JADE HELM 15: US TROOPS TO “OPERATE UNDETECTED AMONGST CIVILIAN POPULATION”  The “realistic” military training exercise, which will involve the Green Berets, Navy Seals, and the 82nd Airborne Division, is set to take place from July September 2015, but has prompted concerns after Texas and Utah were labeled “hostile” territory in documents related to the exercise. Role players to practice infiltrating towns during controversial exercise amongst civilian population  Paranoia, or genuine concern?

As this isn’t happening in dear old Blighty – I just wondered if you good people across the pond should be concerned over what is really happening with exercise JADE HELM 15. It’s not as if you can’t trust the POTUS and the team of advisors that surround him (typed using the ‘very heavy sarcasm’ keys) After all; Russia, North Korea, China, and Venezuela have been doing the very same for several years or more… My interest is genuine.      Yours Aye. 

Colonel Tim Collins; “Argentina wouldn’t dare”

Argentina wouldn’t dare to invade the Falklands again, says Colonel Tim Collins.  The Telegraph Saturday 28th March 2015.
What struck me about the Falkland Islanders on the several occasions when I served there during my army career was their warmth and their disarming generosity. That is not to say relations are always completely rosy between the islanders and the garrison that more than matches their numbers. The local joke goes “How do you make 4,000 people happy in the Falklands? Send 2,000 home”. The simple truth is that Falkland islanders just want to be left alone. But that is not likely to happen. Their jealous neighbour covets their tiny farms whilst using the islands as a convenient distraction from Argentina’s many domestic woes. With the news that the Russians are contemplating leasing 12 long-range bombers to Argentina, it would appear that the military threat to the Falklands is still very real. So what could and should the UK be doing to reassure the islanders and deter the aggressor?


We first have to analyse what is happening and why. What are the real intentions of the Argentines? A glance at the state of Argentina provides the answer.
The discredited president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, is the subject of a number of criminal allegations. She has been accused of money laundering and tax evasion.
Only last week she was cleared by an Argentine appeals court of covering up the alleged involvement of senior Iranian officials in a 1994 bomb attack against a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires.

 The allegations were based on a 350-page dossier compiled by special prosecutor Alberto Nisman. Nisman died in unexplained circumstances in January: he apparently shot himself – in the back of the head. His family believes he was murdered. Following his mysterious death, hundreds of thousands of people marched in silence in the Buenos Aires rain to pay tribute to him.

A controversial figure, and the subject of some ridicule in Latin America, Kirchner followed her husband to power in a series of governments that have presided over the collapse of the Argentine economy. I recall when I visited Colombia and Peru in 2012, working with the governments there, that there was much speculation about Madam Kirchner’s operation for suspected thyroid cancer. She had shown no signs whatsoever of illness. One official noted: “When you get a biopsy done on both sides of your neck at once here, we call it a face-lift.” It is to distract from the incompetence of her government, that Kirchner frequently wheels out the unjustifiable claim on the Falkland Islands. Despite a 2013 referendum in which the islanders voted to remain a British Overseas Territory – 1,513 to 3, with a turnout of more than 90 per cent, Kirchner dismisses them as squatters. Ironically, they have been there far longer than her own family have been “squatting”, to use her term, in southern America. Her grandparents were born in Spain and Germany.ck1

So what would the addition of the Russian aircraft mean to the Argentine military? In my opinion, their impact would be negligible. The aircraft in question – Sukhoi SU 24s (NATO designation ‘FENCER’) – are old ladies with distinctly dated capabilities. They entered service with the Soviet Union in 1974 and were familiar to me when I served in Berlin in 1982. Those nations where they are still in service – for example Iran, Sudan and Kazakhstan – are not major air powers.

There are other problems for the Argentine Air Force. It still has not recovered from losing one-third of its strength in the Falklands War. Its inventory includes a number of second-hand A4 Sky Hawks – which proved easy pickings for the Royal Navy Harriers – and 60s era French Mirage fighters. Furthermore, the force’s leadership is suspect. Kirchner sacked the top 17 air force generals in 2005 for involvement in drug trafficking.
Also, consider the fact that the Sukhoi deal is superb for Russia. In exchange for some ancient junk, the Russians would get shipments of beef and wheat – circumventing the EU sanctions imposed over its involvement in the Ukraine conflict whilst sticking two fingers up to the UK for our criticism of that involvement (Putin himself compared Russian stance on Ukraine with the UK stance on the Falklands).

However, the Fencers could have the range to get to the Falklands and back if unopposed – unlike the rest of the Argentine Air Force, with only the A4s being capable of air-to-air refuelling and with only two tanker aircraft being available.
So, if the deal went through and, more seriously, if Argentina’s attempts to procure 24 Saab Gripen fighters – modern Swedish aircraft – through an order place by Brazil are successful, then the Argentines would have – on paper at least – a credible threat to the tiny islands. 

But only on two conditions; First they would need to be able to pay. Whilst Russians would swap for beef and wheat, the Brazilians would require hard cash. Argentina’s defence budget is 0.9 per cent of an economy that shrunk 2 per cent last year. Her defence spending outstrips only that of Suriname in the region – and Suriname is the smallest sovereign state in South America. Secondly; they would have to get past the Royal Navy, the Royal Air force and then survive the Army’s Star Streak missiles.

