Nowadays they’d surely Sioux?

Came across this the other day; Robert McGee taken in 1890, one a of a very small group of people to have been scalped by Sioux Indians and to have lived!

 

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In 1864, Robert and his family were heading West in a bid to find work.  As they headed towards Leavenworth, Roberts parents died and this is where the story gets a bit murky, it can be read two ways, one is that he was working on the wagon trains and his wagon train was set upon by Indians and the other is that shortly after his parents died the wagon train he was on was set upon.  So he is either on the same or a later wagon train.  However this doesn’t matter a great deal; After the rest of the train lay dead, either killed fighting or butchered as unarmed prisoners, McGee was taken before Little Turtle, the leader of the Sioux band, the chief decided that he would kill the boy himself, and he shot McGee in the back, then they shot him with arrows, pinning him to the ground.  It was then whilst the boy was still conscious, the chief took out his blade and removed sixty four square inches from McGee’s head, starting just behind the ears. After this ordeal the rest of the band stabbed him with the intention of finishing him off.

 

“The army at the nearby post heard that there were Sioux in the area, so they sent out a patrol to check things out. The patrol reached the scene of the slaughter about 2 hours after it occurred. They were shocked to see the carnage, and even more shocked to see that Robert was still alive. He was taken to Fort Larned, where the post surgeon treated his injuries. Amazingly, Robert recovered from his wounds. He lived, even though he no longer had a scalp.” [http://old-photos.blogspot.co.uk/2008/04/robert-mcgee.html]

 

So there you go…… a man who was scalped by the Sioux, and lived to tell the tale…. a remarkable tale indeed.

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The last casualties of the Great War for Civilisation……….

On the 11th of November, 861 British and Commonwealth soldiers were killed. Now most of us will never have heard of any of the men killed on this day, but I would like to bring just two of their names to your attention. The first is a man called George Ellison and the second: George Laurence Price. Why? Because on the 11th November 1918, just half an hour before the Armistice came into effect, Private Ellison was killed, making him officially the last British Soldier to be killed in the Great War for Civilisation; 1914-1918. The Second man; George Laurence Price, was killed at 10.58, 2 minutes before the war ceased, became the last Commonwealth soldier killed in the Great War.

George_E_Ellison

Private George Ellison; 5th Royal Irish Lancers.

Ellison was born and lived at 49, Edmund Street, Bank, Leeds, he was the Son of James W. and Mary Ellison. Early in his life, he joined the army as a regular soldier, but had left by 1912 when he got married to Hannah Maria Burgan and had become a coal miner. Sometime just before the outbreak of war he was recalled to the army, joining the 5th Royal Irish Lancers, serving in the army at the start of the war. He fought at the Battle of Mons in 1914, and several other battles including the Battle of Ypres, Battle of Armentières, Battle of La Basee, Battle of Lens, Battle of Loos, and Battle of Cambrai on the Western Front. He was killed an hour and a half before the armistice, on a patrol on the outskirts of Mons, Belgium.

George_lawrence_price

Private George Price; 28th ‘Northwest’ Battalion Canadian Infantry (Saskatchewan Regiment)

He was born in Falmouth, Nova Scotia, on December 15, 1892, and raised on Church Street, in what is now Port Williams, Nova Scotia. He lived in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, when he was conscripted on October 15, 1917. He served with “A” Company of the 28th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force. On November 11, Pte Price was part of an advance to take the small village of Havré. After a crossing of the Canal du Centre into the town of Ville-sur-Haine under German machine gun fire, Price and his patrol moved toward a row of houses intent on pursuing the machine gunner who had harassed their crossing of the canal. The patrol had entered the house from which they had thought the shooting had come, but found the Germans had exited through the back door as they entered the front. They then pursued into the house next door and again found it empty. George Price was fatally shot in the region of his heart by a German sniper as he stepped out of the house into the street, against contrary advice from a house occupant, at 10:58 a.m., November 11, 1918. He died just 2 minutes before the armistice ceasefire, that ended the war, came into effect at 11 a.m

Now there are other soldiers I should name here as well:

USA: Pvt Henry Gunther of Baltimore, MD, Company A, 313th Infantry, 79th Division of the US Army: Died 10.59 11/11/1918 Officially, Gunter was the last man to die in World War One. His unit had been ordered to advance and take a German machine gun post. It is said that even the Germans – who knew that they were literally minutes away from a ceasefire – tried to stop the Americans attacking. But when it became obvious that this had failed, they fired on their attackers and Gunter was killed. His divisional record stated:

“Almost as he fell, the gunfire died away and an appalling silence prevailed.”

