Monday, 6 October 2014
Sunday, 5 October 2014
Shamus Wade, who has died aged 86, was, from the late Sixties through to the Nineties, one of the world’s leading authorities on, and dealers in, lead toy soldiers .
Wade was a young advertising copywriter in London when he began collecting toy soldiers — an enthusiasm that led to his renting a tiny Saturday morning stall on the Portobello Road. It proved a magnet for young collectors, including James Opie, the author and Bonhams expert. “Toy soldier dealer, collector, author, military historian ... Shamus Wade was a man of many attributes,” Opie said.
It was only when Wade left the advertising world to become a full-time dealer that his reputation spread internationally.
He was the first to distribute by post comprehensive sale lists of old toy soldiers produced by manufacturers such as Britains, Hill, Heyde, and Ping. The detail and erudition in his cataloguing, and his unfailing honesty in describing the condition of the models (including the most minor repair or retouching) established his name as both the leading, and most trustworthy, authority in his field.
Wade’s lists were also embellished by his own enthusiasms, with additional notes on some of the more obscure fighting forces of the British Empire, such as the Jammu and Kashmir Cuirassiers (mounted cavalry).
However, one of the highlights of his personal collection was a civilian figure: a village idiot. When the celebrated model-makers Britains presented their “farm range” at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1924, King George V and Queen Mary noted the lack of a village idiot. One was duly created (by Royal command).
By the early Seventies, the main London auction houses had created their own specialist toy soldier auctions, and Shamus Wade became the bidder to watch. His participation contributed to the growth in prices for toy soldiers as international collecting interest grew.
In 1974, encouraged by this growing interest, Wade created a series of “new old toy soldiers” commissioned from the manufacturers Jan and Frank Scroby. These were made in the style of old toy soldiers — solid-cast and hand-painted — but they were not copies. The “Nostalgia” series re-created in miniature the different regiments of the Empire, including the Indian Princely States, between 1850 and 1910.
More than 100 sets were produced, including forces such as the Truncheon Party of the 2nd Gurkha Rifles, the Sierra Leone Royal Artillery and the Bikanir Ganga Risala Camel Corps.
The Scrobys complained that he was a hard taskmaster, but he insisted that every detail of the uniforms and armaments that he had researched so fastidiously should be included in the models.
The research itself went beyond libraries: Wade managed, for example, to identify the uniform of the Gibraltarian Carreteros del Rey — the transport corps known as the “King’s Cart Drivers” — by discovering the retired tailor who had made them as an apprentice.
Wade’s Nostalgia soldiers became some of the most renowned collectables on the toy soldier market. Today, they are enjoying a considerable revival in popularity, as collectors discover the challenge of putting together complete sets. The number issued varied considerably. Wade used a limited-edition system of taking orders in advance, and having only that number manufactured — after which the moulds were destroyed.
Shamus Otway Davenport Wade was born on April 22 1928 at Pontefract, to Major Roland Wade of the Inniskilling Dragoons, and his wife, Noreen (née Coke). The Wade family of Clonbraney, Co Meath, had lived in Ireland since Cromwell’s time. They had been forced to leave the country during the Troubles, but returned after the end of the Second World War.
Wade attended Bedford School and the Birmingham College of Arts and Crafts. After National Service, including service in Malaya during the Emergency, he was employed in the advertising industry for 20 years.
There is one legacy of Wade’s time as a copywriter. Wade was part of the campaign to persuade the post-war British public that they would be unable to tell the difference between Stork margarine and butter. In the famous “Stork Challenge” television commercials, members of the public were given a taste-test to see if they could tell Stork from its dairy alternative, resulting in the celebrated claim: “Seven out of 10 people can’t tell Stork from butter.”
However, after refusing to provide copy for cigarette advertising, Wade changed tack, embarking on the dealing career that made his name.
After retiring from dealing and manufacturing, Wade established the Commonwealth Forces History Trust to promote better understanding of the role of Commonwealth forces in Britain’s wars.
From the research collection of the Trust, he provided veterans and their families with detailed accounts of the military and policing units established under imperial and colonial rule.
