BB Archives Page Two
On the 24th of July 1944, the German forces around St Lo, in
Normandy, did not have a clue about the hell that was about to be
unleashed upon them. Their dispositions looked like this:
To the west of St Lo, you can see the area that the Americans chose to
breakout from the close hedgerow fighting that had so favoured the
Germans for the months of June and July 1944.
The Allies delivered a devastating aerial bombardment on the German
front lines in the area on 25 July 1944. The line did not immediately
give way. This was due to the American infantry not pushing quickly at
first. Who could blame them? They had just spent 2 months fighting in
the hedgerows and had learned to be cautious. Additionally, the
lingering shock of the bombardment, which also killed and wounded
several hundred Americans was still wearing off.
However, the American Commander on the ground, General J. Lawton
Collins, saw no need to delay and committed his exploitation forces on
the morning of the 26th. This was risky, because if the Germans had
managed to slow down the attack further, it would have meant an
American traffic jam right on the front lines. Luckily, they couldn't
and the Americans pushed right through and found the German line
disintegrating like it had not done for the Americans before in
Thus began the great race from the beachheads to the German frontier
that occurred over the next 2 months, including the liberation of Paris
and most of the rest of France.
I rode through the breakout zone recently and below is some video of
a wonderfully twisty ride I took from Gavray towards Avranches. This
area was liberated around 28-30 July.
Check out the Terre Liberte' route of Cobra- La Percee
(the Breakout). The video above is from this route and starts in Gavray
which is about half way in between Coutances and Avranches. Here's a Google map of the stretch of road on the video.
Technorati Tags: 1900s 1940s 1944 25 25th 26 26th 4th Armored Division Avranches Breakout Coutances FR-D-7 France Gavray George Patton J Lawton Collins July June Manche Normandy Normandy Operation Cobra St Lo World War 2 World War II WW2 WWII motorcycle touring motorcycles motorcycle-touring battlefields military history military-history
The Boston Globe reports on the search for 2 American pilots lost 64 years ago over Papua New Guinea.
The search is being conducted by the US Army and is staffed mainly
by Afghanistan and Iraq veterans. I can imagine how this team is
feeling. It might not be something you think about day to day, but once
a soldier got a mission like this between his/her teeth, they will
search high and low to find these 2 MIAs. I think this mission is an
example of one of the great strengths of the US Army... an
institutional memory that says "we will not forget you. It might take
us a while to develop the technology to find you, but we will not
Technorati Tags: 1940s 2008 Japan JPAC MIAs Papua New Guinea Veterans World War 2 World War II WW2 WWII motorcycle touring motorcycles motorcycle-touring battlefields military history military-history
In mid May, General William Tecumseh Sherman was picking his way
down North Georgia. His counterpart, General Joseph E. Johnston had
just reluctantly retreated from Cassville, Georgia to the Allatoona
Gorge in the hopes of luring Sherman into a tight killing zone.
Johnston's only worry was that the position at Allatoona was too good. Unbeknownst to Johnston, Sherman knew
the position was too strong to attack head on. Sherman had spent a lot
of time in the area as a young officer and had spent much time around
the Etowah Indian burial mounds nearby. Sherman decided to swing west
and go directly after the strategic crossroads around Dallas, Georgia.
After a few days rest, the Union forces moved south. General Joseph
Hooker was in th van of the middle column and began a pursuit of a
small band of Confederate cavalry which was acting as a screen for
Johnston's forces to the south. "Fighting Joe" Hooker lived up to his
name and went fast and hard at the Confederates under General John Bell
Hood. Hooker had hoped to catch the Rebels off guard and press home and
advantage. Hood had other ideas. Taking his cue from his cavalry
screen, Hood had begun entrenchments and selecting defensive positions.
The first of Hooker's assaults led by Brigadier General John W. Geary
was thrown back when it encountered an undetected enfilade Confederate
position which hit them hard. Hooker persisted with two more Divisions
and the battle was enjoined.
Hood's middle was held by Major General Alexander P Stewart's
Division and they bore the brunt of Hooker's onslaught for several
hours in the afternoon. The battle raged with such ferocity that
Johnston became worried that Stewart might relinquish the position.
Stewart, a Tennessean, held firm even though some of Hooker's men got
close. With a fierce thunderstorm brewing and setting in, Hooker made
one last throw of the dice and pulled Geary out of reserve through
dense wood to push through a perceived advantage. Stewart's artillery
which had been so effective now opened up with even more canister
rounds and caused the veteran Geary to claim that it was the hottest he
had experienced with his command. The Union forces were praised for the
courage and coolness, but the day was no to be theirs. With the
drenching from the rain and the gloom of the stormy evening setting in,
the Union forces settled down in their positions and awaited daylight.
The battle has been called New Hope Church, but the soldiers knew it by
The next day would bring probing for weakness all along the line,
two days later, the fighting would continue near Pickett's Mill.
Next time you are buzzing down I-75 from Chattanooga to Atlanta,
jump off at Cartersville for a great little circular ride that takes in
Allatoona Lake, The New Hope and Pickett's Mill Battlefields and a
couple of mountainous switchback roads near Dallas, Georgia.
View Larger Map
Sources and Book Recommendations
Technorati Tags: 1800s 1860s 25 25th Allatoona American Civil War Dallas Georga Georgia Hood Hooker I-75 Johnston May 1864 Sherman USA motorcycle touring motorcycles motorcycle-touring battlefields military history military-history
Here's a good article on why Americans don't cherish the memories and soldiers of World War I as much as they do with WWII, the Civil War, etc.
