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Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Pardon Ostracised Irish Soldiers that joined British Army in WWII.



An estimated 10% of Irish soldiers from the Republic of Ireland, deserted to join the British Army during WWII. Some of these soldiers (around 5,000) helped liberate small nations under National Socialism. Some were present when the British Army liberated Belsen Death Camp and others fought against Japan in the far East. This was only twenty years after Ireland won Independence from the UK during the Tan War and the following Civil War. These events left strong anti-British feeling and caused much suffering for Ireland's people.

However, I hope these men, who were caught in a dilemma of conscience, will be pardoned by the Irish government as they remained proud Irishmen and returned to Ireland, after the war, to be ostracised by their country. Other deserters who turned to crime were not put on such a terrible check list, banning all government industries from employing them. In some cases, children were taken from these people and put into state care because they could not be kept by fathers with no income. Did Ireland fight a war against doing this sort of thing? Surely there can be some pardon for the Irish soldiers? Such things have come about in other nations of Europe.

If it was not for the help of many people from other nations; Britain could have been over run and then Ireland would have been too, for I do not believe that her neutrality would have been respected once fortress Britain fell. These Irish soldiers did great service for the UK and, in the long run, Ireland. 

Please, to the government of Ireland, pardon these men who left to follow their conscience. They did not betray Ireland and I'm sure they never would. They helped stop the spread of National Socialism and the attempted genocide of a whole race of people.


10% of Ireland's Neutral Army joined the British Army in WWII

To the good Government of Ireland, please pardon the 'much appreciated' 10% - the very brave men who joined the British Army in WWII.


Tuesday, 27 December 2011

H.M.S. Jervis Bay - Heroic Final and Valiant Moment - MV San Demetrio.




The Merchant ship, H.M.S. Jervis Bay had been taken over by the Royal Navy at the outbreak of war in 1939. This ship had been hastily converted with vintage guns from 1898 - seven 6in guns and two 3in guns. She had become a convoy escort during the last few months prior to November 1940 when this brave ship would charge into legend with an act of supreme bravery.

The event took place on 5th November 1940. The Captain of H.M.S. Jervis Bay made a heroic decision and sacrifice to protect a convoy of merchant ships in the Atlantic Ocean. Captain Edward Fegan ordered the convoy, his ship was escorting, to scatter when they came up against the German pocket Battleship Admiral Scheer. What followed was an act of bravery by Captain Fegan and his crew that was remarkable because all knew that their converted armed merchant cruiser was outgunned against such a formidable enemy. The merchant convoy, escorted by H.M.S. Jervis Bay, held valuable cargo bound for Britain from Canada and USA. With the safety of this in mind; H.M.S. Jervis Bay charged at AdmiralScheer diverting the pocket Battleship's attention away from the thirty seven Merchant ships. The crew of Jervis Bay were under no illusions as to what would happen when their Captain ordered the attack against a superior German pocket Battleship.

The hastily converted Jervis Bay attacked with her inferior and out ranged guns, fighting against the 28 cm guns of Admiral Scheer. Never the less, the crew of Jervis Bay stubbornly attacked with their guns blazing away. They fought for twenty two minutes as their ship was blown and torn apart – reduced to a burning hulk. Captain Fegan was reported to have had his arm shattered and his bridge blown from under him, yet still he remained, trying to keep his guns firing. He went down with the ship.

The Admiral Scheer was able to sink five more of the Allied convoy's Merchant ships, before the rest could scatter.

As the flaming H.M.S. Jervis Bay sunk, sixty five survivors managed to abandon the ship. They were picked up by a neutral Swedish Ship. The other brave 190 crew perished with H.M.S. Jervis Bay as the vessel went down to the bottom of the Atlantic. 

The dreadful sacrifice was not lost on British people. The vital cargo of the Atlantic convoy was the nation's lifeline. At this time of 1940, Britain was fighting for survival and her fate rested upon a knife edge. These bold acts were common in the Battle of the Atlantic as Britain and her allies desperately tried to keep their war effort alive.



MV San Demetrio


MV San Demetrio


From this dreadful attack came another incident of remarkable bravery. MV San Demetrio was one of the Merchant ships attacked by Admiral Scheer after HMS Jervis Bay went down fighting. MV San Demetrio was full of aviation fuel. The German shells that struck her had caused crippling damage and the merchant ship was burning furiously. The crew were ordered to abandon ship as it would be only a matter of time before the flamable cargo ignited. As the lifeboats left the burning vessel the survivors probably expected further shells from the German pocket Battleship.

Her crew sat in lifeboats waiting and knowing the same fate would befall San Demetrio as had HMS Jervis Bay. They were bobbing up and down upon the waves, expecting the worse. But it never came.

Amazingly, the Admiral Scheer turned her attention upon other ships of the scattering convoy. Maybe the crew of the German ship thought other vessels deserved priority attention and the San Demetrio could burn and blow without further help from them. It made sense when other merchants could be sunk.

