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An Uneasy Truce

Posted 2013.11.27 21.37 in Cats
The New Chair

The New Chair

For Valour

Posted 2011.11.11 10.00 in Uncategorized

From the London Gazette, # 30903, September 16, 1918:

For most conspicuous bravery and extraordinary devotion to duty when in charge of a Lewis gun section in the front line trenches, on which a strong enemy raid was attempted.

During an intense bombardment Cpl. Kaeble remained at the parapet with his Lewis gun shouldered ready for action, the field of fire being very short. As soon as the barrage lifted from the front line, about fifty of the enemy advanced towards his post. By this time the whole of his section except one had become casualties. Cpl. Kaeble jumped over the parapet, and holding his Lewis gun at the hip, emptied one magazine after another into the advancing enemy, and, although wounded several times by fragments of shells and bombs, he continued to fire, and entirely blocked the enemy by his determined stand. Finally, firing all the time, he fell backwards into the trench, mortally wounded. While lying on his back in the trench he fired his last cartridges over the parapet at the retreating Germans, and before losing consciousness shouted to the wounded about him: ‘Keep it up boys; do not let them get through! We must stop them!” The complete repulse of the enemy attack at this point was due to the remarkable personal bravery and self-sacrifice of this gallant non-commissioned officer, who died of his wounds shortly afterwards.

Corporal Joseph Kaeble, a 25 year old mechanic from St. Moise Quebec, was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on the 8th of July, 1918. Cpl. Kaeble was one of over 60,000 Canadians to be killed during the ‘war to end all wars’.

Take the time on Rememberance Day to think about the peope who risked their lives and fought for our country and our freedoms.

Naming Names

Posted 2010.11.11 10.30 in Spiritual

Alan Arnett McLeod

Born in 1900 in Manitoba, at age 17 he enlisted to serve Canada in fighting the Great War. He became a pilot, and was shipped over to France. Flying a biplane, he was the pilot and with him was his ‘observer’ who sat behind him and had a machine gun.

In May of 1918, while they were flying at about 5000 feet, they were attacked by eight German triplanes. The enemy came from all angles, but Lt. McLeod was able to maneover his plane around so his observer could keep shooting back, and they managed to shoot down three of the eight enemy planes. By this time, McLeod had been shot 5 times by the German machine guns. Then a bullet hit his gas tank, which was kept just under the upper wing, right infront of where he was sitting. The leaking petrol caught fire, engulfing the front of the plane. Remember, this is a biplane made of wood and paper and fabric. Struck five times by machine-gun fire, and now his cockpit in flames all about him.

So Lt. McLeod climbed out onto the wing of his plane, and stood on the wing while keeping an arm in the cockpit so he could fly while hanging on outside. He did a slideslip manoever to keep the flames to the opposite side of the plane as he flew. His observer was able to continue shooting at the attacking Germans. McLeod was able to bring his plane down in a ‘controlled crash’, but they crashed in no-mans-land right at the front, and immediately came under heavy machine-gun fire from the German lines. By this point, the observer had received six bullet wounds. McLeod, despite his wounds, pulled his observer from the burning plane then started to pull the man away from the enemy lines. McLeod was wounded a 6th time by a German bomb, but he continued the rescue till he had gotten his crewman to the safety of the friendly lines.

Shot 5 times, standing on the wing of his burning plane, crashing, getting hit by a bomb, and through it all still risking his life to save his observer, while under machine-gun fire and with bombs falling about him. All this, and he was just an 18-year old kid.

For this action, he was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military honour in the British Empire / Commonwealth.

Lt. McLeod was eventually shipped back to Canada and in December, 1918, he died in a Winnipeg hospital, at age 19. There are conflicting reports, some say he died of his injuries, others that he died of influenza. It may have been both – he was probably still recovering from his wounds when the influenza struck.

I’m not related in any way to Alan McLeod. I knew nothing about him till I came across a painting in a flying museum which depicted him standing on the wing of his plane whilst manoevering, as his observer continued firing at the enemy planes.

Rememberance Day is not just a time to remember the big concepts. Individuals like Lt. McLeod, and countless others who gave everything they had in the service of our country, all deserve to be remembered.

“A Great Day for Canada”

Posted 2009.11.11 0.01 in Spiritual

I am very fortunate. Neither myself, my parents, or any of my grandparents, have served in combat. Both my grandfathers were involved in World War 2, but one took ill and was sent home before shipping overseas, and the other was in the Signals Corps but never shipped out either.

A great-grandfather did serve in the Great War, he was wounded at least twice, and we still have some relics from that time. Letters he wrote, one written from inside a ‘Hun Pillbox’ he had helped capture, another written from hospital as he recovered from injuries.

There is a bracelet that is inscribed “Vimy” and is alledgedly made from the metal of a shell that was fired during that great battle, along with some of his badges and other parephenalia. I never knew my great-grandfather though – any of them in fact. I have no direct connection to anyone who has served in the armed forces, seen combat.

So, what does Rememberance Day mean to me, then? There is one phrase, which symbolises it all to me. “Today, will be a great day for Canada!” This simple sentence brings tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat.

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Pictures of Things

Posted 2009.08.23 13.53 in Hobbies, Photography

Another Sunday, some more photos. I decided to switch things up a bit today, I wanted to take pictures of things, man-made things, rather than landscapes. Further, I wanted to take photos of old things, and I decided to be all faux-moody and use a monochrome filter. As with previous expeditions, all photos were taken with my trusty 30mm f/1.4 lens.

My first stop took me to the Great War Flying Museum, which is housed in a small hangar and adjoining building at the Brampton Flying Club. The museum is an interesting spot which we’re fortunate to have here in Brampton. They have a number of flying planes from WWI in the hangar, and some very interesting stuff in the museum. Unfortunately the planes were bunched up close together making photos difficult, and all the really keen stuff in the museum was behind glass which further hampered my efforts. Still, it was a fascinating place and I have a very nice chat with two of the volunteers there, Richard and his wife.

From the Flying Museum, I went northwest to the Cheltenham Brick Works, a semi-abandoned set of buildings that had been in operation up until the 1950’s. This proved another photographic disappointment as the really interesting stuff is all kept safely out of public reach via chain-link and barbed wire.

Finally I visited the old abandoned Peel Memorial Hospital. In many ways, an abandoned run-down hospital is rather sad. Particularily when it’s the nearest hospital to my home, and I visited it as a patient as recently as 4 years ago… surprising how fast things fall apart when left alone.

War & Peace & Fish Food

Posted 2009.07.23 22.55 in Aquaria, Pointless Blather

Aquarium Diary, Entry #30

Leader of the Zebrafish, General Shifty, has surrendered. The zebrafish rebellion is over, and everyone has breathed a sigh of relief. Shifty conceded that the fishes’ appetite was their downfall. No fry army would be raised as the zebras themselves couldn’t help eating any babies who emerged from the gravel. No planorbid army would be raised, as the zebras will happily eat them too, if the planorbids’ shell should get accidentally smushed.

Those fry or smushed planorbids that escaped the zebrafish still had to contend with my forces: Speed Racer the snail, and the two peppered cory catfish, Doctor Pepper and Sargent Pepper.

The surrender was not unconditional, however – Shifty demanded that the zebrafish reserve the right to act suspicious or blatantly inconspicuous at their discretion. He also demanded colour-enhancing flaked fish food, and occasional treats of freeze-dried bloodworms.

I did not find the terms unreasonable, and agreed to the conditions. At long last I can drop this ridiculous storyline, which started out sort of interesting but has unfortunately become a bit laborious and has lost the funny.

Cheers!

Zebrafish Strike Back!

Posted 2009.07.20 17.50 in Aquaria, Pointless Blather

Aquarium Diary, Entry # 28

Just when I thought hostilities may be drawing to a close, the Zebrafish have caught me off guard with a surprise counter-manoever.

All the while I’ve been worried about their legions of fry fighters, they have been secretly assembling an army of Dang Pond Snails! Physas and Planorbids by the dozen, if not by the hundred. Entire brigades of them. It is like someone detonated a pest-snail bomb in the aquarium.

Will probably take months to deal with them all. They are everywhere, eating algae, eating snail food, eating calcium, eating everything.

Won’t let my guard down again, this is a lesson learned. Zebrafish are craftier than I thought… it is disturbing.