29 January 2012

Victoria Cross: K. Muir


Major, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's)

Born: 6 March 1912, Chester, Cheshire
Died: 23 September 1950, near Kumch'on, South Korea

Citation: On 23rd September, 1950, "B" and "C" Companies of the 1st Battalion, The Argyll and Sutherlands [sic] Highlanders, attacked an enemy-held feature, Hill 282, and by 0800 hours had consolidated upon it.
Some difficulty was experienced in evacuating the wounded from the position and demands were made for stretcher-bearing parties to be sent forward by the Battalion. At this juncture the position came under mortar and shell fire.
At approximately 0900 hours a stretcher-bearing party arrived and with it came the Battalion Second-in-Command, Major K. MUIR. He proceeded to organise the evacuation of the casualties.
At approximately 0930 hours, small parties of the enemy started to infiltrate on the left flank necessitating the reinforcing of the forward platoon. For the next hour this infiltration increased, as did the shelling and mortaring, causing further casualties within the two companies.
By 1100 hours, casualties were moderately severe and some difficulty was being experienced in holding the enemy. In addition, due to reinforcing the left flank and to providing personnel to assist with the wounded, both companies were so inextricably mixed that it was obvious that they must come under a unified command. Major MUIR, although only visiting the position, automatically took over command and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, started to move around the forward elements, cheering on and encouraging the men to greater efforts despite the fact that ammunition was running low. He was continually
under enemy fire, and, despite entreaties from officers and men alike, refused to take cover.
An air-strike against the enemy was arranged and air recognition panels were put out on the ground. At approximately 1215 hours the air-strike came in, but unfortunately the aircraft hit the Companies' position instead of that of the enemy. The main defensive position was hit with fire bombs and machine gun fire, causing more casualties and necessitating the withdrawal of the remaining troops to a position some fifty feet below the crest. There is no doubt that a complete retreat from the hill would have been fully justified at this time. Only some thirty fighting men remained and ammunition was extremely low. Major MUIR, however, realised that the enemy had not taken immediate advantage of the unfortunate incident and that the crest was still unoccupied although under fire.
With the assistance of the three remaining officers, he immediately formed a small force of some thirty all ranks and personally led a counter-attack on the crest. To appreciate fully the implication of this, it is necessary to realise how demoralising the effect of the air-strike had been and it was entirely due to the courage, determination and splendid example of this officer that such a counterattack was possible. All ranks responded magnificently and the crest was re-taken.
From this moment on, Major MUIR'S actions were beyond all possible praise. He was determined that the wounded would have adequate time to be taken out and he was just as determined that the enemy would not take the crest. Grossly outnumbered and under heavy automatic fire, Major MUIR moved about his small force re-distributing fast diminishing ammunition and when the ammunition for his own weapon was spent, he took over a 2 inch mortar which he used with very great effect against the enemy. While firing the mortar, he was still shouting encouragements and advice to his men and for a further five minutes the enemy were held. Finally, Major MUIR was hit with two bursts of automatic fire which mortally wounded him, but even then he retained consciousness and was still as determined to fight on. His last words were: — "The Gooks will never drive the Argylls off this hill".
The effect of his splendid leadership on the men was nothing short of amazing and it was entirely due to his magnificent courage and example and the spirit which he imbued in those about him that all wounded were evacuated from the hill, and, as was subsequently discovered, very heavy casualties inflicted on the enemy in the defence of the crest.

[London Gazette issue 39115 dated 5 Jan 1951, published 2 Jan 1951.]

Medal of Honor: F. Du Moulin


Apprentice, US Navy; USS Sabine

Born: 1850, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died: unknown

Citation: On the 5th of September 1867, Du Moulin jumped overboard and saved from drowning Apprentice D'Orsay, who had fallen from the mizzen topmast rigging of the Sabine, in New London Harbor, and was rendered helpless by striking the mizzen rigging and boat davit in the fall.

27 January 2012

RIP: Delma Kollar

Delma Kollar
31 Oct 1897 - 24 Jan 2012

ZUI this article from the Eugene (OR) Register-Guard:
She lived in three different centuries and celebrated more birthdays than most human beings who ever lived. But just like the rest of us, Delma Kollar, the oldest known Oregonian, who was thought by official record-keepers to be the world’s fourth-oldest person, proved to be mortal after all. She died Tuesday morning at the Creswell Health and Rehabilitation Center at the age of 114. Or was it 113?


According to the Los Angeles-based Gerontology Research Group, which verifies the ages of supercentenarians (110 or older) worldwide for the Guinness Book of World Records, Kollar was born on Oct. 31, 1897.

Kollar’s family says she wasn’t issued a birth certificate until the 1950s. Family members say she was born Delma Dorothie Lowman on Oct. 31, 1898, in Lone Elm, Kan. But based on 1900 and 1910 census records found online a few years ago by Gerontology Research Group analyst Robert Young, the group listed her birthday as 1897.


A schoolteacher in Kansas and California before moving to Oregon in 1982 with her second husband, Harry Kollar, Delma Kollar outlived both her husbands (her first husband and college sweetheart, Earl Hoggatt, died in 1966) and two of her three children. She had six grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, 11 great-great-grandchildren and one great-great-great-grandchild.

