28 August 2011

Victoria Cross: C. Mansel-Jones


Captain, The West Yorkshire Regiment

Born: 14 June 1871, Beddrington, Surrey
Died:29 May 1942, Brockenhurst, Hampshire

Citation: On the 27th February, 1900, during the assault on Terrace Hill, north of the Tugela, in Natal, the companies of the West Yorkshire Regiment on the northern slope of the hill met with a severe shell, Vickers-Maxim, and rifle fire, and their advance was for a few moments checked. Captain C. Hansel-Jones, however, by his strong initiative, restored confidence, and, in spite of his falling very seriously wounded, the men took the whole ridge without further check, this Officer's self-sacrificing devotion to duty at a critical moment having averted what might have proved a serious check to the whole assault.

[London Gazette issue 27214 dated 27 Jul 1900, published 27 Jul 1900.]

Medal of Honor: Y. Kobashigawa


Technical Sergeant, US Army; Company F, 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate)

Born: 28 September 1917, Hilo, Territory of Hawai`i
Died: 31 March 2005

Citation: Technical Sergeant Yeiki Kobashigawa distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 2 June 1944, in the vicinity of Lanuvio, Italy. During an attack, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa's platoon encountered strong enemy resistance from a series of machine guns providing supporting fire. Observing a machine gun nest 50 yards from his position, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa crawled forward with one of his men, threw a grenade and then charged the enemy with his submachine gun while a fellow soldier provided covering fire. He killed one enemy soldier and captured two prisoners. Meanwhile, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa and his comrade were fired upon by another machine gun 50 yards ahead. Directing a squad to advance to his first position, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa again moved forward with a fellow soldier to subdue the second machine gun nest. After throwing grenades into the position, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa provided close supporting fire while a fellow soldier charged, capturing four prisoners. On the alert for other machine gun nests, Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa discovered four more, and skillfully led a squad in neutralizing two of them. Technical Sergeant Kobashigawa's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.

Note: Kobashigawa was presented the Medal of Honor, upgraded from a Distinguished Service Cross, by President Clinton in 2000, following a review of the records of Asian-American soldiers who served in World War II.

21 August 2011

Victoria Cross: J. M. Smith


Lieutenant, Indian Staff Corps

Born: 30 August 1864, Lahore, India
Died: 6 January 1920, Central London

Citation: For his conspicuous bravery when leading the storming party at the attack and capture of the strong position occupied by the enemy near Nilt, in the Hunza-Nagar Country, on the 20th December, 1891.
The position was, owing to the nature of the country, an extremely strong one, and had barred the advance of the force for seventeen days. It was eventually forced by a small party of 50 rifles, with another of equal strength in support. The first of these parties was under the command of Lieutenant Smith, and it was entirely owing to his splended leading, and the coolness, combined with dash, he displayed while doing so, that a success was obtained. For nearly four hours, on the face of a cliff which was almost precipitous, he steadily moved his handful of men from point to point, as the difficulties of the ground and showers of stones from above gave him an opportunity, and during the whole of this time he was in such a position as to be unable to defend himself from any attack the enemy might choose to make.
He was the first man to reach the summit, within a few yards of one of the enemy's sungars, which was immediately rushed, Lieutenant Smith pistolling the first man.

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

Note: Nilt is a town in northern Pakistan. Lahore, where Smith (later Lt-Col J M Smith VC CIE CVO) was born, is also now in Pakistan.

Medal of Honor: R. H. Wilkins


Major, US Army Air Corps

Born: 28 September 1917, Portsmouth, Virginia
Died: 2 November 1943, near Rabaul, New Britain

