In the Time of Gathering, Some are Better Off Alone

By Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes

This is the week of the mass American pilgrimage. Thanksgiving, more than any other holiday, is the day we Americans travel home. It is the one holiday we all share, no matter what our religion. The day when we gather as families.

Some of us will have genuinely happy reunions. The stuff of Norman Rockwell.

 

Image from Office of War Information, 1942, wikimedia commons.

Image from Office of War Information, 1942,
wikimedia commons.

 

Most of us will have mixed days. A bit of hassle and a family fuss getting out the door. Then we will roll our eyes at Uncle Freddie’s bad jokes and Aunt Marge complaining that the dressing is dry. But once everyone settles in for the football, it will all be good.

For some, though, Thanksgiving will be a gut-wrenching ordeal — an endurance test of dysfunctional abuse that demoralizes and convinces us that we deserve nothing from life but the crumbs of inadequacy and failed expectations.

Most people who persist in that brutal existence do so from habit and from the fear of change. But a brave few walk away into the unknown with the conviction that whatever lies ahead, it cannot be worse than the hell they left behind. They quit showing up for the beatings.

 

Canstock 2014 Girl Alone with Suitcase

If you are having joyful reunions this week, we celebrate with you. Such family experiences are the source of strength that sustains us through life’s turmoil.

If you are biting your tongue in between hugs and laughter, we admire you for your tolerance and commitment. Such commitment is the foundation of civilization.

If you are suffering, our hearts and prayers go out to you in the hopes that one day, you too will get out.

And if you are one of the ones who walked away, we salute you. You will be alone this week, or with close friends, or with people you barely know who have unfamiliar traditions. If you have persevered down your lonely path, you may even be with a new family by now, making Norman Rockwell jealous.

We know what it took for you to walk away, and we count you as our family. Your “not being there” didn’t come for free, and we honor the price you pay each day. It never gets easy, but it does get better. This song says it all.

 

 

Wherever you are in Life’s pilgrimage this Thanksgiving, we wish you peace.

Happy Thanksgiving!

At the Crossroads of NATO and Russia

By Jay Holmes

Friday, November 14, 2014 might end up being an important date in Western history—not for what happened on this day, but rather for what didn’t happen. The French government failed to deliver the new Mistral class helicopter carrier to the Russian Navy.

 

FS Mistral Amphibious Assault Ship in Toulon Harbor Image by Rama, wikimedia commons.

FS Mistral Amphibious Assault Ship in Toulon Harbor
Image by Rama, wikimedia commons.

 

On December 24, 2010, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced the sale of two French Mistral class ships to the Russian Navy. The contract was signed on January 25, 2011, with a delivery date for the first helicopter carrier, the Vladivostok, in October of 2014 and the second ship, the Sevastopol, to be delivered in 2015. Two more ships of the same class were then to be constructed under license in Russia. The price of the contract for the first two ships was 1.37 billion euros. This, of course, represented thousands of jobs for the troubled French economy.

In what was likely a well-rehearsed press briefing, Russian reporters asked Russian General Staff member General Nikolai Makarov why the ships would not be built in Russia where Russian workers could benefit from the project. General Makarov stated that the reason for purchasing the French design, rather than Russian, was that “Russia would require another ten years to develop technologies” that could match the Mistral class capabilities and that the Russian Navy did not want to endure that delay. In answering the question, he effectively confirmed the concerns of the US and some of its NATO members.

When the contract was announced in 2010, US Republican senators, led by John McCain, sent a letter of protest to the French Ambassador to the US. NATO member states Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia also protested against the sale. During his visit to Paris on January 8, 2011, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates expressed US concern over the substantial military technology upgrade that the French were exporting with the sale of the Mistral class ships to Russia. When questioned by journalists, Gates’ representatives stated that, in spite of US concerns, there was nothing that the US could do to block the sale of the Mistral ships to Russia. France had anticipated the complaints and ignored them. The construction proceeded on schedule.

On February 27, 2014, when the Russian flag was hoisted over the Ukrainian parliament in Crimea, the pending transfer of the Mistral ships to Russia quickly became a much more serious problem to Ukraine, to NATO member states, and to Sweden. With a planned delivery date of October 15 looming on the horizon, the US and NATO quietly stepped up pressure on the French government to halt the sale of the high tech Mistral ships. The French quickly complained that they would have to reimburse Russia the 1.1 billion euros already paid for the ship construction, and that it would cost France over a thousand jobs.

