Colonial War

Over the years, many people have written to me asking about early South Africa, and more specifically about the Boer War (or, as the Boers called it, the Vryheidsoorlog, or [Second] War of Freedom) from 1899-1902.

A few days ago, I found an old 1992 documentary on BoobTube, and it’s not bad — only just a tad over an hour — and it covers the period quite well, and impartially.  So that’s your weekend viewing assignment.  (There will be a test.)  If any questions of history remain, write to me and I’ll put the answers up in a follow-up post next weekend, when I’ll talk about my family’s relationship to the war.

There are three books I’ve always recommended on the topic:  Rags of Glory by Stuart Cloete, and the book it’s partially based on, a campaign journal called Kommando  written by Deneys Reitz, a wartime Bitter-Ender (you’ll get that explained in the video above) who went on to become the Deputy Prime Minister of the unified South Africa.  Both are absolutely brilliant — Cloete’s book also incorporates a view of the Boer War from the British perspective, and it’s both accurate and illuminating.

The third — an actual history book — is The Boer War  by Thomas Pakenham, generally regarded as the sine qua non  of historical sources for the conflict.  Written during the late 1980s, it’s devoid of any hint of the political correctness which infests later works on the topic.

Enjoy.

Simple Rejoinder

Every single year, we are subjected to what I call the “Anniversary Wails” of the peaceniks — said anniversaries being those the destruction of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, etc. during the later stages of WWII.

“O how horrible!” they kvetch and moan, “We dropped big bombs on helpless pore civilians of the German / Japanese persuasion!”

I find it interesting that we never acknowledge, for example, the anniversaries of the flattening of Warsaw (September 25, 1939, in case anyone’s interested) or the bombing of Rotterdam by Hitler’s Luftwaffe (May 14, 1940, showing that Warsaw was no fluke).  The Japanese never got into the mass bombing of cities to the same degree that the Nazis did, other than a few Chinese cities like Nanking, but they made up for it by other kinds of savagery, as did the Germans by, for example, strafing columns of civilian refugees in Holland, Belgium and northern France.

In any event, I find this annual breast-beating and clothes-rending about bombing the shit out of German and Japanese cities quite boring and tiresome, for one simple reason:

They started it.

As far as I’m concerned, they deserved every single bit of shit that rained out of the skies onto their totalitarian, barbarous asses.

Every time someone wails about Germans being burned to death by RAF or USAAF bombs, just cast your minds back to all those old black-and-white newsreels of Hitler parading through German city streets, said streets being lined by tens of thousands of cheering… civilians.

And make no mistake:  had New York or San Francisco been closer to Europe and Japan respectively, and had the Nazis or Japs possessed nuclear weapons, they would have used them on us without a second thought.  To believe otherwise is to be ignorant of history.

Once again, the simple rejoinder is:  “Fuck ’em.  They started it.”

Old Times, Good Times

From Mr. Free Market comes this observation:

As I pointed out to him in my reply, it goes deeper than that.  In the old days, people used to leave their back doors open so the deliveryman could check the supplies of milk, butter and eggs in the fridge, and refill as needed.

I leave it to everyone’s imagination as to what would happen should such a service be reintroduced in Britishland today.  (Or, for that matter, in any urban center in the U.S.A.)

My Kinda List

That would be the Top 25 Badass Planes Of All Time (and I especially like their choice of #1).

Now, as with all this kind of geekery, one can argue with the choices (or omissions, e.g. the WWI Fokker D.VII), but it’s still a credible selection.

(Yeah, that’s Ernst Udet in the foreground.)

And I don’t agree with Gen. Spaatz’s characterization of of the B-17, but it’s a minor quibble:  the Flying Fortress was a dandy, any way you look at it.

 

Feel free to add your suggestions — but:  if you do so, you have to say which of the existing 25 you’d drop.  (Mine would be the DC-3/C-47, to make room for the D.VII, for example).

Wrong Kind Of Heroes

Charles Lindbergh was the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean by air non-stop, in 1927.

Wrong: the first nonstop crossing of the Atlantic by air was by John Alcock and Arthur Brown, some eight years earlier.

Yet while we all remember Lindbergh, Alcock and Brown aren’t acknowledged often, not even by their own country on the centenary of their achievement:

Two WWI heroes made the first transatlantic flight fuelled only by sandwiches, a flask of coffee and raw courage to win £10,000 Daily Mail prize. So why 100 years on is Britain doing nothing to remember these magnificent men?

Oh, please.  I can think of several reasons.

  • White men
  • Worse yet, heterosexual  White men
  • War veterans mongers
  • Didn’t even try  to recruit female- or POC crew members
  • Leaving from a country stolen from the native peoples by colonialist oppressors
  • Using an aircraft once used as a weapon of war to bomb helpless civilians
  • Burning countless gallons of fuel, i.e. a leaving a massive carbon footprint
  • Showing up less brave, less able people by a pointless act of so-called “heroism”
  • Their sandwiches contained meat, and their coffee wasn’t “Fair Trade”.

I could go on, but I think you get the point.  I’m just surprised that their existing monuments haven’t been destroyed by now.