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy near Rabaul, New Britain, on 2 November 1943. Leading his squadron in an attack on shipping in Simpson Harbor, during which intense antiaircraft fire was expected, Maj. Wilkins briefed his squadron so that his airplane would be in the position of greatest risk. His squadron was the last of 3 in the group to enter the target area. Smoke from bombs dropped by preceding aircraft necessitated a last-second revision of tactics on his part, which still enabled his squadron to strike vital shipping targets, but forced it to approach through concentrated fire, and increased the danger of Maj. Wilkins' left flank position. His airplane was hit almost immediately, the right wing damaged, and control rendered extremely difficult. Although he could have withdrawn, he held fast and led his squadron into the attack. He strafed a group of small harbor vessels, and then, at low level, attacked an enemy destroyer. His 1,000 pound bomb struck squarely amidships, causing the vessel to explode. Although antiaircraft fire from this vessel had seriously damaged his left vertical stabilizer, he refused to deviate from the course. From below-masthead height he attacked a transport of some 9,000 tons, scoring a hit which engulfed the ship in flames. Bombs expended, he began to withdraw his squadron. A heavy cruiser barred the path. Unhesitatingly, to neutralize the cruiser's guns and attract its fire, he went in for a strafing run. His damaged stabilizer was completely shot off. To avoid swerving into his wing planes he had to turn so as to expose the belly and full wing surfaces of his plane to the enemy fire; it caught and crumpled his left wing. Now past control, the bomber crashed into the sea. In the fierce engagement Maj. Wilkins destroyed 2 enemy vessels, and his heroic self-sacrifice made possible the safe withdrawal of the remaining planes of his squadron.

Note: New Britain was then a part of the Territory of New Guinea, a former German colony controlled by Australia under a League of Nations mandate. It is now part of Papua New Guinea.

20 August 2011

100 years

Today would have been my father's 100th birthday.

20 Aug 1911 - 15 Apr 1970


15 August 2011

Medal of Honor to be presented next month

According to CNN, Corporal Dakota Meyer - the first living Marine to receive the Medal of Honor since Sergeant Major Allan Kellogg received his on 15 October 1973 - will be presented with the Medal at the White House on 15 September.

ZUI also this article from the Navy Times.

Living Medal of Honor recipients

Left to right: Army, Navy/Marine Corps and Air Force Medals of Honor

In yesterday's post about Charles Murray, I said that there are now 84 surviving MoH recipients. The complete list, with links to individual pages, can be found at the CMOHS site here; below is a simplified list, like that which I posted a year ago.

World War II

Van T Barfoot, Second Lieutenant, US Army
Mike Colalillo, Private First Class, US Army
Charles H Coolidge, Technical Sergeant, US Army
Francis S Currey, Sergeant, US Army
Walter D Ehlers, Staff Sergeant, US Army
John D Hawk, Sergeant, US Army
Daniel K Inouye, Second Lieutenant, US Army
Arthur J Jackson, Private First Class, US Marine Corps
Robert D Maxwell, Technician Fifth Grade, US Army
Vernon McGarity, Technical Sergeant, US Army
Nicholas Oresko, Master Sergeant, US Army
Wilburn K Ross, Private, US Army
George T Sakato, Private, US Army
Hershel W Williams, Corporal, US Marine Corps

Korean War

Hector A Cafferata Jr, Private, US Marine Corps
William R Charette, Hospital Corpsman Third Class, US Navy
Duane E Dewey, Corporal, US Marine Corps
Rodolfo P Hernandez, Corporal, US Army
Thomas J Hudner Jr, Lieutenant, US Navy
Einar H Ingman Jr, Sergeant, US Army
Hiroshi H Miyamura, Corporal, US Army
Ola L Mize, Master Sergeant, US Army
Ronald E Rosser, Corporal, US Army
Tibor Rubin, Corporal, US Army
Robert E Simanek, Private First Class, US Marine Corps
James L Stone, First Lieutenant, US Army
Ernest E West, Private First Class, US Army

