From the Archives of Legion Magazine.


Brass Hats in Red Tape

Brass Hats in Red Tape By Wilfrid Bovey February 1954 The task of the officers responsible for the administration of the Canadian troops in Britain in the early days of the First World War was complicated by enough red tape to tie us all up in knots. The over-riding factor was that the only real authority was vested in the British War Office. The orders of the “G.O.C. Eastern Command” (or some other Command) were legally all that we had to go by. All appointments and promotions had to appear in the London Gazette as sent in by the proper officer of the proper Command staff. If we had to have a court martial–well, the Command would have to hold it. In other words, we Canadians, from the British Army point of view, were merely some casual additions to the British Forces. However,...

A Lucky Presentiment

A Lucky Presentiment By G.A. Mitchell (D Company, 78th Battlalion, C.E.F.) January 1954 Undoubtedly there are many who do not believe in presentiment, but a large number of soldiers, especially those of the First World War, were firm believers in it and I for one can vouch for this from actual experience. It was June 18th, 1917. The 78th Winnipeg Grenadiers to which I belonged were in reserve in some German dugouts on the far side of Vimy Ridge, a short distance from Givenchy. We had been doing working parties occasionally and were due to go out on rest the following day. We had been lying around the dugouts all forenoon and were looking forward to going out for a rest and were hoping that there would be nothing to do that night. But no such luck. About two o’clock in the af...

Letter From Vimy

Letter From Vimy By Gordon MacKinnon April 1992 The envelope of my grandfather’s last letter to my uncle, Private Ronald MacKinnon of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, dated April 5, 1917, is marked “Return to Sender: Deceased: Killed in Action 9.4.17.” He was one of 3,598 Canadians killed in the epic battle that marked Canada’s most important WW I victory and achieved a new recognition for the nation. The Canadians, four divisions strong, did the impossible that snowy Easter Monday morning. They broke the fearsome German Hindenburg Line at Vimy Ridge in northeastern France, something neither British nor French troops had been able to do in repeated attacks over the previous three years. After months of meticulous preparation the worst of it was over by nightfall...

Uncle’s Song

Uncle’s Song By Dr. R. Byrnes Fleuty April 1989 ‘We would sooner f--- than fight.’ That’s Uncle’s favourite song these days. He says he doesn’t know why the song came back to him; “guess it’s just one of them things.” I arrive at his door unannounced and ring the doorbell. While I wait, I notice his lovely little red brick cottage is in need of some tender loving care. Paint is peeling off the steps and the wood is beginning to rot. I ring the bell again. A few minutes pass and the door slowly opens. There he sits, in his wheelchair, looking out the screen door at me. I tell him who I am and walk in. “Well for goodness sake,” says Uncle, as he backs his chair into the tidy living room. I notice pictures of my family taped to the bookcase beside his easy chair. I don’t ask if...


FRANCE: THE FIRST TIME By Hugh Laughlin April 1989   School principal Hugh Laughlin of Chilliwack, B.C., pulled no punches in letters home from the front lines during the First World War. He enlisted with the 196th (Western Universities) Battalion, formed at Winnipeg. These excerpts were culled from letters written to his brother concerning the April 9-14, 1917, attack on Vimy Ridge; they were first printed in The Chilliwack Progress in October of that year and again in April, 1988. After the war, Laughlin came home to his wife and two children and worked first as a game warden and later as a liquor salesman. He died in 1960. I wish I could go home now. I have done what I wanted to do when I enlisted. That is to feel that I had a go at the brutes who murder women and ch...

Tait McKenzie: One of the Immortals

Tait McKenzie One of the Immortals By: Ernest Rivers Macpherson January 1957 Last June a large gathering of Scots and Canadians of Scottish extraction met at the Old Mill of Kintail near Almonte, Ontario. The meeting, held under the aegis off the Clan Chattan Association, was arranged in order to pay homage to the memory of that great Canadian, Major Robert Tait McKenzie. Tait McKenzie was a remarkable man. He was really four remarkable men, for he gained word recognition in four professions – as a surgeon and anatomist; as a physical educator; as a leader in the science and rehabilitation of the severely wounded (as many Canadian veterans of the First World War will remember with gratitude), and as an artist and sculptor. He was a soldier, an athlete, a teacher and a writer. ...



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