Weekly Occurrences in Military History and News from the LBP Frontline
The Lost Battalion Dispatch
Lost Battalion Dispatch #6 for the Week of August 8, 2022
This Week in Military History
The Iran-Iraq War Ends. The Berlin Wall begins.
Iraqi T-62 Tanks Invading Iran in 1980
On 8/8/88 a cease-fire went into effect that effectively ended the 8 year long Iran-Iraq war. The war began in September of 1980 when Saddam Hussein invaded Iran in response to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s attempts to depose his Sunni/Secular government in Iraq. After some initial success, including the capture of the port city of Khorramshahr, the Iraqi advance was halted and the war devolved into World War I style trench warfare with human wave attacks and the use of chemical weapons. In 1982, Hussein withdrew from Iranian territory and attempted to reach a cease-fire agreement, but the Iranian government persisted in attempting to establish a Shi’a revolution in Iraq (and the rest of the Arab world). Eventually, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait began funding the Iraqi war effort to prevent this and the war dragged on for six more years. It’s estimated that over half-a-million people died as a result of this conflict.
The Goths dealt a devastating defeat to the Eastern Roman Empire at the Battle of Adrianople on August 9, 378 AD. At least 10,000 Romans were killed including the Emperor Valens. The Goths then laid siege to the city of Adrianople, but failed to capture it. Theodosius, Valens successor, mounted a counter-offensive that drove the Goths back and negotiated a peace treaty. The destruction of the infantry core of the Roman army at this battle accelerated the process of converting the Eastern (or Byzantine) Army into a cavalry-centric force.
General George Patton delivered the “slaps heard ’round the world” to Private Paul Bennett on August 10, 1943. Patton told the soldier, who he found crying in a Medical Evacuation tent, “Your nerves, hell, you are just a goddamned coward. Shut up that goddamned crying. I won’t have these brave men who have been shot at seeing this yellow bastard sitting here crying,” before repeatedly slapping him and threatening to shoot him. Media reports of this and previous slapping incidents stirred up outrage by members of Congress and the public. Despite Patton’s apology, it’s likely that this led to his being passed over a commander of the D-Day invasions. Cancel culture isn’t as new as we sometimes think it is.
Lt. Gen. George S. Patton
British Mark V Tank
The German Army began withdrawing from the Amiens salient on August 11, 1918 after being beaten in the Third Battle of Picardy. This was the beginning of the Hundred Days Offensive that would decide World War I in favor of the Allies. The battle was one of the first combined arms offensives, utilizing tanks to break the enemy lines. During the later stages of the battle, American Corporal Jake Ellex took command of his platoon after the officers had been killed and single-handedly captured a German machine-gun nest on Chipilly Ridge, becoming the second American to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor during the war. His achievement is often forgotten in light of the more famous recipient, Sergeant Alvin York.
August 12, 1927, is notable for the premiere of the movie Wings, one of the best aerial combat films of all time. Directed by William Wellman, a pilot with World War I combat experience, the film utilized 300 pilots and 3500 infantry to recreate the climatic air and ground Battle of Saint-Mihiel.
Communist East German began construction of the Berlin Wall on August 13, 1961. Berlin, the German capital during World War II, had been partitioned along with the rest of the country by the Allies, but was entirely within the Eastern section administered by the Russians. In order to prevent citizens from fleeing the communist controlled areas, authorities had closed the border between East and West Germany in 1952. The presence of West Berlin, however, continued to provide an easy escape until the wall was constructed. The wall came down symbolically on November 9, 1989 when East German officials, in response to a series of anti-communist revolutions, announced that citizens could now visit West Berlin at will. Its official demolition began in June of 1990.
The Berlin Wall covered with graffiti on the Western side
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