Saturday, November 14, 2015

“What’s this Gadget?”: Solving Mystery Photos

“What’s this Gadget?”: Solving Mystery Photos

We asked “What’s this Gadget?” about a set of twenty-five uncaptioned photographs from the Harris & Ewing Collection, and you definitely put on your thinking caps – or maybe your psychographs – which we learned the smiling woman below is “wearing”!

[Woman seated with a psychograph, a phrenology machine, on her head] Photo by Harris & Ewing, 1931.
[Woman seated with a psychograph, a phrenology machine, on her head] Photo by Harris & Ewing, 1931.
This previously uncaptioned photograph shows a psychograph, a phrenology machine meant to measure the shape of your head in order to determine what mental skills you possessed. We don’t know what the results were for this subject, but a number of Flickr users recognized this device, and one fellow even said he’d tried one out!
The thought-provoking image above was just one of the photographs added to our Mystery Photos album in the Library of Congress Flickr account, with the most recent batch all focused on some kind of contraption.
The amount of information located for the photo below by our diligent Flickr watchers was astounding, and all backed up with citations, photographs and other sources. We learned about both the man and the scientific gadget depicted, and the photo went from being wholly unidentified to having this detailed caption: [Charles Greeley Abbot, astrophysicist and Secretary of the Smithsonian, with his device: a silver-disc pyrheliometer which measures direct beam solar irradiance]. See the comments to this photo in Flickr.

[Charles Greeley Abbot, astrophysicist and Secretary of the Smithsonian, with his device: a silver-disc pyrheliometer which measures direct beam solar irradiance] Photo by Harris & Ewing, between 1913 and 1917.
[Charles Greeley Abbot, astrophysicist and Secretary of the Smithsonian, with his device: a silver-disc pyrheliometer which measures direct beam solar irradiance] Photo by Harris & Ewing, between 1913 and 1917.
And here, two men in white coats examining a ball turn out to be dentists using a dental X-ray machine to determine if a golf ball’s core is centered. The collaborative research by Flickr users included: websites, digitized periodicals and newspapers, other Harris & Ewing photos and even an online auction site. And of course, the starting point was careful study of the photograph and a bit of educated guesswork to get the ball rolling, so to speak!

[Dr. B.L. Taylor (left) and Dr. Walter A. Rath (right), dentists, using a dental x-ray to examine the cores of golf balls to see if they are centered] Photo by Harris & Ewing, 1924.
[Dr. B.L. Taylor (left) and Dr. Walter A. Rath (right), dentists, using a dental x-ray to examine the cores of golf balls to see if they are centered] Photo by Harris & Ewing, 1924.
Out of the twenty-five mystery photos of gadgets we added in this batch, only six remain unsolved, and even those have generated good speculation which may lead to a definitive identification. And some of the newly identified photos could still use a few more details, so keep up the clever sleuthing!
Learn More:

Wrangling a Runaway U-Boat Tuesday

Wrangling a Runaway U-Boat

Tuesday, November 10, 2015 12:01 AM


Captain Daniel Gallery (left) stands with Lieutenant (j.g.) Albert David, who received the Navy Cross for his role in the in-tact capture of U-505. (National Archives)
Captain Daniel Gallery (left) stands with Lieutenant (j.g.) Albert David, who received the Navy Cross for his role in the intact capture of U-505. (National Archives)
One of the U.S. Navy’s most celebrated feats of World War II was the 4 June 1944 capture of U-505, complete with enigma machines, codebooks, and bags of official communications. Much of the credit goes to Captain Daniel V. Gallery, commander of Task Group 22.3—a “hunter-killer” group composed of his flagship, the escort carrier Guadalcanal (CVE-60), and five destroyer escorts. After TG 22.3 sank U-515 on 9 April 1944, Gallery planned to capture the next U-boat he encountered and ordered that each of his group’s ships organize boarding parties.1
What follows is an excerpt from Captain Gallery’s account of seizing U-505.2
We hunted for this fellow about four or five days and nights, had numerous indications that a submarine was nearby, such as disappearing radar contacts, noisy sonar buoys, TAG bearings, but we never did sight this fellow and we were finally about to give up the hunt. As a matter of fact for all practical purposes we had given it up and were on our way to Casablanca but were keeping fighter planes in the air so serve as escort and also on the outside chance we might still find the fellow, when on June 4th, Sunday morning, at about 11:10, 150 miles west of Cape Blanco in French West Africa, the Chatelain [DE-149] reported that she had a possible sound contact.

