2017 is Canadas’ 150th Birthday. It is also the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge that took place from April 9 – 12, 1917. Canada was just 82 days short of celebrating her 50th anniversary of Confederation when this battle occurred and when it was over Canada came of age and was no longer seen as a former colony.
Thirty-two years after our Confederation we became involved in our first foreign war, the 2nd Boer War (1899-1902). Just 12 years later when the war drums beat again Canada would fight in the “Great War” (WWI) and emerge a nation who could hold her head high and showed the powers that be, we were no longer a colony but a proud free nation. In the waning years of the 19th century and on into the middle of the 20th century Great Britain’s foreign Policy was also Canadas. When the Motherland beat the drums of war Canada responded and for a non-military power that response was overwhelming. In WWI almost 9% (619,000) with a population of just 7.1 million volunteered. WWII 10%. (1,100,000) with a population of 11 million.
For a non-military nation, when the need arises we respond and for some inexplicable reason made excellent warriors. We are so good that in both World Wars we were the Shock Troops of the Commonwealth. When a particular nasty job had to be done it was the Canadians who did it. This was the case at Vimy, Easter 1917. At precisely 05:30 Easter Monday April 9th the barrage began and after months of preparation the Canadian Corp moved out of its’ trenches and tunnels and with sleet blowing in their faces advanced up the ridge. Three days later on 12 April Vimy Ridge was theirs’. They had done “That which no one else could do”.
The Canadians had started making a name for themselves at the 2nd Battle of Ypres in 1915. 2nd Ypres was the first time poison gas was used. The Germans unleashed a large cloud of Chlorine against the Allies lines. The first to get hit with it were French Moroccan troops who broke and ran, for which no one can blame them. The 1st Canadian Division was the next to be hit by the green cloud of death creeping over the battle field. At this juncture the Canadians were fairly new to combat but when the battle ended they had withstood the gas by using urine soaked handkerchiefs as improvised gas masks. Not only did they withstand this chemical attack but they were the first former Colonial troops to beat a European Imperial Army at St. Julien and Kitchener’s Wood, both engagements in the overall battle. This was the first of the battlefield victories that would lead to the Canadian Corps (along with the ANZAC {Australian/New Zealand Army Corps.}) to become the Shock Troops of the British Imperial Army.
Next came the Somme, July 1st through November 18th 1916. This four and half month slug fest ended in the Allies favour but just barely having only advanced their lines 10 kilometres. In this battle the Canadians again proved what outstanding soldiers they were which added to their growing reputation. After the Somme the Canadian Corps was transferred to the Vimy area in north eastern France. Here they would triumph where others had tried and failed. Here in the space of three days they would earn everlasting glory by taking Vimy Ridge but at a terrible price, 3,598 killed and 7,000 wounded.
After the war Brigadier General A.E. Ross declared that “in those few minutes I witnessed the birth of a nation”. We had come of age.
From the Victory of Vimy the Canadians were sent north to the Ypres Salient (Belgium) and in mid-October 1917 they entered the Charnel House called Passchendaele winning yet another victory but at the staggering cost of 15,000 casualties. As the casualties grew so did their reputation. From 2nd Ypres in 1915, where they held against the first gas attack to the last 100 days and in between, the Canadians solidified their reputation as the “Storm Troops” of the Empire at a cost of nearly 61,000 dead. a high price to pay for a Nation with a small population.
So 100 years later in the 17th year of a new century we remember and pay homage to all those young men and women who answered the call and stood in “Harms Way” to preserve our freedoms and way of life. In the scheme of things, we are not a super power nor are we militaristic but when the need arises Canada has always answered the call to arms to defend our freedom and the freedom of others.
On Sunday 9 April of this year thousands will gather both here at home and at the Vimy Memorial in France to honour and remember, above all remember all the sons and daughters of Canada who paid the price in blood for our Freedom.



