Saturday, January 4, 2020

Avalon Chronicles #107: Casualties of Wars-No Bugles and No Parades

Avalon Chronicles #107: Casualties of Wars-No Bugles and No Parades

by Allen B. Clark

The stories below are for mature readers only! They are graphic, heart-rending, and sad, but, truthful as to what combatants and civilians have faced in warfare. Those, who start the wars, do not experience what is experienced by the young, who carry out orders to shoulder their weapons and march off!

Source: My third book, self-published, is Soldiers' Blood and Bloodied Money Wars and the Ruling Elites (fall 2019). My research as to the true causes of wars through history has also documented the most remarkable casualties caused by these wars. The references for the rendering of the casualties in the American Revolution, Civil War, and Spanish-American War are sourced as to the page of my book abbreviated to SBBM. The original sources are in my notes. The sources for casualties in the Anglo-Boer and Russo-Japanese War are in an unpublished volume. For the other ensuing conflicts the anecdotes are listed by original source. If no source is indicated, the source is personal stories related to me or known by me. Very few history books mention the horrendous casualties to combatants and collateral damage to civilians.

My own wounding in the Vietnam War caused amputation of both my legs below the knees, fifteen months in an Army hospital, twenty surgeries, and a severe bout of Combat Operating Stress, resulting in a fourteen week residence in a closed psychiatric ward in 1968. I am a casualty of war and the examples of casualties of wars as documented herein are near and dear to my heart. I am healed by the grace of God and the power of Jesus Christ in my life. Be aware I have needed no psychotherapy nor anti-depressants since the mid-1970s.

American Revolution: At Fort Ticonderoga "There was no food and sick, starved men went down in the snow and the lean timber wolves came and snarled around them and tore away their flesh before they were quite dead. Then famine and disease began to thin further the ranks at Ticonderoga....They died by the dozen, clutching their blankets helplessly for more warmth, and then got packed out in the snow, like so many cold-storage hogs, awaiting burial when spring should thaw the ground." (SBBM: 286). In the Northwest Territories the British conducted warfare by some Native American tribes. This resulted in a "war" described, "Slash, torture, wreck!...Burn the villages. Destroy the crops. Kill men, women, and children indiscriminately....It was a reign of terror. It was a reign of axes, of children with their arms and legs cutoff." (SBBM: 276).

Civil War: The aftermath of a battle in West Virginia, "Around was a sickening sight. Along the brink of that bluff lay ten bodies, stiffening in their own gore, and every contortion, which their death-anguish had produced....One poor fellow was shot through the bowels. The ground was soaked with his blood...Another young man, just developing into vigorous manhood, had been shot through the head by a large mini ball. The skull was shockingly fractured. His brains were protruding from the bullet-hole, and lay spread on the grass by his head. He was still living!...The glassy eyes of the dead were all open;..." (SBBM: 330). It was my honor to serve the Department of Veterans Affairs as the director of the national cemetery system. At the Salisbury, NC. national cemetery I personally viewed a huge expanse of ground covered by mowed green grass, and was informed that this was the mass grave site of Union prisoners who died of illness and lack of food in the camp. "The records (at Salisbury) indicate that 11,700 men are buried in 18 trenches, each about 240 feet long,...In the northern POW camp at Camp Douglas, in Chicago, Illinois, there were reports of its own share of horrendous conditions concerning Confederate POWS, which were estimated to account for 23% of the population....the atrocities that occurred in [Douglas] were even more heinous than those at Andersonville...Deaths were due to 'typhoid, diphtheria, smallpox, cholera, tuberculosis, dysentery, and measles.' Some of the dead were disposed of in Lake Michigan." (SBBM: 331).

