Actions Around Damery

Between August 14th and 17th, Canadian troops fought their way into Parvillers and Damery (approximately 35 kilometres east of Amiens). Despite heavy shelling and counterattack, they were able to hold both villages and take prisoners.  Vincent Noskey, a South Peace soldier, was killed in action at Parvillers.  You can read his story on YouTube or our Soldiers’ Memorial.

The Battle of Amiens

The opening day of the Battle of Amiens (August 8, 1918) was labelled by General Ludendorff as “the black day of the German Army in the history of the war”. The Canadians pushed his troops back as much as twelve kilometres on the first day of the battle, and on the 11th of August, the battle ended in a decisive victory for the Allied troops. A total of 5,033 prisoners were taken at Amiens by the Canadian Corps.

Norman Johnston was a South Peace soldier who served at Amiens, and was awarded the Military Medal for his brave actions.  His story has been shared on YouTube and on our Soldiers’ Memorial.

Introduction to the Hundred Days Offensive

August 8, 1918 marked the beginning of the end of the First World War. During these crucial final battles, Canadian troops were chosen to be at the forefront of the attacks on the Germans’ main defensive lines.

More than 6,800 Canadians were killed and approximately 39,000 wounded between August 8 and November 11. To commemorate the triumph and sacrifice of our soldiers during the Hundred Days Offensive, the South Peace Regional Archives will be sharing short videos in the coming weeks, featuring the stories of local soldiers who were part of that final big push that led to the Armistice.

Vimy Ridge: National Day of Remembrance

On Monday Grande Prairie celebrated the National Day of Remembrance of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, marking 101 years since this Canadian victory.  This battle was fought from 9-12 April 1917 and marked the first time in the war that all four Canadian divisions, or 100 000 men, were in one place.  Many South Peace soldiers, including those listed below, fought at Vimy Ridge.  To read more about their experiences, visit our Soldiers Memorial.

 

John Gibson Anderson

wounded at Vimy Ridge; killed in action at Passchendaele

David Barr

killed in action on 9 April 1917 at Vimy Ridge

George Wesley Bass

worked with the Engineers building tunnels under Vimy Ridge

Edward Carney

wounded at Vimy Ridge

Benjamin Thomas Gray

lost his right arm as a result of wounds received at Vimy Ridge

Edward Joseph Heller

mentions Vimy Ridge in his memoirs, available here

Arne Jensen

went missing at Vimy Ridge, presumed dead

George Elmor Lillico

wounded at Vimy Ridge

Robert Cornwall Louder

wounded at Vimy Ridge

Ernest Wesley McClelland

gassed at Vimy Ridge

Charles Edward Brendon MacDaid

wounded at Vimy Ridge

Wilfred W. Mace

wounded at Vimy Ridge

Kenneth John Murray

wounded at Vimy Ridge

Donald Patterson

mentions in his memoirs that graves were dug in advance for the expected casualties at Vimy Ridge

Howard Elliot Peffer

wounded at Vimy Ridge; suffered from shell shock

Raymond Pellerin

wounded at Vimy Ridge

Rupert Lee Perry

gassed at Vimy Ridge

Delmar Wentworth Pratt

wounded at Vimy Ridge

Oliver Mardon Tulk

killed in action at Vimy Ridge

100th Anniversary of Vimy Ridge: The Birth of a Nation

SPRA on Everything GP

Passchendaele – An Eyewitness Account

After great success at Vimy Ridge and Hill 70, the Canadians were called upon to relieve the Australian and New Zealand troops in Flanders, Belgium. Many preparations were made under the careful eye of General Currie, and on October 26th the attack was launched. The Battle of Passchendaele lasted until mid-November, at the expense of 15,654 Canadian lives. Following is an except from the memoir of a South Peace soldier, Lance Corporal Edward Joseph Heller.

It seemed to be the policy then and there to have comparatively few in the front line, for if the enemy counter attacked he would probably overrun it anyway. We did some digging during the night, connecting shell holes, deepening ditches that were supposed to be trenches, etc. to make room for the extra men… The ground, as at Vimy Ridge, was all torn up. I am sure not a square foot being in its original condition or position. We suffered a few casualties during the night, subjected to what was called a harassing fire: the artillery mow and then dropping a shell here, one there. Our artillery did that too. When morning came, we settled down into the ditches… We lay where we were, in the mud of course, all day of the 29th. If one wanted to change position, get a hard tack out of the haversack, or move for any reason at all, one had to move very slowly… Of course we couldn’t move very fast anyway, as we were chilled to the bone.

There was a sort of step at the dead end of this ditch, so I sat upon the step. I probably dozed off (for we hadn’t had much sleep for some time), for the next thing I knew, I was laying in the mud up out of the ditch, in a sort of bewildered way, thinking perhaps something had happened, for it seemed the right half of my head had been shot off (how I thought I could still be alive after that?) and 72 bones (that’s about 1/3 of them, isn’t it?) were broken. Apparently a shell passed just in front of me… and exploded. How deeply I was buried or how long it took to dig me out was not thought of then, so I never found out, which never worried me any… Two fellows helped me start walking… perhaps to some dressing station… there is a flash of a few seconds of memory… there was this railway car, low sides but no top. How and why I and others were there, I didn’t know or care… Next I was lying on a stretcher in a large marquee. By evening I was in a cot, nice white sheets, hospital pyjamas so clean and dry.

Edward Heller had in fact sustained a gunshot wound to his left leg at Passchendaele. Later in the war, his right leg was also wounded. Heller survived the war and returned to his homestead near Beaverlodge.

Photograph: SPRA 194.03, from Edward Heller’s fonds, likely taken at Passchendaele

To get an idea of the devastation they fought through, consider attending the Passchendaele movie screening at the Grande Prairie Regional College on Friday October 27 at 7:00. We will also have a small display honouring our South Peace veterans who played a role in this important battle.  Click here for more information on this event.

10 Slang Words From World War I

Considering the many new developments in weaponry, equipment, and military tactics during World War I, it is certainly not surprising to see how many new words and phrases that were coined during this time.  Some of them were based on words from other languages as men representing various cultures and backgrounds rubbed shoulders on a day to day basis, others were made up and offer a glimpse into the humor that the soldiers employed to face the horror of life in the trenches.  Enjoy this selection of ten slang words from the Great War, and be sure to check out the sources below for more.

 

Napoo
derived from the French term “il n’y a plus”, which the Canadian and British soldiers took to mean ‘finished’, ‘dead’, or ‘completely destroyed’


Pogey-bait
the Canadian and American term for any sweet snack


Spike-bozzled
usually used to describe completely destroyed aircraft


Potato Masher
slang for German hand grenades


Whizz Bang
nickname for a small-calibre shell


Barkers
trench slang for army sausages, which soldiers believed contained dog meat


Thingamajig
a made-up trench word used to refer to the new devices invented during the war


Bumf
originally slang for toilet paper, but later on referred to any communication from headquarters


Blighty
another word for “England”; a ‘blighty wound’ would be wound that got a soldier sent back to England


Strafe
this could mean anything from bombardment to a severe reprimand; it came from the German propaganda slogan “Gott Strafe England”, meaning “God Punish England”

 

Sources:

Mental Floss – 21 Slang Terms

Canadian War Museum – Soldiers’ Slang

War History Online – A to Z of World War I Trench Slang

BBC News – English Expressions Coined in World War I

 

10 World War I Names Every Canadian Should Know

Sam Hughes

Sir Samuel Hughes was Canada’s Minister of Militia & Defense until November 1916. While some of his equipment choices ended in embarrassing fiascoes, he was the driving force behind Canada’s war effort early in the war.

Image Source: Dictionary of Canadian Biography

 

John McCrae

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae was the Canadian physician who penned the iconic war poem, In Flanders Fields. McCrae suffered greatly, both physically and mentally, as a result of his war experiences, and died as a result of fatigue and pneumonia in 1918.

Image Source: Wikipedia

 

Arthur Currie

General Sir Arthur William Currie became commander of the Canadian Corps after his success at Vimy Ridge, and he held that position for the remainder of the war. Currie’s fastidious planning in preparation for battle led to him being known as one of the finest generals of the war.

