Canadians in the Spanish Civil War
Speaker: Dr. James Kempling
Wednesday, 13 October, 2021 1:00 PM Webinar
The first Canadian volunteers arrived in Spain in early 1937 to fight Fascism, and by the time the Spanish Civil war ended, 1600+ Canadians had served. They would be assigned initially to the American, Abraham Lincoln Battalion. But by the end of July 1937, the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion, a largely Canadian unit, was formed and named after the leaders of Canada’s 1837 Rebellions. The International Brigades were ordered withdrawn finally in late 1938, with the last Canadian volunteers returning to Canada in early May, 1939. Upon their return to Canada, the Mac-Paps’ veterans received no recognition from the Canadian government or veteran’s support. However, what they did receive were interrogations by the RCMP about their political motivations for volunteering to fight in Spain. Since then, five private memorials have been raised to the Mac-Paps across Canada, including one in Victoria, BC.
Dr. Jim Kempling is a retired Colonel having served in the PPCLI for over 25 years, commanding 2nd Airborne Commando in Petawawa and later the 1st Battalion PPCLI. After retirement, he served in a variety of positions including Assistant Deputy Minister, Superintendent of Motor Vehicles in BC, General Manager of the PNE and VP of the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board. Later he ran a successful management consulting business providing project management and strategic planning for public and private agencies in Canada, the US and abroad. He has taught courses at UVic and his research centres on the Great War 1914-1918 in Canada. He received his PhD from UVic.
Afghanistan: Canadian Strategic Lessons Identified and Not Learned
Speaker: Dr. Howard Coombes
Wednesday, 10 November, 2021 1:00 PM Webinar
This presentation examines the evolution of Canada’s unique whole-of-government (WoG) approach, in the context of international cooperation, in Afghanistan. Although that effort resulted in great gains when the Canadian Forces were actively involved in combat roles, Canada does not seem interested in maintaining this WoG capability as a framework for quickly responding to current or future international crises.
Dr. Howard G. Coombs is an assistant professor and Associate Chair of War Studies at the Royal Military College in Kingston. He served in the Regular Army from 1979-2003 with overseas deployments to Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. He first deployed to Afghanistan as a Reservist in 2004. He is currently a Reserve Colonel, serving with the Office of the Chief of Reserves and Employer Support, at NDHQ. He further served in Afghanistan in 2010/11 as a civilian advisor to the Commander, Task Force Kandahar. Dr. Coombs is a graduate of the US Army Command and General Staff College, and the US Army School of Advanced Military Studies where he received his Master’s degree. He received his PhD from Queen’s University. His areas of research interests are Canadian professional military education, in addition to Canadian military ops and training since the Cold War.
Terrible Victory: First Canadian Army and the Scheldt Estuary Campaign 1944
Speaker: Mark Zuehlke
Wednesday, 12 January, 2022 1:00 PM Webinar
From the dust jacket of Terrible Victory- On September 13, 1944, First Canadian Army’s most horrific battle of World War Two began, in the Belgian and Dutch lowlands near Antwerp. The sixty-mile Scheldt waterway linking Europe’s greatest port to the North Sea was crucial to support the vast Allied armies rolling towards Germany. Told to open Antwerp at any cost, the Canadians slammed hard against the heavily entrenched German forces ordered to die in place. For Fifty-five days, a titanic contest unfolded between two equally determined foes.
Mark Zuehlke has been hailed by Jack Granatstein as Canada’s leading popular historian. Mark has won several awards for his writing, including the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize in 2006 and the prestigious Governor General’s History Award, also known as the Pierre Berton Award, in 2014. Mark’s 13-Book Battle Series on Canada’s military history in the Second World War covers the Canadian Army’s service in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and in Italy. He is also the author of other military histories including the War of 1812 and The Gallant Cause: Canadians in the Spanish Civil War, as well as several novels.