Spanish-American War: Physician General Leonard Wood discovered in Cuba, "At every turn, emaciated, 'ghastly-looking' people dragged aimlessly in search of a patch of shade. All about, 'poisoning the air with foul exhalations,' lay the rotting carcasses of dead animals piled among heaps of decomposing garbage, dung, and filth....The dead were piled up on the outskirts and burned." (SBBM: 369). For our own troops, "The cavalry had no horses, the horses had no saddles, and the infantry had no shoes. Sometimes the men had no food and sometimes what food they had killed them. Rations put in tin cans gave whole companies ptomaine poisoning. Troops in the tropical heat of Cuba found themselves clad in woolen uniforms...For every man killed in action, thirteen died of disease." (SBBM: 371). After the war our troops were hospitalized at Camp Wicoff, a so-called "hospital," built on Long Island. It became, "...another place for our men to die upon their return from Cuba." It was described as follows: 'There wasn't an ample supply of potable water, and almost no food...There are no board floors in (the tents), but strips of canvas are spread on the ground and the men lie on them with their own uniforms for pillows and army blankets for covering. The men are pale and wasted." (SBBM: 370).

Anglo-Boer War in South Africa: "The true tragedies of the Boer war were the 27,927 civilians, who died, plus 14,000 natives, mainly women and children, all dying in 'concentration camps,'..." The horrendous situations in these camps were, "...conditions there rapidly deteriorated. Kitchener made no adequate preparations for their welfare. Women and children were given only meagre food rations and minimal shelter; they were often left short of water and basic necessities....A great number of women along the Mooi River were also victims of the cruelty of the English. Her daughter rushed to her assistance, but the ruffian drew his sabre and cut open her breast....Escapees murdered by the kaffirs....The women were entirely at the mercy of these natives, with results that one not dwell upon...many women were almost naked when their men arrived. Some had on only blouses. Many of the women were found in kaffir huts." On January 24, 1900 future Prime Minister Winston Churchill witnessed an action, which was devastating to the British, "The splinters and fragments of shell had torn and mutilated in the most ghastly manner. Men were staggering along alone, or supported by comrades, or crawling on hands and knees, or carried on stretchers."...The situation for Boer fighters was no better. "We were hungry, thirsty, and tired, around us were the dead men covered with swarms of flies attracted by the smell of blood." (Unpublished manuscript by the author).

Russo-Japanese War: By May 1904 the Japanese had advanced 42,000 troops across the Yalu River (in current day the northern boundary of North Korea), where they were opposed by 25,000 Russian troops. "Then the Japanese advanced with bayonets gleaming in the sun in tight formations that their Prussian advisers had taught them to use prior to the war...Over 1,000 Japanese troops were cut down trying to cross the river or drowned in the strong currents of the Ali Ho (River)..." At Nanshan, "To get through the mines, Japanese soldiers purposely ran in to blow themselves up so the men behind them could get through to throw themselves onto the barbed wire only for the followers to be mowed down by machine gun fire....(Russian) General Tretyakov...When a shrapnel shell dismembered his body and sprayed his blood and guts all over the nice white uniform of Fock (Russian)..." (Unpublished Manuscript).

World War I: Otto Lehman-Russbuldt in 1930 authored War For Profits. He was a German medical officer during World War I. He understood human sacrifice and had personal experiences of the battlefield. He wrote that once the forces of war are launched, there is an "Indifference to death,...and casualties in war" are censored and sanitized to conceal from the public the actual horror, suffering, and pain experienced by the combatants:

"...the dismemberment of limbs; the maiming of organs; evisceration; groveling fear, and hysteria; groans from sprawling bodies; the icy stare of sightless eyes under an unpitying, smoky sky; the thunder of the big guns that severs a man's genitals; gas, the invisible, creeping enemy that chokes the lungs and makes men cry for a trickle of breath no matter how brave and grown-up they seemed when with fife and drum they marched proudly down Main Street." (Lehmann-Russbuldt: xiv-xv).

PBS produced an eight-hour documentary Nov. 11-13, 1996 about World War I. It related; "...soldiers going 'over the top' of the trenches and being mowed down by machine-gun fire, shell-shock victims reduced to twitching madmen, other veterans whom the French called 'the men with broken faces' being fitted with masks to hide their hideous scars."