Getting past the Royal Navy would be a challenge. In the South Atlantic, the Royal Navy deploys at least one of the new Daring Class Type 45 destroyers. Doesn’t sound much; but with each one capable of tracking up to 1,000 targets from 400Km simultaneously and engaging up to 300 targets in layers from 120 km to 30 km (provided the targets are larger than a tennis ball) simultaneously, it is the equivalent of 5 Type 42 destroyers of the type used in the Falklands War. In effect, if all the serviceable attack aircraft in all of Latin America – including Cuba – were attacking the Falklands, a Type 45 could cope comfortably.

Then there are the four Typhoons based in the Falklands. With a combat radius of 100 miles, they would far outperform anything that would come their way with the exception of the Gripens. The Gripens – slower, with a lower service ceiling, and less thrust than the Typhoons – would, in numbers at least, stand a chance against the Typhoons.
But then they have to avoid the Star Streak missiles. Built in Belfast, Star Streaks travel at more than Mach 3 – three times the speed of a SU 24. My money would be on the Star Streaks.

For the sake of argument, what if the Royal Navy was accounted for by the Argentine Navy? With 17 war ships, including four destroyers, and three submarines the Argentines have again – on paper – a threat to the Royal Navy and the Falklands. But, again, that is where the threat ends. On paper. The bulk of the navy is confined to port because of a lack of spares and engine problems. The ships’ on-board ordnance is past its sell-by date. There isn’t even the money for petrol to run the engines. One of the corvettes, Spiro (P 43), is out of service having run aground. So is one of the elderly submarines, Santa Cruz. The Submarine fleet has achieved a grand total of 19 hours of submerged training since 2012 against a minimum requirement of 190 days.

Training is very poor. The list of disasters is endless. The Sarandi – one of the destroyers – managed to damage the Brazilian Frigate Rademaker by firing on her during joint naval exercises, injuring four Brazilian sailors and an Argentine observer when her fire control system went haywire. The Destroyer Santisima Trinidad capsized and sank at anchor due to poor maintenance. And that is all before the Type 45s even turn on their defence systems against ships up to 40 years old and with the RN’s submarine fleet not even considered. 

In a nutshell, I’m not sure what the fuss is about. I wouldn’t worry about the knackered old Fencers. They need to be maintained and we know that is one capability gap in the Argentine military. Of course, we do need to keep up a strong defence – and that means we must maintain the two per cent spending required by NATO – if the peaceful farmers on the wind wept islands are to continue to live their bucolic ideal and Kirchner’s rhetoric is to remain just that. But let the Russians have their little jibe. I hope they enjoy the beef.

It is my most humble opinion that Colonel Tim Collins would make a an excellent politician – it is hoped one day he chooses to throw his hat into the political arena. A fine honest Irishman with a rod of iron for a backbone…   Yours Aye.

High tech Vs ISIS cave dwellers

Boeing patent reveals plans for Star Trek-style FORCE FIELD: Device would protect vehicles and buildings from explosion shockwaves. A force field that can protect vehicles from the destructive blast-waves thrown out by explosions is being developed by aircraft manufacturer Boeing.boeing patentThe company has been granted a patent for a device that appears to work like the fictional shields seen in science fiction movies like Star Wars and Star Trek. The system works by using an ‘arc generator’ to rapidly heat the air in front of a shockwave creating a cloud of electrically charged gas. The ‘arc generator’ uses lasers, microwaves or electric current to ionise the air in front of the shockwave so it deflects & reflects energy from the explosion

This in addition to; The ARMOUR that can repel direct incoming fire: 
British military scientists have been working on a new type of armour designed to repel incoming fire from vehicles. The armour, developed by researchers at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) would use pulses of electrical energy to defelct rockets, shrapnel and other ammunition that might damage a vehicle. Engineers behind the technology claim it is possible to incorporate supercapacitors into the body of a tank or armoured personnel carrier to turn it into a kind of giant battery.defence-science-and-technology-laboratory-dstl-testing-electric-armour-740x555

When incoming fire is detected, the energy stored in the supercapacitor can be rapidly dumped onto the metal plating on the outside of the vehicle, producing a strong electromagnetic field that creates a momentary forecfield capable of repelling incoming metal. If timed correctly, the scientists behind the technology say it could help to prevent rocket propelled grenades and shells that detonate on impact from reaching their target. (DSTL), testing electric armour on an armoured personnel carrier at one their test range facilities


Meanwhile in the ‘wannabe’ Caliphate: ISIS militants destroy ancient artefacts using dated technology… And there we have it – the writing is on the wall for ISIS to take heed, that is, unless they have already destroyed the wall. Their end is nigh – their destruction is overdue! Yours Aye.

