30 August 2007

Latest issue of The Canadian Army Journal

Volume 10, number 2 (Summer 2007) of The Canadian Army Journal / Le Journal de l'Armée du Canada (www.army.forces.gc.ca/caj) is out and contains one item of interest to Canadian military history (there are a few items of recent events, too), including Lieutenant-Colonel Shane B. Schreiber's "The Road to Hell Part 2: Canada in Vietnam, 1954-1973" / <<>> and several book reviews.

27 August 2007

The CEF Paper Trail

Brett Payne, a stalwart member of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) Study Group (www.cefresearch.com/phpBB2/index.php) and historian of the Canadian Machine Gun Corps, CEF, operates an extremely useful and interesting website called "The C.E.F. Paper Trail: An Unofficial Guide to the Official Canadian Army Service Records from The Great War" (freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~brett/cef/cefpapertrail.html#top).

To quote the site:
"The first phase of this project has involved the collating of examples of each type of document found in a soldier's World War 1 Canadian Expeditionary Force Service Records. Here you will find a preliminary selection, and I would like to encourage other researchers to contribute more. The guide designed partly to show prospective researchers what they can expect to find in a soldiers' service records, and partly to answer questions that I have had from fellow researchers wanting to know how they, too, can find out more of their particular soldier's military service."

The website includes detailed descriptions of the various types of documentation, as well as scans of actual paperwork. Types of documents covered include attestation records, discharge records, miscellaneous service records, medical records, pay records, and other commonly found documents (like passes and tickets). On the surface you might think this is not the most exciting content to read about. However, you'd be wrong, as an understanding of these records are absolutely necessary when trying to piece together an individual soldier's career during the First World War.

Brett welcomes "constructive comments, suggestions and contributions" to the site and can be e-mailed at bpayne@xtra.co.nz.

24 August 2007

Fall 2007 catalogue for Vanwell Publishing Limited

Vanwell Publishing Limited has mailed out its Fall 2007 catalogue of current, new and upcoming books in Canadian military history. Among the highlights are:

Alan Bennett, Captain Roy Brown: The definitive biography, including his encounter with the Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen (available Fall 2007);

Keith Butterley and Ken Macpherson, River Class Destroyers of the Royal Canadian Navy, 2nd edition (Fall 2007);

Eric McGeer, Valediction and Remembrance: Canadian Epitaphs of the Second World War (November 2007);

John Nelson Rickard, The Politics of Command: Lieutenant-General Andrew McNaughton and the Canadian Army, 1939-1943 (Fall 2007);

John Sliz, The Storm Boat Kings: The 23rd RCE at Arnhem (Fall 2007);

Eric Smylie, Lord Kitchener's Americans: The American Legion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1915-1919 (Fall 2007); and

Brian Tibbs, They Did Not Return: Honours St. Catharines Soldiers, 1939-1945 (November 2007).

22 August 2007

Canadian Historical Review's latest recent publications list

The latest issue of the Canadian Historical Review (volume 88, no 2, June 2007) mentions several recently-published books and articles in its "Recent Publications Relating to Canada" with respect to Canadian military history. This list includes:

Serge Bernier, "La guerre froide et l'intervention canadienne en Corée", Cap-aux-Diamants, 84 (2006): 40-43;

Aimé-Jules Bizimana, "Les règlements militaires canadiens pour la presse durant la second Guerre Mondiale", Bulletin d'histoire politique, 14, no. 2 (2006): 199-203;

Elizabeth Domm, "Called to Duty: Medical and Nursing Care in Saskatoon and Moose Jaw during the North-West Rebellion", Saskatchewan History, vol. 58, no. 2 (2006): 15-23;

R.B. Fleming (Ed.), The Wartime Letters of Leslie and Cecil Frost, 1915-1919 (Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2007);

Robert J. Harding, "Glorious Tragedy: Newfoundland's Cultural Memory of the Attack at Beaumont Hamel, 1916-1925", Newfoundland and Labrador Studies, vol. 21, no. 1 (2006): 3-40;

