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Canada Remembers Times - 2018 Edition - Page 1

Canada remembers the Korean War

Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry soldiers on patrol in March 1951.
Photo: Library and Archives Canada PA-115564

The Korean War erupted on June 25, 1950, when forces from the north invaded the south. This ignited a major crisis in the place traditionally known as the “Land of the Morning Calm” and the United Nations voted to send a multinational force overseas to restore peace.

The Korean War was one of the most significant chapters in Canada’s military history and more than 26,000 Canadians would serve in the conflict. In the summer of 1950, Royal Canadian Navy destroyers began patrolling the waters off the Korean Peninsula while the Royal Canadian Air Force began flying transport runs between North America and Asia. The Canadian Army soon sent soldiers to take part in United Nations ground operations there and our men would see heavy action in places like Kapyong, Chail’li, Hill 355 and “the Hook” over the course of the conflict. It was dangerous duty and 516 Canadians sadly lost their lives in service.

The active fighting in Korea finally came to an end with the signing of the Armistice in Panmunjom on July 27, 1953. No peace treaty was signed to formally end the war, however, and tensions between North Korea and South Korea continued in the decades after the conflict.

This special year marks the 65th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice and our country salutes the achievements and sacrifice of the Canadians who served so bravely there.

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Canada’s Hundred Days: August 8 to November 11, 1918

Happy Canadian soldiers atop a tank after the Battle of Amiens in August 1918.
Photo: Library and Archives Canada PA-003022

The First World War of 1914-1918 is considered by many as a watershed event in Canadian history that helped mark our evolution into a truly independent country. Our soldiers played an impressive role in the conflict, capped by a series of great victories in the closing months of the fighting during the so-called “Hundred Days Offensive” in the late summer and fall of 1918.

On August 8, 1918, the Allies launched the Battle of Amiens in northern France, with the Canadians tasked with being at the spearhead of the attack. It was a great success with our soldiers leading a major breakthrough on what the German high commander called “the black day of the German Army.” The Allies seized the momentum and continued the pressure. The Canadian Corps would be called on again and again in the weeks and months that followed, with our soldiers courageously fighting their way through the Hindenburg Line, across the Canal du Nord and into Cambrai, before finding themselves in Mons, Belgium, on November 11, 1918—the day the Armistice that finally ended the fighting in the First World War went into effect.

The Canadians had helped break the stalemate of trench fighting on the Western Front that had lasted four bloody years. Their success came at a high price, however, with more than 6,800 of our soldiers being killed and approximately 39,000 more wounded during the final three months of the conflict. A century later, we still remember…

Lest we forget

Torontonians celebrating the Armistice.
Photo: City of Toronto Archives. Fonds 1244 Item 888

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, the First World War finally came to an end. It had been the largest conflict the world had ever seen up to that time and some nine million combatants-including more than 66,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders-sadly lost their lives.

November 11, 1918, was a day of great celebration and relief, but also a day for feelings of profound loss and grief. In our country and many others, people were left with a yearning to remember those who had fought and died. The following year saw the marking of the first Armistice Day and, over time, November 11th came to be known in Canada as Remembrance Day-a time for us to pause to honour all those who had served and died in the cause of peace and freedom. A century after the end of the First World War, how will you observe Remembrance Day 2018?

Canadian “Mountain Boys” in Sicily

Régiment de Trois-Rivières in Regalbuto, Sicily, on August 4, 1943.
Photo: Library and Archives Canada PA-170290

In the summer of 1943, the Allies were preparing a major amphibious landing in southern Europe. The attack, codenamed Operation Husky, was planned for the Italian island of Sicily. Italy was under the rule of dictator Benito Mussolini, and the country was aligned with Nazi Germany. The assault would be one of the largest seaborne operations in military history, involving nearly 3,000 Allied ships.

The operation had a rough start. Three ships carrying troops, vehicles, supplies and equipment from Great Britain were sunk by German U-boats and 58 Canadians lost their lives. Despite the setbacks, the Allies continued with their plan. Just before dawn on July 10, 1943, Canadian, British and American troops landed on a 120-kilometre stretch of the Sicilian coast. Over the weeks that followed, our men faced extreme conditions-dust filled the air and the summer heat was suffocating. The mountainous terrain gave the defending enemy forces the upper hand and often rendered military vehicles almost useless-our soldiers used donkeys to carry supplies through the hills. The Canadians trudged on, covering hundreds of kilometres of territory, proving their endurance and persistence. One German field marshal reportedly referred to them as “the Mountain Boys.”

By August 17, 1943, all of Sicily had been captured. The Mediterranean Sea was opened for Allied shipping, Mussolini was soon overthrown and the Italian government joined the Allies. Operation Husky was a success, but sadly more than 2,300 Canadians became casualties, including 562 who lost their lives.

Remembering John McCrae

Image: © Canada Post Corporation

Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae was a Canadian medical officer during the First World War and also a poet. In 1915, he penned In Flanders Fields the day after his close friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, was killed by an artillery shell. Sadly, McCrae later died from pneumonia on January 28, 1918. His moving poem has become one of the most quoted works about war and helped establish the poppy as a famous symbol of remembrance.

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