June 22, 2020
There’s probably no other military unit shrouded in so much legend, myth and even notoriety as the French Foreign Legion. But a new book by Canadian author Joel Struthers, called Appel: A Canadian in the French Foreign Legion, cuts through a lot of the many misconceptions by giving a clear, no BS account of what it's like to wear the uniform of this storied unit.
To get your own copy of the book and to support Joel Struthers PTSD awareness initiative, check out his website www.legionengineered.com
May 25, 2020
There's no justice, like frontier mob justice.
In this episode, author Keith Leckie joins host Russell Hillier to talk about his book, Cursed: Blood of the Donnelly's, a novel about the most infamous family in Canadian history.
The Historical Background
For years, every barn-burning, horse theft and murder in the pioneer town of Lucan, was blamed on the Donnelly clan.
Then on the night of February 3, 1880, a vigilante mob of local citizens converged on the Donnelly farmstead, armed with clubs, guns and pitchforks. They massacred every family member they could find, then made their way to a second farmstead and shot-dead another Donnelly brother as he opened the door.
There were witnesses to the killings, yet not a single man was convicted of the crime.
Were the Donnelly's lambs at the slaughter, or did they have it coming?
May 19, 2020
General George Armstrong Custer.
The name alone symbolizes the American frontier and has become synonymous with military disaster. In this podcast episode, historian and best-selling author James Donovan, joins host Russell Hillier to talk about his book “A Terrible Glory: Custer and the Little Big Horn,” and what happened on that fateful day in June 1876, when American forces were massacred by Sioux and Cheyenne warriors.
General George Armstrong Custer quickly rose through the ranks of the Civil War United States army. He led from the front and his men loved him. There was this thing called “Custer’s Luck,” because he always seemed to make the right snap-decisions on the battlefield and he never lost.
This luck came to end on the banks of the Little Big Horn River in June 1876, when Custer and 210 of his men were massacred by Sioux and Cheyenne Warriors from Chief Sitting Bull’s tribe.
There were no survivors and the “last stand” has been immortalized ever since.
But was Custer a victim of his own success-driven ego, or was he stabbed in the back by subordinates who wanted to see the famed General humbled?
May 10, 2020
In this episode, scientist and author Rachel Lance, joins Russell Hillier to share the story of how she solved the mystery of the H.L Hunley, the world’s first successful submarine that sank over 130 years ago during the height of the American Civil War.
February 1864, Charleston Harbour:
There were rumours of course.
Men on board Union warships blockading Charleston Harbour had heard about this new contraption of war. This enemy ship that sailed unseen and under the waves. This submarine.
When the Hunley submarine launched its attack on the night of February 17, 1864, some onboard the USS Housatonic thought it was a log carried out on the tide. Others guessed right and tried to lower the angle of the ship’s cannons and when that failed, they began using musket fire to drive off the partially submerged enemy ship. All to no avail.
The blast from the first ever successful submarine attack sunk the Housatonic in less than five minutes. Men clutching to Housatonic’s rigging thought they saw the enemy submarine go down as well.
Thus began the mystery of just what exactly happened to Hunley submarine.
Was the submarine destroyed in the blast?
Did a “lucky shot” from a sailor’s musket punch a hole through the iron body?
Or was it something else entirely.
Rachel Lance, scientist and author of “In the Waves: My Quest to Solve the Mystery of a Civil War Submarine,” has answered the question: why did the Hunley submarine sink. Listen in to find out about the research that went into solving the mystery of the Hunley submarine.
April 24, 2020
In this episode, host Russell Hillier is joined by best-selling author and veteran of the Rhodesian Bush War, Tim Bax.
For ten years, Tim Bax fought against the tide of infiltrating ZANLA and FRELIMO terrorists throughout Rhodesia and Mozambique, as part of the legendary Rhodesian Light Infantry and Selous Scouts. His life growing up in Africa and Canada, as well as his war-time experiences are captured in the book “Three Sips of Gin.”
Tim joined the podcast from his home in Orlando to share his thoughts about writing, as well as the lessons from Africa that can be applied to the modern battlefield.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s Rhodesia was Africa’s wealthiest nation, with a robust agricultural sector, strong currency and a capitol city that boasted fancy restaurants, Jaguar cars and high-end clubs.
By 1980, it was all gone.
Although the Rhodesian Light Infantry and Selous Scouts never lost a battle, they still lost the war. After years of economic sanctions and with their rifles and ammunition supplies spent, Rhodesia capitulated. The new country called Zimbabwe would soon be on the path to hell, with Robert Mugabe as its leader.
April 4, 2020
Remember in history class when you read about the drunken Irish mob that tried to invade Canada? It gets about half a page in most high-school history textbooks and like so much of the official historical narrative in this country, there's more to the story.
In this podcast episode, host Russell Hillier talks to historian and author, Peter Vronsky, about his book Ridgeway: The History of Canada, and gets to the bloody truth about the Fenian invasions.
Far from being a drunken mob, the Fenians who invaded Canada in 1866 were hardened veterans of the American Civil War and they bested Upper Canada on the field of battle. Imagine in the year 2020, a thousand American veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, armed with the latest military technology, crossed into Canada. Think of the panic and confusion resulting from such a move. This is precisely what happened in 1866, as 1000 Fenian veterans from the Civil War crossed the Niagara frontier, with the goal of capturing Canada and holding it hostage in exchange for Britain relinquishing control of Ireland.
In hindsight, it seems like a crazy proposition and yet, the Fenians did land an army and completely routed the Canadian forces sent against them in the battle of Ridgeway.
In this episode, we get into the Fenian strategy, the battle tactics and the reasons why this battle has been largely forgotten by Canadian history.
March 29, 2020
In this episode, host Russell Hillier speaks to retired Corporal Scott Casey about the Canadian peace-keeping mission to the former Yugoslavia and Bosnia. Scott Casey recounts the war-time atrocities witnessed during this mission and explains his journey into becoming a best-selling author.
March 2, 2020
Host Russell Hillier reimagines the epic battle of Queenston Heights in 1812, with Confederate General Robert E. Lee taking the field against Sir Isaac Brock. Who would win in this clash of military giants?
January 9, 2020
Captain Robert Semrau’s military trial made international headlines—a Canadian soldier serving in Afghanistan arrested for allegedly killing a grievously wounded Taliban soldier in the field. For more than two years, Semrau faced an uncertain future that hinged on an incident blurred by the fog of war.
In this episode, Robert Semrau join's hosts Russell and Dillon Hillier to talk about the war in Afghanistan, the state of Canadian literature and combat leadership.