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Brian Wolfe

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  1. Hi Graham, An excellent collection, thanks for sharing it with the membership. Regards Brian
  2. British Foot Artillery Private’s Sword c. 1820 The Foot Artillery Private’s Sword c.1820, is sometimes referred to as the “Spanish Sword or Hanger” named for its use during the Peninsular War of 1807-1814. This British sword measures around 29 inches over all, with a 24½ inch blade without a fuller and has a D shaped hand guard. One of the issues I have with this particular sword is the time period designation of circa 1820 when it has been documented to have been in use throughout the Peninsular War of 1807 to 1814. Further, if that is the case then it is not a stretch of the imagination to see this sword in use at the time of the Battle of Waterloo (1815). A better circa date, in my opinion, would be c.1812 especially considering the war of 1812 was raging in Canada between Britain and the United States, therefore a significant date upon which to base a circa date. I believe this circa date was first set by Brian Robson, Swords of the British Army, as he was unable to locate any “Pattern” documents and was going by the mention of this sword in an official report titled, Select Committee on Artillery Equipment in 1855. This report states that the Spanish pattern hanger was worn in 1820 and continued to be worn by all gunners and drivers attached to field guns until 1826. All of this considered it would appear that this sword was in use from 1807 to 1826. It is interest that at this time (Peninsular War) that the horse artillery was issued with the large curved sabre of the Light Cavalry. This would seem a very un-gamely weapon at 33 inches to have been worn around the artillery pieces. Paintings of the battles of that era clearly show the Pattern 1796 Light Cavalry Troopers Sabre in use around the guns. Other paintings, also of that period, show the Foot Artillery sword being worn by gunners (see image below). A lot has been said by so-called experts about the Foot Artillery sword being a poor weapon and of little use for defence by the gun crews if they were over-run by the enemy. One of the reasons that I do not like to write about weapons I don’t have in the collection is that accepting the opinion of others who, in most cases, never handled the swords, let alone in battle, may be perpetuating a falsehood. This is one case where I must agree with those experts. When compared with the Pattern 1796 Cavalry Troopers Sabre, in use by the Horse Artillery of the same time period, the Foot Artillery Sword is far too blade-heavy. Both swords are of about the same weight but the weight distribution for the Foot Artillery sword makes it feel much heavier than that of the 1796 Cavalry Sabre. What does this mean when it comes to the gun crews defending themselves? The weight distribution in the 1796 Cavalry Sabre allows the user to parry an enemy’s sword then recover and deal his own cut or thrust. The Foot Artillery sword being blade-heavy would defend, or parry, as well as the 1796, however recovery of the weapon in order to deliver a counter blow would be very difficult, if not impossible. This scenario is involving being overrun by cavalry as the enemy is moving quickly through the line of guns. In the case of enemy infantry the parry of a bayonet would be followed up with a blow from the musket’s stock or butt plate. Being unable to counter strike with the sword is a definite detriment for the gunner. It seems strange that any sword should be considered as ineffective, however, it should be remembered that ever since the advent of dependable firearms the sword has not been the principle weapon of war. This is a good topic by itself and one that we may look at in detail in a future article. The artilleryman’s principle weapon, in this case, is his cannon and the sword, if he has one, for self defence as a last resort. Regards Brian Below is a picture the Foot Artillery Private’s Sword and one of the 1796 Cavalry Trooper’s Sabre. The artillery men from the painting Royal Artillery Dislodging French Cavalry by Denis Dighton (1792 – 1827) shows the gunner in the centre of the photo wearing the Foot Artillery Private’s Sword in the middle of his back, well out of the way of operating the artillery piece. The French Cavalry are in the background just below the hills.
