Month: February 2017

Not all Veterans wore uniforms
Memoirs

Not all Veterans wore uniforms

Story by Brian Purdy Son of Gordon Purdy Through the worst years of the Great Depression my father slogged away, first getting a degree in chemistry, then a post-graduate degree. That led to a job in a chemistry lab, then marriage to Mom, and his first child—me. That was his situation in July 1941, a time when German bombers were dropping incendiary bombs on London and setting the city ablaze. Dad was on loan to the Canadian government from Imperial Oil, and worked in the Sarnia lab. He was developing a formula to fireproof the asphalt shingles on London rooftops, so they would not burn even if hit by a thermite bomb. In order to test his compound, Dad had to manufacture the ingredients of a German thermite bomb in the lab. He was stirring the ingredients in a mortar with a pestle w...
Night terrors
Artifacts

Night terrors

In moonless nights, silent as clouds, Zeppelins floated over Britain, the original stealth bombers, raining destruction on military targets and unsuspecting civilians. They flew so high it took planes of the day an hour to climb to their height, and when they got there, their bullets just poked holes in the air bags. Initially, Germany’s First World War airships provoked helpless outrage. Zeppelin crews called themselves Knights of the Air; the British called them baby killers. High-altitude bombing by the German navy’s Zeppelins and the army’s Schütte-Lanz airships was meant not only to damage factories, but to sap the Allies’ will for war. The second goal went unmet, but Zeppelin raids destroyed an estimated one-sixth of British munitions output to 1916. But by the fall of 191...
57 is the new 40
Humour Hunt

57 is the new 40

One night a week, from early April until late October, about 90 great guys from all walks of life sneer at Old Man Time and play ball hockey on an outdoor pad in a quiet Toronto neighbourhood. Tuesday nights, residents in the area can hear the familiar sounds of our games reverberating throughout the park. You know, a slap shot, a referee’s whistle, the chirping between the benches, and the beep, beep, beep of the defibrillator (kidding… so far). And Wednesday mornings my neighbours can hear the familiar sounds of a man in full-on anguish and agony as I engage in tense negotiations with my muscles in the hopes of eventually hauling myself out of bed. It wasn’t always like this. You see, I’m now 57. And before any of you claim that there’s nothing unusual about middle-aged men playi...
Rediscovering his old self
Health

Rediscovering his old self

PORTRAIT OF INSPIRATION Corporal Joel Guindon found out the hard way that psychological suffering cannot be overcome in the same way as physical pain Story and photography by Stephen J. Thorne For Corporal Joel Guindon, it wasn’t Afghanistan itself that posed his greatest challenge, it was coming home. Guindon, a nine-and-a-half-year veteran of the Canadian Army, served close protection for Brigadier-General Jocelyn Lacroix when the then-head of 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group commanded the 3,600-member Kabul Multinational Brigade in 2004. Lacroix would have been a prime target for an enemy keen on making high-profile kills. Guindon was in a high state of alert and readiness the whole six months. Like most soldiers, he got used to it, adapted and didn’t think twic...
Armoured vehicles get upgrade
Front Lines

Armoured vehicles get upgrade

The Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV) III recently pegged for a $404-million upgrade is the backbone of the army–an eight-wheeled, Canadian-built troop carrier and weapons platform that steered the course of modern infantry configuration. Acquiring them in 1999, the federal government has invested $1.5 billion over the past six years to improve its London, Ont.-made fleet of 550 LAV IIIs. The upgrades to their mobility, protection, ergonomics and information management are expected to extend their lives to 2035. Built by General Dynamics Land Systems, the LAV IIIs are a Canadian success story, although the original design is based on a Swedish unit. New Zealand bought 105 of them. The United States adapted them as the core vehicle of their Stryker battalions. Successor to the venerable...
Health

Reclaiming his life

PORTRAIT OF INSPIRATION Canadian ex-paratrooper Dan Matthews still struggles with deep psychological scars Story and photography by Stephen J. Thorne Sergeant Dan Matthews was the only one of six paratroopers to escape without a scrape from an Oct. 2, 2003, mine blast in Afghanistan. Now, almost 14 years later, the psychological wounds inflicted on that terrible day and in the days since still throb. As he cradles and contemplates the Maple Leaf pennant that flew from his Iltis military vehicle, the guilt and the pain are written all over Matthews’ face, despite his heroic attempts to save the occupants of what was left of the lead vehicle in his patrol. Matthews, who had been conducting rear security in the back of the second vehicle and facing away from the blast, cra...

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