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Movie Monday: To Hell and Back 1955

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To Hell and Back Image One
Image Credit: IMDB & Amazon

Sixty-five years ago, today, the war film To Hell and Back was released, originally in San Antonio. Directed by Jesse Hibbs and based on the book of the same name, it starred Audie Murphy, Marshall Thompson, Charles Drake, Jack Kelly, Gregg Palmer, Paul Picerni, David Janssen, Denver Pyle, Brett Halsey (Admiral’s great-nephew) and Gordon Gebert as a young Audie.

IMDB Summary:

Biopic of the wartime exploits of Audie Murphy (played by himself), the most decorated US soldier in World War II. Starting with his boyhood in Texas, where he became the head of his family at a young age, the story follows his enrollment in [the] Army where he was assigned to the 3rd Division. He fought in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, before landing in southern France and, eventually, fighting in Germany. A Medal of Honor recipient, he also received battle honors from the French and Belgian government.

Rotten Tomatoes Summary:

The highly variable Audie Murphy delivers his best screen performance as “himself” in Universal‘s To Hell and Back. Based on the star’s autobiography, this is the story of how Murphy became America’s most-decorated soldier during WW II. After dwelling a bit on Murphy’s hard-scrabble Texas upbringing, the story moves ahead to 1942, when, as a teenager, Audie joined the army. Within a year, he was a member of the 7th Army, serving in North Africa, Italy, France and, ultimately, Germany and Austria. One by one, the members of Murphy’s Company B are killed in the war, until only three men from the original company are left. [The] others appear at the finale as ghostly images […]. The bulk of the film is given over to Murphy’s conspicuous acts of combat bravery and his killing of 240 enemy soldiers. Highlighted by excellent battle sequences, To Hell and Back is a serviceable tribute to a most complex individual.

Audie Murphy Image Two
Date: 1948
Photo Author: Fort Detrick
Wikipedia & Wikimedia

Trivia Bits:
Filmed at Fort Lewis, WA, Yakima River, WA, Oak Creek Wildlife Area, WA and Universal Studios.
♦ Audie Murphy originally declined the opportunity to portray himself in the movie, not wanting people to think that he was attempting to cash in on his role as a war hero. Murphy initially suggested his friend Tony Curtis to play him.
♦ Audie Murphy’s war buddy Onclo Airheart was slated to play himself, but he declined due to the fact that the movie was to be shot during planting season.
♦ [Author] David Morell [sic] cites Audie Murphy as the inspiration for the character of John Rambo.
♦ In the movie, […] Murphy does his one-man standoff on top of a medium M-4 Sherman tank. [In] real life it happened on top of an M10 Wolverine tank destroyer.
♦ Audie Murphy’s feats of heroism and his much decorated status have been compared to those of his counterpart during World War I, Sgt. Alvin C. York […].

Murphy […] wrote poetry and songs, and, himself a sufferer, was among the first advocates for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He died on May 28, 1971, when the private airplane in which he was riding crashed.

Additional Reading:
To Hell and Back (American Film Institute)
To Hell and Back (Turner Classic Movies)
Alvin York (Wikipedia)
Audie Murphy (Wikipedia)

Throwback Thursday: The Battle of Culloden 1746

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The Battle of Culloden Image One
Image Credit: britatheart.wordpress.com

Two-hundred, seventy-four years ago, today, the Battle of Culloden (east of Inverness), also referred to as the Battle Of Drummossie was the last confrontation of the 1745 Jacobite Rising (Forty-Five Rebellion).

The battle […] is significant as the last pitched battle fought on the British mainland. It was also the last battle of the final Jacobite Rising that commenced in 1745 when Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie), grandson of the exiled King James VII & II, arrived in Scotland from France in July and raised his standard at Glenfinnan [in August]. His aim was to put his father on the throne in place of the Hanoverian George II.

The battle was a total and bloody defeat for the Jacobites which effectively marked the end of almost sixty years of the Jacobite struggle, as never again would an armed uprising be used in the attempt to return the Stuarts to the throne. The government victory also paved the way for a sustained programme to destroy the power base of the rebel clans.

