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One generation removed from Mr. Lincoln’s Corps

Marine Lt. Wendell Cushing Neville (far left, with sword) presents the Marine Guard detachment aboard the 2nd-class battleship/armored cruiser USS Maine (ACR-1), circa 1895. Note the Springfield M1884 “Trapdoor” single-shot .45-70 rifles with the same musket-style bayonet that Napoleon would recognize, kepi headgear, leather M1864 knapsacks and “U.S.M.C” marked haversacks.

All in all, not too different from the same Marine Corps that walked the decks for Dahlgren, Farragut, and Porter.

Note the ages of these regulars. You can bet they were rather salty. From the Wendell C. Neville Collection (COLL/2985) in the Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections.

Neville (USNA 1890), of note, would later receive a MOH for his work in Mexico, lead the much better-equipped 5th Marines at Belleau Wood, and become the 14th Commandant of the Marine Corps in 1929.

Maine would later be sunk in Havana Harbor in 1898, sparking the Spanish-American War.

The Gator Navy

SAN FRANCISCO (Sept. 30, 2018) Marines and Sailors aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) pass under the Golden Gate Bridge to participate in San Francisco Fleet Week 2018, Sept. 30, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jacob A. Farbo/Released)180930-M-HD015-0025

Below is a fairly decent 5-minute tour of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) explaining the ship’s capabilities, systems and a brief history. Bonhomme Richard was in port as part of San Francisco Fleet Week. Sadly, they don’t show the cramped Marine berting areas or cover the self-defense systems. Also, there is no LCAC/LCU presence in the well deck or MV-22/CH-53/AV-8s in the hangar deck, but it still has a good look.

For a peak at a berting area, here is the USMC Cribs edition of the Green-side area of USS Green Bay (LPD 20), a San Antiono-class LPD also built at Ingalls that is very similar.

Farewell, Combat Assault Battalion

Founded 16 February 1942, the Camp Schwab, Okinawa-based Combat Assault Battalion is being phased out. Attached to the 3rd MARDIV, the “Iron Fist” operates the division’s amtracs, LAV-25 recon vehicles, and specialist engineering vehicles and is the only battalion-sized combat assault unit in the Marine Corps.


After 76 years of conducting amphibious assaults, light armored reconnaissance, and combat engineer operations, CAB is set to deactivate 12 October 2018.

Formed originally as the 1st Amphibian Tractor Battalion, they became the 1st Tracked Vehicle Battalion in 1976, the 1st Armored Assault Battalion in 1988, and finally the CAB in 1994. It is one of the most storied outfits in Marine history with unit awards for Guadalcanal, Peleliu, Finschhafen, New Britain, Okinawa, The Pusan Perimeter, Inchon-Seoul, Chosin Reservoir, Da Nang, Cua Viet, the Gulf War and the War on Terrorism.

Her elements are to be scattered to the rest of the 3d Marine Division.

The unit’s motto, Sui Generis, is akin to one-of-a-kind.

The man behind the 1911 poster

One of the most iconic images of the M1911 is the Great War recruiting painting “First to Fight” by James Montgomery Flagg.

Flagg’s portrait, made from a sitting by then-U.S. Marine Capt. Ross Erastus “Rusty” Rowell, graces man caves and military museums around the world.

Photo courtesy of Archives & Special Collections Branch, Library of the Marine Corps

According to the Marine Corps Museum, who provided the photos:

Flagg combined two important attributes of the Corps in the painting “First to Fight and Always Faithful.” He used quick strokes of the brush to create this work and only lightly painted the white stripes of the flag. And like many of the artists working for the Recruiting Bureau, Flagg donated his services.

The original painting is currently on display in the museum’s Combat Art Gallery exhibit A World at War: The Marine Corps and U.S. Navy in World War I.

As for Rowell, the Iowa State College grad and former U.S. Geological Survey topographer joined the Marines as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1906. Following WWI, he became a Marine aviator and early flight pioneer, later commanding VO-1M in Nicaragua during the Banana Wars and Commanding General, Marine Aircraft Wings, Pacific (MAWP) during WWII. He retired after 40 years of service in 1946, ranked major general. He is buried at Arlington.

The stumpy Schneider

Around the 1900s, the French firm of Schneider-Creusot, or Schneider et Cie, or simply just Schneider, was a steam-era industrial powerhouse. Starting off with locomotives and the Creusot steam hammer generation before, the company soon branched out into munition with their small and medium-caliber Canet guns for French-built warships and the famous “French 75,” the Canon de 75 modèle 1897, which would be the staple field gun of the coming Great War for her country.

By the 1910s, the company was regularly making bigger guns in 107, 120, 122, 152 and 155mm respectively, with guns and mortars of up to 280mm on the drawing board. Following a substantial contract for stubby 152mm howitzers to the Tsar in 1909 (with the local Putilov firm making them through 1919 in Eastern Europe), Schneider reworked the mount to take a 155mm bore tube and shopped it to the home team who adopted it in 1915. The aptly named Canon de 155 C modèle 1915 Schneider became the standard heavy howitzer of the French Army, who kept it in service through the Vichy era and sold spares to Allies in Belgium and Portugal.

