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 Martial Art of Robert Gibb
Robert Gibb was as Scottish as they came, born in Laurieston, near Falkirk 28 October 1845, and educated in Edinburgh. He studied at the Royal Scottish Academy and exhibited his first of more than 140 works there in 1867. It should come as no surprise that he was one of the great chroniclers of Highlanders in the field.
His first stab at the military genre came with Comrades in 1878, depicting men of the 42nd Highlanders (The Black Watch) in the Crimea.
Besides the Crimea, he also portrayed the Scots at Waterloo.
Late in his life, he also painted the Highlanders in the Great War.
He produced Backs to the Wall at age 84. In this painting, the artist shows a line of khaki-clad Scottish troops standing defiantly at the critical moment, bayonets fixed– with the specters of fallen comrades behind them.
The work was inspired by Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig’s famous Special Order of the Day at the time of the Great German Offensive of April 1918.
There is no other course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause each one of us must fight on to the end. The safety of our homes and the Freedom of mankind alike depend upon the conduct of each one of us at this critical moment.
Gibb held the office of King’s painter and limner for Scotland for 25 years and was Keeper of the National Gallery of Scotland from 1895 until 1907. The artist died at his home in Edinburgh in 1932, and he was given a full military funeral with an honor guard provided by the Black Watch.
Many of his works are on display across the UK and are available online.
Thank you for your work, sir.
Here we see the full Royal New Zealand Navy Task Group back in the day off Hauraki Gulf, sometime in the early to 1990s, with four aging but well-maintained steam-powered frigates clustered around the fleet’s new oiler. Note the three airborne Wasp helicopters.
The four frigates are Leander-class vessels, which proved the backbone of the RN and Commonwealth fleets in the Cold War. Waikato and Canterbury were purpose-built Batch 3 Leanders to replace WWII-era NZ ships such as the old light cruiser Royalist. Notably, these two Kiwi frigates relieved British ships of the Persian Gulf Armilla Patrol during the 1982 Falklands conflict, freeing British ships for deployment.
This latter fact led to the RN transferring HMS Dido and HMS Bacchante to New Zealand in 1983 as payback.
All four of these frigates were retired post-Cold War, replaced two-for-one by a pair of more modern ANZAC-class ships of a modified German MEKO 200 design (although they had been offered two FFG-7s shorthulls of 15–17 years age for a song.) The two Australian-built frigates arrived between 1997-99 and the New Zealand navy has stuck to a two-frigate force since then.
*HMS Dido/HMNZS Southland was decommissioned 1995 and scrapped at Goa.
*HMNZS Waikato was decommissioned in 1998 and sunk as an artificial reef off the coast of Tutukaka.
*HMS Bacchante/HMNZS Wellington was decommissioned 1999 and sunk in Wellington Harbour as a reef in 2005.
*HMNZS Canterbury decommissioned 2005 and was herself reefed in 2007.
The 12,300-ton Endeavour, a commercial design from South Korea commissioned 8 April 1988, is still active and is a common sight during RIMPAC exercises. She deployed to East Timor as part of the Australian-led INTERFET peacekeeping taskforce twice. She is the last of the vessels in the image above still afloat.
During the 1939-40 Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union, a hunter and farmer by trade by the name of Simo Hayha returned to his reserve unit and picked up 542 confirmed kills with iron sights.
While versions of Hayha’s story is well known in the West, the 192 pages of Tapio Saarelainen’s White Sniper goes past the second and third-hand accounts and brings you, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story.
It should be noted that Saarelainen is a career military officer who spent two decades training precision marksmen for the Finnish Army and even helped write that Scandinavian country’s manual for snipers. Besides this obvious resume to prepare him to write the work on Hayha, the author also met and interviewed the Winter War hero dozens of times over a five year period.
That’s a good part of what makes White Sniper such an interesting read is that it is drawn largely from first-hand accounts from a man who has been referred to as the deadliest sniper in history, but also from those who lived next to, fought alongside with, and knew the man personally. As such, it sheds insight on the man not known in the West. Such as the fact that he used his own personal Finnish-made Mosin M/28-30 rifle that he had paid for with his own funds. That his outnumbered fellow Finns, fighting alongside him in the frozen Kollaa region during that harsh winter, called him “Taika-ampuja” which translates roughly as the “Magic Shooter.” That he took almost as many moose and foxes in his life as he did Russians. That he was unassuming in later life, spending most of his time calling on old friends in his yellow VW Bettle.
