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Escape and Dissent in Internment Camps, 1914-1920

Post by Guest on Mon 07 Aug 2017, 17:03

Escape and Dissent in Internment Camps, 1914-1920


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Great War required great effort

Post by Guest on Sat 05 Aug 2017, 11:46

Great War required great effort

Winnipeg women made enormous sacrifices and contributions while sons, husbands and brothers were fighting and dying overseas 100 years ago

By: Jim Blanchard
Posted: 08/5/2017 3:00 AM

Jim Blanchard is the author of Winnipeg’s Great War: a City Comes of Age. Three years ago, he wrote about the onset of the First World War and its impact on Winnipeg. He has continued to examine life in Winnipeg in the subsequent war years, with this instalment looking back at 1917.

While fighting in the First World War, Cpl. Stanley Evan Bowen also fought to keep the flame alive between him and his sweetheart in Winnipeg by writing more than 150 letters.

By 1917, thousands of Winnipeggers had already volunteered to fight and many had lost their lives.

And while Canadian troops — including Winnipeg-based battalions — proved their valour at Vimy in April, the debate over conscription boiled over at home. The sacrifices weren’t only mounting on the front lines, but in city warehouses and personal bank accounts.

Victory Bonds were a big success.

Through donations to organizations such as the Red Cross and the Patriotic Fund, and by the purchase of Victory Bonds, the city had made huge financial contributions. Manitobans purchased $32 million worth of the bonds from the 1917 issue alone, making the province second in the country after Ontario in per capita investment.

The women of Winnipeg, working in organizations such as the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire and the Red Cross, supported the war effort, providing tons of hospital supplies and "comforts" such as cigarettes and reading matter and many other necessities.

One example of the work done by Winnipeg women at the Red Cross supply depot located on the top floor of the Keewaydin Building, which remains standing on Portage Avenue East. The central clearing house for hospital supplies sent from Manitoba was entirely managed by volunteer women. By 1917, it had been brought to such a high level of efficiency that supplies were shipped directly from Winnipeg to Red Cross warehouses in Britain without first being inspected for quality in Toronto.

The women operating the depot, organized into a number of committees, purchased raw materials — 4,500 kilograms of wool and more than 18,000 metres of union flannel was a typical order sent to wholesalers — and then cut the cloth using the patterns mandated by the Red Cross. The cut cloth was then distributed to women across the province in IODE groups, churches and various First Nations.

These women sewed the pajamas, hospital gowns, surgeon’s gowns, towels, quilts, surgical dressings and bandages, among other items, and sent them back to the depot in Winnipeg. The items were checked and resewn if necessary, although this happened less and less as time went on. Bandages were sterilized by the nurses at the General Hospital and placed in sealed packages. Then large wooden packing cases — 2,200 in 1917 alone — were filled and delivered to the rail yards for shipping. The turnaround time from the receipt of an order to shipping was three weeks.

In addition, every week 600 pairs of socks, knitted by Manitoba women across the province, were shipped. Good wool socks were essential in the fight against trench foot, a debilitating disease contracted by men who spent their days standing in water in the trenches. It caused swelling and inflammation and could lead to gangrene and amputation. The Canadian army fought trench foot with adequate supplies of socks and whale oil applied to soldiers’ feet.

Manitoba Free Press, Tuesday, March 13, 1917. Women responsible for organizations such as the Red Cross depot proved their managerial skills and many felt that their accomplishments helped in the struggle for equality. Attitudes changed, as described by Winnipegger Mrs. Hugh Phillips, who later said that before the war "…We had ladies who wore white fox and rode in sleighs covered with fur robes. This way of life went with the war. After that there were no more "ladies." We were all women, anxious for something to do."

At the front, in Belgium and France, the Canadian Corps came together as a formidable and widely respected fighting unit in 1917. During the Battle of Arras in April, the four divisions of the Corps were given the job of taking Vimy Ridge. The Canadians were successful in attacking the formidable objective that had defeated previous attempts by the British and French.

After the impressive victory at Vimy, the Canadians continued fighting in the same area. In July, led by Sir Arthur Currie, newly appointed Canadian Commander in Chief, they took another formidable objective, Hill 70 near Vimy, inflicting heavy casualties on the German army.

In the fall, the Canadians moved north once again to the Ypres area in Belgium, where they had distinguished themselves in 1915 in their first action of the war. In what came to be called the 3rd Battle of Ypres, they fought beside the British and other British Empire troops. The final objective of the year was Passchendaele. For weeks, Australian, New Zealand and British troops had struggled through a battlefield that was a mass of water-filled shell holes dotted with machine-gun pillboxes. The Canadians and two British divisions made the final assault at the end of October and by Nov. 10 Passchendaele was taken. In all, 15,654 Canadians were killed or wounded during the 3rd Battle of Ypres.

Battalions bolstered by many Winnipeggers, including the 8th Winnipeg Rifles, the 27th City of Winnipeg, the Cameron Highlanders, the Winnipeg Grenadiers and the 44th Battalion, all took part in the 1917 fighting along with the rest of the Canadian Corps. Winnipeggers were also members of many other units. At the end of the year, the Canadian Cavalry Brigade participated in the Battle of Cambrai and the Fort Garry Horse and the Lord Strathcona’s Horse, both regiments with large numbers of Winnipeggers, suffered casualties. Day after day Winnipeg newspapers carried lists of the dead, and a steady stream of wounded local men whose fighting days were over returned to the city.

Canadians on the slopes of the shell-torn Vimy Ridge, 1917.

Since 1914, Canada’s army had consisted entirely of volunteers. But by 1917, as the numbers of casualties mounted and volunteer numbers fell, support for conscription grew. In April and May, Canadian casualties numbered 23,939, but only 11,790 new volunteers signed up. Across the country, citizen groups, such as Winnipeg’s Citizens Recruiting League, had been lobbying the government to do a national registration of potential draftees and introduce conscription. The government was hesitant because of concern that widespread opposition to conscription in Quebec and other provinces would divide the country.

Prime minister Robert Borden slowly came around to the view that conscription was necessary, regardless of the political cost. On Aug. 29, 1917, Parliament passed the new Military Service Act by a vote of 119 to 55. Former prime minister Wilfrid Laurier and most francophone members voted against the act.

There was anti-conscription feeling and vocal opposition to conscription and its companion, registration of potential draftees, in English Canada as well. Some of the leaders of this movement were Winnipeggers.

Before the outbreak of war there was anti-war feeling among some Canadian Christians. Three denominations, the Quakers, Mennonites and Doukhobors, were officially exempted from conscription by the government as their beliefs prohibited them from fighting. Other groups were not officially recognized and when conscription began in 1918, some members of groups such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses were subjected to rough treatment and imprisonment for refusing to put on the uniform after being called up.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Presbyterian and Methodist Churches had passed anti-war resolutions before the war. The Methodist Church’s newspaper, the Christian Guardian, was solidly pacifist but when war came most churches revised their positions and encouraged members to enlist and fight, arguing that the war was a crusade against evil.

