Quotulatiousness

September 20, 2017

Tiger Day VIII at The Tank Museum

Filed under: Britain, Germany, History, Military, Technology — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 04:00

The Mighty Jingles
Published on 19 Sep 2017

It’s Tiger Day once again at The Tank Museum in deepest, darkest Bovington! This time I actually managed to get there and I wasn’t disappointed…

The Tank museum: http://www.tankmuseum.org/home

September 12, 2017

The River Thames: “London River” – 1941 Educational Documentary – WDTVLIVE42

Filed under: Britain, History — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 31 Aug 2017
The River Thames, Key to London’s Importance as a Centre of Commerce and Government

‘At Tilbury, near the mouth of the River Thames, liners from all over the world come into the landing stages, past long lines of barges and battalions of cranes. Higher up-river are the giant London docks, the busiest in the world, where the work of importing and exporting cargo us carried on unceasingly.

Westwards, up-river, are huge warehouses; cranes and smoking funnels line the banks. Approaching the City, ships pass beneath Tower Bridge, close to the imposing Tower of London. Nearby is the world of wharves and dockland offices, and directly linked to the river are London’s famous markets – Billingsgate for fish, Smithfield for meat and Covent Garden for fruit, vegetables and flowers. Here, too, is the world of finance – “the richest square mile in the world” – with the Stock Exchange, the Bank of England, and important banking and business houses known throughout the world. Further up-river is County Hall, magnificent headquarters of the London County Council; and on the left bank is the historic City of Westminster, home of the Empire’s government; lining Whitehall are big Government departments and, nearby, Westminster Abbey; and on the water’s edge, the Houses of Parliament with their elaborate and beautiful architecture. Beyond Westminster the character of the river is changed yet again, and giant Power Stations give way to residential houses, roads to gardens. Beyond Richmond, with its willow-lined banks, are the Tudor chimneys and turrets of Hampton Court; higher still is Windsor and its Castle, the home of the King.

As evening falls there is peace on the river at Windsor, but at the mouth of the Thames activity goes on into the night. There is no sleep for the greatest port in the world.’

(Films of Britain – British Council Film Department Catalogue – 1940)

September 10, 2017

Barbarossa: Why such high Soviet Losses? – Explained

Filed under: Germany, History, Military, Russia — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 20 Jun 2017

The Red Army suffered heavy losses during Operation Barbarossa, but it also inflicted heavy losses on the Wehrmacht. This means it was not just some helpless giant, but it also begs the questions, why were the losses so high? This video discusses several factors and refers heavily to current academic research namely from Alexander Hill and David Stahel.

Military History Visualized provides a series of short narrative and visual presentations like documentaries based on academic literature or sometimes primary sources. Videos are intended as introduction to military history, but also contain a lot of details for history buffs. Since the aim is to keep the episodes short and comprehensive some details are often cut.

September 8, 2017

Book Review: The Schmeisser Myth by Martin Helebrant

Filed under: Books, Germany, History, Military, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 17 Feb 2017

The Schmeisser Myth: German Submachine Guns Through Two World Wars is a newly published history of SMG development from the Villar Perosa and MP18 through the MP38 and MP40, written by Martin Helebrant. Given that it is published by Collector Grade, it should be no surprise that it is an excellent volume, which includes both historical and developmental context as well as detailed collectors’ information on markings, variations, and production numbers.

August 31, 2017

The Dieppe raid and the failure of the Churchill tank

Filed under: Britain, Cancon, History, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 15 Oct 2010

The Dieppe Raid, also known as the Battle of Dieppe, Operation Rutter and, later, Operation Jubilee, was a Second World War Allied attack on the German-occupied port of Dieppe. The raid took place on the northern coast of France on 19 August 1942. The assault began at 5:00 a.m. and by 10:50 a.m. the Allied commanders were forced to call a retreat. Over 6,000 infantrymen, predominantly Canadian, were supported by a Canadian Armoured regiment and a strong force of Royal Navy and smaller Royal Air Force landing contingents. It involved 5,000 Canadians, 1,000 British troops, and 50 United States Rangers.

Objectives included seizing and holding a major port for a short period, both to prove that it was possible and to gather intelligence. Upon retreat, the Allies also wanted to destroy coastal defences, port structures and all strategic buildings. The raid had the added objectives of boosting morale and demonstrating the firm commitment of the United Kingdom to open a western front in Europe.

Virtually none of these objectives were met.

August 29, 2017

Tank Chats #17 Tiger I

Filed under: Germany, History, Military, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 1 Apr 2016

David Willey, The Tank Museum Curator and co-author of the Tiger Tank Owner’s Workshop Manual, presents this Tank Chat on the subject of the most famous tank in the Bovington collection – and perhaps the world – the German Tiger 1 from the Second World War, also known as Tiger 131.

