Military History

This series by historian Terry Copp examines many aspects of our military history. Guaranteed to fascinate.

War Art

Arthur Lismer

CANADIAN WAR MUSEUM--AN19710261-0342 Minesweepers, Halifax. Prior to becoming famous as a founding member of the Group of Seven, Arthur Lismer sharpened his painting skills in Halifax during the last years of World War I. He had a brilliant summer palette, and produced oil paintings that perfectly captured sunny days on the Atlantic coast. Sparkling blues complement the zigzagging camouflage on troop carriers, while lemon and Naples yellow coat the sky. His lively paintings celebrate the ships—also known as “dazzle” ships—as they carry troops to and from the busy port. CANADIAN WAR MUSEUM--AN19710251-0344 Convoy in Bedford Basin. Born in 1885 in Sheffield, England, he immigrated to Toronto in 1911. Lismer qui...
Canada & the Victoria Cross

The Class Of 1915: Part 4 of 18

Illustration: Sharif Tarabay Victoria Cross recipient Francis Alexander Scrimger. More than 70 Canadian Victoria Crosses were awarded during World War I, an incredible achievement for a country with less than nine million people. The first of those awards went to Michael O’Leary. Born in 1888 at Inchigeela in County Cork, Ireland, “Mick”—as he was known—joined the Royal Navy at an early age, but was invalided out with rheumatism. After making a full recovery, he joined the Irish Guards before moving to Canada in 1913 where he joined the North West Mounted Police.After war broke out in 1914, O’Leary returned to Great Britain and rejoined the 1st Battalion of the Irish Guards. The unit was immediately sent to France, where the lance-corporal quickly showed his ...

Turning To World War I: Army, Part 52

From top: Bell tents and men fill a field at Camp Valcartier, Que., in 1914; A march-past is organized at Camp Borden, Ont., in July 1916; (Inset) Sir Sam Hughes (right) visits Camp Valcartier in September 1914. Most of the world remembers World War I as a futile struggle when naive young men, raised to believe in abstractions like honour, duty and manliness, were slaughtered in pointless battles planned by incompetent generals. English-speaking Canadians, while generally accepting this view, have supplemented it with the memory of a war in which their soldiers won great victories and forged a new nati...

The Original Rainbow Warrior: Navy, Part 3

From top: (Inset) Commander Walter Hose on the deck of HMCS Rainbow; HMCS Rainbow set off in August 1914 to find German cruisers along the American west coast; Canada’s first submarines, CC.1 and CC.2 were purchased by the Province of British Columbia in 1914. Ninety years ago this August the world slipped into the Great War: An unprecedented four-year slaughter that left 20 million dead, empires in ruins and much of the world map redrawn. It is generally admitted that Canada came of age during that bitter conflict, at an appalling butcher’s bill: 61,326 dead on active service from a mobilized ...
Air Force

The Birth Of Missile Defence: Air Force, Part 3

From top: A Canadian soldier stands guard over debris from a V-2 rocket that fell near the docks in Antwerp, Belgium; A member of the French resistance examines a damaged V-1 rocket near Foucarmont, France, in 1944 In November 1939, British authorities acquired a summary of German technical developments so broad in scope and detailed in nature that their first impression was that it was a hoax. The so-called Oslo Report gained credibility as more items appeared, including differing types of radars and a deadly radio-controlled glider bomb. Among its most intriguing references was mention of ...
War Art

Orville Fisher

Orville Fisher landed with the troops on D-Day, and his paintings record the historic assault and the chaos of battle. Clockwise from top: Engineers Clearing Roads Through Caen; Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders; Scheldt Crossing; Battle for Carpiquet Airfield. The will to survive must have been the overwhelming instinct for our soldiers as they fought through the waves and shelling to Juno Beach on June 6, 1944. Orville Fisher also thought about painting. He was the only Canadian war artist to land with the troops and he sketched every step of the way. Born in Vancouver on Nov. 24, 1911, Fisher was the oldest of six children. He studied at the Vancouver School of Art, under F.H. Varley and Lawren Harris, members of the Group of Seven. He became friends with artists Paul G...