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Halloween is nearing, and some ghosts are real

There are some things that are scarier than witches, goblins, and vampires.

“Ghost Trail,” by Kerr Eby; 1944.

Drawing, Charcoal, and Pastel on Paper; Framed Dimensions 29H X 46W NHHC Accession #88-159-DZ as a Gift of Abbot Laboratories

“Specter-like in the dark gloom of the Bougainville jungle, Marine riflemen slog up to the front lines during the bitter campaign for the tropic stronghold.”– official description.

Erby was Canadian-born illustrator best known for his renderings of soldiers in combat in the First and Second World Wars. In the prior, he served in the Army as camoufleur to the 40th Engineers in France. In the latter, Eby, then aged 51, tried to enlist but was turned down because of his age. Serving in the combat artist program, he traveled with Marines in the South Pacific and witnessed some of the fiercest fighting of the war, landing with the invasion force at Tarawa and living three weeks in a foxhole on Bougainville.

While on Bougainville he became ill with a tropical disease, one which weakened his health, passing away in Norwalk, Connecticut in 1946.

Combat Gallery Sunday: The Cold War artwork of Pavel Pavlinov and Andrey Babanovsky

Much as once a week I like to take time off to cover warships (Wednesdays), on Sundays (when I feel like working), I like to cover military art and the painters, illustrators, sculptors, photographers and the like that produced them.

Combat Gallery Sunday: The Cold War artwork of Pavel Pavlinov and Andrey Babanovsky

Admiral of the fleet of the Soviet Union Sergei Georgiyevich Gorshkov, accomplished, especially considering what the Soviets had to work with, an impressive feat. Gorshkov gave his life to the Red Banner Fleet, joining at age 17 in 1927. By WWII, he was in the Black Sea and rose to command a destroyer squadron after much heavy contact with the Axis forces in the landlocked body of water increasingly owned by the Germans. He received the Order of the Red Banner twice for his wartime exploits.

Recognised as cut from a different cloth than the typical party functionaries, by just age 46 he was given command of the entire Soviet Navy by Nikita Khrushchev and spent the next 30 years building the largest fleet in either Asia or Europe and the second largest (only outclassed by the USN) in the world– seizing that cherished spot from the British Royal Navy who only begrudgingly relinquished their own first place title holder to the Americans a generation before. Had there been no Gorshkov, it could be argued there would have been no Tom Clancy and the Soviets would have been content with only a minor naval force, a role Russia had basically always fulfilled.

At the high water mark of the Red Banner Fleet’s power in 1973 came this chapbook of postcard drawings entitled, “Modern ships of the USSR Navy” by Pavel Pavlinov and Andrey Babanovsky. Sure, it was Soviet propaganda of the most obvious, but it froze a moment in time and presented it in its best light– regardless of the fact that a lot of the ships were poorly manned by conscripts simply glad to not be in the Army, officered by professional mariners that lacked the fundamental foundation of an NCO corps they could depend on, and suffered from often suicidal nuclear engineering plants and moody weapon and sensor packages.

But, you have to admit: they look pretty!

Note the Foxtrot diesel boat on the cover. The Project 641 subs were among the most numerous in the Red Fleet

Sverdlov cruiser Mikhail Kutuzov. These all-gun cruisers were obsolete when completed, but the Russians carried them on their Navy list throughout the Cold War. Packed with 1940s-era electronics, they could always serve as a flagship post-Atomic exchange/EMP!

Operating in the polar cap

Looks to be a Kresta-class cruiser

The Soviets were serious when it came to amphibious light tanks and landing vehicles, fielding the PT-76, PTS, and BTR series vehicles along with lots of Polnocny-class and Alligator-class LSTs to truck them ashore. While not capable of large-scale landings, this capability still gave Baltic and Black Sea-based NATO allies heartburn

Moskova-class helicopter carrier Leningrad. The three 17,000-ton Moskovas, the first Soviet helicopter carriers, could tote almost two dozen Ka-25 or Mi-8 aircraft and were seen as big medicine to help curb the NATO hunter-killer threat in SSBN Bastion areas.

The Soviets built 32 Gus- and 20 Aist-class LCAC’s, the former, shown above, capable of carrying 25 troops, while the latter were capable of carrying 200 troops or 4 light tanks. They would later be carried in the carried by the Ivan Rogov-class dock landing ship, the first Soviet LSDs, which were under construction at the time the book came out.

Osa class fast attack boat. Those big SS-N-2 Styx missiles had been proved in combat just a few years before. Egyptian Komar-class missile boats used the Styx to splash the WWII-vintage Israel Navy destroyer Eilat during the Six Day War in October 1967

Beriev Be-12 Mail flying boat seaplane

As for Gorshkov, he only stepped down from commanding his fleet at age 75, reluctantly handing the reins to Adm. Vladimir Chernavin, who, less than a half-decade later, preside over the force’s break-up and spiraling demise which was to endure for two decades.

Thank you for your work, Mr. Pavlinov and Babanovsky

Combat Gallery Sunday: Sons of Empire

Much as once a week I like to take time off to cover warships (Wednesdays), on Sundays (when I feel like working), I like to cover military art and the painters, illustrators, sculptors, photographers and the like that produced them.