Image Source: Wikipedia

 

Billy Bishop

William Avery Bishop (from Owen Sound, Ontario) was the British Empire’s top flying ace in the First World War. He was officially credited with 72 victories.

Image Source: The Canadian Encyclopedia

 

“Chip” Kerr

Private John Chipman Kerr of Spirit River, Alberta, was awarded the Victoria Cross at Courcelette for single-handedly capturing 62 prisoners. There is a mountain named after Kerr in Jasper National Park.

Image Source: Memorials to Valour

 

George Lawrence Price

Pte. Price was a Canadian soldier in the 28th Battalion, Saskatchewan Regiment. During the liberation of Mons, Price was shot in the chest by a German sniper and became the last Allied soldier to be killed before the Armistice. He died at 10:58am, November 11, 1918.

Image Source: Wikipedia

 

Edith Cavell

Though not a Canadian, Edith Cavell was a figure who received international attention during the war. The courageous British nurse aided some 200 Allied soldiers in escaping from German-occupied Belgium and was shot by a German firing squad as a result. Mount Edith Cavell in Jasper National Park is considered to be one of the greatest climbs in North America.

Image Source: EdithCavell.org

 

Billy Barker

William George Barker was Canadian flying ace who achieved the status of “ace” during a 10-month stint on the Italian front. But it was on the Western front, near the end of the war, that Barker won a Victoria Cross for shooting down three of fifteen enemy aircraft that attacked him. Billy Barker is to this day the most highly decorated serviceman in the British Empire.

Image Source: Canoe.com

 

Roy Brown

Although Arthur Roy Brown had only ten aerial victories during the war, he was officially credited with having shot down the Red Baron. It remains controversial to this day whether it was in fact Brown who downed the Red Baron, or if it was ground fire. Regardless, the gallant manner in which he defended his friend Wop May in the dogfight earned him a Distinguished Service Cross.

Image Source: Wikipedia

 

Margaret C. MacDonald

Major Margaret MacDonald was the Matron-in-Chief of the Canadian Army Medical Corps Nursing Service. She was one of the founding members of the CAMC’s nursing service, and by the end of the war, more than 3,000 nursing sisters had served overseas.

Image Source: Life on the Home Front

 

Sources: Canadian War Museum, The Canadian Encyclopedia, Wikipedia, and South Peace Regional Archives

10 Books About World War I

Above photograph: H.P. Keith sitting in front of his tent, reading, ca. 1915 (SPRA 282.13, cropped from original)

Hindsight is 20/20, or so the old saying goes. Here are ten books about the Great War experience. Some are general histories while others delve into specific aspects of the war. The authors used a variety of documents to explore a wide range of ideas and topics related to the period.  Most of these books are available at the Grande Prairie Public Library, and the call number is listed at the end of the title.

Canada’s Great War Album: Our Memories of the First World War

edited by Mark Collin Reid, Canada’s History Magazine, 940.371 CAN

This is an intensely beautiful book and not just because of the large collection of personal photographs and documents prominently displayed throughout. In 2012, Canada’s History Magazine called for contributions from the public for their stories and photographs about the Great War. Organized by topic, each chapter features an essay by an established historian, writer, or journalist, including Charlotte Gray, Tim Cook, and Peter Mansbridge along with accompanying images. While the book does provide a brief timeline of major events, this is really the story of the people who lived through this terrible conflict.

For King and Kanata: Canadian Indians and the First World War

by Timothy C. Winegard, 940.3089 WIN

Timothy Winegard chose the word “Indian” carefully in this text. Noting that it was the common terminology of the time, used by Whites and Indians alike, Winegard also makes clear that this history does not include non-status Indians, Métis, or Inuit Canadians, all communities now contained within the terms Indigenous or Aboriginal. Nor does it include many status Indians who “snuck into” the army in the early days of the war or Indians from the Northern Territories. As he clearly lays out, Indians were not initially welcomed with open arms and when they finally were, they were carefully documented. But only status Indians. For this reason, Winegard limits his analysis to the experience of “Indians.”

