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France's Surrender and the Temptation of Vietnam

[It is] a treasure lying in the street just waiting to be picked up!
-- Foreign Minister Masuoka, "Mr. 50,000 Words," speaking to Japan's new cabinet members about Vietnam. [1]

Japan joins the Axis powers toward the end of this year, and one wonders why. They refused to join last year. What has changed? It is Hitler's win over France. The Germans fool the French by feinting toward Belgium and outflanking the forces holding the Maginot Line. The French have no defense in depth, so once the Germans are past the weak point in the line, the Allies are surrounded and must evacuate across the English Channel from Dunkirk. The French are forced to surrender at the same spot that Germany suffered its humiliating defeat after World War 1. Now France is the loser, and the German people cheer. Even if a German citizen secretly opposes Hitler, it is a relief to get back some of their own. So now Hitler installs the Vichy French government and uses French ports to launch his U-boat attacks on British shipping... which brings us back to the Japanese. Remember all those years ago when France invaded Vietnam? Vietnam is rich in resources and food. It's ports and runways make it strategically desirable as a means for Japan to attack China. By joining the Axis Powers Japan can convince the Vichy government to hand over Vietnam to them. It is ripe, low-hanging fruit, so to speak. [2] [3] [4] [5]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
It was "ripe" all right. This was one of those cases when a little more thought and a lot less enthusiasm was called for. Sure. Japan could have used Vietnam, and it fit with their overall strategy to become the ruling power in the region, but many Japanese leaders realized that doing so would put them in conflict with the United States and the other Anglo powers. Nevertheless, it was too tempting and the new government was only 4 days old. The fast-talking "Mr. 50,000 Words", as the Foreign Minister was called behind his back, convinced them to change their policy. Several members of the government resigned. One man shed tears. The word "inscrutable" is often applied to the Japanese of this time. Usually, public tears were not on the agenda. He must have had some idea of what was coming for the land he loved, but no one could have imagined two atomic bombs.

Faith, Hope, Charity and the Zombie Apocalypse

The Island of Malta was once held by the Knights of the Order of Saint John against the Arab invasion of Europe. Frankly, the Knights saved Europe. In 1940, Malta is still a strategic position, so a British ship drops off a few crates containing obsolete Gloster Gladiator biplanes. The mission is to assemble the plane from crates (which is why planes are sometimes called "crates") and then hold Malta, letting no bombers pass. These planes are being held together with chewing gum and a pray. The pilots cannibalize, they improvise, they carry out the mission no matter what. As the story goes, they name the last three planes: "Faith, Hope and Charity" after the biblical verse. Only "Faith" will survive the war. [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
I find the story inspiring. Your mileage may vary. I'm not sure how true the story is, but my guess is that it is mostly true. The pilots and crew certainly had trouble maintaining their planes, and went beyond the call of duty to keep the planes running and in the action. The "Zombie Apocalypse" is a reference to a series of novels I've read concerning an Australian SAS commando turned school teacher who must bring his family through a Zombie Apocalypse alive. The solution seems to be to go to sea in boats, but throughout the series he takes his lessons from "Faith, Hope and Charity"... the RAF planes and their crews who did whatever it took to get the mission done. The name of the first book in the series is "Under a Graveyard Sky" by John Ringo. Warning: This is a novel for adults so adjust your expectations accordingly. [13]

Trotsky Dies... Rather Messily

Like an elephant, Stalin doesn't forget. (He is also fat, ugly and he smells.) Leon Trotsky has been on Stalin's "to-do" list for a long time now. The Great Purge has eliminated almost anyone who might be a threat to Stalin, and millions more are killed... just because he can. Trotsky was the former heir-apparent to the leadership of the Soviet Union after Lenin, but Stalin squeezed Trotsky out and eventually had him banished. Trotsky is now living in Mexico, generally minding his own business. He has hired an assistant that he trusts, but this fellow is Stalin's hired assassin. As Trotsky sits at his desk, going over papers, the assassin pulls out an ice axe and swings for the back of Trotsky's head. (Assassination tip: DON'T CLOSE YOUR EYES!) Trotsky cries out good and loud for a LONG time. He actually wrestles with the assassin until the bodyguards arrive. Trotsky dies the next day from loss of blood and shock. The assassin will spend a few years in a Mexican jail and then be released. He will receive the Order of Lenin... for assassinating Lenin's heir... ironically. [14] [15] [16]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Is this the Russian way? I recall a former Russian FSB agent was murdered when radioactive polonium was sprinkled into his food. It was the first documented case of such a poisoning... and frankly... where would one get polonium except from a nation-state? Alexander Litvinenko was the fellow in question and from his deathbed he blamed Vladimir Putin. [17] [18]

