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  • #343838

    Anonymous
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    [size=14pt]A remembrance: Cpl. Filip Konowal
    [/size]
    by Lubomyr Luciuk

    Two minutes before 11, on the morning of November 11, 1918, a German sniper's bullet killed George Price at the village of Ville-sur-Haine, just east of Mons, France. He was one of the 60,661 Canadian soldiers killed during World War I, among the last to die on the Western Front. The war ended seconds later.

    On average, more than 5,600 men were killed each day – more than the total number of Canadian veterans of the "Great War for Civilization" still alive today. Except, perhaps, on Remembrance Day, these are our unremembered soldiers, even as we solemnly intone a poem by another Canadian, Lt. Col. John M. McCrae, which begs us to recall their sacrifice: "We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow…"

    Today, in Ottawa, we have begun to reverse our collective neglect by commemorating the wartime valor of a Canadian soldier, Filip Konowal, one of these forgotten men.

    Born in Ukraine, Mr. Konowal emigrated to Canada in 1913. He left behind a wife and daughter, promising to return soon. He hoped to build a better life for his family in Canada. After the war broke out, he volunteered for service, joining Ottawa's 77th Infantry Battalion, later being reassigned to British Columbia's 47th Battalion.

    Unlike most Ukrainian immigrants in Canada, Cpl. Konowal had come from Ukrainian lands then under the control of the Russian Empire. He was lucky, for that meant that he was misidentified officially as a "Russian." Because most Ukrainians in Canada at that time had been born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, they were labelled "Austrians."

    Thousands of Cpl. Konowal's fellow Ukrainians were stigmatized with the label of being "enemy aliens" during Canada's first national internment operations of 1914-1920. Many were carted off to 24 Canadian concentration camps, women and children among them. The last survivors of that injustice will soon be gone. Like Cpl. Konowal they, too, have been all but forgotten.

    In August 1917, during the battle for Hill 70, nears Lens, France, Cpl. Konowal fought with exceptional valor. For his deeds he was awarded the British Empire's highest decoration, the Victoria Cross. Presenting the medal in person, King George V remarked: "Your exploit is one of the most daring and heroic in the history of my army. For this, accept my thanks."

    Cpl. Konowal finally returned to Canada on July 20, 1919, having soldiered for three years and 357 days in the ranks of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, both in Europe and in Siberia. Reportedly as many as 10,000 other Ukrainian Canadians had also so served.

    The remainder of Cpl. Konowal's life was troubled, probably the consequence of his severe war wounds. His first wife and daughter both disappeared during the Stalinist terror in Ukraine. Until his death in 1959, the best job he could find was being a janitor in the House of Commons. While honored by his fellow Ukrainian Canadian veterans, he was otherwise neglected.

    After he was buried by his regiment with full military honors, in Ottawa's Notre Dame Cemetery, Cpl. Konowal's grave was marked with only the simplest of tablets. And then this man and his remarkable story were all but forgotten. Even the whereabouts of his Victoria Cross, one of the 94 won by Canadians since the Crimean War, remains unknown.

    By consecrating a new, upright marker at Cpl. Konowal's grave, by unveiling this trilingual plaque in Ottawa's Cartier Square Drill Hall, the regimental home of the Governor General's Foot Guards, and by taking steps to place other markers in Toronto, in New Westminster and in Cpl. Konowal's home village of Kudkiv, Ukraine, we have today begun the essential process of reminding all Canadians of the price that this one man paid to be a Canadian, of his pride in having been able to serve as a soldier.

    At a time when our national unity is under threat, when there are those loose in the land who are cynical about the honorable nature of a military calling, when there are attempts to fragment Canada along regional, ethnic, racial or political lines, it is well worth remembering what this simple man – an immigrant, a soldier, a janitor – was willing to do for his king and for his country, for all of us. He did what he had to do for no reward, for precious little recognition. Cpl. Konowal's self-sacrifice and humility, more so than his remarkable bravery under fire, are what make him a real Canadian hero, worthy of our respectful acknowledgment.

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    #392674

    Anonymous

    Interesting. Good thread Sokil! :D

    #392675

    Anonymous
    Quote:
    Interesting. Good thread Sokil! :D

    Thanks :)

    #392676

    Anonymous

    Very interesting thread.

    Many brave sons of Canada during WWI were of Ukrainian descent, it is too bad their memory fell victim to anglo chauvinism.

    When I read about the internment camps… it just made me sick.

    I have found a site commemorating the Ukrainain soldiers (well it's actually a Russian +  Ukrainian site, but bear with me) serving in the Canadian army

    http://www.russiansinthecef.ca/3rdpioneer/3rdto29th.shtml

    ^List of soldiers of the 29th Canadian Battalion. At least two of them are Ukrainian, pte. Bodnaruk and pte. Greschuk. Pte. Nimenko might be Ukrainian aswell

    #392677

    Anonymous
    Quote:
    Very interesting thread.

    Many brave sons of Canada during WWI were of Ukrainian descent, it is too bad their memory fell victim to anglo chauvinism.

    When I read about the internment camps… it just made me sick.

    I have found a site commemorating the Ukrainain soldiers (well it's actually a Russian +  Ukrainian site, but bear with me) serving in the Canadian army

    http://www.russiansinthecef.ca/3rdpioneer/3rdto29th.shtml

    ^List of soldiers of the 29th Canadian Battalion. At least two of them are Ukrainian, pte. Bodnaruk and pte. Greschuk. Pte. Nimenko might be Ukrainian aswell

    Thanks a lot for this site, very informative :)

    #392678

    Anonymous

    Not to derail the thread, but Konoval and others who volunteered for the Canadian Army were poorly paid Mercenaries for the Anglos and not necessarily of a sane mind.  This Konoval migrated and effectively stayed in Ontario / Quebec, whilst the proper community was in Alberta and Manitoba – and he left his whole family (plus wife who he likely abandoned) in Eastern Europe..  ::)

      The Ukrainian population in Canada was already close to 250K in the 1910s, and the number of Ukrainian Canadians willing to fight on the frontlines (unless conscripted) only numbered in the hundreds at best.  There were thousands who did wear uniforms but it wasn't out of Patriotism to Canada or anything.  During WWII, several of my relatives did serve in the airforce due to the Commonwealth Air Training Plan – which effectively was a multi-billion dollar program and many Ukrainian farmers sign up because of the good wages (and many following the war qualified and took advantage of the veteran land grants).

    The reality being, I have a suspicion that had the Cold War gone Hot, the RCMP and Canadian Defense Forces probably had a plan to shove 'Communists' (code word for Ukrainians) into a Gulag.  ::)

    #392679

    Anonymous
    Quote:
    Not to derail the thread, but Konoval and others who volunteered for the Canadian Army were poorly paid Mercenaries for the Anglos and not necessarily of a sane mind.  This Konoval migrated and effectively stayed in Ontario / Quebec, whilst the proper community was in Alberta and Manitoba – and he left his whole family (plus wife who he likely abandoned) in Eastern Europe..  ::)

      The Ukrainian population in Canada was already close to 250K in the 1910s, and the number of Ukrainian Canadians willing to fight on the frontlines (unless conscripted) only numbered in the hundreds at best.  There were thousands who did wear uniforms but it wasn't out of Patriotism to Canada or anything.  During WWII, several of my relatives did serve in the airforce due to the Commonwealth Air Training Plan – which effectively was a multi-billion dollar program and many Ukrainian farmers sign up because of the good wages (and many following the war qualified and took advantage of the veteran land grants).

    The reality being, I have a suspicion that had the Cold War gone Hot, the RCMP and Canadian Defense Forces probably had a plan to shove 'Communists' (code word for Ukrainians) into a Gulag.  ::)

    Well, it's never bad to have a second opinion. I didn't know about his backstory.

    #392680

    Anonymous

    Very sad to read.  I am of the opinion that Canadians should not have had to die to save British businesses.  Same with America.  Wilson lied and then terrorized all opponents of that stupid war.  All in the name of protecting capital and armament payments.

    #392681

    Anonymous
    Quote:
    Very sad to read.  I am of the opinion that Canadians should not have had to die to save British businesses.  Same with America.  Wilson lied and then terrorized all opponents of that stupid war.  All in the name of protecting capital and armament payments.

    Did you also know that Wilson banned all immigration that did not come from Northern Europe? I was never fond of him.

    #392682

    Anonymous
    Quote:
    Did you also know that Wilson banned all immigration that did not come from Northern Europe? I was never fond of him.

    Wilson did not know what the hell he was doing when he was attempting to fix post World War 1 Europe during the Paris Peace Conference. I do however like the idealism in his 14 points because it was in part thanks to him that nations like Czechoslovakia could exist independently after the war because he believed all people in Europe should be free to have self determination. As for the northern European only thing, so would Mr.Bean be more "Nordic" then say the man in my avatar just because he comes from the UK according to Wilson? I understand what Nordicism was about but basing immigration based on geographic location rather then some sort of inspection of who qualifies as Nordic or not just does not make any sense to me.

    #392683

    Anonymous
    Quote:
    Wilson did not know what the hell he was doing when he was attempting to fix post World War 1 Europe during the Paris Peace Conference. I do however like the idealism in his 14 points because it was in part thanks to him that nations like Czechoslovakia could exist independently after the war because he believed all people in Europe should be free to have self determination. As for the northern European only thing, so would Mr.Bean be more "Nordic" then say the man in my avatar just because he comes from the UK according to Wilson? I understand what Nordicism was about but basing immigration based on geographic location rather then some sort of inspection of who qualifies as Nordic or not just does not make any sense to me.

    Ik. What type of ethnic group are Britons like Mr. Bean anyhow? Residual Iberian Celts?

    #392684

    Anonymous
    Quote:
    Wilson did not know what the hell he was doing when he was attempting to fix post World War 1 Europe during the Paris Peace Conference. I do however like the idealism in his 14 points because it was in part thanks to him that nations like Czechoslovakia could exist independently after the war because he believed all people in Europe should be free to have self determination. As for the northern European only thing, so would Mr.Bean be more "Nordic" then say the man in my avatar just because he comes from the UK according to Wilson? I understand what Nordicism was about but basing immigration based on geographic location rather then some sort of inspection of who qualifies as Nordic or not just does not make any sense to me.

    From having travelled a lot – I can attest that the English are a dark swarthy people ~ except for Ukrainians who can be similiar in colouring, everyone else in Eastern Europe is far more "Nordic" in appearance than people in the British Isles (with the exception of some light Celts if their depigmentation isn't related to Gingerism / Albinism).

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