27 January 2010

5th Windsor Military Studies Conference

I've received a release concerning the 5th Windsor Military Studies Conference, which will take place at the Major F.A. Tilston VC Armoury, 4007 Sandwich Street, Windsor, Ontario, on 5-6 February 2010. Papers scheduled to be presented include:

Captain (N) Serge C. Bertrand, "Naval Operations in the 21st Century";

Terry Copp, "In the Forests of the Night: The Essex Scottish in the Rhineland, February 1945";

Michelle Fowler, "Remembering the Wrens: The Diary of Marion Swinton, WRCNS";

Peter Kikkert, "Flying the Flag and Sharing Whiskey: The Role of the Canadian Navy in the Arctic, 1945-2010";

Sean Maloney, "The Mechs: Operation Timus Preem, Zhari District, Afghanistan, August 2008"; and

Roger Sarty, "A Uniquely Canadian Battle: The RCN and the RCAF's Defeat of the U-Boat Offensive in the St. Lawrence, 1942-4".

To pre-register, please contact hrgmail@uwindsor.ca or call 519-253-3000 ext 3506.

25 January 2010

Latest issue of Canadian Military Journal

The volume 10, number 1 (2009) issue of the Canadian Military Journal is now available online. This issue contains the following items of particular interest to readers of Canadian military history, including:

Larry Aitken, "'First we hold our noses, then we seek justice': The Application of the Soft Approach in the Chapter VII Operations Conducted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo";

John R. Grodzinski, "The Use and Abuse of Battle: Vimy Ridge and the Great War over the History of the First World War";

Craig Leslie Mantle and Lieutenant-Colonel Larry Zaporzan, "The Leadershio of S.V. Radley-Walters: The Normandy Campaign Part Two"; and

Matthew Trudgen, "Do we want 'Buckets of Instant Sunshine'?: Canada and Nuclear Weapons 1945-1984";

as well as several book reviews of interest.

23 January 2010

Scott Sheffield presentation at Univ of Fraser Valley

Dr. Scott Sheffield, Department of History, University of Fraser Valley, will be making a presentation at the University of the Fraser Valley's Abbotsford campus, Room B121, on Wednesday, 27 January 2010, at 1900 hours, titled "Mobilizing Indigeneity: Comparing Settler Societies and Indigenous Participation in the Second World War". The press release notes:
The Indigenous warrior has long captivated the imaginations of Western societies. As 'vicious savages' impeding the march of civilization of loyal allies fighting alongside imperial powers/noble settlers, the be-feathered North American Indian, fierce Maori, and elusive Aborigine have become entrenched in the popular consciousness of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. Although pre-war indigenous-settler relationships differed substantially, each Aboriginal population responded when war broke out in 1939 by declaring their support and volunteering to serve. Thousands of Aborigines, First Nations, Maori and Native Americans fought overseas, while on the home front, their families, communities and leadership offered labour, voluntary, monetary and symbolic aid to national war efforts.

Governments that had been working for decades to undermine the cultural vitality and identity of indigenous peoples would, in the exigencies of wartime, explicitly seek to utilize perceived indigenous attributes, languages, knowledge and bushcraft for the national war effort. Whether drawing on 'marital [sic?] race' concepts to support organisation of segregated indigenous units like the 28th (Maori) Battalion, formally or informally using indigenous knowledge of remote regions threatened by attack in Northern Australia or Alaska, indigeneity was enlisted for the Allied cause. Examining such processes in comparative perspective can tell us a great deal about these historical processes, both in the startling similarities across the four countries, and via their clear differences.

21 January 2010

"The Past is Not Yet Written" Conference

The History and Classics Graduate Students Association, University of Alberta, is hosting a conference entitled "The Past is Not Yet Written: Innovative Approaches and New Ideas in Historical Research" on 5-6 March 2010 at the U of A. Originally, the conference's focus was to have been restricted to "the application of quantitative methods", but has since been expanded to "innovative approaches and new ideas in historical research", i.e. they are "seeking papers from a broad spectrum addressing different approaches to historical research from all time periods and geographical regions. Papers may address any subject matter as it is the method of approach that is of importance, not the specific subject matter." This call for papers goes until 31 January 2010 and proposals should be submitted to conference.hcgsa@gmail.com. For further information, contact Ian Thompson or Rylan Kafara at the same e-mail address.

