NOW IN OUR LIBRARY ~ BLACK HISTORY MONTH ~ AN INTRODUCTION

NOW IN OUR LIBRARY ~ BLACK HISTORY MONTH ~ AN INTRODUCTION

Since this is Black History Month, I thought we should look at how they have served Canada in peace and in war.  I have selected a few individuals to show their stories although it is not possible to include all those who have served.  There are many who showed enormous bravery and service who are not mentioned here. The first reference is about the many who served to defend Canada in 1780.  A number were offered their freedom if they fought against the Americans.  Then in 1812, they formed a “Company of Coloured Men” who fought at Queenston Heights. During the rebellion in Upper Canada 1837-1839, about 1000 black militia formed 5 companies and helped put down the uprising. In World War I, military enlistment personnel made it difficult for black Canadians to join up but in spite of these barriers many wanted to serve. Reverend William White played a large role in the formation in Pictou, N.S. of No. 2 Construction Battalion.  The Rev. White was the Battalion chaplain who was given the Honorary rank of Captain, one of the few black commissioned officers to serve.  The unit served in a non-combat role in France. In World War II, Michael Manley served as aircrew in the RCAF and subsequently in 1972, he became Prime Minister of Jamaica. Lincoln Alexander, Leonard Braithwaite and Lloyd Perry all became lawyers.  Lincoln Alexander became the first black Member of Parliament and later, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.  Eric Watts served in the RCAF and rose from airman to squadron leader.  He served as Wing Air Armaments Officer with 1 Wing Merville France and...
“A SWASHBUCKLING ADVENTURER” ~ JOSEPH W. BOYLE

“A SWASHBUCKLING ADVENTURER” ~ JOSEPH W. BOYLE

Every war produces mysterious characters, some good, some bad, and some swashbuckling adventurers.   One such man was Joseph Whiteside Boyle, born in 1867 in Toronto.  At the age of 17, he went to sea for three years.  Later on he was among the first to travel the White Pass route to the Klondike where he laid claim to a huge stretch of the Klondike River, and, as a result of his gold mining activities, he became quite rich.  He organized a hockey team, the Dawson City Nuggets, who travelled by sled, train, and boat to Ottawa to play the Ottawa Senators in the Stanley Cup.  At the outbreak of WWI, at his own expense, he equipped a machine gun company, even making their insignia in gold.  In today’s market these insignia would be priceless. Being too old for active service, he was made an honorary Lt.Col.  He made his way to Britain where he eventually went to Russia and was appointed to Kerenski to help re-organize their railways which were in total chaos.  He found there were 10,000 rail cars of supplies waiting to go to the front and in order to get things moving, he had whole trains, which were blocking the movement of the rail cars, pitched over an embankment to get them out of the way.  This enabled the other supply trains to be on their way to the front allowing Russia to keep 300,000 men in the front line.  In cooperation with a British agent he was involved in operations against both the Germans and the Bolshevik forces. During this time he ran a...

ESCAPE AND EVASION ~ THREE MORE STORIES OF COURAGE

  WINSTON CHURCHILL ~ During the Boer War, Winston Churchill was a war correspondent; he was captured by the Boers in November of 1899.  He was armed and thus considered a belligerent so was imprisoned with British officers in a converted school in Pretoria.  On December 12, 1899, he vaulted over the wall and made his escape.  He followed the railway, walking at night and sleeping during the day. He made it to the Mozambique border (then a Portuguese colony) and reported to the British Consul in Lourenco Marques.  He then took a boat to Durban in South Africa and joined a South African Military Unit, but did return to England several months later; he eventually ran for Parliament.           FRANZ VON WERRA ~ On September 5th, 1940, Werra’s plane was shot down over Kent.   He crash-landed in a field and captured by an unarmed cook of a nearby army unit.  Initially held in Maidstone’s barracks, he attempted his first escape.  He had been put to work digging and was faced down by Private Denis Rickwood in a small truncheon.  He was interrogated for 18 days and eventually sent to the London District Prisoner of War ‘cage’ and then to POW Camp No. 1. On October 7th, he tried to escape once again, this time during a daytime walk outside the camp.  He slipped over a wall into a field; guards alerted the local farmers and the Home Guard.  On October 10th, two Home Guard soldiers found him sheltering from the rain in a hoggarth, but he quickly escaped and disappeared into the night....
NOW IN OUR LIBRARY ~ ESCAPE AND EVASION ~ THREE STORIES OF COURAGE

NOW IN OUR LIBRARY ~ ESCAPE AND EVASION ~ THREE STORIES OF COURAGE

Most people are aware POWs on both sides will try to escape and return to their own lines. When one is taken prisoner, all you need to give the enemy is your name, rank and serial number.  On both sides interrogators try every trick to learn more and an unfortunate slip can give the enemy a lot of information. A prisoner will try to escape but even if he is not successful, the opposing side must divert many resources in an attempt to recapture the escapee.  One should never cooperate with the enemy unless the end result is to your advantage and not to theirs. During WWI and WWII, when a person escaped in an enemy country, it helped if you could blend in with the local population, speak the language, and dress like the locals.  Having forged papers was an asset as well.  In an occupied country, an escapee could often rely on the local population for food and shelter, and many were soon linked up with an escape route.  Many local people were very short of food but did what they could to help. During those times, the RCAF was not a professional force; most of its people were civilians who enlisted and many men (and women) came from a large cross section of trades and professions.  When these men were put together in a prison camp, their combined skills could produce almost anything. Over the years, people have made good their escape.  I’ve selected a few examples to show you what they achieved.   W/C T.D. CALNAN ~ There is an old saying, “If you do not...

Get our articles sent via
email