first world war

Category: first world war

We no longer have any veterans of the First World War still with us, and so we have lost that direct connection with their stories – of the tragedy of war; of the reasons why they enlisted to fight; of the impact of the war on them, their families, and their country. And so it is up to us, a century later, to remember and to learn their stories.

On this hundredth anniversary of the end of the First World War, let us not forget the many artists who served our country. With photography and cinematography in its infancy, artists covered the battlefront creating maps, diagrams, and sketches used to plan strategy. Moreover, their recruitment posters, military portraits, and depictions of battle fields and human suffering were used to publicize Canada’s significant contribution.

We usually think that war is decided by mighty battles and often it is. In the Second World War such battles as El Alamein, Stalingrad and Midway all had decisive effects on Allied victory. However, I wanted to write the book Ten Decisions to show that if you stand back and look at the Second World War, many of the decisions that mattered most, ones which were the most far-reaching, were not always made on the battlefield.

A group of women wrapped in furs and warm winter cloaks stands on the quay at Boulogne. Around them surges a blue, red, and khaki sea of French, British, and Belgian soldiers. White-veiled nurses run alongside patients being carried on stretchers onto waiting ships. There are shouts, marching orders, and whistles as the women stand silently watching, absorbing the details of what they are seeing, overcome by the reality that they are on the doorstep of the Great War.

They are the first party of female Canadian journalists allowed into France to visit the lines of communication.