Friday, November 16, 2018

The Last 100 Days

I went to the Canadian War Museum on Remembrance Day. As you can imagine, it was busy. The museum is west of the downtown core in the Lebreton Flats area, with the National Holocaust Monument and the Canadian Firefighters Memorial nearby. It has been in this location since 2005, when the museum's collection outgrew its former quarters. The building looks like a massive bunker or a bomber plane, fitting given its mandate.

The current temporary exhibit happening inside is Victory 1918: The Last 100 Days. It focuses on the activities of Canadian soldiers in France and Belgium during the last months of the First World War.

One of the first displays you see inside is this case containing a flag and the jacket and helmet of Arthur Currie, the resourceful Canadian general in command of our country's troops in Europe during much of the war. He was a tall, big man, something you see in the statue of him that stands downtown among the Valiants, and certainly repeated when you look at his uniform.

This panel starts things off, explaining the status quo in 1918 before the Hundred Days began, with the drive the various Allied nations would make against German lines. The exhibit focuses on the Canadians, but also places them in context with other Allied efforts as you go through.

For Canadian soldiers, the Hundred Days began at Amiens, France, on August 8th, fighting alongside British, Australian, and French troops. It was a date that Ludendorff, the German commanding general, would remember as 'the black day in the history of the German army in the history of this war'.

Period artifacts caught my eye.

They included this rum jug and a pocket watch belonging to a young Canadian private by the name of Thomas Cook, who survived Amiens and was still carrying the watch when he was wounded later in the month at Arras.

This also drew my attention. The First World War was the first time tanks were used in battle, and tank crews used leather helmets. This face mask was an addition to the helmets, protecting the eyes, nose, and mouth with goggles and chain mail.

The Battle Of Amiens ended with an Allied victory and kicked off the Hundred Days campaign that brought the war to an end. Combined arms assault- the concept of coordinating infantry, artillery, tank, and air attacks- would ultimately prove to be key in ending the war after four years of generals throwing masses of men at enemy positions for little or no gain. At the end of each battle section in this exhibit, statistics of the battle were displayed.

The next part of the exhibit concerned itself with the Battle of Arras. I'm leaving off today with this quote and display. Georges Vanier was a Quebecois major in the 22nd Batallion, the only all-French speaking infantry unit in the Canadian army at the time. On the 28th of August 1918, an exploding German shell cost him his right leg near the village of Cherisy. He won the Military Cross and the Distinguished Service Order for his courage and service throughout the war, and in 1959 he became the Governor General of Canada.


  1. I just the other day read an article about the lost faces. Despite those face masks many lost their eyes, noses, mouths, and as if that was not enough their wifes often turned away from them (which I do not understand).
    War is so darn dumb.
    But, yes, you have to remember. And not repeat. Hopefully.

  2. Looks like an interesting exhibition.

  3. I'm glad it was busy. We need to remember, lest we repeat.


  4. Hello, looks like an interesting exhibit. Happy Friday, enjoy your day and weekend!

  5. I didn’t realize Vanier was an amputee. Thank you for the info.

  6. @Iris: I didn't photograph it this time, but there are panels in the permanent galleries about war disfigurements that deal with that issue.

    @Marianne: I certainly found it so.

    @Janis: quite true, especially these days.

    @Francisco: thank you.

    @Eileen: I enjoyed it.

    @Tom: that ended four years of hell.

    @Marie: you wouldn't have known it looking at pictures of him from his days as governor general.

  7. It all looks rather clean in such an exhibition but it must have been hell with the gas attacks in the muddy trenches.

  8. Thanks for showing us this exhibit, William.

  9. You are giving us interesting information about WWI on this 100th anniversary.

  10. Interesting but sad reminder of war and suffering.

  11. It seems like the perfect way to spend Remembrance Day.

  12. @Jan: the gas attacks would have certainly been one of the biggest horrors of the war.

    @RedPat: you're welcome.

    @Red: I thought it appropriate.

    @Lady Fi: thank you!

    @Nancy: quite true.

    @Sharon: I think it is.

  13. An interesting exhibit, William !

  14. I think I went to the War Museum many years ago when it was in it's previous location, but I can't actually remember where it was.

  15. The Museum looks like an aircraft in your first photo. The exhibits mean so much more when they have a personal connection.

  16. Thanks for sharing this exhibition with us, William.

  17. A very impressive reminder that war, in all its forms, is hell and when one considers all the death and destruction, in a sense, nobody wins. But it appears we still haven't learned that and too many still fail to accept the significance of every single human being. As long as leaders such as our U.S. president and other would-be dictators can devalue human life for whatever reason, the scene is set for war.

  18. quite abstract building design and wonderful memory display for of the war ~

    Happy Day to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  19. @Karl: it was!

    @Shammickite: yes, the old location is between the Royal Canadian Mint and the National Gallery. It sees different use today as the headquarters for a think tank for the Aga Khan Foundation.

    @Fun60: it does, yes.

    @Bill: you're welcome.

    @Lowell: quite true.

    @Carol: thank you.

  20. Although a very sad reminder of war, and all that goes with it, this does look an interesting exhibition.

    All the best Jan

  21. So many interesting things to see here.

  22. i really enjoy learning about the past ... uniforms included. ( :

  23. I've not seen "contemporary" chain mail. The tank helmet is interesting.

  24. This seems like a very smart idea from a curatorial point of view to focus on one certain period in the war and Canadian participation. The whole scope of the war is so big and to focus on a critical 100 days makes sense in so many ways. Yes, that tank mask is sort of fascinating.

  25. @Jan: that it was.

    @Janey: very much so.

    @Revrunner: one way of putting it.

    @Lois: there is!

    @Beth: thank you.

    @Happyone: it is, yes.

    @Kay: I think so too.

    @Jeanie: the temporary exhibits this museum puts up are fascinating.

    @Klara: that it was.