NEW! Canadian Military History Trivia Challenge

Month: November 2021

A tenacious wildflower
Canada Corner, Home Front

A tenacious wildflower

Each year, The Royal Canadian Legion distributes about 20 million poppy lapel pins across Canada. The poppies are given freely, with people encouraged to donate to the poppy fund in support of veterans in need. But this November, many Legionnaires will be wearing a different type of poppy pin—one that resembles one of the first poppies worn in remembrance 100 years ago. The poppy campaign in Canada has its roots in the First World War. The inspiration for the campaign was the poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae, a doctor serving with the Canadian artillery in Belgium in 1915. During the Second Battle of Ypres from April 22 to May 25, 1915, McCrae’s friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer was killed by an artillery shell. McCrae conducted an impromptu funeral for his friend, reciting as mu...
First into battle
Canada Corner

First into battle

Japan’s attack on Hong Kong was the first fight of the war for Canadian soldiers. It didn’t end well. “It was a grand day…. Our two battalions marched down Nathan Road steel-helmeted and obviously invincible. The main street of Kowloon was lined by cheering crowds waving small Union Jacks.” Eighteen-year-old Rifleman Ken Cambon was excited by the joyous reception the Canadian contingent received in Hong Kong on Nov. 16, 1941. Describing his barracks, he noted, “We were astounded by the luxury of the camp after eighteen months of Canadian Army life.” Even “lowly” privates had orderlies who delivered tea in bed each morning, shined shoes, pressed uniforms, made beds and even offered shaves. Less than six weeks later, the genteel luxury was literally blown away.   What were Canadi...
Some came home
Our Veterans, Remembrance

Some came home

Fewer than 100 Canadians who died while serving in the world wars were repatriated for burial Until the horrific explosion and fire in HMCS Kootenay which caused nine sailors’ deaths in 1969, Canada’s policy was that all service personnel who died abroad were to be buried overseas. Despite this policy, though, the remains of several Canadian fatalities of the world wars were returned to Canada for burial.    Most Canadian personnel who went overseas during the wars served in Britain at one time or another. Although British officials disapproved of the return of remains from Britain and tried to stop it, Canadian authorities were less inclined to discourage attempts and occasionally bent the rules. Repatriation from elsewhere was strictly forbidden. The Commonwealth War Graves Commissi...
Fujita’s blade
Artifacts, Military History

Fujita’s blade

When a Japanese vice-admiral surrendered in 1945, he also handed over his tachi Canadian Navy Lieutenant William Lore was aboard when the British fleet sailed into Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong in August 1945. In recognition of Canadian sacrifices in the Battle of Hong Kong, Lore was chosen to lead the party that liberated the Sham Shui Po prison-of-war camp. In September, he witnessed Vice-Admiral Ruitaro Fujita sign the instrument of surrender. He also saw Fujita surrender his sword to British Rear-Admiral Cecil Harcourt. For the Japanese officer, surrendering his military sword was a national and private humiliation. A military sword in Japan was not just a weapon but had spiritual meaning and was a link to centuries-old traditions.   In Japan, fine swordsmithing stretches...
A multinational warship crew of the 16th century
Defence Today, Front Lines

A multinational warship crew of the 16th century

The crew of the Tudor warship Mary Rose was a diverse bunch, hailing from as far away as continental Europe, the Mediterranean and Africa, says new research that reinforces Britain’s long history as a society of multiple races and ethnicities. In 2021, scientists published the results of isotope analysis of the teeth in eight of 179 crew whose remarkably well-preserved remains were recovered along with 19,000 artifacts and much of the ship, which was sunk on July 19, 1545, during the Battle of the Solent off England’s south coast. Isotopes helped construct what one expert described as “unparalleled” biographies suggesting several of the tested subjects were raised on African, Mediterranean or other diets differing from the relatively limited fare on which most Britons relied at the t...
The first peacekeepers
Military History, Military Milestones

The first peacekeepers

In mid-November 1956, 950 men of the 1st Battalion, Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, were flown to Halifax, where HMCS Magnificent was being prepared to carry troops and materiel to Egypt for one of the first United Nations peacekeeping missions, to quell the crisis at the Suez Canal. The troops were excited and anxious to go; on Nov. 17, there was a parade through Halifax in anticipation of the order to leave. On Dec. 13, the downhearted men were not aboard the Canadian aircraft carrier headed to Egypt, but on a passenger train, headed back to Calgary, victims of brinkmanship diplomacy.   The canal started out as a France-Egypt partnership in the 19th century, but Egypt, beset by financial difficulties, would eventually sell its share to Britain. The canal became, and still is, a...

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