Warmemorial 3


11th hr/11th dy/ 11th mth.
REMEMBRANCE 2016. 2016/11/11/
There are two very important days on the calendar, Canada Day and Remembrance Day. they are, to me, of greater significance than Christmas, New Years, Easter, or Thanksgiving. Canada Day is obvious as it is our country’s birthday and Remembrance Day is to honour and remember all the brave young men and women who have over the past 149 years stood in harms way to keep us free with well over 100,000 paying the supreme price for our freedom.
It has been 98 years since the “Great War” ended, 71 years since “World War II” ended, and 63 years since the “Korean War” which is in its’ 63rd year of a cease fire. Canada invented Peace Keeping in 1956 and became the world leader in such endeavours. In 2001 Canada changed its’ military role from Peace Keeping to Peace Making with its’ intervention in the Afghanistan War against the Taliban. Be it the call of “King and Country” or the United Nations, or North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Canada has always answered to call to arms in the name of Peace. In just nine months our country will celebrate its’ 150th birthday. 150 years of freedom and prosperity paid for in a large part by those who stood against enemies who would destroy our way of life.
The years are taking their toll as most WWII vets are in their 90s’ and even the Korean vets are edging up there as they are in their 80s’. There are no more living Canadian Veterans of WWI and it won’t be that long until we see the last of the Greatest Generation end their journey. It has been said that war is mankind at its’ best and its’ worst. Having seen it at its’ worst as a Medic in Viet Nam I can vouch for the horrors, the pain, and the suffering. I can also vouch for the camaraderie and bravery of the ordinary Grunt who goes out day after day on patrol never knowing if it is his number coming up this time. I have witnessed battle harden young men weep for the loss of a buddy but still carry on with the job at hand. Civilians have the misconception that soldiers fight for glory or country, no, they fight for their buddies standing next to him. They will not let each other down and die if need be for them. These ordinary young men and women are the ones who fight and die for our freedoms. For that they must be remembered. Even now after a bloody century of warfare (20th) we still rely on the young to protect us not from a normal enemy but from the religious fanatical terrorist who murder in the name of their God. This day 11 November is the day we honour and remember and thank them one and all for their sacrifices.

History, Uncategorized




1 July 2016, Canadas’ 149th Birthday and the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme in World War 1.
While this is a day of celebration for Canada it is also a day of Remembrance for the people of Newfoundland/Labrador. On this day 100 years ago on the Western Front the Allies launch an attack against the Germany Trenches along the upper reaches of the River Somme in France. The battle would last 131 days and result in a total of over one million casualties. Britain would suffer 451,842 casualties while France suffered 250,000 and Germany 537,918. It was and is the bloodiest battle in History.
For Newfoundland /Labrador it is the darkest day in their short history. The Battle of Beaumont-Hamel is forever etched into the memory of every Newfoundlander. On the morning of 1 July 1916 the Royal Newfoundland Regiment waited in their trenches for the order to advance with the third wave of the British attack. At 9:15 a.m. the regiment was ordered over the top and left their trenches moving towards their jump off position. They advanced across open ground with no artillery support and full view of the enemy into a maelstrom of Germany Artillery and Machine Gun fire. The attack by the R.N.R lasted 30 minutes ending at 9:45 a.m. The Newfoundlanders suffered 324 dead, 386 wounded and on the following day 2 July 1916 only 68 men were capable of answering the Roll Call. In just 30 minutes the R.N.R. ceased to exist as a fighting unit. This slaughter affected almost every family in Newfoundland. In 1916 it was a separate Dominion within the British Empire and not part of Canada; that would come 33 years later on 1 July 1949 when Newfoundland became the 10th Province of Canada.
This day is both one of Remembrance and Celebration in Canadas’ youngest family member. Although they were not part of Canada in 1916 that display of discipline and bravery would become part of Canadas’ proud Military Tradition.






