Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Bike and sidecar

I never thought I'd find myself lusting after a motorbike but this seems quite a nice idea - perfect for recreating the jousting scene from Indiana Jones

Book Ben Elton The First Casualty

Ben Elton - a stand-up comic and co-writer of Blackadder has long been known as a writer of mildly amusing books but on hearing he'd tackled the Great War my ears pricked up; not usually the stuff of comedy...but the Independent seems to think it worth a look, so hopefully soon a copy will be gracing the shelves of my local charity shop and then I can read it. Another review is here

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

British Comics

Read some of the pages and investigate the adventure comics of the 50s and 60s

Radstock man slams Tom Cruise film

Winston Churchill said it was our "finest hour", but yesterday it was revealed the Battle of Britain was won single-handedly by Tom Cruise. Amid outrage from the West's war veterans and military historians, a new Hollywood film will claim that one American, Billy Fiske - played by Cruise - was responsible for the 1940 victory. But he didn't shoot down a single plane. Fiske was one of a handful of Americans who volunteered to fight in the battle, as the US was yet to enter the war. He was killed by German Stuka bombers in August 1940. His story is to be retold in the film The Few directed by Michael Mann, who made the fighter pilot hero movie Top Gun, also starring Cruise, and filming is due to start soon. "I've heard it is almost like he won the war all on his own," said war veteran Ben Clinch, who loaded the guns fired by the real Billy Fiske. "I can't see how they can make a film of Fiske's life. He was unremarkable, in the context of the squadron. He was just another pilot as far as we were concerned." Fiske's short life is perfect movie material - the handsome son of a wealthy Chicago businessman, he won a bobsleigh gold medal at the Winter Olympics when he was just 16, married the former Countess of Warwick and raced at Le Mans. However, winning the Battle of Britain was not one of his many accomplishments. "He made several sorties but he didn't shoot anything down, and his impact on the battle was negligible," said Bill Bond, of the Battle of Britain historical society.
Jack Younie, 84, of Radstock in Somerset, joined the RAF just before the battle began. He said: "It will make it look as though the Americans were everywhere, but they were hardly there at all. "There were pilots from India, Canada, Australia, South Africa and a few from America. "But the vast majority were British. And our pilots did a great job. If they had lost the Battle of Britain, that would have been the end of everything. Hitler would simply have walked all over us. "They're just trying to make a box-office hit, and they tend to hype it up with things that frankly stretch the imagination." Hollywood has a habit of ignoring facts to glorify the deeds of Americans. In the 2000 film U-571, US seamen recovered an Enigma code machine from a sinking German submarine and changed the course of World War II. Enigma was in fact retrieved by the British crew of HMS Bulldog. The basis for the new film is that the British were on their knees and desperate for help in their fight for aerial superiority with the Luftwaffe. There were, apparently, aeroplanes sitting in hangars and a shortage of pilots. A few brave Americans answered the call - risking jail in the then neutral US - and saved the day. Recalling another piece of Tinseltown propaganda, military historian and former RAF pilot Colin Pomeray, of Dorset, said: "It is like John Wayne being the big D-Day hero in The Longest Day. "The whole idea sounds rather nauseating. It's impossible that any one man could have won the Battle of Britain. "There simply weren't lots of Spitfires sitting in hangars, and I've never heard of the American volunteers facing the prospect of prison. "Fiske was a brave man, all the Americans were brave - but there were only a very small number of them. The problem is that after this, a lot of people watching the film in America will actually believe that is the way it happened."

'Downfall' - screening Dec 9th on More 4

Monday sees the screening in the UK of this highly acclaimed German movie on the last moments of Adolf Hitler. Shot in a realistic style it shows the end of Goebbels and Hitler in a way never before seen. More info on IMDB
The more I learn about Hitler the more he seems like a fool - making some of the worst military decisions EVER. Perhaps the egotistical madness that made him create himself as an embodiment of the Nation's fortunes also made him one of history's worst leaders.

