28 February 2011

RIP: Frank Buckles

Frank Woodruff Buckles
1 Feb 1901 – 27 Feb 2011

The last surviving US veteran of World War I has died. ZUI this article from Fox News:
He was repeatedly rejected by military recruiters and got into uniform at 16 after lying about his age. But Frank Buckles would later become the last surviving U.S. veteran of World War I.

Buckles, who also survived being a civilian POW in the Philippines in World War II, died of natural causes Sunday at his home in Charles Town, biographer and family spokesman David DeJonge said in a statement. He was 110.


More than 4.7 million people joined the U.S. military from 1917-18. As of spring 2007, only three were still alive, according to a tally by the Department of Veterans Affairs: Buckles, J. Russell Coffey of Ohio and Harry Richard Landis of Florida.


Coffey died Dec. 20, 2007, at age 109, while Landis died Feb. 4, 2008, at 108. Unlike Buckles, those two men were still in basic training in the United States when the war ended and did not make it overseas.

The last known Canadian veteran of the war, John Babcock of Spokane, Wash., died in February 2010.

There are no French or German veterans of the war left alive.

Buckles served in England and France, working mainly as a driver and a warehouse clerk. The fact he did not see combat didn't diminish his service, he said: "Didn't I make every effort?"


He married in 1946 and moved to his farm in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle in 1954, where he and wife Audrey raised their daughter, Susannah Flanagan. Audrey Buckles died in 1999.

ZUI also this article from Voice of America News:
Buckles wanted to serve when World War I broke out, and his lie to the recruiter made it possible. Shortly afterward, at age 16, he deployed to Europe as an ambulance driver. He saw the horror of war close up, ferrying the wounded from the trenches to primitive field hospitals. Later, he drove German prisoners back to Germany.

Buckles left the army in 1920 and years later he went to work for a shipping company in the Philippines. When World War II broke out, he and other Americans there were put in prison camps by the occupying Japanese forces. Although he was not a soldier at that time, he spent more than three years in the notorious Los Baňos prison.

According to Wikipedia, there are now only two surviving WWI veterans: Claude Choules, in Australia, who served with the Royal Navy,* and Women's Royal Air Force veteran Florence Green. The last Italian veteran, Delfino Borroni, died on 26 Oct 08; the last Australian, John Campbell Ross, on 3 Jun 09; the last French veteran, Pierre Picault, on 20 Nov 08, and the last Canadian, John Babcock, on 18 Feb 2010. On the other side, the last German veteran, Erich Kästner, died on 1 Jan 08; the last Turkish veteran, Yakup Satar, on 2 Apr 2008; and the last Austro-Hungarian veteran, Franz Künstler, on 27 May 2008. (Künstler was born in Hungary; the last Austrian-born survivor was August Bischof, who died on 4 March 2006.)

* Choules also served in World War II, with the Royal Australian Navy.

27 February 2011

Victoria Cross: Lindsay, M'Kechnie and Reynolds


Brevet Major, Scots Fusilier Guards

Born: 17 April 1832, Balcarres, Fife, Scotland
Died: 10 June 1901, Wantage, Berkshire

Citation: When the formation of the line of the Regiment was disordered at Alma [on 20 Sep 1854], Captain Lindsay stood firm with the Colours, and by his example and energy, greatly tended to restore order.
At Inkerman [on 5 November 1854], at a most trying moment, he, with a few men, charged a party of Russians, driving them back, and running one through the body himself.

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


Serjeant, Scots Fusilier Guards

Born: June 1826, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland
Died: 5 July 1886, Glasgow, Scotland

Citation: When the formation of the Regiment was disordered at Alma [on 20 Sep 1854], for having behaved gallantly, and rallied the men round the Colours.

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


Private, Scots Fusilier Guards

Born: 1827, Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: 20 October 1869, Strand, Centre London

Citation: When the formation of the line was disordered at Alma [on 20 Sep 1854], for having behaved in a conspicuous manner in rallying the men round the Colours.

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

Medal of Honor: E. Childers


Second Lieutenant, US Army; 45th Infantry Division

Born: 1 February 1918, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Died: 17 March 2005

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action on 22 September 1943, at Oliveto, Italy. Although 2d Lt. Childers previously had just suffered a fractured instep he, with 8 enlisted men, advanced up a hill toward enemy machinegun nests. The group advanced to a rock wall overlooking a cornfield and 2d Lt. Childers ordered a base of fire laid across the field so that he could advance. When he was fired upon by 2 enemy snipers from a nearby house he killed both of them. He moved behind the machinegun nests and killed all occupants of the nearer one. He continued toward the second one and threw rocks into it. When the 2 occupants of the nest raised up, he shot 1. The other was killed by 1 of the 8 enlisted men. 2d Lt. Childers continued his advance toward a house farther up the hill, and single-handed, captured an enemy mortar observer. The exceptional leadership, initiative, calmness under fire, and conspicuous gallantry displayed by 2d Lt. Childers were an inspiration to his men.

