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They fought for Canada

A weary infantry company moves back from the trenches of the Western Front to a rest area in Novem-
ber 1916. The strain of combat is evident on the faces of these men who fought for Canada. (National
Archives of Canada, PA 832)
A Soldier
I was that which others did not want to be
I went where others failed to go
And did what others failed to do.
I asked nothing from those who offered nothing
And reluctantly accepted the burden of loneliness.
I have seen the face of terror; felt the stinging cold of fear
And enjoyed the sweet taste of a moments love.
I have cried, felt pain and sorrow
But most of all
I have lived times that others would say were best forgotten
After it all, I will be able to say that
I am proud of who I am
A Soldier.
Axox\xous
Fighting
for Canada
Seven Battles, 17581945
Edited by
Donald E. Graves
with
John R. Grodzinski
Robert Malcomson
Ian M. McCulloch
Michael R. McNorgan
Brian A. Reid
and
Maps and illustrations by
Christopher Johnson
R o B I N B R A s s s t u D I o
Toronto

Contents
Introduction: the Central Military Act ~ Doxaio E. Giavis 11
Prelude: Move Fast and Strike Hard: Defending Canada to 1758 19
1 Like roaring lions breaking from their chains: the Battle
of ticonderoga, 8 July 1758 ~ Iax M. McCuiiocu 23
Interlude: A Mere Matter of Marching: Defending Canada, 1758 to 1812 81
2 It remains only to fght: the Battle of Queenston Heights,
13 october 1812 ~ Roniir Maicoxsox 89
Interlude: Undefended Borders, Valiant Militia and Other Myths:
Defending Canada, 1812 to 1866 131
3 Prepare for Cavalry! the Battle of Ridgeway, 2 June 1866 ~
Biiax A. Riio 137
Interlude: The Creation of a Canadian Army, 1866 to 1899 185
4 For Gods sake save your guns! Action at Leliefontein,
7 November 1900 ~ Biiax A. Riio 191
Interlude: From the Veld to the Fields of Flanders, 1900 to 1918 237
5 Its a charge, boys, its a charge! Cavalry Action at Moreuil Wood,
30 March 1918 ~ Joux R. Gioozixsxi & Micuaii R. McNoicax 241
Interlude: From the Western Front to Normandy, 1918 to 1944 275
6 Black sabbath for the First Hussars: Action at Le Mesnil-Patry,
11 June 1944 ~ Micuaii R. McNoicax 279
Interlude: On the Left Flank: Normandy to the Maas, June 1944 to
January 1945 317
7 If only we had the wisdom of our generals: the Kapelsche Veer,
26-31 January 1945 ~ Doxaio E. Giavis 319
Appendices
A orders of Battle and strengths, opposing Forces, ticonderoga,
8 July 1758 367
B orders of Battle and strengths, opposing Forces, Queenston Heights,
13 october 1812 372
C orders of Battle, opposing Forces, Ridgeway, 2 June 1866 378
D orders of Battle and strengths, opposing Forces, Leliefontein,
7 November 1900 382
E orders of Battle, opposing Forces, Moreuil Wood, 30 March 1918 384
F orders of Battle, opposing Forces, Le Mesnil-Patry, 11 June 1944 385
G order of Battle, the Kapelsche Veer, 26-31 January 1945 387
H Military Heritage of the units in Fighting for Canada 390
I Battle Honours, Awards and Decorations Resulting from the
Actions in Fighting for Canada 395
Endnotes 397
Acknowledgements 421
suggested Books for Further Reading 423
Index 429
the Contributors to Fighting for Canada 444
T he Kape l sche Ve e r, 26- 31 J anuary 1945 333 332 F I GhT I nG F Or canaDa
O
peration iiiiuaxr got under way at 7.15 a.x. on Friday, 26 Janu-
ary 1945. Ninety minutes before, in the half-light of the setting moon
and the rising sun, the frst smoke rounds came down as the artillery started to
build up a diversionary screen across the Maas to confuse the defenders.
28
The
main screen on the island was laid just before the attack began and it was thick-
ened by smoke pots and artifcial smoke generators dispersed around the island
in locations thought most likely to blanket the defences. Within a few minutes,
one onlooker reported, the entire area was clouded out and there was nothing
we could see.
29
The engineers held their breath as the frst vehicle, a half track
loaded with smoke containers, crossed the Mad Whores Dream. It hit the
steep ramp at about 30 MPH and came down with a tremendous crash, but as
nothing gave way the relieved sappers exhaled and declared their rickety span
to be structurally sound.
30
Under the cover of billowing thick, oily grey chemical
smoke, the men of the three Lincoln and Welland assault companies clambered
into white-painted Buffalo LVTs (Landing Vehicles, Tracked) and crossed to the
island (see Map KV-2). To a watching war correspondent, it was a ghost-like
sight as the soldiers set out in these amphibious tank-like vehicles.
31

