30 August 2006

The Canadian Military Historians Blog gets some attention

The latest issue of Canadian Military History, mentioned in my last entry, provided this blog with some very welcome press. In an announcement posted in the issue, the journal notes:

"Canadian Military Historians
News about projects on Canadian military history
and the community of historians behind them.

Ken Reynolds, an historian and the Assistant Heritage Officer at the Directorate of History and Heritage, Department of National Defence, has recently started a blog devoted to Canadian military history. It can be found at:


Reynolds explains the purpose of his blog:

"I've been thinking about undertaking a blog for some time now. But talk is cheap, and procrastination is tempting. Today, the 89th anniversary of the start of the Canadian battle for Vimy Ridge in France, would seem an appropriate time to get started.

"In particular, I would like this blog to be something that talks about what Canadian military historians are up to and what projects - recently published, unpublished, presentations, lectures, etc. - they're working on. Partly this is because I'm simply nosy, and would like to know what's going on. Is a project I'm considering working on already being researched and written about by another professional historian or a graduate student somewhere? Is there someone out there in our field doing work on a subject which might complement what I'm doing and can we help one another? What's new and exciting out there?

"The first obstacle to overcome what was to call this blog. I thought about using "The Cannon's Mouth", the title for the noew defunct newsletter issued by the Canadian Military History Group, whose mandate was, I think, similar to what I'd like to do on this blog. I wish I'd thought of the phrase "Clio's Warriors" that Tim Cook is using for his soon to be released book on Canadian official military historians. But, alas, I'm not that imaginative. So, I decided to go with the bland, yet appropriate title of "Canadian Military Historians".

"Now what? Well, I'm not entirely sure. Blogging is a bit like experimentation. I'm hoping to add some information worthy of the subject and get the ball rolling, as it were. After that, I guess we'll see."

The blog contains a great deal of useful information and is great service to anybody interested in the field of Canadian military history. Be sure to visit Ken's blog on a regular basis."

Thanks to everyone at Canadian Military History for the plug!

Latest issue of Canadian Military History

The latest issue (vol.15, no.2, Spring 2006) of Canadian Military History has been published by The Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies. Included are a collective article, "Applied History: 1944 Normandy campaign battlefield tours and staff rides," from Stuart Thomson, Mike Bechthold, and David Ian Hall and Brandey Barton's "Public Opinion and National Prestige: The Politics of Canadian Army Participation in the Invasion of Sicily, 1942-1943." The Canadian War Museum section provides "The Long Wait (Part I): A Personal Account of Infantry Training in Britain, June 1942 - June 1943" from Captain Harold MacDonald with M.A. MacDonald. Other historical documentation included are Major-General Stanislaw Maczek's "The 1st Polish Armoured Division in Normandy" and a 17 December 1944 report from the 2nd Tactical Air Force titled "Tactics Employed by Fighter-Bombers Operating Against Special Targets."

29 August 2006

New Issue of Canadian Naval Review

The latest issue of the Canadian Naval Review (vol.2, no.2, Summer 2006) has been published. In addition to a review of Michael Whitby's Commanding Canadians: The Second World War Diaries of A.F.C. Layard (by Robert H. Thomas), there is an historical piece written by me titled "Blueland versus Orangeland: Exercise Mohawk, April 1964." My article deals with an army-navy landing exercise held near and at Shelburne, Nova Scotia, in 1964, in an attempt to explore the possibilities of amphibious warfare on an extremely limited, yet quite interesting, scale.

26 August 2006

Information on the CHA Annual Meeting 2007

The latest Bulletin of the Canadian Historical Association / Société historique du Canada (volume 32.2, 2006) includes details on next year's Annual Meeting / Congrès annuel to be held on the campus of the University of Saskatchewan, in Saskatoon, 28-30 May 2007. The primary theme of the conference is "Bridging Communities: Making Public Knowledge, Making Knowledge Public / Construire des ponts : des communautés de savoir au savoir public." The description notes: "Scholars are encouraged to consider the connections between historical research and the public (such as the public impact of historical inquiry), as well as address how history can be made meaningful and accessible to the public" and "On encourage les chercheurs à explorer les rapports entre la recherche historique et le public (par exemple, l'impact des recherches historiques sur les populations), et à étudier les moyens de rendre l'histoire significative et accessible au grand public." The two sub-themes listed are "Aboriginal Peoples / Les peuples autochtones" and "The Circumpolar North / Le Nord circumpolaire." Anyone interested in presenting a paper or "organizing a panel, roundtable or forum" is told to visit the CHA/SHC website for further instructions, with an "absolute deadline for submissions" of 31 October 2006.

24 August 2006

News from Bob Caldwell

Bob Caldwell, a member of the naval history team at the Directorate of History and Heritage, Department of National Defence, sent me a message about his present research and writing activities. Bob is currently finishing a chapter on "The Canadian Navy in the Arabian Gulf 1991-2003", the Canadian contribution to the ABCA (American, British, Canadian, and Australian) project on each nation's naval experiences since the First Gulf War. After completing this work he will rejoin the naval history team, working on the post-Second World War history of the Royal Canadian Navy. His secondary interests haven't changed, and in his own time, Bob still researches and writes on Indian, Métis, Canadian militia, and European warfare in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. For example, his chapter on "Cut Knife Hill 1885", in Don Graves' (ed.), More Fighting for Canada (2004) has been well-received. Bob is also currently working on a review of the Canadian War Museum's exhibit "Clash of Empires" on the Seven Years' War for the Canadian Historical Association Newsletter.

