Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 51

Battle of the Bulge on December 16, 1944

Battle of the Bulge on December 16, 1944

Battle of the Bulge: On this day, the Germans launch the last major offensive of the war, Operation Mist, also known as the Ardennes Offensive and the Battle of the Bulge, an attempt to push the Allied front line west from northern France to northwestern Belgium. The Battle of the Bulge, so-called because the Germans created a “bulge” around the area of the Ardennes forest in pushing through the American defensive line, was the largest fought on the Western front.

One particularly effective German trick was the use of English-speaking German commandos who infiltrated American lines and, using captured U.S. uniforms, trucks, and jeeps, impersonated U.S. military and sabotaged communications. The ploy caused widespread chaos and suspicion among the American troops as to the identity of fellow soldiers - even after the ruse was discovered. Even General Omar Bradley himself had to prove his identity three times - by answering questions about football and Betty Grable - before being allowed to pass a sentry point.

The battle raged for three weeks, resulting in a massive loss of American and civilian life. Nazi atrocities abounded, including the murder of 72 American soldiers by SS soldiers in the Ardennes town of Malmedy. Historian Stephen Ambrose estimated that by war's end, “Of the 600,000 GIs involved, almost 20,000 were killed, another 20,000 were captured, and 40,000 were wounded.” The United States also suffered its second-largest surrender of troops of the war: More than 7,500 members of the 106th Infantry Division capitulated at one time at Schnee Eifel. The devastating ferocity of the conflict also made desertion an issue for the American troops; General Eisenhower was forced to make an example of Private Eddie Slovik, the first American executed for desertion since the Civil War.

The war would not end until better weather enabled American aircraft to bomb and strafe German positions. History Channel / Wikipedia / Army.mil / Time - Life / Defense.gov / USHMM.org

Images: 1944 - Battle of the Bulge; begins with the surprise offensive of three German armies through the Ardennes forest.

Bombing of Dresden in World War II; August Schreitmüller's sculpture 'Goodness' surveys Dresden after a firestorm started by Allied bombers in 1945.
USS Bunker Hill was hit by kamikazes piloted by Ensign Kiyoshi Ogawa and another airman on 11 May 1945. 389 personnel were killed or missing from a crew of 2,600; Ensign Kiyoshi Ogawa, who flew his aircraft into the USS Bunker Hill during a Kamikaze mission on 11 May 1945; Kamikaze Missions - Lt Yoshinori Yamaguchi's Yokosuka D4Y3 (Type 33 Suisei) "Judy" in a suicide dive against USS Essex. The dive brakes are extended and the non-self-sealing port wing tank is trailing fuel vapor and/or smoke 25 November 1944.
German V1 flying-bomb and V2 Rockets - Preparations for a Salvo Launch of V-2 Rockets in the Heidelager near Blizna (Poland) (1944), credit German History in Documents and Images GHDI.

Eastern Front (World War II); Germans race towards Stalingrad. August 1942; Soviet children during a German air raid in the first days of the war, June 1941, by RIA Novosti archive; Soviet sniper Roza Shanina in 1944. About 400,000 Soviet women served in front-line duty units Caucasus Mountains, winter 1942/43; Finnish ski patrol: the invisible enemy of the Soviet Army with an unlimited supply of skis; Men of the German Engineers Corps cross a river which is swollen after the first autumn rains, to strengthen bridges linking the German positions on the central front in Russia. by Keystone / Getty Images. October 1942; Russian snipers fighting on the Leningrad front during a blizzard. Photo by Hulton Archive / Getty Images, 1943; German soldiers surrendering to the Russians in Stalingrad, the soldier holding the white flag of surrender is dressed in white so that there could be no doubt of his intentions, a Russian soldier is on the right of the photograph. by Keystone / Getty Images, January 1943.

Understanding Military Terminology

Understanding Military Terminology - foreign instrumentation signals intelligence

(DOD) Foreign instrumentation signals intelligence:

A subcategory of signals intelligence, consisting of technical information and intelligence derived from the intercept of foreign electromagnetic emissions associated with the testing and operational deployment of non-US aerospace, surface, and subsurface systems.

Foreign instrumentation signals include but are not limited to telemetry, beaconry, electronic interrogators, and video data links. Also called FISINT. See also signals intelligence. Wikipedia / Joint Point 2-01)

A Jimmy Buffett Sailor's Christmas

The Old Salt’s Corner

Sailor's Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas a calm night at sea,

We nestled in our racks for a Holiday Routine.

