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IrishGunner

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  1. As a kid, I was a coin collector.  That continued into my young adulthood.  While posted to Berlin in the early 1980s, my wife and I would often visit the flea markets and I would pick up a few coins on every trip.  One day I purchased a Hindenburg cross and and 1870/71 medal.  At the time, I had no idea what they were, but thought they would be good souvenirs of time spent in Berlin.  As we traveled around Europe, I gradually found it more interesting to pick up an old military medal at flea markets as a souvenir of visiting different countries rather than coins.  Slowly this grew to deliberate searches for particular medals.  Gradually, I found myself buying fewer and fewer coins and more and more medals.  The rest is history (or an obsession).


  2. You forgot verbose.  😉

    You could have gotten right to the point and saved me a lot of time if you had written this sentence at the beginning of this novella - " 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." 😋


  3. As I'm not from a Commonwealth country - nor Belgium nor France -  where the poppy tradition seems to dwell, I hesitate to comment.  There was a time in the U.S. when poppies were much more prolific, but the idea seemed to migrate from Veterans Day to Memorial Day.  I do recall as a member of the Civil Air Patrol in my young teens participating in a poppy appeal drive.  However, I can't remember if it was November or May.  Nevertheless, my comment is this: at least they are wearing poppies.  Well, maybe the farmer took it a bit far.  As for protocol, perhaps these people never had the benefit of being taught the protocol.  Education is always the key to eliminating ignorance.  I was flabbergasted when teaching a unit on World War I to my 9th grade history classes, which concluded just the week before November 11th, that only one - I tolerate almost 150 students - only one - yes only one - knew what holiday falls on 11 November.  And yes, they had just "learned" that date was when the war ended, i.e. Armistice Day.  To err is human.  Forgive them for they know not what they do.  Do not judge harshly those that remember those that should never be forgotten.  Forgive, but do not forget.


  4. Catching up on some missed News From the Home Office.  Coincidentally, I just re-read one of my (sparse) blog entries from January 2015 in which we shared the same conclusion: one is either a hoarder or historian.  Of course, I had my own "full stop" when I ceased either activity over the past three years.  Now as I come back to the Great Game, I quickly found myself just buying the next thing I saw that looked interesting albeit still artillery related.  I was like a man dying of thirst willing to drink any and all water that was set on the table.  Fortunately, your blog entry was a drink of fresh water, reminding me of my own New Year's resolution back in 2015. (Well, I guess I did fulfill the part about buying less since I bought nothing for three years!)  It's time to organize the War Room, develop a plan to re-start my website, and sort out the bits and baubles that can go to the auction block.  Back to being a historian.


  5. 1 hour ago, Brian Wolfe said:

    what has become evident is that time, not money, is the hardest commodity to come by.  

    Might I recommend Pink Floyd ...

    Every year is getting shorter; never seem to find the time.
    Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
    Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
    The time is gone, the song is over,
    Thought I'd something more to say.


  6. For some reason, I have never really thought about the "economics of collecting" other than how it fits into my budget.  Militaria fits into my category of disposable income (that not spent on life necessities - and for the record, beer is a necessity!).  I keep track of what I pay for every item more out of curiosity than out of any hope of achieving any return.  Rather than an investment, I tend to see my costs as overhead.  Then again, I don't have anything all that valuable in my collection.  I can only hope my heirs make enough off the liquidation to fund good whiskey for my wake!


  7. We all need to stop simply “checking off” one choice from a list or taking the easiest essay question on a test style of thinking and get the full picture, if we want to call ourselves history buffs or dare I use the term Historians.

    Brian, the moral to your story has me thinking - always a dangerous thing.  As I delve more into the world of education, I waver between determination and disenchantment.  I am disheartened that most "students" regardless of age or level of study, look for the easiest path.  They rail against any essay question, let alone an easy one.  They want multiple choice questions with the obvious answer decked out in neon lights.  To them "fair" means "easy."  They don't want to be challenged to think.  I say most.  Because at times I am encouraged by those students who genuinely aspire to learn for the sake of learning and not simply to get a grade or get a job.

    Curiously, we often discuss on these pages the future of this hobby.  I believe the future has little to do with accumulating baubles, but the future lies with those interested in the history.  Sadly, as I've pontificated about above, those animals are becoming extinct.  Historians are a dying breed.


  8. Mervyn, there is no question regarding the evil nature of the Nazi regime.  Also, please, do not misunderstand my view as being against Churchill.  Quite the contrary, as I said, his decisions on bombing are what make him more than simply an inspirational leader who was good at V-sign photo ops; these difficult decisions set him apart as a true leader - often in wartime - even desperate times - a leader has to make difficult, unpopular, and often times controversial decisions - for the greater good.

     

    However, if I am a cynic regarding Britain's - thus Churchill's - bombing policy, then I have a lot company, including many Britons.  From the BBC website regarding Churchill's bombing policy early in the war:

     

    "This was the time when Churchill began to think about the need for an 'absolutely devastating exterminating attack by very heavy bombers from this country upon the Nazi homeland.' When on the night of 24 August 1940 the German air force - the Luftwaffe - accidentally and against Hitler's orders - dropped some bombs over London, the British prime minister requested a retaliatory raid on Berlin. Hitler responded by going ahead with the Blitz, and the following months and years saw tit-for-tat raids on each country's cities."

