Monday, July 24, 2017

Captain Cook...Invader or Explorer?

Captain Cook Memorial
Westminster Abbey, London, UK

Was Britain's Captain Cook (1728 -1779) an explorer or an invader?  The intrepid captain from Yorkshire circumnavigated the globe, cruised all around the vast Pacific ocean and was an extraordinary navigator.  Cook left his mark on geography and on the world.

Cook Plaque
 London, UK
Cook lived for many years in the East end  of London though, sadly, his home no longer exists.  Near the site of his home is a green grocer.  A plaque marks the spot where his home was.

In the Alaska chapter of America Invaded: A State by State Guide to Fighting on American Soil (www.americainvaded.comwe noted...

"In June of 1778, Captain James Cook of the HMS Resolution sailed into the inlet that now bears his name. He explored Alaskan waters, searching in vain for a northwest passage. In his Journals, Cook wrote that “several of the Natives paid us a visit, and brought with them a few skins some pieces of Salmon and Holibut which they exchanged with our people for old cloaths or whatever they could get” (sic). Cook traded with the wary natives, but did not really fight them. He also discovered evidence of Russian contact with the native tribes."

Captain Cook
1728 - 1779
And in the Hawaii chapter we observed...

"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 fire 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 Monument
Hawaii
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.”

Captain Cook Plaque
Hawaii
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. This distressed the native people. Cook’s attempt to seize a local priest misfired badly. A mob of Hawaiians gathered. Cook fired 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."

Was Cook an explorer or an invader?  Clearly he was both.  In the Introduction to America Invaded: A State by State Guide to Fighting on American Soil we write, "The boundary between exploration and invasion can be a fine line determined largely by one's perspective."   Cook saw himself as an explorer and a captain of the Royal Navy.  The native Hawaiians, however, ultimately saw him as an invader.


Travel Notes: The plaque marking Cook's home can be found today in London's East end near Whitechapel.  The Cook Monument on the Big Island of Hawaii is NOT accessible by car.  I remember a taking a beautiful hike down to the beach where the monument can be found.  The only other way to get there is to take a boat to it.  Well worth the visit if you can make it!



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In London at Cook's home



Wednesday, July 19, 2017

JFK and Ensign Fujita


JFK Poster
Kennedy Presidential Library, Boston, MA


2017 marks the centennial of the birth of John F. Kennedy who was born on May 29, 1917.  The 35th President of the United States famously served on a PT Boat in the US Navy during World War II.  JFK earned the Purple heart as a result of the injuries he sustained while commanding PT-109.  Most tales of JFK are well known but very few know about how JFK's life intersected with another veteran of the Pacific War in World War II who happened to fight as a member of the Imperial Japanese Navy -- Ensign Fujita.

In the Solomon Islands chapter of America Invades (www.americainvades.com) we noted...

JFK and Crew of PT-109
JFK Library, Boston, MA

"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."

In the Oregon chapter of America Invaded: A State by State Guide to
Fighting on American Soil 
we discussed another naval veteran of World War II in the Pacific...

"Chief Warrant Officer Nobuo Fujita was the first and only officer serving in Axis forces to attack the US mainland from the air. He did so on September 9, 1942, with an E14Y1 reconnaissance floatplane that cruised at eighty-five miles per hour and carried 340 pounds of ordinance. Fujita’s goal was to set Oregon forests ablaze with incendiary bombs. Thermite charges were dropped on Mount Emily in the Klamath Mountains near the town of Brookings. Fujita launched a second bombing run near Port Orford on September 29. Recent rain prevented either attack from igniting serious wildfires.

On both attacks, Fujita had brought with him on his seaplane his prized four-hundred-year-old samurai sword. In 1962, amidst some controversy among veterans, Fujita returned to Oregon and apologized for his wartime mission by presenting his samurai sword to the mayor of Brookings in Curry County (named after Governor Curry). Even President Kennedy had been consulted to approve Fujita’s visit to the United States. The man who bombed America campaigned for peace and understanding between America and Japan, even helping to endow a scholarship that brought many Oregon students to Japan. His sword, a symbol of war and reconciliation, can be found today in the Chetco Public Library in Brookings."

