Mossie Plans and Elite Wallpaper

Now, we don’t often get this lucky! And something completely different.

A priceless collection of technical and engineering designs for the World War II Mosquito aircraft has been discovered hidden in a factory days before its demolition. An engineer found more than 20,000 drawings on microfilm cards in the building at Hawarden Airfield in Broughton, near Chester on the Welsh side of the border with England. This is the only complete archive of Mosquito technical drawings known in the world, all of which were top secret classified material during and after the war. It includes plans for experimental models that never made it to the prototype stage, including one that would carry torpedoes to attack German battleships, a previously unknown photo-reconnaissance plane, and a “Mosquito Mk I, Tropics” model that featured a compartment in the rear fuselage for storing desert equipment. It’s a great stroke of luck that they were discovered by an engineer who had the knowledge to recognize what a massive historical treasure he had stumbled upon and saved it before the bulldozers came in to raze the old factory and everything inside of it.

There is nothing the British do not have. They have the geniuses, and we have the nincompoops.” His bitterness was informed by personal experience, as a Mosquito raid on a Berlin radio station where he had been scheduled to deliver a speech delayed him by more than an hour.

It was the remarkable wooden construction that shortened the aircraft’s lifespan so dreadfully. Plywood and balsa don’t last long, so while its metal contemporaries like the Spitfire survived for decades after the war, the Mosquitos degraded into nothingness. Production stopped in 1950 and any surviving stock was left to rot in storage. The last airworthy Mosquito in Britain crashed at an air show in 1996, killing both pilots. There are only three Mosquitos in the world today that can fly, one in Canada, the other two in the US.

The microfilm archive was donated to The People’s Mosquito, a charitable organization that seeks to rebuild a crashed Mosquito so that the aircraft that has been credibly described as “the plane that won the war” can fly again over England’s green and pleasant land. The technical drawings will allow them to reconstruct the plane to modern aviation safety standards while ensuring its historical accuracy.

The charity hopes to resurrect the remains of a Mosquito night fighter that crashed at RAF Coltishall, in February 1949, while serving with No 23 Sqn.

Ross Sharp, engineering director for the project, said: “As you can imagine, restoring an aircraft that is 70 years old presents several challenges, one of which is a lack of information on the building techniques, materials, fittings and specifications.”

“These plans enable us to glean a new level of understanding and connection with the brilliant designers who developed the world’s first, true, multi-role combat aircraft.” […]

[The People’s Mosquito chairman John] Lilley said: “No other aircraft has amassed such a remarkable combat record in so short a time, flying so many different types of mission and excelling in each one.

“Even today, it remains one of the world’s most successful multirole combat aircraft, and it was all British, made by men and women who only a few months earlier had been building furniture and mending pianos.”

Despite the great boost the discovery of the archive gives the project, they still have a long ways to go before restoration can begin. Money is the issue. The estimated cost of the restoration is £6 million and only a small portion of that has been raised. If you’d like to pitch in, the People’s Mosquito has some in its shop, with all kinds of perks and takes online donations.

Cache of WWII Mosquito plans found days before destruction

A most worthy cause, I think.

This is nearly as neat.

When Philip Schuyler (1733-1804) began building his estate near Albany, NY in 1761, he was determined to make it a suitable home for his growing family as well as for his stature as a gentleman of wealth and property.

Called The Pastures, the brick house was to be elegant and substantial in its Georgian symmetry, and sit grandly on eighty acres high on the hill overlooking the Hudson (or North) River so that visitors coming to Albany from New York City would be sure to see it first. Twenty-eight-year-old Philip wanted his house to be as impressive inside as it was commanding from the exterior, and while the house was being built, he combined a business trip to London with something of a decorating spending spree.

Unlike most 18thc wallpaper which was block-printed, or “stampt”, this paper was painted entirely by hand in tempera paint in shades of grey – en grisaille was the term – to mimic engraved prints. In fact, the entire scheme of the papers was an elaborate trompe l’oeil to represent framed paintings and cartouches, all custom designed for the walls and spaces they would occupy.