Within a half-minute she reported contact evaluated as U-boat and in accordance with the doctrine of our task group, without further orders from me, she and the two destroyers nearest to her started the attack while the Guadalcanal and my other two escorts turned away from the contact. The Chatelain, having the sound contact, was the attacking ship and the Pillsbury [DE-133] and Jenks [DE-665] were assisting ships. ComCortDivFour, Commander Hall, was in the Pillsbury and as ComCortDivFour was in tactical command at the scene of the attack.3
As soon as the Chatelain’s report came into the combat information center on the Guadalcanal we vectored our fighting planes over to the Chatelain. All ships and aircraft guarded the same radio frequency so the fighters that heard the report were already on the way. The fighters sighted the sub running fully submerged.
The Chatelain’s first attack with hedgehogs apparently was ineffective and at this point the sub sighted the task force, fired one acoustic torpedo, and reversed course. This temporarily shook off the Chatelain, but our fighters saw the sub reverse course, and being on the same radio frequency with the Chatelain, told her what was happening, coached her to reverse course too and then coached her on a collision course with the sub.
She very soon picked up the sub again with her sound gear and following the indications of the sound gear and of the fighter planes in the air, she made a depth charge attack firing a full pattern which rolled the sub on her beams end under the water. The fighter planes immediately reported, “Chatelain you struck oil, sub is surfacing.” Then in a few seconds the sub broke surface and found herself practically in the center of a group consisting of the Chatelain, Pillsbury, and Jenks.
These ships and the two aircraft immediately opened fire on the submarine with anti-personnel ammunition. The planes fired .50-caliber guns, the destroyers fired 20-mm and 40-mm guns and some 3-inch shells of high explosives rather than armor piercing.
The Nazis scrambled overboard as fast as they could. They attempted to man the guns but there was just too much stuff flying and they went overboard pretty fast. As soon as it was apparent that most of them had gone overboard, Commander Hall . . . issued the order, “Cease firing,” “Away boarding parties.”
The Jenks, Pillsbury, and Chatelain all put boats in the water, and Commander Hall then ordered the Jenks and the Chatelain to pick up survivors while the Pillsbury would board the sub.
Lieutenant David’s boarding party (bottom right) approaches the unmanned but still running U-boat. (National Archives)
Lieutenant David’s boarding party (bottom right) approaches the unmanned but still running U-boat. (National Archives)
The sub was left running at about 10 knots with her rudder jammed hard right and in just about full surface trim. The Pillsbury’s boat had to chase the sub and cut inside the circle to catch her, which she did, and the boarding party, consisting of eight enlisted men and Lieutenant (j.g.) Albert Leroy David, leaped from the boat to the circling sub and took possession of it.
On the deck there was one dead man. They didn’t know what was down below. They had every reason to believe, from the way the sub was still running, that there were still Nazis left below engaged in scuttling, setting booby traps or perhaps getting rid of confidential gear. At any rate David and two enlisted men, one named Knispel, the other Wdowiak, plunged down the conning tower hatch carrying hand grenades and machine guns ready to fight it out with anyone they found below.4 They very definitely put their lives on the line when they went down the hatch. However, they found no one below.
The did find that water was pouring into the U-boat through a bilge strainer about eight inches in diameter which had the cover knocked off, and that all the vents were open and the boat was rapidly flooding. When they found there was no one else below they called the other boarders below and went to work closing vents. They found the cover to this bilge strainer, slapped it back in place, screwed up the butterfly nuts on it and checked the flooding, just in the nick of time.
As an Avenger from the Guadalcanal passes overhead, the U-505 is perilously low in the water. Inside, sailors feverously worked to stop the flooding. (National Archives)
As an Avenger from the Guadalcanal passes overhead, the U-505 is perilously low in the water. Inside, sailors feverously worked to stop the flooding. (National Archives)
In the meantime another boarding party, from the Guadalcanal, arrived under the command of Commander Earl Trosino, chief engineer of the Guadalcanal, and took charge of the salvage operations. At this time the sub was so low in the water that to prevent the swells from washing down the conning tower hatch they had to close the hatch on the people who were working below. Those people down below wouldn’t have had any chance whatsoever to escape in case the sub had gotten away from us.
The Pillsbury meanwhile was attempting to come alongside and take the sub in tow. She sent a message to the sub to stop the engines so she could get alongside. However, when they pulled the switches and stopped the engines, the stern of the sub sank so far in the water that it looked like she was going to up end and sink so they had to throw the switches to full speed ahead again to get the lift of the stern planes to keep the stern up, and the sub circled some more.
The Pillsbury then tried to come alongside while she was still circling, actually did get alongside and get a line aboard but, of course, with the sub circling she couldn’t hold her position very well and the two ships swung together, and the bow flippers of the submarine ripped a long underwater gash in the side of the Pillsbury and flooded two main compartments. So the Pillsbury had to back clear.
Incidentally, while the Pillsbury was chasing the sub, from the bridge of the Guadalcanal it looked for all the world like a cowboy trying to rope a wild horse in a rodeo. And when she finally got her first line aboard, I broadcasted on the TBS, “Ride ’em cowboy.”
Boarding party sailors secure a line to the bow of the U-boat, which would be towed to Bermuda. (National Archives)
Boarding party sailors secure a line to the bow of the U-boat, which would be towed to Bermuda. (National Archives)
Well, the Pillsbury finally had to back clear and sent a message saying that the sub had to be towed to remain afloat but she didn’t think a destroyer could do it. So I sent back and told the destroyers to stand clear that I’d take her in tow myself.
So we maneuvered the Guadalcanal into position. I had them stop the engines on the sub and pulled up as quickly as we could, shoved our stern up against her [the U-boat’s] nose, got a tow line aboard and got her going again.