Fujita Sword
Chetco Public Library, Brookings, OR

JFK's decision to admit Fujita to the United States was controversial in many quarters.  Some in Oregon protested the visit by a Japanese warrior who had bombed their home state.  In JFK's centennial year it seems appropriate to remember that JFK demonstrated wisdom and generosity of spirit by allowing Fujita into the United States.

JFK Library
Boston, MA

Travel Notes: The JFK Library in Boston, Massachusetts is a gem (www.jfklibrary.org).  JFK has many hagiographers and more than a few detractors.  What I really appreciate about this Presidential Library is that it delivers a big slice of unfiltered and unmediated JFK.  There are many recordings of JFK's speeches, many of his letters and many of his treasured possessions -- such as the cocoanut he found on the Solomon Islands in WW2.  Nor does the library overdue JFK's assassination which is treated tastefully and sparingly.  Those interested in history's least mysterious mystery can find much at the 6th Floor Museum in Dallas, TX...http://americanconservativeinlondon.blogspot.com/2013/07/jfk-6th-floor-museum.html

Chetco Public Library
Brookings, OR
Chetco Public Library (http://chetcolibrary.org/): I am delighted to announce that I will be returning to the Chetco Public Library in Brookings, OR on Wednesday, September 27 at 6:00pm to give a talk about our newest book America Invaded: A State by State Guide to Fighting on American Soil.



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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

America Invaded Reviewed!



The Midwest Book Review has this to say about America Invaded: A State by State Guide to Fighting on American Soil...


"Synopsis: "America Invaded: A State by State Guide to Fighting on American Soil", by history buffs Christopher Kelly and Stuart Laycock answer such interesting questions as to why some towns in Texas have French names, why there's a statue of a Shawnee chief at the US Naval Academy, what coastal wildlife refuges have to do with American fears of invasion, what the Olive Oil Riot in Montana was really all about, and so many more.

Ever since they first set foot on the North American continent, humans have explored, discovered, established boundaries (and subsequently invaded) all across the North American territory we now call the United States. In "America Invaded", Kelly and Laycock have effectively and knowledgeably track some of the many explorations and invasions that founded or destroyed towns, that set and reset state lines, and that shaped the peoples and culture of our nation.

Critique: Unique, informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "America Invaded: A State by State Guide to Fighting on American Soil" is an inherently fascinating read and will prove to be an extraordinary and highly prized addition to the personal reading lists of American history buffs, as well as an unusual and enduringly popular addition to both community and academic library American History collections and supplemental studies reading lists."

Thanks Midwest Book Review!


Foreword Reviews says that America Invaded is …”Easy to browse and 
easy to enjoy!”

"America Invaded by Christopher Kelly and Stuart Laycock offers an intriguing tour of past conflicts waged on American soil, from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Arranged alphabetically by state, the book is easy to browse and easy to enjoy. Each conflict is introduced with background information that puts events in context. While some parts of the country—especially those involved both in the Revolution and the Civil War—can lay claim to more battles than others, the text does a fair job of giving equal attention to each state, no matter its size or the bounty of its history.
The difficulty of delivering an account that is simultaneously correct, relevant, and comprehensive for all fifty states sometimes shows, as when major battles are covered in a few paragraphs and small ones are expanded for the sake of balance. 