Winegard explores the racism, acceptance, and mythology surrounding Indian soldiers and their shameful treatment upon their return home from the war. He does this with an examination of official documents and personal stories. The many images featured throughout help personalize the story of these men and certainly helped me to better visualize and conceptualize the contributions they made in the war effort. It also sheds light on the beginnings of Indian activism following the war.  This book is highly recommended for anyone wanting a deeper understanding of both Canada’s role in the Great War and the conflicted relationship between White and Indian Canadians.

Three Day Road

by Joseph Boyden, FNMI BOY

The main narrative of this novel takes place after the war as a physically and spiritually wounded Xavier recounts his war experiences on a three-day healing journey. Xavier’s narrative shows two extreme reactions to the horrors of war: his growing dread and his friend Elijah’s growing relish for the death and destruction. The novel was inspired in part by real-life aboriginal World War I heroes Francis Pegahmagabow and John Shiwak.

In the course of the novel, Xavier’s aunt Niska recounts her own tale of the death and destruction of her way of life. I would highly recommend reading both For King and Kanata and Three Day Road for a better understanding of the war and its aftermath in Indigenous communities.

A Doctor in the Great War

by Andrew Davidson, 940.40092 DAV

Based on three photo albums left to the family by his grandfather, Andrew Davidson presents a beautiful written account of Dr. Frederick Davidson’s experience as a doctor in the British Army. Davidson never met his grandfather, who died shortly before his birth. Bequeathed the albums, along with a set of binoculars, Davidson was prodded for years by friends to do something with them. That something was this book. Lacking his grandfather’s personal testimony, beyond the photographs, Davidson turned to official government records, secondary sources, and published and unpublished memoirs, letters, and diaries, to piece together this beautifully crafted account of one man’s life in the Great War.

Of course, like any life story, it contains many life stories intersecting throughout and Davidson takes pains to include many anecdotes about the men his grandfather befriended. Along with the images, this is a very personal account of the war in the trenches through the eyes of a man not there to take lives but to save them.

The Wars

by Timothy Findley, CLA PB FIN

Written by thespian turned author, Timothy Findley, this is one of my favourite books. The narrative is told in first, second, and third person and moves back and forth in time as a historian tries to piece together the story of Robert Ross, a physically capable but emotionally scarred young man who enlists in the First World War. Ross, like many of his contemporaries, does not weather the war well, breaking down fatally and tragically. The novel examines the traumatic effect the war had on his already troubled psyche and challenges assumption and universality of military comradery. My favourite line in this book, which I’m going to paraphrase, comes from one of Ross’s friends while visiting him at his trench: “I retain the human right to be horrified by all that I see.”

The Journal of Private Fraser, 1914-1918: Canadian Expeditionary Force

by Donald Fraser, 940.4817 FRA

Private Donald Fraser writes vividly of his wartime experiences in this war diary. Like most soldiers of the initial Canadian Expeditionary Force, Fraser was an immigrant who enlisted early to fight for King and country. He served until wounded at Passchendaele. This is a no-holds-barred first person account of training and life in the trenches.

Drawing Fire: The Diary of a Great War Soldier and Artist

by Len Smith

Note: this book is not available through the library, but used copies can be purchased at reasonable prices through Bookfinder or AbeBooks and it is a worthy addition to your personal collection – too good to miss!

This is probably one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. Illustrated by Len Smith, a British soldier and artist, the book features exact reproductions of his handwritten memoirs. Most of the handwriting is replaced by a regular font but some pages are reproduced in the original to get a feel for his style of writing. The book is interspersed with Len’s original drawings and memorabilia.

Len kept his diary on scraps of papers hidden in his pants, which he later collected and wrote out in long hand. Len notes in his introduction that he made no corrections or additions, wanting the reader to feel the immediacy of his original words. And you do. With his sense of humour and his generous understanding of the emotional toll on his fellow soldiers, Len comes across as a gentle and practical person. He was also ingenious, as his artwork sprinkled throughout and accounts of creative endeavours for the war effort will testify. My favourite inventions are the two-yard panoramic map of the enemy troop lines at Vimy Ridge which he created while dodging front-line enemy fire; and the fake, hollow spy tree. Len had crawled within yards of the enemy line to draw a real dead tree in exact detail. He recreated the tree with stairs inside and a window for the observers. During the night, the real tree was removed and the fake tree installed, along with an underground tunnel leading to the tree.

