Thursday, July 19, 2018

Medak And Medusa

The Canadian War Museum's conclusion of the Cold War leads into other more recent events. First of these to be examined is Desert Storm. Canadian forces were part of the international coalition that rose up after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, with Navy and Air Force elements involved. Three paintings are featured among the exhibits, each by Ted Zuber, whose Korean War work I showed you yesterday. Replenishment At Sea- Gulf War is the first, and depicts a Canadian destroyer, Terra Nova, after receiving supplies from another Canadian ship, Protecteur.

Loaders shows Canadian women serving in theatre during the war, preparing to arm a fighter jet at the Canadian base of operations in Qatar.

Night Run depicts soldiers patrolling their base during the operations in the Gulf. While Navy and Air Force participated actively in the coalition efforts, it was soldiers in armoured vehicles like this guarding the operating bases in theatre.

The Nineties moved on, and Canadians were involved in peacekeeping operations on behalf of the UN that turned out to be anything but. The Rwandan civil war exploded into full fury while the world ignored it. Romeo Dallaire, a Canadian career soldier, was the general in command of the outmanned peacekeeping mission, and ultimately could do nothing but bear witness to slaughter while the world turned away (his book, Shake Hands With The Devil, is a haunting account of what happened). It has had a lasting effect on him personally, as well as those under his command. There are several displays and artifacts here about Rwanda, but this panel caught my eye because it offers more of a sense of hope- child soldiers who have moved away from the madness, with the general among them.

Yugoslavia was another powderkeg in the 90s, and Canadians were on the ground during the conflicts that ripped that former nation to shreds. Firefight In The Medak Pocket was originally painted (and reproduced here on the wall) by artist Katherine Taylor, who accompanied Canadian troops into Croatia. Canadian and French units came into the village of Medak to enforce a ceasefire agreement and came under attack from Croatian forces. Over the next fifteen hours they held their ground and exchanged fire until the Croatian forces were driven back.

9/11 of course finds its way into the story- a section of airplane fuselage recovered from the World Trade Centre is displayed here. After that attack, the Canadian military deployed into Afghanistan.

The front of this G-Wagen was destroyed by an IED planted by Afghan insurgents during Canadian operations in that country. Protective armour saved the soldiers and one journalist inside. The accompanying panel features a photograph of one of them done after the incident.

War: Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan was painted by Douglas Laing in 2009, depicting part of Operation Medusa. It's a personal painting, as the artist's son took part in the 2006 battle.

This stained glass window was made by artist Theo Lubbers, a Dutch citizen who immigrated to Canada after the Second World War. For years it was found at the Dutch consulate in Montreal. Now it resides here, in the Legion Hall of Honour, where a number of different items related to commemoration are placed.

The path leads on, down to Regeneration Hall, where a series of casts are placed. Walter Allward designed the massive Vimy Memorial in France at Vimy Ridge, site of a major World War One victory for Canadians. The Memorial is adorned with sculpted allegorical figures. These casts are his originals, larger than human, but smaller than the final sculptures on the Memorial. They have a permanent place in the museum.

Regeneration Hall leads out into Lebreton Gallery, where military vehicles and equipment from multiple nations and multiple eras are put on display. That happens to include the round containers you see at the heart of this shot. They're a legacy of the Second World War, a weather station called Kurt. It was placed by German sailors at the north edges of Labrador, transmitting weather data back to the German navy for a few days until it went offline. It was forgotten for decades after the war; any passerby in the remote region might have seen the markings that were made to look as if it was Canadian government issued and just taken it at face value. A German researcher in the 1980s looking through records found its existence and sent on word to Canadian authorities. Now Kurt is at home here.

The multitude of vehicles includes that Canadian fighter jet mounted overhead, and Lebreton Gallery is always a busy spot, especially so on Canada Day.

I finish with this large mural, one of several mounted on a wall overlooking the way out. The Taking Of Vimy Ridge, Easter Monday 1917 is by Richard Jack, depicting the technology behind the Canadian victory of the First World War battle. Tomorrow we'll move onto another museum.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Cold War And Peace

The Cold War dominates the next section at the War Museum. This is the M3 Half Track, an armoured vehicle that was in use during the Korean War, which is examined in this section.

Ted Zuber was a soldier during that war, fighting as part of the Canadian efforts as a parachutist and sniper. He had enlisted while still an art student, and came away from the war with memories that later fueled his art. Several of his paintings hang here in this section. Reverse Slope finds soldiers in downtime at the front.

New Year's Eve captures Zuber's time in tunnels near the front, a particularly tense final day of the year with enemy grenades wrecking havoc.

A mock up of a situation room you might have found at a military base in the 70s or 80s is found here. The screens include stats on NATO and the Warsaw Pact, and feature war game scenarios of World War Three.

Peacekeeping is also examined in this section. The blue beret of UN peacekeepers is a familiar sight, and one is on display.

