By 1811 the bright sunlight of Austerlitz was beginning to fade. Tensions were building up between France and Russia, as both countries remained rivals on the continent. Both Napoléon and Alexander were megalomaniacs, both possessed distinct and antagonist ambitions, each saw himself as the greatest man on Earth, under the protection of a special “destiny.” In order to perpetuate a Napoleonic Europe, it was essential to reduce Russia’s power, and the entente agreed at Tilsit and Erfurt in 1808 was only a temporary truce concluded to win time and consolidate positions. Czar Alexander was under strong pressure from the Russian nobility and military staff to break off the alliance. The first clear sign the alliance was deteriorating was the relaxation of the Continental System in Russia, which angered the French Emperor. By 1812, advisers to Alexander suggested the possibility of the recapture of Poland and an invasion of the French Empire. For this purpose, Russia deployed large numbers of troops on the Polish borders. On receipt of intelligence reports on Russia’s war preparations, Napoléon expanded his Grande Armée, and ignoring repeated advice against an invasion of the vast Russian heartland, prepared for an offensive campaign. Despite the Spanish drain on the French army, Napoléon managed to concentrate some 600,000 soldiers by calling on the vassal and allied states.
On June 23, 1812, the invasion of Russia was launched. It was a considerably dangerous gamble, which turned out to a major blunder and a determining factor in the fall of Napoléon, as it had not occurred to him that in addition to the Russian army, the French force would have to fight the Russian people and the Russian climate and immensity. In an attempt to gain increased support from Polish nationalists and patriots, Napoléon termed the operation the “Second Polish War”—the first Polish war was the Bar Confederation uprising by Polish nobles against Russia. Napoléon’s objective was a decisive engagement, but the Russians had by now learned valuable lessons about Napoleonic warfare. Instead of fighting a pitched battle, they retreated ever deeper into Russia, implementing a scorched-earth policy, leaving little or nothing behind them for the invaders to live on. In the vast empty Russian spaces in the pre-railway age, the lumbering French army soon outstripped its supply trains. It was not long before the route into Russia became a via dolorosa. Pillaging, indiscipline and desertion soon became rife on an unprecedented scale, while diseases, exhaustion, exposure, hunger and constant harassments by partisans and Cossacks inflicted the first casualties.
A brief attempt at resistance was made at Smolensk in the middle of August. The Russians were eventually defeated in a series of battles (notably at Borodino outside Moscow on September 7, 1812), but this was less of a defeat and more of a stalemate, for the Russian army withdrew in good order and retreated past Moscow. Napoléon resumed his advance and entered the city on September 14. He then assumed its fall would end the war and force Alexander to negotiate peace. Still the Czar refused to come to terms. Instead, on orders of the city’s military governor and commander-in-chief, Fyodor Rostopchin, rather than capitulating, Moscow was abandoned, deserted by its civil population, and burned in order to deny the French markets, magazines, stores and winter quarters.
By then, a general with republican ideas, the extravagant and deranged Claude- François de Malet, was attempting a coup in Paris. Malet, a conspirator imprisoned in 1806 and later moved to a mental hospital, spread rumors that the tyrannical Napoléon had been killed. With the help of accomplices he escaped the mental asylum, and announced that he had been entrusted with a provisional government. He tried to seize power and proclaimed the restoration of a republic and civic freedom. The lack of information quickly prompted rumors and speculations, but the ill-prepared conspiracy made no real headway, and only enjoyed a few hours of wavering success. Malet’s plot was rapidly unmasked by the Imperial commander of the Paris garrison, the putschist was arrested, summarily tried and duly executed. The episode was short-lived but it was very disquieting. The Napoleonic dynasty had become demonstrably fragile, nearly overthrown by a madman, and the cement of victory had begun to crack. Extremely perturbed, Napoléon hastily and secretly left Moscow—a city, now ravaged by a gigantic fire, that the French were forced to abandon.
