The Rats in the Walls: The Role of Rodents on the Western Front

Mud-filled warrens littered with dung, detritus, and the dead may sound like a less than hospitable environment, but to the myriad millions that scurried along the trenches of the Western Front, these very conditions provided the fuel for explosive individual and population growth. Of course, I’m not talking about the soldiers that suffered in the […]

The New Normal: Gas-Etiquette and the Canadian Expeditionary Force

Two soldiers wearing gas masks examining a Lee Enfield rifle

The face of war changed forever when, on April 22nd, 1915, the Germans threw caution—and roughly 150 tons of chlorine—to the wind, gassing two French Colonial divisions along the Ypres front. Since then, the Great War has become inextricably linked to ominously coloured and suffocating gas clouds. Equally iconic are the ghoulish masks designed to […]

The Spirit of our Troops: Rum Rationing as an ‘Essential Service’ on the Western Front

comic of a soldier drinking from a jug with his gun leaning on sandbags

As all non-essential activities grind to a halt in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, one of the things carefully kept on the essential side of society has been liquor stores across the country. Officially, this limits alcoholism-related withdrawal and the resultant stresses that could cause to an already strained healthcare system. However, alcohol is also […]

Private Harry W Brown, Canada’s own 1917 Hero

Private Harry W Brown

The war film, 1917, has received rave reviews from critics and audiences for its honest but unique portrayal of World War I. The film centers around two young British soldiers who are tasked with a daunting mission: run across No Man’s Land, dodge heavy fire and evade booby-trapped trenches to hand-deliver a message that will save […]

The Drill Rifle: Training Recruits in the CEF

When the war broke out in August 1914, Canada only held 16,796 rifles on hand. [1] As Canadians rushed to recruiting stations in staggering numbers to enlist, the Department of Militia and Defence was confronted with the overwhelming challenge of training new recruits without a sufficient amount of rifles. In response, CEF units in Canada […]