31 December 2011


The 2012 New Year Honours List has been released, and I see:

Order of the British Empire - Dames Commander of the Order of the British Empire

Penelope Margaret, Mrs LIVELY, CBE
Author. For services to Literature.
(London, N1)

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

Actor. For services to Drama.
(London, NW3)

Order of the British Empire - Officers of the Order of the British Empire

Dr Maggie Mary GEE
Author. For services to Literature.
(London, NW10)

Order of the British Empire - Members of the Order of the British Empire

Geoffrey Thomas Leslie ASHE
Historian. For services to Heritage.
(Glastonbury, Somerset

Illustrator. For services to Children's Literature.

Dame Penelope received the Carnegie Medal for her novel The Ghost of Thomas Kempe (1973), and also the Man Booker Prize for Moon Tiger (1987). Helena Bonham Carter has a long list of credits, beginning in 1983; I know her as Bellatrix Lestrange in the last four Harry Potter films. Don't think I'd ever heard of Maggie Gee, but some of her books look interesting; I'll be looking for them at the library. Geoffrey Ashe has written several books delving into the possible real history behind the King Arthur legends. Alex Brychta did the illustrations for the Magic Key series, used in many British schools to teach reading.

And congratulations to Chief Petty Officer Coxswain (Submarines) Martin Farr MBE, listed in the Defence New Year's Honours List for 2012.

28 December 2011

The King William's College quiz

Here, a few days late, is the 2011 edition of the General Knowledge Paper:

1. In the year 1911:
1 What disaster befell the Asch Building?
2 What was removed from the Salon Carré?
3 Whose stencilled letters included A, B, C, D, O & L?
4 Where were the twin clocks started at George's crowning moment?
5 Who wrote of a multitalented peer and the Warden's grand-daughter?
6 Who explained how the squaws caused pallor in the Jesuit preachers?
7 Who shot to fame during a performance of The Tale of Tsar Saltan?
8 Who took pole position ahead of British opposition?
9 Who silently portrayed Marguerite Gauthier?
10 Who agreed to receive £400 per annum?

1 Who designed forty-four maps for a 120m long corridor?
2 In which map is a cross-legged Caesar Augustus wearing the triregnum?
3 Whose original map of old Gwynedd shows Neptune embracing a naked lady?
4 Who first used continuous and broken lines to indicate fenced and unfenced roads?
5 Whose map can be seen in different paintings by the Delft master in the Rijksmuseum and the Frick Collection?
6 Whose map of the British Isles was decorated with portraits of post-conquest monarchs up to and including James I and Anne of Denmark?
7 Who placed an ostrich and an elephant on the map he presented to Selim I?
8 Which OS competitors included a vignette of Appleby among their county maps?
9 Whose name was adopted for a cartographic museum in the Land de Waas?
10 Who made a presentation of a giant atlas to the king on his restoration?

1 Who found a cut above in coping with melancholy?
2 Which of Bolingbroke's nephews was the celebrated patron of early exploration?
3 Who wrote about a harpsichordist and a pioneer aviator and won gold in Stockholm?
4 Who, by virtue of his marriage, was required to expel all Jews who failed to convert to "New Christians"?
5 Who allied his army with that of the deposed Sultan, but died in his attempt to conquer the Moorish infidels?
6 Which theologian, although numerically misplaced, was an authority on both ophthalmology and gynaecology?
7 Who had the captain of the Concepción decapitated, then drawn and quartered, for mutiny at Puerto San Julian?
8 Whose support of Pedro in his tussle with his brother necessitated escape in a wine barrel?
9 Who, as queen dowager of one country, became regent in the country of her birth?
10 Who disobeyed his prime minister and surrendered on 19 December?

4. Which tale or tales:
1 is all about Hester's badge of shame?
2 investigates the murder of Robert Ablett?
3 describes Lamb's problems in the Banda Orientál?
4 relates the heroic story of the survivor from Charybdis?
5 describes the criminal activities of Alex, Dim, Georgie and Pete?
6 describes a prize fight between the gamekeeper and the coxswain at the Dripping Pan?
7 considers the murder of an expat philanderer in East Africa?
8 tells of how Dick and the outlaw dress up as friars?
9 are set in the moorlands above Tweedsmuir?
10 reveals the ghost of a don at All Saints'?

5. What:
1 brings light?
2 is named for its inactivity?
3 has a malodorous tetroxide?
4 has a particularly frustrating resistance to corrosion?
5 Skärgård settlement has shared its name with four examples?
6 was named as the daughter of 4, but only shed its alternative name in 1949?
7 was alleged by some to be a pun on its discoverer's name?
8 sounds like some sort of hobgoblin?
9 was identified in Lochaber?
10 quite simply stinks?

6. What:
1 is a deadly oxymoron?
2 has insecticide properties?
3 could be a cheap form of confectionery?
4 grotesque body has achieved a girth of 64 inches?
5 two names, applied to a firelighter suggest muscle relaxation and recall kitchen negligence?
6 better known as one of Rainier's features, is the most common source of what favourite hallucinogen?
7 sinister form of headgear probably accounted for a Holy Roman Emperor?
8 parasite is nominally associated with Iscariot?
9 precious stone is deceitful?
10 is also a lamellibranch?

1 Where is Maddison's Golden Boy?
2 What was named, literally, Salt-pans by the Romans?
3 Where do a few surviving hedges keep alive our lost Elysium?
4 As what did an American president describe the Libyan dictator?
5 Where did close neighbours claim the invention of a device for observing at a distance?
6 Where can a little-changed double row of trees still be seen 322 years after its capture on canvas?
7 In which Study did Sir James, disappointingly, marry Celia instead of her sister?
8 What on first sight was thought to be a classically educated crotalid?
9 Whence did the Spitfires fly during The Battle of Britain?
10 Who dramatised a notorious cutter of purses?

8. What:
1 distinguishes armillata?
2 title was inaugurated before Agincourt?
3 else did he end apart from PM, CH and OM?
4 action did his inamorata take prior to the duet?
5 did fat-guts command that Harry should use to hang himself?
6 function was required of Bertha's garter during the trip from Mannheim to Pforzheim and back?
7 sartorial feature earned comment from Lear's Fool?
8 was dangling from Buckingham's death bed?
9 does make some obstruction of the blood?
10 might I have as a threat of punishment?

9. Where:
1 does the train stop in silence?
2 did Hilda extract a badly mauled shrimp?
3 is an execution remembered annually in October?
4 did the town nominally suffer episcopal deprivation?
5 was a village store opened which would become the world's largest?
6 did Sir John entrust his foundation to one of the Livery Companies?
7 is there a fully clothed life-sized wax effigy of Sarah?
8 did the doctor use an old bream as a weathercock?
9 did the bishopric exist for just nineteen years?
10 is there a statue to the corn deity?

1 Who took on three regencies?
2 Which consort outlived the King by 61 years?
3 Who steered behind the umbrella on Lake Maggiore?
4 Who received details of the School of Pain from her invalid cousin?
5 Whose love for one was like the foliage in the woods, but for the other resembled the eternal rocks beneath?
6 Whose love letter included the words "I wode you war wythe me now that you mouthe se wat pane I take yn wryteg to you"?
7 What request received the response "what, in the midst of the street?"?
8 Whose canine collection included items about clouds and sky?
9 Whose dancing is likened to a jelly on a plate?
10 Who recently excluded obedience?

11. Where:
1 is the aluminium Majestas?
2 has the gondola been suspended since 1906?
3 can the bells be heard ringing beneath the water?
4 where could 30 candles be lit across a flat stone?
5 was there a fatal derailment on the first day of service?
6 was the iron-work protected from corrosion with linseed oil and not, as Alice was told, with wine?
7 did the polyglot Victorian traveller try out his Arabic?
8 did Babs lie buried in the dunes for 42 years?
9 did Baldwin meet Rhys for the second time?
10 did the French surrender at the Royal Oak?

12. Unmask:
1 Rosa
2 Aymer
3 Reinmar
4 Clarence Donne
5 Alexander Thomson
6 Captain Theophilus Digby
7 Andrew Watson
8 James Smith
9 Newsom
10 Tuke

1 What were Uasini Maconoa
2 What mixture is favoured by the poacher?
3 Where did York and Suffolk have a bloody embrace?
4 What is the annual award for the best imaginary prose writer?
5 What heavenly body became synonymous with the abuse of Royal power?
6 Where did the little gentleman in black velvet cause a clavicular fracture?
7 Where were paired cast iron lighthouses erected on the beach?
8 Whose name was used by Lugard for a new coal outlet?
9 From where is it only a mile over the hill to Esnes?
10 What, where is juglandaceous?