No conclusions really, but it has set me to thinking. I, too, haven't
spent as much time visiting WWI sites and battlefields. (in fact, I
have done hardly anything on the American participation)
I think it is high time I broke this mold and started doing more WWI
work here. Yes, the Civil War, WWII and, to a lesser extent, the Indian
Wars are what bring in traffic, but I think it is time we Americans
remember more about our WWI past.
Stay tuned for more WWI rides and comments.
I haven't often written about my own military experience on this
site, but the next version of the Military History Carnival gives me
good reason to do so. MHC edition 14 is about contested boundaries, so
I thought I would brush off the memories and write a post about my time
on the old east/west German/Czech border during the Cold War.
Fittingly, 14 May is the anniversary of the signing of the Warsaw pact
I got posted to Germany in June of 1988 with the Second Armored
Cavalry Regiment (2ACR) and the border was the reason I had requested
the posting. It was one of only a few places in the Army at that time
that had a real readiness rating to keep things fixed and running as if
the balloon might go up at any time (Korea being the other main one).
2ACR had a long lineage of distinguished service going back to the
Seminole Indian Wars in 1836 and they had retained that strong history
after World War II by assuming the front line against the Russians and
the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War. A lot more of 2ACR's history can
be found here. http://www.2scr.army.mil/#history
When discussing my border service, it is important to point out that I am speaking of the frontier
border of West Germany and not the border in Berlin. Everyone assumes
you mean Berlin when you speak of the Cold War border, but the frontier
border was the long border between NATO member, the Federal Republic of
Germany (FRG or West Germany), and the Warsaw Pact members of
Czechoslakia and the German Democratic Republic (DDR or East Germany).
Even more specifically, the 2ACR was responsible for the Bavarian (FRG
state) border from Austria to a point near Bad Konigshofen, west of
Coburg, FRG. In Germany (east and west), the border followed the
historical borders of Bavaria with Saxony and Thuringia. The border
with the then Czechoslavakia (modern day Czech Republic), Bavaria
bordered the Karlovy Vary, Plzen and South Bohemia regions. The 11th
ACR had the next, northern, stretch of the Thuringia border with
Bavaria and Hesse until it met the British sector in the far North.
The reason this area was so important to NATO in the Cold war was
that the Fulda Gap in 11ACR sector and, to a lesser degree, the
Meiningen and Hof Gaps in the 2ACR sector provided the most likely
avenues of approach for a Soviet thrust into West Germany. NATO
believed it could win a drawn out conventional war, but feared a deep
Soviet thrust into the FRG that would so rattle the NATO allies that it
could not be overcome. Therefore, the thin line of hyper-alert cavalry
regiments along the most likely avenues of approach seemed to provide
the best chance of detecting potential Soviet movements and moving
quickly enough to stem the tide. Those of us who manned this border
often, only half-jokingly, referred to ourselves as the world's most
effective speed bumps.
The Physical Border and Its Make-Up
The border when I was there had quietened down from its worst times
of the 1940s through the 1970s. Events such as the Berlin airlift, the
1st Russian nuclear weapon, the space race, the Berlin Wall and Vietnam
kept NATO and the Warsaw Pact faced off at high alert. However, there
were still sectors of heavily mined fence zones until the early 80s.
Particularly gruesome were the automatically triggered "shotgun" mines
that were placed at different heights on the fence and had a 25 meter
blast radius. Even until the end of 1989, the fences and walls were
formidable obstacles to civilians trying to escape. And, if there was
any doubt what the border was designed for, one need only look at who built the fences and what they were designed to do.
US Cavalry Patrols
We had variable schedules and tiered configurations for patrolling
the border in the 2ACR sector. At any given time, a Troop (company)
from each of the 3 ground Squadrons (battalions) would occupy a border
camp(s) in their assigned portion along the whole Regiment's sector.
Each camp had a camp duty officer (usually one of the Troops platoon
leaders) who was responsible for all operations in that camp's area of
operations. Each camp would be on 3 levels of readiness. 1st, several
patrols a day, usually led by Sergeants, would keep up a presence on
the border. 2nd, a reaction force would be ready to roll extra patrols
or the whole reaction platoon and its armored vehicles to a border
section within 15 minutes. 3rd, the whole troop could muster and be
ready to move within an hour.
During my time there, it was not common to have major issues on the
border, but each patrol would normally spot our opposite number on the
ground on the other side of the border. Of course, the towers were
usually manned. We sometimes saw Russians, but normally we saw East
The patrols were conducted in HMMWVs (Hummers) or Mercedes 300 series
SUVs normally, but also on foot inserted by trucks or helicopters. In
the winter, it was not unheard of to patrol on nordic skis.
Additionally, the 2ACR's 4th Squadron of helicopters, kept up a routine
of over-flights along the border.
High Tension Events
Very occasionally, we would have an event that would warrant a
heightened state of alert. Some of these would be a Soviet aircraft
tracking or pacing a Regimental aircraft which was considered
aggressive. Other issues, would be observed alerts on the other side of
the border or the most anticipated of all events, an International
Border Crossing (IBC). About once a quarter, some east German would
make it across the heavily fortified area and make it to freedom. These
were normally co-ordianted through family members in West Germany and
the FRG agencies (Zoll, Grenze Polizei or Bundesgrenzshutz (BGS)). The
Regiment never caught an IBC whilst I was there, but there were always
stories of some old Sergeant somewhere who had helped an IBC across the
border back in the 60s or 70s.
We won! Eventually. Which is the only good news. I was on the
border, the day it fell. That afternoon, I went out to the road
crossing to see the spectacle. There were miles of Trabants lining up
to enter West Germany. In the years following the fall of the eastern
bloc, I've had occasion to speak to East Germans, but mostly Czechs and
Poles. They had a very hard life during the time I was enjoying all of
the western treats a kid from Kentucky gets in the 60s, 70s and 80s. I
wish we had won a lot earlier. I have now also travelled extensively
through Poland, East Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia and the Baltic
states. They are still recovering a sense of self and creating lives
that they can be happy with. If you are ever tempted to say they had it
better in some areas than we in the West did, I suggest you go and talk
to a few more of them.... you're sample size may be limited.
