Canadian Military History Colloquium Web Series

The Canadian Military History Colloquium Web Series has been created to publish conference papers unable to be presented as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Web Series will run throughout the Summer starting on July 6th, with articles released on a monthly basis. Check back in the future for updates on the latest and upcoming articles in the series.

To provide a more interactive conference experience, readers have the opportunity to discuss authors’ papers. Comments are open for two weeks towards the beginning of each month on the latest article. Readers are encouraged to ask thoughtful questions and provide helpful feedback, and authors are given the opportunity to respond with an addendum at the end of their article released the week after discussion closes.

Author’s papers have been edited before publication by the Website Manager and Series Editor, Kyle Pritchard. For inquiries about the series, please contact [email protected].

Underestimated Leadership: Assessment of Harry Crerar’s competency during WWII

During the Second World War, Canada promoted a strategy based on the defence and advancement of national politics and interests. The symbolism of Canada’s independent declaration of war against Nazi Germany illustrated the nation’s desire to assert itself as a sovereign country in the eyes of the world. This idea also extended to the actions and positions of Canadian leaders deployed overseas during the war. General Henry Crerar was a central figure of Canadian leadership during the Second World War, albeit often put aside. While Crerar has often been assessed negatively for his limited operational successes and abrasive personality, his leadership is better than what has been highlighted. Crerar’s organizational and political abilities were tools that proved useful in the role of leading the Canadian army in the Second World War. The assessment of his skills, personality and features needs to be carried out by looking at criteria of competency and examples relating to his career in order to underline his overall leadership approach.

Marianne Grenier is currently a second-year master’s student in the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Security and Police Studies from the Université de Montréal. She received a SSHRC scholarship to pursue her thesis research on a treaties comparison to prevent nuclear terrorism. Under the guidance of Dr. David J. Bercuson, she primarily focused on the career and ascension of General Crerar within the Canadian forces during the Second World War.

Colonel Ret. Frank Reid, The French Commando Course of Vieux-Brisach, Winter 1976

With the Winter weather creeping in towards the end of the year, Corporal Ret. Frank Reid shares his experiences of the forbidding conditions of French military training during the Cold War. In this article of the Canadian Military History Colloquium Web Series, learn more about what it took to survive the French commando course of Vieux-Brisach in Winter 1976.

Frank Reid is an author, a playwright and an expert public speaker on the topic of the Cold War years 1975-1979. Frank got his education from the military who sent him at the age of 21 on a Peacekeeping tour to Cyprus just months after the Turkish invasion of the island. There, on the “Green Line”, Frank learned very quickly to keep his head down while the Turkish and Greek soldiers shot at each other or anything that stood between them. Following this little escapade, Frank was posted to Europe in a Mechanized Commando unit whose job it was to defend against any future Communist invasion. Frank has been married for 43 years to his magnificent wife, Rejeanne. He has worked for the last 17 years of his professional life as an Executive Search Consultant for a large multinational organization. Now retired, Frank spends most of his time writing, working with a PTSD veteran group, and public speaking engagements.

Cameron Bartlett, Shoring Up the Line: The CFC in the First World War

During the Canadian Forestry Corps’ (CFC) first seven months of operations from May 1916 to January 1917, it had operated solely in Great Britain, providing sawn defence timber for the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and for the various industries on the Home Front. However, in September 1916, a series of meetings were held in France between officers of the French War Ministry, the BEF and the CFC to discuss the potential deployment of several companies of the CFC to France. Negotiations progressed swiftly, and by mid-September an agreement had been made that saw Canadian foresters deployed to support both the BEF and French Armies in five different regions in France. The evidence I have found in official records and reviewed in secondary sources indicates that the Canadian Forestry Corps was an indispensable asset to the Canadian Expeditionary Corps (CEF) in each of these battles. Without the direct involvement of the CFC in each of these battles, the CEF would likely have struggled to achieve their tactical successes in 1917.

Cameron Bartlett is a recent graduate of the University of Calgary and currently works as an independent historian and researcher in Halifax. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in history from Mount Allison University and a Master’s degree in Canadian History from the University of Calgary. His primary field of research is Canadian Military History with a specialization in the operations of Canadian Forestry Corps between 1916 and 1919. Cameron has also conducted research on the service of Indigenous peoples, Afro-Canadians and Ukrainian immigrants in the Canadian Army during the First World War.

Colonel Ret. Chris Weicker, Chinese Canadian Secret Warriors
in the Pacific, 1944-46

The contribution of Chinese Canadians to the Second World War is relatively unknown and unrecorded in the official histories of the Canadian military. When the Second World War broke out in September 1939, due to pressure from the British Columbian government, Chinese Canadians, along with other Asian minorities, were not included in the callout of Canadians to the military. Despite not being called out for military service, Chinese Canadians volunteered to join Canadian Army units, which had no restrictions on their enrollment, unless the unit commanding officer prohibited it. Over 600 Chinese Canadians served in the Canadian military during World War II, both in Canada and overseas. The aim of this paper is to describe the Chinese Canadian’s contribution to the Allied military effort as it pertains to the conflict in the Pacific from 1944-1946. Canada’s secret contribution was to British and Australian clandestine organizations. They were Canada’s Chinese secret warriors in the Pacific.

Colonel Chris Weicker is from Victoria, British Columbia. He completed over 36 years in the Canadian Armed Forces as a Signal Officer. His overseas tours include Germany (1985-89), Bosnia (2001) and China (2006-2009). On retirement in 2013, he completed a Bachelor of Arts in Pacific and Asian Studies with a focus on Chinese language, history, geography and culture at the University of Victoria. He is currently a graduate student in the University of Victoria’s History Department. The topic of his research is on the history of the Chinese Canadians during World War Two and, especially, volunteering for special operations in the Pacific theatre of war at the end of the conflict.

Sarah Hart, Kodaking War: Photographs as Art?

How have Canadian war photographs been understood as their own artistic medium? This essay will first explore how other historians have understood war photography and provide a brief history of the Canadian War Records Office and its official photographers’ aesthetic approaches to photography. Finally, it will discuss how the Grafton Galleries exhibitions of 1917 and 1919 opened up the possibility of allowing the photographs to be perceived as an artistic medium, as well was how they served as a continuation of other artistic trends in the early twentieth century.

Sarah Hart is finishing her Master’s degree at Western University. Her MA thesis, entitled “Muddying the Lens: First World War Photographs and the Canadian Expeditionary Force,” examines private and official photographs as artistic mediums. She will be continuing her research as a PhD student at Carleton University in Fall 2020. Her other research interests include conflict art, twentieth century Canadian photography, and public history. In addition to her studies, Sarah is also the Social Media Manager for Wartime Canada.