Posts tagged ‘British Army’

FRIDAY FOTO Extra (March 20, 2015)


(82nd Airborne Division photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Hull)

82nd Airborne Division photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Hull

Paratroopers assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team (2nd BCT) and the British 16th Air Assault Brigade conduct airborne training at the Advanced Airborne School, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Since the folks in this photo are already experienced paratroopers, we wonder what the training leader is saying through the loud hailer and what is it these Brits and Yanks are doing with their hands.

We’d appreciate it if any sky soldiers or paras out there could help us out with an explanation of this intriguing image.

Now back to the larger question: Why is such a large number of the United Kingdom’s maroon berets at Bragg?”

They’re training with U.S. troops and U.S. equipment to achieve seamless integration in future operations. The 2nd BCT is slated to lead a Combined Joint Operational Access Exercise with the British battle group in April. That exercise will test the 82nd’s capability to integrate with a U.K. brigade, allowing the two units to operate quickly and effectively if deployed together in a future coalition crisis response force.

More than 850 British Soldiers began arriving at Fort Bragg on March 9 to prepare for the exercise. 

To see more photos, click here.

March 20, 2015 at 11:41 am Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (January 4-January 10, 1815) Part II

New Orleans: The Last Battle

PART II of Three Parts. Day of Battle

January 7-8, 1815

Major Gen. Andrew Jackson during the Battle of New Orleans, by Frederick Coffay Yohn, circa 1922. (Library of Congress)

Major Gen. Andrew Jackson during the Battle of New Orleans, by Frederick Coffay Yohn, circa 1922. (Library of Congress)

The night before the British assault on Jackson’s line along the Rodriguez Canal on the northern edge of Chalmette Plantation, Major General Sir Edward Pakenham orders 1,400 of his men to row across the Mississippi River to attack Jackson’s “marine battery” on the Western bank of the river.

British Colonel William Thornton is to drive off the American troops guarding the marine battery, which can spread covering fire in front of Jackson’s defenses, seize the guns by daybreak and turn them on the Americans. Once Thornton opens fire on the Americans, Pakenham will launch his attack on the eastern side of the river.

But the plan goes awry almost immediately. The narrow canal the British have been digging for nearly a week through the bayous connecting the Mississippi to Lake Borgne, collapses in places. That forces the British sailors and marines to push and drag their heavy barges through the mud. What is supposed to take two hours takes eight. By the time Thornton is supposed to push off, only a few boats have been delivered, so he sets out with just 340 soldiers, 50 sailors and 50 marines – about 1,000 less than planned.

On the Western bank, Commodore Daniel Patterson, the U.S. Navy commander sees the British preparations and sends an aide to Jackson, warning that the main British strike may come on the lightly defended west side of the river. Guarding the approach to Paterson’s battery is a thin line of some 400 Louisiana and Kentucky militia — poorly trained and even more poorly armed.
Jackson sends the aide back to Patterson and Morgan, saying they are wrong and the main attack will come against him. Jackson adds that he has no troops to spare and the colonel and commodore must make do with the men they have.

The battlefield at Chalmette Plantation. (History Dept., U.S. Military Academy)

The battlefield at Chalmette Plantation.
(History Dept., U.S. Military Academy)

Jackson’s approximately 4,000 troops include two understrength regular Army regiments – the 7th and 44th Infantry – Tennessee and Kentucky militia, Lafitte’s pirates, Choctaw Indians, a company of New Orleans riflemen, three small battalions of New Orleans Creole gentlemen and merchants – including one consisting of Free Men of Color – some U.S. Navy men and about 50 U.S. Marines. A mile behind them is a second, reserve line consisting of some Kentucky and Louisiana militia, about 100 Mississippi Dragoons and other small cavalry units.

At 4 a.m., Brigadier John Adair leads about 1,000 Kentucky militia into the front line to support the repulse of any British breakthroughs.
Meanwhile the British attack is falling behind schedule as a regiment that is supposed to be carrying the scaling ladders needed to breach Jackson’s mud and log rampart is slow getting into place at the head of the main attack column. Not wanting to delay any longer, Pakenham orders the attack to begin.

U.S. outposts are startled by the British rocket, signaling the attack. The Americans flee to a redoubt built just below the rampart near the Mississippi River but the British charge overwhelms them after hand-to-hand fighting. Those who can, flee over the rampart but when the British pursue, they are cut down by a storm of cannon, rifle and musket fire from the nearest American battery and the marine battery across the river. Next, a West Indian regiment carrying ladders fails to advance in the face of the American gunfire.

