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Re: History / Topics & Posted Articles

Post by Guest on Fri 25 Mar 2016, 07:07

The Great Escape March 24/25 1944

The place was near Sagan, in Lower Silesia, Germany (now Zagan Poland) and in March 1944 it was still cold with snow on the ground.

But during the night of 24-25 March, one of the most amazing and daring escapes in history took place.

Commonwealth flight crew in Stalag Luft III, a Luftwaffe prisoner of war camp, had been digging tunnels and planning for a mass escape for almost two years. The camp was supposed to be escape proof. It was deliberately built over an underlying deposit of yellowish sandy soil and the huts were raised so guard could look underneath. Any disposal of the yellow sand from tunnel digging would be quickly seen on the somewhat greyish surface soil.

Nevertheless, tons of the dirt from deep underground was slowly distributed and mixed in the surface dirt with incredible ingenuity and over a period of several months, led by Canadian tunnel diggers, Canadian document forgers, Canadian scroungers, and many others in a variety of roles, some 76 prisoners made a break in that cold March night.

There was an understood awareness that most would be captured and the purpose was really more to simply disrupt and occupy vast numbers of German forces as it was to actually make it back to England.

The first objective was successful with thousands of military personnel hunting down the escapees, and while three PW’s made it back to England, 50 of the recaptured escapees were later assassinated in cold blood.

The exciting and entertaining 1963 Hollywood film starring American and British actors did portray the escape relatively well, except for the major flaw which angered many Canadian veterans; there were in fact no Americans involved in the Great Escape.



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Re: History / Topics & Posted Articles

Post by Guest on Thu 31 Mar 2016, 10:45

Kenora's Lake of the Woods Museum exhibit highlights WWI

Museum showing exhibit from Ottawa, then launching a locally focused online project

The Lake of the Woods Museum in Kenora, Ont. is focusing on the First World War with a pair of exhibits that will be unveiled within the week.

The museum will show an exhibit from the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa that highlights the ground battles in Belgium and France — including the experience of facing mustard gas — from the perspective of Canadian soldiers. Following the opening of the exhibit in Kenora, an online resource called the Kenora Great War Project will be launched.

Museum educator Braden Murray told CBC News the online exhibit goes live on April 2. The national exhibit opens in Kenora on Tuesday.

"It's something that impacted all aspects of life," he said of the war and its bloody battles, like Ypres and Passchendaele.

"The really big events, the really big battles that people were involved with — either they knew someone who was involved with it or they knew someone who was killed there."

The museum worked with the Ancestor Seekers of Kenora and the Kenora Public Library on the online exhibit.

An 'amazing public history project'

The Kenora Great War Project is the collation and online presentation of all the research done to identify and uncover information about the soldiers from the Kenora area, whether they were born, lived in or worked there.

"All these different places, all these different people that were so crucial to the growth of town," he said.

"[There were] many who didn't come back, so it's a huge databank of biographies, it's an amazing public history project."

Murray said it's important to remember the war a century later, adding that it helped shape Canada as something more than just a part of the British Empire, but also brought a great loss of life.

"It is something that has profoundly shaped our society, it's a huge trauma in the history of Canada," he said.

"We sent these men and women to France and Belgium and had 60,000 never come back, and we had 160,000 come back permanently injured or hurt from their experience."

Murray said the museum is also working toward another exhibit, slated to open in 2018, which will focus on the war's effect on the Kenora-area home front.



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Re: History / Topics & Posted Articles

Post by Guest on Sat 02 Apr 2016, 16:45

Annual Toronto Garrison Officers' Ball to support the Vimy Foundation

Margaret Atwood and others to mark official 1 year countdown to Vimy Centennial

TORONTO, April 2, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - More than 1000 military personnel, business leaders, elected officials, celebrities and students will gather tonight at the Allstream Centre for the Toronto Garrison Officers' Ball in support of the Vimy Foundation, presented by Bell. The proceeds of the dinner are in support of the Vimy Visitor Education Centre and Charities of 32 Signals Regiment Association.