I am very proud of my service on the border and I hope we continue to
look back on it with pride for many generations. Take the ride below
and get a feel for the place before time swallows up the last vestiges
of what it was like.
Check out this 240 kilometer ride
which simulates pretty closely one of the 2ACR's mounted patrols in the
Hof sector in 1988. The ride in the Frankenwald Park is particularly
nice for bikers. There are so many places to stop, I can't even begin
to mention them. Just go and enjoy!
View Larger Map
Book and Map Recommendation
World Rider is in Nairobi
now. I've been following Allan Karl's adventures for a couple of years
now and he mixes good writing with great photography. All I can say is
5 words.... "I want to do that!"
There's a new carnival in town. It's a carnival about motorcycles over at Raven's Rides. Check it out at;
The battlefields of KwaZulu Natal is a ride I can't wait to do. Here is a little article about the amenities around the area.
Finally, here is a list of the sub routes of the self ride/drive tours.
Technorati Tags: 11 11th 1800s 1870s 1879 1900 22 22nd 23 23rd 24 24th American Civil War Isandlwanda January Ladysmith Rorke's Drift South Africa Spionkop Zulu motorcycle touring motorcycles motorcycle-touring battlefields military history military-history
A good article in US News and World Report
about the much discussed issue (in military history circles, at least)
of the future, or lack thereof, of military history in the academy.
I agree with Citino at the end of the story .... military history
will be written or told and it will be lapped up with great enthusiasm.
The only question is whether academia will get a say or not.... and
that is up to the academy itsdamnself.
Shawnee Chief Tecumseh Delivers War Speech to Creek Indians at Tuckabatchee, Alabama in October 1811
Prior to the War of 1812, the British and the Spaniards had been
forging alliances with Indians on the American frontier to try to slow
American expansionism, and therefore power. One significant Indian
Chief, the Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, used this time and support to try to
build an Indian Confederacy along the western edge of the American
frontier. Tecumseh's Shawnees were based predominantly in current day
Indiana, Illinois and western Kentucky, but were historically linked to
the Creek people of current day Alabama and Georgia. Tecumseh travelled
to Alabama to rally the Creeks to war against the whites in the region.
Below is Tecumseh's speech to the Creeks at Tuckabathcee in October 1811 as told by Sam Dale to JFK Claiborne;
"In defiance of the white warriors of Ohio and Kentucky, I have
traveled through their settlements, once our favorite hunting grounds.
No war-whoop was sounded, but there is blood on our knives. The
Pale-faces felt the blow, but knew not whence it came.
Accursed be the race that has seized on our country and made women
of our warriors. Our fathers, from their tombs, reproach us as slaves
and cowards. I hear them now in the wailing winds.
The Muscogee was once a mighty people. The Georgians trembled at
your war-whoop, and the maidens of my tribe, on the distant lakes, sung
the prowess of your warriors and sighed for their embraces.
Now your very blood is white; your tomahawks have no edge; your bows and arrows were buried with your fathers. Oh !
Muscogees, brethren of my mother, brush from your eyelids the sleep
of slavery; once more strike for vengeance; once more for your country.
The spirits of the mighty dead complain. Their tears drop from the
weeping skies. Let the white race perish.
They seize your land; they corrupt your women; they trample on the ashes of your dead!
Back, whence they came, upon a trail of blood, they must be driven.
Back! back, ay, into the great water whose accursed waves brought them to our shores !
Burn their dwellings! Destroy their stock! Slay their wives and
children! The Red Man owns the country, and the Pale-faces must never
War now! War forever! War upon the living! War upon the dead! Dig
their very corpses from the grave. Our country must give no rest to a
white man's bones.
This is the will of the Great Spirit, revealed to my brother, his familiar, the Prophet of the Lakes. He sends me to you.
All the tribes of the north are dancing the war-dance. Two mighty warriors across the seas will send us arms.
Tecumseh will soon return to his country. My prophets shall tarry
with you. They will stand between you and the bullets of your enemies.
When the white men approach you the yawning earth shall swallow them
u Soon shall you see my arm of fire stretched athwart the sky. I
will stamp my foot at Tippecanoe, and the very earth shall shake.'"*
* At the battle of the Holy Ground, which occurred some time after,
the prophets left by Tecumseh predicted that the earth would yawn and
swallow up General Claiborne and his troops. Tecumseh refers to the
Kings of England and Spain, who supplied the Indians with arms at
Detroit and at Pensacola. The British officers had informed him that a
comet would soon appear [ed. The Great Comet of 1811], and the earthquakes of 1811[ed. the New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812]
had commenced as he came through Kentucky. Like a consummate orator, he
refers to them in his speech. When the comet soon after appeared, and
the earth began to tremble, they attributed to him supernatural powers,
and immediately took up arms.
Source, pages 59-61
Life and times of Gen. Sam Dale, the Mississippi partisan (1860)
Author: Claiborne, J. F. H. (John Francis Hamtramck), 1809-1884
Unbeknownst to Tecumseh, his brother, Tenskwatawa or "The Prophet," was busy picking a fight with William Henry Harrison at Tippecanoe,
Indiana shortly thereafter which would severely hamper his plans for an
Indian Confederacy on the western borders to stop the ever expanding
This ride starts at exit 26 on I-85 to the east of Montgomery,
Alabama. In between exit 26 and Tallassee, Alabama, on the banks of the
Tallapoosa River, is the historic meeting place of the Creeks called
Tuckabatchie where Tecumseh gave his speech to the Creeks. The ride
continues through Lake Martin and down the beautiful Highway 9 to
Wetumpka. This area is part of the traditional homeland of the Creeks.
