Category Archives: Military

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The Mystery of Dunkirk

Why on Earth was the British Expeditionary Force allowed to escape in 1940?

That is the question everyone with a modicum of military savvy has to ask when examining the story of Dunkirk. (Well at least after coming down from your outrage due to underrepresentation in the film of Pygmy hermaphrodites, transgender unicorns, and Badass Warrior Womyn in front-line combat formations.) One positive side effect of the recent movie I’ve noticed is that some folks are indeed asking that question.

The Wermacht steamrolled over Poland and France despite the disparity of numbers, displaying a functional combined arms doctrine the world had never seen before… and yet allowed Britain’s army a second chance to fight them (when they inevitably returned with a more powerful ally), despite being poised to cut them off from the sea and destroy their ability to fight.

Not every fan of history knows the reason Dunkirk was allowed to succeed. Historians usually explain it away with one dubious claim or another. When I found out the truth, I just had to shake my head. And yet…it made sense.

A British historian spent the post war period interviewing the German high command, and its field marshals. The book he wrote clears up this and many other curiosities about WWII in the European Theater. I highly recommend it.

An added bonus is the reactions you’ll receive just toting the paperback around. On the cover is an image of a Nazi-era German flag, which happens to have a swastika on it. Rabid SJW thought police will be triggered, while public-educated FaceBorg junkies will often just run away. It’s Wolfenstein 3D all over again–but without intrusion into your gaming fun!

 

 

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Proelium Veritas by John Murphy

The sequel to Mission Veritas is finally out. I haven’t yet had a chance to start this dystopian military sci-fi novel (my categorization–not necessarily the author’s), but will post a review once I’ve consumed it. Meanwhile, here’s the skinny:

 

Vaughn Killian knows two things: what brutal combat is really like, and that the Carthenogens are anything but benevolent.

The good news is he’s completed the elite Black Saber training and is ready to deploy. The bad news is he’s being held back from assignment due to a technicality. When disaster strikes, he helps plan a counterattack, only to wind up adrift in space, stranded half a galaxy away from Earth, where his skills are needed most.

The people of Earth are still under the Carthenogens’ utopian delusion. The Global Alliance does their bidding, carving up city after city in a grand relocation plan, but most relocated people never arrive. Instead, they’re disappearing somewhere by the interstellar boatload. But the media mentions none of that. The population is kept in the dark, and the only ones who can stop them are all but vanquished. How can one isolated fighter help his fellow citizens from the cold vacuum of space?

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Slaughter City: The Sergeant #6 – a Review

When we last left Master Sergeant Mahoney and Corporal Cranepool, Patton had tried to force Eisenhower’s hand to get the war blazing along the Moselle River, so he could drive on to Berlin. But Ike called his bluff and the 33rd “Hammerhead” Division was left caught between Perdition and the deep blue sea.

Well, a deep river, anyway, and more brown than blue. With no artillery support or air cover and little in the way of supplies, the Hammerheads were thrown back across the river even though the defenders are hardly Germany’s finest.

But now, Patton has scrounged up some support, and is driving his boot into the 4th points of his subordinates to make the attack work this time.

Here’s an excerpt from a scene where Patton comes to motivate the troops personally, down at company level:

 “Now listen here, men,” Patton growled, “I know what you went through last night. A lot of your buddies were killed, and all of you nearly got killed yourselves. Now we all know that it’s no fun to lose a battle because Americans aren’t losers. By nature, we are winners. Given half a chance, we will win any battle in which we are placed. That’s because we’re tough and strong and because we love to fight. Yes, by God, we love to fight.”

Patton made a fist and held it up in the air. “We love to beat the shit out of our enemies and step on his face afterwards. We love to rip open his belly and tear his guts out. We pray for the chance to kick him in the balls and split his head open. Is there any man out here who doesn’t feel that way?”
Nobody said a word, just as Patton knew they wouldn’t.
“Good,” Patton said. “I knew there weren’t any cowards or queers in this company. I knew because you’re all good, red-blooded Americans. I know you’re just itching to get across that river over there and lay your hands on those Germans. By God, I feel sorry for those Germans when I just think about it. I really do because I can imagine what you’re going to do to them.”

Patton pointed to the Moselle River. “You’re going to make that river over there run red with their blood for what they did to you last night. There’ll be so many dead Germans over there you won’t be able to put your foot down without stepping on one of their noses. I feel bad that I have to hold you back until midnight because I know you want to go over there right now. But you have to wait just a little while longer, and I want you to use that extra time to clean your weapons and cover them with a light film of oil so they won’t get rusty. If you have some extra time after that, you can sharpen your bayonets so they’ll cut deeper into those Hun bastards over there. You might want to make sure your canteens are filled with water because you’re gonna get thirsty while you’re killing all those bastards. And as we all know, tonight is going to be much different from last night because tonight you’ll have plenty of artillery preparation and support. By the time you get across that river, those g****mn kraut-eating bastards won’t know where the hell they are. Their eardrums will be bleeding, and their brains will be upside-down in their heads. The poor bastards will probably try to run away from you, but I want you to go right after them and kill them like the dogs that they are. And I don’t want you to shoot over their heads or at their legs. I want you to aim directly for the center of their backs and bring them down. We’re not going to play with them after what they did to us last night. And they probably know it. I’ll bet they’re shitting their pants over there right now because they know they’ve made us mad, and a mad American soldier is a fearsome thing.”

There’s a lot else happening in this book, including an SS death squad using a seductress to kill GIs; a panty-raid at a USO show; both Mahoney and once-innocent farmboy Cranepool wounded in action; shooting a locomotive with bazookas, and some down & dirty urban house-to-house combat.

After a relatively slow-paced departure in the last book, Len Levinson is back on the offensive in Slaughter City, and in fine blood-splattered form.

Doom River: The Sergeant #5 – a Review

Due mostly to my schedule, my blogged reviews of this blood’n’guts war series stopped at #4. But my negligence stops, now!

Master Sergeant Mahoney and Corporal Cranepool have just returned from their attachment to a French unit liberating Paris. It was supposed to be cushy duty, but only the end of it was cushy–in the arms of some French floozies in a fancy hotel.

doomriverpaperbackThe Sergeant and his sidekick are back just in time to meet Charlie Company’s new C.O. Captain Anderson is a young, inexperienced officer, but one of the good ones (a rare combo, in my day). They’re also just in time for one of Patton’s “recon in force” missions, to push across the Moselle and keep the pressure on the Germans.

Patton is out of gas for his tanks, and frightfully low on artillery, ammo and supplies. He assumes if he is able to stir up some action, Ike will be forced to send him what he needs, so Patton can push on to Berlin and finish the war before Christmas. But Ike isn’t having it–all the supplies will be diverted to Field Marshal Montgomery, who is tasked with taking Antwerp.

(Historical note: Yes, Patton’s 3rd Army could have reached Berlin and ended the war before Christmas of ’44 if their supplies hadn’t been cut off. Also true that all those resources were given to Monty–somewhat less than a daring or decisive general–for Operation Market Garden (of A Bridge Too Far fame), which had less chance of success and, even if successful, would have had a lesser impact on the grand strategic situation. Most likely, Patton’s onslaught was intentionally delayed in order to give the Red Army time to capture the half of Europe which had been promised to Stalin by FDR at the Yalta conferences.)

So the 33rd “Hammerhead” Division conducts a river crossing at great cost, since they didn’t have much in the way of artillery support, and their men and boats are chewed up pretty bad by the German defenders. Still, they now have a beachhead from which the Wermacht has to throw them. Mahoney’s regiment bears the brunt of this counterattack.doomriverebook

The Americans are in a bad position, but Patton doesn’t like surrendering ground once he’s taken it.

This installment in the series could launch a character study on the sort of men who populate the officer corps of an army. Whether a commander wants to make a name for himself, or simply doesn’t want a sub-par evaluation, it is their troops who are used like cannon  fodder to enhance or maintain their egos.

Mahoney himself has some moments in this book in which he demonstrates more humanity than is normal for him. (Also, in this one we are introduced to PFC Butsko. I can’t help but notice the similarities between him and the platoon sergeant of The RatBastards–also named Butsko.) Still, this is a transitional phase for Mahoney, and the real plot dynamics focus on other characters.

