Army

Army

From Leonforte To Agira: Army, Part 61

PHOTO: JACK H. SMITH, LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA--PA151748 Members of the Royal Canadian Artillery fire on an enemy position near Nissoria, Sicily, in July 1943. Sicily is an island of extremes and in July, when the sun shines for 11 hours a day, temperatures often reach 40°C. The men who fought for the hill towns of central Sicily in 1943 remember the heat, the dust and the stony landscape with its conical hills and steep ravines. To overcome an enemy holding the high ground required the kind of physical strength and mental agility shown by the men of the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment during their climb to the heights of Assoro, nort...
Army

Beginning The Battle For Sicily: Army, Part 60

PHOTO: FRANK ROYAL, LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA132777 Members of Royal Canadian Regiment consult a map at Piazza Armerina, Italy, in July 1943. This is the first of a series of articles examining the Canadian contributions to the Allied campaign in Sicily and the Italian mainland. Regular readers of Canadian Military History In Perspective will recall a number of articles published in 1997-98 on this theme, articles that may be consulted on the Legion Magazine Web site, www.legionmagazine.com. This new series will focus on battalion and brigade-level actions, explore the Italian battlefields and understand the challenges faced by Canada's ...
Army

Divided At Home, United In Battle: Army, Part 59

PHOTO: NATIONAL DEFENCE/LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA--PA003248 Wounded soldiers, including Germans, are delivered to a Canadian advanced dressing station in 1918. While the Canadian Corps fought the battles of Vimy Ridge, Hill 70 and Passchendaele, Canadians on the home front were focused on the issue of conscription for overseas service. There is much to be learned about this topic in a new book of essays in honour of historian Craig Brown edited by David Mackenzie. Titled Canada and the First World War, the book includes chapters by J.L. Granatstein and John English that re-examine conscription and the political leadership of Canada’s wartime Prime Minister Robert Laird Borden. Granatstein, who has written about conscription “for more than 40...
Army

Keeping The Corps Together: Army, Part 58

PHOTOS: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA-PA001027; CO80027 From top: Soldiers wear gas masks while examining a rifle in 1917; Medical personnel tend to a soldier burned by mustard gas in WW I. The Canadians who captured Vimy Ridge in April 1917 were proud of their nickname, the Byng Boys, but by June of that year Sir Julian Byng had moved on to take command of the 3rd British Army while Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Currie assumed command of the Canadian Corps. As Jack Hyatt has demonstrated in his biography of this unusual Canadian hero, Currie’s promotion occurred during a period of personal financial difficulty and considerable political pressure. To Currie’s everlasting credit, these issues were not allowed to interfere with his leader...
Army

From The Somme To Vimy: Army, Part 57

PHOTO: NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF CANADA--PA001035 German prisoners help members of the Canadian Red Cross load wounded soldiers onto light rail cars near Vimy Ridge, April 1917. When General Sir Douglas Haig finally called an end to the Somme offensive in December 1916, he claimed that the main objectives had been achieved. He had concluded that the pressure on the French army at Verdun had been “relieved,” the German army was held on the Western Front—allowing Russia time to recover—and the enemy’s forces in France had been “worn down” in a series of attritional battles. Most of this was pure rationalization. Haig had planned for a breakthrough on a wide front and kept his cavalry divisions in place, waiting to exploit opportuni...
Army

Fateful Decisions On The Somme: Army, Part 56

PHOTO: NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF CANADA--PA000909 Wounded soldiers receive treatment during the Battle of Courcelette, Sept. 15, 1916. By February 1916 the situation confronting the British Empire and France was incredibly bleak. The failure of the 1915 offensives on the Western Front and the crushing defeat of the Russian armies in the east were paralleled by German victories in the Balkans, the failure of the Gallipoli expedition, the defeat of British forces in Iraq and the bloody stalemate in the war between Italy and Austria-Hungary. Then on Feb. 21, the German 5th Army, with 40 full-strength infantry divisions, each of 16,000 men, began the assault on Verdun, France. The German commander, General Erich von Falkenhayn, had deci...

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