4 Comments

American Civil War in 1\72 Scale

This is an experimental post as I work with pages on the blog site. I just want to see of it works.

Confederate Infantry hold a fence line

Forming a firing line

Two Squadrons of Union Cavalry

Union Infantry supported by an artillery section

A large Union Regiment moves up

The Confederates refuse their flank

South Carolina Infantry
Hampton’s Legion engages the 2nd US Cavalry
Union infantry support the cavalry

2 Comments

Pencil Art from Yank Far East: Dec.15, 1955

Yank Magazine was a WW2 weekly that was initially intended for US servicemen serving overseas. It quickly became a weekly for servicemen serving anywhere. It came out in 15 editions (according to the magazine issue below) each for a geographical location.

The edition featured here in this blog is the Far East Edition as you can see from the cover. Note that the price is in Centavos (Spanish speaking Philippines ) and Guilders (Dutch Far East possessions).

I thought the pencil sketches were interesting and have reproduced them here. I could not find who sketched them but the link to the Wiki article will give a number of possibilities.

The sketches accompanied an article written by Sgt. Mack Morris. The content for Yank was provided by enlisted personal although officers did serve as managers. The article (Titled: 2-Front Fighter) written by Morris was about Maj. General J. Lawton Collins who served in the Far East prior to his transfer to France. The sketches illustrate some of the points in the interview with Collins. You can read about Collin’s service at the link.

Comments from the General included the fact that the Japanese never surrendered and were more fanatical than the SS. Having served on both fronts General Collins knew what he was talking about. He also commented on the horrible weather and inhospitable terrain that was common in the jungles.

The cover of this issue of Yank features a Grumman Avenger Torpedo Bomber. It’s the type of aircraft the late President George Bush flew when he was shot down.

I found this issue with three others in an antique store. All are in rough condition and the owner let them all go for $10.00. I have a quite a few in my collection.

1 Comment

Reconnoiter the Town

This is an example of what my friend and I call Grand Manner wargaming after the late Peter Gilder. The game board is 16′ by 4′ and as you can see contains an enormous amount of detail. The scale of the miniatures is 1/72 (slightly under one inch).

Grand Manner wargaming takes an enormous amount of effort and clearly a large space is required. Not all of our war games on done on this scale given our varied interests and time commitments. Nevertheless, a Grand Manner game is the pinnacle of a great game experience on a detailed lay out.

You can read about it in a little more detail here: Reconnoiter the Town.

1 Comment

Private Michael Fuchs, Bavarian Death Card, 1915

Death cards were given to friends and family as a keepsake after a loved one died in service. They usually were religious and in Germany had either a Catholic or Lutheran theology in mind. German southern states like Bavaria were Catholic while the northern states were Lutheran.

Private Fuchs hailed from the south Bavarian village of Unterhohenstetten.

The cards are sentimental and religious and I think touching. See translation below.

Image45

Death card of Michael Fuchs. Michael was enlisted in the 11th Company of the 2nd Bavarian Landwehr Regiment. The Landwehr were a type of reservist.

I could make out some of the German words but am limited so I asked my friend Brittany who was a teacher in the local German Immersion School to give me a translation.

Here’s what she wrote:
This was difficult. Apparently this old script is called Fraktur, and it really throws a loop in the translation! I did the best I could… it seems to make sense… ha. Here goes:
A farmer from Unterhohenstetten (a place in Germany)
Owner of the Iron Cross
Who, in the fighting of the war in France, in Rheims,  on the 7th of March, 1915 died a hero’s death.
He is at peace! Honor his memory!
Do not look for me on earth! I greet you from the stars!
(Poem Translation)
O wife and beloved children of mine,
I will not come to you at home again
The last thought, the last picture,
Have hastened back to you.
As I die in enemy lands,
No one reached for my hand
As my eye was broken
I already saw the heavens opening.
All of you who have known and loved him in life, commemorate him with pious prayers.
My Jesus, be compassionate!
Sweet heart Jesu(s), be my love!
Sweet heart Mary, be my rescue (deliverer)!

Brittany went over the translation one more time and said she thought, “my eye was broken” is a figure of speech, something like “the light in my eyes is dimmed” or some other other death euphemism.


I think she is right and the difference is probably due to modern German versus the Bavarian German of a 100 years ago.


I belong to Ancestry.com so I ran a search for Private Fuchs. I was curious about how old he was when he died since there was not any birth date given on the card. The first entry that turned up is below:

Name: Michael Fuchs
Birth Date: 1 Nov 1884
Birth Place: Saldenau Wolfstein Bayern (Bavaria)
Combat Arm: Infanterie
Type of Unit: Ersatztruppenteile der Reserve-Infanterie-Regimenter
Unit: bayer. Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment No. 11 (Regensburg) Ersatz-Bataillon
I am relatively certain this Michael Fuchs is the same person on the death card. The birth place of Saldenau Wolfstein Bayern (Bavaria) is in southern Bavaria and the infantry regiment Private Fuchs was in (Reserve-Infanterie-Regiment No. 11 (Regensburg) Ersatz-Bataillon) is correct.

