Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Saturday, December 24, 2011
For the best part of fifty years I have collected versions of the Christmas Truce Story and learned another universal truth - when an event is attended by hundreds, maybe thousands of individuals details vary. Having said that, I don't think one can do better than the account of someone who was there.
I am indebted to Mr. Tom Morgan for providing not only an excellent article about the event, but also several first hand accounts.
Captain Sir Edward Hulse, Bart., 2nd Scots Guards
"At 8.30 a.m. I was looking out and saw four Germans leave their trenches and come towards us. I told two of my men to go and meet them, unarmed, as the Germans were unarmed, and to see that they did not pass the half-way line. We were 350 - 400 yards apart at this point. My fellows were not very keen, not knowing what was up, so I went out alone and met Barry, one of our ensigns, also coming out from another part of the line. By the time we got to them, they were
three-quarters of the way over, and much too near our barbed wire, so I moved them back. They were three private soldiers and a stretcher-bearer, and their spokesman started off by saying that he thought it only right to come over and wish us a Happy Christmas, and trusted us implicitly to keep the truce.
He came from Suffolk, where he had left his best girl and a three-and-a-half horsepower motor-bike. He told me that he could not get a letter to the girl, and wanted to send one through me. I made him write out a post card, in English, in front of me, and I sent it off that night. I told him that she probably would not be a bit keen to see him again.
We then entered on a long discussion on every sort of thing. I was dressed in an old stocking-cap and a man's overcoat, and they took me for a corporal, a thing which I did not discourage, as I had an eye to going as near their lines as possible. I asked them what orders they had from their officers as to coming over to us, and they said none; they had just come over out of goodwill.
I kept it up for half-an-hour and then escorted them back as far as their barbed wire, having a jolly good look round all the time, and picking up various little bits of information which I had not had an opportunity of doing under fire.
I left instructions with them that if any of them came out later they must not come over the half-way line, and appointed a ditch as the meeting-place. We parted after an exchange of Albany cigarettes and German cigars, and I went straight to HQ to report.
On my return at 10.00 a.m. I was surprised to hear a hell of a din going on, and not a single man in my trenches; they were completely denuded (against my orders) and nothing lived. I head strains of "Tipperary" floating down the breeze, swiftly follwed by a tremendous burst of "Deutschland Uber Alles," and, as I got to my own Company HQ dugout, I saw, to my amazement, not only a crowd of about 150 British and Germans, at the halfway house which I
had appointed opposite my lines, but six or seven such crowds, all the way down our lines, extending towards the 8th Division on our right.
I hustled out and asked if there were any German officers in my crowd, and the noise died down. (At this time I was myself in my own cap and badges of rank.) I found two, but had to speak to them through an interpreter, as they could talk neither English nor French. I explained to them that strict orders must be maintained as to meeting half-way, and everyone unarmed; and we both agreed not to fire until the other did, thereby creating a complete deadlock and armistice (if
Meanwhile, Scots and Huns were fraternizing in the most genuine possible manner. Every sort of souvenir was exchanged, addresses given and received, photos of families shown etc. One of our fellow offered a German a cigarette; the German said, "Virginian?" Our fellow said, "Aye, straight-cut." The German said, "No thanks, I only smoke Turkish!" (Sort of 10 shillings a hundred man, me. It gave us all a good laugh.)
The Border Regiment was occupying this section on Christmas Day and Giles Loder, our Adjutant, went down there with a party that morning on hearing of the friendly demonstrations in front of my Company, to see if he could come to an agreement about our dead, who were still lying out between the trenches. The trenches are so close at this point, that of course each side had to be far stricter. Well, he found an extremely pleasant and superior stamp of German officer who arranged to bring all our dead to the half-way line. We took them over there, and buried 29
exactly half-way between the two lines. Giles collected all personal effects, pay-books and identity discs, but was stopped by the Germans when he told some men to bring in the rifles; all rifles lying on their side they had kept carefully.
They apparently treated our prisoners well, and did all they could for our wounded.
this officer kept on pointing to our dead and saying, "Les braves, c'est bien dommage." When George heard of it he went down to that section and talked to the nice officer and gave him a scarf. That same evening a German orderly came to the half-way line, and brought a pair of warm, wooly gloves as a present in return for George."
I would like to think of Captain Hulse sharing this story with his grandchildren years after the war, but I believe this was his last Christmas.
There are many British views of the Christmas Truce, but Mr. Morgan also perserved this account from a German participant.
had hung little Christmas trees covered with candles above the trenches and our enemies, seeing the lights, thought we were about to launch a surprise attack.
But, by midnight it was calm once more. Next morning the mist was slow to clear and suddenly my orderly threw himself into my dugout to say that both the German and Scottish soldiers had come out of their trenches and were fraternising along the front. I grabbed my binoculars and
looking cautiously over the parapet saw the incredible sight of our soldiers exchanging cigarettes, schnapps and chocolate with the enemy.
minutes later a real football match got underway. The Scots marked their goal mouth with their strange caps and we did the same with ours. It was far from easy to play on the frozen ground, but we continued, keeping rigorously to the rules, despite the fact that it only lasted an hour and that we had no referee. A great many of the passes went wide, but all the amateur footballers, although they must have been very tired, played with huge enthusiasm.
The game finished with a score of three goals to two in favour of Fritz against Tommy."
Thursday, December 15, 2011
I spent a number of years as Santa at a mall here in Texas and had a wonderful time, and I would like to share some of my experiences.
To start with there’s a good chance the little ones are going to be scared, and for good reason. From the time they can comprehend language we warn them about strangers and read them stories about Big Bad Wolves. The little’s known good and well they’ve never seen anyone like me before. They also figure anything with that much hair on its face just might be a wolf!
If they are nervous, one of the best things to do is just stand near Santa’s stage and let them watch for a bit.
The worse thing to do is force then. The result is a screaming, hysterical child. I would think no one would want a picture of a terrified, crying baby begging its parents to save it from Santa. You would be surprised how many of them I posed in.
Everyone knows Santa is magic. He see’s all, knows all, and never forgets a face, and then there’s me. I believe the slowest day I ever had, I saw one thousand children. There are those who stand out, but for the most part it a blur.
Most of the time Santa listens to a kid’s wish list, gives them a candy cane, and sends them on their way. Other times it’s a fact finding mission, and that’s fine, but tell us first. A father once asked me after his daughter left the stage what she wanted for Christmas. The only thing I could remember what that she liked horses.
Santa has posed with his share of high school foot players and cheer leaders. Personally, I never objected to teenagers visiting with me, provided they kept things respectful and didn’t spoil the fun for the little’s.
Last, please understand sometimes, visiting Santa takes a little longer. There was the little boy who wanted his father to come home from prison. There was the little girl who wanted her late grandmother back. Both of these were young enough to think I could actually help. You don’t shove a candy cane in their hand and kick them off the stage after that. Santa also needed a moment, folks shouldn’t see him cry either.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
In fairness, the Japanese had not intended the attack to be a complete surprise. The plan had been to declare war when it was too late to do anything about it. It was problems at the Japanese embassy in Washington D.C. that delayed the formal presentation.
The War was old news to Europe and China. Our government was giving as much aid to England as possible, and China under the table. With that attack the United States was not just in sprite, but in fact in World War Two.
The Generals and Polications made no grand claims, like "The War To End All Wars". The world knew better by then.
Still, there was a profound change that came over people all over the world. The generation that survived it knew "The World as we knew it came to an end." If you were five years old or seventy five, your live was split into two parts - before and after World War Two.
You might find my eariler post on this subject interesting.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Thanks Giving it's self was hosted by our son Matt and his family at their house in Calvert. In addition to Turkey, we provided a couple of rabbits. One of the highlights was the hog our Grand Daughter Ali shot at HomePlacce not to long ago. Matt made a ham from one of the leg quarters, and it was great.
Part of the Thanks Givings adventures was working on our truck. Matt, his friend Steve and Hangman put in three days worth of hard work and head scratching. I helped for the most part by staying out of the way and fetching what was needed.
In the end we got the gaskets were changed out, the timing reset, and it actually started without starter fluid.
I am thankful for many things, but family and friends that would spend three days of Thanks Giving Weekend working on our truck, and call it 'part of the fun' are at the top of my list.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
In June of this year SMOKIN' SEVETEED was released. The bond office had moved into 'The Mooners' RV temporally after...for that you need to read SIZZLING SIXTEEN. I don't want to ruin it for you.
The next book will be EXPLOSIVE EIGHTEEN. It was hinted that either Joe or Ranger would be coming to Hawaii with Stephanie, but we don't know which.
The next book opens with a grumbling Stephanie coming home after a disastrous vacation. Getting on the plane in Hawaii alone for the return trip is the highlight of the next few days.
More and more of us have started using electric media. The release for the Nook and Kendal versions are also listed as November 22, 2011 but I am guessing that will mean after midnight Monday. Its possble night owls could be reading EXPOLSIVE EIGHTEEN tomorrow night!
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Bear is a champion Trick 'er Treater. Sadly (in his eyes) he never gets chocolate, and very few marshmallows. The dog treats, however, are all his.
The only thing missing was the undersized monsters. Then again, as we live three miles out of Bremond, I wasn't really expecting any. There havn't been any goblins in the last ten years.
So it was just Helene and I, and Bear, and the outside cats drifting in and out, and the chocolate and marshmallows. Not bad, not bad at all!
And today my favorite part of Halloween begins -
the Halloween Candy Sales!
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
I was beginning to think I had imagined this.
In the 1960's I saw a brief article about a 'Walker Truck' being developed by the army for use on rough terrain. The article went on to say the beastie could be mastered after "A few hours training" and was doing well in field trials.
I think I must have been the only person in the Texas Panhandle who read that article. No one else knew what I was talking about and I couldn't find the article again. Tonight on a whim I googled Prototype US Army Walking Truck and there it was!
The beastie was built by GE. The good news is that the engineers got it to work after fashion. The bad news is the description of training and handling was a bit exaggerated.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
There was one Baboon in the collection. It was killed. Why you might ask? Take a good look at this picture.
There were also three monkeys but I haven’t found a listing of species. Two were captured and one may have been killed, or is still at large. It looks like one of the cats may have gotten that one.
The collection had also included at least two wolves. Both were taken down by hunters.
I have had the privilege of seeing Grizzly Bears in the wild and have always been delighted there were no wild ones running free in Texas. The thought of a Grizzly running loose even in the countryside of Ohio is horrifying. Thompson released two!I was glad to learn one of them was captured unharmed. The second was not so fortunate.
There were three Cougars in the collection. All of them had to be put down. Before any of you express outrage, remember the jogger in California a few
years ago. Being a child of the 50’s I grew up with stories of hunters tracking man-eaters. Leopards figured prominently in these tales. I was stunned that three of them had been released, and pleasantly surprised to learn all three had been re-captured. Of all the animals released I didn’t expect a happy end for these. A Tiger Walks dealt with the panic and mayhem of one escaped tiger. Thompson released EIGHTEEN of them. This could have been a disaster. For the tigers it was, none of them survived.
There were six Black Bears in the mass release. Unlike the Grizzlies, all were put down by authorities.
Last but not least were the African Lions. Again I get different numbers, but I think there were nine males, and eight lionesses. As near as I can tell they were all destroyed. I know a lot of you are saying "with tranquilizer guns these creatures could have been saved."
Part of the problem is time and place. If a dangerious animal is spotted it has to be dealt with then. I don't know about where you live, but the Police and Sheriff's Department in Falls County, Texas don't have tranquilizer guns in their cars. By the time someone gets to your location with a dart gun the Lion or Black Bear you've spotted could be long gone - doing God knows what.
The other problem is darts are not universal. A dart that will work on a Tiger for example will kill a Wolf, but only make a Grizzly Bear very angery. Even if you have the right dose, the drugs are not instantious. It can take as much as twenty minutes for an animal to pass out. A lot of that will be spent in a killing rage.
Tranquilizer guns are a practical solution in zoos where you prepair for each animal, but less than perfect in the field.
I have referred to 'A Tiger Walks' several times in this piece. In one case real life was better than the movie. Other than Terry Thompson, no people were killed or injured.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
One of their first clients is Malcolm, an inner city kid facing trial, I believe a drug charge. Not only do Harry and Adam get him off, but he became a law clerk in their firm.
Tommy Jefferson is the lawyer made to hate. He starts out as an opponent, and before you know it he's also on the team. Watching him and Adam go after each other gives you new respect for the younger, more grown up associate.
There are lots of lawyer / law firm TV shows. Now Harry's law is another one of them.