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100th anniversary of No.2 Construction Battalion

Post by Guest on Mon 27 Jun 2016, 16:19

100th anniversary of No.2 Construction Battalion.

June 27, 2016 - 1:26pm

Why are we commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the No.2 Construction Battalion (Bn)? What is this Bn? For I have never heard of it. Well, let me tell you why, as well as provide some context as to why we are all commemorating and celebrating this unique Unit that is a part of our rich Canadian military history.

“Nothing is to be gained by blinking facts. The civilized negro is vain and imitative; in Canada he is not being impelled to enlist by a high sense of duty; in the trenches he is not likely to make a good fighter; and the average white man will not associate with him on terms of equality. Not a single commanding officer in Military District No. 2 is willing to accept a coloured platoon as part of his battalion (H.Q. 297-1-29); and it would be humiliating to the coloured men themselves to serve in a battalion where they were not wanted. In France, in the firing line, there is no place for a black battalion, C.E.F. It would be eyed askance; it would crowd out a white battalion; and it would be difficult to re-inforce.” These were the words of MGen W. Gwatkin; the Chief of the General Staff, in a memo dated 13 April 1916 to the senior leadership of the Cdn military with respect to his feelings regarding blacks serving in the Canadian Army (CA).

Speed forward through the last 100 years, and all of us currently serving in the CAF, or recently retired, know that the CA is a vastly different Army from that of the First World War. When the First World War broke out, many believed the war would be over in a matter of months. However, that did not turn out to be the case. Many blacks from across Canada, especially those residing in Nova Scotia, attempted to join the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF). Even though the CEF and Cdn government did not have any official or institutionalized regulations or legislation that prevented blacks from enlisting, overwhelmingly many were prevented from doing so. This was primarily due to both the CEF and Cdn government leaving the selection and or rejection of any volunteers entirely up to the Commanding Officer (CO) of each Unit. Thus allowing the social and racial biases and prejudges of those very same COs to go unchallenged by the Cdn military and the government of the day. Since the majority of the COs of Army Units were rejecting blacks, the only other option available for blacks was to serve in segregated Units, which the Chief of the General Staff stated would not happen. Things were even worse for blacks if they wanted to enlist in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), for these elements of the Cdn military did have institutionalized racism. The RCN required personnel to be of “pure European descent of the white race” before an application would even be accepted. This was official policy until 1943. The RCAF required: “All candidates must be British subjects and of pure European descent: They must be sons of parents both of whom are (or, if deceased, were at the time of death) British subjects or nationalized British subjects. Where there is doubt of nationality or descent, the burden of proof will rest with the candidate.” This too was official policy until the Second World War. So, 100 years ago, if you were a black man in Canada wanting to serve your country in the Great War, the CA was the only element you could serve in; as remote a possibility as it was. But why was it like this? Simply put, it was unbridled racism and the social tenets of the day. Blacks suffered from some despicable social tenets of the day. Examples being:

Scientific opinions from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s stating that blacks were inferior to whites;
Socially accepted racial stereotypes;
European attitudes towards the subjects in their colonies; that being, white Europeans were superior to those races they governed;
American historical and social attitudes towards blacks and other non-white races;
The War (First World War) was perceived as being “a white man’s war.”;
“Killing Germans was the privilege of white troops.”;
Should non-whites enlist and fight on the front lines, it may give them “a taste of killing white men” and “serve as appetizer” for more; and
The majority of European whites objected to the possibility of being subjugated “to the horrors of Black authority.”
100 years on and all of the CAF and Cdn society look back and is bewildered and yes, even ashamed that any Cdn held these views and attitudes. So, what brought about this change for the CA and the rest of the CAF? In one word, tenacity! The tenacity of the brave men and women throughout Cdn society, both black and white, that believed that blacks were equally capable as any white soldiers. That blacks had every right to serve Canada, to fight for Canada, and yes, to die for Canada. However, that was only the first step in a very long journey to the CAF of today. First blacks had to prove themselves, and that opportunity came through the formation of the No.2 Construction Bn in Pictou, Nova Scotia on July 5, 1916. To quote Robert Frost: “Do not follow where the path may lead...Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”


This is precisely what the men of the No.2 Construction Bn did. Not just for themselves and others of their time, but for future generations as well. They forged ahead to find a way around, over, through or under the obstacles that white society at the time had placed before them. More importantly, they used every setback as an opportunity to learn from it and apply that knowledge and wisdom to overcoming future setbacks. It was their belief in themselves and each other. They refused to be defined and limited by others. They refused to be victims of their circumstances.

One hundred years ago, forging ahead meant you as a black man, were fighting an unending deluge of negative stereotypes. That the majority of white Canada and its military, at the time, thought you were only useful as manual labourers, and not capable of much, much more. You worked considerably longer and harder to be acknowledge as a man, yet still not considered equal. You were subjected to harassment of all types; however, were expected to endure it all in silence and without responding in kind. In death, your grave would be segregated from your white brothers-in-arms within various cemeteries, as were the veterans of the No.2 Construction Bn in the Camp Hill Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The vast majority of your contributions to the Great War, to Cdn military history and to Canada would go unrecognized.

Time would begin to erase the oral history, and white Canada would fail to capture the majority of it before it was lost. Even after a hundred years, most Cdns and members of the CAF would know almost nothing of your contributions and sacrifices, nor study and learn it. The men of the No.2 Construction Bn undeniably paved the way forward and advanced equality and justice for all blacks, visible minorities and First Nations people within today’s CAF through their sacrifice, suffering and struggle. For that, all Cdns should be beholding. Come July 9, 2016, there will be a host of all CAF members, Nova Scotians, Cdns of all races, ethnicity and creeds that will stand together in Pictou, Nova Scotia to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the No.2 Construction Bn. All of us will stand tall and proud of how far we as a military and a society have evolved over the last 100 years.

The event will start at 10:30 a.m. with an Honour Parade made up of serving and past CAF members, RCMP members and Cadets. There will be a number of static displays for all to enjoy. Recruiters will be present to address any questions from the general public, should they be interested in joining the CAF. And of course there will be the main ceremony itself starting at 11 a.m. It will consist of the laying of wreaths, a speech by the keynote speaker and a number of addresses made by several important dignitaries and a number of presentations. The conclusion will be near 1:15 p.m. This event is expected to be attended by the Lt Governor of Nova Scotia, the Premier of Nova Scotia, and a number of important dignitaries, both from within the CAF and the communities.

http://thechronicleherald.ca/other/1375789-100th-anniversary-of-no.2-construction-battalion

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A poignant return to Beaumont-Hamel

Post by Guest on Mon 27 Jun 2016, 06:00

A poignant return to Beaumont-Hamel.

June 26, 2016

By C. L. McNutt

July 1, 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of The Battle of Beaumont-Hamel. Coinciding with Canada’s national birthday, July 1 represents one of the bleakest days in Newfoundland history.

It was on this date in 1916, on the French battlefield at Beaumont-Hamel, that over 800 members of the Newfoundland Regiment left their trenches and were ordered ‘over the top’ toward German lines. Of those 800 men, only 68 answered roll call the following day.

The young men who fought at Beaumont-Hamel came from every corner of the Dominion of Newfoundland. In terms of population, the Dominion was small and as a result, few, if any families, were left untouched by this tragedy. For people growing up in Newfoundland, the fate of this regiment is a part of history that will never be forgotten. The beautiful forget-me-not has become the flower of remembrance for those who fought in this battle. Every year, on July 1, commemorative services are held across the province to honour these brave men. Interspersed with the celebratory mood of Canada Day, these memorials serve as a sad reminder of the sacrifices made by others for the privilege of the freedom our country enjoys today.

On July 7, 1925, a war memorial was set up in the exact location where the Newfoundland Regiment fought. Officially known as The Newfoundland Battlefield Memorial Park, it is often referred to as simply Newfoundland Park. The site features a life-size caribou which is the emblem of the Newfoundland Regiment. A brass plaque at the entrance to the park reads: “The park embraces the ground over which Newfoundlanders fought and was purchased from funds subscribed by the government and women of Newfoundland.”

