Great War 100 Reads

Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Unveiling Vimy Ridge Monument, Canadian War Museum, Ottawa

April 9-12 marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, part of the Battle of Arras. On a snowy Easter Monday in 1917, the four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought together for the first (and only) time. Training and tactics won the ridge, but at the cost of about 3,600 Canadian lives.

Vimy Ridge is an important site of Canadian remembrance: a 250-acre park on the former battleground is the site of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. The monument commemorates Canadian WW1 soldiers killed or presumed dead in France who have no known grave. Continue reading


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Vimy

With the centenary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge fast approaching, it seemed to be a good time to delve into Vimy, Pierre Berton’s popular account of the Canadian exploits to capture a strategic spot on the Western Front.

Berton set out “to tell not just what happened but also what it was like.” (Author’s note, p 313) He interviewed survivors and combed through old diaries, memoirs, letters, newspaper accounts and oral histories. The result is a lively account of Easter Monday, 9 April 1917 – when the four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought together for the first (and only) time – the events leading to it and the mopping up afterwards. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Canadian Soldier Honouring the Fallen, Soldiers’ Tower, Toronto

April 9-12 marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, part of the Battle of Arras. On a snowy Easter Monday in 1917, the four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought together for the first (and only) time. Training and tactics won the ridge, but at the cost of about 3,600 Canadian lives. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – The Ghosts of Vimy Ridge, Parliament Buildings, Ottawa

April 9 is a national day of remembrance in Canada marking the anniversary of the 1917 Battle of Vimy Ridge. The battle was the first time in WW1 when all four Canadian divisions fought as a united group. The victory is seen by many as a defining moment of Canadian national identity. The ridge is the site of Canada’s largest WW1 monument in France. Continue reading


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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Canadian Machine Gun Corps, Chateau Laurier, Ottawa

CANADIAN MACHINE GUN CORPS

Commanded by Brig Gen R. Brutinel CB CMG DSO

In memory of the members of the Canadian Machine Gun Corps who died in active service and in honour of those who served 1914 – 1919

In the Chateau Laurier the Canadian Machine Gun Corps had its beginning. Here, in August 1914, Major Raymond Brutinel enrolled the first recruits for the Corps.

These memorial plaques hang in the Chateau Laurier Hotel, in the corridor leading from the elevator lobby to the meeting rooms and parking garage. The bas reliefs are a bust of Brutinel and of the Canadian Machine Guns on Vimy Ridge. 

It was actually the Automobile Machine Gun Brigade No 1, later the 1st Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigade, that Brutinel started in 1914. It is believed to be the first motorized armoured unit formed by any country during the war. The various machine gun brigades formed the Canadian Machine Gun Corps in March 1918.

Cameron Pulsifer’s article Canada’s First Armoured Unit: Raymond Brutinel and the Canadian Motor Machine Gun Brigades of the First World War (Canadian Military History: Vol. 10: Iss. 1, Article 5) is worth a look for more history and some great photos.

 

I’m looking forward to The Great War Tour, a four-part documentary with historian Norm Christie. Starts tonight (6 Apr) on TVO. Starts 18 May on the Knowledge Network.