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 Post subject: Taken for fools
PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2010 1:56 am 
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As one of the "baby bulge" children, I am of a generation that missed the war, but it is still very close and very real. As a kid, much of my time was spent exploring bomb sites, old bomb shelters, pill boxes and the paraphernalia of war. Churchill was still alive when I was born, he was to have a spell as prime minister as I grew up, and I was one of the hundreds of thousands who filed past his coffin when he died and watched his funeral (pictured). You really did then have a sense that a moment in history had passed.

View full article here

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 Post subject: Re: Taken for fools
PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2010 8:03 am 
Ah yes, the 'ultimate sacrifice' - a price the politicians clearly think is worth paying to save their face!


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 Post subject: Re: Taken for fools
PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2010 8:05 am 
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Location: England
I have no idea how, but I was raised to realise I am British and be proud of that. Norman Tebbit wrote the curious line in his recent blog asking if it would become treason to be against the EU shortly. If he believes it could be treason to be against the EU, why is it not treason to activily destroy the constitution of the UK? That is what our government(s) and parliament are doing. Our enenmies are not dropping bombs on us, they are simply giving away the constitution and political establishment of our country. They have absolutely no mandate from the British people to do such a thing and are hence guilty of treason. What a state of affairs. The American president is sworn to protect the constitution of the US (although he would destroy it if he could). Our political class is achieving just that. If no organs of state will bring those guilty to justice, it will be down to the people to directly do so. That is if we ever wake up as a nation.


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 Post subject: Re: Taken for fools
PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2010 8:36 am 
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RAENORTH wrote:
But, if this was 70 years ago, the sentiment – and the stupidity – has not changed.View full article here


There goes another one of my misconceptions... I always believed that before Attlee, our government did the things that government are supposed to do... Like providing efficient defence both internally (police) and externally (armed forces). Clearly it is not efficient to waste valuable defence assets for the want of cans of white and red paint and a couple of rusty planes.

I always thought that defence moved from near the top to near the bottom of their list of priorities following the introduction of their new (assumed) role of doing everything (badly) that it was possible for humans to do. I now realise that our government has never really cared about the proles. Which makes the concept and pisspoor delivery of the welfare state system even more callous and sickening.

Richard, your regular refrain that we rise up and hammer our politicians becomes more attractive by the day.

Personally, I am a great believer in the Swiss system of government. That is real subsidiarity, not governed top down, but bottom up. In Switzerland the government is a reactive organisation, it performs the jobs which it is given to do, and waits to be instructed to stop doing something, or start doing something that the people want. You won't find internal or external defence organisations lacking skills or equipment there, every able citizen under the age of 40 is well trained and armed, in order to defend the nation. Their system seems to work in other areas too, notably they are just about the only European nation that is not suffering unduly during the present economic downturn. It gets better... Their federal government is so underworked that it is part-time.


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 Post subject: Re: Taken for fools
PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2010 8:53 am 
Regrettably, I have to agree with the policy of shooting down German planes rescuing pilots: I would have thought German pilots were rescued so that could continue to bomb Britain, raze our cities to the ground,to kill civilians and British pilots in Hitler's attempt to invade; whereas British pilots rescued would remain prisoners of war in Germany (assuming that they.were not shot for trying to escape). Fighting a war with with hand tied behind your back will not win.
I agree that our politicians do not look after the interests of our Armed Forces.

Arthur Bryant, historian: " Lack of frigates robbed Nelson of a victory that should have been Trafalgar and Waterloo rolled into one. Again and again St Vincent pleaded with the Admiralty for more frigates: pleaded in vain...... Treasury parsimony, the unpreparedness of a peace-loving people....had contributed to this fatal flaw. It was to cost Britain and the civilized world 17 more years of war, waste and destruction": Book "If By Chance", General John Strawson.

Refusal to re-arm in the 1930's. Nothing changes - just the names of the politicians.


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 Post subject: Re: Taken for fools
PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2010 9:00 am 
Bravo Richard. And Robbbco mentions Bryant, another who wielded the pin on the balloon. Though I have trouble arguing with Robbbco's logic over the shooting down of German Air Sea Rescue. Perhaps that was in the minds of U-boat captains when sinking hospital ships - or is that another myth?


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 Post subject: Re: Taken for fools
PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2010 11:12 am 
And of course the RNAS and RFC didn't provide parachutes in WWI because" the presence of such an apparatus might impair the fighting spirit of pilots and cause them to abandon machines which otherwise might be returned to base and be repaired". I understand that the RAF didn't introduce parachutes until at least the mid twenties at least. The Luftwaffe also provided self-inflating life-jackets for its fighter pilots which were much prized by RAF pilots. Armoured glass in windscreens was a 1940 addition to Hurricanes and Spitfires.


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 Post subject: Re: Taken for fools
PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2010 11:50 am 
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Do you think the lack of SAR was deliberate? Like Napoleon positioned light cavalry behind his lines to remind them of their duties, the official position might have been if a rescue service was available pilots would bail out rather than fight.

If that theory is right it suggests a sneering attitude from commanders toward those below. It also might, but not by definition, call into question how much British "spirit" there actually was if pilots could not be trusted to take the fight to the enemy.

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 Post subject: Re: Taken for fools
PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2010 11:57 am 
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RAF shoots down planes displaying the Red Cross, German U-boats sink ships displaying the Red Cross...the fog of war or policy? In war shit happens only moreso & people die who should not...by design & neglect. One also expects 'bad' things from the enemy & is seldom disappointed; the saints, of course, being on our side whichever that may be. It is only after the facts that national heads are hung in shame....I have no answers.
As for ASR, I remember, as a young man, that the RNLI was pretty active at the time. We lived then in Hastings & I remember, only because I happened to be on the beach at the time, our boat bringing in at least one wounded German pilot & I assume that the whole RNLI fleet around Britain was similarly engaged.
Perhaps some of you brilliant research wizards would trawl RNLI history in respect of (A)SR at that time....it could be very interesting & throw light on how many were rescued: both RAF & Luftwaffe.

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 Post subject: Taken for fools
PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2010 12:07 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 26, 2006 11:32 am
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Location: Tasmania
Similarly, the British MGBs attacking German armed barges & S-boats (E-boats in British parlance) along the Adriatic Sea's western Greek & Yugoslav coastlines towards the end of WWII were wisely heavily armed with heavy machine guns. But from what I have read, these guns where unprotected by splinter shields - whilst their German equivalents were. Why? Apparently to ensure that their British gunners' minds were concentrated - & for their own safety's sake would make sure that they got in the first effective shots in any action with German craft, rather than hiding behind their shields & perhaps being slower at shooting at their enemies than the Germans were! It seems that as a result, British gunners were usually the faster off the mark - but if the books that I have read about these actions are correct, what a disgraceful way then to treat our heroes!

Watchet


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 Post subject: Re: Taken for fools
PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2010 12:58 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 01, 2005 10:21 pm
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@permanentexpat

An interesting discussion thread here.

I quote one pertinent comment from Acting Wg Cdr Martin Bull:

Quote:
In 1940, the British had no adequate, organised air-sea rescue plan. The RAF relied on the hope that a passing trawler or Naval vessel would pick up any downed pilots. A fair number were picked up by the RNLI ( Royal National Lifeboat Institution ) who played an unsung role in the Battle.

A conference in 1939 had placed the responsibility for organising air-sea rescue under Coastal Command ; some launches had been ordered but were not ready in time for the Summer of 1940.

The RAF fighter pilots had no dinghies or fluorescent dye markers ; all they had was the 'Mae West' lifejacket. The temperature of the Channel in Summer reaches about 14 degrees C at best giving a downed pilot about 4 hours before death from hypothermia ( this of course varied depending on the individual, there are instances of pilots surviving 12 hours or so ).

A further horror was the standard issue Van Heusen shirt ; the collar shrank in contact with salt water and could choke the unfortunate wearer. This is the main reason for RAF pilot's unofficial adoption of the white silk scarf ; it wasn't just because they looked PDT_Armataz_01_25 .

ASR definitely 'caught the British out' during the BofB ; on 22 August 1940 Fighter Command got 12 Lysanders to help with sea searches, but many pilots drowned within sight of the shore. Possibly the worst place to be shot down was the Thames estuary; the swift currents made survival virtually impossible.

The proper, RAF Air-Sea Rescue organization was formed in 1941.

( The above details come from various sources, including Bungay, The Most Dangerous Enemy , Price, The Hardest Day, and Mason, Battle Over Britain ).

( PS : TA, the North Sea is definitely more inhospitable than the Channel. The Channel does at least benefit from the very tail-end of the current from the Gulf of Mexico : even so I wouldn't like to be adrift in either place... PDT_Armataz_02_21 )


Yes, it appears that later on things did improve: BEYOND COURAGE: Air Sea Rescue by Walrus Squadrons in the Adriatic, Mediterranean and Tyrrhenian Seas 1942-1945

As for the RNLI it saved some 6 500 people during the war years but I haven't found any stats on RAF pilots. Another interesting thread here (with pics).


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 Post subject: Re: Taken for fools
PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2010 1:08 pm 
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The common thread is a high aggression / high loss strategic approach (unprotected land rovers in Helmand and gun boats in the Meditteranean, no rescue for downed pilots in BoB). Does it go back before WWII?

How about charging the machine guns at Somme?

How about the "frontal attacks against Boer riflement in prepared entrenchments armed with Mauser rifles", the Boer War?

Or the Charge of the Light Brigade, the Crimean war?

Was it the popularised risky charge but comprehensive victory at the Battle of Trafalgar?

Does this supposedly heroic but actually stupid (when wrongly applied) approach to armed conflict originate with Lord Nelson - thus, could we nickname it Lord Nelson Syndrome? A succession of generals attempting to out-do his glory using similar direct tactics.

At the Battle of Agincourt I notice the situation was reversed, with the French charging the English machine guns (or long bows, as they were).

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 Post subject: Re: Taken for fools
PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2010 1:36 pm 
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Thanks, Mikgen!
It would still be interesting to know the number of German/British pilots picked up by the RNLI...and also to see if thr combatant ratio of rescues resembles that of the German ASR

'therewasblight' posts pungently on the 'it was ever thus' aspect...and I fear he is probably right...our History (the story of our nation for those who left school within the last twenty years) is peppered with utterly stoopid derring-do Boys Own Paper stuff which should have ensured our demise long before the Normans landed.

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 Post subject: Re: Taken for fools
PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2010 2:19 pm 
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mikgen wrote:
@permanentexpat

An interesting discussion thread here.

I quote one pertinent comment from Acting Wg Cdr Martin Bull: ....


Really helpful stuff that ... thanks.

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 Post subject: Re: Taken for fools
PostPosted: Sat Jul 24, 2010 2:42 pm 
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PDT_Armataz_01_31 PDT_Armataz_01_31 PDT_Armataz_01_31 We are obviously not all at one....I forwarded Richard's article to a friend who replied:

"What, oh what is the point in examining the minutiae of events of 70 years ago ? People do what they think is right at the time.
How some people love denigrating our own side ! How much detailed examination will the post war years stand in 70 years time, or should every generation be castigated because it was not perfect ? Would each one of us, as individuals, come out smelling of roses on close examination of our past ?
Tell your blogmeister to relax and get a life."
..............so there!
Does he have a point? PDT_Armataz_02_31
Addendum: Just in case there are any knee-jerk reactions to the letter, I happen to know that this guy was 'there' & earned an MC for bravery.

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