Breaking the Sound Barrier

Chuck Yeager in front of Bell X-1October 14, 1947. Breaking the Sound Barrier | The Greatest Moments in Flight

A booming thunder roared across the clear skies of the Mojave Desert on Oct. 14, 1947, as U.S. Air Force Capt. Chuck Yeager nudged an experimental rocket-powered plane faster than the speed of sound. Though only a handful of people realized it at the time, an aviation record had been set.

The flight was kept classified until June of the following year.

The rocket plane, the Bell X-1, powered by 4 rocket engines was dropped from a B-29 Superfortress.

The photo above, courtesy of the USAF and Wikimedia Commons shows Yeager in front of the X-1. Click for a larger view and a bit more info.

Yeager retired from the Air Force as a Brigadier General in 1975.

There is a lot of good information at Space.com (the first link at the top), and I would love to copy lots of it. But if you’re interested, go take a look, at what Americans accomplished in the 1940s and 50s, and few words about the research going on today. Oh, and a nod to Tom Wolfe and The Right Stuff.

Who knows you might learn something. (It will only hurt for a minute!) Actually the whole series from Space.com is good. First balloon flight. The Wright Brothers. Lindbergh. etc.

A Call to Spy

I had hoped to give a review of this movie under the “Movies you haven’t seen” topic. I wanted to like this movie. Vera Atkins (as played by Stana Katic) and Virginia Hall are two WWII figures I know about that I know most people don’t know. While I had heard of Noor Inayat Khan, I didn’t know as much about her, and was hoping to learn at least a bit.

I’m sure that the movie, A Call to Spy, is great if you speak English, German AND French, if you just speak English, you are out of luck. At least via Amazon. The version of the movie doesn’t include subtitles for parts in either French or German. Who does that? Apparently the BBC does that.

The first 15 or 20 minutes are in England, and in English. Even then the pacing is slow. I could have lived with that.

If you want to know more about Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, you can see the link to Virginia Hall, above, or my previous History Lesson on Section D.

And I can recommend the book Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: The Mavericks Who Plotted Hitler’s Defeat, which manages to be entertaining and informative. Ian Flemming, the author of all things James Bond, was a member of the Special Operations Executive, or one of their competitors, and few characters, like Q, are modeled on people in Section D. (D stands for Destruction.)

As usual Sabaton has a song, with historical content, that mentions saboteurs train in “Scottish Highlands.” That is one of the places that SOE trained operatives to be sent into France, and elsewhere across Europe. The song is “Saboteurs” but I don’t include a link, because I don’t like it very much, and it is easy enough to find on your own.

The Greatest American Hero of WWI

Alvin YorkMedal of Honor recipient Sergeant Alvin York. He was born on December 13, 1887, and he died September 2, 1964. The image, Copyright Underwood & Underwood, is a 1919 image of the sergeant after his promotion. Click for a larger view and some more info.

York served in the 82nd Division of the US Army, which today is usually known as the 82nd Airborne Division. (That’s important for the Musical Interlude part of the post.)

On October 8th, 1918, during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, Corporal Alvin York’s battalion was assigned to capture German positions near Hill 223. For his actions that day, he received the Distinguished Service Cross, was later awarded the Medal of Honor, promoted to the rank of Sergeant, and he was also decorated by the French receiving the Croix de Guerre, the Medaille Militaire and the Legion of Honour.

So what did he do to achieve all that?

On October 8, 1918, Corporal Alvin C. York and sixteen other soldiers under the command of Sergeant Bernard Early were dispatched before sunrise to take command of the Decauville railroad behind Hill 223 in the Chatel-Chehery sector of the Meuse-Argonne sector. The seventeen men, due to a misreading of their map (which was in French not English) mistakenly wound up behind enemy lines. A brief fire fight ensued which resulted in the confusion and the unexpected surrender of a superior German force to the seventeen soldiers. Once the Germans realized that the American contingent was limited, machine gunners on the hill overlooking the scene turned the gun away from the front and toward their own troops. After ordering the German soldiers to lie down, the machine gun opened fire resulting in the deaths of nine Americans, including York’s best friend in the outfit, Murray Savage. Sergeant Early received seventeen bullet wounds and turned the command over to corporals Harry Parsons and William Cutting, who ordered York to silence the machine gun. York was successful and when all was said and done, nine men had captured 132 prisoners.