Combat Gallery Sunday: Sons of Empire

Here we see the 1899 Boer War-era poster “Defenders of the Empire” showing a great selection of British Commonwealth military 1899 unforms by artist Harry Payne. It is for the 1914 National Relief Fund.

The poster was published by Raphael Tuck & Sons, Ltd and also billed as “Sons of the Empire,” for the benefit of the Transvaal War Fund for Widows and Orphans.

It shows 23 assorted figures ranging from Grenadier Guards and Gordon Highlanders to the 5th Royal Irish Lancers. Overseas units from Australia, New Zealand, Rhodesia and Natal are also present as are men from the Royal Marines and Royal Navy.

A better image with a different background, omitting Indian troops to the right and adding more Naval gunners, to the left:

And last but not least, the key:


Born in 1858 at Newington, London, Payne was a noted military illustrator who notably also made an extensive series of oilette uniform postcards for Tuck & Sons that typically sell today for less than $20.

HARRY PAYNE MILITARY Postcard c.1910 TROOPER 3rd PRINCE OF WALES DRAGOON GUARDS

1914 Raphael Tuck, Harry Payne Artist-Signed Postcard Royal Scots Greys

Payne died in 1927 but his voluminous work will no doubt live on.

Thank you for your efforts, sir.

Combat Gallery Sunday: Historic gendarmes a go-go

Much as once a week I like to take time off to cover warships (Wednesdays), on Sundays (when I feel like working), I like to cover military art and the painters, illustrators, sculptors, photographers and the like that produced them.

Combat Gallery Sunday: Historic gendarmes a go-go

The following provosts, military police, Feldjäger, and gendarmerie unit portrayals, principally from the 19th Century, come from the New York Public Library’s Hendrik Jacobus Vinkhuijzen collection of military uniforms.

Enjoy!

French Gendarmerie, 1833. A pied et à cheval.

Gendarmerie à cheval (grande tenue). 1860

Kolonel de Gendarmerie. 1862 Spain

Luxemburg Gendarmerie, 1899

Luxemburg Hauptmann der Gendarm. – 1898

MilitairPolizey-Wach-Corps in Wien Austrian Army 1869

Mil. Gränz-Gensd’armes

Gendarmerie Républicaine Renre Paris Eh Bien! Et Nous. 1874

Gendarmerie. 1896

Bauern ; Gendarme Zu Pferd ; Edelmann ; Offizier. 1913 print. 17th Century uniforms (?)

Lombardi Venet Gensdarmes

Seressaner, Austrian army

Italian Carabinieri

Gendarme Maure, French North Africa

Luxemburg Gendarmerie, 1869

A military policeman from Kachin Hills, Burma. NYPL

North-West mounted police, trooper, working kit. Royal Canadian Dragoons, trooper, review order. 1910 NYPL collection

Cyprus military police.

Combat Gallery Sunday: Repin x3

In 1891, Ilya Yefimovich Repin completed his giant 6×11 ft painting “Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire” after an 11-year effort, selling the piece to Tsar Alexander III for a princely sum.

Hung in the Tsar’s Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg.at the time, the painting is still there, although the palace is now the State Russian Museum.

The Zaporozhye Cossacks Writing a Mocking Letter to the Turkish Sultan *oil on canvas*358 × 203 cm *signed b.c.: И.Репин 1880-91

It depicts the popular legend of the 1676 cossack reply to an ultimatum of the Ottoman sultan, Mehmed IV, that these autonomous border people submit to Turkish rule. The reply, as the story goes, was one of insults with each rough steppes horseman striving to outperform his buddy. A lot of references to Mehmed’s mother and at least one goat were mentioned in the reply.

Since then, the painting has been updated a few times with the same Russian patriotic tendency.

Zaporozhian have been swapped out for Red partisans in WWII

Note the M1910 Sokolov machine gun, captured German MP40, and at least one Red Cossack

This most recent example, by Vladimir Nesterenko, is set in Syria with the modern Russian military, complete with 30mm grenade launchers and AK74s.

The next one will probably be set in space.

Combat Gallery Sunday: War and Peace, as seen 76 years ago…

Much as once a week I like to take time off to cover warships (Wednesdays), on Sundays (when I feel like working), I like to cover military art and the painters, illustrators, sculptors, photographers and the like that produced them.

Combat Gallery Sunday: War and Peace

As a diversion to Midway, a fairly strong task force under Japanese Rear Admiral Kakuji Kakuta, comprising the carriers Ryūjō (10,000 tons) and Jun’yō (25,000 tons) as well as their escorts and a naval landing force, attacked the Aleutians in Alaska.

One engagement, where Katutka sent his 80~ strong combined airwing to plaster the only significant American base in the region, socked the base and port facility over the course of two raids on 3-4 June, sinking the barracks ship Northwestern, destroying a few USAAF bombers and USN PBYs, and killing 78 Americans.

