Category: Military

Poppy Field At The Tower of London

Poppy Field At The Tower of London


Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red ‘ Photo by PH Morton

Poppy falls Photo by JMorton

Poppy falls
Photo by JMorton

Recently, Jean & I visited the Tower of London to see the amazing poppy field created in the dry verdant green grass covered moat surrounding the Tower.

Nearly 900,000 hand-made ceramic red poppies have been planted by volunteers in the moat to commemorate each of the British and Commonwealth soldier and serviceman who fell (died) fighting & defending freedom in World War One (WW1).

The poppy exhibition known as ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ will see 888,246 poppies planted.

The last poppy will be planted on Armistice Day on 11th November.

The poppies will remain in place for Armistice Day as 2014 is the centenary marking the start of WW1 also known as the Great War.

In mid-November, the poppies will be collected up by volunteers again.

Like many others, we are one of lucky ones to have bought one of the displayed ceramic poppies on-line at £25 per stem +PP . They are now sold out. We are assured that the majority of sales raised approximately £15+ million will be shared among six service charities, including Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion.

A quantity of the poppies will also go on an exhibition tour across the country.

We will keep the poppy as our own reminder to those fallen. We hope to hand it down to our son and grandson as a memorial too.

Each year around October /November we buy & wear charity poppy pin badges to remember WW1, WW2, and later wars & conflicts in which our troops and service personnel, (Army Navy, RAF & Merchant Seamen) fought were injured and perished.

My late Maternal Grandfather fought in World War One and was seriously injured.

My late Father fought as a soldier (Desert Rat) in World War Two (WW2). Luckily he survived uninjured. Up to his passing away in the 1980s, Dad would regularly attend and enjoy the yearly reunion in London (normally at the Union Jack Club), of his wartime comrades and friends.

The poppy symbolises the red poppy flowers that were growing in some of the WW1 battlefields in France, where many soldiers fell.
Sadly the red of the poppy matched the blood of those fallen on the battlefields.
A potent symbol…

Warts & All – Phrase Origin


Oliver did not believe in photoshop.

Warts & All – Phrase Origin

Apparently  the expression, warts and all originated from Oliver Cromwell when he commissioned Sir Peter Lely to paint his  portrait.  Cromwell apparently abhor personal vanity with a passion that he instructed that his portrait should be painted with warts and all


Warts & All

Common beliefs and superstitions about warts:

  • Do not touch a toad or else you’ll get warts.
  • Do not touch a wart or the blood from a wart.
  • This one is really strange:  rub a piece of bread on the wart and then bury the bread; once the bread has decomposed, the wart will fall off and disappear.
  • Find a witch to sell your wart to for a pin or a coin.

Boudicca – Warrior Queen


Boudicca, Photo by PH Morton


Jean paying homage to Boadicea, Photo by PH Morton

England and Great Britain have had some amazing historical famous female characters  being brave, indomitable and  true leaders in their own right.
Queen Elizabeth 1, Queen Victoria, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.  One such powerful Queen, going back over 1400 years further in our history, is Boudicca of the Iceni people.

Boudica, Boudicca (also spelled Boudicea)e was a true warrior queen. In AD 60-61, she inspired and led the largest revolt against Roman rule in Britain

What we mainly know of her life derives from two Roman writers, Publius Cornelius Tacitus (A.D. 56-117) and Cassius Dio (A.D. 150-235)
Boudicca is still celebrated as someone who stood up against foreign oppression, she took on the might of the Roman empire

From around 65 BC, the Iceni people of East Anglia had grown prosperous by trading with Romans on the Continent. When the forces of Emperor Claudius conquered Britain in AD 43, the Iceni were able to negotiate for themselves an arrangement that allowed them to exist as a client kingdom loyal to Rome. But trouble was on the way. When the Iceni King, Prasutagas, died, he bequeathed his kingdom jointly to his two teenage daughters and the Roman Emperor Nero. This was perceived as an insult by Rome, which believed it had a right to inherit and subjugate the entire Iceni kingdom. A brutal crackdown on the Iceni began.

