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Torch November 2017

The First World War Day-by-Day

For readers of the Torch/Flambeau who have never clicked on our Twitter link, the following article will introduce you to a monumental project by a group of dedicated volunteers, under the tutelage of Jean Morin, Chair of the Friends’ Research Committee.   This project, called The First World War Day-by-Day, has been underway every day since the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, and it will continue until November 11, 2018. 

Each day, one of Jean’s volunteers has researched an event which occurred exactly 100 years before, and has written an original short article, in French or English, usually with an accompanying picture or graphic, for that day.  On September 26, 2017, the group celebrated its 1000th article!

Jean MorinJean Morin is a former Major of the Royal 22e Régiment and official historian with National Defence.  He is the co-author of Op Friction (1997) and a Director with the Friends since 2013.  He is Team Leader, Editor and Publisher of the Friends’ Twitter series. His team for this project is made up of: 

Richard LindoRichard Lindo is a former Branch Director with the Parks Canada Agency responsible at different times for the Historic Interpretation Branch, the Resources Conservation Branch and Policy and Government Relations. He also served as the COO of a UNESCO agency in Rome, the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property before retiring in 2003. 

Steven DieterSteven Dieter is a Captain in the Public Affairs Branch working at the Assistant Deputy Minister (Public Affairs). He is also an Associate Air Force Historian. He is the Volunteer Coordinator with the Friends since 2016. 

Bruno AndreBruno André is retired from the National Gendarmerie and is a former soldier of the Foreign Legion. After serving at the French Embassy in Ottawa, he is now a contract teacher at LaCité and a tutor in French as a second language at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Directorate General.

Michael DawsonMichael Dawson received his Doctorate in European History from the University of Toronto. He joined the Canadian Foreign Service and served in Canadian missions in New Delhi, India, Moscow, USSR, Washington DC as a specialist in Political-Military Affairs and International Security issues. His last assignment was as Canadian Political Advisor to the US Commander of NORAD and US Northern Command in Colorado Springs, CO.

Bruce BrownBruce Brown is a Captain in the Reserves and a Professional Engineer with experience in patent and copyright as a professional assessor.  He is an avid reader of military history and a member of the Research Committee since its inception in 2014.  Bruce also spends time at the Friends’ Book Shop as a Volunteer.

We would like to invite all Friends to follow the series until the end of the War, and to pass on to others their interest for the Memory of the Great War.

The series will constitute, in the end, one of the biggest research projects undertaken by the Friends in their history.  It is a serious program to get the Friends to be involved in social media and at the same time provide educational information to a younger generation.

Your views are sought on how this program could be improved.  Our address is .

Every Day, Once a Day, join the Friends’ Daily Show, to learn more about the First World War Just in Time!


Bob HamiltonIn my note for the previous edition, I mentioned our intention to draw on the contribution of our leadership, members and supporters in order to build constituency and strengthen financial position as we strive towards supporting the Canadian War Museum (CWM).

While certainly still in the conceptual stages we have started the planning for special events intended to broaden interest and support and to generate revenue. Drawing on both the conceptual model of the Vimy Concert earlier this year as well as its lessons, we hope to build on its success. While it would be premature to be more specific at this time we are targeting an event in November 2018 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the WW1 armistice as well as possibly an arts-based event early in the coming year. In terms of method, we remain committed to the project management approach which proved so helpful in the lead-up to April. Wherever this all may land we will need the full-court support!

On another front, we are engaged in an initiative to examine and refine our current business model so as to ensure that our governance and operating methods are optimized for success; this initiative as well is being undertaken on a project basis. Still in the realm of business, we have developed a memorandum of understanding to govern the relationship between the FCWM Book Room and the CWM Military History Research Centre and we are close to finalizing an agreement with the CWM which we hope will breathe new energy into the museum’s Medals Stories Project. Additionally, as we do annually, we have applied to Veterans’ Affairs Canada for financial assistance to permit us to better support the CWM with Operation Veteran.

In conclusion, permit me to add that the editor has some interesting material for you the reader in this edition.  In this regard, you will note the tribute to Jean Morin, Director Research, and his team for their fine effort with the WW1 Twitter Project. I would like to congratulate the team on behalf of us all for this extraordinary achievement.

Yours aye

Robert Hamilton

“Flashbacks of a Prairie Kid” by Mervyn Letts 

Flashback CoverDr. Mervyn Letts is a Friend of the Canadian War Museum. He was born in Killarney, Manitoba, attended Primary and High School in Minnedosa, and obtained his College education at Brandon College in Brandon, Manitoba. He entered the University of Manitoba Medical Program, graduating in 1964. Following an Internship at St. Boniface Hospital, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force as a Medical Officer, spending two years at the National Defence Medical Centre in Ottawa, and being seconded to the United Nations Emergency Force in Egypt for one year, receiving the United Nations Emergency Force Middle East Medal.

Subsequent to his Air Force career he pursued Orthopaedic training at the University of Manitoba, and, after a sojourn in Toronto, returned to the Winnipeg Children’s Hospital as Head of Orthopaedics.

Mervyn LettsIn the Abu Dhabi Desert In September 1989, he accepted an appointment as Head of Surgery at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, a position he held until Jun 2003 when he stepped down to take a position as a Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical Centre in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates where he was asked by the UAE government to establish a Pediatric Orthopaedic Program. He is now employed part-time with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and is President of the International Orthopaedics Consultants Inc., a company that provides clinical, educational and administrative support to foreign Universities and Hospitals.

He is married to his wife Marilyn. They have three boys and reside in the Alta Vista region of Ottawa.           

Flashbacks of a Prairie Kid is an historical narrative of growing up in a small Prairie town during the war years and the 50’s decade following. It documents many childhood memories of the times, events, celebrations and customs of Prairie life. Anyone who grew up on the Prairies anywhere in Canada or the United States will relate to this book and enjoy its content. The book is profusely illustrated in color with 575 pages, soft cover with perfect binding…an enjoyable read even if you didn’t grow up on the prairies!!        

The Friends Lose a Translator and Gain a Member

Karine LachapelleJust over three years ago, the Friends decided that it had to become a more bilingual entity and two translators were hired to pursue that aim. One of those individuals was Karine Lachapelle, a student at Ottawa University. Karine quickly established herself as an excellent translator and as a prodigious worker. She became our “go-to person” for urgent jobs and over the next three years completed well over half of all of our translation requirements. Through her efforts and those of her colleagues, the written communications of the Friends have become almost completely bilingual.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and Karine has found more permanent employment as a translator at Ottawa University. In recognition of her outstanding efforts on our behalf, the President of the FCWM, Robert Hamilton, presented Karine with the President’s coin #52 and a complimentary one-year membership with the Friends. She is shown below receiving the certificate that accompanies each coin. Also in the picture with Karine and Robert is Marie-Josee Tremblay, the FCWM Translation co-ordinator.

Thank you Karine, and good luck with your future endeavours.

Upcoming Exhibitions at the Canadian War Museum

WAR Flowers – A Touring Art Exhibition

October 20, 2017 to January 7, 2018

Regeneration Hall

Inspired by flowers sent home by Canadian soldier George Stephen Cantlie during the First World War, artist Viveka Melki has created a multisensory experience featuring Cantlie’s letters, crystal sculptures, original scents, and portraits of ten Canadians involved in the war.

A touring art exhibition presented by les Jardins de Métis/Reford Gardens with the generous support of the Department of Canadian Heritage. 

She Who Tells a Story — Women Photographers From Iran and the Arab World

December 6, 2017 to March 4, 2018

Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae Gallery         

She Who Tells a Story brings together over 75 photographs taken by 12 women photographers from Iran and the Arab world. Together, these evocative images, ranging from fine art to photojournalism, challenge Western conceptions and provide insight into the contemporary social and political landscape of the Middle East.

This exhibition was organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Group 7 – The Canadian Forces Artists Program 2014─2015
February 1 to April 2, 2018

Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae Gallery          

St. Louis – Ship of Fate

March 13 to April 22, 2018

Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae Gallery

Membership Reminder

FCWM Memberships expire at the end of the calendar year.  Individuals should watch their mail for their renewal notice or they can renew on-line at

THE DIEPPE RAID by Doug Rowland

Seventy-five years ago, August 19, 1942 in the dark of the early morning, a mixed fleet of 237 vessels arrived off the coast of Normandy. On board were 6000 men who were to conduct a raid in strength against the port city of Dieppe; a plan conceived by Lord Louis Mountbatten's Combined Operations Command. Five thousand of the raiders were members of the Canadian Army's Second Division. The other thousand were British troops mostly drawn from Commando Groups 3 and 4 and the Royal Marine Commandos. A handful of American Rangers were attached to the Commandos.

