Thursday, November 16, 2017

Maple Flavoured War Stories - Remembrance 2017

One of the interesting things about wars, as they recede into history, are the 'accretions of valor' they pick-up from those who, apparently, were never noticed or failed to be mentioned but who,  now it seems, conveniently fit into  the 'equal rights', 'multiple-gendered', 'politically correct' world we live in. To become even more memorable,  wars of the past are having their gay, minority groups, female aspects 'discovered' and brought to the fore.

The Great War as a study in history still has much grist to be ground.  The Western Front is and has been the major focus of much or western 'history' and literature the echoes of that war rang down into the explosion of its sequel.  But there is 'an epic' of the astern world, outside the cinematography of Lawrence of Arabia,  that tied the world-up into the late twenties and gave rise the troubles of that region to-day. Afghanistan became a problem after the target war - one solved by the newly fandangled 'air power' which is, still, being used to 'solve' its problems  - with far less obvious success than it had then,  when it actually frightened them..

The Great War was also fought in the Pacific raising an ally to the position of 'an empire' and setting the stage for another war a quarter century later.  While Hemingway may have created noble female participants and the stories of Edith Cavell and Mata Hari are still fairly well-known, there were other less remarked 'women at war' - Lara of Dr. Zhivago and other nursing sisters on every front.

Edith Cavell
The story of the first licensed female driver in Ontario - volunteering to 'go' and being denied is now 'reborning' - if it was ever 'outed' before. Not only did she go on her own, she organized an ambulance and drove wounded warriors to the French port town for evacuation to 'Blighty'.  There was an all-female Battalion of Death that was supposedly deployed on the Eastern Front and the history of the allied intervention in the Revolution is something that could use more study. So far no one has stepped up to reinterpret the US 'Rainbow' Division as anything 'special'; although no doubt some of its members were  homosexually-oriented, other soldier-heroes apparently were.

A  modern day recollection of a secret all-Chinese Canadian  unit deployed into the WW2 jungles of Burma was in the media this Remembrance day.  While I know nothing about the 'ultra secret' unit and its operations,  it does ring sort of true that somebody occidental might think that any oriental could fool the Japanese in Burma better than a 'regular' Canuck from Bobcaygeon or somewhere else civilized.  It probably wouldn't dawn on such a 'sore thumb',  that Chinese-Canadians might be equally-hamstrung trying to blend-in with the Burmese.  Any of those Chinese-Canadians meeting a Burmese, could have been told that wasn't 'on'. I would hope the unit never was deployed, or  sent to an area in Burma where there were no Japanese,  or Burmese.

Chinese Vet remembers Secret Service

I'm trying to figure out how a Chinaman would even get into the Canadian Army of the Second World War - they must have known someone (?) -  as Japanese Canadians and other European 'enemy nationals'  were getting interned.  It must have been after the 'zombies' had created the 'manpower shortage' that brought on conscription and a constitutional crisis with Quebec.  For among other parts of real history ignored or played down,  are the facts that Canadians weren't too multiculturally tolerant, even in WW2,  ( it was worse in WW1). That, while the Brits of Canada (most of the population)  rallied to 'save the Motherland' in 1914,   by 1917 not as many were volunteering (in England either) .   That Canadians had a vibrant memory of the 'killing fields', and casualty lists, and so, when 'the balloon went up' again, in 1939 there were even fewer who wanted to go overseas (actually there were enough to form 2 Canadian Divisions (50 000)  as opposed to those volunteering  staying 'at home'  to defend Canada from foreign invasion.  Getting those 'zombies' to change their minds is an even odder, and not-too-creditable, saga.

The Brits had a poignant ad for their Remembrance Day  this year - current members of the forces remembered parents who had, or hadn't, been in service and "blokes they'd had lost" in current operations. They were 'remembering the sacrifice'. It strikes me that modern-day Afghans and Syrians and Libyans and Yemenis don't have to remember much at all,  they just need to go smell a graveyard.

Remembering: Brit style

I'll close with something uplifting. We all know how Hong Kong, which figured so much in the history of WW2 was returned to the rule of Red China. Apparently the 'communist masters' permit a very British tradition to  remain - and the organizations to maintain it.

Yet to be remembered, let alone 'tributed' (outside the Irish Republic), is Sir Roger Casement - a member if the British Ascendancy, hanged for treason  during the Great War, for having had some truck with the Germans and being arrested after being dropped by U-boat, in Ireland, to assist with their mid-war 'rebellion'. At the time,  he was castigated as a homosexual libertine almost as much as for his treachery.  Now-a-days he would be neither.

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