Sunday, December 4, 2011

Jedburgh raid Jedburgh dead

My father, a veteran of the Second World War, told me about the Jedburghs. It was a day much like today, but I was outside, and we were cleaning the barn. My Dad always listened to classical music, much like the stuff played by the wartime BBC. Certain tunes would bring back memories for the old man, and on that day, a Sunday in the overcast fall in Ontario, he talked about times past, set in the last Great War. My Dad was not a Jed, but did give them some training in Shanghai police methods in those months before June 6, 1944. Until the internet came along, there was not much information out there about them * .

My Dad was not much of a talker about strategic issues so popular in military histories. Sure, the Germans were short of gasoline towards the end of the war, but what they had found its way to their tanks. When you read about the deployment of some division, 'only the artillery and reconnaissance elements being sent to the front from where it was resting and refitting' the reality is that the division only had artillery and reconnaissance elements, the rest being potato fertilizer in whatever field in the Ukraine, France, or Serbia they ended up in. History books skip that sort of detail. Not much is out there about the Jedburghs. There should be: they are so pertinent today.

Lack of co-operation. The Generals did not pay much attention to the information the Jeds gathered, apparently. Lacking strategic direction, the sabotage activities of these bands of merry pranksters were unfocused. And the Germans, being somewhat twitchy of trigger finger, were quick to wipe out all and sundry at the whiff of a blown rail line or cut telephone wire. The local peasantry were none too pleased to have sabotage occur in their surroundings, what with the calendar so close to liberation. As a Railway engineer opined to me (he a veteran of France), those idiots blew up the wrong bridge. Also unspoken of in the histories are the influence of the Germans over the erstwhile French Resistance, whose politics was more Petain than De Gaulle, unless it was Stalinist trades union stripe of red. You can always blame the communications networks of the time; the idea that the Jeds were set up as an elaborate disinformation operation to convince the Krauts that the Invasion was going to be somewhere else when it was not, utilizing the co-operation of a pack of double sided resistance fighters is not done in history books. This was my Dads theory, but being English he would not spit on the ground at the thought of all the good men sacrificed for this brilliant deception, which, in hind sight, seems to have worked.

That village that was massacred. Dad mentioned a village wiped out by the SS. He did not know the name, nor the details. I was shoveling manure at the time and was not quick enough to ask for details. I think it was this one, Oradour-sur-Glane * . If you read the details, you should ask yourself why a reconnaissance officer would get kidnapped. Why indeed. Usually partisans just shot soldiers (or blow them up sort of stuff). My guess is that he was nabbed because his head was full of great military intel. This is not the sort of stuff that Jack the Partisan does; my Dad said it was a Jed operation. The second thing you should ask is why the normally efficient in these things Germans went and massacred the wrong village. Oradour-sur-Vayres, eh what. You out there with real military experience probably know that the spooky sort of ops that guys wearing recently sewn on signals patches get up to. Lacking details, or a library card to the secret files the Limeys have down under the Thames, the rest is a castle of speculation. Such details were of no interest to my Dad, retired sergeant with his paratroop wings. Whatever happened to that kidnapped kraut? I wonder what he said, and was it an interrogation or a de-briefing?

Our lesson for today. Every good bolshevik history lesson I got in math class in my public school days in Ontario always tied the past to the present. Given our open borders, would you think that the foreign enemies of evil capitalism would be salting the country with Jedburgh teams of their own? Of course not, that bastion of truth (pravda in the russian tongue) the Red Star would certainly be yammering about that if it was true. I do not think there is a single foreign agent here in Canada, let alone sabotage teams. All that e coli that shows up in the food chain is the result of a lack of unionization of the work force, etcetera etcetera. For that matter, the never english speaking workforce in the London, Ontario plants that make armored fighting vehicles, so happy to snap souvenir photos of transmissions and mechanical assemblies are just jolly proud workers taking snaps of their work out of a sense of pride and accomplishment. Speaking of which, did those missing electronics from the parts bin ever show up? But that was three years ago, and those loyal Red-Orange-Green voters are the victims of colonialism. Blah blah blah, woof woof.

Still, I wish I knew more about the Jeds. I shall ask my Dad the next time I talk to him on the Ouiji board.

I, Fenris Badwulf, wrote this.

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