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Local vets want 'enemy aliens' interned

Post by Guest on Thu 26 May 2016, 16:33

This week in Prince George history, May 22-28:

May 23, 1940: The local branch of the Army and Navy Veterans in Canada sent a telegram to Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, calling for all 'enemy aliens' to be interned, The Citizen reported.

"Army & Navy Veterans Association, Post 258, Prince George, B.C. by resolution unanimously passed at a general meeting held May 18, 1940, demand that the Government of Canada immediately intern all enemy aliens present in Canada and furthermore that steps be at once taken to deport all aliens of other nationalities who by speech or action express sympathy with the aims and actions of the enemy," the telegram, signed by association president Everett MacEachern, said.

"This action has already been taken by many returned soldiers' organizations across Canada and is indicative of the growing feeling of all loyal Canadians and British subjects the world over," The Citizen wrote. "There is ample proof of the necessity for such counter measures, and it is hoped that other organizations will co-operate with the returned soldiers in their efforts and leadership."

(ITALIC) This is a case where both the veterans' organization and The Citizen were on the wrong side of history.

On Feb. 24, 1942 King issued several orders-in-council calling for the internment of all people of Japanese origin to be relocated to "protective areas."

Nearly 21,000 people - of which more than 13,000 were Canadian citizens by birth - were relocated and had their personal property seized and sold by the government.

Adding to the sting of the injustice was the fact that no similar measures were taken against Canada's large German- and Italian-Canadian populations. (END ITALIC)

May 27, 1916: A special train carrying 100 firefighters left for Willow River at noon to help battle a "fiercely burning forest fire driven by a high wind," that threatened to destroy the town and large sawmill located nearby.

At 9:30 a.m. on May 27, 1916 a messenger arrived on foot from Willow River, approximately 36 kilometres away, carrying word that the town was in danger.

"A ring of fire practically surrounds the town and every available man is out fighting to save the town," The Citizen reported. "In half an hour, district forester Marvin had marshalled his forces, and every available man was recruited for the work. Shovels, axes and firefighting equipment was quickly mustered together with food supplies for the large force."

The Grand Truck Pacific put a train at the disposal of the crew, which left for Willow River "in record time."

"Some idea of the devastating intensity of the fire can be gathered from the fact that in two places the fire had jumped the Fraser River and commenced its work of destruction on the opposite side," The Citizen report concluded.

Other forest fires were burning on "the hill west of town," near Mud River and a small one north of the Nechako River had been recently extinguished.

(ITALIC) If there was a follow-up article on the Willow River fire, the issue has been lost and isn't in The Citizen's archives. I wasn't able to find any other sources which had details of the blaze.

But an editorial in same issue of The Citizen called for residents to be careful with fire, especially when the weather has been dry.

"We wonder when people will realize that dead grass and undergrowth, after a few days' hot weather, are much easier to light than to extinguish; and that it is also much easier to tread out a match or camp fire when done with, than after they have spread over half a square mile of timber -more economical too."

It's been 100 years, and clearly some people still don't get it. (END ITALIC)

To explore 100 years of local history yourself, visit the Prince George Citizen archives online at: The Prince George Citizen online archives are maintained by the Prince George Public Library.


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When Civil War vets invaded Canada

Post by Guest on Thu 26 May 2016, 05:39

A framed lithograph of the Battle of Ridgeway hangs over the mantle of the stone fireplace in our cottage on Lake Erie’s Canadian shore. Redcoats take aim at green-clad soldiers; puffs of smoke rise from their rifles. I studied that reproduction for hours as a boy: Combat looks romantic when you’re 12.

There was an incongruity in that image that middle-school me could never resolve. The men in green were Irish American, like my family. So why did I always feel emotionally aligned with Canada’s redcoats? The battleground is near the Fort Erie, Ont., lakefront where my multitudinous Buffalo clan spent summers. I realize now that love of inland sea meant boyhood’s inner maple leaf trumped its inner shamrock.

Next week is the 150th anniversary of a battle few Americans know. Visitors to our cousin-shared cottage often ask what the heck is going on in the prominently placed picture. I’ve got a shorthand, comic-opera version I often tell that goes something like this:

In 1866, a ragtag assemblage of Irish-American Civil War vets amassed along the border in Buffalo. They got drunk one night and rowed across the Niagara River to invade Canada, intending to conquer it, so they could trade it to Britain for Ireland’s freedom. These so-called Fenians won the battle but lost the war and soon were rousted back to Buffalo.

Recently I called Peter Vronsky, who teaches history at Ryerson University in Toronto, to get the real story. He is the author of Ridgeway: The American Fenian Invasion and the 1866 Battle That Made Canada. Sure enough, my oversimplified yarn is wrong in several key respects — history’s jagged edges smoothed out over time, like rocks in the river.

“You’re close, but the Fenians were far from drunken Irish rabble,” Vronsky says. “They were highly experienced Civil War veterans. And they didn’t mean to conquer Canada so much as hold it hostage and create a crisis in the British Empire,” thereby setting the stage for rebellion in Ireland.

As many as 1,000 battle-hardened Fenians crossed the river June 1. They faced Canadian forces of farm boys, shopkeepers and University of Toronto students called away from finals; many had never fired live rounds before fighting began June 2. Nine militia volunteers of the Queen’s Own Rifles died that day, modern Canada’s first war dead. The invaders lost a like number.

The Fenians prevailed at Ridgeway but stopped short of their strategic target, the Welland Canal, and pulled back to Fort Erie, where they skirmished with Canadian forces once more. The U.S. Navy blockaded Fenian reinforcements, and while Canadian and British reinforcements were on the way, the Fenians headed back for Buffalo.

The lithograph offers gloriously unreliable history. The Fenian Brotherhood wore civilian togs or blue Union Army coats, with some Confederate grey. The Queen’s Own Rifles wore green, though the infantry battalion from Hamilton did wear scarlet — and did form a battle line. Otherwise, the depicted Napoleonic style of long, exposed lines is visual fiction.

Vronsky says few Canadians know much about the battle — though, he adds, they should: “Ridgeway is our Bunker Hill.” The specter of the Fenian incursion accelerated talks toward Confederation, which came a year later, birthing the Dominion of Canada.

Alexander Muir fought in that nation-building battle, and a year later wrote The Maple Leaf Forever, a sort of unofficial national anthem. Feel free to sing it should you find yourself in Ridgeway next week. If so, stop in at Brimstone Brewing and raise a glass of Midnight Mass. With luck, you could buy a pint for current members of the Queen’s Own Rifles or Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, due in town for 150th-anniversary commemorations.

