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Winston Churchill and Islam

It gets tiresome to hear the rationalizations and political correctness that gushes forth every time a radical Islamist terrorist blows people up; most recently tween girls in Manchester, Great Britain.

The authorities knew immediately “who done it” and yet it was only minutes before other authorities voiced their disapproval lest anyone connect the terror with Moslems who we all know, “are not all that way.”

The west is under a vast cloud of delusion as it asks every time a terror attack happens, who would do such a thing or how can this happen as if it is some great mystery as to what motivates radical Islam. Newsflash: Radical Islam is self-motivating and these people believe what they say and do. Call them a minority if you wish but this minority will not stop until they are all dead.

The parsing  between radical Islam and moderate Islam has to stop. Anyone with any degree of common sense knows that not all Moslems approve of terror but even if 10% of the whole do we have a significant problem on our hands.

One commentator noted that radical Islam is what it always has been and he is absolutely historically correct. Consider what Winston Churchill wrote in The River War (first edition) which dealt with the reconquest of the Sudan in 1898 by British, Egyptian and Sudanese forces:

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.

Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities thousands have become brave and loyal soldiers of the queen: all know how to die: but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science – the science against which it had vainly struggled – the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.[2]


Winston Churchill was attached to the 21st Lancers at The Battle of Omdurman in 1898. Churchill was a prolific writer and in my opinion a keen observer.

The blog (link below) from which I took the quote points out that Churchill did not mean to indict all of Islam but only the Mahdist Dervishes of the period. This can be seen from the quote itself that many Moslems were “soldiers of the Queen.” Indeed, the bulk of the forces that did reconquer the Sudan were Egyptian and Sudanese Moslems rather than British.

The Sudan in 1881 was part of an Egyptian administration who in turn were technically part of the Turkish (also Moslem) Ottoman Empire. When the Mahdi (who called himself a Prophet) declared war on Egypt he was in fact declaring war on fellow Moslems who he believed were sell outs to the west or worse in his mind slaves to the hated Ottoman Turks. The same kind of attitude can be seen in ISIS who reject any version of Islam that does not line up with their own radical version.

For almost 20 years the Mahdists controlled the Sudan and set up a kind of caliphate that endured until 1898 and The Battle of Omdurman. As we all know ISIS desires a caliphate which is what the war in Iraq and Syria is all about. (I do understand that the situation in Syria is more complicated than that but ISIS is the common denominator that has brought a coalition there to fight it.)

The author of the blog to which I referred above is right to point out it is dangerous to take a quote out of context and make too much of it.

On the other hand Churchill’s comments seem to have a high degree of accuracy if they refer to Islam in general as well as the most radical elements of it. One has only to look at the status of women in every Moslem country (the so-called moderates) to see that Islam in general is a strong retrograde force as Churchill put it. Islam sees the west as decadent and has no concept of the liberties we take for granted and at times do lead to decadence. Such is the price of liberty versus the slavery of Sharia.

Churchill also noted that Islam in general is a militant and proselytizing faith something that seems rather obvious in radical Islam’s war on the west (as well as on those they believe are less pure Moslems).

In my opinion Churchill was not so much a prophet as he was a realist based on his observations. What continues to amaze me is that many in the west today continue to rationalize or make excuses for the terror and seem to be saying we have to put up with it no matter how many little girls are blown to pieces.

We seem paralyzed by political correctness and a basic inability to see clearly that radical Islam is what it always has been and that it springs from Islam in general-an Islam that in general speaks out against the radicals very little.

Warren Dockter Blog (I took Churchill’s quote from this blog which Professor Dockter wrote in 2014.)

The Battle of Omdurman: The Last Cavalry Charge (The charge was actually a blunder as the British commander did not realize that hundreds of tribesmen were hidden in a gully.)

The War on Terror is a War of Ideas (Something I wrote years back.)

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Life Magazine ANZAC Cover, Feb. 1941

The oldest wartime Life Magazine I have in my small collection is from February, 1941. That’s at least 10 months before the US entered WW2 and so the articles in Life that deal with the war do not have the American focus they would a year later.

