Great War 100 Reads

Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Canadian National Railway Employees, Ottawa, ON

It’s Labour Day in Canada and the US … a day to celebrate workers.

The Canadian National Railway was formed in the years immediately following WW1, as the Canadian government took over smaller rail companies facing bankruptcy. CNR employees who had served in the war – many in the Canadian Railway Troops – formed the CNR War Veterans Association.

On Sunday 8 November 1953, a memorial plaque to honour the war dead was unveiled at Union Station in Ottawa:  Continue reading

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Battle of Hill 70 Memorial, Mountain, ON

Between 15 and 25 August 1917, the divisions of the Canadian corps captured and held Hill 70, a defensive position near Lens that had been held by the German Army since October 1914. While the April 1917 offensive at Vimy Ridge was the first time the Canadians fought together, Hill 70 was the first time they did so under Canadian command, that of Lt-Gen Arthur Currie.

The victory came at a high price. Over 9,000 Canadians were killed or wounded, as were an estimated 25,000 Germans. Six Canadians were awarded the Victoria Cross.

Yet the battle remains in the shadow of Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele, little known in Canada. Until the dedication of Hill 70 Memorial Park near Lens in 2017, a memorial in a park at 10480 Clark Rd in the village of Mountain (near Ottawa) was the only monument to the battle. Continue reading

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Memorial Park and War Memorial, Baie-Egmont, PEI


This Saturday (15 August) is National Acadian Day (Journée de la fête nationale des Acadiens) in Canada, honouring the history and culture of the descendants of French colonists who settled in Acadia in the 17th and 18th centuries.

After WW1, parishioners in Baie-Egmont (Egmont Bay), Route 11, Prince Edward Island erected a war memorial in front of Saint-Philippe-et-Saint-Jacques Catholic Church. When exactly? I can find no record. Perhaps when the fourth church on the site opened in 1923? Continue reading

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A Divided Loyalty

Several WW1-related mystery series are on the Great War 100 Reads book list, but only one title is amongst the first 100 books I read and reviewed here: A Test of Wills is the first in the Inspector Ian Rutledge series by Charles Todd (actually the mother-and-son team of Caroline and Charles Todd). Delving into the mysteries was a bit of a risk – with several books in each series, they could have take over my reading.

Then this spring, I saw the latest Rutledge mystery, A Divided Loyalty. It’s set in Avebury. I could not resist being drawn into the prehistoric henge and stone circle. Continue reading

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Rosemary, for Remembrance

Happy anniversary to Great War 100 Reads! My modest project is now six years old. Longer than the war itself, not nearly as long as the war’s reach. After all, remembering is not just for milestone years.

The monuments have taken over now that my leisure reading is no longer exclusively about WW1. In some ways, researching the monuments and those they honour is easier now. The centenary gave a reason to gather and publish official and unofficial documentation. Some Canadian examples online: Continue reading

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Menin Gate replica, Ieper (Ypres), Belgium

The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing names 54,389 Commonwealth soldiers (Australian, British, Canadian, Indian and South African) who were killed in the Ypres Salient before 16 August 1917 and who have no known grave.

In 2010, a scale model in the Menin Gate Memorial was unveiled on the ramparts near the monument, a gift of the Kiwanis Ieper Vlakke Land. Visitors (especially those with sight impairments) can touch the bronze replica to feel the overall design of the monument. You can see one of the braille plaques that gives more information. Continue reading

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Menin Gate, Ieper (Ypres), Belgium

The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing is one of four memorials to Commonwealth soldiers killed on the battlefield in the Ypres Salient and who have no known grave. The memorial names 54,389 officers and men from Australian, British, Canadian, Indian and South African Forces who fell in the Salient before 16 August 1917. (New Zealand and Newfoundland are memorialized elsewhere.) Continue reading


Monday Monuments and Memorials – Monument de la reconnaissance nationale belge, Paris, France

Belgium’s gratitude to France in WW1 is marked by a monument in Place de la Reine-Astrid, a grassy triangular park in the 8th arrondissement near the Pont de l’Alma. The statue was unveiled on 14 July 1923, on the occasion of France’s national holiday. Continue reading

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Memorial South Park and Cenotaph, Vancouver

Memorial South Park is bound by E 41st Ave, Ross St, E 45th Ave and Prince Albert St, not far from Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver’s Sunset neighbourhood. A tree-lined boulevard from E 41st leads to a granite cenotaph in the centre of the active park. Continue reading

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Colonel Walter F Rendell, Royal Newfoundland Regiment, St John’s NL

July 1 is Memorial Day in Newfoundland and Labrador, a solemn day of remembrance of the single greatest disaster in Newfoundland history. At Beaumont-Hamel, the Newfoundland Regiment was virtually wiped out in half an hour on the first morning of the Somme Offensive, July 1, 1916. All the officers were killed or wounded. On one of the bloodiest days of the war, only one other battalion had a higher casualty rate.

And what of those who served and returned? Each soldier tells a story. Continue reading