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Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing

To the glory of God and to the memory of 11447 officers and men of the forces of the British Empire, who fell fighting in the years 1914-1918 between the River Douve and the towns of Estaires and Furnes, whose names are here recorded but to whom the fortune of war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrades in death.

Belgium, originally uploaded by traceyjohns.

Ploegsteert memorial, originally uploaded by R/DV/RS.

Lion, Ploegsteert Memorial, originally uploaded by Redvers.

Amongst the more than 11,000 persons listed on the memorial who have no known grave are three Victoria Cross winners; one from each component nation (England, Scotland and Wales) on the island of Britain.

Sapper William Hackett, VC
254th Tunnelling Company, Corps of Royal Engineers
b.  11 June 1873, Nottingham, England.
d. 27 June 1916, Givenchy-lès-la-Bassée, France.

Private James MacKenzie, VC
2nd Battalion, Scots Guards
b. 2 April 1889, Dumfries, Scotland.
d. 19 December 1914, Rouges Blanc, France.

Captain Thomas Tannatt Pryce, VC
4th Battalion, Grenadier Guards
b. 17 January 1886, The Hague, Netherlands (Welsh by ancestry).
d. 13 April 1918, Vieux-Berquin, France.

Category: Historica, National Defence  Tags:  Comments off

CBC Radio, 1943-44

Canadian war correspondents in a jeep, Modica, Italy, 13 July 1943. (L-R): Peter Stursberg, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; Ross Munro, Canadian Press; Captain Dave MacLellan, Public Relations Officer; Lieutenant Al Fraser, Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit. (Capt. Frank Royal / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-204808)

Matthew 'Matt' Halton, CBC war correspondent making a recording in Sicily on 20 August 1943. (CBC/Library and Archives Canada)

Engineer Paul Johnston of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation setting up equipment to record a broadcast by CBC correspondent Matthew Halton, Catangora, Italy, 14 September 1943. (Capt. Frank Royal / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-206169)

War correspondent Peter Stursberg of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation recording a radio broadcast, Potenza, Italy, 22 September 1943. (Capt. Frank Royal / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-145343)

War correspondent Benoit Lafleur of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation near San Vito Chietino, Italy, 8 April 1944. (Sgt. J. Ernest DeGuire / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-197554)

A Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reporter interviewing two parachute-qualified officers, one from the Royal 22e Régiment, who are part of the First Rotation Leave, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 8 December 1944. (Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-213625)

Category: Historica, Media  Tags: ,  One Comment

Simmer down

As doutbless everyone knows, General Stanley A. McChrystal, COMISAF, is in hot water over a Rolling Stone article in which he and his staff are breathlessly reported to have mocked Constitutional officer-holders, leading many commentators of greater and lesser stature to speculate that he had denigrated the majesty of the Presidential office, violated the UCMJ, kicked puppies and stolen candy from babies.

I have no particular love nor hatred for the general, but I do hate to see military figures lynched on specious grounds.

You can read the article for yourself; I’ll excerpt the most damning things directly attributed to General McChrystal here.  First, he is unhappy about being recommended into a job for which the policymaking principals do not appear to support his methods:

Last fall, with his top general calling for more troops, Obama launched a three-month review to re-evaluate the strategy in Afghanistan. “I found that time painful,” McChrystal tells me in one of several lengthy interviews. “I was selling an unsellable position.” For the general, it was a crash course in Beltway politics – a battle that pitted him against experienced Washington insiders like Vice President Biden, who argued that a prolonged counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan would plunge America into a military quagmire without weakening international terrorist networks.

— Hastings, Michael.  “The Runaway General.” Rolling Stone, 22 June 2010.

Not exactly damning stuff.  The worst thing McChrystal does in the entire article is imagine waving off a question from the vice president at a Paris dinner party, regarding a prior disagreement with the VP about strategy.

Now, flipping through printout cards of his speech in Paris, McChrystal wonders aloud what Biden question he might get today, and how he should respond. “I never know what’s going to pop out until I’m up there, that’s the problem,” he says. Then, unable to help themselves, he and his staff imagine the general dismissing the vice president with a good one-liner.

“Are you asking about Vice President Biden?” McChrystal says with a laugh. “Who’s that?”