Culloden (pronounced culawden, with the emphasis on ‘oden‘) is one of the most important battles in the history of the British Isles and has international significance. It is the final battle fought on the British mainland and brings to an end more than half a century […] of Jacobite conflict, itself played out against a background of wider international wars. Its aftermath transforms the Highlands, bringing to an end the traditional way of life of the area and contributing to the subsequent clearances. The battle also holds a prominent place within the Scottish cultural legacy, frequently depicted, and commemorated, in art, music, literature and film. The battlefield, itself, is one of the most visited tourist sites in the Highlands […]. [T]he site holds a particularly high significance, and emotional connection, to many within Scotland and to the ancestors of the Scottish Diaspora.

The official return for British Army casualties (government troops) was 50 officers, and men, killed and 259 wounded [with] one missing (a proportion of the wounded later died of their wounds). Jacobite fatalities have been estimated at between 1,200-1,500 with between 400 and 500 prisoners taken in the immediate aftermath and many more in the days which followed. Only the Irish and Scottish troops in French service were treated as bona fide prisoners of war, the rest as rebels.

The Battle of Culloden Image Two
Image Credit: britishbattles.com

The battle, which lasted only 40 minutes, resulted in bitter defeat for the heavily outnumbered Jacobites. Led by the Duke of Cumberland, son of King George II, [the] devastating slaughter of the Jacobites was the result of the opening British cannonade and, subsequent tactics of the Redcoats during the attack […] when each British soldier, instead of attacking the Highlander directly in front of him, bayoneted the exposed side of the man to his right. The Highlanders finally broke and fled […].

Hunted by troops and spies, Prince Charles wandered over Scotland for five months before escaping to France and final exile. The [battle] […] marked the end of any serious attempt by the Jacobites to restore the Stuart dynasty to the British throne.

A generation before, a previous Jacobite rebellion had been thwarted by the king’s officer, George Wade, who had “pacified” and “disarmed” the highland clans. So concerned was the English establishment, and relieved by Wade’s actions, that an additional verse to the National Anthem was penned:
God grant the Marshal Wade
May be thy Mighty aid,
Victory bring;
May he sedition hush,
And like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush,
God save the king

Fallout (Late Add):
The high ranking “rebel lords” were executed on Tower Hill in London. Britain enacted punitive laws to prevent the clans rising, again:
(1) Episcopal clergy were required to swear allegiance to the House of Hanover.
(2) The Heritable Jurisdictions Act 1749 abolished judicial rights of heritors, stripping estates from lords and clan chiefs.
(3) The Act of Proscription 1746 was enacted to destroy the clan system.
(4) The Dress Act 1746 made wearing the Highland Dress illegal in Scotland, except for the military-based kilt wearing of the Black Watch

Addendum: “Culloden is viewed by the Scottish people as a war grave. To my fellow Americans, stepping onto the Culloden battlefield would be like visiting Gettysburg or Normandy. And, since Scotland views it as a grave, you could also liken it to Arlington Cemetery. You don’t simply walk onto any of these places with a light spirit.” ~Brit At Heart

Sources:
Ascanius (Web Archive)
Battle of Culloden (Britannica)
Battle of Culloden (British Battles)
Battle of Culloden (Historic Environment Scotland)
Battle of Culloden (Wikipedia)
Battle of Culloden Moor (Web Archive)
Culloden (National Trust for Scotland)
Culloden 1745 Culloden 2010 (Bluestocking)
Culloden Ghosts (About Aberdeen)
Culloden Moor (Web Archive)
The Battle of Culloden (Historic UK)

2020 Anniversary Lament

Documentary From 1964

Flashback Friday: War Begins & Ends 1914-1919

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Much like June 14, June 28 is also a very interesting day. It marks the beginning and ending of The Great War or, The War to End All Wars. Though true that the guns fell silent on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month with the signing of the Armistice in a railroad car in Compiègne, France, today’s date serves as solid markers in the timeline. ~Vic

Franz Ferdinand Image One
Image Credit: smithsonianmag.com

On this day in 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie are shot to death by a Bosnian Serb nationalist during an official visit to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. The archduke traveled to Sarajevo […] to inspect the imperial armed forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, annexed by Austria-Hungary in 1908. The annexation had angered Serbian nationalists, who believed the territories should be part of Serbia. A group of young nationalists hatched a plot to kill the archduke during his visit to Sarajevo and, after some missteps, 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip was able to shoot the royal couple at point-blank range, while they traveled in their official procession, killing both, almost instantly.

