Un­earthing the lost love let­ters of war

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One hun­dred years ago the First World War came to an end, yet the con­flict still oc­cu­pies a sig­nif­i­cant space in this coun­try’s col­lec­tive imag­i­na­tion. Whether we still mark the oc­ca­sion to such a de­gree a cen­tury from now re­mains to be seen, Tim Cook writes. But the lessons of the war – how it changed and shaped Canada – will con­tinue to be a part of us Tim Cook is the author of 11 books, in­clud­ing The Se­cret His­tory of Sol­diers:

How Cana­di­ans Sur­vived the Great War, and the co-cu­ra­tor, with J.L. Granat­stein, of Vic­tory 1918, an ex­hi­bi­tion on Canada’s Hun­dred Days cam­paign at the Cana­dian War Mu­seum in Ot­tawa.

There were no black­ened bat­tle­fields, no smoul­der­ing craters or dev­as­tated ci­ties re­duced to rub­ble, but the Span­ish flu was al­most as deadly as the First World War. The pan­demic started sweep­ing across Canada in early 1918, mu­tat­ing and grow­ing more lethal, and by May the fol­low­ing year, some 50,000 Cana­di­ans had been killed. The dis­ease was un­spar­ing and in­dis­crim­i­nate – it at­tacked the healthy as well as the young and old.

Among its vic­tims were sev­eral thou­sand Cana­dian sol­diers, many of whom had sur­vived years of bru­tal trench war­fare on the West­ern Front – avoid­ing sniper fire, mor­tars and the cruel ef­fects of chem­i­cal weapons, among other dan­gers – only to suc­cumb to an in­vis­i­ble threat both in Eu­rope and at home. Thou­sands of oth­ers sur­vived its rapid-on­set, pneu­mo­nia-like symp­toms – saved by mil­i­tary nurses and doc­tors – then learned, when they re­turned to Canada, that a

si­b­ling or par­ent had been felled by the flu.

And yet, the flu is largely for­got­ten to­day, its legacy al­most com­pletely ig­nored. It has long been over­shad­owed by the First World War, in which more than 60,000 Cana­di­ans and New­found­lan­ders were killed in ac­tion, with an­other 6,000 dy­ing from their wounds, the pan­demic or re­lated ill­nesses in the war’s im­me­di­ate af­ter­math. There is no solemn day to mark flu vic­tims, and only a hand­ful of memo­ri­als across the coun­try serve to re­mind us what tran­spired. But ev­ery year, we mark Re­mem­brance Day with events held at many of the thou­sands of com­mu­nity memo­ri­als and ceno­taphs across the coun­try. There are also na­tional and over­seas mon­u­ments, the most fa­mous be­ing Wal­ter All­ward’s evoca­tive memo­rial at Vimy Ridge. It con­tin­ues to res­onate with Cana­di­ans.

Sun­day marks the 100th an­niver­sary of the ar­mistice and the end of the First World War. The four-year con­flict still oc­cu­pies a sig­nif­i­cant space in the coun­try’s imag­i­na­tion, while the Span­ish flu has been rel­e­gated to the his­tory books. Why do we priv­i­lege one tragedy over the other? The num­bers of ca­su­al­ties, af­ter all, were not so dis­sim­i­lar.

It is be­cause, in part, the flu was a “nat­u­ral” dis­as­ter while the war was un­der­stood to be a man­made cat­a­clysm in which young men, per­suaded to en­list by ide­al­is­tic calls of serv­ing king and coun­try and lib­er­at­ing the op­pressed, were shipped off to a war on the far side of the ocean. The re­al­ity of what they found when they ar­rived in Eu­rope – the hor­rors of trench war­fare and in­dus­tri­alscale slaugh­ter that saw mil­lions killed – shat­tered much of that ide­al­ism. Vic­tory was achieved only through a gut-wrench­ing de­gree of en­durance from in­di­vid­u­als, com­mu­ni­ties and na­tions to see the war through to the end. This is some­thing to be, if not ex­actly cel­e­brated, then rec­og­nized. This is some­thing we have cho­sen not to for­get.

