The time that African American troops battled American MPs in Britain during WWII - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY HISTORY

The time that African American troops battled American MPs in Britain during WWII

Though America didn’t enter WWII until after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, the American draft began earlier in October 1940, with the first men entering military service on November 18 of that year. Men between the ages of 21 and 45 were required to register and were liable to be called up for military service regardless of their skin color (the age range for registration was expanded to 18-65 following Pearl Harbor). Colored men were called up to fight for a country that allowed them to be discriminated against on buses, in restaurants and at water fountains to name a few.


Additionally, African American troops were segregated into colored units like the 1511th Quartermaster Truck Regiment. Part of the Eighth Air Force, the 1511th was sent to the European theater and based at Air Force Station 569 (nicknamed Adam Hall) in Bamber Bridge, Lancashire, England. The 1511th was almost entirely African American, while all but one of its officers were white.

Upon their arrival at Bamber Bridge, the men of the 1511th were surprised to find that the town was racially integrated; the townspeople welcomed Black troops and allowed them entry and service in all establishments. This didn’t sit well with the American commanders who demanded the creation of a colored bar to prevent the mixing of white and Black troops. In response, all three pubs in Bamber Bridge posted “Black Troops Only” signs. Racial tensions were further exacerbated by the Detroit race riot that took place from June 20-22, 1943 and resulted in 1,800 arrests, 433 injuries, and 34 deaths.

On the night of June 24, 1943, a group of colored troops were drinking with English locals at Ye Olde Hob Inn in Bamber Bridge. Two white MPs, Cpl. Roy Windsor and Pfc. Ralph Ridgeway entered the pub and attempted to arrest one of the colored soldiers, Pvt. Eugene Nunn, for being improperly dressed (wearing a field jacket rather than a Class A uniform) and not having a pass.

The time that African American troops battled American MPs in Britain during WWII

Ye Olde Hob Inn c. 2005 (Photo by Geoff Wilkinson)

An argument broke out in the pub, with the locals siding with Nunn and his comrades. The exact details of what followed are unclear, but the situation at the pub was defused and the MPs left without Nunn. They returned, however, with two more MPs and fighting broke out. One of the MPs drew his sidearm and shot Pvt. Lynn Adams in the neck, dispersing the crowd.

Adams survived his wound and the men of the 1511th returned to their base (the white MPs were posted on the other side of town). Word of the incident soon spread and rumors began to circulate that the MPs were out to shoot Black troops. Lt. Edwin Jones, one of the Black officers, persuaded the men to let the officers investigate the incident and ensure that justice was done. A few soldiers slipped off base, either to run or seek revenge on the MPs, but the majority of them remained on the base.

At midnight, jeeps full of MPs arrived at the base along with an improvised armored vehicle which reportedly mounted a machine gun. Panic and chaos ensued and the colored troops armed themselves in response. Two-thirds of the rifles in the camp armory were reportedly taken. The MPs retreated from the base and the colored troops followed them into the town. A roadblock was set up, which British police officers claim was used to ambush the colored troops.

Running battles were fought between the colored troops and white MPs throughout the town, with both sides exchanging gunfire down the streets. The shooting continued until 4AM and resulted in two MPs and five colored soldiers wounded, and one Black soldier, Pvt. William Crossland, dead. The rest of the troops returned to their base, and by the afternoon all but four of the rifles were recovered.

Running battles were fought between the colored troops and white MPs throughout the town, with both sides exchanging gunfire down the streets. The shooting continued until 4AM and resulted in two MPs and five colored soldiers wounded, and one Black soldier, Pvt. William Crossland, dead. The rest of the troops returned to their base, and by the afternoon all but four of the rifles were recovered.

Following the battle, 32 of the colored troops were found guilty of, among other crimes, mutiny, seizing arms, rioting, and firing upon officers and MPs. However, their sentences were all reduced on appeal by the President of the court martial, citing poor leadership, with officers failing to perform their duties properly. The longest sentence served was 13 months; arguably a light sentence given the charge of mutiny during a time of war.

The commander of the Eighth Air Force, General Ira Eaker, placed the majority of the blame on the white officers and MPs. To prevent such an incident from repeating, Gen. Eaker consolidated the Black trucking units into a single, special command, purged the officer corps of inexperienced and racist officers, and racially integrated the MP patrols. As a result, morale amongst colored troops in England greatly improved and the rate of courts-martial fell, though several more minor incidents between white and colored troops occurred in Britain over the course of the war.

The Battle of Bamber Bridge, as it has come to be known, was heavily censored. Fearing that news of the incident would serve to worsen race relations on the homefront and abroad, papers wrote only that violence had occurred in an unnamed town in the North West of England.

Popular interest in the Battle of Bamber Bridge increased after author Anthony Burgess, who lived in the area after the war, wrote about it in the New York Times in 1973. In the late 1980’s, bullet holes from the battle were discovered in the Bamber Bridge NatWest bank by a maintenance worker.

To date, the Battle of Bamber Bridge remains a rather obscure event in history. The explosion of racial tension served as one of the many precursors to the American civil rights movement that would follow the war. Though the U.S. military was desegregated in 1948, it would take decades for the nation to see racial integration as a whole with advancements like Brown v. Board and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The recorded circumstances of Pvt. Crossland’s death are DNB – Died Non-Battle. He deserves to be remembered as a victim of racism and a martyr for the advancement of equality.


MIGHTY HISTORY

How German POWs staged their greatest World War I escape

Today, Sutton Bonington campus, part of the University of Nottingham, houses the schools of bioscience and veterinary medicine. But a century ago, during World War I, it was home to a prisoner of war (PoW) camp for German military personnel captured by the British on the Western front. And it was the site of a great escape, when Germans managed to flee the camp on Sept. 25, 1917.

At the outbreak of war in 1914 the government took over buildings and sites around the country to convert into PoW camps. Sutton Bonington was a group of buildings completed in 1915 for the Midland Dairy Institute, an agricultural college, but it was taken over by the War Office before the institute’s staff and students could move in. Barbed wire fencing and some additional huts were added to the site and around 600 German military officers moved in.