His actions were ignored, and then in usual American media fashion blown out of all proportion. Others were ignored, it took until 1927 before two others, Sergeant Early and Corporal Cutting, would be awarded Distinguished Service Crosses.

By the end of the engagement, York and his seven men marched their German prisoners back to the American lines. Upon returning to his unit, York reported to his brigade commander, Brigadier General Julian Robert Lindsey, who remarked: “Well York, I hear you have captured the whole German army.” York replied: “No sir. I got only 132.”

And so we get another bonus Musical Interlude this week. I’ve put this in Metal for Mondays, for my own benefit, even though today isn’t Monday…

This is “82nd All The Way” by Amaranthe, a cover of a song originally by Sabaton. They released this song in January of this year, ahead of their COVID-19-canceled summer tour. Here’s a link to the lyrics for completeness.

There is a 1941 Hollywood biography of his life, Sergeant York. It stars Gary Cooper. I don’t think it is particularly good, and it is way too long. As I write this it is currently available on YouTube. Free in incredibly low resolution, and paid for higher definition. Though of course that may change at any time.

The History of Corruption in Chicago

JusticeA few days ago, I had a post on Corruption in Chicago. A statistic was quoted, and I had to track down an actual reference. Not that I don’t trust people, but I have found that people don’t trust me, unless I have a “legitimate source.” Though I’m not sure you can say that any of the news media qualifies these days. Still, here’s a reference from last year.

Alderman being investigated, and convicted is nothing new in The Windy City. EDITORIAL: Don’t back off, Mayor-elect Lightfoot, in ending aldermanic prerogative
By CST Editorial Board May 15, 2019, 3:41pm CDT

I hate to keep picking on Chicago, but they make it so damn easy.

The story/editorial isn’t important at this remove, and it’s behind a paywall anyway, but the point is they document the history of corruption in the city. Or part of it anyway.

The Chicago City Council blew its chance to be treated like responsible adults a long time ago.

Why do we think Chicago’s patience with aldermanic prerogative has finally run out?

Because Ald. Cochran pleaded guilty in March [of 2019].

Because Ald. Burke was named in a criminal complaint in January.

Because Ald. William Beavers was convicted in 2013.

Because Ald. Isaac “Ike” Carothers pleaded guilty in 2010.

Because Ald. Arenda Troutman pleaded guilty in 2008.

Because Ald. James Laski pleaded guilty in 2006.

Because Ald. Percy Giles was convicted in 1999.

Because Ald. Virgil Jones was convicted in 1998.

Because Ald. Larry Bloom pleaded guilty in 1998.

Because Ald. John Madrzyk was convicted in 1998.

Because Ald. Jesse Evans was convicted in 1997.

Because Ald. Joseph Martinez was convicted in 1997.

Because Ald. Allan Streeter pleaded guilty in 1996.

Because Ald. Ambrosio Medrano pleaded guilty in 1996.

Because Ald. Fred Roti was convicted in 1993.

Because Ald. Marian Humes pleaded guilty in 1998.

Because Ald. Perry Hutchinson was convicted in 1988.

Because Ald. Chester Kuta pleaded guilty in 1987.

Because Ald. Wallace Davis Jr. was convicted in 1987.

Because Ald. Cliff Kelley pleaded guilty in 1987.

Because Ald. Louis Farina was convicted in 1983.

Because Ald. Tyrone Kenner was convicted in 1983.

Because Ald. William Carothers was convicted in 1983.

Because Ald. Stanley Zydlo pleaded guilty in 1980.

Because Ald. Edward Scholl pleaded guilty in 1975.

Because Ald. Donald Swinarski pleaded guilty in 1975

Because Ald. Paul Wigoda was convicted in 1974

Because Ald. Tom Keane was convicted in 1974.

Because Ald. Frank Kuta was convicted in 1974.

Because Ald. Joe Potempa pleaded guilty in 1973.

Because Ald. Casimir Staszcuk was convicted in 1973.

Because Ald. Joe Jambrone was convicted in 1973.

Because Ald. Fred Hubbard pleaded guilty in 1972.

And those were just the crooks that got caught.

