Category Archives: WW I

Poignant diary of World War I soldier reveals how British and German troops had ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ to warn each other about imminent shelling attacks to try to save lives

A poignant diary has come to light to reveal how British and German soldiers warned each other of shelling attacks to reduce casualties.

Both sides famously put down their weapons and walked into No Man’s Land to fraternise and play football on Christmas Day 1914.

But now the recently-discovered diary of a Tommy shows the warring sides had another little-known gentleman’s agreement with one another.


How Montreal celebrated the end of WW I, 100 years ago

Montreal’s Ste-Catherine Street on Nov. 11, 1918, as the city learned the Great War had come to an end. (Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec)

The Montreal sky was illuminated that Sunday night by northern lights — a harbinger, the newspapers would later say, of the good news to come.

In the morning, around 6 a.m., every bell, whistle and siren in the city began to sound.


The War That Made the World We Live In

This is no ordinary Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth and much of Europe, and Veterans Day in the United States. Today we mark the one hundredth anniversary of the Armistice that brought to an end the most terrible war in history. Exactly a century ago – on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month – the guns fell silent on Europe’s battlefields. The belligerents had agreed the terms of the peace at 5am that November morning, and the news was relayed to the commanders in the field shortly thereafter that hostilities would cease at eleven o’clock. And then they all went back to firing at each other for a final six hours. On that last day, British imperial forces lost some 2,400 men, the French 1,170, the Germans 4,120, the Americans about 3,000. The dead in those last hours of the Great War outnumbered the toll of D Day twenty-six years later, the difference being that those who died in 1944 were fighting to win a war whose outcome they did not know. On November 11th 1918 over eleven thousand men fell in a conflict whose victors and vanquished had already been settled and agreed.


A silence in Mons: How Canadians saw the final moments of WW I

In the days leading up to the Armistice that ended the Great War, Lance Cpl.Frank Teskey was almost killed twice by the relentless shelling of the retreating Germans.

You’d have never known it from the letter he wrote (in pencil) to his mother on Nov. 11, 1918. He made no mention of the close calls. It’s not the kind of stuff soldiers tell their families — even today.

Instead, he focused on the Canadian Army’s advance into Belgium and the outburst of joy among the people of Mons that followed the arrival of the 11 a.m. armistice.


The first culture war

As we mark the hundredth anniversary of the end of the First World War, it is clear that the moral wounds it inflicted on Western culture have not healed. Recent incidents, such as the rejection of Remembrance Day poppies by Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU), or Southampton University Students’ Union’s (SUSU) threat to paint over a mural dedicated to war heroes, are symptomatic of the sense of malaise and confusion regarding the memorialisation of the First World War.


BONOKOSKI: On our 11th hour of the 11th day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will likely be asleep

One should not visit the sins of the father upon the son, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is now off to Vietnam, flying there in the slipstream of U.S. President Donald Trump’s own trip.

This means Trudeau will not be at the War Memorial in Ottawa on Saturday, or placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, when our world stops for a few brief moments on Remembrance Day to honour the sacrifices made by past and present generations to ensure the freedoms we enjoy today.

This troubles me to no end.


Mystery Solved: Australian Sub Found After 103 Years

SYDNEY (AP) — One of Australia’s oldest naval mysteries has been solved after the discovery of the wreck of the country’s first submarine more than 103 years after its disappearance in World War I (view photos in gallery).

The AE1 vanished off the New Guinean island of New Britain on September 14, 1914, with 35 crew aboard from Australia, New Zealand and Britain.

It was the first Allied submarine loss of the war and the first wartime loss for the Royal Australian Navy, yet the exact reason for its sinking remains unclear.

More here…

h/t Exile


The story of Canada at Vimy Ridge and the high price we paid

A visit to the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in northern France (a trip every Canadian should make if they can), often starts in the tunnels at the foot of the ridge.

It was in these low, cramped underground passageways that many Canadian soldiers waited to attack the German fortifications early on Easter Monday of 1917.

At exactly 5:30 a.m., scores of artillery pieces began bombarding German positions, often only 100 metres in front of the tunnels. Engineers exploded underground mines they had buried beneath No Man’s Land between the Canadian and German forces.

Two minutes later, as the next artillery barrage landed a further 100 meters up the ridge, thousands of Canadians poured from the tunnels and began overrunning one set of German targets. Then another. And another.


Animals of War

Animals not only served as cuddly mascots that buoyed the spirits of soldiers but also acted as beasts of burden and couriers.

Cases in point:

Judy, an English Pointer who twice survived Japanese POW camps


This cat


A pack horse during the Battle of Pilckem Ridge



A century on, Lebanon rediscovers deadly famine – that affected mostly Christians

Photos by Ibrahim Naoum Kanaan document the famine that hit Lebanon between 1915 and 1918, in the midst of World War I

Lebanon is rediscovering a century-old tragedy that most had forgotten — a devastating famine, caused by blockades and a locust infestation, that killed a third of its population.

From 1915 to 1918, in the midst of World War I and before modern-day Lebanon existed, between 150,000 and 200,000 people died of malnutrition and disease, according to estimates by historians.

Those who survived the famine are long gone, but recently unearthed archives offer chilling testimonies of a time when men, women, and children fed themselves on tree bark or died by the side of the road…

…The situation worsened when “Allied forces imposed a blockade” in the Mediterranean to cut off supplies to the Ottomans, [historian Youssef Mouawad] told AFP.

But it was the land blockade ordered by high Ottoman military ruler Djemal Pasha that truly choked off Mount Lebanon, populated mostly by Maronite Christians protected by France.

The Ottomans feared the Maronites would support the Allies in the war “so they had to starve them before they were armed”, said Khalifeh, a professor at the Lebanese University…

…The famine largely fell out of Lebanon’s collective memory and official history, in part because it affected Christians more than Muslims and so did not serve as a unifying force for the young republic…

There were other factors too: it was very bad year for locusts. Still, it is yet another case where the Turks more than happy to see more Christians dead.


Turkish state, faith in clash over Gallipoli

The road leading to the village house of Turkey Gallipoli hero Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Picture: Erdum Koc

Turkey has become embroiled in its own history wars ahead of the 100th anniversary of Gallipoli as its hardline President seeks to recast the conflict as a holy war.

The Turkish government has been paying Gallipoli tour guides to give tourists a more faith-based interpretation of the conflict which celebrates a victory for Allah over the Western infidels.

The move has divided tour guides and historians, who fear it undermines the legacy of Turkey Gallipoli hero Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who later helped to found a secular Turkish republic…

…“This interpretation saw the ­ultimate victory as being a reflection in faith of the one true god rather than a campaign driven by a gifted strategist and leader of men in Ataturk”…