Military History

Canadian summer in Apeldoorn
Military History, Military Milestones

Canadian summer in Apeldoorn

In five weeks of bloody battles to boot the Germans out of the Scheldt Estuary in October and November of 1944, the Allies suffered about 13,000 casualties, including about 6,300 Canadians. And the fighting was expected to be just as stiff to liberate the rest of the Netherlands. The Germans had occupied the Netherlands for five years, and were well fortified and truly dug in. In April 1945, the 1st Canadian Army began clearing the enemy from northern and western Holland. The small city of Apeldoorn was one of the first objectives. The Germans flooded the land, tore up roads, blew up bridges. And fought like hell. “These were not the ‘old men and frightened boys’ thought to be all that was left of the Wehrmacht,” recalled Captain Ted Brock in a memoir reproduced on the Canadian Le...
Witnessing genocide
Military History, Military Milestones

Witnessing genocide

In late 1993, Canadian General Roméo Dallaire was tasked to head a force of 2,500 United Nations peacekeepers sent to Rwanda to help implement a peace accord. It was intended to end three years of civil war between the Hutus and Tutsis, a minority ethnic group. The mission was a disaster. In January 1994, Dallaire alerted the UN that an aircraft loaded with ammunition and weapons had landed—and he had learned it was intended for use in an attack on the Tutsis. He asked for permission to seize the cargo. Permission was denied. That would exceed the mandate of the mission, he was told. For the next two months, Dallaire repeatedly informed the UN the situation was growing more dangerous; weapons were being stockpiled by Hutu extremists in the government and refugee Tutsis had formed ...
Searching for Tirpitz
Military History, Military Milestones

Searching for Tirpitz

On March 31, 1944, Canadian destroyers HMCS Sioux and HMCS Algonquin left Scapa Flow in Scotland’s Orkney Islands to join Operation Tungsten, the hunt for the German battleship Tirpitz. Tirpitz was a massive ship launched in 1939. It was 251 metres long, had eight 15-inch guns and could carry four aircraft and 2,000 crew. At 39,000 tonnes, it was built to intimidate. During the Second World War, Tirpitz was strategically stationed by the Germans in the fiords of Norway to prevent Allied convoys from reaching the Soviet Union, to discourage an Allied invasion of Scandinavia, and to tie up the Allied navies in a deadly game of cat and mouse. “If it had come out at any time, it could have decimated a convoy,” said Albert Edward Revie of Algonquin, in one of several Memory Project int...
Paratrooper medic received the Victoria Cross
Military History, Military Milestones

Paratrooper medic received the Victoria Cross

On the morning of March 24, 1945, 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion jumped into heavily defended territory on the east bank of the Rhine River, part of the airborne assault during the Battle of the Bulge. “They called it Operation Varsity,” recalled Herb Harris, a member of the battalion. “Our group of 2,000 men jumped together in six minutes, going out one on top of the other. We landed across the Rhine and we were right on top of the Jerries. It was intense fire—the Germans just opened up on us.” There were immediate casualties—23 Canadians were killed and two were captured. Among the 40 wounded was Corporal Frederick George Topham. “Corporal Topham was our medical orderly,” Harris recalled. “He went forward in intense fire to replace the orderlies killed…as they were trying to ten...
Sophie Scholl and Roland Freisler
Heroes And Villains, Military History

Sophie Scholl and Roland Freisler

Scholl and the White Rose Group gave their lives defying the Nazis On Feb. 18, 1943, Sophie Scholl and her brother Hans brought a suitcase full of anti-Nazi leaflets to the University of Munich. After depositing most outside lecture rooms, Sophie threw the remaining leaflets from a third-floor window into a courtyard. Seeing her, building superintendent Jakob Schmid—a Nazi Party member—reported Sophie to the Gestapo. The two siblings were quickly arrested.  About a year earlier, Sophie, Hans and three other University of Munich students had formed the White Rose group in response to the mass murder of Polish Jews and deportation of thousands of others to concentration camps. At great risk, the five acquired ink, paper and mimeograph equipment to print leaflets denouncing the Nazi r...
Back on display
Artifacts, Military History

Back on display

A Korean War-era jeep is lovingly restored The jeeps Canadian troops used in the Korean War were all-round workhorses. The four-wheel-drive utility vehicles carried commanders, military police and signal corps dispatch riders, and were used as ambulances, for reconnaissance and for carrying light cargo. Waterproof electrical systems allowed them to cross shallow rivers even when their engines were submerged. They could be hoisted by a helicopter. They towed anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons and could be fitted with 106-millimetre recoilless rifles. In a pinch, their hoods stood in for desktops or dining tables. About 50,000 were made in the United States and Canada for use in Korea, including 2,135 Willys M38s assembled in Windsor, Ont., by the Ford Motor Company in 1952. Th...

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An informative primer on Canada’s crucial role in the Normandy landing, June 6, 1944.