Canada, then a young coun­try of some eight mil­lion peo­ple, had never been tested the way it was dur­ing those four years more than a cen­tury ago. It was an ex­pe­ri­ence that both shat­tered and strength­ened. It forced Cana­di­ans to con­front hor­rific vi­o­lence – to find mean­ing in it and draw from it – and to live with its ef­fects. And the legacy of the con­flict – the al­most un­be­liev­able brav­ery and the ter­ri­ble sac­ri­fice – has bled through the cal­en­dar, from 1918 to the present day.

Whether we still mark the oc­ca­sion to such a de­gree 100 years from now re­mains to be seen. But the lessons of the war – how it changed and shaped the coun­try – will con­tinue to be a part of us.

When Great Bri­tain de­clared war on Ger­many on Aug. 4, 1914, Canada was au­to­mat­i­cally dragged into the con­flict. De­spite the fact the coun­try found it­self in a war not of its own choos­ing, its cit­i­zens re­sponded in huge num­bers – tens of thou­sands, then hun­dreds of thou­sands, of men en­listed. What they found when they ar­rived on the West­ern Front was out of a night­mare: 700 kilo­me­tres of trenches, all pro­tected by ra­zor-sharp barbed wire, ma­chine guns and heavy ar­tillery. Men were torn apart in a storm of steel. Even with mil­lions of sol­diers, the Al­lies could not break through the lines es­tab­lished by the Cen­tral Pow­ers. One year turned into two, then a third. There were many hard-fought vic­to­ries. But the losses were ghastly – on a scale the world had not seen be­fore.

More men were re­quired to keep up the strength of Canada’s pri­mary fight­ing force, the 100,000-strong Cana­dian Corps, so in the sum­mer of 1917, Sir Robert Bor­den’s Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment en­acted con­scrip­tion. A ma­jor­ity of English Cana­di­ans agreed with Mr. Bor­den, who spoke of the war as an ex­is­ten­tial cri­sis (and also “the sui­cide of na­tions”): That if Bri­tain were de- feated, Canada would for­ever be di­min­ished in a world dom­i­nated by the Ger­mans. Other Cana­di­ans – many of them Fran­co­phone – felt that the war, while per­haps just and nec­es­sary in that it was noble to lib­er­ate oc­cu­pied Bel­gium and France, had lit­tle to do with Canada. Forc­ing men to serve against their will was too much to ask.

The bat­tle over con­scrip­tion changed Canada’s po­lit­i­cal sys­tem. In the run-up to the di­vi­sive 1917 fed­eral elec­tion, Mr. Bor­den dis­solved the Con­ser­va­tive Party and joined forces with a group of pro-con­scrip­tion Lib­er­als to form the Union­ist Party, which hand­ily de­feated Wil­frid Lau­rier’s Lib­er­als. The fol­low­ing April, the Union­ists broke a prom­ise that the sons of farm­ers would not be con­scripted; out of anger and a sense of alien­ation at hav­ing been aban­doned by the two na­tional par­ties, nascent pro­vin­cial farm­ers’ par­ties took power (in­clud­ing the United Farm­ers of On­tario in 1919, the United Farm­ers of Al­berta in 1921 and the United Farm­ers of Man­i­toba in 1922). On a fed­eral level, th­ese par­ties were con­nected to the Pro­gres­sive Party of Canada, which was es­tab­lished in 1920 and which, af­ter it col­lapsed, ar­guably led to both the New Demo­cratic Party and, through West­ern alien­ation stirred dur­ing the war, the Re­form Party, which merged with the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives in 2003. Thus, to­day’s po­lit­i­cal land­scape was planted dur­ing the First World War.

The in­come tax that busi­nesses and in­di­vid­u­als pay to­day had its ori­gins in the war as well. Ot­tawa was also forced to turn to Wash­ing­ton for hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in loans dur­ing the mid­point of the war and away from fi­nan­cially pressed Lon­don, so em­brac­ing a North Amer­i­can fi­nan­cial sys­tem was an­other of the war’s lega­cies.

There were other changes, es­pe­cially in the realm of women’s rights. Most women had won the right to vote in many provinces and at the fed­eral level by the end of the war, and while Canada was far from em­brac­ing equal­ity and equal pay, the war had shown that women could con­trib­ute equally by work­ing in mu­ni­tions fac­to­ries and banks. Al­most 3,000 women served as nurses, and they were among the first to cast a vote. En­fran­chise­ment was a wartime legacy that fun­da­men­tally al­tered Cana­dian so­ci­ety, as was the new-found con­fi­dence for tens of thou­sands of women who, dur­ing the war, moved from the do­mes­tic sphere to the work­place.

