St. Crispin/Crispian’s Day

Well, it’s St Crispin’s Day again, and that makes it a day to talk of the bravery of English and American armed forces, not that there is ever a bad day for that. St. Crispins Day is a pretty good encapsulation of our military histories though, always brave, sometimes badly led and more often than not, victorious. I was going to write something else this year but don’t have anything especially earthshaking to add.

From Wikipedia: “Saint Crispin’s Day falls on 25 October and is the feast day of the Christian Saints Crispin and Crispinian, twins who were martyred c. 286.” That’s where the day gets its name. What it’s famous for is the battles of the English-speaking peoples that have been fought on it.

The first we will look at took place during the “Hundred Years War”. Henry V of England with a small army was on his way to Calais, getting chased all over northern France by Constable Charles d’Albret of France. The French King (Charles VI) was mentally incapacitated. Henry was heavily outnumbered and decided to arouse his exhausted army before the battle by giving a speech.

The English won the battle with ridiculously low casualties while wreaking havoc on the French forces. The reason for this was the English (and Welsh) longbowmen, making this the first battle since Roman times when infantry was anything but a rabble for the knights to ride down.

For this reason, Agincourt is often cited as a victory for the freemen of England over the aristocracy.

Battle number two for the day wasn’t so kind to the British.

This one was a cavalry charge against Russian Artillery. It was commanded by Lord Raglan (Yes, the sleeves are named for him). The orders he issued were vague and Lord Cardigan (Yes, he designed the sweater) executed the worst possible interpretation of them. The charge was carried out by the British light cavalry brigade which consisted of the 4th and 13th Light Dragoons, 17th Lancers, and the 8th and 11th Hussars, whose bravery we have never forgotten. It was too well immortalized.

Charge of the Light Brigade

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
‘Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns’ he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Here’s a visual version.

It should be added that Great Britain didn’t do a great job of taking care of their veterans (neither did the U.S.) in those days.  Rudyard Kipling had this to say:

The Last of the Light Brigade

There were thirty million English who talked of England’s might,
There were twenty broken troopers who lacked a bed for the night.
They had neither food nor money, they had neither service nor trade;
They were only shiftless soldiers, the last of the Light Brigade.

They felt that life was fleeting; they knew not that art was long,
That though they were dying of famine, they lived in deathless song.
They asked for a little money to keep the wolf from the door;
And the thirty million English sent twenty pounds and four !

They laid their heads together that were scarred and lined and grey;
Keen were the Russian sabres, but want was keener than they;
And an old Troop-Sergeant muttered, “Let us go to the man who writes
The things on Balaclava the kiddies at school recites.”

They went without bands or colours, a regiment ten-file strong,
To look for the Master-singer who had crowned them all in his song;
And, waiting his servant’s order, by the garden gate they stayed,
A desolate little cluster, the last of the Light Brigade.

They strove to stand to attention, to straighten the toil-bowed back;
They drilled on an empty stomach, the loose-knit files fell slack;
With stooping of weary shoulders, in garments tattered and frayed,
They shambled into his presence, the last of the Light Brigade.

The old Troop-Sergeant was spokesman, and “Beggin’ your pardon,” he said,
“You wrote o’ the Light Brigade, sir. Here’s all that isn’t dead.
An’ it’s all come true what you wrote, sir, regardin’ the mouth of hell;
For we’re all of us nigh to the workhouse, an’ we thought we’d call an’ tell.

“No, thank you, we don’t want food, sir; but couldn’t you take an’ write
A sort of ‘to be continued’ and ‘see next page’ o’ the fight?
We think that someone has blundered, an’ couldn’t you tell ’em how?
You wrote we were heroes once, sir. Please, write we are starving now.”

The poor little army departed, limping and lean and forlorn.
And the heart of the Master-singer grew hot with “the scorn of scorn.”
And he wrote for them wonderful verses that swept the land like flame,
Till the fatted souls of the English were scourged with the thing called Shame.

