The Anonymous Widower

Deep-Sea Divers Move In To Help Hospitals Fight Coronavirus

The unusual title of this post is the same as an article on the Sunday Times.

This is the introductory paragraph.

More than 500 deep-sea divers who have experience of coping with breathing difficulties have been drafted in to help the NHS treat critically ill coronavirus patients.

When you read the article it seems a sensible more.

  • The divers are medical technicians.
  • They are experts at using masks.
  • They normally provide care offshore.
  • They are used to working in PPE in uncomfortable positions.
  • I suspect, that they are not six stone weaklings.

It is being co-ordinated by a former director-general of the Army Medical Corps.

As a one-time next-door neighbour, who had been a colonel in the British Army once said to me. “In case of war, burn all the rule books!”

April 12, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , | Leave a comment

We Don’t Fight Wars Like That Anymore!

There is an obituary in The Times today of John Campbell, who won a Military Cross and Bar, whilst serving in Popski’s Private Army, which was officially the No 1 Demolition Squadron and a unit of British Special Forces in World War II.

I grew up just after the Second World War and just as newspapers today, use the actions of C-list celebrities, in those days, Sunday papers like the Express and Dispatch, were full of tales of derring-do, as the Nazis and the Japanese were eventually defeated.

As my next door neighbour, a sometime Colonel in the Engineers, once said, there’s only one rule in the British Army – In case of War, ignore the rule books.

Vladimir Peniakoff or Popski wrote them.

We probably can’t do what he did these days, when we’re trying to curb the atrocities of groups like Islamic State, but I’m sure he’d have had an innovative solution.

This paragraph from the Wikipedia entry for the PPA is informative.

PPA was unusual in that all officer recruits reverted to lieutenant on joining, and other ranks reverted to private. The unit was run quite informally: there was no saluting and no drill, officers and men messed together, every man was expected to know what to do and get on with it, and there was only one punishment for failure of any kind: immediate Return To Unit. It was also efficient, having an unusually small headquarters.

Isn’t that how you’d run a company to develop new technology?

August 18, 2015 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

From The Country That Brought You The Lada; The New Battle Tank

Ever since I met a British Army General a few years ago, whose opinions of large battle tanks were distinctly sceptical and I had several drinks with a US Air Force A-10 pilot, I’ve always thought that tanks are a waste of money, except for perhaps frightening the population of countries you’re not invading, as the Russians have been doing in the Ukraine.

What adds to my sceptism is that if you look at tank warfare over the last hundred years, when a country makes a big improvement in tank size and firepower, other nations attempt to leapfrog them. As you can’t rustle up a thousand tanks immediately, countries think laterally. In the Second World War, we countered German tanks by developing the Hurricane IID or flying can opener and the PIAT anti-tank gun. In the 1970s, the Americans designed and built the A-10 Thunderbolt, one of whose jobs was to be to destroy Russian armour.

You can rest assured that research and development is going on in countries, who might be threatened by tanks to develop the next generation of tank killers.

So when I see that Putin has spent billions of roubles to develop the T 14 Armata, I just think he has got more money than sense.

I didn’t even laugh when I read this article in the Daily Telegraph, which says that a tank has broken down in the rehearsal for an important parade.

The General would probably have said that this is typical tank reliability.



May 7, 2015 Posted by | World | , , | 2 Comments

Another Famous Belgian

Read this article on the BBC web site, entitled Adrian Carton de Wiart: The unkillable soldier. His Wikipedia article says this.

He served in the Boer War, First World War, and Second World War; was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip, and ear; survived two plane crashes; tunnelled out of a POW camp; and bit off his own fingers when a doctor refused to amputate them. Describing his experiences in World War I, he wrote, “Frankly I had enjoyed the war.”

He eventually died peacefully at 83.



January 6, 2015 Posted by | World | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tales From Artemis Times

When I was writing Artemis, I got to meet some very interesting people.

I remember being in Denver at an Artemis Users Conference at the time of the Falklands War. I was talking over drinks with three Americans; a New York banker, the project manager on the US Harrier and the another from Long Beach Naval Shipyard.

The banker with all the naivete of no experience, said that all the Navy needed in the South Atlantic was a big flat-top and some F14s and they’d be able to blow the Argies away.

Then the Harrier guy said that they were getting the weather reports and it was so bad down there, that the only aircraft you could recover to the carrier was a Harrier. The guy from Long Beach compared everything to the Arctic convoys and said it was doubtful which was worst.

The banker didn’t say anything more on the subject.

