Defence Today

Frank Hurley: Adventurer and war photographer
Defence Today, Front Lines

Frank Hurley: Adventurer and war photographer

You may not know the name Frank Hurley but you almost certainly know at least some of his pictures. Hurley was an Australian who left school at age 12, escaped the drudgery and hardship of a working-class life at the dawn of the 20th century, and turned his gift of gab and passion for photography into a lifetime of adventure and renown. He sailed to Antarctica with Douglas Mawson and Ernest Shackleton, survived stranding in the frozen wasteland, documented both world wars and travelled the world. He was, in his heyday, a household name among his countrymen. Hurley spent more than four years on Antarctic expeditions. Working as a postcard photographer in Sydney, Australia, Hurley mastered the art of superimposing images from two or more negatives into one composite photograph. ...
Art of the war horse
Defence Today, Front Lines

Art of the war horse

Mercifully, the First World War was the last major confrontation in which horses played a major role.  British cavalry were among the first units to see action in WW I, but they didn’t last. The war’s most impactful weapon—the machine gun—along with the mud and barbed wire of trench warfare would ultimately spell the end for equine-borne military.  One of the last successful cavalry charges on the Western Front took place at the Somme—on July 14, 1916, when the 20th Deccan Horse, an Indian cavalry unit, attacked a German strongpoint at High Wood. Armed with lances and despite an uphill climb, enough horsemen reached the woods to force some Germans to surrender.  The cost, however, was high: 102 of the attackers were killed, along with 130 horses. Two months later, the tank debuted...
Bird strike caused fatal Snowbirds crash, report confirms
Defence Today, Front Lines

Bird strike caused fatal Snowbirds crash, report confirms

A single small bird brought down a Canadian Snowbirds demonstration aircraft last year after it was sucked into the plane’s engine and caused a compressor stall, a flight safety report confirmed on March 29. Both air crew escaped the CT-114 Tutor as it went down on takeoff near Kamloops, B.C., on May 17, 2020. But they were low and Captain Jennifer Casey—the team’s public affairs officer—was killed after she is believed to have become briefly entangled with her ejection seat and her parachute failed to fully open. The pilot, Capt. Richard MacDougall, landed on the roof of a house and was badly injured. “Upon loss of power, the pilot initiated a climb straight ahead and then a turn back towards the airport,” said a Defence Department statement. “During this maneuver, the aircraft ente...
Declassified documents shed new light on notorious sinking of USS Thresher
Defence Today, Front Lines

Declassified documents shed new light on notorious sinking of USS Thresher

At 8 a.m. on April 9, 1963, USS Thresher (SSN-593), the lead boat in its class of nuclear-powered attack submarines, left port at Kittery, Maine, for a series of dive tests in the deep ocean 350 kilometres east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Some 25 hours later, while Thresher was nearing test depth during its first deep-dive trials after a nine-month refit, USS Skylark, the submarine rescue ship that was on station at the time, received a garbled message via underwater telephone. "By mid-afternoon, 15 navy ships were headed to the search area." “Minor difficulties, have positive up-angle, attempting to blow,” came the call, and then a final, even more garbled message distinguished by the number “900” at 9:17 a.m. Sonar technicians reported hearing mysterious “air rushing” noises. The...
The new Space Jam: General calls for traffic cops in crowded orbit
Defence Today, Front Lines

The new Space Jam: General calls for traffic cops in crowded orbit

  The head of United States space operations is seeking new ways to manage the traffic jam of satellites and space junk crowding the skies over Earth—and to prevent fender-benders and extraterrestrial road rage in the process. “The space domain…has become congested, contested and competitive.” Speaking at this year’s virtual Ottawa Conference on Security and Defence, Lieutenant General Stephen Whiting, commander of Space Operations Command, said humankind is entering “a second golden age of space” but, like all things human, it brings unwanted baggage along with it. “The space domain…has become congested, contested and competitive,” said Whiting, whose command is part of a new branch of the U.S. military with its sights focused on the great beyond. He told his online audien...
A harder line against China is needed
Defence Today, Eye On Defence

A harder line against China is needed

Last October, thousands of American and Japanese troops and hundreds of naval vessels from both countries held a joint landing exercise not far from Okinawa. In recent years the annual operation, Keen Sword, has become more intense and more extensive. This time, an American Nimitz-class aircraft carrier with a strike group participated. Keen Sword is part of naval preparedness operations under “The Quad,” an informal—but growing into a stable—mini-alliance of the United States, India, Japan and Australia. It was formed to counter growing Chinese naval threats to countries on the East China Sea and the South China Sea, and China’s efforts to expand its influence to island nations scattered from the Indian Ocean to the central Pacific. The United States and Australia have long had mutu...

Sign up today for a FREE download of Canada’s War Stories

Free e-book

An informative primer on Canada’s crucial role in the Normandy landing, June 6, 1944.