The Valcartier grenade accident
It was a wet day, at CFB Valcartier in Quebec, so an ammunition safety lecture was moved indoors. Dummy ammunition, painted blue to distinguish it from green-coloured live ammo, was handed around for about 140 cadets aged 14 and 15 to examine.
There was one green grenade in the box, but everyone assumed it was safe. No one knew that blue demonstration grenades had been transported with some live grenades, and that a live grenade had been placed in the demo box.
It ended up in the hands of 14-year-old Eric Lloyd, who pulled the pin. He and five other cadets were killed and more than 50 others wounded.
The Wegner Point disaster
What started as a routine practice jump for 26 paratroopers from CFB Petawawa, quickly turned into one of the most deadly military training accidents in Canadian history.
On the evening of May 8, 1968, 22 of the paratroopers were caught by sharp winds and blown away from their target of Mattawa Plains and into the cold waters of the Ottawa River near Wegner Point. Tangled and weighed down, the men struggled to stay afloat, some roughly 300 meters offshore.
Rescuers were quickly on the scene, but were unable to save all the men. Seven of the paratroopers lost their lives that night.
The Tarnak Farm incident
During the night of April 17, 2002 in Afghanistan, American F-16 pilots Major William Umbach and his wingman Maj. Harry Schmidt were returning to their base after a night patrol. Simultaneously, Canadian forces were carrying out a live-fire anti-tank and machine-gun exercise at a former Taliban firing range.
Confusing the training exercise with what he believed to be hostile surface-to-air fire, Schmidt asked permission to open fire but was denied by the pilots’ Airborne Warning and Control System controller, who instructed them to “hold fire” and “make sure that it’s not friendlies”.
Shortly after this, Schmidt reported seeing another shot being fired from the Canadian anti-tank weapon and said, “I am rolling in in self-defense,” before dropping his bombs on the target in question.
After reporting a direct hit, Schmidt said “I hope I did the right thing,” before being informed by the AWACS controller that the target was, in fact, friendly.
Eight members of the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Battle Group were injured, and four were killed: Sgt. Marc D. Léger, Cpl. Ainsworth Dyer, Pte. Richard Green and Pte. Nathan Lloyd Smith.