Wednesday, September 26, 2018

One Hundred Days Of War

I have switched out my header image for something more fitting for autumn. And have a look at my writer's blog today for a photo post I have set up there about this past weekend's Army Run event.

Picking up where I left off yesterday with these panels on the Hundred Days that ended the First World War, this panel notes that during the height of that period, Canadians fired 847 990 artillery shells in a span of eight days. Women back home were doing the work men had done before, including in arms factories, and the war experience for them would lead to a stronger suffrage movement and push for a greater say in society.

The 22nd Batallion, also called the Van Doos, were a French speaking unit. Their officers included Georges Vanier, who decades later would be the first Francophone Governor General of the country. Here they are seen crossing the Rhine into Bonn, Germany, to occupy the city.

This photograph of two soldiers was taken during the Hundred Days. The fellow giving himself a shave was a Japanese-Canadian soldier. At the time, marginalized groups hoped that war service would help them increase their standing in society.

First Nations men were also part of those marginalized groups, and yet they served in the war. This photograph, taken years after the war, shows Sergeant Major Binaaswi Francis Pegahmagabow, an enlisted soldier of the Anishinaabe people. He was decorated for bravery on three occasions during the war, the last of those being during the Hundred Days. Returning home, he found discrimination at home, and would become a leader in the indigenous rights movement.

Chemical weapons were a legacy of that war, and in this August 1918 photograph during the campaign, German prisoners are seen helping wounded Canadian soldiers off the battlefield.

The war at home has particular poignancy with this shot- the news of the success of the Hundred Days and the armistice meant that husbands and sons and brothers would be coming home- though not all of them.

Another poignant moment is caught here. The funeral for Sister Gladys Wake, who died of wounds sustained in a German air raid late in the war, underscored the risk nurses undertook at the front. Her fellow nursing sisters tend her grave.

Here we have a shot from the early stages of the Hundred Days. Robert Borden, our Prime Minister during the War, is addressing troops near the front. The Canadian experience of the Great War started with the country automatically drawn into the war as part of the British empire, but led the government to press for a place on the world stage, bolstered by what Canadians did in the battlefields. 

Newfoundland during the First World War was a separate entity, not part of Canadian Confederation. But Newfoundlanders served faithfully attached to the British forces, suffering horrendous losses. Sergeant Thomas Ricketts of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment won the Victoria Cross for bravery during the Hundred Days. Ricketts was lucky; many Newfoundlanders never returned home, and the wounds of those losses weighed heavily at home for decades to come.

Arthur Currie had worked in real estate and insurance before the war and served part time in the militia. He had the distinction of starting his military career at the bottom of the ladder as an enlisted gunner before getting noticed enough to be elevated as a militia officer in 1900. The war changed him forever- he rose all the way to the rank of a lieutenant general, in overall command of the Canadians in Europe. Unlike so many generals who seemed to spend the better part of four years sending men at enemy positions in the tried and true way- Napoleonic tactics of mass infantry charges in an age of machine guns- Currie was tenacious, resourceful, and capable of adapting quickly. He is considered one of the best commanders in Canadian military history.

Some 39 000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders were wounded in action during the Hundred Days. This photograph shows some of the challenges veterans faced back home- note the missing limbs here and there. The government found themselves providing services for veterans who were dealing with disability and accessibility issues.

This last panel is at the end of the set. It features a shot of Canadian soldiers liberating Cambrai, France, in October 1918 after the retreating Germans set the city on fire. The Hundred Days ended the First World War, and in the process, like the war itself, those days changed the perspective of Canadians about themselves.


  1. ...the things that we do to each other!

  2. So touching that the nurse sisters continue to care for Gladys Wake.


  3. The old photos bring this trying time to life.

  4. A reminder of the horrible events of war.

  5. @Francisco: thank you.

    @Tom: we are capable of great good, and great bad.

    @Janis: I found that to be the case too.

    @Janey: they do!

    @Shammickite: and a good one.

  6. Every war is dirty, but this one was really horrible with the chemical warfare in the muddy trenches.

  7. Thank you for this chronicle of the terrible events of the First World War, so that I can see it all with the perspective you offer from Canada. I wish there was some way for us to evolve beyond war, but it keeps on in its many forms across the planet. :-(

  8. The color seems to really bring these pics to life and enhances their effect.

  9. WW I was a horrible experience even if Canada came out of it with a higher world status.

  10. I particularly like that photo of the soldiers crossing the bridge into Bonn. Such interesting history.

  11. @Jan: it was horrendous.

    DJan: that's true.

    @RedPat: it does.

    @Red: true.

    @Lois: that war changed a lot.

  12. Love the new header! There is a lot of history packed on to those panels.

  13. Your header is very special !! With this enormous head !

  14. Just returned from the land of Franco. Hope those days are far behind both for Spain and the world.

  15. Tommy Ricketts became a pharmacist and had a store on the west end of Water St. in St. John’s. My father ‘s family lived next door to the store.. Day always said what a good man Tommy was.

  16. War is always bad! Nice header William.

  17. @Sharon: there is!

    @Gattina: it was time for a change.

    @Revrunner: you must have had quite a trip.

    @Marie: that's a small world!

    @Bill: thank you.

  18. World War 1 must have been an horrendous experience for the troops.

  19. Thank you for this post. You have interesting informations about WWI.

  20. I always enjoy your variety of posts and the information you give.
    Thank you

    All the best Jan

    PS I like your new header

  21. Unique display of WWII history ~

    Happy Day to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores

  22. nice. i don't know much about Canadian history though, i don't recall much in our schools. i remember like Germany, Russia, China ... gosh this is really make me brain hurt. i feel old. lol! ( ;

  23. I like your updated header. I've seen more attention in Canada given to World War I than I seem to see in the U.S., though I'm far from any large city where that would occur.

  24. A wonderful series of images William.. thanks to photographers of the day history captured forever!

  25. While the men suffered, many women, and children at home, suffered, too.
    I loved your posts, like the header. I just don't get into the city.

  26. Inspiring history. Thank you for sharing it with us. Canada is a great nation!

  27. @Fun60: it was horrendous.

    @Klara: it's a big part of our history.

    @Jan: you're welcome.

    @Carol: it is indeed.

    @Beth: we get taught a lot.

    @Kay: it was time for a new header.

    @Grace: these period photos are haunting.

    @Jennifer: thanks!

    @Cloudia: you're welcome.