world war

Category: world war

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.

While the future of the world weighed on his mind, a corporal in the middle of the Great War noted that life goes on.

In the spring of 1917, as he and the entire Canadian Corps prepared for the greatest battle of their lives, Ellis Sifton, a twenty-five-year-old farm boy from Wallacetown, Ontario, stopped to notice familiar activity in the French countryside. Despite the approaching Easter offensive against German armies entrenched on Vimy Ridge, he noted in letters home that the planting season in France would go ahead no matter what.

I grew up with a ghost. We all did in our family — the ghost of Billy Bishop — and that has meant for interesting times.

Like his other four grandchildren, I never knew my famous grandfather, the highly decorated First World War flying ace. I was only three years old when Billy died at the age of 62. But for our family, and as someone who has achieved almost mythical status in the annals of Canadian history, it feels as if grandpa Billy is still around, continuing to live on with us in spirit, shaping each of our lives in ways that we did not expect.

As they do every year on November 11, members of the Britannia Yacht Club in Ottawa’s West End remember those who lost their lives in defense of our country. Facing Lac Deschenes, standing bareheaded before the flagpole, they unsuccessfully attempt to shelter against the biting wind while the Sea Cadet bugler plays “Last Post” and the Commodore recites “In Flanders Fields”. If one listens carefully, out on the water, the sound of a World War II flying boat taking off can be heard.