Jean Cooper, 87, of Cottage Grove, is Kollar’s lone surviving child. Her other two children, Bill Hoggatt and Earlene Duncan, died in their 60s, he of congestive heart failure, she of a brain tumor. Kollar’s parents both lived into their 90s, and she had two aunts who lived past 100, according to a family history that Kollar put together years ago.

I haven't blogged about supercentenarians for a while. The Gerontology Research Group (GRG) reports that a total of 75 (71 women and 4 men) died in 2011, including 114-year-old Maria Gomes Valentim (9 Jul 1896–21 Jun 2011), of Brazil, who at the time of her death was listed as the oldest person in the world. Kollar is the fifth supercentenarian listed as dying in 2012, the others being Marcelle Narbonne (25 Mar 1898-1 Jan 2012) of France, Frederica Sagor Maas (6 Jul 1900-5 Jan 2012) of California, Terue Ichikawa (10 May 1900-19 Jan 2012) of Japan and Angela Rogges-Marvulli (19 Nov 1900-23 Jan 2012) of Italy.

The GRG's list of validated living supercentenarians (people who have reached their 110th birthday) currently includes 72 people (6 men and 66 women), ranging from Besse Cooper of Georgia (born 26 Aug 1896 in Tennessee) to Masayo Ogawara of Japan (born 2 Aug 1901). 19 of them live in the US, though none are in Oregon.

52 of the living supercentenarians were born in the 19th century, the youngest being Hermine Nistler of Austria (born 24 Dec 1900); the oldest of those born in the 20th century is Irene Pearce of England (born 5 Jan 1901). The oldest of the six men is Jiroemon Kimura of Japan (born 19 Apr 1897), the third-oldest living person.

24 January 2012

Beer Can Appreciation Day

Today. According to Holiday Insights, "Beer Can Appreciation Day celebrates that great day in 1935 when beer was first sold in cans."

Personally, I find it hard to appreciate anything that contains a substance as revolting as beer, but YMMV....

RIP: John F. Baker, Jr.

John F Baker Jr
30 Oct 1945 - 20 Jan 2012

ZUI this article from The State:
Army Master Sgt. John F. Baker Jr., who received the Medal of Honor for saving the lives of eight of his fellow soldiers, killing 10 Viet Cong and knocking out six machine gun bunkers after his unit was ambushed Nov. 5, 1966, in Vietnam, died Friday evening after collapsing in his Northeast Richland home. He was 66.


Baker was born in Davenport, Iowa, and went to high school in nearby Moline, Ill. In 2008, the I-280 Bridge connecting Davenport with Rock Island, Ill., was renamed in his honor.

During the Vietnam War, Baker was a 5-foot-2-inches tall, 105-pound “tunnel rat” – a soldier who, armed with only a pistol and a flashlight, would crawl into enemy tunnels to clear them. He was one of only 239 service members to receive the Medal of Honor in Vietnam.

There are now 83 living Medal of Honor recipients.

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


Sergeant (then Private First Class), US Army; Company A, 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division

Born: 30 October 1945, Davenport, Iowa
Died: 20 January 2012, Richland, South Carolina

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. En route to assist another unit that was engaged with the enemy [in the Republic of Vietnam, on 5 November 1966], Company A came under intense enemy fire and the lead man was killed instantly. Sgt. Baker immediately moved to the head of the column and together with another soldier knocked out 2 enemy bunkers. When his comrade was mortally wounded, Sgt. Baker, spotting 4 Viet Cong snipers, killed all of them, evacuated the fallen soldier and returned to lead repeated assaults against the enemy positions, killing several more Viet Cong. Moving to attack 2 additional enemy bunkers, he and another soldier drew intense enemy fire and Sgt. Baker was blown from his feet by an enemy grenade. He quickly recovered and single-handedly destroyed 1 bunker before the other soldier was wounded. Seizing his fallen comrade's machine gun, Sgt. Baker charged through the deadly fusillade to silence the other bunker. He evacuated his comrade, replenished his ammunition and returned to the forefront to brave the enemy fire and continue the fight. When the forward element was ordered to withdraw, he carried 1 wounded man to the rear. As he returned to evacuate another soldier, he was taken under fire by snipers, but raced beyond the friendly troops to attack and kill the snipers. After evacuating the wounded man, he returned to cover the deployment of the unit. His ammunition now exhausted, he dragged 2 more of his fallen comrades to the rear. Sgt. Baker's selfless heroism, indomitable fighting spirit, and extraordinary gallantry were directly responsible for saving the lives of several of his comrades, and inflicting serious damage on the enemy. His acts were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.

Newbery and Caldecott winners announced

The 2012 winner of the John Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children is Dead End in Norvelt, written by Jack Gantos and published by Farrar Straus Giroux. The Newbery Honor Books (ie, runners-up) are Inside Out & Back Again, by Thanhha Lai and Breaking Stalin's Nose, by Eugene Yelchin.

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 Ball for Daisy, written and illustrated by Chris Raschka, and published by Schwartz & Wade Books. The Caldecott Honor Books are Blackout, written and illustrated by John Rocco; Grandpa Green, written and illustrated by Lane Smith; and Me … Jane, written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell.

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: Where Things Come Back, by John Corey Whaley.

