Monday, July 9, 2018

Operation Husky + 75

Smaug the Dragon

Seventy-five years ago on this day in 1943 (written July 10, 2018) Allied troops began the invasion of Sicily.  Churchill sought to attack the "soft underbelly of Europe" in much the same way that Bard the Bowman kills Smaug with an arrow to the belly in The Hobbit.  The invasion of Sicily would, however, prove to be infinitely more complicated than Tolkein's novel.  It was the largest amphibious invasion ever attempted at that point in history.  Mussolini's Fascist regime was a house of cards that needed to be toppled with a violent push.  But Nazi Germany would not give up on Italy so easily and a grinding campaign fought up the spine of the Italian peninsula that would result in more Allied deaths than the more famous northern campaign that began on June 6, 1944.

George S Patton

Paton and Montgomery would compete in the "Race to Messina" to liberate the island of Sicily.  Alec Guinness of the Royal Navy would pilot amphibious vehicles that stormed ashore on July 10, 1944.  Audie Murphy, the most decorated American soldier of WW2, would also fight in Sicily.  All of these were of Celtic ancestry and many will be discussed in our forthcoming 100 Fighting Celts: From Boudicca to MacArthur (out in 2019).

Bernard Law Montgomery

We wrote about the American involvement in the invasion of Italy in our book America Invades (

"It all started on July 10, 1943, with Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily. The first day of the campaign was also one of the worst when the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment of Matthew Ridgway’s 82nd Airborne was decimated by friendly fire. About fourteen hundred Americans were tragically killed by  re from anti-aircraft batteries on allied naval vessels. From this painful experience, the Allies learned a valuable lesson. All Allied aircraft participating in the D-Day invasion were painted with black and white stripes prior to the Normandy invasion.
Once ashore, General Patton and British General Montgomery competed in the famous “Race to Messina” on the other side of the island. To Montgomery’s irritation, the indefatigable Patton won, but he didn’t have it all his way ending up being very nearly court-martialled for slapping a soldier suffering from battle fatigue.

With Sicily under Allied control, it was on to mainland Italy. The Second World War in Italy was a long grueling affair in which Americans fought with great tenacity and bravery. For instance, The 442nd Regimental Combat Unit, composed mainly of Japanese-Americans, became the most decorated American military unit in our history winning a staggering 9,486 Purple Hearts. There were times when the possibility of a rapid advance north towards the heart of Europe seemed possible, for instance, after the Germans were initially surprised by the Allied landings at Anzio, but somehow the enemy collapse never came, at least not until right at the end of the war itself.

In spite of the surrender of the Italian government and their switching sides to the Allies, the German defense of Italy under the able “Smiling Albert” Kesselring was stubborn and tenacious. After Southern Italy was cleared, the Americans used airbases in Italy to bomb Axis targets, such as the Ploesti oil fields in Romania. George McGovern, the future presidential candidate, piloted his B-24 Liberator bomber on thirty-five missions from San Giovanni Air Base in Apulia.

Rome, Mussolini’s former capital, was liberated by American forces on June 4, 1944, an extremely newsworthy event but preempted by what came two days later far to the north—D-Day. As Allied armies swept across northern Europe towards the Reich, American and other Allied armies continued their slow, tough advance north through Italy. In fact, fighting was to continue in Italy all the way until May 8, 1945—V-E Day.

Victory in Italy came at a heavy price. There were about 114,000 US casualties in the Italian campaign. Today you will find two American Battle Commission cemeteries in Italy, one in Florence and another near Anzio (Nettuno) where visitors can sit and think about the huge sacrifice made by many young troops." Source:

Remember ALL those brave Allied troops, American, British, Canadian, etc. that fought to slay the dragon of fascism in Europe from July of 1943 until the end of the war.  Never forget their sacrifice!

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Monday, April 30, 2018

Invading Norway: Occupied

The second season of Occupied is now out.  This is an amazing television mini-series.  If you can get past subtitles it is well worth your time.

If you think that NATO is irrelevant in 2018, you really need to watch Occupied.

If you believe in America First and think that America should mind its own business and stay out of Europe and the outside world, then you really need to watch Occupied.

If you think that Putin's Russia is dreamy, then you really need to watch Occupied.

If you don't think that Americans ever Invaded Norway too then you need to read my blog...

This is one of the most expensive series ever filmed for Norwegian television.  It is well written and well acted by a cast that is largely unknown to American audiences.  The actors, being mainly Scandinavian, are very attractive.  Their characters, being Scandinavian, hop in and out of bed with each other with regularity.  Occupied is a postcard for Norway -- a land of spectacular natural beauty and charm.  Norway is a wealthy country that has benefited from North Sea oil over many decades.  There is a gorgeous new opera house in Oslo.  The woman running Norway's pension scheme bet shrewdly on a market recovery near the bottom of the financial crisis in 2008 enriching her countrymen.