20 February 2011

Victoria Cross: T. Edwards


Private, 1st Battalion, Royal Highlanders

Born: 19 April 1863, Brill, Buckinghamshire
Died: 27 March 1952, Woodford Bridge, London

Citation: For the conspicuous bravery displayed by him in defence of one of the guns of the Naval Brigade, at the battle of Tamai, on 13th March, 1884.
This man (who was attached to the Naval Brigade as Mule Driver) was beside the gun with Lieutenant Almack, R.N., and a blue jacket. Both the latter were killed, and Edwards, after bayonetting two Arabs, and himself receiving a wound with a spear, rejoined the ranks with his mules, and subsequently did good service in remaining by his gun throughout the action.

[London Gazette issue 25356 dated 21 May 1884, published 21 May 1884.]

Medal of Honor: R. I. Bong


Major, US Army Air Corps; V Fighter Command

Born: 24 September 1920, Poplar, Wisconsin
Died: 6 August 1945, North Hollywood, California

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty in the Southwest Pacific area from 10 October to 15 November 1944. Though assigned to duty as gunnery instructor and neither required nor expected to perform combat duty, Maj. Bong voluntarily and at his own urgent request engaged in repeated combat missions, including unusually hazardous sorties over Balikpapan, Borneo, and in the Leyte area of the Philippines. His aggressiveness and daring resulted in his shooting down 8 enemy airplanes during this period.

Note: Major Bong was killed when the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star he was flying crashed following a fuel-pump malfunction.

Richard I Bong AFB, Wisconsin, was named in his honour. The uncompleted base was closed in 1960, and is now the Richard Bong State Recreation Area.

15 February 2011

The Cybils: 2010 winners

The winners of the 2010 Cybils (Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards) were announced yesterday:
Elementary & Middle Grade Fiction

Picture Books
Interrupting Chicken, by David Ezra Stein

Nonfiction Picture Books
The Extraordinary Life of Mark Twain (According to Susy), by Barbara Kerley

Easy Readers
We Are in a Book!, by Mo Willems

Short Chapter Books
Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Takes Off, written by Jacqueline Jules and illustrated by Miguel Benitez

Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse, written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Josée Masse

Graphic Novels
Meanwhile: Pick Any Path. 3856 Story Possibilities, by Jason Shiga

Fantasy & Science Fiction
The Shadows (The Books of Elsewhere, Vol 1), by Jacqueline West

Middle Grade Fiction
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, by Tom Angleberger

Young Adult

The Secret of the Yellow Death: A True Story of Medical Sleuthing, by Suzanne Jurmain

Graphic Novels
Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty, written by G Neri and illustrated by Randy duBurke

Fantasy & Science Fiction
Rot & Ruin, by Jonathan Maberry

Young Adult Fiction
Split, by Swati Avasthi

Congratulations to all the winners! Not sure about the others, but I'm definitely going to be checking our public library for The Shadows.

The post linked to above includes comments on each book. Links to the complete list of finalists (by category) can be found here, and a sidebar there links to complete lists of nominees.

13 February 2011

Victoria Cross: F. A. Maxwell


Lieutenant, Indian Staff Corps, attached Roberts's Light Horse

Born: 7 September 1871, Guildford, Surrey
Died: 21 September 1917, Ypres, Belgium

Citation: Lieutenant Maxwell was one of three Officers not belonging to "Q" Battery, Royal Horse Artillery, specially mentioned by Lord Roberts as having shown the greatest gallantry, and disregard of danger, in carrying out the self-imposed duty of saving the guns of that Battery during the affair at Korn Spruit on 31st March, 1900. This Officer went out on five different occasions and assisted to bring in two guns and three limbers, one of which he, Captain Humphreys, and some Gunners, dragged in by hand.
He also went out with Captain Humphreys and Lieutenant Stirling to try to get the last gun in, and remained there till the attempt was abandoned.
During a previous Campaign (the Chitral Expedition of 1895) Lieutenant Maxwell displayed gallantry in the removal of the body of Lieutenant-Colonel F. D. Battye, Corps of Guides, under fire, for which, though recommended, he received no reward.

[London Gazette issue 27292 dated 8 Mar 1901, published 8 Mar 1901.]

Note: Major E J Phipps-Hornby, Sergeant C E H Parker, Gunner I Lodge and Driver H H Glasock, all of Q Battery, RHA, also received the Victoria Cross for this action.

