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.

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.

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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

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.