Friday, January 27, 2017

History: The Year in 1940

I've uploaded year 1940 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

France's Surrender and the Temptation of Vietnam -- I try to answer the question... why did Japan enter the war at all?

Faith, Hope, Charity and the Zombie Apocalypse -- I talk about the RAF planes of Malta and a Zombie Apocalypse novel.

Trotsky Dies... Rather Messily -- Stalin has a long memory.

Notable Births -- See Below.

This Year in Music -- See Below.

This Year in Film -- See Below.

In Other News -- The Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapses, the F4U Corsair makes its debut, and the first McDonald's opens.


France's Surrender and the Temptation of Vietnam

[It is] a treasure lying in the street just waiting to be picked up!
-- Foreign Minister Masuoka, "Mr. 50,000 Words," speaking to Japan's new cabinet members about Vietnam. [1]
Japan joins the Axis powers toward the end of this year, and one wonders why. They refused to join last year. What has changed? It is Hitler's win over France. The Germans fool the French by feinting toward Belgium and outflanking the forces holding the Maginot Line. The French have no defense in depth, so once the Germans are past the weak point in the line, the Allies are surrounded and must evacuate across the English Channel from Dunkirk. The French are forced to surrender at the same spot that Germany suffered its humiliating defeat after World War 1. Now France is the loser, and the German people cheer. Even if a German citizen secretly opposes Hitler, it is a relief to get back some of their own. So now Hitler installs the Vichy French government and uses French ports to launch his U-boat attacks on British shipping... which brings us back to the Japanese. Remember all those years ago when France invaded Vietnam? Vietnam is rich in resources and food. It's ports and runways make it strategically desirable as a means for Japan to attack China. By joining the Axis Powers Japan can convince the Vichy government to hand over Vietnam to them. It is ripe, low-hanging fruit, so to speak. [2] [3] [4] [5]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
It was "ripe" all right. This was one of those cases when a little more thought and a lot less enthusiasm was called for. Sure. Japan could have used Vietnam, and it fit with their overall strategy to become the ruling power in the region, but many Japanese leaders realized that doing so would put them in conflict with the United States and the other Anglo powers. Nevertheless, it was too tempting and the new government was only 4 days old. The fast-talking "Mr. 50,000 Words", as the Foreign Minister was called behind his back, convinced them to change their policy. Several members of the government resigned. One man shed tears. The word "inscrutable" is often applied to the Japanese of this time. Usually, public tears were not on the agenda. He must have had some idea of what was coming for the land he loved, but no one could have imagined two atomic bombs.

Faith, Hope, Charity and the Zombie Apocalypse

The Island of Malta was once held by the Knights of the Order of Saint John against the Arab invasion of Europe. Frankly, the Knights saved Europe. In 1940, Malta is still a strategic position, so a British ship drops off a few crates containing obsolete Gloster Gladiator biplanes. The mission is to assemble the plane from crates (which is why planes are sometimes called "crates") and then hold Malta, letting no bombers pass. These planes are being held together with chewing gum and a pray. The pilots cannibalize, they improvise, they carry out the mission no matter what. As the story goes, they name the last three planes: "Faith, Hope and Charity" after the biblical verse. Only "Faith" will survive the war. [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I find the story inspiring. Your mileage may vary. I'm not sure how true the story is, but my guess is that it is mostly true. The pilots and crew certainly had trouble maintaining their planes, and went beyond the call of duty to keep the planes running and in the action. The "Zombie Apocalypse" is a reference to a series of novels I've read concerning an Australian SAS commando turned school teacher who must bring his family through a Zombie Apocalypse alive. The solution seems to be to go to sea in boats, but throughout the series he takes his lessons from "Faith, Hope and Charity"... the RAF planes and their crews who did whatever it took to get the mission done. The name of the first book in the series is "Under a Graveyard Sky" by John Ringo. Warning: This is a novel for adults so adjust your expectations accordingly. [13]