This memorial site serves as a place of commemoration and remembrance for those who visit but to Dr. Karen Ewing, a family physician living in rural Nova Scotia, Newfoundland Park also became a place of inspiration. While there in 1999, to pay tribute to her great uncle Arthur Stanley Thomas, a member of the Newfoundland Regiment who fought in the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel, the experience proved to be life-changing. As described by Ewing, “We had come to The Western Front to visit war graves. I knew this, but I was not prepared. I stood surrounded by the wrenching epitaphs of hundreds of young Newfoundlanders, and looking out in every direction, more cemeteries, more Newfoundlanders. I realized only then the enormity of the sacrifice. Few experiences reach the level of the soul. I believe this did. It was at this moment that a path to the creation of the Veterans Memorial Park was established. An answer to the silent pleas of loved ones, written here in stone, and to the souls of men whispering, ‘Forget me not’.”

Upon her return to Canada, Dr. Ewing began her journey. After years of planning and acquiring government funding, The Cobequid Veterans Memorial Park, as it is officially known, was created. Designed by Ewing and with the help of the hard-working and dedicated members of the community, the park opened in 2008. This park is unique in its design, its purpose and its scope. Located in rural Nova Scotia, near the shores of the Bay of Fundy’s historic tides, the sculptured gardens of the park are a ‘living memorial’ to those who served and continue to serve in Canada’s Armed Forces. The gardens, which take the form of a Celtic flower, consist of three interlocking sections: The Garden of Sorrows designed as a WWI trench; The Garden of Remembrance, a heritage garden and The Garden of Hope, a colourful and vibrant garden with plants from all over the world. The Park’s mission is one of education, remembrance and peace.

The Veterans Memorial Park features monuments dedicated to members of the Canadian Military, Peacekeepers, Merchant Mariners, the Forgotten Heroes (animals of military and police service) and the most recent addition to the park, The Broken, a monument created to commemorate those suffering from PTSD and those who have gone on to suicide. Each year, the park hosts three services of remembrance: The Holocaust Memorial Service, The International Day of UN Peacekeeping and the Remembrance Day service.

Since its creation, the park has grown in stature and has gained a national reputation. In 2013, the park had the honour of being named the winner of the 2013 edition of the Gardens of Remembrance program by Communities in Bloom. In addition to this, the park’s creator has been given two prestigious awards. In 2015, Dr. Ewing was presented The Outstanding Service Award from the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association. This was the first time this award was given for commemoration and recognition. Also, in 2015, she received The Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation. For more about the park, visit www.veteranmemorialpark.com.

On July 1, 2016, Dr. Ewing will be returning to France to attend the 100th anniversary of The Battle of Beaumont-Hamel. She is extremely honoured to be part of the Canadian Delegation attending the service. At the reception prior to the ceremony, she will present a commemorative plaque to The Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs, Canada. This plaque, entitled simply ‘Ours’, features a poppy; the red petals formed by the names of the members of the Newfoundland Regiment who were missing, injured or died in this battle; the black centre formed by the names of those who answered roll call the following day. It is a powerful image reflective of the sacrifices made on that day.

The return to Beaumont-Hamel will indeed be a poignant one for Dr. Ewing. At the entrance to Newfoundland Park , she will be met by the words of John Oxenham. These very same words now grace the entrance to the Veterans Memorial Park in Bass River.

“Tread softly here, go reverently and slow and let your soul go down upon its knees and with bowed head, and heart abased, strive hard to grasp the future gain in this sore loss”.

The message is profound. As Dr. Ewing so eloquently says, “These words can be spoken as loudly and as fervently today as they were 100 years ago. The sacrifices continue as humanity seems to choose the sanguineous path to peace. I will be there at Beaumont-Hamel on July 1 to remember the Newfoundlanders and all soldiers who fought in ‘the war to end all wars’ and to continue their work for peace. There is no voice louder calling for peace than that of the souls of these men if we choose to listen. We need to be there and we needto listen.”

http://www.trurodaily.com/Living/People/2016-06-26/article-4571488/A-poignant-return-to-Beaumont-Hamel/1

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Edmonton-based 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron marks 75 years as it prepares for possible Iraq deployment

Post by Guest on Mon 27 Jun 2016, 05:53

Edmonton-based 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron marks 75 years as it prepares for possible Iraq deployment.

June 26, 2016 7:01 PM MDT

Like many of Canada’s air force units, the early years for 408 Squadron were a difficult and deadly trial by fire.

Alfred Ellis was part of it, working long hours in English airfield hangars to fix up Halifax and Lancaster bombers that had returned from runs over Europe.

“There were a lot of disasters. Planes coming back short of fuel, or shot up and that,” Ellis recalled of his 1943-45 experience. “There was one situation where a plane crashed into a meadow and killed seven cows. One came back with 52 holes in it. Another one came back with a hole blown in the wing that must have been eight feet in diameter.”

By the end of the Second World War, the squadron had collectively flown more than 4,600 sorties, while suffering 936 casualties.

Today, at age 93, Ellis is one of the few remaining veterans from that era who can tell the stories of the squadron’s early days of bravery and sacrifice.

On Sunday, he was on hand at the Edmonton Garrison to do just that as his former squadron — now renamed the 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron — concluded three days of celebrations to mark its 75th anniversary.

The event included marches conducted by current members of the squadron, along with a group of about 20 veterans and old guard, including Ellis. O Canada was played, followed by a fly past of four Griffon helicopters — the squadron’s current aircraft — in diamond formation.

“Anniversaries are a time for us to connect with our history, and history inspires for what we have to do in the future,” 1 Wing Commander Col. Scott Clancy told about 200 people gathered on the tarmac outside Hangar No. 2.

He remarked on some of the squadron’s accomplishments as it underwent different homes, assignments and aircraft types since Ellis’ time.

In addition to its work photographing and mapping much of Canada’s North, the squadron has deployed to a number of war zones. Most recently, it played a pivotal role in Afghanistan, operating Chinook and Griffon helicopters that kept Canadian troops off roads laden with improvised explosive devices.

The unit has also assisted in the response to various natural disasters around the world, including last month’s Fort McMurray wildfire.

Despite all the changes over the decades, the squadron has maintained its original patch, a Canada goose, which was championed by the unit’s first commander, Nelles Timmerman.

Timmerman was also responsible for the squadron’s motto: For Freedom.

“When asked why that motto, (Timmerman) answered with a simple question,” Clancy told the crowd. “Why are we here?”

Clancy said that remains good advice for the current members of the squadron, which has just been placed in a state of high readiness for a potential deployment to Iraq in January.

Lt.-Col. Trevor Teller, the current commander of 408, said the details of any mission are still being determined.

“But I see it being as very much as we did in Afghanistan,” he said. “Supporting the ground forces. Command and liaison. Enabling movement over great distances and avoiding the danger that is obviously on the ground.”

As for Ellis, who followed his time in the military with careers raising tropical fish and restoring antique cars, he said he is proud to be part of a unit that continues to do important and dangerous work on Canada’s behalf.

“I pray for them,” he said, staring at a black-and-white 1943 picture of himself sitting atop a Halifax bomber surrounded by other mechanics. “Keep it up.”

http://edmontonjournal.com/news/local-news/edmonton-based-408-tactical-helicopter-squadron-marks-75-years-as-it-prepares-for-possible-iraq-deployment

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A final salute to pair of War of 1812 veterans at Markham's Buttonville Cemetery

Post by Guest on Mon 27 Jun 2016, 05:46

A final salute to pair of War of 1812 veterans at Markham's Buttonville Cemetery.

It took a little more than two centuries but two war veterans received a final salute Saturday morning.
Major John Button and his son, Francis, received Ontario Historical Society plaques at their gravesites in Buttonville Cemetery marking their contributions to the War of 1812.
A modest-sized gathering, including descendants of the two men, learned how John Button formed the future Canada’s initial cavalry loyal to the British for the War of 1812 and helped repel invasions by the United States. Both had shields affixed to their tombstones to officially recognize their contributions to the war effort.
The modern-day honour is part of the federal government’s War of 1812 Graveside Recognition project to commemorate participants in past conflicts.
Fought from 1812 to 1815, the War of 1812 was between American colonies and United Kingdom. As a loyal part of the UK, Canada was subject to several invasions from the United States during the period.
Button purchased 200 acres of land in the area and moved to what is now Buttonville from the Niagara Region in 1801.

