William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD

THE CWM REPLACES CANADIAN JUDGE AND JURY

With veterans feeling personal hurts
Museum Directors and Joey Geurts
Hang Clayton Matchee up on the wall
a Canadian disgrace felt by us all

With pre-judgement pictures hanging there
his lawyers might find the display unfair
to high litigation they might resort
Cause Matchee still ain’t been to court

Canadians are considered innocent
until they go before the bench
a judge and jury they will decide
if Matchee is guilty of homicide

Right now he is ill and can not attend
What is the message the museum sends?
It is they who are really all above the law
by displaying tainted evidence they never saw?

BITTER WAR AT MUSEUM

Peter Worthington details the furor over VD and Somalia at the new Canadian War Museum
Reprinted from the Toronto Sun ~ Sun, May 29, 2005

Peter Worthington
Peter Worthington
WHILE PM Paul Martin was conniving, begging and bribing to save his government from a non-confidence vote and election (he succeeded, thanks to Belinda Stronach), the new Canadian War Museum in Ottawa was in the midst of unexpected controversy.

The issue revolves around a large painting of a Canadian soldier torturing to death a young Somali thief who had entered Canadian lines, and a display about the Korean War that advertises 41.4% of those who served in Korea contracted venereal disease.

There is much to praise in the war museum (especially its architecture), but there are other aspects that need correcting, or adjusting. But these two issues taint the museum’s reputation and undermine whatever goodwill many veterans feel toward it.

Cliff Chadderton, in his role as chairman of the 51-member National Council of Veteran Associations, has boycotted the museum since it opened earlier this month, partly because of the controversial painting and partly because of the high-handed way he feels he and WWII vets have been treated.

The Korean Veterans Association (Canada) has protested the VD sign, and apparently Museum Director Joe Geurts has agreed to replace it with a display noting the total of all sickness cases encountered in Korea, but not singling out VD.

This compromise verges on the absurd, since Korea wasn’t a disease-prone environment for soldiers, even though Chinese propaganda falsely accused the Americans of germ warfare.

KOREANS ANGRY, TOO

Many Korean-Canadians are also puzzled at their homeland being depicted as a country rife with venereal disease for Canadian soldiers. In Canada, the Korea Times Daily has run front-page stories of the VD “slur,” and the president’s office in Seoul has reportedly been alerted to it.

Charles Kim, who fought in Korea and served in Vietnam as a battalion commander before taking Canadian citizenship, is a former president of the KVA. He is appalled at the war museum’s insensitivity and thinks Korea’s reputation is being harmed.

I think “insensitivity” is the operative word in the museum’s attitude, both with the VD sign and the torture painting.

‘WARTS AND ALL’

If the museum is interested in VD, surely it should be comparing the rate in Korea with rates in WWI and WWII – though what this has to do with soldiering or war is incidental.

The torture painting is more controversial. While museum officials may feel it shows the horrors of war, “warts and all,” that particular incident has nothing to do with “war.” It has to do with an individual soldier and a young thief. Although an atrocity, it is not soldiering.

More in sadness than anger, retired Col. Chip Bowness wonders at the thinking of the museum, and feels the painting implies that “Canada sends soldiers overseas to murder unarmed black people.” Bowness was military attaché in South Korea, and today is the United Nations’ mine clearance adviser for continental Asia, including Cambodia and Afghanistan.

WWII and Korean veterans who follow the Korea Veterans News are incensed at the museum.

They have a point – which brings us back to the possible insensitivity of those who run the museum. As a group, they seem to have an academic rather than a personal feel for wars and those who fought in them. Today, there are no WWI vets left to protest. Time is taking its toll on WWII vets who are mostly too old to raise hell (with the exception of that aging tiger, Chadderton).

This leaves Korea vets to register disapproval when they think reality is distorted.

Serving soldiers are in a bind. Many resent the torture painting, for which the Friends of the War Museum apparently paid $10,000, and which the custodian of the museum thinks accurately reflects an aspect of war – – which it doesn’t.

Apparently fearful of “glorifying” war, the museum has, in my view, committed a small atrocity against all those who have served and who will serve in the future.

It’s sad that they don’t even see it.

Until this wrong is corrected, the brilliant architectural achievement of the Canadian War Museum remains diminished. Pity.

Mr. Worthington,

Sir — the name “Canadian Soldier Poet” was first given to me 40+ years ago by Mrs. Morrie Edwards. She was a WW2 Bombardier in the British Artillery and she was stationed in London during the Blitz.

She married Murray Edwards, my old boss. Murray was a Sergeant in the Queen’s Own Rifles in WW2, a Captain in the Patricia’s under Jim Stone in Korea and my boss here in Victoria in the mid 70’s.

Morrie loved my military and peacekeeping poems and she called me the “Canadian Soldier Poet” — it kinda stuck and along with the Aussie Bard: Anthony William Pahl OAM, and the Kiwi Kipling: Mike Subritzky, I am known internationally as the Canadian Soldier Poet.

Others, unknown to me, (I think it was Carol Isfeld of Izzy Doll fame) submitted some of my peacekeeping poetry to the IWVPA and I was awarded the “IWVPA Double Tap Award for War Poetry” for the piece about Dallaire: “Some Blue Beret Thoughts and Tears about Rwanda” and I have been tagged with the moniker “Canadian Soldier Poet” ever since. On that International Stage of Cyber Space I have won many poetry awards as the Canadian Soldier Poet and as such, am proud to represent this Great Nation with the IWVPA.

Others are better poets, however, I basically write to please myself, in spite of the fact that now others are keeping track of what I write, and that is mainly because of the internet! I deal with the negative aspects of being a well known Military Poet who is anti Liberal and anti NDP and who is pro support the troops and anti anything that puts down the men and women who served and are serving Canada, ergo the CWM when they tell untrue VD stats, show murder victim paintings and ditz our bomber command heroes.

That is one of the main reasons I enjoy your column so much! Thank you.

Hope you enjoy the Anthology, “Who Will Cry for the Soldiers: Poems of Distant Wars” written by poets from around the globe.

Be Well — Billy

William Willbond
Canadian Soldier Poet
15 July 2007