Last Canadian Great War frontline veteran dies

Monday, November 28, 2005

Lancaster Bomber

Inspired to look up this site on these formidable monsters after watching a formulaic bomber command movie starring Dirk Bogarde. Not knowing much about ww2 movies I wonder how many of these airfield movies were made? Seems like a lot from memory. Perhaps there's a site. Ideally a candidate should be in black and white so stock footage can be thrown in.

Flying Clippers

this is a wellproduced page on the subject of the golden age of air travel. The posters and artwork are of the period and well done.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

new Flashman book reviewed

A new book by George Macdonald Fraser has been compared by one as akin to a second coming - this historical novelist is head and shoulders above his rivals in historical detail, wit and general readability. This new Flashman novel is set against the background of the Napier expedition to Abysinnia.
also here also visit here for the background to the character, previous novels and links to other works such as the Steel Bonnets set in the era of the Border Reivers

Eastern front book review

Friday, November 25, 2005

Russian army of the 30s and 40s

According to myth Hitler didn't invade Britain because he lost the Battle of Britain but recent research shows that it was the emerging Russian army with its new tanks and equipment that frightened Hitler into attacking the Soviet Union. This website investigates the armour of this period with some good video clips.
If you want to see a reenactment group of this period go to North-Front's website - some excellent photos including a KV-1 being dredged out of the river

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Percy Topliss - the Monocled Mutineer

One of the great anti-heroes of the Great War, Topliss was once the most wanted man in Britain for his part in mutinies that went on behind the lines. Well that's the myth anyway - a biography of him is here This chemeleon-like character was played by Paul McGann (left) in the tv series written by Alan Bleasdale. Topliss was depicted as a reknowned officer impersonator who used his bluffing instinct to carry him through the various scrapes.
The web is full of anecdotes through local history - one old lady sold him a packet of cigarettes, someone caught him and let him go...have a search and see what turns up. Filmmaker Alex Cox has a script he wrote on the subject here - not sure if you can read it - maybe you have to pay...
There is some of the facts surrounding the controversy of this case on this forum The Etaples mutiny is written about here
The site mentioned above is worth a look - its a campaign to have the 300-odd soldiers shot for cowardice and desertion reviewed. Many of the soldiers shot had no council and were tried, convicted and executed on the same day
There is a book on the subject here but the website gives no information as to what it has. This crime site has an interesting page
Copies of the novelisation of the tv series turn up occasionally.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Great Indian Battles - Minisink 1779

this is an interesting battle that has Militia fighting with a party of Iroquois led by the celebrated Joseph Brant - this website here has some excellent photos of the site.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Mickey Lee Lane

there's a great looking compilation of this the man who brought us 'Hey Sah-Loh-Ney' - probably the greatest dance record of all time.

Christmas Truce

LONDON, England (AP) -- Alfred Anderson, the last surviving soldier to have heard the guns fall silent along the Western Front during the spontaneous "Christmas Truce" of World War I, died Monday at age 109.More than 80 years after the war, Anderson recalled the "eerie sound of silence" as shooting stopped and soldiers clambered from trenches to greet one another December 25, 1914.
The Christmas truce has always been of interest to me - there's a book on it I remember reading, but as for finding an interesting angle to celebrate it the prize must go to Billy Childish's Buff Medways for doing a Christmas single 'Merry Christmas Fritz' based around the story on the album 1914 - a concept album of garage rock and roll!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Charge of the Light Brigade in plastic

New manufacturer on the block Emhar are certainly pushing the box about with its new poseable plastic and innovative subjects, and apparently getting their sculpting done in China. This month sees the release of Crimean Russian artillery and British cavalry. All exceptional and historically accurate it bodes well for their Franco-Prussian war sets which are imminent. For more of their products go here

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Not Forgotten

This is a new series attempting to put stories and their descendants to the names on anonymous looking war memorials. Rarely is telly moving but this programme was an exceptionally well put together show that had some interesting and poignant stories to tell, such as the village who had no memorial as one of the fallen was shot for cowardice. This ably showed how the aftermath of the Great War passed on through the generations and was worthwhile time spent.

