Wednesday, June 30, 2021

A bird-brained way to help win a war?


I was amused to read a recent report about Operation Columba (sometimes called Source Columba) in World War II a few weeks ago.  I hadn't realized it was still of interest, because it fell out of the public imagination decades ago, but it's nice to see some people still think it's worth remembering.

According to Wikipedia, which is the most concise source I can find:

It involved air-dropping homing pigeons behind enemy lines in German-occupied France and the Netherlands as a means for locals to convey information, such as troop movements, to British intelligence. From 1940 onwards, hundreds of pigeon cases were parachuted into Europe, each case including – apart from the pigeon – sheets of very thin paper, a special pencil and a tube for storing the message, as well as French and Dutch instructions on how to fill in a report. A recent copy of a London newspaper was also included as proof of good faith.

In 1944, prior to the imminent Allied invasion, German counterintelligence sought to counteract (or co-opt) Source Columba by dropping pigeons of their own. These pigeon cases, accompanied by a packet of English cigarettes, were purporting to be British also and carried instructions to communicate the names of the local patriots to the Allies. The RĂ©sistance, for its part, let it be known that the best way to deal with these false birds would be to smoke the cigarettes and eat the pigeons.

Despite such interference, the operation was reported to have been remarkably successful, yielding useful intelligence in over fifty percent of the received messages ... the method and a few actual cases were described in some detail in Dr R.V. Jones' autobiographical book Most Secret War in 1978.

(If you don't know much about the technological side of World War II, Dr. Jones' book is an absolute must-read.  He pioneered so many inventions, developments and counter-measures that he's one of the few individuals of whom it can truly be said that the war might have been lost without him.  He arguably had as much personal impact on the war with Germany as the entire Manhattan Project had on the war with Japan.  He was a remarkable man.)

It just goes to show what thinking outside the box can do.  Who would have thought that bomber crews, dropping homing pigeons out of their aircraft as they flew over occupied Europe, could be the source of a great deal of valuable intelligence?  The pigeons brought back some absolute masterpieces of intelligence, including the locations of three fighter direction complexes used by the Germans to intercept the very bomber aircraft that were dropping the pigeons.  (The complexes were eliminated by accurate bombing soon afterwards - pigeon droppings, perhaps?)

The subject is of personal interest to me because my father served in the Royal Air Force before and during World War II, and told me about the "pigeon war".  He said they were very uncooperative about being evicted from the planes, and frequently signified their displeasure by squirting droppings all over the interior (and the person handling them) before they were ejected!  Hard to blame them, really . . .


"When what is bought and sold is decided by the legislator, the first thing that is bought and sold are the legislators"


That's the title of a recent post over at Divemedic's place.

Sumter County Florida contains a large community called “The Villages.” The entire community is being built by a family owned company. They are planning to build 60,000 homes in the next 20 years. The cost for the infrastructure needed for this community is being left to the taxpayers of the county.

To cover these expenses, Sumter county passed a 25% increase in property taxes in 2019. The Villages managed this by getting several of their employees elected to the county commission. The developer claims that they are paying their share by building parks and golf courses- “amenities.” What they fail to say is that the amenities are only permitted to the people who live in the Villages and pay amenities fees. The fire stations, deputies, road maintenance, and other required public infrastructure is left to the tax payer.

If a developer builds a house in The Villages, or any other retirement community in Sumter County, the impact fee to help pay for roads is $972. If a developer builds the exact same house outside The Villages, the impact fee nearly triples to $2,666. That deal is thanks to the three commissioners that were on the board until the last election.

Voters were incensed, and replaced three of them in the 2020 election. The new commissioners passed a bill to roll back the tax, and make impact fees the same throughout the county.

That was defeated when the state of Florida passed a law limiting impact fees. The Representative who sponsored the impact fee limit? He is an employee of The Villages with a $350K a year salary. The number one contributor to his election campaign? His employer, the Holding Company of the Villages, Inc.

There's more at the link.

The trouble is, this is just a microcosm of the institutionalized corruption in Washington D.C. on the federal level, and in every state capital on the regional level.  American democracy has far too often devolved into a swamp, where corporate and organized special interests dominate proceedings, and where they ensure that the legislation they want, in their interests, is passed irrespective of whether it's a good thing for everybody else.

How can we clean up Washington D.C. when we can't even rouse enough indignation to clean out the Augean stables of local and regional politics?  Is that what those who stole last November's election are counting on, to let them get away with their crimes?

Perhaps the late, great H. L. Mencken was right in his pithy comments about government and democracy.

  • Democracy is only a dream: it should be put in the same category as Arcadia, Santa Claus, and Heaven.
  • Government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction in stolen goods.
  • Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.
  • A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.
  • Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.
  • It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.

I imagine many of us can agree with Mr. Mencken's sentiments.


Lightweight night vision for everyone?


Effective night vision technology, cheap enough to be widely adopted, has long been a Holy Grail for many sectors of the economy.  The military has always been at the forefront of demand, of course, but it would be a boon to many other areas too, such as:

  • Security - police and security guards would be able to see better, homeowners could observe the surroundings of their residence, and those walking in dark areas would be able to see lurking individuals who might be dangerous.
  • Travel - drivers would be better able to see what's coming, and to identify obstacles (or moving objects like animals that might become obstacles).
  • Disaster relief - emergency workers could toil in near-darkness and still be able to tell what they're touching or moving.
We keep hearing about promising new technology for that purpose, but it never seems to arrive.  It's very frustrating.  How many remember this report from 2010?

A University of Florida engineering researcher has crafted a nickel-sized imaging device that uses organic light-emitting diode technology similar to that found in cell phone or laptop screens for night vision. But unlike night vision goggles, which are heavy and expensive, the device is paper-thin, light and inexpensive, making it a possible add-on to cell phone cameras, even eyeglasses, once it is enlarged.

. . .

Conventional night vision goggles or scopes weigh 1 to 2 pounds, with price tags ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Sized for cell phones, So said, his imaging devices weigh just a couple of ounces and would be inexpensive to manufacture because factories could use the same equipment used today to make laptop screens or flat-screen televisions.

So said other applications could include night vision technology for car windshields, or even for standard glasses to use at night.

There's more at the link.

I remember reading that back in 2010 and getting very excited about it.  The thought of an entire car windscreen as a night vision device was amazing.  One might be able to see deer crossing dozens, or scores, or even hundreds of yards away, giving one time to avoid an accident like the one I had last November.

Trouble is, after those initial reports, that 2010 development seems to have vanished into obscurity.  I've never heard anything more about it.  However, yesterday I came across this report from Australia, which sounds very similar.

Researchers from The Australian National University (ANU) have developed new technology that allows people to see clearly in the dark, revolutionising night-vision.

The first-of-its-kind thin film ... is ultra-compact and one day could work on standard glasses.

. . .

"We've made a very thin film, consisting of nanometre-scale crystals, hundreds of times thinner than a human hair, that can be directly applied to glasses and acts as a filter, allowing you to see in the darkness of the night."

