Author Archives: laststandonzombieisland

Late Valentines, courtesy of The Black Watch

A Valentine Mk I/II tank with the earlier two-man turret, carrying infantry of the Black Watch, North Africa, March 1943.

Armed with a 40mm main gun and a .303 machine gun, around 8,000 Valentines were produced, making it the most numerous tank in British Army history. Photo by McLaren (Lt), No 2 Army Film & Photographic Unit. Imperial War Museum photo IWM NA 1670, colorized by Monochrome Spectre. 

The image was captured north of Gabes, Tunisia, and specifically shows the 5th (Angus) Battalion, Black Watch Highlanders aboard a tank of the 23rd Armoured Brigade. In the Tunisian Campaign, the latter brigade served as an independent armored formation under XXX Corps, with Monty’s Eighth Army, and fought in most of the battles of the campaign.

The above image could be the same tank seen in the below shot:

A Valentine tank of the 23rd Bde’s 50th Royal Tank Regiment carries infantrymen of the 5th Battalion, Black Watch, March 1943. IWM NA 1139

Formed originally in 1939 with only a handful of light vehicles– a few cranky old armored cars– by November 1941 the 23rd Bde would be armed with three battalions of early Valentines (120) and a company (18) of Matilda IIs, which it would take to North Africa to fight Rommel.

Shortly after the above images were snapped, the “Liver Bird” brigade would be pulled from the line and re-equipped with Lend-Leased American-made M4 Shermans that it would soon put to good use in Italy and Greece.

As for the 5th Black Watch, part of the reformed 51st Highland Division, they fought as leg infantry at El Alamein, Mareth, and Wadi Akarit, landed in Sicily, got their feet wet again in Normandy on or shortly after D-Day, on 6 June 1944, and continued into Germany, crossing the Rhine in March 1945.

As both the Angusmen and the Liver Birds were Territorial units, VE Day soon brought disbandment.

21st-Century Visual Aircraft Recognition

Spotted on a Ukrainian coastal craft recently:

Besides the normal MiGs and Sukhois, note the assorted drone silhouettes.

Of note, the U.S. has donated 62 “coastal and riverine patrol boats” to Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict with Russia. Presumably, these are all small enough to be carried in via Eastern Europe from Poland and Romania via rail (under 89 feet) and truck (under 53 feet).

Last year, it was disclosed that at least 20 of those were 36-38 foot aluminum hulled boats from Metal Shark in Alabama. 

Speaking of which, the Department of Defense this week quietly posted the latest, 34th, drawdown from DoD inventories for Ukraine since August 2021 which is valued at up to $350 million. Big ticket items include HIMARS rockets, 155mm artillery rounds, 25mm cannon ammunition, 81mm and 60mm mortar rounds, grenade launchers, demo equipment, more riverine patrol boats, thermal sights, and other gear. Also included were additional small arms– classified as .50 caliber BMG and under– along with associated ammunition.

Overall, this brings the total of American military assistance to Ukraine to more than $33.2 billion since the beginning of the Biden Administration took office– roughly the cost of three new Ford-class supercarriers. By comparison, Ukraine spent just $5.9 billion on its entire military in 2021.

When it comes to the running tally of equipment transferred from U.S. stocks to Ukraine this year, more than 150 million rounds of small arms ammunition have been allocated along with 232 pieces of artillery and over 2 million shells. Add to this over 1,600 Stinger anti-aircraft missile systems, 8,500 Javelin tank killer missiles, and 58,000 “other anti-armor systems.”

The full list, as of March 20, is below:

Old School Cool: If John Wick was Set in 1983

With “John Wick: Chapter 4” scheduled to be released this week, I thought it would be interesting to show just how far the tactical-practical shooting concept has come in the past 40 years. If you go with the aspect of mid-1980s staples, I came up with a list of pro-tips and mods from yesteryear that often still make their rounds today.

More in my column at

Is that a Reising in a matching Frogskin jump case? I think so…

Warpath Military Collectibles in Fayetteville, North Carolina has this absolutely amazing Harrington & Richardson Arms Inc WWII USMC Paramarine Model 55 Reising SMG with its “Frogskin” camouflage padded jump case.

