Category Archives: World War II

DS Senanayake in the Final Stages of the Independence Struggle

Batapola Man**

Michael, I thought [your article on “Battleships Down: Early Signs in the Decline of British Imperial Power across the Span of the Indian Ocean”] is a very insightful piece that opens up an important and (as far as I know) unexplored dimension of the comparative Lanka-India route to Independence. I am not going to post these comments online because they will just encourage the abusive trolls.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under British colonialism, communal relations, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, island economy, life stories, politIcal discourse, power politics, security, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, truth as casualty of war, world events & processes, World War II

Pushing the British out of Ceylon, 1918-1956: Issues

Michael Roberts

My essay on “The Basis of British Power” (July 2020) was instigated by articles from Prabath de Silva and Leelananda de Silva on aspects of the Donoughmore Reforms and subsequent developments. Vinod Moonesinghe has seized on secondary dimensions to press some hoary old strands of Trotskyist thinking and to laud (A) the intervention of SWRD Bandaranaike and  the MEP forces for getting rid of British military bases in the 1950s and (B) the radical political messages of the young LSSP politicians who burst onto the scene in the late 1920s and early 1930s.[1] This is linked to the standard Marxist belittling of the achievements of DS Senanayake and associates in the interpretation of the island’s path to independence.

.Vinod RG Senanayake

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under British imperialism, colonisation schemes, democratic measures, governance, historical interpretation, island economy, land policies, landscape wondrous, Left politics, life stories, patriotism, politIcal discourse, power politics, self-reflexivity, Sri Lankan scoiety, world events & processes, World War II

Battleships Down: Early Signs in the Decline of British Imperial Power across the Span of the Indian Ocean

Michael Roberts

Prince of Wales (left, front) and Repulse (left, behind) under attack by Japanese aircraft. The destroyer Express in the foreground.

The crew of the sinking Prince of Wales abandoning ship to the destroyer Express. Moments later, the list on Prince of Wales suddenly increased and Express had to withdraw. Observe the barrels of the 5.25 in guns, which were unable to depress low enough to engage attackers due to the list.

Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under authoritarian regimes, British colonialism, British imperialism, centre-periphery relations, electoral structures, ethnicity, governance, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, island economy, law of armed conflict, life stories, military strategy, nationalism, politIcal discourse, power politics, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, transport and communications, world events & processes, World War II

Leadership displayed via Fighting Power … via D-Day And the Normandy Operations

Cross posted at Thoughts on Military History ,  24 September 2011, with this title “Fighting Power as the Arbiter of Leadership Effectiveness”

In an era of fourth generation warfare where the achievement of strategic end-goals lay squarely at the feet of politicians, the application of fighting power as a militaries core war fighting capability is being increasingly questioned with a concentration on Counter Insurgency (COIN) and Peacekeeping Support Operations (PSO). For example, Colonel Gian Gentile has lamented on the death of the US Armor Corps as the US Army moves to an infantry-centric force grounded in population centric COIN.[1] This has left it, in Gentile’s opinion, unable to produce effective fighting power. This raises the important question of how fighting power is defined and how it affects of the study of leadership.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, military strategy, performance, politIcal discourse, war reportage, world events & processes, World War II

Colossal Kills on All Fronts in 1944/45, World War II

Michael Roberts

In venturing into reflections on VE Day commemorations, by pure chance I stumbled on You Tube reviews of the ways in which German POWs were dealt with in Britain during and after the war. This data base also provides partial information on the enormous loss of life on the various moments in the Western front as the Allied forces advanced on Germany after D Day in June 1944.

 Hitler Germany’s greatest reach 1942

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under accountability, European history, Fascism, historical interpretation, Hitler, human rights, life stories, military expenditure, photography, politIcal discourse, power politics, security, self-reflexivity, the imaginary and the real, trauma, unusual people, vengeance, war crimes, war reportage, world events & processes, World War II

Holy War Unmasked

 Brian Victoria …… Send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. John Donne

Introduction: Is religion a force for peace or war? Or to borrow a phrase from the title of Christopher Hitchen’s book, God Is Not Great, does religion really poison everything, including the possibility of living in a peaceful world?