Queen Boudicca was the widow of Prasutagus. In an attempt to quash the Iceni, Roman officials had her publicly flogged and allowed the empire’s soldiers to rape her daughters. But Rome had misjudged Boudicca and the Iceni. Instead of submitting humbly, Boudicca raised a huge army and led them against Rome’s forces in Britain. The Roman historian, Cassius Dio, writes that Boudicca was “most tall, in appearance most terrifying, in the glance of her eye most fierce, and her voice was harsh.” She was an effective, brutal commander and her Celtic fighters soon overran the capital of Roman Britain, Camulodunum (modern-day Colchester).

Boudicca’s timing was good. The majority of Rome’s legions were tied up in Wales, fighting the Druids. There was little effective opposition as Boudicca and her army swept into the commercial centre of Londinium (London) on the Thames. The Iceni were merciless as they tore through the town, razing most of it to the ground and butchering any civilians left behind by Rome’s retreating forces. Inspired by the crushing victory at Londinium, Boudicca turned north and headed for Verulamium, known today as St Albans. Another vicious sacking followed.

The Roman military governor, Suetonius Paulinus, had refused to commit his forces to the defence of Londiunium or Verulamium. Instead, he lured Boudicca and her warriors north of Verulanium to a site somewhere in the Midlands. Contemporary historians never identified where the crucial battle between Rome and the Iceni was fought but the outcome was decisive. Paulinus had just 10,000 men. Estimates of the Iceni strength vary between 100,000 and 250,000 but they were no match for the disciplined troops of Paulinus. Rome routed the Britons in one of the ancient world’s most bloody massacres.

The attacking hordes of spear-wielding Britons, many daubed with blue war paint derived from the woad plant, must have been a terrifying sight as they charged at the Roman lines but Paulinus had chosen his battleground carefully. The Roman historian, Tacitus, describes it as an area with a narrow approach, backed by woodland. This meant that the Britons could not use their superior numbers to outflank Paulinus and encircle him. Instead, they were forced to hurl themselves at the Roman front lines, in wave after desperate wave. The well-trained Roman soldiers advanced with their large shields, stabbing at the Britons with their easily manoeuvrable short swords. Boudicca’s best warriors had no room to swing their long swords and were trapped between the deadly Roman advance and their own advancing hordes. Around 80,000 Britons died as Paulinus took his revenge. Roman casualties were around 400 dead and a similar number of wounded. Boudicca and her daughters survived the battle but are believed to have taken poison to avoid capture and ritual humiliation at the hands of the Romans.

An interesting local London legend has it that Boudicca is buried beneath Track 10 at King’s Cross Station (Kings Cross is famous from the Harry Potter stories). Her final battle is believed to have taken place in the area.

Number Stations Still Going For The Spy Audience

Number stationBeing interested in the great game as all things espionage is known, I read about this particular method for sending coded secret signals to spies in the field.  Those clandestine operatives that are hidden among us tune in at certain times to certain shortwave radio frequencies.  A sequence of spoken numbers is broadcast automatically to the target agents who could be anywhere in the known world.  The agents  copy and transcribe the numbers using deciphering methods  such as ‘one time pads’ to decode the numbers into a meaningful message. One time pads are unbreakable if used correctly and as the name stated,  the encryption is used only once then disposed of.

Number Stations Still Going For The Spy Audience

Those radio amateurs (HAMS)  that ‘surf’  shortwave channels are fascinated by these mysterious emanations from the ether.  Anyone with a decent shortwave receiver should be able to pick them up. Thought to be a relic  of  the Cold War, this means of covert communication is still a valued tool to contact secret agents anywhere!

We recently watched a good action thriller movie called ‘The Numbers Station’ (2013) starring excellent actors John Cusack and Liam Cunningham with Malin Akerman.
I was pleasantly surprised as the movie managed to make the unglamourous and probably monotonous subject to non-spy enthusiasts quite exciting 😉
numbers station -banner

Where the transmitting stations are located is a mystery,  and of course spy agencies deny that they exist.  A British number station is rumoured to be based in Cyprus?
The best known of the number stations was the “Lincolnshire Poacher”, which is thought to have been run by the British Secret Intelligence Service.

Below are two YouTube items

The Battle of Midway and the Days of Hopelessness

I was not born yet during the second world war, thank God, but my mother was a young girl then.  She remembered that all they had in the world was contained in a baol, a wooden chest, that my Lolo – grandfather – used to cart around.  Apparently the baol was full of money but it got caught in the fire or something and was lost.