  3. Well done on finding out the information you needed on your own. Regards Brian
  4. That was a good one, Michael. Regards Brian
  5. ...and another thing. Where is my memory today? If you read the first part of this tutorial you will recall that I suggested that before you drill the hole it might be a good idea to insert a thin piece of wood where the menu would normally be before you drill to prevent splitting or cracking of the Plexiglas. I did this to prove it would work and it did. This may be hard for those without a shop full of thin scrap but you can sand the piece (after cutting it as thin as possible) on a belt sander. I had to do this as my planner will not plane that thin. I think I have recalled everything now. Regards Brian
  6. Today I decided to finish this project with the modifying the second menu holder to support the scabbard. The only difference in procedure from the first part of this tutorial is in the size of the hole you will need to drill and therefore the resultant slot. I drilled a ¾ inch hole as that accommodates all of the swords I might want to photograph. With the exception of my oldest (c.1650) Japanese sword scabbards, they could use a hole of 1 inch in diameter. For this post we are dealing with British and probably most European weapons. I have included a photo of the sword in its scabbard to show how this looks if you decide to just use the stand to display a sword in its scabbard. The sword alone is sitting on a 4 inch deep box under the red fabric to elevate it above the scabbard and that seems to be about right for any posting I (or you) might want to make. The sword displayed is one of my prized specimens and is a Pattern 1822 Canadian Artillery Officer’s sword. I didn’t show the engraving on the blade which is very nice because we are only talking about the photographing or displaying of the whole sword; any sword would have done, I just wanted to “play” with this one today. I hope you, or your woodworking friend, will try this project as I think it really works well. Regards Brian Oops, I hate it when I resize a photo twice! I'll try again with the sword above the scabbard, to save your eyes. Regards Brian
  7. Thank you for your kind comments Patrick and welcome back to the forum. Regards Brian
  8. Morally? Not really a question of morals in my opinion, more a question of do you see preserving the whole family history or just that time period he served as important? I have boxes and boxes of material from one family that has photos from the late 1800's until around the 1960's most of which is not military related, some WWI and WWII but not the majority. I felt and still feel that I am obligated by the unwritten rule for historians, amateur or professional, to keep the material together. After all I am now the keeper of this family's history. Back to my original point, a man should not be defined by his military service alone so all of your album, in a way, is the history of that soldier. I've known you for a long time now, Chris, and I see you as more than just your time served and your collecting hobby; I see you as a devoted family man as well. Bottom line is that it is your decision and yours alone, but I thought I would add my humble opinion. Regards Brian
  9. Do it yourself Plexiglas edged weapon display stand. First: Do not try this at home, I am a professional. Seriously, if you are nervous around very sharp blades spinning at extremely high speed with no guards it would be better to ask a woodworking friend to help with this project. I’ve worked around woodworking machines most of my life and something new such as this project always makes me extra cautious. Second: If you are going to do this yourself best to do so when your doctor’s office is open (bad joke but truer than you might think). I do quite a bit of photography of swords for different articles both here on GMIC and for other publications and have wanted a good stand that didn’t appear so obvious, such as ones made of wood, for quite a while now. My so-called photo studio is purely amateur but with a little patience I manage some fairly good images. A friend of mine suggested stands made from Plexiglas but this involved experimenting with bending the material and just a little too much heat and the project is ruined. While at the local stationary store I found pre-made stands that are used for things such as restaurant menus on their tables and thought that perhaps with some modification these might serve my purposes. Obviously they did and therefore I wanted to share this with you. You, or your woodworker friend, will need a table saw with a carbide blade and a drill press with a ¼ inch Forstner bit. I use an industrial carbide rip blade for everything except when I need a narrower cut, almost all woodworkers will be using