This was, of course, extremely expensive, and as much a sign of Philip’s deep pockets as his taste. The wallpaper he ordered featured romantically scenic landscapes by the Italian painter Paolo Panini, and was called “Ruins of Rome.” The “Ruins of Rome” wallpaper was so rare and costly that there are only two examples of it known to survive in America: in the Jeremiah Lee Mansion in Marblehead, MA, and in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, which has installed the paper taken from the now-demolished Rensselaerwyck, the home of Stephen Van Rensselaer II, also near Albany. (Yet all status and expense is a matter of degrees; the scenic wallpaper was inspired by aristocratic rooms like this one from Ditchley Park, Oxfordshire, UK, which features real Panini paintings in gilded, carved frames and Genoese cut velvet on the walls.)

Not bad for the colonies though, I reckon. From Recreating the 18thc “Ruins of Rome” Wallpaper in the Schuyler Mansion

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The Mighty Endeavor

General Eisenhower speaks with members of the ...

General Eisenhower speaks with members of the 101st Airborne Division on the evening of 5 June 1944 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prologue:

Seventy-three years ago, night before last a Royal Air Force Group Captain delivered a weather briefing to an obscure American general. The general had an operation planned and the weather was very iffy. But, that general, who was a staff major in 1940 said, “OK, let’s go”

And so after planning and deception efforts reaching back to before Pearl Harbor, an operation was launched. It would invade France’s Normandy peninsula. It’s name was OVERLORD.

It was a huge risk, and there was no ‘Plan B’. If it failed, obviously that general’s career would end, his name was Eisenhower, by the way, so would his boss’s General Marshall, and probably his boss Franklin Roosevelt, for this was 1944, and it was an election year. The Prime Minister, and government, of the United Kingdom would fall.

But the real damage was none of these, these were individual men, and their fate, while important, was not critical. What was critical was that Central and Western Europe would become the prize of the war between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. This was the very last chance for freedom in and of the west.

And so, in one of history’s momentous decisions GEN Eisenhower said, “OK, let’s go”.

For planning purposes, everything had been planned to happen so many days before or after the day of execution, which up till that time had always been called “D-Day”. It never would be again. Because it was a singular operation, unlike anything seen before, and never seen again.

Prelude

Starting at about 0200 on Tuesday, the sixth of June, 1944, forever afterward known as D-Day, the United States 82d Airborne Division, and the 101st Airborne Division, the British 6th Airborne Division, the Canadian 1st Parachute Battalion, and other attached units parachuted into Normandy, more than 13,000 paratroopers. carried by 925 C-47 aircraft. The drops were badly scattered by winds and flak but eventually the units were able to consolidate and achieve their objectives. They also demonstrated how disruptive “little groups of paratroopers” can be to an enemy. They were joined later in the day by another 4000 glider-borne troops.

Shortly after 0630 the American 2d Ranger Battalion landed at Pointe de Hoc to begin their epic, and costly battle to take the bluffs, which held 6 German 155 mm guns.

The Main Event

U.S. Army troops wade ashore on Omaha Beach on the morning of 6 June 1944, although planned for the morning of 5 June, but delayed one day due to weather in France.

Gold, Sword, Juno, Omaha, and Utah, are now names which will live for ever in the iconography of freemen, but on 6 June 1944 the were merely code names, for the five beaches. At early dawn Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsey, gave the order to launch the invasion, I like to think that he actually used the traditional naval command, “Land the Landing Party”. If so, what a landing party: From the United States: 1st Infantry Division, 4th Infantry Division, 29th Infantry Division. From the British Army: 3rd British Infantry Division,  50th British Infantry Division. From the Canadian Army the  3rd Canadian Infantry Division. They were supported by 12,000 aircraft under Air Marshall Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, coming from the 8th United States Army Air Force, the 9th United States Army Air Force and the Royal Air Force’s 2d Tactical Air Force. The invasion fleet consisted of over 6,300 vessel ranging from battleships like the USS Texas to LCVPs that could land a squad of infantry.

