World War I
The Cause of It
The Death Toll
What Candian's did to contribute
Why do we remember?
Also known as "The Great War", or "The War to End All Wars"
World War I started in 1914 and lasted until 1918. Although the war lasted only for 4 short years, it became the second deadliest conflict in history, based on the total number of people killed & injured. The lowest estimate death toll is about 20 million- but that doesn't even include the 40 million who died from the Spanish Flu, which occured during the war.
On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand (was the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary at the time) and his wife were making a visit to Sarajevo, the capital of Serbia. During those years, there were lots of disagreements and conflicts between the 2 nations. A Serbian nationalist group, called "The Black Hand" were sent to murder him. One of the members, Gavrilo Princip, shot Ferinand and his wife, and they died shortly afterwards.
Austria-Hungary blamed Serbia for the assassination. They then, along with Germany (they're allies) made a long list of things Serbia has to do to repay. But Serbia didn't agree to it. That was when Austria-Hungary declared war on them.
Russia joined Serbia's side because the people of Serbia were Slavic, like Russia, and the Slavic countries had agreed to help each other if they were attacked. Germany then joined in on Austria-Hungary's side because they were afraid they would be attacked. Soon, most of Europe and a lot of other countries in the World became involved.
By remembering their service and their sacrifice, we recognize the tradition of freedom these men and women fought to preserve. They believed that their actions in the present would make a significant difference for the future, but it is up to us to ensure that their dream of peace is realized.
For all of these conflicts fought in far-off lands, there is much to remember. Foremost are the people, the men and women who served wherever they were needed. They faced difficult situations bravely and brought honour to themselves, to their loved ones and to their country. They were ordinary Canadians who made extraordinary sacrifices.
On November 11, especially, but also throughout the year, we have the opportunity to remember the efforts of these special Canadians. In remembering, we pay homage to those who respond to their country's needs. On November 11, we pause for two minutes of silent tribute, and we attend commemorative ceremonies in memory of our war dead.
Poppies are worn as the symbol of remembrance, a reminder of the blood-red flower that still grows on the former battlefields of France and Belgium
How do we remember?
Who Do we Remember?
In the First World War, the Canadians' first major battle occurred at Ypres, Belgium, on April 22, 1915, where the Germans used poison gas. As approximately 150 tonnes of chlorine gas drifted over the trenches, Canadian troops held their line and stopped the German advance in spite of enormous casualties. Within 48 hours at Ypres and St. Julien, a third of the Canadians were killed. One of those who survived described the aftermath of a dreaded gas attack:
The room was filled with dying and badly wounded men; trampled straw and dirty dressings lay about in pools of blood. The air, rank with the fumes of gas, was thick with the dust of flying plaster and broken brick, and stifling with the smoke from the burning thatch. 6
Using outdated 19th century military strategy, Allied generals believed that sending wave after wave of infantry would eventually overwhelm the enemy. Soaring casualty rates proved that soldiers attacking with rifles and bayonets were no match for German machine guns. Each side dug in and soon the Western Front became a patchwork of trenches in France and Belgium stretching from Switzerland to the North Sea.
In April 1917, Canadians helped turn the tide of battle when they won a major victory at Vimy Ridge. This triumph came at high cost: more than ten thousand casualties in six days. Even with this victory, the war continued for more than a year. Finally, on November 11, 1918, the Armistice was signed and the Canadians took part in the triumphant entry into Mons, Belgium. Throughout this conflict, Canadians proved that they could pull their weight, and by their effort earned for Canada, a new place among the nations of the world.
What Should We Remember?