Editor’s Corner

A happy late-war Canadian Halifax crew

Courtesy of the Halifax Restoration Project, Trenton

A happy late-war Canadian Halifax crew.

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Welcome to a frosty 53rd edition Canadian Military Journal as we enter our 14th year of publication. We have put together a rather eclectic issue this time out, so hopefully, there will be at least something contained between these covers to pique the interest of each and every one of you.

Since these words are being penned during our annual period of national remembrance, I would like to draw our reader’s attention to this issue’s cover image. It is entitled, The First of the Ten Thousand, by British Columbia artist John Rutherford. It was commissioned by the Canadian Bomber Command Museum in Nanton, Alberta, and it graces our cover, courtesy of both the artist and the museum.

On 4 September 1939, one day after Britain’s declaration of war on Germany, Sergeant Pilot Albert Stanley Prince, born in Montreal but a Canadian expatriate and member of the Royal Air Force since 1935, was piloting one of 15 Bristol Blenheim bombers tasked to bomb German warships moored in the North Sea port of Wilhelmshaven. These warships turned out to be the pocket battleship Admiral Scheer and the cruiser Emden. Bombing individually at masthead height, while the initial attacks caught the defenders by surprise, Sergeant Prince, by virtue of his assigned position in the attack formation, was one of the latter pilots to attack the Admiral Scheer:

There was no element of surprise when Sergeant Prince arrived over the target. The German flak was heavy and well directed. Three of the four bombers that attacked were shot down during their low level bombing runs. A German witness reported the fate of a fourth: “The crew of one Blenheim attacked at such a low level that the blast of their own bomb on the warship destroyed the RAF aircraft.” Apparently the delay fuse malfunctioned… The aircraft flown by Sergeant Prince was one of the three that appear to have been shot down by flak. In an interview with a German journalist, Sergeant G.F. Booth, the observer [navigator], whose position was in the nose of the Blenheim was asked. “…if he noticed how the aircraft was shot down.” He answered, “…we hit something…I was looking forward. I just saw the water and heard the crash.” It appears the aircraft went down quickly, but Sergeant Prince must have had some control as the bomber was ditched in the harbour. All three crew members were successful in getting out of the aircraft and were picked up by a pilot boat. But Sergeant Prince had been mortally injured during the landing and died later in hospital.1

Thus, to Albert Stanley Prince fell the dubious distinction of becoming the first Canadian Second World War casualty from any of the fighting services, a full five days before Canada’s formal declaration of war. He also became the first of over 10,000 Canadian Bomber Command aircrew who would perish during that conflict out of the approximately 40,000 Canadian airmen who served in that command, a mortality rate of over 25 percent. Lest we forget…

Once again, there is no dedicated ‘Valour’ column in this issue, since there were no announcements of military valour awards or formal presentations of them during the reporting period. However, here at the CMJ, we remain committed to acknowledging the combat valour of our soldiers, sailors, and airmen and airwomen, and we shall continue to do so if ever and when ever such announcements are made public.

‘Leading the charge’ this time out, defence scientist Dr. James Moore examines the host of non-conventional actors that are found in today’s battlespace. In his own words, “There are any number of irregular adversaries that populate the complex battlespace in which members of the Canadian Armed Forces may find themselves operating in future campaigns.” Moore believes that, given this ‘grab bag’ of applicable labels pertaining to these adversaries, be they warlords, narco-traffickers, insurgents or terrorists, what is needed is “…a shared, comprehensive term that facilitates the generation and communication of knowledge related to the intentions, capabilities, and behaviours of the host of actual or potential irregular adversaries likely to be encountered in post-Afghanistan operations.” He then goes on to propose such a candidate, the Armed Non-state Actor, or ANSA.

Moving right along, the historical advisor to the Canadian Army for the war in Afghanistan, Dr. Sean Maloney asks the rhetorical question, “Was it worth it?” with respect to Canada’s participation in the Afghanistan war. After presenting a lot of compelling points and analysis, he believes it was, and that with the help of Canada, much has been done to help the Afghans succeed. However, according to Maloney, “What the Afghans choose to do (and they are more than capable of making such decisions) with all this is another matter. Whether they have the capacity as a society to continue along this trajectory or relapse is in their hands, not ours.”

Maloney is followed by François Gaudreault’s assessment of the security threat as it exists at the national border between Canada and the United States. Gaudreault, a serving naval officer who is currently the Intelligence Collection Manager for the Canadian Joint Operations Command, concludes that while great strides have been made in the improvement of border security in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, what is fundamentally needed is a much better appreciation of just what actually constitutes the threat, and what constitutes an acceptable level of risk.

