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Month: October 1996


In A Grandfather’s Footsteps

by Dan Black On Nov. 22, 1916, my grandfather was lying in the mud near the recently captured Regina Trench north of Courcelette, France. For as far as the eye could see, the land surrounding the farmboy from Almonte, Ont., had been blown apart and turned into a virtual morass of mud, slime and decay. It did not seem likely that the plows would ever work the earth again or that the wheat would ever rise again. The 22-year-old private with the 73rd Battalion of the Royal Highlanders of Canada was suffering from a compound fracture to his right leg, the result of being hit by shrapnel from a high-explosive shell. During the six previous weeks, my grandfather spent part of the time crouched under a rubber groundsheet while trying to get out of the icy rain. Other time was spent on...

The Germany Zone

by Dan Black Thomas Andrews is tired, but he’s not ready to shut it down for the night. The 72-year-old Legion zone commander is sitting behind the wheel of his parked Nissan station-wagon. It’s well past midnight, and you’d think he’d want to say good night and head up to his room in the small German hotel across the street. But no, he wants to talk some more about what The Royal Canadian Legion is doing in a country that was our enemy through two world wars. Andrews says he met delegates at this year’s dominion convention in Toronto who were quite surprised when he told them the Legion had three branches in Germany. "They didn’t know of our existence, let alone what we do over here." Removing his glasses, Andrews continues to talk as he rubs the dark semicircles under his ...

The Role Of Jill Canuck: Army, Part 12

History, according to one definition, is a word with three distinct meanings. First it refers to the actual events that took place in the past, then the memory of those events and finally the historian’s attempt to understand and interpret the surviving evidence. The third kind of history is always written from the perspective of the present–even when the historian makes a conscious effort to avoid imposing contemporary values on the past.I was sharply reminded of this while reading a variety of books and articles on the 50,000 women who served in the Canadian Armed Forces in WW II. Memoirs like Phyllis Bowman’s We Skirted The War or Rosamond Greer’s The Girls Of The King’s Navy convey the sense of excitement, adventure and achievement that so many women who served recall. As "Fiddy" Greer...

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