Dr. Clifford Cunningham is a planetary scientist. He earned his PhD in the history of astronomy at the University of Southern Queensland, and has undergraduate degrees in science and ancient history from the University of Waterloo. In 2014 he was named a contributor to Encyclopedia Britannica. He is the author of 14 books on asteroids and the history of science. In 1999 he appeared on the TV show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Asteroid 4276 was named in his honor in 1990 by the International Astronomical Union based on the recommendation of its bureau located at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
The 75th anniversary of the Battle of Dieppe was especially commemorated in Windsor, Ontario because its famous Essex Scottish regiment originated from here.
The lead speaker at the event on Aug. 19, 2017 was Morris Brause, former commanding officer of the Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment.
“Lord Louis Mountbatten, Chief of Combined Operations for the Allies, planned for an ambitious raid on the coastal port of Dieppe, France. This raid was regarded by the military staff as an indispensible preliminary to the full-scale invasion of France. Topographically, Dieppe was a very difficult challenge with towering sheer cliffs rising from the waters' edge; adding to these natural defences were the coastal heavy defences reinforced by the Germans during the past years of the occupation.”
“I have no doubt that the Battle of Normandy was won on the beaches of Dieppe,” Mountbatten said following the war. “For every man who died in Dieppe, at least 10 more must have been spared in Normandy in 1944.”
Brause explained that the main objective of the raid “was to conduct a raid to test the theories of beach landings in Europe. The mission of the Essex Scottish was to take the town. In our Canadian military history not every battle is won, so we should not just reflect upon those that are winning battles but we have to reflect on the tragedies also," Brause said to a crowd of assembled veterans, military personnel, and members of the public.
"There wasn't a family or friend that was not affected by this tragedy. Freedom doesn't come without a price and we must always remember that."
"This was a huge tragedy for this regiment but in the indelible spirit of Canada, this regiment rebuilt. In the end it played a significant role in overthrowing the tyrannical Nazi regime,” concluded Brause, who said in an interview for Sun News that criticism of Mountbatten is misplaced, as his vision for a truly combined military operation was thwarted by the British high command.
The 75th was also marked in Ottawa by PM Trudeau.
“As we sit here in the rain, thinking how uncomfortable we must be these minutes as our suits get wet and our hair gets wet and our shoes get wet, I think it’s all the more fitting that we remember on that day, in Dieppe, the rain wasn’t rain — it was bullets,” Trudeau said at the rain-soaked event in Ottawa.
“As we stand here 75 years later with this duty and this act of remembrance, it is all too fitting. Today and every day, we recommit ourselves to the pursuit of peace and justice for all. Today and all days, we remember.” In France, a new monument was unveiled to honour members of the King’s Own Calgary Regiment, which also formed part of the Canadian force at Dieppe. Among dignitaries attending the commemoration in France was the mayor of Windsor.
The cost of Dieppe:
Forces amassed in the raid: 4,963 Canadian troops, 50 American Rangers, 1,075 British commandos and 20 inter-Allied commandos along with air support from the RCAF. Casualties: 3,367 Canadian troops killed, wounded or taken prisoner; death toll: 900.
The Dieppe Raid as of 2017:
1. It was discovered just a couple of days before the ceremony in Windsor that there is still one surviving member of the Essex Scottish regiment. Everett Maracle, now 94, lives in Michigan. You can read his story in an article in the Windsor Star at this link:
2. Anyone with family photos or recollections of the Dieppe raid is asked to contact Nicole Chittle, research assistant at Museum Windsor. She is involved in creating a website to bring together all available information about the people and events dealing with the events of 75 years ago.
3. Dieppe gets an entire room at Museum Windsor (the Chimczuk Museum). There is an excellent display of uniforms, photos and artefacts at the Museum, just a few steps away from the Dieppe Gardens where the ceremony was held. This includes items made by many of the Canadian prisoners of war while they were incarcerated by the Nazis. The smaller photo with this article was taken at this exhibit, which opened on Aug. 19, 2017.
Visit this excellent museum before the exhibit ends on Dec. 31:
Photos with this article by C. Cunningham
This book is billed as the "first in-depth study of the attitude of Greek military commanders towards holy ground." Author Dr. Sonya Nevin at the University of Roehampton (London) has identified an important and intiguing element of ancient warfare that certainly deserves such a book-length treatment.
Nevin packs a lot of detail in 200 pages (the remaining 100 pages consists of notes, bibliography and index). Early on she looks at the Persian destruction of Athens in 480 BCE. "As a show of power in their most sacred space, the focal point of their territory, the destruction challenged the Athenian communal identity." The bulk of her attention, however, focuses on how Greeks dealt with temples of other Greeks in their nearly constant warfare against one another. Here I will explore just two of the case studies she considers.
"The most significant encounter with sacred space concerned the sanctuary of Olympian Zeus outside Syracuse," a city I visited in July 2017. The Athenian general Nicias, victorious over the forces of Syracuse, chose not to plunder the sanctuary. Nevin writes that the Greek historian Thucydides "is characteristically enigmatic" about this. Nevin suggests "Thucydides is perhaps asking his readers to consider a difficult question: if a state (or a person) has undertaken to do something unjust (ie the invasion of Sicily), to what extent should they continue to commit injustices in order to see that goal through? ...Strategically, Nicias made a mistake; morally he made the right decision. Thucydides confronts us with the hard choice of what to make of that."
When the Olympic Games were held in 420 BCE, the atmosphere between competing Greek states "had got so bad that the Eleans had more than 2,000 troops ready to defend the sanctuary. The awkwardness this time was not Athens' treatment of its allies, but Sparta's fall-out with Elis," which controlled the area in which the Games were held. Sparta was banned from the Olympics, but Sparta chose not to march their army there, thus averting a crisis. It was, declares Nevin, "a sacrilege too far for a pious people with a reputation to think about."
Likely just a year later, in 419, the sanctuary of Zeus associated with the Nemean Games (held in years the Olympics did not take place) was destroyed. Nevin tells us this only became know to modern scholars through archeaological evidence, as "no Greek tells us what happened...This is a reminder of how selective Thucydides and other ancient historians were about what events they covered. Nonetheless, this seems an extreme example given the intensity of the destruction of a site of Panhellic renown." Why such "blatant sacrilege" was passed over in silence is, Nevin laments, "fundamentally unclear."
Overall, an excellent study of an all-too-often neglected aspect of ancient hostilities. It is unfortunate the book lacks illustrations and maps to help those who are not Greek historians understand the events more fully. Written in an easy manner without the usual heavy adornments of scholarly prose, Nevin has filled an important niche in our understanding of ancient Greek thought and culture.
Military Leaders and Sacred Space in Classical Greek Warfare (307 pages) is $99 from I.B.Tauris.
Dr. James May just retired from a long and distinguished career at St Olaf College in Minnesota. I recently had the privilege of hearing his final Latin oration at the annual meeting of the Classical Association of the MidWest and South, which was held in Kitchener, Ontario.
The 18 essays in this tribute volume cover a vast array of topics from the most technical to pop culture. For example, one deals with the role of satire in refuting Christian heretics in the Byzantine period; while another surveys movies and TV shows that include Cicero as a character. We learn he was in 15 of the 22 episodes of the HBO series Rome, and the chapter even gives us his dialogue!
Closer to what one might look for in a classical book is a close reading of Lucan's depiction of Caesar as a lightning bolt personified, and his battle as said bolt against nature. Sarah Nix does a fine job at portraying the fearsome nature of Caesar's power over nature, especially in his deliberate destruction of a sacred grove to get timber he needed to beseige a town. "Caesar not only approaches the wood but begins to cut it down, demonstrating that he is not only a physical force but a cosmic force as well, able to defy the gods of the grove."
With the concept of truth a daily topic of discussion on cable TV news, the first chapter (by Hilary Bouxsein) shows the eternal relevance of how truth is perceived. She looks at the second half of Homer's Odyssey. While she draws no parallels with current political discourse in the U.S., I believe a close study of her discussion on the rhetoric of honesty will help us understand what is happening now. We learn, for example, how a character can "highlight his supposed honesty" that in reality is "not exactly a claim of truth." The character she looks at, Telemachus, merely "asserts that he is generally fond of speaking the truth." Remind you of anyone?
There are several outstanding chapters, including one (by Jennifer Starkey) on the "man-killing axe" called for by Clytemnestra in the play Libation Bearers by Aeschylus; and an essay by Ann Vasaly on Livy and the benefits of political discord. It is couched in terms of a discussion on Machiavelli's discourse on Livy. "Was Machiavelli right?" asks Vasaly. "Does Livy's history show that disunion made the Roman Republic free and powerful?" She concludes the observations of Machiavelli "are borne out" but qualifies it by highlighting aspects of Livy's presentation that Machaivelli "passes over in silence." A well reasoned and fascinating chapter.
Authors sometimes touch on an element of an argument without exploring it fully. For example, in a discussion of the gods by the 4th century CE writer Isocrates, Terry Papillon quotes him as writing "It is said that even the gods are ruled by Zeus. If the report is true about this, it is clear that they too prefer this government." As both sentences are couched in conditional terms, this is in fact a very weak argument by Isocrates for the promotion of monarchy, but the author does not explore its meaning or implications. Was Isocrates actually saying the opposite of what he appears to be promoting?
Five essays in the book focus on May's classical model: Cicero. What I would like to have seen in the book is an example of May's own writing on Cicero. His bibliography is given, with many Cicero-related papers listed. The inclusion of just one would have been marvellous, especially for those who are not conversant with his body of work.
The Ciceronian chapters address such topics as Cicero's developing ideas of apotheosis (he presents himself as wise and godlike); the dating of the quaestorship of Crassus based in part on the writing of Cicero; and the social propriety of Cicero writing letters during dinner time with friends (One can relate this to texting on the phone in a restaurant in 2017). The book resembles such a Roman banquet with delicacies that may tempt some but be turned down with thanks by others. Enjoy the feast.
Ab omni parte beatus (Blessed from every perspective) is $49 from the publisher Bolchazy-Carducci in Illinois.
The book is edited by Anne Groton