“Biden?” suggests a top adviser. “Did you say: Bite Me?”

So all of the hand-waving we see in the press and electronic media is really predicated on those two instances.  Yes, there are plenty of worse things said in that article, but none of them can be attributed directly to General McChrystal.  They are instead attributed to his staff.  Broadly speaking a commander is responsible for the conduct of his subordinates, yes, but if a lesser rank commits treason or murder, the commander is not automatically guilty of same.  His offence is most likely a failure of command—whether that is failure to provide sufficient discipline and leadership, or a failure to recognise a dangerously corrosive situation and take steps to remedy it.

Now, allowing one’s staff to mock the great officers of state and speak impertinently about State Department officials in the AOR is not fine and dandy, either.  At the very least General McChrystal should have rebuked or reprimanded them, and reminded said officers that they were in the presence of the press.  Some things you can say over drinks in the officers’ club, but those are not—generally—things you want to appear on the front page of the New York Times.  The sin lies not in saying them, but in saying them indiscreetly and to the wrong audience.

If the general is guilty of a crime, it is dereliction of duty by permitting his staff to verbally run roughshod over the civilian administration.  That is miles away from the hysterical media coverage that has been provided thus far.  This is not Truman versus MacArthur, where a general specifically went and made public statements at odds with the policy prescriptions of the President.  MacArthur was insubordinate (announcing a strategy that was in fact opposed by the White House) and in his arrogance, challenged a key principle of civil governance; McChrystal was negligent; nowhere in that article does he utter a policy at odds with that of his masters in Washington.

They are both firing offences, but there is a world of difference between them.  Enough of the hyperventilating comparisons.

RELATED: A poll at milblog Neptunus Lex, with unsurprising results.

ALSO RELATED: Jay Currie, Ben and Skippy Stalin want to see McChrystal get the boot.

BUT THAT’S DIFFERENT: Of course nobody remembers General Eric Shinseki’s public falling out with SecDef Rumsfeld during the 2003 run-up to the Iraq War.  Funny how Shinseki wasn’t compelled to make obeisance to his political masters then.

Category: Foreign Affairs  Tags: ,  3 Comments

Abbaye d’Ardenne, June 7-8, 1944.

Sixty-six years ago today (and tomorrow), some twenty Canadian prisoners-of-war were executed near Villons-les-Buissons in the Abbaye d’Ardenne by their captors, the 12th SS Panzer Division (Hitler Youth).  That division would go on to murder as many as 156 Canadian POWs in the days and weeks following the Normandy invasion.

You may be surprised and dismayed to learn that the man responsible, SS-Brigadeführer Kurt Meyer, was arrested, tried and convicted for the murders, but his sentence was commuted by Canadian Major General Christopher Vokes—who also ordered the deaths of two POWs himself (although his division commander intervened), and was perhaps a little more sympathetic than one might wish.

Category: Historica  Tags: ,  Comments off

Canadian Contingents in the Second Boer War, 1899-1902

Soldiers departing for the Boer War. Ottawa, Ontario; near the post office. c1899-1901. (Library and Archives Canada/C-003950)

Royal Canadian Regiment on dock before embarkation. c1899-1901. (Capt. Samuel Maynard Rogers, RCR / Library and Archives Canada / e002505774)

Non-commissioned officers and enlisted men of Lord Strathcona's Horse en route to South Africa aboard S.S. Monterey. 1899. (Library and Archives Canada / C-000171)

A bivouac on Bloemfontein Common. c1899-1901. (Library and Archives Canada / C-003477)

Troops of the Royal Canadian Regiment crossing the Modder River at Paardeberg Drift. February 1900. (Reinhold Thiele / Library and Archives Canada / C-014923)

Field hospital at Paardeberg Drift, South Africa. 19 February 1900. (Reinhold Thiele / Library and Archives Canada / C-006097)

Miss Minnie Affleck, Nursing Sister, 1st Canadian Contingent. 1900. (Minnie Affleck/Library and Archives Canada/C-051799)

Trooper (later Colonel) Lorne Winfield Redmond Mulloy, Royal Canadian Dragoons. (Photographer: Pittaway, Alfred George / Patent and Copyright Office / Library and Archives Canada / C-014081) Mulloy lost both eyes during the Boer campaign and subsequently enjoyed a career as a lawyer and lecturer at Royal Military College, Kingston. He died in 1932.