Later, the San Demetrio crew were able to return and board the stricken Merchant ship. What had been a raging inferno had suddenly abatied. They ran about the decks and managed to quench the various fires still burning aboard the vessel. To everyone’s amazement the stricken San Demetrio was still afloat and able to make way through the sea. 

The attentive crew painstakingly nursed the damaged vessel over the following days and managed to limp the stricken ship back to the UK. She received a rapturous welcome home and the story of this heroism was noted. A movie was made about the ship and its crew. It is called; "San Demetrio London."

Sadly, the San Demetrio would be sunk at a later stage in the Battle of the Atlantic by U-boat in 1942.



Monday, 26 December 2011

Sinking Scharnhorst - traumatic event witnessed by British Sailor Norman Scarth.




The words below are the account of an interview by British Seaman, Norman Scarth, who was presant during the final moments of the Scharnhorst Battleship. He gave the moving interview to the BBC World Service.

On 26 December 1943 one of the great sea battles of World War II took place.

Germany's most famous battleship - the Scharnhorst - was sunk by Allied forces during the Battle of the North Cape.

Norman Scarth was an 18-year-old on board the British naval destroyer HMS Matchless, which was protecting a convoy taking vital supplies to the Russian ports of the Arctic Circle.

In a BBC World Service interview he described how he witnessed the sinking of the Scharnhorst:

Norman Scarth recalls:

On Christmas Day we had been ordered to join another convoy because it was rumoured that the Scharnhorst was out.

The Scharnhorst was greatly feared. She was the most successful fighting ship of any navy during World War II and she was the bravest ship.

We were full speed at 36 knots and going through those mountainous seas.

Norman as seventeen year old in navy blue
uniform of Home Fleet

It was a full gale blowing. To go through that at full speed, the bow would rise in the air and come down, hover there and come down with a clatter as if on concrete; mountains of water coming all over the ship.

We were ordered to join the 10th Cruiser Squadron - HMS Belfast, Norfolk and Sheffield. They had met up with the Scharnhorst and they had engaged her.

There was a brief skirmish, then the Scharnhorst broke off - she was a very fast ship - and with her superior speed she was able to get out of range.

But our vice-admiral guessed that she was heading north to attack this convoy that we had been escorting and the guess proved correct.

There was an awe of her reputation, the excitement that we may be able to end the career of this most dangerous threat to us, to Britain, to the Allies - and fear knowing what we were up against.

Hunted down

It was Boxing Day when we finally met up with 10th Cruiser Squadron and the Scharnhorst. She had abandoned her mission and set off for the Norwegian fjords, which was her base and safe haven.

She had a reputation and she deserved it.

It was pitch black and we shadowed with the use of radars.

We knew that she was heading straight towards HMS Duke of York, which was cutting off her escape. She was hit by the Duke of York and was damaged and her speed was slowed.

There was the Duke of York, the Scharnhorst, the 10th Cruiser Squadron with various destroyers and another cruiser, the Jamaica.

All of us met up and all hell broke loose. Although it was pitch black the sky was lit up, bright as day, by star shells - fired into the sky like fireworks - providing brilliant light illuminating the area as broad as day.

Towards the end we had been ordered to fire a torpedo. Because the weather had eased a little I had taken up my action station as lookout on the starboard wing of the bridge.
The Scharnhorst was close and she was lit up by the star shells and by the fires aboard her. As we steamed past to fire the torpedo I was the closest man - on the wing of the bridge - to the Scharnhorst.

She looked magnificent and beautiful. I would describe her as the most beautiful fighting ship of any navy.

Gesture of defiance

She was firing with all guns still available to her. Most of the big guns were put out. They were gradually disabled one by one. As we were steaming past at full speed a 20mm cannon was firing tracer bullets from the Scharnhorst.

A 20mm cannon was like a pea-shooter compared to the other guns and it could have no part in this battle, but it was just a gesture of defiance from the sloping deck of her.

And that's one of the things that remains in my memory - a futile gesture but it was a gesture of defiance right to the very end.

I grieve for those men every day of my life
I can picture that man on the sloping deck of the Scharnhorst. I can picture that man to this day.

Eventually it took 14 ships of the Royal Navy to find her, trap her and sink her.

At that point it went pitch black.

The star shells had finished and I presumed the Scharnhorst had been sunk.

We set off to do another torpedo run to fire from the port side and the Scharnhorst was nowhere to be seen.

So we slowed and we soon saw many men floating in the water - most of them dead, face down in the water, but some were alive.

We switched our searchlight on and I remember our captain calling out to the men in the water "Scharnhorst gesunken?" and the reply came back "Ja, Scharnhorst gesunken", so we threw scrambling nets down and began to haul these men aboard.

Thirty-six were saved out of 2,000 men.

We then received an order from the commander-in-chief to join the Duke of York. So we switched off the searchlight, pulled up the scrambling nets and steamed away.

