The Sherman Tank

 “A Tiger can destroy 10 Sherman tanks, but the Americans have 11.”

Field Marshal Erwin Rommel

 

 

 

 

A military maxim proclaims that quantity has a quality all its own.  Some 50,000 M4 Sherman tanks were manufactured by the US during the World War II.  A speedy and maneuverable medium tank, the M4 was designed to be shipped easily by sea and rail.  As an infantry support platform it was much loved by GI’s.  The only problem was that the Sherman was totally outgunned by  German Tigers and Panthers.  One dismayed tanker recalled seeing a Tiger fire through two buildings and still take out a Sherman.  The Sherman 75 gun could not penetrate the front armor of a Tiger.  Tiger and Panther shells had little problem penetrating the Sherman’s armor, causing American tankers to sometimes refer to their tanks as Ronsons, after a popular lighter of the period.  However, the Americans usually heavily outnumbered the enemy armor they confronted and almost always could call on air support to knock out enemy tanks.  Enemy armor also had to confront endless American infantry with anti-tank weapons and mortars, backed up by plentiful artillery and abundant tank destroyers, which made most German armored offensives against American positions risky propositions for them.

 

Most losses of the Sherman were not caused by German armor.  However, the fact that the Shermans were clearly inferior to the top classes of German armor was demoralizing for American tankers.  Variants on the Sherman saw service during the campaigns in France and Germany with heavier frontal armor and  mounting heavier guns partially alleviating the problem.

Advertisements
Published in: on April 22, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

Spring

Something for the weekend.  Spring from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.  Until Thursday of this week I had been complaining to my wife and secretary that this was the most November looking April I could recall.  Then glorious Spring burst out in Central Illinois and all was well.

 

Published in: on April 21, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Remember William Dawes!

William Dawes

Poor William Dawes!  A Boston tanner and patriot,  he along with Revere, and other riders, spread the news of the coming British expedition on April 18, 1775.  Due to Henry Wadsworth’s Longfellow’s poem, he is forgotten in comparison to Paul Revere.  In 1896 Helen F. Moore wrote a poem to attempt to set the record straight:

The Midnight Ride of William Dawes

I am a wandering, bitter shade,

Never of me was a hero made;

Poets have never sung my praise,

Nobody crowned my brow with bays;

And if you ask me the fatal cause,

I answer only, “My name was Dawes”

‘Tis all very well for the children to hear

Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere;

But why should my name be quite forgot,

Who rode as boldly and well, God wot?

Why should I ask?

The reason is clear —

My name was Dawes and his Revere.

When the lights from the old North Church flashed out,

Paul Revere was waiting about,

But I was already on my way.

The shadows of night fell cold and gray

As I rode, with never a break or a pause;

But what was the use, when my name was Dawes!

History rings with his silvery name;

Closed to me are the portals of fame.

Had he been Dawes and I Revere,

No one had heard of him, I fear.

No one has heard of me because

He was Revere and I was Dawes.

Dawes served as a Quartermaster during the Revolution.  His great-great grandson Charles G. Dawes served as Vice President under Calvin Coolidge.

Unmanifest Destiny

 

 

TO what new fates, my country, far
And unforeseen of foe or friend,
Beneath what unexpected star
Compelled to what unchosen end.

Across the sea that knows no beach,
The Admiral of Nations guides
Thy blind obedient keels to reach
The harbor where thy future rides!

The guns that spoke at Lexington
Knew not that God was planning then
The trumpet word of Jefferson
To bugle forth the rights of men.

To them that wept and cursed Bull Run,
What was it but despair and shame?
Who saw behind the cloud the sun?
Who knew that God was in the flame?

Had not defeat upon defeat,
Disaster on disaster come,
The slave’s emancipated feet
Had never marched behind the drum.

There is a Hand that bends our deeds
To mightier issues than we planned;
Each son that triumphs, each that bleeds,
My country, serves It’s dark command.

I do not know beneath what sky
Nor on what seas shall be thy fate;
I only know it shall he high,
I only know it shall be great.

Richard Hovey

Published in: on April 19, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

The American’s Creed

 

Written by William Tyler Page, it was adopted by the Federal House of Representative’s by resolution on April 3, 1918:

I believe in the United States of America as a government of the people, by the people, for the people; whose just powers are derived from the consent of the governed; a democracy in a republic; a sovereign Nation of many sovereign States; a perfect union, one and inseparable; established upon those principles of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots sacrificed their lives and fortunes.

I therefore believe it is my duty to my country to love it, to support its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.

It is often used in naturalization ceremonies for new Americans.

Published in: on April 18, 2018 at 10:01 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Washington and the Painters

 

George Washington was one of the first global celebrities who was not a monarch.  How tiresome this was to him he revealed in a letter:

Dear Sir,

Your letter of the 20th Ulto was presented to me yesterday by Mr Williams—who as a professional man—may, or may not be for ought I know, a luminary of the first magnitude. But to be frank, and I hope you will not be displeased with me for being so—I am so heartily tired of the attendance which from one cause or another has been given ⟨to⟩ these kind of people, that it is now more than two years since I have resolved to sit no more for any of them and have adhered to it, except in instances where it has been requested by public bodies, or for a particular purpose (not of the Painters) and could not, without offence be refused.

I have been led to make this resolution for another reason besides the irksomeness of sitting, and the time I loose by it—which is, that these productions have in my estimation, been made use of as a sort of tax on individuals by being engraved (and that badly) and hawked about or advertised for Sale. With very great esteem & regard I am Dear Sir Yr most Obt & Affe Servt

G.W——n

Two years later in 1794 Washington did sit for the painter at the request of Masonic Lodge 22.  Washington is wearing Masonic regalia and looks quite unhappy:

(more…)

Published in: on April 17, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

April 16, 1862: District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act

 

It is sometimes asked why compensated emancipation wasn’t attempted instead of fighting a Civil War, as if that had been the choice.  Although Lincoln was in favor of compensated emancipation, neither the slave states nor the border states, in spite of Lincoln’s vigorous efforts, were interested.  There was one area, however, where Congress had the power to impose compensated emancipation, and that was in the District of Columbia which was under the direct control of Congress.  On April 16, 1862 President Lincoln signed the District of Columbia Compensated Emanipation Act.  Under the Act some 3,185 slaves were emancipated with the owners receiving approximately a million dollars in compensation.  The Civil War cost about two and a half million dollars a day for the Union.  In purchasing power a million Civil War era Union dollars has the spending power of about 27 million dollars today.

April 15, 1945: Edward R. Murrow Reports on Buchenwald

 

 

I have reported what I saw and heard, but only part of it. For most of it, I have no words.

Edward R. Murrow at Buchenwald, April 15, 1945

 

When Buchenwald death camp was liberated, General Patton was so outraged that he ordered military police to go to Weimar, the nearest town, and bring 1000 German civilians back to tour the camp to see what their leaders had done.  The MPs were just as outraged, and brought back 2000.  Edward R. Murrow did a radio broadcast from Buchenwald on April 15, 1945 that is absolutely unforgettable.  Evil can grow so strong in this world that it has to be stopped, no matter the cost.  Here is the transcript of Murrow’s broadcast: (more…)

Published in: on April 15, 2018 at 5:30 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , ,

Lost in Space

Something for the weekend.  Theme songs from Lost in Space.  As a kid I loved the show, even though even at the age of eight I realized the show was science fantasy rather than science fiction.  The 1998 Lost in Space movie left me cold as it was too dark for my tastes and did not fit the lighter tone of most of the episodes of what was often an especially silly show.

 

 

 

A new Netflix take on the show debuted yesterday.  The episodes I have thus far watched aren’t bad.

 

 

 

The Death of Stalin

 

I finally saw The Death of Stalin (2017) with my wife and bride last Saturday.  Most films that I have high expectations for often leave me at least slightly disappointed.  This film exceeded my expectations.  It is a superb evocation of the power struggles that ensued in the wake of the death of Stalin in 1953.  The blackest of black comedies, it is also hilarious, albeit with quite a bit of very rough language.  The language however in this context works.  The men of the Politburo were gangsters, murderers.  We would no more expect them to use decent language than we would expect the demons to do so in Dante’s Inferno.  However, if there are gradations in Hell, the worst was Stalin’s Himmler, Lavrentiy Beria.  A Georgian like Stalin, and head of the NKVD for the latter part of Stalin’s rule, Beria had the blood of millions on his hands.  However, his colleagues were little better than him.  None of them had the courage not to go along with Stalin’s paranoia that executed millions and send millions of others to living deaths, and often simply deaths, in the Gulag.  All of them had to sign off on execution lists and imprisonment lists of people they knew to be completely innocent.

 

Beria is the villain of the film, as the film depicts, albeit in truncated fashion, his rise and fall post Stalin.  The film’s comedic tone leaves it right at the very end when during his “trial” Beria is denounced for his habit of taking advantage of his position to rape women at will, to have women prostitute themselves to him in usually futile efforts to save themselves or their men and children and Beria’s involvement in pedophilia.  Only then do we see moral outrage from his colleagues, because here they are talking about crimes they did not engage in themselves.

 

 

 

Communism is back in vogue on the Left, and thus this film appears at an opportune time to remind us of the gruesome reality of Communism in practice.

 

 

 

Published in: on April 13, 2018 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,