Canadian Medal of
This week's Sunday blog will appear on Tuesday the 19th, due to the long week-end in Canada.
Still more Plaques and Paving Stones and Monuments in honour of the Canadian Victoria Cross recipients!
Many months ago I started to bring you some stories on how the British Government were taking the opportunity of the 100th anniversary of WWl to commemorate the troops. They were to also highlight the heroism of those brave men who earned the Victoria Cross during that war. Blogs told of the public dismay when only certain recipients would be honoured while almost 150 recipients were to be falling through the cracks due to the selection process proposed. The pubic of course were up in arms and soon the government was forced to rethink the project. After all the hooplaw was sorted out a decision to make Paving Stones honouring all WW1 recipients was made. These would be unveiled within Britain on the 100th anniversary of the very day that resulted in each award... and in the communities they were born or raised in. Thirteen plaques were also made that listed multiple names from 13 countries around the world were recipients came from. Each country later received their plaques listing their country's recipients.
The late Lt. Colonel Phillip Bent, born at Halifax Nova Scotia was one of the originals to slip through the cracks, but later added to a plaque that was sent to Ottawa and unveiled by a Royal Family member last November. It was duly noted in this space.
It was a powerful group who advocated for Bent's inclusion in the program along with many others. Other groups joined the advocacy and when all was said and done, about 145 new names were added to this most honourable list of heroes.
Philip Bent moved to England as a youth, served with the Navy as a cadet at first, then the Merchant Navy and final he joined the Army when war was declared. He rose throught the ranks very quickly and took temporary command of one of the Batallions of a Regiment near Polygon Wood in Belgium. When friendly foces to his right were pushed back, his quick action in rallying the troops and pushing forward resulted in keeping the enemy in check. But Bent, then an acting Lt. Colonel and only at the age of 26, was shot and killed leading the charge. For this he was awarded posthumously with the Victoria Cross. He had already been awarded a DSO.
His image appears above. His body was never recovered but his name was added to about 35,000 other's listed who's graves were never found. The Tyne Cot Memorial, shown above is in Belgium and very close to the farthest point into the country that the Allies advanced.
A few blogs ago I also told of the unveiling of 145 paving stones in Britain in one place... the National Memorial Arboretum at Staffordshire. Several of these stones honour Canadians... including Philp Bent.
Cecil Kinross, at left, was born in Britain and by age 16 moved with family to Alberta. Soon after he joined up with the army and it was during fighting at Passhendaele that this private stood up in broad daylight, and charged an enemy Machine Gun positon killing its 6 man crew and destroying their weapon. His fellow troopers were so pumped up they charged forward and captured another 300 yards of enemy territory. King George would pin the VC to his chest less than 6 months later at Buckingham Palace.
While the paving stone project called for an unveiling on the 100th anniversary of the deed, his paving stone, as shown at left, was unveiled by the Hillingdon Council in England last month.
Another Paving Stone unveiled last month in Britain was in honour of the Irishman Fred Hall who moved to Canada and lived on Pine Street. He and fellow recipients Robert Shankland and Leo Clarke all lived on Pine Street in Winnipeg... and within the same block. Probably the only such occurence in the entire VC world of recipients. Back in 1925 the street was renamed Valour Road in their honour.
Hall, pictured above, moved to Canada at about the age of 25, and joined up with the Canadian Forces when the Great War started. It would be during the 2nd Battle in Ypres in 1915 that Hall, as a Sergeant Major crawled out twice to recover the wounded. The following morning in broad daylight he again went out to recover a wounded man under very heavy fire. He got to the fellow and raised him up to bring him to safety when both were shot and killed. He was later awarded a VC posthumously.
In late April of this year Mayor Councillor Geoff Pearl of St Helens was present at Victoria Square where he is shown above kneeling next to the Paving Stone unveiled in honour of Fred Hall.
In late April a news announcement in England told how the Durham Light Infantry Museum and the Durham Art Gallery are holding a display... paving stones for several VC recipients that will be errected and unveiled in the future. One of these is honouring British born George McKean. After his parents died George came to Canada to visit with a brother. He was here when the war started and so he decided to join up with a Canadian unit and went off to war.
It would be near Vimy that Lt. McKean, shown at left above, on his own, captured an enemy trench, killed several of the enemy, leaped into another, killed 2 and captured four, and drove the rest into a dugout which he then destroyed. For this he was awarded with the VC, and by war's end would also have the MC and MM. It is expected that later this month County Durham will unveil the paving stone in his honour.
Yet another press release told of about 100 Canadian soldiers and others that gathered at London in mid April to conduct a ceremony in honour of WWl veterans of the Calgary Highlanders and the Canadian Scottish who fought at St. Julien and Kitchener's Woods. Attending the rememberance were several digintaries including the Royal Family member who is the Colonel in Chief of the Canadian Scottish, their honorary Colonel and also His Excellency Gordon Campbell, Canada's High Commissioner to Britain and a former BC Premiere. The toops were also to travel to some of the battlefields of both units in Europe, lay wreaths and conduct ceremonies honoring men like Colonel Cy Peck of the Canadian Scottish, Captain Hutcheson of the foreunner of the Toronto Sottish, (center picture) and William Metcalfe also of the Canadian Scottish. All three are VC recipients. The later two are two of the 6 Americans who earned the VC, four being in the CF and also earning their VC's in WWl.
On a closing note, just yesterday a ten year project finally came to fruition at Edmonton Alberta.
The Victoria Cross Memorial Society unveiled their monument that lists and honours all Canadian Victoria Cross recpients by name, unit and conflict.
There is little on the net about this so far but watch for news re the event.
They note that their project is the first of its kind in Canada. But I beleive they are forgetting the great work done at Barrie Ontario that was unveiled back in October 2013, and covered in this space. Images of the later are at right, above.
Regardless, congratulations to all that assisted in getting this new monument created and unveiled. There is always room for more of these in Canada.
Cheers till next week,
Back in Civil War days, this cliche was proven many times.
But we are now coming up to the end of a five year period of remembrance of the horrible costs that war took on the United States. It also involved many dozens of countries around the world, including Canada, that supplied tens of thousands, many becoming cannon-foder in that time of massive destruction.
Today I want to adress an unpleasant and uncalled for attack on this blog, The attacker used his wet ammunition, if you will, and shall find that the attacked can also become the attacker.
Today's blog will first start on a more positive note.