I’ve always been a fan of the Reising as the humble carbine saw extensive service both in its SMG and semi-auto formats not only with the Marines but also with the Navy and Coast Guard.

Reisings in USMC service during WWII: Marine Navajo Code Talkers with one of the SMGs front and center, Marine Sgt. Michael Strank with an M55 at the ready, and a Marine guard at FDR’s Shangri-La retreat– now Camp David– with a slung M50.

No word on how much WMC wants for theirs as they don’t have it listed yet apparently (just teased), but they have my attention.

‘For the Queen and old Ireland’, 1900

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

For your consideration, courtesy of the National Army Museum, a photogravure after Frank T Copnall (1890-1942), 1900. Published as a supplement to ‘The Spear‘, 1900, of a tough-as-nails Irish soldier in the Queen’s Army during the campaigns against the Boer:

NAM. 1973-12-55-1

As noted by the NAM:

With the exception of the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards, which was stationed in India between 1894 and 1906, all the Irish regiments of the Regular Army served in South Africa during the Boer War (1899-1902). In appreciation of the services rendered by Irish regiments in the defence of Ladysmith, Queen Victoria authorized the wearing of the shamrock by all Irish regiments on 17 March 1900 and on St Patrick’s Day in all succeeding years.

Even after the great separation in 1922 and the disbanding of six regular Irish regiments in the British Army, today, the force still has numerous units with a Celtic identity including the Royal Irish Regiment (R IRISH) amalgamating the 27th Inniskilling, 83rd, 87th, and The Ulster Defence Regiment; the newly reformed The Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry (SNIY), “A” (Liverpool Irish) Troop within 208 (3rd West Lancashire) Battery, 103 Regiment; and, of course, the “Micks” of the Irish Guards.

Besides heavy frontline service in both World Wars, the Irish Guards have been best known for…well, guarding (Photos: MOD Crown Copyright)

And with that, how about a great cover of As I Roved Out, an Irish take on the classic tale of the Trooper and the Maid.

NATO’s From the Sea Option

NATO recently released a decent little 10-minute sizzle reel highlighting the alliance’s sea soldiers. It includes Dutch Korps Mariniers and the newly-reformed German Seebataillon Marines in Scotland, the Portuguese Corpo de Fuzileiros on the rivers of Lithuania (still keeping it old school with HK G3 battle rifles and Zodiacs), Royal Marine Commandos training in Norway with their interesting 32-foot ORC (Offshore Raiding Craft) jetboats, and the U.S. Marine Corps, which exercises across the European continent.

So whether you call them Devil Dogs, Bootnecks, Schwarzen Teufel, or Fuzos, odds are, some of your favorite guys who operate from 10 fathoms inward are covered.

And, in a companion piece, the USMC themselves just put out a 10-minute hype video on the future Fleet Marine Force.



Omar’s Pistols Headed Home

Cue the “That Belongs in a Museum” memes, authorities have managed to recover and return dozens of rare collectible guns– some priceless– to the institutions from where they were stolen.

The pieces all went mission in the 1970s, back when security was lax in most public museums, and all that was needed was a big screwdriver and a flashlight to pull off a low-risk burglary.

In all, some 50 items, some dating to the French and Indian War, were returned to 17 institutions located in five states. 

Among the more interesting items recovered were: 

  • An 1847 Mississippi rifle stolen from Beauvoir in Biloxi, Mississippi.
  • World War II battlefield pickup pistols– a Luger and a Walther PPK– once owned by General Omar Bradley, stolen from the U.S. Army War College in 1979.
  • Assorted 19th-century flintlock rifles stolen from Pennsylvania museums.
  • An early Colt Whitneyville Walker revolver, valued at $1 million, stolen from the Connecticut State Library.
  • 18th-century English and Scottish pistols stolen from the Valley Forge Historical Society Museum.
  • A Volcanic pistol stolen from Pennsylvania’s Hershey Story Museum.
  • A rifle from the Daniel Boone Homestead in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania.