  1. Samuel Eliot Morison, The Atlantic Battle Won: May 1943–May 1945, vol. 10, History of United States Naval Operations in World War II (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1956), 282, 290.
  2. CAPT Daniel V. Gallery, USN, “Capture Nazi Submarine U-505,” recorded 26 May 1945, World War II Oral Histories, Interviews and Statements, RG 38, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD.
  3. CDR Frederick S. Hall commanded Escort Division Four.
  4. Torpedoman Third Class Arthur W. Knispel and Radioman Third Class Stanley E. Wdowiak.

To learn more about U-505, which is a featured exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, click here
To read about the Navy’s Battle of the Atlantic “Hunter-Killer” groups, click here

Ripley at the Bridge

Ripley at the Bridge

Wednesday, November 11, 2015 12:01 AM


As a young man I was fascinated by a tale from ancient Roman history that told of a warrior whose courage was beyond all reason, yet was inspirational as an ideal worth trying to live up to. It is a story, often recounted by Roman authors and later preserved for English literature in a poem by Lord Macaulay that tells us of an Etruscan army marching on Rome, headed for a bridge across the Tiber River that, unless destroyed, would give the enemy access to the capital city itself.
Their van will be upon us
Before the bridge goes down;
And if they once may win the bridge,
What hope to save the town?
But a Roman soldier named Horatius stood before the advancing enemy army, displaying a defiant courage that made a deep impression on me in my formative years.
Then out spake brave Horatius, The Captain of the gate:
To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his Gods. . . .
Horatius miraculously held the enemy at bay until his colleagues could destroy the bridge, thus saving Rome and etching his name forever in the annals of military legend.
As fate would have it, I was never faced with a challenge of that magnitude and will never know if I could have measured up to such a standard, but in a strange twist of irony, I was saved by a man who did.
It was 1972, and the North Vietnamese Army was sweeping down from the north during what is now known as “The Easter Invasion.” Despite some brave resistance by pockets of South Vietnamese soldiers and sailors, and a running gun battle between a lone American destroyer and NVA tanks advancing along the beaches to the north of us, it seemed likely that we naval advisors would be facing the oncoming enemy before long, a prospect we were hardly prepared for and did not much relish.
But just as the Etruscans had to cross the Tiber to get to Rome, so the NVA had to use the Dong Ha Bridge to cross the Cua Viet River and, just as Rome was fortunate enough to have Horatius, so we had a young Marine advisor named Captain John Ripley.
Charles Waterhouse’s painting depicts Captain John Ripley dangling from the bridge to thwart the advance of the North Vietnamese Army.
Charles Waterhouse’s painting depicts Captain John Ripley dangling from the bridge to thwart the advance of the North Vietnamese Army. USNI Archives
Even Horatius would have been impressed as Ripley repeatedly dangled by his arms from the supporting structure beneath the bridge, hand-walking his way along the beams, placing explosive charges while under constant fire from the enemy on the north side of the river. The primers he had clenched in his teeth would have blown his head off had they detonated, and the main charges he carried out with him were heavy as well as potentially lethal. It was a superhuman feat that future generations will likely recall with some doubt because it is almost more than we mortals can comprehend.
Captain John Ripley reviews a map as Commanding officer of Lima Company, 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, 1967.
Captain John Ripley reviews a map as Commanding officer of Lima Company, 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, 1967. USNI Archives
Miraculously, Ripley not only succeeded in bringing down the bridge, but he survived and was subsequently awarded the Navy Cross. A forward operating base in Afghanistan bore his name, and whenever Ripley’s name is spoken by Marines and by those of us who know of his feat, it is always with a sense of awe and mystic reverence.
And wives still pray to Juno
For boys with hearts as bold
As his who kept the bridge so well
In the brave days of old.

(Poetic lines quoted from “Horatius” by Thomas Babington Macaulay)

Now Pennsylvania WWI Veterans Service and Compensation - Ancestry

Although the United States was involved in World War I for a relatively short period of time (1917-1918), the records generated by and about those who served should not be overlooked. The records go beyond the well-known World War I Draft Registration Cards.
Pennsylvania WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files
A new collection on Ancestry is the Pennsylvania WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files. This is a combination of service cards, applications for post-war compensation, and questionnaires compiled in 1920. The original records are at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.
French Ammons was 31 years old when he entered the service in 1916. At the time, he was living at 408 Jackson Street in Pittsburgh. He was a member of the 103rd Field Signal Battalion and rose in rank from private to captain. He was never wounded, but was engaged in several campaigns, including Champagne-Marne and Aisne-Marne. He was discharged at Camp Dix, New Jersey on 20 May 1919.
French was born 2 December 1884 in Amos, West Virginia, the son of Coleman Frost Ammons and Lucidy Ammons; Coleman died prior to French’s compensation application in 1934. French was married to Ethel Villa Ammons and in 1934, they lived at 3001 Willett Avenue in Pittsburgh.
What’s great about this record, besides all of the biographical detail it gives us, is that it is all information that was given by French Ammons himself.
His folder continues with service information:
There are several cards in his folder giving details about his World War I service.
Using This Collection
The Pennsylvania, WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files collection is searchable. Like any collection that has images, there is often more information on the record than what was abstracted, so be sure to look at the image itself.
Also, a veteran’s file can be several pages long. Once you have an image for your veteran, scroll forward (and backward) several images to ensure you’ve seen the entire fie.
- See more at:

