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2018-07-01 Military History

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Nazi Agent 146
Chaco War
Shipwreck Hunter
Nanking Witness
Interned Americans
Victorian Jihads
JULY 2018
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JULY 2018
Letters 6 News 8
Murder in
War in the
‘Green Hell’
What was it about the war
that prompted U.S. troops to
‘frag’ their officers and NCOs?
By Hamilton Gregory
Paraguay and Bolivia battled
over a scrubland of snakes,
jaguars and promised oil
By P.G. Smith
David Mearns
in Kargil
Reviews 70 War Games 78 Captured! 80
Jihad in the
Age of Victoria
The British monarch’s sixdecade reign was marked by
a wave of Islamic uprisings
By Mark Simner
The Secret Life
of Erich Gimpel
The worst enemy this Nazi
spy faced in New York was
his drunken, inept partner
By Ron Soodalter
Taking Liberties
for Death
In the wake of the Dec. 7,
1941, attack on Pearl Harbor,
Japanese Americans lost
their homes and were locked
up without due process
Reporter C. Yates McDaniel
risked his life to tell the world
about Japan’s rape of Nanking
By Jack Torry
What We
Learned From...
The Siege
of Kut
Hallowed Ground
On the cover: A U.S. soldier in Vietnam in 1968 poses with his finger looped through the pin of a hand grenade. Some soldiers
used the weapon to “frag” their own officers and NCOs. PHOTO: Eddie Adams/Associated Press; photo illustration: Brian Walker
Join the discussion at
China’s American
Imperial General
Qing rulers relied on Christian
adventurer Frederick Ward to
end the only so-called Christian
revolt in Chinese history
By Tang Long
JULY 2018 VOL. 35, NO. 2
Camelback Colonialism
The Somaliland Camel Corps mopped
up a Mad Mullah and policed the British
protectorate through two world wars
By Nicholas Smith
Interview Frank Blazich, curator for armed
forces history at the Smithsonian, thrives on
sharing exhibits and welcomes contributions
Tools The mobility and maneuverability of
the American M24 Chaffee light tank made it
ideal for reconnaissance and troop support
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In 1918, They Entered the Trenches.
100 Years Later, We Honor Their Courage.
Just Released:
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During The Great War, approximately four million American
men and women served in uniform—half of them overseas.
Within months of entering the trenches in Europe, these two
million Americans helped Allied forces achieve victory in 1918.
100 years later, the World War I American Veterans Silver Dollar
has been released to commemorate their service.
A Design Befitting A Hero
For this release, the U.S. Department of the Treasury looked to
the American people for inspiration with an open call for artists.
The winning design came from LeRoy Transfield of Orem, Utah.
Transfield captures the patriotic resolve of a U.S. soldier fighting
overseas, paired with a second design that reminds us all that war
is never the end.
In 1915, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote “In Flanders
Fields,” a poem inspired by the sight of poppies overflowing a
field that had been all but destroyed by the blasts and bombs of
war. The poppy has since become an international symbol of
remembrance for the veterans who served in World War I.
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I found the article regarding
IEDs [“Faceless Enemy,” by
Paul X. Rutz] in your March
2018 issue very interesting
and pretty thorough, given
such an expansive topic.
I retired from the Army
in 2015 after 23 years of service. My time in the Army
saw me in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Before my first
deployment to Iraq I attended C-IED (counter-IED)
training and became the
primary trainer for my platoon. I’m not sure what I
can tell you about the training in particular—because
I don’t want to unintentionally disclose classified
information—but your article did touch on some of
the topics we covered.
Before my tour to Afghanistan I was once again selected to attend specialized
training. Though the approach had similarities to
that used in Iraq, this training was different, because
it concentrated on the IED
cell your article mentions.
Although my last tour was
more than five years ago,
I’m fairly certain C-IED training is still very relevant,
and the TTPs (tactics, techniques and procedures)
have adapted to the enemy’s
changing tactics. The training, combined with the
equipment, saves lives.
1st Sgt. Scott Cortese
U.S. Army (Ret.)
In reviewing the May 2018
edition, I found an error on
P. 25 [“Guernica,” by Stephen Roberts]. The article
refers to Winston Churchill
as prime minister of Britain
during the Spanish Civil
War and supporting neutrality. Churchill became
prime minister in 1940. Stanley Baldwin was prime minister, succeeded by Neville
Chamberlain, who came to
power in 1937.
Jim Rinta
Editor responds: In his manuscript Stephen Roberts did
correctly refer to the future
Code Talkers
I read with interest the article about the American
Indian code talkers during
World War I [“Speaking in
Tongues,” by Richard Selcer, March 2018]. His article is the first I have read
that explains how the use
of Indians began.
Choctaw, being an unknown language, was unbreakable. After the war
the Germans didn’t want
to be caught short again.
They, and later the Japanese, sent college language
professors to America to
study the many different Indian languages. That’s why
World War II Navajo code
talkers couldn’t just talk in
their native language. The
Japanese were ready for that.
Navajos had to develop a
code on top of their Navajo. It was in part a word
substitute code and part a
more complex cipher. The
Japanese never broke it.
Wendell Schollander
Coal in Our
In “What Lies Beneath” (War
Games, P. 78) in the March
2018 issue item No. 4 is identified as a Confederate coal
torpedo. In fact, it is a Civil
War barrel torpedo—what
we would now call a moored
naval mine.
A coal torpedo (actually a
disguised sabotage device)
was cast from iron in a mold
made from a lump of coal
and was filled with gunpowder. The device was coated
in coal dust, then secreted
in the coal bunker of an
enemy ship. The unsuspecting crew would shovel the
torpedo into the firebox
of the ship’s boilers, which
would cause it to detonate.
In 1888 a former Confederate agent named Robert Louden claimed to have
placed a coal torpedo aboard
the steamboat Sultana, which
exploded on April 27, 1865,
while returning nearly 2,000
Union POWs to the North,
killing 1,192 people. Most
scholars and historians
have discredited Louden’s
claim, however.
Richard Knack
Send letters to
Editor, Military History
1919 Gallows Road, Suite 400
Vienna, VA 22182-4038
or via e-mail to
Please include name, address
and phone number
prime minister in the context
of 1936 world affairs simply
as “Winston Churchill,” only
later referring to him as prime
minister in the context of the
Blitz. The quote about Churchill pressing for “an absolutely rigid neutrality” in
Spain is correct. However, in
editing the piece, we hastily
moved up the title “prime
minister” but neglected to
insert the word “future” in
the context of 1936. We especially regret the error for Roberts’ sake and assure readers
we take great pains to fact
check all we publish. We have
since corrected Roberts’ article and posted it on our website [].
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By Brendan Manley
Footage clearly shows one
of the carrier’s quadruplemount 1-inch/75-caliber
anti-aircraft gun batteries.
that triggered secondary explosions, killing 216 crewmen.
As damage mounted, ships from its task force evacuated the
carrier’s 2,735 surviving sailors. The destroyer USS Phelps
then scuttled Lexington with torpedoes. Although the Japanese could claim a tactical victory, U.S. carrier planes damaged Shokaku and Zuikaku enough to keep them out of the
Battle of Midway the following month, in what was a decisive U.S. victory and the turning point in the Pacific War.
Allen’s search teams have logged several historic finds,
including the Japanese battleship Musashi (2015); the bell
from the British battlecruiser Hood (2015), which Allen had
restored and presented to the British Royal Navy in 2016;
the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis (2017), which delivered
components for the Little Boy atomic bomb to Tinian in
the Northern Marianas; and the destroyer USS Ward (2017),
which fired the first American shots of the Pacific War.
‘She is going down with her head up. Dear old Lex. A lady to the last!’
—Chicago Tribune correspondent Stanley Johnston on the scuttling of USS Lexington
A search team aboard the research vessel Petrel, owned and
operated by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen [paulallen.
com], has added the World War II aircraft carrier USS
Lexington to the list of historic warship wrecks it has pinpointed in recent years. Scuttled on May 8, 1942, during
the Battle of the Coral Sea—history’s first carrier vs. carrier
clash—the 888-foot, 36,000-ton flattop lies some 2 miles
below the surface 500 miles off Australia’s northeast coast.
Launched in 1925, “Lady Lex” spent its career in the
U.S. Pacific Fleet. It was at sea, delivering aircraft to Midway
Island, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii,
on Dec. 7, 1941. Sent to check the Japanese invasion of New
Guinea the following spring, Lexington and sister carrier
Saratoga engaged in a May 7–8, 1942, duel with the Japanese fleet carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku. On the second day
Lexington took hits from Japanese torpedoes and bombs
Tankfest 2018
Rolls Into
Tank Museum
From June 29 to July 1
Wargaming, developer
of the multiplayer online
game World of Tanks
will host Tankfest, an
annual display of historic armored vehicles
at the Tank Museum
in Dorset, U.K. The
museum holds the
world’s largest collection of tanks, comprising more than
300 vehicles from
26 nations. Standouts
include the world’s first
tank prototype (Little
Willie) and the oldest
surviving combat tank
(a British Mark I).
Belle Is Back
The National Museum
of the U.S. Air Force
mil], at Wright-Patterson
Air Force Base, Ohio,
is putting the Boeing
B-17F Flying Fortress
Memphis Belle back on
display after a 13-year
restoration effort. The
subject of 1944 and
1990 films, Memphis
Belle was among the
first U.S. Army Air Forces
heavy bombers to complete 25 combat missions over occupied
Europe during World
War II. The celebrated
B-17 will open to visitors on May 17, exactly
75 years to the day it
flew its final mission.
June 15, 1932
A Bolivian military expedition
seizes Fort Carlos Antonio
López, a Paraguayan outpost
on Lake Pitiantutá in the
Chaco Boreal, a contested
region reportedly rich in oil
deposits. The incursion sets
off the Chaco War (P. 30),
which Paraguay wins in 1935.
June 17, 1942
Governments, maritime archaeologists and museums are teaming up
to address the illegal salvaging of warship wrecks, particularly in
Southeast Asia, where scavengers (often Chinese-flagged) have targeted
some 50 wrecks from Japan, the United States, Australia, Britain,
Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. The United Nations and individual countries have enacted shipwreck protection laws, but enforcing
them remains a challenge. Awareness helps. A recent exhibition at the
Australian National Maritime Museum [] in Sydney highlighted the threatened wrecks of the World War II cruisers HMAS Perth
(above) and USS Houston. But the best hope may lie with efforts to create
3D digital models of shipwrecks using photogrammetry and other
methods, thus enabling future generations to view historic ships that
—by the hand of mankind or nature—will ultimately vanish.
Historian Dennis Spragg [], author of the 2017 book
Glenn Miller Declassified, insists the American bandleader—who died
on Dec. 15, 1944, when the U.S. Army Air Forces UC-64A Norseman
plane taking him from England to a USO
performance in France crashed into the
English Channel—was not the victim of
jettisoned Royal Air Force bombs, as widely
believed. The rediscovered wartime log of
a British plane-spotter placed the singleengine Norseman over Reading en route
to Paris, proving it could not have crossed
into the designated bomb-jettison zone.
The crash was likely due to a frozen carburetor, consistent with U.S. Army findings.
Milton S. Eisenhower, brother
of then Brig. Gen. Dwight
D. Eisenhower, resigns as
director of the War Relocation Authority overseeing
Japanese internment
camps (P. 56), noting the
“great majority” of Japanese Americans are loyal.
June 25, 1982
Disgraced former Marine
Reginald F. Smith is murdered by a fellow inmate
while serving a 40-year sentence for the April 21, 1969,
“fragging” (P. 22) by hand
grenade of his company
commander, 1st Lt. Robert
T. Rohweller, at Quang Tri
Combat Base, Vietnam.
June 30, 1944
Discharged U.S. Navy Reservist turned Nazi defector
William Colepaugh departs
Germany for SS spy school
in the Netherlands. There he
meets Erich Gimple (P. 40),
his future fellow agent in the
doomed Operation Magpie.
July 25, 1946
Nanking-born Dr. Robert
O. Wilson is the first witness
to take the stand as the International Military Tribunal for
the Far East opens its prosecution of Japanese atrocities during the 1937–38
Nanking massacre (P. 62).
Memorial Honors
Gulf War Hero
Through June 3 the National World War I Museum and Memorial [] in Kansas
City, Mo., will devote its newly opened Wylie Gallery to the epic wartime oil painting Gassed
(detail above), by famed American portrait artist John Singer Sargent. It marks only the second
time the massive canvas—which measures 20 feet wide by 7 feet 7 inches high—has been
exhibited in the United States.
In the somber scene orderlies guide British Tommies blinded by mustard gas into an overtaxed
dressing station on the Doullens-Arras Road in northern France. Daisy-chained like young
schoolboys, the helpless soldiers shuffle along a duckboard through a tangle of similarly
wounded men as planes dogfight overhead and oblivious footballers hold a match in the far
distance. Sargent witnessed the heartrending scene on Aug. 21, 1918, following a German
gas attack against elements of the British army’s 2nd and 3rd infantry divisions during the
Second Battle of Arras.
That spring the British Ministry of Information had commissioned well-known artists to
create works for a planned Hall of Remembrance in London. Tasked with rendering a scene
that embodied Anglo-American cooperation, Sargent toured the Western Front for inspiration
but had little luck. After his visit to the British dressing station the exasperated artist sought
permission to change the subject of his painting. Ministry officials relented, and Sargent
completed his masterpiece in March 1919.
Ironically, the Hall of Remembrance never materialized. After showing at the Royal Academy
to widespread acclaim, Gassed joined the collection of the Imperial War Museums [],
which loaned the painting for the current exhibition. Also on display are reproductions of
Sargent’s study drawings and relevant artifacts contributed by the U.S. Army Chemical Corps
Museum [].
‘I have only seen three fine subjects…one a harrowing sight,
a field full of gassed and blindfolded men’
—John Singer Sargent
Creator of a
Cold War Icon
Robert W. Blakeley, 95,
creator of the ubiquitous yellow-and-black
fallout shelter signs
that dotted the landscape of the Cold War–
era United States,
died on Oct. 25, 2017.
A Marine Corps combat
veteran of World War II
and the Korean War,
Blakeley later worked
for the Veterans Administration and Army
Corps of Engineers. In
1961 he spearheaded
the creation of some
1.4 million signs under
the Defense Department’s Community
Fallout Shelter Program.
Florida State University
[] has installed
a memorial on its campus in Tallahassee, Fla.,
to alumnus and U.S.
Navy pilot Capt. Scott
Speicher, who was
killed when his F/A-18
Hornet was shot down
on Jan. 17, 1991, in the
opening hours of the
Persian Gulf War. He
was the first U.S. combat casualty of the war.
The monument centers
on a bronze replica of
Speicher’s pilot helmet.
Not until 2009 were
his remains recovered
from the desert west
of Baghdad, Iraq.
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Own a Historic
M1911 Pistol
Thumbs Down
for Terra-Cotta
Delaware resident
Michael Rohana faces
federal charges for
breaking off and stealing the thumb from a
2,200-year-old Chinese
terra-cotta warrior on
display last December
at Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute [].
The figure, valued at
$4.5 million, is one of
more than 8,000 such
clay warriors discovered
in 1974 in the tomb of
Qin Shi Huang, China’s
first emperor, who
died in 210 BC. Rohana
returned the thumb,
which conservators will
reattach to the statue.
President Donald Trump’s
plan to honor troops with a
military parade on Veterans’
Day (November 11) isn’t
the first time a U.S. president has put the nation’s
martial might on display.
Grand Review
of the Armies
Utah-based Cedar Fort Publishing & Media has launched a Kickstarter
campaign to develop Operation Candy Bomber [
CandyBomber], an educational board game based on the 1948–49 Berlin
Airlift—the operation to supply and feed the citizens of Allied-controlled
West Berlin, which the Soviet Union blockaded at the onset of the Cold
War. During the 15-month operation American, British and Australian
pilots delivered more than 2.3 million tons of cargo. The game draws
its name from a concurrent effort organized by U.S. Air Force Lt. Gail
Halvorsen (aka the “Berlin Candy Bomber”) to airdrop candy to German
children, thus clinching the ideological battle. Ninety-seven-year-old
retired Col. Halvorsen [] continues to attend
Berlin Airlift commemorations.
Clarence Beavers, 96, last surviving member of
the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion (aka “Triple
Nickels”)—an all-black U.S. Army airborne unit
formed during World War II—died on Dec. 14,
2017. Drafted in 1941, 1st Sgt. Beavers was accepted into parachute training at Fort Benning,
Ga., in 1943, though segregation policies kept him grounded, as there
were no black airborne units at the time. That December the 555th was
activated at Fort Benning, and Beavers was the first volunteer. The unit
remained stateside during the war, its men serving as smokejumpers
assigned to battle fires in the Pacific Northwest caused by balloon-borne
Japanese incendiary devices. In 1944–45 Japan released more than 9,300
such devices off the West Coast, hundreds of which sparked blazes.
On May 23 and 24, 1865,
two weeks after declaring a formal end to the
American Civil War, President Andrew Johnson conducted a review of Union
Army troops. Some 145,000
soldiers marched through
Washington, D.C., in columns stretching for miles.
New York at
War Parade
A half-million service members and civilians marched
up Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue
past some 2.5 million cheering spectators during this
wartime parade on June 13,
1942. It was held to coincide
with President Franklin D.
Roosevelt’s “United Nations
Day” that June 14—Flag
Day in the United States.
Ike’s Inaugural
President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Cold War–era first
inaugural parade on Jan. 20,
1953, featured 22,000 service members, tanks and an
M65 atomic cannon, capable of firing a 280 mm W9
nuclear shell some 20 miles.
JFK’s Inaugural
President John F. Kennedy’s
Jan. 20, 1961, inaugural
parade also flexed U.S. military might, featuring 15,000
service members, tanks,
dozens of nuclear missiles
and a PT boat like the one he
commanded in World War II.
The Civilian Marksmanship Program [thecmp.
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than 8,000 U.S. World
War II surplus M1911
pistols, the first of an
estimated 80,000 such
guns CMP will make
available for sale in
coming years. Sold by
mail order, the guns will
be randomly assigned
to approved buyers,
who may purchase one
gun per annum. Among
those for sale are rare
models by Singer, which
made just 500 M1911s
during the war.
