A moment’s pause

No bad science – just a small bit of family history.

Dr Aust, like many folk of a slightly pessimistic disposition, has to remind himself periodically that he is actually pretty lucky.

One of Dr Aust’s pieces of luck has been to live in an era where major wars have been absent, and compulsory military service ditto.

Dr Aust’s forebears were not so lucky. Or perhaps they were lucky in different ways, since both Dr Aust’s grandfathers survived military service and war, one in the Great War and the other in World War Two.

Dr Aust never met his paternal grandfather, who died a few years before Dr Aust was born, and who many years earlier in 1917 had fought at Passchendaele (the Third Battle of Ypres).  All that Dr Aust knows of his paternal grandad comes from Dr Aust’s father – himself later a national service conscript officer, though spared war service by the luck of being in a branch of the army (the engineers) who were not much in demand for the Korean War.

According to Dr Aust’s dad, the old man attributed his surviving WW1 to two things: first, being a decent shot with a Lewis gun (which meant that as a gunner he was always a fair few yards back from the advancing front line of his infantry platoon); and second, Bartonella quintana, (better known as trench fever), which got him “invalided out” of the line.

When I read the obituaries this Summer for Harry Patch, the last surviving British infantry soldier of WW1, I found that Patch had been a Lewis gunner at Passchendaele too, losing all the other members of his gun crew on one single day in September 1917. Dr Aust’s paternal grandfather, like so many others, lost his best friend, but at least he had the good fortune to make it home to his family.

Dr Aust’s maternal grandfather, the man I used to call Grandad when I was a kid, was the only professional soldier in the family, joining the army in the late 1930s and eventually rising to the rank of RSM (regimental sergeant major). He served through the WW2 North African campaign, and then in Burma, and after the war in the closing days of British India.

I was reminded of my maternal Grandad  a few months ago by a nice post of Dr Grumble’s which you can read here.

According to my mother, Grandad never spoke a word about the war to anyone in the family. Not a word in thirty years. I didn’t know until very recently that on the day before he died he made an exception, though probably an involuntary one. Having been hospitalised by the first stroke of a series that would quickly kill him, he suddenly wanted to tell his wife (my maternal grandmother) and his daughter (my mother) about the war. The memories had been buried deep for three decades or more, but not gone. I was reminded of something I read earlier this year about Britain’s last surviving veteran of the Western Front, Henry Allingham:

In November [2008], [Henry Allingham] took part in ceremonies to mark the 90th anniversary of the end of WWI.

Speaking before events began, Mr Allingham said he couldn’t forget the war even if he wanted to.

“I saw too many things I would like to forget but I never will forget them, I never can forget them,” he said.

Both Patch and Allingham long refused to talk about the war, but changed their minds late on in their lives, feeling that the memory of their lost friends, and the terrible cost of war, meant their recollections ought to be heard, especially by the young. I wonder sometimes whether Dr Aust’s grandparents would have felt the same if they had lived into their 80s or 90s. Anyway, read Dr Grumble’s post and see if you can work out why it brought back memories of his Grandad for Dr Aust.

Or read the obituaries for Henry Allingham here, and Harry Patch here and here.

And see why Dr Aust will be observing two minutes silence at 11 o’clock on the 11th.

Which brings me to something else. My Grandad, who liked to kick a football around with my brother and me, would put his medal ribbons on for Remembrance Day, but the only military badge he habitually wore was a rather odd one which he had on one of his overcoats, and which looked like this.

chindits-badge

Now I was curious, as children are, about Grandad’s badge, so I asked him what it was.  And he told me the name of the unit that wore the badge, and that his comrades had been “very brave men”.  So perhaps “never said a word” isn’t absolutely true.

Of course, these very brave men were not all stereotypical white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. Grandad himself was a Catholic Irishman, and many of the men he would have served with would have been Indian army troops, or Gurkhas. The expeditions included Burmese regiments, and West African soldiers too. Nothing new there for the British army, actually. When I was hunting about on Wikipedia and Youtube, I found that Indian Army professional soldiers were serving on the Western Front in 1914 at the first Battle of Ypres.

Which somehow reminded me of a bunch of people who have recently been trying to wrap themselves in the British flag, and the symbolism of Britain’s military history, including the World Wars. You can probably guess who I’m thinking of.

As an antidote to their opportunism and unpleasant message, you could try this, or this. Or possibly even this. And there is plenty more on Youtube for those with a taste for history.

