Episode 1 - Call of Duty Canada (War Heroes Week)

Updated: Apr 19

Sam's Episode Notes: Leo Major – Force Majeur, or... Hell hath no fury like an angry Canadian. Leo was born 1921 to French Canadian parents and grew up in Montreal. He didn't get on with his Dad so joined the army in 1940, becoming a sniper and accomplished scout. He landed with Canadian troops on D-Day and shortly after managed to single-handedly capture a German armoured vehicle full of secret codes and German radio equipment. However, just days later he lost an eye when a cornered SS patrol he had encountered threw a smoke grenade at him. Most people would have been sent home after that, but Major just slapped on an eye patch and revelled in the fact he looked like a pirate. Call of Duty Canada – Level Two His first big break with heroidsm came in late 1944 Battle of Zealand in Belgium and the Netherlands. After being sent out to find a whole company of new recruits who had gone missing without a trace whilst crossing a canal whilst trying to capture a town. Alone and pissed off in the rain and mud, he spotted two Germans walking along and captured one of them, using him as a lure to capture the second. So you're alone with two prisoners, behind enemy lines what do you do? That's right, you order them to take you to their commander, then get him to surrender as well. Which, somehow, he did. Along with almost 100 other German soldiers. Still fully armed, still holding the town. When the SS stationed nearby saw this they opened fire on their own men, to which Major responded by marching the entire garrison through the machine gun fire back to Canadian lines. Seven of the Germans were shot dead by the SS, but 93 made it back. For that, he was offered a field decoration by Field Marshall Montgomery. Which he declined because he thought he was an incompetent ass. The interval So for most people, this would be enough excitement. But no. Major had more, and he wasn't going to let something like being exploded and breaking his back get in the way. In February 1945 he was driving along with a chaplain when his vehicle hit a mine and exploded, throwing him tens of metres into the air. When he awoke, he was being transported to a field hospital where he was diagnosed with a back broken in three places, as well as several ribs and both ankles. He'd be going home. Or not, actually he waited a week and then escaped from the hospital, and went and hid with a dutch family for a month until he felt better, then went and hitched a lift back to his unit.


Chapter three – single handedly liberating a city. And so we come to the final chapter, in which one Canadian with three machine guns strapped to his back single-handedly liberates a city, starting with its pub. It's April 1945. The war is almost over, but the pretty medeival Dutch city of Zwolle is still in Nazi hands. It's due to be assaulted with a huge artillery bombardment in the morning, so Major and his friend corporal Willie Arsenault were sent in to try and contact the Dutch resistance to work out where the Germans were.


Soon after setting off, Willie was killed by a roadblock just outside the town. Leo saw red and began his rampage, picking up Willie's machine gun, killing the Germans and taking *their* machine gun, all still carrying his own. He went into the town and carjacked a German staff car, demanding the driver took him to see a senior officer, who it turned out was drinking at a local pub. Leo captured him but quickly realised that the French-speaking Officer had no interest in the war or fighting. So he sent him off with a warning that the Canadians were coming and he'd be better running than getting blown up. As a sign of trust he even gave the officer his Gun back. So what do you do with a now terrified garrison and three machine-guns? You run through the town firing into the air to make it look like the whole Canadian army has arrived. He sprinted through the streets lobbing grenades and making as much noise as he could, terrifying as many German patrols as he could into surrendering, marching them out of town, and then rinsing and repeating - only stopping on the way to attack the SS Headquarters head-on and foiling a plot to infiltrate the Dutch Resistance. He completely cleared the town of Germans, alone, in one night. Those he didn't capture fled, and the attack was called off, saving the town from destruction. He was back home in time for breakfast, and a Distinguished Conduct Medal, one of only a couple of Commonwealth troops to get one. Boom. And as if that wasn't enough, he got a second one for capturing a hill in the Korean war a few years later. He's now famous in Montreal, Zwolle, and the Canadian army, with streets named after him. But he's relatively little known anywhere else. He died in 2003.

Tom's notes


Thank Sam

Reading Plutarch

> Greek biographer born middle 1st C AD

> As a general rule of thumb I hate biographies; I don’t like being in bookshops and seeing a wall of self-absorbed semi-famous people with lives I don’t care about looking pensively at me.

> Plutarch is different…

Not talking about Plutarch, but his biography of Quintus Fabius Maximum Verrucosus

> Military leader of the Roman Republic; consul and dictator

> Prudence, patience and his tactical subtlety in war

> Second Punic War

> Hannibal

> Nick name?

Nickname

> Sam?

> ‘Verrucosus’

Later ‘Cunctator’ - Delayer

> Your challenge is to use this word next week in everyday life

Hercules bonking a nymph on the banks of the Tiber

From a young age, Fabius was misunderstood by his peers; people thought him a bit slow, submissive and even foolish. In reality, he was patient, steadfast and unenthusiastic about petty things.

As he got older, and became interested in politics, quote

> Cue mildy erotic Roman training montage

In political office, Fabius’s achievements are regularly contrasted with more hot-headed and overtly ambitious politicians by Plutarch

> Flaminius was consul

> Despite bad omens, like shields sweating blood and tablets falling from the sky (presumably not ipads) fought Hannibal at Tresimene and was killed. 15,000 killed.

> Fabius had warned against

> Panic hits Rome after this defeat and the defeat at Trebia, Fabius turned to (dictator).

Fabius appointed Dictator with Minucius as Master or Horse

> Rome under threat from Hannibal on their doorstep ravaging the countryside of the Italian Peninsula, starts with honouring the gods

> Entire year’s increase in goats, pigs, sheep and cattle.

> Festival

> 333 sestertia, 333 denarii

> Shadowing Hannibal’s forces, avoiding flat land where Hannibal’s Numidian cavalry were happiest.

> Facbius seen as cowardly, all except Hannibal. Hannibal tried every trick to get into an open battle

Minucius was impatient

> Quote

Fabius corners Hannibal in Campania after some local guides misinterpreted Hannibal’s request.

> 2000 cattle’s horns set alight and sent towards the passes

> The cattles freak out and start running everywhere in the dark, the Roman’s guarding the passes panic and flee

> Hannibal managed to take advantage of the confusion and escape the position

> Fabius out generalled!

Fabius returns to Rome and Minucius, against orders, wins some minor scuffles with Hannibal.

> Fabius unhappy but the Roman public vote that Fabius and Minucius should share command (and forces)

> Not long after, Minucius lead his half of the Roman forces into battle against Hannibal and gets ambushed.

> Fabius looks on and I quote:

> Fabius marches his forces into battle and saves the day

> Minucius accepts that he was wrong to doubt Fabius

Terrentius Varro and Paulus Ameilius at Cannae

> Hilarious Gisco quote

> Awful defeat; 50,000 lost

Fabius looked to again.

Fabius and Claudius Marcellus; opposing characters

> Hannibal ambused and killed him

Fabius final victory over Hannibal was his re conquest of Tarentum.

> Hannibal realised after this the impossibility of conquering Italy with his present forces.

> Fabius achievements overshadowed by Scipio Africanus


Sam's notes:

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