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11 November 2009


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William R. Cumming

The American military cemetaries in FRANCE and the memorials to the dead in small villages in FRANCE remind US again and again that the Eleventh hour of the Eleventh day of the Eleventh month of 1918 ended the first phase of the suicide of WESTERN CIVILIZATION!


Any idea what Moroccan spahis were doing in India in 1947-1954? Obviously there must have been some agreement between France and newly independent India. The French were probably eager to get them out of Morocco and away from the Moroccan independence struggle. But why did the Indians want them? And didn't the French need troops in Vietnam?


Mr. Cumming

What do you mean the suicide of WESTERN CIVILSATION?

Do you mean that was the beginning of the demographic decline of the Western Civilization? The Two world wars had no part in that, it is the birth control pill.....


sometimes a place name memorializes a battle people wished to remember

i recently read of a battle in south africa


In 1864 Mswati's armies attacked the maPulana living next to the Blyde River. The maPulana retreated to the top of the mountain (Mariepskop), some 1 944 metres above sea level, which towers over the magnificent Blyde River Canyon, nearly 1,5 km deep and at least as wide. The maPulana piled up rocks along the top edge of the mountain in readiness in the event of an attack by the enemy. The mountain could only be reached by a single footpath of about 2 km in length. The Swazi were aware that they could not attack the maPulana without any danger on top of the mountain and bivouacked on the mountain north of the Blyde River and waited for misty weather.

The Swazi did not wait long. One evening the clouds started rolling in from the south and covered Mariepskop with mist. The Swazi left their camping site and started moving, approaching the mountain from the south. The mist was very dense and they had to move with their hands virtually on the shoulder of the person in front to remain close together. Zimase, the younger brother of Mswati II, was amongst the first group to ascend the mountain.

The maPulana were ready and when the first Swazis reached the top the maPulana rolled the stacked rocks down onto their enemy. While the Swazi were in turmoil, the maPulana swarmed down the hill and started attacking those down at the river on the southern side of the hill. To this day the bones of those who were killed by the rocks may still be seen in the inaccessible rock crevices of the mountain

The maPulana named the mountain Mhuluhulu, which means ‘the mountain of the wind’, because the Swazi only heard the wind of the rocks before they were killed. The river, where the final attack took place and where the Swazi was annihilated, they named ‘Motlasedi’, which means ‘where the big battle took place’. Today the river is known, from Mariepskop to the Klaserie Dam in the river, as the Motlasedi and then as the Klaserie, which is an Afrikaans distortion of the word Motlasedi.

Patrick Lang

John H

Perhaps you should read it again. pl


Flanders Fields as the origin of Veterans Days

Maureen Lang

In Flanders Fields
By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

A Canadian friend of mine recently took her 87 yr. old mother to Europe. They visited, among other sites, the grave of her 1st husband who fought in WW2. I'm looking at a clipping she sent me from the local paper about their visit. Among the accompanying photos is that of an Oshawa Ontario lad in uniform, his mouth set in a determined line, standing next to a smiling girl recently graduated from medical school, my friend's mother.

Sacred to the memory of....
Thank you for this post, Pat.

N. M. Salamon

Is it not sad that ALMOST all the LIVING WAR VETERANS of the USA are veterans of WARS OF CHOICE, not WARS OF DEFENCE [WWI and WWII]?

Recall Korea, Vietnam, numerous mini-wars, Iraq, Afganistan and the blind support of Israel [US Liberty, Lebanon].

dilbert dogbert

One of my childhood memories is of a 4th of July parade where veterans of WW1 came marching in their leggings, uniforms that no longer fit and funny tin pots - red faced, a bit on the heavy side and sweating. That must have been around 1940.
This memory is my memorial to those who fought in WW1.


The cemeteries for the British seamen at Cape Hatteras and at Ocracoke are among my frequent reminders.

William R. Cumming

Muzaffar! Time will tell!


The photograph is interesting. He died in Waziristan fighting the same tribe that the Pakistanis, 115 years later are still fighting in the same place.

Col. and all veterans here, thank you for your service to this country, past and present.

And thank you, Ms Lang, for In Flanders Fields.

Patrick Lang


The Mahsuds still live there and they like to fight. Years earlier, some of them died in the ranks of The Guides defending Major Sir Louis Cavagnari at the British residency in Kabul. Ah, what a wonder is mankind.

Our uncle John H. Lang fought in the ranks of the 1st Battalion of the Black Watch at Ypres. He had been seconded from the Canadian Black Watch. He told me that the night before 3rd Ypres started he and his comrades heard the phantom piper of the Black Watch playing "The Campbells are Coming." Our father always said that his brotherwas full of it. I am not so sure. To paraphrase George Macdonald Frasier, "When a man like that tells you he saw someting in the night, you should listen," pl


That is why I thought the plaque was so interesting. Same place and people, different time.

Would that have been in the time the Brits tried to rule the "Jewel in the Empire"? Sorry, no history major here. Is the Black Watch a reference to Irish soldiers?

Patrick Lang


The British ruled their Indian empire for 200 years with great success.

The Black Watch was the more informal name for the Royal Highland Regiment of infantry. Scottish soldiers. pl


Dope slap to the forehead! I forgot you Virginians were Scotts. Jim Webb would be one?

I didn't know the Brits had a 200 year reign of empire in India. How did they do that, is it possible today?

Patrick Lang



A lot of Virginians are Scotch-Irish like Jim Webb. Protestant, usually Presbyterian and mostly in the western part of the state.

My father's family are not that. They were Scots and Irish, but Catholics.

India - The British more or less created Indiaas a country rather than a region.

Could it be done today? No. pl


this may be of general interest:

BBC has G.M. Fraser reading his Quartered Safe Out Here in 10 segments.

they are only available a week after they are broadcast and can not be downloaded.

Clifford Kiracofe

Jackie, All,

Here is an April 2008 GAO report to Congress assessing our problems in Waziristan/FATA.


William P. Fitzgerald III

Pat Lang, Jackie,et.al.,

I suppose that some of what I assume to be common knowledge actually isn't. However, asking questions is a good way to learn. To re-phrase Lang's point on India, were it not for the Empire the nation of India wouldn't exist and the sub-continent would look, politically, much like S.E. Asia. India was, by the way "The Jewel in the Crown" and we owe bungalow, khaki, posh and lots of other words to The Raj.

On The Black Watch, the late Dowager Queen Mary's family were deeply associated with the regiment, so the Queen's uncles and probably grandfather were Black Watch in The Great War and before. My friend, Charles Messenger, has written a two volume history "For Love of Regiment", which is a series of British Army regimental histories from founding to present day. Its a good reference, for those who're interested.

On the Morocan Spahis and colonial wars, my grandfather fought in Morocco as a sergeant in the Chasseurs d'Afrique ca. 1911-13. He and my grandmother emigrated to America in the summer of 1914, arriving in New York on the very day that The Great War began. For which, I'm grateful.



Sayin Albay Pat,

Normally epitaphs for fallen soldiers are written in sympathy of the fellow countrymen of the writer. An exception is by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Modern Republic of Turkey, who played a decisive role in preventing the Allies to breach the Dardanells straight during WWI. In Gallipoli, at the Ataturk memorial at Turakena Bay, an inscription commemorating the more than 100,000 thousand of Australian, New Zealand, English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, French and yes, even colonial Indian Senegalese, Nepalese and Turkish soldiers who died at Gallipoli, there the brass plaque reads:

““Heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives! You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears, your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”

As much as war is discussed academically in this forum, I thought I would share this with all of you, it never fails to move me.

And thank you Mrs. Lang for the “Flanders Fields”, replace the name with any other battlefield name, it would still be pertinent, including “Dardanelles”, perhaps even not disturb the rhyme.

Patrick Lang


My sister's married name is not "Lang." pl


books.google.com has "Annals of Sandhurst: a chronicle of the Royal Military College from its foundation to the present day" By Augustus Ferryman Mockler-Ferryman.

It mentions


Lieut. R.D. Angelo, Indian Staff Corps, Waziristan

Clifford Kiracofe

Per Gallipoli etc:

I once heard a story that the British-French Dardenelles operation was compromised and failed in part because the Ottomans were forewarned.

The story went that the British had bribed certain Ottoman commanders in charge of coastal defense who would then roll over at appropriate times and places.

A French diplomat at Athens was trying to persuade the King of Greece to favor the Allied side. It was said that he revealed some of the Dardenelles plan to the King thinking this would sway him. But, instead, the King of Greece informed his cousin...the Kaiser, who then had some sensitive details of the plan communicated to his friends the Ottomans who took countermeasures and replaced some commanders etc..

The French diplomat in question, I believe, was Andre d'Ormesson
"André d'Ormesson sitôt ses études achevées, sur les traces de son père, est en décembre 1898 stagiaire au ministère des affaires étrangères puis en mars 1899, attaché à la direction politique du ministère. À partir d'avril 1903 il est attaché d'ambassade successivement à Athènes, Berlin et Munich."
for whom see:

I was told this story perhaps thirty years or so ago by a late friend of mine whose father was the Ambassador of a European country at Athens at that time around WWI and that this was the story his father told him about a diplomat's fatal indiscretion.

I would point out that the United States was NOT at war with the Ottomans during World War I. The US and the Ottomans remained friends while the European imperialists were plotting to carve up the Ottoman Empire after the war. Sykes-Picot and all that...


Regarding the existence of India as a country rather than a region - I don't know how you write counterfactual history covering a period of three hundred years - could you predict the European Union from the Europe of three hundred years ago?

When the British took over India, they were taking advantage of the decay of the last unification - the Mughal Empire as arranged by Akbar, and continued by Jahangir and Shah Jahan; and the failed attempt of the Marathas to replace it.

Who knows what political currents would have arisen in the absence of the British?

The certainty you all have though on this subject is more ideology than anything else. Partly it is a result that history is written by the victors (in this case, the British, or more generally, the Anglosphere).

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