JUNO. 2016/06/06

At 05:30 on this day 72 years ago German shore batteries opened fire on what was the largest invasion fleet in History.
Six thousand nine hundred allied ships, including 1,213 war ships were just off the coast of Normandy France and the Invasion of Europe, Operation Overlord, was about to begin with the largest amphibious assault, Operation Neptune, in history making its way to the beaches. There were 5 beaches, running from west to east in order were; Utah, Omaha (US), Gold, Juno, Sword, Gold and Sword were British and sandwiched in between them was Juno, the Canadian beach. It is Juno Beach that I will focus on.
At 06:30 the assault on the beaches commences and at Juno the Cdn. 3rd Div. landing is made more difficult because of strong currents. The hour delay (07:30) allows the Germans to prepare a stiff defense and the Royal Winnipeg and the Queens’ Own Rifles sustained heavy casualties. After roughly 2 hours the break through from the beach had succeeded and the thrust inland began. I am not going to go into a great deal of detail but by 2100hrs when a halt was ordered the 3rd Canadian Division had pushed inland further than any other allied force. The cost had been high out of the 14,000 Canadians who went ashore 340 were dead and 574 wounded. In all the allies sustained 10,000 casualties with 4,414 dead in what Field Marshall Irwin Rommel would call “Der Langste Tag”, The Longest Day. Here again the Canadian Infantryman proved his mettle as their fathers had in the abattoir of the Wester Front in WW I. Here again because of their courage and spirit they would find themselves on the “Sharp End” with the long slugging clearance of the Channel Ports after the Normandy breakout.
Canada had 1,000,000 men and women in the armed forces. That was about 10% of a population of just over 11,000,000. Per Capita no other allied nation had that percentage of its’ population engaged in fighting. From 1939 until 1945 Canada lost 42,000 of her sons and daughters fighting to keep us free. These casualties included not just those who fought in the Battle of the Atlantic where the Royal Canadian Navy grew to over 400 ships, the 3rd largest in the world and would sustain 2,024 casualties. The Royal Canadian Air Force would also grow to be the 4th largest but at a cost of 13,000 dead. While the Normandy Campaign was going on the so called “D-Day Dodgers” the Canadians fighting their way through Sicily and up the Italian boot would sustain 26,000 casualties including 6,000 dead.
From the birth of our nation 149 years ago to the present whenever Canada has been called on she has stepped up and done her duty much to her honour. In the affairs of the world we are still a young nation and a small nation in terms of population and our Armed forces are not large by any standard but the men and women who serve to-day are of the same mettle and spirit as their fore fathers.


History, Uncategorized


War Mem. 2


REMEMBRANCE 2015. 2015/11/08.
On April 22 1915 the Canadian Corps of the B.E.F. along with the French were attacked by the Germans in an attempt to close the Ypres Salient in Belgium. This was the first time that gas (Chlorine) was used in warfare. The French Morrocan Colonial troops were the first to be exposed to this weapon of terror and understandably broke leaving the Canadian flank exposed. Two days later on 24 April it was the Canadians’ turn. Using urine and mud soaked handkerchiefs as improvised gas masks the Canadians held at a cost of 6,035 casualties including over 2,000 dead. Here in the mud of Flanders the Canadian Military reputation was born and over the next 45 months would grow earning them the title of “SHOCK TROOPS” and raising Canada to her rightful place in the family of Nations. (Battle of the Somme, 2nd Ypres)
Remembrance Day was originally Armistice Day proclaimed by King George V in April 1919. Its’ purpose to remember the 1,244,589 Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen from the British Empire that made the ultimate sacrifice on land, sea, and in the air. In Canada Armistice Day official became Remembrance Day at the 11th hour of the 11 day of 11th month (November) 1931. In the 4 years, 106 days from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918 Canada had 61,082 killed and 154,361 wounded soldiers, sailors, and airmen. Canada was a young nation in 1914 just 47 years old with a population of 7,800,000 of which 625,825 served in World War 1 and almost 10% of those who served paid the ultimate price. It has been 101 years since Europe went mad and dove headlong into the Hell of the Western Front. The War to end all Wars was just the prelude to WW II 21 years later when Germany smarting from the humiliation of losing WW I plunged Europe once again into the Charnel House of War and genocide. Canada was there again declaring war on Germany on 10 September 1939, one week after Britain had. The population in 1939 was roughly 11 million and by wars end in 1945 10% of the population had served in the military. The Canadian casualties were 42,042 dead and 54,414 wounded. In Bomber Command alone Canada lost 9,980 of its’ young men.
After WW II under the command of the United Nations Canada sent over 27,000 to fight in the so called “Police Action” (WAR) in Korea where 516 soldiers were lost. After Korea came years of “Peace Keeping” under the U.N. with 119 Canadians dying trying to maintain peace in different corners of the world. In this the 21st Century Canada became involved in the War in Afghanistan where 158 were killed. Since 1899 when Canada sent troops to help fight the 2nd Boer War through the 20th Century up to now, the 21st Century, Canada has always answered when called upon to help stop aggression. Although the number of dead might seem small in the greater scheme of things for us the numbers are great as even now we are a small nation in terms of population.
At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month each years since 1919 we honour and remember all those Canadian who served and especially all those young sons and daughters of Canada who made the supreme sacrifice so we could be free. Remembrance Day does not, as some will say, glorify war instead it reminds us of the horror and cost of that most cruel of all humankinds endeavours. All the veterans of WW I have passed away and each year those of WW II and Korea grow fewer in number and soon they too will be but memories of the sacrifice our nation was willing to make to keep peace and be free. As our National Anthem says we are the “True North. Strong and Free” because of their courage and commitment to keep us so. Remembrance Day is the day we publicly honour our heroes alive and dead but we should not just do so on a particular day. Lest We Forget means just that, never forget all the brave young men and women who paid for our freedom.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
(Robert Binyon)

