This is simply amazing:  aerial footage of some of the battlefields of world war one, shot in 1919. The trench networks are particularly striking, and the craters caused by constant shelling tell a horrifying tale.

Nov 082010
James Thorpe - March 6, 1916

The The Canadian Letters and Images Project (CLIP) is an excellent resource for anyone who would like to try to understand more about the men and women who fought in World War I and World War II. The web archive contains letters, postcards, photographs, newspaper clippings, and other memorabilia of members of the Canadian Armed Forces. I have chosen a letter that was written by James Thorpe, a Lieutenant in the Canadian Machine Gun Corps, on March 6, 1916 while he was in Flanders (Belgium). James was killed three months later. Flanders 6th March 1916 Dear Ma and Tax: By [... read the rest ...]

Oct 302010
In Memory of a Hero

Thomas Edward Clare Peterkin, like many young men his age, sailed to Europe to fight in World War 1. Sadly, also like many young men his age, my great-great-great uncle never returned home to tell his tale. On August 9th, 1918 – three months shy of armistice – the brave young man was killed in Hangard Wood as a part of the Amiens offensive that helped break the back of Germany. Back home his family had to find what comfort they could to help them get past the (all too common) twist of fate that stole a brother/son/grandson from them. [... read the rest ...]

Norman Peterkin: For Love and Honour

Nestled away lovingly in the suitcase my grandmother used to store things about my family’s past was a beat-up letter, folded, ripped, and torn. I unfolded it carefully – perhaps the first time someone had done so in decades – and discovered that it was three pages long in total (though half a page is missing), written in the elegant script of my great-grandfather. The pages are stained and it is obvious that this letter has been read over and over again. I think as you read the transcription below you will understand how this particular letter came to arrive [... read the rest ...]

Bittersweet

I am currently reading Hit the Beach, a book about amphibious warfare, and the chapter about the botched landings in Gallipoli during World War I concluded with the following quote, by Lieutenant C.S. Black (1/6th Highland Light Infantry), which I found moving: Cape Helles had no happy memories for us; no-one wanted to see the place again. But what of them we were to leave behind us there? The good comrades, who had come so gaily with us to the wars, who had fought so gallantly by our side, and who would now lie forever among the barren rocks where [... read the rest ...]

Rudolf Hess was a strange man. As Hitler’s deputy he was undeniably connected to inhuman evil, however his actions – especially his flight to Britain to attempt to push for peace – were often enigmatic. I am not going to write about Hess’ involvement in World War Two and the Nazis today – rather I am going to take a short look at an earlier chapter in his life, before he had truly descended into darkness. The following quote is taken from the excellent Intimate Voices from the First World War, edited by Svetlana Palmer and Sarah Wallis. The original [... read the rest ...]

World War One vintage photos

I stumbled across FirstWorldWar.Com tonight, and while it’s an amazing resource all around, what really sucked me in was the vintage photograph gallery. Canadian troops awaiting battle French soldiers wearing gas masks American artillery A few of the categories are: Battlegrounds, Cathedrals and Churches, Machine Guns, Poison Gas, Tanks, and Trenches. Go check it out if you’re interested in this sort of thing.

Foresight

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Jun 062010

Here is a letter from Intimate Voices From the First World War. Canadian Private Percy Winthrop McClare wrote this letter to his mother on April 16th 1917 after participating in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. [original spelling, punctuation, and grammar preserved] My dear Mother, I can only write a short letter this time, but I hope I will be able to do so soon. I have not written a letter for over a week an a half as I have been in the trenches for 9 days, and it is impossible to write up there. You have no doubt heard [... read the rest ...]

They lived it

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May 232010

Originally posted: January 4, 2005. 9:13pm I’ve been reading through Intimate Voices From the First World War, a history of World War One as told through the diaries of combatants and civilians on both sides of the conflict. There is no way that any history tome could ever impart the personal touch that Voices has – this is the war as it unfolded without the benefit of foresight. The writing styles differ greatly from author to author, but as I read I find myself growing attached to some of the people, pitying others, and reviling still others. Here are a [... read the rest ...]

May 182010

Originally posted: December 7, 2004. 11:31pm I have written before about my great-great-great uncle who fought and died in World War I. Private Thomas Edward Clare Peterkin lost his life on the second day of the Battle of Amiens. He was wounded in action on August 8th during the initial offensive, and succumbed to his wounds the next day. Here are the final three days of Private Peterkin’s life, as told through the war diaries of the 13th Canadian Infantry Battalion, of which he was a member. August 7th ( 1, 2 ) On the way in early this morning [... read the rest ...]

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