Anyway, tomorrow at 11 I will be stopping to think of my two grandfathers – the one I knew and the one I didn’t. And also to spare a thought for all the others – whatever their race and nationality – who served, and especially those who weren’t as fortunate. And for the people they were connected to.

And I’ll try and remind myself, again, that I’m actually pretty lucky.

44 Responses to “A moment’s pause”

  1. Tweets that mention A moment’s pause « Dr Aust’s Spleen -- Topsy.com Says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Stephen Curry, CubanMule. CubanMule said: makes you think RT @Dr_Aust_PhD A moment's pause: http://wp.me/p7r3S-dN [...]

  2. alison Says:

    I too am one of the lucky ones. My paternal grandfather also fought at Passchendaele. If he hadn’t come back, my father would not have been born and neither would I.

    He lived to be 76 and he never spoke a word about it to anyone, either.

  3. David Colquhoun Says:

    For once, I don’t quite agree. I find the whole remembrance business sanctimonious and distasteful. Its constant emphasis on heroism disguises the fact that most of people who were slaughtered had no choice. They were victims of vain politicians and stupid generals, and that is how it should be remembered.

    I’ll remember it by watching, yet again, that most beautiful film, Oh What a Lovely War. I defy anyone to watch without ending up with a tear in their eye and deep anger at the folly of it.

    That’s why I have a white poppy on my twibbon today.

  4. Svetlana Pertsovich Says:

    I quite agree with David Colquhoun.

    No war! Stop wars!

    PEACE OF THE WORLD!

  5. draust Says:

    David, you should check out the Guardian obituary for Harry Patch, which quotes some of his views on the Great War. I don’t regard Remembrance Day the way the politicians do. My Grandad, the old soldier, used to go to the Remembrance service, and I understand why he used to go, but I wouldn’t go to one myself.

    I think most people who stop for a minute or two at 11 o’clock do it precisely to remember all those people swept up by war, many (most?) of whom never had a choice – “ordinary heroes”, if you like. And for me personally that includes the civilian casualties of war too, and the people who mourned the lost – all the victims of war, if you like. Though of course these two groups are not officially remembered on the day. But for me the day and the moment – not the official pomp and trappings – stand for all the lost and damaged of war, as much as anything can.

    Both Patch and Allingham rather serve to emphasise some of this, since they were not decorated medal winners, but rather two perfectly ordinary blokes who lived long enough to symbolise all those who had fought and died.

    The BBC obit for Allingham gets this quite nicely:

    On his visit to the Somme in 2006 [Allingham] was asked how he wanted to be remembered.

    “I don’t,” he said, “I want to be forgotten. Remember the others.”

    My personal introduction to the Great War was reading the war poetry of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon in the first year at secondary school – an experience common to many, according to this interesting piece today in the Guardian. I remember vividly reading Owen’s Anthem for Doomed Youth for the first time at school in an anthology of 20th century verse – it made a big impression on my 11 yr old self. The same school (a rather posh establishment) also had a war memorial, and we used to get marched out there for a compulsory parade at 10.45 am on Nov 11th. So my view on what it all might mean – the official version vs. the eye-witness version, if you want – was formed then, and has not changed much.

    I re-read Owen’s poems a few years ago when I read Pat Barker’s novel Regeneration, which you might remember I touched on when I wrote about the early psychiatrist /psychologist / neuroscientist WHR Rivers a while back. Of course, it was while Owen was a patient at River’s Craiglockhart War Hospital (a building I hear is now a part of Edinburgh Napier University) that he drafted the famous poem Dulce et Decorum Est.

  6. Andrew Says:

    David Colquhoun your comments on the “rememberance business” are disgraceful. We should recognise the heroism of the men and women who have given their lives, and continue to do so, for this country. The current conflicts in which British forces are engaged are clearly not without politcal debate but you should not insult the men and women involved, or indeed their relatives, by suggesting that they have no choice and were just blindly following politicians.

  7. David Colquhoun Says:

    @Andrew
    How on earth can my remarks be construed as insulting anyone? I think you should come back when you’ve watched the film and read a bit more about Douglas Haig and the rest.

  8. David Colquhoun Says:

    draust

    Your response is greatly appreciated The links couldn’t be more appropriate. When I said that “I find the whole remembrance business sanctimonious and distasteful”, I hoped it was obvious that I was talking about the official proceedings.