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An Cosantoir reviews Hell & Gone

An Cosantoir is the official magazine of Ireland’s Defense Forces. Sgt. Wayne Fitzgelarld, the editor, has recently reviewed Hell & Gone.

From his review:

Henry goes for all action with his ‘Dirty Dozen’ like squad sent on a daring mission in Sudan, with a final battle that reminded me of Black Hawk Down.

The ending of the book is explosive; you are in the thick of it.

Nice to find out that folks across the pond appreciate it, too. My thanks to Wayne for taking the time and effort to share his thoughts. His complete review is available in An Cosantoir, or on Hell & Gone‘s Amazon page.

And speaking of that, Hell & Gone has been picking up some reviews lately. In fact, it has received more reviews in the last couple months since the BookBub promotion than in all the preceding years. Wish I had done this much earlier…but then, I did almost everything wrong with my first few books, and squandered or missed out on numerous opportunities out of my marketing ignorance.

Don’t forget: the first two Retreads novels are available as Audible downloads as well as E-Books and paperbacks. If you’re like me, then listening to a book is the best way to “read” these days, with our busy schedules and drive time. Hell & Gone is narrated by David H. Lawrence XVII, and Tier Zero is narrated by Johnny C. Hayes. Both voice actors have their own style of delivery, and the contrast is interesting. I’m toying with the idea of recording the third book in the series, False Flag, myself. Don’t know if/when I’ll get around to that, or if it’s a good idea. We’ll see.

Anyway, if you can’t spare the time to read the first two normally, buy the Audible versions and let us entertain you while you work, drive, or whatever.

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Bam! Hell & Gone is a Bestseller

Recently I organized a little media blitz for my debut shoot-’em-up, and ran a 99 cent promotion. The results have been encouraging.

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I’m not a full-time author (I still work a “real” job, drat the luck), so I’m not able to sit at a computer all day and track rankings. The best I saw was that Hell & Gone hit #1 bestseller in war, pulp, and men’s adventure, and reached #70 on the top “paid in Kindle store” on Tuesday night. It was inside the top 50 in some other categories, too, but I don’t know where it peaked. Could a healthy number of reviews/increased visibility be forthcoming? You can bet I’ll be paying attention, when I can.

I’m not sure how many sales I’m getting on Kobo, Apple and Barnes & Noble, where it’s also on sale for 99 cents. (BTW both Hell & Gone and Tier Zero are also available as Audible audio books.)

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I also have a 99 cent promotion scheduled to start Saturday (November 5) for False Flag, the third book in The Retreads series. I don’t have the same level of media blitz lined up, and it’s a darker/more controversial storyline, so I don’t expect the same caliber of spike. However, Election Day happens right in the middle of the promo, and approximately 40% of those who go to the polls will be voting to make this speculative dystopia a reality. So it’s kinda’ fitting.

UPDATE: The sales reports are trickling in from other stores, starting with Barnes & Noble. Don’t know where it put me on their algorithm, but I see a boatload of sales. I need to do this again.

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Military Hand-Arm Signals in Movies

A general pet peeve of mine is when an author or film maker attempts to depict military action, or a military milleu, and obviously lacks the knowledge to do it right.

One specific annoyance in the last decade or more is the hand-arm signals used by actors portraying fighting men.

(Such signals are used by marines and infantry while moving tactically in the field, prior to contact, lest they break noise discipline by talking.)

Now, granted: units down to the platoon level often develop their own S.O.P.s for signaling, but in my experience the basic set of signals (get in the wedge; move out; double-time; cease-fire; rally point; head count; halt; freeze; enemy sighted; etc.) are universal across the combat arms in both the US Army and USMC.

So here’s what I think happened: Some movie was made depicting soldiers or marines on a patrol or some other tactical movement. The point man heard or saw something to make him suspect the enemy was close, so he gave the signal to “freeze.” The grunts stopped in their tracks. Some other film maker watched the scene and decided, “Hey, that’s kinda’ cool. Now I know everything I need to know about tactical movement.”

So that film maker, when it was his turn to display his wealth of military research, had an actor use the gesture when it was his turn to film such a scene. Problem is, he thought it was the symbol for “halt,” (open palm facing the troops: “Come to a stop, you richard-heads.”) which is used in different circumstances than “freeze” (raised fist: “Don’t make a move or you might get all our asses shot off!)

After that, any time a similar scene was shot in any subsequent military movie, rather than hire an advisor to police basic minutia like this, the director went by how it was done in the last flick. After all, “it looked cool.”

So now, invariably, the “freeze” signal is used to command a halt on the screen (even in non-tactical situations, and even in vehicle convoys).

The fallacy is so ubiquitous that I wouldn’t be surprised if actual soldiers begin jacking up the S.O.P. in a life-imitates-art manner after having grown up on these poorly researched movies.

[End of rant.]

Dialog at Twilight’s Last Gleaming #1

There’s some notable conversations taking place in “flyover country” these days. I think I’ll document some of them.

NGV: I know (our co-worker) has a family to provide for, but stealing from the company…pissing off the customers…I don’t see how they wouldn’t fire him.

RAV: I don’t want anybody to lose their job–especially in this economy. He needs to go on welfare or something, because he’s damaging our reputation.

NGV: I feel bad for his family, though.

RAV: Yeah. There ain’t that many jobs out there, and frankly, depending on what happens in this election, there might not be an America for much longer. It could be a lot more like Brazil or Venezuela pretty soon.

NGV: Speaking of that, when the shit hits the fan, you’re welcome to bring your family and follow me to (redacted) in Idaho.

RAV: No kidding? (Wow, he’s a lot more prepared than I thought.)

NGV: Yeah, seriously. If all you’ve got is your bug-out bag, that’s cool. Ammunition won’t be a problem, either–we’ve got plenty to share.

RAV: Oh yeah? (Holy cow, he’s blowing OPSEC all to hell. Doesn’t he realize we’re talking on cellphones?) I don’t know where I’ll be when the day comes, or what my travel options will be, but I really do appreciate that. (I just wish you’d be wiser about what you say on an unsecured line.)

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The Admiral – A Review

Pre-Napoleonic era wars are veiled in obscurity for all but historians and fans of history. So it seems incredible to most people that the Dutch were once a formidable power in Europe, and even developed some important military innovations (it was they who first fielded platoon-sized units, for instance).

This is a well-crafted film that seems to have drawn more from actual history than from convention, cliche` and ubiquitous Hollywood tropes. It highlights a period in the life of Michiel de Ruyter, a 17th Century naval tactician who led the Dutch Navy to impressive victories over the British and French.

Similar to Napoleon Bonaparte over a century later, de Ruyter was a commoner who rose through the ranks to a field-grade commission on his own ability and execution, among a typical European hierarchy built upon caste and dominated by the nobility. During the tenure of De Witt as prime minister of the Dutch Republic, de Ruyter is promoted to admiral, and leads the Dutch Fleet to glory.

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CGI was used to depict a top-down view of the naval battles, which looked like something you might see in a PC strategy game. I consider this a clever idea…but it was fumbled in the execution. It does provide an idea of the opposing forces, but usually does little to depict how the battles played out. As an erstwhile armchair historian, using the CGI strategic view to better effect would have rendered this film a tour de force of audio-visual military history.

I’m far from an afficionado on Netherlands politics in any century, but the political subplot rang true. It also provides an historic lesson relevant to the situation citizens of the USA find themselves in right now (not that anybody from either major side has any interest in learning from history). The Dutch abandoned self-rule by representative government and volunteered for the chains of an oligarchy (a monarchy, on the surface). The film also provides a tiny glimpse of the sort of consequences you will suffer by trading away your freedom for promises of unity, security, ethnic pride, or whatever magic beans strike you as a good trade during a fever-peak of emotion.

The prince of the Netherlands, who would be elevated to king, seems entirely familiar to anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of European royalty (maybe any royalty anywhere). The film makers made it clear enough for adults in the audience what sort of indulgences the prince harbored, but I appreciated that his faggotry wasn’t smeared in our faces to the point that it distracts from the main plot.

It’s a Dutch film, and so most of the dialog is Dutch, with English subtitles.