The Coretta Scott King Book Award, recognizing an African-American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults: (author) Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans, by Kadir Nelson, and (illustrator) Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom, written and illustrated by Shane W Evans.

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) Under the Mesquite, by Guadalupe Garcia McCall, and (illustrator) Diego Rivera: His World and Ours, written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh.

The Margaret A Edwards Award, for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults: Susan Cooper.

The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award, for the most distinguished book for beginning readers: Tales for Very Picky Eaters, written and illustrated by Josh Schneider.

The Robert F Sibert Medal, for the most distinguished informational book for children: Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade," by Melissa Sweet.

The YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award: The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery, by Steve Sheinkin.

The Mildred L Batchelder Award, for the most outstanding children's book translated from a foreign language and subsequently published in the United States: Soldier Bear, originally written in Dutch (as Soldaat Wojtek) by Philip Hopman and translated by Laura Watkinson.

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!!

22 January 2012

Victoria Cross: L. Calvert


Sergeant, The King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry

Born: 16 February 1892, Leeds, Yorkshire
Died: 7 July 1964, Dagenham, Essex

Citation: For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty in attack [on 12 September 1918, at Havrincourt, France,] when the success of the operation was rendered doubtful owing, to severe enfilade machine-gun fire. Alone and single-handed Sjt. Calvert, rushing forward against the machine-gun team, bayoneted three and shot four.
His valour and determination in capturing single-handed two machine guns and killing the crews thereof enabled the ultimate objective to be won. His personal gallantry inspired all ranks.

[London Gazette issue 31012 dated 15 Nov 918, published 12 Nov 1918.]

Medal of Honor: W. L. Nelson


Sergeant, US Army; 60th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division

Born: 22 February 1918, Dover, Delaware
Died: 24 April 1943, Djebel Dardys, Tunisia

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty in action involving actual conflict [at Djebel Dardys, northwest of Sedjenane, Tunisia]. On the morning of 24 April 1943, Sgt. Nelson led his section of heavy mortars to a forward position where he placed his guns and men. Under intense enemy artillery, mortar, and small-arms fire, he advanced alone to a chosen observation position from which he directed the laying of a concentrated mortar barrage which successfully halted an initial enemy counterattack. Although mortally wounded in the accomplishment of his mission, and with his duty clearly completed, Sgt. Nelson crawled to a still more advanced observation point and continued to direct the fire of his section. Dying of handgrenade wounds and only 50 yards from the enemy, Sgt. Nelson encouraged his section to continue their fire and by doing so they took a heavy toll of enemy lives. The skill which Sgt. Nelson displayed in this engagement, his courage, and self-sacrificing devotion to duty and heroism resulting in the loss of his life, was a priceless inspiration to our Armed Forces and were in keeping with the highest tradition of the U.S. Army.

17 January 2012

Hot Buttered Rum Day

Today is National Hot Buttered Rum Day. Strikes me as a good idea....

Recipe here.

Or here.

Or here.

Or here.

Variants here.

for the teetotalers.

15 January 2012

Victoria Cross: A. Atkinson


Sergeant, Yorkshire Regiment

Born: 6 February 1874, Leeds, Yorkshire
Died: 21 February 1900, near Paardeberg Drift, South Africa

Citation: During the battle of Paardeburg, 18th February, 1900, Sergeant A. Atkinson, 1st Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, went out seven times, under heavy and close fire, to obtain water for the wounded. At the seventh attempt he was wounded in the head, and died a few days afterwards.

[London Gazette issue 27462 dated 8 Aug 1902, published 8 Aug 1902.]

Medal of Honor: J. H. Denig


Sergeant, US Marine Corps; USS Brooklyn

Born: 8 September 1838, York, Pennsylvania
Died: 10 December 1876, York, Pennsylvania

Citation: On board the U.S.S. Brooklyn during action against rebel forts and gunboats and with the ram Tennessee, in Mobile Bay, 5 August 1864. Despite severe damage to his ship and the loss of several men on board as enemy fire raked her decks, Sgt. Denig fought his gun with skill and courage throughout the furious 2-hour battle which resulted in the surrender of the rebel ram Tennessee and in the damaging and destruction of batteries at Fort Morgan.

08 January 2012

Victoria Cross: R. C. Nesbitt


Captain, Mashonaland Mounted Police

Born: 20 September 1867, Queenstown, Cape Colony, South Africa
Died: 23 July 1956, Cape Town, South Africa

Citation: This officer, on the 19th June, 1896, led the Mazoe Rescue Patrol, consisting of only thirteen men, fought his way through the rebels to get to Salthouse's party, and succeeded in bringing them back to Salisbury, with heavy fighting, in which three of his small force were killed and five wounded, and fifteen horses killed and wounded.

[London Gazette issue 26850 dated 7 May 1897, published 7 May 1897.]

Note: Mashonaland is now a part of northern Zimbabwe.

Medal of Honor: Farley, Miller, Moore and Blake


Boatswain's Mate, US Navy; USS Marblehead

Born: 1835, Whitefield, Maine
Died: Unknown

Citation: Served on board the U.S.S. Marblehead off Legareville, Stono River, [South Carolina,] 25 December 1863, during an engagement with the enemy on John's Island. Behaving in a gallant manner, Farley animated his men and kept up a rapid and effective fire on the enemy throughout the engagement which resulted in the enemy's abandonment of his positions, leaving a caisson and 1 gun behind.