To check out Saarelainen’s book on Amazon here.
The British Army’s Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment (HCMR) traces its lineage back to the 1660s– to King Charles II’s Life Guards and the Earl of Oxford’s Blues — and its horse-mounted unit, after the reforms of 1992, now consists of one 75-member sabre squadron plus a mounted band from each regiment of the Household Cavalry (the red tunic wearing Life Guards and the black tunic wearing Blues and Royals), each with their distinctive cuirass and plumed “Albert” helmet.
Based at their Hyde Park Barracks, they are on “public duty” which consists of ceremonial operations around London and the royal estates to include state visits, Investitures, the opening of Parliment, etc. The standard unit is a 25-man mounted division, though this can be halved. All told, the force, with their H/HS complete with staff, vets, saddlers and farriers, amounts to about 350 officers, NCOs and troopers.
“For the first time in recent memory, the Regiment were joined by their cavalry cousins from the Swedish Livgardet and Danish Gardehusarregiment. The Swedish Life Guards and Danish Guard Hussar Regiment each fielded an officer and senior non-commissioned officer, dressed in their equivalent ceremonial uniforms, to ride in the parade.”
Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 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 Mar. 22, 2017: The Cowboy Monitor
Here we see the Arkansas-class monitor USS Wyoming (Monitor # 10) on a postal card published by Edward H. Mitchell, San Francisco, California, featuring a tinted photograph of the vessel taken in her prime, circa 1902-1908. It should be noted that Wyoming was the last seagoing monitor ordered for the U.S. Navy, ending a string of vessels that began in 1861.
John Ericsson’s steam-powered low freeboard ironclad, USS Monitor, with her “cheesebox on a raft” rotating turret design in the early days of the Civil War, led to an entire fleet of river, harbor, coastal and seagoing takes on the same concept that saw some 60~ monitors take to the builders’ yards (though not all were completed) by 1866.
By 1874, ostensibly as part of the “great repairs” the Navy ordered the first “modern” monitor, USS Puritan (M-1), a 6,000-ton beast with a quartet of 12‑inch guns and 14-inches of armor that acquitted herself in service during the Spanish-American War– though she was obsolete at the time.
However, the Navy still piled on the monitor bandwagon, completing four vessels of the Amphitrite-class, the one-off USS Monterey, and (wait for it) the four-ship swan song of the type: USS Arkansas (M-7), Connecticut/Nevada (M-8), Florida (M-9), and our hero, Wyoming (M-10).
These craft were 255-feet overall and weighed 3,350-tons full load but drew a gentle 12.5-feet of seawater. Armed with a single Mark 4 turret with a dual mounting of 12″/40 caliber Mark 3 guns along with four 4″ singles and some 6-pounders, they were slathered in as much as 11-inches of Harvey steel armor. Four boilers, when new, could push the ships’ steam plant to make these hogs touch 13-kts on trials, which was good for 1898. Not great, but good.
Each of the class was laid down at approximately the same time (the Span-Am War was on at the time and ships were needed, dammit), but in different yards. Arkansas at Newport News, Nevada at Bath in Maine, Florida at Crescent Shipyard, Elizabeth, New Jersey, and Wyoming— the only one on the West Coast– at Union Iron Works, San Francisco. Though technically Nevada was commissioned (as Connecticut at first) on 5 March 1903, Wyoming was the last of the class ordered and was accepted months before, entering service on 8 December 1902.
Her total cost, $1,624,270.59– some $500,000 more than Arkansas yet $200,000 under the price paid for Connecticut/Nevada.
She was a handsome if dated, ship.
In October 1903 after her shakedown, Wyoming was dispatched to Panamanian waters along with the cruiser Boston, where she landed a few Marines to look after Washington’s interests.
Panama at the time was part of Colombia though separatists, eager to restart the failed French canal effort with U.S. help, wanted to change that. With Wyoming on hand to provide literal gunboat diplomacy of the Teddy Roosevelt era, on November 13 the U.S formally recognized the Republic of Panama and told Colombia about it later. As the biggest Colombian Navy ship in Panama’s Pacific waters was the 600-ton gunboat Bogota (one 14-pounder gun, eight 6-pounders), which the Wyoming vastly outmuscled, the Colombians agreed.
Meanwhile, the gunboat USS Nashville (PG-7), operating on the Carribean coast of Panama, prevented the Colombians in Colon from using the railway to reinforce their forces there, leaving them in an untenable situation. The new Republic of Panama gave the U.S. control of the Canal Zone on 23 February 1904, for $10 million in accordance with the Hay–Bunau-Varilla Treaty.