1 What is viscivorus?
2 Who was the victim of Bowman Passer?
3 What name was given to 9903 and 2001?
4 What imposter combines engraulids with scrambled egg?
5 What alludes to two losses and uncertainty about the way forward?
6 Whose wife was likened by his friend to a white antelope from Snowdonia?
7 Who directed the disappearance of a spinster in Mandrika?
8 What operation cleared a Limburg geometrical feature?
9 Who got 4 in 4, 5 in 6, 6 in 9 and 7 in 11?
10 What characterises Jock Scott's cheeks?

15. Which character rhymed:
1 tussle and muscle?
2 knowledge, he and apology?
3 Chamberlain and moral stain?
4 kindred soul and sausage-roll?
5 everybody earns and income-tax returns?
6 wrote of Queen Anne and Sodor and Man?
7 Parliamentary hive and or Conservative?
8 been acuter and simple pewter?
9 lot o' news and hypotenuse?
10 Horace and Morris?

16. Which patriot of which country:
1 was eulogized by Harry
2 died at the hand of one who had started life as Ramachandra?
3 was declared innocent following a retrial 25 years after execution?
4 wrote about the execution of Gerhard and was murdered by the Gestapo?
5 anticipated Latimer and Ridley by 140 years and uttered in Latin "Holy Simplicity"?
6 founded a journal in London, which would have been translated as Thought and Action?
7 the son of a general and senator, shot the Governor General and then himself?
8 was hanged publicly 28 months after the start of the January Uprising?
9 was defrocked and later executed following betrayal by Elizondo?
10 was reburied 31 years after his secret execution?

1 Who started off as Nijntje?
2 Who played patty-cake with Acme?
3 Who was the tyrannical leader of the Efrafans?
4 As what did the Australian dog perceive the gentleman dancing on an ashpit?
5 Which swamp-dweller sustained auricular damage prior to rescue from the Black Serpent?
6 Whose marital violence led indirectly to the accidental drowning of his baby daughter Rebecca June?
7 What popular design was started by an Augustinian Canoness of the Lateran?
8 Who put on spectacles and was directed to begin at the beginning?
9 Who brewed very good ale for gentlemen?
10 What is essentially cheese on toast?

18. During 2011:
1 who looked a million dollars?
2 which white mouse has left the Star and Garter?
3 where did Kid Cassidy get over a very nasty shock?
4 which obdurate crustacean has very sadly had to call "Over"?
5 which sometime successor to Isaac Barrow found his position untenable?
6 where was it admitted that with the benefit of historical hindsight we can all see things which we would wish had been done differently, or not at all?
7 why will Col Reynolds and Lord Meldrum never be the same?
8 whose killing thrust heralded a monumental redundancy?
9 who crawled charitably through Bablock Hythe?
10 which head was axed at the Tower?

This time round, I know offhand (or think I do) the answers to four of the 180 questions....

25 December 2011

Victoria Cross: F. C. Elton


Brevet-Major, 55th Regiment

Born: 23 April 1832, Whitestaunton, Somerset
Died: 24 March 1888, London

Citation: For distinguished conduct on the night of the 4th August, 1855, when in command of a working party in the advanced trenches in front of the Quarries [at Sebastopol], in encouraging and inciting his men, by his example, to work under a dreadful fire; and, when there was some hesitation shown, in consequence of the severity of the fire, going into the open, and working with pick and shovel — thus showing the best possible example to the men. In the words of one of them, "There was not another Officer in the British Army who would have done what Major Elton did that night."
In the month of March, 1855, Major Elton volunteered, with a small party of men, to drive off a body of Russians who were destroying one of our new detached works, and succeeded in doing so, taking prisoner one of the enemy with his own hands. On the night of the 7th June, 1855, Major Elton was the first of his party to leave our trenches leading his men; when in the Quarries, he several times rallied his men around him.

[London Gazette issue 21971 dated 24 Feb 1857, published 24 Feb 1857.]

Medal of Honor: W. A. Shomo


Major, US Army Air Corps; commanding 82nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron

Born: 30 May 1918, Jeannette, Pennsylvania
Died: 25 June 1990, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Maj. Shomo was lead pilot of a flight of 2 [North American F-6D] fighter planes charged with an armed photographic and strafing mission against the Aparri and Laoag airdromes [on Luzon, Philippine Islands, on 11 January 1945]. While en route to the objective, he observed an enemy twin engine bomber, protected by 12 fighters, flying about 2,500 feet above him and in the opposite direction Although the odds were 13 to 2, Maj. Shomo immediately ordered an attack. Accompanied by his wingman he closed on the enemy formation in a climbing turn and scored hits on the leading plane of the third element, which exploded in midair. Maj. Shomo then attacked the second element from the left side of the formation and shot another fighter down in flames. When the enemy formed for Counterattack, Maj. Shomo moved to the other side of the formation and hit a third fighter which exploded and fell. Diving below the bomber he put a burst into its underside and it crashed and burned. Pulling up from this pass he encountered a fifth plane firing head on and destroyed it. He next dived upon the first element and shot down the lead plane; then diving to 300 feet in pursuit of another fighter he caught it with his initial burst and it crashed in flames. During this action his wingman had shot down 3 planes, while the 3 remaining enemy fighters had fled into a cloudbank and escaped. Maj. Shomo's extraordinary gallantry and intrepidity in attacking such a far superior force and destroying 7 enemy aircraft in one action is unparalleled in the southwest Pacific area.

Note: The North American F-6D was a P-51 Mustang fighter modified for photo-reconnaissance work.

18 December 2011

Victoria Cross: Netrabahadur Thapa


Jemadar (acting Subadar), 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles (Frontier Force)

Born: 8 January 1916, Rahu Village, Nepal
Died: 26 June 1944, Bishenpur, India

Citation: Subadar Netrabahadur Thapa was in command of the garrison of 41 men of the 2/5th Royal Gurkha Rifles (Frontier Force) which on the afternoon of 25th June, 1944, took over the isolated piquet known as Mortar Bluff situated on the hillside commanding the base at Bishenpur in Burma. The piquet position, completely devoid of any cover, was situated some 400 yards from the next piquet, from which it could be supported to some extent by 3 inch mortar fire, but was commanded by Water Piquet, a short distance away on high ground to the South, which had been over-run by strong enemy forces on the previous night and was still in enemy hands. Owing to its commanding position the retention of Mortar Bluff was vital to the safety of other positions farther down the ridge and to Bishenpur itself.
The relief had been harassed by enemy snipers at close range but was completed at 1830 hours without casualties. A little more than an hour later the enemy began to attack. For this purpose a 75 millimetre and a 37 millimetre gun were brought on up to the high ground overlooking the position and poured shell after shell at point blank range for ten minutes into the narrow confines of the piquet, and this was followed by a determined attack by not less than one company of Japanese. A fierce fight ensued in which Subadar Netrabahadur Thapa's men, exhorted by their leader, held their ground against heavy odds and drove the enemy back with disproportionate losses. During this time Subadar Netrabahadur Thapa with tireless energy and contempt for his own safety moved from post to post encouraging his young N.C.Os and riflemen, of which the garrison was largely composed, and tending the wounded.
A short lull followed during which Subadar Netrabahadur Thapa gave a clear and concise report on the telephone to his Commanding Officer and asked for more artillery defensive fire. Having done this he made preparations to meet the next onslaught which was not long in coming.
Under cover of the pitch dark night and torrential rain the enemy had moved round to the jungle from the cover of which they launched their next attack. Still in considerable strength and as determined and ferocious as ever the enemy poured out from the jungle across the short space of open ground to the piquet defences under cover of small arms and 37 millimetre gun fire from a flank. For a time our men held their ground until, as ill-luck would have it, both the L.M.G. and T.M.G. of one section jammed.
With much reduced fire-power the section were unable to hold on, and the enemy forced an entrance and over-ran this and another section, killing or wounding 12 out of the 16 men comprising the two sections. Having no reserve Subadar Netrabahadur Thapa himself went forward from his Headquarters and stemmed any further advance with grenades.
The situation was however critical. With more than half his men casualties, ammunition low, and the enemy in possession of part of his perimeter, Subadar Netrabahadur Thapa would have been justified in withdrawing, but in his next report to his Commanding Officer he stated that he intended holding on and asked for reinforcements and more ammunition.
So efficient were his plans for defence and such was the fine example of this gallant Gurkha officer that not a man moved from his trench and not a yard more ground was gained by the enemy, despite their desperate attempts.
Thus the night passed until at 0400 hours a section of 8 men with grenades and small arms ammunition arrived. Their arrival inevitably drew fire and all the 8 were soon casualties. Undismayed, however, Subadar Netrabahadur Thapa retrieved the ammunition and himself with his platoon Headquarters took the offensive armed with grenades and khukris. Whilst so doing he received a bullet wound in the mouth followed shortly afterwards by a grenade which killed him outright. His body was found next day, khukri in hand and a dead Japanese with a cleft skull by his side.
True to the traditions of the service and his race Subadar Netrabahadur Thapa had fought against overwhelming odds for 8 hours before he was killed. His fine example of personal bravery and his high sense of duty so inspired his men that a vital position was held to the limit of human endurance.
His valour and devotion to duty will remain an epic in the history of the Regiment.