What Len has produced here is nothing short of miraculous and it is baffling that he is so relatively unknown and undecorated. The best way to rectify this injustice is to read this book.

inside “Drawing Fire”

In Fear of the Barbed Wired Fence: Canada’s First National Internment Operations and the Ukrainian Canadians, 1914-1920

by Lubomyr Luciuk, 940.31771 LUC  or read it online

While Canadians were fighting the good fight for democracy overseas, fear led to some very undemocratic activity against one particular group of Canadians. Luciuk illuminates this dark chapter of Canada’s war experience largely through the judicious use of photographs, letters, newspaper clippings and official documents. The actually text in the book is fairly brief, with the images and the footnotes taking up the bulk of the book. The footnotes, however, pack a lot of informational punch. For me, the most telling testament of the prejudice of the time occurs on page 98: “… as many as 10,000 Ukrainian Canadians volunteered for service…From among the Canadian volunteers, all men with German names were, on orders received from the War Office, placed under arrest…” This seems like duplicity of the worst kind. I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to understand how fear compromises our democratic ideals.

First World War for Dummies

by Dr. Seán Lang, 940.4 LAN

I guess there really is a Dummies book for everything. For those of us who are chronologically challenged, this is a great starter book. It is based on the British and European experience, but it lays out concisely and in an easy to follow format the events and issues leading up to the war, social changes during the war, the experience of women and civilians, the aftermath, and finally, how we remember the war. The book is text heavy but still an easy read. The format lends itself to quick dives in and out so it doesn’t feel overwhelming. The last chapter includes four top ten lists for generals (including our very own Sir Arthur Currie), films, wartime writers, and enlightening places to visit.

Clio’s Warriors: Canadian Historians and the Writing of the World Wars

by Tim Cook, 940.41271 COO; and “The Great War, Archives, and Modern Memory,” Archivaria 46,  by Robert McIntosh

Okay, I’m fudging a bit here on the book part. Cook’s book examines the why and how of what we know about both World Wars. The first two chapters of this book are relevant to the First War. They explain the great chain of activity set in motion largely by two men – Sir Arthur Doughty, First Dominion Archivist, and Max Aitken, First Baron of Beaverbrook – that led to the intense document creation and collection researchers rely on today to study the Great War. Cook’s book places more emphasis on Aitken’s contribution to our military documentary heritage while McIntosh’s essay gives both men fairly equal weight. Besides helping us to understand the fluid role of archivists, document creation, and historical activity, these two works also help us to understand why and how World War I helped forge our distinct Canadian identity.

On a side note, McIntosh writes absolutely the best sentence to sum up the Great War: “The war’s most immediate consequence was mass bereavement.”

Lest we forget.

10 Great War Battles Every Canadian Should Know

Second Battle of Ypres (April 1915)

Ypres was the only significant Belgian town remaining in Allied hands, and it was here that the Canadians took part in their first major engagement. It was also at Ypres that the Germans launched the first gas attack of the war. The Canadian troops earned the reputation of being staunch and stalwart soldiers, but at the cost of some 6,000 soldiers over the course of the four day battle. Also of note, In Flanders Fields was penned by John McCrae at the Second Battle of Ypres.

For more information on the Second Battle of Ypres, visit Ypres: The Cost of Valour.

Image source: All About Canadian History

Soldiers wearing early gas masks

St. Eloi Craters (April 1916)

When the Canadian troops arrived to relieve the British, they found few trenches to occupy, but rather inhabited the enormous mud-filled mine craters. After two weeks under heavy enemy fire, aerial photographs revealed the unfavorable positions and the battle was halted. No progress was made in this atrocious attack where one man reported “we were walking on dead soldiers.”

Image source: Kenora Great War Project

St. Eloi Craters

Mont Sorrel (June 1916)

In this battle, it was the Germans who attacked. Mont Sorrel was a strategic and commanding position overlooking the city of Ypres. The Canadian positions were devastated in the early days of the battle, and the Germans took over the hill. However, the Canadians were determined to gain back the ground they had lost, and with careful planning were able to do just that. The Battle of Mont Sorrel lasted almost two weeks and the Canadians suffered more than 8,000 casualties.