     

    Some historians argue that the Luftwaffe was hemorrhaging pilots and aircraft at a faster rate than the RAF during the Battle of Britain.  Additionally, they argue that RAF airfields were usually back in operation within 24 hours after German attacks.  And they question whether Churchill really needed to risk British cities in Hitler's tit-for-tat escalation of the bombing of cities and civilians.  But Churchill did risk them.  As Brian's piece points out, this is often cited as having saved the RAF and Britain itself.

     

    And as I pointed out above, Churchill was perhaps the only British leader who could make that difficult decision, unlike Chamberlain (who I've previously pointed out in the comments of this blog as a PM who lacked the ability to lead in difficult times).  From the BBC website again:

     

    "Many felt that the Germans deserved to reap the whirlwind they had sown. Yet Bomber Command's policy of targeting residential areas clearly contradicted Chamberlain's pre-war statement in parliament that it was 'against international law to bomb civilians as such and to make deliberate attacks on the civilian population'."

     

    Fighting an evil enemy like Nazi Germany requires difficult decisions - sometimes sacrificing the needs of the few, for the benefit of the many.  I believe Churchill had no choice but to risk further destruction of British cities by bombing German cities.  I don't think Chamberlain would have made that choice and the result for Britain may have been even worse.  Fortunately, Britain - and the world - had Winston Churchill at the helm in 1940 to make that very difficult decision.  Cynical?  I don't think so.  Admirable.


  9. Day old eggs that even ketchup can't revive, I'm afraid.  Nothing really new here.  Sorry, old friend.

     

    "He calculated, correctly it turns out, that the bombing of the German capital would enrage Hitler and he would order his bombers away from RAF targets to the cities of England. A terrible choice had to be made but the saving of the RAF form destruction would mean the salvation of the Nation itself."

     

    This is perhaps the key point.  And perhaps should be expanded upon.  Britain's "finest hour" really begins with many Britons taking their last breaths.  The "terrible choice" meant sacrificing British cities to save the RAF.  For the most part, we see Churchill as the "inspirational" leader - the V-sign photos you mention.  But could any other British leader have made that decision?  Chamberlain?  I doubt it.  It took someone like Churchill to make that "terrible choice."  A choice that he saw as singular.  It wasn't a choice really.  It was the only option in his view.


  10. An excellent and impressive analogy.  I think this may be your best work yet, Brian.  Seriously, this could be published.

     

    Nonetheless, I have a few questions:

     

    1) Did you get ketchup on your shirt?

    2) Did the half inch of ketchup on your plate make your eggs inedible?

    3) Does the OC charge additional for ketchup?

     

    If the answer to these questions is "No" - then I say: No harm, no foul.  Discussing politics can be equally "energetic" as dispensing condiments, but in the end, could result in no real harm, yet adding considerable flavor to the effort.

     

    Of course, I find ketchup too pedestrian for my taste and prefer something with a little more bite - like hot sauce (cue Chris B).  So, if politics are ketchup, then I'll pass.  Too bland.  From my view, I think discussing politics is more like opening a bottle of hot sauce.  A little adds spice and flavor to an otherwise bland dish (e.g. eggs).  Too much and it can overwhelm the subtle flavor of the dish.  To the extreme, it can burn the palate and leave the whole experience best forgotten.

     

    By the way, are you going to eat that sausage?  I'm famished.


  11. "compairing Montgomery to Churchill is like compairing a cheerleader to a star quarterback."

    Brian, this is hitting the nail squarely on the head. Even The Churchill Centre's website lists his chief attributes as a leader as his ability to inspire people, his relentless passion, and his imperturbable personality. Churchill was clearly a man of the Finest Hour when Britain needed one most. The Centre also cites his "unique strategic insight" as a key attribute; although, the only example they can find seems to be his getting right the nature of the Soviet Union and Uncle Joe.

    Again, I am a fan of Churchill. For me, it's a toss up between him and Maggie Thatcher for the best British PM of the 20th Century. It might not be a stretch to compare Churchill to Ronald Reagan as US President. But I think it necessary to keep Winnie in perspective. The inter-war years are key I think. When one looks at a list of his accomplishments during this period - the word "failure" occurs more often than not. I also think some time spent on why he wasn't returned as PM in 1945 might reveal some interesting perspective. I hope you will touch upon this when you turn to Churchill as a war leader in the New Year.

    Oh, and yes, first and foremost a politician. I find it interesting to note he first entered Parliament in 1900 as a Conservative and then switched to the Liberal Party in 1904, returning to the Conservatives in 1924. In the post-war years, he was known to be a staunch support of Tory domestic policy, but advocated Labour's foreign policy. Some would say, he followed his conscious rather than the party line. Others might question his loyalty. Either way, following Churchill's motivations and miscues is a complex undertaking.

    PS: "compairing" must be in the same "correct English" dictionary as "harbour" because my colonial version has "comparing" along with "harbor." :whistle::P

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