The Next Big U.S.-China Military Challenge: Beijing's Underwater Nukes | The National Interest

Duke Of Edinburgh Visits Plymouth Troops

Royal Marines and their families hosted a special visitor when His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, visited the elite amphibious troops.
Marines said they were honoured and privileged to explain their role to the royal visitor as he toured 1 Assault Squadron Royal Marines (1AGRM) in HM Naval Base Devonport in his role as Captain General, Royal Marines.
The group is the lead for amphibious warfare and Royal Navy board and search training and is tasked with training and developing core amphibious and surface assault skills and equipment.
The Duke of Edinburgh received a briefing on the current activities of by the commanding officer of 1AGRM Colonel Graeme Armour.
Col Armour said: "This is a fantastic day for me and the group. We all swear allegiance to the Queen, but His Royal Highness is the figurehead of the Royal Marines. But he is much more than that to us. We hold him in great esteem, especially with his distinguished career in the Royal Navy. He takes his duties very seriously and lives and breathes the Royal Marines Corps.
''This was a great chance for the troops to show off their kit, their knowledge and skills. As expected, he showed a detailed genuine interest in them and put them on the spot with his questions. The guys have been blown around on exercise all week in small craft in bad weather off the SW coast - this was a contrasting reward for them.''
Col Armour said he had previously met his royal visitor twice before, including at the Royal Marines' Corp 350th birthday celebrations last year: "That was a ceremonial highlight for him and this was a natural follow-on for him to see an operational unit on a personal visit.''
His Royal Highness presented long service and good conduct awards and met injured Marines undergoing recovery.
He viewed amphibious craft equipment (including landing craft and raiding craft) and signals equipment and their maintainers and operators.
He also met personnel and their families after formally opening the new Mercury Building café.
Colour Sergeant John Miller was presented by HRH with a long service bar representing 30 years' service.
He was watched by his proud son Jonathan who is due to join the Navy as an engineer after university.
Sgt Miller said: "To receive my bar from His Royal Highness was absolutely amazing and totally rewarding for my long service.''
Other long service recipients were: Sergeant John McDonald (Royal Marines), Leading Engineering Technician Simon Lingarfield (Royal Navy) and Colour Sergeant Damian Barrett (Royal Marines).
Marine Connor Meek, of 539 Assault Squadron (part of 1AGRM), said: "He (HRH) wanted to know all about my job and role and the squadron history. He wanted to know all about how our kit works. I told him we were a pre-landing force that feeds back intelligence to the main landing force commanders. It was a great honour to meet him and you could tell he really was interested.''
1AGRM sits alongside the berths for the amphibious assault ships - the helicopter and Royal Marines carrier HMS Ocean and HMS Bulwark (both currently on multinational NATO exercise in the Mediterranean).
The co-location comprises the centre of amphibious excellence in Devonport Naval Base.

Worst-case scenarios that are more likely than you think

A military investigator from Russia stands near the debris of a Russian airliner at its crash site at the Hassana area in Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015. Russia has grounded Airbus A321 jets flown by the Kogalymavia airline, Interfax news agency reported on Sunday, after one of its fleet crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany - RTX1U8L7

A military investigator from Russia near the debris of a Russian airliner at its crash site at the Hassana area in Arish city, north Egypt, November 1, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

The likelihood that a Russian charter airplane, Metrojet 9268, was felled by a bomb after leaving Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, highlights how many national security stories we may be missing — stories that pose at least as much of a threat to the United States as the development of an Iranian nuclear weapon.

Consider: Al Qaeda is still fixated on blowing up airplanes, a dream that may have just played out in the Sinai. But other risks include loose nukes in Pakistan, three-stage rockets in North Korea that can hit the United States, radiological weapons on the Russian black market and the possibility that terrorists with a demonstrated interest in biological warfare will make use of the next major infectious disease outbreak to turn human beings into weapons.

All these threats are getting worse. All might do even more damage, near-term, than Iran.

Start with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, known as AQAP. The organization’s top bomb-maker, Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, is still at large — and still innovating. Six years ago, Asiri pioneered the implanted explosive device. He planted the first-known cavity bomb in his own brother, who blew himself up in front of Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammad bin Nayef. That same year, Asiri was implicated in the Underwear Bomber plot.

By 2010, he had moved on to a new idea: plastic explosives stashed in printer cartridges that were then placed aboard cargo planes. Two years later, he was collaborating with doctors to design new surgical techniques for planting his body bombs.

