Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Blood Transfusion in Weird War 1

Blood transfusion is often cited as a major medical advancement of the First World War, and possible only because of innovations made shortly before the United States entered the war.

Transfusion at the Start of the 20th Century

Blood transfusion had been attempted throughout history but generally failed due to a variety of factors. Chief among these was the propensity of blood to clot, reducing its flow and clogging equipment used to transfer it. Blood could not be stored and needed to be administered as quickly as possible. By 1900, transfusions typically involved connecting blood vessels of donor and recipient using India rubber tubing. A method to suture blood vessels together was devised by Alexis Carrel in 1902 and improved by George Crile in 1905. These direct transfusion methods necessitated cutting through the skin to expose blood vessels. This required great surgical dexterity, could take two to three hours, and demanded that donor and patient lie quietly side-by-side lest the connections be disrupted. It was impossible to gauge how much blood actually passed from donor to patient, and clotting remained a major problem.

Severe, sometimes fatal, reactions occasionally occurred and most were due to blood group incompatibilities. Although ABO blood grouping was discovered in 1900 by Karl Landsteiner, it would be several years before its significance in transfusion was appreciated by most physicians. Given the difficulties and unexplained reactions, interest and trust in transfusion had significantly waned by the turn of the century, especially among European physicians.

Innovations in Transfusion, 1913-1915

However, interest in transfusion remained higher in the United States, and in the years preceding the war several key advances were made. By the early 1910s, a few physicians notably, Ludvig Hektoen in Chicago and W.L. Moss in Baltimore had begun to call for ABO blood group matching of donors and transfusion recipients. In New York, Reuben Ottenberg and Albert Epstein promoted a test combining blood from the donor and the patient a “cross-match.” Sadly, most physicians thought such tests unnecessary.

In 1913, A.R. Kimpton and J.H. Brown of Boston collected donor blood into a glass cylinder that had first been coated with a film of paraffin. If properly done, the paraffin’s smooth surface delayed clotting. Better still was the multiple syringe method devised that year by Edward Lindemann of New York. A highly-choreographed team kept syringes in constant motion from donor to patient. Importantly, they used sharp-pointed metal needles inserted through the skin directly into the veins, eliminating the need to expose the blood vessels by incision. Modifications replacing the syringes with tubing and stopcock devices simplified the process, making it possible for a single physician to perform a transfusion.

Blood Bottles

About 500 mL of blood was typically collected from each donor. Prior to transfusion, excess anticoagulant was removed and the blood poured into a new bottle, filtering it through a gauze plug to remove any clots or debris.

In 1914-1915, the use of sodium citrate anticoagulant was introduced independently by Albert Hustin in Belgium, Luis Agote in Argentina, and Richard Lewisohn in New York. The anticoagulant allowed blood to be stored for a few days and ended the need for donor and recipient to be in the same room. At the Rockefeller Institute in New York, Peyton Rous and J.R. Turner Jr. found that adding dextrose (sugar) to the citrate extended the storage time to four weeks.

When the war began in Europe, the few transfusions given by French and British doctors used older direct methods, such as Carrel’s anastomosis. These methods might work at hospitals behind the lines, but were too delicate for military operations. And, it was difficult to arrange sufficient donors and surgeons when multiple patients simultaneously required transfusion.

One of the greatest hazards of blood loss by the wounded was shock. Many British doctors initially preferred to treat shock with infusions of saline or of “Bayliss’ gummy solution” – a colloid preparation of gum arabic (from the sap of the Acacia tree), suggested by physiologist William Bayliss. When Canadian physicians joined the war in support of the British Empire, they brought with them the syringe and paraffin tube methods of blood transfusion. Notable among the Canadians was L. Bruce Robertson from Toronto, who had recently trained with Lindemann in New York and who published his wartime transfusion experiences in the British Medical Journal in 1916-17, highlighting the benefits of infusing blood. British interest was piqued.

The U.S. entry into the war in 1917 brought more physicians familiar with transfusion. Among them were Roger Lee and Oswald Hope Robertson, with Base Hospital No. 5 from Boston, where some of the leading proponents of transfusion worked. Before the war, Lee, an early advocate of blood grouping, had sent Robertson to work with Rous at the Rockefeller Institute. After arriving in France, Robertson was sent to the British 3rd Army Casualty Clearing Station to consult with them on transfusion. There he drew up plans for what many consider the world’s first blood bank. Initially, Robertson used citrated blood drawn into one liter glass bottles, converting ammunition boxes into shipping containers, with sawdust and ice packed around the bottles. He selected only group O blood donors, compatible with all other blood types, thus requiring no further testing. The citrated blood could only be stored a short time, but it allowed blood to be collected in advance of need. Robertson soon incorporated Rous and Turner’s dextrose into his bottles. Citrate and dextrose were sterilized separately, then mixed in a two liter bottle (the larger bottle necessitated by the volume of dextrose needed).

Robertson’s methods were so successful that by the end of the war he was conducting a school for blood transfusion, training teams from other medical units. Citrated blood (usually without dextrose) became the method of choice for most Allied medical forces, although paraffin tube and syringe methods (each with a variety of adaptations) were also widely used. Allied medical forces were issued standardized transfusion kits to carry into the field, allowing blood to be given even before transferring the injured to casualty clearing stations.

British Transfusion Kit
Kits designed by Geoffrey Keynes of the Royal Army Medical Corps generally did not use anticoagulants,so the blood was transfused soon after collection. After the war, Keynes co-founded London’s Blood Transfusion Service.

Not all transfused blood was group O. When time and facilities allowed, some donor blood was typed and “cross-matched” prior to transfusion. Lists of blood groups of camp personnel were maintained, to be summoned as donors were needed. Convalescing troops often volunteered as donors for more seriously wounded comrades.