23 August 2006

Webpage for 2008 Annual Meeting of the Society for Military History

Weber State University has set up a webpage for the 2008, repeat the 2008, Annual Meeting of the Society for Military History, scheduled to be held at the Ogden Eccles Conference Center in downtown Ogden, Utah, from 17-20 April 2008. The site notes that as "2008 approaches, more details will be posted on this site." There is, at the moment, no website for the 2007 Annual Meeting, to be held at the Francis Scott Key Conference Center, in Frederick, Maryland, by the Catoctin Center for Regional Studies at Frederick Community College from 19-22 April 2007.

22 August 2006

Fall/Winter 2006 Offerings from UBC Press

UBC Press has listed three news very interesting looking publications in its fall/winter 2006 catalogue: Grant Dawson, a Research Fellow at the Centre for Security and Defence Studies at Carleton University, has "Here is Hell": Canada's Engagement in Somalia coming out in November; Richard O. Mayne, an historian with the naval history team at the Directorate of History and Heritage, has Betrayed: Scandal, Politics, and Canadian Leadership (concerning the firing of Admiral Percy Nelles in 1944) coming out in October; and, P. Whitney Lackenbauer, Assistant Professor in the History Department at St. Jerome's History, has Battle Grounds: The Canadian Military and Aboriginal Lands coming out in November.

21 August 2006

The Canadian Letters and Images Project

I had an opportunity to take another look at the Canadian Letters and Images Project. As the "about us" page on the site notes, it is "an onlive archive of the Canadian war experience, from any war, as told through the letters and images of Canadians themselves. It began in August 2000, located in the Department of History at Malaspina University College. In November 2003 the Project was very pleased to bring in as partners the History Department at The University of Western Ontario. Students at Western will be working under the guidance of Dr. Jonathan Vance, Canada Research Chair in Conflict and Culture. This partnership between Malaspina and Western will ensure that more material can made to the public through the Project web site." This site has an incredible amount of documentation - letters, postcards, photographs, and so on - from Canadians serving before and during the World Wars, and after. This is potentially a useful research tool for various projects, but is also simply just an incredible - and continually growing - read.

17 August 2006

Terry Copp's upcoming "Cinderella Army"

The University of Toronto Press is advertising Terry Copp's upcoming part two of his comprehensive work on the First Canadian Army in Northwest Europe. Cinderella Army: The Canadians in Northwest Europe, 1944-1945 is due out in September 2006 and set out to continue the story from his "controversial and award-winning" 2003 Fields of Fire by providing a detailed examination of the last nine months of the Canadian formation's fighting in Northwest Europe.

15 August 2006

Tim Cook's latest article

Tim Cook, one of the historians at the Canadian War Museum, has continued his impressive run of publications on the First World War with an article in the latest issue of The Journal of Military History (vol. 70, no.3 (July 2006)). "The Politics of Surrender: Canadian Soldiers and the Killing of Prisoners in the Great War" is an excellent piece dealing with the troubling, yet very real, issue of German prisoners of war and their status during the First World War. I've found other examples of this subject matter in my own research on the 38th Battalion, CEF, during the war. In particular, the events surrounding the capture of seventy-seven Germans by Captain Thain Wendell MacDowell (for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross) and two runners during 9 April 1917 attack on Vimy Ridge pretty much ran the gamut of the difficulties of negotiating surrender which Tim writes about (although he does not use this particular example). When finished, this section of the 38th history will help show the tragedy and reality of war.

14 August 2006

More news from Robin Brass Studio

The Robin Brass Studio website is advertising for release in August 2006 Hugh Halliday's latest book on medals and decorations. His latest is "Valour Reconsidered: Inquiries into the Victoria Cross and Other Awards for Extreme Bravery" and examines how the British Empire's highest decoration for bravery has been awarded. I had an opportunity to read Hugh's manuscript, was very impressed, and look forward to the publication of the final product.

11 August 2006

New book from John Clearwater

John Clearwater has a new book coming out this October from the University of Calgary Press. Just Dummies: Cruise Missile Testing in Canada covers the political and military history surrounding the testing of cruise missiles in Canada from 1979 to 2000. John is eminently qualified to write such a history, having already researched and published extensively on the history of nuclear weapons in Canada.

Long absence

I would like to apologize, first of all, for my long absence from this blog. Between work and family life I simply hadn't been able to find the time to post entries. But, I'm back now.

A couple of weeks ago I continued my research on the history of the 38th Battalion, CEF, at the archives of the Canadian War Museum here in Ottawa. A few years back, when the archives were still located in the old bus terminal at Vimy House, I had thought that I'd finished with the research there. But, with the move to the new building, new material seems to have surfaced, or become more accessible, and Carol Reid, the chief archivist, is more than happy to show it to any researcher. There is also new archival material being received and catalogued all the time, and I found a handful of extremely useful items relating to the 38th which will be very useful. Carol and the rest of the staff at the museum's military history research centre and very friendly and helpful. If you give them enough notice that you'd like to make a visit to conduct research (always the right thing to do with an archives you've not been to before), they will pull material for you beforehand, ready for your arrival.

On the main page of the museum's website you will find a pull down menu in the upper right corner. Select "library catalogue" to take you to a page with the museum's online searchable database of books and documents. They've even added a search for newly-received items. This is an extremely useful resource and shows what a fascination and, I think, relatively unknown collection the war museum houses.