The coun­try emerged from the war with a strong sense of self – with what made Canada “Canada.” The wartime ef­fort to “Buy Cana­dian” re­sulted in the cre­ation of many made-in-Canada prod­ucts, ev­ery­thing from beer and bis­cuits to au­to­mo­biles and farm equip­ment. The coun­try sud­denly had new heroes and icons – Lieu­tenant-Gen­eral Sir Arthur Cur­rie and air­man Billy Bishop – which helped stoke na­tional pride. New Cana­dian works of art emerged from the war, such as John McCrae’s In Flan­ders Fields, which long out­lived the sol­dier­physi­cian-poet, who died of pneu­mo­nia in Jan­uary, 1918. Dozens of Cana­dian painters were com­mis­sioned to doc­u­ment the Cana­dian forces at home and over­seas, in­clud­ing four fu­ture mem­bers of the Group of Seven. “We are no longer hum­ble colo­nials,” A.Y. Jack­son said af­ter the war, cap­tur­ing the trans­for­ma­tion. “We’ve made armies. We can also make artists, his­to­ri­ans and po­ets.”

The war fun­da­men­tally changed how Cana­di­ans saw them­selves – and how the world saw Canada. The coun­try was proud to stand shoul­der to shoul­der with Bri­tain, con­tribut­ing sig­nif­i­cantly to the empire’s war ef­fort. At home, fac­to­ries were re­fash­ioned to make mu­ni­tions, and by 1917, a third of the shells fired by the Bri­tish armies were made in Canada. The Bri­tish were no doubt grate­ful for the shells – not to men­tion the wheat, min­er­als and other food Cana­di­ans pro­duced – but Canada distin­guished it­self most sig­nif­i­cantly through the spec­tac­u­lar wartime record of its Cana­dian Corps. Led from June, 1917, un­til the end of the war by Lt.-Gen. Cur­rie, the Corps’ vic­to­ries pro­vided, to Mr. Bor­den, an­other kind of am­mu­ni­tion, al­low­ing him to de­mand that Canada be rec­og­nized at Ver­sailles as a sep­a­rate sig­na­tory to the treaty that ended the war and to later join the flawed-if-ide­al­is­tic League of Na­tions, the pre­cur­sor to the United Na­tions. Canada was step­ping out of Bri­tain’s shadow.

Ad­mit­tedly, if you’d polled Cana­di­ans on Nov. 11, 1918, few would have said they wanted to sever their ties to Bri­tain. But some­thing had changed. In­deed, Mr. Bor­den wrote in his di­ary dur­ing the long treaty ne­go­ti­a­tions at Ver­sailles, “I am be­gin­ning to feel more and more that in the end, and per­haps sooner than later, Canada must as­sume full sovereignty.” The 1919 Nickle Res­o­lu­tion barred Cana­di­ans from ac­cept­ing for­eign ti­tles of hon­our, such as a knight­hood, which was a sym­bolic sev­er­ing with Bri­tain. Later, Mr. Bor­den and his suc­ces­sors would use the war to de­mand in­creas­ing Cana­dian sovereignty, which would cul­mi­nate in full con­trol over for­eign pol­icy with the 1931 Statute of West­min­ster. Canada had ar­rived.

The coun­try had ar­rived, but many were left be­hind.

Day af­ter day, dur­ing the du­ra­tion of the war, dozens of Cana­dian sol­diers were killed – a slow drip of death. Such losses were only in­ter­rupted by the mas­sive num­bers of ca­su­al­ties suf­fered in ma­jor bat­tles at places such as Ypres, the Somme, Vimy and Amiens. Like blood in a pool of wa­ter, each death spread out­wards, en­com­pass­ing not just fam­i­lies but en­tire com­mu­ni­ties. The en­tire coun­try.

The deaths were ac­knowl­edged dur­ing the war, some­times with the tra­di­tional wear­ing of black mourn­ing clothes or in the pub­lic dis­play of pho­to­graphs of sons or fa­thers, but the losses were so fre­quent and so heavy, with the pa­pers filled ev­ery day with the names of slain Cana­di­ans, that there was lit­tle sense of clo­sure. The grief would have been over­whelm­ing.

