But we are now coming up to the end of a five year period of remembrance of the horrible costs that war took on the United States. It also involved many dozens of countries around the world, including Canada, that supplied tens of thousands, many becoming cannon-foder in that time of massive destruction.
Today I want to adress an unpleasant and uncalled for attack on this blog, The attacker used his wet ammunition, if you will, and shall find that the attacked can also become the attacker.
Today's blog will first start on a more positive note.
A few weeks back I brought you a wonderful story, probably completely unmentioned in the Canadian press from coast to coast. It was a story about buses in Gloucestershire England. A transit organization called Stagecoach West, the local head of the Royal British Legion and the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum joined forces to recognize the 100th anniversary of the Great War. In doing so they decided to focus on the men and women of the Gloucestershire Regiment, and acknowledge the service of this regiment, and its forerunners, in 12 centuries of service to the British Empire and the free world.
Nine buses were selected for the project. Each had a plaque on the outside, a much larger one of the inside and brochures to give all customers about the Regiment's World War l, eight Victoria Cross and one George Cross recipients.
My interest in the project was because of a Canadian connection to the story that we at home should be aware of and appreciate. This of course was that one of the heroes being honoured was a Canadian. He was the Perth Ontario born Herbert Taylor Reade who was awarded the Victoria Cross before Canada even was a dominion. His VC would be Canada's 2nd VC ever, and was earned for bravery at the Siege of Delhi during the Indian Mutiny in 1857. Canada's first VC went of course to another Ontario man by the name of Alexander Dunn. His actions were in the famous Charge of the Light Brigade during the Battle of Balaclava in 1854. His VC would be the only VC awarded to any officer of that battle.
I ended that blog noting that I would be talking about HT Reade in the next blog. I later discovered that I already brought you his story, so it will not be repeated today. It can be re-read by going here...
Now onto another matter of a different tone!
A few other matters kept me from doing my blog last Sunday the 26th. But on that very day a Captain in the Canadian Forces decided he would use his military email, provide his name and title, and, perhaps from home on a Sunday, sat down to use his miltary email to send a most disturbing criticism of a blog I wrote TWENTY MONTHS AGO. That blog can be read at...
The blog remains the same as written back on 21 August 2013, with three exceptions. First, a date of 9 September was corrected to read 3 September, a reference to WW1 was corrected to read WW11, and the use of the initials WLNS were corrected to read WRCNS. These silly mistakes were corrected as a result of the email I received.
At the end of each blog appears a link to click on should the reader wish to send along some thoughts, and even corrections. A private email address is also given on the site should the writer wish that his or her views not be published on the site. Use of the link below results in publishing, if I approve the contents being forwarded.
These links and the email address have been very helpful in bringing further info to my attention and comments about my work, including where corrections are needed. For example, my spelling is often not what it ought to be. Sometimes I get dates wrong. Sometimes names are mispelled. But there is an old saying that to create an omelette you have to crack a few eggs. Mistakes happen! They get corrected when brought to my attention.
But the nature of the email I received was unfair, heavy handed and to be honest, insulting. Being sent by way of the comment section, raher than in a private email further raises the question... was it done as part of an agenda to cause further grief in a very public manner? I'll let you be the judge.
Because of the offensive overtone and unfair criticism, I thought I would not publish the email. But on second thought, lest this junior officer thinks I am avoiding the points he raised, I will chop his email up into 6 areas of concern on his part, with my comments to follow. I have chosen not to use his name or the service he represents. I have the utmost respect for all of the Cdn. forces, today and in days past. Identifying this individual or his branch may lead to ill will towards both. I wish neither, though do not intend to allow the attack to go unnoticed.
You'd best get a coffea and sit back. This will take a little while and I hope you will indulge me.
First issue: Here is the first line of the email.... "Your S.S. Athenia article. She was torpedoed on 3 September 1939, not on 9 September."
The first sentence does not make sense. It has a subject yet no verb, normal requirements of sentence construction. Can we not expect that at the very least, an officer in the CF can write basic sentences? Grammar aside, the officer is correct in noting that I said the sinking took place of the 9th, when it was actually the 3rd. This was a slip-up on my part and I knew at the time that the event was on the 9th. It slipped through my editing by mistake... unchallenged.
Second issue: The officer's next line reads... " It was WW2 not WW1."
My blog mentioned WWl twice. Once at the end on an unrelated matter. And once in the middle when I slipped up again, and did not pick it up at editing. It said that one of the two women I was writing about ..."would later be declared the first women (sp) in service in WW1 to perish at the hands of the enemy."
In the 2013 blog I repeatedly made references that were obviously about WWll. In fact the portion of the blog dealing with all these issues started with the statement that the two women I was speaking about... "were among the FIRST CANADIANS KILLED IN WWII." Note the ORIGINAL capitals from the blog. Yet later in the article I erroneously said it was WWl rather than WWll.
