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Re: History / Topics & Posted Articles

Post by Rags on Sat 12 Jan 2013, 17:09

I read the articles, i was aware of the case and interested in it as many of us have been in the same situations. The board of inquire got it right IDF responsible. The speculation that he was targeted because he reported War Crimes is not a valid argument. It makes sense UN post was on target list thats standard unpleasant as that may appear to non military/combat types. If enemy occupied it or near it for cover during fight and drew fire of IDF thats rather typical and rather standard procedure also. Shelling a UN OP that is used for cover by enemy is typical and not unacceptable conduct unfortunate as that may appear. Im confused as to the allegations of cover up or deception or inaction. Not many countries issue all details of combat deaths that are sensitive they usually just show basic investigation with the result >>>in this case they accepted blame. The BOI got the answer right IDF responsible, Why the IDF targeted the complex is the question which is also obvious and that they did so is also no secret. Is it right and proper? Nothing in war is. It just is what it is.....Sad. I suspect the answer is the IDF targeted UN Post cause it was used as cover by enemy. I would speculate they expected or thought the UN had left the post as they should have as un armed UN Observers in a full blown war zone right on the front line should do. It is a tragic and sad waste of the lives of 4 remarkable soldiers life. Im sure they did plenty of good whilst alive and in there deaths one hopes something was achieved. We can only hope and honour them.

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Re: History / Topics & Posted Articles

Post by Ex Member on Fri 11 Jan 2013, 22:03

What a story, thanks for sharing it

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The "Lost Platoon" Savio River, Italy, October 1944

Post by 56 Signals on Fri 11 Jan 2013, 21:50

The “Lost Platoon”, Savio River, Italy, 1944

My father was H-16691, Sgt. Nick Zroback MiD, platoon commander of 16 pl., D Coy, PPCLI during the battle at the Savio River in northern Italy. This account of the battle is what was told to me by my father.

Commanding Officer of the Patricias was Lt. Col. Cameron B. Ware who referred to Sergeant Zroback as that “Sears and Robuck Guy” as he had difficulty pronouncing the surname Zroback. The CO had been ordered by the Brigade Commander to “throw a couple of companies of Patricias across the river” so from this we can ascertain that very little planning went into this push across the Savio.

Sergeant Zroback briefed his platoon at the O Group on the evening of 20 October 1944, stating that it was deer hunting season in Canada and wished them all good shooting. Officer Commanding D Company ordered that no radios were to be taken with the assault troops as they would be damaged by water and become non-serviceable.

It had been raining for some days and the river was rising and flowing very fast with a strong current. While crossing the river with his under-strength platoon, they experienced heavy fire from the German positions on the far side. German “potato masher” hand grenades were thrown by the enemy and they sort of floated a bit before exploding. Sixteen platoon reached the far side of the Savio and under very heavy gunfire by “Jerry”. The platoon objective was taken and from my father’s account, prisoners were taken and he detailed an escort party to take them back across the river. The platoon had no radio communications at this time so there was no contact with Coy HQ. The remaining members of 16 platoon took up positions in the German fortifications on the river bank.
When the enemy counter-attacked, the Patricias found themselves with very little cover as the trenches were fortified facing the river and the rear was exposed. My dad, said that “all hell broke loose” and the platoon was being overwhelmed. At this time there was no support from artillery or aircraft so the Patricias were on their own relying on small arms to repel the counter-attack. The platoon was now down to six members. Sgt. Nick Zroback sent his runner, Pte. Felix Carrier back to Coy HQ to inform the Coy Commander that 16 pl was in trouble and it was not known how long they could hold out.
Carrier, ran off along the levee only to be hit by the blast of an enemy grenade which knocked him out for some time.
When Carrier came to, he went back to the platoon location and found the site deserted then reported back to Coy HQ.

The counter-attack by elements of the 26th German Panzer Grenadier Division was very intense and this small band of Patricia’s were running very low on ammunition, and with no hope of holding this position or withdrawing, Sergeant Zroback made the decision to surrender.

He was immediately separated from his men and interrogated. One of the German officers received a fatal shot from a sniper located in a building up river and Sergeant Zroback strongly felt that he would be executed right there and then. Before this could be carried out, a senior German officer intervened saving Sergeant Zroback’s life.
He was transported back to the enemy rear echelon and interrogated again but this time the treatment he received was worse. He has told me that on the original capture, he was treated fairly well under the circumstances but the further back he was sent the worse the treatment became. He felt this was because the combatants respected each other as front-line soldiers.

Sergeant Zroback was now a prisoner of war and he along with other allied POWs were loaded into railway cattle cars and transported across the Alps to Bavaria.
The conditions in the cattle cars were very crowded, sanitary conditions were extremely poor and no food or water was available. POW’s would put their fingers through the slats in the sides of the cattle car to get moisture in the form of dew in an attempt to ease their thirst. Because of the crowded conditions, not everyone could sit down at once so the prisoners took turns standing or sitting. The onboard latrine consisted of a wooden box which overflowed and the stench was terrible.
As the train made its ascent up the Alps it became very cold. The POWs were hungry, thirsty, tired, sore, cold and cranky and in general their nerves were frayed. Once the train reached the Brenner Pass and began its descent it became warmer and it eventually stopped at the railway station in Munich, Germany. The prisoners were fed upon arrival in Munich and each given a chunk of black bread.

Sergeant Nick Zroback and the other allied prisoners arrived in Moosburg Germany, a small village located about 32 kilometers north of Munich and detrained at Stalag VIIA. Upon arrival, Sergeant Zroback had his photograph taken and given his prisoner of war identification disc #140488.
Prisoners were issued two blankets, a bowl, a spoon, and two pieces of cloth measuring about 18 inches square.
The barracks were infested with lice and bed bugs so “de-lousing” which consisted of a guard spraying powdered DDT down the front of each POWs pants, was done on a regular basis.

My father explained that their uniforms had all their metal buttons cut off and when washed, their woolen battle dress shrank. This meant that everyone was wearing uniform clothing which was now too small and there was nothing to hold up their trousers.
Dad told me that his socks had worn out and he asked for a replacement issue. The procedure for requests and complaints had to go through an allied officer who was known as a “man of confidence”, so Dad asked for new socks. This was when he was informed that the two pieces of cloth he was issued when he arrived were in fact his “socks”. Apparently he had used them as dish rags and was not aware that they were “foot cloths”.

Fortunately, my father met a South African soldier named Desmond Butler who had been taken prisoner by the Germans in North Africa. Butler had been a prisoner of war for two years, could speak German and knew how to barter and trade items with the guards. They became good friends and after the war, Butler visited my father in Kenora, Ontario. Cigarettes and other valuables became like currency at Stalag VIIA.

Red Cross parcels became something to look forward to. The Canadian Red Cross parcels were by far the best and had the best bargaining contents. A group of six prisoners would share a parcel and each would take turns having the contents cut and sorted on their own blanket since the owner could keep the crumbs. Contents of the Canadian Red Cross parcel included, powdered milk, spam, salmon, butter, raisins, cheese, sugar cigarettes, chocolate bar, corned beef, sardines, coffee or tea, jam, crackers and soap.

