The Battle of Halen


On 12 August 1915 the Germans had a significant memorial for the one-year anniversary of the Battle of Halen.  This cavalry action brought forth a ceremony that was held in Halen Belgium and attended by 40 relatives from Germany. The Generalgouverneur of Belgium, Generaloberst Freiherr von Bissing and the Militärgouverneur of the Province of Limburg, Generalmajor Keim were present. The Groβherzog of Mecklenburg sent a delegate to honor his fallen Mecklenburg men. Every grave was decorated with an iron cross-with the name of the fallen-and with flowers.  After the ceremony, Exzellenz von Bissing-in person- paid his condolences to the relatives and the cemeteries were visited. A special train brought the participants of the ceremony from Halen to Hasselt and then back to Germany.

Halen 2

During the ceremony General Keim gave a speech. The content of the speech and other details can be found in a 17-page booklet (Das Gefecht bei Haelen) that was prepared for the event and contained a number of pictures. This was in the middle of the war. The impact of this battle was so significant on the operational outcome of the Schlieffen Plan, that they actually stopped what they were doing a year later to conduct the memorial. This not only affected the operation but also the flower of German chivalry.

Yet this battle was not well known in the English language until Fonthill Media published the first English-language work earlier this year. Happening 11 days prior to the Battle of Mons, the results of this battle seriously affected the reconnaissance that followed on looking for the BEF. Not that far from Mons and with a battlefield heavily preserved, a visit to the museum and the battlefield would be richly rewarded especially when paired with the maps and story inside The Last Great Cavalry Charge.

You can pre-order The Last Great Cavalry Charge from Casemate Publishers here.

$32.95, hardback

Expected release: September 2015.

Casemate at IPMS National Convention

2015Nats_1140x400Banner_final5This week, Casemate is at the 2015 IPMS National Convention at the Hyatt Regency Columbus Hotel in Columbus, Ohio!

This years’ conference has been filled with great seminars, contests, tours, and more. We’ve really enjoyed viewing all of the submissions that the modeleres have presented.

The show ends tomorrow, so if you’re in the area or currently attending, make sure to visit us at our booth in the Franklin Room.

Hope to see you there!

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FIGHTS ON THE LITTLE HORN awarded by Little Big Horn Associates

carroll awardIt was with great pride that we learned our “Fights on the Little Horn: 50 Years of Research into Custer’s Last Stand” had earned the John M. Carroll Award from the Little Big Horn Association as their best book of 2014. The LBHA had its annual conference last week in Virginia, with tours of cavalry battlefields and every other kind of nice time. Given that Gordon Harper, the author of “Fights on the Little Horn,” is deceased, and his daughter Tori is far away in the west, and Harper’s co-author, Gordon Richards, currently lives on the Isle of Jersey in the English Channel, we were at a significant loss how to accept the award. The editor of this company, as I can attest, along with our promo director, dearly wanted to attend, but circumstances intervened. But as we can see, the LBHA took care of matters for us. The Carroll Award Chairman, Jeff Broome, along with his son Kile, was able to accept the beautiful plaques for us at the gala dinner that culminated the week’s events. Not only that, they have a member of the Assoc. going to the Custer Battlefield in Montana soon to present the plaque in person to Mr. Harper’s daughter, Tori. Also another member going to England in order to present his to Mr. Harper’s closest colleague, Gordon Richard. The honor of the award has been welcomed here at Casemate, while in addition one can hardly say enough about the people in the LBHA. We especially wish to give a shout-out to Don Schwarck, who has kept us apprised of the events. Our thanks to one and all for recognizing Mr. Harper’s book. As a core of learning, expertise and enthusiasm, the LBHA captures our imagination, and at their next annual meeting we should all be sure to attend.9781612002149 9999999999929

Author Lt. Col. Mike E. Silverman interviewed on NPR’s Weekend Edition

Lt. Col. Mike E. Silverman, author of Casemate’s AWAKENING VICTORY, was interviewed this weekend for NPR’S Weekend Edition.

Here is the link and full story

An Iraqi soldier takes position in Iraq’s Anbar province. The U.S. will send 450 military advisers to Iraq to help in the fight against ISIS, but they will have a another challenge to gain the trust of Sunni leaders, as they did in 2007.

