A military history tumblr. I place special emphasis on the Eastern Front of WWII, the Byzantine Empire, Eastern Europe in the 17th Century, the Mongols and Tatars, as well as military engineering throughout the ages.
General George S. Patton’s grave, located at the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial.
Luxembourg served as the headquarters of Patton’s Third Army, and many of the Third Army’s casualties are buried there. General Patton, on his deathbed, requested to “be buried with my men.”
There is general disagreement as to where war dead should be interred - in their home nation, or in the place where they fought and died. Patton certainly preferred the latter, and even wrote a poem about the subject:
His acceptance had been whetted, even aided and abetted
By emolument that netted some five grand.
So, with energy ecstatic this fanatic left his attic
And hastened on to Washington, D.C.
Where with verve and vim and vigor, he went hunting for the Nigger
In the woodpile of the W. P. B.
After months of patient process Morton’s picular proboscis
Had unearthed a reprehensible hiatus
In reply by Blair and Blair to his thirteenth questionnaire
In connection with their inventory status.
They had written—“Your directive when effective was defective
"In its ultimate objective—and what’s more
"Neolithic hieroglyphic is, to us, much more specific
"Than the drivel you keep dumping at our door."
This sacrilege discovered, Morton fainted—but recovered
Sufficiently to write, “We are convinced
"That sabotage is camouflaged behind perverted persiflage.
"Expect me on the 22nd inst."
But first he sent a checker, then he sent a checker’s checker
Still nothing was disclosed as being wrong.
So a checker’s checker’s checker came to check the checker’s checker
And the process was laborious and long.
Then followed a procession of the follow-up profession
Through the records of the firm of Blair and Blair.
From breakfast until supper some new super-follow-upper
Tore his hair because of Morton’s questionnaire.
The file is closed, completed, though our Hero, undefeated
Carries on in some Department as before.
And Vict’ry is in sight of—not because of—but in spite of
Doctor Morton’s mighty efforts in the war.
“REFERENCE: B AND B3c-24614 FILE: INV. FORM A62B-M. Q.” by General George S. Patton.
The poem is a critique of useless bureaucracy slowing American war industry during WWII. In particular, it alludes to industry leaders’ reluctance and outright refusal to employ African Americans as workers in industry.
For all the bravado and military exploits Patton is known for, his love of literature and poetry is often ignored. As a child, he memorized numerous passages from Shakespeare, the Bible, Mark Twain, and others, and would often entertain family and friends by reciting it.
His passion for the written word did not diminish as he entered the military. Throughout his life he wrote dozens of poems, and though he never published them, some were made available after his death.
Here is a small collection of Patton’s poetry, which will be updated as the poems are posted:
"Damascus steel" is the name given to a type of steel historically produced in the Middle East and in India. It was first produced in India, sometime in 200 B.C. Initially referred to as "Wootz" steel, returning Crusaders named the steel blades after the ironworking center. Damascus blades were held in near-mythical regard, being sharper and more resilient than any blade produced in the West. A characteristic trait of Wootz-Damascus steel was its bands of light and dark metal, called "watering," "firind” or ”jawhar.” A historical example of Wootz-Damascus steel:
Wootz and Damascus steel are the same material. Both the Middle East and India produced ingots and forged them. The notion that India only produced ingots, which were then traded to the Middle East and then forged is nonsense.
However, there is a difference between Wootz-Damascus steel and “faux-Damascus.” Faux-Damascus is simply pattern-welded (see below for an explanation) steel which maintains the characteristic light/dark bands of steel, but does not have the extraordinary material properties of true Wootz-Damascus steel. An example of modern, faux-Damascus: Wootz-Damascus steel was lost in the middle east sometime in the 18th Century, but the practice hung on India into the 19th Century. The steel was produced until the destabilization and destruction caused by British colonization.
How was Wootz-Damascus made?
Forging steel is an incredibly complex process. Wootz-Damascus steel relies on several factors:
a) a proper crucible forge, and extremely fine temperature control
b) specific ores which contained choice impurities, like molybdenum, vanadium, tungsten, phosphorus and others. In the same way that carbon can be added to iron to make it stronger, other, smaller elements will increase the strength of steel further
c) a specific, lost technique of using natural materials like leaves and wood biomass to carburize the iron, adding carbon microstructures to the microscopic structure of the steel matrix.
Pattern-welding is often associated with Wootz-Damascus steel, but is not actually a part of the process. Pattern-welding is the practice of taking two different types of steel, placing them in alternating bars, then heating the bundle together and folding and twisting the metals together as they are hot-worked. This produces a spiral pattern reminiscent of Damascus steel. However, pattern-welded steel is inferior to both true Wootz-Damascus steel and 19th Century European homogeneous steel.
Wootz-Damascus steel displayed a combination of hardness and flexibility which seemed impossible to ironworkers of the time. Iron, by itself, is very soft and does not hold an edge well. However, if carbon is added to iron during forging, the iron becomes denser and harder, creating steel. However, as you add more carbon, the steel becomes harder and harder until it is so brittle it will simply break when struck upon something.
These two properties are inversely proportional, so in normal steel working you must settle on a mix of hardness and ductility that best suits your needs.
However, Wootz-Damascus steel is both superplastic and extremely hard. The structure of Wootz-Damascus steel contains two types of steel - a soft steel called ferrite and an extremely hard steel called cementite (Fe3C). Steel can actually be many different allotropes of steel, all of which are differentiated by their internal micro-structure. Consulting a phase diagram for iron and carbon:
The left axis is temperature, and the bottom axis is carbon content. As you increase temperature, or increase carbon content, the types of allotropes produced varies. All Wootz-Damascus examined so far is hyper-eutectoid, that is, it contains from about 1% to 2% carbon content. This is an extremely high carbon content, and would be useless for weapons if produced by European blacksmiths. They had no way of tempering the extreme brittleness of cementite. All European weapons were in or near the hypo-eutectoid range (less than .83% carbon content).
The secret to Wootz-Damascus steel lies both in its ore and in its carburization process.
Judging from the composition of historical Wootz-Damascus steel blades, the ore used by Middle Eastern and Indian metalsmiths contained trace amounts of other elements, such as molybdenum, vanadium, and tungsten. In modern times, such elements are used in steel production to produce stronger steels. Adding impurities into iron works because iron atoms are so large there is “room” for smaller atoms to be shoved into the crystalline structure:
The above image is for carbon atoms bonding in what is called interstitial sites. However, elements like vanadium and molybdenum are actually larger than the iron atoms, so they replace iron atoms in the crystalline matrix, creating a substitutional alloy. Testing has shown that vanadium traces as low as 40 parts per million are enough to significantly alter the structure of the steel as a whole, creating cementite bands and cords. By having the cementite allotropes cluster together in bands, it helps to strengthen the material, also aiding in creating the characteristic waves and patterns.
By far the most significant process used was that of carburization. In usual terms, carburization is a hardening technique which heats metal in the presence of some carbon rich material, the carbon is then found on the surface of the metal, hardening it. Wootz-Damascus carburization produced an entirely different result, however.
Wootz-Damascus steel contains carbon nanotubes, a material that was only recently invented in the last two decades. Carbon nanotubes are a special type of carbon allotrope where carbon atoms bond in a peculiar tube formation, with a dominating hexagonal pattern:
Carbon nanotubes have a wide variety of strange and extraordinary properties, but the properties most significant to the production of Wootz-Damascus are its hardness, elastic, and strength.
Carbon nanotubes are the strongest materials currently known to man, both in terms of tensile strength and elasticity. This means they can bend and flex without breaking easily. However, they are also extremely hard, the bulk modulus of carbon nanotubes exceeds that of even diamonds (460+ GPa for carbon nanotubes vs. 420 GPa for a diamond). This means that carbon nanotubes display an unprecedented combination of both strength and flexibility, which is something that pure steel cannot even come close to replicating.
Nanotubes observed in a 17th Century Middle Eastern Sabre are found to encompass the cementite cords - the allotrope of steel which is usually too fragile to be used in weapons. The carbon nanotubes act as a sheath, reinforcing the cementite cords, allowing it to be both strong and malleable. The mythic properties of Wootz-Damascus steel are derived from this extraordinary and amazing steel structure.