Speaking of Allies, when the U.S. entered the war and went heavily into French and British weaponry (the main rifle of the AEF was the British-contract P14 Enfield modified for 30.06, while the principal LMG was the French Chauchat for better or worse and the primary field gun was the French 75 backed up by the French GPF), the U.S. dutifully ordered 155mm Schneiders as well.

The M1917/M1918 Schneider gun used by the U.S. was an interrupted-screw breech, 155mm bore, 13.4-caliber, built-up nickel steel cannon on a two different carriages with the first model (made in France) having a curved shield and metal tires coupled to a continuous-pull firing mechanism while the latter (U.S.-made variant) used a straight shield and pneumatic tires with a firing lock mechanism. In each variant, the total weight was about 7,600-pounds.

A total of 3,008 were bought or built with U.S. guns made under license by the American Brake Shoe Co. on carriages by Osgood-Bradley Car, using recoil mechanisms made in Detroit by Dodge.

Canon de 155 C modèle 1917 (Schneider et Cie); the curved shield and metal tires indicate that this was taken in 1918 (in France). The American produced model, 155mm Howitzer Carriage, Model 1918 (with straight shields and rubber tires) didn’t make it into action before the end of the war. The cannon cockers are wearing the M1909 holster for M1917 .45 revolver.

The last American shot fired during the Great War was fired by a 155mm Schneider howitzer called Calamity Jane, of the 11th Field Artillery Regiment.

WWI, 1918 – The French-made artillery piece, nicknamed “Calamity Jane,” operated by a crew from the US 11th Artillery Brigade, that fired the last shot of the war for the Allies near Laneuville sur Meuse, France, November 11, 1918.

The guns, especially the M1918s, remained popular interwar.

SGT James B. Aets uses a quadrant to determine the elevation of the 155mm Howitzer M1918, while CPL Charles J. Hines sights on the aiming stake. Circa 1930s. Note the straight shield and rubber combat tires of the U.S.-built model. Photo courtesy the National Archives

Another photo of the 11th FA, taken in 1936 while the unit was located in Hawaii. These artillerymen are armed with M1911 pistols carried in M1916 holsters.

The M1917/1918s were used extensively in WWII by both the Army and Marines (as well as Allies in Australia and the PPhilippines) who appreciated the compact howitzers for use in island hopping during which their 7-mile range was not a handicap.

An M1918 155mm howitzer is fired by artillery crewmen of the 11th Marines in support of ground forces attacking the enemy, Guadalcanal, 1942. Despite the lack of sound-flash equipment to locate hostile artillery. Col del Valle’s guns were able to quiet enemy fire. Department of Defense (USMC) Photo 61534

Below is a surviving example I ran across outside of a VFW in Wetumpka, Alabama.

Commandos, brews and F-35Bs ready for Brit carrier

HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) under escort by frigates HMS Iron Duke (F234) & HMS Sutherland (F81)

Next month will see the Westland 18, which will include the RN’s new Commando Merlin HC4 helicopters deploying onto the UK’s new carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Royal Marines Col. Lenny Brown, Commanding Officer, Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) talks about their new aircraft, roles and future operational capabilities including Joint Personnel Recovery (JPR) Deployed SAR and Maritime Intra-Theatre Lift and Air-to-Air refueling in the below interview with Janes. The UK is currently in the process of upgrading 25 AW101 Merlins to the HC4 configuration to replace the retired Commando Sea King. This upgrade includes cockpit modernizations and minor redesigns, standard naval changes like a folding rotor head, strengthened landing gear, deck lashing points, and a fast-roping point for the Marines.

Incidentally, QEs afloat pub, The Queen’s Head, just opened, which includes a carrier-themed microbrew.

No doubt the U.S. Marines deployed on the British flattop to evaluate its use as an F-35 platform (capable of carrying 24 in the hangar and six on deck), will appreciate the suds.

Incidentally, the U.S. Navy officially became dry under General Order No. 99, issued on 1 July 1914 by the 41st SECNAV, Josephus Daniels– leading of course to the term “cup of joe” for coffee.

A 1914 lament on the infamous Order 99

Hell for leather

You would be surprised by how much the U.S. military still uses horses these days. In the past few weeks, all of these pieces came out over the PAO wire for the Pentagon.

“Marines located in Barstow, California are part of the only mounted color guard in the Corps. They travel the country participating in ceremonies, continuing one of the oldest traditions of Marine Corps.”

The 30th Space Wing, Vandenberg AFB, has the only working horse patrol in the U.S. Air Force, used for law enforcement work across the huge base.

And, “Marines and soldiers attend a 15-day special operational forces horsemanship course from June 06, 2018 to June 21, 2018, at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport, California. This course teaches its students the benefits of navigating through rough terrain with the aid of animals.”

Pulaski, Sheridan, Grierson, and Patton would surely be tickled.

And the U.S. aren’t the only ones. Behold, the Auftrag für den Reitzug der Bundeswehr.

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