Military History

Surrender at Calais
Military History, Military Milestones

Surrender at Calais

After D-Day, the First Canadian Army began the job of clearing the French coast along the English Channel. It was a hard slog. The beaches were crowded with obstacles and mines. The shore bristled with barbed wire and the whole coastline was studded with concrete bunkers and machine-gun nests. Towns and cities were fortified and equipped with heavy guns. It was known as the Atlantic Wall. The Germans had installed 42 heavy guns around Calais that constantly threatened Allied ships and five batteries capable of firing across the Channel to the Port of Dover. The Germans had flooded the land, and “prepared for a siege in order to deny the Allies the use of these valuable prizes as long as possible,” wrote Major W.H.V. Matthews, commanding officer of the Canadian Scottish Regiment. ...
Should Canada boost its military presence in the Arctic?
Face to Face, Military History

Should Canada boost its military presence in the Arctic?

Ernie Regehr says NO Today’s Arctic is increasingly accessible, Russia is its most prominent military presence, and pundits are forecasting intensified big power rivalry. The question of boosting Canada’s Arctic military operations is prudent. But context matters.   Ongoing imperatives—such as sovereignty protection, securing borders and public safety—need continuing upgrades. The region’s Indigenous communities add the urgency of addressing cultural, environmental, economic and food insecurities. Indeed, they make it clear that for their concerns to be heard, Indigenous peoples must be at the table where Arctic security priorities are set and decisions made. From sovereignty to food security, primary Arctic security responsibilities rest with civilian authorities. They require substa...
Prisoners of Hong Kong
Military History, Military Milestones

Prisoners of Hong Kong

George MacDonell, of Stratford, Ont., was following in his parents’ footsteps when he enlisted in the Second World War. He was the only son of an army major and nursing sister who met while serving overseas and married after the First World War. He joined the doomed Royal Rifles of Canada which fought alongside the Winnipeg Grenadiers when the Japanese invaded Hong Kong in December 1941. Two hundred and ninety Canadians were killed and 493 wounded in three weeks of fierce fighting. “The most vital war effort of the Japanese, destroyed by young Canadians.” MacDonell was among the nearly 1,200 captured. He spent close to four years in brutal Japanese prisoner of war camps, first in Hong Kong, then in Japan, where prisoners were forced to work in atrocious conditions. Hong Kong prison...
Poignant remnants
Artifacts, Military History

Poignant remnants

Several steel pieces from the World Trade Center have come to rest in Canada The centrepiece of a ceremony in Gander, N.L., marking the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, will be a piece of steel recovered from the wreckage. The piece of beam was donated in 2011 by the fire department of Bethpage, N.Y., in gratitude to residents of Gander and surrounding small communities for the support shown to more than 6,500 passengers and crew of four military and 38 passenger flights diverted from U.S. airports on the day of the attack. Newfoundlanders opened their hearts and homes to people stranded for days.  The beam remnant, on display inside Gander Town Hall since the 10th anniversary of 9/11, has been incorporated into the ...
<em>Kosmos-1383</em>
Military History, Military Milestones

Kosmos-1383

The mountainous terrain of British Columbia has been described as a graveyard of small planes. Many light aircraft downed by equipment failure, turbulence or unexpected foul weather have disappeared, crashing among the peaks and dense forests of the mountainsides and valleys. Some have never been found. On July 19, 1982, a small craft piloted by Jim Heemskerk disappeared on a flight from Dawson Creek to Dease Lake in northeastern British Columbia. After seven fruitless weeks and nearly 1,800 flying hours costing about $2 million, the Department of National Defence called off the search. The plane stalled and crashed in a heavily wooded area. But George Heemskerk, the father of the missing pilot, did not give up. On Sept. 9, he and a friend went searching aboard a Cessna 172 with...
Operation Apollo
Army, Military History

Operation Apollo

The 9/11 attack triggered an international response, and Canada was quick to join the fight Many Canadians learned their soldiers were fighting a war in Afghanistan when an Associated Press photograph appeared in newspapers across the country showing masked members of Canada’s elite special forces unit hustling three detainees off the back of an American MH-53J helicopter.   It was Jan. 21, 2002, and some 40 highly trained commandos of Joint Task Force 2 (JTF 2) had been operating in-country since at least Dec. 5. Even the prime minister, said some reports, wasn’t informed of their deployment until sometime after the fact. Still, the preponderance of Canadians didn’t seem surprised. Those who were paying attention would have known by late December that something was afoot, but most ap...

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