Front Lines

Scientists have found that the current United States Army helmet provides no better blast protection than its First World War predecessors and, indeed, the vintage French helmet was actually better than the modern American design. The biomedical engineers from Duke University in Durham, N.C., hope the results of their study will inform future helmet designs,…

Military Milestones

Canadians’ baptism of fire

February 26, 2020 by Sharon Adams

The Royal Canadian Regiment of Infantry got its first taste of battle in the Boer War on the murderous Bloody Sunday in mid-February 1900 at Paardeberg Drift, which claimed 1,300 British casualties, including 18 dead and 60 wounded Canadians. Within 10 days the regiment was to receive much of the credit for the first significant…

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Memoirs

Letters to Mom

February 23, 2020 by Allan Wallace Coburn and Sharon Adams

During the Second World War, 21-year-old Allan Coburn was one of a million young men and women whose sense of duty and hankering for adventure drew them to serve in the Canadian Army. He was “the second son of a farmer, with no passion for farming,” said his son Douglas Coburn of Winnipeg. “So, what…

Military Milestones

How to beat the bomber

February 19, 2020 by Sharon Adams

Ten years ago on Feb. 19, an improvised explosive device was found under a major road in Afghanistan. The device was placed about 10 metres down a small culvert—out of reach of equipment, impossible to shield. A robot couldn’t finish the job. There was nothing for it but to send in someone—a volunteer—to defuse the…

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A new exhibition of works by artists “commissioned” by the Defence Department reflects Canada’s changing environment and the evolving roles of the country’s military in the wake of an intense 13 years fighting a war in Afghanistan. Six civilian artists made up the eighth group to participate in the non-paying Canadian Forces Artists Program...

The Phoney War

February 15, 2020 by J.L. Granatstein
Two days after Germany invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, Britain and France declared war on the Nazi regime. On the evening of Sept. 3, a German U-boat torpedoed the British passenger liner SS Athenia, a sign that Hitler intended to wage a ruthless war at sea. The sinking triggered ample public outrage, but little...

Unused veterans’ beds concern delegates

February 13, 2020 by Tom MacGregor
Legionnaires in New Brunswick expressed concern about the loss of veterans-priority-access beds in the province’s long-term care facilities when delegates met for the 84th New Brunswick Command Convention in Shediac on Sept. 21-22. The issue of veterans’ beds came up when Veterans Seniors and Services Committee Chair Daryl Alward noted that Horizon Health Network, one of the province’s two...
The first casualty of war may be the truth, but the last and just as certain is the non-combatant. As many as 85 million people were killed during the Second World War but fewer than 30 per cent were military. More of the dead were victims of war crimes than legitimate battle. Eighty-five per...

The last of the U-boats is scuttled

February 12, 2020 by Sharon Adams
On Feb. 12, 1946, U-3514 was sunk off the coast of Northern Ireland in Operation Deadlight, meant to ensure elimination of the German submarine fleet after the war. The sub was sunk at 10:04 a.m. by ship guns and depth charges, the last of 116 scuttled by the Royal Navy. In anticipation of the...

A new era of war films triumphs

February 5, 2020 by Stephen J. Thorne
The First World War film 1917 is cleaning up at awards shows from Los Angeles to London, and the surprise success of the 2020 season is now considered a frontrunner for Best Picture at the Academy Awards on Feb. 9. Directed by Sam Mendes and based on tales his veteran grandfather told him, the...

The Victoria Cross is established

February 5, 2020 by Sharon Adams
In the mid-1800s, the highest British military honours were almost exclusively awarded to senior officers under the observant eye of generals. But generals rarely make it to the front lines, where the heroism of brave junior officers and enlisted men mostly went unrecognized except among themselves. The Crimean War changed that. For the first...

On this Date: February 2020

February 4, 2020 by Legion Magazine
1 February 1911 Royal Canadian Naval Service recruitment posters go up in post offices across Canada. 2 February 2003 HMCS Regina joins the Canadian Naval Task Group, part of the international anti-terrorism campaign in the Persian Gulf. 3 February 1942 The Canadian Women’s Auxiliary Air Force is renamed the RCAF Women’s Division. 5 February...

The RCMP turns 100

January 31, 2020 by Don Gillmor
When Canada bought Rupert’s Land from the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1870, it needed to police those millions of square kilometres, so in 1873, the North West Mounted Police was formed by an act of Parliament. Successful applicants had to be males between the ages of 18 and 40, of sound constitution and good...
Many, if not most, historians have maintained for eight decades that Germany could have won the Battle of Britain had Adolf Hitler just done a couple of things differently. Recently, six mathematicians created a new methodology and essentially proved them right, sparking a social media outcry among Second World War buffs, warbird fanatics and...

Secret deliveries

January 29, 2020 by Sharon Adams
In June 1943, a German agent penetrated a network in France set up to bring large numbers of escaped Allied airmen back to Britain. A new one was urgently needed. MI9, the British military intelligence department, entrusted the task, code-named Operation Bonaparte, to a pair of French-Canadian volunteer spies. Raymond LaBrosse, a sergeant in...
This is the second feature on Canada’s Indigenous war heroes. To read part 1, click here For two years during the Second World War, Charles (Checker) Tomkins, a Métis from Grouard, Alta., was given a secret assignment. It was a secret he very nearly took to his grave, an Indigenous contribution to the war...

The Children’s Invasion

January 25, 2020 by Valerie Knowles
Citizens of Saskatoon couldn’t contain their excitement when the British children arrived by rail in the late summer of 1940. The largest crowd since the Royal Visit of 1939 was at Union Station to greet the young newcomers. Huge crowds also greeted a party of British children at the Port of Montreal. In Toronto,...
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