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Ltmurnau
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Thanks for the Laurie Anderson bit! When I saw the reference to parachutes, I thought about her other piece "Finnish Farmers": "During WWII, the Russians were testing their parachutes. Sometimes they didn’t open at all and a lot of troops were lost this way. During the invasion of Finland, hundreds of troops were dropped during the middle of winter. As usual, some of the chutes didn’t open and the troops fell straight down into the deep snow, drilling holes fifteen feet deep. The Finnish farmers would then get out their shotguns, walk out into their fields, find the holes, and fire down them."
From the close-up and the knowledge that they are Canadians, I can say that these soldiers are prbably cavalry troopers from the Royal Canadian Dragoons, a unit that still exists in the Canadian Army today: http://regimentalrogue.com/battlehonours/bathnrimages/rcd_badge.jpg
This reminds me of Geoffrey Pyke and his scheme for "Habbakuk", the huge floating aircraft carriers made of ice and wood pulp that were to have been stationed in the middle of the Atlantic to provide air cover to convoys during World War 2. Somehow he caught the ear and eye of Mountbatten, so the scheme went pretty far.
There's actually quite a long history of soldier using bicycles: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_infantry The Swiss Army had a Bicycle Regiment until 2001. However, I agree, as soon as one got anywhere near contact with the enemy the bicycles would be cast aside. Meanwhile, they are a good way to get around and carry a fiar amount of extra gear (though the bicycles the porters used in the famous Dien Bien Phu photgraphs were modified to carry up to 400 pounds of stuff, yet could not be ridden - a sort of better subsitute for a wheelbarrow, a contrivance invented by Chinese armies long ago to carry supplies around).
I have been checking this site almost every day for months now, and I want to tell you how fascinating it is - never boring, and always thoughtful. I'd post this same message every week, but I think you get the idea! Thanks so much for your site.
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Dec 9, 2010