The assassination set off a rapid chain of events, as Austria-Hungary immediately blamed the Serbian government for the attack. As large, powerful Russia supported Serbia, Austria asked for assurances that Germany would step in on its side against Russia, and its allies, including France and possibly Great Britain. On July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia and the fragile peace between Europe’s great powers collapsed, beginning the devastating conflict now known as the First World War.

[Source]

Treaty of Versailles Image Two
Image Credit: pinterest.com

World War I officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles [on this day in] 1919. The treaty, negotiated between January and June […] in Paris, was written by the Allies with almost no participation by the Germans. The negotiations revealed a split between the French, who wanted to dismember Germany to make it impossible for it to renew war with France and, the British and Americans, who did not want to create pretexts for a new war. The eventual treaty included 15 parts, […] 440 articles, […] reassigned German boundaries and assigned liability for reparations.

The German government signed the treaty under protest. The U.S. Senate refused to ratify the treaty and the U.S. government took no responsibility for most of its provisions.

For five years the French and the Belgians tried to enforce the treaty quite rigorously […]. In 1924, however, Anglo-American financial pressure compelled France to scale down its goals and end the occupation. […] The French assented to modifying important provisions of the treaty in a series of new agreements. Germany in 1924, and 1929, agreed to pay reparations under the Dawes Plan and the Young Plan but, the Great Depression led to the cancellation of reparations in 1932. Hitler denounced the treaty altogether in 1935.

One can never know whether either rigorous Franco-British enforcement of the original treaty or a more generous treaty would have avoided a new war.

[Source]

Poppies Image Three
Evening walk.
05-07-2019

Flashback Friday: Paris, Lithuania & Tarnów 1940

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June 14 was a banner day for the countries of France, Lithuania and Poland. Except for reading the words, we, today, have no clue what these people went through. ~Vic

Paris Occupied Image One
Image Credit: wikipedia.org

[Source]

Paris started mobilizing for war in September 1939 when Nazi Germany, and their allied Soviet Union, according to the Ribbentrop-Molotov Treaty, invaded Poland. […] the war seemed far away until May 10, 1940, when the Germans attacked France and quickly defeated the French army. The French government departed Paris on June 10 and the Germans occupied the city on June 14.

In the spring of 1939, war with Germany already seemed inevitable. On March 10, the city began to distribute gas masks to civilians and on March 19, signs were posted guiding Parisians to the nearest shelters. On August 31, anticipating bombardment, the French government began to evacuate 30,000 children out of the city […]. On September 1, news reached Paris that Germany had invaded Poland, and France, as expected, promptly declared war on Germany. […] in February 1940, ration cards for food were issued [..].

The French defense plan was purely passive, waiting for the Germans to attack. After eight months of relative calm, […] the Germans struck France on May 10, 1940, bypassing the Maginot Line and slipping through the Ardennes. On June 3, the Germans bombed Paris and its suburbs for the first time […]. On June 8, the sound of distant artillery fire could be heard in the capital. On 10 June, the French government fled Paris […]. On June 12, the French government, in Tours, declared Paris to be an open city [and] that there would be no resistance. At 5:30 in the morning of June 14, the first German advance guard entered the city […]. By the end of the afternoon, the Germans had hung a swastika flag at the Arc de Triomphe […].

Lithuania Image Two
Image Credit: wikipedia.org & Renata3
According to the Soviet–Lithuanian Mutual Assistance Treaty, Lithuania agreed to allow Soviet military bases (marked in black stars) in exchange for a portion of the Vilnius Region (in orange).

