Month: October 2020

Face to Face | Was All Quiet on  the Western Front (1930) the most important war film ever made?
Face to Face

Face to Face | Was All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) the most important war film ever made?

All Quiet on the Western Front is an Academy Award-winning 1930 film based on the classic anti-war novel by a German veteran of the First World War, Erich Maria Remarque. Coming 12 years after the First World War ended and with Nazism on the rise in Germany, the film may have had a more profound impact than any war movie ever. Ignoring the evolution of technology and the old-style theatrics, by that measure alone—its impact—it can be viably argued that All Quiet is the greatest war film ever made. Directed by Lewis Milestone and starring Lew Ayres and Louis Wolheim, it follows a class of German students inspired by their teacher to sign up and go off to war. It is a relentless, unforgiving chronicle of misery and death—for its time a detailed and groundbreaking slice of life at th...
A different day
Editorial

A different day

Remembrance Day looks different this year, but it is no less meaningful. Pandemic restrictions have had an enormous impact on The Royal Canadian Legion nationwide. Since closing their doors in March, branch social activities—darts, trivia nights, award presentations, wedding receptions—have stopped. By September, however, some tentative and firmly restricted branch reopenings were underway. The halls may have been empty but the Legion’s core work of supporting veterans, their families and communities continued. In many cases, inspiring COVID-19 workarounds were found so as to keep up the good works. Two of the most visible, important and symbolic Legion activities—nationally and locally—are the poppy campaign and Remembrance Day ceremonies. Both are different this time. Just how diffe...
Military Moments | Passchendaele
Multi-media Features, News

Military Moments | Passchendaele

 Passchendaele slithers off the tongue like some reptilian creature’s name. The word for the 1917 battles east of Ypres, Belgium, represents a legacy of loss and repulsion. The forlorn and shell-eviscerated combat zone in Flanders was embattled throughout much of the war, and was a particularly vicious cockpit for the Canadians. Narrated by Canvet Publications’ Stephen J. Thorne, this Military Moment takes us back to the fall of 1917, three years into the First World War, the front was a ruined and shattered battlefield of endless craters and mud that trapped both the living and the dead. The Canadian Corps was thrust into this menacing warscape to help Britain, France and Belgium achieve a long-sought goal to destroy the enemy’s will to fight. That did not happen, but the battle of...
Stuff of legend: ingredients that make the Victoria Cross
Canada & the Victoria Cross, Front Lines

Stuff of legend: ingredients that make the Victoria Cross

Everyone knows what a Victoria Cross recipient is made of. But what about the Victoria Cross itself? Instituted by Queen Victoria at the end of the Crimean War, it has long been believed that the British Empire’s highest award for valour was originally made from bronze taken from Russian cannons captured at Sevastopol in 1855. Now a British researcher and retired lieutenant-colonel has concluded that it is “highly implausible” the medals, awarded for exceptional gallantry in the presence of the enemy, ever came from Russian guns. Andrew Marriott served 30 years in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and is now a visiting researcher at Newcastle University in England. He said the origin story likely grew out of a highly suspect newspaper report of the day bolstered by a letter to the L...
A gruelling rescue effort
Military Milestones

A gruelling rescue effort

On Oct. 30, 1991, the Canadian Forces transport aircraft CC-130H Hercules 322 left Greenland on a routine airlift of supplies to the isolated Canadian Forces Station Alert, an electronic listening post on the northeastern tip of Ellesmere Island in Canada’s High Arctic. Everything—personnel, food, supplies, fuel—had to be airlifted into the station, situated 817 kilometres from the North Pole, far north of any settlement. Flight Boxtop 22 was scheduled to arrive at the Alert airfield in the dark at 4:30 p.m. On board were a crew of five, 13 passengers and 3,400 litres of diesel fuel. When the airport lights came into view, Captain John Couch started his descent for the runway. He was less than 10 minutes from the airfield when he radioed that the aircraft was in trouble. The ai...
Disaster aboard HMCS <em>Kootenay</em>
Front Lines

Disaster aboard HMCS Kootenay

The worst peacetime disaster in Canadian naval history occurred 51 years ago this week when nine crew were killed and another 53 injured in an explosion and fire aboard HMCS Kootenay. The engine-room accident on Oct. 23, 1969, marked the last time Canadian service personnel were required to be buried overseas and it helped bring about sweeping changes to shipboard fire-prevention and firefighting systems. The Restigouche-class destroyer was part of a task group that included the aircraft carrier HMCS Bonaventure and eight destroyer escorts sailing in European waters. The group was homeward bound, crossing the English Channel, when Kootenay and HMCS Saguenay broke off to conduct sea trials 320 kilometres off Plymouth, England. Kootenay was running at maximum speed shortly after 8:1...

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