Haidar Hamdani/AFP/Getty Images

Five years after the U.S. ended its combat mission in Iraq, the Obama administration is ramping up the U.S. presence there. The White House announced last week that it will send 450 military advisers to Anbar province to support Iraqi forces fighting the so-called Islamic State.

It’s a complicated choice for President Obama, who in 2007 as a senator, raised concerns about sending more forces to stabilize Iraq.

But things went well in Anbar that year because Sunni sheikhs, fed up with al-Qaida, started fighting alongside the U.S. It was called the Sunni Awakening, and U.S. military officials say it was a big part of what turned the war around.

Now the U.S. is sending troops to Anbar again to try to wrest control from an enemy force — this time from ISIS.

This week on For the Record: A Second Chance for a Sunni Awakening.

We hear from three Americans who helped build the alliance between the Sunni tribal leaders and the U.S. government during the height of the Iraq War.

Kael Weston, State Department political adviser to the Marines in Iraq

Kael Weston, State Department political adviser to the Marines in Iraq.

Kael Weston, State Department political adviser to the Marines in Iraq.

Kael Weston

Kael Weston remembers what it was like back in 2006, when the violence in cities like Fallujah and Ramadi was really bad.

“The tribal sheikhs would walk in and say, ‘You know, we have tribal members who are tired like you of fighting, and maybe there’s a way we can work together against Al-Qaeda,’ ” Weston says.

Retired Lt. Col. Mike E. Silverman

Most of the U.S. troops in Anbar were Marines. Mike Silverman was with one of the only Army units that served there. He began working with the sheikhs in 2007.

“Almost every day, I sat either in a sheikh’s meeting hall, or an Iraqi police station, or with an an Iraqi army unit, and talked about partnership,” Silverman says. “I represented the entire strength of the United States government to those people when I met with them.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte

In 2007, John Negroponte was deputy secretary of state. While Silverman and Weston worked on the ground to build trust among the sheikhs, Negroponte would fly in from Washington to show that the government was taking this partnership seriously.

Then-Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte at a news conference in Baghdad in 2007.

Ceerwan Aziz/AP

Ultimately, the Sunni leaders came to an agreement with US officials. They would direct their tribal armies to fight with the U.S. against al-Qaida, but in return they wanted political influence in the new central government in Baghdad, and they wanted guns, artillery and cash.

“Yes,” says Weston, “it was transactional. Yes, there were short-term deals that were cut left and right, up and down in Euphrates River Valley. But at the same time, we started to understand each other better.”

With the help of the Sunni tribes, the U.S. was able to push the al-Qaida-backed groups out of Anbar. But Silverman remembers that by 2011, the Sunnis were still locked out of the Shiite-run central government, they weren’t getting the resources they needed and accused the U.S. of breaking its promises.

“I had sheikhs and police officers and Iraqi security force leaders call me and beg me for help,” he says. “They said to me, ‘Hey, Silverman, you made promises to us.’ Try as I could, I contacted the people that I knew, but unfortunately at that point our government was not willing to live up to the promises that we made.”

Fast-forward to today, and U.S. troops are going back to Anbar province with 450 military advisors, who will train the Iraqi national forces working to push back ISIS, or ISIL, as U.S. officials call the group. Many Sunni tribal fighters are still undecided about whether they will join.

Negroponte believes another Sunni awakening is possible.

“I think success is possible,” he says. “In fact, I think that it’s imperative that we be successful. I think it would be a terrible tragedy to leave Iraq to the mercies of ISIL.”

But Silverman and Weston say the chances of a second awakening are slim.

Retired Lt. Col. Mike Silverman.

Retired Lt. Col. Mike Silverman.

Mike Silverman

“I’m not sure that that strategy is going to be a winner,” Silverman says. “In some ways ISIS has become so much more brutal than al-Qaida in Iraq that it’s going to be that much harder to get people to stand up against it. It is a terrifying proposition.”

