NB Military Heritage Project
The New Brunswick Rangers in the Second World War
In 1943, the New Brunswick Rangers were sent to Britain, converted into a heavy weapons support unit, and shipped off to Normandy.
Originating as a 19th century militia, the New Brunswick Rangers were placed on active service for the first time during the Second World War, serving first in the Maritimes and Newfoundland. In 1943, the Rangers were sent to Britain, where they were converted to a heavy weapons support unit, armed with machine guns and mortars in preparation for the invasion of Normandy.
The New Brunswick Rangers in the Second World War is volume 27 of the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.
“Dangerous Enemy Sympathizers"
From 1940 to 1945, Internment Camp B at Ripples, some 35 kilometres east of Fredericton, played a considerable role in the Second World War. Chosen for its remote rural New Brunswick location, Camp B interned hundreds who were deemed by the Canadian government to be enemy sympathizers.
In the first year of its operation, the camp incarcerated German and Austrian Jewish refugees dispatched from Britain. In May 1940, fearful that the refugees were agents of the Nazis they'd fled, the British government sent thousands of men to Canada to be interned as "dangerous enemy sympathizers." After the refugees were finally released in 1941, Camp B held Canadian citizens who were suspected of opposing the war effort — including the prominent opponent of conscription and Mayor of Montreal Camillien Houde, Canadians of German and Italian descent, and homegrown fascists such as Adrien Arcand — as well as captured German and Italian merchant mariners.
"Dangerous Enemy Sympathizers" is volume 26 of the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.
A Family of Brothers
They fought at Ypres in the fall of 1915, on the Somme at Courcelette and Regina Trench in 1916. They carried on to Vimy Ridge, Hill 70, and Passchendaele in 1917. They were part of the battles at Amiens and the Hundred Days campaign of 1918.
The 26th Battalion was the only infantry unit from New Brunswick (and one of only 24 from the rest of Canada) to serve continuously on the Western Front from 1915 until the Armistice in 1918. More than 5,700 soldiers passed through its ranks during the First World War: 900 were killed and nearly 3,000 were wounded.
A Family of Brothers is volume 25 of the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.
The Endless Battle: The Fall of Hong Kong and Canadian POWs in Imperial Japan
by Andy Flanagan
Near the end of October 1941, a few hundred soldiers from New Brunswick were among the 1,975 Canadian troops who set sail from Vancouver to reinforce the British Colony of Hong Kong. Within two short months, after a hard-fought but disastrous battle against the Imperial Japanese Army, the island fell to the invaders on Christmas Day, and its defenders were ordered to surrender by the governor of Hong Kong. The survivors were taken captive.
Based on the first-hand accounts of the author's father, Andrew "Ando" Flanagan, a rifleman from Jacquet River, NB, The Endless Battle explores the Battle of Hong Kong and its long aftermath, through the eyes of the soldiers. During their captivity, the POWs endured starvation, forced labour, and brutal beatings. They lived in deplorable conditions and many died from illness. But the soldiers stuck together, bound by their cameraderie, loyalty to King and Country, and collective desire to sabotage the Japanese war effort.
Writing intimately and sensitively about the lingering effects of the trauma of the soldiers held in captivity, Andy Flanagan shows both the heroism of individual soldiers and the terrible costs of war.
The Endless Battle is volume 24 in the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series, co-published with the Goose Lane Editions.
Letters from Beauly: Pat Hennessy and the Canadian Forestry Corps in Scotland, 1940-1945
by Melynda Jarratt
During the Second World War, hundreds of New Brunswick woodsmen joined the Canadian Forestry Corps to log the Scottish Highlands as part of the Canadian war effort. Patrick "Pat" Hennessy of Bathurst was one of them. For five years, Pat served as camp cook with 15 Company of the Canadian Forestry Corps near the ancient town of Beauly, Scotland. A middle-aged New Brunswick farmer and lumberman with a third-grade education, Pat saw more of the world than he had ever dreamed of, visiting ancient battlefields he had learned about as a child, travelling to his ancestral Ireland, and attending a course of lectures in British history at Oxford University.