Quartermaster, US Navy; USS Marblehead

Born: 1835, Denmark
Died: 4 March 1914, Pennsylvania(?)

Citation: Served as quartermaster on board the U.S. Steam Gunboat Marblehead off Legareville, Stono River, 25 December 1863, during an engagement with the enemy on John's Island. Acting courageously under the fierce hostile fire, Miller behaved gallantly throughout the engagement which resulted in the enemy's withdrawal and abandonment of its arms.

Note: USS Miller (DD 535) was named in his honor.


Landsman, US Navy; USS Marblehead

Born: 1839, Ireland
Died: Unknown

Citation: Serving on board the U.S. Steam Gunboat Marblehead off Legareville, Stono River, 25 December 1863, during an engagement with the enemy on John's Island. Wounded in the fierce battle, Moore returned to his quarters until so exhausted by loss of blood that he had to be taken below. This engagement resulted in the enemy's abandonment of his positions, leaving a caisson and one gun behind.


Contraband, US Navy; USS Marblehead

Born: South Santee, South Carolina
Died: Unknown

Citation: On board the U.S. Steam Gunboat Marblehead off Legareville, Stono River, 25 December 1863, in an engagement with the enemy on John's Island. Serving the rifle gun, Blake, an escaped slave, carried out his duties bravely throughout the engagement which resulted in the enemy's abandonment of positions, leaving a caisson and one gun behind.

Note: According to Wikipedia, Blake was the second black to earn the Medal of Honor, and the first to actually receive the medal. At the time of this action he was serving as a steward to Lt Cmdr Richard W Meade, Marblehead's CO.
"Contraband" was a term used in the US military during the Civil War to describe escaped slaves who were serving with Union forces.

04 January 2012

Carnegie Medal books

Having finished reading the Newbery Medal winners in August of '09, I'm continuing with the books which have been awarded the Andrew Carnegie Medal - the British equivalent of the Newbery Medal, now awarded by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP).

The medal was first awarded in 1937, for the best children's book of 1936, but there have been three years when no book was considered suitable, so there are only 72 winners thus far. In addition to the gold medal, the winner receives £500 worth of books to donate to a library of his/her/their choice.

Here's the list. (Dates marked in red indicate the six books I had already read before last year; dates in purple indicate the ones I've read since.)

1936: Pigeon Post, by Arthur Ransome
1937: The Family from One End Street, by Eve Garnett
1938: The Circus is Coming (aka Circus Shoes), by Noel Streatfield
1939: Radium Woman, by Eleanor Doorly
1940: Visitors from London, by Kitty Barne
1941: We Couldn't Leave Dinah, by Mary Treadgold
1942: The Little Grey Men, by 'BB' (D J Watkins-Pitchford)
1943: Prize withheld as no book was considered suitable
1944: The Wind on the Moon, by Eric Linklater
1945: Prize withheld as no book was considered suitable
1946: The Little White Horse, by Elizabeth Goudge
1947: Collected Stories for Children, Walter De La Mare
1948: Sea Change, by Richard Armstrong
1949: The Story of Your Home, by Agnes Allen
1950: The Lark on the Wing, by Elfrida Vipont
1951: The Wool-pack, by Cynthia Harnett
1952: The Borrowers, by Mary Norton
1953: A Valley Grows Up, by Edward Osmond
1954: Knight Crusader, by Ronald Welch (Felton Ronald Oliver)
1955: The Little Bookroom, by Eleanor Farjeon
1956: The Last Battle, by C S Lewis
1957: A Grass Rope, by William Mayne
1958: Tom's Midnight Garden, by Philipa Pearce
1959: The Lantern Bearers, by Rosemary Sutcliff
1960: The Making of Man, by Dr I W Cornwall
1961: A Stranger at Green Knowe, by Lucy M Boston
1962: The Twelve and the Genii, by Pauline Clarke
1963: Time of Trial, by Hester Burton
1964: Nordy Bank, by Sheena Porter
1965: The Grange at High Force, by Philip Turner
1966: Prize withheld as no book was considered suitable
1967: The Owl Service, by Alan Garner
1968: The Moon in the Cloud, by Rosemary Harris
1969: The Edge of the Cloud, by Kathleen Peyton
1970: The God Beneath the Sea, by Leon Garfield and Edward Blishen
1971: Josh, by Ivan Southall
1972: Watership Down, by Richard Adams
1973: The Ghost of Thomas Kempe, by Penelope Lively
1974: The Stronghold, by Mollie Hunter
1975: The Machine Gunners, by Robert Westall
1976: Thunder and Lightnings, by Jan Mark
1977: The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler, by Gene Kemp
1978: The Exeter Blitz, by David Rees
1979: Tulku, by Peter Dickinson
1980: City of Gold and Other Stories from the Old Testament, by Peter Dickinson
1981: The Scarecrows, by Robert Westall
1982: The Haunting, by Margaret Mahy
1983: Handles, by Jan Mark
1984: The Changeover, by Margaret Mahy
1985: Storm, by Kevin Crossley-Holland
1986: Granny was a Buffer Girl, by Berlie Doherty
1987: The Ghost Drum, by Susan Price
1988: A Pack of Lies, by Geraldine McCaughrean
1989: Goggle-eyes, by Anne Fine
1990: Wolf, by Gillian Cross
1991: Dear Nobody, by Berlie Doherty
1992: Flour Babies, by Anne Fine
1993: Stone Cold, by Robert Swindells
1994: Whispers in the Graveyard, by Theresa Breslin
1995: Northern Lights, by Philip Pullman*
1996: Junk, by Melvin Burgess
1997: River Boy, by Tim Bowler
1998: Skellig, by David Almond
1999: Postcards From No Man's Land, by Aidan Chambers
2000: The Other Side of Truth, by Beverley Naidoo
2001: The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, by Terry Pratchett
2002: Ruby Holler, by Sharon Creech
2003: A Gathering Light, by Jennifer Donnelly**
2004: Millions, by Frank Cottrell Boyce
2005: Tamar, by Mal Peet
2006: ***
2007: Just in Case, by Meg Rosoff
2008: Here Lies Arthur, by Philip Reeve
2009: Bog Child, by Siobhan Dowd
2010: The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman
2011: Monsters of Men, by Patrick Ness
2012: To be announced....

