30 April 2009

Carnegie and Greenaway short lists announced

CILIP - the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals - have released the short lists for this year's Carnegie Medal and Kate Greenaway Medal.

The Andrew Carnegie Medal, named for the Scottish philanthropist, has been awarded annually since 1937 to the writer of "an outstanding book for children." In addition to the gold medal, the winner receives £500 worth of books to donate to a library of his/her choice.

This year's short list consists of:
Cosmic, by Frank Cottrell Boyce* (here)
Black Rabbit Summer, by Kevin Brooks (here)
Airman, by Eoin Colfer (here)
Bog Child, by Siobhan Dowd (here)
Ostrich Boys, by Keith Gray (here)
The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness (here)
Creature of the Night, by Kate Thompson (here)

The Kate Greenaway Medal, named for the nineteenth-century artist, has been awarded annually since 1957 to the illustrator of "an outstanding book in terms of illustration for children and young people." As with the Carnegie Medal, the winner receives a golden medal and £500 worth of books to donate to a library of his/her choice; since 2000, the winner has also been awarded the £5000 Colin Mears Award.

This year's short list consists of:
The Snow Goose, written by Paul Gallico and illustrated by Angela Barrett (here)
Varmints, written by Helen Ward and illustrated by Marc Craste (here)
Little Boat, written and illustrated by Thomas Docherty (here)
How to Heal a Broken Wing, written and illustrated by Bob Graham (here)
The Way Back Home, written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (here)
The Savage, written by David Almond and illustrated by Dave McKean (here)
Harris Finds His Feet, written and illustrated by Catherine Rayner (here)
Molly and the Night Monster, written and illustrated by Chris Wormell (here)

(Amazon links provided for reference. Most, if not all, are probably also available from Amazon US. Supporting independent booksellers, as always, is recommended.)

The winners will be announced on 25 June.

* Boyce was the winner of the 2004 Carnegie Medal, for his novel Millions.

29 April 2009

RIP: Robley Rex

ZUI this article from the Louisville (Kentucky) Courier-Journal:
Robley Henry Rex, a World War I-era Army veteran renowned and beloved for his volunteer service to other veterans, died yesterday at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Louisville just four days short of his 108th birthday.

Rex was born May 2, 1901, in Hopkinsville, Ky. He credited his longevity to his wife of 69 years, the former Gracie Bivins, who died in 1992 at 91.

"I married the right woman," Rex always said. He called her "the smartest woman in the world."

The two met at Camp Taylor in Louisville in 1919 before he was sent overseas with the Army. They married in 1922 when he returned to the United States.


Mary Jane Crowder, director of volunteer services at the VA center on Zorn Avenue, said Rex "was very much a role model to veterans, and we hear that over and over."

Rex was well-known to staff and patients at the center, where he was still volunteering three days a week when he was 105. He had logged more than 14,000 volunteer hours at the hospital since 1986, delivering charts and records along with the mail. He often chatted with patients or, being an ordained Methodist minister, shared a prayer with them.


Rex never saw combat, having enlisted after the armistice was signed. He was assigned to a military intelligence unit at the 3rd Army Headquarters in Germany -- an 18-year-old, 115-pound Army private.

"I did what they told me," he once said.

He was quoted as saying that when he landed in France, commanders asked if anyone could handle a typewriter. "God lifted my hand. … I went in to keep a chair warm."

He boxed as an Army flyweight in Europe against other U.S. soldiers and was given the name "Kid Rex." He said he lost more fights than he won.

Once back home and married, Rex farmed for 23 years in Daviess County, growing tobacco, corn and hay. He and his wife later moved to Louisville, where he retired as a railway postal clerk.

A WWI-era veteran is one who enlisted after the Armistice was signed on 11 Nov 1918, but before the Treaty of Versailles (signed on 28 Jun 1919), which actually ended World War I, became effective on 10 Jan 1920.

There are now six verified WWI veterans (those who served before the Armistice) still living - three British, and one each Australian, Canadian and US - as well as one unverified WWI veteran (British) and two WWI-era vets (one Brazilian and one Polish).

26 April 2009

Victoria Cross: W. D. Wright


Lieutenant, 1st Battalion The Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment

Born: 20 September 1875, Gibraltar
Died: 25 Mar 1953, Cobham, Surrey

Citation: On 24th March, 1903 [in northern Nigeria], Lieutenant Wright with only one officer and forty-four men took up a position in the path of the advancing enemy, and sustained the determined charges of 1,000 horse and 2,000 foot for two hours, and when the enemy, after heavy losses, fell back in good order, Lieutenant Wright continued to follow them till they were in full retreat. The personal example of this officer, as well as his skilful leadership, contributed largely to the brilliant success of this affair. He in no way infringed his orders by his daring initiative, as, though warned of the possibility of meeting large bodies of the enemy, he had purposely been left a free hand.

Note: Later Brigadier General Wallace Duffield Wright VC CB CMG DSO.

Medal of Honor: H. S. Carswell, Jr.