In this particular issue (February, 24, 1941) the feature article is titled, The Shadow of Adolf Hitler and His Armies Falls Across the Balkans. After the Nazi’s conquered Poland, France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark and Norway (and failed to invade England) Hitler made ready for the invasion of Soviet Russia which eventually would take place in June 1941.

Hitler’s ally, Benito Mussolini had conquest ideas of his own and Axis Italian armies had been fighting the British (and Commonwealth forces) in North Africa for some time. Mussolini had also invaded Greece and had been defeated by the tough Greeks.

The Italians were in trouble in North Africa where British and Commonwealth troops inflicted a horrendous defeat on them in Libya.

Before the Nazi’s could invade Soviet Russia they had to secure their Balkan flank to prevent the British from totally defeating the Italians and establishing another viable front agains them.


The map takes some getting used to because to our eyes it’s upside down. Life Magazine wanted to give the perspective of how it would look from the point of view of Adolf Hitler and his generals. The emphasis on the strategic resource of oil is obvious. Axis ambitions in North Africa were crushed at the Battle of El Alamein in 1942 and at Stalingrad late in 1942 but in February 1941 issues were still very much in doubt.

The British were quite aware of the possibilities and wanted to do what little they could to help the Greeks. The resources of Britain and the Commonwealth countries were already stretched thin by multiple commitments around the world. Not only that they were for the most part under equipped  having lost much in the Battle for France in May, 1940.  Nevertheless, Britain  sent an expeditionary force to Greece that was made up of British, Australian and New Zealand troops. The Australians and New Zealanders were known as Anzacs. The acronym ANZAC stands for Australian-New Zealand-Army Corps.


The New Zealanders and Australians wore a similar slouch type hat. The Aussies tended to turn one side up while the New Zealanders tended to wear theirs as shown.

The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) was a First World War army corps of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. It was formed in Egypt in December 1914, and operated during the Battle of Gallipoli. General William Birdwood commanded the corps, which comprised troops from the First Australian Imperial Force and 1st New Zealand Expeditionary Force. The corps disbanded in 1916, following the Allied evacuation of the Gallipoli peninsula and the formation of I ANZAC Corps and II ANZAC Corps. The Corps was reestablished, briefly, in the Second World War during the Battle of Greece in 1942. Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Note: The Battle for Greece was in 1941.)

The cover of the February 24th, 1941 edition features a photograph of New Zealand soldiers in North Africa after they participated in the victory over the Italians. Life’s explanation of the cover is interesting:

The big, easy-moving men on the cover are from the islands of New Zealand, 10,000 miles from where they are now fighting in the deserts of Libya. The Australians’ and the New Zealanders’ initials supply the first three letters of the famed name Anzac. These insubordinate, hard-fighting, independent men bear a marked resemblance to Texans and have a reputation as soldiers fully as brilliant. The Anzacs, though they are not at the peak of training, have been the shock troops of the British advance into Libya which beclouds Adolf Hitler’s outlook to the south. (Life, Feb.24, 1941, p. 21)

I’m speculating a little here but perhaps the comparison with Texans has some thing to do with the reputation of the Texas Brigade that fought in Lee’s Army (ANV) during the American Civil War and Texas Rangers law enforcement agency as well as American fascination (at the time) with Old West history.  The slouch hats worn by the Australians and New Zealanders perhaps sparked an old west connection to the editor. Whatever the case the Anzacs certainly had a reputation as insubordinate (by British standards) and for hard-fighting.


I said I’m guessing about the connection but the slouch hats are clear enough in this picture of the Frontier Battalion of the Texas Rangers in 1880.

The Greece Campaign would prove to be a disaster for the British and Commonwealth troops sent there and after hard fighting in Greece and Crete the troops that were not forced into surrender were sent back to North Africa to regroup and re-deploy. The Corps was disbanded although the New Zealanders (2nd NZ ID) and the Australians (7th and 9th AU IDs) would continue to fight on in the desert war as part of the famed Eighth Army or Desert Rats as they eventually became known.

Eventually, the Australian Divisions would be withdrawn to defend Australia against the Japanese. They would fight in the brutal New Guinea Campaign (with American units) and in Borneo as well as other Pacific locations. Wherever they fought their reputation for being tough fighters remained intact.

The New Zealand Division, no less tough, stayed on in the desert until the Axis surrender there in May, 1943. It was then reorganized and rebuilt after suffering many casualties into sort of a hybrid division that contained strong infantry and armored components. The New Zealander Division became part of the Allied effort in Italy. There it fought in numerous battles including Monte Cassino. It ended the war in Northern Italy in May, 1945.


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U-boats, the Zimmermann Telegram and the US Entry into the War

Excellent, detailed explanation as to how and why the US entered WW1. I highly recommend Martin’s blog.


Source: U-boats, the Zimmermann Telegram and the US Entry into the War


Life Magazine: Aftermath in North Africa, June, 1943

The Axis forces in Tunisia,  North Africa finally surrendered on May 12th, 1943 after more than 3 years of fighting.

A month after the surrender Life Magazine (June 14th, 1943 issue) did a photo spread on the aftermath. Below I captured some of the photos from that spread that feature some of the war hardware that was captured or destroyed.

It is appropriate to start with the picture below.


The Cost: Life Magazine seemed to be conscious of the true cost of war by showing American casualties (and sometimes others)  as well as the graves of the fallen. The US commitment to the North Africa Campaign began in November, 1942. According to US Army stats recorded in the story American casualties in the next 7 months totaled, 2,184 killed, 9,437 wounded and 6,937 missing for a total of 18, 558. Total Allied casualties were 70,000 in the same time period.


According to the caption two destroyed German tanks are visible. The one on the left is a Panzer IV. The “pile” on the far right is reportedly a Panzer VI, the famous Tiger tank. The explosion that destroyed it must have been massive. The utility vehicle on the right, above the destroyed Tiger tank appears to be an American Dodge 3\4 ton.


According to the caption the field guns in the foreground are German 105mm and in the background various anti-tank guns. After the Vichy French gave up in late 1942 after the Torch landings they joined the Allied side (with their Free French comrades). They were poorly equipped however and these German artillery pieces would be turned over to them.


More captured German motor transport to be turned over to the French. The caption mentions “eight-wheeled tank destroyers” as part of the booty but I think they mean eight-wheeled armored cars (none pictured).


By May, 1943 the Allies had air superiority and the Germans were forced to include more light AA in their organizations. Pictured here is a towed quad 20mm on the right and a towed 37mm in the foreground. At times light AA guns like these were employed in an anti-personnel role.


German small arms. The pile of light machine guns are probably the famous MG-34s.


If memory serves me I believe the Allies captured around 250,000 Axis troops (Italians and Germans) including members of the famous Africa Corps. In this picture Germans are being lined up to be fed and receive water. The original caption reported that that Germans were lightly guarded and for the most part were philosophical about their capture. My guess is that by May, 1943 most German soldiers realized it was just a matter of time before their ultimate and inevitable defeat. Most of them would end up in POW camps in Canada or the US and many in my home State of Wisconsin.

As a postscript to the above picture about 6 weeks ago on a visit to my doctor I spied an elderly couple entering another office. What caught my eye was the gentlemen’s clothing. He had on a tannish winter coat and on the left shoulder was a shield type patch in modern German flag colors. Emblazoned on the patch were the letters D.A. K. clearly standing for Deutsches  Afrika Korps. I could not speak to him but have wondered if the man was a veteran (he was quite old). I’ve read where captured German POWS returned to Wisconsin after the war. Who knows?


The Cost

I recently found a treasure trove of WW2 Life Magazines as well as a number of pre-war magazines for a marginal cost.

The issue below caught my eye because it is dated July 19th, 1944 thirteen days after the Normandy Invasion which took place on June 6th, 1944.

Life Magazines in the war years are fascinating to me not only for the excellent reporting from the various fronts US and Allied troops were engaged in but also for the advertising, some of which I’ve highlighted in this blog.

In this case I wanted to highlight The Cost of the invasion as recorded by Life Magazine The captions will explain what is going on.



One of the iconic images of the Normandy Invasion taken by Life photographers.