carbide tipped blades and usually the narrower cross cut blade (which would be better). The Fostner bit is essential as other bits will most likely crack the Plexiglas when drilling the hole. Just Google Forstner bit to see what they look like if you don’t already know. Warning: Do not attempt this project with a circular saw, e.g. “Skill Saw” or a hand drill! The menu holders are 5 inches wide so you will need to cut one down the middle to produce two equal (more or less – not that important) halves. Set the fence on the table saw at 2½ inches (measure from the fence to the middle of the saw blade). First you will need to cut the base of the stand. Do this by keeping the stand’s edge against the saw’s fence and the blade just high enough to cut through the stand’s base. Don’t worry about the rest of the stand, (that should be in a vertical position at this time), this we will cut later. Now run the base through the saw using a piece of wood – NOT YOUR FINGERS- to push the stand base. Use a long enough piece of wood so that you can cut all the way through the stand. Don’t try to stop just at the moment the Plexiglas is cut in two otherwise the piece between the blade and the fence will bind and shatter. Next you will need to cut the main section which is double thickness in order to hold a menu. Use a piece of 2 x 4 under the stand so that the base is supported off the saw table. Make sure you have a long piece of 2 X 4 as you want to keep those fingers where they belong, on your hand not on the floor. This may sound like obvious advice but even though I have a lot of experience in the shop I could, if you were here, show you a couple of blood trails on the floor from minor mishaps. Remember that thing about working in the shop when the doctor’s office is open? I’ve been there so often that they are considering a frequent customer discount! Feed the stand through the saw base first (remember you have already cut the base) this will allow the stand’s base to keep the stand from being pushed back toward you as you cut. Once you have made this last cut well past the Plexiglas stand you are ready to drill the hole. Don’t throw away that 2 X 4 as you are going to need it later. Mark out where you want the hole which will be at the bottom of the slot you will be cutting later using that 2 X 4 again. I measured ¾ inch down from the top as that is sufficient for any sword I might want to display. I got a little cracking around the hole even with using the Forstner bit but it doesn’t show when you are displaying the sword. I think this cracking occurred because there is a space between the two halves of the stand. If I were making a lot of these I would probably plane a piece of wood down that would fit between the two Plexiglas halves so as to support them, thereby eliminating any cracking. Now you have the holes drilled go back to the saw, use a shorter 2 X 4 this time as support and while keeping the 2 X 4 against the saw fence “eyeball” the cut you are making so that the cut ends in such a way to leave a slot the width of the hole. The base should be toward you this time as you are cutting in from the top rather than from the base end. You’ll have to make two cuts to get the slot wide enough. Now you are finished except there will be some rough edges where the cuts were made but this can be easily removed with a pocket knife. I didn’t sand and polished the cut edge as I used them with the factory edge facing the camera, or if you were going to use this to display a weapon the camera would be the viewer’s eyes. I will be making another stand for the scabbards and photograph the two together with the sword elevated above the scabbard. If you intend to display a sword in the scabbard then simply measure the scabbard and make the slots fit that dimension, usually around ¾ of an inch. For heavy items such as a rifle I would use thicker Plexiglas and heat-bend it so that if forms a long “U” shape, sort of like “] “when standing on its end. The advantage of using two stands on the lighter items for photographing is that you can turn each stand slightly so that the camera “sees” only the edge of the stand. A one piece stand will show more of the support “columns” in a photograph. I have not shown a lot of photos so if there are any questions please feel free to PM me or email me at brian.wolfe@bell.net and I will be happy to assist you. Regards Brian
