Showing posts with label 101. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 101. Show all posts

24 April 2016

ANZAC Day, pause a moment

ANZAC Day 100 years on:

Australia and New Zealand pauses today to remember their war fallen.
101 years ago today, the fateful landings to try and secure a strangle-hold on the Dardanelles forged the nationhood of the antipodean cousin countries as we know it today. 

100 years ago the first ANZAC commemoration services were held. 
Lest we forget. 

Sacrifices that thousands have made on the battlefields of the world to guarantee our freedom. 

Sometimes in error, sometimes in folly, sometimes with intent on a common goal or idea. 

Never the less, lives sacrificed.

It was Winston Churchill's brain-child to force open the way to Constantinople through the Dardanelles straits to the Bosporus, allowing Russia, who was access to the Aegean. 

He tried first with the Royal Navy, assisted by French and Russian ships, but was given a bloody nose by the Turkish forts and gun emplacements. 

The fateful decision was then made to take the approaches by land, across the Gallipoli peninsula.

I am currently reading Peter Fitzsimons' book, written from the Australian perspective. 

The history is probably familiar to many, so I am not going to dwell on that. 

It suffices to say that it was a massive waste of lives. On both sides. 

Not only was there massive sacrifice by New Zealanders and Australians, but many other nations took part in the futile assault. Indian and Gurkha troops, French, British, Canadian and many other allied countries. 

What I did learn from the red bandanna wearing Australian's book, is the interesting role  

Captain Henry Stoker and the crew of AE2. The stuff of legends. 
The submarine has subsequently been found, and remains in the sea of Marmara

The narrow stretch of land known as ANZAC cove

The forbidding terrain

British troops attacking at Gallipoli 

Cease-fire to allow both sides to bury their dead. 
ANZACs in the foreground, Turks in the background

Memorial to Mustaf Kemal (later honoured as Ataturk) 
The Turkish commander whose skills as commander swung the battle the way of the Turks. 

Numerically, the Turks suffered more casualties that the Allies put together.

Lest we forget

5 June 2014

D-Day Minus One, the paratroops go in (again, for one veteran)

Paratrooper jumps again: 70 years after D-Day

A former U.S. Air Force C-47 Skytrain aircraft (bottom) flies alongside a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft assigned to the 37th Airlift Squadron over Germany in this handout photo taken May 30 and released June 3, 2014. REUTERS/U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Sara Keller/Handout via Reuters

Normandy, France (CNN) -- Jim "Pee Wee" Martin acted like he'd been here before, like jumping from a plane is as easy as falling off a log.

Maybe that's because he had -- 70 years ago.

"I'm feeling fine," Martin told reporters moments after landing in a French field. "... It was wonderful, absolutely wonderful."
Martin was part of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division that parachuted down over Utah Beach in their bid to retake France and, eventually, the rest of Europe from Nazi Germany. They actually touched down in enemy-controlled territory a night before what's referred to now as D-Day.

His jump Thursday in the same area was different and -- despite his being 93 years old now -- a whole lot easier.
"It didn't (compare)," Martin said, "because there wasn't anybody shooting at me today!"

Every year, every day it seems, the number of surviving World War II veterans like Martin dwindles. He estimates there are only a few dozen members of his unit who took part in the now historic D-Day invasion who are still around.
It's ironic, in a sense, because Martin was among the oldest of his bunch in June 1944 -- at 23 years old -- surrounded by others who were mere teenagers.

Together, they parachuted onto France's northern coast in the dark of night not knowing what awaited them. Whatever it was, it would not be friendly or easy, they expected.

"Everybody (was) scared all the time, and if they tell you anything differently they are full of crap," the former paratrooper recalled. "But you just do what you had to do regardless of it. That's the difference."
And they didn't stop. According to a Facebook page he regularly updates, Martin fought for 43 days as part of the Normandy campaign before moving onto invade Holland, fending off Nazi fighters during the Battle of the Bulge and finishing off by taking Berchtesgaden, site of Hitler's "Eagle's Nest" redoubt in the German Alps.

None of it was easy, but Martin insists, "I don't ever have flashbacks. Never. Nothing ever bothered me."
All these years later, he has become a celebrity of sorts -- as evidenced by a mob of reporters who greeted him after his parachute landing Thursday. Martin says he feels "kind of humbled and embarrassed at the adulation because I don't feel we did anything that we weren't supposed to do or anything exceptional."
He adds: "We just did what we trained to do."

On Norman soil again...

Seven decades later, Martin did it again -- not fighting a bloody war but at least reliving his role in a military campaign that changed the course of history. Others joined him in this now daytime jump, though he was the only one from his generation.
This time, he said that he wasn't scared because, "once you get in the plane, you forget everything." Bored would be more like it.

As he told reporters afterward, "To tell you the truth, riding around in the plane is boring. It's when you get off the plane, that's when it gets exciting ... But there's no fear to it. It's just something you do."

​Veteran 101st Airborne paratrooper Pfc. Jim "Pee Wee" Martin reminisces about D-Day at the National Museum of the Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.: ​Veteran 101st Airborne paratrooper Pfc. Jim "Pee Wee" Martin reminisces about D-Day at the National Museum of the Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

Martin admitted that he was motivated by "a little bit of ego, (to show that) I'm 93 and I can still do it."
"And also I just want to show all the people that you don't have to sit and die just because you get old," he added. "Keep doing things."
Among those things he'd like to do is another jump in the same plane, one year from now.

"If I come back next year, I'll make a jump next year. You can bet on it."