Image source: The Vimy Foundation

Mont Sorrel

The Somme (July – November 1916)

The Somme offensive lasted five months (though the Canadians were involved only in the final three months) and consisted of many ‘smaller’ battles, including Beaumont Hamel, Courcelette, Thiepval, Ancre Heights, and Regina Trench. The offensive ended in a complete stalemate in which each side suffered over 600,000 casualties.

For more information on the South Peace region’s contribution during the Somme offensive, visit Remembering the Somme

Image source: Canadian War Museum

An Artist’s Home on the Somme

Courcelette (September 1916)

The first time tanks were used in World War I was at Courcelette, where they accompanied the Canadian troops to assist with cutting barbed wire and subduing enemy machine gun fire. Courcelette was a rare victory for the Allies at the Somme, and was captured in one day, but cost the Canadians several thousand casualties.

Image source: Canadian War Museum

Canadian soldiers take cover behind a boiler as they storm the German stronghold at the sugar factory at Courcelette on 15 September 1916. Notice the close-quarters fighting, including the use of rifles, bayonets, and hand grenades.

Vimy Ridge (April 1917)

The Battle of Vimy Ridge is considered to have been a turning point in Canadian history. For the first time in the Great War, all four Canadian divisions were fighting together. And with meticulous planning and intense training, they were able to take the ridge that no other Allies had been able to capture. The Canadian Corps suffered close to 11,000 losses, but the victory inspired a new sense of independence and national pride that is still present in Canadians today.

For more information on the South Peace region’s contributions at Vimy Ridge, visit The 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge

Image source: The Canadian Encyclopedia

Canadian soldiers returning from Vimy Ridge in France

Hill 70 (August 1917)

In August of 1917, General Currie and his Canadian Corps were ordered to attack the city of Lens, France. But Currie considered it a far better strategy to capture the high ground just north of the city – Hill 70. He was correct. The hill was captured on the first day of the battle, and in the following four days, the Canadians withstood twenty-one German counter-attacks and held onto the hill. Lens itself, however, remained in German hands until their final retreat in 1918.

For more information on the South Peace region’s contributions at Hill 70, visit Forgotten Triumph: the Battle of Hill 70

Image source: Canadian War Museum

Canadians take a break in a captured German trench during the Battle of Hill 70 in August 1917. The soldiers on the left are scanning the sky for aircraft, while the soldier in the centre appears to be re-packing his gas respirator into the carrying pouch on his chest.

Passchendaele (October/November 1917)

Passchendaele was a horrible bog of shell holes, mud, and bodies. After months of fighting, and no success having been made, the British commander-in-chief ordered the Canadians to relieve the Australians and New Zealand troops. After careful planning, the Canadian troops attacked the ridge. The battle lasted more than two weeks and resulted in a staggering 15,654 casualties for the Canadians.

Image source: Canadian War Museum

Canadian Gunners in the Mud, Passchendaele

Canal du Nord (September 1918)

Construction of the Canal du Nord had begun in 1913, but was halted when the war began. During their retreat, the Germans flooded a large portion of the canal, leaving only a small dry section. But even that was a significant obstacle, with an embankment up to fifteen feet high. The Canadian Engineers spent almost a month building a bridge across the canal in preparation for the attack. The canal was captured, and the path was open for Allies to seize other strong points, sending the Germans into full retreat.

Image source: Wikipedia

Canadians building a bridge across the Canal du Nord, France.

 

Mons (November 1918)

The day the Canadians liberated Mons also marked the end of the war. It was from this Belgian city that the British had staged a fighting retreat at the beginning of the war, and now the Canadians had the honour of taking the city back. Rumours abounded that the war was about to end, but the Canadian Corps had been ordered to attack Mons, and so they did. The troops fought their way through town – under constant machine gun fire – and when the battle finally ceased, the civilians poured out to celebrate with their liberators.

