Military History

Osborn & Sakai
Heroes And Villains, Military History

Osborn & Sakai

Sacrifice and atrocities in the Battle of Hong Kong WARRANT OFFICER JOHN OSBORN In October 1941, the Winnipeg Grenadiers joined the Hong Kong garrison as part of ‘C’ Force. British-born Warrant Officer John Robert Osborn was 42. He had been gassed on the Western Front in the First World War. This left him with lingering chronic respiratory issues.  Emigrating to Canada in 1920, he settled in Winnipeg, married, and by the start of the war was the father of five children. Age, marital status and questionable health could have excused him from active overseas service. But having joined the Grenadiers in 1933, Osborn was determined to do his part.  Known as a fair but spit-and-polish, highly disciplined and stern non-commissioned officer, Osborn had an instinct for training soldiers. In ...
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...
Setting an exact border
Military History, Military Milestones

Setting an exact border

Canada and the United States famously share the longest undefended border in the world—but the exact location of that border has been in dispute many times. One of those disputes ended with Yukon being cut off from sea access by the Alaska Panhandle. It’s a border dispute that Canada lost more than a century ago that has ramifications reverberating to this day. It began with an accord between Russia and Britain that was established before the northwest part of North America had been fully explored and mapped. Both Russia and Britain had colonial interests in the territories today known as Alaska and British Columbia. The two countries signed a treaty in 1825 delineating the border between their territories. The agreement said the border would travel north along Portland Canal t...
The U.S. invasion of Grenada
Military History, Military Milestones

The U.S. invasion of Grenada

The United States invaded Grenada in 1983, its first military action since the Vietnam War. Canada opposed the act alongside the majority of the United Nations. Grenada gained independence in 1974. In 1979, after a coup, the constitution was suspended and Maurice Bishop’s Marxist-Leninist government took power. Allied to Cuba and the Soviet Union, the country began to significantly beef up its small army, causing U.S. President Ronald Reagan concern over a potential Soviet military build-up in the Caribbean. But Bishop wanted to establish a socialist government and encouraged development, particularly of the tourism industry. Communist hardliners disagreed with his approach, urging him to step down or share power. In 1983, Reagan’s concern escalated to alarm when the hardli...
The liberation of Campobasso
Military History, Military Milestones

The liberation of Campobasso

Firmly established on the Italian mainland in the fall of 1943, the 1st Canadian Infantry Division turned its sights on Campobasso in southern Italy, rumoured to be the headquarters of German Field Marshal Albert Kesselring. “With it in our hands, the Allied Force in Italy would no longer have to use the roads of the Foggia plains, some 50 miles (80 kilometres) to the south…and we would have the mobility required for the forthcoming fight for the German winter line,” recalled Captain G.K. Wright of the Royal Canadian Regiment on The Regimental Rogue website. Code-breakers at Bletchley Park decrypted German Enigma machine messages, revealing Hitler’s intent for a fierce defence in Italy. Eighteen supply trains a day moved in from Germany and France, carrying enough ammunition, fuel an...
A home for refugees
Military History, Military Milestones

A home for refugees

On Oct. 6, 1986, the people of Canada received the Nansen Refugee Award, the United Nations’ highest distinction for refugee aid. It was the first—and so far, only—time the award has been given to a country. Canada was recognized for its “major and sustained contribution made to the cause of refugees in their country and throughout the world over the years,” the UN said. The award was established in 1954 to recognize individuals, groups and organizations for exemplary action to help and protect refugees, displaced and stateless people. It was named for Fridtjof Nansen, the first high commissioner for refugees appointed by the League of Nations in 1921. But soon they were followed by asylum seekers from other continents. Nansen helped define what refugees are and proposed developing...

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