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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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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 Ex Member on Sun 28 Oct 2012, 09:06

Interesting Smile

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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 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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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 ac-dorko@shaw.ca

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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

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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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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 okrod on Sat 12 Jan 2013, 17:50

Noboby is questioning the decision of the BOI,or the fact that the bunker was probably on the target list for the reason you specified,however evacuation was not scheduled until 0700 the next morning,the IDF attack came at approx 1930 the evening before. Somebody got their messages crossed,or somebody considered it to be a target of such strategic importance that it had to be taken immediately. We all have our own interpretation of the matter.

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Re: History / Topics & Posted Articles

Post by expara on Sat 09 Feb 2013, 11:56

Thanks for sharing the story as I am a patricia myself!
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Re: History / Topics & Posted Articles

Post by Rags on Sat 09 Feb 2013, 13:29

Great Story thanks for sharing. I was always wondered what the account was of that day. Everyone has heard SSs comments and account and its nice to hear the other story.
I am impressed with your father. The choice to surrender is difficult. One can only imagine the horrible choice he had to make that night.

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Battle for the Imjin Cup moves from Korea to the Rideau

Post by Teentitan on Sat 09 Feb 2013, 14:40

TORONTO - At the time — 60 years ago — it was no big deal.

Soldiers in the frontline trenches of the Korean War — and I was one of them — were more amused at the impudence, the cheek, of possibly tweaking the Chinese in trenches across the valley by playing our national game, hockey, within the range of Chinese guns.

In a curve of the Imjin river, behind one of the hills on our front lines, a team of Princess Pats faced off against the Van Doos.

The game became something of a battlefield tradition passed on by successive battalions. Brig.-Gen. John Rockingham, commander of Canada’s 25 Brigade, dropped the puck for the first game, Maj.-Gen. MAR West, Commonwealth Division commander, dropped the puck for the last game, in 1953, prior to the truce being signed.

In both those games, the Pats beat the Van Doos — but a replay of the Imjin Memorial Cup in Seoul last month was a 4-1 triumph for the Van Doos.

In the 1952-53 games on the Imjin, the calibre of the hockey was irrelevant. The fact that we Canadians risked shelling and mortar fire to play our national game at the front meant a lot to the troops, and impressed our allies that Canadians were hard to intimidate.

Most of the Pats were on alert in the trench system. The only spectators were troops who were in reserve, or from rear echelon. Every spectator carried his weapon, aware that a surprise Chinese raid was not inconceivable. Just unlikely.

Spin the time clock ahead to around 1990. South Korea is now booming, bursting with democratic affluence. Chris Damboise, a Canadian ex-patriot who owned Gecko’s bar and restaurant in the Seoul suburb of Itaewon, formed a hockey team (Gecko Glaciers) whose sweaters were adorned with the Princess Pats logo.

His pal, Andrew Monteith, happened to find the original Imjin Cup in a Seoul second-hand store, and the Imjin Memorial Cup was reborn with local teams.

Sen. Yonah Martin is credited with bringing a re-enactment of the wartime Imjin hockey to the Rideau Canal this Sunday with the help of Korean vet Vince Courtenay, whose name is engraved on the original trophy.

Martin contacted Don Cherry (whom the Patricia’s view as one of their own), who may make mention of the Imjin Memorial Cup on his Saturday night CBC Coach’s Corner broadcast. It was hoped he might wear a team sweater on TV.

Sunday’s Imjin game will see former Princess Pats vs. a parliamentarian team coached by Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney. One of the Patricia’s players is Ed Staniowski, one-time St. Louis Blues goalie and now a retired lieutenant-colonel with abundant overseas service.

The Patricia’s team is star-studded in a non-hockey sense — two brigadier-generals, seven lieutenant-colonels, four majors, two chief warrant officers and one sergeant. All serving or former Pats (despite organizers billing them as a “military team”).

The Imjin Cup is being flown over from Korea for the presentation.

Whether the game will become an annual event in Ottawa is anyone’s guess, but any Patricia vet who remembers the original Imjin River hockey never expected a small Canadian-run bar in Korea would have immortalized the game to the point where it is now being played in Ottawa.

