Saturday, July 19, 2014

GW | Gen. Braddock, Mentor (Updated April 22, 2018)

The road to Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh) had to be hacked out
through a frequently thick and treacherous forest.
George Washington was loyally by his side when his mentor died, unpopular Scottish General Edward Braddock.

William Pitt the Elder (the first Earl of Chatham) is often given the main credit for clearing the French out of the colonies. Fair enough, because he championed troops' being sent over for this purpose.

Pitt understood that George III was foolishly obsessed with a sideshow in Europe while much greater opportunities for future gain awaited in the British colonies.

But Pitt himself never set foot in the colonies. The dirty work was done by teamwork between leaders that emerged in the colonies, and the troops and officers that were sent over by King George III

General Braddock

One of the high-level officers sent over from England was General Braddock. Born in 1695 in Perthshire (north of Edinburgh), Scotland, Edward Braddock was the son of a general. At 15, he joined up in Coldstream (south of Edinburgh), Scotland with the military unit that was the antecedent of the Coldstream Guards. He reached the rank of lieutenant colonel and in 1774 served under the Prince of Orange in Holland. After seven years' service and friendship to King George III, he became a major general.

In February of 1755, he arrived in Virginia to join forces with the English generals there bent on taking Fort Duquesne back from the French. General Braddock hacked through the woods to bring his army from Cumberland, Maryland, to what is now called Pittsburgh but was then Fort Duquesne, in the hands of the French and some allied Indians.

The story is told that Col. George Washington advised Gen. Edward Braddock to disperse his superior army and fight behind trees as the Indians did. It is an odd story, because Braddock was a Scotsman and if anyone knew how to engage the enemy in what the Scots called "a secret war" (guerrilla warfare), they did. Kings Edward I and Edward II had a similar problem with the Scottish rebels. They refused to come out and fight, but attacked in unexpected ways at unexpected times. The British troops on their way to Fort Duquesne were walking into an ambush.

But Braddock was reportedly firm believer in the British army mode of fighting, disciplined and in the open.

When Braddock's troops crossed the Monongahela River, they faced troops that didn't stand in formation waiting for them, but hid behind trees, the standard Scottish "secret war" response to invasion. Braddock's ranks, hostile to their arrogant British commander, broke in confusion. Two hours later, Braddock had lost two-thirds of his 2,000 troops at the hands of a much smaller force. One-third of Braddock's men were dead, one-third were wounded and the rest were demoralized and hostile to Braddock. His only remaining aide was Col. George Washington, who carried Braddock back to camp after the general had been fatally wounded. Braddock had a reputation of being bad-tempered; he was resentful of the poor training and equipment of the American troops.

Benjamin Franklin says of Braddock:
This general was, I think, a brave man, and might probably have made a figure as a good officer in some European war. But he had too much self-confidence, too high an opinion of the validity of regular troops, and too mean a one of both Americans and Indians.
He records an exchange between him and Braddock:
I ventured only to say, "...The only danger I apprehend of obstruction to your march is from ambuscades of Indians, who, by constant practice, are dexterous in laying and executing them. ... "  He smiled at my ignorance, and replied, "These savages may, indeed, be a formidable enemy to your raw American militia, but upon the King's regular and disciplined troops, sir, it is impossible they should make any impression." Source: Kennedy, Bailey, & Bailey, The American Spirit: United States History As Seen by Contemporaries, Vol. 1, Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2010, p. 110.
Braddock rode four different horses that were shot out from under him. Finally, on his fifth horse, he sustained a bullet that went through his chest and hit one of his lungs. He died four days later, on July 13, 1755.

Comment (updated April 22, 2018)

The long Wikipedia entry on Braddock notes, in defense of the general, that Braddock was not ambushed and in fact took careful steps to make sure that he was not. It also notes that Braddock was promised more resources than he was delivered by the colonial governments. The Wikipedia entry does not emphasize Braddock's unpopularity but does note the respect that Washington had for his former commanding officer for the rest of his life, and the pride he took in the sash that Braddock handed on to his rescuing colonel on his deathbed.

Washington continued to wear the piece of clothing decades later, after the American Revolutionary War was won. It is in in several paintings of him.

Washington's veneration of his unpopular commanding officer says something important, I think, about the character of our first President.


