Larry, the previous owner of our boat, The M.V. Fort Hearne, has posted this video on YouTube of the Fort Hearne. Well, actually it is of his son catching a humongous Arctic Char, but the Fort Hearne plays a supporting role. Sigh.
I was kicking around the blogosphere just now, following some links that I don't normally follow, and seeing where they lead. Back when I used to watch more than Treehouse, Poker and the History channel I used to love the Drew Carey Show. I found Craig Ferguson (Mr Wicks) to be a very funny man, and I knew, somehow, that he now hosts the Late Late Show, which I've never watched. I think I'll start.
Rather than imbed the EyeTube video of this monologue I'm going to link direct to the blog that I found it on Grrrl meets world. This is an incredibly powerful monologue, the type of which I've never seen or heard of on Network TV before. Craig Ferguson is my new hero. And he's funny.
I'm continually amazed at the information that you can glean online, and also with that amazing tool/time waster, Google Earth. One of the things I'd really like to do at Vimy is stand where the 16th Battalion stood at 5:30 am, the time that they went over the top that Easter morning 90 years ago. I have a map (from Nicholson's History of the CEF) of the troop movements for the Vimy attack.
I took a screen shot of the Google Earth image of the area, and then in Photoshop played with the two images until they were the same scale. Then I superimposed the two images and figured out exactly where the 16th jumped off from. The area today is in farmer's fields a little south east of Neuville St. Vaast, and luckily a access road runs right along where the Canadian's front line used to be.
What I find incredible about this image from space is you can still see the scars on the land where the two front lines faced each other (and elsewhere), 90 years after it all the wars mark is still on the land.
In the picture I made I got the name of the cemetery wrong, it is Nine Elms Military Cemetery, not Thelus. In a little more than a month I'll be standing there, trying (and no doubt failing) to imagine what the scene before me would have been like as my Grandfather went over the top, amidst the shells and the machine gun fire as the piper in his company played (perhaps) the Reel of Tulloch or Devil in the Kitchen (which, by the way, were the tunes played by Piper James Richardson of the 16th when he won the Victoria Cross at Regina Trench.
The battle of Vimy Ridge is one of the significant events in Canada's history. It is often acknowledged as the watershed when Canada changed from part of the British Empire into it's own nation.
Vimy Ridge is a low ridge north of Arras that was held by the German Army for much of the war, although it may not look that imposing today, it was high enough to offer a commanding view of the Allied lines and surrounding area, and it offered a significant advantage for German artillery. The Germans thought of it as impregnable, and indeed in previous battles the French suffered more that 100,000 casualties trying to take it. (I often cringe when people portray the French as cowards and capitulators in jokes and monologues. They suffered some 5.6 million casualties in the Great War, including 1.4 million dead, a rate of some 75% of the 7.5 million men mobilized by them).
After their contributions at the Somme the entire Canadian Corp was moved to the Vimy Sector, functioning as its own distinct Corps. The Canadian Corps was fast developing the reputation as the "go to guys" of the British army, and that reputation was soon to be solidified at Vimy. When asked to take the Ridge they used some innovations that were to serve them well throughout the war. For one thing they trained hard, a life size mockup of Vimy Ridge was created in the Canadian Sector and by the time came for the actual battle, the troops knew the terrain they would be travelling over, and what their objectives were (and rather than trying to take as much land as they could they had specific objectives, in a series of steps). Maps were not the exclusive domain of officers and detailed maps were distributed down to at least the NCO's of the regiments. Perhaps the greatest innovation was the way they used their artillery. The men would advance behind a "rolling barrage" following the shelling at a specific rate. More significantly they had developed better methods of determining the location of enemy artillery and were able to take out most of them (I believe something like 80 percent) once the battle began.
Two weeks before the battle the Canadians and British artillery began what was the heaviest bombardment (to that time) of any war. In the week proceeding the battle they pounded German positions with over a million rounds of shells of all calibres. The Germans refer to the week prior to the attack as the "Week of Suffering". The battalions moved up to the front line late on the night the 8th of April 1917, early morning of the 9th of April. Most of them moved to the front line through tunnels cut into the Flander's chaulk. This both hid the movement of the troops and protected them from enemy shells.