Troops were in the act of transferring from the troopships into smaller landing craft and beginning the fifteen kilometre transit to the eight landing sites when there was an exchange of gunfire at sea.

A German coastal convoy had crossed the path of a column of the attackers' fleet precipitating the exchange of fire ending the raiders' hope of a surprise landing – a fundamental requirement for the raid's success. Instead, as the landing craft approached the beaches they were met by an alert enemy in well-planned and protected defensive positions possessing formidable firepower,a prepared firing plan and pre-selected and sighted target areas.

The Canadians and British left their transport and stepped into fire-swept killing grounds to be scythed down by artillery, mortar and machine gun fire.

Despite many individual acts of courage (2 Victoria Crosses were awarded) and repeated efforts by the units engaged to overcome hopeless odds, only one group of raiders, a much reduced element of the fourth Commando, succeeded in meeting its assigned objective.

Seven hours after the first soldiers hit the beaches the fleet had withdrawn taking the remnants of the raiding force back to Britain. Of the 4, 963 Canadians embarked almost 900 were killed; 1,946, 568 of whom were wounded, were taken prisoner. Seventy-one of the wounded died in captivity. Two thousand and eleven returned to Britain; 589 of them wounded, twenty eight mortally. The British units suffered two hundred and seventy-one casualties: killed, wounded and prisoners.

For the Canadians it was the single most costly day of World War Two. More Canadians became prisoners of war on August 19th than the total for the rest of the war. Nonetheless, the defeat cannot be attributed to shortcomings in the quality of troops involved.

The reports of the German 15th Army headquarters included the following appreciation:

“The large number of prisoners might leave the impression that the fighting value
of the English and Canadian units employed should not be too highly estimated.
This is not the case. The enemy, almost entirely Canadian soldiers fought – so far
as he was able to fight at all – well and bravely....”

The Dieppe Raid, Operation “Jubilee”, has been subjected to extensive analysis and generated lakes of ink. What went wrong? What were the objectives that would justify such slaughter? Should it have been mounted, with a virtually identical plan to Operation “Rutter” which had been abandoned at the last minute, troops ready to embark, only a month before? Why had the Canadian High Command volunteered for “Rutter” and extended its support to “Jubilee”? What lessons of strategic value did the Allies learn from the raid?

Some historians have recently suggested that the purpose of the raid was to secure information about German cryptography and/or recent developments in German radar. However, the current consensus would seem to be well summarized by the words of the British Admiral Bertrand Ramsay closer to the event:

“Dieppe was a tragedy and the cause may be attributed to the fact it was planned by inexperienced enthusiasts”.

The Kanata Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion held a on August 18 at the Kanata Cenotaph ceremony to honour those who fought at Dieppe. The ceremony encompassed and embraced, as well as the troops engaged on the ground, those sailors who manned the fleet and the airmen who flew over 3000 sorties to protect the fleet and todisrupt Luftwaffe attacks on the beaches.

D.C. Rowland C.D.
Chair, Poppy Fund Committee
Kanata Branch 638
Royal Canadian Legion

Maureen Jennings Visit Postscript

In the August 2017 edition we reported on the visit of famed author, Maureen Jennings to the War Museum. Following that visit she wrote that her latest book, “Let Darkness Bury the Dead”, which will be released in November of this year is a detective Murdoch book but advanced to 1917. She added that she had found the War Museum incredibly valuable when doing her research and that most of what she had found made its way into the book.

Group Friends

As of 30 September 2017, the following organisations are Group Friends and we thank them for their support:

