On this day in 1939 the 15th (Vancouver) Coast Brigade, RCA was called out on service for local protection duties.
Newsletter on line. This newsletter, and previous editions, are available on the RUSI Vancouver website at: http://www.rusivancouver.ca/newsletter.html
The 15 Field Officers Mess holds weekly lunches, serving a 5 course, ‘homemade’ meal for only $15- you won’t find a better meal - or a better deal, anywhere. If you are in the area on a Wednesday, drop in and join us for lunch.
Note: A contractor will be coming in to remove asbestos tiles from the bar area. This may mean that lunches might be cancelled for one Wednesday. We don’t have an exact date for the start of this project yet, so watch for notices from us.
In preparation for this project the Mess cleared out all stock and basic equipment from the bar and we were informed it couldn’t be used until the project is completed. We can’t legally sell any wine, spirits or beer but patrons may bring their own wine and pay a corkage charge to the Mess. For those of you who don’t bring wine we will have a bar set up to sell lunch tickets and a small selection of pop and juices with glasses and ice. We hope you will come out and support our efforts.
Canada’s Foreign Policy and the Federal Election 2015
a Panel Discussion presented by RUSI Vancouver & Canadian International Council – See notice at end of newsletter.
World War 2 - 1940
John Thompson Strategic analyst quotes from his book “Spirit Over Steel”
Aug 20th: Mao orders a major guerrilla offensive against Japanese (however, the effort is tokenism, designed to enhance Mao’s credibility). Churchill gives his famous praise to the RAF’s fighter pilots: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”; and fortunately for the exhausted few, several days of bad weather have just rolled in.
August 21st: Leon Trotsky is assassinated in Mexico, having been hunted by Stalin’s minions for many years.
Aug 24th: After a pause due to bad weather, the Luftwaffe returns with new close fighter escort tactics that make it harder for the RAF fighters to get at the bombers; and night bombing is tried with the result that South London is bombed despite specific orders to the contrary. However, the main focus of the Luftwaffe is on the attrition of British fighter strength. The day’s aerial losses amount to 38:22 in the RAF’s favour.
Aug 25th: The new Luftwaffe tactics are causing unfavorable losses for the RAF, which only gets 20 German aircraft for 16 losses of their own; but the RAF bombs Berlin “this night with 81 bombers – greatly embarrassing the Nazi leadership.
Aug 26th: German raids hit Portsmouth and three RAF bases, losing 45 aircraft to 31 RAF fighters.
The Spies Who Betrayed Canada
Seventy years after the disaster at Dieppe, Erol Araf tells how three German agents warned Hitler that the Canadians were coming. EROL ARAF, NATIONAL POST | AUGUST 20, 2013
As the smoke cleared over the beaches of Dieppe 70 years ago, and the magnitude over the previous day’s German victory over the Canadian raiding force became clear, there was tremendous disappointment in London, agony in Ottawa, but no particular surprise in Berlin. Almost six weeks earlier, on July 9, 1942, Adolf Hitler had predicted with uncanny accuracy that Canadians were preparing to land on the French shores to relive German pressure on the Soviet Union in the east. Harping on his great military accomplishments, Hitler declared, “England may be faced with the choice either of immediately mounting a major landing in order to create a Second Front or losing Soviet Russia as a political and military factor.” He then stated that the landings would take place “in the area between Dieppe and Le Havre and Normandy.”
How could the Nazi leader have foretold what was to happen on Aug. 19, 1942? Unfortunately, not only was Hitler listening to transatlantic telephone conversations between British prime minister Winston Churchill and US president Franklin D Roosevelt, he also had three spies collecting information about the ultimate destination of the Allied armada. Contrary to Guy Liddell’s assertions that he controlled German spies operating in Britain, several had eluded the clutches of the counterintelligence B Section at MI-5. As David Alan Johnson wrote in Righteous Deception: German Officers Against Hitler, both Churchill and Roosevelt thought that their top secret transatlantic telephone exchanges were secure. Alas, they were wrong. The scrambler the Allies used was a system called A-3, developed by Bell Telephone. Its radio frequency was altered constantly and even if the Germans were to tap into the line, they would not be able to decipher the conversation. But German intelligence not only bugged the line, they also developed countermeasures to unscramble the device. “Technicians at Philips Electronics in Eindhoven, Netherlands,” wrote Johnson, “discovered how A-3 worked, and how to manipulate it so that conversations could be heard without interference.” The British had Bletchley Park and the Germans had Eindhoven; two could play the code-cracking game. And the Nazis had been listening to these top level conversations since September 1941.
In addition to tapping into the secret conversations of the president and the prime minister, the Nazis had three gifted spies: one in England and two in France. A fanatical Welsh Nazi called Gwyn Evans, “Der Druid”; a duplicitous French painter, Andre Lemoin, “Moineau”; and, a turned former MI-6 agent, Raul Kiffer, “Kiki,” were among the authors of the disaster at Dieppe. Der Druide was an Anglophobe who believed that Hitler’s victory would result in Welsh independence. He was an accomplished musician. Leonard David, in his book The Druid and Johnson, and in his other book, German Spies and Saboteurs, describes how he landed a job as a concert organizer, arranging musical entertainment for Allied troops. The Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts was short of people who could organize and schedule their shows and concerts. He was the right man at the right place. His first job as an impresario entailed a string quartet concert for the Second Canadian Division. While Beethoven’s Late Quartets were not exactly popular with the soldiers, variations on Strauss waltzes and Gilbert and Sullivan songs were warmly received. Soon he became a much sought after entertainer and CEMA issued him with clearance papers giving him access to military bases throughout Britain.