Who Dares Wins ~ By Strength And Guile

SAS/SBS quad bike squads kill up to 8 jihadis each day, as allies prepare to wipe IS off the map: Daring raids by UK Special Forces leave 200 enemy dead in just four weeks.     Stock pictures used are not SF…article-2845668-2369450F00000578-441_964x424SAS/SBS troops with sniper rifles and heavy machine guns have killed hundreds of Islamic State extremists in a series of deadly quad-bike ambushes inside Iraq, The Mail on Sunday can reveal. Defence sources indicated last night that soldiers from the elite fighting unit have eliminated ‘up to eight terrorists per day’ in the daring raids, carried out during the past four weeks. Until now, it had been acknowledged only that Special Forces were operating in a reconnaissance role in Iraq and were not involved in combat. But The Mail on Sunday has learned that small groups of SF are being dropped into IS territory in RAF Chinook helicopters – to take on the enemy.

Take it with a pinch of salt, pepper, sugar, or even snuff… But they have been in their mixing it up for quite a while now (as are their brothers in arms from across the pond, as well as the boys divided by the Tasman Sea.) Always go to bed with a smile on your face; unless you’re an ISIS/ISIL/IS call sign…      Yours Aye.

‘INVICTUS’ Resilient Wounded Warriors

The Invictus Games LONDON. Opening Ceremony 10th September 20141410376506029_wps_65_LONDON_ENGLAND_SEPTEMBER_ WHO INVICTUS EXISTS FOR: Invictus Games competitors are the men and women who have come face-to-face with the reality of making a sacrifice for their country. They are the mothers, fathers, husbands and wives who put their lives on the line and suffered life-changing injuries. These people are the embodiment of everything the Invictus Games stands for. They have been tested and challenged, but they have not been overcome. They have proven they cannot be defeated. They have the willpower to persevere and conquer new heights.8385661905_fe24151ff6_o-1024x682

The Invictus Games are about survival in the face of adversity and the strength of the human spirit. They will send a positive message about life beyond disability. Over 400 competitors from 13 nations will take part in the Invictus Games, an international sporting event for wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women. Teams will come from the Armed Forces of nations that have served alongside each other. The Games will use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation, and generate a wider understanding and respect of those who serve their country.

The event, which is championed by Prince Harry, will be a celebration of resilience and passion. The Games will shine a spotlight on Armed Forces personnel and veterans who have put their lives on the line for their country demonstrating how they and their families are valued, respected and supported. For competitors, it will offer a memorable, inspiring and energising experience in their journey of recovery.1410378342713_Image_galleryImage_LONDON_ENGLAND_SEPTEMBER_

‘Their stories are as amazing as they are unique’ Prince Harry’s speech in full…

‘Over the past eight years, I have witnessed the whole cycle of life changing injury; evacuating soldiers and local Afghans to hospital; flying home from Afghanistan with some of those critically injured; meeting others in hospital coming to terms with life changing injuries; and finally trying to keep up with 12 wounded veterans on our way to the South Pole. ‘I can only begin to imagine how challenging the journey of recovery is, but the admiration I have for these men and women, to move beyond their injuries, is limitless. ‘Last year, through The Royal Foundation, I visited the Warrior Games in the United States.Prince Harry

‘Seeing people who, only months earlier, had been told they’d never walk again, now winning medals in front of their family and friends was breathtaking. ‘I knew that anyone would be inspired by what these men and women had achieved, not just other servicemen and women, but all those adjusting to life post injury. ‘Each of them have come such a long way; even making it to the start line is a huge achievement. Their stories are as amazing, as they are unique. ‘However, they all share one thing – sport. Sport has been the vehicle for their recovery, allowing them to channel their passion into what can be achieved, rather than what can’t. ‘No longer are these inspirational men and women defined by their injury but as athletes, competitors and team mates. ‘Over the next four days we will see some truly remarkable achievements.

For some of those taking part, this will be a stepping stone to elite sport but for others it will mark the end of a chapter in their recovery, and the beginning of a new one. ‘Either way, you can be sure that, everyone who takes to the track, pool or field of play will be giving it their all. ‘I have no doubt that lives will be changed this weekend. ‘It gives me great pleasure to welcome the 13 nations to London and to say how delighted I am that many of you are joined by your families, recognising the vital party they play in your recovery. ‘The British public’s support for our servicemen and women has been exceptional; I know they will show you the same over the coming days. ‘Finally, I would like to thank you for the tremendous example you set. Your stories move, inspire and humble us. You prove that anything is possible, if you have the will. ‘Welcome to the Games. Welcome to Invictus.’

* More than 400 competitors
* A total of 13 countries represented – alongside the UK team will be competitors from the US, Denmark, Estonia, France, Italy, Canada, Netherlands, Australia, Afghanistan, Georgia, New Zealand and Germany.
* Four days of competition.
* Competitions are taking place in nine adaptive sports: athletics, swimming, power-lifting, indoor rowing, sitting volleyball, road cycling, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and archery.
* Five venues, including those used during the 2012 London Olympic Games
* An audience of 5,000 is expected for Wednesday’s opening ceremony at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Parkhttp://invictusgames.org


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley 1875team-hill

This man is the epitome of a wounded warrior. “Reconnaissance Marine Corporal Todd Love – wounded in Afghanistan, proceeds to skydive, surf and run the spartan race with a gas mask, no legs and one hand.”  They say that ‘the greatest casualty is being forgotten.’ Let us never forget their sacrifice…  Yours Aye.

B.Z. Prince Harry – done and dusted in six months…

Whats in your Ration Pack-MRE?