As discontent and acts of aggression toward the British started to grow, Button is credited with organizing the first militia in 1810 at the request of General Isaac Brock. Known as the 1st Regiment of York Militia and later as the 1st York Light Dragoon Troop, the unit now stands as the Governor General’s Horse Guard Calvary Squadron and is based in Toronto.
Among other duties, the Troops of Markham, as the unit was also known, served as couriers between officers stationed across Upper Canada. It is recognized as the oldest regiment in the Canadian militia and served as an important and effective deterrent to American forces.
“It is an honour and remembrance today for John and Frank Button,” said Jo Ann Munro Tuskin UE (United Empire Loyalist), prior to the dedication of plaques on the tombstones of her great-grandfather four times removed and his son. “They are not just names on a tombstone. They are names connected to you and me. We see what can be achieved with vision and commitment and carry on that vision today.
“This makes history it personal and now we have a real connection.”
Francis Button was 18 in 1812 and served in the unit, later to receive the commission of colonel and he ultimately became mayor of Buttonville.
“Two hundred years of peace is what we have been celebrating,” said Tuskin, whose son Pat, and grandchildren were in attendance. “This was the last war fought on Canadian soil.
“Every family in Canada came from somewhere else but we all work together to make a really great country and this acknowledges our contribution as a family.”
The audience included six members of the modern-day version of the brigade, including two mounted representatives, of the Governor General’s Horse Guard Calvary Squadron.
“It is 206 years later and today we have shared history and lineage,” said Captain Andrew Zeitoun. “We have never forgotten and are thrilled to take part.”
Participation in the War of 1812 has been recognized as an important early point in a growing sense of a national identity in Canada.
“I daresay our country would look a lot different today if it even existed but for the efforts of people like John and Francis Button,” said Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti to the assembled audience. “We salute them today and remember them. They are great heroes in our community and part of our nation-building.”
The regiment also was active in the Upper Canada Rebellion (1837) and Fenian Raids (1867).

http://www.yorkregion.com/community-story/6741235-a-final-salute-to-pair-of-war-of-1812-veterans-at-markham-s-buttonville-cemetery/

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First World War veteran first fatality on southern canal section

Post by Guest on Sat 18 Jun 2016, 06:21

First World War veteran first fatality on southern canal section.

June 17, 2016 8:57:22 EDT PM

Even a soft summer breeze would have picked up the music and carried it across Welland’s Smith Street Cemetery, breaking the silence during the somber Sunday afternoon on Aug. 17, 1924.
The songs being played by the 98th Regimental Band were a signal that the military funeral for William Charles Douglas was coming to an end.
In one final gesture of respect, the band members completed their selections, then one by one stepped forward to place poppies on the flag-draped casket of their friend and fellow musician who had served overseas with them during the First World War.
Two days earlier, Douglas, 32, had become the first fatality of the Port Colborne phase of construction. He was killed in the early hours of Friday, Aug. 15, while working for the Northern Construction Co. on Section 8 of the Welland Ship Canal.
There was a huge outpouring of respect for Douglas by the local community. He and his wife, Annie, had lived in Welland since 1915. They had three young children, Joyce, 10, Raymond, 7, and Helen, 3.
Douglas was well known in the city for his military service as well as his musical interests, which included singing in the choir at Holy Trinity Anglican Church. The Welland Tribune & Telegraph reported as many as 700 people “from all walks of life,” attended the funeral, making it one of the largest ever held there.
Douglas was a former member of the Welland police force and had been employed only a short time on the canal construction work.
He was part of a crew working overnight on Aug. 15 to prepare and lay the tracks for the construction of the railway at Section 8. He became caught between two construction cars and sustained serious internal injuries.
He succumbed to those injuries several hours after the accident.
While there are few details about the accident, one thing was clear — Douglas was hit by the cars at 2 a.m. He absorbed most of the impact on the right side of his body.
As he was carried from the scene, the watch he wore on his right arm was as motionless as his body. The hands of the watch were stopped at 2 o’clock.
It’s unclear whether an inquest into the accident was held. Within hours of the accident, The Standard reported in its Aug. 15 issue that coroner McKenzie of Port Colborne deemed an inquest unnecessary. However, coroner Davis of Welland stated “an inquest must be held as the unfortunate man met his death while employed on a public works.”
County Crown attorney Cowper was out of the town, so a ruling was delayed. The final decision on the matter is not known.
Douglas was born November 15, 1891 in Charney Bassett, Wantage, Berkshire (now Oxfordshire). Records indicate he came to Canada in 1912. Later that year, he and Annie were married in Hamilton.
Sadly, only seven years after losing their father the three young Douglas children would be left orphaned when their mother Annie died on Nov. 1, 1931.
The orphaned children were taken in by their Aunt Louie in British Columbia. Eventually, the two oldest children, Joyce and Raymond, returned to live in Ontario. Helen was the only one of the three siblings to stay in B.C.
This article is part of a series highlighting the men whose lives were lost in the construction of the Welland Ship Canal. The Welland Canal Fallen Workers Memorial Task Force is a volunteer group established to finance, design and build a memorial to recognize workers who were killed while building the Welland Ship Canal. For more information about the Memorial or to contribute to the project visit: www.stcatharines.ca/CanalWorkersMemorial

http://www.wellandtribune.ca/2016/06/17/first-world-war-veteran-first-fatality-on-southern-canal-section

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Grace in unexpected places

Post by Guest on Sat 18 Jun 2016, 06:08

Grace in unexpected places.

June 17, 2016 3:56:18 EDT PM

Grace has been defined as "unmerited favour." If that is the case, then I was the happy recipient of grace on multiple occasions during a recent tour of battlefields connected to both world wars in Belgium and France. Everywhere that our little band of two faculty members, seven students and three community members travelled, we were greeted with enthusiasm, while the sacrifices of or forbears were remembered and honoured.

We began with the tranquility of St. Symphorien Cemetery, near the Belgian city of Mons. Here we found a lovingly maintained site which, as it happens, contains the plots of the first and last soldiers killed in the Great War from 1914 to 1918. Among those whose final resting place is St. Symphorien is Pte. George Lawrence Price, the final Canadian fatality. He was felled by a sniper's bullet on Nov. 11, 1918, and his grave now sits amid the clusters of neat white markers commemorating British and Commonwealth soldiers, as well as the charcoal coloured headstone marking German war dead.

A few days later, in our new home base in France of Cambrai, we ate a delicious meal at a restaurant called La Flambée. When the taxi driver who had deposited us there a few hours earlier expressed no interest in picking us up for the short ride to our hotel at 10:30 at night, two employees - one from the kitchen, the other a server - jumped into the breach. It was the fact that it was "les canadiens" who needed a lift that appeared to tip the balance decisively in our favour that night!

When we travelled to Dieppe, we found a scenic seaside resort that was full of beautiful architecture in addition to evoking strong memories. We were stunned by the passion of Daniel Jaspart, who came in to the Mémorial de Dieppe on a day it was normally closed and regaled us with stories of the ill-fated August 1942 raid. Standing on a stage that had once received the likes of Franz Lizst and Gioachino Rossini, Jaspart spoke movingly of the young Canadians who lost their lives. For him, they were not ghosts at all, but were alive and present. His gratitude was founded on the troops' parting promise that terrible day: "We will be back!" Sure enough, on Sept. 1, 1944, a little over two years after their disastrous raid, the Canadians did return as liberators.

In Normandy, the memories lay just as thick around us. At Canada House, the home used as a reference point for soldiers in the Queen's Own Rifles on D-Day, Nicole Hoffer spoke with us for over an hour. She shared the stories of the dozens of relationships that she and her husband, Hervé, have developed with Canadian soldiers over the years and pointed out the many sacred relics that have been entrusted to them by veterans of that regiment. We were spellbound as we listened. Two nights later, we learned that the deep appreciation we had sensed was not confined to the generation who had lived through the war - or even their children.

Memory is alive and vital among the youth of the region, thanks to the work of people such as Christophe Collet, who heads up the Westlake Brothers Association. Named for three brothers from Toronto who died within days of each other following the D-Day landings in June 1944, this organization has conducted some 200 ceremonies in which young people, aged 10 to 23, read texts, recite poetry and sing songs to honour those Canadians who fought to liberate France. Our friends even went so far as to improvise roles for many of our party when we came to the unveiling of plaques recognizing the donations of Sunnybrook and Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue hospitals to the Juno Beach Centre. It was truly touching to see young people so wholeheartedly committed to remembrance.

