April 20, 2006

Sir Basil H. Liddell Hart on Types Of Courage

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:02 pm

Just finished Ralph Peters’ latest book (four word review: brilliant but intermittently ridiculous), and started a memoir by the inventor of “grand strategy”.

From The Liddell Hart Memoirs, p. 28:

There was one incident that stuck in my memory as a sidelight to the different kinds of courage. It occurred when walking across the airfield with a pilot who had won decorations for most gallant feats and gone on flying with unbroken nerve after a crash in which he had been badly injured. While we were strolling along, a tractor plane from another squadron landed close to us and in getting out its pilot stepped into the propeller before it had stopped swinging and had his head nearly severed. It was a ghastly sight, although no more than daily experiences in land battle, but I was astonished to see that it completely unnerved my companion. Another illustration of such differences was the case of an officer I knew in 1915 who had been so frightfully nervous in the trenches that he was sent back to the base as a germ-carrier of panic, but then qualified as a pilot in the R.F.C. and showed such courage in tackling Zeppelins that he was recommended for the V.C.

8 Responses to “Sir Basil H. Liddell Hart on Types Of Courage”

  1. bothenook Says:

    chap, i remember spending a little time in Oakknoll Naval Hospital following a small mishap on a motorcycle. one of my roomies was a carrier pilot from NAS Alameda. he was in for some similarly stupid self inflicted injury. we were talking about our respective jobs one night. i marvelled at how big a set of cajones you have to have to do a night trap. his comment was “i’ll do a hundred of those before i would ever dive in a submarine. you guys are crazy.”

    it’s all relative, i suppose

  2. badbob Says:


    Are you sure said Brownshoe wasn’t in there for mental health checkup? I’ve ridden SSNs for more than a week tube time and even an Aussie diesel once; heck I didn’t even spill my coffee. :-)

    On the other hand, after nearly 250 night traps, despite retirement 8 years ago I can still vividly recall a lot of those 250..individually. I even dream about ’em.

    I reckon it’s all the unfamiliarity. Last year I was standing in a blood drawing line at medical with an aviator 0-6 on AD whom I respect very much. This dude was awarded a DFC for handling an extremely “exciting” inflight fire and carrier night “landing”.

    I saw him look at the needle and pass out in his chair! Talk about embarassed. It’s all relative.


  3. Rellag Says:

    Sure Chap, BLH ponces on about aviator courage.

    But what of the bravery of those noble few who rig the bridge for dive and call out “last man down, hatch secure” knowing full well that the last two competent RO’s have just left the ship and transferred to civlant, E-div wants their chief dead, the last five sigs for helm & planes qual interviews he’s given have degenerated into ” so you push down to go down and pull up to go up unless told otherwise”, and the XO has just mistaken a rheostat for the trim pump.

    Who will write the epic poems for them?

  4. badbob Says:


    I ain’t too poetic but how about these books about b.h. courage?:

    On a land battlefield you’ve got somewhere to run if you room to hide in a cockpit or a tube under the water…


  5. chap Says:


    You looking for something along the lines of “…Though the CO dithered and blathered not thundered / Into the valley of Death we dived, depth five hundred…”?

    Or should I shudder and say there’s been worse out there, believe it or not?

  6. Rellag Says:


    Your iambic verses are positively Vogon in their scope and majesty.

    Thank you, noble polymath.

    When are you going to swing by the East coast so we can buy you dinner?

  7. Chapomatic » 2006 Blog In Review Says:

    […] I read some B.H. Liddell Hart. […]

  8. Chapomatic » Compare And Contrast Says:

    […] The differences in courage noted here… […]

Trackback URL for Sir Basil H. Liddell Hart on Types Of Courage:


Powered by WordPress (c) 2002-2009 Chap G.