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.

You can find signed copies of our books at 
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