30 May 2010

Victoria Cross: R. H. Middleton


Flight Sergeant, Royal Australian Air Force; 149 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Born: 22 July 1916, Waverley, New South Wales, Australia
Died: 29 November 1942, English Channel

Citation: Flight Sergeant Middleton was captain and first pilot of a Stirling aircraft detailed to attack the Fiat Works in Turin one night in November, 1942. Great difficulty was experienced in climbing to 12,ooo feet to cross the Alps, which led to excessive consumption of fuel. So dark was the night that the mountain peaks were almost invisible.
During the crossing Flight Sergeant Middleton had to decide whether to proceed or turn back, there being barely sufficient fuel for the return journey. Flares were sighted ahead and he continued the mission and even dived to 2,000 feet to identify the target, despite the difficulty of regaining height. Three flights were made over Turin at this low altitude before the target was identified. The aircraft was then subjected to fire from light anti-aircraft guns.
A large hole appeared in the port main plane which made it difficult to maintain lateral control. A shell then burst in the cockpit, shattering the windscreen and wounding both pilots. A piece of shell splinter tore into the side of Flight Sergeant Middleton's face, destroying his right eye and exposing the bone over the eye. He was probably wounded also in the body or legs. The second pilot received wounds in the head and both legs which bled profusely. The wireless operator was also wounded in the leg.
Flight Sergeant Middleton became unconscious and the aircraft dived to 800 feet before control was regained by the second pilot, who took the aircraft up to 1500 feet and released the bombs. There was still light flak, some very intense, and the aircraft was hit many times. The three gunners replied continuously until the rear target was put out of action.
Flight Sergeant Middleton had now regained consciousness and, when clear of the target, ordered the second pilot back to receive first aid. Before this was completed the latter insisted on returning to the cockpit, as the captain could see very little and could only speak with loss of blood and great pain.
Course was set for base and the crew now faced an Alpine crossing and a homeward flight in a damaged aircraft with insufficient fuel. The possibilities of abandoning the aircraft or landing in Northern France were discussed but Flight Sergeant Middleton expressed the intention of trying to make the English coast, so that his crew could leave the aircraft by parachute. Owing to his wounds and diminishing strength, he knew that, by then, he would have little or no chance of saving himself. After four hours, the French coast was reached and here the aircraft, flying at 6,000 feet, was once more engaged and hit by intense light anti-aircraft fire. Flight Sergeant Middleton was still at the controls and mustered sufficient strength to take evasive action.
After crossing the channel there was only sufficient fuel for 5 minutes flying. Flight Sergeant Middleton ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft while he flew parallel with the coast for a few miles, after which he intended to head out to sea. Five of the crew left the aircraft safely, while two remained to assist Flight Sergeant Middleton. The aircraft crashed in the sea and the bodies of the front gunner and flight engineer were recovered the following day. Their gallant captain was apparently unable to leave the aircraft and his body has not been traced.
Flight Sergeant Middleton was determined to attack the target regardless of the consequences and not to allow his crew to fall into enemy hands. While all the crew displayed heroism of a high order, the urge to do so came from Flight Sergeant Middleton, whose fortitude and strength of will made possible the completion of the mission. His devotion to duty in the face of overwhelming odds is unsurpassed in the annals of the Royal Air Force.

(London Gazette Issue 35864 dated 15 Jan 1943, published 12 Jan 1943.)

