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Be sure to remember those who gave all this season

Over the weekend I took a break from my typical kayaking, prop-comic research, napping, beer, and bingo to pitch in at the annual wreath-laying at Biloxi National Cemetery.

There were enough volunteers to honor all 20,000 graves in just an hour of work, which is great. The crowd to pick up the wreaths after Christmas will typically be smaller, but just as hard working.

It is a solemn and important way to spend a morning…and catch up with old friends in some cases.

Check with your local National Cemetery on how you can volunteer as needed. There are 136 of them across the country, and they are constantly expanding. 

Want to see what a 182-year-old defunct military academy has for sale?

One of the last remaining historic military prep schools in the country, Carson Long is now nothing more than an alumni association.

Located in New Bloomfield, Carson Long Military Academy had a history that goes back to 1836 but sadly announced this summer that, due to declining admissions, the institution would not reopen for the 2018-2019 school year.

Go ahead and try not to recall the old 1982 flick, Taps.

However, all things being relative, Carson Long was closed during the summer with a whimper. As a part to liquidate its holdings, the school contracted with Cordier’s Auctions in Harrisburg to sell the contents of the school’s armory, and it is an interesting collection.

Among the more than 400 lots up for grabs are four Pennsylvania Long Rifles with guns by renowned Perry and Lancaster county gunsmiths John Shuler, Daniel Crum, and William Sweger and dozens of M1903 rifles– Smith Coronas, Remingtons, Springfields– to include barreled actions, drill rifles etc.

Those rack numbers…

Target guns including nine Anschutz Model 54s, assorted Winchester 52s and 75s, a Savage 1933, and a couple of S&W M-15/22s.

The institute also had a decent arms museum complete with Japanese samurai swords, an M1917 Eddystone, a Winchester 1873 rifle marked “59 Atlanta Police” on the receiver, an 1884 Trapdoor Springfield, a Japanese Type 99 rifle, and these bad boys:

More in my column at Guns.com

The 44 brave submariners aboard San Juan have been located

Just over a year after the German-made Type TR-1700 SSK ARA San Juan (S-42) went missing with 44 souls aboard, she has been found.

The sad news from Ocean Infinity:

Ocean Infinity, the seabed exploration company, confirms that it has found ARA San Juan, the Argentine Navy submarine which was lost on 15 November 2017.

In the early hours of 17 November, after two months of seabed search, Ocean Infinity located what has now been confirmed as the wreckage of the ARA San Juan. The submarine was found in a ravine in 920m of water, approximately 600 km east of Comodoro Rivadavia in the Atlantic Ocean.

Oliver Plunkett, Ocean Infinity’s CEO, said:

“Our thoughts are with the many families affected by this terrible tragedy. We sincerely hope that locating the resting place of the ARA San Juan will be of some comfort to them at what must be a profoundly difficult time. Furthermore, we hope our work will lead to their questions being answered and lessons learned which help to prevent anything similar from happening again.

We have received a huge amount of help from many parties who we would like to thank. We are particularly grateful to the Argentinian Navy whose constant support and encouragement was invaluable. In addition, the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy, via the UK Ambassador in Buenos Aires, made a very significant contribution. Numerous others, including the US Navy’s Supervisor of Salvage and Diving, have supported us with expert opinion and analysis. Finally, I would like to extend a special thank you to the whole Ocean Infinity team, especially those offshore as well as our project leaders Andy Sherrell and Nick Lambert, who have all worked tirelessly for this result.”

Ocean Infinity used five Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) to carry out the search, which was conducted by a team of approximately 60 crew members on board Seabed Constructor. In addition, three officers of the Argentine Navy and four family members of the crew of the ARA San Juan joined Seabed Constructor to observe the search operation

For the San Juan: Eternal Father, Strong to Save, as performed by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and chorus.

The night the lamps came back on across Europe, 100 years ago

William Nicholson – Armistice Night, 1918.

And to remember this nearly forgotten generation who changed the map of the globe forever, here is the roll call of “the last” of the lost, courtesy of Al Nofi.