J.S. Woodsworth

J.S. Woodsworth was a pacifist Methodist minister who had worked in Winnipeg at the All Souls Mission. He was the director of the Bureau of Social Research in 1916 when the movement toward conscription was beginning. On Dec. 28, 1916, he wrote a letter to the Free Press opposing the registration of men eligible to fight.

"As some of us cannot conscientiously engage in military service we are bound to resist what — if the war continues — will inevitably lead to forced service," he wrote.

He lost his job over the letter and went to British Columbia where, for a time, he was the pastor of a church until his congregation, not comfortable with his views, asked him to leave. He spent the rest of the war working as a longshoreman.

Another clergyman who suffered consequences for his opposition to the war was William Ivens. At a meeting at Grace Methodist Church in early 1917, local Methodist clergy expressed their support for registration. Ivens, then pastor of McDougall Methodist Church, did not agree.

"I am a pacifist and I am opposed to war and war moves of any kind," he said.

Ivens’ life changed drastically because of his pacifism. He was dismissed from his post at McDougall Methodist in early 1918 and became the editor of the Western Labor News. In July 1918, he founded the Western Labor Church and was imprisoned after the Winnipeg General Strike in 1919.

Women’s groups were divided in their positions on the war. Some, working in the IODE and Red Cross, threw themselves into the war effort, while other activists held pacifist beliefs. In 1915, a group of Canadian women founded the Canadian Women’s Peace Party that supported compulsory arbitration, disarmament and a League of Nations. Members of this group joined many other women from North America, travelling through submarine-infested waters to The Hague in April and May 1915 to attend the International Women’s Peace Conference, an unsuccessful attempt to stop the war.

Political Equality League members Lillian Beynon Thomas (clockwise from back left), Winona Dixon, wife of Manitoba MLA Fred Dixon who was opposed to conscription, Amelia Burritt and Dr. Mary Crawford in 1915. Thomas and her husband, former free Press reporter Vernon Thomas, left Winnipeg over their anti-war views.

In Winnipeg, the Beynon sisters, Francis and Lillian, were both pacifists and influential journalists — Francis at the Grain Growers Guide and Lillian at the Free Press. Read by women across the Prairies, the sisters both courageously opposed the war, supported women’s suffrage and other reforms that would make the lives of Canadian women better.

Lillian’s husband, journalist Vernon Thomas, lost his job at the Free Press in January when he left the press gallery in the legislature and walked onto the floor of the house to congratulate Fred Dixon on the anti-war speech he had just made during the throne speech debate. He and Lillian, along with Francis, opted to spend the rest of the war in New York. Francis Beynon wrote anti-war articles and the anti-war novel Aleta Day. The Beynon sisters returned to Winnipeg in the early 1920s.

Labour in Canada was also divided on the question of war. The Trades and Labour Congress of Canada passed a resolution at its 1911 convention calling for a general strike in the event of war, echoing labour groups all over Europe and North America. When war began, however, many union members and leaders joined the armed forces and supported the war effort in their respective countries.

The Winnipeg Trades and Labour Council had passed a resolution opposing conscription, and most labour leaders stated men should not be conscripted until wealth was also conscripted for the war effort.

In 1917, as happened in other Canadian cities, some local labour and socialist leaders formed an Anti-Conscription League in Winnipeg. Alderman John Queen, Bill Hoop, provincial MLAs Richard Rigg and Dixon, future Winnipeg Mayor Seymour Farmer and veteran labour politician Arthur Puttee were some of the leaders.

Dixon declared he completely denied the government’s right to ask him to register, telling a crowd of 4,000 at a meeting in December 1916 that: "National Service is the first step toward compulsion… Compulsory military service has been defeated in Australia (in a referendum) and it will be in Canada if it is put to a vote."

Dixon, speaking during the 1917 throne speech debate a short time later, attacked the basic war aims of the government, saying that "the war did not involve the principles of freedom and liberty to the extent some people believed and bore all the earmarks of a struggle for power and possible setting up of a Russian militarism." His remarks were greeted with shouts of "traitor" and "throw him in jail" from many of his fellow MLAs.

Rigg spoke next, claiming Britain did not really enter the war to save Belgium but to gain economic advantage over Germany. He argued British navalism was just as important as a cause of the war as German militarism and the basic reason Canadians were fighting was economic antagonism between Germany and Britain. Their fellow provincial politicians accused the two men of, "betraying their countrymen and assisting the Germans."

MLA Fred Dixon endured backlash for his views against conscription.

Dixon became a lightning rod for the animosity the majority of Winnipeggers felt toward those who opposed conscription. The Winnipeg Board of Trade called for the Attorney General to take action against Dixon and Rigg in view of their "treasonable utterances." On Jan. 19, both the Great War Veterans Association and the Army and Navy Veterans organization petitioned the government to have Rigg and Dixon resign their seats in the legislature. They also condemned city controller Arthur Puttee and three pro-labour aldermen.

At the end of January, a petition was circulated in his Winnipeg Centre riding demanding Dixon’s resignation. He promised to resign and run again if 25 per cent of his constituents signed the petition. A mere 50 names were gathered, suggesting many in his riding shared his views.

The opposition to conscription resulted in violence in Winnipeg. On June 3, a riot broke out at an Anti-Conscription meeting at the Grand Theatre on Notre Dame. About 1,000 people were present and a group of 250 returned soldiers occupied the front rows. Ignoring pleas from representatives of the Great War Veterans Association to let the anti-conscription speakers be heard, the soldiers hissed and booed F.J. Dixon and John Queen and broke up the meeting. Afterwards, there were several fights and scuffles in and around the building. Dixon had to defend himself against physical attacks in which he said, "…some heavy blows were struck but I don’t think any great damage was done." The police escorted him and other speakers out of the theatre.

That support of the Trades and Labor Council for the League was not unanimous became clear at a council meeting on July 6 when a request from league member W.H. Hoop for aid was met with resistance and calls for a referendum on the subject. Hoop was reminded that many union members were at the front and some unions had declared that they supported conscription. The League continued its opposition.

The Canadian conscription legislation called for a national registration of men who were between 20 and 45 and medically fit. Men were called up according to classes defined by age and whether the person had dependents. The legislation allowed for exemptions; if, for one of a list of reasons the draftees thought they should be exempted, they could apply. Tribunals of local community leaders were appointed all across the country to rule on whether a man would be exempted or not.

Huge numbers applied for exemptions. In Montreal 93.5 per cent of draftees applied, in Kingston the figure was 96 per cent, in Toronto 90 per cent and in Winnipeg 94 per cent. In Manitoba, 3,050 men called up reported for duty. About 19,000 applied for an exemption. Another 20,000 men simply did not report and they were liable to be arrested by the Dominion police or the military police.

Half the Manitoba exemptions were denied. It was possible to appeal tribunal decisions to provincial courts and then to the Supreme Court. The numbers suggest a lack of enthusiasm across Canada, not just in Quebec.

Borden’s goal was to raise another 100,000 men for the Canadian Corps and, in the end, about that number were added. Of these, about 25,000 actually made it to France before the Armistice in November 1918.

Crowd in 1917 listens to war news broadcast in front of Free Press building.

In spite of the discord over conscription, civilian support for the war remained strong in 1917. About 100,000 people lined the city streets to cheer on the Decoration Day parade on May 23 in which returned men, veterans of previous wars and former soldiers of allied nations such as Lieut. Ishigura, a local man who had fought in the Russo Japanese war, marched.

On Aug. 4, 8,000 people packed the Industrial Bureau Auditorium for a ceremony to mark the third anniversary of the war. lt.-gov. James Aikins, premier Tobias Norris and other local dignitaries spoke. The audience sang Abide with Me, accompanied by the band of the Winnipeg Grenadiers, with gusto proving that, in the premier’s words, Winnipeg was inflexibly determined "…to continue until the allies are victorious."

Jim Blanchard is a local historian. His book Winnipeg’s Great War, was published by University of Manitoba Press in 2010.


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Canada's Passchendaele Heroes Offer Lessons for Today

Post by Guest on Sat 05 Aug 2017, 11:26

Canada's Passchendaele Heroes Offer Lessons for Today

By Lloyd Billingsley August 5, 2017

One hundred years ago, Canadians were slugging it out with the Germans on a muddy battlefield near Passchendaele in northwestern Belgium. The Canadians fought with great distinction, gaining Canada new international respect, and the conflict still holds lessons for today.

As the National Post noted, for their bravery in that battle nine Canadians won the Victoria Cross, including private Tommy Holmes from Montreal. He took out took two German machine gun positions and forced the surrender of 19 enemy troops.

Nine Canadians won the Victoria Cross

Winnipeg’s Christopher O’Kelly captained a battalion that captured six German fortifications, ten machine guns and took 100 prisoners. George Mullin of Moosomin, Saskatchewan, took out an enemy sniper and two German machine gunners.

Private Cecil Kinross, with only his rifle, mounted a solo charge across the field and prevailed against a six-man gun crew. Private James Robertson, the pride of Pictou Nova Scotia, personally took down four members of a gun crew and turned the captured gun on the fleeing Germans.

Major George Pearkes of the Canadian Mounted Rifles, took a bullet in the thigh but with only a few men held the German position he had captured. Corporal Colin Baron, a Scottish immigrant, also captured a German gun position all by himself, under heavy fire.

Against the odds and in terrible conditions, Canadian troops captured the town of Passchendaele, a great victory for Canada but at great cost. More than 4,000 Canadians died at Passchendaele, and 12,000 were wounded. The heroes got their Victoria Crosses, and that prompts a centennial meditation.

Suppose a Canadian-born fighter had gone to Europe in 1917 and fought with the Germans and their Ottoman Empire allies against Canada and its French, English, Russian, Italian and American allies. Suppose this pro-German fighter had killed an American medic and wounded other allied soldiers before being captured by one of Canada’s allies.

Suppose that Canadian Prime Minister Robert Borden had freed this fighter from prison, given him the equivalent of $8 million, plus an apology from the Canadian government. The brave men who put their lives on the line for Canada would likely have mounted a march on Ottawa. Fast-forward to 2017.

Canadian-born Omar Khadr, son of an al-Qaeda terrorist bagman

Canadian-born Omar Khadr, son of an al-Qaeda terrorist bagman, was not a member of Canada’s armed forces. He traveled to Afghanistan, where Canada and its allies were engaged in a military conflict, and fought against them. He killed an American medic in a grenade attack. The Canadian government sprung Khadr from prison, gave him $8 million, many times more than most Canadian workers will earn in a lifetime. Then they sweetened Khadr’s windfall by tacking on an official apology.

Tommy Holmes, Cecil Kinross, Christopher O’Kelly, Colin Brown, and thousands of Canadian troops would have found it very strange. After all, Khadr was not a Canadian soldier and had never done anything for Canada that even approached the sacrifice of Canada’s Passchendaele heroes.

George Pearkes went on to fight in World War II, served four terms in Parliament, and was Canada’s defence minister from 1957 to 1960. Canadians might remember that Trudeau père did not serve in World War II. Canadians who did serve, like my uncle James Richard Billingsley, wounded in action twice, called such people “zombies.”

Canadians of all stripes, particularly veterans, have other terms and phrases for Trudeau fils.

The establishment media doubtless find these descriptions offensive, but they do capture who he is.


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A veteran shares his firsthand account of the Battle of Dunkirk

Post by Guest on Thu 03 Aug 2017, 16:35

A veteran shares his firsthand account of the Battle of Dunkirk

‘It looks as though it might be okay.’


D unkirk is already being lauded by some critics as ‘the best war movie ever made,’ and has spent it’s first two weeks at the top of the box office. With the stellar cast of Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy and Harry Styles, Christopher Nolan direction and the source material so close to Britain’s heart, how could it not be? The film tells the story of how thousands of Allied troops were evacuated off the beaches of Dunkirk, France during the beginning of World War II.

In 1940, the Allies sent troops to northern France operating on the assumption that the Nazis would invade from Belgium as the Germans did in WWI. Instead, they invaded through the south of France, effectively surrounding and trapping the troops where they were in Dunkirk.

It is unclear why–some say the order came from Hitler, though that hasn’t been substantiated–but the Nazis slowed down their advance on the Allied forces at the last minute. Since the Allies were outnumbered and surrounded, the only option for Britain was to stage an evacuation of the beaches but the shallow water and bomb debris would make it impossible to get large ships in to save the soldiers. Instead, the Brits initiated Operation Dynamo to save as many men as they could.

‘When it got dark, I happened to look out towards the sea and there was a small boat in between the waves and sand,’ recalls WWII veteran and Battle of Dunkirk survivor, Michael Bentall, 96, ‘And I said, ‘It looks as though it might be okay.’’

The boat was most definitely okay. Over the course of a week, small civilian vessels like fishing boats and pleasure craft were used to shuttle soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk to larger vessels waiting further out to sea. In total, 338,226 men of the 400,000 trapped were shuttled back to Britain, including soldiers also from Canada, Belgium and France.

The battle and evacuation wasn’t a victory or a pivotal point in the war, it’s main importance was the affect it had on the British consciousness. Historians theorize that it was a huge moment simply because the homefront needed some good news and saving that many men was exactly that. It also led to some good reunion photos like the first famous WWII kiss:

‘This [movie] has brought [the Dunkirk story] back into public consciousness again,’ says Cameron Graham, the owner of one of those crucial small boats, ‘It wasn’t epic. It wasn’t a victory, we must never make that mistake. It was a gigantic defeat which was turned into a moral victory on the part of the Brits.’

‘I think it’s amazing,’ says Bentrall, ‘I don’t know how you could do it because there were so many different things happening. Everybody was split up… and we never met again. This is why I think it was so wonderful we actually made it, any of us.’

Though it might not have been a technical victory, the success of the evacuation saved thousands of human lives. That can definitely be considered a victory in itself.


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Inspiration for summer blockbuster Dunkirk an unsung Montreal hero

Post by Guest on Wed 02 Aug 2017, 07:04

Inspiration for summer blockbuster Dunkirk an unsung Montreal hero

René Bruemmer, Montreal Gazette

Published on: August 1, 2017 | Last Updated: August 1, 2017 10:37 PM EDT

The real-life hero of this summer’s blockbuster movie Dunkirk, which portrays the valiant effort of naval officers and civilians to evacuate more than 300,000 Allied soldiers trapped by the Germans during the Second World War, was a Canadian who grew up in Montreal and attended McGill University.

