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Canadian warships at NATO fleet review, 1969

Canadian Forces Sentinel, Vol. 5 No. 8. (back cover). September 1969, Directorate of Information Services, Canadian Forces Headquarters.

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Queen reviews NATO fleet, 1969

British Pathé: Queen reviews NATO fleet

Click image to see video at Pathé site

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Felix dies natalis Christi

Cooper, Austin (1890-1964). For the Empire Marketing Board, c 1926-1934. (Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1983-27-89)

Cooper, Austin (1890-1964). For the Empire Marketing Board, c 1926-1934. (Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1983-27-86)

 

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17 December 1939: British Commonwealth Air Training Plan agreement signed

Seventy-two years ago today, representatives of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand signed the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan agreement.  This agreement committed the countries to training 50,000 airmen per annum until the conclusion of the Second World War—the goal was roughly 22,000 aircrew per year from Great Britain, 13,000 from Canada, 11,000 from Australia and 3,300 from New Zealand.  Under the plan, the aircrews would receive introductory air training with their home air forces, then travel to Canada for advanced flight training.  More than 130,000 Allied airmen—pilots, navigators, bombardiers, wireless operators, gunners and flight engineers—had received training in Canada by war’s end.

Here are some photos of BCATP activity drawn from LIFE magazine’s online archive:

An aerial view of RCAF Station Trenton. 1939. (John Phillips / LIFE magazine)

Instructor teaching a bombing course at RCAF Station Trenton. 1939. (John Phillips / LIFE magazine)

Cadet screwing the fuse into a bomb, RCAF Station Trenton. 1939. (John Phillips / LIFE magazine)

Squadron Leader W. I. Riddell, walking and chatting with four flight instructors. RCAF Station Trenton, 1939. (John Phillips / LIFE magazine)

Mechanics checking a Fairy Battle Bomber outside of its hangar at RCAF Station Trenton. 1939. (John Phillips / LIFE magazine)

A landed Harvard trainer aircraft after night flying training. RCAF Station Trenton, 1939. (John Phillips / LIFE magazine)

Destroying the past

Your correspondent would not characterise himself as a fan of the Prophet Mohammed; let us say merely that the man’s understanding of the Divine is at odds with our own experience.

That said, defacing a 900-year-old mosque isn’t just insulting to Muslims, it’s an assault upon humanity’s shared heritage.  Harming the centuries-old relics of a religion at odds with one’s own can hardly erase past history, and the effort says less about the evils of the target than it does about the mind of the perpetrator.  The world didn’t enjoy this sort of thing when the Taliban destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas back in 2001; it’s not any more entertaining or worthy when others try their hand at it.

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The Screen Traveller: Hong Kong, Gateway to China (1938)

Here is an 11-minute travelogue showing the colony in happy times, 3 years prior to hostilities in the Second World War.

On November 16th, 1941, Canadian reinforcements from the Winnipeg Grenadiers and the Royal Rifles of Canada arrived in Hong Kong to bolster the colony’s garrison. The Japanese launched their invasion on December 8th, and three days later, D Company of the Winnipeg Grenadiers became the first Canadian Army unit to see ground combat in the Second World War.

CBC has an interesting audio account from survivors of the battle, along with some interesting nuggets of information. Perhaps most illuminating is the fact that more Canadians sent to Hong Kong died as prisoners of war (550+) than in the fighting (290).

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The English Fleet at Cherbourg

The English Fleet at Cherbourg, originally uploaded by The British Monarchy.  5 August 1858, by Gustave le Gray. (The Royal Collection © 2010, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II)

UPON CLOSER EXAMINATION: Despite the title given in HM Flickr photostream, a more appropriate title may be “The British and French fleets at Cherbourg”. Since the leftmost ship-of-the-line is quite clearly flying the French tricolour from her main topgallant mast.

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Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing

To the glory of God and to the memory of 11447 officers and men of the forces of the British Empire, who fell fighting in the years 1914-1918 between the River Douve and the towns of Estaires and Furnes, whose names are here recorded but to whom the fortune of war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrades in death.

Belgium, originally uploaded by traceyjohns.

Ploegsteert memorial, originally uploaded by R/DV/RS.

Lion, Ploegsteert Memorial, originally uploaded by Redvers.

Amongst the more than 11,000 persons listed on the memorial who have no known grave are three Victoria Cross winners; one from each component nation (England, Scotland and Wales) on the island of Britain.

Sapper William Hackett, VC
254th Tunnelling Company, Corps of Royal Engineers
b.  11 June 1873, Nottingham, England.
d. 27 June 1916, Givenchy-lès-la-Bassée, France.

Private James MacKenzie, VC
2nd Battalion, Scots Guards
b. 2 April 1889, Dumfries, Scotland.
d. 19 December 1914, Rouges Blanc, France.

Captain Thomas Tannatt Pryce, VC
4th Battalion, Grenadier Guards
b. 17 January 1886, The Hague, Netherlands (Welsh by ancestry).
d. 13 April 1918, Vieux-Berquin, France.

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Flying over the Mont Blanc massif c. 1920s

The aircraft depicted in this German film are French-built Farman F.60 Goliaths. Originally designed as a twin-engined heavy bomber near the end of the Great War, the design was later converted into a civil airliner with a capacity of 12-14 passengers.

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Shaggy dog story

Doing some research into medieval scandals and papal annulments, I chanced across historical fiction author Susan Higginbotham’s hilarious description of an annulment granted to the real-life Richard FitzAlan, 10th Earl of Arundel. This beats the hell out of Henry VIII’s consanguinity argument.

In December 1344, Richard Fitzalan succeeded in having his marriage to Isabella annulled on the ground that the couple had expressly renounced their vows at puberty but had been “forced by blows to cohabit, so that a son was born.” If the Pope or his deputy had any doubts as to why Richard had waited seventeen years after the birth of that son before attempting to secure an annulment (“Well, I was going to get around to it, but . . .”), he kept them to himself.

– Higginbotham, Susan. “Divorce, Medieval Style.” SusanHigginbotham.com, c. 2006.

i.e. I didn’t want to, but my relatives beat me up until I had sex with my wife…

That’s the best you can come up with? For the Pope. Really?

If I had been the Pontiff of the day, that letter would have been framed on a wall somewhere. Cardinals would still be laughing about it today.

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