31 December 2009


The 2010 New Year's Honours List has been released. (For a brief review of it, see here.) Looking through it, I see:

Knights Bachelor

Actor. For services to Drama.
(London, SE16)

Order of the British Empire
Commanders of the Order of the British Empire

Ms Margaret Maud TYZACK, OBE
Actress. For services to Drama.
(London, SE3)

Officers of the Order of the British Empire

Ms Anthea BELL
For services to Literature and to Literary Translations.
(Histon, Cambridgeshire)

Ronald Gordon KING-SMITH
Author. For services to Children's Literature.
(Keynsham, Bristol)

Members of the Order of the British Empire

Ms Lauren CHILD
Author and Illustrator. For services to Literature.
(London, W1F)

Sir Patrick, of course, was the star of Star Trek: The Next Generation, aka TNG. Tyzack has had numerous roles in films and TV shows over the past 50+ years. Bell has translated numerous works - most notably the Astérix comics by Goscinny and Uderzo* - into English. King-Smith was the author of many children's books, including The Sheep-Pig, which was the basis for the movie Babe. Child is the author of, amongst other books, the Clarice Bean series of children's books (which I haven't read), and received the 2000 Kate Greenaway Medal for I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato.

And I have to admit to being amused by the MBE awarded to Norman Barrett, circus ringmaster, for services to entertainment.

The names of military personnel (and MOD civilians) included on the Honours List can be found here.**

(Left: Insignia of a knight bachelor. Right: Emblem of a member of the Order of the British Empire.)

* And if you're not familiar with Astérix, you certainly ought to be!

** Congratulations to Warrant Officer 1st Class Coxswain (Submarine) John Ronald Hendren MBE and to Warrant Officer 1st Class Coxswain (Submarine) Andrew Mark Rainey MBE.

The King William's College quiz

This fine test comes from King William's College, which was founded in 1833 on the Isle of Man. The quiz itself has been given annually for over a century (this year's being the 104th); students take it twice, once immediately before Xmas, cold, and again after the Xmas holidays, after having researched the answers. A good score may be 20 correct answers on the first try; an average score, it seems, is more like two (out of 180!).* It has also become quite popular with non-students, and since 1951 has been published in The Guardian.

In its present form, the "quiz" consists of 18 sets of ten questions each. All the questions in a set have a common theme, which may or may not be given. The last set consists of questions about events of the current year, and the first set asks about events which happened 100 years ago; the remaining 16 sets may cover literature, history, geography or other subjects.

In 2004, the year of the 100th quiz, The Guardian also published an interview with the current writer, Dr Pat Cullen (a retired GP who began compiling the quiz in 1997), under the heading 'I like to irritate' - apparently he is good at it.

Here it is: The 105th edition of the King William's College General Knowledge Paper.
Scire ubi aliquid invenire possis, ea demum maxima pars eruditionis est

1. During 1909:
1. what hidden addiction was revealed in Munich?
2. what was founded at the southern tip of Kinneret?
3. who filed a patent for a hermetically sealed burial casket?
4. which youngsters received numbered anklets by the Aberdeenshire seaside?
5. who, contrary to generally accepted opinion, may have reached where after Cook?
6. whose gallinaceous offering was held up by the censors and emerged posthumously?
7. who was rewarded for lofty idealism, vivid imagination and spiritual perception?
8. which Portuguese island colonies lost their Quaker customers?
9. whose unscheduled dip in La Manche cost him a grand?
10. which negative logarithm came from Carlsberg?

2. Which politician:
1. was brought down by arachnoid largesse?
2. was expelled as Speaker following bribery by the Corporation?
3. in a constituency renowned for its RHS Show, succumbed to Campanula vestimenta alba
4. enriched himself as PMG and provided a suitable surname for one of Disraeli's fictional characters?
5. was impeached, but not convicted, for allegedly accepting a bribe of 5,000 guineas from the East India Company?
6. continued to draw an annual income of £25,000 from moneys which were not his, for 15 years after resigning as PMG?
7. transferred his nontransferable vouchers for his wife to travel from Glamorgan on the Great Western Railway?
8. similarly provided, inappropriately, first-class tickets for his mistress to travel to Yorkshire?
9. was impeached on bribery charges shortly after his elevation to a viscountcy?
10. used a Guest List for awarding Orders and other honours?

3. In which city:
1. did Dizzy Mabel get drunk on gin?
2. did George confuse the words for cushion and kiss?
3. did Peregrinus bring Christmas presents to the poor bookbinder's family?
4. did the enormous Olga address her guest, inappropriately, as her little turtle-dove?
5. was the Cardinal encouraged to forsake celibacy in favour of a Lutheran union to solve a financial crisis?
6. did the dinner guests of the extended family include poet, physician, broker, wine-merchant, lumber-merchant and pastor?
7. did the disguised head groom cause a fire to reduce 42 houses to rubble and ashes?
8. was the annual subscription for the Blue Diamond 175 (in pre-euro money)?
9. was the bearer of a pound of Raven mixture expected at 9.34pm?
10. did the people proclaim their Mayor a noddy?

4. In the finals of the AELT & CC's championships:
1. which runner-up won 29 games?
2. which match was decided after 12 games?
3. who required 40 games for his three-set victory?
4. which two-set match was decided after 46 games?
5. which champion is now remembered for his predatory reptile motif?
6. in which match did the runner-up win as many games and sets as the victor?
7. which titled finalist was imprisoned by the Gestapo?
8. what was the role of Brooke's grandfather?
9. who was the only victor to lose a set 0-6?
10. who defeated his brother three times?

1. Where did 13 go to the scaffold on Friday 13th?
2. Who carried out the last public execution in Britain?
3. Whose controversial execution by firing squad was alluded to by Voltaire?
4. Which tailor, under sentence of death, was reprieved and elevated to Headsman?
5. Which sexagenarian was chased around the scaffold and needed 11 blows with the axe?
6. Which teenager was hanged for rape and murder, but revived while being prepared for dissection in Surgeons' Hall?
7. Who was burned alive, without prior garrotting, owing to bungling by the executioner?
8. Which trooper's swollen purple throat and stark and staring eyes were mocked?
9. How was the poisoner cook from John Fisher's household executed?
10. Who survived three attempts at hanging at Exeter?

6. Who or what:
1. are endocrine?
2. invested in the Goat?
3. is overlooked by Calum's Hill?
4. is repetitious (and inspiring) at Cardiff?
5. is neither brightly coloured nor feathered?
6. were placed in 774 pots, 39 tubs and 24 boxes?
7. nickname has been applied to the Ukraine?
8. emphasises enthusiasm for a new idea?
9. is flavoured with cloves?
10. is palindromic?

7. Who or what:
1. was watched at eye level?
2. found room at one end for Victoria?
3. is not trusted for the way he parts his hair?
4. tale was found among the papers of the late Diedrich Knickerbocker?
5. painted an ecclesiastical decoration for a Flanders-based Florentine banker?
6. under a changed name, was allegedly instructed to include all facial blemishes?
7. turned to architecture following a relapse and provocation of the wife?
8. took his name from the city of Sint-Janskathedraal?
9. had a costly wetting in the Barry Burn?
10. revealed lives by invitation?

8. Who or what:
1. is tragelaphine?
2. is also a humming bird?
3. was considered better than best?
4. has a contrary reaction to that of litmus?
5. reverted to its former name following caprine slaughter?
6. retained his virtuosity despite accidental conversion to syndactyly?
7. had a facial expression likened to a fireside utensil?
8. is garnished with eggs and crustaceans?
9. is black and fork-tailed?
10. stepped out from BA?

