Book Review: Invasion Syria 1941 – Churchill and de Gaulle’s Forgotten War
Review by Michael F. Dilley
Unlike in World War I when much is known and much has been written about the Middle East and Arab countries and the fighting therein, there is little available about fighting in this area during the early part of World War II. That campaign began on 8 June 1941 and ended with a cease fire 34 days later, on 12 July. Because of its length it seems almost like a backwater compared to later campaigns in the area and has been mostly neglected by military historians.
This should change with the publication of Henri de Wally’s latest book, Invasion Syria 1941. This book brings to light a new and very readable account of the events leading up to this campaign as well as those that led to an armistice and even events beyond the armistice. This is all possible because de Wally consulted a wide variety of sources, including memoirs of those involved and later court transcripts of some who were tried for various offenses. Mixed in with all these events is the extremely difficult positions French officers and units were put in because of their conflicting loyalties – to France, to the Vichy government, to Free France, to their own consciences, and to pragmatic survival decisions.
Book Review: Greece - The Decade of War
Review by Michael F. Dilley
The decade of the 1940s was a bloody, divisive period for Greece. During this time Greece faced an invasion by Italy, then an invasion by Germany, and, finally, a Communist-led civil war. These wars are the subject of David Brewer’s latest book, Greece, The Decade of War – Occupation, Resistance and Civil War. This is the third book Brewer has written about Greece. Following college (Oxford University), he held several positions before concentrating his time and efforts studying and writing about Greek history.
In order to understand what happened in the decade of the 1940s, it is necessary to learn, however briefly, the recent history of Greece. Brewer establishes this history and an understanding of its events in an expert manner, showing the lead-up to World War II.
Member Article: The U.S. Army Model 1913 Cavalry Saber
by Bob Seals
For some 159 years, United States Army used an edged sword, the saber, as the primary weapon for mounted troops. Whether called light horse, dragoon, or cavalry, the Army cavalry trooper on horseback carried a saber, with which to engage the various foes of our republic. The last issued Army saber in a long line, the model 1913 saber, became popularly known as "The Patton Saber," after then Second Lieutenant George S. Patton, Jr., who it is commonly believed was somehow responsible for the design and adoption of the new saber, during that very same year. Over the years, some authors, and historians, have questioned the veracity of conventional historical wisdom in naming the model 1913 saber "The Patton Saber," since, after all, how much influence could a lowly Second Lieutenant have had in the U.S. Army's procurement of a new weapon?
The purpose of this article is to introduce the reader to the U.S. Army model 1913 saber, and examine the facts surrounding the adoption of this last saber issued to Army troopers from before the First World War, until its subsequent withdraw as a modern weapon in the interwar year of 1934. A review of the historical record, and timeline, surrounding the saber, does indicate that Second Lieutenant George S. Patton, Jr. was indeed responsible for the Army's adoption of the saber, displaying those considerable powers of single mindedness, will, dedication, and zeal that made him such an effective maneuver combat general three decades later in North Africa and Europe. Patton's thinking, study, experimentation, and advocacy of this new edged weapon were indicative of his professional development as a military leader. This professional development was to ultimately lead the young, but talented officer, to recognize the value of the armored tank replacing a shiny saber as the weapon of choice for a modern mounted Army.
George Smith Patton, Jr. was born on the 11th of November 1885 on his family's prosperous cattle ranch near San Gabriel, California. His childhood out west was a rather idyllic one in Southern California with loving parents, a sister, dogs, horses to ride, fish to catch, birds and wild goats to hunt, and history to read. As a child, surrounded by mementos of his paternal grandfather's service with the 22nd Virginia Infantry, Patton had a fondness for toy swords. His father used a Civil War Confederate sword to play with young George "...kneel[ing] down and we would fight." Later, Patton's father bought him his first sword, "...A store in Los Angeles was having a sale of 1870 French Sword bayonets and I asked for one...later I attacked the cactus with it and got well stuck..."
Member Article: The Somme
by Del Kostka
The River Somme meanders through the picturesque French region of Picardy. Flowing past gently rolling hills and green country meadows, the river’s natural beauty belies a tragedy and horror that unfolded along its banks in the summer of 1916 when two great armies fought to the brink of annihilation over a landscape that neither considered strategically significant. Indeed, few places on earth have come to symbolize useless bloodshed and the futility of war more than the Somme.
The story of the Somme really begins in August of 1914 during the opening days of the First World War. Great Britain entered the war with an extremely small but highly efficient professional army of 250,000 troops. The army’s main role since the end of the Boer War was simply to police the British territorial empire, while Britain’s national security was vested in its large and powerful Royal Navy. Realizing the disparity in numbers between Britain’s land army and the massive, conscript-fueled German and French armies now squaring off on the continent, British Secretary of State for War Lord Kitchener issued an immediate call for volunteers to raise an additional 100,000 troops.