They sent a cheque to the felon that sprang from an Irish bog;
They healed the spavined cab-horse; they housed the homeless dog;
And they sent (you may call me a liar), when felon and beast were paid,
A cheque, for enough to live on, to the last of the Light Brigade.

O thirty million English that babble of England’s might,
Behold there are twenty heroes who lack their food to-night;
Our children’s children are lisping to “honour the charge they made – ”
And we leave to the streets and the workhouse the charge of the Light Brigade!

OK, that’s two, only one more to go, 90 years later, to the day, halfway around the world

The Battle of Leyte Gulf

This time it’s the US Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy.

The Japanese realized that losing the Philippine Islands meant losing the war put everything they had left into this battle. Here a chart that shows the relative strengths.

Navy Large carriers Small Carriers Aircraft Embarked Battleships Cruisers Destroyers
United States 8 24  1712 12  24 141 
Japan 1 117 9  20 34

from: http://www.angelfire.com/fm/odyssey/LEYTE_GULF_Summary_of_the_Battle_.htm

From the chart, you can see how amazingly the USN had recovered from Pearl Harbor and the early battles of the war. You should also note that if the ship is not engaged in the battle it doesn’t count for much, so here we go.

The Japanese had a complicated plan depending on close timing between forces coming from various ports and operating under what we call EMCOM now. Essentially radio silence; meaning they couldn’t coordinate their attacks.

The Japanese carriers which had essentially no planes or pilots were used as a decoy force to try to pull Halsey’s 3d fleet away to the north. This worked, although it took them a long time to attract the Americans attention. When they were finally spotted Halsey went charging off after them until he was almost in gunshot and then turned around to help 7th fleet (which we are coming to). This also ended up being too late, so America’s premier naval force mostly sailed around burning oil and accomplishing not much of anything.

The Japanese Centre Force was first spotted in the Palawan Passage by the submarines Darter and Dace. Darter sank the Heavy Cruiser Atago which was Admiral Kurita’s flagship and Dace sank the Takao and severely damaged the Maya, which was forced to withdraw.

Halsey’s force made 259 sorties against the Centre Force eventually sinking the battleship Musashi with her 18.1-inch guns. They also did damage to some other ships. But Kurita made for the San Bernadino Strait at night with 4 battleships and 6 heavy and 3 light cruisers all fully operational.

Meanwhile, the Japanese Southern force including two elderly battleships under Admirals Nishimura and Shima were spotted on the morning of the 24th and Admiral Kincaid who realized they would attempt to attack the landing through the Surigao Strait was preparing to meet them. Kincaid’s 7th fleet had plenty of power for this.

The Battle of Surigao Strait

Rear Admiral Jesse Oldendorf had 6 old battleships (5 of which had been sunk at Pearl Harbor), 4 Heavy and 4 Light Cruisers, 26 destroyers and 39 PT Boats. He deployed his lighter ship along the side of the strait and formed his battle line. PT 131 made first contact and for 3 and a half hours the squadron attacked the Japanese force without a hit but, providing contact reports to the force. As Nishimura’s forces entered the strait the American destroyers attacked; hitting both battleships, the Yamashita was able to continue but, Fuso blew up and sank. Admiral Shima with the 2d Striking Force was much discouraged when he came upon the burning halves and other wreckage of the destroyer attack and decided to withdraw. So as Admiral Nishimura emerged from the strait to engage Oldendorf’s battle line, he had 1 Battleship, 1 Cruiser, and 1 Destroyer. Oldendorf crossed his “T”. Parenthetically this is what Lord Nelson risked with his battle plan at Trafalgar that we talked about a few days ago. The American Battle line started firing as they got range information (some had radar rangefinders and some didn’t) at about 30,000 yards. The Battleship was sunk, the Cruiser wrecked and somehow the Destroyer escaped. This was the last surface gun action in history.

