A Gallant Christian Soldier…

Vicar in the trenches: The story of Reverend Theodore Hardy in the Great War. COMMEMORATIONS of the Great War feature soldiers, painters and poets. But there was one breed of non-combatants that has been rather forgotten: Chaplains. By the end of the war there were 3,500 clergy in khaki, going about their rounds in a dog collar and representing God while all hell broke loose.(c) IWM (Imperial War Museums); Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

They were a mixed bunch and many were frankly worse than useless. Padre’s who got the least respect were the ones who preached patriotism behind the lines and frightened the men going to the front. But some performed quiet miracles on the front line, earning undying admiration. Perhaps the most astonishing of them all was a small, unassuming country vicar and one-time headmaster from near Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria. He joined up as a relatively ‘old man at 51.’ He was to become the most highly decorated non-combatant of the Great War, winning to his considerable embarrassment the Distinguished Service Order, Military Cross and the Victoria Cross. His name was Theodore Bayley Hardy.

He insisted on working in the thick of the fighting, belly crawling to men who were stranded or wounded in no man’s land with his habitual phrase: “It’s only me, boys.” He brought first aid, cigarettes and sweets and saved many lives by retrieving men who had lost hope. Soldiers grew used to his tenacious courage that should have got him killed umpteen times. Hardy arrived at the front in August 1916 as temporary chaplain 4th class, joining the 8th Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment. His age was against him but he argued he would be useful on the front line as he was already a widower with grown-up children.

He added that although he was a coward he had no fear of death. That last part was to prove far from being a boast. His meeting with possibly the most famous chaplain of the war set the pattern for his ministry among the shell craters. Father Geoffrey Studdert-Kennedy MC was a jug-eared young padre who thanks to his habit of handing out smokes to the wounded was known affectionately as “Woodbine Willie”. Studdert-Kennedy had this advice: “Live with the men. Go everywhere they go. “The best place for a padre is where there is most danger of death.” Hardy took this to heart.woodbine-willie-cover

He decided that his job would be in the trenches, when necessary under fire and in the slime. He soon showed his mettle. His DSO was earned when he went out to rescue a party of men stuck in the mud in no man’s land. It was the beginning of the so-called “battle of the mud”, an offensive known as Passchendaele, fought from the end of July 1917 in one of the wettest summers on record. The shells tore up the delicate lowland drainage system of Flanders and reduced the ground to a brown porridge that swallowed up men and mules. The casualties on both sides were horrific. Apart from the Lincolns also under Hardy’s care were the 8th Somersets. The men knew they had it when a tot of rum was issued at 3am, July 31 and they went over the top at the start of this immensely bloody campaign, fought mostly in sheeting rain. Hardy was with them.

By night the scene was carnage. The intense shelling drowned out the screaming of the wounded and dying. Hardy went out with the rescue party, bandaged wounds, carried the injured to a dressing station until all the men except one were brought in. He then organised a party for the rescue of this man and remained with him for 36 hours, chatting, encouraging and feeding the lad until finally death intervened. Hardy was eventually found in a shell hole, collapsed from exhaustion. He was awarded the DSO. It is believed that had there been sufficient witnesses a VC would have been assured. Within days Hardy clocked up the MC.24f13pic1-491315Army Chaplain Theodore Bayley Hardy (circled) above. This time the troops were to attack on October 4, an action that earned one young man in the unit, Private Sage, the VC. He threw himself on a German grenade lobbed into a shell hole full of men. Amazingly he survived his wounds. Hardy looked after him. The weather had worsened by October and it took eight men to carry a loaded stretcher across the mud. Hardy went out with almost every team of bearers of whom a 100 were lost in a single week. Without sleep and under murderous shell fire Hardy went about his business with great calm and a kindly grin, a sight which kept the men from hysteria. This time he was awarded the MC for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to the wounded. Word had got around that Hardy was a useful man in a storm.

He was by 1918 extremely lucky to be alive. No padre had seen as much action as he. During the great German spring offensive in 1918 Hardy went on a series of patrols and raids between April 5-27, extricating the wounded and marooned. One Somerset lad was stuck in the wire with a mangled leg. He was slowly bleeding to death. Then he heard “it’s only me” as Hardy slithered into view. He tied up his wounded leg while discussing in school cricket in whispers. He left the boy and soon returned as promised with a sergeant who snipped the wire, deadening the sound with a cloth so the German machine gun post wouldn’t hear them. They got the lad back to safety – an incredible feat.