  • ANAVETS in Canada - Dominion Command, Ottawa, Ontario
  • MacFie Clan Society of Canada , Orleans, Ontario
  • Royal Military Colleges Club (Ottawa) , Ottawa, Ontario
  • The Black Watch Association - Pacific Coast Branch, North Vancouver, British Columbia
  • The Polish Combatants' Association, Branch 8, Ottawa, Ontario
  • The Royal Canadian Legion - Dominion Command, Kanata, Ontario
  • The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 006 (ON), Owen Sound, Ontario
  • The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 037 (AB), High Prairie, Alberta
  • The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 047 (NL), Labrador City, Newfoundland and Labrador
  • The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 055 (SK), Grenfell, Saskatchewan
  • The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 058 (NB), Rothesay, New Brunswick
  • The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 120 (SK), Nipawin, Saskatchewan
  • The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 130 (SK), Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan
  • The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 153 (MB), Carberry, Manitoba
  • The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 167 (ON), Exeter, Ontario
  • The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 177 (AB), Caroline, Alberta
  • The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 185 (QC), Deux Montagnes, Quebec
  • The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 290 (SK), Nokomis, Saskatchewan
  • The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 314 (ON), Manotick, Ontario
  • The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 341 (SK), Pense, Saskatchewan
  • The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 542 (ON), Westport, Ontario
  • The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 580 (ON), Cobourg, Ontario
  • The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 593 (ON), Nepean, Ontario
  • The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 636 (ON), Minden, Ontario
  • The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 638 (ON), Kanata, Ontario


New Friends

From 1 July – 30 September 2017 the Friends of the Canadian War Museum have welcomed the following new Friends:

  • Mr. Robert Dryden
  • Mrs. Jean Eppich
  • Ms. Denise Harper
  • Ms. Karine Lachapelle
  • Ms. Heather Mace
  • Ms. Donna Reid
  • Mr. Leslie Robinson
  • Mr. Robert Taylor

In Memoriam

Since distribution of the last Torch in August 2017, the Friends have been notified of, and mourn, the passing of the following colleagues:

  • Maj.  E.H. Pierre Garneau
  • Mrs. Diana Hennessy
  • Mr. Jerry Nudelman
  • Capt (N) Helen F. Ott

In Memoriam Donations

The following is a list of donors making in-memoriam donations during the period 1 July – 30 September 2017. The tributes are recorded in the language in which they were provided.

  • Mrs. M.M. Ferguson in memory of her late husband William John Ferguson, MM, Regimental Number A62073.
  • Mr. William Abbott in memory of Mr. Russel Morey Mr. Gordon Foster in memory of Maj. Pierre Garneau
  • Mr. Gordon Foster in memory of Mr. Jerry Nudelman, deceased Friend of the CWM
  • Dr. Jack Granatstein in memory of Dr W.W. Piepenburg, conscientious objector, US, World War II
  • Mr. Arthur Kennedy, P. Eng, in memory of PO Andrew A. Irwin, a veteran who served in the RCN during the Second World War. He was recently decorated by Russia in recognition of his service on the dangerous “Murmansk Run”.
  • Ms. Lori Parent in memory of Mr. Robert Parent
  • Capt (N) (Ret’d) William Reed in memory of Major Bill Smith


The Friends are grateful to the following who made general donations during the period 1 July – 30 September 2017

  • Mr. William Abbott
  • Maj Donald Allen
  • Ms. Kathleen Beck Coull
  • Mr. Darrell Colwell
  • Mr. Robert Dryden
  • Mr. Joseph Gambin
  • Mr. John Gazeley
  • Ms. Margaret Ratcliff

Military Memorials in Ottawa

In our last edition we reported on the work done by two of our members, Rob Collins and Larry Capstick, to create cycling tours of the many military memorials in our nation’s capital. The following is their description of one of those memorials.

War of 1812 Monument (Triumph Through Diversity)

Location: East end of Parliament Hill between the East Block and Wellington, Elgin and Metcalfe

Memorializing: This monument is a dynamic national tribute to the spirit, courage and bravery of those who served and successfully defended their land in the fight for Canada.

Artist: Adrienne Alison

The War of 1812 Monument occupies a site with direct views of, and a symbolic connection to, the National War Memorial, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and The Valiants Memorial, all of which mark major conflicts in Canada’s history. The rough-hewn central granite plinth evokes the ruggedness of the land in the 1800s and the nearby rocky cliff of Parliament Hill. The two granite boat-shaped pieces represent the maritime theatre of war and echo the Gothic arches of the Parliament Buildings. Atop the three plinths, seven bronze figures, each approximately two metres tall, represent the key combatants that came together to defeat the American invasion: a Métis fighter firing a cannon; a woman bandaging the arm of a Voltigeur; a Royal Navy sailor pulling a rope; a First Nations warrior pointing to the distance; a Canadian militiaman raising his arm in triumph, and a member of a British Army unit, specifically the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, firing a musket.

To Ponder: There is an ongoing debate as to who won the War of 1812?

1812 Memorial


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