Says Weston, “I have a Marine friend, [Maj. Gen.] Larry Nicholson, who coined I think a very important phrase, which is, ‘You can’t surge trust.’ I think some of the challenges we have now is that we’re surging weapons and drones and anti-tank missiles, but what we are doing about regaining some of that trust that took years and years and years and a lot of American lives to build?”

My Three Takeaways

First, the U.S. officials and military officers we spoke with told us about the promises that were made and broken as part of the Sunni Awakening, especially the U.S. promise to get the Sunnis more say in the central government in Baghdad.

The U.S. also promised Sunni leaders money. Those promises were largely kept. According to the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction report in 2011, the U.S. spent more than $300 million on the Sunni Awakening, paying Sunni leaders for their loyalty in order to secure the future of Anbar and ultimately of Iraq as a whole — a future that is most certainly in question now.

Second, the work that the military did in building a relationship with the Sunni leaders in Anbar was impressive. At a Marine Corps base in Anbar in the summer of 2007, I remember meeting an officer whose sole job was to map out the complicated network of family relationships that knit the Sunni tribes together. He spoke several of the local dialects and was steeped in the history of this part of Iraq.

At the same time, Marine Corps generals were traveling long distances several times a week to meet face-to-face with Sunni leaders in hopes of winning their trust and loyalty. Weston says that turning Anbar away from ISIS today may require a similar effort, which would require sending far more troops to Anbar than are there now — an even tougher call for a president who came into office pledging to end the war in Iraq and bring all U.S. troops home.

Third, it’s never easy to get U.S. troops in Iraq or Afghanistan to weigh in on the value or purpose of what they’re doing. For one thing, it’s not their job to judge policy decisions, so they just don’t want to wade into those kinds of conversations. But secondly — and this is just my opinion — I think it can make their job more difficult down the road, because sometimes the victories are reversed. That’s what we’re seeing in Iraq, and in particular, Anbar province. Many U.S. troops who fought vicious battles in Anbar in 2005 and 2006 told themselves they were fighting to secure a stable future for Iraq, and that in turn would create a more stable world.

The ISIS flag now flies over government buildings in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar. Those U.S. troops who fought and died in Anbar a decade ago did so because that’s what they were told to do. But if those troops convinced themselves that they were fighting for a lasting peace in that part of the world — today they are sorely disappointed.

Author Robert Curtis, United States Exchance Pilot , visits 846 NAVAL AIR SQUADRON



Two time Casemate author (SURPRISED AT BEING ALIVE and TYPHOON TRUCE) and RETIRED United States Army Major, Robert Curtis, returned to RNAS Yeovilton to visit 846 Naval Air Squadron where he served as a US exchange pilot from 1983 to 1985.

After a meeting with the Commanding Officer of 846 NAS, Lt Col Derek Stafford, a tour of the new building and the opportunity to take a look around the Merlin Mk3 aircraft, Robert also enjoyed a tour of 847 NAS and the new Wildcat AH1.

Robert said,

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time with 846 Squadron and loved flying the Sea King, it will be sad to see her retired. The new aircraft operated by CHF are a marked change, most definitely aircraft for the computer generation!”

While serving with 846 NAS, Robert had combat assault training in Egypt, the Netherlands, numerous locations throughout the United Kingdom and extreme cold weather training in Norway.

With over 5000 hours – “mishap free” as he says in his recently released book ‘Surprised at Being Alive’ – on a wide range of aircraft including the Sea King Mk4, Robert served with the US Army, the US Army National Guard, the US Marine Corps and the Royal Navy. Robert also has 980 hours of combat flight time in Vietnam as the Aircraft Commander of a CH-47C.

Robert’s book tells of his thrilling helicopter exploits with four Armed Services, including the Royal Navy, bringing together stories and memoirs from over 5000 flying hours and from many different countries, the book brings to life the dangers and thrills of life as a helicopter pilot.

After presenting a copy of his book to 846 NAS, Robert said.

“It has been great to visit 846 and 847 Naval Air Squadron to see the new Merlin and Wildcat aircraft, and to hear the enthusiasm of the pilots for these aircraft is wonderful.”