I vividly recall the 100th anniversary, when images of the battle could be found even on milk bottles. From the vantage point of a boy of 12, a century seemed like forever ago. Today, on the cusp of codger-hood, 150 years feels like the day before yesterday, and Ridgeway’s battlefield like sacred ground.


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Doug Bradford. From History With Love.

Post by Guest on Mon 23 May 2016, 15:33

Documenting in brushstrokes, history comes alive through the skillful hands and watercolour vision of Sault Ste. Marie artist, Doug Bradford. Doug and Sharon Bradford recently returned to The Sault, having been on a 17 day cruise in The Netherlands with Journeys River Cruises, April 14-29, 2016. The story of how that trip took place, is very much woven into the journey of ‘The Crew. M is for Mother’, a commissioned watercolour painting and homage to the Royal Canadian Air Force Crew (RCAF) of HR864 LQ-M, a Halifax MKII-B bomber, which flew during WW2.

The story which began on June 25th, 1943, in the skies over Ten Boer, Netherlands, also includes a 2008 auction find by Frank Moore in Canada.

Saultonline spent an afternoon recently with Sharon & Doug Bradford at their beautiful home in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario to learn more about this remarkable story.

“Frank Moore, (pictured in an April 30,2016 Toronto Star article), is from Tillsonburg Ontario. He’s a retired Royal Bank executive who discovered RCAF articles inside a suit case he acquired through an auction.” said Doug Bradford. “The suitcase was full of RCAF medals, and letters from mothers, concerned for their sons wellbeing. It took about a year of research by Frank Moore to learn that all of the individuals represented by the medals, had perished except for one guy. That was Alexander Sochowski.”

“Frank Moore and Jeremy Vandyke, (Journey River Cruises), are friends, and share a mutual appreciation for Canadian history, especially the role of Canada’s military in WW2. “The man who commissioned ‘The Crew’, is the owner of Journeys River Cruises, Jerry Vandyke.” he said “His son Jeremy, is a person who is particularly knowledgeable about Canadian history, and envisioned some way to commemorate the treasures found within the suitcase.”

From this friendship, a commissioned work of art was born. ‘The Crew. M is for Mother’, is a painting by Doug Bradford, which now hangs in the offices of the travel company, ‘Journeys by Jerry Vandyke’, Cambridge, Ontario.

A presentation of a signed print was made to the Town of Ten Boer, the Netherlands, on April 26th,2016 ‘In honour of THE CREW of HR864 LQ-M and of the town of Ten Boer for their support during the war and for safeguarding our CREW for eternity.’ Doug and Sharon Bradford were part of the event.

“The M stands for Mother in Dutch. All the RCAF planes were LQ something, but this one (plane) happened to be Mother.” shared Bradford.

“The painting that was featured in the photograph for the Toronto Star article (April 30,2016), has since been tweaked a little. It wasn’t quite finished at that point. The insignia was wrong; having to do with ‘under the King’ when it should be ‘under the Queen’.” he said

“Out of the crew of seven, one guy survived, and he ended up in a prison camp. Alexander Sochowski was the only crew member to survive. He was in the prison camp that was featured in the movie, ‘The Great Escape’, (1963) starring Steve Macqueen. All these guys are buried in a cemetery in Ten Boer, (except one) The Netherlands (formerly Holland).”

The Messerschmitt pilot, Paul Zorner (PZ), was also included in the painting. “I recently learned that one of the (Canadian) guys who shot at the German plane did hit the Mezzerschmidt, rendering it out of commission.” said Doug.

The following is an excerpt from

‘On the night of July 25th, 1943, the crew on the Handley Page Halifax 11 bomber, registered as HR 864 with the 405 squadron departed Gransden Lodge England en route for Essen Germany when attacked by a night fighter over Ten Boer, Groningen Holland at 23:56 PM. Two engines were hit and caught fire. F/O Alexander J. Sochowski, Bombardier, bailed out before the aircraft exploded and crashed on a farm just west of Ten Boer. He became a P.O.W. and was interned in Stalag Luft 3 and had a part in the Great Escape.

Fatalities included W/O 11 Clifford J.V. Kettley Radio Operator , P/O Michael S. Smyth Tail Gunner , F/O Marcel E. Tomczak Pilot, F/S Edward White Air Gunner, Sgt. Albert Wood Flight Engineer, and F/O Alexander P. McCracken Navigator. The crew is buried together at Ten Boer Protestant Cemetery in the Netherlands.

The suitcase was acquired in 2008, through an EBay auction and contained a treasure trove of material on F/O Alexander McCracken including his service medals, along with his father’s from WW1. Also in the suitcase were exchanges of letters between “The Crew’s “mothers and various notifications from R.C.A.F. authorities. Rarely do you find so much information which led to detailed research on the crash of HR 864 LQ-M on the night of July 25th, 1943.’

Doug Bradford has developed a reputation as one of Canada’s foremost painters of WW2 and Canadian armed services history. He has 15 paintings hanging in the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Ontario. In 2004, he was selected to participate in The Canadian Armed Forces Civilian Arts Programme and has been featured in The legion magazine

In return for the commissioned painting, Sharon and Doug Bradford received a 17 day Cruise with Journeys River Cruises.

“I signed 395 prints, and all of the money from the prints goes to charity, including service dogs for the military.” said Bradford.

In the final painting, are Bradford’s personal reflections of love. “Our youngest daughter Sarah, who passed away in June (2015) can be found in the northern lights. I put her name in the sky. And my other daughter Cindy’s name is in one of the propellers, and my son’s name, Sean, is in the other propeller.” Bradford shared “Only if I told you where to look, would you find them.”

“The names of all of the guys are on the bottom right hand corner of the plane.” Bradford spent 8 months working on the painting.

Doug and Sharon visited the cemetery where all but one of the men are buried. “It was really humbling when we got to the cemetery where 6 of the guys are buried. It was really something to behold.” said Doug, as he and Sharon reflected on some of the photographs taken during the recent trip.

“To see the graves of these boys; It is very powerful. They had a Colour Guard behind the six headstones on the day we were there. It was so beautifully kept up. It was a very emotional day.” said Doug

“The plane went down about 15 miles from Ten Boer. We were even at the farmhouse where the plane went down right behind a barn. That would make a good painting someday too.”

In return for the commissioned painting, Sharon and Doug Bradford received a 17 day Cruise with Journeys River Cruises, which started in Amsterdam, and finished in Arnhem, Netherlands.

“The boat was beautiful. We ate like kings and queens the whole time.”

“The weather ranged from sleet, to snow, to rain and then to lovely. The whole country is spotless.” said Sharon. “Everything is so beautiful there. Flowers in fields as far as you could see.”

“We handed out little Canadian pins while were away. One couple with two little girls, were so excited to get the pins. They called to us from down a street and said ‘Look..Look’. We’re wearing our pins.”

Doug and Sharon showed saultonline a photograph of the unveiling event that took place in Ten Boer of the painting, ‘The Crew. M is for Mother.’

“War is a terrible thing. It was quite moving to be part of the event, which took place on the second last day of our trip. The town received the ‘first’ print. Representing the Canadian Air Force, was Major Terry Wong, who is a helicopter pilot, and served in Afghanistan. It was so nice to have a member of the Canadian armed services there.” adding “The mayor of Ten Boer was there, Frank Moore, was there; The Vandykes as well.”

“Jeremy Vandyke’s in-laws were in Holland during the 2nd World War.” shared Sharon Bradford. “They were protected by the Canadian soldiers, and that really impacted them. It is a very profound story.”

A profound story indeed. Thank you Doug and Sharon Bradford for sharing the story of ‘The Crew. M is for Mother’; A story written in history, and remembered in watercolour brushstrokes with honour and love. A gift in memoriam.

To research Doug Bradford’s vivid watercolour painting (2004) which shows a Sea King helicopter on the deck of the patrol frigate HMCS Calgary, and is part of The Canadian War Museum collection, visit:

‘Journeys by Jerry Van Dyke of Cambridge Ontario have in the past supported many initiatives involving Canadian Veterans. All proceeds from the sale of prints (‘The Crew’) will be donated to the National Service Dogs Program and targeted to the special needs of our veterans suffering with PTSD.’


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A day to remember

Post by Guest on Sat 21 May 2016, 05:40

June 1, 1866 (150 years ago!) was a day people living on the Canadian side of the Niagara River, especially those between Niagara Falls and Fort Erie, would never forget.

Before sun-up that morning, a force of around 800-Irish Americans who belonged to the Fenian movement, had crossed the Niagara River from Buffalo and captured the Village of Fort Erie. Under the command of Col. John O’Neill, most of these men were battle-hardened veterans of the recently concluded American Civil War. Their plan was to conquer Canada, or at least a sizable portion of it, and use this as a bargaining chip to force Britain to end its 700-year occupation of Ireland.

Needless to say, Niagara residents were stunned.

O’Neill used most of that day to consolidate his position in Fort Erie. Around five o’clock that afternoon, he received intelligence that a large force of British regulars and volunteers had arrived at Niagara Falls and was preparing to advance against him. He decided to meet these defenders along the line of Black Creek, which flows into the Niagara River not far north of Fort Erie. Accordingly, just after dark, O’Neill and his men began marching north along River Road, now called the Niagara River Parkway.

However, following their arrival at Miller’s Creek they turned westward along the Townline Road. Then, after a short distance, they stopped to await developments.

The soldiers in Niagara Falls, eventually numbering around 1,400 men, were commanded by Col. George Peacocke. By nine o’clock, that evening, June 1, he had advanced as far as Chippawa where he secured the bridges, both rail and pedestrian, over Chippawa Creek.

Meanwhile, around two a.m., O’Neill received word that a smaller force with no artillery or cavalry and made up entirely of volunteer infantry, would be boarding a train in Port Colborne at dawn and heading to Ridgeway. These men were commanded by Lt. Col. Alfred Booker. Not wanting to be caught between two hostile forces, O’Neill broke camp and marched to meet Booker since he thought he could easily defeat these troops who would not be as well trained as the men under Peacock’s command.

The two sides met that morning just north of Ridgeway, in the area near the Ridge Road — Bertie Road intersection. The result was the fierce, although relatively brief, Battle of Ridgeway. Booker was defeated with 10 men killed and 38 wounded. He retreated in the direction of Port Colborne while O’Neill, concerned about desertions as well of lack of supplies and reinforcements, withdrew to Fort Erie. There, along the riverfront, his men were involved in a wild melee with more Canadian militia.

O’Neill then removed to the ruins of Old Fort Erie and from there made arrangements to get his remaining men back across the Niagara River to Buffalo. By daybreak, June 3, the Fenians had left Canadian soil.

Not long after this, Peacock’s troops who had camped at New Germany (now Snyder) the previous afternoon, arrived in Fort Erie. But the enemy had gone.

Reminiscing back in 1925, George Wells of Niagara Falls, who was 70 years old at the time, remembered the Fenian invasion very well. Wells had grown up in Willoughby Township. Now a part of Niagara Falls, the township was a large rural area that fronted the Niagara River. It extended from the south side of Chippawa Creek almost to Black Creek.

Wells wrote: “June 1st, 1866, a Friday, was a beautiful morning as I wended my way to school at No. 6, little knowing of the thrills that were awaiting me at the little country school with its peaceful surroundings, which was located about one and a quarter miles from my house.”

School No. 6 was at the corner of Willodell and Sauer Roads. A log building at the time, it served the southwest corner of Willoughby Township.

Wells continued his story: “When nearing the school a number of the children, who had heard the news, came running to meet me. Some of the older ones with sad faces (who understood the situation) and others with smiles because the teacher had dismissed them and thinking, no doubt, about the extra holiday. We all went back to the schoolhouse where the teacher dismissed us. My memory is that I beat all world records as a sprinter for that mile and a quarter home to spread the news that the Fenians had come over.”

Wells went on to relate how his two older brothers immediately jumped on their horses and went on a scouting expedition in the direction of New Germany. His parents brought out the family’s money which consisted of gold and silver coins only. These were placed in two fruit jars that were then buried in two feet of earth under the root house. Fearing the Fenians might try to steal his horses, George’s father rounded them up and moved the animals to a small wooded island in a nearby stream.

By Sunday, however, as Wells wrote, “The excitement had blown over.” George Wells, who as an eleven-year-old boy lived a piece of Canadian history, died in 1941. He lies buried in Drummond Hill Cemetery, Niagara Falls.


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Soil from Vimy Ridge on its way to Base Borden

Post by Guest on Tue 17 May 2016, 05:48

Canadian Forces Base Borden is celebrating 100 years next month and planning for the centenary is in full swing.

Details were unveiled Monday morning at the Barrie Armoury, which was constructed in 1915 prior to CFB Borden accepting approximately 40,000 troops on Dominion Day (July 1) in 1916.

Those troops would eventually be involved in the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917.

Barrie will host the Freedom of the City Parade on Saturday, June 4 beginning at 1 p.m.

Residents are invited to celebrate the arrival of sacred soil from Vimy, containing DNA remnants of some of the nearly 3,600 Canadians who were killed and more than 7,200 who were injured during the pivotal battle that defined Canada as a nation.

The Freedom of the City Parade is a time-honoured event that allows military organizations to march into the city with drums beating, colours flying and bayonets fixed.

The parade will include 1,000 troops, including 500 from CFB Borden and 500 from veterans groups, legions, cadets, OPP, RCMP, and Barrie police.

The Borden Legacy Monument, which has been spearheaded by Barrie businessman Jamie Massie, will be unveiled at Base Borden's north entrance at 11 a.m. on Thursday, June 9. Part of the monument will include the sacred soil returned from Vimy last year.

It's the first time in Canadian history that battlefield soil has been repatriated from overseas.

Another highlight of the centenary celebrations will be the Canadian Armed Forces Day and Air Show on June 11 and 12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.

The air show will feature the world-famous Royal Canadian Air Force Snowbirds, the CF-18 Hornet fighter jet, the Canadian Armed Forces Skyhawks parachute team, Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft and warbirds as well as an extensive number of ground displays, army vehicles, a forward operating base and special events.

"The air-show weekend is a gift to the community to thank them for their support," said base commander Brig.-Gen Carl Doyon, adding that during a similar event four years ago, more than 30,000 people attended over two days.

The unveiling of the Legacy Monument will be a special moment, he added.

The urn containing the sacred soil will depart the Barrie Armoury and arrive at the Peacekeeper Park in Angus on morning of June 7.

"A two-day vigil will occur, with Base Borden military and cadets, safeguarding the urn," Doyon said. "This event will highlight the urn, symbolizing the sacrifice of Canada’s peacekeepers over the last century, that include not only military personnel, but also law-enforcement officers, RCMP and so many others."

Soil will be transported from Peacekeeper Park to the site via First World War wagon and horses and integrated into the wall during the ceremony.

"Unique to this event is that all of this is a donation from the community," Doyon said, referring to the efforts of Massie and the community at large. "We at Base Borden are grateful of receiving this amazing gift of support, to highlight the two million men and women that will have trained at Base Borden, Canada’s largest military training base, over the course of century, and to inspire all those sons and daughters of a grateful nation that will pass through our gates in the future, serving Canada with honour, duty and courage, so all may live with freedom, democracy and justice.

"The integration of the battlefield soil into the wall is symbolizing the DNA of all those Canadians who made the sacrifices of serving our country over the course of this past century," he added.

Residents are encouraged to show their pride by visiting


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Remains of Canadian 2nd World War soldier ID'd

Post by Guest on Mon 16 May 2016, 16:16

OTTAWA — The remains of a Second World War soldier — found on Remembrance Day in a farmer's field in Belgium — have been identified as those of Pte. Kenneth Donald Duncanson from Dutton, Ont.

The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces say Duncanson was a member of The Algonquin Regiment, which served in 10th Infantry Brigade, 4th Canadian Armoured Division in Northwest Europe.

Duncanson was born in Wallacetown, Ont., on June 7, 1915, married in 1939 and lived in Dutton before enlisting on Aug. 24, 1942.

Duncanson was 29 when was killed on Sept. 14, 1944, during an attempt by the Algonquin Regiment to establish a bridgehead crossing of the Derivation de la Lys and the Leopold Canal in Belgium.

Officials say members of Duncanson's family have been notified, and Veterans Affairs is helping the family as final arrangements are made.

Duncanson's remains will be interred at Adegem Canadian War Cemetery in Belgium in the fall of 2016 by his regiment and next-of-kin have been invited to attend.

"We are grateful for the dedication of the Raakvlak Intercommunal Archaeological Service of Belgium, and the support of our international partners, which ultimately made it possible for our officers to identify Pte. Duncanson," Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said Monday in a release.

A metal detector hobbyist discovered Duncanson's remains on Nov. 11, 2014, and the identification was made using a combination of historical context, anthropological analysis, artifact evidence, and dental records.

"Now, finally, he may be solemnly laid to rest with the honour and dignity he deserves," said Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr.


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Remembering Battle of Vimy Ridge

Post by Guest on Wed 11 May 2016, 10:49

BELLEVILLE - The four divisions of the Canadian Corps, fighting together for the first time, attacked Vimy Ridge from April 9 to 12, 1917 and succeeded in capturing it from the three divisions of the German Sixth Army.
It was the first time that all four Canadian divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force fought together in the First World War and is seen by some as the time that Canadians started to see themselves as an independent nation and not a colony of Great Britain. More than 10,500 Canadians were killed and wounded in the assault.
Victory in Europe Day, generally known as V-E Day, VE Day or simply V Day was the public holiday celebrated on May 8, 1945 (May 7 in Commonwealth realms) to mark the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces.
The eighth of May spelled the day when German troops throughout Europe finally laid down their arms: In Prague, Germans surrendered to their Soviet antagonists, after the latter had lost more than 8,000 soldiers, and the Germans considerably more; in Copenhagen and Oslo; at Karlshorst, near Berlin; in northern Latvia; on the Channel Island of Sark—the German surrender was realized in a final cease-fire. More surrender documents were signed in Berlin and in eastern Germany. More than a million Canadians had served in the armed forces — 42,000 had been killed and tens of thousands more were wounded or awaiting liberation in prisoner of war camps.
The Battle of the Atlantic, from 1939 to 1945, was the longest continuous battle of the Second World War. Canada played a key role in the Allied struggle for control of the North Atlantic, as German submarines worked furiously to cripple the convoys shipping crucial supplies to Europe. The first shots on the Atlantic were fired on September 3, 1939, just hours after Britain formally declared war on Germany. Off the coast of Ireland, a German submarine, U-30, torpedoed the SS Athenia, a passenger ship en route to Montréal with more than 1,400 passengers and crew on board; 112 people were killed, including four Canadians. The Battle of the Atlantic victory was costly: 4,600 Canadians lost their lives.
The Belleville Veterans’ Council will be conducting a service to commemorate The Battle of Vimy Ridge, Victory in Europe and The Battle of the Atlantic this Sunday, May 15 at 1400 hours at the Belleville Cenotaph. A reception will be held at Unit 201, 187 Front St. immediately after the service. Be sure to mark this date on your calendar.
Also on the agenda at Unit 201 are: May 28 Country Roots will perform beginning at 1900 hours and on June 11 The Shadowz are on deck for a return engagement. Mark these dates on your calendar.
Support our Troops, wear red on Friday.