With the coming of the harsh winter, and the Russian army’s scorched-earth tactics, the French army, finding it increasingly difficult to forage food for themselves and their horses, was beginning to disintegrate. Already suffering hunger and cold, the exhausted French army was obliged to withdraw. The retreat was a total disaster, and the crossing of the River Beresina in November 1812 was the most dramatic episode of all. From the Beresina to Vilna the retreat reached the climax of disaster and horror. The experiences of the Grande Armée in its retreat from Moscow have become a byword for suffering. The strategy employed by the Russians had worn down the invaders; the French had been decimated by the freezing cold and constantly harassed by Cossack raiders and Russian marauders. Marshal Murat, left in charge of the remnants of the army, lost his nerve and all control of the army, and the last vestiges of discipline vanished. In the course of the ruinous retreat, the heroic episodes, the sacrifices of the war-weary rear guard, the desperate last-ditch stands, were all in vain. Murat said his famous words: “On est foutus!” (We’re doomed!) Of the 600,000 men who entered Russia, fewer than 100,000 returned to their bases in Germany.
Whoever knew that Britain was a hair’s breadth away from declaring war on America in 1862?
“A friendly little war, one might say. For us, it’s an attractive course of action. First, we can prevent Napoleon from establishing a permanent base in the Americas. Second we put ourselves in a position to help the Confederates – if that suits us – or to keep them out of Mexico if they win their war.” Lord John Russell (the Foreign Secretary) to Lord Palmerston (the Prime Minister)
A Friendly Little War is a gripping new novel that sheds light on Europe’s powerful and relatively unknown role in the outcome of the American Civil War. The book will delight lovers of historical dramas, action adventures, and old-fashioned romance novels alike. The hero, Yankee Charles Bartlett, finds himself drawn reluctantly into the world of nineteenth-century intrigue and diplomacy when he is sent to Europe to spy for his President, Abraham Lincoln, after disgracing himself in the Battle of Bull Run. His on-again, off-again romance with his bewitching Irish landlady, Lady Carra, will keep readers intrigued until the last page.
“Aficionados [of the American Civil War]… are strangely ignorant about what happened in Europe or on the high seas. Yet it was there that the fate of the Confederacy was determined. Not Antietam or Gettysburg or Vicksburg decided the destiny of the United States as a nation. The decision was made in the chancelleries of Europe, and, except for a few major battles, the outcome was influenced more by what happened on the sea than on the land.” Philip Van Doren Stern Introduction to: The Secret Service of the Confederate States in Europe
Meticulously researched, the book immerses the reader in real world events and historical characters across both sides of the Atlantic and through the complexities of nineteenth-century international politics, in which every country is a pawn in a game of diplomatic chess. Bartlett finds himself negotiating the corridors of power in France, entwined in the fledgling Irish independence movement, negotiating with Spanish forces in Mexico and stealing top-secret weapon designs.
John Sherman, who died of a stroke in 2007, was the two times great nephew of the famous Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman (who has a cameo role in the book) and the only living male descendant of the general and his three brothers.
He was born and brought up in Venezuela and educated at Yale and Harvard. He worked in the banking and investment sector in Latin America, New York and London. His talent for writing lay dormant until his retirement upon which he combined his love of history and literature in the writing of this outstanding novel. He is survived by his wife, Xandra, and two of his three sons, Charlie and Peter. His third son died last year, tragically young, from cancer. Proceeds from the sale of this book will be divided equally between The Stroke Association and Cancer Research and it is dedicated to John and his son Ian.
For further information or review copies, please email:
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U.S. Marines stand guard with their LAV-25 light armored vehicles outside a destroyed Panamanian Defense Force building on 20 December 1989, the first day of the U.S. invasion of Panama, Operation JUST CAUSE.
In an action known as Operation JUST CAUSE, U.S. armed forces invaded Panama on 20 December 1989 to overthrow Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega, disrupt Panamanian involvement in drug trafficking, and reduce potential threats to American interests in the region. Operation JUST CAUSE was the culmination of tensions that had been building between the United States and the Noriega regime since 1981. Although Noriega had established ties to the U.S. military and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), he was also connected to Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Noriega’s increasing involvement in international drug trafficking, including links to major drug cartel figures, and his use of anti-American rhetoric elevated concerns in Washington.
During 1987 the United States increased pressure to remove Noriega, but this produced a backlash in Panama and other Latin American states. In 1988, two American federal grand juries indicted Noriega on drug charges, and the U.S. government further pressured the Panamanians to force him out. Based on the deteriorating situation, the U.S. military began to develop plans that would provide a range of options to deal with Panama.