So the count now is 56 down, 16 to go.

Nominations for the 2012 winner - a book first published in the UK between 1 Sep 2010 and 31 Aug 2011 (a book first published in another country must have been co-published in the UK within three months of the original publication date) - closed on 21 Oct 11. The short list will be announced in late March, and the winner in June.

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

** Published in the US as A Northern Light.

*** Up through the award for 2005, the winners were referred to by the year of publication. Beginning in 2007, the winners were referred to by the year the award was given, as with the American Newbery Medal. Thus there is no "2006 winner" of the Carnegie Medal. Tamar, the 2005 winner, was published in '05, and received the medal in '06. Just in Case, the 2007 winner, was published in '06 and received the award in '07.

Book list - 2011

Here's the complete list of books I read in 2011. I didn't set a goal for this year, so I can't report success in reaching it (nor must I admit to failure, either).

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

"Adult" Fiction (68 books)
1. Elleander Morning - AH, by Jerry Yulsman *
3. Six Geese A-Slaying - mystery, by Donna Andrews
4. Murder with Peacocks - mystery, by Donna Andrews
5. Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon - mystery, by Donna Andrews
6. Discord's Apple - modern fantasy, by Carrie Vaughn
8. Dreadnought - AH/steampunk, by Cherie Priest
10. The Masterharper of Pern - SF, by Anne McCaffrey
13. Cowboy Angels - SF, by Paul McAuley
14. Murder with Puffins - mystery, by Donna Andrews
15. Dragonseye (aka Red Star Rising) - SF, by Anne McCaffrey *
16. All the Weyrs of Pern - SF, by Anne McCaffrey *
17. Abracadaver - historical mystery, by Peter Lovesey
18. Here Abide Monsters - fantasy, by Andre Norton *
20. The Tick of Death (aka Invitation to a Dynamite Party) - historical mystery, by Peter Lovesey
21. Revenge of the Wrought-Iron Flamingos - mystery, by Donna Andrews
25. The Skies of Pern - SF, by Anne McCaffrey *
26. We'll Always Have Parrots - mystery, by Donna Andrews
30. Atlantis and Other Places: Stories of Alternate History - AH (short stories), by Harry Turtledove
33. Rough Cider - mystery, by Peter Lovesey
34. Dragonsdawn - SF, by Anne McCaffrey *
35. Cryoburn - SF, by Lois McMaster Bujold
38. No Nest for the Wicket - mystery, by Donna Andrews
39. Dragonflight - SF, by Anne McCaffrey *
40. The Penguin Who Knew Too Much - mystery, by Donna Andrews
41. Dragonquest - SF, by Anne McCaffrey *
44. Owls Well That Ends Well - mystery, by Donna Andrews
46. The White Dragon - SF, by Anne McCaffrey *
48. Other Worlds Than Ours - SF (short stories), by Nelson Bond
49. King David's Spaceship - SF, by Jerry Pournelle *
51. Cockatiels at Seven - mystery, by Donna Andrews
52. Agatha H and the Airship City - steampunk, by Phil & Kaja Foglio
53. Mirkheim - SF, by Poul Anderson *
54. Swan for the Money - mystery, by Donna Andrews
55. The People of the Wind - SF, by Poul Anderson
56. The Man Who Counts - SF, by Poul Anderson *
59. High Justice - SF (short stories), by Jerry Pournelle
63. Blind Justice - historical mystery, by Bruce Alexander
64. Stork Raving Mad - mystery, by Donna Andrews
66. Side Jobs - modern fantasy (short stories), by Jim Butcher
70. The Real Macaw - mystery, by Donna Andrews
72. A Flock of Ships - WWII fiction, by Brian Callison *
73. Ghost Story - modern fantasy, by Jim Butcher
74. The Old Buzzard Had It Coming - historical mystery, by Donis Casey
77. Hornswoggled - historical mystery, by Donis Casey
78. Alas, Babylon - WWIII fiction, by Pat Frank *
79. A Murder, a Mystery, and a Marriage - mystery, by Mark Twain
81. The Drop Edge of Yonder - historical mystery, by Donis Casey
84. The Tragedy of Pudd'nhead Wilson - humour, by Mark Twain
86. Over the Wine-Dark Sea - historical fiction, by H N Turteltaub
87. The Guns of the South - AH, by Harry Turtledove *
88. The Sky Took Him - historical mystery, by Donis Casey
89. Crying Blood - historical mystery, by Donis Casey
91. The Gryphon's Skull - historical fiction, by H N Turteltaub
93. The Trouble with Humans - SF (short stories), by Christopher Anvil
96. The Enchantment Emporium - modern fantasy, by Tanya Huff
97. Huck Finn & Tom Sawyer Among the Indians - fiction, by Mark Twain and Lee Nelson
103. The Sacred Land - historical fiction, by H N Turteltaub
104. Owls to Athens - historical fiction, by H N Turteltaub
105. Nemesis - historical mystery, by Lindsey Davis
106. Flint - western, by Louis L'Amour *
109. Fire Time - SF, by Poul Anderson *
111. Deathblow Hill - mystery, by Phoebe Atwood Taylor
115. Mystery of the Cape Cod Players - mystery, by Phoebe Atwood Taylor
116. The Sky People - AH/SF, by S M Stirling *
117. The Inheritance - mystery, by Simon Tolkien
118. Murder Comes First - mystery, by Frances and Richard Lockridge
119. The Man with the Iron Heart - AH/WWII fiction, by Harry Turtledove
120. Creepers - thriller, by David Morrell