History, My Opinion, Uncategorized


Four Horsemen 1 Four Horsemen 1


When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.
It seems that in my lifetime the Four Horsemen have been running amok in Africa’s’ 47 mainland countries. From war to famine to pestilence the horsemen have had a wild ride from the Mediterranean Coast to the Cape of Good Hope from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean feasting gluttonously on the carcasses of the innocent as well as the guilty. For neither war nor famine nor pestilence discriminate, all are fodder for their insatiable appetites.
Since the ending of World War Two almost 70 years ago and the death of Imperial Colonialism not one area of this vast continent, the birthplace of all humanity, has escaped unscathed. As the Colonial Powers left old tribal and religious animosities rose again and tribal warfare for power became the norm. There was also racial war as the white residents of some of the former colonies such as Rhodesia, Angola, and South Africa fought to maintain supremacy and the apartheid system of segregation they had set up. In the north Algeria, rebelled against the French. In Egypt the military took over making the country a dictatorship. In the 50s Libya became independent only to fall in the 60s to a military coup and it too became a dictatorship until 2011 when the populous rebelled and overthrew and killed the dictator Gadhafi. Now over a decade into the 21st century Africa is still witnessing religious wars with Muslims pitted against Christians and terrorism flourishing quite nicely.

In just the past few months the countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal, and Mali, in western Africa have been wracked with an epidemic of the Ebola Virus causing almost 17,600 cases and resulting in a total of 6,556 deaths all but 2 of them Africans. This continent has long been known as the birth place of the Human Race it is from here that the rest of the planet was populated through many migration the last of which was about 35,000 years ago.
Perhaps Africa would have been better off if Vasco da Gama and his four ships had run aground at the entrance to Lisbon’s harbour and the Europeans had not come for a visit and decided to stay. Hindsight is a marvellous thing but it cannot change what happened. Maybe in another 100 years the majority of African States will catch up to the rest of the world. Let us hope it happens far sooner.