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Early defender divined Canada’s weakness

Post by Guest on Mon 09 May 2016, 12:12

The Fenian raids were a threat to Canada, but the response to them helped to forge the nation. And one of the men who shaped that response was Sir John Michel.

Michel was born in Dorset, England in 1804, the son of a lieutenant-general of the same name. Educated at Eton, he joined the British army at a young age and served in various posts in India, South Africa and China before finally being posted to Canada in 1865.

His job was to replace Lt.-Gen. Sir William Fenwick Williams, the commander of British forces in North America. Michel was in charge of protecting Canada, just as Canada was forming.

And Canada did need protecting. The U.S. Civil War was wrapping up, releasing thousands of war-hardened veterans from national service in America. At this same time, a strong national pride was swelling in Ireland and in the U.S. Many Irish men had left their homeland to fight in the civil war and now, seasoned warriors, were turning their minds to settling a score with Mother England.

The Fenians planned to seize Canada and use it as a bargaining chip to push the English-led British forces out of Ireland. Raids into Canada began almost as soon as the veterans returned home.

Michel took control of both the volunteer militia and British regulars stationed in Canada which, at the time, went as far west as Ontario. Nine companies of volunteers were called out for border defence in November, 1865. London was reinforced with regular troops and Michel ordered the telegraph network in the eastern region to be bolstered.

In Michel’s mind, communication was key — almost more than “boots on the ground” strategies. Michel had taken a reconnaissance by canoe — picture the top commander of land and naval forces in Canada in a canoe, being paddled up the St. Lawrence, up the Ottawa River, up the Mattawa River, across Lake Nipissing, down the French River to Georgian Bay and Lake Huron.

That journey scared Michel. Not because of the rapids, mosquitoes, black flies, portages, bears, wolves or other hazards. It was the time it took to do it.

After the journey he became an advocate for a unified Canada — a patchwork of nation states facing the giant on the other side of the border, and the troublesome Fenians who lived there, would not do.

In March 1866 the government called for 10,000 volunteers and got 14,000. There were more Fenian raids that year and in June when the call for more volunteers came, about 20,000 men answered. All were placed under Michel. He also requested two more battalions of regulars from Britain.

The Fenian threat was felt to be so real, panic set in the country. At one point an unknown vessel entering Owen Sound on a Sunday morning caused the Leith-area farmers to interrupt church service with a call to arms. They marched off to their pre-arranged camps. The invading vessel turned out to be a fishing boat, but the men were gone for two weeks — not convinced the threat was over, and the whiskey “being still in good supply at the camp.”

By 1867, the British government had 15,000 regular troops in Canada, in addition to the local militia — a result of Michel’s requests, both direct and through Governor General Viscount Monck. Eventually, Michel and Monck disagreed about how many regulars were required in Canada, with Monck acceding to British pressure to reduce the costs.

Michel took over for Monck as administrator of the government when Monck travelled to England to participate in debates over the future of Canada. Michel wanted the colony to take on more responsibility for its own protection. Canadian politicians, reticent to take on the cost of defence, were less keen.

For example, when Michel was informed of a possible threat and asked the minister of militia to call out volunteers, the minister declined, and informed Sir John A. Macdonald, the new prime minister, “Our Volunteers are still sleeping with their wives to the great comfort of both and with great prospective benefit to the country.”

Michel’s work in Canada was ended suddenly when his wife’s health deteriorated. He left for England in October, 1867. But he left behind him a young and unified nation.


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Wegner Point tragedy remembered

Post by Guest on Sun 08 May 2016, 19:46

GARRISON PETAWAWA – It remains one of the worst peacetime training accidents in Canadian military history.

On Sunday morning, soldiers past and present, survivors of that accident, friends and family braved the bitter winds and occasional snow to solemnly observe the 48th anniversary of the Wegner Point tragedy, that terrible day when seven paratroopers drowned in the Ottawa River. They gathered at the memorial cairn built on the spot overlooking the site of the accident, located close to the hangers of 427 Squadron, to honour the memory of the men who had died.

On the night of May 8, 1968, during what was supposed to have been a routine training exercise, 22 paratroopers were blown off course and landed in the frigid water of the Ottawa River off the shores of Wegner Point.

Despite the courageous efforts of the people who tried to rescue them, seven soldiers were lost - Master Warrant Officer Reginald Riddell, Warrant Officer Michael McDonnell, Cpl. Hugh Fields, Cpl. Bob Knight, Cpl. Dennis Clements, Cpl. Jim Misener and Cpl. Bruce Chiswell.

The men were members of 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment and the 2nd Signals Squadron.

Padre Michel Gagne said they are gathered to pay tribute to the loss of seven soldiers who were someone’s son, father, husband, uncle or friend.

“We mourn them, and continue to remember them,” he said. “Let us never forget the lives of those commemorated by this memorial.”

Following the playing of The Last Post, two minutes of silence, and the piper’s lament, the Act of Remembrance was recited. The names of the seven were read aloud, reveille sounded, then a laying of wreaths in memory of the paratroopers. One was placed by Steven Fields, the son of Cpl. Fields.

Lt.-Col. Richard Raymond, commander of 4th Canadian Division Support Base (4CDSB) Operations Services, represented Garrison Petawawa at the service. He said this event speaks for itself, adding it is important to recognize the soldiers lost in training, who are often overlooked unlike those who died in overseas operations who have days set aside for them to be honoured.

This is why observing this memorial service is so important.

“We don’t often recognize those lost in training,” Lt.-Col Raymond said, “but they are no less dedicated or committed than the ones we lose in operations.”

Petawawa Councillor Murray Rutz said one can only imagine the sequence of events which led to the Wegner Point tragedy, but said it is important to remember it and those lost, to keep memories alive of the men and the event itself, as well as the friendships that remain strong among the survivors to this day.

“Here today we still realize the importance to gather here with family and friends to reflect and remember,” he said.

Dennis Stow, who has been coordinating the annual memorial service, and was on the ground at the time of the accident, explained the Wegner Point tragedy continues to have significance, and it is important for the families, friends of survivors to commemorate this event, so the seven will be remembered by future generations.

"This memorial service must never be forgotten," he said, “and we’ll keep it going for as long as we can.”