The technology is extremely lightweight, cheap and easy to mass produce, making them accessible to everyday users.

Again, more at the link.

That does sound very useful . . . but it also sounds almost identical to what the University of Florida announced eleven years ago.  Are they similar technologies?  If so, will the Australian development be successfully commercialized, or disappear into obscurity as well?  Why?  Why not?  I have lots of questions, but there don't appear to be any publicly available answers.

Can any reader with greater knowledge of the field tell us why these inventions or developments have not been more widely adopted in the commercial world?  There must be a reason or reasons, ranging from being too far in advance of current technology to be manufactured economically, to security reasons for not making night vision more widely available, to just plain incompetence - but we don't know.  Can anyone enlighten us, please?

While we're at it, is there any affordable, effective night vision technology that can help most people keep an eye on their surroundings at night?  The primary emphasis is on affordable.  I know there are some cameras that claim to offer night vision, but many of them require that one shine an infrared light on the area being surveyed.  That can be too easily detected by other night vision gear - it's like a great big flashing light on one's head saying, "Here I am!"  A passive solution, such as light enhancement or thermal sensing (or a combination of the two) is far more secure, but I don't know that it's affordable.  The same applies to night sights on weapons.  Come on, knowledgeable readers, help us out with a comment!


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Inflation is being caused by deliberate government policy


We've talked a lot about inflation over recent months, probably so much that some readers are sick of the subject.  Sadly, inflation is going to hit them hard whether they're sick of it or not.  It's getting worse by the day.

Sundance, writing at the Conservative Treehouse, has an excellent analysis of why US government policy has changed, leading to much higher inflation and overturning policies that might have kept it under control.  He points out that it's deliberate policy decisions, rather than purely economic factors, that have caused the sudden escalation in inflation.

It's a long, detailed article, but easy to read and understand, and I highly recommend that you do so in full.  To whet your appetite, here are some excerpts.

The massive inflation is a direct result of the multinational agenda of the Biden administration; it’s a feature not a flaw, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with COVID. Also keep in mind the first group to admit what is to come are banks, specifically Bank of America, because the monetary policy is the cause.

There’s no way around this.  Despite the pundit and financial class selling a counter-narrative, home prices will crash and unemployment will go up ... There’s no way for it not to happen, the big picture tells us why.

. . .

Trump’s massive, and in some instances targeted, import tariffs against China, SE Asia, Canada and the EU not only did not increase prices, the prices of the goods in the U.S. actually dropped.  Trump’s policies led the largest deflation in consumer prices in decades ... The net result was more disposable income for the middle class, more demand for stuff, and ultimately that’s why the U.S. economy was so strong.

To retain their position China and the EU responded to U.S. tariffs by devaluing their currency as an offset to higher prices.  It started with China because their economy is so dependent on exports to the U.S. ... When China (total communist control over their banking system) devalued their currency to avoid Tariff price increase, it had an unusual effect.  The cost of all Chinese imports dropped, not just on the tariff goods.  Imported stuff from China dropped in price at the same time the U.S. dollar was strong.  This meant it took less dollars to import the same amount of Chinese goods; and those goods were at a lower price.  As a result we were importing deflation ... the exact opposite of what the financial pundits claimed would happen.

In response to a lessening of overall economic activity, the EU then followed the same approach as China ... In the middle of this there was a downside for U.S. exporters.  With China and the EU devaluing their currency the value of the dollar increased.  This made purchases from the U.S. more expensive.

. . .

REVERSE THIS… and you now understand where we are with inflation.   The Joebama economic policies are exactly the reverse.  The monetary policy that pumps money into into the U.S. economy via COVID bailouts and federal spending drops the value of the dollar and makes the dependency state worse.

With the FED pumping money into the U.S. system the dollar value plummets.  At the same time JoeBama dropped tariff enforcement to please the Wall Street multinational corporations and banks that funded his campaign.  Now the value of the Chinese and EU currency increases.  This means it costs more to import products and that is the primary driver of price increases in consumer goods.

Simultaneously a lower dollar means cheaper exports for the multinationals (Big AG and raw materials).  China, SE Asia and even the EU purchase U.S. raw materials at a lower price.  That means less raw material in the U.S. which drives up prices for U.S. consumers.  It is a perfect storm…  Higher costs for imported goods and higher costs for domestic goods (food).  Combine this dynamic with massive increases in energy costs from ideological policy and that’s fuel on a fire of inflation.

There's more at the link.

The article is essential reading, IMHO, to understand why our economy is cratering right now, and who's to blame for it.  COVID-19 is just a convenient excuse, a fig-leaf, to hide the policy decisions that are really responsible for the mess we're in.  What's more, it's not just a Democrat or Biden administration problem.  Politicians on both sides of the aisle are in thrall to (and in the pockets of) Wall Street and Big Money, all of whom want to make more money at the expense of ordinary Americans like you and I.  Sundance's analysis makes that clear.

As Will Rogers reminded us:  "America has the best politicians money can buy."  Sure sounds like it, doesn't it?


When technology kills


There's a very sad report out of Canada, one that might have repercussions in America as well.  It's an analysis of what caused the crash of a Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone helicopter last year, killing everyone aboard.

As a pilot guided one of Canada's navy helicopters up into a tight turn, neither his training nor cockpit indicators warned of how a built-in autopilot would take control and plunge the Cyclone into the Ionian Sea, a military report has concluded.

All six Canadian Forces members on board died in the crash on April 29, 2020.

. . .

The report ... said testing wasn't done during the aircraft's certification to identify what would happen if a pilot overrode the autopilot more than "momentarily" and in certain complex situations.

"The automation principles and philosophy that governed the Cyclone's design never intended for the [autopilot] to be overridden for extended periods of time, and therefore this was never tested," it said.

This was the case even though — as the report stated — pilots are known on occasion to override the autopilot system without manually pressing a button on their control stick, called the cyclic.

. . .

That crash caused the worst single-day loss of life for the Canadian Armed Forces since six soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing in Afghanistan on July 4, 2007.

The report indicated the crash might have been averted if the pilot had manually chosen to turn off the autopilot during the turn. But it also stated that it wasn't unusual for pilots to override the autopilot and there were no explicit instructions in the manuals on the necessity to manually turn off the flight director.

In addition, the report said the pilot appeared unaware the computer would attempt to regain control near the end of the turn.

When the helicopter flipped around, the report said, the pilot pulled back as far as he could on the cyclic, attempting to right the aircraft that the computer was flying into the sea. Within seconds, the helicopter hit the ocean at massive force.

The board of inquiry said it found no evidence the flying pilot recognized he had lost control of the aircraft until it was too late.

Critical to the crash, the report said, was the aircraft's software, which was certified by the military. If the autopilot is overridden, the computer accumulates digital commands, referred to as "command bias accumulation." The more commands a pilot sends manually to the computer while the aircraft is coupled with the autopilot, the more this bias accumulation occurs, the report said.

After a pilot overrides the air speed set by the autopilot, a "feed forward look" occurs, the report said, adding that in some situations, "the pilot's ability to control the aircraft will be reduced or lost."