He was a regular contributor to The Bulletin of the British Model Soldier Society, an active member of the Kipling Society, and, as a devotee of the products of the British toy company John Hill and Co, the organiser of its centenary dinner in 1998.
In 2012, the Shamus Wade Toy and Model Figure Collection was sold by Special Auction Services at Newbury.
“I always admired Shamus as a fount of all knowledge,” said Hugo Marsh, director of the auctioneer’s toy department, “an authoritative man, but with a great twinkle and sense of humour.”
On the sale of his collection, Wade derived great satisfaction from the fact that many of the collectors — including some he had known since the Sixties — valued his toy soldiers with the same enthusiasm as he had himself.
Shamus Wade is survived by his wife, Flavia, and their daughter .
Tuesday, 30 September 2014
The Dachau liberation reprisals were a series of incidents in which German prisoners of war were killed at the Dachau concentration camp on April 29, 1945, during World War II. American soldiers wounded and killed German camp guards and German prisoners of war. The killings occurred after the U.S. 45th Infantry Division entered the Dachau concentration camp
SS men confer with GeneralHenning Linden during the capture of the Dachau concentration camp. Pictured from left to right: SS aide, camp leader Untersturmführer Heinrich Wicker (mostly hidden by the aide),Paul M. G. Lévy, a Belgian journalist (person with helmet looking to his left), Dr. Victor Maurer (back), Gen. Henning Linden (person with helmet, looking to his right) and some U.S. soldiers.Just before the soldiers entered the complex, they found thirty-nine railway boxcars containing some two-thousand skeletal corpses. Brain tissue was splattered on the ground from one victim found nearby with a crushed skull. The smell of decaying bodies and human excrement, and the sight of naked, emaciated bodies induced vomiting, crying, disbelief and rage in the advancing troops. Advancing soldiers from H Company, 22d Regiment used a loudspeaker to call on the SS to surrender, "but they wouldn’t." The American troops were then fired on by machine gunners in a guard tower and a building.
According to Harold Marcuse, the camp commander SS-Hauptsturmführer Martin Weiss, together with the camp guards and the SS garrisons, had fled the camp before the arrival of U.S. troops. SS-Untersturmführer Heinrich Wicker (killed after the surrender) was left in charge and had roughly 560 personnel at his disposal; these came from conscripted inmates of the SS disciplinary prison inside the Dachau concentration camp and Hungarian Waffen-SS troops.
On 29 April 1945, Dachau was surrendered to Brigadier General Henning Linden of the 42nd Infantry Division of the U.S. Army by Untersturmführer Wicker. According to Linden, he arrived at the Command Post in Dachau at about 15:00, and then proceeded to make his way across the Amper River to the site of the complex approximately one half kilometer south of the bridge he crossed.He proceeded to take control of the camp under some tumult; thereafter, he toured the camp with a group of reporters (including Marguerite Higgins). A description of the surrender appears in Brig. Gen. Henning Linden's memorandum to Major Gen. Harry J. Collins, entitled "Report on Surrender of Dachau Concentration Camp":
As we approached the southwest corner, three people came forward with a flag of truce. We met them about 75 yards north of the southwest corner. These three people were a Swiss Red Cross representative, Victor Maurer, and two SS troopers who said they were the camp commander and his assistant. They had come here on the night of the 28th to take over from the regular camp personnel for the purpose of surrendering the camp to the advancing Americans. The Swiss Red Cross representative said there were about 100 SS guards in the camp who had their arms stacked except for the people in the tower.... He had given instructions that there would be no shots fired and it would take about 50 men to relieve the guards, as there were 42,000 "half-crazed" inmates, many of them typhusinfected... He asked if I were an officer. I replied, "I am Assistant Division Commander of the 42d Infantry Division and will accept the surrender of the camp in the name of the Rainbow Division for the United States Army....General Dwight D. Eisenhower issued a communiqué regarding the capture of Dachau concentration camp: "Our forces liberated and mopped up the infamous concentration camp at Dachau. Approximately 32,000 prisoners were liberated; 300 SS camp guards were quickly neutralized."