Image source: Canadian War Museum

Canadians march through the streets of Mons on 11 November 1918

Sources: 

Canadian War Museum

The Canadian Encyclopedia

Wikipedia

10 First World War Mascots

Lady Saskatoon

When Arthur Buck enlisted in Lake Saskatoon in 1915, he donated a little brown bear – who was dubbed ‘Lady Saskatoon’ – for the company’s mascot. Unfortunately, no mention has been found of the little bear’s war experience.

Grande Prairie Herald ~ July 27, 1915

Arthur Buck makes a bear cub stand on its hind legs, ca. 1912

 

Rin Tin Tin & Nanette

These two German Shepherd puppies were rescued in France by an American corporal in 1918. He named them after the very popular French good luck charms, Rintintin and Nenette. Rin Tin Tin became a television star in the USA after the war, as did some of his descendants.


Rin Tin Tin, right, and his litter mate Nanette at a U.S. Army base in France shortly after Lee Duncan rescued them.

Source: National Museum of American History

Image Source: Pittsburgh Post Gazette

 

Winnipeg

Known as “Winnie”, this black bear cub was bought by Canadian cavalry veterinarian, Harry Colebourn, on his way to Valcartier. The cub accompanied Colebourn to England, where she resided at London Zoo. It was “Winnie” who was the inspiration for Winnie-the-Pooh.

Harry Colebourn and Winnie, 1914

Source: Wikipedia – Winnipeg

 

Cher Ami

Cher Ami was a carrier pigeon who was awarded the Croix de Guerre. On October 3, 1918, she saved the lives of 194 American soldiers by delivering her urgent message to headquarters despite having been shot through the breast, blinded in one eye, and losing a leg.

Cher Ami

Source: Wikipedia – Cher Ami
Image Source: Chemung County Library District

 

Simpson’s donkeys

During the Gallipoli campaign, Australian John Simpson spent three and a half weeks fearlessly transporting wounded soldiers on the backs of donkeys. He used at least five different donkeys, named “Duffy No. 1”, “Duffy No. 2”, “Murphy”, “Queen Elizabeth”, and “Abdul”. Simpson’s work was often done under fire, which led to his death on May 19, 1915.

Simpson (centre) with his donkey,bearing a wounded soldier.

Source: Wikipedia – John Simpson Kirkpatrick

 

Bonfire & Bonneau

John McCrae, the author of “In Flanders Fields”, was deeply affected by his war experiences. To assuage his grief, he spent long hours riding his horse, Bonfire, around the French countryside. His other special companion was his spaniel, Bonneau. Bonneau often accompanied McCrae while he made his rounds at the hospital.

John McCrae, writer of “In Flanders Fields,” stands beside his horse, Bonfire, and his dog, Bonneau. The dog would often accompany McCrae as he tended to wounded soldiers.

Source: Veterans Affairs Canada

Image Source: Canada’s Great War Album

 

Lestock

On their journey across Canada, and ultimately to Europe, the 49th Battalion stopped in Lestock, Saskatchewan. There, a well-wisher gave the men a coyote pup. They adopted him as their mascot and named him after the town. Today Lestock’s face appears in the centre of the unit’s badge.

Young Lady and Lestock, 1915

Source: Loyal Edmonton Regiment Military Museum

 

Nan

Nan, a white goat, was the mascot of the 21st Battalion. She was known throughout Belgium and France, and became the first mascot to cross the Rhine in 1918.

21st Battalion with Nan

Source: The 21st Battalion CEF

 

Togo

Little is known about Togo the cat, but the photo of him sitting inside an enormous gun on the HMS Dreadnought is quite famous. Ship’s cats were, of course, very useful for rodent control.

Togo the Cat

Source: BuzzGiraffe

 

Percy

This black cat belonged to the crew of the tank Daphne. Percy went into action with Harry Drader, one of the crew, who was later awarded the Military Cross. Percy became famous for being in the 1917 war film entitled “The Battle of the Ancre and the Advance of the Tanks”. After the war, Percy resided at the Drader home.

Percy

Source: First Tank Crews
Image Source: Cats, Chaos, & Confusion

Click here to view a video of Percy boarding a tank.