The board of inquiry said the pilots' training didn't cover "with sufficient detail" certain risks of flying the aircraft, leaving the flyers unaware the autopilot would seek to keep control of the helicopter.

There's more at the link.

Thing is, the Cyclone is a military (Canadian-specific) version of the Sikorsky S-92 helicopter, which is in widespread commercial use.  The S-92 also serves as the foundation for the VH-92 variant, under development to replace the VH-3D variant of the Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King, which has served all US presidents since 1976.  The President's helicopter uses the callsign Marine One when he's aboard.  I imagine there's a lot of urgent investigation going on right now in the VH-92 development team, to make sure that the President of the United States won't be killed by an automated flight system error . . .

It's reminiscent of the Airbus A320 automated flight control system, which in its earliest versions was alleged to inhibit the pilot from making emergency corrective maneuvers.  That was most famously on display in the crash of a brand-new A320 in 1988 while making a low pass.  It's been alleged that the automated flight controls shut the pilot out of the loop and flew the aircraft into the forest.

A similar problem is alleged to have caused two fatal crashes of the new Boeing 737 Max airliner, where the computer overrode pilot inputs and caused the aircraft to crash.  Automation is also a factor in the current certification program for the new Boeing 777-9 widebody airliner.  It appears that the aircraft's systems are still not satisfactory, according to the FAA, which says it "needs more information – including about a major software architecture called the 'Common Core System' (CCS) – before considering the 777-9 to be on track to certification."

Automation can be a pilot's worst enemy - particularly when he doesn't know it might cancel out his decisions!

May those who died in last year's crash rest in peace, and may their families receive what comfort they may.  One hopes that the lessons learned from this crash will make the other helicopters in the CH-148 fleet - and all other aircraft using high-automation, computerized flight control systems - that much safer.


Essential Texas bad weather gear - forget the umbrella, wear medieval plate armor!


Or, at least, wear a hard hat.  I was astonished to learn of a new record set in April near Hondo, Texas.

Thing is, that probably wasn't the largest hailstone to come out of that storm.  Accuweather reports:

Another hailstone the NOAA described as "gargantuan" was discovered the same day south of U.S. Highway 90 in Hondo, about half a mile from the location of the confirmed record-breaking hailstone. The individual who found the stone estimated the diameter to be 6-7 inches, meaning it could have potentially been bigger than the record-breaking stone that was confirmed.

Whether that stone off the highway was the true record-breaker or not will forever remain a mystery, as it was used to make margaritas before it was able to be officially measured.

There's more at the link.

I guess that's Texas for you.  "Hey, break out the booze!  We've got a world record hailstone, so let's make a world record margarita with it!"

I was wondering whether we were going to get another hailstorm yesterday afternoon and evening.  A hellacious low came through, with lots of rain and wind.  It was noisy enough that both our cats disappeared beneath furniture and refused to come out for several hours.  I tell you, living on the "dry line" as we do, the weather can get "interesting" enough - in the sense of the fabled Chinese curse - to make a believer out of you . . .


Monday, June 28, 2021

Concerning General Mark Milley and Critical Race Theory

Independent journalist Michael Yon has weighed in on the controversy surrounding Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, who has come out in support of so-called critical race theory.  It's perhaps worth noting that Mr. Yon is near-idolized by some sectors of US military opinion (particularly those actually doing the fighting rather than REMF's, fobbits and the like).

General Milley defends teaching Critical Race 'Theory' to military officers.

For folks who may have missed it, the quality of US military officers is plummeting. The Navy can hardly sail without crashing. One officer, at her trial for her involvement in crashing a fighting ship, broke down and cried. It's fallen that low. Crying is a defense.

While China grows. And Russia plots.

We watched the military become a logical career path for folks who want sex-change on demand at taxpayer expense. Where were the icons such as Mattis?

. . .

Many folks who do not know the difference between combat and infantry manage to think their opinions are equal to those who have spent years in combat, with infantry. These are the same folks, in my experience, who push Critical 'Racist' Theory.

The masses who push the new Naziism do so in the way that all herds stampede. Just cattle. But the ringleaders are bringing about destruction of the United States.

Godwin's Law is an illumination that nearly all heated arguments -- if they run course long enough -- will end up with accusations or evocations of Nazism. The vast majority of Nazi comparisons are wildly -- well, wrong.

But there is a meritorious 1%.

Critical Race Theory is [a] direct echo of Nazi ideas.

And not in a minor way.

Those who study information war, and have studied previous and current genocides, can see that caucasians are being set up for genocide in Europe and in North America. And Asian Americans next on the menu.

General Milley has become a useful tool. In a very powerful position. And he is not the only one.

Milley sucks up to the forces of American destruction. Just as many Jews did to their own destruction. None of this is new.

To be fair, I know people who know Milley well, and people who have served under Milley at various stages of his career. According to officers and NCOs I trust, there was a time when Milley was a good officer.

But today, Milley serves in the dark forces which undermine our country and our way of life. Milley sucks up to, and placates, those who wish to destroy him. Milley alienates his natural allies -- people like me -- who he works to destroy.

. . .

This man, by his own words and actions, is behaving as an enemy of freedom and all that our ancestors have fought for.

There's more at the link.

Strong words:  but I've heard them echoed a great deal over the past few days by current and former US military personnel whose judgment I trust and whose opinions I value.

Tucker Carlson had more to say about Gen. Milley and Critical Race Theory.  A video of his remarks is available here, plus a transcript if you prefer to read rather than listen.  Like Mr. Yon, Mr. Carlson appears to be highly regarded by fighting military men (as opposed to those who've fought as little as possible).  Here's an excerpt.

Mark Milley is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He didn’t get the job because he’s brilliant, or brave, or because the people who know him respect him. He isn’t and they definitely don’t. Milley got the job because he’s obsequious. He knows who to suck up to, and he’s happy to do it. Feed him a script and he’ll read it. Yesterday, the man in charge of the nation’s weapons, explaining that he’s working to understand a concept called "White rage:"

MILLEY: I do think it's important, actually, for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and be widely read. And it is important that we train and we understand. I want to understand White rage, and I'm white, I want to understand it. So what is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America? What caused that? I want to find that out, I want to maintain an open mind here and I do want to analyze it. It’s important that we understand that because our soldiers, airmen, sailors, marines come from the American people, so it is important that the leaders now and in the future do understand it.

It's hard to believe that man wears a uniform. He’s that unimpressive. Notice he never defined White rage, and we should know what it is. What is White rage? Well, ... it’s one of those diseases that only affect people with certain melanin levels. It’s a race-specific illness. That’s what Mark Milley has learned from reading about it. That’s why he’s making his soldiers read about it too. They need to know.

MILLEY: I’ve read Mao Zedong. I've read Karl Marx. I've read Lenin. That doesn't make me a communist. So what is wrong with understanding, having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend? And I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military, our general officers, our commissioned, our noncommissioned officers, of being "woke."