When we journeyed to Bruges to follow the trail of the Canadians as they fought their way across Belgium in the latter stages of the Second World War, the grace continued to flow. We were given a personal tour of the excellent Polish Canadian museum in Adegem by its founder, Gilbert van Landschoot. In his rapid-fire English, sprinkled with Flemish and French, he spoke passionately about the Canadian "river rats" of September 1944 and the onerous task assigned to them (as well as Polish and British forces) of eliminating the Germans from the Breskens pocket to free the approaches to the major port of Antwerp. Then he unleashed our group on a stunning collection of artifacts - many preserved by local families as souvenirs of the boys who had so touched the hearts of the local population. Uniforms, equipment, propaganda posters, unit badges and insignia - many in pristine condition - were displayed and even the mannequins used in the recreated scenes of wartime life were created, where possible, from photographs of actual Canadians.

The impact of these two weeks on all of us was immense. We felt a natural sense of pride in the accomplishments of the Canadian troops, in defeat or in victory, whether at Mont Sorrel or Vimy, Dieppe or the Leopold Canal. But we also felt the tremendous weight of memory, a responsibility not to allow these young men and their sacrifices to fade into obscurity.

In a very real way, we were the recipients of grace - not simply because we enjoy the freedoms that were purchased in blood at Ypres, the Somme and Juno Beach but also because we bask in the genuine affection for Canadians that persists in northern France and the low countries as a result of the efforts of two generations of Canadians beginning just over a century ago. Our group left Europe with a common resolve: do whatever we can to honour those who gave everything they had for the sake of others.

http://www.brantfordexpositor.ca/2016/06/17/grace-in-unexpected-places

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Windsor's entombed history

Post by Guest on Fri 17 Jun 2016, 16:10

Windsor's entombed history.

June 17, 2016 3:00 PM EDT

Thousands of motorists whiz by St. John’s Church cemetery each day, most of them blissfully unaware of the five tree-shaded acres where the men and women who built the Windsor region have been consigned to oblivion.

The bones of an estimated 3,500 individuals, dating back as far 1793, are crammed into that small chunk of land at Brock and Sandwich Streets across from the abandoned Windsor Jail. Entombed with them, seemingly lost for all time, are their intriguing stories.

This is ground zero of our region’s epic history, last resting place of pioneers, soldiers, escaped slaves, magistrates, sheriffs, preachers, tycoons and politicians who were once household names. But it has for decades been a weed-infested and periodically vandalized reminder that we don’t care about our past.

Now that’s changing, thanks in part to a genial giant who has embraced our region’s story and is determined to see it honoured through restoration of the Sandwich church and cemetery.

“Welcome to my second home,” quipped Peter Berry, harbour master for the Windsor Port Authority and passionate Sandwich supporter as he led me between rows of time-worn headstones and told yarn after yarn about those buried below.

A barrel-chested 6 feet, four inches and 280 lb., the Moncton, N.B. native
played university football in his youth and now, at 54, finds his size especially helpful in righting overturned headstones.

Two years ago Berry learned that groundskeeper Larry McLaren was facing hip surgery. He offered to help out with grass cutting. Riding a tractor, he became intrigued with the headstones and the stories behind them.

Above all, he became fixated on honouring the many war veterans buried there.

A former police officer and security consultant, he served in Kosovo in 1994 as a Canadian customs officer, teaching border security, and came back with both immense respect for the Canadian military and a case of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) from the atrocities he witnessed.

Now he’s spearheading a campaign to preserve and enhance the historic church and cemetery and erect a monument recognizing veterans buried there.

They started with 15 names of veterans. Now, in what has become an amateur archeological dig to uncover (courtesy of an iron probe) headstones long hidden beneath thick turf, they are closing in on 80 names.

And what a list it is. It includes Sgt. William Lees who served under the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. It includes a veteran of the Battle of Bunker Hill in the American Revolutionary War.

One well-preserved stone, from 1903, is that of Frederick Bouteiller, a warden of Essex County who fought at the Battle of Gettysburg in the U.S. Civil War as a captain in the 5th Michigan Infantry.

Some headstones are reminders of the fickleness of fate. Charles Lemon, age 23, had the top of his head sheered off by shrapnel with serving in the First World War trenches with the 16th Canadian Infantry. He survived that horrifying wound, had a stainless steel cap attached to his skull and was shipped home. Weeks later, he was struck by a hit-and-run driver in Detroit and killed.

Then there’s the sad story of Louis Porter. A U.S. Army corporal in the Korean War, he came back in one piece but was killed in 1963 by a bolt of lightning while fishing at the foot of Brock Street. “When your number is there, it’s there,” said Berry.

The cemetery includes graves of local men who fought alongside British regulars in the War of 1812 as members of the “buckskin militia.” John Laughton was captured by the Americans at the Battle of Lundy’s Lane in 1814 but lived to the ripe age of 90.

Bottom line? This cemetery is a historic marvel and a key piece of the Sandwich revitalization puzzle.

Berry and a handful of supporters, including church historian Bill Jones, face an uphill struggle with little money and too few helping hands. Volunteers and donations are desperately needed for this worthy cause.

http://windsorstar.com/opinion/columnists/henderson-windsors-entombed-history

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Plans to Honour Canadians Who Served In US Civil War

Post by Guest on Thu 16 Jun 2016, 11:42

Plans to Honour Canadians Who Served In US Civil War.

News - June 15, 2016 Edition

LONG SAULT —

There is a part of the history of Canada that most Canadians know virtually nothing about. It is rarely, if ever, mentioned in any history books.

“Over 40,000 Canadians served in the American Civil War,” said Jim Brownell, former MPP, historian and president of the Lost Villages Historical Society. “Canadians even won the American Congressional Medal of Honour for their courage in the conflict. Yet there is no memorial anywhere in Canada to these 40,000 countrymen.”

According to Brownell and the other members of a group dedicated to raising a memorial to the Canadian veterans of the Civil War, the actions of those soldiers also led directly, in 1867, to the creation of the nation of Canada.

The Grays and Blues of Montreal, president Rob McLachlan, and the Lost Villages Historical Society, president Jim Brownell, are spearheading an effort to formally recognize Canadians who served 1860-65.

The group gathered at the Lost Villages Museum to officially launch “a major campaign, June 11, 2016, on GoFundMe, to raise money to erect a National Canadian War Monument here in South Stormont’s oldest park, to honour those 40,000 Canadians,” Brownell said.

The American Civil War, 1860-65, which split the nation between the Confederate States of America (South) and the United States of America (North), had a deeply profound effect on the future of Canada, according to author and historian John Boyko, in his book, Blood and Daring.

Boyko contends that the events of the Civil War, and the fact that 40,000 Canadians served in that conflict, are a direct cause of Sir John A Macdonald’s efforts to bring the nation of Canada into existence.

It was neither an accident nor a coincidence that four separate provinces bound themselves to found this nation in 1867.

Interestingly, at the start of the Civil War, Canada had followed Britain’s lead, despite Canadians’ loathing for slavery, in supporting the South. This was partially because the huge British manufacturing industry feared the loss of Southern cotton, and partially because England, no particular friend of the States after 1812, saw political opportunities in a US broken up and weak.

However, most Canadians who served, ultimately did so on the side of the North.

As the war neared its end, it became very clear that the North was going to win.

There were many politicians in the American government who bluntly stated that with a million men in uniform in 1865, the US should now follow through on its “manifest destiny,” invade and take Canada.

Macdonald and the Fathers of Confederation did not miss the message. The drive to unite Canada as one nation began immediately.

Brendan Bronzan, digital curator and designer of the GoFundMe website, up and running as of June 11 at 1 p.m., emphasized the importance of the memorial.

“At the War’s end, Canadians were mustered out of the Armies,” he said. “Basically, the attitude was ‘collect your pay and on your way.’ (Those Canadians lost in battle generally were never found: most were anonymously buried.) The survivors returned home to Canada: many of them actually came to the United Counties, and there are records of those who settled in several of the Lost Villages. Their descendants have spread across this area, across Canada and world wide.

We really hope that these descendants will support this memorial on behalf of their soldier ancestors.”

The proposed memorial would contain a 12 foot obelisk on a two foot base. The designs on it are still in the planning stage.

On either side of the obelisk would be two walls, each six to eight feet long. On one wall would be featured the names of the Canadian born Medal of Honour winners and other prominent individuals who fought for either side.