Native reenactors for New Orleans?

A call to arms! To all able bodied warriors and white men in Indian Country.
A new company is being formed for thepurpose of defending America from that scourge ofEnglish aggression. Major General Pushmataha needs all those warriors who are interested in defending the southland at the major engagement that will soon be had at New Orleans when the English land their ships and troops to attempt to impose their will upon bothours and the American’s lands. We have given our word that we hold in honor to our American brothers and weintend to make good on our promise to help them defend their lands. A company of Indian militia is being formed at present to attend the battle at New Orleans and other sites of interest in an attempt to put the English in their right and proper places. Join now, come and aid in the fight to come. War honors, gifts and loot are to be had to all those who come to fight. Who will go with me to help our American brothers win this fight,who will go with me to teach the English a lesson that they will not soon forget and a fight that songs will be sung for generations to come? Now is the time to join, many English scalps await the hatchet and scalping knife of our bravest warriors, you but need to walk in the path of war with me and we shall be victorious!
The Americans are but a young nation, but with the help of our old sovereign Indian nations we shall help them become great and help them gain the strength that they need to become an old nation as we are. Come brave warriors, come red brothers, let us go to war and let us dance the scalp dances after the victory! I am the one called Apushmatahaubi, the one who brings death to his enemies, the one who stepped forth from the oak fully formed with hatchet and scalping knife in hand. I will lead us to victory and to many prizes of war, come with me!Apushmatahaubi, Mico ant Okla Hannali ChahtaTuska Chitto ant Amahican.(Pushmataha)Leader of the Six Towns Choctaws War General of the Americans
The “modern” call:
At present I am trying to form a company of “Indian Militia” as was such that the “Indian General” andChoctaw chief Pushmataha lead during the War of 1812. The militia will be comprised primarily of Native reenactors dressed as Indians (i.e. frock coats orshirts, leggings, breechcloths, mocs) armed with muskets/rifles/tomahawks and scalpers, but formed up into companies of militia that will adhere to the basic drill of American militia. I realize this is fairly short notice, but only recently was the decision to have the battle of New Orleans reenactment in light of the Katrina disaster made once again. This event is a crucial event in regards to living history and also is important as it will help form a modern link to the importance of a multitude of various groups of people coming together to save New Orleans. It is in direct parallel to what is happening down there at this very moment. The event is January 6-8 of 2006. It is also a great opportunity to portray an aspect of history that has not been displayed since it was originally enacted, that of a significant Native military force serving under “modern” military tactics to accomplish the feat of helping win a major military victory. It is known that Pushmataha drilled his warriors (who numbered some 700 or so Choctaws, Chickasaws and Cherokees) in the white military tactics of the day. They were so effective at learning and conducting the military drill that they were commended on many separate occasions for their bravery and gallantry under fire. That is a sight that will turn some heads, Indians serving in a line company of militia, and with your help as a reenactor in the company, we could be one of the best militia groups ever seen!
The company would also be complemented by any“American” reenactors who wished to portray “Indian country men” – those whites who were living amongst the Indians in their territory at the time, who were serving alongside them because they had a tie either by marriage or by affiliation. This company also has the chance to attend other events of the period other than the Battle of NewOrleans, but what that all depends on is who and how many people wish to join up.
Requirements as far as dress and accoutrements are pretty easy to attain and most folks doing Native reenacting already can easily fit into the role. There is ample documentation of what these men carried and the fact that they were paid as members of the“Mississippi Militia” adds to the idea that these were paid soldiers, not just an Indian rabble.There are no dues, there are few rules, this isn’t a political organization of any kind, I’m just trying to form up a company of militia to attend some really cool events and do a really cool portrayal of an integral period of Native American history.
If you’re interested, please contact me for more information. If you know anyone who might be interested but has not received this, please forward it to them.
Please, inquire only if you’re seriously interested and would be able to firmly commit to at least attending the Battle of New Orleans reenactment in January.Thank you most sincerely, David B. Wells dit Nitaiskatene but now aka Pushmataha:-)