His favourite tactic was to identify and befriend officers who appeared stressed and drinking a lot. Early in June 1942, he approached a second lieutenant who was drowning his sorrows in quite a few pints of beer at the base pub. He joined him and bought him another drink. After a few rounds, while pretending to be bored, he discovered that the target of “Operation Rutter” was Dieppe and that it would take place on June 24. The intoxicated officer gave him the full details. And Der Druide duly informed his handlers in Germany. Although “Rutter” was changed to “Jubilee” and the date was moved to Aug. 19, the Germans were prepared and waiting. Anthony Cave Brown’s monumental Bodyguard of Lies provides fascinating information on the other two spies, operating in France: Kiffer and Lemoin. Captain Heinz Eckert, a German military intelligence officer, was given the task of finding out where exactly the Allies were planning to land in France in 1942. Just as the British “Double Cross” system recruited German spies and used them as double agents, Eckert too recruited Raoul Kiffer “Kiki,” a former British agent affiliated with MI-6. Kiffer was also member of the influential French Union Interalliee, which provided a forum for clandestine networking in support of the Allies. He was to prove his worth in a small picturesque village not far from Dieppe a few days before the landings.
His co-conspirator Lemoin was sympathetic to the Nazis but placed greater faith in money. Working with German intelligence in France, he used his modest gallery of marine life paintings as a cover to invite leaders of the French resistance, the Maquis, to come to his premises and conduct clandestine meetings. He pretended to be a patriot and insinuated himself into the confidences of unsuspecting Maquis fighters. The more secure resistance agents felt at his place, apparently immune from prying eyes, the more they confided in him. When the British launched “Operation Overthrow” to deceive the Nazis about the upcoming raid, MI-6 forged new links with the resistance in Dieppe. Lemoin, who had “volunteered” in the meantime, now became “active” in the struggle against the occupation and privy to the preparatory work. The Maquis had been asked to inform locals that the Dieppe ladings were not the main thrust into France; and that the operation was only a raid. This was done to prevent the locals from rising up and then being at the mercy of the Germans after the Allies withdrew. The Maquis also launched an all-out effort collecting information on German defences in and around Dieppe. Lemoin passed on all these valuable documents to his German handlers in notes hidden behind the canvasses of his paintings of sea shells and mermaids. He eventually betrayed the Maquis to the Gestapo. (Interestingly, Lemoin’s story ends abruptly after 1944. It is possible that he fled under a new identify, or was found out and disposed of by the Maquis.)
The plot thickened when a certain Madame Jeanette Desmoulins, who was active in the Free French movement led by Charles de Gaulle, entered the fray in Veules-les-Roses, not far from Dieppe. Both Kiffer and Lemoin were aware that Desmoulins was active in the Free French movement. They rightly suspected that she was in communication with her husband, who was in London co-ordinating intelligence between MI-6 and French networks such as Interalliee. Kiffer introduced Eckert to her, claiming that the German military intelligence officer was a Canadian spy engaged in reconnaissance prior to the anticipated landings. Eckert and Kiffer were fishing for more accurate information. Desmoulins hosted them and provided cover for their “work.” Delighted to be of help to Canadians, she told Eckert that the BBC personal message, “George will very soon embrace Janette,” indicating that Dieppe would be the target, was about to be broadcast to alert the resistance network. Moreover, she put Eckert in touch with an anti-Nazi military engineer involved in the construction of the fortifications in Dieppe. The engineer, believing he was helping a Canadian spy, co-operated, and was disappeared by the Gestapo almost immediately. But Eckert assumed that secret information about Dieppe’s defences had already been sent to London by resistance agents. He made sure that the local German commanders were alerted to the breach.
At this time, the German’s launched Operation Porto II, which, to the Allies’ sorrow, succeeded brilliantly. Known as the “Rundstedt Ruse,” after German Field Marshall Karl Rudolf Gerd von Rundstedt, the Germans convinced the Dieppe planners that the port was very poorly defended by inferior troops. Even Churchill was hoodwinked, writing in his diary, “From available intelligence Dieppe was held only by German low-category troops amounting to one battalion with supporting units making no more than 1,400 men in all.” But this was inexplicable — the Allies were still breaking German codes and had their own spies on the continent. There was plenty of information suggesting that the Germans were aware an attack was imminent and were even reinforcing the Dieppe area. But the men responsible for planning and conducting the raid had no idea. If there had been better sharing of information, the entire raid might have been called off. When the Allied armada cast off its moorings from ports along the coast of Britain, its fate had already been sealed. The raid, badly conceived from the start, was doomed by the poor intelligence sharing among the Allies, leaks of vital information and spies who kept Hitler well-informed as to what the Allies were intending. More than 900 Canadians died in the raid, with thousands more captured. Of the 5,000 Canadians who set out to seize Dieppe, only 1,700 made it safely back to Britain. Few of them could have imagined that day how it only took three spies, and some sloppy sharing of intelligence, to lead them into catastrophe.
Armour Experts Sceptical Over T-14 'Invisibility' Claims
Reuben F Johnson, Washington, DC - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly 10 August 2015
Armour specialists from both Russia and the United States are sceptical of recent claims made by the enterprise that produces Russia's new T-14 Armata MBT that the tank is essentially "invisible" to radar. The claim was made by the director of the Nizhi-Tagil-based UralVagonZavod (UVZ) plant, Vyacheslav Khalitov, on Ekho Moskvy radio on 3 July. "We essentially made the invisible tank," said Khalitov. He also elaborated on the tank's internal arrangement, stating that key "emitters" that normally make other tanks vulnerable to current-generation anti-armour weapons are fitted as far as possible into the interior of the Armata to reduce its infrared (IR) signature. About the tank's own radar signature, Khalitov said the T-14's hull is coated with special radar-absorbing paint and other materials and appliqués that make it difficult to be detected. However, US specialists with many years of experience in the design of current-generation armour and Russian experts on former Soviet programmes that were designed to reduce AFV signatures both expressed doubts.