Stow thanked all those who attended the service, including representatives from the Royal Canadian Regiment, 2CMBG HQ and Sigs, representatives of the Canadian Army Veterans Anzio Motorcycle Unit, and members of Branch 517 and Branch 72 Royal Canadian Legion among others, saying it is people like them who keep this memorial going.


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Jane's Walk in East York documents community's long history with service and sacrifice

Post by Guest on Sun 08 May 2016, 19:43

Bill Lewis is well aware how enthusiastic he gets when the topic turns to the history of his beloved East York.
But the 89-year-old can’t help himself.
“I get really excited,” he said, his eyes bright.
The East York Historical Society member was one of about a dozen participants who braved the rain Sunday, May 8 for Jane’s Walk Victory on the Home Front: East York and WWII - which happened to fall on Victory in Europe (V-E) Day.
It was 71 years ago when Nazi Germany was defeated on May 8, 1945, ending the Second World War.
Lead by Evan McMurtry, a historical interpreter at Todmorden Mills Heritage Site, the 2.5 kilometre walk highlighted East York’s wartime experiences, support, and commemorations during the Second World War.
The first stop on the 90 minute walk was at William Burgess Elementary School, which opened in 1915. McMurtry noted patriotism was instilled in the students, adding the school’s cadet corps was lead by First World War veterans from the 80th Veterans Guard Cadet Corps.
Lewis, who jumped in with tales of growing up in East York when the group would pause at various sites, said he knew of 10 young men who never made it home from war.
I walked into class and the teacher was in tears,” he said, adding someone the neighbourhood knew well had died.
Near Donlands and Torrens avenue, McMurtry pointed out Pie in the Sky Studios, the site of the former Donlands Theatre.
“They would show good patriotic movies during the war,” he said.
Close to Cosburn and Greenwood avenues, McMurtry noted quite a bit of East York land was settled by veterans, who were able to purchase homes without heavy interest during the war.
The walk paused at Dieppe Park on Cosburn Avenue, where McMurtry noted a plaque by the City of Toronto, which read:
On August 19, 1942, six thousand allied troops embarked on 250 vessels from southern England on a daylight raid on the German occupied French resort town of Dieppe. Almost 5000 of these soldiers were young Canadian men.
Of the Canadians who embarked on the raid, almost 4000 were killed, wounded or taken prisoner.
Of the 1000 soldiers who returned to England, 600 of them were wounded.
On Jan. 11, 1943, East York Township Council renamed this site Dieppe Park. This plaque is a permanent memorial to honour the brave soldiers who fought and died for our country.
The final stop of the walk was near R.H. McGregor Elementary School, which was designated as an emergency hospital during the Second World War, McMurtry said, adding one classroom was used as a morgue.
The school also had a roll of honour - a record of students killed in action.
“I hope people took away my method of looking at traces of the (historic) city that are still here in the urban fabric,” McMurtry said. “It’s like when you look at a house that’s old and wonder who lives there.”
Jane’s Walks, which were held in Toronto Friday to Sunday, are free, locally organized walking tours, in which people get together to explore, talk about and celebrate their neighbourhoods.
The walks were held in honour of the late Jane Jacobs, an urbanist and activist who championed a community-based approach to city building.


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Post by Guest on Wed 04 May 2016, 05:55

The 75th anniversary of the Battle of Hong Kong is being commemorated across Canada by veterans and survivors of Japanese occupation and their families. About 2,000 Canadians fought to defend Hong Kong against Japanese occupation in Canada’s first combat mission of the Second World War.

“They were relatively inexperienced. A lot of them were new recruits,” says Patrick Donovan, curator of the exhibit Hong Kong and the Home Front at the Morrin Centre in Québec City, Quebec. “A lot of them learned to fire their rifles on the boat ride over.”

The Royal Rifles of Canada, Quebec City’s main English-speaking regiment, and the Winnipeg Grenadierswere sent to Hong Kong in fall of 1941 to join a battalion of commonwealth forces totalling 14,000 troops.

On December 8, 1941, Japanese aircraft began attacking Hong Kong. A day earlier, they had attacked Pearl Harbor. The defence of Hong Kong ended almost three weeks later when Canadian and other defending troops were forced to surrender. Among Canadian troops, 290 were killed and 493 were wounded.

Hong Kong and several other countries and territories were occupied by Japan for the duration of the war. On November 4, 1948, the International Military Tribunals for the Far East found 25 Japanese military and government officials guilty of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Second World War.

Personal experiences of war

“The occupation is something we never talk about,” says Sovita Chander, whose father grew up in Japanese-occupied British Malay. The former president of the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, which runs theMorrin Centre, Chander says she learned about this period of her father’s life through his memoirs.

“I can't imagine my own children — now in university — having to go through that, and my heart goes out to my parents who were so young at that time,” says Chander.

Her father’s memoirs describe how at the age of six, he and his family spent a day in an underground shelter as the Japanese army passed overhead. The next day, he watched his father stay with a dying Indian soldier, who he buried the next day.

“Despite the atrocities, horror, and depravation, he held no animosity for the former occupiers,” says Chander of her father, noting that Malaya was also a British colony. “He developed an international outlook that was liberal and tolerant.”

Chander says it’s important to tell the story of the people from the Québec City region who were in Hong Kong, including some people who were involved with the Morrin Centre at the time.

Remembering tragedy

“We tend to focus a lot on the victories of the war and it tends to glorify the whole business of war,” says Donovan of the Centre’s exhibit. “It's important to look at some of the defeats, and this story is a tragedy.”

He says the soldiers who were not killed were held in Japanese Prisoner of War camps for the duration of the War. Many prisoners died of malnutrition or diseases related to lack of food.

According to Veterans Affairs Canada, more than 550 of the almost 2,000 Canadians who went to Hong Kong never returned.

“The Japanese still have not come to terms with what they did in the Second World War,” says Judy Lam Maxwell, whose mother lived under Japanese occupation in Hong Kong as a child.

“She had told me that because her father was a doctor, he could hide the kids in the hospital and they would be safe from harm,” says Lam Maxwell. “My mom, her siblings, and her mom are fortunate to have survived.” She says that her grandfather, or Goong Goong, was tortured by the Japanese, but also survived.

Commemorating the Battle

Lam Maxwell heard the stories of other survivors when she travelled to Hong Kong with ex-servicemen from Canada several years ago. She collected newspaper articles from Canada and Hong Kong that will be part of an exhibit at Centre A in Vancouver, B.C. later this year to commemorate the Battle of Hong Kong.