  10. Final Analysis: In the final analysis how do the Patterns 1908 and 1912 fare? Many aspects of the cavalry had changed from the day of “cut and slash” swords to the final thrust centric 1908 and 1912. The heavy cavalry no longer existed as it was found that the use of cavalry itself became more akin to scouting, skirmishing or harassing the enemy and mounted infantry roles. With the implementation of trench warfare with its barbed wire entanglements, high rate of fire machine guns, improved accuracy of bolt-action rifles, massed artillery and finally areal strafing and bombing the open spaces needed for cavalry manoeuvring disappeared. However, in the early days of the War (1914) while the war still fluid and after the stalemate of the static tactics of the trenches the cavalry and its Patterns 1908 and 1912 proved quite effective. Most notably for Canadians was the Cavalry charge at Moreuil Wood in 1918 (see sketch below). One of the more notable successes of cavalry employment in the Middle East was the charge at El Mughar against the Turkish troops by the 6th Mounted Brigade on 13 November 1917 (see painting at the beginning of this article). Had the battle fields of the First World War remained opened and tactics fluid one has to wonder if the last British Cavalry swords would have fared so well. With the advancement of rapid fire machine guns and accurate long range bolt action rifles along with properly trained troops in repelling cavalry quite possibly cavalry charges would have quickly become things of the past. Certainly even infantry in line and taught to volley fire at several hundred yards then independent fire at 200 to 150 yards would have devastated any attempt to rout an enemy with cavalry. Even discounting the use of field artillery and rapid firing machine guns this would have spelled doom for mounted troops. Britain’s last sword made its appearance at the end of an era; an era of glorious massed cavalry charges and mighty heroes. The long awaited pinnacle of cavalry swords was to die a quiet and unglorified death overshadowed by ignominious machines of mass destruction to fade into the shadows of history. The above photo is a depiction of a drawing depicting the Canadian Cavalry charge at Moreuil Wood 30 March 1918 Bibliography: The Berkshire Yeomanry Journal. “2017 Centenary Issue.” King, Edward A. “The Horse in Warfare” Kinsley, D. A. “Swordsmen of the British Empire.” McGrath, John & Barton, Mark. British Naval Swords & Swordsmanship. Robson, Brian. “Swords of the British Empire, Revised Edition.” Summers, Jack L., Chartand, Rene. “Military Uniforms in Canada 1665-1970.” Withers, Harvey. “British Military Swords 1786 – 1912 The Regulation Patterns.” Author: Brian Wolfe Ontario, Canada September 2018
  11. When the M.1913 is used to give point there is nothing except the thumb depression to stop the hand from sliding foreword and smashing into the back of the guard bowl. With any sword when giving point the blade seldom penetrates without resistance. First the point must go through clothing such as uniforms and perhaps a thick overcoat; there is then the matter of bone preventing easy penetration. All swords will flex to some degree when giving point. Experiments carried out for the purposes of this article using a dense foam sheet covered by two layers of terrycloth and affixed to a board gave the following results. With both swords of the same degree of sharpness at the point the British Pattern 1908 gave little flex and penetrated the material easily. The American Model 1913 flexed a great deal and had difficulty entering into the material. This high degree of flex in battle could very well result in bent or broken blades and possibly fail to deliver a fatal blow. As to the M.1913 being used as a slashing weapon it is my opinion that it lacks the blade weight of earlier cavalry specimens such as the British 1821 through to the Pattern 1899. The design of the M.1913 puts most of the weight at the grip making the blade feel quite light. This weight distribution is quite advantageous when considering the Pattern 1908 as it is a thrusting weapon and allows for easy movement and direction of the tip. The M.1913 grip is also too rectangular to be comfortable in sustained battle in the slashing mode. This could very well result in fatigue setting in during a prolonged mêlée. The British Pattern 1908 needs not meet any criteria as a slashing weapon as it is a dedicated thrusting weapon. Given the purpose of each specimen it would clearly appear that the Pattern 1908 Cavalry Sword is the superior weapon. Note the lack of forefinger support on the M. 1913 [foreground] below. Two Perspectives: From what has been written about the Pattern 1908 it would appear that there was a love hate relationship in the minds of those who have used the weapon in combat as well as those who came afterwards. Taking a quote from Brian Robson’s book, “Swords of the British Army”, revised edition, pg. 66, as a generalized opinion of the Pattern 1908 we find the following. “The Pattern 1908 sword was the last entirely new design to be adopted by the British Army and it has been regarded since its appearance as a masterpiece of design. It was without doubt