I recently attended a lecture by historian Tim Cook on the legacy of Vimy, held at McGill. One thing that Dr. Cook mentioned was how closely entwined McGill’s history is with that the First World War, and how many buildings, plaques, and windows can be found around the campus that make reference to those from […]
In the second book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, “The Two Towers”, Frodo and Gollum pass through the Dead Marshes where, “The only green was the scum of livid weed on the dark greasy milky surfaces of the sullen waters. Dead grasses and rotting reeds loomed up in the mists like ragged shadows […]
We’re headed to Vimy in France this week for the centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Before the centenary, I wanted to take an opportunity to write about an often-forgotten story of the fighting around Vimy before the Canadian Corps attack on 9 April – Major-General David Watson’s raid on 1 March, 1917.
The tank was one of the many modern weapons to come out of the First World War. “Landships”, as they were originally known, had existed in British speculative fiction for some time in the later portion of the 19th century; indeed, H.G. Wells had written about an armoured fighting vehicle shortly before the war.
The market for commemorative collectables was a large one during World War One, with many manufacturers and artists producing patriotic items for mass market sale. Among these were commemorative medallions for events during the war. The French produced a wide range of souvenirs marking their victory at Verdun, and post-war, most of the Allies manufactured medallions […]
From our library today, a plate from a small photographic history of the 67th “Western Scots” Battalion, 4th Divisional Pioneers. In sharp contrast to their compatriots, the members of the Scout and Sniper Section are not wearing their military best. In fact, most of them are dressed to “match-in”, including the individual in the back […]
Like the Victorian armies in Britain in the 19th century, officers of the British and Imperial armies, including the Canadian Expeditionary Force, were expected to be able to fund their own lifestyle. Until the First World War, most officers came from the upper middle class and were already well connected within the army, usually receiving […]
There were few official telegram messages worse than “Killed in Action” during the First World War; however, one of those had to be “Missing in Action”. Roughly 5 000 soldiers of Canada’s total fatal casualties are listed as “presumed to have died”; many more were initially listed as KIA and even possibly buried, but their […]
The Great War is known as one of the first mass industrial conflicts, and set the tone for warfare in the twentieth century. Traditional cavalry unites became obsolete and as the conflict settled into a static front in the west it became a war of matériel; one that focused on causing so much loss of […]
The length and static nature of World War I made it in some ways like going to camp; a very dirty, dangerous camp, but one that demanded men to live outside in all sorts of weather. As units settled in their patch of front and men claimed small dugouts (and in some cases pilfered furniture), […]