Brian Wolfe

Senior Moderator
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About Brian Wolfe

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    Senior Moderator
  • Birthday 06/08/48

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    brian.wolfe@bell.net
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  • Gender
    Male
  • 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. PBSDD In our ongoing effort to improve world security we, here at the Home Office, have been working on a new project with the working name of the Political B*ll Sh*t Detection Device, or the PBSDD. So far we have experienced a great deal of what seems to be one malfunction after another. Every time we get the device in seemingly working order we direct it at the Parliamentary Channel and the darn thing begins to make a very high pitched scream, starts to smoke and then shuts down completely. Taking it to a local gun show and using it near some of the dealer’s tables had the same effect. Pointing it at the GMIC web site seems to prompt no reaction at all, hmmm, strange indeed. We are continuing to attempt to correct these malfunctions and will report back to you when the proto-type device is functioning at peak performance. Thank you for your patience. Ah, if only I had such a device when I was in my younger years. However, it would seem that age has some benefits, not necessarily wisdom I am sorry to report. The benefits of which I speak is the ability to detect the lies and misinformation we often refer to as b*ll sh*t. I do not like using an asterisk in place of letters however in so-called polite society that seems to be the norm. Interesting that we can still “write” an offensive word as long as we somewhat disguise it. Somehow b*ll sh*t is less offensive than the actual words “bull ”; it really has always astounded me, but then hypocrisy often has that effect. I do digress, blaming it on the mental meandering of age. When I was very young the only source of military history came from the men who were there, service men from the Boer War, WWI, WWII and Korea. The vast amount of oral history centered mainly around putting one over on the RSM, leaves spent at pubs and the monotony of military life in general. This certainly mimicked the saying that military service, especially during times of war, was 90% monotony and 10% sheer terror. However my first point is not in regard to stories spun by the veterans but what I was told in regard to medals. Remember there was no internet, dealers close by or even very many books available on the topic, not in my area of Canada at least. The medals awarded by the Canadians and British as well to a lesser extent the Americans was a topic well covered by my unintentional mentors but those awarded to the “other side” was less well covered. The Germans, I was told, only gave out the Iron Cross, and they did so by the bushel basket. The Japanese on the other hand never gave out medals to the common soldier reserving the few awarded to the generals and politicians. It didn’t take long for that young novice collector to discover the Royal Canadian Legion was not the place to glean information on the topic of phaleristics. Too bad we didn’t have access to the internet and especially the GMIC website back then, but then who would want a smart ass kid telling those who had “been there, done that” that they were wrong. I was lucky they allowed my in with my father as it was and no they would never serve alcohol to a minor, but the stories went down just as smoothly with a Coca-Cola. Some of the other myths that have “made their rounds” have to do with firearms, in this case particularly the Sten gun. I have been meaning to write an article, in the proper section, on the STEN and feature the examples from my own collection but time never seems to accommodate my good intentions. We’ve all heard how the sten could go off without warning and empty a clip of 9mm before one could react, putting everyone in the squad in danger. No doubt this has some basis in truth as any weapon with one in the pipe, so-to-speak, and the safety off has the potential for discharge. I think most of the accidental discharges had more to do with having the finger on the trigger and either a every nervous soldier or due to the transport vehicle hitting a bump in the road making the STEN jump upwards engaging that finger on the trigger. It should be noted that “one in the pipe” or a round in the chamber does not apply to the STEN it was the bolt itself that must be cocked, then once released by suppressing the trigger advances and picks up the round injects it into the chamber, firing it and blowing the bolt back to repeat the cycle. In other words if you did have a round in the chamber, cocked the bolt then fired the bolt would still pick up a round from the clip but then slam it against the rear of the round already in the chamber. If the bolt was in the cocked position then one would only need to pull the bolt back a bit farther move the cocking handle straight upward locking it in place. True the bolt could be jarred out of the safe position but this is true with any firearm so I would say it is a poor argument just pertaining to the STEN. Another way the STEN could be accidently fired, according to the sources I consider myth perpetuators, is that the bolt in closed position could fire if the stock was jammed to the floor of the truck or the ground with enough force to move the bolt rearward starting the firing cycle. First of all the soldier would have to neglect to push the cocking lever through the chamber wall by way of the drilled hold used to secure the bolt. Let us say this has not been done so the bolt can move, not being locked closed. I have a Mk. II and a Mk. III in the collection as well