    Harry Patch was indeed amazing. He said

    “politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organising nothing better than legalised mass murder”.

    Haig said “I feel that every step I take is guided by the divine will”. So much like Bush and Blair.

  9. physicsmum Says:

    DC

    With all due respect, I’m afraid your (initial) comments do seem rather insulting, even if you didn’t mean it that way. I’m not sure what official proceedings you were watching, but here those who appreciate the services the most are the vets and their families. Who are we to deny them this small annual recognition of the huge sacrifices made by them, their friends and families?

    We will remember them, with sober words and songs, and the wearing of red poppies, proceeds from the sales of which go to fund much-needed programs for the old veterans.

  10. Svetlana Pertsovich Says:

    Listen to me, madame. All “much-needed programs for the old veterans” can (and must!) be made without stupid “red flowers”!
    However, PEACE is main thing, that our veterans need! And if today some idiots and scoundrels, sitting in governments, with lip homage organize “much-needed programs for the old veterans”, but tomorrow kill these veteran’s grandsons in new murderous war, then the veterans need no it!!! :(

    DAVID IS RIGHT!

  11. physicsmum Says:

    :O

  12. Bob Calder Says:

    Dr Aust; Despite your comment on my overly affectionate feelings for Equus, which I heartily deny (!) I am reminded of my son and the nature of his professional relationship with the politicians and the public he serves as a professional soldier.

    Remembering, each in his own way, is always good as reflection is always good for the mind.

    Rather than Equus, let us consider Titus Andronicus and the ungrateful state.

  13. draust Says:

    Thanks, Bob. I’ve added a couple of links for those who don’t know the plays alluded to.

    I don’t think it is a secret that ex-service folk frequently get less than brilliant support from the state they served – though it varies somewhat country by country, some better, some worse. The “poppy” sales that Svetlana was raging about fund ex-servicemen’s welfare programmes in the UK, which are needed because Govt provision is not enough. Of course, Govt. provision is rarely enough for most things, as people living on state pensions will usually tell you.

    In the UK an arresting stat is that there are more ex-service people in jails than there are British boots on the ground in Afghanistan – though most of the ex-military people in UK jails tend to be younger men whose military service was brief, so it is arguable that pre-existing “socialization problems” rather than “re-adjustment difficulties” is the reason.

    I am, as you can probably guess from my writing, a kind of instinctive pacifist, but not to the point where I imagine you can have a country with no army, or never send that army into action. I might wish that were true, but I don’t kid myself it ever will be.

  14. physicsmum Says:

    Indeed, realism can be depressing, but it is the only reasonable way forward.
    In an ideal world there would be no need for poppy funds, or food banks or homeless shelters, but sadly we don’t live in such a world and so must do what we can for those who need it.

  15. Svetlana Pertsovich Says:

    Yes? And what – is it impossible to organize the fund for veterans under WHITE flower? Or is it possible only under RED flower, eh?
    Oh, yes, of course! “Red flower’s” funds will pay more money! Because they are organized by governments, i.e. by politicians such as Thatcher, Bush, Blair, who need “cannon-fodder” for their “dirty political games”, i.e. they need idiots, who will kill each other, obeying the orders of scoundrels-politicians! Is it “realism” as you say? This is not realism! It is silliness!
    Do you call David’s and my opinion – “idealism” ? Not at all! It is not idealism. It is normal healthy opinion about the world and life! However, this opinion will not easily and simply gain a foothold in modern world, steeped in stupidity and aggression. People must defend this opinion. And it is difficult, of course. Certainly it is more easier and simpler to eat away from a trough, which politicians put before you and not to think that they fatten you to kill you then!

    Oh! Idiots are main danger for the world! And they could destroy the world. But, fortunately, Nature invented a mechanism of self-destruction within themselves! They want to kill each other themselves! They want to make a war themselves! Do you want to make a war, Dr. Aust and Bob, eh? And do you want to send your children to a war? Welcome! Go to a war! And send your children! Bob’s son is a soldier already. And did you produce your two children for war too, Doc, did you? Go and kill each other! And after this I shall live in this clean world, free of fools. And I shall produce my own children. Clever children.
    Don’t you like my cynicism, eh? And I don’t like your brainlessness!! Switch on you brains, please, and think!

    [EDIT - Some irrelevant personal stuff removed]

  16. draust Says:

    Calm down, Svetlana.

