25 April 2007

Duxford's DH-9

The Imperial War Museum at Duxford has unveiled a restored DeHaviland DH-9 according to the local press. What I found of especial interest was that, according to the article, the museum had to sell an Me-163 Komet in order to finance the purchase and restoration of the DH-9.

24 April 2007

Chronicle of War

I received my author's copies yesterday. I think it looks good. I've also picked up a copy of Harry Pearson's account of growing up (and being grown up) with stories of war not just in the background but enveloping one like a mist rolling in from the sea.

18 April 2007

More Caption Controversy

The Canadian War Museum's exhibition on the work of the RCAF in Bomber Command has come in for some complaints from veterans. Unfortunately, the article doesn't quote the offending text at any length, so one must be more circumspect in taking sides. However, in this case my sympathies lie with the museum. The grim fact of strategic bombing operations during the war is that they killed many German civilians who for one reason or another found themselves in the vicinity of legitimate war targets. (Although at some point I believe Bomber Command regarding housing as a legitimate war target.) In the same way that chemical and biological weapons have been effectively criminalized by international institutions, I personally feel that the killing of civilians by military action should also be viewed with a jaundiced eye, no matter what military (or naval, in the case of the Lusitania) logic can be seen to justify their deaths. In that sense, I'd argue that the burden of proof rests on the Bomber Command personnel, and not the museum.

16 April 2007

Yad Vashem Caption Controversy

In the end, it seems Monsignor Antonio Franco, the Papal ambassador to Israel, will attend a memorial service for the victims of the Nazi murder of Jews at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. You can find the text of the caption quoted in this article.

Having written plenty of captions and short texts about historical subjects ranging from Scottish medieval history to the 9/11 Terror Attacks, I feel confident that I know how difficult it is to reduce a complex subject to a handful or two of words. In this case, my sympathies lie with the Vatican. The caption about Pius XII seems to use the available information to place the former pope in the worst possible light. While I wouldn't call the information in question 34 here as kind to Pius XII, it does place his conduct in the context of the Catholic Church and other Christian religions institutions as a whole. Pius XII could indeed have done more, but I'm sure that's true of plenty of other people. This caption seems either calculated to offend or a ploy in order to achieve greater access to the Vatican archives. Either way, it's not good history.

13 April 2007

Call for Photographs

Harper Collins in New Zealand plan to publish a book of First World War photographs intended to be definitive picture history of New Zealand involvement in the war. All the Dominions began establishing a real national identity during the Boer War and the First World War, and they are fortunate that this occurred in the photographic era. They were even luckier that cameras had become as portable as rifles! I'm hoping the publishers get a good response, and that we get some fascinating, previously unknown images.

12 April 2007

Rocket Science

For those traveling to Germany for a vacation, and willing to go off the tourists' beaten track, there's an opportunity to learn more about the Second World War V-weapons program on the island of Usedom at the Historical Technical Information Center there. The Center is opening a Memorial Landscape this summer that allows visitors to see the sites used for testing.

11 April 2007

Broken Arrow

One of the things that I noted during my hiatus was this gloomy perspective on the future of the Army. It's another piece of evidence in the case against the Bush administration for trying to fight a major overseas war on the cheap. At the end of the day, all the talk about supporting our fighting men and women overseas is useless unless it is backed up by the necessary sacrifices on the home front. If average Americans don't want to make those sacrifices, then there is no choice but to reduce engagements abroad.

10 April 2007

Missing in Action

Well, a variety of factors have kept me from blogging for the past month. I'm hoping that regular posts will resume more or less as of now. For the moment, I'd like to note that this book has received a big boost in sales owing to this film. Which is a shame because I think this book covers the topic better. However, if you like Ernle Bradford, I'd recommend this book, which I found entertaining many years ago in the 1970s.