The original caption identifies the ship as a Coast Guard LCT (Landing Craft Tank). After the LCT dropped off the tanks on the beach it was used to evacuate casualties. Here a Coast Guard medical officer is giving a wounded GI a blood transfusion as the LCT heads for the hospital ship offshore.


For these GIs medical treatment on the hospital ship did not save their lives. The dead have been wrapped in white bags and according to the original caption will be shipped to England where they will be buried. The text of the article indicates that at this point (June 19th) the total casualty rate is unknown but higher than expected.


The UK’s Express tells the story of how Eisenhower (and Winston Churchill) were tormented by the expected casualty rate and the risk of failure. From what I’ve read Eisenhower grieved over the course of the rest of his life as he shouldered the responsibility of sending Americans and other Allied troops to their deaths as their supreme commander. I think this cover photo captures the seriousness of Eisenhower and the heavy load of responsibilty he bore.

The total casualties for all the forces involved in the Normandy Invasion can be found at The Dday Museum in the UK. Current research tells us that the US 1st and 29th Infantry Divisions suffered over 2,000 casualties on Omaha Beach. The opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan gives us some idea of that bloodbath.

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The Ghost Mountain Boys_Book Review

There is a roadside monument in my area dedicated to the 32nd US Infantry Division. The monument lists all the campaigns the 32nd fought in WW1 and WW2. The Battle for New Guinea  (Buna) is among the honors.


Monument to the 32nd Infantry Division in my area.

The 32nd ID was a National Guard outfit recruited in Wisconsin and Michigan. Along with 17 other National Guard Divisions the 32nd was activated for federal service in the summer of 1940 as the war in Europe raged on.

Once the US entered the war after Pearl Harbor in December, 1941 it was decided that the US and Great Britain would pursue a “Hitler first” policy which meant the majority of US assets would be routed to Britain for an early cross channel invasion of France.

Japanese ambitions in the South Pacific interfered with the policy and the US had to divert Marine and Army units to the Pacific.

Since two excellent Australian Divisions were fighting in North Africa in 1942 it became necessary for the US to send an army division to help protect Australia from a possible Japanese invasion. The 32nd was selected for the mission and it fell under General Douglas MacArthur’s command who had set up his HQ in Australia after the fall of the Philippines to the Japanese early in 1942.

The Island of New Guinea was under Australian jurisdiction and had a small Australian garrison drawn from militia units. The Japanese eyed New Guinea as a place to invade in order to try and cut off Australia from outside help.  Some in the IJA thought it might be possible to actually invade Australia once New Guinea was captured.

Once the Japanese invaded New Guinea it began one of the most brutal campaigns of World War Two. The 32nd ID was sent to New Guinea with the objective of retaking the island along with the Australians who were already engaged there with the Japanese.

Here is an entry from the Ghost Mountain Boys by James Campbell that describes what the Americans and Australians were up against:

In 1942, when the 32nd Division arrived in New Guinea, the island was still terra incognito. It’s interior was largely unmapped, its coastline a puzzle of coral reefs, its swamps and grasslands a breeding ground for disease, its climate as pernicious as any ever encountered by an army. In New Guinea, MacArthur neglected warfare’s most important lesson: The island was his enemy, yet he remained only vaguely aware of the hardships his troops would confront there. (page 73, The Ghost Mountain Boys)

The terms Ghost Mountain Boys refers to an infantry battalion of the 32nd ID. Their initial mission would be to hike over the 10,000 foot Owen Stanley Mountains to protect the Australian right flank in the battle for New Guinea.

The first part of the book documents through letters, diaries and the official records just how difficult that hike was. As the above quote states the island itself was more the enemy than the Japanese.

The 32nd was ill prepared to fight the kind of jungle warfare that would be common in the Pacific in the years to come. More men died or were disabled from a myriad of jungle swamp diseases than would die or be wounded from the Japanese Army.

MacArthur, safely from his HQ in Australia was oblivious to the facts and essentially ordered the 32nd to do the impossible without giving them the necessary support. MacArthur relieved officers who he didn’t think were aggressive enough totally disregarding the obstacles they had to face fighting both nature and the tenacious Japanese who suffered just as much as the allies did from the unforgiving island. It was the men in the ranks who suffered the most from MacArthur’s lack of concern.