One time during his incarceration at Stalag VIIA, my father visited the section in which the Russian prisoners were being held. Apparently the Russians had managed to make some potato champagne and were getting somewhat drunk. My father made a hasty retreat when he overheard the Russians saying that he may be a German spy and were planning to kill him. Dad spoke Ukrainian and was able to understand quite well what was being said.
On one occasion my father in company with Desmond Butler were allowed to go out of the camp under guard to forage for food. They found a horse’s head which was somewhat maggoty, brought it back to camp, boiled it up and made a great soup.
My father recalled when prisoners in his group waited outside the camp hospital for potato peels thrown out in the garbage. This privilege was denied after a British spitfire aircraft flew over the camp and strafed the potato wagon.

Dad became so impressed with the German Shepherd dogs deployed in and around Stalag VIIA that he purchased one on his repatriation to Canada.
He recalled that if the prisoners did not respond fast enough to “Raus! Raus! Ous!”( Go! Go! Out!) the well trained German Shepherds would snarl, snap and nip to ensure that everyone moved when told to. Dad also claims that these dogs could count during roll calls “antreten zum appel” while prisoners stood at attention outside their barracks.

There was a time when my father developed a severe tooth ache and wanted to see the camp dentist. So, going through the “man of confidence” he was able to see a dentist and had a cavity filled. He explained that the drill was foot operated and would grind fast then slow down while drilling out the cavity. The tooth was then filled with the silver paper from a cigarette package and tamped in solid. Years later he visited a dentist in Kenora and was asked “who the dentist was who filled your cavity?” When Dad explained that it was done by a German dentist at Stalag VIIA, the local dentist was amazed at the longevity of the cigarette paper filling and the skill involved in the procedure.

When asked how he was treated by the German guards in the POW camp, he explained that there were three types of guards, 1. The old soldiers from world war one. 2. Guards who were sort of misfits and unable to serve in the German army and 3. Guards who were full time soldiers and had been wounded and waiting to recuperate before being redeployed. The soldiers awaiting redeployment were by far the best guards and showed respect toward the prisoners. The camp commandant treated the Canadians fairly well under the circumstances because his son was being held as a prisoner of war in Canada and felt that if he treated the Canadians well, perhaps his son would be treated well also.

Sergeant Zroback recalled that “work parties” were common and carried out almost every day. Because Munich was a large manufacturing centre and a hub of railway transportation, the United States Air Force bombed the city by day and the Royal Air Force and Royal Canadian Air Force bombed by night. Prisoners of war from Stalag VIIA were required to repair and clean up the area after the bombings. It was explained to me that this work was done at a very slow pace in an attempt not to aid the axis powers in their war effort.

POW’s were transported to Munich for work detail by box car but if any work was to be done near Stalag VIIA, the work detail was marched to the location. On one of these marches, Sergeant Zroback along with two other Canadians, fell out of ranks and dropped into a ditch undetected. As the work detail marched off, the three became escapees and remained on the “lamb” for about two weeks before surrendering to US soldiers under the command of General Patton. Once captured by US soldiers, they were treated like prisoners of war. This is what Sergeant Zroback told me, quote:” Bill, they kicked our asses and hit us with their rifle butts”. Apparently, the war was near to being over, the was a lot of confusion and disarray, the escapees had only one identification disk, as the other had been forwarded to Geneva so could not positively prove that they were Canadian. Stalag VIIA was liberated in April of 1945 and Sergeant Zroback, along with his two comrades were incarcerated again. This time in Stalag VIIA by the Americans along with German soldiers who had been captured in the area.

Once, confirmation had been received from Geneva as to the identity of the three Canadians, they were released and transported to England awaiting their return to Canada.

The decision to surrender at the Savio river in October of 1944, haunted my father all through his life. One Victoria Cross recipient went on record saying that those who surrender to enemy were cowards. My father needed confirmation that had had done the right thing so attended a PPCLI reunion in Calgary, Alberta in the summer of 1976. There he met with his former runner, Private Felix Carrier and with his former Commanding Officer, Cameraon B. Ware. Both men reassured him that YES, he had taken the correct action under very difficult and dangerous circumstances. He was also informed by Ware, that his platoon became known as the “lost platoon” in the history of the regiment.
Sergeant Nick Zroback was a proud Patricia who had done his part, from the invasion of Sicily to his capture at the Savio River in Northern Italy.
The Savio River Bridgehead is one of the many battle honours of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.

“Once a Patricia, always a Patricia”

By his son:
William R. Zroback, CD
RC Signals

56 Signals
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Murder of Canadian Peacekeeper by the Israeli Government

Post by okrod on Fri 11 Jan 2013, 16:33

This is a story every canadian Veteran both retired and serving should read,and decide wether this cover up was for the common good or an exercise of deliberate inaction by DND and the Canadian Government to appease foreign relations with the Israeli government. I urge you to visit the Legion Magazine Website at legionmagazine .ca and read the investigative report,conducted by Adam Day. Also if you search the officers name Major Paeta Hess-Von Kruedener,you will get access to recent newspaper articles that brought this story to light over the holidays. You can also get access to the Board of Inquiry conducted by DND. I have made my decision on this matter,and I leave it up to you to do your own due diligence and form your own opinion. I have copies of the articles and the BOA if you are unable to find them. my email is

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Re: History / Topics & Posted Articles

Post by Rags on Mon 07 Jan 2013, 10:25

The RCMP are treated as PARA Military because they came form A and B Bty 1RCHA in the late 1800's. Same Steele was Sgt of No1 gun A Bty 1 RCHA when he and most of A Bty and B Bty 1 RCHA badged over to NWMP After 1 RCHA put down the rebellion out west. RCMP are all considered Gunners. They are welcome as equal members in a Gunners mess. The RCMP use 1873 as there founding date as they use the 1 RCHA Gunners date of founding. RCMP were only founded in 1908 (i may be off by a year) from the NWMP who were founded in 1880s from rebadging of 1 RCHA.
They have a sister 9 pounder and sister gatling gun in there HQ as a gift of connection between them and 1 RCHA. When the Guns were rebadged they took with them a pair of 9 pounder Guns and pair of Gatling guns from 1 RCHA to start the NWMP with. After they were returned as they were on 1 RCHAs inventory. They were years later refurbished and sent back as gifts of our mutual history and connection. Im not sure if any NWMP or RCMP ever got a VC I dont think so but im sure a Gunner or Cavalry soldier who rebadged over may have won one. I do believe some of the rebadged soldiers took a leave and went back to guns and went over seas during the Boar.Maybe one of them.

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Don't dilute Victoria Cross qualifications

Post by Teentitan on Sat 10 Nov 2012, 12:12

Ten days before Remembrance Day, an Australian soldier, Cpl. Dan Keighran, 29, was awarded that country’s third Victoria Cross in the war in Afghanistan.

According to his citation, he drew fire away from his comrades during an ambush and through “spectacular acts of bravery” is credited with saving all but one life of the members of his patrol.