The other wall would list the names of donors of $400 or more. Engraved bricks, with the name of a Civil War ancestor can also be purchased for placement in a pathway surrounding the memorial.

It is estimated that the National Canadian War Monument will cost at least $40,000 with a dedication date in 2017 anticipated.

“It works out to one dollar for every veteran who served in the American Civil War,” Bronzan said.

http://www.morrisburgleader.ca/news/2016/06/15/plans-to-honour-canadians-who-served-in-us-civil-war/

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The invasion of Canada: Looking back at the Fenian attack at Ridgeway

Post by Guest on Wed 15 Jun 2016, 10:00

The invasion of Canada: Looking back at the Fenian attack at Ridgeway.

On June 1, 1866, under cover of darkness, some 800 Fenian soldiers, most of them Civil War and Irish veterans, crossed the Niagara River near Fort Erie and prepared to make war against Britain on Canadian soil.

Such an invasion had been rumoured for some time. Indeed, the Fenian palaver was loud and frightening to Canadians along the border. At the same time newspapers were providing news of Fenian plans and Canadian government strategies. Indeed, the Fenians were perhaps at their best in making news with their conferences, military plans, and bravado. Newspapers and governments on both sides of the border were on the alert for an actual raid.

Who were the Fenians? Founded in 1858, the Dublin committee was known as 'the Irish Republican Brotherhood' and its New York wing was called 'the Fenian Brotherhood.' The Dublin branch had as its goal the long-standing desire to take back the control of Ireland from the English while the Brotherhood set their sights on attacking the English in British North America. The IRA, which we all remember, was a direct descendant.

In Ireland the IRB had made some small inroads but had never succeeded in their radical goals. In America, however, where so many Irish had immigrated in the wake of the potato famines, there were fractious wings of Irish (without strong nationalist goals) and there were the Fenians committed to making the English pay in some significant way for their long-standing abuses of the Irish and Irish freedom. That passion--for passion it was--took the form of using military force to kick the English out of Canada. As the Fenians saw it, they would liberate Canadians so that they could enjoy freedom American style; indeed, they would give their northern neighbours the opportunity to be annexed into the Great Republic to the south. With Confederation in the air in 1866, some colonial Canadians saw the Fenian opportunity as a valid option. Invasion was a blind and foolish passion.

The Battle of Ridgeway was the only successful invasion of Canadian territory after the War of 1812. It came at a time of great uncertainty for Canada. South of the border the Civil War was over and large numbers of soldiers, many of them Irish, were at loose ends in border cities like Buffalo and Cleveland. Confederation was far from a sure thing, especially given New Brunswick's sudden change of government and its related unwillingness to join Canada East, Canada West and Nova Scotia.

The Battle or Invasion of Ridgeway took place from June 1-3 and transfixed attention, especially in Canada. Would there be further incursions? And was the American government, especially under William Seward, an annexationist Secretary of State, ready to support a move against Canada? To catch something of the high anxiety and fears of the time is to wonder how and why so few Canadians today know so little about the Battle of Ridgeway and its consequences.

Such questions led me last week to Fort Erie for the Sesquicentennial of the Battle of Ridgeway and a conference on its history, myths and consequences. It was a small but serious event attended by about 70 academic historians and local history buffs. My interest, I confess, had to do with both the Battle itself and the involvement of James McCarroll, then a well-known Canadian writer who had suddenly become a Fenian in 1866. In the 1830s and '40s he had been a citizen of Peterborough and was the editor and owner of the Peterboro Chronicle. His Ridgeway: An Historical Romance of the Fenian Invasion of Canada was published in Buffalo in 1868.

The Battle itself was short-lived. On the morning of June 2 General John O'Neill, a distinguished Civil War veteran who had marched his Fenian force inland, engaged in a confrontation against a rag-tag collection of Canadian militia men near the ridge called Ridgeway. O'Neill's well-organized forces killed several Canadians, many of them University of Toronto students who had little training in shooting rifles. The Canadian troops had arrived by train from Hamilton (the Thirteenth Battalion) and Toronto (The Queen's Own Regiment), but neither were well-trained, well-equipped, or well-led.

Later, however, O'Neill's men were pursued by Canadian reinforcements who forced them to retreat toward Fort Erie. The Fenians were expecting their own reinforcements, but they never arrived. Cold, hungry, and uneasy in their situation, the invaders awaited word from headquarters. No support came but, by many reports, the Fenians behaved well (as invaders) under the circumstances. The final result soon became inevitable. Hating to retreat, O'Neill ordered his men to board a skow on the Niagara River where their passage was interrupted by the American warship, the Michigan, which had been anchored in Buffalo. The Fenians were arrested for violating neutrality laws.

Seen at a distance, the Fenian fiasco can seem more comic opera than important military action. Deaths there were to be sure, and there were losses and fears aplenty. And there were many failures of leadership. But when one cuts through the Fenian rhetoric, it is difficult to imagine a more unlikely invasion. Yet those same Fenians were busy along the Canadian border and came close to making inroads in both Calais, Maine and St. Albans, Vermont. Most importantly, the invasion awoke Canadians to the insecurity of their border and the imminent need to create a northern commonwealth that would remain British in spirit.

As Peter Vronsky has argued, Ridgeway was "the 1866 Battle That Made Canada." His book by that title (2011) offers an excellent depiction of the issues involved and makes the case for Canada's pragmatic response to its rude awakening Not only were our military inadequacies exposed, but the country was charged up by the spirited defense of the border put up by the volunteers who rushed to Ridgeway.

It was the Fenians who forced Canada to begin its own spy agency and to infiltrate the ranks of those cocky Irishmen who were so ready to rescue the Canadian colonies from Confederation. And it was the Fenians who so nearly embarrassed John A. Macdonald; in 1866 he was both the Attorney-General and the minister in charge of the Militia for Canada West--hence the man responsible for our ineffective militia units. And it was the Fenians who plotted to kill D'Arcy McGee.

In 1868 their success in that dark plot led to the only assassination of an active politician in Canada. McGee has been a strong vocal opponent of the entire Fenian campaign.

http://www.thepeterboroughexaminer.com/2016/06/15/the-invasion-of-canada-looking-back-at-the-fenian-attack-at-ridgeway

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Remembering D-Day aboard HMCS Haida

Post by Guest on Mon 13 Jun 2016, 05:46

Hamilton Spectator
By Natalie Paddon
Rose Daikens's first trip to the HMCS Haida was full of pomp and circumstance.

The 93-year-old — who was part of the first draft of the Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service — was piped on-board the world's last tribal class destroyer as part of D-Day commemorations Saturday.

Originally from Oakville but now living in Kitchener, Daikens reminisced about her time as part of the Wrens, which she joined in 1942.

"It was the greatest time of my life," she said of her service during the Second World War. "It was something, when I look back on, I'm so glad I did it."

But her parents didn't feel the same.

They didn't want her to join, she noted, because they had lost loved ones — including her grandfather — in the First World War.

Canada's military heritage, during the Second World War, in particular, and contributions made by the Royal Canadian Navy's "fightingest" ship during D-Day were the focus of activities at the national historic site over the weekend.

Haida's role in D-Day was "integral," said Sarah Simpson, who works in visitor experience at the HMCS Haida National Historic Site in Hamilton.

On June 6, 1944, the ship was stationed further back in the English Channel in anticipation of the German fleet coming from around back, but on June 9, Haida saw "lots of action," Simpson said.

"Together with their patrol group they sunk two destroyers and the other two ran off with their tails between their legs," she added.

There are fewer and fewer Second World War veterans, so it's a priority for those at the Haida to capture the stories of these survivors to share them with future generations, Simpson said.

"When you speak to the volunteers and veterans, oftentimes what they say to us is: 'I'm telling this story, but it's yours. Please use it. Please pass it along. My memories are memories of Canada,'" she said.

Having this personal history to share with visitors helps them connect to the site as Canadians, she added.

"We're acting as the intermediaries of the veterans and the future generations," Simpson said about staff at the Haida. "It's our job to safeguard their stories and pass them on."

Simpson said they decided to mark D-Day this weekend because the annual Battle of Stoney Creek re-enactment was held the first weekend in June and they didn't want people to be divided between the events.

