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Re: History / Topics & Posted Articles

Post by Guest on Wed 27 Sep 2017, 07:10

Sudbury man preserves military history

By Sudbury Star Staff
Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Kevin McCormick, (right) president and vice-chancellor of Huntington University and Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel of the Irish Regiment of Canada, with Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan (centre) and Nickel Belt MPP Marc Serre

A part of Canada's military history has been preserved, thanks to a Sudbury educator.

Kevin McCormick, president and vice-chancellor of Huntington University and Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel of the Irish Regiment of Canada, which is based in Sudbury, presented a Memorial Cross to Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan during a ceremony in Ottawa on Tuesday.

"I am honoured to be in the nation's capital this morning to repatriate this incredibly important medal," McCormick said in a release. "It is critical that we both honour and preserve the sacrifices and selfless service made by the men and women of the Canadian armed Forces, who through their dedication, ensure the safety, security and freedoms of all Canadians."

The Memorial Cross belonged to a soldier who fought in the First World War and whose ultimate sacrifice is immortalized at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France.

The medal was returned as part of Project Honour and Preserve, an international initiative McCormick founded and financed.

McCormick was named a recipient of the 2016 Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation, in recognition of his ongoing support of the Canadian Military including his commitment to Project Honour and Preserve - an initiative he personally funded conceived in an effort to raise awareness of the sacrifices and contributions made by Canadian Veterans while bringing public attention to important dates in Canadian Military history.

Through Project Honour and Preserve, McCormick has personally purchased hundreds of historic artifacts that he has donated to groups such as museums, affiliated military units, veterans' associations, schools and veterans' families.

Captured in these collections is the distinguished military service of Canadian veterans from both world wars, all conflicts and peacekeeping missions, in addition to those awarded by foreign governments for contributions to freedom and humanity.

Other items donated include letters, journals, personal items and trench art belonging to Canadian veterans who served during many of our Nation's most iconic battles such as Dieppe, Vimy and Somme.

In 2013, in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World Ward, McCormick embarked on an 18-month journey, at his own expense, to make presentations across Canada to museums and Veterans' associations.

Privately and confidentially, he also repatriated countless items belonging to veterans and their respective families.

Behind the scenes he has located families and ensured, at no cost to them, that their family member's medals are returned and professionally preserved for future generations to honour.

Since that time, McCormick has expanded his dedicated efforts, to include repatriating objects that originate from the United States and United Kingdom.


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New Toronto museum offers a lens into the Second World War in Asia

Post by Guest on Thu 21 Sep 2017, 06:23

New Toronto museum offers a lens into the Second World War in Asia

The Asia Pacific Peace Museum and Education Centre will open in 2019, and organizers say it will be the first-of-its-kind in the world.

By VJOSA ISAIStaff Reporter
Wed., Sept. 20, 2017

On Jan. 18, 1944, two Canadians set a timed fire at Nippon Kokan shipyard in Japan, engulfing the yard in flames and sabotaging a crucial cog in the Japanese defence against submarine attacks.

Staff Sgt. Charles Clark and Cpl. Ken Cameron were among 2,000 Canadian troops captured as prisoners of war in the Battle of Hong Kong, during the Second World War. The duo had strategically timed the fire so that it would ignite after prisoners had left the yard and returned to camp.

“This one act made capturing Canadians the worst mistake the Japanese ever made,” said veteran George MacDonell, who was also prisoner of war at Nippon Kokan.

“People know nothing about it,” he said.

But organizers of a new museum in Toronto’s east end hope to change that.

The Asia Pacific Peace Museum and Education Centre, opening in 2019, will offer a comprehensive history of the Second World War in Asia.

“It will be the first museum of its kind in the world, with the objective of promoting understanding of the truth of history, reconciliation, and peace,” said Dr. Joseph Yu-Kai Wong.

Wong founded the Association for Learning and Preserving the History of WWII in Asia (ALPHA), in 1997 and has dreamed of creating a museum ever since.

The non-profit organization aims to educate younger generations on Asian history, and on how to “bring about reconciliation and peace so that these horrors will not be repeated in the future,” Wong said.

The museum will highlight atrocities committed during the Asia Pacific War by all sides, as well as Canada’s role in periods like the Battle of Hong Kong and the internment of Japanese-Canadians during the war.

Other galleries will include the Nanking Massacre, Unit 731 biological and chemical warfare, the atomic bombs and labour camps.

Wong hopes the museum will broaden the historical knowledge of community members, teachers and students, who he said have a Eurocentric view of the Second World War, with the Asia Pacific side often reduced to a handful of key moments.

“It is a very narrow perspective. For example they might know Pearl Harbor, they might know the atomic bombs, but they really don’t know the comprehensive war in Asia and the kind of carnage it has caused,” Wong said.

Keeping the history of the war alive is important for veterans like MacDonell. He believes Canadians aren’t aware of some of the incredible stories from Asia, like the shipyard sabotage.

“They should know about the courage and sacrifice of their soldiers in Asia, who fought for their country against impossible odds, and never surrendered.”

He and the remainder of the prisoners of war were relocated to a Japanese mine after the destruction of the shipyard, and freed once the Japanese emperor surrendered to Allied forces. Those who survived the battle were rescued by American troops in September 1945.

MacDonell has given talks on the Second World War at over 100 schools. He plans to be a patron at the new museum and even offer lectures.

Wong estimates about 4,000 students alone will visit the museum in its first full year of operation, and increase to 10,000 annually in a few years’ time.

“This aspect of (the Second World War) is missing from textbooks and teachers do not have the necessary resources or background,” Gerry Connelly, former director of education at the Toronto District School Board, said in an email.

She said the museum will offer resources online, allowing wide access to educators.

ALPHA has purchased a property at 1775 Lawrence Ave. E. to house the future museum. Once the sale closes at the end of September, organizers will get to work on filling about 10,000 square feet of exhibition space with artifacts and mementos.

The remainder of the museum, about 7,000 square feet, will be used to create a 130-seat lecture hall and a separate workspace for university researchers.

Admission to the new museum will be free, and Wong said he hopes visitors will be moved by ALPHA’s mission and contribute to maintaining the organization.

ALPHA is a registered charity, and 100 per cent of their funding comes primarily from individual donations in Toronto and Vancouver.


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Re: History / Topics & Posted Articles

Post by Teentitan on Sun 17 Sep 2017, 10:55

War bride and groom die within hours after 75 years of marriage

OTTAWA - They met in August 1941 in a suburb of wartime London, a bubbly English girl in a red dress and a tall Canadian soldier. George Spear would later recall that when he walked though the dance hall door and saw Jean sitting there, “That was it for me. I never let her out of my sight.”

He wore army boots, but he could dance, Jean said. “And his rhythm was perfect. So we didn’t dance with anyone else the whole evening,”

Three years ago, at a 72nd anniversary party in the backyard of their white brick bungalow on Aylen Avenue, George cut the cake with his wartime bayonet and played You Are My Sunshine on the harmonica. And they shared a long kiss.

The pair celebrated their 75th anniversary on Aug. 22. On Friday, they died in hospital within an hours of each other.