It was a very near run event, as the current was high, the water was choppy, and the Germans had been reinforced. 12 Medals of Honor were won this day, including one by Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., (awarded posthumously) as well as a Victoria Cross. But the lodgment was secured and 11 months later Nazi Germany surrendered.

They went into battle with a prayer from America led by the President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas — whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them–help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.*

This is not meant to be a history of the operation, that would take several bookshelves and has been done, my purpose here is to commemorate these men and show how their achievement has altered history.

Aftermath

Most of you know the rough outlines of the story, the British stalled trying to take Caen. In fairness, the British could not afford to take casualties, remember they had lost almost an entire generation merely 26 years earlier. The Americans attacked into the bocage country of Normandy, which the American Army, as always designed for movement, found very difficult. The best explanation may well be that of “an irresistible force meeting an immovable object”.  Eventually, the force triumphed and 3d United States Army debouched onto the plains of France, stopping only when they ran out of gas in the approaches to Germany. As we have said, 11 months later, Nazi Germany surrendered.

Historical Consequences

But the invasion was a gamble, what would have happened if it failed? Undoubtedly, the Americans would have transferred whatever forces were left to the Mediterranean to be part of Operation Dragoon which landed in the south of France 2 weeks later. This could never have been a war winner though, the best it could have done is tied down some German forces from moving to the Eastern Front. So, the war in Europe would have ended with the Red Army conquering Germany, and who’s not to say they wouldn’t have come on through France as well. Simple prudence would seem to demand it, while the American emphasis would have been transferred to the war against Imperial Japan. The result is Europe from Portugal to the Urals, and from Lappland to Italy dominated by Moscow. But the Invasion succeeded due to the Valor of the English speaking peoples. There is a Churchill quote taken from his speech to the House of Commons on 18 May 1940 that comes to mind.

We shall never surrender and even if, which I do not for the moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, will carry on the struggle until in God’s good time the New World with all its power and might, sets forth to the liberation and rescue of the Old.

On Tuesday, 06 June 1944, the Americans and the Canadians, supported by the conquered people of Europe, in concert with the British Army, guarded primarily by the British Fleet, that promise was made good.

But it doesn’t end there either, for without this successful invasion, the Soviets would have controlled all of Europe, and probably still would. Would Britain have survived, for that matter would North America? It’s not for us to know, neither is it a sure thing.

But certainly, the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact would not have fallen as soon as 1990, thus making Europe from Portugal to the Urals and the North Pole to Sicily free.

As he often did, President Reagan said it better than anyone, when addressing those American Rangers we spoke of earlier, at the 40th anniversary of D-Day he said.

…The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers — at the edge of the cliffs shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting, only 90 could still bear arms.

Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there.

These are the boys of Pointe de Hoc.

These are the men who took the cliffs.

These are the champions who helped free a continent.

These are the heroes who helped end a war.

Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender’s poem. You are men who in your “lives fought for life…and left the vivid air signed with your honor….

This was the spirit that animated the entire force that conquered fascism, In the words of another great general, “They came, They saw, and They Conquered”. And so the lighted torch of freedom was maintained for another generation. But the struggle continues.

* I note, in passing, without comment, that President Obama opposed, and opposes, this prayer being placed on the World War II Monument in Washington D.C.

Ave atque Vale

Vulcan-Last-Touchdown

The Last Touchdown

One of those planes, an old friend who helped keep us free, and helped Maggie remind the Argies who they were messing with, made its last flight the other day.

She is a beautiful lady to watch, and if you haven’t seen footage of her at the airshows, or on the Port Stanley raid, look it up. There’s three still running and able to taxi, but the flying is past. But when you’re running out of riggers and fitters, that’s what happens. From WeaponsMan:

Even the name was over the hill: Avro, the company named for dawn-of-flight founder A.V. Roe, went the way of one firm after another: merged into a soulless, nationalized conglomerate in a series of Socialist-policy forced consolidations of the British aircraft industry. In the end, they wound up sending British aero engineering talent to Canada, and Canadian bungling (with the Canadian Avro company front and center) banked them off and down to the United States, where they were critical to the success of Apollo. The Avro Vulcan was the last of the line that began with spindly triplanes of bamboo and muslin and that rained terror and death from the night skies over Germany.