Book Review: In the Shadows of Victory: America’s Forgotten Military Leaders
Review by Michael F. Dilley
The typical military history book deals with a single operation or a single war. The biography of a military leader explores the subject’s life. A brand new military history combines aspects of both of these. It is In the Shadows of Victory. The author, Thomas D. Phillips, has taken a slightly different approach with his new book and does an excellent job.
First, he has chosen as his subjects some of the lesser known military leaders in American military history. Second, the scope of his book covers the major American wars from the Revolution to the Wars with the Plains Indians, including the Barbary Wars, the War of 1812, the Seminole Wars, the War with Mexico, and the Civil War. Many of the military leaders in the later wars are seen in junior roles in earlier wars.
Member Article: The First Class at RAF No. 31 Radio School: August to September, 1941
by Paul Renard
U.S. Navy Aircraft Radioman First Class (ARM1/c) William C. “Willie” Fuchs (1919- ) crossed the border into Canada on 12 August 1941 and rode the busy wartime rails across western Ontario to Goderich along Lake Huron with a group of fellow sailors who had just completed a radar course at the Naval Research Laboratory Radio Materiel School (NRL RMS). Leaving the grain freighters of the town’s small harbor and its train station behind, he climbed aboard a bus for the final thirteen miles of his journey along the twisting Maitland River through a flat landscape of remote farms and small woodlots. At the end of his trip was the newly opened Royal Air Force (RAF) No. 31 Radio School (RS) outside of Clinton—a top secret facility reflecting Great Britain’s determination to continue the struggle against the Axis regardless of the outcome of battles in Europe.
Part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Program (BCATP), No. 31 Radio School opened on 20 July 1941 and was ready to begin radar design and maintenance classes for an initial group of 133 U.S. Navy and Army personnel and a few RAF trainees on August 16. Clinton was chosen for its remoteness to preserve secrecy, and because of its rolling countryside and proximity to a large body of water—conditions similar to those of southeast Britain. Its remote location in an insular farming community had two advantages: a lack of distractions for the trainees, and the unlikeliness of encounters with Axis espionage agents. The first class session lasted just under a month, concluding on 13 September. U.S. students consisted of 25 naval officers, 72 Navy enlisted men, and 36 Army enlisted men.
Member Article: The Second Battle of Ypres
by James J. Warrick
By the morning of April 22, 1915, Private Percy Kingsley, assigned to the Canadian Expeditionary Forces 5th Battalion, 2nd Brigade had been living in the trenches along the salient at Ypres for seven days. A young man from Humboldt, Saskatchewan, Canada, he was part of the first nineteen men from his town to volunteer for service in Europe. He had not slept in days given the horrendous conditions in the trenches, often sleeping on “a grave containing a number of dead Germans”. The horror was only beginning and in a matter of hours, he would bear witness to a new type of warfare unlike any seen to date.
That afternoon, the Germans on the Western Front opened another series of artillery barrages along the Ypres salient. Instead of an infantry assault, what followed was a yellow-green cloud that drifted across the no-man’s land toward the Allies. The Second Battle of Ypres saw the first use of chemical weapons in war with its threat of use not taken seriously by the French and British nor was its employment taken advantage of by the Germans. This attack ushered in a new form of warfare in the 20th century and it would forever change the landscape of Europe.
Member Article: France's Forgotten D-Day: Operation Dragoon and the Invasion of Southern France
by Bruce Malone
The United States Seventh Army’s invasion of the southern coast of France on 15 August 1944 is one of the least celebrated Allied combat operations of the Second World War. In the end, Operation Dragoon (originally named Operation Anvil) proved to be one of the most important Allied campaigns, yet it remains one of the most controversial Allied strategic decisions. The American decision to launch Operation Dragoon against strenuous British objections changed the Anglo-American Allied relationship for the duration of the war, as the United States, long the leader in materiel production and numbers of soldiers, assumed the role of strategic senior partner. From start to finish and long afterwards, Allied leaders hotly debated the merits of this campaign and its results. Supporters of the invasion, mostly American, point out its vital assistance to the campaign in northern France, while its detractors, mostly British, find fault for its negative influence on the difficult fight in Italy. Often lost in these arguments are the actual results of this remarkable campaign.
Member Article: The Soviet Invasion of Manchuria and the Kwangtung Army
by Paul S. Teague
From the start of the twentieth century, the Japanese considered Russia, and later the Soviet Union as its potential primary adversary. Defeat in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905 temporarily removed the Russian threat and the Japanese proceeded to garrison Manchuria. Initially this garrison consisted of two Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) divisions; however by 1910 this was reduced to six reserve battalions. In 1916 these reserve battalions were replaced by IJA regulars and in 1919 the Kwangtung Army was established with astrength of 10,000 soldiers by the IJA Order Number Twelve.
