New British Battleships – 1942 – HMS Anson and Howe

I ended up by accident looking at an old Pathe News clip today – the one where HMS Howe had completed her time in the graving dock and was being made ready for sea. The news report showed the final stages of preparation and the workers leaving the vessel, the provisioning of the ship and the HMS Howe sailing down to then under the Forth bridge.  Some great shots of her at sea and firing her 14″ broadside.

Well worth looking at for a blast from the past, not to mention the 1940s newsreader English, “the ship was got ready”.

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USAAF Spitfires in World War 2

In one of those usual oddities of Google and the Internet, I was hunting for some information the other day on Soviet World War 2 aircraft camouflage and, as you do at a time like that, came across a reference to the USAAF flying Spitfires in World War 2. “Tally ho”, I thought,  “here’s an oddity to look further into”.

Look into it I did.

Well, not only did the USAAF flying some Spitfires but the US Navy also managed one squadron. There were four groups in the USAAF flying Spitfires for a time, initially out of England and then in the Mediterranean. They were:

United States Army Air Forces

4th Fighter Group

  • 334th Fighter Squadron
  • 335th Fighter Squadron
  • 336th Fighter Squadron

7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group

  • 13th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron
  • 14th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron

31st Fighter Group

  • 2d Fighter Squadron
  • 4th Fighter Squadron
  • 5th Fighter Squadron

52d Fighter Group

  • 307th Fighter Squadron
  • 308th Fighter Squadron
  • 309th Fighter Squadron

United States Navy

Supermarine_Spitfire_Mk.Vc_USAAFI’ll freely admit that this was news to me. I had always associated the USAAF pursuit (fighter) groups with P-40s, P-47s, P-38s and P-51s, never with the Spitfire.

The 4th Fighter Group was fairly typical, It was constituted and activated in 1942, Activation was in England and the core of the Fighter Group were formers members of the RAF Eagle Squadrons. They commenced operations with Spitfires but moved across to P-47s in March of 1943 and P-51s in April 1944. 

Of course, the US Army Air Force was not the only non-Commonwealth country operating Spitfires in World War 2. I mentioned 1942 above. In 1942 Spitfires were being sent to the Soviet Union to assist that war effort. I can see I will need to add some to my Soviet mid World War 2 army. The picture below is of a line of Spitfires, camouflaged and marked with a red star ready for export to the Soviet Union.

USSR_Vb_1942

Battle of Malplaquet

Battle_of_Malplaquet,_1709Just when I was settling into decisions for next years projects it occurred to me that today, 11 September 2013 is the 304th anniversary of the Pyrrhic victory at the Battle of Malplaquet fought between England, Austria, Prussia and the Low Countries on one side and France and Bavaria on the other. It was a battle that was famous for the commanders, John Churchill of the English (the Duke of Marlborough) and Prince Eugene of Savoy on the one side and Claude de Villars and Louis Boufflers on the other. Overall there were 86,000 in the armies of the Grand Alliance with 100 guns and and 75,000 and 80 guns on Bourbon side.

The Army of the Grand Alliance found itself at Malplaquet near the modern Belgian/French border. In the morning of 11 September 1709 at 9.00am the Austrians attacked with the support of Prussian and Danish troops. These were commanded by Count Albrecht Konrad Finck von Finckenstein. They pushed back the French left wing into the forest behind them. On the French right wing the Dutch under the command of the Prince of Orange, John William Friso, attacked to distract the French and prevent them from coming to Villars’ aid.

Later a decisive final attack was made on the weakened French centre by British infantry under the command of the Earl of Orkney. This attack occupied the the French redans. Allied cavalry was then able to advance through this line and engage the French cavalry behind. By this stage, de Villars was off the field having been wounded earlier so Boufflers was in command. Boufflers was leading the Maison du Roi and six times drive the Allied cavalry back before finally deciding the battle was lost and surrendering the field.

The victory for the Grand Alliance had come at some cost however with 21,000 casualties from within the alliance compared to 11,000 casualties on the French and Bavarian side.

Now I am torn again between the War of Spanish Succession and the Great Northern War. Of course, I could just do this as Imagi-nations. Oh yes, and I am still planning something with the Thirty Years War.