German officers who were made prisoners of war, by contrast with ordinary soldiers and sailors, were not allowed to work. Many became extremely bored, and sought to relieve the tedium by playing sports such as football and tennis, putting on concerts and plays, and planning how to escape. The preferred escape option was to tunnel under the barbed wire, and to disappear into the countryside beyond.

Two attempts to tunnel out at Sutton Bonington failed, but the third succeeded, and at 1.30am on Sept. 25, 1917, 22 men slipped, slithered and pulled their way along a tunnel, which was less than a metre high. They emerged into a field of turnips, and were hidden from the guards in the sentry posts by a ridge running through a nearby field. It helped their cause that the moon had set before they started, that the search lights were out because of concerns about Zeppelin raids, and that it was not raining.

The time that African American troops battled American MPs in Britain during WWII

The main administration block at Sutton Bonington campus. It was used as a prisoner of war camp for German officers between 1916-19.

(CC BY-SA 3.0)

In terms of simple numbers, no other breakout was as successful. Usually only two or three men were involved with a tunnel project. The 22 from Sutton Bonington made it the largest breakout in Britain of World War I.

Best laid plans

The men planned to split into groups of four, preferably with an English speaker in each one, and to head for different ports along the east coast. They had maps and a compass with them, as well as food supplies which had arrived in the camp from Germany the previous day. The absconders hoped to stow away on board a vessel passing through the English channel, and return to Germany, re-join their regiment and re-engage with the war.

The breakout was discovered at 4.30am when a policeman patrolling the village of Plumtree came upon Herman Genest walking alone but wearing a German officer’s uniform. He arrested him, took him to the nearest police station, and from there saw him returned to the camp at Sutton Bonington. Genest had been free for approximately three hours.

His arrest led to a roll call at Sutton Bonington which confirmed that 22 men were missing. All police, special constables, and other groups concerned with law and order in the area were ordered from their beds to find the Germans.

Within hours they were reeled in. My own research into the episode has uncovered that three of the German men, claiming to be seeking work in one of Nottingham’s munitions factories, were arrested at Trent Bridge. Two more, including the leader Otto Thelan, were arrested at Tollerton at 11am, and two others later in the day. Also arrested that day was Karl von Müller, a German naval hero from the early days of the war, who was found by children when he was blackberrying at Tollerton.

The rest were picked up over the ensuing days with the last four German officers captured at Brimington Woods, near Chesterfield. A police sergeant found them on September, 30, “and immediately upon being challenged they admitted their identity”, according to a report a few days later in the Derby Daily Telegraph.

Getting out was unlikely

The experiences of these men were typical of other German prisoners who tried to escape during World War I. They were expected to wear their uniforms in camp, but this made them conspicuous if they managed to escape. They had to walk because catching trains was too problematic, and they normally travelled at night and hid in barns and hay stacks during the day. They carried food, but could struggle to find enough liquid, and if they reached the coast there was no guarantee of a passage across the Channel.

Escape was a romantic ideal rather than a rational expectation. Gunter Pluschow, who escaped from another PoW camp at Donington Hall, in Leicestershire, was the only German to make it home in World War I, largely because he managed to adopt a disguise and stow away on board a cargo ship at Harwich.

The Sutton Bonington camp was used for PoWs until February 1919 when those remaining were moved to Oswestry in Shropshire. The site was then cleared and cleaned, including the removal of the huts and barbed wire, and returned to the Midland Dairy Institute, which formally opened in October 1919. In 1946 the institute joined the University of Nottingham as the faculty of agriculture.

This article originally appeared on The Conversation. Follow @ConversationUS on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

Did you know these 31 presidents served in the military before becoming commander in chief?

Serving in the military is not a requirement in order to become President of the United States. However, a surprising number of former presidents — 31 of them — served time in military ranks — in wars from colonial times, all the way up to Vietnam. That includes short stints, as well as those who put in decades, and enlisted and officers alike. Take a look at these past commanders in chief and their stints serving our country, before they did so from the very top of the chain of command. 

  1. George Washington, 1752 to 1799

By the age of 23, George Washington earned a spot as commander of all troops living in Virginia. And at the start of the Revolutionary War, he was named Major General and Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. In 1789 he was elected as the country’s first president, unanimously, in 1797. He continued with his military service, then in the U.S. Army, where he was named Lieutenant General, until his death in 1799.

  1. Thomas Jefferson, 1770-1779

Before his term as the second president, Thomas Jefferson spent nine years in the Colonial/Continental Army. Jefferson was also a colonel in the Virginia Militia until he was promoted to commander of the Albermarle County Militia in 1775.

  1. James Madison, 1775

Another member of the Virginia Militia was the nation’s third president, James Madison. He was commissioned as the colonel of the Orange County Militia in 1775, but his health prevented him from going directly to battle in the Revolutionary War. Instead, he remained an acting officer, before leaving the military for politics. 

  1. James Monroe, 1775-1778

Known as the last U.S. President who fought in the Revolutionary War, James Monroe joined the Continental Army in 1775. He served as a lieutenant under Captain William Washington. Taking part in the Battle of Trenton, Monroe nearly died from a severed artery. George Washington himself awarded him for bravery, promoting him to captain. He eventually became a lieutenant colonel but left the military to study law under Thomas Jefferson. 

  1. Andrew Jackson

As a pre-teen, Andrew Jackson helped deliver letters during the Revolutionary War and was eventually held captive by the British. (Yes, really.) He later served in the U.S. Volunteer Army, the Tennessee Militia, and as a major general in the U.S. Army. He earned this rank during the War of 1812, where he was nicknamed “Old Hickory” for his toughness. 

  1. William Henry Harrison, 1812,1814

Former president William Henry Harrison earned a gold medal for his work in the war of 1812. After first serving as a major general for the Kentucky Militia, he commanded the Army of the Northwest, before resigning in 1814. 

