In the First World War a Red Cross worker can be seen bandaging the paw of a working dog who has suffered a minor wound. Dogs and other animals have displayed loyalty and courage in the face of warfare and human destruction and their contribution was once as valued to the military as that of any infantryman.
Name George Herbert Leigh Mallory
Occupation/Role Mountaineer and Explorer
Mallory was the very image of an heroic 1920s explorer; suave, handsome and adventurous he made it his life’s work to conquer the most unreachable summits this earth has to offer. His dogged determination and fighting spirit is as revered today as it was way back in 1924 when he conducted his final attempt to reach the top of mount Everest.
George Mallory’s earlier life was certainly not without its excitements. Having attended and graduated Cambridge (at which institution he was a introduced to mountain climbing by a teacher) Mallory soon enlisted in the First World War and served in the Battle of the Somme (1916) in the Royal Garrison Artillery.
Returning from the war, Mallory resigned his old job of teaching to join the First Everest Expedition of 1921. Like so many he was infected with ‘mountain fever’, a keen and unrelenting greed to achieve reaching the summit of the world’s highest and most inhospitable locations. It is a goal few can understand. When asked in a New York Times interview (1922 or 1923) why he wanted to climb Mount Everest, Mallory simply replied; "Because it’s there."
This attitude typifies Mallory; cocky, witty and extremely driven. His drive and determination was however, to lead directly to his fate in the year of 1924.
Mallory (right) with friend and climbing partner Sandy Irvine.
1924 marked Mallory’s planned final ascent, since his age (37) was considered to be older than usual (as in some sports, since mountaineering, especially Everest, required peak physical fitness) and so a group of climbers, along with Sherpas (local men hired to help carry expedition materiel) set off up the mountain face in a bold attempt to at last reach the earth’s highest point. Mallory carried in his breast pocket a photograph of his wife Ruth, with which he planned to place at the summit. Mallory and friend Andrew ‘Sandy’ Irvine set off together, averaging some 856 vertical feet per hour, braving shifting snows and horrendous winds. The pair were spotted some 26,000ft high by an expedition colleague, noting their position as being at the First or Second Step. There are three ‘Steps’ on Everest; each is something of an imposing rock wall, around 100ft high which must be climbed in order to reach the top.
Diagram of the positions of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Steps.
Whatever their position, the pair were never seen again. They were presumed dead by June 9 and their disappearance became world news. The mountain had claimed two more victims. For some time, artifacts began to be unearthed (including Irvine’s ice axe and some oxygen bottles were found near to the First Step, presumably left behind to lighten the load while ascending the rock faces) and sightings of bodies were common. It wasn’t until 75 years later in 1999 that an expedition, the Mallory and Irvine Research Expedition, discovered a body. It was frozen solid, bleached white by the sun and torn by the high winds. The corpse lay on its face, arms outstretched in an infinite gesture of hopelessness and resignation. The shirt collar gave away its identity; G. L Mallory.
Mallory’s mummified body
Irvine’s body has not yet been found, and one question has been debated ever since the disappearance; did the pair reach Everest’s summit? Mallory promised to place his wife’s photo at the summit, though the photo was not on his body. Irvine carried a compact KODAK camera and should it be discovered, experts suggest they might be able to retrieve and save the film. Photos taken from the summit might re-write history; the famous Sir Edmund Hillary, beaten to the top of the mountain by 30 years!
Whatever the case, both men succumbed to the harsh and often brutal conditions encountered on the shifting and wind-blasted slopes of Everest. They are not alone; hundreds have died in their own attempts to reach the peak and to this day their frozen bodies, proving impossible to shift and recover, are used to guide other climbers upwards, forever upwards, to the vaunted and bleak pinnacle of the world.
Frozen leg, with hobnail boot and socks intact.
This famous photo of a Grumman TBF Avenger torpedo bomber (Of VT-28, piloted by Robert King) demonstrates a major advantage that American aircraft held over their Japanese counterparts; durability. The aircraft, having sustained serious damage and losing nearly 1/4 of its wing after a collision, was able to return to friendly territory and conduct a water landing. Two of the crew, having bailed out directly after the collision occurred, were captured and executed by the Japanese.
Young German soldier in 1944 or 1945 being treated by an American paratrooper, possibly of the airborne. In the later stages of the war and with so many young men dead, it was not uncommon for the German armed forces to recruit either the young or the elderly.
Type XXI ‘Elektroboot’ U-Boat
What is it? Submarine
Who made it? Nazi Germany
When was it built? 1943-1945
How many were built? 118
Submarines played a crucial role in the Second World War, and a country that took advantage of this relatively new technology was Nazi Germany. As England is an island, during wartime it was necessary to import food and materiel to keep citizens fed and the war machine running. This required hundreds of cargo ships operating daily around Britain and across the Atlantic. Germany sought to starve Britain to defeat by sinking as many of these ships as possible. Hence the U-Boat (Unterseeboot, German for ‘Submarine’) came into its own as a devastating weapon.
Prior to 1943, Germany’s fortunes in the ‘War of the Atlantic’, as it was known, were good and for U-Boats sank hundreds of thousands on tons of Allied shipping. Soon enough, though, British anti-submarine technology advanced to the point that the U-Boats themselves became the hunted. Though the U-Boats previously able to operate with impunity, Allied aircraft prowled the skies ready to bomb and strafe any unsuspecting vessel while fast-travelling destroyers attacked any submerged boat with Depth Charges which were essentially barrels loaded with high explosives that were dropped on top of the submarine. It quickly became a war of attrition and the ‘Happy Days’ were over.