The sergeant got the DCM and Hardy the VC. Interestingly there seems to have been no gung-ho streak in Hardy’s make-up. He was not medal hungry. When told he had won the VC for a series of actions he said: “I really must protest.” It was a medal, which in the opinion of the men, “he should have had served up for breakfast everyday”. Hardy would habitually cover the array of ribbons on his chest with his arm so as not to put off young recruits who might be intimidated. Although appointed chaplain to the King, Hardy refused to leave the front. The best thing he could do was carry on, he reckoned. Inevitably his luck ran out.5211959722_7bec8cca52_z

The small figure of Hardy was last seen crossing the River Selle on October 10 to join his men. A machine gun was then heard and the padre was hit in the thigh. He told those who came to his aid: “I’m sorry to cause you so much trouble boys but I think I’ve been hit.” He was evacuated but a few days later, pneumonia set in and he died just three weeks before the Armistice – to the great sorrow of his men and the army as a whole. One hundred and sixty-three chaplains died in the war. There were other men of the cloth who lived exemplary lives at the front. But the respect and affection earned by Hardy was unique. If any single Briton deserves to be remembered for their unstinting humanity during that savage war the tiny, self-effacing Rev Theodore Hardy must surely be a candidate. Original story by Robert Gore-Langton. ‘Daily Express’.

Yet one more story of comradeship, unselfishness, and incredible heroism, which should never be forgotten…

The Royal Navy Chaplains attached to Commando Forces attend the ‘All Arms Commando Course’, which is a strict pass/fail and not a Gawd given right to a beret of green. In my time ‘under a green lid’ I met some cracking Padre’s; each of whom would attend a Company run-ashore at the drop of a hat, and spin dit’s that would make the devil blush. One particular little Welsh Padre was rumoured to have hollow legs, such was his capacity for real ale. And he could recite/sing every bawdy rugby song, which he quite often did in a hearty voice that put Tom Jones to shame…            Yours Aye.

March the guilty barsteward in Sgt Major

article-2678403-1F07938600000578-396_634x513Bowe Bergdahl is being allowed to wander off Texas base as part of his ‘reintegration’ as it emerges that soldiers who served with him ‘STILL’ haven’t been contacted by investigators

Presumption of Innocence. “A fundamental protection for a person accused of a crime, which requires the prosecution to prove its case against the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt.” In this case I would presume an investigation into Bergdahl’s activities would be paramount , or is that the scent of a White House rat I smell.         Yours Aye. What about freezing his assets; five years back dated Sergeants pay may well have been fraudulently generated?

True Grit…

article-2666342-1F1017DB00000578-958_306x423Staff sergeant who fought off 200 Taliban fighters despite being unable to WALK in deadly battle that killed nine of his comrades to be awarded Medal of Honor

A former Army staff sergeant is set to receive the Medal of Honor for his heroics during one of the deadliest battles of the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan. Staff Sergeant Ryan Pitts from Nashua, New Hampshire, spent an agonizing 90 minutes fighting off enemy fighters despite shrapnel injuries to both legs and an arm that left the young soldier critically wounded and resigned to certain death. 

Read the rest of this inspirational story of true grit; Staff Sergeant Ryan Pitts to be awarded Medal Of Honor

Pure American backbone. B.Z. Staff Sergeant Ryan Pitts, very well deserved. Yours Aye.

Bowe Bergdahl

Was Taliban PoW a deserter before he was captured and held for five years? Soldier ‘sent emails that he was planning to leave his post after becoming disillusioned with the war’article-2645096-1E64A24B00000578-985_636x383From the beginning, Bowe Bergdahl was not your conventional US Army Private. Traveling extensively and trained in ballet, he had sailed across the Atlantic by his late teens, but was home-schooled in a small town in Idaho with a population of about 8,000. His friends say he enlisted in the army to help the Afghan people and provide philanthropic support to the war effort. As the Taliban’s sole American prisoner was freed after five years, a portrait has been painted of an adventurous and idealistic seeker, who was known for his manners and would stop at nothing to test new experiences. But there is controversy, too. Rolling Stone magazine quoted emails Bergdahl is said to have sent to his parents that suggest he was disillusioned with America’s mission in Afghanistan, had lost faith in the U.S. Army’s mission there and was considering desertion. Bergdahl told his parents he was ‘ashamed to even be American’. Did Bergdahl really desert his post as a protest?

The following from ‘STORMBRINGER’  the blog of Sean Linnane (pseudonym of a retired Special Forces career NCO; 1st SFG, 3d SFG, 10th SFG.) ‘Sean’ tells it like it is; in this case he speaks as one who was there at the time of the ‘incident,’ as well as his involvement. I have followed STORMBRINGER for quite a while now and find him to be very genuine and credible. I would urge you to read his post dated SUNDAY, JUNE 1, 2014.            Yours Aye.