Vietnam War

John P Baca, Specialist Fourth Class, US Army
John F Baker Jr, Sergeant, US Army
Donald E Ballard, Hospital Corpsman Second Class, US Navy
Harvey C Barnum Jr, Captain, US Marine Corps
Gary B Beikirch, Sergeant, US Army
Patrick H Brady, Major, US Army
Paul W Bucha, Captain, US Army
Jon R Cavaiani, Staff Sergeant, US Army
Bruce P Crandall, Major, US Army
Sammy L Davis, Sergeant, US Army
George E Day, Colonel, US Air Force
Drew D Dix, Staff Sergeant, US Army
Roger H C Donlon, Captain, US Army
Frederick E Ferguson, Chief Warrant Officer, US Army
Bernard F Fisher, Major, US Air Force
Michael J Fitzmaurice, Specialist Fourth Class, US Army
James P Fleming, Captain, US Air Force
Robert F Foley, Captain, US Army
Wesley L Fox, Captain, US Marine Corps
Harold A Fritz, Captain, US Army
Charles C Hagemeister, Specialist Fifth Class, US Army
Frank A Herda, Specialist Fourth Class, US Army
Robert R Ingram, Hospital Corpsman Third Class, US Navy
Joe M Jackson, Lieutenant Colonel, US Air Force
Jack H Jacobs, Captain, US Army
Don J Jenkins, Staff Sergeant, US Army
Thomas G Kelley, Lieutenant Commander, US Navy
Allan J Kellogg Jr, Gunnery Sergeant, US Marine Corps
Joseph R Kerrey, Lieutenant (Junior Grade), US Navy
Thomas J Kinsman, Specialist Fourth Class, US Army
Howard V Lee, Major, US Marine Corps
Peter C Lemon, Sergeant, US Army
Angelo J Liteky, Captain, US Army
Gary L Littrell, Sergeant First Class, US Army
James E Livingston, Captain, US Marine Corps
Allen J Lynch, Sergeant, US Army
Walter J Marm Jr, First Lieutenant, US Army
John J McGinty III, Second Lieutenant, US Marine Corps
Robert J Modrzejewski, Major, US Marine Corps
Thomas R Norris, Lieutenant, US Navy
Robert E O'Malley, Sergeant, US Marine Corps
Robert M Patterson, Sergeant, US Army
Richard A Pittman, Sergeant, US Marine Corps
Alfred V Rascon, Specialist Fourth Class, US Army
Ronald E Ray, Captain, US Army
Gordon R Roberts, Sergeant, US Army
Clarence E Sasser, Specialist Fifth Class, US Army
James M Sprayberry, Captain, US Army
Kenneth E Stumpf, Specialist Fourth Class, US Army
James A Taylor, Captain, US Army
Brian M Thacker, First Lieutenant, US Army
Michael E Thornton, Engineman Second Class, US Navy
Leo K Thorsness, Lieutenant, US Air Force
Jay R Vargas, Major, US Marine Corps
Gary G Wetzel, Specialist Fourth Class, US Army


Salvatore A Giunta, Specialist, US Army
Leroy A Petry, Staff Sergeant, US Army

That breaks down to:
14 World War II (12 Army, 2 Marine Corps)
13 Korean War (8 Army, 2 Navy and 3 Marine Corps)
55 Vietnam War (34 Army, 6 Navy, 10 Marine Corps and 5 Air Force)
2 Afghanistan (both Army)

(A Marine, Corporal Dakota Meyer, is to receive the MoH next month for his actions in Afghanistan.)

56 Army
8 Navy
15 Marine Corps
5 Air Force

(The only Coast Guardsman ever to be awarded the Medal, Signalman First Class Douglas A Munro, received it posthumously after his death at Guadalcanal in 1942.)

14 August 2011

RIP: Charles P Murray, Jr

Charles Patrick Murray, Jr
26 Sep 1921 – 12 Aug 2011

ZUI this article from The State (Columbia SC):
Col. Charles P. Murray Jr., who received the Medal of Honor, three Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars and the French Legion of Honor for valor in World War II, passed away at his Columbia home Friday. He was 89.


He is survived by his wife, Anne, son Brian of Fort Payne, Ala., and daughter Cynthia Anne of Roswell, Ga. Another son, Charles P. Murray III, of Columbia passed away in 2004.
Along with Audie Murphy, with whom he served, Murray was one of the most decorated soldiers in the most decorated division in the U.S. Army.
A Baltimore native raised in Wilmington, N.C., Murray was a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when he enlisted in the Army Sept. 7, 1942.
Murray joined the famed 3rd Infantry Division in 1944 after it went ashore in southern France in what is termed the Forgotten D-Day — two months after the more famous D-Day in Normandy. The 3rd Infantry Division — part of an invasion force of American, British, Dutch, Canadian, French and even Italian troops — landed at St. Tropez in France and advanced up the Rhone Valley.


His battalion was pinned down on a ridge under heavy fire by 200 well-entrenched Germans. Murray, using a variety of weapons, killed 20 enemy soldiers and captured 10 more, single-handedly driving the Germans from the position.
At the end of his assault, a German grenade riddled him with shrapnel, wounding him in eight places. He spent only four days in an aid station before “borrowing” a uniform and returning to his unit.