Just a few meal selections taken from military ration packs – meals ready to eat, from various countries around the world.     The best has been saved for last…1-620xSpain. The Spanish lunch pack has cans of green beans with ham, squid in vegetable oil, and pate. There is also a sachet of powdered vegetable soup, peach in syrup for dessert and crackers handed out to go with the meal in place of bread (not shown). There is a disposable heater with matches and fuel tabs, as well as lots of tablets: Vitamin C, glucose, water purification, and rehydration.2-620xU.S. Almond poppy-seed pound cake, cranberries, spiced apple cider (the hot US non-alcoholic drink) and peanut butter and crackers make up this very American meal package. The main – pasta with vegetable “crumbles” in spicy tomato sauce – is less traditional, but the “flameless heater” shows off American tech skills – just add water to the powder in a plastic bag and it heats up enough to warm the plastic meal pouch.3-620xNorway. The Norwegian pack has American technology (the flameless heater) but British tastes. There is Earl Grey tea, beans and bacon in tomato sauce, a golden oatie biscuit and Rowntree’s Tooty Frooties.4-620xItaly. The Italian ration pack contains a breakfast shot of 40% alcohol cordial, a powdered cappuccino, lots of biscotti, and a disposable camping stove for heating parts of the meal, including a pasta and bean soup, canned turkey and a rice salad. Dessert is a power sport bar, canned fruit salad or a muesli chocolate bar.5-620xAustralia. The Australian ration pack has more small treats than any of the others. Most of it is packaged by the military, from a serving of love-it-or-hate-it Vegemite to jam sandwich biscuits and a tube of sweetened condensed milk. The bag includes a can-opener-cum-spoon for getting at the Fonterra processed cheddar cheese, and main meals of meatballs and chilli tuna pasta. There are lots of sweets and soft drinks, and two unappetising-looking bars labelled “chocolate ration”.6-620xGreat Britain. The British pack is dotted with familiar brands from Kenco coffee and Typhoo tea to a mini bottle of Tabasco. The main courses include the British favourite, chicken tikka masala, and a vegetarian pasta. There’s also pork and beans for breakfast, and lots of sweets and snacks from trail mix to an apple “fruit pocket” that looks like it might not be out-of-place in a school lunchbox. Plus packets of Polos and, of course, plenty of teabags.7-620xEstonia. Stuffed peppers, chicken-meat pâté, smoked sprats, and liver sausage with potatoes make an eclectic menu here. Plus, crispbreads on the side, and halva with vanilla for dessert. Breakfast is muesli, a fruit pocket and honey.8-620xCanada. While there are Bear Paws snacks in the Canadian ration pack, there’s the shocking omission of maple syrup. You have the choice of salmon fillet with Tuscan sauce or vegetarian couscous for the main meal. There is also the makings of a peanut butter and jelly (raspberry jam) sandwich for breakfast.9-620xGermany. The German ration pack contains several sachet’s of grapefruit and exotic juice powder to add to water, and Italian biscotti, but also more familiar treats such as liver-sausage spread and rye bread, goulash with potatoes, and for breakfast sour cherry and apricot jams.10-620xFrance. A streamlined but sophisticated French ration pack offers soldiers deer pâté, cassoulet with duck confit, creole-style pork and a crème chocolate pudding. There is also a disposable heater, some coffee and flavoured drink powder, muesli for breakfast and a little Dupont d’Isigny caramel.11-620xSingapore. The offerings in the Singapore pack were sparse despite its reputation for high-quality cuisine. There were a paltry three dishes, of Szechuan chicken noodles; a mushroom, basil, rice and chicken dish; and soya milk with red-bean dessert.Russki ration packimagesRussia. Things have improved drastically since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Each ration box now comes with 6 litres of Vodka, as opposed to just 2 litres of siphoned jet fuel soaked in black bread.              OK so I made this one up ;-)

And there we have it. No doubt a little bit of ‘this and that’ selected from each countries ration-pack would actually form some thing acceptable, and possibly palatable for a while. Though you would have a fight on your hands trying to take the Russkies vodka. “Nazdaróvye!”      Yours Aye.

Sarah Lee and David Levene theguardian.com, Tuesday 18 February 2014 18.26 GMT

4th August 1914 Britain declares war on Germany

showpic2.php4th August 1914. Britain declares war on Germany. On the 9th of August the British Expeditionary Force embarked for France. By the standards of Continental European armies, the BEF was, in 1914, exceedingly small. Whereas at the beginning of the war the German and French armies numbered well over a million men each, divided into eight and five field armies, respectively, the BEF initially numbered only about 80,000 soldiers divided into two Corps.