[London Gazette issue 36742 dated 12 Oct 1944, published 10 Oct 1944.]

Note: Jemadar was an Indian Army rank equivalent to a British warrant officer. A Subadar was the equivalent of a lieutenant.
Bishenpur (or Bishnupur) is in the Indian state of Manipur, near the Burmese border.

Medal of Honor: M. J. Estocin


Captain (then Lieutenant Commander), US Navy; Attack Squadron 192, USS Ticonderoga (CVA 14)

Born: 27 April 1931, Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania
Died: 26 April 1967, near Haiphong, North Vietnam

Citation. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 20 and 26 April 1967 as a pilot in Attack Squadron 192, embarked in USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14). Leading a 3-plane group of aircraft in support of a coordinated strike against two thermal power plants in Haiphong, North Vietnam, on 20 April 1967, Capt. Estocin provided continuous warnings to the strike group leaders of the surface-to-air missile (SAM) threats, and personally neutralized 3 SAM sites. Although his aircraft was severely damaged by an exploding missile, he reentered the target area and relentlessly prosecuted a SHRIKE attack in the face of intense antiaircraft fire. With less than 5 minutes of fuel remaining he departed the target area and commenced in-flight refueling which continued for over 100 miles. Three miles aft of Ticonderoga, and without enough fuel for a second approach, he disengaged from the tanker and executed a precise approach to a fiery arrested landing. On 26 April 1967, in support of a coordinated strike against the vital fuel facilities in Haiphong, he led an attack on a threatening SAM site, during which his aircraft was seriously damaged by an exploding SAM; nevertheless, he regained control of his burning aircraft and courageously launched his SHRIKE missiles before departing the area. By his inspiring courage and unswerving devotion to duty in the face of grave personal danger, Captain Estocin upheld the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

Note: Lt Cdr Estocin was believed to have been captured by the Vietnamese; he was promoted to captain during his presumed captivity.
USS Estocin (FFG 15) was named in his honour.

11 December 2011

Victoria Cross: J. D. Grant


Lieutenant, 8th Gurkha Rifles

Born: 28 December 1877, Roorkee, India
Died: 20 February 1967, Tunbridge Wells, Kent

Citation: The KING has been graciously pleased to signify His intention to confer the decoration of the Victoria Cross upon the undermentioned Officer, whose claims have been submitted for His Majesty's approval, for his conspicuous bravery in Thibet, as stated against his name:
On the occasion of the storming of the Gyantse Jong on 6th July, 1904, the storming Company, headed by Lieutenant Grant, on emerging from the cover of the village, had to advance up a bare, almost precipitous, rock-face, with little or no cover available, and under a heavy fire from the curtain, flanking towers on both sides of the curtain, and other buildings higher up the Jong. Showers of rocks and stones were at the time being hurled down the hillside by the enemy from above. One man could only go up at a time, crawling on hands and knees, to the breach in the curtain.
Lieutenant Grant, followed by Havildar Karbir Pun, 8th Gurkha Rifles, at once attempted to scale it, but on reaching near the top he was wounded, and hurled back, as was also the Havildar, who fell down the rock some 30 feet.
Regardless of their injuries they again attempted to scale the breach, and, covered by the fire of the men below, were successful in their object, the Havildar shooting one of the enemy on gaining the top. The successful issue of the assault was very greatly due to the splendid example shown by Lieutenant Grant and Havildar Karbir Pun.
The latter has been recommended for the Indian Order of Merit.

[London Gazette issue 27758 dated 24 Jan 1905, published 24 Jan 1905.]

Medal of Honor: G. C. Shaw


First Lieutenant, 27th US Infantry

Born: 6 March 1866, Pontiac, Michigan
Died: 10 February 1960

Citation: For distinguished gallantry in leading the assault [at Fort Pitacus, Lake Lanao, Mindanao, Philippine Islands, on 4 May 1903] and, under a heavy fire from the enemy, maintaining alone his position on the parapet after the first 3 men who followed him there had been killed or wounded, until a foothold was gained by others and the capture of the place assured.

09 December 2011

Top 100 cult films

It seems a couple of chaps named Ernest Mathijs and Xavier Mendik have written a book called 100 Cult Films (British Film Institute, to be published 20 Dec 11). NPR are publicising the book, and asking for suggestions for additional films which people think should be on the list. Feel free to comment there.

Here's the list; I've bolded the eight that I've actually seen.

2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick, 1968
Akira, Katsuhiro Otomo, 1988
Angel of Vengeance, Abel Ferrara, 1981
Bad Taste, Peter Jackson, 1987
Baise-moi, Virginie Despentes, Coralie Trinh Thi, 2000
Begotten, E Elias Merhige, 1991
Behind the Green Door, Artie Mitchell, Jim Mitchell, 1972
La belle et la bête, Jean Cocteau, 1946
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Russ Meyer, 1970
The Big Lebowski, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, 1998
Blade Runner, Ridley Scott, 1982
Blue Sunshine, Jeff Lieberman, 1978
Brazil, Terry Gilliam, 1985
Bride of Frankenstein, James Whale, 1935
The Brood, David Cronenberg, 1979
Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, Robert Wiene, 1920
Café Flesh, Stephen Sayadian, 1982
Cannibal Holocaust, Ruggero Deodato, 1979
Casablanca, Michael Curtiz, 1942
Un chien andalou, Luis Buñuel, Salvador Dalí,1928
Coffy, Jack Hill, 1973
Daughters of Darkness, Harry Kümel, 1971
Dawn of the Dead, George A Romero, 1978
Deadly Weapons, Doris Wishman, 1974
Debbie Does Dallas, Jim Clark, 1978
Deep Red, Dario Argento, 1975
Dirty Dancing, Emile Ardolino, 1987
Django, Sergio Corbucci, 1966
Donnie Darko, Richard Kelly, 2001
Don't Torture a Duckling, Lucio Fulci, 1972
Edward Scissorhands, Tim Burton, 1990
Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals, Aristide Massaccesi, 1977
Emmanuelle, Just Jaeckin, 1974
Enter the Dragon, Robert Clouse, 1973
Eraserhead, David Lynch, 1977
The Evil Dead, Sam Raimi, 1981
Fight Club, David Fincher, 1999
Flaming Creatures, Jack Smith, 1963
Freak Orlando, Ulrike Ottinger, 1981
Freaks, Tod Browning, 1932
Ginger Snaps, John Fawcett, 2000
The Gods Must Be Crazy, Jamie Uys, 1981
Godzilla, Ishirô Honda, 1954
The Harder They Come, Perry Henzell, 1972
Harold and Maude, Hal Ashby, 1971
Häxan, Benjamin Christensen, 1922
Hellraiser, Clive Barker, 1987
The Holy Mountain, Alejandro Jodorowsky, 1973
The House with the Laughing Windows, Pupi Avati, 1976
I Walked with a Zombie, Jacques Tourneur, 1943
Ichi the Killer, Takashi Miike, 2001
In Bruges, Martin McDonagh, 2008
Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Don Siegel, 1956
Invocation of My Demon Brother, Kenneth Anger, 1969
It's a Wonderful Life, Frank Capra, 1946
The Killer, John Woo, 1989
Lady Terminator, H Tjut Djalil, 1988
The Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson, 2001–3
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, George Miller, 1981
Man Bites Dog, Rémy Belvaux, André Bonzel, Benoît Poelvoorde, 1992
Manos, the Hands of Fate, Harold P Warren, 1966
The Masque of the Red Death, Roger Corman, 1964
Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, 1975
Near Dark, Kathryn Bigelow, 1987
Nekromantik, Jörg Buttgereit, 1987
Night of the Living Dead, George A Romero, 1968
Pink Flamingos, John Waters, 1972
Piranha, Joe Dante, 1978
Plan 9 from Outer Space, Ed Wood Jr, 1959
Re-Animator, Stuart Gordon, 1985
Reefer Madness, Louis Gasnier, 1936
Repo Man, Alex Cox, 1984
Ringu, Hideo Nakata, 1998
The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Jim Sharman, 1975
Rome Armed to the Teeth, Umberto Lenzi, 1976
The Room, Tommy Wiseau, 2003
Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1975
She Killed in Ecstasy, Jesús Franco, 1971
Showgirls, Paul Verhoeven, 1995
Soul Vengeance, Jamaa Fanaka, 1975
The Sound of Music, Robert Wise, 1965
Star Wars, George Lucas, 1977–2005
Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, Todd Haynes, 1988
Suspiria, Dario Argento, 1977
Tank Girl, Rachel Talalay, 1995
Tetsuo, Shinya Tsukamoto, 1989
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Tobe Hooper, 1974
This Is Spınal Tap, Rob Reiner, 1984
Thriller: A Cruel Picture, Bo Arne Vibenius, 1974
Thundercrack!, Curt McDowell, 1975
El Topo, Alejandro Jodorowsky, 1970
The Toxic Avenger, Michael Herz, Lloyd Kaufman, 1984
Two-Lane Blacktop, Monte Hellman, 1971
Two Thousand Maniacs!, Herschell Gordon Lewis, 1964
The Vanishing, George Sluizer, 1988
Videodrome, David Cronenberg, 1983
The Warriors, Walter Hill, 1979
Witchfinder General, Michael Reeves, 1968
Withnail & I, Bruce Robinson, 1987
The Wizard of Oz, Victor Fleming, 1939