On the British right, the regiment assigned to carry the scaling ladders and fascines (rough bundles of brush and wood to fill in the ditch in front of the rampart) is still at the rear. The morning fog dissipates and the entire British force is not visible to the Americans.

Then the Americans open up with cannon balls, grape shot (like really big buckshot) and canister (similar to grapeshot but consisting of scrap metal and nails. The disciplined British troops march on, ironically toward the part of Jackson’s line with the biggest concentration of defenders. Hundreds of British soldiers fall dead and wounded under the withering fire from 200 yards away.
Dozens of British officers fell and soon the attack began to falter. The 44th Regiment – the ones with the ladders and fascines – finally show up with Pakenham leading them. He is soon shot in the arm and his horse shot from under him. Pakenham mounts another horse and tries to rally his faltering men.

A fanciful rendering of  Andrew Jackson at New Orleans, by painter Edward Percy Moran in 1910.

A fanciful rendering of Andrew Jackson at New Orleans, by painter Edward Percy Moran in 1910.

The British rally when a Scottish Regiment, the 93rd Highlanders, comes running to support the main attack. But more American volleys slow them down and kill their colonel. Pakenham orders the reserves committed but the bugler is shot before he can sound and waved his hat to cheer the highlanders. But another American volley of grape shot strikes Pakenham and killed his horse. The British commander dies a short time later. Two other general officers are killed or wounded. Leaderless, the British attack breaks up.

About 200 British soldiers make it to the rampart and some even climb the parapet but are quickly shot or captured. Within half an hour of the battle’s start, it is over. The field is littered with dead and wounded redcoats. Three generals, seven colonels, 75 other officers and nearly 2,000 soldiers have fallen, according to Jackson biographer Robert V. Remini.

By contrast, the Americans lose only 13 killed and about 50 wounded on the east side of the Mississippi. Losses are higher on the little-known battle on the west side of the river.

The death of Major Gen. Pakenham.

The death of Major Gen. Pakenham.

Tomorrow — New Orleans: The Ending

(Please click on all photos to enlarge the image)

January 7, 2015 at 1:45 am Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (November 9-November 15, 1814)

Objective: New Orleans

Major General Andrew Jackson

Major General Andrew Jackson

After driving the British out of Pensacola in Spanish Florida (Nov. 7-8), Major General Andrew Jackson heads back to Mobile, in what is now Alabama, but in 1814 it was part of the Territory of Mississippi or Spanish West Florida — depending on who you talked to.

Jackson fears the small British fleet that evacuated Pensacola may be headed to Mobile to set up a base for a larger invasion of New Orleans.

The British aren’t there when he arrives in Mobile on November 11 but here is word that thousands of British troops are heading for New Orleans from bases in Bermuda and the Bahamas. So Jackson marches out, headed for the Crescent City on the lower Mississippi River.

*** *** ***

McArthur’s Raid

With more than 1,000 British soldiers and Canadian militia on his tail, U.S. Brigadier General Duncan McArthur and his raiding party of some 700 mounted Kentucky and Ohio riflemen are making their way back to Fort Detroit about 100 miles away.

McArthur is burning settlements — especially flour mills and other sources of food and supplies for the British and Canadian troops — along the Lake Erie shoreline. On November 6, McArthur’s troops defeated a smaller force of Canadian militia and Mohawk Indian allies at  Malcolm’s Mills. It will be the last battle with an invading army fought on Canadian soil.

The Southern Frontier 1812-1815 (Map: U.S. Army Office of Military History)

The Southern Frontier 1812-1815
(Map: U.S. Army Office of Military History)

November 13, 2014 at 11:55 pm Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (August 31-September 6, 1814)

A Crucial Week.

White House after the 1814 fire by George Munger (White House Historical Association)

White House after the 1814 fire by George Munger
(White House Historical Association)

Official Washington is in ruins. The White House and the Capitol have been torched as have the headquarters of the State, Navy and War departments. The armory at Greenleaf Point has been destroyed. Under orders from Navy Secretary William Jones, sailors and Marines have blown up and torched the Washington Navy Yard to keep its supplies, munition stockpiles and two almost completed new ships out of British hands. The Royal Navy has captured Alexandria, Virginia — just a few miles south of Washington — emptying its storehouse of food, tobacco, cotton, and flour. The U.S. Army and local militia have been humiliated on the battlefield of Bladensburg, Maryland. President Madison and his cabinet are wandering the roads around Washington, trying to reorganize the government and the war effort. It is the most desperate time in the young life of the United States of America — perhaps the most desperate ever.