A retired US army flag-rank officer who was involved at the senior levels of AFV development - including that of General Dynamics' M1 Abrams MBT - has analysed the T-14 design and other claims regarding its signature reduction and told IHS Jane's , "These claims would have to be proven. Placing heat-generating components 'deep inside' in the vehicle won't help; modern thermal technology is very sensitive and when the tank is moved, or a weapon is fired, or a person is exposed, the thermal signature will light up. Plus, no matter where the engine is, when an engine big enough to move a 40- to 50-ton tank is fired up, it will have a signature." Russian specialists familiar with radar signature reduction techniques told IHS Jane’s that "most of this kind of research in Russia has been performed with an eye towards application to aircraft - in order to reduce a signature as seen from another aircraft's radar set or a SAM [surface-to-air missile] radar station. This technology is not optimised for protecting ground targets from air-to-surface attacks. "What you are trying to do in reducing a radar return for these scenarios is also very different," one said. "For airborne targets you are trying to reduce an RCS [radar cross-section] to make a lock-on more difficult. For ground targets you would be trying to make a tank indistinguishable from ground clutter. These two do not necessarily overlap in how you approach them."
In a radical departure from Soviet and Russian tank designs that date back to the Second World War, the T-14 has a modular internal arrangement that separates the crew from the tank's main gun and the ammunition storage compartment. This layout has been proven in tank designs developed by other nations to significantly enhance the survivability of the crew. Noting the Russians had "finally separated ammo from people", the retired US Army officer said this was "something we did 40 years ago with the Abrams", but added, "The comments [from UVZ] about gun, ammo, and fire control are interesting. The Russians have lagged us forever in these areas. Some of that was doctrinal-based as the way they planned to fight a close battle based on mass and rapid firing at short range, where precision fire control was not so critical. As we saw in Gulf War One, we had almost double the range advantage over them. "But I think some of the reason for the technology gap was/is because what we do in our industry is hard to design, build components for, and manufacture to a level of precision and robustness that a combat system requires." In addition to its signature reduction modifications, the T-14's other self-protection features include a new-generation self-protection system that integrates its Malachit exploding dual-reactive armour with an active protection system, designated Afghanit, that employs a millimetre wave radar to track incoming anti-tank weapons and initiate countermeasures. The T-14 also relies on composite, layered armour similar to that used in the M1.
CWG Commission Launches New Online Resources
New resource initiated to Commemorate VJ Day
The digitised records cover British, Irish and Commonwealth casualties from the Second World War, together with records for most other nationals commemorated at Commonwealth War Graves Commission sites: this includes the records for German soldiers. The release of the CWGC's Second World War records follows the successful release of the First World War archive in August 2014. The documents give a unique insight into the process of commemoration undertaken by the armed forces and the CWGC during and after the war, and include details of personal headstone inscriptions, date of death, rank, regiment and even some documents which show the journey of the deceased to their final resting place. The records are freely available to the public through the CWGC website at www.cwgc.org
Andrew Fetherston, the CWGC's Archivist and Records Manager, said: "The release of our Second World War archive online opens a new avenue for members of the public to investigate and remember the individuals we commemorate." "With the addition of these documents, alongside records relating to non-Commonwealth casualties buried in various sites around the world, it will now be possible, for the first time, to see the original records of all 1.7 million individuals the Commission commemorates." "The archive will greatly enhance the experience of searching the CWGC's records and will mean that millions of people across the Commonwealth could discover more about their relatives who fought and died during the Second World War."
The CWGC is hosting a live Q&A session across the organisation's Twitter and Facebook platforms on 17 August at midday to give the public the opportunity to ask questions and receive tips on how to get the most out of the archived documents. To take part people simply need to tweet their question to @CWGC using the hashtag #CWGCarchive or post it on the timeline at www.facebook.com/commonwealthwargravescommission
Liberals Commit Major Funding for Veterans
Vancouver – After a decade of Stephen Harper’s neglect, Liberals will make major new investments to give veterans the future we owe them, said Joyce Murray, MP Vancouver Quadra and the Liberal Critic for National Defence.
“For ten years, Stephen Harper draped himself in the Canadian flag, then betrayed the men and women who fought for it. Our veterans represent the very best of what it means to be Canadian. Our brave women and men in uniform put their lives on the line for our country at a high personal cost,” said Joyce Murray, MP. “Throughout my conversations with veterans living in Vancouver Quadra, it’s clear that the overwhelming majority of our service men and women feel disrespected and abandoned by this government when they return home. We have a social covenant with Canadian veterans and their families – an obligation that absolutely must be met with the utmost respect and gratitude.”
A Liberal government will:
“Canadians rightly expect that our sacred obligation to our veterans will be honoured,” continued Murray. “Veterans have spent far too long fighting the Harper Conservatives for the support and compensation that they have earned. A Liberal government led by Justin Trudeau will ensure that veterans in British Columbia, and right across the country, can confidently look forward to the future they are owed by a grateful nation.”