Medal of Honor: F. Stowers


Corporal, US Army; Company C, 371st Infantry Regiment, 93d Division

Born: 1896, Sandy Springs, South Carolina
Died: 28 September 1918, near Ardeuil, France

Citation: Corporal Stowers, distinguished himself by exceptional heroism on 28 September 1918 while serving as a squad leader in Company C, 371st Infantry Regiment, 93d Division. His company was the lead company during the attack on Hill 188, Champagne Marne Sector, France, during World War I. A few minutes after the attack began, the enemy ceased firing and began climbing up onto the parapets of the trenches, holding up their arms as if wishing to surrender. The enemy's actions caused the American forces to cease fire and to come out into the open. As the company started forward and when within about 100 meters of the trench line, the enemy jumped back into their trenches and greeted Corporal Stowers' company with interlocking bands of machine gun fire and mortar fire causing well over fifty percent casualties. Faced with incredible enemy resistance, Corporal Stowers took charge, setting such a courageous example of personal bravery and leadership that he inspired his men to follow him in the attack. With extraordinary heroism and complete disregard of personal danger under devastating fire, he crawled forward leading his squad toward an enemy machine gun nest, which was causing heavy casualties to his company. After fierce fighting, the machine gun position was destroyed and the enemy soldiers were killed. Displaying great courage and intrepidity Corporal Stowers continued to press the attack against a determined enemy. While crawling forward and urging his men to continue the attack on a second trench line, he was gravely wounded by machine gun fire. Although Corporal Stowers was mortally wounded, he pressed forward, urging on the members of his squad, until he died. Inspired by the heroism and display of bravery of Corporal Stowers, his company continued the attack against incredible odds, contributing to the capture of Hill 188 and causing heavy enemy casualties. Corporal Stowers' conspicuous gallantry, extraordinary heroism, and supreme devotion to his men were well above and beyond the call of duty, follow the finest traditions of military service, and reflect the utmost credit on him and the United States Army.

Note: The medal was presented to Stowers' surviving sisters, Georgina Palmer and Mary Bowens, on 24 April 1991 by President George H W Bush.

26 May 2010

RIP: Art Linkletter

Arthur Gordon Linkletter
17 Jul 1912 - 26 May 2010

ZUI this article from the New York Times:
Art Linkletter, the genial host who parlayed his talent for the ad-libbed interview into two of television’s longest-running shows, “People Are Funny” and “House Party,” in the 1950s and 1960s, died on Wednesday at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was 97.

The death was confirmed by Art Hershey, a son-in-law.

From his early days as an announcer on local radio and a roving broadcaster at state fairs, Mr. Linkletter showed a talent for ingratiating himself with his subjects and getting them to open up, often with hilarious results.

He was particularly adept at putting small children at ease, which he did every day on a special segment of “House Party,” a reliably amusing question-and-answer session that provided the material for his best-selling book, “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”


Gordon Arthur Kelly was born on July 17, 1912, in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Before he was a month old, he was abandoned by his parents and adopted by Fulton John and Mary Metzler Linkletter, a middle-age couple whose two children had died.


With John Guedel, who would go on to create the quiz show “You Bet Your Life” and the comedy “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” Mr. Linkletter made an audition tape for an audience-participation show, with contests and gags, that would rely on his ability to ad-lib and coax humorous material from virtually anyone. Mr. Guedel came up with the name “People Are Funny,” and NBC put it on the air in 1942. Enormously popular, it ran on radio until 1960. The television version, which made its debut in 1954, ran until 1961.

Working without a script, Mr. Linkletter sent audience volunteers on silly assignments outside the studio with instructions to report back on their experience. One man was handed a $1,000 bill and told to buy chewing gum. Another was given $15,000 to invest in the stock market. Mr. Linkletter mingled with the audience, asking questions, setting up gags and handing out prizes like a yard of hot dogs or five feet of dollar bills.

On one show, Mr. Linkletter spotted a woman’s enormous purse and began rummaging through it, announcing each item in turn: a can opener, a can of snuff, a losing racetrack ticket and a photograph of Herbert Hoover. The handbag bit became a staple of the show. More ingeniously, Mr. Linkletter set a dozen balls adrift in the Pacific, announcing a $1,000 prize for the first person to find one. Two years later, a resident of the Marshall Islands claimed the money.