9. Where does the brewer:
1. recall 4468?
2. produce a preserved gamebird?
3. start his product with a silent "P"?
4. provide a label for a hirsute cage bird?
5. remember the birthplace of 007's adventures?
6. remind us of a battle with a heptacephalic rodent?
7. produce evidence of canine appreciation?
8. commemorate Joanna Maria Lind?
9. appear to condone avian greed?
10. recognise a recurved bill?

1. Who did Paul much evil?
2. Who extended his realm into the Irish Sea?
3. Who attributed the cold winter wind to the Almighty?
4. Who confused rubrum and notatum when making his epic discovery?
5. Who shot himself following annihilation of the Second Army by the Eighth?
6. Who, following his death, may have re-emerged as a hermit, living for a further 39 years?
7. Which monarch was shot, together with the French foreign minister?
8. Who perceived his life as a protracted period of infirmity?
9. Who was challenged by Gray over his patent?
10. Who was mistaken for a match?

11. Which ordinal:
1. is metronomic?
2. is liable to neuralgia?
3. was secured by MacArthur?
4. may forecast persistent precipitation?
5. was applied to Sarto, the village postman's son?
6. recalls tearful memories of the Tigris and Euphrates?
7. is associated with an annual brainteaser?
8. was used by Wraysford in his Diary?
9. signalled a peaceful trio?
10. was applied to Lime?

12. Which Queen of England or Great Britain:
1. battled for Lancaster?
2. was the first to be kissed by Pepys?
3. was the consort of two Kings of England?
4. made a posthumous journey to London leaving her viscera at Lincoln?
5. numbered two archbishops and one bishop among her maternal uncles?
6. on first meeting her future spouse had prompted him to order a glass of brandy?
7. escaped in a hurry from a Cambridge Hall, before it was burned down?
8. died following surgery for an umbilical hernia?
9. regretted the jettisoning of this for that?
10. corresponded with Mrs Freeman?

13. Which English cathedral:
1. is built on the highest ground?
2. has both a Bishop and a Dean with a glass eye?
3. contains a medieval lectern representing a large water bird?
4. has accommodated a pilgrim and his family annually since 2002?
5. achieved its current lofty status through meteorological intervention in 1584?
6. has a gallinaceous motif commemorating the founder of a Cambridge college?
7. possesses a plurality of plumbous receptacles for baptismal water?
8. houses the tomb of the founder, in 1264, of an Oxford college
9. has a pulpit accessed by an intramural staircase?
10. houses the only equestrian statue?

14. Name the venue and the activity:
1. Royal flood-plain.
2. A half of cuckoo pint.
3. The headsman's victim.
4. Simmonite, lacking a vowel.
5. A glorious shire relocated by the sea.
6. A shortened and outdated underground carriage.
7. The chiropteran hang-out of the eccentric.
8. Milne's joey by the river.
9. Calverley's alternative.
10. An ox cart perhaps.

15. Who or what:
1. is perifoveal?
2. is bridged by a memorial to Pepi?
3. was a notoriously cruel Wallachian prince?
4. overlooks the burial ground of Anne, Catherine and Jane?
5. was thought, through its bite, to cause an extreme impulse to dance?
6. was a probable tuberculous infection, so named after a breeding sow?
7. is an abnormal passage connecting two epithelial surfaces?
8. broken bone is associated with an unspoken wish?
9. was Linné's name for the sea parrot?
10. is the Hill of the Fords?

16. Having got into the red, complete:
1. B-dul Carol – ........... – B-dul Eroiler.
2. Holmens Kanal – ........... – Torvgade.
3. Robinson Road – Shenton Way – ...........
4. Sancová ulica – Vajnorská ulica – ...........
5. Strandvägen – Kungsträdgårdsgatan – ...........
6. ........... – Boulevard Malesherbes – Avenue Henri-Martin.
7. Plaza Urquinaona – ........... – Ronda San Pedro.
8. ........... – Tartu maantee – Pärnu maantee.
9. ........... – Capel Street – Henry Street
10. Lönnrotinkatu – ........... – Simonkatu.

17. What eponymous word owes its origin to:
1. F René?
2. JD Scotus?
3. HP Mitchell?
4. Gerhard Kremer?
5. Charles de Rohan?
6. RV Shepherd and HJ Turpin?
7. John Montague?
8. Haile Selassie?
9. C Cardoni?
10. M Tracy?

18. During 2009:
1. who mischievously rocked the boat?
2. whose victory in Bavaria has recalled I Samuel XVII?
3. which Hat-maker has become the first female to be so honoured?
4. what left Lavender Hill intact but sustained a rupture at Langhorn Drive?
5. who, in disgrace, became Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead?
6. which vessel's sinking with the loss of all 36 lives has been recognised philatelically
7. what non-event at Fort Collins recalled a fictional disaster in the Chilterns?
8. who has provided extremely interesting reading matter for rail travel?
9. who will never stir again, however much he is shaken
10. what, according to Unesco, has risen from the dead?

* On the first look through, I knew (or think I knew) the answers to 10 of the questions.

27 December 2009

Victoria Cross: Heneage, Ward, Hollis and Pearson


Captain, 8th Hussars (King's Royal Irish)

Born: 6 March 1831, Compton Bassett, Wiltshire
Died: 9 December 1901, Compton Bassett, Wiltshire


Serjeant, 8th Hussars (King's Royal Irish)

Born: 1832, Kinsale, County Cork, Ireland
Died: 23 November 1872, Longford, County Longford, Ireland


Farrier, 8th Hussars (King's Royal Irish)

Born: October 1833, Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire
Died: 16 May 1879, Exeter, Devonshire


Private, 8th Hussars (King's Royal Irish)

Born: 19 January 1825, Leacroft, Leeds, Yorkshire
Died: 18 April 1892, Lion's Head, Bruce County, Ontario, Canada

Joint Citation: Selected for the Victoria Cross by their companions in the gallant charge made by a squadron of the Regiment at Gwalior, on the 17th of June, 1858, when, supported by a division of the Bombay Horse Artillery, and Her Majesty's 95th Regiment, they routed the enemy, who were advancing against Brigadier Smith's position, charged through the rebel camp into two batteries, capturing and bringing into their camp two of the enemy's guns, under a heavy and converging fire from the Fort and Town.

(London Gazette Issue 22223 dated 28 Jan 1869, published 28 Jan 1869.)

Private Pearson's medals

Note: These four men were elected by the Regiment to receive the Victoria Cross under Rule 13 of the Royal Warrant of 29th January, 1856.

25 December 2009

Numbah Twelve day

(Numbah Twelve day of Christmas the bes', and the bes' stuff always come las'...)

Numbah Twelve day of Christmas, my tutu give to me
Twelve TELEVISION, eleven missionary, ten can of beer,
Nine pound of poi, eight ukulele, seven shrimp a-swimmin',
Seex hula lesson, FORTY steenkin' peeg,
Foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, two coconut,
An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree!

"Numbah One Day of Christmas (The 12 Days of Christmas local style)," by Eaton B Magoon Jr, Edward Kenny and Gordon N Phelps. Music and lyrics published by Hawaiian Recording and Publishing Company, Inc. Copyright 1959. Used without permission.

24 December 2009

Numbah Eleven day

Numbah Eleven day of Christmas, my tutu give to me
Eleven missionary, ten can of beer, nine pound of poi,
Eight ukulele, seven shrimp a-swimmin', seex hula lesson,
Five beeg fat peeg, foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, two coconut,
An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

"Numbah One Day of Christmas (The 12 Days of Christmas local style)," by Eaton B Magoon Jr, Edward Kenny and Gordon N Phelps. Music and lyrics published by Hawaiian Recording and Publishing Company, Inc. Copyright 1959. Used without permission.

