Each Wednesday we will highlight the women of the First World War.
Today: Munitions Workers
With the widespread enlistment of men to the war effort, Canadian industry experienced great shortages of manpower. As nearly every aspect of the Canadian economy geared itself toward wartime production, the need to fill these positions became paramount. Following the example set in the United Kingdom, jobs were opened up to women. Some of the most common images of the period include those of the female munitions workers; responsible for the manufacturing of all types and sizes of war materiel, from navy ships to artillery fuses and bullets.
Each Tuesday, we will feature a place in Canada (or international!) with a Vimy Ridge connection. Today we highlight:
Vimy Ridge Public School, Ajax ON.
In 2009, the Durham District School Board named its new public gradeschool in Ajax, Ontario, Vimy Ridge Public School, in honour of Canadian veterans and the values represented in the legacy of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The school’s motto strongly reflects that dedication: “Respect, Integrity, Courage, Honour”.
The Durham District School Board accepted submissions regarding the naming of the school, deciding to recognize the significance of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in the forging of the Canadian identity.
At Vimy Ridge P.S., the Vimy Squadron pursues a shared vision of excellence in citizenship and achievement. This is accomplished by fostering leadership in all members of the school community; teachers, parents, and students. With a curriculum and culture that embeds the RICH qualities of respect, integrity, courage and honour, the school embodies the belief that all members of the community have the potential of being Everyday Heroes, acting as powerful agents of change and making a significantly positive impact on our community and the world.
Since the school opened, the focus on being everyday heroes has empowered students and made Vimy Ridge a safer, more caring school. Each year, the Vimy Squadron continues to develop Everyday Heroes and, in turn, a growing sense of community by making history every day.
Every year on, or close to April 9th, the school commemorates the Battle of Vimy Ridge with a candlelight ceremony. This year, the school will have two ceremonies: one on April 9th for the school community, and one for students on April 13th. Staff, students, community and honoured guests, including members of the Royal Canadian Legion and the Canadian Corps Association, will remember, honour, and connect to the events 100 years ago. Just as the four divisions of the Canadian Corps planned and worked together to achieve what was thought to be impossible, staff and students at Vimy Ridge Public School work together to create a shared vision of what they wish the world to be.
Each Monday, we will share a brief biography of a soldier of the First World War with a Vimy connection. Today we honour Sachimaro Morooka.
Sachimaro Morooka was born in Tokyo on November 3, 1883. In 1906, he arrived in Canada settling in British Columbia where he worked as a fisherman along the Skeena River. In 1916 he enlisted with the 175th Battalion (Medicine Hat) in Calgary, Alberta in an effort to avoid the racial prejudice prevalent against the Japanese in British Columbia. The 175th arrived in France in 1916 and its men were absorbed into other Battalions as reinforcements.
Morooka fought at the Battle of Vimy Ridge with the 50th Battalion (Calgary), attacking Hill 145. During the attack he was hit by shrapnel from a rifle grenade through the right thigh, fracturing his femur, and was sent to hospital in England. While there, King George V and Queen Mary visited the hospital where Morooka was staying. A chance meeting, King George V was fascinated by Morooka and asked many questions of him: “Are you Japanese? Can you speak English? How is your wound? When did you join the Canadian Army?” Morooka was sent back to Canada due to the severity of his wounds and later wrote a memoir of his role in the war, titled “At the Battle of Arras” (Japanese Title: Arasu Sensen E).
Each Sunday we will share a story of Remembrance. Part IV – Building The Vimy Memorial
With the arrival of the first shipments of Seget limestone in France, sculpting could finally begin for the Vimy Memorial in 1927. The blocks were first cut to size in work shops on the ground before being hoisted into position; the figures of the memorial were only sculpted once set in place atop the memorial. This required the construction of extensive studios, encircling the memorial’s two pylons and suspended nearly 200 feet in the air. A pantograph was used by the sculptors to reproduce Allward’s plaster models to scale.
Each Saturday, we’ll share some reflections from our past student participants about the impact of their visit to Vimy Ridge and other sites of the First World War.
A number of weeks ago, we learned that approximately 29% of Canadians are descendants of First World War servicemen. In 2014, Beaverbrook Vimy Prize recipient Brandon Taschuk faced the significance of that fact when he explored the battlefield of Passchendaele. In those muddy fields 100 years ago, his great-great-grandfather nearly never made it home: “one of the battles he fought at was the battle of Passchendaele… During an explosion he was flung face-first into one of the many mud bogs. Being a short man, only 5’2″, he was nearly completely enveloped in the mud. His death by drowning was imminent it seemed. But, one of his companions noticed his rather small boots sticking out of the mud, and recognized them as his. He was able to save my great-great grandfather, Benjamin Loney, and because of the Vimy Foundation I was able to stand where my family line almost ended. Not only did I get to walk through the battlefields my ancestor fought at, I also got to walk through the place that could have been the end of my existence, before it even began. I wish words could describe the feelings this trip gave me, but there are no words to describe the intense emotions I experienced and continue to foster after the trip. I only wish that you truly know how thankful I am.”
