Social Distancing: Scots Guards Edition

Using the standard British Army pace stick–the 30-inch measure introduced by Sandhurst Sgt. Maj. Arthur Brand in 1928– WO2 Drill Sergeant Rae, 1/Scots Guards explains and demonstrates the correct distance individuals should keep apart, during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The Scots Guards have been following such rules for PT, which, unlike many U.S. units and branches, still remains standard in the British Army, even in garrison.

Speaking of the Guards, the ceremonial changing of the guards at Buckingham and elsewhere this week changed to a more understated “Administrative Guard Mount” where the Old Guard hands over duties to the New Guard without music or ceremony. It is not a new drill as it is standard for situations, for instance, during heavy rainfall.

Looks like rain.

75 Years Ago Today: The Rolling W Across the Rhine

On this day in 1945, the below image caught Soldiers of the U.S. 89th Infantry Division rolling across the Rhine at Oberwesel, Germany, 26 March 1945, carried by landing craft.

Note the above highlights the range of infantry weapons carried at the time including M-1 rifles– one with a rifle grenade attachment, Thompson M1 submachine gun, and an M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle.

NARA Photo U. S. Signal Corps 202464

The 89th “Rolling W” Division landed in France on 10 January 1945 and saw first combat on 12 March– just two weeks before the above image was taken. In their 57 Days under fire in the ETO, they suffered 1,029 casualties and produced no less than 46 Silver Star recipients. In addition, they helped liberate Ohrdruf, a Buchenwald subcamp.

Surface warfare work never really changes

USS DeKalb, officer firing a 1-pounder (37mm) Hotchkiss gun while a Sailor observes, 18 May 1918.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 41702

Fast forward 102 years:

PHILIPPINE SEA (March 10, 2020) Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Shelby Wilkes fires a Mark 38 25mm machine gun during a live-fire exercise aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89).

(U.S. Navy photo 200310-N-AJ005-1173 by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cody Beam/Released) 

Warship Wednesday, March 25, 2020: Lady Lex off Panama

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 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

(This week’s WW abbreviated due to events.)

Warship Wednesday, March 25, 2020: Lady Lex off Panama

Original negative given by Mr. Franklin Moran in 1967. Naval History and Heritage Command photo NH 64501

Here we see the U.S. Navy’s second aircraft carrier, the brand-new USS Lexington (CV-2) off Panama City, Panama on 25 March 1928, some 92 years ago today.

The fourth U.S. Naval vessel named for the iconic scrap against Minutemen and a detachment of British troops on 19 April 1776, Lexington had originally been designed and laid down as a battlecruiser, designated CC-1.

Authorized to be converted and completed as an aircraft carrier 1 July 1922 she commissioned 14 December 1927, Capt. Albert W. Marshall in command.

The above photo and the four that follow were taken while the $39 million “Lady Lex” was on her shakedown cruise, deploying from her East Coast builders to her homeport at San Pedro, California, where she would arrive on 7 April 1928 and spend the next 13 years of her life.

NH 64697

NH 64699. At the time, she carried her inaugural air group to include Curtiss F6C fighters and Martin T3M torpedo planes, which can be seen on deck.

Note her twin 8″/55 gun mounts. NH 64698

“‘A close squeeze.’ U.S.S. Lexington. 33,000-ton aeroplane carrier, going through Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal.” Courtesy Jim Ferguson via Navsource. http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/02.htm

Of note, Lex had only received her first aircraft aboard only two months prior to her Panama photoshoot.

First plane on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Lexington– a Martin T3M –at the South Boston Naval Annex January 14, 1928, Leslie Jones Collection Boston Public Library. Note her 8-inch guns

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

What was in the rucks and saddlebags while chasing Villa

Steve1989, who runs a crazy MRE/ration testing channel on YouTube, laid hands on a Dec. 1906-born-on U.S. Army Emergency Ration. About the size of a large can of soup, it weighs 20-ounces and consists of bread, pemmican, and chocolate totaling about 2,000 calories if everything but the tin and paper packaging is wolfed down.

And, yes, he tastes it, and it seems to hold up to a degree. I mean for a century-old ration, anyway.

This would be the standard ration for the first part of the 20th Century and would be what the boys used in the Philipines, Pershing’s Punitive Expedition would lug around Mexico, and the earlier Doughboys take “Over There.”

These guys

Ruger goes pistol with their PC Carbine

Based on the company’s popular PC Carbine, Ruger’s new feature-rich PC Charger pistol just hit the market. It was likely supposed to debut at the NRA Show next month but as the annual event, along with everything else in the country, is canceled, Ruger released it digitally.

Using a 6.5-inch threaded barrel and a glass-filled polymer chassis system that allows for the use of standard AR pistol grips, the takedown PC Charger is 16.5-inches long overall. Hitting the scales at 5.2-pounds, it comes with an integrated rear Picatinny rail for pistol braces.