“House Party,” which ran five days a week on radio from 1945 to 1967 and on television from 1952 to 1969, was a looser version of “People Are Funny,” with beauty tips and cooking demonstrations filling time between Mr. Linkletter’s audience-chatter sessions. The highlight of the show was a segment in which five schoolchildren between the ages of 5 and 10 sat down to be interviewed by Mr. Linkletter, who sat at eye level with his little subjects and, time and time again, made their parents wish television had never been invented.

Wow - hadn't realised he was still alive! I used to watch House Party whenever I got the chance, especially the bit with the kids. (He wrote a couple books based on those interviews - one actually seems to be back in print, and Amazon also carries a couple of DVDs from the shows.)

23 May 2010

Victoria Cross: H. Tombs and J. Hills


Lieutenant-Colonel, Bengal Artillery

Born: 10 November 1825, Calcutta, India
Died: 2 August 1874, Newport, Isle of Wight


Lieutenant, Bengal Artillery

Born: 20 August 1833, Neechindipur, Bengal, India
Died: 3 January 1919, Dolaucothi, Carmarthenshire

Joint Citation: For very gallant conduct on the part of Lieutenant Hills before Delhi [on the 9th July, 1857], in defending the position assigned to him in case of alarm, and for noble behaviour on the part of Lieutenant-Colonel Tombs in twice coming to his subaltern's rescue, and on each occasion killing his man.
(See despatch of Lieutenant-Colonel Mackenzie, Commanding 1st Brigade Horse Artillery, dated Camp, near Delhi, 10th July, 1857, published in the Supplement to the London Gazette of the 16th January, 1858.)

[London Gazette issue 22131 dated 27 Apr 1858, published 27 Apr 1858.]

Lieutenant Hill's medals

Note: Lt Hills (later Lt Gen Sir James Hills-Johnes VC GCB) was the brother-in-law of Col William G Cubitt VC DSO.

Medal of Honor: R. C. Berkeley and G. C. Reid


Major, US Marine Corps; commanding 1st Battalion, 2d Advanced Base Regiment

Born: 9 January 1875, Staunton, Virginia
Died: 31 January 1960, Beaufort, South Carolina

Citation: For distinguished conduct in battle, engagements of Vera Cruz, 21 and 22 April 1914. Maj. Berkeley was eminent and conspicuous in command of his battalion; was in the fighting of both days, and exhibited courage and skill in leading his men through action. His cool judgment and courage, and his skill in handling his men in encountering and overcoming the machinegun and rifle fire down Cinco de Mayo and parallel streets account for the small percentage of the losses of marines under his command.


Major, US Marine Corps

Born: 9 December 1876, Lorain, Ohio
Died: 19 February 1961, Harlingen Air Force Base, Texas

Citation: For distinguished conduct in battle, engagements of Vera Cruz, 21 and 22 April 1914; was eminent and conspicuous in command of his battalion; was in the fighting of both days and exhibited courage and skill in leading his men through action. His cool judgment and courage and his skill in handling his men in encountering and overcoming the machinegun and rifle fire down Cinco de Mayo and parallel streets account for the small percentage of the losses of marines under his command.

Note: USS Berkeley (DDG 15) was named in honor of Major General Berkeley.

