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Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the most important, and least remembered Canadian cavalry charge

The Battle of Moreuil Wood on March 30, 1918, is captured in the painting “Charge of Flowerdew’s Squadron” by Sir Alfred Munnings via the Canadian War Museum:

UNDATED — Undated handout photo of Alfred Munnings’ painting CHARGE OF FLOWERDEWS SQUADRON, held by the Canadian War Museum.

The story behind the charge:

“The Canadian charge at Moreuil Wood occurred at the height of the Kaiserschlacht, the German Spring Offensive of 1918, a massive assault on the Western Front that the German High Command hoped would split apart the Allied armies and drive the British out of Europe.

On the foggy morning of March 30, 1918, the Canadian Cavalry Brigade, one of the few Allied units not retreating from the German onslaught, was tasked with recapturing the Moreuil Wood, a forested ridge east of the French city of Amiens, a crucial railway junction that linked the British and French armies…”

There, only C Squadron of Lord Strathcona’s Horse, under a 33-year-old British Columbian rancher named Lt. Gordon Muriel Flowerdew, made ready to ride into history.

More here in this great piece in the National Post

April Fools, South-pacific edition, 75 years ago

Signed by the artist: Jack Fellows. Via NNAM.2004.100.001

On 1 April 1943, during a big fight over the Russells Group in the Central Solomons, a Japanese Navy pilot plays the fool as he loops his “Hamp” in front of the F4F-4 flown by VMF-221 2nd Lt. Warner O. Chapman, USMC, who promptly shot him down. Chapman was also awarded a “probable” on the mission. Chapman went on to become Commanding Officer of VMF-221 in 1959, as the squadron entered the USMC Reserve program.

VMF-221 was formed five months before Pearl Harbor flying the forgettable Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo– using them to down a Japanese Kawanishi H8K “Emily” flying boat in March 1942. Augmented by a handful of badly worn Wildcats, they fought at Midway before eventually switching out to the F4U Corsair, which they flew until the end of the war.

The Marines’ First Amphibious Landing


Looks like a scene from Black Sails…

3 March 1776–On this day, Captain Samuel Nicholas and a battalion of Marines and sailors land at New Providence, Bahamas, seize the fort, and capture stores for Washington’s army.

Photo of Painting: Oil painting on canvas by V. Zveg, 1973, depicting Continental Sailors and Marines landing on New Providence Island, Bahamas, on 3 March 1776. U.S. Navy Art Collection, Washington, D.C.

76 years ago today: The end of the wagon

Now that’s a flattop! An image taken from a departing biplane, Aug 03, 1923 of the U.S. Navy’s first aircraft carrier, the converted collier USS Langley. NARA Photo 520639

On this day in February 1942, the U.S. Navy’s first aircraft carrier USS Langley, then operating as a seaplane carrier (AV-3). was attacked by 16 Mitsubishi G4M “Betty” twin-engine bombers of the Japanese 21st and 23rd Naval Air Flotillas south of Tjilatjap, Java, and was so badly damaged by at least five bombs that she had to be scuttled by her escorts.

The “covered wagon” which operated as the country’s only flattop from 21 April 1920 until USS Lexington was commissioned on 14 December 1927, was the cradle of U.S. Naval aviation. Without her, there would have been no almost 100-years of U.S. carrier dominance.

Via NNAM.1982.071.001 by aivation artist Robert Grant Smith, 1980.

Via NNAM.1982.071.001 by aviation artist Robert Grant Smith, 1980.

The painting is the artist’s rendering of the Navy’s first aircraft carrier, the USS LANGLEY (CV-1), conducting flight operations as a ghost ship in the company with one of the Navy’s most modern aircraft carriers, the USS NIMITZ (CVN-68). The painting celebrates the commissioning of the Nimitz 50 years after the first squadron operation off the Langley in 1925. The Nimitz is accompanied by a squadron of A-4M Skyhawks while the Langley is accompanied by a squadron of F6C -2 Curtiss Hawks

Talking mud and weird guns with Ian and Karl

While at SHOT, I ran into Ian and Karl and managed to shanghai them into a meeting room to talk about what the mud tests over at InRangeTV and, of course, some Forgotten Weapons…

Yours for Democracy…

A very proud Doughboy, and recent college graduate, armed with a brand new Enfield M1917 30.06 rifle and ready to go “Over There.”

The back of this photo was signed “Forrest G. Johnson, Yours for Democracy.”

Forest Griffin Johnson, Student and World War I Veteran, Storer College, Harpers Ferry, W. Va

Via Harpers Ferry National Historical Park:

Forrest Griffin Johnson was born in Bolivar, WV on May 5, 1895. He attended Storer College and graduated in 1917. He listed farmer as his occupation on his WWI draft registration card. He listed his employer as Standard Lime & Stone Co. of Millville, WV on his WWII draft registration card. His wife Rosella R. Johnson submitted an application for an upright military marble headstone on July 21, 1956, which was the day after Forrest’s death. He was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Bolivar, WV.

107 Storer College grads reportedly served in the Great War.

The historically black college was in operation from 1865 to 1955. The defunct college’s former campus and buildings were acquired by the National Park Service.

The Kansas Raygun

This interesting handgun, which looks like something right out of 1930s Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon, is likely a one of a kind pistol from a Renaissance man in Kansas.

Rock Island had it up for auction this week (estimated price $100-$200) and I seriously thought about bidding on it for the aesthetic value if nothing else. Crafted by Mr. P. P. Belt of Fredonia, Kansas, it is a .22LR semi-auto that accepts Colt Woodsman magazines– why reinvent the wheel on the latter, right? The barrel is 5.5-inches long and I imagine the blowback rimfire action is contained in the rear of the receiver. The cocking handle is on the right-hand side. The piece has wood grips, a large bladed front sight, and rear notch.

Belt seemed like an interesting fellow. The Biographical Record of Jasper County, Missouri describes him as a jeweler and machinist in Fredonia (current pop just over 2,000.) He is listed on the Worldwide Registry of Auto manufacturers as having made his own car around 1904-1907. Popular Aviation in 1930 covered him because he made his own airplane with a Model T engine. His shop, powered by propane for “pennies a day” was considered interesting enough of its own account to earn separate mention at least twice in machinist and blacksmithing journals.

This guy….

Mr. Belt, thanks for a really interesting pistol design.

Update: I blogged about it over at last week the day before the auction, and after “very active” bid activity, it went for $670, which is uncharacteristically high for a homemade .22LR from an unknown maker. Hopefully, the lucky bidder appreciated the curiosity and will heirloom it for future generations.

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