While in Scotland, Pat regularly corresponded with his family in New Brunswick. Drawing from this unique collection of more than three hundred letters, as well as hundreds of archival documents and photographs, Melynda Jarratt provides a rare glimpse of what life was like for Canadian servicemen overseas and for their relatives at home.
Letters from Beauly is volume 23 in the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series, co-published with the Goose Lane Editions.
Till the Boys Come Home: Life on the Home Front in Queens Co, NB
by Curtis Mainville
A century after the beginning of the Great War, the contributions of the Maritimes to the formation of the Canadian Expeditionary force remain relatively unexplored. Till the Boys Come Home examines the conduct of the war through the eyes of one particular agricultural and coal-mining community.
As the clouds of war gathered across the Atlantic, the people of Queens County found themselves caught between the forces of tradition and change, struggling to balance military service with their commitments to domestic industry and charitable volunteerism. While their contribution to the overall military effort lagged behind that of the province at large, they were nonetheless determined to supply comforts to men at the front and to remind them that they were not alone in their fight — suggesting that, in the community, peoples' sense of patriotic duty extended to their main business of feeding and fuelling the province. With few exceptions, the men and women of Queens County supported the war by taking care of their own — both those from the county who volunteered for service and the families they left behind.
Drawing on a wide range of archival sources, Curtis Mainville discusses patterns of military enlistment and labour; the intersections of local, regional, and national politics; and the ongoing tensions between the war effort and domestic needs. Till the Boys Come Home links the experiences of Queens County's men and women on the home front to those of their brothers and sisters serving overseas, resulting in a rich portrait of a community at war.
Till the Boys Come Home is volume 22 in the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.
The 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment of Foot in the War of 1812
by John R. Grodzinski
Best known for its perilous Winter March through the wilderness of New Brunswick to the battlegrounds in Upper Canada, the 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment of Foot was a British unit originally raised to defend the Maritimes, with members drawn from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Upper and Lower Canada, and the British Isles. In 1813, the regiment was sent to raid the American naval base in Sackets Harbor, New York, and then moved to the Niagara Peninsula to continue its fight against the invading Americans. In 1814, the 104th also saw action along the St. Lawrence River, in the Battle of Lundy’s Lane, and at the siege of Fort Erie. By the end of the war, it was stationed in Montreal, where it was disbanded in 1817.
Largely forgotten, the story of the 104th has been resurrected for the bicentennial of the War of 1812, using rare period correspondence, reports, diaries, and journals.
The 104th (New Brunswick) Regiment of Foot in the War of 1812 is volume 21 in the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series. Get your copy now from our publisher, Goose Lane Editions
The Aroostook War of 1839
by Gary Campbell
A little known episode in North America’s history, the 1839 Aroostook War was an undeclared war with no actual fighting. It had its roots in the 1783 Treaty of Paris, which ended the American Revolutionary War but left the border of Maine (then part of Massachusetts) and British North America unsettled, and in the War of 1812, when parts of northern Maine were occupied by Britain.
Fearing a negotiated border would negatively affect their claim for the disputed territory, Maine occupied the Aroostook River valley in early 1839. British regulars, New Brunswick militia, and Maine militia were then deployed in the dead of winter, as the kindling was laid for a third major Anglo-American conflagration. Eventually, cooler heads prevailed, although they did not deter a number of skirmishes between the Maine Land Agent posses and a loosely organized group of New Brunswick lumbermen. A complex story of friction, greed, land grabs, and rivalry, this border dispute which nearly resulted in war was eventually settled by the Ashburton-Webster Treaty of 1842.
The Aroostook War is Volume 20 in the NBMHP book series.
A Neighbourly War: New Brunswick and the War of 1812
by Robert Dallison
Just in time for the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, a little-known chapter in the struggle between British North America and the United States.