19 January 2010

Library and Archives Canada and Historians

Terry Cook, Clio Consulting and Archival Studies Program at the University of Manitoba, and under contract with Library and Archives Canada, has posted on H-Canada a request for the input of historians which is being "sought on the current and future relationship of Library and Archives Canada with the Canadian historical research community. Input is invited from academic historians, graduate students, public historians, and professional researchers." (Why the distinctions - how about simply "historical researchers"?). This survey is part of series of "dialogues with key stakeholders about the role of Library and Archives Canada with Daniel J. Caron, Librarian and Archivist of Canada. The series of question in the survey can be found in English and in France.

16 January 2010

My Newest Blog

A bit of self-promotion today. I've recently started a new blog, "Colonel Edwards' Army: A History of the 38th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914 to 1919". It's no secret that I've been researching and writing a full-length history of the 38th for some years now and already have another blog, "Soldiers of the 38th", concerned with the individual members of the unit.

That said, I've been increasingly interested of late in the concept of "live-blogging", i.e. blogging the description of an historical event at the pace at which it originally unfolded. In this case, my intention is to do so ninety-five years after the fact (1915 in 2010, 1916 in 2011, etc., for example, 9 April 1917 on 9 April 2012). In the case of my new project, I've already posted an introduction and information for the December 1914 history of the 38th. During the next couple of weeks I'll post on January 1915. Essentially, this is a distribution of the text I've researched and written for the book in blog form as a type of working history. Initially, the 95-year gap won't be covered daily, but weekly or monthly. Until the battalion actually reached France and Flanders it isn't really possible to write about its history on a daily basis. Expect the history from January 1915 through mid-August 1916 (when the 38th arrives in France) to be issued as a weekly post, after that daily.

Why do this? First of all, because I'm eager to have the results of my research and writing get out there. Is a published book some years from now the only means to do this? I don't think so. Do I hope to have the final product published in the future? Absolutely. My second reason is my conviction that a retelling of the 38th's story on a daily basis (from 13 August 1916 / 13 August 2011) will add a totally different dimension to the story. CEF units did not spend their entire "lives" in the front line trenches. There were periods of sheer boredom, never-ending training, and attempts to rest, recover and reinforce - periods far more numerous in days spent than the nightmare that was combat during the war.

Sure, it's an experiment. And I hope it works. Let me know what you think.

15 January 2010

Alberta Family Histories Society's CEF Nominal Rolls

The Alberta Family Histories Society has placed an interesting resource on their website, specifically the nominal rolls of the 50th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, as well as those for the 3rd, 12th and 13th Regiments, CEF. As the site notes, these were compiled "by AFHS member Lt Col W. van der Schee and were published by the AFHS in two volumes in 1994." The published versions of the rolls are still available for purchase via the site. Visitors to the site search the rolls first by choosing the first letter of the individual's surname, which leads to an alphabetized chart - integrating all four units - and containing the information found in the original nominal rolls as printed by the Department of Militia and Defence during the First World War.

13 January 2010

Historic films at the National Film Board

Looking for something in the audio-visual realm for your Canadian military history fix? Well, the National Film Board has more than 1,400 films available online, with a comprehensive search ability incorporated in the site. Just one example, on this site you can watch the 1964 film "Fields of Sacrifice" by Donald Brittain. The description notes: "This 1964 documentary returns to the battlefields where over 100,000 Canadian soldiers lost their lives in the First and Second World Wars. The film also visits cemeteries where servicemen are buried. Filmed from Hong Kong to Sicily, this documentary is designed to show Canadians places they have reason to know but may not be able to visit. Produced for the Canadian Department of Veteran Affairs by the renowned documentary filmmaker Donald Brittain."

11 January 2010

Laurier Centre's Winter Speakers' Series

The Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies has posted its winter speakers' series line-up. Each of the following lectures (and the presentations yet to be confirmed) will take place at the Centre, on 232 King Street North in Waterloo, Ontario:

