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He was also one heck of a curler

One of the most iconic photos of a World War II sniper is this one:

All photos, Library and Archives Canada

The man shown above is Sgt. Harold A. Marshall of the Calgary Highlanders‘ Scout and Sniper Platoon. It was taken by renowned Candian Army Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit shutterbug Ken Bell during a scouting, stalking and sniping course in recently-liberated Kapellen, Belgium, along the Dutch border, 6 October 1944.

His kit includes a Lee–Enfield No. 4 Mk 1 (T) sniper rifle with a No. 32 MK 3 scope. These rifles were standard issue for marksmen use during WWII with about 26,000 manufactured in conjunction with Holland & Holland for the Commonwealth forces and remained in service until the early 1960s when it was replaced by the L42 series, the latter basically an accurized No. 4 Enfield in 7.62 NATO.

Sergeant H.A. Marshall of The Calgary Highlanders cleans the telescopic sight of his No.4, MkI(T) rifle during scouting, stalking and sniping course, Kapellen, Belgium, 6 October 1944 LAC 3596658 Ken Bell, photographer

Marshall wears a modified camouflaged paratrooper’s Denison smock. On his belt is a single No. 36M Mill’s Bomb grenade and a Gurkha kukri — because badass, that’s why. Around his head is a skrim camouflage face veil in place of the typical Highlander Tam hat or red and white diced Glengarry, the official field and garrison caps, respectively, of the unit at the time.

Marshall’s spotter, Cpl. Steven Kormendy, was also captured by Bell.

He wears much the same kit but notably has a captured German Walther P-38 9mm pistol as his sidearm.

Corporal S. Kormendy and Sergeant H.A. Marshall of The Calgary Highlanders cleaning the telescopic sights of their No.4 MkI (T) rifles during scouting, stalking and sniping course, Kapellen, Belgium, 6 October 1944. LAC 3596657 Ken Bell, photographer

Sergeant H.A. Marshall (left) and Corporal S. Kormendy, both of The Calgary Highlanders, observing terrain from a concealed firing position during scouting, stalking and sniping course, Capellen, Belgium, 6 October 1944. LAC 3596661 Ken Bell, photographer

Cpl. Steven Kormendy, left, and Sergeant Harold Marshall of the Calgary Highlanders sniper unit pose for photographer Ken Bell in Belgium on Oct. 6, 1944.

Lieutenant-Colonel D.G. Maclaughlin of the Calgary Highlanders speaks with scouts Corporal S. Kormendy and Sergeant H.A. Marshall, Kapellen, Belgium, 6 October 1944. Note they have switched to their Tams with cap badges and the size of Marshall’s kukri. LAC 3257124

As noted by the Calgary Herald,

“Harold Marshall was one of the original Calgary Highlanders who sailed for the United Kingdom on S.S. Pasteur in 1940. Four years later, he was part of an elite platoon of scouts and snipers. Specially equipped and trained in stealth and camouflage, they were the forerunners of today’s reconnaissance troops. It was a dangerous job as scouts advanced ahead of troops and snipers were often exposed to enemy fire.”

Marshall took a bullet in the leg on 15 December 1944, a wound that ended his war. He went on to work for the City of Calgary Electric System from 1946 until 1975 and died just short of his 95th birthday in 2013. 

He was also notably an avid curler, a sport he was shown partaking in his obituary.

Ken Bell would go on to profile Marshall in his excellent book, Not in Vain. 

As for the Calgary Highlanders, formed in 1910 as the 103rd “Calgary Rifles” Regiment, they still exist in battalion strength as a reserve unit, based at the Mewata Armoury in Calgary. Active in Afghanistan in recent years, their Scottish motto is Airaghardt (Onward).

Hand Salute, CPT Crozier

The (Acting) SECNAV Thomas B. Modly has booted the skipper of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Captain Brett E. Crozier (USNA 1994), from his post over the leaked letter the carrier’s commander penned in reference to the spreading COVID-19 cases among his embarked 4,000-man crew.

Several sources told USNI News ahead of the announcement that Navy leaders in the Pacific did not recommend Crozier’s removal from command.

Modly’s two minutes of reasoning is in the video below, essentially boiling down to breaking the chain of command on the face of it, with the unpardonable sin of making Big Navy look bad on the sniff test.

Loose lips sink ships, or at least careers, anyway.

Of course, all the public attention has resulted in the crew getting the attention they needed, which was the meat of Crozier’s concerns.

Crozier had a big send-off from his crew.

A Seahawk and later Hornet driver who flew with the Warhawks of VFA-97, the Mighty Shrikes of VFA-94 and the Rough Riders of VFA-125, Crozier completed numerous downrange deployments during OIF and the Global War on Terror. Serving as the XO of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) for two years and then as skipper of 7th Fleet flagship, USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), for another two before moving into the captain’s cabin of The Big Stick, Crozier was on the path for a star after 26 years of honorable service.

Instead:

Bond Guns Go Missing

London’s Metropolitan Police have issued a call for the public to be on the lookout for five guns recently stolen that have been used in a number of 007 films.

In a statement, the Met reported that officers were called to a property in Aldersbrook Avenue, Enfield, on the evening of March 23 to a report of a burglary in progress. By the time the bobbies had arrived, however, the suspects had left the scene after being disturbed by neighbors.

The suspects, who drove away in a silver vehicle, are described as “three white males with Eastern European accents.” The men reportedly broken into the premises and stole five deactivated firearms used in James Bond films, believed to be worth more than £100,000 ($124,000).

Perhaps the greatest loss is the swag AF Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum, serial number N60304, featured in Live and Let Die.

The 1973 film has Sir Roger Moore as Agent 007 traveling around the globe with stops in New Orleans and Jamacia, where he uses the hogleg along with a beautiful shoulder holster and tactical turtle neck during the rescue of Solitaire (Jane Seymour).

You remember Solitaire, right?

Anyway, more on the firearms in my column at Guns.com. 

75 Years Ago Today: The Rolling W Across the Rhine

On this day in 1945, the below image caught Soldiers of the U.S. 89th Infantry Division rolling across the Rhine at Oberwesel, Germany, 26 March 1945, carried by landing craft.

Note the above highlights the range of infantry weapons carried at the time including M-1 rifles– one with a rifle grenade attachment, Thompson M1 submachine gun, and an M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle.

NARA Photo U. S. Signal Corps 202464

The 89th “Rolling W” Division landed in France on 10 January 1945 and saw first combat on 12 March– just two weeks before the above image was taken. In their 57 Days under fire in the ETO, they suffered 1,029 casualties and produced no less than 46 Silver Star recipients. In addition, they helped liberate Ohrdruf, a Buchenwald subcamp.

Final WWII Royal Navy destroyer skipper joins the big fleet

John Errol Manners was the youngest son of RADM Sir Errol Manners, KBE, so it was natural that young John at age 17 became a midshipman in the Royal Navy in 1932. After all, his two brothers had preceded him in the “family business” and even his sister had served as a WREN.

After pre-war service on the royal yacht Britannia and a variety of torpedo boats in the Mediterranean and the Far East– while working on his cricket game– John was a junior officer on the cruiser HMS Birmingham on China Station when Hitler marched into Poland in 1939.

Quickly reassigned to the I-class destroyer HMS Eglinton (L87), then under construction in England, he rose fast and by February 1942 John was the temporary captain of the F-class destroyer HMS Fame (H78).

He then served as the first lieutenant of the hard-charging Tribal-class tin can HMS Eskimo (F75)— a ship that had famously lost her bow at Narvik and had to be rebuilt. By May 1943, after serving on Eskimo on dangerous convoy escort runs and Malta lifelines as well as supporting the Torch Landings in North Africa, John moved up to become the destroyer’s skipper in time for the Husky Landings in Sicily.

At the end of 1943, John, by then a lieutenant commander, was given the somewhat lateral position of commander of the elderly Great War era W-class destroyer HMS Viceroy (D91).

On that ship, while escorting Convoy FS 1874 off Sunderland, Viceroy counterattacked the German submarine U-1274 after the latter torpedoed the tanker Athelduke, eventually sinking the U-boat in a drawn-out action that left a dozen bottles of good French brandy floating on the surface and the German sub on the bottom. The booze saved, John forwarded it to the Admiralty– who in turn sent it to Churchill– with the regards of the Viceroy’s crew.

After accepting the German surrender of Trondheim, Norway in May 1945, followed up by anticlimactic post-war assignments on troopships and the battleship HMS King George V, LCDR John Manners, DSC, moved to the reserve list, moving on to his cricket game full time.

Manners, the world’s longest-lived first-class cricketer, who coincidentally held commands on three of HMs destroyers during WWII and accounted for a tricky U-boat with panache, passed last week, aged 105.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day: Irish Blue Berets

Ireland as we know it declared itself a republic in 1948 after more than two decades as the Irish Free State– with much of that still as a British Dominion.

The country joined the UN in 1955 and since 1958 the Irish Army has maintained a continuous presence in peacekeeping missions around the world, something of an accomplishment when you consider the force typically numbers fewer than 8,000 regulars.

Irish Defence Forces personnel boarding a US Globemaster transport aircraft for the Congo in the early 1960s armed with the Lee Enfield No. 4 Mk 2, Bren and Swedish Carl Gustaf m/45 SMGs.

This has included service in the Congo (where the famed Siege of Jadotville occurred), Cyprus, the Sinai, Lebanon, Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor, Liberia (7 battalions on rotation from 2003-07), Chad and Syria.

The force has suffered 85 killed on UNPROFOR missions, including 46 in Lebanon and 26 in the Congo.

St. Patrick surely weeps

Recognizing the WWII Rangers, Merchant Mariners

U.S. Army Rangers show off the ladders they used to storm the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc, which they assaulted in support of Omaha Beach landings on D-Day M1 Garand BAR 80-G-45716

U.S. Army Rangers show off the ladders they used to storm the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc, which they assaulted in support of Omaha Beach landings on D-Day M1 Garand BAR 80-G-45716

Between June 1942 and the end of WWII, the Army formed from volunteers 6 Ranger Infantry Battalions (numbered 1st-6th) and 1 provisional Ranger battalion (29th, from Army National Guardsmen of the 29th ID).

S.1757 just passed the Senate on a unanimous voice vote last week.

“This bill directs the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to arrange for the award of a single gold medal to the U.S. Army Ranger veterans of World War II in recognition of their dedicated wartime service.

Following its award, the gold medal shall be given to the Smithsonian Institution where it shall be available for display and research.”

It now heads to the House.

In related news,

On Friday, March 13, 2020, the President signed into law:

H.R. 5671, the “Merchant Mariners of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2020,” which provides for the award of a Congressional gold medal collectively, to the United States Merchant Mariners of World War II, in recognition of their dedicated and vital service during the conflict.

The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Battle Standard bears the number “142” on its field of red, white and blue, representing the academy’s cadets killed in WWII.  

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