First World War in the News is an edited review of hand-picked World War I (1914-1918) articles - covering everything from the soldiers and generals to the trenches and militaria.

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Latest hand-picked First World War news. See also: See also 'WWI Tours, Joyrneys', 'Victoria Cross Medals', 'WW1 Films, Movies', 'Letters from Trenches'.

The Last Great Cavalry Charge - Moreuil Wood & Rifle Wood, March 1918
On March 10, 1918, the German forces began a major offensive against the Allied Forces in France. The Operation Michael created a bulge 25 miles deep and 50 miles wide at the base. Three Cavalry Regiments of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, along with the 1st Motor Machine Gun Brigade and men of the Canadian Railway Troops, blocked the German advance on Amiens and the Paris Railway.
(issuu.com)

The Madman and the Butcher: The Sensational Wars of Sam Hughes and General Arthur Currie by Tim Cook
Militia minister Sir Sam Hughes traveled across Canada as he essentially single-handedly built the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) that saw action in the First World War. General Sir Arthur Currie led the CEF to its great victories in 1917 and 1918. Their linked stories are worth telling, especially since Hughes hated Currie.
(theglobeandmail.com)

From Victoria to Vladivostok: Canada's Siberian Expedition, 1917-19 by Benjamin Isitt
In "Canada's Siberian Expedition" history professor Benjamin Isitt explores one of the strangest episodes in Canada's World War One adventure. In 1918, 4,200 Canadian soldiers were shipped, in the wake of the Russian revolution, from Victoria to Vladivostok to fought the Bolsheviks.
(timescolonist.com)

Canadian War Museum lands two more Victoria Crosses won by Canadians
A year after a controversial auction in which the federal government spend $300,000 to prevent a historic Victoria Cross from leaving the country, the Canadian War Museum has quietly gained 2 more of the desired military medals, including another of the storied "Valour Road" VCs granted to 3 World War I soldiers from the same street in Winnipeg. Both medals - Cpl. Leo Clarke's VC from the 1916 Battle of the Somme and Lieut. John Mahony's VC from the Italian campaign of 1944 - were received as donations at a time when such militaria are in hot demand among collectors, selling at auction for hundreds of thousands.
(vancouversun.com)

Canadian Expeditionary Force Study Group - Website and forum
On the Canadian Expeditionary Force Study Group -site you will be able to follow the development of the matrix to provide information on all of the components of the CEF (Canadian Expeditionary Force) during the World War One. The project was started in 2006 to create an authoritative listing of the Canadian units that served in the field in all theatres of the operations.
(cefresearch.com)

How the First World War sacrifices and valour defined Canada
Before the start of the Great War in 1914, Canada was a nation still shy of a half-century in existence - a glorified colony of Britain with a regular army of 3,000 soldiers. The next 4 years would see a conscription, the introduction of a "temporary" income tax, and an explosion in Halifax. There would be bloody battles fought at Ypres, Passchendaele, the Somme and Vimy Ridge. And in many ways, Canada - then a country of 7 million people - would come of age. Almost 650,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders served in the "war to end all wars." One in 10 would not come home.
(cbc.ca)

The First World War, as told by Canadian soldiers
At the beginning of the Great War, Canada was still a British colony, yet the call to duty was strongly felt and the Canadian contribution to the war was above any sacrifice required for king or colony. In Shoestring Soldiers: The 1st Canadian Division at War, 1914-1915, Andrew Iarocci provides an account of the rag-tag, under-trained Canadian 1st Division, which started the war as "colonial amateurs and finished it as elite shock troops." J.L. Granatstein and Norman Hillmer's book Battle Lines: Eyewitness Accounts From Canada`s Military History, gives eyewitness accounts from the awful conditions of basic training to miserable state of affairs at the front.
(bclocalnews.com)

"Crisis of Conscience" examines conscientious objectors in Canada
Canada had political confederation in 1867 but politicians in 1917 believed fighting as a nation in World War I would bring emotional confederation. Canada has no revolution in its history to solidify the us-versus-them mentality, but Canadian success at Vimy Ridge qualified as a nation-building moment. But not everyone was behind the war, and it's those people Amy Shaw focuses on in book "Crisis of Conscience." Conscientious objectors are people who refuse to take part as combatants in war. Some take on a non-combatant role while others refuse any involvement. Shaw figures Canada had 15,000 Conscientious objectors in the First World War.
(lethbridgeherald.com)