Bolshevik Revolution and Communism: By the end of 1916 Russia's Army suffered the loss of five million men. Then the Russian Revolution began in March 1917, followed by the rise of Marxism under Lenin. Socialism sounds good until history is studied. The people suffered horribly. A four year civil war came about in Russia. When Lenin died in 1924, Josef Stalin came to power and Russia was the scene of unbelievable suffering. An accurate number of deaths under Communism was fifteen to twenty million, a staggering number as Stalin's iron fist ruled the country.

World War II: Louis Read, now deceased, was a dear and treasured friend of mine. In 2004 he published his autobiography titled No Bugles No Parades. He wrote the following (modestly edited and paraphrased) to describe what he endured as an American soldier captured by the Japanese on the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines in 1942 after the Pearl Harbor attack on Dec. 7, 1941: "On what was later described as the 'Bataan Death March' most of us had malaria or dysentery. If we dropped out of the march and could not walk, we were bayoneted or beheaded with a sword by the Japanese....Brutality became worse. If you broke ranks to obtain water, the Japanese would kneel down and shoot at us. They were especially fond of bayoneting people. In water line one day one of our Americans was taken out of the line and was turned over to a group of soldiers who took him across the road, tied him to a tree and used him for bayonet practice. Approximately 1900 soldiers died or were executed on the Death March, approximately 700 were Americans and the rest were Filipinos. The Japanese performed medical experiments on us." Many Americans later were transported in unmarked Japanese ships to work in Japan, especially in mines. Many ships were bombed by our own airplanes since they were unmarked. Louis eventually worked in a Mitsubishi mine in the mountains near Sendai on northern Honshu. At the end of the war the Japanese guards disappeared and Louis was repatriated by Americans in Sendai and came home after an absence of four and a half years.

Korean War: After General Douglas MacArthur planned and executed the Sep. 1950 Inchon landing behind North Korean lines and our troops drove north all the way to the Yalu River, hundreds of thousands of Chines Army "volunteers" joined the fight to save the North Korean Communists from total defeat. Our soldiers and Marines were ill-equipped to fight so far north and many of our Korean War veterans were victims of frostbite due to the lack of winter clothing. The Communists were ruthless in their treatment of any of our captured Americans.

Vietnam War: Contemporary writings and movies describe typically accurately the conditions faced by our returning men from fighting in the jungle environments of South Vietnam. The memories of the war experiences themselves were harrowing enough, but the treatment by some in the American population, when we returned as veterans, was disgraceful to us, was a blight on the homeland culture, and compounded our ability to be resilient and survive not only physical wounds, but the psychological and emotional wounds of our wars. Eventually many of us were diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I prefer to term our conditions as Combat Operating Stressors.

Middle East Operations: Our men and women veterans of the operations in the Middle East, mainly Iraq and Afghanistan, have suffered different types of wounds, many incurred from the ever-present road side mine detonations, which wreaked havoc and fear among our warriors and caused many limb injuries.

Mark Twain wrote The War Prayer (published after his death in 1923) in which he "tells of a patriotic church service held to send the town's young men off to war. A stranger addresses the gathering and tells the patriotic crowd that their prayers for victory are also prayers for the destruction of the enemy...for the destruction of human life." 

            ...the war was on, ...the drums were beating, the bands playing, ...daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country and invoked the God of Battles,...then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored.

Some of us, who went to wars and returned, recall the magnificent words of General Douglas MacArthur, who spoke at West Point on May 12, 1962 (a speech heard by me as a cadet) wherein he said:

              ...the soldier, above all people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war. But always in our ears ring the ominous words of Plato, that wisest of all philosophers, 'Only the dead have seen the end of war.' ... I listen vainly, but with thirsty ear, for the witching melody of faint bugles blowing reveille, of far drums beating the long roll. In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange mournful mutter of the battlefield.

We, too, who have been there and done that, remember especially our comrades, who did not return, the ultimate Casualties of Wars.

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