Canada Enters WW1 Battle of Ypres 6,035 Canadians died in two days. By February 1915 the Canadians troops had finished their training in England and joined the British and French troops in Belgium. On April 22nd German unleashed a secret weapon – deadly green chlorine gas. Many French soldiers chocked to death while others ran to safety. Throughout the night the Canadians fought on the front line against the Germans. Thousands of soldiers died but many soldiers managed to hang on for the next day and night. On the third day the Germans made another gas attack directly on the Canadians. They held the line for 16 days until reinforcements came. The Battle of the Somme The Allies had learned about gas at Ypres so they now had gas masks. They also had steel helmets which were new. By 1916 the German lines were still not breaking. The Allied commanders decided to attack and use all their men and ammunitions. They wanted to break through around the area of the Somme River in Northern France. Beaumont Hamel On July 1st 1916 in broad daylight 100,000 Allied soldiers marched slowly shoulder to shoulder in a straight line towards the German trenches. German machine guns cut them down as they approached – 38,230 Allied soldiers were wounded and 19,240 were killed in one day. Near the town of Beaumont Hamel, the Newfoundland Regiment was almost entirely wiped out. Out of 801, only 68 made it. To this day, July 1st is a day of remembrance in Newfoundland. The Battle Continues The Battle of the Somme went on for 141 days of desperate fighting. By November the rain had turned the battlefields into bogs and both sides slowly stopped firing as they were all too exhausted. The allies advanced only 11 kms in total and about 200,000 Allied soldiers were killed, including about 8,000 Canadians. Canadian Pride The British noticed the bravery of the Canadians and after the Battle of the Somme Canadians were often chose to lead attacks. Others had the opinion that the British forces were just using Canadians so that the British soldiers wouldn’t be killed. The Battle of Vimy Ridge Early in 1917 the Allies again decided to try to “push through” the Western Front with a major attack. The French, British, and Canadians were each assigned different jobs. The Canadians were supposed to take over Vimy Ridge in Northern France. It would be the first time all Canadians fought together in one place. Vimy Ridge was a hill that Germans had built up and was well protected and supplied. It had a network of trenches protected with barbed wire, machine guns and heavier guns that could attack the enemy troops before they were even close to the hill. They had installed electric lights and a small railway to bring in supplied. British and French troops had tried to take Vimy Ridge before but had failed. A Planned Assault The head of British and Canadian forces wanted to avoid direct attack that had been a disaster at the Somme. They came up with an unusual plan and built a model of Vimy Ridge so they could practice. The Canadians started by bombarding the Ridge with heavy artillery fire but then they made a surprise attack… The Attack On April 9th 1917, in the middle of a sleet storm, Canadian soldiers crept up the hill in the middle of their own exploding shells. They surprised the Germans in their trenches and in a few hours the ridge was taken. On the day, more ground, guns, and German prisoners were taken than in all the earlier years of the war. However, Canadians paid the price – 3,598 were killed and about 6,000 were wounded. Question You have heard lots of information about Canada and Newfoundland’s role in the First World War. What do you think about war? What kinds of issues are worth fighting for? Activity Ask yourself – do you think war is ever a good idea? Do you think war is an appropriate action in some circumstances or is war never the answer? Dulce et Decorum Est Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs And towards our distant rest began to trudge. Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots but limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind; Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind. Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling, Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time; But someone still was yelling out and stumbling, And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime… Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light, As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning. If in some smothering dreams you too could pace Behind the wagon that we flung him in, And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin; If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, My friend, you would not tell with such high zest To children ardent for some desperate glory, The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est pro patria mori. -Wilfred Owen, March 1918 Question: The line “Dulce et Decorum est pro patria mori” translates in Latin to “It is sweet and right to die for one’s country.” After reading this poem, what do you think Owen’s opinion of war is? Activity Option #1: Write a paragraph explaining how this poem made you feel. Were there any lines or images that stuck out in your head? Do you agree or disagree with Owen’s opinion of war? Option #2: Write your own poem as a response to Owen’s poem. It can be a traditional (rhyming) poem, an acrostic poem, a haiku or free verse poem. On the Home Front Everyone is affected when a country is at war. The men and women in battle are most affected, but the families on the “home front” as well. How do you think WW1 affected Canadians at home? Victory Bonds The Government of Canada sold Victory Bonds to raise money for the way. People would buy 5, 10 or 20 year certificates. If you bought a bond you would get your money back with interest after the time was up. Look at these advertisements for Victory Bonds and think about what message they are trying to get across. Video Clips On the Home Front Supporting the War at Home The Role of Women in WW1 Choosing Not to Fight Not all men in Canada volunteered to fight. Some believed they were needed more at home, to work in industries that were important to the war effort or to stay at home with their families. Other men also objected to the war for personal or religious reasons. Reasons For Not Fighting No matter the reason for not enlisting, a man who did not volunteer often found people thought less of him. Many men noticed that his friends ignored him. Women would sometimes come up to men on the street and hand them a white feather if they weren’t enlisted – a symbol of cowardice. Activity Imagine the point of view of both men who enlisted and men who didn’t enlist. You will be given one of these roles and asked to write a short journal entry expressing your frustration of the situation. Women Take Charge With so many men away at war, it was up to women to keep the country running and support their families. Many women started doing jobs that would have only been for men before the war. Women often held parties and dances to raise money for the war. Women all over also worked together to make things for soldiers on the front line – they made and send items such as clothing, wrapped bandages, soap and candies. At home, women tried to use a few goods and food as possible so that as many resources could be used for the soldiers as possible. Many families planted “Victory Gardens” so they could grow their own vegetables. They also cut back on meat, flour and sugar. Almost everything they needed was rationed by the government. When something is rationed you can only buy a small amount of it. It was hard to make due with less but women took pride in contributing to the war effort. Young People in War Young people were also very affected by the war. Many children had fathers who went to war and were either killed or injured badly, changing their family forever. When the fathers were away families had less income. Often aunts and grandparents would help care for children. Some children were sent to orphanages because mothers could not manage on their own. It was the idea that children would rejoin their family after the war. Helping out with the War Effort Many children still went to work or school but also helped out with the war effort if they could. With their mother’s working, girls had to do more chores at home such as cooking, cleaning and taking care of younger children. Girls worked with their moms to make supplies for soldiers. In fishing families, many young boys had to do more work than most grown men usually would. Children were often let out of school early to help with chores. A Child’s View Most children became very interested in the details of the war. Battles were marked out on maps and children learned the names of designs of airplanes, tanks and ships. Boys who were 12 or older were also asked to join Cadets. In Cadets boys learned to handle rifles and did drills to become fit. The Halifax Explosion The Halifax Explosion occurred in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the morning of December 6, 1917. SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship fully loaded with wartime explosives, was involved in a collision with the Norwegian vessel SS Imo. Approximately twenty minutes later, a fire on board the French ship ignited her explosive cargo, causing an explosion that devastated the Richmond District of Halifax. Approximately 2,000 people were killed by debris, fires, and collapsed buildings, and it is estimated that nearly 9,000 others were injured. The blast was the largest man-made explosion prior to the development of nuclear weapons. It is estimated the blast came from about 2,400 tons of high explosive. Mont-Blanc was under orders from the French government to carry her highly explosive cargo overseas to Bordeaux, France. At roughly 8:45 am, she collided at slow speed (one to one and a half miles per hour) with the 'in-ballast' (without cargo) Imo. The fire aboard the French ship quickly grew out of control. Without accessible firefighting equipment, the captain, pilot, officers and men were forced to abandon her within a few minutes following the accident. Approximately 20 minutes later, MontBlanc exploded with tremendous force. Nearly all structures within a half-mile, including the entire community of Richmond, were completely destroyed. A pressure wave of air snapped trees, bent iron rails, demolished buildings, and carried fragments of the Mont-Blanc for several kilometers. Hardly a window in the city survived. Across the harbor, in Dartmouth, there was also widespread damage. A tsunami created by the blast wiped out the community of Mi'kmaq First Nations. There were a number of casualties including five children who drowned in the tsunami. Video Clip Shattered City – The Halifax Explosion (this one doesn’t have scary noises or music!) A Booming Economy Before the war Canadian and Newfoundland economies were not doing well. A lot of people did not have jobs and there was little help with poverty. The war changed all that. Suddenly there was a great demand for workers at home because so many supplies were needed for soldiers. There was also many job openings because so many men were away at war. Feeding the Allies The farms, fields and orchards became battlefields during the war. Britain relied on Canada to produce grain, dairy and meat for the troops as well as other countries. Fish from Newfoundland and other fishing provinces was also in high demand. The demand for