We could still hear voices calling from the black of that Arctic winter night, calling for help, and we were leaving those men to certain death within minutes.

It seemed a terrible thing to do and it was. But it was the right thing to do.

If we had stayed a moment too long we could have joined those unfortunate men.

I can hear those voices and I grieve for those men every day of my life.

I've even had someone accuse me of being a traitor because I praised the bravery of the German sailors.

I can imagine their feelings as that searchlight went out and they heard that ship steaming away.

I truly can imagine the feelings of those men.






Sunday, 25 December 2011

Nigel Farage - I want UK to remain in the EU. EU, for God's sake listen! - a frustrated 'little englander.'


Before I continue; I'm trying (desperately) to reach out to my fellow Europeans and scream at you. I live on an island that you all know as Great Britain - UK (And sometimes ignorantly as 'little englander'.) We are; Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and a huge population, compered to the others, as England.

Most of us don't know much about the EU or care of the belief in the Union of Europe and probably don't give a hoot, except when tabloid British newspapers print stories of Brussels telling us what shape bananas must be. To mainland Europeans; this must seem pathetic; as it is. They laugh at 'little Englanders' getting upset. However, when something does go wrong;  it is just 'little englanders' doing the usual...

In the meantime, Europe has closed its eyes to the; 'not so pathetic UK press.' and its appropriate shaped Banana anti-European campaign. Our British tabloids are keeping the British electorate on the boil all the time. Now something has gone wrong and the EU has played right into the hands of the British anti-Europeans. I know the British might be saying; 'They tried it with the stupidity of the shape of bananas.' and the rest of Europe might be saying; 'They got vexed over the stupidity and the tabloid interpretation of bananas.' But this is getting very serious indeed. We are talking of the Euro currency and European stability. Believe it or not; Brits want Europe to succeed.


A British people that sits there thinking; 'Who is Europe to tell us what shape our bananas must be?" are understandably more concerned with trivialities then real issues. The British tabloid can indoctrinate large voting potential of its readers with such pathetic trivialities, but when real issues come along; I honestly think Europe is in a state of absolute apathy with 'little englander syndrome.'

The British tabloids are anti European - it has become so institutionalised in the UK because that sells in the UK. Now Referendum is selling in the UK! For Christ's sake! Try and sort this out! The UK is not going to give in on London banking. They will happily be kicked out of Europe rather then loose this - they will vote to do so and if push comes to shove, I think most of the UK would reluctantly agree with them. We will not risk this money making industry of London to give Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy a short term fix. Its like telling a heroin addict; one more fix and its over - its not! (Here have my last last 10 Euros, but after that no more.) The addict comes back and you are skint as well.

This gives anti- British Euro MPs,  like Nigel Farage, headway. This is a man that can sit on his backside and enjoy the audience of television Europe. Being an armchair critic is very easy and this very intelligent man knows that. He is milking everything for what it is worth. He comes out with statements like- 'Who is van Rompuy.' - who the Hell is he? I don't remember seeing him in the voting campaign - he is the president of Europe. I honestly don't remember getting a vote. No one knocked at my door asking for it. I did get Nigel Farage's UKIP knocking. I don't want to vote for them, but these anti-Euro people are the only ones campaigning. Sadly, they are right on certain issues. You can't have unelected people telling 500 million plus what to do. This anti-European, (Nigel Farage) who I don't support, is the only guy talking language and offering me a vote. What does Europe expect from 'little englanders' that gives the second biggest contribution to the EU. Look at France! She gets a bigger percentage back against her contribution. France is NOT the second biggest contributor. Why do we remain 'little englanders?'


Nigel Farage can make European politicians look pathetic while top Europeans and perhaps; well meaning people,  sit there, listen and smile at the rhetoric of this 'little englander' man. Everyone knows him and no one knows who the Hell the Euro president is. On Youtube; even the Yanks know him, but they don't know who our unelected Euro President is.

Nigel Farage lets people know who he is, but the European President does not. Nigel Farage has a big mouth and people listen to him. Even those, like me, who do not give a dead rat's backside for what he actually wants. He loves it when he tells the truth about not knowing who Van Rompuy is? - Mr Barroso - who the heck is he. I only knew him when he was dumped on me. No disrespect intended; but I'm British pro-European and these heads of European state have appeared from nowhere - I never had an opportunity to vote? I have one crazy anti- Euro Brit screaming out for the UK and this man got voted in on 19%n of the vote. That must say something of how seriously Brits take Europe and how seriously Europeans take 'little englanders.'

David Cameron used a veto rightly, in my view as a pro-European, and he has got French anti- British sentiment stoking the fire, plus German anger. It was the Germans and French that were totally intransigent on the issue of London banking. What the hell do they expect when trying to give a money lending addict another fix?