16 May 2010

Victoria Cross: A. R. Cutler


Lieutenant, 2/5 Australian Field Regiment, Australian Military Forces

Born: 24 May 1916, Manly, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Died: 21 February 2002, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Citation: For most conspicuous and sustained gallantry during the Syrian Campaign and for outstanding bravery during the bitter fighting at Merdjayoun when this artillery officer became a byword amongst the forward troops with whom he worked.
At Merdjayoun on the 19th June, 1941 our infantry attack was checked after suffering heavy casualties from an enemy counter attack with tanks. Enemy machine gun fire swept the ground but Lieutenant Cutler with another artillery officer and a small party pushed on ahead of the infantry and established an outpost in a house. The telephone line was cut and he went out and mended this line under machine gun fire and returned to the house, from which enemy posts and a battery were successfully engaged.
The enemy then attacked this outpost with infantry and tanks, killing the Bren gunner and mortally wounding the other officer. Lieutenant Cutler and another manned the anti-tank rifle and Bren gun and fought back driving the enemy infantry away. The tanks continued the attack, but under constant fire from the anti-tank rifle and Bren gun eventually withdrew. Lieutenant Cutler then personally supervised the evacuation of the wounded members of his party. Undaunted he pressed for a further advance. He had been ordered to establish an outpost from which he could register the only road by which the enemy transport could enter the town. With a small party of volunteers he pressed on until finally with one other he succeeded in establishing an outpost right in the town, which was occupied by the Foreign Legion, despite enemy machine gun fire which prevented our infantry from advancing.
At this time Lieutenant Cutler knew the enemy were massing on his left for a counter attack and that he was in danger of being cut off. Nevertheless he carried out his task of registering the battery on the road and engaging enemy posts. The enemy counter attacked with infantry and tanks and he was cut off. He was forced to go to ground, but after dark succeeded in making his way through the enemy lines. His work in registering the only road by which enemy transport could enter the town was of vital importance and a big factor in the enemy's subsequent retreat.
On the night of the 23rd-24th June he was in charge of a 25-pounder sent forward into our forward defended localities to silence an enemy anti-tank gun and post which had held up our attack. This he did and next morning the recapture of Merdjayoun was completed.
Later at Damour on the 6th July when our forward infantry were pinned to the ground by heavy hostile machine gun fire Lieutenant Cutler, regardless of all danger, went to bring a line to his outpost when he was seriously wounded. Twenty-six hours elapsed before it was possible to rescue this officer, whose wound by this time had become septic necessitating the amputation of his leg.
Throughout the Campaign this officer's courage was unparalleled and his work was a big factor in the recapture of Merdjayoun.

[London Gazette Issue 35360 dated 28 Nov 1941, published 25 Nov 1941.]

Medal of Honor: J. Allen


Private, Company F, 16th New York Infantry

Born: 6 May 1843, Ireland
Died: 31 August 1913, Minnesota(?)

Citation: Single-handed and slightly wounded he accosted a squad of 14 Confederate soldiers bearing the colors of the 16th Georgia Infantry (C.S.A.) [at South Mountain, Maryland, on 14 September 1862]. By an imaginary ruse he secured their surrender and kept them at bay when the regimental commander discovered him and rode away for assistance.

14 May 2010


Our neighbourhood always has a couple of stray (or semi-stray) cats wandering around. When we first moved in, back in the summer of '03, one of them was a grey male. He was a very friendly cat, even permitting our daughters - who at the time were eight and five - to pet him. As autumn drew past, however, we noticed that he was sneezing a lot, so my wife scooped him up one day and took him to the vet. There didn't seem to be anything wrong, though, so we assumed it was just allergies.

And, since it was starting to cool off at night, we let him move in with us. Officially his name is Sextus, but because of the allergies he's also known as Sneezlepuss, or Snarflepuss, or even The Incredible Sneezing Cat. The vet's estimate at the time was that he was seven to nine years old, thus making him around 14 or 15 now. He's gotten a little hard of hearing over the last couple years, and he seems to have problems with arthritis - bumping his right foreleg in particular can lead to a nip.

And then I noticed the other day that his pupils were both fully dilated - almost perfect circles, with just a thin rim of iris visible around them. And it wasn't particularly dark in that room. So I carried him into the bedroom, which was better lighted, and his pupils didn't change. Even when he looked directly at the lamp. Wife took him to the vet yesterday, and as we suspected, he's now blind. So he spends most of his time in the upstairs loo, where he doesn't have far to go to find his supper dish and litter box, though of course we take him out to spend some quality time with us each day.

10 May 2010

Frisco, 1906

This film was taken by a camera attached to the front of a San Francisco cable car, supposedly just four days before the 1906 earthquake. Pretty interesting....