Hacked His Way Through the Forest: Russell Shorto, "Into a New Land", The New York Times, Travel Section, July 19, 2014, p. 1.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

VETS 6 | Monuments to 14 Downed Airmen

L to R: John Ellyatt, John Tepper Marlin and Cpl. Pamela Turney,
pointing  to the crew members to whom they are related.
A fine new monument was unveiled on the 70th Anniversary of the downing of the MZ 684 Halifax bomber, at Entrammes, near Laval, Mayenne, France.

Three of the seven crew members were represented by their families at the unveiling: John Ellyatt's son John Ellyatt, Willem van Stockum's nephew John Tepper Marlin and Fred Beales's great-niece Cpl. Pamela Turney.

In 2011, four of the seven crew members were represented by family at the Vaufleury Cemetery. The additional family member was Robin  Sumner (nephew of Gilbert Daniel).

The seven crew members listed on the monument are:
Flying Officer Willem Jacob Van Stockum, Pilot (hero of Time Bombersee below)
Flying Officer John Ellyatt, Flight Engineer
Flying Officer Gilbert Daniel, Navigator
Flying Officer Robert Keith Marshall, Bomb Aimer
Sergeant Alfred Charles Perkins, Wireless Operator AG
Pilot Officer Fred Beales RCAF, Upper Gunner
Sergeant Albert Mason, Rear Gunner

Top photo shows two of the relatives of the crew of the MZ 684, JT Marlin (your
blogger), nephew of Willem van Stockum, and Pamela Turney, great-niece of Fred
Beales. The newly unveiled monument to the 70-year-old crash is in Entrammes.
Two monuments were unveiled on June 10 in memory of the two planes downed that early morning on a mission in the Laval area.

One was at a pear farm in Entrammes, Mayenne. It was dedicated to the MZ 684 Halifax bomber and its crew. The pilot was Willem J. van Stockum, my uncle.

The other was at Saint-Berthevin, dedicated to the MZ 532 Halifax bomber and its crew.


Uncle Willem was the person who brought my parents together. He roomed with my father at Trinity College, Dublin in 1929-32. When my father discovered that Willem had a sister, he set about wooing her.

They were married in 1932, had their first child in 1934 (my sister Olga will be 80 this year), and ten years after they were married they got me (#5 out of 6 children).

When Uncle Willem died in 1944, a light went out in the lives of my parents. It was unspeakably tragic for them and for my Granny who lived with us.

"Time Bomber", by Robert
Wack, centered on the life
of W. J. van Stockum.
When we came to visit the graves in 1954, the 13 RAF-administered British and Commonwealth graves had tombstones. My uncle's grave just had a simple wooden cross. I remember my mother burst into tears because she couldn't understand why her brother was singled out for not having a tombstone. It turns out it was because Willem was still a Dutch citizen (he was seconded from the Royal Canadian Air Force but he had been working in the United States on what is now called a "green card" and had applied for American citizenship). The Dutch Government had asked my mother what she wanted to have on the tombstone and she said: "Greater love hath no man..." The tombstone arrived in due course, but my mother never came back to see it. My brother Randal and I have been back several times. The Dutch tombstone is very impressive, but it does not have on it the epitaph that my mother requested.

On the other hand, my uncle is the only one so far of the 14 members of the crew to have a book written about him - Time Bomber, written by a U.S. Army Major and pediatrician, Dr. Robert Wack. I recommend the book for three groups of people: (1) those interested in the European theater of World War II, (2) those interested in the scientists who have examined time travel, and (3) those who are interested in the motivation and challenges of a soldier's and airman's life.  The story is based mainly on factual material about my uncle and the life he led until it was ended. The additional elements that have been added to the story, what we could call the sci-fi meta-story, make several important points that are hard to discuss any other way.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

R.I.P. | Michael Intriligator, Peace and Security Strategist

Michael Intriligator
I was greatly saddened to hear today of the recent death from cancer of Prof. Michael Intriligator of UCLA. I got to know Mike on a November 1990 visit to Moscow and other Russian cities during a two-week business mission and conference on military conversion in the newly opened-up Soviet Union.

The event was co-sponsored by the Council on Economic Priorities and the Moscow-based Institute of World Economy and International Affairs (IMEMO). One of the questions before the conference was whether what was left of the Soviet Union would allow economy-wide market forces to do the job of converting military resources to civilian ones (guns to butter) or whether it would be done "narrowly", factory by factory, based on instructions from above.

