Big Bertha

Big Bertha
Circa 1940, on the streets of Rochester New York, Bertha does her work.
"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Ninety Years Ago Today...



Anyway,
October 8, 1918; Sgt. (then Corporal) Alvin York won the Congressional Medal of Honor for his little bit of business in the Argonne Forest.
I'm not going to tell the whole story.
If you don't know it - Go here: Wiki - it's user-friendly.
Alvin was a good man. I'd always thought he was Pentecostal Church of God but have come to find out that he was actually "Churches of Christ in Christian Union".
No, anonymous; I'm not attacking his religion, simply stating a salient fact.
Myownself, I'm kind of a cross between "Holy Roller" (like Sarah) and Baptist, 'cause I believe in eternal security.
Here's what Alvin had to say about his moment in the limelight:

"The Germans got us, and they got us right smart. They just stopped us dead in our tracks. Their machine guns were up there on the heights overlooking us and well hidden, and we couldn’t tell for certain where the terrible heavy fire was coming from… And I'm telling you they were shooting straight. Our boys just went down like the long grass before the mowing machine at home. Our attack just faded out… And there we were, lying down, about halfway across [the valley] and those German machine guns and big shells getting us hard."

"And those machine guns were spitting fire and cutting down the undergrowth all around me something awful. And the Germans were yelling orders. You never heard such a racket in all of your life. I didn't have time to dodge behind a tree or dive into the brush… As soon as the machine guns opened fire on me, I began to exchange shots with them. There were over thirty of them in continuous action, and all I could do was touch the Germans off just as fast as I could. I was sharp shooting… All the time I kept yelling at them to come down. I didn't want to kill any more than I had to. But it was they or I. And I was giving them the best I had."

However, York, played in the movie at York's insistence, by my homeboy, Gary Cooper, was unimpressed with his feat.
Even so, it has been romanticized and expanded upon to the point that Alvin's heroic actions, the "real" version that is, pale somewhat before the bowdlerized shit.
He did do some "sharp shooting", and he used the Bisley (read "new and improved") version of the SMLE known as the P14, chambered in 30.06.
A definite nine kills are attributed to York.
This seems to represent an interesting turn of events for a self-professed pacifist and religious conscientious objector.
Interestingly, this was his own trip. His church didn't have any specific pacifist doctrine. He just thought, since a friend of his had been killed in a drunken bar-fight (read: he and Alvin against the rest of the patrons) that maybe killing folks was wrong.
But he was conflicted.
Two viewpoints contrasting in his head, a desire to serve his country and a strong feeling re the sanctity of life.
Had he decided the other way, he'd be every bit as good a man - perhaps better. He just wouldn't have had a movie made about it - which would have been fine with him.

"It's over; let's just forget about it."
Alvin York in reference to his Medal of Honor.

5 comments:

Andy said...

Blog wars or what? Actually, I liked Larry's book.
On topic though, as to our man York, did you see this?

http://www.military.com/news/article/did-wwi-hero-sgt-york-have-help.html?col=1186032369115

Oh, and my standard reply to the holy war bullshit from civilians is "Sign the fuck up, we've got open seats" Fuck your excuses, I'm 45 and have a knee full of screws and I'm back in line for another trip.

Oliver Hart-Parr said...

They aren't "excuses".
They're "choosing" to not participate preferring to "supporting the war effort" from here - where you get to sleep in a bed and stuff like that.
Blog spats is more like it.
My cooler head prevailed (which one would that be) and I took down my MH bashing.
I really don't give a shit re what he thinks/does.
Time will out.

Culpeper said...

"Its over. Now, lets just forget it."

By coincidence I've picked up a book titled, "The Guns of August" that kicks ass about the first 30 days of WWI. That would exclude the Doughboys.

BTW, my grandfater, on my mother's side, was a Doughboy. Served with the Texas-Oklahoma Division. I think they had to serve under a French general. Anyway, I got his discharge paper showing his campaigns. He never talked about the war and died in 1969 from complications to his lungs from that war. He was also instrumental or rather worked very hard with getting the American Legion started.

Oliver Hart-Parr said...

Barbara Tuchman, Hell yes.
Read "A Distant Mirror".
She saw a pessimistic mindset after WW1 that parallels that of the post-plague 13th century.

Oliver Hart-Parr said...

Andy, re the link you provided.
Anyone who doesn't know that medals, especially the biggies, are political is either a civilian or just dumb.
Of course he had help.
Furthermore, his actions don't differ in a huge degree from those of my dad who only got a bronze star - no "V".
It's like the one of the two cute West Virginia soldiers - not Lindy Englund - the one rescued from the hospital.
She wasn't a hero.
She was a casualty - and a media pawn.
It's not fair - to the folks who were with these "heros" and to the individuals themselves.
No one but an idiot (and MacArthur - wait that's redundant) goes out looking for medals.

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