“If a single bomber gets through,” boasted Hermann Göring, today dismissed as a buffoon but a leading World War I ace, “you can call me Meier!” And a single bomber didn’t get through, but hundreds, and then a thousand — Handley-Pages and Vickers and, chief among them, Avros, every night the weather enabled flying, and some nights it really didn’t, and by day the Americans gave the repair crews and fire brigades no rest.

In the late 1940s, Britain was a nuclear power, and it had one of the world’s most powerful navies and a first-class air force. The British nuclear deterrent originally comprised a fleet of bombers, and for this purpose, three new airframes were designed, the “V-bombers,” the name redolent of V-E Day and referring to the plane’s names. Three airframes were chosen because the performance demands were so high that some of the engineering teams were taking great risks. One jet was a very conservative design (the Vickers Valiant), in case of failure of the two using radical wing planforms: the sickle-shaped “crescent wing” Handley Page Victor and the delta-winged Avro Vulcan. All three planes succeeded, but the performance of the Victor and Vulcan ensured a short life for the Valiant.

Source: Ave atque Vale: Flying Avro Vulcan | WeaponsMan

Vulcan-VX770

Over here we have a saying, that describes her well:

The Sound of Freedom

She’ll be missed.

It’s time to shatter the myths of the Battle of Britain

Today commemorated the climax of the Battle of Britain. You know the one, the one they made films about. And those few we still remember

‘The Few’ were immensely courageous, but the image of plucky Little Britain, David against the Goliath of Nazi Germany, is completely misleading

Seventy-five years ago today, fierce aerial battles were taking place over London and southern England, and later that evening, after the fighting was over and there was still no sign of a German invasion, reporters on the news announced some 185 enemy planes had been shot down. To all who heard it, and a large proportion of the population did, it appeared a significant victory had been won. Later, it emerged Sunday September 15 had also been the target date for Operation Sealion, the planned German cross-Channel invasion. With the RAF Fighter Command still in robust health, attempting such a high-risk venture was unthinkable. Two days later, Hitler postponed Sealion and then, on October 12, put it off indefinitely. Air battles continued and the night-time blitz lasted until May the following year, but the risk of invasion had passed.

Britain won because it was ready and prepared to fight such a battle

Few moments in British history have been so mythologised, however. Woven into the story is the image of plucky Little Britain, David against the Goliath of Nazi Germany. We portray ourselves as backs-to-the-wall amateurs, with those young and gallant Few the last line of defence against the mighty Molloch – after all, the Home Guard were not going to be much good against hordes of Panzers. By a whisker, we held out – but it was a close run thing and thank God Hitler decided to switch from attacking airfields and turned on London instead. It was tough on the East End, but it gave the RAF breathing space and the fight back was on.

Source: It’s time to shatter the myths of the Battle of Britain – Telegraph

That’s pretty much true, and I think we should add that fully integrated air defence system (in the summer of 1940) is above all one of the bequests to his country of Neville Chamberlin. For this is what he bought for Britain at Munich with his ‘piece of paper’. He too is one of the few, who placed his honour and his courage at the disposal of his country. Americans will recognize that we had nothing like it in Hawaii, over a year later.

And here is a bit more of the most beautiful aircraft ever built.

 

 

 

The Mighty Endeavor1

General Eisenhower speaks with members of the ...

General Eisenhower speaks with members of the 101st Airborne Division on the evening of 5 June 1944 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prologue:

Seventy years ago, night before last a Royal Air Force Group Captain delivered a weather briefing to an obscure American general. The general had an operation planned and the weather was very iffy. But, that general, who was a staff major in 1940 said, “OK, let’s go”

And so after planning and deception efforts reaching back to before Pearl Harbor, an operation was launched. It would invade France’s Normandy peninsula. It’s name was OVERLORD.