Family, History


Warmemorial 3


With Remembrance Day just around the corner I am writing about the members both male and female of my family who served in World War II and all but one surviving to come home.
Mary Josephine Lee; B. 13 September 1920, – D. 26 March 2008.
Mary (Oldest Lee Girl) Joined the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service) in 1941 and was stationed near Bristol, England. She worked as a server in the Mess hall on an R.A.F. Base. I do not know when she was discharged but it was prior to 1945.
Kathleen Winifred Lee; B. 21 January 1922.-
Kathleen Winifred lee, (2nd Oldest Lee girl) who some say was the head of the Lee girl mob as she seemed to be the adventurous one was born in Troon in January 1922. When the war started Kathy joined the WRNS ({WRENS} Women’s Royal Naval Service) at 18 and was stationed at Campbelltown on the Mull of Kintyre, Scotland assigned to the Cypher Unit. After the war she would marry Nick and have 3 daughters.
David Burnett Campbell; B. 17 Aug. 1914 – D. 5 May 1944. Age: 29
David B. Campbell #7885941, 48th Royal Tank Regiment, Royal Armoured Corps was my Father and a professional soldier having joined the Royal Armoured Corps in 1931. The next I know of him he is serving in Indian on the Northwest Frontier in 1937 assigned to a Light Tank Unit. When WW II started David’s unit was recalled from India and made a landing at Marseille, southern France only to re-embark a short time later and sail for England. Sometime in late 1940 or early 1941 David volunteered to join the Commandos and was posted to the 4th Commando headquartered in Troon Scotland. It was here that he met and married my Mother. He participated in the raid on the Lofoten Island in Norway in March 1941. At some point after the Lofoten Raid he R.T.U. returned to unit in his case the Royal Armoured Corps. The next I know about him he is with the 48th Royal Tank Regiment equipped with Churchill Tanks and training near Hayes-Middlesex in England prior to embarking for North Africa. In Africa his regiment became part of the 8th Army where it fought from Egypt to Tunisia. Somewhere along the line David injured his knee and just before he went into hospital in Algiers he transferred to a DUKW, amphibious truck unit. After surgery on his knee he reported for duty only to collapse on the first day and was rushed back to hospital where he died on 5 May 1944 from blood poisoning. He is buried in a Commonwealth Cemetery just outside Algiers, Algeria. I never knew him as I was but 19 months old when he died.

Albert Raymond (Ray) McArthur. Pte. Essex Rifles. (4th Commando) B.18 August 1920. – D. 3 March 1995.
Ray was my step-father. He was born in Campbellford, Ontario and raised until age 11 in Hannah Alberta. At that age he was sent to live with his maternal grandparents in Chelmsford, England. In January 1939, age 18 he joined the Essex Rifles, a Territorial Unit (Militia). When war broke out in September of 39 his unit was mobilized and sent to France up near the Belgium border. When the Phony War ended in May of 1940 with the German invasion of France, Belgium, and the Netherlands the British were caught unprepared for the new form of warfare, Blitz Krieg (Lightening War) and were pushed back towards the English Channel. Most British and French troops were evacuated from Dunkirk. Rays’ unit came out at Boulogne north of Dunkirk. Arriving back in England Ray volunteered for the Commandos and was assigned to the 4th (both he and my Father were in the same unit) Headquartered in Troon. Ray knew my Mother slightly and became somewhat smitten with her but that is another story. The 4th was transferred to Egypt and saw action in Greece when Germany invaded. Evacuating Greece the 4th returned to Alexandria where they became part of Lay Force for the evacuation of Crete. The 4th was fighting rearguard in an olive grove just outside Sphakia when he was wounded and taken prisoner. This was in June 1941 and he remained a P.O.W. for almost 4 years.

Nicholas Powell Gibbons. R.N. B.31 December 1917-D.12 September 1991.
Nick joined the Royal Navy in either 1934 or 35 at the age of 18 and he was posted to H.M.S. Bedouin a Tribal Class Destroyer in 1937. The Bedouin took part in the 2nd Battle of Narvik, and the Lofoten Raid. In 1942 the Bedouin was transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet on escort duty. While part of Operation Harpoon the Bedouin was confronted by the Italian Navy in the form of 2 Cruisers and some destroyers. Coming to Action Stations the Bedouin charged the Italians causing them to turn away but not before inflicting serious damage to the Bedouin by knocking out her engines. The Bedouin was taken under tow by the destroyer HMS Partridge but had to be released when an Italian Torpedo Bomber showed up. Bedouin was struck by a torpedo and sank on 15 June 1942 with the loss of 28 lives. Nick and the rest of the ships company would be picked up by the Italians and spend just under 3 years as P.O.W.s in both Italy and Germany. He would spend 13 years in the Royal Navy leaving after the war..