Europe has put the second biggest contributor out in the cold - I exclude France in second place because; if you give 1,000 billion into a pot and want 900 billion back you only contribute100 billion. Do the maths and compare that to the UK's contribution to what she gets back. Europe knows this and despite all the posturing; the UK can get by without the EU, even though I would prefer UK to be in the EU. We have an unelected president and other unelected officials telling us to do as they say. These people are not fit for purpose. We Europeans need campaigners through out the Union. 

Europe is allowing unelected people to be seen as unelected preachers to Europe's problems. Germany, being the paymaster because she is a successful nation, is pulling the strings because she has no choice, and silly puppets to speak on her behalf. I do not think Germany wants this, but she is in a catch 22 situation. Everything is moving too fast and being steamrollered through. Greece does not have the time and she can't be baled out with expectations of paying the money back - its all toffee because the everyday citizens of Greece cop the bill - a debt they can't afford.

The British Prime Minister is now in a catch 22 situation, or more like; 'be careful what you wish or it might come true.' He is on a surf board, riding a tidal wave as a champion of anti-European sentiment and he does not want to be there. He wants to be on the pro European wave but Germany and France kicked him off of that surf board. Why? Because he wanted to safe guard the London banking institution. Like it or not Europe; even a pro-European Brit will not let you have that.

Now everyone wants to squeeze the tooth paste back into the tube. David Cameron is loved by anti-European Brits, which he wants to distance himself from and now France and Germany see the slow creeping danger of Britain getting a referendum at a time when public British opinion is fulled against the EU.

People like Nigel Farage love this and he'll be having a splendid time in front of the unelected President, fuelling more anger and telling 'little englanders' what they want to hear. In the meantime, Prime Minister Cameron, Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy must be thinking; 'we played this one wrong.' I would like to bang their heads together and make them eat lumpy porridge until they sort this blooming mess out.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Germany wakes up and smells the coffee

Daniel Hannan makes a very important speech concerning the powerhouse economy of Germany. I honestly think the UK is right on their stance concerning the fiscal Union, despite being isolated because of David Cameron's veto of the treaty.

Germany can't continue to be the bottomless pocket for the failing southern nations of Europe. It will allow a long term state of apathy to develop. (If it has not developed already when these nations came into the Euro currency on a level playing field along side Germany, France, Netherlands etc)  

You can't keep lending bankrupt friends money, it exasperates the situation. The southern Euro nations have to be able to claw themselves out. In the long run; bale outs will not help and the Germans, I think, are beginning to realise this.



Saturday, 17 December 2011

France Anger at UK Veto of New EU treaty.




It’s all getting very nasty now the French are throwing their rattles out of the pram. This sort of thing just hardens people’s resolve. The UK wants the Euro to succeed and get out of the mess it is in. The UK is outside of this but still a member of the European Union. Despite being outside of the Eurozone; (Countries that use Euro currency) the UK is still obliged and will help financially to get the Euro back on track. We will not sign the fiscal Union of the new amended treaty because it threatens our banking industry in London. We do not want to drive them overseas. Because our British Prime Minister David Cameron Vetoed the new treaty on the basis of the banks; France is now acting like a spoilt little baby and making an already bad situation worse. David Cameron came up against the Eurozone countries stubborn resilience concerning this matter. So he chose not to enter the UK into the new treaty agreement. He had no choice and the UK will not be blackmailed by France on this matter.

Again this wins votes for the anti-European movement in Britain. Many British people want the UK to remain in Europe, but there are a large number that want to quit. Sooner or later one of the main political parties will fight an election on the referendum vote. This could be dangerous for the UK, because decades of work within the European Union will go to waste. However, when one is confronted with this type of French winging; it forces one to wonder if being united with such a fickle government is worth it.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Veto Britain - David Cameron - Germany's European Union



I’m no politician or economist; just an ordinary worker – a cleaner, in fact, and British – an ‘ordinary Joe’ who is part of the electorate of UK. Like many Brits, I’m not anti-European and deep down I’m sure there must be something good about being in the European Union. After all, it is best to be friends and well connected with our neighbours like France and Germany or any of the other European nations.

When I listen to our own politicians they talk of the trade links being good and progressive for the UK. We pay huge sums of money into the Union. I think it amounts to the third biggest contribution behind Germany and France. However, France gets more back then the UK so I would also argue that ours is the second largest contribution. Again, if this is so; fair enough, we are after all in this Union of European nations, which were once called a ‘Common Market.’

I, as a Brit and only a humble cleaner, don’t see this Common Market thing anymore. It is now the European Union and I can’t remember when it changed. I am now reading things like fiscal Union, when European politicians speak, and federal Europe was being used a few years prior to this. As much as I like other EU nations, I’m reluctant to want to be more integrated with Germany pulling the purse strings. I’m not having a cheap pop at Germany or France (who seem to be agreeing with everything Germany wants at the moment) but I’m worried for my United Kingdom and why should I feel selfish because Britain will not renegotiate this new treaty on stronger fiscal union?

