Tag Archives: war

Citadel Hill (Halifax): Military Uniforms / various eras and purposes

Citadel: Recruit fitted for uniform (black on black)
Citadel: Recruit fitted for uniform (black on black)
Citadel: Papers signed, life surrendered to whims of a government
Citadel: Papers signed, life surrendered to whims of a government

Continue reading Citadel Hill (Halifax): Military Uniforms / various eras and purposes

Slice of Guam / Micronesia / German history from WW1

Super interesting video by the (excellent) series The Great War about the Germans in Micronesia in WW1.

In brief: The Germans “colonized” Palau (and Pohnpei i believe) during the pre-war period, but when the Japanese took over their holdings, their ships were stuck without ability to re-provision,. As such, ended up in Guam (held by the then-neutral US who’d “acquired” the island during the then-recent Spanish-American war (along with Philippines and Puerto Rico)).

For a period, the US, Germans and Chamorros lived together without much incident, but when the US entered the war, the warship Cormoran was told to surrender but instead, was scuttled. The hulk now lays in Apra harbour, with the Tokai Maru (Japanese naval vessel sunk by US sub in WW2) alongside, together making a popular dive site.

{I lived on Guam and travelled to Palau, Yap etc. in early 1990s and was well familiar with WW2 history and this wreck but didn’t know the details of the back story.}

Also (from comment elsewhere):

Keep in mind, i have big heart for the Micronesian people pulled into wars with NOTHING to do with them and their interests. (Spent extended time in Guam, Saipan, Palau (my fave place on earth) and Yap.

IMO The only way to (possibly) prevent future catastrophes is to learn the fck-ups of hubris and vagaries of colonialism to then intelligently articulate the rights of peaceful people.

Note that Guam was dragged into another few erstwhile global conflict chapters of late – ergo: repopulation of bases (many of which were repatriated to locals control in mid-1990s) after US Military bad-actors repeated fcked up in Okinawa predicating mass migration of troops due to local pressure/protest, plus the sabre rattling by DPRK with threats of bombs at Andersen AFB (which i passed through almost daily for 18 months to a landlocked beach – no longer possible to do). Also worth noting: each day thousands of ROK holidaymakers come to the island so the threat wasn’t just to US interests, but also to intimidate other Koreans.

In all of the this, the locals (especially indigenous Chamorros – who vote for a US congress-rep but who is not able to vote in US congress) are further marginalized. The “spin” is it creates jobs and increases “aid” to the island.

Remembrance Day with Vasco’s Bones – Postcard #63

Remembrance Day with Vasco's Bones

From an olden church and (otherwise vacant) cenotaph at Fort Cochin, Kerala, India, Dave O – acknowledging an extended medical and death related hiatus – discusses the local history of colonization by Portuguese explorers, Dutch traders, then British Raj in the context of the colonization leading to exploitation, conscription and war with no meaning to local populace. Plus the meaning of reparations and the conflict of peaceful resistance – evidenced my Mahatma Gandhi beach a stone’s throw away – contrasted with continued wars throughout the world, shadowed by disposable tourism, economic and racial caste systems.

Recorded Nov. 11, 2016, Released 11:11 Nov. 11, 2017

Gather Round for Remembrance Day with Vasco’s Bones – Postcard #63  (37:11, .mp3, 192k, 58MB, stereo)

Also of note: Vasco da Gama’s bones, black knee-high socks, French generational losses, siege of Leningrad, Churchill’s mishaps, lost human potential of engineers, poets and lovers, MacArthur’s folly, Australia’s vulnerability, the emergence of regions over nation-states, Brexit for British Columbia + Cascadia, Catalonia and Scottish successions, work of raising a child, trappings of hubris, death by disease and guns, aggressive use of intelligence, forethought and diplomacy, and unfiltered view of sacrifice and life.

Cover art photo: By Dave Olson at Fort Cochin, taken by Lomo Sardine can camera with expired B&W film.

Remembrance Day Peace Ramble in Cochin, Kerala, India

At 11:11, 11/11, in Cochin, India, Dave – wearing a handmade poppy on Mahatma Gandhi beach by Chinese fishing nets – riffs about sacrifices of soldiers, sailors, flyers, resistance fighters, parents. Plus discusses the importance of avoiding jingoism which leads to war and death and name-checks Henry David Thoreau, condemns greed, and encourages peace and diplomacy and compassion.

