Month: March 2018

Fallen rider
Artifacts

Fallen rider

For nearly 70 years, Private John Willoughby lay where he fell on March 30, 1918, in Moreuil Wood near Amiens, France, a victim of machine-gun fire or sabre or bayonet. Or maybe all three. Lieutenant Gordon Flowerdew led 75 Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) in one of the last great cavalry charges in history (see page 20) against heavily armed and entrenched German infantry; 53, including Willoughby and Flowerdew, were killed or wounded. For Willoughby’s family, it was as though he had vanished from the face of the Earth. In Canada a few years later, a nephew, and decades later, a great-nephew, were named after the lost cavalryman. The family had no idea where he had fought, where he had died. Where his body lay. In 1986, farmer Jean-Paul Brunel noticed a boot on the gro...
Climb aboard a water-borne improvised explosive device
Front Lines

Climb aboard a water-borne improvised explosive device

Rebels in Yemen are wielding a new naval weapon on the Red Sea, but it took some time after it was first used for authorities to realize what they were dealing with. An explosives-laden boat belonging to Yemen’s Ansar Allah, or Houthi, forces collided with a Saudi frigate 50 kilometres off the Yemeni coast on Jan. 30, 2017, killing two sailors and wounding three others. The ship’s onboard helicopter was destroyed and the ship’s stern section damaged, but it managed to limp back to port. The incident, coming as Saudi-led forces moved to suppress Houthi rebels fighting Yemen’s Saudi-backed government, was first identified as a suicide attack, then claimed to be a missile attack. It was weeks later that the U.S. Navy confirmed the weapon was, in fact, a crewless drone. But they provi...
Charge of the cavalry
Army, Uncategorized

Charge of the cavalry

For thousands of years, men on horseback were an essential part of warfare. Mounted soldiers—cavalry—were scouts, reserves or attack forces, used when speed, shock action or long distances were involved. The cavalry was a proven and necessary component of most armies.    The face of warfare changed dramatically early in the First World War, as machine guns, barbed wire, trenches, minefields and artillery barrages led to huge increases in casualties and severely restricted mobility, a key advantage of cavalry. The cavalry generals, however, were not yet ready to concede that the day of the horse was over and give up their beloved mounts. As a result, long after the war started in 1914, all the belligerents maintained cavalry. For much of the war, most mounted units were held in reserve...
Cumming’s castle
Remembrance

Cumming’s castle

If you can navigate the aisles of tactical gear, negotiate the crates, cartons and overstocked shelves of surplus military goods, and traverse the cluttered stairs to a hole-in-the-wall office buried in the deepest corner of Crown Surplus, you just may be lucky enough to discover the real treasure of 11th Street SE in Calgary. For more than 60 years, Gordon Cumming has been on a grand hunt for hidden gems from past conflicts. While he has handed day-to-day operations over to his son John, the 87-year-old still shows up to work almost every day. He can usually be found seated behind his typewriter-laden desk, a tin box filled with a lifetime of contacts within arm’s reach and an old calico cat napping right on the border of his workspace, if not breaching it. There’s a security monitor,...
Planning for change |  2017: The year in review
News

Planning for change | 2017: The year in review

From supporting the Invictus Games to advocating for research into a controversial drug prescribed to soldiers, 2017 at The Royal Canadian Legion Dominion Command was full of activity. As the country’s largest veterans’ support organization, the Legion promoted remembrance, provided programs to help veterans receive needed support, and performed good works in communities across Canada. Change was the operative word for Dominion Command. The formal registration of The Legion National Foundation as a charitable organization was a 2017 milestone. It paved the way for a new mechanism to funnel generous donations into more initiatives to help our veterans. A public announcement is planned for this spring. Also in 2017, a newly formed Going Forward Committee was tasked with charting the futur...
Treating moral injuries
Health

Treating moral injuries

A 19-year-old Canadian soldier serving in a village halfway around the world is in a unit tasked with securing an area and protecting civilians within in an effort to build civilian support and goodwill.    Suddenly a pregnant, robed woman, gesturing wildly, races toward him shouting words he cannot understand. Is she in need of help…or is that bump a bomb, not a baby? What should he do? He has mere seconds to decide. Perhaps she is an innocent civilian. But if she is a suicide bomber and he does nothing, soldiers and civilians will die. If he shoots or injures her and she was genuinely in need of help, the community will turn against the military. No matter what he decides, he may sustain a moral injury and be haunted by guilt and shame. Military personnel at all levels are confronte...

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