This Week: The history of the mechanization of the armed forces is full of starts, stops, and frustrations. I well remember chatting with an elderly retired major of the Central India Horse who described the mechanization of his regiment just prior to the start of World War Two. He stated that “training cats to march” would have been easier than going from horse to petrol. By this he meant no disrespect to his troopers, but rather alluded to the difficulty of finding anyone who could drive in a regiment where most had not even been in a motor vehicle. It was a bit like driving in Richmond. Well, Canada had less difficulty, given that we embraced the motor car early on. However, mechanization was still something that was seen by some as not as romantic as galloping around with an 18 pdr in tow. Also, back in the early days, standing behind a truck was probably just as dirty as standing behind a horse.
However, mechanization did come, and this week’s photo shows an early use of motorized transport with guns. Unlike our Imperial cousins, who went from Dobbin to Dragon (figure that one out!) in the wink of a flapper’s eye, our progress was more hit and miss. Early tractors of 15th Field Brigade (the ancestor of 15th Field Regiment) were actually rented civilian vehicles. However, such is not the case with this week’s photo, taken from our extensive and increasingly well-known archives. The photo is bit fuzzy, but shows our stalwart gunners riding in what look like civilian trucks, towing trailers and guns. However, look closely and you can see that these are not mufti motors.
So, dear enthusiast of loud, khaki things, what are these vehicles? And, as a bonus, where can I find one, were I to actually have the parking space to store such? Answers and guesses can be sent to the editor, or to the author, John Redmond (email@example.com). All responses are treated with great respect before being thrown in the waste bin.
From the ‘Punitentary’
Why don’t Grizzly bears wear shoes and socks? Because they have bear feet.
Murphy’s other Laws
Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done and why. Then do it.
A little learning is a dangerous thing, but a lot of ignorance is just as bad. - Emil Nolde
RUSI Vancouver & Canadian International Council
Present a Panel Discussion
Canada’s Foreign Policy and the Federal Election 2015
When: Monday, September 28, 2015
Time: 5:00 -7:00 pm
Where: Law Courts Inn, 5th Floor, 800 Smithe Street, Vancouver
Cost: CIC & RUSI Members $15; Non-Members $20. A brief reception will precede the panel discussion, with a cash bar
Three weeks prior to the federal election of October 19, 2015, a moderated panel of three experts will present their views on the implications of the election outcome for Canada’s foreign and defence policies.
Foreign policy often gets neglected in a federal election campaign and in keeping with our collective mission to promote public discussion on the topic, we feel it’s important to stage an event of this kind before the election.
Each of our speakers will provide expert commentary on foreign policy planks, including defence, of the competing political parties, along with informed speculation as to what foreign policy directions might emerge after the October 19th election.
We urge members and non-members to attend and put questions to our excellent panelists. Details on payment methods for September 28th will be forthcoming.
CFOne Card at PNE
If you are a CFOne member, you are entitled to discounted rates on admission tickets to the PNE. Visit www.pne.ca/groupsales and select “Buy Tickets” at the top of the page. Then select “Save Now” located under Fair Passes and at the bottom of the page. Enter promo code yh58mg2a to purchase tickets at the discounted rate.
Please note that this discount is only valid when purchasing tickets online.
On this day in 1955 the 43rd Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RCA was redesignated the 43rd Medium Anti-Aircraft Regiment, RCA.
On this day in 2009 Captain Noel RR Dykes, CD retired from the Canadian Armed Forces after 35 years, 8 months, 13 days of service.
On this day in 1941 Gunner Wallace Brunt passed away.
Yorke Island gunner warrants a fitting memorial
The Yorke Island Battery was established in 1938 as part of Canada’s coastal defences. It was on isolated posting far from the theatre of war and was decommissioned in 1946.
— Image Credit: Photo SubmittedRoyal Canadian Artillery Gunner Wallace Brunt died on duty in 1941 here on the West Coast far from any Second World War battlefield and a local war historian is determined that his death will be more than a distant footnote in history.
Campbell River resident Ross Keller, who says his “personal passion” is the history and legacy of the Yorke Island Battery near Sayward, wants to raise public awareness about the service and drowning death of the 27-year-old soldier and help create a memorial to the gunner here where he served and died.
Currently, Brunt is remembered on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial posted on the Internet by Veterans Affairs. He is also listed in the Second World War Book of Remembrance. And, Keller says, his name appears on the St. John’s Cenotaph in Newfoundland.
The Yorke Island Battery was established in 1938 by the War Department as part of Canada’s coastal defences. The site was equipped with a range of weaponry including two 40mm Bofors guns at two different sites.
Three carbon arc searchlights were positioned to maintain a night fighting ability. Sixty buildings were erected to support the garrison. A major challenge with Yorke Island was a lack of drinking water.
It was while he was participating in a work party fetching water from Hardwicke Island in Sunderland Channel that Brunt was dragged overboard when he got caught in a tow line to a sinking rowboat. Despite the efforts of his fellow soldiers he drowned.
“The family of Gunner Brunt was devastated by his loss with the story being that his wife was grief stricken and affected by his loss dramatically,” Keller says. “His family was never satisfied by the findings of the military and felt very poorly treated by the powers that be at the time of a court of inquiry in Vancouver.”
Keller says the grim situation was compounded when Brunt’s name was “incorrectly put onto the St John’s cenotaph as a sailor lost at sea when he was killed on a different ocean.”
“I wonder if he should be listed in Campbell River or Sayward, on the closest cenotaph to where he was killed?”
Keller says thought could also be given to erecting a cairn on Yorke Island.
Ottawa-based Veterans Affairs spokesperson Simon Forsyth says there is no national protocol that stands in the way of such an initiative and that a project like this should probably start with the relevant community groups that care for individual cenotaphs on Vancouver Island.
Forsyth says if there is a group locally that wishes to honour Brunt they may be eligible for federal government assistance by applying to the Community War Memorial Program which helps citizens “commemorate the achievements and sacrifices of those who served Canada in times of war, military conflict and peace.”