as the Mk, V so I decided to attempt to cause the bolt to move to the rear enough to pick up a round and start the firing cycle. The Mk. V bolt is fixed in closed position but both the Mk. II and III specimens are in working condition, except for the ability to discharge a round as per Canadian Law. I slammed the butt of the weapons on a board in my shop and the bolt traveled downwards (or backward) possibly far enough to start the firing cycle. I could not actually measure the amount of travel nor could I say whether this would have been enough to pick up a round from the clip and then cause the round to fire or not. Let me say that I would not rule out the possibility of an accidental discharge, given this scenario. Even so this would only fire a single round, unless the operator has held the trigger back. Again I will say that the above is possible but only because the operator failed to secure the bolt in the closed position not because the STEN was a poor design. The myth I have a problem with and one that was conveyed to me by the very soldier who supposedly preformed this maneuver. This supposedly happened in France just after D-day and involved a squad approaching a farm house occupied by several German soldiers. These Canadians manage to sneak up on the farm house and observed, through a window, a couple of high ranking German officers and several lower ranks inside the house. Apparently this was at night as the room was lit from within allowing the allies full view. It seems that there are no words in the German language for “picket duty” or “sentry duty” as none had been posted. You would think that after going through WWI the German military would have invented such words or commands; makes one wonder if this contributed to their defeat. Our dauntless hero was out of grenades so he cocked his STEN and threw it through the window. When it hit the floor it discharged and didn’t stop firing until it emptied the clip, all 32 rounds, killing everyone inside. One shudders to imagine what would have happened had the STEN not discharged. Possibly a quick witted German soldier would have scooped it up and threw it back out the window, followed by a couple of MP40s just for good measure. One can imagine whole engagements where the air was full of MP40s and STEN guns being tossed by opposing sides. It is interesting that first of all, this veteran never held a rank above Private, the STEN being usually carried by the NCOs and above. Some exceptions were made for those soldiers where a rifle was too cumbersome such as transport drivers, commandos etc. Another interesting point was that everyone in the patrol was out of grenades yet the story never involved prior engagements with the enemy. The final evidence that the story is just that, a story, is that the story teller was in a non-combatant role throughout the war. However, this too was an important function and the fact that he indeed did serve as a volunteer in France, going in just after D-day, commands our respect. As my wife, an avid knitter likes to say, “You have to love a good yarn”. Regards Brian
  2. I know I am treading the line of sexism when I say all wives seem the share a common bond; being able the see through our smoke screens. Perhaps that, in a sense, is our burden to bear, poor us. Regards Brian
  3. It would certainly seem that way according to the blog. There is indeed a plan based on decades of collecting and finally getting to know my own short comings. If I have the cash I will by just about anything, even if it will not fit any of the collecting themes I have. I tend to dislike using my credit card either directly or through an ATM transaction. So if I see something I think I want to purchase I will take longer to decide just how much I really want it if I don't carry the cash. That works well for me unless there is no ATM on site, then it's a matter of making a "down payment" and running out to a bank machine off site. We have found that most people who attend any type of show/sale are there just for the "outing". The percentage of serious buyers is always quite small, so much so that we only sell on-line. Regards Brian
  4. Well done Gordon, thank for clearing this up. regards Brian
  5. Many families during both World Wars were given photos of close friends and even neighbour's sons who were serving overseas. This has led to a lot of confusion when researching ancestors today. It is almost common place that people who recieved these non-relations photos never recorded the names of those pictured. My wife does a good deal of research into both of our ancestory and one photo she has was quite troubling. It was always held that the two "soldiers" in one of the family albums were of some relationship to her family. It turned out that the two in the photograph were not only from two other families but girls in their early teens wearing the uniforms of what might have been their boyfriends. The past is often as clear as mud. Best wishes in your quest Lisa. Regards Brian
  6. I've seen this photo before,somewhere, and I seem to recall that it was a radio receiver used to triangular transmissions. That is to say locate suspicious communications. I hope I have remembered this correctly. Regards brian
  7. You need to set your computer to the Northern Hemisphere setting. Regards Brian