Yet the name of James Campbell Clouston, who is credited with saving close to 200,000 soldiers as German planes bombed and strafed the pier while he calmly ushered troops onto ships for five days, is never mentioned in the film and remains largely unknown in Canada.

“He’s one of those great unsung Canadians who, in a pivotal moment in time, does extraordinary things, dies, and then goes completely forgotten,” said University of Ottawa history professor Serge Durflinger.

Clouston’s son has protested the lack of acknowledgement, saying the character played by Kenneth Branagh should have had a Canadian accent, and that his father warranted at least a mention in the credits.

Now, a group of Canadians are rallying to promote his memory. Michael Zavacky, a former Montrealer living in Ottawa, has been lobbying the Canadian government for recognition and for Canada Post to issue a commemorative stamp. War historian Jeffrey Street, who wrote and co-produced the 1990 CBC documentary We Shall Fight on the Beaches! chronicling the Dunkirk evacuation, is writing a book about Clouston.

“This man is from Montreal, he is one of us,” Zavacky said. “I find it sad and kind of tragic that someone who performed this type of valour, who was brave and saved lives, for some reason has just slipped under the radar.”

Ottawa resident Michael Zavacky has designed this image as a proposed stamp commemorating Canadian James Campbell Clouston, who was instrumental in saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of men during the evacuation at Dunkirk, France in May-June 1940 as a member of the British Royal Navy. The illustrator is Bojana Dimitrovski

Clouston grew up in Pointe-Claire across the street from the yacht club, an avid hockey player who attended Selwyn House and Lower Canada College before enrolling in engineering at McGill University. At the age of 17, he enlisted to join Britain’s Royal Navy in 1917, hoping to serve in the First World War. He spent the next 23 years with the navy, rising to the rank of commander.

In the last week of May 1940, the bulk of the British Expeditionary Force and their French and Belgian allies, 338,000 men, found themselves encircled by the German army, trapped at Dunkirk in northern France. Prime Minister Winston Churchill authorized Operation Dynamo to rescue them. Early estimates predicted only 50,000 men would be saved from death or capture.

Clouston was among eight men chosen to oversee the evacuation. He was given the responsibility for a ramshackle pier extending one-kilometre out into the English Channel on which only four men could stand abreast, which would prove pivotal to the evacuation. He arrived to find hundreds of thousands of hungry, exhausted troops and only 50 men an hour being evacuated. Through organizational brilliance and force of will, Clouston was able to increase the rate to 2,000 an hour, shuttling the men along the 10-foot wide pier, mainly to naval vessel destroyers that would bring them across the channel to safety in Britain.

“Like clockwork, he would have 500 guys aboard in 45 minutes, and the vessel would take off,” Durflinger recounted. “He had six to seven vessels lined up doing this all at the same time.”

In his book The Miracle at Dunkirk, historian Walter Lord described Clouston as “a Canadian – big, tough, athletic, amusing.”

Veterans interviewed for the CBC documentary remembered him as a beacon of calm amid the terror, as German planes targeted the troops.

“He was like a policemen … on a busy intersection, just guiding people,” recalled one. “And all the time the Stuka bombers were going over and scaring everybody to death and then they would give you a couple bursts of gunfire, but he just never moved, he just stood there, and he was jollying everyone along.”

After five straight days on the pier, Clouston went to England for a planning meeting. He could have stayed, but chose to return because close to 100,000 French troops remained, and Clouston spoke French because of his Montreal upbringing. His 15-person motor launch was bombed on the way back, and he opted to stay with his crew instead of taking an early offer to be saved. He died along with 12 other crewmen of hypothermia, telling “white lies” to the end to keep up spirits, one survivor recounted. He left a wife and two infant sons.


Emma Thomas, one of the producers of Dunkirk and wife of director Nolan, responded in a letter to Clouston’s son, Dane, that they did not use historical names because the film is a fictionalized version, and Branagh’s character was inspired by the stories of several different men.

“I was very disappointed when the filmmakers were adamant that they were not going to mention his name, even in the credits,” Dane Clouston, 78, wrote in an email. As the only person who served as pier-master, his father’s role was clear, he said.

Zavacky’s request for a commemorative stamp was denied but he is determined to continue, especially after travelling to Dunkirk last summer and meeting Dane Clouston. He will be writing the Canadian government and Veterans Affairs to lobby for some form of commemoration or perhaps a posthumous medal.

“Almost all the veterans interviewed said this one figure played a key role, but none of them knew his name,” Zavacky said. “It was the pier-master who saved our lives’ they said. It’s like the curse of Clouston. It almost seems like history has treated him the same way, like he’s the unknown hero. And to me, that’s the fight we’re fighting.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if his son, before he passes away, could see the recognition his father is due?”


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Alaska Highway convoy celebrates military history

Post by Guest on Tue 01 Aug 2017, 16:49

Alaska Highway convoy celebrates military history

Group marks 75th anniversary of the Alaska Highway with a road trip in refurbished vehicles

By Philippe Morin, CBC News Posted: Aug 01, 2017 1:34 PM ET Last Updated: Aug 01, 2017 1:40 PM ET

People asked the drivers questions outside the Royal Canadian Legion in Whitehorse.

A convoy of hobbyists and vehicle collectors is marking the 75th anniversary of the Alaska Highway by driving restored military vehicles from Vancouver to Alaska and Yukon.

It's not a military operation but from a distance you might think so.

Dave Good bought this surplus 1993 Light Utility Vehicle for $5000 at a government auction. Now repaired, it makes a sturdy camper and it's even been in some Hollywood movies as a prop.

Members of the Western Command Military Vehicle Historical Society stopped in Whitehorse yesterday. They're on their way back on a round trip from Vancouver to Fairbanks.

The members buy surplus or antique military vehicles in Canadian government closed-bid auctions and restore them.

Dave Good is from BC. He bought a surplus Canadian Light Support Vehicle last year at auction for about five thousand dollars.

He says overall it was a great deal.

"This one I was lucky, it was pretty much fully serviced, all the brakes were like new, and all the fluids were changed so really didn't have to do a heck of a lot to this one," he says.

Some members rent their vehicles out for movie and television shoots which happen in Vancouver area. (Good says, proudly, his vehicle appears in the film War for the Planet of the Apes.)

John Hawthorne, convoy coordinator for the trip, says some members of the historical society are retired service members. Others aren't.

The Western Command Military Vehicle Historical society is based in BC. It is one of many chapters of the larger Military Vehicle Preservation Association based in Kansas.

The convoy has been visiting Legions and is on the road until August 9th.

"We're doing the 75th anniversary of the Alaska Highway, and visiting our veterans along the way and celebratng Canada's 150th," Hawthorne says.


