On April 6th, 1917, the United States Congress declared war on Germany, thus entering WWI, the "war to end all wars". President Woodrow Wilson, the peace-lover, asked for war. Congress stood up and cheered its enthusiasm. As Wilson later said,
"Isn't it strange that men should cheer for war,"
This is the thing we fight:
A cry of terror in the night;
A ship on work of mercy bent--
A carrier of the sick and maimed--
Beneath the cruel waters sent,
And those who did it, unashamed.
--Edgar A Guest, c. 1917-18
...Beautiful and haughty, the great planes squatted on the level grass with their bold, blunt noses silhouetted against the brilliant African sunset and their majestic wings casting tremendous shadows across the airfield. Mechanics were still crawling over the big planes, calling to each other, doing last minute inspections. Trucks and jeeps moved about the airfield, lines of paratroopers marched to their planes, pilots stood in clumps talking of their plans... "Hand this charcoal around," said Schluch to Joe. The paratroopers smeared their faces with burnt cork as thoroughly as they could so that their faces would not show up pale and luminous in the dead of night. "This is it," said Dave, half to himself. Joe patted his shoulder in passing and Dave turned to meet his eye. Wordlessly they said goodbye, gripping each other's hard, strong, hand, trying to grin, but unable to speak. Who knew what fate awaited them in Sicily?
...At last, gaining speed, they started the takeoff, they were moving, running, hurtling down the runway, faster and faster until they lifted smoothly into the air and they were flying, gaining altitude and moving into formation. Hundreds of C-47's assembled over Tunisia that dark, windy night, and then the formation headed out for Sicily. Some paratroopers tried to relax, others stared blankly at nothing, clutching their reserve chutes. Dave twisted his sweaty hands, staring at the men across from him, their faces clear cut in a blurry haze, while old familiar prayers rattled in the back of his head...
"Thirty seconds," Joe said loudly, looking at his wristwatch. He was now to be the kicker, the last man out. Lieutenant Yates stood full in the door, clutching the sides of the plane. He would be the first to jump. Joe kept his eyes trained on the little red light by the door. Any second and he would give the signal to jump. Dave, a few men down the line, saw clearly every detail of Joe's good old familiar face in the light of a tracer bullet screaming by--the fine, thin features, the dark mustache, the clear blue eyes shining out of the smeary black soot...The light turned green. "Go!" Joe cried, thwacking the Lieutenant's shoulder, and with the undaunted cry "Geronimo!" the officer leapt into the darkness...
posted by Mary Rose
It is August first, the 72nd Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising of 1944.
Morale is high.
We expect the Russians to come to our aid and the uprising to be done in a week at most.
Although it is raining and we only started fighting at five this afternoon, we are gaining our objectives.
Now the Germans and all the rest of the world will know the truth: Poland lives!
On June 5th and 6th we attended MAAM's annual WWII Weekend, biggest event of the kind in the US. This huge show accommodates 1700 re-enactors, sixty-some-odd WWII planes, a bunch of authentic military vehicles, and many WWII veterans. We went dressed as the Polish Resistance of the Warsaw Uprising.
Listen to the beautiful sound of those engines... This is the Helldiver, the Dauntless, and the Wildcat, warbirds of the Pacific, flying in formation. They make a terrific noise as they fly overhead, a sort of rattly-banging radial-engine roar. The planes do the craziest stuff, like flying upside down over the crowd.
This year there was a parachute drop from the C-46 Commando transport plane. It was real amazing to see 'the stick' float down just like in the books. Said one paratrooper in France to another, "They say Napoleon was the greatest soldier who ever lived." Said the other paratrooper, "Tell me, where did that guy ever jump?"
Here comes the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk! Isn't she pretty? These birds were flown by a group of volunteer American airmen, 'The Flying Tigers', in China.
This lumbering queen of the skies is a B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber. Look at her props whirling as she thunders by, glinting in the bright June sun. During the whole event authentic airplanes are continuously passing overhead.
The airplanes that don't happen to be flying at the moment are parked at sundry intervals on the freeways, and goons can just walk up and pat them fondly, getting grease on their hands.