I can understand why Germany wants to adopt these hard austerity measures against the failing southern nations of the Euro Union, but why must the UK be forced to adopt these measures when the UK took the precaution of not joining the Euro currency when it was brought in by most Euro nations? The Euro currency had one level playing field that was spear headed by Germany – a great nation that in this day and age has made great and progressive strides in industry and commerce plus lots of other great things that a humble cleaner might not even think of. This great nation of Germany had inflation that is un-noticeable (say .025%) or something less. I’m inventing the low figure but I’m certain experts know it was low.

The other southern European nation were offered to join the Euro money club with larger inflation due to borrowing (say 25% or more) Was Germany expecting these nations to level out alongside their great economic performance or did they think they could always ride the storm? Were Germany and France honestly this naive? They must have realised they were adopting another nations inflation. Am I, the humble Brit cleaner, getting something wrong here? Is it me who doesn’t see the wood for the trees?

Perhaps I’m being too British – selfish and biased, but I honestly think David Cameron, our British Prime Minister, got it right when he walked away from the revised treaty that Germany UNDERSTANDERBLY wants. David Cameron wants his British government to adopt its own regulations towards our London banking industry, and as a Brit I do know what happens when money restrictions are put upon big business corporations. In the seventies when we Brits overtaxed them; they left and went somewhere else. Inflation was ripe and Europe called us the ‘Sick Man of Europe’. Again, this was probably true at the time.

Along came a real butt buster of a Prime Minister called Margaret Thatcher. She grabbed Britain by the scruff of the neck and really kicked our arses for years during the eighties decade. Christ do I remember some of her medicine. At the time I cursed this woman and her Conservative party, but she got inflation down and got the country up and running to some degree of decency. I hate to admit it, but she did and it leaves a bitter pill in my throat to admit she got some things right. After going through all of that, I remember feeling relieved when the UK did not want to join the Euro currency club. It was not a problem with Germany or France or the northern European countries, but I could not see the same efforts brought to bare against Italian, Greek or Spanish inflation by these respective nations. Even though, I'm a cleaner, I'm sure we were wise not to enter the Euro even when it marginalised us (UK) as a consequence.

When the economic strife came, because of the US economy, it reflected on all and the Euro has been badly hit. When British banks like the Royal Bank of Scotland and Northern Rock were in danger of going under; they were bailed out by British tax payers. We did not like this but we reluctantly went with our elected government and stabilised these banks. No burden was put on the EU. We brought in measures against big rewards for failure among big economic institutions, but these rewards remain for success and rightly so. We control this and do not want this dangerous European legislation that might drive these institutions abroad. Even though Britain is not involved in the Euro and remains better equipped to deal with the recession then most of the other European countries, we were still prepared to help, but we wanted concessions to protect our London banking industry. Europe must UNDERSTAND this.

It was the European Union that was intransigent and not the British before David Cameron used his veto. We can’t afford to adopt this legislation and would be very foolish to consider it. We control our own finance and think in terms of a Common Market. What is wrong with that? We are prepared to help but will not have this fiscal Union that will put us in Europe with Germany pulling the purse strings. I’m not being anti-German, but we don’t need that nation’s strong guidance like other countries in the EU do.

Now we have a situation in Britain where the Euro-phobics are gaining ground for us to leave the EU. This would be a great shame, but I’m beginning to see that sadly they could be right. When other European nations catch a cold; they want to bury themselves in Europe – we want to distance ourselves and sought it out.

We are marginalised in Europe by our own choice concerning currency and fiscal Union, but we still like the old Common Market aspect. You (the EU) could get help, but we (UK) don’t want your stringent regulations concerning our London institutions. Europe is pushing Britain out into the cold and it is the fault of Germany UNDERSTANDABLY wanting it her own way with the purse strings, because she has to concerning the Eurozone members. However, for none Eurozone members, who still retain their safe three star ratings and their own finances; Germany might not get what she wants on this front and she might need to throw the odd bone. The trouble in the Eurozone was Germany and France having ill-deserved confidence concerning other Eurozone countries’ abilities to level out and control borrowing. Also other non-Eurozone nations might reflect on this matter more before March and the next meeting.

Sadly, most Brits are delighted by David Cameron's veto because they think it might lead to a referendum on us leaving the EU altogether. They think this is an opportunity in that direction. I’m hoping it would not come to this, but how long will Britain stay in the cold before she looks in on herself? The UK will not conform with German led Eurozone Europe on this and I think the cross roads is fast approaching. I don't think there is a way out and perhaps there might come an amicable parting of the ways in the near future.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Moyra Melons Christmas Ear Rings

Moyra Melons wondered if her new ear rings looked fine with her 'Santa's Little Helper' outfit. She had decided to wear this attire and waited with eager anticipation for her husband to walk in from work. Once again, the poor chap felt the wax blow out of his ears as he walked in.

"What do you think of these ones," asked Moyra, concerning her red Christmas ear rings.

