30 January 2011

Victoria Cross: J. D. Baskeyfield

JOHN DANIEL BASKEYFIELD

Lance-Sergeant, The South Staffordshire Regiment (1st Airborne Division)

Born: 18 November 1922, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
Died: 20 September 1944, Oosterbeek, Netherlands

Citation: On 20th September, 1944, during the battle of Arnhem, Lance-Sergeant Baskeyfield was the N.C.O. in charge of a 6-pounder anti-tank gun at Oosterbeek. The enemy developed a major attack on this sector with infantry, tanks and self-propelled guns with the obvious intent to break into and overrun the Battalion position. During the early stage of the action the crew commanded by this N.C.O. was responsible for the destruction of two Tiger tanks and at least one self-propelled gun, thanks to the coolness and daring of this N.C.O., who, with complete disregard for his own safety, allowed each tank to come well within 100 yards of his gun before opening fire.
In the course of this preliminary engagement Lance-Sergeant Baskeyfield was badly wounded in the leg and the remainder of his crew were either killed or badly wounded. During the brief respite after this engagement Lance-Sergeant Baskeyfield refused to be carried to the Regimental Aid Post and spent his time attending to his gun and shouting encouragement to his comrades in neighbouring trenches.
After a short interval the enemy renewed the attack with even greater ferocity than before, under cover of intense mortar and shell fire. Manning his gun quite alone Lance-Sergeant Baskeyfield continued to fire round after round at the enemy until his gun was put out of action. By this time his activity was the main factor in keeping the enemy tanks at bay. The fact that the surviving men in his vicinity were held together and kept in action was undoubtedly due to his magnificent example and outstanding
courage. Time after time enemy attacks were launched and driven off. Finally, when his gun was knocked out, Lance Sergeant Baskeyfield crawled, under intense enemy fire, to another 6-pounder gun nearby, the crew of which had been killed, and proceeded to man it single-handed. With this gun he engaged an enemy self-propelled gun which was appoaching to attack. Another soldier crawled across the open ground to assist him but was killed almost at once. Lance-Sergeant Baskeyfield succeeded in firing two rounds at the self-propelled gun, scoring one direct hit which rendered it ineffective. Whilst preparing to fire a third shot, however, he was killed by a shell from a supporting enemy tank.
The superb gallantry of this N.C.O. is beyond praise. During the remaining days at Arnhem stories of his valour were a constant inspiration to all ranks. He spurned danger, ignored pain and, by his supreme fighting spirit, infected all who witnessed his conduct with the same aggressiveness and dogged devotion to duty which characterised his actions throughout.

[London Gazette issue 36807 dated 23 Nov 1944, published 21 Nov 1944.]

Medal of Honor: W. L. Fox

WESLEY LEE FOX

First Lieutenant (later Captain), US Marine Corps; commanding Company A, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, 3d Marine Division

Born: 30 September 1931, Herndon, Virginia
Died: TBD

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as commanding officer of Company A, in action against the enemy in the northern A Shau Valley [on 22 February 1969]. Capt. (then 1st Lt.) Fox's company came under intense fire from a large well concealed enemy force. Capt. Fox maneuvered to a position from which he could assess the situation and confer with his platoon leaders. As they departed to execute the plan he had devised, the enemy attacked and Capt. Fox was wounded along with all of the other members of the command group, except the executive officer. Capt. Fox continued to direct the activity of his company. Advancing through heavy enemy fire, he personally neutralized 1 enemy position and calmly ordered an assault against the hostile emplacements. He then moved through the hazardous area coordinating aircraft support with the activities of his men. When his executive officer was mortally wounded, Capt. Fox reorganized the company and directed the fire of his men as they hurled grenades against the enemy and drove the hostile forces into retreat. Wounded again in the final assault, Capt. Fox refused medical attention, established a defensive posture, and supervised the preparation of casualties for medical evacuation. His indomitable courage, inspiring initiative, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of grave personal danger inspired his marines to such aggressive action that they overcame all enemy resistance and destroyed a large bunker complex. Capt. Fox's heroic actions reflect great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps, and uphold the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

26 January 2011

Honours

Finally remembered to check the New Year's Honours List.

Order of the British Empire – Dames Commander of the Order of the British Empire

Antonia, Lady FRASER, CBE
Historian and Author. For services to Literature.
(London, W8)

Order of the British Empire – Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)

Burt KWOUK
Actor. For services to Drama.
(London, NW6)

Piers John SELLERS
Astronaut. For services to science

Lady Antonia is the author of The Six Wives of Henry VIII, as well as numerous other books, both non-fiction and fiction. Kwouk played Inspector Clouseau's servant, Cato, in the Pink Panther movies. Sellers flew on missions STS-112 (Atlantis), STS-121 (Discovery) and STS-132 (Atlantis).

Australian VC awarded for Afghanistan

ZUI this article from the Sydney Morning Herald:
CORPORAL Ben Roberts-Smith remembers with great clarity little moments from the battle of Shah Wali Kot in Afghanistan.

He remembers lying on his back as Taliban bullets cracked around him and seeing leaves falling off the trees above him. It took a second to register that it was the rounds ripping the leaves off the branches as enemy gunfire swept back and forth.

Most of all he remembers coming face to face with two Taliban fighters, a split second before he shot them dead.

*******

Yesterday [23 January] he was awarded Australia's highest military honour, the Victoria Cross of Australia, for his actions at Shah Wali Kot on June 11 last year.

He has previously been awarded Australia's third-highest military gong, the Medal of [sic] Gallantry, for his part in another action in Afghanistan's Oruzgan province in May 2006, making him the only Australian to have received both honours.

*******

The towering 32-year-old father of five-month-old twin girls and a young son was presented the Victoria Cross by the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, at his Special Air Service regiment's home base, Campbell Barracks, in Perth.

''In these times of hardship and grief for many Australians, you bring our hearts to soar and you remind us of the strength and the endurance of the human spirit,'' she said.

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, said at the ceremony that while he exhibited humility, mateship, and love of family, Corporal Roberts-Smith was different. ''He will always know, as we know now, that in the heat of battle he did not fail when mateship and duty called.''

He was awarded the VC for actions as a patrol second-in-command with the Special Operations Task Group.

The investiture was also watched by his wife, Emma, the Chief of Defence Force, Angus Houston, and a host of other politicians and military brass.

ZUI also this article - with a very interesting photo - from The Australian. The citations for Roberts-Smith's VC and Medal for Gallantry, along with his official biography, can be found here.

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

BENJAMIN ROBERTS-SMITH

Corporal, Australian Special Sir Service

Born: 1 November 1978, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Died: TBD

Citation: For the most conspicuous gallantry in action in circumstances of extreme peril as Patrol Second-in-Command, Special Operations Task Group on Operation SLIPPER.

Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith enlisted in the Australian Regular Army in 1996. After completing the requisite courses, he was posted the 3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment where he saw active service in East Timor. In January 2003, he successfully completed the Australian Special Air Service Regiment Selection Course.

During his tenure with the Regiment, he deployed on Operation VALIANT, SLATE, SLIPPER, CATALYST and SLIPPER II. Corporal Benjamin Roberts-Smith was awarded the Medal for Gallantry for his actions in Afghanistan in 2006.

On the 11th June 2010, a troop of the Special Operations Task Group conducted a helicopter assault into Tizak, Kandahar Province, in order to capture or kill a senior Taliban commander.

Immediately upon the helicopter insertion, the troop was engaged by machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire from multiple, dominating positions. Two soldiers were wounded in action and the troop was pinned down by fire from three machine guns in an elevated fortified position to the south of the village. Under the cover of close air support, suppressive small arms and machine gun fire, Corporal Roberts-Smith and his patrol manoeuvred to within 70 metres of the enemy position in order to neutralise the enemy machine gun positions and regain the initiative.

Upon commencement of the assault, the patrol drew very heavy, intense, effective and sustained fire from the enemy position. Corporal Roberts-Smith and his patrol members fought towards the enemy position until, at a range of 40 metres, the weight of fire prevented further movement forward. At this point, he identified the opportunity to exploit some cover provided by a small structure.

