Danish National Second World War Memorial, Copenhagen

Moving on from the memorials to individual soldiers from Denmark I found the Memorial I had spotted from the Gefion Fountain.

King’s Gate entrance to the Kastellet behind:-

Danish National Second World War Memorial, Copenhagen

The Memorials’ inscriptions are Vore Faldne (Our Fallen) followed by,

I Dansk og I Allieret Krigstjeneste 1940-1945 (In Danish and in Allied War Service 1940-1945) and then,

Rejst af det Danske Folk. (Raised by the Danish People.)

Danish National World War 2 Memorial

Reelin’ In the Years 161: Such a Night. RIP Dr John

Last week Dr John died.

In his early years known as The Night Tripper, he never troubled the UK charts much. (At all? Well a no. 54 with Right Place, Wrong Time).

I featured Marsha Hunt’s version of Walk on Gilded Splinters – a song from Dr John’s first album Gris Gris – in Friday on my Mind 11.

Hunt’s single was weird enough but Dr John’s original – as I Walk on Guilded Splintersis even eerier.

Here’s Dr John playing Such a Night live.

Dr John: Such a Night

Malcolm John Rebennack (Dr John:) 20/11/1941 – 6/6/2019. So it goes.

2019 Clarke Award Shortlist

I see the short list for this year’s Arthur C Clarke Award has been announced. I missed it at the time as I was away.

The list is:-

Semiosis by Sue Burke (HarperVoyager)
Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi (Oneworld)
The Electric State by Simon Stålenhag (Simon & Schuster)
Rosewater by Tade Thompson (Orbit)
The Loosening Skin by Aliya Whiteley (Unsung Stories)

I’ve read none of them but note the Tade Thompson was on the BSFA Award list this year (despite doubts as to its eligibility – which would apply equally to the Clarke Award I’d have thought.)

Also on both lists is the Yoon Ha Lee. Having read his Ninefox Gambit I have to say I’m depressed by this.

Individual War Memorials, Copenhagen

From the top of Copenhagen’s Gefion Fountain looking over the canal/moat round the Kastellet (first picture in that post) I could see off to the left in the middle distance what looked very much like a War Memorial, so made my way in that direction.

However, on the way down towards it, after passing St Albans Kirke, I came across three memorials to individual Danes.

Memorial to Thomas Dinesen. Private Dinesen, 1899-1979, became a member of the Quebec Regiment of the Canadian Black Watch, and was awarded the Victoria Cross in World War 1 on 12th August 1918. Inscribed “Opført af de Allierdes Danske Vaabenfæller.” (Constructed by the Allied Danes brothers in arms?):-

Memorial to Thomas Dinesen, Copenhagen

Memorial to Anders Lassen. Born on 9/9/1920, Major Lassen won the Victoria Cross, Military Cross and two bars. Inscribed, “Faldet for danmarks frihed i allieret tjeneste,” (fallen for Denmark’s freedom in Allied Service) “9 April 1945,” and also “Opsat af frihedkampens veteraner (erected by the veterans of the fight for freedom) 9/4/1987.”

Memorial to Anders Lassen, Copenhagen

Kaj Birksted Memorial. Per Ardua ad Astra, Wing Commander Flying, Lieutenant-Colonel Birksted, DSO, OBE, DFC, krigskorset m Sverd og Stjerne p p (the war cross with swords and star) Flying Ace. Erected by the Kaj Birksted Committee, 5/5/2010:-

Kaj Birksted Memorial, Copenhagen

And We Shall Shock Them by David Fraser

The British Army in the Second World War.

Sceptre, 1983, 431 p, plus ii p Contents, iii p Author’s Preface, i p Acnowledgements, i p List of maps.

 And We Shall Shock Them cover

The essence of this book is that it was written by a military historian who was an army man. It leans more towards a reader who has a similar background than to a wider readership.

Fraser starts on November 11th, 1918, at the end of a previous war for which the British Army had been totally unprepared (at least in terms of numbers of men) when it broke out. Yet by the Armistice the Army had turned itself into the best in the world at that time, surpassing even the Germans, who still remained formidable opponents until the last shots were fired. But during the peace all that expertise was lost, the military lessons of the Great War forgotten, and the Army became a kind of Cinderella organisation, unloved, underfunded, underequipped, and – crucially – undertrained. (That there were understandable reasons for this in a lack of public willingness to contemplate the horrors of war again so soon after what was such a massive disruption affecting so many, not to mention a political realm not keen to go against the prevailing mood, Fraser seems to discount.) It should be noted, though, that in Germany and Japan no such considerations obtained.