 RF Curtis-LtCol Derek Stafford-6.71

  1. CH1500320047 – Robert Curtis and Lt Col Derek Stafford
  2. CH1500320059 – Lt Ollie Trowman, Mariellen Curtis, Robert Curtis and Lt Col Derek Stafford


RF Curtis visits 846 Squadron

RF Curtis visits 846 Squadron

Casemate’s Fall 2015 Catalog

catalog cover

We’re excited to announce that our Fall 2015 catalog is now available!

Download our new catalog by clicking on the image above. This is our largest catalog yet and we are pleased to present to you the great selection from our distribution publishers and our own line that will be available this year.

There’s definitely some great titles that deserve a spot on your summer reading list!

Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting


This week, Casemate is at the Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Organization of American Historians (OAH) is the largest professional society dedicated to the teaching and study of American history. The mission of the organization is to promote excellence in the scholarship, teaching, and presentation of American history, and to encourage wide discussion of historical questions and the equitable treatment of all practitioners of history.

We’ll be exhibiting at the event until April 19th at America’s Center & Renaissance Grand Hotel. If you’re in the area, read more about registering for the event here, and visit us at stand 509!

IMG_2090 IMG_4966

Society of Military History 2015 Annual Meeting


Casemate is currently attending the Society of Military History’s 2015 Annual Meeting in Montgomery, AL.

The Society of Military History is dedicated to stimulating and advancing and study of military history. Running until April 12th, Casemate will be exhibiting it’s wide range of titles to scholars, soldiers, and attendees with an interest in military history.

Check out some photos from the event below:

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French Defeat in Dien Bien Phu 1954 ushered US Military engagement in Vietnam.

Han Weisman, author of Casemate’s just published THE DAKOTA HUNTER shares with us some background from his writings

With the siege war of the French troops in a desolate Army Camp in NW Vietnam coming to a close in April 1954, almost 70 Douglas C-47s made overtime to supply the camp. Bringing in food, ammo and medical supplies, on the way out to the South, they flew hundreds of wounded soldiers from this Jungle Hell in the remote mountains  near the Laotian border. It was an airstrip built by the Japanese during WWII and was selected by the French Army as a stronghold against the advancing nationalist Viet Minh forces under their legendary General Giap.

It will remain forever a disputable decision as to why the French opted to occupy such remote venue in the heart of enemy ruled territory that could only by supplied by air with long flights.and had no real strategic value in that outback. The battle that was about to develop there must have taken the French by total surprise, mainly due to what the enemy could deploy in fire power. With 50.000 troops, they dug in on the surrounding hills that overlooked the lower situated French camp. A bad starter but worse, the Viet Minh had done the impossible by transporting over 300 km of impenetrable jungle their heavy artillery, howitzers and guns for their final assault on the well defended camp.

French Artillery with 105mm howitzers and 155mm guns was not able to neutralize the hidden enemy gun positions and soon, the daily supply flights of the Dakotas  were made impossible as the Vietnamese activated their Russian made AA 37mm guns.  Under heavy attack from that AA fire, a Dakota made the “Last flight out of Hell”. All who stayed behind must have realized the imminent “Doom’s Day”.

In one of the dramatic LIFE Magazine pictures, the French soldiers dig trenches around the airstrip, in the hope to better defend the aircraft parked out there, but it all came to no avail. From the mountains that we see in the backdrop, every day more Viet Minh guns were arriving and shelled the narrow airstrip at choice. The French artillery Colonel could not stop this carnage and commited suicide.

The moment inevitably came that the supply to the camp could only be done with paratrooper/ ammo droppings by a fleet of 50+ Douglas C-47’s and 12 C-119’s Fairchild Flying Boxcars. But every day, the Drop Zone became smaller and the pressure higher on the originally 30.000 French troops consisting of Army, Legionnaires, Paratroopers and Colonial Forces f om North Africa as well as French Vietnamese soldiers and local T’ai Tribal forces. The supplies had to be dropped from higher altitude in a smaller area, so many of the drops incl. the ammo came in enemy hands and were used against the French force.

