Friday, 25 October 2013

Thanks for the memories ...

It is 02:45. I took my sleeping pills and painkillers at 23:00 went to bed at 23:45 and have tossed and turned ever since.

The problem with memories is not all of them are ones you want to give thanks for, in fact many of my ingrained memories are ones I would rather not remember. As we head for the UK Armistice season it is hard not to remember friends who never saw their thirtieth birthday or others who, as a result of what we saw and went through, have since decided living with their memories was just not worth the effort and strain. Nor does it take much to start 'seeing'  all those situations you would rather never have seen either during your service or when on active service when you are being bombarded in the media about the run up to Armistice Sunday and have a UK Government looking to 'celebrate' the beginning of a war epitomised by the industrial scale of ordinary folk's deaths and injuries.

So you start trying to think about other things, if you can its is usually a good trick to get off the negative train of thought. Unfortunately, tonight I thought I had found a subject to kill the waking nightmare in its track and started thinking about the Sharp series of books. Tonight my id was smarter than me and got me thinking of the forensic damage Sharp's personal weapon - a two and a half pound, straight edged heavy cavalry sword - would actually cause, rather than Mr Cornwell's side stepping of the actual damage to his foe which our hero avoids by just using the tip for a killing thrust. Usually this weapon has only one cutting blade as it was designed to be used cutting downwards from the saddle on retreating infantry but our hero has the back blade razor sharp for about a third of its length from the tip.

In all penetrating weapons mass, sharpness and velocity are key to the type of damage. I estimated that Sharp would be generating around 150 kph at the tip, by mid swing, starting from level with his ear. This is a lot of energy to dissipate anywhere along the three foot blade where resistance created by clothing will be lessened by the slicing action of the sharpened weapon blade back towards Sharp. In fact if Sharp stepped inside a bayonet thrust and delivered this blow the sword would go through the opponents left collar bone and only be stopped by contact with either the sternum or spine. The pictorial records of wounds from sword blades, made after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, are rather eye watering in their severity with infantry frequently receiving traumatic amputation of arms, legs and evisceration as a result of sword blows. You can imagine the head wounds for yourself. Yet apparently our hero uses this bludgeoning weapon, typically, like a rapier with tidy thrusts.

This in a nutshell is the problem with memories, they do not go away and some times all the coping strategies in the world just do not help, especially when you have been trained to deal with the penetrating and blast wounds caused by modern weaponry, because there are somethings you are definitely never going to forget though you wish you could.

It is now 03:45 and sleep remains nowhere on the horizon ..... thanks for the memories .....

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