Month: May 2020

Knights of the air
Front Lines

Knights of the air

There are few rivals in war who have shared the mutual regard and respect, even camaraderie, as did those who flew fighter planes during the two world wars. Theirs was a singular experience, the scale and intimacy of which were unique in the annals of conflict, even aviation, before or since. The chivalric tradition among flyers began during the First World War. Known as Knights of the Air, they blazed trails in the skies in canvas-and-wood airplanes with rudimentary instrumentation, sans parachutes. They fought mano a mano, skill to skill, sometimes just metres apart. It was, after all, the first war in which aircraft played a wide role—initially for reconnaissance and artillery spotting, then fighting and bombing. As fighter squadrons were established and aerial conflict esca...
Fighting for Fort George
Military Milestones

Fighting for Fort George

At the turn of the 19th century, the British were concerned about a balance of power where British territory met American on the banks of the Niagara River. The British wanted a fort on the west side of the Niagara River, in what today is Niagara-on-the-Lake, to counterbalance Fort Niagara on the east bank and safeguard shipping on the river to Upper Canada. Fort George was completed in 1802; its strategic importance recognized as war clouds gathered. It became headquarters for the British army during the War of 1812. Sir Isaac Brock served there and was initially buried in the fort after he was killed in the Battle of Queenston Heights on Oct. 13, 1812. In early 1813, the fort became a target for the Americans, who wished to establish a toehold from which they could invade Upp...
After  Dunkirk
Military History

After Dunkirk

Following the German conquest of Poland in September 1939, the war against Hitler entered a period of inactivity. The Phoney War, the press called it, while the British and French concentrated their forces along the borders of neutral Belgium and France. In April 1940, the Germans invaded Denmark and Norway, moving with great force and a ruthlessness that caught London and Paris short. Then on May 10, the Phoney War ended when the Germans attacked the Low Countries and, moving through the supposedly impassable Ardennes, sent their armoured panzer divisions rolling at speed into France. The Netherlands surrendered on May 15, the government fleeing to England. The 20 French and eight British divisions on the Belgian border moved east, precisely as the Germans had expected. The German ar...
Inuit bone collectors honoured
News

Inuit bone collectors honoured

Parks Canada paid tribute to the previously untold story of how Inuit from Nunavut communities joined the home front war effort during the Second World War by collecting animal bones that could be used for munitions. Environment and Climate Change Minister Johnathan Wilkinson, the minister responsible for Parks Canada, honoured Qapik Attagutsiak and other Nunavut Inuit as Hometown Heroes in a ceremony on Jan. 27 at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que. Hometown Heroes is a Parks Canada program which commemorates individuals in all walks of life who made contributions to the war effort in both the First World War and the Second World War. So far, more than 140 Canadians have been recognized as Hometown Heroes for their contributions to the war effort across Canada. The...
Afghanistan and the AK-47
Front Lines

Afghanistan and the AK-47

Photographs and story by Stephen J. Thorne   With more than 75 million estimated to be in circulation, the Avtomat Kalashnikova, or AK-47 (for the year Mikhail Kalashnikov completed his work), is the most popular and most copied weapon in the world. Light, simple, reliable and stable, the AK-47 has for decades been the weapon of choice among revolutionaries, insurgents, terrorists and resistance fighters in virtually every corner of the globe. Easy to maintain and easy to use, it is ideal for marginally trained fighters, though its accuracy leaves something to be desired. In Afghanistan, the AK-47 is ubiquitous, and every one has a story. And while journalists don’t carry weapons, they have stories too. Here are mine. In 2002, I had a walled compound of my own in Kandahar, wi...
Jitter and snatch patrols in Korea
Military Milestones

Jitter and snatch patrols in Korea

In the spring of 1952, the Allies in Korea were starving for intelligence on Chinese forces, which went to ground (and underground) between attacks. Two new strategies were employed, one to get enemy soldiers to give away their positions, and the other to capture prisoners for interrogation. The troops labelled them jitter and snatch patrols. “They had fighting patrols, snatch patrols and jitter patrols…you had to take turns,” said John Sadler in a Memory Project interview. The jitter patrol was an innovation of the Royal Canadian Regiment that, for at least a brief time, provided information for artillery and infantry attacks on enemy positions. The first was recorded on the night of May 28. “The use of Jitter patrols by 1 RCR are proving effective,” according to the brigade w...

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