Jean, 94, had developed pneumonia and was admitted to the Queensway Carleton Hospital on Tuesday. George, 97, spoke to Jean by phone on Wednesday. The next day, he fell into a deep sleep and was also admitted to the hospital, where administrators tried to reunite the couple on the same floor. Before that could be arranged, Jean fell into a peaceful sleep and died at 4:30 a.m. on Friday, followed by George at 9:45 a.m.

“We tell stories to make ourselves feel better. But this defies any sort of logic. We were overwhelmed by the suddenness of it,” says their daughter, Heather Spear.

The Spears’ lives together were like a movie script. George was 21 and Canada’s youngest sergeant major with the 1st Corps Field Survey Co., Royal Canadian Engineers when they met and was later an intelligence officer. Jean was 18 when they met. She was a firefighter, an air raid warden and a corporal in the home Guard whose dreams of a career in journalism were dashed when the magazine she worked at as a secretary was bombed.

They were married in 1942 in Jean’s hometown of Kingston Upon Thames, Jean in a dress borrowed from the butcher’s daughter. One layer of the wedding cake made it from Canada. The other layer ended up in the north Atlantic.

“When you met a boy, you made the most of every moment because you just didn’t know when or if you’d meet again. There was a stimulation about it, a wonderful, wonderful excitement that is hard to describe and hard to understand if you weren’t there. The worry sharpened your senses,” Jean said in 2006.

George, who served in Italy and North Africa, headed back to Canada to work as a trainer and made arrangements with the Red Cross to have Jean brought to Canada in a naval convoy in 1944. It was an operation cloaked in the greatest secrecy. Jean got a call to be packed in an hour and meet a woman who would get her on a ship to Canada. She couldn’t even wave goodbye to her family.

Jean arrived in Ottawa in a snowstorm and was greeted by George. Almost immediately, she arranged a parcel-to-Londoners program, enlisting Canadian families to send food parcels to 100 East End Londoners. In 1945, she helped found the ESWIC (England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Canada) club for war brides. After the war, George worked as a surveyor and Jean for Simpsons-Sears as a staff trainer, eventually moving to Statistics Canada.

Daughter Heather was born in 1947, son Ian in 1950.

One of the biggest thrills of Jean’s life was being named a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 2006. She insisted that the honour was on behalf of all of Canada’s almost 50,000 war brides.

In 2011, the couple was invited to a private reception in honour of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. George showed Kate the 1942 photograph of Jean taken on their first date he had tucked inside the beret he wore as a soldier. Kate asked if he always kept the photo. “All through the war and ever since,” George replied.

The two complemented each other, say their children. Jean loved talk and parties. George, who called himself a “war groom,” was quiet and outdoorsy. Jean bought the hobby farm near Smiths Falls that the family called The Manor for George, but came to love it as much as he did.

“There was a respect for each other’s interests. Each recognized that the other needed those interests to make them happy,” says Ian Spear.

“We laugh a little about it because she was the stronger of the two about what she wanted to do or not do,” says Heather. “She was a force to be reckoned with.”

That included purchasing a plot at Beechwood Cemetery and a headstone. On Jean’s side: Beloved wife and war bride. On George’s side: Royal Canadian engineer.

Jean herself once explained their recipe for happiness in an interview. “I realized when we met that we were on to a good thing. When we got married, we thought we were in heaven. Throughout our lives, the ups and downs, we know that together we are a good thing. We recognize it and have never failed to acknowledge it.”

The family is still organizing a party to celebrate their lives. “I think we’ll have one more Spear party,” says Heather.
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A Vietnam War deserter crosses the line into Canada

Post by Guest on Sat 16 Sep 2017, 17:08

A Vietnam War deserter crosses the line into Canada

September 16, 2017

On Jan. 4, 1970, Jack Todd crossed the border at White Rock, B.C., one of the thousands of young Americans who fled to Canada to avoid serving in the U.S. army during the Vietnam War. Twenty-five years later, he looked back on that long political and emotional journey. This article was originally published in the Montreal Gazette on Jan. 7, 1995.

The nightmare was always the same.

It would begin as a pleasant dream. I would be back in Nebraska, playing basketball with my buddies or fixing fence on the ranch. Then, a warning bell would go off: I was not supposed to be there.

The dream would turn into a nightmare, an endless run to the Canadian border, pursued by sheriffs and dogs across rivers and through barbed-wire barriers. Sometimes, I arrived, breathless and terrified, but safe in Canada. Sometimes, they caught me.

Now dream and memory meet and mingle, and the nightmare seems almost as real as that last long run up the Pacific coast at the end of the ’60s, with one life fading in the rearview mirror, another shimmering in the distance.

It doesn’t seem possible, but last Wednesday, Jan. 4, marked the anniversary of that run: it has been 25 years since I crossed the border at White Rock, B.C., one of the thousands of young Americans who fled to Canada in the late ’60s and early ’70s to avoid serving in Vietnam.

I’m Canadian now, and not just because my passport says so. But there was another man back there, on the other side of a fault line I can never cross again: a young American soldier who, like so many others, had to make an almost impossible choice.

A lot was written about us at one time. Most of it was wrong. We were called war resisters by those who wanted to help us, draft dodgers and deserters and cowards by those who believed we could halt communism by machine-gunning peasants in the rice paddies of Vietnam.

We were neither heroes nor cowards. We were simply young men who didn’t believe in the war, and because we didn’t we were faced with an awful choice: act on our beliefs and go to Canada or jail, or take the line of least resistance and go to Vietnam.

My decision to leave was the end of a long political and emotional journey, one among tens of thousands. I could tell someone else’s story — but this is the one I know best.

A young Jack Todd (right) at basketball camp in Colorado. “At one time,” he writes, “there was nothing I wanted more than to fight in Vietnam.”

You could almost say that I was born to be a soldier. I grew up in conservative western Nebraska. My father was a veteran of World War I. My older brother fought in Korea. A dozen cousins and uncles saw combat in World War II.

At one time there was nothing I wanted more than to fight in Vietnam. At university I volunteered for officer training in the U.S. Marine Corps and spent two hellish summers at Quantico, Va., before receiving a discharge in 1967 because of chronic knee problems.

In the fall of 1967, with anti-war protests reaching the hinterland at the University of Nebraska, my attitude to the war began to change. By the fall of 1968, I was helping to organize the protests.

I thought the Marine Corps discharge made me draft-proof, but in the summer of 1969, I was working for the Miami Herald when I was reclassified 1-A — eligible for the draft. I received my draft notice in October and left Miami on Halloween to spend a couple of weeks at home in Nebraska before reporting for induction in Denver on Nov. 13, 1969.

I spent most of those two weeks back home hanging out with my oldest childhood friend, Sonny Walter. Sonny had just returned from Vietnam. The night before I left he brought out a thick stack of photos from Vietnam to try to persuade me to go to Canada.

Sonny had served most of his tour as a perimeter guard at a helicopter base. Some of his photos were of men in his unit proudly displaying the severed heads of Viet Cong killed by shotgun blasts in a night assault on the barbed wire around the base.

I looked at the pictures and listened to Sonny, but I wasn’t ready for Canada.