The situation deteriorated further when Noriega overturned the results of a national election on 7 May 1989 and strengthened his personal hold on power in Panama. Although the Organization of American States (OAS) criticized Noriega, the regional body took no significant action to stop him. A Panamanian coup attempt on 3 October 1989 led Noriega to purge the Panamanian Defense Forces (PDF), further solidifying his control. Subsequently, Panamanian police and security forces increased their harassment of U.S. military personnel and other foreign citizens. This harassment and Noriega’s increasing hostility toward the United States caused American leaders to refine the established plan to deal with the Panamanian strongman. The plan, code-named BLUE SPOON, envisioned a joint invasion task force of 22,000 soldiers, complemented by another 5,000 personnel from the U.S. Marines, Navy, and Air Force. Approximately 12,000 personnel would begin the operation from the Panama Canal Zone. Significant special operations forces would also be involved in the invasion. The invasion force would face a PDF of 4,000 combat troops and another 8,000 personnel of Noriega supporters, known as the Dignity Battalions, who were basically armed thugs.
Violence against U.S. citizens escalated after the Panamanian National Assembly proclaimed on 15 December 1989 the existence of a state of war with the United States. Most troubling were the Panamanian security forces’ murder of a U.S. Marine and the abuse of a navy officer and his wife. President George H. W. Bush and his advisors decided that the time to act had arrived. Bush ordered the military to proceed with a full-scale operation that had the highest probability of success through the application of overwhelming force. The overarching objectives of the operation were to protect U.S. citizens living in Panama, secure the Panama Canal and U.S. military installations, help the Panamanian people restore democracy, and arrest Noriega and bring him to the United States for trial.
Operation JUST CAUSE began on 19 December 1989 with an airlift of Army Rangers and elements of the 82nd Airborne Division. A portion of the aircraft carrying the 82nd Airborne troops was delayed by a winter storm. This slowed the buildup of combat forces in Panama but had little effect on the operation’s outcome. Combat operations commenced shortly before 1:00 A.M. local time on 20 December, when it had become clear that the PDF knew an attack was imminent. The first moves were by special operations units assigned to capture key facilities, block escape routes, and capture Noriega.
Noriega avoided initial capture and went into hiding, a major concern of military planners who feared that he would establish a guerrilla resistance against U.S. forces. Meanwhile, Army Rangers conducted successful drops on a series of targets around Panama City, with rapid reinforcement from the 82nd Airborne. Although some of the initial fighting was intense, the U.S. assault forces overcame the resistance and quickly established control. Airdrops were complemented by ground forces moving out of the Panama Canal Zone. These forces also encountered initially strong resistance but were able to rapidly overcome the Panamanian forces and gain their objectives. The key objective, capturing Noriega, was delayed until he sought refuge in the Vatican’s embassy on 24 December. After his location was known, Panamanian resistance faded rapidly.
Diplomatic negotiations and a variety of pressure tactics eventually forced Noriega to surrender to U.S. authorities on 3 January 1990. He was then flown to the United States, where he would stand trial and be convicted on drug trafficking charges. After he had been isolated and then captured, U.S. efforts shifted to civil affairs—establishing stability and security—along with returning to power those government officials who had been elected in May 1989.
The use of overwhelming force allowed rapid victory and resulted in low casualties on both sides: 23 U.S. killed and 332 wounded in action; 297 Panamanian deaths, 123 wounded, and 468 captured. The rapid return by the Bush administration of control of the country to the Panamanians minimized Latin American opposition to the U.S. invasion.
Cole, Ronald H. Operation Just Cause: The Planning and Execution of Joint Operations in Panama. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1995.
Donnelly, Thomas, Margaret Roth, and Caleb Baker. Operation Just Cause: The Storming of Panama. New York: Lexington Books, 1991.
Tsouras, Peter G., and Bruce W. Watson, eds. Operation Just Cause: The U.S. Intervention in Panama. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1991.