Canadian cavalry had decisive World War I victory at Moreuil Wood
In the spring of 1918 the Germans threw everything into a final offensive, using the most intense artillery barrage of the war, and the storm troopers. German forces were beefed up with 50 divisions freed up by Russia's collapse. German object was the town of Amiens. If it fell to the Germans, the French would have to retreat south to defend Paris, and the British to north toward the channel ports. With the Allies separated, the war was as good as lost. March 23 Germans went through Allied lines. Within a week, they had moved on 60kms, to the outskirts of Amiens. The Kaiser toasted his triumph with vintage Champagne. But Canadian cavalry intervened...
(saskatoonstarphoenix)

Honouring Canada's first and only all-black battalion   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Chief Warrant Officer Kevin Junor bowed his head as he stood at attention in front of a monument devoted to Canada's first black battalion. "The No.2 Construction Battalion began the journey that allows me to stand before you today as a regimental sergeant-major," he said, talking about the Toronto Scottish Regiment, part of the Canadian Forces Primary Reserve. The 600 men of the WWI battalion had to fight racism that prevented blacks from enlisting in the Canadian Army. They pressured the government to enlist them, and their unit was formed in Pictou on July 5, 1916. They went overseas in 1917 - but instead of weapons, they got picks, axes and shovels.
(thechronicleherald.ca)

First World War John Babcock vet regains Canadian citizenship
It all started with a hand-written note to the PM, wrote on a sheet of paper decorated with cartoon Teddy Bears and American flags. But recently Canada's last remaining World War I veteran John Babcock got a gift: the restoration of his Canadian citizenship. Until this week, he was only a Canuck by birth, because after the war he moved to the U.S., where he was naturalized as a U.S. citizen, and at the time the U.S. did not allow "dual citizens". In 1915 Babcock lied about his age to sign up with the 146th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
(canada.com)

Long interview with Jack Babcock, Last surviving veteran of Canada's WW1 army
Funeral arrangements can be a touchy issue when 107yo interview subject isn't ready to go. When you ask Jack Babcock if he would like a state funeral, he fixes you with sky-blue eyes. You're obviously talking foolish. But the question has to be asked. Babcock is the last survivor of the 619,636 men who enlisted in Canada's First World War army. "I don't know why the hell they would want to do that because I didn't fight," he told in May 2007 after Canada's second-last vet Dwight Wilson died. Now he begins to waver: "I wouldn't mind that. I think all of them should be included."
(canada)

Vimy Ridge: A Canadian Reassessment
The battle for Vimy Ridge inhabits a special place in Canadian history and mythology. In the 90 years since the attack on Vimy Ridge, fact and fiction have blended to create a national legend. But do the facts support that status? 18 authors and historians dug into the battle to create the most comprehensive examination of the Battle of Vimy Ridge to date. They say the legend has overshadowed the fact that Vimy was only one objective in the much wider Battle of Arras. This attack on 24km of the heavily fortified Hindenburg Line was largely unsuccessful, leading many German Imperial Army regiments to state that Vimy was not a defeat, but a draw.
(h-net.org)

Divers find sunken WWI minesweeper of the Royal Canadian Navy
Divers probing a shipwreck off the north coast of Wales have traced the origins of a bell from the sunken vessel and discovered a long-lost treasure of Canada's naval history: a 90-year-old minesweeper built by the fledgling Royal Canadian Navy during World War One. A rare surviving symbol of country's coming of age as a modest maritime power, the 38m trawler was commissioned mid-war as part of an urgent ship-construction project aimed at taking over Canada's coastal defences from a besieged Britain.
(cdnn.info)

John Babcock - Canada's sole surviving WWI vet marks birthday
Canada's last known surviving the Great War veteran took a bite of his 107th birthday cake, read his card from the Queen and wondered what all the fuss was about. Holding court from his livingroom couch, John (Jack) Babcock admitted that the global attention lavished upon him had little to do with his war-time accomplishments: "I ate up a lot of good government rations." Babcock holds the title of the last known living Canadian to cross the Atlantic in uniform to fight for the Allies in World War I.
(ctv)

The last survivor of Canada's first concentration camp died   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Mary Manko Haskett, the last survivor of Canada's first concentration camp died at 98. Her fight to win justice for the Ukrainians who were mistreated more than 90 years ago will carry on, her supporters say. She was 6 years old when she was transported to the Spirit Lake concentration camp. This was known as the Ukrainian Canadian internment, part of the confinement of "enemy aliens" under Canada's old War Measures Act during and after WWI. 5,000 Ukrainians of Austro-Hungarian citizenship were kept in 24 camps. "Most internees were forced to do heavy labour for the profit of their jailers and had their wealth confiscated."
(mississauganews)

