Military History

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

The sinking of <em>U-484</em>
Military Milestones

The sinking of U-484

The history of U-484 is short, and not so sweet. Commissioned on Jan. 19, 1944, the submarine travelled to Norway to join the German 3rd flotilla in early August under command of Korvettenkapitän Wolf-Axel Schaefer. Its first and only patrol began on Aug. 18. The sub passed through a gap separating Iceland and the Faroe Islands and headed for the Hebrides, where it was sunk on Sept. 9. All 52 aboard perished. Who sank the sub? That depends on what you read and where and when it was written. An RCAF Sunderland flying boat piloted by J.N. Farren spotted whitish vapour or steam and a 30-metre wake indicating a submarine. It dropped eight depth charges, then called in HMCS Hespeler and HMCS Dunver, on patrol south of the Hebrides. “The original postwar analysis credited the Sunderl...
The day Canadian Corps earned seven Victoria Crosses
Military Milestones

The day Canadian Corps earned seven Victoria Crosses

On Sept. 2, 1918, Day 26 of the Hundred Days Offensive, the objective was to breach the Drocourt-Quéant Line, a heavily fortified German front stretching about 25 kilometres between the two towns in northern France. Seven members of the Canadian Corps earned the Victoria Cross that day as they overran the line across a front of six kilometres and penetrated nearly 10 kilometres into enemy-held land. Only one, Lieutenant-Colonel Cyrus Wesley Peck, had been born in Canada. Although he had been born in New Brunswick, he had been elected a member of Parliament for Skeena, B.C., while he was still serving overseas. Under heavy machine-gun and sniper fire, Peck reconnoitred an enemy position that was the source of heavy fire, reorganized his battalion, and led his men in to deal with it...
Should the James Cross kidnappers have been granted safe passage to Cuba?
Face to Face

Should the James Cross kidnappers have been granted safe passage to Cuba?

In the early morning hours of Dec. 3, 1970, dozens of police officers and heavily armed soldiers surrounded a modest dwelling in Montreal North where, for nearly two months, British diplomat James Cross had been held hostage by a gang of would-be revolutionaries who styled themselves the Liberation Cell of the Front de libération du Québec. Their situation was hopeless, but the kidnappers remained defiant. They warned the authorities via a handwritten communiqué that if the police attempted to storm the hideout with guns or tear gas, Cross would be the first to die. And they were in possession of two sawed-off .30-calibre carbines, two handguns and eight pounds of dynamite. Rather than risk Cross’s life, the authorities wisely agreed to grant the kidnappers safe passage to Cuba in exch...
Heroes and Villains: Vickers and Barrett vs Zehaf-Bibeau
Heroes And Villains, Military History

Heroes and Villains: Vickers and Barrett vs Zehaf-Bibeau

HEROES: Kevin Vickers and Curtis Barrett On Oct. 22, 2014, Parliamentary Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers heard at least a dozen gunshots outside his office adjacent to the House of Commons Hall of Honour.  Snapping a 15-round clip into his 9-millimetre Smith & Wesson pistol, the former RCMP officer of 29 years walked toward the firing. As Vickers closed on an alcove where gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was sheltering, a colleague shouted that he was right beside the gunman. Pressing up against a pillar, Vickers saw the barrel of a long gun thrusting out from the opposite side. Vickers could also hear Zehaf-Bibeau’s laboured breathing. Vickers was about to engage when four Mounties, who had deployed as an ad hoc incident active response team, advanced into the Hall of Honour in diamon...
On This Date

On this date: September 2020

1 September 1944 Dieppe, France, is liberated by 2nd Canadian Division, which had been hard-hit at the disastrous raid in August 1942. A large victory parade follows. 2 September 1945 Japan signs terms of surrender on USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, bringing an end to six years of war. 3 September 1939 England and France declare war on Germany. Within two hours, U-30 sinks SS Athenia sailing from Glasgow and Liverpool to Montreal. 4 September 1914 The Canadian military camp at Valcartier, north of Quebec City, swells with 32,000 men and 8,000 horses. 5 September 1758 A force of 1,500 British troops in nine vessels arrives in Gaspé Bay to begin raiding Acadian villages on the coast of present-day New Brunswick and the Gaspé Peninsula. 6 September 1952 CBFT Montreal, ...
Victory in the Pacific
Military History, Pictorial, Remembrance

Victory in the Pacific

The defeat of Japan brought horror and joy after years of conflict The war was over. The writing had been on the wall ever since American navy pilots gutted the Japanese fleet at Midway on June 4-7, 1942, six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, sinking four enemy aircraft carriers and turning the tide of conquest in the Pacific. After a bloody island-hopping campaign that began at Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands in 1942 and worked its way northward, the end came swiftly in a cloud of radioactive dust. The atomic bombs dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 marked the dawn of the nuclear age, a harbinger of the fears—and perhaps a lifesaving lesson—that underscored the Cold War in the decades after. The justification for the nuclear attac...
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