Canadian Military History on Armed Forces Day

Donnie Rosie

Today is Armed Forces Day.  Canada’s Armed Forces Day isn’t a public holiday, although there are parades and fly-bys where there are military bases.

There is not a lot of commonly-known history about the Canadian military, and as a new Canadian, I’m still catching up on it.  There is waaay more movies and TV series dealing with US military exploits, and there’s even a decent sized body of British military achievements in both fiction and documentaries.

I suspect that anyone who isn’t Canadian or a Canadaphile is probably more aware of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police than they are of our military.

So I was very pleasantly surprised when Mark and I dipped into a new-to-us series on Netflix.

X-Company is a historical thriller series, set during WWII, mostly in France, featuring the exploits of a Canadian military intelligence unit working undercover with the Resistance.  They’re directed by a military post called X Company, located in Ontario.

The X Company base was a real operation.  It directed undercover and intelligence work during the war, with British liaisons and some American input, too, although as America didn’t get into the war until 1942, their contributions came later.

The X-Company TV series is based upon fact and when you consider that, it’s frightening, for the storyline is a hold-your-breath break-neck paced knot of plots and counter-plots, strategy, spies, betrayal and more.  They don’t pull any punches, either.  People die, as they did in the war.

The show is a Canadian production, too, but we didn’t realize that until we were a few episode in and started researching the show.  There are ten episodes per season and only three seasons for, as the producers explained, the story was done after three seasons.  Continuing would have meant distorting the characters and creating more of the same.  So they stopped there, and rested on their well-deserved laurels.

The character-building in this show is fantastic.  Even better, the women characters are not codas or pretty set props.  They have real, hard-core roles to play that have a significant effect on the story-line.  They don’t pull their punches, either.

The most interesting character in the earlier episodes of the show is Alfred, played by British actor Jack Laskey, followed closely by the baby-faced Harry.  As we move through the third and last season, though, I’m finding Franz Faber, the SS Officer played by German actor Torben Liebrecht, far more interesting.  I can’t say why without spoilers, but I will add that he’s a tortured soul.  Liebrecht won an award for this role and it was well deserved.

Unfortunately, the poster for the series makes the cast look like teenagers, which is off-putting if you don’t like lightweight YA.  I avoided the show for a long time because of it.  When we did finally try an episode, we were immediately hooked, which doesn’t happen often.  Give it a try.  The show is available everywhere.

And as you watch, remember that this show was based on fact.  Stories like this actually happened, including the Battle of Dieppe disaster for Canadian military on the beaches of Dieppe in 1942.


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Tracy Cooper-Posey
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