In this exciting new work, Andrew Iarocci challenges the dominant view that the 1st Canadian Division was poorly prepared for war in 1914, and less than effective during battles in 1915. He examines the first generations of men to serve overseas with the division: their training, leadership, morale, and combat operations from Salisbury Plain to the Ypres Salient, from the La Bassée Canal to Ploegsteert Wood. Iarocci contends that setbacks and high losses in battle were not so much the products of poor training and weak leadership as they were of inadequate material resources on the Western Front.
Shoestring Soldiers incorporates a wealth of research material from official documents, soldiers' letters and diaries, and the battlefields themselves, surveyed extensively by the author. It marks an important contribution to the growing body of literature on Canada in the First World War.
In early 1915, the death of a young friend on the battlefields of Ypres inspired Canadian soldier, field surgeon and poet John McCrae to write "In Flanders Fields." Within months of the poem's December 1915 publication in the British magazine Punch it became part of the collective consciousness in North America and Europe, and its extraordinary power has endured over the decades and across generations. In this anthology, Canada's finest historians, novelists and poets contemplate the evolving meaning of the poem; the man who wrote it and the World War I setting from which it emerged; its themes of valour, grief and remembrance; and the iconic image of the poppy.
Among the thirteen contributors: Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire (ret'd) writes about the emotional meaning of the poem for war veterans; Tim Cook describes the rich and varied life of McCrae; Frances Itani revisits her time in Flanders, and mines the acts of witnessing and remembering; Kevin Patterson offers a riveting depiction of the adrenaline-fueled work of a WWI field surgeon; Mary Janigan reveals the poem's surprisingly divisive effect during the 1917 federal election; Ken Dryden tells us how lines from the poem ended up on the wall of the Montreal Canadiens' dressing room; and Patrick Lane recalls a Remembrance Day from his childhood in a moving reflection on how war shapes us all.
Gorgeously designed in full colour with archival and contemporary images, In Flanders Fields: 100 Years will reflect and illuminate the importance of art in how we process war and loss.
Though he died in 1921, his name can still conjure up controversy and not a little misunderstanding. His long career—in so many respects the quintessential story of a poor backwoods Ontario farm boy who made good by his own efforts—continues to exert a fascination that few other Canadian political figures could duplicate.
Even though there has never been a major scholarly study of Sam Hughes, historians and other writers have developed definite opinions about him, and they are held nearly as vigorously as those of his contemporaries. These vary from insisting that Hughes was mentally unbalanced to proclaiming him a genius. Hughes’ defenders have rarely been professional historians. Neither side have not produced an extensive or definitive literature on Hughes in proportion to other figures of a similar public stature.
Whatever side the studies have taken, the assessments are still incomplete because they have not examined the entirety of Sam Hughes’ public life. To a large extent these limitations have allowed the folk image of him to persist. But Hughes had fibre and substance beyond this. Since historical figures must be explained in terms of their environment, this study tries to redress the previous imbalances by examining Hughes’ public career. It is the only way his historical significance can be explained and reasonable judgments made.
Vimy Ridge: A Canadian Reassessment draws on the work of a new generation of scholars who explore the battle from three perspectives. The first assesses the Canadian Corps within the wider context of the Western Front in 1917. The second explores Canadian leadership, training, and preparations and details the story of each of the four Canadian divisions. The final section concentrates on the commemoration of Vimy Ridge, both for contemporaries and later generations of Canadians.
This long-overdue collection, based on original research, replaces mythology with new perspectives, new details, and a new understanding of the men who fought and died for the remarkable achievement that was the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
Co-published with the Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies
"The term "muleskinner" [was an] epithet which, although originally intended to malign both the animal and the man, ironically became a proud boast by the latter. What both had to go through in the course of World War I explains why."
"In the First World War, territorial designs were secondary and the civilian populations were largely spared except for famine and disease. It was a war characterized by stupidity. . . . It was not the oppression of one people by another. It was a war in which each side preyed upon itself. "
Cook uses fascinating primary sources -- diaries, letters, reminiscences, published memoirs, and the official archival record -- to illustrate the horror of gas warfare for the average trench soldier. As the first chlorine clouds rolled across the fields during the 2nd Battle of Ypres, soldiers were forced to stuff urine-soaked handkerchiefs in their mouths in order to survive. As the gas war evolved, mustard gas plagued the soldiers at the front as it lay active in mud and snow for weeks on end. There was no escape from the pervasive nature of poison gas. Entering the dug-outs, it attacked men when they were least ready. In response, the Canadian Corps had to develop an anti-gas doctrine, a process that Cook describes in full.
No Place to Run provides a challenging re-examination of the function of gas warfare in the First World War, including its important role in delivering victory in the campaign of 1918 and its curious postwar legacy. It will be of interest both to historians and military buffs.
Comparable to Modris Eskteins' Rites of Spring and Paul Fussell's The Great War and Modern Memory, the author draws on a broad range of sources, published and unpublished, making this book an original contribution to the growing literature dealing with World War I.
Thematically organized into such subjects as the symbolism of the soldier, the implications of war memory for Canadian nationalism and the idea of a just war, the book draws on military records, memoirs, war memorials, newspaper reports, fiction, popular songs, and films. In each case Vance draws a distinction between the objective realities of the war and the way that contemporaries remember it.
Death so Noble takes an unorthodox look at the Canadian war experience. It views the Great War as a cultural and philosophical force rather than as a political and military event. It will be of interest to specialists in First World War history and literature as well as a general audience.
Canada's recently established navy was at the epicentre of the crisis. Armstrong reveals the navy's compelling, and little-known, story by carefully retracing the events preceding the disaster and the role of the military in its aftermath. He catches the pulse of disaster response in official Ottawa and provides a compelling analysis of the legal manoeuvres, rhetoric, blunders, public controversy, and crisis management that ensued. His disturbing conclusion is that federal officials knew of potential dangers in the harbour before the explosion, took no corrective action, and kept the information from the public. As a result, a Halifax naval officer was made a scapegoat and the navy received lasting, and mostly undeserved, vilification.
This is a provocative read not only for military and naval devotees but for anyone who wants to understand one of the events that shaped Canada in the twentieth century.