Month: April 2020

Operation Manna comes to the Netherlands
Military Milestones

Operation Manna comes to the Netherlands

Since 1940, Dutch citizens had lived frugally under the Nazi jackboot, but after D-Day in 1944, conditions got worse. The Germans flooded farmland, removed livestock and seized barges and trucks. Men were taken as forced labour to Germany. It was difficult to raise and transport food. After September 1944, as the Allies began liberating the Netherlands, people living in enemy-occupied territory started to starve. The Germans, in retribution for a railway strike and the failed Operation Market Garden stopped food transportation for nearly two months, just as winter was arriving. “Always that hunger…and then there was less and less. There remained nothing, not even in the black market,” recalled J. Vrouwenfelder, a resident of the Hague, in Hans Onderwater’s Operation Manna/Chowhound. ...
Under siege, businesses can take lessons from military in crisis
COVID-19, Front Lines

Under siege, businesses can take lessons from military in crisis

Agility is the ability to adjust and adapt to changing circumstances. Militaries rely on agility in times of crisis. Agility is always at the heart of long-term business success too, and businesses are learning this anew in the time of coronavirus. Officer cadets attend military college to learn the fundamentals of leadership and fighting strategy; enlisted ranks train repetitively until the skills to execute are second nature. But the battlefield, like life, is anything but predictable. Success in battle, as in business and other endeavours, depends largely on one’s ability to adapt. You can’t teach agility by itself. It is largely a product of preparedness, resourcefulness and resilience. In this time of illness, death, shutdowns and stay-at-home orders, with a public gripped ...
Convoy Drivers
Military History

Convoy Drivers

The forced marches of Allied prisoners of war early in 1945 was both puzzling and harrowing. Puzzling because the German motives were unclear. Were they simply trying to evacuate PoWs from an active front as the Russians advanced? Were they hoping to use the PoWs as hostages and bargaining chips with the Western Allies, as at least one SS general suggested? The marches were cruel ordeals, conducted during one of the coldest winters on record. Weather, starvation, disease, inadequate clothing and even Allied air attacks claimed about 2,200 British and Commonwealth prisoners (out of 180,000) while an estimated 1,120 American PoWs (of 94,000) also died. Amid such suffering, the courageous story of International Red Cross (IRC) relief convoys provides glimmers of hope and inspiration. The...
Rumours of a viral war
COVID-19, Front Lines

Rumours of a viral war

If the rumours are to be believed, the current pandemic that has locked us all in our homes began in a Chinese laboratory. Or is that an American one? Both stories are out there. The fact is that medical researchers from all over the world who have no stake in global politics—including the World Health Organization— say it’s neither. They say they have traced COVID-19 to a wet market in Wuhan and it likely came from a bat. It’s as simple as that. Nevertheless, the rumours and the actual source of the virus has been exploited by racists, nativists and xenophobes intent on driving a wedge between ethnic groups. “Such rumours may have even jeopardized the working relationship between Western scientists and their Chinese counterparts searching for a COVID-19 vaccine,” wrote sociolog...
HMCS <em>Matane</em> meets a U-boat
Military Milestones

HMCS Matane meets a U-boat

It was not a nice day at sea on April 22, 1944, when Escort Group 9, patrolling near Iceland, picked up an echo on their ASDIC sonar equipment. “It was a cracking echo and very soon it became obvious that this really was a U-boat,” wrote Royal Navy Commander A.F.C. Layard, aboard HMCS Matane, the senior officer’s ship, leading HMC ships Swansea and Stormont. “I went slow, meaning to take my time, but the range closed very rapidly…. Suddenly ahead appeared the swirl of the thing, which must have been very shallow. I was still worried lest I was going to get so close as to lose contact before ready to attack.” The periscope was reported off the bow. “I then got thoroughly rattled and, in case he should fire a torpedo or GNAT [acoustic torpedo], I reckoned I must go for him…. I dropped ...
Pedal Power
Army, Military History

Pedal Power

Twenty-eight young men stood at attention while posing for a portrait on the steps of the British Columbia Parliament Buildings in Victoria on Dec. 7, 1915. They were about to leave to start their training—not for the cavalry, as might be expected by the presence of their commander, Lieutenant George Edward Sellers, a 32-year-old former Vancouver realtor with militia experience in the 1st Regiment, British Columbia Horse. No, they were to be a different sort of mounted troops, part of a force that would play an important role in the success of the Hundred Days Offensive, taking on some of the most dangerous work ahead of the front lines at the end of the First World War. They were to join the Canadian Corps Cyclist Battalion. The bicycle boom of the late 1800s was not lost on militar...

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