American general in both the Pacific and in Europe Patch, the son of an army captain, was born at Fort Huachuca, Arizona Territory, and raised in Pennsylvania, where he attended a year of Lehigh University before entering West Point in 1909. After graduating in 1913, Second Lieutenant Patch served on the Mexican border during 1916–17. Promoted to captain on May 15, 1917, he shipped out to France during World War I and commanded the Army Machine Gun School there from April to October 1918. While in France, Patch also fought at Aisne-Marne (July 18–August 5), at the Saint- Mihiel salient (September 12–16), and in the Meuse-Argonne offensive (September 26–November 11). After the armistice, he served in Germany with the army of occupation through 1919. During his war service, he was promoted to temporary lieutenant colonel, but like many other officers, he reverted to his peacetime rank—captain—on his return to the United States.
Promoted to major on July 1, 1920, Patch served in training positions through 1924. He graduated with distinction from the Command and General Staff School in 1925 and from the Army War College in 1932. During 1925–28 and 1932–36, he taught as professor of military science and tactics at Staunton Military Academy, Virginia.
Promoted to lieutenant colonel on August 1, 1935, Patch was appointed to the Infantry Board at Fort Benning, Georgia, the following year. In this post, he tested the new three-regiment “triangular” division the army had adopted in an effort to make movement and command more efficient. Thanks in part to Patch’s work, the streamlined triangular division would become the foundation of army organization during World War II.
In August 1939, Patch was promoted to colonel and assigned command of the 47th Infantry. On August 4, 1941, he was promoted to brigadier general and given command of the Infantry Replacement Center at Camp Croft, South Carolina. After the United States declared war on Japan on December 8, 1941, Patch, in January 1942, was sent to New Caledonia in the Pacific with the remnants of units left over after the “triangularization” of the 26th and 33rd Divisions. After his promotion to major general on March 10, his units became the core of the Americal Division— “American troops on New Caledonia”—activated on May 27, 1942. Patch led the Americal Division in the Guadalcanal campaign, relieving the 1st Marine Division there on December 9. He commanded mop-up operations on Guadalcanal from December 1942 to February 7, 1943, then, from January to April 1943, served as commander of XIV Corps. In April 1943, Patch was called back to the United States to assume command of the IV Corps area. He was responsible for troop training from April 1943 to March 1944, when he was sent to Sicily in command of the Seventh U.S. Army there. He then led the Seventh Army in Operation Anvil-Dragoon, the invasion of southern France (the French Riviera), beginning on August 15. Three days into the operation, Patch was promoted to lieutenant general.
Patch led the Riviera invasion with efficiency and rapidity, so that on September 11, 1944, he was able to link up with the Third U.S. Army under George S. Patton Jr. at Dijon. His Seventh Army next became part of the Sixth Army Group and advanced into Alsace. Patch took Strasbourg in November, then participated in the defense against a German counteroffensive in January 1945 and the reduction of the Colmar Pocket in February. From Colmar, Patch led the Seventh U.S. Army through southern Germany and into Austria, where he linked up with elements of Mark W. Clark’s Fifth U.S. Army at the Brenner Pass on May 4.
After the German surrender, Patch returned to the United States in June to command the Fourth Army at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, again taking responsibility for troop training. In October, he was assigned to a special group formed to study postwar defense reorganization, but succumbed to pneumonia shortly after completing this assignment.
Further reading: Wyant, William K. Sandy Patch: A Biography of Lt. Gen. Alexander M. Patch. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1991.
Operation Anvil was planned as a nearly simultaneous complement to Operation Hammer. The former was the code name for Allied landings on the French Riviera, and the latter for the invasion of Normandy. Dwight D. Eisenhower and other American military planners saw the two operations as necessarily complementary—the means of invading Europe while crushing the enemy between two major forces. Operation Hammer was subsequently renamed Operation Overlord, however, and Operation Anvil was put on hold—delayed until after the Normandy landings had been completed and the advance across France (Operation Cobra) under way—in part because of a shortage of Landing craft and in part because British prime minister Winston S. Churchill believe that Operation Anvil represented a diversion of resources that would be better used invading the oil-producing Balkans. Churchill and top British commanders also feared that the operation would divert resources from the ongoing Italian Campaign. Ultimately, the Balkan operation did not materialize, and Churchill was persuaded to allow the authorization of Operation Anvil, which, when it took place on August 15, 1944, between Toulon and Cannes, was renamed Operation Dragoon (because, it was said, Churchill claimed that he had been “dragooned” into agreeing to it).