Unlike the largely conscript armies of Germany and France, the BEF was an entirely professional force made up of long-service volunteer soldiers. As a result, the BEF was, on balance, probably the best trained and most experienced of the European armies of 1914. Pre-war British Army training emphasized rapid marksmanship, meaning that the average British soldier was able to hit a man-sized target fifteen times a minute at a range of 300 yards with his standard issue .303 Lee-Enfield rifle. This ability to pour out rapid, accurate rifle-fire would play an important role in all of the BEF’s battles of 1914. The BEF Landing in France, August 191450997The Battle of Mons was the first action of the British Expeditionary Force in the First World War. It was a subsidiary action of the Battle of the Frontiers, in which the Allies clashed with Germany on the French borders. At Mons, the British army attempted to hold the line of the Mons-Condé Canal against the advancing German First Army. Although the British fought well and inflicted disproportionate casualties on the numerically superior Germans, they were eventually forced to retreat due both to the greater strength of the Germans and the sudden collapse and retreat of the French Fifth Army, which exposed the British right flank. Though initially planned as a simple tactical withdrawal, and executed in good order, the British retreat from Mons ultimately lasted for two weeks and took the BEF to the outskirts of Paris before it was finally able to counterattack, in concert with the French at the Battle of the Marne.I140131_124351_393762oTextCS_55452746

The first contact between the two armies occurred on 21 August, when a British bicycle reconnaissance team encountered a German unit near Obourg. One of the cyclists, Private John Parr, was killed, thereby becoming the first British fatality of the war.Private-George-E-Ellison 

Private G.E. Ellison was the last British soldier registered as ‘Killed In Action.’ His death occurred 30 minutes before the arranged Armistice ceasefire on the 11th November 1918.  Their graves lie opposite each other  in Belgium’s Saint Symphorien cemetery, which is an ­extraordinary coincidence – but their stories illustrate the monumental horror of the war.Graves-of-the-first-last-British-soldiers-to-die-in-World-War-OneSt. Symphorien Military Cemetery: John Parr’s headstone is in foreground while that of George Ellison is on the extreme right. Pure coincidence, yet some how poignant. 

The first substantial action occurred a day later, on the morning of 22 August. At 6:30 a.m., the 4th Dragoon Guards laid an ambush for a patrol of German Lancers (4th Cuirassiers of the 9th Cavalry Division) outside the village of Casteau, to the northeast of Mons. When the Germans spotted the trap and fell back, a troop of the Dragoons led by Captain Hornby gave chase followed by the rest of his squadron, all with drawn sabres.4DG-CasteauThe retreating Germans led the British to a larger force of German Lancers, who they promptly charged at. Captain Hornby became the first British soldier to kill an enemy in the Great War, fighting on horseback with sword against lance. After a further pursuit of a few miles, the Germans turned and fired upon the British cavalrymen, at which point the Dragoons dismounted and opened fire. Drummer Edward Thomas is reputed to have fired the first shot of the war for the British Army, hitting and killing a German trooper.GermansAdancingAtMonsGerman Infantry advancing in their massed formations at Mons. The first major Battle of Mons opened at dawn on 23 August with a German artillery bombardment of the British lines. Understanding that the salient formed by the loop in the canal was the weak-point of the British defences, the Germans focused their primary efforts on attacking the British there throughout the day. At 09:00hrs, the first German infantry assault began, with the Germans attempting to force their way across the four bridges that crossed the canal at the salient. Four German battalions attacked the Nimy bridge, which was defended by a single company of the 4th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, as well as a machine gun section led by Lieutenant Maurice Dease.     War Artists impression of the assault of Nimy bridgearticle-2171109-13FE16E4000005DC-484_634x439Advancing at first in close column – “parade ground” formation – the Germans made nearly unmissable targets for the well-trained British riflemen (who were evidently making hits at over 1,000 yards (910 m), and were mown down by rifle, machine gun, and artillery fire. Indeed, so heavy was the British rifle fire throughout the battle that the Germans thought they were facing batteries of machine guns. The Brandenburgers suffered some 3,000 casualties including one of the Battalion Commander’s of the 3rd (Fusilier) Battalion, Major Praeger. These casualties had been inflicted by the 300 or so British infantrymen who defended the Mons – Condé Canal bank at St Ghislain. 640_brodie-luckyAs summer dragged on so did the endless trenches across France and Belgium; this war was never going to be over by Christmas. My Great Grandfather fought at Mons where the British army wore the khaki cloth peaked cap, which was not only ‘de rigueur’ it was the only head-dress issued for the period. After much discussion and ‘harrumphing’ by senior British military officers (“it will turn the men soft”), the initial version of the ‘Brodie’ steel helmet was issued for active service in ‘April 1916′ at the Battle of St Eloi. Where initially there were nothing like enough helmets to go round, so they were designated as a ‘trench store’ to be kept in the Front Line and used by each unit that occupied the sector. It was only by the summer of 1916, when the first million Brodies had been produced that it could be regarded as general issue. Brutal trench warfare forced technology to develop, though it did so at a slow pace, as each development was met with hissing disapproval by the British top brass. As the months turned to years, the same top brass ‘donkeys’ were led out to pasture. Lions were no longer led by donkeys…

Over one hundred years of military quotes since the declaration of WWI was read out, yet surely not one can match the mis-quote invented by writer H.G. Wells, made famous by President Woodrow Wilson ‘This is a war to end all wars’      Yours Aye.