A careful examination before firing off with wet ammunition, would have revealed a silly slip up but that the writer clearly knew from elsewhere in the blog that the events were in the second and not the first war. Yet the criticism was unfair in not only reconizing, by admitting this is the caustic email forwarded. Had he spent any time on the site he would have also seen two photo's one of the grave of one of the women and the other a plaque containing the 2nd woman's name. And in both the dates of Wll are most clear in the images. So the criticism is nothing short of heavy handed, uncalled for and unfair.
Third issue: The officer's next line reads... "Canada did not declare war on Nazi Germany the next day, but on 10 September."
I knew that war was declared by us on the 10th of September. As I was writing the blog I looked at the wrong sinking day..9 September, and just added a day to say we went to war the next day. Makes sense I'd say! But evidence that I knew we went to war on the 10th was right in the very article which also gave that very date. But the eye's of the hawk of this officer who was looking for mistakes, clearly either did not see that sentence, or worse yet possibly ignored it as it did not boister his rants.
Fourth issue: His email continues with... "If you're going to operate a "Canadian Medal of Honor" site, you should at least try to get the basic facts straight."
There is no need to pose the question about the continuation of the blog. Anyone with an intellect beyond that of a jar of peanut butter ought to be able to figure that one out!
Having provided the explanations above, I would like to note that I have been researching the Canadian recipients of the Medal of Honor for some 15 years. Over the recent past I have expanded this to include a long time interest in the Victoria Cross recipients from Canada, or connected to Canada. I have been often reminded that my slant on my MOH research and subsequent activities is well known, respected ...and I would add... probably unequalled... anywhere in North America.
In doing this work, completely on a volunteer and unpaid basis, I have travelled some 40,000 km plus, spent possibly in the area of $20,000, and handled thousands of in and outbound emails on the subjects at hand. Some of these efforts have been covered in over 300 stories in this space. For about the first year..incuding 20 months ago, I was writing a blog almost daily. The "offending" blog was about my 175th at the time. Few daily newspapers carry daily columns from the same writers. Paid ones at that.
I wonder what comparable service this officer can put on the table..work done for free, and in fact at high costs personally to boot!
I have received many words of appreciation over the years from many officers far superior to this junior officer. Words of thanks have come from Admirals and Generals and Colonels and most other ranks right down to the front line soldiers, sailors, airmen and coastguard members. Politicians at the municipal level, cabinet ministers at the provincial and federal level and even two ambassadors have shown me their appreciating for the work I do.
One would think that having said all of this, I would be entitled to more respect from this serving member of our forces. Had I still been wearing my uniform as a Master Warrant Officer at this time, I can assure him and all readers that this officer's remarks would form the basis of a Redress of Grievance in the military with him at the wrong end. And having taught the subject to over 500 young officers and literally played a major role in the expansion of Redress Rights of serving and some former serving members AROUND THE WORLD I'll add I know a little about the subject.
Lecture 101 is almost over Captain!
Fifth issue: The officer's critcism continued with... "A grade school child could find these out."
This year marks the 50th anniversary of my joining the CF. I suspect that this officer was not even born then. Having said as much, no doubt his passing through grade school was a more recent experience than mine. However the reference to my work being below that of grade school student is chilling. The overall criticism, whilst making a few good points, is one made without taking the entire article into context. Thus a refrence to three self explained errors ought not to have resulted in such a condemnation of the entire piece.
The insulting comparison is more disturbing, not from whom it comes, but upon a reflection of that member's possible worth as a spokesman for the CF. While his graders are perhaps not as able as he to grasp the concepts of fairness and professionalism, his duty is to do just that and to treat members of the public with some respect. His own training has presumably exposed him to the expectation of cautioning when criticism is curt, and why these fall far below the accepted standards of behaviour for members of the CF, and in particular, those who are supposed to lead rather than follow. The CODE of PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT FOR CF PERSONNEL and the DND and CF Codes of Values and Ethics contain guidelines he should be familiar with. His email evidences the need for some retraining and subsequent performance monitoring.
Sixth issue: Finally I shall end with a win for the officer. He manged to find yet another error. I was making a reference to the women of the navy in WW11. Somehow the initials WRCNS became WLNS.
Again sloppy editing on my part, but great for the officer who managed to have the time, perhaps yet again maybe on our tax dollar, to determine that the WLNS was a US news Outlet.
I wonder if any of them used to be in the CF! Tens of thousands of Americans did serve with Canadian units... in BOTH world wars.
Thanks for your tolerance with this rant.
I remain a very stong supporter to our forces, past and present and will continue to bring you stories of this proud heritage, despite attempts to disrail along the way.
Bart Armstrong, CD, MWO (Ret.)