Sasha the sniffer dog-a posthumous award

Animal VC for Afghanistan sniffer dog. An Army Labrador sniffer dog credited with saving “many lives” before she was killed in an ambush is posthumously awarded the Dickin Medal.              ‘Sasha’ sasha2_2895069bAn Army sniffer dog killed in an ambush alongside her handler in Afghanistan is to be awarded the animal Victoria Cross next month. Sasha, a four-year-old yellow Labrador was credited with saving many lives by finding hidden weapons caches and booby-trap bombs in Helmand province. On July 24, 2008 Sasha and her handler, L/Cpl Kenneth Rowe were returning from a routine search operation when their patrol was ambushed. They survived the first attack but were both killed by gunfire in a second attack.ken-rowe_781761f

Sasha will now be posthumously awarded the Dickin Medal for her actions by the PDSA veterinary charity. Jan McLoughlin, the charity’s director general, said: “Sasha’s exceptional devotion to duty in Afghanistan saved many lives, both soldiers and civilians. This medal, recognised worldwide as the animals’ Victoria Cross, honours both Sasha’s unwavering service and her ultimate sacrifice. Her story exemplifies the dedication of man’s best friend and reminds us all of the amazing contribution they make to our lives.”

During her time in Afghanistan the Sasha made 15 confirmed operational finds. In one search of a building in Garmsir, she found two mortars and a large quantity of weapons, including explosives and mines. Col Neil Smith, director Army veterinary and remount services, said: “Sadly this award is posthumous as both Sasha and her handler L/Cpl Ken Rowe were killed in enemy action in Afghanistan in 2008. Our thoughts remain with L/Cpl Rowe’s family and this award will give us the opportunity to once more celebrate his and Sasha’s immeasurable contributions to military operations.” British-soldier-and-his-faithful-friend-die-side-by-side-in-AfghanistanHandler_60167cThe Dickin Medal has now been awarded to 29 dogs, 32 Second World War messenger pigeons, three horses and one cat. Recipients-of-the-PDSAs-Dickin-Medal-the-animal-version-of-the-Victoria-Cross. There is more to the story as an inquest into the death of L/Cpl Rowe revealed he postponed his scheduled return to the UK because he did not want to leave his comrades with insufficient cover. A selfless act.           Yours Aye.animals-in-war-memorial-1-052713Animals in War Memorial, London.  Original article by Ben Farmer: The Telegraph

Army medic to the rescue

article-2598697-1CE6931A00000578-232_634x735Army medic rescues military sniffer dog who was due to be put to sleep after developing PTSD from its time searching for Taliban weapons in Afghanistan. A female soldier who befriended a heroic bomb-hunting dog in Afghanistan tracked down her canine comrade and gave him a new home after he became too timid to serve on the front lines. Angie McDonnell, 40, a reservist who served in war-torn Helmand province as a medic, became ‘best friends’ with four-year-old Vidar while the two were based at Camp Bastion.article-2598697-1CE6940E00000578-453_634x444

 But after they had served together, her four-legged friend – a Belgian Malinois – developed symptoms akin to post-traumatic stress disorder and started to lose his sight – which left him at risk of being put down. More Here: Army medic rescues military sniffer dog who was due to be euthanised after developing PTSD

Two heroes who justly deserve each other. BZ Angie McDonnell and Vidar… Yours Aye.

Rush order for 432 vestal virgins

A British Coldstream Guards sniper killed six Taliban fighters with a single shot, when his round triggered the explosive vest worn by his target.01A_TALIBANSNIPER DO NOT OPENWith a Taliban fighter looming in his sights half a mile away, the British sniper knew a clean shot would take down his enemy. What he could not have known was that the single round he fired would account for five more insurgents. The record-breaking shot was fired by a Coldstream Guards marksman on one of the last missions to be carried out by British troops in Afghanistan. UK forces are preparing to leave their last frontline base in Helmand as part of their withdrawal from Afghanistan. The sniper, a lance corporal who cannot be named for security reasons, was on a mission to intercept a suspected suicide bomber. Commanders feared the insurgent was planning to blow himself up at either a UK base, an Afghan security checkpoint or a civilian target such as a school or government building. Some 335 soldiers from the Brigade Reconnaissance Force and 90 Afghan troops were deployed on the operation on December 14 last year. As they moved to tackle the suicide bomber, they ran into fire from a group of 20 Taliban.harrison2

Lieutenant Colonel Richard Slack, commanding officer of the 9th/12th Royal Lancers, who was overseeing the operation at Kakaran, said: ‘The guy wearing the vest was identified by the sniper moving down a tree line and coming over a ditch. ‘He had a winter shawl which rose up and the sniper saw he had a machine gun. ‘He was moving to a firing position when the sniper engaged him and the guy exploded. There was a pause on the radio and the sniper said: “I think I’ve just shot a suicide bomber.” The rest of them were killed in the blast.’     L11 5A3 

The sniper also killed a Taliban machine gunner from a staggering 4,400ft with the first shot of his tour of duty. It is believed he was using a British-built L115A3 Long Range Rifle the Army’s most powerful sniper weapon. Lt Col Slack said: ‘He has had a great tour of duty.’

