Knights of the air

There are few rivals in war who have shared the mutual regard and respect, even camaraderie, as did those who flew fighter planes during the two world wars. Theirs was a singular experience, the scale and intimacy of which were unique in the annals of conflict, even aviation, before or since. The chivalric tradition...
  • For whom the ship’s bell tolls

    May 15, 2019 by Stephen J. Thorne
    Ships’ bells mark the watch, sound alarms, send signals, declare a ship’s presence in foggy weather and even serve as baptismal fonts. Usually engraved, the ship’s bell is often the primary identifying element of an historic wreck, as was the bronze bell from HMS Erebus,...
  • ‘And all who sail in her. . . .’

    May 8, 2019 by Stephen J. Thorne
    There was a bit of a row across the pond recently after the Scottish Maritime Museum decided to adopt gender-neutral signage for its vessels. Museum director David Mann told The Guardian newspaper the decision to drop “she” for “it” when referencing ships was made after...
  • A feather in your cap

    May 1, 2019 by Stephen J. Thorne
    Celebrated officers wore the feathered crowns of egrets. British infantrymen wear “hackles.” Italian shock troops, known as Bersaglieri, rather flamboyantly sport the feathers of a particular wood grouse known as a capercaillie. Military tradition has spawned a bizarre menagerie of headgear, both for dress occasions...
  • Diving into healing waters

    April 24, 2019 by Stephen J. Thorne
    Retired Marine gunnery sergeant and combat diver Dan Griego spent two years combing the eastern seaboard from Florida northward searching for an area rich in shipwrecks so he could give his brothers-in-arms some meaningful, healing work. He ended up with Jeff MacKinnon, a third-generation treasure...
  • Trooper Elmer Cole spent nine hours driving a Churchill tank at Dieppe on Aug. 19, 1942, trying to hold off German forces and find a way past the obstacles inland. The stone beach was already littered with dead Canadians and disabled tanks from the King’s...
  • Words of war (part 2)

    April 10, 2019 by Stephen J. Thorne
    It is a big step to take another human life. It is not to be done lightly. I know of men who have taken life needlessly in other conflicts. I can assure you they live with the mark of Cain upon them. —Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Collins,...
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