After induction in Denver, I was ordered to basic training at Fort Lewis, Wash. Fort Lewis was a monster army base, one of two main staging areas for Vietnam with more than 130,000 men stationed there in late 1969.

Basic training in the U.S. army could hardly have been more bizarre by that time. The army was as lazy and loose as the Marine Corps had been tight and tough. We didn’t want to be there and the army didn’t seem to know what to do with us. One day it would be all spit and polish and endless push-ups in the driving rain; then we would go for a week at a time with no physical training at all.

The outside world went on without us. We heard that Apollo 13 ran into problems on the way to the moon and might crash into the sun; we didn’t know that the Woodstock generation had crashed and burned when the Hell’s Angels ran amok at Altamont.

It rained constantly, a cold rain that sometimes made our fingers so stiff on the rifle range that we used our hands like clubs to pound cartridges into our rifle clips.

It was almost as if the rain was washing away our platoon. By Christmas leave, which came seven weeks into basic training, we had lost 14 men out of our 50-man group. Two were caught hitchhiking on the road to Seattle and brought back in handcuffs; the rest disappeared without a trace.

But even Fort Lewis had its moments. Shortly after dawn every morning, we marched out two or three miles in the direction of Mt. Rainier. On the rare day when it wasn’t raining, the majestic, snow- capped peak gleamed in the sunshine while our drill sergeant, Sgt. James, counted a bluesy cadence that made marching a little like dancing to Otis Redding:

“Yo’ lay-eft, ri-ight, lay-eft, yo lef’, ri’ lef . . . gimme yo’ LEF yo right yo LEF yo right yo lay-eft ri-ight lef. . . .”

American students and veterans march against the policies of president Richard Nixon’s administration.

Some of us would go to Canada and some would come home from Vietnam in body bags — but as Sgt. James counted cadence we would boogie into the sunrise, our world as clean and bright and simple as left, right, left.

Most of the men in my platoon were bone-dumb rednecks from Texas or tough inner-city blacks who kept to themselves, but I found a friend in a private named Bill Reedy, a burly karate black belt from Seattle who was attached to our platoon even though he never had to carry a rifle because he was applying for discharge as a conscientious objector.

Reedy began dropping by the supply room, where I volunteered to lose a night’s sleep over and over again just to get out of the barracks. While I cradled a loaded M-16 in my lap with orders to shoot anyone who tried to make off with the hand grenades, we talked about Andrei Sakharov and Henry David Thoreau, about war and peace and civil disobedience.

Reedy urged me either to file for conscientious objector status or to desert. At first, I resisted. I did not want to turn my back on my country no matter what. I had what I felt was the beginning of a great career at the Miami Herald and I didn’t want to ruin my own future. And my girlfriend was a Cuban woman in Miami who had never seen snow and would not go to Canada under any circumstances.

But though it took a while, those long talks in the supply room helped complete a process that had begun two years before when I began to understand how wrong the war really was. My own observations did the rest.

After one long, muddy march I made a left turn to the bathroom when we returned to the barracks. The image I saw in the mirror was frightening: a huge soldier in full combat gear stared back at me, an M-16 hung over one shoulder, two bandoliers of ammunition crisscrossing his chest, his helmet turned back at a jaunty angle, a Marlboro dangling from his lip. Somewhere in there was a man who hated the war, but he was getting harder to find with every passing day.

Screaming ‘kill’ at the top of our lungs

Then, a couple of weeks before Christmas, we spent an entire morning at bayonet practice, charging at dummies again and again, screaming “kill!” at the top of our lungs while we disemboweled a phantom enemy.

On the way back to the barracks, we could hear the bells on the base chapel tolling a Christmas carol: “Peace on Earth, good will to men. …” For me, it was the beginning of the end.

The last Sunday before Christmas in 1969, I called my girlfriend in Miami to confirm that I would be setting out from the base on leave the following Thursday and that I would be in Miami on Friday. It turned into a Dear John phone call. That was it. I had no reason to go to Miami and no reason to stay in the army.

Reedy and I took a long walk on the parade ground that afternoon, and I decided I wasn’t coming back from Christmas leave. Reedy convinced me that anti-war organizations in Canada would help me live underground. The plan was to spend my leave at his girlfriend’s apartment in Seattle, after which we would drive to Vancouver.

While waiting for the buses to Seattle, we were spotted by a drill sergeant who had often pulled me off the rifle range because, unlike the average army clerk, I could actually type. “Hey,” he said. “You guys going to Seattle? Why don’t you ride with me?”

Within two minutes we were in his ’59 Chevy, a Led Zeppelin eight-track booming over his sound system as we flew into Seattle at 100 miles per hour.

The sergeant took us directly to a warehouse where the wildest party I had ever seen was in full careen. There were at least 200 people there, most of them hippies, drinking, dancing nude, smoking dope and openly having sex on couches all around us. Reedy and I, exhausted by basic training, responded to the sensory overload by having a couple of drinks and falling sound asleep on the concrete floor.

At around 4 a.m., the sergeant shook me awake. He explained that his sister was a paraplegic and that she had to get her Lincoln from Seattle to San Diego, but that she couldn’t drive the car for more than an hour at a time. Since I wasn’t doing anything special with my Christmas leave, would I mind driving her to California?

Jack Todd, right, with an unidentified friend he made at a basketball camp during high school. Todd arrived in Vancouver in January 1970 and eventually drifted to Montreal.

Two hours later, I was out on the Pacific coast highway in the big Lincoln, reworking my plans. If I was going to live underground anyway, I figured, it might as well be in a warm country. Instead of going to Canada I would go to Mexico. I left the sergeant’s sister and her Lincoln in San Diego, then crossed the border at Tijuana.

It all seemed terrifically romantic. I would live in Mexico like Malcolm Lowry or Graham Greene, do a little journalism for someone and write great novels. A couple of days into the great Mexican adventure, however, I blundered into a woman who worked for a draft resistance committee in Berkley. She told me that Pierre Trudeau had changed the rules and that deserters as well as draft dodgers could legally enter Canada. My choice now was to live underground in Mexico or legally as a landed immigrant in Canada. I left the next day and hitchhiked back to Seattle.

Somewhere south of Los Angeles, two California highway patrolmen stopped me. I showed them my leave papers from Fort Lewis and said I was trying to get back to the base. They gave me a lift for about 20 miles and saluted when I got out. “Hey, man,” one of them said before they drove away, “kill a few gooks for us.”

Back in Seattle on New Year’s Day, 1970, I had to face the hardest part of the whole thing. I phoned my mother in Nebraska and told her I was going to Canada.

Early on Jan. 4, 1970 — a foggy Sunday in Seattle — I hopped in Reedy’s white Mustang for the run to Vancouver. It was a beautiful morning in the mountains once the sun broke through the fog to gleam off patches of snow.

Reedy took me to the West Hotel, just off Hastings St. on Vancouver’s Skid Row. I handed the desk clerk a twenty to pay the $14 rent for one room for one week. When he handed me back a couple of pink bills, I looked around in panic. I was so unprepared for Canada that I thought the currency would be the same.

