In hockey-obsessed Canada, it was inevitable that someone would decide to honour hockey players killed in WW1. The Memorial Cup was first awarded in 1919. It will be presented for the 100th time in May 2018. Continue reading
But now, though the War has almost passed from living memory, these men and women are still remembered: For their lives meant more than the War in which they died, and their deaths more than can be known. (Merchant Navy Book of Remembrance, English dedication page)
The First World War Book of Remembrance takes centre stage in the Memorial Chamber in the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill. But it is not the only book in the room in which one can find names of those who fell in WW1. Continue reading
Two books this week, looking at the work of horses in WW1 and after. Both a thoughtful commentary on the relationships between humans and other animals. Neither with a happy ending.
Our Horses in Egypt starts a few years after the war. Englishwoman and war widow Griselda Romney discovers that one of her horses, used by the army during the war, may still be alive. She had thought of Philomena fighting and dying on the Western front. Instead, she learns that the horse had been sent to Egypt. Off she goes to Egypt, daughter and nanny in tow, in search of Philomena.
Author Rosalind Belben alternates the adventures of Griselda and entourage with those of Philomena at war. It makes for an interesting perspective on the hierarchies of Empire. While Griselda certainly benefits from the privileges of her class and race, she can just as easily suffer when she steps out of the boundaries of “suitable” female behaviour. While the humans about her question Griselda’s impulse to find a horse (shouldn’t she be grieving her dead husband and caring for her children instead?), she feels a responsibility to a fellow creature – one of her own. And she may hold her own – the horse – in higher regard than “foreign” humans. Continue reading
It would be easy to miss Holstein, let alone its war memorial. The village stretches for about 500 m on Grey County Rd 109 north of Southgate Rd 12. But the war memorial lists 114 names – those from the village and surrounding township who served overseas, 18 of whom died. Continue reading
Ghosts everywhere. Even the living were only ghosts in the making. You learned to ration your commitment to them. (p 46)
Everyone touched wood, crossed fingers, groped for lucky charms: all the small protective devises of men who have no control over their own fate. (p 147)
Pat Barker’s Regeneration trilogy of WW1 novels have been sitting in my reading pile for years, but always with other books on top of them. The wait has given me the chance to read them in relatively quick succession, interspersed with works by some of the real-life people who feature in them.
The Ghost Road is the last in the trilogy. Regeneration was set in Edinburgh at Craiglockhart Hospital, The Eye in the Door in London and northern England. The Ghost Road moves from London to the Western Front in the last months of the war, with psychiatrist and anthropologist Dr William Rivers and the fictional Billy Prior again in prominent roles. Poet Wilfred Owen (another Craiglockhart patient) returns in a cameo. Continue reading
At the corner of Main St N (County Road 25) and Amaranth St, the centre of the village in Grand Valley, a cenotaph is dedicated “in honoured memory of the men of Grand Valley and East Luther, Amaranth and East Garafraxa Townships who died in the Great War.” It was erected in 1920, and rededicated in 1949 with the addition of side blocks for those killed in WW2. It was spared when a tornado hit the area in May 1985. Continue reading
City Park, a large park just west of downtown Kingston, is home to many monuments that mark the city’s military connections. One park memorial, on Stuart St near Barrie St, is dedicated “to the glory of God and in loving memory of all who gave their lives and served with the Royal Canadian Air Force and Commonwealth Air Forces.”
It was erected by the 416 Wing of the Royal Canadian Air Force Association. City records indicate that it dates from around 1967. The epitaph – “they have slipped the surly bonds of earth” – is the first line of High Flight, a poem by American WW2 pilot John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
Air combat was a new technology in WW1. Pilots could count their life expectancy in minutes, days or weeks. Half were killed in training.
Near the RCAF memorial, two oak trees are dedicated to “Grieving the tragedy of war, committed to the promise of peace.” One peace tree is about 100 years old. The other was planted on 21 September 2013, the UN International Day of Peace. A visit in any season but winter would show the peace trees to greater advantage.
PeaceQuest has recently published a WW1 walking tour of Kingston. You can find the podcast and map here.
Thanks to Vicki, host, driver, guide and chief snow clearer on the Kingston tour.
Welcome to more new followers who have joined this journey. I look forward to your comments.
Linda J. Quiney’s This Small Army of Women, tracing the Canadian and Newfoundland volunteer nurses in WW1, is part of a growing scholarship on the role of medical women in the war. (Readers will know this is a particular interest of mine.) Linda is a historian and retired lecturer and serves as an affiliate with the Consortium for Nursing History Inquiry at the University of British Columbia. She has kindly agreed to discuss her work today with Great War 100 Reads.
What first interested you in VADs from Canada and Newfoundland?
Linda J. Quiney: It was more of a happy accident than an intentional undertaking. I was considering a research topic on women in the Second World War when a colleague mentioned a photograph she had discovered while researching a First World War topic. The image depicted a woman wearing a St. John Ambulance VAD dress uniform, but offered no clue to her identity or what her uniform represented. I had read Testament of Youth years before, Vera Brittain’s romantic journal of her wartime experience as a British Red Cross VAD nurse, but I had no idea there had been a Canadian or Newfoundland equivalent under the auspices of St. John. The mystery led me to St. John Ambulance headquarters in Ottawa, but the preliminary research was limited. I was close to abandoning it until the “eureka” moment, when a box of random records unexpectedly revealed a list of more than 300 Canadian women who had been posted overseas as St. John Ambulance VAD nurses during the war.
It gradually became clear that the VAD program had been a unique undertaking, far different from any other form of Canadian women’s patriotic work. Most intriguing for me was that it was almost invisible within the larger historical record of the war, a history waiting to be written. Continue reading
Fort Wellington looks out over the St Lawrence River in Prescott, Ontario, a reminder of the lines of defence built during the War of 1812. In the park that now surrounds the fort, at the corner of Vankoughnet St and King Street East (Highway 2), a cenotaph stands to those from Prescott killed in WW1 and WW2. The cenotaph was moved here from its original location on Dibble St in 2001.
Another WW1 marker, at the corner of Water St W and Edward St S, honours William FN Sharpe. Sharpe has the distinction of being one of Canada’s first WW1 pilots and its first air casualty of the war. He died in a flying accident on February 4, 1915. Continue reading
I’m alternating my reading of the Regeneration trilogy with books by some of Pat Barker’s real-life protagonists. Robert Graves shows up in Regeneration, getting Siegfried Sassoon before a medical board and then to Craiglockhart War Hospital after Sassoon published his declaration against the war. Both were officers in the Royal Welch Fusiliers.
Goodbye to All That is Graves’ account of events – his childhood and prep school days, his war experiences, his early career and first marriage in the few years afterwards. Well … one version of his account of events. First published in 1929, Graves made extensive revisions for the 1957 re-publication. And yes, memories can change with circumstances. More about that later. Continue reading