Family, History, Plain Speaking, Politics, Quote of the Day, War

“These Honored Dead”

So there I was, as I often am, chasing down some reference or other that has nothing to do with the point at hand, and I stumbled over the fact that it was only 160 years ago today, on November 19, 1863 (what a very young country this still is), that a President of the… Continue reading “These Honored Dead”

Continuity, Loss, Plain Speaking, War

The Best Way to Memorialize the Dead… to tell their stories. That's what I've tried to do, over the years with my family members, my friends, and many others I've lost over the years.  Some of them certainly didn't start out as natural allies.  But they all ended up beloved. And the only way I can insure that the world remembers… Continue reading The Best Way to Memorialize the Dead…

History, Literature, War

“Theirs But To Do and Die”

Some things never change. On 25th October 1854, during the Battle of Balaclava, 670 British soldiers under the command of Lord Cardigan, launched an ill-fated attack upon a well-defended Russian artillery battery and sustained 40 percent casualties in the form of approximately 120 killed, and at least 160 wounded. Fifty were taken prisoner. Also killed… Continue reading “Theirs But To Do and Die”

Animals, Britishness, Culture, History, Military, Pets and Livestock, War

The Lady With the–Cats?

If Florence Nightingale were still alive, she’d have been 203 years old in 2023. She was born on May 12th, 1820, just a few short months after Mad King George (of American Revolution fame) breathed his last. By the time she died, 113 years ago this week, on August 13, 1910, George V (the current… Continue reading The Lady With the–Cats?

History, Politics, Religion, War

The Knights Templar: To Your Name Give the Glory

Fewer than twenty miles from my old stomping grounds of Droitwich Spa, in the small Staffordshire village of Enville, a dedicated amateur researcher who's been on the case for more than three years has uncovered eight graves dating from the thirteenth century and believed to be those of members of the Knights Templar order. Enville's… Continue reading The Knights Templar: To Your Name Give the Glory

Family, History, War

“His Holiness Will Receive You in a Few Moments–I could Have Dropped Dead!”

Seventy-nine years ago today, on June 4, 1944, my father marched into Rome, his British Army regiment having been seconded alongside Mark Clark's Fifth Army. (What Dad had to say, from a personal standpoint, about General Mark Clark doesn't bear thinking about.) My mother always pooh-poohed the whole thing (not unusual for Mum to do… Continue reading “His Holiness Will Receive You in a Few Moments–I could Have Dropped Dead!”

Britishness, History, Military, War

Dam Busters +80

Eighty years ago, on May 16-17 1943, an elite group of airmen, mostly from the Royal Air Force, but also with contingents from Canada and Australia, took off in nineteen Lancaster bombers from the RAF station in Scampton, Lincolnshire.  Their mission was clear:  Destroy three dams in Germany’s Ruhr valley, thus taking out the hydroelectric… Continue reading Dam Busters +80

History, Military, War

Twenty Years Ago Today, on March 19, 2003…

...US President George W. Bush ordered air strikes on Baghdad, launching the war for "regime change," and for the ousting of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The war was premised on the the belief that Hussein was manufacturing and staging weapons of mass destruction to be used against his enemies.  Such a belief is now deemed… Continue reading Twenty Years Ago Today, on March 19, 2003…

Family, Family Matters, History, War

For Jenny Alice May Mapson (Auntie Betty): 2023

She was born in Birmingham on January 23, 1912, into an England that was rending itself apart. Suffragettes demanding a woman’s right to vote were chaining themselves to Parliament’s railings, smashing storefront windows in Oxford Street, and living-room windows in Downing Street. Newly-empowered Socialist labor unions were flexing their muscle, threatening strikes in coal mining,… Continue reading For Jenny Alice May Mapson (Auntie Betty): 2023