Ten Things I learned in the UK

20120426-171650.jpg

Friends Douglas and Gillian decided to get married – the decision, like all good decisions, was contemplated and made jointly and the result was an April wedding in Dundee, Scotland. Right says Thomo (you’ll remember my full handle is Thomo the Lost which never augurs well for long distance travel), I think we should go to Scotland for the wedding. It’ll do us good as we’ve not had a wee holiday for some time (OK, so I didn’t say “wee” but I could have).

A quick bit of planning, reference to 18 airlines online booking pages on their websites (sorry KLM – your booking page caused me problems, sorry Qantas, you are just too expensive and sorry Qatar, yours was the most appealing but your return flight meant I would have missed Salute) and we were ready to go via Etihad Airlines.

The plan was to fly into London Heathrow (not my airport of choice but the only one I had at this stage), rent a car and drive on up to Dundee via Carlisle and Edinburgh. Credit cards were flashed, money changed hands and we were off.

The 10 things I learned?

  1. Heathrow sucks. Sorry, you might be holding Olympics in a couple of months time but you really cannot organise things. They are so used to queuing that they think this is a normal state of affairs. We queued for over 90 minutes (this is not an exaggeration and judging from what the nice immigration lady said, this is quite normal). It took 90 minutes to reach the immigration officer. Lesson – fly into Schipol in the Netherlands then arrive in London through Stanstead. Or fly into Birmingham, Manchester, anywhere but Heathrow!
  2. If you already own a GPS, pay the upgrade for the Western European maps and use it. In our case, the cost was AU $99 and we had to bring it from Australia. we could have “rented” one in England for AU $20 a day. As we were travelling by car for 11 days, the arithmetic there is pretty straightforward.
  3. The English generally are quite nice, especially up north. That is, they are quite nice until you meet the Scots then the English seem a bit miserable. The Scots really are suh a warm, open and friendly group – well, except for the buggers driving around Edinburgh.
  4. Single Malt whisky does not keep the cold out … but my goodness you feel great about being cold.
  5. Scotsmen can’t drink – neither can South Africans. Surprisingly, the last two men standing at the wedding were the two Aussies (and the groom it must be said but we were still leading 2:1)
  6. When you are driving, you really get an idea of exactly how small England and Scotland are, especially when you have an Australian view of things. We would think nothing back in Oz of driving 500 kms in a day and will, at a pinch, do 1,000. Try that in the UK and you run out of island very quickly..
  7. The Scots missed the boat when they didn’t invent pockets. The kilt is fine and warm but my hands were cold. Trying to put them in your sporran just doesn’t work. Build me a kilt with pockets and I’ll be a happy bloke.
  8. Did I mention Heathrow sucks? When you’re busy with your creams and such in your plastic bag prior to the security check, you may sometimes not hear the words “take iPads out of bag”. Not sure why you have to do that – it’s a freaking x-ray after all – I suspect that most security checks have no real idea what they are looking for and it is all for show.Anyway, be that as it may, you forget to take your iPad out and your bag goes through the x-ray. Anywhere else in the world, the security staff frown at you, you take the iPad out and the bag and iPad are immediately x-rayed again and you are on your way with no real delay to other passengers. Did I mention the English love to queue? At Heathrow, your bag is put aside with the bags of other similar security miscreants and it remains until a security officer can come along and test the bag for explosives, search the bag and then (wait for it), put the bag and the iPad in a different coloured tray and pass it through the x-ray again. This whole process adds a further 20 minutes to the user security experience.
  9. The English love to complain about the hotel room they booked on the Costa del English Tourist on the Mediterranean being in a building site. I am pleased to inform you that the practice is alive and well in the UK. The Holiday Inn in Wimbledon South (sorry Kas, we ran our of time) was a building site. The taxi driver drove three times past it before we noticed the name behind the hoardings. Waking in the morning to see a big burly workman staring in your window is always a pleasure as well. Room service breakfast was to move to part of the building site, grab your sausage and powdered egg and take it back to your room to eat. All this luxury for GBP 80 per night.
  10. I learned what a Scotsman wears under his kilt.

Having noted all that, at the end of the trip both of us are hoping for Scottish Independence. We also know that we will return to the Highlands, especially to the area around Spearn Bridge. We will also return to the lovely pub in the Lowlands at St Boswells – the Buccleuch Arms Hotel, a lovely spot to spend a night or two.

Oh, and one other useful hint for weary travellers … the left luggage operations in the London mainline stations are a godsend.