Two VCs have been awarded to British soldiers in Afghanistan, one to a New Zealander. No Canadian soldier has been thus awarded.

Australia, Canada and New Zealand have created their own Victoria Crosses, awarded independently from the British version, but bearing the same likeness.

Instead of “For Valour” inscribed on the British VC, the Canadian version has in Latin “Pro Valore,” in order not to be favouring French or English.

In 2007, there was a political attempt to award the Canadian VC to the Unknown Soldier at re-dedication ceremonies in Ottawa. Objections by veterans scotched this impertinent plan.

The British awarded a ceremonial VC to the U.S. Unknown Soldier in Arlington, while the Americans awarded the Medal of Honour to the Unknown Soldier in Britain.

A concern among some is that the new “independent” VCs by the three Commonwealth countries, might be awarded more generously than the original VC, introduced in 1856 during the Indian Mutiny.

Since its inception, the VC has become progressively more difficult to win. In 156 years, only 1,356 VCs have been awarded to 1,353 men – with three men winning a bar to their VC. Two were medical doctors who won their first VC in the Boer War, courageously rescuing wounded while under fire, and then winning it again by saving wounded in WWI.

The only combat soldier who won the VC twice was a Kiwi, Charles Upham, who won the first VC in WWII on Crete, the second in North Africa, through “extraordinary aggressiveness and tenacious leadership in battle.”

During the award ceremony, King George VI asked Kiwi Gen. Howard Kippenberger if he thought Upham deserved the bar. The general replied: “Your Majesty, Capt. Upham has won the VC not just twice, but many times over.”

It is said the Upham, as a New Zealand farmer, would not allow a German car on his property. He died in 1994 at age 86.

One hopes Canada doesn’t dilute the qualifications for its VC. That hasn’t happened, but there’s understandable pressure to find a suitable “hero” to be the first Canadian to win the VC since Lt. Hammy Gray, a Fleet Air Arm pilot, dive-bombed his Corsair into a Japanese destroyer, sinking it, five days before Japan surrendered on Aug. 14, 1945. Gray was 27.

Sixteen Canadians won the VC in WWII – four of them while serving in British forces. In total, 98 VCs have gone to Canadians, mostly in WWI.

A curious truth about our 12 WWII VCs among Canadian forces, is that half the awards were given for saving others, not necessarily for killing the enemy. A willingness for self-sacrifice prevails in all.

While a lot of VCs later became politicians, only one person in the British Empire and subsequent Commonwealth was an MP before winning the VC. That was Col. Cy Peck of the Seaforth Highlanders who won the VC in WWI after being elected to the House of Commons while fighting in France. The colourful Peck died in Vancouver in 1956 at age 85.

In his book For Valour, British TV producer John Percival noted “it is remarkable how many VCs lost one or other of their parents when they themselves were children.” He speculates that this forced them to develop a sense of responsibility for others that lasted throughout their lives.

The Victoria Cross is the world’s most supreme award for valour, unmatched by any other nation. As Percival notes it “is a decoration without classes or degrees, equally available to all ranks, which is awarded only for individual acts of courage in the presence of the enemy.’”

King Edward VII called the VC “the most democratic and at the same time the most exclusive of all orders of chivalry.”

There’s a belief in the military that all ranks must salute a recipient of the VC – a false belief, but one that is often indulged in by all ranks.

Smokey Smith was the last living Canadian VC winner. He died in 2005 at age 91.
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Re: History / Topics & Posted Articles

Post by Ex Member on Sun 28 Oct 2012, 09:06

Interesting Smile

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Happy PoWs Prisoners and camp staff 'got along good. We didn't know any different'

Post by Teentitan on Sat 27 Oct 2012, 19:47

There is an often-told story about a Canadian soldier who escaped a PoW camp in Germany in the Second World War.

He got as far as a farm in Germany before a husband and wife caught him. Only the couple didn't immediately report him to authorities.

Instead, they conveyed to him that they had a son in the German army who had been captured and placed in a Canadian PoW camp. He was being held at the Whitewater PoW Camp in Riding Mountain National Park. Their son had been allowed to write home and told his parents not to worry, the Canadians were treating him better than the German army had.

So the couple invited the escaped Canadian soldier into their home, cooked him the best meal he'd eaten in months and gave him food and supplies to aid his escape. Then they bid him adieu with a "Grüss Gott!" (God bless).

There is a long history of mutual respect and admiration between Germans and Canadians, once you get past the political leaders and power-brokers. The Whitewater PoW camp was a prime example.

"I was a pearl diver," joked Peter Ewasiuk, meaning a dishwasher, in the Whitewater camp. Ewasiuk was just 15 years old. He was living on his parents' farm north of Sandy Lake when his uncle got him the job in 1943. The camp operated from October 1943 to October 1945.

Ewasiuk, 84, who now lives in Brandon, is one of the few surviving eyewitnesses to the Whitewater camp.

Ewasiuk slept in the barracks set aside for staff. He awoke at 5 a.m. every day to cut bread with a hand crank for the 450 prisoners. Breakfasts were hearty.

"The prisoners had bacon and eggs in the morning, or ham and eggs," said Ewasiuk. Then Ewasiuk and two others washed dishes.

For dinner, it was not uncommon for the PoWs to eat steak or stew. Then Ewasiuk washed dishes again. Another of Ewasiuk's jobs was to haul wood to the stoves for cooking and heating. He wouldn't be finished until 10 p.m.

Ewasiuk was impressed with the Germans. Whitewater held the lowest-risk German soldiers, from the Afrika Korps, captured in Egypt after the Second Battle of El-Alamein.

"I met a professor. He was quite a smart gentleman. He didn't want to fight a war, but he got drafted. Prof. Blume was his name. He said when the war was over, he was going to go to New York and teach there. He had family there.

"They were really sharp people, smart in different things," Ewasiuk continued.

"They used to cut up blankets and made suits out of them."

Some men made dugout canoes for paddling Whitewater Lake. Remnants of the canoes can still be spotted on the shoreline of the former camp site.

There were engineers, mechanics, draftsmen, a dentist, as well as a medical officer who served as the commanding officer for the PoWs.

The conscripted German soldiers were as young as 16 and ranged up to their late 20s, like the professor. They would come into the staff building and barter for cigarettes. Many made ships in bottles to trade.

"We got along good. We didn't know any different," said Ewasiuk, who enlisted in the Canadian Forces the next year.

PoWs would put on a stage show once a week. The men in the audience, led by the stage performers, belted out songs with great gusto. Men also dressed up as women to play female roles. Someone would play accordion.

"Golly, we enjoyed that. They were good singers," said Ewasiuk.

"I used to go ice skating with them on Whitewater Lake. Some of them were really good skaters."

They purchased skates out of the 50 cents a day they earned cutting cord wood that was used to heat Manitoba homes.

As a 15-year-old, Ewasiuk was not always aware of issues in the camp. However, he believes the famous "pyjamas strike" must have been the time the men refused to work. With money earned from cutting cord wood, the men made a mass order of pyjamas from the Eaton's catalogue. When the pyjamas took a long time to arrive, the men got it into their heads that the authorities had stolen them for their own use.