Major, US Army Air Corps; 308th Bombardment Group

Born: July 1916, Fort Worth, Texas
Died: 26 October 1944, China

Citation: He piloted a B-24 bomber in a one-plane strike against a Japanese convoy in the South China Sea on the night of 26 October 1944. Taking the enemy force of 12 ships escorted by at least 2 destroyers by surprise, he made 1 bombing run at 600 feet, scoring a near miss on 1 warship and escaping without drawing fire. He circled. and fully realizing that the convoy was thoroughly alerted and would meet his next attack with a barrage of antiaircraft fire, began a second low-level run which culminated in 2 direct hits on a large tanker. A hail of steel from Japanese guns, riddled the bomber, knocking out 2 engines, damaging a third, crippling the hydraulic system, puncturing 1 gasoline tank, ripping uncounted holes in the aircraft, and wounding the copilot; but by magnificent display of flying skill, Maj. Carswell controlled the plane's plunge toward the sea and carefully forced it into a halting climb in the direction of the China shore. On reaching land, where it would have been possible to abandon the staggering bomber, one of the crew discovered that his parachute had been ripped by flak and rendered useless; the pilot, hoping to cross mountainous terrain and reach a base. continued onward until the third engine failed. He ordered the crew to bail out while he struggled to maintain altitude. and, refusing to save himself, chose to remain with his comrade and attempt a crash landing. He died when the airplane struck a mountainside and burned. With consummate gallantry and intrepidity, Maj. Carswell gave his life in a supreme effort to save all members of his crew. His sacrifice. far beyond that required of him, was in keeping with the traditional bravery of America's war heroes.

Note: Carswell Air Force Base, Texas, was named in his honour.

24 April 2009

Coming books

There are four books I'm really looking forward to reading this year.

Any Which Wall, by Laurel Snyder, is about four children (Susan, Henry, Roy and Emma) who find a mysterious wall in the middle of a cornfield.
To their delight, it turns out to be wishing wall, complete with a key, capable of whisking them away to fascinating times and places. It’s not all fun and games, though, at least not at first. The kids have to puzzle out how the magic works and then contend with some mysterious visions granted to them by none other than the famous Merlin. The visions, along with the particular wishes each child makes, unfold into a unique life lesson for each of the children. (Kirkus)

(Other reviews can be found here and here.)

Snyder describes the book as a tribute to Edward Eager, one of my favourite authors; she also, as I recall, cites E Nesbit (another favourite) as an influence. I've read one other book by her, Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains, and enjoyed it very much. According to Amazon Any Which Wall is coming out on 26 May.

Operation YES, by Sara Lewis Holmes, is about a sixth-grade class (at an Air Force school) who band together when their teacher receives bad news. I can't find any on-line reviews by any of the usual suspects; the closest I came was this piece in which Holmes's editor explains how she wrote the flap copy for the book - but don't read that if you don't want to see a big spoiler. Amazon lists the book as due out on 1 September.

Alexandria, by Lindsey Davis, is the 19th book in the Marcus Didius Falco series, which began in 1989 with The Silver Pigs. Falco, last seen in Saturnalia (2007), is a private informer (ie, private investigator) in first-century Rome, who in addition to his normal, run-of-the-mill cases also receives frequent top-secret assignments from the Emperor Vespasian or his son Titus. Davis's sense of humour is marvellous, making these books more than just mysteries. (They're also well-researched, and therefore vaguely educational as well.) The book is actually already available (from Amazon, amongst others), but I'm still waiting for our public library to get its copy.

Fat Cat, by Robin Brande, is about "[a]n overweight high school science genius decides to improve her life, defeat the guy who broke her heart, and win the science fair at the same time by undergoing a radical experiment."* Brande's first book, Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature, was the best book I read in 2007, so I have high hopes for this book as well. Amazon says to expect it on 13 October.

IndieBound also lists Any Which Wall, Operation YES and Fat Cat.

Update 1123 28 Apr: Make that five books.

Over the weekend I read Blackbringer, an incredible YA fantasy novel by Laini Taylor (reviews here and here). The sequel, Silksinger, is coming out this fall. Taylor has a description, with advance comments, on her site. Amazon says 17 September.

* Description shamelessly lifted from Brande's own site.

21 April 2009

Talk Like Shakespeare Day

In sooth! Rest thine eyes upon this article from CNN News:
Hast thou been patterning thy parlance to evoke the vernacular of William Shakespeare?

Well, get thee to an Internet machine hastily, sirrah or mistress, for thou hast but two days from Tuesday to unleash thy inner bard.

Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago, Illinois, has declared Thursday [23 April] as "Talk Like Shakespeare Day" to celebrate the 445th birthday of the man many consider the greatest playwright in the English language.

While the bard's actual birth date is not known for sure, many scholars think it was April 23, 1564.

In a proclamation issued last week, Daley encouraged city residents to "screw their courage to the sticking place and celebrate Shakespeare by vocal acclamation of his words."

(This idea may be the best thing that has ever come from a man named Mayor Daley.)

H/T to Sara Lewis Holmes.

USS Stockdale (DDG 106) commissioned

ZUI this article from the San Diego (CA) Union-Tribune:
The U.S. Navy commissioned its newest guided-missile destroyer Saturday in a ceremony honoring Coronado's own Vice Adm. James Stockdale, the ship's namesake.

Four thousand folding chairs stood on the dock at the Naval Base Ventura County near Oxnard, in front of a gray behemoth there to be christened the USS Stockdale, in remembrance of one of the Navy's most highly decorated officers.

Most of those seats were filled before the hour-long ceremony began under a bright, cloudless sky at 11 a.m. Attendees reserved their loudest applause for the dozens of veterans and prisoners of war on hand, a group that included four Medal of Honor recipients.


One of Stockdale's granddaughters drew cheers when she uttered the ceremonial words: “Officers and crew of the USS Stockdale, man our ship and bring her to life.”

With that, a parade of white-uniformed sailors sprinted single-file onboard the destroyer, which will soon head back to San Diego, where it arrived in late March after being built in Maine. Within moments, the sailors were all positioned at points on the ship, hands clasped behind their backs.

Smoke erupted from the ship and four planes zoomed overhead as a horn blew. The ceremony concluded with a private tour of the ship for the veterans and prisoners of war who attended with wives and guests.