Credit: Personnel Records of the First World War, Library and Archives Canada, Reference Number: RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 5723 – 22. Item Number: 535649.
Reflecting on last week’s poll, (which revealed that 52% of Canadians felt Canada was doing enough to commemorate the centennial anniversaries of the First World War, while only 25% of Canadians say they’ve attended a war remembrance ceremony in the past 12 months), it is interesting to note that Canadians trail a number of fellow combatant nations in saying that they remember learning about the First World War in school. Two thirds (66%) of Canadians and those in Great Britain (64%) remember learning about the First World War in school, behind those in Germany (70%), the USA (72%), France (78%) and Belgium (80%).
Each Thursday, we run a social media contest! Share with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and you can win a Vimy Prize Pack each week! Contest for Thursday, February 23, 2017:
Over the past few weeks, we have been discovering places in Canada with a unique First World War connection. Has your community made a similar dedication? Share a photo of your community’s unique First World War connection!
Comment on our Facebook post, Instagram post, or tweet at us by 11:59pm PT on Thursday, Feb 23 with a photo of your community’s unique First World War connection. Only one submission permitted per account per platform (i.e. if you have an account on both Facebook and Twitter you can enter twice; you cannot submit two entries through Facebook). One winner will be chosen at random from all eligible entries received during the time period on all platforms. The winner will be contacted on Friday February 24, 2017! These contests are not sponsored by Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
Each Wednesday we will highlight the women of the First World War. Today:
Nursing Sister Margaret Lowe
In 1904, the Canadian Militia established the Canadian Army Medical Corps, equipping a very small, but permanent, nursing service. Distinct from all other countries, Canada commissioned its nurses with the rank of “Nursing Sisters”, granting them the equivalent of a lieutenant’s rank. In 1914, only five nurses were on staff. By war’s end, 2,845 nurses had served with the Canadian Army. Nursing Sisters staffed the Canadian General Hospitals that were created behind the front lines in Europe. They assisted in surgery rooms, performed triage, dressed wounds, fed, and cared for the wounded. In close proximity to the front, they were not immune to the dangers of shells and bombs. Nursing Sister Margaret Lowe, of Binscarth, Manitoba enlisted with the Canadian Army Nursing Service in 1917. She was killed when a German air raid bombed the 1st Canadian General Hospital at Etaples, France in May 1918.
Each Tuesday, we will feature a place in Canada (or internationally!) with a Vimy Ridge connection. Today we highlight:
Valour Road, Winnipeg MB
Similar to the Memorial Avenues honouring the fallen across the country, Valour Road in Winnipeg was dedicated to three sons of the city, but with a particular twist. In 1925, Winnipeg’s Pine Street was renamed Valour Road, in honour of its three former occupants, all of whom received the Victoria Cross in the First World War. Sergeant-Major Frederick William Hall (1915), Corporal Leo Clarke (1916) and Lieutenant Robert Shankland (1917) were awarded the Victoria Cross at different points of the war, but all called Pine Street home when they first enlisted. Sadly, Shankland was the only one of the three to survive the war, seeing action at Vimy Ridge and serving again in the Second World War. In recent years, the story of the three men from Valour Road was featured in a Historica Canada Heritage Minute. Their medals are held by the Canadian War Museum.
Each Monday, we will share a brief biography of a soldier of the First World War with a Vimy connection. Today we honour:
General Andrew George Latta McNaughton, CH CB CMG DSO CD PC
Andrew McNaughton of Moosimin, Northwest Territories (present-day Saskatchewan), was a professor of engineering at McGill University. In 1914, he took command of the 4th Battery of Canadian Field Artillery and arrived in France in February 1915. McNaughton’s engineering background enabled him to have a profound impact on the development of gunnery during the war. In preparation for the Battle of Vimy Ridge, McNaughton improved the concepts of “spot-flashing” and “sound-ranging”. These methods used the flash of firing guns and their explosive report to mathematically triangulate their location on the battlefield, providing targets for counter-battery. This enabled the Allied artillery to effectively neutralize nearly all German artillery positions prior to the launch of attack on 9 April 1917. By the end of the war, McNaughton held the command of all the Canadian Corps Heavy Artillery and Counter-Battery units. McNaughton’s work in counter-battery led to his invention of the cathode ray direction finder, an early form of RADAR. He sold the rights of the invention to the Government of Canada for just $1. McNaughton remained in the Permanent Force after the war, achieved numerous commands again during the Second World War, and fulfilled roles as a diplomat and public figure for two decades until his death in 1966.