A huge Colt Whitneyville Walker revolver (bottom row with CT tag) was taken back to its home state. A powder horn (center right) dating to the French and Indian War was stolen from a Belchertown, Massachusetts, museum in the 1970s. The Walker PPK and Luger in the top right corner had been donated by Gen. Omar Bradley to the Army War College in Carlise, Pennsylvania. An exceedingly rare Volcanic pistol stolen from the Hershey Museum is to the bottom right. (Photo: FBI)

More in my column at

Is that a Messerschmitt in your backyard?

So while doing construction at a residence on the island of Malta, contractors started hitting metal while digging around.

And this is what they found.

As detailed by the Malta Aviation Museum:

With paint markings and W.Nr 8668 still very clearly visible, it was no great feat to figure the history of this Erla-built Messerschmitt Bf109 F4Z. The history of the crash in a nutshell is that it was hit by flak during a sortie on the 1st of April 1942 while being flown by Unteroffizier Hans Pilz of 5.JG3..

Warship Wednesday, March 15, 2023: Of Skis, Retired Admirals, and Tons of Gold

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1954 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, March 15, 2023: Of Skis, Retired Admirals, and tons of Gold

Jean Manzon/ECPAD/Défense, Réf MARINE 257-3588

About we see a scene from the deck of the French croiseur auxiliaire (auxiliary cruiser) Ville d’Oran (X5) in which famed alpine skier Maurice Lafforgue– who competed in the 1936 Winter Olympics and won two silver medals at Chamonix in 1937– showing his skis to a bachi-clad French sailor. The date is mid-April 1940, and Lafforgue is suited up in the traditional “Blue Devils” uniform of France’s elite mountain troops. At the time, Ville d’Oran was carrying the 13e Bataillon de Chasseurs Alpins (13e BCA), a proud unit that dated to 1853, to Norway as part of the Corps Expéditionnaire Français en Scandinavie with the doomed goal of kicking the Germans out.

But first, happier beginnings

Sunny Mediterranean travel plans

A paquebot in French parlance, Ville d’Oran and her sister ship, the logically named Ville d’Alger, were short-trip ocean liners ordered in 1935 from Société Provençale de Constructions Navales at La Ciotat for the Cie Gle T (Compagnie Generale Transatlantique) line– the same folks that owned the Normandie.

At some 10,172 tons (GRT) and 461 feet in length, they were not ocean crossers but were instead built for express service between Marseille to Algiers– a run of just under 500 miles that the turbine-powered passenger liners could make in just over 19 hours, or Marseille to Oran in 25.

Capable of carrying as many as 1,100 passengers arranged in four classes (Deluxe, Priority, Tourist, and Deck) as well as a modicum of dry and refrigerated goods, the sisters enjoyed a fair bit of enjoyable peacetime service, complete with a full white, black and red livery and false second funnel to give the illusion of extra grandeur. Indeed, for the upper-class passengers, there were very well-appointed dining rooms and elegant smoking lounges as well as both open and closed promenade decks.

A Cie Gle Transatlantique poster with the 25-hour Marseille-to-Oran promise, a 615 statute mile run which required an average speed of at least 21.37 knots to achieve.

Alas, we are not here to talk of sedate peacetime seaside travel.


Following the outbreak of WWII, Ville d’Alger was requisitioned by the French Navy for use as a troopship while her sister, our Ville d’Oran, was given a quick makeover to become an auxiliary cruiser, one of 12 such conversions ordered by the Navy in September-October 1939.

Under the command of one Capitaine (de Frégate) Roqueblave, Ville d’Oran had her false second funnel removed, received a coat of grey paint, five Canon de 138 mm Modèle 1910 naval guns in shielded single mounts, and 16 13.2mm Hotchkiss M1929 AAA guns. Her pennant number was X5 while the rest of the French auxiliary cruisers used similar numbers ranging from X01 to X20.

ECPAD images of Ville d’Oran headed for Norway with French mountain troops aboard in April 1940, showing her M1910 5.46″/55 guns.

Sailors serving a Hotchkiss M1929 light anti-aircraft piece on the bridge of the Ville d’Oran. These air-cooled guns ran a 13.2x96mm shell from 30-round box magazines at a correspondingly slow rate of fire– just 200 rounds per minute. ECPAD NAVY 211-2921

After such a quick refit, Ville d’Oran was assigned to RADM Jean-Emmanuel Cadart‘s (Ecole Navale 1903) 1re Division de Croiseurs Auxiliaires (DCX) along with three other converted liners– his flagship El Djézaïr (X17, 2400t, 7x138mm), El Kontara (X16, 5079t, 2x75mm AA), and El Mansour (X06, 5079t,2x75mm AA)– all of a similar speed.

RADM Jean-Emmanuel Cadart, whose prewar penultimate assignment had been as captain of the battleship Bretagne, had capped a 36-year career in March 1939 by moving to the reserve list as a rear admiral. His retirement lasted six months.

The mission of Cadart’s force, from October 1939 until March 1940, was simply to backfill the French Mediterranean fleet to cover units transferred to the Atlantic and, in doing so, keep one eye out for German blockade runners while using the other eye on the movements of (then neutral) Italian warships.

Headed to Norway

Then, 1er DCX was called up to the big leagues in late-February 1940 as part of the French effort to bring assistance to Finland during that country’s Winter War with the Soviets. However, as the Finns and Russians signed an uneasy peace on 12 March, the expedition soon morphed into an effort to occupy Norwegian ports and strategic mines to preempt a German invasion aimed at doing the same. This effort, too, would have to be morphed as the Germans struck first, launching Operation Weserübung to occupy Denmark and Norway on 9 April– beating the French, Free Polish, and British to the punch by days.

The relief force sent to dislodge the Germans from Norway, as far as the French go, consisted of the light cruisers Emile Bertin and Montcalm, six destroyers (along with three Free Polish tin cans), three large torpedo boats, Cadart’s four auxiliary cruisers (which would carry troops as well as provide muscle), the submarines Rubis and ORP Orzeł, and a further 20 transports and cargo ships. Of the 38,000 Allied expeditionary troops sent to Norway in April 1940, over two-thirds were French and Polish.

Ville d’Oran and her sister, the unarmed Ville d’Alger, would carry the 5e Demi-Brigade de Chasseurs Alpins (DBCA) of Brig. Gen. Antoine Béthouart, consisting of the 13th, 53rd, and 67th BCA, as well as other brigade and division assets. Laffourge, the Olympian in the top photo, was a member of the brigade d’éclaireurs-skieurs (ski recon) company.

There are several captivating photos of the trip to Norway aboard Ville d’Oran, including lots of shots of their dogs.

With the Germans already in possession of every decent harbor and airstrip in the country, the British and Franco-Polish troops eschewed the heavily-defended (and populated) south Norway and instead landed in the center and north of the country around rural Narvik, Aandalsnes, and Namsos. It was the last small port (pop. 3,000) where Gen. Bethourart’s 5e DBCA would be landed by Ville d’Oran and Ville d’Alger, with the 2,500 French alpine troopers assigned to support Mauriceforce, British Maj Gen. Carton de Wiart’s 146th Infantry Brigade, which began landing at Namsos, 70 miles north of Trondheim, on 14 April.

Sadly, as the harbor facilities at Namsos were not capable of handling 10,000-ton ocean liners, most of the heavy cargo– including 5e DBCA’s mules, artillery, and skis– could not be unloaded. Further, with the Luftwaffe committing over 300 land-based tactical fighters and bombers to the fight and the Kriegsmarine supplying the battlecruisers Gneisenau and Scharnhorst along with almost 40 U-boats to the region, the Allies could neither count on control of the air or sea off Norway. The French task force only carried a handful of 5- and 6-inch guns as a talisman against the potential damage from the 11-inchers carried by Gneisenau and Scharnhorst and was woefully lacking in AAA guns.