When from the ventilation there came such a clatter,

We jumped from our bunks to see what's the matter.

When from the vent fell this big dust covered dude,

He was dressed up in red with a bad attitude.

Yelling, “Those ducts are all filthy!” as he brushed off his clothes,

“Don't just damn stand there, where's the DCPO?”

He arose from the deck, then he peered all around,

Then from his mouth came a bellowing sound.

”This berthing's a disgrace!” then he called us by name,

“Now Boatswain, Now Corpsman, please explain!”

This was not the Santa I remembered from youth,

He smelled of cheap whiskey, he was rough and uncouth.

”Now, look here you bastards” he said as he strolled,

“You'd best trice this place up, or you'll get nothing but coal!”

“You'll make this space pretty, military, and neat!”

Then he looked down at our boots that lay right near his feat.

”Well, what do we have here?” he said with a frown,

“Who the hell polished these? Recruit 'Buster brown'?!”

He walked around slowly, he missed not a mark.

He even spotted dust bunnies, right there in the dark!

”You've got high dust and low dust, and that overhead it needs cleaning!”

We all stood dumbfounded as his words kept on streaming.

“Which man here is senior!?” Then asked St Nick,

“You'd better shit me and answer…and SHIT ME ONE QUICK!”

The First Class stepped forward, his heart pounding hard,

“Now look right here shitbirds, this asshole's in charge!”

“These racks will be tight! This damn deck it will shine!

I don't want to hear bitching! I need not hear you whine!”

So we gathered our foxtales, our buckets, and swabs,

We all worked all in silence to finish the job.

It took almost an hour finish our space,

He just sat drinking coffee and stuffing his face.

Then on re-inspection he explained with a huff,

“Now this is more like it! Now you’re not so screwed up!”

We all stood there smiling, awaiting our gifts,

But Santa just snapped out “What's the matter dumb-shits!?”

“Get back to your racks! This will be my last warning!

Just like on shore, the gifts come in the morning!”

It seemed like eternity until reveille sounded,

We threw back our curtains as all our hearts pounded.

But what were our gifts? For what did we suffer?

A pallet of rags and a shiny new buffer!

Attached to our new buffer, we found a short note,

We all gathered 'round to see what he wrote.

“Next year at Christmas, best have all your shit wired!”


Fair Winds

S.C. Clause

BMCM (Retired)

A Sailor's Christmas - Jimmy Buffett video

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin’”

Can fat people go skinny-dipping?

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“Happiness? That's nothing more than health and a poor memory.”

~ Albert Schweitzer

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“Live a good and honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.”

~ Anonymous

Bizarre News (we couldn’t make up stuff this good – real news story)

Bizarre News (we couldn’t make up stuff this good – real news story)

Creamer packaging features Hitler and Mussolini mugs

Creamer packaging features Hitler and Mussolini mugs

Some coffee drinkers in Switzerland have been startled to find images of Hitler or Mussolini on their packages of coffee creamer. The faux pas has yielded embarrassed sputters from the vendors involved.

Swiss retailer Migros has apologized for placing pictures of Hitler and Mussolini on some of the coffee creamers it sells, calling it an “inexcusable blunder” and promising that “in the future we’ll be sure to sharpen our controls.”

However, they haven't really explained why they decided to use the Hitler/Mussolini photos in the first place. They simply said that, “We weren’t observant enough to notice the picture of Hitler. But in retrospect, we should have paid more attention.”SWI (Swiss Info) Also See: Tempest in a Tea Pot: Tea Kettles that look like Hitler (Mother Jones)

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Is it true George Washington was not the first president of the United States?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: Is it true George Washington was not the first president of the United States?

Think back to your history books - The United States declared its independence in 1776, yet Washington did not take office until April 30, 1789. So who was running the country during these initial years of this young country? It was the first eight U.S. Presidents.

In fact, the first President of the United States was one John Hanson. I can hear you now — John who? John Hanson, the first President of the United States.

Don't go checking the encyclopedia for this guy's name - he is one of those great men that are lost to history. If you're extremely lucky, you may actually find a brief mention of his name. (It's in the Encyclopedia Britannica.)

The new country was actually formed on March 1, 1781 with the adoption of The Articles of Confederation. This document was actually proposed on June 11, 1776, but not agreed upon by Congress until November 15, 1777.

Maryland refused to sign this document until Virginia and New York ceded their western lands (Maryland was afraid that these states would gain too much power in the new government from such large amounts of land). Once the signing took place in 1781, a President was needed to run the country.