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Notting Hill Psychogeography Online Book

Tom Vague's book of Notting Hill pop culture. Well worth a read

Battle for Moscow

An interesting set of pictures from a reenactment of this WW2 battle at Borodino.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Killing a chicken

Yesterday we had to terminate one of our chickens - Godzilla - she was ill and old and not hopefully not a Bird Flu victim. I didn't do it myself - which I'm a little ashamed of - but got a friend to do it - a professional - but it didn't make it feel any better - in fact I felt guilty for not having the conviction to do it myself. It was a strange process that at every stage seemed loaded with meaning. I secretly hoped he would say something like - we'll leave it to the morning - or let's leave til after tea - but once asked the progress was slowly, methodically and unstoppably moving towards the final twist. I apologised for my using him to do my dirty work but he said that was how the noble profession of slaughtering came about - but again I felt weak and slightly evil.
This is a week dogged by death as we have had two fat rats nibbling on our chicken feed - they soon will have to die as they have been chewing on the hens and stealing eggs. Having been in conflict with this species before I am aware that it is not going to be easy and no doubt horrific. How I am going to do it I don't know - any ideas?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Last Legion

The Gladiator effect still rolls on - this movie still in production stars Colin Firth and Ben Kingsley and uses the Epic word in the blurb.
book here

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

hunting shirts

Ive been trying to find the reference I saw somewhere that Natives didn't like or wear Hunting shirts much. Can't find it yet...the above article is interesting though

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Great War Trench Mining

Something that has always interested me about the Great War was the mining and countermining of enemy trenches. My Grandfather was a collier from the Somerset Coalfields and spent much of the war in harrowing countermining operations - often fighting hand to hand underground with their German counterparts. This site is a great addition to the online data about the Great War and is to be congratulated.

Rebellion; John Horse and the Black Seminoles

This is a comprehensive and absorbing look at the Black Seminoles - and the conflict surrounding the region. America has a rich modern history - mostly tales of subjugation - but nevertheless colourful and exciting reading.

Nouvelle France movie 'Historic dud'

this review seems to think the forthcoming Nouvelle France movie a turkey. Official site here . Released in the US on Novemeber 13 - I hope someone over there in the land of the free goes and sees it if only to hear first hand...

The Libertine movie

Johnny Depp , John Malkovich star. Depp is the scandalously decadent John Wilmot, the second Earl of Rochester. Qutoing from some blurb 'The film follows the Earl's adventures in London, from his passionate romance with a young actress, Elizabeth Barry (Samantha Morton), to the writing of a scurrilous play which blisteringly and bawdily lampoons the very monarch who commissioned it, Charles II (John Malkovich), leading to the Earl's banishment and eventual downfall.'
I must admit to being more of a Malkovich fan than a 'Deppy' but this film looks a must-see.
to read about the real Rochester go here
or here

Monday, November 14, 2005

Pershing's Doughboys

This is the UK WW1 living history group - check out their vehicles - based around the AEF - looking at their site they are doing an interesting trip to New Mexico to celebrate the Pancho Villa incursion.

Lost battalion of WW1

interesting site with clips of the 1919 movie which boasted to be the first time history had been reenacted by the original participants on film.

Chav or anti Chav

Well the nation has been gripped by this concept for part of this year. What is a Chav? Entymology suggests a derivation of a Romany word but the best though apocryphal is the Acronym Council House and Violence but basically the word describes UK white trash or a lowbrow underclass - in short the urban poor. Lots of regional variations of this word - one local to me one 'NUmpties' makes me grin. Julie Burchill did a piece on tv identifying the fact that it was simply a new stick to beat the poor, by the so-called cultured middle-class; so what they have poor taste in clothes? Maybe they spend their money on worthless what?
I live in a so-called Chav stronghold - it has its amusing sides; this conversation was witnessed the other day
'You smell nice?'
'Well you know me and me 'olidays - I always get me perfume - this is the new Calvin Klein...' 'Euphoria?'
'Oh I been calling it Ethiopia...I saw an E and a U and thought 'what?'
Well I have a totemic burberry (fake) basball cap that I wear to annoy the chattering classes and ensure I play 50 cent loudly when I can... so I'm on the side of Chavness come the Revolution.

