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:
- The most comprehensive online source of information on Canadian war memorials in 2014 was a rudimentary photo database hosted by CDLI, not updated since 2000 due to lost funding. Veterans Affairs Canada now hosts a growing Canadian Military Memorials Database. They welcome new submissions and corrections. Great War 100 Reads is pleased to contribute.
- Library and Archives Canada had just started to digitize the WW1 service records in 2014. That colossal exercise – over 10,000 boxes of records – was completed in 2018. Personnel Records of the First World War
- Circumstances of Death records are published by Library and Archives Canada and Ancestry.ca. Free on the former, easier to search on the latter. Good source unless the name starts with Sip to Z … those volumes have disappeared. (As an aside, your local library may offer free access to Ancestry.)
- Veterans Affairs Canada publishes the Canadian Virtual War Memorial, cross-referenced to the Books of Remembrance. Another dynamic database, enriched with contributions by family members and regimental history projects.
- The Library and Archives Canada blog often explores WW1 themes and tells the stories of Victoria Cross recipients.
Despite the improvements, some of my hunts are still thwarted by scarce information and a dearth of reliable sources.
As living memory of WW1 fades, collective memory must be nurtured to stay alive and pass to future generations. I hope Great War 100 Reads will continue to contribute to that collective memory. You can help too. Especially now, when COVID-19 restrictions are putting a kibosh on vacation travel plans.
- Send digital photos to Veterans Affairs Canada, to keep expanding the Canadian Military Memorials Database and the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.
- Do some fact-checking to make the information on those sites more accurate.
- Contribute to databases like Find-a-Grave (owned by Ancestry) or BillionGraves. The latter has lots of ideas for how you can volunteer and even age-specific learning ideas.
Where to next for Great War 100 Reads? While WW1 is no longer the exclusive topic of my leisure reading, it keeps sneaking in. Living through the current pandemic has given me an urge to read about the influenza pandemic of 100 years ago. I will share a few book reviews soon. Monday Monuments and Memorials will remain as a regular but less frequent feature. Watch for it a couple times each month.
The title of this post is taken from a song by Fred C Weatherly, lawyer and lyricist best known for Danny Boy. Written before WW1, it became a touching appeal from those killed short years after.
Bring pansies for your thoughts, dear heart
Bring lilies for your tears
And lay them where I lie apart
Through all the endless years.
And sometimes come and say my name
On heeding blame or praise
Or dreaming of a melody
Of all our happy days.
Bring roses if you will, for love
And one small bunch of rue
And on my heart lay rosemary
To speak to me of you.
Lyrics by Fred C Weatherly. Music by Lady Arthur Hill (Annie Fortescue Harrison). Song for one low voice and piano. Chappell & Co, 1908.