As originally conceived, Operation Anvil/Dragoon was to land Free French and American troops in the south of France. Initially, the objective was Toulon, to which Marseille was soon added. Later, Saint Tropez became a third objective. These were to be captured simultaneously with the Normandy landings. The postponement of the operation threatened to become permanent, but the capture of Rome and the excellent progress made with Operation Cobra finally convinced the British to agree to the renamed Operation Dragoon.
On August 1, 1944, the U.S. 6th Army Group (“Southern Group of Armies” or “Dragoon Force”) was activated in Corsica under Lieutenant General Jacob L. Devers. The army group included American and Free French Forces. The assault was carried out by three U.S. divisions of VI Corps, reinforced with a Free French armored division. The 3rd Infantry Division landed on the left at Cavalaire-sur-Mer (designated Alpha Beach), the 45th Infantry Division on the center at Saint-Tropez (Delta Beach), and the 36th Infantry Division on the right at Saint-Raphaël (Camel Beach). French commandos demolished German artillery emplacements at Cap Negre, west of the main invasion (this sub-operation was code-named Operation Romeo). The commandos were supported by additional French commando units and by British and American airborne troops (in Operation Dove). In Operation Sitka, the U.S. 1st Special Service Force captured two small islands offshore to ensure the security of the beachhead. All of Operation Dragoon was covered by a deception and decoy operation (code-named Span). A large naval fleet provided heavy gunfire, and seven escort carriers launched close air support.
On the first day, more than 94,000 troops with 11,000 vehicles were landed. Because many German troops that had been in the area were sent north to resist the Normandy invasion, the landings met with light resistance, and the Allies penetrated inland 20 miles in just 24 hours. This remarkable movement inspired French resistance units to lead an uprising in occupied Paris—an event that made Paris an early priority target for liberation.
After the first day’s landings, follow-on units landed, and the German Nineteenth Army rapidly retreated from the Riviera. Progress was much faster than the Allied planners had anticipated, so that the advance was limited not so much by German resistance as by Allied logistics: a shortage of gasoline. The Dragoon troops linked up with elements of Operation Overlord by mid-September, near Dijon.
Operation Dragoon liberated Marseille and the southern network of French railways. These became key to Allied logistics during the rest of the advance across France and into Germany.
Further reading: Breuer, William. Operation Dragoon: The Allied Invasion of the South of France. Novato, Calif.: Presidio Press, 1996; Gaujaz, Paul. Dragoon. Paris: Histoire and Collections, 2004.
The raid on St Malo was one of several abortive attacks along the north coast of France. This was the first time the Guards had been involved in this war. They were formed into a brigade of the 1st battalions of each regiment. The attack on St Malo was in September 1758 and proved disastrous. The rearguard consisted of the first battalion of the 1st Guards but included the Grenadier Companies of the Coldstream and Scots Guards. They were cut off and had to fight against superior numbers until ammunition ran out. 800 were killed and the same number wounded.
Great Britain planned a “descent” (an amphibious demonstration or raid) on Rochefort, a joint operation to overrun the town and burn the shipping in the Charente. The expedition set out on 8 September 1757, Sir John Mordaunt commanding the troops and Sir Edward Hawke the fleet. On 23 September, the Isle d’Aix was taken, but due to dithering by military staff such time was lost that Rochefort became unassailable, and the expedition abandoned the Isle d’Aix, returned to Great Britain on 1 October.
Despite the operational failure and debated strategic success of the descent on Rochefort, William Pitt — who saw purpose in this type of asymmetric enterprise — prepared to continue such operations. An army was assembled under the command of Charles Spencer, 3rd Duke of Marlborough; he was aided by Lord George Sackville. The naval escorts for the expedition were commanded by Anson, Hawke, and Howe. The army landed on 5 June 1758 at Cancalle Bay, proceeded to St. Malo, and burned the shipping in the harbor; the arrival of French relief forces caused the British to avoid a siege, and the troops re-embarked. An attack on Havre de Grace was called off, and the fleet sailed on to Cherbourg; but the weather being bad and provisions low, that too was abandoned, and the expedition returned, having damaged French privateering and provided a further strategic demonstration against the French coast.