Return of Canadian soldiers from South Africa. Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Ontario. c1901. (Library and Archives Canada / PA-034097)

Yonge Street crowd celebrating the end of the Second Boer War. Toronto, Ontario. (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 2049)

Category: Historica  Tags: ,  Comments off

DoD’s historical images of the Korean War, 1950-53

A reminder of how much effort it took to turn back North Korean aggression the last time, courtesy of the Flickr feed from US Army Korea’s Installation Management Command. Some 26,791 Canadians also served in the Korean War, among them one of my great-uncles.

DDE-219 HMCS Athabaskan, one of the three Canadian destroyers sent to Korean waters to serve under General MacArthur, Commanding General for the unified U.N. forces assisting the Republic of Korea in defense against the invasion by North Korean Communist forces. (DoD/National Air and Space Museum, #50-9086-306-PS)

Korean War – HD-SN-50-00936, originally uploaded by US Army Korea – IMCOM.

Two North Korean boys, serving in the North Korean Army, taken prisoner in the Sindang-dong area by elements of the 389th Inf. Regt., are interrogated by a U.S. soldier shortly after their capture. September 18, 1950. (US Army/Pfc. Francis Mullin. NARA File #111-SC-348805)

Korean War – HD-SN-99-03153, originally uploaded by US Army Korea – IMCOM.

LSTs unloading at Wolmi-do, Inchon, Korea on D-plus and Marine trucks taking supplies to advancing troops. (DoD/NARA File #127-GK-234P-A408288)

Korean War – 127-GK-234P-A408288 LST’S unloading at Wolmi-do, Inchon, Korea , originally uploaded by US Army Korea – IMCOM.

MARINES LAMBASTE ENEMY AT NIGHT—Tanks of the 1st Marine Tank battalion bark death and devastation into the briefly day-lighted Korean night, as Marine tankmen fire a night mission at enemy supply installation somewhere in Korea. (DoD/NARA File #127-GK-233I-A157650)

Korean War – 127-GK-233I-A157650 1st Marine Tank battalion, originally uploaded by US Army Korea – IMCOM.

Airview of bombs dropped by U.S. Air Force, exploding on three parallel railroad bridges across Han River, southwest of Seoul, capital of the Republic of Korea. Bridges were bombed early in war to delay advance of invading North Korean troops. (DoD/National Air and Space Museum, #50-9025-306-PS)

Korean War – HD-SN-50-00935, originally uploaded by US Army Korea – IMCOM.

Hit the Silk—Paratroopers of the veteran 187th Regimental Combat Team jump from FEAF C-46 transports during a training operation carried out in Korea. (DoD/National Air and Space Museum, #82298 AC)

Korean War – HF-SN-98-07354 187th Regimental Combat Team, originally uploaded by US Army Korea – IMCOM.

GENERAL MACARTHUR INSPECTS KOREAN WAR FRONT: General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, Commander in-Chief, Far East Command, on an inspection tour of the South Korean Forces after the surprise attack by the North Koreans. (DoD/NARA File #111-SC-343024)

Korean War – 111-SC-343024, originally uploaded by US Army Korea – IMCOM.

Korean women and children search the rubble of Seoul for anything that can be used or burned as fuel. November 1, 1950. (US Army/Capt. F. L. Scheiber. NARA File #111-SC-351697)

Korean War – HD-SN-99-03162, originally uploaded by US Army Korea – IMCOM.

In "Operation Comeback" thousands of Chinese and North Korean Communist POWs were released from Prisoner of War Compoundss, in Korea after renouncing Communism for freedom. Here, at Seoul, Korea crowds are gathered to greet Chinese ex-POWs prior to flight to Formosa. (DoD/National Air and Space Museum, #85043 AC)

Korean War – HF-SN-98-07419, originally uploaded by US Army Korea – IMCOM.

There are literally hundreds more of these images in the Korean War Historical Images set; go have a look.

Category: Historica  Tags: , , , ,  Comments off