August 23, 2017

One definite success from the Dieppe raid

Filed under: Cancon, France, Germany, History, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

The allied attack on Dieppe in August, 1942 was an operational failure: nearly 60% of the raiding force were killed, wounded or captured and the tactical objectives in the harbour area were not achieved. I’ve mentioned the speculations on an Enigma side-operation (which does not seem to be given credence by most historians), using the main Canadian attack as cover for an attempt to snatch the latest German encryption device from one or more high-security locations within the target area. A second side-mission was also conducted to capture one of the newest German radar stations at Pourville, just down the coast from Dieppe:

Aerial reconnaissance photos indicated that one of these new Freya radar sets had been installed at Pourville-sur-Mer, near Dieppe. A military raid on Dieppe, to test British and Canadian plans for an amphibious invasion, was already being planned. Senior officers immediately added a sub-plan to the Dieppe raid: a small force would be detached to attack the Pourville radar station. There, a radar expert would dismantle the station’s vital equipment and transport it back to the UK for analysis.

A German FuMG 401 “Freya LZ” radar station of the type installed at Pourville. (US National Archives and Records Administration image, via Wikimedia)

Nissenthall, a Jewish cockney who had a lifelong fascination with electronics and radio technology, had joined the Air Force as an apprentice in 1936. By the outbreak of the war in 1939 he was assigned to RAF radio direction finding stations (RDF, the short-lived original term for radar) and rapidly built up a reputation as a competent and technically skilled operator. Before the war he had also worked directly with Robert Watson-Watt, widely regarded today as the father of radar.

[…]

More than 5,000 soldiers of the First Canadian Division set off from the south coast of England in the early hours of 19 August 1942. Embedded with A Company of the South Saskatchewan Regiment, Nissenthall’s 11-man bodyguard landed on French soil – but on the wrong side of the Scie River from the radar station.

After finding their way to their intended starting point, the team ran into stiff German resistance. Casualties soon mounted up as they probed the area, looking for a way into the radar station.

Thanks to the Bruneval raid six months previously, the Germans had beefed up their defences around coastal radar stations. This, combined with the naivete of the Allied planners back in Britain, had left the Canadians exposed and vulnerable. Though Nissenthall’s team had just about reached the radar station, there was no hope they would be able to get inside it, much less examine it, dismantle it and take away the most valuable parts of the Freya set inside.

August 22, 2017

How to Pronounce German Ship Names – World of Warships & Historical Background

Filed under: Gaming, Germany, History, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 8 Aug 2017

Pronunciation of German ship names from World of Warships with some background information on the person and location.

Military History Visualized provides a series of short narrative and visual presentations like documentaries based on academic literature or sometimes primary sources. Videos are intended as introduction to military history, but also contain a lot of details for history buffs. Since the aim is to keep the episodes short and comprehensive some details are often cut.

August 19, 2017

Dieppe Raid 19 August, 1942 – Assault, escape and aftermath

Filed under: Cancon, France, Germany, History, Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 22 Mar 2009

http://worldwarii.ca

The Dieppe Raid was one of the costliest days for the Canadian Army in the entire Second World War. 907 Canadians were killed, in addition more than 2,500 were wounded or captured, all on August 19 of 1942.

At the BBC site: Julian Thompson’s summary of the Dieppe Raid.

August 14, 2017

Tank Chats #16 Panther

Filed under: Germany, History, Military — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 18 Mar 2016

Probably the best German tank design of the Second World War.

The Panther was not as thickly armoured, nor as heavily armed, as tanks such as the Tiger but was probably a much more balanced design. It was one of the fastest German tanks, highly manoeuvrable and equipped with an accurate gun. Its worst defect was a propensity to catch fire if the engine backfired.

August 9, 2017

Ernst Zündel, “the Zelig of Holocaust denial”

Filed under: Cancon, Germany, History, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

In the National Post, Colby Cosh tells the tale of Canada’s “favourite” holocaust denial specialist:

Ernst Zündel in 1992 on the day of his legal victory in R. v. Zündel (via Wikipedia)

Ernst Zündel, the Zelig of Holocaust denial, died suddenly this weekend at his ancestral home in the Black Forest of Germany. If he had died sooner, before his 2005 deportation from this country, I am afraid he would have been widely described in obituaries as “German-Canadian.” He lived here from 1958 to 2000, unsuccessfully trying a couple of times to obtain official citizenship, and was visible for years as a self-styled opponent of Germanophobic stereotypes in the popular media.

Foreseeably, Zündel turned out to be the ultimate German stereotype himself: a war baby who used Canada as a refuge from conscription and anti-Nazi laws back home, all while obsessively re-litigating the Second World War in pseudonymous anti-Semitic pamphlets and books. Most ethnic Germans abroad wouldn’t deny the Holocaust or complain of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy, as Zündel did, but… well, if you have studied German history seriously enough to talk about it socially, you will have run into folks who have funny ideas and tiny chips on their shoulder about, say, First World War reparations or the bombing of Dresden.