  • 1993 September 24: Danilo DajkoviÄ, at 98 the last known Montengran veteran.
  • 1995 September 6: Matsuda Chiaki, at 99 the last Japanese veteran of the war, in which he served as a naval cadet and then a junior officer, but did not see combat duty. In later life, he commanded the battleship Yamato and rose to rear admiral.
  • 1998 March 14: Zita of Bourbon-Parma, sometime Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary (1916-1918), 96, the last political figure from the war.
  • 1998 June: Saci Ben Hocine Mahdi, 100, in France, the last surviving tirailleur algerienne
  • 1998 October 11: Abdoulaye N’Diaye, 104, in Senegal, the last surviving tirailleur sénégalais.
  • 1999 April 11: Wallace Pike, 99, last veteran of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment who served at the Somme and the last Newfoundlander to have served in the war.
  • 2000 March: Norman Kark, 102, the last South African veteran.
  • 2001 June 22: Bertie Felstead, 106, formerly of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, the last known English survivor of the Christmas Truce of 1914.
  • 2002 January 12: Robert Francis Ruttledge, 103, the last British veteran of the Indian Army.
  • 2003 February 12: Bright Williams, 105, the last New Zealand veteran, of the 3rd Battalion, New Zealand Rifle Brigade.
  • 2003 March: George Blackman, 105, in Barbados, the last veteran of the West India Regiment
  • 2003 May 5: José Ladeira, at 107, the last Portuguese veteran.
  • 2003 August 9: Alois Vocásek, 107, the last veteran of the Czechoslovak Legion.
  • 2003 August 9: Charlotte Louise Berry Winters, 109, the last U.S. Navy “Yeomanette” and the last American woman veteran of the war.
  • 2003 October 9: Yod Sangrungruang, 106, the last veteran from Siam.
  • 2004 June 22: Aleksa Radovanović, at 105, the last veteran of the Serbian Army, and apparently the last veteran of the Salonika Front.
  • 2004 September 16: Cyrillus-Camillus Barbary, who died in the U.S. at 105, was the last Belgian veteran.
  • 2005 October 18: William Evan Crawford Allan, at 106, sometime Royal Australian Navy (1914-1948), the last Australian veteran to have seen active service in both world wars.
  • 2005 November 21: Alfred Anderson, 109, a veteran of the Black Watch, he was the last survivor of the Christmas Truce of 1914, the last Scottish veteran of the war, and the oldest man in Scotland.
  • 2006 March 4: August Bischof, 105, the last known veteran of the Austrian Empire.
  • 2007 January 9: Gheorghe Pănculescu, 103, the last Romanian veteran of the Great War, though he did not see frontline service; he later rose to general.
  • 2007 March 29: Lloyd Brown, at 109, the last US Navy veteran.
  • 2008 January 1: Erich Kästner, at 107 the last German veteran of the Great War and the last Central Powers veteran of the Western Front.
  • 2008 January 12: StanisÅ‚aw Wycech, 105, the last veteran of the Polish armed forces.
  • 2008 April 2: Yakup Satar, at 110 the last veteran of the Ottoman Army.
  • 2008 May 7: Franz Künstler, who died at 107 in Germany, was the last veteran from the erstwhile lands of the Crown of Hungary, the last Austro-Hungarian veteran, and last Central Powers veteran of the Great War.
  • 2008 March 12: Lazare Ponticelli, who died in France at 110, was the last French Foreign Legion veteran of the war (1914-1915), the next-to-last Italian veteran (1915-1918) and probably also the last “Boy Soldier” of the war, having enlisted at 16.
  • 2008 October 6: Delfino Borroni, at 110 the last know Italian Great War veteran, the last veteran of the Alpine Front, and at his death the oldest man in Italy.
  • 2008 November 20: Pierre Picault, at 109 the last French veteran of the war, and at his death the oldest man in France.
  • 2008 December 26: Mikhail Efimovich Krichevsky, who died in Ukraine at 111, was the last veteran of the Russian Imperial Army to have served in the war.
  • 2009 July 18: Henry Allingham, 113, the last Jutland veteran, the last veteran of the Royal Naval Air Service, the last original member of the RAF, and the oldest man in the world.
  • 2009 July 25: Henry John “Harry” Patch, at 111 “the Last Fighting Tommy”, the last known veteran of the Western Front, and the oldest man in Europe.
  • 2010 January 18: John Henry Foster “Jack” Babcock, at 109 the last known Canadian veteran of the Great War, though he had not seen combat.
  • 2009 June 3: John Campbell “Jack” Ross, 110, the last Australian to have served during the war, though he had never left the Commonwealth.
  • 2011 May 5: Claude Stanley Choules, who died at 110 in Australia, was the last known combat veteran of the Great War, the last veteran of the Grand Fleet, the last naval veteran of the Great War, and the last veteran to fight in both World Wars.
  • 2011 February 27: Frank Woodruff Buckles, at 110 the last veteran of the American Expeditionary Forces in the First World War, an ambulance driver.
  • 2012 February 4: Florence Patterson Green, who died at 110, was the last veteran of the Women’s RAF, 1918-1919, and the last person known to have served in World War I.