Officers in the Kwangtung Army considered themselves the guardians of Japan’s frontiers, and they believed the War Ministry did not appreciate the danger to Manchuria that the Soviets posed. The Kwangtung Army moved quickly to consolidate and expand control of Manchuria, and they began political maneuvers to establish a puppet government. A group of Kwangtung Army officers led by Ishiwara Kanji judged that the moment was ripe for bold action.
Member Article: Battle of Buna-Gona
by Paul S. Teague
In the South Pacific the Japanese wanted to establish a perimeter which the
Allies would not be able to penetrate, this perimeter would also allow the
Japanese to interdict the lines of communications between the United States and
Australia, thus isolating Australia. In order to accomplish this, the Japanese
planned to capture Port Moresby, New Guinea and to use the facilities there for
ground based air support against the Americans and Australians. The Japanese
also planned to construct a sea plane facility at Tulagi, and to construct an
airfield on Guadalcanal. The Japanese intentions were to Take Port Moresby and
Tulagi in order to secure air mastery of the Coral Sea and its shores. It was
allied resistance to this that resulted in the Battle of the Coral Sea 4-8 May
1942. The Allies were successful at the Battle of the Coral Sea in that, although the
Japanese were successful in taking Tulagi on 3 May 1942 they were prevented from
landing at Port Moresby. Though the Japanese landing at Port Moresby was
thwarted, they still intended to take it. The entire purpose of the attempted
landing at Port Moresby was to provide the Japanese with facilities to protect
additional movements into Southern New Guinea and to launch raids on Australia
to weaken the Allies ability to move troops.
Member Article: Timothy Webster, Pinkerton Man and Spy
by Walter Giersbach
Few people admire a spy who lives by duplicity, subterfuge and lies, even if he or she is your ally. However, Timothy Webster was a man of honor serving an honorable cause. And he was the first Union spy hanged by the Confederates for it.
Webster was born into a large family in Newhaven, Sussex County, England in 1822. Foreshadowing the mass emigrations to come, the Websters moved to Princeton, N.J. in 1830. About ten years later, he moved again, to New York City, and in 1841, at the age of 19, he married 23-year-old Charlotte Sprowls. A year later their first child, a son, was born. They would have four children in all. 
While Webster had been trained as a machinist, the need to support a family led him to become a policeman. The Municipal Police Act, signed into law in 1845, set up a larger police organization that was the foundation for the modern New York Police Department.
Member Article: Cuban Missile Crisis - Khrushchev’s Last Bluff
by Edward J. Langer
On a routine U-2 reconnaissance flight over Cuba, to see what sort of mischief Fidel Castro was up to, the plane’s cameras caught images of the construction of missile launch pads for offensive missiles.
In October of 1962, the world held its breath as two nuclear superpowers squared off. Was this going to be the beginning of World War three and a nuclear nightmare? Did Khrushchev really have the nuclear capability that Tass claimed he had, or was it just a bluff? Fortunately, through many backdoor meetings, the issue was resolved without a missile being launched.
There have been many books, articles and narratives that have been written that describe the events and the backdoor negotiations that resolved the issue. What was at issue was that Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev feared that the United States had a commanding arsenal of nuclear tipped missiles aimed at the Soviet Union. To even the odds Khrushchev developed a plan to place Soviet offensive missiles and technical support soldiers in Cuba.
Member Article: Saint Augustine, Martin Luther and the Origins of World War One
by Edward J. Langer
On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Duchess Sophie were assassinated by Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo,
Bosnia-Herzegovina. Archduke Ferdinand was heir to the throne of
Austria-Hungary. Gavrilo Princip was a member of the Serbian terrorist
organization known as the Black Hand, a group who sought to separate
Bosnia-Herzegovina from the Austrian-Hungary Empire and join it with Serbia
(Servia). Austria reacted to the assassination by attempting to crush any and all Serbian nationalist movements. Serbia looked to Czar Nicholas II of Russia for protection. Austria-Hungary looked to Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany for support. During the month following the assassination there was intense diplomatic activity by all the great powers in Europe to resolve differences between Serbia and Austria-Hungary and to avert another European war. All of this activity came to no avail as war erupted on July 28, 1914 between Serbia and Austria-Hungary.
Member Article: 1127 Days of Death – a Korean War Chronology – Part 1, 1950
by Anthony J. Sobieski
The Korean War, forever known as the ‘Forgotten War’ by many, lasted a total of 1127 days, from June 25th 1950 through July 27th 1953. A total of 38 months. A little over three years in length, but encompassing four years on a calendar. With a beginning that was unlike any other beginning of a ‘war’ up until then, the term ‘Police Action’ became its moniker for many years, with some in the United States and other countries looking to call it anything other than what it really was. It was just too short a time after the end of World War II, with the sacrifices by many, the devastation of so much, burned into people’s memories all too readily. And during the war, who could have guessed there would be an ending that harkened back to the days of World War I, the war to end all wars. Trench warfare and bunkers, large amounts of artillery, and a set day and time to stop shooting. The Korean War was and is a difficult war to describe. Most of the weapons, equipment and tactics were WWII era. Yes, there were some new innovations to the art of killing another human being and to the survival from being killed. But they were far and few between. Personal body armor made its first appearance, and winter ‘Mickey Mouse’ boots, and of course Korea was the first truly jet-age war. Helicopters made their debut, performing search & rescue along with speedy transportation of the wounded. But other than those and a few more, the war was fought with WWII era rifles, artillery, ships (excluding the newer carriers), and at least in the very beginning of the war, fighters, bombers and tanks. Even some of the first men to serve in combat were WWII veterans, many of whom who had already given ‘a pound of flesh’ in the service to their country.