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Interview David Mearns
Shipwreck Hunter
How do you research ships you
intend to find?
I rely heavily on public and private
archives and libraries like the U.S. National Archives. Newspapers and books
are helpful, but I primarily focus on
the primary source accounts created by
eyewitnesses to a sinking event. They
almost always contain the most credible and accurate pieces of information.
American-born, U.K.-based marine
scientist, oceanographer, author and
historical researcher David Mearns is
also one of the world’s most experienced
and successful hunters of deep-ocean
shipwrecks. In his new book, The
Shipwreck Hunter: A Lifetime of
Extraordinary Discoveries on the
Ocean Floor (2018), he charts the
course of the quarter-century career that
has led to the discovery of more than
20 major shipwrecks, including the British battlecruiser Hood and Australian
light cruiser Sydney (both sunk during
World War II) and the early 16th century
Portuguese East Indiaman Esmeralda.
His company Blue Water Recoveries
[] has chalked up three
Guinness World Records, and he was a
key member of a team led by Microsoft
co-founder Paul Allen that located and
filmed the World War II Japanese battleship Musashi in 2015.
What is the most interesting
part of the process for you?
The historical research is the most interesting part, as this is when you learn
about the history of a ship, the people
on board and what caused the loss.
It is also interesting when you can locate survivors or descendants, because
then you hear people’s personal stories
and anecdotes. In order for people
to care about a shipwreck, they need
to connect with the human dimension
that comes from these stories.
What is the biggest challenge?
Finding and filming a shipwreck in
thousands of meters of water is extremely challenging, but raising the
money to pay for such expensive expeditions is arguably more challenging.
It is impossible to make a financial
case to find every shipwreck, so you
need to choose the ones with the most
compelling stories—balanced against
the funds required and the confidence
you have that the wreck can be found.
How do you fund your searches
for military shipwrecks, given
the lack of treasure?
It requires a lot of creativity. In the past
television companies, foreign governments and philanthropists have funded
me. Solving mysteries or commemorating anniversaries are often used as
reasons for finding wrecks.
What technologies are most
important in your searches?
Many technologies are used, but the
most essential are those that actually
detect shipwrecks. I generally use sidescanning sonars, but wrecks can be
found using magnetometers, multibeam echosounders, human divers and
drones, and even satellites have been
used in special cases to pinpoint wrecks
in coastal waters. My job is to choose
the right approach for each shipwreck.
Which emerging technologies
are you excited about?
Autonomous underwater vehicle
(AUV) technology has fundamentally changed the way we work, as the
sonars we use to find wrecks are no
longer connected to the surface ship
by a long tow cable. We can now envision a time when these AUVs will
either swim out from the coast under
their own power or be delivered to a
work site far offshore by an autonomous surface vehicle (ASV). The combined use of AUVs and ASVs will at
some point eliminate the need for sending ships and people to sea. For those
Why is it important to locate
and examine historic wrecks?
Shipwrecks are an important part of
our history and cultural heritage. They
are reminders of what life was like in
the past, and they generally describe
extraordinary and tragic events. The
stories told by shipwrecks educate
new generations and help in commemorating the lives of people lost.
Divers excavate the
wreck of Esmeralda, a
16th-century Portuguese
East Indiaman linked to
explorer Vasco da Gama
that Mearns pinpointed
off the coast of Oman.
who love to work at sea this might
seem a sad thing, but it is unstoppable
progress that will benefit all of us.
Which is more useful—
a manned submersible or
a remotely operated vehicle?
Each has its advantages and disadvantages. ROVs are more commonly used
because they are less costly, are greater
in number and can be operated from
different types of vessels. You can also
run an ROV 24 hours a day for days
on end, with many people viewing the
video in real time, whereas a manned
submersible is limited in the small
number of people it can carry, and the
bottom time is limited by the endurance of the batteries and the people.
Are there ethical differences
between exploring a warship
and a commercial vessel?
If people have died in the ships, there
really shouldn’t be any ethical difference between how you treat the wrecks
of a warship and a merchant vessel.
Both need to be treated with a high
degree of sensitivity, and great care
is taken to avoid the disturbance of
human remains. There are fundamental
legal differences, however. Warships
have sovereign immunity, which in
theory should provide a greater degree
of protection, although there have been
recent cases in Indonesia, for example,
where entire warship wrecks have been
salvaged for scrap metal value [see P. 9].
How do you celebrate the
discovery of a ship and still
memorialize its lost crew?
I treat these as two separate things.
Finding a wreck lost for decades or centuries is an achievement deserving celebration. Also, sometimes the precise
moment of discovery is so sudden you
can’t help but become ecstatic. Afterward, however, is the time to honor
those lost by holding memorial services. I care a great deal about the people lost at sea and don’t feel I disrespect
them at all because of the happiness
I feel when their resting place is found.
Have any particular discoveries
struck a chord with you?
HMS Hood, a wreck I found in 2001,
is closest to my heart. That’s because
I had such a close personal relationship
with Ted Briggs, the last living survivor
from Hood’s crew of 1,418 men. Two of
the proudest moments in my life are
when I was able to bring Ted on board
our search vessel when we found Hood,
and in 2015 when we recovered Hood’s
bell, which Ted asked me to do before
he passed away in 2008.
Is there an undiscovered
shipwreck atop your list?
At the top of my list is Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance. In fact, it has been
top of my list since 2003, when I met
Shackleton’s granddaughter Alexandra
and received her family’s blessing to
find and film the wreck, which is 3,000
meters below the ice-covered Weddell
Sea in Antarctica. I was first attracted
to Endurance because it is the ultimate
challenge in terms of looking for a
small wooden shipwreck in one of the
most remote and hard to access places
in the world. Since then I’ve become
a student of Shackleton and a lover of
the Antarctic landscape and icescape.
Would you prioritize efforts to
map in detail the ocean floors?
Absolutely. We like to think we know
everything about our planet, but the
fact is that 71 percent of the earth is
covered by water and only a tiny fraction of the seabed has been mapped
in any great detail. So we literally know
more about the surface of the Moon
and Mars than we do about the surface
of our own planet. That is a staggering
level of ignorance about the seabed and
oceans on which we rely entirely for
life. As [marine biologist and explorer]
Sylvia Earle likes to say “No water,
no life. No blue, no green.” MH
Valor Courage in Kargil
men. The other 15 climbers had to stop
in mid-ascent as Yadav and his section
engaged the Pakistanis. After silencing two enemy positions, the seven
Indians came under repeated counterattack. One by one Yadav’s comrades
were killed in the close-quarters fighting. Twice wounded by grenade shrapnel and shot three times, Yadav crawled
from boulder to boulder and kept firing his weapons and lobbing grenades.
Perhaps believing the grenadiers had
managed to send reinforcements up
the cliff, the Pakistani troops fell back
to the summit.
Realizing he must warn the main
body of grenadiers of the precarious
situation, Yadav used his belt to immobilize his broken left arm and then
crawled along a natural depression
in the mountain face to 18 Grenadiers’
position. There he informed superiYogendra
Yogendra Yadav
ors of enemy strength and impending
Indian Army
counterattacks. In the hours that folbecoming
Param Vir Chakra
lowed, 18 Grenadiers firmed up their
Kashmir, India
those honored have received the award posthumously. position before renewing their assault
July 3–4, 1999
The PVC is awarded for conspicuous bravery in the and capturing Tiger Hill. They prepresence of the enemy. “[It] is awarded for the rarest of rare gallantry which vailed on July 4.
Hospitalized after the battle, Yadav
is beyond the call of duty and which in normal life is considered impossible
to do,” notes retired Maj. Gen. Satbir Singh, a senior fellow with the New Delhi– was accidentally listed as killed in acbased Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses. Retired Maj. Gen. Ian Cardozo tion and quite surprised to learn he’d
been recommended for a posthumous
affirmed the PVC is only given to the “bravest of the brave.”
Yadav, who enlisted in the Indian army at age 16, received the PVC for award of the PVC. His wife of three
his actions during the Kargil War, a conflict instigated in February 1999 when months, who fortunately knew he’d
Pakistani soldiers crossed a 90-mile swath of the de facto border with India to survived, pointed out the error to army
seize mountaintop positions in Kashmir. The extent of their incursion came to officials, who soon determined anlight that May when they ambushed Indian army patrols and called in artillery other man named Yogendra Singh
Yadav had been among the Ghatak
fire on targets along India’s National Highway 1A.
The next month Yadav’s unit—the 18th Battalion, Grenadiers Regiment— platoon members killed in the fightparticipated in an operation to recapture Tololing, a strategic peak overlooking ing. The clerical error corrected, Yadav
the town of Dras (see “Turning Point in Kargil,” by Paraag Shukla, July 2017). later received his PVC in person from
Days later the battalion took on a new assignment—to recapture a steep-sided President K.R. Narayanan.
Yadav spent 16 months recovering
16,500-foot mountain about 8 miles west dubbed “Tiger Hill.” On the night of
July 3, as the main force launched a frontal attack against the peak, a hand- from his severe wounds, having “perpicked Ghatak (Hindi for “lethal”) special operations platoon, comprising formed a feat,” as one Indian historian
22 of the battalion’s fittest soldiers, scaled a near-vertical cliff face to assault put it, “that millions of men in arms
can only dream of.” Yogendra Singh
the snowbound summit. Yadav was the lead climber.
Soon after Yadav and six others reached the top of the cliff, Pakistani troops Yadav remains on active duty with the
detected their approach and rained down small-arms fire and grenades on the Indian army. MH
By Chuck Lyons
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What We Learned From...
The Siege of Kut
By James Byrne
n late April 1916 British Maj. Gen. Charles Townshend rode into captivity
aboard an Ottoman boat up the Tigris River, while the 13,000 surviving men
of his division undertook a brutal march, most later perishing in Turkish
prison camps. The debacle followed what historian Jan Morris dubbed
“the most abject capitulation in Britain’s military history”—the surrender of
the 6th Division of the Indian army at Kut, Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq).
After declaring war on Turkey in November 1914, Britain landed a small
force along the Tigris below Basra that was able to secure both the town and
British-controlled oil facilities against disorganized, poorly led Turkish resistance. However, the British had sacrificed logistical support for speed, thus the
garrison lacked an adequate supply and transportation infrastructure.
In April 1915 the British command, ignoring both the perilous logistical
situation and growing Turkish strength, ordered Townshend’s 6th Division to
continue toward Baghdad. Overcoming supply problems and illness among his
Anglo-Indian troops, Townshend conducted a brilliant campaign against stubborn Turkish resistance to capture the village of Kut, north of Basra. Townshend
was ordered that fall to advance 100 miles farther upriver and take Baghdad.
He came close but was defeated by superior Turkish troops. Forced to withdraw, Townshend’s 16,000 weary troops fought a continuous rearguard action.
On December 3 they stumbled back into Kut, where Townshend holed up and
waited for relief. The village sat within an oxbow of the Tigris, proving both
a strong defensive position and a dangerous cul-de-sac.
The pursuing Ottoman Sixth Army made three unsuccessful attacks against
Kut before its commander elected to besiege the city with a minimal force and
commit the bulk of his 30,000 troops to block British relief efforts. Townshend,
hoping to spark urgency among relief forces, erroneously reported having only
a 30-day food supply (he had about five times that amount). The false alarm
prompted a series of disjointed relief attempts by undermanned and poorly
supplied columns from Basra. Through early April 1916 the British launched
Don’t rest on your laurels
Early tactical successes had emboldened the British, who advanced on
Baghdad with insufficient forces.
Logistics count. The overextended
British supply lines made assaulting
Baghdad all but impossible.
Passivity is not a defense.
Townshend’s decision to hunker
down in Kut allowed the Turks to
dictate the conduct of the campaign.
Maintain the initiative. The
British squandered their last, best
opportunity to relieve Kut through
indecision and rigid adherence to
a plan overcome by events. MH
Soldiers of the 6th (Poona)
Division improvise with
a machine gun during
the 1916 siege of Kut.
more than six such expeditions, most
of which ended in uncoordinated frontal attacks against prepared Turkish
positions—with predictable results.
One night movement brought a British column within striking distance
of a weak Turkish defensive position
just 6 miles from Kut. But British commanders had been ordered to fire an
artillery barrage before each assault. By
the time the guns were brought up, the
Turks had strengthened the position,
and they easily defeated the subsequent British assault.
By late April the besieged force was
out of food and options. Townshend
surrendered his 13,000 men on the
29th. Overall casualty figures among
the relief forces exceeded by double
the number of men they had sought
to rescue.
British forces, under new leadership and with proper equipment and
support, eventually captured Baghdad.
But the British army in Mesopotamia
never recovered the resources, men and
prestige it had lost at Kut.
Spirits Ride High in this Tribute to
Celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the 1953 Ford truck with
this hand-sculpted, 1:36-scale replica featuring
the patriotic artwork of James Griffin!
James Grifin
limited edition
Metallic and high-gloss
paints give it a smooth
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Shown approximate
size of 5½" long
Two American Classics Together for the First Time!
With a distinguished history of
more than 200 years, the United
States Marine Corps is America’s
mightiest ighting force.
Also recognized for years of rugged
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©2018 HC. All Rights Reserved. Ford Motor Company Trademarks and Trade Dress used under license to The Bradford
Exchange. Distributed by The Hamilton Collection. TM or ® Oficially Licensed Product of the United States Marine Corps.
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9204 Center For The Arts Drive, Niles, Illinois 60714-1300
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All orders are subject to product availability and credit approval. Limited to 95 casting days. Allow
6 to 8 weeks for shipment.
Insect-Class Gunboat
By Jon Guttman
Illustration by Paul Wright
hroughout the 19th century
shallow-draft gunboats helped
Western nations project imperial
power deep into subject territories
via their rivers. Yet in December
1904 British First Sea Lord Admiral
Sir John Fisher ordered most of the
Royal Navy’s gunboats scrapped, claiming
that strategically placed cruiser squadrons
rendered them obsolete. World War I soon
proved Fisher wrong, as the need to secure
such maritime thoroughfares as Lake Tanganyika and the Danube, Tigris and Euphrates rivers revived the need for well-armed,
shallow-draft vessels.
Standing out among the British gunboats
were the dozen Insect-class vessels (Aphis,
Bee, Cicala, Cockchafer, Cricket, Glowworm,
Gnat, Ladybird, Mantis, Moth, Scarab and
Tarantula) built between February 1915
and March 1916. Half of them were still
serving in World War II.
HMS Moth led a particularly varied career.
Laid down in March 1915 and launched
that October, it was designated for service in
China, but soon after its commissioning on
Jan. 5, 1916, it was sent to the Persian Gulf
to join the Tigris River flotilla on the Mesopotamian campaign (see P. 18). Helmed by
Lt. Cmdr. Charles H.A. Cartwright, it helped
the British retake Kut on Feb. 23, 1917, followed by Baghdad on March 11. Reassigned
to support the North Russia Intervention
against the Bolsheviks, Moth arrived at Archangel in June 1919 and operated along the
Dvina River until British forces withdrew at
year’s end. By 1920 the gunboat was in China,
where it served until Dec. 12, 1941, when scuttled off Hong Kong. But this Moth had an afterlife. The Japanese raised the gunboat, renamed
it Suma and used it against Chinese insurgents
on the Yangtze River. Suma survived numerous
attacks by Allied aircraft, but on March 19,
1945, it struck a naval mine off Anqing and
sank with the loss of eight crewmen. MH
Length: 237 feet 6 inches
Beam: 36 feet 1 inch
Draft: 4 feet
Displacement: 645 tons
Power: Two Yarrow water-tube boilers
Propulsion: Two expansion turbines driving
in-turning propeller shafts
Speed: 14 knots
Armament: Two BL 6-inch Mark VII guns,
two 12-pounders, six Maxim machine guns
Complement: 55
1. Crew’s heads
2. After BL 6-inch Mark VII gun
3. Maxim machine gun battery
(three on each side)
4. Wireless cabin
5. Bridge wing
6. Funnel
7. Mainmast
8. Searchlight platform and
fire-control position
9. Bridge
10. Wardroom
11. Forward 12-pounder gun
12. Forward BL 6-inch Mark VII gun
13. Ventilators
14. Officers’ heads
15. Officers’ cabin
16. Captain’s cabin
17. Forward magazine
18. Boiler room
19. Turbine room
20. Exhaust vents
21. Boat deck
22. Propeller shaft (starboard)
23. Rudder (one of three)
A 1st Infantry Division soldier hurls a fragmentation
grenade at enemy troops in 1967. Some U.S. soldiers
used the lethal weapon to ‘frag’ their own superiors.
What was it about the war that prompted
a horrific rise in ‘fraggings’—the murders
of officers and NCOs by their own men?
By Hamilton Gregory
Locklin was the perpetrator of
a crime that was all too common
during America’s long war in Vietnam. “Fragging,” as it became widely
known, was the murder or attempted
murder of officers or NCOs by their own troops.
The term derived from the frequent use of a fragmentation grenade, which the assailant would roll or throw
into the area where his superior was sleeping. Although
the M26 and M67 were often the weapons of choice—
they left no fingerprints—fraggers also resorted to other
devices, including Claymore mines, booby traps, dynamite, rifles and pistols. Fraggings occurred in two locales
—in camps (where explosives were preferred) and in
jungles or rice paddies (where bullets were preferred).
Attacks were most common in Army and Marine Corps
units and rare in the Air Force and Navy. In addition to
actual attacks, wartime records allude to thousands of
threats never carried out.
During the Vietnam War assailants carried out nearly
800 confirmed fraggings or attempted fraggings, killing
86 men and wounding an estimated 700. “But this was
probably only the tip of a deadly iceberg,” says historian
James Westheider. Thousands of additional attacks may
never have come to light. Some may have been falsely
reported as accidents, to spare family members the pain
of knowing a fellow soldier had slain their loved one.
Still other fraggings may have been known only to the
killer, as when a soldier covertly shot a superior on
the battlefield. Vietnam veteran Micheal Clodfelter, a
researcher for the Dupuy Institute, estimates that about
5,000 such fraggings went unrecorded, though there is
no way to quantify that number.