Members of the US Congress responded that NATO should purchase the two ships for use by the NATO Standing Force Atlantic and NATO Standing Force Mediterranean. NATO was slow to respond, but after a few weeks, they decided that they lacked the funds and mechanism for making such a purchase. In reality, if the UK and the US cooperated, an offer to purchase the ships at their original sales price could be made within days. France would have no doubt as to the validity of the offer, but that does not mean that France would easily agree.

In less public communications, the Russian government offered, in general terms and without producing a contract, to make further substantial warship purchases from the French shipyards if France delivers the two Mistral ships. Russia is also in a position to quietly make a variety of generous financial offers to the French government or to members of the French government. I am not aware of what other offers have or have not been made.

 

 

In response to pressure from its fellow NATO members, France delayed the projected delivery date to November 14 with the condition that a cease-fire and a permanent political solution be in place by then.

Only days before the deadline, Vladimir Putin did what he always does best. He hurt Russia. On November 10, 2014, Australia deployed warships to shadow Russian warships that had approached the Coral Sea. On November 13, the Russian ships were in the Coral Sea, where they approached, but did not enter, Australian territorial waters.

This bit of Putinism was in response to the announcement by the Australian government that at the G-20 meeting, they would confront Vladimir Putin about the fact that Russian forces had shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17, 2014. Thirty-eight Australians were killed in that attack.

On November 12, another Russian armored column crossed into Ukraine, further escalating the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and making it more politically difficult for France to deliver the ships. The November 14 delivery date has now passed, and France has thus far declined to turn over the ships to Russia.

The Russian government responded with its traditional lack of finesse. It officially announced that it would make financial claims against France if the first Mistral is not delivered by the end of November. Less officially, but quite publicly, they have announced that the financial claims would be in the neighborhood of 3 billion euros, and that France would face “grave consequences.” France responded by stating that it would not be forced into any decisions by anyone outside of France.

In spite of what Vladimir Putin’s media machine will tell the Russian public, Russia is, in fact, in no position to deliver and “grave consequences” to France. The Russian ships in the Coral Sea are not capable of overcoming Australia’s defenses, but the move plays well on Putin-controlled state media. As for Australia, Putin doesn’t give a damn what anyone in that country thinks.

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin contemplating the  "grave consequences" he would like to deliver. Image by www.kremlin.ru.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
contemplating the “grave consequences”
he would like to deliver.
Image by http://www.kremlin.ru.

 

While NATO maintains that it cannot purchase the two Mistral ships from France, some interesting options are available.

In 2010, Poland expressed an interest in possibly purchasing a Mistral class ship from France. For lack of funds, no offer has been tendered. Canada, a nation that has the funds, has also expressed an interest in purchasing two Mistral class ships from France. The UK, a nation that has the funds but won’t give the funds to its navy, has not expressed any interest in purchasing a Mistral class ship. Perhaps it should. With the once mighty Royal Navy currently reduced to having no carriers in service, the purchase of a single Mistral class helicopter carrier could serve to boost the Royal Navy’s defense capabilities until the two new Queen Elizabeth carriers enter service sometime after 2016. The helicopter carrier would remain useful to the Royal Navy long thereafter.

The likelihood of the UK considering the purchase of one of the Mistral carriers is approximately equal to the likelihood that I will win the lottery. I don’t buy lottery tickets. Since the US is expected to pick up the slack from the Royal Navy, and since there is next to no Canadian navy afloat from which to pick up any slack, it is in the direct interest of the US to offer partial financial assistance to Canada or to Poland for the purchase of the two Mistral carriers. The key to getting such a deal done would be to allow the French to announce that any such arrangements were the results of inspired, avant-garde thinking by members of the French government. Neither Canada nor Poland would care who claimed credit for any such deal.

My best guess is that between now and the end of November, Vladimir Putin will not learn to act in the best interests of Russia. Russia will continue its aggression against Ukraine, and, therefore, France will want to avoid suffering the political damage that will result in supplying Russia’s invading military with a new high-tech warship. Time still remains for France and its Western allies to come to their senses and redirect the Mistral ships to an allied navy. Whether or not reason will prevail in the long term remains to be seen.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

The Spy Bride Blogger Challenge!

Enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

Click HERE for details.

