American Elephants


D-Day Through German Eyes by The Elephant's Child

In one of the posts on D-Day on and around June 6th, I came across a review of a new book, or rather 2 books on the German side of D-Day. The books are D-Day Through German Eyes and D-Day Through German Eyes—Book 2, by Holger Eckhertz. The author’s grandfather was a journalist for German news magazines during World War II. In the spring of 1944, prior to D-Day, he toured sections of the so-called Atlantic Wall, including the Normandy beaches, and interviewed soldiers from units in the area. About ten years later, he determined to track down the soldiers he had interviewed or at least someone from their units and interview them again about their experience during the invasion.

The books are apparently available only as E-books, and are in interview format, that is questions and answers—small vignettes of individual soldier’s experiences. The review isn’t long, and includes some surprising bits of information. The Germans did not expect an invasion at the Normandy beaches, the Allies had control of the air right from the beginning. The German troops were third rate troops, generally soldiers that because of a medical or psychiatric condition were no longer regular infantry, but there were also troops who had defected from the Soviets. They were surprised at the physical size of the American and Canadian troops, presumably because of better diet.

Do read the whole thing. It’s surprising and interesting.  It seems that the Germans were working on a thermobaric weapon — I had to look up the unfamiliar term.  A thermobaric weapon is a type of explosive that utilizes oxygen from the surrounding air to generate an intense, high-temperature explosion, and in practice the blast wave of such a weapon produces a typically significantly longer duration than a conventional condensed explosive. The fuel-air bomb is one of the most well-known types of thermobaric weapons. Fortunately, a stray Allied Bomb inadvertently destroyed to development works.



A Word for Our Fellow Members of NATO: by The Elephant's Child

You have heard President Trump saying that the nations of NATO need to step up and meet their commitments. There are 28 member nations in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization who have agreed, as a condition of their membership, to spend at least 2% of their gross domestic product on defense.  That goal was set to include only a small percentage of GDP, and to avoid putting too big a burden on smaller countries.

Only five: The United States 3.61%, Greece 2.38%, Britain 2.21%, Estonia 2.16%, and Poland 2% actually meet that obligation. The other 23 countries do not. They range from France 1.78% down to the bottom five: Canada 0.99%, Slovenia o.94%, Spain o.91%, Belgium 0.85%, and Luxembourg 0.44%. The numbers come from 2016 figures supplied by NATO.

Defense Secretary James Mattis told the assembled Defense Ministers:

I owe it to you all to give you clarity on the political reality in the United States, and to state the fair demand from my country’s people in concrete terms. America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to the alliance, each of your capitals needs to show its support for our common defense.

President Trump’s complaint about NATO would seem to be on solid ground, and Secretary Mattis is direct and simple.  With all the absurd claims and accusations going around, it’s nice to clear that particular one up.



June 6, 1944, D-Day. Piper Bill Millin Pipes The Invasion Forces Ashore by The Elephant's Child

Bill Millin, Lord Lovat’s personal piper, is pictured here ready to jump from the ramp of the landing craft into the icy water of Sword beach on June 6, D–Day, 1944.  Lord Lovat is thigh-deep in the water just to the left of Bill Millin’s arm.  As the Telegraph obituary says: “As the Cameron tartan of his kilt floated to the surface he struck up with Hieland Laddie.  He continued to pipe even as the man behind him was hit, dropped into the sea and sank.”

Millin said “I was so relieved of getting off that boat after all night being violently sick.  When I finished, Lovat asked for another tune.  Well, when I looked round — the noise and people lying about shouting and the smoke, the crump of mortars, I said to myself  “Well, you must be joking surely.” He said “What was that?” and he said “Would you mind giving us a tune?” “Well, what tune would you like, Sir?” “How about The Road to the Isles?” “Now, would you want me to walk up and down, Sir?” “Yes, That would be nice.  Yes, walk up and down.”

And that’s what Bill Millin did, walked up and down the invasion beach at water’s edge, blasting out a series of tunes.  Bodies of the fallen were drifting to and fro in the surf.  Soldiers were trying to dig in and, when they heard the pipes, many of them waved and cheered — though one came up to Millin and called him “a mad bastard.”

For many soldiers, the piper provided a unique boost to morale.  “I shall never forget hearing the skirl of Bill Millin’s pipes” said One, Tom Duncan, many years later.  “It is hard to describe the impact it had.  It gave us a great lift and increased our determination.  As well as the pride we felt, it reminded us of home and why we were there fighting for our lives and those of our loved ones.”

After the Great War the War Office had banned pipers from leading soldiers into battle after losses had become too great. “Ah, but that’s the English War Office,” Lovat told Millin.  You and I are both Scottish and that doesn’t apply.”  Millin was the only piper on D-Day.