Yorke Island was an isolated post and as the threat of attack diminished the garrison was decommissioned and the fort was abandoned by early 1946. Yorke Island is now a Conservancy protected by BC Parks. Recent efforts by volunteers and local groups have now allowed for a major clean up at the fort.
Trails have been cut and marked to areas of safe access and interest including extensive remnants of the bunkers, gun emplacements and buildings.
Newsletter on line. This newsletter, and previous editions, are available on the RUSI Vancouver website at: http://www.rusivancouver.ca/newsletter.htm
The 15 Field Officers Mess holds weekly lunches, serving a 5 course, ‘homemade’ meal for only $15- you won’t find a better meal - or a better deal, anywhere. If you are in the area on a Wednesday, drop in and join us for lunch.
Note: A contractor will be coming in to remove asbestos tiles from the bar area. This may mean that lunches might be cancelled for one Wednesday. We don’t have an exact date for the start of this project yet, so watch for notices from us. In preparation for this project the bar was cleared of all stock and basic equipment and we were informed it couldn’t be used until the project is completed. We can’t legally sell any wine, spirits or beer but patrons may bring their own wine and pay a corkage charge to the Mess. For those of you who don’t bring wine we will have a bar set up to sell lunch tickets and a small selection of pop and juices with glasses (it is an “Officers Mess’ ) and ice. Since the Mess is not taking responsibility for lunches, I will have to make up the minimum payment for lunches to our caterer if we get less than 25 diners, so please come and support our efforts.
World War 2 - 1940
John Thompson Strategic analyst quotes from his book “Spirit Over Steel”
Aug 12th: Luftwaffe raids on England concentrate on four fighter bases near Portsmouth and the Ventor Radar Station on the Isle of Wight; they lose 31 aircraft to 22 RAF fighters during these attacks. The British send a mission into Ethiopia to start raising guerrilla forces. -- “That’s Major Ivanov to you, not Comrade Battalion Commander”-- Formal military ranks are restored to the Soviet Army and Commissars are stripped of much of the power to interfere with operational decisions – this is the application of another of the hard lessons learned in the Winter War with Finland.
Aug 13th: Eagle Day, the start of the Luftwaffe’s push to win air supremacy over southern England begins in earnest; but 45 planes from 1,500 Luftwaffe sorties are downed in exchange for 13 RAF fighters (and six RAF pilots will return to fly again, some will do a second sortie today). In one episode, the sole badly damaged surviving Ju-88 (flown by Joachim Helbig) from a formation of nine finds itself escorted across the Channel to France by a Spitfire.
Aug 14th: Sir Henry Tizard heads over to the US with details on jet engines, new explosives, gun-turret designs and the cavity magnetron (which is so useful for advanced radar applications). The Luftwaffe faces some weather problems today and only sends over 500 sorties, losing 19 aircraft to 8 RAF losses.
Aug 15th: The Luftwaffe finds that British fighter defences are in depth as they fly 1,800 sorties– taking heavy losses in a raid from Norway, and the day’s score is 34 RAF losses to 75 downed Luftwaffe aircraft. Goering thinks the Luftwaffe is doing splendidly and makes two policy changes – no more attacks on radar stations (the Germans underestimate their effectiveness) and fighters must fly close escort to the bomber crews. In Somalia, the British defences at the Tug Aran Gap are tasked with holding back the Italians as long as possible. Captain Eric Charles Twelves Wilson, attached to the Somaliland Camel Corps, has been doing his duty despite several wounds, malaria, and the deaths of most of his Somali machine gunners – for four days they have beaten back Italian assaults and withstood direct artillery fire. Their defence fails at 5:00 PM and Captain Wilson is presumed dead when awarded the Victoria Cross. However, he is alive, though badly wounded, and well-treated by the Italians. He returns to duty in 1941 and serves through the war in the Long Range Desert Group and the King’s African Rifles.
Aug 16th: Today sees 1,715 Luftwaffe sorties vs. 776 by the RAF -- 45 German and 21 British aircraft don’t come home (and, of course, more British fighters are hit on the ground – but pilots and not planes are the more urgent resource for the RAF). RAF bombers hit Italian factories in Turin and Milan. In Somalia, the British evacuate 5,700 personnel to Aden -- they have lost 260 casualties in the Italian invasion, while Mussolini lost 2,050. A RAF Coastal Command bomber claims the first U-boat (U.51) sunk by depth charges from an aircraft.
Aug 17th: Greece starts to mobilize after their cruiser Helle is sunk by an Italian submarine. The RAF starts to comb out other branches for more fighter pilots. Hitler declares a total blockade of the British Isles and states that neutral shipping will also be sunk. Three RN battleships bombard Bardia and Fort Capuzzo in Libya.
Aug 18th: There are big Luftwaffe raids on fighter fields, yet the RAF still racks up a score of 71 to 27 losses, and the Germans decide to withdraw the Stuka dive-bomber from the campaign because of the high loss rate of these planes.