This year, the Toronto Garrison Officers' Ball is being hosted by 32 Signal Regiment. With a noble history dating back to the founding of the unit in 1907, 32 Signal Regiment traces its legacy to the earliest days of signalling in the Canadian Militia. A leading Reserve Force Communications Unit, they served as part of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division in the Canadian Expeditionary Force from 1915 – 1918. With only one year until the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Canada's defining moment of the First World War, supporters will be on hand to help celebrate Canada's military history and announce plans for the centennial commemorations set for 2017.

"It is an honour to partner with the Vimy Foundation on this annual event as both of our organizations are committed to sharing the story of Canada's history and celebrating our military accomplishments," said Lieutenant-Colonel Dan Bergeron, Commanding Officer, 32 Signal Regiment.

"We are thrilled that Canadians continue to embrace the Vimy Foundation's education and awareness programs. This event is no ordinary fundraiser. It will ensure that the Vimy legacy of national unity, sacrifice, innovation, and victory are never lost," said Jeremy Diamond, Executive Director of the Vimy Foundation.

Master of Ceremonies Kevin Newman will be joined by other special guests including General Rick Hillier, Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada, Margaret Atwood, General Richard Rohmer, Consuls General of France and the United States, Helen Vari, Chevalier de la Legion d'honneur of France, as well as currently serving members of the Canadian Forces, who will help celebrate the work of the Vimy Foundation and unveil architectural renderings for the new Vimy Visitor Education Centre, which will open in Vimy, France in 2017.

Those attending will be able to see a wide range of communications equipment and First World War vehicles on display, thanks to presenting sponsor Bell and Veterans Affairs Canada.

At Vimy Ridge, 99 years ago, 100,000 Canadians soldiers gathered for the first time as a united fighting force. Commanded in part by Canadian officers, they achieved the unachievable and took one of the most heavily defended German positions of the entire Western front. It is said by many historians that at Vimy Ridge Canada emerged from a colony to become a nation. It was not simply a battle – it was Canada's coming of age.

The Vimy Foundation is a registered charity founded in 2006. The mission of the Vimy Foundation is to preserve and promote Canada's First World War legacy as symbolized with the victory of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917 - a milestone when Canada earned its place on the world stage. To learn more, visit www.vimyfoundation.ca



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Re: History / Topics & Posted Articles

Post by Guest on Sat 02 Apr 2016, 16:54

Life and Times: Travel, teaching and activism filled long colourful life

Muriel Clarke once chained herself to a tree to stop the city from chopping it down and canoed down the Yukon’s Nahanni River when she was 80.

A physiotherapist for Canadian troops during the Second World War, she protested for environmental causes in her later years and was part of Veterans Against Nuclear Armaments.

Clarke, who died March 16 at age 99, shared a similar willingness to stand up for her beliefs as her father Fighting Joe Clarke, the former Edmonton mayor famed for his fist fight in council chambers when he was an alderman in 1914.

But Clarke, who worked most of her life as a teacher, was also influenced by her upper-crust British mother Gwendolyn, says lifelong neighbour Elizabeth Giroux.

“Muriel had some of those tendencies. I go to the same church as she went and she would be very upset with the children making a racket during the service,” Giroux says. “When we were at school, she was upset at kids wearing jeans. It had to be proper.”

Clarke, who never married, loved to travel — her 1937 University of Toronto physiotherapy yearbook citation says she spent her summer vacations as a camp leader “or seeing America in a Ford V-8. ”

She went overseas with the Canadian Army during the Second World War, treating injured soldiers in France and England. After she returned she went back to school.

She attended McGill University and then received a bachelor of education from the University of Alberta in the 1950s, becoming an Edmonton high school teacher.

Giroux, who took Grade 11 English and geography from Clarke at Eastglen High School in the mid-1960s, thinks the career change was motivated by a desire for holidays so she’d have more time to travel.

Although Clarke rarely talked about her war experiences, and could be reserved with people she didn’t know, she was also an engaging raconteur, Giroux says.

“Sometimes she would pick a very boring (classroom) topic. One of the boys would ask, ‘What did you see (travelling) in France?’, and she’d be off on one of her stories, forgetting what she was teaching. It would be very interesting.”

Jean Wells, who taught with Clarke at Queen Elizabeth high school in the 1970s, recalls her as a personable but private person.

