Military History

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

War Art

Albert Cloutier

Canadian war artist Albert Cloutier was born at Leominster, Mass., in 1902. His Canadian parents returned to Montreal when he was still a child. As a young man growing up in Montreal, Cloutier studied under several well-known teachers, including A.Y. Jackson and Edwin H. Holgate. Cloutier supported himself as a freelance artist for about 10 years before becoming supervisor of war poster production for the federal government from 1940 to 1944. In March 1944, he enlisted and was appointed an official war artist for the Royal Canadian Air Force. Cloutier, who rose to the rank of flight lieutenant, was one of a few war artists who had established himself as a successful artist and designer prior to war service. After an initial posting at Kingston, Ont., Cloutier was sent to Newfound...

Canadian Participation In The World War II Battle To Win The Breskens Pocket: Army, Part 35

  The World War II battle for the Breskens Pocket, code named Operation Switchback, was the crucial first stage in the struggle to open the Port of Antwerp in Belgium. It began at dawn on Oct. 6, 1944, when 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade crossed the Leopold Canal in northern Belgium not far from the Dutch border. This frontal assault was intended to divert the enemy's attention away from the unprotected north coast of the Breskens Pocket where Brigadier John Rockingham's 9th Cdn. Inf. Bde. was planning an amphibious landing. Rockingham's Highland Bde. was to mount its attack in tracked landing vehicles--known as Buffaloes--within 36 hours of crossing the Leopold Canal. However, Murphy'...
War Art

Leonard Brooks

Canadian war artist Leonard Brooks painted the day-to-day life of military service in the Royal Canadian Navy. He used sombre greys and blues to imbue each canvas with the mood of the sea during World War II. We can almost feel the wind and the wash of the sea depicted in his canvases. Born in London, England, in 1911, Brooks arrived in Canada with his parents in 1912. As a young man he spent six months at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto before heading to Europe in 1933. In 1934, he returned to Toronto where he painted with artists from the Group of Seven and later taught at a technical school. Brooks left his teaching job in May 1943 to join the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve. He was appointed an official war artist in August 1944 and the following year was promoted to...

Crossing The Leopold: Army, Part 34

Buffalo amphibious vehicles enter the water during the battle to clear the Scheldt estuary in October 1944. The battle to clear the Scheldt estuary and allow full use of the port of Antwerp in Belgium has long been recognized as one of the most important chapters in Canadian military history. Antwerp, the second largest port in Europe, was captured by the Allies on Sept. 5, 1944, when 11th British Armoured Division arrived to find the city virtually abandoned by the Germans and under the control of the Belgian resistance. Antwerp was, however, 50 miles from the North Sea and as Admiral Bertram Ramsay, ...
War Art

A.Y. Jackson

A.Y. Jackson loved the wild beauty of Canada and he painted it as only a Canadian could. As one of the founding members of the Group of Seven, which was formed in April 1920, he became known as the grand old man of Canadian painting. His time on the front lines during World War I influenced the way he approached landscape drawing and those motifs and themes reappeared in his later work. Born in Montreal in 1882, he worked as a commercial artist in Montreal and Chicago and took art classes in the evenings. He helped support his younger siblings, but once they had grown up he was free to leave for Paris where he mixed with some of the world’s most influential artists and took up studies at the Académie Julian. He returned to Canada and in June 1915 enlisted in the 60th Infantry Batta...

The Liberation Of Belgium: Army, Part 33

Canadian Sergeant L.K. Woods (left) and Private M.S. Perkins visit children in Furnes, Belgium, 1944. September 1944 is remembered as the month of Arnhem, the "bridge too far", or by Canadians as the time of the battles for the Channel ports. But for the veterans of 4th Canadian Armoured Division, memories are of the rapid advance north, the liberation of western Belgium and the brief bloody struggles at the Gent and Leopold canals. On Sept. 6, the division was organized into two battle groups: Stewart Force and Moncel Force. The division was ordered to pursue the enemy to the area around the town of Eeklo...