Book Review: Red Blood, Yellow Skin
Review by Angela Kent
This is a heart-gripping tale of a woman’s survival first in North Vietnam and then into South Vietnam. This riveting story grabs your attention straight from the introduction where she witnesses her father’s murder from the Viet Minh when she was only four years old. Then she is torn from her home to live with her abusive stepfather, a wealthy doctor in a new city. However, with the battles raging in North Vietnam the family soon lost everything and had to move to South Vietnam.
Member Article: Intelligence Gathering Directed by Admiral Sir Reginald Hall Leading to the Involvement of the United States in World War I
by Kevin Mulcahy
The events leading up to United States involvement in World War I were once closely guarded secrets. Since the end of the war, officials began publishing their memoirs, classified documents have been released, and researchers have uncovered information related to German intentions. It has been discovered that one piece of intercepted information may have provoked the United States to declare war against Germany. This information was obtained through the hard work, cunning, and sheer luck of a secret British intelligence operation known as Room 40.
Admiral Sir William Reginald Hall of the British Navy was instrumental in the operations of Room 40. It was in Room 40 that a top secret transmission sent from Germany via the United States to Mexico was decoded. It was also the tipping point that pushed the United States to enter World War I. This history changing document became known as the Zimmermann Telegram.
The Battle of Thatis River
by John Patrick Hewson
In the second half of the sixth century BC a large scale tribal movement took place north of the Black sea. This began when the Massagetai, the largest and most powerful of the tribes of north Central Asia, undertook an aggressive expansion into the steppes of Kazakhstan. During this process they either enslaved or integrated into their horde many of the nomadic horse tribes of central Asia. We know very little about the resulting confederation except that its success was due in part to the development of a new form of elite heavy cavalry known to the Greeks as Kataphraktoi, which became what we know as Cataphracts.
From Small Causes, Great Events - Part 4
by Larry Parker
Operation Cobra, the breakout from Normandy 24-27 July 1944, began with one of the most concentrated and intense carpet bombings in the history of modern warfare. 1500 B-17s and B-24s dropped 2000 tons of High Explosive and an even greater payload of fragmentation bombs on an area five miles wide by one mile deep. The heavies were augmented by 1000 medium bombers and fighter bombers. In just under three hours 2500 planes disgorged over 5000 tons of ordnance plus white phosphorus and a new agent called napalm, saturating the target zone with over 11,000 bombs per square mile. The Panzer Lehr division defending the area, already weakened by six weeks of fighting, was devastated. So great was the concussion that twenty-five ton tanks were flipped onto their turrets. The blast smashed radios and obliterated Headquarters sundering command and control. General Fritz Bayerlein, commanding the elite Panzer Lehr, estimated that seventy per cent of his men were dead, wounded or rendered senseless and incapable of resistance by the shock effect. Regrettably precision munitions were thirty years in the future. Cloud cover, flak, nerves and aim point miscalculations resulted in the fratricide of American forces waiting to begin the ground assault once the air armada had completed its mission. 136 men were killed, another 621 wounded, primarily from the 30th Infantry Division. Indeed the 30th suffered more casualties in three hours from the Army Air Force (AAF) than from the enemy on any day of the war.
A survivor of Operation Cobra wrote, “One’s life is held in balance by a little piece of metal smaller than a man’s finger.” Depending upon the vagaries of combat that “little piece of metal” might kill, wound, graze or miss completely. Should that “little piece of metal” kill the outcome seems inevitable; at that point we tend to disregard the fact that up until the moment of impact, the moment of finality, the preceding moments were infinitely variable, containing a multitude of possibilities. We forget how unpredictable the world looked mere seconds before the fragment struck. This is the trap of hind sight bias. To use another example, because the West dominated much of recent history we assume that dominance was inevitable. It was not. Western dominance was and remains a close run thing. Had the Persians won at Salamis, had Pilate pardoned Christ, had the Chinese harnessed steam power before the West, had any one of thousands of events turned out differently, what would the world look like today?
In Memoriam: Lt(jg) James A. Nist, USNR (1921-1945)
by Bryan J. Dickerson
Seventy years ago this month, Martin and Ethel Nist (my great grandparents) received a Western Union telegram with heartbreaking news. Their youngest son James, a Naval Aviator assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill (CV-17), was reported Missing in Action in the Pacific Theater. Due to need for wartime secrecy, there were few details.