(I may also have seen Piranha and The Warriors, but I'm not sure.)

My additions? Billy Jack (Tom Laughlin, 1971), Army of Darkness (Sam Raimi, 1992), The Story of O (Just Jaeckin, 1975), Lake Placid (Steve Miner, 1999)....

(Feel free to comment here, too.)

H/T to LabRat.

04 December 2011

George Cross: I. J. Gillett


Aircraftman 1st Class, Royal Air Force; Far East Flying Boat Wing

Born: 16 September 1928
Died: 26 March 1950, Seletar, Singapore

Citation: Aircraftman Gillett, a Fitter Armourer, was a member of the ground crew on board a Sunderland Flying Boat which blew up at its moorings at R.A.F. Flying Boat Base, Seletar, on 26th March, 1950. Rescue surface craft were quickly on the scene but the aircraft and a bomb-scow alongside sank rapidly and survivors from the explosion were hurled into the water. A life-belt was thrown to Aircraftman Gillett from a rescue launch. He was seen, however, to throw the life-belt to a seriously injured corporal who was in danger of drowning near him. In the confusion the rescuers had not been able to reach the corporal. Gillett was a great friend of his and knew he was not a strong swimmer. The life-belt kept the corporal afloat until he was rescued unconscious from the water several minutes later. In the meantime Aircraftman Gillett disappeared; his body was washed ashore two days later. It was discovered that his body had suffered superficial injuries and that death was due to the combined effects of blast and drowning. By his action in deliberately saving the life of his injured friend, whilst injured and in great danger himself, Aircraftman Gillett displayed magnificent courage. His extreme unselfishness in his last living moments, which resulted in the sacrifice of his life to save another, was seen in this act of great heroism which was in accordance with the highest traditions of the Royal Air Force.

[London Gazette issue 39033 dated 3 Oct 1950, published 3 Oct 1950.]

Victoria Cross: D. L. Laidlaw


Piper, 7th Battalion, The King's Own Scottish Borderers

Born: 26 July 1875, Swinton, Border
Died: 2 June 1950, Norham, Northumberland

Citation: For most conspicuous bravery prior to an assault on German trenches near Loos and Hill 70 on 25th September, 1915.
During the worst of the bombardment, when the attack was about to commence, Piper Laidlaw, seeing that his company was somewhat shaken from the effects of gas, with absolute coolness and disregard of danger mounted the parapet, marched up and down and played his company out of the trench. The effect of his splendid example was immediate, and the company dashed out to the assault. Piper Laidlaw continued playing his pipes till he was wounded.

[London Gazette issue 29371 dated 18 Nov 1915, published 16 Nov 1915]

Medal of Honor: W. R. Prom


Lance Corporal, US Marine Corps; Company 1, 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, 3d Marine Division (Reinforced)

Born: 17 November 1948, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Died: 9 February 1969, near An Hoa, Republic of Vietnam

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a machinegun squad leader with Company 1, in action against the enemy [near An Hoa, Republic of Vietnam, on 9 February 1969]. While returning from a reconnaissance operation during Operation TAYLOR COMMON, 2 platoons of Company 1 came under an intense automatic weapons fire and grenade attack from a well concealed North Vietnamese Army force in fortified positions. The leading. element of the platoon was isolated and several marines were wounded. L/Cpl. Prom immediately assumed control of 1 of his machineguns and began to deliver return fire. Disregarding his safety he advanced to a position from which he could more effectively deliver covering fire while first aid was administered to the wounded men. Realizing that the enemy would have to be destroyed before the injured marines could be evacuated, L/Cpl. Prom again moved forward and delivered a heavy volume of fire with such accuracy that he was instrumental in routing the enemy, thus permitting his men to regroup and resume their march. Shortly thereafter, the platoon again came under heavy fire in which 1 man was critically wounded. Reacting instantly, L/Cpl. Prom moved forward to protect his injured comrade. Unable to continue his fire because of his severe wounds, he continued to advance to within a few yards to the enemy positions. There, standing in full view of the enemy, he accurately directed the fire of his support elements until he was mortally wounded. Inspired by his heroic actions, the marines launched an assault that destroyed the enemy. L/Cpl. Prom's indomitable courage, inspiring initiative and selfless devotion to duty upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

01 December 2011

John Carter

Coming from Disney, of all sources, in time for the 100th anniversary of the publication of A Princess of Mars:

According to IMDb, the film stars Taylor Kitsch as John Carter, Lynn Collins as Dejah Thoris and Willem Dafoe as Tars Tarkas. The release date will be 9 March 2012.

I am really looking forward to this....

Never read A Princess of Mars? You can find it here.

Book list - Nov 11

Owls to Athens - historical fiction, by H N Turteltaub
Nemesis - historical mystery, by Lindsey Davis
Flint - western, by Louis L'Amour *
Why Evolution Is True - science, by Jerry A Coyne
Four Queens: The Provençal Sisters Who Ruled Europe - European history, by Nancy Bazelon Goldstone
Fire Time - SF, by Poul Anderson *

Only six books last month, with two rereads (marked by asterisks). And there were no Carnegie Medal winners, so I'm still at 56 of 72.

27 November 2011

Victoria Cross: E. W. Costello


Lieutenant, Indian Staff Corps

Born: 7 August 1873, Sheikhbudin, Punjab, India
Died: 7 June 1949, Eastbourne, Sussex

Citation: On the night of the 26th July, 1897, at the Malakand, Lieutenant Costello went out from the hospital enclosure, and, with the assistance of two sepoys, brought in a wounded Lance-Halvidar who was lying 60 yards away in the open on the football ground. This ground was at the time overrun with swordsmen and swept by a heavy fire both from the enemy and our own men who were holding the sapper lines.

[London Gazette issue 26908 dated 9 Nov 1897, published 9 Nov 1897.]

Note: The Malakand Agency was in the North-West Frontier Province (now the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), in what is now northern Pakistan.