09 May 2010

Victoria Cross: J. F. P. Butler


Lieutenant, The King's Royal Rifle Corps; attached Pioneer Company, Gold Coast Regiment, West African Field Force.

Born: 20 December 1888, Berkeley, Gloucestershire
Died: 5 September 1916, Matombo, German East Africa

Citation: For most conspicuous bravery in the Cameroons, West Africa.
On 17th November, 1914, with a party of 13 men, he went into the thick bush and at once attacked the enemy, in strength about 100, including several Europeans, defeated them, and captured their machine-gun and many loads of ammunition.
On 27th December, 1914, when on patrol duty, with a few men, he swam the Ekam River, which was held by the enemy, alone and in the face of a brisk fire, completed his reconnaissance on the further bank, and returned in safety. Two of his men were wounded while he was actually in the water.

(London Gazette Issue 29272 dated 23 Aug 1915, published 20 Aug 1915.)

Note: He was the nephew of Lieutenant Lord Gifford VC, 24th Foot, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during the Ashanti Campaign of 1873-74.

From 1884 to 1916, Cameroon was the German colony of Kamerun. Butler was part of a force which invaded from the neighbouring British colony of Nigeria.

German East Africa, known later as Tanganyika, is now part of Tanzania. Matombo is in the northeastern part of the country, near Tanga.

Medal of Honor: O. V. Peterson


Chief Watertender, US Navy; USS Neosho (AO 23)

Born: 27 August 1899, Prentice, Wisconsin
Died: 13 May 1942, Coral Sea

Citation: For extraordinary courage and conspicuous heroism above and beyond the call of duty while in charge of a repair party during an attack on the U .S .S. Neosho by enemy Japanese aerial forces on 7 May 1942. Lacking assistance because of injuries to the other members of his repair party and severely wounded himself, Peterson, with no concern for his own life, closed the bulkhead stop valves and in so doing received additional burns which resulted in his death. His spirit of self-sacrifice and loyalty, characteristic of a fine seaman, was in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.

Note: USS Peterson (DE 152) was named in his honour.

06 May 2010

47 1/2

This came from Bloomabilities by way of Big A little a. I originally posted it on 15 Nov 06, with a score of only 33, but since then I've read all of the Newbery Medal winners, and started on the Carnegie winners. So....

Instructions: T.S. found this list of the 100 best children's book on the National Education Association's page (from 1999, I think). Mark the selections you have read in bold. If you liked it, add a star (*) in front of the title, if you didn't, give it a minus (-). Then, put the total number of books you've read in the subject line.

(Alvina also added a question mark (?) to indicate indifference or mixed feelings.)

