Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

For King and Empire

90 YEARS AGO TODAY, Sir Arthur Currie's Canadian Corps triumphed at the Battle of Passchendaele.

It was a welcome relief for the British Empire after slogging it for months in the misery of the thick mud, and all the more so given the dangerously low morale and mutinous French Army that the Allies had to contend with at this particular juncture of the Great War. Passchendaele shifted the bleeding from the French to the British and secured the reputation of the Canadian Corps as an élite fighting force on the Western Front.

Throughout the year leading up to the Armistice, the Canadian Corps would be called upon again and again as shock troops to soften up the German divisions and weaken the morale of the German Imperial High Command. Prior to the victories at Amiens and the last Hundred Days, however, there was the great spring German Offensive of 1918, which caused much foreboding in high circles of the Supreme Allied Command. Perhaps no words were more stirring at this critical juncture than that of General Sir Arthur Currie to his troops:

"Today the fate of the British Empire hangs in the balance. I place my trust in the Canadian Corps knowing that where Canadians are engaged, there can be no giving way. You will advance or fall where you stand facing the enemy. To those who will fall, I say, you will not die but step into immortality. Your Mothers will not lament your fate but will be proud to have born such Sons. Your names will be revered for ever and ever by your grateful country and God will take you unto Himself. I trust you to fight as you have ever fought with all your strength, with all your determination, with all your tranquil courage. On many a hard fought field of battle you have overcome the enemy. With God's help you shall achieve victory once more."

6 comments:

David Byers said...

Beaverbrook, I’m a bit of a Great War buff and know that this great Canadian should be better known. We in Australia had Monash and he is better known these days and Arthur Currie should be as well. The Crown will never forget the debt it owes Canada.

Anonymous said...

A potential first step in our consolidation: Britain applies to join the Canadian confederation. Thoughts?

Cato

Neil Welton said...

So it be, some ninety years on, they be so revered.

By us.

Here.

I wonder what they would make of that.

As we do so we also remember our own family, friends and acquaintances. Those who died, well before their time, often in the most terrible of ways. Speaking most personally, I would like to give just one example. For I can't think of a much worse death than drowning. Can you?

Yet these names not be known by the many. Only by those who knew and did love them. We remember.

Kipling said...

Cato,

My own view is that Imperial Federation was a great lost opportunity. As for admitting Britain into Confederation I'd be all for it. Rideau Hall isn't as fine as Buck House, but the natural scenery more than makes up for that.

Beaverbrook,

"Your names will be revered for ever and ever by your grateful country"

I can't tell you how much I wish that were true. In very every school and university in the country, built before 1945, there is a plaque to honour these men. They gather dust. History is so poorly taught in this country that there is no sense of what these men did and why it matters.

They say Canadians have a weak sense of identity and are disinterested in their political system. Well, of course, they know nothing about its past. It's the same reason why there is such a frustrating indifference to the monarchy in Canada. So few understand why we have a monarchy in the first place.

It all fits together. We can't honour these men properly without trying to understand them, understand why they died for King and Empire.

Matt Bondy said...

Fine sentiments.

We have been collectively forced to digest a revisionist history that eschews our Imperial heritage. It is bollocks, and nothing more.

Each of us must commit to challenging the self-loathing, anti-historical orthodoxy of our time.

MB

Beaverbrook said...

Monash and Currie were probably the two most outstanding field commanders of the Great War. When the two Anzac and Canadian dominion corps fought as one for the first time on Aug 8, 1918, it was "Black Day" for the German Army. The two overstrengthed corps were really full fledged field armies, but extra lean and mean due to the fact that they came without that extra layer of command bureaucracy that all British armies came with.