Member Article: The Third Romano-Samnite War - Phase 1: 316 – 312 BC
by Gordon Davis
In 316 BC war broke out once again between Rome and the Samnite tribes of the central Apennines – the third such conflict between the Italian belligerents since their initial clash in 343 BC. This new conflagration was to become the longest period of sustained warfare between the two powers, eventually, during its course widening its scope of contestants to include the Sabellians of the Abruzzi and the cities of the Etruscan League. The initial five years of this new war, however, only concerned the forces of the Romans and the Samnites and it is this phase of the third war’s operations which is covered in this study. The next and final phase of this war (311 – 304 BC) will be analysed in a later document. During the fighting in these years Rome’s military endeavors gained in scope and scale, as it punched and counter-punched with its Samnite foe. The standard compliment of the army had by now very likely increased from two to four legions, as necessity demanded and as new manpower resources came online from the maturing sections of Rome’s expanding hegemony. The evolution of the manipular legion and its attendant battle tactics would have continued apace during these years, driven by the realities of fighting war against the rustic but martial mountain tribes of the central Apennines, although it is impossible to trace any details of this metamorphosis from the extant sources. The planting of new colonies once again makes an appearance, along with, significantly, the commencement of Rome’s first military road-building project. Against this growing Roman menace, the Samnites tribes waged war as best they could, against a foe which continued to grow stronger.
Book Review: Operation Paperclip: The Secret Intelligence Program that Brought Nazi Scientists to America
by Bruce Brager
This is a verse from a 1965 satirical song by the folk-singing The Mitchell Trio. The song writer was writing of denial, among elements of the German population, of Nazi sympathies during World War Two. I laughed at the time, though then I was not aware of the connection the polka had to this country.
Back in 1965 I had not heard of Operation Paperclip. The only Nazi scientist of whom I had heard, along with most American alive at the time, was Werner von Braun. Von Braun played a major role in the American space program during the Cold War and the race for moon. His saying was “I am for the stars.” Of course, in the words of Mort Saul, his V2 rockets just happened to hit London.
Operation Paperclip was the effort, in the years after World War Two, to bring German scientists to the United States to work for us – and deny their services to the Soviet Union. The operation got its names from paperclips used to mark files of promising individuals. The scientists had to offer something of value to the United States, yet not have gone overboard in war crimes and atrocities, nor be too high profile. Adolf Eichmann and Albert Speer would not have found a place in Operation Paperclip.
Member Article: The War Nurses That Came Before Barton
by James Hinton
The history of women in nursing and warfare is well known. Children throughout much of the English speaking world study the roles of Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton in most history classrooms, and a detailed study of their work is required in nearly every nursing program on both sides of the pond. These two women are held up as the ground breakers who brought women and nursing into the history of military medicine, and indeed, to the world as a whole.
However, the question is, did they really? In truth, the history of female nurses in warfare did not begin in the middle of the 19th century, but in fact goes back much further. Nightingale and Barton certainly deserve their places in the history books, but there are many other women who also deserve recognition as well.
Member Article: The Silent Service and the Turkey Shoot
by James Hinton
They called it the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot. American pilots flying from fifteen carriers met Japanese pilots from nine carriers and four islands in the waters just off of Saipan. The resulting battle was the greatest carrier battle of World War II.
At the end of the fighting Japan had lost 80% of its employed aircraft, three carriers, and two oilers, and had failed to achieve any of its objectives. The U.S. carrier pilots were lauded and toasted for their victory, and are credited for effectively ending the Japanese carrier threat. In the seventy years since the Battle of the Philippine Sea took place it has been known as the pinnacle moment for Navy Aviation.
The truth is far more complicated. While the Navy air arm did account for many of the relatively cheap Japanese planes from the carrier force, and their inexperienced, it wasn’t them that delt the harshest blows in the Marianas. Instead, it was the U.S. submarine fleet that did the lion’s share of destroying the virtually irreplaceable ships of the Japanese carrier fleet.
Member Article: Two if by Sea - Part III: The Militia Concept in History
by Steven Christopher Ippolito
The concept of militia -- a time-honored tradition of warfighting originating in the feudal period of Medieval Europe – would prove critical in the defense of colonists in the New World of America as well ((Frank, 2006; Lynn, 1996; Millet & Maslowski, 1984/1994; Morton, 1958; Shy, 1963). Militia formations – fighting units of citizen soldiers -- were conceived, initially, as a land warfare concept. Of critical importance, too, was the militia’s role in the defense of the homeland, long before the concept of homeland security would be articulated in the post-11 September 2001 (9/11) security environment (Gaddis, 2002). Equally significant, however, was the adaptation of the militia concept to the maritime dimension in the late 19th century, when New Yorkers were first privileged to serve as citizen-sailors, in a lawfully authorized Naval Militia (Haunss, 2004). Operating within the waterways of the Empire State, the deployment of the New York Naval Militia (NYNM) would prove interesting, not simply in the historical sense, but as a pragmatically-effective component of the State’s Defense Forces, particularly in the post-9/11 world of non-state actors and terrorism (Haunss, 2004; Ippolito, 2013; Kilcullen, 2004).
