Friday, November 29, 2013

Aeroplane 01/2014

Croye Rothes Pithey came from Scheepersnek, Natal, South Africa, where he was born on August 19, 1895. After his schooling (he also learnt fluent Zulu) he became an accounts clerk for a chartered accountants firm in Johannesburg between February 1916 and May 1917, at which time he enlisted into the Royal Flying Corps in South Africa, signed up by one of the many recruitment officers touring the colonies for would-be aviators. He sailed for England where he began his flying training and after gaining his RFC wings was posted to France, being assigned to 52 Sqn. The squadron was equipped with Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8 two-seat reconnaissance machines, referred to by some First World War airmen as "flying coffins". Like a number of aircraft built by the Royal Aircraft Factory, they were wonderfully stable in the air, and so ideal for crews looking down to observe movements on the ground, from which to take aerial photographs of the terrain or to direct artillery fire. Unhappily, its inherent stability was a liability if German single-seat fighters made hostile moves against them, or even if confronted with an opposing enemy two-seater.

Britain At War 12/2013

DURING THE First World War many countries and communities sought to eradicate all associations with Germany, and Australia was as quick as any other to Anglicize anything that sounded Germanic. Even the popular cake the Jam Berliner was
renamed the Kitchener Bun. It has been reported, however, that campaigners in South Australia are considering reviving the German titles of some locations whose names were changed. The effects of the anti-German sentiments following the outbreak of war in 1914 were often profound. In South Australia, for example, a German-language newspaper, as well as schools and clubs, were closed down. Many residents of German descent were interned or imprisoned. Other “Germans” lost their jobs, leaving their families in financial difficulties. Hermann Robert Homburg, born 1874 in Norwood, a suburb of Adelaide, to a father who had arrived twenty years earlier, was forced to resign in 1915 – and he was the Attorney-General. Homburg wrote of a “campaign of lies and calumnies against me ... because I am not of British lineage”. Germanic place names in Australia became to be seen as offensive and the names of a large number of locations were changed. This was not done on a whim; in South Australia, for example, it was a carefully-considered operation undertaken by a Nomenclature Committee.

BBC History 11/2013

It is one of the most tantalising and controversial passages in the entire Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. In the same year, says the entry for 1002, “the king gave an order to slay all the Danes that were in England. This was accordingly done on the mass-day of St Brice; because it was told the king, that they would beshrew [curse] him of his life, and afterwards all his council, and then have his kingdom without any resistance.” More than a millennium later, the St Brice’s Day Massacre remains one of the most blood-curdling events in English history. The king in question was Æthelred II, known to generations of children as the Unready – which really meant ‘ill-advised’. For years the king had been struggling to cope with Viking raids on England’s shores. Often Æthelred paid the raiders off and allowed them to settle in the eastern part of his country, known as the Danelaw, where Scandinavian settlers already used Danish language and law. But shortly after the turn of the new century, the king’s patience ran out.

Military History Monthly 11/2013

Why do we remember Waterloo but forget Leipzig? The answer, of course, is that Waterloo was a mainly British battle fought just across the Channel, whereas Leipzig was a battle of Austrians, Prussians, and Russians in the heart of Europe. Both were great defeats for Napoleon and the French Empire. But Waterloo was a relatively small battle against a recently restored Napoleon. Leipzig, on the other hand, was almost certainly the biggest battle ever fought up to that time. Half a million men, representing four Great Powers, struggled for four days to determine the fate of Europe. The total cost was almost 100,000 casualties. Fought 200 years ago this month, Leipzig fully deserves its epithet: it was a true ‘Battle of the Nations’. Julian Spilsbury is our guide to the battle this issue. On a completely different scale, but equally fascinating, is Andy McDonald’s analysis of Gate Pa in 1864, when 250 Maori tribal warriors routed a far larger British army equipped with batteries of modern artillery. The British appear to have learned no lessons from this defeat.

Royal Air Force - The Official Annual Review 2014

The year 2013 marks the 95th Anniversary of the world’s oldest independent air force – the Royal Air Force. Throughout the Service’s proud history we have been at the forefront of world-changing advances in aviation science and technology, and have aspired to develop an innovative mind-set in our airmen and women.  As I look forward I am keen to reinforce this mindset, as people are not only at the heart of our capability, they are also central to the development of our future capabilities and, indeed, critical to defining how we will fight in the future in the defence of the United Kingdom and our interests abroad. The brave airmen of No. 617 Squadron who took part in the historic raids on the Ruhr Valley dams 70 years ago demonstrated vividly the Royal Air Force’s innovation.  While Barnes Wallis’s bouncing bomb exemplified an ingenious solution to a wartime problem, the airmen of No. 617 Sqn still had to develop a way to deliver this innovative weapon with precision effect.  They were, of course, successful, earning ‘The Dambusters’ label in the process, but in addition to raw courage, this daring operation required complex planning, ingenuity and flawless airmanship – all of which involved Royal Air Force personnel pushing the perceived technological boundaries of their equipment.