Military historian Earl Ziemke describes the event:
The Americans came on April 29, a Sunday. Work had stopped in the camp on Wednesday, and an evacuation was being organized. One transport of 4,000 prisoners was able to get away, but the 42nd and 45th Infantry Divisions covered the 40 miles from the Danube faster than the Germans expected. At noon on Sunday the camp was quiet, and the SS guards were at their posts in the towers when the cry "Americans!" went up. A prisoner rushed toward the gate, and a guard shot him. Outside, a single American soldier stood looking casually at the towers while the guards eyed him and others who were two or three hundred yards way. When the Americans opened fire, the guards in the gate tower came down, hands in the air. One held a pistol behind his back, and the first American shot him. In the next few minutes a jeep drove up; in it were a blond female war correspondent and a chaplain. The chaplain asked the prisoners, now crowding to the gate, to join him in the Lord's Prayer. ...Troops of the 42nd and 45th Divisions who liberated Dachau in the afternoon on 29 April were fighting in Munich the next morning and by nightfall had, along with XV Corps' other three divisions, captured the city that was the capital of Bavaria and the birthplace of Nazism.Upon moving deeper into the complex, and the prisoner area itself, more bodies were found. Some had been dead for hours and days before the camp's capture and lay where they had died. Soldiers reported seeing a row of cement structures that contained rooms full of hundreds of naked and barely clothed dead bodies piled floor to ceiling, a coal-fired crematorium and a gas chamber."The stench of death was overpowering."
Lt. Col. Felix L. Sparks, a battalion commander of the 157th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, Seventh United States Army wrote about the incident. Sparks watched as about 50 German prisoners captured by the 157th Infantry Regiment were confined in an area that had been used for storing coal. The area was partially enclosed by an L-shaped masonry wall about 8 ft (2.4 m) high and next to a hospital. The German POWs were watched over by a machine gun team from Company I. He left those men behind to head towards the center of the camp where there were SS who had not yet surrendered; he had only gone a short distance when he heard a soldier yell "They're trying to get away!" and then machine gunfire coming from the area he had just left. He ran back and kicked a 19-year-old soldier nicknamed "Birdeye" who was manning the machine gun and who had killed about 12 of the prisoners and wounded several more. The gunner, who was crying hysterically, said that the prisoners had tried to escape. Sparks said that he doubted the story; Sparks placed an NCO on the gun before resuming his journey towards the center of the camp. Sparks further stated:
It was the forgoing incident which has given rise to wild claims in various publications that most or all of the German prisoners captured at Dachau were executed. Nothing could be further from the truth. The total number of German guards killed at Dachau during that day most certainly not exceed fifty, with thirty probably being a more accurate figure. The regimental records for that date indicate that over a thousand German prisoners were brought to the regimental collecting point. Since my task force was leading the regimental attack, almost all the prisoners were taken by the task force, including several hundred from Dachau.— Felix L. Sparks
In the U.S. military "Investigation of Alleged Mistreatment of German Guards at Dachau" conducted by Lt. Col. Joseph Whitaker, the account given by Howard Buechner (then a first lieutenant in the United States Army and medical officer with the 3rd Battalion of the 157th Infantry), to Whitaker on 5 May 1945 did not contradict the Sparks account. He said that around 16:00 he arrived in the yard where the German soldiers had been shot, and that he "saw 15 or 16 dead and wounded German soldiers lying along the wall." He noted that some of the wounded soldiers were still moving but he did not examine any of them. He further told Whitaker that he did not know the soldier guarding the yard or which company he was from.
According to Buechner's 1986 book, Dachau: The Hour of the Avenger : An Eyewitness Account,] U.S. forces killed 520 German soldiers, including 346 killed on the orders of 1st Lt. Jack Bushyhead, in an alleged mass execution in the coalyard several hours after the first hospital shooting. Buechner did not witness the alleged incident, however, and there was no mention of a second shooting in the official investigation report. David L. Israel disputed this account in his book The Day the Thunderbird Cried:
Buechner's inaccuracies and arbitrary use of figures in citing the untrue story about the total liquidation of all SS troops found in Dachau was eagerly accepted by Revisionist organizations and exploited to meet their own distorted stories of Dachau.— David L. Israel
Abram Sachar reported, "Some of the Nazis were rounded up and summarily executed along with the guard dogs."
According to Jürgen Zarusky (originally published in a 1997 article in Dachauer Hefte), 16 SS men were shot in the coalyard (one more killed by a camp inmate), 17 in Tower B, and perhaps a few more killed by U.S. soldiers in the incident. Anywhere from a few to 25 or 50 more were killed by furious inmates. Zarusky's research makes use of the detailed interrogation records contained in Whitaker's official May 1945 investigation report, which became accessible in 1992, as well as a collection of documents compiled by General Henning Linden's son.
After the hospital shooting was stopped, some of the U.S. soldiers allegedly gave a number of handguns to the now-liberated inmates. It has been claimed by eyewitnesses that the freed inmates tortured and killed a number of captured German troops, in retaliation for their treatment in the camp. The same witnesses claim that many of the German soldiers killed by the inmates were beaten to death with shovels and other tools. A number of Kapo prisoner-guards were also killed, torn apart by the inmates.
Lt. Col. Joseph Whitaker, the Seventh Army's Assistant Inspector General, was subsequently ordered to investigate after witnesses came forward testifying about the killings. He issued a report on 8 June 1945, called the "Investigation of Alleged Mistreatment of German Guards at Dachau" and also known as "the I.G. Report". In 1991, an archived copy was found in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and was made public.
Whitaker reported that close to the back entrance to the camp Lt. William P. Walsh, commander of Company "I", 157th Infantry, shot four German soldiers in a box car who had surrendered to him. Pvt. Albert C. Pruitt then climbed into the box car and performed a coup de grâce on the wounded men.
After he had entered the camp Walsh, along with Lt. Jack Bushyhead, the executive officer of Company "I" organized the segregation of POWs into those who were members of the Wehrmacht and those who were in the SS. The SS were marched into a separate enclosure and were shot by members of "I" Company with several different types of weapons.
The investigation resulted in the U.S. Military considering courts-martial against those involved, including the Battalion commander Lt. Col. Felix Sparks, while Col. Howard Buechner was cited in the report for dereliction of duty for not giving the wounded SS men in the coal yard medical aid. However, General George S. Patton, the recently appointed military governor of Bavaria, chose to dismiss the charges. Therefore, the witnesses to the killings were never cross-examined in court.
The reprisals are portrayed in the 2010 psychological thriller film Shutter Island. The film's protagonist, Edward "Teddy" Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an veteran of the war who experiences visions of Dachau, the reprisals and his involvement in them.
Monday, 29 September 2014
"Battle of Khalkhin what?" This is the instinctive response most of you will give after reading the heading. It is understandable. The Battle of Khalkhin Gol does not find a mention in most history books.Why? Because it involved Russia. Most western historians tend underplay the contribution of Russia in defeating Nazi Germany.
And the Battle of Khalkhin Gol cast a long shadow on how the Russo-German War during WW2 panned out.
Khalkhin Gol is a river which demarcated the boundary line between Mongolia, Soviet Union and Japanese occupied Manchuria. The year was 1939. The Japanese army in Manchukuo had designs on Soviet territory and trespassed the border now and again. Stalin wanted to erase the threat for good so he sent his best commander Georgy Zhukov, the same man who later led the Red Army as it destroyed the Nazi German army.
Zhukov in the ensuing Battle of Khalkhin Gol gave the Japanese army a thorough thrashing. The Japanese remembered the thrashing and did not attack Russia from the east when Hitler's army was sweeping through the country in 1941. In December 1941, as the Germans inched towards Moscow, Stalin got a confirmation from his spy in Tokyo, Richard Sorge, that Japan was not going to attach the Soviet Union despite German requests.
This allowed him to strip his eastern troops and threw them against the advancing Germans. As we all know the Germans were pushed back steadily from Moscow.
The importance of the Battle of Khalkhin Gol is that if Zhukov had not given the Japanese a hiding in the battle, Japan might have been tempted to attack the Soviet Union in 1941 from the east. The result of the Battle of Moscow might have been different. Russia might have collapsed then under the assault from the west and east.....And may be Hitler might have won the Second World War..