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Fashion from Crimean War

As I was saying to Nikolai this afternoon, war often leads to fashion items which endure long after the war that spawned them is over.

cardigan: a knitted wool sweater with long sleeves opening down the front as worn by our spokesmodel, Nickolai.

Take the Cardigan sweater, a fashion item owned by many men and women. The garment itself is defined as a knitted wool sweater with long sleeves opening down the front.

The man who made this unlikely garment fashionable was none other than the 7th Earl of Cardigan. Is he famous for anything else? Yes, in October of 1854, he led the ill-fated Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War. (1853 to 1856). The causes of the war are boring and complicated. Suffice it to say that the French and British went to the Crimea to fight the Russians and the Ottomans (Turks) over something.

 

Cardigan

Cardigan was an insecure, arrogant, self-righteous, narcissistic jerk who wore a wool sweater of his own design which opened down the front. Besides having an eye for fashion, he was brave since he personally led the Charge of the Light Brigade into Russian artillery fire. 

“Here goes the last of the Brudenell’s,” said Lord James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan…and then Major General Commanding the Light Brigade, a cavalry formation which included his personal regiment, the 11th Hussars, upon receiving the order to charge batteries of Russian artillery. This was part of the Battle of Balaclava which was part of the overall siege of Sevastopol, the key Russian naval base in the Crimea.

Spokesmodel Nickolai modeling a heavy wool balaclava.

Allow me to interrupt myself to call your attention to the Battle of Balaclava (the town itself served as a British supply point). It was so cold in the Crimean winter that women in England knitted wool garments which covered the faces and necks of the English soldiers. The men received these garments when they would go for supplies at the town of Balaclava, hence the name.

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The charge of the Light Brigade accomplished nothing and was the result of inaccurate and misleading orders. But it did generate a famous poem. While many are familiar with poem, they don’t know what event inspired the poet. Below is the first stanza.

The Charge Of The Light Brigade

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Half a league half a league, 
Half a league onward, 
All in the valley of Death 
Rode the six hundred: 
‘Forward, the Light Brigade! 
Charge for the guns’ he said: 
Into the valley of Death 
Rode the six hundred. 

(A league is an imprecise unit of measurement which fell out of use in the late 19th Century.)

War and fashion unfortunately often go together. The trench coat is exactly that: a coat first made in England in World War One for officers to wear in the trenches of the Western front. And “bomber jackets” are also exactly that–jackets worn by the pilot and copilots of American bombers in World War Two.

(The cockpit and navigator’s area were heated. The rest of the plane was not and other crew members had to wear electrically heated suits. Curiously, they had to clean these with gasoline. The air gunners who fired from the large opening on each side of the aircraft also wore chain mail manufactured by Wilkinson sword to protect them from shrapnel. (Invented by the British Army officer, Captain Shrapnel).

Baldwin Eviscerated by Churchill

War_Industry_in_Britain_during_the_First_World_War_Q84077

Minister of Munitions Winston Churchill meets women war workers at Georgetown’s filling works near Glasgow during a visit on 9 October 1918. Photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum.

“…they go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent…”

 

Stanley_Baldwin_resize

The incompetent Stanley Baldwin in the 1920s. He served as Prime Minister of Great Britain on three occasions: 1923 to 1924, 1924 to 1929 and 1935 to 1937. 

Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin was a wealthy man, quite out of his depth, entirely out of touch with his times, and possessed of a foolish rigidity of thought which ill-prepared Great Britain for the coming war. His nickname, “the Vicar” will give you an idea of how he was seen. (And it was a compliment). Worse, his personal and his campaign slogan was ‘Safety First.’  This actually meant, ‘don’t do anything which might rock the boat’ which was manifested by his not doing anything.

Baldwin still saw England as a nation of small villages, inspired by the narrow values and philosophies of small villages. He did not understand and could not understand the threat Hitler and other totalitarian states were to Great Britain and the British Empire.

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Winston Churchill in full cry on the campaign trail during a speech in Uxbridge, Middlesex, during the general election campaign on 27 June 1945. (photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum).

On 12 November 1936, in a debate in the House of Commons over what Winston Churchill believed was a far-too-casual and much-too-small initial rebuilding of the armed forces of the Crown, he excoriated Baldwin and his cabinet for their timidity and indecision about rearmament.
“The Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence has argued as usual against a Ministry of Supply. The arguments which he used were weighty, and even ponderous… But then my right hon. friend went on somewhat surprisingly to say, ‘The decision is not final’. It would be reviewed again in a few weeks. What will you know in a few weeks about this matter that you do not know now, that you ought not to have known a year ago, and have not been told any time in the last six months?….
The First Lord of the Admiralty in his speech the other night went even farther. He said, ‘We are always reviewing the position. Everything, he assured us is entirely fluid. I am sure that that is true. Anyone can see what the position is.

The Government simply cannot make up their minds, or they cannot get the Prime Minister to make up his mind. So they go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent.”

 

churchill from NPR

Churchill speaking during the General Election campaign of 1945 which took place after the surrender of Nazi Germany on 8 May 1945.

Churchill,_uniform resize

21 year old Winston Spencer Churchill of the 4th Queens Hussars. 1895

One of the reasons so many of Churchill’s speeches are remembered is he rarely spoke off the cuff. He always carefully prepared his remarks, usually spending hours and hours of labor upon the drafts.  He dictated his speeches to a secretary then revised then over and over before delivering them.

A fascinating article about Churchill’s speeches can be found here:

www.winstonchurchill.org/his-speeches-how-churchill-did-it

 

London Blackout Fashion for Use During Blitz

For fear the German Luftwaffe would be able to use the smallest pinprick of light as an aiming point, a blackout lasting from sunset till dawn was imposed on 1 September 1939 throughout the United Kingdom (with the exception of Northern Ireland).

For most people in the Great Britain this was the first tangible effect of the war and it had wide ranging effects from an increase in motor car collisions to large numbers of people being run down by trams to depression. For many months nothing actually happened but when the London Blitz began people were happy they had stocked up with various items.

BLACKOUT ACCESSORIES FOR SALE, SELFRIDGE’S, LONDON, ENGLAND, C 1940 (D 66) A sales assistant, using a stuffed toy, demonstrates a blackout coat for dogs to a customer at Selfridge’s department store in London. The coat would make sure that the dog was visible to car drivers and pedestrians during the dark nights of the blackout. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205197491

 

These photos of the era are fascinating since they show only well-to-do middle and upper middle class people shopping for blackout items at Selfridge’s. This was a high end department store with its flagship London store on Oxford Street where these posed photographs were taken. No allowance was given homeowners or renters to purchase blackout materials or paint.

BLACKOUT ACCESSORIES FOR SALE, SELFRIDGE’S, LONDON, ENGLAND, C 1940 (D 75) A female shop assistant displays a white raincoat for use in the blackout. The colour of the fabric of the coat would mean that the wearer would be clearly visible to other pedestrians and to motorists in the dark streets of the blackout. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205197497

 

It is difficult for us to picture what it would be like to live in a urban area such as London and once night fell, discover it was almost impossible to see anything. Literally. Unless there was moonlight, you could barely see your hand in front of your face. People tripped and fell constantly and many injured themselves badly. While the street curbs (kerbs to the Brits) were eventually painted white that didn’t help a lot.

Worse, in many areas the residential voltage was decreased by almost 50%. When you finally made it home from work, put up your blackout curtains and turned on the lights, they only burned dimly. You couldn’t see very well and even reading could be difficult.

The blackout was enforced by ubiquitous ARP (Air Raid Precaution) wardens who would issue you at summons if you were violating the very strict blackout regulations. This included the smallest chink of light from a blackout curtain improperly closed. 300,000 people throughout the UK were taken to court for committing blackout offenses. (source: Wartime: Britain 1939-1945 by Juliet Gardiner)

Gardiner also wrote that “Shopkeepers who transgressed the lighting regulations were made an example of…” and fines exceeding £50 were imposed on some at a time when a small car could be purchased for £120.

In the early 1930s Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin declared “the bomber will always get through.” This turned out to be a statement as stupid as Stanley Baldwin. There was great fear among the authorities that the bombing of London, for instance, would reduce the citizens to panic, lunacy or lethargy. The government theorized that 600,000 people in London would have nervous breakdowns after one or two bombing raids and the city would be filled with gibbering idiots. It was though that even a small tonnage of bombs dropped by the Nazis would wreck London.

None of this turned out to be true. It is quite amazing the circumstances in which people are able to carry on.

BLACKOUT ACCESSORIES FOR SALE, SELFRIDGE’S, LONDON, ENGLAND, C 1940 (D 68) A blackout walking stick on sale at Selfridge’s in London’s Oxford Street. The light in the tip of the walking stick would illuminate the ground sufficiently for the user to see more clearly in the blackout, and to make the user more visible to pedestrians and vehicles. These walking sticks sold for 14/6. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205197493

 

The price of 14/6 translates for us Americans as 14 shillings, six pence. Until 1971, British currency was not on the decimal system. Instead it was based on 240 pence to one British pound (£). Twelve pence made a shilling and twenty shillings made a pound. There were a number of coins such as farthing, half a crown etc which were worth a certain number of pence.

An unskilled working man would be lucky to make £1 for a fifty hour week. So this walking stick would cost an entire weeks’ pay for a unskilled worker. Women made less.

The walking stick would cost about £40 pounds today which would be approximately US$51.00 dollars based on the exchange rate of of May 2017.