A few weeks back I brought you a wonderful story, probably completely unmentioned in the Canadian press from coast to coast. It was a story about buses in Gloucestershire England. A transit organization called Stagecoach West, the local head of the Royal British Legion and the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum joined forces to recognize the 100th anniversary of the Great War. In doing so they decided to focus on the men and women of the Gloucestershire Regiment, and acknowledge the service of this regiment, and its forerunners, in 12 centuries of service to the British Empire and the free world.
Nine buses were selected for the project. Each had a plaque on the outside, a much larger one of the inside and brochures to give all customers about the Regiment's World War l, eight Victoria Cross and one George Cross recipients.
My interest in the project was because of a Canadian connection to the story that we at home should be aware of and appreciate. This of course was that one of the heroes being honoured was a Canadian. He was the Perth Ontario born Herbert Taylor Reade who was awarded the Victoria Cross before Canada even was a dominion. His VC would be Canada's 2nd VC ever, and was earned for bravery at the Siege of Delhi during the Indian Mutiny in 1857. Canada's first VC went of course to another Ontario man by the name of Alexander Dunn. His actions were in the famous Charge of the Light Brigade during the Battle of Balaclava in 1854. His VC would be the only VC awarded to any officer of that battle.
I ended that blog noting that I would be talking about HT Reade in the next blog. I later discovered that I already brought you his story, so it will not be repeated today. It can be re-read by going here...
Now onto another matter of a different tone!
A few other matters kept me from doing my blog last Sunday the 26th. But on that very day a Captain in the Canadian Forces decided he would use his military email, provide his name and title, and, perhaps from home on a Sunday, sat down to use his miltary email to send a most disturbing criticism of a blog I wrote TWENTY MONTHS AGO. That blog can be read at...
The blog remains the same as written back on 21 August 2013, with three exceptions. First, a date of 9 September was corrected to read 3 September, a reference to WW1 was corrected to read WW11, and the use of the initials WLNS were corrected to read WRCNS. These silly mistakes were corrected as a result of the email I received.
At the end of each blog appears a link to click on should the reader wish to send along some thoughts, and even corrections. A private email address is also given on the site should the writer wish that his or her views not be published on the site. Use of the link below results in publishing, if I approve the contents being forwarded.
These links and the email address have been very helpful in bringing further info to my attention and comments about my work, including where corrections are needed. For example, my spelling is often not what it ought to be. Sometimes I get dates wrong. Sometimes names are mispelled. But there is an old saying that to create an omelette you have to crack a few eggs. Mistakes happen! They get corrected when brought to my attention.
But the nature of the email I received was unfair, heavy handed and to be honest, insulting. Being sent by way of the comment section, raher than in a private email further raises the question... was it done as part of an agenda to cause further grief in a very public manner? I'll let you be the judge.
Because of the offensive overtone and unfair criticism, I thought I would not publish the email. But on second thought, lest this junior officer thinks I am avoiding the points he raised, I will chop his email up into 6 areas of concern on his part, with my comments to follow. I have chosen not to use his name or the service he represents. I have the utmost respect for all of the Cdn. forces, today and in days past. Identifying this individual or his branch may lead to ill will towards both. I wish neither, though do not intend to allow the attack to go unnoticed.
You'd best get a coffea and sit back. This will take a little while and I hope you will indulge me.
First issue: Here is the first line of the email.... "Your S.S. Athenia article. She was torpedoed on 3 September 1939, not on 9 September."
The first sentence does not make sense. It has a subject yet no verb, normal requirements of sentence construction. Can we not expect that at the very least, an officer in the CF can write basic sentences? Grammar aside, the officer is correct in noting that I said the sinking took place of the 9th, when it was actually the 3rd. This was a slip-up on my part and I knew at the time that the event was on the 9th. It slipped through my editing by mistake... unchallenged.
Second issue: The officer's next line reads... " It was WW2 not WW1."
My blog mentioned WWl twice. Once at the end on an unrelated matter. And once in the middle when I slipped up again, and did not pick it up at editing. It said that one of the two women I was writing about ..."would later be declared the first women (sp) in service in WW1 to perish at the hands of the enemy."
In the 2013 blog I repeatedly made references that were obviously about WWll. In fact the portion of the blog dealing with all these issues started with the statement that the two women I was speaking about... "were among the FIRST CANADIANS KILLED IN WWII." Note the ORIGINAL capitals from the blog. Yet later in the article I erroneously said it was WWl rather than WWll.
A careful examination before firing off with wet ammunition, would have revealed a silly slip up but that the writer clearly knew from elsewhere in the blog that the events were in the second and not the first war. Yet the criticism was unfair in not only reconizing, by admitting this is the caustic email forwarded. Had he spent any time on the site he would have also seen two photo's one of the grave of one of the women and the other a plaque containing the 2nd woman's name. And in both the dates of Wll are most clear in the images. So the criticism is nothing short of heavy handed, uncalled for and unfair.
Third issue: The officer's next line reads... "Canada did not declare war on Nazi Germany the next day, but on 10 September."
I knew that war was declared by us on the 10th of September. As I was writing the blog I looked at the wrong sinking day..9 September, and just added a day to say we went to war the next day. Makes sense I'd say! But evidence that I knew we went to war on the 10th was right in the very article which also gave that very date. But the eye's of the hawk of this officer who was looking for mistakes, clearly either did not see that sentence, or worse yet possibly ignored it as it did not boister his rants.
Fourth issue: His email continues with... "If you're going to operate a "Canadian Medal of Honor" site, you should at least try to get the basic facts straight."
There is no need to pose the question about the continuation of the blog. Anyone with an intellect beyond that of a jar of peanut butter ought to be able to figure that one out!
Having provided the explanations above, I would like to note that I have been researching the Canadian recipients of the Medal of Honor for some 15 years. Over the recent past I have expanded this to include a long time interest in the Victoria Cross recipients from Canada, or connected to Canada. I have been often reminded that my slant on my MOH research and subsequent activities is well known, respected ...and I would add... probably unequalled... anywhere in North America.
In doing this work, completely on a volunteer and unpaid basis, I have travelled some 40,000 km plus, spent possibly in the area of $20,000, and handled thousands of in and outbound emails on the subjects at hand. Some of these efforts have been covered in over 300 stories in this space. For about the first year..incuding 20 months ago, I was writing a blog almost daily. The "offending" blog was about my 175th at the time. Few daily newspapers carry daily columns from the same writers. Paid ones at that.