"They refused to work. They didn't go wild about it. They just stayed silent. They gave them the silent treatment," said Ewasiuk. A status report on the pyjamas settled matters.

Of the 40 PoW camps across Canada during the Second World War, which interned 37,000 PoWs, Whitewater was the most lax. Prisoners even built a still to make their own alcohol, housed in the medical building. However, most of the alcohol the prisoners accessed probably came from outside the camp.

"(PoWs) had the greatest of freedom. There was no barbed-wire fence around camp. They just slashed trees (in a perimeter around the camp) and painted them with red markers, and the prisoner's weren't supposed to go past them."

They did anyway. Some were gone for three or four days at a time, visiting places on the edge of the park such as Olha, Oakburn and Horod and staying in farm homes at night.

There were a lot of dances in Horod and PoWs went there and met girls. They walked 15 kilometres to get to a dance. This was likely more common in the early days of the camp, when Ewasiuk worked there and when the camp was patrolled by 45 civilian guards, mainly men from the area.

Later, those guards were replaced by First World War veterans. It seems there was a crackdown at some point, and prisoners who went missing risked being shipped out to tougher PoW camps. So PoWs would attend rollcall after supper on Saturday, light out to the dance at Horod, and make it back by Sunday morning's rollcall. Local people even provided prisoners with civilian clothes. Their regular prison garb was a blue tunic, with a red stripe up the leg and a big red dot painted on the back.

Relations between the PoWs and neighbouring communities raised the ire of authorities and people of British descent. But to the Ukrainians and Poles living around the park, Germany, with its invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, was viewed as a liberator of their people back home in Ukraine and Poland. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had starved to death at least five million Ukrainians in 1932-33.

Whitewater had no guardhouse to discipline PoWs. Plus, the First Wold War vets were in their 50s, some even older, and were viewed as pushovers by the prisoners.

Neither were there guard towers or even guard dogs, only pet dogs for the prisoners.

At one point, the camp supervisor forbade any more dogs for pets because the camp was being overrun by them. The guards were also outnumbered, 450 to 45. They had rifles but didn't usually carry them.

"(PoWs) could get in and out of camp any time they wanted," said Ewasiuk.

Marc George, director of the Royal Canadian Artillery Museum in Shilo, is aware of the story about the German couple helping the escaped Canadian POW but doesn't know its origin.

"Most often stories like that are true," he said.

"Part of Canada's policy was to create an environment where the prisoners were happy," said Michael O'Hagan, of Ste. Rose du Lac, who is working toward a master's degree in history at the University of Western Ontario. He has studied Whitewater extensively.

One reason Canada made a conscious decision to treat German PoWs well was so Germany would treat Canadian PoWs well. But there were other reasons.

"By treating them like people, they're more likely to work, more likely to co-operate and less likely to escape," said O'Hagan.

Escape attempts from Whitewater were virtually nonexistent.
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Re: History / Topics & Posted Articles

Post by Whisky45 on Fri 21 Sep 2012, 19:35

Teentitian will do sorry for the late reply have been busy doing my Veterans advocating. Regards E
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Little left of PoW camps that dotted northern Ontario 70 years ago

Post by Teentitan on Fri 31 Aug 2012, 11:56

LAKE OF THE WOODS, Ont. - Birds circle in silence above Prisoner of War Bay like a snow dome for hundreds of metres back into the swamp.

Partly because of the richness of life that surrounds it, there isn’t much left to see on the site that was used as a German prisoner-of-war camp from 1943-1945.

Even now, it’s easy to tell why the site was chosen.

The nestled cove in the dark woods of northern Ontario feels like it’s the last refuge from the weather at the very edge of the Earth.

Fast-growing deciduous trees are rooted deep in the fields where wooden cabins once held 120 men working in a makeshift logging camp. Seven decades later, the conifers they cut for the Ontario-Minnesota Pulp and Paper Company have yet to return.

By almost all accounts, the 33,798 Germans sent to 26 camps and base camps throughout Canada during the Second World War were treated with strict adherence to the rules of engagement laid out in the 1929 Geneva Conventions. Soldiers maintained rank “within the wire” of capture and were able to choose to work, learn or volunteer to head across the vast country to camps like those on Prisoner of War Bay near Lake of the Woods, Ont.

C.M.V. Madsen and R.J. Henderson wrote in their 1993 book, German Prisoners of War in Canada and Their Artifacts: “In one sense, German PoWs recreated Germany in Canada. These men lived on small military cultural islands in a very strange enemy land.”

The Lake of the Woods camps were islands in a literal sense.

“I liked it very much because we were out of the barbed wire,” said Johannes Lieberwirth, who volunteered to be imprisoned here in what was then called Red Cliff Bay, back in 1944. The former broadcaster for South German Radio has passed away into history, just like the buildings that once stood here but his is the clearest story of life in this forest’s captivity. He enjoyed his time on Lake of the Woods so much that he returned in 1977 and has been the subject of almost every news and magazine article ever written on the camps.

Making 50 cents a day cutting wood to buy cigarettes, sweets or fishing gear was a snap after a while and he recalled the men swimming, carving, and canoeing through the summer’s days.

Lieberwirth and others described their fellow soldiers to be so close to their captors that they adopted a father-son relationship, leading to some remarkable situations. The supervisors would take the prisoners hunting, for example. There was one occasion where taking two prisoners to the dentist in Kenora, Ont. the guards became so inebriated at a local pub that the captives even held their rifles as they boated their captors back to camp.

He told the Daily Miner and News in 1990: “We came as temporary enemies in war and we left as permanent friends in peace.”

Down the lake, a finger-like river reaches out of Yellow Girl Bay. In the shelter of the rocks, remnants of camp Camp 52 have been protected from decades of storms on the Canadian Shield. Tools and bones are scattered on the site, amid the skeleton of a cabin whose logs are on their last step before returning to earth.

“I was homesick to Canada and to the lake,” German sailor and Oak Bay prisoner Hans Kaiser said of his 1953 return to Kenora, where he met two comrades who had already immigrated to the area. The carpenter worked in the local mill until his retirement.

“There was nothing there, just wilderness,” Kaiser recalled in a 1993 issue of Our Community Magazine. “It all had to be built.”

Those words echo down the channel as the wilderness takes all that was built back to nothing.
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Re: History / Topics & Posted Articles

Post by Teentitan on Fri 31 Aug 2012, 11:52

What were the rank and names of the RNWMP that recieved the VC? If you could a short bio and why they got the VC would be cool to read.
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Military History Of The RCMP

Post by Whisky45 on Mon 20 Aug 2012, 09:37

Military History Of The RCMP
Research done by Eric Rebiere (Former Cst. RCMP 37515 and CAF Veteran)
Member War Pensioners of Canada

1870/71 American incursions into the western territories of Canada in particular those based at Fort Whoop-up resulted in lawlessness due to the sale of crude n whisky to local Assiniboins Indians led by Chief Little Stony Spirit. This activity by the American whisky traders resulted in the Cypress Hill Massacre in 1871 with the murder of approx thirty men, women and children from the Assiniboins tribe.

As a result of this disturbing occurrence and the treat of loosing sovereignty of western part of Canada it was proposed that mounted troops needed to be sent to deal with lawlessness. The original proposal for the name of this new mounted force was the “North West Mounted Rifles” which was rejected because of objections by the United states of having the appearance military troops on their boarder and the reaction of the native tribes in western part of the Dominion. The name chosen for the soon to be formed mounted troops was the “North West Mounted Police “and organized “along the lines of a cavalry regiment in the British Army and was to wear red”. The first NWMP Commissioner, Lt. Colonel George A French formerly of the Commandant of the school Artillery in Kingston, based the new regiment on the Royal Irish Constabulary paramilitary force.

On August 30, 1873 an Act of Parliament (36 Vic, ch 35), May 23, 1873; Order in Council 1134, submitted by Prime Minister Sir John A MacDonald to Queen Victoria who gave Royal Accent for the formation of the North West Mounted Police.

July 8, 1874 Lt. Colonel French led his Mounted Force of 22 officers, 287 men, horses, wagons and provisions and two 9-pounder field guns. The other ranks were now titled as constables and sub constables under the supervision the soon to be famous Sargent Major S.B Steele . The March West had began and law and order was established as well as securing the sovereignty in the western part of the Canadian Dominion.

In 1885 the North West Mounted Police assisted in the effort to put down the North West Rebellion as a military force and suffered heavy losses during the Battle of Duck Lake.

In December, 1899 NWMP Commissioner L.W. Herchmer was authorized to start recruitment for the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles which consisted of 13 RNWMP officers and 118 NWMP non commissioned officers and men that were given leave of absence to contribute to the desperate need for cavalry in the Boar War. On January 27, 1900, Commissioner L.W. Herchimer who was in command of the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifle Regiment was given the military rank of Lt. Colonel and sailed for Cape Town South Africa from Halifax with the 2nd CMR. Two weeks after the departure Superintendant S.B. Steele was asked by his patriarch Lord Strathcona to form a regiment in his name that he would fund and that Lt. Colonel Samuel B. Steele would command. The Lords Strathcona Horse (LDSH) was raised consisting of 114 officers and men. Sergeant A. H. Richardson (NWMP) who served with the Lord Strathcona Horse was the recipient of the Victoria Cross the British Empires highest award for bravery.

On June 24, 1904 as a result of the distinguished service during the Boar War, King Edward Vll honored the NWMP by changing the name of the North West Mounted Police to the Royal North West Mounted Police.

In late 1917 early 1918 during World War 1, the Royal North West Mounted Police Cavalry Squadron joined the Canadian Corps Cavalry with men forming D Squadron one of four cavalry regiments forming the Canadian Light Horse consisting of the 19th Alberta Dragoons, 1st Hussars and the 16th Canadian Light Horse. A and D Squadrons served valiantly until the end of the war on November 11, 1918. In late 1917,The Royal North West Mounted Police were instrumental in the establishment of the Canadian Provost Corps which was established France.

In 1919 the Royal North West Mounted Police B Squadron became part of the Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Force.

In 1921 King George V bestowed the title to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police which was changed in 1920 from the Royal North West Mounted Policed and awarded the RCMP the status of a Regiment of Dragoons in order to display a Regimental Guidon with battle honors won which are as follows;

North West Canada 1855 (Rebellion)
South Africa 1900 to 1902
The Great War France and Flanders 1918
Siberia 1918 -1919

In 1935 as a Regiment of Dragoons, the RCMP took part in the roll of the Kings Life Guard at the Horses Guard’s Parade in 1937 as leading up to the coronation of King George Vl. A true honor for the RCMP.

In 1937 The first Regimental Guidon was presented to the RCMP

During the Second World War the RCMP provide volunteers as in all past conflicts and served with distinction as the Number One Provost Company and received the battle honor which was added to the RCMP Regimental Guidon.

On September 21, 1957 at Parliament Hill, the RCMP was presented with the badge of the Canadian Provost Corps in regards to the contribution to the Canadian Provost Corps during WW11 which was added to the RCMP Regimental Guidon.

In 1998 the RCMP provided volunteers for the first time since World War ll to the United Nations one of the beginning of numerous deployments to Special Duty Areas which has become part of the RCMP mandate.

In 2007 The RCMP again provided volunteers for service during the Afghan War working and training with the Canadian Military and Afghan National Police and are still serving there to date.

Websters on line dictionary Link:

Victorian Soldier, History and Uniform of the North West Mounted Police, 1873-1904by Jack L. Summers and Rene Chartrand Ottawa: Canadian War Museum, 1981

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police by R.C. Fetherstonhaugh 1938

The Story of South Africa by Clark Ridpath and Edward S. Ellis Copyright 1889
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CBC stated the RCMP are a civilian police service during the London Olympics, King George V said different.

Post by Whisky45 on Mon 20 Aug 2012, 09:22

Recently I could not believe a CBC reporter in London covering the London Olympics stated that it was a real honour for the RCMP, a civilian police force to replace the Queens Life Guard at Buckingham Palace. A civilian police force? The reason as a lot of RCMP vets know, we are not a civilian police service because King George V said different in the 1930’s . King George V bestowed to the RCMP by royal assent the distinction of being a Regiment of Dragoons because of service during time of war. The RCMP have the distinction of being a Regiment of Dragoons in order to have a Regimental Guidon with Battle honours hence being given the honour of replacing the Queens Life Guard a Military Regiment. Its pretty sad that the British know where we stand and appreciate the RCMP for our contribution to the British Monarchy but a lot of Canadians like this CBC report do not know why the RCMP march in the parade with the Canadian Military on Remembrance day and stand with the Canadian Military on the National Cenotaph. The CBC and their obvious ignorance of the RCMP’s history as a paramilitary organization with battle honours only helps to spread this ignorance to the Canadian Public. Investigative journalist? Not doing to well in the history department. Thank God the Queen and the British know who the RCMP are by giving the RCMP the honour of replacing the Queens Life Guard during the London Olympics

I recently spent 3 days at the National Archives doing research on the Royal North West Mounted Police and their contribution to the first world war. To Know that we have two members that are the recipients of the Victoria Cross for valour, one during the Boer War and the other during the First World War is something to really be proud of. The true to life stories I have encountered of Mounted Policeman doing their duty with honour and dedication makes me even more proud to have served in RCMP. We as the old guard have a duty to keep their stories of duty and honour alive and to educate the public about the proud history behind the red serge especially the CBC

I love the idea of this thread there are a lot of history out their that is untold in some cases. This is the place to bring it out.
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Weighing Dieppe: Our labour. Our loss. Our lesson

Post by Teentitan on Sat 18 Aug 2012, 23:31

Three brothers from Holland, a small farming town west of Winnipeg, were in the thick of it.

Pte. Clifford Stewart, Pte. George Stewart and their foster brother Pte. Charlie Erickson were at a place called Pourville four kilometres west of Dieppe, a French coastal holiday town before the war.

Seventy years ago tomorrow, it was the scene of one of the fiercest battles of the Second World War.