More Upcoming Pieces

I did another review of the search results for Thomo’s Hole again and some interesting ones turned up this time too. So, apart from the 19th Century naval engagements mentioned in a previous post, the search results for the last two days have revealed searches on the following terms:

Term Searches Results
HMS Devastation 2 1
American Civil War 1 12
Battle of Sluys 1 0
empire seraph 1 0
hms seraph 1 0
kazakhstan 1 11
Naval battle during the Siege of Fort Zeelandia 1 0
norwegian cuisine 1 6
pre dreadnoughts 1 4
tugboats 1 0

Now, I can say that the search on Kazakhstan was me – but all the rest are from readers. So, things people were looking for but which are missing – more naval items I see such as the Battle of Sluys (was that you Doyle?), empire and HMS Seraph (there is no ship called empire Seraph that I know of but two HMSs Seraph, one an S-class submarine and the other an S-class destroyer).

Tugboats is too general a term for a piece here in the future, unless I come across and relate the tales of some of the more famous tugs (and I’ll freely admit that I will have to chase those down as I know of none off the top of my head).

Lastly, there was the search for the Naval battle during the Siege of Fort Zeelandia. Now that seems like an interesting one as well and again, I think I will have something done for this in the not too distant future as well. Fort Zeelandia was in Formosa (modern Taiwan) and a Dutch outpost. This seems rather an interesting piece of research so standby for this in the future as well.

Photo Galleries and Articles – an Index

I’ve included this post as an archived post so that when folks are searching for something in Thomo’s Hole and that something is in a gallery or on a page (rather than on a post) they have a chance of finding it. So, below are links to various areas of the site. And yes – this is a shortcoming of using a blog as the basis for the home page – I really need to organise better 😉 Gallery (and Albums) through Thomo’s Hole

  • Main Gallery Page
    • Mongolia Album – images from around Mongolia, both in Ulaanbaatar and the countryside
    • Museum Photos
      • Korean War Memorial Museum – Photos of Korean armour (armor) and Korean weapons, Ancient History exhibits, Korean War exhibits and material from the time of the Righteous Army and the Japanese assuming control of Korea. The museum is in Seoul (just up from Samgakchi Subway Station). The museum is full of displays of interest to military historians and wargamers in particular, covering the periods from ancient times to the Korean War in particular.
        • Koryo Dynasty – Photos of displays from the museum of Korean soldiers around the Koryo Dynasty (918 AD to 1392 AD)
        • Three Kingdoms Dynasty (Sam Guk Si Dae) – The Three Kingdoms period of Korean history – 37 BC to 668 AD – the kingdoms of Silla, Paekche and Koguryo – and the small group known as Kaya – not big enough to be a kingdom but an available ally never-the-less.
        • Chosun Period – Chosun Dynasty Korean – 1392 AD to 1910 AD – Arms and armour from the Chosun Dynasty of Korean history.
        • Korea in the Late 19th Century – The Daehan Army – Korea in late 19th Century – 1885 to 1907.
        • Admiral Yi’s Turtle Ship – Well, not the real one but rather a half scale model as well as neat painting of Yi SunShin at Hansan-do.
        • Korean Army Standards – particularly useful for wargamers, some neat standards from Korean History.
      • Royal Thai Air Force Museum – This museum is in Bangkok, Thailand, near Don Muang airport. It has many important exhibits including Boritapatra, Curtiss Hawk 75N and others – well worth the visit.
      • Palace Museum – Taipei, Taiwan. When the Chinese Civil War stopped on the mainland and the Nationalists fled to Taiwan, they fled with the best of the museum exhibits as well. I am slowly adding to this gallery.
    • Oddball Stuff – A miscellany of odd signs in English (abuse and misuse of the language) as well as just plain strange sites.
    • Wargames and Eye Candy – Pictures of all my wargaming related stuff is included under here including some how-to guides, as well as general wargaming eye candy from the ancient, fantasy, medieval and naval areas in particular
    • Places Visited – These are pictures of places I have been to that I found somewhere particularly nice or interesting to photograph. At the time of creating this album I had been to over 50 countries. This album is everywhere except Mongolia.

Static Pages throughout Thomo’s Hole are listed here now as well as basic keywords.

Really, I must get around to getting a better search tool for Thomo’s Hole.

Note that I updated the links on this page to reflect new pages, corrections and the like on 23 February 2009