As part of the weekend commemoration, people could take guided tours of the Haida, including visiting its sonar control room, hearing its sirenette sound and checking out chart tables, housed in what would have been the most important space on the ship during D-Day.

This is because four to six of the highest-ranked men on the Haida would have been in there, collecting data and plotting on maps, said tour guide Jonathan Schultz.

They had to track the location of allied ships at all times, he added.

An average of 250 men would have been on board the Haida at any given time, plus an additional 18 officers on top of that, Schultz said.

http://www.thespec.com/news-story/6719421-remembering-d-day-aboard-hmcs-haida/

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Grays and Blues add a splash of colour to Lost Villages

Post by Guest on Sun 12 Jun 2016, 17:41

By Kathleen Hay

LONG SAULT, Ontario – A renowned military re-enactment organization and a local heritage site have joined forces to preserve the memory of thousands of soldiers.

Launched Saturday at the Lost Villages Museum, the Grays and Blues of Montreal and the Lost Villages Historical Society, unveiled an exciting campaign to raise $40,000 to erect a monument on the museum grounds dedicated to the 40,000 Canadian soldiers who fought during the American Civil War (1861-65).

The proposed 14-ft, black granite monument is anticipated to be completed by September, 2017, during Canada’s 150th birthday and approximately 150 years after the war ended.

Rob McLachlan, president and officer commanding of the Grays and Blues, was delighted the LVHS agreed to collaborate with them for the project.

“We couldn’t have chosen a finer site for the monument,” McLachlan stated. “The American Civil War is a lesser-known part of our heritage and should be remembered.

“This will be the first-ever significant Canadian monument dedicated to preserving the memory of our ancestors who fought in it.”

Approximately $10,000 has already been committed towards the project which was launched online Saturday through a GoFundMe campaign.

“We’re raising a dollar for every Canadian veteran,” McLachlan added.

A YouTube video, designed by LVHS member and digital curator, Brendan Bronzan, was also shown during the launch Saturday.


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Grays and Blues add a splash of colour to Lost Villages

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Published on June 12, 2016The Lost Villages Historical Society and the historical re-enactment organization, The Grays and Blues of Montreal, unveiled a fundraising campaign Saturday to erect a monument to the memory of 40,000 Canadians who served in the American Civil War, 1861-65. Seen here at the launch are, from left, Rob McLachlan, Grays and Blues president and officer commanding; Jim Brownell, Lost Villages Historical Society president; Brendan Bronzan, web curator; and Stewart Irvine, Grays and Blues vice-president.
By Kathleen Hay

LONG SAULT, Ontario – A renowned military re-enactment organization and a local heritage site have joined forces to preserve the memory of thousands of soldiers.

Launched Saturday at the Lost Villages Museum, the Grays and Blues of Montreal and the Lost Villages Historical Society, unveiled an exciting campaign to raise $40,000 to erect a monument on the museum grounds dedicated to the 40,000 Canadian soldiers who fought during the American Civil War (1861-65).

The proposed 14-ft, black granite monument is anticipated to be completed by September, 2017, during Canada’s 150th birthday and approximately 150 years after the war ended.

Rob McLachlan, president and officer commanding of the Grays and Blues, was delighted the LVHS agreed to collaborate with them for the project.

“We couldn’t have chosen a finer site for the monument,” McLachlan stated. “The American Civil War is a lesser-known part of our heritage and should be remembered.

“This will be the first-ever significant Canadian monument dedicated to preserving the memory of our ancestors who fought in it.”

Approximately $10,000 has already been committed towards the project which was launched online Saturday through a GoFundMe campaign.

“We’re raising a dollar for every Canadian veteran,” McLachlan added.

A YouTube video, designed by LVHS member and digital curator, Brendan Bronzan, was also shown during the launch Saturday.

As well, links to it and the fundraising campaign are detailed on the Lost Villages Facebook page and at www.graysandbluesofmontreal.com

Donations of $20 or more are eligible for tax receipts through the LVHS. Personalized engraved bricks that will line the pathway to the monument will be available for donations of $115. As an added bonus, for donations of $400 or more contributors names will be inscribed on a special donor’s wall.

The Lost Villages Museum grounds, situated on Ault Park, are a fitting location for the memorial, said Jim Brownell, president of the historical society.

“William Ellis, who was from Moulinette, was an American Civil War veteran,” he commented. “Last year, his granddaughter, Emma Hollingsworth, took the salute when the Grays and Blues were here.

“There are many connections between the Lost Villages and civil war veterans.”

The Canadian connection to the Civil War is a surprising one for many, and one that has been unearthed over the years. Much like the British Home Children, another passion of Brownell’s, the history of our country’s link to our American neighbours during the war was not discussed in school.

“In Canadian history to actually find a gap of information where it was a void for four years is most unusual,” added McLachlan. “We have proved through research that our involvement was so much more.

“It’s been found in fragments, like prospecting. It is just amazing.”


Cornwall Seaway News>News
Grays and Blues add a splash of colour to Lost Villages

Published on June 12, 2016Share 16 0 Comment
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Published on June 12, 2016The Lost Villages Historical Society and the historical re-enactment organization, The Grays and Blues of Montreal, unveiled a fundraising campaign Saturday to erect a monument to the memory of 40,000 Canadians who served in the American Civil War, 1861-65. Seen here at the launch are, from left, Rob McLachlan, Grays and Blues president and officer commanding; Jim Brownell, Lost Villages Historical Society president; Brendan Bronzan, web curator; and Stewart Irvine, Grays and Blues vice-president.
By Kathleen Hay

LONG SAULT, Ontario – A renowned military re-enactment organization and a local heritage site have joined forces to preserve the memory of thousands of soldiers.

Launched Saturday at the Lost Villages Museum, the Grays and Blues of Montreal and the Lost Villages Historical Society, unveiled an exciting campaign to raise $40,000 to erect a monument on the museum grounds dedicated to the 40,000 Canadian soldiers who fought during the American Civil War (1861-65).

The proposed 14-ft, black granite monument is anticipated to be completed by September, 2017, during Canada’s 150th birthday and approximately 150 years after the war ended.

Rob McLachlan, president and officer commanding of the Grays and Blues, was delighted the LVHS agreed to collaborate with them for the project.

“We couldn’t have chosen a finer site for the monument,” McLachlan stated. “The American Civil War is a lesser-known part of our heritage and should be remembered.

“This will be the first-ever significant Canadian monument dedicated to preserving the memory of our ancestors who fought in it.”

Approximately $10,000 has already been committed towards the project which was launched online Saturday through a GoFundMe campaign.

“We’re raising a dollar for every Canadian veteran,” McLachlan added.

A YouTube video, designed by LVHS member and digital curator, Brendan Bronzan, was also shown during the launch Saturday.

As well, links to it and the fundraising campaign are detailed on the Lost Villages Facebook page and at www.graysandbluesofmontreal.com

Donations of $20 or more are eligible for tax receipts through the LVHS. Personalized engraved bricks that will line the pathway to the monument will be available for donations of $115. As an added bonus, for donations of $400 or more contributors names will be inscribed on a special donor’s wall.

The Lost Villages Museum grounds, situated on Ault Park, are a fitting location for the memorial, said Jim Brownell, president of the historical society.

“William Ellis, who was from Moulinette, was an American Civil War veteran,” he commented. “Last year, his granddaughter, Emma Hollingsworth, took the salute when the Grays and Blues were here.

“There are many connections between the Lost Villages and civil war veterans.”

The Canadian connection to the Civil War is a surprising one for many, and one that has been unearthed over the years. Much like the British Home Children, another passion of Brownell’s, the history of our country’s link to our American neighbours during the war was not discussed in school.

“In Canadian history to actually find a gap of information where it was a void for four years is most unusual,” added McLachlan. “We have proved through research that our involvement was so much more.

“It’s been found in fragments, like prospecting. It is just amazing.”

In fact, the numbers are quite staggering when broken down. The 40,000 volunteers came from Canada West (Ontario), Canada East (Quebec), Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland (Britain), Prince Edward Island (Britain), British Columbia, and Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta (then referred to as Rupert’s Land).

Twenty-nine of these volunteer soldiers received the Congressional Medal of Honor (the American equivalent of the Victoria Cross) for their bravery, and there were four Canadian officers who achieved the rank of General.

