Tuesday, September 29, 2015

La Musée de l'Armée

Courtyard Musée de l'Armée
Paris, FR
La Musée de l'Armée is one of the great military museums in the world (http://www.musee-armee.fr/accueil.html).  It can be be found in Paris adjacent to the tomb of France's greatest commander -- Napoleon.
Good Knights!
The French have a proud military tradition which long precedes Napoleon.  Clovis was a King of the Franks who triumphed at the battle of Soisson in 486 and converted to Christianity.

Liege Belgium
Charlemagne was crowned Holy Roman Emperor on one of history's most memorable dates -- Christmas Day 800.  This museum guides the visitor through this rich history from knights in shining armor to the World Wars of the 20th century.
Comte de Rochambeau
A visit to this museum reminds us that France too has invaded many countries over its long history.  It has projected its influence over much of the world to a surprising extent.  The French fleet and army intervened decisively in the American Revolution aiding Washington at the siege of Yorktown.  In America Invades we noted, "The direct intervention of the French began with Rochambeau landing a force of about six thousand French soldiers in Providence, Rhode Island. These forces and, critically, the French Navy led by the Comte de Grasse helped secure the surrender of Lord Cornwallis’s army at Yorktown." 
Napoleon I
Fans of Napoleon will certainly appreciate this deep collection of militaria from the first Empire.

A horse fit for an Emperor
You will even find Vizir, one of Napoleon's horses, stuffed and mounted and, seemingly, ready to ride.
French Revolutionary Flag
The Napoleonic period including the Revolution was the zenith of French military glory.
Franco-Prussian War
La Patrie en danger
Napoleon III eventually succeeded his uncle and led France into the disastrous Franco-Prussian war in 1870.  The provinces of Alsace and Lorraine were lost to Germany until the treaty of Versailles that ended World War I.  Napoleon III fled to England where he begged shelter from his London wine merchant -- Berry Brothers (http://www.bbr.com/). They have a Napoleon cellar to this day.
In the age of imperialism France planted its flag in colonies around the world.  The French and British empires would briefly collide at Fashoda in what is now South Sudan in 1898.

French artillery, WWI
But in 1914 the British and French would fight alongside each other in the Great War.  Their Russian ally would eventually collapse into a bloody revolution after suffering humiliating defeats such as the battle of Tannenberg (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Tannenberg).

WWI Trench warfare
The Western Front would become a wasteland as both sides dug deeper trenches and pounded each other with artillery.  Infantry assaults would be ground up by machine guns and barbed wire.  Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, asked, "Are there not other alternatives than sending our armies to chew barbed wire in Flanders?"

The First World War would devastate France.  Over 1.3 million soldiers of France and its empire would be killed as a result of the First World War.

Victory Parade 1918
Eventually, with the aid of American doughboys, the Allies would prevail.  The bitter peace that was negotiated at Versailles, however,  assured that war would be renewed in Europe.  Marshal Foch stated, "This is an armistice for twenty years."

Hitler in Paris, 1940
In 1939, following the invasion of Poland, France would find itself at war again with Germany.  In 1940 the German blitzkrieg stormed through the Ardennes forests in Belgium outflanking the Maginot line and France fell.  France was occupied and Hitler toured Paris.
Free French WW2 Poster
All French forces did not, however, surrender.  Many in Africa rallied to the cause of Free France and many would fight at places such as Bir Hakeim and El Alamein.
De Gaulle broadcasts from London
They were inspired by the words of General Charles de Gaulle, a 6' 5" veteran of World War I who refused to acknowledge defeat.  He would lead France to victory.
Charles de Gaulle
In America Invades we wrote, "on August 25, 1944, the French 2nd Armored Division, led by General Leclerc, was allowed the honor of being the first Allied force to liberate Paris. Ernest Hemingway personally led a group of irregulars that liberated the Ritz Hotel drinking seventy-three martinis that night in its bar. General Charles de Gaulle spoke from a balcony at the Hotel de Ville, “Paris outraged! Paris broken! Paris martyred! But Paris liberated! Liberated by itself, liberated by its people, with the help of the whole of France!”
Vive La France!
You can purchase your copy of America Invades here...www.americainvades.com
or on Amazon...www.amzn.com/1940598427

Monday, September 28, 2015

Have Americans Invaded Scotland?