And those are all Democratic politicians in a city and county dominated by Democratic politicians. And where the fix is in. Probably why a fair few were taken down by the feds.

There are other politicians, not all aldermen of course, who got caught doing something they shouldn’t have been doing. Matthew J. Danaher had been clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County since 1968, when he was found dead in a hotel room of “natural causes” at the age of 47. A long-time associate of Mayor Daley, the elder, he had been indicted in a $400,000 kickback scheme. Danaher was awaiting trial. David J. Shields was convicted for taking $6,000 in bribes in 1988 to fix a court case.

There was Tony Rezko, who Obama managed to shed, even though the shady real estate deal between Rezko and Obama is legendary in Chicago.

Then there was Operation Greylord from the 1980s.

It was called Operation Greylord, named after the curly wigs worn by British judges. And in the end—through undercover operations that used honest and very courageous judges and lawyers posing as crooked ones… and with the strong assistance of the Cook County court and local police—92 officials had been indicted, including 17 judges, 48 lawyers, eight policemen, 10 deputy sheriffs, eight court officials, and one state legislator. Nearly all were convicted, most of them pleading guilty.

So as you can see, Chicago is not populated by the most ethical politicians in the universe.

On This Day in (Pink Floyd) History

If had known about this anniversary earlier in the week, I would have scheduled this for the morning. As it is, I can’t let the 45th anniversary of this album’s release go unnoticed.

This is “Wish You Were Were Here” from the album Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd. The album was released on 12 September 1975.

September 11th

I doubt the media will devote much time to the date. There are wild fires in California. Which lets them scream, “Climate Change!” Pay no attention to the 100 years of bad forest management. And then there is the whole Orange Man Bad insanity that they are stuck on, and the Mostly Peaceful arson and riots which are still going on.

But this is one of those days that we should not forget. Ever. The World Trade Center. The Pentagon. The heroes of United Airlines Flight 93.

The rest is Shamelessly stolen from myself. It is about a memorial to victims of the World Trade Center attacks that you probably haven’t heard of.

teardropOfficially it is To the Struggle Against World Terrorism, (In Russian, Для борьбы против международного терроризма) but is is usually known as The Teardrop Memorial. Sometimes, though less often, it is called the Tear of Grief. (Click the image for a better view.)

The names of the victims of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center as well as the names of those who died in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center are engraved around the plinth.

It was designed by a Russian artist, Zurab Tsereteli, and presented as an official gift from the government of Russia to the people of the USA. President Clinton had to make some remarks at the 2006 dedication. (I think the Bush Administration wasn’t too happy about the Russians at that time.) And for reasons I can’t uncover it seems to have a lot of people convinced it is an urban legend.

It stands at the end of the former Military Ocean Terminal in Bayonne, New Jersey. Jersey City turned down the memorial when a gaggle of local artists complained that they hadn’t been asked to design a memorial. (No one asked Tsereteli either, as far as I can tell.)

The art community hates it. The general public seems to like it.

As for NYC, here is what it used to look like.

World War 2 Lessons

We Are The Mighty has a History Lesson for you. 5 Quotes that explain the barbarism of World War II

The first quote may be my favorite.

1. “Fixed fortifications are monuments to man’s stupidity.”

—George Patton, General of the US Seventh Army

I don’t think he was referring to the Maginot Line specifically when he said that, but he may have been.

[Patton] had become interested in tank warfare as early as 1917, when he was charged with establishing one of the first American tank schools, the AEF Light Tank School. Patton was the most experienced tank operator of WWI and led the first American tank offensive of the war.

Patton is only slightly less quotable than William Tecumseh Sherman.

Click thru for the rest of the info on Patton, and 4 other quotes. I promise that learning something won’t hurt. Well, not for more than a minute.

Maoist Tactics from the Cultural Revolution Come to America

The Maoist Revolution in America has begun. This is actually painful to watch.

I’m sure that the people participating in these “protests” don’t even know the history of what they are doing. Or maybe they don’t care.

This is Ritual Public Shaming from Paul Joseph Watson.

I don’t always agree with Mr. Watson, but he’s got this exactly right.

Hat tip to Moonbattery – Black Lives Matter and the Chinese Cultural Revolution

There are more examples of course. Antifa/BLM has started interfering with journalists, and not just the ones known to be hostile to the cause, because with the exception of CNN and their “mostly peaceful” or “fiery but peaceful” riots, a lot of journalists are trying to report on the destruction.

Freddie Oversteegen: Dutch Resistance Fighter

A history lesson, and someone you should know about. This Teenager Killed Nazis With Her Sister During WWII.

Freddie and her sister Truus Oversteegen were amazing.

Freddie Oversteegen was only 14 when she joined the Dutch resistance during World War II, and only a couple of years older when she became one of its armed assassins. Together with her sister—and later, a young woman named Hannie Schaft—the trio lured, ambushed and killed German Nazis and their Dutch collaborators.

The anniversary of her death was on Saturday, but I didn’t think I could get anyone’s attention over the weekend. They would either be the bait, luring SS officers “into the woods” for a “stroll,” where they would either kill them, or be met by resistance fighters. Who would kill the SS officers.

“They were unusual, these girls,” says Bas von Benda-Beckmann, a former researcher at the Netherlands’ Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies. “There were a lot of women involved in the resistance in the Netherlands but not so much in the way these girls were. There are not that many examples of women who actually shot collaborators themselves.”

When people would ask her how many people she killed…

According to [Jeroen] Pliester, [chair of the National Hannie Schaft Foundation,] Freddie would tell people who asked that she and her sister were soldiers, and soldiers don’t say.

See you learned something, and I bet it only hurt for a minute. Maybe 2.

A Visual Record of Nuclear Testing

We recently marked the anniversary of the Bombing of Hiroshima. Today is the anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki. Instead of rehashing that, I thought this would be an interesting way to mark the day.

The news story was from CBS News Sunday Morning. And while I’m not 100% sure, it seems that this segment first aired on March 3, 2019. The video is 6 minutes.

Some of the film is amazing. You can watch the high-energy X-rays vaporizing the cables that were used to steady the towers. And as they say in the news story, you need to understand the awesome power of these weapons, because while I never thought the Russians running the old Soviet Union were insane, North Korea and Iran are another story. They are clearly insane, and they have or are developing nuclear weapons.

My post on the bombing of Hiroshima is at this link.

An older post on the bombing of Nagasaki can be found at this link.

August 6, 1945: The Bombing of Hiroshima

Tomorrow marks a notable anniversary. Shamelessly stolen from myself, from a few years ago…

Just a few weeks after the first atomic bomb was detonated by the Manhattan Project in the desert Southwest (on July 16, 1945) the US Army Air Force dropped an atomic bomb, code named “Little Boy” on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. Manhattan Project: The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima, August 6, 1945

At 8:15 in the morning local time, a 15 kiloton uranium gun-trigger bomb was dropped on a city of 300,000 people.

The blast wave filled the air with broken glass. The flash from the detonation burned the shadows of people onto the walls left standing. 9 out of 10 people within half a mile of ground zero were dead.

The photo above is of the city center some weeks after the bombing. Click for a larger image.

In those areas most seriously affected virtually no one escaped serious injury. The numerous small fires that erupted simultaneously all around the city soon merged into one large firestorm, creating extremely strong winds that blew towards the center of the fire. The firestorm eventually engulfed 4.4 square miles of the city, killing anyone who had not escaped in the first minutes after the attack.

Those farther away had other problems as they thought their buildings had been bombed. Make-shift rescue parties started working shortly after the blast. Outside relief was slow to arrive, because the Japanese high command didn’t understand what happened. They couldn’t imagine destruction on that scale. It wasn’t until the US announcement 16 hours later that the true nature of what happened came to light.

While some things started to get back to normal in a few days, the effects of radiation sickness started to show itself.

Power in undamaged areas of the city was even restored on August 7th, with limited rail service resuming the following day. Several days after the blast, however, medical staff began to recognize the first symptoms of radiation sickness among the survivors. Soon the death rate actually began to climb again as patients who had appeared to be recovering began suffering from this strange new illness. Deaths from radiation sickness did not peak until three to four weeks after the attacks and did not taper off until seven to eight weeks after the attack.

The effects of radiation poisoning are truly hideous. A high enough exposure and you are dead – you are just waiting for the mechanics of dying to be complete. You can find descriptions of the gruesome details elsewhere. All I will say here is that I would not want to wait around for that end.