[Source]

The Soviet Union issued an ultimatum to Lithuania before midnight of June 14, 1940. The Soviets, using a formal pretext, demanded to allow an unspecified number of Soviet soldiers to enter the Lithuanian territory and to form a new pro-Soviet government […]. The ultimatum and subsequent incorporation of Lithuania into the Soviet Union stemmed from the division of Eastern Europe into the German and Russian spheres of influence in the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939. Lithuania, along with Latvia and Estonia, fell into the Russian sphere. Despite the threat to the independence, Lithuanian authorities did little to plan for contingencies and were unprepared for the ultimatum. With Soviet troops already stationed in the country according to the Mutual Assistance Treaty, it was impossible to mount effective military resistance. On June 15, Lithuania unconditionally accepted the ultimatum and lost its independence.

Auschwitz Image Three
Photo Credit: wikipedia.org & flickr.com

[Source]

The first mass transport of prisoners by Nazi Germany to Auschwitz Concentration Camp was organized in occupied Poland on June 14, 1940, during World War II. The transport departed from the southern Polish city of Tarnów and, consisted of 728 Poles and 20 Polish Jews. They were dubbed ‘political prisoners’ and members of the Polish resistance. Most were Catholics, since the mass deportations of Jews had not yet begun. All were sent to Auschwitz by the German Security Police. They were transported there from a regular prison in Tarnów where they had been incarcerated as enemies of the Nazi regime. Numbers were tattooed on the prisoners’ arms in the order of their arrival […]. These inmates were assigned the numbers 31 through 758, with numbers 1 through 30 having been reserved for a group of German criminals who were brought to Auschwitz from Sachsenhausen on May 20 and became the first Auschwitz kapos.

War & Remembrance 1918

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Armistice Signing In France Image Two
Photo Credit: www.onthisday.com

“On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the guns fell silent.”

[Note: This is not a post to re-visit the actual war or discuss the minute details of every event. I will leave that to the historical scholars.]

One hundred years ago, today, the “war to end all wars” came to an end with the signing of the final Armistice in a railroad car in Compiègne, France. The Austro-Hungarian Empire, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire had signed the previous three. This was not the actual surrender as the Treaty of Versailles formally ended the entire war. Signed on June 28, 1919, the treaty was on the exact day, five years later, of the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria.

The last shot fired, closing WWI, was by the American soldiers of Battery E, 11th Field Artillery and a Schneider Howitzer named Calamity Jane.

Poppies Unsplash Image One
Photo Credit: Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

“The first minute of silence was to indicate gratitude for those who had returned alive…the second to remember the fallen.”

Edward George Honey, an Australian journalist, was the gentleman whom first proposed a moment of silence. The two-minute silence, practiced today, originated in Cape Town, South Africa, via that town’s then Mayor, Sir Harry Hands.

Remembrance Day or, Poppy Day, is the memorial day observed in the Commonwealth of Nations and many non-Commonwealth countries and, evolved from the Armistice Day. Remembrance Sunday is observed by the UK and Commonwealth nations on the Sunday closest to November 11. Armistice Day is the primary holiday in France, Belgium and Serbia. Serbian people wear Natalie’s Ramonda instead of the poppy. The French wear the Bleuet de France, a Cornflower.

Poppies Unsplash Image Three
Photo Credit: Alyssa Stevenson on Unsplash

♢ Poland celebrates their National Independence Day on November 11.
♢ Italy celebrates their Armistice of Villa Giusti on November 4.
♢ The Republic of Ireland recognizes Armistice & Remembrance Day but, their National Day of Commemoration on the Sunday nearest July 11 is a reflection of their Irish War of Independence that started two months after the Armistice was signed.
Denmark, The Netherlands, Norway and Spain were neutral and, have no specific WWI observances.
♢ Germany has a Peoples Day of Mourning covering all armed conflicts, observed on the Sunday closest to November 16.

We, here in the U.S., at the behest of several veterans organizations, changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day in 1954 to honor all veterans, regardless of a specific war. It is a national holiday and different from Memorial Day (last Monday in May), which honors those whom died while serving and, Armed Forces Day (also in May but, the third Saturday), honoring those currently serving.

National Day Calendar Veterans Day Image Four
Image Credit: Pinterest

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

~Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
Canadian Expeditionary Force

We Shall Keep The Faith

Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet – to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We’ll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.

~Moina Michael, the “Poppy Lady
American Professor, University of Georgia