    I don’t want my son to be a soldier. I want him to grow up to do something nice and safe, and preferably well-paid. A lawyer, perhaps. As long as he doesn’t do libel cases. Or a teacher, though not in the UK as they are treated like crap here.

    Now, would I try and STOP my kid doing it – joining the army – if it was what he told me he really wanted to do?

    Well, I’m pretty sure I would try and talk him out of it. I wouldn’t be at all happy if the son (or the daughter) wanted to do a job where they might be called upon to shoot someone.

    Nor would I be happy about the danger. Just as I wouldn’t be happy if a child of mine took up hang-gliding – a Professor I knew by sight just died in a hang-gliding accident – or mountaineering. I have a friend who is a serious rock climber who knew a lot of vaguely famous mountaineers when he was younger, many (most?) of whom have since died in mountain accidents.

    BUT….

    …could I STOP the kids joining the army, if that was what they really WANTED to do?

    Well, no I couldn’t, once they are adults.

    Would I refuse to talk to them if they did it?

    No – what would that prove?

    This is not an entirely academic question, because I know an academic in my field, in a neighbouring University, who was telling me back in the Summer that his son actually has joined the army. Were the parents happy? I don’t think so. But it is what their son wants, so they have to accept it.

    You love your children, but you don’t own them.

  17. Svetlana Pertsovich Says:

    Hmmm…
    And I said already when I shall have own children. In general case – when I shall cease to deal with fools….

  18. Nash Says:

    In the UK, the poppy fund was set up by Alexander Haig.

  19. Nash Says:

    I meant Gen Douglas Haig

  20. draust Says:

    Or Earl Haig, as he later became.

    Haig was certainly involved with the setting up of the British Legion, which has always run the Poppy Appeal.

    Haig is an extremely controversial figure, as his Wikipedia entry makes clear. The portrait of him that has gained the most popular “traction” is the one that comes from literature and film, e.g. in the excoriating Oh What a Lovely War! (see also David Colquhoun’s link above). This kind of view of the WW1 generals is the basis of Stephen Fry’s General Melchett in Blackadder (who is a sort of composite of Generals Kitchener, Haig and Allenby), and can also be found in early form in Great War poems like Siegfried Sassoon’s poem The General:

    “Good-morning; good-morning!” the General said
    When we met him last week on our way to the line.
    Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of ’em dead,
    And we’re cursing his staff for incompetent swine.
    “He’s a cheery old card,” grunted Harry to Jack
    As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack.

    But he did for them both by his plan of attack.

    However – it is fair to say that most of the professional historians (especially the military ones) do not agree with this view of Haig, seeing him more as an adequate commander trapped by the military doctrine of the time and by circumstance. The Wikipedia entry discusses all this quite interestingly.

    Anyway, it is not in dispute that Haig commanded the British Army through a time of appalling and unprecedented losses, to which the tactics employed undoubtedly contributed a great deal. Nor is it in dispute that Haig spent most of his life after the war working for ex-servicemens’ welfare. Guilt or sense of duty as the former commander? Or a bit of both? Who can say.

    One interesting thing I discovered about Haig was that he had a son, who succeeded him as (the 2nd) Earl Haig, born in 1918 and who only died this Summer past aged 91. Another reminder that the events of the Great War are not as distant as one sometimes thinks.

    The emotions that talking about the Great War can arouse in people reminds me of William Faulkner’s famous line:

    “The past is never dead. It’s not even past”

    Faulkner Requiem for a Nun 1951

    I always used to think of this line when the subject of Northern Ireland came up, and it is equally apt for many an unresolved conflict. Barack Obama used it in one of his most famous campaign speeches, though I’m told he misquoted / paraphrased it.

  21. Svetlana Pertsovich Says:

    The past? I see you remember this past very badly!
    If you recollected history, remember what was AFTER 11 november 1918. Had the war finished? Not at all. If you speak so, you tell a lie.
    Germans attacked my country after 11 november 1918. And then all of you attacked my country.
    But we won.
    However you triggered off new war -WWII.
    But we won again.
    Nevertheless you didn’t settle down and started Cold war.
    Now you are winning. Still.

    And David is one of few who proposes to make peace now. He understands that your victory needs to be stabilized. He understands that peace is the only strategy, which will save you and allow you to survive. Continuation of war will kill your society.