Canada: One of the oldest veterans groups, Byng Boys, calls it quits
One of the oldest veterans groups held its final meeting at the Union Club in Saint John. The Byng Boys, named after Sir Julian Byng, commander of the Canadian army at Vimy Ridge, started in 1919 after World War I. George Pridham: "Originally, to be a Byng Boy you had to be carried off the field of battle, and as it turned out, basically I was the only one in the Byng Boys that really qualified, because I had my leg shot off and left in the aircraft, and the Dutch carried me off the field of battle." After the Second World War the rules changed, only requiring members to have seen active service. "Just being in uniform didn't mean you could get into it."
(cbc)

Canada's military history: Findings cast more doubt on 1917 draft
History buff Michel Gravel, who studies Canada's military past, has prompted the country's professional historians to rethink one of the great controversies of World War One: the success of the conscription policy that created a deep divide along French-English lines. He has unearthed an error in the calculation of how many conscripted soldiers were sent into battle before the end of WWI. And the find has been hailed as "a great service to scholars" by the dean of Canadian historians Jack Granatstein. Generations of war chroniclers have accepted the figure of 24,132 compulsory recruits who reached the frontlines.
(forumeerstewereldoorlog.nl)

59% of Canadians don't know the name of the iconic WW1 clash
Canadians have a limited grasp of their military history, poll indicates, as 59% of Canadians don't even know the name of the iconic First World War clash the Battle of Vimy Ridge. When told "Canada's most famous single victory in the First World War consisted of the capture of a key ridge on the Western front" and asked to name the battle, only 41% could come up with the name Vimy Ridge. Canadians also have a poor knowledge of the Great War heroes - with only 34% identifying both Sir Arthur Currie, commander of the Canadian Corps, and Air Marshall (Billy) Bishop, a Canadian flying ace.
(canada)

Diary of Canadian artilleryman at Vimy Ridge chronicles battle   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Gunner Harry Whitfield Mollinskept notes about that World War 1 combat in a diary that fit into his tunic pocket. He became aware a few days beforehand of plans to attack the German army on Vimy Ridge. Thursday, April 5: Carrying ammunition to the No. 4 gun all day. We are getting a reserve store ready for the "strafe" which comes off in a few days. Aeroplanes very active today. --- Saturday, April 7: On ammunition fatigues all day. Did considerable firing. Had to take a count of all the shells et cetera. A "Fritz" plane brought down one of our observation balloons this morning. It came down in flames.
(canoe)

Remembering other Canadian battles from World War 1
Some of the lesser-known battles from WW1. Hill 62, April, August 1916: Canadian soldiers fought 5 months around the Ypres to keep the Germans from gaining possession of the last few square kilometres of Belgian territory still in Allied hands. -- St. Julien, April 22-24, 1915: On April 22, the Germans tried to break the stalemate on the Western Front by a new weapon, poison gas. They released 135 tonnes of chlorine gas. As thick clouds of chlorine drifted over their trenches, the French defences crumbled, leaving a 6km hole in the Allied line. The German troops pressed forward, but the Canadians stood their ground and after advancing only 3km the Germans dug in.
(nationalpost.com)

Remembering Arthur Currie: Canadian war hero
Arthur Currie entered World War One without any professional military experience under his belt. But using his tactical skills, he went on to lead the Canadian Corps to victory at Vimy Ridge and he was credited with ultimately accelerating the end of the Great War. "His slogan was pay the price of victory in shells, not lives." One of Currie's war strategies was a French-invented technique "creeping barrage," in which troops advanced behind a rain of artillery which would fall just ahead of the front line. Currie was promoted to commander of the Canadian Corps. He became the first Canadian to lead the Canadian Corps, who had been led by British commanders.
(ctv)

Canadians fail First World War survey - Military History just not important anymore?   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Only 42% of Canadians passed a First World War knowledge test. The Dominion Institute says that shows Canadians are losing their knowledge of Canada's military history. 25% picked American General Douglas MacArthur as a Canadian war hero. Asked whether they would be attending a Remembrance Day service, 41% said yes, down from 58% in 2001. Rudyard Griffiths says he's worried that Canada is becoming a country of amnesiacs when it comes to our military heritage. Military historian Terry Copp said learning the names of war heroes such as Sir Arthur Currie isn't of much importance in people's daily lives or to 16-year olds.
(theglobeandmail.com)

Victoria Cross recipient's WW1 bagpipes from the battlefield
A set of bagpipes trampled beneath the mud of a World War One battlefield returned home to Canada, telling a story of how their mournful defiant voice spurred soldiers to a historic Canadian victory. James Richardson died on the Somme battlefield in 1916, but his bravery earned him the Victoria Cross, the highest military gallantry medal. He is the only Canadian piper awarded the VC. His unprotected battlefield piping spurred soldiers at Regina Trench to tear their way through a barbed wire enclosure and mount a victory. He died that same day when he was shot trying to retrieve his bagpipes from the bloody battlefield.
(cbc)