Pitt now prepared to send troops into Germany; and both Marlborough and Sackville, disgusted by what they perceived as the futility of the “descents”, obtained commissions in that army. The elderly General Bligh was appointed to command a new “descent”, escorted by Howe. The campaign began propitiously with the Raid on Cherbourg. With the support of the navy to bombard Cherbourg and cover their landing, the army drove off the French force detailed to oppose their landing, captured Cherbourg, and destroyed its fortifications, docks, and shipping.
The troops were re-embarked and the fleet moved them to the Bay of St. Lunaire in Brittany where, on 3 September, they were landed to again operate against St. Malo; however, this action proved impractical. Worsening weather forced the two armies to separate: the ships sailed for the safer anchorage of St. Cast, while the army proceeded overland. The tardiness of Bligh in moving his forces allowed a French force of 10,000 men from Brest to catch up with him and open fire on the re-embarkation troops. A rear-guard of 1,400 under General Dury held off the French while the rest of the army embarked; they could not be saved, 750, including Dury, were killed and the rest captured.
AWM 127910 (Australian War Memorial)
Japanese troops of Major General HORII Tomitaro’s South Seas Force occupy Kavieng, New Ireland, on 22 January 1942. The Japanese invasion fleet with its two aircraft carriers and accompanying warships insured that HORII’s men enjoyed overwhelming air and naval support during their operations to secure New Britain and New Ireland.
Lieutenant General Horii Tomitaro was one of the Imperial Army’s most highly regarded field commanders. He fought in the Sino-Japanese War beginning in 1938 as commander of the 12th Independent Regiment then, from 1940 to 1941, as the general officer in command of the 55th Division. After the outbreak of World War II in the Pacific, Horii essentially created the elite South Seas Detachment, made up of six of his own handpicked battalions, mountain artillery, and engineers. He led this unit in the New Guinea Campaign, including a planned attack on Port Moresby by way of Buna and Gona. His plan was to storm through Buna and Gona while follow-up forces established a well-fortified beachhead between the two villages.
The assault on Port Moresby failed, and among the Japanese casualties was Horii Tomitaro. Horii drowned while crossing the Kumusi River when his raft capsized in November 1942. It was a major command loss for the Imperial Army.
A major Japanese assault on New Guinea came on July 21–22, 1942, when elements of the Eighteenth Japanese Army (under Adachi Matazo) landed at Gona and Buna. From here, the Japanese launched a new offensive against Port Moresby. On August 26, 1,900 Japanese troops landed at Milne Bay but were repulsed by combined Australian and American engineer troops, who were building airstrips.
On July 22, two Japanese regiments left Gona- Buna on a treacherous march along the Kokoda Trail over the 13,000-foot Owen Stanley Range. They occupied Kokoda village on August 12 and reached Ioribaiwa on September 17, putting the advance guard of the Japanese force just 32 miles from Port Moresby. Here, however, they were intercepted by the 7th Australian Division, which counterattacked, driving the Japanese out of the mountains and down into the swamplands around Gona and Buna. Joined now by U.S. and other Australian units, the 7th Division fought a fierce jungle campaign that drove the Japanese out of Gona on December 10, 1942, and out of Buna on January 3, 1943. The last Japanese resistance in this area, at Sanananda Point, was neutralized on January 23. With this, Papua was liberated. U.S. and Australian forces had suffered 8,546 combat casualties in this phase of the New Guinea Campaign, whereas Japanese losses were estimated at 12,000 killed and 350 captured; some 4,000 Japanese withdrew successfully. Victory in this phase of the campaign allowed Douglas MacArthur to seize the initiative and begin the Allied counteroffensive in the Southwest Pacific.
Well, primarily we’re wargamers who are desperately passionate about historical wargaming and as such will be producing great rules and miniatures for you. We want to be bringing you miniatures, rules and the like that we are proud of and excited by ourselves – that way we know you’ll love them too.
John Stallard is best known as author of the Warhammer Historical: English Civil Wars rules. Whilst this period is one of his passions he’s probably better described as someone to whom history is an opportunity to play with as many different armies as possible. John’s gaming room is any wargamers dream – unlike his Timmy Mallett shirt…
Paul Sawyer was editor of Games Workshop’s White Dwarf magazine for many years. With an unhealthy love for World War II wargaming he can often be found lovingly stroking models of Jagdpanthers…
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