Canadians served with both the North and South armies, but there was a definite sympathy towards the Confederates, stated McLachlan. This was for a couple of reasons as the War of 1812 saw the northern States taking aim at Ontario and Quebec, plus there was some political vengeance by Britain due to the North being the primary culprit behind the American Revolution.

“When the US tried to invade Canada, it was mostly the northern States, the south had little or no involvement,” he explained. “Canadian volunteers for the Civil War would have had fathers or grandfathers who fought against them 50 years earlier.”

The ties that bind were also evident in other areas between the two countries. Montreal was known as the “Richmond of the North,” he added, and there were Confederate spies in that city as well as Ottawa and Toronto. An initial plot to kidnap then-President Abraham Lincoln was hatched in Montreal, and in October, 1864, there was the famed St. Alban’s Raid.

The proximity of the Lost Villages Museum to all of these locations makes it an ideal hub for the monument.

“This is truly an untold story, and I hope it helps to spur people to do additional research. It is certainly appropriate to have this monument here at the Lost Villages Museum,” Brownell affirmed.

http://www.cornwallseawaynews.com/News/2016-06-12/article-4557258/Grays-and-Blues-add-a-splash-of-colour-to-Lost-Villages/1

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Remembering a London Veteran

Post by Guest on Tue 07 Jun 2016, 05:50

On Saturday, June 4, 2016, Remember November 11, honoured the memory of George Abener Mount and his service during World War I, with a tree planting at Remembrance Park at River Road and Veterans’ Memorial Parkway.

All memories of George Abner Mount come from my grandmother Ruth Mount Neve and my mother Betty Irene Neve Williams. George, like so many young Canadians was a shy, young man who chose to enlist in the military to defend Canada when our country went to war.

Little is known about his service. If there were letters home, those letters have long since been lost in the 100 years since George’s death. Only the record of his enlistment on July 6, 1915, his medical record and some photographs remain. What he saw, what he felt, what he feared are gone from any remembrance of his experience.

Private George Abener Mount died in the battle of the Somme on October 8th, 1916. He served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and his name is carved on Canada’s War memorial at Vimy Ridge. My mother and grandmother described a quiet young man, only 21 years old who left his home and family in London, Ontario, and never returned.

No one knows exactly how and where he died. All that is known is that he disappeared on the bloody battlefields of France at age 22.

On June 4th the descendants of George Mount and his community honoured his sacrifice. For this gentle young man and all the young men and women before and since, Canada owes a great debt of gratitude.

We Will Remember Them.

Irene Mathyssen MP
London-Fanshawe

http://www.lfpress.com/ur/story/1148814

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D-Day and the Battle of Normandy

Post by Guest on Mon 06 Jun 2016, 10:28

By the spring of 1944, Germany had occupied France and much of the European continent for almost four years. A narrow stretch of water, the English Channel, was all that separated the German forces from Great Britain.

An Allied raid on the French coast at Dieppe in August 1942 had resulted in heavy losses, particularly for Canada, but by 1944 the Allies had made strong gains against German troops in both Italy and the Soviet Union.

The Allies knew they would have to defeat Germany in Western Europe to win the war and decided to mount a major campaign for 1944. Planning lasted more than a year, taking great effort and involving many elements. Ground, sea and air forces rehearsed endlessly to make sure their timing and coordination was perfect. Great numbers of troops, boats, tanks, supplies and equipment were gathered in total secrecy in southern England. Portable docking facilities were built for the supply ships to off-load their cargoes in the days after the Allies had landed. A long flexible pipe, called “Pluto,” (Pipe Lines Under The Ocean) was even built to carry fuel under the sea from England to Normandy, the region of northwestern France where the Allies would come ashore.

Fortress Europe
Even with all these preparations, the Normandy campaign would be very difficult. The shores of Northwest Europe were littered with German land mines, barbed wire, heavy artillery batteries and machine-gun nests. There were also anti-tank walls, shelters constructed of thick concrete, anti-aircraft guns and many other types of defensive positions. For these reasons, the coastline from Denmark to the south of France was known as “Fortress Europe.”

For the Allied offensive to be successful, harbours along the continent’s coastline would have to be secured for the many transport ships that would be needed to ferry food, medical supplies, weapons and fresh troops after the initial landings. As well, Allied armies would continue to need “Pluto” to help transport the fuel needed to liberate occupied Europe.

An Allied defeat on the beaches of Normandy would have meant certain disaster as there would be no way to remove troops to safety. But if the landings succeeded, the Allied forces would finally gain that all-important foothold in western Europe and a chance to liberate France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark from German occupation.

On Land, By Sea, In the Air
Allied aircraft paved the way for the landings, bombing the coastal defence in the months leading up to the attack. On June 6, 1944—D-Day—a massive Allied force crossed the English Channel to engage in Operation Overlord. Their destination: an 80-kilometre stretch of the heavily-defended coast of Normandy. There were five landing zones, given special code names: Juno Beach (Canada); Gold Beach (United Kingdom); Sword Beach (United Kingdom and France); and Utah Beach and Omaha Beach (United States).

Seven thousand vessels of all types, including 284 major combat vessels, took part in Operation Neptune, the assault phase of the D-Day offensive. Destroyers and supporting craft of the Royal Canadian Navy did their part and shelled German targets while many Royal Canadian Air Force planes were among the 4,000 Allied bombers (plus some 3,700 fighters and fighter bombers) which attacked the German beach defences and inland targets.

More than 450 Canadians parachuted inland before dawn on June 6 and engaged the enemy. A few hours later, some 14,000 Canadian troops began coming ashore at Juno Beach in the face of enemy fire. Their mission: to establish a beachhead along an eight-kilometre stretch fronting the villages of Courseulles-sur-Mer, Bernières-sur-Mer, and Saint Aubin-sur-Mer. Once secure, the troops would push inland to capture the city of Caen, an important communications centre for the Germans.

A Hard-Won Victory
Many Canadian soldiers in the Normandy campaign were young and new to battle, but their courage and skill meant they often helped lead the Allied advance against a determined enemy. Canadians soon captured three shoreline positions on D-Day and established themselves near the village of Creully, but this was to be only the beginning of the struggle to liberate France. Savage fighting in Normandy continued and grew even more intense as Canadian forces faced powerful German Panzer tank divisions in the struggle for Caen.

Through the summer of 1944, the fighting continued through choking dust and intense heat. The conditions were terrible and the enemy was ruthless, but the troops moved forward. Canadians played an important role in closing the “Falaise Gap” in mid-August as the Germans finally retreated in the face of the Allied offensive. On August 25, 1944, Paris was liberated by the Allies, bringing the Normandy campaign officially to a close.

Sacrifice
Against difficult odds, the Canadians advanced against the best troops the enemy had. Victory in the Normandy campaign, however, would come at a terrible cost. Three hundred and forty Canadians were killed on Juno Beach on D-Day alone and the Canadians would suffer the most casualties of any division in the British Army Group during the Battle of Normandy. More than 5,000 made the ultimate sacrifice, losing their lives, and lie buried in a place far from their homes and loved ones. Others returned home with injuries to body and mind that they carry to this day.

The Legacy
Victory in Normandy would be only the beginning of many months of hard fighting on the ground in Western Europe. Canadians would play an important role in the offensives that would finally defeat the Germans and end the war in this part of the world.

The brave Canadians who served in the Normandy Campaign were among the more than one million men and women who served in the cause of peace and freedom during the Second World War.

Canada Remembers Program
The Canada Remembers Program of Veterans Affairs Canada encourages all Canadians to learn about the sacrifices and achievements made by those who have served—and continue to serve—during times of war and peace. As well, it invites Canadians to become involved in remembrance activities that will help preserve their legacy for future generations.

http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/history/historical-sheets/d-day

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A tale of 2 brothers

Post by Guest on Sun 05 Jun 2016, 07:18

A tale of 2 brothers: Service record shows longing to leave WW I, return to Newfoundland
One was killed, the other survived, but still paid a sacrifice.

Curiosity piqued by the discovery of war medals, a St. John's family has uncovered tragic, yet fascinating stories of two young solders who enlisted in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment during the First World War.

Sabrina Del Rizzo-Day responded to CBC's request for war-related stories for a new song Chris Andrews is writing for the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel.

She told the story of her husband's great uncles — James and Walter Day of Mullock Street in St. John's — who enlisted in the war in 1915.