I wonder what comparable service this officer can put on the table..work done for free, and in fact at high costs personally to boot!
I have received many words of appreciation over the years from many officers far superior to this junior officer. Words of thanks have come from Admirals and Generals and Colonels and most other ranks right down to the front line soldiers, sailors, airmen and coastguard members. Politicians at the municipal level, cabinet ministers at the provincial and federal level and even two ambassadors have shown me their appreciating for the work I do.
One would think that having said all of this, I would be entitled to more respect from this serving member of our forces. Had I still been wearing my uniform as a Master Warrant Officer at this time, I can assure him and all readers that this officer's remarks would form the basis of a Redress of Grievance in the military with him at the wrong end. And having taught the subject to over 500 young officers and literally played a major role in the expansion of Redress Rights of serving and some former serving members AROUND THE WORLD I'll add I know a little about the subject.
Lecture 101 is almost over Captain!
Fifth issue: The officer's critcism continued with... "A grade school child could find these out."
This year marks the 50th anniversary of my joining the CF. I suspect that this officer was not even born then. Having said as much, no doubt his passing through grade school was a more recent experience than mine. However the reference to my work being below that of grade school student is chilling. The overall criticism, whilst making a few good points, is one made without taking the entire article into context. Thus a refrence to three self explained errors ought not to have resulted in such a condemnation of the entire piece.
The insulting comparison is more disturbing, not from whom it comes, but upon a reflection of that member's possible worth as a spokesman for the CF. While his graders are perhaps not as able as he to grasp the concepts of fairness and professionalism, his duty is to do just that and to treat members of the public with some respect. His own training has presumably exposed him to the expectation of cautioning when criticism is curt, and why these fall far below the accepted standards of behaviour for members of the CF, and in particular, those who are supposed to lead rather than follow. The CODE of PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT FOR CF PERSONNEL and the DND and CF Codes of Values and Ethics contain guidelines he should be familiar with. His email evidences the need for some retraining and subsequent performance monitoring.
Sixth issue: Finally I shall end with a win for the officer. He manged to find yet another error. I was making a reference to the women of the navy in WW11. Somehow the initials WRCNS became WLNS.
Again sloppy editing on my part, but great for the officer who managed to have the time, perhaps yet again maybe on our tax dollar, to determine that the WLNS was a US news Outlet.
I wonder if any of them used to be in the CF! Tens of thousands of Americans did serve with Canadian units... in BOTH world wars.
Thanks for your tolerance with this rant.
I remain a very stong supporter to our forces, past and present and will continue to bring you stories of this proud heritage, despite attempts to disrail along the way.
Bart Armstrong, CD, MWO (Ret.)
Twelve generations of military service to the British Empire resulting, in part, with eight Victoria Crosses and One George Cross!
What a record, and with the thanks of 9 buses, and a whole lot of dedicated folks, we are reminded of a story that must be kept alive.
"Buses?" you say. Yes buses.
When thinking of buses one of my first thoughts go back to a time when my generation spent 30 minutes weekly in front of the TV. We'd be sitting their with our candy bars and waiting for the British comedy show .."On the Buses" to start up. It aired bewteen 1969 and 1973 and brought us the weekly antics of the cantankerous Inspector Blake. He worked for the local bus company and spent most of his shift having to deal with the antics of bus driver Stan and conductor Jack who did their best to make life difficult for their boss. Episodes can still be seen on "You Tube" and are well worth a 30 minute kickback to the old days. (After you read this blog of course.)
But the buses I want to talk about today bring us a much more serious message. Their story is to remind us to remember the tragedy of war, and as importantly, the heroic deeds of our men and women who went off to war, and family back at the homefront doing their bit to support our causes. More specifically, the nine buses of today focus on the 12 generations of service that England, and the world has received, from the famous Gloucestershire Regiment (The Rifles) of today, but known in earlier days by a few other names.
This is a story has really evolved over the past several years. In 2013 and 2014 a very large bus company... Stagecoach West ... played a significant role in helping to raise awareness... and funds during the October Poppy Fund drives. The company allowed its members who were serving or past military, to wear their uniforms to work on certain days. They allowed non employee military and veterans to ride free, held events and even decorated trains and buses with large poppies to keep the message alive. Today I believe one of the company buses is still in operation wearing a poppy.
And one of the masses seeing this wonderful gesture was a woman by the name of Anny Reid. Anny was, and is currently, the county Chair of the Gloucestershire Royal British Legion. And Anny liked the military. She served as a nurse briefly in the US, and in a British Hospital and then with the Royal Air Force for a few years. Actually thirty years. In 1998 her services were rewarded with the awarding of the Royal Red Cross award and also membership in the Order of the British Empire for her lifetime work.
Anny was not only aware of the Poppy Fund activities over at Stagecoach West, but also recalled the numerous mailboxes painted gold in the neighbourhood to remind citizens of the Gold medals brought home to those communities from the recent Olympics.
This most accomplished woman put 2 and 2 together and came up with 9. That's nine buses mind you! Nine buses from Stagecoach West.
Anny wanted to see something done about the incredible history and length of service of the Gloucestershire Regiment. Being the midst of the 100th anniversary of the Great War Anny thought that this would be a great time to launch some sort of a program, and then she came up with the idea to focus of the eight hero's of the regiment that were awarded the Victoria Cross, going all the way back to 1857, and the hero of Korea War days who was awarded the George Cross.
The idea was tossed about with Nathan Griffith-Williams, Marketing Manager of Stagecoach West and Chris Chatterton, Director of the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum. No doubt many a meeting took place with these three and plenty of others, and on 16 March their program... "Saluting the Gloucesterchire Regiment" rolled (pardon the pun) along the roads. Those rolling were nine Stagecoach West buses, each telling the story of one of the VC or GC recipients, and telling where more could be learned on each soldier.
It is ironic that the day of the event about to be told was in March, the very month that is not, but was for a very few brief years, celebrated in England as Womens History Month. Perhaps it is fitting that a woman played such a key role in the saluting of the regiment and its service and can serve to again spark the flames to bring notice to Britain that the month of celebration needs to be revisisted.
About 5 weeks ago, on March 16th a parade of nine buses were escorted by several veterans, each a member of the Royal British Legion, who drove their motor-cyclists from the Regiment's Museum to the Glouster Cathedral for a formal reception, and official unveiling of the buses.
