a little bit of timber and a saw

6

Found this old piece of timber in the garden. I restored it and did my first ever proper bit of old school joinery. I only had a saw, tape measure and a chisel to work with so it’s a little rough around the edges but I’m very happy with it. Some genius came up with this in the past in order to join massive logs together to be used to build huge sea worthy battle ships. They didn’t have the luxury of working with metal back then so they had to get creative.

Battles of Vimy Ridge and Arras

Germans (center) surrendering as Canadian reserves advance across Vimy Ridge.

April 9 1917, Arras–Since the beginning of the year, the British had been planning an attack around Arras, to be conducted a week before Nivelle’s major French offensive on the Aisne further south.  The ground had been fought over before; the French had attacked here in May 1915, but had ultimately failed to make substantial gains.  The attack had originally been planned for Easter Sunday, April 8, but had been pushed back a day to April 9 due to inclement weather in the previous week.  There would be two major attacks: the Canadian Corps under Byng at Vimy Ridge, and the British under Allenby further south around Arras.  Both had been meticulously planned; large caves had been excavated to protect the attacking soldiers from any German counter-barrage, and they would proceed up to the first line of trenches by tunnel without exposing themselves to enemy fire.  The infantry, especially those in the Canadian Corps, had been carefully trained, and knew their objectives well, allowing them to keep the offensive going even if their officers were killed or communications broke down.  

Four days of bombardment had cut barbed wire, severed German communications, and destroyed many of the German trenches (if not their more fortified positions).  At 5:30 AM on April 9, the barrage began again, but it lifted and moved back behind the German lines only three minutes later.  Gus Sivertz, a Canadian with the first wave that had already crawled into no-man’s land, recalled:

I looked ahead and saw the German front line crashing into pieces; bits of men, timbers, lumps of chalk were flung through the air and, blending with the shattering wall of fire, were the Hun SOS signals of all colours.  We didn’t dare lift our heads, knowing that the barrage was to come flat over us and then lift in three minutes.

The Canadians seized most of the first line of trenches with little resistance, often securing them well ahead of schedule.  However, the timing of the subsequent barrages, which had been worked out with clockwork precision, prevented the Canadians from advancing before their set timetable.  Even if there were no Germans in front of them, they would be advancing into their own barrage.  This theme would repeat throughout the day, though the Canadians did advance as planned, in places up to four miles.

On the northern end of their advance, the Canadians did run into some difficulties.  One section of the German first line was spared from the barrage by the request of the local CO of the infantry, who wanted the trench intact as defense against German counterattacks; these Germans were only rooted out when flanked on both sides.  Additionally, Vimy Ridge itself had networks of underground tunnels which the artillery could not touch.  In some places, the Germans, realizing they were trapped, surrendered quickly.  In one instance, a Capt. McDowell captured 77 Germans single-handed, pretending to give orders to non-existent troops behind him, then ordering the Germans out in small groups to his waiting men on the surface; he would win a Victoria Cross for his effort.  Elsewhere, the Germans put up more of a fight and it would take many hours to clear them out; the Canadians’ northernmost objective was not taken until that night.

The Germans were not able to recover and counterattack quickly, as they had kept their reserve far away from the front line, up to 15 miles in places.  While this kept them safe from Allied artillery and airplanes, it meant they could not launch a counterattack before the Canadians had secured their positions; unlike in 1915, Vimy Ridge would stay in Allied hands.  The mandated pauses in the advance prevented the Canadians from pushing forward beyond their objectives, however, until late in the afternoon, by which time the first German reserves had arrived, and the commanders on the spot were reluctant to take the initiative.  A tentative effort to break out onto the plains beyond Vimy Ridge with cavalry was quickly beaten back.

The British under Allenby, further to the south, had similar successes.  This attack used more tanks; the few ones allotted to the Canadians got stuck in mud and proved useless.  These tanks proved more useful, but all of them had been knocked out of action by noon.  Advancing several miles, they had opened a four-mile long complete gap in the German lines, but would not make any further advance beyond the occasional patrol that day.

Today in 1916: Massive German Attack on Mort Homme
Today in 1915:  Falkenhayn Agrees to Offensive in East

Sources include: Alexander McKee, Vimy Ridge; John Keegan, The First World War; E.L. Spears, Prelude to Victory; Derek Grout, Thunder in the Skies.

Preference #125: When He Gets Drunk

Liam: Liam is the definition of a good time whenever alcohol is involved. He never pressures anyone to drink (he didn’t for a long time) but if people express interest, he’ll buy whole rounds for everyone, even people he didn’t know. He was more than generous, and would never admit it, but loved being the one to pop open a champagne bottle, or start a round of tequila shots with everyone cheering and hollering around him. He never shied away from a camera, and he would always smile when he would find hundreds of blurry selfies with friends on his phone the next day. Liam is never afraid of looking stupid when he drinks, and if he wants to do something, he’ll make it happen. He’s a stubborn guy, and once he or his friends have their eye on something, nothing will stop him from getting it. If there’s a silly photo booth that a friend of yours wants to go to, Liam will be the first to hold up the silly props while all the other guys shy away. If one of Liam’s favorite songs comes on, he’ll grab your hand and pull you to the dance floor, jumping up and down even if no one else is. Furthermore, since Liam is so set in his ways, if he gets the idea that he wants you, it’ll happen. Once some liquid courage is in his system, his hands will grip you tighter, pull you closer, no matter how many people are around. His words grow darker and dirtier as they get whispered in your ear. Liam’s the life of the party when he drinks, but he’ll shut it down once he realizes that all he wants in the room is you.

Harry: Watching him while he was drunk was secretly one of your favorite things to do. He didn’t drink often, but when he did, you couldn’t miss a second. The goofy, adorable boy that Harry normally hides behind his professionalism comes out with every sip he takes. He laughs at everything with that cute, loud, crinkled-eye, huge-grin giggle and his long limbs often are slow to respond, sending him stumbling like Bambi on ice. The best part is he’ll start sentences that he doesn’t know how to finish, and you wish you could record half of the things that come out of his mouth. “Can I sit here… platonically?” he’ll hiccup as he sits down next to someone at the bar, before breaking out into another smile as he covers his face with his hand, “Fuck, I have no idea what I’m saying. I meant…nevermind…sorry!” You shake your head with a smile, rubbing Harry’s back as you remember all of this stupid stuff to taunt him with later. A few minutes later as you look out at the snow collecting outside of the club, Harry murmurs: “Look at all this snow, guys… like, imagine if it was sand… but still cold, no wait, even better: warm snow. How sick would that be? I love the beach!” The group you’re sat with at the club cackles, waiting for what’s going to come out of Harry’s mouth next. “(Y/N),” he whispers hotly into your ear as you head back over to the bar, “you better not use any of this against me tomorrow. I know’m gonna say something stupid. Probably already have…” “Wouldn’t dream of it, babe.” You say with a smirk as you take another sip.

Niall: For Niall, drinking has been as much of a past-time as football or guitar. He cannot get enough of beer, and always has plenty of it stocked in the fridge for when he needs to unwind after work or on the weekends. He was proud of the Irish in him, and could down more alcohol than most anyone, and hold it well too: it took a lot of booze to get him even slightly tipsy. He was the most heavy-weight drinker you knew, but there was always someone that popped up who could do more shots, finish another pint… That’s when you got worried. Niall wasn’t aggressive or dangerous when he did decide to finish that extra drink, but he was stupid sometimes. Especially around his friends back in Mullingar, who always egg him on. Every now and again you see a new scrape or bruise on him, and when you ask him about it, he laughs before beginning a story about how Sean dared him to jump the table or throw a dart with his eyes closed. One day you know he’ll learn his lesson, but for now, while he’s still living his glory days with his best mates, you let him have some fun, within reason. “Just don’t get a tattoo after drinking, okay?” you say, resting a hand on his shoulder, “you would be the type to do that.” He laughs and pauses, his mouth forming into a line. “Oh, well actually…then I have something to show you…” he reaches for the hem of his shirt and your face blanches. “Nah, I’m just kidding ya!” he says with a grin before you playfully smack his chest.

Louis: Three things in Louis’ life were known to rile him up: other guys hitting on you, paparazzi, and alcohol. So God help you if someone were unfortunate enough to mix the three. Even with one drink in his system, Louis held himself higher, became more critical, and suddenly saw himself as better at most everything. “Psh, I can do that” became one of his most common catchphrases after a drink.  But his confidence was sexy, and you loved that he would lose what little inhibitions he still had, and would just go all out for anything. Dancing like idiots to Timber in the middle of a club? Done. Trying (and finishing) the disgusting concoction of mixed drinks your friends made? Done. Calling out that guy for his rude comment that normally would be ignored? Done. Sometimes, though, it did get to be a bit much, especially when people upset him or you in some way, even unintentionally. He could never shake it off or ignore it. Louis wasn’t the biggest guy, far from it, but that never stopped him from tensing up and trying to shove a guy that spilled his drink on you, or from nearly screaming when he emphatically insisted that he was right in an argument that made no sense. He became even more protective than normal, and LOVED to talk shit to the paparazzi that always waited outside of the clubs. You clutch his arm as he stumbled slightly over the bumpy walkway of the club’s exit, and the normal stampede of paps swarm you. “Fucking paps!” Louis shouts, waving his arms, “Bloody leeches, go screw yourselves! Get yourself some real jobs!” You get into the back of the limo and sigh, pulling Louis in before he can raise both his middle fingers to the paps.