Compressing a lot of facts into a few paragraphs, as in the case of Southern states that saw many decisive Civil War battles, can give the text a rushed feel, but the authors occasionally pause to insert passages from original sources, such as Ulysses S. Grant’s memoirs or lines from Custer’s last message from the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

The advantage of the book’s broad reach is that it shines a light on small incidents that are shoveled aside in many books. Contrary to the supposition that American soil was never touched during the World War II, America Invaded chronicles a number of German U-boats that were sighted or sunk off the east coast as well as the Gulf coast. An even lesser-known assault came from the Japanese, who launched innumerable balloon bombs that were to land in North America and set fire to the forests of Canada and the Pacific Northwest. Years later, unexploded bombs were still being found as far east as the Mississippi River…

Maps…are excellent, with an appealing, easy-to-read graphic style and historical sites—such as forts and battles—clearly marked. A two-page bibliography of suggested reading is also included, and a good guide for those who want to broaden their knowledge of events covered in the book.

America Invaded is a fun jumping-off point for discussions about history."

Thanks Foreword Reviews!



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Monday, July 10, 2017

USS Midway

"Invading" the USS Midway
San Diego, CA

Last month marked the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Battle of Midway which turned the tide of war decisively against the Japanese in World War II (http://americanconservativeinlondon.blogspot.com/2017/06/midway-75.html).

US Naval Aviation WW2

The USS Midway (CV- 41) is an aircraft carrier that was commissioned in September 1945 -- immediately following the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay.  She did not really serve in World War II but she did serve for  forty-seven years until being decommissioned in 1992.  The USS Midway saw action during the Vietnam War and during the Gulf War.  Today she is a museum ship berthed in San Diego, CA where she attracts around 5,000 visitors per day (http://www.midway.org/).

Posing on board the Midway

On board the Midway visitors will learn about the mechanics of carrier take-offs and landings. An aircraft carrier is the most formidable weapon in the arsenal of the US Navy.  The mission of an aircraft carrier is to project power ashore.  During the Gulf War the USS Midway was the flagship of US naval forces in the theatre.



An aircraft carrier is a floating city with a total crew of around five thousand sailors and officers.   A carrier was equipped with medical facilities, weight rooms and a complement of US Marines.  Contrary to popular myth, carriers did not have a McDonalds on board ship!

USS Midway, San Diego, CA

The USS Midway, like US carriers today, went on many "Tiger cruises" that welcomed on board the immediate family members of serving navy personnel.

Explore our nation's history and proud military tradition with a visit to the USS Midway.


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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Battle of San Pascual

Stained Glass US Troops
San Pascual Battlefield
Visitor Center

The battles of the American Revolution and the US Civil War were not fought in California.  But important battles were fought in the state of California.  Perhaps the most important land battle ever fought in California was the Battle of San Pascual which was fought in southern California in December of 1846 during the Mexican-American War.  General Stephen Kearny had marched his American forces overland from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas all the way to San Diego which was, at the time controlled by Mexico and populated by the Californios.



We wrote this in the California chapter of America Invaded: A State by State Guide to Fighting on American Soil (www.americainvaded.com)...

Stained Glass Californios Lancer
San Pascual Battlefield
Visito Center

"The bloodiest battle of the American invasion of California was fought on December 6, 1846, at San Pasqual, between General Kearny’s forces and the Californios, led by Pico. Nineteen Americans were killed in the fifteen- minute-long engagement, most pierced by the willow lances of the mounted Californios, who were excellent horsemen. Kearny himself was wounded, but his regulars forced the Californios to withdraw. Casualties among the Californios are unknown.The intervention of naval and marine forces would quickly overwhelm the resistance of the Californio forces. Frémont and Pico negotiated the Treaty of Cahuenga, which ended the fighting in California. Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles honors the family of the Californio leader."

Canon
San Pascual Battlefield, CA
Who won the battle of San Pascual?  The question still remains in doubt.  The Californios inflicted greater casualties on the Americans.  But the Californios ultimately withdrew from the field of battle. California was acquired by the United States as a part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended Polk's Mexican-American War.

Clam Pizza
Tomasso's on Kearney, SF, CA


A visitor to San Francisco today can order a clam pizza at Tomasso's Restaurant (http://www.tommasos.com/) on Kearny street near north beach.  Similarly a tourist can see the sites along Polk street in the city by the bay.  The American invasion of 1846 in California have left their marks upon this land.

