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Call me sentimenal

So like any salty sea dog, I have a number of illustrations upon my skin in the best traditions of Danish kings and scurvy-ridden members of Neptune’s realm. One I had applied this week I thought was kind of unique. While I have sea monkeys, dragons and the like, I always wanted a ship in a bottle as well, and finally figured out just which ship I wanted in a glass.

Recognize the battleship? Of course, it was the first “warship” I fell in love with– the battleship game piece from Monopoly! I remember, um, borrowing it from the game set at my grandfather’s at about age 6 and keeping it as a good luck charm in my pocket daily for years. As a reference, Parker Brothers has used roughly the same piece since 1937 and it appeared in both the strategy games Conflict and Diplomacy as well over the years.

Anachronistic when introduced in the Depression, the piece is closest to the Navy’s earliest 1890s-era pre-dreadnoughts of the Indiana and Iowa classes, with main battery turret guns forward and aft, a tall mast forward, and two funnels.

Battleship No. 1, USS Indiana. Commissioned 20 November 1895, she served in the Spanish-American War (in combat) and WWI (as a training ship), then was sunk in shallow water as a target in aerial bombing tests in 1920. NH 105567

As all of those vessels had left the fleet in the 1920s– replaced by actual dreadnoughts– they were conspicuously old-fashioned even when Monopoly first debuted.

Kind of like myself.

Kitchener surely would eat his hat

Either the British Army likes a challenge, or they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel for recruits in this day and age of social media warriors and selfie-lovers. The new recruiting campaign to bring the Army to its authorized strength (to include women in the infantry) and keep it there is reaching out for a modern generation.


In a twist, this fine lad, Scots Guardsman Stephen McWhirter, says his image was used by the Army in the campaign without his knowledge and it has put him right off and he intends to leave the service. So, the campaign has so far had the opposite effect.

The Defence Select Committee was told in October that it had 77,000 fully trained troops compared with a target of 82,500, which doesn’t sound like a huge shortfall, but when you consider that the British Army is facing deployments all over the world and is at its smallest size since 1793 when it had contracted to just 40,000 in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War (its lowest 19th Century mark was 90,000 in 1838, two decades after Napoleon had been sent to St. Helena).

Of course, the posters are a riff on British Field Marshal Lord Kitchener’s “Wants You” posters first fielded in 1914 to help recast the battered (and all-volunteer) British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front after the original regulars, The Old Contemptibles, had been bled white at the Marne and Ypres.

“Britons: Lord Kitchener Wants You. Join Your Country’s Army! God save the King.”

Notably, the new posters do not include the finger-pointing. Probably too aggressive.

Kitchener was not available for comment.

Meanwhile, on 28 Dec 2018, Army Capt. Louis Rudd, 49, became the first Briton to cross Antarctica solo, unsupported and unassisted.

“Using all the training and experience gathered from his 33-year military career, Lou hauled 165kg of kit and food supplies for 1500km across the driest, coldest and most inhospitable continent on the planet. Originally anticipated to take up to 75 days, to achieve this feat in 56 is extraordinary,” noted the Army.

Rudd, not on a recruiting poster

Update: The Parachute Regiment, who has their own program for direct recruitment, posted the below this afternoon with an appeal to don the “cherry berry.”

Pokey finger and all…

Richard Overton, America’s oldest living WWII veteran, has died. He was 112 years old

A native of the Lone Star State, T5 Richard Arvin Overton began his military service when he enlisted in the Army at Fort Sam Houston, Texas in 1940. Serving with the (segregated) 1887th Engineer Aviation Battalion, USAAF, he served throughout the Pacific Theatre including at Palau and Iwo Jima.

Even late in life, he liked his cigars fat and his coffee Irish.