So Mark Milley reads Mao to understand Maoism, he reads communists to understand communism. But, interestingly, he doesn’t read white supremacists to understand white supremacy. Why not? Go to the source. He’d be fired for that instantly, and that’s the one thing he doesn’t want. So he reads about White rage as if it’s totally real. It’s a medical condition.

And by the way, if it’s a medical condition, at what age can you catch White rage? Most of us assumed our two-year-olds were just teething. Now we know it’s their whiteness that’s making them so angry. Thanks, Mark Milley. We appreciate your contribution to our generation’s scientific racism. By the way, have you read anything about winning wars recently? Apparently not.

Again, more at the link.

With leadership like Gen. Milley's, it's no wonder that West Point and other military institutions of learning appear to have gone 'woke' without anyone noticing until it was too late.  Remember the infamous Second Lieutenant Spenser Rapone?

All Rapone did was make blatant and public the sort of attitude that Gen. Milley is trying (unsuccessfully) to conceal behind a top brass fig-leaf.  Worse, the professors and teachers at West Point who indoctrinated, aided and abetted him are still there.  The place is 'woker' than ever, according to accounts I've heard.  Consider how they're treating cadets who've rejected COVID-19 vaccinations.

Food for thought.  I'm sure our actual and potential enemies and rivals are doing precisely that . . . and rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect.


Lessons to learn from the Afrikaner controversy


It's been an enlightening few weeks.

  • On June 15th, in response to a panegyric that was so over-the-top it was nauseating, I published an article titled "No, the Afrikaners were NOT 'The Heroic White Tribe of Africa' ".  To say that it attracted negative feedback is an understatement.  From the attacks launched in the comments beneath that article, you'd think I was assaulting truth, justice and the American way (if not motherhood and apple pie into the bargain).
  • In response to those attacks, I wrote a follow-up article a week later titled "Defending my thesis about South Africa and the Afrikaners".  Again, it was greeted by very negative comments, which you can read for yourself at the link.
  • Finally, to put the cherry on top, as it were, three days ago Instapundit linked to my first article.  The comments on Instapundit were almost uniformly vitriolic, to put it mildly.

I think there are several important lessons displayed by the reaction to my articles.  I'd like to lay them out here, in the hope that they may help some people think more clearly.  I daresay I won't convince most of my critics, because they made their mind up long ago.  Nevertheless, there are some people who still have an open mind on the subject;  so here goes.

First, note that the vast majority of negative comments did not address a single point I made.  I'd taken care to provide links to support my claims, and/or cited specifics that are very easy to check in the history books.  Nothing I said about historical fact was a lie;  everything could be confirmed - yet it was almost universally ignored by respondents.  Instead, they raised all sorts of different points, as if unwilling or unable to answer those I'd made.  I found that very revealing about their motivation.

There's an old saw in the legal profession.  It goes something like this:

  • If the facts are against you, argue the law.
  • If the law is against you, argue the facts.
  • If the facts and the law are against you, discredit the witness.

I submit that's exactly what many of those who attacked my views are doing.  They couldn't dispute the facts, so they criticized me as an apologist for blacks, or because I ignored what they saw as the reality of race relations, or whatever.  It's a classic case of "discredit the witness", or what in other circles would be termed "shooting the messenger".  It's also fundamentally dishonest in its refusal to face the facts.

Second, many of the respondents introduced untruths to support their criticisms.  I'm not saying that all of them were deliberately lying (although I'm sure some were), but many had clearly been at least indoctrinated or misinformed.  For example, one of the most frequent claims was that, as Afrikaners advanced into the interior of southern Africa, they found it empty, devoid of black tribes.  This is completely false.  It's a shibboleth put out by the Afrikaners decades ago, trying to justify their nonsensical claim that South Africa belonged to them as pioneers, not to Black tribes who were trying to stake their own claims.  (I addressed that point in the second article, pointing out that "If [the Afrikaners] were alone, who were they fighting?" - a reference to the many bloody conflicts in southern Africa between black and white during the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries.)

Third, the respondents almost uniformly made no distinction between the individual and the group.  To my mind, this is the most fatal flaw in the arguments of those who argue that this, or that, or the other race is deficient, or inferior, or flawed, compared to another.  To say that any race is more violent, brutish, uncivilized, etc. is untenable when one considers that the same race will almost certainly produce highly distinguished individuals who would be a credit to any group.  If all of them are "bad", how can some individuals be "good"?

Yes, Africa as a whole is pretty much a basket-case, as I've freely admitted in these pages.  Black tribal culture and everything that goes with it is one of the most important reasons why that's so.  Nevertheless, that reality can't be allowed to become an excuse for the inhuman way that Afrikaners and their sympathizers treated other races.  To coin a phrase, "two wrongs don't make one right".

Of course, if the majority of any given race or group or religion behave in a negative way, every member of such a group will be regarded by other groups with suspicion and dislike.  I spoke about that when considering the terror attacks in Paris in late 2015.  The comments made about Muslims in that article can be applied to any group that another perceives as a threat, irrespective of race.  In Northern Ireland, it's Catholics versus Protestants.  In Ukraine, it's Ukrainians versus Russians.  In Syria, it's fundamentalist Islamic terrorists versus the Assad regime.  The opposing sides hate, fear and demonize each other six ways from Sunday.  The Afrikaner-black South African conflict is no different.

I'd like to circle back to the argument I made earlier:  that most respondents didn't address the points I'd made, but rather argued about other points and issues that were/are more important or relevant to them.  I think this is critical in such a discussion.  If we allow that to happen, we aren't talking to each other, but past each other.  Even Adam Piggott, whose opinions I respect and who has replied to me in two articles on his blog, appears to have fallen into this trap to some extent.  I'd like to elaborate.

I never once spoke about tribes in general, or races in general, or culture in general.  I addressed the very specific acts of Afrikaners, and the policies that they implemented, as the reason why they were now facing opprobrium, violence and marginalization in South Africa.  Respondents have almost all avoided facing that reality.  Instead, they've argued that what's happening to the Afrikaner is because of a wider conflict that's occurring all over the world;  even that it represents what will happen if blacks as a group take over anywhere.  I did not address those issues at all, and I will not, because the subject I tackled was very specific, and should still be.

If respondents will not address the plain, simple, historical facts of what the Afrikaners did, and why those acts have led to their present situation, they are ignoring the point at issue.  It's very simple.  If the Afrikaners did not do those things, then I'm a liar, and I should (rightly) be pilloried as such.  Furthermore, the rationale for the current oppression of Afrikaners is undermined.  However, if the Afrikaners did do those things, then they are as guilty of human rights abuses - even atrocities - as the Serbs and Croats in former Yugoslavia, or the Soviets in Afghanistan, or the Chechens in the former Soviet Union, or . . . you get the idea.  If they're guilty, the way they're being treated now becomes much easier to understand.  It doesn't condone or excuse it, but it explains it.  It's not about broader race issues:  it's that "they sowed the wind, and now they reap the whirlwind".  Sadly, most commenters are largely refusing to acknowledge that, and bringing in other points - unrelated to the original article - to excuse or sympathize with the Afrikaner tribe as victims of discrimination.