The two prior installments of this essay have sought to introduce the reader to the concept of a naval militia, but also to the successful realization of this concept by the New York State Naval Militia (NYNM), beginning in 1891. Accordingly, the purpose of this essay’s third installment is to explain some of the early history of the militia concept, in general, from Europe to America, and the adaptation of this land-based type of warfighting to the needs of homeland defense within the riverine environment of New York State. Since there is no more famous American militiaman than our first Commander-in-Chief, George Washington, some of the first President’s activities in the Virginia militia will also be discussed.
Member Article: Two if by Sea - Part II: The Nautical-Legal Context of Homeland Security
by Steven Christopher Ippolito
The Battle of Lake Champlain, a furious naval clash between British and American sea power, was fought over a three-day period, 11 October 1776 – 13 October 1776, on an otherwise peaceful New York lake. A non-linear test of wills, Champlain was a strategic pivot point in the early days of the American War for Independence (1775-1784). In outcome, Lake Champlain was a tactical defeat for the American militiamen who waged it. However, the verdict of military history is also clear that Champlain was not devoid of military value for the American side; in fact, it was also an authentically transformative
moment in the American militia experience. At Lake Champlain, the United States
military Americans successfully demonstrated that a purely land-based militia
could be re-conceptualized as an authentic naval militia. Beyond that, Champlain
was the “only successful fleet action of [October] 1776 fought by the Americans’
brown-water squadron” (Hagan, 1991, p. 6). The unique dimensions of the battle
would seem to require an inquiry into the transformative role of the American
militia, then and now. Moreover, echoes of the battle’s non-linear character,
and its significance for the concept of militia, can be observed today in the
institution of the modern New York State Naval Militia – a highly effective
organization in the vanguard of contemporary homeland security (Haunss, 2004).
Member Article: In Memoriam: LtCol Adrian Grant-Duff, C.B. (1869-1914)
by Bryan Dickerson
On 15 September 1914, the British Army lost one of its most capable and proficient commanders and an officer who had played a vital role in the formulation of Britain’s mobilization contingency planning for the Great War. This distinguished officer was Lieutenant Colonel Adrian Grant-Duff, commanding officer of 1st Battalion / Royal Highlanders (The Black Watch).
Adrian Grant-Duff was born 29 September 1869 in London, England. He was the son of the Right Honorable Sir Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant-Duff, P.C., G.C.S.I. and Anna Julia Webster Lady Grant-Duff, C.I.E. His father was a practioner of law, Member of the House of Commons, a government administrator and an author of numerous books. Adrian was one of the couple’s four sons and four daughters. Adrian was educated at Wellington College in the village of Crowthorne, Berkshire, England. He then attended the Royal Military College at Sandhurst.
Member Article: A Brief History of Al Asad Air Base, Iraq During Operation Desert Storm
by Bryan Dickerson
From early 2004 until late 2011, Al Asad Air Base was one of the most important air bases used by Coalition Forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom. For most of this time, this sprawling base located in the Al Anbar Province of western Iraq was operated by the U.S. Marine Corps to conduct aerial operations and support ground operations throughout the province. The history of this base, however, dates back to the mid-1980s. During Operation Desert Storm in 1991, Al Asad Air Base was subjected to numerous air attacks, sustaining massive damage. Al Asad’s role in Operation Desert Storm is thus the subject of this paper.
Al Asad Air Base is located in the central portion of Al Anbar Province, western Iraq, some 12 miles from the city of Baghdadi and the Euphrates River. Baghdad is 120 miles to the east; the Syrian border is about 110 miles to the north-west.
Book Review: Alvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne
by Bob Seals
SGT York’s compelling story is a familiar tale to laymen and military historians alike. Born in a small, two room log cabin near Pall Mall, Tennessee, in 1887, Alvin C. York was the third of eleven children born to poor parents who struggled in the hills. After the death of his father, from the effects of being kicked by a mule in 1911, Alvin was thrust into the role of head of the household for his widowed mother and younger siblings at home. The pressure of such responsibility affected the young man. York often sought escape shooting, fighting, gambling and drinking in the rough hewn bars and local moonshine plentiful in the mountains. A favorite game with his friends was called “last man standing,” with the winner being the last left standing after a challenging bout of conspicuous consumption. His life was a pointless, wayward existence until he re-discovered his parent’s devout, fundamentalist Christian faith, and developed a romantic interest in a young lady near the York farm. After a revival meeting Alvin was “…transformed from a drunkard, brawler, and malcontent to a leader in the church, a Sunday School teacher, a choir leader, and a respected man in the community.”