Charlotte's Web - E. B. White
The Polar Express - Chris Van Allsburg
* Green Eggs and Ham - Dr. Seuss
The Cat in the Hat - Dr. Seuss
Where the Wild Things Are - Maurice Sendak
Love You Forever - Robert N. Munsch
The Giving Tree - Shel Silverstein
The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Eric Carle
Where the Red Fern Grows - Wilson Rawls
* The Mitten - Jan Brett
Goodnight Moon - Margaret Wise Brown
Hatchet - Gary Paulsen
* The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C. S. Lewis
Where the Sidewalk Ends: the Poems and Drawing of Shel Silverstein - Shel Silverstein
Bridge to Terabithia - Katherine Paterson
Stellaluna - Janell Cannon
Oh, The Places You'll Go - Dr. Seuss
Strega Nona - Tomie De Paola
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day - Judith Viorst
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? - Bill Martin, Jr.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
The Velveteen Rabbit - Margery Williams
- A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle
Shiloh - Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
How the Grinch Stole Christmas - Dr. Seuss
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs - Jon Scieszka
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom - John Archambault
Little House on the Prarie - Laura Ingalls Wilder (started it once, but never finished it)
The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
* The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh - A. A. Milne
The Boxcar Children - Gertrude Chandler Warner
Sarah, Plain and Tall - Patricia MacLachlan
Indian in the Cupboard - Lynne Reid Banks
Island of the Blue Dolphins - Scott O'Dell
* Maniac Magee - Jerry Spinelli
The BFG - Roald Dahl
- The Giver - Lois Lowry
* If You Give a Mouse a Cookie - Laura Joffe Numeroff
James and the Giant Peach - Roald Dahl (can't remember if I've read this one or not)
Little House in the Big Woods - Laura Ingalls Wilder
* Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry - Mildred D. Taylor
* The Hobbit - J. R. R. Tolkien
The Lorax - Dr. Seuss
Stone Fox - John Reynolds Gardiner
* Number the Stars - Lois Lowry
Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH - Robert C. O'Brien
Little Women - Louisa May Alcott (I liked the sequels better)
The Rainbow Fish - Marcus Pfister
Amazing Grace - Mary Hoffman
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever - Barbara Robinson
Corduroy - Don Freeman
Jumanji - Chris Van Allsburg
Math Curse - Jon Scieszka
Matilda - Roald Dahl
Summer of the Monkeys - Wilson Rawls
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing - Judy Blume
Ramona Quimby, Age 8 - Beverly Cleary (I've read the Henry Huggins books, where Ramona and her sister started out, but only a couple of the Ramona stories)
The Trumpet of the Swan - E. B. White
Are You My Mother? - Philip D. Eastman
* The Chronicles of Narnia - C S Lewis (redundancy alert - we've already had the first book from this series on this list. I've read all seven of them several times each)
Make Way for Ducklings - Robert McCloskey
One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish - Dr Seuss
- The Phantom Tollbooth - Norton Juster
The Snowy Day - Ezra Jack Keats
The Napping House - Audrey Wood
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble - William Steig
The Tale of Peter Rabbit - Beatrix Potter
Tuck Everlasting - Natalie Babbitt
The Wizard of Oz - L Frank Baum
Anne of Green Gables - Lucy Maud Montgomery (I'm in the process of reading this one now....)
Horton Hatches the Egg - Dr. Seuss
* Basil of Baker Street - Eve Titus
The Little Engine That Could - Watty Piper
The Cay - Theodore Taylor
* Curious George - Hans Augusto Rey
Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge - Mem Fox
Arthur series - Marc Tolon Brown
The Great Gilly Hopkins - Katherine Paterson
Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse - Kevin Henkes
Little House books - Laura Ingalls Wilder (redundancy again - we've already been asked about two of these)
The Little House - Virginia Lee Burton
The Runaway Bunny - Margaret Wise Brown
Sideways Stories from Wayside School - Louis Sachar
Amelia Bedelia - Peggy Parish
Harriet the Spy - Louise Fitzhugh
A Light in the Attic - Shel Silverstein
Mr Popper's Penguins - Richard Atwater
My Father's Dragon - Ruth Stiles Gannett
* Stuart Little - E. B. White
* Walk Two Moons - Sharon Creech
The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Elizabeth George Speare
The Art Lesson - Tomie De Paola
Caps for Sale - Esphyr Slobodkina
Clifford, the Big Red Dog - Norman Bridwell
Heidi - Johanna Spyri
Horton Hears a Who - Dr. Seuss
The Sign of the Beaver - Elizabeth George Speare
The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 - Christopher Paul Curtis
Guess How Much I Love You - Sam McBratney
The Paper Bag Princess - Robert N. Munsch

A lot of these books didn't exist when I was a kid, and even some of the ones that were around then didn't get read until later - I don't remember reading Goodnight Moon, for instance, until I was in my 40s and had a kid of my own. And there are even books I've never heard of on this list.

(By way of contrast, Kelly has read 83 of these, Alvina has read 86, and Fusenumber8 has read 85. But I was reading ERB at ten, Alasdair MacLean at twelve, and Heinlein at thirteen. Not a lot of kids' books there....)