View Larger Map
Technorati Tags: 1800s 1810s 1811 AL-SR-14 AL-SR-22 AL-SR-229 AL-SR-63 AL-SR-9 Alabama Big Warrior Bill Milfort Creek Indians Creek War October Red sticks Sam Dale Tallassee Tecumseh US-I-85 War of 1812 Wetumpka White Sticks motorcycle touring motorcycles motorcycle-touring battlefields military history military-history
The Washington Post has a good obituary of Vice Admiral Ron Dick. Dick was a retired RAF officer that moved to the US and became a renowned military historian as well.
There are things that you read sometimes that make you realize that some people are better than you. Jacob DeShazer was one of those people.
A Corporal in the US Army Air Force who was captured by the Japanese
in occupied China as part of the Doolittle Raid in 1942, DeShazer was
very badly treated by the Japanese. However, he survived the war and
returned to Japan after the war as a missionary and stayed ..... for 30
I seriously doubt whether I could have forgiven my captors to the
extent he did. As the article says, there is little doubt that this
good man is resting in peace.
I noticed an article in The Independent (UK)
about the lesser known Australian contribution to the Somme battles
near the end of the First World War. It's the 90th anniversary and it
seems that there will be a special commemoration in the week leading up to the 25th of April at Viller-Bretonneux.
I may be dusting down the big cat for the first big ride of the year.
Technorati Tags: 1900s 1910s 1918 22 22nd 23 23rd 24 24th ANZAC Australian March World War 1 World War I WW1 WWI motorcycle touring motorcycles motorcycle-touring battlefields military history military-history
Good article from Schenectady on Manhattan's lower east side's own National Guard unit, the Fighting 69th.
The Civil, Spanish-American, Pancho Villa, WWI, and WWII all saw the
69th in action. One of America's most decorated units and part of the
great "Born Fighting" bunch of Irish Americans.
Technorati Tags: Fighting 69th Irish American US Civil War World War 1 World War 2 World War I World War II WW1 WW2 WWI WWII motorcycle touring motorcycles motorcycle-touring battlefields military history military-history
I finally got to ride the new BMW F 800 GS and what a bike! BMW have
done themselves very proud. This bike is all it has been cracked up to
be. It was certainly worth the wait, even if it is a little too late
for me personally... I'll explain that later.
I rode a Sunset Yellow/Black schemed bike with BattleWing tyres,
ABS, heated grips, on-board computer, full BMW expandable panniers and
top box. The bike I rode has the lowered seat which I wish was the
higher one, but it didn't cause me too many problems with leg bend (I'm
6'3" with bad knees). I would definitely get the higher seat if I was
buying, but the down side is that I think that would cause more wind
I picked up the bike from Bahnstormer today in the middle of a fierce storm we're having here in the south of England. It was raining hard with severe wind gusts. I rode my 2001 BMW F 650 GS
along the hedge row protected back roads down to Bahnstormer to avoid
most of the wind. However, when I road the F 800 GS, I took it out in
the open more (A32, A272, A31) and it was a sturdy feeling bike and I
didn't get blown around as much, even with the panniers and top box
providing a bigger target.
The bike sounds quite tame when you first fire it up and idle it,
but that soon gives way to a nice little growl when the tyres snatch
some asphalt. The first bit of the ride along the A31 told me it was a
BMW. It has a nice, tight build to it. Nothing rattles or feels loose.
Very firm, but also a little "flickable," like the 2006 KTM 950 Adventure
that I ride most days. I was also a little skeptical that the F 800 GS
would be as much fun as the KTM, but it is for a rider like me. What I
mean by that is that I cannot wring as much out of the KTM as a pro
can, so the F 800 GS is about the same as the KTM 950 Adventure for me
in the "kick up the backside" acceleration stakes. It is all I need for
sure. The curves of the A272 then showed me that the BMW is also as
comfortable at cornering as the KTM. In comparison to my old F 650 GS,
there is no comparison. The F 800 GS is in a whole other league. More
on that league status later.
I turned up a couple of farm tracks near the fields where the Battle of Cheriton occurred on 29 March 1644.
This isn't real off-roading or even real green-laning, but I couldn't
really trash out a test ride bike, could I? Below is a picture of the
bike near the point where Sir Henry Bard made his fatal mistake.
I have ridden this area many times on my 650 and KTM, so I know the
area and roads well. The F 800 GS is as sure footed as anything I have
ridden, even with the stock BattleWings. The mucky farm tracks and
debris strewn forest track I rode ( Badshear, Scrubbs and North End
Farm Lanes ) gives a good feel for the bike's capabilities. It is
supremely balanced and the under seat tank keeps it from feeling tippy
as the beefy KTM is wont to feel in far less strenuous situations.
Again, this is definitely not off-roading, but it is a good indicator
of the most strenuous work that many of these bikes will ever see. It
is also fairly typical of the type of battlefield touring that I do.
Back out on the A31, I was able to open the bike up a little and I
can say that it certainly rivals the KTM for quickness. I'm not a real
hair on fire rider, but I would hazard a guess that it could outrun all
but the best sport bikes with a good rider on it. It is really good
fun. There is quite a bit of chest level wind buffeting, but it is
manageable. I think one would need to consider the heightened screen
for extended touring.
To wrap it up, I think the BMW F 800 GS is a superb bike. I'd rate
it 6 stars on a 5 star scale. It is a step and half up from the old F
650 GS and is only a quarter step down from the R 1200 GS in its "GS
factor." However, this may be the only rub I can find with is wonderful
bike. Will R 1200 GS owners trade down to get a F 800 GS? I kind of
doubt it. The 1100/1150/1200 bunch is a world to itself. Will the old F
650 GS crowd buy it over the NEW F 650 GS (with an 800 engine)? Not
sure. I think this bike will largely attract new BMW riders ( which may
be what they are trying to do ), but not so many of the existing ones.
