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Unique Land, Sea and Air view of WWII for Students
  by Melissa Raven  
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Trenches in Tillsonburg
Photos courtesy of Project Ojibwa Museum of Naval History

What do a trench warfare soldier, a submariner, and a flying ace have in common? Just ask the forty-five Grade 10 students of Parkside Collegiate Institute in St. Thomas who will be immersed in three very different aspects of World War II on Tuesday, May 27, 2014. Land, sea, and air all in one day!

The Museum of Naval History and the Harvard Association of Canada have partnered with Robin Barker-James and his "Ground Warfare Program" to create a unique new educational program - the first of its kind in Canada. Land, Sea and Air emphasizes the "tools of war as the technology of the day," says Barker-James. "The notion of 'Combined Arms' was used in WWII to overwhelm the enemy, and it's what won the war. Students will be familiar with the D-Day landings in Normandy - a perfect example of combined arms."

The Sea component begins first at 9:00 a.m. in Port Burwell as HMCS Ojibwa stands in for a WWII submarine to teach students about the Battle of the Atlantic. "Experiencing the sea war will help participants understand how Canada came to have the third largest navy in the world by the end of the war," commented Ian Raven, Executive Director of the Elgin Military Museum.

Students will learn the harrowing stories of two St. Thomas men who joined the navy and participated in missions during the Battle of the Atlantic and a German U-boat man who eventually moved to St. Thomas after the war. Learning will mix with fun as they participate in a precision-style re-enactment of a convoy under attack by notoriously deadly technology of German U-boats while they learn about the importance of Canadian corvettes delivering much needed supplies to Britain's shores. Also, in keeping with St. Thomas related stories, students will discover how the HMCS St. Thomas, a Castle-class corvette warship of the Royal Canadian Navy, made naval history and saved lives.

The Air component, starting at 11:15 a.m., will take the students to the Harvard Association of Canada facilities at the Tillsonburg Airport. There they will see a demonstration of the Harvard Trainer, arguably the most important aircraft of the war. Harvards were the primary training aircraft at the Service Flying Training School in Aylmer, the current site of the Ontario Police College. Barker-James adds, "Students will learn that WWII on land could not have been won without aircraft and hundreds of thousands were trained on the Harvard."

Starting at 12:30 p.m., the Land component will teach basic tactical manoeuvres to students as they re-enact the action where Canada captured the Hitler line in 1944. Students will have the opportunity to play both defensive and offensive roles to better understand the dynamics of ground warfare. To explain which side had the best technology at the time, Barker-James promises that "there will be simulated casualties."

"The land, sea and air technologies of 14 nations combined their strength and teamwork to defeat the Nazis," Parker-James concludes. "We are teaching that you can't be successful by using one system alone - we all need to combine our efforts and knowledge, and to encourage teamwork and cooperation. You have to have courage and be willing to take risks."

The Land, Sea and Air program begins at Port Burwell on Tuesday, May 27th, 2014 at 9 a.m.
9:00 a.m. Sea: Ojibwa Submarine, 3 Pitt Street, Port Burwell
11:15 a.m. Air: Harvard Association of Canada, 244411 Airport Road, Tillsonburg
12:30 p.m. Land: The William Findley Outdoor Education Site, 164886 New Road, R.R. #1 Tillsonburg

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