Around 60,000 Cana­di­ans were killed – the dead­li­est mil­i­tary con­flict in the coun­try’s his­tory. Af­ter the war, al­most all of Canada’s dead were left in Eu­rope, dis­in­terred from their tem­po­rary graves and re­buried in the vast Im­pe­rial War Graves Com­mis­sion ceme­ter­ies. They were laid to rest un­der the white Port­land lime­stone non-de­nom­i­na­tional head­stones that bear the maple leaf or the New­found­land cari­bou. The corpses of some 6,846 sol­diers were so badly man­gled that they were buried with­out be­ing iden­ti­fied; their head­stones bear the un­for­get­table in­scrip­tion, A Cana­dian Sol­dier of the Great War – Known Unto God. And al­most 20,000 of those killed were never found – their deaths ac­knowl­edged but their bod­ies lost; they are re­mem­bered at the mon­u­ments at Menin Gate in Ypres and Vimy Ridge. In­scrib­ing the names of those lost Cana­di­ans on th­ese mon­u­ments was – and con­tin­ues to be – a pow­er­ful act of recla­ma­tion.

Th­ese over­seas mon­u­ments and ceme­ter­ies con­tinue to serve as bea­cons; gen­er­a­tions of Cana­di­ans have made the long pil­grim­age to the West­ern Front to visit th­ese sites. Here, one feels the weight of an­guish and his­tory.

I first vis­ited the ceme­ter­ies when I was 17. I was shocked by the mag­ni­tude of the losses – row upon row of graves of Cana­dian sol­diers, some younger than I was at the time. I have since re­turned, bet­ter armed with his­tor­i­cal un­der­stand­ing, but still al­ways over­whelmed by the courage it took for those sol­diers to with­stand the strain, to en­dure such mis­ery and, ul­ti­mately, to de­liver vic­tory. I’ve writ­ten 11 books about the two world wars – all of them at­tempt­ing to ex­plore and cap­ture the ex­pe­ri­ence of ser­vice men and women, how th­ese or­di­nary Cana­di­ans sur­vived ex­tra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances. I have shed more than a few tears for those who fought and found their way home to Canada. And yet I have shed more tears study­ing the head­stones of the fallen, the young and the old, the English, the French, the new Cana­di­ans and the Indige­nous sol­diers who lie there still. I am left won­der­ing what legacy they might have carved out had they lived. We will never know.

With the bod­ies of the fallen left over­seas, sol­diers’ fam­i­lies, friends, other vet­er­ans and mem­bers of the com­mu­nity con­tributed to erect memo­ri­als across the coun­try, rang­ing from sim­ple plaques to stained-glass win­dows in churches to or­nate mon­u­ments. The names of the sol­diers or nurses were given to geo­graph­i­cal fea­tures – lakes, rivers, moun­tains – with for­mal nam­ing pro­grams in sev­eral provinces. Schools and streets are named af­ter those who served, but none can top Val­our Road in Win­nipeg, which was home to three even­tual Vic­to­ria Cross re­cip­i­ents be­fore the war – a unique oc­cur­rence through­out what was then the Bri­tish Empire. Many of the memo­ri­als are hid­ing in plain sight, but usu­ally more prom­i­nent are the sev­eral thou­sand ceno­taphs (empty graves) that were built – one in al­most ev­ery com­mu­nity. Those lo­cal mon­u­ments be­came the sites to gather for Ar­mistice Day and, later, when it was re­named in 1931, Re­mem­brance Day. The sym­bols of com­mem­o­ra­tion and loss – the two min­utes of si­lence, the poppy, In Flan­ders Fields – were all in­ter­twined with Re­mem­brance Day, which con­tin­ues to com­pel us to re­flect, ev­ery No­vem­ber, on not only the First World War but all sub­se­quent wars.

Canada, then a young coun­try of some eight mil­lion peo­ple, had never been tested the way it was dur­ing those four years more than a cen­tury ago. It was an ex­pe­ri­ence that both shat­tered and strength­ened.

While the war led to Canada step­ping out onto the world stage, there was also a dark legacy of anger at home. Ex­ist­ing fault lines were ex­ac­er­bated, and new stress points emerged dur­ing the strain of war. The re­lent­less de­mand for all to fight or pay, to serve or sup-

port, led some Cana­di­ans to turn on one an­other. Re­cent im­mi­grants from Ger­many and Ukraine were hounded and la­belled en­emy aliens, and some 9,000 were locked up in iso­lated work camps, their civil lib­er­ties tram­melled in a war for lib­eral demo­cratic ideals.