It must be noted that modern carbon nanotubes are produced using expensive and advanced methods, such as using high amperage arcs of electricity, plasma torches, or pulsed lasers. Somehow, ancient metalworkers were able to produce carbon nanotubes using a specific blend of ores, woody biomass, and leaves, treated and forged in an process unfortunately lost to modern engineers.
The Guns of Ghengis Khan’s Descendents - the Matchlocks of the Mughals
The Mughal Empire was a Mongol successor nation, started by Zahir-ud-din Muhammad Babur. Babur was a descendent of both the legendary Tamerlane and Ghengis Khan.
Invading from modern day Uzbekistan, Babur would establish a firm foothold into the Indian subcontinent. His successors would eventually go on to conquer the entirety of India, a feat that Alexander the Great and even Ghengis Khan could not accomplish.
The Mughal military was a terrifying blend of Steppe, Persian, and Indian traditions. Mounted archers and lancers inherited the best of the Mongol and Persian tactics. War elephants were armed and armored, and taught to tear their opponents limb from limb.
However, the Mughals were also highly advanced technologically, absorbing the expert metallurgists from India. Damascus steel was wrought into superb weapons of war. Sprawling foundries forged high quality cannons, producing some of the largest examples in history. Gunsmiths produced high quality and virtually identical pieces by eye. This meant that Mughal guns, at least ones from the same gunsmith, had interchangeable parts, something that European gunsmiths could not replicate until some 300 years later.
Here, a Mughal matchlock gun is dissected, to reveal why it was superior to its European counterparts. Made of Damascus steel, the barrels could withstand higher pressures, so could be manufactured longer, and could be packed with more gunpowder than a European matchlock. In addition, the barrel had a novel constriction at its base. This blocked a loaded bullet from being rammed into the gunpowder. This gap provided the gunpowder with a pocket of air - leading to a faster burn and thus more muzzle velocity. The combination of more efficient propellant, longer barrels, and the novel addition of a rear and front sight meant that a Mughal matchlock was leagues more accurate and deadly than a contemporary European one.
Lo! in the winter, the snow and ice came in such abundance that the Danube was frozen over, which had not occurred in times reaching very far back. But the Hungarians from the inside broke the ice every day and guarded the Danube thus, so that there was a continual fight by the foot-soldiers against the ice. However, when the hard frost came, the whole Danube was frozen over, yet the Mongols by no means tried to cross with their horses. Listen to what they did. They led many horses and beasts up to the banks of the Danube, but for three days they sent no one to look after them, so that the beasts seemed to be left without keepers; and none of those people made an appearance in those regions. Then the Hungarians, thinking that the Tartars had retreated, suddenly crossed over and led the animals over the ice. When the Tartars observed this, they thought they could cross freely over the ice on horseback. Which was done, and so many crossed in one charge that from that part of the Danube they filled the surface of the earth.
Canon Roger describes the Mongols crossing the Danube in February 1242. Mongolian horses do not require keepers, and will herd themselves together if left alone.
The Mongols would go on to launch successful punitive expeditions into Croatia and The Holy Roman Empire.
ERC 90 Sagie on patrol in Central Africa, 15th June, 2014
As part of France’s Operation Cymothoe, an ERC 90 Sagie platoon leads an armored patrol toward the Central African Village of Bodjobo, to defend it from rebel forces.
The ERC 90 Sagie is a heavily armed armored car primarily employed by French Forces, though several other nations have purchased down-graded export versions. The French F4 version, seen here, is equipped with a long barrel, high velocity smoothbore 90mm cannon, giving it a grossly disproportional amount of firepower compared to its weight class. The F4 cannon is capable of firing APFSDS rounds, and is more than a match for any modern IFV or APC, and is capable of defeating 1980’s armor with ease.
While outgunned by the more advanced AMX-10RC, the ERC 90 is still used heavily by French forces deployed to Africa. This is due to the ERC 90’s light weight, which allows it traverse the majority of African bridges without risking a collapse. This light weight also means it can be air transported by a C-130 Hercules or Transall C-160, something that the heavier and larger AMX-10RC cannot accomplish.