With Great Britain and France engaged in a life-and-death struggle, it seemed like a perfect time for the United States to declare war on Britain. Fearing the possibility of invasion, the New Brunswick Legislative Assembly and the generally citizenry — fearing for their life, families, and property — took every possible measure to prepare for war.
For a moment in history, a state of neutrality was established along the Maine border, and New Brunswickers turned to supporting British campaigns in Upper and Lower Canada and naval operations along the Atlantic coast. Then, with Napoleon’s defeat, Great Britain became more aggressive, and New Brunswick took the opportunity to try to resolve their disputed boundary with Maine. The British army occupied the Penobscot River Valley and northern Maine was declared a part of New Brunswick.
Steel Cavalry: The 8th (New Brunswick) Hussars and the Italian Campaign
by Lee Windsor
Steel Cavalry is the story of the transformation of a horse cavalry unit into one of Canada's most famous armoured regiments.
Twentieth-century warfare is epitomized by the image of Allied tanks growling across the countryside, engaging their Nazi counterparts. One of the most storied of such regiments is the 8th (New Brunswick) hussars. Founded in 1848 as the first volunteer cavalry regiment in British North America, the hussars began the Second World War as a Motorcycle Regiment before converting to tanks in 1941.
First posted to Italy in late 1943, the regiment was introduced to war near Ortona. They formed part of the great drive beyond Monte Cassino to Rome. But their reputation was forged at the Gothic Line and Coriano Ridge during two weeks that marked their fiercest and bloodiest trial of the war.
Steel Cavalry is Volume 18 in the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.
by Joshua M. Smith
As the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 approaches, a chapter in the history of the war is being opened for the first time. Although naval battles raged on the Great Lakes, combat between privateers and small government vessels also boiled in the Bay of Fundy and the Gulf of Maine. Three small warships — the Provincial sloop Brunswicker, His Majesty's schooner Bream, and His Majesty's brig of war Boxer — played a vital role in defending the eastern waters of British North America in this crucial war.
The crews of these hardy ships fought both the Americans and the elements — winter winds, summer fog, and the fierce tidal currents of the Bay of Fundy — enduring the all-too-real threats of shipwreck and possible capture and imprisonment. Now, for the first time, Joshua M. Smith tells the full story of the battle for the bay.
Battle for the Bay is Volume 17 in the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.
by Marc Milner and Glenn Leonard
From privateers to peacekeepers, from sailing ship battles to submarine espionage, New Brunswick’s recorded naval history dates back to the first European incursions.
Bounded on three sides by the ocean and with a network of navigable rivers, the sea has dominated the province’s history. The battles between the English and the French led to seaborne invasion and the Expulsion of the Acadians. When the Americans and British plundered each other for patriotism and profit in the War of 1812, New Brunswick built its own navy to protect its shipping. In 1881, the new Dominion of Canada chose New Brunswick as its first naval base, and three decades later, MP George Foster initiated the parliamentary debate that led to the founding of the modern Canadian Navy.
This fact-filled volume tells the story of the province’s unique contribution to Canada’s storied naval history, culminating with a description of how, by the Naval Centennial year of 2010, the bulk of the modern Canadian fleet was designed and constructed in New Brunswick.
Marc Milner is one of Canada’s premier naval historians. He is the author of eight books, including Canada’s Navy: The First Century. He is also the Director of the Brigadier Milton F. Gregg, VC, Centre for the Study of War and Society at the University of New Brunswick.
Glenn Leonard is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Business Administration at the University of New Brunswick.
New Brunswick and the Navy War is Volume 16 in the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.
Agnes Warner and the Nursing Sisters of the Great War
by Shawna Quinn
“I cannot tell you how glad I am to be able to go to the front, for it means a chance to do good work and I shall be so glad to be nearer the Canadian boys.” — Agnes Warner.
When Canada entered the Great War in 1914, thousands of women eager to see active service signed on to nurse the wounded. What they experienced in the hospitals behind the front lines would remain with them forever. Through thunderous explosions and ominous flashes in the distance, nursing sisters worked at a feverish pace to care for bleeding wounds, broken and missing limbs, and the other devastating injuries of war.