[…]

It should be remembered that by 1986 Zündel was already well on his way to establishing his place in Canadian legal history. He had already been convicted once under the Criminal Code’s “spreading false news” section, eventually struck down by the Supreme Court in 1992’s R. v. Zündel. Free speech absolutists argued then that the legal and social pursuit of Zündel merely served to increase his notoriety.

As a purely empirical question of history, this is hard to resolve. But we know that protests and the exertions of the police failed to stop Zündel from winning over Irving, and thus acquiring international influence. It may have done nothing but enhance his credentials as a pseudo-intellectual grappler, defying social scorn and the force of law.

The authorities were eventually able to bundle Zündel off to Germany through a legal door that has since closed. He was deported as an undesirable alien on the basis of a ministerial “security certificate” — not long before the Supreme Court denounced the use of secret evidence in deportation proceedings, and made such certificates harder to obtain. After Zündel’s deportation, an apparatus of progressive opposition to security certificates was quick to materialize. One cannot help wondering: if he were still alive in Canada in 2017, and the state tried to banish him, who might be out marching on his behalf, defending him as an “undocumented Canadian”?

QotD: University “studies” programs

Filed under: Education, Europe, History, Quotations — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

As someone who got partway through grad school, I am only a sort of half-layman when it comes to modern European history. On demand I can present an official document that testifies, by implication, that I have spent a certain amount of time in seminars talking about Himmler’s agronomy education or discussing why totalitarian regimes are always sexually puritanical. Even before it was ruined for me by formal training, I was a history buff. So I can sort of reconstruct the process whereby I know what Auschwitz is. But, by the same token, I am less able to know how anyone else comes by the knowledge.

It seems some part of our system for producing intellectually responsible grownups has failed […] That failure is probably not to be found in the extensive education in social work. A degree in social work amounts to a degree in helping people: assuming it is not totally idiotic for our institutions of higher learning to be generating such paper, there must be mastery of some technical arcana involved. I do not know that this would involve instruction in the details of the Holocaust. A nursing education doesn’t; an engineering education doesn’t.

It is, rather, that “social justice and peace studies” business that captures my eye. Wouldn’t the matter, the essential grounding of an education in social justice and peace just be … history? (With particular attention to the topic of concentration camps?) Wouldn’t expertise of this kind require digestion of a mass of information about the flux of war, diplomacy, economies, and ideas? Something Studies items were on the menu already when I began my undergraduate education, and I majored in history partly because, in my innocence, I couldn’t see how you would study anything else about human affairs without that foundation.

But we all know the secret of Something Studies well enough now: it is a way of avoiding the rigour and complexity of a history education, and going straight to the business of striking political stances. It is History For Left-Wing Dummies. And when you see such a degree on someone’s CV, you can be quite sure you have found one.

Colby Cosh, “Some part of our system for producing intellectually responsible adults has failed Alex Johnstone”, National Post, 2015-09-24.

August 8, 2017

Tank Chats #15 Tortoise

Filed under: Britain, History, Military, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 25 Feb 2016

Tank Museum Historian, David Fletcher is currently unavailable, so rather than make you all wait, Curator David Willey is here to present Tortoise!

The A39 Tortoise is the ultimate manifestation of the British concept of the heavily armoured, but slow, ‘Infantry’ tank.

It was built in 1947, making it a contemporary of the highly successful Centurion tank. The Tortoise proved to be too slow and unwieldy for the conditions of modern warfare and was a nightmare to transport.

The only service that the Tortoise had was when two tanks took part in trials in Germany in 1948. The Tank Museum’s Tortoise is now the only surviving example.

July 30, 2017

Tank Chats #14 Canal Defence Light

Filed under: Britain — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 5 Feb 2016

Mark II A12, Matilda Canal Defence Light (CDL)

Night fighting always presents problems but searchlights had been tested on tanks as early as 1919. The idea of turning them into an offensive weapon is credited to a Mr A V M Mitzakis, who devised his scheme before the war but the British authorities did not take it up until about 1940. The idea was to use a light of such power that it would dazzle the opposition, leaving them temporarily blind and disorientated.

Five British and two American battalions were trained on CDL and two of the British units went out to Egypt. In fact the CDL was never employed as intended. A few tanks were used to cover the Rhine Crossing and there were incidents in India after the war but that is all.

July 27, 2017

Andrew Roberts on Dunkirk

Filed under: History, Humour, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

It comes with the Niall Ferguson seal of approval:

The retreat from the Continent was a perilous time for Britain. The Germans were willing to throw everything into making it as dangerous and costly as possible for the island people. Britain’s French allies were full of suspicion about what they were depicting for propaganda purposes as a treacherous retreat. The British government was in disarray, with senior government ministers even proposing negotiating with the enemy in order to minimize the terrible ultimate cost that they now saw as inevitable. Everyone was crying out for leadership.

But enough about Brexit. What about Christopher Nolan’s new movie about Dunkirk?

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