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Brave veteran, 97, sobs through war film Dunkirk thinking about his 'buddies' and 'picking bodies from the water'

Post by Guest on Tue 01 Aug 2017, 06:33

Brave veteran, 97, sobs through war film Dunkirk thinking about his 'buddies' and 'picking bodies from the water'

Ken Sturdy, a Welsh national, was on the beaches when more than 300,000 Allied soldiers surrounded by German forces were evacuated in 'a miracle of deliverance'

09:26, 1 AUG 2017

Ken Sturdy, a Welsh national, was on the beaches in 1940

A 97-year-old veteran said he wept through latest war film Dunkirk thinking about his "buddies" and "picking bodies out of the water".

Ken Sturdy, a Welsh national, was on the beaches when more than 300,000 Allied soldiers surrounded by German forces were evacuated in "a miracle of deliverance", Wales Online reports.

Sturdy, who now lives in Canada, spoke to the Canadian Global News Hour at 6 after the premiere of the Second World War epic about the massive 1940 operation to save hundreds of thousands of servicemen from advancing Nazi forces.

It was one of the key battles of the war where the Germans outclassed the Allies in what Prime Minister Winston Churchill described as "a colossal military disaster".

Mr Sturdy, who lives in Calgary, wore his Royal Navy medals as he watched the film.

The evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, in France

He said: "Tonight I cried because it's never the end.

"It won't happen. We the human species are so intelligent and we do such astonishing things.

"We can fly to the moon but we still do stupid things.

"I never thought I would see that again, it was just like I was there again."

Weary troops of the British Expeditionary Force

Mr Study, who was a Signalman with the Royal Navy, added: "I was in those little boats picking them out of the water."

"I had the privilege of seeing that film tonight but I'm saddened by it because of what happened on that beach.

"I was 20 when that happened, but I could see my old friends and a lot of them later died in the war.

"I went on convoys after that in the North Atlantic. I had lost so many of my buddies."

An old paddle steamer that helped to evacuate some of the 300,000 men

Mr Sturdy had a message for those of us who might go and see the film, which is being widely praised.

He said: "Don't just go to the movies for entertainment. Think about it. And when you become adults, keep thinking."

Filmgoers hugged and kissed Mr Sturdy at the cinema.

Kelly Kwamsoos said: "At the end of the movie I ran down the stairs and he was wiping his tears away when I was able to shake his hand."

The Welsh involvement in Dunkirk doesn't appear to be represented in the movie.

A welcome drink for jubilant troops as the train pulls up at a railway station

A maritime expert for the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea, David Jenkins, previously told the BB records about the smaller boats or for those from farther afield is often confused.

He said: "The German advance through France only began on 10 May, so Vice Admiral Bertram Ramsay had little more than a fortnight to put together operation Dynamo.

"It was quite ordered at first, but as the pace needed to pick up, more and more vessels joined, and there wasn't always time to document them.

"Often we find out about the role of Welsh ships and boats from the recollections of rescued servicemen rather than official records.

"It seems incredible that boats left Welsh ports, and were able to get to Dunkirk in time to play a part in the evacuation."


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Former foes mark Passchendaele on centenary of bloody WWI battle

Post by Guest on Mon 31 Jul 2017, 18:24

Jets fly over commemorations for the 100th anniversary of the battle of Passchendaele at Tyne Cot cemetery near Ypres in Belgium, July 31, 2017.

Former foes mark Passchendaele on centenary of bloody WWI battle

By Levon Sevunts |
Monday 31 July, 2017

Representatives of the British and Belgian royal families, Germany’s foreign minister and descendants of some of those who died in one of the First World War’s bloodiest battles gathered Monday in western Belgium to mark the centenary of the Third Battle of Ypres, more commonly known simply as Passchendaele.

More than half a million Allied and German troops, including 16,000 Canadians, were killed or wounded in the fields of Passchendaele that had become a sea of heavy mud with the incessant artillery fire having destroyed dikes and drainage ditches which normally kept the ground dry.

Early and heavy rains only made the situation worse as the ground turned into a nightmarish landscape poked with craters of fetid water often filled with the bodies of the fallen.

Gathered at the Tyne Cot Cemetery, where almost 12,000 soldiers are buried, representatives from nations whose soldiers fought, and members of their families, paid homage to those who died.

Britain’s Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Charles, Prince William and Belgium’s King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, and Prime Minister Theresa May attend commemorations for the 100th anniversary of the battle of Passchendaele at Tyne Cot cemetery near Ypres in Belgium, July 31, 2017.

The Canadian government at today’s Passchendaele Commemorations was represented by Ambassador Olivier Nicoloff.

Veterans Affairs Canada is currently working on commemorative activities related to the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele in November, said Nick Wells, a spokesperson for the department.

“In addition to events here in Canada, there will be a ceremony in Belgium with a Canadian delegation that will include Veterans, youth, representatives of regimental and Indigenous organizations, as well as a contingent of Canadian Armed Forces,” said Wells.

“These ceremonies are being organized to commemorate the Canadian elements of the Battle of Passchendaele.”

Canadians entered the Battle of Passchendaele in October 1917.

Brtish tank, mired and hit in the mud of Passchendaele 1917, the remains of a light rail track in the forefront and what appears to be an artillery piece in the background where a shell has just exploded. In these conditions, Canadians prevailed © Library Archives Canada PA-002195

The Canadians were sent to Belgium to relieve the British, Australian and New Zealand (ANZAC) forces and take part in the final push to capture Passchendaele.

The Canadian offensive began on October 26, 1917 and by the end of the second attack, the Canadians had reached the outskirts of Passchendaele on October 30.

On November 6, the Canadians finally took the shattered village in the face of withering resistance and counter-attacks. By November 10, they had pushed the Germans off the nearby ridge, succeeding in mere weeks, where the British and ANZAC forces had failed during a horrific campaign of several months.

Canadian pioneers lay trench mats (duckboards) over the mud at Passchendaele, November 1917. © WILLIAM RIDER-RIDER, LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA—PA002156

Canadians paid a heavy price for their victory with 4,000 dead and almost 12,000 wounded.

Nine Canadians earned the Victoria Cross (the highest award for military valour a Canadian can earn) in the battle: Private Tommy Holmes, Captain Christopher O’Kelly, Sergeant George Mullin, Private James Peter Robertson, Corporal Colin Barron, Private Cecil Kinross, Lieutenant Hugh McKenzie and Lieutenant Robert Shankland. Two of these men, MacKenzie and Robertson, did not survive the battle to receive their medals.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said “the battle of Flanders stands like Verdun for the senseless horror of war.”

“Diplomacy must never again fail as it did in 1914, there must never again be war in the middle of Europe, and never again must the youth of our continent be slaughtered,” Gabriel said in a statement.


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Six Canadian battles shaped by weather and climate

Post by Guest on Mon 31 Jul 2017, 18:16

Six Canadian battles shaped by weather and climate


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75th celebration a distinctly Dawson Creek affair

Post by Guest on Thu 27 Jul 2017, 17:28

75th celebration a distinctly Dawson Creek affair


JULY 27, 2017 11:53 AM

Mayor Dale Bumstead said the day was a great way to celebrate the 75th – and he was right.

Visitors and veterans from across North America made the pilgrimage to Mile Zero post last Thursday for a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the creation of the Alaska Highway. Joyce Lee with Tourism Dawson Creek underlined the importance of the highway project in her emcee duties.

“If the highway (or Mile Zero post) itself could tell its own stories, like the time it was replaced by an outhouse.”

Other hijinks include the time it was stolen by university students.

“Each year 1000s of people start their Alaska highway journey right here. It is one of Canada most recognized and photographed spots,” said Lee. It was noted thousands of US and Canadian soldiers and civilians who came to town to build the highway, forging new ground.

“This was an agriculture town. People of the time said soldiers and then it was mud and men everywhere.”

Veterans from across North America, many who served in Okinawa and Vietnam, were on hand in DC to catch the ceremony, or were part of the Western Command Convoy travelling up the Alaska Highway as part of the 75th recognition efforts.

MLA for the area Mike Bernier said it was a beautiful day to celebrate the note the 75th.

“Today is an example - a celebration. When we take 75 years back we were 600 people then this built the country people stayed here and built the foundation of Dawson Creek. It is an amazing icon connecting the US and Canada.”

Bumstead agreed.

“It is a special day to remember. We look north from here, past Mile Zero and beyond, the train station. Pearl Harbor is the reason the the US government decided they needed and overland route to Alaska. The only way was to build this highway,” he said noting the timeline of construction was less than one year.

“It took nine months for the highway. Now it would take nine months for the paperwork only.”

Steve Dowling, District Operations Manager with Transportation and Infrastructure was on hand to bring greetings from the government. John Hart of the First Special Service Force Association presented Bumstead and the City of Dawson Creek with the Congressional Gold Medal on Thursday, July 20 in front of the Alaska Highway House. Hart talked about the area more than 50 years ago.

“For people growing up with war – it was an exciting time and the veteran presence was very strong in the area,” he said, noting only a handful of Canadians have received the Congressional Gold medal.

The Congressional Gold Medal was awarded in 2013 to the First Special Service Force, an elite Canadian-American commando unit that recruited men with extensive outdoor experience to train as paratroopers for overseas combat and suicide missions during WWII.


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Statement by the Prime Minister on Korean War Veterans Day

Post by Guest on Thu 27 Jul 2017, 17:19


Statement by the Prime Minister on Korean War Veterans Day

Ottawa, Ontario - July 27, 2017

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on Korean War Veterans Day:

“Today, we remember the brave members of the army, navy and air forces who fought so valiantly, and sacrificed so greatly, during the Korean War.

“Sixty-four years ago today, a ceasefire put an end to active fighting in the Korean War. After the Communist North’s invasion of South Korea in 1950, the brutal war lasted more than three years and cost hundreds of thousands of military and civilian lives. More than 26,000 Canadians – some only teenagers, others veterans of the Second World War – crossed the Pacific Ocean to fight under the flag of the United Nations. Over 500 Canadian soldiers, sailors, and air personnel made the ultimate sacrifice, and the lives of countless others were forever changed.

“The soldiers fought in conditions reminiscent of the First World War – cold, wet trench duty punctuated by terrifying night patrols into no man’s land. They bravely battled both the harsh weather and enemy forces at places like Kapyong, the site of one of Canada’s most important victories.

“We take pride in Canada’s contributions, along with those of our United Nations allies, to defending the sovereignty of South Korea. The courage and sacrifice of our Korean War veterans helped South Korea to become the peaceful and prosperous country we know today.

“Today, I urge all Canadians to learn more about the Korean War, and to participate in activities being held to honour the veterans. As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, let us recognize all those in our military, and their families who support them. They help defend our most cherished values – openness, democracy, compassion, and respect for human rights – in Canada and around the world.”


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Historian pays tribute to Borden-Carleton veterans

Post by Guest on Thu 27 Jul 2017, 06:42

'This needs to be done': Historian pays tribute to Borden-Carleton veterans

Pieter Valkenburg is researching and fundraising to honour the soldiers named on the Borden-Carleton cenotaph

By Cody MacKay, CBC News Posted: Jul 27, 2017 7:00 AM AT Last Updated: Jul 27, 2017 7:00 AM AT

Pieter Valkenburg intends to publish his findings and create more profiles for the 48 veterans named on the Borden-Carleton cenotaph.

A P.E.I. historian is working along with a local historical society to put together profiles and other tributes for the 48 veterans named on the Borden-Carleton cenotaph.

"I'm going to find out who these people are and give a face to every name," Pieter Valkenburg said. "For me it's a way to say thank you, Canada."

Valkenburg is a historian and member of the Tryon and Area Historical Society.

He's originally from the Netherlands and says he and his wife are taking on the project out of respect for the country he now calls home

"If it wasn't for the Canadians, I might not have been sitting here."

Learning the story

Valkenburg said so far, he's found information on all but one of the men.

Elmer Bagnall Muttart sacrificed his life to save a Dutch village, according to Pieter Valkenburg.

"My wife has written about five or six articles — that is mainly for trying to get more information. We are also going to do presentations on them."

Valkenburg is planning on publishing two books with all the information he's gathered, which will be available at the Borden-Carleton Legion for visitors to read.

Of all the research Valkenburg has done, one story has struck him the most: that of Elmer Bagnall Muttart.

'This should have been recognized a long time ago'

Muttart was a 23-year-old man from Cape Traverse, P.E.I., who Valkenburg says flew a bomber for the Canadians during World War II.

According to Valkenburg's research, Muttart flew 21 missions and was killed on his last flight during a bombing run over Bremen, Germany.

'I think he sacrificed his life to save the village'
— Pieter Valkenburg

Valkenburg said Muttart was intercepted by a German night fighter that shot the bomber to pieces, forcing the pilot to change course in his final moments away from a village down below.

"The main reason why he did that was he realized the plane was probably going to crash," Valkenburg suggested. "But he wanted to give his crew a chance to parachute out."

Seven British crew members were on board, according to Valkenburg, and all escaped safely while Muttart steered the burning plane away from a Dutch village, dying when the plane crashed into a field.

Valkenburg has binders full of research on the 48 soldiers named on the Borden-Carleton cenotaph.

"I think he sacrificed his life to save the village," he said. "He made sure his whole crew was saved."

"This should have been recognized a long time ago."

To recognize Muttart, Valkenburg is raising money for a memorial plaque near the location where he died. He said some funding is even being provided by the Missing Airmen Memorial Foundation in the Netherlands.

'I feel that this needs to be done'

Valkenburg plans to travel to Europe and visit the grave site of all the soldiers from the Borden cenotaph, along with Vimy Ridge and the Menin Gate Memorial in Belgium.

"I feel that this needs to be done," he said. "It feels good for me to do it — I feel a lot of gratitude to what was done"


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Battle forged Canadian identity

Post by Guest on Wed 26 Jul 2017, 15:44

Battle forged Canadian identity

By Kerry Rodgers
July 26, 2017

On April 9, 1917 a significant World War I battle involving the Canadian Expeditionary Force commenced on and around Vimy Ridge in northern France. When the guns fell silent on April 12 the CEF had driven the German forces back some 4,500 yards at a cost of 3,598 killed and 7,004 wounded.

From a military point of view the battle was not the greatest accomplishment of the CEF in WWI. It was however, the first instance in which all four Canadian divisions, made up of troops drawn from all parts of the country, fought as a single cohesive unit.

Post-war the country seized on the victory as a symbol of national unity, achievement and sacrifice: “Anglophone, Francophone, Black, First Nations, Métis and Asian soldiers: the victors of Vimy took the Ridge as Canadians.” Rightly or wrongly the battle and the later spectacular memorial built on Vimy Ridge have come to symbolize Canada’s coming of age.

The Coins

In recent years the national significance of the battle and its memorial has been recognized by a number of coins.

In 2002 a five cents proof was struck with a mintage of 22,646, KM-453. The reverse design has been echoed on later coins. It features the remarkable Vimy Ridge war memorial and its central figure of “Canada grieving for her lost sons.”

Mother Canada and her sorrows dominate the design of a 2007 90th anniversary $30 sterling silver proof, KM-741. She stands before names engraved on the Vimy monument of 11,285 Canadians who fell on French soil and have no known graves.

For this year’s centenary of the battle two .999 fine silver proofs have been released: a 76.25 mm, 311.54 g (10 oz) $100 and a selectively gold-plated 38 mm, 31.39 g (1 oz) $20. Mintages are 750 and 10,000.

The reverse of $100 shows a segment of a painting by WWI war artist Richard Jack: “The Taking of Vimy Ridge, Easter Monday, 1917.” The obverse carries Sir Edgar Bertram MacKennal’s crowned effigy of George V, monarch at the time.

On its website the RCM summarizes the $20 coin as: VIMY: OUR FINEST HOUR. The reverse by Canadian artist Pandora Young presents a close-up view of a single, anonymous Canadian soldier against the backdrop of the battlefield at Vimy. His brass buttons and the CEF maple leaf insignia on his standup collar are selectively gold plated as is the winged Victory below – based on that depicted on the bronze Victory Medal awarded to Allied soldiers in 1919.

A $2 circulation coin commemorating the 100th anniversary of the battle is scheduled for release this fall.

Canada grieving also features on a 2017 40 mm, 31.83 g (1 oz) .9999 fine silver $20 proof entitled SACRIFICE. At the time of writing 93 percent of the mintage of 5,500 had been sold.

This coin’s central design is taken from the nation’s Sacrifice Medal approved by Queen Elizabeth II on April 17, 2008. The award is described as “a lasting form of recognition to members of the Canadian Armed Forces (and those who partner with them) who have been wounded in the line of duty ‘as a direct result of a hostile action or action intended for a hostile force’ or have died as a direct result of military service.”


The battle was the opening phase of a major WWI Allied offensive to capture the key railroad junction of Arras. The immediate objective of the Canadians was to seize control of the German-held ridge to the north that provided an unobstructed view – and line of fire – for miles in all directions.

The ridge had been captured by the Germans in 1914. Attempts by both the French in 1915 and the British in 1916 to dislodge the occupiers were unsuccessful. A spring offensive involving the Canadians was organized for 1917 reinforced by the British 5th Infantry plus supplementary units. All told 170,000 Allied men would be involved of who 97,184 were Canadian.

They were commanded by Lieutenant-general Julian Byng. His troops became known as Byng’s Boys.

The plan

The CEF was to advance on a 7,000 yard front. Each division was to progressively capture a series of objectives until the entire ridge summit lay in their hands. For two months prior to attack the Canadians undertook extensive rehearsals. In the likely event of casualties all soldiers learned the duties of those alongside and above them.

The defense of the ridge was vested in Bavarian Reserve Corps under the command of General Karl von Fasbender. He had a problem.

The Battles of Verdun and the Somme had taught the Germans of the need for elastic defense-at-depth of their positions on the Western Front. Each garrison must have room to maneuver. However at Vimy Ridge the topography did not allow for this and the Germans had reverted to their earlier Western Front strategy of heavily fortified static strong points flanked by trenches. The Allies had learned how to isolate and destroy these.

As elsewhere on the Western Front, extensive tunneling operations had been undertaken by both sides. Prior to the attack the Canadians extended their tunnels. The intent was to use them to advance a number of troops as far as possible underground to eventually emerge behind a curtain of fire being laid down by their own big guns.

Easter Monday & Beyond

At 0530 on Easter Monday morning, April 9, 1917, all units were in position. Over 980 guns and mortars launched a protracted bombardment of German front-line trenches. This saw the Canadian infantry advance through a morass of mud, blood, bodies, shattered defenses, shell holes, and cut and uncut barbed wire.

The Germans threw everything at the advancing troops but by the afternoon the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Divisions had successfully captured all their objectives for Day 1 on schedule. No so the 4th Division. Its advance collapsed immediately upon leaving the trenches. Machine gun nests from undamaged sections of the German lines and the high point of the ridge, “The Pimple,” destroyed this Division’s right flank. In the evening German reinforcements moved in to plug gaps.

The following day fresh brigades arrived to support the 1st and 2nd Canadian Divisions. By 1300 hours both units reported achieving their final goals along the ridge top.

The 4th Division renewed their attack but achieved success only when the Germans found they were being outflanked by Canadian troops moving along the ridge. They promptly withdrew to leave the Canadians in charge of the entire ridge except The Pimple. This finally fell on April 12.


The Germans did not regard the loss of Vimy Ridge as of great consequence and made no attempt to recapture it. Despite their success the Canadians were unable to achieve a major breakthrough of German lines.

Nevertheless for the Allies the conquest of the ridge held great propaganda value. The victor, Lieutenant-General Byng was promoted to command Britain’s Third Army. Replacing him as commander of the CEF was his subordinate Major-General Arthur Currie, the first Canadian to command Canada’s army in the field.

In 1919 Byng was raised to the peerage as Baron Byng of Vimy. In 1921 he was appointed Governor General of Canada. Post-Canada he was elevated to become Viscount Byng of Vimy. Later he was promoted to Field Marshal.

Post-war 250 acres of Vimy Ridge were ceded by France to Canada for perpetual use as a battlefield park and memorial. It was here that sculptor Walter Allward built the vast Vimy Memorial at a cost of $1.5 million. Twin memorial towers rise proudly above a park that has persevered the original battlefield, complete with tunnels, trenches, craters, and unexploded munitions.

The commanding structure took 11 years to complete. It stands 140 feet high, 130 feet wide, and 150 feet deep. Some 8,000 tons of stone quarried in Yugoslavia went into its construction. The largest block weighs 26 tons. It is adorned by 20 allegorical figures with “Canada grieving for her fallen sons” at their center.

The completed memorial was unveiled on July 26, 1936, by King Edward VIII. A crowd of 100,000 attended. They included 6,000 Canadian veterans who came as pilgrims for the ceremony. Since World War II there have been a number of formal and countless informal Canadian pilgrimages to the site.

Pilgrimage Medals

For that first Vimy Pilgrimage each veteran was issued with a kit. It included a Vimy Pilgrimage Medal to be worn on the right breast. These had been struck in silvered metal by J.R. Gaunt and showed an image of the memorial.