Roll your own Remembering 11/11/11:11

For the fallen, the resisters, the hurt and even the vanquished. #RemembranceDay #Poppy #NoMoreWar

Rabbit Holes of History: Norsemen, Dark Ages, Great War, War in Pacific etc.

*** Study Notes from Rabbit Holes including Norsemen, Dark Ages, Great War, and War in Pacific etc ***

Over the past while, whilst dealing with this illness, I’ve gone down deep into “rabbit holes” about various segments of history.

Went deep into Norse history from early viking expeditions to Orkneys and Hebredies in search of (literally) greener pastures, to invasions of Northumbria, East Anglia, Mercia, Francia and expeditions to Russia including trading with Middle East – Also their steel forging skills – All through to the Norman invasion with William the Conquero. Then Viking voyages to North Atlantic away from Europe and to North America. Also learned about new satellite archaeology techniques used for finding settlement sites in eastern Canada. There will be remarkable discoveries in the next decade which will rewrite books.

Then went deep into “dark” ages to the founding of what is now modern western Europe – roughly from post-Roman to Charlemange. I was specifically interested in how a culture grows up around the ruins of a much greater culture. Like you’re a dirt farmer in what is now England and you look around at lovely aqueduct and empty baths while you try to figure out how to get clean water. Makes me wonder if we’re living in a “dark ages” or we’re the Romans.

Then deep into the “Great war” and the unrest and revolutions which happened in the aftermath which broke down monarchies and gave rise to nationstates… But also produced situations which led to what we now call World War II through rise of fascism, totalitarianism, communism and showed the falls of capitalism through the depression. Each of these flavors contributed in away to the events that transpired. (Also Hitler’s home movies and i’ve already absorbed everything about art theft during this era).

Then deep into the relationship between Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchhill and Josef Stalin and how they had to jockey amongst themselves to convince the others of the importance of their different priorities… Also deep into the north African campaigns through the desert – especially the desert expeditionary unit (mostly New Zealanders) who lived for months at a time in uncharted areas in difficult conditions to gather intelligence. They did receive a rum ration though.

And also I am continually unpacking my knowledge of the war in the Pacific… Most recently started with “Fall of Japan” a massive tome which chronicles – in great nuanced detail – the events in Japan from the day after Nagasaki bombing to the signing on Missouri (Aug. 6-30 1945).

As you might expect, lots of efforts to raid the palace, people convinced the emperor was a body double or coerced, dozens of ritual suicide by high-ranking officials, people going into hiding, renegade bands of soldiers holding tough, and back channel diplomacy actions trying to smooth things over for an inevitable fate. Including all the secret communication machinations used to finally get messages back-and-forth between the right people to effectuate the surrender and peace and landing etc.

Then watched film called Emperor – this began as MacArthur and his crew were landing at Atsugi after the signing and follows the story of a General Bonner Fellows who was tasked with determining whether Emperor Hirohito would be held to trial or not. Of course he had to wrangle between Tojo (who just had tried to kill himself but was “saved” in time to be tried and executed, and Kanabe (?), the previous prime minister, and all the militarists and hard core zealots who insisted on vague answers and didn’t understand that really they didn’t *really* want to try Hito but they needed an legitimate excuse not to do so.

Also Tommy Lee Jones as MacArthur wasn’t too bad actually, and they dramatized the famous meeting between the Emperor and The Supreme Commander with only one dedicated translator between them. And they re-created the famous photograph.

Then, I’m onto a book called “Supreme Commander: MacArthur’s Triumph in Japan” which doubles back over the previous bit and starts with the planning of the signature ceremony on the USS Missouri and into his landing at Atsugi and motorcade (with thousands of Japanese soldiers turning their backs in respect) and starting to issue his edicts to manage the situation and deal with a starving population.

Still working on this one.

A few notes include (from a civilian peacenik perspective):

The rivalry between Army and Navy is far more vast than I realized. We civilians think of the Armed Forces as fairly unified and not completely discrete, or/and even rival, units. Of course this is most evident in the rivalry between MacArthur and Nimitz but also amongst the rank and file – especially jr officers seeking to climb the ladder.

The Tokyo firebombings must’ve been even more miserable way to go then the Atomic bombs further south. Both suck. Also glad Eleanor Roosevelt pushed so hard to spare Kyoto from the bombs.

