NEW! Canadian Military History Trivia Challenge

Month: February 2009


Health File

Symptoms Not Always Shown Not everyone whose brain shows the telltale signs of Alzheimer’s disease after death shows symptoms of the disease—memory loss, confusion and emotional outbursts—in life. This raises the possibility some of us may have built up protection in youth that protects the brain in old age. “Cognitive reserve developed in early life may serve to buffer individuals from Alzheimer’s pathology in later life,” Suzanne Tyas, a University of Waterloo behavioural neuroscientist, reported at the Canadian Association on Gerontology conference in London, Ont., in October. Hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease are accumulation of amyloid plaques, a kind of protein, between the neurons in the brain; and twisted fibres, called neurofibrillary tangles, inside brain cells. Until rec...
Air Force

The Japanese Attack: Air Force, Part 31

May 1942 marked the high tide of Japanese expansion. This ended abruptly at the Battle of Midway on June 4 when four enemy aircraft carriers were sunk. As a diversion, the enemy had sailed a smaller fleet to the Aleutian Islands. Part of this was withdrawn on news of the Midway disaster, and the enemy vacillated about what to do next. Convinced (mistakenly) that several of the islands were heavily fortified, they chose to capture Kiska and Attu at the western end of the archipelago and held them as a consolation prize for defeat elsewhere. The subsequent campaign has often been called a “sideshow.” Historian Samuel Eliot Morison has been somewhat more generous, describing it as “the fifth and least important ring in Admiral Yamamoto’s Greatest Show on Earth: the one where the less g...

The Training Gap: Navy, Part 31

The Royal Canadian Navy escorts that arrived in Newfoundland in May and June 1941 had more exposure to training programs than perhaps any other escorts in the early years of the war. For a period of nine weeks during that spring, Lieutenant-Commander “Chummy” Prentice drove the officers and men of the corvettes Agassiz, Alberni, Chambly, Cobalt, Collingwood, Orillia and Westaskiwin relent­-lessly—belying the deliberate irony of Prentice’s nickname. At the same time, the first ‘Canadian’ corvettes to arrive in the United Kingdom and most of the RCN’s new Town-class destroyers went through the Royal Navy’s workup system at Tobermory, Ont., under Commodore G.O. Stephenson, the Terror of Tobermory. Prentice and Stephenson were convinced the path to operational efficiency was uncompro...

The Bite And Hold Approach: Army, Part 80

The German army’s Apennine defences, known to the Allies as the Gothic Line, stretched across the Italian peninsula. The strongest sections were in the American sector guarding the direct approaches to Bologna, but the two-month delay between the capture of Rome and the beginning of Operation Olive, 8th Army’s offensive, allowed time for German engineers and Italian labourers to enhance the natural obstacles of ridge lines and rivers with prepared positions. The work was concentrated on what the Germans called Green Line One, which on the Adriatic front was located on the high ground north of the Foglia River. It was here that most of “the 2,375 machine-gun posts, 479 anti-tank gun, mortar and assault-gun positions, 3,604 dugouts and shelters, 16,006 rifleman positions, 72,517 telle...
O Canada

A Century Aloft: The Rise Of The Silver Dart

“That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Only 66 years separate American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s memorable moonscape statement from the first flights of Orville and Wilbur Wright. When engine-powered flight began with the Wright brothers on an isolated North Carolina beach in 1903, it developed very quickly. Less than six years later, Henri Blériot flew across the English Channel. Yet, in the development of heavier-than-air powered flying machines, a significant Canadian contribution is often overlooked. The story of powered flight in Canada starts with Alexander Graham Bell and his insatiable thirst for knowledge, which began at an early age. As a teenager, he designed a method of removing husks from corn after his friend’s father asked the boys, “Why don’t...
O Canada

Milling Through History

Escape the super highways and travel the back roads along popular waterways and you will find significant, but often overlooked connections to Canada’s industrial past. Your reward may be a simple limestone wall or the rough outline of a foundation. Or it could be a working mill that is still operating the way it did 100 or more years ago—grinding grain, carding wool or sawing wood. It is important though, not to be fooled by the apparent quaintness of these living museums, because what seems old-fashioned today was cutting-edge, high technology a century ago. That’s not all: these historical structures were dangerous places to work for the inexperienced and inattentive. Personal mutilation was a constant danger by the roaring belts and spinning shafts; hor­rible death an ever-prese...

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