I said in the first article in the series:

I've written at length about the evils of apartheid, and the immense damage it caused to South Africa over the years.  I summarized most of the issues in a 2013 article titled "Was apartheid South Africa really that bad?Yes, it was.  I cited my own experience, and that of others, and tried to show how things really were pretty darned evil under that policy.  I concluded by asking my American readers:

Finally, to people who try to make excuses for apartheid and the conduct of the then-South African government, I can only say:

  • If you were treated like a slave, a sub-human and a pariah in your own country;
  • If you were stripped of your citizenship and civil rights in the country of your birth because of the color of your skin;
  • If your education depended upon your skin color for its quality (or lack thereof);
  • If your choice of what to do with your life, or where to live, or who to love or marry, was restricted by your race;
  • If you were denied free travel inside your own country, forced to carry an internal passport and subject to instant arrest if you forgot it at home or lost it;
  • If you were forced to accept menial labor as the only work open to you, paid a starvation wage, and denied the right to bring your family to live with you near your place of work;
  • If you were savagely beaten and imprisoned if you dared to protest such restrictions and indignities, or even shot out of hand rather than arrested;

would you calmly accept those things?  Or would you take up arms to overthrow the system that placed such restrictions upon you?

I know what my answer would have been, in my younger years.  It would have been the same as Nelson Mandela's in the 1960's.

I'd like to appeal to those respondents who have not yet done so, to read that earlier article in full.  If someone had treated you that way, how would you respond?  I'd like an honest answer.  Sadly, most respondents clearly did not read it.  I fear it was often a case of, "My mind's made up - don't confuse me with the facts!"  When you read "Titflasher's" accounts (linked in that article) of how anti-apartheid activists were treated (including the most brutal and hideous tortures inflicted by South African police, which I can confirm did happen - I saw them too), how is it possible for anyone to regard the Afrikaners as "heroic"?  In their enforcement of a system so inhumane as to be reminiscent of Nazi Germany, many of them were no better than the Gestapo or SS concentration camp guards.

The current backlash against the Afrikaner grew out of the lived experience of millions who were forced to endure their jackboot on their necks.  That's the bottom line.  That's the way it was.  Sure, not all Afrikaners were that bad, just as not all Germans supported Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party and what was done to the Jews of Europe - but that didn't stop all Germans paying the price for it.  The Afrikaners are in the same boat today.

I've lived and worked with a large number of Afrikaners.  I regard some of them as my friends to this day.  Nevertheless, when I look at what many Afrikaners did to South Africa, and then see how they're being treated today, I can only say, "They asked for it."  They did unto others, and it's now in turn being done unto them.  Just as their "tribe" treated others, so they are being treated today.

Unless and until apologists for the Afrikaners address that specific issue, instead of talking around and above and below and past the subject, their criticisms ignore reality.  I said at the outset of this whole kerfuffle:  "No, the Afrikaners were NOT 'The Heroic White Tribe of Africa' ".  I still maintain that - and I'm still waiting for respondents to prove me wrong.  Indeed, by so strenuously avoiding that issue, and instead making excuses for the Afrikaners and/or attacking other tribes and/or races, I submit that many respondents are painting themselves in colors and patterns that are very easy for the rest of us to identify.  It's not a flattering picture.


Memes that made me laugh 64

Gathered from here, there and everywhere over the past week.  Click any image for a larger view.

More next week.


Sunday, June 27, 2021

Sunday morning music


A blast from the past this morning.  Here's a much younger Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits in a live performance of their breakout hit "Sultans of Swing", filmed in Basel, Switzerland in 1992.  It's noteworthy for a very long, extended guitar solo by Mark Knopfler, which showcases his genius on that instrument like no other Dire Straits track I've heard.  Note, too, how the group follows his musical lead as he "departs" from the by-then-traditional tune, improvising and flowing naturally with his variations.  It's a virtuoso performance by all concerned.

They make it look so effortless, don't they?


Saturday, June 26, 2021

Saturday Snippet: The Battle of Waterloo, as told by a participant


In his memoir "Captain of the 95th (Rifles):  An Officer of Wellington's Sharpshooters During the Peninsular, South of France and Waterloo Campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars", Captain (later Lieutenant-Colonel) Jonathan Leach gives personal impressions of almost the whole of the Peninsular War and subsequent battles in which he was involved.

Many people forget that Waterloo was actually the final, climactic battle in a multi-day clash of armies from several nations.  Col. Leach describes it over the course of almost a week, culminating in the fateful day itself, which he ended in command of his battalion after two preceding Commanding Officers had become casualties.  He includes some pungent remarks about "armchair generals" who opined about what they think happened (or should have happened), versus the experience of those who were there from start to finish.


As the war with America still continued, the 1st and 2d battalions of our corps were under orders for embarkation, early in the spring of 1815, for the Western World, whither a considerable part of our 3d battalion had already been sent, and formed a part of the expedition against New Orleans. Napoleon’s sudden flight from Elba, and his subsequent occupation of the throne of France, altered our destination; and by the end of April both our battalions were in Flanders. From Ostend we were conveyed without delay, in large boats by the canal, to Ghent, where we remained ten days, and thence proceeded to Brussels. There we were stationed in capital quarters for some weeks, until ordered out of them to take part in that battle which decided the fate of Europe.

During our stay in Brussels the 5th Division of the army was formed there, and consisted of the following regiments: — The 3d battalion of the 1st Royals, 28th, 32d, 42d Highlanders, 2d battalion 44th, 79th and 92d Highlanders, and 1st battalion 95th Rifle Corps. The 2d battalion of our corps, and two companies of the 3d battalion, were appointed to Sir Henry Clinton’s Division. Sir James Kempt and Sir Dennis Pack each commanded a brigade in the 5th Division, which had for its chief Sir Thomas Picton. He did not arrive at Brussels from England until the 15th of June, on which day there were various rumours in circulation as to the movements of the French army.

It was known that Napoleon had driven back the Prussian outposts, and it followed, as a matter of course, that affairs would, in all probability, be speedily brought to a crisis.

Soon after dark on the evening of the 15th the drums beat to arms, and the bugles sounded to assemble the division; but as the soldiers were billeted in every part of the city, the night was drawing to a close and morning beginning to dawn, by the time the whole of the troops were collected and formed. We then advanced by the road through the forest of Soignie, and halted near the village of Waterloo, where the troops of the Duke of Brunswick (which had been cantoned for some time in the vicinity of Brussels), joined us.

No one who has campaigned need be told, that a multiplicity of rumours, reports, speculations, and calculations, most of them vague, contradictory, and unfounded, are the forerunners of the advance of an army. “The enemy is in position at such a point with so many thousand men, his front covered by a deep and impassable river,” declares one; “the troops stationed at such a point must inevitably be overpowered and annihilated before assistance can arrive,” says a second; “we shall have a brush with their advanced guard in less than an hour,” declares a third; and so on: every man conjuring up something wherewith to throw a light, not only on the intended operations and movements of his own army, but, moreover, on those of the enemy. The pundits on the present occasion were by no means few; but the heads of the many which had been thus racked and tormented with conjectures, were ere long to be otherwise employed.


