Despite what their name might suggest at first glance, challenge coins were not, historically at least, meant as a reward for completing a challenge. During the 17th century, in France, the Huguenots (French Calvinist Protestants) were severely persecuted by the Catholic Monarchy, with hundreds of thousands being killed, forced into exile, or compelled to convert. However, some remained in France and hadt their religious rituals secretly following the 1685 Edict of Fontainbleu, outlawing Protestantism.
In order to identify each other, the Huguenots used the méreau, a coin that the Protestants could use to show to other Protestants and gain access to religious services or receive help and protection. According to this story, challenge coins emerged as a way to prove your affiliation when challenged by another person.
Challenge Coins Nowadays
In the 21st century, challenge coins have morphed to cover two different goals covering the same overarching purpose: creating and maintaining an esprit de corps within various organizations, most notably law enforcement and the military. There are many kinds being used, including Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Police Challenge Coins.
The first variation of the challenge coin has turned them into small awards that can be bestowed upon members of the organization by local commanders (or managers) without all the complications associated with a citation or a medal or for lesser, but nonetheless appreciated, feats. These are used as a small way of showing appreciation for the efforts, participation and results of soldiers, police officers, students, or any member of an overarching organization.
Examples of this include a Marine Corp’s challenge coin issued for participation in Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan or a challenge coin issued to the 3-157th Field Artillery Battalion of the 157th Field Artillery Regiment for Regimental Excellence.
Two examples of challenge coins being used as awards and rewards by the United States military, in this case by the Marines Corps and the Colorado National Guard. Source: www.gs-jj.com
The other evolution of challenge coins has been to identify members of the organization in order to create a bond between them. In this version, challenge coins are issued to every member of the organization, with optional customization for their rank. They can use it to prove their affiliation either to members of their own organization, to members of “rival” organizations (and there is no end to rivalries within the army), or to other people.
Examples of such challenge coins include a superb cut-out example meant for members of the US Navy and one for military veterans of overseas deployments from Beverly, Massachusetts.
Affiliation challenge coins meant for members of the US Navy and for veterans of foreign deployments from Beverly Massachusetts. Source: www.gs-jj.com
The Drinking Game
Drinking and the military are closely linked together since ancient times, such as, for example, Dacian king Burebista banning alcohol abuse in order to keep his soldiers healthy, awake, and alert. Nonetheless, moderate drinking has remained a part of most military cultures, and challenge coins have become a part of this tradition.
The details of the drinking association vary from organization to organization, but generally involve the use of affiliation challenge coins and a bar frequented by multiple members. One person can issue a challenge for a “coin check” to everyone else by slapping his own challenge coin on the table/bar, rapping it on a hard surface, or dropping it. All those present must then produce their own challenge coins to answer the check. Whoever cannot produce their challenge coin are then obliged to buy the next round of drinks for everyone who passed the coin check.
However, if all persons involved passed the coin check successfully, then the original challenger must buy the next round for everyone involved. Some organizations have various extra rules governing how much time can pass to answer the challenge and present one’s coin or whether the coin has to be on the person or if it can be close by. Alternatively, a rank rule can be added, in which the highest-ranking person in the establishment (who has their challenge coin, of course) gets free drinks from everyone else.
Creating Custom Coins
Creating a challenge coin is relatively easy nowadays, as specialized minting services exist that can customize such coins quite extensively and at reasonable prices, such as the sponsor of this post, www.gs-jj.com. They have been in the manufacturing of merchandise for many years and have worked closely with many different agencies and organizations. There are a large number of challenge coin design elements and materials to pick from in their online easy-to-use design system. You can create your own challenge coin using their custom editor.
Tank Custom Challenge Coins are, of course, also on the table, with an already existing example featuring an M26 Pershing cresting a hill, representing the fighting done by the IX US Corps in the Pusan Perimeter during the Korean War.
