Topic: Canadian Army
Lessons Not Learned: some of the First World War era tanks that Canada bartered for on
the outbreak of the Second World War as much needed trainers to fill the capability gap
left by having none in Canadian inventories.
Shortage of Ultra-Modern Arms Disclosed in Canadian Forces
The Montreal Gazette, 26 November 1949
(Gazette Resident Correspondent)
Defence Minister Claxton admitted that "no provision whatever" was being made for new types sof tanks and self-propelled guns for armored regiments.
He disclosed that the recoilless rifle — and extremely efficient weapon developed at the end of the war — was a complete stranger to the Canadian Army.
He revealed that the proximity fuse — which appeared about the time of the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 and began to revolutionize artillery warfare — was not to be found in a single shell in Canada.
Questioned by incredulous officers sitting on the Opposition benches, Mr. Claxton shrugged his shoulders when questioned about the lack of all of these items and asked, in return, where could you buy them?
It started when Lt.-Col. D.S. Harkness (PC, Calgary East) asked about armor.
"Has there been any provision for new types of tanks and self-propelled guns in the past year or during the remainder of the year covered by these estimates?" he asked.
"No." Mr. Claxton told him. "There is no provision whatever." Col Harkness suggested that there should be some provision.
"Then I would ask the honorable member if he can tell me where he can get the tanks." commented the Defence Minister.
The Calgary M.P. Suggested that there should be an excellent possibility of picking up self-propelled guns of the recoilless model.
"We should be glad to hear about it," said the minister.
Opposition Leader Drew unearthed the proximity fuse lack.
Would the minister say, he asked, how many artillery or mortar shells in Canada were equipped with proximity fuses, one of the deadliest of modern warfare devices?
He sat down and waited expectantly, as Mr. Claxton rose.
"Not a one," declared the minister and sat down again.
The leader of the Opposition charged that this disclosure was proof that the artillery branch of the Canadian Army was not adequately equipped for modern defence emergencies and it was probably true, too, of other branches, he suggested.
The Defence Minister cut in to ask Mr. Drew what nations the latter believed were equipping their forces with proximity fuses. Mr. Drew named the United States, the United Kingdom "and the nation about which we are most concerned"—Russia.