“She was pretty near always standing at attention. She was proper, very much a professional teacher, friendly … a very honest, direct and dedicated colleague,” she says.

“The last time I saw her, she was 92 and she was really cross they wouldn’t renew her driver’s licence.”

She was unhappy that stories told about her father revolved more around his “fighting” reputation than his accomplishments during a total of nine years on city council between 1912 and 1937, Wells says. One of the highlights of his political career was travelling to Ottawa as mayor in the 1930s and convincing Prime Minister Mackenzie King, a high-school friend, to lease Edmonton the federal land on which Clarke Park and Commonwealth Stadium now stand.

After he died in 1941, his wife Gwendolyn was elected as a city councillor for two years.

Their daughter remained a lifelong Liberal.

She lived almost her entire life in the two-storey Jasper Avenue house Joe built about a century ago in the triangular Cromdale community overlooking the Kinnaird Ravine and the river valley. Books and maps of her trips to such places as India, the Philippines and China lined the walls.

Family friend Yvonne Brown said during Clarke’s memorial service this week that she could name and describe any plant in her extensive garden and sometimes set up a telescope so people could look at the moon.

As a Girl Guide leader, she once produced a live mouse for her troop so she could explain why the little animals were important.

When the city threatened to chop down a row of poplars across the street because they were infested with ants, Giroux says Clarke chained herself to a tree to protect them. They’re still standing.

She was riding her bicycle when she was 85, but her health started to deteriorate a few years later when she was knocked down by a mugger and broke her hip. At age 96, she reluctantly moved out of her home into the Kipnes Centre for Veterans.

Clarke outlived her sister Gwen, and her brother Bennie died in the Second World War. But she didn’t express regret at not having a family of her own, Giroux says.

“Her kids were the school kids, especially in the geography class.”



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Re: History / Topics & Posted Articles

Post by Guest on Mon 04 Apr 2016, 13:28

Canadian Military History Gateway



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Reflections from Cape Breton's Vimy Ridge veterans

Post by Guest on Thu 07 Apr 2016, 16:12

SYDNEY — In April of 1917, the Battle of Vimy Ridge cost almost 4,000 Canadians their lives.

The battle was a quintessential one for the Canadian forces, taking the location from the Germans.

Ninety-nine years later, no one remains to tell first-hand tales of the battle. However, their stories live on through news reports, letters, diaries and those who spoke with the men and women who were there — many of whom were from Cape Breton.

Ronald Caplan had the chance to talk to several Cape Breton veterans of the First World War during his time as editor and publisher of Cape Breton’s Magazine from 1972-1999.

“Those interviews, you couldn’t do them today,” Caplan said. “There’s no one to tell you, no one to talk to.”

In 2014, Caplan compiled his interviews into book form in "Cape Bretoners in the First World War: In Their Own Words," a book that also included letters, diaries and news reports from the war.

“Sometimes I think Cape Bretoners took Vimy Ridge,” Caplan said. “If they didn’t take it then they certainly led the charge.”

Of the dozens of veterans Caplan interviewed, there were only a select few he talked with who were at Vimy Ridge.

One of the veterans he talked with was Angus J. MacDonnell from Port Hood. MacDonnell was a lance-corporal drafted to the 73rd Highlanders and fought at Vimy Ridge.

“(We) were on the machine gun and we were lined up in the front line trench. Then came the signal. Then we headed for No Man’s Land,” MacDonnell said in an excerpt from Caplan’s book. “Then Hell opened up — our side fired everything they had ...When the Germans opened fire with everything they had, the roaring and cracking of the big guns, the sky lit up and it was worse than a severe thunderstorm”

While under fire from the Germans, MacDonnell was hit with a piece of shrapnel. He was left on a stretcher for a full night before being taken to a hospital the next morning, where he had an arm amputated.

“My stump was paining severely. The stitches gave way and the flesh dropped from the bone. My shoulder was so sore that I could not lie on it,” MacDonnell said. “The doctor got a long probe and started driving it back of my shoulder blade and it hit steel. This was a piece of shrapnel.”