The Spy Bride Risky Brides Boxed Set final Cover

The Spy Bride Giveaway!

We also have some wonderful prizes for our readers to celebrate the success of our debut novella, THE SPY BRIDE, in the bestselling RISKY BRIDES collection. Sign up for the Bayard & Holmes newsletter, The Covert Message, and be automatically entered to win a Secret Decoder Ring, a stash of Ghirardelli chocolate, or a bottle of sparkling wine from Mumm Napa vineyard.

Bayard & Holmes Newsletter–The Covert Message

Click Here to Enter the Giveaway 

RISKY BRIDES . . . 8 genres. 8 novels and novellas. 8 takes on what makes a RISKY BRIDE. Now on sale for a limited time at only $.99 and available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, and Kobo.

BUGGING OUT — 5 Star Dystopian Fiction

By Piper Bayard

Noah Mann delivers a winner of a dystopian thriller with BUGGING OUT. The future is alarmingly possible, the characters are refreshingly real, and the challenges are terrifying in this deftly-spun tale of survival and treachery in a world left barren by the Blight.

Bugging Out by Noah Mann

Eric “Fletch” Fletcher is a sensible man–prepared, but not quite a prepper. The sort of fellow many of us are or hope to have for a neighbor when it all hits the fan. When Eric’s best friend, a government insider, approaches him with a warning to get out of town, Eric is most reluctant to do so. He fights his shifting reality right up until all of the TV stations broadcast a Code Red. Then, he can deny it no longer. Eric Fletcher must bug out.

As a highly trained survivalist and disaster preparedness expert, Noah Mann weaves a journey of endurance and gritty wit with exceptional style and polished prose. A great read that both thrills and satisfies. I decidedly recommend BUGGING OUT.

You can find BUGGING OUT, as well as the sequel, EAGLE ONE, at Amazon. Click on the pictures for the links.

Bugging Out Series Eagle One

 

US Navy Scandal–The Man with the Golden Silencer

By Jay Holmes

In November of 2013, the US Navy made public an investigation into the questionable purchase of firearms silencers* for US Navy SEAL Team 6. The silencers were for use with AK type weapons, such as the venerable Kalashnikov AK-47**. They were also to be “untraceable,” which is easily achieved by using simple, non-American designs without a serial number system or trademarks.

 

Beloved US Navy SEALs Image by Dept. of Defense, public domain

Beloved US Navy SEALs
Image by Dept. of Defense, public domain

 

So why would the grumpy US Navy inspectors be upset by the purchase of a few AK silencers for our beloved sailors in SEAL 6? Don’t the killers of Osama Bin Laden deserve to have the equipment they need? Sure, they do. But there were a few problematic details with these particular silencers.

First, nobody at SEAL 6 knew anything about the silencers in question. They never requested them, and they never received any of them.

Second, the Navy paid $1,600,000 for 349 silencers of the lowest imaginable quality. In fact, the silencers that my kids made for their third grade science projects were better quality.

Third, the order was completed with a no-bid contract given to a bankrupt auto mechanic, who just happens to be the brother of the civilian Navy Intelligence employee that requested the funds for the silencers.

In the spring of 2014, the US Attorney General’s office joined the US Navy in the investigation and brought the case before a federal judge. On October 30, US Judge Leonie Brinkema handed down a guilty verdict against two defendants, civilian Navy Intelligence official Lee Hall and auto mechanic Mark Landesman. Both are due to appear for sentencing in January 2015.

The disposition of two other civilian Navy employees is as yet unclear. Perhaps they were volunteered for target practice for SEAL 6. Well, probably not, but it’s always fun to imagine such things where people have indulged in such base corruption.

One marvelous piece of evidence that helped prosecutors was the fact that one defendant, the contracted mechanic Mark Landesman, was either too unskilled or too lazy to make the simple, low quality silencers himself. He instead subcontracted the work to a legitimate machinist and paid the machinist $8,000. That little detail fixed a clear value for the manufacturing of the silencers. There was no explaining away the $1,600,000 payment made by the Navy to Landesman.

One of the saddest things about this case is that, in spite of how lame their conspiracy was, they nearly got away with it. When US Special Forces need silencers, they don’t have to hire unemployed auto mechanics to make them. There are plenty of well-vetted contractors available that routinely supply such items.

