This Remembrance Day I pause to think about the contribution of armed forces’ service personnel to this Canada that I love. I think especially about the personnel files of Second World War Dead that I reviewed at Library and Archives Canada in 2012, documents that are some of the only lasting information about the regular men and boys who were killed in the air and on the sea and at Hong Kong, Dieppe, Sicily, Italy, D-Day, and the North-West Europe Campaign. They served in every capacity and died on the front-lines and far in the rear in every way imaginable. I think of the roughly 46,000 that this small selection was drawn from.
This year I also think of the roughly 66,000 personnel of the Canadian Expeditionary Force who died on service 1914-1918. Many of these soldiers were killed or mortally wounded by the implements of war that my site attempts to explore. Infantry died in the front lines, from high explosive, shrapnel, machine gun fire, grenades, rifle fire, mortar rounds, or chemical warfare. Gunners died from counter-battery fire or aerial bombardments, or at the hands of advancing infantry. Courageous young Canadians in the RFC, RNAS, or RAF died in aerial battles sparring against the Kaiser’s flyers. I hope for the day when Canadians’ only knowledge of war would come through their discovery of relics, faded photos and musty files.