Dieppe: A Battle Doomed to Fail For All the Wrong Reasons
Arthur Kelly, Special to National Post | August 17, 201
The Second World War has a day of infamy, ones signifying the end of fighting in Europe and Asia, and of course June 6, 1944, D-Day, the most recognized of all. For Canadians, there’s another meaningful date, Aug. 19, 1942, a day seemingly without end, for its tragic unfolding, remains a source of bewilderment and controversy. Even 70 years later, the true nature of the Dieppe Raid remains a mystery to most. “Difficult to visualize as a whole,” was the German assessment of the Allied plan of attack. Not so the casualties, graphically preserved on film and in photos. Mounds of dead stretched over 15 km of French coast from Puys to Pourville, a total exceeding 4,000, including 907 Canadians killed. Unrelentingly cruel, the raid confirmed the worst-held fears of one its most able participants: Captain Denis Whitaker of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (RHLI) had been an eyewitness to failed leadership, conduct he could neither forgive nor forget. “The defeat cleared out all the dead weight,” he told me at his Oakville, Ont., home during a meeting in 1989. “It was the best thing that ever happened to the Regiment.” Whitaker, a platoon commander at Dieppe, is the most prominent of those few Canadians who penetrated inside the town. Like all the other soldiers landed at the beach, he immediately went to ground under machine gun and mortar fire, but he got up and led the charge inside the casino, assisting in its capture. By day’s end, he was the only RHLI officer to return to England unscathed, the others either dead, wounded or taken prisoner. The performance of some, in his opinion, was disgraceful: “They went to ground and didn’t get up.”
I was present at Whitaker’s home on July 11, 1982, when he, a retired brigadier-general then, discussed Dieppe with another RHLI veteran, one decorated for valour at the 1945 battle of the Goch-Calcar Road. “We would have done a lot better at Dieppe with you and the others,” he commented thoughtfully. “We would have at least got off the beach.” What a sore spot for this gifted soldier, one of Canada’s finest field commanders of the Second World War. A graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada, Whitaker led the RHLI after D-Day, successfully guiding it to war’s end. The Regiment more closely resembled a social club, however, when Whitaker joined it in 1936. “The officers had no real training,” he explained. “They simply played soldier on weekends. The CO, Colonel Bob Labatt, was a stockbroker.” Whitaker despised Labatt, holding him responsible for the Regiment’s lack of discipline and combat readiness. Morale was poor among the troops as well. He recalled an incident prior to Dieppe, when the regiment conducted an 11-mile march before passing a reviewing stand. Labatt was nowhere to be seen, until he arrived by car out of sight of the dignitaries, just in time to lead the soldiers onto the parade ground. “This kind of behaviour destroys morale,” said Whitaker. “It sets a terrible example.”
At Dieppe, Labatt dashed a few meters from the water’s edge to a sea wall and here he remained, declaring the position battalion headquarters. Others joined him such as Major Dick McLaren, one of the longest serving members of the regiment. At the most critical juncture of the battle, when the troops should have been directed off the beach, Labatt and McLaren fidgeted with a damaged radio set, desperately trying to contact Major General John Roberts onboard the command ship. “When I got to the wall,” recalled Whitaker, “I knelt down behind it to catch my breath and figure out what to do next. A German fired at me with a machine gun, the bullets passing underneath my stomach and in front of my head. I got out of there in a hurry and on to my objective. I shouted, ‘We can’t stay here because they’re going to mortar the hell out of this beach.’”
Dieppe was well fortified and a horrific testing ground for green troops. “The place is in the shape of a saucer,” noted Whitaker, who died in 2001. “Christ, they were firing at us from behind as well as the front and both sides.” In the face of such murderous fire, Labatt and his officers had but one task before them, to press the attack forward. Failure to do so would result in the Regiment’s annihilation, as well as their own, which is exactly what happened. It was a necessary evil in the mind of Whitaker and others. “Once the society guys were gone,” Bob Wight of Toronto told me in 1989, “there was a second group of officers comprised of real leaders.” Wight, now deceased, was among the latter group, and the contrast between it and the first couldn’t have been greater. Even in their 70s and 80s when I knew them, these post-Dieppe veterans remained every inch the soldier, exuding courage, resoluteness and professionalism. My personal contact with McLaren, who along with Labatt, was taken prisoner at Dieppe, proved embarrassing and sad: Embarrassing to hear him admit he didn’t know what he was supposed to do on the raid; and sad to think of this otherwise decent man thrown into a situation for which he was completely unprepared.
What remains to be answered is if there was another element at play shaping events. The late Brigadier General Forbes West of Toronto thought so, identifying a political reason for the raid’s launch. “I feel that from the day planning began, it was intended to be a failure,” he revealed to me in his home 23 years ago. “Perhaps not as costly a failure, but a failure nevertheless. The British were being pressed by the Russians and Americans to open a second front, so we were put in with the firm intention of being destroyed. Men at the Chiefs of Staff level would consider 4,000 casualties a small price to pay for convincing the Russians and Americans an invasion would be a disaster.” Public expectations were high for 1942 with many certain that the Western allies would open a second front against the Germans in Western Europe while the Soviets continued to battle the Nazis in the east. As spring gave way to summer, and the prospect of action grew dimmer, protests erupted. A July 26 rally in Trafalgar Square drew 60,000, the voices ever more shrill on the issue. Varsity Stadium in Toronto hosted a crowd of 14,000 demanding a cross-Channel invasion to help the hard-pressed Russians. On Aug 2 The New York Times wrote that “the two words most deeply engraved on the minds of the Americans and British peoples at this moment are: Second Front.”
The British War Cabinet vehemently opposed such a move. Churchill himself preferred to secure Britain’s Mediterranean and Far East interests. Against a mounting backdrop of pressure, the Canadian 2nd Infantry Division under the command of Major General Roberts was presented a plan. “I don’t know who the hell dreamt it up,” remarked Whitaker, “but they didn’t know anything about fighting a war. It was terrible planning, just awful, absolutely ridiculous. They had company objectives that you wouldn’t give to a battalion.”