In this image a reporter is talking to the three organizers of the event. At the left is Nathan Griffith-Williams from Stagecoach West, and at the right is Chris Chatterton from the regiment's museum. To the reporter's left stands Anny Reid.
On the side of each of the 9 buses is an image of the Victoria Cross or George Cross recipient, with the war fought in and the year of the action resulting in the award. (Shown at left and above)
The nine recipients were awarded their medals for actions in Delhi, as noted above and also in the Batttle of the Somme in 1916, at Passchendaele in 1917, Battle of St Quentin 1918, the Balkans 1918, the Battle of Selle 1918 and in Korea in 1951.
Inside the bus there is also a very large banner, as shown at right that gives a little more information on the hero. The above soldier was a doctor and was awarded the Victoria Cross for saving many lives during the Siege of Delhi way back in 1857. His VC was the first of all nine awards being honored on the buses.
In this image several people are riding one of the nine buses on their way to the ceremony. You can see one of the displays hounoring one of soldiers here.
On each of the buses pamphlets are distributed telling the story of all nine recipients in a little more detail. Each also contains a coupon for entry to the regiment's museum at half price. Hopefully the rider will take advantage of the offer to learn even more about the regiment's very long and historic service and possibly even see some of the artifacts associated with the recipients as well.
Shown here are the pamphlets....
The buses will operate on regular routes, 5 in Gloucester, 2 in Chettenham and 2 in Ross-on-Wye and the company tells me that there are no plans for an end date in the program. In other words, they are expected to be left in regular use. They will also be used for special trips to the schools of the areas concerned to bring the stories of the regiment and its heroes to the classrooms.
Above you see the buses lined up outside the regiment's museum at right, and on left as they travels through the streets to the cathedral under escort of the Royal British Legion's veteran riders. The actual procession can be seen on the internet by going to...
A great many digitaries attended and participated in the event. Lt. General Tim Evans, CBE, DSO, is shown above at the ribbon cutting ceremony. The general serves as the Assistant Colonel Commodant of the Rifles. He is shown beside The Mayor of Gloucester. On the right is the museum's director Chris Chatterton and he is chatting with a fellow dignitary who's name, believe it or not... is "Liberty" She is one of the students from the Medowside Primary School who attended the ceremony. And as you see, had the piviledge of officially opening the events of the day.
Many veterans of the Korean War and other battles, serving military and officials from the Royal British Legion, the bus company and museum and other organzations also attended. Of note were nurse Margaret Purves and Major Peter Norton.
When Margaret was only 14 years old in Wales, she played a major role in saving a boy scout and his leader. Their troop was off on some sort of an adventure on a small island close to Cardiff. The only entry was a causeway at low tide. The troop got stuck as the tide rolled in. All escape but two. They had to dive into the very cold and fast moving waves. Their calls for help were heard by Margaret and a 13 year old boy. Both removed most of their outer clothing and dived in to rescue the two. Both scouts survived.
But not so for the male rescuer. King George VI invited Margaret to Buckingham Palace and presented her with the Albert Medal for risking her life to save the boys. The family of the boy who lost his life in the attempt was awarded the same medal posthumously. Many years Margaret's medal was upgraded to the George Cross. Today and for many years she has been the only woman alive to hold such an honour. She proudly wears her medals on her pink coat above.
Beside her is retired veteran Major Peter Norton. A few years back, near Bagdad Major Norton was the 2nd in command of a US team in search of improvised explosive devices. Norton was severely wounded when a victim operated devise was set off. Despite terrible wounds that cost him his left leg and much of his arm, he refused to be evacuated until the area was clear of other devices and continued to lead until the area was cleared. For this he was later awareded also with the George Cross. In addition, as some of his team members were members of the FBI, he was recomended for... and received the FBI's Star in 2009.
Today Norton has the incredible honour of serving as the Chairman of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association.
Above at the right are several dignitaries standing with the colours of the Royal British Legion. The bus behind appears to be the one dedicated to Herbert T. Reade who's image appears above.
And next Sunday I will tell you why you need to know more about Herbert.
Several blogs in this space over past few months and more have told of the British Paving Stones being erected and unveiled in many parts of the world. The program mentioned was a part of a bigger program to bring our thoughts again to those who went off to war, and came home with the word-wide recognized, and envied, Victoria Cross.
Blogs told of the first thoughts to limit the efforts to just those born in the Britain and Ireland, and further to limit these memorial stones to just those earned during the Great War. Public outcry demanded recognition not only of VC recipients from all wars, but also those not born in Britian. They were heard... and even better... listened to. The revisited plans now have all being recognized... but the non WWl recipients will be done at a later date. The WWl recipient markers are going ahead, but these now also incude those recipients from 19 other countries of the world. Past blogs also told of the 19 plaques, listing numerous names, having now been sent abroad. Before Christmas one had been unveiled at Washington DC. Within days a second was unveiled at Ottawa. Both being unveiled by HRH Princess Anne, her husband and other dignitaries.
But the program did not stop there!
Above are two images of the National Memorial Arboretum located not far from London at Staffordshire. Dedicated by HRH Queen Elizaveth ll back in 2007 it honours the lost service men and women covering over 50 different wars and actions since WW11. The property is spread over over some 150 acres, and is home for over 75 different memorials. The above war memorial is where over 15,000 names of the lost men and women are engraved on the inside walls of this massive structure spanning 43 meters at its diameter.
It would be here that those being remembered would be expanded to honor the VC recipients of WWl who were non British born.
While the British government had already sent off 19 plaques in honour of those not British born, to their home countries, the government had also chosen to recognize these true war heroes in England as well. They would create an individual paving stone for each of these 145 men and erect all in one place. And that place would be in the forground of the above National Memorial Arboretum.
Picture here is Lance Sergeant Johnson Beharry, proudly wearing his Victoria Cross. (On left of the 4 medals as you view the picture.) Back in May of 2004 his actions, while then a Private in Iraq, earned him a VC, which was awarded on 18 March 2005.
His Victoria Cross was the first issued that was not posthumous, since back in 1969 when Keith Payne received his VC. (Keith's name is not new to regular readers of these blogs.) Beharry is about to unveil the title stone for the 145 others also about to be dedicated at the memorial. The date was March 5th, just over a month ago. It was exactly 13 days less than a decade ago that Beharry was awarded his VC. Prime Minister David Cameron looks on as the stone is being unveiled. Dignitaries from several countries attended, including representation from both Canada and the United States.