While Sovietologists (themselves a soon-to-be-extinct species) were debating the latter idea, the former took place. Workers couldn't wait for a government conversion program. In the interim they weren't being paid. So in many cases they took with them what they could carry from the factories in lieu of payment, and they tried to create new businesses or work for someone else who was starting up a new entity.

Mike made his academic reputation early on in mathematical economics and econometrics, and was able to divide his time between writing and editing quantitative-oriented handbooks, which came easily to him, and international policy research which I had the feeling became his major passion later in life.

UCLA's announcement of Mike's death. He has been at
UCLA since 1963.
He wanted to contribute to peace–a realistic peace that recognized the existence of rogues and rogue states and rogue alliances.

When Mike joined our conference on conversion he was Director of the Center of International and Strategic Studies.

He was proud of having academic appointments in both the Economics and Political Science Departments at UCLA. (Later, he added a third, Public Policy.)

His biographical listings feature several contributions he made to furthering "Global Security After the End of the Cold War," the title of his Presidential Address to the Peace Science Society in 1994.

He also wrote about health policy and back in 1993 favored expansion of Medicare - the single-payer system that looks even better from the vantage point of 2014 than it did a quarter-century ago. He was frequently invited to serve as an expert witness on health economic issues for two decades.

Mike Intriligator (L) and President Jimmy Carter.
He received his Ph.D. in Economics from MIT after receiving an M.A. from Yale, where he was the recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Fellowship..

His earliest work involved the development of models and analytic frameworks using economics, decision theory, control theory and other tools to analyze and better understand fundamental economic and societal problems.  He wrote the standard work on Mathematical Optimization and Economic Theory (1971), now in its 13th printing.

His later work shifted toward identifying real policy options in the areas of health care reform and global security. He was concerned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and this led him to share the conference interest in strategies for a transition from a militaristic economy in Russia to one that would cater more to consumers. Mike was interested in how conversion would affect income distribution and enterprise restructuring, and he was interested in the role of institutions in converting from a dirigiste to a market economy.

A member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies, he has tackled the thorniest geopolitical issues, such as arms races, arms control, nuclear proliferation, accidental nuclear war, and paths toward global security.

He has testified before the U.S. Commission on Improving the Effectiveness of the United Nations and served as a consultant to the Center for National Security Studies at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and other organizations.
Mike at an ECAAR panel, AEA
meetings 1995. Photo by JT Marlin.

From 1982 to 1992, he directed the UCLA Center for International and Strategic Affairs. A member of the editorial boards of Economic Directions, Defense and Peace Economics and Conflict Management and Peace Science, he wrote or edited more than 200 professional and general articles and scholarly texts.

A fellow of the Econometric Society, Intriligator was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and a foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

After we returned from the conversion conference in Moscow, Mike and I served together for many years as officers and members of the Executive Committee of Economists Allied for Arms Reduction (ECAAR). For the next decade he was Vice Chairman and I was Treasurer, the second Treasurer in ECAAR's history because the founder, Robert Schwartz, put himself from the beginning in the Treasurer position.

Mike was always eager to help with projects and fund-raising, the latter being a rarer offering among volunteers. He could always be counted on to review documents before publication and he invariably provided needed and useful comments. During all the years we worked together at ECAAR he went out of his way to show respect for other people (everyone had a seat at the table) and he called anyone out who appeared to be deviating from this principle.

His obituary has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, where a Guest Book may be signed. Mike used to talk, with justifiable pride, of his wife Devrie, a well-known space physicist, and their four sons - Kenneth (married to Gina), a professor of Physics at UCSD; James (married to Susanne), a professor of Psychology and Innovation at Bangor University in the UK; William (married to Lisa), a symphony orchestra conductor and director in Dubuque, Iowa and Cheyenne, Wyo.; Robert, a Los Angeles composer of music; and nine grandchildren. His brother, Marc Intriligator (married to Roxann) is a New York real estate lawyer.

Mike's family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the American Cancer Society or to the Michael D. Intriligator Memorial Fund at Economists for Peace and Security, Levy Institute, Box 5000, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504 (to make an online donation go to this link).

RAF PILOT | W. J. van Stockum's Last Letter Home, June 7, 1944

RAF Pilot Willem J. van
Stockum in uniform.
June 7, 1944

[RAF 10th Bomber Squadron, Melbourne, Yorkshire, England.]

Dear Mother,

I am curious to know whether you have noted the date of my last letter. I cannot tell you how great the satisfaction was to be one of those who dropped the first bombs during the Normandy invasion.

Officially we did not know it was to start on June 5 [the planes providing D-Day support would have taken off from England before midnight], but the instructions we got, the mysterious doings, our route and what we could expect while under way, made us fairly sure that this was The Day.

Crew of the Halifax MZ 684 probably in early June 1944.
Back row: R. K. Marshall, A. Mason, G. Daniel, F. Beales.
Front row: A. C. Perkins, W. J. Van Stockum, J. Ellyatt.
(Photo is not of the same crew that flew on June 10.)
We did our job in difficult circumstances, although there was not much resistance from the targets.

I am free tonight and am glad of it, for the pressure is intense and we have not had a moment’s rest in the past few days. Each of our missions requires hours of preparation. The flight operation itself takes six hours and after that there are debriefings etc. Then a meal, to bed, sleep, and again preparations.

Of course we did not know beforehand that it would be rather easy. The strain on the nerves is a real thing–it makes your breathing go faster. It will not be so easy in future, as the Germans get more information.

But I would not want to miss this time for anything, and I am very thankful that I resisted the temptation to go to the other station, where Bierens de Haanals is, for then I would now be between two squadrons and perhaps have missed all this.

My crew is perfect–calm, matter of fact, and one cannot find among them any signs of being nervous. I sometimes have the feeling I am the only one who is–but perhaps they think the same thing of me.

I feel everyone here is experiencing a great upsurge in morale. The B.B. (Body Building) programs are better and more imaginative. The whole station comes to see us off with their thumbs up in the air and this is a pleasant experience.

I know you and Hilda must be feeling the same way and understand how wonderful it is, so invigorating.

May 2011. Families of five of the seven crew members on the Halifax MZ 684
were represented at the Vaufleury Cemetery in Laval. Willem's tombstone
is round at top, from the Dutch Government.
[Page ends. Possibly the hand-written pages that constituted the “Soldier’s Creed”, which is reprinted at the end of Time Bomber,  followed the fragment and were removed. The following concluding fragment was nearby in the folder of Dutch letters left behind by my mother, Willem's brother. The translator from the Dutch thought it “not very probable” that it is the end of the same letter, but it might be.]

My roommate is a Belgian pilot aged 40 who doesn’t speak English. I spend much of my time with him, which is very good for my French. If only you could hear all the fantastic stories people tell here, more interesting than the most terrifying spy thriller!! My friend came here a few months ago and was in the Resistance in Belgium.

Did I write you that in London I saw Aunt Mia quite often? We sympathized with each other about our tastes in literature. We talked about Dostoyevsky and she told me you had written such a wonderful article about him. How nice there are people who remember this article. I would like to see it some time. I long to read it.

Very, very much love from your son,


[Note: His plane, the Halifax MZ 684, was shot down on June 10, 1944. The crew is buried in the Laval Valfleury Cemetery and a monument to them was erected on June 10, 2014 in Entrammes, near Laval. The letter above was written in Dutch, as Willem wrote in Dutch to his mother, Olga Emily Boissevain van Stockum, and in English to his sister, Hilda van Stockum. The letter was translated in 2003 as a favor for me by the late Dr. Engelien de Booy, cousin of HvS and daughter of Hilda Boissevain de Booy. Olga and Hilda Boissevain were very close–the two middle sisters of six. Before they had children, they promised each other they would name their first daughter after the other, and they did so. This seems to be the last letter Willem wrote home. The letter went to Washington, D.C. where Willem’s mother and sister lived. Willem’s praise for the courage of the crew will be fully appreciated by the relatives of the crew members. Five of the seven crew members on the MZ 684 participated in a family reunion in Laval in 2011. See and click on Willem_van_Stockum - JTM]

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Omaha Beach, 70 Years Later

Rex and Deborah Henderson at the Omaha Beach Cemetery
 in Normandy, where 9,000 American soldiers are buried.
This and other photos in this post by JT Marlin.
Alice and I visited Omaha Beach last month. I am still sorting through all my notes and photos. Every American should visit Omaha Beach, where so many young American soldiers are buried. More lie there than still survive World War II.

I have posted about our visit to the grave of my uncle Dr. Willem van Stockum, a mathematician who piloted a Halifax bomber with the serial number MZ 684 and is buried with the other six members of the crew near Laval, Department of Mayenne,  France.
The story of van Stockum is told in a largely biographical novel (with a memorable and pertinent sci-fi add-on), Time Bomber, by Dr. Robert Wack, a pediatrician in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. He discovered van Stockum through his twin interests in D-Day and time travel.
This year for the first time (I have visited my uncle's grave site twice before, in 1954 and 2011), I met Dr. Thomas Rex Henderson, son of the pilot of the other Halifax, serial number MZ 532, that was shot down in the early morning of June 10, 1944.

During the two days prior to the reunion of the families of the two crews in Laval, we had the great privilege of traveling with Rex, an Australia pediatrician, and his wife Deborah, a cancer researcher, on a visit to Normandy. We went up via Bayeux and Caen to Honfleur, then returned to Omaha Beach the next day, June 7, when the traffic had eased up slightly around the site of D-Day, the day after its 70th Anniversary.

Operation Overlord. This is the view, portrayed on the wall of
 the memorial at the American Cemetery, of Normandy looking
 south, from the vantage point of the Allies. Omaha Beach
 is in the middle. 
Rex, by the way, was included in the 2012 Queen's Honours list. (He didn't mention it, but I found it from Garrulous Grandma Google.) He was added to membership in the Order of Australia for his pediatric and neonatal care in rural Western Australian. Rex's father's pilot gene continued into the next generation, as Rex has visited his patients mostly via private plane.

The D-Day story has been told often in books and on film. Rick Atkinson's book, The Guns at Last Light has been made into a grade-school reader, D-Day, which I have recommended as a quick source of data on the Normandy landing.

In the diagram posted at the memorial by the American Cemetery showing the deployment of the 1st U.S. Army, the arrows with stars on them represent three U.S. army divisions, two of them (1st and 29th Infantry) targeting Omaha Beach and one (4th Infantry) targeting Utah Beach to the right (west) of it.

The United States was given two western beaches to attack because supplies were coming directly from the United States and it was important to capture Cherbourg and ports in Brittany quickly to deliver supplies for the large numbers of troops who were landing. The 101st and 82nd Airborne landed paratroopers on both sides of Sainte-Mère-Église, and this was the first target that the Allies  captured in Normandy.

The huge force of Americans attacking Omaha Beach sustained the most casualties because, among other problems including terrible weather,  (1) after landing, U.S. soldiers had to climb a steep hill from the beach and (2) the gun emplacements at the top were not disabled by bombers as planned.
This view of Omaha Beach is from the vantage point of Nazi
 gun emplacements. The guns were supposed to have been
disabled by U.S. bombers, but were not.

We were told by someone at the American Cemetery that the bombardiers assigned to take out the Nazi gun bunkers delayed too long in unloading their bombs for fear of killing G.I.s that were landing. As a result, the gunners atop the hill were able to mow down the American soldiers as they traversed the beach and tried to come up the hill.

The three beaches to the left of Omaha Beach had easier terrain and less resistance and were captured with fewer casualties by the 2nd British Army, made up of two British infantry divisions attacking Gold and Sword beaches and a Canadian infantry division in the middle attacking Juno beach.

The German armies were commanded by Dollman and Rommel.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Veterans' Unemployment Down in June

Veterans' unemployment continued to decline in June, to
5.4 percent from 6.3 percent in June 2013.  Reasons could
include better economy, or retirement, or job-search
Veterans' unemployment has declined over all to 5.4 percent in June 2014 from 6.3 percent in the same month a year earlier, according to the latest report this morning (a day early because of the Independence Day holiday).

This is a significant drop from the 7.0 percent unemployment reported in 2012.

Unemployment among female veterans, 7.5 percent, is higher than among male veterans, 5.1 percent.

Unemployment among female veterans also declined by less, only 0.1 percentage point (from 7.6 percent in June 2013), compared with 1.0 percentage point for male veterans (from 6.1 percent).

There were 10.04 million employed veterans in June 2014, of which 8.77 million were males and 1.27 million were females.

A substantially higher percentage of female veterans to the population were working, 56.5 percent, than male veterans, 46.3 percent.

Employment among veterans of Gulf War Eras I and II has risen during the last year. At the same time, veterans of the Vietnam War, Korean War and World War II eras are dropping out of the labor force and are no longer looking for work (and are therefore not counted as unemployed).

My own estimate, based on 2012 veteran mortality data, is that of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, only about 8,000 (one out of 2,000) are expected to survive the year 2014.