Stockdale died at age 81 at home in Coronado in 2005, surrounded by his wife, Sybil, and four grown sons. A fighter pilot who flew 201 carrier-based missions, he was the highest-ranking naval officer captured during the Vietnam War, spending 7½ grueling years in captivity after being shot down.

Stockdale received the Medal of Honor in 1976. His 26 combat decorations include two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Purple Hearts and four Silver Stars.

USS Stockdale (DDG 106) is an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, and is the third Navy ship to bear that name. (The first USS Stockdale was a side-wheel steamer which served in the Civil War; the second, DE 399, was named in honour of Ensign Lewis S Stockdale, who died at Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941.)

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


Rear Admiral (then Captain), US Navy; prisoner of war, North Vietnam

Born: 23 December 1923, Abingdon, Illinois
Died: 5 July 2005, Coronado, California

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while senior naval officer in the Prisoner of War camps of North Vietnam. Recognized by his captors as the leader in the Prisoners' of War resistance to interrogation and in their refusal to participate in propaganda exploitation, Rear Adm. Stockdale was singled out for interrogation and attendant torture after he was detected in a covert communications attempt. Sensing the start of another purge, and aware that his earlier efforts at self-disfiguration to dissuade his captors from exploiting him for propaganda purposes had resulted in cruel and agonizing punishment, Rear Adm. Stockdale resolved to make himself a symbol of resistance regardless of personal sacrifice. He deliberately inflicted a near-mortal wound to his person in order to convince his captors of his willingness to give up his life rather than capitulate. He was subsequently discovered and revived by the North Vietnamese who, convinced of his indomitable spirit, abated in their employment of excessive harassment and torture toward all of the Prisoners of War. By his heroic action, at great peril to himself, he earned the everlasting gratitude of his fellow prisoners and of his country. Rear Adm. Stockdale's valiant leadership and extraordinary courage in a hostile environment sustain and enhance the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

19 April 2009

Victoria Cross: E. J. B. Nicolson


Flight Lieutenant, Royal Air Force; 249 Squadron

Born: 29 April 1917, Hampstead, London
Died: 2 May 1945, Bay of Bengal, off Calcutta, India

Citation: During an engagement with the enemy near Southampton on 16th August, 1940, Flight Lieutenant Nicolson's aircraft was hit by four cannon shells, two of which wounded him whilst another set fire to the gravity tank. When about to abandon his aircraft owing to flames in the cockpit he sighted an enemy fighter. This he attacked and shot down, although as a result of staying in his burning aircraft he sustained serious burns to his hands, face, neck and legs.
Flight Lieutenant Nicolson has always displayed great enthusiasm for air fighting and this incident shows that he possesses courage and determination of a high order. By continuing to engage the enemy after he had been wounded and his aircraft set on fire, he displayed exceptional gallantry and disregard for the safety of his own life.

(London Gazette Issue 34993 dated 15 Nov 1940, published 15 Nov 1940.)

Note: Flt Lt Nicolson was the only fighter pilot to be awarded the Victoria Cross during World War II. (Wg Cdr G P Gibson VC scored four kills as a night-fighter pilot, flying Beaufighters, but he received his Victoria Cross as leader of the bombing raids on the Eder and Moehne dams.) He was killed when the plane in which he was flying as an observer ditched due to engine failure two hours after takeoff for a raid on Rangoon.

Medal of Honor: W. C. Neville


Lieutenant Colonel, US Marine Corps; commanding 2nd Marine Regiment

Born: 12 May 1870, Portsmouth, Virginia
Died: 8 July 1930, Edgewater, Florida

Citation: For distinguished conduct in battle engagements of Vera Cruz [Mexico] 21 and 22 April 1914. In command of the 2d Regiment Marines, Lt. Col. Neville was in both days' fighting and almost continually under fire from soon after landing, about noon on the 21st, until we were in possession of the city, about noon of the 22d. His duties required him to be at points of great danger in directing his officers and men, and he exhibited conspicuous courage, coolness, and skill in his conduct of the fighting. Upon his courage and skill depended, in great measure, success or failure. His responsibilities were great and he met them in a manner worthy of commendation.

Note: USS Neville (APA 9) was named in his honour.

14 April 2009

RIP: Netherwood Hughes

Netherwood Hughes
12 Jun 1900 - 4 Apr 2009

ZUI this article from the Accrington (Lancashire) Observer:
Netherwood Hughes, known as Ned, was one of three surviving First World War veterans until his death, but the family have said they do not want a military funeral.

The centenarian was born and bred in Great Harwood, where he lived all of his life until moving into residential care at Northlands in Great Harwood at the age of 98. Around six years ago he moved to Woodlands Home for the Elderly, Clayton-le-Moors, where he died last Saturday. He would have been 109 on 12 June.

Ned was the middle of seven children and outlived most of his family, including two wives Annie and May. He never had any children.


Last year the Observer exclusively revealed that Ned was one of the last surviving First World War veterans, after being called up in 1918.


Although he never met Ned, Britain’s longest living man and fellow veteran, Henry Allingham, 112, also said goodbye.

"Why him and not me? I’m always ready to go. It never gets any easier."

Ned leaves niece Ann and her husband Donald, sister-in-law Edith Hughes, he was the uncle of the late Clive Haworth and his wife Madge, and also uncle to the late Harry Haworth, nieces and nephews and extended family.

ZUI also this article, dated 20 Nov 08, from The Telegraph:
Netherwood Hughes - known as Ned - recalls being conscripted into the 51st Battalion of the Manchester Regiment and training as an infantryman less than six months before the war ended.

His wartime service has never been given public recognition because of missing documents and a reluctance by his family to expose him to the limelight because of his age.

