Through Adversity to the Stars

Well, in featuring our Easter series, we missed something yesterday. Yes, we missed April Fools Day, but that is not what I had in mind.

1 April 2018 was the centenary of the Royal Air Force. Almost the oldest air force in the world. Apparently, Finland’s is a  few months older, but was in a civil war at the time and had very few aircraft. Even then Britain Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service were formidable air forces. Here’s a bit about how it came about.

You have no doubt noticed that Britain consolidated the Navy and Army air services in forming the RAF, something America never did. In fact, to this day, we have three full-scale air forces: The US Air Force, the Navy’s air force, and the Marine’s air force. They all are multipurpose but have different emphases. USAF is ground-based, USN mostly carrier based, and USMC again mostly carrier based but geared toward air support of ground forces. But the US services are quite a lot bigger than Britain’s, and by the time the USAF was formed, in 1948, well, the various air services were far too entrenched and had much too much history for it to happen.

Then this, where the RAF saved Britain and the free world. If they had lost, it is highly unlikely that the war would have been won.

Churchill was never known for understatement, but truly he did when he said –

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.

That is part of the story, the easy part, defending one’s home. But defending oneself does not win wars. Wars are won by destroying anything that supports the enemy’s war effort. And Britain did superbly at that. That it is still controversial is appalling, wars, especially existential wars for survival, are fought with any available weapon. Bomber command did nothing that the Wehrmacht did not do at Stalingrad or the Red Army at Berlin. This is a fairly non-biased story of that.

Like the 8th United States Army Air Force, Bomber Command took horrendous casualties but saved many British and American soldiers lives. Was it as effective as they hoped? No. Giulio Douhet was wrong. Wars are not won by air campaigns, they are won by men with rifles and bayonets. But many of those soldiers lived because of the men in the bombers. And we didn’t have to fight the third round, against the Soviet Union, because those same men went on to convince the Soviets that they would be destroyed, as the Germans had been.

And it continues, we saw an example in our own time when a British Vulcan bomber strike mission launched in England struck Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands, disrupting the Argentinian command and control, easing the way for the ground forces to recover the island.

And now, a hundred years from its founding, the RAF is still looking to its future, as it too welcomes the F35 Lightning II into the inventory.

One of the things that caught my eye, that F35 on display bears the markings of one of the US Marine Corp squadrons (VMF). And that too is appropriate, since US Marine Corps wings will sometimes be assigned to Britain’s new carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, which looks like it will be second only in power to an American fleet carrier. And note this, the United Kingdom is the only power that the United States trusts enough to place entire units of our military under their command. Ever, this is the first time it has happened.

Congratulations to the Royal Air Force, and here’s to many more years of keeping the peace and fighting the wars of a free people.

The title is the accepted translation of the RAF motto.

And the final installment of our Easter series will come up at noon today.

 

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Mark Steyn On Mrs. Thatcher’s Losing Victory

English: The house where Margaret Thatcher was...

English: The house where Margaret Thatcher was born (Grantham) Français : Maison natale de Margaret Thatcher (Grantham) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So the British left managed to make Ding Dong the Witch is Dead number 1 on Amazon UK. Isn’t that special. Well at least what Mark Steyn calls the Moochkins are good at marching in lockstep. Lord knows that they’re useless for any productive use. Useless mouths, a just government would have left them to starve decades ago.

But I suppose that’s too much to ask for from a compassionate, multicultural government, you know, like the British, or for that matter the American. You all know how much of a fan of the Brits I am, but I’m beginning to wonder why, it seems like they have a death wish anymore, and you know, it’s hard watching your best friend attempt to commit suicide, especially when it feels like you may be following shortly.

Still, if our societies were to Follow the Yellow Brick Road on down to Oz, I wonder who we would find behind the curtain. See I’ve known this story all my life, and quite well too. On my first real job the man training me pointed out a lake cottage that had belonged to L. Frank Baum, and that doesn’t even count watching the movie every year. The thing is, the man behind the curtain isn’t any sort of wizard, he’s just another guy trying to make an obscene living by manipulating people.