I think this bike is a real competitor to the KTM 950 Adventure and to
the riders who just could not bring themselves to buy a boxer engine. I
think this bike will set BMW up well for the future, but I'm not sure
it will be a huge seller right away.
So will a 2001 BMW F 650 GS, a 2006 KTM 950 Adventure and a
(USA-based )2003 Triumph Tiger owning rider ( i.e. me, aka the
Battlefield Biker ) buy this bike? Probably not. Why? I waited for
several years on the rumor that BMW was going to bring out a
conventional 2 cylinder GS, before I bought the KTM last year. They
just waited too long for me. I need to get some more value out of that
bike, before I can justify buying a new bike. It is a great bike, and
yes, it is better than the KTM to me, but it is not so much better to
justify a £3,500 differential. Yes, I know, it is supposed to be great
value, but once you get the extras on, it is is not far off the price
of a new KTM 990 Adventure with the extra kit on offer as it is so
often is these days. I'll enjoy the KTM for another year or two and
pick up a used F 800 GS then. It's a shame, but it is life in the real
world. Hope BMW factored that into their sales projections!
I love the F 800 GS. I think it will bring in a whole new class of
GS riders and will solidify BMW's hold on this market. However, the
Battlefield Biker will be seeing Europe on a KTM and the US on a Tiger
for the next year or two. Below, may be the only picture you see of the
Battlefield Biker with a BMW F 800 GS anytime soon.
Technorati Tags: 1600s 1640s 1644 29 29th A272 A31 A32 Alton Farringdon B3046 B3047 Badshear Lane BMW F800 GS English Civil War F 650 GS F 800 GS F650 GS F650GS F800 GS KTM 950 Adventure March North End Farm Scrubbs Lane West Me motorcycle touring motorcycles motorcycle-touring battlefields military history military-history F 800 GS
Here's a short article on the photographer, Al Bullocks,
who captured the Japanese attack on the USS Franklin and its aftermath
on film. The photos have been given a new platform with the publication
of The Inferno a book by Joseph Springer.
Technorati Tags: 1940s 1945 Al Bullocks Joseph Springer USS Franklin World War 2 World War II WW2 WWII motorcycle touring motorcycles motorcycle-touring battlefields military history military-history
Here's a good summary by Spencer Ackerman of the intellectual fight amongst US Army officers
over Counter Insurgency. The argument is remarkable for 2 reasons.
First, an Army that can be at such odds over the very nature of its
purpose and still remain VERY capable is a source of pride to me.
Second, the argument over Generals ( as a class of performers ) and
their performance is long overdue. When was the last time we "fired" a
The United States last surviving World War I veteran has been honored by the Pentagon and President Bush.
My father also joined the Army under age in 1944. When his older
brother entered the service, the Army found out that they had two men
with the same (unusual) name and kicked my Dad out. He re-entered the
service a few months later when he was old enough.
I offer a tight salute to the men who have seen it all and are still around to remind us of good lives lived.
I rode over to Bahnstormer
in the rain today to see their launch event of the F 800 GS and the new
F 650 GS. Any other motorcycle launch party might have been bust with
the rain, but not in Britain and not with a bunch of Gelände/Straße
heads keen on seeing the new F 800 GS. That's what I like about British
and GS bikers.... rain, muddy roads, farm tracks, green lanes ... no
The Fayetteville Observer has a good article on the swamps of Robeson County, North Carolina (County seat, Lumberton. Its reminder that "Sherman's March to the Sea" was not easy on Sherman's troops, either.
Technorati Tags: 1600s 1700s 1800s American Civil War American Revolution American Revolutionary War deserters Indian Wars Before American Revolution Loyalists Lumbee Patriots Swamp Thomas Robeson Tuscarora US Civil War William Tecumseh Sherman
Welcome to the 11th edition of the Military History Carnival with the
Battlefield Biker. This month we're looking at the people, weapons and
places of war, so saddle up, fire up and let's ride.
First, we'll take a look at the weapons of war.
- Hugh Knight
Lafayette C. Curtispresents Pollaxe Configurations posted at The School of Battle
where he explores the difference between hammerin' and spikin' versus
hammerin' and slicin' your opponents in the Middle Ages.(ed.
correction, Curtis submitted, Knight wrote. Sorry!)
- Moving on, we find Wapenshaw has his final installment on the longbow.
- Airminded is exploring the use of aircraft in the inter-war years in Southcentral Asia, namely the Hawker Hart and Hind in The Afghan Air Menace.
- British armour and its uses and mis-uses are the topic at Thoughts on Military History.
- We see the M-47 Dragon anti-tank guided missile over at Lightning Smokestacks. I've seen the Dragon fired and have to agree that the life expectancy of the gunner would have been short.
- Historic Battlefields is looking at the decisive importance of discipline and morale as weapons of war.
- And let's not forget the most important weapon in conducting war, money. Titus presents Septimius Severus Legionary Type: Legio IIII Flavia and talks about what happens when the soldiers get paid, but no one else does.
Next, let's look at the places of war.
- Ross Mahoney looks at the importance of Dieppe in his Outline of Operation JUBILEE posted at Thoughts on Military History.
- Martin Waligorski presents The uncertain future of Bentley Priory posted at Spitfire Site News,
saying, "A piece of history disappearing... the mansion which housed
Fighter Command HQ during the Battle of Britain, including Dowding's
own cabinet, is possibly to be lost to future generations... converted
to luxury flats."