That none of these plots has succeeded (yet) is a credit to counterterrorism officials in the United States and allied nations. But we have to be right every time; Asiri only needs one lucky break.

Pakistan's nuclear-capable air-launched "Ra'ad" cruise missile is driven past during the National Day military parade in Islamabad in this March 23, 2008, file photo. Pakistan successfully tested a nuclear-capable, air-launched cruise missile with a range of 350 km (220 miles) on Thursday, the military said, a day after India tested a long-range missile. The Hatf-VIII (Ra'ad) missile had been developed exclusively for launch from aircraft, a military statement said.   REUTERS/Mian Khursheed/Files   (PAKISTAN) - RTX5GXS

Pakistan’s nuclear-capable air-launched “Ra’ad” cruise missile in the National Day military parade in Islamabad, March 23, 2008. REUTERS/Mian Khursheed/Files

Meanwhile, AQAP is carving out safe haven in Yemen, a nation that has fallen apart. While trying to counter rebels in Yemen backed by Iran, the Saudi air campaign has empowered Sunni extremists, including al Qaeda and Islamic State. The chaos will give Asiri and his pupils more room to practice.

Islamic State also bragged this summer that it could buy a nuclear weapon from Pakistan. The suggestion is alarming given Pakistan’s growing stockpile and history of proliferation. Even if you ignore the risk of a deliberate transfer — and many Pakistani officials do have a record of double-dealing with terror groups — Pakistan is still a nation that moves nukes in panel vans on surface roads.

It’s also the country with the world’s fastest growing nuclear arsenal. When Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited Washington last month, he failed to dispel U.S. concerns about the vulnerability of his country’s weapons programs. Leaders in Washington and New Delhi are rightly alarmed about Pakistan’s talk of developing tactical nukes for battlefield use. Not only would those weapons risk escalating conflict between India and Pakistan, they would also be catnip for Islamic State, the Taliban, and al Qaeda.


North Korean leader Kim Jung Un guides the test fire of a tactical rocket in an undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency, August 15, 2014. REUTERS/KCNA

To the east, North Korea has restarted its reactor at Yongbyon and rolled out a new long-range missile — that may be capable of hitting the United States. The Hermit Kingdom has shown no signs of reining in its aggression and may be preparing for its fourth nuclear test. The country is also notorious for arms trafficking and proliferation. In 2007, Israel destroyed a Syrian-North Korean nuclear plant in territory now controlled by Islamic State. If the Kim regime does make progress on its weapons of mass destruction programs, those nuclear, chemical and biological advances risk showing up in terrorist hands around the globe.

Nuke smuggling is also good business in Eastern Europe, especially in Moldova, where authorities have only scratched the surface of a black market. Russian criminal vendors are reported to be actively seeking jihadist buyers, particularly those looking to harm the West. In Syria, where Russia’s intervention has frozen a disastrous status quo, chemical warfare continues. The fierce maelstrom now offers Sunni extremist groups a laboratory for their darkest dreams.

ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUALS COVERAGE OF SCENES OF DEATH AND INJURY Syrian activists inspect the bodies of people they say were killed by nerve gas in the Ghouta region, in the Duma neighbourhood of Damascus August 21, 2013. Syrian activists said at least 213 people, including women and children, were killed on Wednesday in a nerve gas attack by President Bashar al-Assad's forces on rebel-held districts of the Ghouta region east of Damascus. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh (SYRIA - Tags: CONFLICT POLITICS CIVIL UNREST TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) TEMPLATE OUT - RTX12S3J

Syrian activists inspect the bodies of people they say were killed by nerve gas in the Duma neighbourhood of Damascus, August 21, 2013. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

How long before chlorine bombs show up in Turkey, Jordan or Israel? How long before Islamic State cobbles together its first radiological weapon — a dirty bomb bound for Ankara, Amman or Tel Aviv?

In a new report, the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense warns that we’re not paying enough attention to the third leg of the WMD triad: germ warfare. Former Senator Joe Lieberman, the panel’s co-chairman and former chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said this week that he’s shocked no jihadist group had yet pulled off a biological attack and warned that the United States is dangerously unprepared for plots that are less complicated than most probably think.

Islamic State’s drive to show viciousness — burning some captives alive, beheading others, torturing and enslaving even more — leaves little doubt that the extremist group might be willing to use toxins, germs or radioactive material in a major international plot. Its access to major population centers in the Middle East points to the potential for catastrophic harm.

Policymakers must consider that the lone wolf, armed with a bread knife and radicalized in his basement, may not be the era’s only short-term danger.

Counterterrorism is a science of worst-case scenarios. The risk of a game-changing plot is always small, but the kind of “black swan” events that could reshape the region look more and more real today. Better to overestimate the threat now than read about it in the papers tomorrow.


Friday, November 13, 2015

Camp James Cook Logbook Entries for 13 November 1770

An Offering before Capt. Cook in the Sandwich ...
An Offering before Capt. Cook in the Sandwich Islands (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
13 November 1770

Tuesday 13th This day they hove the starbd side keel out which we found very little damage'd and was therefore soon done with.

