Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   www.SilverHawkAuthor.com   
 
Reviews

Book is comprehensive guide to artillery monuments

Michael Staples, THE DAILY GLEANER, Telegraph Journal, 21 June 2012

 

CFB GAGETOWN - A retired army major from Canadian Forces Base Gagetown is releasing his second military-related book in less than a year.  Harold Skaarup has just completed Shelldrake: Canadian Artillery Museums and Gun Monuments, the companion volume to an earlier release called Ironsides.  Shelldrake is being described as an informative and detailed synopsis of the carefully preserved and restored guns and artillery on display in Canada.

"I think I have the 90-per-cent solution of where every gun is," Skaarup said in an interview.  Skaarup, who served with the Canadian Forces as an army intelligence officer and whose family is part of a rich military tradition, retired in August 2011 after 40 years of service to his community. He has authored a number of books on military history.  In September, Skaarup released Ironsides: Canadian Armoured Vehicle Museums and Monuments, a 350-page book that serves as a synopsis of preserved and restored armoured fighting vehicles on display in Canada.

Skaarup said research for Shelldrake has helped correct some misinformation that exists regarding what guns exist.  The retired major said many captured German guns were brought to Canadafollowing the completion of the First World War.  The equipment was intended to honour the 60,000 Canadianswho didn't return home from the fighting.  "They wanted something to honour these people and they brought back cannons," Skaarup said. "By bringing back guns, it was equivalent (to today's) Highway of Heroes." Unfortunately, Skaarup said, most of them have been cut up for scrap.

In a foreword written for the publication, retired Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie said Skaarup's book is reflective of the passion that gunners have for their guns.  "His descriptions of the Canadian guns and the places of honour where they can be viewed will highlight for the interested reader that military planners have had to be continuously creative in adapting to the changes necessitated by contemporary warfare, no matter what the era," Leslie wrote. "Examples include guns that predate Confederation to those that saw action as recently as Afghanistan. It is important to recognize and remember the importance of the people and equipment that defended our nation forward and were present at all of the key turning points in history." 

The publication serves as a guide book to where examples of the guns that served, and are preserved, in Canada, are, Leslie said.  It may also "serve as a window into our past while reminding us that there is a price to pay to preserve our society and values, and gunners and their guns have always done their duty," the retired lieutenant-general wrote.

Information on how purchase Shelldrake can be found at www.SilverHawkAuthor.com.

ON TRACK – Book Review

Shelldrake: Canadian Artillery museums and gun monuments

Reviewed by Lieutenant-Colonel (ret) Jim Bryce

 

Major (Retired) Harold A. Skaarup iUniverse,

Shelldrake: Canadian Artillery Museums and Gun Monuments. Bloomington

Indiana, 2/15/2012 ISBN 978-1-4697-5000-2 (sc) ; ISBN 978-1-4697-5001-9 (e)

 

This useful book is far more than just a reference book listing the locations of artillery monuments and museums across Canada. Its chapters contain the historical background and narrative which give the reader the context and relevance of the guns displayed at the various locations. Its scope is very wide ranging, from the Penetang Gun on display at Sainte-Marie among the Hurons, (believed to be the gun mentioned in Jesuit documents as the one taken there in 1648), to today’s M777 (the latest gun to enter Canadian service). The historical narrative and listings are not limited to Canadian guns but deal with related equipment used by the artillery such as the aircraft used by artillery air observers, and ‘war trophy’ guns captured from the enemy and on display in many Canadian museums, military bases and towns across the country. The author also includes naval guns in his listings and narrative, in view of the strong link between naval guns and land-based artillery. Many naval guns were used for coastal defence on the east and west coasts, in fortresses such as La Citadelle and in some cases, modified to serve as field, medium and heavy guns in land service.

The level of detail in the book is such that no one person could have completed the research alone. In addition, Major Skaarup is not a Gunner but an Intelligence Officer and as such has very much relied on input from a great many people to provide him with artillery specific information. The prodigious amount of work that he has done in collecting, collating and putting this information into a useful, readable and informative book, is readily evident in the three pages of acknowledgements and the extensive list of footnotes and in-text mentions of contributors. A commendation appears in the introduction written by Lieutenant-General (ret) Andrew Leslie, praising Skaarup for capturing and reflecting the passion that Gunners have for their guns. Major Skaarup has demonstrated that passion himself in completing such a valuable book.  The book will not only be of interest to Gunners but to the wider community of all those interested in military equipment and military history. If you have ever stood at a gun monument from any era and wondered about the gun’s type, provenance and history, then this book is one you will find valuable.

The book would clearly have benefitted from a more thorough final editing before publication as there are typographical and structural errors that would have been caught. Beyond that, it contains some factual errors that cannot be attributed to the author. As was noted above, he relied on many outside sources for his information and the breadth of scope is such that Major Skaarup could not be expected to catch all such errors. There are also by his reckoning many monuments and museums that are not included. He is, for example, aware of the number of captured German guns brought to Canada in 1920. During the Second World War many of these were cut up to provide metal for the war effort. He can account for all but a dozen of the remainder and would like to know where they are. Major Skaarup is maintaining this book as a living document and will be updating his records based on readers’ input; he plans to publish another edition in a few years. 

The advantages of this book more than compensate for the deficiencies noted in the paragraph above. I strongly recommend it as being very worthwhile to those interested in our military history.


Lieutenant-Colonel (ret) Jim Bryce retired in 1995 from the Regular Force after 35 years of service with the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery. In 2003 he was named as Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of 1st Air Defence Regiment (Lanark and Renfrew Scottish) RCA and served in that capacity until 2009. He is a Past-President of the Royal Canadian Artillery Association.

 

Tanks for the memories

Published Thursday September 29th, 2011

Book: Author explores world of armoured fighting vehicles

By MICHAEL STAPLES
staples.michael@dailygleaner.com

 

Armoured fighting vehicles are being immortalized in a new book called Ironsides ... Canadian Armoured Vehicle Museums and Monuments.

 

Written by Harold Skaarup, a retired army major from Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, the almost 350-page book is a synopsis of preserved and restored armoured fighting vehicles on display in Canada.

Skaarup said the purpose of the publication is to provide a simple checklist of the classic armour that's part of our military heritage so it can serve as a location guide to where they can be found in Canada.

"That is the main aim," Skaarup said in an interview.

"I am not an expert on the guns and artillery. I can add to it from what I have seen and what I know, but what I know is where these are and where to find them."

In a foreword written for the book, Brig.-Gen. Steve Bowes, a former commander with Land Forces Atlantic Area and the Combat Training Centre, said Skaarup highlights the importance of armoured vehicles upon key turning points in history when they were used as tools of war at home and overseas.

"We often associate the evolution of military prowess with the advancement of sophisticated technology," Bowes wrote.

"Maj. Skaarup's descriptions of Canadian armour as it evolved to the level it has today reveals military planners have had to be continuously creative in adapting to the changes in modern combat."

Skaarup, who served with the Canadian Forces for more than 40 years, said it's important to have such a publication because of the sacrifices made by this country's soldiers in times of war.

"People died in these vehicles for what we have," said Skaarup, whose uncle was killed in a Sherman tank by the Germans in the Second World War.

"We were grossly outclassed, grossly outmanoeuvred, grossly outkitted. The people who died in these things are to be remembered by these things being on display."  Skaarup, a former army intelligence officer with a long-standing interest in military history, said he hopes the book will reach many people.

He said he would like to start with individuals in New Brunswick communities who are familiar with Canadian Forces Base Gagetown and then move on to veterans and people who want to know where the armoured vehicles are.

Skaarup said children who are unfamiliar with the topic will have the information needed to learn where the vehicles located.

"The big thing is that I photographed this stuff myself, as much as possible, because I have found so much has disappeared or moved that I know where it is, and this what I want to share," he said.

"People don't know where to go and look."

Skaarup, who has written multiple military-related books, said while he worked on Ironsides for a year, he has been visiting bases, taking pictures and examining museums over the course of his career.

He's working on a companion book to Ironsides, focusing on artillery monuments.

Information on how to purchase Ironsides can be found online at www.SilverHawkAuthor.com.

 

Moncton Times Transcript article

 

Written by Harold Skaarup, a retired army major from Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, the almost 350-page book is a synopsis of preserved and restored armoured fighting vehicles on display in Canada.

Skaarup said the purpose of the publication is to provide a simple checklist of the classic armour that's part of our military heritage so that it can serve as a guide to where they can be found in Canada.

"That is the main aim," Skaarup said. "I am not an expert on the guns and artillery. I can add to it from what I have seen and what I know, but what I know is where these are and where to find them."

In a foreword written for the book, Brig.-Gen. Steve Bowes, a former commander with Land Forces Atlantic Area and the Combat Training Centre, said Skaarup highlights the importance of armoured vehicles upon key turning points in history when they were used as tools of war at home and overseas.

"We often associate the evolution of military prowess with the advancement of sophisticated technology," Bowes wrote. "Maj. Skaarup's descriptions of Canadian armour as it evolved to the level it has today reveals military planners have had to be continuously creative in adapting to the changes in modern combat."

Skaarup, who served with the Canadian Forces for more than 40 years, said it's important to have such a publication because of the sacrifices made by this country's soldiers in times of war.

Information on how to purchase Ironsides can be found online at www.SilverHawkAuthor.com.

 


How Many Canadians Have Flown a MiG?

Daily Gleaner Book Review: Canadian MiG Flights, author Harold Skaarup

MiG; Three little letters conjure thoughts of the Cold War, combat, speed, and the unknown of Soviet technology. In the 1970s and 1980s, they were the showpiece of movies in which American action heroes battled the forces of communism.

Fredericton resident Harold Skaarup's new book, Canadian MiG Flights, works to pull back the Iron Curtain and details these deadly aircraft and the few Canadians fortunate enough to test them.

MiG stands for Mikoyan-i-Gurevich, the design bureau for Soviet fighters. The MiG was the fighter of choice for the Soviet Union and its allies from post Second World War II right through the 20th century. But it was during the end days of Soviet power that Canadians were invited to fly the infamous war bird.

An impromptu offer at an air show gave a Canadian pilot an opportunity to test fly a MiG 29. It was a taste of what the Soviet Union offered in fighters and a chance to discover what was before top secret.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Bloc, more planes became available through donations to or purchases by museums and training facilities.

But this was not the first time that Soviet aircraft became available for inspection. Throughout the Cold War, defectors made their way from the Soviet Bloc and satellites to more "friendly nations" (Taiwan offered bounties to defectors) using the MiG as means to escape. These planes would be heavily inspected in hopes of gaining advantages in the air should the United States and the Soviet Union meet in direct conflict.

It was not only the technology that was valuable; it also gave insight into the tactics and priorities of the Soviet military. In this way intelligence personnel could develop possible scenarios and counter measures.

Dissemination of military assets goes backs as far as the two world wars, which Skaarup also details, as he does the Canadian pilots who flew them, such as the celebrated Billy Bishop.

Skaarup, an army intelligence officer, covers every detail of each aircraft with accompanying pictures of the aircraft and when and where they were used. It would have been nice if there were a standard outline to better compare the planes.

The author is commended for not skimping on facts but they would read better if they were couched in a more friendly narrative, not to embellish but to enhance.

For air and military enthusiasts, Canadian MiG Flights is good resource.

- reviewed by DAVID TURNER

For The Daily Gleaner

Reference:http://dailygleaner.canadaeast.com/rss/article/444921.

 

The history of Canadian espionage

Daily Gleaner Books

As published on page B4 on September 10, 2005

Book: Out of Darkness - Light, A History of Canadian Military Intelligence, Volume I, Pre-Confederation to 1982 by Harold A. Skaarup (iUniverse Inc.)

 

Britain has James Bond, the United States has Jack Ryan, and Canada - well, no one has created a Canadian super-spy.  But there is a wealth of history to draw from.

Fredericton resident Harold A. Skaarup sheds some light on our country's contributions to espionage and intelligence in Out of Darkness - Light: A History of Canadian Military Intelligence.  This volume chronicles from pre-Confederation to 1982.

The reader is introduced to the beginnings of intelligence gathering in ancient times and its use in Canada.  From scouting unmapped areas of the continent, to transporting messages on bicycle during The First World War, theneed for accurate information shaped military strategy and by extension, Canada itself.

The majority of the book is spent on activities from the Second World War and beyond.  Here we read of things more familiar to the layman: high-tech gadgets, code-breaking, and spying.

Skaarup knows his subject well.  The New Brunswick native is a service veteran of over 30 years, specializing in intelligence that has taken him all over the world.

The book can best be described as an almanac.  There is no real narrative, rather a factual description of the intelligence community's history.  Excerpts from reports and publications are added to provide the mindset of personnel throughout the years.

There are some gems to be found in the book, but like real intelligence gathering, it will be necessary to sift through all the information to find it.  There is an amusing tale of navigating bureaucracy to reach career goals based on a night on the town in a foreign city, and the subversive side to stamp collecting.

It is unfair to judge a book for what it is not, especially when it accomplishes what the author set out to do.  Still, I wanted more of the remembrances of those who served.

A serving member speaks on the disparity between spy fiction and the real world experience.  I would like to see this book inspire someone to seek the stories that would create a Maple Leaf 007.

You have your assignment.

 

- reviewed by DAVID TURNER