"I think they look absolutely divine my sweetness. Rudolf would love one for his nose," he laughed.

"I'm hoping they will not steal the show," she added.

"Not your ear rings Moyra - they'll not steal the show. The kids will be far too interested in Santa and his bag of presents. Speaking of which; I'd like to show you one of your Christmas presents. Would you follow me upstairs?"

Both went upstairs and as the bedroom door slammed Moyra Melons got an early Christmas present. Can you guess what it might have been?

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Roman Galley - Artery Blood Flow of Cargo for Rome's Mighty Empire


The galley was the main type of ship used by the Roman Empire. Over the years it changed little though there were variations of size. These ships were off shoots of the Greek style vessels called Trireme. These Greek ships were very big galleys that required around 250 personnel. There were rows of oarsman and two masts. Because they were so big, Ancient Greece could not afford to make many.



When the Roman Empire came about, they took the idea of the Greek Trireme but reduced its size. This allowed them to make more and get a better overall output concerning logistics for overseas cargo and military capabilities.

The smaller Roman versions of what we now call galley ships were built on a large scale to service the growing Empire. One of the biggest Roman military ships was called a Quinquereme. Some historians call this a fiver due to the arrangement of decks and rowers. This ship was still not as big as the Ancient Greek Trireme, but was formidable as part of a fleet fighting pirates. These big vessels were used throughout the sea lanes of Rome's vast empire.
Most of the rowers were slaves or the lower of the five social classes, plus there were other navel ratings aboard. To get maximum effect from a ship’s company of rowers – whatever the size of the sea going vessel – there was a rating aboard who sat at the stern of the ship. He was above overling the deck tiers of the rowers. This man was called a Pasarius or Hortator and he would bang a drum to urge the rowers.  They were encouraged to sing in tune with the rowing strokes. This kept the galley oars working in unison among large numbers of slave oarsman. It also gave maximum propulsion with a coordinated rowing system.
Hortator
The sails consisted of a small mast to the bow of the ship with a main sail amidships when out on the high seas. There was also steering rudders at the port and starboard side of the stern.
Reconstruction of a small Galley that patrolled the River Rhine in Germany
Smaller versions of the Roman galley were used for different functions. One such vessel was called a Lembi. This was used for land patrol and up river tributaries. A sort of coastal defence vessel. These craft had limited proficiencies but were good for transporting small cargo or patrols of skirmishing soldiers.

Some of the older Roman vessels, or even adapted Lembi galleys, were converted into transporters called Bireme. However, they all had the oarsman for maximum propulsion and the front small sail with larger central sail.

Below are scale pictures of various sized and named Roman Galleys.



Saturday, 19 November 2011

Moyra Melons Ear Rings on the Notability Scale

Moyra Melons was thinking about the way she might look sitting at a desk in the work place. She wanted her nice pearl ear rings to stand out and look good. Therefore she asked her husband to stand above her, while she was practising sitting on the garden bench.
"Right, pretend I'm sitting at my desk in the office," she said. "When you look down; can you notice them?"

"Well yes," he replied. "I can certainly see something."

"Yes but are they the first two things you notice," asked Moyra a little impatiently. She found it essential that her ear rings should be noticed. 

"Well not exactly the first two things dear, but they do come in a good second."

"That's no good - I want people to notice my ear rings first thing above all else. Is that a tall order?"

Her husband grinned and came over in another hot flush. "I think it might be Moyra."

"Why?" she asked a little perplexed.

"Well let's pretend I'm your work boss and I'll ask you to come into my office. There I can explain the finer points of why your ear rings will always look nice but still come second on the looking down notabilityometer."

"The looking down notabilityometer? I've never heard of such a thing," she replied tartly while following her husband into the house pretending it was his office. She thought she would indulge him on this particular matter. He told her she scored an amazing 11 out of 10 with this strange device when he looked down.

However, once he closed the door, she realised her indulgence stretched to two more things because of his notabilityometer. The lovely Moyra Melons got more then she bargained for... :)  

Paul and Robert Powell in United Kingdom 1988 - two of my four sons - Colin Powell

Paul is now twenty six and Robbie is twenty four. This is them in 1988. I've put it on here so as it will not be lost. It is the only moving footage I have of any of my sons at this age. I lost all the other old VHS tapes of them. I wished I still had them, but live in hope that they might be found in the ex-wife's loft.


video

Thursday, 17 November 2011

True Discovery - Europa's Great Lakes - Water on another world



If you like the above; you'll definitely enjoy the BBC video link below. Scientists are now convinced that Jupiter's moon, Europa has liquid water beneath the frozen ice crust. Please click on the lower link for an exciting BBC report on this scientific discovery of liquid water believed to beneath the frozen crust of Europa.



Friday, 4 November 2011

Taranto attacked by Royal Navy Fairey Swordfish


This is a CGI creation of Fairey Swordfish attacking Taranto in Italy 1940. The Royal Navy were able to launch a sneak attack with these obsolete biplanes and catch the Italian fleet at anchor in the port of Taranto. They managed to inflict great damage and return with the loss of two planes.