  1. John Tyler, 1813

John Tyler has a unique military experience in that it was short, and that he served in a little-known militia, known as the Charles City Rifles. Tyler was a captain in this Virginia militia until he dissolved it two months later. 

  1. James K. Polk, 1821

Future president James K. Polk jumpstarted his political career as a colonel in the Tennessee Militia. However short, it was labeled wildly successful, as he helped lead a mission to extend the U.S. territory into the west as part of the Mexican-American War. 

  1. Zachary Taylor, 1808-1849

Zachary Taylor is said to have always wanted a military career. He fought in the War of 1812, the Black Hawk War, and the Second Seminole War. He earned the rank of major general in the Mexican-American War. His efforts named him as a national hero, and the title of U.S. President. 

  1. Millard Fillmore

Former president Millard Fillmore actually fulfilled his military involvement after he was the president. He joined the Union Continentals as a major. The unit was made of men over the age of 45 and who resided from Upstate New York. 

  1. Franklin Pierce, 1846-1848

Yet another president to serve in the Mexican-American War, Franklin Pierce began his career in the New Hampshire Militia. He earned the rank of brigadier general until he was thrown from his horse and received substantial injuries that required him to resign. 

  1. James Buchanan

James Buchanan was the final president to serve in the War of 1812. He is also the only Commander-in-Chief who was enlisted. Buchanan was a private within the Pennsylvania Militia until 1814. 

  1. Abraham Lincoln, 1832

Before his stint as one of the most popular U.S. presidents, Abraham Lincoln joined the Illinois Militia in 1832. He served during the Black Hawk War. 

  1. Andrew Johnson

Under Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson was named military governor in Tennessee in 1862. He was later promoted to brigadier general of the U.S. Army, a role he held until 1865. 

  1. Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant is the first president to attend a U.S. Service academy, having graduated from West Point. To date, he is regarded as one of the most recognized military members in the country. Grant served in the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, and stood as a general until 1869. 

  1. Rutherford B. Hayes, 1861-1865

Achieving the rank of major general, Rutherford B. Hayes fought in the Civil War. He was elected to Congress while still serving in the U.S. Army, despite not having campaigned. 

  1. James A. Garfield

During the Civil War, James A. Garfield joined the Army as a lieutenant colonel, eventually earning the rank of major general. At the time, he was the youngest to achieve this title. Like his predecessor, he was elected to a federal office without having campaigned. 

  1. Chester A. Arthur, 1858-1863

Former president Chester A. Arthur started in the New York Militia, where he eventually became a brigadier general. Though he found in the Civil War, he avoided the battlefield, citing family that fought for the Confederacy. 

  1. Benjamin Harrison, 1862-1865

During the Civil War, Benjamin Harrison joined the U.S. Army as a recruiter for volunteers in Indiana. Grandson of William Henry Harrison, he was named brevet brigadier general of volunteers by Thomas Jefferson. 

  1. William McKinley, 1861-1865

Fighting for the Union in the Civil War, William McKinley served for four years. He was named brevet major, but resigned at the close of the war. 

  1. Theodore Roosevelt

One of the legacies that Theodore Roosevelt leaves behind is his interest in military strategy and naval theory. Already working in politics, he actually left his career in 1898 in order to schedule a volunteer cavalry, the Rough Riders, to help efforts in the Spanish-American War. He was named colonel, before leaving to rejoin his political career. 

  1. Harry S. Truman, 1919-1945

Harry S. Truman was denied entrance to West Point after failing his eye exam. He later memorized the test in order to gain access to the Missouri National Guard. He earned the rank of colonel and fought in World War I. 

  1. Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1915-1948

Another West Point graduate, Dwight D. Eisenhower graduated as a second lieutenant. He fought in both World Wars, making it to the rank of a 5-star Army General in 1944. He retired in order to run for president.

  1. John F. Kennedy, 1941-1945

John F. Kennedy served in WWII as a lieutenant in the Navy. He earned a Purple Heart, among other awards for his efforts, before leaving due to ongoing injuries. 

  1. Lyndon B. Johnson, 1941-1944

Serving one year of active duty, future president Lyndon B. Johnson joined the Navy as a lieutenant commander after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He then served as a commander of the Navy Reserve, before finishing his stint in 1964.

  1. Richard M. Nixon

Another Navy officer was Richard Nixon. He served in the South Pacific as an active duty officer, and then, as a commander in the Navy Reserve. He was released in 1966. 

  1. Gerald R. Ford, Jr. 

Gerald Ford joined the Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He served until 1946 in the Navy Reserve until 1946. During his time, he served in the Pacific Theater during WWII and the Athletic Department in the Navy’s pre-flight school in California. 

  1. Jimmy Carter, 1946-1953

Yet another Navy officer, Jimmy Carter joined the military during WWII. He worked on ships, underwater on a submarine, and helped create nuclear-powered vessels as a lieutenant. He resigned from his post in 1953. 

  1. Ronald Reagan , 1940-1945

Former President Ronald Reagan joined the Army as an officer during WWII, like many of his predecessors. Because of his eyesight, Reagan was not allowed to fight in combat. He was then assigned to the Army Air Corps First Motion Picture Unit where he helped make training videos and even appeared in some. Reagan left the Army as a captain. 

  1. George H.W. Bush, 1942-1944

The day he turned 18, George H.W. Bush joined the Navy. He was named their youngest pilot to-date, where he ended up going on 58 combat missions during WWII. His plane was hit with enemy fire, earning him an award at the rank of a lieutenant. 

  1. George W. Bush, 1968-1973

The son of George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush joined the Texas Air National Guard during Vietnam. He served five years, achieving the rank of first lieutenant. 

MIGHTY TRENDING

Bellingcat IDs second poisoning suspect as Russian agent

Investigative website Bellingcat has identified the second suspect in the nerve-agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Britain as a military doctor employed by Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency.