Children's/YA Fiction (30)
7. Firestorm! - children's historical fiction, by Joan Hiatt Harlow
11. Please Ignore Vera Dietz - YA, by A S King
12. Moon Over Manifest - children's historical fiction, by Claire Vanderpool (Newbery Medal, 2011)
22. Time for the Stars - YA SF, by Robert A Heinlein *
23. The Shadows - children's fantasy, by Jacqueline West
24. Dragonsinger - YA SF, by Anne McCaffrey *
27. A Great Big Ugly Man Came up and Tied His Horse to Me: A Book of Nonsense Verse - children's poetry, compiled and illustrated by Wallace Tripp *
28. Dragonsong - YA SF, by Anne McCaffrey *
29. Rose's Are Red, Violet's Are Blue and Other Silly Poems - children's poetry, compiled and illustrated by Wallace Tripp
31. The Stronghold - children's historical fiction, by Mollie Hunter (Carnegie Medal, 1974)
32. Dragondrums - YA SF, by Anne McCaffrey *
37. The Exeter Blitz - children's historical fiction, by David Rees (Carnegie Medal, 1978)
42. Doggirl - YA, by Robin Brande
43. Everybody Sees the Ants - YA, by A S King (ARC)
57. Thunder and Lightnings - children's, by Jan Mark (Carnegie Medal 1976)
60. Ghost Drum - children's fantasy, by Susan Price (Carnegie Medal 1987)
62. Jordan Freeman Was My Friend - children's historical fiction, by Richard White
65. The Kindling - YA postapocalyptic, by Jennifer Armstrong and Nancy Butcher
67. Time of Trial - children's historical fiction, by Hester Burton (Carnegie Medal, 1963)
69. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate - YA historical fiction, by Jacqueline Kelly
71. Josh - children's, by Ivan Southall (Carnegie Medal, 1971)
75. Wolf - YA, by Gillian Cross (Carnegie Medal, 1990)
76. Aliens on Vacation - children's SF, by Clete Barrett Smith
80. The Latte Rebellion - YA, by Sarah Jamila Stevenson
85. The Snowstorm (aka The Snow Ghosts) - children's time travel, by Beryl Netherclift
90. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - YA, by Ransom Riggs
94. Into the Parallel - YA SF, by Robin Brande
112. The Hunger Games - YA SF, by Suzanne Collins
113. Catching Fire - YA SF, by Suzanne Collins
121. The Odious Ogre - children's, by Norton Juster

Non-Fiction (23)
2. Caesars' Wives: Sex, Power, and Politics in the Roman Empire - ancient history, by Annelise Freisenbruch
9. Maria: My Own Story - memoirs, by Maria von Trapp
19. Elsie and Mairi Go to War: Two Extraordinary Women on the Western Front - WW I, by Diane Atkinson
36. The Judith Durham Story: Colours of My Life - biography, by Graham Simpson
45. Thumbs, Toes, and Tears: And Other Traits That Make Us Human - palaeoanthropology, by Chip Walter
47. Vet in the Vestry - memoirs, by Alexander Cameron *
50. African Exodus: The Origins of Modern Humanity - palaeoanthropology, by Chris Stringer and Robin McKie
58. Roar of the Tiger - WWII memoirs, by James H Howard
61. The Making of Man - children's palaeoanthropology, by Dr I W Cornwall (Carnegie Medal, 1960)
68. Once & Future Giants: What Ice Age Extinctions Tell Us About the Fate of Earth's Largest Animals - ecology, by Sharon Levy
82. Gunsmoke Over the Atlantic: First Naval Actions of the Civil War - USCW, by Jack D Coombe
83. The Confederate States of America: What Might Have Been - AH, by Roger L Ransom
92. Grierson's Raid: A Daring Cavalry Strike Through the Heart of the Confederacy - USCW, by Tom Lalicki
95. The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics - humour, by John Pollack
98. Smugglers of Spirits: Prohibition and the Coast Guard Patrol - memoirs, by Harold Waters
99. Rum Row: The Real McCoy, the Bootleg Queen, and the Liquor Fleet That Fueled the Roaring Twenties - US history, by Robert Carse
100. Westward Bound in the Schooner Yankee - travel, by Captain and Mrs Irving Johnson
101. The Wolf: How One German Raider Terrorized the Allies in the Most Epic Voyage of WWI - WW I, by Richard Guilliatt
102. Sailing to See: Picture Cruise in the Schooner Yankee - travel, by Captain and Mrs Irving Johnson
107. Why Evolution Is True - science, by Jerry A Coyne
108. Four Queens: The Provençal Sisters Who Ruled Europe - European history, by Nancy Bazelon Goldstone
110. Yankee's Wander World: Circling the Globe in the Brigantine Yankee - travel, by Irving and Electa Johnson *
114. Here on Earth: A Natural History of the Planet - Gaia, by Tim F Flannery