We profiled Mr. Overton back in 2015 and he showed off some of his personal guns. He was a hell of a man. Ave atque vale

Nuts! 74 years ago today

An M1 bazooka team from the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in position Dec. 22, 1944, outside of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge:

Via 82nd ABN museum

It was also on this day that General Anthony Clement McAuliffe of the 101st gave his famous reply to the German offer to surrender.

The reply was typed up, centered on a full sheet of paper. It read:

“December 22, 1944

To the German Commander,

N U T S!

The American Commander”

And the crowd went wild!


Mattis, departing

Saint Mattis of Quantico, Patron Saint of Chaos, Gen. James Mattis, USMC, (Ret.) has tendered his resignation letter as the 26th United States Secretary of Defense after some 700 days in the barrel. He was the first career military man (42 years on active duty, including command of 1st MARDIV in the Iraq War) since Gen. George Marshall to hold the position since it was established in 1947, and by all accounts a modern warrior poet. Hard to fathom who will replace him.

The General steps away, 235 years ago

In this letter, dated December 20, 1783, from Annapolis, Maryland, Gen. George Washington informs Congress that he is officially resigning his commission as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, and  is”desiring to know their pleasure in what manner it will be most proper to offer his resignation; whether in writing or at an audience.”

Letter from Washington to the Continental Congress re resignation. Old Military and Civil Records RG 360 12/20/1783 06935_2006_001 (National Archives Identifier 5757421)

In a stroke, Washington, who could have pulled a Ceasar, instead hung up his sword and pistols.

The old warhorse did later return as President, where he personally led militia forces in 1794 at age 62 while in uniform during the Whisky Rebellion (the first and only time a sitting American president commanded troops in the field), and, while Adams was in office, serve as the titular head of the military during the Quasi-War at age 68, and still loved to visit with veterans and fellow soldiers.

In 1787, the fine gentlemen of the Philadelphia Light Troop of Horse (which still exists today) hosted Washington and others at City Tavern for a get together during the Constitutional Convention and the 55 attendees drank: 54 bottles of Madeira, 60 bottles of claret, eight of whiskey, 22 of porter, eight of hard cider, 12 of beer, and seven bowls of alcoholic punch.

Bonhomme Richard, found

“BONHOMME RICHARD” Ex ‘DUC DE DURAS’ 1779 By artist E. Tufnell NH 72802-KN

Built in 1765 for the French East India Company as an armed merchantman the 152-foot Duc de Duras was placed at the disposal of one John Paul Jones of the American Continental Navy on 4 February 1779, by King Louis XVI of France by an agreement with French shipping boss Jacques-Donatien Le Ray. Less than eight months later the 42-gun frigate, under the name Bonhomme Richard, had taken 16 British merchant ships and was in turn practically destroyed by the 44-gun fifth-rate ship HMS Serapis off Flamborough Head, Yorkshire.

The battle between Continental Ship Bonhomme Richard and HMS Serapis, 23 September 1779 Oil on canvas, 21 x 28, by Thomas Mitchell (1735-1790), signed and dated by the artist, 1780. It depicts Bonhomme Richard (center), commanded by Continental Navy Captain John Paul Jones, closely engaged with HMS Serapis, commanded by Royal Navy Captain Richard Pearson, off Flamborough Head, England. Firing at right is the Continental frigate Alliance, while at left the British sloop-or-war Countess of Scarborough is engaging the French frigate Pallas. The original painting is in the U.S. Naval Academy Museum, Annapolis, Maryland. It was donated by the U.S. Naval Institute in 1949. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

John Paul Jones bids goodbye to his victorious ship, Bonhomme Richard, from the deck of the captured Serapis. Painting by Percy Moran

As for Jones, he transferred his flag to the battered and captured Serapis, which he sailed to the Netherlands and handed over to the French– who commissioned her as a privateer. Serapis was lost under a French flag off Madagascar in 1781 to a fire and her remains were discovered there in 1999.

Speaking of remains, there has been a multinational effort to find Bonhomme Richard for decades and it has finally turned up the storied wreck off the English coast.

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