04 May 2010

RIP: Kama Chinen

Kama Chinen
10 May 1895 - 2 May 2010

The world's oldest person has died, eight days before her 115th birthday. ZUI this article from The Telegraph:
A Japanese woman believed to be the oldest person in the world has died just days before her 115th birthday.

Kama Chinen, from Okinawa in southern Japan passed away at the age of 114 years and 356 days old.


Eugenie Blanchard, a French resident on the Caribbean island St Barthelemy assumed the title of world's oldest person at the age of 114 years and 75 days following the death of Chinen, according to the [Gerontology Research Group].

ZUI also this article from ABC News.

She is the third supercentenarian listed by the Gerontology Research Group (GRG) to die since the death of Neva Morris on 6 April; the other two were Bernardina Van Dommelen (15 Mar 1899-16 Apr 2010) and Gabrielle Demets (26 Aug 1899-1 May 2010), both of Belgium.

The GRG's list of validated living supercentenarians (people who have reached their 110th birthday) currently includes 75 people (3 men and 72 women), ranging from Mlle Blanchard (born 16 Feb 1896) to Shike Sato of Japan (born 16 Mar 1900). 21 of them, including one of the men, live in Japan.

02 May 2010

Victoria Cross: H. M. Ervine-Andrews


Lieutenant (acting Captain), The East Lancashire Regiment

Born: 29 July 1911, Keadue, County Cavan, Ireland
Died: 30 March 1995, Gorran, Cornwall

Citation: For most conspicuous gallantry on active service on the night of the 31st May/1st June, 1940. Captain Ervine-Andrews took over about a thousand yards of the defences in front of Dunkirk, his line extending along the Canal de Bergues, and the enemy attacked at dawn. For over ten hours, notwithstanding intense artillery, mortar, and machine-gun fire, and in the face of vastly superior enemy forces, Captain Ervine-Andrews and his company held their position.
The enemy, however, succeeded in crossing the canal on both flanks; and, owing to superior enemy forces, a company of Captain Ervine-Andrews's own battalion, which was despatched to protect his flanks, was unable to gain contact with him. There being danger of one of his platoons being driven in, he called for volunteers to fill the gap, and then, going forward, climbed on to the top of a straw-roofed barn, from which he engaged the enemy with rifle and light automatic fire, though, at the time, the enemy were sending mortar-bombs and armour-piercing bullets through the roof.
Captain Ervine-Andrews personally accounted for seventeen of the enemy with his rifle, and for many more with a Bren gun. Later, when the house which he held had been shattered by enemy fire and set alight, and all his ammunition had been expended, he sent back his wounded in the remaining carrier. Captain Ervine-Andrews then collected the remaining eight men of his company from this forward position, and, when almost completely surrounded, led them back to the cover afforded by the company in the rear, swimming or wading up to the chin in water for over a mile; having brought all that remained of his company safely back, he once again took up position.
Throughout this action, Captain Ervine-Andrews displayed courage, tenacity, and devotion to duty, worthy of the highest traditions of the British Army, and his magnificent example imbued his own troops with the dauntless fighting spirit which he himself displayed.

[London Gazette issue 34909 dtd 30 Jul 1940, published 26 Jul 1940]

Medal of Honor: W. E. Truemper and A. Mathies


Second Lieutenant, US Army Air Corps; 510th Bomber Squadron, 351st Bomber Group

Born: 31 October 1918, Aurora, Illinois
Died: 20 February 1944, Europe

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy in connection with a bombing mission over enemy-occupied Europe on 20 February 1944. The aircraft on which 2d Lt. Truemper was serving as navigator was attacked by a squadron of enemy fighters with the result that the copilot was killed outright, the pilot wounded and rendered unconscious, the radio operator wounded and the plane severely damaged Nevertheless, 2d Lt. Truemper and other members of the crew managed to right the plane and fly it back to their home station, where they contacted the control tower and reported the situation. 2d Lt. Truemper and the engineer volunteered to attempt to land the plane. Other members of the crew were ordered to jump, leaving 2d Lt. Truemper and the engineer aboard. After observing the distressed aircraft from another plane, 2d Lt. Truemper's commanding officer decided the damaged plane could not be landed by the inexperienced crew and ordered them to abandon it and parachute to safety. Demonstrating unsurpassed courage and heroism, 2d Lt. Truemper and the engineer replied that the pilot was still alive but could not be moved and that they would not desert him. They were then told to attempt a landing. After 2 unsuccessful efforts their plane crashed into an open field in a third attempt to land. 2d Lt. Truemper, the engineer, and the wounded pilot were killed.


