Can you tell it’s dove season in the South?

A few days ago, these several pallet displays of low brass 12 gauge shells by the case were five-to-six feet high and squared-off. Then, dove season hit this weekend.

Of note, if you haven’t gone on a Deep South dove hunt in September– which is often done with your best friends over a corn or soybean field while wearing shorts and flipflops and debating everything from the moon landing to politics– you haven’t lived the Southern experience.

Loading up to go see a bridge, 75 years ago today

Paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division loading aircraft for Holland, 17 Sep 1944:

Part of the epic First Allied Airborne Army, the 82nd, along with the 101st, the British 1st Airborne, as well as later Polish and other Allied units, was to make a daylight combat jump in what is still the largest airborne operation of all time, Market Garden.

SGT David Webster, E Co 2nd/506th PIR, 101st Airborne, “A Complete Wardrobe for the Holland Tourist, Sept 1944” 

Men of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment during Operation Market Garden, 17 September 1944. Note the patch has been obscured by censors. 

101st Airborne Division troops that landed behind German lines in Holland examine what is left of one of the gliders that cracked up while landing.  

The paratroopers and their follow-on glider-borne infantry/artillery were to clear and hold the myriad of bridges in the Eindhoven–Arnhem corridor across the Netherlands while the British XXX Corps, a mechanized unit, was to come up and quickly relieve and reinforce them.

Of course, not all goes as planned…

Farewell, Lata

You wouldn’t know it by looking at her, but this humble police patrol boat has seen a lot.

When the British assumed control over the Solomon Islands in 1889, they recruited a small force of local police under what later became known as the Solomon Islands Protectorate Armed Constabulary. Never a very large organization, it was equipped with a modicum of surplus Martini-Henry rifles and later Short-Magazine-Lee-Enfields. During WWII, the force assisted first the Royal Australian Navy’s Coastwatchers and later the U.S. Marines, with Constabulary Sgt. Maj. Jacob C. Vouza, a 25-year veteran of the force, pitching in with both and earning a silver star (presented to him personally by MG Alexander A. Vandegrift), a George Medal, and becoming a knight of the KBE.

Sir Jacob Charles Vouza, an Island scout and local police sergeant major, in his USMC HBT fatigues, wields a captured Japanese sword.

Post-war, the constabulary became the British Solomon Islands Protectorate Defence Force and was requipped in the 1960s with SLRs (inch-pattern semi-auto-only FALs) and Sterling SMGs. After independence in 1978, the force was renamed the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force.

In 1983, the new country formed its de facto blue water navy/coast guard in the form of a single 82-foot GRP-hulled patrol boat, RSIPV Savo (02). Then, in 1988, came new Australian-built 103-foot Pacific Forum-class patrol boat RSIPV Lata (03) followed by her sistership, RSIPV Auki (04), in 1991. Mounting a pair of .50-cal Brownings to go along with a small arms locker, they carried a crew of 20, large enough to send a 6-10 man landing force ashore when needed. Alternatively, they could also transport a squad-sized element of the RSIPF’s Special Operations guys, should they be needed.

Lata and Auki were instrumental in cracking down for the first time on poaching vessels from Vietnam, China and elsewhere who were encroaching on the Solomon’s EEZ. Other missions, like destroying masses of encountered UXO and mines left over from WWII, tangling with pirates and rustling smugglers, were constant.

Then came the Solomons civil war in 1999 between the so-called Malaita Eagle Force (MEF), along with its allied Solomon Islands Field Force, and the Guadalcanal Revolutionary Army, which boiled and simmered in the archipelago until international involvement in 2003. Lata had the unenviable record of being seized in June 2000 by the MEF, who sailed the patrol boat around Guadalcanal and turned her .50 cals on rival forces near the capital of Honiara.

Eventually, a multi-national force headed by Australia moved in and disarmed not only all of the rebel groups but the police as well.

Fast forward to this month and Lata, now aged 31, is being put to pasture. Her armament today is restricted to some Glocks and other small arms. Her crew this week lowered her white ensign and sailed her back to Australia for retirement. 

She is being replaced by a new 130-foot Guardian-class patrol boat later this year under the Australian Regional Defence Cooperation Program while Auki will be replaced in 2023. A new, longer wharf is being created at the country’s Maritime Aola Base to operate the larger vessels.

A bell lost, a bell found, a bell talked about, a bell returned

On the 75th anniversary of D-Day, we highlighted the lost Operation Neptune minesweeper USS Osprey, which went down in the early morning of 6 June 1944, clearing a way for the invasion fleet.

In that Warship Wednesday, we covered that her bell had apparently been recovered sometime around 2007 and gave a lead to the dive op that may know more about it.

Well, one thing led to another and, after the post was shared, the NHHC got involved and, as noted by the BBC:

The US authorities contacted the UK coastguard when pictures of the ship’s bell appeared on the internet.

An investigation was launched by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency when it was established the bell had not been reported to the receiver of wreck.

Acting receiver Heloise Warner said the agency “put the word about” that it was searching for the bell and it was subsequently left anonymously at an undisclosed location last month.

“It’s absolutely fantastic that such a poignant part of our history is back in our possession,” she added.

Osprey’s bell via MCA

It is expected the NHHC will soon take possession of the recovered bell.

Bravo Zulu, guys, and, as always, thanks for sharing! Let’s continue to save history together.

A hearty toast to those lost on Osprey, who will never be forgotten so long as their names are still written:

  • Lieutenant Van Hamilton
  • Seaman 2nd Class John Medvic
  • Fireman 1st class Walter O’Bryan
  • Quartermaster 2nd Class Emery Parichy
  • Motor Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Joseph Vanasky, Jr
  • Motor Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Cleo Whitschell

You know the AR-15, but what about the AR-1? How about the AR-9?

The “AR” in each case does not stand for “assault rifle” as those who are uninformed often think. It is, in fact, short for Armalite, the firearms company that employed a generation of incredible forward-thinking gun designers, engineers, and inventors including Eugene Stoner, Charles Sullivan, Charles Dorchester, Arthur Miller, Daniel Musgrave, Robert Fremont and even the great Melvin Johnson (inventor of the M1941 Johnson rifle series).

Established in the early 1950s as a division of the Fairchild Airplane Corporation, the latter perhaps most famous today for their A-10 Warthog tank buster attack plane, Armalite leveraged aviation industry’s advances and applied them to firearms. Their engineers registered some of the first firearm patents incorporating foamed plastics in both stocks and handguards, aluminum receivers, self-lubricating alloy gun barrels, folding synthetic buttstocks, and other developments.

Before the original Armalite company tanked in 1983, they made it from the AR-1 to the AR-180, with lots of interesting stops in between to include bolt-action rifles, 22s, and even shotguns.

A better look at the whole AR lineage in my column at

Remembering the Battle of the Atlantic

In an effort to commemorate the upcoming 75th anniversary of the end of the Battle of the Atlantic next May and the Royal Canadian Navy’s role in that epic U-boat war, the Canadian Admiralty has authorised a special paint throwback paint scheme to be carried by the Kingston-class coastal defence vessel HMCS Moncton (MM708) and the Halifax-class frigate HMCS Regina (FFH-334).

As noted by the RCN, “These historical paint schemes provide a wonderful opportunity to honour the sailors of our past, embrace the sailors of our present, and look ahead to our bright future.”

Kingston-class coastal defense vessel HMCS Moncton (MM708), in her new livery

During WWII, Canadian vessels escorted over 181 million tons of cargo across the pond, sinking 27 German U-boats in the process as well as accounting for a further 42 Axis surface ships. In return, the Canadians lost 24 ships of their own during the war, along with 1,800 men with hearts of steel. Among the Canadian vessels sent to the bottom was the Flower-class corvette HMCS Regina (K234), torpedoed by U-667 off the coast of Cornwall while the brave escort was busy rescuing survivors of the American Liberty ship Ezra Weston. Regina sank in just 28 seconds, taking a third of her crew to the deep with her.

This, naturally, makes the choice of today’s Regina to carry “the old colors,” a memorable one.

Flower-class corvette HMCS REGINA (K234) circa 1942 – 1943, prior to her WWII loss.

Melting pot, 101 years ago today

Official caption: “Foreign-born soldiers made citizens, Washington, D.C. Sept 13, 1918. Group of naturalized soldiers, the following are represented: L-R: Front Row Armenian, Austrian, Russian Pole, Greek, Italian, Danish. Back row: Russian Jew, Turk Portuguese, German, Italian, French.”

Photographed by Pvt. Vincent L. Palumbo NARA 165-WW-74G-027

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