Here is an image of the title stone for the 145 men awarded the VC in WWl and Prime Minister Cameron placing a wreath on one of these stones.
The stone's design was selected after a national contest was held earlier, (and covered in another blog). You can use the site search engine to read more on this.
A pathway of these memorial paving stones lies parallel to the walkway up to the Arboretum. In this image are the stones for 15 recipients. I was fascinated to find this image on the net as there are not many. In this one I noted that at the upper left, second in is the stone honoring the Indian recipient Chatta Singh. This hero earned his VC in 1916 for braving enemy shells and shots for hours at a place now know as Iraq. One of the fellows he saved had several wounds and Singh had to use his body to protect the injured soldier for almost five hours. The wounded man was and officer and medical doctor to boot. Both men survived and Singh came away with a VC. Just days later the officer he saved went on to show his own incredible heroism and would later also be awarded the VC. He too also went out repeatedly to treat and bring in the wounded. And had he not been saved days earlier, needless to say, he would not have himself become the hero that he did.
And folks, that officer was John Sinton, a Captain at the time and a much later Brigadiere General. And a man who was born in Victoria BC Canada. His story was told in several earlier blogs here as well. Sinton became the only man IN THE WORLD entitled to use the initials VC and FRS after his name. Search this site to read more on his incredible story.
Here are the 145 stones lining the pathway up to the National Memorial in mid ground in the image. Several more images of paving stones are shown to the right. Note the one in the upper right for Lt. Colonel Philip Bent, a VC recipient for bravery in action in Belgium in 1917. He was leading a charge when the 26 year old acting Colonel of his regiment was shot down and killed. He was born at Halifax Nova Scotia.
A museum in England most interested in Colonel Bent was one of the forerunners of groups pushing the government to re-examine the original narrower program of honoring recipients, as above mentioned.
Here is a shot of all of the 145 markers for those not born in Britain that were awarded the Victoria Cross. Note the title marker in the foreground.
Past blogs have also told that over 400 individual markers are being unveiled across Britain. Each is supposed to be unveiled on the 100th anniversary of the very day when the deed was perfomed resulting in the VC being awarded. If you click here....
you will get to the above map of England. By clicking on the purple star you will be taken to a site that tells the story of the 145 stones above noted. About 50 have been unveiled so far. If you click on any one of the red dots you will be taken to the name of a VC recipient from that area of the map where a stone was unveiled in 2014 and get a brief description of the hero's deed. By clicking on "more information" you will be taken to another window giving even more info on the man and often a very large and impressive photo of the soldier. The blue dots will take you to the stones unveiled this year. The map is said to be one that will continue to be updated as more stones are unveiled.
One of these to be unveiled in May is for Sergeant Major Frederick Hall, one of three VC recipients who lived on what was once called Pine Street in Winnipeg. Now of course it is known in their honour, as Valour Road.
By clicking on the red dot (Hmmmm!) just slightly above and to the left of London on the map you should end up telling a little about fellow Canadian Cecil Kinross, a man born in Britain but later relocating to Western Canada. His actions in Passchendaele in 1917 earned him the VC. His stone ought not to have been unveiled till 2017, but for some reason was done earlier.
Next Sunday I will bring you yet more info on how a British company is honouring several Victoria Cross recipients... including one from Canada.
Hope to see you then.
I am taking a short Easter break and will return next Sunday.
Cheers till then
Charles Hosking Jr ran away from home as a teen and found his destiny in a career lasting almost 2 1/2 decades.
The horrible tragedy is that he paid for it with his life!
His family and friends, his neighbours and country, you and I now benefit from this man's heroism and we also share in his loss. Each Medal of Honor Day (March 25th) we need to take the time to remember the story of Charles Ernest Hosking Jr, and almost 3500 others that gave so much that their Commander if Chief, the highest ranking official in the country... their President... honoured them with the highest medal he... or someday hopefully... she... can award... The Medal of Honor!
In past blogs I have quoted form a speech General George Patton made in his last year of life. He was at a Memorial Day service at a military cemetery in Europe and said that... "In my mind, we are here to thank God, that men like this lived, rather than regret that they died."
We need to thank the "Snake" for living!
If you pick up the book by one of his daughters, Gail Hosking Gilberg, called... "Snake's Daughter: The Road In And Out Of War," you can read all about the incredible life that Charles led... and how he earned the nickname..."Snake."
Last Sunday I started to tell you about the Snake. He ran away from high-school and his New Jersey home, made it to Canada and enlisted in the famous infantry regiment known as The Black Watch. He was underaged but got in anyway. By fluke, after he was missing from home for about 3 months, he was found and with the help of a New Jersey Congressman, the wheels started turning and he was quickly released and sent home. But he ran away again and yet again headed north. This time he got stopped at the border and family again recovered him. Next we hear he was serving in the US Coast Guard... still underaged, and a few weeks before his 18th birthday he enlisted in the US Army, at Fort Dix NJ.
(Note...last week I received information correcting my statement in the last blog that the Black Watch was a special forces unit that followed in the footprints, if you will, of the famous First Special Service Force, AKA... the Devils' Brigade, of which you hopefully have recently read much in this space. I am now told that the Black Watch was a front line infantry unit and not related in any way with the brigade. Though no doubt due equal fame. (The unit I meant to mention in the last blog was in fact the Green Beret.)
In December of 1944 The Allies had many successes under their belt as they continued to push the Germans back eastward towards their own country. The map above shows a bulge in the German front line shown in red. To protect the line the Germans had brought in over 200,000 troops and upwards of 1000 tanks.They were hoping to force the Allies back westward and into the English channel and beyond.
This bulge in the line would be where heavy fighting eventually became known as the Battle of the Bulge and thousands of Allies found themselves knee deep in the horrid snow and chilling conditions of December and January. Charles Husking was one of these soldiers, and is shown above, still at an age too young to even vote. (Note the paratrooper wings he proudly wears.) Before the battle would be over in late January of 1945 Charles would be wounded. It was miner but he'd still be one of 75,000 Allied casualties. Almost 8,500 would be killed.
Another one of the wounded was a fellow who's name I hope you remember from past blogs. He was another Charles. But his surname was McGillivary and he was from PEI, Canada and his bravery in January at this very battle resulted in his being awarded a Medal of Honor. He would later also serve as President of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, and play an important role in the design of MOH recipient's grave markers. (Including Husking's, many years later.)