Our division and the Brunswick troops, after a halt of an hour or two near Waterloo, were directed to advance; and we arrived at Quatre Bras about two hours after mid-day. Long before we reached this point, which consists of a few houses at the junction of four roads, we were aware that something not of an amicable nature was in progress between the Belgian troops under the Prince of Orange and the French under Marshal Ney, as a number of wounded Belgians were proceeding towards Brussels, and an occasional cannonade was, moreover, heard in our front. The troops under the Prince of Orange had been driven back on Quatre Bras, after some resistance.

We found the Prince in possession of Quatre Bras, occupying also a wood on his right, and a farm-house in his front, as his advanced posts. The French were moving on in great force towards Quatre Bras, and to a wood on the left of the road, at the moment of the arrival of our division. The Duke of Wellington instantly directed our battalion to occupy and to defend this wood; and we kept possession of it throughout the day, in spite of the many attempts made by the enemy to dispossess us of it, who kept us constantly engaged until night.

The remainder of our division, during this period, were engaged on our right in a fierce and desperate struggle against some heavy bodies of infantry and cavalry. The approach of the latter force obliged the different regiments to form squares, which resisted, with the greatest steadiness and gallantry, the repeated attempts to charge and break them, and strewed the field with cuirassiers and horses. Neither the charges of their numerous and daring cavalry, nor the incessant fire of musketry, supported by a powerful artillery, enabled the French to gain one foot of ground, although, at the most moderate calculation, they outnumbered the British in the proportion of two to one. The Duke of Brunswick fell early in the action, whilst setting a glorious example to his troops, which were chiefly new levies.

The only cavalry which we had in the field were those belonging to the Duke of Brunswick, which were drawn up on the road towards the right of our division; and by their giving way, at the approach of the cuirassiers, the consequences would have been serious, had not the French cavalry received at that moment a destructive volley from a regiment of infantry (I think the 92d), which sent back those who escaped the fire fully as fast as they had advanced.

Several hours had been spent in this unequal contest; and although we were aware that reinforcements were marching from different points to our assistance, it was not until late in the afternoon that the head of Baron Charles Alten’s division was seen approaching; and a welcome sight it was. Supported by this division, which was ushered into the field by a cannonade from the enemy, we drove back their light troops, with whom we continued engaged until night.

The post occupied by our battalion having been given over to General Alten’s troops, we were ordered to rejoin our own division, which were lying down by their arms on the ground where they had been engaged throughout the day. Other troops of infantry reached Quatre Bras during the afternoon and evening of the 16th; and in the course of the night the whole, or the greatest part, of the cavalry joined us.

It will easily be credited, that, not having had one moment’s sleep on the night of the 15th, and the whole of the 16th having been spent in marching and in engagements with the enemy, very little time was requisite to invoke the sleepy god, as about eleven at night we lay down by our arms for that purpose. But our slumbers were not destined to be of long duration; as we were suddenly broad awake and standing to our arms in consequence of the pickets of both armies blazing away at each other, from some unknown cause, which kept us on the alert until day dawned.

Whilst we were employed on the 16th at Quatre Bras, in the manner which I have attempted to describe, the Prussian army, under Marshal Blucher, was furiously attacked by the French under Napoleon in person, at the village of Ligny, some miles to our left. The tremendous and unceasing fire of artillery, and the constant roll of musketry, announced that a deadly conflict was going forward, which did not terminate until after dark. We were in anxious suspense as to the result of this battle; nor was the disheartening fact known to us until the morning of the 17th, that the Prussians had been completely defeated, and obliged to fall back from Ligny with a heavy loss.

The man of candour will not deny, be he ever so determined a fire-eater, that the news of this disastrous defeat of our allies was calculated to throw a damp on the prospects of the campaign; and notwithstanding I have heard some few individuals since declare that they never entertained the smallest doubt of our success, I never believed them. Nothing is more easy than to prognosticate occurrences which have already taken place. This may be a bull, but it is nevertheless a system which I have seen adopted by individuals from both sides of the Irish channel.

It is now time to notice the retrograde movement which the British army was obliged to make from Quatre Bras to the position at Waterloo on the 17th June, in consequence of the defeat, and subsequent retreat of the Prussians from Ligny, on the night of the 16th. Before I make the attempt, a word or two on another point may not be altogether amiss.

I have often been heartily tired of, and out of all patience with, the one engrossing question, ever uppermost, and ready to be let fly at any one who happened to have served with the Waterloo army, either by non-combatants, or by those who have never given themselves the trouble to investigate the real position of affairs at that period, — “Pray, sir, was not the Duke of Wellington taken quite by surprise, whilst he was at the Duchess of Richmond’s ball at Brussels, by the sudden irruption of Bonaparte’s army into Flanders?” Now, as every officer stationed in Brussels with Sir T. Picton’s division knew, I presume, on the 15th of June, that the French army was in motion on the frontiers of Flanders, and that Prince Blucher’s advanced posts had been engaged, it is utterly impossible but that those facts should have been known to the Duke of Wellington long before we could possibly have been informed of them.

I conclude, that those fire-side and feather-bed tacticians would have had the Duke of Wellington, the moment he heard of the affairs which had taken place at the Prussian outposts, mount his horse, draw his sword, and give the word of command himself to the troops in Brussels, to fix bayonets, shoulder arms, and march. I have never, however, distinctly understood to what particular point, or on which of the different roads by which Bonaparte had the option of penetrating into Flanders, these savans deemed it judicious that the duke should have ordered a concentration of his army, before he had obtained certain intelligence of the enemy’s intentions. A very small share of intellect is necessary to comprehend that the British commander was obliged to canton the different divisions of his army along an extensive frontier, not only with a view of watching the roads by which his adversary might advance, but, moreover, for the purpose of more easily supplying them with provisions, particularly his cavalry and artillery. It would consequently have been a specimen of generalship not very creditable to him, had he directed his army to assemble at any one particular point as long as a doubt existed of the movements of his opponent, or whilst his intentions remained unfathomed.

It is doubtless a pleasant and edifying occupation, while sitting by an English fire-side, to criticise and calumniate that commander, who, in spite of his being “taken by surprise,” contrived to gain the most splendid and decisive victory ever achieved by the British army or any other. Leaving those critics to rub their shins by a coal fire, and to finish half a dozen of port (on the qualities of which I should infinitely prefer their opinion than on the campaign of 1815 in Flanders), I must return to Quatre Bras.

The retreat of the Prussians from Ligny having rendered a corresponding movement on our part necessary, the Duke of Wellington put. his army in motion about ten o’clock on the morning of the 17th, towards the position at Waterloo.

