*be sceptical - take nothing for granted!
Unless otherwise indicated all photos © Richard McKie 2005 - 2019

Who is Online

We have 263 guests and no members online

Article Index

World Wars

 

 

As a result of the Spanish-American war the US successfully took the Philippines, despite some spirited Spanish defence.  But local leaders in the Philippines sought independence. 

In their view one Colonial Power had been replaced with another, by another name.  The patriots opposed US occupation and a long drawn out, bloody war resulted, during which some six thousand US troops were killed and an estimated quarter of a million Filipinos died.  Many US liberals, like Mark Twain, were appalled. 

During the US campaign to take control of the Philippines, Pearl Harbour and Camp McKinley became a stopover for troops en-route.

Yet it was not until the Russo-Japanese War (1904-5), when the growing naval power of Japan became evident, that serious military development took place. This foreign investment at last delivered some of the economic benefits longed-for by the white business community. 

Large scale military investment began in 1908 and the first large US warship of a new Pacific Fleet entered the newly developed Pearl Harbour Naval Base in 1911.

 


Japan's growing empire - Pearl Harbour Museum

 

At the beginning of the First World War the US proclaimed neutrality.  So nine German naval vessels sought sanctuary from the Japanese Navy. 

Today it sounds odd that German warships fled the Japanese.  But nine years earlier, in 1905, Japan had virtually annihilated the Russian Pacific Fleet: sinking 34 ships, including seven battleships.  4,380 Russians died and 5,917 were taken prisoner. 117 Japanese were killed.

During the First World War the Japanese were on Britain's side. So when the US eventually entered the war in support of these allies they captured nine German ships the first day.  Nevertheless, it was becoming obvious that: 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend', and that Japanese and US territorial interests, particularly over the Philippines, would eventually clash.

The US had constructed among the world's most elaborate fortifications around Manilla Harbour and Subic Bay in the Philippines. Now the whole island of Oahu was fortified to become virtually impregnable to Japanese attack by sea.  Several forts protected possible Japanese approaches with huge 14 inch 'disappearing guns' that could destroy a ship over the horizon, taking advantage of the island's high lookouts as well as aircraft for targeting. 

Should a Japanese battleship somehow get within their visual range the big guns were protected by impregnable concrete bunkers and only appeared (popped-up) briefly to fire.  Good quality roads provided quick military access to possible landing points for tanks and field guns.  Soon primitive radar would scan the skies overhead. 

From this impregnable harbour the world's most advanced battleships could steam out to meet the Japanese should they be foolish enough to engage with the United States of America.  These great ships were anchored line astern and two abreast to protect the inner row in the event that they were attacked by air.  This was most unlikely in any case as the harbour was too shallow for a conventional submarine and too shallow for aircraft launched torpedoes.  Deck armour on the battleships was believed to be too thick for bombs to penetrate.  Land and carrier based fighter aircraft assured air superiority.

The US and Japan were not the only powers around the Pacific.  The British had a similarly 'impregnable' naval base in Singapore and Sydney Harbour too was protected by disappearing guns.  Even Darwin Harbour in Australia's far north was protected by massive shore based guns and fighter aircraft.  To the north of Australia the Dutch had the Surabaya Naval base in Java with similar defences and an allied fleet.

In each location, every-day military thinking was dominated by their pride and confidence in this technology.  Troops practiced and re-practiced using it, but also frolicked in the sun, confident in their defences and assured that security lay in eternal vigilance. No one appreciated how vulnerable they were to innovative military tactics and superior aircraft technology.

 

 


    Have you read this???     -  this content changes with each opening of a menu item


Travel

Turkey

 

 

 

 

In August 2019 we returned to Turkey, after fourteen years, for a more encompassing holiday in the part that's variously called Western Asia or the Middle East.  There were iconic tourist places we had not seen so with a combination of flights and a rental car we hopped about the map in this very large country. 

We began, as one does, in Istanbul. 

Read more ...

Fiction, Recollections & News

The Secret

The Secret

By Richard McKie

 

 Download PDF (for e-readers)

 

Lansing Michigan was a fine place to grow up, she guessed.  It was nice, and safe.

Her dad worked in the Michigan State Government and her mum stayed home. They weren’t rich but they were comfortable. Their new house was big, the nicest they had lived in and it was in a really good area. 

She had never been overseas, unless you count nearby Canada, and that was mainly on trips to Niagara Falls, usually when one of Mum’s sisters came to stay. When they passed through Sarnia, into Canada, Dad would always say "Yea! Overseas again!". It was about his only joke.

Sometimes they went through Detroit. But after what had happened there the last time she shut that out of her consciousness. No wonder she is timid and takes fright easily. Now if a friend even seemed to be driving in that direction she would go into the foetal position and shut-down.

Read more ...

Opinions and Philosophy

Syria - again

 

A fortnight ago I was moved to suggest that it was possible that the alleged gas attack in Syria might not be the work of the Syrian Army.  I withdrew the posting when more convincing evidence of Army involvement became available.

Because of our visit to Syria took place just before the most recent troubles began, I have been, perhaps, more interested than most.  I wanted to know why Syria is automatically assumed to be guilty when there are some very nasty groups on the other side?

We are fed so much doctored information, spin, that it is hard to get the facts even when we are directly involved.

So to claim that I know what is actually going on in Syria is fanciful.  Assad vehemently denies responsibility; the Russians are doubtful; and the inspectors have not yet reported.  But the certainty, and aggressive language, of the Western leaders accusing Syria of this latest incident seem extraordinary - do they know something that they are not revealing publicly?

As I have explained elsewhere I have fond memories of Damascus and of Syria in general.  Damascus was the most pleasant and interesting of the cities we stayed in; lacking the extremes of poverty and wealth we saw in Cairo (and in Egypt in general) or the more western normality of Amman in Jordan. 

Read more ...

Terms of Use                                           Copyright