As he approached the structure, Corporal Roberts-Smith identified an insurgent grenadier in the throes of engaging his patrol. Corporal Roberts-Smith instinctively engaged the insurgent at point-blank range resulting in the death of the insurgent. With the members of his patrol still pinned down by the three enemy machine gun positions, he exposed his own position in order to draw fire away from his patrol, which enabled them to bring fire to bear against the enemy. His actions enabled his Patrol Commander to throw a grenade and silence one of the machine guns. Seizing the advantage, and demonstrating extreme devotion to duty and the most conspicuous gallantry, Corporal Roberts-Smith, with a total disregard for his own safety, stormed the enemy position killing the two remaining machine gunners.

His act of valour enabled his patrol to break-in to the enemy position and to lift the weight of fire from the remainder of the troop who had been pinned down by the machine gun fire. On seizing the fortified gun position, Corporal Roberts-Smith then took the initiative again and continued to assault enemy positions in depth during which he and another patrol member engaged and killed further enemy. His acts of selfless valour directly enabled his troop to go on and clear the village of Tizak of Taliban. This decisive engagement subsequently caused the remainder of the Taliban in Shah Wali Kot District to retreat from the area.

Corporal Roberts-Smith’s most conspicuous gallantry in a circumstance of extreme peril was instrumental to the seizure of the initiative and the success of the troop against a numerically superior enemy force. His valour was an inspiration to the soldiers with whom he fought alongside and is in keeping with the finest traditions of the Australian Army and the Australian Defence Force.

RIP: Barney Hajiro

Barney Fushimi Hajiro
16 Sep 1916 - 21 Jan 2011


ZUI this article from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser:
The nation's oldest living recipient of the Medal of Honor, Barney Hajiro, died Friday at Maunalani Hospital in Honolulu.

He was 94.

Hajiro had been awarded three Distinguished Service Crosses by the Army while serving with a rifle company in the 442 Regimental Combat Team during World War II in Europe.

One of those awards was upgraded to the Medal of Honor 46 years after the war ended at the urging of Sen. Daniel Akaka who authored congressional legislation requiring the Army to determine whether 22 Asian and Pacific Island Americans who received the Distinguished Service Cross had not been properly recognized because of the war's anti-Japanese sentiment. Twenty, including Sen. Daniel Inouye, were members of the famed segregated Japanese American 100th Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

*******

Hajiro was the eldest of nine children and left the 8th grade at Puunene on Maui to work in the sugar-cane fields for 10 cents an hour, 10 hours a day. Because he had to leave school to help support his family, Hajiro, an aspiring track star, was never able to pursue his dream to compete in high school and college.

He is survived by a son, Glenn; wife, Esther, and one grandson.

According to the Medal of Honor Society, there are now 85 living Medal of Honor recipients.

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

BARNEY FUSHIMI HAJIRO

Private, US Army; 442nd Infantry Regiment

Born: 16 September 1916, Territory of Hawai`i
Died: TBD

Citation: Private Barney F. Hajiro distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 19, 22, and 29 October 1944, in the vicinity of Bruyeres and Biffontaine, eastern France. Private Hajiro, while acting as a sentry on top of an embankment on 19 October 1944, in the vicinity of Bruyeres, France, rendered assistance to allied troops attacking a house 200 yards away by exposing himself to enemy fire and directing fire at an enemy strong point. He assisted the unit on his right by firing his automatic rifle and killing or wounding two enemy snipers. On 22 October 1944, he and one comrade took up an outpost security position about 50 yards to the right front of their platoon, concealed themselves, and ambushed an 18-man, heavily armed, enemy patrol, killing two, wounding one, and taking the remainder as prisoners. On 29 October 1944, in a wooded area in the vicinity of Biffontaine, France, Private Hajiro initiated an attack up the slope of a hill referred to as "Suicide Hill" by running forward approximately 100 yards under fire. He then advanced ahead of his comrades about 10 yards, drawing fire and spotting camouflaged machine gun nests. He fearlessly met fire with fire and single-handedly destroyed two machine gun nests and killed two enemy snipers. As a result of Private Hajiro's heroic actions, the attack was successful. Private Hajiro's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon him, his unit, and the United States Army.

23 January 2011

Victoria Cross: E. B. B. Towse

ERNEST BEACHCROFT BECKWITH TOWSE

Captain, The Gordon Highlanders

Born: 23 April 1864, Westminster, London
Died: 21 June 1948, Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire

Citation: On the 11th December, 1899, at the action of Majesfontein, Captain Towse was brought to notice by his Commanding Officer for his gallantry and devotion in assisting the late Colonel Downman, when mortally wounded, in the retirement, and endeavouring, when close up to the front of the firing line, to carry Colonel Downman on his back; but finding this not possible, Captain Towse supported him till joined by Colour-Sergeant Nelson and Lance-Corporal Hodgson.
On the 30th April, 1900, Captain Towse, with twelve men, took up a position on the top of Mount Thaba, far away from support. A force of about 150 Boers attempted to seize the same plateau, neither party appearing to see the other until they were but 100 yards apart. Some of the Boers then got within 40 yards of Captain Towse and his party, and called on him to surrender. He at once caused his men to open fire and remained firing himself until severely wounded (both eyes shattered), succeeding in driving off the Boers. The gallantry of this Officer in vigorously attacking the enemy (for he not only fired, but charged forward) saved the situation, notwithstanding the numerical superiority of the Boers.

[London Gazette issue 27208 dated 6 Jul 1900, published 6 Jul 1900.]


Note: Captain Towse was Sir Beachcroft Towse, VC KCVO CBE, at the time of his death.

Medal of Honor: G. W. Rud and C. H. Willey

GEORGE WILLIAM RUD

Chief Machinist's Mate, US Navy; USS Memphis (CA 10)

Born: 7 October 1883, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Died: 29 August 1916, Santo Domingo City, Santo Domingo

Citation: For extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession while attached to the U.S.S. Memphis, at a time when that vessel was suffered total destruction from a hurricane while anchored off Santo Domingo City, 29 August 1916. C.M.M. Rud took his station in the engineroom and remained at his post amidst scalding steam and the rushing of thousands of tons of water into his department, receiving serious burns from which he immediately died.






CHARLES H WILLEY

Machinist, US Navy; USS Memphis (CA 10)

Born: 31 March 1889, East Boston, Massachusetts
Died: 11 September 1977, Concord, New Hampshire

Citation: For extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession while serving on board the U.S.S. Memphis, at a time when that vessel was suffering total destruction from a hurricane while anchored off Santo Domingo City, 29 August 1916. Machinist Willey took his station in the engineer's department and remained at his post of duty amidst scalding steam and the rush of thousands of tons of water into his department as long as the engines would turn, leaving only when ordered to leave. When the boilers exploded, he assisted in getting the men out of the fireroom and carrying them into the engineroom, where there was air instead of steam to breathe. Machinist Willey's conduct on this occasion was above and beyond the call of duty.


Note: Lt Claud A Jones also received the Medal of Honor for his actions in Memphis's engine room.

22 January 2011

Kangaroo tying



And Roberta X has the BASIC idea....


H/T to Tam and to Dustbury.

16 January 2011

Victoria Cross: J. T. Down and D. Stagpoole

JOHN THORNTON DOWN

Ensign, 57th Regiment

Born: 2 March 1842, Fulham, London
Died: 27 April 1866, Otahuhu, New Zealand


DUDLEY STAGPOOLE

Drummer, 57th Regiment

Born: 1838, Killunan, County Galway, Ireland
Died: 1 August 1911, Ware, Hertfordshire

Joint Citation: For their conduct at Pontoko, on the 2nd October [1863], in rescuing a wounded comrade from the rebel Maories.
They succeeded in bringing in the wounded man, who was lying at about fifty yards from the bush, although the enemy kept up a very heavy fire from the bush at short range, and also from behind fallen logs close at hand.
The man had been wounded during an engagement with the rebel natives, and Ensign Down, and Drummer Stagpoole, responded to the call of the Officer commanding the detachment of the Regiment for volunteers to bring him in.
The Medal for Distinguished Conduct in the Field has already been conferred on Drummer Stagpoole, for the energy and devotion which he displayed on the 25th September, 1863, at the affair near Kaipakopako, in having, though wounded in the head, twice volunteered and brought in wounded men.

[London Gazette issue 22896, dated 22 Sep 1864, published 23 Sep 1864.]