Medal of Honor: F. C. Hammond


Hospital Corpsman, US Navy; attached 1st Marine Division

Born: 9 November 1931, Alexandria, Virginia
Died: 27 March 1953, South Korea

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a HC serving with the 1st Marine Division in action against enemy aggressor forces [in Korea] on the night of 26-27 March 1953. After reaching an intermediate objective during a counterattack against a heavily entrenched and numerically superior hostile force occupying ground on a bitterly contested outpost far in advance of the main line of resistance, HC Hammond's platoon was subjected to a murderous barrage of hostile mortar and artillery fire, followed by a vicious assault by onrushing enemy troops. Resolutely advancing through the veritable curtain of fire to aid his stricken comrades, HC Hammond moved among the stalwart garrison of marines and, although critically wounded himself, valiantly continued to administer aid to the other wounded throughout an exhausting 4-hour period. When the unit was ordered to withdraw, he skillfully directed the evacuation of casualties and remained in the fire-swept area to assist the corpsmen of the relieving unit until he was struck by a round of enemy mortar fire and fell, mortally wounded. By his exceptional fortitude, inspiring initiative and self-sacrificing efforts, HC Hammond undoubtedly saved the lives of many marines. His great personal valor in the face of overwhelming odds enhances and sustains the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Note: USS Francis Hammond (FF 1067) was named in his honour.

20 November 2011

Victoria Cross: J. Blair


Captain, 2nd Bombay Light Cavalry

Born: 27 January 1828, Nimach, Gwalior State, India
Died: 18 January 1905, Melrose, Roxburghshire, Scotland

Citation: For having on two occasions distinguished himself by his gallant and daring conduct.
1. On the night of the 12th of August, 1857, at Neemuch, in volunteering to apprehend 7 or 8 armed mutineers who had shut themselves up for defence in a house, the door of which he burst open. He then rushed in among them, and forced them to escape through the roof; in this encounter, he was severely wounded. In spite of his wounds he pursued the fugitives, but was unable to come up with them, in consequence of the darkness of the night.
2. On the 23rd of October, 1857, at Jeerum, in fighting his way most gallantly through a body of rebels who had literally surrounded him. After breaking the end of his sword on one of their heads, and receiving a severe sword cut on his right arm, he rejoined his troop. In this wounded condition, and with no other weapon than the hilt of his broken sword, he put himself at the head of his men, charged the rebels most effectually, and dispersed them.

[London Gazette issue 22601 dated 25 Feb 1862, published 25 Feb 1862.]

Note: Neemuch, or Nimach, is a town in the state of Madhya Pradesh, in central India.

Medal of Honor: Platten, Tea, Gardiner, Hornaday, Lowthers and Robbins


Sergeant, Company H, 6th US Cavalry

Born: 1849, Torbeck, Ireland
Died: 2 March 1939, Arizona(?)

Citation: With 5 other men he waded in mud and water up the creek to a position directly behind an entrenched Cheyenne position, who were using natural bank pits to good advantage against the main column. This surprise attack from the enemy rear broke their resistance.


Sergeant, Company H, 6th US Cavalry

Born: 1842, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died: 14 September 1911, Prescott, Arizona

Citation: With 5 other men he waded in mud and water up the creek to a position directly behind an entrenched Cheyenne position, who were using natural bank pits to good advantage against the main column. This surprise attack from the enemy rear broke their resistance.


Private, Company H, 6th US Cavalry

Born: 1841, Carlisle, New York
Died: 1883, Arizona

Citation: With 5 other men he waded in mud and water up the creek to a position directly behind an entrenched Cheyenne position, who were using natural bank pits to good advantage against the main column. This surprise attack from the enemy rear broke their resistance.


Private, Company H, 6th US Cavalry

Born: 24 March 1851, Hendricks County, Indiana
Died: 9 July 1923

Citation: With 5 other men he waded in mud and water up the creek to a position directly behind an entrenched Cheyenne position, who were using natural bank pits to good advantage against the main column . This surprise attack from the enemy rear broke the ir resistance .


Private, Company H, 6th US Cavalry

Born: 1852, Boston, Massachusetts
Died: unknown

Citation: With S other men he waded in mud and water up the creek to a position directly behind an entrenched Cheyenne position, who were using natural bank pits to good advantage against the main column. This surprise attack from the enemy rear broke their resistance.


Private, Company H, 6th US Cavalry

Born: 25 July 1851, Elba, Wisconsin
Died: 21 June 1924, Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Citation: With 5 other men he waded in mud and water up the creek to a position directly behind an entrenched Cheyenne position, who were using natural bank pits to good advantage against the main column. This surprise attack from the enemy rear broke their resistance.

Note: This action took place at Sappa Creek, Kansas, on 23 April 1875. Private James F Ayers and Trumpeter Michael Dawson were also awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry during this battle.

13 November 2011

Victoria Cross: J. Kellaway


Boatswain, Royal Navy; HMS Wrangler

Born: 1 September 1824, Kingston, Dorset
Died: 2 October 1880, Chatham, Kent

Citation: "Whilst Boatswain of the 'Wrangler,' in the Sea of Azoff, was taken prisoner after a stout resistance, whilst endeavouring to rescue Mr. Odevaine, Mate."
This gallant service was performed on shore near Marionpol. A detachment, consisting of Mr. Odevaine, Mate; Mr. Kellaway, Boatswain; and three Seamen, had been dispatched from the "Wrangler" to endeavour to burn some boats, fishing stations, and hay-stacks, on the opposite side of a small lake. They had nearly reached the spot, when they were fired upon by a party of fifty Russian soldiers, who suddenly rushed from their ambush, and endeavoured to cut off their retreat. One man fell into the enemy's hands, but Mr. Kellaway, and the two other seamen, had contrived to make good their escape, when Mr. Odevaine accidentally fell. Kellaway, apparently imagining him to be wounded, without a moment's hesitation returned to his rescue, risking his own life to succour his Commanding Officer. Unfortunately, while lifting up Mr. Odevaine, they were surrounded by the enemy, and, notwithstanding a gallant but hopeless resistance by Mr. Kellaway, they were both made prisoners. Commander Burgoyne, who has furnished these particulars, observes, "I was myself an observer of the zeal,gallantry, and self-devotion that characterized Mr. Kellaway's conduct."
(Despatches from Admiral Lord Lyons, of 8th September, 1855, No. 746; and of 22nd September, 1855, No. 796.)

[London Gazette issue 21971 dated 24 Feb 1857, published 24 Feb 1857.]

Medal of Honor: J. W. Mathis


First Lieutenant, US Army Air Corps; 359th Bomber Squadron, 303d Bomber Group

Born: 25 September 1921, San Angelo, Texas
Died: 18 March 1943, over Germany

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy over Vegesack, Germany, on 18 March 1943. 1st Lt. Mathis, as leading bombardier of his squadron, flying through intense and accurate antiaircraft fire, was just starting his bomb run, upon which the entire squadron depended for accurate bombing, when he was hit by the enemy antiaircraft fire. His right arm was shattered above the elbow, a large wound was torn in his side and abdomen, and he was knocked from his bomb sight to the rear of the bombardier's compartment. Realizing that the success of the mission depended upon him, 1st Lt. Mathis, by sheer determination and willpower, though mortally wounded, dragged himself back to his sights, released his bombs, then died at his post of duty. As the result of this action the airplanes of his bombardment squadron placed their bombs directly upon the assigned target for a perfect attack against the enemy. 1st Lt. Mathis' undaunted bravery has been a great inspiration to the officers and men of his unit.

06 November 2011

George Cross: G. P. Stronach


Chief Officer, Merchant Navy; SS Ocean Voyager

Born: 14 April 1912
Died: 12 December 1999

Citation: When the ship was lying in [Tripoli] harbour [on 19 March 1943], a severe aircraft attack developed and she was hit and at once caught fire. The vessel had a large consignment of petrol and ammunition on board, which was exploding heavily all the time and in spite of strenuous efforts which were made to fight the fire she had to be abandoned. The Master was killed by the explosion and the responsibility for further operations devolved on the Chief Officer.
He had been rendered temporarily unconscious but recovered almost immediately and went forward to look for survivors. He found a number of the crew sheltering in the alley way and, braving the exploding ammunition, led them to a boat alongside which took them to safety. In order to provide for the transport of any other survivors who might be found, he then lowered another boat and brought it alongside the ship. Although the vessel was now burning furiously Mr. Stronach made his way to the officers' accommodation amidships. Finding a hose with a trickle of water coming through, he held this over his head and so kept himself sufficiently wet to protect him from the worst of the heat and flames. With great difficulty he climbed into the collapsed accommodation and found one of the deck officers, unconscious and badly burned. Mr. Stronach pulled him clear and dragged him along the deck to the lowered boat. Returning to the accommodation, he began to remove the debris from another officer who was trapped. By almost superhuman efforts he dragged the man through the porthole and along the deck. He then tied a rope around his waist and lowered him over the side to the boat. As the situation was becoming desperate Mr. Stronach ordered a man to take the boat to safety and once again he returned amidships where he discovered an officer who had been severely injured. Dragging him along the deck to the side of the ship, he tied a rope around him and lowered him over the side on to a raft which had returned to the ship in response to his calls. Again Mr. Stronach continued his search for survivors and, taking a final look round aft, he saw a greaser lying unconscious in the scuppers. He dragged this man to the side of the ship, but finding there was no raft or boat alongside, put a lifebelt around him and threw him overboard. When he was satisfied that there were no (further survivors the Chief Officer jumped overboard and swam to a raft which, under his direction, returned to pick up the injured greaser. In the full knowledge that she was likely to blow up at any moment Chief Officer Stronach stayed on this burning vessel searching for survivors for an hour and twenty minutes. His inspiring leadership induced a number of the crew to get away and so saved their lives and by his gallant efforts, undertaken with utter disregard of his personal safety, he saved the lives of three officers and a greaser, all of whom were badly hurt. His action equals any in the annals of the Merchant Navy for great and unselfish heroism and determination in the face of overwhelming odds.