USA vs. Scotland, September 27
Rugby World Cup 2015, Leeds, UK

Have American forces ever invaded Scotland?  Well, not exactly.  An American OSS raid on Nazi-occupied Norway originated from air bases in Scotland but that's not quite the same thing. And Americans have, of course, been militarily involved with Scotland serving alongside Brits at bases in Scotland.

One Scot (or Scottish American), however, did play a vital role in American military history though.  John Paul Jones was born in Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland.

Some Americans invaded Leeds
September 27, 2015
Jones, the son of a Scottish gardner, led the raid on Whitehaven during the American Revolution.  In the United Kingdom chapter of America Invades we wrote...

"In April of 1778, Captain John Paul Jones, the founding father of the American navy, and the crew of the Ranger, an 18-gun sloop, arrived in Britain and, unlike many Americans today, they weren’t there to visit Westminster Abbey or have a taste of fish and chips.

Captain John Paul Jones
Spiking the guns, Whitehaven, UK
Jones selected the English fishing village of Whitehaven on the Irish Sea as his target; Whitehaven was Britain’s third busiest seaport at that time. He would attempt to destroy its shipping and to kidnap the Earl of Selkirk. The harbor of Whitehaven was protected by two small forts. In the early hours of April 23, 1778, he and about forty volunteers from his crew scaled the fortress wall. They kicked in the door of the guardhouse. The sleeping guards surrendered without a shot. Jones’s men proceeded to spike about thirty-six guns of the battery with nails driven into the cannon’s touchholes. About half of his crew then broke into a local tavern and proceeded to get drunk. This caused a commotion and roused the local townspeople. Jones beat a hasty retreat and set fire to a merchant ship, a collier (that’s a coal ship and nothing to do with Lassie) named Thompson.

Jones climbed these stairs on April 23, 1778
Whitehaven, UK

Soon after, the Ranger sailed about twenty miles to enter the bay off St. Mary’s Isle. Jones took about a dozen men armed with cutlasses and muskets to a Georgian manor house owned by the Fourth Earl of Selkirk. Jones soon discovered that the earl was not in residence and could not be kidnapped. Instead, he demanded the silver plate be delivered up. The loot was hauled back to the Ranger. Shortly after, the 18-gun Ranger fought and captured the 20-gun Drake of the Royal Navy in an action that Jones described as “warm, close and obstinate.”

Jones’s raid on Whitehaven had succeeded in bringing the American Revolution “home to their own doors,” as he put it. The English press was incensed. The London Public Advertiser asked, “When such ravages are committed all along the coast, by one small privateer, what credit must it reflect on the First Lord of the Admiralty?” No one was killed or even injured in the Whitehaven raid, but insurance rates doubled. The Whitehaven raid lasted about two and a half hours and was an even shorter invasion than the assassination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011. Jones had second thoughts about the silver he stole from the Earl of Selkirk and later returned most of the loot.

John Paul Jones Pub
Whitehaven, UK
Herman Melville described John Paul Jones as “a mixture of gentleman and wolf.” At a critical moment in his later sea battle with the Serapis, when called upon to surrender, Jones uttered the immortal words, “I have not yet begun to fight.” Jones is buried with full honors at the US Naval Academy chapel in Annapolis."

USA vs. Scotland
Leeds, UK
All honors went to Scotland who defeated USA by a score of 36 to 16 in the Ruby World cup match played on September 27, 2015 in Leeds.  The USA led at the half by 13 to 3 but the Scots dominated the second half.  USA Rugby now knows what it feel like to be crucified on the cross of St. Andrew!
USA vs. Scotland
Leeds, UK
Commentators reminded the viewing audience that the USA actually has a surprisingly proud rugby tradition.
Go Team USA!
Rugby has not been played at the Olympics for a while, but Rugby Sevens will be played in 2016 at the games in Rio.  And the Rugby gold medal defending champions are...the USA!  In 1924 an American team defeated the Romanians and French to win rugby gold at the Paris Olympics.  They also won gold in 1920 after beating France -- their only rival in the Antwerp games.

You can purchase your copy of America Invades here...www.americainvades.com
or on Amazon here...www.amzn.com/1940598427

And now my UK friends can Pre-order their copy of 
All the Countries the Americans Have Ever Invaded here...

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Pope Francis Invades America & the Pope's Machine Gun!