Note that in the last picture, the French soldier on the right has a rifle grenade attached to his FAMAS. French forces still employ rifle grenades - their increased versatility in payload and warhead diameter makes up for their decreased range compared to 40mm grenade launcher systems.
15 juin 2014, 17h48, dans le nord-ouest de la République centrafricaine, un détachement du GTIA « de Boissieu », composé d’un peloton ERC-90 Sagaie et de véhicules P4, progresse vers le village de Bodjobo, pour repousser les groupes armés qui pourraient menacer la population. Environ 2000 militaires français sont actuellement déployés dans l’opération Sangaris, aux côtés des 5800 hommes de la MISCA. Lancée le 5 décembre 2013 par le Président de la République, l’opération Sangaris vise à rétablir une sécurité minimale en République Centrafricaine et à faciliter la montée en puissance de la MISCA, ainsi que son déploiement opérationnel. Crédits EMA / ECPAD
Full Chronological Record of Events, Dog-Day, 19th February
0537 ComDesDiv 101 reports that HALL, JOHN D. HENLEY, STEMBEL and TWIGGS have maintained activity throughout the night. No return fire has been received nor has any other activity been observed on beaches. All ships have remained within ammunition allowiances.
0555 SALT LAKE CITY ordered to take over SAN FRANCISCO’S schedule of fires. PENSACOLA ordered to take over B0ST0N’s schedule of fires. TUSCALOOSA ordered to take over PITTSBURGH’s schedule of fires. These fires to be added to each ship’s own schedule since SAN FRANCISCO, B0ST0N, and PITTSBURGH are not present.
0559 Admiral TURNER takes over control of gunfire support from Admiral BLANDY.
0613 PENSACOLA ordered to maintain neutralization of dual purpose battery in 199 0.
0638 CHESTER ordered to maintain neutralization of Coast Defense battery in 219 A, and Dual Purpose battery in 202 X, assisted by NORTH CAROLINA as necessary.
0725 From CTF 52 to CTF 54: “BUOYS AND RADAR REFLECTORS REPORTED ABOUT 1200 YARDS OFF BEACHES. REQUEST YOU SEE THAT THEY ARE DESTROYED.”
0731 SANTA FE ordered to fire limited amount of White Phosphorous at Coast Defense battery in 132 K.
(a) Mine Belt is that portion of a Minefield which contains mines laid to a regular pattern and of the ordered number of mines per yard of front,
(b) Mine Field is the area which contains one or more of the belts referred to above, but at the same time, containing several areas in addition, of scattered mines.
(A) Protective Minefields:
(1) The forward edge is often unmarked. When it is marked, it will be with false gaps, leading onto mines; with tactical wiring not beneficial to the attacker, wire obstacles to neutralize mechanical clearing devices and most types of anti-personnel device and automatic sentry. Unmarked mines are likely to be scattered about also.
(2) The rear edge is normally marked, low and high wire, Dannert Coils, cairns etc., all being used for this purpose,
(B) TACTICAL MINEFIELDS
(1) In many cases no marking at all. (2) May be well fenced or marked small cairns and notice boards “ACHTUNG MINEN” or “ZONE MINATA.” (3) Marked by track along front, (4) Marked by plough furrow along front. (5) Marked with cairns on 40 gal drums at corners,
(C) DUMMY FIELDS
Main Axis only. Naturally well marked. Notice Boards etc. May be Booby-Trapped.
(D) DELAYED FIELDS
Generally very obscure. Often laid in vicinity of some very recognisable feature, telegraph pole, kilostone, etc,
Who still talks nowadays of the extermination of the Armenians?
Adolf Hitler in his Obersalzberg Speech, August 22nd, 1939. Hitler, outlining his plan to use Death’s Head units to murder and annihilate the local populaces of the Soviet Union, reassured his Wehrmacht commanders that their actions would not be remembered negatively.
Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima and destroyed its usefulness to the enemy. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of TNT. It had more than two thousand times the blast power of the British “Grand Slam” which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare.
The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many fold. And the end is not yet. With this bomb we have now added a new and revolutionary increase in destruction to supplement the growing power of our armed forces. In their present form these bombs are now in production and even more powerful forms are in development.
It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe. The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East.
President Harry S. Truman, 6 August 1945 (via demons)