In September 2018, British prosecutors charged two Russians — Ruslan Boshirov and Aleksandr Petrov — with attempted murder for carrying out the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, with the Novichok nerve toxin in the southern English city in early 2018.

The prosecutors said at the time the two were undercover GRU officers.

Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the Skripals’ attempted murder.


“We have now identified ‘Aleksandr Petrov’ to be in fact Dr. Aleksandr Yevgenyevich Mishkin, a trained military doctor in the employ of the GRU,” the British-based group said in a report published on its website.

Bellingcat, a website that covers intelligence matters, had previously identified Boshirov on Sept. 26, 2018, as being decorated GRU Colonel Anatoly Chepiga.

“While Aleksandr Mishkin’s true persona has an even sparser digital footprint than Anatoly Chepiga’s, Bellingcat has been able to establish certain key facts from his background,” the Oct. 8, 2018 report said.

It said that Mishkin was born in 1979 in the Archangelsk region in Northern European Russia and was trained as a military doctor for the Russian naval armed forces at one of Russia’s elite military medical schools.

The time that African American troops battled American MPs in Britain during WWII

A CCTV image issued by London’s Metropolitan police showing Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov at Salisbury train station.

“During his medical studies, Mishkin was recruited by the GRU, and by 2010 had relocated to Moscow, where he received his undercover identity — including a second national ID and travel passport — under the alias Aleksandr Petrov,” the report said.

“Bellingcat’s identification process included multiple open sources, testimony from people familiar with the person, as well as copies of personally identifying documents, including a scanned copy of his passport,” the website said.

British police declined to make any specific comment in relation to Bellingcat’s latest report or the real names of those charged with poisoning the Skripals.

“We are not going to comment on speculation regarding their identities,” London’s police force said in a statement in response to a media query about the report.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the two men shown in British surveillance footage near Skripal’s home in Salisbury and identified by British authorities as Boshirov and Petrov were actually civilians on a tourist trip.

Skripal, a former GRU colonel, was convicted of treason in 2006 by a Russian court after being accused of spying for Britain. He relocated to Britain in a 2010 spy swap.

Putin on Oct. 3, 2018, said that Skripal was a “scumbag” who had betrayed his country.

The Skripals were found unconscious on March 4, 2018, on a bench in the southern English town of Salisbury. They were seriously ill but made a full recovery after spending several weeks in a hospital.

British officials said the two were poisoned with Novichok, a military-grade chemical weapon that was developed in the Soviet Union, and blamed Putin’s government for the attack.

In June 2018, a British citizen, Dawn Sturgess, died and her boyfriend, Charlie Rowley, fell ill when they stumbled across remnants of the poison in a town near Salisbury.

Britain on Sept. 5, 2018, announced charges against the two Russian men as police issued photographs of the suspects.

The men acknowledged they were in Salisbury at the time but claimed they were there as tourists.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

popular

That time Richard Nixon almost sparked an invasion of Venezuela

The Cold War was a worldwide war that often manifested in bizarre ways that aren’t fully understood, even today. In 1958, Richard Nixon was veep to Dwight Eisenhower’s Presidency and the Cold War was in full swing. Latin America was experiencing a tide of anti-American sentiment, and Nixon was sent to Venezuela on a goodwill tour to help stem that tide.

By the end of his trip, Ike almost had to send the Marines in to get him out.


The time that African American troops battled American MPs in Britain during WWII
Crowds begin to form around the Nixon motorcade. (Wikimedia Commons)

 

In truth, the U.S. government should have been prepared for what (at the time) was called the most violent attack ever perpetrated on a high American official while on foreign soil. The United States had just granted asylum to Venezuela’s recently overthrown dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez and awarded him the Legion of Merit. Nixon was on a goodwill tour of the entire continent and had already visited Uruguay and Ecuador, and it was well known that Nixon was on his way.

With the wounds of the departed Jimenez still fresh, anti-U.S. sentiment running high, and a long-planned visit from a high-ranking American official in the works, Nixon should have been ready for anything. Instead, he was largely “uninterested,” according to his biography. The VP and his wife arrived to an angry crowd of demonstrators who threw stones and spat at them. Instead of a planned visit and wreath laying at the Tomb of Simon Bolivar, the Nixons went right to the U.S. Embassy. It seems a crowd of Venezuelans had met the Vice-Presidential team at the tomb, attacked them, and destroyed the wreath anyway.

The time that African American troops battled American MPs in Britain during WWII
The car’s “shatterproof” glass. (Wikimedia Commons)

 

As their car made its way through the capital of Caracas, traffic began to build, slowing down Nixon’s motorcade. As the procession slowed, crowds of angry Venezuelans began to mob the vehicle, banging on the windows and shattering the glass. As they attempted to flip the car, the 12 Secret Service agents protecting the Veep drew their pistols and prepared to fire into the crowd. Nixon stopped them and ordered them to fire only on his order. According to Nixon, the Press Corps’ flatbed truck kicked into high gear and began to push through the crowd as protestors began to climb aboard. The truck cleared the way for Nixon’s car to escape to the Embassy.

When news of the incident reached Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Arleigh Burke, he immediately prepared “Operation Poor Richard,” an invasion of Venezuela using the 2nd Marine Division, the 101st Airborne, and the USS Tarawa Carrier Group, all coming from Guantanamo Bay. The Venezuelans weren’t going to have Dick Nixon to kick around.

The time that African American troops battled American MPs in Britain during WWII
Nixon Presidential Library and Museum

But despite a lack of protection from the Venezuelan military during the incident, they were omnipresent in the hours and days that followed. The streets had been cleared with tear gas, and infantry and armor units protected Nixon’s motorcade as it went to the airport the next day. The invasion of Venezuela would never have to materialize.

Nixon never forgot the events in Caracas that day, as the violence of the crowd would certainly have led to the death of almost everyone involved. His experience later helped form his foreign policy decisions regarding South America during his Presidency.