Pope Francis lands at Andrews AFB

The most recent major Italian "Invasion" of America, entirely friendly and widely welcomed, was launched this week by Pope Francis as he clambered down his Alitalia jet at Andrews Air Force Base.  Some may object that Pope Francis is Argentine and that is true.  But he is also deeply Italian.  As we point out in the Argentinian chapter of our forthcoming book, Italy Invades: How Italians Conquered the World, Pope Francis is ethnically Italian-Argentine.  Thus Pope Francis himself is the product of an Italian Invasion.  In his Rose Garden address delivered on September 23, 2015 he was quick to point out that he too is a son of immigrants -- like so many Americans.

The Pope will advocate some positions (mainly economic) that may alienate Republicans and some positions (mainly pro-life) that alienate Democrats.  Good for him -- I hope that he makes politicians of both parties squirm in their seats and rethink their tired talking points.

The Pope is the Vicar of Christ and Christ is the Prince of Peace.  So we can expect the Pope to advocate on behalf of peace in our world.
Coming October 2015!
But we should not forget that the papacy once wielded tremendous secular power and has, in fact, launched many real invasions.  We wrote in the Introduction to Italy Invades...

Pope Alexander VI (1431 - 1503)
"Many popes based in Rome directed Christians to embark on crusades to the Holy Lands. Alexander VI, a Borgia pope, imposed the Treaty of Tordesillas, which split South America into Spanish and Portuguese bits in the fifteenth century. The Papal States had their own armies for many centuries. Pope John Paul II, with his special insight into Eastern Europe, helped to steer the West to victory in the Cold War."

Indeed the papacy did not give up its secular powers without a fight.  And that fight was with the Italians.  In the Vatican City chapter of Italy Invades we wrote...
Napoleon III
French Foreign Legion Museum, Aubagne, FR
"During the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, Napoleon III, desperate to defend France, was compelled to withdraw the French garrison from Rome. King Victor Emmanuel II saw his chance to fulfill his long- cherished dream of capturing Rome.
Pope Pius IX (1792 - 1878)
When Pope Pius IX, whom a conclave had declared infallible the same year, was presented with a demand that he submit to the protection of the Kingdom of Italy, he exploded, “Fine loyalty! You are all a set of vipers, of whited sepulchres, and wanting in faith.” The Pope’s Army was outnumbered six to one by the Italian forces, who also threatened to bombard Rome with a navy. The pope knew that all was lost but refused to submit without “a bit of resistance” to show the world that he acted under duress.

On September 11, 1870, the Italian Army, not just irregulars of the Garibaldini, finally began an invasion of the Papal States. The defending papal forces were, in some sense, surprisingly well equipped with the latest weaponry. Their infantry were armed with the breech-loading Remington model 1868. Their leader, General Kanzler, was competent and had been the victor of the Battle of Mentana just three years before.
Claxton Gun
"The Pope's Machine Gun"
Grand Curtius Museum, Liege, BE
The papal forces were one of only three armies in the world at the time (along with England and France) that were equipped with a Claxton gun, a forerunner of the machine gun. This type of gun had been invented by an American—F. S. Claxton—and featured six horizontally mounted 25mm canons. A Claxton gun, likely of Belgian manufacture, was concealed in one of the towers of the San Giovanni gate. But even the pope’s machine gun could not save Rome.

By September 18, the Eternal City was surrounded. Italian forces, led by General Cadorna, had orders to attack anywhere in Rome except for the Leonine City, which included the Vatican and the Castel Sant'Angelo. No one wished to see an artillery shell land on St. Peter’s Basilica or wound the Holy Father.
The battle for Rome was fought on September 20. Thirty-two Italian soldiers were killed, along with twelve in the papal army. At last, Rome was Italian." 

Pope Francis in the 21st century is a Pope of a very different stripe who has no machine guns.  And even if the Holy Father did have a machine gun it would be loaded with benedictions and candy for the children!

Bon voyage Pope Francis!

You can purchase your copy of America Invades here...www.americainvades.com
or on Amazon here...www.amzn.com/1940598427

You and the Pope can now Order your copy of Italy Invades here at...www.italyinvades.com
or on Amazon.com...www.amzn.com/1940598729

The Ultimate Italy Invades Gift Package is now here...

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Pink Floyd's The Wall and WWII

Remember the first brick in The Wall!