What the three young soldiers from Winnipeg's Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders saw and did that day is mostly unknown, although Erickson was wounded and later singled out for bravery by his superiors.

The Cameron's job that day, in support of the South Saskatchewan Regiment, was to land on the beaches and advance inland. They were supposed to capture a German airfield and then connect with other Allied troops to attack a German headquarters before pulling back to shore, getting back on waiting landing craft and heading to England 110 kilometres away.

It didn't go as planned. Nothing really did.

Much like everything else that happened Aug. 19, 1942, the Canadian-led attack at Dieppe and its neighbouring beaches faltered before it began. The Germans got warning the Canadians were coming when one of their boats bumped into the Allied convoy.

The Stewart brothers and the wounded Erickson barely escaped with their lives.

They were among the nearly 5,000 Canadians who stormed the pebble beaches at Dieppe and neighbouring landing zones, tumbling out of landing craft into the murderous machine-gun sights and heavy guns of the waiting and battle-hardened German army. More than 65 per cent of the men who made it ashore were killed, wounded or captured. No major objectives were achieved.

Dieppe is Canada's Balaklava, where the light brigade charged into the valley of death, into the mouth of hell.

Also on the beaches that day was 28-year-old reporter Ross Munro, a war correspondent with the Canadian Press.

In today's parlance, Munro was embedded with Canadian commando troops when they hit the stony beach directly in front of the port town of Dieppe. The landing craft he was in was machine-gunned by the Germans as it attempted to approach the shore.

"I spent the grimmest 20 minutes of my life with one unit when a rain of German machine-gun fire wound(ed) half the men in our boat and only a miracle saved us from annihilation," he wrote in his first-hand account of the raid, a story that ran Aug. 20, 1942, in newspapers across Canada, including the Free Press.

"An officer next to me was firing his Sten gun. He got off a magazine and a half, killed at least one Nazi, and then was hit in the head. He fell forward, bleeding profusely."

Munro's lengthy account -- it had passed through military censors -- of the eight-hour attack gripped Canadians, who until then had been largely untouched by the war in Europe. Relatively speaking, only a few families in Canada had experienced the war's grim toll by the summer of 1942, most notably the families of the Winnipeg Grenadiers and Quebec's Royal Rifles, who had been killed or taken prisoner during the ill-fated defence of Hong Kong the previous Christmas.

Until Dieppe, the war was largely being fought somewhere else by someone else.

Munro's reports and other news about the war quickly changed that in two ways.

First, it brought the message home to Canadians that to drive the Nazis from Europe and the Japanese invaders from the Pacific, some hard choices had to be made by each man, woman and even child.

"Today's exploit brings to Canadians at home a realization that we also shoulder a heavy responsibility," then Canadian defence minister James Ralston said in a bulletin to the nation in the hours after the Dieppe raid.

"It is our duty to be worthy of our young men, of the youths who fought today at Dieppe and who, with the same ardour and stoutness of heart, face with confidence the battles of the future. So it must be said of us that we never gave them cause to falter."

Second, as the long casualty reports came in, it compelled Ralston to explain within a month to the nation why so many of those "young men" had been killed and what went so wrong with the mission -- Canada's first major battle on European soil since the First World War and our victory at Vimy Ridge in April 1917.

"You can't really hide a disaster like that," says University of Calgary military history professor David Bercuson. "I think that's part of the explanation why they turned it around so quickly."

Bercuson also says war correspondents like Munro were asking questions and not initially mentioning what they already knew in their earlier reports. Munro and other correspondents were censoring themselves so as to not hurt the war effort. That quickly changed as family after family across the country learned their sons were dead or captured.

"It's Dieppe that really hits home," Bercuson says. "All of a sudden, it really comes home and hits you what's going on. Before that, it's largely a matter of demonstrating patriotism and signing up for the boys. Then along comes Dieppe and all of a sudden this pall of doom hits. People see this is going to be long and it's going to be hard and everybody better buckle down.

"We've got to do whatever we've got to do to get this over and done with and we'll fix up everything else later."

Dieppe has also become the central point to Canadians in our narrative of the Second World War.

While an unqualified military disaster, it’s also viewed by some as the first time the different arms of the military services worked together in a co-ordinated attack. The navy, army and air force each played a role. The ships delivered the troops and tanks to the shore while aircraft above protected the fleet from German warplanes. Both ships and planes also provided supporting fire to the soldiers on the beaches. That had never happened before on such a large scale.

What was learned from Dieppe was honed afterward for the Allied invasion of North Africa the following November and the massive D-Day landings at Normandy in June 1944.

Historian Jack Granatstein, a senior research fellow of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, says some the stuff about "lessons learned at Dieppe" is just pure PR spin.

"There was a prepared plan for a failure by the military that said, 'Oh yes, it was terribly bad, but we learned all sorts of valuable lessons,' " Granatstein says. "That line is followed to the present.

"All the great lessons were things that everybody knew already. That's the extraordinary point. All the lessons that we learned that made D-Day successful, that you needed to land somewhere where the enemy wasn't and that you needed surprise, that you needed a lot of gunfire support, that you needed heavy air support, that you needed big guns firing from the sea -- all those things had been learned for years.

"There were no lessons learned, other than you needed better training. Everything else was common knowledge."

So why did things go so badly for the Canadians?

Canada had declared war against Adolf Hitler's Germany on Sept. 10, 1939, a week after Britain and France.

In the three following years, thousands of young Canadian men signed up and shipped overseas to bases in England to wait for their crack at the Huns -- the Stewart brothers and Charlie Erickson among them.

Meantime, the Germans had conquered Europe and rolled unchallenged through North Africa. In 1941, Hitler attacked Russia and, on the other side of the world, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour.

The Canadians waited in England.

By the summer of 1942, the Americans were also gearing up for war against Germany. Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was putting pressure on Britain's Winston Churchill and other Allies to open a second front in Europe. The Germans were advancing on Stalingrad and Stalin's army needed help.

At the same time British Chief of Combined Operations, Rear Admiral Louis Mountbatten, was pressuring Churchill for a large-scale hit-and-run raid against the Germans along the French coast. There had already been small commando raids. Now it was time to see if the infantry could do it.

The Canadians wanted in. They'd sat long enough and wanted to see some action before the Americans stole the show. Canadian General Harry Crerar pleaded with his British masters that his soldiers should be the vanguard of the Dieppe attack force.

The Brits agreed.

General John Roberts, born in Pipestone, Manitoba, was assigned the task of preparing the Canadian 2nd Division to attack. The target date for the seaborne raid was early July, but it was postponed because of bad weather.

A second date was set for Aug. 19. In the hours before the landings, ships and troop carriers amassed in English ports to ferry the mostly Canadian force across the English Channel. Troops and tanks would land at Dieppe and nearby flanking beaches just before sunrise while British and American commandos would support them by taking out known German gun positions along the nearby cliffs.

But Operation Jubilee, as it was called, had been scaled back from the original plan. There would be no parachutists landing behind enemy positions, no pre-aerial bombardment or heavy naval guns blasting the French coastline. The fear was too many French civilians would be killed.