Given the lack of definitive forensic evidence, most
fraggers escaped arrest or conviction, says Army veteran
George Lepre, author of Fragging: Why U.S. Soldiers
Assaulted Their Officers in Vietnam. Although Lepre was
obviously unable to study those who “got away” with
murder, he did research the cases of 71 men convicted
of assaults with explosives in Vietnam. He found that
56 percent were white, 36 percent black, and 8 percent
Hispanic. The typical fragger was 19 or 20 years old, a
high-school dropout and a frequent consumer of excessive amounts of drugs and alcohol. He often came from
a dysfunctional family and had been in legal trouble
before entering the service (often for such offenses as
burglary and drug trafficking). Lepre concluded the convicted fraggers were troubled men before they arrived
in Vietnam and “became further troubled by Vietnam.”
Drugs and alcohol—with their tendency to reduce inhibitions and cloud one’s thinking—played a major role
in most known cases of fragging in Vietnam. In the
early years of the war GIs in-country could buy marijuana, amphetamines, barbiturates, opium and hallucinogens at low cost. In 1969 heroin made the scene.
Extremely pure, highly addictive and cheaper than
marijuana, it soon became the most destructive of all
substances. In 1971 the military reported an estimated
60,000 U.S. servicemen in Vietnam were addicted to
heroin. Each year dozens of them died from overdoses.
In 1971 fewer than 5,000 GIs were hospitalized for battle
injuries, while 20,529 were hospitalized for “serious
drug abuse.”
Some fraggers were so drug-impaired they gave themselves away. In the early hours of April 21, 1969, Marine
Pvt. Reginald F. Smith killed his company commander,
1st Lt. Robert T. Rohweller, by throwing a grenade beneath the cot on which the officer was sleeping. When
a sergeant subsequently ordered a company formation,
apt. Scott Edward Schneider, the 25-year-old
commander of a U.S. Army artillery battery
in Vietnam’s Quang Ngai province in 1970,
was described by subordinates as a “good
guy”—competent in his leadership and fair
in his discipline. But at 1:40 in the morning
on Aug. 17, 1970, while he was sleeping,
a fellow American threw a fragmentation
grenade into his quarters. The explosion killed Schneider instantly. The Army charged one of the captain’s
own men, Pvt. David K. Locklin, with his murder.
Enlisted men who had worked alongside Locklin
described him as a “druggie.” The 19-year-old private
had been a heavy user of hashish, LSD and methamphetamines before arriving Vietnam. His drug use had since
expanded to include the daily consumption of an entire
6-ounce bottle of the liquid amphetamine Obesitol.
Locklin was often absent from duty, preferring to
spend his days in a nearby village under the protection
of Marines, where he would “smoke opium with the
old men,” recalled one of his platoon mates. Due to
his drug use and chronic absences, he’d been assigned
menial chores and prohibited from operating complex
artillery. His absences ultimately prompted Schneider
to demote him three grades from Specialist (E-4) to
Private (E-1). “The few times Locklin showed up to
work, he complained about the captain hassling him,”
said another platoon mate, who believes Locklin’s
motive for killing Schneider was “nonsensical drugaddled grudges.” At his court-martial Locklin
pleaded guilty to unpremeditated murder. Sentenced to 25 years at hard
labor, he was released in 1979,
having served just eight years and
seven months.
Smith was caught literally red-handed—the grenade pin
still dangling from an index finger. “He was probably
higher than a kite,” his defense attorney stated. Smith
was convicted and sentenced to 40 years behind bars.
He also did not serve out his time—a dozen years into
his sentence a fellow inmate murdered him.
Although drugs were a major factor in most fraggings,
racial tensions played a part in some cases. In the early
morning hours of March 15, 1971, someone threw a
grenade into a sleeping area at the Army base in Bien
Hoa, killing Lts. Thomas A. Dellwo and Richard E. Harlan, both of whom were white. Soon thereafter a black
private, Billy Dean Smith, was arrested and charged with
two counts of murder. The prosecution contended
Dellwo and Harlan were not the killer’s intended victims;
the actual targets, they said, were company commander
Capt. Randall L. Rigby and 1st Sgt. Billie Willis, with
whom Smith had repeatedly clashed, allegedly over their
racist treatment of Smith.
Clockwise from top left: Drug abuse was a major factor in fraggings;
exhaustion prompted by the rigors of jungle warfare also played a role;
field bunkers occupied by NCOs and officers were vulnerable to attack.
Due to the racial overtones, the case received international attention, and the trial was moved from Vietnam
to Fort Ord, Calif. The prosecution produced a grenade
pin it said was found in Smith’s pocket shortly after the
attack, though the defense argued the pin had been
planted on Smith by investigators. The only reason Smith
had been fingered, the defense argued, was that he had
made antiwar statements before the murders. Black
Scholar magazine suggested he’d been deemed the “logical guilty party” because he was “a black GI with a bad
attitude.” In the end a court-martial panel of seven officers
found him not guilty.
“Perpetrators [of fraggings] often neglected to isolate
their intended targets,” author Lepre notes, “and, as a
result, innocent bystanders were killed or injured.” In
1969 Battery D of the 11th Marines at Phu Lac received
a new commander, a first lieutenant who immediately
cracked down on discipline. That made him unpopular
with certain Marines, and there was talk of fragging him.
On the night of February 27 someone
threw a grenade into the quarters where
the lieutenant usually slept. As fate would
have it, the officer was sleeping elsewhere
that night, and the explosion instead killed
1st Sgt. Warren R. Furse, a beloved, fatherly NCO scheduled to return home
to his wife and children a few days later.
No one was ever convicted of the killing.
Motives for fragging generally fell into
two broad categories. The first was anger
and resentment over real or perceived harsh
discipline. One notable strict disciplinarian was Roy Moore (the 2017 candiDeveloped after World
date for a U.S. Senate seat from Alabama),
War II as a replacement
who in 1971 was an Army captain and infor the classic Mk 2
“pineapple” grenade, the coming commander of the 188th Military
M26 and M26A1 both saw Police Company near Da Nang. Moore
service in Vietnam. They
soon discovered some of his MPs had seriwere the weapons most
used in fraggings, though ous drug and alcohol problems, and he
the term was also applied freely filed disciplinary charges against
to attacks using firearms. substance abusers and insubordinate sol-
M26 Frag
While troops in rear areas
lived relatively well, combat
imposed harsh conditions
on those at the “sharp end.”
diers alike. As a result, “Captain America” was threatened with fragging. “I became a marked man,” he recalled
in his autobiography, So Help Me God. Moore refused to
soften discipline. He did, however, take precautionary
measures: “I placed sandbags under the bed and in the
walls of my quarters.”
Moore learned “a known drug user by the name of
Kidwell” was planning to kill him. “Several weeks passed
before I was called one evening and informed that Kidwell had shot 1st Sgt. Howard and was coming for me.
Armed with an automatic rifle and my .45-caliber pistol,
I proceeded to company headquarters, only to find that
Kidwell had been taken into custody and was sitting in
my office. I made arrangements for a prompt court-martial
and was relieved that 1st Sgt. Howard had survived.”
The second category of motives for fragging was selfprotection—the near-universal desire to survive the
war. Especially hated was “the glory hound,” an overly
aggressive superior who put the lives of his men at unnecessary risk in order to gain praise, win medals and
advance his own career. “The new lieutenant comes in,
all gung-ho for body count,” reflected former Army
Lt. Vincent Okamoto in an interview for the Ken Burns
documentary The Vietnam War. “He wants contact. He
goes crazy and says, ‘I want a volunteer for this—I’ll
commit you to this.’ That new gung-ho officer is a clear
and present danger to the life and limb of the grunts.
The men would give subtle hints, like a little note saying,
‘We’re going to kill your ass if you keep this up.’ Or
instead of a fragmentation grenade, they might throw
a smoke grenade in an officer’s hooch or bunker. And
if he didn’t correct his behavior and outlook, yeah, they
would frag them.”
Author Eugene Linden, who wrote a 1971 Saturday
Review article about the demoralization of U.S. troops
in Vietnam, told of one company commander, a hardcharging captain in the 23rd Infantry Division (“Americal”), who was injured when he fell on a sharpened bamboo booby trap known as a punji stick. The accident
removed him from combat and may also have saved
him from being murdered. “I don’t think there was a
single man in this unit who wasn’t thrilled when he fell
on that stick,” a medic confided to Linden. “He was constantly putting his men in danger, and he just lacked
common sense. That punji stick just cut short the talk
of fragging him.”
As it was often difficult to discern who fired at whom
during combat, rifles were the most common weapon
used by infantrymen seeking to frag “bad officers” in
the course of field operations. “Sometimes, an errant
bullet struck an incompetent fool amid a firefight,”
notes author and former infantry officer Robert Nylen.
“Problem solved. Next?”
Among those Linden interviewed was a disabled
man in a stateside Veterans Administration hospital.
Though facing a determined enemy and often confusing tactical goals, with their political and military leaders often at odds,
the majority of U.S. military personnel in Vietnam served with honor. Bottom right: In the most publicized fragging case of the
Vietnam War, Pvt. Billy Dean Smith (sitting beside political activist Angela Davis) was ultimately acquitted of murder in 1972.
The veteran confided that when he was in Vietnam,
he had killed a sergeant without getting caught. He’d
shot the NCO during a firefight, as he felt the man’s
inability to read a map was “getting good men in the
unit killed.” Linden noted the veteran expressed zero
shame or remorse.
The very threat of fragging was enough to undermine
discipline. In his 1971 article Linden wrote that in parts
of Vietnam the threat “stirs more fear among officers
and NCOs than does the war with ‘Charlie.’” As an
Army judge in Vietnam, former Capt. Barry Steinberg
presided over several fragging trials. Death threats,
he explained to Linden, were “the troops’ way of controlling officers.” Many cowed superiors subsequently
declined to give orders that might incite subordinates
to frag them. Discipline went to hell.
factor was a noticeable decline in the quality of recruits
inducted from 1966 to 1973.
President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense
Robert McNamara initially sought to wage the war without upsetting the powerful middle-class voting block,
so they allowed college students to use educational
deferments to avoid the draft and shielded most of the
Most military historians agree that while the murder
of officers and NCOs has occurred in all wars, it was
far more frequent during the last years of the Vietnam
War. What was different about Vietnam? The availability
of hard drugs was clearly a contributing cause. Another
1 million men in the National Guard and Reserves from
being called to active duty. That left the bulk of the fighting to volunteers and draftees from working-class and
poor families.
But as the war dragged on, manpower pools diminished, and in 1966 Johnson and McNamara had to find
‘When those people came to
Vietnam, that’s when disciplinary
problems began on the battlefield’
a way to get more troops into combat. McNamara’s solution was to lower mental standards for entrance into the
armed forces. Under his controversial Project 100,000—
billed as a “social betterment” program—the defense
secretary brought in a total of 354,000 low-IQ men over
a five-year period. Some fared well in the service, but a
significant number had difficulties handling stress and
controlling impulses. They were more likely than other
soldiers to commit such infractions as insubordination,
desertion and assault.
While “McNamara’s Morons” did bolster the number
of troops in Vietnam, there were not enough of them to
offset an unexpected manpower shortage in 1968–69,
when 28,679 men died in combat and tens of thousands
more were wounded. In desperation the Pentagon again
lowered the bar to cull another group of dubious draftees: criminals, drug addicts and psychologically disturbed misfits. Derided after the war by Marine Corps
Commandant General Louis H. Wilson Jr. as “the dregs
of society,” these men would never have been inducted
under normal circumstances. Some historians blame the
reprobates for a precipitous decline in military discipline
over the closing years of the war.
Though felons were supposed to have been disqualified from service, recruiters and induction centers were
given the authority to grant “moral waivers” to enlist
them. In a common scenario a judge would work with
a recruiter and give a young offender a choice—go to jail
or join the Army or Marine Corps. Dr. Douglas Bey Jr.,
a former captain and combat psychiatrist for the 1st Infantry Division, tells of one unpopular soldier, a troublemaker who had entered the Army after being told by a
judge he could choose jail or military service. While still
in training, he attacked a sergeant, and the Army gave
Most U.S. troops in Vietnam were young, and many were draftees (above
and opposite), while targets of fraggings were usually older professionals.
Opposite bottom: Long Binh Jail held many of those accused of fragging.
raise standards and exclude problematic
individuals like those who had caused trouble in Vietnam. The draft had already ended
in 1973, giving rise to the all-volunteer
armed forces. As a result, contend some historians, incidences of fragging have been
rare since Vietnam.
What happened to the Vietnam fraggers?
him the choice between a court-martial or Vietnam.
“His infantry unit in Vietnam made him a point man,”
Bey notes, “hoping to get rid of him.” The troublemaker
survived leading his unit into combat and was even
decorated. Unable to rise above his rough nature, however, he later murdered an NCO and was imprisoned.
Other men were inducted despite having civilian
records of mental illness. Army veteran and retired physicist Fred Gray recalled one such man: “As a brand-new
company commander of an engineer unit in Vietnam
in 1968, I was getting a tour of our rock quarry unit. The
first sergeant, platoon sergeant and I had taken coffee in
the mess tent and were exiting when one of the soldiers
opened fire on us with his carbine. He was about 10 feet
away, got off three shots before he was tackled, missed
everyone. He never did explain his actions other than
repeatedly saying, ‘I hate this f---ing war.’”
General William Westmoreland, commander of U.S.
forces in Vietnam, was appalled by the presence of
“weak-minded, criminal, untrained” men in the ranks
in the latter years of the war. “When those people came
to Vietnam,” he recalled, “that’s when disciplinary problems began on the battlefield.”
Sharing Westmoreland’s outrage were many other
Vietnam-era military leaders, who campaigned to change
manpower policies after the war. Efforts were made to
Armies Reflect Society
Military forces mirror
the nations they serve.
Vietnam was a divisive
issue for America, and
the fissures at home
were also present
among the troops.
Perceptions Matter
NCOs and officers
seen by their troops
as incompetent or
as “glory hounds” out
for their own advancement at the expense of
their men were far more
likely to be fragged.
Murder Is Murder
No amount of after-thefact rationalization can
ever justify the unlawful
killing of a fellow warrior.
Fragging is murder.
Of the 71 convicted men Lepre studied, all
had left prison by 1982. “A number of the
men,” he notes, “wound up either homeless,
dead or, most commonly, back behind bars.
Four are known to have committed homicides after leaving military confinement.”
One atypical inmate was a model prisoner
who expressed deep remorse for the “horrible, inexcusable crime” he had committed
and, to all appearances, became a dedicated
family man and law-abiding citizen.
As for the victims of fraggers, they have
not been forgotten. Joseph Romatowski, a
veteran who served under and admired the
slain Capt. Schneider, wrote of seeking out the murdered
officer’s name during visits to the Vietnam Veterans
Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.:
“When I find it, I touch the letters chiseled into the cool
dark granite and tell Scott how sorry I am that life was
taken from him prematurely—and so stupidly. I ask that
God grant peace and understanding to his parents.” MH
Hamilton Gregory, a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam
War, is author of McNamara’s Folly: The Use of Low-IQ
Troops in the Vietnam War, Plus the Induction of Unfit
Men, Criminals and Misfits. For further reading he recommends Fragging: Why U.S. Soldiers Assaulted Their
Officers in Vietnam, by George Lepre, and Not a Gentleman’s War: An Inside View of Junior Officers in the
Vietnam War, by Ron Milam.
In the lull between world wars, Paraguay and
Bolivia battled over a wasteland of desert scrub,
deadly reptiles and rumored oil deposits
By P.G. Smith
Bolivian gunners engage
Paraguayan bombers early
in the 1932–35 Chaco War,
which was a proving ground
for a range of new weapons,
including combat aircraft.
In the belief open warfare in the Chaco was only a matter
of time, both Paraguay and Bolivia accelerated efforts
to modernize their military forces. The Bolivian army,
which numbered about 8,600 men in 1927, had begun
its campaign of modernization in the early 1900s, eventually under the tutelage of a German military mission
under Major Hans Kundt, a competent, if unimaginative,
administrator and drillmaster. After commanding a
German brigade in combat against the Russians during
World War I, General Kundt returned to Bolivia. (Among
his officers was Ernst Röhm, who would later achieve
notoriety in Nazi Germany as the commander of the
Sturmabteilung, Adolf Hitler’s infamous “Brownshirts.”)
In addition to modern infantry rifles and field artillery,
Bolivia acquired a variety of heavy and light machine
guns and anti-aircraft weapons. It also invested in flamethrowers, Vickers armored vehicles and a number of
combat and transport aircraft.
The Paraguayan army, which by 1927 numbered little
more than 2,700 men, sent its officers to study at military
academies in Argentina, France and Chile. Its quartermasters had purchased Mauser rifles, Maxim machine
guns, Krupp field artillery and Stokes-Brandt 81 mm
mortars, the latter of which would prove highly effective
in the low, dense scrub of the Chaco. Paraguay acquired
a limited number of biplane fighters and transport air-
outh America’s Chaco Boreal is a deadly place. Temperatures often reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit in
the flat, arid region approximately the size of Oregon. The “Green Hell,” as it is known, is home to
more than 60 species of snakes, armies of fire ants and jaguars that can strike in a flash. Historically,
Paraguay and Bolivia both laid half-hearted claim to this desolate region, which forms a rough triangle
bound by the Pilcomayo River to the southwest, the Paraguay River to the east and the foothills of
the Andes to the north. But no one, other than small bands of nomadic Amerindians, paid much
attention to the Chaco.
All that changed in the years between the world wars.
In the interest of maintaining their respective claims to the region, Paraguay and Bolivia established small
outposts, or fortines, throughout the Chaco. These positions often comprised little more than a few mud huts,
barbed wire entanglements and a flagpole. The rival nations also periodically sent out small patrols to probe
the other’s positions. Inevitably these patrols collided with one another, escalating tensions.
In February 1927 soldiers at a Bolivian outpost captured a five-man Paraguayan patrol and later killed its
commander, Lt. Adolfo Rojas Silva, reportedly as he attempted to escape. Bolivia notified Paraguay of Silva’s death
and repatriated the prisoners. Though outrage rocked the Paraguayan capital of Asunción, cooler heads prevailed,
and diplomats negotiated a peaceful resolution. Still, the incident inflamed the smoldering hostility between the
adversarial nations, and each added outposts in the Chaco.
craft, while its navy invested in two state-of-the-art Italian
gunboats to augment the fleet securing the Paraguay River.