And yet, the United States fights on this week from the Mississippi River to the English Channel, from the New York Canadian border to the Chesapeake Bay.

August 31

Sir John Sherbrooke with a force of 2,000 sails down from Halifax and attacks the coast of Maine, which is still a part of Massachusetts. By September 3 he has captured Castine, Hampden and Bangor.

September 1

The USS Wasp, a 22-gun sloop-of-war, cruising the western approaches to the English Channel, sinks the 18-gun brig HMS Avon.

The same day, just south of Montreal, Sir George Prevost, the governor general of Canada, starts marching an army of 12,000 to cross the border and attack Plattsburgh, New York. Plattsburgh  on crucial Lake Champlain. Only about 3,000 troops, mostly green militia, defend Plattsburgh under Brigadier Alexander McComb. It is to be a combined arms operation with the Royal Navy taking out American vessels defending Plattsburgh.

USS Wasp in 1814 (via Wikipedia)

USS Wasp in 1814
(via Wikipedia)

On the Potomac

The eight-ship Royal Navy squadron of Captain James Gordon departs Alexandria September 2 with 21 prize vessels, all stuffed with loot. Navy Secretary Jones, furious with the U.S. military’s poor showing against the British, decides to make Gordon’s journey a memorable one — ordering the Navy, assisted by Army regulars and Virginia and Maryland militia, set up cannon batteries on either side of the Potomac on bluffs overlooking the river.

The first, near Belvoir plantation in Virginia, is commanded by Captain Oliver Hazzard Perry, the hero of the Battle of Lake Erie the previous year. The other, by Captain David Porter, another naval hero who harassed the British whaling fleet in the Pacific Ocean before his ship, the USS Essex was defeated off the coast of Chile in late 1813. Neither battery has enough fire power to effectively battle Gordon ‘s little fleet which includes bomb ships and rocket ships as well as the frigate HMS Seahorse. After duking it out with Gordon’s ships for nearly three days, Perry is forced to withdraw when heavy shellfire strikes several of his cannon and wounds his men.  Porter has few cannon (his on big gun arrives just 30 minutes befre the British) and even less ammunition. When his ammunition runs out September 5, Porter breaks off fighting and withdraws. It takes x days, but Gordon sails on and rejoins the main British fleet in Chesapeake Bay on September x.

On to Baltimore

The combined British Army-Navy-Marines force that burned Washington marches out of the city August 25, fearing a counter attack by U.S. troops. At first it looks like thy are headed for Baltimore but its only a feint to confuse the Americans. The plan works and Army Brigadier William Winder musters his scattered troops and heads for Baltimore. The British eventually turn south and return to Benedict on Maryland’s western shore whre the 4,500-man raid-in-force disembarked August 19. The British re-board their transport ships September x, ostensibly to head for Rhode Island where the overall commander, Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane, wants to wait out the “fever season” of the hot, humid, mosquito-ridden conditions of the Chesapeake in late summer. Cochrane plans to attack Baltimore after that.

September 4

Up on the Niagara border between New York State and Canada, the British are still besieging Fort Erie on the Canadian side. Major General Jacob Brown, although not fully recovered from his wounds at Lundy’s Lane, has resumed command of the fort after his successor, Brigadier General Edmund Gaines is wounded.

The Americans launch a raid outside the fort on a British artillery battery. The battle– often hand-to-hand combat — lasts nearly six hours before a severe thunderstorm rakes the battlefield.

Secretary of War John Armstrong by Rembrandt Peale

Secretary of War John Armstrong by Rembrandt Peale

Also on September 4, Secretary of  War John Armstrong resigns. Armstrong refused to call out the militia or build defenses until the last minute when Washington was threatened with invasion. It didn’t take Armstrong long to realize he has lost the confidence of President Madison and annoyed nearly everyone in the cabinet. Secretary of State James Monroe, who screwed up the troop displacement at Bladensburg, is named Secretary of War.