“Many of the Canadians and immigrants from Hong Kong living in Canada do not know this history and it’s important for museums and historians to share the significant link between Canada and Hong Kong,” says King Wan, president of the Chinese Canadian Military Museum Society.

The Chinese Canadian Military Museum in Vancouver will showcase “Force 136” on May 14 as part of Asian Heritage Month to commemorate Chinese-Canadians who joined the Special Operations Executive in East Asia during the war.

He notes that at the time, people of Chinese descent were prohibited from joining Canada’s armed forces. While many were rejected, recruiters who were eager to meet quotas accepted some Chinese-Canadians who enlisted.

The policy against Chinese recruitment was rescinded after the British government pressured the Canadian government to recruit Chinese-Canadians, as they could easily assimilate into East-Asian society and work for the army undercover. More than 700 Chinese-Canadians joined the Canadian army, mostly in British Columbia.

The museum will also commemorate the Battle of Hong Kong with another exhibit in the fall.

For Wan, whose family immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong, he feels these events are especially important so that we remember the service of both Chinese and Canadian soldiers who served in Asia and in the Battle of Hong Kong.


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A multi-talented patriot

Post by Guest on Fri 29 Apr 2016, 17:33

Edward Brokovski was an immigrant to Simcoe County who threw himself with enthusiasm -- and, apparently, limitless energy -- into all aspects of his new life in Canada, including military, education, culture and business.

His father, also named Ed, fled Poland after taking part in the Polish insurrection of 1831, landing in London, England. He met and married Hannah Hayne and the couple left for the continent. Both studied piano under Franz Schubert in Vienna.

Ed the younger was born in London in 1838 and left for Upper Canada, now known as Ontario, in 1857. He initially settled in Toronto with his family, but a year later was in Simcoe County, teaching in Craighurst. When he married, he and his wife moved to Coldwater.

Even while working in Simcoe County, he remained a volunteer with the rifle company he had joined in Toronto.

The 1861 diplomatic incident known as the Trent Affair increased his interest -- and the interest of others -- in military defence. During the American Civil War, the Americans boarded a British ship. The British didn't like other people boarding their ships and demanded an apology. The incident was resolved without the apology, but it made Britain and Canada realize just how vulnerable Canada was. When Britain sent reinforcements to Canada, the fastest way to get to the interior was through the States. Having to travel through the land of your potential enemy is not ideal, so Canadians realized they had to at least be able to slow an American attack.

This made military types throughout Canada sit up and take notice. Brokovski, being a man of action, helped organize the 10th Battalion Volunteer Rifle Company, which eventually became the 35th Battalion of Infantry, which eventually became the Grey and Simcoe Foresters. He continued serving with the newly created unit as a drill instructor.

In November 1864, Brokovski joined the Barrie Volunteer Militia Rifle Company, which was the seed unit of the 35th Battalion of Infantry -- with the Barrie company, he was a lance corporal.

In 1866, the Fenian raids by the U.S.-based Irish organization targeting the British army and institutions in Canada were starting to become a problem. Brokovski was with the local militia when it was ordered south to the border, and his was among the loudest voices calling for a strong militia and better facilities.

The cry was picked up around the county. While Barrie was organizing a battalion, Collingwood, under John Hogg, put together a battery of Garrison artillery. Meanwhile, the county provided for the wives and families of the volunteers in active service with a grant of $2 for each wife or invalid adult and 25 cents per child, per week. Some towns chipped in additional funds.

The federal government also determined drill sheds would be needed, and Barrie was to get a battalion headquarters building.

In all, they built eight drill sheds for the companies, starting in 1867 -- the first, in Collingwood, and the rest, in Cookstown, Orillia, Oro, Duntroon, Bradford, Bond Head and Rosemont. The headquarters in Barrie was called the best in the province when finished.

In the summer of 1868, Brokovski wrote to the prime minister of the newly formed country of Canada, Sir John A. Macdonald, warning him about suspected Fenian activity in the Lake Simcoe area. Later in the year, Brokovski's wife took ill and died.

Brokovski eventually earned a lieutenant's commission in 1869 on the strength of his military dedication. He regularly attended the School of Military Instruction in Toronto, and he formed the North Simcoe Teachers Drill Association (he was still a teacher while doing all this) as well as helping with the military cadet formations in the county. Like a superhero whose work was done in one place, Brokovski moved on to another. In the fall of 1869, he was hired by the Canadian Southern Railway Company out of Fort Erie and, by June 1870, he'd moved to Winnipeg to work as a surveyor. Within a year, he was one of those in charge of federal survey parties in the Winnipeg area.

As if being a teacher, serving in the militia, helping to found two rifle companies and a battalion, raising awareness for better militia facilities and becoming an engineer and surveyor weren't enough, Brokovski decided to buy a newspaper. In September 1872, he bought the Manitoba Gazette and Trade Review.

During the election later that September, the paper backed Donald Smith, a millionaire who had the support of the king, no less. That only helped to polarize things in Winnipeg, where there was a large populace of Francophones and Métis. A riot broke out and Brokovski's newspaper was attacked.

He was not as good at running a newspaper as he was a classroom, and by 1874, the paper was out of business.

But Brokovski wasn't out of the newspaper business -- he became a reporter. He also joined the fire department and was one of the organizers of the Manitoba Rifle Association and of the local board of trade.

In 1876, he remarried, and he and his new wife were active in the local arts community, with both taking part as musicians and actors. In fact, they were involved in the founding of the Winnipeg Orchestra and the dramatic arts club. Brokovski's wife was one of the first women to play a role on stage in Canada. Prior to this, women were portrayed by men. In the summers, he travelled to Toronto to promote immigration to Manitoba. (He was also a real-estate agent.)

By 1882, he was back living in Ontario and had his own bridge-inspection business.

Next, he was made a justice of the peace and notary public, but that required another move -- to Northwest Territories. Then he was back in the real-estate business, in a way -- he was agent of the Dominion Lands branch of the Department of the Interior, moving south to Moosomin, Sask. In 1887, he moved to take up the same position in Battleford. But as he was a backer of conservative politicians, when the liberals came to power in 1896, he lost his job.

No matter; he sold insurance.

At the age of 72, he filed for a homestead in Prongua district, west of Battleford, where he ended his days as a notary and justice of the peace and carried on his support of things military. He led the veterans' church parade in 1913 at the age of 75.

When he died three years later, he was the oldest resident in the area and was remembered as a kindly man, generous and patriotic.