Though anger over the death of Lt. Silva subsided,
further clashes again brought the nations to the brink
of war. In December 1928 a Paraguayan battalion seized
a Bolivian outpost along the Paraguay River at Vanguardia. In response a Bolivian division attacked and
occupied several Paraguayan positions, including the
stronghold of Boquerón, a few hundred miles northwest
of Asunción. Through the auspices of the Pan-American
Union (a precursor to the Organization of American
States), concerned neighbor states assembled a Commission of Neutrals—comprising representatives from
Cuba, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay and the United States
—and met in Washington, D.C., to negotiate a settlement. Within months Paraguay and Bolivia reached
accord, withdrew forces and exchanged prisoners, once
again averting war.
Years earlier Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey had discovered rich petroleum deposits in the Bolivian foothills
of the Andes, and its engineers had since speculated that
the oil deposits probably extended beneath the dry, sandy
plains of the Chaco to the south, a prospect that further
boosted Bolivia’s interest in asserting control over the
region. Meanwhile, Standard’s Anglo-Dutch rival Royal
Dutch Shell had made lucrative offers to the Paraguayan
government for rights to drill for oil under the same
tangled scrubland west of the Paraguay River.
The Paraguayan government was also engaged in
Chaco land sales, a much-needed source of revenue.
Argentinean investors had purchased large tracts of
grassland near rivers to support livestock ranches. In a
Opposite left: The Paraguayan flag marks a remote and crudely fortified
Chaco outpost. Above left: Bolivian draftees are trucked off to training.
Above: Paraguayan soldiers cautiously advance on a Bolivian position.
rather incongruous development, Canadian Mennonite
farmers had negotiated with Paraguay to purchase land
for a self-governing religious colony in the arid heart of
the Chaco. It had since drawn thousands of Mennonites
from Germany, Switzerland and Russia. Were Paraguay
to forfeit control of the Chaco, it would
forgo revenue from similar sales.
National pride also played an important
role in the rivals’ claims to the region. Paraguay had suffered humiliating defeat in
the disastrous 1864–70 War of the Triple
Alliance, in which megalomaniacal Paraguayan President Francisco Solano López
had taken on the combined forces of Brazil, Soldiers fighting in the
Argentina and Uruguay. By the time Para- Chaco faced more than
guay finally surrendered, it had lost nearly combat, murderous heat
three-quarters of its population, and the and scant potable water.
The region is home to
victorious allies were preparing to carve up a host of deadly predaParaguayan territory. Only the interven- tors—including jaguars
tion of U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes and cougars—as well
saved Paraguay as a sovereign entity, but as poison dart frogs,
fire ants, piranhas
its territory was significantly reduced, and and some 60 species
it was saddled with heavy war debt. Para- of venomous snakes.
guayan patriotism, which ran strong in
its people, would not allow another such loss of territory—not without a fight.
Likewise, Bolivia had endured a humiliating loss to
Chile in the 1879–83 War of the Pacific. Bolivia was
Other Enemies
A Bolivian mortar crew poses
for a photographer perched
on a handy tree stump. Highangle-of-fire weapons such as
mortars and howitzers were
especially effective in the
Chaco’s tangled scrubland.
forced to cede Antofagasta Province—its Pacific Ocean
shoreline—thus becoming a landlocked nation in need
of a route to the sea by which to export its valuable petroleum. The Chaco provided just such a potential route to
the Atlantic Ocean by way of the Paraguay River. Bolivia,
whose population was nearly three times that of Paraguay,
could not concede to its weaker neighbor’s provocative
claim to the Chaco without swallowing its pride.
Adding to the renewed interest in the Chaco, a 1931
Paraguayan military mapping expedition to the region
made a startling discovery. Under the leadership of exiled
White Russian Maj. Gen. Ivan Belyaev (aka Juan Belaieff),
the survey team stumbled on Lake Pitiantutá, a large
body of fresh water in the midst of the parched, desolate
plains. Such an abundant supply of potable water could
open the central Chaco to travel, settlement and the
establishment of military fortifications. Belyaev’s hasty
construction of Fort Carlos Antonio López, a small outpost along the lakeshore, soon drew Bolivia’s attention.
In what may have stemmed from a miscommunication
between the Bolivian army and its government, a Bolivian
military expedition seized Fort Carlos Antonio López
in June 1932. Intentional or not, the assault prompted
a counterattack a month later by Paraguayan forces,
who drove the Bolivians from the lake. Bolivian President Daniel Salamanca then yielded to popular pressure
for war with Paraguay and authorized a force of 10,000
troops to seize the fortifications around Boquerón. The
offensive easily routed the Paraguayan garrisons and
captured the town, leaving little to prevent the Bolivians
from marching on the Paraguayan city of Concepcíon
and the key logistics base of Puerto Casado on the Paraguay River. It appeared Bolivia would secure a quick
victory over its smaller foe.
Paraguayan leaders called for full national mobilization. The people responded patriotically, even donating
household possessions and wedding rings to the war effort. In a stroke of good fortune for Paraguay, heavy rains
turned the Chaco’s few roads into muddy quagmires, temporarily halting the Bolivian advance. But perhaps the
best luck for Paraguay was the emergence of Lt. Col. José
Félix Estigarribia as operational commander of its army.
In a culture that revered the imposing, powerful caudillo,
or strongman, Estigarribia was an unlikely choice for command. He was relatively small in stature and reportedly a
man of few words. The son of a peasant silversmith, he
had planned to study agriculture before opting for a military career. The 44-year-old colonel had attended France’s
vaunted Saint-Cyr military academy and spent time as a
frontline observer during World War I. Though he had
little practical combat experience, he was a keen strategist.
In early September, taking advantage of the pause in
the Bolivian onslaught, Estigarribia rapidly mobilized
and concentrated 13,000 Paraguayan troops to retake
Boquerón. After three unsuccessful and costly frontal
assaults on the Bolivians’ fortified positions, the Paraguayan commander shifted tactics. While fixing the
Bolivian defense with frontal pressure, Estigarribia slowly infiltrated around the enemy
flanks to envelop the defenders and cut off
their supply line. In the torrid heat the besieged Bolivians soon ran out of water, and BOLIVIAN TROOPS
supplies of food and ammunition dwindled
rapidly. In mid-September the Paraguayans
cut off a Bolivian relief column before it could
reach Boquerón. Bolivian aircraft tried to
drop ammunition, rations, medicine and,
ingeniously, blocks of ice as a water supply,
but the airdrops often fell within Paraguayan
lines. On September 29, after a three-week
siege, Boquerón capitulated. As the victorious Paraguayans made their way through
the pockmarked defenses to reclaim the outpost, they were shocked at the skeletal appearance of
the 466 surviving Bolivian defenders, who begged their
captors for water.
After retaking Boquerón, newly promoted Col. Estigarribia sustained the momentum by pushing westward
toward the Pilcomayo River, driving Bolivian forces out
of 15 successive defensive positions and away from Paraguayan population centers. In December seasonal rains
brought offensive operations to a halt, as dirt roads in
the region became impassable.
Chaco War
Estigarribia’s adaptability as a military leader was one
of several factors working in his favor. Most important,
he benefited from relatively short lines of communication. Paraguayan troops and supplies traveled by steamer
up the Paraguay River, accompanied by the navy gunboats, then transferred to a narrow-gauge railway that
ran west roughly 100 miles into the Chaco. The rough
last leg to the front was either on foot, pack mule or
jolting Ford trucks. The entire journey took about four
days, whereas it took weeks of hard travel for Bolivian
troops to reach the Chaco front.
1932–35 CHACO WAR
atural resources and national pride were the primary catalysts
of this nearly three-year clash over a region that at first blush
seems little worth the bother. The semi-arid Chaco Boreal is
among the least populated regions in South America—aside
from its predatory cats, venemous snakes and poison frogs.
Beneath the surface, however, lies a plentiful supply of oil
and natural gas. In the early 20th century competing oil companies
raised the prospect of such riches with officials in neighboring Bolivia
and Paraguay. Bolivia, cut off from the Pacific Ocean after its humiliating
loss to Chile in a prior war, also saw a possible route to the Atlantic in
the Paraguay River, which borders the Chaco Boreal to the east.
In 1932, after several scrapes between troops patrolling the region,
Bolivia seized the Paraguayan garrison at Fort Carlos Antonio López,
then launched a full-scale offensive bid for the Chaco. Paraguay, depopulated and indebted by its own war losses, was not about to cede
its claim. Despite inferior forces and early setbacks, it made steady
inroads and by 1935 had pushed Bolivia out of the region. MH
C. Pushback to Andes
Though agreeing to a truce in late
1933, Bolivia and Paraguay each
used the respite to rebuild troop
strength in anticipation of spring
offensives. The Paraguayans proved
more aggressive, and in a series of
measured actions they drove the
Bolivians back toward the Andes.
Shrugging off a setback at Cañada
Strongest, Estigarribia bottled up the
Bolivians at Ballivián by fall 1934.
D. Ballivián Endgame
While pinning the main enemy
army against the Pilcomayo River,
Estigarribia sent a decoy force
north to threaten Bolivia’s oil
reserves. The ruse worked, drawing
thousands of Bolivian troops on a
chase far from Ballivián. It soon fell,
leaving Paraguay in possession of
the Chaco, though the subsequent
treaty granted Bolivia its coveted
corridor to the Paraguay River.
Chaco Boreal
A semi-arid region of some 100,000 square miles (roughly the size of the state
of Oregon), the Chaco Boreal is split between open scrubland to the east and
the low forestland of the Andean foothills to the west. Its allure lies underground.
Asunción to Ballivián
335 miles/540 km
A. Paraguay’s Edge
Though Paraguay fielded a smaller
army than that of Bolivia and was
slower to modernize its military,
it did have an able commander in
José Félix Estigarribia. Paraguay
also boasted the logistical edge;
its relatively short line of supply
and communication ran north
from Asunción up the Paraguay
River to Port Casado, then west on
narrow-gauge rails into the Chaco.
B. Seesaw at Nanawa
In early 1933 General Hans Kundt,
Bolivia’s German-born commander,
checked the Paraguayan advance at
Nanawa and nearly encircled his foe.
But the ever-resourceful Estigarribia slipped the noose. By year’s
end he’d turned the tables on
Kundt, retaking ground, capturing
scores of prisoners and prompting
mutiny in the Bolivian ranks. The
heavy losses led Kundt to resign.
Estigarribia’s troops also proved more capable than those of his opponent. The homogenous composition of the Paraguayan army
Logistics First
reflected a society that celebrated its mestizo
The battle for the
(mixed European and Amerindian) heritage.
Chaco Boreal required
Almost every Paraguayan proudly claimed
Paraguay and Bolivia
descent from both Spanish settlers and into move thousands
digenous Guaraní people, thus both offiof men and tons of
armaments and gear
cers and soldiers shared a common culture.
into and around one
In addition, most Paraguayan troops were
of the planet’s least
hospitable battlefields. hardy campesinos, or peasants, accustomed to
tropical heat, primitive conditions and hard
Misdirection Works
work. Although they were poorly equipped,
Estigarribia’s feint
toward Bolivia’s oil
often lacking even shoes, Paraguayan soldiers
fields forced Peñaranda proved determined, resourceful and resilient.
to withdraw troops
The Bolivian army, by contrast, was led
from Ballivián.
an officer corps drawn mainly from the
Defeat Breeds Reform
criollo (full-blooded Spanish) class, while the
The Chaco War was a
defeat for Bolivia, but
rank and file largely comprised indigenous
the loss led to longAndeans. The latter were more acclimated
overdue social reforms
to temperate, hilly conditions than the dusty,
that empowered the
oppressive heat of the Chaco. While ParaAndean population.
guayan troops fought to defend their home
turf, Bolivian soldiers were thrust into a war for possession of an inhospitable wasteland with little personal
meaning for them.
In what proved another significant advantage, Estigarribia had the full confidence and trust of Paraguay’s
military high command and civilian leadership, while
President Eusebio Ayala allowed the colonel the freedom
to command without political interference. To his army’s
detriment, Bolivian President Salamanca continuously
meddled with and criticized his commanders.
Bolivia faced another sort of leadership crisis. In early
1932 President Salamanca had recalled General Kundt
from exile related to a military coup two years earlier.
If that weren’t shaky enough ground, many Bolivian commanders took umbrage at the appointment of a gringo
At Campo Vía the Paraguayans
killed some 2,700 Bolivians
and captured another 4,800
as senior commander. The 63-year-old German general
was either oblivious or unconcerned. During the rainy
season he organized a force of 12,000 troops in the Chaco,
and in January 1933 he launched an offensive against the
Paraguayan fortifications around Nanawa, very nearly
managing to encircle the defenders. The resourceful Paraguayans, however, mounted successful counterattacks
against the Bolivians, who repeatedly proved unable to
coordinate their forces at the point of attack. The Paraguayans took hundreds of prisoners, further degrading
morale in the Bolivian ranks. In March four Bolivian
regiments mutinied, the men returning to their home
villages in the Andes.
Promoted to general that fall, Estigarribia launched
a pincer movement against Bolivian positions around
Nanawa. In a decisive clash at the Campo Vía pocket on
December 11 the Paraguayans killed some 2,700 Bolivians
and captured another 4,800, while seizing 536 light and
heavy machine guns, 20 artillery pieces, 25 mortars and
two tanks. A disgraced Kundt tendered his resignation.
Believing the war all but over, Paraguayan President
Ayala agreed to a truce on December 19 in order to negotiate a peace agreement. The Bolivian army’s new commander, General Enrique Peñaranda, instead used the
respite to reconstitute and resupply forces, raising troop
strength to more than 15,000. No settlement was forthcoming, and the truce expired.
Also taking advantage of the truce, Estigarribia had
assembled a force of some 28,000 Paraguayans, resolving
to drive the Bolivians finally from the Chaco. In a series
of steady actions, the Paraguayans pressed the Bolivians
northwest toward the Andes foothills and the banks of
the Pilcomayo. With each successful push, however,
the thinner Estigarribia’s supply lines stretched over the
dirt roads of the Chaco. That May in a valley known
as Cañada Strongest the Bolivians lured the advancing
Paraguayans into a trap, encircling a force of more than
1,500 troops, who had no choice but to surrender.
Despite the loss, the Paraguayans inexorably pressed
the Bolivians back toward their heavily fortified position
at Ballivián on the Pilcomayo. Estigarribia, perhaps impatient to bring the war to a close, launched a series of
costly frontal assaults that Peñaranda readily repulsed.
The Paraguayan commander then devised a clever plan.
While maintaining pressure on Ballivián, Estigarribia sent
a strong column north to threaten the crucial oil fields
in Bolivia’s Santa Cruz Department, forcing Peñaranda
to transfer troops from Ballivián to check the Paraguayan
threat. To ensure Bolivian forces remained distracted, Estigarribia instructed his subordinate commander in the
north to retreat, thus drawing the Bolivians into pursuit
increasingly farther from Ballivián. Only then did Estigarribia strike the fortifications at Ballivián, killing 2,669
Bolivians, capturing more than 4,000 and seizing millions
of dollars’ worth of supplies and equipment. The battered
Bolivian survivors crossed the river and retreated north to
Villamontes. They’d been pushed out of the “Green Hell,”
leaving Paraguay in full possession of the Chaco Boreal.
In November 1934 Bolivian President Salamanca descended on Villamontes to chastise his commanders for
their poor performance. Fed up, the generals arrested
Salamanca and replaced him with Vice President José Luis
Tejada Sorzano. Through June 1935 the two armies continued to slug it out in the vicinity of Villamontes and
around the Santa Cruz oil fields. Perhaps because the
Bolivians were defending their home turf, or perhaps because Estigarribia was attempting to drive his war-weary
army over thinly stretched supply lines, the war devolved
into inconclusive clashes and costly losses for both sides.
On June 12 Bolivia and Paraguay finally instituted a
permanent cease-fire. The subsequent peace treaty ceded
some three-quarters of the Chaco Boreal to Paraguay,
although Bolivia was permitted a corridor to the Paraguay River, thus ensuring its transportation route to the
Atlantic Ocean. The cost to each nation had been high.
Paraguay had lost some 36,000 men, Bolivia a staggering
52,397. The disease-ridden Chaco itself had claimed most
of the dead. In monetary terms the conflict had cost Bolivia the equivalent of $231 million. Although Paraguay
had incurred $198 million in war debt, the government
was able to sell off large quantities of captured Bolivian
armaments and military equipment to help pay it off.
The Chaco War became a point of national pride for
Paraguay. For Bolivia the war was a tragic episode, though
it touched off much needed social reforms that eventually
empowered the indigenous Andean population.
Top left: Bolivians captured in the key clash at Ballivián await processing.
Top right: The availability of aircraft, such as this German-built Junkers
Ju 52 of the Bolivian air force, saved many of those wounded in the
remote Chaco. Above left: Bolivian artillerymen train with their weapon.
In recent years both Paraguay and Bolivia have discovered significant oil and natural gas reserves in the Chaco
Boreal, but the “Green Hell” remains largely a dry, barren
place inhabited only by small bands of Amerindians, Mennonite farmers, isolated soldiers and a frightening variety
of deadly reptiles. From time to time scorching winds or
torrential rains uncover the bones of someone who paid
far too much for a region that wasn’t worth the price. MH
Paul Gregory Smith [] is a retired
U.S. Army brigadier general who served as an adviser to
the armed forces of Paraguay. He is currently an instructor
at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., and Nichols
College, in Dudley, Mass., where he teaches counterterrorism. For further reading he recommends The Green Hell:
A Concise History of the Chaco War Between Bolivia
and Paraguay, 1932–35, by Adrian J. English, and The
Chaco War, 1932–35: South America’s Greatest Modern
Conflict, by Alejandro de Quesada with Phillip Jowett.
Landed by U-boat on the
coast of Maine in 1944, the
senior agent of a two-man
Nazi spy team had a thrilling
tale to tell—most of it true
By Ron Soodalter
By 1944 Erich Gimpel was an experienced
German agent who had attended SS-run
espionage schools in France and Holland.
The agents aboard the U-boat that cold November night
could not have been more dissimilar. The senior of the
pair, 34-year-old Erich Gimpel, was a German-born
loyalist and experienced agent. His career had begun in
the late 1930s in Lima, Peru, where, while working as
a mining company radio operator, he reported on the
movements of various countries’ ships and the nature
of their cargos. After the United States entered the war
in 1941, Gimpel returned to Germany, where he attended
spy school in Hamburg and Berlin.
