Monday, September 26, 2016

Filip Konowal - Victoria Cross

Excerpt on “Acting Corporal Filip Konowal - For Valour”, from the Hill 70 sponsored book “The Lads in Their Hundreds”

At 4:35 am on August 21, 1917, the soldiers of three infantry battalions of the 10th Canadian Brigade moved out of their trenches beneath a tremendous barrage fired by the artillery, and headed into the western outskirts of Lens. The battle for Lens was underway. The battalions in the 10th Brigade drew their manpower from the western provinces. At least one soldier, however, had come from much further.

Acting Corporal Filip Konowal of the 47th Battalion was in command of an infantry section of about a dozen men. Konowal was of Ukrainian descent. He wasn’t a large man – only five and a half feet tall – but he was fit and very strong. Like so many other men in eastern Ukraine, he had been drafted into the Imperial Russian Army in 1908. Konowal was an instructor in bayonet fighting and hand-to-hand combat in the Russian Army. After five years of service, he was honourably discharged and, in 1913, travelled all the way across Russia to the Pacific Coast. From there, he immigrated to Canada, landing in Vancouver and putting his immense strength to use as a lumberjack.

A huge number of Ukrainians immigrated to Canada during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and close to 95 percent of them came from western Ukraine in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. At the outbreak of war, Ukrainians in Canada were treated with suspicion because so many came from Austria, one of the Central Powers against whom Canada was fighting. Close to 70,000 Ukrainians were forced to register as “enemy aliens” in Canada, and several thousand were interned across the country. If he had been born a few kilometers to the west of his home in Kutkivtsi, Konowal might have been interned as well, but he was a citizen of Russia, one of Canada’s allies.

Konowal was quiet and fierce. He was quickly made lance corporal and then, just prior to the attack on Vimy Ridge, an acting corporal. He spoke little, as his English was still not strong, and he preferred to lead by example.

On August 21, Konowal led his section into the fight of their lives in the streets of western Lens, so pock-marked by artillery bombardment that it was hardly recognizable as a place where people once lived. The objective for the 47th Battalion was so blasted by Canadian artillery and so saturated with Canadian chemical weapons that nothing could remain alive on the surface. However, the German networks of tunnels ran through their outposts in Lens, and a great deal of fighting in tight spaces would be required before they could be dislodged.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Dzherelo Children's Rehabilitation Centre in Lviv

On October 16, 2016 Scotia Bank will hold its annual Toronto Waterfront Marathon and Charity Challenge.
This year, once again, one of the registered charities is the Dzherelo Children's Rehabilitation Centre in Lviv, Ukraine.

Please support the CCCF-Friends of Dzherelo volunteers who will be walking 5km for this wonderful cause and consider donating to Dzherelo as described below.
Also, please forward this appeal to your friends and contacts.

Presently the people of Ukraine are living a very difficult time - standing up for independence, democracy and human dignity for all, including the weakest, most dependent and vulnerable members of society. 

DZHERELO Rehab Centre in Lviv, enables children with special needs to receive necessary rehabilitation and education, enjoy friendships with peers and develop their fullest potential as visible, functioning members of society.
DZHERELO is a non-profit, charitable facility and model for Ukraine which welcomes up to 150 children and youth daily to its various programs. Since 1993, over 4000 children and their families have received support and quality services at the Centre.

Please support the great work of DZHERELO. 
Become a friend and benefactor of DZHERELO – bring hope and joy to disabled children in Ukraine.

All donations of $20 and more will receive a charitable donation receipt for tax deduction purposes.

To make a donation, please control+click on the link below.

Thank you for your solidarity and generous support!  Щиро дякую!

Chrystia Kolos