Find-Share-Discuss: September/October 2013

Ankle deep in water and mud, August 1918.

Retired major Robert Gillan of Surrey, B.C., shares two photos of his grandfather, Corporal Thomas Gillan, taken during the First World War.

Corporal Thomas Gillian (centre) and other soldiers standing in muddy water.

Gillan says his grandfather served with 9 Field Ambulance of the Canadian Army Medical Corps. He believes the photo, showing Cpl. Gillan (centre) and other soldiers standing in muddy water, was probably taken near Arras, France, where the unit was located in 1918. “They were difficult conditions for a medical unit to operate under to say the least,” offers Gillan. “Note the field kitchen in the background at right.”

Portrait of Corporal Thomas Gillan.

The portrait of Cpl. Gillan was taken in Perth, Scotland, while he was on leave to visit his wife.

On Aug. 28, 1918—not long after the “muddy waters” photo was taken—Gillan was wounded by a German artillery barrage while performing stretcher-bearer duties at the front. The young corporal, who had first arrived in France in 1916, lost his right arm. He was also peppered with shrapnel, “lucky to have survived at all,” says his grandson.

We thank Robert Gillan for his contributions to Find-Share-Discuss, and invite readers to share similar memories of wartime or peacetime service.

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