The right hand attack went in frst. At 7.25 a.x. Major James Dandys C
Company of the Lincoln and Welland Regiment, debussing from their Buffalos,
prepared to move along the dyke to link up with Major Owen Lamberts A Com-
pany, which crossed about a mile and a half to the west. Dandy quickly discov-
ered that he had a major problem his Wasp carriers, intended to neutralize the
German defensive positions, were unable to climb the slippery sides of the south
dyke because of the weight of their famethrowing equipment. This problem
would have been discovered earlier and a solution likely found if the Lincoln and
Welland Regiment had been given enough time to make a proper reconnaissance
of the area over which they had to advance but, as their historian notes, the unit
had only taken over positions on the island from the Poles the day before the at-
tack began. As Dandy recalled, the Wasps would
take a run at the thing and the tracks would just spin. I fgured if I could get one
up, I could tow the others up. maybe I can blow that damn tank off [the
back of the carrier] with hand grenades. I backed the carrier up by this canal,
pulled the pin out of the hand grenade, and put it near the brackets and walked
away. And it just dented the metal. So I couldnt get the carriers up.
32
Leaving the useless vehicles behind, Dandys men advanced west along the dyke
top towards Lamberts A Company.
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T he Kape l sche Ve e r, 26- 31 J anuary 1945 335 334 F I GhT I nG F Or canaDa
Attempts to fush out the defenders with the portable famethrowers proved
useless as most of the men carrying them were cut down as soon as they started
their fames. One Lincs offcer commented on the diffculties of these weapons:
I had lifebuoy famethrowers. I think I had ten. Lost every goddamn man;
every one of them was killed. You can imagine what it was like. I think they
weighed about 60 pounds. Hes got army boots on with metal cleats on the
heels flled with snow. Hes walking on an angle and carrying the goddamned
thing; trying to manoeuvre is almost impossible. And the minute they shot
any fames they were a target and every one of them got it. I always felt really
badly about that [because] we asked for volunteers. I didnt want to take them
in the frst place, but they felt thats what we had to have so we took them.
And I never used them again.
38
By 9.45 a.x. the survivors of Lamberts A Company had fallen back and were
beginning to dig in along the dyke, a few hundred yards short of the objective. At
that moment the Germans brought down a heavy and accurate mortar barrage
from the north bank of the river and then counterattacked, driving the remnants
of the company back on Dandys C Company coming behind them. Dandy tried
to rally A Company and resume the advance but this movement became con-
fused when he and all his C Company offcers became casualties.
39
The attack on the right was over and the remnants of Dandy and Lamberts
men were withdrawn through Groses Argyll platoon at the bridging site, a move-
ment that caused Grose some problems:
They had lost their weapons and so on, and they started to congregate around
our platoon, where we were on the dikes. And I said Move on or youll draw
fre. So the next thing I knew, we were getting mortar fre ourselves cause
they were observed from the far shore when they had stopped.
40
In contrast, progress on the left, or western, side of the island was initially
good. Major Ed Bradys B Company of the Lincs crossed to the island in Buffalos
and then moved steadily east along the dyke toward iasiniii\, the westernmost
of the two houses. Then they ran into trouble as Corporal Howard Loughlin
remembered: You couldnt see in front of you and the phosphorus [smoke] got
into your lungs, the German slit trenches were all covered with snow and
you couldnt tell where their fre was coming from and talk about cold.
41
All
of a sudden, Loughlin continued,
Lamberts men, transported with two Wasps to the Veer by amphibious ve-
hicles, had lost one carrier crossing the Oude Maasje. The second vehicle made
it safely but couldnt climb onto the dyke. At that moment A Company came
under accurate and heavy enemy mortar fre from the north bank but Lambert
decided to press on and his men, choking in the harsh acrid fumes of the chemi-
cal smoke, moved west along the dyke top toward the two houses code-named
ciaiis and iasiniii\.
33
The sixty-man canoe party reached the island by way of the Mad Whores
Dream. When they attempted to launch their craft into the main river channel,
however, they discovered that there was an inch of ice on the surface a fact that
had been reported at 5 a.x. by the Algonquin Regiment, who were monitoring
river conditions. The party was forced to haul their canoes over this crust of ice to
reach open water and by the time they embarked and moved downstream both
the men and their weapons were soaked.
34
Unfortunately, the canoeists troubles were just beginning. The ice along the
north bank of the island forced them to move farther out into the main channel
of the Maas where the smoke was less thick, and as they paddled their fragile craft
furiously toward the harbour they came under accurate fre from the north bank
of the river. Matters were not helped when the wind began to shift, thinning out
their smoke cover even more. Lieutenant Lloyd Grose of the Argylls, whose pla-
toon was on the eastern spit of the Veer to hold a frm base for the sappers at the
bridge, watched horrifed through windows in the smoke screen as the men in
the canoes were picked off by the machine guns from the far side of the river.
35