Private Fuchs would have been 30-31 years old when he died in a battle near Rheims, France in 1915. His age makes sense given he was in a reserve regiment classified as an Ersatz Battalion. I believe this meant he was what we might call a third or fourth tier reservist.

The German armies of the time were organized into regular regiments and divisions of the first tier and they were backed up by the second tier reservists although the second tier were often as well trained as the first tier. The third tier was the Landwehr. They were called up in early WW1 as garrison troops and\or to replace the regular divisions that had been burnt out in the fighting.

When Private Fuchs was killed that war was only a little older than a year. It says something about the horrific casualties that were sustained by every nation in the Great War. I’m uncertain about the meaning of “ersatz” but I think it basically means “substitute” and that would account for the third or fourth tier (Landstrum-much older that 30+) status.

We can also see that Private Fuchs was a farmer from his small village (population in 1987 was only 152) and that he was married and had children. In other words Private Fuchs is representative of the of the millions of men killed on all sides during the war.


I wonder if Private Fuchs family still has in their possession his death card.
dd959e1f0700a538dba5d27ff165e3dc--war-photography-militaria
Typical German soldiers in 1915.
5 Comments

They Shall Not Grow Old

On December 17th myself, two friends and my son went to see They Shall Not Grow Old-a powerful movie\documentary that chronicles the experiences of the average British soldier in the Great War.

The movie will be again shown on the 27th in the US.

The Imperial War Museum gave director Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings fame access to all the footage taken in their archives as well as the audio files from the veterans of the Great War (recorded in the 1970s).

The product was amazing. It was compelling on so many levels and the colorized 3D experience made as if you were watching something happening now. It is not a war movie but a powerful human interest story set in 1914-18.

I would not wish to issue any spoilers so will settle for the following:

The film was upgraded by Jackson and his crew. Here’s an example…

IMG_2430IMG_2431

At the end of the film Jackson explains why they colorized the originals. As I noted above the colorization (and how they figured out movement) made it appear as if you were watching a contemporary event.

safe_image.php

This in my opinion is one of the most compelling images. This is a sergeant in the middle of a line of men moving along a trench line. The sergeant realizes that they are being photographed and turns to hold a brief stare at the photographer.

He almost looks angry or full of disdain for being photographed. I wonder what he was thinking. Given the horrors of trench warfare and the casualty rates (nearly 1,000,000 British and Empire soldiers killed) I speculate that he is upset about the photographic intrusion.

They are very possibly marching to their deaths and the good sergeant sees it as a violation of their privacy as they march towards the afterlife.

 

 

2 Comments

War is Hell

Over the years I’ve seen the below picture pop up on social media many times. If it had a caption the caption usually read “an unidentified soldier in Vietnam” or something to that effect.

In one case it was labeled as a soldier from a South American country; something it clearly is not.

It popped up again so being the researcher that I occasionally am I ran a search for “war is hell photo.”

tumblr_pj981nPIyK1xlqhgno1_1280

As it turns out the soldier has now been identified as Larry Wayne Chaffin from St. Louis.  According to the blog The Few Good Men Mr. Chaffin was in the 173rd AB Brigade and was guarding an airbase when the picture was taken by AP photojournalist Horst Faas. Larry was 19 at the time of the photograph.

The photograph was identified as Larry in 2012 by his wife Fran Chaffin Morrison. Larry passed away in 1989 from complications of diabetes possibly brought on by Agent Orange.

The 173rd AB served in Vietnam from 1965-71 suffering 1,800 over the course of those years.

The unit would have been an elite fighting force and is still today seeing action in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The picture is iconic especially for men my age. I was 18 in 1971. By then the universal draft was no longer in effect but the draft lottery was. My lottery number was low and I would have been drafted so I enlisted thinking I’d get a better deal. I should have joined the Navy-one of life’s regrets I think.

The army took me despite many health problems and eventually I got out with an honorable medical discharge. The major who made it happen wondered how I got accepted in the first place. I’ve always had mixed feelings on getting out.

I did serve for about five months and I can tell you that no one I ever had contact with wanted to be the last one killed in Vietnam. By early 1972 it was clear we were pulling out and everyone I served with hoped they would get stationed anywhere but Vietnam.

I was in basic training in the fall of 1971. Morale was rock bottom and frankly, you could get high on the MJ fumes in the barracks during basic training! Chaffin’s “war is hell” message certainly resonated and apparent in the training units I was in.

I make it a habit of thanking every veteran I meet for their service but I’m especially grateful for those that served in Vietnam and wear their Vietnam caps. They served in an unpopular war that wasn’t even classified as a war. Many were spit upon when they returned home. It so bad that many would not even wear their uniforms when they arrived back in the States.

I think many would have agreed with Chaffin that war is indeed hell but probably would have added so was coming home.

Thank you Vietnam War veterans.