Gimpel learned tradecraft, including how to capture
microdot photographs, build radio transmitters and com-
municate with invisible ink. He was trained in jujitsu and
the use of firearms. “I was further trained,” he later wrote,
“in smuggling, stealing, lying, cheating and similar arts.”
Assigned the code name Agent 146, Gimpel served
briefly in Germany as a courier for military intelligence
and then was sent to Schutzstaffel (SS) espionage schools
in France and the Netherlands. It was at the latter he
met his partner in the two-man team that would step
ashore on the snowy coast of Maine. That agent’s name
was William Curtis Colepaugh, and he was cut from
entirely different cloth.
For one, Billy Colepaugh was an American. Eight
years Gimpel’s junior, the former Boy Scout was raised
by his widowed mother in Niantic, a historic village in
the coastal town of East Lyme, Conn., and had seemed
destined for a career in the U.S. Navy. Keenly interested
in naval engineering, he attended prep school at Admiral Farragut Academy on the New Jersey shore and was
accepted into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
But he flunked out of MIT after one semester. By then
the war in Europe had begun. In 1942 Colepaugh moved
to Philadelphia, where he was arrested for draft evasion.
The authorities allowed him to join the Navy as an alternative to prosecution.
Probably owing to the influence of his mother—Havel
(née Schmidt) Colepaugh had been born aboard ship
as her German parents immigrated to the United States
—Billy harbored sympathy for Germany that bordered
on the obsessive. During his stint at MIT he began cultivating relationships with various German officials
stationed in Boston, numbering among his acquaintances
the secretary to the German consul. Months before the
United States entered the war, Colepaugh attended a
Hitler birthday celebration at the consulate and entertained Boston-based Nazi officials in his home.
Colepaugh had done little to hide his loyalties. In 1943
he received a special-order discharge “for the good of
the Navy and convenience of the government.” In fact,
the FBI had already placed Colepaugh and his family
under surveillance as possible Nazi sympathizers.
The agency was accurate in its suspicions, but not
fast enough to keep Colepaugh from defecting to the
enemy. In early January 1944 he signed on as a mess
boy aboard MS Gripsholm, a Swedish ocean liner then
under U.S. government charter as a repatriation and
prisoner exchange vessel. Ironically, that exempted
Colepaugh from military service. He had no intention
of remaining aboard. Jumping ship in Lisbon, Portugal,
he informed the German consul of his wish to join the
army of the Reich and made his way to Berlin.
t 10 p.m. on the snowy night of Nov. 29,
1944, at the head of Frenchman Bay north
of Mount Desert Island, Maine, the German
submarine U-1230 slipped to the surface.
At that late point in the war things were
going badly for Germany. The Allies had
landed in Normandy that June and had
since been working their way across occupied Europe toward the “Fatherland.” Preparing to
debark from U-1230 were two Nazi spies charged with
a mission that could affect the outcome of the war and
the very survival of the Third Reich—or so one of the
agents later claimed.
By the fall of 1944 the North Atlantic was a very dangerous
place for German submarines, yet U-1230 managed to evade
Allied detection on its clandestine voyage to the United States.
On meeting him, however, SS officials saw in Colepaugh a diamond in the rough—a homegrown American
traitor who could be better used by Germany than simply
as cannon fodder. As he spoke little German, Colepaugh
was assigned to the espionage school in the Netherlands
where he and Gimpel became acquainted.
After completing his SS training, Gimpel—who was
fluent in Spanish and also spoke French and English—
was sent to Spain, where he participated in several undercover missions, the last of which was a plot to assassinate
U.S. Lt. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and blow up fortifications in British-held Gibraltar. The plot was discovered,
however, and Gimpel returned to Germany.
He was next assigned to Operation Pelican, a mission
to sabotage the Panama Canal and thus impede Allied
maritime traffic. After much trial and error he lit on a
plan. Two Junkers Ju-87 Stuka dive-bombers with folding
wings were to be loaded aboard U-boats and ferried to an
island near the canal. There they would be reassembled,
armed with high-explosive bombs and flown to their
target, a vulnerable spillway. Just as the loaded U-boats
were to leave Germany, however, planners called off the
operation. An informer had compromised the mission.
Recalled to headquarters, Gimpel was given what
would prove his last assignment. Code-named Unternehmen Elster (Operation Magpie), the mission was, as
Gimpel put it in his 1957 memoirs, “Germany’s last des-
perate attempt at espionage during World War II.” There
is no question of the real peril he faced. Two years earlier,
in the wake of a failed German sabotage mission dubbed
Operation Pastorius, U.S. authorities had executed six
of the eight German infiltrators. But doubt remains over
the true mission objective of Operation Magpie.
In Gimpel’s retelling, word had reached the German
High Command of a secret weapon being developed by
the United States, a device reportedly capable of leveling
an entire city. The agent claimed German intelligence had
ordered him to enter the United States undetected, find
The agents aboard the U-boat
that cold November night could
not have been more dissimilar
out whether such a weapon program existed and, if it did,
determine whether Germany was the intended target.
If Gimpel told the truth in his memoirs, his target was
the Manhattan Project, the genesis of nuclear warfare.
Only there is no mention of such an objective in FBI
documents or other documentary records regarding the
mission. Indeed, verified sources paint a less glamorous,
if still sinister, picture. Overseen by the SS, Magpie was
conceived as an information-gathering operation, aimed
at gleaning whatever technical engineering data—innovations in armaments, shipbuilding, aviation, rocket
science, etc.—the agents could find in trade magazines
or other publicly available sources. Gimpel was to relay
any findings via coded telegraphy over a radio transmitter he would build. In an emergency he could report
using prearranged mail drops.
Gimpel returned to the apartment
and was shocked to discover
his partner had flown the coop
Gimpel insisted on working with an American, to help
gather intelligence and ensure he was up to date on the
latest trends—movie gossip, baseball, dance steps, hair
and clothing styles. He needed someone who, in his
words, was “courageous, sensible and trustworthy” and
would “work against his own country.” Gimpel chose
all-American turncoat Billy Colepaugh.
As events soon proved, he could not have made a
worse choice. For one, Colepaugh was, as Gimpel wryly
put it, “one of the thirstiest and most accomplished drinkers I have ever met.” More important, though Colepaugh
had bluffed his way into German service with bombastic
rhetoric and vague notions of the glory of war, he was
at heart a coward. “It was indeed my failure,” Gimpel
reflected, “to assess the weakness in the character of my
companion that led me almost to the hangman’s noose.”
Again if his memoirs are to be believed, the senior agent
did have enough foresight to leave Colepaugh in the dark
about the “true” mission objective.
In late September 1944 the agents boarded U-1230 for
the voyage to the United States. Each had been furnished
a .32-caliber Colt semiautomatic pistol, a wristwatch and
a small compass. They’d also been given false identification papers, a microdot device, invisible ink and the developing solution for any messages written in such ink.
Gimpel carried radio parts. To sustain them over the
planned two-year mission, the men had convinced superiors to provide them an outrageous $60,000 in U.S.
currency—more than $800,000 in today’s dollars—and
an onion-skin packet containing 99 small diamonds,
to be pawned should the cash run out.
After 54 days at sea the U-boat slipped up Frenchman
Bay to within a few hundred yards of shore. Shortly before
Within 40 hours of coming ashore in Frenchman Bay, Maine (above),
Gimpel and Colepaugh had managed to make their way to midtown
Manhattan (opposite bottom), where they soon secured an apartment.
midnight the two agents, dressed in suits and topcoats
and each carrying a large suitcase, stepped into a dinghy
to be rowed ashore. Colepaugh, Gimpel recalled, was
“green with fear and shaking at the knees.”
The pair stepped ashore amid steadily falling snow and
made their way to U.S. Route 1. As they trudged alongside
the snow-covered road, two cars passed without stopping. The third proved to be an off-duty taxi. Explaining
they had driven their car into a ditch, the two convinced
the driver to take them the 35 miles to Bangor. From
there they caught a train to Portland, then a connection
to Boston. The next morning they caught another train
to New York’s Grand Central Station and that afternoon
checked into a hotel. They’d been on the move for most
of the 40 hours since they stepped ashore, traveling
unimpeded from a remote Maine cove to the heart of
America’s most populous city.
Unknown to the two spies, their mission had nearly
been scuttled before it began. The night they’d landed,
a 17-year-old local Boy Scout named Harvard Hodgkins
had been driving home from a school dance when he
passed the hatless pair walking the other direction. A
keen observer on the alert for wartime spies, the boy
noticed that their tracks veered into the woods. Stopping
the car, he followed the tracks down to the water’s edge.
Returning home, Hodgkins told his father, who happened
to be the local deputy sheriff. Deputy Hodgkins contacted the FBI, but nothing was done.
Several days later the FBI received word a U-boat had
sunk a Canadian freighter off the Mount Desert Island.
The submarine responsible was U-1230, whose captain
had ignored orders not to molest Allied shipping during
his sensitive mission. The belatedly alarmed FBI, fearing
a U-boat operating so close to the coast might have landed
enemy agents, sent its own agents from Boston to Maine
to interview young Hodgkins. By then Gimpel and Colepaugh were hundreds of miles away.
On December 8 the spies secured an apartment on
Manhattan’s East Side, where Gimpel set about assembling
his radio and making plans to meet his contact. Colepaugh, meanwhile, became increasingly unmanageable,
drinking, carousing and somehow managing to spend
$1,500—more than half the average American’s annual
salary. Three weeks after returning to his home country, he
decided he’d had enough of life as a German secret agent.
On December 21 Gimpel returned to the apartment
and was shocked to discover his partner had flown the
coop, taking with him both suitcases—including all the
money and the cache of diamonds—and leaving Gimpel
with the clothes on his back and $300 in cash.
Assuming his partner would return to Grand Central
Station, Gimpel followed up on his hunch and tracked
down both suitcases in the baggage area. Explaining that
he’d lost the claim tickets, he produced the keys and de-
scribed the contents. The busy baggage
clerk opened one of the bags to reveal dirty
clothes and a camera (the money, radio
parts and pistols were hidden beneath
a false bottom), then waved him on. In his
memoirs Gimpel wove a fanciful tale of
running into a Peruvian acquaintance,
who let the desperate agent use his apartment, where the spy soon engaged in a
tryst with a beautiful young woman who
also had a key to the apartment. It was a
story straight out of Ian Fleming’s James
Bond novels. The truth was he checked into By landing in Maine as
wartime spies, Gimpel
another hotel and stashed the loot.
and Colepaugh risked
After pocketing $2,000 of “play money” execution—an all-tooand checking the bags at the station, Cole- real danger. Six of eight
paugh, too, had checked into a hotel be- German saboteurs who
fore embarking on a two-day carouse. On ventured stateside
December 23 he looked up an old prep in 1942 as part of the
failed Operation Pastorschool classmate in Queens, who invited ius were tried and sent
him to stay through Christmas. As the two to the electric chair.
washed up for a night on the town, Colepaugh confided he was in trouble and spilled the details
of Operation Magpie. At first the friend, an honorably
discharged U.S. Army veteran, dismissed his companion’s
confession as the senseless ravings of a drunk. But when
Colepaugh repeated the story in detail after sobering up,
his friend counseled Colepaugh to turn himself in. On the
Under watchful guard a surprisingly composed Gimpel
takes a smoke break during the 1945 tribunal that tried him
and Colepaugh for espionage. President Harry S. Truman
later commuted the men’s death sentences. Gimpel
lived to see his 94th birthday (opposite) and then some.
The agents were charged with
conspiracy to commit espionage,
for which the penalty was death
ver and, through him, President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The manhunt was on.
During questioning Colepaugh had described his
former partner’s appearance and habits, including two
vital pieces of information: Gimpel frequented a Times
Square newsstand that sold Peruvian newspapers, and
he carried his money in the inside breast pocket of his
suit jacket. FBI agents staked out the newsstand, and on
December 30 a man fitting Gimpel’s description walked
up. Noting his foreign accent as he reached into his breast
pocket to pay the clerk, they approached, questioned and
arrested Agent 146, the most wanted man in America.
After further interrogation the FBI turned over Gimpel
and Colepaugh to military authorities, who confined
the men at Fort Jay on Governors Island in New York
Harbor. During the Civil War the fort had housed Confederate prisoners of war and served as the place of
execution for at least two Rebel spies. It seemed likely
the two Nazi agents would meet a similar fate.
Gimpel was thrown a lifeline. Agents from the Office
of Strategic Services (a precursor of the CIA) offered
to spare his neck in exchange for turning double agent,
but he refused to betray his country. As loyal agents them-
evening of the 26th FBI agents arrived at the Queens
home. After questioning the failed spy over several hours,
they took Colepaugh into custody. Word of the arrest
was immediately conveyed to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoo-
selves, they likely respected Gimpel’s answer as much as
they scorned Colepaugh as a traitor and deserter. Gimpel
himself claimed that when he was arrested, one of the
FBI agents took him aside shared a candid observation:
“You made only one mistake—you should have given
Billy a shot between the eyes as soon as you landed.”
On Feb. 6, 1945, the German agents appeared before
a military tribunal, charged with conspiracy to commit
espionage, an offense for which the prescribed penalty
was death. While Gimpel acted with forthrightness and
reserve during the trial, Colepaugh sought to convince
the court he had been acting all the while as a triple agent.
He claimed to have traveled to Berlin simply to gather
information on the Nazis, then returned with the intention of betraying Gimpel and Operation Magpie. The
court dismissed that absurdity out of hand.
On Valentine’s Day, eight days after the trial began, the
seven-man tribunal returned a guilty verdict. The defendants stood as the judge read their sentences: Both were
to be hanged. Gimpel, long aware of the fate of captured
spies, had anticipated such an outcome. But the prospect
was one thing, the reality another. “You can think of death
in a manly way when you’ve not been sentenced to death,”
he recalled, “but heroics die a natural death of their own
in the shadow of the scaffold. Before you meet your own
death, the phrase ‘Death for the Fatherland’ dies.”
The execution date was set for April 15. For weeks
Gimpel and Colepaugh nervously paced their cells,
dreading their date with the gallows. One day a sergeant
entered Gimpel’s cell, engaged him in a friendly chat,
then departed. “Do you know who that was?” an amused
guard asked with a laugh. “That was the hangman. He
came to get an idea of your weight and measurements.”
Then, just three days before their scheduled date with
the hangman, Roosevelt’s death triggered a four-week
moratorium on executions as part of the national mourning period. Even more fortuitously for the condemned
men, three weeks after that Germany surrendered. Never
a fan of capital punishment, President Harry S. Truman
reviewed the men’s cases and commuted their sentences
to life imprisonment at hard labor. Both were sent to
the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas.
Five years into Gimpel’s sentence guards found putty
in his cell and on closer scrutiny found he had been
sawing through the bars, though in the retelling Gimpel
inflated the story into a jailbreak complete with sweeping
spotlights and wailing sirens. The escape attempt bought
him time in solitary confinement, followed by transfer
to Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay, the notoriously escapeproof repository of such gangsters Al Capone, Alvin
“Creepy” Karpis and George “Machine Gun” Kelly.
Gimpel spent five years there before being transferred
to a state prison in Georgia. Shortly thereafter he was
called before a judge, abruptly paroled and deported
to West Germany. In his cabin on the ship home the
45-year-old former spy looked long and hard
at his reflection. “I had grown old,” he recalled. “My hair was snow-white. My face
was pale, the skin was taut and leathern. Act Like a Local
According to my birth certificate, I was 45, Gimpel and Colepaugh
were ultimately caught
but the mirror told a different story.”
in part because 17-yearIn 1960, after 15 years behind bars, Wil- old Harvard Hodgkins
liam Colepaugh was paroled from Leaven- had noticed the men
worth. He settled in King of Prussia, Penn., weren’t wearing hats
where he married, started a business and in a Maine snowstorm.
devoted his spare hours to good works with Good Spies Don’t Party
Colepaugh was an
the Boy Scouts and the local Rotary club. alcoholic and gambler,
Colepaugh died in 2005 of complications and his antics after
from Alzheimer’s disease. Few acquaintances he and Gimpel arrived
in Manhattan directly
had known of his past.
After his release, Gimpel wrote a series of contributed to the
failure of their mission.
articles about his adventures as a secret agent. Loyalists Don’t Turn
These were collated into book form as Spion Gimpel faced possible
für Deutschland (Spy for Germany), which execution for espiowas adapted into a German film and later nage. Yet when offered
printed in English under the title Agent 146. the chance to save his
life by turning double
Gimpel had always loved South America agent, he refused.
and eventually moved to Brazil. Twice in the
early 1990s he traveled to Chicago as the guest of an
American group of U-boat enthusiasts. Gimpel died in
Sao Paulo in 2010. The 100-year-old had beaten the
life-expectancy odds of his former profession, escaped
the noose and survived prison. Yet living in the shadow
of the gallows had left Gimpel a haunted man, as evinced
by the closing lines of his memoirs: “I hate war. And
I hate the job of a spy—I always shall.” MH
Frequent contributor Ron Soodalter is the author of
Hanging Captain Gordon and The Slave Next Door.
For further reading he recommends Agent 146: The True
Story of a Nazi Spy in America, by Erich Gimpel, and
A True Story of an American Nazi Spy: William Curtis
Colepaugh, by Robert A. Miller.
During the British monarch’s six-decade
reign a wave of fanatical Islamic uprisings
threatened to sunder her global empire
By Mark Simner
British troops move through the Khyber Pass on
the road built by Lt. Col. Frederick Mackeson’s men
during the 1852–53 Black Mountain campaign
against Hassanzais and allied Hindustani Fanatics.
The North-West Frontier was a hotbed of jihadist
activity throughout the era of British rule in India.
n the years since the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon in
Washington, D.C., several of the Western world’s major military powers—most notably the United
States—have been embroiled in a seemingly endless war against self-proclaimed Islamic militants.
Many such fighters consider themselves jihadists—holy warriors against the enemies of Islam. While
the United States and other “nascent” nations might be excused for believing the rise of radical Islam
is a modern development, aimed at toppling the world’s current Western powers, the struggle of course
dates back centuries to the rise of Islam itself. More recently, in the Victorian era, the British empire
waged a similar struggle against fanatical Muslim armies.