After two weeks of withering on the vine, 5e DBCA/Mauriceforce at Namsos would leave everything larger than a rucksack behind and be evacuated by Allied destroyers coming in danger close under a rain of bombs by German Ju 87 Stukas of I./StG 1, with the French losing the Guépard-class destroyer Bison and the British losing the Tribal-class destroyer HMS Afridi (F07) on 3 May in the process. The destroyers transferred 1,850 French and 2,354 British troops to Cadart’s four-pack of auxiliary cruisers and the whole force headed back home from Scandinavia– just as the war in the Lowlands was fixing to heat up.

The Fall of France

Sailing for Brest, Cadart’s little squadron of converted liners, Ville d’Oran included, could do little but patrol as the German blitzkrieg crashed through Luxembourg, Belgium, and Holland and into Northern France, trapping the British Expeditionary Force along with the French First and Seventh Armies along the coast around Dunkerque by the end of May. Ordered to help pull off the “Miracle” there, 1er DCX pitched in with the Allied flotilla that ultimately was able to evacuate 338,000 Allied troops.

Then, with Paris under direct threat, the French government needed something other than soldiers moved to safety.

The Banque de France’s reserves at the time included 1,777 tons of gold that belonged to the Republic. Added to this were another 230 tons of Belgian and Polish gold, as well as 200 cases stored for the National Bank of Switzerland.

In late May, the carrier Béarn and training cruiser Jeanne-d’Arc sailed for Halifax with 299 tons of gold on board.

Ville d’Oran was detailed, escorted by the torpedo boat Le Hardi, to sail for Casablanca at top speed with 212 tons of gold bars and coins, arriving there on 9 June and transferring the precious cargo to the vaults of the Banque de l’Afrique Occidentale. She then rushed back to Brest.

This still left a huge chunk that could possibly fall into German hands. With that, some 1,260 tons of gold were rushed to the Fort de Portzic, near Brest, via a military convoy.

The light cruiser Emile-Bertine, also just returned from the Norway fiasco, left in early June with another 254 tons of gold, which would ultimately arrive at Fort-de-France in the overseas Caribbean colony of Martinique.

The cruiser Primauguet likewise left for Casablanca with a smaller, 11-ton, shipment.

Meanwhile, the ocean liner Pasteur left Brest with 213 tons of gold which it unloaded at Halifax for storage with the Royal Bank of Canada.

Working around the clock over three days, between 16-19 June, paroled sailors from the French Navy brig at Brest helped load 16,201 boxes and bags of gold– carried from Fort de Portzic by garbage trucks– on the recently returned Ville d’Oran as well as three of Cardet’s other auxiliary cruisers just returned from the Dunkirk evacuation: El Djezair, El Kantara, and El Mansour.

Loading the gold at Brest

The ships left for Casablanca with nearly 750 tons of gold and were met while underway by the auxiliary cruiser Victor-Schœlcher (X07, 4500t, 2x75mm AAA) with another 6,000 cases of gold from the banks of Belgium (200 tons) and Poland (71 tons) aboard.

This five-vessel convoy, under Cadart’s flag, arrived at Casablanca on 23 June– the day after the Frenc Armistice that knocked the country nominally out of the war– carrying a whopping 1,021 tons of gold between them. In one of the last gasps of the French Third Republic, an order was flashed to Cadart to pull up anchor for Dakar in the colony of Senegal, which was thought to be more secure as the country was still at war with the Italians (until 27 June) and the Vichy government had yet to be formed.

Pulling into Dakar safely on 28 June with their cargo intact, Cadart’s sailors helped transport the massive gold reserve 45 miles inland to the Army stronghold at Thiès. From there, it could be placed on boxcars of the Dakar–Niger Railway and be spirited even further inland another 600 miles to Koulikoro in French Sudan (now Mali) if needed. Koulikoro was also conveniently located on the Niger River, thus allowing even further access to anywhere in West-Central Africa at little notice. In short, neither the Germans nor the Allies were going to lay hands on it any time soon.

With this last service to the old Republic, Cadart’s 1er DCX was soon ordered to return to its place of birth, the Med, where it was disbanded in October. The old admiral was allowed to return to the retired list while his auxiliary cruisers were disarmed.

