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 […]

Fighting Words: Canadian War Poets

The First World War produced many war poets, particularly those writing in English; Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, and Edmund Blunden all come to mind. In the Canadian context, there is a clear favourite for most well known – John McCrae, the author of “In Flanders Fields”. However, there were other less well known or less […]

Hill 70: Our Forgotten Battle

August 15th marked the centenary of the Battle of Hill 70, the Canadian Corps’ next large engagement after their success at Vimy Ridge in April 1917, and their second victory of the year. It is also distinct in that it was the first Canadian battle planned exclusively by Arthur Currie, now the commander of the […]

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 […]

“The Dead Marshes”: The Post-War Landscape of France and Flanders

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 […]

The Raid: Fighting around Vimy Ridge, March 1917

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. 

1918: Moreuil Wood

We’ve got something special today on the blog. The Corps Historian of the Canadian Armoured Corps, Michael McNorgan, has written an article shedding light on a battle that not enough Canadians know about – The Battle of Moreuil Wood, fought 99 years ago on 30 March 1918.  

"Through mud and blood": The Development of Tank Corps in WW I

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.