The Japanese made a study of this British attack and would learn things for 1941 when their carrier forces launched a devastating attack on the USA at Perl Harbour.

Fairey Swordfish attack on Bismarck.


During World War Two, Germany and Italy had some very fine battleships but no aircraft carriers. The Germans had the Graf Zeppelin aircraft carrier but it was never fully completed and never saw active service with aircraft. This was a big miss for the two Axis powers and gave the Royal Navy an advantage at sea with obsolete aircraft called Fairey Swordfish (Stringbags.) Far out at sea, the Fairey Swordfish had no rival because enemy, land based, aircraft could not reach them.

These antiquated biplanes were able to attack huge battleships and inflict serious damage. In 1941 the stringbag was responsible for bringing about the battleship Bismarck's terrible demise. The formidable German ship broke out into the Atlantic to hunt British convoys. She could fall upon the merchants ships like a wolf upon sheep. The Bismarck destroyed a British Battleship called H.M.S. Hood with over 1,500 crew when her huge guns scored a direct hit on the Hood's Magazine. Only three sailors survived the horrendous attack.

As Bismarck cruised on, a British aircraft carrier sent out Fairey Swordfish to make a number of attacks upon the German Battleship. They could not sink her, but were able to inflict crippling damage to Bismarck's rudder.

The Royal Navy was then able to close in with many ships from different directions and destroy Bismarck - a huge ship that succumb on her first mission, due to the obsolete Fairey Swordfish (Stringbag.) 

Monday, 31 October 2011

Kraftwerk - Retro German Band


Kraftwerk means power plant or power station and the name is synonymous with the very influential Retro German band. Their strictly electronic style started in the 1970s. They are regarded as pioneers of the late seventies and early eighties electronic music movements. Kraftwerk had a great presentation style that accompanied their music, almost like un-dead, yet something ultra clean and almost sterile. It does not sound complimentary, I know, but there still remains something evocative about their simple lyrics and their germ-free appearance – something pristine and self-assured still won through and captivated people all over the world.



Wednesday, 26 October 2011

SKINHEAD Photos for the moonstomp spirit of 1969'



I was just eight years old in 1969, but I can remember the older kids of the neighbourhood looking like this and my cousin in the early 1970s. The people in the first photo above, would be around eighteen I would suppose. Today they would be touching sixty. That is scary. At school some of the youngsters had skinhead haircuts and the whole little culture liked reggae music that was refereed to as Ska. We all wanted Ben Sherman shirts and Doctor Martin boots with straight Levi jeans that had neat turn ups - also black crumby coats. I think in Britain, this faze metamorphosed out of the mods, though (no doubt) some would disagree. Sadly in later decades the Skinhead culture changed to a less desirable doctrine. However in 1969 there are much more pleasant memories with the moon stomp reggae dances. The world as changed so much since, though I never noticed on a day to day basis. These little retro Brit photos from above make me realize just how much Britain and the world has changed. It is a nice nostalgic trip from the memory of my childhood.














Sunday, 23 October 2011

Genesis - Watcher Of The Skies - 1973






I used to be very fond of Genesis and I particularly like Watcher of the Skies. Therefore I had to download this one from YouTube when Peter Gabriel was the lead singer. I made the wonderful discovery of them when I left school in 1977 and bought one of their albums with this track on. I did this on a whim because my work friend liked them. The result was guaranteed when Watcher of the Skies was the first track. They had an easy, yet strange, compelling sound that I loved. Over the years they developed a proven following of fans - the result of many great songs and albums.

Moyra Melons Wanting Ear Ring Advice

Moyra Melons was waiting for her husband to walk in through the front door after another hard day at the office. One might think he would have got used to it by now, but once again, he glared in pleasant surprise as he saw his lovely Moyra staring at him, as in the photo before.

"Good Lord Moyra!" he exclaimed.

"I want your advice on what sort of ear rings would match this jean skirt and top. I'm flummoxed as to what type of ear ring would go with this."

"Do you like being flummoxed then?" asked her husband.

"No but sometimes I just am," she replied.

"Well your going to get flummoxed again my dear. By the way I'm a man with a pretend speech impediment, when I say 'flumexed.' Do you understand." He grinned wolfishly.

"No I don't understand, but I've a feeling your about to explain," she replied and then the penny dropped for Moyra Melons. "Oh! 'Flummoxed,' and you have a speech impediment. I think I get it."

"No darling you are about to," he repled and closed the door and Moyra Melons did get it then - really, she did... :)


 

English language and the Anglo-Saxon Invasion of Britain.


King Arthur fights the Anglo-Saxons
The Romans began to leave Britain in 410 A.D as their grand empire began to shrink. Across mainland Europe barbarian tribes were causing all sorts of migrations as Huns, Goths and other tribes ventured into the western areas of the continent - lands rich with over 400 years of Roman administration.