Continued wartime service

Ville d’Oran resumed a liaison shuttle service under Vichy’s orders between Marseilles and Algeria, under a more prewar livery complete with large French flags on her waterline, from October 1940 through September 1941. This pipeline saw thousands of demobilized officers and NCOs in mufti shuttle from Metropolitan France to North Africa, where the local authorities made sure to find places in police units, *new colonial formations, and secret ledgers should they be needed soon. Also on these regular runs were all manner of spies from both sides. You know, basically the subplot of the movie Casablanca.

*Notably, Brig. Gen. Antoine Béthouart, the old commander of 5e DBCA in Norway, was shipped to North Africa around this time to take command of the Division de Casablanca (newly formed from colonial units– 1e RTM, 6e RTM, RICM, 6e RTS, 1e RCA, 3e RSM, and the RACM), with the good general later assisting the Allies in rallying the French troops in Morocco to the Allied cause in November 1942. 

With the French government’s access to fuel oil greatly curbed by the Germans, even this rinky-dink cruise line was shuttered by October 1941, and Ville d’Oran was laid up in Algiers, where the war would soon catch up to her.

THE OPERATION TORCH, NOVEMBER 1942 (NA 89) British paratroops marching away after disembarking from a troop ship on the quayside in Allied-occupied Algiers, 12-13 November 1942. Note the French liner Ville d’Oran in the background. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

Soon after the Allied Torch landings in French North Africa, and the fall of the Vichy government, Ville d’Oran, and Ville d’Alger would return to wartime work, this time with the Free French flag and under the management of Cunard, as troopships.

They would carry men to the beaches of Sicily in Operation Husky in July 1943, participate in the Avalanche landings at Salerno in August 1943, and the Dragoon landings in Southern France in August 1944.

Post VE-Day, Ville d’Oran would carry Allied POWs–specifically South African, Palestinian, and Cypriot troops– back from German Camps in Europe to Alexandria for demobilization.

She would also carry German POWs from Italy back to Egypt for processing at the same time, an expedient thought easier than sending them to occupied Germany.

WITH THE VILLE D’ORAN. 31 MAY 1945, ALEXANDRIA HARBOUR. PRISONERS OF WAR WERE BROUGHT BACK IN THE FRENCH SHIP FROM GERMAN PRISON CAMPS IN THE NORTH OF ITALY. (A 29333) Repatriated Palestinian and Cypriot Troops returning on the VILLE D’ORAN from German Prison Camps for demobilization. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

WITH THE VILLE D’ORAN. 31 MAY 1945, ALEXANDRIA HARBOUR. PRISONERS OF WAR WERE BROUGHT BACK IN THE FRENCH SHIP FROM GERMAN PRISON CAMPS IN THE NORTH OF ITALY. (A 29332) South African Troops returning home on the VILLE D’ORAN for demobilization after seeing service on the North Italian front. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

WITH THE VILLE D’ORAN. 31 MAY 1945, ALEXANDRIA HARBOUR. PRISONERS OF WAR WERE BROUGHT BACK IN THE FRENCH SHIP FROM GERMAN PRISON CAMPS IN THE NORTH OF ITALY. (A 29331) A cheering crowd of South African Troops on board the VILLE D’ORAN on their way home after liberation from German Prison Camps. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

WITH THE VILLE D’ORAN. 31 MAY 1945, ALEXANDRIA HARBOUR. PRISONERS OF WAR WERE BROUGHT BACK IN THE FRENCH SHIP FROM GERMAN PRISON CAMPS IN THE NORTH OF ITALY. (A 29334) German Officers were among the 1.835 prisoners of war brought back in the VILLE D’ORAN from North Italy, on their way to internment camps in Egypt. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

Ville d’Oran would receive the Croix de Guerre from the Fourth Republic for her wartime service.


Returning to commercial service with Cie Gle T, Ville d’Oran and her sister Ville d’Alger would continue their pre-war Marseille to North Africa runs, and never did get that fake funnel back.

Following the outbreak of the Algerian War in 1954, the sisters would also serve as one of the main modes of transport for French troops coming from Europe to serve a stint on the lines against the ELN. Typically, conscripts would briefly train in metropolitan France, then be shipped to Algeria after which they would be released from their (nominal) 18 months of service upon arriving back home at Marseille.