The battle off Samar

USS Hoel

USS Hoel, from Wikipedia

7th fleet had 18 escort carrier divided into thee task units. They were equipped for fighting submarines and providing air cover to the landing, not for full on naval battle. These are usually referred to by their radio call signs Taffy 1, Taffy 2, and the most northerly, Taffy 3 under Rear Admiral Clifton Sprague. It was a routine morning until at 0647 Ensign Jensen from the Kadashan Bay sighted (and attacked) a force that he accurately reported as 4 Battleships and 8 Cruisers. The surprise was complete. A few minutes later heavy shells began falling around the carriers.

Admiral Sprague was in trouble. He was being chased by heavily armed warships which were considerably faster than his escort carriers and were already in range. He also had very few weapons that could hurt them. He started chasing shell splashes, making smoke, running away, and yelling for help, from 3d fleet, 7th fleet, a merciful God, or somewhere. At 0716 he also ordered his three destroyers, the Hoel, the Herrmann, and the Johnston, to counterattack the Japanese which they did with incredible bravery. At 0750 the Destroyer escorts also attacked. Remember these are anti-submarine ships with 5 in and 3-inch guns going on the attack against Battleships and Heavy Cruisers. Not terribly different from charging the Russian guns 90 years before. They attacked with torpedoes and guns and managed to disrupt the Japanese formation enough to give Sprague a chance to get away. All the available aircraft also attacked even though they weren’t carrying the proper (if any) ordnance for this work, they strafed and buzzed and annoyed the Japanese though.

By 0945 the Johnston, the Hoel and destroyer escort the Samuel B. Roberts had been sunk. and the escort carrier Gambier Bay was hit repeatedly by 8-inch shells and sank at 0907.

But Kurita had lost control of his formation (and was probably worrying about when 3d fleet would turn up) and broke off the action at 0911.

While Taffy 3 was doing all this, Taffy 1 was subjected to the first organized use of that new weapon: the Kamikaze, Taffy three would be so attacked in the afternoon.

And so we have St Crispin’s Day, a day of mostly victorious battle for the English-speaking peoples. The English win one with a “Band of Brothers”; the British lose one heroically and gloriously, and the Americans win one part easily, live through a terrible nightmare, while the American varsity is off hunting empty carriers.

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
   Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
   Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
One other thing comes down from the field of Agincourt to us. A proper disrespect for those who would tear down our countries. You know, Kipling’s lesser breeds without the Law. Well, we have a hand sign, that the longbowmen gave us.
Advertisements

The Immortal Memory

As we commented the other day, we have entered the season of critical Anglo-Saxon Battles, yesterday was the 237th Anniversary of Lord Cornwallis”s surrender to General Washington at Yorktown. In 1918 the victorious battles of the allies would soon result in the Armistice. But today is the anniversary of perhaps the most important battle of the modern age.During the negotiations with France when we were trying to buy New Orléans President Jefferson wrote an open letter regarding the return of Louisiana to France from Spain, where he commented that “on that day we shall have to marry ourselves to the British fleet and people”, meaning if France took control of Louisiana it would mean war between France and the United States, and later commented “that from that day forward France shall end at her low water mark” Of course we know that France sold Louisiana to the US so it ended well.

But, this is the day that France (and Spain) would forever lose control of the sea to Great Britain.

Today is the anniversary of a battle to rank with Salamis, with Waterloo, and with Yorktown. For today the English-speaking peoples with our concepts of individual liberty and rights took control of the sea.

That battle is Trafalgar. The battle was fought off of the south-west coast of Spain between the British Squadron with 27 Ships-of-the-Line and the combined French and Spanish fleets with 33.

The Franco-Spanish fleet was under orders to sail for Brest to help accomplish the invasion of England, which was, by far, Napoleons most steadfast enemy.

Remember these were sailing ships, completely dependent on the wind. and at Trafalgar, there was very little. The French and especially the Spanish were short-handed and had to fill their ship’s companies with soldiers. The British on the other hand had blockaded the coast for years and had been drilled mercilessly. Their commander, himself, had not been off the flagship for more than two years.

Alfred Thayer Mahan in his classic The Influence of Sea Power upon History puts it this way: “Those distant, storm-tossed ships, never seen by the Grande Armee, were all that stood between it and world domination.