Trump talks about building a Wall but Pink Floyd actually built one -- and they made the youth of the world pay for it!

Many, many of my generation are fans of the classic British rock group Pink Floyd.  Many people appreciate the album known as The Wall.  Far fewer, however, have seen the film The Wall that was released in 1979 and is available now in a 25th anniversary edition (www.amzn.com/B0006ZE7G2).

The Wall is a rock opera that tracks the life of "Pink" a rock star whose life is on the skids.  Pink is partially based on the life of Roger Waters, the bassist and lyricist for Pink Floyd.

Get Hammered by Pink Floyd!
The Wall is not a great film but it does have some brilliant moments.  Roger Waters, in the DVD commentary, even went so far as to describe it as a "humorless" film.  The Wall is by turns humorless, pretentious and and often banal.  The animation featured in the film is sometimes inspired but often seems deeply misogynistic.  But the soundtrack is amazing.

Watching the movie for the first time this past summer was a revelatory experience for me.  Having grown up with the soundtrack without seeing the film I had no idea that The Wall was so profoundly affected by one of my favorite topics -- World War II history.
Badge Royal Fusiliers
Waters was born in England in 1943.  His father, Eric Fletcher Waters (1914-1944), was killed near Anzio while serving as an officer in the Royal Fusiliers; Waters was only five months of age at the time.  Waters grew up in post-war England, raised by a single mother who was, by most accounts, over-protective and smothering.

Commander K at Commonwealth cemetery, Florence, IT
The first brick in The Wall in Pink's life was a memorial stone for his soldier-father.  Visitors to the UK today can find similar memorials erected in nearly every British town or city.  In 2014 Waters dedicated an Italian war memorial which commemorates his father and was made an honorary citizen of Anzio (http://www.wantedinrome.com/news/roger-waters-made-honorary-citizen-of-anzio/).  All roads lead to Rome.

Sicily was liberated in the summer of 1943 but bitter fighting in Italy would continue right up until on VE Day which marked the end of the war in Europe on May 8, 1945 (http://americanconservativeinlondon.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/have-americans-invaded-lake-garda.html).  The bloody Italian campaign caused far more Allied casualties than the campaign in northern Europe from D-day into Germany but it generates far less media attention (http://americanconservativeinlondon.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/the-nearly-forgotten-dead-of-world-war.html).  Kudos to Waters for helping us to remember this history.

Eric Waters fell in the combat against fascism.  Totalitarian conformism is a primary theme of The Wall.  The British neo-nazis depicted in the film seem far better dressed and organized than the actual skinheads of the 1970s and 1980s.

The song We Don't Need No Education reverberates in unexpected ways in the 21st century.  The African terrorist organization Boko Haram defines itself "Western Education is sinful" and Pink Floyd might seem to agree.  But clearly children DO need education, they just need the right kind of education.  Education should not be "thought control" but rather a flowering and celebration of thought.

Pink Floyd's song expresses a profound dissatisfaction with the British educational system -- a system despised and often ridiculed by Tom Brown, Winston Churchill, David Niven (http://americanconservativeinlondon.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/the-moon-is-balloon.html), Monty Python and many more.  Perhaps Waters reaction was simply a product of a particular moment in a particular place and time?  The English teachers who taught Roger Waters in the early 1950s had, after all, been trained and equipped to create Empire builders for which the rapidly disintegrating British empire had no use.

Pink's tiresome self-indulgence stands in startling contrast to his father's self-sacrifice.  The Greatest Generation defeated the fascist menace only to pass the torch to a self-absorbed baby boom generation whose greatest achievement seems only to lie in rendering themselves comfortably numb as they endure marital turbulence, mid-life crises and self-inflicted wounds both physical and psychic.

You can purchase a copy of Commander Kelly's 
America Invades here...www.americainvades.com
or here on Amazon...www.amzn.com/1940598427

Get the America Invades full package only here...

Sunday, September 20, 2015

America Invades Samoa!

Samoa: Island Paradise
Rugby Powerhouse

Samoa beat the USA 25 to 16 in their first game of the Rugby World Cup in Brighton on September 20.  USA versus Samoa is more than just a Rugby match though.

Have American forces ever invaded Samoa?  In our book America Invades you can learn the surprising answer...