3 Comments

Those that Lived It_Scalp Dance

A journalist for the Marysville, Kansas, Enterprise wrote this on August 17, 1867:

Go…and point a houseless, impoverished man to the smoking embers of his dwelling, the work of savage hands, where but yesterday he had stock, grain and plenty, after years of hardships and say to him, “the triumph of humanitarian principles.” Kneel beside the dying victims on the plains, scalped and disemboweled and to his ear whisper—”peace!” Clasp a maniac sister in your arms upon whose body sixty savage monsters have glutted their passions, restore her purity and call reason to its throne again with words of “peace!” Could the arrow and tomahawk but reach a few of the “peace” men in our national councils, their blood would color this Indian question with a hue that even Congressmen would understand. (Scalp Dance-Indian Warfare on the High Plains, 1865-1879 by Thomas Goodrich)

In September of 2018 my wife and I traveled to South Dakota to visit the Bad Lands and other sites in the state. We stopped in Chamberlain, South Dakota to visit a Catholic School that my dad had supported. The school is St. Joseph’s Indian School. The Native Americans that attend the school are from the various Sioux (Lakota) bands that are present in South Dakota.

The school features an excellent facility for the students as well as a Sioux Museum of high quality. As you tour the museum which is laid out in a circle and come to the end you find yourself in a large display that chronicles The Wounded Knee Massacre.

On December 29th, 1890 the US Seventh Cavalry (the same regiment nearly wiped out at The Little Big Horn in 1976 by the Sioux and Cheyenne) surrounded a band of Sioux with cavalrymen, artillery and Hotchkiss machine guns to force them to surrender and turn in their weapons. The Sioux had fled the reservation after Sitting Bull was murdered in the wake of the Ghost Dance (although Sitting Bull had no part in the Ghost Dance). The white authorities feared both the Ghost Dance and Sitting Bull. 

US cavalry on the High Plains

Reportedly, as the army tried to seize the Sioux weapons one of the Sioux who was deaf resisted. A shot was fired and to this day no one knows for sure by whom and the “battle” was on. When it was over 150+ Sioux were dead, cut down by the army’s vastly superior firepower. More than half of the dead Sioux were women and children. Twenty-five cavalrymen were also killed. It’s believed that most of the cavalrymen were killed by other cavalrymen in the vicious cross fire. Although called a “battle” at the time it’s now widely recognized as a massacre. The display at St. Joseph’s School is enough to bring even the most cold-hearted person to tears.

These days it is easy and I think right to view the Indians in the Indian Wars with a great deal of sympathy. Even some of the soldiers of the time who fought them viewed them with sympathy as they realized a people were losing not only their homes but their way of living as the buffalo (bison) were systematically destroyed by white hunters.

My wife and I also visited the Tatanka (Story of the Bison) Museum started by Kevin Costner off Dances with Wolves fame. We listened to a Native American Sioux tell the story of the buffalo and the way of life that was lost as the Plains Indians were forced on to reservations. The reservations  became a huge welfare system complete with rampant alcoholism and drug abuse. It was pointed out and truthfully so, that the government broke every treaty made with the Plains Indians.

That much is truth but it’s only part of the story. Other parts of the story include the Plains Indians warring among themselves and practicing the same kind of brutality on other tribes as they did on white settlers. Sadly, atrocities by all concerned were common and that accounts for the hatred expressed by the Kansas journalist quoted above.

Crazy Horse at the Little Big Horn (left). There are no known photographs of Crazy Horse and the ones that are out there are either fakes or mistakes.

Thomas Goodrich’s book, Scalp Dance-Indian Warfare on the High Plains 1865-1879 is a book written from the US Army’s and settler’s point of view. It details what is was like for cavalrymen, settlers and travelers that fought the Plains Indians, tried to settle the land and others just traveling through.

In a word, is was brutal. We look back on a clash of civilizations, one a budding super power and the other primitive in many ways. The super power has just fought and won the Civil War and is moving west. The primitive culture resists best they know how. What’s forgotten is that the person at the time only knew they lived in peril and needed the army to protect them. When the army could not the Indians and the army were blamed for the type of  incidents recorded above.

Scalp Dance is a book that does not make apologies for telling the story through the eyes of the soldiers and settlers who experienced Plains Warfare between 1865-1879. It’s filled with quotes and and an extensive index as to where the quotes come from.

An alternative title for Scalp Dance could have been Scalp Dance, High Plains Warfare in the Words of Those Who Lived it.

I needed to be reminded of that. I do sympathize with the American Indian so it’s easy to look back and judge the hatred of the journalist who wrote those words above. But I did not live through it or experience loss like some did. I enjoyed the book because I needed to be reminded I was not there and much of history is written by those who were..

My wife and I were touched by the plight of the Sioux in South Dakota. We wondered what we could do and being conservative Protestants we searched for a Protestant school among the Sioux. We found a Christian School called Windswept Academy on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation near Eagle Butte, South Dakota. We’ve made the school part of our regular giving. We cannot do anything about lingering hatreds and continued injustices but we can do something to help educate Sioux children so that they might escape the crippling reservation life they are part of.

The pictures below were taken at the Tatanka (Story of the Bison) Museum

Me at the Crazy Horse Memorial and Museum.