Medal of Honor: J. C. Montgomery

JACK C MONTGOMERY

First Lieutenant, US Army; 45th Infantry Division

Born: 23 July 1917, Long, Oklahoma
Died: 11 June 2002

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty on 22 February 1944, near Padiglione, Italy. Two hours before daybreak a strong force of enemy infantry established themselves in 3 echelons at 50 yards, 100 yards, and 300 yards, respectively, in front of the rifle platoons commanded by 1st Lt. Montgomery. The closest position, consisting of 4 machineguns and 1 mortar, threatened the immediate security of the platoon position. Seizing an Ml rifle and several hand grenades, 1st Lt. Montgomery crawled up a ditch to within hand grenade range of the enemy. Then climbing boldly onto a little mound, he fired his rifle and threw his grenades so accurately that he killed 8 of the enemy and captured the remaining 4. Returning to his platoon, he called for artillery fire on a house, in and around which he suspected that the majority of the enemy had entrenched themselves. Arming himself with a carbine, he proceeded along the shallow ditch, as withering fire from the riflemen and machinegunners in the second position was concentrated on him. He attacked this position with such fury that 7 of the enemy surrendered to him, and both machineguns were silenced. Three German dead were found in the vicinity later that morning. 1st Lt. Montgomery continued boldly toward the house, 300 yards from his platoon position. It was now daylight, and the enemy observation was excellent across the flat open terrain which led to 1st Lt. Montgomery's objective. When the artillery barrage had lifted, 1st Lt. Montgomery ran fearlessly toward the strongly defended position. As the enemy started streaming out of the house, 1st Lt. Montgomery, unafraid of treacherous snipers, exposed himself daringly to assemble the surrendering enemy and send them to the rear. His fearless, aggressive, and intrepid actions that morning, accounted for a total of 11 enemy dead, 32 prisoners, and an unknown number of wounded. That night, while aiding an adjacent unit to repulse a counterattack, he was struck by mortar fragments and seriously wounded. The selflessness and courage exhibited by 1st Lt. Montgomery in alone attacking 3 strong enemy positions inspired his men to a degree beyond estimation.


Note: The Veterans Health Administration medical center in Muskogee, Oklahoma, is named in his honour.

11 January 2011

RIP: Richard Winters

Richard D Winters
21 Jan 1918 - 2 Jan 2011


Major Richard "Dick" Winters, famous for his role as company commander of E Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, during World War II, has died. ZUI this article from the Washington Post:
Richard "Dick" Winters, 92, a decorated Army officer whose courageous leadership through some of the fiercest combat of World War II was featured in the best-selling book and HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers," died Jan. 2. He had Parkinson's disease.

The Patriot-News in central Pennsylvania reported that Maj. Winters, a longtime Hershey resident, died at an assisted-living facility in nearby Campbelltown.

Stephen Ambrose's 1992 book "Band of Brothers" followed the men of E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division.

*******

Maj. Winters excelled as a infantry leader and a paratrooper and became a hallowed figure among his men for his "follow me" attitude.

He received the military's second-highest decoration for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross, for his actions on D-Day.

*******

Toward the end of the war, Maj. Winters turned down the opportunity to make the Army a career.

He returned to the United States and joined an Army colleague's company, Nixon Nitration Works, in New Jersey. He was recalled to active duty during the Korean War as a training officer.

For the rest of his career, Maj. Winters owned a farm in rural Pennsylvania and sold animal nutrition products to animal-feed companies. He married Ethel Estoppey in 1948 and had two children. He lived the quiet and peaceful life he'd promised to himself after surviving the war.

Bills were presented in Congress in an effort to have Winters's DSC upgraded to a Medal of Honor, but none of them passed.

In addition to Band of Brothers, by Stephen E Ambrose, his story is told in Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters, by Dick Winters and Cole C Kingseed, and Biggest Brother: The Life Of Major Dick Winters, The Man Who Led The Band of Brothers, by Larry Alexander.* He was portrayed by Damian Lewis in the HBO miniseries based on Ambrose's book.


* For further reading on E Company, see Easy Company Soldier, by Don Malarkey and Bob Welch; Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends, by William Guarnere, Edward Heffron and Robyn Post; Call of Duty, by Lynn Compton and Marcus Brotherton; We Who Are Alive and Remain, by Marcus Brotherton; In the Footsteps of the Band of Brothers, by Larry Alexander; and Parachute Infantry, by David Kenyon Webster, amongst other books.

RIP: Audrey Lawson-Johnston

Audrey Lawson-Johnston
5 Feb 1915 – 11 Jan 2011


The last known survivor of the sinking of RMS Lusitania has died. ZUI this article from the BBC:
Audrey Lawson-Johnston from Melchbourne in Bedfordshire died in the early hours of Tuesday aged 95.

She was three months old when the liner bound for Liverpool from New York sank off the Irish coast on 7 May.

Mrs Lawson-Johnston's family had been emigrating to England when the boat was hit in an attack that killed hundreds, including her sisters.

*******

Mrs Lawson-Johnston leaves behind three daughters and 10 grandchildren.

According to Wikipedia, Mrs Lawson-Johnston (born Audrey Warren Pearl) became Lusitania's last living survivor following the death of Barbara McDermott on 12 April 2008.*

Lusitania sank on 7 May 1915, 18 minutes after being torpedoed by the German submarine U-20 eleven miles off the Old Head of Kinsale, Ireland. Some 1200 of the 1959 people (1265 passengers and 694 crew) aboard died in the sinking.


* McDermott, born Barbara Winifred Anderson, was the last American survivor of the sinking.

10 January 2011

Captain Honors

A nuke I served with on my last boat wrote the following:

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

Captain Honors: Thanks for helping with crew morale, we'll thank you by posting the video and getting you fired.

This is long. If you don't read it, that's ok, I won't lose any sleep. I'm typing this for me.


For those of you who may not have been following this story, here's a couple of links.

Navy Capt. Owen Honors Relieved of Command for Lewd Videos

Navy statement Capt. Owen Honors relieved of command


Here's my opinion of the parties involved and the level of blame to be placed.

The Navy - Blameless - Firing a Captain that can be publicly shown to have acted below the high standards they have set forth is exactly what has maintained the high traditions of the service for over 200 years.

Captain Honors - Blameless - Let's face it, the XO getting in on an underway gag reel is pretty fucking cool. "Holy shit! He IS human! We'd never have guessed! Let's finish knocking out this PM and watch it again." Besides, it's not like he was the Old Man at the time. He did what he thought was within reasonable bounds for a ship that was underway and had a good laugh of the whole thing. I'll bet anyone who served under him enjoyed the hell out of that video and hey, don't you think the Captain would have noticed the XO being filmed? I'd lay money that most, if not all, of the Wardroom knew that video was being made.

The Virginian-Pilot (Newspaper that broke the story) - Blameless - I can't stand the news media in general, but let's be honest, if this fell in your lap as a journalist in Norfolk, wouldn't YOU publish it? Lewd video? Bet your ass it was "lewd"... by civillian standards. I talked about things underway that I don't talk to my wife about. It's a different world out there, and things like vulgar and lewd are really fairly non-existent, there is proper operation without losing lives and there is fucking up. If you don't fuck up, sure, take a picture of yourself in a shower cap with a walkie talkie, how could that hurt anyone? Request permission to enter maneuvering carrying just your clipboard and wearing just your boots and a belt to hold your TLD (you know who you are!). It's funny. We'll laugh. No one will die. Is it lewd? Yup. That's why I wouldn't walk into a bank wearing just boots and a belt, but no one in the bank has the ability to kill a lot of their co-workers by flipping the wrong switch on the ATM, either.

The "Leaker" - FULL BLAME - This video was never meant to leave the confines of the USS Enterprise. Period. Something like that, produced as a morale boost for the crew, has probably been done on 90% of deployments in the Navy. It may not always be a video, it may just be a party (Halfway Night). It may be skits or jokes or a bitch book with "lewd" cartoons. The bottom line though is that someone thought it would be funny to send to a wife/girlfriend/family member or (I hope not, but you never know) they were fucking dumb enough to post the goddamn thing on the internet. A video like that should be held sacred among the crew and never taken off of the ship to be shared. You may notice that I'm pointing the finger pretty squarely at the blueshirts here and I think that's fair. I don't know any officers that wouldn't see the implications of something like this going public and be sure that their copy, if saved at all, had a very tight leash kept on it.