The answer is much like posing the question of whether the glass is half full or half empty. That is to say, for every example cited to prove that religion has supported warfare and violence, other examples can be presented to show ways in which religion has contributed to peace and the avoidance of war, reconciliation between bitter enemies and the general betterment of humanity and the world. When the question is posed in this way, the debate is as endless as it is futile unless the “winner” is the side that amasses the greatest number of examples.

Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under accountability, authoritarian regimes, British colonialism, centre-periphery relations, cultural transmission, fundamentalism, historical interpretation, law of armed conflict, life stories, LTTE, meditations, politIcal discourse, power politics, religiosity, self-reflexivity, suicide bombing, Taliban, the imaginary and the real, trauma, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, vengeance, violence of language, war reportage, world events & processes, World War II, World War One, zealotry, Zen at war

War: Its Stark Truths

Richard Koenigsberg

Wars are fought–soldiers die–to testify to the truth of a society’s sacred ideal. If so many people die for an ideology—it must be real.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, Al Qaeda, american imperialism, fundamentalism, life stories, LTTE, mass conscription, meditations, military strategy, nationalism, patriotism, power politics, prabhakaran, propaganda, psychological urges, security, self-reflexivity, suicide bombing, Tamil Tiger fighters, unusual people, vengeance, war reportage, world events & processes, World War II, World War One, zealotry, Zen at war

Michael’s Testimony for VE Day in Britain, 8th May 1945

Michael Roberts

Tears rolled down my eyes in profound sorrow and joy as the news media on TV and computer-script dwelt on the VE commemorations in Britain — Yesterday and Today 8th and 9th May 2020. Perhaps that may surprise some readers. So …… let me clarify.

Yes, I was only seven years old or thereabouts then in 1945. Yes, I was resident in the Fort area within the town of Galle in the island of Ceylon …. not in Britain or Europe. So, how is that event so meaningful …. and so profound in my thinking-mould. Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under authoritarian regimes, British colonialism, British imperialism, centre-periphery relations, cultural transmission, economic processes, education, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, island economy, landscape wondrous, law of armed conflict, life stories, photography, politIcal discourse, power politics, security, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, travelogue, unusual people, world events & processes, World War II

VE Day, 8 May 1945 …. as Nazi Germany Surrenders: In Pictures

The King and Queen of Britain with Winston Churchill in between and Princess Elizabeth nd Princess Margaret on the flanks

 Churchill waves to the crowds below

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under accountability, cultural transmission, European history, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, life stories, patriotism, performance, security, self-reflexivity, the imaginary and the real, war reportage, world events & processes, World War II

Edmund Leach: Biographical Studies from Tambiah and Others

Adam Kuper  in London Review of Books Vol. 24 No. 10 · 23 May 2002

  • Edmund Leach: An Anthropological Life by Stanley Tambiah
    Cambridge, 517 pp, £60.00, February 2002, ISBN 0 521 52102 5
  • The Essential Edmund Leach: Vol. I: Anthropology and Society by Stephen Hugh-Jones and James Laidlaw
    Yale, 406 pp, £30.00, February 2001, ISBN 0 300 08124 3
  • The Essential Edmund Leach: Vol. II: Culture and Human Nature by Stephen Hugh-Jones and James Laidlaw
    Yale, 420 pp, £30.00, February 2001, ISBN 0 300 08508 7

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, art & allure bewitching, British colonialism, cultural transmission, education, heritage, historical interpretation, Indian traditions, land policies, landscape wondrous, life stories, literary achievements, politIcal discourse, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, teaching profession, the imaginary and the real, travelogue, unusual people, world events & processes, World War II