I had spent months agonizing over whether to go to Canada and no time at all finding out what Canada was like. The next month was like that: a series of mild culture shocks, the bizarre sense of living in exile in a city an hour’s drive from a border you’re no longer allowed to cross.

Later that first week, I applied for a job at the Vancouver Sun. City editor Pat Nagle, now a Southam correspondent, knew my old city editor in Miami. After one phone call, I was hired.

It took another month to get my landed-immigrant status. Like most draft dodgers and deserters, I had to first re-enter the U.S. with fake ID, then return to the Canadian border with my own identification as if I was entering the country for the first time.

For some reason, the American border guard came to the passenger side to question me instead of questioning the Canadian driver. We had been told that we faced five years in Leavenworth federal prison if we were caught, and I was so terrified that my voice broke with every answer — but he waved us through.

I worked one week at the Vancouver Sun — and then the paper went out on strike.

I took a job as a night clerk at the West Hotel, helping to break up fights between drunken lumberjacks and native women. And I started doing volunteer work for the Vancouver Committee to Aid War Resisters, helping Volkswagen-loads of draft dodgers and the occasional frightened deserter like myself get settled in Canada.

That spring, what had been a slow, steady trickle since 1967 turned into a flood. After four students were shot and killed by the National Guard at Kent State in May, the Vancouver committee was processing 100 or more draft dodgers and deserters every week.

Making a brave new world

It would be impossible to sketch a typical “war resister.” Some were wealthy, educated trust-fund babies from prestige universities such as Harvard and Stanford. Others were flower children who arrived in gaudily painted Volkswagen Beetles.

Still others were young high-school dropouts who had been snapped up in the draft, gotten in some kind of trouble, and decided that Canada was better than jail. Some of them were — or claimed to be — Vietnam veterans. More than a few were definitely crazy, whether they had been to Vietnam or not.

It was a heady time. We were high on free love and music and revolution, certain that we were making a brave new world. The Sun began publishing again in May and I went back to work, but the constraints of a regular job didn’t fit with this brave new lifestyle.

In August, while covering a demonstration on English Bay for the Sun, I met Claudette Guillemette, a young woman from Victoriaville who was going to school in Trois-Rivičres. I had just scribbled her phone number down when Vancouver police attacked the demonstrators; while taking notes I was clubbed to the sidewalk and dragged off to jail.

After Nagle bailed me out at 3 a.m., I went back to the Sun to write what I thought was a prize-winning story. When the night city editor told me to write a couple of paragraphs to insert in another reporter’s story, I quit on the spot and called Claudette. A week later, we were hitchhiking to Trois-Rivičres together.

It was more than a year before I returned to Vancouver. When I did, the scene around the Vancouver committee had fragmented into warring groups of Trotskyites, Leninites, Maoists, yippies, budding yuppies and committed dopers. The charm was gone. Already, some were giving up on Canada and filtering back to the U.S. Many more were to return in the various amnesties the U.S. offered in the mid-’70s.

No one really knows how many “war resisters” came to Canada in the first place, and no one knows how many stayed. Estimates of those who arrived between 1965 and 1975 vary from as few as 10,000 to as many as 200,000, depending on who is doing the counting, though the figure most often used is between 100,000 and 120,000. Organizers who worked for the Montreal committee on Amherst St. estimate that about 10,000 draft dodgers and deserters came to Montreal alone.

Jack Todd with son Jesse in Nebraska in December 1977, a decade after he deserted from the U.S. Army at Fort Lewis, Wash.

Historically, the fact that roughly 100,000 young American men chose Canada rather than fighting in a war they didn’t believe in rates little more than a footnote. The military machine never had trouble finding young men to tramp through the rice paddies, nor did our departures put an end to the dying.

And that is the story, except for one footnote. Somehow, I’ve always seen it not as my story but as the story of three Nebraska kids — myself, my friend Sonny Walter and a neighbourhood boy we called Big Billy.

From the time we were 8 or 9 until our early teens, Sonny and Billy and I were always together. Billy was three years older than us but had flunked a grade or two. He was so slow that we were still tying his shoes for him when he was 15 years old.

We hunted with .22s and played war games in the woods along the North Platte River, sometimes with loaded rifles in our hands. Billy was too slow in every way to keep up with us, but he loved the games.

In the summer of 1971, I found a letter from my mother in the mailbox. I took the letter with me up to Mount Royal, found a comfortable spot, and sat down to read.

A clipping from our hometown paper fell out. Somehow, Billy had made it into the army. Somehow, he had made sergeant. And somehow, Billy had been killed in action in Vietnam.

It’s been a quarter-century since I crossed the border, nearly two decades since Saigon “fell.” Billy died in Vietnam. Sonny’s hair turned pure white a year after he showed me the pictures, and he ended up having to kick a heroin habit. I was the lucky one. I bounced aimlessly from Montreal to Vancouver and back for years, looking for a way to start over and not finding it, dreaming of sheriffs and dogs and barbed wire and the long run to Canada.

Twenty-five years has passed, and none of it makes a bit more sense today than it did in the summer of 1971, when I sat in the sunshine on Mount Royal weeping for a dead friend.


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Former Progress editor, city alderman and soldier remembered 100 years later

Post by Guest on Tue 12 Sep 2017, 15:56

The grave site of Thomas Caskey in Seaford Cemetery in the UK. Caskey was once a prominent figure in Chilliwack as an editor of the Chilliwack Progress, a city alderman, and eventually a serviceman. (Kevin Gordon photo)
Former Progress editor, city alderman and soldier remembered 100 years later

Thomas Caskey’s remains rest in Sussex, UK, where he died during First World War

JESSICA PETERS Tue Sep 12th, 2017

This past weekend marked the 100th anniversary of the death of a former Progress editor, Canadian soldier, and former alderman.

Thomas Caskey passed away on Sept. 9, 1917 and is buried in Sussex, UK. The following story came from Kevin Gordon, a trustee at the Seaford Museum. Seaford Cemetary has more than 300 war graves, including Caskey’s.

Gordon shared this story via email with The Progress to memoralize Caskey 100 years later.

Thomas Edward Caskey was born on Oct. 21, 1874, in Ontario, the son of James and Deborah Caskey. The family had Irish roots.

He married Rebecca Carleton at Kincardine, Ont. on Valentine’s Day 1901. He spent some time working as a farmer in Ontario but in 1906 the couple settled in Kipp Avenue in Chilliwack. Caskey saw service in the 32nd Regiment. (This was a local militia known as the ‘Bruce Regiment’). He was also a journalist and in early 1914 became the editor of the local newspaper, the Chilliwack Progress. Whilst the editor, he co-ordinated a fund to raise $1,000 to buy a machine gun for the Canadian Army. Caskey was also active in local politics and became an alderman on the first Chilliwack City Council when it was established in 1908.

Soon after the start of the war, on Nov. 11, 1914, Caskey joined the army (the 82nd battalion) at Vancouver. He was 40 years old and his army record shows that he was fit but grey-haired. He qualified as a 1st Class Instructor and trained soldiers in musketry and using the Lewis machine gun. He travelled to England but was disappointed that he was not sent to France but posted to Shorncliffe Barracks at Folkestone as a machine gun trainer. He soon rose to the rank of Major and his wife Rebecca came over to England to be with him.