Before the type XXI, Germany fielded a number of designs; the Type II, type VII and Type IX. The Type II was a smaller boat of simple design used very early in the war and it was soon superseded by the Types VII and IX which were similar, though the latter was a much larger vessel.
Type VII U-Boat, U-254
Contrary to popular belief, these U-Boats operated primarily on the surface using diesel engines. When the submarine had to dive, it would flood tanks, slip beneath the waves and switch to its secondary propulsion system; battery-powered electric engines. Typically a Type VII U-Boat might be able to stay underwater for only a number of hours (between 7 and 12.) Whilst underwater, a U-Boat could only achieve speeds of up to 4 knots which translates to a ponderously slow 7.4 km/h. Therefore a typical attack scenario would be to spot an enemy vessel, ‘sprint’ at top speed on the surface using diesel engines and then dive upon reaching a perfect intercept point. The U-Boat would then fire a salvo of torpedoes and sink the enemy ship.
Anyway, that’s a quick history of the Second World War U-Boat. Hopefully it provides ample back-story for the true purpose of this article; examining the Type XXI which was leaps and bounds ahead of anything else fielded by any other nation in the war.
It is worth noting that before the Type XXI, every submarine’s design (regardless of nationality) followed a basic principal wherein the vessel looked very much like a regular boat, though with conning tower. The hull remained curved like that of a boat; rounded and fat.
This model of a Type IX typifies standard U-Boat design.
Owing to the fatter curves of this design standard, the boats were not able to achieve high speed underneath the ocean and until 1943 this was not a problem since the very nature of these vessels was, as already noted, to operate primarily on the surface since battery technology was not advanced enough to enable constant underwater operations.
This changed with the Type XXI.
Model Type XXI U-Boat
Nicknamed the ‘Elektroboot’ (Electric boat) the Type XXI was designed primarily to operate underwater. From the photo above, its clean and slick hull design is strikingly different from that of the previous types. Thanks to these advances, the Type XXI was able to achieve underwater speeds of 17 knots (32 km/h, roughly 5 times faster than the Type VII’s 4 knots) and its battery capacity was triple that of the Type VII. This enabled the submarine to size up its prey and maneuver into position completely underwater and therefore without detection. With better facilities (including a freezer for food) and self-reloading torpedoes, the Type XXI revolutionized the face of submarine warfare.
Today, submarines follow in the Type XXI’s footsteps, being capable of operating for months at a time underwater. The Elektroboot set a design standard which modern submarine designs follow to this day and it was a major technological leap forward in a world that was just discovering how to apply electrics to modern warfare. Luckily for the Allies only four were fit for combat by war’s end and its technological secrets were quickly captured and noted by the Americans and British.
The Type XXI was a maritime thoroughbred and that’s why its featured as the first Design Spotlight!
Photo taken earlier this year, this is the beautiful town of Wye River.
So I gather it may be beneficial to include a brief auto-biography for whatever reason. I was born in Feb ‘95 in Adelaide, Australia and spent a short period of time growing up there before moving to Lorne which is a relatively small coastal spot in Victoria. I spent a lot of time on the beach there as a young child and I have never stopped visiting Lorne even though I moved to Melbourne to attend school in around 1998. (My family owns a holiday house in Wye River, an even smaller and secluded spot only 15 minute’s drive from Lorne and truly one of the most beautiful places in Australia.)
I attended Primary School from 2000-2006 and then High School from 2007-2012, graduating with my VCE. I currently attend Monash Uni, studying Industrial Design and am slated for graduation in 2016.
In 2000 (at the age of 4 or 5) I accidentally watched the film ‘Titanic’, and this sparked a life-long interest in ships of the 20th century and before. In a similar vein, in 2005 or 2006 I watched two films set in the Second World War (Battle of the Bulge, 1965 and Battle of Britain, 1968) which generated a keen interest in military history and aviation respectively. This greatly influences me even today, as from around this time I started sketching and designing my own battleships, fighter aircraft and bombers.
My hobbies include listening to older music (think pre-1970s), playing piano and, more recently, guitar, reading, walking, drawing and gaming.
"When I grow up I want to be a firetruck or a dinosaur." This rings as true today as it did back in 2001!
So that was way longer than I expected, but there you go. I hope it explains some of my peculiarities and specific interests. Hopefully after 2016 I can look back on this post and add more interesting things to it… like how I eventually did become a firetruck/dinosaur.
Following the example of my friends and colleagues, I have decided to finally start running a blog again! The last one I maintained is from 2010 and is therefore a little out of date.
Through this blog, I aim to write down whatever it is that piques my interest! As I am an ardent student of history and design, you can expect more than a fair share of posts pertaining to anything from the complexities of the airship Hindenburg’s construction to Bonaparte’s defeat at Waterloo in 1815. As such, to give my few (if any followers) a heads up, I will mark out each post with one of the following headlines;
- Design Spotlight (Focusing on one of history’s iconic designs)
- Personality (Pertaining to any interesting figures)
- Event (Any interesting happening)
- Showdown (Comparing rivaling designs, institutions or figures)
- Thoughts (My personal thoughts on a particular topic)
In this way you can skim through my posts (I aim to complete 2-3 per day) and pick out whatever may interest you!
Let’s see if I can’t keep this thing running!(Unlike my previous 2010 effort…)