  8. Strange Creatures, These Collectors It seems that I, like many of you, have been a collector for most of my life. Starting as a child, to be clear, I “started” as an infant, and should have written that it seemed that I started “collecting” as a child. Back on point; I was one of those odd little buggers who, for the most part, kept the original boxes that had contained my new toys. Cap pistols were among my favourite toys and again that’s the same as most of us, at least most of us who were boys; though there is nothing wrong with girls having toy firearms. Note the added political correctness after-thought. It would be quite debatable to insist that I was a collector much before the age of sixteen, when I purposely ordered an Enfield WWII spike bayonet, the No. 4 Mk II* for a grand total of .99 cents, plus shipping form International Firearms in Montreal with the express intention of starting a collection. Could that really be over half a century ago? Now there’s cause for reflection. Anyone who has been with the GMIC for any number of years has read about the extent to which some (many?) collectors will go to secure that “once in a lifetime” piece. I have lost track at how many times I have told my wife that a pending purchase was a “once in a lifetime” find. I seem to have, she’s reflected on many occasions, more “lifetimes” than a cat. Yes, she is most droll. On March 26 there was a gun show at Orangeville Ontario, about 1½ hours drive from here, that my friends Brian, Mike and I were attending. At the show a dealer, with whom I have had a long standing relationship, offered me a British Police painted truncheon from the rein of William IV (1830-37). I was short of funds and asked if he would hold it until I could find a cash machine, of which there was none at the show site, meaning I would have to go into the city to locate one or at least a bank branch with such a machine. I am not a fan of the ATM as I can’t help feeling that it is somehow akin to gambling, one of these times the machine will win, I am sure. The dealer insisted that I take the truncheon and pay him the next time we meet. This is not the first time he has made that offer as it is not the first time I was short on funds with no ATM on site. We have a long standing joke between us in that I will not take him up on that offer as one never knows if one will be run over by a bus, so-to-speak, before the debt can be paid. This has become such a common joke between us that he ends emails to me with “Watch out for busses” in place of “Regards”. This has, I am sure, puzzled other show attendees when he says that to me when we part company at the shows. While at this same show I found a 1912 pattern British Officer’s Cavalry Officer’s sabre for sale at the table of another dealer. I did not make the purchase as, you will recall, I was short of cash. I told Brian and Mike about it and had to listen to Brian’s lecture on how I could have borrowed the cash from him for both items. I do not like borrowing money from friends even less than using one of those infernal ATMs. I had decided that if the sabre was available at the next gun show, this time in Jerseyville Ontario on April 9, which is about an hour’s drive from here, that I would negotiate a price for the sabre. To be clear, the truncheon would not be available at the next show and I would have to wait to secure it until the next Orangeville show on May 7. Time flies when you are having fun, they say; however when you are waiting for a treasure to be available for your collection, time takes the bus, a slow bus! Finally the show date arrived and we all set out much earlier than we would have normally to assure we were through the door in quick time and the sabre would be mine. Horror, oh the humanity of it all, the dealer and my sabre had decided not to attend this show. Had the Collecting Gods forsaken me? Was this some sort of punishment for evil deeds long past and if so what deeds? True there was that incident from when I was a kid involving a lit illegal Roman candle firework that fell over, a garden shed, an open door and a gas can. In my defence and as I pointed out to my father there were no witness to the alleged explosion; none that were over the age of majority that was. So really it was simple hear say that I was anywhere near this unfortunate set of coincidences, and therefore inadmissible as evidence. It surely couldn’t be that small bit of misadventure and besides I was the injured party in that I served a period of grounding for an offence that the prosecution (aka parents) failed to prove, due to lack of evidence, and then denied me an appeal process. Regardless of the reasons I was now doomed to wait until the next Orangeville show of May 7; a total of a month and a half. The longest month and a half of all time which includes time waiting for the next season of Game of Thrones. Alarm set for 04:30 in anticipation for Sunday morning and the Orangeville show, and then in the middle of the night I was hit by one of the worst cases of the flu I have ever experienced. By morning I was in a terrible condition running a high fever, among other symptoms that were also “running”. At 05:00 Brian and Mike arrived and I was not in any shape for the hour and a half drive to the show. I arranged for Brian to pay the dealer who had the truncheon put away for me and bring it back and also to negotiate a price for the sword with the other dealer. I knew the asking price, which at this point I was more than willing to pay and therefore knew how much cash to send and so like the Ringwraiths sent by the Dark Lord Sauron (Lord of the Rings) away Brian and Mike went on their quest. This was actually a better idea than had I been able to attend the show as I am one of the poorest price negotiators you will ever meet and Brian one of the best. If I were to negotiate the price I would probably end up paying more than the asking price and think I had made the deal of a lifetime. You would really like playing poker with me as if I am excited about an item, as would have been the case here, you can read it all over my face. It turns out that Brian indeed negotiated a better price for the sword and would have secured an even better settlement