NEW! Canadian Military History Trivia Challenge

Month: June 2009

Air Force

Clearing The Channel: Air Force, Part 33

The success of Allied landings in Normandy on June 6, 1944, and the subsequent campaign to break out from that ancient province was due to the services and sacrifices of all three military arms—land, sea and air. The contribution of the air forces took many forms. One was close co-operation with naval forces in holding the ring against German forces that sought to attack the cross-Channel convoys so vital to the reinforcement of the beachhead. The D-Day assault was unopposed by German naval forces, but in subsequent weeks the enemy skillfully marshalled what resources it had. These included U-boats (submarines), small warships (motor torpedo boats, known as E-boats, and T-boats which resembled small destroyers), small battle units (midget submarines; unmanned radio-controlled explos...

The Fate Of Slow Convoy 42: Navy, Part 33

The division of Allied labour worked out in August 1941 for operations on the North Atlantic made perfect sense. Fifty destroyers of the United States Atlantic Fleet’s Support Force assumed responsibility for fast convoys between the Grand Banks and Iceland. This freed British forces to concentrate east of Iceland, especially along the embattled United Kingdom-South Atlantic route. In time, the burgeoning escort forces of the Royal Canadian Navy would be shifted eastward, but in the interim—while the United States Navy found its feet—the Newfoundland Escort Force’s largely corvette fleet took charge of the slow convoys between the Grand Banks and Iceland. Plodding along at roughly seven knots—and frequently much slower—and typically comprised of the oldest ships which belched smoke ...

An Entrenched Enemy: Army, Part 82

When the German army in Italy was forced to abandon Coriano Ridge on Sept. 15, 1944, the withdrawal marked the end of the fourth phase of 8th Army’s Gothic Line offensive. The first phase, including the logistical and engineering triumph in moving 8th Army across the Apennine Mountains to the Adriatic coast, brought the Canadians, British and Poles to the Foglia River and the main Gothic Line defences known as Green Line One. From there, 1st Canadian Infantry and 5th Canadian Armoured divisions broke through the defensive crust before the enemy had fully manned its positions. Next, the Canadians fought their way forward to the Conca River and the coastal town of Cattolica while British 5th Corps, which was supposed to lead the breakout from the mountains to “the green fields beyond,...
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The Short Season Of High Society

It was to be an overseas Utopia for the upper classes of England—lush gardens and orchards, a heavenly climate and all the familiar trappings of aristocracy. It lasted about a decade. What went wrong? It is high noon in late July sitting here on a long-abandoned water flume in the dry hills of British Columbia’s semi-desert interior. The merciless sun has taken its toll—boards long blackened and split are grown through with sagebrush and bunchgrass or splayed down the mountainside. Looking south across the Thompson River you see tiny Walhachin. A century ago, this flume was to be the lifeblood of that town’s wildly ambitious scheme. It started when American surveyor and entrepreneur Charles Barnes was searching for funds to develop this dry cactus-filled benchland. When he checke...

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