All that being said, to the person who actually leaked the video: congratulations, you've destroyed the career of a good officer who was set to lead our men and women into war because 3 years ago he thought it might be nice if they all had a good laugh to break the stress and monotony. Well fucking done.

To Captain Honors: I wish there was something I could do to help, but I think we all understand that petitions or viral video rebuttals to what has happened are useless gestures at this point. I'm very sorry, Captain, that this happened to you. It's a lesson that you should never have had to learn and I hope that you are able to salvage your career for the good of your honor and your family.

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

Copyright 2011; used with permission of the author.

Newbery and Caldecott winners announced

The 2011 winner of the John Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children is Moon over Manifest, written by Clare Vanderpool and published by Delacorte Press. The Newbery Honor Books (ie, runners-up) are Turtle in Paradise, by Jennifer L Holm; Heart of a Samurai, by Margi Preus; Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, by Joyce Sidman; and One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia.

Amazon and Barnes & Noble both have it, of course.*

The Randolph Caldecott Medal, for the most distinguished American picture book for children, was awarded to A Sick Day for Amos McGee, illustrated by Erin E Stead, written by Philip C Stead and published by Roaring Brook Press. The Caldecott Honor Books are Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave, illustrated by Bryan Collier and written by Laban Carrick Hill, and Interrupting Chicken, written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein.

Amazon and Barnes & Noble both have this one, too.*

(I'll let you do your own searches for the Honor Books.)

The American Library Association (ALA), who give both of the above awards, also announced a few others, including:
The Michael L Printz Award, for excellence in young-adult literature: Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi.

The Coretta Scott King Book Award, recognizing an African-American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults: (author) One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia , and (illustrator) Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave, illustrated by Bryan Collier and written by Laban Carrick Hill.

The Pura Belpré Awards, for Latino authors and illustrators whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in children's books: (author) The Dreamer, by Pam Munoz Ryan, and (illustrator) Grandma's Gift, written and illustrated by Eric Velasquez.

The Margaret A Edwards Award, for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults: Sir Terry Pratchett.

The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award, for the most distinguished book for beginning readers: Bink and Gollie, written by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee and illustrated by Tony Fucile.

The Robert F Sibert Medal, for the most distinguished informational book for children: Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot," by Sy Montgomery with photographs by Nic Bishop.

The YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award: Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing, by Ann Angel.

The Mildred L Batchelder Award, for the most outstanding children's book translated from a foreign language and subsequently published in the United States: A Time of Miracles, originally written in French (as Le Temps des Miracles) written by Anne-Laure Bondoux and translated by Y Maudet.

No ALA press release yet (that I can find, anyway), but PR Newswire has the complete list of awards, winners, and Honor Books here.


* Amazon and B&N links are provided for information. Buying from your local independent bookseller is of course strongly recommended!!

09 January 2011

Victoria Cross: J. Murray and J. Danaher

JAMES MURRAY

Lance-Corporal, 2nd Battalion the Connaught Rangers

Born: February 1859, Cork, County Cork, Ireland
Died: 19 July 1942, Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland


JOHN DANAHER

Trooper, Nourse's Horse

Born: 25 June 1860, Limerick, County Limerick, Ireland
Died: 9 January 1919, Portsmouth, Hampshire

Joint Citation: For their gallant conduct during an engagement with the Boers at Elandsfontein on the 16th January, 1881, in advancing for 500 yards, under a very heavy fire from a party of about 60 Boers, to bring out of action a private of the 21st Foot who had been severely wounded; in attempting which Lance-Corporal Murray was himself severely wounded.

[London Gazette issue 25084 dated 14 Mar 1882, published 14 Mar 1882.]

Medal of Honor: W. A. Jones III

WILLIAM ATKINSON JONES III

Colonel, US Air Force; 602d Special Operations Squadron, Nakon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand

Born: 31 May 1922, Norfolk, Virginia
Died: 15 November 1969

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Col. Jones distinguished himself as the pilot of an A-1H Skyraider aircraft near Dong Hoi, North Vietnam [on 1 September 1968]. On that day, as the on-scene commander in the attempted rescue of a downed U.S. pilot, Col. Jones' aircraft was repeatedly hit by heavy and accurate antiaircraft fire. On one of his low passes, Col. Jones felt an explosion beneath his aircraft and his cockpit rapidly filled with smoke. With complete disregard of the possibility that his aircraft might still be burning, he unhesitatingly continued his search for the downed pilot. On this pass, he sighted the survivor and a multiple-barrel gun position firing at him from near the top of a karst formation. He could not attack the gun position on that pass for fear he would endanger the downed pilot. Leaving himself exposed to the gun position, Col. Jones attacked the position with cannon and rocket fire on 2 successive passes. On his second pass, the aircraft was hit with multiple rounds of automatic weapons fire. One round impacted the Yankee Extraction System rocket mounted directly behind the headrest, igniting the rocket. His aircraft was observed to burst into flames in the center fuselage section, with flames engulfing the cockpit area. He pulled the extraction handle, jettisoning the canopy. The influx of fresh air made the fire burn with greater intensity for a few moments, but since the rocket motor had already burned, the extraction system did not pull Col. Jones from the aircraft. Despite searing pains from severe burns sustained on his arms, hands, neck, shoulders, and face, Col. Jones pulled his aircraft into a climb and attempted to transmit the location of the downed pilot and the enemy gun position to the other aircraft in the area. His calls were blocked by other aircraft transmissions repeatedly directing him to bail out and within seconds his transmitters were disabled and he could receive only on 1 channel. Completely disregarding his injuries, he elected to fly his crippled aircraft back to his base and pass on essential information for the rescue rather than bail out. Col. Jones successfully landed his heavily damaged aircraft and passed the information to a debriefing officer while on the operating table. As a result of his heroic actions and complete disregard for his personal safety, the downed pilot was rescued later in the day. Col. Jones' profound concern for his fellow man at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.

08 January 2011

RIP: Dick King-Smith

Ronald Gordon King-Smith OBE
27 Mar 1922 – 4 Jan 2011


ZUI this article from The Guardian:
Dick King-Smith, who has died aged 88, was one of the most delightful of children's authors, from one of the most unlikely backgrounds. Enormously successful and popular – especially with The Sheep-Pig (1983), which was adapted into film in 1995 as Babe – he came to writing for children late in life, after two previous careers, in both of which he always claimed to have been a complete failure.

Farmer, teacher, writer – Dick's life can be carved up into three neat but certainly not equal slices. Farming was his first love, but his lack of business sense, and particularly a disregard for numbers, forced him to abandon this career after 20 years of running a couple of farms at a loss.

His second, as a teacher, was also hampered by his relationship with numbers. He was moved from teaching juniors to infants because he could not manage long division. In his third career, the only numbers that mattered were his prodigious output – more than 100 titles – and his enormous sales figures, somewhere around 15m copies worldwide.

Dick was every inch a country gentleman, and no amount of sophisticated London publishing events changed that. He was delightfully old-fashioned, without being in the least an old fogey, and had disarmingly good manners – products of his comfortable gentry background in the West Country, where his family ran several paper mills, and education at Marlborough college in Wiltshire. Even when older and lamer, he had the upright posture of a Grenadier Guard. He served with that regiment in Italy with distinction during the second world war, was wounded and invalided out.

*******

His first book, The Fox Busters (1978), had its origins in his farming experience where he had imagined what might happen if, instead of the fox always killing the chickens, the chickens had turned against the fox. The feisty hens are a formidable brood and their successful efforts to defeat the fox are hilarious.

The Fox Busters was well reviewed, and Dick followed it up with a story about a sparrow, which his publishers rejected. Undaunted, he wrote Daggie Dogfoot, his first book about a pig, which was published in 1980. Three more books followed before he wrote The Sheep-Pig – a charming story about how a runt, won in a competition by the near-silent but wise Farmer Hoggett, latches on to the farm sheepdog and, thanks to its exceptional prowess as a sheep-pig, saves its own bacon – made an immediate impact. Dick won the Guardian children's book prize for it and was hailed as the inventor of a new form of animal fiction.