The biggest categories were mysteries (28), SF (26), historical fiction (23), history (9), fantasy (8) and Carnegie Medal winners (8, bringing my total thus far up to 56 of the 72). Donna Andrews was the most-read author of the year (13 books), as I discovered the Meg Langslow mystery series; Anne McCaffrey was second (11), as I reread several of the Pern books. And 25 of the books were rereads.

My favourites? After reading Into the Parallel, by Robin Brande, I was all set to call it the best book of the year - but then in December I read The Hunger Games.... So the latter, by Suzanne Collins, gets the yellow sticky for Best Book I Read in 2011, and Brande's book comes in at number two, with The Enchantment Emporium, by Tanya Huff, and Ghost Story, by Jim Butcher, right behind them. These 24 (listed in the order in which I read them) were also very good:
The Masterharper of Pern, by Anne McCaffrey
Moon Over Manifest, by Claire Vanderpool
A Great Big Ugly Man Came up and Tied His Horse to Me: A Book of Nonsense Verse, compiled and illustrated by Wallace Tripp
Cryoburn, by Lois McMaster Bujold
Doggirl, by Robin Brande
Everybody Sees the Ants, by A S King (ARC)
Agatha H and the Airship City, by Phil and Kaja Foglio
Jordan Freeman Was My Friend, by Richard White
Stork Raving Mad, by Donna Andrews
Side Jobs, by Jim Butcher
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, by Jacqueline Kelly
The Real Macaw, by Donna Andrews
A Flock of Ships, by Brian Callison
The Old Buzzard Had It Coming, by Donis Casey
Alas, Babylon, by Pat Frank
The Latte Rebellion, by Sarah Jamila Stevenson
Over the Wine-Dark Sea, by H N Turteltaub
The Wolf: How One German Raider Terrorized the Allies in the Most Epic Voyage of WWI, by Richard Guilliatt
Why Evolution Is True, by Jerry A Coyne
Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins
Mystery of the Cape Cod Players, by Phoebe Atwood Taylor
The Inheritance, by Simon Tolkien
The Man with the Iron Heart, by Harry Turtledove
Creepers, by David Morrell

Having not set a goal for last year, I'm not setting one for this year either. But I do hope to do a lot more reading this year....

03 January 2012

RIP: Mike Colalillo

Mike Colalillo
2 Dec 1925 - 30 Dec 2011

ZUI this article from The Republic:
Mike Colalillo, the last Medal of Honor recipient in Minnesota, has died. He was 86.

Colalillo died Friday at a Duluth nursing home, the Dougherty Funeral Home confirmed Monday.

He received the nation's highest military honor for bravery in combat for killing or wounding 25 Germans and helping a seriously wounded comrade to safety during a fierce firefight near Untergriesheim, Germany, on April 7, 1945, toward the end of World War II.


In a 1949 news interview, Colalillo said: "I never wanted to kill anybody, and I never had any particular yen to be a hero. Heroes are a dime a dozen in my book."

Colalillo never called attention to his heroics, his daughter said.


Colalillo's wife, Lina, died in 2007. A daughter, Joan Colalillo, died in 2001. He is survived by [his daughter, Michelle] Schneeberger, and his son, Al Colalillo, of Hayward, Wis.

There are now 84 living Medal of Honor recipients.

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


Private First Class, US Army; Company C, 398th Infantry, 100th Infantry Division

Born: 2 December 1925, Hibbing, Minnesota
Died: 30 December 2011, Duluth, Minnesota

Citation: He was pinned down with other members of his company during an attack against strong enemy positions [on 7 April 1945] in the vicinity of Untergriesheim, Germany. Heavy artillery, mortar, and machinegun fire made any move hazardous when he stood up, shouted to the company to follow, and ran forward in the wake of a supporting tank, firing his machine pistol. Inspired by his example, his comrades advanced in the face of savage enemy fire. When his weapon was struck by shrapnel and rendered useless, he climbed to the deck of a friendly tank, manned an exposed machinegun on the turret of the vehicle, and, while bullets rattled about him, fired at an enemy emplacement with such devastating accuracy that he killed or wounded at least 10 hostile soldiers and destroyed their machinegun. Maintaining his extremely dangerous post as the tank forged ahead, he blasted 3 more positions, destroyed another machinegun emplacement and silenced all resistance in his area, killing at least 3 and wounding an undetermined number of riflemen as they fled. His machinegun eventually jammed; so he secured a submachinegun from the tank crew to continue his attack on foot. When our armored forces exhausted their ammunition and the order to withdraw was given, he remained behind to help a seriously wounded comrade over several hundred yards of open terrain rocked by an intense enemy artillery and mortar barrage. By his intrepidity and inspiring courage Pfc. Colallilo gave tremendous impetus to his company's attack, killed or wounded 25 of the enemy in bitter fighting, and assisted a wounded soldier in reaching the American lines at great risk of his own life.