the best sword ever produced for the British cavalry and probably for any cavalry but it is not difficult to understand the shock it created in conservative military circles, with its wicked, rapier-type blade and its pistol-shaped, plastic grip”. A differing point of view is given by Lt. Col. “Fritz” Wormald who fought at the Battle of Omdurman 1898. The quote starts with the battle and ends with the use of the Pattern 1912. “Lieutenant Wormald, of the 7th Hussars, engaged an Emir single handed and nearly came to grief. Delivering a terrific blow at the mail-clad warrior, the Lieutenant’s sword, striking against the chain armour, bent double, as though it were lead. But before the Emir could get his own sword home, Wormald hit him across the head with the bent sword and stunned him; and a Lancer, opportunely coming along, finished the chieftain.” According to another account, “Fritz” Wormald pursued the emir on horseback. “As he passed him, he dropped the point of his sword in the Emir’s back, a kidney thrust that ought to have been fatal. But the sword bent up and remained bent. Fritz then turned around and swiped him on the face, knocking him off his pony, and a lancer gave him the final thrust.” The Wilkinson Sword Company honored their guarantee by presenting Wormald with a new sword after he complained of the old one that “It won’t even go through a black man’s back”, but he evidently never used it. Instead (and ironically), according to Capt. & Adjt. C. E. Bryant, when Lt. Col. Wormald led a charge of the 12th Royal Lancers at Moy in 1914, he used a new Wilkinson thrusting sword (1912 Pattern), which buckled like an “S” and was wrenched out of his hand after transfixing a German. I [Bryant] was using the old cutting sword (1895 Pattern), well sharpened, which went in and out of [five] Germans like a pat of butter.” (Maj. Gen. John Vaughan, Cavalry and Sporting Memories, 1954; Ms. Copy. Priv. Coll.) Above quote is from D.A. Kinsley’s book, “Swordsmen of the British Empire, pg. 330 – 331. The above narrative by men, who were there, demonstrates some interesting details. First of all, the failure of two different patterns of swords, the first, possibly the Heavy Cavalry Officer’s Undress sword Pattern 1887, though undoubtedly a bladed cut and thrust weapon and then the Pattern 1912 Officer’s Cavalry sword, a dedicated thrusting weapon as used by Wormald; both made by Wilkinson. It would appear that the problem of bent swords, in this case, may have had more to do with poor technique in giving point from a mounted position than the quality of the swords. The fact that Bryant seems to find no problems with what he describes as the 1895 Pattern when applied to five similar targets, may fortify this assumption on my part. The second point evident from the quote is that while many sources suggest (hint?) that any cavalry units using earlier sword patterns, as in the case of the Guards units, were issued the Pattern 1912 Cavalry sword when on duty overseas. In the case cited it is obvious this was not always the case, or at least not always followed.
  12. The American Model 1913: The Americans introduced their version of the “modern” cavalry sword with the Model 1913 designed by George S. Patton. It is not a slavish copy of the British 1908 but it is easy to see that it was heavily influenced, especially considering the Americans were testing the British 1908 to see if it would suit their needs at that time. The main difference between the two is that the British “sword” is a dedicated thrusting weapon, or estoc, while the American M.1913 has a double edged blade running the full length from ricasso to tip. This was a true sword and designed for the “old” cut and thrust style of fighting. Both swords have a large bowl guard made from one sheet of steel, however the grips differ considerably. The American M.1913 grip has a metal back piece with plastic inserts for grips; the British Pattern 1908 is made entirely of a plastic substance. The American sword has the thumb depression, same as the British sword, however there is no forefinger stop. The thumb depression and the shape of the grips on both swords allows for easy “indexing”, making the swords easily maintained in the correct position during use. A better view of the American Model 1913.
  13. The Pattern 1912 In 1912 an almost identical sword was introduced for the officers. The differences being an engraved bowl in the familiar honeysuckle pattern used on previous officers’ swords and a wood and fish skin covered grip bound with seventeen bands of twisted silver wire. Two scabbards were introduced, a leather covered wooden scabbard for use with the Sam Browne system and a plated steel scabbard with two loose rings for wear in Full Dress. Some but not all blades were etched and decorated.