Sergeant, US Army Air Corps; 510th Bomber Squadron, 351st Bomber Group

Born: 3 June 1918, Stonehouse, South Lanarkshire, Scotland
Died: 20 February 1944, Europe

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy in connection with a bombing mission over enemy-occupied Europe on 20 February 1944. The aircraft on which Sgt. Mathies was serving as engineer and ball turret gunner was attacked by a squadron of enemy fighters with the result that the copilot was killed outright, the pilot wounded and rendered unconscious, the radio operator wounded and the plane severely damaged. Nevertheless, Sgt. Mathies and other members of the crew managed to right the plane and fly it back to their home station, where they contacted the control tower and reported the situation. Sgt. Mathies and the navigator volunteered to attempt to land the plane. Other members of the crew were ordered to jump, leaving Sgt. Mathies and the navigator aboard. After observing the distressed aircraft from another plane, Sgt. Mathies' commanding officer decided the damaged plane could not be landed by the inexperienced crew and ordered them to abandon it and parachute to safety. Demonstrating unsurpassed courage and heroism, Sgt. Mathies and the navigator replied that the pilot was still alive but could not be moved and they would not desert him. They were then told to attempt a landing. After two unsuccessful efforts, the plane crashed into an open field in a third attempt to land. Sgt. Mathies, the navigator, and the wounded pilot were killed.

01 May 2010

Book list - Apr 10

The Radium Woman - children's biography, by Eleanor Doorly (Carnegie Medal, 1939)
A Northern Light (aka A Gathering Light) - YA historical fiction, by Jennifer Donnelly (Carnegie Medal, 2003)
Blood Rites - modern fantasy, by Jim Butcher
To Serve My Country, to Serve My Race: The Story of the Only African American WACs Stationed Overseas During World War II - WW II, by Brenda L Moore
Small Favor - modern fantasy, by Jim Butcher *
Visitors from London - children's WWII fiction, by Kitty Barne (Carnegie Medal, 1940)
Storm Front - modern fantasy, by Jim Butcher *
The Wind on the Moon - children's, by Eric Linklater (Carnegie Medal, 1944)
The Story of Your Home - children's non-fiction, by Agnes Allen (Carnegie Medal, 1949)
The Little Grey Men - children's, by "BB" (D J Watkins-Pitchford) (Carnegie Medal, 1942)
The Returners - YA, by Gemma Malley
The 13th Floor: A Ghost Story - children's time travel, by Sid Fleischman
The Night Fairy - children's, by Laura Amy Schlitz
The Importance of Wings - YA, by Robin Friedman
Clementine - children's, by Sara Pennypacker
Sea Change - children's, by Richard Armstrong (Carnegie Medal, 1948)
Time Travelers Never Die - time travel, by Jack McDevitt
Capyboppy - children's non-fiction, by Bill Peet *

18 books last month, with three rereads (marked by asterisks). To reach my goal of 210 books this year, I have to average 17.5 per month, so I'm currently still a little ahead of track.

The seven Carnegie Medal winners bring me up to 35 of 70 - halfway there! My thanks to the Wamogo Library, Litchfield CT; the San Jose College Library, San Jose CA; the Licia and Mason Beekley Community Library, New Hartford CT; the Penfield Libary, SUNY Oswego; the Mark Twain Library, Redding CT; and the Boston Athenaeum for the ILLs.