Canadian soldiers executed German fighters trying to surrender   (Article no longer available from the original source)
One of the Canada's leading war historians has amassed evidence that German troops trying to surrender during World War One were "frequently executed" by Canadian soldiers gripped by fear or revenge. In an article that appears in the Journal of Military History, Canadian War Museum historian Tim Cook explores the complex "politics of surrender." He found, in a startling number of cases, "unlawful" killings of Germans after they had given up the fight, laid down their guns and thrown up their hands. "Becoming a prisoner was one of the most dangerous acts on the battlefield of the Great War."
(-)

In just 30 minutes the Newfoundland Regiment was wiped out   (Article no longer available from the original source)
In the morning of July 1, 1916, the Newfoundland Regiment went over the top in the battle of the Somme. Just 30 minutes later the battle was over, the Regiment had been wiped out and with it a generation of young Newfoundland men. That night only 68 members answered the roll call; 710 had been killed, wounded or were missing. King George V later granted the Regiment the addition of "Royal" for the contributions made on the battlefield. Newfoundland and Labrador`s Lieutenant Governor described July 1 as "an important anniversary in our history."
(southerngazette)

Historic Pilgrimage - Royal Newfoundland Regiment   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The last time the Royal Newfoundland Regiment deployed in force to Europe, it endured four years of heavy fighting, devastating losses and earned enduring respect at home and abroad. 9 decades later, the regiment is preparing to deploy once again to those same battlefields where a generation of Newfoundlanders made unimaginable sacrifices. Later this month, some 160 army reservists from both the first and second battalions and the regimental band will travel to France on an historic pilgrimage. It will mark the first time since the First World War that the regiment will parade in strength on European soil.
(thetelegram)

Legion urges proper honours for 3 final First World War veterans
The Royal Canadian Legion wants the government to host a "significant commemoration" when the last of Canada's First World War veterans dies. With the death of Clare Laking, the number of known First World War veterans still living is down to 3. Lloyd Clemett, 106, lives in Toronto. Percy Dwight Wilson, 105, lives in Oshawa and John Babcock, 105, lives in Spokane. Given the dwindling numbers, and the advanced ages of the remaining three, the topic of what to do when the last First World War veteran passes away has been on the minds of decision-makers at Veterans Affairs.
(canada)

Canadian World War I Posters Gallery
In World War I colour posters were used as an affordable means of mass communication. The Canadian government produced many posters for recruitment drives, for fund raising through Victory Bonds, and to encourage the increase in production. Canadian war posters production ranged from the hundreds to 65,000. In WWI, Canadian war posters were modeled on those in Britain, although they also targeted specific cultural groups, including French Canadians, the Irish and Scots. The war posters were often heavy on text with passive images, although the imagery tended to get more dramatic as casualties mounted.
(canadaonline)

Music-loving soldier who met a sad end
At the outbreak of war the Canadians were quick to offer assistance to the British Army and on October 3, 1914, 30 ships set sail carrying more than 30,000 men, 7,000 horses and 600 vehicles. In the following years thousands more men enlisted and many were Americans, who joined up having travelled from the US. On March 27, 1918 Cephas Hector Abbott enlisted into the Canadian Engineers and made the long journey to England. At this time the camp was suffering from a huge outbreak of influenza. The draughty wooden huts must have been uncomfortable and many soldiers died of fever, the peak being in Oct 1918 when more than 50 died at the camp in just one month.
(sussexexpress)

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - 20,000 Canadians without grave
Almost 20,000 of the 80,000 Canadians who died in World War I have no identifiable grave. Those who could be identified as Canadian have gravestones inscribed "A Canadian Soldier of the Great War - known unto God." In May 2000, Canada created the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to represent all Canadian service people who have no known grave. The Canadian government asked the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to select a grave of an unidentified Canadian soldier in the Vimy Ridge area.
(canadaonline)

Wild western front - an Ojibwa Indian on the Somme
Three Day Road is based on the experiences of a real-life war hero: Francis Pegahmagabow, an Ojibwa Indian who ended up fighting alongside British and French forces on the Somme. The best parts of the novel are the physical descriptions, from the snowy wastes of Canada to the muddy craters of Flanders. Boyden is particularly good at conveying how desperate times breed desperate measures. A man who will slit a bear open with a knife, then cook it for his dinner, is not going to be squeamish when confronted with German soldiers. There are some stomach-churning scenes, but always with a leavening of compassion.
(telegraph.co.uk)


See also

'WWI Tours, Joyrneys'

'Victoria Cross Medals'

'WW1 Films, Movies'

'Letters from Trenches'.