On March 9, 1916, he was posted to France but the tour was short-lived as he contracted appendicitis. It is clear that Major Caskey had several medical problems. After he had his appendix removed he was attached to the 30th Battalion and in late 1916 was attached to the 29th (Vancouver) Battalion in Seaford. He had continued medical problems. After a major mastoid operation on June 2, 1916 he left Seaford to attend several hospitals including the Westcliffe Eye Hospital and the Ear Hospital in Folkestone. He also was in a hospital in London before being transferred to the Red Cross Hospital for Officers (now the the Princess Louise Children’s Hospital) in Dyke Road, Brighton.

He died in of acute nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys) at Brighton on Sept. 9, 1917 (note: The Progress archives show the front page that week listed Caskey and numerous other Chilliwack men as lost in the war). Caskey was buried at Seaford Cemetery and his grave was marked with a white marble cross. He is remembered on the Chilliwack War Memorial. A house (now a listed building) in Chilliwack is named after him.

To learn more about Thomas Caskey and other war veterans from Chilliwack, visit our archives online at

The front page of The Chilliwack Progress on Sept. 13, 1917, announced the loss of Caskey and several others as the war raged on. (Image from Progress online archives)


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Statue in Carleton to honour Roy Brown; council approves $12,500 seed money

Post by Guest on Tue 12 Sep 2017, 15:39

Statue in Carleton to honour Roy Brown; council approves $12,500 seed money

Sep 11, 2017 By Tara Gesner

Capt. Arthur Roy Brown is the First World War flying ace officially credited with shooting down German fighter pilot Manfred von Richthofen, also known as the Red Baron, in the skies over war-torn France on April 21, 1918. Brown was born in Carleton Place. The Roy Brown Society is currently working on the establishment of a statue of Brown. - File photo

The Roy Brown Society in Carleton Place is dedicated to researching, preserving and telling the story of Capt. Arthur Roy Brown.

Brown, a First World War flying ace, is officially credited with shooting down German fighter pilot Manfred von Richthofen, also known as the Red Baron, in the skies over war-torn France on April 21, 1918. Brown was born in Carleton Place.

Currently, the Roy Brown Society is working on the establishment of a statue of Brown, which would be placed in the municipality’s downtown core on the north side of the historic Moore House. The Moore House, the location of the Carleton Place & District Chamber of Commerce and Information Centre, accommodates an exhibit dedicated to Brown.

On Sept. 5, during the physical environment meeting, council members carried a motion brought forward by Deputy Mayor Jerry Flynn and moved by Coun. Sean Redmond to reallocate the balance of the town’s mural fund — $12,500 — to get the statue project off the ground.

Flynn is a co-founder of the Roy Brown Society.

“We did not do a mural this year, and we have $12,500 in the fund,” the deputy mayor explained. “If it is council’s will, I would like to channel this money to the Roy Brown statue project.”

Flynn spearheaded the commissioning of murals in Carleton Place, beginning a few years ago. Former Ottawa-based artist Shaun McInnis has completed a number of the murals in town: Capt. Arthur Roy Brown, Mississippi Mudds, Stompin’ Tom Connors, Carleton Place & District Chamber of Commerce — 100 years, Wandering Wayne, Natural Pet Foods and the last train to Carleton Place.

On Tuesday night, Flynn noted the $12,500 would be used “to get things off the ground, to draw on as needed.”

Helping the Roy Brown Society with the statue initiative is Perth native and Carleton Place resident Todd Boyce. If Boyce’s name sounds familiar, it should. He raised thousands of dollars a few years ago, which allowed for a statue to be erected in memory of five-year-old Jeffrey Baldwin. Located in Greenwood Park in Toronto, the monument famously depicts Baldwin wearing a Superman costume. The youngster died in 2002 in the care of his grandmother. Kept in a cold room, he wasted away to only 21 pounds.

The Roy Brown Society has been approved for a matching federal contribution grant from the Commemorative Partnership Program, offered by way of Veterans Affairs Canada. The grant is for up to $50,000 of the project costs.


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Author shines light on war hero

Post by Guest on Mon 11 Sep 2017, 07:30

Author shines light on war hero
Ron Seymour Sep 10, 2017

Michel Gravel

The role played by a Kelowna soldier in the capture of 80 Germans is one of the most remarkable if little-known stories of the First World War, an Ottawa author says.

Pte. Charles Creighton Graham was one of only six Canadians who managed to round up dozens of German prisoners from the French village of Blecourt on Sept. 29, 1918.

For his heroic actions, Graham was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

“He did a very courageous thing, and participated in one of the most interesting anecdotes to come out of the First World War,” Michel Gravel said Sunday.

“You wonder, how could just six men take so many Germans prisoner?” said Gravel, who is writing a book on the episode. “It’s quite remarkable.”

Despite his research, Gravel has been unable to find out much about what happened to Graham after the war, other than the fact he died at a veterans’ hospital in Vancouver in 1966.

“I’m hoping some of your readers will recognize the name, or even be related to him,” Gravel said. “If I can make that connection, I could add more detail to Graham’s story in my book.”

The official citation for Graham’s medal says he set a “splendid example of dash, coolness and initiative” during the small party’s raid on Blecourt. Graham used his Lewis gun to control the town square while his comrades rounded up the Germans.

“This little party, incredibly, captured the village,” Daniel Dancocks writes in his book, Spearhead to Victory.

“In the process, they rounded up at least 150 prisoners, although many of these later escaped when they realized how few Canadians were holding them captive,” Dancocks writes.

By the time Graham and the others returned to the Canadian lines, they were still in command of about 80 prisoners.

Gravel, who has visited the French village where the episode took place, says there’s a movement in the community to rename the town square in honour of the Canadians.

Anyone who may have information about the life of Charles Creighton Graham can phone Michel Gravel at 613-796-5882.


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Battle of Britain veterans remembered

Post by Guest on Mon 11 Sep 2017, 07:18

Battle of Britain veterans remembered

By Neil Bowen, Sarnia Observer
Sunday, September 10, 2017

Battle of Britain veterans remembered

Ceremony held at Germain Park memorial


The Observer

Rows of young military cadets stood at attention as a man with some wisps of white hair sat on a bench in Germain Park, one of the few remaining Second World War air force veterans.

They had all gathered Sunday for the Battle of Britain memorial ceremony in the park. Goodhew, 92, was among the young men defending the world from the Nazi regime in the 1940s.

Reminiscent of their spirit Goodhew was guided from the memorial site and said with a big smile “so far, so good.”

In 1940 Winston Churchill, the wartime British prime minister, described those warding off the threat of invasion of Britain by the Nazis. Churchill said in a famous wartime speech, never has no much been owed by so many to so few.

On Sunday Shirley Kelly of the Royal Canadian Air Force Association said there are not many left from that era but they must all be remembered.

In his comments during the ceremony Deacon Charles Stevens said during the Battle of Britain in July, August and September of 1940 there were 2,000 Allied casualties but 90,000 civilian casualties.

The Nazi plan was to gain control of the skies over Britain in preparation for a land invasion. Nazi bombers worked to destroy British airfields, aircraft production and terrorize civilians. It did not work due to a valiant effort by the defenders.

