The Anonymous Widower

Is Volodymyr Zelenskyy Planning A Mosquito Moment?

Just imagine the scene in Berlin on January 30th, 1943, which was the tenth anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power.

A celebration had been planned with speeches by Goering and Goebbels to the Nazi faithful, which would be broadcast over the radio.

But precisely as Goering started to speak, three RAF Mosquitos arrived over Berlin.

This article on The Smithsonian Magazine, which is entitled When the RAF Buzzed Over Germany to Drown Out Nazi Broadcasts, describes the interruption like this.

When the bombs and the British engines intruded on the broadcast of Goering’s speech, radio engineers cut his feed and scrambled for safety. A bewildered German public instead heard the cacophony of bombers, which was soon replaced on their radios with a crackly recording of marching band music. It was more than an hour before a furious Goering returned to the airwaves.

Hours later, three more Mosquitos, gave Goebbels a similar treatment.

Wikipedia gives this quote from Goering about the Mosquito.

In 1940 I could at least fly as far as Glasgow in most of my aircraft, but not now! It makes me furious when I see the Mosquito. I turn green and yellow with envy. The British, who can afford aluminium better than we can, knock together a beautiful wooden aircraft that every piano factory over there is building, and they give it a speed which they have now increased yet again. What do you make of that? There is nothing the British do not have. They have the geniuses and we have the nincompoops. After the war is over I’m going to buy a British radio set – then at least I’ll own something that has always worked.

He was lecturing a group of German aircraft manufacturers.

It has been reported that Vlad the Mad is planning a spectacular parade on Victory Day, which is May 9th, 2022.

I can imagine that Ukrainian planners are working on ways to interrupt any speeches.

A drone spraying blue and yellow paint would be intensely funny and totally within the expertise of high-quality special forces.

April 10, 2022 Posted by | World | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Time We Used Cyber Dark Arts To Foil Putin

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on The Times, which was written by Edward Lucas.

This is the first paragraph.

Breaking the Kremlin’s grip on the Russian people is the greatest national security priority of our lives. We cannot (or rather, will not) fight the Russian invaders in Ukraine. But we can fight inside Russia, using disruption and subversion to disable the war machine, ideally to the point that the country becomes ungovernable.

He suggests the following.

  • Russian speakers could sow doubt about the regime’s lies and brutalities.
  • Use the Russian diaspora to contact friends and relatives back home.
  • Build and unleash a psychological warfare arsenal against Putin’s cocktail of crimes, lies and secrecy.
  • Send condolences to family members for their losses in the war.
  • Prepare Nuremberg for war crimes trials.
  • Highlight the friendly treatment that Ukrainians give Russian deserters.
  • Use wit as a weapon.

Edward Lucas then talks about the antics of Sefton Delmer in World War II. Wikipeda says this about him.

During the war, he led a black propaganda campaign against Hitler by radio from England. It was so successful that Delmer was named in the Nazis’ Black Book for immediate arrest after their planned invasion of Britain.

I suspect he was very good at his job. Two of his weapons were.

Aspidistra, which was a 500 kW radio station.

A daily “grey” German-language newspaper titled Nachrichten für die Truppe (“News for the Troops”). These leaflets were delivered by the USAF.

Edward Lucas says that we should all read Delmer’s autobiography, which is called Black Boomerang, which is now out of print and difficult to find.

Wikipedia gives this explanation of Black Boomerang.

When fighting entered Germany itself, black propaganda was used to create an impression of an anti-Nazi resistance movement.

At the end of the war in Europe, Delmer advised his colleagues not to publicise the work they had been involved in, lest unrepentant Nazis claim (as had been the case after the First World War), that they had been defeated by unconscionable methods, rather than on the battlefield. Consequently, former Nazis were able to claim, without contradiction, that they had assisted the fictitious resistance movement; Delmer described this unintended consequence as a “black boomerang”

Edward Lucas suggests reprinting Black Boomerang.

If someone has a good clear copy, I could possibly arrange it.

Demoralising The Russians

Edward Lucas believes, we can use similar techniques to Delmer to attack the Russians.

But instead of using a massive radio, he proposes using the Internet and its various messaging apps.

I suspect with a bit of arm-twisting Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft et al, could produce a very good list of Russian Internet users.

It might be against the law, but who cares? It’s a war out there, we’re not using the information to physically hurt anybody or steal anything of value.

News For The Troops

I believe we can go one better than Sefton Delmer.

We are dealing with Russians invading and occupying Ukrainian territory, where many of the inhabitants can certainly read Russian.