*******

Dick married Myrle, who had been a childhood friend, in 1943, when both were serving in the forces. Theirs was a long and happy marriage. They had three children, Juliet, Giles and Liz, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren, in whom Dick took the greatest delight. He was unusual for men of his generation in adoring babies, and in expressing it completely naturally. Myrle supported Dick in all his ventures and was his first reader, until her death in 2000. The following year, Dick married Zona Bedding, an old family friend.

He is survived by Zona, his children, 14 grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and a great-great-grandchild.

King-Smith was created an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2010 New Year's Honours List. The Wikipedia article on him gives a list of his books; I don't think I've read any of them. Yet.

Winter wonderland


Didn't snow a lot last night - just enough to make the trees and shrubbery look pretty.


05 January 2011

Top 100 YA Novels

Last April I mentioned that Adele at Persnickety Snark was conducting a poll concerning the top 100 YA novels, along the lines of Betsy Bird's Top 100 Children's Books poll. I just realised that I never followed up on that, so here's the complete list:

1. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, by J K Rowling*
3. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
4. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson
5. Northern Lights, by Philip Pullman**
6. The Truth About Forever, by Sarah Dessen
7. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
8. The Outsiders, by S E Hinton
9. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
10. This Lullaby, by Sarah Dessen
11. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
12. Just Listen, by Sarah Dessen
13. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J K Rowling
14. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
15. City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare
16. On the Jellicoe Road, by Melina Marchetta
17. The Catcher in the Rye, by J D Salinger
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J K Rowling
19. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
20. Along for the Ride, by Sarah Dessen
21. Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater
22. Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead
23. Graceling, by Kristin Cashore
24. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
25. Sloppy Firsts, by Megan McCafferty
26. The Lord of the Rings, by J R R Tolkien
27. Alanna: The First Adventure, by Tamora Pierce
28. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
29. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J K Rowling
30. Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld
31. A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray
32. Tomorrow, When the War Began, by John Marsden
33. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E Lockhart
34. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
35. The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin
36. Paper Towns, by John Green
37. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by J K Rowling
38. Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins
39. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
40. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
41. Lock and Key, by Sarah Dessen
42. The Amber Spyglass, Philip Pullman
43. Evernight, by Claudia Gray
44. Sabriel, by Garth Nix
45. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J K Rowling
46. Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl
47. Forever, by Judy Blume
48. I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
49. Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine
50. The Princess Diaries, by Meg Cabot
51. Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli
52. Howl's Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones
53. The Dark is Rising, by Susan Cooper
54. Hush, Hush, by Becca Fitzpatrick
55. Saving Francesca, by Melina Marchetta
56. Second Helpings, by Megan McCafferty
57. Dreamland, by Sarah Dessen
58. Eclipse, by Stephenie Meyer
59. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
60. Fire, by Kristin Cashore
61. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
62. Weetzie Bat, by Francesca Lia Block
63. The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank
64. Looking for Alibrandi, by Melina Marchetta
65. How I Live Now, by Meg Rosoff
66. City of Glass, by Cassandra Clare
67. Keeping the Moon, by Sarah Dessen
68. Breaking Dawn, by Stephenie Meyer
69. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison
70. If I Stay, by Gayle Forman
71. The King of Attolia, by Megan Whalen Turner
72. Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson
73. Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast, by Robin McKinley
74. The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley
75. Feed, by M T Anderson
76. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, by Ann Brashares
77. Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous
78. Wicked Lovely, by Melissa Marr
79. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
80. Someone Like You, by Sarah Dessen
81. The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan
82. Jacob Have I Loved, by Katherine Paterson
83. The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness
84. Poison Study, by Maria V Snyder
85. Shadow Kiss, by Richelle Mead
86. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, by Avi
87. An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green
88. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon
89. A Ring of Endless Light, by Madeleine L'Engle
90. Glass Houses, by Rachel Caine
91. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party, by M.T. Anderson
92. Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech
93. Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher
94. Perfect Chemistry, by Simone Elkeles
95. Going Too Far, by Jennifer Echols
96. The Last Song, by Nicholas Sparks
97. Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver
98. Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen
99. The Pigman, by Paul Zindel
100. The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley

The 25 bolded numbers indicate the books from this list that I've read. Don't believe I've ever heard of Sarah Dessen, but it appears I'm going to have to take a look at her books next time I'm at the library.


* Published in the US as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
** Published in the US as The Golden Compass.

03 January 2011

The Cybils: 2010 short lists


I completely missed the lead-in for the 2010 Cybils - the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards - but the short lists were released the other day. Hard to believe this is the fifth year for these awards....

Click on the links below for brief descriptions of the books, and for further links to Amazon.

Easy Readers and Early Chapter Books
Easy Readers
Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa: Spring Babies, by Erica Silverman
Fly Guy Meets Fly Girl, by Tedd Arnold
National Geographic Readers: Ants, by Melissa Stewart
The Babysitters (Cork and Fuzz), by Dori Chaconas
We Are in a Book! (An Elephant and Piggie Book), by Mo Willems

Early Chapter Books
Anna Hibiscus, by Atinuke
Frankie Pickle and the Pine Run 3000, by Eric Wight
Home on the Range (Down Girl and Sit), by Lucy Nolan
Princess Posey and the First Grade Parade: Book 1, by Stephanie Greene
Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Takes Off, by Jacqueline Jules

Fantasy & Science Fiction (Middle Grade)
The Call (The Magnificent 12), by Michael Grant
The Dead Boys, by Royce Buckingham
Dragonbreath: Attack of the Ninja Frogs, by Ursula Vernon
Fever Crumb, by Philip Reeve
Ninth Ward, by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Reckless, by Cornelia Funke
The Shadows (The Books of Elsewhere, Vol. 1), by Jacqueline West


Fantasy & Science Fiction (Young Adult)
Brain Jack, by Brian Falkner
Guardian of the Dead, by Karen Healey
Plain Kate, by Erin Bow
Pod, by Stephen Wallenfels
Rot & Ruin, by Jonathan Maberry
Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi
The Wager, by Donna Jo Napoli

Fiction Picture Books
A Beach Tail, by Karen Lynn Williams
Chalk, by Bill Thomson
The Cow Loves Cookies, by Karma Wilson
Flora's Very Windy Day, by Jeanne Birdsall
Interrupting Chicken, by David Ezra Stein
Shark vs. Train, by Chris Barton
A Sick Day for Amos McGee, by Philip Christian Stead

Graphic Novels (Middle Grade)
Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess (Olympians), by George O'Connor
Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye 1: Hamster and Cheese, by Colleen A F Venable
Meanwhile: Pick Any Path, by Jason Shiga
Smile, by Raina Telgemeier
The Unsinkable Walker Bean, by Aaron Renier

Graphic Novels (Young Adult)
Ghostopolis, by Doug Tennapel
Mercury, by Hope Larson
Night Owls Vol 1, by Peter Timony
Twin Spica, Volume: 01, by Kou Yaginuma
Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty, by G Neri

Middle Grade Novels
Because of Mr. Terupt, by Rob Buyea
Belly Up, by Stuart Gibbs
Betti on the High Wire, by Lisa Railsback
Crunch, by Leslie Connor
Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze, by Alan Silberberg
The Kneebone Boy, by Ellen Potter
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, by Tom Angleberger

Nonfiction Books (Middle Grade & Young Adult)
The Dark Game: True Spy Stories, by Paul Janeczko
The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe, by Loree Griffin Burns
Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot, by Sy Montgomery
The Secret of the Yellow Death: A True Story of Medical Sleuthing, by Suzanne Jurmain
Spilling Ink: A Young Writer's Handbook, by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter
Under a Red Sky: Memoir of a Childhood in Communist Romania, by Haya Leah Molnar
An Unspeakable Crime: The Prosecution and Persecution of Leo Frank, by Elaine Marie Alphin

Nonfiction Picture Books
Bones, by Steve Jenkins
Dinosaur Mountain: Digging Into the Jurassic Age, by Deborah Kogan Ray
Henry Aaron's Dream, by Matt Tavares
Pop!: The Invention of Bubble Gum, by Meghan McCarthy
Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down, by Andrea Pinkney
Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald, by Roxane Orgill
The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According To Susy), by Barbara Kerley

Poetry
Borrowed Names: Poems About Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C.J. Walker, Marie Curie, and Their Daughters, by Jeannine Atkins
Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, by Joyce Sidman
Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse, by Marilyn Singer
Scarum Fair, by Jessica Swaim
Sharing the Seasons: A Book of Poems, edited by Lee Bennet Hopkins
Switching on the Moon: A Very First Book of Bedtime Poems, edited by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters
Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature's Survivors, by Joyce Sidman

Young Adult Novels
Dirt Road Home, by Watt Key
Harmonic Feedback, by Tara Kelly
I Now Pronounce You Someone Else, by Erin McCahan
Scrawl, by Mark Shulman
Some Girls Are, by Courtney Summers
Split, by Swati Avasthi
Stolen, by Lucy Christopher

None of my favourites from last year made the cut - in fact, Belly Up is the only one of these books I've even read (though Fever Crumb has been on my read-this list for quite a while now).