Neighboring tribes that had previously been driven back by the Roman army began immigrating to the British Isles en masse. All of Britain, including Caledonia, to the north, were under threat. The Picts who had been able to keep Rome at bay began to attract interest from Hibernia (Ireland). A northern tribe known as Scoti began to migrate to their northern lands.


Demise of Roman Britain
In the Romanised parts of Britain's south east; the Germanic people of Northern Europe, known as Saxons, Angles and Jutes began to migrate onto the island. They were fierce tribes fighting to secure lands in southern Britain. 

The Roman Celts termed the Anglo-Saxon tribes as invaders. They were pushed back westwards towards Wales, Devon and Cornwall. The stories of King Arthur are about his Britons fighting against Angles and Saxon invaders. Though the legends have become corrupted over time. (Some making King Arthur a King of England when it was the English tribes he fought against.) For the Roman Celts, the demise of their civilization must have been along an apocalyptic scale as they saw their industry and commerce decline and their lands swamped by the English tribes. They had to integrate or flee west.


Invasion of Anglo-Saxon tribes
Eventually the Angles and Saxons became the dominant force through out the entire Isle with their language, one day, becoming most widely spoken. Of all the tribes in Britain, during the beginning of the Dark Ages; the English ones were illiterate. It is strange and quite a feat that their language would one day progress so far.


Of course this language as developed over the centuries and if anyone went back among the Dark Age Anglo-Saxons, I think Dutch people might have a better chance of understanding what they were saying, then people of English speaking nations would.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Saint Columba of Iona - Hibernian Mission - Dark Ages


Saint Columba
Saint Columba was born in today’s county Donegal, Ireland during the year of AD 521. He is a very important figure because he founded the monastery on the western Scottish island of Iona. In time, the missions from this small sanctuary would have far leading consequences for Christianity throughout the British Isles and into mainland Europe’s Frankish Empire. Among the Picts of Caledonia (Scotland) and later the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms; (Today’s North and South Eastern England) the Hibernian missionaries spread Christianity across the Isles. Iona would become a mini Rome for Celtic and Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Britain. Many of the Western areas of today’s England were Celtic Kingdoms too, along with Wales.

Hibernian is another name for Irish and Scots. The Scots/Irish colonised and integrated with Caledonia's Picts. Often the Romans referred to Ireland as Hibernia and the Anglo-Saxons (English) called Irish and Scots Hibernian Missionaries.

Saint Columba was of a high distinguished bloodline from Cenel Conaill in Gartan. Here and throughout Ireland, the spread of Christianity had brought about the collapse of druidism. Monasteries were built and the teaching of Christianity and Latin flourished. Young Columba entered into the monastic teaching at Clonard Abby and was tutored by one of Ireland’s founders of Irish monasticism. There were over three thousand students under instruction at Clonard Abby and from Saint Finian’s teaching came twelve Apostles of Ireland – Columba was one of them. He left Clonard as a monk and was then ordained as a priest. He went on to found other monasteries of fame in Ireland. 
  
However, before this, Columba had copied a psalter from a scriptorium at the Movilla Abby. This must have been a feat that required a lot of concentration as the books were also elaborately decorated and the binding was a skilled undertaking also. St Finian got into a quarrel with Columba because he wanted the copied Psalter to be kept in another Abby, reasoning that it was the property of the monastic order, while Columba wanted this book to keep with him, where ever he went – an accessory for psalms and other things he might need – something to hand at all times. After all, he had put in a lot of work to acquire this. Perhaps Saint Finian regarded this as self-indulgent and priests could not be permitted such luxuries.

In AD 549 Saint Finian died, but the argument concerning the psalter must have been championed by other followers of Saint Finian because it all came to a dreadful confrontation about eleven to twelve years later (Around AD 560.) Some historians quote an argument about it in AD 560 and Saint Finian being involved.  However, if Saint Finian died in AD 549; it was either another Saint Finian or people of his cause?

This argument of the copied psalter from Movilla Abby’s scriptorium eventually caused a pitched battle of Cul Dreimhne in which many men were killed. Columba was called to account for this and faced being stripped of his robe (Priest status). Instead, he was banished to Caledonia (Scotland). He landed on the west coast with his followers and began to travel north, teaching Christian doctrines. He was given authority over an area of land on the island of Iona on the west coast. From here, he was charged with creating a new monastery and evangelising the Picts. With his group of devoted followers, he managed to Christianise the Pictish kingdoms and then sent more Hibernian missions, from Iona, far and wide. He gained the respect of many Pict realms and became very influential in the overall governing of Caledonia (Scotland)

He died in AD 597 at the age of seventy-five.  He left a lasting legacy of spreading Christianity across much of Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. He was a man of many letters, hymns and some three hundred books. His devotion to Christian doctrines was colossal at a time when civilisation was adjusting in the Dark Ages and looking for a collective way forward.