And so today, in 1805, the battle was joined. The British had the weather gage and a very unusual plan. Because of the light wind (and against standing orders), they would divide their battle line in two, with each squadron approaching the Franco-Spanish line at an acute angle. With a well-trained enemy, this would have been nearly suicidal but, under these conditions it allowed the British to engage the entire fleet and win the battle in a single day.

The British were under the command of a man who had his introduction to naval war in the American Revolution, he fought in several minor battles off Toulon, was integral in the capture of Corsica, was captain of HMS Captain at the Battle of Cape St. Vincent. At the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, he lost his right arm, he won a decisive victory over the French at The Battle of the Nile and against the Danes at the Battle of Copenhagen.

At Trafalgar the British fleet went into battle with this signal flying from the flagship:

That flagship is, of course, the HMS Victory, which is now the oldest naval ship in regular commission in the world.

HMS Victory

HMS Victory, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth

The Admiral in command was Horatio, Lord Nelson.

Or to give him his full name:

Admiral Lord Nelson

The Most Noble Lord Horatio Nelson, Viscount and Baron Nelson, of the Nile and of Burnham Thorpe in the County of Norfolk, Baron Nelson of the Nile and of Hilborough in the said County, Knight of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Vice Admiral of the White Squadron of the Fleet, Commander in Chief of his Majesty’s Ships and Vessels in the Mediterranean, Duke of Bronté in the Kingdom of Sicily, Knight Grand Cross of the Sicilian Order of St Ferdinand and of Merit, Member of the Ottoman Order of the Crescent, Knight Grand Commander of the Order of St Joachim

as it is inscribed on his coffin in St. Paul’s Cathedral, for he was killed by a French marine during the battle.

The first tribute to Nelson was fittingly offered at sea by sailors of Vice-Admiral Dmitry Senyavin’s passing Russian squadron, which saluted on learning of the death.

It is also interesting Nelson being Vice Admiral of the White is the reason that the Royal Navy from that day flies the White Ensign before it flew all three depending on the fleet commander’s rank. The black hatband on British, American, and Russian naval enlisted caps all memorialize Nelson as well.

King George III, upon receiving the news, is reported to have said, in tears, “We have lost more than we have won”.

And the Times reported:

We do not know whether we should mourn or rejoice. The country has gained the most splendid and decisive Victory that has ever graced the naval annals of England; but it has been dearly purchased.

Great Britain would hold uncontested command of the sea, even joining World War I partly to prevent Germany from overtaking the Royal Navy until, in 1921, she agreed to parity with the United States at the Washington Naval Conference. And it should be noted, that even then, it was not willingly, Britain was exhausted and bankrupt from the Great War, and probably recognized that the US would use her sea power much as Britain had, which has proved to be the case. It is also from this date that the United Kingdom began to recede from the first rank of great powers, although her legacy has been for the most part upheld by the US and the Commonwealth.

That’s fine, I hear you say, what’s that got to do with me, especially as an American, these 212 years later? Several things which we will talk about a bit here.

  1. The Atlantic Slave Trade ended because the British decided that it should and the Americans agreed. This led to the establishment of patrols by both navies off the west coast of Africa, effectively ending the trade. Without this, and without the Abolitionist sentiment in the United Kingdom, it is almost inconceivable that slavery would have ended in the western world.
  2. The South and Central American Republics remain independent (and sometimes free) countries. After the Napoleonic wars, Metternich’s Council of Vienna considered all of continental Europe helping Spain recover her American colonies until they found out that they would have to go through the Royal Navy. Yes, we proclaimed the Monroe Doctrine in 1823 after Prime Minister George Canning proposed a joint statement, the story is that Secretary of State John Q. Adams said that would make us look like a cockboat in the wake of the British man-of-war. Therefore, we proclaimed it unilaterally. But it was enforced almost exclusively until the Spanish-American War by the Royal Navy because it was to the advantage of British mercantile interests. Britain thereby performed the same service for the New World that the US would for Europe in the last half of the Twentieth Century.
  3. The growth and development of America, if a continental power had regained control of Mexico there is a very good chance that it would have expanded into the heartland of America, certainly Texas and entirely possibly all or most of the Louisiana Purchase.

