01/02/19 – Off To War




Not exactly “The Right Stuff.”

I had a little bit of rum tonight, which makes every idea a good idea. Fortunately my detailed follow-through is crummy when I do.



  1. Peter Rogan

    War without shooting is indeed more dangerous than you know.

    With the centennial of the Armistice concluding the Great War came a resurgence of the bitter reports of American officers, who KNEW the shooting would stop at 11 a.m. on November 11th 1918, prodding their troops into battle to seize as much land as possible from the Germans before the deadline. Their motives were disgustingly personal; they hoped to win notice from their superiors for their ‘gallantry’ and their drive to keep fighting to the actual last minute. It was all for nought; the Armistice line had already been drawn and the Germans were to retreat to it within a specified time. I believe it was two days. No ground was actually ‘liberated.’ No ‘glory’ accrued to the men fighting.

    Some of the assaults were deliberately timed to take advantage of what were expected to be German moves to take men out of the trenches out of American artillery range and to simplify the process of withdrawal. Which meant they were not expecting the Americans to attack into the sun and their positions. With bad news from home (food riots were spreading, the Kaiser had abdicated, and Communists and others were rioting in the streets of Berlin and elsewhere), a good many Germans did not oblige by giving up meaningless ‘gains’ and stood and fought and died in place as the American junior commanders hoped and wished they would. When the guns stopped, several thousand more men were dead than if they had simply waited in place without shooting. But then, there would have been no chance for officer battlefield promotions.

    Quite a few medals were awarded for these last-minute actions, in a war that was about to end. And only one Congressional investigation afterward, that decided the real issue was getting the troops home again, those that had survived, and dealing with charges of improper aggression in wartime later. Much later. So even wars with deadlines are lethal when they’re not supposed to be. As Yuri knows from personal experience, as should Nogg, the blunderer.

    1. Thank you for that history nugget, Peter! I had not known that, but not especially surprised either. Contrasted with the Christmas battlefield stand-downs earlier, it has a bitter poignancy that tastes a bit like Viet Nam.
      After all is said, “Who wants to be the last warrior to die in {insert conflict here}, to no purpose whatsoever?”
      When well-wishers say to me “Thanks for your service,” I tell them that I would prefer “Glad you made it back alive!”
      So many didn’t, and so many more did, but so ruined that their suicides annually approach parity with deaths ‘over there’.
      Visit any VA hospital on any holiday or anniversary you care to, tell us what you find.
      Know Peace, and a Happier New Year!

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