Benefits of Transfusion

Using preserved blood allowed it to be stockpiled and ready when needed. A single officer, usually with one assistant, could give the blood quickly and at the patient’s bedside, without having to move him and the donor together into an operating room, thus freeing operation room space as well. In addition to treating shock, blood transfusion was also used successfully during surgical procedures and in treating carbon monoxide poisoning, septicemia, and chronic wound infections. The First World War introduced transfusion methods to more doctors and in more standardized procedures than might have occurred in peacetime, and convinced them of its benefits. When these physicians returned home, blood transfusion gained a new place in civilian medical practice.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

The Wipers Times for Weird War 1

The Wipers Times was a trench magazine that was published by British soldiers fighting in the Ypres Salient during the First World War.

In early 1916, the 12th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters, was stationed in the front line at Ypres, Belgium, and came across a printing press abandoned by a Belgian who had, in the words of the editor, "stood not on the order of his going, but gone." A sergeant who had been a printer in peacetime salvaged it and printed a sample page. The paper itself was named after Tommy slang for Ypres itself:

THE B.E.F. TIMES. with which are incorporated The Wipers Times, The "New Church" Times, The Kemmel Times & The Somme Times.

Publication was held up after February 1918 by the German offensive on the western front in that year, but at the end of the War two issues of "The Better Times" were published. The second of these was billed as the "Xmas, Peace and Final Number."

The names of the staff involved in the paper are mostly unrecorded. The editor was Captain (later Lieutenant-Colonel) F. J. Roberts (Frederick John Roberts), MC, the sub-editor was Lieutenant (later Lieutenant-Colonel) J. H. Pearson (John Hesketh ("Jack") Pearson), DSO, MC.   A notable contributor to the paper was Artilleryman Gilbert Frankau. Also worthy of note are the engravings by E.J. Couzens; his portrait of a chinless platoon commander clutching his cane and wondering "Am I as offensive as I might be?" became the paper's motif.

Most other contributors from the Division used pseudonyms: some now obscure; some intended to satirize contemporary newspaper pundits such as William Beach Thomas (of the Daily Mail) and Hilaire Belloc; and some ironic, such as P.B.I. (Poor Bloody Infantry).

The paper consisted of poems, reflections, wry in-jokes and lampoons of the military situation the Division was in. In general the paper maintained a humorously ironic style that today can be recognised in satirical magazines such as The Duffel Blog, Private Eye, Le Canard enchaîné and The Onion.

The covers of each issue were mock adverts, richly typeset, for war-related music-hall extravaganzas. A few samples (not richly typeset) are given below:

                       Cloth Hall.

               Great Attraction This Week
            Messrs. INFANTRY, ARTILLERY & Co.
          Present their Screamingly Funny Farce,


                  "DEAD COW FARM" CINEMA

                       THIS WEEK
                   GRAND OPENING NIGHT

                "HE DIDN'T WANT TO DO IT."

             "WATA FUNK" The Conscientious Objector.

                        OTHER ITEMS.
                  FLOUNDERS IN FLANDERS.
                    THE CALLANSEEUM
                  PALACE OF VARIETIES

                   "THE FLYING PIGS"

                 FILM FARCE, ENTITLED :-

                    "TICKLING FRITZ"
by the P.B.I. Film Co., of the United Kingdom and Canada

 BOOK EARLY.                             CHARGES MOBILE.
There were also sales of no-man's land:

                    BUILDING LAND FOR SALE

                         BUILD THAT HOUSE
                             HILL 60.
                     HISTORIC TOWN OF YPRES.

                     FOR PARTICULARS OF SALE
                       BOSCH & CO MENIN.
or the front-line at Ypres salient itself:

                            FOR SALE

                       THE SALIENT ESTATE
                    COMPLETE IN EVERY DETAIL

           Splendid Motoring Estate! Shooting Perfect !!
                         Fishing Good!!!
                    NO REASONABLE OFFER REFUSED,


            Delay is Dangerous! You might miss it!!
                  Apply for particulars etc., to
               Thomas, Atkins, Sapper & Co., Zillebeke
                            and Hooge.
The daily concerns of trench soldiers all make an appearance in the articles, sometimes explicit and sometimes as in-jokes for which outsiders would not have the key.

Shelling (whether from the enemy or one's own side): is referred to all through the magazine. There are occasional small ads purportedly from Minnie (German trench mortar) to Flying Pig (British ditto) and various poems complaining about, or apologising for, incidents where British guns shelled their own lines.

Sex: the collections of pornography known to the Division as "The Munque Art Gallery" and "Kirschner's" are frequently mentioned and occasionally advertised, as are the local brothels: the Fancies, the Poplar tree and Plug Street.

Drink: the continued supply of rum and whiskey was a prime concern for all at the front. In one serial story, Narpoo Rum, a certain 'Herlock Shomes' spent five issues tracking rum-thieves round Hooge. Brief references also turn up to panic buying of supplies by unnamed individuals in the Division after rumours of a whisky drought.

Rats: these bred in enormous numbers in the trenches, chiefly fed on corpses but with an eye for anything left in a dugout. One poem in the paper describes how a rat and his wife opened a tin of sardines, ate the contents then sealed the tin back up for the author to find.

The reality of life in the trenches rarely breaks through what the editor termed the paper's 'hysterical hilarity' but when it does, the gallows humour is clear and may appear callous to modern eyes. One example is a quote from an article in a British national newspaper about a bungled trench-raid, followed by a sharp comment from the editor of the Wipers Times:

"...They climbed into the trench and surprised the sentry, but unfortunately the revolver which was held to his head missed fire. Attempts were made to throttle him quietly, but he succeeded in raising the alarm, and had to be killed." This we consider real bad luck for the sentry after the previous heroic efforts to keep him alive.