John Hanson was chosen unanimously by Congress (which included George Washington). In fact, all the other potential candidates refused to run against him, as he was a major player in the revolution and an extremely influential member of Congress.

As the first President, Hanson had quite the shoes to fill. No one had ever been President and the role was poorly defined. His actions in office would set precedent for all future Presidents.

He took office just as the Revolutionary War ended. Almost immediately, the troops demanded to be paid. As would be expected after any long war, there were no funds to meet the salaries. As a result, the soldiers threatened to overthrow the new government and put Washington on the throne as a monarch.

All the members of Congress ran for their lives, leaving Hanson as the only guy left running the government. He somehow managed to calm the troops down and hold the country together. If he had failed, the government would have fallen almost immediately and everyone would have been bowing to King Washington.

Hanson, as President, ordered all foreign troops off American soil, as well as the removal of all foreign flags. This was quite the feat, considering the fact that so many European countries had a stake in the United States since the days following Columbus.

Hanson established the Great Seal of the United States, which all Presidents have since been required to use on all official documents. President Hanson also established the first Treasury Department, the first Secretary of War, and the first Foreign Affairs Department. Lastly, he declared that the fourth Thursday of every November was to be Thanksgiving Day, which is still true today.

The Articles of Confederation only allowed a President to serve a one year term during any three year period, so Hanson actually accomplished quite a bit in such little time.

Seven other presidents were elected after him - Elias Boudinot (1782-83), Thomas Mifflin (1783-84), Richard Henry Lee (1784-85), John Hancock (1785-86), Nathan Gorman (1786-87), Arthur St. Clair (1787-88), and Cyrus Griffin (1788-89) - all prior to Washington taking office.

So what happened?

Why don't we hear about the first eight presidents?

It's quite simple - The Articles of Confederation didn't work well. The individual states had too much power and nothing could be agreed upon. A new doctrine needed to be written - something we know as the Constitution. And that leads us to the end of our story.

George Washington was definitely not the first President of the United States. He was the first President of the United States under the Constitution we follow today. And the first eight Presidents are forgotten in history.

The presidents of the Continental Congress of this time were:

Peyton Randolph (09/05/1774 - 10/22/1774) / (05/10/1775 - 05/24/1775)

Henry Middleton (10/22/1774 - 10/26/1774)

John Hancock (05/24/1775 - 10/29/1777)

Henry Laurens (11/01/1777 - 12/09/1778)

John Jay (12/10/1778 - 09/28/1779)

Samuel Huntington (09/28/1779 - 07/10/1781)

Thomas McKean (07/10/1781 - 11/05/1781)


John Hanson (11/05/1781 - 11/04/1782 - 365 days)

Elias Boudinot (11/04/1782 - 11/03/1783 - 365 days)

Thomas Mifflin (11/03/1783 - 06/03/1784 - 214 days)

Richard Henry Lee (11/30/1784 - 11/04/1785 - 340 days)

John Hancock (11/23/1785 - 06/05/1786 - 195 days)

Nathaniel Gorham (06/05/1786 - 11/03/1786 - 151 days)

Arthur St. Clair (02/02/1787 - 11/04/1787 - 276 days)

Cyrus Griffin (01/22/1788 - 11/15/1788 - 299 days)

Research:  WikipediaSnopesConstitution Society

Where Did That Saying Come From? “A Shot of Whiskey”

Where Did That Saying Come From?

“Pulling out all stops”

Pull out all the stops:

The term “stops”, as used here refers to air valve controls used on pipe organs to allow or interupt the flow of air from the organ's bellows or blower motor into the various wind chests for the particular ranks of pipes it controls. In other words, each rank of pipes in a pipe organ is designed to produce sounds of a specific tonal color.

A “stop” control for each rank is built in to the organ console to allow the organist to select which rank or ranks of pipes are activated as he or she plays. Generally, these are in the form of "draw knobs" with an engraved heads providing the names of each stop.

The stop knob is drawn or pulled out to allow air to flow into the wind chest channel under the rank of pipes it controls. Then as keys are pressed, smaller valves under each pipe controlled by those pressed keys allow the air to actually reach the toe of the pipe causing it to sound. A stop knob is pushed in to shut off air flow to each rank of pipes. Obviously, the more stop knobs you pull out, the louder and more powerful the organ's sound becomes, as you play.