In Agnes Warner and the Nursing Sisters of the Great War, Shawna Quinn explores the world of these brave women — the gruelling, dangerous conditions of work and the brutal realities they faced. Drawing upon the letters of Saint John native Agnes Wagner, Quinn paints a picture of the dedicated women who witnessed firsthand the atrocities of war.
Shawna Quinn holds an MA in history from the University of New Brunswick. She first came across the story of First World War nurse Agnes Warner while researching the role of women collectors in the development of the New Brunswick Museum.
Agnes Warner and the Nursing Sisters of the Great War is Volume 15 in the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.
Uncle Cy's War: The First World War Diaries of Major Cyrus F. Inches
Edited by Valerie Teed
At 31 years old, Major Cyrus Inches resolved to survive the Great War, and did so without losing his sense of humour, in spite of the tragedies he constantly faced. His letters home were stored and left undisturbed for almost ninety years. Cleverly written with wit and humour, they reveal voluminous details of life during the war.
Cyrus Inches also kept a diary and published a booklet called The 1st Canadian Heavy Battery in France — Farewell Message to NCOs and Men, which chronicled the movements and the battles of his battery. The booklet and letters combine to create a complete history of one Canadian officer's experiences — from Valcartier and the First Battle of Ypres to Mons, and the months of demobilization after that.
Uncle Cy's War is Volume 14 in the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.
Bamboo Cage: The POW Diary of Flight Lieutenant Robert Wyse, 1942-1943
by Jonathan F. Vance
In 1942, RAF Flight Lieutenant Robert Wyse became a Japanese prisoner of war on the Indonesian island of Java. In this no-holds-barred account, Wyse describes the harsh conditions he and his fellow prisoners suffered. Subjected to beatings, starvation, debilitating illness, and unbelievably harsh work, Wyse struggled to describe the brutalities he witnessed.
Although the punishment for keeping a diary would have been severe, Wyse persevered, scrounging for bits of paper and slivers of pencil and hiding his writing wherever he could until it became too dangerous to continue. Then, in December 1943, he buried his notes in a piece of bamboo under his prison hut.
Robert Wyse’s diary was retrieved by a Dutch friend after the war. An historical goldmine of information on life as a prisoner of war, the diary reveals both the worst and the best of human nature.
The editor, JONATHAN F. VANCE, is a professor of History and the Canada Research Chair in Conflict and Culture at the University of Western Ontario. His previous books include Unlikely Soldiers: How Two Canadians Fought the Secret War Against Nazi Occupation and The Encyclopedia of Prisoners of War and Internment.
Bamboo Cage is Volume 13 in the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.
Captured Hearts: New Brunswick's War Bride
by Melynda Jarratt
Imagine you're a young woman caught up in the ugly reality of war. You meet and fall in love with a young soldier from a foreign country. You marry and your world is upended: when the war ends, you leave all you've ever known behind - your family, friends, and way of life - to begin a new life in Canada.
This is the story of hundreds of women who made their way to New Brunswick at the end of the Second World War. Between 1942 and 1948, young women from all over Europe came to this part of Canada with their servicemen husbands. Some married Aboriginal New Brunswickers; others married French-speaking Acadians; still others married New Brunswickers of British descent. In this compelling volume, wives, widows, fiancées, and those whose marriages failed and returned to Europe tell compelling stories of prejudice, perseverance, kindness, hope, defeat, and triumph.
Captured Hearts is Volume 12 in the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.
The Bitter Harvest of War: New Brunswick and the Conscription Crisis of 1917
by Andrew Theobald
Picture this: Canadian troops die by the thousands in the muddy fields of Europe. Russia is descending into civil war, and will soon be lost to the Allies. The French army has mutinied. The United States has declared war on Germany, but their army needs time to prepare. German U-boats are turning the seas into floating graveyards. Back in Canada, fewer and fewer men are volunteering to join the fray.
Prime Minister Borden's government proposed conscription to replace the dead and wounded. Farmers, fishermen, francophones, and the Liberal Party opposed the Military Service Act. Canada was in upheaval. Many reduced the issue to tension between pro-British Ontario and anti-war Quebec, but there was more. In New Brunswick, ruptures emerged, north and south, Protestant and Catholic, and French and English. The Legacy of bitterness and ethnic tensions echo to this day.
The Bitter Harvest of War is Volume 11 in the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.
Hurricane Pilot: The Wartime Letters of W.O. Harry L. Gill, DFM, 1940-1943
Edited by Brent Wilson with Barbara Gill
Harry L. Gill enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940 at the age of 18. He flew a Hurricane fighter on missions over France, England, and India and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal before being shot down near Burma in 1943.
Hurricane Pilot recreates the heady days of flight and fellowship through Gill's own correspondence with his parents and siblings. Depicting the enthusiasm of youth, a sense of humour, his plans for the future, and an attachement to home, this very personal account of war shows how Gill was transformed from a small-town boy to a mature fighter pilot serving in a global war on another continent.
Hurricane Pilot is Volume 10 in the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.
D-Day to Carpiquet: The North Shore Regiment and the Liberation of Europe
by Marc Milner
On the morning of July 4, 1944, the 1st Battalion of the North Shore Regiment moved into position just west of the French village of Carpiquet, its ranks filled with farmers, fishermen, woods workers, and mill hands. Most of the men had been in the first wave that stormed the Normandy beaches a month earlier and were already battle-hardened veterans, but nothing could have prepared them for what was to come. In five long days, Carpiquet became the graveyard of the Regiment. Almost 200 men were killed or wounded, and the fighting strength of the Battalion's rifle companies was gutted.
D-Day to Carpiquet tells the story of the D-Day landing and the ferocious battles that followed. Using extensive new research and interviews with veterans, this unique account reveals the significance of the Regiment's accomplishments in the first stage of the Normandy campaign.
D-Day to Carpiquet is Volume 9 in the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.
Turning back the Fenians: New Brunswick's Last Colonial Campaign
by Robert L. Dallison
In the early 1860s, Irish immigrants in the United States were eager to help the Fenian Brotherhood overthrow the British in Ireland. The American Fenians' mission: to invade British North America and hold it hostage. New Brunswick, with its large Irish population and undefended frontier, was a perfect target.
The book tells how, in the spring of 1866, a thousand Fenians massed along the St. Croix River and spread terror among New Brunswickers. When the lieutenant-governor called in British soldiers and a squadron of warships, the Fenians saw that New Brunswick was no longer an easy target, and they turned their efforts against central Canada. The Fenian "attacks" and the demand for home defence fanned the already red-hot political debate, and a year later, in July 1867, New Brunswick joined Confederation.
Turning Back the Fenians is Volume 8 in the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.
War on the Home Front: The Farm Diaries of Daniel MacMillan, 1914-1927
Edited by Bill Parenteau and Stephen Dutcher
Daniel MacMillan experienced the Great War entirely from the home front: his farm in the tiny community of Williamsburg. His moving diaries reveal the terrible cost of the war and its aftermath on him, his family, his farm, and his community.
In entries written between 1914 and 1927, MacMillan describes the hardships of running a farm in the face of an acute labour shortage and the anguish of losing relatives and friends in battle. His insider’s account shows rural people struggling to supply men, equipment, and especially food — not just for the troops, but for the whole country — and the post-war results of such sacrifice.
War on the Home Front is Volume 7 in the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.
by Faye Kert
Pirates and privateers sailed from New Brunswick ports throughout the 19th century, but their exploits began in earnest during the War of 1812.
With Letters of Marque and Reprisal, they waged a legal private war against the King’s enemies: the Americans. The European states outlawed privateering in 1856, but the American failure to sign the treaty left an opening for a gang of ne’er-do-well Saint Johners, led by a renegad xe Southern rebel, to commit one of the final acts of piracy in North American history. In December 1863, on behalf of the Confederate States of America, they captured the SS Chesapeake, the New York-to-Portland passenger steamer.