  14. The new Pattern 1908 not only offered better hand protection but the grip, now made of plastic, was changed to a pistol-grip style including a thumb depression which allowed the sword to be brought into the correct position upon drawing it from the scabbard. The grip was very comfortable in the hand and the index finger rested against a rectangular piece, built into the grip, which along with the thumb depression prevented the hand from being crushed into the guard bowl upon impact when giving point. The approximately 42 inch length along with the trooper’s arm in out stretched form during a charge allowed the sword to act as well as the lance it was meant to replace. Variations are few, the Indian pattern being the most prominent with a smaller guard bowl and grip, supposedly for the smaller hand of the Indian troopers. The grip was initially made of walnut but due to the expense of this type of wood later model grips were made of dermatine, a type of early plastic. This “Indian pattern” was not as well balanced as the Pattern 1908 issued to British troops possibly due to the reduced grip and bowl size which would change the balance of the overall sword. A rare variation of the 1908 [shown below] was one where the bowl and scabbard were completely encased in leather. This was done to prevent glare from the sun giving away the position of the troops in the Eastern areas of the world. During WWI the 1908 was painted khaki or green. Pictured below is a trooper of the 16th Canadian Light Horse 1905-1936 showing the Pattern 1908 affixed to the saddle of his horse. Officers carried their swords suspended from the Sam Browne suspension system.
  15. This is a copy of a painting depicting the charge at El Mughar by the 6th Mounted Brigade comprising the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Dorset Yeomanry regiments, supported by the Berkshire RHA on 13 November 1917, by J. P. Beadle. This was one of the last actions that saw the use of the 1908 and 1912 [officer's pattern] Cavalry Sabre. This image is in my collection and was a gift from the Berkshire Yeomanry, special thanks to Stuart Bates for making this possible.
  16. Sorry about no photo above. I thought I could cut and past the article, first the text then the photos but I can't so I am going to retake all of the photos since I own all of the images. This first sword is the 1908 issued for WWI as can be noted by the green painted hand guard. It is stamped to the Royal Horse Guards.
  17. Britain' Last Sword This is the first of a series of submissions that will make up the complete article I submitted to a publications so please "stay tuned" as I cut and paste. Britain’s Last Sword Patterns 1908 and 1912 British Cavalry Sword. Background: The first time a specific design, or “pattern”, was made mandatory for use by the British Cavalry throughout the whole of the Empire was with the Patterns 1788 Heavy Cavalry Sword and Light Cavalry Sabre. Prior to this the equipping of the individual regiments was the responsibility of their colonels, usually a general officer, who used his own discretion as to uniform and weapon design. The Pattern 1788 was soon replaced by the now iconic Pattern 1796 Heavy Cavalry Sword and Light Cavalry Sabre. The 1796 Heavy Cavalry Sword was a slightly heavier straight bladed sword, at 2 lbs. 6 oz., while the Light Cavalry was issued with the lighter (2 lbs. 2 oz.) curved sabre. It was during this general time (Napoleonic Wars) that it was noted that the slashing cut, especially with the sabre, produced less mortal wounds than did the thrust, also known as “giving point”. Indeed the statistics of the time showed a higher rate of mortality by sword in the British and allied troops as opposed to the French troops. Napoleon himself is reputed to have told his cavalry troops, “Ne sabrez pas! Pointez! Pointez!” [“No sabring! Give point! Give point!”]. While this flies in the face of later thinking, that being a wounded soldier consumes more resources and has a greater negative effect on a nation than a dead soldier, the British became obsessed in finding the perfect cavalry sword. This can also be said of the Infantry sword. The Pattern 1803 being very curved and sabre-like as compared with the last Pattern, the 1897, with its dumb-bell shaped cross section blade and spear point; an obviously thrust centric weapon. It would seem an easy task to design a straight sword that was used extensively for giving point, lacking a blade that could be sharpened, as well as providing better sword hand protection, which the 1796 sword and sabre sorely lacked. The introduction of the Pattern 1821 provided better hand protection but retained a slightly curved blade; it was supposed to be the best of both worlds of cut and thrust. This design continued, with better hand protection, yet virtually the same blade style up to the Pattern 1899 Cavalry Sabre. What caused this painfully slow evolution in sword blade design? The answer may be found in what has been reported as a natural reflex of the human in close combat to strike at an opponent rather than attempting to use a stabbing motion. In situations such as had been experienced during the Sepoy Mutiny of 1854 a mêlée at close quarters rendered the lance and therefore a dedicated thrust centric sword most ineffective. As an example of close-quarter combat there have been several incidents recorded that after a sword had broken at the guard the trooper used the hand guard to punch his opponents much in the same manner as using a brass knuckles. In several cases after the battle the sword grip and guard had to be cut from around the trooper’s hand by the regimental armourer as it has deformed to such an extent that it entrapped the appendage. After over 100 years of British sword evolution the Pattern 1908 cavalry sword was introduced. The new hand guard was a vast improvement over preceding patterns and the straight blade with its thrusting point was to make this the premier British sword. Technically this was not a sabre or a sword but an “estoc”, as it lacks any cutting edge and is purely a thrusting weapon. Even though this was the most advanced design to date it was not well accepted by everyone. King Edward VII called it “hideous” and could not understand why there was a need for a purely thrusting weapon. A high level deputation explained the need to His Royal Highness, after which he gave it Royal approval. He obviously felt strongly enough regarding his first opinion of the Pattern 1908 that he stipulated that the Household Cavalry was to retain their existing swords (Household Cavalry Pattern 1892, Mk II) for ceremonial purposes and carrying the new Pattern 1908 only while on active service. Doc2.docx
  18. Content incorrect post removed by author.
  19. I would suggest a Google search. I did a search for chicken and dumplings today as I wanted to make it this coming week and my wife said, "Really? You had to look it up?" Yep, if I can't burn it on the BBQ then I'm lost. Regards Brian
  20. Thanks for your comment IrishGunner, that is a familiar story, though I never left the country. Regards Brian
  21. Thank you very much for this most interesting response Paul; I'll admit to a touch of envy as I read it. I think we need a lot more such personal collecting stories here on the forum. Regards Brian
  22. Hi Muckaroon1960, Your point is very well made. Many thanks for your comment. Regards Brian
  23. Reading the comment about the placement of the conclusion, or summary, of my blog above reminded me of a story from my past that I would like to share with you. As Irish Gunner has alluded, some think my writing is pedantic so this one is on them; I accept no blame. I am retired from a 30 year career working in government here in Ontario with 20 years with municipally government and a decade with the oldest and largest conservation authority in the province. The last position, managing the lands and holdings of the conservation authority can only be described as a dream job. While at one municipality the department heads were required to attend council meetings every Monday evening, this is common throughout Ontario and most likely the rest of the country; though some hold council during the day. My reports were almost entirely composed of statistics such as permits issued, projects completed, and number of charges, prosecutions and revenues. Pretty mundane and consisting of one page; two if it was the yearend report. The Planning Department on the other hand presented reports that weighed in at around twenty pages. The council packages were hand delivered on Friday so that they could be reviewed by the council members on the weekend in order to be ready for the Monday evening meeting. For the most part they would show up at the meeting and only then rip open their council packages. It should be noted that in those days council meetings could run as late as 2 PM. The Planning Department Director and I were, and are, good friends [he is my neighbour as well] and we would each write down the name of one of the older council members that we thought would fall asleep first as the meeting wore on. The bet was for morning coffee the following day. He knew that the council never read his reports as long as he wrote the longest most drawn out reports imaginable. Since his department’s job was to support or object to a development proposal he would “hide” certain facts within the body of the report then write a summary at the end that may or may not contain all of the pertinent facts; depending on how he wanted the decision to go. In a sick way it was brilliant. One day all of the department heads received an inter office memo stating that the required format of the council reports were to change. I couldn’t help but smile at the thoughts that his scheme was over. Imagine if you will the look that must have been on my face, at the next council meeting, when the only proposed change to the summary was now it was now to appear at the beginning of the report! I was dump struck, looked over at the planner who looked at me, smiled and winked. The reason for the change was that there had been a complaint from a member of the public that when they were presenting their petition it was difficult to be heard due to the rustling of pages by the council members who had left their microphones on. They were rifling through the planner’s long report to get to the summary and, of course, ignoring the speaker. With the new change in format there was even less chance of finding something hidden in the body of the report as now the summary was right there on top. Ah, local government; sharp as bread pudding; when they’re awake. Regards Brian
  24. Hi Irish Gunner, Thanks for your comments and no I didn't forget "verbose" I just ignore that concept. I am, after all, paid by the word.😉 Regards Brian