Seen in that context, however, the defeats the British Army endured in all theatres of war in World War 2’s early stages are not at all surprising. The mild alarm the Germans experienced at Arras in 1940, the triumphs in Somalia and Abyssinia and at Beda Fomm against the Italians (far from the fight-shy caricature of British popular myth,) speak well of the Army’s efforts to overcome its disadvantages, as does the initial victory over Rommel of Operation Crusader in the Western Desert before that instinctive military gambler turned things round again and pushed the Desert Army all the way back to El Alamein. Yet here Rommel was stopped – and could not force a way through. The less said about Malaya the better, a catalogue of bad administration, bad decisions and faulty deployments.

The book’s subtitle is The British Army in the Second World War and deals exclusively with what was called the British Army yet brought out the curious fact that for four years between mid-1940 and mid-1944 very few actual British soldiers fought the Germans or Japanese. The campaigns in Greece, Crete, the Western Desert and subsequently Italy were conducted mainly by Australian, New Zealand, South African but above all Indian, Divisions. While there were some British and Australian soldiers involved this last is especially true, with the addition of Burmese troops, of the war against the Japanese in the Far East.

The book is relentlessly focused on the military aspects of the war – wider strategic or political considerations are totally absent – and suffused with the usual military jargon and alphabet soup of Corps, Divisions, Brigades etc. If a little too concentrated on the war’s early phases, as an overview of the “British” Army from 1939-1945 it serves well.

In the Author’s Preface he says, “the taking of Rangoon redeemed Singapore, as Dunkirk was avenged by the crossing of the Rhine.” This may be true in a purely military sense (the sight of a Japanese army streaming back in defeat in dribs and drabs through the jungles of Burma represented an undoubted victory over notoriously tenacious opponents) but politically, strategically, and in terms of prestige nothing could redeem Singapore. Its fall in 1941 signalled the end of Britain as a world power – and the end of Empire – even if that was not fully confirmed until the Suez Crisis of 1956.

Pedant’s corner:- “against one of the most efficient and competently led war machines that have ever taken the field” (that has ever taken the field,) “the raiding party parachuted in, achieved their objective” (its objective.) “Men began to believe, in Britain, that the ultimate challenge was not going to be thrown down after all – that England would not be trod by the foot of the invader.” (England? In a narrow sense I suppose so, but it is still irritating,) “while the Italian were well furnished with pack companies” (Italians,) “a large number of anti-tank guns were deployed” (a large number of anti-tank guns was deployed,) lefthand (left hand,) Corps’ (this varied with Corps’s throughout the book, though the former usually prevailed,) “the whole of 11th Division were behind the Perak River” (the whole was behind.) “This was the route the enemy were to take” (the route the enemy was to take,) “in the most important equipments” (equipments? Normal usage sees “equipment” as encompassing plural items,) “armed with 75mm gun” (with a 75 mm gun.) “A number of small German counter-attacks were defeated” (strictly; a number was,) Scoones’ (Scoones’s,) “the British Army’s contribution to the great adventure – thirteen divisions – were being blooded for the first time,” (the British Army’s contribution to the great adventure – thirteen divisions – was being blooded,) Horrocks’ (Horrocks’s.) “Facing Second Army, as far as was known, were a hotchpotch of” (was a hotchpotch,) “25th Division were only secure at Kangaw” (25th Division was only secure at Kangaw.)

The Kastellet, Copenhagen

The Kastellet (citadel) is a military bastion near Copenhagen harbour.

This view of the canal that surrounds it was taken from the Gefion Fountain (previous post.) The winged structure just to the left of upper centre was actually our ship’s funnel:-

Defensive Military Canal, Kastellet, Copenhagen

The water and banked earth round the Kastellet reminded me of Naarden in The Netherlands.

This is a view of the moat from the exit bridge nearer the harbour:-

Kastellet Military Canal, Copenhagen

As is this, looking in the opposite direction:-

Kastellet Canal, Copenhagen

Right by that exit bridge bridge this bird was nesting. It refused to lift its head so that I could get a good photo:-

Nesting Bird by Kastellet, Copenhagen

Gefion Fountain, Copenhagen

This impressive fountain is quite near to Copenhagen harbour.

Gefion Fountain, Copenhagen


Detail, Gefion Fountain, Copenhagen

Gefion Fountain from above (St Alban’s Kirke to right rear):-

Gefion Fountain, Copenhagen from Above

Gefion Fountain and St Alban’s Kirke:-

Gefion Fountain and St Alban's Kirke, Copenhagen

Fountain upper detail:-

More Detail, Gefion Fountain, Copenhagen

Video of fountain from below. (Click on picture to get to video):-

Video Gefion Fountain, Copenhagen

Video from higher up:-

More of Gefion Fountain, Copenhagen

Close-up video:-

Detail, Gefion Fountain, Copenhagen

Stephan’s Quintet

A beautiful picture from Astronomy Picture of the Day for 3/6/2019.

Stephan’s Quintet, five galaxies appearing in close proximity from our perspective. Only the four redder ones are really close to each other though – so close they interfere with each others’ structures.

Stephan's Quintet

Truth дnd Feдr by Peter Higgins

Orbit, 2014, 366 p.

 Truth дnd Feдr cover

I wasn’t too taken with Higgin’s scenario in the first volume of his trilogy, Wolfhound Century. However, I realised early on on our recent cruise that I would probably be a touch short of reading matter and so was pleased to find this in the ship’s library, especially as I have the third book on my tbr pile.

Following on from the death of the Vlast’s leader, the Vorozhd, in the previous book, Vissarion Lom and Maroussia Shauman are continuing their search for the Pollandore, while trying to dodge the attentions of the Vlast’s security forces. Its security chief Lavrentina Chazia, who has designs on full power, has the Pollandore in confinement in the Lodya. Chazia has discovered that while her focus has been on supernatural eminences a secret project on the remote province of Novaya Zima has produced a technological weapon of devastating power. This project she hijacks by eliminating its instigator. In line with the book’s “Russian” background there are some scenes here which seem to be based on the Great Patriotic War. As the Vlast’s war with the Archipelago has not been going well and its forces are now capable of bombing the capital, Mirgorod, this new weapon shapes up to be a timely development.

Lom and Shauman are arrested but then broken free due to the intervention of shapechanger Antoninu Florian – a kind of supercharged werewolf. But Shauman is recaptured. Lom and Florian chase her down to Novaya Zima to where Chazia has taken her. Meanwhile the supernatural entity, Archangel, whose thoughts are rendered in italics is pursuing the Pollandore in order to destroy it. When the old hierarchy abandons Mirgorod, Josef Kantor takes charge in the guise of General Rhizin and puts the new technology to terrible use.

Higgins writes well and knows how to keep the reader turning the pages yet despite copious incidents there is a sense in this volume of marking time. Among other things, Elena Cornelius and her children are left hanging. There is, of course, that third instalment of Higgins’s trilogy to go but I am now intrigued enough by Higgins’s scenario not to leave it too long.

Pedant’s corner:- “the taste of … benzine” (no such usage in English now exists; benzene, yes, but that’s not meant here. Petrol possibly was.) “Lom had to listen the message three times” (listen to the message,) “spread out a chart out” (only one “out” needed,) “a group of seamen were playing cards” (a group of seamen was playing cards,) “just to breath it” (breathe it,) “folding his unconscious and desperately injured body in her arms” (holding makes more sense,) “to not let him die” (not to let him die,) epicentre (Sigh. it was a centre, not an off-centre,) “radios,.gramophones” (an extraneous full stop there.) “They saw women in overalls and headscarves worked at asssembly lines” (working at assembly lines.) “The hour hand on Lom’s watched crept” (watch.)

Amaliehaven, Copenhagen

Amaliehaven is a relatively new (1983) park near the Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen:-

Concrete Roof Garden by Amalienborg Palace, Copenhagen

From it you could see these onion domes. Onion domes are unusual for Denmark I’d have thought. By searching Google Maps I discovered the building they belong to is on a street called Bredgade. Apparently it is the Alexander Nevsky Church, the only Russian Orthodox Church in the city:-

Onion  Domes, Copenhagen

There are more images of the church here. It would not look out of place in St Petersburg.

This rather grand looking frieze on Toldbodgade seemed to be over an underground car park. The inscription seems to read “Konge May Told Kammer” (King May Customs House?) and below that Anno 1733.:-

Frieze, Copenhagen

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