Several of the craft were sunk and the party was forced to land on the north side
of the Veer near where Lamberts A Company had reached the island. They were
now about halfway to their objective but only about ffteen were still on their
feet. As soon as they moved on top of the dyke, they came under heavy fre from
German machine guns fring along fxed lines through the smoke. When they
tried to return this fre, the canoeists discovered that their weapons, thoroughly
soaked during their short but perilous voyage, were frozen solid and would not
work. The survivors withdrew to the mainland.
36
Lambert meanwhile had advanced toward the centre of the German posi-
tion. His company was within thirty yards of ciaiis when the Germans opened
up with every weapon they could bring to bear. The volume of fre brought his
advance to a standstill, fve of the six offcers in his company being killed or
wounded. Lambert was last seen walking up the dyke by himself, swearing and
cursing a blue streak, until he disappeared in the smoke.
37
He did not return.
T he Kape l sche Ve e r, 26- 31 J anuary 1945 337 336 F I GhT I nG F Or canaDa
dust and plaster down on the heads of the assembled multitude. Things were
then quiet until 3 i.x. when an order came down from brigade headquarters to
send offcers out to recce tank routes to the Kapelsche Veer.
45
If he hadnt suspected it before, it was by now clear to Brigadier Jim Jefferson
that taking the island would require a slow and deliberate set-piece operation
and it was going to be a thoroughly nasty business. His revised plan was to push
on the central German position from both sides the Lincs from the left and
the Argylls from the right with South Alberta tanks supporting both units (see
Map KV-2). Getting armoured vehicles onto the Veer was not going to be easy.
The Mad Whores Dream might be capable of supporting tanks but, as the
Germans held the centre of the island, a raft would be needed to get them onto
the west end. An alert therefore went out to 9 Field Squadron of the RCE which
began to assemble materials to build a Class 40 raft on the bank of a subsidiary
canal about 450 feet directly south of the Oude Maasje channel.
46
January days in northern Europe are short and the sun set at
4.30 i.x., several hours before the frst South Alberta tanks, two
light Stuarts commanded by Sergeant Vaughan Stevenson and
Corporal Matthew McSherry of Recce Troop, crossed the
Dream to the island. They had no problems but as soon
as they managed to climb onto the dyke and move for-
ward they found that there was not one good road to
work on and the slippery surface of the dyke was so
narrow they could not turn around but had to pro-
ceed in reverse all the way when we moved back.
47

Stevenson consolidated with the Argylls, who were
under heavy mortar fre from the north bank of the
Maas. For the next two days, until relieved by other
this guy yelled and here these grenades coming over the dyke. Where are you
going to go in seven seconds? That was the third grenade that I had thrown
at me, and the other two didnt go off but this one sure as hell did. I just
covered my head up I waited for the damn thing to go off, it seemed like
an eternity. It just felt like somebody had punched me And then I went to
stand up and I couldnt.
Bradys company tried to push forward but, as he remembered it, they opened
up on us both with mortars and machine guns and he started losing men hand
over fst.
42
With his soldiers going down like ten pins, and realizing that he
would just lose more and more men, Brady decided to pull back and dig in at
the junction of the main dyke and a smaller dyke that ran north from his crossing
spot. The Germans immediately began to infltrate around his position using the
dykes as cover, snipers became active, and his situation was very shaky.
43
By noon it was obvious that the assault on the Kapelsche Veer was a total
failure. So much for the element of surprise.
T
he South Alberta Regiment had taken little part in the mornings battle.
Lieutenant Smith Bowicks troop from A Squadron had provided indirect
fre on call for the Lincoln and Welland Regiment and some echelon person-
nel had been detailed to help with the smoke screen. Among them was Trooper
George Armstrong, who remembered that he and Trooper Jack Spillet went up
after dark [on 25 January] and here was some 10 Brigade people and they were
going to make a kayak [canoe] attack in there and thats what these smudge pots
[smoke generators] were for. The two men placed the generators as directed in
weather so cold they had to use socks for mitts. Just before frst light on 26 Janu-
ary, Armstrong and Spillet lit the generators and the Lincs were pleased with the
smoke cover they gave. Later, George continued, they brought up a kitchen
truck and Jack and I were getting something to eat when we heard that all of
those kayak fellows were lost. They said that there was no smoke as apparently
the wind blew it down the wrong way. I mind that we never fnished our meal,
we were just sick.
44
During the morning a large audience had gathered in the South Alberta Regi-
mental Headquarters at nearby Kaatsheuvel to follow the course of the fghting
on the radio but the news coming in was very meagre. A few minutes later the
crowd thinned out after a German artillery shell demolished a building across the
street and a large piece of shrapnel rocketed through the orderly room bringing
South Alberta trooper wearing his Zoot Suit
Tank crew member of the 29th Armoured Reconnaissance Regi-
ment (South Alberta Regiment) which fought on the Kapelsche
Veer wearing the Canadian-designed and manufactured tank suit
issued to units of the Canadian Armoured Corps in the autumn of
1944. It was a practical and warm garment much liked by those
who received it and it was called a zoot suit after the nattily-
dressed social phenomenon making headlines back home.
(Painting by Ron Volstad, courtesy, Department of National
Defence)