Millin died on August 17, aged 88.  He piped the invasion forces on to the shores of France, unarmed apart from the ceremonial dagger in his stocking.  The mayor of Colleville-Montgomery, a town on Sword Beach , has offered a site for a life-size statue of Millin opposite the place where he landed on D-Day.  The statue is due to be unveiled next year. His pipes are in the Scottish War Museum.

Bill Millin’s personal account of D-Day is found here, and the Telegraph’s obituary is here. Millin has been justly famous in all accounts of the D-Day invasion, especially his courageous march across Pegasus Bridge at the crossing of the Orne.  This may have been the last time that a Scottish piper led Scottish troops into battle.



One of the Great Speeches by The Elephant's Child



Remember the Men of D-Day, June 6, 1944 by The Elephant's Child
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Major Werner Pluskat in his bunker overlooking Omaha Beach had heard nothing from his superiors. He was cold, tired and exasperated. He felt isolated. He couldn’t understand why there had been no reports from either regimental or division headquarters. …Once more he swung the artillery glasses over to the left, picked up the dark mass of the Cherbourg peninsula and began another slow sweep of the horizon. The same low banks of mist came into view, the same patches of shimmering moonlight, the same restless white flecked sea.Behind him in the bunker his dog Harras, was stretched out asleep. Nearby,  Captain Ludz Wilkening and Lieutenant Fritz Theen were talking quietly. Pluskat joined them. “Still nothing out there,” he told them.” I’m about to give it up. But he walked back to the aperture and stood looking out as the first streaks of light began to lighten the sky. He decided to make another routine sweep.Wearily, he swung the glasses over to the left again. Slowly he tracked across the horizon. He reached the dead center of the bay. The glasses stopped moving. Pluskat tensed, stared hard.Through the scattering thinning mist the horizon was filling with ships — ships of every size and description, ships that casually maneuvered back and forth as though they had been there for hours. There appeared to be thousands of them. Pluskat stared in frozen disbelief, speechless, moved as he had never been before in his life. At that moment the world of the good soldier Pluskat began falling apart. He says that in those first few moments he knew, calmly and surely, that “this was the end for Germany.”      Cornelius Ryan: The Longest Day



Is It Time for Candles and Teddy Bears or Time For Something More Serious? by The Elephant's Child

During Ariana Grande’s “One Love Manchester” benefit concert for the victims, Katy Perry attempted to say something helpful.

“It’s not easy to always choose love, is it, especially in moments like this… but love conquers fear and love conquers hate, and this love you choose will give you strength, and it’s our greatest power.

There was more, but this gets the gist. No. Love doesn’t conquer all. We have whole governments across the world who cannot speak clearly or accurately about Islamic jihad. We in the West had our wars of religion—an Inquisition, a Reformation, and the American Revolution and Constitution to end the rule of Kings and proclaim in our First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” That has not meant that everything has been completely peaceful on the religion front, but it has had an influence round the world. Still, Westerners have become hesitant to criticize any religion in any way, which makes us unprepared for suspicion or attack.

Andrew C. McCarthy is a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, He led the 1995 terrorism prosecution against Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and eleven others who were convicted of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and of planning a series of attacks against New York City landmarks. He also contributed to the prosecutions of terrorists who bombed U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He is a contributing editor of National Review. When he writes about Islam and Sharia Law, you want to pay attention. He has studied deeply.

His article today is especially worth your time and attention. It begins:  “Islamists want to impose sharia law on the West—which means all Islamists are ‘extremists‘ — The Western schizophrenia about radical Islam is on full display in Britain, in the aftermath of the latest jihadist atrocity, the third in just the past three months.”Please read the whole thing.

Our political elites have a hard time with it. They just don’t see immigration, refugees, or illegal immigrants as much of a problem. This is where European countries have been. Only 4% of Congressional Democrats think it’s much of a problem, four times as many Congressional Republicans do, but still only 16%. The American people are far, far more concerned.

After three brutal attacks, British officialdom have suddenly started paying attention. British intelligence agencies have identified 23,000 potential jihadis living in Britain, according to the Times of London on Saturday. Of this ‘pool’ of potential terrorists, 3,000 are suspected of posing an “imminent threat” and are being investigated accordingly. The other 20,000 have been involved with past investigations and are categorized as a “residual risk.

What a dreadful situation. Does it then take three attacks in short order, 22 dead kids, to make people sit up and take notice? Armed policemen are patrolling British streets again. Ramadan seems to be a significant time for attacks. Over at American Thinker, Ed Straker assembled a selection of  comments about Manchester and London Bridge from all over, and a variety of people, to demonstrate the utter vacuity of serious thought.

There isn’t much serious thought going on, especially in our universities. Lots of blather about “hate speech” and race. Suddenly, black students are demanding segregation, separate dorms and facilities, even separate graduation exercises. Students refuse to listen to noted scholars because they have been told that the speakers are racists or bigots or just shouldn’t be listened to, though in every case, students would have deeply benefitted by learning something new. So it isn’t just the language about Islam, it is a matter of language in general.  The problems at our colleges and universities are a matter of inability to identify what is going on or understand what an appropriate response might be.

Everybody is afraid of protesters or boycotts. Businesses don’t want to be known for taking a position that might prompt some adverse attention. On the other hand, some business executives want to be known as prominent  environmentalists, or prominent opponents of fossil fuels, or other hot button issues. Ordinary people have opinions too, and we don’t have to listen to unwanted lectures from those who supposedly want our business.

There are plenty of articles out there proclaiming the end of Europe as we knew it. They have signed their own death warrant by admitting so many “refugees.” They are discovering that the refugees who claimed to be “children” are not only not children but ISIS fighters. (You couldn’t tell?) In some countries like Sweden, so many women are attacked that the government tries to cover up, and they don’t seem to know what to do. They are trying desperately to find the correct pacifying language, to find a way to tamp the trouble down. Is it all too late?



President Trump Withdraws From the Paris Climate Accords by The Elephant's Child

Hollywood is having the vapors, Chuckie Schumer released a statement:

President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement is a devastating failure of historic proportions,” Schumer said. “Future generations will look back on President Trump’s decision as one of the worst policy moves made in the 21st century because of the huge damage to our economy, our environment and our geopolitical standing.

At a news conference in Brussels in early February, 2015, Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, admitted that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from ecological calamity—but to destroy capitalism.

“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,” she said.

Socialists, intent on the wonders of social justice and the ‘better world’ of their dreams, never, never seem to pay any attention to the monumental failures of socialism everywhere it has been tried. The  past 25 years have witnessed the greatest reduction in global poverty  in the history of the world. An 80 % reduction in world poverty in only 36 years. Globalization, Free markets, free trade, international entrepreneurship. The free enterprise system, American style, which is our gift to the world. This is not the first time some greenie has blurted out the truth behind their campaign to protect the world from the horrors of the carbon dioxide we exhale every time we breathe. Go figure.

President Obama committed $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund, without authorization from Congress, about 30% of the $100 billion demanded from the United States to be shifted to trying to help poor nations deal with non-existent climate warming. They only got 1 billion before Obama left office and the U.S. was expected to come up with the other $2 billion promptly. According to researchers at MIT, if all nations met their targets for reducing carbon emissions, the impact on the climate at best would be likely to reduce global temperature rise by 0.2 degrees by the year 2100. That ‘s 2/10 of one degree C.  Under the accord, China gets to continue building coal-fired plants and increasing emissions until 2030. The Climate Accords were a very bad deal for everyone but China.

CO2 represents only the smallest portion of atmospheric gasses. The most important atmospheric gas is water vapor — clouds. Carbon dioxide (what we exhale) is a fertilizer for plants and the slight increase has meant a greening world which has helped to feed the world’s hungry nations.

The terms of the Accord required countries to update their commitments every five years to make them more ambitious, starting in 2020, leading to an eventual 80 percent cut. If everybody met their commitments, the effect on the climate would be almost undetectable.

The Left is big on income redistribution, not theirs, of course, but other people’s. But as Margaret Thatcher said “Sooner or later you run out of other people’s money.” Their goal is not helping the poor— it is power. They just can’t get it through their pretty heads that socialism doesn’t work, and has never worked, everywhere it has been tried. But they are fixated on the idea of fixing annoying human nature, eliminating wars and other annoyances and in general concentrating all power in an educated elite like themselves in Washington D.C. ruling the world in perpetual wonderfulness.

Here’s President Trump’s statement.

* That’s Christiana Figueres in the light slate blue on the left.

ADDENDUM: I said above ‘helping poor nations to deal with “non-existent global warming”. That’s not correct. The Earth is always warming or cooling as it has done for millions of years. The British once skated on the Thames, and at another time grew wine grapes. If you have time, you might visit drroyspencer.com. He has posted “Good Climate Hunting (DJ. Trump, writer, director)” which is priceless, and then scroll down a little to “People’s Climate March on Saturday…through Snow” where he points out the differences in climate across the U.S. as greenies are marching. (Dr. Spencer runs the only accurate measurements of warming and cooling by satellite at University of Alabama at Huntsville.)




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