Member Article: Two if by Sea – The New York Naval Militia: Homeland Security’s Nautical Roots
by Steven Christopher Ippolito
The Battle of Lake Champlain, a furious naval clash between British and American sea power, was fought over a three-day period, 11 October 1776 – 13 October 1776, on an otherwise peaceful New York lake. A non-linear test of wills, Champlain was a strategic pivot point in the early days of the American War for Independence (1775-1784). In outcome, Lake Champlain was a tactical defeat for the American militiamen who waged it. However, the verdict of mili-tary history is also clear that Champlain was not devoid of military value for the American side; in fact, it was also an authentically transformative moment in the American militia experience.
At Lake Champlain, the United States military Americans successfully demonstrated that a purely land-based militia could be re-conceptualized as an authentic naval militia. Beyond that, Champlain was the “only successful fleet action of [October] 1776 fought by the Ameri-cans’ brown-water squadron” (Hagan, 1991, p. 6). The unique dimensions of the battle would seem to require an inquiry into the transformative role of the American militia, then and now. Moreover, echoes of the battle’s non-linear character, and its significance for the concept of militia, can be observed today in the institution of the modern New York State Naval Militia – a highly effective organization in the vanguard of contemporary homeland security (Haunss, 2004). An examination of these realities is, therefore, the immediate purpose in this the first of a series of essays on the New York Naval Militia, its history, and its modern application in securing the American homeland in the post-11 September 2001 (9/11) security environment (Hamre, 2000; Newmann, 2002)
Member Article: Alfred Thayer Mahan: Advocate for Seapower
by Larry Parker
In 1865 the United States Navy mustered 700 ships (many of them iron clad and steam powered), mounting 5,000 cannon (many of those rifled, shell guns of the latest design), crewed by 6,700 officers and 51,000 men. In just five years 92.6 per cent of the fleet had been sold, scrapped or laid up. Only 52 ships mounting 500 guns remained in active commission. These, with a few notable exceptions, were crewed largely by the dregs of the waterfront for, as promotion and advancement opportunities stagnated, officers and enlisted personnel left the service in droves taking with them hard won battle experience and years of training. In this environment the eighteen knot USS Wampanoag , first warship to employ super heated steam, was scrapped as congress mandated a return to sail in order to save money on coal. A post war, isolationist, defensive mentality exacerbated the rush to disarm. Costal fortifications were deemed less provocative and considerably less expensive than a credible blue water navy.
From Small Causes, Great Events - Part 3
by Larry Parker
If you study history long enough and in sufficient detail you begin to
understand the sweeping statements regarding vast movements presented in so many
textbooks, while appropriate to lay the foundation for more extensive study,
are, at best, simplified overviews, at worst, gross generalizations. As such
these texts are truly inadequate for they give the impression the outcomes of
great events such as the American Revolution or the Bolshevik Revolution were
inevitable. Nothing could be further from the truth. The great arcs of history
boil down to small moments of chance; significant decisions frequently turn on
trivial matters. In the case of the American Revolution most colonists
considered themselves to be Englishmen seeking to preserve their traditional
rights as Englishmen under the Magna Carta (1215), the Petition of Rights (1628)
and the Bill of Rights (1629). The majority wanted reform not revolution.
Initially, at least, there were very few ardent revolutionaries. Given a more
enlightened monarch and legitimate representation in Parliament we might have
avoided the whole bloody affair and speak proper English today.
Member Article: Behind the Iron Curtain and into the Special Forces: Rudi Horvath
by Bob Seals
Dr. Deborah S. Cornelius, a noted east-central European historian, has described the Kingdom of Hungary in World War II as being "caught in the cauldron." The nation faced a geographical dilemma between two implacable ideological opponents leading to widespread misery and destruction during the war. Unfortunately, after the fighting ended in May of 1945 Hungarians remained "caught in the cauldron," now, a postwar communist one. For some, remaining in a communist Hungary was not an option.
One young Hungarian, Rudi Horvath, inspired by the prospect of service in the Cold War United States Army, went to elaborate and highly dangerous lengths to escape from behind the Iron Curtain, embarking upon a dangerous and fascinating journey leading to service in the nascent Army Special Forces of 1952. As an original 10th Special Forces Group member, Horvath helped to establish that superb force of unconventional warriors prepared to conduct guerrilla warfare if the Cold War in Europe during the 1950's suddenly turned red hot.
American Airborne Units in World War II
by Michael F. Dilley
This short history will cover those combat military groups, squadrons, battalions,
regiments, divisions, and the one corps of U.S. airborne units in World War II.
It will not include Army Air Corps units (such as the Air Commandos) or Troop Carrier
units, or organizations that had American individuals in them who were airborne
qualified and even made operational jumps, such as Army and Marine Corps members
of the Office of Strategic Services (including those with Jedburgh teams and Operations
Groups), or the multi-service, multi-national Special Allied Airborne Reconnaissance
Force (which initially included women who had previously jumped into denied areas).
