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Military Word Of The Day
NDHQ
:
National Defence Headquarters: Located in Ottawa ON


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Today in Military History

February 23



1815:

Sir George Prevost, commanding British forces in Canada, submits a progress report to the British government on the Lachine Canal project.


1836:

Texas - General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna with several thousand Mexican troops starts siege of Alamo mission held by 145 Texans under Colonel Travis, Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett; siege ends March 6 with all the Texans killed.


1852:

Capetown South Africa - British troopship HMS Birkenhead sinks off South Africa, killing 420.


1858:

At Sultanpore in India, Lieutenant Innes of the Bengal Engineers rode ahead of the advancing British troops to drive the enemy away from an artillery piece. He then charged a second gun, which was being more resolutely manned and was well placed to maul the advancing troops. Innes killed a gunner and captured the gun, which he then defended until reinforcements arrived. He received the Victoria Cross, as did Major Gough, decorated for a series of actions over the previous months, culminating in a skirmish on 23 February when he saved the life of a fellow officer.


1900:

During the Boer War, a British colonel fell wounded in the open. Boer snipers kept his body under close watch, and drove back any attempts to reach him. The colonel himself sustained a further eight wounds. Private Curtis of the East Surrey Regiment nevertheless was determined to rescue him. After several aborted attempts, Curtis managed to reach the colonel, and proceeded to dress his wounds, all the time under constant fire. The colonel insisted that he be left, since the risks of carrying him were so high. Curtis ignored him, and managed to carry him back to the British lines, helped by another man who succeeded in coming to his aid. Curtis was awarded the Victoria Cross.


1909:

J. A. D. McCurdy flies the Bell designed Silver Dart at an altitude of about 10 metres for nearly one kilometre across Baddeck Bay; first airplane flight in Canada by a Canadian; first powered flight in British Empire.


1917:

As British forces once more advanced up the Tigris towards Kut in Mesopotamia, Major Wheeler led a small party of nine Gurkhas across the river and stormed an enemy position. The Turks reacted swiftly to this incursion, and dispatched a force well armed with grenades to retake the trench. The Gurkhas met them with a bayonet charge, during which Wheeler received a severe bayonet wound to the head. Nevertheless, he remained in command and consolidated his defences, having established through his initiative a valuable bridge-head on the enemy bank. He was awarded the Victoria Cross.


1933:

Japanese occupy China North of the Great Wall


1942:

Ellwood California - Japanese submarine fires on California oil refinery.


1945:

Captain Swales, South African Air Force, serving with 582 Squadron RAF, was appointed the Master Bomber to lead a raid on Pforzheim. As he circled the target, controlling the bombing runs, his Lancaster was twice attacked by German fighters. Swales chose not to take evasive action, since this would have interfered with his control of the raid. Two of the Lancaster's engines were knocked out, as well as the rear turret. Swales nevertheless continued to direct the bombing with great accuracy, and only turned for home once the raid was complete. On the way back, the badly damaged aircraft hit turbulent cloud over Belgium, and became uncontrollable. Swales ordered his crew to bail out, whilst he struggled to hold the aircraft steady. They all parachuted safely, but Swales had no opportunity to escape before the Lancaster crashed. He was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross, Bomber Command's last such decoration.


1945:

Iwo Jima Japan - US Marines take Japanese island of Iwo Jima 1200 km south of Tokyo after severe fighting; a bronze statue in Arlington Cemetery showing troops raising the flag on the summit of the island is based on a famous photo.


1951:

Canadian troops with 27th British Commonwealth Infantry Brigade make first contact with enemy.




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