Ja­panese-Cana­dian sol­diers, who had en­listed de­spite the racism they faced, came back to fight for en­fran­chise­ment rights in a Canada lit­tle in­ter­ested in di­ver­sity. They got the vote in Bri­tish Columbia in 1931. Sadly, it would not stop most of them from be­ing re­lo­cated to work camps in 1942 in the af­ter­math of Pearl Har­bor and the Bat­tle of Hong Kong dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.

And of the 4,000 or so Indige­nous sol­diers who served in the war, where most were treated as equals by their white com­rades in the trenches, the sur­vivors re­turned to a coun­try that con­tin­ued to view them as wards of the state. In­dian agents on the re­serves des­per­ately sought to re­ex­ert in­flu­ence over this new em­pow­ered gen­er­a­tion of vet­er­ans. Sol­diers such as Fran­cis Pega­m­agabow and Fred­er­ick Loft (Onondeyoh) would fight for changes within their bands or for equal rights within Cana­dian so­ci­ety. It was a start, al­though they and their de­scen­dants would face a long bat­tle that rages to this day.

Most no­tably, the war caused tremen­dous strain be­tween English and French Canada. With­out the same emo­tional links to Bri­tain, Fran­co­phones en­listed in fewer num­bers than English Cana­di­ans. Still, thou­sands of Que­beck­ers served in the war, with the 22nd Bat­tal­ion and heroes such as Ge­orges Vanier and Jean Bril­lant, re­cip­i­ent of the Vic­to­ria Cross, along with men from Franco-On­tar­ian, Franco-New Brunswick and even Franco-Al­ber­tan com­mu­ni­ties, cel­e­brated af­ter the war.

This pride, how­ever, was of­ten over­shad­owed by anger over the con­scrip­tion cri­sis. The cul­mi­na­tion of that try­ing pe­riod – from the en­act­ment of con­scrip­tion in Au­gust, 1917, un­der the Mil­i­tary Ser­vice Act to the Easter Ri­ots of early April, 1918 – saw con­stant protest in Mon­treal and Que­bec City.

On Easter week­end in late March, 1918, af­ter sev­eral nights of ri­ot­ing in Que­bec City over the ar­rest of young men not car­ry­ing con­scrip­tion ex­emp­tion cards, English-Cana­dian mili­tia units were called out. Al­ready tense re­la­tions soon de­gen­er­ated into vi­o­lence. On April 1, af­ter the sun had set, thou­sands of Que­beck­ers surged through the streets and con­fronted the out­num­bered but armed mili­tia. In­sults were traded, and af­ter the Riot Act was read, the mili­tia shot into the crowd. Five peo­ple were killed and dozens were wounded. Few re­mem­ber that some ag­i­ta­tors in the crowd pro­voked the in­ci­dent by first shoot­ing at the mili­tia; in­stead, the dead be­came mar­tyrs – vic­tims of the in­tol­er­ance of war. With blood in the streets, the Easter Ri­ots be­came a cru­cial sym­bol of dis­unity in French Canada over the decades and are evoked to this day. The ri­ots were used in French Canada much like Vimy (which was made even more pow­er­ful af­ter the na­tional mon­u­ment was un­veiled in 1936) be­came a sym­bol in English Canada: a way to in­ter­pret and re­frame the war in the years that fol­lowed.

To­ward the end of the war, Cana­dian in­fantry­man Con­ingsby Daw­son wrote that “the war will not last for­ever; but the mem­ory of it, the suf­fer­ing of it, the in­cal­cu­la­ble waste of it, will last for all that re­mains of our lives.”

The war has in­deed lived on long past the last shot fired – even past the death of the last Cana­dian vet­eran, John Bab­cock, in 2010. It re­mains with us still, an en­dur­ing legacy of pain and pride, of frac­tur­ing and unity, of hon­our and sac­ri­fice.

At the war’s con­clu­sion, we said, “Lest we for­get,” a phrase that is ut­tered year af­ter year – a warn­ing and a plea to re­mem­ber those who served and not to al­low the pass­ing years to di­min­ish the hor­ror of the war.

