julie fleeting

HMS Vanguard Explodes, Killing Over 800

HMS Vanguard, pictured before the war.

July 9 1917, Scapa Flow–The Grand Fleet had been doing little since last August, as the Admiralty had decided not to sortie it unless they thought the Germans would be attacking the Thames or the Straits of Dover.  Concentrating on their submarine offensive, the Germans had only brought their fleet out of the Jade once since then.

Nevertheless, there were still dangers in the Navy outside of battle, as was shown in a spectacular fashion on July 9.  At around 11:20 PM, for unknown reasons, a fire broke out in one of the smaller magazines on the dreadnought Vanguard.  With many watertight doors open as the ship was in port, the fire quickly spread to one of the larger magazines, which exploded.  The ship sank near-instantaneously; all but two men on board were killed.

As with the loss of the Audacious early in the war, the British tried to keep the sinking a secret, so that the Germans would not learn of it.  Even if they had, the British still had 31 dreadnoughts to Germany’s 21, and, despite the losses at Jutland, nine battlecruisers to Germany’s four.  American entry into the war also raised the prospect of even more Allied capital ships in the North Sea, though as of yet the fourteen American dreadnoughts stayed on their side of the Atlantic.

Today in 1916: Turkish-German Force Begins Sinai Trek
Today in 1915: German South-West Africa Surrenders to South Africa
Today in 1914: UK Foreign Secretary Tells German Ambassador A Peaceful Solution Will Be Reached in the Balkans

Sources include: Robert K. Massie, Castles of Steel.

John Finn is back….

PEARL HARBOR, HI (July 10, 2017) – The United States Navy’s newest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, USS John Finn (DDG 113), arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, HI in preparation for its formal commissioning ceremony into the Fleet on July 15, 2017.

Traditional hula dancers give a Hawaiian “Aloha” (Welcome!) pierside to the brand-new ready for duty warship….as she arrives in her new homeport….and the site of John Finn’s exceptional heroism almost 76 years before.

                                                    It’s all in the name

DDG 113 is named in honor of Lt. John William Finn, U.S. Navy….who, as a Chief Aviation Ordnanceman, was the first member of America’s military to earn the Medal of Honor during World War II….for heroism during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Finn was honored for machine-gunning Japanese warplanes for over two hours during the December 1941 early morning attack on Pearl Harbor….despite being shot in the foot and shoulder, and suffering numerous shrapnel wounds. He retired as a Navy lieutenant, after thirty years of service….and died at age 100 in 2010.

Another fitting tribute to a most honorable and deserving shipmate and patriot!

Welcome back to Pearl, John Finn!


                          The 80-second movie version of this post


>>Note: The United States needs to continue – and strictly adhere to – the tradition of naming our Nation’s warships after names/events that inspire pride, sense of belonging, teamwork, sense of mission and purpose…..perhaps, even heroism, when necessary. 

Unfortunately, in recent decades, the naming of America’s warships has often fallen victim to political correctness and, possibly, even corruption. 

The bottom line: our Sailors and Marines out there on the forward lines….on the other side of the world…..doing the dirty work of freedom and democracy….should be the primary consideration for naming a warship.

I mean, really….wouldn’t YOU rather serve on a “USS Awesome” rather than “USS Huh?”?


Air Berlin destinations, July 2017

The Air Berlin destinations map in July 2017. This shows the Berlin-based carrier’s network after it cut its fleet by nearly half earlier this year in an effort to stem losses.

The majority of the network cuts were in Europe, where destinations, including Billund, Jersey and Madrid, have been dropped since this September 2016 map when it announced the fleet changes.

Air Berlin operates 70 aircraft, including 48 A320 family aircraft and nine A330-200s, in July 2017, the Flight Fleets Analyzer shows.

A Matilda tank being used to tow a Beaufort torpedo bomber which made a belly-landing at Luqa airfield after being damaged during an attack on the Italian Fleet, 16 July 1942.


Eastern destination maps, 1988

Eastern Airlines destination and express maps in July 1988. Designwise, they are a simplified version of these 1986 maps, eliminating the almost coloured on background for more neutral brownish-green tones.

