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News and discussion on Canadian military history and how we remember the service and the sacrifice.

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Remembering Belgium and Canada’s Role in 1944

This week marks the 68th anniversary of the liberation of Belgium. After liberating much of the northern French coast in the summer of 1944, the First Canadian Army, along with British and Polish troops, swept into Belgium. Large parts of western Belgium were liberated quickly, but it was a tougher slog crossing the Ghent Canal and pushing towards Antwerp and the Scheldt. The Germans had opened the floodgates, flooding the Scheldt and the flat open land offered little in the way of cover. Veterans Affairs Canada and the Canadian Battlefields Foundation offer descriptions of the liberators' sweep through Belgium, made at a cost of more than 6,000 Canadian casualties. A Legion Magazine story about the liberation mentions the Canada Museum in Adagem, Belgium. It's a private museum that us...
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Dieppe, Aug. 19, 1942

    Jean Gosselin, flanked by Sam Newman and Mary Van Ruyven.  PHOTO: SHARON ADAMS, LEGION MAGAZINE I have been privileged to know two people touched personally by the disastrous raid on Dieppe. The second, then  86,  had just concluded his annual commemoration of the raid when met by members of the Royal Canadian Legion's Pilgrimage of Remembrance in 2009.   He and other young men of the town were ordered to clear the beaches of Canadian dead (Pilgrims in the Shadow of War, Nov. 7, 2009). He said he was pleased to shake the hands and thank living Canadians for the sacrifice. The pilgrims thanked him for his solemn annual ritual, which he vowed to continue until he could no longer walk on the stones of the beach. The first was Ross Munro, publisher of the Edmon...
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Second World War equipment moves to museums

Three machines from the Second World War have found new homes this month. A Grumman TBM Avenger Aircraft has been moved to the Shearwater Aviation Museum in Nova Scotia.  The aircraft were built as torpedo bombers, but were put to more mundane postwar work spraying bugs and fighting forest fires in New Brunswick.  The museum says it will soon be repainted to its original colours. The Canadian War Museum is the new home for a rare six-ton M1917 Tank. About 250 of the tanks were acquired as "scrap metal" from the (then neutral) U.S. in 1940.  The Canadian Armoured Corps at Camp Borden trained on the tanks, of which only two reside these days in Canada. Calgary's rare de Havilland Mosquito was recently moved from a warehouse in the city's northeast to the Bomber Command Museum in Nanton, A...
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Historical record corrected after nearly 70 years

  Mary Greyeyes and First World War veteran Harry Ball. PHOTO: LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA PA-129070 It’s an iconic photo: a young native woman being blessed by a chief in full headdress. A set-up.  Like the famous Times Square kiss.  Though touted at the time as that of an Indian princess being blessed by her father and chief, in fact the two subjects had never met before posing for the photo. The man had been paid $20 for posing in a get-up scavenged from many sources; the young woman got a new uniform and a lunch out of the deal. It took nearly 70 years to set the record straight—all thanks to the perseverance of the daughter-in-law of the of the young private—not a princess—of the Canadian Women’s Army Corp. The soldier was Mary Reid, Mary Greyeyes as was, who’d joined up o...
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German bunkers uncovered

In May of 1945 a group of  German soldiers were manning four bunkers off the coast of Denmark, one of some 8,00o Nazi fortifications along the long coast of this tiny country. Hearing of the Nazi surrender, the soldiers left their post to walk to the nearest town 16 kilometres away, locking the doors behind them. The bunkers were covered by sand and forgotten, only to be exposed by ferocious waves during a sea storm 67 years later. Archeologists have recently opened those doors—and found things just as they had been left at the end of the Second World War. Not only was the bunker fully furnished, but the communications system was intact, and personal effects of the soldiers, clothing, food containers, books, bottles—right down to stamps, pipes filled with tobacco and half-drunk bottl...
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Probable find of U-boat in the Churchill River

Second World War buffs are awaiting authentication of a discovery of the wreck of a Second World War U-boat in the Churchill River, 100 kilometres inland, in Labrador. German U-boats did patrol Canada's coasts and waterways during the Second World War.  Legion Magazine has been following their fate in U-boats and the Spy Who Came Ashore, The Battle of the St. Lawrence Begins, Predators in the St. Lawrence, Torpedoed in the St. Lawrence, and The Luck of the U-boats. A battery-operated weather station was recovered in Labrador decades after being left  by a U-boat. We blogged about that in May . The German government has said more than a dozen U-boats are still unaccounted for.  If this is one of them, it is likely to be declared a war grave at sea, and will not be brought to the su...

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