British soldiers’ kit; 1066 through to 2014

Inventories of war: British soldiers’ kit from 1066 through to 2014. On a winter’s day in 1915 the family of one Captain Charles Sorley – athlete, soldier and poet – received a package. It was his kit bag, sent home by his regiment from the Western Front, where Sorley had been killed, aged 20, at the Battle of Loos. Out of this bag came a life abridged: personal effects, items of uniform and a bundle of papers, from which emerged his now famous sonnet When You See Millions of the Mouthless Dead. A new photographic survey of military kit throughout the ages now illustrates that curious combination. Photographer Thom Atkinson has recorded 13 military kit issues for his ‘Soldiers Inventories’ series. Army-hastingS_2994153k1066. Huscarl, Battle of Hastings. ‘The Anglo-Saxon warrior at the Battle of Hastings had an extensive choice of weaponry.’          Click on each pic to enlargearmy-jerusalen_2994154k1244. Mounted Knight, Siege of Jerusalem. Re-enactment groups, collectors, historians and serving soldiers helped photographer Thom Atkinson assemble the components for each shot. ‘It was hard to track down knowledgeable people with the correct equipment,’ he says. ‘The pictures are really the product of their knowledge and experience.’army-agincourt_2994156k1415. Fighting Archer, Battle of Agincourt. Having worked on projects with the Wellcome Trust and the Natural History Museum, photographer Thom Atkinson has turned his focus to what he describes as ‘the mythology surrounding Britain’s relationship with war’.army-bosworth_2994163k1485. Yorkist Man-at-Arms, Battle of Bosworth. ‘There’s a spoon in every picture,’ Atkinson says. ‘I think that’s wonderful. The requirement of food, & the experience of eating, hasn’t changed in 1,000 years. It’s the same with warmth, water, protection, entertainment.’army-tilbury_2994165k1588. Trained Bands Caliverman, Tilbury. The similarities between the issued kits are as startling as the differences. Notepads become iPads, 18th-century bowls mirror modern mess tins; games such as chess or cards appear regularly.army-naseby_2994167k1645. New Model Army Musketeer, Battle of Naseby. Each kit represents the personal equipment carried by a notional common British soldier at a landmark battle over the past millennium. It is a sequence punctuated by Bosworth, Naseby, Waterloo, the Somme, Arnhem and the Falklands – bookended by the Battle of Hastings and Helmand Province.army-malplaquet_2994170k1709. Private Sentinel, Battle of Malplaquet. Atkinson says the project (which took him 9 months) was an education. ‘I’ve never been a soldier-It’s difficult to look in on a subject like this & completely understand it. I wanted it to be about people. Watching everything unfold, I begin to feel that we really are the same creatures with the same fundamental needs.’army-waterloo_2994172k1815. Private Soldier, Battle of Waterloo. Kit issued to soldiers fighting in the Battle of Waterloo included a pewter tankard and a draughts set.army-alma_2994174k1854. Private Soldier, Rifle Brigade, Battle of Alma. Each picture depicts the bandages, bayonets and bullets of survival, and the hooks on which humanity hangs: letter paper, prayer books and Bibles.army-somme_2994148k1916. Private Soldier, Battle of the Somme. While the First World War was the first modern war, as the Somme kit illustrates, it was also primitive. Along with his gas mask a private would be issued with a spiked ‘trench club’ – almost identical to medieval weapons.army-arnhem_2994176k1944. Lance Corporal, Parachute Brigade, Battle of Arnhem. Each photograph shows a soldier’s world condensed into a pared-down manifest of defences, provisions and distractions. There is the formal (as issued by the quartermaster and armourer) and the personal (timepieces, crucifixes, combs and shaving brushes).Royal Marines-falklands_2994178k1982. Royal Marine Commando, Falklands conflict. From the cumbersome armour worn by a Yorkist man-at-arms in 1485 to the packs ‘yomped’ into Port Stanley on the backs of Royal Marines five centuries later, the literal burden of a soldier’s endeavour is on view.army-helmand_2994181k2014. Close-Support Sapper, Royal Engineers, Helmland Province. The evolution of technology that emerges from the series is a process that has accelerated over the past century. The pocket watch of 1916 is today a waterproof digital wristwatch; the bolt-action Lee-Enfield rifle has been replaced by laser-sighted light assault carbines; and lightweight camouflage Kevlar vests take the place of khaki woollen Pattern service tunics.

A picture paints a thousand words, and I take my cap off to photographer Thom Atkinson for researching and producing the above over nine months, that was storied in todays British newspaper ‘The Telegraph’         Yours Aye.

Utter Incompassionate Barstewards

Pentagon to pink slip thousands of soldiers including some still serving in Afghanistan as part of spending cuts. Thousands of U.S. military, many still serving in the deadly war zones of Afghanistan, will be laid off as the Pentagon enforces mandatory spending cuts.iNIgBO_KQxn4Fox News reports that roughly 2,600 captains and other officers will receive ‘pink slip’ letters with even more expected to be let go after that. The controversial move is part of a larger plan to reduce the number of U.S. soldiers from 520,000 to 450,000, said Defense Department officials. The decision to lay off soldiers in active combat has been called not only bad for morale but outright dangerous. ‘It puts the soldier, the soldier’s family and the men under his command at risk,’ said retired Major Gen. Robert Scales, who is now a Fox News contributor. ‘Young officers look at each other and wonder who is next. Pentagon to pink slip thousands of soldiers

I have a good mate who received his ‘ticket’ for civvie street whilst serving in Afghanistan, which was totally unexpected, and then he had to crack on as though nothing had happened. Had he not been made of firmer stuff it could well of ruined him; having just taken on a mortgage with a newborn on the way what must have gone through his mind?Border-Wall

Well dear American friends, here is the solution to the problem with the border that Obama  has failed to fix. The good soldiers who have been pink ticketed could very well take on the role, a semi-military border force requiring hot experienced personnel will resolve the nightmare. So some one tell the top brass to stop giving away the mighty military vehicles to the country’s police forces, there could soon be a real force to be reckoned with, and they know how to use the machines correctly!                                                   Yours Aye.     Every pink ticket recipient is a nail in Obama’s coffin.