"Snake" would survive the war and continue serving in the military for years to come. He had to sit out the Korean war due to leg injuries sustained during training excercises. He'd still be wearing the uniform of the day and would find his expertise being sought during the Cold War in Europe. But his boots would be soon back on the ground during the terrible Vietnam era.
Over 2.7 MILLION Americans made the above journey from the US to serve their country. During the Vietnam era these numbers would represent almost 1/3rd of the total then serving in the US military. Over 58,000 would pay with their lives, more than 60% being under 21 years of age. 23,000 would become disabled.
Like so many Americans, Charles would serve multiple tours, his being three. He would fight within many groups and formations and would wear the internationaly famed green beret of the equally famous men depicted in 1968 by a fellow who the miltary rejected. But that fellow still did his bit for his country. His name was Marion Mitchell Morrison. But we all knew him by his stage name... John (the Duke) Wayne.
And two years before, from coast to coast in Canada and the US we were singing...
"Fighting soldiers from the sky,
Fearless men who jump and die,
Men who mean just what they say,
The brave men of the Green Beret..."
It started out as a poem written while a medic was recovering from his war wounds. That medic was a serving Master Sergeant in the Green Beret. His name was Barry Sadler and his song became #1 on the charts in 1966.
Have a listen... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSmUOj_CnrQ
Master Sergeant Charles Ernest Hosking, pictured here, at age 43 found himself with the 111 Corps Tactical Zone of South Vietnam, Special Forces. He was acting as an adviser in the Civilian Irregular Defence Group Reaction Battalion during combat operations in the Phuoc Long Province, Republic of Vietnam.
It was March of 1967, as we were still singing... "fighting soldiers from the sky.' But Snake wasn't singing. His men were preparing a captured soldier for escort up the lines. He was a high valued prisoner as he was suspected, and later confirmed, to be a deadly enemy sniper.
A scuffle broke out and the prisoner managed to grab a grenade from Charles' belt, armed it and ran towards a group of four American soldiers. Charles immediately gave pursuit, jumped the man, crushed the grenade between the two in a bear hug and forced the man to the gound.
While the four other soldiers were saved, both Charles and the sniper were instantly killed. The date was 21 March, and that was 48 years ago last week!
After spending his entire adult life in uniform, briefly with Canada, with the United States Coast Guard and then the US Army, raising a family of three girls and one boy, he died a hero for his country. Initial thoughts of an Arlington burial were changed to a burial and ceremony closer to home and family in New Jersey, were he rests today at the Valley Cemetery in Ridgewood, Burgen County. Shown here is his original marker.
In 1969 nwspapers across the US told the world that Charles E Hosking Jr was being awarded the Medal of Honor for his incredible heroism and loss of life for the freedoms we cherish today.
His medal would be one of about 250 awarded for actions in Vietnam.
It was on Friday 23 May 1969 that President Nixon held a private ceremony in the oval office at the White House. (Reasons explained at left.) Two soldiers were presented Medals of Honor that day. Both were posthumous awards.
The Hosking family attending included Charles' mother, his children and a brother with family. While the song called for placing " wings on my son's chest," President Nixon in fact presented a Medal of Honor to Charles' 8 year old son Wesley. That medal still is in the proud possesion of the family in the United States.
Past Blogs have brought you the story of Charles McGillivary's role in a later design of the grave markers for Medal of Honor recipients such as that shown above. Charles, as noted above, earned a Medal of Honor for action at the Battle of the Bulge. He later served as President of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and it was during that term that he contributed to the new design, shown below and later mounted at Master Sgt Hoskin's grave site.
A US historical group of which I am the only Canadian member, called the Medal of Honor Historical Scoiety of the US, has many objectives. One of these is to do its best to locate lost MOH recipients grave locations. They have a long list of success in this regard. Another is to try to have the newer versions of these markers set in place with the permission of descendants and cemeteries involved.
A key player in this work is a fellow named Don Morfe who has literally visited and photgraphed thousands of MOH grave sites over the years. He has also played a major role in the identifying of those graves that lack the notification that the soldier buried on the spot is a MOH recipient, and taking steps to do something about it. The Hosking new marker is yet another of his success stories. A few of the images in this very blog are originally taken by Don.
It should also be mentioned that it was the President of this very society... Mrs Gail Alvaraz that brought to my attention daughter Gail's book about her father and thus tipped me off on the fact that he originaly served with the Canadian Forces, albeit brief as that service was.
Here is another of Don's photo's. It shows the monument dedicated to the memory of Master Sergeant Charles E Hosking. It was unveiled in 2000 by the Ramsey New Jersey Policemen's Benevolent Association.
The community of Ramsey can also remember this hero as they drive along Hosking Way, named in his honour.
A famous Canadian statesman by the name of Joseph Howe played a key role in the creation of Freedom of the Press in Canada. He was also one of our Fathers of Confederation.
Mr. Howe once said that.... "A wise nation preserves its records, gathers up its monuments, decorates the tombs of its illustrious dead, repairs its great structures, and fosters national pride and love of country by perpetual references to the sacrifices and glories of the past."
Sometimes we must question if we are doing enough of this. The day is here when we must do much more.
Thank you Charles Husking for your service to mankind.
See you next week,
Bart Armstrong, CD
Many claim he was running away from home. Maybe he was really running towards something. His destiny!
It was May 21 1941 at Ottawa, the capital city of Canada. The Ottawa Journal newspaper of the day, shown below, predicted it would be "decidedly warm", at 81 degrees. If you could afford the incredible three cents, you got 18 pages of reading to take home.
Page one carried 19 stories, 17 of which covered the horrific conditions of the war in Europe that Canada had been fighting for over two years. One of the 19 stories called for public help in housing the hundreds of clerks that had been called into the city to help with all the massive paperwork that red tape called for. The public were urged to help house the clerks. Government suggested bed sitting should be offered at $15... for a whole month. Food and lodgings ought to go for between $30 and $35 for the month, they said.
The most prominent picture on the cover was of famous 41 year old New Yorker James Cagney. He was playing the lead role in a big screen movie, advertised at above left, and being filmed in Ontario.