Atalatl News

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Great Indian Battles - Horseshoe Bend 1814

This battle saw the Creek indians defeated by to-be President Andrew Jackson. There seems to be a tradition of Presidents and Militia membership in the US.
The Creek War seems an interesting site Among the Creeks accompanies

Friday, November 11, 2005

Armistice Day

The aftermath of the War to End all Wars saw riots of veterans and disappointment at the world they inherited. Soon enough the protagonists were at it again in what historians of the future must see as one long war with a breeding gap in between.
Channel 4 and the Imperial War Museum have launched an online memorial - also here
Watch the clip of the new documentary the Somme here

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Buccaneer Bay - a 300 years ago holiday?

this is an interesting resort concept I happened upon while looking for epees du soldat on Loyalist arms' website. It promises to be a one of a kind experience... a holiday 300 years ago - interesting ... special rates for reenactors.

52nd light infantry

this is a pretty swish website for a celebrated Peninsula war unit. Some photos hidden away in the body - they look good

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

the Old Fritz & the Dreispitz

On the Age of Reason theme here's an excellent image from the site of the Dreispitz - the Tricorn - depicting the Old Fritz Frederick II of Prussia with his father's beloved Grenadiers. These people will no doubt be gearing up for the anniversary of Lobositz - the battle that started the Seven Years War in Europe.
Browse the myriad of groups on the Dreispitz site recreating the colourful age of Maria Theresa, Voltaire and of course the Old Fritz himself.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

18th Century Books - Age of Reason

Twenty Questions?

This is a computerised version of the old game - animal, vegetable, mineral - done by a pc - give it a try - its fascinating - especially afterwards when the computer takes issue with your answers - it's a great distraction. Give it a whirl.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Great Indian Battles - Monongahela 2005

this is an exceptional photogallery of pics for this reenactment entitled 'Drums in the Forest'.
DVD of "Drums in the Forest" - now available$13.75 (includes shipping) Send your check to:Old Bedford Village 220 Sawblade RoadBedford, PA 15522

Battle of Point Pleasant 1774

this battle between the Virginia Militia and Ohio Natives was recognised in 1908 as the first battle in the American Revolution. This battle also yields some interesting sidelines - notably the Cornstalk curse which gets caught up in the Mothman phenomena

Brothers Grimm

For once Terry Gilliam has got it right. This historically based fantasy around the exploits of the Brothers Grimm (Matt Damn, Heath Ledger) is seasonal movie magic. Not a kids film by any stretch of the imagination this movie manages to deal with Red Riding Hood, the Gingerbread Man and all your favourite childhood tales and be really quite frightening at the same time. The settings are superb, - the forests of Thuringia and Westphalia under Napoleon's yolk are magnificently recreated using Prague as a stand in which seems to be the city of choice for all Napoelonic movies these days.
Full of gothic charm and period flavour (those poor geese must have got sick of being ridden through hastily) it is a visual feast. I'm not really a Gilliam fan as his jokes always seem a little lame and his surrealistic touches often unnecessary but this film did it for me - it almost made up for the disappointment I felt on seeing Baron Munchhausen.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

the First Invasion - War of 1812

this History Channel documentary looks impressive. Already region 1 dvds of this are on ebay so I might take the plunge.

Alamo village

If you are a fan of Americana - which I suppose I must be - you'll find this site dedicated to the movie set built for the Wayne 'Alamo' interesting. Also this recollection - also includes a 360 degree tour.

Sullivan-Clinton Campaign 1779

this visually impressive site is dedicated to this campaign against the Six Nations. Slideshows are impressive and atmospheric

Friday, November 04, 2005

Maryland Light Dragoons War of 1812

interesting site with good links

Brothers Grimm

this movie, by Terry Gilliam has been picking up good comments for its historical accuracy - set in 1804 - and its content - I'll review it soon - check out the trailers and the official site

Great Indian Battles - St Clair's Defeat 1791

On this day in 1791 almost 700 American troops were killed to the loss of about 40 indians near Fort Recovery Ohio. This battle, sometimes known as the Battle of the Wabash was the worst any American army suffered at the hands of a Native foe, so big a defeat it has probably helped it stay in obscurity. It left Washington's fledgling country with an army of 300 to defend itself and was the subject of the country's first congressional enquiry. It's a little spooky that I was going to write about this battle for my blog before I realised today was the anniversary. Anyway, there are no epic paintings of this battle to put up but here are some links to find out a bit more about this great victory of Little Turtle and his confederacy.
Info about the Song - and the background - if you go to this page you'll hear the tune and see all the lyrics at the bottom of the page. Page on Blue Jacket - info on St Clair.
Sadly it didn't feature in a 'Remember the Wabash' type battlecry but it did spur on the formation of a disciplined fighting force known as the Legion of the United States - aka Wayne's Legion.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


this 60m epic of Rome doesn't grab me I'm afraid. Watch the clips, though.

book; Wilderness War on the Ohio

More great Indian Battles; Battle of Oriskany 1777

The Oneidas at the Battle of Oriskany - August 6, 1777
This battle is aluded to in the movie Drums Along the Mohawk as is the General, Herkimer represented. Rated as one of the bloodiest battles of the Revolution heavy rain meant desperate hand-to-hand fighting was the order for much of the battle. This excellent representation of the Oneidas is by Don Troianni and is available as a print from here
If you enlarge it you may notice the incident depicts Two Kettles Together loading a musket for a wounded warrior Honyere. More information on this from an Oneida perspective here

Walter D Edmonds

We all know the movie Drums Along the Mohawk - it's one of the great forgotten movies of 1939 and I've long fancied reading the book. Above is a list of his other historical works - some sound really intriguing.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Perry Miniatures

The Perry twins must be Britain's first 'star' sculptors - they have, with their work with Games Workshop, the Foundry and now on their own, set the trends and defined both the aesthetic and scale across the historical miniatures market. They not only have the whole sculpting thing weighed off they also are now very historically accurate in what they create. They certainly have come a long way since their Wargames Foundry English Civil war range when I first became aware of them. You can sense the enthusiasm in their work in the poses, the ideas and the research. The figures come in black boxes so they might make an ideal gift. Worth checking out are their American Revolution, 40mm Peninsular, and the 'Workbench section to see some great 'greens'

Light Brigade Bugle

Sound clip from 1880s! Presumably this is the same bugle bought by Laurence Harvey at an auctionin the 1960s and had played on the Ed Sullivan show by a trooper in period uniform. This sounds a strange scene indeed compared to say, the Beatles. Harvey had bought the screen rights to Cecil Woodham-Smith's The Reason Why, which for some reason Tony Richardson felt he needed for his version of the charge. Harvey was given a small part that was eventually cut as part of the deal to get the rights. The bugle went to the Regimental museum. Osbourne's screenplay documents here

Great Indian Battles; Blue Licks

I'm going to try a top ten Indian Battles list - this one is reckoned to be the last battle of the Revolution - photos of a 2002 reenactment here - some good images
Also while on the search for such things Kentuckianish to go with the above - ran into this gallery. I don't know but seeing these sort of images make me long for the kind of weather and conditions to 'trek' like that
History of Boone and his early fights with the Shawnee here

Virginia Militia War of 1812

this is an article for the recreated unit's impression.
Military Heritage's War of 1812 website has some useful articles and links too. There's an awful mass of genealogical information out there on this period - people should safely assume that they have a relative doing something somewhere and get on with something else, but that's my opinion.

James Alexander Thom

This author of historical fiction is probably best known for 'Follow the River' and 'Panther Across the Sky' (about Tecumseh). Mostly writing about the Shawnee his wife is a Clan Mother of the United Remant Band