[London Gazette issue 36256 dated 23 Nov 1943, published 19 Nov 1943.]

Victoria Cross: A. H. Wakenshaw


Private, The Durham Light Infantry

Born: 9 June 1914, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Date: 27 June 1942, near Mersa Matruh, Egypt

Citation: On the 27th June, 1942, South of Mersa Matruh, Private Wakenshaw was a member of the crew of a 2-pounder anti-tank gun that was sited on a forward slope in front of the infantry position.
Shortly after dawn the enemy attacked and an enemy tracked vehicle towing a light gun was brought to within short range of the position. The gun crew opened fire and succeeded in putting a round through the engine immobilising the enemy vehicle.
Another mobile gun then came into action. All members of the crew manning the 2-pounder including Private Wakenshaw were killed or seriously wounded and the 2-pounder was silenced. In this respite the enemy moved forward towards their damaged tractor in order to get the light gun into action against our infantry.
Realising the danger to his comrades, under intense mortar and artillery fire which swept the gun site, Private Wakenshaw crawled back to his gun. Although his left arm was blown off above the elbow, he loaded the gun with one arm and fired five more rounds. These succeeded in setting the tractor on fire and damaged the light gun. A near miss then killed the gun aimer and blew Private Wakenshaw away from the gun giving him further severe wounds. Undeterred he slowly dragged himself back to the gun, placed a round in the breach [sic], and was preparing to fire when a direct hit on the ammunition killed him and destroyed the gun.
In the evening after the action the body of Private Wakenshaw was found stretched out at the back of the breach [sic] block beside the ammunition box.
This act of conspicuous gallantry prevented the enemy from using their light gun on the infantry Company which was only 200 yards away. It was through the self sacrifice and courageous devotion to duty of this infantry anti-tank gunner that the Company was enabled to withdraw and to embus in safety.

[London Gazette issue 35698 dated 11 Sep 1942, published 8 Sep 1942.]

Medal of Honor: W. Parker


Captain of the Afterguard, US Navy; USS Cayuga

Born: Boston, Massachusetts
Died: unknown

Citation: At the wheel on board the U.S.S. Cayuga during the capture of Forts St. Philip and Jackson, and New Orleans, 24 and 25 April 1862. As his ship led the advance column toward the barrier and both forts opened fire simultaneously, striking the vessel from stem to stern, Parker conscientiously performed his duties throughout the action in which attempts by 3 rebel steamers to butt and board were thwarted, and the ships driven off. Eleven gunboats were successfully engaged and the enemy garrisons forced to surrender during this battle in which the Cayuga sustained 46 hits.

01 November 2011

Book list - Oct 11

Into the Parallel - YA SF, by Robin Brande
The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics - humour, by John Pollack
The Enchantment Emporium - modern fantasy, by Tanya Huff
Huck Finn & Tom Sawyer Among the Indians - fiction, by Mark Twain and Lee Nelson
Smugglers of Spirits: Prohibition and the Coast Guard Patrol - memoirs, by Harold Waters
Rum Row: The Real McCoy, the Bootleg Queen, and the Liquor Fleet That Fueled the Roaring Twenties - US history, by Robert Carse
Westward Bound in the Schooner Yankee - travel, by Captain and Mrs Irving Johnson
The Wolf: How One German Raider Terrorized the Allies in the Most Epic Voyage of WWI - WW I, by Richard Guilliatt
Sailing to See: Picture Cruise in the Schooner Yankee - travel, by Captain and Mrs Irving Johnson
The Sacred Land - historical fiction, by H N Turteltaub

Ten books last month, with no rereads. I'm not setting an official goal this year, though I do expect to read around 125 books.

And no Carnegie Medal winners, so I'm still at 56 of 72.

30 October 2011

Victoria Cross: J. P. Carne


Lieutenant-Colonel, The Gloucestershire Regiment

Born: 11 April 1906, Falmouth, Cornwall
Died: 19 April 1986, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

Citation: The QUEEN has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the VICTORIA CROSS to: —
Lieutenant-Colonel James Power CARNE, D.S.O. (33647), The Gloucestershire Regiment, in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Korea.
On the night 22nd-23rd April, 1951, Lieutenant-Colonel CARNE'S battalion, 1 Glosters, was heavily attacked and the enemy on the Imjin River were repulsed, having suffered heavy casualties. On 23rd, 24th and 25th April, 1951, the Battalion was heavily and incessantly engaged by vastly superior numbers of enemy who repeatedly launched mass attacks, but were stopped at close quarters.
During the 24th and 25th April, 1951, the Battalion was completely cut off from the rest of the Brigade, but remained a fighting entity, in face of almost continual onslaughts from an enemy who were determined at all costs and regardless of casualties, to over-run it. Throughout, Lieutenant-Colonel CARNE'S manner remained coolness itself, and on the wireless, the only communication he still had with Brigade, he repeatedly assured the Brigade Commander that all was well with his Battalion, that they could hold on and that everyone was in good heart.
Throughout the entire engagement Lieutenant-Colonel CARNE, showing a complete disregard for his own safety, moved among the whole Battalion under very heavy mortar and machine gun fire, inspiring the utmost confidence and the will to resist, amongst his troops.
On two separate occasions, armed with a rifle and grenades he personally led assault parties which drove back the enemy and saved important situations.
Lieutenant-Colonel CARNE'S example of courage, coolness and leadership was felt not only in his own Battalion, but throughout the whole Brigade.
He fully realised that his flanks had been turned, but he also knew that the abandonment of his position would clear the way for the enemy to make a major breakthrough and this would have endangered the Corps.
When at last it was apparent that his Battalion would not be relieved and on orders from higher authority, he organised his Battalion into small, officer-led parties, who then broke out, whilst he himself in charge of a small party fought his way out but was captured within 24 hours.
Lieutenant-Colonel CARNE showed powers of leadership which can seldom have been surpassed in the history of our Army.
He inspired his officers and men to fight beyond the normal limits of human endurance, in spite of overwhelming odds and ever increasing casualties, shortage of ammunition and of water.

[London Gazette issue 39994 dated 27 Oct 1953, published 23 Oct 1953.]

Medal of Honor: J. G. B. Adams


Second Lieutenant, Company I, 19th Massachusetts Infantry

Born: 6 October 1841, Groveland, Massachusetts
Died: 19 October 1900, Massachusetts(?)

Citation: Seized the 2 colors from the hands of a corporal and a lieutenant as they fell mortally wounded [at Fredericksburg, Virginia, on 13 December 1862], and with a color in each hand advanced across the field to a point where the regiment was reformed on those colors.

23 October 2011

Victoria Cross: G. Onions


Major, 1st Battalion The Devonshire Regiment

Born: 2 March 1883, Bilston, Staffordshire
Died: 2 April 1944, Birmingham

Citation: For most conspicuous bravery and initiative south of Achiet-le-Petit on 22nd August, 1918, when, having been sent out with one man to get touch with the battalion on the right flank, he observed the enemy advancing in large numbers to counter-attack the positions gained on the previous day.
Realising his opportunity, he boldly placed himself with his comrade on the flank of the advancing enemy, and opened rapid fire when the target was most favourable. When the enemy were about 100 yards from him, the line wavered and some hands were seen to be thrown up. L./Cpl. Onions then rushed forward, and, with the assistance of his comrade, took about 200 of the enemy prisoners and marched them back to his company commander.
By his magnificent courage and presence of mind he averted what might have been a very dangerous situation.

[London Gazette issue dated 14 Dec 1918, published 14 Dec 1918.]

Medal of Honor: B. Lopez


First Lieutenant, US Marine Corps; Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Reinforced)

Born: 23 August 1925, Tampa, Florida
Died: 15 September 1950, Inchon, South Korea

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a marine platoon commander of Company A, in action against enemy aggressor forces. With his platoon 1st Lt. Lopez was engaged in the reduction of immediate enemy beach defenses after landing with the assault waves [at Inchon, South Korea, on 15 September 1950]. Exposing himself to hostile fire, he moved forward alongside a bunker and prepared to throw a hand grenade into the next pillbox whose fire was pinning down that sector of the beach. Taken under fire by an enemy automatic weapon and hit in the right shoulder and chest as he lifted his arm to throw, he fell backward and dropped the deadly missile. After a moment, he turned and dragged his body forward in an effort to retrieve the grenade and throw it. In critical condition from pain and loss of blood, and unable to grasp the hand grenade firmly enough to hurl it, he chose to sacrifice himself rather than endanger the lives of his men and, with a sweeping motion of his wounded right arm, cradled the grenade under him and absorbed the full impact of the explosion. His exceptional courage, fortitude, and devotion to duty reflect the highest credit upon 1st Lt. Lopez and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Note: USNS 1st Lt Baldomero Lopez (T-AK 3010) was named in his honour.

16 October 2011

HMS Ambush

ZUI this article from the Daily Mail, which has some really nice pictures, both exterior and interior, of HMS Ambush, the Royal Navy's second Astute-class submarine.

Victoria Cross: H. J. Knight


Corporal, 1st Battalion Liverpool Regiment; No. 1 Company, 4th Division Mounted Infantry

Born: 5 November 1878, Yeovil, Somerset
Died: 24 November 1955, Winterborne Anderson, Dorsetshire

Citation: On the 21st August, [1900,] during the operations near Van Wyk's Vlei, Corporal Knight was posted in some rocks with four men covering the right rear of a detachment of the same Company who, under Captain Ewart, were holding the right of the line.
The enemy, about 50 strong, attacked Captain Ewart's right and almost surrounded, at short range, Corporal Knight's small party. That Non-Commissioned Officer held his ground, directing his party to retire one by one to better cover, where he maintained bis position for nearly an hour, covering the withdrawal of Captain Ewart's force, and losing two of his four men.
He then retired, bringing with him two wounded men. One of these he left in a place of safety, the other he carried himself for nearly two miles.
The party were hotly engaged during the whole time.

[London Gazette issue 27263 dated 4 Jan 1901, published 4 Jan 1901.]

Medal of Honor: W. W. Bradley, Jr.


Lieutenant (later Commander), US Navy; USS Pittsburgh (CA 4)

Born: 28 June 1884, Ransomville, New York
Died: 27 August 1954, Santa Barbara, California

Citation: For extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty while serving on the U.S.S. Pittsburgh, at the time of an accidental explosion of ammunition on that vessel. On 23 July 1917, some saluting cartridge cases were being reloaded in the after casemate: through an accident an explosion occurred. Comdr. Bradley (then Lieutenant), who was about to enter the casemate, was blown back by the explosion and rendered momentarily unconscious, but while still dazed, crawled into the casemate to extinguish burning materials in dangerous proximity to a considerable amount of powder, thus preventing further explosions.

Note: USS Bradley (FF 1041) was named in his honour.

09 October 2011

Victoria Cross: C. J. Melliss


Captain (local Major), Indian Staff Corps; attached West African Frontier Force

Born: 12 September 1862, Mhow, India
Died: 6 June 1936, Camberley, Surrey

Citation: On the 30th September, 1900, at Obassa, Major Melliss, seeing that the enemy were very numerous, and intended to make a firm stand, hastily collected all stray men and any he could get together, and charged at their head, into the dense bush where the enemy were thick. His action carried all along with him ; but the enemy were determined to have a hand-to-hand fight. One fired at Major Melliss, who put his sword through the man, and they rolled over together. Another Ashanti shot him through the foot, the wound paralysing the limb. His wild rush had, however, caused a regular panic among the enemy, who were at the same time charged by the Sikhs, and killed in numbers.
Major Melliss also behaved with great gallantry on three previous occasions.

[London Gazette issue 27266 dated 15 Jan 1901, published 15 Jan 1901.]

Note: Obassa is now in Ghana.

Medal of Honor: R. R. Leisy


Second Lieutenant, US Army; Company B, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division

Born: 1 March 1945, Stockton, California
Died: 2 December 1969, Phuoc Long Province, Republic of Vietnam

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. 2d Lt. Leisy, Infantry, Company B, distinguished himself while serving as platoon leader during a reconnaissance mission [in Phuoc Long Province, Republic of Vietnam, on 2 December 1969]. One of his patrols became heavily engaged by fire from a numerically superior enemy force located in a well-entrenched bunker complex. As 2d Lt. Leisy deployed the remainder of his platoon to rescue the beleaguered patrol, the platoon also came under intense enemy fire from the front and both flanks. In complete disregard for his safety, 2d Lt. Leisy moved from position to position deploying his men to effectively engage the enemy. Accompanied by his radio operator he moved to the front and spotted an enemy sniper in a tree in the act of firing a rocket-propelled grenade at them. Realizing there was neither time to escape the grenade nor shout a warning, 2d Lt. Leisy unhesitatingly, and with full knowledge of the consequences, shielded the radio operator with his body and absorbed the full impact of the explosion. This valorous act saved the life of the radio operator and protected other men of his platoon who were nearby from serious injury. Despite his mortal wounds, 2d Lt. Leisy calmly and confidently continued to direct the platoon's fire. When medical aid arrived, 2d Lt. Leisy valiantly refused attention until the other seriously wounded were treated. His display of extraordinary courage and exemplary devotion to duty provided the inspiration and leadership that enabled his platoon to successfully withdraw without further casualties. 2d Lt. Leisy's gallantry at the cost of his life are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

02 October 2011

George Cross: D. A. Copperwheat


Lieutenant, Royal Navy; HMS Penelope

Born: 23 May 1914
Died: 8 September 1992

Citation: The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the Award of the GEORGE CROSS to -
Lieutenant Dennis Arthur Copperwheat, Royal Navy, H.M.S. Penelope.
For great bravery at Malta. During heavy air attacks on Valletta [on 22 March 1942], Lieutenant Copperwheat was sent in charge of a party of men from H.M.S. Penelope to scuttle a Merchantman, laden with ammunition, which was burning in the harbour. Owing to the fires, it was impossible to place scuttling charges in the holds, and they had to be slung over the side of the ship. As they worked, ammunition was exploding all round them from burning stowages on deck. The ship lay 40 yards from the shore, to which the electric cables for firing the scuttling charges could only just reach. Lieutenant Copperwheat sent his working party to shelter, and stayed himself to fire the charges from a position where he was exposed to the full blast of the explosion, which lifted him bodily. But for his brave action the ship must have blown up, and grave damage would have been done to the harbour.
Moreover, much of the ammunition was saved and some very heavy bombs, part of the cargo, were soon afterwards dropped in Italy.

[London Gazette issue 35788 dated 17 Nov 1942, published 13 Nov 1942.]

Note: The ship in question was a Norwegian merchantman, SS Talabot.

Victoria Cross: J. Sinnott


Lance-Corporal, 84th Regiment

Born: 1829, Wexford, County Wexford, Ireland
Died: 20 July 1896, Clapham, Southwest London

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry at Lucknow, on the 6th of October, 1857, in going out with Serjeants Glinn and Mullins and Private Mullins, to rescue Lieutenant Gibaut, who, in carrying out water to extinguish a fire in the breastwork, had been mortally wounded, and lay outside. They brought in the body under a heavy fire. Lance-Corporal Sinnott was twice wounded. His comrades unanimously elected him for the Victoria Cross, as the most worthy. He had previously repeatedly accompanied Lieutenant Gibaut when he carried out water to extinguish the fire.
Despatch from Lieutenant-General Sir James Outram, Bart., G.C.B., dated 2nd December 1857.

[London Gazette issue 22212 dated 24 Dec 1858, published 24 Dec 1858.]

Medal of Honor: J. H. Howard


Lieutenant Colonel, US Army Air Corps

Born: 8 April 1913, Canton, China
Died: 18 March 1995, Bay Pines, Florida

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy near Oschersleben, Germany, on 11 January 1944. On that day Col. Howard was the leader of a group of P51 aircraft providing support for a heavy bomber formation on a long-range mission deep in enemy territory. As Col. Howard's group met the bombers in the target area the bomber force was attacked by numerous enemy fighters. Col. Howard, with his group, at once engaged the enemy and himself destroyed a German ME. 110. As a result of this attack Col. Howard lost contact with his group, and at once returned to the level of the bomber formation. He then saw that the bombers were being heavily attacked by enemy airplanes and that no other friendly fighters were at hand. While Col. Howard could have waited to attempt to assemble his group before engaging the enemy, he chose instead to attack single-handed a formation of more than 30 German airplanes. With utter disregard for his own safety he immediately pressed home determined attacks for some 30 minutes, during which time he destroyed 3 enemy airplanes and probably destroyed and damaged others. Toward the end of this engagement 3 of his guns went out of action and his fuel supply was becoming dangerously low. Despite these handicaps and the almost insuperable odds against him, Col. Howard continued his aggressive action in an attempt to protect the bombers from the numerous fighters. His skill, courage, and intrepidity on this occasion set an example of heroism which will be an inspiration to the U.S. Armed Forces.

Note: Howard was originally a Navy pilot, flying Grumman F3F-1 fighters aboard USS Enterprise (CV 6). He left the Navy in June of 1941 to join the American Volunteer Group (AVG) - the Flying Tigers. Flying a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, he completed 56 missions and was credited with shooting down six Japanese aircraft. After the Flying Tigers were officially absorbed by the Army Air Corps in 1942, he returned to the United States and joined the Army Air Corps.
His memoir, Roar of the Tiger, was published in 1991.

01 October 2011

Carnegie Medal books

Having finished reading the Newbery Medal winners in August of '09, I'm continuing with 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 72 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 (aka Circus Shoes), 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 was considered suitable
1944: The Wind on the Moon, by Eric Linklater
1945: Prize withheld as no book was 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
1951: The Wool-pack, 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 was 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 and Other Stories from the Old Testament, 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: Bog Child, by Siobhan Dowd
2010: The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman
2011: Monsters of Men, by Patrick Ness

So the count now is 56 down, 16 to go. The ILLs are still coming in - My thanks to the J Eugene Smith Library, Eastern Connecticut State College, Willimantic CT; the Connecticut State Library Library Service Centre, Willimantic CT; the Fletcher Memorial Library, Hampton CT; and one other library, which I forgot to record.

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

** Published in the US as A Northern Light.

*** 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.

Book list - Sep 11

The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson - humour, by Mark Twain
The Snowstorm (aka The Snow Ghosts) - children's time travel, by Beryl Netherclift
Over the Wine-Dark Sea - historical fiction, by H N Turteltaub
The Guns of the South - AH, by Harry Turtledove *
The Sky Took Him - historical mystery, by Donis Casey
Crying Blood - historical mystery, by Donis Casey
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - YA, by Ransom Riggs
The Gryphon's Skull - historical fiction, by H N Turteltaub
Grierson's Raid: A Daring Cavalry Strike Through the Heart of the Confederacy - USCW, by Tom Lalicki
The Trouble with Humans - SF (short stories), by Christopher Anvil

Ten books last month, with only one reread (marked by an asterisk). I'm not setting an official goal this year, though I do expect to read around 150 books.

No Carnegie Medal winners this time round, so I'm still at 56 of 72.

Words of wisdom

October. This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks in. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August and February.
-- Mark Twain
The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson

25 September 2011

Victoria Cross: G. L. Goodlake


Brevet Major, Coldstream Guards

Born: 14 May 1832, Wadley, Berkshire
Died: 5 April 1890, Denham, Middlesex

Citation: For distinguished gallantry whilst in command of the sharpshooters furnished by the Coldstream Guards, on the 28th October, 1854, on the occasion of "the powerful sortie on the 2nd Division," when he held the Windmill Ravine, below the Picquet House, against a much larger force of the enemy. The party of sharpshooters then under his command killed thirty-eight (one an officer) and took three prisoners of the enemy, (of the latter, one an Officer) Major Goodlake being the sole Officer in command.
Also, for distinguished gallantry on the occasion of the surprise of a picquet of the enemy, in November, at the bottom of the Windmill Ravine, by the sharpshooters, under his sole leading and command, when the knapsacks and rifles of the enemy's party fell into his hands.

[London Gazette issue 21971 dated 24 Feb 1857, published 24 Feb 1857.]

Medal of Honor: Henrechon, Volz, Catherwood and Harrison


Machinist's Mate Second Class, US Navy; USS Pampanga (PG 39)

Born: 22 November 1885, Hartford, Connecticut
Died: 16 August 1929, Hartford, Connecticut

Citation: While attached to the U.S.S. Pampang, Henrechon was one of a shore party moving in to capture Mundang, Philippine Islands, on 24 September 1911. Ordered to take station within 100 yards of a group of nipa huts close to the trail, Henrechon advanced and stood guard as the leader and his scout party first searched the surrounding deep grasses, then moved into the open area before the huts. Instantly enemy Moros opened point-blank fire on the exposed men and approximately 20 Moros rushed the small group from inside the huts and from other concealed positions. Henrechon, responding to the calls for help, was one of the first on the scene. When his rifle jammed after the first shot, he closed in with rifle, using it as a club to break the stock over the head of the nearest Moro and then, drawing his pistol, started in pursuit of the fleeing outlaws. Henrechon's aggressive charging of the enemy under heavy fire and in the face of great odds contributed materially to the success of the engagement.


Carpenter's Mate Third Class, US Navy; USS Pampanga (PG 39)

Born: 23 June 1889, Sutton, Nebraska
Died: 22 July 1965, Portland, Oregon

Citation: While attached to the U.S.S. Pampang, Volz was one of a shore party moving in to capture Mundang, on the island of Basilan, Philippine Islands, on 24 September 1911. Investigating a group of nipa huts close to the trail, the advance scout party was suddenly taken under point-blank fire and rushed by approximately 20 enemy Moros attacking from inside the huts and other concealed positions. Volz responded instantly to calls for help and, finding all members of the scout party writhing on the ground but still fighting, he blazed his rifle into the outlaws with telling effect, destroying several of the Moros and assisting in the rout of the remainder. By his aggressive charging of the enemy under heavy fire and in the face of great odds, Volz contributed materially to the success of the engagement.


Ordinary Seaman, US Navy; USS Pampanga (PG 39)

Born: 7 August 1888, Springfield, Illinois
Died: 18 December 1930, Springfield, Illinois

Citation: While attached to the U.S.S. Pampang, Catherwood was one of a shore party moving in to capture Mundang, on the island of Basilan, Philippine Islands, on the morning of 24 September 1911. Advancing with the scout party to reconnoiter a group of nipa huts close to the trail, Catherwood unhesitatingly entered the open area before the huts, where his party was suddenly taken under point-blank fire and charged by approximately 20 enemy Moros coming out from inside the native huts and from other concealed positions. Struck down almost instantly by the outlaws' deadly fire, Catherwood, although unable to rise, rallied to the defense of his leader and fought desperately to beat off the hostile attack. By his valiant effort under fire and in the face of great odds, Catherwood contributed materially toward the destruction and rout of the enemy.


Seaman, US Navy; USS Pampanga (PG 39)

Born: 26 April 1886, Savannah, Tennessee
Died: 26 January 1952, Savannah, Tennessee

Citation: While attached to the U.S.S. Pampang, Harrison was one of a shore party moving in to capture Mundang, on the island of Basilan, Philippine Islands, on 24 September 1911. Harrison instantly responded to the calls for help when the advance scout party investigating a group of nipa huts close to the trail, was suddenly taken under point-blank fire and rushed by approximately 20 enemy Moros attacking from inside the huts and from other concealed positions. Armed with a double-barreled shotgun, he concentrated his blasting fire on the outlaws, destroying 3 of the Moros and assisting in the rout of the remainder. By his aggressive charging of the enemy under heavy fire and in the face of great odds, Harrison contributed materially to the success of the engagement.

Note: Hospital Apprentice Fred H McGuire also received the Medal of Honor for this action.