Canada's Great War Album
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Published to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, Canada's Great War Album is an unprecedented and remarkable collection of Canadian photographs, memorabilia, and stories of the war. Two years ago, Canada's History Society invited Canadians to tell their family stories from the First World War. The response was overwhelming and assembled for the first time are their personal stories and photographs that together form a compelling and moving account of the war. Canada's Great War Album also includes contributions from Peter Mansbridge, Charlotte Gray, J.L. Granatstein, Christopher Moore, Jonathan Vance, and Tim Cook. In the spirit of the bestselling 100 Photos That Changed Canada, the war that changed Canada forever is reflected here in words and pictures.
Mustard Gas is a study in brown and white, with jagged black chalk lines outlining a bandaged soldier’s head lying on a pillow, the sheets drawn up to his chin. You cannot see the damage to the patient’s eyes, but you know from the sight of his ears, nose, and mouth that his other senses, seemingly untouched, bore witness to what his eyes eventually could no longer see. British writer and nurse Vera Brittain wrote in her autobiography, Testament of Youth, published the year the Turnbull boys died (1933), of the “poor things burnt and blistered all over with great mustard-coloured suppurating blisters, with blind eyes … all sticky and stuck together, and always fighting for breath, with voices a mere whisper, saying that their throats are closing and they know they will choke.
Douglas Boyce, Ernest’s grandson. ) On September 2, 1914, Robert Borden’s Conservative government promised that immigrants from Germany and Austria-Hungary would “not be arrested, detained or interfered with, unless there is reasonable ground to believe they are engaged” in hostile actions. Yet, within weeks, a system was in place to register some 80,000 immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe as “enemy aliens. ” Of them, a total of 5,204 men, 81 women, and 156 children were placed in internment camps.
Following the war, he worked at the Canadian Press. He died at the age of eighty-two in Toronto. (Submitted by Jeanne Snyder, Michael’s granddaughter. ) Elias Howard Cross was the only casualty of the 15th Battalion on December 23, 1917, during fighting near Lens, France. He was shot during the relief of his battalion from the front line. Cross’s parents were especially distraught at his death because they had lost their eldest son, Thomas, only a year earlier. (Submitted by Ron Cross, Elias Cross’s cousin.
He was reunited with his wife and young child after the war. (Submitted by Barbara Dalby, daughter of Lester and Mabel Harper. ) Arthur Robinson, a married thirty-one-year-old, enlisted with the 13th Battalion. He contracted influenza and pneumonia and died on December 18, 1918, in France. (Submitted by Donna Cochrane, Arthur’s great-great-niece. ) The death certificate of Albert Giles indicates that he succumbed to influenza and pneumonia. These medals belonged to a Canadian nursing sister. It’s likely there were times when Robert Mills thought his treatment was worse than the disease.
Because of the parlous state of the Canadian service, the young men were assigned to British ships for sea training. Good Hope was short of midshipmen, and thus four of the Canadians transferred with Cradock. Ten weeks later, they were lost, the first Canadians killed by enemy action in the war. The action took place on the evening of November 1, 1914, when Cradock engaged von Spee’s superior force off Coronel, Chile. After forty-five minutes of combat, Good Hope was a flaming wreck. An officer on the fast British cruiser Glasgow, which escaped, described what happened: “At 1950 [hours] there was a terrible explosion onboard between her mainmast and her after funnel; the gust of flames, each a height of over 200 feet, lighting up a cloud of debris that was flying still higher in the air.