Newsletter - RUSI Vancouver
Highlights of the March 13 Newsletter
World War II: Mar 14 - 20, 1943
John Thompson Strategic Analyst - Quotes from his book “Spirit Over Steel”
Supreme Court to Hear Case on Constitutionality of Military Justice Systembr> The Canadian Press - Mar 7, 2018
China Has Built Seven New Military Bases in South China Sea
Beijing’s assertive territorial claims in disputed waterway is ‘coordinated,
methodical and strategic’, Admiral Harry Harris says.
Feb 15, 2018
RCAF Doesn't Like to Admit it flew Russian Mil-17-V5s
Updated: March 2018
Military Documentary Showcases Alberta Reservists' Experiences Overseas
Sheldon Spackman - Mar 9, 2018
Skiers! Military Epic Passes – On Sale Now!
Vancouver Artillery Association Yearbook Updates
Who Is It
Canadian Assn for Security and Intelligence Studies, Vancouver - SFU, Every Third Thursday
Vancouver Welsh Men's Choir - Mar. 16
Vancouver Welsh Men's Choir - Mar. 17
St. Patrick's Day Party - Mar. 18
Canadian Club of Vancouver Luncheon - Mar. 22
Canadian Cavalry Brigade Seely Luncheon 2018 - Mar. 30
BCR St. Julien Dinner - Apr. 7
Artillery Day 2018, Gun Camp - May 26
Robert W. Mackay's Newsletter "Forces with History"
The battle at Moreuil Wood on March 30th 1918 and the subsequent engagement at Rifle Wood two days later came to define the role played by the Canadian cavalry in the Great War. The preceding months and years in the trenches and out of them, and the cavalry’s role in the Hundred Days that followed Moreuil and Rifle Wood, were brutal and costly. But for sheer bloodiness and loss of life, and as well as for significance to the Allied war effort, those two engagements stand out.
Lieutenant S. H. Williams, author of Stand to Your Horses, was there for both battles. He observed that after Rifle Wood the Strathcona’s were down to 98 officers and men, out of their normal complement of 350. Counting the other two regiments, the Dragoons and the Garrys, they mustered fewer than 300 able-bodied men between them.
The German Operation Michael onslaught made it no further than Moreuil and Rifle Woods. In fact, both sites were hard-won by the Canadians and British in the two battles, but were again later occupied by the enemy. As Williams noted, on August 8 at the commencement of the Battle of Amiens, the German line stood right where “…we had held them up on March 30 at Moreuil Wood and on April 1 at Rifle Wood.”
One part of the fight at Moreuil Wood captured the imagination of the public shortly after, and is about to be commemorated on March 30th this year, its centennial. The charge of Lieutenant Gordon Flowerdew’s “C” Squadron, memorialized in a painting held in Ottawa, will be re-enacted by the Lord Strathcona’s Mounted Troop on that day. It will also be marked by dinners, lunches, and reunions all across Canada and in Europe. Courage shown by those troopers a hundred years ago continues to inspire Canadian troops today.
For images of Moreuil and surroundings, and past observations of March 30th Moreuil Day, see my blog post. There's also a photo of my dad and me. Dad was a casualty with many wounds he caught in Flowerdew's charge, so he was one of the 250 or so Strathcona's who couldn't answer the bell for April 1st and Rifle Wood.
Forces With History has its emphasis firmly on "History" for now.
Many of FWH's early posts dealt with the Battle of Moreuil Wood and the charge of Lieutenant Flowerdew's "C" Squadron of Lord Strathcona's Horse (RC). On March 30th this year LSH(RC) will be back on hallowed ground.
Making the trip will be a large contingent of Strathcona's, including their Mounted Troop; dignitaries; and descendants of those in the battle a hundred years ago.
To find out more about what was going on in those dark days, see a thumbnail sketch of the circumstances on my blog: www.robertwmackay.ca/blog.
Many of the readers of Forces With History will have thoughts or comments; I'd be happy to receive them via reply to this email. No doubt others will find them interesting as well.
The CBC did an excellent news item about HMCS CHICOUTIMI and her activities in the eastern Pacific. She's been working with USN and Japanese forces, and help monitor North Korean shipping. Even if you caught the item on the National on February 6th, I recommend you check out the longer and more detailed photos and videos on the CBC news website.
I’m sure the RCN is very happy to see MV ASTERIX has been under way and now in Halifax. She’ll be manned by a civilian crew, but will carry RCN personnel in addition once she is operational. Bravo Zulu to Davie Shipyards, who moved to the front of the line to purchase, convert, and lease ASTERIX to the navy. All of that to the presumed great relief of naval commanders, who will once again have a general-purpose ship able to provide fuel, stores, medical aid, air support, etc to far-flung warships.
There is an obvious burning question, however: what about the second coast? And why is DND refusing to order a sister ship to fill the ongoing need? If a followup ship isn’t ordered from Davie or sourced elsewhere, the fleet will continue to limp along, and it’ll be years before the long-planned replenishment AORs appear
For an excellent pictorial external tour of ASTERIX, check out my friend and naval author Roger Litwiller’s blog post here.
Veering away from weightier defence-related items, it’s time to plan ahead—for a look back.
March 30th, 2018, will mark one hundred years since “C” Squadron, Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) charged machine guns, rifles, and artillery at Moreuil Wood, France. Leading the charge was Lt. Gordon Flowerdew, a transplanted Englishman resident in B.C.
With Flowerdew was Sergeant Tom Mackay, First Troop Sergeant. Flowerdew earned a posthumous VC, while my father received an amazing number of wounds to his legs but, happily for his descendants, survived!
Now for the serious look back: the Strathcona’s Mounted Troop will be in Moreuil, France, on March 30th, to recreate the famous charge. The poignancy of the occasion will be emphasized by their uniforms, recently obtained World War One cavalry khakis.
I’ll be there, along with a contingent of Strathcona’s, civilians, and French officials. With any luck I’ll bring back some video of the occasion. In the meantime, for a preview, look here on my facebook page and scroll down to see a minute or so of video of the Mounted Troop tent-pegging on Vancouver Island last summer.
If you’d like to know more about the planned events, and perhaps attend, just reply by email and I'll supply more info.
For a look at Tom Mackay's story, see my historical novel "Solder of the Horse", available at bookstores, on Amazon, or through me for a signed copy.
In the meantime, thanks for subscribing to Forces With History. May you and yours have a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year!
* P. S.You're entitled to a free ebook when you buy a paperback copy