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Procopius last won the day on January 1

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About Procopius

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    Never less alone than when I'm alone with you
  • Birthday 03/15/1983

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    You, baby, you.

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  1. Where I live, there's fairly extensive gun control laws by US standards, including a ban on AR-15 style rifles and so forth, but happily for me, I don't care about that stuff and only like historical firearms. SMLEs are significantly more expensive over in the USA and Canada than the No4 rifles, as those were produced in Canada and in the US under lend-lease.
  2. Well, happy to take it off your hands if it, like me, is just trapped in this country kicking its heels...
  3. A 1943 Lee-Enfield No4 MkI and 200 rounds of .303 ammunition. Looks to be in pretty good nick.
  4. I almost forgot to mention, I replaced a leaky faucet! Mrs P was hugely impressed, even more so when I subsequently repaired a cabinet door Winston had knocked off of its hinges. There's a local indoor shooting range near me that I go to. It's $30 for a hour of range time (plus an extra $10 if I bring a guest); the last time I was there, I brought the Webley IV and Enfield No2 MkI* and between the two of them fired off 254 rounds of 38-calibre ammunition in that time, pretty much all of my stock. I, uh, am not a crack shot. Suffice it to say that should, heaven forfend, I ever have cause to fire an eighty-year-old pistol in deadly earnest at a man-sized target ten yards away, and that target possibly has right side hypertrophy, they're in for a rough time. (The British Army, incidentally, didn't expect much from the Enfield No2 MkI* either, judging by the manual for it that I have. Users weren't even supposed to aim, just fire two shots quickly from the hip, presumably yelling "SERGEANNNNT" as loudly as they could at the same time in the hopes that somebody with a slightly larger weapon could do the heavy lifting.) I'm also a member of a small national shooting organization that more closely aligns with my limp-wristed namby-pamby politics than some of the larger ones. I have a baseball cap and everything.
  5. Hi folks, sorry for the long pause between updates. No real progress right now, it's been a busy month. Our water heater sprang a leak, our basement had some light flooding, and so forth and so on. I also seem to have finally found a hobby more expensive and time-consuming than modelling: shooting. To compound the error, I've decided to reload my own brass and bought a turret press, so expect to hear I've blown my fingers off in the fullness of time. It was our Memorial Day on Monday, so I took the boys to the cemetery at Fort Sheridan to put a Union Jack on the grave of the sole British soldier who's buried there, Cyril Evans, who perished in this country after being liberated from a Japanese prison camp. This year, someone else had left a yellow rose on his grave. There weren't any on any of the other graves, so I can only assume Private Evans has picked up another friend far from home. I hope so. The boys wanted to come with me to place the flag, and I was very proud of them; they were quiet and respectful in the cemetery. Winston held my hand, and Grant held Winston's hand, and we made our way over and placed our flag. This year, due to COVID-19, there was almost nobody there, but I feel like it's at times like these that the traditions are most important to keep up. Mrs P and the boys may be off to Michigan next week, and if so, hopefully I'll have more time to work on the models.
  6. I don't think it's as good as his other two, personally.
  7. Eighty years ago today, on 25 May 1940, the War Cabinet met in London. With the fall of Boulogne, only two Channel ports remained: Calais, already under siege by the 10th Panzer Division, and Dunkirk. Lord Gort believed that given the gravity of the situation, only a small portion of the BEF might be evacuated from France before catastrophe overtook them. The War Cabinet had not only this news to contemplate, but also a paper prepared for them by the Imperial General Staff, entitled "British Strategy in a Certain Eventuality". That "certain eventuality" was the collapse of France. The Imperial General Staff wrote: The vital fact is that our ability to avoid defeat will depend on three factors :­ (a) Whether the morale of our people will withstand the strain of air bombardment; (b) Whether it will be possible to import the absolute essential minimum of commodities necessary to sustain life and to keep our war industries in action; (c) Our capacity to resist invasion. All of these depend primarily on whether our fighter defences will be able to reduce the scale of attack to reasonable bounds.
  8. A princely sum has been spent on a turret reloading press, which should allow me to make my own ammunition and/or blow my fingers off.