There are now 84 living Medal of Honor recipients.

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


First Lieutenant, US Army; Company C, 30th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division

Born: 26 September 1921, Baltimore, Maryland
Died: 12 August 2011, Columbia, South Carolina

Citation: For commanding Company C, 30th Infantry, displaying supreme courage and heroic initiative near Kaysersberg, France, on 16 December 1944, while leading a reinforced platoon into enemy territory. Descending into a valley beneath hilltop positions held by our troops, he observed a force of 200 Germans pouring deadly mortar, bazooka, machinegun, and small arms fire into an American battalion occupying the crest of the ridge. The enemy's position in a sunken road, though hidden from the ridge, was open to a flank attack by 1st Lt. Murray's patrol but he hesitated to commit so small a force to battle with the superior and strongly disposed enemy. Crawling out ahead of his troops to a vantage point, he called by radio for artillery fire. His shells bracketed the German force, but when he was about to correct the range his radio went dead. He returned to his patrol, secured grenades and a rifle to launch them and went back to his self-appointed outpost. His first shots disclosed his position; the enemy directed heavy fire against him as he methodically fired his missiles into the narrow defile. Again he returned to his patrol. With an automatic rifle and ammunition, he once more moved to his exposed position. Burst after burst he fired into the enemy, killing 20, wounding many others, and completely disorganizing its ranks, which began to withdraw. He prevented the removal of 3 German mortars by knocking out a truck. By that time a mortar had been brought to his support. 1st Lt. Murray directed fire of this weapon, causing further casualties and confusion in the German ranks. Calling on his patrol to follow, he then moved out toward his original objective, possession of a bridge and construction of a roadblock. He captured 10 Germans in foxholes. An eleventh, while pretending to surrender, threw a grenade which knocked him to the ground, inflicting 8 wounds. Though suffering and bleeding profusely, he refused to return to the rear until he had chosen the spot for the block and had seen his men correctly deployed. By his single-handed attack on an overwhelming force and by his intrepid and heroic fighting, 1st Lt. Murray stopped a counterattack, established an advance position against formidable odds, and provided an inspiring example for the men of his command.

Victoria Cross: A. D. Home and W. Bradshaw


Surgeon, 90th Regiment

Born: 30 November 1826, Dunbar, East Lothian, Scotland
Died: 10 August 1914, Kensington, West London

Citation: For persevering bravery and admirable conduct in charge of the wounded men left behind the column, when the troops under the late Major-General Havelock, forced their way into the Residency of Lucknow, on the 26th September, 1857. The escort left with the wounded had, by casualties, been reduced to a few stragglers, and being entirely separated from the column, this small party with the wounded were forced into a house, in which they defended themselves till it was set on fire. They then retreated to a shed a few yards from it, and in this place continued to defend themselves for more than twenty-two hours, till relieved. At last, only six men and Mr. Home remained to fire. Of four officers who were with the party, all were badly wounded, and three are since dead. The conduct of the defence during the latter part of the time devolved therefore on Mr. Home, and to his active exertions previously to being forced into the house, and his good conduct throughout, the safety of any of the wounded, and the successful defcnce, is mainly to be attributed.

[London Gazette issue 22174 dated 18 Jun 1858, published 18 Jun 1858.]


Assistant Surgeon, 90th Regiment

Born: 12 February 1830, Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland
Died: 9 March 1861, Thurles, Co Tipperary, Ireland

Citation: For intrepidity and good conduct when, ordered with Surgeon Home, 90th Regiment, to remove the wounded men left behind the column that forced its way into the Residency of Lucknow, on the 26th September, 1857. The dooly bearers had left the doolies, but by great exertions, and notwithstanding the close proximity of the sepoys, Surgeon Home, and Assistant-Surgeon Bradshaw, got some of the bearers together, and Assistant-Surgeon Bradshaw with about twenty doolies, becoming separated from the rest of the party, succeeded in reaching the Residency in safety by the river bank.

[London Gazette issue 22174 dated 18 Jun 1858, published 18 Jun 1858.]

