Face to Face

Was Canada’s decision  to reinforce Hong Kong a mistake?
Face to Face, Military History

Was Canada’s decision to reinforce Hong Kong a mistake?

Richard Foot says NO Was Canada wrong to send soldiers to Hong Kong in 1941? Absolutely—if one weighs the question with the full benefit of history. On the other hand, if we examine it with an honest appraisal of what it was like to be living in Canada in 1941, with all the pressures and prevailing attitudes of that extraordinary year, then the choice to commit troops becomes clear: it was certainly the right thing to do at the time. King’s government faced increasing pressure for a more robust contribution. By the fall of 1941, Canada had been at war for two years, yet Prime Minister Mackenzie King and his cabinet were still wrestling with what role the country should play. French Canada was lukewarm on the war effort, memories of conscription in 1917 still divided Canadians, a...
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...
Was the Newfoundland Regiment sacrificed at Beaumont-Hamel?
Face to Face, Military History

Was the Newfoundland Regiment sacrificed at Beaumont-Hamel?

John Boileau says YES It was a battle that should never have occurred.   There was no sound military reason for a British attack on the Somme at a location of no military importance. The British were unprepared for a massive summer assault and would have preferred to wait until the fall.  The terrain favoured the defender, who was exceptionally well-prepared.  The British soldiers were largely raw volunteers. Their artillery support was inadequate and lifted forward too soon.  The detonation of mines shortly before zero hour alerted the Germans and allowed them to man their defences. The first assault began at 7:30 a.m., when the defenders could clearly see the attackers.  There were a staggering 30,000 casualties within the opening hour, but medical facilities had been told to ant...
Was it right to commute Kurt Meyer’s death sentence for killing Canadian PoWs?
Face to Face

Was it right to commute Kurt Meyer’s death sentence for killing Canadian PoWs?

Mark Zuehlke says YES On June 7, 1944, the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division started its advance inland from Juno Beach and fought against German Panzer units.  Kurt Meyer, the Standarten-führer (standard leader) of the 25th Regiment, 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjügend (Hitler Youth) Division, had a headquarters at the Abbaye d’Ardenne—about three kilometres west of Caen, France—to direct Germany’s counterattacks.  In the ensuing five-day battle, several Canadian battalions were overrun and an estimated 156 prisoners were murdered by 12th SS troops. Eighteen were killed at the Abbaye on the night of June 7 and on the following day. After a year-long investigation, Meyer was tried on five related charges before the Canadian War Crimes Commission in December 1945. First: that he i...
Are there 98 Canadian VCs?
Face to Face

Are there 98 Canadian VCs?

It is hard to say exactly how many “Canadians” have been awarded the Victoria Cross, the Commonwealth’s highest award for valour in the face of the enemy. As an editor with Legion Magazine, we usually just say safely, “nearly 100.” For one thing, the Canadian Citizenship Act didn’t come into effect until Jan. 1, 1947, nearly two years after the last action was performed for which a Canadian was awarded a VC. So by that measure, the majority of “our” VCs were, technically, not Canadian at all. Newfoundland was not part of Canada until 1949, yet we still take pride in the VCs earned by John Bernard Croak and Thomas (Tommy) Ricketts. Many of the recipients were immigrants, mainly from Great Britain. Some of them returned to Britain to serve in units they had been associated with before co...
Face to Face | Was All Quiet on  the Western Front (1930) the most important war film ever made?
Face to Face

Face to Face | Was All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) the most important war film ever made?

All Quiet on the Western Front is an Academy Award-winning 1930 film based on the classic anti-war novel by a German veteran of the First World War, Erich Maria Remarque. Coming 12 years after the First World War ended and with Nazism on the rise in Germany, the film may have had a more profound impact than any war movie ever. Ignoring the evolution of technology and the old-style theatrics, by that measure alone—its impact—it can be viably argued that All Quiet is the greatest war film ever made. Directed by Lewis Milestone and starring Lew Ayres and Louis Wolheim, it follows a class of German students inspired by their teacher to sign up and go off to war. It is a relentless, unforgiving chronicle of misery and death—for its time a detailed and groundbreaking slice of life at th...

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