Harry Holt. Pte. North Shore Regiment, Canadian Army,
At the time of writing I know very little about Harry only that he was in the Normandy Campaign where he was seriously wounded when a landmine shattered his left knee. His leg was saved by the doctors but he would have trouble with it for the rest of his life. Harry died in a Veterans home in Victoria B.C.
These men and women I have written about were our Fathers, Mothers, Aunts, Uncles, and Grand Parents. They were heroes just like the millions of men and women who served in the Commonwealth Armed Forces. They are all gone now but one, Kathleen, 92 years young, who lives with her youngest daughter in Milton Ontario. What my generation and all those to come owes these people who stood in Harms’ Way can never be repaid. All we can do is thank them and remember them for they were and are the “GREATEST GENERATION”


History, Musing


I've Got you Mate.

The Sacred ground at the “Tomb of Canada’s Unknown” became more hallowed on Wednesday 22 October when the Blood of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was shed by a rabid coward who shot him dead whilst he stood honourary guard at the Tomb. As of writing the evidence shows that this coward and the one who two days before ran down and killed Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent in the parking lot in a mall in Quebec both had ties to Terrorists groups and had been radicalized.
We are now involved in military operations against another extremist group called ISIL. In Iraq. Six of our CF-18 Hornets from the RCAF along with about 600 ground support and 62 Special Forces are engaged in bombing ISIL targets or in the case of the Special Forces training the Iraqi army. When the need arises we are ready to go in Harm’s Way. Canada always seems to be there helping to stop aggression and keep the Peace.
One Hundred years ago Canada answered the call from the Motherland, Great Britain and well out of proportion to our population sent over 620,000 (close to 10% of our population)to fight in Europe against German Aggression. After four years in the hell they called the Western Front the war to end all wars, the Great War ended and Canada left 67,000 (just under 11%) of her sons and daughters who fought dead in the fields of Flanders. A little known fact except perhaps to historians we also sent about 4200 troops to Vladivostok to help support the White Russians in their war against the Communists. The Canadian Siberia Expedition Force was sent to Russian in August 1918 and returned between April and June of 1919 with a loss of 14 dead.
On 1 September 1939 Germany invaded Poland. The British government stated formally that unless Germany withdrew its’ armed forces by 3 September a state of war would exist between Great Britain and Germany. Germany did not respond. On September 10 1939 Canada formally declared war on Germany. Once again we stood to in Harms’ Way in defence of freedom. The population of Canada in 1939 was just over 11,000,000 and by the time the war in Europe ended in May 1945 I,000,000 (10%) of her sons and daughters had answered the call to arms and 45,000 paid the ultimate price stopping Germany from possible global domination. In these two great World Wars Canada paid heavily with 112,000 dead and 501,000 wounded in body and mind. One can look at these number and say that compared to the casualties suffer by the allies in both war that is not very much but when you compare the sizes of the other allied military we lost a great deal proportionately.
Again in June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea at the call of the United Nations Canada stepped forth and 26,000 stood to arms and when the conflict ended in July 1953 Canada had lost 516 dead. Since the Boer War in the late 1890s’ (224 KIA) until the present Canada has lost a total of 105,630 of her sons and daughters who stood in Harms’ Way. One could say that the number is not that high considering it is spread out over 100 years but those who say this should realize that Canada has never been a Military power for most of that time and her population was and is small in comparison to the great Military Powers in the world. Only once has Canada refused to stand with an ally and that was when the United States attacked Iraq based on poor or made up intelligence concerning Weapons of Mass Destruction. It was an illegal war and Canada refused to participate. Canada under the auspices of NATO joined in the war in Afghanistan against the Taliban a radical Islamic group and after an 11 year commitment lost 158 dead. Canada has been called often and never found wanting.
Tuesday is Remembrance Day the second most important day next to Canada Day. On this day Canada remembers the courage and sacrifice of who served and those who paid the supreme price for our freedom and way of life.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them. (R. L. Binyon)



Rhomboid Tank

When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come.” And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.