I was half hoping that the defense team would roll out the old “this was really a CIA Black Ops job” defense ploy. It might have made the defendants eligible to be tried for Patriot Act violations, and then they would now be on extended all expenses paid vacations at a remote location in the Pacific Ocean, waiting for their preliminary hearing dates in the year 2090.

In this particular instance, though, we will have to settle for sentences ranging from five to fifteen years for the two guilty scammers and hope that the other two culprits don’t walk away untouched. SEAL 6 does indeed need lots of expensive items. So does every other group in the US military. But when traitors steal the taxpayers’ money, it damages national security.

Since 2010, the Navy has increased its efforts at preventing fraud and misallocation of resources. This case is probably the result of those efforts. With so many billions of dollars being spent on national defense, you can bet that plenty more scam artists will continue to do their best to rob you of your tax dollars. Let us hope that the Pentagon will continue to refine their defense against fraud.

*In the case of an AK-47, the term “suppressor” is generally more apt than “silencer,” but this story is referenced at other sites throughout the internet using the term “silencer.” For the sake of clarity and consistency, we have done the same.

**US military forces at times opt to use various non-American weapons for a range of operations.

1-800-ZAPP-ASS: Shock Those Politicians into Shape!

By Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

Are you feeling abused by your political system? Disgusted with your congressmen and their yes men? Ready to move to Central America to find some semblance of organized government?

Fear not! Bayard & Holmes stand ever prepared to turn your problems into our opportunities. We are proud and excited to bring you our latest ingenious program calculated to lower your stress and increase your happiness. We call it 1-800-ZAPP-ASS. Here’s how it works. . . .

 

Actual photo of Political Offender  hit by 1-800-ZAPP-ASS

Actual photo of Political Offender
hit by 1-800-ZAPP-ASS

 

For a meager donation of $1.99, you can dial or text 1-800-ZAPP-ASS and deliver an electric shock to the Political Offender of your choice—congressmen, elected officials (no Executive Privilege applies), or a fervent, annoying, neighborhood political party radical. You can even use this device to zapp some sense into social media ranters, or those college kids still young enough to know everything who come to our doors, clipboard in hand, and tell us how misguided we are in our political views.

All proceeds will go toward the Bayard & Holmes Charitable Foundation, benefitting loyal Americans (us) who don’t support any politicians or their self-serving political agendas. The Bayard & Holmes Charitable Foundation will then use that money to promote their Matching Funds Campaign Funding Reform. Under our proposed system, all contributions to political parties and/or candidates would require matching funding to reputable veterans’ charities such as USA Cares, the Wounded Warrior Foundation, and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. That way, instead of politicos SAYING they support veterans during campaign seasons to garner votes, they could actually DO it.

 

Lt. Col. Greg Gadson, who lost both legs in an IED attack in Iraq in 2007, shares a moment with fellow artilleryman, Capt. David Evetts, commander of Battery D, 1st Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment, at the Ledward Theater, Sept. 29.

Lt. Col. Greg Gadson, who lost both legs in an IED attack in Iraq in 2007, shares a moment with fellow artilleryman, Capt. David Evetts, commander of Battery D, 1st Battalion, 77th Field Artillery Regiment, at the Ledward Theater, Sept. 29.

 

Sound amazing? But wait! There’s more!

The top 12 most-zapped Political Offenders will win all expense paid vacations to Camp Cheerful Summer Camp for Adults in the beautiful blue Caribbean on the coast of Cuba.

Our highly trained Happiness Specialists will be waiting for your favorite Political Offenders with a very special fun activity designed just for them. We call it Politicalboarding.

 

Camp Cheerful Happiness Specialists at Play Image by US Marine Corps, public domain

Camp Cheerful Happiness Specialists at Play
Image by US Marine Corps, public domain

 

With Politicalboarding, the Political Offenders are restrained in a room together where they are subjected to each other’s company. Then, they sit through 72 non-stop, fun-filled hours of Ted Cruz filibustering, only interrupted by diaper changes and electric shocks when their eyelids droop. After that, the Political Offenders will be forced to stand at attention until they have memorized each one of the over 2,500,000 words in the Obamacare statutes and regulations.

No worries! This is nothing like waterboarding. In fact, Political Offenders at Camp Cheerful aren’t even given water.

Once they can recite Obamacare like a Baptist Circuit Preacher quoting the Holy Bible at a tent revival, the Political Offenders will be treated to a sumptuous banquet of gluten-packed, dairy-packed, sugar-loaded, freeze dried, GMO whole wheat bread crust and a draught from the local sacred spring of Baca Podrida (translation “Rotting Cow”).