- Nikolaos Markoulakis presents the Spartan city-states way of war with The Boeotian Army.
- Andy Young tells us of the little known activities of Georgy Zhukov and the Russian Siberian troops before the Nazis invaded Russia in Khalkhin-Gol: The forgotten battle that shaped WW2.
- Ranger Hoptak gives us some wonderful winter photos of Gettysburg over at his 48th Pennsylvania blog.
- Plugstreet is in Belgium and is contemplating the emotion of archaeology.
- Normandy has always been one of my favourite places to ride, so I submit this D-Day beaches ride video to you as my contribution to the places category.
Finally, we focus on the most important part of war, the people.
- Cardinal Wolsey submits Letters from Commanding Officers, 1918 posted at The War Memoirs of Edward Dennis Deane,
saying, "The memoirs of a soldier in both world wars as transcribed by
his granddaughter, with interesting photos including the British in
- Adam Thompson presents Lloyd W. Williams: USMC Hero who became revered in USMC history for declaring, "Retreat? Hell, we just got here."
- Sophia Levis examines George B. McClellan's reputation at Military History. Well, sort of. posted at The Return to History.
- Alan Baumler examines the effect of the German military on the Chinese military in Germans and China posted at Frog in a Well.
- Jon Swift presents How Bobby Fischer Won the Cold War (slow loading, give it a second) posted at Jon Swift., saying, "It wasn't Ronald Reagan who won the Cold War; it was Bobby Fischer, who died today in Iceland at 64."
- Executed Today examines the life and untimely death of Mussolini's son-in-law, Galeazzo Ciano on January 11th, 1944.
- Venetia Bridges of Osprey Publishing is discussing their upcoming book about SAS Heroes.
- And finally, my favourite posting came from Penny Richards who presents a picture of the disabled Indian War soldier, Corporal Edward Scott ,
saying, "We're pointing readers to a great stash of archival photos,
many from military history, including the one we feature, a Buffalo
Soldier wounded in battle in 1886 in Mexico, while chasing after
Geronimo." Penny's posting got me interested in Corporal Scott, so I
did a little research and posted the next post on Scott myself.
- The 9th Cavalry was my first unit, so I have always had a fondness
for the history of the Buffalo Soldiers of the USA Indian Wars. Here is
my post on Corporal Edward Scott Severely Wounded in Pinito Mountains / Battle of Sierra Pinto.
That's it for this month. I hope you enjoyed the tour of the people,
places and weapons of war. The 12th Military History Carnival will be
hosted by Ross Mahoney on Thursday, 20th of March 2008 at Thoughts On Military History.
E-mail submissions to $mahoneyross$@$hotmail.com$ (without the "$" signs) or simply use the Military History Carnival submission form at Blog Carnival.
Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.
After the Apache leader Geronimo's escape in April 1886, rumors of
his whereabouts floated around, but soon his band of Apaches raided the
Peck family ranch in the Santa Cruz Valley in modern day Arizona,
killing Mrs Peck and a child. The Apaches took Mr Peck and another
Company K of the 10th Cavalry (one of the famed Buffalo Soldier
units, the other famous one being the 9th Cavalry), led by Captain
Thomas Lebo, followed in hot pursuit for 200 miles through the Sonoran
desert. When the troopers found him, Geronimo took his band up into the
rocky heights of the Pinito mountains. A fire-fight ensued where 2
Apaches were killed and 1 wounded. Private Hollis of the 10th was
killed and Corporal Edward Scott was critically wounded in the legs. Lieutenant Powhatan Clarke
braved the hail of bullets and pulled Corporal Scott to safety.
Geronimo escaped again, but was continually harried by the 10th and
then the 4th Cavalry who re-engaged in the same area on 15 May 1886.
Clarke was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions. Clarke
later wrote to his mother about the actions and said this of Corporal
Scott "The wounded Corporal [Scott] has had to have his leg cut off,
the ball that shattered it lodging in the other instep. This man rode
seven miles without a groan, remarking to the Captin that he had seen
forty men in one fight in a worse fix than he was. Such have I found
the colored soldier."
Check out the sculpture of the 10th Cavalry Sergeant in "Pinito Pass" by artist Dave Venell
View Larger Map
Technorati Tags: 1800s 18186 1880s 3 3rd AZ-SR-80 AZ-SR-82 Captain Thomas C. Lebo Corporal Edward Scott I-19 Interstate-19 Lieutenant Powhatan Clarke May Medal of Honor USA Indian Wars of the West motorcycle tyres motorcycle tires green lanes on off road motorcycle touring battlefields Apache Arizona
The good folks over at MCN do some great videos and this one is a
perfect summation of the age old question for big dualie fans... BMW or
KTM? With Adam Child & Angus Faquhar. Well done, Gentlemen, and why
didn't I get an invite?
This one is about the KTM 990 Adventure, but I turned that bike down
in favour of a year-old KTM 950 Adventure, because it was just a little
less beastly to handle in traffic which I need to do regularly. I'm not
sure if they have changed it, but the fuel-injected 990 that I test
rode last year was jerky to point of being dangerous to someone of my
skills. I know it is a great bike in the hands of experienced off-road
riders, but I found it almost getting away from me each time I hit a
pothole or speed bump. I liked everything else about the bike, so I
opted for the carb'ed 950 Adventure and have loved it.