East Germany, The Cold War, and Lessons Lost

Are you antifascist just because you say you are? The old East Germany, or The German Democratic Republic (GDR) said they were antifascist. They also said that they were Democratic. What they actually were was a brutal dictatorship. But propaganda can’t be bothered with the Truth. It seems that not very many youngsters have heard of the GDR, or Das Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (that’s the Ministry for State Security or Stazi for you children.)

First, let’s look at some stuff the Germans have to say; it is their history, after all. East Germany: A failed experiment in dictatorship.

West Germany, or the Federal Republic of Germany, was a republic based on a parliamentary democracy, that enjoyed the advantages of Free Markets. East Germany was a Socialist State, with a command economy under the control of Stalin’s Russia. These two ideologies came up against one another in Berlin, half West German, Half East.

In divided Berlin, the clash between the competing systems of capitalism and socialism could not have been more stark. The city, with a total of 3.3 million residents, was the hotspot of the Cold War — and, until 1961, it was also the hole through which refugees fled. But that hole was plugged with the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961. Until that point, more than one million people, fed up with the economy of lack and the intellectual climate of an unfree society, had turned their backs on the GDR.

What we call The Berlin Wall, built by East Germany to keep their citizens in (did that make them prisoners?) was officially, according the GDR, the Anti-fascist Protection Rampart. That is Antifaschistischer Schutzwall in German. It was created to keep all those West German fascists at bay. In 1961. Actually it was to keep people in, because how dare you have a difference of opinion.

The secret police organization of the GDR was the Ministerium für Staatssicherheit or the Stasi. Introduction – Ministry for State Security.

The Ministry for State Security (MfS) acted with aggressive harshness and brutality during the early years of the GDR. Its methods ranged from physical violence to arbitrary arrests, from kidnappings in the West to conducting show trials and having the courts impose draconian sentences.

In the 1970s the MfS changed its secret police activities and began increasingly to use “softer” methods. The GDR leadership did not want to compromise its attempts to gain international recognition: persecution and repression were to be concealed. The MfS now focused more on preventive surveillance and so-called “psychic demolition”. It used manipulation and targeted rumours in its attempts to systematically intimidate individuals or groups, to ruin their reputations, isolate or criminalize them. Friendships were destroyed, and professional careers ruined without the victims even realizing why.

Strange how that playbook is still being used today by the Left. You have a different opinion? You will be destroyed. But that is where we are today. We are morphing into the old East Germany.

Why this post, and why today. You can blame social-media. I was having a discussion with a woman who was “reporting violations” of her county’s You Must Wear a Mask ordinance. I told her how happy that behavior made the Stasi, and how good citizens of East Germany were supposed to report violations of “the law.” That is not quite what the MfS did, but the organization did make a large number of “informers.”

The unofficial collaborators (IMs) were the “key weapon” of the Ministry for State Security (MfS). They were used primarily in the GDR. With their help the MfS spied on the population and tried to gather information on its moods and any attempts at “subversion”.[SNIP]

They also played an active role in the State Security’s activities in the field of so-called “psychic demolition”.

That woman I was having the “discussion” with? She changed the parameters on her account so that it was no longer public. That is so much easier than responding to sarcasm, or dealing with different opinions.

And so you have to ask… Did we win the Cold War? Or are we in fact becoming East Germany, where dissenting opinions are destroyed. Today we call it cancel culture. It isn’t that different from psychic demolition. History.

Ignorance. Rinse. Repeat.

75 Years of the Nuclear Age

The GadgetJuly 16, 1945. 5:29 AM Mountain Time, near Alamogordo, New Mexico.

The Gadget was detonated – the 1st nuclear explosion – by the Manhattan Project. It was a plutonium implosion device.

At 05:29:21 (July 16, 1945) local time, the device exploded. It left a crater of radioactive glass in the desert 10 feet (3.0 m) deep and 1,100 feet (340 m) wide. At the time of detonation, the surrounding mountains were illuminated brighter than daytime for one to two seconds, and the heat was reported as being as hot as an oven at the base camp. The observed colors of the illumination ranged from purple to green and eventually to white. The roar of the shock wave took 40 seconds to reach the observers. The shock wave was felt over 100 miles (160 km) away, and the mushroom cloud reached 7.5 miles (12.1 km) in height. After the initial euphoria of witnessing the explosion had passed, test director Kenneth Bainbridge commented to Los Alamos director J. Robert Oppenheimer, Now we are all sons of bitches. Oppenheimer later stated that, while watching the test, he was reminded of a line from the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu scripture: Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.

(The Gadget was similar to Fat Man, which was dropped on Nagasaki on the 9th August that year. Little Boy, which was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th, was a uranium gun-trigger.)

Video of the blast is all over YouTube. Here is a short one.

The best documentary I have seen on The Manhattan Project is The Day After Trinity. It is currently available on YouTube; how long that will be the case is anyone’s guess. When it was filmed, several of the scientists from The Manhattan Project were still alive for interviews.

It was later determined to be an 18-to-20 kiloton explosion. (The equivalent of 18,000 tons of TNT or more) Relatively small by modern standards. Thermonuclear – or hydrogen – bombs are measured in megatons. (The largest -Tsar Bomba of the USSR – measured 50 megatons)

First Flight of the Wright Brothers

June 23rd at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Just the facts: 1905 Wright Flyer III.

Orville first flew this airplane on 23 Jun 1905. Flyer III had a new airframe and an upgraded engine with slightly larger cylinders, but it was essentially the same design and had the same marginal performance and instability as Flyers I and II. These shortcomings caused a major crash on 14 July 1905 that all but wrecked the airplane, but from which Orville emerged unscathed.

They rebuilt the plane, moving both the rudder and elevator farther from the wings, and adding a few other modifications to make it more stable in flight.

The plane was further modified in later years. It crashed in 1908 and was abandoned, but it was salvaged in 1914, and today it is on display at Wright Hall in Carillon Park, Dayton, OH.

Germany’s Invasion of The Soviet Union

June 22, 1941. So I will just steal from myself. The Largest Military Invasion in History. I was reminded of this a little while ago…

As I’ve mentioned, the Soviet side of World War Two has captured my attention recently. Why was it that when the rest of the world didn’t think women had a place in combat, the Soviet Union was fielding women snipers, and whole regiments of women bomber and fighter pilots?

The answer is Operation Barbarossa, the largest military invasion in history.

On June 22, 1941, more than 3 million German (and other) troops, spearheaded by panzer divisions and supported by the Luftwaffe, invaded the Soviet Union‡. Before grinding to a halt less than 100 kilometers from Moscow.

A summary of the invasion is at the link. Details on the invasion could fill several books. Actually do fill more than several books.

More Destruction in the Name of Progress

The Left wants to destroy history.

First Portland – Didn’t We Try to Warn You?.

Protestors Riotors in Portland have destroyed a statue of George Washington.

Back in the 1990s, when activists began declaring the Confederate flag to be “controversial,” I recall leaders of the Sons of Confederate Veterans warning that this malicious spirit would not stop with dishonoring our Southern ancestors. Rather, these “activists” were inspired by demonic forces of racial hatred toward all white people, so that once they were through trashing the memory of the Confederacy, next they would turn to destroying the memory of the Founding Fathers and momunuments to other famous figures of American history. Does this sound familiar?

The French declared a year 1 as part of the French Revolution. Cambodia declared a year 0. “History begins with us.” I don’t remember who said that, maybe one of the Bolsheviks. Anyway click thru.

And more destruction. Protesters tear down statues of Union general Ulysses S. Grant, national anthem lyricist Francis Scott Key.

He [Grant] was a “slave owner” in that he was gifted a slave, hated the idea, and freed him within a year. Then won the Civil War, prosecuted the KKK, and appointed African Americans to prominent roles in government.

So of course we have to tear down a statue of Grant.

Or as one Twitter post put it, “People going after Grant probably just want to break things.”

They want to break everything.

The Deacons for Defense and Justice

Usually you only see stories about the Deacons for Defense and Justice during February, which is African-American History Month. It is rare even then, because their story contradicts some of the MLK legend of non-violence. In Bogalusa, the Deacons fought violence with violence.

The cops in the South were often aligned with (or members of) the Klan. So eventually, people decided that they needed to defend themselves.

During a mob scene, where the whites were trying to stop a black woman from getting medical care, the Deacons intervened.

The warning shot did not deter the mob, and by then, according to newspaper accounts, a white man identified as 26-year-old Alton Crowe of Pearl River began pounding Johnson in his face with his fists. Austan fired a second time, this time with the bullet landing in the chest of Crowe, the married father of five children, who, Austan thought, was trying to enter the vehicle.

The two Deacons were arrested but not prosecuted. Self-defense is a thing, after all. And once the Klan realized that they too could be shot, things changed a bit.

“Once they realized that we were serious about shooting, it became basically a standoff between us and them,” [Deacon Henry Austan] said.

“It was not like the old days where you could just drive in the neighborhood and everybody start hiding from you and you drag whoever you want out,” he said. “It was not like anymore, and they realized that.”

He added: “When there’s some opposition, it’s not any fun anymore.”

The myth contradiction? Well once when the Klan was ready to attack a Congress for Racial Equality (CORE) group, a spokesperson for the Deacons stepped up, and told the Klan-affiliated-sheriff, that they were prepared to meet violence with violence. The attack never took place.

I suppose that the media is bringing this up now in hopes of justifying the “Dismantle the Police” or something similar. Still there is one more important lesson that can be learned from the Deacons…

“We were effective. Not heroic, effective,” Austan said, thinking back on his time with the Deacons. “That’s what we were. We came into existence when the situation demanded it. We went out of existence when we were no longer needed.”

How many organizations disband when they meet their goals? Almost none. They move the goalposts and keep on going.

Historic Bridge Repair in England

How do you repair a viaduct that is more than 150 years old, and a historic monument, and still keep the trains running on time? Historic Ribblehead viaduct threatens to collapse after walkers are hit by falling rubble from structure that cost more than 100 workers’ lives when it was built in 1870s.

  • The grade II structure has developed dangerous defects that are causing masonry to plunge off the edge 
  • It means tourists flocking to the historic attraction on the Settle-Carlisle line risk being hit by falling debris  
  • Proposals include restitching the viaduct’s 24 arches, inserting anchors and repairing rainwater systems

The viaduct opened 12 October 1870

You can’t repair a 150-year-old structure without making some changes. Which is a problem for some people. But it beats tearing down an historic structure because it is becoming unsafe.

Network Rail said minimising the risk to workers during repairs is a priority. Restitching masonry fractures, inserting anchors, reinforcing stone and repainting metalwork are included in the proposed plans.

Other proposed repairs include reinforcing stone repair mortar, repointing faulty mortar joints and repairing rainwater systems.

As they note in the title to the article, more than 100 people died during the construction.

At least they didn’t wait for the viaduct to completely collapse before starting repairs.

The D-Day Invasion

In honor of the troops that went ashore in France on June 6th 1944. Shamelessly stolen from myself…

The BBC did 1 hour segment entitled “Bloody Omaha” as part of the series BBC Timewatch. (See the link to the full BBC show below the video.) It concentrates on the American landing at Omaha Beach

I love this short film, and I love the song. This video embedded below is how 3 guys recreated the Omaha Beach landing for the camera in a couple of days. Saving Private Ryan had a few more people, 1000 extras, and a lot more money. Below the video is a link to the full documentary. It is about an hour. (It was an episode on a BBC show.) And if you haven’t seen the 1962 movie The Longest Day, you should. It has truly an all-star cast, from John Wayne and Richard Burton to Red Buttons and Fabian.

The entire episode of BBC Timewatch, “Bloody Omaha” can be found at this link. It is just under an hour long at 56 minutes, more or less. Plan accordingly.

The Preparations for D-Day

For those of you who don’t have an interest in history, you probably don’t remember that the Normandy Invasion took place on June 6th 1944. With that in mind, OldAFSarge, at Chant du Départ has a series of posts on the days leading up to the event. (The AF stands for Air Force, not As F-) More on the order of historical fiction, than the history Sarge is usually known for.

The 2nd of June, 1944

And so begins a small fictional interlude here at The Chant. The Sixth of June approaches, the 76th anniversary of the Invasion of Normandy. I thought I’d share a little something to remember those who fought there, especially those who died there. On both sides.

Still the photos are from the time depicted.

The 3rd of June, 1944

The 4th of June, 1944