From DANFS on her Panamanian Vacation:
The monitor accordingly arrived in Panamanian waters on 13 November (1903) and sailed up the Tuira River in company with the protected cruiser Boston, with a company of Marines under Lt. S. A. M. Patterson, USMC, and Lt. C. B. Taylor, USMC, embarked, to land at “Yariza” and observe the movements of Colombian troops.
The presence of American armed might there and elsewhere ultimately resulted in independence for the Panamanians. During that time, Wyoming anchored at the Bay of San Miguel on 15 December. The following day, a boat with 11 Marines embarked left for the port of La Palma, under sail. While Boston departed the scene on the 17th, Wyoming shifted to La Palma on the following day. There, Lt. Patterson, USMC, with a detachment of 25 Marines, commandeered the steamer Tuira and took her upriver. While the Marines were gone, a party of evacuated American nationals came out to the monitor in her gig.
Meanwhile, Patterson’s Marines had joined the ship’s landing force at the village of Real to keep an eye on American interests there. Back at La Palma, Wyoming continued to take on board American nationals fleeing from the troubled land and kept up a steady stream of supplies to her landing party of Bluejackets and Marines at Real. Ultimately, when the need for them had passed, the landing party returned to the ship on Christmas Eve.
Wyoming remained in Panamanian waters into the spring of 1904 keeping a figurative eye on local conditions before she departed Panama Bay on 19 April, bound for Acapulco.
After this, Wyoming returned to quiet service off the West Coast and in 1908 was converted from being coal-fired to using oil fuel– the first ship to do so in the fleet.
In 1909, her name was stripped from her to be given to a new battleship and she was dubbed USS Cheyenne. Likewise, at about the same time Arkansas switched her name to USS Ozark, Nevada— renamed for the second time in a decade– to USS Tonopah, and Florida to USS Tallahassee.
By 1910, Wyoming/Cheyenne was on the reserve list and being used by the Washington Naval Militia off Bremerton until late 1913.
Brought back into regular fleet service, Cheyenne was used as a submarine tender for the 2d SUB Div in Puget Sound, Mare Island, San Francisco, and San Pedro between August 1913-April 1917, only interrupting them for two trips down to rowdy Mexico, then involved in a civil war, to evacuate U.S and foreign nationals trapped in the volatile region.
When the U.S. entered the Great War in April 1917, our rough and ready West Coast monitor continued her service until late in the war she was ordered to the Atlantic for the first time in her service. There, Cheyenne served as a tender for submarines operating in the Gulf of Mexico area, and for nine months in 1919 was again active off Mexico, resting with her quiet guns in Tampico harbor.
In 1920, Cheyenne was decommissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, then used as a pierside training hulk in Baltimore for Fifth Naval District Naval Reserve Force members until 1926, carrying the hull number IX-4 on the Naval List before she was mothballed at Philadelphia. She was sold for scrapping in April 1939.
As such, she was the last monitor on the U.S. Navy’s battle line, surviving all her sisters and cousins by more than 15 years.
3,225 long tons (3,277 t) (standard)
3,356 long tons (3,410 t) (full load)
255 feet 1 inch (77.75 m) (overall)
252 ft. (77 m) (waterline)
Beam: 50 ft. (15 m)
Draft: 12 ft. 6 in (3.81 m) (mean)
4 × Thornycroft boilers
2,400 indicated horsepower (1,800 kW)
1,739 ihp (1,297 kW) (on trials)
2 × Vertical triple expansion engines
2 × screw propellers
12.5 knots (23.2 km/h; 14.4 mph) (design)
12.03 kn (22.28 km/h; 13.84 mph) (on trial)
Complement: 13 officers 209 men
2 × 12 in (305 mm)/40 caliber breech-loading rifles (1×2)
4 × 4 in (102 mm)/40 cal guns (4×1)
3 × 6-pounder 57 mm (2.2 in) guns
Side belt: 11–5 in (280–130 mm)
Barbette: 11–9 in (280–230 mm)
Gun turret: 10–9 in (250–230 mm)
Deck: 1.5 in (38 mm)
Conning tower: 8 in (200 mm)
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FM 23-25, War Department Basic Field Manual, Bayonet, WAR DEPARTMENT WASHINGTON 25, D. C, 7 September 1943:
1. THE SPIRIT OF THE BAYONET
The will to meet and destroy the enemy in hand-to-hand combat is the spirit of the bayonet. It springs from the fighter’s confidence, courage, and grim determination, and is the result of vigorous training. Through training, the fighting instinct of the individual soldier is developed to the highest point. The will to use the bayonet first appears in the trainee when he begins to handle it with facility, and increases as his confidence grows. The full development of his physical prowess and complete confidence in his weapon culminates in the final expression of the spirit of the bayonet—fierce and relentless destruction of the enemy. For the enemy, demoralizing fear of the bayonet is added to the destructive power of every bomb, shell, bullet, and grenade which supports and precedes the bayonet attack.