It was a huge risk, and there was no ‘Plan B’. If it failed, obviously that general’s career would end, his name was Eisenhower, by the way, so would his boss’s General Marshall, and probably his boss Franklin Roosevelt, for this was 1944, and it was an election year. The Prime Minister, and government, of the United Kingdom would fall.

But the real damage was none of these, these were individual men, and their fate, while important, was not critical. What was critical was that Central and Western Europe would become the prize of the war between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. This was the very last chance for freedom in and of the west.

And so, in one of history’s momentous decisions GEN Eisenhower said, “OK, let’s go”.

For planning purposes, everything had been planned to happen so many days before or after the day of execution, which up till that time had always been called “D-Day”. It never would be again. Because it was a singular operation, unlike anything seen before, and never seen again.

Prelude

Starting at about 0200 on Tuesday, the sixth of June, 1944, forever afterward known as D-Day, the United States 82d Airborne Division, and the 101st Airborne Division, the British 6th Airborne Division, the Canadian 1st Parachute Battalion, and other attached units parachuted into Normandy, more than 13,000 paratroopers. carried by 925 C-47 aircraft. The drops were badly scattered by winds and flak but eventually the units were able to consolidate and achieve their objectives. They also demonstrated how disruptive “little groups of paratroopers” can be to an enemy. They were joined later in the day by another 4000 glider-borne troops.

Shortly after 0630 the American 2d Ranger Battalion landed at Pointe de Hoc to begin their epic, and costly battle to take the bluffs, which held 6 German 155 mm guns.

The Main Event

U.S. Army troops wade ashore on Omaha Beach on the morning of 6 June 1944, although planned for the morning of 5 June, but delayed one day due to weather in France.

Gold, Sword, Juno, Omaha, and Utah, are now names which will live for ever in the iconography of freemen, but on 6 June 1944 the were merely code names, for the five beaches. At early dawn Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsey, gave the order to launch the invasion, I like to think that he actually used the traditional naval command, “Land the Landing Party”. If so, what a landing party: From the United States: 1st Infantry Division, 4th Infantry Division, 29th Infantry Division. From the British Army: 3rd British Infantry Division,  50th British Infantry Division. From the Canadian Army the  3rd Canadian Infantry Division. They were supported by 12,000 aircraft under Air Marshall Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory, coming from the 8th United States Air Force, the 9th United States Air Force and the Royal Air Force’s 2d Tactical Air Force. The invasion fleet consisted of over 6,300 vessel ranging from battleships like the USS Texas to LCVPs that could land a squad of infantry.

It was a very near run event, as the current was high, the water was choppy, and the Germans had been reinforced. 12 Medals of Honor were won this day, including one by Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., (awarded posthumously) as well as a Victoria Cross. But the lodgment was secured and 11 months later Nazi Germany surrendered.

They went into battle with a prayer from America led by the President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

My fellow Americans: Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest-until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men’s souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and good will among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home — fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas — whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them–help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the Nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too — strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us Faith. Give us Faith in Thee; Faith in our sons; Faith in each other; Faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister Nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.

Amen.*

This is not meant to be a history of the operation, that would take several bookshelves and has been done, my purpose here is to commemorate these men and show how their achievement has altered history.

Aftermath

Most of you know the rough outlines of the story, the British stalled trying to take Caen. In fairness, the British could not afford to take casualties, remember they had lost almost an entire generation merely 26 years earlier. The Americans attacked into the bocage country of Normandy, which the American Army, as always designed for movement, found very difficult. The best explanation may well be that of “an irresistible force meeting an immovable object”.  Eventually, the force triumphed and 3d United States Army debouched onto the plains of France, stopping only when they ran out of gas in the approaches to Germany. As we have said, 11 months later, Nazi Germany surrendered.

