Share your family history

Canada’s History magazine is calling for scanned letters, photos and memorabilia from relatives of those who served during the war, including the many women who helped win the war on the homefront as well as overseas. Do you have family connections to share?

Here’s the link:

McMaster University Libraries has a fascinating post about a series of leaflets written to encourage British and Canadian women to take an active role in fighting the war.


In Memorium

The Graveyard Detective has an interesting post here with pictures of a memorial card created by someone who visited the St. Julian battlefield in 1934. It’s a very moving artifact.

A 78 r.p.m. interlude

Simon Rees, blogging at Historical Eye, dedicates his World War I posts to his great-grandfather Alf Adams, who was a machine gunner and was killed in 1917 in the Gavrelle-Oppy sector, near Vimy. Before the war, Adams had a record company that produced 78 r.p.m. records.

At one of his other blogs, Simon links to a recording produced by the Coliseum Record Co. Listen to this:

To read more about British recording companies of the era, click:

Here’s the link to Simon’s posts about his great-grandfather:


“Oppy Wood, 1917,” by John Nash. Imperial War Museum.

July 1, 1916: Newfoundland

Fellow blogger Medic says:

“The battle of the Somme was a turning point in Newfoundland history. At the time the Canadian province of Newfoundland was a British colony. The Newfoundland Regiment lost many men that day that even today, July 1st is Canada Day but also Remembrance Day in Newfoundland.”


Facebook friend Somme Battle’s photo of the Newfoundland Caribou and Memorial to the Missing in Newfoundland Park, Beaumont Hamel, Somme.

Musical interlude!

In a discussion about Private Clancy of the CEF, who was briefly boosted from private to lance corporal, blogger Medic wrote:

Sometime soldiers were sent on course or permission for a few days or a few weeks, so they needed to be replaced if they were in charge of a group. Also it was not everyone who wanted or liked the promotion. The sergeant had to run from one shell hole to the other, much exposing themselves to enemy fire, many soldiers preferred to stay with the rank of private.

It made me think of this song:

What to wear, what to wear

Fiona Robinson, blogging as Ghosts of 1914, has a great post about khaki and why the troops didn’t actually wear the same color.

Not that the lice were troubled by the variations…

Are these Canadian sappers wearing khaki, or is that just plain brown? The fellow in blue is a French soldier.

Celebrating Vimy Ridge

Here’s our tribute to the Canadians who conquered Vimy Ridge on this day in 1917.

Photos taken and posted on Flickr by Walker.

Detail from the Vimy Ridge Memorial. Text by Walker:

As you walk to the front of the monument, you will see one of its central figures – a woman, cloaked and hooded, facing eastward toward the new day. Her eyes are cast down and her chin is resting on her hand. Below her is a tomb, draped in laurel branches and bearing a helmet. This saddened figure represents Canada – a young nation mourning her fallen sons. This figure was carved from a single, 30-tonne block of stone – the largest piece in the monument.

The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is open to the public all year and is free of charge.

Week 5: “Mopping Up! With the PPCLI”

The first thing to know about “Mopping Up! With the PPCLI” might be the one thing that turns you off:

It was written by a dog.

Bobbie Burns was a collie belonging to Lt. Jack Munroe of the Princess Pats. Bobbie was a regimental mascot who, though he remained behind the lines, manages to recount his master’s adventures, from the declaration of war that took the two out of their northwoods home in Ontario and the discharge from hospital that let them return.

Spoiler: It’s not the dog that gets hurt.

The conceit is whimsical and the writing effusive in the extreme, but it’s also a clear account of what the Pats did, where they went and the intensity of the battles they faced. I would read this alongside Agar Adamson’s letters — editor Norm Christie gives context to Bobbie’s account and explains who the players are as they come up in the narrative.

Here’s a sample of the writing:

“It was such an upheaval as must occur when, through a convulsion of nature, new lands, vomited from the deeps, are thrown upward above raging waters.”

This goes on for three pages. I have never read a more evocative description of bombardment from the point of view of the defenders.

“Mopping Up!” is a wonderful memoir, even though it is extremely biased against the Hun and in favor of Canada, Canada, Canada. And even though it’s written by a dog.