75th Anniversary of VJ Day – UK

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Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, on the 75th anniversary of VJ Day (“Victory over Japan Day,” marking the conclusion of hostilities in World War Two), celebrated in the UK – and many other parts of the world – today. The National WW II Museum in New Orleans notes,

“Finally recognizing that victory was impossible, the Japanese government accepted Allied surrender terms without qualifications on August 14, 1945. That same day, President Harry S. Truman announced from the White House that the Japanese acceptance met the terms laid down at the Potsdam Conference for unconditional surrender. As soon as the news of Japan’s surrender was announced on August 14, celebrations erupted across the United States. The United Kingdom announced that its official V-J Day would be the next day, August 15, 1945, and Americans exuberantly joined in that day’s merriment, too.”

So while the official commemoration in the U.S. is celebrated in the United States on the day formal surrender documents were signed aboard the USS Missouri (BB-63) in Tokyo Bay – September 2, 1945 – there is nothing wrong with marking the occasion today! Or yesterday, for that matter…

Ten Things You Don’t Know About Robert E. Lee | Abbeville Institute

Source: Ten Things You Don’t Know About Robert E. Lee | Abbeville Institute

General Robert E. Lee, Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, CSA (and later and for a time, all Confederate forces), was one of my first heroes and role models, and he remains so to this day. He was not only a great general (if I ever speak of “the General,” without further modification, I am speaking of Lee), but a great Christian gentleman.

But although he was a great man, he was not a perfect man: those who do not understand how both statements can be true understand little of human nature, or indeed of the nature of reality. The linked article does not whitewash the General, but it definitely shows his greatness. Well worth a read, and I commend it, dear readers, to your attention.

One note: I am not a huge fan (to put it mildly) of Federal Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. He permitted, if not actually enabled, the horrific actions of Sherman and Sheridan; and he was little more caring for his own men than for his opponents, being willing to sacrifice his own soldiers in a most callous fashion to obtain his victories: it is not without reason that he was nicknamed “Butcher Grant,” by Northern journalists.

But he was not entirely without honour, either, at least toward people he considered to be personal friends – as he apparently did General Lee, with whom he had served in the Mexican War. It is well-known that he gave honourable terms to the surrendering Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House, even allowing the Confederate soldiers to keep their rifles (a major concession, for a defeated army).

What is less well-known is his personal intervention on Lee’s behalf, after the War, as recounted here:

“Later, when Lee was indicted for treason by a federal grand jury, with the threat of arrest and possible execution hanging over him, he appealed to Grant, noting that the terms of his army’s surrender included the stipulation—drafted by Grant himself—that ‘each officer and man will be allowed to return to his home, not to be disturbed by United States authority so long as they observe their paroles and the laws in force where they may reside.’

“Grant concurred with Lee’s interpretation and urged Lee to apply for a federal pardon, which Grant said he would endorse. Lee did so, sending the documents to Grant, who indeed forwarded them on to President Andrew Johnson with his endorsement. (The application would be ‘lost,’ and Lee’s citizenship would not be restored until 1975—but that is another story.) What Lee did not know was that Grant quietly let it be known that he would resign from the army if Lee were to be arrested.”

I believe in giving credit where due, and this action is certainly to Grant’s credit. I will only add that it’s a shame his sense of honour was not a bit more general. But, again, human nature is what it is…

 

“Was Hitler’s Invasion of Russia Defensive, to Foil an Attack by Stalin?”

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According to Suvorov, Stalin – not Hitler – ranks as “the chief culprit” behind the outbreak of World War II in Europe.

Source: Was Hitler’s Invasion of Russia Defensive, to Foil an Attack by Stalin?

“The ‘Suvorov Hypothesis’ claimed that during the summer of 1941 Stalin was on the very verge of mounting a massive invasion and conquest of Europe, while Hitler’s sudden attack on June 22nd of that year was intended to forestall that looming blow. Moreover, the author also argued that Stalin’s planned attack constituted merely the final act in a much longer geopolitical strategy that he had been developing since at least the early 1930s.”