We wandered around the encampments and met the real Polish re-enactors:
They had some nifty old rifles, which the 'Jan' and 'Maxymilian' were glad to take in hand, as the Polish Home Army was badly equipped. There's the Polish flag in the background, and beyond you can see a transport plane and the British tents.
At intervals throughout the days the Scottish, British, and Australian troops marched by, to the wailing of the bagpipe.
During the skirmish in the French Village the Germans are evicting the French Resistance from its headquarters. However, in subsequent battles, the GIs came to the rescue and won.
In the main Hangar are long tables where you can meet Veterans...
I was astounded and excited to meet a real live Polish Resistance member, Julian Kulski. He was in the resistance when he was only twelve! Read all about it in The Color of Courage--sure to be a terrible, thrilling tale. He returned our salute:
This is a really great event (conglomeration, happening, festival, show). One can just wander along the freeways all day. Oh, look, a B-25, let's go pose with the propeller. Oh, there's a WWII veteran watching the show, let's go meet him. Look up! A Corsair is flying overhead! Isn't it pretty? Watch out, that jeep is going to run us over...
This is the one-and-only flying Superfortress in the world. Also notice that all the flags had forty-eight stars.
Are you coming next year?
(for more information, read Mother's blog)
Posted by Mary Rose
"Please, who won the battle here?"
..."I'd say the cussed bluebellies did, even if they withdrew over the other side of the breastworks. South of here is all Confederate-held now. Our old Gen'ral Hood'll attack 'em in Nashville later on. He'll track 'em there and whip 'em. He's goin' to make 'em bawl for what they done to us at Franklin on the last day of November, 1864."
-Patricia Beatty, Turn Homeward, Hannalee
Posted by Lydia GT
Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force:
You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.
The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country, but he who stands it now deserves the love and thanks of men and women. Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered...
Men cry, peace, peace! But there is no peace.
War is inevitable, and let it come!
Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others will take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
Now we are engaged in a great Civil War, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure...
This Would Be No Ordinary War, My Friends...You cannot make peace with the devil...
Do you want to lie here and get killed or get up and do something about it?
If I should die, think only this of me, that there's some corner of a foreign field that is forever England...
There'll always be an England And England shall be free, If England means as much to you As England means to me...
Take up our quarrel with the foe, To you from failing hands we throw The torch. Be yours to hold it high...
The Banners of the King go forth!
I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!
compiled and edited by MRE
It was meant to be inspiring for people who write novels in November.
(General D. Eisenhower, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, Abraham Lincoln, the War of the Vendee, officer on D-Day, Rupert Brooke, Hugh Charles, John McCrae)
Here gaes fur a lang post wi' many a muckle o' pictures frae me twa sketchooks:
(Caution:This is an unhistorically correct paratrooper)
Also, when I first drew him he was a Marine, but I guess he transferred before I penned him in. He is a Papist Paratrooper, at any rate. There is in addition a fady-goon leering over his shoulder. (A fady-goon is something you started to draw, erased and is still visible).
Oh, now this is getting a little too sad for this early in the morning.... I mean, really.
Take note, this next picture is the first picture I drew after my confirmation, thus making this the first time I signed my name Edmund Campion. Besides that, this picture is pretty accurate. The reason is 'cause for Christmas I got a super-duper amazing book of uniforms & insignia of Armed Forces of WWII! And a handy jackadandy book of just army uniforms of WWII which has most of the things that aren't in the former.
Would you believe it, I drew a Jeep! And what'd'y' know, these folks are from the 4th division, they're not even paratroopers! Ho!
These are all from the 20th. (I spy with my little eye...) A jeep, a hand grenade, three signal corps people putting up telegraph wires, two signal corps people unwinding cables, one signal corps GI with a walkie-talkie, a random GI, a GI from the 5th division smoking a cigarette, a gunner on a battleship and someone's helmet full of pancake batter. (Listen, it is really true about the pancake batter, I saw a photograph of Marines making batter in their helmet and cooking them on the top of an oil drum over an open fire.)
