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A Real Cannon and Its Ammunition

I noted two significant errors in the article “Doomsday on Wheels?” [Winter 2014]. To the best of my knowledge, the military services have never referred to any weapon system as an “artillery launcher.” Artillery is normally defined as a gun-tube, or cannon, that fires a projectile. A launcher is usually a platform from which a missile or a rocket is fired. While the army and the navy continue to develop cannon-fired, rocket-assisted projectiles, the system is still not referred to as an “artillery launcher.”

The article also states that atomic ammunition “was destroyed in accordance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed with the Soviet Union in 1987.” This is not true. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty dealt solely with missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,000 kilometers, specifically the U.S. Pershing II missile, the U.S. Ground Launched Cruise Missile, and the Soviet SS-20 mobile missile systems. Artillery-fired atomic projectiles were not part of this treaty.

The atomic artillery ammunition was removed from Europe later through a series of unilateral presidential initiatives in 1991. President George H. W. Bush approved the nuclear weapons deployment authorization for 1991 (National Security Directive 64) that ordered their removal and return to the United States for demilitarization.

Colonel William T. Coleman

(U.S. Air Force, Retired)

World War II Rations Your Winter issue’s Fighting Words column [“Prêt-à-Porter”] made me recall some things I wore and carried in World War II.

As for rations, in the South Pacific we mostly had C rations. If we were on an overnight patrol, it was K rations the size of a Cracker Jack box. We also had a D ration, a large chocolate bar (for energy), often obtained by “midnight requisition.” Never heard the little can opener called a P-38!

I also enjoyed the Weapons Check column on the Colt M1911. When we went overseas, field grade officers had to give up their pistols and were given carbines.

Donald Decoss

Oakland, Calif.

Commemorating the Great War

In his article “What a Century!” [Winter 2014] about the centenary of World War I, author Michael Neiberg states that people in the United States are less familiar with World War I than those “in Europe and the former reaches of empire” because they “are far more likely to have had… an ancestor who served, or was killed, in the war[…and] live every day with monuments, cemeteries, and buildings named for World War I heroes.”

Neiberg says that in Canada, parents can drop their children of at Earl Haig Fun Park, but he knows of no John J. Pershing Fun Park. Granted, perhaps there is nothing named quite that, but hundreds of parks, including one in D.C., are named for Pershing, and myriad destinations are named after General Douglas McArthur, many well before World War II.

I would add that people in Europe and Canada have a much firmer knowledge of World War I also because of the sheer loss of life that their countrymen suffered in the trench warfare that went on before American troops were in position.

Bob Webber


In response to O’Brien Browne’s article “Honor, Oil, and Blood,” Autumn 2013:

Sharon was a man of a different century. He was of the type born in ancient Rome. Always when Sharon won wars, he won them using the same method—he did not listen to his commanders. Practically, he did not obey his leaders in ’73.

Yuilia Latynina

Moscow, Russia

Great article. We Egyptians call this “the Good War,” because we won our honor back on the battlefield and in the negotiations.

Muhammad al-Jabar

Cairo, Egypt

A balanced and unbiased account of both sides. In America we’ve only been shown the Israeli side of things.

Anoush Ushatova

Golita, Calif.


The introduction to “Last Shots: Fallen Photographers of the Vietnam War” [Autumn 2013] states that famous war photographer Robert Capa was killed at Dien Bien Phu. He was killed at Tai Binh near the coast of Vietnam. The information with Capa’s caption, on page 79, is correct.

In Michael Neiberg’s “What a Century!” the wrong date for the Black Tom explosion in New Jersey was inserted during the editing process. The correct date is 1916.


Originally published in the April 2014 issue of Military History Quarterly. To subscribe, click here.