In the book, Caplan also profiled one of Cape Breton’s heroes at Vimy Ridge who did not make it home from the war.

Percival W. Anderson was from Big Baddeck and a captain in the 85th battalion. Anderson led "C" Company during the Battle of Vimy Ridge and earned himself a Military Cross for carrying a wounded man back to safety while under fire.

“Captain Anderson was in the lead and although every officer and man around him had become casualties, he rushed up into the German stronghold,” said Lt. Colonel Joseph Hayes in an excerpt from Caplan’s book. “The first Hun officer he met he shot dead in his tracks, the next who was right close to him with hands up he ordered to remove his belt.”

“The German, who knew no English, did not understand and act quickly enough and Captain Anderson grabbed him, tore his belt off and nearly shook the life out of him with his powerful grasp.”

Anderson was made a major after Vimy, but died in the Battle of Passchendale.

Caplan said there is a misconception that veterans of the First World War did not want to share their stories because of the sheer brutality of the war.

“I’m not convinced they weren’t prepared to talk,” Caplan said. “We were afraid to hear some of the things they had to tell us.”

During his interviewing process, Caplan said the veterans were very open and talked at length with him. He said it was harder for him to hear their painful experiences than it was for them to relive them.

“In most cases they had a terrible experience,” Caplan said. “Although there were those who really relished it.”

Caplan said his visits could last for hours and many friendships grew from the interviews he conducted.

“They came home and they were Cape Bretoners again,” he said. “They were making hay and cutting wood and living their lives.”

Caplan hasn’t followed up by talking to veterans of the Second World War and Afghanistan, but has a lot of gratitude for the veterans who were able to talk with him.

Brian Tennyson, an emeritus history professor at CBU, is currently writing a book about Nova Scotians in the First World War.

He says the significance of the Battle of Vimy Ridge to the overall war effort is sometimes overstated, but it is much more significant to Canada for non-strategic reasons.

It marked the first time all four divisions of the Canadian corps fought together. Tennyson says there are many historians who question whether Vimy was when “Canada became a nation,” but from reviewing letters and diaries, he says it is clear the soldiers felt a sense of national unity.

“They had this sense that (the battle) was very special,” Tennyson said. “Not just that they won the battle, but because of Canada’s place as an emerging nation.”

The Battle of Vimy Ridge:

• The battle took place in France during the First World War.

• The battle began on April 9, 1917, which was Easter Monday.

• The combatants of the battle were four divisions of the Canadian Corps and six divisions of the German Corps.

• The Canadians won the battle on April 12, 1917, forcing the Germans to retreat.

• There were approximately 10,000 Canadian casualties during the battle, with almost 4,000 of those resulting in death.

• Vimy Ridge was the first time the entire Canadian corps participated in the same battle, although some were held on reserve.



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A history of fighters the Canadian army left behind - See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/book-review-a-history-of-fighters-the-canadian-army-left-behind-1.2233279#sthash.Zc4xcwn1.dpuf

Post by Guest on Mon 18 Apr 2016, 06:39

Unwanted Warriors: The Rejected Volunteers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force

By Nic Clarke

University of British Columbia Press, 256 pp., $29.95

Dave Obee

Times Colonist

It’s a forgotten chapter in the history of the First World War, a subject that did not get much attention even as the war was raging in Europe.

Not everyone who tried to enlist could be accepted for service. They might have had a strong desire to serve their country, but they did not have the physical condition required of a soldier, so they could not join the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Some persistent men tried several times before being accepted, or before giving up. Some made the cut locally, but were turfed out after they arrived in Valcartier, Quebec, Canada’s primary training base.

Those who were not welcome in the forces faced criticism and mockery at home. In some cases, when their physical shortcomings were not obvious, assumptions were made that they were simply slackers. To survive without harassment, they felt the need to band together.

A short article appeared in the Daily Colonist on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 1918, announcing plans for a local branch of a new organization, the Honorably Rejected Volunteers of Canada. A branch had already been established in Vancouver, the Colonist reported.

The Colonist report is a rare one; not much was said about the new association in other newspapers.

That is understandable, since the war was reaching a crucial stage, and the smell of victory was in the air. The newspapers were filled with stories of local soldiers being injured or killed, of them coming home or being moved to convalescent hospitals in England.