James was 16, and Walter was 14 — the youngest member of the Regiment, according to Del Rizzo-Day.

"Walter's superiors discovered that he was underage at some point after departing Newfoundland," Del Rizzo-Day said.

He was "temporarily relieved of duty and sent to grammar school. In due course, he rejoined the Regiment."

Conduct sheet for Walter Day

Both boys endured the slaughter at Beaumont-Hamel but — unbeknownst to one another — were able to answer roll call the following day.

It was a separate battle nine months later which claimed the life of 19-year-old James.

And it was then that Walter learned his brother had survived the Battle of the Somme.

"When a visitor to Walter's bedside in late April 1917 brought news of his brother's death, Walter replied that he had already known," said Del Rizzo-Day.

"He told the visitor that James died at Beaumont-Hamel. Evidently Walter and James had not seen each other since they scaled the parapet on July 1, 1916, and they hadn't heard each other answer roll call the next morning."

Life for Walter after the war was tough. Letters and a conduct sheet for him shows he struggled with alcohol and authority, and longed to come home.

He was just 16 and 17 years of age, when he wracked up a long list of infractions.

Dec. 1, 1915: Disobedience to orders
Mar. 3, 1916: Absent from Tattoo Roll call until 8:30 p.m.
Mar. 8, 1916: Neglect of duty
Disobeying an order
May 9, 1917: Absent from Tattoo Roll call until 11:15 p.m.
May 14, 1917: Unknown
Disobeying an order
Resisting Arrest
July 17, 1917: Absent from 2:30 p.m.
July 23, 1917: Drinking out of barracks
Absent from 9 - 10 a.m.
Breaking away from room
Dec. 26, 1917: Drunk in barracks and willfully damaging government property
Jan. 7, 1918: Absenting himself from parade without permission
Absent from 2 p.m. parade until 4 p.m.
Jan. 9, 1918: Late for (unknown) room parade
Jan. 12, 1918: Drunk in High St. about 9 p.m.
Violently resisting the Military Police
Breaking barracks whilst (unknown)
Jan. 22, 1918: Absent from 10:45 a.m. parade
Jan 26, 1918: Damaging government property
Drunk about 2:30 p.m.
Jan. 27, 1918: Damaging government property
Feb. 4, 1918: Drunkenness
Striking his superior officer

Sad homecoming

Walter Day did return home, and had to break the news to his family that his brother, James, wasn't with him.

"I had to face my mother and father, and like I expected, but I didn't expect it was gonna be so soon," Day said in a videotaped interview in 1971.

"She said, 'Where's Jim?', and that's the first words she asked me, 'Where's Jim?'"

The question Walter, still a teenager, was dreading.

"I'm not fit to answer that one. Imagine now your mother asks. I said, 'Now look mom, we gotta face it.' I said, 'I hope he's in Heaven,' and that's all I could say and I went into another room."

Those videotaped interviews paint a picture of a frightened boy who, decades later, relived the pain and sickness he felt on July 1, 1916.

"The orders were advance, advance, advance and don't stop to care for the wounded. You had to keep going till you were wounded," he said.

It's a toss up of what was more tragic; the tale of the brother who was killed or a brother's ruined life after the war. Walter Day was "permanently damaged psychologically" and had to be cared for by his sister.

He died on the veteran's wing of the General Hospital in Nov. 18, 1982. He was 82.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/a-tale-of-two-brothers-first-world-war-1.3607569

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Montreal D-Day pilot returns to France for Legion of Honour award

Post by Guest on Sun 29 May 2016, 06:11

Typhoon pilot Dr. Peter Roper, 93, wants honour to go to French villagers who saved his life on June 7, 1944

As an RAF pilot flying regular missions against Nazi targets in Europe, Dr. Peter Roper never really expected to live past his early 20s.

It didn't help that he flew Typhoons, the RAF's lethal ground attack fighter-bomber with a grim habit of trapping pilots as they tried to bail out.

Roper said the life expectancy for young pilots in some Typhoon squadrons was about three weeks.

"We knew it was going to happen to all of us, at least we expected it to," he recalled recently.

"We were lucky to be alive a month — so we made the most of it."

"Making the most of it" has been the mantra of the 93-year-old Montreal resident ever since.

Back to France

In recent years, that make-the-most-of-it spirit has led him regularly to France for the D-Day anniversary to pay tribute to the French villagers who saved his life in the days after the Allied invasion on June 6, 1944.

This year will be no exception. At 93, it may be his last Normandy hurrah, he says, so he's making sure this visit is one to remember.

"I don't think I'll get to France again, so we have to make this as good a trip as possible. Not for me so much as for the local people, because a lot of them helped me at great danger to themselves," he said.

Legion of Honour

The trip's highlight will be the presentation of France's highest military award, the Legion of Honour. All Typhoon pilots who took part in the Battle of Normandy are entitled to the award for the key role they played in the campaign.

Roper will receive his at the chateau where he was taken after being shot down while hunting German tanks near the allied beachhead on June 7, 1944.

EXCLUSIVE: No time for fear: A Montrealer's untold D-Day story
Roper managed to get out of his burning Typhoon despite a foot that was almost severed by an anti-aircraft shell.

He parachuted safely into a farmer's field and was taken in by villagers in Monts-en-Bessin, who snuck him through German lines in a horse-drawn cart to a doctor in a town nearby.

His rescuers are long since dead, but Roper is determined to receive the honour in front of their descendants and his Montreal family.

Roper can think of no better setting for the ceremony than the old, battle-scarred chateau that's been semi-officially renamed Chateau Peter Roper by its owner, whose father, the Baron D'Huart, played a key role in the wounded pilot's rescue.

"I had this idea that it would be nice if the French could see it being presented. If it could be presented in France, particularly if it could be presented in Normandy in the chateau where the Germans kept me prisoner," he said.

"I thought that would be great — great for them, because they're the ones who deserve it. I was just there – they saved my life! And they did it at great risk. They could have not only been shot by the Germans, but their whole families could have been shot, too."

Roper still marvels at the risks they took to save him and their kindness.

"They were just ordinary people, ordinary farmers, people who lived there. They weren't Resistance. They did something for which they had no instructions to do, no advice to do — they did it out of the goodness of their hearts."

"Their families will appreciate the fact that their ancestors did a great deal for the cause, our allied cause," Roper said.

If possible, Roper said he would like to leave his Legion of Honour medal for the people of Monts-en-Bessin to share.

The German captain

Roper attributes his deep appreciation for the risks the villagers took in part to being wounded and "the great deal of feelings of resilience, strength and appreciation of other's help" that comes in such moments.

He extends that appreciation to a German army captain who saved him from an SS lieutenant who wanted Roper executed.

The captain ordered the pilot sent to an SS hospital instead, where Roper was given much-needed blood and a welcome shot of morphine.

"I didn't mind [the SS blood]. I felt a lot better at the time. I don't think it changed my personality, and it's circulated out by now," Roper said.

The captain was killed in a later stage of the fierce Battle of Normandy, and Roper always makes a point of visiting his grave.

Eternal thanks

Giving the Legion of Honour to the people of Monts-en-Bessin would only be the latest symbol of Roper's eternal thanks.

His first gesture was saving the life of Baron D'Huart in the waning days of the war in 1945.

Accused of collaborating with the Germans, the baron was facing execution in Caen when his daughter contacted Roper for help.

Roper quickly found his way back to Normandy and secured the baron's release with the story of his good deeds on the wounded pilot's behalf.

On a more recent visit, Roper arrived with a plaque thanking the people of Normandy who helped rescue him and other Typhoon pilots shot down during the Battle of Normandy.

It now has a place of honour in the yard outside the museum in nearby Tilly-sur-Seulles, which counts the engine from his downed Typhoon among its collection.

This time, Roper and his family will bring a model of his Typhoon, custom-made in Montreal at the Aviation Museum in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, to present to the museum while he's there.

A last sortie?

Between that, the Legion of Honour, and the various other gestures he's made over the years, Roper hopes they'll stand together as an enduring reminder to the people of Monts-en-Bessin of their ancestors' courage.

As to the idea that this could be his last visit, Roper's something of an old pro at dealing with such thoughts.

"I don't feel sad about it. It's like going on a show, a sortie during the war."

"You make the most of it. You have fun."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/montreal-normandy-veteran-returns-france-legion-honour-1.3604003

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