Another such, from the column "Verbatim Extracts from Intelligence Summaries" reads as follows:

"At 10 p.m. the "Flying Pig" dropped a round in our front line at X 9 D 5 2. The trench was completely wrecked—the crater formed being 14 feet deep and 25 feet across. It is consoling to think that over 40 rounds have been fired from this gun into the enemy trenches during the last week."

(Very consoling to the P.B.I.)

Even the weather wasn't immune to it, if you wanted to lay odds on the forecasts:

5 to 1 Mist

11 to 2 East Wind or Frost

8 to 1 Chlorine.

Much of the copy submitted by soldiers of the Division was poetry. Some was good, some was doggerel and occasional pieces were excellent: but not all was welcome. The fourth issue contained this notice from the editor:

"We regret to announce that an insidious disease is affecting the Division, and the result is a hurricane of poetry. Subalterns have been seen with a notebook in one hand, and bombs in the other absently walking near the wire in deep communication with their muse. Even Quartermasters with "books, note, one" and "pencil, copying" break into song while arguing the point re "boots. gum, thigh". The Editor would be obliged if a few of the poets would break into prose as the paper cannot live by poems alone."

Nonetheless, much of the space in the paper was taken up by poems. Two typical examples are given below.

Realizing Men must laugh,

Some Wise Man devised the Staff : Dressed them up in little dabs Of rich variegated tabs : Taught them how to win the War On A.F.Z. 354 : Let them lead the Simple Life Far from all our vulgar strife : Nightly gave them downy beds For their weary, aching heads : Lest their relatives might grieve Often, often gave them leave, Decorations too, galore : What on earth could man wish more? Yet, alas, or so says Rumour,

He forgot a sense of Humour!
The world wasn't made in a day,
And Eve didn't ride on a bus, But most of the world's in a sandbag,
The rest of its plastered on us.

The paper is sprinkled with small paragraphs and half-column articles such as "People We Take Our Hats Off To" (frequently the French), "Things We Want to Know", "Answers to Correspondents" and small ads. Some were obviously spoofs:

LONELY PRESIDENT wishes correspond with anyone.

Can write charming note. Has corresponded with most of the crowned heads of Europe.-

Write "Dignitas,"Washington, U.S.A.
To Subaltern: Yes, every junior officer may carry a F.M.'s baton in his knapsack, but we think you'll discard that to make room for an extra pair of socks before very long.

TO LET-;Fine freehold estate in salubrious neighbourhood. Terms moderate. Owner going east shortly.-;Apply Bosch and Co., Messines.

While others were not for outsiders:

Things We Want To Know

The name of the celebrated infantry officer who appears daily in the trenches disguised as a Xmas tree.

How much money changed hands when it was known that he didn't get married on leave.

Whether a certain officer is shortly publishing a little song entitled "Why was I so careless with the boots."

To Troubled.-;Certainly think you have just complaint against people in the next dugout, and if you care to take the matter further there is no doubt you will get damages. It certainly was scandal if, as you affirm, the picture was one of Kirschner's.

We regret a further rise in property today.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Lieutenant Ecaterina Teodoroiu, Romanian heroine for Weird War 1

Ecaterina Teodoroiu (Romanian pronunciation: [ekateˈrina te.odoˈroju]; born Cătălina Toderoiu; January 15, 1894 - September 3, 1917) was a Romanian woman who fought and died in World War I, and is regarded as a heroine of Romania.

She was born in the village of Vădeni (nowadays part of Târgu Jiu), in the historical region of Oltenia, in the family of Elena and Vasile Toderoiu, both farmers. Cătălina had five brothers (Nicolae, Eftimie, Andrei, Ion, Vasile) and two sisters (Elisabeta and Sabina). After studying for 4 years in Vădeni and Târgu Jiu (at the Romanian-German Primary School) and graduating from the Girls' School in Bucharest, she was to become a teacher when the Romanian Kingdom entered World War I on the Allied side, in 1916.

A Scouts' member, she had initially worked as a nurse but she subsequently decided to become a front-line soldier, being deeply impressed by the patriotism of the wounded and the death of her brother Nicolae, Sergeant in the Romanian Army. It was an unusual decision for a woman of that epoch, so she was sent to the front rather reluctantly. However, with the support of the Romanian royal family, soon she proved her worthiness as a symbol and as a soldier.

Working as a nurse, on October 14 Ecaterina joined the civilians and the reserve soldiers fighting to repulse the attack of a Bavarian company of the 9th German Army at the bridge over the Jiu River, in front of Târgu-Jiu. Impressed by her bravery, the Royal Family invited Ecaterina to Bucharest on October 23.

On October 30, she went to the frontline to see her brother Nicolae, Sergeant in the 18 Infantry Regiment (Gorj), who was shortly killed afterwards, on November 1, by a shell during fighting near Porceni.

Wishing to avenge his brother's death, Ecaterina requested Colonel Obogeanu to be allowed to join the 18 Infantry Regiment as a volunteer. She would soon prove her military skills by using a ruse in order to avoid that her company, surrounded by the enemy, be taken prisoner.

Nevertheless, she was later captured during fighting on the Răşina-Peşteana-Tunşi heights on the night of November 3/4, 1916, but managed to escape with light wounds by killing with a concealed revolver the German soldier who was guarding her.  On November 6, Ecaterina was involved in the skirmishes close to Bărbătești and Țânțăreni.  Soon later, during fighting near Filiași she was wounded in both legs by a shell, evacuated to Craiova, then to Bucharest and later hospitalized at the "King Ferdinand" Military Hospital in Iași.