As the Allies chugged towards the French coast, they also lost any element of surprise when they accidentally encountered a small German naval convoy.

The result on the beaches was predictable. The main assault at Dieppe saw the Allies, the Essex Scottish Regiment and Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, supported by 27 Churchill tanks of the 14th Canadian Army Tank Regiment from Calgary, caught out in the open by German gunners. On the stony beach, the tanks barely operated because of the gradient. Their tracks spun uselessly in the stones.

"The thing that's amazing is that they land at that beach in front of Dieppe, which is a tourist destination for people from England for about 500 years, it's as if they didn't know what was there," Granatstein says. "It's as if they didn't think the Germans would be up on the cliffs commanding the beach. The whole thing was screwed up."

At neighboring Puys, the Royal Regiment of Canada from Toronto was pulverized by the German defenders. Only 60 men out of 543 got off the beach when the retreat sounded about six hours later. At Pourville, the South Saskatchewan Regiment and the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders landed off course or late. The Cameron's commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred Gostling, was killed by a sniper as he stepped off a landing craft.

The Highlanders did penetrate further inland than any other troops, but were quickly forced back to the landing craft by German reinforcements. Their progress turned into their punishment: Every step they took inland, they'd have to retrace to get back to the beach on time to get picked up.

"I will forever remember the scene in that craft," correspondent Munro reported on the attack.

"Wounded lying about being attended by medical orderlies oblivious to the fire; the heroism of the Royals as they fought back and strove as desperately as any man could do to get on the beach and relieve their comrades still fighting ashore; the contempt of these men for danger and their fortitude when they were hit. I never heard one cry out."

In the bloody aftermath, Canadians left behind and too injured for immediate medical care from the Germans -- they treated their own wounded soldiers first -- were executed where they lay, put out of their misery, according to some accounts.

Days after the raid, as the casualty lists took over much of Canada's front page news, defence minister Ralston promised to tell Canadians why things went so badly.

He did that in a 4,000-word statement printed Sept. 18, 1942, in newspapers across Canada. Officially, the chance encounter with the German trawler in the English Channel was partly responsible. Other factors were the inability of commandos to destroy German gun batteries near Dieppe and the Royal Regiment of Canada's 20-minutes delay in landing at its beach east of Dieppe, resulting in the manoeuvre taking place in broad daylight instead of semi-darkness. The Royals also failed to take out German gun positions in support of the main landing.

Despite this, Canadian military historian Terry Copp of Wilfrid Laurier University says Dieppe should not be considered a total military failure.

Copp says it was the first time the British navy landed an amphibious force under fire, after clearing a minefield, and then were on time to bring the survivors off the beaches and back to England. The air force also succeeded in bringing the Luftwaffe into the sky to fight them for air superiority to protect troops on the ground.

"Dieppe is the largest air battle of the war between single-seat fighter interceptors," Copp says.

"Our casualties to both aircrew and aircraft were higher than the Germans, but the real thing we pay the air force to do is protect the people on the ground, to provide air cover. The air force was completely successful at that. There was no significant interference from the Luftwaffe on the troops landing on the beaches and even during the withdrawal phase."

Copp says what went wrong is none of the key German gun positions surrounding Dieppe -- artillery, mortar and machine gun -- was neutralized.

"It doesn't matter that there were relatively few German troops defending Dieppe. What matters is that their guns are all zeroed on the beach. None of those positions was taken out and there was no real way for people to get off that beach."

Copp also said the timetable of the Dieppe raid -- they could only spend six hours ashore -- was unrealistic for accomplishing any major objective other than scooping a few German prisoners.

The Canadian generals should have known that. Most certainly, the average soldier knew their task was impossible.

"As in life, the world of business and, God knows, in the world of universities, when a project gets far underway, it is really, really hard for anybody to say: 'This is not going to work. Let's not do it.' And that in some ways is one of the most important issues raised by Dieppe," Copp says.

"Canadians always assume that we are brilliant soldiers, that we don't need extraordinary training to do it," Granatstein adds. "Whatever we do, we do extremely well. When things go bad, we're sort of shocked and outraged -- it must be someone else's fault.

"If we had our heads screwed on right, we would have said it was a crazy idea."

Erickson and the Stewart boys probably knew the mission was doomed, too, as they cleaned their guns in the darkness of the boat heading towards France.

Each got safely back to England. Their mom, Mrs. E. Stewart of Holland reported as much to the Free Press in its Sept. 10, 1942 edition.

The newspaper and military archives are silent on what happened to Clifford and George Stewart after Dieppe. Erickson went back into the fight and was wounded a second time in the summer of 1944 during the Allied breakout from the Normandy beaches.

It's not known if he healed in time to go back to Dieppe when the Canadians returned Sept. 1 of that year, liberating the French town from the Germans without much of a fight: They had abandoned the town as having no military value. It's certain he rejoined the fighting in the fall: On Oct. 27, 1944, Erickson, then 25, was killed in the Battle of the Scheldt, the fight to open the port of Antwerp to Allied supply ships. He's buried near where he fell, in the Bergen Op Zoom Canadian war cemetery in southern Holland.

Copp and Bercuson say if Canadians really want to know about their soldiers in the Second World War, they'd do well to put the disasters of Dieppe and Hong Kong aside and read about victories such as the Battle of the Scheldt and the liberation of Holland in 1944.

"The Battle of the Scheldt estuary took close to three months," Bercuson says. "It was a major Canadian victory of the war. The Germans were fighting hard and we were undermanned and were fighting for every flooded field in Holland. It wasn't easy, but it's looked upon as one of our most significant contributions to the Allied victory."

"People today are much less likely to want to pick scabs over defeats," Copp adds.

"They're much more likely to want to talk about things that Canadians did well. Dieppe has somewhat slipped its central role in the Canadian psyche."

Canadian Units Participating in the Raid on Dieppe

Canadian Army Fatal Casualties:

■Headquarters and Miscellaneous Detachments: 5
■14th Army Tank Regiment (The Calgary Regiment (Tank): 13
■Royal Canadian Artillery: 13
■Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers: 27
■Royal Canadian Corps of Signals: 9
■The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada: 4
■The Royal Regiment of Canada: 227
■The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (Wentworth Regiment): 197
■Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal: 119
■The Essex Scottish Regiment: 121
■The South Saskatchewan Regiment: 84
■The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada: 76
■The Calgary Highlanders: 0
■The Toronto Scottish Regiment (MG): 1
■Royal Canadian Army Service Corps: 1
■Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps: 4
■Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps: 2
■Canadian Provost Corps: 1
■Canadian Intelligence Corps: 3
■Total: 907
In all, 913 Canadians (including the aircrew who were killed) died on the beaches, in German captivity, or of their wounds after returning to England.

Of the 4,963 Canadians who went on the mission, only about 2,200 returned to England and many of them were wounded. More than 3,350 Canadians became casualties, including about 1,950 taken as POWs.

Other Forces

In addition to the Canadian troops taking part in the raid, there were 1,075 British troops (52 fatalities), 50 members of the 1st U.S. Ranger Battalion (one fatality) and 20 members of the No. 10 (Inter-Allied) Commando.

