Month: November 2020

On this date: December 2020
On This Date

On this date: December 2020

1 December 1959 Twelve countries sign the Antarctic Treaty, declaring the continent a scientific preserve and banning military activity. 2 December 1942 The first controlled self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction is triggered at the University of Chicago, ushering in the atomic age. 3 December 1943 The 1st Special Service Force, the U.S.-Canadian commando unit known as The Devil’s Brigade, attacks Monte la Difensa, Italy, in an attempt to clear German positions. 4-6 December 1950 HMC ships Cayuga, Athabaskan and Sioux support the evacuation of the port of Nampo near Pyongyang, North Korea (see page TK). 5 December 1942 The Toronto RCAF Hurricanes defeat the Winnipeg RCAF Bombers 8-5 in the first non-civilian Grey Cup at Varsity Stadium in Toronto. 6 December 1989 Fou...
Estate auction chronicles the colourful life of war correspondent Bill Boss
Front Lines

Estate auction chronicles the colourful life of war correspondent Bill Boss

Bill Boss was the epitome of foreign correspondents. Pierre Berton called him one of the toughest war correspondents he ever knew, a trusted and familiar newsman who “ate censors for breakfast.” Recently, an Ontario firm auctioned off the estate of Gerard William Ramaut (Bill) Boss, 13 years after he died of pneumonia in an Ottawa hospital, age 90. The collection of art, books, photographs, newspaper tearsheets, letters, telegrams, mementoes and press credentials showed the man known affectionately by his wire-service initials “bb” to generations of Canadian Press reporters and editors for what he was—a Renaissance man of the highest order. He was an eclectic, highly cultured, much-travelled and multi-talented writer and raconteur. Born May 3, 1917, in Kingston, Ont., Bill Boss...
The disappearance of  <em>HMCS Shawinigan</em>
Military Milestones

The disappearance of HMCS Shawinigan

After the ferry SS Caribou was sunk by a U-boat in October 1942 with a loss of 137, including many women and children, the navy provided escorts to ensure the safety of passengers. Near the end of the war, HMCS Shawinigan was in Cabot Strait off Newfoundland. The corvette was not new to escort duty. Commissioned in late 1941, Shawinigan spent two years escorting convoys back and forth across the Atlantic. In 1944, it began escort duty in home waters, seeing East Coast ferries safely to and from port and patrolling for submarines. U-boats had been a danger in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence since 1942. “The Royal Canadian Navy established a routine of patrolling the Maritime coasts, but could not prevent the loss of 15 merchant and naval vessels,” wrote Gordon Laco in The Search for the HM...
Gunners on ice
Military History

Gunners on ice

As the war on the Western Front ended, the Allies took on the Red Army on its own turf It was all Winston Churchill’s fault. In 1918, he was Minister of Munitions in Prime Minister Lloyd George’s Liberal government. In 1919, he became Secretary of State for War. During this period, he was determined to smash the Marxist Bolshevik government in Russia. He pressed for Allied troops to be used to support the “Whites” (anti-communist forces) against Vladimir Lenin’s Red Army, which was directed by the energetic, innovative Leon Trotsky. British troops had first been sent to northern Russia in March 1918 to help keep the country in the war and to safeguard Allied supplies stockpiled at Archangel and Murmansk. German troops in Finland, some feared, might seize them after the Bolshe...
Fighting Words
Humour Hunt

Fighting Words

The First World War has been over for more than a century, but it still echoes today, even in the language. The thousands of Canadian soldiers who went overseas in 1914-18 brought home words and phrases we still use. Soldiers in the trenches were plagued by lice, which were known as “chats.” The men would gather in quiet times to pick the lice out of their garments and pass the time of day with their buddies. They called it “chatting” and we still chat today, although without the pesky insects. The concept of three on a match being bad luck also came from the trenches. Soldiers believed that the lit match applied to one cigarette might draw the eye of a sniper. The second light would give him a chance to zero in and the third light, Bang! Very bad luck. The word strafe—to machine-gun...
Interactive maps now telling Canada’s military history
News

Interactive maps now telling Canada’s military history

Canadians interested in military history will soon have a new—and free—interactive tool for researching the Canadian Army’s Italian Campaign during the Second World War. Several years ago, the Canadian Research and Mapping Association (CRMA) set out to create an interactive website—www.project44.ca—to collect digitally preserved maps, aerial imagery, photographs and war diaries tracing the progress of the Canadian Army during D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. “We wanted people to be able to visualize what was happening,” said Drew Hannen, vice president of the association. “The platform is great to give context to what happened and where it happened.” The website’s first project was “The Road to Liberation,” which was launched on the 75th anniversary of D-Day in 2019. Click on the...

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