The New Pioneer: How Soldiers Kept Their Buttons Polished

Soldiers were expected to carry a lot of equipment with them while on the Front line. From a gas mask to an extra pair of socks, soldiers were prepared for the rapid changes demanded by modern warfare. Lesser-known to many, however, soldiers also carried a brass button polishing guard. Made of a thin sheet of […]

Wholesome entertainments: The YMCA in the First World War

The First World War period in Canada, an across the British Empire, saw an unprecedented amount of activity by charitable organisations towards the war effort. Groups like the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire (IODE), and the Red Cross raised millions of dollars for medical supplies and for the care of prisoners of […]

“Fake News’’: A World War I Phenomenon

After the American election last fall, we all came into contact with a seemingly new trend; fake news. It felt like it was everywhere, the internet was full of contradictory headlines and newspapers struggled to keep up. An article presented as fact one hour was debunked the next, and we suddenly had to come to […]

But who are you? A quick course in Canadian patches from the First World War

One of the challenges of mobilising thousands of soldiers is telling them apart. Unlike the eye-catching uniforms of the 19th century, most armies during the First World War employed a uniform that matched more easily into the surrounding landscape. By the end of the war even the highland units were using a form khaki battledress […]

A Propaganda Victory: The Lusitania Medallion

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 […]

Dressing the part: The CEF officer in World War I

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 […]

Flimsies: The Re-used Water Cans of the First World War

The First World War might not be the first thing that leaps to mind when thinking about efficient re-purposing of materials; the Iron Harvest in France is evidence enough of that. However, often all sorts of items and containers were scavenged for re-use on the Front.