If this theory is correct – and it must be said, it is a controversial one, and one which (as this article points out) scholars in the English-speaking world have been reluctant to touch with the proverbial ten-foot pole – but if, I say, if this theory is correct, it means that the other Allies (Britain and France, initially, and then later Britain and America) were the unwitting dupes of Stalin, and participated in – even enabled – his plan to bring Europe under Communist domination.

A plan which darned near succeeded, in the aftermath of WW II! Continue reading ““Was Hitler’s Invasion of Russia Defensive, to Foil an Attack by Stalin?””

The Great Christmas Truce of 1914 | Sainsbury’s Ad | Christmas 2014

Source: 1914 | Sainsbury’s Ad | Christmas 2014

I am not normally a fan of marketing, but I love this ad, and even more, the historical episode behind it: the Great Christmas Truce of 1914, which for a few brief, shining hours, stopped one of the most horrific and destructive wars in history – certainly in European history – in its tracks. Before they were forced back to killing each other by their “superiors,” the ordinary soldiers of the British and German Armies enjoyed a brief respite from the fighting… and a brief vision of one another as fellow-humans, brothers.

If only the spirit of that moment could have somehow taken hold, been built upon, perhaps the terrible destruction and loss of the flower of European youth – the “death of a generation” – at Verdun, the Somme, and other battles, might have been prevented. And perhaps, just perhaps, the continued suffering and loss which has followed, in the last century, might also have been prevented… A heartwarming, yet heartbreaking, story.

I cry every time I watch this.

Please, God – no more brother wars.

Centenary of Armistice Day: 11 November, 1918-2018

Centenary-Armistice-Day-1918-2018On this day, almost at this hour – at the “eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month” – the guns of the Western Front fell silent at last, and four years of a cruel, horrific, European brother-killing war, the “Great War,” World War One, the “war to end all wars” (if only!) came to an end.

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Bled nearly dry by four years of meat-grinder warfare, a whole generation nearly annihilated, Europe was exhausted. But the arrival of more than a million fresh, able, and (for the most part) well-equipped American troops turned the tide. Now hopelessly outnumbered, its cities falling to Marxist revolution and even parts of its once-proud military in mutiny, Germany had no choice but to sue for peace. Continue reading “Centenary of Armistice Day: 11 November, 1918-2018”

100 Beautiful Colourised Photos of WW I for the 1918-2018 Centenary

“To mark the centenary of the end of the First World War, I have decided to collate 100 images I’ve colorized in tribute to the men and women who lived through the war, and those who lost their lives.”

Source: 100 Beautiful Colourised Photos of WW1 for the 1918-2018 Centenary

We are, at this posting, just three days and a little more than an hour (EST) from the Centenary of “the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month” – 11:00 a.m. on November 11th, 1911 – when after more than four years of horrifically bloody warfare which all but destroyed a generation and generated chains of events the effects of which are still being felt, the guns of the Western Front fell silent, and “the Great War,” the “war to end all wars,” was finally over.

I have mixed feelings about colorizing old pictures, but these striking photographs do, in my estimation, tend to humanize the people depicted, and lessen the gulf between their time and ours. It is too easy to forget events that happened only a decade or so ago (witness the decreasing appreciation of the events of 9/11, and their significance to the world we live in), and all the more when the events occurred a century ago.

This coming Sunday is the 11th of November: traditionally Martinmas, the Feast of St. Martin of Tours – a Roman soldier – in the calendar of the Western Church, but since 1918, commemorated somberly as Armistice Day (Remembrance Day, in the U.K.). In the U.S., that remembrance has been somewhat eclipsed by the larger context of Veterans Day, since we have a Memorial Day in the spring. But this year, on its Centennial, let us not forget the ending of a war which, far from ending all wars, ended up sparking – directly or indirectly – most of the wars since.

“Poppies are for remembrance.” Let us remember.

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The Revolutionary War Animated Map | American Battlefield Trust

See the Revolutionary War unfold, from Lexington to Yorktown and beyond, on our animated map, produced by Wide Awake Films in partnership with the Revolutionary War Trust (formerly Campaign 1776), a division of the American Battlefield Trust.

Source: The Revolutionary War Animated Map | American Battlefield Trust

The entire Revolutionary War (American War of Independence) in 19 minutes!