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Sacred graves of Jewish war veterans flooded by Toronto condo development say caretakers

Post by Guest on Wed 27 Apr 2016, 18:27

The graves of several Canadian Jewish war veterans have been flooded at a memorial in site in north-end Toronto. The only of its kind memorial in Canada houses the graves of more than three hundred Jewish veterans who fought for Canada during the First World War and Second World War.

“You opened a grave and it was dry,” said Allan Rubin who says prior to construction at Downsview Park there wasn’t a problem. Rubin is a Cold War and NATO Veteran tasked with caring for the graves of fellow veterans – people he knew personally.

“Sid Sears was a real estate agent,” Rubin recalled fondly. “When I was a kid, he supported our hockey team.”

“When you see something like that emotionally it’s very upsetting,” he said.

In January, Rubin said a pipe was left open for several days at the construction site in Downview Park by a contractor – it’s unclear which one. Water flowed into the cemetery and froze, according to Rubin.

He fears the expanding and contracting of the freezing and melting ice has cracked the foundation of the grave stones. At least one was toppled over on Tuesday.

Back in 2014 water from below, subsurface, also flooded several graves according to Rubin. “Since they started tearing down buildings [at Downview],” he said. Rubin believes it’s subsurface water from the construction site that’s intruding into the cemetery.

“I believe when you have water on your property it’s your responsibility to ensure the water is diverted properly, and not onto the property adjoining.”
The Canada Lands Company (CLC) is the developer in the area. They’re a federally-owned crown corporation and in a statement to Global News deny wrongdoing.

“There does not appear to be a geotechnical reason such a phenomenon would occur,” wrote Manon Lapensee, Director of Corporate Communication for the CLC.

“We know that groundwater levels have been an issue in this area for a number of years. In our discussions with cemetery officials they have indicated that they have had issues, and in fact, undertook work a number of years ago to try and manage the groundwater.”

Local councillor Maria Augimeri says she was horrified when she learned of the damage.

“This is total destruction in the Downsview community, the [federal government] are turning a deaf ear and blind eye to what is happening here.”

Augimeri has written to two members of parliament and has even asked for the Canada Lands Company to be fired. She explains there’s little the city can do to stop development.

“The federal government has primacy over every other government in Canada – including provincial.”
Rubin says he’s not thinking about a lawsuit; he just wants the problem fixed. “Once the buildings go up it’s much harder to find out the cause,” he said.

A detailed analysis is expected later in the spring which will provide greater clarity on the extent and cause of the damage.


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Saying ‘thank you’: West Nova veterans receive commemorative gifts

Post by Guest on Wed 27 Apr 2016, 14:02

ALDERSHOT - Five Second World War and Korean War veterans were presented with West Nova Scotia Regimental watches at the April meeting of the Valley Memory Club, a gathering of current and former members of the West Nova Scotia Regiment.

Commanding Officer of the West Novas, Lt.-Col. Todd Harris and John Schofield, a 32-year employee with Canadian Tire, made the presentations to Hubert Sullivan of Wolfville and Gordon Hansford of Kentville who fought in Second World War and to Bob Schofield of New Minas, Mike Ricketts of Kentville, and Arnold Burbidge of Centreville who served in Korean War.

“It showed that they haven’t forgotten,” Hansford said.

Canadian Tire funded the regiment’s project to present unique watches to its 20 living Second World War and Korean War veterans. Harris plans to present watches to the remaining 15 West Nova combat veterans in the coming months.

This is the first time a regimental watch has been created for the West Novas. Each watch is plated with 24-karat gold and has a black square face bearing the words “West Nova Scotia Regiment” below the regimental badge. The badge includes four pieces of Nova Scotia history: the Scottish cross of St. Andrew, the Bluenose, the Grand Pré chapel, and our provincial flower, the mayflower

The West Nova Scotia Regiment is one of Canada’s oldest military units, with a history stretching back to 1717. They were part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the First World War, as the 112th Battalion and the 219th Battalion. In the Second World War the West Novas earned 26 battle honours in the Italian and North-West European Campaigns. Since then members of the Regiment have served in Yugoslavia, Cyprus, Haiti, and the Middle East, and the regiment has earned a new battle honour, Afghanistan, because so many of its soldiers served there.

The Memory Club meets every month at Camp Aldershot. Their meetings are open to former members of the Canadian Armed Forces and feature a guest speaker on a topic of interest. Several of their members are currently involved in organizing an eight-month exhibit at the Kings County Museum. It will focus on the role of West Nova Scotia snipers during the Second World War with special attention to Oren Foster, who served overseas from December 1939 to November 1945.


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Victoria veterans mark 65th anniversary of Battle of Kapyong

Post by Guest on Wed 27 Apr 2016, 10:53

A soldier sets up a machine gun on top of Mount Doug in Saanich, taking aim at a long-forgotten enemy from a forgotten battle in a forgotten war.

“For Canada, the Korean War is the third bloodiest conflict just after World War I and World War II,” says Korean war veteran John Bishop.

It’s here on this Saanich mountaintop, dressed in Korean War uniforms, that military re-enactors are marking the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Kapyong.

Kapyong is one of the most important but least known Canadian military battles.

Against overwhelming odds, the Second Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Light Infantry fought off the Chinese, causing the Chinese communist People’s Volunteer Army to retreat.

“Seven hundred Canadians on a small mountain top in Korea held off thousands — perhaps 10,000 Chinese — in a three-day running battle,” explains military re-enactor Simon Sobolwski. “Of the 700 men, there’s only 12 survivors.”

Two of those survivors , Colonel Murray Edwards who was the battalion quartermaster and John Bishop joined re-enactors on Sunday, sharing their first-hand accounts of the historic battle.

“Our brigade inflicted such heavy casualties on the Chinese at that time that they never again mounted a major offensive,” says retired Col. Murray Edwards. “That’s why the Americans considered it a turning point.”

“There were bigger battles fought by the Canadians but when you consider we were a lone battalion and we were surrounded and we were the last battalion standing it was quite a precarious time,” says Kapyong veteran John Bishop.

More than six decades later, having the war heroes on hand for the re-enactment was a rare treat.

“It’s not often you get to meet someone who was at an actual battle,” says military re-enactor Tony Austin. “He’s living history.”

And it’s a history lesson they hope we all can benefit from.

“The Korean War tends to be the forgotten war and this is a forgotten battle so we need to remember what we have today was earned in blood — it doesn’t come free,” says Austin.


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