It was a cloudy afternoon on May 10, 1945, when four Canadian navy ships intercepted U-889 some 250 kilometres southeast of Cape Race, Nfld. The patrol aircraft that discovered the steaming German submarine circled overhead.

The war had been over less than a week and all German U-boats had been ordered to cease offensive operations, even before the surrender was formalized...

“I would rather suffer with coffee than be senseless.”
– Napoleon Bonaparte

 

When times are tough and you’re far from home, it’s often the little things that mean the most. You’d be hard-pressed to find a soldier who wouldn’t put coffee near the top of that list....

Spanish authorities recently captured a 22-metre submarine after its three crewmen transported US$121-million worth of cocaine 7,700 kilometres across the Atlantic Ocean from Colombia, then scuttled it and ran.

It’s the biggest narcotics submarine ever found, and the first confirmed to have transported drugs from the Americas to Europe, signalling what experts have characterized as a new era in the distribution of illicit drugs...

The night letters started arriving at his parents’ home in Afghanistan’s Helmand province soon after Ahmad Sajad Kazimi took a job translating for Canadian and other NATO forces fighting the war on terror.

“Tell your son to quit his job and stop working for coalition forces,” one said. “Otherwise we kill your son because he is co-operating with the Infidels!”...

Over the course of three Canadian army tours in their parched and war-ravaged homeland, Alex Watson came to know and respect the long-suffering Afghan people for their courage, resilience, devotion and unfailing courtesy.

As a CiMiC (civilian-military co-operation) officer and later as a company commander attached to an Afghan National Army battalion, Watson became intimately acquainted with the citizens and culture Canadian troops were sent to protect...

December 23, 2020

The Magnificent 11

They are among the most iconic images of the Second World War—blurred, grainy and, the best of them, as stirring and in-the-moment as any battlefield photographs ever taken.

There are only 11 pictures—and nine surviving negatives—from that early morning of Tuesday, June 6, 1944, on Omaha Beach, the bloodiest of the D-Day landings, the one depicted in the movie Saving Private Ryan. But two of Hungarian photojournalist Robert Capa’s images, taken for the weekly Life magazine, stand out...

James Victor (Vic) Johnson was a 25-year-old second lieutenant still in training at the Royal Canadian School of Military Engineering in Chilliwack, B.C., when he was mistakenly tagged to go off to war just before Christmas 1951.

The Eston, Sask., native had been in no rush to get to the front, but there were two Second Lieutenant Johnsons in training at the time and the other one, who had served several years and wanted a field assignment, had expressed his desire to go...

On Nov. 13, 1821, Captain Barnabas Lincoln and his crew, including a Newfoundlander, set sail from Boston aboard the schooner Exertion. They were bound for the Cuban town of Trinidad loaded with foodstuffs and furniture.

They had no idea what they were in for, but the tome-like title of the skipper’s 40-page account, completed in April 1822, pretty much sums it up:

Narrative of the Capture, Sufferings and Escape of Capt. Barnabas Lincoln And His Crew, Who Were Taken By a Piratical Schooner, December, 1821, Off Key Largo; Together With Facts Illustrating the Character of Those Piratical Cruisers....

Lancaster pilot Jack Widdicombe was a wide-eyed Prairie farm boy about to be thrust into the inferno of Second World War Europe when he boarded a double-decker bus and toured London shortly after arriving in England.

The 21-year-old native of Foxwarren, Man., and a pal set out to see the sights and instead encountered block after block of rubble. Twenty-three bombing missions over Nazi territory and 1,200 hours of combat  and other wartime flying lay ahead of him...

November 19, 2020

The medic’s trauma book

As a member of 5 Field Ambulance in Afghanistan, medic Macha Khoudja-Poirier treated so many patients with such a variety of ills and injures, she didn’t know what more she could see to fill out her “trauma book.”

Better known in English as a casualty book, the journal is a log of the cases a medic handles, like the “life list” birders keep of the birds they see or the logbook a pilot maintains of the planes they fly and the hours spent airborne....

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