Surveillance for the operation was carried out by troops based at Sterga 2, an isolated observation post built on high ground overlooking the Helmand River.

Proving the point yet again that the sniper is still the most cost-effective way of  killing the enemy; as it works out his ‘expended’ £2- sniper round split six ways equals 33.3 pennies for each dead Taliban.

The ‘Coldstreamer’ in question has saved the british tax-paying public a fortune; because it’s not very often you can get a ’round’ in for six people anywhere for less than £18- ;-) Yours Aye… 

Lieutenant Colonel Denis O’Leary. Obituary

timthumb.phpLieutenant-Colonel Denis O’Leary. Gallant officer who was four times decorated after fierce battles in the jungles of Burma and Malaysia In a career of vigorous active service that took him across the Far East from the jungles of Burma in the Second World War to the Indonesia confrontation with Malaysia in the mid-1960s, Denis O’Leary was decorated four times — twice with the Military Cross. As a young mortar officer with a regiment of the British Indian Army — the 6th Rajputana Rifles — he won his first MC in 1945 during fierce fighting against the Japanese in the advance to the Irrawaddy as part of the 19th Indian “Black Cat” Division. His second came two decades later, in 1964, when his company of Gurkhas, with whom he was then serving, fought a bitter battle with a group of Indonesians on the small island of Lobe in East Malaysia. He also won a military MBE fighting against lawless gangs of dacoits in the chaotic period in Burma after the end of the war, and was advanced to OBE in 1968 for his command of 1/7th Gurkha Rifles in Hong Kong during a difficult period of Beijing-inspired violence in, and border incursions against, what was then the Crown Colony.11th Indian Infantry Brigade Presidency Armies in British India

His younger colleagues, who met him as he moved around the Far East, were struck by his remarkable Irish fearlessness and humour. In the autumn of 1944, General Sir William Slim’s Fourteenth Army was closing in on the Irrawaddy river as it advanced across Burma, but the Japanese were fighting as tenaciously as ever. As mortar officer, O’Leary found that getting fire down quickly was crucially dependent on orders from the front. So he accompanied his battalion’s leading platoon in every action from mid-November until 19th Division reached the Irrawaddy opposite the town of Thabeikkyin on January 14, 1945. During fierce fighting on Pear Hill in the bridgehead on the other side of the river in February, he kept his mortars in action for eight consecutive days despite intense counter-bombardment fire. The citation for his first MC concluded “by his courageous example and skill he was responsible for inflicting heavy losses on the enemy”. Peace of a kind followed the Japanese surrender in Rangoon on August 28 that year, but armed Burmese gangs of various political persuasions still roamed the countryside. The 17th Indian Division therefore remained in the country to consolidate law and order as Burma approached independence. In co-operation with the “Patriotic Burmese Forces” it began a drive, in March 1947, to flush out the remaining gangs. O’Leary, by then commanding a rifle company of 3/6th Rajputana Rifles, received reports that two gangs, each up to 200 strong, had joined forces at a village on the eastern bank of the Sittang River.

He crossed the Sittang during the night with 50 men after swimming the river helped by two men to collect ferry boats from the far bank. Recognising that he was outnumbered, O’Leary placed cut-off positions on tracks leading from the village and, at dawn, ordered a long burst of fire into an anthill. The dacoits raced out of the village to be cut down by automatic fire. More than 30 were killed, 30 wounded and four taken prisoner for the loss of two and three wounded in O’Leary’s company. Wedding-photo-QARANC-Officer-and-Lieutenant-Colonel-Gurkha-Rifles

After a period in Hong Kong — where he met his future wife, Jan Tedstill, an officer of the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps, while visiting a soldier on her ward — O’Leary fought a bitter battle with a group of Indonesians on the small island of Lobe in East Malaysia during Indonesia’s confrontation with the new Federation of Malaysia. On information from a police informer that he had led the enemy to the island O’Leary set off with two platoons — and considerable private misgivings that the whole thing might be trap. His tactics were similar to those he had used against the dacoits in Burma. On this occasion, however, they resulted in what was later described as a “tough, untidy and uncomfortable little battle”. Lobe island was a hideous tangle of mangrove roots and black swamp. The enemy were alerted before the cut-offs got into position and fought with great tenacity. One of his platoon commanders was badly wounded and could not be recovered until O’Leary outflanked the Indonesians’ position with the rest of his group. On getting close, he heard moans of pain and shouted in Bahasa for the enemy to stand up and surrender. This elicited the piteous response, “We can’t, we are all dead.” One unwounded man-made a dash for it and was killed. All but one of the remainder were indeed dead.

