Select a letter to browse an alphabetical listing of terms and definitions.
Flags of cavalry regiments and, since 1961, air force squadrons.
British machinegun, introduced in early 1941 and made from the design of Maj. R.V. Sheffield and Mr. H.J. Turpin at the Enfield arsenal in England. Its name "Sten", which became famous, was coined by using the name initials of its inventors and the first two letters of the arsenal’s name. The British forces had no portable sub-machinegun of their own apart from the American Thompson. The British had previously come up with the Lanchester sub-machinegun but it was too complicated to be produced in great numbers.
The Sten Gun, which was inspired from the German MP 40, was purposely made to be very simple and had only 47 parts. Called a "plumber’s nightmare" by the troops because of its appearance, this 9 mm calibre all steel weapon was not overly popular as it sometimes jammed (like its German inspiration) but it performed adequately on the whole. Some two million were made in several versions. Canadian troops in Britain were issued the Sten Gun in 1942 and first used them at Dieppe and later in Northwest Europe and Korea. Canadian troops in Italy did not use the Sten gun as the 8th Army was armed with Thompson sub-machineguns. Conversely, the Sten Gun was very popular with Resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied Europe (where it was parachuted in numbers) as it was light, easy to dismantle and hide, and it could fire captured 9 mm German ammunition.
See also: Sub-machinegun, Tommy Gun
Commissioned army officer below the rank of captain (ie a second lieutenant or lieutenant).
Light and portable machineguns, called sub-machinegun (SMG), were developed towards the end of the First World War, the Thompson being the first to be widely used, initially by 1920s American gangsters and policemen. A sub-machine gun, such as the Sten Gun, could theoretically fire up to 600 shots a minute but was always used in short burst or single shot mode as its magazine only held 32 rounds. Sub-machineguns were usually issued to infantry platoon commanders and sergeants, the men being issued the slower firing but more accurate rifle.
See also: Sten Gun, Tommy Gun
Warship capable of operating either on or under the water surface, equipped with torpedo-tubes, guns, and periscope. The first truly operational submarine vessel was the French Gymnote in 1887. Designed by Gustave Zédé, a French marine engineer, it was powered by an electric motor and carried two torpedoes. Within a few years, every major naval power had submarine warships. The Royal Canadian Navy acquired its first two submarines from the Royal Navy in August 1914. These were of the 1911 D Class, already somewhat obsolete but equal to short range patrols and for training. They were the first diesel engine vessels in the RCN. Named the CC1 and CC2, both were at Esquimalt, British Columbia, with the sloop HMCS Shearwater as their depot ship. German cruisers were roaming the Pacific and authorities worried about possible attacks on Victoria or Vancouver and mustered what they could for defence. It turned out that German cruisers did come to the straits of Juan de Fuca in October 1914, but were then deployed elsewhere. Canada’s next involvement with submarines occurred when Britain wanted to immediately order some in the United States. As that country was neutral, ten American H class submarines were built for the Royal Navy under subsidiary contract in Montréal during 1915. Some RCN junior officers and men were trained and served in these Royal Navy submarines. In 1917, CC1 and CC2 were transferred to Halifax where they remained until 1919 when they were withdrawn from service, having seen no action. Two of the H class submarines were commissioned into the RCN in 1921 but were withdrawn from service the following year bringing the first Canadian submarine service to an end.
Submarine warfare was in its infancy at the outset of the First World War. Initially, submarines were intended to be used against surface warships but, as with corsairs of the sailing navies, the sinking of the enemy’s merchant shipping was also an objective. In the first months of the war, German surface cruisers such as the Emden were deployed to disturb sea lanes dominated by British shipping but submarines were soon proven to be far more effective. An irretrievable moral barrier was crossed on May 7, 1915 when the British passenger liner Lusitania was sunk by a U-Boat off Ireland. 1,200 civilian passengers and sailors were lost including 100 Canadians. The outrage over what was considered a barbaric act was such that angry crowds attacked German shops in Victoria, Vancouver and Montréal. Thereafter, there were no limits as to what submarines could and did attack, except for hospital ships. Submarines of the First World War had relatively limited ranges, however, so North America was not under great threat. All this changed by the Second World War when larger submarines were now capable of transoceanic patrols with greater autonomy. The Royal Canadian Navy’s main opponents became the U-Boats that would lurk right up to Canada’s east coast. Until 1943, it was an almost loosing battle with as much as half of the shipping to England lost on the way. Surface corvettes and destroyers alone could not protect convoys adequately. Planes were really the U-Boats’ worse enemy and it was only when the "Mid-Atlantic Gap" was covered by long-range aircraft that the tide turned in favour of the Allies. In spite of having a very large navy in the Second World War, the RCN had no submarines. Changing tactical roles for the RCN within NATO regarding submarine warfare occurred in the early 1960s and, in 1965, submarines were again commissioned in the Canadian navy.