After their meal, the Political Offenders will be strapped to chairs and turned upside down in a dunking booth. Then, since Baseball is not only our religion but the All-American Sport, major league hopefuls will practice their throws. Just so you know, this isn’t waterboarding, either. It’s Strategic Dunking.

 

A well-disguised C.C. Sabathia showing how it's done. Image by Tim Evanson, wikimedia commons.

A well-disguised C.C. Sabathia showing how it’s done.
Image by Tim Evanson, wikimedia commons.

 

Text, phone, tweet, email, or FaceBook now and contribute your $1.99 to zapp Congress into action. Let’s remind these self-serving bozos who exempt themselves from everything from NSA spying to Obamacare that we have a special interest, too. We call it “America.”

If you would like to suggest anyone to receive a shocking wake up from 1-800-ZAPP-ASS, please feel free to do so below. However, in the interests of delicacy and the fact that social media platforms take years to build and can be destroyed in seconds, please only refer to your Political Offenders by clean and clever code names.

Now, now! No crowding, and no personal attacks on each other in the Comments Section. We’ll leave that sort of unethical, unprofessional behavior to the politicians.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Don’t miss The Spy Bride Blogger Challenge!

Click HERE for details.

Or The Spy Bride Giveaway!

We have some wonderful prizes for readers to celebrate the release of our debut novella, THE SPY BRIDE, in the RISKY BRIDES Bestsellers’ Collection. Sign up for the Bayard & Holmes Newsletter and be automatically entered to win a Secret Decoder Ring, a stash of Ghirardelli chocolate, or a bottle of sparkling wine from Mumm Napa vineyard.

Bayard & Holmes Newsletter Link–Click Here to Enter

The Spy Bride Risky Brides Boxed Set final Cover

 

RISKY BRIDES . . . 8 genres. 8 novels and novellas. 8 takes on what makes a RISKY BRIDE. Now on sale for a limited time at only $.99 and available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, and Kobo.

 

5th Annual Spook Appreciation Day–The Untalented Bank Clerk

By Jay Holmes

Every year at Halloween, Bayard & Holmes honor one of the unsung heroes of the intelligence community with our Annual Spook Appreciation Day. This year, we recognize British spook Eric Arthur Roberts, an “untalented” bank clerk in the UK who conducted valuable work against Nazi Germany’s Gestapo during World War Two. His identity was one of MI-5’s tightly guarded secrets until only last week.

 

Eric Roberts posing as a bank clerk. Click on picture for a link to the copyrighted photo of this master spy.

Eric Roberts posing as a bank clerk.
Click on picture for a link to the copyrighted photo of this master spy.

 

Before and during World War Two, Germany had a well-trained professional intelligence service, the Abwehr, which was operated by well-trained German military personnel. Nazi party membership was not required to work in the Abwehr. However, there was a predominance of well-educated personnel in the service, which likely contributed to the organization’s lack of enthusiasm for Hitler and the Nazi party.

The Nazi party was aware of the Abwehr’s lack of Nazi devotion, so Hitler relied heavily on his secret police organization known as the Gestapo, which was led by Heinrich Himmler. Hitler also counted on the SD, which was the intelligence branch of the Nazi Party’s Waffen-SS, a.k.a. the Storm Troopers. Eventually, Himmler took control of the entire German SS, along with the secret police.

Himmler used his secret police authority against his political opponents within the Nazi Party with great success, and he tried to convince Hitler to let him take command of all German intelligence resources. However, it seems that Hitler was well aware of his senior minions’ machinations against each other, and he skillfully encouraged it as a way to keep himself safe from any “second-in-command” that might become too powerful.

 

 

We now know that the Nazi’s distrust of the Abwehr was well founded. After the war ended, as more secret information was slowly released to the public, it became apparent to historians that Admiral Canaris and many of his top deputies in the Abwehr not only lacked enthusiasm for the Nazi party, but they actually actively plotted against it, including involvement in multiple assassination attempts against Hitler.

Based on their lack of trust in the Abwehr, the Gestapo and the SD branch of the SS invested heavily in intelligence operations against the UK and the allies.