Our battalion, which was the last of the infantry that left the field at Quatre Bras, retired with the cavalry, who covered the retreat of the army. Tremendous rain commenced falling before we reached Genappe, where we were ordered to take such shelter as the houses on each side of the street at the entrance of the town afforded. Some shots which we heard exchanged between the advanced cavalry of the two armies, obliged us instantly to leave the hovels in which we had taken momentary refuge from the storm; and, as the cavalry very soon afterwards entered Genappe, we retired through the town with them. Our cavalry having formed on the most favourable ground beyond Genappe, became engaged with the Lancers and other corps of the French cavalry as they debouched from the town; and notwithstanding some loss was sustained on our side, and the enemy pressed and rather roughly handled the rear-guard, the household brigade, by their resolute and gallant conduct, soon retrieved matters, and drove back the French cavalry in such style, as made them keep at a much more respectable distance during the remainder of the day. The march from Genappe to Waterloo was little better than a mud-bath, owing to the deluge of rain which continued to fall.

About two of three hours before dark we reached that position which has been rendered so memorable for the sanguinary contest which took place on it the following day. The French occupied a ridge of heights opposite to us, and kept up an occasional cannonade until dark.

The two preceding days and nights having been spent in marching, fighting, and without sleep, the floods of rain that descended the whole night of the 17th, which we passed on the position lying down by our arms, did not disturb our repose. For myself, at least, I can answer, that I never in my whole life slept more soundly, although thoroughly drenched to the skin before I lay down on the ground, which was like a snipe-marsh.


Our men lost no time after daylight appeared, on the morning of the 18th, in drying and cleaning their arms, and preparing for the battle which it was clear must inevitably take place.

So many detailed accounts of the battle of Waterloo have been already written by all sorts and descriptions of persons, civil and military, that it would be presumptuous in a regimental officer, who was necessarily tied to one spot with his regiment during the whole of the action, to endeavour to throw a light on a subject already so frequently discussed. I would fain, however, touch on some of the different occurrences which took place during the momentous struggle on the 18th of June, and more particularly such as happened between our division and that portion of the French army which was repeatedly sent to dislodge us from the ground on which we were posted.

Sir T. Picton’s division was formed in two lines, with its right resting on the road leading from Brussels to Genappe, and extending its left along a ridge where there was a thorn hedge, which afforded little or no protection against musketry. The troops of the first line were stationed there.

Immediately in front of the extreme right of the position of our division was a hillock, and in its front and at its base was an excavation close by the road, from which sand had been taken; and this was occupied by two companies of our battalion, of which I had the command, supported by the remainder of it on the ridge above.

The farm-house of La Haye Sainte, about a quarter of a musket-shot distant, in front of the hillock, and on the other side of the road, was occupied by one of the light battalions of the German Legion belonging to Baron Alten’s division. Several pieces of artillery were planted on the right near the road, and others further to the left. The only troops on the left of our division were some foreign battalions, which formed the extreme left of the Duke of Wellington’s position, and they were supported, I believe, by some regiments of British cavalry. With the exception of Sir C. Colville’s division, which was detached at a distance of some miles from the right of the position, to watch the enemy in another quarter, the remainder of the infantry, British, Hanoverian, Brunswickers, &c. &c, were formed on the right of the Genappe road, having the chateau of Hugomont in front of the right, which was defended by the British Guards. The mass of our cavalry were, I believe, in rear of the centre, and in reserve. There may undoubtedly be some inaccuracies in the rough sketch which I have attempted to draw; but I believe the general outline is not very incorrect.

On a ridge of hills higher than those on which our army stood, and immediately opposite to it, was the French position. The ground rose gradually towards each of the positions of the hostile armies from a broad and open valley, which might be termed neutral ground. Being entirely free from wood, with the exception of some trees near Hugomont, and having neither ditches, rocks, walls, nor enclosures, the field was particularly adapted for the operations of cavalry; and, moreover, the approach to each position being exposed, the effects of artillery could not fail to be severely felt by both parties.


As I did not happen to consult my watch, I shall not be positive as to the exact moment at which the battle commenced; but I should say, that between ten and eleven o’clock our attention was first attracted by a heavy cannonade on the right of the army, followed by an exceedingly sharp fire of light troops, which proved to be the commencement of a desperate attack, made by a large force under Jerome Bonaparte, on the chateau of Hugomont. As it was impossible for us to see what was going on at that point, there being some higher ground between us and Hugomont, I shall not attempt to describe the many desperate and impetuous attacks made by the enemy, hour after hour, on this chateau, in each of which they perished in heaps by the fire of its undaunted defenders; whom neither the unremitting fire of shot and shells, from the numerous French batteries, nor the swarms of infantry which assailed it again and again, could dislodge from this important post.

As yet all was quiet in the immediate front of our division. But after a calm comes a storm. We perceived our adversaries bringing into position, on the heights opposite, gun after gun; and ere much time had elapsed, there were, at a moderate computation, fifty pieces of artillery in battery, staring us in the face, and intended particularly to salute our division, the farm of La Haye Sainte, and the left of Baron Aiten’s division. The enemy’s columns were not as yet visible, being covered by some undulations of ground near the summit of their position. In an instant this numerous and powerful artillery opened on us, battering at the same moment the farm-house of La Haye Sainte. Under cover of this cannonade several large columns of infantry, supported by heavy bodies of cavalry, and preceded by a multitude of light infantry, descended at a trot into the plain, with shouts and cries of “Vive l’Empereur!” some of them throwing up their caps in the air, and advancing to the attack with such confidence and impetuosity, as if the bare possibility of our being able to withstand the shock was out of the question, fighting as they were under the immediate eye of their Emperor. But Napoleon was destined, in a few minutes after the commencement of this hubbub, to see his Imperial Legions recoil in the greatest confusion, with a dreadful carnage, and with a great loss in prisoners.

The fire of our two companies posted in the excavation near the road, and from the remainder of the battalion on the hillock, as also that from the windows and loop-holes, by the Germans, in La Haye Sainte, had already inflicted a severe loss on the enemy. In spite of it they pressed boldly and resolutely on, until met by our first line, which delivered such a fire, when they approached the thorn hedge, as shattered their ranks and threw them into disorder; and this was increased by the cheers, and an attempt of our line to close with them. At this instant the household brigade of cavalry coming up to our support, rushed gallantly amongst their infantry and the cavalry which were endeavouring to retrieve matters for them, and drove them back, man and horse, in terrible confusion and dismay, and with immense loss. It was, I think, about this time also that the brigade consisting of the Royals, Scotch Greys, and Enniskillen Dragoons, made so brilliant a charge, and took two eagles and seventeen hundred prisoners.

Accounts are various and contradictory as to the time and place of Sir T. Picton’s death. I believe there are many living witnesses who will agree with me in the declaration, that immediately after we had repulsed the French in their first attack, and, as Sir T. Picton rode forward to the crest of the position, amongst some of our skirmishers, to look at the retreating enemy, an unlucky straggling musket-shot put a period to his existence, and thereby deprived the army of one of its most gallant, experienced, and talented generals. His loss has been universally admitted and sincerely regretted. The command of the division now devolved on Sir James Kempt; an officer in whose brigade our battalion had served the last two campaigns in the Peninsular war, and whose zeal, gallantry, and abilities are so well known and acknowledged, that any panegyric of mine might appear fulsome and superfluous.