Feature image: Wikimedia Commons

Articles

How World War I soldiers celebrated the Armistice

Veterans Day falls on Nov. 11 every year for a reason. That’s the anniversary of the 1918 signing and implementation of the armistice agreement that ended World War I.


Originally, the holiday celebrated just the sacrifices of those who served in The Great War, but the American version of the holiday grew to include a celebration of all veterans, and the name was changed from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

The time that African American troops battled American MPs in Britain during WWII
American soldiers with the 64th Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, celebrate the end of World War I. (Photo: U.S. National Archive)

But for troops in 1918, Armistice Day was a mixed bag. Some engaged in a boisterous, days-long party, but others couldn’t believe it was over and continued fighting out of shock and disbelief.

Most of the partying was done in the cities. In London — a city subjected to numerous German air raids during the war — the festivities broke out and spilled into the streets. On Nov. 12, 1918, the Guardian reported that Londoners and Allied soldiers heard the news just before 11 a.m.

Almost immediately, people began firing signal rockets. Church bells and Big Ben tolled for much of the day to celebrate the news. And some gun crews began firing their weapons to add to the noise.

The time that African American troops battled American MPs in Britain during WWII
Londoners celebrate the end of World War I on Nov. 11, 1918. (Photo: U.S. Army Signal Corps)

Parades marched down the street, and American soldiers waving the Stars and Stripes were cheered by the English citizens. The English waved their flags and stuffed themselves into cars and taxis to drive around and celebrate. One car built for four passengers was packed with 27, counting multiple people clinging to the roof.

The city filled with marchers, many waving brand new Union Jack flags. Drinking was mostly limited to the hotels and restaurants, but the crowds pushed their way to 10 Downing Street and yelled for speeches from the Prime Minister.

At Buckingham Palace, chanting throngs of people demanded to see the king. George V appeared on the balcony with Queen Victoria and Princess Mary.

The time that African American troops battled American MPs in Britain during WWII
Crowds outside Buckingham Palace in London after the cessation of hostilities in World War I. (Photo: U.S. Army Signal Corps)

But on the front lines, American and Allied soldiers were much less exuberant. While some units, such as the 64th Infantry Regiment featured in the top photo, began celebrating that very day. Others, like the artillerymen near U.S. Army Col. Thomas Gowenlock, just kept fighting.

The radio call announcing the surrender went out at approximately 6 a.m. on Nov. 11. Gowenlock drove from the 1st Division headquarters to the front to see the war end at 11 a.m. when the armistice went into effect.

I drove over to the bank of the Meuse River to see the finish. The shelling was heavy and, as I walked down the road, it grew steadily worse. It seemed to me that every battery in the world was trying to burn up its guns. At last eleven o’clock came — but the firing continued. The men on both sides had decided to give each other all they had — their farewell to arms. It was a very natural impulse after their years of war, but unfortunately many fell after eleven o’clock that day.

The fighting continued for most of the day, only ending as night fell. Around warming fires, the soldiers tried to grapple with peace.

As night came, the quietness, unearthly in its penetration, began to eat into their souls. The men sat around log fires, the first they had ever had at the front. They were trying to reassure themselves that there were no enemy batteries spying on them from the next hill and no German bombing planes approaching to blast them out of existence. They talked in low tones. They were nervous.

Australian Col. Percy Dobson noted the same shocked reaction among his troops in France on Nov. 11.

It was hard to believe the war was over. Everything was just the same, tired troops everywhere and cold drizzly winter weather- just the same as if the war were still on.
MIGHTY TACTICAL

The Coast Guard could have the Navy’s new frigates

For a long time, the Coast Guard has used Navy hand-me-downs. After World War II, many old Navy ships were pressed into Coast Guard service when they were no longer needed for defeating the Axis. Even today, the Coast Guard operates a U.S. Navy castoff in USCGC Alex Haley, a former Navy salvage tug. But now, the tides have turned, and the Coast Guard may actually be bailing the Navy out.


How so? The National Security Cutter is one of five contenders in the Navy’s FFG(X) program to find a new, multi-mission guided-missile frigates in the wake of the littoral combat ship’s poor performance. Other contenders include a Lockheed designed based on the Freedom-class littoral combat ship and foreign designs — one from Spain (the Álvaro de Bazán-class guided missile frigate) and a Franco-Italian consortium (the FREMM).

The time that African American troops battled American MPs in Britain during WWII

The Huntington Ingalls proposal for the FFG(X) program is based on the Bertholf-class national security cutters.

(Department of Homeland Security)

The National Security Cutter hull is currently in production. Right now, the Coast Guard is in the process of building their 10th out of 11 planned vessels.

Also called the Legend-class cutter, this ship is armed with a 57mm gun, about a half-dozen .50-caliber machine guns, and the ability to operate a helicopter, usually a MH-60T Jayhawk. The model displayed last year at SeaAirSpace 2017, the FF4923, also included a 16-cell Mk41 vertical-launch system and eight over-the-horizon anti-ship missiles. This ship already meets several of the requirements as laid out by the Navy’s FFG(X) program, making it a great launch point.

The time that African American troops battled American MPs in Britain during WWII

Three Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates: USS Oliver Hazard Perry (FFG 7), USS Antrim (FFG 20), and USS Jack Williams (FFG 24).

(US Navy)

According to spec sheets, the National Security Cutter has a top speed of 28 knots. This is slower than some of the other ships out in contention, notably the Freedom-class LCS and the Bazán-class frigates, but it can out-sprint the FREMM. The good news is that the National Security Cutter is large enough (at 4,500 tons — about 50 percent larger than a Perry-class frigate) to handle the new systems.

The Navy is planning to announce the winning design in 2020. Plans call for at least 20 guided-missile frigates to be purchased over a decade’s time.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Why this schoolteacher grew a beard for a decade

On May 2, 2011, a Seattle-based school teacher shaved his face for the first time in a decade. It was one of those beard-growing events you hear about athletes doing or when people grow facial hair for a good cause. But the only thing special about Gary Weddle’s beard was when he started growing it, and the day he cut it, which all began on Sept. 11, 2001.