Thursday, 14 January, 1900 hours, Captain Timothy C. Winegard, University of Oxford, on "And Death Shall Have No Dominion: Indigenous Peoples of the British Dominions and the First World War";
His talk continues with the theme of First Nations and military interaction by comparing the capricious and racially motivated policies concerning, and participation of, the Indigenous Peoples of the Dominions - Canada, Australia, Newfoundland, New Zealand and South Africa - during the First World War.
Thursday, 11 February, 1900 hours, Dr. Andrew Iarocci, "Mechanizing Mars: Transport and Logistics in the First World War";
This talk will give an overview of the tactical uses of mechanical transport during the First World War, with a focus on the integration of motor and light rail transport with traditional animal transport in the Canadian and British forces. The discussion is based on research for an upcoming book on transport in the First World War.
Thursday, 25 February, 1900 hours, Dr. Tim Cook, Canadian War Museum, "'Always Look on the Bright Side of Strife': Humour and the Canadian Great War Soldier";
This talk examines Canadian Great War soldiers' humour. Laughter, jokes, pranks, and merriment are not usually associated with the trench warfare experience. Yet this army of young men, drawn from civilian society, turned to humour as a means to cope with the strain of war. Soldiers' humour also helped to make sense of the war and shape questions of identity and culture.
Thursday, 11 March, 1900 hours, Lieutenant-Colonel John Conrad, Canadian Forces College, "Merlin's Laugh: Canadian Combat Logistics in Afghanistan 2006";
Kandahar Province, Afghanistan - an unfamiliar, non-linear battle space; a battlefield that can pass as a post card where conducting routine logistics is always a combat operation. An entire generation of military leadership is being schooled in the sands of southern Afghanistan. We are only beginning to appreciate the depth of the lessons we are learning. This presentation will share with the attendees many of the hard-earned logistics lessons we have learned, where we have stumbled what we have been doing right all along. This presentation will describe the logistics preparations for Canada's return to sustained combat operations in Kandahar Province in the winter of 2006 - the first sustained combat mission since the Korean War.
Thursday, 1 April, 1900 hours, David Kielstra, Wilfrid Laurier University, "Peacekeeping under Fire: Canada and the United Nations Mission in Cyprus, 1964-1974";
This talk will focus on Canada's peacekeeping mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) which became Canada's longest-serving overseas deployment. The focus will be on the strategic threat that instability in Cyprus had for the NATO alliance, with particular attention paid to the 1974 crisis that put Canadian peacekeepers on the front lines of a war-zone when the island was abruptly invaded. Canadian actions under-fire played a critical role in helping UNFICYP secure key assets, protect civilians, and maintain cease-fires to ease tensions. Canada's decision to augment its peacekeepers by doubling reinforcements and adding offensive weapons also signals a shift towards a more activist foreign policy for the Trudeau government.
Thursday, 15 April, 1900 hours, Lieutenant-Colonel Angelo Caravaggio, Canadian Forces College, "21 Days in Normandy: A Reassessment of the Actions of 4th Canadian Armoured Division and Major-General George Kitching";
To date the assessments of the actions of 4th Canadian Armoured Division and those of its commander Major-General Kitching have been consistently poor. Using war diaries and operations logs this presentation will look at how operational and administrative decisions made in the planning of OVERLORD significantly curtailed Kitching's ability to train his division for the coming battles.
For further information, etc., contact Mike Bechthold at mbechthold@wlu.ca or 519-884-0710 ext 4594.

09 January 2010

Niagara Military Museum finally gets a home

Corey Larocque, over at The Niagara Falls Review, has written a piece for that paper on the decision to allow the Niagara Military Museum "after a decade of trying to storm the gates of the Victoria Avenue armoury." The century-old building was declared surplus by the Department of National Defence and later purchased by the City of Niagara Falls. The Niagara Military Museum is to be given three rooms in the building to display its collection consisting "of artifacts that have been collected over the years by Niagara residents with an interest in military history." Larocque further writes: "The museum is a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to commemorating both the military history that has occurred in Niagara and the wartime exploits of people from Niagara who fought in Canada's overseas conflicts, especially the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War."

(photo courtesy of The Niagara Falls Review)

07 January 2010

Presentation on Canadians in the British Army

Major Andrew Godefroy, PhD, currently a visiting research fellow, the The University of Oxford's Programme on the Changing Character of War, will be making a presentation (Military History seminar) on Wednesday, 27 January 2010 titled "Canadians on Campaign: Officer Recruitment, Command, and Legacy in the Victorian British Army". The press release notes:
This lecture challenges traditional assessments of the evolution of professionalism within Canada's army during the nineteenth century through an examination of the War Office's deliberate recruitment of Canadian officers into the British Army during the late Victorian era. Specifically, it examines the recruitment, command appointments, and most important, the intellectual and institutional legacy created by these officers that had as much an impact on the future of the British Army as it did on the Canadian Army. Finally, through specific case studies, the issues of nationalism, ways of warfare, and schools of strategic and tactical thought will also be addressed.
The challenge? It's at the University of Oxford (1715 hours, Wharton Room, All Souls College). But, if you can make it, I'd sure it'd be well worth the effort.

05 January 2010

Latest issue of The Canadian Army Journal

The latest issue of The Canadian Army Journal (volume 12, no.2, Summer 2009) has been published and is available online. As usual, this issue contains some material of direct interest to readers of Canadian military history (as well as lots of other items worthy of reading), including:

Chris Graham, "The Legacy of Major-General James Wolfe: Battlefield Leadership and the Defeat of the French Empire in North America";

Sergeant Kurt Grant, "Biography - Lieutenant Herbert Wesley McBride, MM";

Lawren Phillips Harris, "The Art of War - Major-General J.H. Roberts, CB, DSO, MC, CD (1891-1962)";

as well as several book reviews of note.

I'd also like to congratulate Sergeant Kurt Grant, former colleague at the Directorate of History and Heritage, for his appointment to the journal's staff.

03 January 2010

Index of Manitoba History

Among the many good works the folks at The Manitoba Historical Society are busy performing in support of the historical is the publishing of the journal Manitoba History. This journal recently saw the publication of its 62nd number (for Winter 2009). In fact, the tables of contents for the entire series (from No.1 in 1981), as well as many of the earlier articles within, are online at the society's website. A review of these issues for articles on Canadian military history has revealed the following:

anonymous, "National Commemoration for Hangar No.1 of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, Brandon, Manitoba", No.51 (February 2006);

Marilyn Baker, "Remembrances of the Great War: The Next-of-Kin Monument in Winnipeg", No.2 (1981);

Michael Bumsted, "From the Red to the Nile: William Nassau Kennedy and the Manitoba Contingent of Voyageurs in the Gordon Relief Expedition, 1884-1885", No.42 (Autumn/Winter 2001-2002);

George Buri, "'Enemies Within Our Gates': Brandon's Alien Detention Centre during the Great War", No.56 (October 2007);

Sarah Carter, "'An Infamous Proposal': Prairie Indian Reserve Land and Soldier Settlement after World War I", No.37 (Spring/Summer 1999);

Ken Coates, "Western Manitoba and the 1885 Rebellion", No.20 (1990);

Robert Coutts, "An Interview with World War I Veteran, Evan Wales Morgan", No.33 (Spring 1997);

Jack Dunn, "The Biggest Day Winnipeg Has Ever Seen: The Northwest Field Force Returns from the Front", No.43 (Spring/Summer 2002);

Gordon Fulton, "Roads of Remembrance", No.31 (Spring 1996);

Phillip R. Giffin, "A Family Memoir: The Men of #2 Company, Princess Patricia [sic] Canadian Light Infantry, 1915", No.53 (October 2006);

Uduak Idiong, "The Third Force: Returned Soldiers in the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919", No.34 (Autumn 1997);

Larry Laliberte, "The 1870 Wolseley Expedition Route", No.52 (June 2006);

Graham MacDonald, "Rachmaninoff in Winnipeg: The Band of the Princess Patricia's Regiment Meets a Russian Master", No.40 (Autumn/Winter 2000-2001);

John Selwood, "A Note on the Destruction of Upper Fort Garry", No.4 (1982);

Jim Suderman, "The Number One Armored Train", No.19 (1990);

Ruth Swan, "'Unequal Justice': The Metis in O'Donoghue's Raid of 1871", No.39 (Spring/Summer 2000); and

Bill Waiser, "Riding Mountain POWs: The Teacher's Tale", No.61 (Fall 2009).

01 January 2010

New Books list from Library and Archives Canada

Library and Archives Canada has posted its New Books list for December 2009, and it contains a few items of interest to readers of Canadian military history, including the following:

Ted Barris, Deadlock in Korea: Canadians at War, 1950-1953 (Toronto, 2010);

John Boileau, Halifax and the Royal Canadian Navy (Halifax, 2010);

Shawn S. Doyle, Grandpa's War [Royal Canadian Air Force] (Renfrew, ON, 2009);

Sébastien Vincent, Ils ont écrit la guerre [récits personnels canadiens de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale] (Montréal, 2010);

James A. Wood, Militia Myths: Canadian Ideas of the Citizen Soldier, 1896-1921 (Vancouver, 2010);