Of the numerous enemies Queen Victoria faced during her six-decade reign, three in particular stand out:
the Hindustani Fanatics, whose hostile actions in the border zone between British India and Afghanistan
prompted the costly 1863–64 Ambela campaign; the Mahdists of Sudan, who in the 1880s and ’90s ruled
that country with a theologically rigid and brutal fist; and the Pathans of India’s North-West Frontier, who
rebelled against British rule on an unprecedented scale in the late 1890s. Behind all three uprisings were
Islamic religious leaders who inflamed adherents to wage jihad against the world’s most powerful empire.
Hindus but members of the fundamentalist Wahhabite
Islamic sect. Many lived in the north Indian river plain,
a region Turkish, Afghan and Iranian rulers had termed
Hindustan, or “Land of the Hindus”—a term the British
later adopted. The founder of Wahhabism was Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, a man of limited means
and education born in 1703 in Najd, a region of presentday central Saudi Arabia. Abd al-Wahhab pressed for a
return to strict monotheistic Islamic worship, or tawhid,
and regarded Christian believers in a triune God as
sorcerers worthy of death. He ingratiated himself to
powerful emirs and grew in influence. Abd al-Wahhab
Queen Victoria
the mid-19th century Wahhabism had spread to India.
In 1826 an Indian-born Wahhabite imam named Ahmad and several hundred followers entered the Yusufzai
tribal region in what would become India’s North-West
Frontier (in present-day Pakistan). At the time Yusufzai
lands lay within the Sikh empire, and Ahmad’s aim was
to stir up the tribesmen against their rulers. Though the
Sikhs quickly put down the uprising, Ahmad continued
to attract followers and by 1829 had the Yusufzai territory
virtually under his thumb. Two years later he attacked
and occupied the city of Peshawar, only to be again defeated—and this time killed—by the Sikhs. The surviving
Wahhabis took refuge in Sittana and kept the rebellion
on low boil under one of the emir’s lieutenants.
It was after the First Anglo-Sikh War of 1845–46 that
the victorious British first clashed with the Hindustani
Fanatics, when the latter supported the Hassanzai tribe
during the 1852–53 Black Mountain campaign. In late
1851 the rebellious Hassanzais had hacked to death two
British customs officials and occupied two regional forts,
prompting the punitive expedition under Lt. Col. Frederick Mackeson. The British quickly drove the tribesmen
and allied Fanatics from the forts and went on to destroy
their villages and crops.
The next clash came during the Indian Rebellion
(aka Sepoy Mutiny) of 1857–58 as disaffected sepoys
of the Bengal Native Infantry rebelled against their British East India Co. masters. While the mutiny was being
put down elsewhere in India, a British field force under
Maj. Gen. Sir Sydney Cotton fought a series of actions
against the Fanatics, who had incited mutineers in Peshawar. In the spring of 1858 Cotton chased the offending Fanatics across the North-West Frontier, finally
driving them from their sole remaining stronghold at
Sittana on May 4. After receiving assurances from local
Though based in India, the Hindustani Fanatics were not died in 1792, but his hard-line doctrine endured, and by
clans to refrain from allying with the Fanatics, Cotton
withdrew his force.
By far the most serious conflict between the British and
the Hindustani Fanatics came during the 1863 Ambela
campaign. After their defeat at Sittana five years earlier
the surviving Fanatics had withdrawn to the Punjab
mountain outpost of Malka, where they slowly rebuilt
their strength. From there they mounted continual raids
against settlements in British India. Per modus operandi,
the British organized a military expedition to punish
the offending tribesmen.
On Oct. 18, 1863, the lieutenant governor of the Punjab dispatched the Ambela Field Force under Brig. Gen.
Neville B. Chamberlain on what the British anticipated
would be just another minor campaign in the North-West
Frontier’s storied history. Chamberlain’s straightforward
objective was to advance on Malka and destroy it—along
with the Fanatics. The general chose a line of march
through the Ambela Pass, expecting that tribesmen of
the surrounding Buner region would not interfere with
the 6,000-man British force.
But the Fanatics had duped the Bunerwals into believing the expedition’s actual purpose was to seize their
lands. Thousands of tribesmen therefore rallied to help
the Fanatics repel the British, as did Akhund Abdul Ghaffur, a ruling mullah in the Swat Valley who three decades
British and indigenous officers of the Punjab Frontier Force’s 5th
Regiment of Infantry pose in 1879. Many of the unit’s members were
Sikhs and Muslims who had previously fought against the British.
earlier had sheltered Ahmad’s Wahhabite refugees. Chamberlain’s force reached the pass on October 20, oblivious
to the overwhelming force allied against them.
Two days later Bunerwal fighters attacked a British
reconnaissance patrol, prompting Chamberlain to fortify
his positions in the pass, including two key rocky outcrops dubbed Eagle’s Nest and Crag Piquet. The main
Bunerwal force, comprising some 15,000 fighters, repeatedly attacked the British positions. After they overran Crag Piquet on October 30, British Lts. George Fosbery and Henry Pitcher fought determinedly to counterattack and reclaim the point, each later receiving the
Victoria Cross.
Automatic weapons—such as this .303 British–caliber
“Extra Light” Maxim gun—gave European military forces
a decisive firepower advantage in colonial conflicts.
The seesaw battle for the pass continued
for four weeks, Chamberlain himself falling
seriously wounded on November 20. British
reinforcements ultimately arrived to bolster
his beleaguered troops, and in early December
Maj. Gen. John Garvock took command and
seized the initiative, finally breaking the tribesmen’s resistance. The Bunerwals submitted to
him on December 17, and the British subsequently razed the Fanatic stronghold of Malka.
The British had suffered nearly 1,000 casualties—by far the largest loss an Anglo-Indian
force had incurred on the North-West Frontier. But they had delivered a mortal blow to
the Hindustani Fanatics, who were never
again able to mount serious opposition.
A Mahdist fighter used
this hippopotamushide shield during the
Battle of Tofrek, an
1885 fight during which Sudanese Mahdists conducted perhaps the
British and Indian troops best-known jihad against the British empire.
killed as many as 1,000
The roots of that conflict lay in the rise of
Sudanese Mahdists.
Muhammad Ahmad Ibn as-Sayyid Abd Allah.
Born the son of a boat builder in 1844 on the Nile River
island of Labab, 10 miles south of Dongola in northern
Sudan, Muhammad Ahmad became a devout Muslim
as he grew into a young adulthood. In 1861 he entered
studies under the Sammaniya, a particularly strict Islamic
religious sect. The outspoken and charismatic young man
ultimately broke with the movement’s leader to assume
leadership of a competing sect, and in 1881 Muhammad
Ahmad proclaimed himself the true Mahdi, or messianic
redeemer of the Islamic faith.
The notion of the Mahdi is not found in the Quran but
referenced in the Hadith, a narrative of the actions and
words of the prophet Muhammad. Adherents of the two
main Islamic denominations, Sunni and Shia, have differing views as to the concept of the Mahdi. Most Sunnis
believe he has yet to appear, while Shias believe he has
already been born, disappeared and will return only when
ready to dispense justice and rid the world of evil. Islamic
scholars continue to debate the identity, meaning and
legitimacy of the Mahdi, but in 1881 the concept of a
“redeemer” greatly appealed to many Sudanese Muslims.
Sudan was then under the rule of Ottoman Egypt,
which had established a degree of independence from
its Turkish overseers. Corruption was rampant within
the Egyptian ruling elite, and many Sudanese—including
Muhammad Ahmad—resented their masters. That year
the self-proclaimed Mahdi initiated a revolt, and despite
the Egyptians’ considerable efforts to crush the Mahdists,
Muhammad Ahmad only grew stronger.
Irish-born photographer John Burke, who accompanied
colonial forces on campaign in the North-West Frontier,
captured this 1878 photo of Pashtun Afridi fighters,
who at times fought both for and against the British.
Both Britain and France had loaned large sums of
money to Egypt, primarily to finance the Suez Canal, and
the Ottoman Egyptians were struggling to make scheduled repayments. Wishing to protect its investments—
particularly the canal, the all-important gateway to India
—Britain invaded and occupied Egypt in 1882. In early
1884, when the growing Mahdist revolt threatened European civilians and Egyptian soldiers in the Sudanese
capital of Khartoum, the British sent a force under Maj.
Gen. Charles Gordon to evacuate them. Having fulfilled
his mission, Gordon grew reluctant to surrender the British hold on Sudan. Defying his orders, he chose to defend Khartoum. Muhammad Ahmad’s army—known as
the Ansar—soon put the city under siege.
Initially reluctant to commit additional troops to Sudan, the British government and Cairo authorities eventually authorized an expedition to rescue Gordon. Led by
Adj. Gen. Sir Garnet Wolseley, an old friend of Gordon’s,
the relief force failed to reach the Sudanese capital before
the city fell to the Ansar. The Mahdists killed Gordon
and sent his severed head to Muhammad Ahmad. Five
months later the Mahdi himself died of typhus.
With few exceptions the British kept out of Sudanese
affairs and chose to concentrate on rebuilding Egypt.
While the Mahdists remained largely unchecked, Ahmad’s
Muhammad Ahmad
successor, Abd Allah ibn Muhammad—known to followers as the Khalifa—lacked his predecessor’s charisma
and leadership skills and was forced to fight his way to
sole leadership of Sudan.
In 1896 the British authorized a military operation
against the Mahdists. Despite the ongoing public outcry to
The Mahdists killed Gordon
and sent his severed head
to Muhammad Ahmad
“avenge Gordon,” it was a move born out of geopolitical
necessity. That spring Ethiopian forces under Menelik II
had decisively defeated Italian occupiers at Adwa, securing that kingdom’s sovereignty while calling into question
Rome’s control of neighboring Eritrea. When the Mahdists
sought to exploit the Italians’ vulnerability by launching
cross-border raids, Rome in turn asked London to alleviate
pressure in the region by launching a military operation
against Sudan. Driven in part by fear of French encroachment in the Nile Valley, Prime Minister Robert GascoyneCecil, Lord Salisbury, agreed to send in British troops.
What followed was Brig. Herbert Kitchener’s celebrated two-phase reconquest of Sudan. His capture of
the Mahdist stronghold of Dongola in 1896 fulfilled the
British promise of conducting a “demonstration” to
aid the Italians. Given that campaign’s success, both
London and Cairo authorized Kitchener to thrust deeper
into Sudan in hopes of retaking Khartoum and destroying the Mahdists.
The follow-up campaigns of 1897–98 culminated in the Sept. 2, 1898, Battle of Omdurman, in which Kitchener’s 26,000-strong
Anglo-Egyptian force defeated a Mahdist
force more than twice its size. At the height of
the fighting the 21st Lancers—among whom
BRITISH INDIAN rode young Lt. Winston Churchill—drove
back a determined Mahdist counterattack.
With the Ansar defeated and Omdurman in
British hands, Kitchener had effectively put
an end to Mahdism, although the Khalifa
himself evaded the British for more than a
year before dying in battle.
Around the time Kitchener was wrapping up
his reconquest of Sudan, British forces in
India were confronting the last major jihad of
Victoria’s reign—a series of large-scale Pathan
uprisings along the North-West Frontier in
1897–98. (The British used the term “Pathan”
to collectively describe the many tribes then
inhabiting the frontier; today they are referred to as
Pashtuns and largely reside on either side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.)
After annexing Punjab in 1849, the British initially
attempted to keep the tribesmen north of the North-West
Frontier at arm’s length, but the Pathans frequently raided
into British-held territory. In response the British sent out
detachments to the offending parties to exact fines or dis-
arm them. Such expeditions were usually brief, incurred
few casualties and ended in the submission of the tribe.
In 1893 British authorities and the emir of Afghanistan struck an accord known as the Durand Line agreement, formally establishing the spheres of influence each
would have over the territories comprising the NorthWest Frontier. Neither side consulted the tribesmen,
who considered such borders arbitrary and unnecessary.
Following the 1895 Chitral campaign, authorities in British India also decided to retain a foothold in that far
northern princely state to counter perceived Russian
territorial expansion—all part of the “Great Game” for
control of Central Asia. That required construction of a
road to Chitral through Pathan territory and the establishment of garrisons to protect it—all of which the
tribesmen saw as a threat to their independence.
Seizing on their feelings of unrest were a number of
fanatical Islamic imams forever seeking jihad against
the British. These included a Punjabi named Najm-udDin from the village of Hadda, whom the British called
“Hadda Mullah”; and a Bunerwal named Saidullah
Khan, whom the British dubbed the “Mad Fakir.” Each
traveled from tribe to tribe, spreading unrest and consolidating resistance.
Troops of the 1st Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment, rest before the
1898 Battle of Omdurman, the deciding battle of the Mahdist War.
Bottom right: Chitral Fort, before the 1895 siege by Pathan fighters.
Lt. Winston Churchill participated in the 1898 charge
of the 21st Lancers at Omdurman, among the last fullscale cavalry charges conducted by the British army.
The situation came to a head on June 10, 1897, when
a British political officer named Herbert Gee sought
to collect a punitive fine from a string of Tochi Valley
settlements known collectively as Maizar. After receiving a cordial welcome, Gee and his 200-man military
escort came under ambush from a larger force of Pathan
tribesmen. Gee survived the subsequent fighting withdrawal from Maizar, but the Pathans killed most of
the British officers and 22 sepoys and wounded another
30 men. A punitive British expedition ended with the
usual success, but a general uprising soon broke out
across the frontier.
Swat Valley tribesmen under the Mad Fakir conducted a weeklong siege of the British garrisons at Malakand and Chakdara, prompting deployment of the
Malakand Field Force under Brig. Gen. Sir Bindon
Blood (Lt. Churchill was also a member of this force
and later wrote a book about the campaign). Pathan
rebels under Hadda Mullah launched a similar assault
on the British garrison at Shabkadr and looted and
burned the nearby Hindu village of Shankargar. With
the help of two more British divisions, Gen. Blood
wrapped up his punitive expedition in the Malakand
District by year’s end. Meanwhile, the large and powerful Afridi and Orakzai tribes also rose in revolt, necessitating dispatch of the Tirah Field Force under Gen. Sir
William Lockhart. It fought some of the most desperate
battles of the uprising, including a desperate last stand
in the village of Saraghari by 21 Sikh soldiers against
some 10,000 Orakzais. By year’s end Lockhart, too, was able to quell the uprising in
his district. The greatest threat to British
authority in Central Asia since the 1857–58
Sepoy Mutiny was over within months.
Queen Victoria, who had assumed the
throne in 1837, capped her Diamond Jubilee
year with a victory. Britain’s longest-reigning
monarch to that time died on Jan. 22, 1901,
at age 81.
So passed into history the Victorian-era
jihads, in which bands of poorly armed radical Islamists rocked the British empire.
Though largely forgotten in the West, memories are long in the regions where Wahhabis,
Mahdists and members of other fanatical
Muslim sects took root. Indeed, among the
modern-day adherents of Wahhabism was
9/11 planner Osama bin Laden. The struggle
against radical Islam continues. MH
The British and other
colonial powers tended
to underestimate the
abilities and convictions of indigenous
foes, a habit that lost
battles, not to mention
hearts and minds.
Use Local Troops
By incorporating
indigenous soldiers
into their ranks, the
British built bridges
and exploited tribal
and religious factions
while increasing their
troop strength.
Know When to Leave
Increasingly frequent
uprisings often mean
it’s time for colonial
powers to go.
British military historian Mark Simner is a
regular contributor to several U.K.-based magazines. For
further reading he recommends his own Pathan Rising:
Jihad on the North West Frontier of India, 1897–1898,
as well as The Savage Border: The Story of the NorthWest Frontier, by Jules Stewart, and Khartoum: The
Ultimate Imperial Adventure, by Michael Asher.
U.S. citizens of Japanese ancestry were
detained without trial after Pearl Harbor
uring both world wars the U.S. government incarcerated and deported thousands of German
and Italian Americans. But after the Dec. 7, 1941, surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, that
drew the United States into World War II, Japanese-Americans faced an unprecedented level of
antipathy. The harshest measure came on Feb. 19, 1942, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt
issued Executive Order 9066. Intended to forestall espionage or sabotage, the order authorized
Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson to ultimately uproot more than 110,000 Japanese-Americans
—some two-thirds of whom were citizens and 80,000 of whom were Nisei, or second-generation
Americans—from their homes and businesses and incarcerate them in 10 concentration camps
(aka “relocation centers”) in California, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Colorado and Arkansas. Although
infinitely more humane and livable than their Nazi German counterparts (which were designed for either
slave labor or outright extermination), the fenced and guarded detention camps—comprising tar-papered
wood-frame barracks holding up to a half-dozen families each—revoked the liberty of these Americans
even as thousands of their young men and women served in the U.S. armed forces. When told they’d been
incarcerated for their own protection, one internee asked the obvious: “Why were the guns at the guard
towers pointed inward, instead of outward?” Not until the administrations of Presidents Ronald Reagan
and George H.W. Bush did the U.S. government acknowledge the injustice of what it, with the tacit approval
of many Americans, had done to so many fellow citizens. MH
Tom Shigeru Kobayashi, 23,
contemplates the open range
around the camp at Manzanar,
in California’s Owens Valley.
A Constellation
of Prison Camps
Established on March 11, 1942, the
Wartime Civil Control Administration
(WCCA) implemented the mass removal
of Japanese-Americans from the West
Coast. Created a week later, the War
Relocation Authority (WRA) administered
the 10 long-term relocation centers and
three isolation centers for “troublemakers.”
WCCA Assembly Center
WRA Relocation Center
WRA Isolation Center
A Just after Pearl Harbor grocery store
owner Tatsuro Matsuda of Oakland, Calif.,
put up a sign proclaiming his nationality
and patriotic stance. He and his family
were removed anyway, the store sold.
B The Mochida family of San Leandro,
Calif., awaits removal to the relocation
center at Topaz, Utah. Evacuees were
permitted only two bags of personal
items and the clothes on their backs.
C Armed soldiers and local police
monitor new arrivals at the Santa Anita,
Calif., assembly center. The evacuees
lived in spartan conditions while awaiting
onward transport to relocation centers.
D An evacuee rests after moving into
E Though referred to by the government
as “relocation centers,” the facilities
to which the evacuees were sent were
prison camps, enclosed by barbed wire
fences and secured by armed troops.
