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Remembered Today:

For King and Empire


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For my North American pals, especially in Canada, History TV is showing the 6 part documentary hosted by a friend of some our pals: Norm Christie.

Screen time is Saturday afternoon/early evening, repeating early Sunday morning.

Yesterday was "Ypres" episode. (Sorry for the late notice).

Check out www.historytelevision.ca for further details and times in your area, and the VHS tape set for sale.

Peter "too hot to go outside so I'll watch TV" in Vancouver B)

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Can you let me know what the series is like. I came across

the video's for sale on a web site and did think about buying

them but without knowing what the content was like I was a bit

uncertain. If its new footage I will definitely purchase the set.



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The series is about the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

As I remember, there is lots of archival film shown, interpersed with Canadian historian Norm Christie visiting each battlefield in modern day, explaining how events occurred.

You can check out www.kingandempire.com for further info as well. Beware of the forum area, which has degenerated into people looking for SS memorabilia. It does not appear to be moderated/monitored in any way. :angry:


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Here's the story line for Saturday, June 14:

For King and Empire

The Somme

"Lice, rats, barbed-wire, fleas, shells, bombs, underground caves, corpses, blood, liquor, mice, cats, artillery, filth, bullets, mortars, fire, steel: that is what war is; it is the work of the devil." - Otto Dix, German Army The Battle of the Somme is the best known battle of the Great War. But any books or references to the Battle of the Somme rarely, if ever, mention the contribution of the Canadians. But it was the Canadians who first attacked with the tanks, at Courcelette, and it was the Canadians who captured Regina Trench, the longest trench built by the Germans in the war.

When the Canadians arrived at the Somme two months after the July launch of the battle, what they encountered was a land decimated by battle. The earth literally looked like the surface of the moon. Over the next two months, Canadian troops assaulted the German position known as the Regina Trench. Often having to charge against uncut barbwire and endure savage German counter-attacks, the Canadians suffered a similar fate to the British.

More than 24,000 Canadians were killed, wounded or listed as missing in the Battle of the Somme. This all-out slaughter was one of the main reasons that 1916 was later known as "The year of blood."

But the tragic, sacrificial legacy of the battle was a positive one. It was because of the Somme, where for the first time, the Canadians saw their British Generals as incompetent, and how their lack of planning and preparation caused the unnecessary deaths of so many. The lesson was learned well and implementing those lessons brought Canadians to a level of efficiency and thoroughness unsurpassed on the Western Front. No doubt it saved many lives at Passchendaele. It was first to show itself at Vimy.

Locations in this episode: Courcelette village, Death Valley, Regina Trench Cemetery, Pozieres village.


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Here's the story line for Saturday, June 21:

 For King and Empire


"The laws of France have decreed that Canada shall stand forever... In that spirit, in a spirit of thankfulness for their example, of reverence for their devotion and of pride in their comradeship, I unveil this memorial to Canada's dead." - King Edward VIII, Vimy Ridge, July 26, 1936.

At the beginning of April 1917, 100,000 men of the Canadian Corps made their move to help capture the impregnable Vimy Ridge. The military maneuver was well-planned and impeccably executed but even with its success, the maneuver exacted a high price. 3,600 men were killed on April 9th alone.

Although other countries participated in this confrontation, the Canadian contribution was so important that Vimy became synonymous with the Canadians and was know as 'their front.' In fact, the name 'Vimy' became a byword representing the efficiency of the Canadian Infantry Division.

With the capture of Vimy Ridge, the reputation of the Canadian Corps as the most effective fighting machine on the Western Front was sealed. Overnight, Canada had emerged as a player on the international stage. Vimy Ridge galvanized the image of the attack-dog, unwavering Canadian force. This reputation would be galvanized by the Canadians' undefeated battle record in the last two years in the war and the manner in which the Canadians spearheaded the Allied victory during the war's last hundred days... but the legend of the Canadian soldier was born at Vimy Ridge.

The Capture of Vimy Ridge is renowned in Canadian lore, but few understand how it was an important progression in the development of the Canadian soldier and Canada itself. Vimy was graduation day.

Locations in this episode: Vimy Park, Canadian Cemetery n Neuville St. Vaast; Lichfield Crater - Thelus.


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Here's the story line for Saturday, June 28:


"You know, Hughie, this is suicide." - Talbot Papineau

From August to November 1917, more than a quarter of a million soldiers from the Commonwealth were either killed, wounded or went missing in the muddy fields of Passchendaele. The conditions of battle were so disastrous that even if you werenit killed by the enemy, there was a good chance that you would literally be drowned in the mud. That is why Passchendaele was known as "Hell on Earth."

The battle was bloody and like no other in the war. To reach enemy positions, exhausted artillerymen had to haul their heavy guns through a quagmire and then spend more hours constructing platforms to prevent their weapons from sinking into the mud. Horses were buried alive in the swamp. And thousands of wounded soldiers fell and then, unable to get up, sank into the ooze and disappeared.

More than any other battle, Passchendaele defines the horror and futility of the First World War. Many consider it the bloodiest and most futile battle of the First World War.

Through sheer tenacity, the Canadians were able to rage against a sea of mud and the German Army to capture Passchendaele - a victory few thought possible.

Locations in this episode: Flanders Fields, Passchendaele village, Oxford Road Cemetery.

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Note: The series has changed from Saturday to Sunday.

Here's the story line for Sunday July 6th:

For King and Empire

100 Days

If Vimy was graduation day, the great victories of 1918 were coronation day. The Canadians had evolved from desperate colonials in 1915, to canon-fodder on the Somme, to victors at Vimy. By 1918, the Canadians had the confidence that comes only with success and no one had been as successful as the Canadians. The great battles at Amiens, Arras and Cambrai were brilliant, and remain the greatest untold stories in Canadian history.

The Battle of Cambrai and the Canal du Nord was the third and last major battle fought by the Canadians in the First World War. It was the battle in which the Canadian Army chose to make its most complex and difficult attack. The Canadian forces were able to capture key German-occupied trenches and take control of the vital transport centre of Cambrai. But, as in most battles in the First World war, the death-count was high. 18,000 Canadians were killed, wounded or went missing. In fact, in the last 100 days of the war, the Canadians suffered more than 46,000 casualties including 12,000 dead. One fifth of all the Canadians killed in the war died in these final three months.

The Battles of Amiens, Arras and Cambrai were the last great achievement of the Canadian men of the corps. They had sailed overseas as a unit of youthful enthusiastic volunteers but they were leaving the bloody fields of Europe as a well-respected force to be reckoned with.

Locations in this episode: Cambrai, Arras, Canal du Nord, Wancourt British Cemetery.


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Here's the story line for Saturday, July 12. This is the final episode of the 6 part series.

For King and Empire

Shadow of a Great War

"Tell them, we beg you, that this little remnant of Belgium soil is for us the most sacred of all; that it is a part of Canadian territory, a priceless treasure set like a jewel in the burial ground of our own people; priceless because it embraces the noble sons of Canada..." - the Deputy of the Province of Hainaut, Belgium.

In Europe, the post-war years were spent re-building and clearing the old battlefields of the dead. All along the old front line, cemeteries were constructed. The gruesome task involved exhumation and reburial of more than 200,000 corpses. Each Canadian headstone is engraved with the Maple Leaf.

They sit sadly in the rolling countryside, far from their homes, lonely and forgotten. Today the cemeteries are all that remain. Some families were not satisfied with the condition that no body was to leave the country where the Canadian had died. Families would apply for repatriation of the body, but their application was always refused. The alternative left to the bereaved family was to steal the body from the military cemetery and ship it home for reburial. Between 1919 and 1925, hundreds of thousands of bodies were dug up and reburied in war cemeteries.

Old battlefields still scarred the fields and the chances of getting away with a clandestine operation were great. Local help could even be purchased to assist.

In 1936, the greatest Canadian Pilgrimage set sail for France and the unveiling of the Canadian National Monument on Vimy Ridge. One hundred thousand people attended the unveiling by Edward VIII. It was a spectacular event to commemorate Canadian sacrifice. The importance of this Pilgrimage to the survivors of the Great War and to Canada itself cannot be underestimated.

Locations in this episode: Thiepval Ridge, the Menin Gate, Vimy Ridge.


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