FRANCE: Augustin Trebuchon from the 415th Infantry Regiment. He was a runner and was in the process of taking a message to his colleagues at the front informing them of the ceasefire. He was hit by a single shot and killed at 10.50. In total, 75 French soldiers were killed on November 11th but their graves state November 10th. Two theories have been forwarded for this discrepancy. The first is that by stating that they died on November 10th before the war had ended, there could be no question about their family’s entitlement to a war pension. The other theory, is that the French government wanted to avoid any form of embarrassment or political scandal should it ever become known that so many died on the last day of the war. [http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/november_11_1918.htm]

Augustin Trébuchon was born at Montchabrier (near Le Malzieu-Ville in the Lozère) on 30 May 1878, with four younger brothers and sisters. His mother died when he was young and his father nine years later. He had been in the army since the war began in 1914. He was a communal shepherd and played accordion at village marriages before volunteering for the army on 4 August 1914. He joined the 415th Infantry Regiment as a messenger. He had already served in the second battle of the Marne and at Verdun, Artois and the Somme before arriving in the Ardennes at the end of the war. He had twice been wounded, including badly in his left arm by an exploding shell.  Upon his promotion to the rank of Soldat de Première Classe (Private First Class) in September 1918 it was said that he was “a good soldier having always achieved his duty, of remarkable calm, setting the best example to his young comrades.”

Trébuchon, as a messenger, knew an agreement had been signed before the rest of his unit. At Vrigne-sur-Meuse, in the Ardennes, the 163rd Infantry Division was ordered to attack an élite German unit, the Hannetons.  General Henri Gouraud told his men to cross the Meuse and to attack “as fast as possible, by whatever means and regardless of cost”.  It has been speculated that the attack was to end any possible hesitations by German negotiators at Compiègne, that Maréchal Foch believed the Germans were reluctant to sign and so ordered Général Philippe Pétain to press on across the Meuse.

Trébuchon was halfway between Sedan and Charleville-Mézières. Rain was falling and the Meuse was flooding. Its width was put at 70m. The temperature was well below freezing. Warfare had destroyed bridges across the river and sappers worked by night and in fog to build a plank footbridge across a lock. There had been no reconnaissance of the other bank because bad weather had kept the spotter plane on the ground. Around 700 men crossed the river a little after 8am, taking a telephone wire with them. Some fell in the river and the first deaths were by drowning.

The fog cleared at 10.30am and the French could see the Germans installed a little higher than them, a few hundred metres away. The French were spread over three kilometres between the Meuse and a railway line. The Germans opened fire with machine guns. The French sent up a spotter plane now that the fog had lifted and the artillery on the other bank could open fire without fear of killing their own side. Darkness fell again at 6pm and the battle continued until news of the armistice arrived.

The last of the 91 French soldiers to die was Trébuchon, “with a red hole in his right side”, probably a figure of speech as this expression comes from Arthur Rimbaud’s very famous poem “Le Dormeur du Val” (The Sleeper in the Valley). He was 40. He fell near the railway line with his message still in his hand. It read “Rassemblement à 11h 30 pour le ravitaillement – “Muster at 11.30 for food.” The armistice followed and the French withdrew without honouring their dead.

GERMANY: Lieutenant Tomas: After 11:00, he approached some American soldiers to let them know that, since the war was over, he and his men were vacating a house and it would be available. Unfortunately, no one had informed the Americans of the Armistice and they shot him.

“Nazi” German, and American soldiers fighting….. side by side?

When we think of WW2, we think most commonly of plucky Brits and Yanks fighting against brutish Germans.  However the distinction should be made for the Germans; that there were the Wehrmacht, and the SS, the SS were the racially superior members of the “Master Race”, and were not wholly loved by the Wehrmacht, or the allied forces.   It was on May the 4th, that this tension between the Wehrmacht and the SS came to a head, with the Battle for Castle Itter.  The only recorded instance of the US army and the German army fighting side by side against the SS………

“Administratively, Itter was a subcamp of Dachau concentration camp; the castle’s detention conditions were, however, not comparable with those at Dachau. Itter’s prisoners were freed by units of the American 103rd Infantry Division of General Anthony McAuliffe on May 5, 1945. The next day, the American units fought alongside the German guards against attacking SS elements until reinforcements arrived, several hours after the end of the war”

http://ebookbrowse.com/battle-for-castle-itter-pdf-d47447087

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2323949/The-World-War-II-battle-Americans-Germans-fought-SAME-Incredible-true-story-fight-save-Austrian-castle-weeks-Hitler-committed-suicide.html

Japanese Surrender……. heard but not necessarily understood…

On 14th August 1945 for the first time in history the Imperial Emperor of Japan took to the radio and spoke to the common people.  The reason this momentous occasion came about, was that the Allies had dropped two atomic weapons on Japan and ushered the world forcefully into the atomic age.  He spoke to his people and said….. Well this is the problem, not many Japanese people were too sure what he said; as he spoke a completely different dialect to the one they did.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/42/Imperial_Rescript_on_the_Termination_of_the_War.ogg – A recording of the speech.

“To our good and loyal subjects:  After pondering deeply the general trends of the world and the actual conditions obtaining in our empire today, we have decided to effect a settlement of the present situation by resorting to an extraordinary measure.

We have ordered our Government to communicate to the Governments of the United States, Great Britain, China and the Soviet Union that our empire accepts the provisions of their joint declaration.

To strive for the common prosperity and happiness of all nations as well as the security and well-being of our subjects is the solemn obligation which has been handed down by our imperial ancestors and which we lay close to the heart.

Indeed, we declared war on America and Britain out of our sincere desire to insure Japan’s self-preservation and the stabilization of East Asia, it being far from our thought either to infringe upon the sovereignty of other nations or to embark upon territorial aggrandizement.

But now the war has lasted for nearly four years.  Despite the best that has been done by everyone–the gallant fighting of our military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of out servants of the State and the devoted service of our 100,000,000 people–the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.

Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives.   Should we continue to fight, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.

Such being the case, how are we to save the millions of our subjects, nor to atone ourselves before the hallowed spirits of our imperial ancestors?  This is the reason why we have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the joint declaration of the powers.

We cannot but express the deepest sense of regret to our allied nations of East Asia, who have consistently cooperated with the Empire toward the emancipation of East Asia.

The thought of those officers and men as well as others who have fallen in the fields of battle, those who died at their posts of duty, or those who met death [otherwise] and all their bereaved families, pains our heart night and day.

The welfare of the wounded and the war sufferers and of those who lost their homes and livelihood is the object of our profound solicitude.  The hardships and sufferings to which our nation is to be subjected hereafter will be certainly great.

We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all of you, our subjects.  However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that we have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the [unavoidable] and suffering what is unsufferable.  Having been able to save *** and maintain the structure of the Imperial State, we are always with you, our good and loyal subjects, relying upon your sincerity and integrity.

Beware most strictly of any outbursts of emotion that may engender needless complications, of any fraternal contention and strife that may create confusion, lead you astray and cause you to lose the confidence of the world.

Let the entire nation continue as one family from generation to generation, ever firm in its faith of the imperishableness of its divine land, and mindful of its heavy burden of responsibilities, and the long road before it.  Unite your total strength to be devoted to the construction for the future.  Cultivate the ways of rectitude, nobility of spirit, and work with resolution so that you may enhance the innate glory of the Imperial State and keep pace with the progress of the world.”

Strangely such was the division between the Japanese people and the Emperor (and his court) that he spoke a classical dialect that had almost ceased in common usage several hundred years earlier.  The Imperial Japanese court was very separate from common life and they were treated as deities and rarely, if ever, had a need to speak with anyone outside their courtiers.  The changing face of feudal Japan meant that this separation left the Japanese court speaking a dead dialect, and the common people speaking a more “Pinyin” Japanese dialect [By “pinyin” I mean as in a universal dialect like the Chinese, as throughout Japans different areas, islands etc. they spoke many differing dialects which were used to denote class and area, occasionally to the detriment of the speaker]. This intransigence between the dialects meant that for a short while they needed to wait to get a translation so the orders could be re-broadcast to clarify the Emperors orders.

Taking tea with the enemy……

Sergeant Thomas James Sevier MM, MSM 2/3rd South Midland Field Ambulance R.A.M.C. (T.F.)

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Seargent Sevier had an interesting war; he had served through the Battle of the Ancre winning a military medal for rescuing wounded men under heavy shell fire near Beaumont Hamel on the 16th of November 1917.   It is his post war service however that is most interesting, not much is noted about the Royal Army Medical Corps involvement in the North Russian campaigns in 1919, however the citation that Thomas receives show that the front was an interesting place to be….

“Meritorious Service Medal” awarded on the 30th September 1919 (Archangel Command, Russia), for:

“This N.C.O has performed meritorious service in the DVINA force. Practically the whole time he has been the senior N.C.O. in the forward hospital at TOULGAS. On one occasion when the hospital was captured by the enemy, by his presence of mind, in remaining with the patients, he protected them when threatened, and persuaded the enemy to sit down to tea, until the village was recaptured.”

It does make you think that this must have been an absurd sight to see Bolshevik forces drinking tea with a British Sergeant and wounded men….

The town of Toulgas, was fought over fiercely by British and American troops and was taken and recaptured several times during 1919, with rumours abounding of Leon Trotsky even being present with troops.   The hospital was situated at the North end of Toulgas was near the Dvina river, and only 200 miles from Archangel.

For information on the battles at Toulgas:

http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/2/2/5/2/22523/22523.txt

Video of Toulgas and troops:

http://www3.nfb.ca/ww1/postwar-film.php?id=538504

 

UPDATE:

Whilst digging through my record boxes, I found the original personal commendation for bravery presented to Thomas Sevier by the Major-General, officer commanding of the 61st (South Midland) Division.

 

It says:

 

This parchment has been awarded to no. 439298

Sergeant Thomas James Sevier 2/3rd South Midland Field Ambulance R.A.M.C. (T.F.)

In recognition of the act of gallantry that he performed on 8th December 1917 near Viliers Plough.

During the day the shellfire was so severe that the wounded in the dressing station (Charing Cross S.W. of Beaucamp) had to be moved on five occasions.  This was done under very heavy shell fire.  Owing to the personal courage of this N.C.O. the transference of these cases was effected without further casualties.

On another occasion this Sergeant was blown over by a shell whilst assisting Ptes. HISCOCK and WILSON to carry in some wounded lying outside the advanced dressing station at Charing Cross.

This certificate issued in appreciation of the act, but does not entitle or qualify the recipient to any reward, extra emolument or pension.

 

Signed Major – General,

Comdg 61st (South Midland) Division.