The Cold War
During the Cold War, Canada was one of those countries which might have been a target for a potential preemptive nuclear strike by the Soviet Union.
The Cold War
In the aftermath of the Second World War, a high stakes war of nerves began between the Soviet Union and the "West". Each had radically different views of the world and the political systems needed to manage it.
Along with managing tension points around the world, both sides developed sophisticated nuclear weapons, delivery devices and early warning systems. The best defence was MAD, the psychological weapon of Mutually Assured Destruction should either side attempt a pre-emptive strike.
NATO forces were on constant standby, both in Europe and in North America, especially Canada, as any attack was expected to come from over the northern polar region. Canada had to be ready to scramble air defence forces with no advance warning, which meant that communications systems had to be very rapid and very secure.
The North American Air Defence system (NORAD) included a fleet of nuclear equipped B-52 aircraft constantly aloft to enable rapid response, plus squadrons of fighter planes, ready to attack Soviet bombers.
For the senior Canadian Air Force officer who had to give the order to scramble, command and control of incoming intelligence and the airborne bomber fleet was a round-the-clock "24/7" job. Sometimes, the commanders needed a break, but their phones followed them everywhere, even to the golf course.
From 1964 to 1968, Brigadier General William (Buck) Newson was Commander of the North American Radar Air Defense (NORAD) 36th Division in Topsham, Maine. There, he was responsible for the air defense of the northeastern approaches to North America. He was the first Canadian to command a NORAD base on American soil.
BGen William Newson, DSO, DFC and Bar, CD, was one of Canada's most outstanding bomber pilots of the Second World War. He held numerous senior staff and command appointments in Canada, USA and overseas after the war until he retired from the Forces in 1971. He was inducted into the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame in 1984.
The panel shows BGen Bill Newson playing golf on a quiet summer Sunday morning, when his emergency phone rings. In fact, the phone had never rung, except during practice exercises and this time, it was his wife playing a joke on him during his last week on the job. "Please bring home some milk and a loaf of bread," she said.