The time that African American troops battled American MPs in Britain during WWII

The 9/11 attacks were the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil – and the whole country watched.

Gary Weddle was a 40-year-old middle school science teacher during the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington. Though the teacher, based in Ephrata, Wash., was far from the tragic devastation of the attacks, he was still devastated by the loss of life and the destruction of some of America’s most iconic structures. He told the Seattle Times that he couldn’t eat, shower, or shave in the days that followed. So to work through his grief, he vowed that he wouldn’t – shave that is – until the architect of the attacks was killed or captured.

The day he got to shave his beard came nearly a full ten years later, on May 1, 2011, when President Obama announced to the world that U.S. intelligence had found his hiding place in Pakistan and that U.S. Navy SEALs attacked it and killed the terrorist mastermind in a daring nighttime raid.

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President Obama announced that U.S. Special Operators killed Osama bin Laden on May 1, 2011.

After nearly ten years of nothing about Bin Laden, Weddle thought he might be buried with the beard. And he hated it. The facial hair only served as a reminder of the destruction of that day, and the justice left unserved to the man who planned the whole thing. So when he heard about the SEAL Team Six raid on Bin Laden’s hideout, he went straight for a pair of scissors.

The then-50-year-old had begun to look homeless in his long beard. Some even remarked that the graying beard resembled the one sported by Osama bin Laden himself. But after 3,454 days with the beard, having taught some 2,000 students, it took Gary Weddle 40 minutes to emerge from the bathroom clean-shaven. The students he currently taught at Ephrata Middle School were only two years old during the 9/11 attacks, and no one who worked with Weddle ever knew him without the beard.

When he walked into work the next day with his new look, few recognized him – and those who did say he looked ten years younger.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Watch WW2 vet finally receive her service medal — during quarantine

In possibly the most polite and delightful medal ceremony of all time, World War II veteran Edna Wells, 94, was surprised with her long overdue service medal — and a few extra celebrants.

Edna, a member of the Women’s Royal Naval Service, was eighteen years old when she became a “Wren” — the popular term for those who served in the WRNS.

“It was great. I was just so happy to be doing my time for my country,” Edna shared of her military service.

When the war was over, Edna didn’t know that service members had to ask for their commendation medals, but thanks to her granddaughter Sharron and Joanna Lumley of the BBC, Edna finally received the gratitude she deserved.

Watch the video — and trust me, you’re going to want the sound on for her lovely Scottish lilt alone!


World War Two veteran Edna never claimed her service medal – until now?️ | VE Day 75 – BBC

www.youtube.com

When asked what it was like to serve with “all those sailor boys” Edna joked, “Well, I had a few! And a lad in every port!”

Edna’s ceremony coincided with the 75th anniversary of VE Day, or Victory in Europe Day, when the Allies gained victory over the Axis powers in the European Theater of World War II. Lumley asked Edna what she remembered of May 8, 1945.

“It was one party after another. Nobody did anything that day. It was just abuzz. We didn’t believe it to begin with — we went to the officers and they said, ‘Yes it’s true. The war is over,'” Edna recalled.

Lumley then hinted that Edna would be receiving her overdue medal sooner than she’d expected and invited the veteran to go outside. Waiting for her, from a respectful and safe distance, was Captain Chris Smith, regional Navy commander for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Smith presented Edna with her medal, placing it before her so that Sharron could pick it up and wipe it clean before hanging it from her grandmother’s collar.

Edna returned Smith’s salute with one as sharp as ever while neighbors banged pots and pans and cheered her on.


MIGHTY TRENDING

Coast Guard about to miss first paycheck, but getting it done

A surprise maneuver at the end of December 2018 ensured Coast Guardsmen got their final paychecks of 2018, despite the government shutdown that began on Dec. 22, 2018.

But the shutdown has dragged on, and the income for some 50,000 personnel, including 42,000 deemed essential personnel and required to work during the shutdown, remains in doubt as the first payday of 2019 approaches.


Salaries for the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps are covered by the Defense Department, which got its full funding the for the fiscal year in the fall of 2018. But while the Coast Guard is a military branch, it is part of the Department of Homeland Security, funding for which had not been approved by the time the shutdown began.

Coast Guard operations have continued, however.

The time that African American troops battled American MPs in Britain during WWII

Coast Guard personnel prepare a sling that will hoist a 12,000-pound beached buoy, near Chatham, Massachusetts, May 9, 2017.

(US Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Barresi)

On Dec. 23, 2018, Coast Guard crews on training exercises in Hawaii were diverted twice, first to medevac a snorkeler who was having a medical emergency and then to rescue passengers from a capsized vessel. In January 2019, Coast Guard crews in the Pacific have been involved in searches for crew members from two different vessels.

Officials said on Dec. 28, 2018, that the Homeland Security Department had found a way to supply about million needed to cover pay for the Dec. 31, 2018 pay period, but they said they would be unable to repeat it for the Jan. 15, 2019 payday.

There is some money within the Homeland Security Department that has moved around to keep things going, but some activities, like issuing licenses, has been curtailed. Funding for other services, like child-care subsidies, is also running out, further complicating life for service members and their families.

During the first week of January 2019, the Pay Our Coast Guard Act was introduced to the Senate by Republican Sen. John Thune, cosponsored by Republican Sens. Roger Wicker, Susan Collins, Cindy Hyde Smith, and Democratic Sens. Marla Cantwell, Richard Blumenthal, Doug Jones, and Brian Schatz.

The time that African American troops battled American MPs in Britain during WWII

A family poses with Jane Coastie at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York City, May 29, 2017.

(US Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Himes)

The bill would pay active, retired, and civilian Coast Guard personnel despite the shutdown. It would also fund benefits for retired members, death gratuities, and other payouts.

Thune’s measure was first introduced in 2015 but died after being referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee. After a grassroots effort generated 141,015 letters to congress members asking for its reintroduced, the bill was resubmitted on Jan. 3, 2019, the first day of the 116th Congress.

“All we know so far, is that if this isn’t resolved by the 10th they will not get paid on the 15th,” Coast Guard spouse Stephanie Lisle told ConnectingVets.com. “Hopefully the bill gets passed.”

The bill garnered support from more than a dozen veterans groups, but it would also have to pass the House of Representatives, which is now controlled by Democrats, and be signed by President Donald Trump.

Early January 2019 Trump said he was prepared to keep the government shut down for “months or even years” after he and Democratic leaders again failed to resolve his demand for billions in funding for a border wall.

“We won’t be opening until it’s solved,” Trump said on Jan. 4, 2019. “I don’t call it a shutdown. I call it doing what you have to do for the benefit and the safety of our country.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY GAMING

6 video games that are surprisingly popular with service members

Video games are extremely popular in the military community. It’s a favorite pastime and even troops who grew up playing outside will take part at some point. But what might surprise you is that it’s not just the nerds among us who’ve made videos games less of a time-killer and more of a hobby.


The military brings people from all different backgrounds together under the same roof — nerds and jocks alike. In fact, in the past two decades, a countless number of young hopefuls have showed up at the recruiter’s office looking to live out fantasies they’ve had while playing games.

Sure, not all of them make it and, yes, the harsh reality of military life sets in and you’ll quickly realize it’s not anywhere close to your favorite video game, but those who make it hold on tightly to their hobby. You just might be surprised at what types of games are popular among troops.

The time that African American troops battled American MPs in Britain during WWII

There was a movie that came out recently based on the original game. You should probably just stick to the games, though…

(Universal Pictures)

‘Warcraft’

The predecessor to the insanely popular massively multiplayer online role playing game, Warcraft is a real-time strategy series set in a grim fantasy world. If anyone from any walk of life brings this game up in conversation, they are most definitely a nerd — but by that barometer, there are a lot of nerds in the military.

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Service members often feel the need for speed after a long week.

(Nintendo)

Any Mario game

Mario Kart, Mario Party, and Super Smash Brothers are all great games to play in the barracks on the weekend. These bring people together, just like a split-screen game of Call of Duty, but you’d never expect to see the bright colors and cartoony characters of a Nintendo title glowing on the faces of hardened war fighters.

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You’ll still find an amazing following within the military, though.

(Sony Interactive Entertainment)

‘God of War’

Judging by the title alone, you’d think this series was a smash hit among service members, but it’s not wildly popular. Here’s why: You might get the opportunity to kill a bunch of gods in a bloody frenzy, but most games in the series follow a linear storyline. Troops generally aren’t interested until it comes time to fight.

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This game takes quite a bit of skill, actually.

(Naughty Dog)

‘The Last of Us’

Of course a zombie shooter made it onto this list, but the best part of The Last of Us isn’t its gunplay, it’s the engaging and tragic story. Anyone can pickup Call of Duty and get their fill of zombie killing, but it takes a true dork to buy a game for the zombies and stay for the story.

The time that African American troops battled American MPs in Britain during WWII

Nerds love fighting giant monsters!

(Bioware)

‘Dragon Age’

One of the greatest game series to ever be developed, Dragon Age is a fantasy RPG that offers great story that evolves based on player choices. Much like the Witcher series (see below), you wouldn’t expect this to come up in conversation, but if you bring it up in the barracks, you’ll turn a few heads.

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Seriously, though.

(CD Projekt Red)

‘The Witcher’

A role-playing fantasy game based on the novels of the same name by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, this series is renowned for its engaging story and open-ended choices. This game requires patience, preparation, and a good amount of reading — and it’s still popular among service members. It’s just that good.

MIGHTY TRENDING

This classic-rock legend is also a top missile-defense expert

Jeff “Skunk” Baxter has earned eight platinum records in a music career that started in the 1960s, and he has received numerous security clearances and contracting jobs since the 1980s as a self-taught expert on missile-defense and counterterrorism.

Baxter was one of many luminaries at the White House on Oct. 11, 2018, to watch President Donald Trump sign the Music Modernization Act, which reforms copyright laws.

Unlike every other musician in the room, including Kid Rock, Baxter has built a successful second career as a defense consultant.


Baxter dropped out of college in Boston in 1969 to join a short-lived psychedelic-rock band. After that, he moved to California and become one of the original six members of Steely Dan, which he left in 1974 to join the Doobie Brothers, which he left in 1979.

Baxter has said he “fell into his second profession almost by accident.”

While living in California in the 1970s, Baxter helped a neighbor dig out their house after a mudslide.

“Afterward, he invited me into his study and I saw all these pictures of airplanes and missiles on the wall — it turned out he was one of the guys who had invented the Sidewinder missile,” Baxter said in a 2013 interview. “As a gift for helping him clean out his house he gave me a subscription to Aviation Week and to Jane’s Defense. It was amazing.”

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Jeff “Skunk” Baxter.

(InnoTown Conference / Youtube)

Baxter found the technical aspects of music and of defense, particularly missile defense, coincided.

“Technology is really neutral. It’s just a question of application,” he told MTV in 2001. “For instance, if TRW came up with a new data compression algorithms for their spy satellites, I could use that same information and apply it for a musical instrument or a hard disc recording unit. So it was just a natural progression.”

He immersed himself in technical journals and defense publications during the 1980s.

“The good news is that I live in America and am something of a, I guess the term is an “autodidact,” he said in 2013, when asked about his formal education. “There’s so much information available. The opportunity for self-education in this country is enormous.”

The big shift came in 1994.

Inspired by a friend’s work on an op-ed about NATO, Baxter sat down and punched out a five-page paper on the Aegis ship-based antiaircraft missile system, arguing it could be converted to a missile-defense system.

