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Today is Remembrance Day

November 11, 2010

Today my country remembers those who have served under the Canadian flag, both in the defence of my nation and in actions overseas in the defence of other lives. The numbers of those who perished or suffered speak for themselves:

Thank you.

Note: Look at the numbers for World War I and II in comparison to the general population size at the time. Incredible!

Canada at War after Confederation

Nile Expedition, 1884: 16 of the “Nile Voyageurs” died during the Sudan campaign.

North-West Rebellion, 1885: 58 Canadian Militia force members killed, almost 100 wounded, and 70 Canadian Métis killed.

Boer War, 1889-1902: Over 7,000 served, and 267 died.

World War I, 1914-1918: 61,000 killed, approximately 172,000 wounded. Over 600,000 Canadians enlisted, and at the time Canada’s total population was approximately 8 million. I could not find the numbers for the Canadian Government Merchant Marines, which ferried vital supplies across the North Atlantic.

Russian Civil War involvement, 1918-1920: Numbers are hard to come by; 4000 – 6000 troops were dispatched and fought alongside other Allied forces throughout the Russian conflict zone, including the Murmansk and Archangel regions (Canadian Field Artillery), Black Sea, and Vladivostok (Siberian Expeditionary Force).

World War II, 1939-1945: Over 1 million served, with 42,042 killed, approximately 54,000 wounded, and almost 9,000 taken prisoner. At the time Canada’s total population was approximately 11.5 million. Canada’s Merchant Navy, which made thousands of crossings through the North Atlantic, witnessed over 1100 deaths primarily due to U-boat attacks. Canada’s Commonwealth Air Training contribution must also be remembered, with over 150,00o students involved in air combat instruction in our wide-open skies – including the training of combat pilots from England and the United States. Numerous accidental deaths and injuries occurred during this intense training program.

Korea War, 1950-1953: Over 500 killed, and approximately 1200 wounded.

United Nations/NATO Operations (not including Korea or Afghanistan), 1956 to Present: 125 dead. Couldn’t find numbers for the wounded.

Vietnam: Although Canada was not officially involved, a counter movement happened in relationship to American draft-dodgers seeking refuge north of the US border; Canadians, approximately 30,000 according to CBC Digital Archives, volunteered to fight in Vietnam. How many were actually involved in combat is difficult to establish, but 110 died in operations within Indochina.

Iraq, 2003: Although Canada was not officially involved, a small number of Canadian forces were on the ground as part of an exchange program with the American military.

Afghanistan (2001-present): 152 dead, many injured.

NORAD (1957-present): I’m unsure if any Canadian personnel have died in NORAD operations, but to those who have worked on the DEW and PINE lines, and for those continuing northern air-defence activities, thank you.

Before Confederation:

Canadian territory, both land and water, witnessed many battles and skirmishes before Confederation. Here are a few:

– French-Iroquois War.

– King William’s War: including the Battle for Hudson Bay.

– The fur-trade skirmishes.

– Queen Anne’s War: which contested the Maritimes.

– British and French War: including the Plains of Abraham.

– American invasion of 1775 (Battle of Quebec).

– American privateer skirmishes in the Maritimes.

– War of 1812: which witnessed the burning of York and the subsequent capture of Washington DC, and the burning of the Whitehouse.

– The Upper Canada Rebellion and the ill-fated private American invasion (Battle of the Windmill).

– Fenian Raids: the invasion of private American/Irish forces which resulted in battles, skirmishes, and threats to Canadian unity.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Leanne Teichrib permalink
    November 11, 2010 3:36 pm

    The numbers were staggering. The cost of human life was really not something I in 2010 can really grasp. The thing is, I want to grasp it. I do not want to forget the looks in the eyes of the men and women who have served in conflict as the “Last Post” is played. The solemn, distant looks they give, in that moment of silence, breaks my heart.

    They stand tall in that moment. Even though some of them now use walkers and sit in wheelchairs. I see a sad pride in their glances as they have memories of long ago flash like they were yesterday, through their minds eyes. I am thinking how hard it must be for them to watch the new generation of soldiers contend with their own losses.

    Life and Freedom are precious. These two things prodded young people for many generations to volunteer to fight, serve and sometimes die for a country full of people they loved. So when you see those veterans young or old please say thank you. They chose to follow a path they thought was worth the cost. I am forever grateful to all those who died. Their sacrifice, in my heart, will not be forgotten. The pain of their loss, felt by so many loved ones and friends, will be honored by us in this country as long as we do not forget the reason they felt they had to fight. Freedom.

    Here is a thought that my father, a veteran of WWII, has said to me many times.

    “Old age is not a bad thing. I have lived to see so many things. I have had a wonderful life, and yet I live while those young guys who went overseas and were killed never saw what I saw. They never had a chance to grow old. That is the shame”

  2. November 13, 2010 3:09 pm

    Thanks for compiling those statistics. I really had no idea.

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