The phrase “pulling out all the stops” is a way, based on the pipe organ and the organists, of saying: “Give all you've got!”.Wikipedia

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang - U.S. Navy America's Navy - A Global Force For Good

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Bubblehead: A sailor in the Submarine Service.

Disbo: Short for Disbursing Officer.

Local talent: Derogatory term used to describe any female living near a Naval Station who does nothing but have sex and use sailors for money. Said females have usually been married and divorced at least three times before they turn 25.

Slick Sleeve: A sailor in the E-1 paygrade who does not have a rating, and who has not yet graduated from Apprentice training. Therefore, his left sleeve is "slick", or has no rate or rating insignia at all.

Just for MARINES - U.S. Marines Marines - The Few. The Proud.

Just for you MARINE

Concertina: Coiled ribbons of metal with both edges razor sharp. Used to deter access to an area.

Confederate States Marine Corps: Many of the officers of the CSM were formerly officers or noncommissioned officers in the U. S. Marine Corps who resigned to “go south”. Their headquarters were at the fort at Drewry's Bluff on the James River keeping the U.S. Navy from firing on Richmond, the Confederate capital.

Confidence Course: A series of large scale obstacles that a Marine must overcome, particularly in boot camp. It is generally not a timed event and is most often an individual effort to overcome fears of height and to develop confidence in recruits.

Military Acronyms

Navy Acronyms

NRC - Navy Recruiting Command

Main headquarters for Navy recruiting, located in Millington, Tennessee.

NROTC - Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps

A college scholarship program used to recruit future commissioned Officers for the Navy and Marine Corps.

NSAWC - Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center

Center that provides training and service to aircrews and squadrons.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

VX-20 - Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20: “Force” NAS Patuxent River, Maryland


Gene Autry Sings Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town - Gene Autry 1949

“Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” - Gene Autry
Album: Gene Autry Sings Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town
Released 1949 video

The story of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer was written in 1939 by Robert L. May, a copywriter for the Chicago-based Montgomery Ward department stores, as a promotional gift for the store's customers. The stores had bought and distributed coloring books every Christmas and saw writing their own story as a way to save money. Montgomery Ward distributed 2.4 million copies of the Rudolph booklet in 1939. A total of 6 million copies had been given out by the end of 1946, even though wartime paper shortages restricted printing.

The story reflects May's own childhood difficulties as the smallest boy in his class. He was taunted for being a frail, scrawny misfit.

The reindeer was almost named Rollo or Reginald. May considered both these named before settling on Rudolph.

Rudolph's story was made into a song when May's brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks, developed the lyrics and melody for it. Marks' musical version was first recorded by Gene Autry in 1949, selling 2 million copies that year.

Autry didn't want anything to do with this song. It was his wife who talked him into recording it, and it went on to become the second biggest-selling Christmas song of all time, next to Bing Crosby's “White Christmas”. video

Autry was known as “The Singing Cowboy”. He teamed up with Roy Rogers in the 1930's and 40's to make movies in a new genré called “Musical Westerns”. Autry had his own TV show in the 1950's and was the owner of the California Angels baseball team, now known as the Anaheim Angels. Autry, who died in 1998, is the only person with 5 stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which he earned for motion pictures, radio, music recording, television, and live theater. Gene Autry.com / Wikipedia / CMT / Biography / Snopes

Image: Gene Autry Sings Santa Claus Is Comin' To TownGene Autry



● Muppets creator Jim Henson first created Kermit in 1955 — as a lizard. He was made from Henson's mother's coat and two halves of a Ping-Pong ball (no flipper feet or eleven-point collar). He didn't become a frog until 1968.

● Tammy Wynette’s first single “Apartment No. 9” was a small hit in 1966. She went on to have 32 Number 1 country hits in a row - more than any woman in music history.

● Bananas are the most popular fruit in America. The average person eats 33 pounds of bananas a year. Over 4 million tons of bananas are imported into the United States every year.

Answer to Last Week's Test

In ancient Greece, courtesans wore sandals with nails studded into the sole so that their footprints would spell out what message?

Answer: “Follow me”

Joke of the Day

A little old lady goes to the doctor and says, “Doctor I have this problem with gas, but it really doesn't bother me too much because they never smell and are always silent. As a matter of fact, I've farted at least 20 times since I've been here in your office.”

The doctor says, “I see, take these pills and come back to see me next week.”

The next week the lady goes back to his office. “Doctor”, she says, “I don't know what you gave me, but now my farts, although still silent, stink terribly!”

The doctor says, “Good, Now that we've cleared up your sinuses, let's work on your hearing.”