Denis Oswald O’Leary had a lifelong affection for India. He had been born in Srinagar, Kashmir, the elder son of Lieutenant-Colonel M. P. O’Leary of the 6th Rajputana Rifles, and returned to India during his school holidays from Cotton College in Staffordshire. In later life he was a great collector of first day covers, regimental invitations and Christmas cards and also kept every letter written to him by his children and those he wrote to his own mother as a boy. After attending the Officers’ Training School at Bangalore, he was commissioned in the 6th Rajputana Rifles in 1943.Untitled9 Following Indian independence he was granted a commission in the Royal Artillery but sought secondment to the 7th Gurkha Rifles who had been selected for conversion to the artillery role. An increased demand for infantry due to the Malayan emergency led to the conversion being cancelled, however, and O’Leary went to Egypt with 26 Field Regiment RA. He felt more at home with Gurkhas than Gunners and was back with 1/7th Gurkhas in Malaya by 1952 and appointed adjutant. He achieved his boyhood ambition to command 1/7th Gurkha Rifles in the Colony in 1966-69.

Family life involved numerous moves around the Far East, as well as rugby and cricket in his spare time. He is survived by his wife and five children: Tim followed him into the 7th Gurkha Rifles and now works for a security company; Jane is married and lives in Ireland; Claire is an art teacher and lives in Yarmouth; Sarah lives in Portsmouth; and Kate is married to a recently retired RAF officer. After retiring from the Army 1979 O’Leary worked as a firing range liaison officer in Norfolk before settling in North Yorkshire and, latterly, Suffolk. Lieutenant-Colonel D. O. O’Leary, OBE, MC and Bar, commanding officer 1/7th Gurkha Rifles, 1966-69, was born on July 24, 1924. He died on March 13, 2014, aged 89.

‘THE GURKHA SOLDIER
BRAVEST OF THE BRAVE.
MOST GENEROUS OF THE GENEROUS.
NEVER HAD COUNTRY
MORE FAITHFUL FRIENDS
THAN YOU’

The legend on the Gurkha memorial is taken from the following quotation written by Sir Ralph Turner MC. A fitting tribute to Lieutenant Colonel Denis O’Leary.      Yours Aye.

“As I write these last words, my thoughts return to you who were my comrades, the stubborn and indomitable peasants of Nepal. Once more I hear the laughter with which you greeted every hardship. Once more I see you in your bivouacs or about your fires, on forced march or in the trenches, now shivering with wet and cold, now scorched by a pitiless and burning sun. Uncomplaining you endure hunger and thirst and wounds; and at the last your unwavering lines disappear into the smoke and wrath of battle. Bravest of the brave, most generous of the generous, never had country more faithful friends than you.” The words of Professor Sir Ralph Turner MC, who in WWI served with the 3rd Queen Alexandra’s Own Gurkha Rifles.

Thanks a bunch…

‘Banksy in the ranks-y: Prince Michael of Kent inspects female soldier at passing out parade… but fails to notice her rebellious ‘molotov cocktail’ tattoo on her lower outer calf.article-2575866-1C1D292B00000578-430_636x382

article-2575866-1C1B1E8E00000578-490_308x531The Prince was attending the passing out parade of soldiers from the 76 Maude’s Battery, Royal Artillery Pass Off Parade at Army Training Centre, Pirbright Surrey.
The young females soldiers tattoo is of one of the graffiti artist’s most iconic works – depicting a man, who appears to be in the middle of a riot, preparing to hurl a bunch of flowers as if it were a Molotov cocktail petrol bomb. More here: article-2575866-1C1D7BA000000578-533_634x423 Prince Michael of Kent inspects female soldier at passing out parade… but fails to notice her rebellious ‘molotov cocktail’ tattoo Looking at the photographs presented I would suggest that the female soldier in question is an instructor; through the obvious fact she is wearing two ‘brag rags’ (medals)! This alone suggests she has been in a while, and should know better than to have such a thing inked around her lower leg. In the insane PC world (and to avoid sexual discrimination) I believe it is frowned upon for a ‘jock in a frock’ (Scottish Regiment) to have any ink showing on a bare leg that may be exposed whilst wearing their tartan ‘frocks.’ (Jocks in their best frocks with not one dot of ‘ink’ exposed)1309700677-the-queen-presents-new-colours-to-the-royal-regiment-of-scotland_743110Equally so; neck and facial tattoo’s are banned through Britains Armed Forces, as is heavy tattooing of the backhand and forearm (and rightly so in my mind). I have said in the past that I quite enjoy tattooing in its art form, and that I carry ink about my person, which reflects my time and ‘incidents’ within the Royal Marines. However; I think the young lady in question has gone a ‘step’ to far , and methinks the printed story will bring forth its own repercussions.     Yours Aye.

Come on chaps, standards…

‘A gentleman uses a knife and fork’: Privately educated general bans SANDWICHES from officers’ mess to end ‘barbaric’ practice of ‘chaps’ eating with their hands…  A senior Army chief has proposed that soldiers should not be served sandwiches because ‘a gentleman or lady always uses a knife and fork’. In a memo addressing poor etiquette in the Army, Major General James Cowan also urged junior officers to ‘make an effort at conversation’ and said the key to a successful marriage was to ‘never to sit next to your spouse at dinner.’article-0-1C0C760200000578-277_306x423

The decorated soldier, who is in charge of 20,000 soldiers and 2,500 officers in 3 UK Division, mostly based at Bulford, also criticised poor grammar and writing, advising against the “wanton use of capitals, abbreviations and acronyms” because they can leave the reader exhausted.

The Major General wrote the three-page note to senior officers after noticing standards had slipped at Bulford barracks in Wiltshire. He said: ‘Quite a few officers in the divisional mess seem to be under the impression that they can eat their food with their hands. The practice of serving rolls and sandwiches in the mess is to stop. A gentleman or lady always uses a knife and fork.’ General Cowan, who went to the £33,000 a year Wellington College, then goes on to explain the correct way to use cutlery: ‘The fork always goes in the left and the knife in the right. ‘Holding either like a pen is unacceptable, as are stabbing techniques. The knife and fork should remain in the bottom third of the plate and never be laid down in the top half. 

Even though the note advises soldiers on correct manners, the proposal to stop serving rolls and sandwhiches left some troops ‘bewildered’. A third party who wished to remain anonymous said ‘Banning sandwiches and rolls is madness. This bloke is from a bygone age. The officers are bewildered.’ More Here:‘A gentleman uses a knife and fork’: Privately educated general bans SANDWICHES from officers’ mess to end ‘barbaric’ practice of ‘chaps’ eating with their hands  He would blow a gasket if he saw this below…Army McDonald's stop

British Army Scimitar crew orders at McDonald’s Heh-Heh…       Yours Aye.

Guardian Angel Stood to…

article-2562608-1B9F6D5700000578-685_636x382Shocking pictures and video from the mountains of Afghanistan show a 500-pound bomb dropped by U.S. aircraft land on a U.S. Army infantry observation post after the pilot mistook it  for a Taliban position. The dramatic video shows soldiers at the outpost watch the aircraft as it flew overhead. Seconds after there is a loud scream of incoming, followed by a huge detonation. The soldiers react with poise and shock amongst the chaos caused by the explosion, which fortunately happened slightly off centre of the OP. Thankfully, there were no casualties caused by what appears to be a ‘friendly fire’ incident created by pilot. Dramatic pictures & video here: Terrifying moment a US aircraft mistakenly dropped a 500-pound bomb on a US outpost-and everyone SURVIVED

Someones career just took a nose dive, no doubt the investigation will run all the way down to the ships cat! A fortuitous moment for all concerned, which sadly should never have happened with the amount of ‘failsafe’ systems in place. After note: If that was my O.P. I would be growling and chewing heads off for the amount of clutter and mess strewn around. Some one needs to get a grip…            Aye.

Birthday card for Mr. Percy Norton…

When Percy Norton came back from the Second World War, his injuries were so serious he was given just three months to live. But against all odds the father-of-two today celebrated his 100th birthday with a card from the Queen. 

article-2529911-1A4E47CC00000578-19_634x442The former butcher, from East Tuddenham, Norfolk, suffered injuries to his abdomen and spleen and was left with a partial lung after he was struck by a shell blast in Normandy, France. Norfolk man who was given just three months to live after being hit by a shell during the Second World War celebrates his 100th birthday

Happy Birthday Percy, and very well done for proving them wrong sixty-nine years ago.      Yours Aye.

