NEW! Canadian Military History Trivia Challenge

Month: June 2008

Air Force

Above Enemy Lines: Air Force, Part 27

Aerial photography changed dramatically during World War II, but even before the war an expatriate Australian named Sydney Cotton, had—with the encouragement of the Royal Air Force—begun to explore the possibilities of marrying cameras to high-speed aircraft. An inventor and aviation pioneer, Cotton had barnstormed in Newfound­land from 1919 to 1922 before moving on to Britain. His earliest experiments, conducted in peacetime, used modern transport aircraft like the Lockheed 12A. Camera lenses tended to frost over at high altitude and so he directed cabin air onto the cameras to solve the problem. When greater range was needed he fitted his aircraft with extra fuel tanks. Upon the outbreak of war, Cotton applied his test results to unarmed Spitfires that would use speed and heigh...

Regina Branch Considers Its Future

With performance space in Regina in short supply over the last few years, arts groups have been grateful for the Atlantic Auditorium in The Royal Canadian Legion building. And now the branch is looking to the local arts community to breathe new life into the grand old structure. With shrinking membership, plummeting revenues from the bar and restaurant, and rapidly rising utility costs, the branch has more building than it can afford. In its heyday, Regina Branch had 3,000 very active members and every inch of the 28,000-square foot building was used. “When I was president in 1962…the monies from the Vimy Lounge and the canteen paid for everything. I can’t believe how things have changed,” said Harold Hague, head of the transition committee charged with finding a way to keep the buil...

The Humble Corvette: Navy, Part 27

Few warships epitomize the Atlantic war more than the lowly Flower-class corvette. An auxiliary vessel hastily built to mercantile standards and pushed into service by the score, with poor equipment and green crews, the corvette was hardly a match for Germany’s U-boat fleet. Nor did it inspire the imagination—except perhaps in perverse ways—of those who served in them. But the humble corvette made Allied victory in the Atlantic possible: they allowed the convoy system to be extended throughout the North Atlantic, and they provided the ‘forces of position’ which freed better equipped anti-submarine vessels to do their job. Perhaps most important of all, the unpretentious corvette—especially the first 64 of the 1939-40 building program that carried Canada’s war at sea until 1943—defin...

Defence Conference Hears Of Canada’s Role In Afghanistan

Prime Minister Stephen Harper used the annual seminar of the Conference of Defence Associations Institute in Ottawa to announce a compromise with the Opposition Liberals to extend Canada’s mission to Afghanistan until 2011. The proposed extension came as the government’s reaction to the report of the Independent Panel on Canada’s Future Role in Afghanistan chaired by former foreign affairs minister John Manley. The Liberals had put forward a number of amendments to the government motion. Harper’s surprise move was to withdraw the original motion and put forward a new motion which strongly reflected the intention of the Liberal amendments. “We have examined the details of their position very carefully. We are pleased that there is some fundamental common ground. We both agree that Can...

Bridgehead On The Melfa: Army, Part 76

Military historians often distinguish between the strategic, operational and tactical levels of war though they frequently disagree on their exact meanings. The term grand strategy is usually reserved for decisions made by Allied leaders like Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The grand strategy behind the World War II Italian Campaign in the spring of 1944 was to continue an offensive as a means of diverting enemy resources away from the D-Day beaches and Normandy. To further this plan General Harold Alexander, the overall Allied commander in Italy, developed a strategy calling for a broad advance towards Rome that would engage the enemy. This was to be followed by a breakout from the Anzio beachhead that was intended to trap the German 10th Army by cutting its escape...

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An informative primer on Canada’s crucial role in the Normandy landing, June 6, 1944.