Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Immortals

Robert Gould Shaw Memorial
National Gallery
Men are haunted by the vastness of eternity. And so we ask ourselves: will our actions echo across the centuries? Will strangers hear our names long after we are gone, and wonder who we were, how bravely we fought, how fiercely we loved? - Odysseus (Movie "Troy" 2004)
While not an actual, historical quote, the sentiment rings true. While only a few names come down to us through the centuries (mostly generals, who remembers the folks who actually do the fighting, killing and dying?) there are some things remembered through the long dusty centuries.

The phalanx of Philip and Alexander's days. Xenophon's 10,000.

Yes, we also remember the names of Hector and Achilles. Whether they were actual historical personages or not. Someone must have inspired Homer to write his tale of battle and grief, and heroic death.

Who can forget the Minutemen of Lexington and Concord?

Napoleon's Imperial Guard? The Royal Highland Regiment (otherwise known as The Black Watch)?

The Stonewall Brigade? The Iron Brigade?

Some of you are perhaps scratching your heads already, others are perhaps nodding their heads and saying "Yeah, I remember those guys." And in the same breath perhaps asking "What about [insert your favorite unit here]?"

For the military historian there is much that can be argued about in the realm of warfare, and the men (and now women) who fight those wars. But one thing which an honest historian will tell you, there are those military organizations who's fame, for one reason or another, rings true down through the years. The names of those who fought in those units may or may not be remembered. But the names of the units themselves will never be forgotten.

This new series of mine was inspired by the Ex-Bootneck over at The Mellow Jihadi when I read this post of his.

For those who don't know what a "bootneck" is, I give you the following:

Bootneck - A term deriving its origins from the leather 'stock' worn round the neck inside the collar by soldiers. Sailors goaded Marines by saying "Take my sea boots off your neck”, implying that a piece had been cut from his boots to serve as a stock. The expression is now used widely to mean a Royal Marine. (Source) 
Good lads to have with you in a firefight!
And while I'm on the topic, the Gurkhas are one of my favorite military units.

Also some lads you want on your side!
So that's where we're headed, a new series titled "The Immortals". This will be a look at some of military history's best units. This will include those army, naval, marine and air force units throughout the centuries who have left their mark upon history. Of whom old soldiers will speak when the night is late and the fire has burned low.

Their fame will endure forever, hence the title.

Scotland Forever!
The Scots Greys at Waterloo
The 42nd Regiment of Foot at Quatre Bras
The Black Watch
Make sure your gear is secured and non-essentials items are stowed. This ride will not be for the faint of heart!


I'm proud to say I've hoisted a pint (or three) with a few of these lads, back in the day.

Why yes, the Black Watch is my favorite regiment.

14 comments:

  1. Looking forward to the series.

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  2. Watching three years worth of the Royal Tattoo on TV while stationed in the UK was enough memories for a lifetime..

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    1. Well VX, it's not going to be all Brits all the time. And I'll try to keep the pipe music to the bare minimum required. If only for the sake of Buck's sanity.

      ;-)

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    2. Your reply tells me I came across wrong, lol. I meant to imply that I can't get enough of that stuff, so "pipes away!" :)

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    3. If only for the sake of Buck's sanity.

      You ARE a gentleman and a scholar.

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    4. Ah VX, your subtlety was lost on me.

      Color me Captain Clueless.

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    5. But yes, Buck. I'll warn you when the pipers are coming.

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  3. I saw the Robert Gould Shaw and thought to myself, "I don't remember it being that golden and bright", but soon enough I realized you hadn't shown the one from Boston Common. I never realized there was another!

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    1. I really wanted to use a picture from the Common, but it was just too dingy. I remember visiting there as a kid and there was that cool-looking greenish look of old bronze. But the photo from the National Gallery was just so, ya know, shiny!

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  4. This should be a GREAT series of posts!!! Looking forward to it!

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  5. Well, you didn't ask but I never let THAT sort o' triviality stop me from opening my mouth. My favorite military unit of all time is The Mighty Eighth, c.1942 - 1945. If you chase that link... and the one to VIII Bomber Command... you'll note they were headquartered at High Wycombe Air Station. The 8AF HQ/Ops bunker still exists at Wycombe, unrestored, except for the bits that were rehabilitated to house the Theatre Mission Planning System for the UK-based GLCMs. SAC used the bunker during the height of the Cold War, too... and the map/situation room is a real sight to see. I spent a LOT of time in that bunker during the UK GLCM beddown.

    And now I've gone on waaay longer than I should have.

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    1. Well, there was a post back in May where I did indicate that I do requests.

      Not that you would need an invite anyway, 先生.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)