IDF ‘knock on the roof’

‘Knock on the roof,’ this is how it’s done! Video filmed at Bureij, Gaza, shows small mortar round hitting roof of building to warn inhabitants of imminent attack. Prior to striking a building in the Gaza Strip, the IDF warns its inhabitants using a procedure called “Knock on the roof,” in which forces fire a small mortar at the target to indicate the imminent attack and signal those inside to flee before hitting it with full force. knock knockIn this instance the mortar was fired on the home of Hamas rocket unit head ‘Ayman Siam’ at the Bureij refugee camp; a short while afterwards the missile that almost destroyed the structure, shows how the ‘knock on the roof’ procedure works. ‘Knock knock!’ ~ “Who’s there?” ~ ‘Ivan!’ “Ivan who?” ~  ‘I’ve an in coming missile for Ayman Siam!’ 

I doubt it would be a mortar round hitting the target as accurately as that, as Bureij is one and a half miles from the Israeli border with this particular building sat within a lower profile of those surrounding it. I’ve known some good ‘Mortar Fire Controllers’ in my time, and they would struggle with such a fire mission in a built up area (unless this round was laser guided via a drone) that said, the Israeli Defence Force does lead the field in such technology. More than likely a small inert rocket with a black impact chalk head, fired from the same drone that delivered its big brother shortly after! Either way, being the head man of the HAMAS rocket unit certainly attracts some well deserved attention!  B.Z. IDF     Yours Aye.

Operation Sutton of Operation Corporate

HMS Fearless (The Mighty Lion) L10 LPD: Assault Ship and Commando Carrierstandard-1 As I pixilate this post it is 23:59 hrs British Summer Time, which makes it 19:59 hrs local time on the Falklands Islands. Around about the same time 32 years ago I had just returned from a full and final Commando briefing on the tank deck of HMS Fearless, conducted under the red light of a darkened ship. Having spent the previous eight hours being re-briefed (briefings changed almost constantly through up to date intelligence sent back from SBS land op’s) as well as preparing and checking weapons and equipment; enforced rest was the final command of the day. The call to assault stations was a mere 6 hours away.


The same bed-space for 4 days was an arctic sleeping bag on a bed roll on the deck of a landing craft in a dry dock, as the whole ship corkscrewed with the heavy Atlantic swell; quite a change in surroundings since cross decking from the luxury of SS Canberra. Within 8 hours the very same landing craft would form part of 3 Commando Brigade’s assault, delivering my Commando Unit to a beach on San Carlos waters, the Falkland Islands.standard Truth be known I was not a happy chap, which had nothing to do with the mammoth task that lay before us; it was nothing in comparison with the mission I now found myself about to undertake. In my absence someone had ‘proffed’ the book I was reading, with only the last short chapter to finish! The assault ship and every Marine within her would be assaulted if JRR Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ did not turn up upon request. Fortunately it did (misplaced and kindly returned), which allowed for a pleasant assault the following morning as dawn broke. Down ramp, and out into the bitter cold waters of San Carlos.img092‘Following the tradition of the Commando’s of WWII on D-Day; 3 Cdo Bde showed their contempt for the enemy that morning by wearing their Berets of green when they took the beaches; moving inland to commence with the task of re-taking of the islands.’

San Carlos 21 may 82

The start of a long hard ten week adventure.

Yours Aye.

Those ‘Known Unto God’

article-2580854-1C4996F400000578-727_636x411Twenty British WWI heroes are finally given full military funeral in France 100 years after they were killed during Battle of Loos. Twenty British soldiers killed during the First World War were today laid to rest near the battlefield where they died nearly 100 years ago. The bodies were discovered in 2010 near during clearance work for new buildings near Vendin-le-Vieil, north of Arras in France. All of the men died at the Battle of Loos in 1915, today they were buried at the Dud’s Corner, a cemetery run by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission located in the town of Loos-en-Gohelle.article-2580854-1C498BF500000578-637_964x541The only one to have been identified by name is Private William McAleer, 22, from the 7th Battalion the Royal Scottish Fusiliers, whose step-great-nephew Stephen McLeod was present at the ceremony. Among the other soldiers who died during the fierce battle were a Northumberland Fusilier, another six Royal Scottish Fusiliers and a member of the York and Lancaster Regiment. The 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland accorded military honours to the men as they were buried, with the unidentified soldiers commemorated as ‘Known unto God’. Pte McAleer’s coffin was given his own burial plot, with his headstone reading ‘13766, Private W. McAleer Royal Scots Fusiliers, 26th September 1915, age 22′. The remainder were buried in six other plots side by side. article-2580854-1C4988A900000578-566_964x544Family above: Stephen McLeod, the step-great-nephew of Private McAleer, was present to watch his ancestor buried. Mr McLeod, a former soldier with the Black Watch, said he had not known how Private McAleer died.article-2580854-1C4B119700000578-72_964x547‘All were Killed In Action.’ A lone ‘Piper’ from the battalion plays a lament for the dead during the service.

