Currently viewing the tag: "war"

Imagine it’s 1942, and you’re a member of Britain’s Royal Air Force. In a skirmish above Germany, your plane was shot out of the sky, and since then you’ve been hunkered down in a Prisoner of War camp. Your officers have told you it’s your duty to escape as soon as you can, but you can’t quite figure out how—you’ve got no tools and no spare rations, and you don’t even know where you are.

One day, though, you’re playing Monopoly with your fellow prisoners when you notice a strange seam in the board. You pry it open—and find a secret compartment with a file inside. In other compartments, other surprises: a compass, a wire saw, and a map, printed on luxurious, easily foldable silk and showing you exactly where you are, and where safety is. You’ve received a package from Christopher Clayton Hutton—which means you’re set to go. –How Millions Of Secret Silk Maps Helped POWs Escape Their Captors in WWII by Cara Giaimo

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story about a POW who escapes.

Journaling Prompt: When you were going through a tough time, what do you wish someone would have given you?

Art Prompt: Silk maps

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about silk maps and POWs during WWII.

Photo Credit: Joe Saunders on Flickr

During World War I (and, to a lesser extent, World War II) the Dolomites saw extremely fierce fighting. The year 1915 had Austro-Hungarian forces taking up strategic positions in the Dolomites to protect themselves from the advancing Italian army, and over the next few years both sides created and relied upon via ferrata as a method of moving through the mountains…

Italians referred to the battles in the Dolomites as il fronte vertical. Soldiers were fighting not only the enemy, but the elements as well: 60,000 World War I soldiers are thought to have died in avalanches in this relatively small mountain range. Temperatures plunged to 40 degrees below freezing for days on end as troops huddled in the mountainside huts and tunnels. –Ladders Through Time: Hiking the Dolomites’ Via Ferratas by Charlie Boscoe

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story in which troops have to improvise  in order to survive.

Journaling Prompt: Write about the toughest hike or climb you ever did.

Art Prompt: Via Ferrata

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the Via Ferrata and its role in WWI.

Photo Credit: Jan on Flickr

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19th and 20th century Germans feared no one more than the Scots-the bagpipes and drums were disturbing in their ? loudness, and add to that the visual spectacle, the fearlessness of rank after rank of men wearing skirts. The Romans also feared the Scott’s in part because of their music. –The World in Six Songs by Daniel Levitin

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story, poem or haiku about fearsome warriors.

Journaling Prompt: Write about what is fearsome to you.

Art Prompt: Fearsome Scots

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the tactics that Scottish warriors used to defend their lands.

Photo Credit: Peaceful Personalities and Warriors Bold on Wikimedia

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Shay, author of “Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character” (Simon & Schuster, 1995), sees moral injury in combat as an issue dating back at least to Homer’s Iliad, the epic poem about the siege of Troy that’s dated to around the eighth century B.C. The poem opens with the commander of the Greek army, Agamemnon, taking a captive woman, Briseis, from the warrior Achilles. Achilles, offended by this betrayal of “what’s right” in Greek military culture, refuses to fight. He withdraws from all but his close companion, Patroclus — until Patroclus is killed and Achilles goes mad with grief, killing Patroclus’ killer Hector and desecrating the corpse.

Achilles’ berserker rage echoes the experiences of the Vietnam War veterans. Shay worked with for 20 years at a Boston VA outpatient clinic. Many saw their ideals crumble in combat. One soldier whose story is retold in “Achilles in Vietnam” describes watching for hours as suspected Vietcong unloaded boats in the South China Sea. Finally, he and his comrades got the order to shoot. They unloaded their weapons into the boats. When daylight came, they learned they’d killed a group of fishermen and children.

To add to the horror, the military leadership assured the soldiers that everything was fine — and then gave them awards for their valor. Shay’s patient got a Combat Infantryman Badge for his participation, an award that is supposed to mark a soldier’s experience of ground combat. The betrayal of getting kudos for killing civilians shook the soldier to his core. –How Old Is PTSD? by Stephanie Pappas

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story where the protagonist suffers a moral injury.

Journaling Prompt: How do you react when you learn that you’ve been tricked into doing something you abhor?

Art Prompt: Moral injury

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the history of PTSD through the ages.

Photo Credit: Achilles Slays Hector by Peter Paul Rubens on Wikimedia

underground-railroad

The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses used by 19th-century enslaved people of African descent in the United States in efforts to escape to free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause. The term is also applied to the abolitionists, both black and white, free and enslaved, who aided the fugitives. Various other routes led to Mexico or overseas. An earlier escape route running south toward Florida, then a Spanish possession, existed from the late 17th century until shortly after the American Revolution. However, the network now generally known as the Underground Railroad was formed in the early 19th century, and reached its height between 1850 and 1860. One estimate suggests that by 1850, 100,000 slaves had escaped via the “Railroad”. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of someone using a secret escape route and the perils he or she encounters.

Journaling Prompt: If you were living in the time of the Underground Railroad, would you help the fleeing slaves? Why or why not?

Art Prompt: Underground Railroad

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the Underground Railroad.

Photo Credit: Kyle J. Schultz on Flickr

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In 2015, Penn Ph.D. candidate Robert Hegwood, a scholar of Japanese/American cultural relations in the mid-20th century, purchased a rather innocuous looking “Scrap Book” at a used book store during a stay in Tokyo. Inside this commercially-produced scrapbook is a collection of postcards, welcome booklets, travel ephemera, and training documents collected by an unidentified Japanese sailor of the Renshu Kantai 練習艦隊, the Japanese Imperial Navy’s Training Fleet, during a 1936 voyage to the United States. From 1903 to 1940, the Renshu Kantai took such training deployment cruises almost every year, with graduates of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy, the Naval Engineering Academy, and the Naval Paymasters Academy spending several months traveling around the Pacific Ocean, occasionally venturing as far as the Mediterranean Sea or the East Coast of the United States. The 1936 cruise (lasting from June 9 to November 3) saw Vice-Admiral Zengo Yoshida commanding the ships Yakumo and Iwate as they sailed across the Pacific Ocean from Yokosuka to Seattle, down along the West Coast and up through the Panama Canal as far as New York City. –Japanese Naval Cruise Books and the Renshu Kantai by Michael P. Williams

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about a character that finds a vintage scrapbook that uncovers a mystery.

Journaling Prompt: How do you save things that you want to remember?

Art Prompt: Vintage Scrapbook
Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the value of keeping memorabilia and how they can easily and inexpensively get started.

Photo Credit: Charlton Clemens on Flickr

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The garrison of the Vellore Fort in July 1806 comprised four companies of British infantry from H.M. 69th (South Lincolnshire) Regiment of Foot and three battalions of Madras infantry: the 1st/1st Madras Native Infantry, the 2nd/1st MNI and the 2nd/23rd MNI.

Two hours after midnight on 10 July, the sepoys in the fort shot down the European sentries and killed fourteen of their own officers and 115 men of the 69th Regiment, most of the latter as they slept in their barracks. Among those killed was Colonel St. John Fancourt, the commander of the fort. The rebels seized control by dawn, and raised the flag of the Mysore Sultanate over the fort. Tipu’s second son Fateh Hyder was declared king.

However, a British officer escaped and alerted the garrison in Arcot. Nine hours after the outbreak of the mutiny, a relief force comprising the British 19th Light Dragoons, galloper guns and a squadron of Madras cavalry, rode from Arcot to Vellore, covering sixteen miles in about two hours. It was led by Sir Rollo Gillespie – one of the most capable and energetic officers in India at that time – who reportedly left Arcot within a quarter of an hour of the alarm being raised. Gillespie dashed ahead of the main force with a single troop of about twenty men.

Arriving at Vellore, Gillespie found the surviving Europeans, about sixty men of the 69th, commanded by NCOs and two assistant surgeons, still holding part of the ramparts but out of ammunition. Unable to gain entry through the defended gate, Gillespie climbed the wall with the aid of a rope and a sergeant’s sash which was lowered to him; and, to gain time, led the 69th in a bayonet-charge along the ramparts. When the rest of the 19th arrived, Gillespie had them blow open the gates with their galloper guns, and made a second charge with the 69th to clear a space inside the entrance to permit the cavalry to deploy. The 19th and the Madras Cavalry then charged and sabred any sepoy who stood in their way. About 100 sepoys who had sought refuge inside the palace were brought out, and by Gillespie’s order, placed against a wall and shot dead. John Blakiston, the engineer who had blown in the gates, recalled: “Even this appalling sight I could look upon, I may almost say, with composure. It was an act of summary justice, and in every respect a most proper one; yet, at this distance of time, I find it a difficult matter to approve the deed, or to account for the feeling under which I then viewed it.”.

The harsh retribution meted out to the sepoys snuffed out the unrest at a stroke and provided the history of the British in India with one of its true epics; for, as Gillespie admitted, with a delay of even five minutes, all would have been lost for the British. In all, nearly 350 of the rebels were killed, and another 350 wounded before the fighting had finished. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story where servants rebel.

Journaling Prompt: How do you feel about the “justice” meted out in this incident? Would you have done anything differently?

Art Prompt: Mutiny

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about Vellore Fort mutiny and the lessons it can teach us today.

Photo Credit: Vellore Fort moat, Tamil Nadu on Wikimedia

wed siege

A siege is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. The term derives from sedere, Latin for “to sit”. Siege warfare is a form of constant, low-intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static defensive position. Consequently, an opportunity for negotiation between combatants is not uncommon, as proximity and fluctuating advantage can encourage diplomacy.

A siege occurs when an attacker encounters a city or fortress that cannot be easily taken by a coup de main and refuses to surrender. Sieges involve surrounding the target and blocking the reinforcement or escape of troops or provision of supplies (a tactic known as “investment”, typically coupled with attempts to reduce the fortifications by means of siege engines, artillery bombardment, mining (also known as sapping), or the use of deception or treachery to bypass defences. Failing a military outcome, sieges can often be decided by starvation, thirst, or disease, which can afflict either the attacker or defender. This form of siege, though, can take many months or even years, depending upon the size of the stores of food the fortified position holds. During the process of circumvallation, the attacking force can be set upon by another force of enemies due to the lengthy amount of time required to starve a position. A defensive ring of forts outside the ring of circumvallated forts, called contravallation, is also sometimes used to defend the attackers from outside…

With the advent of mobile warfare, a single fortified stronghold is no longer as decisive as it once was. While traditional sieges do still occur, they are not as common as they once were due to changes in modes of battle, principally the ease by which huge volumes of destructive power can be directed onto a static target. Modern sieges are more commonly the result of smaller hostage, militant, or extreme resisting arrest situations.
Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story that is set during a siege.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a time when you felt under siege.

Art Prompt: Siege

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience the story of an historical siege.

Photo Credit: Paul K on Flickr

VemorkHydroelectricPlant Monday

On the night of February 27-28, 1942, everything is ready for Operation Gunnerside. Nine of the saboteurs are led by a 23-year-old named Joachim Ronneberg, who had no military experience except for what he had learned in England. The first thing they have to figure out is how to attack the place. They have three options: they can come down from the mountains above the plant, which is littered with minefields; they can cross the single-lane suspension bridge, which is closely guarded; or they can descend to the bottom of the valley across a half-frozen river and climb a 500-foot-high cliff. They decide to climb the cliff, in the middle of the night, in the middle of winter!

Thanks to Tronstad’s planning and intelligence gathering, they knew every block, stairwell, and entry point. As a result, they were able to infiltrate the plant without an alarm, set the explosives, and blow it up. General Falkenhorst, head of German forces in Norway, called it a “brilliant coup.” –Inside the Daring Mission that Thwarted a Nazi Nuclear Bomb by Neal Bascomb

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of a small attack force that changes the course of a war.

Journaling Prompt: How do you feel about war reporting?

Art Prompt: Strike force

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience the story of Operation Gunnerside.

Photo Credit: Vemork Hydroelectric Plant on Wikimedia

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During World War II, the USO became the G.I.’s “home away from home” and began a tradition of entertaining the troops that continues today. Involvement in the USO was one of the many ways in which the nation had come together to support the war effort, with nearly 1.5 million Americans having volunteered their services in some way. After it was disbanded in 1947, it was revived in 1950 for the Korean War, after which it also provided peacetime services. During the Vietnam War, USOs were sometimes located in combat zones.

The organization became particularly famous for its live performances called Camp Shows, through which the entertainment industry helped boost the morale of its servicemen and women. Hollywood in general was eager to show its patriotism, and many famous celebrities joined the ranks of USO entertainers. They entertained in military bases at home and overseas, sometimes placing their own lives in danger, by traveling or performing under hazardous conditions. –Wikipedia


Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about a performer at a U.S.O. show.

Journaling Prompt: How do you support your country’s troops?

Art Prompt: U.S.O.

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the U.S.O.’s history.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia