‘We were greeted by German machine gun fire’: Canadian veteran recalls ‘traumatic’ D-Day battle
When Pierre Gauthier first stepped into the French city of Caen, there was little to see beyond the sad remnants of a months-long battle. The city had been flattened. Rubble, destroyed buildings and the paltry ruins of a centuries-old cathedral, with its windows blown out, were all that was left.
To the eyes of the 89-year-old former sergeant from Montreal, everything has long since changed.
“It’s surprising. It’s very surprising,” he said on Wednesday from his chateau in France. “Here is this big, huge modern city. It’s industrialized, there are beautiful factories. There wasn’t much left of the city when we destroyed it in July 1944. It was not just the city of Caen, all of these cities were badly damaged. This country has arll changed.” (National Archives of Canada)
How a Canadian history buff (may have) solved a Second World War ‘pigeon-code mystery’
A Canadian history buff has attracted international attention for proposing a possible solution to the so-called “pigeon-code mystery” that emerged last month in Britain after the remains of a Second World War carrier pigeon — along with the secret message it was transporting from a European battlefield nearly 70 years ago — were found in the chimney of a home in the London-area village of Bletchingley.
Canadian retiree Gord Young, a historical researcher from Peterborough, Ont., claims to have deciphered much of the message using a First World War codebook inherited from his great-uncle.
And he suspects he’s also identified the British paratrooper believed to have released the pigeon following the invasion of Normandy in June 1944, an attempt to send details about enemy positions and movements to Britain’s intelligence headquarters before the soldier was killed a few weeks later in northern France during the successful Allied advance against German forces. (AP/Royal Pigeon Racing Association)
Pregnant in Auschwitz: Holocaust survivor recalls split-second decision that saved her and unborn son
Miriam Rosenthal was four-months pregnant, starving, bone-tired, cold, filthy and afraid when an SS officer in big black boots and a crisp uniform appeared before the barracks in Auschwitz with a loudspeaker in hand.
All pregnant women line up, he barked. Line up, line up — your food portions are being doubled.
“Can you imagine?” Miriam asks. “Even women who were not pregnant stepped forward. I was standing with my younger cousin, but I wouldn’t go. She says, ‘Miriam, what are you doing?’ ”
“Something was holding me back. Someone was watching over me. I feel maybe my mother, maybe God. Two hundred women stepped forward and 200 women went to the gas chamber. And I don’t know why I didn’t step forward.
“I have asked rabbis. I have asked some big people and no one can give me an answer. If you believe in God, then God did it. If you believe it was my parents, then it was my parents, which is what I believe.”
Plane of ‘highest scoring’ living Canadian fighter ace found in Egypt
A Second World War fighter plane, just discovered in the Egyptian desert 70 years after it was crash-landed there by its British pilot, is generating excitement among vintage aircraft experts in Canada who suspect the long-buried Kittyhawk P-40 — literally unearthed from the sands of time — was once flown by one of this country’s great aces in the air battles of North Africa: Saskatchewan-born James “Stocky” Edwards, now 90 and living in Comox, B.C.
Edwards is, in fact, considered to be the “highest scoring” living fighter ace in Canada, credited with 19 “confirmed kills” and many additional damaged and destroyed enemy aircraft on the ground.