So could we develop a truthful leaflet, that is delivered across Ukraine to both Russian Troops and the Ukrainian population?

Delivery would be primarily by the Internet, but why not deliver it by drone?

Delivery from say 5000 feet would distribute the leaflets over a wide area.

Could We Go Candy Bombing?

Gail Halvorsen, who died recently was known as the Candy Bomber.

This is the introduction to his Wikipedia entry.

Gail Seymour Halvorsen (October 10, 1920 – February 16, 2022) was a senior officer and command pilot in the United States Air Force. He is best known as the “Berlin Candy Bomber” or “Uncle Wiggly Wings” and gained fame for dropping candy to German children during the Berlin Airlift from 1948 to 1949.

I think, his actions could be copied in Ukraine.

Consider.

  • The Ukrainian people are starving in the occupied territories.
  • The Russian soldiers aren’t doing much better.
  • These days, we can supply nutrition bars instead of sweets.
  • Automated drones could deliver them safely from 5000 feet.
  • They could be flown on behalf of the Red Cross from over the border in Hungary, Moldova, Poland and Slovakia.

Organised properly, the Russians would have a problem.

  • If they let the drones through, the siege will be broken in a small way.
  • If they shoot them down, their soldiers won’t get the smallest snack and the Russians will be attacking the Red Cross.

We might lose a lot of drones, but eventually we’ll get the nutrition through, each wrapped in a large dollop of propaganda.

 

 

March 14, 2022 Posted by | Computing, Transport/Travel, World | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Edmonton Incinerator

Although it is officially known these days as the Edmonton EcoPark, as a North Londoner, I will always know it as the Edmonton Incinerator.

I took these pictures with my drone.

These are a few facts from Wikipedia about the waste-to-energy plant.

  • It was commissioned by the Greater London Council in 1971.
  • It burns waste from the seven North-East London boroughs.
  • It generates 55 MW of electricity.

It certainly dominates the landscape alongside the North Circular Road.

But.

It is probably not amongst the greenest of incinerators.

It is probably very much a design of the 1960s.

It is approaching fifty years old.

But it appears that things could be improving.

  • There is a large composting and recycling facility being built on the site on the site.
  • Plans exist to bring in the rubbish by barge.

This Google Map shows the site.

Note.

  1. The North Circular Road runs across the bottom of the map.
  2. All of the roads obliterated the famous Cooks Ferry Inn, where I saw the Animals play in the 1960s.
  3. The River Lee Navigation runs past the incinerator.
  4. Pymme’s Brook runs on the other side.

It looks from the map, that another reservoir is being built to the East of the canal.

The Guy Who Built The Edmonton Incinerator

I used to work with the guy, who was one of those in charge of the building of the incinerator, who when I met him, was head of the Greater London Council’s Construction Branch, who were using my project management software.

I can’t remember Mr. Samuels first name, even if I ever knew it.

  • He was an Austrian Jew, who had trained as an engineer, who arrived in the UK sometime in the 1930s.
  • He taught himself English in six weeks and got a job at Lucas.
  • At the start of World War II, he volunteered and joined the Royal Engineers.
  • He spent the whole war in bomb disposal.
  • After the war he became an observer at the Nuremberg Trials.

After all he’d been through, he told me, the worst time of his life, was those years in the early seventies when I knew him, as his wife was dying of cancer.

But he taught me a lot about project management and the real horror of war.

He never told me, how many of his relatives survived the Nazis.

What Will Happen To The Edmonton Incinerator?

This year it will be fifty years since the Edmonton Incinerator was commissioned. It must be coming to the end of its life.

I can’t find any plans, but endless groups, who want it closed rather than rebuilt.

This article in the Hackney Gazette, which is entitled Campaigners Urge North London Incinerator Bidders To Pull Out, is typical.

I am very pro recycling, but then others aren’t as these pictures show.

So if some won’t recycle properly, it will all have to go to landfill.

An Odd Tale About Recycling

I applied to be a member of the Independent Monitoring Board of a prison near, where I used to live.

I had a very interesting tour of the prison, where I met several of the inmates.

One thing surprised me.

The prison had a very comprehensive internal recycling system, whereby everything was fully sorted.

One course of training, that was offered to prisoners was how to sort and process all of the rubbish. According to the guy running the course, it was one of the most popular in the prison.

Possibly, because I was told, it prepared prisoners for a job, where there were lots of vacancies.

I wonder if the new £100million recycling centre at Edmonton will use labour trained in the Prison Service?

 

April 14, 2021 Posted by | Energy, World | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tips For American Servicemen In Britain During The Second World War

The title of this post, is the same as this page on the Imperial War Museum web site.