Banks's Journal Entries

13 November 1770

13. As Dr Jaggi had all along insisted on the Countrey air as necessary for our recovery, I immediately agreed with my Landlord Vn Heys for his countrey house, which he immediately furnishd for us, and agreed to supply us with provisions and give us the use of 5 slaves who were there, as well as three we were to take with us at a dollar a day, 4s/ more than our common agreement. This countrey house tho small and very bad was situate about 2 miles out of town in a situation that preposest me much in its favour, being situate on the banks of a briskly running river and well open to the sea breeze, two circumstances which must much contribute to promote circulation of air, a thing of the utmost consequence in a countrey perfectly resembling the low part of my native Lincolnshire. Accordingly, Dr Solander being much better and in the Drs opinion not too bad to be removd, we carried him down to it this day, and also receivd from the ship Mr Sporing our writer, a Seaman, and the Captains own servant who he had sent on hearing of our melancholy situation; so that we were now sufficiently well attended, having 10 Malays and 2 whites besides Mr Sporing. This night however the Dr was extreemly ill, so much so that fresh blisters were applyd to the inside of his thighs which he seemd not at all sensible of; nevertheless in the morn he was something better and from that time recoverd tho by extreemly slow degrees till his second attack. Myself, either by the influence of the Bark of which I had all along taken quantities or by the anziety I sufferd on Dr Solanders account, Miss'd my fever, nor did it return for several days till he became better.
Hawkesworth Journal Entries

Savu to Batavia (continued)

In the mean time, the bottom of the ship being examined, was found to be in a worse condition than we apprehended: the false keel was all gone to within twenty feet of the stern post; the main keel was considerably injured in many places; a great quantity of the sheathing was torn off, and several planks were much damaged; two of them, and the half of a third, under the main channel near the keel, were, for the length of six feet, so worn, that they were not above an eighth part of an inch thick, and here the worms had made their way quite into the timbers; yet in this condition she had sailed many hundred leagues, where navigation is as dangerous as in any part of the world: how much misery did we escape, by being ignorant that so considerable a part of the bottom of the vessel was thinner than the sole of a shoe, and that every life on board depended upon so flight and fragile a barrier between us and the unfathomable ocean! It seemed, however, that we had been preserved only to perish here; Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander were so bad that the physician declared they had no chance for recovery but by removing into the country; a house was therefore hired for them, at the distance of about two miles from the town, which belonged to the master of the hotel, who engaged to furnish them with provisions, and the use of slaves. As they had already experienced their want of influence over slaves that had other masters, and the unfeeling inattention of these fellows to the sick, they bought each of them a Mallay woman, which removed both the causes of their being so ill served; the women were their own property, and the tenderness of the sex, even here, made them good nurses. While these preparations were making, they received an account of the death of Tupia, who sunk at once after the loss of the boy, whom he loved with the tenderness of a parent.

Track through Sunda Strait and Anchorage in Batavia, Java

Hunting Hitler Part II: The Bunker

According to Bullock, Hitler was an opportunis...
According to Bullock, Hitler was an opportunistic adventurer devoid of principles, beliefs or scruples. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hunting Hitler Part II: The Bunker (April 29-April 30)