On this day 100 years ago the First World War started with Austria declaring war on Serbia over the assassination of the Archduke Prince Ferdinand heir to the Austrian throne. Three days later Russia, Serbia’s’ ally, mobilizes and the next day 1 August Germany declares war on Russia. Two days later Germany declares war on France and the following day declares war on neutral Belgium and invades. This action draws Great Britain into the war because she had guaranteed Belgium neutrality. On August 5th the first land battle is fought at Liege in Belgium and with that the 4 years of bloodletting began. The War that should not have been, erupted into being and millions would pay with their lives and other millions wounded in body and mind. This would be the first industrial war with the advent of bigger more powerful artillery, faster firing and more accurate rifles, barbed wire, and the machine gun. It would be a war of first, with the introduction of chemical warfare in the form of poison gas. The airplane would come into its’ own as a weapon, and the first tanks would snail crawl across the battle fields. From almost the outset it would be a war of stagnant lines with both sides dug into hundreds’ of miles of trenches from the North Sea to Switzerland. It would be a war where victory was calculated in the number of yards gained. It was a war where (at least on the allies’ side) the number of casualties seemed irrelevant, at the Battle of the Somme which lasted four and a half months the allies sustained over 600,000 casualties. The British had 60,000 casualties on the first day. In 1916 at Beaumont-Hammel the Newfoundland Regiment (Newfoundland was a separate Dominion and not part of Canada) of 780 Officers and men advanced towards the German line within 15 minutes they were decimated. Of the 780 personnel in the regiment only 110 enlisted men answered muster the next day, all the Officers were dead.
It was a war that encompassed the entire world from Europe, to Africa, to Polynesia, the Far East, the Near East, and the Americas. The Triple Entente which consisted of Britain, France, and Russia would grow to include Italy and Japan. The Entente also included all the colonies and Dominions of the three Great Powers. The Central Powers consisted of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Bulgaria. It too would draw in all its colonies and dependants. The British had the largest Empire ever known and after the war would be even larger as would the French and Japanese. Russia would surrender to Germany in 1917 and in October of that year the Bolshevik Revolution would turn the country Communists for 8 decades. The so called Western Front running from the North Sea to the Swiss border would be a see saw fight until the summer of 1918 when the Entente forces would begin pushing the Germans back. The last 100 days of the war were a series of defeats for the Germans and their allies. At 11:00 a.m. on the 11th of November 1918 it ended with the German surrender but in their zeal to punish Germany for the war the allies would sow the seeds of another greater conflict. The Red Rider on his Red Horse had done his job well and the Gods of War had feasted mightily on the more than 16 million dead, slaughtered in the past four years. Now sated they would rest for they knew the Horseman would ride again and the feasting would start anew but in ways that not even the Gods could foretell.

And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.



Remembrence 1


As the one hundred anniversary of the start of World War I is coming up on 28 July and I already wrote on that calling it an unnecessary war, this will be about a young nation and its’ coming of age in the cess pool called “The Western Front”.