At 5:29 am the 9th of April, 1917 the Canadian/British guns commenced their bombardment and at 5:30 am, all four Canadian Divisions, acting as a unit for the first time, went over the top, and by the end of the day most of Vimy Ridge was in Canadian hands. The fourth Division which had early suffered large losses (and significantly many of their trained and experienced soldiers) in a huge trench raid, were unable to capture the highest ground on Vimy Ridge, Hill 145 and The pimple, in the face of fierce enemy opposition. They were finally captured on the 12th of April and the Battle of Vimy Ridge was over.
Since the war had turned into the static trench warfare of attrition gains and losses were usually measured in yards. The capture of Vimy was the first tangible gain by the Allies, and was celebrated by France (who had paid dearly in trying to capture it. I don't have the exact quote but a senior French general upon hearing that Vimy had been captured said "It's impossible." but upon being told it was the Canadians that had captured it then said. "Oh, it is possible!") and the British Empire. But it was a victory that had come at a great cost. Between the 9th and the 12th 3600 Canadians were killed, out of the 30,000 that went over the top. Each battalion had 80 to 100 men killed in it, roughly one in every ten. My grandfather fought with the 16th Canadian Scottish. He lost many comrades that day, and saw his best friend killed. He was knocked to his knees by a piece of shrapnel (our own, from a shell that burst short) but some of his equipment diverted it and while it ripped off part of his clothing, it never penetrated his skin. The 16th suffered 333 casualties that day, 79 killed and another 19 missing, and some 235 wounded. They started with about 800 men in the trenches that day.
Today part of Vimy Ridge is on Canadian Soil. In honour of their sacrifices France gave over some 250 hectares in perpetuity to Canada. On that soil stands arguably the most impressive memorial to the sacrifices made in war ever. That is where I hope to be this April, 90 years after my grandfather went over the top, helping to make Canada the nation it is today, and me the man that I am.
Rurality has previously posted on Sun Dogs (and also on other sun effects) on her excellent blog. And once again proving that there isn't an original thought in my head I thought I'd post this picture of the sun dogs here this morning, taken about a half hour ago.
Growing up, we'd always thought of Sun dogs as harbingers of colder weather. I no longer think of them that way, as often they appear here when the weather is strikingly cold (which isn't the case today) and no further drop in temperature occurs.
Or at least I think I am. I've made up my mind that I'm going to Vimy for the 90th anniversary. The person I had found to do the cooking while I was away backed out, which is alright I suppose, we couldn't come to an agreement about what would be fair compensation for the two weeks I'd be away. But if I can't find anyone else then the House will become a true Bed and BREAKFAST for a couple of weeks. Hopefully I won't lose any clients but this is an opportunity I don't want to miss. Now provided my passport application goes off without a hitch...
Jennifer over at Nunablog has pointed me in the direction of a great blog with strong links to the Arctic. Canadian CKayaker isn't primarily about the Arctic but Michael, it's host, lived in Iglulik in the late 60's and recently returned there for a sea qayaq trip. His stories and photos of Iglulik in 1968 are fascinating, as it is when Inuit were making the transition from living on the land to living in town. Go visit, don't delay. (If you click on the "Arctic" category of the blog you can scroll right down to see the posts of Iglulik in 1968, but don't ignore the rest of the blog.)
Well, the results are in from our count from yesterday and I'll list all the species seen below:
Whew. The count was actually down from last year but we'll see what today brings. I would doubt that there are less ravens around then before. Strangely, there were no ravens at the dump. None, nada, zero. But it was late in the day and there didn't seem to be much there as it looks like they must have burnt and bulldozed on Friday. Most of the action was around the dog teams and we saw sixty-seven in total there. I'm almost willing to bet that no other observer in the GBBC could be looking through the binoculars at Ravens and have a team of dogs pulling a komotik come into view.
