My Grandfather, who I never knew,
a member of the Canadian Mounted Rifles,
during the 1st World War.
He was gassed at the battle of Yrpes.
it is also the story of all the Canadian soldiers
who fought and died at the battle of Ypres...
You might be able to argue
that the First World War
started on the 22nd of April, 1915.
Up to that point, what had occurred was a series
of well known 19th Century encounters
that had gone very wrong.
But on the 22nd of April, not far from
the city of Ypres, the Germans did something new.
They opened cylinders of poison gas
to try to break through the defensive
strength of the allies on the other side.
French and Canadian troops were hit by this gas,
this chlorine gas, and were terrified.
These were men without any protection against this
type of attack because it had never happened before.
These were not shells,
these were cylinders that had been lined up,
when the German troops thought that the wind was
blowing the right way, the cloud opened
looking very much like a green cloud.
It was a cloud of Death.
The people who didn't escape
would have their lungs burned
out and die a horrible death.
were called upon to contribute to the effort
required for the First World War.
That Canada was automatically at war when Britain was at war in 1914
was un-questioned from coast to coast, in a spirit of almost unbelievable
unanimity, Canadians pledged support for the Motherland. Sir Wilfred
Laurier spoke for the majority of Canadians when he proclaimed: "It is our
duty to let Great Britain know and to let the friends and foes of Great
Britain know that there is in Canada but one mind and one heart and that
all Canadians are behind the Mother Country." Prime Minister Robert
Borden, calling for a supreme national effort, offered Canadian assistance
to Great Britain. The offer was accepted, and immediately orders were
given for the mobilization of an expeditionary force.
With a regular army of only 3,110 men and a fledgling
navy, Canada was
On reaching England the Canadians endured a long
The first Canadian troops to arrive in France were the
Early in February 1915 the 1st Canadian Division
reached France, and was
In the first week of April 1915 the Canadian troops were moved from their
quiet sector to a bulge in the Allied line in front of the City of Ypres. On
the Canadian right were two British divisions, and on their left a French
division, the 45th Algerian.
Here on April 22 the Germans sought to break the
stalemate by introducing
In addition they mounted a counter-attack to drive
The grimmer battle of St. Julien lay ahead. On April
24 the Germans
Thus, in their first appearance on a European battlefield,
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Canada's Hundred Days