If you’re not quite familiar with the overall sweep of events during this crucial period of American history, it’s a terrific introduction! If you’re like me, and have a pretty good general grasp of events, but a few of the details of how it all fits together have gotten hazy over the years, it’s a great refresher.

It’s more than just an “animated map,” making use of video clips of reenactments along with historical maps and artwork, but it certainly does make use of animated maps to show how the various forces maneuvered, in attack, defense, advance, and withdrawal. Excellent overview!

“We DIDN’T win the war! Peter Hitchens writes a provocative book challenging all we think about WW2” | Daily Mail Online

Celebration: British troops cheer the news on May 8, 1945, that war in Europe is over

Peter Hitchens reveals eight myths about the Second World War which we grew up on. He details in a section of his new book why we didn’t win the war.

Source: We DIDN’T win the war! PETER HITCHENS writes a provocative book challenging all we think about WW2 | Daily Mail Online

As The Anglophilic Anglican, and a Blighty Boy to boot, I have a huge amount of respect, appreciation, and admiration for all things British, and that includes the valor and determination of the British and Crown (Commonwealth / Empire) Armed Forces during World War Two. But as an historian, I am also interested in not only the conduct of that war, but its origin, causes, and the implications of its outcome for today’s world.

Peter Hitchens is an English journalist and author, and an Anglican Christian. He has published eight books, writes for The Daily Mail (UK), and is a former foreign correspondent in both Moscow and Washington. Like me, his father fought bravely in World War Two, a decorated combat veteran; like mine, his veteran father came to question certain aspects of that war. This background gives a certain poignancy to Hitchens’ take on the war, and its origins. Continue reading ““We DIDN’T win the war! Peter Hitchens writes a provocative book challenging all we think about WW2” | Daily Mail Online”

Why the lunatic fringe wants to ban Zulu | Daily Mail Online

 

There are, in the annals of cinema, few scenes more likely to have men of a certain age sobbing into their handkerchiefs than that wonderful moment in Zulu featuring Stanley Baker

… what will be left of Western culture? For if Zulu isn’t safe, if Laura Ingalls Wilder is not safe, if even the slightest hint of political incorrectness is enough to disqualify you, then nothing and nobody is safe.

Source: DOMINIC SANDBROOK: Why the lunatic fringe wants to ban Zulu | Daily Mail Online

“Even today, 54 years after its release, Zulu has lost none of its power. It is a film about men under fire, of course. But it is also a film about heroism, fear and sacrifice.

“Set during the Zulu War of 1879, it is a patriotic film, but not a jingoistic one. When the Zulus sing one last song to honour the courage of the British defenders, or when Lt Chard gazes wearily over the piles of African dead, there is rarely a dry eye in the house.

“But some people see things differently…”

Yes. This:

“I am not alone, I know, in feeling nothing but contempt for the disingenuousness, mean-spiritedness, sanctimony and intolerance of these people. I’m not alone, either, in feeling utterly infuriated by the cowardice of the authorities, who are incapable of realising that appeasement only encourages them to find a fresh target.

“What I find really depressing, though, is that this is becoming such a familiar story. The activists make a fuss. The rest of us scoff, sigh or shrug them off as maniacs.

“But the authorities, terrified of being branded racist, give ground. And so, almost without anybody noticing, we take one more step towards a culture defined by the suffocating narrow-mindedness of the lunatic fringe…

“Where will it end? Well, it will never end. And because these censors have no sense of humility, they cannot conceive that people in the future will doubtless find us guilty of prejudices invisible to us today.

“By then, though, what will be left of Western culture? For if Zulu isn’t safe, if Laura Ingalls Wilder is not safe, if even the slightest hint of political incorrectness is enough to disqualify you, then nothing and nobody is safe.

“The truth is that these people are the enemies, not just of tradition or even of tolerance, but of the imagination itself.

“They talk endlessly about celebrating difference. But what they want to do is to suppress difference, control the imagination and rewrite history. And that, of course, is why they must be fought.”

Or as C.S. Lewis so aptly put it, “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.”

Of course, today the “omnipotent moral busybodies” care nothing for the good of their victims; they are motivated largely by hatred, thinly veiled behind a veneer of put-on offense and pseudo-compassion. They are “omnipotent” only to the extent that they are not opposed. And they are “moral” not at all.

 


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