Medal of Honor: A. Jones


Chief Boatswain's Mate, U.S. Navy; USS Chickasaw

Born: 1835, Ireland
Died: unknown

Citation: Served as chief boatswain's mate on board the U.S. Ironclad, Chickasaw, Mobile Bay, 5 August 1864. Although his enlistment was up, Jones volunteered for the battle of Mobile Bay, going on board the Chickasaw from the Vincennes where he then carried out his duties gallantly throughout the engagement with the enemy which resulted in the capture of the rebel ram Tennessee.

13 August 2011

NPR's Top 100 SF and Fantasy books

National Public Radio (NPR) just announced the results of their poll poll to find the top 100 SF and fantasy books ever published. Some of these are actually series, not just single books. Bold numbers, as usual, indicate the ones I've read.

The Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels of All Time

1. The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, by J R R Tolkien
2. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams *
3. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert
5. A Song Of Ice And Fire series, by George R R Martin
6. 1984, by George Orwell
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov **
9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein *
18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss ***
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K Dick
22. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
23. The Dark Tower series, by Stephen King
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C Clarke
25. The Stand, by Stephen King
26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson ***
27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
28. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
29. The Sandman series, by Neil Gaiman
30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M Miller
36. The Time Machine, by H G Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H G Wells
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson ***
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K LeGuin
46. The Silmarillion, by J R R Tolkien *
47. The Once And Future King, by T H White
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
49. Childhood's End, by Arthur C Clarke
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S Beagle
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R Donaldson *
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold
60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
61. The Mote In God's Eye, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind ***
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E Feist **
67. The Shannara trilogy, by Terry Brooks
68. The Conan the Barbarian series, by R E Howard
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb ***
70. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson ***
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
73. The Legend Of Driz'zt series, by R A Salvatore
74. Old Man's War, by John Scalzi
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson ***
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C Clarke
77. The Kushiel's Legacy series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen series, by Steven Erikson ***
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
83. The Culture series, by Iain M Banks ***
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson ***
86. The Codex Alera series, by Jim Butcher
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander series, by Diana Gabaldan
90. The Elric saga, by Michael Moorcock
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
96. Lucifer's Hammer, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
99. The Xanth series, by Piers Anthony **
100. The Space trilogy, by C S Lewis

* Started it, but couldn't finish it. (Couldn't even finish one book, if it's a series.)
** Read at least one entire book in the series, but not all of them.
*** Never heard of it.

09 August 2011

RIP: Nancy Wake AC GM

Nancy Grace Augusta Wake AC GM
The White Mouse
30 Aug 1912 – 7 Aug 2011

ZUI this article from The Sydney Morning Herald:
Nancy Wake, whose remarkable exploits as a British agent with the French Resistance during the Second World War made her one of the most decorated servicewomen of that conflict, was born on August 30, 1912, in the back room of a weatherboard shack in Wellington, New Zealand.


In 1936, she met a Marseilles millionaire, Henri Fiocca, and she married him just after World War II broke out. She settled into his Marseilles mansion, leaving journalism behind. As the Nazis crossed the French border, Wake was appalled at the ''collaborationistes'' who advocated living as comfortably as possible within the Nazi yoke.

She was never so disposed herself and only a short time after the war began, became a courier for the local Resistance movement, shifting everything from simple messages and high-tech radio parts to well-secreted cells of partisans.


So busy was she that the Gestapo came to call her ''the White Mouse'', in part it seems because whenever they felt they had this beautiful woman cornered, she was able to disappear. Finally, though, the Gestapo came for her and she was only just able to escape before getting over the Pyrenees herself.

Her husband, however, was not so fortunate. After being arrested by the Gestapo, he refused to divulge her whereabouts or give an account of her activities and was summarily executed.


At 1 o'clock on the morning of March 31, 1943, she was parachuted back into France into the forests of Auvergne - just to the north of the town of Clermont-Ferrand - where 7000 partisans were to be found in separate groups.

Her mission was to judge the strength of the many separate bands and then radio London a heavily coded message as to what was needed in terms of munitions.


For her courage and feats during the war, Wake was awarded nine bravery medals, including the Medal of Freedom from the US, the George Medal from Britain and the Medaille de la Resistance from France. In a controversy that continued for the next five decades, she never received a medal from the Australian government on the simple grounds that she was not fighting for any of the Australian services during the war.

Despite that, in her latter years, the federal government did contact her from time to time to see if she would accept a medal. It was consistently rejected. When the Herald asked her about this in April 2000, she was typically blunt. ''The last time there was a suggestion of giving me [an Australian medal], I told the government they could stick their medals where the monkey stuck his nuts. The thing is, if they gave me a medal now, it wouldn't be given with love, so I don't want anything from them. They can bugger off.''

ZUI also this article from The Australian:
Wake helped recruit an additional 3000 fighters to build a force of about 7000. She led groups of these fighters on guerilla attacks against German troops, installations and equipment.

In one confrontation with German soldiers, she lost her radio and codes and, therefore, all ability to communicate with her controllers in Britain. It was a severe loss because without a radio she could not receive orders or advice about air drops, nor could she report the results of her sabotage missions.

It meant a hazardous bicycle ride of 500km through German checkpoints to replace her lost codes. It was a marathon effort that took more than 70 hours. "I got back and they said, 'How are you?'. I cried. I couldn't stand up, I couldn't sit down. I couldn't do anything. I just cried," Wake recalled.

The 1944 Normandy landings were approaching and the resistance was being primed to divert as many German troops as possible. Wake's groups were constantly on the move, sleeping rough and engaging the enemy in numerous firefights. Often, the local people suffered reprisals.

Wake was leading a force of more than 7000, a highly motivated army that was making life decidedly uncomfortable for about 22,000 German storm-troopers stationed in the Auvergne. In June 1944, the Germans attacked the resistance stronghold with the help of artillery and aircraft. At the end, about 1400 German soldiers lay dead; the resistance lost about 100.

During a later attack on an arms factory, Wake killed a sentry with a karate chop to the neck.

"They'd taught this judo-chop stuff with the flat of the hand at SOE, and I practised away at it. But this was the only time I used it -- whack -- and it killed him all right. I was really surprised."

There were sabotage missions, roadblocks and gun fights. Wake led an attack on Gestapo headquarters; she reputedly executed a woman who had been spying for the Germans.

In August, Paris was liberated and Wake's fighters celebrated in Vichy where she heard of her husband's fate.


The French government made her a Chevalier de Legion d'Honneur, awarded her the Croix de Guerre with star and two Palms, and the Medaille de la Resistance. The British gave her the George Medal and the US awarded her the Medal of Freedom with Palm. She was also entitled to wear the British 1939-45 Star, the France and Germany Star, the British War Medal 1939-45 and the Defence Medal. She also held the New Zealand Returned and Services Association's highest honour, the badge in Gold.

Despite representations from the Returned Services League, successive Australian governments refused to recognise her heroism with an award. That was rectified in March 2004 when governor-general Michael Jeffery presented her with a Companion of the Order of Australia.

07 August 2011

George Cross: M. Willetts


Sergeant, 3d Battalion The Parachute Regiment

Born: 13 August 1943, Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire
Died: 25 May 1971, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Citation: At 8.24 p.m. on the evening of 25th May 1971, a terrorist entered the reception hall of the Springfield Road Police Station in Belfast. He carried a suitcase from which a smoking fuse protruded, dumped it quickly on the floor and fled outside. Inside the room were a man and a woman, two children and several police officers.
One of the latter saw at once the smoking case and raised the alarm. The Police Officers began to organise the evacuation of the hall past the reception desk, through the reception office and out by a door into the rear passage.
Sergeant Michael Willetts was on duty in the inner hall. Hearing the alarm, he sent an N.C.O. up to the first floor to warn those above and hastened himself to the door towards which a Police Officer was thrusting those in the reception hall and office. He held the door open while all passed safely through and then stood in the doorway, shielding those taking cover. In the next moment, the bomb exploded with terrible force.
Sergeant Willetts was mortally wounded.
His duty did not require him to enter the threatened area: his post was elsewhere. He knew well, after 4 months' service in Belfast, the peril of going towards a terrorist bomb but he did not hesitate to do so. All those approaching the door from the far side agree that if they had had to check to open the door they would have perished. Even when they had reached the rear passage, Sergeant Willetts waited, placing his body as a screen to shelter them. By this considered act of bravery, he risked — and lost — his life for those of the adults and children. His selflessness, his courage are beyond praise.

[London Gazette issue 45404 dated 22 Jun 1971, published 21 Jun 1971.]