September 5

Two setbacks in the far west. In Michigan, a resourceful Lieutenant Miller Worsley and 77 men in canoes, trick and capture two American warships on Lake Huron: he USS Tigress and the USS Scorpion. In what is known as the Illinois Territory, Major Zachary Taylor heads a small force  of 350 regulars and militia attempting to recapture a fort near what is now Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. The soldiers are defeated and turned back by an alliance of tribes including Sauk, Fox, Kickapoo, Winnebago and Sioux .

September 6

The British army heading down from Montreal stops before reaching Plattsburgh, to await word on the progress made by the Royal Navy on Lake Champlain.

September 5, 2014 at 12:56 am Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (August 24-August 30, 1814) PART 2


Washington Ablaze.

British burn the Capitol, a mural by Allyn Cox in the U.S. Capitol. (Photo: Architect of the Capitol via Wikipedia)

British burn the Capitol, a mural by Allyn Cox in the U.S. Capitol.
(Photo: Architect of the Capitol via Wikipedia)

Within a few hours after winning the Battle of Bladensburg on August 24, British forces are on the march to Washington. Vice Admiral George Cockburn, commander of the naval forces in the expedition, wants to wreak havoc and vengeance on the Americans by burning their capital city (Pop. 8,000). But the Army commander, Major General Robert Ross, a battle-tested veteran of the Napoleonic Wars is adamant, only public buildings will be burned and personal property will be respected.

That standing order is put to the test almost as soon as Ross and Cockburn enter Washington on horseback, accompanied by less than 200 soldiers, sailors and Marines. Most of the 4,000-plus troops in the raiding expedition are resting from their long, hot marches from Benedict, Maryland on the Western shore of the Chesapeake to Bladensburg and the outskirts of Washington over the past two days in the heat and humidity of a Maryland August.

Gunfire erupts from a three-story private home near Capitol Hill, killing two British soldiers, wounding several others and killing the horse Ross is riding. Luckily for Washington, the general is unhurt. Ross, who initially thought he didn’t have enough men to capture a national capital, now wants to keep most of them out of the city to avoid looting, and worse. Three Americans are captured in the house where the shots came from and they turn about to be some of Commodore Joshua Barney’s flotilla sailors who gave the British a rough time during the Bladensburg scrap. Impressed by the dogged defense Barney’s men put up — when the rest of the Americans ran or were ordered to withdraw — Ross and Cockburn do not order the men hanged, even though others in their party are calling for blood.

Most of Washington’s inhabitants fled in panic when word came down about the defeat at Bladensburg. And the British were confronted by a virtually empty city.

First stop in the chastisement of the U.S. government for declaring war on Britain while it was battling Napoleon is the U.S. Capitol. British troops pile tables, chairs and desks in the House of Representatives chamber and set it alight with torches and gunpowder. They repeat the process over in the Senate but the sheet metal roof defeats their effort to start the blaze with Congreve rockets. So the troops have to ignite the Senate chamber the old fashioned way. At the time, the U.S. Supreme Court and the Library of Congress were house in the Capitol, so they went up in smoke, too.

Major General Robert Ross (National Portrait Gallery Website)

Major General Robert Ross
(National Portrait Gallery Website)

Ross, Cockburn and company head down to the president’s mansion (it wasn’t called the White House back then) which they find empty but with the dining room table set to accommodate a dinner party or 40 — including chilled wine. The British officers make themselves at home, tuck into the food and toast “Jemmy” Madison and his wife, Dolley Madison.  After leaving the battlefield when the outcome seemed certain, Madison stopped off a the White House for a glass of wine, and to re-consider the wisdom of relying on state militias rather than a large, well-trained standing army. President James Madison cleared out about an hour before the British arrived. The First Lady left with the White House silver, china, a few knickknacks accompanied by family friends and some cabinet members an hour or so before the president arrived. Contrary to popular belief, Mrs. Madison did not take the famous Gilbert Stuart oil portrait of George Washington with her. She ordered White House staff to take it with them or destroy it to keep such a symbol out of British hands. Again, luckily the men were able to break the heavy frame and whisk the canvas to safety.

Except for some souvenirs, like Madison’s ceremonial sword, the British burned everything in the executive mansion: furniture, rugs, books, government papers, clothes and linens. Cockburn also  took some time out to wreck a local newspaper, the National Intelligencer, a pro-Madison paper that excoriated Cockburn for raiding and torching several towns up and down the Chesapeake Bay the previous summer. Cockburn wanted to burn the place down but when informed the newspaper was only a tenant, not the building owner, Cockburn — respecting the Irish-born Ross’ no damaging private property edict — settled for dragging all the paper and printing equipment into the street and burning or breaking it.

