#Vimy101 – Artillery & Civilians

“Man of Canadian Forestry Corps with old French couple. February, 1919.”
Credit: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-004010.

During the First World War, as artillery technology became increasingly advanced, the ever-increasing reach of their firepower left few unscathed. It is no secret that civilians suffered greatly under the strength of artillery. Private Fraser, of the 31st (Calgary) Battalion, recorded an altercation between civilians and artillery in his journal:

“The big gun, a 12-inch… hidden in a camouflaged house, began to talk this afternoon… We watched the shells leave the gun. Although weighing 750 lbs., they shot up towards the heavens… and appeared from behind like cricket balls… the shells were soon lost to view in the clouds… as soon as the first shell was fired, a small dog bolted out of a nearby house and flew down the road… to put kilometers between it and the gun… an aged Belgian couple was passing in the vicinity of the gun when it went off, and it was pitiful to see the woman totter and stagger for several yards, due to sheer shock and fright, before she could compose herself.” (Fraser & Roy (Ed.), The Journal of Private Fraser, p. 162-163)