Victoria Cross: W. N. W. Hewett


Lieutenant, Royal Navy; HMS Beagle

Born: 12 August 1834, Brighton, Sussex
Died: 13 May 1888, RNH Haslar, Portsmouth, Hampshire

Citation: 1st. On the occasion of a repulse of a sortie of Russians by Sir De Lacy Evans' Division on the 26th October, 1854, Mr. Hewett, then Acting-Mate of Her Majesty's Ship "Beagle," was in charge of the Right Lancaster Battery before Sebastopol. The advance of the Russians placed the gun in great jeopardy, their skirmishers advancing within 300 yards of the Battery, and pouring in a sharp fire from their MiniƩ rifles. By some misapprehension the word was passed to spike the gun and retreat; but Mr. Hewett, taking upon himself the responsibility of disregarding the order, replied, that "Such order did not come from Captain Lushington, and he would not do it till it did." Mr. Hewett then pulled down the parapet of the Battery, and with the assistance of some soldiers, got his gun round, and poured upon the advancing column of Russians a most destructive and effective fire.
For the gallantry exhibited on this occasion, the Board of Admiralty promoted him to the rank of Lieutenant.
2nd. On the 5th November, 1854, at the Battle of Inkerman, Captain Lushington again brought before the Commander-in-chief the services of Mr. Hewett, saying, "I have much pleasure in again bringing Mr. Hewett's gallant conduct to your notice."
(Sir S. Lushington to Vice-Admiral Sir J. D. Dundas, inclosed in despatches of 1st November, 1854, and 8th November, 1854).

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

Note: At the timeof his death he was Vice Admiral Sir William Hewett VC KCB KCSI.

Medal of Honor: M. M. M. Van Iersel


Sergeant, US Army; Company M, 9th Infantry, 2d Division

Born: 19 October 1893, Holland
Died: 9 June 1987

Citation: While a member of the reconnaissance patrol, sent out at night to ascertain the condition of a damaged bridge [at Mouzon, France, on 9 November 1918], Sgt. Van Iersel volunteered to lead a party across the bridge in the face of heavy machinegun and rifle fire from a range of only 75 yards. Crawling alone along the debris of the ruined bridge he came upon a trap, which gave away and precipitated him into the water. In spite of the swift current he succeeded in swimming across the stream and found a lodging place among the timbers on the opposite bank. Disregarding the enemy fire, he made a careful investigation of the hostile position by which the bridge was defended and then returned to the other bank of the river, reporting this valuable information to the battalion commander.

01 August 2011

Book list - Jul 11

The Making of Man - children's palaeoanthropology, by Dr I W Cornwall (Carnegie Medal, 1960)
Jordan Freeman Was My Friend - children's historical fiction, by Richard White
Blind Justice - historical mystery, by Bruce Alexander
Stork Raving Mad - mystery, by Donna Andrews
The Kindling - YA postapocalyptic, by Jennifer Armstrong and Nancy Butcher
Side Jobs - modern fantasy (short stories), by Jim Butcher
Time of Trial - children's historical fiction, by Hester Burton (Carnegie Medal, 1963)
Once & Future Giants: What Ice Age Extinctions Tell Us About the Fate of Earth's Largest Animals - ecology, by Sharon Levy
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate - YA historical fiction, by Jacqueline Kelly
The Real Macaw - mystery, by Donna Andrews
Josh - children's, by Ivan Southall (Carnegie Medal, 1971)
A Flock of Ships - WWII fiction, by Brian Callison *

Twelve 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.

The three Carnegie Medal winners bring me up to 55 of 72. My thanks to the J Eugene Smith Library, Eastern Connecticut State College, Willimantic CT; the Connecticut State Library Library Service Centre, Willimantic CT; and the Fletcher Memorial Library, Hampton CT, for the ILLs.

FY12 CPO selectees

The list is out.

Was beginning to think I wouldn't see any names I knew, but finally found a nuc MM and a shower sonar tech, both from Prov. It's been eight years since I retired,* so between time and forgetfulness I imagine I won't see many more names I recognise on the CPO lists in the future....

Congratulations to all of the new selectees!

* Hard to believe it's been 16 years since I left Jax, 19 since I left Simon Lake and 22 since I left Oly!