Canada as a nation was but 47 years old when WWI started. Young and with a population of just 8 million it was largely an agrarian society. From this small population 600,000 would volunteer and serve, 67,000 would pay the ultimate sacrifice and 250,000 would return wounded both in body and soul. In the 4 years that Canadian troops fought they would gain a reputation second to none as excellent fighters. They along with their Anzac cousin would become the Storm Troops of the British army. Canadian young men like those all over the Empire rushed to the colours. In Canada so many volunteered that they had to send a second contingent overseas to Britain. The Canadians were sent to Salisbury Plain. Britain’s’ main training ground for the Army, (Their home away from Home). Here they would train and learn to be soldiers. They would also prove difficult adjusting to the regimentation that they were not used too. Some senior British Commanders thought of them as half civilized cowboys. Well think what they like in the next 4 years these farmers, clerks, book keepers, bank tellers, lumber jacks, cowboys, business men, realtors, university students, and trappers would emerge as one of the premier fighting forces in the British Expeditionary Force.
The Canadian Corps’ first engagement with the Germany at the French village of Neuve Chapelle in March 1915 was a small success not the big one that the Brits hoped it would be but it taught the Canadians some sorely needed lessons. The lessons that were taught were that artillery support was inadequate and that communications in the line were a bloody disaster. The Canadians were partially blooded but not ready for what they would experience next. The Canadians were moved into the Ypres in early April 1915 to bolster the allied salient into the German lines. Here at Ypres on the 22nd of April 1915 the Germans introduced Gas into the War. On that day a yellow-green cloud approach the line. It struck the French Moroccan and Algerian Troops first and within 10 minutes they has suffered 6500 dead. The Chlorine Gas destroyed the mucus membrane and destroyed the lungs. These Colonial troops didn’t stand a chance. Not that the chances of the Canadians was any better. If it wasn’t for an officer who remembered his chemistry class in which he knew that Ammonia in Urine neutralized the gas. A lot of Canadians owe their life by breathing through a piss soak kerchief. Because the Germans also feared the gas the hesitated on exploiting the 1500 yard hole in the allies line and this gave the Canadians and the Brits time to close the gap. Chemical Warfare had arrived and unfortunately for the French Colonial Troops and the Canadians were the first recipients. I am not going to give an account of the Canadian Corps over the next four years. They would distinguish themselves at the Somme, Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele, and the Last 100 Days where they fought at Amiens, Broke the Hindenburg Line and retook Mons in November 1918. An aside on The Battle for Mons. It would become a controversy in Canada because at 2 minutes to 1100 A.M. on 11 November 1918 the last Canadian, possibly the last soldier would die killed by a snipers’ bullet.

I would now like to direct attention to the conditions these young men both amateur and professional lived fought and died. It is my intention in the next segment to attempt to convey, as closely as possible the sights and smell of the trenches on the Western Front. The system of both allied and German trenches ran some 475 miles across Europe from the North Sea to the Swiss Border in a zigzag line with the ground in between designated No-Mans’ Land. The trenches were roughly 10 feet deep with sandbags piled on the parapet (Front edge) and also on the parados (the rear) the sand bags also lined the bottom and both walls, a firing ledge was also built into the front wall so soldiers could fire at the attackers. In essence it was siege warfare with each side laying siege to the other. It is in these trenches that the Canadians would live, fight and die and this segment will try to describe what a Hell they had dropped into.
Imagine if you will a cesspool add to that rotting corpses of men, and animals multiply it by 1 billion and you might start to realize what it is like. The ground is churned, upheaved, and blasted and when it rains turns to a glue like mud that clings and sticks to everything. At other times the mud is so saturated with water it comes almost a quicksand drawing the unwary in and drowning its victim be it man or animal. Every night the artillery rearranges the landscape, creating new shell holes or enlarging the ones already there, The artillery also throws the bodies of those killed previously and buried in No Mans” Land and above all the putrid gut wrenching smell. With the putrid smell comes the vermin and carrion birds. The rats and crows grew fat off the cornucopia of rotting flesh and innards. The rats were the worst for they ran in the trenches, stealing food were ever they could and leaving behind fleas. The men suffered horribly from lice, fleas, and anything else that could make a home in their clothing. Trench foo was rampant from standing in cold filthy water for hours at a time, Tuberculosis, pneumonia, and influence, took their toll and always the stench. It was reported after the war that some men returned with their sense of smell destroyed. Within hours of wounding and laying in the mud the wound turned septic. There were no anti-biotics in those days and seriously infected limbs were amputated. If you were lucky and got a good wound it was called “A Blighty) meaning you were being sent to England for treatment and recovery. There were the wounds inflicted by the Gas (Chlorine, Mustard, and Phosgene) me blinded, lungs badly damage beyond healing or repair and always the stench.

For 4 long bloody years both sides fought and when it ended there was a new kid on the block, Canada. Through the fighting prowess, tenacity, and brains the Canadian Corps with its 4 Divisions gain a place for Canada in world affairs. Canada entered the war a 47 year old child and came out a 51 year old leader. No more would the Brits look upon us a colonials not when in the long run the puppy taught the old dog how to do it.