World War 2 in Review

  • "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat." -- Winston Churchill as the new Prime Minister. [19]
  • The USSR sends grain to Germany. Germany would never attack it's food supplier. Would it?
  • The Belgians blow their bridges. [20]
  • German Panzers break through the Maginot Line. [21] [22]
  • Allied troops are pushed back to Dunkirk. 340,000 troops begin evacuation. [23]
  • "We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender..." -- Winston Churchill after the miracle of the Dunkirk rescue. [24]
  • The Germans roll into Paris. [25]
  • "But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour." -- Winston Churchill. [26]
  • The Battle of Britain begins. The Luftwaffe bomb targets in the UK.
  • The US Army mobilizes. Moving things around and stepping up training. (Are we at war?)
  • The Luftwaffe hit a church. Civilian targeting begins.
  • Churchill orders the bombing of Berlin. [27]
  • London is hit hard. 2,000 are dead. This is Hitler's big mistake.
  • "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few." -- Winston Churchill, thanking the RAF pilots in the Battle of Britain. [28]
  • The invasion of Britain is delayed indefinitely.
  • The Draft begins in the United States. (I think we are at war!)
  • Germany targets St. Paul's Cathedral.
  • St. Paul's Cathedral is damaged but it still stands.

Notable Births

  • Jim Bakker (Living): A glitzy televangelist convicted of fraud. [29]
  • Nancy Pelosi (Living): Congresswoman and first woman Speaker of the House. (Various snide comments deleted.) [30]
  • And in Entertainment...
  • -- Patrick Stewart (Living): Star Trek's Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Professor Xavier of the X-Men. [31]
  • -- Chuck Norris (Living): Martial arts expert, actor and political conservative. [32]
  • -- Bruce Lee: Martial arts innovator, and actor. [33]
  • -- John Lennon: Musician and songwriter for The Beatles and husband of Yoko Ono. [34]
  • -- Ringo Starr (Living): Drummer for The Beatles and "Mr. Conductor" in Thomas the Tank Engine. [35]

**Note: (Living) means they were alive when I checked.

This Year in Film

  • The Great Dictator: starring Charlie Chaplain. [36]
  • Pinocchio: animated film from Disney Studios. [36]
  • Fantasia: mixed animation-live classical concert from Disney Studios. [36]

This Year in Music

  • In the Mood: (Glenn Miller Band) [37]
  • I'll Never Smile Again: (Tommy Dorsey Band). [37]
  • When You Wish Upon a Star: (From the Disney animated film, Pinocchio.). [37]