Historical Consequences

But the invasion was a gamble, what would have happened if it failed? Undoubtedly, the Americans would have transferred whatever forces were left to the Mediterranean to be part of Operation Dragoon which landed in the south of France 2 weeks later. This could never have been a war winner though, the best it could have done is tied down some German forces from moving to the Eastern Front. So,, the war in Europe would have ended with the Red Army conquering Germany, and who’s not to say they wouldn’t have come on through France as well. Simple prudence would seem to demand it, while the American emphasis would have been transferred to the war against Imperial Japan. The result is Europe from Portugal to the Urals, and from Lappland to Italy dominated by Moscow. But the Invasion succeeded due to the Valor of the English speaking peoples. There is a Churchill quote taken from his speech to the House of Commons on 18 may 1940 that comes to mind.

We shall never surrender and even if, which I do not for the moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, will carry on the struggle until in God’s good time the New World with all its power and might, sets forth to the liberation and rescue of the Old.

On Tuesday, 06 June 1944, the Americans and the Canadians, supported by the conquered people of Europe, in concert with the British Army, guarded primarily by the British Fleet, that promise was made good.

But it doesn’t end there either, for without this successful invasion, the Soviets would have controlled all of Europe, and probably still would. Would Britain have survived, for that matter would North America? It’s not for us to know, neither is it a sure thing.

But certainly, the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact would not have fallen as soon as 1990, thus making Europe from Portugal to the Urals and the North Pole to Sicily free.

As he often did, President Reagan said it better than anyone, when addressing those American Rangers we spoke of earlier, at the 40th anniversary of D-Day he said.

…The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers — at the edge of the cliffs shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting, only 90 could still bear arms.

Behind me is a memorial that symbolizes the Ranger daggers that were thrust into the top of these cliffs. And before me are the men who put them there.

These are the boys of Pointe de Hoc.

These are the men who took the cliffs.

These are the champions who helped free a continent.

These are the heroes who helped end a war.

Gentlemen, I look at you and I think of the words of Stephen Spender’s poem. You are men who in your “lives fought for life…and left the vivid air signed with your honor….

This was the spirit that animated the entire force that conquered fascism, In the words of another great general, “They came, They saw, and They Conquered”. And so the lighted torch of freedom was maintained for another generation. But the struggle continues.

* I note, in passing, without comment, that President Obama opposed, and opposes, this prayer being placed on the World War II Monument in Washington D.C.

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Au Revoir, No. 617 Squadron

200px-617sqn-600The RAF stood down No. 617 squadron the other day as they withdrew their Tornado GR4B aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth. They were tasked with a maritime strike role using the Sea Eagle missile. Usually we don’t really note things on the squadron level but No 617 is rather special.

It was originally set up on 21 March 1943 at RAF Scampton with personnel from the RAF, RCAF, RNZAF, and RAAF (UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia). It was set up in great secrecy to carry out one mission, codenamed OPERATION CHASTISE. The objective was the three dams that provided hydropower and flood control for the Ruhr valley. The mission, which was extremely difficult technically, was accomplished on the night of 17 May 1943. This mission is where the squadron got its nickname “The Dambusters”. After the raid, the original commander Wing Commander Guy Gibson was awarded the Victoria Cross. The squadron motto, on the crest shown above, was personally approved by King George VI.

For the rest of the war they continued with the specialist and precision bombing mission, which included sinking the Tirpitz in a Norwegian fjord.

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RAF:MOD

After the war they replace their Lancasters with Avro Lincolns and then English Electric Canberra jet bombers. After their return from Malaya they were stood down for a time and then returned with the Vulcan strategic nuclear bombers, in its various missions.

 

article-2591409-1CA5F59F00000578-107_964x639In 1983 they transitioned to the Tornado, first in a nuclear strike configuration and then in a maritime strike role.

They carry the following battle honors;


Second World War

  • Fortress Europe 1943–1945
  • The Dams 1943
  • Biscay Ports 1944
  • France and Germany 1944–1945
  • Normandy 1944
  • Tirpitz, Channel and North Sea 1944–1945
  • German Ports 1945

Gulf 1991
Iraq 2003

As a unit who has even had a movie made about it, there is of course an appropriate march, as well

Their website is here:http://www.dambusters.org.uk/

The good news is that No. 617 Squadron is scheduled to come back as the lead squadron with the F-35 Lightning II

 

 

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