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The Fighting Becs Part 8 – The Tiger Tank Busters

Jeff Ramsay

We left off in on the 9th of September 1943 with the success of Operation Avalanche, the landing of the multinational, American led, US 5th Army at Salerno beach in Italy, an operation spearheaded at the centre by the British 10th Corps including veteran Batswana gunners of the 1976 APC Company. Following their transfer from the British 8th to the US 5th Army the Company had been reorganized as three batteries (278, 279, and 280) as part of the 87th HAA Royal Artillery Regiment.

With the active collaboration of now allied Italian units the landings had originally been expected to be virtually unopposed. But, from the very beginning, fierce resistance was encountered. A combination of luck, intelligence and intuition had resulted in the bulk of the German 10th Army, including such elite units as the Herman Goering Panzer Division, being concentrated near the UN forces’ landings allowing for their rapid deployment in the hills above the Salerno beachhead.

The anticipated advantage of overwhelming naval support had also been compromised during the landings by the German deployment of the world’s first operational guided missile, the Fritz X, as well as conventional aerial bombing.

As the armies came together, the resulting Battle of Salerno, which lasted from the 9th through the 18th of September 1943, proved to be one of the decisive military events of the Second World War. A German victory there as well as in the ongoing and to some extent interrelated fighting between German and Soviet forces in the central sector of the Eastern Front might have given the Third Reich time to mobilize its defences in order to stave off its pending defeat.

We know that such at least was Hitler’s ambition. The collapse of Italy and the Soviet push across the plains of Ukraine and Belarus following their great victory at Stalingrad had by then made ultimate German defeat appear ever more likely in the eyes of senior German officers as well as Nazi leadership.

For his part, the evil dictator hoped to buy time by securing the flanks of his “Fortress Europe” with a defensive “Eastern Wall” against the Soviets and “Mediterranean Moat” against the Anglo-American led southern front.  The later however required a decisive victory in Italy.

If the UN advance could thus be stemmed, Hitler and his cohorts reasoned Germany could regain the advantage through the deployment of a new generation of super weapons then being readied for battle, which included the ME 262 Jet, the revolutionary Type XXI Submarine and the V1 and V2 Rockets (with the massive intercontinental V3 on the drawing boards), as well as the already deployed but in short supply Fritz X Missiles and a new generation of mobile armour platforms, epitomized by the Tiger Tank.

Fortunately, we now know that progress on the one super weapon that might have actually tipped the balance, the German “Uranverein” (Uranium Club) project to develop a nuclear weapon, had in 1941 been de-prioritised in preference for investment in jet propulsion and rocket and missile development. In contrast to the briefings received by the US President Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Churchill, the theoretical potential of nuclear technology had to a great extent been hidden from Hitler.

By the 13th of September 1943 securing the Mediterranean perimeter at least seemed to be within the German’s grasp with the Fifth Army finding itself divided and pinned down by the enemy. Besides the advantage of holding the high ground with superior armour, the 10th Army was both better led and more experienced (many of the 5th Army’s American troops were facing hostile fire for the first time).

Defeat at Salerno was ultimately averted by a gun line of artillery that notably included the Batswana batteries of the 87th HAA Regiment. After their success at Syracuse the Batswana had been brought ashore with the expectation that their 3.7 Guns would provide air cover against high altitude bombers. But their role was quickly altered by the desperate situation on the beaches.

The 3.7 barrels were instead depressed for field firing against German armoured units and artillery in the hills above Salerno. The effectiveness of the HAA’s in disabling the heavily armoured Tiger Tanks in particular.

The German’s responded by raking the gun line with their .88 flak guns. When this failed to silence the Batswana and their colleagues, the gunners were attacked from the air. With Fritz X’s playing havoc on U.N. naval units, Luftwaffe fighters were able fly in low over Salerno Bay to attack the gun line from the rear.

With their barrels targeted at the hills, the Batswana were completely vulnerable to aerial strafing. Fortunately other, light anti-aircraft batteries were rushed into their sector to provide much needed support. On the morning of the 13th it appeared that the gun line would be overrun, but by the evening of the 14th the Germans were finally forced to pull back.

On the 18th of September, the 5th Army was able to link up with the 8th Army, which by now included over 3,000 additional Batswana troops. The immediate prospect of defeat had been averted but the battle was not over.

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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