Michael Hayden, "Why Are All Those Names on the Wall? The University of Saskatchewan and World War I", Saskatchewan History, vol. 58, no. 2 (2006): 4-14;

P. Whitney Lackenbauer, "'Of practically no use to anyone': Situating a Rifle Range on the Fort William Indian Reserve, 1905-1914", Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society Papers and Records, vol. 34 (2006): 3-28;

Bill Manning, "Showcasing the Military Aviation Uniform Collection at the Canadian Aviation Museum", Material Culture Review, vol. 63 (2006): 56-79;

Anthony P. Michel, "To Represent the Country in Egypt: Aboriginality, Britishness, Anglophone Canadian Identities, and the Nile Voyageur Contingent, 1884-1885", Histoire social/Social History, vol. 39, no. 77 (2006): 45-77;

Sean Mills, "French Canadians and the Beginning of the War of 1812: Revisiting the Lachine Riot", Histoire sociale/Social History, vol. 38, no. 75 (2005): 37-58;

Tamara Myers and Mary Anne Poutanen, "Cadets, Curfews, and Compulsory Schooling: Mobilizing Anglophone Children in World War II Montreal", Histoire social/Social History, vol. 38, no. 76 (2005): 367-398;

J. Andrew Ross, "The Paradox of Conn Smythe: Hockey, Memory, and the Second World War", Sport History Review, vol. 37, no. 1 (2006): 19-35; and

Andrew Theobald, "A Study of an Ontario Canadian Officers' Training Corps Contingent, 1939-1945", Ontario History, vol. 98, no. 1 (2006): 52-67.

18 August 2007

New Books at Library and Archives Canada

Library and Archives Canada (www.collectionscanada.ca) has released its new books lists for June and July 2007. The lists include the following items of interest (including some that have not yet been released for sale) with respect to Canadian military history:

Carl Benn, Fort York: A Short History and Guide (Toronto, 2007);

Serge Bernier, et.al., Québec, ville militaire, 1608-2008 (Montréal, 2007);

Mike Bitten, Delta-T: A History of Training Development in the Canadian Forces (Kingston, 2007);

Christie Blatchford, Fifteen Days: Stories of Bravery, Friendship, Life and Death from inside the new Canadian Army (Toronto, 2007);

N.M. Christie, Other Canadian Battlefields of the Great War, 1916-17: Festubert, Givenchy, St. Eloi and Hill 70 (Ottawa, 2007);

Liane Faulder, The Long Walk Home: Paul Franklin's Journey Home from Afghanistan (Edmonton, 2007);

Curtis Forsey, Grand Bank Soldier: The War Letters of Lance Corporal Curtis Forsey (St. John's, 2007);

Nathan M. Greenfield, Baptism of Fire: The Second Battle of Ypres and the Forging of Canada, April 1915 (Toronto, 2007);

Bernd Horn (Ed.), The Buck Stops Here: Senior Military Commanders on Operations (Kingston, 2007);

Bernd Horn and Craig Leslie Mantle (Eds.), Neither Art, Nor Science: Selected Canadian Military Leadership Profiles (Winnipeg, 2007);

A.J.B. Johnston, Endgame 1758: The Promise, the Glory, and the Despair of Louisbourg's Last Decade (Sydney, NS, 2008);

Larry Milberry, Canada's Air Forces on Exchange (Toronto, 2007);

Martin Petit, Quand les cons sont braves : mon parcours dans l'Armée canadienne (Montréal, 2007); and

Cynthia Toman, An Officer and a Lady: Canadian Military Nursing and the Second World War (Vancouver, 2007).

16 August 2007

Book review of T.F.J. Leversedge's Canadian Combat and Support Aircraft: A Military Compendium

This review, my latest of a recent Vanwell Publishing Limited release, is for T.F.J. Leversedge's Canadian Combat and Support Aircraft: A Military Compendium (Vanwell, 2007). There's no point in pulling any punches here, I think this has to be considered the reference tool for anyone interested in knowing what aircraft Canadian military personnel have flown over the past century. Nearly 300 aircraft are covered in this compendium - fighters, transport aircraft, bombers, trainers, helicopters, gliders, floatplanes, unmanned vehicles, etc., etc. These aircraft are broken down into four main categories of use in the Canadian context: aircraft on strength of the Canadian Forces or its predecessors; Canadian Forces' aircraft ordered, but not yet in service; non-Canadian Forces aircraft flown by Canadians during training, testing, or other military missions; and, non-Canadian aircraft flown by Canadians in operations or combat missions with foreign air forces.