However, it is important to remember that challenge coins are important because of their scarcity, cost of obtaining them (in terms of effort and dedication) and the esprit de corps that they help form. As the manager of an organization that wants to use challenge coins, it is important not to misuse and abuse them, such as by dishing them out like free candy and thus devaluing them to the point of irrelevancy. While they are cheap to produce, their value is given by the organization and how it uses them.
Before the late modern era, described historically as starting from around 1750, literacy rates were very low, in the area of single digits as a percentage of the total population. A rather optimistic projection from Our World in Data places the literacy rate at 12.5% worldwide in 1820, although it is important to remember that this was severely different across the socio-economic classes.
From a military standpoint, this meant that the average footman was probably illiterate, as was his family back home. This allowed only three methods of communication. The first was to ask an intermediary to write out a letter and then maybe another intermediary to read it out to the family. The second one was to send word verbally, through a person traveling from the army to the home region, with the expectable reduction in fidelity and length of the original message. The final option, and probably the most common for most of human history, was no communication at all. The family and the soldier would find out about each other’s fate only when the soldier returned home. However, as is the nature of war, many soldiers never returned home, leaving their families in the dark about their eventual fates.
This article has been sponsored by Handwrytten, a handwritten letter-writing service using robots to turn your messages into beautiful pen-and-paper letters.
The warring aristocracy, on the other hand, was probably far more literate. Handwritten letters were far more common both on the personal level, between family members, and on the official level, with military communications between different parts of the army or even with the enemy or neutral parties being done in handwritten form.
A very interesting letter from 1310 between Robert the Bruce (King of Scots 1306-1329) and the King of England, Edward II, has survived to this day transcribed into a manuscript from the 15th century. In it, the Scottish king is asking for peace and the recognition of the independence of the Scots, but to no avail. Nonetheless, this is a valuable historical source showing how diplomacy worked.
As time passed and literacy grew, battlefield letters became more common. By the time of the American Civil War, these became relatively common, so much so that Shapell.org currently holds around 60 different letters and documents, a good portion handwritten, from the era that are digitized and freely available. These range from letters of common soldiers to the correspondence of the President himself, and provide a welcome window into life at that time both in the high seats of power and the bivouacs of the army.
With the start of the First World War, with its massive armies and the growing rates of literacy, especially in Europe, where the heaviest fighting took place, letters to and from home became far more than a personal pleasure. The safe dispatch and arrival of these small pieces of handwritten mail became a morale-sustaining military imperative, with significant effort being dedicated into the work of the post of the many armies involved in the conflict. According to the British Postal Museum, the London Home Depot that handled all correspondence from and to the front had to deal with 2 billion letters and more than 100 million parcels over the 5 years of war. For 1917, this meant 19,000 mailbags transiting the English Channel every single day, bearing good news, updates from home, or condolences from the front. The British National Archives have thankfully digitized and freely published a large number of such letters.
The Second World War was more of the same but, with the United States’ entry into the war in 1941 and landings in North Africa in 1942, the sending of mail to the American soldiers brought new challenges. Not only would these have taken a long time to reach their intended addressees, but the enormous volume of the letters themselves would have occupied valuable space and tonnage on the cross-Atlantic voyage that could have been used for better for vital supplies sustaining the Army and its Allies.
In order to solve this conundrum, the Americans introduced V-Mail (or Victory Mail) in March 1942. This took the letters and transferred them to microfilm, basically scanning them. This allowed up to 1,500 letters to be compressed into a small roll of microfilm weighing just 140 grams (5 ounces). This not only made them far smaller and lighter, saving on shipping tonnage, but also meant that air mail was actually viable, drastically cutting down on delivery delays. Many such letters can, for example, be found freely in the digital collection of the State Historical Society of Missouri and other such organizations.
Nowadays, with the rapid proliferation of electronic communication, emails, phone calls, or video calls, the need for handwritten letters from the battlefield has nearly evaporated. Nonetheless, at least the US Army still maintains the Military Postal Service, providing free shipping of letters and parcels to and from servicemen.
