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2017 March Greifensee

Who would expect a regular ferry-service across a lake in Switzerland wehre this lake is not even one kilometre wide? It exists and the name of the lake is Greifensee. Not far from Zürich but somehow already in a different world. Today all looked calm, peaceful and pittoresque and the ferry is crossing the lake every hour.

But this was not always the case. The little town with the same name as the lake was the place of a horrible story in the medieval ages. It was during the “Alter Zürichkrieg” (literally “The old war for Zürich”) when the unsucessful and frustrated “Swiss”(called “Eidgenossen”) troops returned to their homes in the inner of today's Switzerland. The tiny city “Greifensee” was the only fortified place belonging to Zürich on their way and it was just too tempting…

But not as expected by the “Eidgenossen” who outnumbered the defenders by far, the defenders under Wildhans von Breitenlandenberg did not surrender but resisted the siege for four weeks until 27. September 1444. Then they could no longer hold out since the last tower, the “Castle” was expected to collapes soon.

Breitlandenberg had only a very few soldiers with him, the others of the all in all 62 surviving defenders were citizens of the town and farmers of the surrounding area. The “Eidgenossen” were full of anger about the long resistance and the losses it had caused to them and so it was soon decided that all the captives shall be executed.

On 28. September 1444 all but two of them died by the sword. One after the other and the killing only ended when it was already dark.

05.03.2017 14:42 | Kuno Gross

2017-01 Snow, finally

A happy new year to all of you! It did really not start bad here – since last night we have a layer of snow. Ok, it is a very thin layer but it is the first time for this year that we really have snow in Northern Switzerland. I thought that this is reason enough to take a day off and just go for a long walk…

Oman - the Mountains in the North-East
Flag of Oman
Flag of Oman

I am currently doing some research for a small article about the Royal Air Force of Oman and that just brought back memories of my (until now) only visit to this country in December 2012.
I thought I could share some photos. Not about the famous “Rub al-Khali* or about the Wahiba sands but rather of the stunning mountain-landscape in the north east of Oman.
Beautiful country, freindly people, impressive landscape – always worth a visti:

THE SAS AND LRDG ROLL OF HONOUR 1941
THE SAS AND LRDG ROLL OF HONOUR 1941-47

Ex-Lance-corporal X, QGM

THE SAS AND LRDG ROLL OF HONOUR 1941-47

“I am proud to have been asked to write a foreword to this astonishing document. I have not been party to its creation. That has been entirely due to the enterprise and determination of its author who has lived and worked with it for thirteen years and travelled extensively, at his own expense, to produce facts and photographs to support the remarkably detailed accounts of the lives and deaths of those for whom this work was undertaken. The result is here for all to see, a reference and history unique in its nature and purpose put together to unite as one in remembrance of the Second World War casualties of the Special Air Service, the Special Boat Squadron [later Service] and the Long Range Desert Group.”

Jim Patch, Former Navigator of Y Patrol, LRDG – Kent, 2016

The project has already raised £15,000 for Combat Stress, a charity helping former servicemen and women with PTSD, and will go on to raise a further for them, plus additional moeny for memorials, once the remaining copies have sold.

In Volo Su Zerzura
In Volo Su Zerzura

Roberto Chiarvetto, Alessandro Menardi Noguera, Michele Soffiantini

In Volo Su Zerzura

In November 1932 an Italian expedition undertook a most secret aerial and ground reconnaissance of the northern area of the Gilf Kebir, just months after the first and only flight by Sir Robert Clayton-East-Clayton, making a detailed topographical and photographical survey that survives to this day. This expedition was the absolute first to reach the area overland from Kufra. This is the story of that secret mission, of the men that undertook it, of the correspondence between the Ministries and the colonial units that prepared it in the utmost detail to make it possible.

03.01.2017 17:53 | Kuno Gross

Bombenangriff auf die Brücken von Koblenz
Bombenangriff auf die Brücken von Koblenz

Kuno Gross und Rudolf Meier

Bombenangriff auf die Brücken von Koblenz

On February 16. 1945 bombs fell on the village where I was born. I recall the stories told when I was a boy… but now we thought it would really be time to research the topic in depth and found a fascinating new subject for a little book… the other projects are postponed at the moment so that there is sufficient time to complete this one until the end of the year.

October

After doing some traveling in September, October was filled with the work on our new book about an attack of P-47D Thunderbolt* fighter bombers in February 1945 whre my home village was also hit (rather by accident than by intention). The new book is now in its final stages: Test print, last review and corrections and then the final print planned for the end of the month.

Have added also some other stuff I was working on earlier this year here: Rusty Bits

2016-10 Infanteriebunker "Sagimuehletal"

Switzerland is very famous for its bunkers. But they are not only found in the mountains as for example the Gotthard – also the area boreding to Germany was heavily fortified. Starting from 1937 until the 1990ies the army always treid to cope with the expected threat. Luckily these fortifications never had to proov their value in anger and after the collapse of the Sovjet-Union and the end of the “Cold War” eventually all of them were rendered useless and abandoned by the army. Unfortunately it was the order to remove everything of the installation – even the steel doors and the venitaltion pipes. So, when a good number of them was taken over to be kept as museums, they were nothing more than empty concrete-shells. Since then an association established first to maintain the Fortress Reuenthal has put tremendous efforts in cleaning, maintaning and re-equipping dozens of fortresses, bunkers and other mmilitary installations. Here a link to their website LINK >> Verein Festungsmuseum Reuenthal

I had the cance to join an excursion in the area of the “Bözberg” where we were visiting several of this bunkers and underground headquarters. The most pittoresque for me was the infantry-bunker in the Sagimuehletal which I want to present here in some photographs:

2016-10 Schloss Lenzburg

Although l, except for the years I had spent in Libya, I was laways living near to Schloss Lenzburg my last visit to the place dates back for at least 25 years – it was time to go there again and we had the luck of a sunny day in autumn during our visit. Great place with great views.

Below the text I copied out of the small brochure they hand out at the entrance:

Located on a rocky outcrop above the town, the same named Lenzburg is one of the most beautiful hilltop-castles in Switzerland. Today's castle complex is the result of 900 years of construction history. It evolved from a count's residence to a seat of administration of Bernese bailiffs to the private property of a rich American family.

The castle was obtaiend by the Canton of Aargau and the town of Lenzburg in 1956 and since then it is open to the public.

30.07.2016 22:05 | Kuno Gross

2016-09 Vienna
Vienna, Schloss Belvédére
Vienna, Schloss Belvédére

On the way back from Budapest we stayed for some days in Vienna. The hotel chosen had perfect rooms but was “a bit” too far outside from the City center. Wrong choice somehow. We visited the usual tourist attractions, Hofburg, Schloss Schoenbrunn and Schloss Belvédére. The later was obviously built for representatve purposes only – at least we could find no rooms which served the daily life. The building is used now as an art exhibition. The paintings may be of famous artists but I would actually not want many of them hanging on a wall in my flat. Not my taste. However – the only sign of Desert I found in vienna was also there. I don't recall the artist and the title of the painting. It was something like “oriental market*. The visit to the Heeresgeschichtliches Museum was great and also the Imperial Treasure was very impressive – it showed the past glory of the K.u.K. Monarchy in a perfect way. Apparently the modern architects think it is a good thing to give vienna a new architectural face. I have my doubts. Worst thing I have seen is the building where our hotel was incorporated: Grey concrete combined with black metal. Ugly and cold… remidned a bit to a burnt out industrial building.

02.10.2016 20:27 | Kuno Gross