IAW established tradition, the winners will be announced on Valentine's Day.

02 January 2011

On history

"Those natural historical forces they speak of are a good thing to have around the place if you want to make home-made gin, but as far as history is concerned, man produces that all by himself with little help from anything, natural or otherwise. I won't take the time to argue with you about waves of civilization and culture, but suffice it to say that I have my doubts. The only thing I am certain of is that, given your average crossroads, humankind will always negotiate the wrong turn. Man is little more than an ever-increasing brood of idiots who would lose out in any test of intelligence with the food he eats, and that includes your common herring. What other creature has gone out of its way to invent the means of its total destruction? I speak of money, politics and gunpowder - sure-fire tools to do it with. Gentlemen, in my view, history is nothing more than the chronicle of man's descent into the abyss."
-- Jerry Yulsman, Elleander Morning

Book list - 2010

Here's the complete list of books I read in 2010. My goal for the year was 210 books; I actually read 183, so I fell well short of the goal. Reasons ("excuses," if you prefer) include a couple of lengthy tomes, a handful of books that I couldn't develop enough interest in to finish, and the fact that we bought a house in December and I don't have much time to read during the (as yet incomplete) move.

An asterisk indicates a reread. Numbers refer to the order in which the books were read.

"Adult" Fiction (42 books)
2. Eye of the Zodiac - SF, by E C Tubb
20. The Hound of the Baskervilles - mystery, by Arthur Conan Doyle *
24. Martian Time-Slip - SF, by Philip K Dick
27. Henrietta Sees It Through: More News from the Home Front 1942-1945 - WWII fiction, by Joyce Dennys
28. A Study in Scarlet - mystery, by Arthur Conan Doyle *
29. The Sign of Four - mystery, by Arthur Conan Doyle *
30. Chain of Violence - mystery, by Leslie Egan (Elizabeth Linington) *
33. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - mystery (short stories), by Arthur Conan Doyle *
36. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes - mystery (short stories), by Arthur Conan Doyle *
37. The Return of Sherlock Holmes - mystery (short stories), by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle *
42. The Valley of Fear - mystery, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle *
57. Blood Rites - modern fantasy, by Jim Butcher
59. Small Favor - modern fantasy, by Jim Butcher *
61. Storm Front - modern fantasy, by Jim Butcher *
71. Time Travelers Never Die - time travel, by Jack McDevitt
73. The Off-Islanders - fiction, by Nathaniel Benchley *
77. Don Quixote, USA - fiction, by Richard Powell *
83. Men, Martians and Machines - SF (short stories), by Eric Frank Russell *
86. Of Mice and Men - fiction, by John Steinbeck
90. Changes - modern fantasy, by Jim Butcher
93. Rivers of Time - time travel (short stories), by L Sprague de Camp
97. Major Ingredients: The Selected Stories of Eric Frank Russell - SF (short stories), edited by Rick Katze
99. No Blade of Grass (aka The Death of Grass) - SF, by John Christopher
101. The Great Explosion - SF, by Eric Frank Russell
113. The Coils of Time - SF, by A Bertram Chandler *
115. Into the Alternate Universe - SF, by A Bertram Chandler *
120. Conquistador - SF, by S M Stirling *
121. Wildside - SF, by Steven Gould *
124. Three Hearts and Three Lions - fantasy, by Poul Anderson *
127. Invasion of the Sea - SF, by Jules Verne
129. Noninterference - SF, by Harry Turtledove *
131. Kaleidoscope - SF, fantasy and AH (short stories), by Harry Turtledove
135. Earthgrip - SF, by Harry Turtledove
137. The Ballad of Beta-2 - SF, by Samuel R Delany *
139. Merlin's Mirror - SF, by Andre Norton
143. '48 - AH, by James Herbert
157. The Time Patrol - time travel (short stories), by Poul Anderson *
166. The Shield of Time - time travel, by Poul Anderson *
174. Myth-Interpretations - fantasy and SF (short stories), by Robert Lynn Asprin
177. Mysterium - SF/AH, by Robert Charles Wilson
178. The Yiddish Policemen's Union - AH/mystery, by Michael Chabon
181. Fire Watch - SF (short stories), by Connie Willis

Children's/YA Fiction (111)
3. Between the Forest and the Hills - YA historical fantasy, by Ann Lawrence
4. Mortal Engines - YA SF, by Philip Reeve
5. Predator's Gold - YA SF, by Philip Reeve
7. The Valley of Adventure - children's adventure, by Enid Blyton *
8. Infernal Devices - YA SF, by Philip Reeve
9. The Warrior Heir - YA modern fantasy, by Cinda Williams Chima
10. A Darkling Plain - YA SF, by Philip Reeve
11. Tom's Midnight Garden - children's, by Philippa Pearce (Carnegie Medal, 1958)
12. The Sea of Adventure - children's adventure, by Enid Blyton
13. When You Reach Me - children's, by Rebecca Stead (Newbery Medal, 2010)
14. The Wizard Heir - YA modern fantasy, by Cinda Williams Chima
15. The Mountain of Adventure - children's adventure, by Enid Blyton
16. The Ship of Adventure - children's adventure, by Enid Blyton
18. The Circus of Adventure - children's adventure, by Enid Blyton
19. The Dragon Heir - YA modern fantasy, by Cinda Williams Chima
21. Larklight: A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in the Farthest Reaches of Space - YA SF, by Philip Reeve
22. Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba - YA historical fiction (poetry), by Margarita Engle
23. Starcross: A Stirring Adventure of Spies, Time Travel and Curious Hats - YA SF, by Philip Reeve
31. Ellen Tebbits - children's, by Beverly Cleary
32. Otis Spofford - children's, by Beverly Cleary
34. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle - YA historical fiction, by Avi
35. The River Between Us - YA historical fiction, by Richard Peck
39. Dream Life - YA, by Lauren Mechling
40. Tentacles - YA, by Roland Smith
41. The Hanging Hill - children's ghost story, by Chris Grabenstein
43. A Faraway Island - children's WWII fiction, by Annika Thor
46. Savvy - children's, by Ingrid Law
47. Thirteenth Child - YA fantasy, by Patricia C Wrede
48. Matilda - children's, by Roald Dahl
50. Mare's War - YA historical fiction, by Tanita S Davis
51. Tuck Everlasting - children's, by Natalie Babbitt
52. We Couldn't Leave Dinah - children's WWII fiction, by Mary Treadgold (Carnegie Medal, 1941)
53. The Circus is Coming (aka Circus Shoes) - children's, by Noel Streatfield (Carnegie Medal, 1938)
54. The Family from One End Street - children's, by Eve Garnett (Carnegie Medal, 1937)
56. A Northern Light (aka A Gathering Light) - YA historical fiction, by Jennifer Donnelly (Carnegie Medal, 2003)
60. Visitors from London - children's WWII fiction, by Kitty Barne (Carnegie Medal, 1940)
62. The Wind on the Moon - children's, by Eric Linklater (Carnegie Medal, 1944)
64. The Little Grey Men - children's, by "BB" (D J Watkins-Pitchford) (Carnegie Medal, 1942)
65. The Returners - YA, by Gemma Malley
66. The 13th Floor: A Ghost Story - children's time travel, by Sid Fleischman
67. The Night Fairy - children's, by Laura Amy Schlitz
68. The Importance of Wings - YA, by Robin Friedman
69. Clementine - children's, by Sara Pennypacker
70. Sea Change - children's, by Richard Armstrong (Carnegie Medal, 1948)
74. Baby Island - children's, by Carol Ryrie Brink
75. Whales on Stilts - children's SF, by M T Anderson
76. Anne of Green Gables - children's, by Lucy Maud Montgomery
78. The Sixty-Eight Rooms - YA, by Marianne Malone
79. Granny was a Buffer Girl - YA, by Berlie Doherty (Carnegie Medal, 1986)
80. Knight Crusader - children's historical fiction, by Ronald Welch (Felton Ronald Oliver) (Carnegie Medal, 1954)
84. Dear Nobody - YA, by Berlie Doherty (Carnegie Medal, 1991)
85. Mystery of the Old Barn - children's mystery, by Mary Urmston *
88. The Death Collector - YA historical/SF, by Justin Richards
94. Belly Up - YA, by Stuart Gibbs
95. A Wizard of Mars - YA modern fantasy, by Diane Duane
96. Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris - children's historical fantasy, by R L La Fevers
98. Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus - children's historical fantasy, by R L La Fevers
100. Anne of Avonlea - children's, by Lucy Maud Montgomery
103. Enchanted Glass - YA modern fantasy, by Diana Wynne Jones
104. Tell Me a Secret - YA, by Holly Cupala
105. The Face on the Milk Carton - YA, by Caroline B Cooney
106. A Tale of Time City - YA time travel, by Diana Wynne Jones
107. Bamboo People: A Novel - YA, by Mitali Perkins
109. A Hundred Million Francs (aka The Horse Without a Head) - children's mystery, by Paul Berna *
110. Crossing the Tracks - YA historical fiction, by Barbara Stuber
112. Family Reunion - YA, by Caroline B Cooney
114. They Never Came Back - YA, by Caroline B. Cooney
116. Both Sides of Time - YA time travel, by Caroline B Cooney
117. The Ransom of Mercy Carter - YA historical fiction, by Caroline B Cooney
118. Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher - children's picture book, by Laurel Snyder
119. The Moon in the Cloud - children's Bible story, by Rosemary Harris (Carnegie Medal, 1968)
122. Prisoner of Time - YA time travel, by Caroline B Cooney
123. The Swamp Shack Mystery - children's mystery, by Mary Urmston *
125. Collected Stories for Children - children's (short stories), by Walter de la Mare (Carnegie Medal, 1947)
126. City of Gold and Other Stories from the Old Testament - children's Bible stories (short stories), by Peter Dickinson (Carnegie Medal, 1980)
128. The Twisted Claw - children's mystery, by "Franklin W Dixon" *
130. Anson's Way - children's historical fiction, by Gary D Schmidt
132. The Secret of Skull Mountain - children's mystery, by "Franklin W Dixon" *
134. The 7 Professors of the Far North - children's adventure, by John Fardell
136. The Mystery of Skull Cap Island - children's mystery, by Marion Garthwaite *
138. The Flight of the Silver Turtle - children's adventure, by John Fardell
140. Bill Bergson, Master Detective - children's mystery, by Astrid Lindgren *
141. Everything on a Waffle - children's, by Polly Horvath
142. The Lantern Bearers - children's historical fiction, by Rosemary Sutcliff (Carnegie Medal, 1959)
144. Heir Apparent - YA SF, by Vivian Vande Velde
145. My One Hundred Adventures - children's, by Polly Horvath
146. Lulu and the Brontosaurus - children's, by Judith Viorst
147. Tom Tiddler's Ground - children's mystery, by John Rowe Townsend
148. The Kingdom and the Cave - children's fantasy, by Joan Aiken
149. The Missing Persons League - children's SF, by Frank Bonham
150. Northward to the Moon - children's, by Polly Horvath
151. The Lark in the Morn - children's, by Elfrida Vipont
152. The Lark on the Wing - children's, by Elfrida Vipont (Carnegie Medal, 1950)
153. Zombies vs Unicorns - YA fantasy (short stories), edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier
158. Mystery at the Villa Caprice - children's mystery, by Elizabeth Honness
159. Penny Dreadful - children's, by Laurel Snyder
161. Under the Blood-Red Sun - YA historical fiction, by Graham Salisbury
162. Hitler's Canary - YA historical fiction, by Sandi Toksvig
163. Future Eden: A Brief History of Next Time - YA SF, by Colin Thompson
164. Flambards - YA historical fiction, by K M Peyton
165. The Edge of the Cloud - YA historical fiction, by K M Peyton (Carnegie Medal, 1969)
167. Flambards in Summer - YA historical fiction, by K M Peyton
168. The Vanishing Shadow - children's mystery, by Margaret Sutton *
169. The Scarecrows - YA, by Robert Westfall (Carnegie Medal, 1981)
170. Enchanted Ivy - YA modern fantasy, by Sarah Beth Durst
171. Secret Water - children's, by Arthur Ransome
173. The Wool-pack - children's historical fiction, by Cynthia Harnett (Carnegie Medal, 1951)
175. The Haunted Attic - children's mystery, by Margaret Sutton *
176. Bearing the Saint - YA historical fiction, by Donna Farley
180. A Grass Rope - children's, by William Mayne (Carnegie Medal, 1957)
183. The Invisible Chimes - chidren's mystery, by Margaret Sutton

Non-Fiction (30)
1. The Depths of Courage: American Submariners at War with Japan, 1941-1945 - WW II, by Flint Whitlock and Ron Smith
6. The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution - world history, by Gregory Cochran
17. Churchill and His Generals - WW II, by Raymond Callahan
25. Warrior Queens: The Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth in World War II - WW II, by Daniel Allen Butler
26. Rick O'Shay, Hipshot, and Me: A Memoir - memoir, by Stan Lynde
38. The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century - English history, by Ian Mortimer
44. We Who Are Alive and Remain: Untold Stories from the Band of Brothers - WW II, by Marcus Brotherton
45. The Long Gone Lonesome History of Country Music - children's music history, by Bret Bertholf
49. Ragwings and Heavy Iron: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Flying History's Greatest Warbirds - aviation, by Martin Caidin
55. The Radium Woman - children's biography, by Eleanor Doorly (Carnegie Medal, 1939)
58. To Serve My Country, to Serve My Race: The Story of the Only African American WACs Stationed Overseas During World War II - WW II, by Brenda L Moore
63. The Story of Your Home - children's non-fiction, by Agnes Allen (Carnegie Medal, 1949)
72. Capyboppy - children's non-fiction, by Bill Peet *
81. Official Secret - WW II memoirs, by Clayton Hutton *
82. Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life - palaeontology, by Scott D Sampson
87. In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers, and the Mad Dreamers Who Tried to Build a Perfect Language - language, by Arika Okrent
89. We Were Pirates: A Torpedoman's Pacific War - WW II, by Robert Schultz and James Shell
91. In the Footsteps of the Band of Brothers: A Return to Easy Company's Battlefields with Sergeant Forrest Guth - WW II/travel, by Larry Alexander
92. Course 095 to Eternity - naval history, by Elwyn P Overshiner
102. A Sporting Chance: Unusual Methods of Hunting - hunting, by Daniel P Mannix *
108. Lucy's Legacy: The Quest for Human Origins - palaeoanthropology, by Donald C Johanson
111. Germania: In Wayward Pursuit of the Germans and Their History - German history, by Simon Winder
133. It All Started with Stones and Clubs - humour/history, by Richard Armour *
154. Dark Harbor: The War for the New York Waterfront - US history, by Nathan Ward
155. It All Started with Eve - humour/history, by Richard Armour *
156. Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France's Greatest Treasure - WW II, by Don and Petie Kladstrup
160. Can You Trust a Tomato in January?: Everything You Wanted to Know (and a Few Things You Didn't) About Food in the Grocery Store - food, by Vince Staten
172. Rival Rails: The Race to Build America's Greatest Transcontinental Railroad - US history, by Walter R Borneman
179. It All Started with Columbus - humour/history, by Richard Armour *
182. When London Was Capital of America - English history, by Julie Flavell


The biggest categories were SF (34), Carnegie Medal winners (24, bringing my total thus far up to 48 of the 71), historical fiction (21, not including the semi-historical fantasies and SF), mysteries (19), history (18) and fantasy (18). And 38 of the books were rereads.