It was Lester Pearson, our esteemed prime minister, who was critical in devising the concept of peacekeeping during the Suez Crisis, at a time when he was foreign minister. He won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts- the original is displayed today at our foreign ministry, while a replica is displayed here with other service medals for Pearson, who as a young man had served in the First World War.

This painting is titled Hercules Aircraft At Ismaila, Egypt, by Colin Williams, showing a Canadian peacekeeping operation from 1974.

The October Crisis of 1970 is also examined. The Front de Liberation de Quebec, a terrorist group, kidnapped a British diplomat and kidnapped and murdered a provincial cabinet minister. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau invoked the only peacetime use of the War Measures Act to respond to the crisis, and he can be seen on a display screen here, speaking to a reporter at the time. CBC reporter Tim Ralfe asked the PM at the height of the crisis how far he might go in terms of suspending civil liberties to maintain order, and Trudeau's famous response was "well, just watch me."

Here we have artillery equipment of the era.

An editorial cartoonist by Adrian Raeside is featured here from the 1980s- the time of Brian Mulroney and government contract scandals. Raeside has left his days of editorials behind him, but you might know him from the daily comic strip The Other Coast.

As the Cold War moved into its final decade, new faces emerged in leadership on both sides.

The fall of 1989 and the end of the Cold War is examined as the Cold War section concludes. A section of the Berlin Wall is given a prominent spot. The federal government hosted a conference of foreign ministers in the wake of that autumn to determine the future of the two German states, and the Wall section was given to Canada as a gesture of thanks. On the side that would have faced West Berlin, it has graffiti. On the side facing East Berlin, there is none.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Waging A Global War

A reminder to members of City Daily Photo: the theme for August 1st is Music.

I went into the permanent galleries at the War Museum. They start out with conflict between First Nations peoples and start moving forward in time, placing Canadian military conflict in context with events around the world. This time I started photographing with the Second World War.

The section opens up with an examination of the world's unfolding status during the 1930s. This includes a Mercedes Benz limo, one of several used by Hitler. It was captured by Americans in 1945 and came into Canadian hands some years later.

This is a scale model of U-190, a German sub that surrendered to the Canadian navy at war's end.

One of the techniques the Japanese used against the Allies was the launching of balloon bombs over the Pacific, thousands of them sent with the winds towards North America to spread panic and start forest fires. Three hundred of those made the full crossing, with eighty of them in Canada.

This is a depth charge, used by Allied surface ships to combat submarines. They would sink to pre-set depths and detonate, with the objective of destroying subs by the shock waves.

A scale model is here. H.M.C.S. Swansea was a Canadian frigate used in the hunt for German u-boats.

A section about the home front features a series of posters of the time.

The section moves forward, including a fighter plane suspended above the gallery in an area dealing with the air war in Europe.

The Normandy Campaign is a large part of this section, and here one will find a doorway stepping out onto the terrace overlooking the Lebreton Gallery, where military equipment from multiple countries are exhibited. That is actually the final area of a tour one makes, and we'll be down there before I'm done.

Here the Normandy Campaign is examined, from D-Day to the Falaise Gap, before moving onto the final phases of the war.

The section ends with the conclusion of the war. Photographs of war's end and its aftermath dominate the walls, and items here include a captured Nazi flag and a roof tile from a building at Hiroshima.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Gauntlets And Bullets

Picking up where I left off yesterday, I have more from the Armour exhibit at the Canadian War Museum. This is the hockey gear for Shannon Szabados, a three time Olympic gold medallist for Canada. Contemporary goalie padding includes Kevlar, foam, titanium, plastic, and carbon in its design.

Here we have more helmets from various sports.

Thematically, the exhibit moved into combat armour, with examples of armour displayed from the Middle Ages courtesy of the Museo Stibbert.

This was one of those items you could try out, so it would be a contemporary reproduction as opposed to a classic artifact. You put on the gauntlet (right handed of course, no consideration for us southpaws) and pulled the sword from its hilt. I was able to do so, but it's rather awkward to handle.

More contemporary body armour in combat was also featured. This included German plate armour of the First World War, on the right, and Second World War era flak armour used by the American air force.

This is a current standard Canadian utility uniform. It includes a fragmentation vest, helmet, and other features meant to blend in and to protect the soldier wearing it.

Another aspect of current day technologies was displayed here- bulletproof vests for police officers.

There were some other hands-on items: replica light weight armour to try on, as well as a familiar shield for comics fans for photo ops.

There were two displays from movies that certainly qualify as armour. This, for instance, is body armour from the film Mad Max: Fury Road, for a character referred to as the Bullet Farmer, incorporating bullet shells into his garb as a form of armour in the hellish dystopia of the film. A photograph of the actor Richard Carter in character accompanies the display.

This, on the other hand, is the Mark XLII armour for Iron Man, life sized and positioned for photo ops. Apparently Tony Stark doesn't like it when you tell him Doctor Strange has a better beard.