In Other News

  • The Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapses. The amazing video remains as a warning to engineers. ([Click here]) [38] [39]
  • The F4U Corsair makes its debut. It has trouble landing on aircraft carriers. (Are we at war?) [40]
  • The first McDonald's opens: It's a BBQ joint. It will switch to burgers later. [41]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1940, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Toland, John Willard. Rising Sun: Volume 1, the Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945, The. Random House. 
  2. Alex Shrugged notes: My remarks come from my general knowledge of this time and my reading of several books including "Rising Sun" by Toland, "Operation Mincemeat" by Ben Mcintyre, "Bonhoeffer" by Eric Metaxes, and "Wolves at the Door" by Judith Pearson.
  3. Pearson, Judith. Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America's Greatest Female Spy, The. Lyons Press. ISBN 159228762X. 
  4. Metaxas, Eric. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Thomas Nelson. ISBN 9781595551382. 
  5. Ben Macintyre. Operation Mincemeat. Harmony Books. ISBN 9780307453273. 
  6. h2g2 - Gloster Gladiator - World War II Aircraft - Edited Entry. h2g2.com (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017. “Gladiators also served in the Middle East theatre, but are most remembered for their part in the defence of Malta between April and June, 1940. Malta was a perfect stepping-stone into Africa for German forces and RAF 261 Squadron defended the island against both Italian and German air forces valiantly. For ten days, 11 - 21 June, 1940, the squadron had to rely on the only serviceable fighter aircraft, these being the modified Sea Gladiators 'Faith' (N5519), 'Hope' (N5520) and 'Charity' (N5531)4. The three were what was left of five crates dropped off in Malta by HMS Glorious weeks beforehand. Many aircraft were shipped in crates, one of the reasons why pilots used to call them 'old crates'!”
  7. Hal Far Fighter Flight - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  8. No. 1435 Flight RAF - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  9. 1 Corinthians 13 - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  10. Theological virtues - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  11. Faith, Hope and Charity - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  12. Beck, Glenn. Faith, Hope and Charity, GlennBeck.com, 2010-Mar-16.
  13. Ringo, John. Under a Graveyard Sky, New York: Baen Books, 2013. ISBN-13: 9781451639193. p. 313. (NOVEL) Note: Character, Steve Smith, explains how he was trained in low-resources logistics and cites Faith, Hope and Charity as biplanes used against the Luftwaffe in WWII as example of using obsolete equipment to make a difference in modern warfare.
  14. Leon Trotsky - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  15. Leon Trotsky - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017. “On 20 August 1940, in his study, Trotsky was attacked by Ramón Mercader who used an ice axe as a weapon.[127] The blow to his head was bungled and failed to kill Trotsky instantly, as Mercader had intended. Witnesses stated that Trotsky spat on Mercader and began struggling fiercely with him, which resulted in Mercader's hand being broken. Hearing the commotion, Trotsky's bodyguards burst into the room and nearly killed Mercader, but Trotsky stopped them, laboriously stating that the assassin should be made to answer questions. Trotsky was taken to a hospital, operated on, and survived for more than a day, dying at the age of 60 on 21 August 1940 as a result of loss of blood and shock.”
  16. Ramón Mercader - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017. “ssassinated the Russian Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky in Mexico City in August 1940. He served 20 years in Mexican prison for the murder. Joseph Stalin presented him with an Order of Lenin in absentia. Mercader was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union after his release in 1961.”
  17. Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017. “On November 1, 2006, Litvinenko suddenly fell ill and was hospitalized. He died three weeks later, becoming the first confirmed victim of lethal polonium-210-induced acute radiation syndrome.[1] Litvinenko's allegations about the misdeeds of the FSB and his public deathbed accusations that Russian president Vladimir Putin was behind his unusual malady resulted in worldwide media coverage.”
  18. "Putin implicated in fatal poisoning of former KGB officer at London hotel - The Washington Post", January 21, 2016. Retrieved on 27 January 2017. “Gaunt and frail, his organs succumbing to the cruelly destructive power of radioactive poisoning, Alexander Litvinenko lay in a London hospital bed in November 2006 and identified the man responsible for his impending demise: Vladimir Putin.” 
  19. Blood, toil, tears, and sweat - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017. “I would say to the House as I said to those who have joined this government: I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering.”
  20. Battle of Hannut - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017. “The Germans reached the Hannut area just two days after the start of the invasion of Belgium but the French defeated several German attacks and fell back on Gembloux as planned. The Germans succeeded in tying down substantial Allied forces, which might have participated in the Battle of Sedan, the attack through the Ardennes.”
  21. Battle of Sedan (1940) - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017. “The French had long believed that the German Army would not attack through the Sedan sector as part of their concentrated effort, and only Brigadier General Pierre Lafontaine's French 55th Infantry Division, a category B division, was allocated to this sector. The Maginot Line ended 20 kilometres (12 mi) east of Sedan at La Ferté, where Fort No. 505 constituted its most westerly position.”
  22. Battle of Hannut - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017. “The Battle of Hannut (not to be confused with the Battle of Gembloux Gap) was a Second World War battle fought during the Battle of Belgium which took place between 12 and 14 May 1940 at Hannut in Belgium; it was the largest tank battle in history.”
  23. Dunkirk evacuation - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017. “The Dunkirk evacuation, code-named Operation Dynamo, also known as the Miracle of Dunkirk, was the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, France, between 26 May and 4 June 1940, during World War II. The operation was decided upon when large numbers of Belgian, British, and French troops were cut off and surrounded by the German army during the Battle of France. In a speech to the House of Commons, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called the events in France 'a colossal military disaster', saying 'the whole root and core and brain of the British Army' had been stranded at Dunkirk and seemed about to perish or be captured. In his We shall fight on the beaches speech on 4 June, he hailed their rescue as a 'miracle of deliverance'.”
  24. We shall fight on the beaches - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017. “Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”
  25. Operation Ariel - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017. “Operation Ariel (also Operation Aerial) was the name given to the World War II evacuation of Allied forces and civilians from ports in western France from 15–25 June 1940, following the military collapse in the Battle of France against Nazi Germany. It followed Operation Dynamo, the evacuation from Dunkirk and Operation Cycle, an evacuation from Le Havre, which finished on 13 June. British and Allied ships were covered from French bases by five Royal Air Force (RAF) fighter squadrons and assisted by aircraft based in England to lift British, Polish and Czech troops, civilians and equipment from Atlantic ports, particularly from St. Nazaire and Nantes.”
  26. This was their finest hour - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017. “But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour.”
  27. Bombing of Berlin in World War II - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017. “During 1940 there were more raids on Berlin, all of which did little damage. The raids grew more frequent in 1941, but were ineffective in hitting important targets. The head of the Air Staff of the RAF, Sir Charles Portal, justified these raids by saying that to 'get four million people out of bed and into the shelters' was worth the losses involved.”
  28. Never was so much owed by so many to so few - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017. “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
  29. Jim Bakker - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017. “In February 1991, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld Bakker's conviction on the fraud and conspiracy charges, but voided Bakker's 45-year sentence, as well as the $500,000 fine, and ordered that a new sentencing hearing be held.”
  30. Nancy Pelosi - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017. “She previously served as the 52nd Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011, the only woman to do so, and is to date the highest-ranking female politician in American history.”
  31. Patrick Stewart - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017. “In the 1980s, Stewart began working in American television and film, with roles such as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation and its successor films, as Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men series of superhero movies, the lead of the Starz TV series Blunt Talk, and voice roles such as CIA Deputy Director Avery Bullock in American Dad!. In 1993, TV Guide named Stewart the Best Dramatic Television Actor of the 1980s.[1] In 2010, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for services to drama.”
  32. Chuck Norris - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017. “Norris appeared in a number of action films, such as Way of the Dragon, in which he starred alongside Bruce Lee, and was The Cannon Group's leading star in the 1980s. He played the starring role in the television series Walker, Texas Ranger from 1993 until 2001. Norris is a devout Christian and politically conservative. He has written several books on Christianity and donated to a number of Republican candidates and causes. In 2007 and 2008, he campaigned for former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who was running for the Republican nomination for president in 2008.”
  33. Bruce Lee - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017. “known professionally as Bruce Lee, was a Hong Kong and American actor, martial artist, philosopher, filmmaker,[2] and founder of the martial art Jeet Kune Do. Lee was the son of Cantonese opera star Lee Hoi-Chuen. He is widely considered by commentators, critics, media, and other martial artists to be one of the most influential martial artists of all time,[3] and a pop culture icon of the 20th century.[4][5] He is often credited with helping to change the way Asians were presented in American films.”
  34. John Lennon - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017. “Two versions exist of how Lennon met Ono. According to the first, told by the Lennons, on 9 November 1966 Lennon went to the Indica Gallery in London, where Ono was preparing her conceptual art exhibit, and they were introduced by gallery owner John Dunbar.[168] Lennon was intrigued by Ono's 'Hammer A Nail': patrons hammered a nail into a wooden board, creating the art piece. Although the exhibition had not yet begun, Lennon wanted to hammer a nail into the clean board, but Ono stopped him. Dunbar asked her, 'Don't you know who this is? He's a millionaire! He might buy it.' Ono had supposedly not heard of the Beatles, but relented on condition that Lennon pay her five shillings, to which Lennon replied, 'I'll give you an imaginary five shillings and hammer an imaginary nail in.'”
  35. Ringo Starr - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017. “He occasionally sang lead vocals, usually for one song on an album, including 'With a Little Help from My Friends', 'Yellow Submarine' and their cover of 'Act Naturally'. He also wrote the Beatles' songs 'Don't Pass Me By' and 'Octopus's Garden', and is credited as a co-writer of others, including 'What Goes On' and 'Flying'.”
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 1940 in film - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017.
  37. 37.0 37.1 37.2 1940 in music - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017.
  38. Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse - YouTube (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017.
  39. Tacoma Narrows Bridge (1940) - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017. “Construction on the bridge began in September 1938. From the time the deck was built, it began to move vertically in windy conditions, which led to construction workers giving the bridge the nickname Galloping Gertie. The motion was observed even when the bridge opened to the public. Several measures aimed at stopping the motion were ineffective, and the bridge's main span finally collapsed under 40-mile-per-hour (64 km/h) wind conditions the morning of November 7, 1940.”
  40. Vought F4U Corsair - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017. “The Corsair was designed as a carrier-based aircraft but its difficult carrier landing performance rendered it unsuitable for Navy use until the carrier landing issues were overcome by the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. The Corsair thus came to and retained prominence in its area of greatest deployment: land based use by the U.S. Marines. The role of the dominant U.S. carrier based fighter in the second part of the war was thus filled by the Grumman F6F Hellcat, powered by the same Double Wasp engine first flown on the Corsair's first prototype in 1940.”
  41. McDonald's - Wikipedia (2017). Retrieved on 27 January 2017. “It was founded in 1940 as a barbecue restaurant operated by Richard and Maurice McDonald. In 1948, they reorganized their business as a hamburger stand, using production line principles.”

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