Sea support was provided mainly by British forces. The Royal Navy suffered 75 casualties with an additional 269 missing or captured.

-- source: Veterans Affairs Canada

The raid on Dieppe is viewed as one of the largest air battles of the Second World War. It also showed how fighter aircraft like the famous Spitfire were vulnerable to much faster and more nimble German fighters like the Focke-Wulf.


Spitfire: the main British-made single-seat fighter aircraft of the Allies, made famous in the Battle of Britain and used to support ground troops and as a fighter interceptor.

Hawker Hurricane: a British-made single-seat aircraft also used to defend Britain in the summer and autumn of 1940, used more at Dieppe as a fighter-bomber to support ground troops.

Hawker Typhoon: a British-made single-seat fighter-bomber used for ground attack and as an interceptor.

P-51 Mustang: The U.S.-built single-seat fighter used for strafing runs at the Dieppe landing zones, reconnaissance and as an interceptor.

Bristol Beaufighter: a double-engine British fighter-bomber used for tactical bombing.

Douglas Boston III: a U.S.-made medium bomber used for tactical bombing and smoke-laying.

Bristol Blenheim: a British light bomber used for smoke-laying and tactical bombing.

B-17: The U.S.-built heavy bomber flown to attack the nearest German airbase at Abbeville.


Messerschmitt 109: a single-engine German fighter.

Messerschmitt Bf 110: a twin-engine heavy fighter.

Focke-Wulf: a single-engine German fighter.

Junkers 88: a twin-engine fighter and dive bomber.

Dornier Do 217: a twin-engine dive bomber.

Stuka: a single-engine, two-man dive bomber.

More than 2,500 sorties were flown by the Allies, operating out of bases along the English coast, over the Dieppe landing zones. The Luftwaffe was largely prevented from interfering in the landings or evacuation. Plus, more than 200 Allied ships and landing craft operated throughout the day with only minor losses from air attack.

But there was a cost.

The Royal Air Force lost 106 aircraft and 81 pilots and aircrew, 17 of who ended up in prisoner-of-war camps. The Royal Canadian Air Force lost 13 planes and 10 pilots. Most of the aircraft lost were fighters. Six bombers were also lost in action. It was the highest single-day total of the Second World War.

The Allies estimated German losses at 96 aircraft destroyed with 27 probables and 76 aircraft damaged.

However, the Germans recorded 48 aircraft destroyed and 24 damaged with just 13 pilots killed or missing and seven wounded.

Main weapons used by ground forces
Allies: the Sten Gun, a light submachine gun, sometimes awkward to fire because of the side placement of its magazine. It also fired accidently if dropped. Soldiers called it the Plumber's Nightmare because of its appearance. Its rate of fire was about 550 rounds per minute. It could also use captured German 9mm ammunition.

Germans: The Maschinengewehr 34, or MG 34, an air-cooled machine gun that used both magazine-fed and belt-fed 7.9mm ammunition. Its rate of fire was 800 to 900 rounds per minute.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 18, 2012 J1
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Documentary Puts the Ghosts of Dieppe to REST

Post by Teentitan on Thu 16 Aug 2012, 20:36

MONTREAL - “This wasn’t a raid. This was a slaughter.”

Ron Beal, Royal Canadian Regiment. Dieppe Raid survivor.

From the documentary Dieppe Uncovered.

Date: Aug. 19, 1942

Time: 5 a.m.

Location: stone beach on the northern coast of France.

Operation: More than 6,000 Allied-forces infantrymen attempt to penetrate a German stronghold.

Outcome: Unmitigated disaster. Less than six hours later, 60 per cent of the infantrymen were dead, injured and/or captured; 907 Canadians died.

Why the Allied forces allowed the poorly planned Dieppe Raid to move forward has been a mystery for decades. Until now.

Montrealer David O’Keefe has solved the mystery, and in the process has rewritten a defining moment in military history.

O’Keefe, a military historian by profession, is featured in the History Television documentary Dieppe Uncovered, which airs Sunday — the 70th anniversary of the disastrous raid. The documentary is produced, directed, written, edited and shot by History Television veteran Wayne Abbott.

It took O’Keefe 15 years to piece together what actually was intended to happen in the wee hours of Aug. 19, 1942. And it is the stuff of spy novels.

He did so by poring over 100,000 pages of secret, top-secret and ultra-secret documents released in bits and pieces by the British military over the years.

“There wasn’t one big ‘eureka!’ moment,” O’Keefe said the day before leaving with a contingent from Veterans Affairs Canada to attend the film’s premiere in Dieppe on Saturday. “It was more like detective work with a series of small ‘eureka!’ moments. A bit like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. To see it all come together is a rush.”

Over the years, historians have floated various theories about the motivation behind the raid. Was it a push to establish a Western front? Was it a dress rehearsal for a major assault on another German stronghold?

O’Keefe’s research has revealed that the raid was launched as a diversionary tactic designed to provide cover for a commando unit ordered to penetrate German naval headquarters — believed to be housed in the town’s Hôtel Moderne — and to board certain boats in the harbour, all in a bid to steal German code books and a code machine. In military parlance — and only at the very highest levels of command — the Dieppe Raid was dubbed a pinch operation. The head of the commando unit was none other than Ian Fleming, a Second World War British intelligence officer and the creator of spy extraordinaire James Bond.

O’Keefe presented his research to British naval authorities two years ago, and they admitted to the operation’s true motive.

“It changes our understanding of what Dieppe was all about,” O’Keefe said. “It was their admission that made all the time and effort worthwhile. The cat was finally out of the bag.”

It took Abbott more than a year to shoot, structure and pace the story. The battle is re-enacted by a French group specializing in re-enactments of scenarios involving Canadian soldiers. Computer-generated images flesh out the chaos and devastation.

“It was haunting shooting on the exact beach, but we had to. You can’t fake Dieppe,” Abbott said. “The visuals were a challenge. It’s a story about an ultra-secret operation. There was no archival footage, no embedded journalist to interview.

“I wanted to do the research justice, but I also wanted the story to unfold in dramatic fashion, like peeling the layers off an onion.”

Discovering the motivation behind the raid doesn’t change the fact that hundreds of men were slaughtered as a result of poor planning and bad luck. (The troupes arrived 17 minutes late, which meant losing the cover of pre-dawn darkness.) But the research does allow survivors and military historians to attach a clear purpose to the failed operation.

“It was still an absolute failure, but at least there was a purpose. A clear intent,” Abbott said. “And it happened like it was something right out of a Hollywood movie.”

O’Keefe was profoundly moved by the drama and the emotion when, during the shooting of the documentary, he walked the beach in Dieppe.

“It was like walking with ghosts,” O’Keefe said. “It was almost overwhelming. A great pride in being Canadian welled up.”

The film’s premiere in Dieppe will take place in a theatre 75 yards from the Hôtel Moderne.

Dieppe Uncovered airs Sunday at 9 p.m. on History Television, with a repeat broadcast Monday at 8 p.m.
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