These three next are random Royal Air Force people from awhile ago, with writing.
(This style is Norman-Rockwell-influenced.)
Well, now this Thursday is made Artful.
posted by Mary Rose
Happy feast of good Sinterklaus, Mikulas, Nicholas, etc.! Did you get cigarettes in your combat boots like these GIs or did you only get oranges and peppermint sticks? Or both, or neither, or something else? Or do you happen to live in the nineteenth century instead, in which case, did you get horehound candy in your high button shoes? Anyways....
In case you were wondering, I did finish my novel on time.
If you see any big white birds with invasion stripes painted under their wings, you know you've seen... a Snowy Owl. They are invading the Nor'eastern US. They have established a beachhead in New Jersey.
posted by Mary Rose
The local population is in varying degrees living in WWII and suddenly willing to draw anything from people smoking cigarettes to tanks, and other hitherto undesirable artistic subjects.
So, last month, several of us had an Artist Trading Card swap solely concerning the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, despite the fact that two-thirds of the participants had practically never drawn airplanes previously.
Mary Rose made these two ATC's:
The first shows a scene inspired by the movie Tora! Tora! Tora! (as was the entire swap) in which two pilots dubbed Merry and Pippin rush to their respective P-40's. The second illustrates by means of P-40's the Air Force Song, Off we go into the Wild Blue Yonder, which is lately exceeding popular.
I also depicted American P-40's, flying. The first is practically a field guide illustration, 'P-40 in flight, USA green morph'. The other was supposed to be reminiscent of a painting of birds, in which it was successful (Josiah axed if they were flying over Tom's Cove).
Josiah drew the P-40 pilot's-eye view; visible is the ME 109 his adversary. And he just about said, ha ha, we'll never be able to tell whether the plane is American or British, upon which we others all groaned. Second, the British P-40 on the ground. I daresay, they had more imagination in aeroplane paint.
You may conclude rightly, we had a jolly time swapping. Airplanes are surprisingly fun to draw. But.......... Hey! let's close with a nice leetle quotation from Michael Harwood's The View From Hawk Mountain.
* * * * *
"To describe what man does in his winged machines as "flying" is more than generous, compared to the hawk, man just bangs the air, slams through it."
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings....
Howdy, you fo'c'sle hands! It's almost November!!!!!!!!!! Nanowrimo is upon us, whether we would risk it or no. Tonight is the night when writers around the world write out the title page in their notebooks, head the first page with AMDG and write the long anticipated date: 11/1/13, at 11:55 PM. Tonight is the night when writers around the world cease their eager chatter as the clock strikes twelve and the world echoes with the sound of the first pencil strokes and the first clacking of keys of the newest novels. Tonight is the night!!!!!!
But other than that.....I have drawn a Fighter base swarming with men in Air Force Blue, as they all shout and talk loudly to keep their minds from what lies ahead or smoke their pipes and cigarettes reflectively thinking on that very same topic.
Royal Air Force Pilots again! (saith you) However, there are eighteen ground crewmen. It was especial fun to make their faces all grey and the shadows of the Mustangs, and to try to give it all a cold effect. Did I succeed? Also the pilot lighting his fag with his lucifer was fun!
Besides, gifted was the poet who said: Never was so much owed by so many to so few, or something like that.
One of the great American fighter aces (in England) Robert Johnson, having flown two five hour sorties in a day:
"It was really quite a lot, when you stop and think that my breakfast was a piece of brown bread and peanut butter and a cup of really heavy stuff they called coffee. We came home, had a quick sandwich and a little shot of whiskey, and then back in the airplanes and off we'd go again. We'd come home and flop on our beds with our clothes on and never moved again until they waked us for another mission early the next morning."
Here's to the Fighter Pilots who flew two five hour sorties a day!
Here's to the Bomber crews who nearly froze in their B-17s!
Here's to the Mechanics who kept 'em flying!
The above is a bonus, the back of the picture.
There'll always be an England, and England shall be free, if England means as much to you as England means to me.
posted by Mary Rose