But when he showed a photograph of himself in uniform to a local newspaper reporter in his hometown of Accrington as part of an article about his 108th birthday earlier this year, details were soon picked up by First World War enthusiasts and circulated on the internet.


Mr Hughes, who lives in a nursing home, remembers being called up after his 18th birthday in June 1918.

He would then have been on course to be deployed to the front lines in France or Belgium but the war ended in November and he quickly returned to civilian life as a driver in a mill, a rare skill much in demand at the time.

Any documentary record of his service has since been lost preventing him being given official recognition by the Ministry of Defence alongside the three other surviving British veterans: Henry Allingham, 112, Harry Patch, 110, and William Stone, 108.

He has been quietly recognised by the World War One Veteran's Association, although the organisation chose not to publicise the fact because of a request from Mr Hughes's family.

According to this article from Wikipedia, Hughes was the second WWI veteran to die this year, the other being William Stone, also from England. Wikipedia lists six remaining veterans of World War I: three British, and one each from Australia, Canada and the United States. The last German, Turkish, Austro-Hungarian, Italian and French veterans all died last year.

12 April 2009

Victoria Cross: A. Martin-Leake


Surgeon-Captain, South African Constabulary
(later Lieutenant, Royal Army Medical Corps; attached 5th Field Ambulance)

Born: 4 April 1874, Standen, Ware, Hertfordshire
Died: 22 June 1953, High Cross, Hertfordshire

Citation: During the action at Vlakfontein [South Africa], on the 8th February, 1902, Surgeon-Captain Martin-Leake went up to a wounded man, and attended to him under a heavy fire from about 40 Boers at 100 yards range. He then went out to the assistance of a wounded Officer, and, whilst trying to place him in a comfortable position, was shot three times, but would not give in till he rolled over thoroughly exhausted. All the eight men at this point were wounded, and while they were lying on the Veldt, Surgeon-Captain Martin-Leake refused water till every one else had been served.

(London Gazette Issue 27433 dated 13 May 1902, published 13 May 1902.)

Citation: Lieutenant Arthur Martin Leake, Royal Army Medical Corps, who was awarded the Victoria Cross on 13th May, 1902, is granted a Clasp for conspicuous bravery in the present campaign:–
For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty throughout the campaign, especially during the period 29th October to 8th November, 1914, near Zonnebeke [Belgium], in rescuing, whilst exposed to constant fire, a large number of wounded who were lying close to the enemy's trenches.

(London Gazette Issue 29074 dated 18 Feb 1915, published 16 Feb 1915.)

Note: One of only three men to have been awarded the Victoria Cross twice.
Some sources also list High Cross as his birthplace, rather than Standen.

Medal of Honor: E. V. M. Izac


Lieutenant, US Navy; USS President Lincoln

Born: 18 December 1891, Cresco, Iowa
Died: 18 January 1990, Fairfax, Virginia

Citation: When the U.S.S. President Lincoln was attacked and sunk by the German submarine U-90, on 21 May 1918, Lt. Izac was captured and held as a prisoner on board the U-90 until the return of the submarine to Germany, when he was confined in the prison camp. During his stay on the U-90 he obtained information of the movements of German submarines which was so important that he determined to escape, with a view to making this information available to the U.S. and Allied Naval authorities. In attempting to carry out this plan, he jumped through the window of a rapidly moving train at the imminent risk of death, not only from the nature of the act itself but from the fire of the armed German soldiers who were guarding him. Having been recaptured and reconfined, Lt. Izac made a second and successful attempt to escape, breaking his way through barbed-wire fences and deliberately drawing the fire of the armed guards in the hope of permitting others to escape during the confusion. He made his way through the mountains of southwestern Germany, having only raw vegetables for food, and at the end, swam the River Rhine during the night in the immediate vicinity of German sentries.

07 April 2009

Ney Award

Slightly late, but ZUI this article from The Dolphin, the weekly newspaper for the Groton (CT) submarine base:
With a pinch of persistence and a dash of determination, culinary specialists on board USS Providence have cooked up award-winning food service that was recognized by the Secretary of the Navy.
Providence was named the submarine recipient of the 2009 Captain Edward F. Ney Award for Food Service Excellence in a message released by the Secretary of the Navy, Donald C. Winter.
This is the first time Providence and most of the Culinary Specialists on board have won the award, which was established in 1958 by the Secretary of the Navy and the International Food Service Executives Association (IFSEA) to improve and recognize the quality of food service in the Navy.


What makes this more remarkable, according to [Providence Supply Officer Ensign Allan] Hamby, the competition occurred while Providence was on a deployment.
"Other boats are competing with us while they were at the pier with all the support that brings, while our guys were getting random stuff from supplies in foreign ports."
Culinary Specialist Chief Petty Officer Gerald Davis, leading Chef Petty Officer, believes pride and focus were the recipe that put Providence on top of the competition.


The Ney award was named in honor of Captain Edward F. Ney, a United States Navy Supply Corps Officer who served as head of the Subsistence Division of the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts between 1940 and 1945.

ZUI also this article from the New London (CT) Day:
[T]he rest of the Providence crew did not need an award to tell them that their food is the best. They eat well every day, from the tacos to the lasagna to the crowd-pleasing “Wicked Chicken.”

”I don't miss many meals,” Chief Randy Gallogly, the corpsman, says, laughing.


Many credited Culinary Specialist Chief Dwayne Davis, the leading culinary specialist, with making the division the top in the Submarine Force.

”We have the best job on the ship,” Davis says.

Good food is the key to high morale, making their job on the ship essential to a mission's success, Davis adds.

”The guys coming down the line are operating millions of dollars' worth of equipment,” he says. “A good meal helps them stand the watch just a little bit better.”

Davis is the creator of Wicked Chicken, a dish inspired by boneless Buffalo wings that he serves with macaroni and cheese and vegetables.

Runner-up for the submarine award was USS Louisiana (Gold) (SSBN 743), while USS Rhode Island (Gold) (SSBN 740) received an honourable mention. Other winners include USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), USS Cole (DDG 67) and Naval Station Guantanamo Bay.

BZ, Providence!

H/T to my friend Michele.

RIP: Tom Braden

Thomas Wardell Braden
22 Feb 1917 – 3 Apr 2009

ZUI this article from the Los Angeles Times:
Tom Braden, a former CIA operative who became a syndicated newspaper columnist, liberal co-host of the CNN talk show "Crossfire" and author of "Eight Is Enough," a 1975 memoir that spawned the popular television series, died of natural causes Friday at his Denver home, his family said. He was 92.

Braden was the father of eight children whose misadventures provided amusing grist for many of his newspaper columns and led to the ABC comedy-drama "Eight Is Enough," which aired from 1977 to 1981 and starred Dick Van Patten as Tom Bradford, a Sacramento columnist with a brood of children ages 8 to 23.

But Braden was also prominent as one of the original co-hosts of "Crossfire," the topical show that made its debut in 1982 and pitted him against former Nixon aide and political commentator Pat Buchanan.


Braden was born in Greene, Iowa, on Feb. 22, 1917. His father worked a variety of jobs, including at a tie store and a bank. His mother was a writer for American Mercury, the magazine founded by H.L. Mencken and drama critic George Jean Nathan.


In 1941, he went to England and was among a small group of Americans who enlisted in the King's Royal Rifle Corps in the British Army to fight in World War II. He later joined the U.S. Army and shifted to intelligence work for the Office of Strategic Services, the predecessor of the CIA.

With Stewart Alsop, the columnist and political analyst who had also fought with the British Army and joined the OSS, Braden wrote the book "Sub Rosa: The OSS and American Espionage" (1946).

After the war, he taught for a few years at Dartmouth, where he met poet Robert Frost, who encouraged him to pursue journalism. But in 1950 he joined the CIA and worked for Allen Dulles, who became CIA director in 1953.


["Eight Is Enough"] didn't sell well at first, despite the many entertaining tales Braden told, such as when one son was arrested on marijuana charges and when a daughter's pet boa constrictor went missing. He also told of the time the family's lamb nuzzled up against a famous dinner guest, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.

Braden's wife died in 1999. His son Tommy, the seventh of his eight children, died in 1994. His surviving children are David Braden of Taipei, Taiwan; Mary Poole of Alexandria, Va.; Susan Braden of Takoma Park, Md.; Joannie Braden, Nancy Basta and Elizabeth Braden, all of Denver; and Nicholas Braden of Washington, D.C. He also leaves 12 grandchildren.

Can't remember if I actually read Eight Is Enough, but I did enjoy the TV series - which had little to do with Braden's book beyond the number and names of the children.

RIP: Russell Dunham

Russell E Dunham
23 Feb 1920 - 6 Apr 2009

ZUI this article from the St Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch:
Russell Dunham, a World War II veteran who won the Medal of Honor, died of heart failure in his home in Godfrey on Monday (April 6, 2009). He was 89.

Mr. Dunham won the nation's highest military honor for his bravery during a battle near Kayserberg, France, on Jan. 8, 1945.


In a 1999 interview, Mr. Dunham told the Post-Dispatch he wasn't aware of being in great danger at the time, or in other battles. "Once you get into battle, you forget your fears," Mr. Dunham said.

A member of the 30th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division, Mr. Dunham fought in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and France, earning a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and almost every other combat medal available.


Mr. Dunham was born in East Carondelet [Illinois] in 1920 and spent his youth around Fosterburg in Madison County. When he was about 16, he went to live with his older brother Ralph in St. Louis for several years. They sold soup, hot tamales and other items on the streets.

After his military service, Mr. Dunham went on to work as a benefits counselor with the VA in St. Louis for about 30 years. He got veterans signed up for benefits before they arrived home, said his stepdaughter, Annette Wilson of Godfrey.


In addition to his stepdaughter and granddaughter, among the survivors are a daughter, Mary Neal of Cobden, Ill., a stepson, David Bazzell of Louisiana; three brothers; three sisters; and several other grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Wilda Long-Bazzell.

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


Technical Sergeant, US Army; Company I, 30th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division

Born: 23 February 1920, East Carondelet, Illinois
Died: 6 April 2009, Godfrey, Illinois

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. At about 1430 hours on 8 January 1945, during an attack on Hill 616, near Kayserberg, France, T/Sgt. Dunham single-handedly assaulted 3 enemy machineguns. Wearing a white robe made of a mattress cover, carrying 12 carbine magazines and with a dozen hand grenades snagged in his belt, suspenders, and buttonholes, T/Sgt. Dunham advanced in the attack up a snow-covered hill under fire from 2 machineguns and supporting riflemen. His platoon 35 yards behind him, T/Sgt. Dunham crawled 75 yards under heavy direct fire toward the timbered emplacement shielding the left machinegun. As he jumped to his feet 10 yards from the gun and charged forward, machinegun fire tore through his camouflage robe and a rifle bullet seared a 10-inch gash across his back sending him spinning 15 yards down hill into the snow. When the indomitable sergeant sprang to his feet to renew his 1-man assault, a German egg grenade landed beside him. He kicked it aside, and as it exploded 5 yards away, shot and killed the German machinegunner and assistant gunner. His carbine empty, he jumped into the emplacement and hauled out the third member of the gun crew by the collar. Although his back wound was causing him excruciating pain and blood was seeping through his white coat, T/Sgt. Dunham proceeded 50 yards through a storm of automatic and rifle fire to attack the second machinegun. Twenty-five yards from the emplacement he hurled 2 grenades, destroying the gun and its crew; then fired down into the supporting foxholes with his carbine dispatching and dispersing the enemy riflemen. Although his coat was so thoroughly blood-soaked that he was a conspicuous target against the white landscape, T/Sgt. Dunham again advanced ahead of his platoon in an assault on enemy positions farther up the hill. Coming under machinegun fire from 65 yards to his front, while rifle grenades exploded 10 yards from his position, he hit the ground and crawled forward. At 15 yards range, he jumped to his feet, staggered a few paces toward the timbered machinegun emplacement and killed the crew with hand grenades. An enemy rifleman fired at pointblank range, but missed him. After killing the rifleman, T/Sgt. Dunham drove others from their foxholes with grenades and carbine fire. Killing 9 Germans - wounding 7 and capturing 2 - firing about 175 rounds of carbine ammunition, and expending 11 grenades, T/Sgt. Dunham, despite a painful wound, spearheaded a spectacular and successful diversionary attack.

05 April 2009

Victoria Cross: Buckley, Burgoyne, Roberts and Cooper


Commander (then Lieutenant), Royal Navy; HMS Miranda

Born: 7 October 1828, Patricroft, Lancashire
Died: 7 December 1872, Funchal, Madeira

Citation: Lord Lyons reports that—"Whilst serving as junior Lieutenant of the 'Miranda,'this Officer landed in presence of a superior force, and set fire to the Russian stores at Genitchi," and "he also performed a similar desperate service at Taganrog."
The first service referred to occurred after the shelling of the town of Genitchi [in the Crimea], on the 29th May, 1855. After mentioning that the stores were in a very favourable position for supplying the Russian Army, and that, therefore, their destruction was of the utmost importance, Captain Lyons writes: "Lieutenant Cecil W. Buckley, Lieutenant Hugh T. Burgoyne, and Mr. John Roberts, gunner, volunteered to land alone, and fire the stores, which offer I accepted, knowing the imminent risk there would be in landing a party in presence of such a superior force, and out of gun-shot of the ships. This very dangerous service they most gallantly performed, narrowly escaping the Cossacks, who all but cut them off from their boat."
(Despatch from Admiral Lord Lyons, 2nd June, 1855, No. 419.)
The second volunteer service was performed while the town of Taganrog [Russia] was being bombarded by the boats of the Fleet, and is thus recorded by Captain Lyons:—"Lieutenant Cecil Buckley, in a four-oared gig, accompanied by Mr. Henry Cooper, Boatswain, and manned by volunteers, repeatedly landed and fired the different stores and Government buildings. This dangerous, not to say desperate service (carried out in a town containing upwards of 3,000 troops, constantly endeavouring to prevent it, and only checked by the fire of the boats' guns), was most effectually performed."
(Despatch from Admiral Lord Lyons, 6th June, 1855, No. 429.)

(London Gazette issue 21971 dated 24 Feb 1857, published 24 Feb 1857.)


Commander (then Lieutenant), Royal Navy; HMS Swallow

Born: 17 July 1833, Dublin, Ireland
Died: 7 September 1870, off Cape Finisterre, Spain

Citation: Lord Lyons writes:—"As Senior Lieutenant of the 'Swallow,' this Officer landed with Lieutenant Buckley, and Mr. J. Roberts, Gunner, in presence of a superior force, and set fire to the stores at Genitchi, a service of imminent risk."
(Despatch from Admiral Lord Lyons, 2nd June, 1855, No. 419.)
N.B.—This service has been previously described in the preceding notice of Lieutenant Buckley's services.

(London Gazette issue 21971 dated 24 Feb 1857, published 24 Feb 1857.)

Note: Captain J T Burgoyne VC was the commanding officer of HMS Captain when that ship capsized in a gale off Cape Finisterre.


Gunner, Royal Navy; HMS Ardent

Born: 1818, Chacewater, Cornwall
Died: 17 October 1888, Southsea, Hampshire

Citation: This Warrant Officer landed with Lieutenants Buckley and Burgoyne at Genitchi, in presence of a superior force, and set fire to the Stores, a service of imminent risk.
(Despatch from Admiral Lord Lyons, 2nd June, 1855, No. 419.)

(London Gazette issue 21971 dated 24 Feb 1857, published 24 Feb 1857.)


Boatswain, Royal Navy; HMS Miranda

Born: 1825, Plymouth, Devon
Died: 15 July 1893, Torpoint, Cornwall

Citation: Performed the desperate service of landing at Taganrog in presence of a large force, to set fire to the Government Stores. See preceding Memoir of Commander Buckley.
(Despatch from Admiral Lord Lyons, 6th June, 1855, No. 429.)

(London Gazette issue 21971 dated 24 Feb 1857, published 24 Feb 1857.)

Note: These were the first four Victoria Crosses posted in the London Gazette ("gazetted"). At the first investiture of the Victoria Cross, on 26 June 1857 at Hyde Park, Burgoyne was the third, Robarts the sixth, and Cooper the eighth man to actually be presented with the medal. (Commander Buckley was not present on that occasion.)

Medal of Honor: R. H. Von Schlick


Private, Company C, 9th US Infantry

Born: Germany
Died: 1 July 1941

Citation: Although previously wounded while carrying a wounded comrade to a place of safety, rejoined his command, which partly occupied an exposed position upon a dike [at Tientsin, China, on 13 July 1900], remaining there after his command had been withdrawn, singly keeping up the fire, and obliviously presenting himself as a conspicuous target until he was literally shot off his position by the enemy.

01 April 2009

Book list - Mar 09

Shadows in the Jungle: The Alamo Scouts Behind Japanese Lines in World War II - World War II, by Larry Alexander
Winnie's War - children's historical fiction, by Jenny Moss
Cold Comfort Farm - humour, by Stella Gibbons
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks: A Novel - YA, by E Lockhart
The First to Land - historical fiction, by Douglas Reeman
The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories - children's fantasy (short stories), by Joan Aiken
Moon of Three Rings - SF, by Andre Norton *
The Boxer Rebellion - history, by Diana Preston
Roxie and the Hooligans - children's, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
The Slave Dancer - children's historical fiction, by Paula Fox (Newbery Medal, 1974)
Gay Neck: the Story of a Pigeon - children's, by Dhan Gopal Mukerji (Newbery Medal, 1928)
Exiles of the Stars - SF, by Andre Norton *
The Zero Stone - SF, by Andre Norton *

13 books this month, with three rereads. To reach my goal of 209 books this year, I'll have to average 17.417 per month, so I'm currently still behind track. No fear....

The two Newbery Medal winners bring my total thus far up to 75 of 88.

Carnegie Medal books

In addition to reading the Newbery Medal winners, I've started on the books which have been awarded the Andrew Carnegie Medal - the British equivalent of the Newbery Medal, now awarded by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).

The medal was first awarded in 1937, for the best children's book of 1936, but there have been three years when no book was considered suitable, so there are only 70 winners thus far. In addition to the gold medal, the winner receives £500 worth of books to donate to a library of his/her/their choice.

Here's the list. (Dates marked in red indicate the six books I had already read before last year; dates in purple indicate the ones I've read since.)

1936: Pigeon Post, by Arthur Ransome
1937: The Family from One End Street, by Eve Garnett
1938: The Circus is Coming, by Noel Streatfield
1939: Radium Woman, by Eleanor Doorly
1940: Visitors from London, by Kitty Barne
1941: We Couldn't Leave Dinah, by Mary Treadgold
1942: The Little Grey Men, by 'BB' (D J Watkins-Pitchford)
1943: Prize withheld as no book considered suitable
1944: The Wind on the Moon, by Eric Linklater
1945: Prize withheld as no book considered suitable
1946: The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge
1947: Collected Stories for Children, Walter De La Mare
1948: Sea Change, by Richard Armstrong
1949: The Story of Your Home, by Agnes Allen
1950: The Lark on the Wing, by Elfrida Vipont Foulds
1951: The Woolpack, by Cynthia Harnett
1952: The Borrowers, by Mary Norton
1953: A Valley Grows Up, by Edward Osmond
1954: Knight Crusader, by Ronald Welch (Felton Ronald Oliver)
1955: The Little Bookroom, by Eleanor Farjeon
1956: The Last Battle, by C S Lewis
1957: A Grass Rope, by William Mayne
1958: Tom's Midnight Garden, by Philipa Pearce
1959: The Lantern Bearers, by Rosemary Sutcliff
1960: The Making of Man, by Dr I W Cornwall
1961: A Stranger at Green Knowe, by Lucy M Boston
1962: The Twelve and the Genii, by Pauline Clarke
1963: Time of Trial, by Hester Burton
1964: Nordy Bank, by Sheena Porter
1965: The Grange at High Force, by Philip Turner
1966: Prize withheld as no book considered suitable
1967: The Owl Service, by Alan Garner
1968: The Moon in the Cloud, by Rosemary Harris
1969: The Edge of the Cloud, by Kathleen Peyton
1970: The God Beneath the Sea, by Leon Garfield and Edward Blishen
1971: Josh, by Ivan Southall
1972: Watership Down, by Richard Adams
1973: The Ghost of Thomas Kempe, by Penelope Lively
1974: The Stronghold, by Mollie Hunter
1975: The Machine Gunners, by Robert Westall
1976: Thunder and Lightnings, by Jan Mark
1977: The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler, by Gene Kemp
1978: The Exeter Blitz, by David Rees
1979: Tulku, by Peter Dickinson
1980: City of Gold, by Peter Dickinson
1981: The Scarecrows, by Robert Westall
1982: The Haunting, by Margaret Mahy
1983: Handles, by Jan Mark
1984: The Changeover, by Margaret Mahy
1985: Storm, by Kevin Crossley-Holland
1986: Granny was a Buffer Girl, by Berlie Doherty
1987: The Ghost Drum, by Susan Price
1988: A Pack of Lies, by Geraldine McCaughrean
1989: Goggle-eyes, by Anne Fine
1990: Wolf, by Gillian Cross
1991: Dear Nobody, by Berlie Doherty
1992: Flour Babies, by Anne Fine
1993: Stone Cold, by Robert Swindells
1994: Whispers in the Graveyard, by Theresa Breslin
1995: Northern Lights, by Philip Pullman*
1996: Junk, by Melvin Burgess
1997: River Boy, by Tim Bowler
1998: Skellig, by David Almond
1999: Postcards From No Man's Land, by Aidan Chambers
2000: The Other Side of Truth, by Beverley Naidoo
2001: The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, by Terry Pratchett
2002: Ruby Holler, by Sharon Creech
2003: A Gathering Light, by Jennifer Donnelly
2004: Millions, by Frank Cottrell Boyce
2005: Tamar, by Mal Peet
2006: **
2007: Just in Case, by Meg Rosoff
2008: Here Lies Arthur, by Philip Reeve
2009: To be announced....

So the count now is 14 down, 56 to go. Unfortunately, our local library system (Groton, Waterford and Mystic/Noank) only has a dozen or so of the ones I haven't read yet, so I'm going to have to make a lot of ILL requests....

I only read one book (The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents) this last quarter, so obviously I liked it the most.

* His Dark Materials, Book 1. Published in the US as The Golden Compass.

** Up through the award for 2005, the winners were referred to by the year of publication. Beginning in 2007, the winners were referred to by the year the award was given, as with the American Newbery Medal. Thus there is no "2006 winner" of the Carnegie Medal. Tamar, the 2005 winner, was published in '05, and received the medal in '06. Just in Case, the 2007 winner, was published in '06 and received the award in '07.

Newbery Medal books

In March of '07, I took a look at a list of the 86 winners (now 88) of the John Newbery Medal, which is presented annually to the author of "the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children." I was somewhat shocked to discover that I had only read seven of the books (the newest of which was forty years old). So I've been reading my way through the list, and here's the current status. (Dates in red are the ones I had read before I started my current programme; dates in purple are the ones I've read since I started.)

1922: The Story of Mankind, by Hendrik Willem van Loon
1923: The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle, by Hugh Lofting
1924: The Dark Frigate, by Charles Hawes
1925: Tales from Silver Lands, by Charles J Finger
1926: Shen of the Sea, by Arthur Bowie Chrisman
1927: Smoky, the Cowhorse, by Will James
1928: Gay Neck, the Story of a Pigeon, by Dhan Gopal Mukerji
1929: The Trumpeter of Krakow, by Eric P. Kelly
1930: Hitty, Her First Hundred Years, by Rachel Field
1931: The Cat Who Went to Heaven, by Elizabeth Coatsworth
1932: Waterless Mountain, by Laura Adams Armer
1933: Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze, by Elizabeth Lewis
1934: Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women, by Cornelia Meigs
1935: Dobry, by Monica Shannon
1936: Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink
1937: Roller Skates, by Ruth Sawyer
1938: The White Stag, by Kate Seredy
1939: Thimble Summer, by Elizabeth Enright
1940: Daniel Boone, by James Daugherty
1941: Call It Courage, by Armstrong Sperry
1942: The Matchlock Gun, by Walter Edmonds
1943: Adam of the Road, by Elizabeth Janet Gray
1944: Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes
1945: Rabbit Hill, by Robert Lawson
1946: Strawberry Girl, by Lois Lenski
1947: Miss Hickory, by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
1948: The Twenty-One Balloons, by William Pène du Bois
1949: King of the Wind, by Marguerite Henry
1950: The Door in the Wall, by Marguerite de Angeli
1951: Amos Fortune, Free Man, by Elizabeth Yates
1952: Ginger Pye, by Eleanor Estes
1953: Secret of the Andes, by Ann Nolan Clark
1954: ...And Now Miguel, by Joseph Krumgold
1955: The Wheel on the School, by Meindert DeJong
1956: Carry On, Mr Bowditch, by Jean Lee Latham
1957: Miracles on Maple Hill, by Virginia Sorensen
1958: Rifles for Watie, by Harold Keith
1959: The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare
1960: Onion John, by Joseph Krumgold
1961: Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O'Dell
1962: The Bronze Bow, by Elizabeth George Speare
1963: A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle
1964: It's Like This, Cat, by Emily Neville
1965: Shadow of a Bull, by Maia Wojciechowska
1966: I, Juan de Pareja, by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino
1967: Up a Road Slowly, by Irene Hunt
1968: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler, by E L Konigsburg
1969: The High King, by Lloyd Alexander
1970: Sounder, by William H Armstrong
1971: The Summer of the Swans, by Betsy Byars
1972: Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, by Robert C O'Brien
1973: Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
1974: The Slave Dancer, by Paula Fox
1975: M C Higgins, the Great, by Virginia Hamilton
1976: The Grey King, by Susan Cooper
1977: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D Taylor
1978: Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
1979: The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin
1980: A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl's Journal, 1830-1832, by Joan W Blos
1981: Jacob Have I Loved, by Katherine Paterson
1982: A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers, by Nancy Willard
1983: Dicey's Song, by Cynthia Voigt
1984: Dear Mr Henshaw, by Beverly Cleary
1985: The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley
1986: Sarah, Plain and Tall, by Patricia MacLachlan
1987: The Whipping Boy, by Sid Fleischman
1988: Lincoln: A Photobiography, by Russell Freedman
1989: Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices, by Paul Fleischman
1990: Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry
1991: Maniac Magee, by Jerry Spinelli
1992: Shiloh, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
1993: Missing May, by Cynthia Rylant
1994: The Giver, by Lois Lowry
1995: Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech
1996: The Midwife's Apprentice, by Karen Cushman
1997: The View from Saturday, by E L Konigsburg
1998: Out of the Dust, by Karen Hesse
1999: Holes, by Louis Sachar
2000: Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis
2001: A Year Down Yonder, by Richard Peck
2002: A Single Shard, by Linda Sue Park
2003: Crispin: The Cross of Lead, by Avi
2004: The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread, by Kate DiCamillo
2005: Kira-Kira, by Cynthia Kadohata
2006: Criss Cross, by Lynne Rae Perkins
2007: The Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan Patron, illustrated by Matt Phelan
2008: Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village, by Laura Amy Schlitz
2009: The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman

So the count is now 75 down, 13 to go. Fortunately, the Groton library has most of the remaining books, and the other two libraries (Waterford and Mystic/Noank) in our library system have three of the others; Daniel Boone is the only one I'll have to ILL.

Of the five I read this quarter, I definitely enjoyed The Graveyard Book the most.