Slang for pound is “quid,” thought to come from the Latin phrase “quid pro quo” defined by Merriam-Webster as “something given or received for something else.”

“The derivation is interesting. According to Merriam-Webster, “In the early 16th century, a quid pro quo was something obtained from an apothecary. That’s because when quid pro quo was first used in English, it referred to the process of substituting one medicine for another—whether intentionally (and sometimes fraudulently) or accidentally.”

www.merriam-webster.com/quid pro quo

 

Industrial Scale Looting of Royal Navy Sea Graves says Daily Mail

‘The Queen Mary in particular saw 1,266 sailors wiped out in seconds, the largest single loss of life at Jutland. [The looting] is disrespectful.

Source: World War 1 sea graves hit by ‘industrial-scale looting’ from Royal Navy ship | Daily Mail Online

 

This is outrageous. HMS Queen Mary is a war grave. A Dutch salvage company is alleged to have been doing this. I guess they forget it was the Anglo-American forces which liberated their country from the Nazis. It is certainly an awkward reality that more Dutch served in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany than the Allied and United Nations forces. (Eisenhower started to use the term ‘United Nations’ in the latter part of 1944)

Unfortunately, the bureaucrats in the British Ministry of Defence refuse to do anything about this since that would 1) compel them to work 2) might upset the Dutch (so what) 3) don’t have the budget (ask the PM for supplemental supply bill 4) want to forget the unpleasantness of World War One.

 

 

 

 

Lest We Forget

27 May 2013. The Hon. Barack Obama, President of the United States of America and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, participates in a Memorial Day wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., May 27, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

 

“War is all hell.”

General William Tecumseh Sherman. His personal bodyguard was a troop of Alabama Horse.

In this era of partisan political division, which is not new in American history, it bears pointing out that all the states of the Confederacy, except for my native state of South Carolina, had regiments which fought for the Union. While many of these regiments were comprised of African-American troops, a number of Southern regiments fighting for the Union were comprised of white Southern males.

 

 

Punch Down Federal Spending in Montana

Conservatives in Montana discuss beating of Guardian reporter.

“Gonna beat up some of them liberal reporters like, uh, uh…like that f***ing jerk from the Times of New York City.”

“Yeah, we sure is gonna if them come to Montana. But weren’t the reporter from Guardian in British land?”

“Who cares what state he come from. He’s a liberal and tried to ask our Republican candidate a question.”

“You ask a Republican questions, and you beaten. Finally, we is standing up to the press. And we don’t care if they is girls. We’ll beat them up like she was a men.”

Actually this is a photo of the boxers Louis De Ponthieu, Carl Morris and Leach Cross in 1911. Cross, born Louis Wallach in the Jewish ghetto of the Lower East Side, was also a practicing dentist (“I knock ’em out, then put ’em back in”).

(Photo courtesy of hwww.shorpy.com)

Republican candidate charged with assault after ‘body-slamming’ Guardian reporter

The Republican candidate for Montana’s congressional seat has been charged with misdemeanor assault after he is alleged to have slammed a Guardian reporter to the floor on the eve of the state’s special election, breaking his glasses and shouting: “Get the hell out of here.”

Ben Jacobs, a Guardian political reporter, was asking Greg Gianforte, a tech millionaire endorsed by Donald Trump, about the Republican healthcare plan when the candidate allegedly “body-slammed” the reporter.

 

The assault was witness by Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna who wrote on the a story for the website of Fox News. “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind

 

Alicia Acuna of Fox news was in the room with colleagues setting up for an interview with Republican candidate for Congress Greg Gianforte. (The special election is today). The reporter from the Guardian came in and asked Gianforte about CBO report on ACA.

Writes Alicia, “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter. As Gianforte moved on top of Jacobs, he began yelling something to the effect of, “I’m sick and tired of this!”

 

“As for myself and my crew, we are cooperating with local authorities. Gianforte was given a citation for misdemeanor assault and will have to appear in court sometime before June 7.”

Said Gianforte’s spokes man: “It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/24/greg-gianforte-bodyslams-reporter-ben-jacobs-montana?CMP=edit_2221

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/05/24/greg-gianforte-fox-news-team-witnesses-gop-house-candidate-body-slam-reporter.html

Comments Charles McCain:

Since Gianforte is a bully who hates everyone but white males as stupid as he is, and since he is a godly and manly man, he will cut Federal spending which supports so many losers who are leeching off the Federal Government. Good idea. Let the cuts in Federal spending start with these programs. 

“…for every dollar sent to Washington, D.C., Montana got $1.49 back. The federal government spent $11 billion in Montana in 2010. That was $10,873 for every Montanan. 

​*Federal farm subsidies to​ farms in Montana totaled ​2.8 Billion ​from 1995-2014.

​Source: Environmental Working Group

https://tinyurl.com/MT-farm-sub

Billings Montana Gazette