"The South Pacific Samoan islands are divided into two groups, each a separate country, American Samoa and the Independent State of Samoa, or more commonly, just Samoa. Until 1997, Samoa was called Western Samoa, a term still in use.

Naturally we have strong connections with American Samoa, but we’ve actually also had quite a lot of military involvement with the Independent State of Samoa.

As early as February 1841, marines from the USS Peacock landed on the island of Upolu and burned three villages there after the death of an American sailor. But it was later in the nineteenth century that we managed to get even more seriously involved.

In 1888, the First Samoan Civil War was raging with local factions fighting each other but Western powers, including us, playing a role as well. Since we had an interest in and interests on the islands, we sent ashore marines to Apia to protect American lives and property. Things were already tense between us and the Germans (one of the other Western powers involved) when shelling had damaged American-owned property, and in 1889, we could have ended up in armed conflict with Germany, long before World War I. The Germans had sent warships, SMS Adler, SMS Olga, and SMS Eber to Apia Harbor, and we had USS Nipsic, USS Vandalia, and USS Trenton there. The British, the third Western power involved, had sent HMS Calliope. The German and US ships were in a tense stand-off for months until finally the weather decided matters. A devastating cyclone hit on March 15, sinking four of the US and German ships and forcing the remaining two onto the beach. Only HMS Calliope was left afloat. By the time it was all over, nobody could really be bothered to fight, and they didn’t have anything much left to fight with.

Ensign John Monaghan USN
Spokane, WA
However, that was not to be the end of the nineteenth century superpower dispute over Samoa. By 1899, fighting between local factions was raging once again, with the United States and Britain throwing their weight behind Prince Tanu and with the Germans supporting his opponent, Mata’afa losefo. British and US naval forces, including the USS Philadelphia, shelled Apia in March 1899, and then US and British marines and sailors along with Tanu’s followers pursued Mata’afa losefo’s forces. What followed was the Battle of Vailele, in which the American, British, and Tanu’s party were ambushed by large numbers of attackers. Our men fought bravely, but their commander and three other Americans were killed (including Ensign John Monaghan, a graduate of Gonzaga University and the US Naval Academy who was later commemorated with a statue in Spokane, Washington), and the attacking party had to withdraw. Shortly afterwards, a peace deal was reached, which split Samoa into German and American areas while Britain got territory elsewhere. The American part became American Samoa, and the German portion was captured by New Zealand forces at the beginning of World War I, long before we entered the war.

During World War II, in addition to having forces in American Samoa, we had marines based in the other part of Samoa, as well as built an airfield and seaplane base there. The country became independent as Western Samoa in 1962.

The US military has been involved in humanitarian projects there. And in 2013, the amphibious dock-landing USS Pearl Harbor visited Apia for Pacific Partnership 2013."

You can purchase you copy of America Invades here...www.americainvades.com
or on Amazon...www.amzn.com/1940598427

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Italy and America / Jefferson and Mazzei

Shared History / Shared Values

The ties between Italy and America are deep-rooted and longstanding.  They quite literally go into the soil of both nations and they precede the founding of the United States of America.  We explore the relationship between Italians and Americans in our new upcoming book, Italy Invades: How Italians Conquered the World (www.italyinvades.com).  Our book features a chapter on every country in the world and in our chapter on the USA we write...

Thomas Jefferson, Paris
"Philip Mazzei (1730–1816) was a Tuscan aristocrat who immigrated to Virginia and acted as an agent for the colony, purchasing arms for the Patriot cause. He was a great friend of Thomas Jefferson and wrote that “All men are created equal” even before Jefferson penned it in the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The two men shared a love for both liberty and wine; Mazzei helped Jefferson to plant grapes at Monticello. The Mazzei family has been making wines in Chianti since the fifteenth century and continue to do so to this day."

Philip Mazzei (1730 - 1816)
"All men are created equal."
All men may be created equal but all wines are certainly NOT created equal.  And the Mazzei family has been making some of the finest red wines in Tuscany for a very long time.  Their Chianti Riserva is delicious.  Here is the link for the Mazzei family's vineyard at Fonterutoli... (http://www.fonterutoli.com/info/).

Italy Invades: How Italians Conquered the World is coming October 2015.

Order your copy of Italy Invades here today...
or on Amazon.com...www.amzn.com/1940598729

The Ultimate Italy Invades Gift Package 
is now here...

Italy Invades Tour
October / November 2015