The Charger uses a hard-coat anodized aluminum handguard with Magpul M-LOK-slots at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions and comes with a factory-installed handstop.

More in my column at Guns.com.

After 100 Years, Marines Could Lose Their Tanks

M1A2 Abrams Tank 1st Marine Division TIGERCOMP Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton Aug 2019. 1st Marine Division photo by Sgt. Tayler P. Schwamb

The Wall Street Journal has a report that the Marines are set to drastically reboot in the next decade. In short, they will get leaner and lighter, shedding about 15,000 Marines, ditching lots of old-school 155mm tube artillery in favor of mobile truck-mounted anti-ship missile batteries. The 8th Marines would be disbanded along with some helicopter squadrons while the number of UAV squadrons will be doubled.

The focus of the new 2030 USMC would be an updated Wake Island 1941 program-– landing on and defending small Pacific islands to deny the use of an area to a Chinese naval force.

Oh yeah, and the Marines will also lose all of their beautiful and hard-serving Abrams main battle tanks.

A century of support to the Devils

The Marines got into the tank game in the 1920s and has employed armor in every major combat action ever since– with the exception of Wake Island.

In 1923, the Marines established Light Tank Platoon, East Coast Expeditionary Force at Quantico with a handful of Great War surplus U.S. Army (a trend that would continue) M1917 Renault light tanks, two-man 6-ton vehicles armed with a light machine gun.

Marine M1917 Renault Light Tanks, “Tanks Going into Action, Antietam, 1924”

In 1927, this platoon was assigned to the 3d Marine Brigade in China, where it would operate for a year before it returned to the States and was disbanded in 1930.

Then came two armored platoons stood up in the mid-1930s equipped with the light (5-ton) Marmon-Harrington tankettes, of which a whopping 10 were acquired.

Marine Marmon-Herrington tankette landing from lighter, 1930s

On 1 August 1940, the USMC established the 3d Tank Company with M2A4 light tanks. This unit the next year became Alpha Company, 1st Tank Battalion and by early 1942 were rushed to defend American Samoa. By August, they were landing at Guadalcanal.

A Marine M2A4 light tank on Guadalcanal, 1942 “MOP UP UNIT– Two alert U.S. Marines stand beside their small tank which helped blast the Japanese in the battle of the Tenaru River during the early stages of fighting on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. Those well-manned, sturdy machines readily mopped up strong points of enemy resistance.”

Upgrading to M4 Shermans in time for 1943’s Cape Gloucester, New Britain operation, the Marines would continue to use the hardy medium tank in a force that would grow to six battalions.

1944 M4A2 Sherman tank Company A, 1st Tank Marine Battalion passing a Japanese blockhouse at Peleliu

By Korea, the Marines were able to put their Shermans to pasture and begin using the 90mm-equipped M26 Pershing and the M46 tank.

“Marine tanks parked in the southwest part of the perimeter of Koto-ri. The high ground was within the perimeter. 1950”

Lessons learned in Korea brought about the medium-and-heavy combo that was the M48A1 and the M103, which were used in Lebanon in 1958, the Cuban Missile Crisis (where Marine tankers were ashore at GTMO) and the 1965 landing in the Dominican Republic.

Then came Vietnam, where the Marines continued to utilize the upgraded M48A3 although the Army was switching to the M60 Patton.

6 March 1967, a Marine M48A3 in Vietnam. Note the Playboy Bunny. “Tankers Construct Road: A blade-wielding tank of the 1st Tank Battalion carves a road for Leathernecks of the 2d Battalion, 26th Marines [2/26] during an operation south of Da Nang (official USMC photo by Private First Class Warren E. Wilson).”

The Marines would only upgrade to the M60A1 in 1975, once Vietnam was in the rearview, a tank they would keep– with much modification– through the First Gulf War. Importantly, it was the M60s of the Marines that were the first serious armor on the ground in Saudi Arabia in Desert Storm.

Since 2001, Abrams-equipped Marine tank platoons have been very busy, deploying multiple times to the Middle East. This included company-size deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq as well as carving platoons off to float around with MEUs in the Fleet.

Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 2d Marines, 3d Platoon during the Battle of Nasiriyah in 2003– note the M1 tank support

The Corps currently fields 403 M1A1/A2 variants, less than one-tenth of the amount the Army/National Guard has on hand. Of course, as the Marines just have three tank battalions, one of which is a reserve unit, there are only about 180 of these tanks in unit service, with the rest of the hulls forward-deployed in places like Norway and in other forms of long-term storage.

If all goes according to plan, by 2030 the Marines will have zero Abrams.

Planned upgrades, scheduled to take place through 2024, naturally will be a footnote.

And the beat goes on…

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