More hereTwenty British WWI heroes are finally given full military funeral in France 100 years after they were killed during Battle of Loos Devastation below: The attack in Loos happened simultaneously as the French attacked the German lines at Champagne and at Vimy Ridge in Arras.article-2580854-1C43AFD200000578-237_964x481article-2580854-1C49888900000578-828_964x460

We little thought when leaving home

That he should ne’er return;

And now he lies in a soldier’s grave,

And leaves us all to mourn.

Had I but seen him at his last,

Or watched his dying breath.

Or heard the last sigh of his heart

Or held his aching head.

Sleep on dear son, in a foreign grave,

Your life for your country you nobly gave,

No friends stood near you to say good-bye,

But safe in God’s keeping now you lie.

Nameless his grave on the battlefield gory,

Only a cross on a mound of brown earth;

Died in the pride of his youth and his glory,

Far from his home and the land of his birth.

Sleep on dear son, in a far off land,

In a grave we shall never see;

But as long as life and memory last,

We shall remember thee.

Finally… Rest In Peace wee bonnie lads, now you will never be forgotten. Yours Aye.

Filmed as it happened…

article-2563909-1BB8205900000578-222_636x382  The American military’s attempt to enlist the film industry’s help, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor brought the U.S. into the war, began as the brainchild of a few senior officers. Directors such as John Ford, Frank Capra, John Huston, George Stevens and William Wyler had already shown that they could win the people.article-2563909-1BAD08A300000578-626_634x410

At 6.30am on June 4, 1942, film director John Ford, a three-time Oscar winner, hunkered down on the concrete roof of the power station on Midway Atoll, one of a cluster of tiny North Pacific islands roughly halfway between the California coast and Tokyo. The 48-year-old and his crew, equipped with 16mm cameras and hundreds of feet of Kodachrome colour film, were preparing to shoot. But this was a blockbuster unlike any he had filmed before.WWII ATTACK ON PEARL HARBORAs Ford watched from his tower, with its unobstructed views across the island and far out to sea, a swarm of Zeroes, the Japanese Imperial Navy’s long-range fighter planes, began to fill the sky over the Pacific. He and his team started shooting film as soon as the first formation approached. Then, as he later reported, ‘hell started to break loose’. ‘The planes started falling – some of ours, a lot of Jap planes,’ Ford said. ‘One [Zero] dove, dropped a bomb and tried to pull out, and crashed into the ground.’ Ford saw the Zeroes dive-bombing at objectives like water towers. He had his camera trained on the hangar as a Zero dropped a bomb from 50ft. ‘The whole thing went up.’ MORE HEREHow an elite squad of Hollywood’s greatest directors recorded the bravest – and bloodiest – actions of World War II  Yours Aye.

Carry on! Carry on!

Alfred_Theodore_Joseph_Bastien_-_Canadian_Gunners_in_the_MudIt’s easy to fight when everything’s right,
And you’re mad with the thrill and the glory;
It’s easy to cheer when victory’s near,
And wallow in fields that are gory.
It’s a different song when everything’s wrong.
When you’re feeling infernally mortal;
When it’s ten against one, and hope there is none,
Buck up, little soldier, and chortle:

Carry on! Carry on!
There isn’t much punch in your blow.
You’re glaring and staring and hitting out blind;
You’re muddy and bloody, but never mind.
Carry on! Carry on!
You haven’t the ghost of a show.
It’s looking like death, but while you’ve a breath,
Carry on, my son! Carry on!

And so in the strife of the battle of life
It’s easy to fight when you’re winning;
It’s easy to slave, and starve and be brave,
When the dawn of success is beginning.
But the man who can meet despair and defeat
With a cheer, there’s a man of God’s choosing;
The man who can fight to Heaven’s own height
Is the man who can fight when he’s losing.

Carry on! Carry on!
Things never were looming so black.
But show that you haven’t a cowardly streak,
And though you’re unlucky you never are weak.
Carry on! Carry on!
Brace up for another attack.
It’s looking like hell, but – you never can tell;
Carry on, old man! Carry on!

There are some who drift out in the deserts of doubt,
And some who in brutishness wallow;
There are others, I know, who in piety go
Because of a Heaven to follow.
But to labor with zest, and to give of your best,
For the sweetness and joy of the giving;
To help folks along with a hand and a song;
Why, there’s the real sunshine of living.

Carry on! Carry on!
Fight the good fight and true;
Believe in you mission, greet life with a cheer;
There’s big work to do, and that’s why you are here.
Carry on! Carry on!
Let the world be the better for you;
And at last when you die, let this be your cry:
Carry on, my soul! Carry on!          

Robert William Service