As the Colonist said, the goal of the association was “to draw together in a social way all male British subjects who have served or offered to serve the Empire from August 4, 1914, to August 10, 1917, and to promote the welfare and protect the common rights of all its members who have been honorably discharged or rejected from His Majesty’s forces through the Dominion of Canada, and shall be entirely independent of party politics.”

The new group vowed it would work closely with the Great War Veterans Association. Its organizers also tried to distance themselves from “the common slacker” who “has only himself to blame” for choosing not to enlist.

The establishment of the new group followed a report on employment opportunities after the armistice urged that “the man who stays at home in this crisis surrender some of his privileges as a citizen.”

The new group wanted to “stamp out this feeling from the public mind,” the Colonist said, and protect its members from “undue and unlimited discrimination with regard to employment.”

It is an interesting local angle to a national story, one that has been revealed by Nic Clarke, a historian at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

Clarke’s interest in the rejected volunteers was triggered by that short Colonist article, which he stumbled upon while researching politics in British Columbia.

At Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa, Clarke found records of 3,000 men who had been rejected at Valcartier in August and September, 1914. By the end of the war, more than 100,000 had been rejected.

Unwanted Warriors is the first book to examine the First World War medical examination, and it opens the door to a better understanding of different concepts of disabilities.

Some of the men were rejected because they had poor eyesight, while others had bad teeth, even if they were in excellent physical condition otherwise.

The young men of Canada faced incredible pressure to enlist in the expeditionary force, yet many were ostracized when their efforts to enlist failed.

Clarke’s book shines new light on a forgotten chapter of the First World War — not an easy thing to do, given the number of Great War books in print — and gives us a better understanding of men who became, despite their best efforts, victims at home.

It also should make us think again about disabilities. Able-bodied men who were willing to serve — and could do physical work for 10 hours a day — were not allowed into the expeditionary force. That should give us pause, even a century later.



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Civil rights advocates push for equality at Rights and Freedoms March in Vancouver

Post by Guest on Mon 18 Apr 2016, 06:44

On a sunny Saturday morning on False Creek, the famed Tuskegee Airmen, wearing bright red jackets mingled with Chinese Canadian veterans in navy blue. They joined locals who had gathered for the second annual Rights and Freedoms March in Vancouver.

Inspired by the civil rights movement in the U.S., the march is held to celebrate the anniversary of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. While Canada ranks as the second best country in the world for quality of life, issues like the suicide crisis on Ontario's Attawapiskat reserve and human trafficking are a grim reminder that not everyone has equal rights in Canada today.

"A lot of people don't know really the history here...particularly recent immigrants," said George Eng, wearing a badge for the Pacific Unit 280. Formed in 1947, Pacific Unit 280 is comprised of Chinese veterans who returned from World War II, only to be rejected from joining the Royal Canadian Legion.

"When World War II started, Chinese Canadians were not considered citizens. And yet, a lot of Chinese — 500 to 600 — volunteered to go fight for Canada. That's a history that can't be forgotten, because it's had a huge impact."

Eng explained that the war veterans, even upon return, then had to fight for their voting rights. For him, the Rights and Freedoms March is a way to commemorate the progress that has been made since then, but also to remember the deep inequality etched in Canada's laws less than 100 years ago.

Members of the Tuskegee Airmen, who had come to Canada for the march, had overcome near-impossible odds and systemic discrimination in the struggle for equal rights.

The original Tuskegee Airmen were African-American pilots, navigators and crew, who made history during World War II by disproving a popular belief (backed by official reports) that black people were unfit for flying an airplane. The Airmen took on dangerous missions such as escorting bombers and protecting them from enemy fire. They were praised by the Allies for their role, even as they faced extraordinary prejudice after fighting for their country.

"It's very important to remember this, because even in years prior, with the problems and issues we had — there's still a current of that today," said Michael Webb of the Tuskegee Airmen. "We have to eradicate all of that. Every man and woman should be equal."



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Remembering the battle of Kapyong

Post by Guest on Sat 23 Apr 2016, 06:12

In recent months, the Kim Jong-un regime in North Korea has been escalating tensions in Asia and around the world with its nuclear and missile testing and the rhetoric of raining death on the United States and its allies in the region.