Trotsky Dies... Rather Messily

Like an elephant, Stalin doesn't forget. (He is also fat, ugly and he smells.) Leon Trotsky has been on Stalin's "to-do" list for a long time now. The Great Purge has eliminated almost anyone who might be a threat to Stalin, and millions more are killed... just because he can. Trotsky was the former heir-apparent to the leadership of the Soviet Union after Lenin, but Stalin squeezed Trotsky out and eventually had him banished. Trotsky is now living in Mexico, generally minding his own business. He has hired an assistant that he trusts, but this fellow is Stalin's hired assassin. As Trotsky sits at his desk, going over papers, the assassin pulls out an ice axe and swings for the back of Trotsky's head. (Assassination tip: DON'T CLOSE YOUR EYES!) Trotsky cries out good and loud for a LONG time. He actually wrestles with the assassin until the bodyguards arrive. Trotsky dies the next day from loss of blood and shock. The assassin will spend a few years in a Mexican jail and then be released. He will receive the Order of Lenin... for assassinating Lenin's heir... ironically. [14] [15] [16]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Is this the Russian way? I recall a former Russian FSB agent was murdered when radioactive polonium was sprinkled into his food. It was the first documented case of such a poisoning... and frankly... where would one get polonium except from a nation-state? Alexander Litvinenko was the fellow in question and from his deathbed he blamed Vladimir Putin. [17] [18]

World War 2 in Review

  • "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat." -- Winston Churchill as the new Prime Minister. [19]
  • The USSR sends grain to Germany. Germany would never attack it's food supplier. Would it?
  • The Belgians blow their bridges. [20]
  • German Panzers break through the Maginot Line. [21] [22]
  • Allied troops are pushed back to Dunkirk. 340,000 troops begin evacuation. [23]
  • "We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender..." -- Winston Churchill after the miracle of the Dunkirk rescue. [24]
  • The Germans roll into Paris. [25]
  • "But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour." -- Winston Churchill. [26]
  • The Battle of Britain begins. The Luftwaffe bomb targets in the UK.
  • The US Army mobilizes. Moving things around and stepping up training. (Are we at war?)
  • The Luftwaffe hit a church. Civilian targeting begins.
  • Churchill orders the bombing of Berlin. [27]
  • London is hit hard. 2,000 are dead. This is Hitler's big mistake.
  • "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." -- Winston Churchill, thanking the RAF pilots in the Battle of Britain. [28]
  • The invasion of Britain is delayed indefinitely.
  • The Draft begins in the United States. (I think we are at war!)
  • Germany targets St. Paul's Cathedral.
  • St. Paul's Cathedral is damaged but it still stands.

Notable Births

  • Jim Bakker (Living): A glitzy televangelist convicted of fraud. [29]
  • Nancy Pelosi (Living): Congresswoman and first woman Speaker of the House. (Various snide comments deleted.) [30]
  • And in Entertainment...
  • -- Patrick Stewart (Living): Star Trek's Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Professor Xavier of the X-Men. [31]
  • -- Chuck Norris (Living): Martial arts expert, actor and political conservative. [32]
  • -- Bruce Lee: Martial arts innovator, and actor. [33]
  • -- John Lennon: Musician and songwriter for The Beatles and husband of Yoko Ono. [34]
  • -- Ringo Starr (Living): Drummer for The Beatles and "Mr. Conductor" in Thomas the Tank Engine. [35]
**Note: (Living) means they were alive when I checked.

This Year in Film

  • The Great Dictator: starring Charlie Chaplain. [36]
  • Pinocchio: animated film from Disney Studios. [36]
  • Fantasia: mixed animation-live classical concert from Disney Studios. [36]

This Year in Music

  • In the Mood: (Glenn Miller Band) [37]
  • I'll Never Smile Again: (Tommy Dorsey Band). [37]
  • When You Wish Upon a Star: (From the Disney animated film, Pinocchio.). [37]

In Other News

  • The Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapses. The amazing video remains as a warning to engineers. ([Click here]) [38] [39]
  • The F4U Corsair makes its debut. It has trouble landing on aircraft carriers. (Are we at war?) [40]
  • The first McDonald's opens: It's a BBQ joint. It will switch to burgers later. [41]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1940, Wikipedia.

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