More on the Armistice of Compiègne itself in the below special from France 24, and what became of Foch’s famous railway carriage.

97 years ago today: Dewey’s flagship, bringing home the saddest casualty back from ‘Over There’

A colorized image of the Unknown Soldier’s casket being carried off of OLYMPIA, which is featured in the background. Via Independence Seaport Museum. You can see Gen. Blackjack Pershing to the right, commander of the AEF, and an honor guard of Marines in blues.

On this date, November 9th, 1921, cruiser OLYMPIA arrived at the Washington Navy Yard carrying the Unknown Soldier of the first World War, having brought the casket across the stormy Atlantic Ocean from Le Havre, France. It was at this time that the casket was transferred from the hands of the U.S. Navy aboard OLYMPIA to the waiting Army contingent, who would then carry the body to Arlington National Cemetery for interment where he rests at the Tomb of the Unknowns today.

Combat Gallery Sunday: A Dear Visit

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: A Dear Visit

Maximilian Franz Viktor Zdenko Marie Kurzweil was born 12 October 1867 in the small Moravian town of Bisenz (Bzenec)– then in the Austro-Hungarian Empire now in the Czech Republic– the son of a failing sugar manufacturer. Once the family business tanked altogether, young Max relocated to Vienna where he attended school and later, with an eye for painting, the esteemed Academy of Fine Art (Akademie der bildenden Künste), an institution that famously twice-rejected young Adolf Hitler for lack of talent.

Obligated to perform his military service to Kaiser Franz Josef, Max in 1891 enlisted in the Imperial Army as what was termed a “one-year-volunteer” or Einjährig-Freiwilliger. A curious practise at the time in Central Europe (also mimicked in France and Russia), such a volunteer– typically an educated young man of means– paid for their own room, board, uniforms and personal equipment while serving (for free) with an active duty regiment as a nominal cadet corporal, filling their spare time studying military textbooks. At the end of the year, providing they were found to be of officer material after a review and examination administered by a board, these volunteers would pass into the reserve as a subaltern.

Max was accepted as an EF with the famous k.u.k. Dragonerregiment Nr. 3, which dated back to 1768 and had covered itself in glory during the Napoleonic Wars. Based in Stockerau on the outskirts of Vienna, the German-speaking unit was typically referred to as the “Saxon Dragoons” (Sachsen Dragoner) due to the fact that the honorary colonel-in-chief of the unit was the king of Saxony. Serving from June 1891 to June 1892, Kurzweil passed his review and moved to the regiment’s reserve list as a lieutenant, fulfilling his obligation to the Kaiser by 1902, at which point his name was put on the retired list.

It was just after he left active duty that Max painted what I feel was his most endearing work. Ein Lieber Besuch (A dear visit), is an oil painting he finished in 1894 showing a young man, surrounded by Austrian dragoons which you take to be his comrades, in hospital being visited by what is perceived to be his warhorse. It was no doubt very familiar to the artist in many ways.

It was an early footnote in Max’s career, as he returned to Vienna, moved in the same circles as Klimt, summered on the Dalmatian coast and in Brittany, spent lots of time in Paris, helped found the Secessionist movement at Vienna’s Künstlerhaus, took a French wife, and fell in love with a pupil– Helene Heger.

Then came war.

At 46, Kurzweil, childless, listless and moody (his wife had been separated from him as she was in France when hostilities began) he was too old to lead a cavalry troop but was nonetheless recalled to active duty. Assigned to work on the Serbo-Montenegrin Front as a war artist, he returned to Vienna on leave in May 1916, where he met his lover one last time at his studio and entered into a suicide pact using his service pistol. He is buried in Vienna’s Hütteldorfer Cemetery.

A self-portrait

However, his simple but poignant horse painting had become a very popular postcard in war-torn Austria, surely evoking memories of love and loss to many.

As for the 3rd Dragoons, stationed in Krakow, then on the Austrian frontier, in 1914 as part of 3. Kavallerietruppendivision, they fought the Russians on the Eastern Front and, late in the war, lost their horses, converting to foot infantry. In 1919, they were disbanded, although, in 1967, Panzerbataillon 33 of the reformed Austrian Army adopted the old regiment’s lineage. Today, PzB 33 uses Leopard 2A4 tanks.

Ein Lieber Besuch since 1965 has been in the collection of the Österreichische Galerie Belvedere in Vienna, who have several of Kurzweil’s works. He is considered today to be one of the most important Austrian artists of his era. Additionally, his art is in the American Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco and the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia

Thank you for your work, sir.

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.

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