And so we, as Americans, even as the British, should remain grateful for those ‘distant storm-tossed ships’ of the Royal Navy, led by one of the great commanders of history.

And so, I give you the toast that will be drunk tonight in the Royal Navy and the Commonwealth navies, and at least in some places in the United States Navy and even in other navies and places. It is the one traditionally naval toast that is drunk in total silence:

The Immortal Memory of Lord Nelson and those who fell with him”

The traditional music to follow the toast is Rule Britannia.

And so today as the Queen Elizabeth, the first of the CVFs prepares to join the fleet, we again see the Royal Navy preparing to take on all the tasks that the Anglo-Saxons have performed for the world’s benefit since the Armada, itself.

In a remarkable coincidence, the other remaining warship of the period USS Constitution was christened on this day in 1797 at the Boston Navy Yard. While HMS Victory is the oldest ship in commission, USS Constitution (nicknamed “Old Ironsides”) is the oldest warship still afloat and able to sail on its own. Victory is in permanent drydock.

And yes, last night, this happened.

#Tyler Strong

Kavanaugh Ascendant

Mark Davis writing in Townhall.

In almost forty years of broadcasting and writing, I’ve spent a lot of time tracking the fates of the Republican and Democrat parties. In recent years, the main conservative thirsts have been for a more muscular and unapologetic conservatism and for the bright light of truth to be directed onto the darkest habits of modern leftists.

The election of Donald Trump has propelled us down a road featuring satisfying helpings of both. But on one stunning day, September 27, 2018, there arose Republican resolve like nothing in recent memory. The accompanying reputational suicide of several key Democrats tied a bow around a historic day for clarity.

The occasion was the totally unnecessary session of testimony by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his main accuser of sexual misbehavior, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. The occasion was needless because Dr. Ford’s story in no way rises to the level of credibility to dislodge the nomination. No decent society smears people for life based on high school misbehavior, so even if the wholly unsupported story were true, there would have been a strong argument against its relevancy today.

Nonetheless, there we were, a nation bathed in the glow of TV screens for a day that began with Dr. Ford’s compelling testimony. But the poised delivery of her story in no way increased its credibility. Only evidence can do that, and none arose to bolster her claim of a sexual assault at Kavanaugh’s hands.

For Kavanaugh’s part, he sat down with a bolder countenance than we saw on his understated Fox News interview. Flashing irritation reminiscent of Clarence Thomas’s 1991 excoriation of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he delivered an opening statement that doubled down on his already established denials, expanding to include special disfavor for the discredited tales woven by a New Yorker article and showboat attorney Michael Avenatti.

And then something snapped. Kavanaugh’s opening statement was really good, clear, and forceful. And his recounting of his 10-year-old daughter insisting on praying for Dr. Ford moistened many eyes, including mine. But the real turning point was Sen Lindsey Graham, who many of us have denigrated for many years. Yesterday, he justified his entire career.

Here is Mark Levin on the whole thing, including the salient speeches.

Yes, it is long, but what we are seeing here may be a turning point in the life of the Republic, or at least we may hope so now. Judge Kavanaugh and Senator Graham have made it possible.

I read this morning that the Senate Judiciary Committee has the votes to send the nomination to the floor, and the Senate has the votes to confirm. Good.

Now it is up to us, the voters, to continue the mission, to restore the Republic, to rekindle the beacon in the City on the hill. That is our mission as citizens of the Republic. We dare not fail.

American Leadership

OK, gang, no Kavanaugh from me today. I’m tired of it, and no matter how many leftist hacks err women claim he looked at them sideways while drunk and disorderly, I simply don’t believe them, not least because they can’t keep their story straight. It’s appropriate that ‘Creepy Porn Lawyer’ is horning in on the racket- it’s all on about his level.