Then, in an article that bridges current political science and economic issues with lessons from the past, Major Garrett Lawless and Professor A.G. Dizboni take a closer look at President Dwight David Eisenhower’s farewell address to the American people on the eve of his retirement in 1961. In it, Eisenhower called for many things in balance, but most of all, for “…an alert and knowledgeable citizenry.” In the authors’ words, “Indeed, the fruitfulness of this address for today’s audience lies in the high task of developing our own understanding of what divergent truths led to this call for balance in the first place, so that we may be alert to just how tenuous our knowledge of these great subjects are today…” Finally, our major articles section closes again upon an historical note, this time with an analysis from Lieutenant (N) Jean-François LeBeau as to why amphibious warfare was used so extensively during the War of 1812. Lebeau maintains that this was rationalized by geographical constraints, for psychological effects, for gaining the initiative and avoiding disastrous courses of action, and for increased operational mobility and flexibility.

We have two very different opinion pieces this time out. In the first, Commander Jacques Olivier examines the teachings of Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, and Clausewitz, and asks if there has truly been “… a fundamental change in the nature of the operational art of war” as it has been conducted over the last two millennia. He is followed by Professor Pascale Marcotte from the University of Moncton, who makes a compelling argument for the establishment of a Canadian remembrance trail through the various towns and villages in France and Belgium liberated by Canadian soldiers during the First World War.

We then offer Martin Shadwick’s perpetually thought-provoking opinions with respect to defence procurement in Canada, this time homing in on the specific acquisition needs and the issues and problems associated with them for each of the three fighting services. Finally, close with a clutch of individual book reviews for your recommended winter reading.

Until the next time.

David L. Bashow
Editor-in-Chief
Canadian Military Journal

 

Addendum to Editor’s Corner

A memorial commemorating the tragic loss of 55,573 Bomber Command airmen from Commonwealth and Allied nations during the Second World War was dedicated in Green Park, London, on 28 June 2012. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II unveiled a bronze statue, depicting seven Bomber Command aircrew that stands at the centre of the memorial. Its roof is constructed from aluminum drawn from a Canadian Handley Page Halifax III bomber from 426 Squadron that was shot down over Belgium on 12 May 1944, killing all eight crew members. These airmen were but a fraction of the 10,659 Canadian airmen now known to have perished while serving with wartime Bomber Command. The memorial also commemorates the people of all nations who lost their lives in the bombing campaigns of 1939-1945.

DND photo FA2012-1038-002 by Sergeant Alain Martineau

A memorial commemorating the tragic loss of 55,573 Bomber Command airmen from Commonwealth and Allied nations during the Second World War was dedicated in Green Park, London, on 28 June 2012. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II unveiled a bronze statue, depicting seven Bomber Command aircrew that stands at the centre of the memorial. Its roof is constructed from aluminum drawn from a Canadian Handley Page Halifax III bomber from 426 Squadron that was shot down over Belgium on 12 May 1944, killing all eight crew members. These airmen were but a fraction of the 10,659 Canadian airmen now known to have perished while serving with wartime Bomber Command. The memorial also commemorates the people of all nations who lost their lives in the bombing campaigns of 1939-1945.

Tribute to Wartime Bomber Command

Bomber Command played an essential part as a guarantor of Allied victory during the Second World War. It provided an offensive tool that took the fight to the enemy when none other was available, and it gave the citizens of the Allied nations hope and pride while it did so. It provided Britain and the Dominions, through its very prosecution, a political dimension through which it could influence the conduct of the war. It demanded a significant diversion of German resources away from the Eastern Front, thereby aiding the USSR in its part of the combined struggle. It struck substantial, unrelenting blows against enemy morale. It threw Germany’s broader war strategy into disarray, forcing it to adopt a reactive, rather than proactive stance through industrial decentralization, which placed unsupportable burdens on a transportation system already stretched to the limit. This massive, diversified and sophisticated system was, in turn, the recipient of many crippling blows. The bombing campaign also generated a loss of German air superiority and meted out significant damage to the Reich’s industrial base, and it eventually starved the nation of petroleum products. It effectively stymied economic mobilization and technological development in many areas, and it goaded the Nazis into costly and ineffective retaliation campaigns. While a great human price was paid for these accomplishments, the gains realized were formidable.

A spectacularly lifelike structure depicting a weary seven-man bomber crew, back on terra firma after a combat sortie, but anxiously scanning the skies for their returning comrades.

DND photo FA2012-1038-007-01 by Sergeant Alain Martineau

A spectacularly lifelike structure depicting a weary seven-man bomber crew, back on terra firma after a combat sortie, but anxiously scanning the skies for their returning comrades.

A spectacularly lifelike structure depicting a weary seven-man bomber crew, back on terra firma after a combat sortie, but anxiously scanning the skies for their returning comrades.

DND photo FA2012-1038-014 by Sergeant Alain Martineau

A spectacularly lifelike structure depicting a weary seven-man bomber crew, back on terra firma after a combat sortie, but anxiously scanning the skies for their returning comrades.

Note

  1. Dave Birrell, “Sergeant Pilot Albert Stanley Prince: The First of the 10,000,” in Airforce, Vol. 23, No. 2 (Summer 1999), p. 54.