The character was about a daredevil bush pilot who wanted to get into the war effort. The movie was designed not only to entertain but to put the message in front of those in all of North America, of serving age, to step forth and enlist. The picture was produced by the Warner Brothers family from Poland who emmigrated to the US, then some coming to Canada, two being born here, and the family later pioneering in the film business back in the US. (It was the same firm that recently released the highly acclaimed American Sniper movie, about Chris Kyle, whom many argue is worthy of the Medal of Honor.
The captioned picture above and its story no doubt made it to the covers of papers across Canada. And perhaps Charles saw it when he walked the streets of Montreal that sunny day back in 1941. Charles was a teen and he was from Ramsey New Jersey.
Just 2 months past his 17th birthday, Charles was supposed to be in highschool. But the family told me he ran away from home, and thanks to many a trucker, found himself in Montreal and somehow convinced the authorities that he was of legal age (18) and signed up with the famous Black Watch to head off to the battlefields of Europe. (The Watch was a special force that later in the war followed in the footsteps of the Devils Brigade, noted in many recent columns in this space.)
Charles was not the first underaged to join the military with the hopes of heading off to do his bit. Nor was he the first to head north from the US and serve with the Canadian Forces of the day.. before..and since.
It's been said that some 20% of all soldiers who fought in the US Civil War were under the legal age of 18. Research Johnny Clem of the 2nd Michigan who dropped his drum to pick up a rifle and shoot a Confederate Colonel. Clem was only 10 years old at the time. Many a year earlier in a Battle called Waterloo, 4,000 boys fought. Each was well under the age of 18. And in WW11 Canadian forces boys numbered between 4 and 5 THOUSAND, and under 18 years of age. A few were only 13. More recently, in the Battle of the Falklands, there are claims of OVER 65% of those wearing the British uniform, started their service at an age below that of an 18 year old.
Of those coming north to join the Canadian Forces in times of war, columns in this space have brought you many of these stories. Some involving heroes who, two years into the war, switched over to serve in US units when America joined the war effort, and then went on to earn Medals of Honor.
In early 1941, almost a year before the US joined the war, some 6000 Americans were alrerady serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Some 600 of these being instructors to boot. Famed American Joe McCarthy of the Dambusters wore the Canadian uniform of an airman, as did High Flight's writer John Gillespie. At the same time some 10,000 were wearing the uniforms of Canadian soldiers. Thousands more would join the ranks of the Canadians before the war came to an end.
Charles had been missing just under three months before a bizaar incident resulted in the family discovering he was in the Canadian army. Above, in what must be a rare picture, the youthful soldier wears the berret of the famed Black Watch.
The family tells me that he was found by complete fluke. An insurance agent was having some dealings with the family when it was mentioned that Charles was missing. Soon thereafter that agent went on holdiday... to Montreal, of all places. Sitting in a pub were several soldiers. One mentioed a hometown of Ramsey. The agent was also from Ramsey, a small community of about 15,000. What were the odds of the two bumping into each other in a Montreal pub. But met they did. And soon the agent was telling his client, Charles' parents... where the youth was.
Wonder if the agent increased his premiums for rectifying the loss! Hehe.
The family notes that Congressman J. Parnell Thomas of New Jersey was asked to help get the Canadian government to release Charles and send him back home to his family in Ramsey. It is not known what part Parnell took, but as a WWl veteran himself, no doubt he was of some assistance. From the above Discharge Certificate it is noted that letters were received, from probably the family or possibly Congressman Thomas. The very next day Charles Ernest Hosking Jr was released from further service in the Canadian Army.
He had served a whopping 25 days with the Black Watch!
Back home he returned to high school. But soon he was off again. And again northbound he went. But this time he was detained by border agents and the family called to recover him, yet again.
Destined to put a uniform on again, he would join the United States Coast Guard for a short period. By May of 1943 Charles had left the USCG and travelled about 100 miles south to Fort Dix New Jersey to sign up with the US Army. It would be just a few months less than 2 years after he joined the Canadian army. He was now of age and I guess a 100 mile hitchhike was better than a 350 mile hitchhike in the other direction to Montreal.
But more on this on Sunday.
In the mean time please give some thought on Wednesday to the over 3,500 men and one woman who earned the Medal of Honor over its more than 150 year history. Well over 100 of these men came from, or had connections to Canada. That aside, scholars have said that today, over 3 MILLION Canadians are from, or have traces to the United States.
And Wednedsay that country, as we should, will be celebrating National Medal of Honor Day. It was on March 25 1863 that the first ever MOH was presented, and it went to a fellow named Jacob Parott, who's relative I have had a priviledge in interviewing several times and duly noted in this space in the past.
Give thought also to the incredible accomplishments of Doctor Mary Walker the only female recipient of the MOH, in this month of March. It is Womens History Month in the United States. Thanks to three Victoria BC women, my late mother being one, we celebrate the month in October of each year.
see you on Sunday next.
Family remembers and honours the late Sergeant Maurice De Macedo, First Special Service Force, Killed in Action at Mounte la Difensa, Italy
Several columns in this space have brought you part of the story of the First Special Service Force, aka... the Devils' Brigade. In its first battle experience, this joint Canadian and American commando unit climbed the unimaginable 3000 ft. peak of Mounte la Difensa. In 2 hours the famous unit drove off the enemy that had kept the Allies at bay for months. But they did so at very high costs. Hundreds of men from across Canada were in this elite unit, with about 90 from this province of British Columbia. Recent blogs and those going back 2 years tell of the Richard Hilton and Maurice De Macedo stories. Richard survived. Maurice became one of the first victims, in the first day of battle for the brigade. Maurice was from Victoria BC.
Two years after the war finally came to an end, the brigade held its first ever reunion. Veterans and families, dignitaries and the public numbering in the thousands attended. At the unveiling of a massive memorial, a Canadian and an American woman, both having lost sons with the Brigade, had the honour of unveiling the important structure that to this day reminds the world of the price these men and their families paid, and continue to pay, for our freedom. The Canadian woman selected was Maurice's mother May.
Many years later May's grand-daughter, Marie Mitchell, walked in not only her grandmother's footsteps, but also in those of her later uncle, Maurice de Macedo.
On December 3, 2013, exactly 70 years after the battle of 1943 took place on Mounte la Difensa, Italy, veterans of the brigade visited the site and held a ceremony to unveil the image at the left. Five months later about 70 veterans, familes and others visited many of the WWll Italy battle sites and war memorials in memory of those who fought so bravery.