Whitaker spoke knowingly of the “fog of war,” of not distinguishing what lay 20 feet away in a combat situation. A fog of a different sort descended over 5,000 Canadian soldiers on Aug. 18, 1942. Without prior warning they were hastily assembled, and then transported to the coast. Weapons were issued on-board ship, Sten guns in oily packaging. The raid, cancelled early in July, was now on again, but there had been no training for it since. One reassuring fact sustained the soldiers in the tension-filled hours prior to attack: The German defences would be pulverized by saturation bombardment making for a quick exit from the beaches. But the bombardment never occurred, as the British had opted to maintain “tactical surprise” and not alert the Germans to the pending attack until it began when men hit the beaches. This change in plan was withheld from the soldiers. Unmolested, the Germans commenced machine gun and mortar fire before the landing craft reached shore, killing all but two members of the RHLI’s 17 Platoon before they had hit the beach. “The battle as far as we were concerned was really nothing but a massacre,” said West, a major in the Royal Regiment of Canada, destroyed at Puys, site of a flanking assault in support of the main thrust at Dieppe. “I remember going in with the second wave with the commanding officer. There was no sound of firing, so I said to him, ‘They must have got through the first line of defences.’ And he replied, ‘The hell they did, they’re all dead.’ When we landed there wasn’t anybody standing, everybody was just strewn on the beach.”
West was shot through the leg and taken prisoner. During his time in captivity he reflected on the raid’s evolution: “I came to the conclusion that the attack was meant to be a disaster. First you have a frontal assault, which is not very good practice. It’s to be supported with heavy bombing; capital ships and paratroopers, and then each of these are taken away leaving just infantry to attack a fortress with rifle and bayonets. I’m absolutely certain it was intended to be a failure.” Having been selected for a suicide mission once before in 1940, it’s easy to imagine the Canadians being chosen again two years later. Major General Churchill Mann, deputy military force commander at Dieppe, later revealed the true intent of a British plan involving Canadian forces: “On May 26, 1940,” he wrote, “the war cabinet considered that a sacrifice of a good part of the Canadians might bring the United States into the war as an ally. We at HQ1 Canadian Headquarters commenced arrangements to embark about half the divisions, using passenger-ship lifeboats to land over open beaches without any support at all at Gravelines. Fortunately wiser counsels prevailed and this operation was cancelled.”
As the guns fell silent at Dieppe, so too did public calls for a second front. The shift in attitude was total, seemingly on cue, like this Hamilton Spectator editorial: “This raid should sober the judgment of amateur strategists and silence the irresponsible clamor for a second front. That action will no doubt be taken when our military leaders deem the hour to be ripe for it. Meanwhile, the direction of the war should be wholly entrusted to their care.” The brutality of Aug. 19, 1942 is contrasted by the kindness bestowed upon the raid since, namely its designation as “a rehearsal” for D-Day. The lessons supposedly learned from the disastrous attack are easily refuted, yet are routinely used as justification for the raid. On this subject West was particularly succinct: “Since the time of the Roman legions, it’s been known that there is no possibility of dislodging a well-entrenched enemy without superior fire power. I don’t know of any lessons we learned at Dieppe.” Cannon fodder is a term typically associated with the trench warfare of 1914-18, not the conflict of 1939-45. That’s what the Canadians were, however. Why were Canadians selected for such a dubious honour? Whitaker identified the reason, poor leadership in the first contingents to Britain. The lack of initiative on the beaches of Dieppe was just as evident at the command centre, a problem well understood by the venerable Forbes West: “You have a Major General like Roberts surrounded by Mountbatten, Montgomery and God knows who else, and they say, ‘You don’t mind if we don’t bomb the town do you?’ It would take a man with a tremendous amount of guts to respond, ‘No, if we don’t have any bombardment I personally will not command.’ Roberts didn’t have it in him to say, ‘Look Montgomery, you don’t know sheep s–t from dates and we won’t go.’”
Sniper Targeting Pods Hitting the Mark
August 12/15: Japan acquired one Lockheed Martin Sniper targeting pod last year for trials on a Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) F-2 fighter. The Japanese defense ministry reportedly allocated $49.1 million to test the targeting pod as part of a potential upgrade package for the JASDF’s F-2 fleet. Jordan signed a contract for more Sniper pods in June, with the pod’s integration on the F-2 marking the eighth aircraft platform that the pod has operated from.
In a recent address to Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control employees in Orlando, FL, USAF Aeronautical Systems Center Commander Lt Gen William R Looney praised Lockheed Martin’s Sniper XR Advanced Targeting Pod (ATP) following the system’s recent successful deployment in Iraq. Ten of the US Air Force Sniper pods were shipped to Lakenheath, UK, and installed aboard Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles. These Sniper pods have now flown in more than 450 missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Designed as an affordable precision targeting system in a single, lightweight pod, Sniper is fully compatible with the latest J-series munitions and precision-guided weaponry. The US Air Force selected Lockheed Martin in August 2001 to develop and build the Sniper XR pod for its Advanced Targeting Pod program. The targeting pod has been undergoing integration on a variety of aircraft to include the F-15E, the F-16 Block 30/40/50, the A-10 and the F/A-18. The Sniper ATP program has achieved several major milestones, including the successful operational deployment and completion of Phase 1 Qualification Testing and Evaluation (QT&E) and Phase 1 Qualification Operational Testing and Evaluation (QOT&E) flight testing at Eglin AFB, FL; Nellis AFB, NV; and the Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Test Center in Tucson, AZ.
