Great War 100 Reads

Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Memorial Plaque, Mount Royal Club, Montreal

The Mount Royal Club is a private club at 1175 Sherbrooke St W in Montreal. In the staircase, a bronze plaque memorializes 15 men who died in WW1 – one assumes Club members or their sons.

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Hugh McDonald McKenzie, VC DCM, Menin Gate, Ypres

Every soldier tells a story.

Hugh McDonald McKenzie was born to Jane and James McDonald McKenzie in Liverpool, England on 5 December 1885. He moved with his family to Inverness, Scotland (which he listed as his birthplace on his attestation papers) and immigrated to Montreal, Quebec in 1911, where he worked as a teamster. Marjory McGuigan followed him to Canada and they were married in 1912.

He attested in August 1914 with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and sailed for Europe in December. Over time he rose in rank from private to second lieutenant.

In March 1916, McKenzie was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal (as well as the Croix de Guerre) for conspicuous gallantry: Continue reading

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, Ottawa

Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry is a Regular Force infantry regiment of the Canadian Army of the Canadian Armed Forces. Now based in Edmonton, it is seen as a Western Canada regiment. Ottawa was its birthplace, though, 105 years ago.

At the outbreak of WW1 in August 1914, Hamilton Gault offered $100,000 to the Canadian government to finance and equip a battalion. The Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, Governor General, gave permission to name the regiment for his daughter, Princess Patricia of Connaught. It was the first Canadian infantry unit to take its place in the trenches.

Two public monuments in Ottawa mark the PPCLI connection to this city. Continue reading

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Memorial Windows, City Hall, Kingston, ON … Part 2

A formal assembly room in Kingston City Hall was renamed Memorial Hall in 1921 by Governor General Lord Byng “in everlasting remembrance of those from this city who fought in defence of justice and liberty” and “in honour of Kingston’s sailors, soldiers, airmen and nursing sisters who served overseas.”

This is the second post about the memorial windows … these six windows are on the west wall, to the left as you enter Memorial Hall. Quotations are from the program for the 1921 event. Continue reading

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – The Volunteer, Almonte, ON

The Volunteer is a tribute to 48 men of Almonte and area who were killed in WW1, as well as a tribute to an individual soldier.

Alexander Rosamond was heir to the prosperous Rosamond Woollen Company, a textile mill in Almonte. He happened to be in the UK on business in August 1914, and enlisted in the British army. In June 1915, he was granted a commission in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and joined the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLIs) in February 1916. He was killed at the Battle of Courcelette on September 15, 1916, aged 43. He has no known grave and his name is on the Vimy Memorial. He left behind his wife Mary and four daughters. Continue reading

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Three to a Loaf, A Novel of the Great War

More spies.

In Three to a Loaf, 80-something Rory Ferrall recounts his adventures in WW1. In 1915, he was a Canadian university student living in Montreal with his British father and German mother. He joined the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, trained as a junior officer, headed to England and on to the Western Front, and was injured at Ypres … one of 1000s of young men who followed the same path as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

But there Ferrall’s story veers from the usual path. While recovering in a British hospital, his fluent German brings him to the attention of British military intelligence. He assumes the identity of Alex Baumann, a captured German-American officer, and infiltrates the German General Staff to learn their secret plans. Continue reading