This is a Scandinavian production so don't expect a fairy tale ending here.

Check out Occupied!

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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Ethiopia 1936 / Syria 2018

Mussolini gassed Ehiopia

In 1935-36 Mussolini launched a brutal invasion of a sovereign African nation -- Ethiopia.  His troops used poison gas to slaughter thousands of Ethiopian civilians.  We had this to say in the Ethiopia chapter of Italy Invades: How Italians Conquered the World...

"In October 1935, a vast Italian Army with extensive armored and air support advanced into Ethiopia in the second Italo-Ethiopian war. They reached Adwa and captured Aksum. The Ethiopians retaliated with a Christmas offensive. But in 1936, the Italians continued to press forward. The Italian forces had vast superiority in armaments and won a series of encounters, including the Battle of Enderta, the Battle of Shire, and the decisive Battle of Lake Ashenge. On May 5, 1936, Italian forces entered the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. However, Ethiopian resistance had not ended in substantial parts of the country, and a bitter guerrilla war followed before Italy took full control. Mussolini ordered the use of poison gas, delivered via artillery and by air, against Ethiopian forces. General Graziani declared brutally, 'The Duce will have Ethiopia, with or without the Ethiopians.'"

Italians have much to be proud of.  But it must be admitted that Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia and his use of poison gas was a disgrace.  Moreover, the West's complete lack of any coordinated response to the fascist aggression in Africa was hopelessly irresponsible.  Aggression went unchecked.  Just three year's after Il Duce's conquest of Ethiopia, World War II would begin with Hitler's September 1939 invasion of Poland.  The entire world would be plunged into the bloodiest war in human history.

The parallels of Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia are not exact (Assad has attacked his own people with chemical weapons rather than a foreign nation, for example) but they are instructive.  History does not always repeat itself but it often rhymes.

The world did not really care much about the fate of the Ethiopians in 1936.  It does not seem to care much about the fate the Syrians caught up in a brutal civil war today.  But it should have cared back then and it must today.

Assad seems to be desirous today of having Syria today "with or without the Syrians".

One may or may not agree with the various domestic and foreign policies of Trump, May and Macron.  And they are open to fair criticism for having telegraphed their intentions before the fact.  But one must concede that something needed to be done with regard to Assad's blatant disregard for all international norms with his use of Chlorine and, perhaps, Sarin gas on Syrian civilians.  Aggression must be checked in the 21st century to prevent the outbreak of catastrophic conflicts by appeasement-emboldened tyrants.

It is comforting to see a restoration of the Special relationship between America and its oldest allies -- Britain and France.  Churchill, FDR and DeGaulle would be smiling down on today's political leaders for the actions they have taken in calling a halt to the use of brutal and inhumane weapons.  It is always better to act in concert with allies rather than for America to act alone.  Based on the early morning timing for these attacks, it is evident that the Allies worked hard to minimize civilian and collateral casualties.

Thoughts and prayers go out today to the brave men and women serving in the American, British and French militaries that have conducted these much-needed and overdue strikes against the Assad regime.

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Friday, April 6, 2018

General Patton Memorial Museum

At the Patton Museum in
Chiriaco Summit, CA

The General George Patton Museum (, located in Chiriaco Summit, CA, was the site of the Desert Training Camp in World War II.   From 1942 until 1944 about a million men and some women trained here for desert warfare.  They lived in tents in the Mojave desert about 150 miles from Los Angeles.  They trained for armored warfare over a desert that stretched over 18,000 square miles from Claremont CA to the Arizona border.  Joshua Tree National Park, visited today by thousands of tourists, was once a tank proving ground.

General Patton, who grew up in Pasadena, CA, trained US armored forces here for desert combat prior to Operation Torch which targeted North Africa.  The hard training in the California desert paid off when American forces arrived in North Africa in the fall of 1942.  We wrote this in the Morocco chapter of America Invades (

Commander Kelly w Sherman Tank
Patton Memorial Museum

"On November 8, 1942, US troops, under the command of General George “Blood and Guts” Patton, who studied the Koran on the voyage across the Atlantic, landed on three sites on the coast.
The United States, in invading Morocco, was attacking a nation with which it was not at war at the time—Vichy France was technically neutral. The point of Operation Torch invasions across North Africa was to strategically outflank Rommel’s Africa Corps and the Italians in Libya who faced the British driving west from Egypt.

Despite hopes the Vichy troops would not put up much resistance, there were some fierce clashes. Nevertheless, compared to many later WWII operations in the Mediterranean, casualties were light, the fighting was brief, and the port city of Casablanca, a major target of Torch, eventually fell. About seventy-two hours’ worth of  fighting was sufficient to satisfy the demands of French honor.

Armored Vehicle
Patton Memorial Museum

The classic movie Casablanca was actually filmed in 1942 before the US capture of the city but had its world premiere in New York City on November 26, after it. If the timing of Torch had been different, so might movie history have been.