“One day, I don’t know what happened. I sat down at my Tandy 200 and wrote this paper about how to convert the Aegis weapon system,” he said in a 2016 speech. “I have no idea. I just did it.”

Baxter, who had recently retired as a reserve police officer in Los Angeles, was already in touch with California Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher as an adviser. Baxter gave his paper to Rohrabacher.

“Skunk really blew my mind with that report,” Rohrabacher told The Wall Street Journal in 2005. “He was talking over my head half the time, and the fact that he was a rock star who had basically learned it all on his own was mind-boggling.”

Rohrabacher gave the paper to Pennsylvania Rep. Curt Weldon, a Republican and member of the House Armed Services Committee, who asked, “Is this guy from Raytheon or Boeing?” according to Baxter.

Rohrabacher replied, “No, he’s a guitar player for the Doobie Brothers.”

Like Rohrabacher, Weldon was struck by Baxter’s prowess. In 1995, he nominated Baxter to chair the Civilian Advisory Board for Ballistic Missile Defense, a congressional panel.

The time that African American troops battled American MPs in Britain during WWII

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper, equipped with the Aegis integrated weapons system, launches a missile during an exercise in the Pacific Ocean, July 30, 2009.

(Department of Defense Photo)

“The next thing I knew, I was up to my teeth in national security, mostly in missile defense, but because the pointy end of the missile sometimes is not just nuclear, but chemical, biological or volumetric, I got involved in the terrorism side of things,” Baxter told MTV in 2001.

The appointment to the panel “sort of opened up a door for me to end up working in the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO), which then morphed into the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO), which then morphed into the Missile Defense Agency (MDA),” Baxter said in 2013.

He’s also worked with the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and contractors like Northrup Grumman.

“We did some pretty cool stuff,” Baxter said in 2016 of his work on SDI, which President Ronald Reagan first proposed in 1983. “Reagan’s plan was a bit much. It was a plan to drive the Russians nuts, and it worked. They believed what we were doing was real and spent lots of money trying to counter it.”

He was also a hit at the Pentagon.

“Some of these people who are generals now were listening to my music when they were lieutenant colonels or lieutenant commanders, so there was a bond there,” Baxter said in 2001. “But what they realized is that they’re looking for people who think out of the box, who approach a problem with a very different point of view because we’re talking about asymmetrical warfare here.”

Military leaders brought him in to consult, regularly asking him to play the role of the enemy during war games.

“I’m told I make a very good bad guy,” Baxter said in 2005. People who worked with him also told The Journal he could be a self-promoter.

Baxter has kept up his musical work. He became a sought-after session guitarist, working with acts like Dolly Parton, Rod Stewart, and Eric Clapton.

In 2004 he flew 230,000 miles to reach all his gigs. That year he also made more money from his defense work than from music.

For his part, Baxter has pointed to his creativity as his biggest asset.

“We thought turntables were for playing records until rappers began to use them as instruments, and we thought airplanes were for carrying passengers until terrorists realized they could be used as missiles,” he said in 2005.

“My big thing is to look at existing technologies and try to see other ways they can be used, which happens in music all the time and happens to be what terrorists are incredibly good at.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

How Armistice Day became Veterans Day

Growing up, learning about World War I usually involved learning about three things: trench foot, poison gas, and bloody stalemate. Right before the history teacher moves on to World War II, we learn the old mnemonic device — on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, ‘The War to End All Wars’ ended with an armistice.


Then, there was one kickass, worldwide party.

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And then…u00a0the sequel.

Obviously, glossing over one of the deadliest, most expensive, and most avoidable wars in American history does the Doughboys of the American Expeditionary Force an injustice. We need to remember that World War I was more than just a prelude to World War II. The horrors of WWI led to the annual recognition of those the who had to fight it. The day The Great War ended came to be remembered thereafter as Armistice Day.

But, when the 11th day of the 11 month rolls around, we all celebrate Veterans Day. What happened?

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This is what Armistice Day 1938 looked like in Omaha, Nebraska.

The first public celebration of Armistice Day came in November, 1920. Much like how we celebrate Veterans Day today, the occasion was marked by speeches, parades, and exchange of drinks and stories between veterans of the war. The exception came when that 11th hour rolled around. For a moment, there was a pause in all activities across the country.

In that moment, mere years ago, millions of armed men stopped butchering each other over control of several yards of No Man’s Land.

In 1926, Congress made Armistice Day official, resolving that the “recurring anniversary of November 11, 1918, should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace between nations.” In 1938, Armistice Day became a Federal Holiday.

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Literally.

As we all know, the “War to End All Wars” didn’t actually end all wars — or any wars. It actually led very directly to the next war, World War II. Which led to the next war, the Korean War, which was part of a greater war, the Cold War. You get the point. By the time the Korean War ended, there was a whole new generation of war veterans who felt deserving of recognition for a job well done.

Veterans of those war lobbied Congress to change Armistice Day to Veterans Day in 1954, in order to honor veterans of every war. Congress agreed and President Eisenhower signed on to it, too.

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Gerald Ford, the voice of reason.

In 1968, Congress acted again. This time, they wanted to give federal employees a couple of three-day weekends throughout the year, so they changed the dates of some major holidays to fall on certain Mondays. Columbus Day, Memorial Day, and Washington’s Birthday were all given Mondays. And Veterans Day was moved from the historic date of November 11 to “the fourth Monday in October.”

The states rightly thought that was a stupid idea and refused to recognize the movement of Veterans Day until President Ford changed it back in 1975.

Veterans Day is currently celebrated nationally on November 11, as it has been for decades. When the day was originally changed to Veterans Day in 1954, it was just in time for then-104-year old Albert Woolson, the last surviving veteran of the Civil War, to celebrate it. With him were two veterans of the Plains Wars, veterans of the Spanish-American War, and vets from the Philippines War.

States, local municipalities, and other governments have declared their own Veterans Days, some dating as far back as the end of World War II, recognizing the courage and sacrifices of every U.S. citizen who answered the country’s call to arms.

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