\ The first plan to use parachute forces by American units was developed during World
War I. On 17 October 1918, Brigadier General William P. (Billy) Mitchell, a later
proponent of strategic aerial bombing, conceived the idea of dropping an American
division by parachute from bomber aircraft into an area in the vicinity of Metz,
Germany. The details of the planning were developed by Major Lewis H. Brereton,
a member of Mitchell’s Air Service staff. Brereton would later serve as the commander
of the First Allied Airborne Army during World War II as a Lieutenant General. (The
First Allied Airborne Army consisted of the American XVIII Airborne Corps, which
included: the 17th Airborne Division, the 82nd Airborne Division, and the 101st
Airborne Division; and the British I Airborne Corps, which included: the 1st Airborne
Division and the 6th Airborne Division. Troop carrier units were also part of Brereton’s
Czechoslovak Exile Units of WWII
by Kai Isaksen
In 1938, the 1,500,000-strong Czechoslovak Army was among the largest in Europe, and fairly well-equipped with modern weapons, including locally produced tanks and aircraft.
On November 1st 1938, German troops entered the Sudetenland area of Czechoslovakia, occupying the entire region with almost no resistance from the Czech forces – only 3rd Battalion of the 8th Border Regiment briefly resisted advancing German troops before being ordered to lay down their weapons by the Czech High Command.
In rapid succession, the Sudetenland was formally ceded to Germany. As had been decided in Munich, a third of Slovakia was ceded to Hungary and Poland occupied the Zaolizie region. Slovakia declared independence under a fascist government, and Ruthenia (part of modern Ukraine) tried to do the same, but was promptly invaded and annexed by Hungary.
Member Article: The Battle of Pinkie Cleugh
by Kai Isaksen
As we enter 2014, the 700th-year anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn and the year of the referendum on Scottish independence from the United Kingdom, it may be appropriate to look back at other battles fought between the Scots and the English.
Throughout the centuries, the two nations have fought several epic battles – some well-known like Bannockburn, Flodden, and Cullodden – and others more obscure to the general public, but no less fascinating from a historical point of view.
One such forgotten battle was the Battle of Pinkie Cleugh, fought close to the town of Musselburgh, just east of Edinburgh, in 1547.
Many historians have argued that the outcome of the battle had no political consequences and that this may well be why the battle has been largely forgotten outside historical circles.
However, historians also tend to agree that the battle was indeed significant, in that it can be argued to be the first modern battle on British soil, a battle featuring the first real combined arms operations (as we define it through modern eyes), using infantry, cavalry and artillery, as well as naval bombardment, in a coordinated and mutually supportive way on the battlefield.
Member Article: The Fulda Gap
by Bill Wilson
Lariat Advance. This terse and odd phrase, typically delivered via telephone in the early hours of the morning, served over years of the Cold War as an unmistakable notice to U.S. soldiers in Germany that a unit alert had been declared and that henceforth every second counted until such time as the unit’s response to alert had been assessed, and hopefully found satisfactory. Soldiers who lived outside the unit’s base reported in, vehicles and personal equipment were made ready, and finally, the unit deployed to its designated alert location in the countryside.
For those NATO soldiers whose units were deployed in the vicinity of the Iron Curtain, these alerts were laden with additional tension because the nearby presence of the Soviet forces was palpable. As one responded to the alert and approached the Kaserne, thoughts inevitably assessed how “real” the alert might be. For the U.S. Army in Germany in general, and its V (Fifth) Corps in particular, the geographical focus of this concern was known as the Fulda Gap.
Although VII Corps in Bavaria had another terrain corridor, the Hof Gap, as its focus, when it came to anticipated operations in Europe, the U.S. Army firmly expected the first battle of the next war to be a major clash of armored forces in the Fulda Gap. “The Gap”, like the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas, came to represent an assignment of special responsibility for those U.S. soldiers destined for promotion to high rank. The standards for performance of duty in such assignments were uncompromising, and those who met the requirements were considered to have performed well in the closest thing to war during times of peace.
Published works on Second World War Orders of Battle for land forces
by Bill Wilson
The armies of the Second World War were typically large organizations the formation of which was made possible by the total war efforts of the combatant nations. Holding continuous front lines in Europe, particularly in the Soviet Union, demanded the mobilization of hundreds of divisions in addition to other elements by both sides. Orders of battle indicate which units were present in given battles and campaigns, as well as providing information useful for determining the assignments and subordination of particular units within the national military structure.
The published works addressing orders of battle vary widely in their degree of comprehensiveness. Some have been published postwar as official works while others are commercial publications. Besides the published works, there are also primary sources available in the archives of the combatant nations. An evaluation of these primary sources is not in the scope of this article. This article will evaluate selected published order of battle works for Germany, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, France, and the United States.