Kit Carson statue
San Pascual Battlefield, CA
The battle is also noteworthy for the participation of Kit Carson, the legendary western scout who supported the American forces in the battle sneaking through Californio lines to get assistance from the US Navy.

James K Polk
America's most significant one term President

Today the Battlefield of San Pascual is a California State park is supported by volunteers and only open on weekends (http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=655).  The nearest town is Escondido which lies about 30 miles north of San Diego.  After my recent visit to the visitor center I walked around the dusty trail which had many suspicious looking holes along the trail.  Many signs warned about the presence of rattlesnakes.

San Pascual Battlefield, CA

Beautiful views of the area could be gained from the heights of San Pascual.

Commander Kelly suggests that you wear boots while exploring the nearly forgotten history of California at the San Pascual Battlefield.



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Monday, July 3, 2017

Patton in Pasadena

Patton Home
1220 Patton Court
San Marino, CA
In 2017 Patton must be remembered on account of his dashing and aggressive leadership in World War II that saved countless lives and helped to shorten the duration of the war in Europe.

George S. Patton jr. grew up in Pasadena California.  He was born in 1885 to a wealthy California family.  He enjoyed riding horses in the hills around Pasadena.  His childhood home at 1220 Patton Court in San Marino today is a private residence that is not open to the public (his sister Anne Wilson Patton, "Nita", lived there until her death in 1971.

Patton Court
San Marino, CA
Patton's family had a strong military tradition.  His great uncle had served in the Confederate Army in the US Civil and was killed in Pickett's charge at the battle of Gettysburg.  Patton attended West Point where he did well in spite of his dyslexia.  Patton also competed as pentathlete at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm.

Church of Our Savior
Patton's Church
San Gabriel, CA

Patton's first military experience took place in 1916 during President Wilson's undeclared war against Pancho Villa.  We noted this in the Mexico chapter of America Invades...

"Wilson intervened again in Mexico in 1916, this time to strike at Pancho Villa, a notorious bandit leader who had launched a series of raids along the US-Mexico border. Brigadier General John Pershing was sent to lead the Punitive Expedition from New Mexico into Chihuahua. Pershing was a tough veteran of Indian wars and the Moro uprising in the Philippines (see “Philippines”), who would later lead the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. A young George S. Patton Jr., whose
attractive sister "Nita" (Anne Wilson Patton) was dating the widower Pershing, was detailed to Pershing’s staff.

Pancho Villa, as it turned out, proved to be somewhat elusive, but Patton, leading a small patrol, participated in a skirmish at San Miguelito in which three Villistas were killed. When about fifty Villistas approached the hacienda, Patton beat a hasty retreat with the three dead men strapped across his automobile hood. Patton was promoted to first lieutenant."

In the Morocco chapter of America Invades we noted that seventy five years ago Patton led American forces in an invasion of Morocco...

Patton Statue
Church of Our Savior, San Gabriel, CA
"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...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.

Patton also turned out to be a surprisingly successful diplomat when he served as the putative viceroy of Morocco. He wrote to the sultan of Morocco assuring him they came as friends, not as conquerors, and did not intend to stay after the war. Patton frequently entertained the sultan (whom he referred to as "Sa Majesté") and escorted him on inspection trips."

Patton Window
Church of Our Savior, San Gabriel, CA
In Tunisia American forces were initially humiliated by the Germans at the Battle of Kasserine Pass.  "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.”

On April 3 1943, 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.”

"I have finished my course"
Detail Patton Stained Glass Window
Church of our Savior,  San Gabriel, CA

Patton did not participate directly in D-Day on June 6, 1944.  But he famously led the 3rd US Army in France and northern Europe.  In America Invades we noted his remarkable leadership of American forces in France.  "As commander of the US Third Army after D-Day, Patton, led an army that advanced farther and faster than just about any army in military history, crossing twenty-four major rivers and capturing 81,500 square miles of territory, including more than twelve thousand cities and towns. Patton loved to quote Danton who said, “De l’audace, et encore de l’audace, toujours de l’audace!” (“Audacity, more audacity, always audacity”)."



Patton's accomplishments are celebrated in a stained glass window of an Episcopal church.  The Church of Our Savior (www.churchofoursaviour.org/) celebrated its 150th anniversary in April of 2017.  Patton and his family worshipped in this church over many years.  Note the green swastikas which were used in this window -- not something one sees everyday in an Episcopal church!

The Author at Patton's grave
Luxembourg American Cemetery

Patton's grave can be found in the Luxembourg American Memorial cemetery in Hamm Luxembourg (http://americanconservativeinlondon.blogspot.com/2017/03/invading-luxembourg.html).


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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Midway + 75


Japanese Zero

Seventy-five years ago this month the Battle of Midway was fought in the Pacific by the Imperial Japanese Navy and the US Navy.

Jimmy Doolittle Bust
IWM Duxford, UK
The Japanese launched the Midway campaign as a direct result of Jimmy Doolittle's raid on Tokyo.  The defensive perimeter of the Empire needed to be expanded in order to prevent further American raids onto the home islands.  In the Midway campaign Japanese forces struck north seizing the Aleutian islands of Attu and Kiska.  The US had no carriers assigned to the Alaskan theater.  Dutch Harbor was bombed.  American soil was invaded and occupied.

But the major thrust of the campaign was aimed at Midway Atoll -- a small island in the Hawaiian archipelago.  Control of this island would allow Japanese land based bombers to strike Pearl Harbor at will.

Admiral Chester Nimitz

The Battle of Midway was fought over three days from June 4 to June 7.  Chester Nimitz of Fredericksburg Texas was in command of US Naval forces.  The result was a decisive American victory.  Four Japanese aircraft carriers were sunk while the Americans lost only one carrier -- the Yorktown.

Midway meant that Japan would never again contest naval supremacy in the Pacific.  As a result of the battle Japan would be forced to fight a defensive struggle to hold onto the massive territorial gains it had made in the six months since the Pearl Harbor attack.

1942 was the turning point of the war.  Prior to 1942 the Axis was triumphant on all fronts.  During 1942 the Axis lost at Midway, at El Alamein in the Egyptian desert and at Stalingrad.  After 1942 the Axis had no major victories. World History turned decisively at Midway seventy-five years ago.

The "inevitability" of Allied victory is a illusion caused by the passage of time and a failure of the imagination.  Those sailors, officers and airmen at Midway, regardless of which side on which they fought, certainly did not enjoy any feeling of inevitable victory or defeat.

Midway was a Japanese strategic roll of the dice that came up craps.



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Monday, June 19, 2017

Waterloo Day

Duke of Wellington
London, UK

June 18th is known as Waterloo day.  Many in the UK still celebrate and remember their nation's victory against Napoleon and the French on June 18, 1815.  The Duke of Wellington was rewarded with a fine house (http://americanconservativeinlondon.blogspot.com/2013/12/apsley-house.html) by a grateful nation went on the become Prime Minister of Britain.

Napoleon
London Underground

Most Americans do not give Waterloo Day much thought.  Americans DID, however, serve at the Battle of Waterloo.  We mentioned one American who served in a prominent capacity at Waterloo in the Belgium chapter of America Invades...

Duke of Wellington
London Underground

"In June of 1815, Sir William Howe De Lancey and his new bride, Magdalene Hall, were invited, but did not attend, the famous Duchess of Richmond’s ball in Brussels that preceded the Battle of Waterloo. De Lancey, born in New York City, served as the British Duke of Wellington’s deputy quartermaster general in the Waterloo campaign. His father, Stephen De Lancey, had also served as an officer in the 1st New Jersey Loyal Volunteers in the American Revolution. Sadly, while accompanying the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo on June 18, 1815, De Lancey was struck by a bouncing canon ball and fatally wounded."



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