Army

Caterpillars at Courcelette
Army, Military History

Caterpillars at Courcelette

The tank, Britain’s new secret weapon, spread fear across the battlefield during Canada’s first major offensive operation In the minds of many, the First World War was characterized by a largely static front that stretched from the North Sea to the Swiss border and witnessed the unremitting use of machine guns, barbed wire, trenches and artillery barrages. Coupled with this was a dearth of new ideas. Yet, the war did bring several innovations in equipment and techniques. It saw the first use of airplanes, tanks, long-range artillery, “creeping” barrages, wireless communications and flamethrowers. During the infamous Battle of the Somme, a new technique and a new weapon were employed for the first time. And Canadian soldiers were among the troops who used them. The background to...
Worthington
Army, Military History

Worthington

It was 1967 and winter was fast approaching for Frank Worthington. The renowned retired major-general, who to this day is known throughout the Canadian military as “Fighting Frank,” was dying of cancer. “Pico”… “Fighting Frank”… “Worthy”… “Frederic Franklin”… “Father of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps”…. His multiple monikers only hint at the remarkable life of Major-General F.F. Worthington In his study there was a typewriter. It clacked regularly in the months preceding his diagnosis as Worthington, determined as ever, wrote down his recollections. They were not what you might have expected from a man whose career and reputation have been so tightly woven into the fabric of this country’s military history. The reminiscences that poured forth were not of the Great ...
Warfare Most Foul
Army, Military History

Warfare Most Foul

From the first velvety phut of the shell burst to those corpse-like breaths that a man inhaled almost unawares,” wrote Private John Lynch of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. “It lingered about out of control. “When he fired it, a man released an evil force that became free to bite friend or foe til such time as it died into the earth. Above all, it went against God-inspired conscience.” Lynch depicted mustard gas as a supernatural force and a weapon that was almost impossible to control. It must have seemed like pure evil to many front-line soldiers, protected by only a flimsy respirator. While the initial gas clouds of 1915 were dangerous to all in the battle zone, with wind often blowing the deadly fumes back against those who unleashed them, chemical weapons by 19...
Voices from war’s end
Army, Military History

Voices from war’s end

The most familiar images from the end of the war are the joyful and sometimes raucous VE-Day celebrations on May 8, 1945. But the war did not end all at once for everybody. Freedom came in stages as the Allied front crept forward across Europe. Canadian liberators fought town to town, beginning in Sicily in July 1943, through France and Belgium with the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944, and in the Netherlands from September 1944 to the unconditional German surrender on May 7, 1945. Canadians on all fronts made poignant observations on the war—and its end. Some of their experiences are recounted here. On leave in Italy Rome fell to the United States army on June 4, 1944, and Canadian troops granted leave headed to the first liberated European capital. “I was very lucky to get one ...
Pedal Power
Army, Military History

Pedal Power

Twenty-eight young men stood at attention while posing for a portrait on the steps of the British Columbia Parliament Buildings in Victoria on Dec. 7, 1915. They were about to leave to start their training—not for the cavalry, as might be expected by the presence of their commander, Lieutenant George Edward Sellers, a 32-year-old former Vancouver realtor with militia experience in the 1st Regiment, British Columbia Horse. No, they were to be a different sort of mounted troops, part of a force that would play an important role in the success of the Hundred Days Offensive, taking on some of the most dangerous work ahead of the front lines at the end of the First World War. They were to join the Canadian Corps Cyclist Battalion. The bicycle boom of the late 1800s was not lost on militar...
Opening the Estuary
Army, Military History

Opening the Estuary

Britain’s XXX Corps closed in on Antwerp on Aug. 30, 1944, General Bernard Montgomery decided it was unnecessary to open the Belgian city’s massive port to Allied shipping. So, despite the liberation of the city on Sept. 2, no advance north of the Albert Canal was attempted. This left the 80-kilometre estuary—at the tidal mouth of the Scheldt River connecting the city to the North Sea—in German hands. Newly promoted to field marshal, Montgomery instead turned XXX Corps eastward for Operation Market Garden—a push into German territory designed to seize a foothold over the Rhine River and create an Allied invasion route into northern Germany—the rapier thrust Montgomery believed could win the war. The Allies’ need for a channel port was urgent, but he thought just one French harbour woul...

CANADA AND THE
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