01 January 2012

George Cross: B. Gimbert and J. W. Nightall


Driver, London and North Eastern Railway Company

Born: 6 February 1903
Died: 6 May 1976


Fireman, London and North Eastern Railway Company

Born: 1922
Died: 2 June 1944, Soham, Cambridgeshire

Joint Citation: As an ammunition train was pulling into a station in Cambridgeshire [on 2 June 1944], the driver, Gimbert, discovered that the wagon next to the engine was on fire. He immediately drew Nightall's attention to the fire and brought the train to a standstill. By the time the train had stopped the whole of the truck was enveloped in flames and, realising the danger, the driver instructed the fireman to try to uncouple the truck immediately behind the blazing vehicle. Without the slightest hesitation Nightall, although he knew that the truck contained explosives, uncoupled the vehicle and rejoined his driver on the footplate.
The blazing van was close to the station buildings and was obviously liable to endanger life in the village. The driver and fireman realised that it was essential to separate the truck from the remainder of the train and run it into the open. Driver Gimbert set the engine in motion and as he approached a signal box he warned the signalman to stop any trains which were likely to be involved and indicated what he intended to do. Almost immediately the vehicle blew up. Nightall was killed and Gimbert was very severely injured.
Gimbert and Nightall were fully aware of the contents of the wagon which was on fire and displayed outstanding courage and resource in endeavouring to isolate it. When they discovered that the wagon was on fire they could easily have left the train and sought shelter, but realising that if they did not remove the burning vehicle the whole of the train, which consisted of 51 wagons of explosives, would have blown up, they risked their lives in order to minimise the effect of the fire. There is no doubt that if the whole train had been involved, as it would have been but for the gallant action of the men concerned, there would have been serious loss of life and property.

[London Gazette issue 36623 dated 25 Jul 1944, published 21 Jul 1944.]

Notes: Frank Bridges, the signalman at Soham station, was also killed in the explosion.
In 1981, two Class 47 freight locomotives were named in honour of Gimbert and Nightall. Both of these having been withdrawn from service, on 2 Jun 04 - the 60th anniversary of the explosion - two Class 66 freight locomotives were also named in their honour.

Victoria Cross: S. Garvin


Colour-Serjeant, 1st Battalion, 60th Rifles

Born: 1826, Cashel, County Tipperary, Ireland
Died: 29 November 1942, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

Citation: For daring and gallant conduct before Delhi on the 23rd of June, 1857, in volunteering to lead a small party of men, under a heavy fire, to the "Sammy House," for the purpose of dislodging a number of the Enemy in position there, who kept up a destructive fire on the advanced battery of heavy guns, in which, after a sharp contest, he succeeded. Also recommended for gallant conduct throughout the operations before Delhi.

[London Gazette issue 22347 dated 20 Jan 1860, published 20 Jan 1860.]

Medal of Honor; W. J. Donovan


Lieutenant Colonel, US Army; 165th Infantry, 42d Division

Born: 1 January 1883, Buffalo, New York
Died: 8 February 1959, Washington, District of Columbia

Citation: Lt. Col. Donovan personally led the assaulting wave in an attack upon a very strongly organized position [near Landres-et-St Georges, France, on 14-15 October 1918], and when our troops were suffering heavy casualties he encouraged all near him by his example, moving among his men in exposed positions, reorganizing decimated platoons, and accompanying them forward in attacks. When he was wounded in the leg by machine-gun bullets, he refused to be evacuated and continued with his unit until it withdrew to a less exposed position.

Note: Lt Col (later Maj Gen) Donovan is best known as head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II.

Book list - Dec 11

Yankee's Wander World: Circling the Globe in the Brigantine Yankee - travel, by Irving and Electa Johnson *
Deathblow Hill - mystery, by Phoebe Atwood Taylor
The Hunger Games - YA SF, by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire - YA SF, by Suzanne Collins
Here on Earth: A Natural History of the Planet - Gaia, by Tim F Flannery
Mystery of the Cape Cod Players - mystery, by Phoebe Atwood Taylor
The Sky People - AH/SF, by S M Stirling *
The Inheritance - mystery, by Simon Tolkien
Murder Comes First - mystery, by Frances and Richard Lockridge
The Man with the Iron Heart - AH, by Harry Turtledove
Creepers - thriller, by David Morrell
The Odious Ogre - children's, by Norton Juster

Twelve books last month, two of them rereads (marked by asterisks). I didn't set an official goal this year, though I did expect to read around 150 books; the actual total turned out to be 121.

Again, no Carnegie Medal winners, so I'm still at only 56 of 72. Need to do something about that....