On January 23, 1917, she was released from the hospital and, previously having met Second Lieutenant Gheorghe Mănoiu (the brother of a former school colleague) in hospital, she requested to be allowed to join his 43/59 Infantry Regiment as a voluntary nurse.

For her bravery, she was awarded the "Scout Virtue" Medal and the Military Virtue Medal, 2nd Class, on March 10, 1917. On March 17, 1917, she was awarded the Military Virtue Medal, 1st Class, made honorary Second Lieutenant (Sublocotenent) by King Ferdinand and given the command of a 25-man platoon in the 7th Company (43/59 Infantry Regiment, 11th Division), commanded by Second Lieutenant Gheorghe Mănoiu.

Starting with April 25 (O.S.), the regiment was quartered in Codăești, Vaslui County. On August 4 (O.S.), the 43/59 Regiment, part of the reserve of the 1st Army led by General Eremia Grigorescu, prepared to join the upcoming offensive. On August 5 the regiment left Vaslui for Tecuci, crossed the Siret and camped in the Malta Seacă forest, close to the frontline.

On August 17, the commander of the 11th Division, General Ernest Broșteanu, kindly asked her to stay at the mobile hospital behind the front, but Second Lieutenant Teodoroiu strongly refused him, requesting to be allowed to join her platoon in the upcoming battle.

On August 20, the 43/59 Regiment dug in on the Secului Hill, in the Muncelu-Varnița area.

On September 3, 1917 (August 22 Old Style), the Romanian lines were attacked in force by the German 40th Reserve Regiment of the 115th Infantry Division. While leading her platoon in a counterattack, she was hit by machine gun fire in the chest (according to some accounts), or in the head (according to other accounts).  According to the General Order No. 1 issued the next day by Colonel Constantin Pomponiu, the commanding officer of the 43/59 Regiment, her last words before dying were: "Forward, men, don't give up, I'm still with you!"

Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d10, Strength d6, Vigor d6

Skills: Fighting d6, Intimidation d6, Knowledge (Battle) d8, Notice d8, Persuasion d8, Riding d4, Shooting d6

Charisma: +2; Pace: 6; Parry: 5; Sanity: 9; Toughness: 5

Hindrances: Deathwish (Die for Romania), Doubting Thomas, Stubborn

Edges:  Attractive, Command, Command Presence, Rank (Officer)

Gear: Uniform, canteen, steel helmet (+1), Ruby pistol (Range 12/24/48, Damage 2d6-1) with 36 rounds, gas mask.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The Battle of Lake Tanganyika for Weird War 1

Dec. 26, 2015, was the 100th anniversary of one of the strangest naval battles of the First World War, when an eccentric British officer who had married a woman from Victoria took on the German navy with two little boats on Lake Tanganyika. It was the culmination of an unusual expedition, in which the British rolled, floated and dragged their boats through the interior of Africa.

“Lieutenant Horn [of the cruiser Konigsberg] at once proceeded with a few seamen to Kigoma, where he manned and armed the small [60 tonne] steamer Hedwig von Wissmann. On Lake Tanganyika he chased the Belgian steamer [Alexandre] Del Commune, which he surprised and shot to pieces after a few days [Aug. 22, 1914], thereby securing to us the extremely important command of the lake. The ability to transfer troops from the Central Railway towards Bismarckburg or Usambara depended entirely upon unimpeded transport on [Lake] Tanganyika and played a part in the later course of the operations.”

My Reminiscences of East Africa, General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck (London: Hurst & Blackett, 1921, p. 34)

On April 21,1915, John R. Lee, a big game hunter and veteran of the Second Boer War in Africa, arrived at the Admiralty, in London, to warn of the armed German ships on Lake Tanganyika.

Moreover, he brought news the Germans were preparing to launch a new 1,600-tonne, armed ship, the Graf von Götzen. There was fear of a native uprising in Northern Rhodesia without a display of British power. As well, at the end of the war, possession of Lake Tanganyika would convey a commercial advantage.

The Admiralty was convinced by Lee and authorized the Naval Africa Expedition, under a quixotic naval officer, Geoffrey Spicer-Simson, culminating in the most bizarre naval engagement of the First World War.

Lt.-Cmdr. Geoffrey Spicer-Simson was a character. He took every opportunity to show off his arms and upper torso, which were thickly tattoed with snakes and butterflies. In 1902, he had married Amy Elizabeth, daughter of Edmund and Phoebe Baynes-Reed of Victoria.

In Africa he preferred to wear a khaki drill kilt rather than regulation pants or shorts. He had earned a reputation for misfortune. During the trials of the small gunboats for the expedition he managed to blow the cannon off the deck of Mimi. 

On the other hand, he was fluent in French and German, abilities handy for communications with the Belgians and Germans.

On June 3, 1915 a pair of small, mahogany motor gunboats, named Mimi and Toutou were loaded on the liner RMS Llanstephen Castle along with the 28 men and supplies of the Naval Africa Expedition for the 9,600-kilometre voyage to South Africa.

A month later, the gunboats were transferred to railroad flatcars at a dock in Cape Town. During the next three weeks the gunboats clickety-clacked 4,000 kilometres north across Bechuanaland, Rhodesia and Northern Rhodesia to the end of rail at Fungurume, in the Belgian Congo.

The gunboats were hoisted onto specially built cradles on wagons that were hauled by steam tractors, assisted by teams of oxen, into the Mitumba Mountains and across the Mitumba Plateau — a distance of about 240 kilometres. The men of the expedition, aided by hired native workers, had to hack a path through the forest, fill ravines and chop countless cords of firewood for the steam boilers.