Under orders, the few sailors and Marines left in the city, torch and blow up the Washington Navy Yard on the Eastern Branch of the Potomac River (Anacostia River today), including two nearly completed new ships, the frigate Essex and the sloop-of-war Argus. The glow from the fire can be seen for miles in either direction.

The next day, August 25, the British send troops to destroy the Greenleaf  Point Arsenal on the Potomac close to where the Eastern Branch flows into it. During the demolition, a well in which full barrels of gunpowder had been dumped is accidentally touched off — blowing the well, the arsenal and many British soldiers to smithereens. A few more British troops are killed when a savage storm — they called it a hurricane at the time — lashes Washington with thunder, lightning, high winds that uproot trees and a torrential downpour that snuffs out some of the fires and knocks down structures on the British. Later, Washington residents say the storm was sent by Divine Providence to save the city.

That night, just a day after entering Washington, Ross — fearing the Americans might reorganize the scattered militia and regular troops to counter-attack — orders a withdrawal, first to Bladensburg to drop off the most seriously wounded, and then back to Benedict, where the British fleet was waiting. There is no risk of an American counter attack. Brigadier General William Winder, who performed so abysmally at Bladensburg, has withdrawn his troops to Montgomery Court House in Maryland and is trying to find enough food and shelter for them. On the morning of August 26, Winder gets word that the British are heading for Baltimore and by late morning is moving out with the militia and regular Army regiments that fought at Bladensburg along with new troops from Western Maryland.

The Washington Post has a wonderful retelling of what happened in Washington after Ross and Cockburn left and Madison and his cabinet returned.

But wait, there’s more …

On August 27, a British naval squadron commanded by Captain James Gordon is sailing up the Potomac River, approaching Fort Washington, a star-shaped structure completed in 1809 on a Maryland  bluff overlooking the river, south of Washington. Gordon’s little fleet of seven ships was sent by Cockburn 10 days earlier as a diversion to draw U.S. forces away from Ross and his troops attacking from the East. The squadron was also supposed to offer an escape route for the British troops if the raid on Washington went awry, but squalls, unfamiliar currents and shoals, stalled Gordon’s ships for days.

Now Gordon faces what is considered the main U.S. defense installation guarding the nation’s capital. But the U.S. commander has only enough men to man five of the fort’s 27 cannon. He is also low on ammunition. He’s also hearing (untrue) rumors that the British force that burned Washington is marching to attack him from the land.

The American commander and his officers decide to spike the guns, withdraw and blow up the fort — without firing a shot.

Gordon’s squadron sails  to Alexandria, Virginia, the port where George Washington brought his tobacco to ship to England before the Revolution. Lacking any defense or useable cannon, the city fathers vote on August 28  to surrender to Gordon to avoid destruction.  On August 29, Gordon demands all of the ships in the city — including those that have been scuttled to avoid capture — be surrendered to the British as well as all the supplies in Alexandria’s warehouses. By September 1, all 21 ships under Gordon’s control are stuffed full of supplies and merchandise like tobacco and he’s ordered to rejoin the fleet in Chesapeake Bay.

British operations in the Washington-Baltimore area 1814. (Map: West Point History Dept.)

British operations in the Washington-Baltimore area 1814.
(Map: West Point History Dept.)

The night before, August 30, a party of about 200 British sailors and Marines launch a raid on Maryland’s Eastern shore, across the Chesapeake near Chestertown, to chase off Americans on the Eastern Shore who might be planning to reinforce Baltimore. The British are commanded by Sir Peter Parker, who has been leading another Royal Navy squadron on a diversionary mission on the Upper Chesapeake. But the Maryland militia, led by Lieutenant Colonel Philip Reed, is waiting for Parker and his men. They open up with cannon and musket fire, killing 14 British — including Parker — and wounding another 27. The Americans withdraw when they run out of ammunition. They suffer only three wounded and none killed.