  9. Eighty years ago today, on 21 May, 1940, the British Expeditionary Force counterattacked Erwin Rommel's 7th Panzer Division, then supported by the Waffen-SS divisions "Totenkopf" and "Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler" near Arras. Although badly outnumbered, the British tanks proved almost impervious to most German weapons, and simply drove over German anti-tank guns, crushing the crews with their treads or mowing them down with their machine guns. Rommel was caught wrong-footed, and only by forming his divisional artillery, including 88mm anti-aircraft guns and 105mm field guns, into a last-ditch defensive line was the 7th Panzer Division able to stop the much smaller and weaker force, which had handled the Germans roughly, causing the Waffen-SS to break and run and taking 400 German prisoners. The heavy German guns and the Luftwaffe inflicted grievous losses on the British tanks, however, with P A L Vaux, later a Brigadier, writing: “But none the less the fire became heavier and heavier and there were shells falling all round us and striking the tanks, including the tanks already knocked out, and it was high time time for us to go, and the Adjutant signalled for me to turn round and drive back. As we did so, I saw the Colonel’s tank had its side blown in, and although I didn’t know it, the Colonel and Corporal Moorehouse his operator were dead inside…As we drove back through the Matildas my heart sank because I realised what had happened: there were all those tanks I knew so well—the familiar names—Dreadnought, Dauntless, Demon, Devil; there were the faces of those men with whom I had played games, swum, lived with for years—lying there, dead; and there were these tanks—useless—very few of them burning but most of them smashed up in one way or another. And as the Adjutant and I drove back up to the top of the hill, one realised that this really was it. This—this was the tragedy—this was the end of the 4th Tanks as we knew it. In that valley, the best of our crews, our tanks, our soldiers, our officers were left behind.” As the battered British were forced back by the Luftwaffe and the combined strength of three German divisions, help appeared from an unexpected corner: the powerful medium tanks of the French 3e DLM, more than a match for anything the Germans had, arrived to cover the British retreat, stopping the German counterattack cold and giving the British time to regroup. The British lost around 75 men and 35 tanks, but another 170 British troops, taken prisoner during the retreat, were murdered by the Waffen-SS. The Germans lost 300 men killed or wounded and another 400 taken prisoner, as well as many tanks put out of action. Such was the ferocity of the Allied attack that the Germans believed they'd faced five divisions, or 40,000 men: in fact, the British had attacked with less than 2,000. The counterattack at Arras had far-reaching effects. The Germans had no longer believed the Allies capable of offensive action, and the 3e DLM attempted its own unsuccessful attack on 23 May, further rattling the Germans, who now feared their armour was at risk if it pursued the retreating British forces into the marshy ground around the channel port of Dunkirk. Also on 21 May 1940, in the occupied Polish town of Działdowo, the Germans began another phase of Aktion T4, their campaign to murder the mentally ill. 1,558 patients at asylums throughout East Prussia were brought to the Soldau Concentration Camp and murdered using the gas vans of SS-Sonderkommando Lange. For this work, the Sonderkommando were "rented" from the SS for ten Reichsmark per person so killed.
  10. Eighty years ago today, on 19 May 1940, the War Cabinet were informed that in light of the current situation in France, Lord Gort, the commander of the BEF, was contemplating a withdrawal towards the ancient port city Dunkirk. Churchill made his first address to the nation as Prime Minister: I speak to you for the first time as Prime Minister in a solemn hour for the life of our country, of our empire, of our allies, and, above all, of the cause of Freedom. A tremendous battle is raging in France and Flanders. The Germans, by a remarkable combination of air bombing and heavily armoured tanks, have broken through the French defenses north of the Maginot Line, and strong columns of their armoured vehicles are ravaging the open country, which for the first day or two was without defenders. They have penetrated deeply and spread alarm and confusion in their track. Behind them there are now appearing infantry in lorries, and behind them, again, the large masses are moving forward. The re-groupment of the French armies to make head against, and also to strike at, this intruding wedge has been proceeding for several days, largely assisted by the magnificent efforts of the Royal Air Force." Churchill had served on the Western Front in 1916 after resigning office after the Dardanelles fiasco, and he retained immense respect for the French army, believed then by many experts to be the most formidable in Europe, and by extension the world. "We must not allow ourselves to be intimidated by the presence of these armoured vehicles in unexpected places behind our lines. If they are behind our Front, the French are also at many points fighting actively behind theirs. Both sides are therefore in an extremely dangerous position. And if the French Army, and our own Army, are well handled, as I believe they will be; if the French retain that genius for recovery and counter-attack for which they have so long been famous; and if the British Army shows the dogged endurance and solid fighting power of which there have been so many examples in the past — then a sudden transformation of the scene might spring into being." He added, almost en passant: "It would be foolish, however, to disguise the gravity of the hour." He then moved to the subject of the air: "In the air — often at serious odds, often at odds hitherto thought overwhelming," and here his voice seemed almost to break, "we have been clawing down three or four to one of our enemies; and the relative balance of the British and German Air Forces is now considerably more favourable to us than at the beginning of the battle. In cutting down the German bombers, we are fighting our own battle as well as that of France...We must expect that as soon as stability is reached on the Western Front, the bulk of that hideous apparatus of aggression which gashed Holland into ruin and slavery in a few days will be turned upon us. I am sure I speak for all when I say we are ready to face it; to endure it; and to retaliate against it — to any extent that the unwritten laws of war permit. There will be many men and many women in the Island who when the ordeal comes upon them, as come it will, will feel comfort, and even a pride, that they are sharing the perils of our lads at the Front — soldiers, sailors and airmen, God bless them — and are drawing away from them a part at least of the onslaught they have to bear. Is not this the appointed time for all to make the utmost exertions in their power? If the battle is to be won, we must provide our men with ever-increasing quantities of the weapons and ammunition they need. We must have, and have quickly, more aeroplanes, more tanks, more shells, more guns. there is imperious need for these vital munitions. They increase our strength against the powerfully armed enemy. They replace the wastage of the obstinate struggle; and the knowledge that wastage will speedily be replaced enables us to draw more readily upon our reserves and throw them in now that everything counts so much." "Our task is not only to win the battle – but to win the war. After this battle in France abates its force, there will come the battle for our Island — for all that Britain is," and again his voice seemed almost to waver with emotion again, "and all that Britain means. That will be the struggle." Thousands of miles away, in America, the celebrity aviator Charles Lindbergh was making a radio address of a very different sort to the American people. He confidently proclaimed that "no foreign navy will dare to approach within bombing range of our coasts." Lindbergh added: "To be successful in modern warfare, a nation must prepare many years before the fighting starts. If any one doubts that, let him turn his eyes to Europe. Years ago we decided to stay out of foreign wars. We based our military policy on that decision. We must not waver now that the crisis is at hand. There is no longer time for us to enter this war successfully." Lindbergh further added: "The only reason that we are in danger of becoming involved in this war is because there are powerful elements in America who desire us to take part. They represent a small minority of the American people, but they control much of the machinery of influence and propaganda. They seize every opportunity to push us closer to the edge." It required little imagination on the part of any listener to understand to whom Lindbergh was referring. Writing in 1941 of his time flying Bloch MB.170s during the Battle of France, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, the celebrated author of The Little Prince, would write: “For after all, why do we go on fighting? If we die for democracy then we must be one of the democracies. Let the rest fight with us, if that is the case. But the most powerful of them, the only one that could save us, chooses to bide its time...And we go on fighting despite the assurance that we have lost the war. Why, then, do we go on dying? Out of despair? But there is no despair. You know nothing about defeat if you think there is room in it for despair."
  11. "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." -- Theodore Roosevelt
  12. Eighty years ago today, on 14 May 1940, two German panzer corps broke through the Allied defenses at Sedan. They were now able to sweep around the fixed defenses of the Maginot Line and push deep into France. Listeners to the BBC on this day heard the following announcement: "The Admiralty have made an Order requesting all owners of self-propelled pleasure craft between 30' and 100' in length to send all particulars to the Admiralty within 14 days from today if they have not already been offered or requisitioned."
  13. On 13 May 1940, 80 years ago today, as German tanks surged into France, Winston Churchill gave his first speech to the House of Commons as Prime Minister. Most famously, he said "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat." He then added: "You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. "You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival...no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal."
  14. Oh no! I'm so sorry, Cookie.
  15. Eighty years ago today, on 10 May 1940, German troops invaded Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg at dawn. That evening. Neville Chamberlain, architect of appeasement during his tenure as Prime Minister, submitted his resignation. He had wished to be replaced by Edward Wood, Lord Halifax, the former Viceroy of India, a fellow appeaser who was popular in the Conservative Party and acceptable to the Labour Party, but Halifax demurred, ostensibly because as he sat in the House of Lords, he could not effectively be Prime Minister. (Sir Alec Douglas-Home, upon becoming Prime Minister in 1963, renounced his title; the last Prime Minister to sit in the House of Lords throughout his tenure was Lord Salisbury at the turn of the century.) Thus, reluctantly, Chamberlain was forced to recommend Winston Churchill to the King for Prime Minister. Churchill was sixty-five years old, overweight, widely considered as lacking in judgement, perceived as inconstant (Rudyard Kipling, though a fierce anti-appeaser until his death in 1936, detested Churchill and thought him a political turncoat for having switched parties not once, but twice), bellicose, reactionary, and by and large a failure. The American historian John Lukacs, who was a Jewish slave laborer in Hungary during the war, would later write of this moment that "on that night of the tenth of May in the 1,940th year of Our Lord, Churchill stood for more than England. Millions of people, especially across Europe, recognized him now as the champion of their hopes. (In faraway Bengal India there was at least one man, that admirably independent writer and thinker, Nirad Chaudhuri, who fastened Churchill's picture on the wall of his room the next day.) Churchill was the opponent of Hitler, the incarnation of the reaction to Hitler, the incarnation of the resistance of an old world, of old freedoms, of old standards against a man incarnating a force that was frighteningly efficient, brutal, and new." Joseph Goebbels, writing in his diary almost a year later, on 7 May 1941, when Nazi Germany stood at the apex of her fortunes, was more succinct: "This man [Churchill] is a strange mixture of heroism and cunning. If he had come to power in 1933, we would not be where we are today."
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