Military History

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


Looking Beyond The Casualties: Army, Part 17

The University of Edinburgh in Scotland has recently established a centre for WW II studies that could serve as a model for Canadian universities. Its mandate is "to promote knowledge and understanding of all aspects" of WW II and to "stimulate research into major themes and problems relating to war." To accomplish this, the centre--under director Paul Addison--has established a masters degree program that focuses on homefronts and battlefronts. He has also developed a partnership with Lamancha, the independent film production company that created the outstanding Battlefield series shown recently on the Public Broadcasting System.Addison also persuaded renowned spy novelist and popular historian Len Deighton to join the centre, and Deighton has written the foreword to a new book containing...

Examining A General’s Dismissal: Army, Part 16

The news of General Andrew McNaughton’s retirement was announced on Dec. 26, 1943. McNaughton’s brief statement offered no explanation for the decision and the men and women of what was sometimes called "Andy’s army" were surprised and confused. The following week, as McNaughton and his wife left 1st Canadian Army headquarters to return to Canada, thousands turned out to wave and cheer in a show of affection that no other general or politician could inspire.McNaughton, who had presided over the creation of the overseas army, had not resigned voluntarily. The official explanation of retirement due to illness made little sense to Canadian reporters who met an obviously healthy McNaughton. And so, the Ottawa rumor mill went into high gear. The story of McNaughton’s dismissal tells us a gre...
War Art

Campbell Tinning

Campbell Tinning's watercolor work includes from top to bottom: In The Vault Of The Cemetery; an illustrated letter to his mother and father; Drifting Down. Although Canadian war artist Campbell Tinning witnessed the horrors of WW II, he managed to maintain a quiet sense of objectivity in how he viewed it. In a 1979 interview with Joan Murray, the director of the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa, Ont., Tinning said war was "just happening to you. We couldn’t know what was going on all the time." While in Italy he climbed up onto a burned out tank and looked down the hatch. Inside, were two badly burned bodies, but years later he described the grisly scene with candidness. "I hadn’t been killed, it was war," he told Murray. "But I have never forgotten those two men, even though m...
War Art

Kenneth Forbes

Kenneth Forbes was able to depict the reality of WW I. His work includes from top to bottom: Portrait of Cpl. William Metcalf, VC. Metcalf earned the award on Sept. 2, 1918, during the Second Battle of Arras; Canadian Artillery in Action. You only have to glance at the work of Kenneth Forbes to see his love of traditional oil painting. He has a lush and sensual style that is stirring and powerful when contrasted with the horror of WW I battlegrounds. Born in Toronto on July 4, 1892, Forbes attended Westmount Academy in Montreal before moving on to art schools in England and Scotland. At the Newlyn Art School in Cornwall he studied under Stanhope Forbes and won a four-year scholarship to the Hospital Field Art School at Arbroath, Scotland. He stayed in Scotland for one year before a...

The Invasion Of Sicily: Army, Part 15

One of the most enduring myths about Canadian military history is that historians and the general public have concentrated their attention on the campaign in Northwest Europe ignoring the "D-Day Dodgers" and the battles in the Mediterranean. This view persists despite the popularity of Farley Mowat’s books, the high quality of the official history of the campaign and the excellence of the popular history The D-Day Dodgers: The Canadians in Italy 1943-45 by Daniel G. Dancocks. The Canadian role in Italy is also the subject of some of our best memoirs including Sydney Frost’s Once a Patricia and Strome Galloway’s books and articles. Now for 1996 we have the superbly designed and illustrated Canadians and the Italian Campaign 1943-45 by Bill McAndrew.This new title is the latest in a series s...

The Mediterranean Theatre: Army, Part 14

World War II was fought on many strange battlefields, but none was more unusual than North Africa. Fighting began there because Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, surprised by the rapid collapse of the French army, decided he needed a "few thousand corpses" or Italy would not have a place at an early peace conference. The Italian army first attacked France and then began operations against the British in East Africa and Egypt.The story of the Italian advance and the Commonwealth counter-offensive is well known. British Lieutenant-General Sir Richard O’Connor employed the 7th Armoured and the 4th Indian divisions in a campaign that resulted in the destruction of 14 enemy divisions and the capture of 130,000 prisoners. This was done at a cost of 2,000 casualties, 500 of them fatal. Lt.-Ge...