The Russians joining the war against Japan the day after Nagasaki and still expecting a seat at the negotiation table so to speak. Funny Russians.

The Chinese Reds filling the power vacuum left by Chinese army instantly after the bombs – even while the news was still travelling to POW camps around Asia. The commandants of the camps did not know quite what to think when Allied forces started parachuting in to demand release.

The two-men chosen by Japan to sign the surrender document: the diplomat with the wooden leg who had to get from the US Destroyer to a launch via a bosun’s chair, and then try to maintain dignity wall climbing up a ladder on the side of the Missouri while wearing a cutaway coat and a top hat.

MacArthur’s choice of guests to be on board at the signing was very specific and included the Canadian doctor (who signed on Canada’s behalf) who had done the surgery on the affirmation Japanese diplomat’s leg.

He also made sure to invite a bunch of generals who got their ass kicked in the war including the poor bastard who was left on the Philippines (Wainwright whom MacArthur greeted with a “Hey Skinny!”) when MacArther split to Australia, plus the British general who had to surrender Singapore when they were caught unaware.

As per above: Didn’t realize MacArthur had fcked up and ignored orders after Pearl Harbor. Stationed in the Philippines, he didntorder a full alert and, as a result, the Philippines was destroyed quickly by the Japanese who were well ready for the invasion.

MacArthur’s move of exiting the plane with no weapons was a powerful move. Oh also, MacArthur had Admiral Perry’s US flag expedited from the Smithsonian to have on display on the Missouri. Nice nuanced touch which was noted by the Japanese who, after the ceremony, discussed amongst themselves they would have treated their vanquished enemy so kindly and respectfully. They concurred that they would not have and that convinced them to cooperate with the victorious allies.

I’m interested to continue on with this work and to see how MacArthurs “Republican” views were instrumental in outline things like brewing and hemp production in Japan.

Vimy Ridge Diaries on Remembrance Day – Postcard #61

Vimy Rdge Diaires

On Remembrance Day in sunny, brisk Vancouver, Ian Bell (fresh from a CBC appearance “On The Coast“) joins Dave to read from Grandpa Mark’s diaries written in the trenches in WW1 as a young Canadian. From the library steps with a flask of scotch, they reflect on the costs and motivations of war, importance of friendship and the ethereal experience of going “over the top” and facing the terror on the other side, plus anecdotes about capturing Germans soldiers and discourse on the importance of personal documentation to pass forward to generations.

Sit awhile for: Vimy Ridge Diaries on Remembrance Day – Postcard #61 (38:00, 32MB, 128k mp3)

Continue reading Vimy Ridge Diaries on Remembrance Day – Postcard #61

Invasion of Peleliu (AMPHIBIOUS ASSAULT IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC – 1944)

Invasion of Peleliu

Meandering Past Monuments of Remembrance – Postcards #49

Pod cover - Postcards from Gravelly Beach - Meandering Past Monuments

Wrapping up the White Poppies for Remembrance series with a narrative late-night wander through Westminster, London, DaveO meanders past military monuments, victory squares, cenotaphs, palaces, royal parks, war museum, war chambers, riot fences, war protesters, churches, parliament and finishing at St. James park for a sitdown under a weeping willow to consider monarchy, individual rights and responsibilities, and the role of class division in waging war as London’s sirens, trains, and Big Ben fill the night.

Care for a stroll? Meandering Past Monuments of Remembrance – Postcards #49 (192k mp3, 34:19, 28MB)

Continue reading Meandering Past Monuments of Remembrance – Postcards #49

Peace to Soldiers and Strangers – Postcard #48

Pod cover - Postcards from Gravelly Beach - Peace to Soldiers and strangers

Back home on the North Vancouver porch, Dave reads from Clay Mcleod’s essay Why I Don’t Wear a Poppy while sending peace and resistance towards the decent lieutenant Magnum in Iraq and the Philippines along with earnest comrades at arms and peaceful strangers in war torn lands. Plus he admonishes the Canadian Legion for blocking the sale of white poppies while banjo-ist Wm. Lenker sings from the woodshed and The Grateful Dead leave this Brokedown Palace… on my hands and my knees, I will roll roll roll…

Sit for a spell with Peace to Soldiers and Strangers – Postcard #48 (.mp3, 16:58, 13MB)

Continue reading Peace to Soldiers and Strangers – Postcard #48