We still wish Eastern showed routes so you could see the true extent of their network, which was still the largest on the US East Coast in 1988.

Eastern operated 269 aircraft, including 26 A300s, 117 727s, 25 757s and 79 DC-9s, in July 1988, the Flight Fleets Analyzer shows.

Source: Airline Memorabilia on Flickr


Today in History, July 8-14th, 1853, Commodore Perry Opens Relations with Japan at the Point of a Gun.

When the Tokugawa shogunate gained control of Japan in 1603, the first order of business was to cleanse Japan of all foreign influence.  The Tokugawa shogunate enforced a strict policy of isolationism from the rest of the world.  Japanese subjects were forbidden from leaving the country, and trade was restricted to a small number of Dutch merchants confined to Nagasaki.  The Tokugawa went so far as to forbid shipbuilding to small fishing boats. For the next 350 years Japan remained isolated from most of the world, sheltering itself from western imperialism but missing out on the technological and social advancements of the West.  By the mid 19th century, Japan was still a medieval feudal state that was little different from the Japan of the ancient Samurai.  That all changed on July 8th and 9th, when a powerful fleet of warships entered Tokyo Harbor and started making demands.

Many businessman and politicians in the west saw Japan as an untapped source of wealth in trade and business.  The only thing that stood in the way was Japan’s isolationist policy.  In 1852, US President Millard Fillmore resolved to make an effort to change all of that.  He commissioned an American naval fleet to deliver a treaty to the Japanese which outlined American demands, the most important of which was to open Japan to American trade.  The fleet consisted of four warships, the USS Mississippi, the USS Plymouth, the USS Saratoga, and the USS Susquehanna.  Commanding the fleet was Commodore Matthew Perry, an experienced naval officer and Mexican American War veteran who became known as the “father of the steam navy.”  Millard Fillmore tasked Perry with delivering the treaty to the Tokugawa, and authorized him to use force if necessary.

Perry’s fleet disembarked from Norfolk, Virginia in 1852, and arrived at Tokyo (Edo) Bay in July 8th, 1853.  At first he was met with a flotilla of small Japanese boats that blocked his access from the harbor.  The Japanese demanded Perry turn around, but the small unarmed boats were no match for the fleet, which had a combined armament of 67 heavy guns. Many of the fleets heavy ordinance were Paixhans guns, state of the art heavy naval guns which fired devastating high explosive shells.

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On July 9th, Perry’s fleet sailed past the Japanese flotilla and entered Tokyo Harbor.  The Japanese demanded Perry leave, but with Tokyo lightly defended by obsolete weapons, there was nothing they could do to stop him.  Commodore Perry then demanded he be allowed ashore to present the treaty to the Tokugawa officials.  When he was refused, Perry ordered the shelling of a few harbor front buildings.  The Japanese were helpless as their outdated cannon couldn’t even achieve the range to fire back at the fleet.  Seeing that the situation was hopeless, the Japanese granted Perry’s request on July 14th.

Commodore Perry returned a year later to find that the Japanese had heavily fortified Tokyo harbor.  However the obsolete Japanese weaponry was so pathetic that it could scarcely harm Perry’s fleet, which was twice as large as the previous.  The Japanese gave in to all American demands.  As a result, other powerful nations such as Britain, France, Russia, and Germany also demanded similar terms.  In an instant, the ancient culture of medieval Japan came to an end, signalling the birth of a modern nation.


The Dutch declared war against the Scillies as a legal fiction which would cover a hostile response to the Royalist fleet. In July 1651, soon after the declaration of war, the Parliamentarian forces under Admiral Robert Blake forced the Royalist fleet to surrender. The Netherlands fleet, no longer under threat, left without firing a shot. However, due to the obscurity of one nation’s declaration of war against a small part of another, the Dutch forgot to officially declare peace.

In 1985, the historian and Chairman of the Isles of Scilly Council Roy Duncan, wrote to the Dutch Embassy in London to dispose of the “myth” that the islands were still at war. But embassy staff found the myth to be accurate and Duncan invited Ambassador Jonkheer Rein Huydecoper to visit the islands and sign a peace treaty. Peace was declared on April 17, 1986, a stunning 335 years after the war began.


The Revolutionary War Invasion of Britain — The Armada of 1779.

When France became allies with the American colonies during the Revolutionary War, it sparked a struggle between Britain and France all over the world.  In the Caribbean, in Europe, and in India French and British forces battled over control of colonies and key territories.  Added to the mix were the Spanish, who became informal allies with the French later that same year, and conducted various raids around the Gulf Coast and Louisiana Territory.

In the spring of 1779 the two allied powers planned an ambitious military campaign to destroy the British Empire.  Because British forces were stretched thin due to the war, there were few troops stationed in Britain and only 40 Royal Navy ships guarding the English Channel.  The plan was for a combined French/Spanish armada to destroy the British fleet. This would pave the way for an unopposed invasion of Britain.  The plan was for the French and Spanish fleet to meet off the coast of Spain.  Once the armada destroyed the British fleet, a force of 40,000 French troops would invade from Northern France.  In the meantime a small squadron of American ships, led by the famous John Paul Jones conducted raids in Northern England, Scotland, and Ireland with the intention of drawing British troops away from the invasion point.

On the 3rd of June a French fleet of 30 warships led by Admiral d'Orvilliers set off for Spain.  The expedition was fraught with failure from the start, as the French set off with only half of their supplies as there was a pervading fear that the British had discovered their plans and were going to blockade the fleet.  Once off the coast of Spain the French waited for the Spanish fleet.  As they waited they continued to consume more and more of their supplies.  The Spanish were late, very late, in fact they were almost two months late.  By the time the Spanish arrived with another 36 ships on July 25th, the French were suffering from scurvy, typhus, and smallpox.  When the Franco-Spanish fleet entered the English Channel on the 31st of July, the entire fleet was a diseased mess.

When d'Orvilliers and his armada entered the Channel he was surprised to find that the British Fleet was absent, instead conducting a patrol off the Isles of Scilly.  d'Orvilliers received orders in mid August to continue with the invasion without destroying the British fleet, a move he considered risky since the British could show at any moment, destroying the helpless troop transports or blockading the landing sites, trapping French troops on the English coast.  d'Orvilliers sent a message asking the French government to reconsider.  While waiting for a response a large easterly wind scattered the fleet, driving it out of the Channel.  In an incredible act of good fortune, the armada found the British fleet. 

d'Orvilliers intended to immediately engage and destroy the British, but it took days for the armada to rally and re-organize.  In the meantime the British fleet nimbly sailed passes the confused and disheveled armada, sailing back into the Channel.  The British new what was up, and knew that they were the ultimate objective of the armada.  Rather than engaging in battle, the British fleet slipped by the armada.  By then the armada was suffering heavy casualties from sickness and malnutrition.  Without even firing a shot, the armada had lost 8,000 sailors, and 50% to 60% of the survivors were incapacitated.  Worse yet was scurvy, a sailor’s worst nightmare.  A disease caused by vitamin c deficiency, it led to tooth loss, hair loss, open sores, fever, and death.

By September the armada was in no condition to do battle with anyone.  In addition there was fears that the invasion would drag on into the cold months of autumn and winter.  The invasion was called off. The armada did have one major effect; it freaked out the British, who would fear the possibility of invasion for the rest of the war.  In response, the British Army recalled many of its troops from colonial outposts, including in the American colonies.    No other invasion of Britain would be attempted by the French or Spanish during the American Revolution.

Sometimes I wish some footballers weren't Scottish.

Because as greatful as I am that they represent my country, they just really deserve to win something. The best example would be this woman:

Julie Fleeting. One of the best strikers in the world. She’s incredible. I mean, she makes Scotland worth watching, but it’s a shame that she’ll never actually get what she deserves.

And from the mens team:

Darren Fletcher. I think Fletch is a brilliant player. And he deserves to play in the biggest tournaments there are. Thankfully he’s a Man U player and, as much as I don’t like them, they are one of the world’s best clubs, so he get’s the recognition on the club stage, he just deserves more at international level.

I could give others, but these are the two who really stand out for me.