Technorati Tags: Adam Child Angus Faquhar BMW R1200 GS Cairngorms KTM 950 Adventure KTM 990 Adventure none Scotland motorcycle motorcycle-touring motorcycle touring military history military-history battlefields film video
In mid January 1944, the slow, hard slog up the Italian peninsula
was into its fourth month already and the Allies were looking for
innovative ways to break the formidable German defenses. With the plan
for an amphibious operation at Anzio, US Fifth Army Commander Mark
Clark feared the landing force being forced back into the sea by the
German reserve forces around Rome. In an attempt to draw the Germans
away from the Rome and Anzio area and further south, he ordered an
attack by the 36th Infantry Division from Texas across the Rapido River
to the south of Cassino. Secondarily, there was even some hope that the
attack might succeed with an armored follow up by the 1st Armored
Division that would storm up the Liri River valley and beyond. Clark
met his first objective, but failed miserably with the secondary
objective. The Battle of of the Rapido River, or "Bloody River" as its
participants called it, was a disaster on the scale of Omaha Beach, but
without the merit of a final success.
The Allied plan was for a forceful movement against the Gustav Line,
of which the Rapido River area around Sant' Angelo was a central part
of, to tie down the German defenses. Additionally, Clark wanted to
inflict enough damage to bring out German Field Marshal Kesselring's
reserve forces away from Anzio. Clark instructed the British 10th
Corps, led by Lieutenant General Richard McCreery, to attack the Gustav
Line on 18 January at three places. The British 5th Divison would
attack across the Liri River near Minturno on the west coast of Italy.
The British 56th Divison would attack over the Liri near Castelforte.
Finally, the British 46th Divison would attack over the Liri near Sant'
Ambrogia and most importantly continue to the area of Sant' Apollinare
and secure the high ground that overlooked the US 2nd Corps' 36th
Division's assault area near Sant' Angelo. The 36th's Commander General
Fred Walker had real reservations about his part of the operation and
claimed (with some support) that Clark promised the 36th would not have
to proceed if the southern high ground around Sant' Apollinare had not
been secured by the British 46th. This issue would prove disastrous.
A little background is in order about the relations between the
British and the Americans in Italy. British General Harold Alexander
was in overall command of the Allied forces in Italy in the form of the
15th Army Group, which consisted of Mark Clark' Fifth Army and
Lieutenant General Sir Oliver Leese's UK 8th Army. Fifth Army
consisted, in part, of the US 2nd Corps under General Geoffrey Keyes
and the British 10th Corps under McCreery. The British and the American
military leadership often saw the same battlefield in two different
ways. According to Carlo D'Este in Fatal Decision,
the British were all about concentration of force, but the Americans
liked to probe on a broad front, then exploit weak spots. More
importantly, the key Generals in this fight exhibited their countrys'
worst stereotypical traits. Whereas Eisenhower was known first and
foremost as a humble diplomat and a great smoother of Allied tensions,
Clark seemed pathologically ambitious, vane and held contempt for
anyone who might have the gall to cross him. Likewise, where
Churchill's manner was leavened by his American mother, Alexander
showed the British aristocracy's patronising view of all things
American. These traits combined with Clark's coming of age in the
Salerno campaign and finding that the Alexander controlled publicity
machine made it out to be a British victory made the ground fertile for
bad decisons. Clark held a deep distrust of the British and could not
stomach the Brits getting any more glory in the Fifth Army sector.
Therefore, Clark had made up his mind that the breaking of the Gustav
Line, if it happened at all, would be led and exploited by the
In the Liri Valley plan, McCreery felt his 10th Corps had been
spread too wide and did not want to force any particular area too hard
for fear of getting in a fight with too few troops and taking heavy
losses. This led to the tragically predictable consequence of
McCreery's Corps delaying their start by 24 hours, knowing full well it
would enrage Clark, then, despite early success, not pushing to take
the high ground near Sant' Apollinare without having secured a bridge
over the Liri behind them. Clark was livid, if not surprised, but was
now presented with two decisions. First, Clark could, but not
realistically, delay the 36th's Rapido River assault, because he was
already butting up against the 22nd of January which was the planned
date for Operation Shingle, the Anzio landings. The Rapido River
assault was needed to ensure that Kesselring would have to deploy his
reserves away from Rome and Anzio. Second, and ironically, Clark had a
good choice and refused to take it. Clark could have followed American
doctrine and re-enforced the British 10th Corps's definite, but limited
success, but just could not accept the idea of the British getting the
credit for the break through. Clark declared the operation was to
proceed as planned. The 36th Infantry's Texans and General Walker would
bear the brunt of this All-American bravado.
All of this high level bickering and positioning did not mean that
the 36th were inevitably doomed to fail, but it surely seems that they
were. The 36th had fought hard and painfully in the area around San
Pietro in the bloody slog up to the Rapido. They were battle weary and
filled with too many green replacements. However, most importantly, the
36th seemed to be filled with the belief that they drew all of the hard
missions and the ones no one else wanted. In this case, they may have
been right, but that belief in a combat unit is contagious and almost
always self defeating. This included their General and at least one of
their Colonels, who made their doubts about the operation public,
without any notable objections up the chain. The 36th entered the
battle looking for failure and they found it in spades.
The plan was for 2 line regiments of the 36th, the 141st and the
143rd to attack across the Rapido on the night of the 20th and in the
early morning hours of the 21st of January. The lead elements would
cross in boats, then be followed by the engineers who would build foot
bridges for the remainder of the regiments' troops to cross. It was a
clear and simple plan, but the execution was under-equipped and ill
practiced to the point of negligence. The fact that so much
coordination was needed was obvious to many, but 36th officers were too
busy feeling hard-done-to. Some basic exercises were practiced on the
Volturno River, but nothing to the scale that was required of such a
tough operation. It was as if the 36th felt the result was not in
question, so no real effort should be spent in preparation. The
engineers were woefully short on the proper equipment and got little
support from Fifth Army. Rather than amphibious DUKWs and specially
made foot bridges, the troops got rubber dingys, wooden scows and
catwalks laid over pontoons. Adding to the mess was the fact that no
roads led to crossing sites and the area was open to German observation
all throughout the day. The engineers cleared the mines during the
night as best they could, but the infantry had to drag all of the boats
and equipment forward themselves.
