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Enfields or machine guns?

The first battle of Ypres in 1914 marked the end of the "Old Contemptibles", the well experienced and trained British Army.    The Brit's had taken so many casualties that quickly trained men were the new army.  Gone were the days the Brits had time to dote over teaching rifle fire.  But one of the features of that battle were the results of an army trained tediously to use their rifles.  At the Battle of Gheluvelt on 29-30 October, 1914, the Germans made one last try to break the Brit line, but was clobbered so badly by British rifle fire the Germans thought they faced a line of hidden machine guns.  The Germans refer to the battle as "The Massacre of the Innocents".  By not breaching the line, World War One devolved into a line of trenches that cut all the way across Europe.  This video, by Stan the Gun Man,  illustrates the type of fire that pushed back the Germans, but multiply it by hundreds and include bullets that didn't miss their mark.

Steampunk Gear, Gadgets and Gizmos...

Halloween is just around the corner, and nothing says Old British Guns like a steampunk outfit.    In the book, Thomas Willeford takes you through many steps to create your own steampunk outfit, including rayguns and and arm attachment that is also a gatling gun.  You'll be the best dressed kid (or adult) in the neighborhood. Should be a lot of fun. The writer also runs Brute Force Studios, which sells everything steampunk. There is a good review on Geek Dad.  And if you can't afford his book on Brute Force's website, you can get it on Amazon.

Warrior: The Legend Of Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen

Warrior: The Legend Of Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen is a trip into 19th Century Britain's African Colonies and a deep look at a man in the center of it all.  Peter Capstick is an old Africa hand as it is and is uniquely qualified to tell his story.  A man who didn't seem to fit in back home, he came into his own commanding his own unit of the King's African Rifles.  He arrived in Africa in 1902, and was astonished to find the Martini-Henry rifles of his new outfit were so rusted up as to be unusable.  After shortly putting everything in order, he immediately went into the peace keeping business as unruly tribes kept him hopping. 

From a modern perspective, this man looks to be somewhat  bloodthirsty, and easily gets into killing mode when dealing with hostile tribes.  Capstick defends the man, saying we are too far removed in time and culture to understand what Meinertzhagen had to do to keep the peace.  Another thing that seems odd is Britain expected their officers to look after themselves, and Meinertzhagen had to hunt to keep his larder stocked.  Not that hunting bothered him, and he was excited at all the animals he had to shoot at, and shoot he did.  Bagging lion, rhino and hippo was right up his alley, and he took to it with relish. 

In fact, in one thrilling battle he fought with the Irryeni Kikuyus, he got what is referred to in the shooting sports as a "mixed double".  He was backed into a thicket of reeds, when a Kikuyu warrior and a wounded lion broke into his opening.  He bagged them both.

Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen was probably the only soldier on the western front in WW1 that used an African war club in the trenches.  The book is a thrilling read and you can get it on Amazon.

Warrior book cover

AARRGGHH!! It's War!

The War Picture Library were Brit comic books from 1958, and went on for over 2000 issues, finally coming to an end in 1984.  Originally 64 pages, some stories were combined into anthologies running into several hundreds of pages.  In true comic book tradition, the cover art is the thing, and some of these are spectacular.

My favorite title is "AARRGGHH!! IT'S WAR".  In an old british guns context is "Gatling Gun".  But the covers are great, and you can still find the books at Amazon and Ebay.

Comic book cover

Comic book cover

Comic book cover

Dig 1940 on the BBC

One thing the Brits got over us in the states is the BBC.  A new show not available in the US, Dig 1940, is presented by archaeologist Jules Hudson as he travels around France and England digging up old artifacts of WW2.  In Episode 1, Hudson and his team dig up an old Stuka in France.  Thank God for YouTube, you can at least get a small clip of the show.  Since the world has gotten smaller, it is more noticeable how  restrictive national boundaries are starting to get in the way of everything from commerce to a little tv enjoyment.  Hopefully the internet will circumvent these restrictions some day.

A flight of Stukas

In this first episode, a British fighter pilot explained that a Stuka's strength and weakness was it's ability to dive straight down, by using it's air brakes.  This made their bombing more accurate, but slowed the aircraft down making it susceptible to British fighters.  The plane dug up on the show must have dove straight into the ground, with few recognizable parts coming up out of the hole.