So far there has been zero participation in the GBBC in Nunavut apart from myself. I know last year there were counts in Iqaluit and Cambridge and perhaps elsewhere. I haven't had much reviewing work to do thus far.
So, if you're Nunavumiut and reading this, get out and do your count. Details on how to participate and how to submit your count can be found here.
I've long wanted to navigate the Northwest Passage and when the opportunity to buy the Fort Hearne in Kugluktuk came up we did. It was primarily going to be a part of our tourism based business but there was the added benefits (for me anyway) of having strong historical connections with the RCMP in the Arctic, and would need to be brought through the Northwest Passage.
When we made our opportunity in 2004 to re-caulk her, and then sail her from Kugluktuk to Arctic Bay nature had her surly way with us, and the ice never cleared from a key part of the passage. The lumber for the House was arriving and we needed to get back to start construction. Subsequent seasons there was neither the time nor (at in at least one of them) a clear enough passage.
I've decided that I need to reduce some of our short term debt and that having a wonderful vessel sitting on the beach on the other side of the Arctic is a luxury I can no longer afford. Besides it isn't fair to her to have her sitting on the beach, drying out, and not plying the waters. So we're going to try and sell the Fort Hearne.
So if you know anyone in the market for a 44 foot, 19 ton (gross - 12 ton registered) boat powered by a 200 HP Turbo Volvo diesel let me know. It comes very well equipped, and a part from a coat of paint and the usual maintenance is in very good (albeit dry) shape. Lord I wanted to make that trip.
As soon as I realized what had happened I dropped over the ridge, sliding to the bottom. Down below was a bush area, mostly thick black spruce, crisscrossed with trails. I quickly found his footprints and set off after him, but I quickly thought better of it, here was a fellow who had already assaulted three Members, showing no inclination for giving himself up, and I was alone without a radio. I scampered back up the ridge but still found myself alone. Tracy had left. No doubt she had gone to try and locate him coming out of the bush, but I now had no way to contact anyone. So, it was back to plan “A”, and I slid down the embankment once more, and started following Herman’s tracks.
At these temperatures, walking through the snow, unless it is fairly hard packed, is noisy. And as I got to a junction of two trails, not far from the ridge, I could here someone walking down the other trail to where I was. I positioned myself at the edge of the trail where I could surprise him, and prepared for the fight that was no doubt going to follow. The footsteps came closer and closer and I tensed, ready to spring. Suddenly out from the trail stepped… Mark and Wayne. I don’t think I would have won that fight. They had come into the trails hoping to catch him running from me.
After a quick conference we decided that Mark and I would continue to try and follow his trail, while Wayne would return to his truck and join Tracy in trying find him coming out of the bush. Mark and I had almost made our way out of the bush when Wayne called to say that he just saw Herman go into the McKay Apartments, a short run away from where we were.
Now the McKay apartments have four entranceways, and the way it is constructed meant that you couldn’t easily get from one half of the building to the other. When we got to the building Wayne was no where to be seen, and I ran around back to watch those two doors. Once again my not having a radio presented a problem. No one was running out and I had to get in and help. But which door to choose? Picking the one closest to where I was, I ran in and on the second stair landing I found Wayne and Herman.
Wayne had just knocked the fire extinguisher out of his hand (Yes, he still had it) and knocked him to the ground. I jumped on him and eventually got the handcuffs on him, as by this time everyone was there and helping. He continued to struggle as we took him out to one of the trucks. As there was a real possibility that he would kick out a window Mark and I crawled into the back with him. Mark sat on one side of him, I sat on the other, we linked our arms through his, and each put an leg over his, pinning him to the seat. Wild he continued to fight against us.
One of the things you learn in self-defense is that pain is an effective way of stopping someone from fighting. In order to be effective the person you are applying the pain to needs to know that the pain will stop if they stop. One of the things that I never learned, until out in the field, is that certain focused individuals will not feel pain, or react to it. Quite often it is people who are under the influence of something, but it could be anybody who is extremely single-mindedly focused on something or someone. It is a little unsettling when something you do, that should be causing someone pain, has no effect.