had another attendee at the show not said, part way through the negotiations, that if he (Brian) did not take the sword that this new “player” would. That was actually very rude, not only because there was an active negotiation taking place but it is not polite conduct to interrupt any conversation between two people. Not that I care about the price, as I have said I would have gladly paid the asking price, but there is an ethical and proper manner which society needs to maintain, otherwise we are no better than the beasts of the field. I suppose this makes my earlier point regarding the extent to which collectors will go to assure the procurement of an item. The bottom line, and the only point, is that the sword was now mine, mine I tells you (insert maniacal laughter here). I would estimate now that at or around (police speak) 11:00 hours I vaguely remember what sounded like Brian’s voice in the distance, through a fog of fever, talking to Linda in our kitchen. The next time I was conscious was around 1700 hours (5:00 PM). I shuffled out into the strong day light of the kitchen from my dark abyss of illness (me feeling quite sorry for myself) to see what Brian and Mike were able to secure for the collection. It was then that I saw the treasures they had brought, the sabre and the truncheon still waiting on the kitchen table where they left them. I totally reject the story Linda likes to tell as to how, like Smeagol aka Gollum (Lord of the Ring reference again), I clutched these treasures mumbling references to myself in the plural and calling the truncheon and sabre “my precious”. Further to this I did not, and I must emphasise, I did not, scurry back to bed with “our precious”, this is a conspiracy-style story that seems to have already made its way thought the whole family; one that will no doubt be repeated at every family gathering for years. I have found that one never wants this family to “get one up on you”, not that I don’t deserve it, however, turn about is not, I repeat not, fair play when it happens to me. While it may have seemed at the beginning of this blog I was going to criticise the extent that some collectors will go in order to secure yet another treasure; this is not the case. Had Brian and Mike not been able to attend the show I would have grabbed several sick bags and drove the hour and a half each way even if it had risked my very life. Considering that I have, in the past, driven two hours to a gun show in a blinding snow storm this would have been nothing that would have surprised my family. Am I crazy, as one of my friends has suggested. No I’m not crazy, just one of those strange creatures...a collector. Regards Brian
  9. In my opinion leave such medals as they are, it is an indication of the "journey" it has seen. I would think any coatings or plating would look like it has been doctored,so to speak. regards Brian
  10. Thanks GreyC. It took a while but I am glad I took the time to build them. Regards Brian
  11. I had no idea about this and was hoping someone would have the answer. I should not have been too worried as we do have an amazing knowledge pool on this forum. Thanks for clearing this question up Micky and thanks for asking it Jim, and this is indeed the section to ask such a question. Regards Brian
  12. Hi Chris, Thanks for your comments and also for putting a smile on my face and keep looking for that system. Regards Brian
  13. Good idea Chris and very well done. I have several medal groups with documentation and the medals are in one place and the documents in a fileing cabinet in another room. A note on the back of the group, of under the group in most cases, informs those who come after me, or a forgetful me, that there are document that go with the group. Obvious problem is that this can result in the paperwork getting separated from the medals, a problem you have managed to avoid. Well done. Regards Brian
  14. Well, I feel that I am just doing little except agreeing with all of the above, but here goes any way. I speak of British and therefore Canadian, Replacing ribbons is a matter of personal chioce, of course. However I would never replace one out of a group without replacing (and preserving) the balance of the group. A vet woud never, in my opinion, wear a group with one new and three or four original ribbons. I believe there are ribbons available made of the same material as the originals and I think they are worth the extra money. I have several groups in the collection with quite soiled and worn ribbons that will stay that way. I do not see this as disrespect but rather true respect for the original recipient. Now a story about a group of WWII medals that belonged to my father, and are now in my care. Originally they came in the medal box along with a piece of ribbon. My father decided he wanted them mounted for wear and had them swing mounted. After a number of decades he decided the fashion at the local Legion was to have them court mounted, which he did. So the medals never had the original ribbons on the medals themselves and were then mounted and remounted using new ribbons each time. I see no problem with this, especially when they were his medals. The good news is that Dad kept the original boxes which contain the original ribbons, packing paper, small envelope, a note of award and in the case of the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal a small silver maple leaf (showing overseas service) for the ribbon bar. Good topic and one I agree needs revisiting from time to time. Regards Brian
  15. Thanks Nicolas, I think everyone needs at least one place where they can retreat from the world and be in the surroundings that makes them comfortable. Now my shop and office are more along the lines of semi-organized chaos. Regards Brian