The image at the right shows Marie Mitchell at the peak of the mountain that Maurice died on. She proudly clutches a picture of her uncle in hand. On her left is tour guide John Hart who also holds a photo of one of the veterans. At their far left is an actual veteran of the very battle... Mr. Eugene Gutierrez Jr., from Texas, who holds a picture of himself back in war days.
Among other important stops, the group, also traveled about 140 kms sough east of Rome to visit the Cassino War Cemetery wherein over 4200 commonwealth service men are buried. Within the cemetery a commonwealth monument contains the names of another 4000 plus who's grave whereabouts from the Italian Campaign are unknown.
Marie's Uncle Maurice rests in a marked grave. Marie told me with considerable emotion that there were many students at the cemetery who had traveled from Ottawa and elsewhere on their own tour and each had been assigned a few veterans to research. They were at the cemetery to find "their veterans" graves while Marie was doing the same thing. She broke down when telling me that she was wondering if any one of these youth was research her Maurice.
When she found the grave, she saw a student placing a poppy. He indeed was researching Maurice, and since that day the student Jacob Martin, and Marie have kept in touch and continue to share further information about the late Sergeant. She and Jacob are shown above, standing behind Maurice's grave marker. To the right is the massive memorial to those with unknown graves.
Marie was the only one of the 70 on tour who lost a relative at la Difensa and was asked to lay a wreath for those lost and does so at the memorial, shown in the bottom right image above.
In the Fall of 2014 Marie again went on another journey of discovery when she went off to Helena Montana, original home base and training center of the Devil's Brigade. The occassion was the 70th annniversary of the la Difensa battle, and the force's landing in the Aleutiens previous to heading off to Italy. The event also hosted the 68th annual reunion of the force, which meets annually, one year in the US and the next in Canada.
A past post of grandmother May's unveiling contained the above image, complete with a news article of the day.
Here you see Marie back at the very site her grandmother stood so many years ago for the original unveiling. Behing the original monument is a cenotaph that was erected in the early 1990's. It lists the names of those perished. Since some were mistakenly missed, their names were later added. More keep joining the list.
While the photo has lost some of its clearness in publishing, Marie is shown pointed at the name of her Uncle Maurice, who's surname is mispelled. Marie did not realize something till I saw the image and did some further research. While only a small portion of the entire cenotaph, this portion has names of Canadians listed from PEI, NB, Ont, Man, Sask, Alta and BC. There are at least 26 Canadians enscribed on this portion of the monument.
Marie was not finished her travels yet. In early February of this year she was back in the United States, but this time in Washington DC for the very ceremony where the US Congress presented its Congressional Gold Medal to the First Special Service Force, aka the brigade. The media across North America covered the event. Many local papers in Canada also wrote about the local connection, be it with one of the 19 Canadian veterans attending at DC, or the many others who were unable to attend.
Events took place at a number of venues including at the Canadian Embassy which I was privileged to visit during my recent research trip to Gettysburg and the DC area.
At above left the Canadian embassy hosted all 40 vets, both US and Canadian, at a special ceremony wherein each was presented with a copy of THE Congressional Gold Medal that the force would later in the program, receive and cherish. Each vet got a bronze medal, an exact duplicate, except not in gold, and also made by the US mint. At the right officials presented and congratulate two of the vets representing the entire brigade. The fellow on the left should look familiar. He is Texan Eugene Gutierrez who sat atop Mount la Difensa with Marie shown in the top picture of this blog. Representing Canada at that same podium was brigade veteran Charles Mann from Kincardine Ontario. Canadian flags are not in the picture unfortunately, but be assured they were displayed farther along on the platform.
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio is shown presenting the medal to the two veterans. The mint's gold medal, shown here, depicts not only the Canadian and American involvement but veterans mountain climbing, dropping by parachute and landings by sea.
Marie stands along side a very large image of the Congressional Gold Medal and again holds a picture of her late uncle, Sergeant Maurice de Macedo of Victoria BC.
While in DC Marie and many of the other veterans and families ordered there own copies of the medal from the US Mint.
Not long ago Marie received her medal and most graciously showed me the medal a few days back on the occassion of yet another trip to honor this brigade and the brave men who fought so valiantely and at such increfbly high costs.
This next trip was in joining me and another military researcher as we all ventured north up the Vancouver Island to Courtenay were Richard Hilton lives.
Richard, the subject of many blogs here, is 99 years old and the oldest Canadian veteran of the brigade. For some time it was thought, in error, that he was the oldest of the American vets as well but a vet in California is in his 101st year of life.
On March 8th Richard was presented his congressional Gold Medal duplicate in a small ceremony at his retirement home. Over a dozen dignitaries and perhaps close to 100 attended to witness the ceremony. He was awarded cerificates, a set of jump wings and of course the medal. Shown above are most of the dignitaries. To the right Richard is seated as retired Canadian Major General Brian Vernon presents the gold medal. The general retired with some 39 years of service, briefly with the reserves and mostly with the regular army at the officer level. He was an active parachitist for over 30 years and at retirement was the highest ranking paratrooper in the CF. His list of commands included the 2nd Airborn Commandos, the 3rd PPCLI, the 1st Mechanized Brigade Group and Mobile Command.
Assisting him in making the presentation was a 93 year old veteran by the name of James "Stocky" Edwards shown at far right, above. Lt Colonel Edwards was a highly medaled air ace. At the far left of his most impressive medal group, difficult to see above, is the Order of Canada. Wing Commander Edwards was a combat air fighter in WWll and was the top air ace in the Western Desert Campaign. To his credit are no less than 19 victories, 2 shared, 6 probable, 17 damaged and 12 craft destroyed on the ground.
While several dignitaries took to the podium to praise Richard and the brigade, some could not attend. One of these was a represenative from the US Counsulate General Office at Vancouver BC. At my suggetion, the organizer at Courteney requested I contact the embassy for representation. I did so but it was learned schedules would not allow attendance. A very nice letter of congratulations was forwarded to me to take to Courtenay. It was then decided that I would not be allowed to read the letter and that it would fall to the hands of the area Member of Parliament. He later discovered he could not attend and so it was read by a office staffer. I stood by and listened.
After the ceremony both Marie and I had the opportunity to talk briefly with Richard as he proudly displayed his Congressional Gold Medal. Hero ace "Stocky" Edwards looks on.
As do I to the next blog.