Another incident was meeting a recently retired US Army or Marine officer. I’m not sure where this was, but it was somewhere in the States. It might even have been at the same conference. On finding I was English, he said that he’d got a lot of respect for the British Army and told this tale.

The Pentagon had wanted to find out how we handled the situation in Northern Ireland from a soldier’s point-of-view and he had been asked to go to the province to observe the British Army at work. So he turned up in Belfast, as a guest of the British Army and was given a briefing by senior officers and a couple of tours around the city in a Land-Rover.

They then asked him, if he’d like to go out on a patrol.

He said he would like to go, so early the next morning he was taken to a barracks and introduced to his patrol. He said that as a white US officer, he was surprised that the patrol would be led by a black corporal. At the time in the US Army, such a patrol would always be led by an officer or at least a sergeant.

They kitted him up, so he looked like the average squaddie and off they went. He didn’t really describe the patrol, except to say that he was impressed by the professionalism and that nothing untoward or unexpected happened.

On returning to barracks and after a good lunch with his patrol, he was taken to a debriefing. There he was shown a film taken by the SAS, who had had a sniper on the roof-tops with a film camera.

He realised that the US forces had a long way to go, if they were to handle urban situations like Northern Ireland.

October 20, 2014 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Is This Sense For Somerset?

It would appear that the report commissioned by the government is going to recommend a barrage of the River Parrett downstream from Bridgwater, according to reports like this one on the BBC.

Over forty years ago, my modelling software Speed was used by the now-superseded Water Resources Board to model water flows in river basins. I’m sure that these days, scientists and engineers could do much better, but then a scientifically correct solution often ignores powerful interests like farmers, the RSPB and politicians, who know a cause to get themselves re-elected.

The only thing I will predict with certainly, is that there will be a large argument over what is to be done.

They should do what Network Rail  seem to doing at Dawlish. And that appears to be getting the job done as quick as possible using every possible method.  The BBC is now stating that the line will open on April the 4th. So it would appear that the engineers are winning!

My one time neighbour in Suffolk, a past Colonel in an Engineering Regiment in the British Army, said that in case of war, you burn all Rule Books. He did say, that you keep the Instruction Manuals.

It’s certainly a war our there against the floods!

March 5, 2014 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment

I Don’t Know My Port From My Starboard

Although, I was a private pilot for many years, if you ask me quickly I always had to think, if port is left or right.

You can do it by remembering that port has the same number of letters as left or by noting that POSH could stand for port out starboard home, which meant that passengers going to and from India and the Far East from the UK, got the northern or cool side of the boat.

There’s a discussion on the explanation of posh here.

My next door neighbour, at one time, had been a British Army colonel, who’d served in India and he told me the standard explanation many years ago.  He also told me, how on the voyage back to the UK, they used to throw their pith helmets into the sea with great gusto after they had passed through the Suez canal.

I have no evidence to the origin of the word, but having heard many tales of life in the Army many years ago, the word could have been cooked up as a friendly term of abuse, by a group of very hot squaddies. I bet today, those serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, have developed some words of their own. After all, the word Blighty for the home country, was very much a word developed by those stationed overseas, that has entered the English language.

March 29, 2013 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , , | 1 Comment

Guns And Alcohol Don’t Mix

If ever there was a story that proves that guns and alcohol don’t mix it is this one of the tragic death of Royal Navy officer; Ian Molyneux.

When my youngest son was doing some training to see if he wanted to join the Guards, he forgot to take his boots. So I drove them down to Pirbright and gave them in at the gate.  The sentry was a bit strange and actually pointed his weapon at me. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but he too could have been drinking.  I do know that I was distinctly uneasy at his behaviour and made a rather quick getaway.

The last time, I came across a sentry with a weapon, was when I went over HMS Liverpool. But I didn’t feel any unease at all, as the sentry was female and she handled it impeccably.

January 14, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

A Sikh On Guard At The Palace

This story, of a Sikh in the Scots Guards, who wears a turban instead of a bearskin is reported in the Daily Mail. I think what is extraordinary about this story is not the story itself, but the comments from readers.  Not one is anything but approving and supportive. Something that doesn’t seem to fit the stereotype given to the average reader of that newspaper.

One could also argue that these days, his headgear may be the more ethical.

December 11, 2012 Posted by | News | , , | Leave a comment

Chinooks Over Canary Wharf

I was a bit slow to catch them with my camera, but what were these two Chinook helicopters doing over Canary Wharf.

Chinooks Over Canary Wharf

If  you look to the left of the Blackwall sign, you should just about be able to see them. I can’t find any reference to them on the Internet. I suppose they were some dummy security exercise for the Olympics

June 21, 2012 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment