Month: February 2019

The medic’s trauma book
Front Lines

The medic’s trauma book

“They cannot knock on your house door, take you by the hand and bring you to the clinic. If you don’t ask for help, nobody will come.” Story and photography by Stephen J. Thorne As a member of 5 Field Ambulance in Afghanistan, medic Macha Khoudja-Poirier treated so many patients with such a variety of ills and injures, she didn’t know what more she could see to fill out her “trauma book.” Better known in English as a casualty book, the journal is a log of the cases a medic handles, like the “life list” birders keep of the birds they see or the logbook a pilot maintains of the planes they fly and the hours spent airborne. Khoudja-Poirier’s book covered the gamut. There were skin infections, dust-filled eyes and twisted ankles; camel spider bites, head injuries, br...
Canadians start the first trench raids
Military Milestones

Canadians start the first trench raids

In the dead of night on Feb. 28, 1915, 100 men of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry sneaked out of their trenches near Ypres, Belgium, crossed no man’s land and destroyed 30 yards of German trenches. It was the first trench raid of the First World War. The raids became more and more frequent, evolving into a standard technique used by both sides in the stalemate of trench warfare. Raiders damaged enemy trenches, gained information on enemy fortifications and captured prisoners for interrogation. Commanders saw them as a useful tool to gather intelligence prior to a major battle and to hone troops’ battle skills and keep them at the top of their game. It was also another means to wear down the enemy. The men had quite a different opinion, as there were often heavy ...
McCrae’s city remembers
News

McCrae’s city remembers

Remembrance Day in Guelph, Ont., was marked by three distinct ceremonies It was a sunny, crisp morning with a fresh sprinkling of snow as the crowd gathered outside a little house along the Speed River in Guelph, Ont. Here at 9 a.m., a small service marked the start of Remembrance Day. “I want to thank you for coming out on this very special of Remembrance Day ceremonies, when we mark 100 years since the guns went silent at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month,” said Reverend Mike Dell to the audience of about 100. The service was not at the city’s cenotaph but at a small memorial built to remember soldier, doctor and poet Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, who was born in the house in 1872. Now called McCrae House, its ground level hosts a museum dedicated to Guelph’s...
Fiasco in Siberia
Army

Fiasco in Siberia

It was all Sir Robert Borden’s doing. The prime minister was in England in July 1918 attending the Prime Ministers’ Committee when the British government asked if Canada might supply troops for a Siberian force that could help prevent a 60,000-strong force of Czech fighters, anxious to support the Allies, from being annihilated by German and Austrian PoWs freed by Vladimir Lenin’s communist Bolsheviks. The Allies also saw it as a way to reconstitute an eastern front against Germany.     Borden had been pushing for at least three years for more say in the direction of the Great War and more autonomy for Canada. Now Britain was asking Canada to lead the British Empire’s contribution to an international force in Siberia. Having played a major role in making policy that sought to restore...
Laughing at life in the military
Humour Hunt

Laughing at life in the military

–Illustration by Malcolm Jones– Military humour, much like military everything, is an acquired taste. As with all comedy, it depends on the audience. A great comedian once said something like, “Tragedy is me slipping on a banana peel. Comedy is you slipping on a banana peel.” Most military jokes would make unlikely material for the local comedy club. A lot of them are the sort of “you had to be there” jokes that do not always translate. Military humour, though, is as old as soldiers. It surely had an already long history back when Centurion Marcus got a chuckle by sending recruit Publius off on a wild goose chase to find a left-handed javelin. In Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson’s navy, his officers were aware that promotion likely depended on a higher than usual casualty rate among thei...
Mural added to Regina Branch
News

Mural added to Regina Branch

A new mural at Regina Branch honours the Second Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, tracing its history from the First World War to modern day, explains Ron Hitchcock, curator of the branch’s expansive military museum. The mural, by artist Mary-Ann Dubé, adds to the visual distinction of the branch, which boasts five stained-glass windows in the Memorial Tower, eight large murals by Kenneth Lochhead, the museum, branch offices, a lounge and a new café. The building was sold due to a financial crunch rooted in falling membership (“Regina Branch reopens with a new attitude,” September/October). It was partially demolished to make way for a parking garage at the back. However, the front third of the building was maintained and renovated. The branch now rents the space f...

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