Finally, on the 7th of May 1954, the camp was overrun by the Viet Minh troops. To the dismay of the old Colonial Powers from the West, almost 12.000 French troops were captured after the surrender: they were forced to made the ‘Walk of Shame’ over 300 km and most of them never returned from that agony. The first Indo-China War had come to its finale and brought an end to 100 years of French Colonial Rule in SE Asia in 1956. As the world might have thought that peace had finally settled in this region, the second Indo-China War was only just about to begin. That war would officially bring in the US Military engagement in Southern Vietnam from 1961 to 1975.

dien bien phu avion Dien bien Phu NVN-54-40-L107 Dien Bien Phu War Remnants dien-bien-phu-battle-pictures-images-photos-009 F8F Bearcat Dien Bien Phu II Indochine-Dien Bien Phu 1954

In the early 1950’s, the French Air Force in Vietnam was equipped with ‘vintage’ WW II American aircraft as the Grumman F8F Bearcat (see photo), the A-26 Attack Bomber, Sikorsky S-55 Helicopters and light spotter planes. Their inventory of all sorts of aircraft was rapidly filled from the the surplus stocks left over after the Korean conflict  that had ended in 1953.  Up to a total of 70 C-47’s and a large number of C-119 Flying Boxcars for para droppings of troops and heavy battle equipment were flown in via Japan.

Detail piquante: the deliveries were made and piloted by the controversial Civil Air Transport ( CAF), founded by the legendary USAF General Claire Chennault, who was since the war involved in SE Asian operations. First with the legendary “Flying Tigers”, the American Volunteer Group (AVG) that fought the Japanese Occupation Forces in 1941 with their “shark mouth” decorated Curtiss P-40 Warhawks. After the war, Claire Chennault became involved in the Chinese civil war and helped Gen. Chiang Kai-check to escape to Formosa (later named Taiwan). It was here that Chennault set up the CAF, allegedly a CIA supported airline for coveted activities that had no official US Government support. CAF later transformed into Air America, that played a role in the second Indo-China War, starting in the early 1960’s.

On one photo, we see the Victory dance of the Viet Minh troops on a burnt C-47, as a symbolic dismissal of the Colonial Power. The day of Victory for the Viet MInh was a day of Infamy for the French Army and Government. In the final stage of the siege of Dien Bien Phu, the French had desperately begged for help from the USAF with deployment of massive air raids against the Communist forces in the mountains. With carpet bombing raids from the B-29 Super Fortress fleet that could fly in from the Island of Okinawa, the Viet Minh troops and gun positions could be annihilated in a matter of days.

This request is considered by some as the first seed of later American involvement in the second Indo-China War (1960-1975). President Eisenhower along with many of the US Military strongly opposed against any support to the French request, as it could be considered by the free world and the ex-colonial nations as an attempt to keep up a Colonial Power that was in its final and fruitless struggle for survival in SE Asia. While USA had strongly promoted the liberation of former Colonies  (Indonesia, India), it ran here in a split, that had far reaching consequences. There were many in the US of the mid 1950’s who advocated to interfere, likely fed more by the fear for advancing World Domination of Communism than helping the French in their dreadful situation.

Ironically, the smothering conflict between North and South Vietnam took a similar development as with North and South Korea, leading to a confrontation with China seeking dominance in Eastern and SE Asia. Spurred by the victory in South Korea, US President J.F. Kennedy, after long hesitation and only stealthy supplies to the South Vietnamese regime, stepped in with open military support in May 1961 by sending 400 US Army Special Forces to train the South Vietnamese Army.

History took the escalating war in another direction but this blog is not a political forum to make a judgement over what happened in the ensuing years, This is only a small contribution to look back at what happened there 60 years ago in a remote jungle camp in North Vietnam: a forgotten battle that involved armies from 6 different countries. Time to forgive but not to forget, and one day I hope to go there and visit the camp and see the remnants of that lost battle. Maybe I can come closer to the feelings of desperateness of the many soldiers who fought that war and felt lost and abandoned by a colonial power that had no more reason to be there. WWII had totally reset the World Order, it took some nations another 15 to 20 years to see the New Light.