Seems to work every time. We and the Brits have been lucky, right about the time our societies have been ready to go down, people like Baroness Thatcher, and President Reagan have shown up to keep us above water for another generation or so. Only thing is, I don’t see one, even on the horizon, on either side of the Atlantic, and it’s time for another one, maybe it’s already too late.

In any case Mark Steyn writing in National Review Online has a good bit to say as well, in his inimitable style

A few hours after Margaret Thatcher’s death on Monday, the snarling deadbeats of the British underclass were gleefully rampaging through the streets of Brixton in South London, scaling the marquee of the local fleapit and hanging a banner announcing, “THE BITCH IS DEAD.” Amazingly, they managed to spell all four words correctly. By Friday, “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead,” from The Wizard of Oz, was the No. 1 download at Amazon U.K.

Mrs. Thatcher would have enjoyed all this. Her former speechwriter John O’Sullivan recalls how, some years after leaving office, she arrived to address a small group at an English seaside resort to be greeted by enraged lefties chanting “Thatcher Thatcher Thatcher! Fascist fascist fascist!” She turned to her aide and cooed, “Oh, doesn’t it make you feel nostalgic?” She was said to be delighted to hear that a concession stand at last year’s Trades Union Congress was doing a brisk business in “Thatcher Death Party Packs,” almost a quarter-century after her departure from office.

Of course, it would have been asking too much of Britain’s torpid Left to rouse themselves to do anything more than sing a few songs and smash a few windows. In The Wizard of Oz, the witch is struck down at the height of her powers by Dorothy’s shack descending from Kansas to relieve the Munchkins of their torments. By comparison, Britain’s Moochkins were unable to bring the house down: Mrs. Thatcher died in her bed at the Ritz at a grand old age. Useless as they are, British socialists were at one point capable of writing their own anti-Thatcher singalongs rather than lazily appropriating Judy Garland blockbusters from MGM’s back catalogue. I recall in the late Eighties being at the National Theatre in London and watching the crowd go wild over Adrian Mitchell’s showstopper, “F**k-Off Friday,” a song about union workers getting their redundancy notices at the end of the week, culminating with the lines:

“I can’t wait for
That great day when
F**k-Off Friday
Comes to Number Ten.”

You should have heard the cheers.

Just such lovely people, the left, aren’t they. And then there is this:

Thatcherite denationalization was the first thing Eastern Europe did after throwing off its Communist shackles — although the fact that recovering Soviet client states found such a natural twelve-step program at Westminster testifies to how far gone Britain was. She was the most consequential woman on the world stage since Catherine the Great, and Britain’s most important peacetime prime minister. In 1979, Britain was not at war, but as much as in 1940 faced an existential threat.

Mrs. Thatcher saved her country — and then went on to save a shriveling “free world,” and what was left of its credibility. The Falklands were an itsy bitsy colonial afterthought on the fringe of the map, costly to win and hold, easy to shrug off — as so much had already been shrugged off. After Vietnam, the Shah, Cuban troops in Africa, Communist annexation of real estate from Cambodia to Afghanistan to Grenada, nobody in Moscow or anywhere else expected a Western nation to go to war and wage it to win. Jimmy Carter, a ditherer who belatedly dispatched the helicopters to Iran only to have them crash in the desert and sit by as cocky mullahs poked the corpses of U.S. servicemen on TV, embodied the “leader of the free world” as a smiling eunuch. Why in 1983 should the toothless arthritic British lion prove any more formidable?

And so. But the lion did just fine, and it’s still trying to do it’s part to support the increasingly rheumatic eagle. But. let’s let Mark end this, cause there’s no way I can do as well.

During the Falklands War, the prime minister quoted Shakespeare, from the closing words of King John:

“And we shall shock them: naught shall make us rue,
If England to itself do rest but true.”

