Month: February 2021

New study discounts depleted uranium’s role in Gulf War illness
Defence Today, Front Lines

New study discounts depleted uranium’s role in Gulf War illness

A new scientific study claims sarin gas is a likely cause of Gulf War illness, not debris from depleted uranium munitions. The University of Portsmouth School of Earth and Environmental Sciences says it has proven that depleted uranium did not cause the acute and chronic symptoms plaguing more than 250,000 Allied service personnel. “The plausibility of the link between depleted uranium and the illness has bubbled along now for nearly 30 years, but we would argue it’s time to look elsewhere,” said Randall Parrish, a professor of isotope geology at the school in the south of England. He pointed to the widespread destruction of Iraqi weapons caches by Allied troops and the likely presence of sarin gas, a nerve agent, as the prime suspect. The Gulf War was the first conflict in...
One of the original 62 officers of the Royal Canadian Air Force
Military History, Military Milestones

One of the original 62 officers of the Royal Canadian Air Force

Wounded in the leg during his service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1917, Sergeant Arthur Lawrence Morfee transferred to the Royal Flying Corps. He trained as an observer, took an aerial photography course and advanced from cadet to second lieutenant before his Royal Air Force service ended in February 1919. That photography course was to ensure him a long and productive aviation career, starting with mapping Canada. Morfee joined the fledgling Canadian Air Force as a pilot officer in 1921 and was among the original 62 officers of the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1924. Mount Morfee, Morfee Lake and Morfee Creek bear his name. His career nearly ended a year later, as reported in a Canadian Press dispatch on Feb. 24, 1925. Flight Lieutenant J.L.M. White and Flying Officer R...
Boarding parties in the Persian Gulf
Defence Today, Front Lines

Boarding parties in the Persian Gulf

Canadian sailors had limited to no experience in boarding potentially hostile ships at sea when they embarked on their mission to the Persian Gulf in August 1990. Yet this was to be one of their primary roles. Their British and American allies had marines and others specially armed for and trained in hailing foreign vessels and boarding them. Canadian sailors did the bulk of their training as they crossed the Atlantic from Halifax. They were understandably concerned as the three ships pulled into port at Manama, Bahrain’s capital city, before assuming their seaborne duties. During the stopover, headquarters staff assured them they had nothing to worry about. “The Brits and the Americans are saying ‘don’t worry about it, we rarely do boardings; we never do a boarding in rough seas;...
Operation Moshtarak
Military History, Military Milestones

Operation Moshtarak

In mid-February 2010, Canadian troops and helicopters were involved in launching the largest NATO attack to that date on the Taliban. It was called Operation Moshtarak, which means ‘together’ in the Dari language. More than 15,000 coalition soldiers and 50 helicopters converged on the small city of Marjah and surrounding farmland, a hub for the Taliban and the opium poppy production that supports them. The idea was to oust the Taliban and drug lords, win over the local population, reintegrate local government and persuade farmers to replace poppies with farm crops and give them the stability to do so. “This is the ultimate kind of goal for us,” helicopter wing commander Col. Jeff Smyth said in an interview with CTV. The air attack was the biggest mission for the Canadian Armed For...
Homesick, seasick and lovesick
Military History, Military Milestones

Homesick, seasick and lovesick

The ocean liner SS Mauritania docked at Pier 21 in Halifax on Feb. 10, 1946, filled with women described in the media as homesick, seasick and lovesick. War brides. There were brides from every country where Canadians were deployed. The vessel was the first of the bride ships, which by 1947 had carried more than 44,000 women and about 21,000 children to new lives in Canada. During the war, brides could accompany husbands returning to Canada, but at the end of the war, all ships were needed to transport troops home, so the brides had to follow later. The women were mostly British, but there were brides from every country where Canadians were deployed, including the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy and even Germany. The Canadian Wives’ Bureau in London helped brides make...
New details emerge in the case for the first Canadian Victoria Cross
Defence Today, Front Lines

New details emerge in the case for the first Canadian Victoria Cross

Private Jess Randall Larochelle of the Royal Canadian Regiment was in an observation post when it was destroyed by a rocket-propelled grenade during an enemy attack on the position in Pashmul, Afghanistan. It was Oct. 14, 2006. Manning a C6 machine gun—known as “the bullet magnet” because the enemy always looks to disable it first—Larochelle was knocked unconscious by the blast. Two members of his section were killed and three others wounded. Some time later, Larochelle came to and quickly realized his unit’s position was about to be overrun. He didn’t know it yet, but his back was broken. Bloodied and battered, his ears ringing from the concussive blast, his years of training took over. Larochelle crawled back to the machine gun to defend his position, only to find the weapon...

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