products were great for farmers – prices were high and they could sell anything they could grow, raise or catch. The Munitions Industry During the war factories were set up to manufacture weapons and ammunition. At first, the rifles, bombs and shells that were produced were made slowly and were low quality. This was a problem for two reasons – Britain was relying on Canada for the weapons and the poor quality of them put the soldiers in danger. The government formed the Imperial Munitions Board to help Canada get organized and produce better weapons. By the end of the war there were 600 factories with 250,000 employees. After the war the factories were reorganized for other kinds of manufacturing, which was a big help to Canada’s economy. Profiteering One reason people go into business is to make money. When there is a crisis, such as a war, the demand for many products such as food and weapons. People need these products so bad that they will pay a lot of money for them. That leaves the business owner with a decision to make about how much to charge. Many Canadians felt that a lot of business owners were profiteering – charging an unfair price for their products. They demanded that the government do something about it. On 1917, the government started taxing business products. Even after this tax was put in place many Canadians still felt that business owners were benefitting from the war more than they should and were putting their needs above the good of Canada. Enemy Aliens According to the War Measures Act, an enemy alien was anyone who was born in a country that was against the Allies in the war. This included thousands of German and Ukrainian families who had been encouraged to immigrate to Canada. Suddenly, these people were considered to be the enemy. Many enemy aliens found it hard to start businesses or get hired. Enemy Aliens had to register with the police and report on a regular basis – they did not have the same freedoms as Canadians. The government also made it illegal to publish books in “enemy” languages and took away their right to vote. Internment Camps Worst of all, 8,597 enemy aliens were sent to internment camps in Northern Quebec and Ontario. Many men were sent here simply because they were out of work and they were out of work only because of discrimination. Conditions at the camps were very poor. Men had to build roads and bridges and clear brush. They were poorly clothed and housed and worked long hours and had almost nothing in wages. Conscription By the Spring of 1917, fewer and fewer men were enlisting in the army. The forces were so short on men that the soldiers who had been wounded were being sent back to the front lines before they were better. Conscription is when a person is forced to enlist whether or not he or she is willing to. Reasons For Not Signing Up Farming, ranching and fishing families could not spare any more young people. People knew that one out of three soldiers who went into battle would be wounded or killed. They no longer saw the war as glamorous and stopped believing men were cowards if they didn’t enlist. There were good opportunities at home. Wages were high and it was easy to get a job. In both Canada and Newfoundland, many members of government believed it was time to bring in conscription. Conscription was not a popular idea and many rural communities believed they could not survive if more men had to go to war. French Canadians were almost totally against the idea. Most members of Borden’s Conservative government were in favor of conscription, but many Liberals and French Canadians were against it. Borden could not make conscription legal without getting a majority of the members of Parliament to vote in favor of it. Borden tried to form a coalition government – when different parties work together to get a majority vote. Liberal leader, Wilfred Laurier wasn’t interested in a coalition government but Borden did manage to get most EnglishCanadian Liberals to join his side and create what was called the Union Government. Conscription Passed The support of the Union Government gave Borden enough votes to pass the Military Service Act in August 1917. This allowed the government to force healthy men, ages 20-45, to serve in the war as long as they were not needed in war industries or were not conscientious objectors. Conscientious objectors are people who claim to right to refuse military service on the grounds of freedom of thought, conscious or religion. Armistice By the time the conscripted Canadian and Newfoundland recruits had been organized and trained, only a small number actually ended up going to battle. To the great relief of the world, the Allies and Central Powers agreed to end the war at 11:00 am on November 11th, 1918. This event was referred to as an armistice, which is a kind of truce. In fact, the Allies had won. The troops could go home. Long Term Effects of WW1 The cost of the war caused the government to go deeply into dept. There was little money to build the economy and many people had hard times. In both Canada and Newfoundland, disagreements over issues such as conscription caused long-lasting political conflicts. Because of its contribution to war, Canada received greater respect from other nations. Despite its heroic efforts, Newfoundland was not invited to the peace conferences after the war. Because of this, combined with the many causalities and debt, Newfoundland did not have a strong, independent future. Aboriginal people were still discriminated against after the war. Aboriginals did note received benefits such as land grants and pensions like other veterans and actually had land taken from them. African-Canadians were also discriminated against, but their accomplishments in the war helped to break down some barriers.