But, still, I have a post to write. What should we talk about? Rosenstein? Nah – see above. How about Donald Trump’s diplomacy, after all, he’s at the UN this week. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

And Bob Barr over at The American Spectator had some stuff to say about it.

[S]peaking to a large gathering at Rice University stadium in September 1962, President John Kennedy challenged his countrymen to place a man on the surface of the moon and return him safely to the earth. At the time, many of those countrymen thought his dream unattainable, at least within the timeframe of a single decade as the President suggested. Yet, in less than seven years, a team of scientists and engineers accomplished exactly what Kennedy envisioned.

Late in his presidency, Ronald Reagan challenged his Soviet counterpart, Mikhail Gorbachev, to “tear down” the Berlin Wall; a structure that had stood for more than a quarter century as a seeming permanent monument to the strength of the communist system. His critics, and even some in his own political Party, sloughed off Reagan’s challenge as nothing more than a catchy soundbite delivered by an eloquent but elderly president. A mere two years later, the Berlin Wall and the totalitarian regimes it personified, began crumbling.

Early this year, President Trump publicly broached the likelihood of a personal meeting with North Korean strongman Kim Jong-Un, who just weeks before Trump had ridiculed as “Little Rocket Man.” Unsurprisingly, pundits were highly skeptical that a meeting between the two leaders would take place, and even if it did, that any meaningful substantive results would follow. But here we are, just three months after the Singapore Summit, and the leaders of the two Koreas — split apart and still technically in a state of war since 1950 — expressing optimism that the four nations directly involved in that oft-forgotten war (including China and the United States) will sign a peace treaty before the end of this year.

To perhaps a majority of decision-makers in Washington, New York, and elsewhere, believing such a scenario not only possible but likely would itself be deemed delusional. Democrats — who saw their last President, Barack Obama, constantly showered with praise as a visionary world leader throughout his eight years in office (including receiving the Nobel Peace Prize during his very first year as President) — scoff at the notion that Trump is capable of accomplishing something truly noteworthy in international affairs.

Read the rest, he makes some excellent points.

Bob speaks of these Presidents as thinking outside the box, and he’s not wrong, but there is more there, they all reflect the words of George Bernard Shaw, who said, “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

There is, in American leadership at its best, epitomized by these three an appealing sense that nothing is impossible. I think it is a very American thing, that comes from being such a young country that has accomplished so very much, through hard work and dedication. From Teddy Roosevelt on, if there is a great cause happening (and often a ridiculously naive one, to be sure), one can be sure that there is an American in it. Maybe it is our special gift, to think outside the box, to find a new perspective, to challenge ourselves, and the world, to be better than we think we are.

 

Respect, and Respects

So much of our life is to the background of music, at least in the modern world, with our cars and their radios. I use the older term intentionally because this post reaches back to the 60s when an AM radio was what we had. We got by comfortably.

What else we had was great music to grow up by, and those artists continue to pass over these days. One of the greatest was Aretha Franklin, who died yesterday, of pancreatic cancer.

Scott Johnson reviews the musical history, better than I can so I’ll just quote it. I also stole that perfect title from him.

The metaphor of royal lineage was not entirely amiss in Aretha’s case. Her father, the Reverend C.L. Franklin, was the renowned Detroit preacher whose New Bethel Baptist Church provided the original venue for Aretha and her sisters, Erma and Carolyn. She became a child star as a gospel singer, signing a recording contract with Columbia Records at age 18 via the legendary producer John Hammond. At Columbia Aretha floundered as the label tried to turn her into a nightclub singer. Columbia never quite found the means to showcase her awesome talent.

Aretha arrived in the spring of 1967, courtesy of Jerry Wexler and Atlantic Records. Wexler signed Aretha to Atlantic in the fall of 1966. He sat Aretha at a piano and placed her in the midst of sympathetic musicians at the famed Muscle Shoals Studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. “I Never Loved a Man (the Way I Loved You)” was the result, and everyone involved knew that Aretha had found herself musically.