New and enhanced capabilities of the Sniper pods include a high-resolution, mid-wave third-generation Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR), along with a dual-mode laser that includes a laser spot tracker and a laser marker, and a CCD-TV. The Sniper pod greatly improves an aircraft’s long-range target detection and identification via advanced image processing algorithms, combined with special image stabilization techniques. ATP program goals included a geopointing capability 10 times more accurate than the 1980s technology LANTIRN pods, with triple the recognition range and twice the resolution. The ATP can acquire targets at altitudes of up to 50,000 feet, for instance, versus the 25,000 feet typical of the last-generation LANTIRN pods. These superior detection ranges are vital to pilots, helping keep them out of range of threat air defenses during their defining moments. Likewise, the supersonic, low-observable design results in a substantial reduction in drag and weight.
Maintainability is also enhanced. The Sniper XR pod was designed as a highly modular system that is partitioned into 39 lightweight line replaceable units (LRU). Traditionally, this type of LRU was replaced in base maintenance facilities or back shop as shop replaceable units. Through aggressive and innovative design efforts, these ruggedized LRUs are all flightline replaceable without the use of special tooling or support equipment. The Sniper XR’s BIT diagnostics system provides the maintainer the capability to fault isolate to these smaller, lighter LRUs and return them directly to depot level repair. This modular, two-level maintenance design contributes to lower life cycle costs. “We have been able to maintain eight pods fully mission capable throughout this whole deployment, and most of the time all 10,” said General Looney. “They (pilots) are so in love with that capability, they don’t want to go anywhere without a Sniper pod. There is no comparison between any other pod in the world and the capability that Sniper brings.”
Finally, early 2006 improvements include full integration with the new ROVER system that lets troops on the ground transmit coordinates or even draw on digital maps, and have the results appear on the pilot’s map display as they talk. Sniper pods are now flown on the US Air Force F-15E and F-16 blocks 30/40/50, plus the A-10s incorporating the A-10C precision engagement upgrade program. In addition, Sniper is being integrated on the B-1 bomber.
Free Film Will Honour a Bomber Named Vera
Hamilton Spectator Aug 06, 2015
"Reunion of Giants" follows a 70-year-old Avro Lancaster bomber as it travels to the United Kingdom from the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton. It will be screened for free at select theatres on Remembrance Day.
Hamilton's Lancaster is the star of a new film that will be shown free at Cineplex Entertainment theatres across the country on Remembrance Day. The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum announced the deal this week saying details about participating theatres will be released in September. The film called "Reunion of the Giants" is about the bomber known as Vera's epic journey to the United Kingdom last year to take part in a series of air shows alongside the world's only other airworthy Lancaster. That one is owned by the Royal Air Force. Production of the film by Suddenly SeeMore Productions Inc. and Highway Entertainment is continuing.
A DVD release is planned for late November and negotiations are continuing that would see the film shown on television, a spokesperson for the museum said.
Who is it?
Last Week: Photo labelled – ‘Battery Observation Post, (Pandemonium Palace), Jul 50’. We think it was taken at Mary Hill. The piece of equipment shown is a Radar CDX No 2 MK 1
The NRCC Radio Branch was responsible for radar development in WW2. For coastal defense by the Army, a 200-MHz set with a transmitter was developed. Designated CD, it used a large, rotating antenna atop a 70-foot wooden tower. Since the firing unit would be some distance away, a "displace corrector" automatically compensated for this separation. It was put into operation in January 1942. While the Army was basically satisfied with the CD systems, they did ask for an improvement to 10-cm operation. Since the Microwave Section was then well experienced in these systems, they easily provided a design. Before even a prototype was built, the Army gave an order to the REL for a number of sets designated CDX. Production started in February 1943, but only 19 sets were actually delivered with 5 of these going to the USSR,
This Week: We continue our theme of coastal defence with another shot from the extensive collection of our late museum founder, Vic Stevenson. It would seem that Vic at one time photographed everything and anything, all at a time when doing so was a bit expensive, especially for the young lad he was. A few of you older chaps might remember pre-digital days, when a roll of 36-exposure Kodachrome (now gone forever, and much lamented) would set you back a week’s allowance. Not only that, but you had to wait for the images to be developed, which took quite a while when the nearest lab was in another province.
Well, this shot isn’t Kodachrome, as the young Vic was a tad stretched for pocket money back in 1950 when it was taken. It shows something about which one could make many naughty jokes and double-entendres, but to which, respecting the dignity of this newsletter, one will not stoop.
Therefore, dear reader (and I hope there is more than one), can you identify the very large gun this chap is riding? Any guess as to its whereabouts? Was he a former member of the Flying Wallendas, or an eager participant in an experimental attempt to develop a method of inserting troops into combat more quickly and accurately than parachuting? We actually know, but rely on you to keep others amused. Your replies may be sent to the editor, or to the author, John Redmond (firstname.lastname@example.org). All information is kept and added to our files, helping the future remember the past.
From the ‘Punitentary’
Why is a hen sitting on a fence like a coin? Because she has a head on one side and a tail on the other.
Murphy’s other Laws
Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.
The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office. - Robert Frost
HEROES’ OPENING WEEKEND - SAT, AUG 22 & SUN, AUG 23 - 11am- Late
Promotion is to honor those who put their life on the line by actively responding to the front line emergencies occurring out in our communities. It includes military & veterans plus one guest. Proof of membership must be produced at the gates. Guest does not require ID.
On this day in 1939 the 87th Field Battery, RCA was formed in Halifax, NS. 87 Battery was authorized on 15 August 1939 as the ‘87th Field Battery, RCA’ through the disbandment and conversion to artillery of elements of ‘The King’s Canadian Hussars (Armoured Car)’ (originated 1 December 1903) and allocated to the 14th Field Brigade, RCA.
On this day in 2005 the Regimental Field Artillery Tractor was used in the funeral of Sergeant Ernest Alvia “Smokey” Smith VC, CM, OBC, CD.
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