NEW! Canadian Military History Trivia Challenge

Month: May 1998

O Canada

Pride In The Red Serge

My only run-in with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police came on the ice at Williams Lake, B.C. It was 30 years ago and my first winter in Canada. I was news editor for the Williams Lake Tribune and the media and police were hockey rivals in a community fund-raising event. I had no option but to play the game. And so there I was, puttering around, trying to touch the puck as players skated circles around me. Suddenly a deafening howl erupted and I was plucked from behind, kilt and skates in the air–a Scot always plays field hockey in his kilt–and thrust into a police vehicle. Minutes later I was in the hoosegow, charged with obstructing traffic on the rink. Yes, the Mounties got their man. This amusing incident came to mind when I was assigned to write a story m...
O Canada

Our Fabulous Flora

Probably every Canadian has heard, maybe even hummed, the 1956 Woody Guthrie folk classic "This Land is Your Land"–preferably the Canadian version. As a child, I had a vivid image of the phrase: "As I was walking that ribbon of highway/I saw above me that endless skyway..." I could picture a vast land mass, like the pink-toned map of Canada that used to hang at the front of my school classroom, brought to life by a shiny satin ribbon constantly changing color as it snaked across the country. Azure sky flapped above and rivers flashed below, accentuated by dark evergreen forests. A fanciful vision, perhaps, but one that leaps to life each year as the growing season unfolds. From spring through fall, the flowers and shrubs that represent Canada’s 10 provinces and two–soon to be thr...
War Art

Aba Bayefsky

The recurring theme of skeletons characterizes the work of Aba Bayefsky. From top to bottom: Belsen Concentration Camp—The Pit; All Quiet on the Western Front; Remembering The Holocaust. Many war artists had a bitter time recording the images of war, but few more so than Aba Bayefsky. "I believe that art and politics—by politics I mean human interaction—go hand in hand. I’m a people painter. I’m not out on a mission, but I would like to think that what I have done will leave a record of what transpired. I am very sensitive to anti-Semitism, and would have thought that after those camps it would disappear…to me it is central to what I think and what I do." Bayefsky was born in Toronto on April 7, 1923. He was the second son of a Russian-born father and a Scottish-bo...
Defence Today

Preserving The Atlantic Lifeline

by Commander Tony German The month of May marks the 55th anniversary of the longest continuous battle of WW II--the Battle of the Atlantic. In this article, author Tony German takes a look back at the Canadian contribution to victory at sea. On Sept. 4, 1939, the day after Great Britain declared war on Nazi Germany, the Cunard liner Athenia sank in the Atlantic Ocean after being torpedoed by a German U-boat. Winston Churchill, back in his Great War Cabinet post as First Lord of the Admiralty, immediately ordered convoys. Canada joined Britain at war on Sept. 10 and six days later the first transatlantic convoy of the war--HX-1--sailed from Halifax. The Battle of the Atlantic had begun. Throughout the war--from that first sailing in 1939 to the end of war in Europe on May 8, ...
Defence Today

Peacekeeping Operations: A Progress Report

by Ray Dick "It has been pretty busy around here," says Lieutenant-Colonel Roy Forestell as he shuffles through operations reports on Canadian troops serving on peacekeeping missions and other operations around the world. In a quieter area of the tightly locked National Defence operations centre in downtown Ottawa, with a view through a glass partition of a world map and clocks showing the various time zones, the senior staff officer sips a coffee and discusses the latest mission by Canadian Forces on the international scene. It was late February and the Forces had just dispatched 400 personnel to the Persian Gulf as part of the threatened attack by U.S.-led forces against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The threat was in response to Iraq’s refusal to allow United Nation’s weap...

The Airborne On D-Day: Army, Part 21

When historians really immerse themselves in the world inhabited by the men who planned the invasion of France in 1944, two things quickly become evident. Everyone expressed confidence that the operation would succeed and everyone feared it might fail. It was this nightmare of "the Channel running red with blood" and the possibility of another Dunkirk-like evacuation that led the generals to decide to use three of their highly trained airborne divisions, not to exploit success, but to guard against failure.The decision to create an Allied airborne army of five divisions and commit enormous resources to gliders, special equipment and a fleet of transport aircraft was always controversial. Ever since the conquest of Crete in May 1941, when German airborne forces lost 30 per cent of their str...

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