Ex­hibit show­cases un­der­ground el­e­ment of First World War

Guard of Honour - - NEWS - JEANNE GAGNON

As First World War sol­diers waited for bat­tle in France, many etched their names or their reg­i­men­tal num­ber on cav­ern walls or carved images, re­mind­ing them of home.

The Cana­dian War Mu­seum is show­cas­ing, in an ex­hibit called Pre­served in Stone: Un­der­ground Art of the First World War, six pho­to­graphs and six 3-D printed re­pro­duc­tions of the wartime art­work found in tun­nels and caves of north­east­ern France, near Vimy Ridge.

Stacey Barker, his­to­rian and cu­ra­tor of the ex­hibit, which runs un­til Jan. 7, 2018, said what struck her the most is the range of things sol­diers left be­hind dur­ing the First World War.

“They wrote their names. They drew images. They some­times made very elab­o­rate carv­ings into the wall,” she said. “Of­ten they would just write their name or their reg­i­men­tal num­ber, maybe their home­town, but some­times they would draw or etch things that may have re­minded them of home.”

The ex­hibit was de­vel­oped in con­junc­tion with the Cen­te­nary of the First World War and the Bat­tle of Vimy Ridge, added Barker. She added peo­ple view­ing the art­work will learn there was an un­der­ground com­po­nent to the war.

“It’s an as­pect of the war peo­ple might not know as much about. They know about the fight­ing on land. They know about the war in the air, but this is the war un­der­ground,” men­tioned Barker. “Th­ese are things that the sol­diers down there left on the walls as a way of al­most memo­ri­al­iz­ing them­selves. ‘We were here, don’t for­get us.’”


Pho­to­graphs of First World War sol­dier graf­fiti found in France, are part of the Pre­served in Stone ex­hibit, which runs at the Cana­dian War Mu­seum un­til Jan. 7, 2018. Des pho­tos de graf­fi­tis de sol­dats de la Pre­mière Guerre Mon­di­ale retrou­vés en France font par­tie de l’ex­po­si­tion Gravé dans la pierre, présen­tée au Musée cana­dien de la guerre jusqu’au 7 jan­vier 2018.

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