2. USES OF THE BAYONET
• a. A determined enemy may not be driven from his position by fire alone. Making full use of cover and concealment, he will often remain in his position until driven out in hand-to-hand combat. The bayonet or the threat of it, therefore, is the ultimate factor in every assault.
• b. At night, on infiltration missions, or whenever secrecy must be preserved, the bayonet is the weapon of silence and surprise.
• c. In close combat, when friend and foe are too closely intermingled to permit the use of bullets or grenades, the bayonet is the primary weapon of the infantry soldier.
3. PRINCIPLES OF BAYONET FIGHTING
• a. The bayonet is an offensive weapon. With it, aggressiveness wins. Hesitation, preliminary maneuvering, and fencing are fatal. The delay of a fraction of a second may mean death.
• b. The bayonet fighter attacks in a fast, relentless assault until his opponent is destroyed. He takes instant advantage of any opening; if the enemy gives no opening, the attacker makes one by parrying his opponent’s weapon and driving blade or butt into him with killing force.
• c. As the throat area is especially sensitive to attack by the bayonet, an opponent will act instinctively to protect this area from a thrust. By threatening his opponent’s throat with the point of the bayonet, the attacker will frequently cause him to uncover other vulnerable parts of the body. Other sensitive parts frequently exposed to the attacker’s thrust are the face, chest, abdomen, and groin.
4. DEVELOPING BAYONET FIGHTER From the outset bayonet training will be conducted with constant emphasis on developing proper form, quickness with the rifle and bayonet, footwork, and accuracy. Continued striving for these four essential qualities will develop the coordination, balance, speed, strength, and endurance that mark the expert bayonet fighter. Differences in conformation of individuals may require minor deviations from the prescribed bayonet technique. Those deviations which do not detract from the effectiveness of the individual’s attack will be disregarded.
With the above in mind, check out the brutal dissection of how the rifle butt is traditionally used as explained by Matt Easton of Schola Gladiatoria:
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Btw.
Named after a style of visionary dream poem, the former Irish Navy’s Emer-class 1,000-ton offshore patrol vessel LÉ Aisling (P23) will be put up for auction at the Carrigaline Court Hotel on March 23rd where Cork auctioneer Dominic Daly will seek to obtain the best price for the State for the ship.
One of four Irish Naval Services ships to be built at Verolme Cork Dockyard (and the last greyhull to leave that yard), LÉ Aisling commissioned in 1980 and was stricken last June after over 35 years of service.
Armed with a single 40mm Bofors L70, a couple of 20mm GAMBO cannon and some 7.62mm GPMGs, Aisling made a name for herself in a running battle with the Spanish fishing trawler Sonia (330-tons) in 1984, firing 600~ rounds in warning shots while the Spanish vessel attempted repeatedly to ram. Sonia later sank after Aisling broke contact.
The same year she captured the trawler Marita Ann, sailing with 160 guns (including some stolen M2 Brownings via National Guard armories) and 71,000 rounds of ammo aboard rumored to have been sent to the IRA by connections of Whitey Bulger.
She also responded to the Air India Flight 182 disaster and others lost at sea.
The 214-foot Aisling reportedly put in 628,856 nautical miles in her 35 years and thought was given to making her a museum ship, though that has apparently fallen through.
She is the last of her class in Ireland.
Class leader LÉ Emer (P21) commissioned into the Nigerian Navy as a training ship and renamed NNS Prosperity in 2015 after a Nigerian businessman’s scheme to use her as a personal yacht fell through. Sister LÉ Aoife (P22) was donated to Malta in 2015 to help that country pluck migrant refugees from the Med. The half-sister and prototype to the Emer-class, the one-off Deirdre (P20), was stricken in 2003 and, after a career as a yacht, was scrapped in Florida in 2014.