Sources for this post:

1812: The War that Forged a Nation by Walter R. Borneman, 2004

1812: The Navy’s War by George C. Daughan, 2011

Union 1812: The Americans Who Fought the Second War of Independence by A.J. Langguth, 2007

The Dawn’s Early Light by Walter Lord, 1972

Through the Perilous Flight: Six Weeks That Saved The Nation by Steve Vogel. 2013

Our Flag Was Still There: The Sea History Press Guide to the War of 1812 by William H. White, 2012




August 28, 2014 at 1:24 am Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (Jun 15-June 21, 1814)

Men in Motion

"Wellington at Waterloo" by Robert Alexander Hillingford via Wikipedia

“Wellington at Waterloo” by Robert Alexander Hillingford via Wikipedia

There was little if any gunfire this week in 1814 but leaders in Canada, London,Washington and Upstate New York were setting things in motion that would lead to the bloodiest battle of the war in Canada and British attacks on Baltimore, Washington and New Orleans later in the year.

In June, 10,000 British troops – veterans of the Duke of Wellingtons campaign against the French in Spain – are sent to the Americas, first to Bermuda and then on to Quebec.

British Major General Robert Ross – one of Wellington’s best generals – is set to command troops raiding the eastern seaboard. Ross and his troops depart Bordeaux, France June 2, reaching Bermuda on July 25.

With Napoleon removed from the scene, the British prime minister Lord Liverpool, means to teach the upstart Americans a lesson – particularly after U.S. Troops burn York (later to become Toronto, Canada) in 1813.

For the past year, British troops based at Virginia’s Tangier Island in Chesapeake Bay have conducted a series of raids: burning towns and plantations, seizing food and other supplies as well as southerners’ slaves. Many of the now free slaves join the British Corps of Colonial Marines.

The British raid Havre de Grace, Maryland in May 1813, Hampton, Virginia in June. Frenchtown, Fredericktown and Georgetown all on Maryland’s Eastern Shore are also raided in 1813. Raids against military targets in 1814 include: Pongoteague Creek on May 30; a skirmish between British and American naval forces at Cedar Point, Maryland on June 1 and additional skirmishes between the British fleet and a U.S. Navy flotilla of barges turned into gunboats at St. Leonard’s Creek, Maryland between June 8 and June 26.

President James Madison

President James Madison

On June 20, near Benedict, Maryland on the Patuxent River, an advance party of U.S. cavalry clashed with a British raiding party, killing one and capturing five.

Meanwhile, U.S. President James Madison and his cabinet still have their eyes on Canada. Madison thinks if U.S. generals can take parts of Lower Canada before Wellingtons veterans reach North America, the United States will have a bargaining chip at the peace negotiations. Washington dispatches troops from Ohio on June 19 to begin a campaign to control Lake Huron and recapture  Mackinac Island. More troops are moved along the Niagara frontier between New York and Canada, although little is done to reinforce Baltimore, Washington or New Orleans.


June 16, 2014 at 11:38 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (May 2, 2014)

The British Are Coming

Defense Dept. photo by Claudette Roulo

Defense Dept. photo by Claudette Roulo

In bearskin headgear known as a busby, the pipes and drums of the British Army’s 1st Battalion, Scots Guards, performs in the Pentagon courtyard Thursday (May 1, 2014). The Scots Guards is the oldest unit in the British Army, tracing its lineage back to 1642 in the service of King Charles I.

The pipe band is made up of 12 bagpipers, 10 drummers and two dancers (see photo below) and is led by a pipe major.

In between performances, James Townsend Jr., deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and NATO policy noted that in addition to being the oldest infantry battalion in the United Kingdom, the unit has skills in engineering and combined arms, which have been displayed on the battlefield. “So while we enjoy your musicianship here, we [also] know being good Scots Guards you enjoy a scrap” he added.

The Scots Guards served alongside U.S. Marines in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province in 2012-2013, said British Army Brigadier General Douglas Chalmers, liaison officer for the chief of the U.K. defense staff.

The dancer below is attired in a kilt with the Regiment’s official tartan, Royal Stewart. If you click on the photo and enlarge it, look for the traditional dirk, or dagger, tucked into the stocking on his right leg.

One of the two Highland dancers attached to the 1st Battalion, Scots Guards, band performs outside the Pentagon.  (Defense Dept. photo photo by Claudette Roulo)

One of the two Highland dancers attached to the 1st Battalion, Scots Guards band performs outside the Pentagon.
(Defense Dept. photo photo by Claudette Roulo)

There doesn’t appear to be any video/audio of this event yet, but to hear what the full band (brass and woodwinds) sounds like click here.

Or click here to see a YouTube video of the pipes and drums leading the 1st Battalion’s 2013 homecoming parade through the streets of Glasgow after their deployment in Afghanistan. We suggest skipping to the 2:00 or 3:00 minute mark of the 14:00 video.