23 December 2009

Numbah Ten day

Numbah Ten day of Christmas, my tutu give to me
Ten can of beer, nine pound of poi, eight ukulele, seven shrimp a-swimmin'
Seex hula lesson, five beeg fat peeg,
Foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, two coconut,
An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

"Numbah One Day of Christmas (The 12 Days of Christmas local style)," by Eaton B Magoon Jr, Edward Kenny and Gordon N Phelps. Music and lyrics published by Hawaiian Recording and Publishing Company, Inc. Copyright 1959. Used without permission.

22 December 2009

Numbah Nine day

Numbah Nine day of Christmas, my tutu give to me
Nine pound of poi, eight ukulele, seven shrimp a-swimmin',
Seex hula lesson, five beeg fat peeg, foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, two coconut,
An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

"Numbah One Day of Christmas (The 12 Days of Christmas local style)," by Eaton B Magoon Jr, Edward Kenny and Gordon N Phelps. Music and lyrics published by Hawaiian Recording and Publishing Company, Inc. Copyright 1959. Used without permission.

21 December 2009

Numbah Eight day

Numbah Eight day of Christmas, my tutu give to me
Eight ukulele, seven shrimp a-swimmin', seex hula lesson,
Five beeg fat peeg (that make TWENNY!), foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, two coconut,
An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

"Numbah One Day of Christmas (The 12 Days of Christmas local style)," by Eaton B Magoon Jr, Edward Kenny and Gordon N Phelps. Music and lyrics published by Hawaiian Recording and Publishing Company, Inc. Copyright 1959. Used without permission.

20 December 2009

Numbah Seven day

Numbah Seven day of Christmas, my tutu give to me
Seven shrimp a-swimmin', seex hula lesson,
Five beeg fat peeg, foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, two coconut,
An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

"Numbah One Day of Christmas (The 12 Days of Christmas local style)," by Eaton B Magoon Jr, Edward Kenny and Gordon N Phelps. Music and lyrics published by Hawaiian Recording and Publishing Company, Inc. Copyright 1959. Used without permission.

19 December 2009

Numbah Seex day

Numbah Seex day of Christmas, my tutu give to me
Seex hula lesson, five beeg fat peeg (that make TEN!),
Foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, two coconut,
An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

"Numbah One Day of Christmas (The 12 Days of Christmas local style)," by Eaton B Magoon Jr, Edward Kenny and Gordon N Phelps. Music and lyrics published by Hawaiian Recording and Publishing Company, Inc. Copyright 1959. Used without permission.

18 December 2009

The Christmas Can-Can

Two years ago I posted a video of an a cappella group called Straight No Chaser singing their version of "The 12 Days of Christmas." And now, here they are again....

Numbah Five day

Numbah Five day of Christmas, my tutu give to me
Five beeg fat peeg... foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, two coconut,
An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

"Numbah One Day of Christmas (The 12 Days of Christmas local style)," by Eaton B Magoon Jr, Edward Kenny and Gordon N Phelps. Music and lyrics published by Hawaiian Recording and Publishing Company, Inc. Copyright 1959. Used without permission.

17 December 2009

Numbah Foah day

Numbah Foah day of Christmas, my tutu give to me
Foah flowah lei, tree dry squid, two coconut,
An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

"Numbah One Day of Christmas (The 12 Days of Christmas local style)," by Eaton B Magoon Jr, Edward Kenny and Gordon N Phelps. Music and lyrics published by Hawaiian Recording and Publishing Company, Inc. Copyright 1959. Used without permission.

16 December 2009

Numbah Tree day

Numbah Tree day of Christmas, my tutu give to me
Tree dry squid, two coconut,
An' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

"Numbah One Day of Christmas (The 12 Days of Christmas local style)," by Eaton B Magoon Jr, Edward Kenny and Gordon N Phelps. Music and lyrics published by Hawaiian Recording and Publishing Company, Inc. Copyright 1959. Used without permission.

15 December 2009

Numbah Two day

Numbah Two day of Christmas, my tutu give to me
Two coconut, an' one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

"Numbah One Day of Christmas (The 12 Days of Christmas local style)," by Eaton B Magoon Jr, Edward Kenny and Gordon N Phelps. Music and lyrics published by Hawaiian Recording and Publishing Company, Inc. Copyright 1959. Used without permission.

14 December 2009

Numbah One day

Numbah One day of Christmas, my tutu give to me
One mynah bird in one papaya tree.

"Numbah One Day of Christmas (The 12 Days of Christmas local style)," by Eaton B Magoon Jr, Edward Kenny and Gordon N Phelps. Music and lyrics published by Hawaiian Recording and Publishing Company, Inc. Copyright 1959. Used without permission.

13 December 2009

Victoria Cross: F. J. Aylmer and G. H. Boisragon


Captain, Royal Engineers

Born: 5 April 1862, Hastings, Sussex
Died: 3 September 1935, Wimbledon, Surrey

Citation: For his conspicuous bravery in the assault and capture of the Nilt Fort, on the 2nd December, 1891.
This officer accompanied the storming party, burst open the inner gate with gun-cotton, which he placed and ignited, and though severely wounded, once in the leg and twice in the right hand, fired nineteen shots with his revolver, killing several of the enemy, and remained fighting, until fainting from loss of blood he was carried out of action.


Lieutenant, Indian Staff Corps; attached 5th Gurkha Rifles

Born: 5 November 1864, Kohat, Punjab, India
Died: 14 July 1931, Biarritz, France

Citation: Citation: For his conspicuous bravery in the assault and capture of the Nilt Fort on the 2nd December, 1891.
This officer led the assault with dash and determination, and forced his way through difficult obstacles to the inner gate, when he returned for reinforcements, moving intrepidly to and fro under a heavy cross-fire until he had collected sufficient men to relieve the hardly pressed storming party and drive the enemy from the fort.

[London Gazette issue 26306 dated 12 Jul 1892, published 12 Jul 1892.]

Note: At the time of his death, Aylmer was Lieutenant General Sir Fenton John Aylmer, 13th Baronet of Donadea, VC KCB. Boisragon later reached the rank of Brigadier.

07 December 2009

This day in history: 7 Dec

USS Nevada (BB 36)
USS Oklahoma (BB 37) **
USS Pennsylvania (BB 38)
USS Arizona (BB 39) ***
USS Tennessee (BB 43)
USS California (BB 44) *
USS Maryland (BB 46)
USS West Virginia (BB 48) *

USS New Orleans (CA 32)
USS San Francisco (CA 38)

USS Raleigh (CL 7)
USS Detroit (CL 8)
USS Phoenix (CL 46)
USS Honolulu (CL 48)
USS St Louis (CL 49)
USS Helena (CL 50)

USS Allen (DD 66)
USS Schley (DD 103)
USS Chew (DD 106)
USS Ward (DD 139)
USS Farragut (DD 348)
USS Dewey (DD 349)
USS Hull (DD 350)
USS Macdonough (DD 351)
USS Worden (DD 352)
USS Dale (DD 353)
USS Monaghan (DD 354)
USS Aylwin (DD 355)
USS Selfridge (DD 357)
USS Phelps (DD 360)
USS Cummings (DD 365)
USS Reid (DD 369)
USS Case (DD 370)
USS Conyngham (DD 371)
USS Cassin (DD 372)
USS Shaw (DD 373)
USS Tucker (DD 374)
USS Downes (DD 375)
USS Bagley (DD 386)
USS Blue (DD 387)
USS Helm (DD 388)
USS Mugford (DD 389)
USS Ralph Talbot (DD 390)
USS Henley (DD 391)
USS Patterson (DD 392)
USS Jarvis (DD 393)

USS Narwhal (SS 167) (ex-V-5 SC 1)
USS Dolphin (SS 169)
USS Cachalot (SS 170)
USS Tautog (SS 199)

USS Sacramento (PG 19)

* Sunk; raised and rebuilt
** Sunk; raised but not rebuilt
*** Sunk

BB - battleship, CA - heavy cruiser, CL - light cruiser, DD - destroyer, SS - submarine, PG - patrol gunboat

See here for a complete list of commissioned ships and non-commissioned district craft (both self-propelled and non-self-propelled) present at Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941.

06 December 2009

Victoria Cross: R. St. V. Sherbrooke


Captain, Royal Navy; commanding HMS Onslow

Born: 8 January 1901, Oxton, Newark, Nottinghamshire
Died: 13 June 1972, Oxton, Newark, Nottinghamshire

Citation: Captain Sherbrooke, in H.M.S. Onslow, was the Senior Officer in command of the destroyers escorting an important convoy bound for North Russia. On the morning of 31st December [1942], off the North Cape, he made contact with a greatly superior enemy force which was attempting to destroy the convoy. Captain Sherbrooke led his destroyers into attack and closed the Enemy. Four times the Enemy tried to attack the convoy, but was forced each time to withdraw behind a smoke screen to avoid the threat of torpedoes, and each time Captain Sherbrooke pursued him and drove him outside gun range of the convoy and towards our covering forces. These engagements lasted about two hours, but after the first forty minutes H.M.S. Onslow was hit, and Captain Sherbrooke was seriously wounded in the face and temporarily lost the use of one eye. Nevertheless he continued to direct the ships under his command until further hits on his own ship compelled him to disengage, but not until he was satisfied that the next Senior Officer had assumed control. It was only then that he agreed to leave the bridge for medical attention, and until the convoy was out of danger he insisted on receiving all reports of the action.
His courage, his fortitude and his cool and prompt decisions inspired all around him. By his leadership and example the convoy was saved from damage and was brought safely to its destination.

(London Gazette Issue 35859 dated 12 Jan 1943, published 8 Jan 1943.)

Note: In addition to Sherbrooke's six destroyers (Onslow*, Obedient, Obdurate, Orwell, Oribi and Achates**), the escort for Convoy JW-51B consisted of armed trawlers Northern Gem and Vizalma, corvettes Hyderabad and Rhododendron, and minesweeper Bramble**; Force R, consisting of light cruisers Sheffield and Jamaica, was waiting in the Barents Sea. The German raiding force consisted of heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper*, pocket battleship Lützow and destroyers Friedrich Eckholdt**, Richard Beitzen, Theodor Riedel, Z-29, Z-30 and Z-31.

* Damaged
** Sunk

Medal of Honor: T. Eadie


Chief Gunner's Mate, US Navy

Born: 7 April 1887, Scotland
Died: 14 November 1974, Brockton, Massachusetts

Citation: For display of extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession above and beyond the call of duty on 18 December 1927, during the diving operations [off Provincetown, Massachusetts,] in connection with the sinking of the U.S.S. S-4 with all on board, as a result of a collision off Prividencetown, Mass. On this occasion when Michels, Chief Torpedoman, U.S. Navy, while attempting to connect an airline to the submarine at a depth of 102 feet became seriously fouled, Eadie, under the most adverse diving conditions, deliberately, knowingly, and willingly took his own life in his hands by promptly descending to the rescue in response to the desperate need of his companion diver. After 2 hours of extremely dangerous and heartbreaking work, by his cool, calculating, and skillful labors, he succeeded in his mission and brought Michels safely to the surface.

Note: The Naval Historical Center have a page on Chief (later Lieutenant) Eadie at their website.

01 December 2009

Book list - Nov 09

Dead Girl in Love - YA, by Linda Joy Singleton
Gunpowder Empire - AH/SF, by Harry Turtledove
The Mystery of the Cape Cod Tavern - mystery, by Phoebe Atwood Taylor
Proof of the Pudding - mystery, by Phoebe Atwood Taylor
The Solar System and Back - science, by Isaac Asimov *
Of Matters Great and Small - science, by Isaac Asimov *
The Alternate Martians - SF, by A Bertram Chandler *
The Inheritance of Rome: A History of Europe from 400 to 1000 - European history, by Chris Wickham

A very short list this month - only eight books, of which three were rereads. This was due to a) reading another long non-fiction book, and b) wasting way too much time playing games on Facebook. I'm now at 186 books for the year, so to reach my goal of 209, I'll have to read 23 in December. Doable....

No Carnegie Medal winners, so I'm still at 24 of 70.

24 November 2009

RIP: Alejandro R. Ruiz

Alejandro R Ruiz
26 Jun 1923 - 20 Nov 2009

ZUI this article from the Visalia (California) Times-Delta:
Visalia native Alejandro Ruiz and his U.S. Army platoon were caught in an ambush in Okinawa, Japan, during World War II. Trapped in a ravine, the soldiers were pinned down by Japanese fire.

Ruiz's response? He picked up a gun and ran toward the Japanese, said his daughter, Celia Ruiz. When the weapon jammed, the private clubbed two soldiers with the weapon, ran back, tested several guns and charged a second time, she said.

"He miraculously escaped serious injury," she said.

For his bravery during the 1945 incident, Alejandro Ruiz received the Medal of Honor — the highest award for valor in action — from President Harry Truman.

Alejandro Ruiz died Friday from heart failure complications in Yountville. He was 85 years old.

************* *** *************


Private First Class, US Army; 165th Infantry, 27th Infantry Division

Born: Loving, New Mexico, 26 June 1923
Died: Yountville, California, 20 November 2009

Citation: When his unit was stopped by a skillfully camouflaged enemy pillbox [on Okinawa, on 28 April 1945], he displayed conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. His squad, suddenly brought under a hail of machinegun fire and a vicious grenade attack, was pinned down. Jumping to his feet, Private First Class Ruiz seized an automatic rifle and lunged through the flying grenades and rifle and automatic fire for the top of the emplacement. When an enemy soldier charged him, his rifle jammed. Undaunted, Private First Class Ruiz whirled on his assailant and clubbed him down. Then he ran back through bullets and grenades, seized more ammunition and another automatic rifle, and again made for the pillbox. Enemy fire now was concentrated on him, but he charged on, miraculously reaching the position, and in plain view he climbed to the top. Leaping from 1 opening to another, he sent burst after burst into the pillbox, killing 12 of the enemy and completely destroying the position. Private First Class Ruiz's heroic conduct, in the face of overwhelming odds, saved the lives of many comrades and eliminated an obstacle that long would have checked his unit's advance.

RIP: Col Lewis L. Millett, Sr.

Lewis L Millett, Sr
15 Dec 1920 – 14 Nov 2009

ZUI this article from the Riverside (California) Press-Enterprise:
Medal of Honor recipient Lewis Millett of Idyllwild died Saturday morning at Jerry L. Pettis Memorial VA Medical Center in Loma Linda. He was 88.


Col. Millett was born in Mechanic Falls, Maine, on Dec. 15, 1920. He enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1940 and served as an air gunner, then joined the Canadian Army when it appeared the United States would not enter World War II.

"He joined the Royal Canadian Army after President Roosevelt said in a speech that no American boy would fight on foreign soil," [family spokesman Mike] Goldware said.

He returned to the U.S. Army in 1942 upon the United States' entrance into World War II and served in the 1st Armored Division. After making sergeant, he was awarded a battlefield commission.


He retired as a colonel in 1973 after a 31-year career in which he served in World War II, Korea War and the Vietnam War.

************* *** *************


Captain, US Army; Company E, 27th Infantry Regiment

Born: 15 December 1920, Mechanic Falls, Maine
Died: Loma Linda, California, 14 November 2009

Citation: Capt. Millett, Company E, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action [in the vicinity of Soam-Ni, Korea, on 7 February 1951]. While personally leading his company in an attack against a strongly held position he noted that the 1st Platoon was pinned down by small-arms, automatic, and antitank fire. Capt. Millett ordered the 3d Platoon forward, placed himself at the head of the 2 platoons, and, with fixed bayonet, led the assault up the fire-swept hill. In the fierce charge Capt. Millett bayoneted 2 enemy soldiers and boldly continued on, throwing grenades, clubbing and bayoneting the enemy, while urging his men forward by shouting encouragement. Despite vicious opposing fire, the whirlwind hand-to-hand assault carried to the crest of the hill. His dauntless leadership and personal courage so inspired his men that they stormed into the hostile position and used their bayonets with such lethal effect that the enemy fled in wild disorder. During this fierce onslaught Capt. Millett was wounded by grenade fragments but refused evacuation until the objective was taken and firmly secured. The superb leadership, conspicuous courage, and consummate devotion to duty demonstrated by Capt. Millett were directly responsible for the successful accomplishment of a hazardous mission and reflect the highest credit on himself and the heroic traditions of the military service.

15 November 2009

Victoria Cross: G. S. White


Major, 92nd Highlanders

Born: 4 July 1835, Rock Castle Portstewart, County Antrim, Ireland
Died: 24 June 1912, Royal Hospital Chelsea, London

Citation: For conspicuous bravery during the engagement at Charasiah on the 6th October, 1879, when, finding that the artillery and rifle fire failed to dislodge the enemy from a fortified hill which it was necessary to capture, Major White led an attack upon it in person.
Advancing with two companies of his regiment; and climbing from one steep ledge to another, he came upon a body of the enemy, strongly posted, and outnumbering his force by about 8 to 1. His men being much exhausted, and immediate action being necessary, Major White took a rifle and, going on by himself, shot the leader of the enemy. This act so intimidated the rest that they fled round the side of the hill, and the position was won.
Again, on the 1st September, 1880, at the battle of Candahar, Major White, in leading the final charge, under heavy fire from the enemy, who held a strong position and were supported by two guns, rode straight up to within a few yards of them, and seeing the guns, dashed forward and secured one, immediately after which the enemy retired.

(London Gazette Issue 24981 dated 3 Jun 1881, published 3 Jun 1881.)

Note: At the time of his death, he was Field Marshal Sir George Stuart White VC GCB OM GCSI GCMG GCIE GCVO.

Medal of Honor: P. C. Lemon


Specialist Fourth Class (later Sergeant), US Army; Company E, 2d Battalion, 8th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division

Born: 5 June 1950, Toronto, Canada
Died: TBD

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Lemon (then Sp4c.), Company E, distinguished himself [on 1 April 1970, in Tay Ninh Province, South Vietnam,] while serving as an assistant machine gunner during the defense of Fire Support Base Illingworth. When the base came under heavy enemy attack, Sgt. Lemon engaged a numerically superior enemy with machine gun and rifle fire from his defensive position until both weapons malfunctioned. He then used hand grenades to fend off the intensified enemy attack launched in his direction. After eliminating all but 1 of the enemy soldiers in the immediate vicinity, he pursued and disposed of the remaining soldier in hand-to-hand combat. Despite fragment wounds from an exploding grenade, Sgt. Lemon regained his position, carried a more seriously wounded comrade to an aid station, and, as he returned, was wounded a second time by enemy fire. Disregarding his personal injuries, he moved to his position through a hail of small arms and grenade fire. Sgt. Lemon immediately realized that the defensive sector was in danger of being overrun by the enemy and unhesitatingly assaulted the enemy soldiers by throwing hand grenades and engaging in hand-to-hand combat. He was wounded yet a third time, but his determined efforts successfully drove the enemy from the position. Securing an operable machine gun, Sgt. Lemon stood atop an embankment fully exposed to enemy fire, and placed effective fire upon the enemy until he collapsed from his multiple wounds and exhaustion. After regaining consciousness at the aid station, he refused medical evacuation until his more seriously wounded comrades had been evacuated. Sgt. Lemon's gallantry and extraordinary heroism, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

08 November 2009

Victoria Cross: Namdeo Jadhao


Sepoy, 5th Mahratta Light Infantry

Born: 10 November 1921, Nimai Village, Bombay, India
Died: 2 August 1964, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Citation: In Italy, on the evening of the 9th April, 1945, a Company of the 5th Mahratta Light Infantry assaulted the east floodbank of the Senio river, north of S. Polito. Three minutes afterwards another Company was to pass through and assault the west floodbank.
In this sector the Senio river is about 15 feet broad, 4 to 5 feet deep and flows between precipitous floodbanks 30 to 35 feet high. Both floodbanks were honeycombed with an intricate system of German dugouts and defence posts, with a mine belt on the inner face of the east floodbank above the dugout entrances.
Sepoy Namdeo Jadhao was a Company runner and when his Company crossed the river he was with his Company Commander close behind one of the leading sections.
When wading the river and emerging on the west bank the party came under heavy fire from at least three German posts on the inner face of the east bank. The Company commander and two men were wounded and the rest, with the exception of Sepoy Namdeo Jadhao, were killed.
This gallant Sepoy immediately carried one of the wounded men through the deep water and up the precipitous slope of the bank through the mine belt to safety. He then made a second trip to bring back the other wounded man. Both times he was under heavy mortar and machine gun fire.
He then determined to eliminate the machine gun posts, which had pinned down the Companies, and to avenge his dead comrades, so, crossing the exposed east bank a third time, he dashed at the nearest enemy post and silenced it with his Tommy Gun. He was, however, wounded in the hand and, being unable to fire his gun any further, threw it away and resorted to grenades. With these he successively charged and wiped out two more enemy posts, at one time crawling to the top of the bank to replenish his stock of grenades from his comrades on the reverse slope.
Having silenced all machine gun fire from the east bank, he then climbed on to the top of it and, in spite of heavy mortar fire, stood in the open shouting the Mahratta war cry and waving the remainder of the Companies across the river.
This Sepoy not only saved the lives of his comrades, but his outstanding gallantry and personal bravery enabled the two Companies to hold the river banks firmly, and eventually the Battalion to secure a deeper bridgehead, which in turn ultimately led to the collapse of all German resistance in the area.

[London Gazette issue 37134 dated 19 Jun 1945, published 15 Jun 1945.]

Medal of Honor: S. E. Skinner, Jr.


Second Lieutenant, US Marine Corps Reserve; Battery F, 2d Battalion, 11th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Reinforced)

Born: 29 October 1929, Hartford, Connecticut
Died: 26 October 1952, near Kaesong, North Korea

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as an artillery forward observer of Battery F, in action against enemy aggressor forces [near Kaesong, North Korea,] on the night of 26 October 1952. When his observation post in an extremely critical and vital sector of the main line of resistance was subjected to a sudden and fanatical attack by hostile forces, supported by a devastating barrage of artillery and mortar fire which completely severed communication lines connecting the outpost with friendly firing batteries, 2d Lt. Skinner, in a determined effort to hold his position, immediately organized and directed the surviving personnel in the defense of the outpost, continuing to call down fire on the enemy by means of radio alone until his equipment became damaged beyond repair. Undaunted by the intense hostile barrage and the rapidly-closing attackers, he twice left the protection of his bunker in order to direct accurate machine gun fire and to replenish the depleted supply of ammunition and grenades. Although painfully wounded on each occasion, he steadfastly refused medical aid until the rest of the men received treatment. As the ground attack reached its climax, he gallantly directed the final defense until the meager supply of ammunition was exhausted and the position overrun. During the 3 hours that the outpost was occupied by the enemy, several grenades were thrown into the bunker which served as protection for 2d Lt. Skinner and his remaining comrades. Realizing that there was no chance for other than passive resistance, he directed his men to feign death even though the hostile troops entered the bunker and searched their persons. Later, when an enemy grenade was thrown between him and 2 other survivors, he immediately threw himself on the deadly missile in an effort to protect the others, absorbing the full force of the explosion and sacrificing his life for his comrades. By his indomitable fighting spirit, superb leadership, and great personal valor in the face of tremendous odds, 2d Lt. Skinner served to inspire his fellow marines in their heroic stand against the enemy and upheld the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

05 November 2009

Penny for the guy

Remember, remember the Fifth of November:
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

01 November 2009

Book list - Oct 09

On the Far Side of the Mountain - children's, by Jean Craighead George
The Battle for Duncragglin - children's time travel, by Andrew H Vanderwal
The 1977 Annual World's Best SF - SF (short stories), edited by Donald A Wollheim
Dragons in the Waters - YA, by Madeleine L'Engle
When the Whistle Blows: The Story of the Footballers' Battalion in the Great War - WW I, by Andrew Riddoch
Going Bovine - YA, by Libba Bray
Captain Kidd's Cat - children's, by Robert Lawson *
Curious Notions - AH/SF, by Harry Turtledove
The Gladiator - AH/SF, by Harry Turtledove
The Valley-Westside War - AH/SF, by Harry Turtledove
Dust on the Sea - WWII fiction, by Douglas Reeman
The Haunting - YA, by Margaret Mahy (Carnegie Medal, 1982)
Fat Cat - YA, by Robin Brande
Just in Case - YA, by Meg Rosoff (Carnegie Medal, 2007)
Flour Babies - YA, by Anne Fine (Carnegie Medal, 1992)
Here Lies Arthur - YA fantasy, by Philip Reeve (Carnegie Medal, 2008)
Stonewall Hinkleman and the Battle of Bull Run - children's time travel, by Michael Hemphill
The Hostile Shore - thriller, by Douglas Reeman
Minutemen - children's time travel, by Lucy Ruggles
The Changeover: A Supernatural Romance - YA, by Margaret Mahy (Carnegie Medal, 1984)

20 books this month, with one reread (marked by an asterisk). To reach my goal of 209 books this year, I have to average 17.417 per month, so I'm currently slightly ahead of track.

The Turtledoves were actually written for a YA audience, I believe, but our library shelves them in the adult SF section, so....

The five Carnegie Medal winners bring me up to 24 of 70. Our local library system only has one more; after that I'll have to start doing ILLs.

Victoria Cross: N. R. Howse


Captain, New South Wales Medical Staff Corps, Australian Forces

Born: 26 October 1863, Stogursey, Somerset
Died: 19 September 1930, London

Citation: During the action at Vredefort [South Africa] on the 24th July, 1900, Captain House went out under a heavy cross fire and picked up a wounded man, and carried him to a place of shelter.

(London Gazette Issue 27320 dated 4 Jun 1901, published 4 Jun 1901.)

Note: Captain Howse was the first person serving with the Australian Forces to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

Medal of Honor: J. J. Madison


Lieutenant Commander, US Naval Reserve Force; commanding USS Ticonderoga

Born: 20 May 1884, Jersey City, New Jersey
Died: 25 December 1922, Brooklyn, New York

Citation: For exceptionally heroic service in a position of great responsibility as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Ticonderoga, when, on 4 October 1918, that vessel was attacked by an enemy submarine and was sunk after a prolonged and gallant resistance. The submarine opened fire at a range of 500 yards, the first shots taking effect on the bridge and forecastle, 1 of the 2 forward guns of the Ticonderoga being disabled by the second shot. The fire was returned and the fight continued for nearly 2 hours. Lt. Comdr. Madison was severely wounded early in the fight, but caused himself to be placed in a chair on the bridge and continued to direct the fire and to maneuver the ship. When the order was finally given to abandon the sinking ship, he became unconscious from loss of blood, but was lowered into a lifeboat and was saved, with 31 others, out of a total number of 236 on board.

Note: Ticonderoga, originally the German steamer Kamilla Rickmers, was seized by the United States in 1917, turned over to the Navy and fitted out as an animal transport. She was commissioned at Boston in the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS) on 5 January 1918.

30 October 2009

Medal of Honor to be awarded for Korea

ZUI this article from the Maui News:
Family members of the late Anthony T. Kahoohanohano could not contain their excitement Wednesday when President Barack Obama signed a bill that included a provision to award the Medal of Honor to Kahoohanohano who died fighting in the Korean War in 1951.

It "feels great . . . like a big weight was lifted off our shoulders," said Madeline Kahoohanohano of Kahului, Anthony Kahoohanohano's sister-in-law.


Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 on Wednesday in the East Room of the White House in Washington. The White House will determine where and when the award will be given, and those details have not been finalized, [US Senator Daniel] Akaka's staff said.

ZUI also this article from the Honolulul Star-Bulletin:
[Pfc] Kahoohanohano, from Maui, was 19 when he was killed Sept. 1, 1951, at Chupa-ri on the Korean peninsula. He was assigned to Company H, 17th Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, and was in charge of a machine gun squad supporting another Army company when the enemy attacked.

The citation for his Distinguished Service Cross says, "Because of the overwhelming numbers of the enemy, it was necessary for the friendly troops to execute a limited withdrawal."

Kahoohanohano's squad provided covering fire for the withdrawing forces. Wounded in the shoulder, Ka-hoohanohano "gathered a supply of grenades and ammunition and returned to his original position to face the enemy alone."

The enemy concentrated on Kahoohanohano's position, and when he ran out of ammunition, he continued to fight with a shovel. His stand inspired U.S. forces to launch a counterattack, the Army citation said.

The bodies of 13 enemy soldiers were found in Kahoohanohano's position. Two had been beaten to death with the shovel.

Update 1109 7 Aug 10: It's been over ten months since this was announced, but the medal has still not been presented.

27 October 2009

Fat Cat (Robin Brande)

Long, long ago - spring of '71, or thereabouts - I stopped off at the bookstore on my home from school one Monday afternoon, as I so often did, and was pleasantly surprised to find new paperback editions of two books I'd enjoyed at the library: When Worlds Collide, by Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer, and its sequel, After Worlds Collide. (Much better than the movie, of course!) Fortunately, I had a couple dollars in my pocket*, and was able to take them both home with me. I read When... that evening, and After... the next day. And then on Wednesday I reread After..., and on Thursday I reread When... - and I don't think I've ever read another book twice so close together.

Until a couple years ago, that is, when I read a book I liked so much that when I got to the bottom of the last page, I didn't even put the book down; I flipped straight back to the first page and read it again. That book was Evolution, Me and Other Freaks of Nature, by Robin Brande, and I kept thinking that I really ought to write some sort of review of it, since I liked it so much. But I really, really hate writing book reviews, so....

Then last weekend the library's copy of Fat Cat, Brande's second book, finally arrived. I got it at once, expecting a good read, and wasn't disappointed.

The book begins, presumably, on the first day of school; at any rate, it's the first day of Special Topics in Research Science. Mr Fizer has a stack of pictures, torn out of National Geographic and other magazines, and each student in the class will go up and, without looking, draw a picture from the stack. The picture selected will provide the topic for that student's research project.

Catherine "Cat" Locke is hoping for a picture of some sort of insects, so that she can build on the fig wasp project she'd done over the summer. But when she gets back to her seat and looks at the picture, she sees a group of Homo erectus - three males and a female - defending a carcass from a pack of hyenas. At first she's at a total loss for what to do, but then:
When I opened my eyes again, there was the woman's butt. And the rest of the woman. And for some reason, it occurred to me in that moment that she was actually kind of cool in her prehistoric way - strong, determined-looking, ready to haul off and hurl that rock while the guys just shouted and looked concerned.

And she was thin. Not emaciated, fashion-model thin, but that good muscular thin like you see on women athletes. She looked like she could run and hunt and fight just as well as the men - maybe even better.

And that's when I realized: I wanted to be her.

To look like her, rather, because Cat isn't thin and fit. Quite the opposite, in fact - she's had the nickname "Fat Cat" for several years now. And so her research project is going to be an attempt at living a pseudo-erectus lifestyle, eating only what H erectus ate (no processed foods) and avoiding as much as possible, with due regard to safety and health, use of technology (walking instead of riding in a car, using the stairs instead of the lift).

But after a few months, between the exercise and the dietary change Cat is no longer fat. In fact, she's turning into a pretty hot chick. And now she has to deal with the boys who are moving in on her - including the former best friend who betrayed her years ago....

I liked the whole concept of Cat's research project. In addition to the physical changes, she has to deal with the idea of suddenly becoming someone boys are interested in, and the resulting changes in her life - first date, first kiss, &c. She has her friend Amanda to help, but the girls have no idea of how the male mind works. (Not that the boys are any better at dealing with the female mind.) So it's a learning experience for all concerned....

Brande says that her next book will be a romantic comedy involving quantum physics and string theory. I'm looking forward to reading that one, too.

Fat Cat, by Robin Brande. Alfred A Knopf, 2009. Young adult. Available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, of course - though buying through IndieBound or from your local independent bookseller is highly recommended!

* The average paperback was what, 75 cents in 1971? Or were they still 60 cents?

25 October 2009

Victoria Cross: G. Meynell


Captain, 5th Battalion (Queen Victoria's Own Corps of Guides), 12th Frontier Force Regiment, Indian Army

Born: 30 May 1904, Meynell Langley, Derbyshire
Died: 29 September 1935, Mohmand, North West Frontier, India (now Pakistan)

Citation: For most conspicuous gallantry and extreme devotion to duty.
On the 29th September, 1935, while operating against Mohmand tribesmen in the attack on Point 4080, Captain Meynell was Adjutant of the Battalion. In the final phase of the attack, the Battalion Commander was unable to get information from his most forward troops. Captain Meynell went forward to ascertain the situation and found the forward troops on the objective, but involved in a struggle against an enemy vastly superior in numbers. Seeing the situation he at once took over command of the men in this area. The enemy, by this time, was closing in on the position from three sides.
Captain Meynell had at his disposal two Lewis guns and about thirty men. Although this party was maintaining heavy and accurate fire on the advancing enemy, the overwhelming numbers of the latter succeeded in reaching the position. Both the Lewis guns were damaged beyond repair and a fierce hand to hand struggle commenced.
During the struggle Captain Meynell was mortally wounded and all his men were either killed or wounded.
Throughout the action Captain Meynell endeavoured by all means to communicate the situation to Headquarters, but determined to hold on at all costs and encouraged his men to fight with him to the last.
By so doing he inflicted on the enemy very heavy casualties which prevented them from exploiting their success.
The fine example Captain Meynell set to his men, coupled with his determination to hold the position to the last, maintain the traditions of the Army and reflect the highest credit on the fallen officer and his comrades.

(London Gazette Issue 34235 dated 24 Dec 1935, published 24 Dec 1935.)

Note: This was the only Victoria Cross presented by HM King Edward VIII during his reign.
For their service during the Mohmand operations on the North West Frontier in 1935, Capt F J Doherty MB, Indian Medical Service, and Lieut G J Hamilton, Corps of Guides, were made Companions of the Distinguished Service Order; Lieut J N D Tyler, Royal Artillery, was awarded the Military Cross; and Gunner E A Thomas, Royal Artillery, was awarded the Military Medal.

Medal of Honor: R. R. Wright


Specialist Fourth Class, US Army; Company A, 3d Battalion, 60th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division

Born: 5 December 1945, Moriah, New York
Died: 24 September 1999, New York(?)

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. While serving as a rifleman with Company A [in the Ap Bac Zone, Republic of Vietnam], Sp4c. Wright distinguished himself during a combat patrol [on 2 May 1967] in an area where an enemy ambush had occurred earlier. Sp4c. Wright's unit suddenly came under intense automatic weapons and small-arms fire from an enemy bunker system protected by numerous snipers in nearby trees. Despite the heavy enemy fire, Sp4c. Wright and another soldier leaped to the top of a dike to assault the position. Armed with a rifle and several grenades, he and his comrade exposed themselves to intense fire from the bunkers as they charged the nearest one. Sp4c. Wright raced to the bunker, threw in a grenade, killing its occupant. The 2 soldiers then ran through a hail of fire to the second bunker. While his comrade covered him with his machinegun, Sp4c. Wright charged the bunker and succeeded in killing its occupant with a grenade. A third bunker contained an automatic rifleman who had pinned down much of the friendly platoon. While his comrade again covered him with machinegun fire, Sp4c. Wright charged in and killed the enemy rifleman with a grenade. The 2 soldiers worked their way through the remaining bunkers, knocking out 4 of them. Throughout their furious assault, Sp4c. Wright and his comrade had been almost continuously exposed to intense sniper fire from the treeline as the enemy desperately sought to stop their attack. Overcoming stubborn resistance from the bunker system, the men advanced into the treeline forcing the snipers to retreat, giving immediate chase, and driving the enemy away from the friendly unit so that it advanced across the open area without further casualty. When his ammunition was exhausted, Sp4c. Wright returned to his unit to assist in the evacuation of the wounded. This 2-man assault had driven an enemy platoon from a well prepared position, accounted for numerous enemy casualties, and averted further friendly casualties. Sp4c. Wright's extraordinary heroism, courage, and indomitable fighting spirit saved the lives of many of his comrades and inflicted serious damage on the enemy. His acts were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.

Note: The other soldier mentioned in the citation was Sgt Leonard B Keller, who also received the Medal of Honor for this action.

21 October 2009

RIP: Leonard Keller

Leonard B Keller
25 Feb 1947 – 18 Oct 2009

ZUI this article from the Pensacola (FL) News Journal:
A Milton man who received the Medal of Honor for his service in Vietnam died after a motorcycle crash as he was leaving a veterans’ club Sunday.

Leonard “Len” Keller, 62, died at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola following a crash outside the Fleet Reserve Association in Milton Sunday afternoon.

This article from the Northwest Florida Daily News includes further details on the accident.

************* *** *************


Sergeant, US Army; Company A, 3d Battalion, 60th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division

Born: 25 February 1947, Rockford, Illinois
Died: 18 October 2009, Pensacola, Florida

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty [on 2 May 1967, in the Ap Bac Zone, Republic of Vietnam]. Sweeping through an area where an enemy ambush had occurred earlier, Sgt. Keller's unit suddenly came under Intense automatic weapons and small-arms fire from a number of enemy bunkers and numerous snipers in nearby trees. Sgt. Keller quickly moved to a position where he could fire at a bunker from which automatic fire was received, killing 1 Viet Cong who attempted to escape. Leaping to the top of a dike, he and a comrade charged the enemy bunkers, dangerously exposing themselves to the enemy fire. Armed with a light machine gun, Sgt. Keller and his comrade began a systematic assault on the enemy bunkers. While Sgt. Keller neutralized the fire from the first bunker with his machine gun, the other soldier threw in a hand grenade killing its occupant. Then he and the other soldier charged a second bunker, killing its occupant. A third bunker contained an automatic rifleman who had pinned down much of the friendly platoon. Again, with utter disregard for the fire directed to them, the 2 men charged, killing the enemy within. Continuing their attack, Sgt. Keller and his comrade assaulted 4 more bunkers, killing the enemy within. During their furious assault, Sgt. Keller and his comrade had been almost continuously exposed to intense sniper fire as the enemy desperately sought to stop their attack. The ferocity of their assault had carried the soldiers beyond the line of bunkers into the treeline, forcing snipers to flee. The 2 men gave immediate chase, driving the enemy away from the friendly unit. When his ammunition was exhausted, Sgt. Keller returned to the platoon to assist in the evacuation of the wounded. The 2-man assault had driven an enemy platoon from a well prepared position, accounted for numerous enemy dead, and prevented further friendly casualties. Sgt. Keller's selfless heroism and indomitable fighting spirit saved the lives of many of his comrades and inflicted serious damage on the enemy. His acts were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.

Note: The comrade mentioned in the citation was Specialist Fourth Class Raymond R Wright, who was also awarded the Medal of Honor for this action.

18 October 2009

Victoria Cross: J. Maxwell


Lieutenant, 18th (New South Wales) Battalion, Australian Imperial Force

Born: 10 February 1896, Forest Lodge, New South Wales, Australia
Died: 6 July 1967, Matraville, New South Wales, Australia

Citation: For most conspicuous bravery and leadership in attack on the Beaurevoir-Fonsomme line near Estrees, North of St. Quentin, on the 3rd October, 1918.
His company commander was severely wounded early in the advance, and Lt. Maxwell at once took charge. The enemy wire when reached under intense fire was found to be exceptionally strong and closely supported by machine guns, whereupon Lt. Maxwell pushed forward single-handed through the wire and captured the most dangerous gun, killing three and capturing four enemy. He thus enabled his company to penetrate the wire and reach the objective. Later, he again dashed forward and silenced, single-handed, a gun which was holding up a flank company. Subsequently, when with two men only he attempted to capture a strong party of the enemy, he handled a most involved situation very skilfully, and it was due to his resource that he and his comrades escaped.
Throughout the day Lt. Maxwell set a high example of personal bravery, coupled with excellent judgment and quick decision.

[London Gazette issue 31108 dated 6 January 1919, published 3 January 1919.]

Note: Maxwell was subsequently awarded a Bar to his Military Cross for his actions near Rainecourt, France, on 9 August 1918.

Medal of Honor: W. Seach


Ordinary Seaman, US Navy; USS Newark (C 1)

Born: 23 May 1877, London, England
Died: 24 October 1978, Brockton, Massachusetts

Citation: In action with the relief expedition of the Allied forces in China during the battles of 13, 20, 21 and 22 June 1900. June 13: Seach and 6 others were cited for their courage in repulsing an attack by 300 Chinese Imperialist soldiers and Boxer militants with a bayonet charge, thus thwarting a planned massive attack on the entire force. June 20: During a day-long battle, Seach ran across an open clearing, gained cover, and cleaned out nests of Chinese snipers. June 21: During a surprise sabre attack by Chinese cavalrymen, Seach was cited for defending gun emplacements. June 22: Seach and others breached the wall of a Chinese fort, fought their way to the enemy's guns, and turned the cannon upon the defenders of the fort. Throughout this period and in the presence of the enemy, Seach distinguished himself by meritorious conduct.

13 October 2009


"These are hard times. The world hurts. We live in fear and forget to walk with hope. But hope has not forgotten you. So ask it to dinner. It's probably hungry and would appreciate the invitation."
-- Libba Bray, Going Bovine

11 October 2009

Victoria Cross: E. S. F. Fegen


Commander (acting Captain), Royal Navy; commanding HMS Jervis Bay

Born: 8 October 1891, Southsea, Hampshire
Died: 5 November 1940, Atlantic Ocean aboard HMS Jervis Bay

Citation: The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the VICTORIA CROSS to

the late Commander (acting Captain) Edward Stephen Fogarty Fegen, Royal Navy

for valour in challenging hopeless odds and giving his life to save the many ships it was his duty to protect.
On the 5th of November, 1940, in heavy seas, Captain Fegen, in His Majesty's Armed Merchant Cruiser Jervis Bay, was escorting thirty-eight merchantmen [in convoy HX34]. Sighting a powerful German warship he at once drew clear of the Convoy, made straight for the Enemy, and brought his ship between the Raider and her prey, so that they might scatter and escape. Crippled, in flames, unable to reply, for nearly an hour the Jervis Bay held the German's fire. So she went down; but of the merchantmen all but four or five were saved.

[London Gazette issue 34999 dtd 22 Nov 1940, published 22 Nov 1940]

Note: The German ship that sank Jervis Bay - a 14,000-ton merchant cruiser which had been converted from a 1922-vintage passenger liner - was the pocket battleship Admiral Scheer, commanded by Theodor Krancke.
Fegen, as commanding officer of HMS Garland, was awarded the Sea Gallantry Medal (the Board of Trade Medal for Saving Life) in silver during World War I.

Medal of Honor: T. W. Custer


Second Lieutenant, Company B, 6th Michigan Cavalry

Born: 15 March 1845, New Rumley, Ohio
Died: 25 June 1876, near the Little Bighorn River, Montana Territory

Citation: Capture of flag [at Namozine Church, Virginia] on 3 May 1863.

Citation: 2d Lt. Custer leaped his horse over the enemy's works [at Sayler's Creek, Virginia, on 6 April 1865] and captured 2 stands of colors, having his horse shot from under him and receiving a severe wound.

Note: One of 19 men to receive the Medal of Honor twice. He was George Armstrong Custer's younger brother, and died with him at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

07 October 2009

RIP: Generalleutnant Günther Rall

Günther Rall
10 Mar 1918 - 4 Oct 2009

Günther Rall, one of Germany's top fighter aces of World War II, died Sunday at his home in Bad Reichenhall, Germany. ZUI this article (in German) from Frankfurter Allgemeine, and also this article at Warbirds.

According to Wikipedia, Rall flew a total of 621 combat missions, was shot down eight times and was wounded thrice. He scored a total of 275 victories, 272 of them on the Eastern Front (including 241 Soviet fighters), flying a Messerschmitt Bf 109. After the war, he served with the West German Air Force; a page on his service (also in German) can be found at their website.

Ace Pilots also has a biography of Rall.

Bundesarchiv photos of Genlt Rall (1970 and 1943) copied from Wikimedia Commons.

06 October 2009

58, please....

I found a 57 yesterday afternoon. Anybody have a 58?

05 October 2009


Mayor's Assistant: I guess it is better to learn from the mistakes of others rather than to make them yourself.
Robot Police Officer: Speaking of which, could you get your management personnel to admit to making mistakes? There are many learning opportunities going undocumented.

04 October 2009

Victoria Cross: A. M. C. McReady-Diarmid


Temporary Lieutenant (Acting Captain), 17th (Service) Battalion The Middlesex Regiment

Born: 21 March 1888, Southgate, North London
Died: 1 December 1917, Moeuvres Sector, France

Citation: His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned Officer:-
T./Lt. (A.Capt.) Allastair Malcolm Cluny McReady-Diarmid (formerly Arthur Malcolm McReady-Drew), late Midd'x R.
For most conspicuous bravery and brilliant leadership.
When the enemy penetrated some distance into our position [on 30 November 1917] and the situation was extremely critical, Captain McReady-Diarmid at once led his company forward through a heavy barrage. He immediately engaged the enemy, with such success that he drove them back at least 300 yards, causing numerous casualties and capturing 27 prisoners.
The following day the enemy again attacked and drove back another company which had lost all its officers. This gallant officer at once called for volunteers and attacked. He drove them back again for 300 yards, with heavy casualties. Throughout this attack Captain McReady-Diarmid led the way himself, and it was absolutely and entirely due to his marvellous throwing of bombs that the ground was regained.
His absolute disregard for danger, his cheerfulness and coolness at a most trying time inspired all who saw him.
This most gallant officer was eventually killed by a bomb when the enemy had been driven right back to their starting point.

[London Gazette issue 30578 dated 15 Mar 1918, published 12 Mar 1918.]