The Japanese in turn got a bloody nose from the old school 3-inch M1918s and .50 cal water-cooled Browning of Arkansas National Guard’s 206th Coast Artillery (Anti Aircraft), which splashed a few Japanese planes, a PBY stitched up 19-year-old PO Tadayoshi Koga’s Zero (which crashed and was recovered in remarkable condition– an intelligence coup) and a group of Army Col. John Chennault’s P-40s out of Unamak accounted for a few more.

Below is a great representation of the 206th’s 50cals in action, a bit of martial art by Navy war artist William Draper, done in 1942, entitled “War and Peace”

Painting, Oil on Board; by William F. Draper; 1942; Framed Dimensions 23H X 28W Accession #: 88-189-AS. The peace of an Aleut grave, marked by a Russian Orthodox Cross, is shattered by the staccato barking of a 50-caliber gun as it unleashes a barrage of bullets at attacking Japanese planes.

Thank you for your work, sir.

Combat Gallery Sunday: The intel of Captain C.F. O’Keefe, shutterbug

Much as once a week I like to take time off to cover warships (Wednesdays), on Sundays (when I feel like working), I like to cover military art and the painters, illustrators, sculptors, photographers and the like that produced them.

With that, I give you:

Combat Gallery Sunday: The intel of Captain C.F. O’Keefe, shutterbug

You don’t have to be a Jack White fan to know about the Soldiers of the Eight-Nation Alliance, formed to suppress China’s Boxer Rebellion in 1900. Encompassing sea and land forces from Japan, Russia, Britain, France, the U.S., Germany, Italy and Austria-Hungary, the force was originally named after the 409 soldiers from eight countries that helped defend the Peking legation area when things went sideways in August 1900.

All photos by O’Keefe, via National Archives, U.S. Naval Historical Command, and Library of Congress

Eventually, relief columns landed and marched into Manchuria would account for more than 50,000 Allied troops and set the stage for the Russo-Japanese War that followed in its wake and continuing outside military intervention in China through 1949.

But we are focused on one Capt. Cornelius Francis O’Keefe of the 36th U.S. Volunteer Infantry (formerly a lieutenant in the 1st Colorado Infantry Regiment) who accompanied the U.S. expedition under Maj. Gen Ada Chaffee to China. Attached to Chaffee’s staff, O’Keefe, who before the rebellion was part of the Engineer office in Manila as a photographer, took notes and photographs at the Taku forts and ashore, moving through the Chinese arsenals at Tientsin and points West.

Accompanied by a Sgt. Hurtt and “three privates equipped for sketching,” the hardy volunteer field officer lugged his camera equipment around the front and rear lines of the expedition. As such, he took advantage of close interaction with foreign troops who could be future adversaries to extensively photograph their uniforms and gear from all angles.

You can see his U.S. Army Engineers logo on most and Signal Corps photo numbers as well.

111-SC-74919 French Engineer Packs. (Same equipment was used for Infantry, except for pick and shovel), during the Chinese Relief Expedition, 1900.

111-SC-74974 French Zouaves during the Chinese Relief Expedition (Boxer Rebellion), 1900

111-SC-74920 French Marine Infantry during the Chinese Relief Expedition, 1900

111-SC-75121 French Engineers at Peking, China, during the Chinese Relief Expedition, 1900

11-SC-75033 Boxer Rebellion (Chinese Relief Expedition), 1900. Japanese Engineer Soldiers, 1900

111-SC-74925 Boxer Rebellion (Chinese Relief Expedition), 1900. Japanese Infantryman on duty with the Chinese Relief Expedition, 1900

111-SC-74924 Boxer Rebellion (Chinese Relief Expedition), 1900. Japanese Artillerymen on duty with the Chinese Relief Expedition, 1900. First man on left is an Non-Commissioned Officer.

11-SC-74922 Boxer Rebellion (Chinese Relief Expedition), 1900. Japanese Cavalrymen (dismounted), 1900.

Boxer Rebellion (Chinese Relief Expedition), 1900. Japanese Infantrymen, 1900.

As for O’Keefe in 1901, he returned to the Philippines and presented himself to Maj. Clifton Sears of the Corps of Engineers to resume his role as photographer for the Manila-based outfit for the remainder of his hitch. The 36th Volunteers were mustered out in July 1902 and from what I can tell, O’Keefe hung up his uniform with it.

His photography from the exotic region, including taken in the Forbidden City, graced Harper’s Weekly (especially Harper’s Pictorial History of the War with Spain) and was shown as part of the “Mysterious Asia” exhibition at St. Louis’ Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904.

At various times, he maintained private studios in Detriot, Iowa, and Colorado.

He died in 1939, aged 74.

A collection of some 170 O’Keefe images, formerly owned by Capt. Harley B. Ferguson, the Chief Engineer of the China Relief Expedition, appeared at auction in 2015 while hundreds of others, as exhibited above, are in various U.S. institutions to include the National Archives, NHHC and the National Museum of Health and Medicine. Another 85 images from his time in the PI with the 1st Colorado are in the collection of Colorado’s Stephen H. Hart Library & Research Center while the NYPL has its own, smaller, dossier.

Thank you for your work, sir.

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