My favourites? I thought A Wizard of Mars, by Diane Duane, Enchanted Ivy, by Sarah Beth Durst, and The Yiddish Policemen's Union, by Michael Chabon, were the best books I read all year. These 27 (listed in the order in which I read them) were also very good:
Between the Forest and the Hills, by Ann Lawrence
The Warrior Heir, by Cinda Williams Chima
Tom's Midnight Garden, by Philippa Pearce
When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead
The Wizard Heir, by Cinda Williams Chima
Larklight: A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in the Farthest Reaches of Space, by Philip Reeve
Starcross: A Stirring Adventure of Spies, Time Travel and Curious Hats, by Philip Reeve
The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century, by Ian Mortimer
The Hanging Hill, by Chris Grabenstein
Thirteenth Child, by Patricia C Wrede
Time Travelers Never Die, by Jack McDevitt
The Off-Islanders, by Nathaniel Benchley
Knight Crusader, by Ronald Welch (Felton Ronald Oliver)
Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life, by Scott D Sampson
Men, Martians and Machines, by Eric Frank Russell
We Were Pirates: A Torpedoman's Pacific War, by Robert Schultz and James Shell
Changes, by Jim Butcher
Major Ingredients: The Selected Stories of Eric Frank Russell, edited by Rick Katze
Bamboo People: A Novel, by Mitali Perkins
Conquistador, by S M Stirling
Wildside, by Steven Gould
Noninterference, by Harry Turtledove
Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France's Greatest Treasure, by Don and Petie Kladstrup
The Time Patrol, by Poul Anderson
Penny Dreadful, by Laurel Snyder
Secret Water, by Arthur Ransome
Bearing the Saint, by Donna Farley

I'm not setting a specific goal for this year.

Books, books and more books!

The public library purchased 11 of the 14 books I recommended in 2008, and 17 of the 22 I recommended in '09. In 2010, I was 20 for 26:
Tentacles, by Roland Smith
Dream Life, by Lauren Mechling
Mare's War, by Tanita S Davis
A Faraway Island, by Annika Thor
We Who Are Alive and Remain: Untold Stories from the Band of Brothers, by Marcus Brotherton
The Night Fairy, by Laura Amy Schlitz
The Returners, by Gemma Malley
Enchanted Glass, by Diana Wynne Jones
Belly Up, by Stuart Gibbs
Bearing the Saint, by Donna Farley
Tell Me a Secret, by Holly Cupala
Crossing the Tracks, by Barbara Stuber
Bamboo People, by Mitali Perkins
Dinosaurs Life-Size, by Darren Naish
Baxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher, by Laurel Snyder
Penny Dreadful, by Laurel Snyder
Lulu and the Brontosaurus, by Judith Viorst
Zombies vs Unicorns, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier
Enchanted Ivy, by Sarah Beth Durst
Firestorm!, by Joan Hiatt Harlow

The books I recommended but they didn't order were:
The Importance of Wings, by Robin Friedman
City of Cannibals, by Ricki Thompson
The Ravens of Farne, by Donna Farley
A Wizard of Mars, by Diane Duane *
Please Ignore Vera Dietz, by A S King *
Pegasus, by Robin McKinley *

Amazon.com links are provided for information, but buying from your local independent bookseller is strongly recommended - keep them in business!


* The library did buy these three books, though apparently not in response to my recommendations.

George Cross: J. Rogers

JONATHAN ROGERS, DSM

Chief Petty Officer (Coxswain), Royal Australian Navy; HMAS Voyager (D04)

Born: 16 September 1920, Llangollen, Denbighshire, Wales
Died: 10 February 1964, off the coast of New South Wales, Australia

Citation: In recognition of his outstanding gallantry and devotion to duty in saving life at sea when H.M.A.S. Voyager was sunk after collision on 10th February 1964, for maintaining the morale of junior ratings in great adversity, for organising the escape of as many as possible, and for supporting the spirits of those who could not escape and encouraging them to meet death alongside himself with dignity and honour. He upheld the highest traditions of service at sea and of his rating of Chief Petty Officer (Coxswain).

[London Gazette issue 43604 dated 19 Mar 1965, published 19 Mar 1965.]


Note: Voyager, a Daring-class destroyer, was rammed by the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne (R21) off Jervis Bay when the destroyer passed in front of the carrier during post-refit sea trials. Voyager was cut in two by the collision and sank; 81 (14 officers and 67 sailors) of the 314 men aboard were lost.

Victoria Cross: J. E. Commerell and W. T. Rickard

JOHN EDMUND COMMERELL

Commander, Royal Navy; commanding HMS Weser

Born: 13 January 1829, Grosvener Square, Central London
Died: 21 May 1901, Hyde Park, London

Citation: "When commanding the 'Weser,' in the Sea of Azoff, crossed the Isthmus of Arabat, and destroyed large quantities of forage on the Crimean shore of the Sivash."
This enterprise was performed by Commander Commerell [on 11 October 1855], at night, accompanied by William Rickard, Quartermaster, and George Milestone, A.B. Having hauled their small boat across the Spit of Arabat, they traversed the Sivash to the Crimean shore of the Putrid Sea. The magazine of corn, of which they were in search, lay about two miles and a-half off, and to reach it they had to ford two rivers, the Kara-Su and the Salghir. The forage and corn, amounting to 400 tons, were stacked on the banks of the latter river, in the vicinity of a guard-house, and close to from twenty to thirty mounted Cossacks, who were encamped in the neighbouring village. Commander Commerell and his two companions contrived to ignite the stacks, the rapid blazing of which alarmed the guard, who pursued them to the shore with a heavy fire of musketry, and very nearly succeeded in taking them prisoners.
(Despatch from Admiral Lord Lyons, 6th November, 1855, No. 899.)

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




WILLIAM THOMAS RICKARD

Quartermaster, Royal Navy; HMS Weser

Born: 10 February 1828, Stoke Damerel, Devon
Died: 21 February 1905, Ryde, Isle of Wight

Citation: "Accompanied his Commander, Lieutenant Commerell, of the 'Weser,' to the Crimean shore of the Sivash [on 11 October 1855], and, whilst under a heavy fire of musketry, remained to assist George Milestone, who had fallen."
(Despatch from Admiral Lord Lyons, 6th November, 1855, No. 899).
The service performed by William Rickard is thus described by Commander Commerell, in his despatch:--"I must bring to your notice the excellent conduct of the small party who accompanied me, more especially that of William Rickard, Quartermaster, who, though much fatigued himself, remained to assist the other seaman, who, from exhaustion, had fallen in the mud, and was unable to extricate himself, notwithstanding the enemy were keeping up a heavy fire on us, at the distance of thirty or forty yards, as we crossed the mud."

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

Medal of Honor: R. D. Shughart

RANDALL D SHUGHART

Sergeant First Class, US Army; 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment

Born: 13 August 1958, Newville, Pennsylvania
Died: 3 October 1993, Mogadishu, Somalia

Citation: Sergeant First Class Shughart, United States Army, distinguished himself by actions above and beyond the call of duty on 3 October 1993, while serving as a Sniper Team Member, United States Army Special Operations Command with Task Force Ranger in Mogadishu, Somalia. Sergeant First Class Shughart provided precision sniper fires from the lead helicopter during an assault on a building and at two helicopter crash sites, while subjected to intense automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenade fires. While providing critical suppressive fires at the second crash site, Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader learned that ground forces were not immediately available to secure the site. Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader unhesitatingly volunteered to be inserted to protect the four critically wounded personnel, despite being well aware of the growing number of enemy personnel closing in on the site. After their third request to be inserted, Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader received permission to perform this volunteer mission. When debris and enemy ground fires at the site caused them to abort the first attempt, Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader were inserted one hundred meters south of the crash site. Equipped with only his sniper rifle and a pistol, Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader, while under intense small arms fire from the enemy, fought their way through a dense maze of shanties and shacks to reach the critically injured crew members. Sergeant First Class Shughart pulled the pilot and the other crew members from the aircraft, establishing a perimeter which placed him and his fellow sniper in the most vulnerable position. Sergeant First Class Shughart used his long range rifle and side arm to kill an undetermined number of attackers while traveling the perimeter, protecting the downed crew. Sergeant First Class Shughart continued his protective fire until he depleted his ammunition and was fatally wounded. His actions saved the pilot's life. Sergeant First Class Shughart's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest standards of military service and reflect great credit upon him, his unit and the United States Army.


Notes: USNS Shughart (T-AKR 295) was named in his honour.

Shughart's team leader, MSG Gary I Gordon, also received a posthumous Medal of Honor for this action.