For eleven tumultuous years, Margaret Thatcher did shock them. But the deep corrosion of a nation is hard to reverse: England to itself rests anything but true.

Mrs. Thatcher’s Losing Victory – Mark Steyn – National Review Online.

The Fleet Sails

Newsweek magazine cover, 19 April 1982. HMS He...

Newsweek magazine cover, 19 April 1982. HMS Hermes pictured. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you been enjoying Jess’s series on Margaret Thatcher as much as I have? I’m going to pick up the story now because this is a piece of history that Jess is too young to remember but I will never forget.

You see 31 years ago today the battle fleet sailed to protect recapture sovereign territory. No, not the 6th Fleet or even the 5th. It was the Royal Navy sailing to recapture the Falkland Islands from Argentina.

If you remember the Argentine army had occupied the Islands capturing the Royal Governor and a contingent of Royal Marines were forced to go to ground by the Argentines. I’m a very proud American and that picture bothered me. It bothered the Brits even more.

President Reagan found that because of our commitments we could not offer overt help, although we were there, to hold the ring and refuel Vulcan bombers and support the mission with satellite reconnaissance. We were also preparing to transfer the USS Iwo Jima to the Royal Navy if they happened to lose one of their carriers. Because of our commitments that was the best the United States could do. Other than cheer for our friends. Which we surely did.

Prime Minister Thatcher understood, and when the First Sea Lord, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry Leach proposed a workable plan,she approved it.

I’m also amazed by how little attention is given to another of the unsung heroes of the Falklands War – Admiral Sir Henry Leach. Leach, the First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, happened to be in Whitehall in full dress uniform on 2 April. With his boss the Chief of the Defence Staff away on an official visit, Leach took it upon himself to seek out the Prime Minister. At the time Mrs Thatcher was in her House of Commons meeting room with the Defence Secretary, Sir John Nott. Nott was outlining the difficulties that any military operation would entail. Leach was kept waiting outside by flunkies, but one Thatcher learnt of his presence, she asked for him to be shown in. Leach proceeded to explain that an operation to re-take the Falklands would be possible. And not only that, he overstepped his authority and explained that it SHOULD take place. When asked why he said this by Mrs Thatcher, he explained that ‘if not, soon we will be living in a very different country where words count for little’. Liking this, the Prime Minister sent him away with approval to form a task force. Apparently John Nott went white as a sheet. Not only had he been outplayed by one of his subordinates, but his defence reforms were in tatters. I am reminded of the officer in Bridge over the River Kwai, who loses grip on reality and tries to prevent the demolition of the bridge.

The other thing is, the Royal Navy was getting ready to scrap HMS Hermes.

The dockyard workers of Portsmouth Royal Dockyard – and indeed other places such as Plymouth and Chatham – prepared the fleet for action in an unbelievably short time. Argentina invaded the Falklands on 2 April. The Carrier Group – including HMS Invincible and HMS Hermes – sailed from Portsmouth on 5 April. Thats a turnaround of three days, to get two big, capital ships into action. The Hermes at least was destored.

Read this entire article.

And so on 5 April 1982 the HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible sailed.

In the same week that Hermes and Invincible departed, they were joined by Alacrity, Antelope, Broadsword, Fearless and Yarmouth; along with Brambleleaf, Olmeda, Pearleaf, Resource, Sir Galahad, Sir Geraint, Sir Lancelot, Sir Percivale and Stromness. The first Merchant vessels also departed – including Canberra from Southampton, carrying two Royal Marine Commando and a Para Battalion.

You should read this article also.

And so 31 years ago Great Britain sustained her honor and her claim as a Great Power by preventing a tinpot Argentinian junta from stealing her property and enslaving her people.

It should be noted that it has long been said that some powers like Germany and Russia can wield great power close to home, and some powers can wield power far from home like France, but very few can wield great power far from home, for the most part that would be the United States and the United Kingdom. And that makes the world a far safer place.

One of the things that has marked modern world history, since the defeat of the Armada in 1588 is that the seas have been ruled by the English speaking peoples, it is not coincidental that this period has seen the most marked advance of freedom the world has ever known.

Falklands 30 – the Fleet sails.

In those troubled times, with the cold war still going on, seeing the forces of a free nation take the field on their own to preserve their territory and their honor was a high point of the decade for this (and I suspect many another) Yank.

In these troubled times, it’s a reminder of what tough-minded leadership can accomplish when leading a free people. OK, here’s the video you expected.

It truly is a sight I will never forget.

The Fleet Sails

Newsweek magazine cover, 19 April 1982. HMS He...

Newsweek magazine cover, 19 April 1982. HMS Hermes pictured. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m a few days late here but, it probably doesn’t matter too much. 30 years ago the battle fleet sailed to protect recapture sovereign territory. No not the 6th Fleet or even the 5th. It was the Royal Navy sailing to recapture the Falkland Islands from Argentina.

If you remember the Argentine army had occupied the Islands capturing the Royal Governor and a contingent of Royal Marines were forced to go to ground by the Argentines. I’m a very proud American and that picture bothered me. It bothered the Brits even more.

President Reagan found that because of our commitments we could not offer overt help, although we were there, to hold the ring and refuel Vulcan bombers and support the mission with satellite reconnaissance. That was the best the United States could do.

Prime Minister Thatcher understood, and when the First Sea Lord, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry Leach proposed a workable plan,she approved it.

I’m also amazed by how little attention is given to another of the unsung heroes of the Falklands War – Admiral Sir Henry Leach. Leach, the First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, happened to be in Whitehall in full dress uniform on 2 April. With his boss the Chief of the Defence Staff away on an official visit, Leach took it upon himself to seek out the Prime Minister. At the time Mrs Thatcher was in her House of Commons meeting room with the Defence Secretary, Sir John Nott. Nott was outlining the difficulties that any military operation would entail. Leach was kept waiting outside by flunkies, but one Thatcher learnt of his presence, she asked for him to be shown in. Leach proceeded to explain that an operation to re-take the Falklands would be possible. And not only that, he overstepped his authority and explained that it SHOULD take place. When asked why he said this by Mrs Thatcher, he explained that ‘if not, soon we will be living in a very different country where words count for little’. Liking this, the Prime Minister sent him away with approval to form a task force. Apparently John Nott went white as a sheet. Not only had he been outplayed by one of his subordinates, but his defence reforms were in tatters. I am reminded of the officer in Bridge over the River Kwai, who loses grip on reality and tries to prevent the demolition of the bridge.

The other thing is, the Royal Navy was getting ready to scrap HMS Hermes.

The dockyard workers of Portsmouth Royal Dockyard – and indeed other places such as Plymouth and Chatham – prepared the fleet for action in an unbelievably short time. Argentina invaded the Falklands on 2 April. The Carrier Group – including HMS Invincible and HMS Hermes – sailed from Portsmouth on 5 April. Thats a turnaround of three days, to get two big, capital ships into action. The Hermes at least was destored.

Read this entire article.

And so on 5 April 1982 the HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible sailed.

In the same week that Hermes and Invincible departed, they were joined by Alacrity, Antelope, Broadsword, Fearless and Yarmouth; along with Brambleleaf, Olmeda, Pearleaf, Resource, Sir Galahad, Sir Geraint, Sir Lancelot, Sir Percivale and Stromness. The first Merchant vessels also departed – including Canberra from Southampton, carrying two Royal Marine Commando and a Para Battalion.

You should read this article also.

And so 30 years ago Great Britain sustained her honor and her claim as a Great Power by preventing an tinpot Argentinian junta from stealing her property and enslaving her people.

It should be noted that it has long been said that some powers like Germany and Russia can wield great power close to home, and some powers can wield power far from home like France, but very few can wield great power far from home, for the most part that would be the United States and the United Kingdom. And that makes the world a far safer place.

 

Falklands 30 – the Fleet sails.

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