Below is an anecdotal account from my good friend Fred Natividad,  who is also a bit of a history buff, of his own experience during the war.



 The Battle of Midway and the Days of Hopelessness

In June of 1942, World War II was just six months old but we already had a feeling of hopelessness because we were not aware of an American naval victory at some place called Midway. Just as soon as the Japanese got in control of the Philippines they promptly committed incredible atrocities not just on American and Filipino prisoners of war but also on the general civilian population. On top of that we began to suffer shortages of food, medicines and everything else we normally needed.

That June of 1942 was a few weeks away from my ninth birthday but I do not remember looking forward to some happy celebration. Birthday celebrations were the least of our concerns. And yet I was aware, though vaguely, that anti-Japanese guerrillas were promptly active all over the country. They appeared audacious in the face of the tight grip of Japanese occupation.

Until after the war I did not know about an American army major who was a guerrilla leader in Northern Luzon. He escaped Bataan when it fell to the enemy. This American named Volckman was second in command to U.S. General Brougher when both commanded the Philippine Army’s 11th Division in Bataan. My father was a corporal in that outfit although he never had any personal contact with either officers.

 images (1)

I did not know, too, that while the general population suffered, guerrillas in their secret hideouts might have been optimistic of the eventual return of the Americans. Guerrillas defied the Japanese with sabotage and abduction of suspected and openly declared collaborators. Unfortunately, sometimes guerrilla activities were at the deadly expense of innocent, albeit anti-Japanese, civilians.


It was after the war that I read about positive news of American military activities right after the fall of Bataan and Corregidor and about the escape of General Macarthur to Australia on orders of President Roosevelt even while the Japanese relentlessly besieged Bataan and Corregidor. From postwar readings I learned about subsequent radio contact between guerrillas in the Philippines and General Macarthur’s intelligence service and about American spies getting smuggled into the Philippines by submarine.


One such spy was Colonel Jesus Villamor, a pilot in what awfully passed for a Philippine airforce. He earned military decorations for his exploits over the skies of Manila and environs at the beginning of the war. He escaped from the Philippines but he secretly returned with some Americans by submarine, carrying some limited supplies to guerrillas, many of whom were led by Americans.


I presume now, so many years after the war, that while constantly on guard, or on the run, from the Japanese and their Filipino collaborators, guerrillas were aware of American campaigns led by Admiral Nimitz in the Central Pacific and by General Macarthur in the Southwest Pacific.


Presumably, guerrillas must have been aware of the Army’s Doolittle Raid on Japan itself or the Navy’s Battle of the Coral Sea. They must have been inspired by the Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942, just a mere six months after the infamous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. At Midway the Japanese lost 3,000-odd lives. American casualties were only about 10 percent of that. This U.S. naval victory appeared to be the beginning of the end of the once formidable Japanese Navy.

Presumably, guerrillas in the Philippines may have been aware of what happened at Midway and elsewhere – at New Guinea, Tarawa, Guadalcanal… Their radio communication with the outside world may have contributed to their stubborn audacity while the generally uninformed population languished in seeming hopelessness. After all it will still be another three years after the Battle of Midway before the Americans came to liberate the Philippines.


Japanese occupation began to fall apart on October 20, 1944, when General MacArthur announced his triumphant return to the Philippines on the shores of Leyte Gulf while Admiral Nimitz and his Navy continued to decimate what was once an invincible Japanese Navy.

Fred Natividad

Livonia, Michigan


Napoleon Bonaparte Quotes

napoleonNapoleon Bonaparte, was so famous he became known simply as Napoleon.  History marks him as one of the greatest military leaders of all times.

During his reign as the Emperor of France, he conquered most of Europe (but not Great Britain)

Napoleon Bonaparte Quotes

Do you know what is more hard to bear than the reverses of fortune? It is the baseness, the hideous ingratitude, of man.

Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.
– Napoleon Bonaparte
‘‘ If I had to choose a religion, the sun as the universal giver of life would be my god.’’
– Napoleon Bonaparte


If they want peace, nations should avoid the pin-pricks that precede cannon shots.
~Napoleon Bonaparte

Imagination rules the world.
– Napoleon Bonaparte
Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools.
– Napoleon Bonaparte

Let France have good mothers, and she will have good sons.
~Napoleon Bonaparte
Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.
-Napoleon Bonaparte

Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.
– Napoleon Bonaparte
Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.
– Napoleon Bonaparte

Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
– Napoleon Bonaparte


There are only two forces that unite men – fear and interest.
– Napoleon Bonaparte

King Richard III – Revealed

Earliest surviving portrait of Ricahrd III painted circa-1520

Having an interest in history, particularly of  medieval & Early English/British eras,  I found this recent announcement and news item particularly noteworthy.

Our royalty  spanning over a thousand years has produced some interesting and colourful characters. One such monarch is King Richard III 1452-1485 (his reign as King  1483-1485).

He was vilified  as a cruel King, Shakespeare portrayed Richard III as a hunchbacked tyrant and murderer of rivals  but modern historians argue that the king was the victim of Tudor propaganda. He lived in violent uncertain times.

King Richard III – Revealed

His brief reign from 1483 saw liberal reforms, including the introduction of the right to bail and the lifting of restrictions on books and printing presses.

Now  Richard III is revealed at last after the remains of a near complete skeleton,  excavated in September 2012, by archeologists from underneath a social services car park in Leicester.

The car park was built on part of the remains of Greyfriars Church. Researchers said they had concluded “beyond reasonable doubt” that the skeleton, which showed evidence of an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine, was the monarch King Richard III.

The skeleton, with severe trauma to the skull, was unearthed on the first day of a three-week dig at the site of what is believed to have been the choir of  the church.

Historical records show the long-lost church was the burial site of the monarch, following his brutal death at the battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.

The remains were found at depth of 68 cm and in good condition, with the feet missing, The hands were crossed over the front of the pelvis. No remnants of  a coffin or shroud were found.

The king’s remains will now be reinterred at Leicester Cathedral, the nearest consecrated ground, in keeping with archaeological practice.

After  the discovery,  a row between Leicester and York developed, which claims King Richard III should be buried in York according to his own wishes.

Kersten England, chief executive of City of York Council, said: “His self-identification with the north and York is reflected in his plans for a chantry of 100 priests in York Minster where he wished to be buried.

“That the burial site of this Yorkist king was determined by where he died from battle wounds makes the importance of adhering to his own wishes for his final resting place most important.

“City of York Council and all its political leaders are united in the belief that York is the most fitting burial place for Richard III, one of the city’s most famous and cherished sons.”

City of York Council will now write a letter to the Ministry of Justice stating its case.

Now the face of King Richard III has been unveiled to the world. Facial reconstruction of the monarch has been released by the Richard III Society  after it was confirmed 

The image is based on a CT scan taken by experts at the University of Leicester, who discovered the king’s skeleton during the archaeological dig.

The facial reconstruction was unveiled at The Society of Antiquaries at Burlington House in Piccadilly, London.

DNA samples from Michael Ibsen – a Canadian-born furniture maker who is a direct descendant of Richard’s sister, Anne of York – provided further proof.

Richard III was the last Plantagenet and Yorkist monarch later defeated by Henry Tudor, who became Henry VII, father of the famous King Henry VIII.


Lecturer Jo Appleby, who led the exhumation of the remains, speaking at Leicester University after tests established that a skeleton is that of King Richard III (Yahoo News)

Lecturer Jo Appleby, who led the exhumation of the remains, speaking at Leicester University after tests established that a skeleton is that of King Richard III (Yahoo News)

Facial reconstruction of the skull identified as that of King Ricahrd III

Facial reconstruction of the skull identified as that of King Richard III

Richard III

Richard III


Michael Ibsen a direct descendant faces the face of his illustrious ancestor

Michael Ibsen a direct descendant faces the face of his illustrious ancestor!


Sun Tzu & The Art of War

sun tzu

Sun Tzu (AKA Sun Wu and Chang Qing) was a Chinese General in the 6th Century BC.  His contribution to war and tactics were immense.  He wrote the hugely influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy, The Art of War.

Sun Tzu & The Art of War

All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.

If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

It is only the wise general who will use the highest intelligence for the purposes of spying, and thereby they achieve great results.
– Su Tzu

Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.
– Sun Tzu

”Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
– Sun-Tzu
“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”
―Sun Tzu
Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance.

What is essential in war is victory, not prolonged operations.


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