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Month: August 2011

Letters From Bill

Letters From Bill – May 23, 1943.

Dear Mum, Dad and Jack:   Well here I am in England and it sure feels strange, in fact I hardly believe it and no doubt it is the same for you folks. Had a very quiet trip across and wasn’t a bit sick. Guess I should have been a sailor….   It doesn’t seem right that I am nearly 4,000 miles from home, but it is I guess. The countryside is sure beautiful over here this time of year but give me good old Pictou Co., N.S, any day. It may be a bit early to decide but I don’t think I like it here but I guess I have to put up with it. Don’t forget to send cigs and boxes as both will be welcome. I haven’t had a square meal since I was home.... Cigs are about thirty cents for ten over here and they are English cigs. They are not near as good as ours. We are allowed 1,000 a mont...

Health File

A Jigsaw Puzzle Health and medical news seems to fly at us from every direction these days—rising disease rates; new tests or treatments; new risks; medical breakthroughs; the state of our health care system; a seemingly unending series of reports on new research and health trends. Health care today is like a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle—many interconnected pieces need to link up to build the complete picture. Health File is here to help put some of those pieces together so we can see the picture better. We’ll highlight news about health conditions affecting Canadians, new trends, Canadian and international research and medical breakthroughs, developments in the many agencies and government departments involved in public health. Here are some new pieces to fit into the puzzle. On...
Air Force

The Role Of The Boats: Air Force, Part 46

Air forces have long since relied on boats of one sort or another. They have been used to pluck downed aircrew from the sea, tow targets for air-gunner training and shuttle personnel, fuel, cargo and munitions to floatplanes and flying boats. I mprovisation was certainly relied upon during the years between the First and Second world wars. A Royal Canadian Air Force photographic detachment working in Manitoba, for example, was often assisted by civilians with rowboats or canoes. Sustained use of small boats eventually occurred at Ottawa, Dartmouth, N.S., and Jericho Beach (Vancouver), but as of August 1928 the RCAF owned only four boats: one motorboat and three rowboats. Other watercraft were leased or rented as required. In March 1929, the RCAF approached the Department of Mari...

At The Edge Of Disaster: Navy, Part 46

The expansion of the war in 1942 pulled Canada’s small ship navy in several directions simultaneously, stretching it thin and leading—ultimately—to the greatest crisis in Canadian naval history. The navy’s senior officers were sharply criticized for the way in which they handled these challenges and the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Percy Nelles, was dismissed in January 1944. It is hard to know how they could have done better with what they had to work with. As always in the struggle against the U-boats, the enemy had the initiative and Allied resources were limited. The Royal Canadian Navy’s response to sudden expansion of the U-boat war in 1942 was primarily to extend the system of escorted convoys. It was a highly successful strategy, even if the navy proved incapable of winnin...

Taking Caen: Army, Part 95

Operation Charnwood, the July 8-9, 1944, attack on Caen, Normandy, by I British Corps, was a multi-phase advance. The first part, intended to collapse the city’s outer defensive perimeter, required Canada’s 9th (Highland) Infantry Brigade to capture Buron, Gruchy, and Authie, three villages that the 12th SS had fortified during the month-long pause in the Caen sector. On July 8th, the North Nova Scotia Highlanders waited in the Buron anti-tank ditch for the order to seize Authie, the village where many of their comrades were murdered by the 12th SS on June 7. This time the field and medium artillery regiments targeted every possible enemy position, and when the North Novas left the ditch they followed a lifting barrage into the largely abandoned village. The panzer grenadiers had wi...
The Canadian Forces Artists Program
War Art

The Canadian Forces Artists Program

Over the last 95 years, more than 200 artists have been charged with capturing the military history of our nation. With their brush strokes they recorded Vimy Ridge, the Somme, D-Day, Korea, Bosnia and Afghanistan to mention only a few. They sketched and painted amidst gunfire, explosions and death, and their work still has an immediacy that gets to the emotional root of war and conflict. Four programs have ensured there is a body of work that reflects our military history. The first program was the Canadian War Memorials, which began in the First World War, from 1916 until 1919, followed by the Canadian War Records, instituted from the middle of the Second World War in 1942 and ended in 1945. The Canadian Armed Forces Civilian Artists Program (CAFCAP) went into effect from 1968...

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