Today’s post was written by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Archivist at the National Archives in College Park, MD. This is the second blog in a multi-part series.
Around noon on April 29, 1945, the three couriers with copies of Adolf Hitler’s private will and political testament (and one with his marriage license) left the Berlin bunker and headed west. For those still in the bunker, the day was one of feeling trapped and waiting for Hitler to kill himself. Although few believed it would happen, some still were hopeful that the German relief forces would break through the Russian corridor around Berlin and save them.[1]
Hitler ate lunch around 2pm, as usual in the company of the secretaries Gerda Christian and Gertrude Junge. Christian later recalled that nothing was spoken about Hitler’s intention to die or about the manner in which this was to take place.[2]
During the afternoon, communications with the outside world were all but broken and the occupants of the bunker increasingly became unawares of what was happening on the various fronts.[3] Sometime, probably around 4pm, General Alfred Jodl was able to get a message to the bunker that in essence said that the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces (OKW) knew nothing about the Ninth Army; believed General Wenck’s Twelfth Army was to be near Potsdam; and OKW could only report a hasty withdrawal westwards by Army Group Vistula.[4]
Around 4 or 430pm, at a situation conference, Hitler sent for SS Brigadefuehrer Wilhelm Mohnke, the commandant of the Chancellery, and requested an update on what was happening in Berlin. Mohnke spread out a map of central Berlin and reported that in the north the Russians had moved close to the Weidendammer Bridge; in the east they were at the Lustgarten; in the south, the Russians were at Potsdamer Platz and the Aviation Ministry; and in the west they were in the Tiergarten, somewhere between 170 and 250 feet from the Reich Chancellery. When Hitler asked how much longer Mohnke could hold out, the answer was "At most twenty to twenty-four hours, my Fuehrer, no longer."[5]
After the situation conference, sometime between 5pm and 6pm, Erich Kempka (Hitler’s chief driver and head of the Fuehrer’s motor pool) visited the bunker. Outside Hitler’s personal apartment, he stopped to talk. Kempka said Hitler was composed and completely calm. "Even I, who knew him so well, could not read from his attitude the decision he had already taken to end his life." In his right hand he held a large-scale map of Berlin. His left hand trembled slightly; a condition in the final months that was virtually permanent. Hitler asked Kempka about the status of the motor pool. Kempka replied that the vehicles were in bad condition, destroyed and damaged, but that they were still able to transport the necessary food for the emergency hospitals within the zone of the Chancellery. Hitler then asked him how he saw things, to which Kempka replied that his men were involved in the defense of the Reich Chancellery in the sector between the Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz. Hitler asked what did his men think. Kempka replied that without exception they were maintaining a bearing beyond reproach and waiting for relief by General Wenck. Hitler responded quickly "‘We are all waiting for Wenck!’" Hitler and Kempka then shook hands, and Hitler spoke a word of encouragement, smiled and then entered his personal room. Kempka left to join his men. In 1948, Kempka said that at no time did Hitler say goodbye or farewell. Kempka speculated that probably Hitler had not set the time of the suicide in his mind yet.[6]
At about 10pm Hitler summoned SS-Gruppenfuehrer Johann Rattenhuber, Chief of the Reich Security Service (responsible for Hitler’s protection) to his room and ordered him to gather the leading personnel of the Headquarters and his close collaborators in his reception room. "I remember," he later recalled, "that at that moment Hitler looked like a man who had taken a very significant decision. He sat on the edge of a desk, his eyes fixed on one point. He looked determined." Rattenhuber went to the door to carry out his order, but Hitler stopped him and said, as far as he could remember, the following:
"‘You have served me faithfully for many years. Tomorrow is your birthday and I want to congratulate you now and to thank you for your faithful service, because, I shall not be able to do so tomorrow…I have taken the decision…I must leave this world’…"
Rattenhuber went over to Hitler and told him how necessary his survival was for Germany, that there was still a chance to try and escape from Berlin and save his life. "‘What for?’ Hitler argued. ‘Everything is ruined, there is no way out, and to flee means falling into the hands of the Russians…There would never have been such a moment, Rattenhuber,’ he continued , ‘and I would never have spoken to you about my death, if not for Stalin and his army. You try to remember where my troops were…And it was only Stalin who prevented me from carrying out the mission entrusted to me from heaven’…" According to Rattenhuber, Eva Braun came in from the next room and then for several more minutes Hitler talked of himself – of his role in history, that had been prepared for him by destiny, and shaking hands with Rattenhuber asked him to leave them alone. Rattenhuber thought, after him speaking about his mission from heaven, "He had lost his head from fear."[7]
Shortly after 10pm Rattenhuber gathered up the individuals Hitler had requested. Among those present for a meeting with Hitler were Joseph Goebbels, Martin Bormann, Hans Krebs, Wilhelm Burgdorf, and Colonel Nicolaus von Below, Hitler’s Luftwaffe adjutant. Under fire from machine-guns and grenade-launchers, General Helmuth Weidling, Commandant of Berlin, reached the Bunker covered in mud. The atmosphere in the bunker was like that of a front-line command post. All who gathered there for the situation report were in a despondent mood. Hitler, "his face still more pinched, was looking fixedly at the map spread before him." Weidling told Hitler that the situation in the city was hopeless, and that the civilian population, in particular, was in a very bad state. He described the deteriorating military situation. The Russians, he said, would reach the Chancellery by May 1 at the latest. Weidling suggested the troops in Berlin try to break out. Hitler replied this was impossible as the soldiers were battle-weary, ill-armed, and without ammunition. He then suggested that Hitler break out of the city with him and the surviving garrison, but Hitler categorically refused.[8]
Still, Weidling persistently asked Hitler to permit a breakout as soon as possible. Hitler, according to Weidling, with bitter irony in his voice, said "‘Look at my map. Everything shown on it is not based on information from the Supreme Command, but from foreign radio station broadcasts. No one reports to us. I can order anything, but none of my orders is carried out any more.’" Krebs supported Weidling in his attempts to get permission for a breakout. At last it was decided that, as there were no airborne supplies, the troops could break out in small groups, but on the understanding that they should continue to resist wherever possible. Capitulation was out of the question. Weidling felt that although he had failed to get Hitler to call a final halt to the bloodshed, he had managed to persuade him to end resistance in Berlin.[9]