Canadians served during the Battle of Britain.

“They fought for King and County, They made us what we are today, a country,” said RCAF Association president John Stewart during the ceremony.

Stewart spoke from the podium where a plaque lists the names of Sarnia men serving with the air force who died during the Second World War.

The memorial represents all the young eagles who served, said Stewart.


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Konowal Walk opens at WWI memorial in France

Post by Guest on Fri 08 Sep 2017, 17:41

Konowal Walk opens at WWI memorial in France

By Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association Sept 08, 2017

LOOS-EN-GOHELLE, France – Hundreds of people from France and a sizeable delegation of Ukrainians from the diaspora attended the public unveiling of the Battle of Hill 70 Memorial at Loos-en-Gohelle, France, on August 22.

Included in the ceremony was the official opening of the Konowal Walk. Cpl. Filip Konowal’s valor 100 years ago at the Battle of Hill 70 (August 22, 1917) was recognized with the highest medal of the British Empire, the Victoria Cross. He was the only Ukrainian ever so distinguished.

The trilingual plaque honoring Cpl. Filip Konowal, recipient of the Victoria Cross.

The naming of the central pathway at the Hill 70 memorial after Konowal was made possible through the generosity of the Temerty Family Foundation, the Ihnatowycz Family Foundation, the Petro Jacyk Education Foundation, the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Foundation, Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund, Ukrainian Canadian Veterans Fund, Shevchenko Foundation and other Ukrainian Canadian organizations and individuals, with the support of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain.

Prof. Lubomyr Luciuk, chairman of the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Foundation, commented: “This is a very fitting tribute to a Canadian hero, 100 years to the day on which his valor in a fierce battle won him the Victoria Cross. Almost two decades ago the chairman of Branch 360 of The Royal Canadian Legion, the late John B. Gregorovich, initiated our community’s efforts to honor Cpl. Konowal, the honorary patron of that branch. Being here today to see John’s vision finally realized, on the site where Konowal fought so bravely, is a privilege. This Ukrainian Canadian hero will now always be remembered.”


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Canadians killed in historic First World War battle buried with honours in France

Post by Guest on Fri 25 Aug 2017, 06:28

Canadians killed in historic First World War battle buried with honours in France



OTTAWA — The remains of two soldiers who died in a historic battle for Canada during the First World War have been buried in France.

Pte. Reginald Joseph Winfield Johnston from Manitoba and Sgt. Harold Wilfred Shaughnessy of New Brunswick died during the Battle of Hill 70 in August 1917.

The Canadian Armed Forces says Hill 70 was the first major action fought by the Canadian Corps under a Canadian commander during the war, and more than half of the 2,100 Canadians who died over the 10-day battle have no graves.

Both sets of remains were discovered during munitions clearing in advance of a construction project near a French village.

Johnston and Shaughnessy were buried with military honours by their units in Loos British Cemetery.

The families of the soldiers were present, with the support of Veterans Affairs Canada.

“Today we pay tribute to Pte. Johnston and Sgt. Shaughnessy, two among the many Canadians who gave everything they had so that we might emerge victorious from the First World War. We give thanks to our international partners who made today’s events possible,” Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said in a news release Thursday.

Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr said the Battle of Hill 70 was an effort to divert German forces from the Battle of Passchendaele. The strategic high point of Hill 70 remained in Allied hands until the end of the war.

Johnston was born in Springfield, Man, in 1895. The family moved to Fairford, Man., when he was an infant and he was a homesteader until he enlisted in Winnipeg in 1916 at the age of 20.

He was a member of the 16th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, a unit perpetuated by The Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary’s) of Victoria, B.C. He died on August 15 or 16, 1917, at the age of 22.

Shaughnessy was born in St. Stephen, N.B., in 1884 and was a stenographer before enlisting in Montreal on August 4, 1915, at the age of 31.

He was a member of the 13th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, a unit perpetuated by The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Montreal. He died on August 15, 1917, at the age of 33.

After the remains were found, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission took possession of them and they were later identified by Defence Department’s casualty identification program.

“One hundred years later, these soldiers have finally been given the dignity and respect of a military burial in a Commonwealth cemetery, where all who pass by will note their personal sacrifice,” Brig.-Gen. (Ret.) David Kettle, secretary general of the Canadian Agency of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, said in the release.


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Re: History / Topics & Posted Articles

Post by Nemo on Thu 24 Aug 2017, 14:56

Yeah, I can't imagine going inside a modern day sub and submerging much less in this era. Hats off to those that are submariners - a special breed.
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Scientists uncover what killed crew of Civil War sub H.L. Hunley

Post by Loader on Thu 24 Aug 2017, 08:25

Crew of first sub to sink a ship were killed by fatal injuries from their own torpedo, study finds

CBC News  Posted: Aug 23, 2017 3:44 PM ET| Last Updated: Aug 24, 2017 8:04 AM ET

On Feb. 17, 1864, during the American Civil War, the 12-metre long Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley made history when its torpedo
took down the 1,100-tonne Union ship USS Housatonic outside Charleston Harbor, S.C. (Randall Hill/Reuters)

Scientists have solved a longstanding mystery about the first submarine ever to sink an enemy ship — what killed the sub's own crew.

On Feb. 17, 1864, during the American Civil War, the 12-metre long Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley made history when its torpedo took down the 1,100-tonne Union ship USS Housatonic outside Charleston Harbor, S.C.

The Hunley itself later sank, with its crew of eight aboard.

According to research led by Rachel Lance, who studied the incident during her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at Duke University, the crew were killed by massive lung and brain injuries caused indirectly by their own torpedo. Lance, who graduated in 2016, published the findings Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE.

The sunken submarine was found in 1995 and raised from the bottom in 2000. Mysteriously, the skeletons of all eight of the crew were all still at their stations, with no broken bones, and the sub was in very good condition, Lance reports.

The sunken submarine was found in 1995 and raised from the bottom in 2000. It had been undamaged by the blast and the crew's skeletons
were still at their stations. (Bruce Smith/Associated Press)

There were some holes in the hull that were the result of time under the sea. But there was no actual damage found to have happened from the blast itself," she said in an interview with Duke University.

The exit hatches were closed and the bilge pumps that would have been used if the sub started to take on water were not set to pump, suggesting that the crew never tried to save themselves as the sub sank.

Still, some scientists had proposed that the crew may have suffocated or drowned.

Recreating the blast

Lance solved the mystery by creating a 2-metre-long scale model made of mild steel, fitting it with sensors, and setting off a series of blasts intended to recreate the torpedo explosion.

Unlike a modern-day torpedo, the Hunley's weapon couldn't be fired into the water and away from the sub. Instead, it was a copper keg of gunpowder attached in front of the sub by a short pole called a spar that was rammed into the enemy ship by the advancing sub, with the crew inside.

"Their spar was only 16 feet long, so they were actually very close to the 135 pound charge, especially since the spar was at a downward angle," Lance said.

The sub's torpedo was a copper keg of gunpowder attached in front of the sub by a short pole called a spar that was rammed into the enemy ship
by the advancing sub, not far from the crew inside the sub's hull. (Lance et al.)

