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Category: History (page 1 of 22)

Sept. 11, 2001 – The Day The Earth Stood Still

So here we are, 15 years after the most terrifying and mind-numbing day that most of us will probably (hopefully) ever endure in our life-times…


There are no words, no great speeches, no simple actions that can ever encapsulate the horrors of that day.  The September 11 attacks killed 2,996 people and injured more than 6,000 others. Overall, 2,605 U.S. citizens, including 2,135 civilians, died in the attacks, while an additional 372 non-U.S. citizens also perished. More than 90 countries lost citizens in the attacks – making the Sept. 11 terror attacks not only the most deadly ever, but also the most global.  Sept. 11, 2001 was truly a day that made the whole earth stand still – and nothing has ever been the same since.

Sunday Snapshot


Picture of a group of mountain troops (‘Gebirgsjaeger’) of the West German Bundeswehr, from a 1959 issue of LIFE magazine.

Note the use of the G1 (German model FN FAL), the Bundeswehr 1956 pattern ‘Splinter’ camouflage, and the US-style ‘steel pot’ helmets.  Here’s a closer look at the M1956 Splinter Camo uniforms used in the early days of the Bundeswehr.

german_splinter_pattern_uniformPhoto source:

The Capture of Aqaba

On 6 July 1917 Lawrence of Arabia captured the port town of Aqaba in perhaps one of the greatest coups of the First World War.  He had left the Arab camp at Wejh on 9 May, embarking on an epic expedition across some of the worst desert terrain in Arabia. As they approached Aqaba their ranks swelled with friendly tribesmen, numbering over 1,000 men when they finally took the town.


In the summer of 1917, T. E. Lawrence and the Arab leaders recognized the importance of seizing the port of Aqaba in order to secure a port and base on the northern Red Sea coast that could in turn facilitate further campaigns into Palestine and Syria.  Accompanied by a party of tribesmen and Auda abu Tayi, the hereditary war chief of the warlike Howeitat tribe, Lawrence led a small force on an epic two-month march through the desert. After a clash with a Turkish battalion at Abu al-Lissan, the Arab force took the surrender of some of the outlying garrisons and finally took Aqaba on 6 July 1917.

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How A Small Group Of Canadian Paratroopers (probably) Saved Denmark From Soviet Occupation

Here’s an interesting piece of WWII history that I saw on Facebook recently…

“By May 1945 the war in Europe had finally started to wind down. Yet for the men of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, there was one final mission to complete before they were relieved. Due to increasing tensions between them and the USSR, the Western Allies recognized that they had to take as much German territory as they could before the Soviets arrived.


…the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, or 1CanPara, had been fighting almost nonstop since 6th June 1944. After jumping into Normandy, the men fought through the rest of the French Campaign. They were then used as support in the Battle of the Bulge. And in April 1945, were a part of the final Rhine crossing: Operation Varsity.


Shortly after Varsity that the unit got orders to march north to Wismar. Wismar is a city on the Baltic coast of Germany. It sits at the northern end of a chokepoint between the sea and Lake Schweringer and is a transportation hub. Winston Churchill recognized the city’s importance and knew that if it fell into Russian hands too quickly it could allow them to advance far past the agreed upon lines set up at the Yalta conference and take most of Northern Germany and even Denmark.”

Read the rest of the story at War History Online.

What does ‘AR’ stand for?

The term ‘assault rifle’ has been a politically loaded term right from the start – as the origins of the German military designation “Sturmgewehr” (assault rifle) shows.

Although its commonly repeated that the term was made up by Hitler, Peter G. Kokalis actually did thorough first-hand, primary research into it and determined that in fact the term was made up by the Officers or General in charge of the German Army’s small arms development and procurement division in order to persuade Hitler to approve the production order for the StG-44. This explains why the MP-43 was called “MP” (Maschinen Pistole – submachine gun) and even the 44 was initially called an “MP” as well, before being reclassified as the StG-44.


(As a quick reminder, per its original specification, an ‘assault rifle’ is a carbine-sized, military rifle that fires an intermediate-sized cartridge from a detachable magazine, AND which is capable of full-automatic fire on demand. By this definition then, the German paratroops rifle, the FG-42, has become known as a ‘battle rifle’ rather than an ‘assault rifle’ becuase it fired the full-power 7.92mm Mauser cartridge. With the benefit of hindsight, the “Maschinenkarabiner” – Mkb – ‘machine carbine’ designation given to the prototype Mkb-42 would have been a more sensible term to stick with for the -44, or maybe something like ‘light automatic rifle’ for the -44 and ‘automatic battle rifle’ for full-power weapons like the FG-42. Interestingly though, the StG-44 was actually physically heavier than the FG-42.)





At any rate, Hitler had allegedly refused to authorize the production of the new MP-44 submachine-gun model becuase he saw the SMG as a defensive weapon and he believed that the Army should be focussed on attacking, not defending. So, the araments board came back with a revised production request for a new ‘assualt rifle’ that would help the German Army go back on the offensive again with greater firepower and Hitler signed off the production order for the ‘StG-44’ without any further quibbling – and the rest is history.  Sort of….

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