The movement started as it was to follow, chaotically. Many of the
boats had been damaged by German artillery and the infantry had not
been trained how to handle them or even how many or what kind of oars
were needed. The infantry stumbled through mine lanes in the dark,
rattling boats and equipment all the way with at least one group
straying into a minefield. The Germans were alerted by the sounds and
started to bring fire down on the hapless Texans. When some did make it
to the Rapido River, they found that it was narrow, but deep and fast.
Many of the boats foundered or were hit by German fire. Shamefully for
the 36th, a small number, but too many refused to go or fell in the
river on purpose to avoid going. Many of those that did get to the
western side of the river were drenched and exhausted. Each regiment
got significant numbers across, but could not follow up with supporting
battalions and the engineers could not keep their footbridges in tact
for more than few hours. The tenuous positions on the western side of
the river were quickly becoming untenable and the disaster was setting
in by mid morning of the 21st. The lead battalion of the 143rd fell
back across the river to their start point. This certainly helped them,
but it allowed the Germans to concentrate all of their fire on the
northern crossing and the 1st Battalion of the 141st. This battalion
was stuck and would never be rescued.
By midday on the 21st, Clark and Keyes were demanding a renewed
offensive. Walker wanted a new offensive too, but only to retrieve the
lost 1/141st and Walker wanted it under the cover of darkness. Keyes
demanded that the new offensive should take place in the mid afternoon,
but various other foul-ups meant it did not happen for the 143rd until
15:00 and the 141st until 21:00 on the 21st. Both crossings established
a perimeter on the German side, but not large enough to get armor
across for fire support. These assaults worked no better than the
earlier ones. In fact, the new was exactly like the old, only worse. By
midday on the 22nd, the situation was dire and all units were looking
to pull back, but had their bridges and boats destroyed. In Cassino: The Hollow Victory,
John Ellis says Keyes was not having it and demanded that the Division
reserve, the 142nd Regiment, be committed. Walker balked, but complied.
Soon, however, the losses became too great and the attack was cancelled
in the mid afternoon of the 22nd. What was left of the 2 regiments
retreated as best they could, but the 1st of the 141st, as a unit, was
never heard from again.
The numbers tell the soldiers' story. 143 killed, 663 wounded an 875
missing ( approximately 500 were confirmed later to have been taken
prisoner by the German 15th Panzer Grenadier Division ). The 36th Texas
Infantry Division ceased to exist as a combat capable unit. The German
15th Panzer Grenadier Division had 64 killed and 179 wounded. Clark
achieved his goals of tying up the Germans prior to the Anzio landings
and even managed to get the Germans to send their reserves south.
However, embarrassingly for Clark, they were sent in response to
McCreery's 10th Corps assaults, not the 36th's.
Churchill had pushed for the Italian campaign, calling it the "soft
underbelly" of the German monster, but nothing could have been further
than the truth. The German military machine was probably the best
defensive army ever assembled and the succession of mountains on the
Italian peninsula gave them a natural advantage. The Italian theatre
was as grueling a campaign as anything in World War II and worst than
most. The Battle of the Bloody River was its saddest moment for the
Check out this ride
that starts in Naples, then winds through the mountains south of the
Liri River and finally follows the Liri up to the Rapido River around
Sant' Angelo in Theocides.
View Larger Map
Technorati Tags: 1900s 1940s 1944 20 20th 21 21st 22 22nd Alexander Anzio Battle for Rome Cassino Castelforte Clark Italian Campaign January Keyes McCreery Minturna Sant' Ambrogio Sant' Angelo Sant' Apollinare Shingle Walker World War 2 World War II WW2 WWII motorcycle motorcycle-touring motorcycle touring military history military-history battlefields Italy
Lucky, over at The Great Motorcycle Pizza Tour has posted "Ten Ways Motorcycling Improves Your Life". I call them the "Top 10," because there are many more.
For all of you historians who read this blog, but don't ride, you don't
know what you are missing. Try it, I bet you will like it.
My favorite is number 9, Stompy Boots. Besides motorcycle riders, only Dressage riders wear cooler boots, but who wants to do something called Dressage?
BMW Motorrad USA is giving away a new BMW F800 GS to one lucky person in the Unstoppable Sweepstakes.
They'll be giving it away at their Unstoppable Open House live webcast at 4 PM EST on March 8th, 2008.
I just signed up, so the rest of you poor suckers don't have a chance.
Here is a full run down of the new BMW F 800 GS at webBikeWorld for all of you gearheads.
I am sorely tempted by this bike. As I have said before, they made me
wait too long, so I bought the KTM 950 Adventure, but maybe the wife
won't notice if I sell my old BMW F650 GS and replace it with the F800
GS? The F650 GS has given me 28,000 care-free miles and the TKC 80
Continental rear tyre (reviewed here and updated here) has made it a dream around battlefields and farm tracks whilst still providing reasonable handling on London commutes.
My 2001 BMW F650 GS after 28,000 miles.
The blog states;
"This blog is made up of transcripts of Harry Lamin's letters from
the first World War. The letters will be posted exactly 90 years after
they were written. To find out Harry's fate, follow the blog!"
WILLIAM HENRY BONSER LAMIN
Born in August 1887 in Awsworth Notts, to Henry and Sarah Lamin. Elder
Sisters Catherine (Kate) and Agnes (Annie) and Elder brother John
(Jack). Educated at Awsworth Board School, just outside Ilkeston,
This is the type of thing that the internet excels at. This is
getting (highly deserved) attention from all around the web. It can be
nothing but good for spreading the experiences of one of our nation's
soldiers to a whole new audience.