Nonetheless, handwritten letters can still play an important morale-boosting role even today. Several American organizations work to send letters of thanks, appreciation, and gratitude to US servicemen deployed around the world, either digitally or in physical format. You can find more information about this on Veteran Aid.
Come one, come all, there’s a new Tank Encyclopedia competition going on!
This time, we are offering $150 for the best illustrations for an upcoming Tank Encyclopedia article!
If you want to participate, take a look at the following list of vehicles that we would like illustrated for future articles. If any of them catches your fancy, ask us for more references and make a side-profile illustration (or 3D model render) in a realistic style and you can win $150 (first prize), $50 (second prize) or our usual illustration fee ($20-$40)!
If you feel you do not have the skills to participate, do help us by sharing this message with your tank-loving or artist friends!
The illustrations will be judged in 3 categories:
– Accuracy (15 pts). This will be judged by the author and our Critique Squad to determine the accuracy of the illustration with regards to available historical information and images. Ideally, everyone should get full marks for this!
– Graphical Quality (10 pts). This will be judged by our Critique Squad and will be based on how skillfully the illustration was made.
– Popularity (5 pts). After all the illustrations are submitted, a 7-day poll will be held to determine which illustration is the most popular.
The illustration with the most points gets the $150 (or $50) cash prize and gets to be featured on Tank Encyclopedia! Please do note we will only receive publication rights, with all copyright remaining with the illustrator.
If you did not win but your illustration is of good enough quality, we would still want to have it featured on our website! For this, we are willing to pay our standard illustration fee ($20-$40, depending on the number of profiles).
Good luck to all of you!
– The final submission must be made by 15th of February 2022
– The submission must include at least 1 realistic side-profile illustration or render (preferably left-facing)
– The submission must be entirely the work of the submitter. Modifying other people’s illustrations is not allowed for this competition.
– Contact with the article author is highly recommended (all of them are on Discord, https://discord.gg/3VjQ8Zq)
– For any further questions, contact @TE Standlucian on Discord
History isn’t something that had been a long time ago and is forgotten now. This is a meaningful subject that opens to us the reasons and consequences of historical events. At the same time, it teaches us why something happens and how to handle it. “If history is important… We need to understand what happened on the ground and what it meant then”, – Helmholz said and was right.
People can experience things by diving into historical events and surrounding themselves with relevant objects. Let’s talk about World War II military equipment and tanks in particular.
Your favorite topics here and now
Military hardware is one of the biggest areas of interest for scientists and all history devotees. The list of military equipment used during World War II is very huge. It includes ships, weapons, aircraft, vehicles, and so on. You can freely access significant information about numerous tanks, ships, planes, and other military hardware using online sources.
Nowadays, podcasts are our everything and win the love of the audience. You can keep doing your everyday routine and listen to the exact English audio text without reading it. There is no need to sit down on the sofa, strain your eyes, skip your activities, etc. Even students and bloggers use this feature to collect and process information.
Take into account that you can listen to podcasts and use new information for educational reasons, writing your personal blog, and other purposes. Well, transcribing audio to text takes time and resources but you may rely on free automated transcription or paid transcription services and receive the written content of your favorite podcasts in several minutes. Thanks to professional software, you don’t need to spend your time transcribing audio files and placing the same audio on repeat.
As a result, advanced speech recognition technology guarantees you 80%+ accuracy with minimum background noise and clear voices. You don’t even need to work with professional transcriptionists because online software is professional enough to do this job using artificial intelligence.
3 exciting podcasts WWII equipment
The military equipment of World War II matches its scales. During 1939-1945 this list includes hardware categories divided by country (for instance, British, German, French, and so on) and by the type (aircraft, ships, vehicles, weapons, and other equipment. Today let’s focus on the most important vehicles – tanks.
Tanks aim to change the current situation of the battle, lead to the partial or full defeat of rivals, and become a modular fire weapon. Besides, these vehicles have another important role. Tanks were considered a symbol of victory too for many countries and the people. That’s why individuals experience the excitement by reading more about these vehicles.