Campbell includes excerpts from Japanese letters and diaries that give insight to the fact the Japanese suffered as much as anyone else if not more since their supply situation was even worse than the Americans and Aussies.

The book draws much needed attention to the little known campaign for New Guinea since it began at roughly the same time as the US Marines fought their epic on Guadalcanal. While the American pubic were keenly aware of the Marines fight on Guadalcanal they were largely ignorant of the 32nd’s sacrifice on New Guinea.

My wife’s father was a medic in 1943-44 and served at a rear area hospital in the Australian controlled part of New Guinea. He contracted dengue fever that turned his hair white and affected his nerves for life. He received a disability from the Army but the effects of New Guinea plagued him until his death in 2000. New Guinea was a hell hole even for medics who served in rear area hospitals. Campbell’s book helps us remember the sacrifice of the men who served there.




Great War US Magazine Covers


Literary Digest, July 13th, 1918



Literary Digest July 27th, 1918

I stopped at a local antique store to buy my wife a Christmas present and found two World War One copies of The Literary Digest.

Literary Digest Magazine was first  published in 1890 by Funk and Wagnalls. The final issue was in 1938. The magazine was a general interest magazine that featured the following departments (in 1918):

Topics of the Day

Foreign Comment

Science and Invention

Letters and Art

Religion and Social Service

Fuel Problems in War-Time

Current Poetry


Investments and Finance.

I purchased the two magazines because I wanted the covers that featured US soldiers in the Great War. I soon found that the magazine was interesting and that it provided insights not only to the Great War and how Americans perceived it, but American life in 1918. I will create more blog posts from the magazine in the near future.

The advertisements are interesting because they reflect an early America that has fallen in love with automobile-something that would have been a novelty and curiosity just a few years before.

The cover art of the American soldiers are both heroic and romantic in the sense of romanticizing war and showing our guys as heroes-something that every country did.

The top cover above shows an American officer leading his men into a bombed out house. He holds a 1911 Colt in his left hand and in the right he is about to toss a hand grenade. His men follow behind presumably armed with the 1903 bolt  action Springfield Rifle although many Americans were armed with British Enfields. As far as I can tell there isn’t any explanation of the art in the magazine so I’m guessing people would be familiar enough with the subject matter to understand the picture was of Americans fighting in France. The artist was Vincent Lynch and his signature appears in the lower left.

The lower picture above is interesting because it features US Cavalry apparently charging alongside an early tank (left side of the cover). As far as I know it never happened although the British massed their cavalry behind the tanks and infantry in the hopes the cavalry could be used in a breakthrough.The artist is R. Farrington Ellwell and his signature appears in the lower left.

Although some countries would use cavalry into WW2 (notably Russia) the age of the mounted charge was well over by WW1. Rapid fire artillery, machine guns and repeating bolt action rifles made mounted charges nearly impossible. The cover art in this case reflects the romance of earlier periods when the mounted charge reigned supreme. The tank represents the “steel horse” that replaced the mounted cavalry soldier.

Footnote: The Literary Digest was popular until 1936. The Digest was in the habit of taking straw polls to predict presidential elections and in 1936 predicted an overwhelming win for  Alfred Landon of Kansas (Republican) who was running against FDR (Wiki).

Landon carried only the States of Vermont and Maine. Since the popular saying at the time was “As Maine goes so does the country” (in pre-election polls) the publishers assumed a Landon landslide but what they got was an FDR landslide.

The explanation for the disastrous prediction became The Literary Digest focused its straw poll on too narrow of a demographic-generally people who were doing all right during the Great Depression and not on those experiencing hardships.

Whatever the reason the poll cost The Literary Digest all credibility and two years later it folded into history.

I knew nothing of this but could not help thinking of how badly the mainstream media blew the 2016 predictions. They predicted a Clinton landslide right up to the moment it became apparent Trump would win in dramatic fashion. The reason for the Trump win appears to be the mainstream media didn’t poll sample broadly enough and missed that most of the country had gone red even if many didn’t particularly  like Trump. Will the mainstream media lose credibility like The Literary Digest once did?