May 2, 2014 at 3:00 am 1 comment

FRIDAY FOTO (November 16, 2012)

Snipers Three

U.K. Ministry of Defence. Crown Copyright/MOD. Photo by Mark Owens

A British sniper from 5 SCOTS (center), an Air Assault infantry battalion, and French snipers of the 8th Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment were among the participants in a company level live fire training exercise in Britain earlier this year.

They may look like a cross between Swamp Thing and Cousin Itt from the Addams Family, but all three are wearing versions of a camouflage outfit known as a ghillie suit.  The suit, worn by civilian hunters and military snipers, is designed to look like heavy foliage in a forest or field. It was originally developed by Scottish gamekeepers as a portable hunting blind and first adopted for war in 1916. The name derives from a Scottish word for “lad” or “servant.”

To see a very brief Polish video about ghillie suits on YouTube, click here.

Here’s another one click here. It’s kind of long — after about 2-3 minutes you get the idea. There’s also an ad at the beginning you can zap after a few seconds.

Exercise Boar’s Head, held at the U.K.’s Otterburn Training Area included a British Army infantry company from 5 SCOTS— the fifth of five battalions in the Royal Regiment of Scotland — a unit of the 16th Air Assault Brigade. A company from 8th Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment, a unit of the French 11th Parachute Brigade, also participated.

Any small arms experts out there who can identify the sniper rifles these three shooters are carrying? Please post a comment at the bottom of this posting or email us at:

November 16, 2012 at 1:39 am 4 comments

FRIDAY FOTO (April 29, 2011)

Boots on the … Face

Photo by Sgt. Ian Forsyth RLC. Crown Copright/MoD

In the spirit of the royal wedding that took place in London today, we thought we’d visit the British Army website to see what they were up to – when we came across the arresting photo above.

It shows a Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) cadet negotiating the obstacle course – with the assistance of Officer Cadet Oliver Wootton’s face – in the 2011 Sandhurst Cup military skills competition at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York.

The 11-event competition, named for the British military academy, has been a showcase for cadets to demonstrate their soldier skills, and also exchange ideas, since the late 1960s. This year, 50 teams took part in the April 15-16 event.

The competitors formed nine-member teams with at least one female member. They included squads from the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force academies and college ROTC programs, as well as from Britain, Canada, Australia, Taiwan, Chile and Afghanistan.The ROTC competitors came from schools in Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, North Dakota and Vermont.

They were tested by a timed marksmanship event as well as a four-and-a-half hour combat assault challenge. That segment included obstacle courses, endurance challenges – such as crossing a ravine by rope – a 90-minute land navigation (orienteering) course, and a river crossing by small inflatable boat. There were also command tasks, a written test and final a weapons check to deal with.

“We try to make it different each year to challenge the cadets to solve problems,” said Capt. Edd Oldfield, the British Exchange Officer at West Point. The idea is to prepare future officers for situations like the ones encountered in current operations “where there are scenarios you can’t predict,” he adds.

For the first time since 1993, a West Point squad won the overall title. During that 17-year hiatus, the top honors went to either a RMAS team or one from the Royal Military College of Canada. This year, one of the two British teams finished third overall but was the highest-scoring foreign team. The other British team won the overall orienteering competition.

The Afghan squad was unable to send more than three cadets. They were able to round out their nine-slot team by “borrowing” three West Point cadets, two British cadets and one from a U.S. ROTC program.

For more information, including rules, video and final team standings, click on the Sandhurst Competition website.

Lest anyone think we are mocking the Sandhurst cadets or the UK military, please note the photo was placed third on the British Army news page of the MoD website. It was featured just below pieces about the household cavalry’s preparations for Prince William’s wedding and the return of a Scottish regiment from Afghanistan.

Still dissatisfied with 4GWAR’s photo selection for this special day in the UK, see the Friday Foto Extra below.

April 29, 2011 at 9:20 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO Extra (4/29/2011)

Preparing for the Wedding

Photo by Sgt. Dan Harmer, Crown Copyright/MoD

Red-coated soldiers of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment’s Life Guards exercise in Hyde Park ahead of the April 29 Royal Wedding. They are one of two cavalry units that protect the British sovereign. The other is the Blues and Royals (also known as the Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons).

For more photos and information on these splendidly attired horse soldiers and their magnificent animals, click here.

April 29, 2011 at 9:15 pm Leave a comment

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