The following podcasts are very exciting for all tank fans. You’ll reveal plenty of new facts and useful information for your self-education of the exact purposes. So keep going and listen to these exciting podcasts.
1. How to kill a Panther tank
The Panther tank was used by Germans during 1943-1945. This is a medium tank with smaller weapons than Tiger but it was spreadly used on the Western and Eastern Fronts. Though it was designed as a response to the appearance of the Soviet T-34, this tank made a very limited influence on the future production of tanks. But you can’t stand missing it with English subtitles.
The podcast “How to kill a Panther tank” describes how Britains developed both advantages and disadvantages of the Panther to reveal its weaknesses. But what was more important for them is to find out the best methods to knock it out. As a result, Craig Moore has collected all important facts and details in numerous facilities that were detected by the British and helped cobelligerents to win.
2. Keeping the German Tiger 712 Tank alive
The Tiger is another well-known German tank. It was first developed as Tiger I and belongs to the category “heavy tanks”. This vehicle includes a fighting mass of 57 tonnes and impresses people. This tank was developed before World War II and kept improving till 1941. In general, the producer Henschel Wegmann has made over 1400 items. Then, the production stopped and the Tiger II started releasing.
The podcast “Keeping the German Tiger 712 Tank alive” is about Tiger 712. In the following podcast experts discuss the particularities of this vehicle and its role during World War II. Also, you may be interested in discussing why and how to keep some of the items in the world heritage. Pay attention, that at the moment people gather funds to help preserve this tank for future generations. So this podcast is important not only for the past but also for the future.
3. The inspiring story of one of WWII’s greatest tank gunners
The podcast “The inspiring story of one of WWII’s greatest tank gunners” is truly inspiring. It shares the story of Clarence Smoyer who is known as one of the greatest and bravest tank gunners. He was an average boy born in Pennsylvania who had put himself on a record of WW2.
Speakers reveal their impressions from Clarence’s story, his meeting with an enemy tanker, and explain the latest events in his life. You’ll also find out more about the epic Battle of Cologne, Clarence’s feelings after 75 years later, and important takeaways from this story. It is an amazing story full of inspiration and courage so you can’t miss it.
Get your knowledge easily
If you are interested in WW2 history and want to deepen your knowledge more then these options will suit your intentions. Don’t forget about audio transcription online and enjoy your favorite podcasts. It helps a lot for everyone who wants to save time but improve their knowledge in this area.
In general, you have all the reasons to enjoy podcasts on any topic while doing your everyday routine. Nowadays you are able not only to consume content but also transcribe recordings for your educational, business, or personal projects. It is such an easy process but so productive and useful!
We are happy to introduce Plane Encyclopedia’s $100 article writing competition!
Think you have what it takes to contribute to their growing community of historical aircraft content? Try your hand at writing an article on a historical aircraft, using their site’s format. All writers are welcome, including first-timers, amateurs, and experienced writers.
If your article is selected as the winner, not only will your article be published and read by thousands of fans, and illustrated by their pro artists, but you’ll walk away with $100!
Read the rules below and be sure to submit your article by July 1st!
– Deadline: July 1st, 2021
– Minimum Length: 2500 Words
– The Topic Aircraft Can Be of Any Era, Nation
– The Topic Aircraft must have reached a production level of at least 100 aircraft manufactured.
– The article must conform to Plane Encyclopedia’s standard article structure. More info here: https://www.tinyurl.com/PE-Rookies
– The winner will be decided by Plane Encyclopedia’s panel of judges.
– Articles will be graded utilizing a points-based system which will rate the article’s quality of research, quality of writing, and relative popularity* of the topic aircraft.
– * Please see our suggestions list for candidate ‘popular’ aircraft https://www.tinyurl.com/PE-Sugg-List
– Questions? Please ask in their Discord Server (https://discord.gg/zgVVjdxrh2) or through any of their Social Media