The roar of cannon and musketry continued without intermission on the right; and although the lesson which the enemy had lately been taught by our division and the heavy cavalry, made them delay a considerable time before they renewed their attack on us in regular form, they kept up a constant and well-directed cannonade from which we sustained a heavy loss, without the power of immediately retaliating, except from some pieces of artillery which the French batteries vastly outnumbered. After having endured for a length of time, and with a tolerable degree of patience, this eternal pounding of shot and shells, strong symptoms appeared of a second and equally formidable attack being about to commence on our division and on the farm-house of La Haye Sainte. The second edition of “Vive l’Empereur!” “En avant, mes enfants!” and other stimulating cries, burst forth as their masses of infantry and of cavalry again advanced in the most imposing and intrepid style, under cover of a terrible cannonade and of their light troops. The 4th, 40th, and 27th regiments, which had arrived on the field from Brussels, under Sir John Lambert’s command, (I believe after the battle had commenced,) were sent to support us.

Nothing could exceed the determined bravery with which the Germans defended the farmhouse of La Haye Sainte; but in the desperate attack which was now made on it, having expended the whole of their ammunition, and there being no means of supplying them with more, they were driven out, and the house was instantly filled with the enemy’s infantry. For several hours afterwards they kept up a dreadful fire from loop-holes and windows in the upper part of it, whereby they raked the hillock so as to render it untenable by our battalion. They were also enabled to establish on the knoll, and along the crest of the hill, a strong line of infantry, which knelt down, exposing only their heads and shoulders to our fire.

Thus the closest and most protracted contest with musketry perhaps on record, was continued for several hours; during which we were several times supplied with fresh ammunition. The artillerymen were swept from the guns which were within reach of the house and the hillock. The possession of La Haye Sainte by the French occasioned a vast loss to our division, which was so diminished in numbers, that all our reserves of infantry were brought up into our first, and now only line, as were also the 4th and 40th regiments.

Sir Andrew Barnard received a wound early in the action, and the command of our battalion then devolved on Lieutenant-Colonel Cameron. That officer was likewise severely wounded some time afterwards, and the command of the battalion fell to my lot during the remainder of the day.

The 27th regiment had its good qualities of steadiness, patience under fire, and valour, put more severely to the test than, perhaps, any corps in the field. It was formed in a hollow square, a short distance in rear of the right of our division, with one of its faces looking into the road, as a protection to it against any attempt which the enemy’s cavalry might make by charging up that road. This brave old regiment was almost annihilated in square, by the terrible fire of musketry kept up on it from the knoll, whilst it was impossible for them to pull a trigger during the whole time, as they would thereby have been as likely to kill friends as foes. Those who may chance to visit the field of Waterloo, cannot fail to find on the spot which I have mentioned, near the road, and at a short distance from the thorn hedge, a small square of a darker colour than the ground immediately about it, marking the grave of this gallant Irish regiment.

Every kind of exertion was made by the French officers, during this blaze of musketry, to induce their men to advance from the crest of the ridge and from the hillock, to charge us; and although, by the daring and animating example shewn by many of them, they at times prevailed on a certain portion of their men to advance a few yards; the fire which we sent amongst them was such, that they were glad to get back under cover of the knoll; such of them, at least, as were not disabled. In this manner continued the contest on our part of the line hour after hour, without any appearance of its being decided as long as any one remained alive on either side.

The arrival of the Prussians had been long expected; but the only intimation we had of their approach was the smoke of a distant cannon occasionally seen far on the left. About seven o’clock in the evening a party of their Lancers arrived on the field to announce the approach of their army. It was about this time that the last and desperate attack was made by Napoleon with his guard, to annihilate us before the Prussians should arrive to our assistance. That this grand effort entirely failed, and that his Imperial Guard was driven back in irretrievable confusion and with immense slaughter, carrying with it over the field, like the receding waves of the sea, every thing on its surface, is universally known.

The Prussians were now commencing an attack on the extreme right of the French, which the Duke of Wellington being aware of, and witnessing the immense loss which they had suffered in their last attack, as also their indescribable confusion, ordered a general advance of his whole army, to put the finishing stroke to the work of this bloody day. The lines moved forward rapidly and in fine order, loudly cheering; and the time only which was required for us to reach the enemy’s position, sufficed to complete this most hardly contested, sanguinary, and important of battles.

Having principally touched on what took place on the left of the army under my own eye, it remains only to add, that the right and centre were exposed throughout the day to a constant and tremendous fire of artillery, to a murderous discharge of musketry, and desperate charges of cavalry; all of which combined proved insufficient to drive them from their position, or to break a single square, although the brave cuirassiers of the French fell in heaps in their strenuous and repeated attempts to do so.

Those amongst us who had witnessed in the Peninsula many well-contested actions, were agreed on one point, that we had never before seen such determination displayed by the French as on this day. Fighting under the eye of Napoleon, and feeling what a great and important stake they contested for, will account for their extraordinary perseverance and valour, and for the vast efforts which they made for victory.

The loss sustained by the army was such as might have been expected in so long and closely contested a battle. There was a sorry reckoning amongst the officers and soldiers of our battalion, as well as of our 2d and 3d battalions, which were in Sir H. Clinton’s division.

Marshal Blucher having put his army on the enemy’s track, with strict orders that not a moment’s respite should be allowed them on their retreat, the Duke of Wellington’s army bivouacked for the night on the ground which had been the French position during the battle. Here, amidst heaps of dead and dying, men and horses, captured artillery, ammunition waggons, &c. &c. &c. huddled together in one confused mass, we spent the night.

Soon after daybreak, the following morning, I mounted my horse for the purpose of glancing my eye over the field of battle. It was not the first of the kind on which I had looked; but the frightful carnage of men and horses lying in so comparatively small a compass, the thousands of the wounded of the two armies which had not yet been removed, together with their groans and lamentations, produced such an impression on the mind, as every writer who has attempted to bring it home to the conception of those who were not eye-witnesses of the bloody scene which this huge charnel-house presented, has failed to effect. I relinquish it, therefore, as a hopeless undertaking; and turn willingly from this scene (which in cold blood will not bear inspection) towards the French metropolis, on the road to which our army was put in motion about nine or ten o’clock on the morning of the 19th.

There you have it:  an account of what may be the greatest battle in European history, by a participant who started the fight in command of two companies, and ended it in command of his entire battalion.  There were plus-or-minus 70,000 casualties, killed, wounded, taken prisoner or missing, of whom more than half were French.  I don't know whether another battle in history could claim a casualty total like that:  some do, but they were fought at times when a precise casualty count was either difficult (due to conditions) or speculative (because no accurate records were kept;  we're limited to unreliable, unverifiable accounts).

Speaking as a combat veteran, I'm glad I wasn't there.  My odds of surviving the Battle of Waterloo would have been rather too low for my liking.