While understanding the structure and organization of German intelligence operations must have been an ongoing nightmare for a well-established and tradition-bound organization like MI-5, MI-5 never allowed that to slow them down in their secret war against Axis intelligence operations.

Any study of MI-5’s wartime operations leads to various interpretations, depending on the student. One conclusion that would be difficult for any serious student of espionage to miss would be the fact that, while MI-5 was remarkably ineffective in combating Soviet espionage, they were remarkably efficient in dealing with the massive intelligence efforts conducted by the Nazis against Great Britain.

MI-5 could never be certain which German organization was running which intelligence operation against the UK, but they were certain that all German intelligence operations needed to be defeated. On Friday, October 24, 2014 we learned precisely how the Gestapo and SD espionage operations were so successfully defeated.

In large measure, it was due to a bank clerk, or at least he appeared to be a bank clerk.

This particular spook was so successful in maintaining his cover as a bank employee that when the British War Office requested that his bank employers release him from his work for war service, the bank management resisted. They claimed that their employee clearly lacked any special talent that would make him particularly useful for the war effort. They couldn’t have been more wrong. The bank’s seemingly untalented clerk, Eric Arthur Roberts, was in fact a master spy and had been since before World War Two even started.

Someone in MI-5 leadership understood that countering the German Abwehr would not be enough. They had the foresight to realize that not only would the Nazi SS SD conduct operations against Great Britain, but also that Himmler might use his Gestapo personnel to conduct his own operations against the allies. In an example of excellent judgment, MI-5 selected Eric Roberts to run an operation against the Nazi’s.

So how does one bank clerk with nothing more than a suspicion that Germany would recruit more spies in the UK manage to foil the Gestapo? It occurred to our seemingly dull bank clerk that the best way to locate any disloyal, Gestapo-inclined British citizens was to recruit them first.

Roberts set up a system that any pyramid scheme con man would envy.

He posed as an undercover Gestapo agent and recruited the would-be traitors. They thought they were working for the Gestapo. Rather than arrest them, MI-5 trained them and used them to recruit their own networks of “Nazi” spies.

Roberts’s operation dried up the pools of Nazi sympathizers and kept them occupied, hindering the Nazi efforts to find real British traitors to work for them. Meanwhile, MI-5 and MI-6 both fed a healthy diet of double agents to the Abwehr, the SS SD, and the Gestapo. These double agents presented the Germans with various case files of imaginary agents, producing tons of delightful and delicious, but usually fake, information. They fed the Germans enough real information to keep them happy, but that real information was just late enough for it to not quite be useful.

Eric Roberts’s operations against the Gestapo, along with similar operations by MI-5 and MI-6 against the Abwehr and SS SD, explain why Hitler was so certain that the allied D-Day invasion would land at Calais rather than at Normandy. Hitler held stubbornly to that conviction against the advice of his General Staff and the advice of his Army Headquarters Staff.

After World War Two, Eric Roberts and his family moved to Salt Spring Island in Canada.

 

Salt Spring Island, Canada Image by Paperandglue, public domain.

Salt Spring Island, Canada
Image by Paperandglue, public domain.

 

There, he pursued a quiet rural life on the Canadian Pacific. Roberts took up writing and, not surprisingly, he was popular with the local inhabitants. Clearly, the man had a great talent for establishing friendships.

Eric Arthur Roberts passed away in 1972 with no recognition for his fantastic work against the Nazis. Like so many intelligence service personnel, he took his secrets to the grave with him. We now know that this seemingly insignificant bank clerk played an important role in defeating the Nazi plague.

Piper and I offer our humble but sincere salute to Eric Arthur Roberts and his cohorts, both known and unknown, on this 5th Annual Spook Appreciation Day.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Don’t miss The Spy Bride Blogger Challenge!

Click HERE for details.

Or The Spy Bride Giveaway!

We have some wonderful prizes for readers to celebrate the release of our debut novella, THE SPY BRIDE, in the RISKY BRIDES Bestsellers’ Collection. Sign up for the Bayard & Holmes Newsletter and be automatically entered to win a Secret Decoder Ring, a stash of Ghirardelli chocolate, or a bottle of sparkling wine from Mumm Napa vineyard.

Bayard & Holmes Newsletter Link–Click Here to Enter

The Spy Bride Risky Brides Boxed Set final Cover

 

RISKY BRIDES . . . 8 genres. 8 novels and novellas. 8 takes on what makes a RISKY BRIDE. Now on sale for a limited time at only $.99 and available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, and Kobo.

 

Muslim Radicals Attack Vienna (Again)

By Jay Holmes

In 1682, Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I was facing the nightmare that had haunted Austro-German leaders for centuries—the Hapsburg Empire was threatened by simultaneous wars on two fronts. On the Rhine to the west, his German states were under threat from a broad coalition of protestant nations such as England, Sweden, the protestant German principalities, and Catholic France. To the east, his Hungarian kingdom was in rebellion. Leopold chose to pay minimal attention to the rebellion in Hungary and stationed the majority of his troops and artillery along the Rhine.

 

Battle of Vienna, 1683 Painting by Juliusz Kossak, public domain

Battle of Vienna, 1683
Painting by Juliusz Kossak, public domain

 

Eighteen years earlier, a twenty-year peace treaty had been agreed to by the Ottoman Empire and Leopold’s Holy Roman Empire. Facing simultaneous threats on two fronts, Leopold was anxious to conclude an extension of that peace treaty. From his Ottoman neighbors’ point of view, the time was ripe for an invasion of Europe. Ottoman Emperor Mehmed IV declined to extend the peace treaty and authorized Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa to prepare for an invasion of Leopold’s Holy Roman Empire.

Vienna had been a tempting prize for the Ottomans since they came to power in 1299. Located on a navigable portion of the upper Danube River at the eastern end of the Alps, the city had been a strategic trading hub since around 500 B.C. The Ottomans viewed Vienna as a potential base for the eventual conquest of all of Europe.

In 1529, Suleiman the Magnificent had led an Ottoman army to an expensive defeat at the gates of Vienna. (See Muslim Radicals Attack Vienna.) Kara Mustafa was determined to avoid Suleiman’s mistakes. The idea of succeeding where the great Suleiman had failed became an overriding force in all of Mustafa’s military thinking.

 

Portrait of Kara Mustafa Artist unknown, public domain

Portrait of Kara Mustafa
Artist unknown, public domain

 

A more patient military leader might have advanced toward Vienna by successively conquering less heavily defended territories and eventually massing large forces closer to Vienna to attack that city without moving a large army over long distances. Such a strategy would have left the eventual conquest of Vienna to a future generation of Ottoman leaders. For Kara Mustafa, such a plan held no appeal. For him, the most important thing about capturing Vienna was that he be at the head of the Ottoman army that achieved that victory.

Instead of launching an Army westward as Suleiman had done in 1529, Mustafa invested heavily in improving roads and bridges leading into Europe while he amassed weapons, ammunition, and supplies at advanced bases. Mustafa wanted his Army to arrive well rested at the gates of Vienna in the summer of 1683. The plan made sense, but it had one drawback. The Ottoman preparations for a campaign to the west, along with their refusal to extend the peace treaty, did not go unnoticed by the Emperor Leopold.

 

Portrait of Leopold I of Hapsburg Holy Roman Emperor Artist unknown, public domain

Portrait of Leopold I of Hapsburg
Holy Roman Emperor
Artist unknown, public domain

 

Leopold and his military leaders used the time wisely. They did two important things. They reinforced the walls of Vienna and lay in supplies and ammunition for their cannons, and they concluded a treaty for mutual defense with Polish King Jan III Sobieski.

On April 1, 1683, the Ottoman Army began its march toward Vienna. Unlike his predecessor in 1529, Kara Mustafa did not have to fight a significant series of battles to arrive at Vienna. But similarly to Suleiman, Mustafa had used the standard jihadi holy war spiel to whip up support for his campaign.

For Mustafa, his ambition to take Vienna was likely more personal than religious, but convincing thousands of troops to leave their families behind and risk their lives for the sake of their general’s vanity is never a good recruiting plan. On the other hand, the jihadi holy war marketing plan worked like a charm, but it came at a cost that Mustafa did not anticipate.

On the way to Vienna, the jihadi-inspired army raped and pillaged, as did many armies of the day. When they reached Perchtoldsdorf, Austria, on the way to Vienna, Mustafa offered the city the chance to surrender in exchange for the safety of the city’s inhabitants. The city surrendered, and Mustafa’s jihadis immediately sacked it.

Mustafa’s army arrived at the gates of Vienna on July 14, 1683, and demanded immediate surrender in exchange for safe passage for all the soldiers and citizens. However, the Viennese had heard about the slaughter at Perchtoldsdorf, and they had no intentions of surrendering.

 

Map of Vienna, 1683 By Giovanni Giacomo de Rossi, public domain

Map of Vienna, 1683
By Giovanni Giacomo de Rossi, public domain

 

Estimates of the size of Mustafa’s forces vary widely depending on the sources. If we count the Tartar cavalry that joined Mustafa en-route to Vienna, it’s likely that he had approximately 190,000 troops at his disposal. Vienna had a garrison of 15,000 professional soldiers and 8,500 volunteers to defend the city. Also, further west, the Duke of Lorraine’s supporting force of 20,000 troops awaited reinforcements from Germany and Poland.

Based on the numbers of troops each side had on July 14, it seems that the Ottomans should have had an easy victory at hand, but when we consider the artillery that each side had, we discover why the Ottomans didn’t snatch a quick victory as soon as they arrived at Vienna. The Ottomans had 149 cannons ranging from light to medium size. The Viennese garrison had 370 cannons of medium to large size. The Viennese advantage in artillery was multiplied by the fact that they were in well-constructed battlements, whereas the Ottomans had no real defensive cover from which to conduct an artillery duel.

Mustafa was unaware that Poland and Germany were already sending a relief force to Vienna. Supremely confident in his position, he avoided an outright artillery duel and began mining operations to tunnel under the city walls. Mustafa hoped that after undermining and blowing up a significant segment of Vienna’s defensive walls, a portion of his vastly superior forces could rush the city. It was a reasonable plan, but it required time.

 

King Jan III Sobieski Blessing Polish Attack Painting by Juliusz Kossak, public domain

King Jan III Sobieski Blessing Polish Attack
Painting by Juliusz Kossak, public domain

 

Unfortunately for Mustafa, Poland’s King Jan III Sobieski was not altogether reasonable. On September 6, 1683, a force of 37,000 Polish troops crossed the Danube River twenty miles NW of Vienna and joined with a relief force of 47,000 troops of the Holy Roman Empire. After some initial squabbling over who would take overall command of the army, Sobieski was given the job.

On the night of September 11, the combined Holy Roman and Polish army got its artillery up steep terrain to a commanding position on the right flank of Mustafa’s army. On the morning of September 12, as Mustafa was launching a final assault on Vienna, the relief force struck with artillery and infantry assaults against Mustafa’s right flank.

Kara Mustafa calculated that he still vastly outnumbered the combined forces of the Vienna garrison and Sobieski’s army. He continued the final assault on Vienna while ordering a portion of his army to defend against Sobieski’s attack. He also ordered that the thirty thousand Christian prisoners he collected en-route to Vienna be executed.

 

Siege of Vienna, 1683 Painting by Frans Geffels, public domain

Siege of Vienna, 1683
Painting by Frans Geffels, public domain

 

By the late afternoon, Mustafa realized that his assault on Vienna was failing and that Sobieski’s army was not defeated. He tried to realign his forces to deal a heavy blow against Sobieski’s relief force, but before he could get his army into a better disposition for attacking, an 18,000-strong fresh cavalry force swept down the slope against the Ottoman lines. Mustafa’s army broke. When the sun set on the battlefield that day, it was effectively setting on the Ottoman’s ambitions to conquer Europe.

Mustafa’s army lost around 20,000 men in the siege of Vienna. In their battle with the relief force, they lost an additional 40,000 troops. Mustafa retreated with the remains of his army to Belgrade.

On Christmas day in 1683, the Janissaries—Mustafa’s elite troops—received a message from the Ottoman ruler Mehmed IV instructing that Kara Mustafa be executed. The Janissaries used a silk cord to strangle Kara Mustafa. His head was delivered to Mehmed IV in a velvet sack.

 

Return from Vienna Polish-Lithuanians leaving Vienna with their loot after defeating the Ottomans Painting by Jozef Brandt, public domain

Return from Vienna
Polish-Lithuanians leaving Vienna with their loot after defeating the Ottomans
Painting by Jozef Brandt, public domain

 

The Ottoman Empire endured for over two more centuries after their failed attack on Vienna, but it remained in a defensive mode for the rest of its history. In their final great foreign policy miscalculation, the Ottomans sided with the Austro-Hungarian-German powers against the European allies in World War One. In 1923, the Empire was dissolved and the modern state of Turkey came into being.