Native women formed bucket brigades to carry water to the thirsty boilers from distant waterholes. The seamen were pestered by ticks, mosquitoes and tsetse flies; sickened with malaria, dysentery, hyperthermia and snow-blindness from the mica-rich soil; and battled for their lives against grass fires and severe lightning storms.

At Sankisia, the gunboats were transferred to railroad flatcars for the 30-kilometre trip to Bukama on the Lualaba River. The Lualaba was running low, so Mimi and Toutou had to be paddled 90 kilometres upstream, once running aground 14 times in just 20 kilometres which Spicer-Simson wryly speculated was “a record, I think, for HM ships.”

On Oct. 2, 1915, the gunboats were hoisted onto flatcars yet again for the 280-kilometre trip from Kabalo to Albertville on Lake Tanganyika.

The Battle of Lake Tanganyika commenced on Dec. 26, 1915, with Mimi and Toutou attacking and capturing the armed German tug Kingani. The Kingani was towed to the British base for repair, fitted with a 12-pound gun, and redeployed as HMS Fifi. The Kingani was the first German warship to be captured and transferred to the Royal Navy in the First World War. For this achievement, the Admiralty promoted Spicer-Simson to Commander.

On Feb. 8, 1916, the 60-tonne German steamboat Hedwig von Wissmann was attacked, peppered and sunk by Mimi, Fifi and an armed barge, Dix-Tonne. This engagement effectively concluded the naval battle for supremacy on Lake Tanganyika. The German ship Graf von Götzen was scuttled to prevent it falling into the hands of the enemy.

By late 1916, Spicer-Simson and most of the men of the expedition had returned to England. Spicer-Simson was a Royal Navy delegate and interpreter at the Paris Peace Conference in June 1919. Subsequently, he held the post of secretary general of the International Hydrographic Bureau in Monte Carlo until he retired to Courtenay in 1937, where he died on Jan. 29, 1947 age 71. 

Monday, 8 August 2016

Prince Mamuwalde AKA Blacula for Rippers: AD 1970

In 1780 European educated African Prince Mamuwalde returned to Europe, hoping to speak to the European heads of state as equals to end the slave trade that has been robbing his country of its citizens.

He met with resounding failure, but no failure will compare to what waits for him and his lovely wife Luva when they go to Transylvania and meet with ruling lord, Count Dracula.

Dracula, insulted by the African prince bit him and cursed him with immortality. He trapped the newly undead prince in a coffin and then sealed the coffin and Luva in a room. Mamuwalde was forced to listen as Luva died of starvation and he remained trapped; his bloodlust and revenge starved for nearly 200 years.

Dracula's castle, and its lands fell into decay, but in 1972, two enterprising interior designers (maybe hoping to make a few bucks on the Hammer Films craze) stole several of Dracula's possessions, including an ornately designed coffin. Back in Los Angeles the designers fatally discovered that their coffin is not empty at all and Mamuwalde, aka "Blacula" is loose on the streets.

Attributes: Agility d10, Smarts d10, Spirit d10, Strength d12+2, Vigor d10

Skills: Fighting d10, Intimidation d10, Notice d10, Persuasion d8, Spellcasting d10, Stealth d8, Streetwise d8

Cha: +2; Pace: 8; Parry: 8; Toughness: 13 (4)

Hindrances: Vengeful

Edges: Alertness, Arcane Background (Magic), Attractive, Block, Command, Elan, Fervor, First Strike, Fleet-Footed, Harder to Kill, Improved Dodge, Improved First Strike, Improved Frenzy, Improved Level Headed, Mighty Blow, Natural Leader, No Mercy, Quick, Rich, Strong Willed, Improved Sweep.

Powers: Beast friend, deflection (bat swarm), fly (levitation), puppet (penetrating gaze), obscure  (mist),and summon ally (wolves).

 Power Points: 30.

Gear: Coffin

Special Abilities:

Fear (–1): Anyone who sees Blacula must make a Fear check at –1.

Form Shift: As an action, Blacula can take the form of a wolf, bat, or cloud of mist.

Wall Walker: Blacula can walk up vertical or inverted surfaces at their normal Pace.

Druidism in Northern France for Weird War 1

Not for nothing is the region of Brittany known as the Land of Legends: its Celtic druidic heritage, medieval Arthurian tales and folklore of spirits and goblins make for a heady witch's brew. The landscape, too, plays a role: the moors and forests, standing stones and rugged coasts fire the imagination.

Megalithic sites such as Carnac have long been linked with the Celtic druidic cults, though their builders are now known to date from the earlier Neolithic period (around 5200-2200BC).

However, the first settlements in Brittany date from much earlier. Traces of fires and stone cutting have been found in areas in Morbihan and Finistère that were later covered by the sea when the Ice Age glaciers melted 10,000 years ago.

That perhaps gave rise to the legend of Ys (the subject of Edouard Lalò's opera Le Roi d'Ys). Ys was a fine town built by King Gradlon of Cornouaille for his pleasure-loving daughter Dahud in what is now the Bay of Douarnenez.

It was protected from the sea by a dike, to which the king kept the key around his neck. Dahud met a charming knight, who persuaded her to steal the key as the king slept. She gave it the knight, who was none other than the Devil, and he opened the dike and flooded the town.

The Celts arrived from central Europe in the middle of the first millennium BC and are the people most associated with Breton culture: each August, the Festival Interceltique de Lorient sees approaching a million visitors celebrate the music and culture of the "Celtic" lands Brittany, Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall and Wales, all of which retain languages from the period.