Medal of Honor: W. F. Lukes and J. F. Merton


Landsman, US Navy; USS Colorado

Born: 18 February 1847, Niderbergdorf, Bohemia
Died: 13 December 1923, Los Angeles, California

Citation: Served with Company D during the capture of the Korean forts [on the Han River], 9 and 10 June 1871. Fighting the enemy inside the fort, Lukes received a severe cut over the head.


Landsman, US Navy; USS Colorado

Born: 1843, Cheshire, England
Died: unknown

Citation: Landsman and member of Company D during the capture of the Korean forts [on the Han River], 9 and 10 June 1871, Merton was severely wounded in the arm while trying to force his way into the fort.

Note: This action was a result of an attack by Korean shore batteries on two American warships in the Ganghwa Straits on 1 June 1871.

06 February 2011

George Cross: J. R. O. Thompson


Captain, Royal Army Medical Corps

Born: 13 July 1911
Died: 24 January 1944, Anzio, Italy

Citation: The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the GEORGE CROSS, in recognition of most conspicuous gallantry in carrying out hazardous work in a very brave manner, to: —
Captain Jenkin Robert Oswald Thompson (115213), Royal Army Medical Corps (Claygate, Surrey).

[London Gazette issue 36918 dated 2 Feb 1945, published 30 Jan 1945.]

Note: Captain Thompson was serving aboard HM Hospital Ship St David when that vessel was attacked by enemy dive bombers off Anzio. With the ship rapidly sinking, Thompson organised parties to remove the wounded to safety in nearby boats. One patient in Thompson's ward remained trapped belowdecks when the order was given for all to save themselves. Thompson returned alone to attempt to save this man. Unable to do so, he remained with him, and both men died when the ship went down.

Victoria Cross: Unwin, Malleson, Drewry, Williams, Samson and Tisdall

Commander, Royal Navy; commanding SS River Clyde

Born: 17 March 1864, Fawley
Died: 19 April 1950, Hindhead, Surrey


Midshipman, Royal Navy; SS River Clyde

Born: 17 September 1896, Kirkee, India
Died: 21 July 1975, St Clement, Cornwall


Midshipman, Royal Naval Reserve; SS River Clyde

Born: 3 November 1894, Forest Gate
Died: 3 August 1918, Scapa Flow, Orkneys


Able Seaman, Royal Navy; SS River Clyde

Born: 15 September 1880, Stanton Lacy, Shropshire
Died: 25 April 1915, 'V' Beach, Gallipoli, Turkey


Seaman, Royal Naval Reserve; SS River Clyde

Born: 7 January 1889, Carnoustie, Angus, Scotland
Died: 23 February 1923, Bermuda

Joint Citation: The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the grant of the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned Officers and men for the conspicuous acts, of bravery mentioned in the foregoing despatch: —
Commander Edward Unwin, R.N.
Midshipman Wilfred St. Aubyn Malleson, R.N.
Midshipman George Leslie Drewry, R.N.R.
Able Seaman William Chas. Williams, O.N. 186774 (R.F.R. B.3766) (since killed).
Seaman R.N.R. George McKenzie Samson, O.N. 2408A.

[London Gazette issue 29264 dated 16 Aug 1915, published 13 Aug 1915.]

Williams's medals


Sub-Lieutenant, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve; Anson Battalion, Royal Naval Division

Born: 21 July 1890, Bombay, India,
Died: 6 May 1915, Achi Baba, Gallipoli, Turkey

Citation: The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the grant of the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned Officer in recognition of his most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty:—
Sub-Lieutenant Arthur Waldene St. Clair Tisdall, R.N.V.R. (killed in action).
During the landing from the S.S. "River Clyde" at V Beach in the Gallipoli Peninsula on the 25th April, 1915, Sub-Lieutenant Tisdall, hearing wounded men on the beach calling for assistance, jumped into the water and, pushing a boat in front of him, went to their rescue. He was, however, obliged to obtain help, and took with him on two trips Leading Seaman Malia and on other trips Chief Petty Officer Perring and Leading Seamen Curtiss and Parkinson. In all Sub-Lieutenant Tisdall made four or five trips between the ship and the shore, and was thus responsible for rescuing several wounded men under heavy and accurate fire.
Owing to the fact that Sub-Lieutenant Tisdall and the platoon under his orders were on detached service at the time, and that this Officer was killed in action on the 6th May, it has only now been possible to obtain complete information as to the individuals who took part in this gallant act. Of these, Leading Seaman Fred Curtiss, O.N. Dev. 1899, has been missing since the 4th June, 1915.

[London Gazette issue 29530 dated 31 Mar 1916, published 31 Mar 1916.]

The despatch mentioned in the citation for Unwin, et al, included the following:
Commander Edward Unwin, R.N.
While in "River Clyde," observing that the lighters which were to form the bridge to the shore had broken adrift, Commander Unwin left the ship and under a murderous fire attempted to get the lighters into position. He worked on until, suffering from the effects of cold and immersion, he was obliged to return to the ship, where he was wrapped up in blankets. Having in some degree recovered, he returned to his work against the doctor's order and completed it. He was later again attended by the doctor for three abrasions caused by bullets, after which he once more left the ship, this time in a lifeboat, to save some wounded men who were lying in shallow water near the beach. He continued at this heroic labour under continuous fire, until forced to stop through pure physical exhaustion.
Midshipman George L. Drewry, R.N.R.
Assisted Commander Unwin at the work of securing the lighters under heavy rifle and maxim fire. He was wounded in the head, but continued his work and twice subsequently attempted to swim from lighter to lighter with a line.
Midshipman Wilfred St. A. Malleson, R.N.
Also assisted Commander Unwin, and after Midshipman Drewry had failed from exhaustion to get a line from lighter to lighter, he swam with it himself and succeeded. The line subsequently broke, and he afterwards made two further but unsuccessful attempts at his self-imposed task.
Able Seaman William Chas. Williams, O.N. 186774 (R.F.R. B.3766).
Held on to a line in the water for over an hour under heavy fire, until killed.
Seaman R.N.R. George McKenzie Samson, O.N. 2408A.
Worked on a lighter all day under fire, attending wounded and getting out lines; he was eventually dangerously wounded by maxim fire.

Notes: River Clyde was a 4000-ton collier used as a transport to land some 2000 men of the 1st Battalion, Royal Munster Fusiliers, at Cape Helles on 25 April 1915, during the Battle of Gallipoli.
Tisdall's middle name is spelt "Waldene" in the Gazette, but most sources give it as "Walderne."

Medal of Honor: A. W. Knappenberger


Private First Class, US Army; 3d Infantry Division

Born: 31 December 1923, Cooperstown, Pennsylvania
Died: 9 June 2008

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action involving actual conflict with the enemy, on 1 February 1944 near Cisterna di Littoria, Italy. When a heavy German counterattack was launched against his battalion, Pfc. Knappenberger crawled to an exposed knoll and went into position with his automatic rifle. An enemy machinegun 85 yards away opened fire, and bullets struck within 6 inches of him. Rising to a kneeling position, Pfc. Knappenberger opened fire on the hostile crew, knocked out the gun, killed 2 members of the crew, and wounded the third. While he fired at this hostile position, 2 Germans crawled to a point within 20 yards of the knoll and threw potato-masher grenades at him, but Pfc. Knappenberger killed them both with 1 burst from his automatic rifle. Later, a second machinegun opened fire upon his exposed position from a distance of 100 yards, and this weapon also was silenced by his well-aimed shots. Shortly thereafter, an enemy 20mm. antiaircraft gun directed fire at him, and again Pfc. Knappenberger returned fire to wound 1 member of the hostile crew. Under tank and artillery shellfire, with shells bursting within 15 yards of him, he held his precarious position and fired at all enemy infantrymen armed with machine pistols and machineguns which he could locate. When his ammunition supply became exhausted, he crawled 15 yards forward through steady machinegun fire, removed rifle clips from the belt of a casualty, returned to his position and resumed firing to repel an assaulting German platoon armed with automatic weapons. Finally, his ammunition supply being completely exhausted, he rejoined his company. Pfc. Knappenberger's intrepid action disrupted the enemy attack for over 2 hours.

03 February 2011

Book list - Jan 11

Elleander Morning - AH, by Jerry Yulsman *
Caesars' Wives: Sex, Power, and Politics in the Roman Empire - ancient history, by Annelise Freisenbruch
Six Geese A-Slaying - mystery, by Donna Andrews
Murder with Peacocks - mystery, by Donna Andrews
Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon - mystery, by Donna Andrews
Discord's Apple - modern fantasy, by Carrie Vaughn
Firestorm! - children's historical fiction, by Joan Hiatt Harlow
Dreadnought - AH, by Cherie Priest
Maria: My Own Story - memoirs, by Maria von Trapp
The Masterharper of Pern - SF, by Anne McCaffrey

Ten books last month, with only one reread (marked by an asterisk). I haven't set an official goal this year, though I do expect to read around 200 books.

No Carnegie Medal winners this time round, so I'm still at 48 of 71. But I've started reading this year's Newbery Medal winner, Moon Over Manifest....