When the charge exploded, the blast would have caused the submarine's hull to transmit a powerful, secondary shock wave into the submarine, crushing their lungs and brain and killing them instantly. Lance calculated that each crew member had only a 15 per cent chance of survival from the blast.

In fact, there was no indication that any of them survived.

In the end, the crew of the USS Housatonic fared better. Five of its members died in the torpedo blast, but the damaged ship came to rest in relatively shallow water, allowing the survivors to climb rigging, deploy lifeboats and escape.

The research was funded by Duke University, the U.S. Department of Defence, the U.S. Army and the Hagley Library's Center for the History of Business, Technology and Society.
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Sask. Military Museum curator shocked at upcoming auction of war hero's medals

Post by Guest on Tue 22 Aug 2017, 16:34

Sask. Military Museum curator shocked at upcoming auction of war hero's medals

Lt.-Col. David Currie won Victoria Cross in Second World War, estimated to sell for $500K

By David Shield, CBC News Posted: Aug 22, 2017

Lt.-Col. David Currie was awarded the Victoria Cross for his role in the 1944 Normandy campaign during the Second World War. (Dix Noonan Webb)

Keith Inches doesn't believe that anyone should benefit from the sale of Lt.-Col. David Currie's medals.

Medals belonging to Currie, including his Victoria Cross, are expected to sell for anywhere between $500,000 to $600,000 next month at auction in London.

"My first reaction was shock that they were being offered up for sale, instead of being donated," said Inches, the curator of the Saskatchewan Military Museum in Regina.

Only 16 Victoria Crosses were presented to Canadian soldiers during the Second World War, according to Veterans Affairs Canada. Currie's medal is the only Canadian Victoria Cross from the Second World War not on public display, making it quite rare.

'It's a shame that they're going for that much money and the family doesn't benefit from it.'
- Keith Inches, Saskatchewan Military Museum curator

Inches believes the medals should be donated to the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, or the Government of Saskatchewan.

"[Paying] half a million dollars for something someone else won, I just feel uncomfortable with that," said Inches.

Historic battle

According to the auction house Dix Noonan Webb, Currie, who died in 1986, was born in Saskatoon and won the Victoria Cross during the Normandy campaign in 1944. Currie's unit was ordered to cut off escaping German forces by taking the village of Saint-Lambert and trapping them in a bottleneck known as the Falaise Gap.

During the battle, the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps killed 300 German troops, wounded 500 and took 2,100 prisoner. Military historians call the victory one of the most important in the campaign.

Lt.-Col. David Currie was awarded the Victoria Cross. (Dix Noonan Webb)

While the medal was awarded to Currie, he acknowledged the soldiers in his unit when he was presented with the Victoria Cross, making a sale even more problematic.

"As [Currie] said, he represented the men that he was leading when he closed that gap," said Inches. "He was inspiring them to hold their ground and go forward. But he didn't do it by himself."

The Victoria Cross is the highest military award presented by the United Kingdom, and is awarded for "gallantry in the face of the enemy." Currie was the only Canadian to receive the medal in the Normandy campaign.

Valuable history

The current owner bought the medals from Currie's widow in 1989 and has kept them ever since.

"It's a shame that they're going for that much money and the family doesn't benefit from it," said Inches. "I don't think anyone other than the family members should benefit from that, because they were awarded to him."

According to Dix Noonan Webb, the Victoria Cross is quite rare.

"It's not often that Victoria Crosses come up for sale," said spokesperson Tanya Ursual. "In recent years, a large number of Victoria Crosses have made their way to the Imperial War Museum in London, where they are on permanent display. A large number of them have disappeared from the marketplace."

As well, Currie's Victoria Cross was made specifically for the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps, making the medal even more valuable, according to Ursual.

'If you look at the auction archives around the world of Victoria Cross sales, you will see some that have gone on sale in Australia and other parts of the world for close to $1 million," she said. "[Dix Noonan Webb] just sold one in March of this year that got $500,000."

If the medals' new owner decides to remove them from Canada, they would have to make a special application with the federal government.

The auction will be held Sept. 27 in London.


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A remarkable battle that was largely forgotten': Hill 70 memorial set to open in France

Post by Loader on Mon 21 Aug 2017, 10:07

Park commemorates Canadian soldiers who died in lesser-known battle not far from Vimy Ridge

By Briar Stewart, Chris Corday, CBC News  Posted: Aug 21, 2017 2:00 AM PT| Last Updated: Aug 21, 2017 2:27 AM PT

Left: The Hill 70 Memorial Park is set to officially open Tuesday, August 22, 2017, in France, to honour the Canadian Corps' 'forgotten' victory a century ago
at the site not far from Vimy Ridge. Right: Canadians in captured trenches at Hill 70 in August 1917. (Hill 70 Memorial/Facebook, Library and Archives Canada)

A group huddles around a collection of large black-and-white portraits strewn across a table at the armoury in Kamloops, B.C.

Peering through magnifying glasses, they search for a specific face among the rows of troops dressed in identical uniforms.

They are looking for a soldier they never knew, who fought and died in a battle most have never heard of.

"It was a Chinese-Canadian kid from 100 years ago, volunteering to participate in a war," said Jack Gin, a philanthropist with a love of history. "I was astounded to learn of this Frederick Lee person."

Jack Gin had never heard about Frederick Lee or the battle of Hill 70 until he received an email in the spring asking for his help to research Lee's story. (Chris Corday/CBC)

Lee was one of only a few hundred Chinese Canadians who enlisted during the First World War.

While he fought at the famous battle of Vimy Ridge, his name recently surfaced because of research that was done to commemorate a much lesser known battle in northern France.

An unknown part of history

Around 100,000 Canadian soldiers — Lee included — fought at Hill 70.

"It was a remarkable battle that was largely forgotten," said Mark Hutchings, chairman of the Hill 70 Memorial project.

Hutchings believes the battle, which took place four months after Vimy Ridge, deserves the same kind of reverence in Canadian history.

It was the first time Canadian forces were led by a Canadian commander.

A shell bursts during the battle of Hill 70 near Lens, France, in August 1917. (Canadian War Museum)

The British asked Sir Arthur Currie to attack the Germans at the French town of Lens and create a diversion that would prevent them from moving troops into Belgium, where the Allies were planning a larger offensive.  

Hutchings says Currie pushed to change plans after doing reconnaissance of the area.

"He went and had a look and said, oh, this would be a meat grinder, we would be doomed to fail the same way the French failed, the British failed," he said.

Currie believed that the Canadians should instead try attacking the higher ground north of Lens — an area that was named Hill 70 because it was 70 metres above sea level.  

The British agreed, and as dawn broke on Aug. 15, 1917, the Canadian Corps launched its attack.

As chairman of the Hill 70 project, Mark Hutchings has worked to develop the memorial park and an educational program that will be rolled out in schools. (CBC)

Battle for Hill 70

Within hours, they were able to gain the higher ground, and over the next 10 days the Germans launched 21 counterattacks.

It was a bloody battle, and a devastating loss for the Germans, Hutchings says: there were between 20,000 to 40,000 German casualties, "depending on which history you read."