The Atlantic session resumed in New York and included the recording of Otis Redding’s “Respect,” the song that broke Aretha nationally overnight. According to Peter Guralnick’s excellent history Sweet Soul Music, Redding had a foreboding. He told Wexler upon hearing Aretha’s version of “Respect” in the studio for the first time: “I just lost my song. That girl took it away from me.” Onstage at the Monterey International Pop Festival later that year, Redding reiterated: “The girl took that song away from me.” If you were listening to the radio in the spring of 1967, you remember: The girl took the song away from him.

Yep, the girl took the song away from him.

Nobody else singing it is authentic anymore, or ever will be for any of us.

The hits just kept on a coming, she was a goodly part of the soundtrack of the growing up of a generation. Scott again:

Aretha’s glorious body of work on Atlantic ensued and continued into the mid-1970’s. The albums are full of buried treasures such as “Dr. Feelgood” and “Don’t Let Me Lose This Dream” from I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967), “Going Down Slow” from Aretha Arrives (1967), “Ain’t No Way” and “Since You’ve Been Gone” from Lady Soul (1968), “I Say a Little Prayer” from Aretha Now (1968), “River’s Invitation” from Soul ’69 (1969), “Spirit in the Dark” from the album of the same name (1970), “Call Me” from This Girl’s In Love With You (1970), “Oh Me Oh My” and “Day Dreaming” from Young, Gifted and Black (1971), “You’re All I Need to Get By” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water” from Live at Fillmore West (1971), “How I Got Over” from Amazing Grace (1972), “Angel” from Hey Now Hey (The Other Side of the Sky) (1973), and “With Pen in Hand,” “Until You Come Back to Me” and “A Song for You” from Let Me in Your Life (1974), an album that is itself a buried treasure. (For another take on these recordings, see Wilson & Alroy’s record reviews.)

Scott also said this…

Listening to Aretha, I began to understand that soul music is secularized gospel music. I should have figured it out earlier, I admit, but I wasn’t familiar with gospel music. In “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man,” written by Dan Penn and Chips Moman, you can’t miss the lesson. What a tutorial this is, from her epochal 1967 debut on Atlantic. Here we arrive at a peak of Western civilization.

Completely right, and without him, I never would have realized it.

There is simply so much in the mix, this post could last all day. The Queen of Soul she was, and always will be. She indeed was a peak of our civilization. Behold:

And so now it is our turn to:

I never agreed with much that President Obama said, which you all know. But here, nobody could have said it better. How better than to end this.

The best there ever was or will be, and the best part is that she’ll be waiting for us. And yes, the beat goes on.

Rest in Peace

 

RAF Centenary 1918–2018

This came to me from The Churchill Centre, as it may have to some of you, by Robert Courts

The Mall leading from Buckingham Palace to Admiralty Arch is alive with red, white, and blue. Union Jacks combined with sky-blue RAF ensigns hang from every lamppost. The centenary celebration of the first air force to become a fully independent branch of any nation’s military is underway in London.

On the roof terrace above the House of Commons, the first aircraft appear: a lumbering phalanx of Chinooks, the distinctive rumble from their double rotors beating off the office blocks below. Next come the big stars passing the London Eye, roaring behind the scaffold-clad Elizabeth Tower, and zipping around the Foreign Office and Treasury buildings with their proudly displayed RAF station flags. The audience audibly gasps at the music of nine Rolls-Royce Merlin and Griffon engines powering the Lancaster, Spitfires, and Hurricane of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The national DNA stirs within every watching person.

The flypast slowly speeds up. The heavy transports from West Oxfordshire’s RAF Brize Norton lead the secretive intelligence aircraft from the old Bomber County of Lincolnshire before the brand new Anglo-American F-35s roar in to lead the centrepiece: twenty-two Typhoons—the backbone of the RAF’s modern fleet—forming a “100” figure in the sky. And as a finale, the world-famous Red Arrows slide in effortless formation across the grey sky, trailing red, white, and blue smoke as they go.