A unique gilt version of this medal was presented to King Edward VIII at the memorial’s unveiling. It was sold in 1987 by Sotheby’s as part of the Duchess of Windsor’s jewelery. In 2010 they re-auctioned it. The successful purchaser was the Canadian War Museum whose payment £12,500 was generously supported by the Vimy Foundation.

Some 5,000 of the first pilgrims were presented with a special 50mm diameter bronze medallion that commemorated the unveiling of the memorial. It was the work of French medalist Albin de Possesse and struck by Monnaie de Paris. The presentation was made during a banquet held for these pilgrims at the Hôtel des Invalides on Aug. 2, 1936.

To mark the 90th anniversary in 2007 Canada’s Vimy Foundation issued a similar medal to that given to the 1936 pilgrims. Its sale raised money for the Foundation’s activities. Oddly no such medal has been produced for the centenary.

Citadel Coins in Halifax, however, has marked the centenary. The firm has stamped a 1 oz .999 fine silver round 100 YEARS VIMY RIDGE 2017 REMEMBER. The same words have been counterstamped on the reverse of a 1917 Canadian cent. The maximum mintage of each piece is 150.

Acknowledgements: Thanks are due to Kevin Day-Thorburn, Henry Nienhuis and “The Canadian Numismatic Journal” for information and images.


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Wartime houses built for workers, returning soldiers

Post by Guest on Wed 26 Jul 2017, 15:21

Wartime houses built for workers, returning soldiers

Queensway Park still features 'Strawberry Box' homes

By Denise Harris Jul 26, 2017

Examples of wartime houses in Queensway Park in 2017. - Denise Harris/Photo

Tucked away northwest of the intersection of The Queensway and Royal York Road is a pleasant family neighbourhood named Queensway Park, with interesting circular streets and cul-de-sacs, and about 200 homes surrounding a large park with the same name. Although many of the homes have been altered over the years, there is still an obvious connection among them for they were all originally small residences, many painted white, built in 1945-46 from federal government-provided floor plans.

Over all, 46,000 similar homes were built across Canada, during and after the Second World War, by the Wartime Housing Corporation (which became the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation in 1946.) Initially these homes were built to house people working in war-related industry. A small number of these houses were built in 1943 in the Alderwood area of Etobicoke (west of Brown’s Line and south of Woodbury Road) for workers at the Small Arms Company in Lakeview (now Mississauga).

However, as the Second World War was ending, larger neighbourhoods were built to fill a growing need to house returning veterans and their families. The homes in Queensway Park are typical of those built for returning soldiers: one-and-a-half storeys, steeply-pitched roofs, clapboard walls, small sash windows, and small metal chimney stacks. Inside, the main floor often had a living room, kitchen with dining area, bathroom and one bedroom, while the upstairs had two more bedrooms. This architectural style has been referred to as “Simplified Cape Cod” or “Strawberry Box.”

A similar neighbourhood was built in East York, northwest of Victoria Park Avenue and St. Clair Avenue East. Like the one in Etobicoke, it has curving streets, cul-de-sacs, and a large park named Topham Park after Victoria Cross winner Corporal Frederick Topham. Topham also has an Etobicoke connection as he is buried in Sanctuary Park cemetery on Royal York Road. One corner of Topham Park has been dubbed “Sunshine Valley” because when a local bus driver named Mac stopped there, he always called, “All out for Sunshine Valley,” a reference to an early lack of trees.

Wartime housing was also built in North York near Jane Street and Trethewey Drive. This development is known as “The Wishbone” after an unusually laid-out street of the same name.

In Scarborough, wartime housing consisted of dormitories constructed in 1941 for the many employees — primarily women — doing munitions work at the General Engineering Company (GECO) near Warden Avenue and Eglinton Avenue East.

Today, despite renovations over the years, most of the houses in Queensway Park still display their original cosy feel. These residences are well-maintained and much loved by the families which inhabit them. Some owners have planted Victory Rose Gardens in remembrance of the circumstances that created their neighbourhood. The importance these modest houses hold within the context of Canadian history was acknowledged by Canada Post in 1998 when they featured the humble “Veteran’s House” on a stamp.


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Calgary veteran who survived Dunkirk causes a stir at movie premiere

Post by Guest on Sun 23 Jul 2017, 06:48

Calgary veteran who survived Dunkirk causes a stir at movie premiere

By Carolyn Kury de Castillo
Reporter Global News

The movie Dunkirk tells the story of allied soldiers who were evacuated during a fierce world war two battle. The movie is already getting critical acclaim. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, a 97-year-old Calgary man who was actually at the battle, had to see the movie for himself.

Theatre goers watching the premiere of “Dunkirk” at Calgary’s Westhills Cinemas on Friday night got a surprise encounter with a 97-year -old man who was at the battle in 1940.
The Battle of Dunkirk took place during the Second World War between the Allies and Nazi Germany in Dunkirk, France.

Calgarian Ken Sturdy, dressed in a jacket adorned with medals, viewed the movie and was impressed by what he saw.

“I never thought I would see that again. It was just like I was there again,” Sturdy said.

“It didn’t have a lot of dialogue. It didn’t need any of the dialogue because it told the story visually and it was so real.”

The movie Dunkirk tells the terrifying story of the evacuation of allied troops from the French city of Dunkirk. It’s thrilling entertainment for most viewers, but for just a handful of people in the world, it contains images that bring back memories of surviving Dunkirk.

“I was in those little boats picking them out of the water,” Sturdy said.

He was a 20-year-old signal man with the Royal Navy helping evacuated soldiers reach waiting boats from the chaos on the beach.

“I had the privilege of seeing that film tonight and I am saddened by it because of what happened on that beach,” Sturdy said.

More than 68,000 British soldiers were captured or killed during the battle and retreat and over 300,000 were rescued over nine days.

The harrowing scenes took Sturdy back to a time when he was on those small boats. Sturdy said the beach was filled with terrified soldiers.

“I was 20 when that happened, but watching the movie, I could see my old friends again and a lot of them died later in the war,” Sturdy said. “I went on convoys after that in the North Atlantic. I had lost so many of my buddies. One of my mates was taken prisoner. He wasn’t killed on the beach. They marched him up to Poland. And he spent five years in a German prisoner camp.”

Other people at the Calgary premiere were honoured to encounter such a decorated veteran at the theatre. Many gathered around Sturdy to shake his hand and offer their thanks.

“At the end of the movie I ran down the stairs and he was just wiping his tears away and I was able to shake his hand and give him a proper salute,” Kelly Kwamsoos said while fighting back tears.

“I really hope that the younger generations can understand what it was like and really count their blessings. We’re so lucky,” Kwamsoos said.

Sturdy hopes the movie sends a message to a new audience of the sad nature of war and our apparent inability to avoid it.

“Don’t just go to the movie for entertainment. Think about it. And when you become adults, keep thinking, “ Sturdy advised.

“Tonight I cried because it’s never the end. It won’t happen. We the human species are so intelligent and we do such astonishing things. We can fly to the moon but we still do stupid things,” Sturdy said. “So when I see the film tonight, I see it with a certain kind of sadness. Because what happened back then in 1940, it’s not the end.”


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Re: History / Topics & Posted Articles

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