F Among the items displayed in the
barracks occupied by Alice Yonemitsu
at Manzanar is a photo of son Robert.
Despite the way he and his family had
been treated, he felt it his patriotic
duty to volunteer for military service.
G After the government began releasing
detainees in 1945, many Japanese-Americans
returned home to find their businesses and
houses either expropriated or vandalized.
a bare room at Manzanar. An Army cot,
mattress and single blanket were the
only items provided by the government.
The evacuees—
two-thirds of
whom were U.S.
uprooted by
executive order
and detained
without due
As Chinese citizens and foreigners alike fled Nanking
in 1937, correspondent C. Yates McDaniel stayed
behind to report on the Japanese wrath
By Jack Torry
Japanese Type 94 tankettes
roll toward the Gate of China,
a portal in Nanking’s 500-yearold walls, on Dec. 12, 1937.
Natalie and Yates McDaniel
chose to remain in Nanking
despite friends’ pleas they flee
the coming Japanese assault.
The McDaniels were old hands in East Asia. Born in
Boston in 1907, Natalie Olga (née Ellis) McDaniel grew up
in Japan and learned to speak the language, often telling
people she did multiplication better in Japanese than English. Charles Yates McDaniel was born in 1906 to American Baptist missionaries in Soochow (present-day Suzhou),
China, and grew up speaking English and Mandarin. His
father sent the young man stateside to attend the University of Richmond, followed by graduate studies at the
University of North Carolina, where he wrote his thesis
on Washington Irving’s interest in drama. Yates joined the
Associated Press in 1935 and returned to East Asia.
Yates was not the stereotypical rugged, glamorous
foreign correspondent. “He was a slender man,” wrote
n Sept. 20, 1937, C. Yates McDaniel of the Associated Press had a long and sober discussion with
wife Natalie in their home on the outskirts of the besieged Chinese city of Nanking (present-day
Nanjing). The 21-square-mile city, perched along the Yangtze River and ringed by massive 500-yearold walls and ornamental gates of granite and limestone, was under siege. In the nearly 11 weeks
since Japan had invaded China, initiating the Second Sino-Japanese War, the fighting had devolved
into brutal, full-scale combat. The Japanese military was massed around Nanking and had warned
its 1 million residents—as well as any foreigners who remained—it would intensify its bombing
campaign starting at noon the next day.
American and Chinese friends pleaded with the McDaniels to leave the city. The couple had just completed
an arduous, eight-day return trip from northern China, first to Shanghai by car and from there as ride-along
passengers in an ambulance. The nightlong drive from Shanghai had been especially harrowing, as the constant
menace of Japanese bombers forced drivers to keep their headlights switched off. With the specter of war at
the gates of Nanking, the couple decided to leave their home for the sanctuary of the U.S. Embassy, but they
resolved to remain in Nanking “so long as there is any vestige of communications with the outside world.”
For the venturesome couple it was a typical decision.
author John Toland. “His high forehead, light brown
eyes and delicate, almost transparent skin gave him the
aesthetic look of a poet or monk.” Unlike his strict Baptist
father, who shunned alcohol and tobacco, Yates was a
chain smoker. By age 35 his dark brown hair had turned
grayish-white, which Time attributed to “enough narrow
escapes to earn many a thread of silver.”
After years of picking around the edges of China,
Japan launched its full-blown invasion on July 7, 1937.
By late September its forces had captured Peking (presentday Beijing) and were closing in on the port city of Shanghai. Nanking was the capital of the Chinese Nationalist
government under Chiang Kai-shek, yet the city had
thus far suffered only light bombing raids—but few
thought that would last. In late August the British military attaché in Nanking warned an American diplomat
the Japanese intended to destroy the city with highexplosive, incendiary and gas bombs.
On September 21 Nelson T. Johnson, the American
ambassador to the Republic of China, evacuated the embassy in Nanking and took refuge with his staff aboard
USS Luzon, one of a fleet of gunboats protecting U.S.
interests along the Yangtze. McDaniel reported on the
circumstances. “A disagreement on policy was believed
to have risen between Ambassador Johnson and Admiral
Harry Yarnell, commander in chief of the United States
Asiatic Fleet,” the correspondent wrote. “Yarnell was
known to be strongly against any yielding to the Japanese
threat and was thought to have opposed Johnson’s evacuation of the embassy.” McDaniel chided the ambassador
and his staff for remaining “safe aboard” the gunboat
Luzon, which “kept full steam up.” The message was
clear: If the correspondent and his wife were willing to
ride out the Japanese air raid at the embassy, why wasn’t
the ambassador?
When the Japanese ultimatum expired at noon that
day, Yates and Natalie were among 19 Americans at the
embassy, eight of whom were women. The only embassy
official to remain was secretary J. Hall Paxton, who like
McDaniel was the son of American missionaries in China.
Unsure how long they would be in the embassy, they
did a quick inventory of supplies and discovered enough
food to last three months. The ultimatum came and
went, yet not a single Japanese plane appeared that day.
“If it was not for the electric air of nervous tension,”
McDaniel wrote, “Nanking would seem like a great city
waiting for death.”
At 10:35 the next morning, McDaniel recalled, the air
raid sirens “screamed out their dreaded warning.” Citizens took cover in shelters as 13 Chinese-flown Curtiss
Hawk fighters headed off to engage the incoming enemy
planes. Minutes later some three-dozen Japanese bombers flew over in formation, dropping high-explosive and
incendiary bombs, as Chinese anti-aircraft batteries
roared into action. McDaniel witnessed four Japanese
bombers shot down, but a second group dropped incendiaries that ignited huge fires in a slum district near the
river. “The huts burned like matchboxes,” McDaniel recalled. Though he had covered civil wars in China, the
sight of “women, children and old men already burned
to death or beyond aid” sickened him.
The Americans in the embassy emerged unscathed,
the only real danger coming from a wayward Chinese
antiaircraft shell that crashed outside the compound,
splattering its gatehouse with shrapnel. That night Johnson and staff returned to the embassy, the ambassador
announcing his intention to remain in Nanking. “Americans here,” McDaniel sniped, “assumed the ambassador
had received instructions to return from Washington.”
McDaniel chided the ambassador
and his staff for remaining ‘safe
aboard’ the gunboat Luzon
A few days later waves of Japanese bombers pummeled
Nanking for seven hours, putting its waterworks out of
commission and destroying its $1 million power plant.
McDaniel joined Johnson and his staff on the embassy
veranda to observe the raid and saw two Japanese planes
fall from the sky “like comets with tails of smoke and fire.”
Two months later Natalie joined the foreign exodus
for Shanghai. American officials welcomed her aboard
a rescue ship, but limited her to two suitcases weighing
no more than 20 pounds each. That presented a problem, as the McDaniels’ beloved Scottish terriers, Sandy
and Lassie, weighed 18 and 19 pounds, respectively.
Ever resourceful, Natalie boarded wearing four suits and
two topcoats, her pockets stuffed with jewelry—and
a dog under each arm.
Yates took his chances and remained in Nanking.
McDaniel (rear left) often interviewed
China’s Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek
(front left) before the Japanese invasion.
On December 5 McDaniel drove east from the city, hoping
to “find the war.” Thirty miles out he knew he’d succeeded when a Japanese shell exploded some 200 yards
in front of his car. Chinese troops were busy burning
villagers’ homes, crops—anything that might sustain the
Japanese. As McDaniel watched Chinese artillery and
machine guns open up from a nearby ridge, a column
of reinforcements marched up the road from Nanking.
“We are from Canton,” one of their officers explained.
“We are cold and know nothing about what is taking
place over that ridge. But Generalissimo Chiang Kaishek told us to hold this road. And we will hold it until
we are all killed.”
The correspondent returned to Nanking to file his
story. The next day Lt. Cmdr. James J. Hughes of the
gunboat USS Panay offered to evacuate McDaniel and
the four other Western correspondents who’d remained
at the embassy—Archibald Steele of the Chicago Daily
News, F. Tillman Durdin of The New York Times, Leslie
Smith of Reuters and Paramount newsreel photographer
Arthur Menken. All declined. They were there to report,
and McDaniel perhaps took the greatest chances.
On December 7 he drove just 15 miles east of town
before encountering villages set afire by the retreating
Chinese. On passing the landmark hot springs at Tangshan, McDaniel spotted a Japanese battery a few hundred
yards ahead and realized he’d stumbled into the noman’s-land between the warring armies. He quickly
spun the car around and returned to Nanking, which
soon came under intense Japanese assault.
On December 9 at Nanking’s southeastern gates McDaniel tagged along as Chinese troops rushed to meet
advancing Japanese forces. But when enemy aircraft
roared overhead, dropping bombs, the correspondent
“ducked into a dugout.” When the ground stopped shaking, he peered out. The soldiers he’d been following lay
dead or horribly mangled. “I left,” McDaniel tersely wrote.
By December 11 the Nanking riverfront was in chaos.
McDaniel watched as Panay “steamed up the Yangtze
amid loud explosions as shells continued to burst in the
river ahead of the quivering gunboat, throwing up great
geysers of water.” Panay continued upriver and out of
McDaniel’s sight. The next afternoon a trio of Japanese
Yokosuka B4Y1 bombers targeted the gunboat despite its
After capturing Nanking on Dec. 13, 1937, Japanese troops embarked
on an orgy of atrocities that included mass rape and the murders
of untold thousands of civilians and disarmed Chinese soldiers.
Briefly stranded on a remote island
following the February 1942 fall of
Singapore, McDaniel used the time
to type up notes atop a fallen palm.
clear markings, including American flags painted on the
deck. At least two bombs struck home, and as the crew
and passengers abandoned ship, a flight of nine Nakajima A4N fighters strafed them. Three American sailors
and an Italian journalist were killed, and nearly 50 others
were wounded. Panay sank just offshore. The Japanese
government apologized, claiming the attack had been
an accident, and it later paid a $2.2 million indemnity
to the U.S. government. But the incident served to turn
American public opinion against the Japanese.
Meanwhile, downriver in Nanking the city had ceased
to function. Banks and groceries had closed their doors,
and the raids had knocked out lights and plumbing. The
stench of human waste filled the air, while smoke from
burning villages blanketed the city. Citizens began to
USS Panay
flee by the thousands, choking the streets. As McDaniel
maneuvered his car carefully through the throngs, a few
desperate Chinese jumped onto the car’s running board.
The correspondent split his time between fending them
off, steering, ducking bullets and observing the exodus.
‘Throughout the night I heard
wild cries of Chinese, rifle fire
and deafening explosions’
On December 13 McDaniel was driving along the city’s
north wall when Japanese soldiers came pouring through
a breach. As one ran toward the car with rifle at the ready,
McDaniel prudently stopped and emerged slowly from
the car with hands held high. After ascertaining his identity, the Japanese allowed him to observe. The streets
were littered with corpses. Balanced atop a barricade sat
severed Chinese heads, a biscuit stuffed in one’s mouth,
a pipe in another’s.
Accompanied by newsreel photographer Menken, McDaniel witnessed Japanese soldiers looting throughout
‘My last remembrance
of Nanking: dead Chinese,
dead Chinese, dead Chinese’
to radio Panay to rescue them. The lieutenant apologized,
explaining that Panay had been sunk.
The next day the stunned correspondents headed down
to the Yangtze’s left bank, where two Allied gunboats were
anchored. Smith grabbed a spot on the British gunboat
Ladybird, while Steele, Durdin and Menken boarded the
U.S. gunboat Oahu. McDaniel chose to stay one more
day and returned to the embassy. When Japanese soldiers
attempted enter the building, McDaniel firmly told them,
“No!” and they left.
There was no water in the embassy for the Chinese
staff, so McDaniel filled buckets from a street well. It was
unsafe for any Chinese to be out on the streets. He volunteered to help one embassy servant find her mother,
only to find the woman’s body in a ditch. Peering into
the dusk, McDaniel watched as sword-wielding Japanese
soldiers marched several hundred bound Chinese prisoners from the safety zone. Among them were soldiers
the correspondent had helped disarm. None returned,
he noted in despair.
The next day McDaniel returned to the wharf and
boarded the Japanese destroyer Tsuga, bound for Shanghai. He certainly had stories to share, although his decision to stay an extra day had given United Press’ Archibald
Steele an opportunity to scoop him. Just after boarding
Oahu, Steele had persuaded the U.S. Navy radio operator
to break regulations and send his story. “I think he slipped
him a $50 bill or something,” Times correspondent Durdin
joked years later. Steele’s story ran in the December 15
Chicago Daily News.
As Tsuga raced down the Yangtze, McDaniel was able
to persuade the Japanese officers to transmit his own
horrifying account of Nanking’s death throes. “Throughout the night I heard wild cries of Chinese, rifle fire and
deafening explosions,” he wrote in a story that appeared
in stateside newspapers on December 17.
When he arrived in Shanghai that day, nearly three
months after he and Natalie made their fateful decision to
stay in Nanking, McDaniel filed a grim diary of the city’s
final days. Its conclusion was heartrending.
En route to the river saw many more bodies in the
streets. Passed a long line of Chinese, hands tied. One
broke away, ran and dropped on his knees in front
of me, beseeching me to save him from death. I could
do nothing. My last remembrance of Nanking: dead
Chinese, dead Chinese, dead Chinese.
To McDaniel and the other Western correspondents the
Japanese invasion of China and genocide in Nanking
marked the true beginning of World War II. The Japanese had indulged in widespread looting, burned onethird of the city to the ground, killed some 100,000
Chinese soldiers, brutally murdered tens of thousands
of Chinese civilians (reliable estimates range between
80,000 and 100,000) and raped untold thousands of
Chinese women. McDaniel and his colleagues had
the city, including one who forced a civilian at bayonet
point to fork over the equivalent of several thousand
dollars. The correspondents also watched in horror as
a Japanese staff car bounced and skidded over the bodies
of men and horses choking one of the city gates.
At the situation devolved, McDaniel and the other
Westerners urged Chinese soldiers to abandon their
weapons, change into civilian clothes and head for the
safety zone in Nanking set up by international diplomats
and clergy. Believing they had saved at least some of
the troops from execution, McDaniel and the four other
Western reporters had to figure out a way to get their
stories out of the city. Durdin commandeered a car to
reach Shanghai, but 60 miles outside town Japanese
soldiers forced him to turn back. On December 14 the
correspondents made their way to the wharf on the Yangtze River. There they asked a young Japanese naval officer
Opposite left: McDaniel and fellow
correspondents were stranded
when the steamer spiriting them
away from the imminent fall of
Singapore (opposite right) was
bombed. Obviously aged by his
wartime experiences, McDaniel
posed for this photo in May 1945.
risked all to “help inform the outside world of the
heightening crisis.”
During the world war to follow, Yates and Natalie McDaniel routinely accepted those risks. In one tally Natalie
figured she’d been “eight times a refugee from the Japanese.” After the February 1942 fall of Singapore, Yates and
a handful of escapees were briefly stranded on a desert island. He made the best of it, tapping out a story on a manual typewriter perched atop a downed palm tree, prompting
a fellow survivor to later joke, “This was going to be the
biggest scoop of his career.” The Associated Press talked up
its correspondent, boasting that McDaniel had been “the
first American correspondent to arrive and the last to leave
Singapore.” After his subsequent narrow escape from Java
to Australia, Time ran a flattering profile of him.
Yet when C. Yates McDaniel died quietly in St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 14, 1983, few outside his family paid
much attention. In the four decades since the war the
public had largely forgotten McDaniel, despite his having
been fully the equal of such war correspondents as Ernie
Pyle of Scripps-Howard and Edward R. Murrow and
William L. Shirer of CBS.
The 76-year-old seemed like just another white-haired retiree who had passed
his final years amid so many other senior
citizens in Florida. The only hint he had
DEC. 13, 1937–
been anyone special came from a sparse
obituary buried in The New York Times. It
suggested peril and courage and a past far SINO-JAPANESE WAR
more fascinating than most others knew.
Friends and relatives knew he’d spent the
postwar years writing about the autoCHINESE DEAD
motive industry in Detroit and politics in
Washington, D.C., for the Associated Press. But even those
who’d worked alongside him were startled to learn what
McDaniel had seen, what he had done and what he had
survived as a young man when the world was at war. MH
c. 200,000
Jack Torry is the Washington bureau chief of The Columbus Dispatch and Dayton Daily News. He has covered
politics, legal affairs and Congress in the nation’s capital
since 1989. He and wife Saundra live in Leesburg, Va. For
further reading he recommends The Rape of Nanking,
by Iris Chang, and Shanghai Grand, by Taras Grescoe.
War for
the Seas
jectory and even the outcome of the war.
Doing so shows how profoundly the course
of the war was charted and steered by maritime events.”
While meticulously recounting and analyzing the tactical and strategic aspects of
each naval engagement, Symonds also fleshes
out the personalities involved. For example,
consider his description of British Adm. Sir
Andrew Browne Cunningham, who commanded an Anglo-French naval force based
in Egypt early in the war and went on to
become first sea lord:
Cunningham’s reputation was not that
of a diplomat. He was a man with exacting standards, a confident manner and
an assertive physiognomy [with]…a
jawline like a battleship’s bow.
Readers interested in the technical aspects of weaponry will find plenty to appreciate. Symonds offers extensive details
on displacement tonnage, armaments and
World War II at Sea:
A Global History,
by Craig L. Symonds,
Oxford University
Press, New York,
2018, $34.95
When discussion of World War II arises,
one’s thoughts might naturally drift to the
great land battles of history’s bloodiest conflict—the brutal sieges at Stalingrad and
Moscow, the roiling Battle of the Bulge, the
slugfest to conquer the Nazi capital of Berlin. But Craig Symonds, the Ernest J. King
professor of maritime history at the U.S.
Naval War College and a professor emeritus
at the U.S. Naval Academy, takes on a different mission with his new work: to explore
every naval aspect of the war.
He does so in thorough detail—from October 1939, when a German U-boat sank a
British battleship at Scapa Flow off Scotland’s northern coast, to the September 1945
formal surrender of the Japanese aboard
USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
Symonds concedes that many books have
focused on the maritime aspects of World
War II, but narrowly and too often from
the victor’s perspective. “No single volume,”
he argues, “evaluates the impact of the sea
services from all nations on the overall tra-
Ships of the U.S. Pacific Fleet—carriers,
battleships, cruisers and escorts—gather
at the Ulithi Atoll anchorage in August 1944.
other attributes of the vessels in his
narrative, including a lengthy riff on
the LST—officially “landing ship,
tank,” but derided by U.S. veterans
as a “large, slow target.”
