Chris Columbus "discovered" the hammock just as he "discovered" the Americas, being the first European to kick off the flood of "new world" explorers, a number of whom commented on the hanging woven net beds they saw. They brought the design back to Europe, as they took cotton, canvas and other cloths to the Americas, where they were quickly adopted by sailors and navies, with some innovative designs. Today there are a myriad of variations (slideshow) on the simple little sling that has survived for more than 1,000 years, used as a bed, birthing table, cradle, sofa -- even as a final resting place. [more inside]
PTSD and Gene Kelly's lost wartime star turn: For the last six decades or so, a copy [of "Combat Fatigue Irritability"] has been filed away, along with thousands of other films, at the National Library of Medicine. The only people it has been lost to are the public and Gene Kelly’s devoted and still numerous fans. But now the National Library of Medicine is featuring Combat Fatigue Irritability in Medical Movies on the Web, and the film will be given a well-deserved, though very belated, New York premiere, on October 5, 2013, at the New York Academy of Medicine. [more inside]
The permanent collection of the (US) National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago contains more than 2,500 pieces of art by 250 artists, all of which can be seen at NVAM Collection Online. The site includes biographical material on the artists who created the work. Featured Artwork. A small selection. (Via. Images at links in this post may be nsfw, and/or disturbing to some viewers.)
"Tanks Are Mighty Fine Things!" And Other Tales Of Truthiness... At the end of World War II, Chrysler sent small hardbound books to shareholders chronicling ways the company had contributed to the war effort. Two have now been placed online at the Chrysler Imperial Club's website: "Tanks are Mighty Fine Things" and "A War Job 'Thought Impossible' (The story of the Chrysler-Sperry Gyro-Compass)" (Via) [more inside]
Smithsonian Magazine's new blog Past Imperfect has already told some interesting stories in its first weeks, but none more compelling than that of Lt. Commander Minter Dial's Annapolis class ring.
"ALL U-BOATS. ATTENTION ALL U-BOATS. CEASE-FIRE AT ONCE. STOP ALL HOSTILE ACTION AGAINST ALLIED SHIPPING. DÖNITZ." [more inside]
More than 1000 diaries kept by surgeons of Britain's Royal Navy between 1793 and 1800 have been cataloged by the National Archives, and are now available for public study. [more inside]
The Fore River Shipyard was in service between 1886 and 1985, first under the management of the Fore River Ship and Engine Building Company, then Bethlehem Steel, and finally General Dynamics. She helped to close out the age of sail with the construction of the largest sailing vessel in history without any kind of engine. Besides providing a substantial number of liberty ships, surface warships of various classes, and submarines during WWII, it may also be the source of the "Kilroy was here" graffiti. [more inside]
The 30,000 men of the British Merchant Navy (one-fifth of its pre-war strength) who fell victim to the U-boats between 1939 and 1945, the majority drowned or killed by exposure on the cruel North Atlantic sea*, were quite as certainly front-line warriors as the guardsmen and fighter pilots to whom they ferried the necessities of combat. Neither they nor their American, Dutch, Norwegian, or Greek fellow mariners wore uniform and few have any memorial. They stood nevertheless between the Wehrmacht and the domination of the world. - John Keegan
Pictures of military subjects, many of them annotated, from all over such as Russia, Malaysia, Japan (Special Police), Ireland, Cyprus, Sri Lanka and Canada. [more inside]
The U.S. Naval Observatory Library features high-res scans of images from antique books dealing with astronomy and navigation. Wallpapers, ahoy!
Come into the Channel ... If you are only here for twenty-four hours, all will be over and six centuries of shame and insult will be avenged'. See you at Pompey tomorrow to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Trafalgar.
I have recently begun Patrick O’Brian’s series of Aubrey-Maturin novels, set in the rich and vibrant world of the 18th century Royal Navy; I have also enjoyed the movie. These superb historic novel have rekindled my interest in the great age of sail, especially the exploits of Lord Nelson. The Royal Navy at this time ruled the world, although the tactics used were brutal and seaman were often taken to sea against their will. The Battle of Trafalgar is certainly the most famous engagement and HMS Victory the most famous of the ships. Next year is the 200th anniversary of the battle, the preparations sound spectacular and it is good to see the strong British sailing tradition continues.
"Never mind manoeuvres, always go straight at 'em!" Such was the Advice of Lord Nelson to Jack Aubrey. Today seems a good day to suggest the works of Patrick O'Brian before the Russell Crowe film potentially soils his good name. Aubrey is a captain of the Royal Navy and "the particular friend" of Stephen Maturin, naturalist, surgeon, spy. Those starting the 20 volume series may need a dictionary. Given the day, I should mention the duo did sail under a Letter of Marque when times were tough. More Inside