A druid revival dating to the 19th century also flourishes in Wales, Cornwall and Brittany.

The Gauls were Celts, with their gods and goddesses such as light god Belenos, thunder god Taranis or protector of the tribe Toutatis, familiar to readers of Asterix.

Strictly speaking, the first Bretons were Celtic refugees from Britain who fled Anglo-Saxon invaders. The area was called la Petite Bretagne (Little Brittany) from the British mainland, la Grande Bretagne.

Legend says King Arthur was a Briton who fought the Anglo-Saxons, ruled both Brittanies and will one day return to reunite them. Brittany is also said to be the home of tragic lovers Tristan and Iseut (Isolde), with some accounts making Tristan one of Arthur's knights.

Brocéliande, King Arthur and Excalibur

KING Arthur and his knights had many adventures in the Forest of Brocéliande, said to be today's Forest of Paimpont, and their exploits in the Dark Ages were sung by bards, then Welsh historian Geoffrey of Monmouth drew the tales together in History of the Kings of Britain in 1135.

He said Arthur was king of lands in France as well as Great Britain. Chrétien de Troyes, also in the 12th century, was among French writers who spread his fame.

The tourist office adviser in Tréhorenteuc, in the Forest of Paimpont, said: "The legend was born in Great Britain, around the 5th century, but it spread by word of mouth, notably because of the flight of the Celts to la Petite Bretagne. The best-known story is the meeting between Merlin and Viviane, the Lady of the Lake."

Some say the fairy Viviane gave Arthur his sword, Excalibur; other tales tell of how she guided the dying king to the magical Isle of Avalon; how she educated Lancelot after his father's death; or of the fateful consequences of the meeting with Merlin: she persuaded him to teach her magic in return for her love, but turned her new skills on him.

"Merlin and Viviane met in the Fountain of Barenton [west of the forest near a site called Folle Pensée: mad thought] and, out of love, he let himself be trapped in an invisible prison and can never leave. Legend says he is still
there, although there is a megalithic site called Merlin's Tomb, in homage to him."

Another story has it he, too, was born in the forest, and Breton folklorist DamEnora said: "His father was a demon and he was born ugly and covered with hair like an animal and only afterwards lost his hair."

One megalithic site is called l'Hotie de Viviane (Viviane's House), while people claim to have seen the underwater crystal palace Merlin built for Viviane at the Château de Comper's lake. The chateau houses the Centre de l'Imaginaire Arthurien legend site.

Merlin also taught magic to Morgan le Fay, Arthur's half-sister. Betrayed by a lover, she used to imprison unfaithful knights who passed through the forest in the Val sans Retour (Valley of No Return).

Only Lancelot, because of his faithful love for Queen Guinevere, could escape and break the enchantments that held them prisoner. At Le Pont du Secret (Bridge of the Secret), Guinevere admitted she loved him too, DamEnora said.

"There are many valleys where the countryside creates a feeling of mystery," the tourist office adviser said. "People who walk in the forest say the scenery itself makes you dream."

A more recent tourist sight is L'Or de Brocéliande, a tree covered in gold leaf that commemorates a forest fire. "It represents the precious nature of the forest," she said.

Celtic druids are remembered in Christian rites

THE Celtic priesthood of druids are long gone: mainly known from Roman authors and archaeological finds, they have inspired several contemporary groups, of which the best-known French one is the Breton Gorsedd, founded in the 18th
century. It is affiliated to the Welsh group that runs the national Eisteddfod.

With no explicit pagan beliefs, Breton druids say theirs is a philosophy of life compatible with various faiths, or none. They meet for ceremonies on occasions such as the solstices, equinoxes and the Celtic festivals of Samhain,
Beltane and Imbolc. There is also a celebration of Breton culture in July, the Gorsedd Digor, which the public can attend.

Ancient druids worshipped a Celtic pantheon and believed in an afterlife called le Monde Blanche (the White World), from which one would be reincarnated. Julius Caesar said their rites included human sacrifice.

Current Breton Grand Druide Per Vari Kerloc'h said the stories may be true, but those killed were thought to have been criminals.

"The person who abolished human sacrifice in Gaul was [politician] Robert Badinter [in 1981]. In the last years, the executions were discreet, but until end of the 19th century were held in public," he said.

The druids are thought to have worshipped in forest groves and in wooden temples similar to Greek or Roman ones, Mr Kerloc'h said.

"There have been excavations at Gaulish temples in the north and in Belgium, which were linked to a warrior cult. War trophies were found and, we think bodies of enemies were placed in them to rot, and their bones kept, like in an

The mountain Mané Guen at Guénin, Morbihan, is especially associated with the druids. Mr Kerloc'h said: "It was one of the sacred places of the Venates, the Gaulish tribe that lived there, and people imagine there were sacrifices there. A chapel was built there to Christianise a Celtic holy place.

"Locronan, Finistère, was linked with them and is a place of Christian pilgrimage, which replaced a druidic cult based on the Celtic calendar. The stopping places on the Troménie pilgrimage are linked to annual cycles. We reestablished
our own version, which we do before the Catholic one, with our own rituals."

Mr Kerloc'h said his group did not claim to reconstruct Celtic practices. "Our relationship with the ancients is a symbolic one. Our rituals take place in nature, in the open air, in connection with the cycles of nature and of the cosmos. Man is part of nature and that is why we pay homage to it and believe that we must preserve it to preserve ourselves. It is a question of survival and respect of that which sustains our lives."

He said the Romans started to suppress the druids, but the worship of Celtic gods continued, integrated alongside the Roman ones. The process was finished after Christianisation, when Catholicism became the official religion, he said.

"They used the secular power of Rome to forbid other beliefs. At least that is the official story, but you can't get rid of a whole way of thinking just like that. We think the druidic traditions continued and some were Christianised, such as All Saints' Day and the Day of the Dead (November 1 and 2), which is based on the Celtic Samhain.

"Saint Brigid's Day in February is a festival of lights that is an adaptation of the worship of fire goddess Brigid, whose cult was especially popular at Kildare in Ireland. So some things were perpetuated in a new form. We see it particularly in the cult of the saints: in Catholic dogma, there is only one god, but many practices treat them like little gods.

"We believe druidic traditions have been passed down in folk practices and legends, more or less Christianised. They are enough to legitimise groups such as ours, based on folk traditions, not fantasies."

Menhirs, burial mounds and the fertility cults

PREHISTORIC sites are dotted all over Brittany, including upright single stones (menhirs), structures with a long stone on top of two upright ones (dolmens), alignments, tumuli (burial mounds) and cairns.

Carnac, in Morbihan, is the best-known megalithic site. It has 3,000 standing stones, dating from around 5000BC to 3000BC. Its alignments may have pointed to sacred spaces, although legend says St Cornély turned marching Roman soldiers into stone as they chased him.

Dolmens and cairns, however, are known to have had burial functions, because bones and offerings have been found inside, said Emmanuelle Vigier, director of the Carnac Prehistory Museum.

"At Carnac, one ancient monument, the Tumulus Saint-Michel, is comparable to the pyramids. It is a hill, an immense construction, with a single tomb. High-value jade items were found inside it.

"When it comes to the single menhirs or alignments, the function is less certain, but we know building and erecting them would have taken a huge workforce and, unlike the earlier nomadic hunter-gatherers, there had to have been a village, a social grouping with a hierarchy.

"They had started to build permanent houses and have agriculture and to raise animals. They made monumental tombs because they were going to stay."

Ms Vigier added: "With so many monuments at Carnac, it must have been an important, rich European centre in the 5th millennium BC. Valuable objects from Italy, Spain and Portugal have been found. It is thought its wealth was based on the salt trade. It was a kind of New York of its time. The whole of Carnac is on granite and most of the megaliths were made from stone from within a few hundred metres. The material was there, ready to use."

Druid Per-Vari Kerloc'h said they have been associated with standing stones since the Romantic period (early 19th century) and they sometimes hold ceremonies at such sites. It is no longer believed the megalithic structures were built for the druids, but they would have used them, because they retained a tradition as a link to the supernatural.

Mr Kerloc'h said: "Through the ages, the megaliths have always been used and associated with certain traditions; they are more than just part of the scenery. They are often associated with cults of fertility. The [phallic] symbolism
of menhirs is fairly obvious, and women used to go and rub their stomachs against them. In Locronan, women used to lie on a megalith to be made fertile by the rising sun."

Watch out for the Little People: they're unfriendly

FOLKLORE is full of the Little People, with fairies, elves and the korrigans. DamEnora (http://damenoraconteusebroceliande.unblog.fr) said: "The korrigans are the best-known.

"Children see them as cute little imps, but they are actually nasty little buggers that are very capricious. People claim to have seen them. They are our rascally side we keep hidden and pretend does not exist."

"They are not pretty, unlike the elves, but even elves are not always friendly; the Little People generally are not, apart from the Parisette, a sweet fairy, about 20cm high who goes around in the nude.

"She protects walkers in the forest from creatures like a monster that lives in the lakes and will grab you by the foot if you go too close. There is also the Pouka, a witch/devil that lives in cemeteries. She will, very nicely, suck out your blood without batting an eyelid."

DamEnora said a character unique to Brittany is the Ankou, Death's servant. "If one night you are sitting at home and you hear a cart going by, don't go out. It's the Ankou who has come for your soul; if you go out, he'll put you on your cart.

"He's a thin, bony character with a big black cloak and a big felt hat shading his empty eyes. He points his crooked finger at you and calls, and you have to obey."

Sometimes, she added, he hides in empty houses and waits for a passer-by. "If you see a glimmer of light. even though there is no on there, and the door is ajar, don't go in.

"Old people, and some young people, still believe in him. Old people will not go out if they hear an owl cry, because it represents death.

"People would nail a dead owl to the door of their house to scare death and bad luck away. On certain nights if you knock at a door, people will not answer, not to be unfriendly, but because they are afraid."

Friday, 5 August 2016

The Importance of Oil in Weird War 1

In World War I, the mobility of troops was of major strategic importance. New transportation means like trucks, as well as war planes, submarines and tanks, which began to revolutionize warfare between 1914 and 1918, were driven by oil-based fuel. By controlling more than 70 percent of the world-wide petroleum production, the Entente powers had a decisive military advantage.

Floating to Victory on a Wave of Oil

Judging by the statements of leading representatives of the Entente powers, petroleum was the factor that decided the Great War. According to the French economist Francis Delaisi (1873–1947), the victory of 1918 was simply the triumph of the Allied truck over the German railway – the first being driven by fuel and combustion engines, the second by coal. Lord George Curzon's (1859-1925) speech on the topic, held during the first post-war session of the Inter-Allied Petroleum Conference on 23 November 1918, was no less enthusiastic: "The Allies floated to victory on a wave of oil."

If these conclusions seem exaggerated, there is no doubt that the control of strategic resources, including petroleum, had a decisive influence on the outcome of World War I. With the exception of Great Britain and the United States, all warring parties realized quite late that motor vehicles and fuel would become factors of military importance. They neither established strategic oil reserves before August 1914, nor did they make serious efforts to raise the oil production in their own area of influence. With the advancement of the war, this failure would come back to haunt the Central Powers and their allies.

The Oil Production and its Military Use before 1914

In the decades after the discovery of the first important oil field (1859, Titusville/USA), petroleum was almost exclusively used to fuel lamps. With the invention of cars driven by combustion engines (Benz, 1886) and the electric light (Edison, 1880) on the one hand, and advances in petrochemistry on the other hand, oil began to lose its original function. Since 1900, steam boilers and machines of different kinds had increasingly been fueled by petroleum products. Motor vehicles, airplanes and tanks could only be driven with gasoline. Railways and industrial machines needed oil as lubricant. Asphalt – an oil residue – began to play an essential role in street building. Trinitrotoluol (TNT) that could be produced on the basis of chemicals distilled from stone coal or oil served as explosive charge in grenades and torpedoes. The English production of TNT largely depended on oil.

While Germany, aiming at resource-autonomy, used coal to run its railways and fleet, the British Navy had switched to oil combustion in 1910, thereby increasing its operating distance and speed, but also its dependence upon oversea supplies.

Among the warring parties, only the United States and Russia could count on a sufficiently high domestic oil production. While Great Britain made considerable efforts to open up new oil fields in Persia and India, the French, Italian and German petroleum demand was almost entirely covered by imports. Although the Austro-Hungarian Empire disposed of an oil industry of its own in Galicia, it was unable to meet the demand of the Central Powers; moreover, the Austrian oil fields lay within the operational radius of the Russian armies. The Ottoman Empire, for its part, made no serious effort to develop its oil fields in Mesopotamia and the Arab peninsula. Romania's petroleum production was slightly higher than the Austrian and was largely absorbed by the German demand before 1914. If we add the output of the rising Mexican oil industry (dominated by US investors) to the strategic reserves of its northern neighbor, the United States controlled about 70 percent of the world's petroleum production at the outbreak of the war.

The Role of Petroleum during World War I

The wars of 1866 and 1870/1871 were at least in part decided by the German army’s ability to move large troop contingents over great distances thanks to a well organized railway system. Consequently, this means of transport played a key role in German war strategies before 1914. The Schlieffen Plan was based upon wide ranging army movements in the west that had to be executed as fast as possible; the massive deployment of Russian troops in the east could only be thwarted with the rapid transfer of troops by train from one front to another. Having arrived at the train station nearest to their final destination, soldiers had to walk with all their military equipment to reach the combat zone. That trucks might help to bridge the – often large – gap between the railway and the front was an idea that took hold much later. In 1914, neither motor vehicles nor airplanes played an important role in the strategic planning of the German High Command. Due to the fact that German railways were driven by coal, oil-based fuel was not a matter of interest when the management of strategic resources was established in 1914.

Even as the Western Front began to freeze in autumn 1914, mobile warfare became more and more important. From that time on, all efforts of the Entente powers and Germany aimed either at concentrating superior forces at one point of the front for a massive breakthrough or at strengthening their own side to thwart such intentions. This was only possible by quickly moving important troop contingents from one part of the front to another without being detected by the respective enemy – a logistical challenge that could only be met with adequate transportation facilities. The dense French highway system allowed the Entente powers to use trucks to transport troops and supply, thereby gaining a flexibility that the Germans lacked. When the United States, which produced trucks on an industrial scale, finally entered the war, this effect was drastically strengthened. In the last offensives of 1918, the mobility of the Allied troops almost entirely depended on motor vehicles and therefore on North American oil.

If airplanes played only a minor role at the outbreak of the war, they soon became an essential means of reconnaissance of the enemy's hinterland. Their number increased accordingly: Germany could count on 252 front-airplanes in 1914 and on 5,000 in 1918 despite all losses; in the same period, the French military aviation made a jump from 132 to 12,000 airplanes. Depending on the war theatre, the Allied air superiority ranged from 3:1 to 10:1. This predominance reflects the outstanding performance of Allied refineries whose fuel production far outclassed their German counterparts.

In the years before 1914, the initiatives of German chemists to counteract future oil shortages by developing methods to convert coal into fuel had made considerable advances, while the breakthrough to synthetic fuel production on an industrial scale failed to appear until the mid-1920s. The Silesian scientist Friedrich Bergius (1884-1949) - the leading expert in the field - discovered the physico-chemical process for coal hydrogenation under high pressure, which allowed him to file a first patent in May 1913 and continue his work as research director of Theodor Goldschmidt's (1817-1875) petroleum refinery company in Essen. However, the industrial implementation of his invention met numerous obstacles and had no military importance before 1918. Nevertheless, the Bergius-Pier process - the advanced version of his method of coal liquefaction - later became the basis for the mass production of synthetic fuel under the "Third Reich".

Astonishingly enough, the conquest or destruction of the respective enemy's oil production had no strategic priority for any warring party when the war broke out. In the debates on the origins of World War I, the Baghdad Railway, whose construction started in 1903, is sometimes interpreted as a German attempt to gain control of the Mesopotamian oil resources; this hypothesis seems to be refuted today. There was no forward-looking German oil policy of pre-war times carried forward by the High Command after 1914. The Turkish efforts to seize or destroy the Anglo-Persian oil facilities remained a war episode without consequences. When the Central Powers and the Entente tried to convince Romania to join their respective alliance, the country's oil fields certainly played an important role. In contrast, the Russian troops did not pay much attention to the Austrian petroleum facilities when they conquered Galicia. The German and Turkish competing efforts to gain control of the Russian oil fields of Baku ("Kaspi-Unternehmen", 1918) with the intention of breaking the Anglo-American petroleum monopoly, came too late to have any effect on the outcome of the war.