War

France is doomed

by Pete

Nic23e-Attack

[French] Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Friday morning that France would observe three days of national mourning, starting Saturday. Flags on government buildings will fly at half-staff.

“We would like to tell the French people that we will never give in,” Mr. Valls said outside the Élysée Palace, in Paris. “We will not give in to the terrorist threat. The times have changed, and France is going to have to live with terrorism.”

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He added: “France, once again, has been hit in its soul, on the 14th of July, our national day. They wanted to attack the unity of the French nation.”

France, he added, will remain “united and joined around its values.”

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Sidney Stanfield in 1918.

Sidney Stanfield in 1918. Photo: courtesy Susan Paris

Wounded,Conflict, Casualties and Care

How battlefield surgeons treated shellshock, shrapnel and gas

And poor Jim was laying there cuddled up in a heap as men die. Don’t forget we was all young, we didn’t die easy. You don’t die at once, you’re not shot and killed stone dead. You don’t die at once. We were all fit and highly trained and of course we didn’t die easy, you see. You were slow to die and you’d find them huddled up in a heap like kids gone to sleep, you know, cuddled up dead.

Sidney George Stanfield (Stan) was born in Tinui, near Masterton, in 1900. He worked as a farmhand before sailing for war in 1916 with the Wellington Infantry Battalion. He saw action in France and Belgium and at the end of the war was still nearly two years under the age limit for service overseas.

On being a stretcher-bearer at Passchendaele 12–14 October 1917

It rained and rained and bloody rained, and rained and rained, see. Just like here in the autumn time, when it comes to rain and it was cold. And we were picking them up from a gathering point as a regimental aid post. Well there were hundreds of men laying out, around. You couldn’t get them inside, it was an old German concrete emplacement and you couldn’t get them all inside, but the doctors were working inside. And they were just laying around where they’d been dumped by the stretcher-bearers from off the field and at one period I believe there were 600 stretcher cases laying round the place in the wet and cold, just dying there where they were dumped off. They weren’t even laying on stretchers, just laying on the ground with an oil sheet tied over them if anyone thought to do that, or if one of their mates could do it. Just laying there, because the stretchers were used for picking up other men, you see, there couldn’t be a stretcher for every stretcher case. We just carried till you couldn’t carry more. You just went until you couldn’t walk really, you just went until you couldn’t walk.

On how infantrymen saw themselves at Passchendaele

An ordinary infantryman at Passchendaele was a pretty dumb beast. That’s how he’s treated, you see. He was only gun fodder and when all is said, and that’s what I feel. We were pretty dumb beasts you see, or we wouldn’t have been slapped, thrown into that sort of warfare, because it was hopeless before you started. We all knew that.

There was one place at Passchendaele … where we heard a man crying at night out in front and went out and we couldn’t find him and we heard him crying part of the next day. Calling, you know, calling, sort of crying, not screaming or anything, crying out. We just knew there was a wounded man lying down under something you see. We never found that man. That’s the only thing that’s stuck in my memory. The others, I’ve seen them lay gasping and panting and scratching up the dirt with their fingernails on their face and all crawling around semi-delirious and all sorts of things.

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Advancing across no man's land in the mist. An assault force advancing across no man's land in what apprears to be either a morning mist or a gas cloud ...

Advancing across no man’s land in the mist. An assault force advancing across no man’s land in what appears to be either a morning mist or a gas cloud …

The Battle of the Somme

But all that my mind sees

Is a quaking bog in a mist — stark, snapped trees,
And the dark Somme flowing.

Vance Palmer (1885–1959),

‘The Farmer Remembers The Somme’

The Battle of the Somme, fought in northern France, was one of the bloodiest of World War One. The aims of the battle, were to relieve the French Army fighting at Verdun and to weaken the German Army. However, the Allies were unable to break through German lines. In total, there were millions dead and wounded on all sides.

The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme Offensive, was one of the largest battles of the First World War. Fought between July 1 and November 1, 1916 near the Somme River in France, it was also one of the bloodiest military battles in history. On the first day alone, the British suffered more than 57,000 casualties, and by the end of the campaign the Allies and Central Powers would lose more than 1.5 million men.

A truly nightmarish world greeted the New Zealand Division when it joined the Battle of the Somme in mid-September 1916. The division was part of the third big push of the offensive, designed to crack the German lines once and for all. When it was withdrawn from the line a month later, the decisive breakthrough had still not occurred.

Fifteen thousand members of the division went into action. Nearly 6000 men were wounded and 2000 lost their lives. More than half the New Zealand Somme dead have no known grave. They are commemorated on the New Zealand Memorial to the Missing in Caterpillar Valley Cemetery, near Longueval. One of these men returned home to New Zealand in November 2004; his remains lie in the tomb of the Unknown Warrior outside New Zealand’s National War Memorial.

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Betty Pack— born Amy Elizabeth Thorpe. Wedding portrait of Amy Thorpe, 1936. January 1936, Betty caught the attention of MI-6 and became an “asset” – someone the Secret Intelligence Service could – and did – reach out to. As a diplomat’s wife, and a natural seductress, Betty had the ways and means to access powerful men and their military and government secrets.

Betty Pack— born Amy Elizabeth Thorpe. Wedding portrait of Amy Thorpe, 1936. January 1936, Betty caught the attention of MI-6 and became an “asset” – someone the Secret Intelligence Service could –and did –reach out to. As a diplomat’s wife, and a natural seductress, Betty had the ways and means to access powerful men and their military and government secrets.

Sexpionage

Code Name Cynthia

Also Known As:

Elizabeth Pack

Judy Brackett

Betty Pack

Betty Thorpe

 She hid Secrets in her Negligees, never wore Knickers and Seduced Countless Men to help Britain Win the War

Amy Elizabeth Thorpe Pack was one of the most successful female spies of her time, arguably any time – yet her story has rarely been told.

A fundamental rule of intelligence work is that one must not mix love and work when dealing with any intelligence target. The relationship can become dangerous to one or both of the parties if an agent develops genuine affection for a target. In wartime, this rule is even more critical, and if the agent is operating in hostile territory, the rule of avoiding romance is paramount. In spite of that, one agent broke this essential rule in wartime and lived to tell—a remarkable woman by the name of Amy Elizabeth Thorpe.

Amy Elizabeth Thorpe, Family and friends called her Betty, was a glamorous American socialite, born in Minneapolis, raised in Washington, DC, who helped the Allies win World War II. She had lots of derring-do exploits, helping the British obtain an Enigma code-breaking machine, ingeniously stealing ciphers from an embassy safe that were crucial to the successful invasion of North Africa. Time magazine, in her obituary, called her a ‘blonde Bond’ who used ‘the boudoir as Ian Fleming’s character used the Beretta.’ She lived a consequential, exciting, and intriguing life.

Cynthia and her husband travelled to European and South American posts, where she conducted a series of foreign intrigues with assorted admirers. She once wrote in her diary, “I love to love with all my heart, only I have to appear cool. Life is but a stage on which to play. One’s role is to pretend, and always to hide one’s true feelings.”

Betty found that marriage and motherhood left her unfulfilled and empty. She longed for adventure and romance, and as she strayed from her husband she felt she was always searching for her one true love. In her quest, she was introduced to a top British diplomat who quickly recognized Betty’s impressive powers of seduction. In the mid-1930’s Betty was groomed for a career in espionage against the backdrop of a world preparing for massive conflict. Over the course of World War II, Betty identified, pursued, and seduced many powerful men, including top-ranking Polish and Italian commanders. Through her series of intense love affairs, Betty uncovered privileged intelligence that would help the Allies break the top-secret codes and ciphers of the enemy troops.

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Elisabeth Gloeden on trial for her involvement in the July Plot, Jul-Nov 1944. After being caught by the Gestapo she was executed by beheading on November 30th, 1944. Photo: ww2db United States Library of Congress.

Elisabeth Gloeden on trial for her involvement in the July Plot, Jul-Nov 1944. After being caught by the Gestapo she was executed by beheading on November 30th, 1944. Photo: United States Library of Congress.

July Plot

The attempt on Hitler’s life on 20 July 1944, was the seventeenth known occasion that someone had tried to kill Hitler. Unlike other attempts however this, the 20 July Bomb Plot, was the most intricate, and involved plans for a new Germany following the successful accomplishment of the mission.

Elizabeth Charlotte Lilo Gloeden was a 31 year old Berlin housewife, and opponent of the Nazi regime, who with her mother and husband, helped shelter those who were persecuted by the Nazis, by hiding them for weeks at a time in their flat.

Alongside her husband Erich Gloeden, she helped German Jews escape from Nazi Germany and hid General Erich Gloeden after he took part in the attempted coup against Hitler in 1944.

Also, among those they took in was resistance leader, Dr. Carl Goerdeler and the Mayor of Leipzig. Elizabeth, her mother and husband, were all arrested by the Gestapo, and subjected to torture under interrogation. On November 30th, 1944, all three were guillotined at two-minute intervals.

Attempts on Adolf Hitler’s life were made even prior to this assassination attempt that would later be dubbed the July Plot. For instance, Operation Flash on 13 Mar 1943 had Hans von Dohnanyi set up a time bomb on Hitler’s plane as he flew over Minsk; the altitude of the plane froze the fuse and the bomb failed to detonate. Another such attempt actually took place only a week after Operation Flash. Colonel Rudolf von Gersdorff wanted to carry explosives in his own overcoat, sacrificing himself to kill Hitler as he toured an exhibition of captured Russian equipment in Berlin; that attempt failed because Hitler decided to shorten the visit to a mere two-minute one, leaving Gersdorff drenched in cold sweat afterwards trying to disarm the bomb and flush it down a toilet before he gathered too much suspicion.

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Death of a Danish hero – Anders Lassen VC.

Death of a Danish Hero – Anders Lassen VC.

Kill Without Mercy

Party Like There’s No Tomorrow

As the British Expeditionary Force retreated from the French beaches in 1939, Winston Churchill issued an extraordinary order to his chiefs of staff: “Prepare hunter troops for a butcher-and-bolt reign of terror.”

Under Churchill’s orders the British military was tasked with recruiting forces to strike the enemy in hit-and-run attacks, using all possible measures and with no holds barred. Churchill knew that Britain had to strike back hard. So Britain’s wartime leader called for the lightning development of a completely new kind of warfare.

He tasked his Special Operations Executive (SOE) to recruit a band of eccentrics: free-thinkers, misfits, cutthroats, gaol-breakers and buccaneers – those who had the special character to operate on their own initiative deep behind enemy lines, with no holds barred, and offering these volunteers nothing but the potential for glory and all-but-certain death. Incredibly, there was no shortage of volunteers flocking to his call.

The most famous of Churchill’s commandos – who would go on to form part of the SAS – was arguably the Anders Lassen. Lassen epitomized the spirit of these warriors, whose actions were defined by extraordinary – some might argue, suicidal – bravery, and a blatant disregard for the traditional military hierarchy.

Men and officers alike had to earn respect – merit was prized above and regardless of rank – and the only way to do so was in battle. Lassen became the only member of the British SAS ever to win the Victoria Cross (among numerous other decorations).

His VC was granted posthumously, as a result of a raid on Italy in the closing stages of the war that also claimed the lives of many of his men. Prior to that, he and his small force had liberated the entirety of Greece pretty much single-handedly.

These men were the SOE’s first ‘deniable’ operatives. Falling under the SOE’s command as opposed to that of the military, they were empowered to use all necessary measures to achieve Churchill’s aims, and they were to be disowned by the British Government if captured.

Each SOE warrior-agent was issued with a ‘0’ codename, meaning that he was a ‘zero’-rated agent – one trained and licensed to use all means to liquidate the enemy, especially the arts of silent killing. Indeed, these SOE 0-rated operatives are believed to be the inspiration behind Ian Fleming’s ‘00’ agents in his James Bond novels.

The Special Operations Executive also came to be known as the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. And perhaps the least gentlemanly of the SSRF butcher-and-bolt specialists was Dane, Anders — known as Andy — Lassen, who was not averse to bellowing orders in German to confuse the enemy. His father, visiting London before the war, liked to summon his chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce with a blast of his hunting horn from the steps of the Hyde Park Hotel.

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Irena Sendler. An unfamiliar name to most people, but this remarkable woman defied the Nazis and saved 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Irena Sendler. An unfamiliar name to most people, but this remarkable woman defied the Nazis and saved 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Remembering Irena

A Light that Never Went Out

Arrested, tortured, and sentenced to death, Sendler managed to escape her sentence for smuggling over 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto and saving them from certain death.

Irena Sendler, born in 1910, in Warsaw, Poland, was raised by her parents to respect and love people regardless of their ethnicity or social status. She grew up in the town of Otwock, Poland. Her father, a physician, died from typhus that he contracted during an epidemic in 1917. He was the only doctor in his town of Otwock, near Warsaw who would treat the poor, mostly Jewish community of this tragic disease. As he was dying, he told 7-year-old Irena, “If you see someone drowning you must try to rescue them, even if you cannot swim.”

When World War II started in 1939, Irena immediately started protecting her Jewish friends in Warsaw. She worked as a social services director in Warsaw. She would make false documents for Jews in the city and had already started gathering her famous rescue network. When the Warsaw Ghetto was erected in 1940, Irena saw the danger ahead.

When liquidation started in 1942, Irena and her network accelerated the rescue process. The number 2,500, in connection with children rescued, is estimated by Irena and historians to be of this division. About 800 were taken from the Warsaw Ghetto, many of which were orphans. Approximately the same number were in orphanages and convents, Irena and her network assisted in the hiding of these children.

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Conroy and Stubby’s formal portrait.Sergeant Stubby and J. Robert Conroy, March 1919. Courtesy of Division of Armed Forces/Smithsonian National Museum of America History.

Conroy and Stubby’s formal portrait.Sergeant Stubby and J. Robert Conroy, March 1919. Courtesy of Division of Armed Forces/Smithsonian National Museum of America History.

The Drool Sergeant of World War I

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”
                                                                          – Mark Twain

 Sergeant Stubby, the ‘Hero Dog of WWI,’ once caught a German soldier by the seat of his pants and held him until American soldiers came. He also served in 17 battles, saved his regiment from surprise mustard gas attacks, and helped locate wounded soldiers.

On April 6th 1917 the U.S. Congress declared war on Germany officially entering a conflict that over the course of three years would become World War I or “The Great War”. In the following months all men between the ages of 21 and 30 that were eligible for military service were traveling to various locations including Yale University who was lending their athletic fields to the training effort beginning in July 1917.

One of the soldiers training at Yale, 25-year old J. Robert Conroy of the 102nd Infantry Regiment 26th “Yankee Division”, quickly caught the eye of one campus resident in particular, a small brown and white dog with stub for a tail.

No one is entirely sure when the pup first arrived on the grounds of Yale but he definitely made a good impression in a short amount of time while visiting students and getting some friendly scraps to eat. Even though he was no stranger to everyone on campus, it was Conroy that he attached himself too and he gave his new friend the name “Stubby”.

The furry little guy became an instant companion but after a short amount of time he also became a training partner. While the men practiced their drills Stubby marched alongside them memorizing the various commands. He also learned the bugle calls that set the daily schedule and, in a move that further endeared him to everyone, Stubby learned to stand on his hind legs and raise his right paw in a salute that he would not break until answered. He trained, slept, ate, and relaxed with the men and before long Stubby was considered not just a friendly pup, but a fellow soldier.

As the days moved on and the situation overseas intensified the atmosphere at Yale became markedly more serious as the men began to accept that they were moving closer and closer to facing actual combat. Letters written by Conroy jokingly talk about his telling Stubby he would not be allowed to move on with him but that the dog simply “could not understand that”. When the men marched to a railway depot and boarded a train for Newport News in Virginia, Stubby was still by Conroy’s side and no one stopped their four-legged friend from boarding the train with them.

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After: Joseph R. Beyrle: His POW mug shot shows a justifiably angry young man. That anger would earn him a beating when he insulted a German officer who interrogated him. But it would also motivate him to attempt escape at every turn.

After: Joseph R. Beyrle: His POW mug shot shows a justifiably angry young man. That anger would earn him a beating when he insulted a German officer who interrogated him. But it would also motivate him to attempt escape at every turn.

“A Hero of Two Nations”

A Long and Arduous Odyssey through a World at War

As the twentieth century closed, the veterans of its defining war passed away at a rate of a thousand per day. This is the story of Joseph R. Beyrle. It is a story of battle, followed by a succession of captures, escapes, then battle, in the final months of fighting on the Eastern Front.

Twice before the invasion he parachuted into Normandy, bearing gold for the French resistance. D Day resulted in his capture, and he was mistaken for a German line-crosser – a soldier who had, in fact, died in the attempt.

Getting the nickname “Jumpin'” when you’re in the 101st Airborne’s “Screaming Eagles” division and everyone’s job is to jump out of planes has to be an achievement in itself. Not satisfied with that, Jumpin’ Joe Beyrle also went on to become the only American soldier to serve in both the U.S. Army and the Soviet Army in World War II … but not before having to go through hell and back. Just looking at his face before and after his ordeal should tell you the whole story

From his spot in the hayloft, American paratrooper Joe Beyrle watched as Russian soldiers cautiously advanced across the Polish fields and toward the farm where he was hiding. He saw the soldiers approach the adjacent farmhouse and summon the old German couple who lived there. The Russians gunned down the man and woman, then cut up their bodies and fed them to their pigs. Beyrle remained hidden. That night he heard the sound of arriving tanks, and dawn broke to reveal a Russian tank battalion.

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Baghdad Country Club

It takes Real Balls to Play here

 The Who’s Who of Baghdad’s Green Zone Ate Steak and Drank Fine Wine at a Bar that Billed It’self as “An Oasis of Calm.”

So, many Western visitors to Iraq in the past decade have thrown their heads back after a near-miss with a roadside bomb and thought, I need a drink right now. That was where the Baghdad Country Club came in.

“The management is happy to secure any firearms, grenades, flash bangs or knives in the club armory.”

Saturday night in Baghdad, and Heidi, the barmaid at the Baghdad Country Club, is worried about the beer. On a busy night, she might serve 800 cold ones to the diplomats, security guards, and construction workers who frequent the Country Club, a white cinder-block house with blue trim on a residential street in the Green Zone.

The BCC, as its known, gets its alcohol from suppliers outside the walls, but insurgents are targeting the crossings on either side of the Tigris River. On this Saturday, a truck bomb on a bridge has locked up traffic on the west bank of the Tigris, delaying the delivery of the night’s beer supply. Heidi, a recent college graduate from Florida, wonders whether the war will eventually collapse on the Green Zone, the way it did on the U.S. embassy in Saigon. But she doesn’t let that occupy her for long. Looking down at the empty glass in her hand, she smiles and says, “Let’s do a shot…

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