About 1030pm an orderly came into the conference and said he had heard a shortwave broadcast reporting news of that Mussolini and his mistress had been executed by Italian partisans. He may or may not have learned that their bodies had been hoisted upside down in Milan and that their bodies were pelted with stones by the vindictive crowd. In any event Hitler had already determined that his own body should be burned to prevent its exhibition.[10]
After the conference concluded von Below met with Hitler. Earlier during the day von Below had asked Hitler if he would allow him to attempt a breakout to the West. Hitler considered this straightaway and said only that it would probably be impossible. Von Below replied that he thought the way to the West would still be free. Hitler gave him written authority to go and told him he should report to the headquarters of the Combined General Staff, then at Ploen, and to deliver a document to Field Marshal Keitel. That afternoon von Below made his preparations and took part in the evening situation conference. Hitler gave him his hand and said only "best of luck." After saying his goodbyes, Burgdorf handed von Below Hitler’s message. It was addressed to Keitel. In it Hitler stated that the fight for Berlin was drawing to its close, that he intended to commit suicide rather than surrender, that he had appointed Karl Doenitz as his successor, and that Hermann Goering and Heinrich Himmler had betrayed him. At midnight, with his batman Heinz Matthiesing, von Below left the bunker and followed roughly the same route as the others (including the three couriers) who had left earlier during the day.[11]
It was apparently after Hitler had said his goodbyes to von Below that Hitler ordered his dog Blondi poisoned. This was in part because he wanted to ascertain the effectiveness of the poison capsules he had been given and also the desire not to have the dog captured by the Russians. After the poison had been administered the dog instantaneously died, Hitler came to see the results and to take his leave of the dog. According to witnesses, Hitler said nothing, nor did his face express any feeling. Afterwards, Hitler returned to his study. Junge later said that after Hitler had seen his dead dog, "His face was like his own death mask. He locked himself into his room without a word."[12]
While Hitler was in his room, Frau Junge and Frau Christian were conversing and having coffee with two doctors, when Eva Braun joined them. She said that Hitler would die when he received confirmation that the documents carried by the couriers had reached the persons they had been sent to. She also said it would not be difficult to die because the poison had already been tested on a dog, and death would come quickly.[13]
Afterwards, Junge, Christian, and Eva Braun joined Hitler for a bite to eat. Hitler in a calm and deliberate manner said that there was no other way for him, than to commit suicide, because he wanted never, alive or dead, to fall into the hands of the enemy. He knew from the example of Mussolini, how he would be treated. He also said he could not fight with his soldiers, because in case he was wounded, there would not be anybody in his surroundings who would give him the mercy-shot, in case he was unable to do that himself. Hitler repeatedly told them that after he was dead, he wanted to be cremated so that nobody shall find him. He said the best is a shot through the mouth, death was instantaneous. Eva Braun was for taking cyanide and pulled a little brass cylinder out of her dress, asking whether it would hurt and stating that she was afraid to suffer. She added she was ready to die, but it must be painless. Hitler told her that cyanide causes paralysis of the nervous and breathing system and causes death in a few seconds. So Christian and Junge, not expecting anything good from the Russians, asked Hitler for an ampoule of poison. He walked to his bedroom where he got the poison. In handing it to them, he said, "I am sorry that as a parting gesture I cannot hand you a nicer present" and that they were very courageous and he wished his generals would have had so much poise and courage as the women did.[14]
Meanwhile, at 10pm on April 29 the three couriers, Zander, Lorenz, and, Johannmeier, found two boats and pushed out into Havel lake, heading southwards for the Wannsee bridgehead, held by units of the German Ninth Army. In the early hours of April 30 they landed independently, Johannmeier on the Wannsee bridgehead, Lorenz and Zander on the Schwanenwerder Peninsula. There they remained, resting all day in underground bunkers; and in the evening they reunited, and sailed together to the Pfaueninsel, an island in the Havel. From the Wannsee bridgehead Johannmeier had been able to send a radio message to Doenitz, informing him of their position and asking that an airplane be sent to fetch them. On the Pfaueninsel, Johannmeier and Zander obtained civilian clothing and disposed of their uniforms.[15]
Shortly after midnight of April 29, Hitler began saying his farewells, realizing he would die on April 30. These goodbyes were with four or five different groups.[16] They lasted until sometime after 2am. One group consisted of some 20-25 persons who worked in the Reich Chancellery and lived in its underground bunker. These included the secretaries, many of them Hitler had never met. Another group, again numbering between 20-25 persons, included the officers of his escort commando. In the first instances Hitler shook hands with everybody, thanking each one individually. With the latter group he did not say anything when shaking hands.[17]
When addressing the second group, Hitler, in a very calm and conversational manner, said that he did not wish to deliver himself to the Russians and that he, therefore, was going to end his life, and that he was now releasing them from their oath. He thanked them for their services and wished them all the best on our way to the western powers, for it was his wish that they should try to get through to the Americans or British, but that they should not get into Russian hands, on no account.[18]
During these farewells, Junge and Eva Braun watched from a short distance. The former asked the later if the time had come for her and Hitler to kill themselves. Eva Braun said no, but that she would tell her when the time had come. She added that Hitler still had to say goodbye to those closest to him. At some point in the early hours of April 30, Rattenhuber, who was celebrating his 60th birthday, left his colleagues and their birthday celebration, and joined Junge and Eva Bruan. They, all from Munich, talked about Munich and Bavaria, and how sad it was to have to die so far from home.[19] Meanwhile, Hitler was preparing to say good bye to those closest to him, knowing for many it would be the last time they would see him alive.

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