From a pedant

I freely admit that I am a pedant.  I also acknowledge that language evolves. But I am becoming increasingly annoyed about the wrongful use of the word “multiple”.

I hear it all the time nowadays.  The latest was on the BBC news “multiple people have been shot…”

I believe they mean “many”, or “several”, or “some” or “a number of” or even “lots of”.  Multiple people by definition means people composed of several components, which I guess means all of us.  It is not any form of quantitative evaluation.

If we could please revert to the real meaning of “multiple”, as in “six is a multiple of two and three”, maybe we could also dispense with the horrid dumbing down phrase of “timesed by” rather than the correct “multiplied by”.

Of course, three times two equals six, and three multiplied by two equals six, but “timesed by” makes no sense whatsoever.  I cannot find any definition of the word “timesed” except in the plebian “Wiktionary”, compiled by contributors of no officially recognised knowledge of the subject matter.

 

 

“Silent” fireworks

During the last week we in the UK have been suffering from an overdose of fireworks displays, both organised and impromptu.

As soon as fireworks appear in the shops, people seem to find the need to set them off at all hours of the night.

Traditionally “Bonfire night” was 5th November, when we remembered the dismembering of the catholic plotter against King James I,  Guido Fawkes, by burning his effigy on a bonfire, accompanied by fireworks.  All good, harmless, anti-catholic, anglican fun – hmm?!

As I remember, the fireworks were generally from a selection box, including a couple of rockets, launched from old milk bottles, that went “whoooosh!” and then fizzled out, a “volcano” that produced multi-coloured sparks,  a “rik-rak” or “jumping jack” banger (highly unpredictable) and a catherine wheel (remembering  yet another martyred catholic) which refused to spin unless prompted and occasionally gave a feeble whistle.

Nowadays it seems that the firework season starts as soon as the fireworks are available in the shops, sometime before halowe’en, and continues off and on until New Year.  Fireworks are now apparently confined to the status of multiple barrelled mortars with charges that explode spectacularly and noisily to the unnecessary annoyance of neighbours and their pets.

This year we witnessed a new phenomenon – fireworks without bangs.  Someone in our road managed to hold, a week before the normal date, an almost silent display.  Wonderful!   Unfortunately another neighbour compensated by letting off a ridiculously loud series of bangs at 12:45 a.m.

As the best friend of a dog who has spent the last three evenings quivering in the bathroom, can I please ask folks to adopt the silent variety?

Please?  Pretty Please?

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Incidentally, under UK law, when I had a licensed gunpowder store for 30Kg of black powder, I was not allowed to purchase a single firework if my store was full because it would infringe the terms of my license,  but anyone over 18 with no license could buy unlimited amounts of fireworks with no regulation whatsoever.

Considering the cost of application,  building work and further police checks needed for my powder store, I found this more than a little annoying.

 

 

Things ain’t like they used to was.

I am very disappointed with the quality of products nowadays. The latest to land on my disapproval list is Swan Vestas matches.

Apart from reducing the sandpaper from both sides of the box to one only, the company has also developed a detachable match head that flies off in preference to actually catching fire.

After trying to light my pipe this evening, here are the remnants of the vestas.

The pipe is still not lit.  I will try again with cooks’ matches.

Meanwhile I have five new pieces of 1/300 scale timber. 🙂

And, by the way, nostalgia isn’t as much fun as it used to be.

More organisation

Recently I have been trying to organise my wargaming clutter.  Today it was the turn of the “Pirates” game which, as yet, remains unplayed.

I spotted this game in a newsagents on my day off from a week long re-enactment performance at Mont Orgueil, Jersey, and snapped it up.  Last March, at the Donald Featherstone memorial weekend dinner, I was able to quadruple my collection in the after-dinner auction run by Henry Hyde in aid of Combat Stress.

Today I organised the collection and added playing the game to my “to do” pile.

The completed ships are in the ice cream box pro tem.   Tokens and small parts are in my favoured plastic playing card boxes.  The original tin now contains rules for the various games, unbuilt ships and several unopened game packs.

Now I need to get another “Really Useful Box” to store the lot.

Arnhem-Oosterbeek Road, 18th September 1944

Battle Report

Arnhem-Oosterbeek, 18th Sept 1944, starting at 08:00.

Three Companies of 10th Parachute Battalion from 4th Parachute Brigade, advancing from the Oosterbeek area towards Arnhem, encountered a blocking line consisting of three companies of 2nd Panzer Grenadier Battalion, 9th SS Panzer Regiment and two companies of 9th SS Armoured Reconnaissance Battalion.

The Panzer Grenadiers were astride the main road, while the railway line was blocked by a company of obsolete French S-35 tanks “liberated” during the retreat from Normandy.  To the rear was Hauptsturmführer Gräbner’s HQ, including his captured Humber armoured car.

The Para’s deployed and halted, calling for reinforcements from 1st Airlanding Brigade, holding the drop zones to their rear.  Pushing on to Arnhem was paramount, but they had insufficient strength on their own.

German deployment, viewed from the East

Gräbner assessed the situation and also called for support from 3rd Panzer Grenadier Battalion, holding the Rhine railway bridge to his left.  At the same time he ordered the tanks to probe forwards.

Luckily for the paratroopers, they had a troop of 17pr Anti-tank guns in tow, which deployed  and made short work of two platoons of S-35s.  The third platoon was caught by a mortar “stonk”, which put them out of action too.

So much for the tanks! The ciows seem undisturbed by the noise.

10th Parachute Battalion deployed their 3rd company, with Vickers MG support, to their right to guard the railway line.  The intention was to use the support weapons to keep the enemy’s heads down until reinforcements arrived.

The Germans had no intention of letting that happen, so one rifle company was moved to the top of the low hill to their left flank.  Opening fire on the British before they could deploy the Vickers guns, they forced them away from the railway line.

However this forward move put the German company within range of the British mortar platoon, which swiftly retaliated.

“That’ll teach you to stand on top of a hill in a battle.”

The remains of the company moved down to the road to take some shelter in the trees that lined it.  A second company, with a MG platoon, advanced to the railway crossing near their centre.

By now the British had established their own machine guns and fired at the company in the roadside trees, causing some damage.  But this success was short-lived, for just after 08:30 two companies of 3rd Panzer Grenadier Battalion arrived across the railway bridge to the British right flank.

The British mortars fired again at the enemy sheltering beside the road and put the last platoon out of action.  Things were going well for the Para’s, if it were not for this new threat from the south.  But where the hell were the glider boys?

German reinforcements swarm across the bridge

The two newly-arrived German companies used their machine guns to great effect against the enemy machine gunners.  The parachute company fell apart.

The Germans were now able to advance and deploy, allowing two more reinforcing companies across the bridge.

It was now 09:00.  Three companies of the 2nd Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment arrived on the northern road (British left flank).

Gräbner took control of the situation.  Spotting that the advancing British could outflank his position and march on into Arnhem, he ordered the 3rd Panzer Grenadiers to take over blocking the left flank while he shifted the two companies of the 2nd Battalion to the right, including the mortar platoon which was in the farmyard.  He moved his own HQ swiftly to block the roadway on his right flank.  Although unable to take serious offensive action he hoped this might delay the enemy long enough for 2nd Battalion to get to grips.  He also called Division HQ for support.

While the South Staffs. made their best speed along the road a company of 7th King’s Own Scottish Borderers (KOSBs) arrived along the Utrecht railway line in the British centre.   A few minutes later a second company of KOSBs arrived.

Under fire from the Germans moving to block them, the follow-up companies of the South Staffs abandoned the road and moved up the hill into the heavily wooded area.  

The mortar platoon of 10 Para shelled the nearest Germans in support of the KOSBs.

At 09:30 three batteries of 10th Panzer Division field artillery in Arnhem were released to Gräbner for support.  Spotting for them from his armoured car he was able to halt the South Staffs.  The whole battalion made for the woods, but continued to advance slowly around the German right flank.

They now received the attention of the German mortars, but only a few casualties were suffered.

Effective artillery and mortar fire strikes the South Staff’s.

10 Para, on the right flank, now attacked the 3rd Battalion Panzer Grenadiers

In support of the the lead Company of 7 KOSB, who swung right and took the road toward the now abandoned farm, reaching the eastern level crossing.

3rd Bn Panzer Grenadiers retaliated against 10 Para with concentrated MG and rifle fire and the Para’s gave up after severe casualties.

Two companies of South Staffs. advanced to the edge of the woods, from where they opened fire on the German HQ.  No serious damage was inflicted, but Gräbner pulled back 250 yards.

On the German side 2nd Battalion continued to attack the enemy in the woods, while a company of 3rd Battalion raced to cut off the advance of the KOSBs.

They were too late as the determined glider troops beat them to the farm.

A second company of KOSBs advanced to attack the intercepting Germans.

One company of South Staffs managed to get past the Germans and moved on towards Arnhem.

Shortly after 10:00 a second artillery barrage drove the remaining South Staffordshires back into the woods with further casualties.

As the lead KOSB company continued to advance down the main road Gräbner realised that he was outflanked and pulled the rest of 2nd Battalion back to form another blocking line further east.

3rd Battalion dug in to defend the rail bridge from further attack from the north side.  Firing could now be heard from the south bank of the Rhine, but that is another story.

Total losses during this engagement (killed, wounded and missing)

Germans: 27%, British 33%

The cost had been high, but the British were one step closer to relieving their friends on the road bridge.