    Moreover, we agree with him! We want a peace, though the conditions, which you dictate us are humiliating and unacceptable for us. Why do we do so? Because peace is always better than war.

    But many of you, unlike David, can’t understand it. You want to continue a war up to “complete victory”. In other words, you prefer to think by arse, not by head. You even produce your children only to kill them in new war! :(

    Well. Then – here is a question to you. Whom do you want to make a war with? If you answer me, than you want, for example, to stop “islam terrorists” we shall not believe you. Oh, no. You never consider islam terrorists as serious political force even when they make the explosions in the center of your capitals. You consider any your wars in Asia like a mere a “military training”. You consider still us your main enemy still.

    And I see that your malice is so strong that you suppress even your pacifists. I discovered today that David hid white flower in his profile. No, he has not resigned from peaceful movement, I checked it. But he hid his flower. New underground, eh?…

    So, you want a war. OK. Start it. It will be your end.

  22. draust Says:

    Eh….?!?! / adopts bemused expression

    I was unaware that we were at war with Russia. Or indeed that we had been.

    And I seem to recall that the USSR, Britain and the USA were allies in WW2.

    I attribute part of my lack of skill in maths to the WW2 alliance, actually. The reason is that my old high school maths teacher had been an infantry officer in WW2, and much preferred reminiscing – e.g. about when he was part of a detachment guarding the Tehran airfield as the VIPs flew in for the 1943 Tehran Conference – to teaching us maths. And obviously we far preferred not being taught (this was actually a class for “Additional Maths O-level”, so we had all passed O-level Maths the previous year).

    Wouldn’t be allowed nowadays, of course, but in the distant 1970s education, even paid-for education, was far less regulated, and much would thus depend on how serious-minded the individual teacher was. Not necessarily all that educationally efficient – and I don’t doubt the Additional Maths results weren’t that good in my class – but it did have a certain ramshackle / idiosyncratic charm. Somewhat like pre-RAE University education, actually.

    And the lack of too much “regimented core busy-work” did leave considerable space and time for following your own preoccupations – in the case of my 15 yr old self mostly devising colourful and/or smelly organic chemistry reactions and playing chess.

  23. Svetlana Pertsovich Says:

    After 11 november Great Britain made a war against Soviet Russia. It is necessary to know it.

    As for WWWII. Yes, allies, it is so. But I recommend to remember WHEN you had opened Second Front. In 1944, when we needed no you already.

    As for Cold war, I think noone will state that UK was our “ally and friend” in Cold war, eh?

  24. Nash Says:

    What Svetlana is referreing to is the British/French expeditionary force sent to the Crimea in 1919 to bolster one of the White Russian armies.

    Along with the men were 50 or so tanks which were left behind in 1920. These tanks became the basis of the Red Army Armoured forces.

    As to 1944. Operation Bagration was launched on 22 June 1944 and the German Army Group Centre was destroyed by August. But if the Germans hadn’t been fighting on two fronts, then they would have had victory in the East. Hitler accorded priority in men and material to the Western front.

  25. draust Says:

    Nash wrote:

    What Svetlana is referreing to is the British/French expedionary force sent to the Crimea in 1919 to bolster one of the White Russian armies.

    Thanks Nash. What a fascinating piece of history – I’ve just been having a read here. Didn’t know any of this, though it is not a tremendous surprise that most other countries in 1918 viewed the prospect of a Bolshevik Russia with some trepidation.

    The Russian Civil War and indeed the years post WW1 as a whole are not something that has ever really impinged on my consciousness, apart from watching the odd episode of the TV Series notionally based on the exploits of this chap.

  26. Bob Calder Says:

    Aust; It’s something of a curiosity teaching-wise. I honestly don’t know why but when I told a college prof about my “ancient” art teacher who had been in the White Russian army the prof told me I must be mistaken. My Dad told me, “Yes Captain Yavorsky was indeed a cavalry officer in what he (my father) knew as White Russian Army. The guy was quite real with photos of himself in uniform with his horse. I was left wondering why it wasn’t part of my college education. Probably just an artifact of being a lousy student back then. I had been punished grade-wise by another prof for making fun of his crappy Latin and was afraid of being labeled obstreperous by the time I reached history.

  27. Svetlana Pertsovich Says:

    Ah! You are our “saviours”, as it turns out! The I have a question to you, “saviour”. Why didn’t your foul government open Second Front in 1941 when fascists stood under Moscow? I’ll answer. Because your treacherous government hoped that fascists would win. And why hadn’t you, sirs “allies”, (despite of crash of fascist under Moscow!) opened Second Front in 1943, when fascists came to Volga and were under Stalingrad? Because you hoped even in 1943 that fascists would win. And why had your government opened Second Front in 1944? Because it understood that if it didn’t do it in 1944, then Soviet Union would win without their help, and the workers in Britain and USA would start socialistic revolutions.

    And as for “tanks”… Have you decided that we won on these 50 tanks, eh? ;) You, probably, saw never real Soviet tanks. Ok. I’ll show you. And pray your God that you will never see such tanks in reality. Yes, just -“pray God”, because you was taught Law-of-God, and I wasn’t. And I don’t believe in your false “atheism”.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9_rL2aop7Y

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44xdZggUoCY&feature=related
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NH_qvbn5sM&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rg_ndWU_vRI&feature=related

  28. draust Says:

    Bob:

    I always figured that most countries taught their own history, rather than world history. The British school history syllabus I grew up with started with Roman Britain when you were about 7 years old, and then ground slowly forward at a rate of about a century or two a year. So by the time you got to be about 13-14 you had reached the Plantagenets, with the prospect of the Wars of the Roses for age 15-16, and the Tudors and Stuarts for the last two yrs of high school. Certainly none of that awful modern stuff. We used to learn more about relatively modern British history (19th and 20th century) from Geography class (where we were taught about the British Commonwealth, so ex-Empire, countries) and English (where we did stuff like war poetry, see above). And from reading memoirs and novels.

    My O level history class (age 15-16) rebelled and were allowed to do an alternative syllabus, which was US history up to 1900. I don’t remember that much of it, sadly, but it was far more interesting than the British stuff mainly because it was different.

    Talking of White Russians, the British forces used to employ sundry White Russian emigres (and the odd defector) to teach post-WW2 British servicemen Russian language on the famous Joint Services Language Course in the 50s. This was mostly so they would have lots of radio operators to listen in on Russian air force radio transmissions. All kinds of later famous people were taught Russian that way (some names on the Wiki page), plus most post-WW2 British academics with an interest in Russia and Russian (and thus also the translators of most Russian literature). Certainly the guy that taught me rudimentary Russian at high school had learned his Russian that way. He said the Russian bomber crews used a number code, so the messages were just strings of numbers called out very fast. He used to tell us he was brilliant at Russian numbers but pretty average at the rest of the language.

  29. physicsmum Says:

    Fascinating history lessons! I agree that schools (provinces, countries…) tend to have a very parochial approach to teaching history, a problem which is self-perpetuating, but part of the problem with history is that there is so darn much of it!!

    Personal note: I attended a secondary school bearing the name “Earl Haig”. At the time I just thought it was a cool name, only later did I learn who it was named after, and since then have had mixed feelings about the old alma mater.

  30. physicsmum Says:

    *Floods in northern England on news*

    Hope Dr. Aust and family are safe and dry??

  31. Dr Aust Says:

    Physicsmum: agreed about the historical overload. Whenever I have a wander about on Wikipedia I am amazed at all the history I knew nothing about. Makes for excellent time-wasting, though!

    Re the floods, they are a fair way North of us, up near the Cumbrian coast (West and North-West of the Lake District). This is three hrs drive or thereabouts from Casa Aust. It has been a bit wet where we are, but not really noticeably wetter than any other year.

    The whole of North West England is famously damp, of course, hence the early industrial cotton / spinning / weaving industry, which was so dominant through the 19th century but was in heavy decline by the end of WW1. You can still see old mill buildings all over North-West England.

  32. Nash Says:

    Svetlana, I’ve actually driven a T34/85 and a T72. Also I’ve had a go in a Chieftain.

  33. draust Says:

    Mrs Dr Aust claims to have been driving tractors since she was about eight years old, but you’re the first tank driver I’ve come across, Nash.

    Do the military museums let enthusiasts drive their exhibits, or was any of this actually in the military?

  34. Nash Says:

    You can do tank driving on experience days. The same as hot air balloning or driving sports cars.
    After the Berlin wall came down, a lot of the eastern bloc countries sold off their equipment to western collectors. One collector got more than he bargained for. He went to Poland and was shown around a vehicle depot. When he was discussing prices he thought he was buying individual vehicles, but he was actually being offered vehicles by the company TOE. When they were shipped to the UK he was expecting about 15 vehicles but ended up with hundreds of vehicles. Also as a bonus they had complete loads of live ammunition.

  35. Bob Calder Says:

    I used to be an insurance broker. Quite a few years ago a 90 plus year old gentleman displayed his Polish taxi driver’s license and – would you believe it – a photo of him standing next to his 7TP tank along with his Polish Army ID as proof of his driving experience. Nearly 70 years of driving with no fender-benders.

  36. draust Says:

    Talking of tanks, especially Soviet ones, there is an interesting little post on Paul Wilson’s Hawk/Handsaw blog here. Shows you how busy military stategists (of all ideological stripes) always are with their contingency plans.

  37. Neuroskeptic Says:

    Ah! You are our “saviours”, as it turns out! The I have a question to you, “saviour”. Why didn’t your foul government open Second Front in 1941 when fascists stood under Moscow?

    if we’re playing the WW2 shame game why didn’t you open up a second front when they invaded Poland, eh?

  38. Svetlana Pertsovich Says:

    http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Польский_поход_РККА_(1939)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_invasion_of_Poland

  39. Svetlana Pertsovich Says:

    Do you distinguish a lie from a truth in those two links? No?
    It is no wonder. I knew always that you have no brains for this.

  40. Svetlana Pertsovich Says:

    By the way, it is partly good that you are so agressive and false.
    It means that you will lose soon.

  41. Nash Says:

    Neuroskeptic

    The Russians did open a second front of sorts in 1939. They invaded Poland a week or so after Germany and the country was divided between the two as per the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.

  42. Svetlana Pertsovich Says:

    Aha. I said just about you and the same, that you have no brains to read a truth. There are two links above. But you have read only one of them, because you are too stupid to read the second link.
    I put English link intentionally to show that you are low dirty liars and to demonstrate what sort of “allies” you were (and are) for us. We rescued you from fascism, but you, instead of gratitude, throw mud and lie at us. Are you “humanists” after this?
    You are inhuman foul creatures.

    Basta. Our retirement has finished. Now we shall throw out you from all quarters of the earth.No, we shall not fight against you! You will kill yourselves by your own hands. Do you want to come to make a war in Afghanistan? Aren’t you fed up with sh*t in Iraq? Do you want else? Welcome! We let you. We let you even come there through our territory. And then we shall watch how you, brainless idiots, kill there your own children. Fuc..d “partiots”! I wonder how is it possible to be British patriots, making war tens thousands miles off your own UK – in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, etc? What “geopolitical interest” can you seek there, eh?
    But if you so want – come and die. Come on! Flag to your hands, bayonet to your a..se.
    Flag vam v ruki, schtyk vam v zhopu… (Rus.)

  43. draust Says:

    I suspect Neuroskeptic was being ironic, Nash.

    Svetlana’s last two links are to, respectively, Russian Wiki and English Wiki entries on the Soviet invasion of Eastern Poland in 1939 that Nash is referring to. Since I don’t read Russian I can’t tell if these two pages give differing accounts of the events, though I wouldn’t be surprised.

    As I pointed out above, countries teach their own history, and sometimes that means their own version of history. The basic facts are that under the secret protocols of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Hitler and Stalin had secretly carved up Poland, as well as deciding who was going to rule what bits of Eastern Europe. A week after the pact was signed, Germany invaded Western Poland, and then a couple of weeks after that the Red Army moved in and annexed the Eastern bits.

    I imagine this was taught in Soviet schools as an heroic act of liberation – this was certainly what the Soviet Politburo insisted on calling it – and perhaps it is still taught that way in Russia. Certainly some parts of the population in then eastern Poland, like the large ethnic Ukranian and Belarusian minorities, initially welcomed the Soviet army, as you can read on the English Wiki page.

    Obviously there is more to say, but the Wiki pages offer a good introduction, and I am extremely bored with arguing with Svetlana. I only post up her (less personally offensive) comments out of a general distaste for censorship, even of ravings.

    [Edit: comment penned before reading Svetlana's latest rant of 8.46 pm, which was stuck in a seemingly unusually discerning spam filter]

  44. Remembering « Dr Aust’s Spleen Says:

    [...] I wrote at somewhat greater length about Remembrace Day last year, I said (actually in the [...]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,991 other followers

%d bloggers like this: