Sergey Petrov – Russian Billionaire, Automotive Oligarch and Prisoner of the KGB

I recently had the opportunity to interview Sergey Petrov, Deputy of the State Duma, and member of the “Spravedlivaya Rossiya” (A Just Russia) political party, member of the Russian Budget and Taxes State Duma Committee and the founder of the ROLF Group, the first diversified automotive business in Russia.

Sergey Petrov is an exception to the rule: a Russian billionaire who built his business from nothing as opposed to benefiting from the privatisations in the early 1990’s. An independent straight talker, with a remarkable personal history; he reflects the changes and turbulent times of post and pre Soviet – Russia.

He is a pragmatic and passionate about his country and a vociferous critic of the status quo in Russian politics; and of Russia’s leaders.

Graduating from school in 1971 he entered the Higher Military Aviation School in Orenburg, southern Russia. In 1975 he was commissioned and qualified as a pilot in the elite Soviet Strategic Air Force. Flying Tupolev Tu-16 BADGER aircraft, a twin- engine, strategic nuclear bomber, he often challenged NATO skies.

“I remember these days, flying the big planes and making the (NATO) fighters accompany us” recalled Sergey.

Retraining on fighter aircraft he became an Instructor, won the Soviet TOP GUN at Fighter School, Orenburg and looked set for a meteoric military career as he made Major at 26, a decade earlier than most of his peers. And, like a meteor, his career in the military crashed.

He recalled “It was in 1982 when I finished my military career as I fought against the KGB and the Communist Party.”

Whilst it became possible to challenge authority in the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s the earlier era of Brezhnev and Andropov (1964 to 1985) were a different case entirely. Soviet justice was swift and severe. Andropov, the former KGB leader who led the Soviet Union between 1982 and 1985, was a hard liner whom played a key role in crushing the Hungarian Revolution in 1956; the ring leaders were arrested and executed.

In 1982, if you were not part of the ‘system’, it was an intimidating environment.

“The KGB had been watching us and decided to bring us into custody. Not only me, but 12 colleagues as well, living in different cities as we had now scattered across the Soviet Union”.

Sergey Petrov had started his protest against the ruling Communist Party at the age of 21 and had tried to influence his colleagues and students highlighting the injustice of the system.

“I had many targets and goals. I had to teach the students to fly the aircraft, to hit the targets and to indoctrinate them with Soviet propaganda. No one asked me to fight against the Soviet system. It was not in my job description. It was why they decided to kick me out.”

By 1982 his war of ‘propaganda’ had been noticed and he was dismissed from the Soviet Army and expelled from The Communist Party of the Soviet Union for anti-Soviet propaganda and participation in secret democratic organizations.

Unable to find work in Orenburg, Petrov along with his wife and baby, made their way to Moscow. Petrov’s anti- Soviet activities precluded him from working for any elite organisations like the military, security or diplomatic corps.

Between 1982 and 1989 he worked for the Mosinzhstroy, the Moscow construction company and studied at the Soviet Trade Institute. He graduated in 1987.

“When the market economy became a reality I decided to stop working for nothing and to open my own company. But first, as I had nothing I decided to acquire experience. I got a job in a joint venture with Rosek for a small period of time, maybe a year and a half and gained experience”.

In 1991, as the Soviet Union fell apart, Petrov joined thousands of Russians at the barricades around Bely Dom, the Russian White House, resisting the attempted coup d’état by Soviet hardliners loyal to the crumbling regime.

“On the day of the Coup I spent the night in the crowd outside the White House. It was my dream. I was dedicated to the democratic process, democratic rules and future”.

The coup attempt failed and led to the annulment of the 1922 union treaty that established the Soviet Union, led to the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the beginning of radical Russian economic reforms. The new reality for its citizens was a fight for survival in the new Russia.

“We were in an awful environment in the 1990’s but we had hope. Every year it was getting better and better.”

Sergey Petrov’s first foray into his own business was with a car rental business.

“I decided to set up my own company “Rolf”. The Company was registered on the 5th August 1991 but we had already been working in that year. A successful business, especially if you consider the unfriendly environment we had in Russia. In the beginning we worked for foreign companies. When we expanded into the home market, we immediately lost a lot of cars. People rented the cars and went to Kavkaz (to export them).”

He laughed as he recalled the situation.

“No one could find the cars. The people renting them had a good business!”

The business, sold off by MBO, still flourishes today.

Sergey moved into the automotive retail sector.

“Mitsubishi created a tender for its first car dealership in Russia. We participated and we won. We started the business and we were very successful. We had a very ‘soft’ approach with Mitsubishi, asking them to teach us. We were not arrogant, unlike the other participants in the tender process, who tried to teach the Japanese how to sell cars.

I remember the Japanese, in charge of the tender, losing his cool with the other participants. Leaning forward, he banged his hand on the table.

“Thank you very much! We shall not work with you”.

It was a very successful day for us”.

In 1992 ROLF started sales of Mitsubishi new cars, managing to sell 192 that year.

In 1994 the company opened the first purpose built Mitsubishi show room in Moscow.

When asked about his choice of industry and his thoughts that the automotive sector in the 1990’s being heavily criminalised with gangsters and oligarchs a like carving out chunks of cash and areas to control he says “The industry was like a toy for an oligarch. We had absolutely different aspirations. They only had the target of earning money and gaining political power. We were focused on how to build a nice Company, a great Company. We had the dream to build our company to be like the best companies in the world.

Sergey Petrov built his business around core values of openness, honesty and transparency which will have presented more than a few challenges in an environment renowned for its opaqueness. His goal was to recruit people who believed in his vision.

By 1999 ROLF was the largest foreign car importer in Russia, with revenues of $100 million, a not insignificant figure for a start up business only 9 years old.

In 2000 Sergey Petrov enlisted Matt Donnelley, the charismatic business leader,promoted him Chief Executive in 2004 and took the post of “Honorary President” himself. Thus began the second Epoch, the ‘Donnelley years’. The success of the new management team from 2000 was reflected in the position Rolf continued to enjoy its dominant position as the premier importer and distributor of foreign cars in Russia.

“You recruit people who bring efficiency in the long run, if they share your core values then they can run the business without making any big mistakes and you don’t have to keep telling them what to do”.

In 2001 Rolf opened its first non Mitsubishi Dealerships as the company started sales of Audi and Ford cars. In 2006 as ‘Best Brand in Russia’ it sold approximately 124,000 cars with 155,000 cars the following year. The ROLF machine, by now the 5th largest in Europe by new car sales, seemed unstoppable. In 2007 the Avtomir organisation, ROLF’s closest Russian rival, managed to achieve less than half of ROLF’s sales. In September 2008, Rolf Import had landed 15,000 Mitsubishi cars for the Russian market through Kotka and St Petersburg.

Halcyon days, indeed.

However, changes were in the offing and the entrepreneurial flair went from the business as both Sergey Petrov and Matt Donnelley exited the business. Sergey was nominated to the Duma in December 2007. Matt Donnelley had overseen Rolf’s stratospheric growth and had been instrumental in taking Rolf from a $100 million turnover to over $ 5 billion in 7 years.

Sergey recalled “I had completely left the business at that point. I was elected to parliament and tried to change the whole environment. I tried to help. It did not make sense to make another billion if the powers that be can take away the first one. I decided to spend my time and energy to improve Russia’s business environment.

In 10-years we built a good company but discovered it is impossible to build the world’s greatest company in this country. It is not a business friendly state… all the officials are dedicated to history. We, the people, need to fall down a few times and learn lessons that we should be more concerned about ourselves, our family and friends and co-fellows… than being a super power. It needs to be overcome and will take two generations”.

The end of the second Epoch ushered in a new ROLF.

Sergey Petrov recalled Nick Hawkins, the new ROLF CEO 2007 to 2010, asking when ROLF was strongest. Sergey’s response “between 2004 and 2007.”

This period saw ROLF revenues double in size year on year, a colossal achievement with remarkable profits, and the envy of similar groups worldwide.

“The best years for Rolf were after I handed over to Matt Donnelley as Chief Executive. Matt compensated for my imperfections. He contributed his professionalism, made sure the company remained focused on our core values and gave us our greatest mutual success”

A privately owned company, with one single-minded shareholder and a very strong CEO, reflects both the character and personalities of those business owners. The abrupt removal of these characters from ROLF and the knock-on changes in leadership led to an emergence of a different company with a changed ethos; and an end to the runaway success of previous years.

“The Company started to deteriorate after 2007. Even before the crisis, the Company was not so strong.”

The 3rd Epoch saw a changed and expanded management team, hungry to benefit from big bonuses and the success of Russia’s accomplished automotive group. Ultimately the evolution was ephemeral, expensive and doomed as it ran head long off the cliff in 2008.

Welcome to the global financial crisis.

In Petrov’s words “ROLF became more and more bureaucratic and more and more inefficient… and not flexible enough to face the future”.

One can sympathise with him as he underwrote the largesse with over $300 million losses. The ROLF pendulum swung far, in a relatively short space of time and the cash burn was prodigious.

The management team went into crisis mode: free hold sales and lease backs, the cancellation of all new projects and scale backs on others, a fire sale of stock (new vehicles were sold for less than the wholesale prices leading to one European manufacturer recalling an entire model range from the Russian market).

A desperate grab for business began across all the business sectors. Belatedly, business unit managers recognised the scale and severity of the crisis. The actions were too little and too late as other, more agile businesses, took available contracts and more direct measures of cost reduction.

Sergey Petrov returned in 2010, leading to a mass exodus of top management, and heralding ROLF’s rapid resurgence. The business had survived the greatest financial crisis since the 1930’s; but at a cost, as Petrov sold 40% of his company to the Mitsubishi Corporation.

ROLF is a different company now to the one that entered the global crisis in 2008. The management team has changed and again, led by its founder. The ethos is now on efficiency and rebuilding profit whilst focusing on the car retail sector. None core businesses may spun-off. The market is changing as IPO’s will see a swathe of mega-groups retailing cars in the Russian market.

Sergey Petrov, “receiving purchase offers every other day” has no intention of following suit and intends to remain the owner of a “family business” albeit a large one. Rolf has been, since its inception, one of leading companies in the Russian automobile market. Now it is the official dealer of 13 brands, with 30 Moscow and Saint Petersburg dealership centers and remains one of the largest automotive concerns in Russia.

“We will be chasing efficiency as government will put more burdens on business.30% social taxes are high so we have to become the most efficient”

What was the pivot moment?

“It was not my decision that changed my life but the KGB’s; when they arrested and kicked me out of the Air Force. I couldn’t find a job in the city where I lived so I had to leave Orenburg and go to Moscow with my wife and 1-year old son. I think that changed my life, drastically.

I could not do anything except fly my fighter jet and I thought that this was a big problem. But, I was young and it allowed me a restart. I lost 7-years but I retrained and I graduated from Moscow University. All the diplomatic and military careers were closed to me. The KGB watched me and accompanied me everywhere’.

What are you most proud of?

“I think it is the people around me. Like Tatiana (Lukovetskaya) and others. We brought up a lot of people who are working now in different companies but they absorbed some of our core values. The most profitable business is the most honest business.”

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

“A politician working for a better Russia and leader in my business “

Aston Martin or a Ferrari?

“Aston Martin”

Source by Alexander J Rogan

Cinco De Mayo De Battle Puebla

Cinco De Mayo Date: May 5, 2010 – Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Mexico as a public holiday. Cinco de Mayo, translated as the 5th of May, is a holiday celebrated in Mexico. This day is marked to celebrate the victory where a small outnumbered Mexican army troops over a full army of the French at the Battle of Puebla. It is a holiday celebrated mostly in Puebla. It is not celebrated much in other states of Mexico. The festival has its own fan fare in the United States which has a noticeable presence of Mexicans. The festival in the United States of America is to celebrate the Mexican culture and the holiday in Mexico is to celebrate the victory at the Battle of Puebla.

Cinco de Mayo History: Mexico had got independence from their Spanish rulers after many bloody battles in the year of 1821. After this there were a series of internal turmoil's and the Civil War in Mexico in the year 1858 had left the economy in ruins. In order to rebuild the country Mexico had become indebted to many countries such as England, Spain and France.

In order to collect back their debts the Spanish, English and the French came back to Mexico. The Spanish and the English quickly made deals and left for their country. But the French had other plans. During that time the French had been expanding their empire under the rule of Napoleon. They were eager to expand their rule into Mexico also. Subsequently Mexico stopped making payments to France and the French used this opportunity to expand their empire. The Battle of Puebla The eight thousand men strong French army invaded from the gulf coast of Mexico near Veracruz and began their march towards the Mexican Capital. The Mexican army encountered stiff resistance at Puebla at the place of the forts of Loreto and Guadalupe. A Small little equipped Mexican Army of about four thousand men commanded by General Ignacio Zaragoza. The French Army was never defeated at battle in the last fifty years. But in the Battle of Puebla the French were beaten by an ill equipped army only half their strength. This happened on the 5th of May 1862.

The Aftermath of The Battle of Puebla Unfortunately for the Mexicans the victory was short – lived. On hearing of the French Army's failure Napoleon III sent up a 30,000 strong army to conquer Mexico. A year later, the French Army was able to defeat Mexican Army and installed Maximillan as the ruler of Mexico. This victory was too only till 1867. The United States had by then recovered from the civil war. They began supplying the rebels with weapons to fight the French. The Mexican rebels at last finally killed Maximillan. His bullet ridden shirt still hangs in the Museum at Mexico City. Celebration of Victory Although the military victory at Puebla in 1862 was very short lived, the Mexicans in the state of Puebla celebrated this with great vigor. They celebrate the story of the small little armed Mexican Army's victory over the fully equipped French Army.

Cinco de Mayo Traditions and Activities: While the celebration of the festival in Mexico is in itself highly sparse the Americans take immense pleasure in celebrating this festival. Cinco de Mayo is also celebrated in the states of the US bordering with Mexico. In these places the celebrations are just a celebration of the Mexican Culture of Beverage, food, music and customs. Commercial interests have also played an important role in advertizing the holiday in Mexico and the US. It has become a holiday with celebrations of music, food and beverages.

Cinco de Mayo is also known as:

  • Battle of Puebla
  • The day Mexico defeated the French Army.

Source by Noel Moitre

A Brief History Of Double Glazing

The creation of double glazed windows is a testament to the phrase, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

Historians speculate that Scottish families residing in large Victorian residences were the pioneers of double glazing. In olden days, many homes would rely on the kitchen fire to keep warm. It was not enough to insulate large houses though, so families were forced to look for ways to fight the draught and keep their colossal mansions heated during winter.

The technology eventually made its way to the United States in the 1930s. As a matter of fact, some accounts credit the invention of double glazing to American inventor C.D. Haven. The windows were then called “thermopane” and were primarily marketed through the Libby Owens Ford Glass Company. By 1950, thermopanes enjoyed immense popularity in the United States and became a trademark synonymous to sophistication and luxury.

Interestingly, it was not until several decades later that the UK market caught up with the trend. The delayed reception boiled down to two practical reasons: Double glazed windows were too expensive for the average household to afford and they were not really needed at the time.

It was only between the late 1970s and 1980s that UK finally took notice – it was impossible not to. It was just too much to rely on traditional heating methods to warm the home if much of the heat was lost through draughty single-pane windows. As energy costs soared, luckily cheaper materials for double glazed windows emerged.

Apart from expensive wooden frames, consumers could then cut costs by opting for aluminium or uPVC alternatives. Overall, the prevailing circumstances demanded that more energy-efficient and cost-effective options be considered.

Today, it’s more than just a luxury item or a need-based commodity. It has become a big business and a major home improvement option. With more companies moving towards expanding their product portfolio, the application of the technology has also expanded from simple windows to entire conservatories.

In UK alone, an estimated 3,000 million pounds is spent annually on replacement windows, doors and conservatories. Newer building regulations aimed to decrease dependency on oil and promote the environment have amplified the overall appeal of the technology.

Experts predict that in the next five years, the demand for energy-efficient products will increase, and although double glazed windows might not exactly be at the forefront, the technology will remain an important factor for homes that want to address their insulation, noise-proofing and energy-saving needs with one simple solution.

Source by Sarah Clark

Constant Ringing in the Ears – Why it Happens and How to Avoid It!

Ringing in the ear or ears presently plagues around 60 million people in the U.S.A. today. That high-pitched screeching sound in your ears is not a disease, but it is a symptom of an underlying problem.

The sound or pitch may be different from person to person, but it all adds up to the same thing… and it’s called “tinnitus.”

So if you are suffering from ear noise, you can be sure that you are not alone. Actually, most people experience ringing in the ear at some time in their life for various reasons, but it is usually temporary and so it doesn’t bother them.

Perhaps you are familiar with that ringing you hear right after a loud bang or other noise. But the ear noise or ringing sooner or later goes away. Or at least for most people it does. Sometimes constant exposure to loud noise can leave you with a permanent case of tinnitus.

So, when you attend those loud concerts or blast out the music in your car, or work a jackhammer all day, your ears end up ringing, and then, after a few hours or days, the ear noise disappears…for some people.

I hate to ruin your day, but you must understand that ear damage can be Cumulative. In other words, constant exposure to loud noises can make it worse with each session.

Why? Because each time you expose your ears to these noises a small amount of damage is happening that continues to build up into a chronic case of tinnitus (ringing in the ears). This repeated assault on your ears can also end up causing high frequency hearing loss and other hearing deficits.

And so, each time you work on a job where there is constant loud noise without wearing ear protection, the damage builds up. And each time you listen to that very loud music, the damage builds up…and the tinnitus gets worse…and that ear ringing can become permanent.

**What Happens If Ear Ringing Becomes Permanent?**

And so what happens if that ringing in the ears decides to make a permanent home in your head? Misery and frustration that, if severe enough, can even deprive you of your sleep. Tinnitus can really affect your life in a negative way. For many people that constant ringing in the ears can become debilitating. Don’t let this happen to you.

If you have chronic tinnitus, it’s time to find some relief. The most successful ear noise treatments available are natural and affective. So do your research, and find out what’s available for tinnitus relief.

Source by Michael Woodhall

The Dangers of Picking the Wrong Finger Protection Goalkeeper Gloves

What are the best finger protection goalkeeper gloves to buy?

And what are the dangers of getting the wrong pair?

With literally thousands of goalkeeper glove design and brands on the market, and loads of different types of finger protection goalkeeper gloves, how do you pick the best gloves for you or your child!

I have been involved in goalkeeping at the highest level for 20 years now, so I know a good and BAD goalie glove!

I have coached over 10,000 goalkeepers over the past 20 years, and one of the MOST IMPORTANT bits of advice I tell my students when I advise them on buying finger protected gloves is, when you try them on, make sure you can make a FULL FIST!

If you cannot do this, DO NOT BOTHER BUYING!

If you cannot make a full fist and you try and punch the ball you can easily break your fingers. In the early days, the finger protection goalkeeper gloves were brilliant at stopping your fingers bending backwards but the goalkeeper wearing these gloves had a terrible time trying to make a fist!

As technology has improved, this problem seems to have been solved with the majority of glove designs, but in certain ‘replica’ finger protection goalkeeper gloves, this is still a massive problem.

I would also not recommend buying a pair of finger protection goalkeeper gloves under £40.

Reason being cheap Finger spines are most probably used. These Finger Spines easily snap and can be so SO dangerous. I know everybody likes a bargain and seeing a pair of finger protection gloves at £20 looks a better of a bargain, but the chances are they won’t be?

I know this because when i design our gloves i have a choice of finger spines, which are cheap, cheaper or expensive… i choose expensive as i want piece of mind for my students who wear our gloves. Plus they would give me so much stick if I used cheap materials.

Remember it only costs that little bit more for quality and piece of mind!

However the good news is, there are A LOT of goalkeeper gloves now with finger protection, but this causes you a headache… how do you choose the correct finger protection goalkeeper gloves?

This is what I advise my students.

1. First search the net and check out as many finger protection gloves as they can.

2. See which brands they like.

3. Try and see if local shop stocks them. (So they can try on without buying)

4. You can also order off a internet store and simply return if you do not like. (Please make sure the glove company will do refunds though with no bother… as some do not!)

5. Do not be afraid to try different goalkeeper gloves as most are more or less the same now.

In fact, do you know most goalkeeper gloves are now made in the same factory!

They obviously just have their own brand on. I will be very honest with you and say that the Just4keepers finger protection goalkeeper gloves are made in the same factory as about ten other branded gloves and they are all more or less the same as the other goalkeeper gloves!

It’s just down to what brand you like and how much you want to pay.

But the message I want to get across in this article, is DO NOT buy finger protection gloves were you cannot make a fist.

I hope this helps.

Best of goalkeeping,

Ray Newland

Source by Ray J Newland

Explaining the Dangers of Buying Chinese Laminate Flooring

There is no escaping the fact times are hard – however people are still on the move and homes are selling. One of the most important, probably the most important feature of your home is the floor, it will be the first thing the potential buyer, guests or visitors will see when they come in to your home.

So to increase the change of selling your home or just make a grander entrance – improve the floor in your home – but how can you do that on a budget?

Laminate flooring, with is glueless installation helps many consumers solve that problem, today laminate flooring in the correct format, single plank, 10mm thick, beveled, hand scraped, etc is indistinguishable from real hardwood flooring but for a fraction of the cost. Take into account that installation cost on hardwood is $2-$5SF and you can do laminate flooring yourself the savings just keep adding up.

So the decision is made, laminate flooring it is, you will install it yourself and save a small fortune, and when complete it will look like a million dollars.

Now you go online to start the research process, you are probably even reading this article, if you are a complete novice here are the different quality levels of laminate flooring:

The Worst: 6mm thick, paper backing, particle board core and smooth finish, this will look ugly and as it is a 6mm product the boards will bow, installation will be very hard and I would hate to say it but probably come with a 10-15year warranty but will fall apart in 3 years, this will cost $0.69SF – stay away.

The Better: 7mm thick melamine backed (not paper backed as above) slight ticking finish on the surface, HDF core (not particle board again as above). This is a good product, number one selling in all the Home Centers, it is perfect, but it will look like laminate however is inexpensive and will cost from $0.75SF (online) to $1.99SF in stores.

The Best: 10mm/12mm thick (does not matter), HDF core, melamine backed, installation will be a snap as the thickness will create the structure for simple install. This should also come with a one plank look and beveled edges – it will look exactly the same as hardwood flooring, once down no-one would could tell the difference. However your bank account will notice the difference over hardwood, this premium laminate will cost from $1.29SF (online) to $3.95 for the same Pergo product. If you find this product for $1.29SF from a European manufacturer and it is 10mm, beveled and hand scraped – BUY IT!

Now that you understand the differences in quality – this is probably the most important piece of advice and we see the consequences of this almost daily. The issue of where the product is made, it’s origin of manufacture. In 1998 there was just1 Chinese laminate flooring factory today there are over 40 – it is shocking. The risk is there is no recourse on the warranty – how do you get the Chinese to fix the faulty product? Many USA retailers, especially wholesalers or online companies that sell the Chinese laminate, due to current economic hard times are going out of business. Who do you then call about your damaged flooring.

So here is the scenario – you bought the laminate from ‘ABCXYZ Laminate’ due to economic hard times they close the doors, you bought ‘Chau Ling’ laminate from them with a lifetime warranty – your floor gets water damage, or worse in the doorway wears through the planks – the manufacturer did not finish the surface correctly all was fine for a few months, even a year and then you have a problem.

Who do you go to now on the warranty? You cannot go back to the retailer, as they are no longer there, how do you find the Chinese factory – basically you know where you are and it sucks – you may have to replace the entire floor.

I cannot say this plain enough – buy from a company that has a USA corporation, not a retailer selling their product, but a Manufacturer with a USA identity – or at the very least a European Company – at least we have reciprocal agreements and understanding.

So when you see that 12mm (or 12.3mm) Chinese laminate Gingerwood, Wenge, Maple and it is beveled, random planks and looks perfect and it costs just $1.39SF with a lifetime warranty, you are actually just buying a laminate flooring with a 6-12 months warranty, maybe.

So it is a simple choice really – go with the 7mm for a great affordable product or spend a little more and get a hardwood (laminate) flooring that is 10mm thick for $1.29SF, from a reputable manufacturer with a USA corporation – even better made in the USA.

Source by James Adverto

What Does Appreciation Mean in Real Estate?

Appreciation and increased equity are two terms that you will frequently come across while searching for real estate information. Regardless of whether it is information on real estate in USA or local or national real estate these two terms are bound to crop up more than once. Many people tend to confuse these two terms. Let me explain these two terms in the context of real estate investing.

Equity is the difference between the market value of property and claims held against it. If you have a loan against a property, it is a claim against it. Your home equity is the difference between the market value and the outstanding amount on your loan. As you keep paying the installments your equity keeps on increasing.

While increased equity is the direct result of the payments you make on the mortgage, appreciation is something that happens on its own. You can expect appreciation only if you take the right decisions while buying property.

Appreciation is increase in price or value of properties. People normally talk about how the value of their house has appreciated. The fact is that houses do not appreciate, they actually depreciate in value. It is the land on which they are built that appreciates. You may be living in one of the hottest real estate in USA and still your house may not appreciate at all. There is also a strong possibility that the prime land may also not appreciate as fast as land prices in other locations. Land prices may already have reached their optimal price leaving little scope for future appreciation.

It costs the same to build a house on any location and depreciates at the same rate too. Maintaining value of a house requires constant repairs. Even if that is done on regular basis it is difficult to get a price that equals the initial cost plus maintenance cost unless the land price appreciates. There may be a case of price of lumber and other building materials going up but that doesn’t have a great impact on the value of buildings.

Understanding appreciation in this industry helps you broaden your outlook when you look at deals. A dilapidated run-down home in a good location is anytime better than a stately mansion in prime real estate. You get a better return on investment on the first as it costs less and there is ample scope of appreciation. On the other hand, it may be quite some time before you are able to find a suitable buyer for an expensive property you buy without considering the potential for appreciation.

Land price appreciates because of the demand and supply factor. While there is limited supply of land, population increases with every passing day. A home owner may sell his house cheap on consideration that it has not been well maintained. You, as a real estate investor should know better that it is the land it is sitting upon is what is more important.

Source by Terry P Smith

How To Ship Mexican Salsa – Perishable Foods

Not everyone has the luxury of being near salsa. If you made a salsa recipe it can be tricky to get it to someone far away. Thankfully, there are several agencies that can be used to ship your salsa to your jealous friends. Knowing how they differ will allow you to make the best decision when choosing your condiment courier.

The United States Post Office has been around for quite some time, and in addition to timely letter service, they also ship parcels. There is a list of liquids and other substances that cannot be shipped due to federal regulations, and none of the ingredients found in a salsa recipe are on it. To ensure the safety of its employees and customers, the U.S.P.S. does not allow dangerous chemicals to be mailed. As long as your salsa does not have poisonous or explosive properties it will be safe for shipping. The most convenient feature of the Post Office is free pick up. However, if your package is significantly heavy, you should call ahead so your carrier can be informed. Keep in mind that if your parcel weighs 13 ounces or more it must have electronic postage. An example of electronic postage is Parcel Post and can printed off the internet through the Post Office website. Packages with just stamps must be taken to a post office window to be authorized for shipping.

Federal Express or Fedex, is another well known delivery service that specializes in package delivery. Like the post office, Fedex has a multi-tiered product line. Fedex has better rates for packages that do not need to be shipped quickly, but does not have as many options for speedy delivery as the post office. The full listing of shipping options with prices can be simply found on each company’s website. Carriers also have this information on hand when they are in the field.

Just because you ship your package through Fedex, it doesn’t mean it will be delivered by them. The Post Office and Fedex have a partnership and some packages are sorted by Fedex and shipped by the Post Office. Most of the planes used during the shipping process are actually owned by Fedex and the Post Office buys space on these vehicles. Similar to how you own your mailbox and the inside of your mailbox is considered to be property of the post office.

Some of the ingredients contained in a salsa recipe have a shelf life and can go bad after a certain amount of time. In some instances, overnight delivery is desired in order to maximize the freshness of your salsa. Even though it is bit more expensive than other delivery options, overnight delivery could mean the difference between edible and hazardous salsa.

Whatever agency you choose, make sure your package is securely prepared. Your salsa container must be closed tightly, use tape if you have to. Try to avoid sending your salsa in glass containers whenever possible, a safer alternative is plastic. If you must use glass containers make sure to wrap them in bubble wrap or packing foam. Sealing the package itself thoroughly with tape is very important to insure safe shipping of your salsa. Lastly, double check to make sure that the origination and destination addresses are correct. Not only can it waste time during the shipping process, an incorrect address can make it difficult and it most cases impossible to correctly ship your package.

Source by Carlos S Parisi

Boat Zincs – How Do They Work?

All of us listen in to talk on the waterfront on the subject of marine zincs, but what do they honestly do? How do they function?

As soon as you have 2 separate metals that are physically and electrically coupled and lowered into salt water, they set up an electrical flow. Some DC current moves between the two metals which can slowly corrode metals such as propeller shafts, underwater fittings and strainers in the engine space.

The accepted way to stop galvanic corrosion is to attach a piece of metal called a sacrificial anode, and most often it is a zinc alloy. In reality, most of us refer to sacrificial anodes only as zincs. By using zinc anodes on your craft you will protect it very drastically. The anode will be used to intentionally corrode away sooner than your other boat’s metal gear does.

At the top of the Galvanic Scale, Zinc is number 4, 1 being the most sacrificial to sea water, Aluminum is 12, Steel is 30, Brass is 51, 316 Stainless is 76 and pure Gold is 91. That is why zinc is used, we want for it to wear down and safeguard the other metal in contact with sea water.

Your boats zincs should be replaced when about one half of the anode has disappeared to corrosion. In a perfect world we want that to occur not more frequently than once a year but each boat if different. I inspect my trawler zincs regularly by diving under the boat and replacing those zincs that need it. When the boat is taken out of the water, a whole set is always installed. All zincs are not made in the same way. Insist on MIL spec zincs. There is a merchant on my website Links page that I get mine from. Premium zincs, at a very good price.

Props and Rudders

Propellers and prop shafts are more often than not protected by a zinc collar bolted jointly about the shaft. It is critical to ensure the shaft is clean and smooth before clamping the collar to it. You must have no bottom paint here at all.

Rudders and struts are also protected with zinc disks bolted to the metal. Be sure bottom paint does not cover them.

Hull PlatesHull plate zincs are fixed firmly on the exterior of the hull and are used to bond the boat metals inside the boat not openly exposed to salt water.

Bonding is the connecting together of zinc plates bolted to the hull to other metals by wires. All of the submerged running gear and the metal contained by the engine space is linked to these plates. Be positive you check the bonding between through-hulls and other metal gear by the use of a ohm-meter .

Hull plates are more often than not found underwater on the stern of the boat.

Tip: If you spot “green” bronze paraphernalia, the bonding has failed and corrosion is in development. Test and re-establish the bonding.

Cooling Raw Water

Engine heat exchangers and engine raw water systems are additionally at risk. Most heat exchangers are fixed with several zinc “pencils”. You will discover them under brass plugs. The pencil is unscrewed from the plug for replacement. In addition, your transmission and oil coolers will be fitted with pencil zincs as well.

Source by Michael W. Dickens

Was The ‘Rainbow’ Division Tarnished By Its Battlefield Behavior In World War I?

World War I began in Europe in 1914, however, the United States remained neutral until 6 April 1917 when President Woodrow Wilson signed the joint resolution declaring that a state of war now existed between the United States of America and Imperial Germany. Three months later, in August 1917, U. S. National Guard units from twenty-six states and the District of Columbia united to form the 42nd Division of the United States Army. Douglas MacArthur, serving as Chief of Staff for the Division, commented that it “would stretch over the whole country like a rainbow.” In this manner, the 42nd became known as the “Rainbow Division.” It comprised four infantry regiments from New York, Ohio, Alabama, and Iowa. Men from many other states, among them New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Indiana, Michigan, Rhode Island, Maryland, California, South Carolina, Missouri, Connecticutt, Tennessee, New Jersey, Colorado, Maine, North Carolina, Kansas, Texas, Wisconsin, Texas, Illinois, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Oregon, and Pennsylvania also joined the division and became machine gunners, ambulance drivers, worked in field hospitals, or served in the military police.

The Southeastern Department commander recommended that the 4th Alabama Infantry be assigned to the 42nd. The commander of the 4th was Colonel William P. Screws, a former regular army officer who had served from 1910 to 1915 as the inspector-instructor for the Alabama National Guard. Screws was widely regarded as one of the major assets of the Alabama National Guard, and his reputation was likely a prominent factor in the selection of the 4th to join the 42nd. To upgrade the 4th Infantry to war strength, the transfer of the necessary numbers of enlisted men from other Alabama Guard units, including the 1st and 2nd Infantry Regiments and the 1st Alabama Cavalry.

On August 15 the War Department officially redesignated the 4th Alabama Infantry as the 167th Infantry Regiment, 84th Brigade, 42nd Division. The regiment comprised 3,622 enlisted troops and 55 enlisted medical staff for a total of 3,677men. The 1st Alabama Infantry had contributed 880 enlisted men to join the new 167th, the 2nd Alabama Infantry and the 1st Alabama Cavalry had provided enlisted men to bring the 167th to war strength, which was nominally 3,700 officers and men.

The Rainbow Division became one of the first sent to Europe in 1917 to support French troops in battles at Chateau-Thierry, St. Mihiel, the Verdun front, and Argonne. On 15 July 1918 the Division, acting as part of the 4th French Army, assisted in containing the final German offensive at the Battle of Champagne.

Let us set the scenario for the matter of alleged American battlefield atrocities on the part of the ‘Rainbow’ Division. On 15 July 1918, the Germans, in their final bid to end the war in their favor, launched a massive attack southward in the Champagne country of France. Although most of the defending troops were French, there were some units of the U.S. 42nd Division also involved in the defense and in the counter-attacks that ensued.

Concerning the battle participation of the U. S. 42nd (‘Rainbow’) Division in the Champagne-Marne Defensive battle of 15 July 1918, we read as follows in Donovan, America’s Master Spy, by Richard Dunlop:

“The regimental commanders [of the U. S. 42nd Division] were instructed to post only a few men in the first trench line, which would easily fall. Most were to be positioned in the second line, from which they were also expected to withdraw as the Germans swept ahead.”

“On July 15 at 12:04 a.m., the German artillery commenced one of the war’s most tremendous barrages. When at 4:30 a.m. the artillery stopped firing as suddenly as it had started, the silence over no-man’s-land was dreadful. The first Germans appeared wraithlike, running toward the American lines through the morning mist. Minenwerfers [large caliber German mortars] suddenly rained down on the defending Americana, and machine guns chattered death. The Americans who escaped the first charge scrambled back to the second line.”

“The Germans found themselves in full possession of the American first trenches; they thought they had won. They shouted, cheered and broke into song. Then the American barrage opened on the trenches. Since each piece of artillery had been carefully zeroed in on the trenches when they were still in American hands, the accuracy of the gunfire was uncanny. Some of the crack Prussian Guards still managed to reach the second line of trenches, but they too were repulsed, after bloody hand-to-hand encounters. The Germans broke off the attack.”

“To Donovan’s [Colonel William J. Donovan, commanding officer of the 165th Infantry Regiment, from New York] disgust, the Germans resorted to subterfuge. Four Germans, each with a Red Cross emblazoned on his arm, carried a stretcher up to the lines held by the 165th. When they were close, they yanked a blanket from the stretcher to reveal a machine gun, with which they opened fire. The Americans shot them dead. Still another group tried to infiltrate the American lines one night wearing French uniforms. They too were shot. All told, some breakthroughs were made, but the Germans had been halted by the Americans. The Americans had not been defeated as the French battle plans had expected they would be. After three days of battle, the Germans began

to pull back.” 1

On 18 August 1918 the following cablegram was received at American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) headquarters, Chaumont, France:

“”A F August 18, 1918.

Commanding General, 42nd Division, Bourmont.

Following received from Washington:

“For Nolan. Condemned Associated Press Dispatch from London received by Cable Censor ‘0055 Monday Baumans Amsterdam accusation that soldier[s’] of 42nd American line Division enraged at losses suffered 15/7 near Rheims killed same evening 150 German prisoners is made by Wolff Bureau on “Creditable authority” and accordingly displayed in Saturday’s German papers’. Dispatch held for assumed inaccuracy. Investigate and report.” Make immediate investigation and report by wire this office. By direction.


4.55 P.M. “” 2

A “Condemned Associated Press Dispatch…” is assumed to be an AP dispatch which was intercepted by the “Cable Censor” and deemed unfit for forwarding (if sent from F&F) or transmission (if originating in London) and thus was condemned. This action would also presumably be taken if the origin of the telegram or cablegram was thought to be spurious or even sent under false pretenses. The original copy of this message was most probably burned with the “Confidential waste” at AEF HQ Chaumont.

Pershing and his staff at Chaumont did everything possible to control the press and the AEF staff would quickly ‘condemn’ sources from reporters and reports that were not run through General Pershing’s staff.

Regarding the day the telegram was received by AEF HQ on August 18, 1918, this would have been on a Sunday. “0055 Monday” in the telegram would refer to 12 August 1918. The telegram was received shortly after the Champagne-Marne Defensive Campaign, and while the U. S. 42nd Division was fighting in the Marne Salient during July and August of 1918. The “Wolff Bureau” was the Wolff Telegraph Agency in Berlin, a semi-official German new agency in 1918.

The G-2 (Intelligence Officer) of AEF Headquarters, Brigadier General Dennis E. Nolan took prompt action to investigate the alleged murder of German prisoners of war on 15 July 1918 during the Champagne-Marne Defensive Campaign. Nolan directed Major General Charles T. Menoher, commander of the U. S. 42nd Division to undertake an immediate investigation of the charge. The investigation was made on 20 August 1918 at the station of the U. S. 42nd Division, AEF, Bourmont, France.

The U.S. 42nd Division was composed of troops from Alabama, Ohio, Iowa, and New York. The troops that had contact with the German Army on 15 July 1918 were:

2nd Battalion, 165th Infantry Regiment (New York); 3rd Battalion, 166th Infantry Regiment (Ohio); 2nd Battalion, 167th Infantry Regiment (formerly 4th Alabama), and Companies E and F of the 168th Infantry Regiment (Iowa).

The force of the investigation fell on the 2nd Battalion, 165th Infantry, the 3rd Battalion of the 168th, 2nd Battalion, 167th, and Companies E and F of the 168th.

According to the “Report of investigation of reported killing of German prisoners of war,” from the Division Inspector and to the Commanding General, 42nd Division, AEF, sworn testimony was taken from a total of thirty-eight officers of the 42nd Division, and particularly from officers whose troops were so stationed as to come into contact with the Germans in the Champagne battle of 15 July 1918. Twenty-three officers gave sworn testimony and fifteen company-grade officers were required to give depositions. The testimony was uniformly a denial that any atrocities were committed during the fighting that day of 15 July 1918.

According to the same report, “All the officers state that no German prisoners were killed by American troops nor were any mistreated; not did any officer hear anything to that effect. On the contrary the prisoners were treated well, the wounded cared for and carefully transported to the rear and the prisoners given food, drink and cigarettes. In at least one case a wounded prisoner was carried while one of our wounded officers walked.” 3

The “CONCLUSION” of the report states: “That the statements contained in the telegram set forth in Paragraph II of this report are false and without any foundation in fact. That all prisoners taken by troops of the 42nd Division were turned over immediately to the French military authorities, and that, therefore, no troops of the 42nd Division had access to them other than those whose statements are covered by this report.” 4

The “RECOMMENDATION” of the report states: “That no further action be taken.” The findings were forwarded to AEF Headquarters and there the matter was dropped. 5

An unknown German newspaper purportedly published in Berlin, Germany, on Saturday, 17 August 1918 allegedly printed an article alleging that 150 wounded and captured German soldiers were summarily killed by soldiers of the U. S. 42nd Division on 15 July 1918. There were five newspapers published in Berlin on the date of Saturday, 17 August 1918: Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, Deutsche Tageszeitung Germania, Neues Preussische Zeitung, Nordeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, Vossiche Zeitung. Searches of the mentioned German newspapers have been made by several historians. No atrocity articles have ever been located in these German papers.

In James J. Cooke’s book, The Rainbow Division in the Great War, we read:

“”The Rainbows also had developed a very real hatred for the Germans. During the German bombardment on 15 July 1918, the doctors and nurses moved what wounded they could to a dugout, and the once callow Lieutenant van Dolsen recoiled in horror at what he saw”:

“Well we got down into the dug out and my dear mother such a shamble I never hope to see again. A long black tunnel lighted just a little by candles, our poor wounded shocked boys there on litters in the dark, eight of them half under ether just as they had come off the tables their legs only half amputated, surgeons trying to finish and check blood in the dark, the floor soaked with blood, the hospital above us a wreck, three patients killed and one blown out of bed with his head off. Believe me I will never forgive the bastards as long as I live.”

Editor’s note: Lt. van Dolsen, being an officer, was able to ‘censor’ his own letters, otherwise this type of comment would never have reached the home front. Van Dolsen’s letter to his aunt, Occupation Forces, Germany, 19 February 1919, MHIA. See also Stewart, Rainbow Bright, 70-71.

“One Alabama private who was in the thickest of the fighting on 15 July wrote to his mother, “All of you can cheer up and wear a smile for I’m a little hero now. I got two of the rascals and finished killing a wounded with my bayonet that might have gotten well had I not finished him…I couldn’t be satisfied at killing them, how could I have mercy on such low life rascals as they are?”

“A good bit of this hatred resulted from the Germans approaching American lines dressed in French uniforms taken from the dead in the first line sacrifice trench.”

“The hand-to-hand fighting was especially severe for the Alabamians and New Yorkers, and many of their comrades were killed or wounded in the fighting for the second defense line and in the counter-attacks that followed. Adding to the confusion was the occasional round of friendly artillery fire that fell short and hit the Americans as they repulsed the enemy.”

“The Alabama defense and decisive counter-attacks on 15 July was praised by all, and established the 167th Regiment as the best fighting regiment within the division.”

“There had always been rumors of units of the 42nd Division taking no prisoners. Major William J. Donovan, in May of 1918, described to his wife the possibility of the Alabamians’ of the 167th Infantry Regiment capturing and killing two Germans, and he ended his letter stating, “They [the 167th] wander all over the landscape shooting at everything.”

“Elmer Sherwood, the Hoosier gunner, reported the story that the Alabamians attacked a German trench with Bowie knives. “They cleaned up on the enemy,

Sherwood recalled, “but it is no surprise to any of us, because they are a wild bunch, not knowing what fear is.”

While in Germany on occupation duty with the Rainbow, Lieutenant van Dolsen wrote to his aunt back in Washington, DC, that the Alabams “did not take many prisoners, but I do not blame them for that.”

“The New York regiment was also known for fierce fighting and taking few prisoners on the battlefield. This issue of battlefield atrocities by the U. S. 42nd Division would again surface after the severe fighting at Croix Rouge Farm, in the Marne Salient, where the soldiers from Alabama and Iowa were heavily engaged at close quarters with a determined enemy.” 6

J. Phelps Harding, 2nd Lt., 165th Regiment, U. S. 42nd Division, AEF, wrote a letter home to his folks on 22 September 1918. His letter states, in part:

“I’m glad I had a chance to join the 165th-it’s a man’s outfit, and it has done fine work over here. One of the German prisoners, who met us here and at Chateau-Thierry, but did not realize we were at both places, said that America had only two good divisions – the 42nd and the Rainbow. He didn’t know they were one and the same. I won’t ask for any better men than the Irish in the 69th (165th). They are a hard hitting, dare devil bunch, very religious, afraid of nothing, and sworn enemies of the Boche. The regiment lost heavily at Chateau-Thierry – my company alone had 110 wounded and 36 killed outright – and every man has a ‘buddy’ to avenge. Lord help the Boche who gets in the way of the ‘old 69th.’ We are told to treat prisoners as approved by the war-that-was, when soldiers were less barbarous than they are now. After every action we see or hear of mutilation of our men – and there’s many a German who suffers for every one American so treated. I don’t mean he is mutilated – no American stoops that low – but I do mean that he grows daisies where, if his colleagues had been a bit more human, he might have been getting a good rest in an American prison camp.

Now I’ll really stop – perhaps I should have stopped before writing this last paragraph, but it’s said, so it stands.” 7

Editor’s note: As an officer Phelps was privileged to censor his own writing. An enlisted man, however, concerned about censorship, might have hesitated to write that ‘after every action’ soldiers found ‘mutilation of our men’ or to suggest that American soldiers killed German prisoners in reprisal. Boche is the French derogatory slang term for German soldiers during World War I.

In defense of the ‘Rainbow’ Division’s behavior on the battlefield, here is a letter I received in 1997 from Clark Jarrett, grandson of Paul Jarrett, a lieutenant in the 166th Infantry Regiment. Clark Jarrett telephoned his grandfather (at his age of 101 years) and transcribed his father’s conversation:

“”I appreciated your letter very much. I did as you requested…I called my grandfather the night after I received your letter. We had a very good phone call. I read him your exact words and took notes during our conversation. Here is what he had to say:

“I never saw or heard of anything about atrocities in the Rainbow. I can say that the 165th (New York) was not prepared to go to the front when the entire division was ready. I heard personally that the “165th was not fit for service.” They were considered playboys, not soldiers. My regiment, the 166th, served with the 165th as the 83rd Brigade. At the Second Battle of the Marne (Battle of the Champagne) I was informed by messenger that I should be aware of my left flank, as the Germans had entered the trenches of the 165th. I put my binoculars to my eyes and I saw that there was trench fighting going on down to my left. Thank God that the Germans did not break through. But I was aware that they might at any moment. After that, the 165th performed as well as any other unit in the Rainbow.

As for the 167th Alabama…the only time I every saw or heard of anything unusual was at Camp Mills, Long Island, New York, when we were in training to go to Europe. One night, we were called out to separate the 167th from a Negro unit. Apparently the white soldiers really got upset that black soldiers were in the division. Anyway, we had to part the two units…but I didn’t see any specific violence. I heard that there was a pretty good fight going before we got there. It was the 167th I was going to help when I got my knee fractured during the fighting at the Ourcq River.””

I hope this will give you another piece of the puzzle, David. I quizzed him really hard about the facts. He, as you know, has a wonderful memory, and will not [I repeat] not, go along with anything, nor any memory of someone else just to satisfy that person. He will tell it just exactly the way it was.”” 8

“On the fourth day, when the 69th and the Alabama continued to hold, the French general [Gouraud] said, “Well, I guess there is nothing for me to do but fight the war out where the New York Irish want to fight it.” 9

Author of The Last Hero, Wild Bill Donovan, Anthony Cave Brown, tells us:

“And, Donovan was to admit, the Micks took no prisoners. “The men, “he wrote,” when they saw the Germans with red crosses on one sleeve and serving machine guns against us, firing until the last minute, then cowardly throwing up their hands and crying “Kamerad,” became just lustful for German blood. I do not blame them.” Later when WJD [William J. Donovan] was required to sit in judgement on the German officers’ corps for its conduct in World War II, he recalled this incident, realized that if World War I had gone the wrong way, he might have been arrested for having committed war crimes, and he refused to prosecute.” 10

It is interesting to note that, during the fighting along the Ourcq River, and after the Champagne-Marne Defensive Campaign, the U. S. 42nd Division evidently again became involved with the matter of battlefield atrocities. We read as follows in Anthony Cave Brown’s book entitled, The Last Hero, Wild Bill Donovan:

“In the fighting the Micks again began to kill their prisoners, and Donovan recorded: “Out of the 25 I was able to save only 2 prisoners, the men killed

all the rest.” 11

Editor’s comment: “Micks” is an ethnic slang expression for the Irish-Americans. Once again we have the situation where an officer in the AEF is able to write just about any comment at all to the home folks. One speculates as to what the average enlisted soldier would have written, had he been permitted to do so. Major General William J. Donovan, commander of the 165th (formerly 69th ) Infantry Regiment during World War I, was later to become the founder of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and “father” of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Going back to the 167th Infantry Regiment (formerly 4th Alabama), Professor James J. Cooke, author of The Rainbow Division in the Great War, informs the author that:

“The matter of the atrocities concerned mainly the 167th Infantry and I was very concerned with it because of the investigation conducted by the HQ, AEF. There had been problems with the 167th being very aggressive in combat. But, when I searched for references in German papers, like you, I found none. It appeared that HQ got their information from reporters who simply heard rumors, etc. I do believe, however, that HQ was well aware of the hard fighting tendencies of units like the 167th and wanted to investigate quickly. I included the investigation mainly because it was HQ that ordered it done rather than from any German or poor sources. That is as far as I got when doing the Rainbow book. I did indeed research AEF records in RG 120 at National Archives II, especially the JAG [Judge Advocate General] and G2 [Intelligence] records, but found, like you, a brick wall as far as the origins of the reported atrocities. By the way, when I ran across “condemned” sources it was usually for reporters and reports that were not run through Pershing’s staff. As you know Pershing and his staff at Chaumont did everything possible to control the press.” 12

The soldiers of the 4th Alabama National Guard Regiment (167th of the U. S. 42nd Division) seem to have been a rather different ‘breed of cat.’ Many of them were backwoodsmen, avid hunters and crack rifle shots. It is said that many of them brought their personal Bowie knives over to France and that they used them in battle. 13

In a letter to the home folks, Ambulance Corps driver George Ruckle wrote, in part: “The Germans call us barbarians, they don’t like the way we fight. When the boys go over the top or make raids they generally throw away their rifles and go to it with trench knives, sawed off shotguns, bare fists and hand grenades, and the Bosch doesn’t like that kind of fighting. The boys from Alabama are particularly expert with knives and they usually go over hollering like fiends-so I don’t blame the Germans for being afraid of them.” 14

A young officer in the 42nd Division, made the observation in a letter home in early 1918 that, “the Alabamans, a rough, quick-tempered lot, always spoiling for a fight, lost their tempers.” This comment was made in regards to an altercation between the men from Alabama and the French civilians.

Could the old adage that, “where there is smoke, there must be fire” apply here?

In placing all of these pieces of evidence of alleged battlefield atrocities committed by the U. S. 42nd Division on the scales of justice, how does it all weigh out? In the opinion of this historian, the ‘Rainbow’ Division probably stands guilty of some extremely aggressive battlefield behavior during World War I. It is also my distinct impression that the investigation conducted by AEF HQ was a total whitewash.

Americans are loathe to accept the idea that their soldiery, in any war, either enjoy killing their enemies or are capable of committing war crimes of any sort and specifically battlefield atrocities against enemy soldiers or civilians. Americans are always so shocked and horrified whenever their soldiers act (or react) like anyone else in the world, as if “our boys” occupy a moral high ground unique on the planet. But, if one is to be true to historical fact, one must accept the idea that American soldiers have not always behaved honorably on the battlefield. There is ample testimony to this effect from World War I, World War II, Korea, (e.g., the incident at the tunnel at No Gun Ri in 1950, where a number of civilians were allegedly massacred by American soldiers) Vietnam (e.g., the Mylai incident, where Vietnamese civilians were allegedly massacred under the command of Lt. William Calley), and from Iraq, where all too frequently some of our fighting forces are accused of having shot unarmed prisoners, or having tortured them in prison.

In coming down to the year of 2005, we have Marine Corps Lt. General James N. Mattis, known as “Mad Dog Mattis” to the troops he led in Afganistan and Iraq, publicly stating that “It’s a lot of fun to fight, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up front with you. I like brawling.” The Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Mike Hagee said, in part, “While I understand that some people may take issue with the comments made by him, I also know he intended to reflect the unfortunate and harsh realities of war.” 15

The murder of surrendering prisoners is not unique to World War I. That has been a barbarous practice in all wars. However, one aspect of World War I fighting has been perhaps neglected; perhaps the murder of surrendering prisoners was more common in that brutal war than we would like to believe.

While brave, kindly and charitable acts also characterized World War I, we should not forget that it also produced its share of battlefield atrocities. A certain de-sensitization about the value of human life may be necessary to cope in the stress of performing a job that requires killing, a cold mentality that must be kept on the battlefield.

Perhaps the best tribute to fighting ability of the Guardsmen of the Rainbow Division came from their enemies. In a study made in post-war days, the German High Command considered eight American divisions especially effective; six of those were those of the much maligned “militia” or National Guard! When the German soldiers were asked which American combat division they most feared and respected, the reply was always, “the 42nd”, and “the Rainbow.” For some reason the Germans never made the distinction. 16

Editor’s note: On German opinion of the 42nd Div., see e.g., The United States Army in the World War, XI, 410, 412-13; Thomas, History of the A.E.F., 221.

George Pattullo, a World War I correspondent for the periodical Saturday Evening Post, and accredited to American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in France in 1918, wrote as follows in his article entitled, “The Inside Story of the A.E.F.,” May 6, 1921:

“Just as it is impossible for an individual to view his family’s relations with outsiders impartially, so it is beyond the capacity of nationals of one country to see anything except their own side in dealing with other nations. The tendency to attribute base motives and double dealing to a rival is universal; on the other hand, everything that one’s own country does is great and noble and of pure purpose. And of course an enemy is always a scoundrel.

The extremes to which this sort of thinking will drive people are often laughable. I remember two nice old ladies from New England stopping a returned war correspondent on Fifth Avenue to question him about certain stories they had heard of war prisoners in German hands.

“Was it true that the Germans prodded prisoners with bayonets and kicked them, too, to make them walk faster?”

“Well, war’s a tough game,” answered the correspondent who was a bit fed up with

the whole business.

“It’s dog eat dog, and every army has men in it who go in for rough stuff.

You have to, in a fight!”

“Oh!” gasped the ladies, all aflutter, “But not our boys!

They’re too noble.” 18

Howard V. O’Brien, an AEF officer stationed in Paris, wrote an illuminating statement in his 1918 diary:

“Acquaintance growing up among different regions of U.S. Oregon reg’t and

outfit from Boston on same ship. Mass. boys at first dubious of “wild” Westerners-which had highest percentage of college men and generally bien élevé of any outfit I’ve seen. Most refractory bunch yet encountered, from Alabama. Pistol toters. G.O. [general order] ruled rods out. After that, all scrapping Marquis of Queensberry, and several good lickings helped.” 19

Victor L. Hicken, in his book The American Fighting Man, states:

“As far as the fear of the German soldier for the American soldier in 1917

was concerned, there is some basis for this contention. A French officer, observing the Yanks, wrote: “He arrived a born soldier….I think the Germans are afraid of him.” Rumor spread behind the German lines that it didn’t pay to fight well against the Americans; for they seldom allowed the Germans to surrender after putting up a stiff fight. One American regimental history, that of the “Rainbow Division,” substantiates this possibility by claiming that its men “fought to kill,” and that few prisoners were usually taken. Indeed, the facts on the “Rainbow Division” show that, for the amount of fighting the division did, very few prisoners were taken.” 20

A German is reported to have said:

“I did not meet the Americans on the battlefields but I have talked with German soldiers who did. These soldiers were against the Rainbow Division near Verdun and said they don’t want such fighting as they encountered there. The Americans were always advancing and acted more like wild men than soldiers.” 21

In Americans in Battle, we read:

“An historian of the Rainbow Division admits that its men fought to kill, an admission borne out by the mere 1,317 prisoners taken by the division.” 22

Source by David Homsher