Heroes And Villains

Heroes and Villains: Foulkes & Blaskowitz
Heroes And Villains

Heroes and Villains: Foulkes & Blaskowitz

Hero: Charles Foulkes On April 28, 1945, I Canadian Corps’ Lieutenant-General Charles Foulkes—senior officer in western Netherlands—led negotiations with Generaloberst Johannes Blaskowitz of Germany’s 25th Army for the surrender of the 120,000-strong German garrison. With the Hunger Winter gripping the western regions still occupied by Germany, the negotiation required a twofold approach. First, convincing the Germans to stand down and enable delivery of humanitarian aid by Allied air drops and truck convoys. Second, formalizing the garrison’s surrender. Four days earlier, I Canadian Corps had halted before the fortified Grebbe Line, held in strength by 25th Army. Both sides realized that any fight west of the line would necessitate costly urban warfare and many civilian casualtie...
Skripal & GRU
Heroes And Villains

Skripal & GRU

SERGEI SKRIPAL On March 4, 2018, 66-year-old former double agent Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia were found “in extremely serious condition” on a park bench in Salisbury, England. The daughter—just arrived from Moscow the previous day—was comatose. Skripal was conscious, but disoriented. Rushed to hospital, the two were diagnosed as having been exposed to the nerve agent Novichok. Investigators found the chemical had been sprayed on the doorknob of Skripal’s front door. Developed by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s, Novichok is five to eight times more toxic than other chemical warfare nerve agents, such as sarin. British intelligence agencies determined the Skripals had been victims of an assassination attempt by the Main Directorate of the General Staff of ...
Heroes and Villains: MacGill & Messerschmitt
Heroes And Villains

Heroes and Villains: MacGill & Messerschmitt

ELIZABETH (ELSIE) MacGILL In 1939, Britain and the Commonwealth lacked a fighter plane to match the German Bf-109. In aerial combat over northwestern Europe in 1940, the 109, created by German aircraft designer Wilhelm (Willy) Messerschmitt, easily outfought existing Royal Air Force fighters. In its pursuit of a competitive fighter plane, the RAF sent thousands of Hawker Hurricane blueprints on microfilm to the Canadian Car and Foundry Company in Fort William, Ont. (now Thunder Bay). Transforming the blueprints into a functional fighter and creating an aircraft assembly line fell to 35-year-old Elizabeth (Elsie) MacGill. In 1938, MacGill had been the first woman admitted to the Engineering Institute of Canada. Joining CanCar that same year, she oversaw the company’s conversion to aircr...
Heroes and Villains: Gandhi & Godse
Heroes And Villains

Heroes and Villains: Gandhi & Godse

Hero: Mahatma Gandhi Two days before his assassination, Mahatma Gandhi said, “If I’m to die by the bullet of a madman, I must do so smiling. God must be in my heart and on my lips. And if anything happens, you are not to shed a single tear.” In 1915, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi—already reverently known as Mahatma for his spiritual lifestyle and beliefs—returned to India after 21 years in South Africa. During his years away, Gandhi had practised law and, more importantly, earned an international reputation as a leading proponent for Indian self-rule. Back home, Gandhi’s status quickly made him a key figure in the Indian independence movement. Advocating moderate, pacifist resistance to British rule, Gandhi was elected president of the Indian National Congress in 1920. On January 26, 1930,...
Heroes and Villains: Smith & 26th Panzers
Heroes And Villains

Heroes and Villains: Smith & 26th Panzers

HERO: PRIVATE ERNEST ALVIA (SMOKEY) SMITH Having crossed Italy’s Savio River on the night of Oct. 21-22, 1944, the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada’s ‘C’ Company and newly formed tank-hunting platoon cut the Cesena–Ravenna road alongside a badly damaged church. The force numbered just 50 men. Twenty were tank hunters, heavily armed with four PIAT (Projector, Infantry, Anti-Tank) launchers. Among these men was 30-year-old Private Ernest Alvia (Smokey) Smith. His nickname harkened back to school sprinting races where he always “smoked” the competition. Just as the ambush was set, a 26th Panzer Division armoured column approached. The Germans retreating from Cesena expected a clear run. Instead, the lead command car was shot up and the column’s officer killed. That left three Panther t...
Heroes and Villains
Heroes And Villains

Heroes and Villains

HERO: MALALA YOUSAFZAI On Oct. 9, 2012, 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai was returning from school when a man jumped onto the van’s tailboard and shouted, “Who is Malala?” One of three bullets fired struck Yousafzai in the left side of the head, rendering her unconscious. The shooting was the culmination of Yousafzai’s refusal to be silenced by Taliban oppression. Four years earlier, Yousafzai had given her first speech protesting forced school closures, entitled “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?” It was a courageous but dangerous defiance of the Taliban, the Sunni Islamic political movement and military organization which had overrun Pakistan’s Swat Valley in July 2007. Led by Mullah Fazlullah, 4,500 militants had captured key villages, killed local leaders ...

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