World War I

Some Notes on the Minor Tactics of Trench Warfare

A Brigade Major of the Corps of Royal Engineers presents a thorough overview of trench warfare tactics, emphasizing the cooperation between infantry and engineers.

The 240th Battalion re-forms

Survivors of the 240th Battalion, formed in 1916 in eastern Ontario, came together in Renfrew, Ontario, thirty-two years after the end of the First World War.

An RFC cadet at Christmas

James Meston, training with the Royal Flying Corps in England, sent this card to his family in London, Ontario, from his billet at Jesus College, Oxford.

Vimy Pilgrims in London

This memorial service, at the Cenotaph in London, was convened as part of the Vimy Pilgrimage of 1936.

Sunday School in wartime

Services such as this one were intended to ensure that children understood the meaning and significance of the First World War in its religious context.

View PDF: PDF icon Loyalty.pdf

Rations for a soldier on leave

Soldiers on leave were issued with ration books so that they did not have to consume the rations of their civilian hosts.

War Memorial, Dundas, Ontario

The monument in Dundas honoured the dead of the South African War as well as the First World War, and featured a soldier figure by sculptor Hamilton MacCarthy.

Christmas Dinner, 1918

The staff of the Canadian Discharge Depot at Buxton made the 1918 Christmas festivities as pleasant as possible, in the full knowledge that the soldiers were desperately keen to get home.

War Memorial Children's Hospital

The War Memorial Children's Hospital of London, Ontario, opened in 1921, issued a report and plea for donations each year.

A soldier's funeral

Gilbert Thomas of Lucknow, Ontario, died of disease not long after he enlisted in the 5th University Company, and his body was brought home for burial.

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A Canadian's message home

A sentimental verse from early in the First World War, inspired by Robert Burns' famous poem "Auld Lang Syne."

Church service for soldiers

This order of service for use in military training camps began with the exhortation "All are requested to join heartily in the Prayers, Psalm, Creed and Hymns."

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Harold Bailey, Melfort, Saskatchewan

Harold Bailey was born in Perth County, Ontario, but was living in Melfort, Saskatchewan, when he enlisted with the 1st Contingent early in the First World War. Over the next five years, he sent a series of postcards to various family members, who carefully preserved them until his return to Canada in 1919.

In praise of Canadian manhood

A Canadian soldier sent this postcard, with its verse tribute to soldierly masculinity, home to his mother in 1916.

Canadian Defence and the Navy Question

Beginning in 1890s, Canadians had weighed in on the naval question, an increasingly contentious issue with no clear national consensus that contributed to the fall of the Wilfrid Laurier government in 1911. This pamphlet notes the re-emergence of the naval issue as a central topic of debate early in the First World War as Canadians confronted the immediate problem of defence.

How the officers eat ...

George Parker, a barber who enlisted in the CEF in September 1915, writes to his wife about his work procuring food for the officers' mess of his unit.

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The British lion triumphs

This postcard, showing the British lion mastering the German eagle, was a generic design - the word "Canadians" could be replaced with the name of another nationality or unit.

Scoring on the Kaiser

During the First World War, it was common to draw the connection between sport and war - as in the postcard featuring a Union Jack soccer ball.

The Imperial family

The relationship between Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, as seen by a First World War graphic artist.

Military Pass, 1917

Fleetwood Berry of Meaford, Ontario, was issued this pass to absent from his barracks in Toronto in 1917. Similar passes were issued to soldiers going on leave.