31 August 2009

McGill-Queen's University Press last three catalogues

The Fall 2008, Spring 2009 and Fall 2009 catalogues for the McGill-Queen's University Press are online, and include the following items of interest (either already published or to come in the next few months) to readers of Canadian military history:

Engen, Robert, Canadians Under Fire: Infantry Effectiveness in the Second World War (October 2009);

Heath, Gordon L., A War with a Silver Lining: Canadian Protestant Churches and the South African War, 1899-1902 (March 2009);

MacFarlane, John, Triquet's Cross: A Study of Military Heroism (September 2009);

Manning, Stephen, Quebec: The Story of Three Sieges: A Military History (September 2009); and

McMahon, Patricia I., Essence of Indecision: Diefenbaker's Nuclear Policy, 1957-1963 (May 2009).

26 August 2009

Latest New Books List at Library and Archives Canada

The August 2009 "New This Month" list is up on the Library and Archives Canada website, contains some new publications of interest to students of Canadian military history, including:

Caccia, Ivana, Managing the Canadian Mosaic in Wartime: Shaping Citizenship Policy, 1939-1945 (Montreal, 2010);

Courtois, Charles-Philippe (Comp.), La Conquête : une anthologie (Montréal, 2009);

Faryon, Cynthia J., Mysteries, Legends and Myths of the First World War: Canadian Soldiers in the Trenches and in the Air (Amazing Stories) (Toronto, 2009);

Horn, Bernd, No Ordinary Men: Special Operations Forces Missions in Afghanistan (Toronto, 2009);

Humphries, Mark Osborne and John Maker (Eds.), Germany's Western Front: Translations from the German Official History of the Great War, Volume II: 1915 (Waterloo, ON, 2009);

Mole, Rich, The Chilcotin War: A Tale of of Death and Reprisal (Surrey, BC, 2009); and

Naftel, William D., Wartime Halifax: The Photo History of a Canadian City at War, 1939-1945 (Halifax, 2009).

23 August 2009

Latest issues of The Canadian Army Journal

Volume 11, Numbers 2 and 3 (Summer and Fall 2008) and Volume 12, Number 1 (Spring 2009) of The Canadian Army Journal are available online since my last posting about this journal. In addition to a very interesting collection of articles and material on recent operations, these issues also contain some material of particular interest to students of Canadian military history, including:

Robert Engen, "Army Biography: Lieutenant-General Samuel Findlay Clark, CBE, CD";

T. Robert Fowler, "Courage and Reward in the War of 1812";

T. Robert Fowler, "Army Biography: Private Leo Major, DCM and Bar";

Major Andrew B. Godefroy, "Army Biography: The First 'Chief of Land Staff': Lieutenant-General Sir Edward Selby Smyth, KCMG";

Chris Manoukian, "The Canadian Rangers, 1947-1952: Canada's Arctic Defenders?"; and

LCol Ian McCulloch, "'A War of Machines' - A Re-Assessment of the Canadian Machine Gun Corps: Innocation or Tactical Expedient?".

19 August 2009

Parks Canada's "This Week in History"

Did you know that Parks Canada has a whole section on their website devoted to "This Week in History"? Several of the long list of stories are directly related to Canadian military history, including:

"American Forces Take Fort George";

"An Elite Canadian Corps: Samuel Steele and the Strathcona's Horse Regiment in South Africa";

"Canada and the Korean War";

"Canadians Join the Fight at Passchendaele";

"'Loud roared the dreadful thunder...': HMCS Haida;

"St. Joseph...the Military Siberia of Upper Canada";

and many, many more.

They may not be the most in-depth discussions of the topic at hand, but they certainly do qualify as honest-to-goodness attempts to educate Canadians about our collective history and that's what really matters.

Many thanks to Christopher Moore for blogging about this source.

13 August 2009

We won that war, didn't we?

Issues 10 (October 2008) and 11 (June 2009) of the War of 1812 Magazine have been published online, free for the taking. Articles include (and there's a lot more material on the website):

"A North Country Treasure - Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site";

Sandy Antal, "Remember the Raisin! Anatomy of a Demon Myth";

Robert Burnham and Ron McGuigan, "The Impeccable Timing of Sir George Brown";

Don Graves, "'Every Horror was committed with impunity...and not a man was punished!': Reflections on British Military Law and the Atrocities at Hampton in 1813"; and

David Curtis Skaggs, "The Making of a Major-Genera: The Politics of Command of the North West Army, 1812-13".

09 August 2009

The blog as commemorative / historical tool

In a very interesting series, Christopher Moore, over at Christopher Moore's Canadian History blog, has been "live-blogging the siege of Quebec + 250" since July 3. Each day he provides a narrative on the day's events in 1759 pertinent to the subject. In these narratives he quotes famous and the not-so-famous participants of the conflict, provides contextual text and sometimes adds extra material, such as book recommendations.

In addition to being quite interesting in and of itself - which it truly is - I wonder if others (myself included) would be capable of doing something similar in other areas of Canadian military history? What do you think?

07 August 2009

New Books, a Family Tree and a Flag

A bit of miscellany for this post.

The Spring 2009 catalogue for the UBC Press is out and contains three new publications of particular interest to students of Canadian military history:

Bennett, Y.A. (Ed.), Kiss the kids for dad, Don't forget to write: The Wartime Letters of George Timmins, 1916-18 (July 2009);
"Between 1916 and 1918, Lance-Corporal George Timmins, a British-born soldier who served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, wrote faithfully to his wife and children. Sixty-three letters and four fragments survived.

These letters tell the compelling story of a man who, while helping his fellow Canadians make history at Vimy, Lens, Passchendaele, and Amiens, used letters home to remain a presence in the lives of his wife and children, and who drew strength from his family to appreciate life's simple pleasures. Timmin's letters offer a rare glimpse into the experiences and relationships and the quiet heroism of ordinary soldiers on the Western Front."
Carroll, Michael K., Pearson's Peacekeepers: Canada and the United Nations Emergency Force, 1956-67 (May 2009):
"In 1957 Lester Pearson won the Nobel Peace Prize for creating the United Nations Emergency Force during the Suez Crisis. The award launched Canada's love affair with, and reputation for, peacekeeping. Pearson's Peacekeepers explores the reality behind the rhetoric by offering a detailed account of the UNEF's decade-long effort to keep peace along the Egyptian-Israeli border. The operation was a tremendous achievement, yet the UNEF also encountered formidable challenges and problems. This nuanced account of Canada's participation in the UNEF not only challenges received notions of Canadian identity and history but will also help students, policy makers, and concerned citizens to accurately evaluate international peacekeeping efforts in the present."
Shaw, Amy J., Crisis of Conscience: Conscientious Objection in Canada during the First World War (November 2008):
"The First World War's appalling death toll and the need for a sense of equality of sacrifice on the home front led to Canada's first experience of overseas conscription. While historians have focused on resistance to enforced military service in Quebec, this has obscured the important role of those who saw military service as incompatible with their religious or ethical beliefs. Crisis of Conscience is the first and only book about the Canadian pacifists who refused to fight in the Great War. The experience of these conscientious objectors offers insight into evolving attitudes about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship during a key period of Canadian nation building.

This book will appeal to readers interested in Canadian military and peace history. The book is also relevant to those concerned with questions of voluntarism and obligation in a democratic society, and issues of gender history and minority freedom and identity."
I'm particularly looking forward to seeing Bennett's book on George Timmins. I often find the thoughts of an "other rank" to be particularly insightful and the First World War is easily my favourite period of Canadian military history.

This past Wednesday, The Globe and Mail ran an obituary piece by Buzz Bourdon on the late Jean-Antoine de Lotbinière Panet. Talk about Canada's military heritage being wrapped up in one family. In general, the story of the Panet family isn't completely unknown, Jacques Gouin and Lucien Brault having written Les Panet de Québec : histoire d'une lignée militaire in 1984 (translated as Legacy of Honour: The Panets, Canada's foremost military family in 1985).

Finally, I've been holding onto the reference for a story from yourbarrhaven.com (Barrhaven is a suburb of Ottawa) since February. Titled "Algonquin students preserve Canadian history", the article describes how two Algonquin College museum studies students - Michelle Hunter and Meredith Thompson - were working on preserving a Royal Union Flag (Union Jack) and a Red Cross flag belonging to the Prince Edward Island Regimental Museum in Charlottetown. It appears both flags were flown by No. 2 Canadian Stationary Hospital (the first Canadian unit to serve on the continent during the First World War) in France. I'd love to know how things worked out with the preservation process. Très cool.

04 August 2009

A Thought on Archival Collections

I recently sent off an electronic resources piece to Mike Bechthold at Canadian Military History for the next issue on the archival catalogue for the Canadian War Museum archives. In the course of researching the piece I noticed a finding aid for their General Currie papers, and in it was the mention of two Currie items re the 38th Battalion, CEF. Now, I've been researching the history of the 38th for a long time now, and am well into writing the battalion's history, but here were two items I hadn't seen yet, even though I've been to the CWM archives a few times now. Makes me wonder what else I've missed. Even more problematic, it makes me wonder what else is out there that is relevant that I don't even know about. At the same time, if such concerns gain the upper hand, then an historian would never finish a project.

