Friday, August 15, 2008

Kermit unmasked?

There's whole hop of Kermits, stemming from the marriage of (later President) Teddy Roosevelt's second marriage to Edith Kermit Carow.

The first in the line was Kermit Roosevelt I, a brilliant linguist who served as a Captain, and won a Militiary Cross, in the British Machine Gun Corps.

Posted to the Mesopotamia campaign as a transport officer (the War Office wanting to keep such a sensitive "asset" out of the front line) he learned Arabic within four months, and became the recognised translator.

[The wikipedia illustration, left, is identified as " John Singer Sargent's sketch from the cover of his book on his wartime experiences in Mesopotamia called War in the Garden of Eden." This is somewhat confusing. The book is Kermit's own 1919 memoir; and the sketch is dated "July 8th 1917", so was probably done while Sargent was in the US].

Therein started a continuing link between Kermits and "Mesopotamia".

Meanwhile, Malcolm pauses to note that brother Brigadier General "Teddy" Roosevelt, commander of the 26th Infantry at Utah Beach, recipient of the Medal of Honor, is buried at Coleville Military Cemetery (but see important correction in comments to this post). His grave is next to that of his youngest brother, Quentin, who was shot down in July 1918.

Kermit I turned to the demon drink, having once again volunteered for service with the British Army (in the "Winter War" in Finland, no less), from which he was discharged in 1941. The family then prevailed upon cousin FDR to find Kermit a commission in the US Army, who posted him to Alaska, where in 1943, he shot himself. He is memorialised in the naming of a ghost town in Roosevelt County, New Mexico, a small town across the state line in Winkler County, Texas, and a very short road in Maplewood, New Jersey (UK customs officials always seem to doubt that address when it is given for reclaiming the payment of VAT: strange that).

Meanwhile, the focus shifts to his son, Kermit, Jr (right, in 1950).

In 1953 MI6 and the CIA ran Operation Ajax to oust Persian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and any vestige of democracy, so to establishing a Iranian régime more friendly to the West (and to western oil interests). The plot was largely managed and engineered by "James Lockridge"(a.k.a. Kermit Roosevelt). This gives us a shibboleth to determine a historian's bias: did Roosevelt, by queering the pitch of Mossadegh, save Iran from Communism, or, by restoring the Shah, guarantee a tyranny which led to the 1979 Khomeini Revoution?

Today's Washington Post, and other journals of repute, are noticing an A.P. story that the US National Archives now have three-quarters of a million pages of documentation, from the OSS records of the 1940s, naming 24,000 names of former agents. Quelle surprise! Or not. Our Kermit's name is, indeed, one of them.

The dynasty continues. Since 2007, the Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania, with specialisms in constitutional law and conflicty of laws is ... Kermit Roosevelt.

"Kermit", a decent Scottish fore-name, which the books tell Malcolm is corrupted from Macdiarmuid, fell from popularity as the Green One's proportionately rose. That most famed of the Kermits was named for a friend, Kermit Scott, from Jim Henson's childhood home in Leland, Mississippi.

The town still trades on the connection, "spawned in Henson's mind" (see left). Sphere: Related Content


Anonymous said...

re: BG Teddy Roosevelt> The 26th Infantry Regiment was never at Utah Beach.

Thomas P. Galvin
Major, USA, ret.

Malcolm Redfellow said...

My full apologies to the gallant Major Galvin, and others. I stand corrected.

My mistake was reading too quickly, and failing to check my sources.

As I understand it now, Roosevelt was with his WW1 outfit, the 26th Infantry, at Oran in November 1942 (which prompted his award of the Croix de Guerre). In the course of this operation, he fell foul of Patton and was re-assigned.

He was in Sicily, and in the Italian campaign as Eisenhower's liaison with the Free French.

Then, in England, he was with the 4th Infantry Division, and involved in the planning for D-Day.

After a couple of rejections, and a petition to his commander, he was permitted to land with the first wave. He was the only officer of his rank on the beach (and, yes, it was Utah, if a mile adrift of his intended beaching) on the first day.

He died of a heart-attack a month later. His Medal of Honor was posthumous.

How did I do with my second attempt?

The 26th Infantry, the Bluespaders (from their shoulder badge, a dark blue upward-pointed arrowhead) have a comprehensive web-site, which I should have consulted earlier. This describes their full service, including that in the European campaign.

In passing, that regular weekend afternoon movie, The Longest Day, cast Henry Fonda (who, unlike many in his trade, himself had a more-than-respectable war-record) as Roosevelt. From the photographs of Roosevelt, Fonda seems a remarkable likeness.

Anonymous said...

There is no "illustration by Wikipedia," and no "according to Wikipedia" either. Wikipedia is just the Internet equivalent of someone on a street corner yapping. That sketch is by John Singer Sargent. Please don't use Wikipedia as a source.

Malcolm Redfellow said...

1. I never said the "illustration was by wikipedia", merely acknowledging that was whence I sourced it.

2. What was written above adequately explains the original of the sketch. Please read that text.

3. If anything I wrote there diminishes my reqard for Sargent, I don't see it.

4. wikipedia, used intelligently, is as valid a source as any. Please don't disparage a worthy attempt at enlightenment: instead educate people to use it as cautiously as any other source. Do you want me to educate you in the inaccuracies and prejudices of any other encyclopaedic or reference work?

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