In all, over 1.5 million young French conscripts were sent to Algeria to battle the fellaghas, Algerian guerrilla fighters, between 1954 and 1962. Seen here is Ville d’Oran on one such run. (ECPAD)

This duty earned Ville d’Oran an FLN bomb attack in January 1957 that cause negligible damage.

As Cie Gle Transatlantique had moved on to more prestigious ships in the early 1960s– the massive 70,000-ton SS France had just entered service– and, after the country’s withdrawal from North Africa after 130 years of colonization, ending the appeal of regular cross Med liner runs, Ville d’Oran and sister Ville d’Alger were sold in 1965 to the Greek Typaldos Lines.

However, the Greeks soon ran into financial trouble and both sisters were sold for scrap in 1969.


Today, few relics remain of Ville d’Oran, other than a Hein Muck 1:250 scale model both in her pre-WWII and wartime auxiliary cruiser layout.

Cie Gle T itself would be defunct by 1976, and its assets rolled into the container shipping company now known as CMA CGM.

Of the men associated with them, the jolly old admiral, Cadart, a man who had the distinction of receiving the Legion of Honor from the old Republic for his actions off Norway, and the Vichy Order of the Francisque from Petian himself for his gold run, would pass in 1962 at age 78. The Dakar gold stash, incidentally, would return back home in 1945.

Alpine troop commander Gen. Béthouart would command the Free French I Corps in Alsace and Austria in 1944-45, bagging no less than 100,000 German POWs. He would then serve as the High Commissioner for France in Austria and pass in 1982, aged 92.

Olympian Maurice Lafforgue survived WWII and passed quietly in 1999, aged 84. Note the 13e BCA insignia on his sweater.

Meanwhile, the 13e BCA is still in active service, having returned from Norway in May 1940 in time to fight the Germans along the Somme at Liomer-Brocourt, its men convert to maquis status during the Occupation, then reformed in 1945 just in time to seize the Petit-Saint-Bernard pass (altitude 7,600 ft) from German Gebirgsjäger during the Alpine Campaign. Post-war, they occupied Austria for seven years, fought in Algeria, Chad, Djibouti, and Côte d’Ivoire, scrapped with Saddam’s boys during the First Gulf War and served on a host of UN and NATO missions in Lebanon, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Since 1999, they have been part of the 27th Mountain Infantry Brigade (27th BIM), based in the Roc Noir district in the small Alpine town of Barbie, near Chambéry.

Their motto is “Without fear and without reproach” (Sans peur et sans reproche).

And they still use skis when needed.

Ships are more than steel
and wood
And heart of burning coal,
For those who sail upon
them know
That some ships have a

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Kale Slushy Bobcat and Tomcat?

Beretta’s small frame pistols with a tip-up barrel design that provides easy access to the chamber and no need for slide retraction to load the first round, these ultra-concealable pistols are a snap to use– especially for those without the hand strength to crush a brick.

I’ve carried a Bobcat, alternating with a Ruger LCP, as a backup gun for the past 15 years or so, and the little .22 is a joy to shoot.

These small 7-shot pocket pistols were first introduced back in the 1950s– giving them over 70 years of experience to build on– and Beretta has come pretty darn close to perfecting them over the generations.

New creatively-named Cerakoted color schemes in both the Tomcat (32. ACP) and Bobcat-A (.22LR) include Kale Slushy, Ghost Buster, and Silver Black Gorilla (a name that will surely change after someone pearl clutches). Plus, they are all fitted with threaded barrels– something that is a common mod on aftermarket guns.

The price, across all colors and calibers, is $649 (suggested).

The Kale Slushy Tomcat, left, and the Bobcat, right

The Tomcat, Beretta’s little .32, weighs just 14.5 ounces.

Tomcat Kale Slushy

The smaller Bobcat, the company’s even smaller .22LR, weighs just 11.5 ounces.

Bobcat Kale Slushy

21 A Bobcat Silver Black Gorilla

21 A Bobcat Ghost Buster 

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