In my book “The Dakota Hunter” I describe my youth years in the Borneo jungle, from 1950-1957. Indonesia had just escaped 3,5 years of Japanese occupation and 400 years of Dutch Colonial Rule. Its declaration of Independence in 1945 by Sukarno led to a long and violent up rise against the Dutch Army. Finally in 1950, the Independent Republic of Indonesia was recognized by the World, My father, working for Shell as an oil exploring engineer, moved in with our family to an unstable country that was ruined by the Pacific War which had evoked strong anti-Colonial/ Dutch sentiments. For a curious young kid like me, the material scars and remnants of that war were omnipresent. it was like a play station, but the dangers and emotional tensions were always around. In those years, we always kept an open eye for an ´escape route´, just in case things might go berserk one day. I vividly remember my father coming home and informing us about the French defeat in Vietnam and his anxiousness that the “Commie Pest” would one day hop over to Indonesia.and wipe us all out. With no newspaper, radio or armed protection, we grew maybe a bit paranoia from that “Dien Bien Phu” story. The only transport that could ever get us out from there was. the venerable Douglas DC-3/ Dakota, which also brought the last French wounded soldiers out. One month later LIFE magazine arrived with all the photos of that C-47 in Vietnam as you see in this post. This plane was considered as our Life line, and for me that aspect of the “last change savior” would even go further: it turned into a romantic symbol of “Fly-away to another World” that later in my life would attract me like a magnet to go travel and find the DC-3, as if that plane could bring back my intensely fascinating Borneo years.

In my book I describe that passion for the Dakota and the global hunt I made since 1990 with 20+ expeditions to meet her again. 250 photos and 320 pages packed with adventure and history of an aircraft that changed the world and had a huge impact on my eventful life.

For more info about the book, merchandise, war- and DC-3/ C-47 related tales and photos, see also my new website

You can follow/like my Facebook page on

Read the review of my book in your favorite War History Online magazine  written by Mark Barnes

Casemate UK launches new publishing program

As military history is revealed as the only history genre to grow book sales in 2014, Casemate UK launch new publishing program

Key anniversaries in 2014 sparked a revived interest in military history with book sales in the genre growing 9%. With the 2015 anniversaries of VE Day, the Battle of Britain, and Waterloo offering exciting opportunities for booksellers, is this growth set to continue? Casemate UK believe so.

2015 sees the Oxford-based military book distributor launch its own UK publishing imprint to compliment the  Casemate’s US publishing program. Focusing on British and European military history the new list will sit perfectly alongside the many specialist military history books already distributed by Casemate UK.

The bestselling European military history books for 2015?


Wellington’s Hidden Heroes: The Dutch and the Belgians at Waterloo – In time for the 200th anniversary comes an original account of the previously unacknowledged crucial role that the Netherland forces played in averting defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, including a controversial assessment of Wellington and his army.

The Battle of Britain: An Epic Conflict Revisited – In time for the 75th anniversary this will be the most thorough, expert examination of the topic available. Illustrated with numerous maps & rare photos, it reviews the battle as seldom seen before.

War’s Nomads: A Mobile Radar Unit in Pursuit of Rommel during the Western Desert Campaign, 1942–3
An intimate account shedding light on a key but little known aspect of the Eighth Army’s Western Desert Campaign – the first in British military history in which the RAF and the army collaborated so closely.

Gold Run: The Rescue of Norway’s Gold Bullion from the Nazis, 1940 – A tale of immense bravery, endurance and great leadership against overwhelming odds in one of the greatest gold snatches in history.

The Most Dangerous Moment of the War: Japan’s Attack on the Indian Ocean, 1942A gripping account of Japan’s great raid on the Indian Ocean in 1942, an advance that could have threatened wholesale defeat for the British, and which Churchill described as ‘The most dangerous moment of the war’.

Ghost Patrol: A History of the Long Range Desert Group, 1940–1945 – An accessible and entertaining new history of the Long Range Desert Group, forerunner of the SAS, famous for their exploits in the Desert War, and full of memorable characters and archetypal British heroes.

About Casemate UK:
Part of the Casemate Group, Casemate UK is a specialist military history publisher and book distributor in the UK, European and Commonwealth markets. They have recently opened a military history books showroom in Oxford. More information can be found at