Extensively researched, generously
illustrated with maps, charts and photos, including intriguing portraits
of key participants both famous and
obscure, World War II at Sea is as
broad and deep as the far-flung waters
that serve as its contextual backdrop.
It’s a worthy addition to any maritime history buff’s book locker.
—Charles Vinch
The Armies of Ancient Persia:
The Sassanians, by Kaveh Farrokh,
Pen and Sword Books, Barnsley,
U.K., 2017, $44.95
Following Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Persian empire, rule of
the region passed from the Seleucids
to two succeeding powers: the Parthians (247 BC–AD 224) and the Sassanians (224–651). Before Muslim
armies ultimately overwhelmed the
latter, the Sassanians earned due recognition as the most formidable rival
of the Roman–Byzantine empire.
Over more than three centuries the
two powers fought a number of major
and minor wars, conflicts that weakened both, until the armies of Islam
overran the Sassanians. Much of what
historians later attributed to Muslim
culture in art, architecture, military
technology and medicine was mostly
Sassanid in origin, spread through
the Mediterranean world by the expansion of Islam.
Despite their contribution to Western military history and its technological advances, the armies of
ancient Persia have received scant
attention from Western military historians. Focusing on the armies of
the Sassanians, this book is the first
in a three-volume set intended to
address that oversight.
Author Farrokh is a native Iranian
who speaks several languages, attributes that enabled him to access
source materials inaccessible to most
Western scholars. The book is well
researched, edited, organized and
written, with no hint that English
is not the author’s first language.
His 46 pages of footnotes, 15 pages
of references and 14 pages of maps
place a trove of source materials in
the reader’s hands, though general
readers may find the level of detail
somewhat overwhelming. The result
is a major work of scholarship that is
long overdue.
—Richard A. Gabriel
Caught in the middle of the cascading events was General Thomas
Gage, the commander of British
forces in North America, who was
under pressure to act boldly and
teach the colonists a lesson. Although
Gage realized his force was too small
for the task, King George pressured
him to use his troops in increasingly
punitive ways. With the April 1775
killing of Colonial militiamen on the
Lexington Green and the unexpected
British embarrassment afterward at
Concord, Gage was proven right.
Unfortunately, it was too late—the
war was under way.
—Joseph Callo
Lexington and Concord: The Battle
Heard Round the World, by George
Daughan, W.W. Norton & Co.,
New York, 2018, $27.95
Andrew Jackson and the Miracle
of New Orleans: The Battle That
Shaped America’s Destiny, by
Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger,
Sentinel, New York, 2017, $28
In this analysis of the clashes at Lexington and Concord, Mass., on April
19, 1775, author Daughan pushes
past the simple what of history to illuminate the more thought-provoking
why. He hinges his study on two powerful forces that prompted the engagement—one broad-based, the
other centered on a single person.
The former was the colonial perception of King George III’s egregious overreach into Americans’
personal liberties, which fostered
deepening resentment. What the
British failed to realize was that, as
the author says, “Farmers and artisans were determined to fight it out.”
The latter was the king’s conviction colonists owed him their allegiance, and that a military chastisement
would cause the “loudmouth agitators [to be] deserted—embarrassed
by the country people, who would
be afraid to come out and fight.”
It was the Dec. 16, 1773, Boston
Tea Party that fanned the embers of
resentment into flames of open revolt. The British Parliament reacted
by imposing the aptly named Intolerable Acts, both to punish the Massachusetts colonists and to reinforce
London’s right to tax them.
Fox News anchor Kilmeade and coauthor Yaeger focus on Andrew Jackson’s unexpected, decisive victory
over the British that ended the fighting in the War of 1812. Known as
“Old Hickory” to followers and
“Sharp Knife” to American Indian
foes, Jackson rode his reputation for
military heroics all the way to the
White House, ushering in what historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. called
“The Age of Jackson.”
Kilmeade and Yaeger draw on many
firsthand accounts, notably Jack-
Lest We Forget
Michael W. Robbins
This heavily illustrated,
well-written volume from
the renowned Pritzker
Military Museum and
Library in Chicago relates
the key events of World
War I through the art the
conflict inspired—paintings, period photos and
posters—while conveying
the sheer scale, cost and
destruction of the world’s
first truly global conflict.
son’s own papers, to weave
a lively narrative supported
with ample endnotes and
a bibliography. There are
sins of omission—for example, no mention of Jackson as a slave owner, nor
of his “contempt of court”
citation from a federal judge
related to the questionable
imposition of martial law
before, during and after the
battle. And while this popular history presents little
new information, it does
bring alive Jackson’s iron
willpower and colorful personality, as well as the Chalmette battlefield, on the
Mississippi a few miles
downriver from New Orleans. It is a worthwhile
supplement to the definitive works of renowned
Jackson scholar Robert V.
Remini—particularly his
1999 biography of “Old
Hickory”—as well as Donald R. Hickey’s very good
2015 study, Glorious Victory.
—William John Shepherd
Lützen, by Peter H. Wilson,
Oxford University Press,
New York, 2018, $24.95
Echo in Ramadi
Scott A. Huesing
Huesing commanded Echo
Company, 2nd Battalion,
4th Marines, in Al Anbar
Province during one of the
most dangerous series
of battles of the Iraq War.
His recollections and tactical insights illuminate
the savagery of urban
combat, as well as the
physical and psychological toll the campaign took
on his Marines.
Sweden has enjoyed a reputation for neutrality so long
that one has to go back centuries to recall a time when
it was a major military power, entertaining imperial
pretensions in Europe. The
1618–48 Thirty Years’ War
marked the penultimate
such occasion, and Sweden’s participation in that
conflict peaked at the Battle
of Lützen.
Fought on Nov. 16, 1632,
between the forces of the
Protestant Swedish empire
and the Catholic Holy Roman empire, Lützen was also
a battle between two of the
greatest generals of their day:
Swedish King Gustavus II
Adolphus and Holy Roman
Generalissimo Albrecht von
Wallenstein. In spite of the
inconclusive outcome of the
fight and the king’s death
on the battlefield, the subsequent withdrawal of Wallenstein’s army marked the
battle as a Swedish and Protestant victory.
Taking place midway
through the Thirty Years’
War, Lützen was neither the
largest nor last battle of that
conflict. Over the past four
centuries, however, Lützen has come to be seen by
Swedes, Germans and Protestants as a landmark event.
Peter Wilson’s new book,
the latest entry in Oxford’s
Great Battles series, re-examines not only the conduct of
the battle, but also its place
in the greater war. He also
looks at its changing cultural context to subsequent
generations during the Napoleonic era, the emergence
of Germany as a nationstate, both world wars and
the communist era. This is
a fascinating new work on
a battle and war all too rarely covered in the Englishspeaking world.
—Robert Guttman
‘I Will Not Surrender the
Hair of a Horse’s Tail’:
The Victorio Campaign,
1879, by Robert N. Watt,
Helion & Co., Solihull,
U.K., 2018, $49.95
In 1880 the Chihenne Chief
Victorio, among the greatest
Apache military strategists
of his time, spoke the words
that inspired this book’s title
when confronted by Col.
Edward Hatch of the 9th
U.S. Cavalry. Watt describes
the ensuing campaign in
an exceptionally detailed
narrative enriched with 18
period photos, numerous
illustrations and plenty of
superb maps.
Born circa 1809 in what
would become New Mexico, Victorio grew up during a period of increasing
hostility between Apaches
and encroaching American and Mexican settlers.
The federal “concentration policy”—designating
that all Apaches live on a
single reservation instead
of several—only exacerbated tensions. In its justification the government
cited the continued resistance of the Chiricahua war
leader Geronimo, a particularly divisive figure in the
history of the Apache wars,
and his use of the Chihenne
reservation at Ojo Caliente
as a staging ground for raids
down into Mexico. Compounding problems for the
Apaches, a deadly feud soon
erupted among those bands
crowded onto the single res-
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ervation at San Carlos, Arizona Territory.
In September 1877 Victorio led most of his people
out of San Carlos, stating
his desire to return to relative peace in their former
haunts at Ojo Caliente. At
first they engaged in little
more than horse-stealing
raids to support themselves.
But when self-sufficiency
seemed out of reach, a desperate Victorio declared
war on the United States in
August 1879.
Victorio’s warriors, never
more than 150 in number,
inflicted devastating losses
on the pursuing 9th Cavalry
troopers, citizen volunteers
and Mexican troops before
taking refuge in the remote
ranges of northern Mexico.
Small wonder the Apaches
have been described as “the
most dangerous antagonists
in the world.”
—David Saunders
Canadians on the Somme,
1916: The Neglected Campaign, by William F. Stewart, Helion & Co., Solihull,
U.K., 2017, $59.95
Presenting the first detailed
account of the Canadian experience in the 1916 Battle
of the Somme, author Stewart justly frames it as the
neglected campaign. Over
some 80 days Canadian
troops encountered all types
of weather, ground conditions, defenses and dogged
defenders. They smashed
through German defenses
and achieved stirring victories; they also recorded
staggering defeats, suffering
24,029 dead or wounded in
what proved the Canadian
Expeditionary Force’s second-longest and costliest
campaign, surpassed only
by the 1918 Hundred Days
offensive, during which it
suffered 45,000 casualties.
The Canadian Corps
won its principal victory
at the Somme on Sept. 15–
17, 1916, when it captured
two sets of formidable
defenses and the village
of Courcelette.
That momentum was
impossible to sustain. The
Battle of Thiepval Ridge followed soon after, the Canadians doggedly advancing
some 1,600 yards before
failing at the last. It would
take another four weeks
of fighting before Regina
Trench was in their hands.
Supplemented by 79
photographs and 33 maps,
this well-written and very
detailed narrative properly
recognizes the sacrifice and
determination of Canadians
who fought in 1916, reflecting on their loss and the
experience gained paving
the way to ultimate victory
at Vimy Ridge in 1917.
—David Saunders
D-Day Murders
Race to Sedan
Ward in China
Romans vs. Greeks
History on Exhibit
Tombs of Memory
Was San Jacinto really
the last battle of Texas war
for independence?
What Texas battle did
Jefferson Davis call the
“Confederate Thermopylae”?
What battle involving Kit Carson
almost became the Little Big
Horn of the Southern Plains?
Why was the second Battle
of Palo Duro Canyon a disaster
for the Comanche Nation when
only three warriors were killed?
Read about the Military History
of Texas from the early Spanish
period through the Red River
War, the Battles of Spanish Fort,
Encinal De Medina, the Alamo,
San Jacinto, Neches River, Salado
Creek, Galveston, Adobe Walls and others.
For more information about Battles of Texas,
Battles of Texas by Joseph P. Regan (290 pages)
Available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon:
Hardcover, $29.99; Softcover, $19.99; Kindle, $3.99
A Heinkel He 111 B-2 of the
Luftwaffe’s Condor Legion
releases its lethal load during
the 1936–39 Spanish Civil War
THE 1937
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Hallowed Ground
Megiddo (Armageddonn), Israel
egiddo, in Israel’s Jezreel Valley, is among the
most fought-over pieces of ground in history.
The world’s great armies have waged 34 known
battles across the terrain surrounding the base
of Tel Megiddo, the hilltop settlement dating
from 7000 BC. It is the site of history’s first reliably recorded battle, when in 1457 BC Egyptians under Pharaoh Thutmose III defeated a coalition of
Canaanite tribes. Many people also believe Megiddo will
host history’s last great battle, a climactic clash between
the forces of good and evil at the place the New Testament
Book of Revelation calls by its Greek name—Armageddon.
In an age when merchants transported almost all trade
goods on the backs of camels and horses, Megiddo was
strategic terrain in every sense of the term. From its position on the western edge of the Jezreel Valley this high
ground dominated the narrow Musmus Pass on the Via
Maris, a primary overland trade route in ancient and early
medieval times. It linked Egypt with Asia Minor (presentday Turkey) and Mesopotamia’s Fertile Crescent (presentday Iraq). Branches of the fabled Silk and Spice roads
ran through the Jezreel along the Via Maris.
Battles since lost to the mists of time were undoubtedly
fought there before 1457 BC. Fragmentary inscriptions on
ancient Egyptian tombs strongly suggest that in 2350 BC
forces under Pharaoh Pepi I defeated Canaanite rebels at
the Nose of the Gazelle’s Head, a landmark historians have
placed somewhere in the Mount Carmel coastal range,
just a few miles northwest of Megiddo.
The Old Testament records five key clashes around
Megiddo. In 1285 BC the Israelite prophet Deborah and her
military counterpart, Barak, sent Canaanite General Sisera
packing in battle near Mount Tabor, 21 miles northeast of
Megiddo. Sisera kept running until a turncoat drove a tent
peg through his skull. Forty years later a band of 300 Israelites under the prophet and commander Gideon routed
a greatly superior Midianite army at the Hill of Moreh, just
east of Megiddo. In 1055 BC Saul, first king of a united
Israel, lost the battle, his life, his head and three sons to the
Philistines at Mount Gilboa, 20 miles southeast of Megiddo,
leaving son-in-law David as king. In 841 BC the Israelite
captain Jehu staged a coup against King Joram, piercing his
heart with an arrow in a chariot duel just east of Megiddo
before having his mother, the infamous Queen Jezebel,
thrown from a window to her death in Jezreel. Finally, in
609 BC Egyptian Pharaoh Necho II defeated and killed King
Josiah of Judah (opposite, in lead chariot) in battle at Megiddo and turned the southern kingdom into a vassal state.
Tel Megiddo was abandoned in 586 BC, about the time
Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II besieged Jerusalem,
overran Judah and sent many survivors into the infamous
“Babylonian captivity.” But over the subsequent two and
a half millennia the fighting has continued on the plain
surrounding Megiddo. In AD 67, during the Jewish Revolt
against Rome, future emperor Vespasian routed a rebel
force at Mount Tabor. In 1182 and again in 1187 Sultan
Saladin of Egypt and Syria defeated the Crusaders at Mount
Tabor, though in 1183 he cut and ran at Ain Jalut (presentday Ein Harod, Israel), between Megiddo and Mount Gilboa. The Egyptian Mamluks defeated a force of invading
Mongols at Ain Jalut in 1260, only to be thrashed themselves four years later by a combined Crusader force of
Templers and Hospitallers at Lejjun, a mile east of the
Tel Megiddo ruins.
In the modern era Napoléon Bonaparte turned around
a French battle against Ottoman Turks at Mount Tabor in
1799, while in 1918 British General Edmund Allenby
defeated a mixed force of Ottomans and Germans at Megiddo. Israel fought four distinct battles—two in 1948,
one in 1967 and another in 1973—against Arab forces
around Megiddo. Present-day Tel Megiddo (Armageddon) National Park [
TelMegiddo] encompasses perhaps the most significant
archeological site in Israel, where excavations have unearthed more than two-dozen layers of habitation stretching
back to the early Bronze Age.
Peace may reign for the time being in Megiddo, but
if the final battle between good and evil foretold in the
New Testament comes to pass, it may not be confined
to the surrounding plain. Since the end of World War II
the name Armageddon has become synonymous with a
potential global nuclear cataclysm. MH
By David T. Zabecki
Among the 34 known battles fought at Tel Megiddo or on the
surrounding plain was a 609 BC clash (top) between King
Josiah’s Judeans and Egyptians under Pharaoh Necho II.
Present-day Tel Megiddo (Armageddon) National Park is
one of the most significant archaeological sites in Israel.
War Games
John Barry
Indian Border Wars
Match each of the following
opponents to the year it attacked
India from either east or west:
1. Macedonia
2. Qing China
3. Japan
4. Timurid empire
5. Afghans
6. Mughal dynasty
7. People’s Republic of China
8. Pakistan
10. Arabs
____ A. 643
____ B. 1526
____ C. 1947
____ D. 1962
____ E. 1540
Wings Over Chaco
____ F. 326 BC
Identity these aircraft in the 1932–35 clash between Paraguay and Bolivia:
____ I. 1841
____ J. 1942
Answers: A10, B6, C8, D7, E5, F1, G4, H9, I2, J3
____ A. Vickers Type 143 (Bolivia)
____ B. Wibault 73 C.1 (Paraguay)
____ C. Curtiss P-6S Hawk II
____ D. Potez 25 TOE (Paraguay)
____ E. Curtiss-Wright C14R
Osprey (Bolivia)
____ F. Fiat CR.20bis (Paraguay)
Answers: A5, B4, C2, D1, E6, F3
____ G. 1398
____ H. 1292
9. Chagatai khanate
Invention of the Year
Martial Megiddo
This ancient city (aka Armageddon)
in present-day Israel has witnessed
some 34 battles—to date.
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1. Who defeated the Judeans
at Megiddo in 609 BC?
A. King Nabopolassar
B. King Nebuchadnezzar II
C. Pharaoh Necho II
D. King Jehoahaz
2. Mamluk Sultan Qutuz lured
the Mongols into an ambush
near Megiddo amid what battle
in 1260?
A. Ain Jalut B. Horns of Hattin
D. Montgisard
C. Arsuf
3. Which outsider called Megiddo
“the most natural battlefield of
the whole earth”?
A. Kitbuqa
B. Napoléon Bonaparte
C. Sir William Sidney Smith
D. Edmund Allenby
5. Who rallied the battered Ottoman Seventh Army south of
Aleppo after Megiddo in 1918?
A. Otto Liman von Sanders
B. Jevad Pasha
C. Ismet Bey
D. Mustafa Kemal Pasha
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Answers: C, A, B, C, D
4. Which British officer was not
at the 1918 Battle of Megiddo?
A. General Edmund Allenby
B. Lt. Col. Richard Williams
C. Lt. Gen. John Monash
D. Colonel T.E. Lawrence
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Call to Arms
Crewmen aboard the battleship USS Texas strike
a playful pose atop the warship’s aft 14-inch guns
in early January 1918. Weeks later the ship left
New York bound for Britain, where it was based
for the remainder of World War I. The vessel’s
first real combat action did not come until
the 1942 Allied invasion of North Africa.
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Expert Pacific WWII historians Richard
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This unique journey with The National WWII Museum takes guests to the sites of the Pacific war,
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