Leversedge begins the book with a brief, yet interesting, history of "the military air services of Canada". This introduces the reader to the beginnings of military aviation in Canada in 1909, the comic existence of the Canadian Aviation Corps in 1914-15, before turning to the work of the Royal Flying Corps in Canada in 1917-18. The late-war creation of the Royal Canadian Naval Air Service and the first Canadian Air Force (1918-20) round out the early coverage of the subject. The author then turns to the creation of the second Canadian Air Force (1920-23) and its transformation and operations as the Royal Canadian Air Force (1924-68). As part of the latter subject, Leversedge covers the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, the Home War Establishment, the air force overseas, and "Tiger Force" in the Pacific. The rise of the functional commands in the 1950s and No. 1 Air Division in Europe are also discussed, as is aviation in the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Army. Finally, he writes about the air force as it has existed since Unification in 1968, up to and including Canada's recent air activities in Afghanistan.

The first reference section - on aircraft on strength with the Canadian Forces - is, by far, the largest and covers and incredibly wide array of aircraft. Some of these were "one-offs", single aircraft purchased for one reason or another, while others were employed in the thousands. In the 1920s and 1930s the Royal Canadian Air Force flew a dozen Armstrong Whitworth Siskins, a state of the art fighter design at the time of their purchase. The Avro Anson, a two-engined trainer, was integral to Second World War training, and the air force flew more than 4,400 of them - the largest number of a single aircraft type ever operated by the Canadian military. Some aircraft in this category - such as the Avro Lancaster, the North American Mitchell, and the North American Mustang - represent post-Second World War usage of aircraft on the strength of the Royal Canadian Air Force often only thought of being used overseas during the war. Others, like the mail-carrying version of the Boeing Flying Fortress flown by No. 168 Squadron, fulfilled roles unfamiliar to many of us. The Canadair Silver Star stands out as the aircraft with the longest flying record in the Canadian military - fifty-two years between 1953 and 2005 when the last aircraft was retired. Perhaps in a few years this record may be surpassed by the Lockheed Hercules (1960-) or the Sikorsky Sea King (1961-). Many of these aircraft - particularly the floatplanes and trainers - are quite unfamiliar and to have images and text on these is very informative.

The next category are those aircraft ordered by Canadian Forces, but not yet in service. First on this list is the Boeing C-17 Globemaster, the first of which has just arrived in Canada for work-up training. Other aircraft in this category are updated versions of existing (Lockheed Martin Hercules) or previously-employed (Boeing Chinook) aircraft in use by the Canadian Forces.

This third category are non-Canadian Forces aircraft flown by Canadians during training, testing, or other military missions. This includes a wide range of circumstances, from the Avro Arrow tested by the Canadian military, to numerous fixed-wing and rotary-wing trainers, to the experimental Silver Dart which began it all in 1909.

The final category Leversedge discusses are non-Canadian Forces' aircraft flown by Canadians in operations or combat missions with foreign air forces. This covers familiar aircraft not on the strength of the Royal Canadian Air Force or Canadian Forces (for example, NATO's Boeing E-3 Sentry) as well as several aircraft flown by Canadians while on exchange with the United States Air Force or Royal Air Force, for example the British Aerospace Tornado, Grumman Hellcat, and the Vought Corsair.

Leversedge finishes the book with entries on a couple of airships flown in Canada as well as a section on missiles and remotely piloted vehicles, including the well-known Boeing Bomarc and the not-so-well-known SAGEM Sperwer unmanned aerial vehicle recently used in operations over Afghanistan.

Overall, this is an excellent reference tool, a book that will stay front and centre on my bookshelf for use many years into the future.