Trimming Yankee Sails is Volume 6 in the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.
by Gary Campbell
The Trans-Canada Highway winds along the Saint John and Madawaska rivers through New Brunswick and Quebec to the St. Lawrence River. It follows one of the oldest and, strategically, most important routes in North American history: the Grand Communications Route. For millennia, the Saint John River system had been a major artery in the vast system of lakes, rivers, and portages linking aboriginal communities. During the French and British colonial periods, and until the advent of rail travel in the 1870s, it remained the backbone of an overland route between the Atlantic Ocean and the interior of the continent. Today, the traveller along the Trans-Canada Highway can visit some of the forts that once defended this vital Road to Canada.
The Road to Canada is Volume 5 in the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.
Riding Into War: The Memoir of a Horse Transport Driver, 1916-1919
by James Robert Johnston
Knowing how to handle horses was Jimmie Johnston’s lucky break. As a horse driver in the transport section of the Canadian machine gun corps, the 18-year-old from rural New Brunswick experienced Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele from a saddle rather than from behind a rifle.
Even so, moving machine guns, ammunition, and supplies to the front lines was treacherous work; what the horses and mules suffered, Johnston says, “is beyond all description.” The transport teams frequently operated under the cover of night. If a team fell into a shell hole, both man and horse faced drowning in the filthy mud, and climbing out of a trench was even riskier.
Riding Into War is Volume 4 in the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.
The Siege of Fort Beauséjour, 1755
by Chris M. Hand
The British capture of Fort Beauséjour was the final act in a long struggle between Britain and France for control of Acadia. In The Siege of Fort Beauséjour, 1755, Chris M. Hand outlines the events leading up to the siege and gives a running account of the siege itself.
In June, 1755, a combined force of New England volunteers and British regulars captured it after a brief siege. When Beauséjour fell, so too did Acadia, and the great expulsions followed soon after. Major Chris M. Hand, Royal Canadian Regiment, is currently serving overseas, seconded to the British Army, Warminster, England. The Siege of Fort Beauséjour, 1755 is based on his MA thesis in history at the University of New Brunswick.
The Siege of Fort Beausejour is Volume 3 in the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.
by Robert L. Dallison
In April 1775, the first shots of the American Revolutionary War were fired; almost immediately, reverberations were felt in what is now New Brunswick. In this concise history of the Revolution’s impact, Robert L. Dallison examines the legacy of the Loyalist regiments, who settled here to defend the British colony against the American Patriots. Their motto, Spem reduxit (Hope Restored), has become the motto of the province they founded. As well as telling the story of the military Loyalists, Hope Restored describes many Loyalist and Revolutionary War sites. After serving for 35 years with the Canadian Army, Lieutenant-Colonel Robert L. Dallison (ret’d) became the director of Kings Landing Historical Settlement at Prince William, New Brunswick. A graduate of Royal Roads Military College and Royal Military College, he has been president of Fredericton Heritage Trust and a member of the Heritage Canada board of governors.
Hope Restored is Volume 2 in the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.
by Roger Sarty and Doug Knight
Saint John, always an important gateway to Canada, is one of the oldest fortified sites in the country. Saint John Fortifications, 1630-1956 traces the history of the port’s defences, from Fort La Tour, built in 1632, to the 20th-century installations built as protection from German invasion. Although the last of the modern installations on Partridge Island was disabled in 1956, many sites still contain substantial reminders of their past strength. Roger Sarty, one of Canada’s foremost military historians, is the deputy director of the Canadian War Museum and the author of Canada and the Battle of the Atlantic. Ottawa military historian Doug Knight is a retired Canadian Army officer. His engineering experience provides a solid background for his research into the history of Canadian military equipment and fortifications.
Saint John Fortifications is Volume 1 in the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.