Front Lines

Some British millennials think Battle of Britain was Viking invasion: survey
Front Lines

Some British millennials think Battle of Britain was Viking invasion: survey

Forty-four per cent of respondents to a recent British survey had no idea what the Battle of Britain was. A third of those aged 18-24 did know what it was, but another 30 per cent admitted they had no idea about the 1940 air battle that saved the islands from Nazi occupation. Two-thirds of millennials who responded to the survey confused it with other military or political events: 12 per cent of respondents aged 18-24 believed it to be a First World War fight for supremacy over the English Channel; nine per cent said it was the civil war fought between England and Scotland in 1646; six per cent called it a Viking invasion; and three per cent said it was the 2019 general election. The survey of 2,000 Britons was commissioned by the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, whic...
Gassed up: The juice that fuelled victory in the Battle of Britain
Front Lines

Gassed up: The juice that fuelled victory in the Battle of Britain

Months before it entered the Second World War in December 1941, the United States invested heavily in the Allied cause by instituting the US$50.1-billion Lend-Lease policy, providing food and war materiel to Britain and other friendly nations. Worth nearly US$600 billion in today’s currency, the measures under what was formally known as An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States lasted the rest of the war and helped turn the tide of battle both in Europe and the Pacific. But for all the warships, tanks, jeeps and other arms and equipment it provided, it was a little-known aviation fuel—top-secret at the time—that played a critical role in delivering the war’s first victory over Hitler and his forces’ relentless advance. There is no disputing the commitment and courage of C...
Remembering the chaos of liberated Europe
Defence Today, Front Lines

Remembering the chaos of liberated Europe

Pierre Gauthier landed on D-Day with his Régiment de la Chaudière and fought through France, Belgium and into the Netherlands before a second wound ended his war. His regiment lost 58 men killed on June 6, 1944, and 248 before the fighting ended 11 months later, but among the most unsettling images that remain burned in the veteran’s mind are those of the people they had liberated turning on each other and on those who had defeated them four or five years earlier. In an interview with Legion Magazine, Gauthier, a Montreal native who enlisted in 1942 at age 17, recalled how criminals posing as French partisans moved in and terrorized liberated towns after the Canadians had left. He described how retribution killings were taken on surrendering occupiers, and how, contrary to the fam...
A soldier, a war bride, and a son
Front Lines

A soldier, a war bride, and a son

There’s something about authority that rubs Creagens the wrong way, for better or for worse. This story begins with Harry Edward Creagen, a native Irishman who fought with the 35th Battalion, 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles, during the First World War. He was captured by German forces during the Battle of Sanctuary Wood near Ypres, Belgium, in June 1916. Private Creagen, now a prisoner of war, escaped three times, only to be recaptured each time. After his third getaway, his captors forced him to stand in a rainstorm for 24 hours. It compromised his health for the rest of his days, and Harry Edward Creagen died a young man in 1930. His son, Harry Elliott Creagen, fared much better by his obstinacy: Against the army’s wishes, the combat engineer married a Japanese woman, Matsuko Mihara...
Rise in military contracting hides human, monetary costs
Front Lines

Rise in military contracting hides human, monetary costs

The United States military is spending an escalating proportion of its massive budget on contractors with little accountability for where and how the money is spent, says a new report. The practice opens doors to overspending and corruption and hides war’s true costs, both monetary and human, says the report from Brown’s University’s Costs of War project, based in Providence, Rhode Island. The Pentagon handed contractors US$370 billion last year alone—more than half the total U.S. defence budget of $676 billion and a whopping 164 per cent more than it spent in 2001 when it launched the post-9/11 war on terror, says the document written by Heidi Peltier, a project director. Contractors engineer and manufacture equipment, build and repair infrastructure around the world, provide ser...
Prairie boys tossed at sea in WW II’s longest battle
Front Lines

Prairie boys tossed at sea in WW II’s longest battle

It’s an odd twist to the story of the Second World War that many of those who fought its longest battle, the Battle of the Atlantic, were Prairie boys who left their landlocked homes and put to sea aboard small ships in some of the world’s most storm-tossed waters. The soothing waves of Prairie wheat rippling across the flatlands that bridge the country east to west bore little of the anger, isolation or dangers that Poseidon brought down on the lumbering convoys of the Second World War. The miseries wrought by the sea don’t begin to address the lingering death that lurked beneath the waves, ever-present in the form of German Admiral Karl Dönitz’s wolf packs. “What a miserable, rotten hopeless life,” Leading Seaman Frank Curry of Winnipeg wrote in mid-Atlantic on Aug. 30, 1941. A ...
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