After the battle of Casablanca, the red carpet was rolled out for the surrendering French officers who had ruled Morocco. After negotiating the terms of surrender with the French, Patton, who was fluent in French, 'held up his hand and told them there was one last formality to be completed. 'Worried looks were quickly replaced by smiles as champagne bottles were opened and Patton offered a toast to the renewal of France and America’s age-old friendship."  (Source:

General Patton
USMA West Point, NY

In the Tunisia chapter of America Invades we noted...

"But by late 1942, it was we and the British who were about to invade it (Tunisia). Operation Torch was launched on November 8 with US and British landings in Vichy-French–controlled Morocco and Algeria in an attempt to attack Rommel’s Afrika Korps from behind. In response to these landings, however, the Germans rushed men and tanks into Tunisia to try to hold it against US and British forces advancing from the west, and our boys were in for something of shock.

In February of 1943, two veteran panzer divisions attacked the inexperienced American forces at Sdi-Bou-Zid and Kasserine Pass pushing rapidly forward against them. After the humiliation of Kasserine, British soldiers even brie y dismissed their American allies as being the Allied version of Italians, a reference to the commonly held belief among British troops that the Italians fighting against them were generally lower quality troops than the Germans also facing them.

However, this was soon to change. Eisenhower dismissed Lloyd Fredendall and put General George “Blood and Guts” Patton in command of II Corps in Tunisia. With fresh leadership, there was an almost immediate improvement in morale. On March 16, Patton told his staff, “Gentlemen, tomorrow we attack. If we are not victorious, let no one come back alive.”

Patton Memorial Museum

On April 3, Patton held a meeting in Gafsa with Air Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder to demand that his soldiers receive better air cover; they were interrupted by three Focke-Wulf fighters that strafed the streets and headquarters. Tedder, dusting himself off, inquired how the Germans had managed to achieve this, to which Patton famously replied, “I’ll be damned if I know, but if I could find the sonsabitches who flew those planes, I’d mail each one a medal.”

Patton Bust
Patton Memorial Museum

With new leadership and growing experience, American performance rapidly improved. With vastly superior Allied numbers being brought to bear on the Axis forces, trapped and short of supplies in Tunisia, the battle there was going to end only one way. Von Arnim surrendered on May 12, 1943, and over 250,000 prisoners surrendered, about the same surrendered by Paulus’s Sixth Army at Stalingrad, though the victory at Stalingrad seems to have gotten better press over the decades and remains much better known today.

The Allies now had a secure platform from which they could invade Italy and drive Mussolini out of the war. Churchill commented in his memoirs that one continent had, at that point, been redeemed."  (Source:

Visit the General Patton Memorial Museum ( in the California desert and learn all about it!

For more on Patton see...

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Palm Springs Air Museum

Palm Springs Air Museum
Palm Springs, CA
The Palm Springs Air Museum ( is an awesome place to explore American military aviation history.  A visit to this excellent institution is a reminder of America's proud military tradition in the air and of our superpower status.

Curtis P-40 Warhawk
Palm Springs Air Museum, CA 

The collection is particularly strong in terms of its selection of World War II aircraft.  You will find
P-40s with Flying Tiger markings.
"Angela" B-17
Palm Springs Air Museum

You will find a beautiful B-17 bomber which, for a small donation, can be explored inside and out.  The B-17 was the iconic American bomber of the war.  It saw extensive use in the European and Pacific theaters.  In our book America Invades ( we (authors Kelly / Laycock) noted the crucial role that these planes played over Nazi-occupied Norway in World War II...

"We conducted assorted air operations over occupied Norway. For example, we were part of the campaign to prevent a Nazi atomic bomb. The Germans were attempting to make heavy water for their nascent nuclear program and using a hydroelectric plant in Vermork, Norway, to do so. In 1943, this plant was hit by a 143-plane raid of USAAF B-17s that did extensive damage." 

The thought of Hitler, armed with atomic weapons, is truly terrifying.  But this nightmare could have been a reality had it not been for the work of the US Army Air Corps.

"Mitch the Witch II" (B-25 Mitchell)
Palm Springs Air Museum

Air crews were at liberty to decorate their aircraft with some amazing nose art.  Here are few examples you can find at the Palm Spring Air Museum.
Pretty Polly
Palm Springs Air Museum, CA
King of the Cats
Palm Springs Air Museum

In the Solomon Islands chapter of America Invades (www.americainvades.comwe touched on Lieutenant John F. Kennedy's experience with PT-109.  We wrote...
Lieutenant John F. Kennedy
Palm Springs Air Museum

"In August 1943, JFK’s motor torpedo boat, PT-109, was cut in half by a Japanese destroyer, and members of the crew had to hide on assorted islands in the Solomons until they could be saved in an epic rescue with the help of brave Solomon Islanders. Part of PT-109 was finally located in the waters of the Solomon Islands in 2002." (Source:

In the Alabama chapter of America Invaded: A State by State Guide to Fighting on American Soil we noted this in the Alabama chapter...

Tuskegee Airmen Mural
Palm Springs Air Museum, CA
"The training of African-American airmen at Tuskegee is also a noteworthy feature of Alabama’s war effort during World War II. In March of 1941, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was a passenger in a plane  own by an African-American pilot over Alabama." (Source:

Visitors to the Palm Springs Air Museum ( will discover or be reminded that we Americans have so much to be proud of.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Why Trump should read Chernow's Grant: Open Letter to Trump


Dear Donald,

Your harshest critics have made the suggestion that you do not read intelligence reports, memos, books or much else.  They maintain (correctly) that it is impossible to think deeply if you have not read deeply.  May I, therefore, suggest that you read a copy of Ron Chernow's new biography Grant (

Ulysses S. Grant was, like yourself, a member of that Presidential Club into which only 45 member have been inducted by the American people...thus far.

I am sure that you know of Ron Chernow.  He was the celebrity biographer who wrote the book on which the broadway musical Hamilton was based.  Pence must have told you about being lectured by the cast members...?

You have vowed famously to Make America Great Again (MAGA).  America would never have become great were it not for certain great presidents.

Lincoln was, without question, a great American president.  But even the legendary Lincoln could not have become Lincoln were it not for Grant and the victories he delivered on the battlefield.

Lincoln at 6'4" was an inch taller than you.  "Little" Grant, as you might have called him, was only 5'8".  But greatness has nothing to do with mere altitude.

One of the great "What If" questions about the US Civil War is this: How many lives would have been saved if Lincoln had managed to recruit Robert E. Lee in 1861 to remain a Union general instead of serving with his home state of Virginia?  The Union enjoyed vast material advantages over the Confederacy in the Civil War (population, industry, railroads, naval power) but the Confederates had a clear advantage in terms of military leadership...until Grant.  Lincoln and the Union suffered under a series of mediocre Union commanders from McClellan to Hooker to Burnside.  Robert E. Lee was the greatest Confederate commander of the war.  But Grant was the greatest American commander of the war.

But in 1860 Grant was a nobody who would have been forgotten by history had it not been for the dawn of the Civil War at Fort Sumter in April 1861.  True, he had served with distinction in the Mexican American War.  But he had resigned from the army and was working as a store clerk in Galena Illinois prior to the war.

Like your brother Fred, Ulysses had a drinking problem.  All great men have great problems.  Grant's problem was liquor.  And also business where he proved to be hopelessly naive.  In Grant you will read about how he overcame his drinking problem and learned to reverse his wine glass at dinner parties.  And you will learn about how, after his presidency, he was swindled and nearly bankrupted by Ferdinand Ward who used Grant's good name to fashion a Ponzi scheme.

Ulysses S Grant Bust
"Little" Grant cast a Giant Shadow
Golden Gate Park, SF, CA

Grant led Union forces in the West during the opening stages of the Civil War.  He won decisive victories at Shiloh in Tennessee and at the siege of Vicksburg which effectively cut the Confederacy in two.

In 1864 Grant launched a grinding campaign against Lee in Virginia. In spite of all that Lee could do, Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy, fell.  Grant's wise and generous terms to Lee at Appomattox led to a relatively swift restoration of harmony between northern and southern states.

By 1865 Grant was a conquering hero throughout the Union.  His unparalleled military success (not TV celebrity) elevated him to two terms in the White House serving from 1869 until 1877.  President Grant, the warrior, presided over a period of peace (pace Little Big Horn and various Indian Wars) and expanding prosperity.  Grant's trusting nature led to corruption in what became known as the "Gilded Age".  He accumulated an admirable record in the struggle for the civil rights for former slaves in the teeth of the rising tide of the reaction against reconstruction and the spread of the KKK across the south.  In 1869 Grant appointed Ely Parker, of the Seneca tribe, to become the first Native American head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  Grant was the proper heir to Lincoln.

Grant only married once and his wife Julia was no supermodel.  He doted on Julia Grant who suffered from strabismus giving her crossed eyes.  She fretted that she was a "plain little wife" unworthy of her great husband and sought surgery to correct her condition.  But Grant objected reproving her tenderly: "Did I not see you and fall in love with you with these same eyes?  I like them just as they are, and now, remember, you are not to interfere with them.  They are mine, and let me tell you, Mrs. Grant, you had better not make any experiments, as I might not like you half so well with any other eyes."

Grant was undone more by his friends than his enemies (sound familiar?).  Grateful businessmen in the north began sending him cigars after his initial victories in the Civil War.  He was literally "killed by kindness" dying of throat cancer after consuming thousands of cigars.

Grant, like yourself, was never really an intellectual.  But he was a devoted reader who spent hours reading aloud to his wife from Dickens and others.  Yet, faced with financial ruin and concerned about the fate of his soon to be widow, he threw himself into writing a book.  His memoirs, published by Mark Twain, would become the gold standard among presidential memoirs.

Yes, Donald, Grant was a Republican too!  Check out Grant.  You might like my books too!

Respectfully yours,

Christopher Kelly

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Cost of Kayla

Shanty Cafe RIP
Seattle WA
Born 1914
Closed 2016

Kayla Chadwick wrote a column for the Huffington Post called I Don’t Know How To Explain To You That You Should Care About Other People.  Here is her column...  Here is my response to it...

Kayla is tired. Kayla is fatigued. Kayla supposes that the adherents of one political party is filled with cruel, selfish people who lack empathy. Kayla is perhaps tired after her excessive virtue signaling…?If you don’t agree with Kayla about raising the minimum wage and imposing universal health care then you are in danger of lacking compassion…?

Kayla does does not consider that possibility that raising the minimum wage also raises teenage unemployment levels. Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour in Seattle has cost thousands of jobs in King county and led to the closing of many historic restaurants including the iconic FX McCrory’s just last year.

There are many folks who think much like Kayla in my home town of Seattle. And this has created havoc in the local restaurant scene. Consider the case of the Shanty Cafe. It opened its doors in 1914 serving chicken fried steak and hearty breakfasts to Seattle Patrons. It survived two World Wars, the Great Depression and numerous economic downturns. But it did not survive the increase of the minimum wage to $15 per hour closing its doors in November 2016 ( Where is the compassion for its owner Ginger Crowley? Or the Shanty’s employees? Or its customers?

Its gotten worse since then. In 2017 multiple restaurants closed in Seattle every single month of the year (Of Requiems and Reboots: Seattle Restaurants That Closed in 2017: According to a recent study cited by the Washington Post “the average low-wage worker in the city lost $125 a month because of the hike in the minimum.” (Analysis | A ‘very credible’ new study on Seattle’s $15 minimum wage has bad news for liberals

Nor is the problem limited to Seattle.  An increase in the minimum wage in San Diego, CA also seems to have cost around 4,000 jobs in the restaurant business (San Diego's new minimum wage already may be killing jobs

Kayla boasts about her being a spendthrift informing us that she does not mind paying the extra 4.3% for her fast food lunch if it supports a struggling family. Good for Kayla! That is her choice. The conservative viewpoint is that those who pay attention to pennies will worry less about dollars. Ben Franklin told us that “a penny saved is a penny earned.” The conservative asserts that all of us have a right to care about all of the money we choose to spend — you have a right to be a tightwad in this country!

Kayla is delighted to pay taxes to support public education. Good for Kayla. It seems that she is a property owner paying her property taxes. Anyone who owns property, regardless of political affiliation or the number of children you have, pays to support public education. The more property you own the more you pay to support public education.

A good system of public education is critical to the success of a representative democracy. The problem we have in America is that our public education system routinely fails its citizens. The Left is in the grips of teacher unions such as the NEA and are more concerned with raising teacher salaries than with improving student outcomes. The left also opposes school choice vouchers that offer parents a means of raising standards and outcomes particularly in minority communities.

Kayla tells us that “Poverty should not be a death sentence” and so on. Well no one ever told Kayla that Life itself is a death sentence. Death and taxes are inevitable. The British, who have a Universal health care system, are out in the streets protesting the flaws in their own system. The advisability of adopting a single payer system in the USA is, at a minimum, highly debatable. And those who raise objections to socialized medicine are worthy of being listened to.

A fundamental belief of Conservatism is that All Human Life is Sacred. Black Lives Matter BECAUSE All Lives Matter. Kayla’s column makes her sound like she is a shrill and self righteous twit— a Leftist scold. But we as conservatives must acknowledge that Kayla’s life matters too. Who knows? Someday light may intrude into her seemingly narrow mind and she may consider the possibility that her ideological opponents are human too.

The Left claims to have compassion for working people, minorities and the poor (in spite of harming precisely these groups with by raising the minimum wage, and opposing school choice). But it consistently refuses to speak up for the rights of the voiceless — the unborn. It lacks compassion for the weakest among us.

Kayla’s column is an empty and condescending exercise in self-congratulation; it is a desperate attempt to dehumanize her political opponents by constructing phony straw men. Rather than engaging in argument she prefers to launch personal attacks on her ideological opponents. Sad!

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Monday, January 22, 2018

Austria-Hungary: The Rabbit-Duck

Ludwig Wittgenstein

"Ludwig Wittgenstein, who served in the Austro-Hungarian Army in World War I, ranks among the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century. In his seminal work, Philosophical Investigations, he discussed the ambiguous ways in which we perceive a rabbit-duck image. Austria-Hungary in 1914 may be the ultimate rabbit-duck in history.


Wittgenstein was himself a rabbit-duck—a soldier-philosopher. During World War I, he was decorated for his service as an artillery spotter on the Russian front. He began writing his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus when he was a soldier, and completed it when he was a prisoner of war. In it, he explores the relationship between language and reality.

Austria-Hungary was a diverse rabbit, a polyglot empire with at least nine major languages. Over 40 percent of the Austrian Tyrol that Wells* visited in 1914 was Italian speaking.

Hapsburg Eagle
Trent Cathedral

Yet Austria-Hungary was also a unified duck. Franz Joseph had been the emperor of Austria since his accession to the throne in 1848. In fact, the House of Habsburg, which traced its origins back to Charlemagne, had ruled Austria since the fourteenth century. Hungary became part of that empire in 1867. Because Hungary remained autonomous, Austria-Hungary was also known as the Dual
Monarchy. In 1914, the octogenarian emperor was a popular figure, although his life had been scarred by the suicide of his son Rudolph in 1889 and the assassination of his wife by an anarchist in 1898.
In terms of religion, the Austro-Hungarian rabbit was officially Roman Catholic. The Habsburg dynasty was a bulwark of the Holy Roman Empire. But the Austro-Hungarian duck included large populations of Jews, Orthodox Christians, and even Bosnian Muslims.

Austria-Hungary in 1914 was an empire on the brink of collapse. Many competing minorities were barely held together by an inefficient bureaucratic government.

Austria-Hungary in 1914 was in the midst of a golden age. The Dual Monarchy had a population of more than fifty million, and 80 percent of the population was literate. In 1914, Franz Kafka began writing in Prague. Sigmund Freud was revolutionizing psychology in Vienna. The music of Richard Strauss kept Austrians waltzing. Gustav Mahler’s symphonies sent music in new directions, while Gustav Klimt was transforming the art of painting.

Austria-Hungary was a paranoid police state (rabbit) that arrested an American tourist in Riva.** Austria-Hungary was a bungling state (duck) that allowed the assassination of its crown prince and might have allowed the Serbian prime minister to pass through its borders undetected in July 1914.
Austria-Hungary was the victim of a secret Serbian conspiracy. Austria-Hungary was the bully that invaded tiny Serbia and precipitated World War I.

Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf, the Chief of the General Staff of the Austro-Hungarian Army and Navy, was the Dual Monarchy’s war hawk. From 1906 to 1914, he advised in favor of wars with Serbia, Montenegro, Russia, Romania, and Italy. He advocated war with Serbia no less than twenty- five times during 1913.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand
1863 - 1914
Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the duck to Conrad’s rabbit. The archduke was an advocate for peace and restraint who opposed Conrad at every turn. He told Conrad, “My policy is a policy of peace. Everyone must learn to live with that.” They did for a while. Ferdinand was a reformer who dreamed of creating a “United States of Greater Austria.”

And he might have pulled it off had he not made that fateful visit to Sarajevo in June of 1914."

Source: An Adventure in 1914 (

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* Thomas T. Wells, 1865-1946, New York Lawyer and my great-grandfather

** In August of 1914 the Austrian authorities in Riva briefly arrested Thomas T. Wells.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Invading / Panicking Hawaii

This past Saturday (January 13, 2018) the Hawaiian state government sent its population into a full blown panic after it sent out a warning about an incoming ICBM.  It took 38 minutes for the state to retract its warning which caused major disruption throughout the state.   Some children were even lowered into storm drains for their protection.  The New York Times declared that the "False Missile Alert Looms as Black Eye of Hawaii's Governor."  Fortunately, no one was killed as a result of the false alarm.

Hawaii WAS, of course, famously attacked on December 7, 1941 by the Imperial Japanese Navy.  (See earlier posts...,  And today it may be vulnerable to ICBMs launched from North Korea.  But the Pearl Harbor attack is merely part of the many "invasions" and fighting that has touched Hawaii over the course of its history.  We detailed the full story in the Hawaii chapter of America Invaded: A State by State Guide to Fighting on American Soil (

"The beautiful islands of Hawaii are a popular modern-day tourist destination, where mainlanders go to escape stress, sip mai tais, and find a slice of paradise under the sun. But these islands have seen their share of fighting and invasions.

Around 1,500 years ago, Polynesian people first arrived in the Hawaiian Islands.  These hardy souls had journeyed 2,000 miles in outrigger canoes from other Pacific islands.

The Hawaiian culture was feudal and warlike.  The Hawaiian word for warrior is koa. Koa, lacking metallurgy, armed themselves with stone, wood, and even shark’s teeth.  Their principal weapon was the pololu—a long wooden spear that a warrior also used to vault forward. Warfare was highly ritualized process. Being a successful warrior enhanced a koa’s prestige or manu.

Interisland and civil wars flared up in the Hawaiian Islands almost continuously during the eighteenth century.  The Kona-Hilo war, for example, was fought between 1700 –1720 on the big island of Hawaii until it was resolved by a political marriage. During 1776, the year America declared her independence from Britain, the third Hawaii-Maui war was being fought.  This conflict featured an unsuccessful invasion of Maui by natives of the Big Island.

Captain Cook

In 1778, with the arrival of Captain Cook at Waimea Bay on the island of Kauai, two warrior cultures collided in mutual misunderstanding. Captain Cook of Britain’s Royal Navy was on his third voyage of exploration. His preferred technique for dealing with native populations was a combination of bluff, hostage taking, and firepower.

In his Journals, Cook explicitly described how his exploration method could be construed or misconstrued as an invasion:

We attempt to land in a peaceable manner, if this succeeds its well, if not we land nevertheless and maintain the footing we thus got by the Superiority of our  re arms, in what other light can they than at  first look upon us but as invaders of their Country; time and some acquaintance with us can only convince them of their mistake.

At first the Hawaiians regarded Cook with reverence. Many prostrated themselves at his feet, and some may have taken him for the god Lono. Some of the women were eager to trade sex for nails. His two ships were restocked with fresh water, fruits, and vegetables. Cook christened Hawaii the Sandwich Islands in honor of his patron, the Earl of Sandwich.

Cook departed the islands to voyage north to Alaska, but returned to Kealakekua on the Big Island in February of 1779. His ship, the Resolution, had a broken mast that needed repairing. Cook described the native Hawaiians in glowing terms: “these people trade with the least suspicion of any Indians I ever met ... It is also remarkable that they have never once attempted to cheat us in exchanges or once to commit a theft.”

Cook Monument

The death of Cook on February 14, 1779, in Hawaii remains something of a mystery to this day. His crew had earlier taken some sacred wooden palings from the Hawaiians for use as firewood.  is distressed the native people. Cook’s attempt to seize a local priest mis red badly. A mob of Hawaiians gathered. Cook  red his two pistols. He was stabbed with an iron dagger, which must have been procured or stolen from one of his ships. Four royal marines were also killed in the skirmish. Cook’s body was seized by the Hawaiians, mutilated, and partially devoured. Today, a white obelisk commemorates the spot near where Cook fell.

After Cook’s death, Hawaii’s greatest king rose to power. From 1783 to 1796, King Kamehameha led his people in the thirteen-year war of Unification.  is war was fought with muskets and gunpowder, and the king employed Westerners to help train his army.

King Kamehameha

The  first threats to the independence of the Hawaiian kingdom did not come from Britain or America. Astonishingly, they came from the Russians and the French. Georg Anton Schäffer, a German doctor working for the Russian-American Company, led an attempted invasion of Hawaii in 1816. Schäffer ordered the crew of the Myrtle, a Russian vessel, to build a fort near Honolulu Harbor. He also built Fort Hipo on Kauai. King Kamehameha had Schäffer and the Russians evicted from Hawaii in 1817.  The ruins of Fort Hipo are visible on Kauai today.

King Kamehameha died in 1819.  The following year, American missionaries began arriving in Hawaii.  They softened some of the warlike ways of the Hawaiians. Boxing, for example, was banned, though less on account of the violence than due to the gambling the sport engendered.

Protestant missionaries also managed to convince the Queen Regent Ka’ahumanu to have Catholicism made illegal.  is led directly to a brief French “invasion,” or rather, extortion of Hawaii. In 1839, Captain Cyrille Laplace of the French Navy’s L’Artémise arrived in Honolulu. Laplace insisted that the Hawaiian kingdom pay reparations of $20,000 for their affront to French Catholic interests, or his frigate would bombard their coast. Lacking a modern navy, the kingdom paid the ransom. In 1839, King Kamehameha III passed laws granting religious tolerance.

In 1843, the British captain of the Carysfort, Lord George Paulet, arrived in Honolulu and made a series of demands on the Hawaiian crown.  The Hawaiian  flag was lowered and the Union Jack was raised over Oahu. Later that year, Rear Admiral Richard  Thomas arrived in Honolulu and declared that Paulet had exceeded his authority.  The British impact on Hawaii (or the Sandwich Islands) persists to this day, however, with the presence of the Union Jack in one quadrant of its state flag.

American sugar planters arrived in the islands soon after the missionaries. American influence also spread from the West Coast of North America to the shores of Hawaii.

The US Civil War meant an economic boom for Hawaii, which supplied sugar, beef, salt, and more to the Union Army. King Kamehameha IV remained officially neutral during the war.  Native Hawaiians, however, served on both sides during the war. About thirty veterans of the Union Army are buried in Oahu Cemetery. Twelve Hawaiians served on board the CSS Shenandoah, a merchant raider that terrorized Union ships in the Pacific.

The late nineteenth century saw a period of increasing political turmoil in the Hawaiian kingdom. In a series of rebellions, political and commercial interests clashed over the future of the kingdom.  en, in 1893, a rebel militia called the Honolulu Rifles and led by Lorrin A. Thurston, a grandson of American missionaries, launched a coup d’état against Queen Liliuokalani. A landing party of marines and sailors from the USS Boston came ashore, ostensibly to protect US lives and property. It took no active part in the coup, but was perceived by many as a sign of support for it. Finally, in order to prevent bloodshed, the queen ordered her forces to surrender, and Hawaii was declared a republic. In 1993, in the centenary year of the coup, Congress passed a resolution apologizing for US involvement in it.

The start of the Spanish American War in 1898 dramatized the strategic importance of Hawaii. US Navy ships passed through Pearl Harbor to re-coal on their way to the war in the Philippines. Admiral Dewey defeated the Spanish fleet at the Battle of Manila Bay. When the Philippines became an American colony, the critical, strategic need for Pearl Harbor was evident.

Finally in 1898, President McKinley annexed the Hawaiian Islands, which became an American territory. On August 12, 1898, soldiers of the First New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment arrived on Oahu.

Hawaii kept the  flame of its monarchical past alive even after annexation. In 1916, the 32nd Infantry Regiment, also known as the Queen’s Own, was mustered at Schofield Barracks. The only royal regiment in the US Army marched on parade before the former queen.

From 1925 until 1927 George Patton served as an officer at the Schofield Barracks in Honolulu. Based on his Hawaiian experience, Patton authored a 1937 report in which he prophesied, “The unheralded arrival during a period of profound peace of a Japanese expeditionary force within 200 miles of Oahu during darkness; this force to be preceded by submarines who will be in the immediate vicinity of Pearl Harbor.... An air attack by [ Japanese] navy fighters and carrier borne bombers on air stations and the submarine base using either gas or incendiary bombs.”

On December 7, 1941, Patton’s prediction came true. Two-man midget submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy managed to penetrate Pearl Harbor undetected. One was sunk by the USS Ward, an antiquated World War I US Navy destroyer.  The  flotilla of midget subs did no real damage, and Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki, the only survivor, washed up on shore at Waimanalo Beach, where he became the  first Japanese prisoner of war captured by the Americans in World War II.

USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, HI

Shortly after 7:00 a.m. on the “Day of Infamy,” a large concentration of aircraft was detected by Oahu radar stations that were monitored by the Army Signal Corps. Misinterpreted as the B-17s scheduled to arrive that day at Hickam Field from California, the aircraft were not seen as a threat and no warning was sounded. Admiral Nagumo’s  flight of torpedo planes and bombers escorted by Zeros began their attack on Battleship Row.  The Arizona blew up after a hit near turret II and sank to her final resting place. Four battleships in all were sunk, and many more ships were damaged. Of the American planes on the ground, 188 were destroyed. Over 2,400 Americans were killed in Hawaii that day.

Fortunately, no US aircraft carriers were in Pearl Harbor. Admiral Nagumo, fearing for the safety of the six carriers in Operation Z, declined to order a second air attack. As a result, the vital fuel tanks on Oahu were not destroyed.

Japanese Zero
FHCAM Everett, WA

Admiral Yamamoto’s bold plan to strike at Hawaii had scored a devastating blow against the United States.  The Imperial Japanese forces would “run wild in Pacific for the next six months,” just as Yamamoto had predicted. But Japan had awakened a sleeping giant that was finally united and bent on swift vengeance. “Remember Pearl Harbor” became the rallying cry across all of America.
After December 7, Hawaii lived in fear of an imminent invasion that never really happened. Unlike the West Coast of the United States, however, the territory of Hawaii did not imprison its population of Japanese Americans, many of whom served loyally in US forces.

Nonetheless, although many know about December 7, 1941, few realize that there was a second Japanese attack on Hawaii during the war.

On March 1, 1942, the Japanese launched a second, much smaller air attack on Pearl Harbor. It involved coordination between the air and submarine arms of the Imperial Navy. A pair of Kawasaki H8K1  flying boats  flew from Wotje Atoll in the Marshall Islands to rendezvous with two large Japanese submarines at French Frigate Shoals.  is time, American radar detected the incoming aircraft and sounded the alert. Curtiss P-40 Warhawk  fighter planes were scrambled. One Japanese plane dropped its ordinance harmlessly on Mount Tantalus near Honolulu.  e other dropped its payload in the ocean miles from any target. The boldly conceived Japanese plan was well executed, but it also lacked proper intelligence and was ineffective.

The loss of four Japanese aircraft carriers at the Battle of Midway on June 7, 1942 (with an American loss of only one carrier), was a turning point in the war in the Pacific. Never again during the war would the Japanese credibly menace Hawaii.

In 1959, Hawaii became the fiftieth and, thus far, final state to be admitted to the Union.
During the Cold War, Soviet submarines would prowl off the coast of Hawaii. On March 6, 1968, the Soviet Navy’s K-129, a diesel submarine equipped with ballistic missiles, sank with all hands about 1,500 miles from Oahu."

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