Month: July 2020

Military Moments | Canadians in the Battle of Britain
Multi-media Features, News

Military Moments | Canadians in the Battle of Britain

 This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, which took place from July to October 1940. Our new Military Moment and the next issue of Canada’s Ultimate Story explore the Canadians who took part in the furious air defence of Britain against the German Luftwaffe. As Winston Churchill later proclaimed "Never, in the field of human conflict, was so much owed by so many to so few." Narrated by Canvet Publications’ Stephen J. Thorne, this Military Moment takes us back to July 10, 1940, when the Luftwaffe struck hard at Great Britain, attempting to soften the country for a land invasion. The Battle of Britain started with Luftwaffe raids on shipping in the English Channel, then on airfields and radar bases. In early September, the attacks shifted again, to London, Coven...
Gassed up: The juice that fuelled victory in the Battle of Britain
Front Lines

Gassed up: The juice that fuelled victory in the Battle of Britain

Months before it entered the Second World War in December 1941, the United States invested heavily in the Allied cause by instituting the US$50.1-billion Lend-Lease policy, providing food and war materiel to Britain and other friendly nations. Worth nearly US$600 billion in today’s currency, the measures under what was formally known as An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States lasted the rest of the war and helped turn the tide of battle both in Europe and the Pacific. But for all the warships, tanks, jeeps and other arms and equipment it provided, it was a little-known aviation fuel—top-secret at the time—that played a critical role in delivering the war’s first victory over Hitler and his forces’ relentless advance. There is no disputing the commitment and courage of C...
Treachery on Anticosti Island
Military Milestones

Treachery on Anticosti Island

The submarine attacks in the Gulf of St. Lawrence during the Second World War were the stuff of nightmares. How much worse would it have been if Germany had established a toehold off the coast of Quebec? That may be just what they tried to do in 1937 in an attempt to buy Anticosti Island, a stretch of real estate 200 kilometres long and 50 wide, situated in the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River about 70 kilometres north of the Gaspé Peninsula. The island, which had been privately owned since 1680, was sold in the mid-1920s to a pulp and paper company. During the Great Depression, the Consolidated Paper Corporation put the island up for sale. In 1937, an option to purchase the land was obtained by Alois Miedl, an art dealer and banker who moved to Amsterdam from Germany in 1932...
The fighting after Hill 70
Military History, Military Milestones

The fighting after Hill 70

The Battle for Hill 70 was an important victory for the Canadian Corps in August 1917, though it did not achieve its ultimate objective. The Canadians had been ordered to capture the German stronghold at Lens, a French coal-mining centre. But first, Hill 70 had to be taken. Taking the high ground, noted Brigadier-General Percy Radcliffe, would make “the enemy’s position in [Lens] untenable, and [force] him to evacuate it.” It also would take out guns that would otherwise target Canadians from above as they attacked the city. The battle was originally planned to begin July 30, following a 15-day pre-battle bombardment meant to destroy German trenches and cut through protective barbed wire. But things did not go as originally planned. By July 16, the Canadians were encampe...
Remembering the chaos of liberated Europe
Defence Today, Front Lines

Remembering the chaos of liberated Europe

Pierre Gauthier landed on D-Day with his Régiment de la Chaudière and fought through France, Belgium and into the Netherlands before a second wound ended his war. His regiment lost 58 men killed on June 6, 1944, and 248 before the fighting ended 11 months later, but among the most unsettling images that remain burned in the veteran’s mind are those of the people they had liberated turning on each other and on those who had defeated them four or five years earlier. In an interview with Legion Magazine, Gauthier, a Montreal native who enlisted in 1942 at age 17, recalled how criminals posing as French partisans moved in and terrorized liberated towns after the Canadians had left. He described how retribution killings were taken on surrendering occupiers, and how, contr...
O CANADA: Overweight span
O Canada

O CANADA: Overweight span

Overweight span When they started building the Pont de Québec spanning the Saint Lawrence River in 1905, there was a sense of pride. Designed mainly for rail traffic, it was going to be the biggest cantilever bridge in the world, longer than the Forth Bridge in Scotland. But on Aug. 29, 1907, a riveter noticed that a rivet he’d put in only an hour earlier had broken in half. Minutes later the structure twisted and collapsed with such force that people in Quebec City, 10 kilometres away, thought it was an earthquake. The engineering challenges of the Quebec Bridge had been daunting. It spanned a shipping lane, so it had to have a 45-metre clearance for ocean-going ships. It was 850 metres long, but needed a single 550-metre span in the centre. Key to its structural integrity was the ...

Sign up today for a FREE download of Canada’s War Stories

Free e-book

An informative primer on Canada’s crucial role in the Normandy landing, June 6, 1944.