  25. In this essay I would like to talk about writing in general as well as blogs themselves. It seems odd to me how we say that we are going to “talk” about something when it is actually in print. I suppose I should have written, “I would like to write about...”, it would have been more accurate. The other issue that comes to mind is audio books. You don’t read an audio book, you listen to them; this being the case should they even be called books, since you read a book and listen to a recording. I can’t help but wonder how anyone can be so busy that they need to be read to, like a child at bed time; or is it a matter of limited reading skills or out and out laziness. The books I like to read are historical and scientific [particularly earth science] and I confess to watching lectures on You Tube far more often than I like admitting. If you are looking for a couple of good presenters on You Tube, pertaining to history, I suggest you try, Lindybeige or Matt Easton scholagladiatoria [just type matt easton into your browser and go to the choice that includes scholagladiatoria, this saves typing in a long Latinized name]. He talks mostly about swords and HEMA [Historical European Martial Arts] where Lindybeige talks on history as well as some quite philosophical topics. As to blogs, at least the one I attempt to pound out here, there are inherent problems. For example it is difficult to stay away from politics and religion when they play such an intrinsic part of the story of military history. It is also difficult not to unintentionally draw comparisons between the past and present state of what is going on in the world today. It’s not as if this is anything new, for example, a writer in the 1850s [an era in which my children are convinced I was born] could as easily have made a connection between the past and their particular time period. The difference is that he or she is not taken to task today about what they wrote “yesterday”; a current writer on the other hand is quite open to verbal attack for such comparisons, intentional or otherwise. No one likes to constantly apologize for the misinterpretation of his work by others. When it comes to religion I could say that I don’t care what your religious beliefs or lack thereof may be. However, that’s not completely accurate as it is not a matter that I don’t care it is a matter that I do not believe it is any of my business. Then there is the matter of what words to use and how to use them. Most people do not write the same way they speak. The reason is simple, in my mind, as when we converse we don’t have the time to pick what we might think to be a more appropriate word. I will be honest here and say that I do at times stop in the middle of spoken sentence and say, “what is that word...let me think...oh yes”, then include it and carry on with the thought. I know it drives people crazy; unlike religion, this is a case where I really don’t care. I also occasionally do use Latin terms when I talk with others, not a lot, but I use them. My family has gotten used to it and friends pretty much ignore their use, and at times me no doubt. I do struggle with what words to use; should I go for the word I have in mind or try to find a monosyllabic word to assure all of the readers will understand and thereby avoid being seen as pretentious. I think that it’s better to be seen as pretentious rather than to feel like I am being condescending toward the reader, I’d rather be seen as being more pompous rather than risk insulting fellow members. Yes, I see the irony in using “monosyllabic” over “single syllable” when I claimed that I wanted my writing to be clear to the reader. My thought on this point is and has always been that if you don’t understand a particular word then look it up; that’s what I did and still do; it’s basic vocabulary building. My last point on viewing people as being pretentious is to pose the question, ‘Did you think the writer opened the dictionary, picked out some very long words then wrote the article around those words. Certainly he or she had foreknowledge of those words in order to have used them in the first place. The fact that some of the potential readers may not have English as their first language is not lost on me. I come from a bilingual country [Canada] and stand as a proponent of bilingualism. Having said that my grasp of the French language is less than minimal; this is the very definition of hypocrisy. I can imagine how I would feel attempting to read an article in another language other than English and I regret that I am unable to accommodate them...c’est la vie. I treat learning a second language much like living a healthy life style and getting plenty of exercise. I fully support those so inclined and enthusiastically cheer them on while they run by as I sit in my lawn chair, Pepsi in one hand and a bag of potato chips close by giving the participants a hardy thumbs up. Just remember that in 100 years we all be in the same condition, at least for me it will be no surprise. In conclusion, I will attempt to be more mindful of the need for clarity in my writing while not drifting too far away from what I term as a writing style. After all it has taken me decades to get to be this annoying and pretentious. Regards Brian
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