Tragically, the regime’s dynastic heritage is replete with provocation toward South Korea, all while suppressing its own people who continue to be deprived of their basic needs, including fundamental rights and freedoms.

On March 2, the United Nations Security Council enacted new sanctions against the regime, imposing some of the strongest measures ever used to pressure the totalitarian state to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

Once again, Canada stands with the world in condemnation of North Korean activities.

Just as Canadians stood shoulder to shoulder with the world 65 years ago during the Korean War.

When North Korea invaded the South on June 25, 1950, supported by Russia and China, Canada heard the call from a far-away country most Canadians knew little about.

More than 26,000 Canadians from coast to coast to coast, and from every branch of service, played significant roles in many battles during the war, including the historic Battle of Kapyong (April 22-25, 1951).

The UN counter-offensive between February and April ’51 had been largely successful, with the U.S. Eighth Army pushing the communist forces north of the Han River.

But the North Korean and Chinese leadership had their own plans for the spring of ’51.

The First Chinese Spring Offensive envisioned the total destruction of the U.S. I and IX Corps above the Han, involving three Chinese army groups and three North Korean corps.

With the immediate objective of capturing Seoul, the offensive commenced on April 22 on two broad fronts, with the Chinese 40th Army given the mission of destroying the South Korean 6th Division while blocking any UN reinforcements toward the Imjin River at Kapyong.

The communist all-out attack at Kapyong Valley pushed the South Korean and New Zealand troops into retreat.

Under intense pressure, the Korean 6th Division broke, and the line collapsed.

Soldiers retreated through a gap under protective covering fire from Australians.

Elements of the 27th Commonwealth Brigade, specifically the Australian troops from 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR), and Canadian troops from 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (2 PPCLI) were ordered to halt the advance.

In only a few short hours, they managed to dig in on Hills 504 and 677 respectively.

The initial communist attacks at Kapyong engaged the Australians on Hill 504 on the evening of April 23 and throughout the day on the 24th.

Wave after wave of massed Chinese troops kept up the attack.

Having been nearly surrounded, the commander of the 3 RAR ordered a fighting withdrawal from Hill 504.

Now it was the Canadians’ turn, as the entirety of the Chinese 118th Division turned its attention to Hill 677.

At 10 p.m. on April 24, the 118th launched an assault on the Canadians’ right flank.

Throughout the evening the battle was unrelenting, often escalating into hand-to-hand combat with bayonet charges.

At some point during the early morning hours of April 25, 2 PPCLI was completely surrounded and Capt. Mills, in command of D Company, was forced to call down artillery fire on his own position at several times throughout the battle to avoid being overrun.

Being surrounded and now running short of ammunition and supplies, the Canadians resorted to resupply by air drops in order to continue the defence of Hill 677 rather than surrendering the position.

By dawn the communist forces’ attack on the Canadian position had ended, and in the afternoon of April 25, the road through to Hill 677 had been cleared of enemy soldiers, at which time the 2 PPCLI was relieved.

In stopping the Chinese and North Korean advance through the Kapyong Valley, Canada (and her Allied counterparts who fought) proudly earned the U.S. Presidential Citation for their valour.

Sadly, Korea remains divided to this day as we mark the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Kapyong on April 22 at the Canadian War Musuem in Ottawa.

Perhaps it’s symbolic that as the Ottawa ceremony takes place and a delegation of Canadian veterans invited by the South Korean government present scholarships to students of Kapyong during a commemorative program, the North Korean regime continues to make aggressive declarations to destabilize the peace on the Korean peninsula.

As was the case in ’51 and is the case today, Canada will stand against North Korean tyranny and aggression and will uphold the sanctions against the regime that would do so much harm in its naked pursuit of nuclear weapons technology.

Lest we forget.



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Victoria veterans mark 65th anniversary of Battle of Kapyong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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A multi-talented patriot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No matter; he sold insurance.

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Personal experiences of war

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

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

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

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

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

Remembering tragedy

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

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

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

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

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

Commemorating the Battle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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



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