These are the first two introductory paragraphs.

In 1942, the first of over 1.5 million American servicemen arrived on British shores in preparation for the Allied offensives against Germany during the Second World War.

That year, the United States’ War Department published Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain to help soldiers, sailors and airmen – many of whom had never travelled abroad before – adjust to life in a new country.

The whole area of the web site is well-worth exploring.

The book, which is entitled Instructions For American Servicemen In Britain 1942 can be purchased from the museum.

January 16, 2021 Posted by | World | , , , | 3 Comments

Will There Be A Sports And Arts Bounceback As There Was After World War II?

This may be optimism, but after World War II, all sports had massive attendances, and I wonder if the same thing will happen, when we get a 100 % reliable vaccine against the covids?

There was even a great desire for fun during the war, as this news item on British Pathe, which is entitled Wartime Derby at Newmarket 1941 shows.

There are several horse racing videos of this period on YouTube.

Perhaps, the proximity of Newmarket to the major fighter base at Duxford, meant that the Luftwaffe didn’t feel safe to attack Newmarket in daylight? Or their intelligent was bad.

September 10, 2020 Posted by | Health, Sport | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Schoolgirl Who Helped To Win A War

The title of this post, is the same as a programme to be shown on the BBC News Channel, this weekend.

Seeing the trailers on the BBC this morning, I am reminded of my mother, who was my mathematical parent. The girl in the story is Hazel Hill, who was the daughter of Captain Frederick William Hill, who worked on armaments research.

My mother would be a few years older than Hazel and won a scholarship to one of the best girls schools in London at the time; Dame Alice Owen’s, which  was then in Islington.

I get the impression, that contrary to perceived opinion, that in the 1920s and 1930s, girls with aptitude were well-schooled in practical mathematics.

I’d be very interested to know, where Hazel Hill went to school.

I shall watch the programme.

July 10, 2020 Posted by | World | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is There A Connection Between The Rise Of Knife Crime And Brexit?

This may seem an outrageous suggestion to make!

However, serious knife crime seemed to increase around or just after the Brexit referendum.

But the Brexit Referendum on the 23 June 201, does seem to have brought out the worst in some people.

  • Jo Cox was murdered just seven days earlier.
  • Since then there has been the rise of the far-right.
  • MPs of all colours have received terrible abuse on social media.
  • Racist chants seem to have reappeared at some football matches.
  • The Labour Party has had a row on anti-semitism.

I’m no psychologist, but it’s almost as if the Brexit result has said it’s alright to go against established norms.

I wonder if crime rose in the Phoney War in 1940.

This page on History Extra is entitled 10 Facts About Crime On The Home Front iI The Second World War.

Read it and see what you think!

 

April 2, 2019 Posted by | World | , , , | 1 Comment

Do I Hoard Too Much Beer?

I have been buying the Marks and Spencer 0.5% Southwold Pale Ale.

With my body, the beer seems to be gluten-free and also the alcohol level is low enough to not affect my INR.

But am I buying to much, as the most I drink in a day is two?

I am only guarding against future shortages!

This behaviour seems to run in the family.

My mother used to tell this tale.

At the start of the Second World War, she asked her Dalstonian mother, if she was prepared for the inevitable rationing.

Her mother replied, that she’s been caught out in the Great War, so this time she’d already got a hundredweight of jam in the cellar and she had another hundredweight of sugar ready to make some more!

I doubt, there was a jam shortage in the Millbank household during the Second World War!

Perhaps, my prudence over beer shortages comes from my Dalstonian grandmother?

May 12, 2018 Posted by | Food | , , | 1 Comment

Memorials On The Liverpool Pier Head

Liverpool is proud of its maritime heritage and the Pier Head on the Mersey is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site called the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City.

When Celia and I met in Liverpool in the 1960s, it was a simpler place, where we would walk to take the ferry across the Mersey.

These pictures show the Pier Head today.

I’d never realised that the road across the Pier Head, had been named Canada Boulevard in honour of Canadians, who lost their lives in the Battle of the Atlantic or the war against German U-boats.

Shown in the pictures is the memorial to Captain Johnnie Walker, one of the leading British commanders in the battle.

The scale of the battle is shown by the fact that according to Wikipedia the Allies lost over 70,000 sailors, 3,500 merchant ships and 175 warships, whereas the Germans lost 30,000 sailors and 783 submarines.

One thing that wasn’t there in the 1960s is the canal that links the Leeds and Liverpool Canal to the Stanley Dock, so narrow-boats can visit the city centre.

August 23, 2015 Posted by | World | , , , , , | 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