unavailable. The cost of the raid was nowhere as great as the Dieppe Raid with 3 Halifax bombers being lost due to malfunctions and not enemy fire. As an aside; I personally knew two independent witnesses who saw two of the planes go down over the sea. The planes were “stacked” one above the other in waves, the upper plane hit an air pocket or down draft and was forced down directly on the bomber below. These two witnesses, both in separate bombers watched as the two planes spiralled, still one on top of the other all the way down into the sea below. There were no survivors. The true reason for the mission was to deny the Soviets any possible access to the submarine pens in the post war era. The continued bombing of the island until 1952 as “practise” can be better understood in the context of, if you want to blow things up then better on your neighbours land than your own. However, we are not here to judge history just to record and hopefully try to understand it. I suppose the two examples above could fall under things that frustrate and impede the historian in attempting to report on history accurately rather than preventing objectivity. The necessity to keep certain information from the general public has long been a reality and the current trend by today’s generation for “totally transparency” is rather naive and potentially dangerous to the security of nations. A good historian avoids stating personal views so I would instruct the jury to disregard that last statement...has that ever actually worked. In some cases the history of an action may have been recorded for posterity based on the facts given and the judgement of those recording the incident. A good example could be post-coital regret, officially known as post-coital triestesse (PCT) or dysphoria (PCD) which in extreme cases could result in charges of sexual assault. If the accused is found guilty then he could very well be labelled as a sexual offender for life; even though the original act was completely consensual. Unlike post-matrimonial regret where the end result is coitus of an ongoing monetary expenditure nature. In retrospect, looking over this blog, I have arrived at the conclusion that I don’t really have a problem with maintaining my objectivity; my problem is remaining serious for any length of time. Happy New Year to all who read my blogs and for those who don’t; well, what I can say that would matter, you’ll never see it anyway. Regards Brian
  8. On the Lounge Paul asked the question, “What is the dumbest things you ever did” under the heading “Let’s liven things up around here” in the Lounge. This is an excellent topic and one which allows for many different styles of response from serious to the jocular. Yes I used the word “jocular”; only because it is a word you seldom see these days, much like “happenstance”. Don’t worry I won’t use “happenstance” today but only because I couldn’t figure out where to work it in. There’s always tomorrow. When I thought about Paul’s question and the possible real life responses I said to myself (I do that a lot the older I get) this sounds like it would require something embarrassing, a mistake or a regret from one’s past. My personal philosophical take on this is that if one is happy with one’s life or circumstances then can you really say that anything that transpired in your personal history was a mistake. If you could go back and make changes to your past then it could and very likely would have dire consequences on the present and therefore the future. If you said that you are not happy with your present circumstances then you could make those changes by going back to school, for example. I noticed that some of the members have done just that after retirement from their careers. This thinking rather ruled out “mistake” from any response I might undertake to write. I do wish I could have made some sort of humorous reply, however a lack of any appreciable sense of humour on my part would make that an impossibility. I blame a lack of comic ability on my rather stoic British/Germanic upbringing, which at times was rather Dickensian in nature, to say the least. That old “stiff upper lip” and “staying the course” or simply “man up” has left me the rather bland and linear thinking person you see today. Just so you know, we anal retentive people tend to prefer “linear thinking” as a term to describe ourselves. I was left with regret as a subject for a response but felt that this would only serve to “pirate” Paul’s post somewhat; therefore, I decided to write this message as a blog. Around Christmas time, several years hence, a very good friend of mine passed away. We were extremely close and shared in numerous adventures including hunting and fishing as well as just “hanging out” together. His passing had a devastating effect on me, not so much that he is no longer with us, which is a deep sadness, but because I never got to tell him something I think was very important. Perhaps you know what I mean. There never was a correct time or place; we were either having too much of a good time to possibly ruin the moment or the moment was too serious or sad to bring up what might have been an awkward subject. Now my close friend has gone to his grave and I can never tell him that which I agonized over for many years. I so wish I had simply blurted it out regardless of the situation or the atmosphere of the moment. Sadly my dog died never knowing he was adopted. Merry Christmas everyone! Regards Brian
  9. INDIA -- Videsh Seva Medal

    Hello Sahil, I can't help you on the further contacts request, however, perhaps those interested in Indian medals may read these posts and come to your rescue. Regards Brian
  10. This Blog Could Save Your Life...well...maybe Ever notice that as you age you start to feel a lot more run down, tired, listless and perhaps even slightly depressed, though not really a depression per se. Is getting through the day becoming harder and harder and staying focused has become a challenge. Well, here’s some really good news for those experiencing those symptoms mentioned above. You may be suffering from a lack of iron and other essential metals in your system. After a good deal of research we here at the Home Office have developed a cure aimed at many of us here at GMIC and others worldwide. With this in mind we (my wife and I) started on an experiment, which is not the first time here on the “News from the Home Office” blog, to cure the above mentioned symptoms with an increase in iron and other very important metals. To begin with, just over a year ago, I purchased a 2000 GMC Sierra 4X4 truck. This was one of those once in a life-time “barn finds” in excellent condition and owned by a car collector who had stored it in a climate controlled facility. Once we had arranged the purchase the work started, even though it was in almost pristine condition. The body was stripped down to the frame, then rebuilt, and the engine, a small block V8 (4.8 litre), and drive train completely rebuilt, with the help of a good friend of mine who happens to be a retired auto mechanic. Any of the body parts that did show signs of deterioration were discarded and a new replacement piece was purchased from the GMC dealer and installed. The only section that was actually replaced was the box side on the driver’s side, known here as the “salt side”. All parts such as brakes, rear axles, and exhaust system were discarded and new top of the line parts installed. The interior was in almost showroom condition so that took no work at all. The whole truck was painted black, which was the original colour with new black rims and large-lug truck tires just to make her look “bad”. To date I have invested around the $18,000.00 mark for what is essentially a vehicle that looks like it did the day it rolled off the assembly line, though the parts you can’t see have all been upgraded. There is absolutely no body fillers in this vehicle; it is all original steel parts. I have always wanted to rebuild a truck but could never afford a classic so when this came up for sale my dear wife agreed that I should “jump on it”. At my age a “once in a life time deal” is actually that! The process from start to finish took over a year and while it was fun I would not want to do it again. I did learn a lot, one of the most interesting things I learned was that mechanical and vehicle restoration takes a lot of time and seems to involve a lot of foul language. In addition to this project my interest in British military swords has been revitalized and along with the infusion of the new/old iron (truck) I feel middle aged again. Ok, so when I am in my truck I do feel like one of the cool kids. So when you are feeling low and just seem to be dragging yourself through your day add some iron to your life. Medals, firearms, swords etc, also counts. After all it’s not just collecting it’s a matter of your continued good health. Regards Brian Disclaimer: Caution, this is not a substitute for real medical advice and I do not provide marital counselling in the event you follow my suggestions.
  11. Remembrance Day _ Protocols - Comments

    Thank you for your comments Brett. It is getting more difficult to get people out for the cerimonies all the time. Many are, of course, working and school children are not given the day off though they are often bussed to the cenotaph then back to school after the service. Many government employees with the day off (Federal government offices are closed) see this as a day to go shopping etc. Shopping malls and different stores and shops do observe a two minute silence which is both a little surprising and welcomed, of course, by people who see the importance of remembering. Regards Brian
  12. Remembrance Day – Protocols – Comments November 11 is Remembrance Day here in Canada, a day where we remember and honour those who have and are serving their country. During this time we, like people in many countries around the world, wear a poppy in honour of the fallen and those who served and still serve in our armed forces. I felt it timely to post the protocols here in Canada for the wearing of the poppy and welcome the members to add anything regarding this practise in their own country. 1. Do not change the pin, not for a safety pin to prevent loss and not using a flag pin in place of the original. If you would like to prevent the loss of your poppy, as often happens, let me suggest that you take a piece of wide elastic or rubber band, fold it in half and pierce it with the pin. When you pin the poppy on take this piece of rubber band install it on the pin, sliding it up to the closest possible point where it cannot be seen and your poppy will be secure. 2. Wear the poppy on the left lapel. No lapel? Then wear it on the left side (same side as your heart, unless you are an alien from outer space then you are on your own). 3. Wear the poppy from the last Friday of October until the end of the day on November 11. You can wear your poppy respectfully at other times such as funerals of veterans or official ceremonies. Some wear it all year around stating, when challenged, that they remember their service people all year and not just on Nov.11. For the most part I call B.S. on this statement. I’ve seen poppies worn on greasy dirty old hats and you know that the poppy, being as dirty as the hat, that no thought was given to its significance once it was originally placed there. On your hat in the middle of your forehead is not on the left lapel, Buddy. Before anyone replies with a scathing message let me just say ahead of time, “Yes, you are one of the few who honours our soldiers every day you get out of bed and before you say your nighty nights to your loved ones every night. You are in no way feeling indignant and self-righteous and you do not wear the poppy to let others know how sanctimonious you are”. Yep. I’m a bastard. There I hope I saved someone a little time. 4. Anyone who is honoring our veterans can, and should, wear a poppy. 5. How many can you wear? I would have said 1, until I saw a photo of Queen Elizabeth wearing several at a ceremony and checked the Canadian protocols, which I am sure, would echo the British protocols. Besides if Her Royal Majesty wears more than 1 poppy then it just can’t be wrong. Is my monarchism showing? 6. How to dispose of your poppy. You can leave it at the memorial or cenotaph at the end of the day on the 11th. Many will leave them on the cenotaph after the service, commencing at 11 o’clock, as a sign of respect. This has always been a problem for me the few times I have not attended the services. Like worn out Canadian flags I tend to place them in a box and store them away as I just can’t seem to bring myself to tossing them out. I feel it is an insult to those I just honoured, but that just how I feel. Whatever you do with your poppy at the end of the day, DO NOT reuse them! A number of years ago when I attended my first Remembrance Day ceremonies, in full uniform, which included the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Regional Police Services and the Fire Department I recall standing at attention while they played The Last Post. My eyes started to well up with tears, which is odd as I am not known to show emotion. I was wishing I could hold them back when I strained my eyes to my left (we were at attention remember) and next to me was an RCMP officer who must have stood 6 foot 4. Tears were streaming down his face; there went any chance of me remaining my usual stoic self. If you are able please attend the Remembrance Day services in your area, it means a lot to those who have and are giving so much for us. Regards Brian
  13. Pakistan Princely States - Bahawalpur

    Sorry, I've had no luck, even for my own missing ribbons. I was once told that the ribbons are often more difficult to find than the medals themselves. I can vouch for that.myself. I hope one of the other members has had more luck, good luck in your quest Yasser. Regards Brian
  14. new member here- hello!

    Welcome to the forum, good to see yet another Canuck on board. Regards Brian
  15. INDIA -- Videsh Seva Medal

    He'll Sahil, I never give out specific members names in case they consider that not my place to do so. I consider Ed a long time friend and I am confident he would not mind me taking that presumption. Good luck in you search and please keep us informed of your progress. Warmest regards Brian