On the Canadian side, 1,877 men were killed including 21-year-old Lee, who died on the sixth day of the battle. His name is etched on the Vimy Ridge memorial, and he is one of more than 11,000 Canadians who were killed in action in France and whose final resting place is unknown.

His Chinese heritage meant that Frederick Lee wasn't able to vote, but that didn't stop him from enlisting with the Canadian Expeditionary Force,
to fight for Canada overseas. (Courtesy Norman Lee)

While the Canadian Corps' accomplishment at Vimy is a storied and celebrated part of Canada's history, the victory at Hill 70 is largely unknown.

Since 2012, a group of volunteers has been working to change that, and on August 22, the Hill 70 Memorial Park will open in France, one hundred years after the First World War battle.

The site is about 15 kilometres from the Vimy Ridge memorial and features a white limestone obelisk and a pathway marked with 1,877 maple leaves.

Gin and his group are fundraising to build another walkway which would wind to the top of the hill and be named after Frederick Lee.

"It would be symbolic," said Gin who has been helping to research Lee's story.

"I see Frederick Lee as a metaphor for the hard work and struggle for the early Chinese."

Wide-spread discrimination

Lee was born in Kamloops in 1895. Those researching his story have discovered that he was one of eight children in his family. His father had migrated to Canada to work as a gold miner but eventually became a merchant.

Gin said even though Kamloops had a strong Chinese community back then, there was deep, widespread discrimination.

"They weren't allowed to own property on one side of the river. They weren't even allowed to bury their dead in the city cemetery," said Gin.

Lee poses for a photo at a camp in Vernon, B.C., with other members of the machine gun section of the 172nd Battalion in 1916. (Canadian War Museum)

Even their children — born in Canada — were not allowed to vote.

Despite that, Lee, who had been working as a farmer, signed up for the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1916 and joined the 172nd Battalion. He trained as a machine gunner within the unit before heading to France.

Honouring Lee at home

His name is carved into the stone cenotaph in Kamloops alongside other local soldiers who were killed in the First World War. But many didn't realize he was part of the city's Chinese community until only recently because Lee can also be an English name.

"We should be so proud of him," said Elsie Cheung, president of the Kamloops Chinese Freemasons.

Members of the Chinese community in Kamloops didn't realize that one of their own fought during the First World War. After hearing Lee's story,
they have been trying to track his family history. (Chris Corday/CBC)

Another fundraising effort is underway to build a gazebo at the city's Chinese cemetery.  

It would be perched at the top of a small hill, looking over more than 200 graves, many which are marked with simple wood stakes.

"It's amazing," she said.

"He counted himself as a Canadian, even if he wasn't recognized as a Canadian."

After learning about his story a few months ago, she has spent hours looking into Lee's family history.  

The name "Fred Lee" is engraved on the cenotaph in Kamloops, but Elsie Cheung says no one realized he was part of the Chinese community
until they received an email from those organizing the Hill 70 project. (Chris Corday/CBC)

Cheung discovered that Lee's father died and his mother and most of his siblings returned to China even before Lee enlisted.

She found that Lee has an 85-year-old nephew still living in Kamloops, and her goal now is to try and track down his family living in China.

"I would love to reach out to them and tell them about his story in Canada."
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Dieppe deserves a better commemoration than this

Post by Guest on Thu 17 Aug 2017, 14:41

Dieppe deserves a better commemoration than this

August 17, 2017

On Saturday, when Canadians pause for a moment and remember the ghastly slaughter that occurred in 1942 on the beaches of Dieppe – the single bloodiest day for Canada’s military in the Second World War – there will be no commemoration at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.

The government confirms there will be a ceremony on Aug. 22 – once our official delegation returns from France. But this week, there was no mention of an Ottawa event in the press releases or government documents explaining the commemorations. (Plans are still being finalized, Veterans Affairs Canada said, revealing few details.)

The prime minister is expected to attend the Ottawa ceremony. The Governor General should too. And – though it sure seems a little late for this – the commemoration in Ottawa should be (or, should have been) on the actual anniversary, not days later. Whatever reason explains the scheduling, it’s undignified that national commemoration, in Ottawa, of such sacrifice, should have to wait.

The Dieppe raid, of Aug. 19, 1942, was an utter disaster.

Of a fighting force around 6,000-strong (nearly 5,000 of them Canadians) the raid left more than 900 Canadians dead. All total, around 3,350 were killed, wounded or taken captive (accounts vary on the precise totals). “Total German casualties numbered at most 600, a small price to pay for gutting much of the infantry of a division, sinking ships galore, and winning the air battle,” wrote historian Jack Granatstein in 2012, for the 70th anniversary.

Yet that wasn’t how it was painted at the time. In the immediate aftermath, newspapermen managed to describe the assault as a success. A Citizen photo caption from Aug. 24, 1942 described it as a “victorious raid,” and said Canadian troops “helped storm through the strong Nazi coast defences to reach their objectives and return with prisoners.”

The paper also printed a communiqué from Lt.-Gen. A.G.L. McNaughton, sent to prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King: “The operation was indeed a memorable exploit and Canada can well be very proud of the courage and skill shown by her men who took part.”

Canadians today, at least those who think about Dieppe, console themselves with the belief that the lessons from this military disaster contributed to the success, nearly two years later, of Operation Neptune, on the beaches of Normandy.

Federal planning around Dieppe feels markedly different from that for the 70th anniversary of D-Day, which saw a ceremony at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum with Gov. Gen. David Johnston. We’ve also seen the non-stop glorification of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. And, in 2012, there was a ceremony at the cenotaph in Ottawa on the 70th anniversary of Dieppe. And in 2007, for the 65th.

Why not this time?

There are three main locations for commemorations this year marking the 75th anniversary of Dieppe: Calgary and Montreal on Aug. 19 and Dieppe, N.B., on Aug. 20. In part, the locations chosen make sense, as regiments from Calgary and Montreal fought in the raid. As well, there are commemorations in France, with the official Canadian delegation to be led by Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr.

But not in Ottawa. Not until Tuesday.

Not at the national monument that exists specifically for moments such as this, to consider, as a nation, our military accomplishments and tragedies and to remember that success and victory are not necessarily prerequisites for valour and courage.

Some events simply must happen in Ottawa – and on the actual anniversary. We’re the seat of government and the city housing the commemorative stage upon which remembrances are best held. The symbolism is enduring. That’s not to say there shouldn’t be other events, merely that such an important event in Canada’s history deserves more serious treatment from the national capital.

Perhaps Ottawans will take this to heart.

Residents of the city can take time to wander down to the cenotaph and take a moment to reflect, on Saturday, on how young Canadian men, 75 years ago, stormed ashore into volleys of gunfire. “Don’t worry men, it’ll be a piece of cake,” said Maj.-Gen. J.H. Roberts, who led the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division.

How wrong that ended up being. It’s precisely the sort of tragedy that deserves an appropriate remembrance ceremony, as we ought to have reverence for all heroism, not just those acts that ended in victory.

Tyler Dawson is deputy editorial pages editor of the Ottawa Citizen.


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Re: History / Topics & Posted Articles

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