R.I.P. Edward J. ‘Babe’ Heffron, Easy Company-Band of Brothers

avn120313aWe few, we happy few, ‘we band of brothers‘ For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother. Edward J ‘Babe’ Heffron, whose Second World War service as a member of the 101st Airborne famed Easy Company was recounted in the book and TV miniseries Band Of Brothers, has died, aged 90. ‘Babe’ Heffron died Sunday 1st December 2013, at Kennedy Hospital in Stratford, New Jersey, said his daughter, Patricia Zavrel. Foreground, ‘Babe’ Heffron (machine gunner). Rear George Luz

Geroge Luz & 'Babe' Heffron Easy Coy 506th PIR Airborne

As Private Heffron, he and the rest of his Band Of Brothers fought through some of war’s fiercest European battles starting with the parachute landings of Operation Market Garden. Although there are 20 surviving members of Easy Company, there are just four members of the original Band Of Brothers – all in their late 80s or early 90s. One of the last of Easy Company stands down: Second World veteran Edward ‘Babe’ Heffron dies at 90 after being immortalised in Band Of Brothers  Edward “Babe” Heffron, May 16, 1923 – December 1, 2013

 I want people to know we’re not heroes. We did our duty, just like sixteen million others who fought in the war. Everyone, including the families, sacrificed in some way. The kids who didn’t come home are the heroes. They’re the ones who gave their lives. Their parents are the heroes, because they gave a child.”    ‘Babe’ Heffron also appeared in the miniseries ‘Band of Brothers’ as an extra, in the scene of Eindhoven, from the Dutch episode.

tumblr_mx5e2hNoWp1qzxop4o1_500Pass friend, and stand down, you have done more than your share of duty.   Yours Aye.

Becoming a Military Linguist

Folks, as I still work the long hours of being deployed (no complaints), you might enjoy this email interaction I had with a prospective linguist as she looks to join the military:

So it started with a comment on the About page which I returned with:

You commented on my blog and I would be glad to answer any questions you had about being a Navy CTI (or the other branches for that matter.)

I enjoy the field immensely and like “talking” about it. . . I was an Arabic/French linguist, but am currently stationed in Japan.

And her questions:

Thank you so much for your willingness to talk with me about this.

I’m a 26-year-old college graduate with a degree in language (Latin
and Greek – useful, eh?) and I’ve been floating from job to job
halfheartedly since finishing school in 2010. I keep returning to the
idea that language is my one true passion, but I haven’t figured out
how to implement it professionally. I’ve at the same time been
developing a stronger interest in the military, and when I learned
that one can enlist as a linguist, I’ve been so thrilled at the
possibility. I do have an upcoming session with a recruiter, but given
that he will obviously be biased, I need all the advice I can get.

I’ve been told that I should enlist specifically with the army because
they’re the branch who will guarantee your placement as a linguist. Is
this the case? I’d like very much to ultimately work as an
interrogator, but I don’t really know the other routes that one can
take as a linguist. What did you do?

Also, I’m wondering about the experience of being a woman in this
position. I think we’re all familiar with the horror stories of women
being constantly assaulted – is this something that in your mind is
overplayed by the media, or is it as rampant a problem as we all hear?
As a man in the military, what are your thoughts on whether women
belong there? What have you observed about the general attitude on the
part of men toward their female counterparts in the service? Feel free
to be as un-PC as necessary :)

Lastly, what work opportunities are there for a linguist after your
term is complete? I’ve again read many horror stories about
high-ranking veterans failing to find work after leaving the
service….but it seems like there should be a fair number of options
for an American who speaks Arabic, no?

Honestly, anything you can tell me about your experience would be
extremely helpful.

Thank you, thank you!

I always get concerned when folks are joining the military with no good sources of inside information. They (understandably) have to rely on the press, who has an agenda of their own. My response:

Wow, okay! Let’s do this. I understand your position very well. I was a UC Berkeley grad when I enlisted and got a couple of raised eyebrows.

I understand your concern about recruiters. Don’t sign anything and you will be fine. I had a somewhat shady interaction with the Air Force recruiter; it really turned me off to that service.

I also love languages. I speak French and Arabic. The first I got when I was young and then I learned Arabic at DLI, the military’s school in Monterey, California. (I also took Greek in college. Kalimera!) I am stationed in Japan and tomorrow I go to my first Japanese lesson. Can’t wait. . .

You got bad gouge about the Army guaranteeing you a job. The Navy can too, provided you get it on paper. I entered the Navy with my job as a linguist guaranteed. The only thing that would have stopped me- if I had not passed my security clearance or had failed out of DLI. Trust me, I’ve seen both. It is a little scary, but you will be fine. (Provided you don’t have too many skeletons in your closet. . . (Grin.) One guy had a vindictive girlfriend who lied about him and drugs, so he never completed DLI.)

Ah, women in the military. Okay. Whatever you’ve heard was bs. Look, I am a Berkeley grad, so I think I have a little bit of an outside perspective that may grant a stranger a little credibility on the matter. It is nonsense that women get constantly assaulted. I will say, it is more dangerous being on a college campus, at frat parties, etc, than being in the military as a woman. Obviously, I am a man, so take my opinion as that. Sadly, there are folks who score political points by taking us down in this respect. Do women get assaulted? Yes, tragically. But at a lower rate, I would argue, than the civilian world. I would be glad to forward your email to friends of mine who are female. And you can hear it from them. . .

Do we joke around? Yes. It can be a little like a locker-room sometime. We are a different kind of job after all. Truthfully, the filthiest I’ve ever seen a Sailor/Officer in a group setting was a tie between two women officers. They were x-rated in their wardroom banter. It was kind of shocking, but no one said anything to them because they were female. That all said, thousands of female service members are fine. A couple of tips: Don’t get repeatedly, fall-down drunk with your shipmates. Don’t walk around in a bikini at parties. Etc. . .

Last thought on women: I really appreciate having females in the Navy. And on the ship. (Even subs if you guys want to. I certainly don’t want to be in one of those sinkers.) Trust me, the Navy is like a really cool, slightlllllllllllly miserable club where you work hard. Or sometimes, you completely screw off. (Don’t tell anyone about the last thing.)

As far as jobs go after the service, I am in for 20 or more. But there are plenty of opportunities for folks who speak languages. Google Titan, L3, SAIC, Booze-Allen-Hamliton, etc for military contractors offering job opportunities.

Interrogators? I ran the linguist shop down at Gitmo when Gitmo was Gitmo. You can go that path, but the Army seems to have a far more robust program than the Navy. My friends who did the job were known as 97Es. But now I think they may be known as 35Ms. It is an interesting facet of linguistics.

I’ll stop rambling. I think you have valid questions, but don’t buy the media bs about the military being hard on females. My boss right now is a female Commander and she would undoubtedly say that the Navy is a fair organization that values hard work, talent, and dedication. (Phew, I sound like a commercial.)

Let me know how I can help. Your three next steps are: visit the recruiter (Go Navy!), take the ASAVB, and then take the DLAB. (A test that sort-of “explores” your ability to learn languages.)

Can I post your email and my reply on my blog? I will eliminate any identifying material, of course. I think it can be helpful to other folks…

Take care and fire away with more q’s,

Ah, one of my favorite topics – joining the Navy. To be continued. . .

Flanders & Ypres iron harvest

Mustard gas blisters and the daily risk of death: Bravery of soldiers from still clearing the ‘iron harvest’ of World War I shells from beneath Flanders’ fields in Belgium.article-2497732-1954D4FB00000578-631_636x302The Belgian *DOVO  (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) teams collect and destroy mines and shells still active after a century. The fields around Flanders and Belgium are littered with tens of thousands of unexploded shells, some with deadly chemical weapons like mustard gas. The team is working tirelessly to clear as many mines as possible for the events marking the 100th anniversary of World War I next year. In 2012, 160 metric-tonnes of munitions were unearthed from Ypres, including small arms ammunition, stick grenades, and large-bore naval gun shells. Mustard gas blisters and the daily risk of death: Bravery of soldiers STILL clearing the ‘iron harvest’ of World War I shells from beneath Flanders’ fields  (*DOVO; Dienst voor Opruiming en Vernietiging van Ontploffingstuigen). Yours Aye.

The crew of the Fray Bentos

Corned beef, hard tack biscuits, and sweetened tea (fortified with strong rum prior to going over the top), the staple diet of those who fought in the trenches of the First World War. And not just any old ‘corned dog’, but the finest money could buy ‘Fray Bentos’. The irony of which was not lost on the Tank Corps crew, who named their tin can accordingly.article-2445626-188B7CA000000578-520_634x400The Incredible bravery of WWI tank crew who survived 72 hours of being bombarded by Germans and their OWN side while stuck in no mans land ‘Trapped in their overturned tank, just metres from the German trenches, Captain Donald Richardson and his crew already faced an impossible situation. But, after three days of attack from their enemies, the brave men in charge of the Mark IV tank were plunged into even greater danger when their British allies started bombarding them as well, to destroy the tank before the Germans could get it. Astonishingly, though, all but one of the soldiers survived the impossible odds, armed with just pistols and a single rifle, managing to escape the death trap to become the First World War’s most decorated tank crew’. WWI Tanks were first called ‘Land-Ships’article-2445626-188B7A3700000578-401_634x475The Tank Museum in Bovington, Dorset, holds some of the original ‘tanks’ from all sides, as well as an eclectic collection shown in their exhibitions that have been brought back from around the globe from every battle fought since WWI. Quite an awesome place to visit, even for an Ex Bootneck… I have never fancied the life of a ‘Tankie’ in any of the Royal Tank Regiments, or the Royal Armoured Corps, more so after seeing the damage done to one by a HESH round (aka the strawberry jam round)! Brave lads one and all. Yours Aye.