The combat exploits of the U.S. Marine Corps in France in 1918 are legend. This can be attributed to the men of the 5th Marine Regiment who came over with the first round of American troops in June 1917, followed by the 6th Marines in February 1918. The two regiments, along with the 4th Marine Machine Gun Battalion, formed the 4th Marine Brigade, which fought with the U.S. Army’s 2nd Infantry Division. Proving a rock between the proverbial hard place in the Chateau-Thierry sector and Belleau Wood before helping to blunt the German St. Mihiel offensive in September before tackling Blanc Mont Ridge, capturing St. Etienne and ending the war on the banks of the Meuse River.
Then came their part in the Army of German Occupation, which saw the 4th Marine Brigade march into the Rhine on 13 December 1918, a duty they maintained until June 1919.
“Brigade headquarters were successively established at Margut, Bellefontaine, Anon, Usseldange, Berg, Eppeldorf, Neuerburgh, Waxweiler, Prum, Budesheim, Weisbaum, Antweiler, Neuenahr, Burgbrohl, Rheinbrohi, and Honningen.”
These photos come from the ersatz USMC Rhine River Patrol, likely during the early (winter) part of 1919 due to the presence of heavy greatcoats and other cold-weather gear. They were likely taken during the inspection by of SECNAV Josephus “Cup of Joe” Daniels, who reviewed the 2nd ID and its Marine units in Germany in April 1919 or perhaps by Pershing, who visited the group in March, as the crew are at attention and saluting.
Of interest, the Polizei-marked patrol boat is not equipped with a USMC-standard Lewis gun, M1904 Maxim or M1917 Browning, but rather a German Spandau Maschinengewehr 08, or MG 08, to include its distinctive Schlittenlafette sled mount.
Both the 4th Brigade and the follow-on 5th Marine Brigade (11th & 13th Marine Rgts, 5th MG btln) ended their European vacation in the summer and arrived back in the States in August 1919.
For more on the Marines in the Great War, the USMC Archives has a great 118-page historical reference on the subject, here.
As you may know, the 244th Birthday of the U.S. Navy (well, technically begun as the Continental Navy) is this week.
Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer wishes the Navy and all the Sailors and civilians around the fleet a happy 244th birthday:
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday and Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David Berger 244th U.S. Navy Birthday message:
A few platforms with a decidedly long life are fading away this week with others being on their last legs.
The Republic of Ireland in 1972 picked up nine French-built Cessna 172 variants which have proved solid workhorses in the past 47 years. The Reims Rocket FR172H were originally intended for border patrol during “The Troubles” and could be fitted with a pair of Matra rocket pods under each wing.
Over the course of 63,578 hours clocked up (7k hours per airframe), they fulfilled various roles besides border surveillance including “explosive escorts, cash escorts, in-shore maritime surveillance, target towing, bog surveys, wildlife surveys, general transportation flights, and even one air ambulance mission.”
They will be replaced by a trio of (unarmed) Pilatus PC-12NG Spectres.
Meanwhile, as noted by Naval Air Forces Atlantic, the last Navy F/A-18C Hornet, aircraft number 300, made its official final active-duty flight at Naval Air Station Oceana, Oct. 2.
“Assigned to the Navy’s East Coast Fleet Replacement Squadron, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 at Cecil Field, Florida, aircraft number 300 completed its first Navy acceptance check flight Oct. 14, 1988. Lt. Andrew Jalali, who piloted the Hornet for its final flight was also born in 1988.
The aircraft has remained with the Gladiators for its entire 31-years of service. The aircraft took off from NAS Oceana accompanied by three F/A-18F Super Hornets for a one-and-a-half-hour flight and return to Oceana where it will be officially stricken from the inventory, stripped of all its usable parts and be scrapped.”
Notably, the Marines still fly the type while overseas allies such as Canada, Switzerland, Australia, Finland, Spain, Malaysia, and Kuwait also keep the older Hornets around.
Meanwhile, in semi-related news, the “Rhino” looks short-listed to be adopted by the Germans to replace their increasingly aged Panavia Tornados. Then-West Germany went with the swing-wing Cold War classic in 1974 to replace the scary dangerous F-104 Starfighter for both ground strike/air defense by the Luftwaffe and maritime strike in the Baltic by the Bundesmarine’s Marinefliegerkommando.
How about some of that old school 1970s Tornado goodness?
Today, just 90~ active Tornados are left of the original 359 picked up by Bonn and are slated to be phased out by 2025. The RAF has already put the type out to pasture while the Italians are not far behind.
Apparently, it is the Super Hornet’s easy likelihood of being able to quickly be cleared to carry NATO-pooled B61 tactical nukes– a mission currently dedicated to the German Tornados– that gave it the upper hand over the Eurofighter Typhoon and others.
In the interest of, Happy Friday, here is this May 1945 U.S. Army Signal Corps image of an M4 Sherman tank crew from the Library of Congress.
“A tank sunk in 5 feet of water waits for towing equipment. The Tank Commander gives vent to his feelings with a string of unprintable phraseology, while his driver uses a helmet to bale out the interior. Okinawa.”
In a follow-up on the Leopard jump yesterday, let us show a little love to some Detriot muscle with a bit of Tiger roar.
Official caption: An M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank with the 1st Marine Division fires during the Tank Gunnery Competition (TIGERCOMP) on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, August 29. TIGERCOMP is an annual force competition that determines the Marine Corps’ most lethal tank crew. The winning crew from 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve, will have the opportunity to represent the Marine Corps in the Sullivan Cup, which is the Army’s total force tank gunnery competition.
“Pre-Surrender Nocturne Tokyo Bay.”
Painting, Watercolor on Paper; by Standish Backus; 1945. Depicting the old forts at Futtsu Saki, a narrow point of land jutting into the eastern side of Uraga Strait at the entrance to Tokyo Bay, a burnt-out Japanese destroyer, and the eeriness of the moonlight:
The artist’s notes:
The forts at Futtsu Saki had to be approached and demobilized early on the morning of 30 August 1945. No landings from the sea had yet occurred and we did not know what sort of reception we would receive from the Japanese. From past experience, it was not expected to be healthy in all respects. Was there a division of troops in those forts waiting to mow us down as we hit the beach? Its very silence, the haunted quantity of the burnt-out Japanese destroyer, and the eeriness of the moonlight gave us all a foreboding.
The forts were, in fact, well defended, by a full regiment but the artillery on hand was old. One of the first coastal defense forts in the country, the batteries used 15cm Krupp guns in steel cupolas and several emplaced Model 1890 Osaka-made (Armstrong-Whitworth designed) 28cm howitzers that the Japanese had at least twice dismounted and used as siege guns (at both Port Arthur and Tsingtao) back when they were still relevant.
It was a pucker factor for sure.
As related by Backus in his painting “The First Wave on Japan”
The first landing craft carrying Marines of 2/4 touched the south shore of Futtsu Saki at 0558; two minutes later, the first transport plane rolled to a stop on the runway at Atsugi, and the occupation of Japan was underway. In both areas, the Japanese had followed their instructions to the letter. On Futtsu Saki the coastal guns and mortars had been rendered useless, and only the bare minimum of maintenance personnel, 22 men, remained to make a peaceful turnover of the forts and batteries. By 0845, the battalion had accomplished its mission and was reembarking for the Yokosuka landing, now scheduled for 0930.