02 August 2009

This and That

First, the science. I've just finished reading Bill Bryson's 2003 A Short History of Nearly Everything, a history of science and scientists aimed decidedly at the non-scientist. It's pretty much intended as an overview of scientific accomplishments in fields ranging from astronomy to quantum physics to molecular biology. It's written in a popular tone, no particular scientific foreknowledge needed (thankfully, otherwise I'd never get through it with my Grade 10 science (I only took Physics after that). A very enjoyable and informative read.

What does it have to do with Canadian military history? Absolutely nothing. I try to force myself on occasion to read material way outside my norm. I find it helps keep my interests a little more balanced, and helps me try to get some other perspectives on my own work. What does Bryson's book do for me as a military historian, other than confirm that Canada's military heritage is extremely recent in the big picture? Well, for one thing, it revealed a pattern of narrative which I'd love to see mimiced by a Canadian military historian. We hear and read lots about how Canadians don't know their own history, including their military history. If there were a Canadian military history text along the narrative patterns of Bryson's work, I think we'd see a few more heads turned. This isn't a shot at any of the existing work, just an observation.

Now for something completely different, as they say.

The July 2009 new books list is out on the Library and Archives Canada website and has, as usual, some interesting new titles to announce, including:

Bercuson, David J., The Fighting Canadians: Our Regimental History from New France to Afghanistan (Toronto, 2009);

Engen, Robert C., Canadians Under Fire: Infantry Effectiveness in the Second World War (Montreal, 2009);

Hillier, Rick, A Soldier First: Bullets, Bureaucrats and the Politics of War (Toronto, 2009);

Inches, Cyrus F., Uncle Cy's War: The First World War Letters of Major Cyrus F. Inches (Fredericton, 2009); and

Vance, Jonathan F., Unlikely Soldiers: How two Canadians fought the Secret War against Nazi Occupation (Toronto, 2009).

From the titles alone, I'm quite interested in reading Engen's book on the infantry during the Second World War. I'll also be curious to see Hillier's memoirs, although as a civil servant I admit to cringing whenever I see "bureaucrat" and its usual negative connotations appear anywhere.

01 August 2009

Latest Issue of Canadian Military History

I've received and read the Spring 2009 issue (vol.18, no.2) of Canadian Military History from the good folks at the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. This issue includes the following articles:

Brennan, Patrick, "'Completely Worn Out by Service in France': Combat Stress and Breakdown among Senior Officers in the Canadian Corps";

Brown, Eric and Tim Cook, "The Hendershot Brothers in the Great War";

Evans, Ivor, "Comparison of British and American Areas in Normandy in terms of Fire Support and its Effects (AORG Report No.292);

Manulak, Michael W., "Equal Partners, Though Not of Equal Strength: The Military Diplomacy of General Charles Foulkes and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization";

Ridler, Jason S., "From Nagasaki to Toronto: Omond Solandt and the Defence Research Board's Early Vision of Atomic Warfare, 1945-1947"; and

Sarty, Roger and Bruce Ellis, "Connaught Battery and the Defence of the Atlantic Coast, 1906-1941".

I was particularly interested in Patrick Brennan's piece on combat stress amongst the senior leaders of the Canadian Corps. (This is not a comment on the other articles, just a reflection of my particular myopic interests). Study senior personnel and staff officers long enough and it's often apparent that the effects of war can be just as psychologically damaging to them as to other, more continuously "front line" personnel, even if the opportunities for physical injury are less common. Within my own research on the 38th Battalion, CEF, I've long found it amazing that Lieutenant-Colonel Cameron Macpherson Edwards, commanding officer of the 38th, lasted as long as he did. He took over the reins of the battalion in Canada in January 1915 and commanded the 38th in the field from its deployment in August 1916 to September 1918 (less time wounded, on leave, or acting as brigadier), by which time he was 37 years old. On the other hand, Major Thain Wendell MacDowell, one of Canada's Victoria Cross recipients, did not fare as well psychologically, his war ending in 1917 when battlefield trauma accumulated beyond the breaking point.

Unfortunately, there was no "electronic resources" piece by me in this edition of CMH. That was my fault, as I simply did not get someting submitted in time. I should make the next issue.

Oh, by the way, many thanks for the e-mails I've received since my last post welcoming me back and offering assistance.