Tag Archives: Legion Magazine

Douglas Gordon (Part 2): The troubles with Typhoons

From the Legion Magazine.


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Douglas Gordon (Part 2): The troubles with Typhoons

Douglas Gordon (Part 2):
The troubles with Typhoons

Story by Stephen J. Thorne

If the Germans didn’t get you, the Typhoon just might.

Flying Officer Douglas Gordon knew it only too well. Between June and August 1944, 19 Allied squadrons‚ÄĒhis own among them‚ÄĒlost hundreds of the hulking aircraft and 150 pilots, many of them due to engine or structural failure.

‚ÄúShe was a monster; she was just a real miserable aircraft,‚ÄĚ said Gordon, a 95-year-old native of Lachute, Que., who survived 99 combat missions at the stick of the Hawker-built plane. He flew multiple sorties on D-Day and into the Falaise Gap with 440 (City of Ottawa) Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force.

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Military Milestones
Maggie delivers peacekeepers to the Suez Canal

Maggie delivers peacekeepers to the Suez Canal

On Jan. 12, 1957, HMCS Magnificent arrived at Port Said, Egypt, delivering Canadian peacekeepers for the UN Emergency Force policing the Suez Crisis.

Light aircraft carriers built in Britain during the Second World War, Magnificent and HMCS Warrior were earmarked for Canada, in anticipation of an expanded role in the Pacific. Only one carrier was required after the war ended and Warrior was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy in 1946.

After the war, Canada signed the NATO agreement, pledged to an anti-submarine role. An aircraft carrier also increased the navy’s capability in the air defence of North America, including the Arctic, at the beginning of the Cold War. But Warrior, a Colossus-class vessel, was not designed for cold climate operations and was exchanged for the Majestic-class Magnificent in 1948.

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This week in history
On this date: January 2019

January 9, 1990

Space Shuttle Columbia mission STS-32 launches to retrieve material left in orbit for six years, including space durability experiments for the University of Toronto’s Institute for Aerospace Studies.

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Legion Magazine

Christmas at war

From the Legion Magazine.


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Christmas at war: A cabin in the Hurtgen Forest

Christmas at war: A cabin in the Hurtgen Forest

Story by Stephen J. Thorne

The Christmas Truce of 1914, as the¬†London Telegraph¬†described it, was ‚Äúone of the most remarkable episodes ever to take place in the history of armed conflict.‚ÄĚ

Three decades later, however, in a cabin in a forest just across the Belgian border into Germany, a much smaller but just as improbable truce took place, the details of which read like something out of the Brothers Grimm.

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Military Milestones
Battle of the Atlantic

Britain scores the first WW II sea victory

On Ontario farmland safely inland from Second World War bombing, a town sprang up to house 9,000 people working at a munitions factory that produced 40 million shells for the Allied war effort.

The town was named Ajax, after a ship in a little-remembered sea battle off the coast of Uruguay in 1939, the first Allied sea victory of the war.

Great War armistice terms forbade Germany from building classic warships, so instead it produced heavily armed cruisers the British called pocket battleships.

One, the Admiral Graf Spee, attacked merchant shipping in the South Atlantic, but the Royal Navy’s South American Naval Division had trouble finding it.

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This week in history
On this date: December

December 12, 1942

An arsonist burns down the Knights of Columbus Hostel in St. John’s;
99 die and 109 are injured. German sabotage is suspected.

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100 year-old Jaye Edwards: A woman pilot in wartime Britain

From the Legion Magazine.


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Jaye Edwards: A woman pilot in wartime Britain

Jaye Edwards:
A woman pilot in wartime Britain

Story and photography by Stephen J. Thorne

As a child, Stella Joyce (Petersen) Edwards was always pushing boundaries.

She grew up in Kent, England, the third daughter of an Australian trader, and whether it was scaling walls, climbing trees or riding her bicycle off into the countryside, Jaye, as she became known to her compatriots, was an adventurer.

‚ÄúI think I was always a bit wild,‚ÄĚ admits Edwards, now a century-old resident of Vancouver and one of three surviving women pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA).

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Military Milestones
The Battle of Ortona begins

The Battle of Ortona begins

Seventy-five years ago, under cover of darkness on the night of Dec. 5-6, 1943, Canadian troops in Italy began a nearly month-long campaign that would end with the capture of Ortona.

In July 1943, the Allies invaded Sicily, opening a new front. After the capture of Sicily and the surrender of the Italians, they chased the Germans north through Italy, facing stiff resistance with every yard gained. The plan was to advance up the Adriatic coast to Ortona, then strike inland to Rome.

At the end of November, the Allies were bogged down, Germans dug in on the far side of the Moro River. The Canadians were tasked to cross the river, head up the valley, break through German lines and capture Ortona.

They began with an attack involving the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment, the Seaforth Highlanders and Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. The PPCLI took and defended their objective, but San Leonardo remained outside the Canadians’ grasp. The German 90th Panzer Division rushed from Venice to block the offensive.

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This week in history
On this date: December

December 8, 1941

The Battle of Hong Kong begins, following the attack on Pearl Harbor.

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Win an iPad + Free Christmas in Ortona Print!

From the Legion Magazine.


Reginald Wise: Saviour of Easter Sunday, 1945

From the Legion Magazine.


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Reginald Wise: Saviour of Easter Sunday, 1945

Reginald Wise:
Saviour of Easter Sunday, 1945

Story by Stephen J. Thorne

Reginal Wise, the 94-year old former sniper who grew up in London and would eventually settle in British Columbia, was 100 yards back down the line doing his best to suppress the German fire when a messenger arrived, summoning him forward.

Wise and the rest of his Royal Marine commandos were advancing on a German position in Northern Italy when a landmine took out a track on their lead tank and everything ground to a halt.

Almost immediately, a German MG-42 or MG-08 machine gun, firing up to 20 rounds a second, had pinned down the British troops.

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Military Milestones
WW I Collection 5-Volume Set ‚Äď Only $49.99!

Sir Arthur Currie, a national hero

Sir Arthur Currie, the first Canadian soldier to command the Canadian Corps during the First World War, died a national hero Nov. 30, 1933, aged 58.

Respected for his military acumen, he perfected battle strategies and honed his men into elite assault troops whose string of victories during Canada’s Hundred Days played no small part in winning the war. But he made political enemies who assaulted and tarnished his reputation.

A militia officer before the war, Currie began his military career as commander of the 2nd Infantry Brigade, which fought in the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915, Canada’s first major engagement. His talent noted, he rose to commander of the 1st Canadian Division in 1915. He helped plan the Canadian attack on Vimy Ridge, where the British and French armies had previously lost thousands in unsuccessful assaults.

Part of the strategy was to ensure every soldier knew his task. Ordinary troops were supplied with maps and photographs of objectives. The plan was carefully co-ordinated, a 100-yard advance every three minutes behind a rolling barrage, a moving curtain of artillery fire.

With victory came a new sense of nationhood, both for those at the front and those on the home front.

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Military Milestones
On this date: November

November 30, 2000

Space Shuttle Endeavour launches with Canadian astronaut
Marc Garneau aboard, on his third and final space flight.

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