It is about as “Canadian” as one could get.

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Al Capone's lawyer gets his wish

Post by Teentitan on Mon 04 Mar 2013, 13:41

TORONTO - Someone e-mailed me this tale of two stories, which initially struck me as possibly urban myth, and then possibly poetic license adjusting the facts.

Oddly, a check on the Internet tended to confirm the two stories.


Chicago, in the 1920s, was a battleground of mob violence over prohibition. No mobster was as successful as Al Capone.

And no mob boss was a greater target of law enforcement, such as it was, than Capone.

Capone’s partner and lawyer in those early days was known as “Easy Eddie,” who was smart and who managed to keep the notorious “Scarface” Al out of jail while he ran Chicago’s bootlegging and prostitution, and murdered whoever got in his way.

“Easy Eddie” was key to Capone’s survival outside of jail. A shrewd judge of character, Capone knew how important Easy Eddie was to his crime kingdom.

He enabled Easy Eddie to build a lavish mansion, complete with servants, swimming pool, skating rink and all the luxuries of modern life. Easy Eddie thought he had the best job in Chicago, and was untroubled by the way he earned a living. Every man for himself.

Easy Eddie was not a crook. He just manipulated the law to enable crooks to continue being crooks. In doing so, he tainted himself.

He had a so-so marriage, and a son he adored. As the boy grew up, Easy Eddie wanted his son to be a somebody, and not to be known as the son of Capone’s lawyer.

How to cleanse his name, so his son need never feel ashamed of his dad?

Although the FBI never gave up in trying to nail Capone, Easy Eddie thwarted most legal assaults. As if realizing he’d have to do something radical to clear his name and be an example for his son, Easy Eddie volunteered himself to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to bring Capone to justice.

He worked from inside the mob to gather evidence to destroy Capone.

In 1931, Capone was sentenced to 11 years for tax evasion, was paroled in 1939, suffered from syphilis, died from a stroke in his Florida mansion in 1947 with his mind reduced to that of a 12-year-old.

In 1939, a week before Capone was paroled from Alcatraz, Easy Eddie was gunned down in Chicago while driving his car. A salvo of shotgun blasts from a passing car ended the storied life of Easy Eddie, but he was remembered as the man who brought justice to Al Capone, and brought some respectability to the family name.


As a kid, Butch O’Hare became a crack shot with a .22, but was something of a layabout. His father enrolled him in a military academy and persuaded a local congressman that Butch deserved to go to Annapolis Naval College, from which he graduated into the U.S. Navy in 1932.

Assigned to various ships, he became a navy pilot in 1939.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour in 1941, Butch O’Hare was already a skilled fighter pilot and ready for war.

It was on mission from the aircraft carrier USS Lexington in 1942 that O’Hare spotted nine Mitsubishi bombers headed for the Lexington. His Hellcat was the only aircraft available, and he headed straight into the Japanese formation.

His skill as a marksman paid off. In repeated attacks, he shot down five Japanese bombers. Observers on the Lexington recalled with awe that three of the downed Japanese planes were falling from the sky at the same time.

Not one bomb hit the Lexington. The Japanese formation broke contact and the remaining four bombers headed for home.

O’Hare became the first navy flyer to win the Medal of Honour in Second World War. His citation reads in part: “One of the most daring, if not the most daring, single action in the history of combat aviation — he undoubtedly saved his carrier from serious damage.”

Butch (he insisted all ranks call him that) O’Hare became something of a folk hero. Handsome, modest, articulate, he was used on war bond drives. A year later, in 1943, in the Battle for Tarawa, his plane apparently was caught in a crossfire, and he was never seen again. He was 29.

In 1945, the U.S. named a destroyer in his honour — the USS O’Hare. Then, in 1949, Chicago’s Orchard Park Airport was renamed O’Hare International Airport.

His statue is located between Terminals One and Two.

Lt.-Cmdr. Butch O’Hare was Easy Eddie’s son.

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Re: History / Topics & Posted Articles

Post by pteadams2002 on Mon 04 Mar 2013, 14:54

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