But, of course, we for­got much over the sub­se­quent cen­tury. We said, “Never again” – that the ter­ri­ble strug­gle of 1914 to 1918 was the “war to end all wars.” Then, a gen­er­a­tion later, Cana­di­ans fought in a sec­ond world war. The Great War left a legacy of con­tra­dic­tions.

If mem­ory fades, the legacy re­mains. Mod­ern Canada has been shaped by the war, with our pol­i­tics, cul­ture and eco­nom­ics bear­ing the stamp of con­flict or the scars of loss. The war in­forms our acts of com­mem­o­ra­tion. Most Cana­di­ans hate war and yet can still find a place to pay trib­ute to those who served and sac­ri­ficed, be they sol­diers, nurses or those par­ents, wives and chil­dren who waited and ag­o­nized at home. Across this coun­try and over­seas, we con­tinue to come to­gether on Nov. 11, or just bow our heads, for a mo­ment, at 11:11 in the morn­ing.

The cen­te­nary of the First World War is an im­por­tant sign­post. Th­ese dates mat­ter. They in­crease me­dia at­ten­tion and cap­ture the at­ten­tion of Cana­di­ans. Last year, the 100th an­niver­sary of the Bat­tle of Vimy Ridge saw 25,000 Cana­di­ans cross the coun­try and the At­lantic to con­verge at the mon­u­ment in a unique act of com­mem­o­ra­tion; hun­dreds of thou­sands watched the broad­cast from home. This year, there was barely a whis­per – no cam­eras, few news­pa­per ar­ti­cles, a qui­eter ridge.

What will hap­pen next year or the year af­ter that? Does a war lose mean­ing on those years when an an­niver­sary doesn’t fall on a 0 or 5? For al­most a decade now, there have been no liv­ing vet­er­ans. It has fallen to a new gen­er­a­tion to care for an event that took place in a world far dif­fer­ent than our own. I’m a his­to­rian and am there­fore more com­fort­able look­ing back­ward into the chaos than for­ward into the ca­coph­ony, but I think Canada’s in­volve­ment in the Great War will con­tinue to echo. We have seen all man­ner of ex­hi­bi­tions, books, plays, doc­u­men­taries and dig­i­tal prod­ucts over the past four years. There will be fewer of those, but the war con­tin­ues to have a hold on our imag­i­na­tion un­like al­most any other event in our his­tory. For me, hav­ing spent more than 20 years study­ing th­ese Cana­di­ans, try­ing to un­der­stand their mo­ti­va­tions and be­liefs, at­tempt­ing to un­der­stand their in­ner lives and out­ward ac­tions, I do not plan to send them into the obliv­ion. And I am not alone.

It mat­ters be­cause we, as Cana­di­ans, have said it mat­ters. Not all Cana­di­ans care, of course, but enough do, es­pe­cially the mil­lions of Cana­di­ans who are de­scen­dants of the ap­prox­i­mately 550,000 vet­er­ans who sur­vived. They usu­ally have very per­sonal rea­sons for keep­ing the torch of mem­ory alive, and yet oth­ers – from schoolchil­dren to those who knew vet­er­ans – come to at­ten­tion, em­brace the si­lence and re­flect on the past.

Over gen­er­a­tions we have used – and oc­ca­sion­ally abused – the war and all that it stands for. But a cen­tury later, the First World War con­tin­ues to haunt us. The mur­murs and whis­pers of the past beckon us on­ward, and even though the guns fell silent 100 years ago, that dark, shrouded legacy is with us still.

For al­most a decade now, there have been no liv­ing vet­er­ans. It has fallen to a new gen­er­a­tion to care for an event that took place in a world far dif­fer­ent than our own.

At the war’s con­clu­sion, we said, ‘Lest we for­get,’ a phrase that is ut­tered year af­ter year – a warn­ing and a plea to re­mem­ber those who served and not to al­low the pass­ing years to di­min­ish the hor­ror of the war.

HOUSE OF COM­MONS/ CHAM­BRE DES COM­MUNES

The Ghosts of Vimy Ridge (c.1929) by Aus­tralian artist Wil­liam Longstaff is one of a num­ber of paint­ings cre­ated by the artist that fea­ture ghostly ap­pari­tions march­ing or walk­ing near First World War memo­ri­als in Eu­rope.

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