Remembrance

Survivors in turmoil
Pictorial, Remembrance

Survivors in turmoil

Six years of war in continental Europe was drawing to a close but for many, if not most, victory was bittersweet—and defeat was devastating. Up to 40 million people in Europe were dead, the vast majority of them non-combatants, and as many as 11 million refugees wandered the wasted landscape. Entire cities were in ruin, infrastructure had been destroyed and governments dissolved. Retribution for the death and suffering imposed by Hitler’s legions and their collaborators was foremost in the minds of some.
History repeats
Pictorial, Remembrance

History repeats

There are two certainties in war: death and suffering. Flag-raisings might be another. Flags declare victory, as Red Army troops did (below) in raising the Hammer and Sickle over the Reichstag in Berlin on May 2, 1945. The flag, originally symbolizing the alliance of workers and peasants, was used in the Second World War as a sign of resistance against Nazism. This staged and altered photograph was composed at the request of Soviet premier Josef Stalin in the wake of the famous Joe Rosenthal photo of American Marines raising the U.S. flag on Iwo Jima, Japan, a few months previous. Like the Iwo Jima flag-raising (which was not staged), the Hammer and Sickle picture was used as propaganda, to send a message, inspire and reassure soldiers and the populace at large that the good fight was b...
Pride & dignity
Remembrance

Pride & dignity

The Second World War is never far from the heart and mind of 97-year-old veteran Bill Anderson, whose 5th Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, landed in Normandy on D-Day +6 and fought its way through Europe and into Germany. Appointed a troop commander after the lieutenant in charge was killed, the native of Saint John, N.B., saw action in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. On Nov. 11, he was at the National War Memorial in Ottawa for the 2019 Remembrance Day ceremony. The Germans “scared the daylights out of us,” said Anderson, who will represent Ontario veterans on a pilgrimage marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands in 2020. “But I had a good group of people that I served with without injury and without injury to my men. And I’m very h...
Unsung Valour in Normandy
Military History, Remembrance

Unsung Valour in Normandy

— Illustrations by Greg Stevenson — Years ago, I was lucky to begin writing about Canadian veterans who had served in Normandy while many were still active and willing to talk about their experiences. Before each interview, I reviewed each veteran’s unit war diary and other documents so I could ask detailed questions. Most of the veterans had never been asked to recall events in such detail before, but were anxious to have their stories and those of their comrades told. Over the course of follow-up interviews, I forged relationships and, in some cases, sincere friendships with many of these heroes. Here are the stories of some of the lesser-known veterans of the June 1944 invasion of Normandy. When I met Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon Brown at his home in Red Deer, Alta., he agreed to...
Dutch gratitude
Pilgrimages, Remembrance

Dutch gratitude

Holland’s appreciation of Canada abounds as the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands approaches   The Netherlands was a neutral country when the Second World War broke out on Sept. 1, 1939, with Germany’s invasion of Poland. However, Germany invaded the Netherlands on May 10, 1940, pulling the country into the war. By May 17, it was under German occupation. The next five years were brutal for the Dutch people. The south was liberated by the end of 1944, but the rest of the country not until the first months of 1945, and not completely until German forces surrendered on May 5, 1945. Canadian airmen, sailors and soldiers played a major role in the liberation of Holland and, to this day, the Dutch people gratefully remember their sacrifices. This gratitude and ...
Bells of peace
News, Remembrance

Bells of peace

At sundown on Nov. 11, communities across Canada marked the Armistice centenary with 100 tolls   They came from small towns and big cities, villages and farms, east and west, north and south—619,636 volunteers and conscripts, two-thirds of whom served overseas during the First World War. More than 66,000 were killed and 172,000 wounded in places like Ypres, the Somme, Passchendaele, Vimy Ridge. The place names are part of the lexicon of Canadian history, but they also died in faraway Egypt, Palestine, Gallipoli and on the Dvina River in northern Russia. At home, it was a sombre time as sons and brothers and fathers—daughters, sisters and mothers, too—enlisted and served overseas, so many never to return. Across Great Britain from 1914 to 1918, regulations introduced under the...

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