In Parliament Square, Whitehall, and Trafalgar Square, tens of thousands of people wear RAF roundel rosettes while their eyes search skyward. They clutch the augmented reality app to “collect” aircraft types as they appear. The iPhone app illustrates how far the RAF’s aviation has come. On Horseguards Parade, the RAF have brought a selection of their most famous aircraft for public display. The first—the BE2c, a canvas and wood contraption—is a world away from the digitally inter-connected, supersonic F-35s and Typhoons. Yet these radically different types of machine are separated by only 100 years.

For the RAF personnel of today, flying the plane is a basic skill compared with operating the mission systems on their complicated aircraft and that more akin to operating their iPhones than the “seat of the pants,” stick-and-rudder flight of the First World War.

In just a century, the Royal Air Force has gone from experimental novelty to the heart of British national identity. It has policed an Empire, taken help to the victims of natural disasters worldwide, flown a nuclear deterrent, fought for victory above the trenches, taken the fight to the enemy when no-one else could, and, in the long, hot summer of 1940, saved a nation and the free world before being justly immortalised by Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The Few may be fewer now than once they were, but they still lead the world, and have a richly-deserved place in the centre of Britain’s national life.

Robert Courts is Member of Parliament for Whitney.

I would have given much to be standing in, say, Trafalgar Square that day. Not least because the music of the Merlin speaks at a very deep level to one’s soul. Think of that, standing in the square honoring one of the greatest heroes of the English Speaking people, while honoring some of the bravest of them, the renowned “Few”.

Mr. Courts gives an accurate, albeit short history of the RAF, little point to adding to it in a general post. But the RAF (especially, but not only) epitomizes the toughness, the doughtiness, dare I say the pluck, of the British forces. It is one of the base causes of the modern world and needs to be more honored.

Part of the reason that this came through to us from The Churchill Centre is, of course, his speech which memorialized the RAF in the Battle of Britain:

The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the World War by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few. All hearts go out to the fighter pilots, whose brilliant actions we see with our own eyes day after day, but we must never forget that all the time, night after night, month after month, our bomber squadrons travel far into Germany, find their targets in the darkness by the highest navigational skill, aim their attacks, often under the heaviest fire, often with serious loss, with deliberate, careful discrimination, and inflict shattering blows upon the whole of the technical and war-making structure of the Nazi power. On no part of the Royal Air Force does the weight of the war fall more heavily than on the daylight bombers who will play an invaluable part in the case of invasion and whose unflinching zeal it has been necessary in the meanwhile on numerous occasions to restrain…

All true, and perhaps understated, here was the first check on Hitler’s designs, which led him in his hubris to take on the Soviet Union, thus leading to his regimes ignominious end.

The last paragraph of that speech spoke of another matter, one that foretold the future

…Some months ago we came to the conclusion that the interests of the United States and of the British Empire both required that the United States should have facilities for the naval and air defence of the Western Hemisphere against the attack of a Nazi power… We had therefore decided spontaneously, and without being asked or offered any inducement, to inform the Government of the United States that we would be glad to place such defence facilities at their disposal by leasing suitable sites in our Transatlantic possessions for their greater security against the unmeasured dangers of the future.… His Majesty’s Government are entirely willing to accord defence facilities to the United States on a 99 years’ leasehold basis… Undoubtedly this process means that these two great organisations of the English-speaking democracies, the British Empire and the United States, will have to be somewhat mixed up together in some of their affairs for mutual and general advantage. For my own part, looking out upon the future, I do not view the process with any misgivings. I could not stop it if I wished; no one can stop it. Like the Mississippi, it just keeps rolling along. Let it roll. Let it roll on full flood, inexorable, irresistible, benignant, to broader lands and better days

So it has proved, to the benefit of all the world, and that too was on display as the RAF flew over London the other day. Leading the current day warriors in their Typhoons, was the future, in the Anglo-American F35, the aircraft that is the future of air power in all the English speaking world. Unless I miss my guess, the F-35s were from the first squadron of Lightning IIs in the RAF, No 617 Squadron, the justly famed Dambusters. It is fitting that it should make its first ceremonial appearance leading the oldest air force in the world.

%d bloggers like this: