Thursday, May 29, 2014

D-Day Dweebs part 1

D-Day Dweebs part 1
I hate this time of year. TV fills up with moronic D-Day shows, many of which provide inaccurate information. People watch them and assume they are now "D-Day experts." I call these folks, or anyone that thinks you can be an expert without doing extensive reading, especially of period documents, a D-Day Dweeb.

One popular thought in these shows is that The Americans screwed up by not providing more pre-invasion naval gunfire support for the landings. Not only to make holes in the beach, but to knock out the emplacements.

 Hmmm, where did that some from?  Especially because, if you take the time to actually read the records, the US Navy specifically said before the invasion they wanted more time to shell the beaches. Sometimes this is lumped in with the idea that the Americans in the UK refused to listen to invasion experts form the Pacific.

This, to be polite, is Bull Hockey.

Fact: The Americans did have men from the Pacific come to England and talk to them about how they did their invasions. These lessons were taken into consideration, but as is clearly stated in reports that most of the suggestions were only suited to invasions on small islands or where there was not a chance of reinforcement.  Thus an informed decision was made to not adopt those concepts that did not seem like they would work in France.  To suggest that the ETO folks ignored advice that would have made the invasion better planned, or save lives, because "it was not invented here" does them a great dis-service.

 As to the case of pre-invasion naval shelling. The US Navy knew the time allotted was too short. They specifically asked for more time. At the very least another hour. This was refused as it would have upset the time table of the British landings. And who was the guy that refused it?   Why the Overall and commander: Montgomery.  So with a shorter than requested fire period, are they going to shell the beaches to make holes, or try and take out as many enemy emplacements as possible?

Now, no one happens to know everything about everything, although I have met people who seem to think they do. If someone can come up with period records showing my period records are in error I would certainly like to know about it. But until then, evidence in hand trumps evidence from a TV show, movie, or D-day Dweeb.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Book Review: Born at Reveille, By 'Red' Reeder

Born at Reveille, by Colonel Red Reeder.  Kindle E book $2.99

"Red" Reeder used to be quite famous in the Army.   Not only did he write a pile of books about West Point life for the Young Adult Market, but he was a very well known football coach for West Point. Most people today do not know him, but you should as he was the CO of the 12th Inf Regt at Utah Beach.  It was just after landing there that he got badly wounded and taken out of the war, which led him to not only coaching football, but speaking on leadership.

This is a quite good autobiography of his life up through WW2. Lots of good pre-war Army stuff. I'm not going to say it is the greatest book ever, but I did find it very interesting and enjoyable. While he does talk some of his theories of leadership, the section on D-day is important, short, but important.  Had they landed his Regiment at Omaha instead I think he'd be a major hero to a lot more people.

Anyway, it's a Kindle E book for $2.99. You can’t beat that, and it's money well spent.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Book Review: The Harlen Hellfighters

I hate Max Brooks. He has destroyed something I really liked, and looks to be set on destroying a second thing I really like.

In the first case he ruined zombies. I used to be a big zombie fan, back when it was a really niche thing and was actually cool. Then Brooks writes his survival guide, and zombies become as popular as Brittany Spears.  If I never read another bad zombie novel I will be a happy man.

So having ruined zombies for us all, Brooks is now set on ruining WW1. And in specific the Harlem Hellfighters.  Unable to get a script on them produced, he writes a comic book about them, sorry that's "graphic novel" even thought it isn’t a novel.  I am sure that now everyone and their buddy will start to become "experts in the unit, and the war.  The day after publication he sold the screenplay, and it is now 'soon to be a major motion picture.'

In all truthfulness I did not care for "The Harlem Hellfighters."  On one hand I really didn't like the art. Some of it was awkward, and I'm sorry but a chauchat with cut off butt stock being fired one handed by a Frenchman with one eye was just too much for me.  There's enough visual faux paws in it that I wish he had run t by someone that actually knew something about the period first.

But more so I don’t care for things that are "based on a true story" and then make up characters or create scenes that probably didn’t happen. The truth, especially with these guys, is great enough.

After having read an interview in which he talks about how much research he did, and how this is all accurate. Of course there is accurate, and there is accurate. Of course a lot of folks in the WW1 Army were prejudiced.  Of course some folks wanted the blacks to fail. But there are aspects to the story that are left out. Like the famous jazz band refusing to enlist until a bunch of rich people donated enough money that they could be paid their normal 'musician' salary.  

It's not mentioned that the main reason the division was broken up and spread around the French army is that they were not a full division: they were essentially four infantry regiments with none of the supports unit.  Of course that's because some folks did not think the black man could handle the mental gymnastics of modern artillery fire or engineering, but still – that just makes it a more interesting story.

And of course, in at least one interview, he says that John Pershing wrote the infamous "don’t be nice to black troops" memo. Which to my understanding, correct me if I am wrong, was written without being cleared by above by a staff officer, and Pershing was not very happy about it. Seeing as how he had commanded and respected black troops before.

I'll admit I just got kind of bored and fed up by the end part, so I skimmed it. Maybe I missed something, but there are other items of 'race value' that were not mentioned. I was particularly disappointed by how Henry Johnson's run in with the MP' was handled. So in short, I think real WW1 guys will not care too much for it, but it will suck up a lot of those that were not interested before; for good or bad.

 Now, can someone help me cut back my chauchat so I can show up as a bearded French liaison officer with an eye patch and charge the Huns with it in a blaze of glory?