In My Father's Footsteps to the Western Front - Part 1


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A presentation (in 5 parts) about my Father's experiences as an officer in the 26th Battalion (New Brunswick), Canadian Expeditionary Force, during WW1 and my attempt to follow in his footsteps 90 years later, Some spooky things happened along the way, as I learned about the battalion's activities and where he, and it, had been in those years between 1916 and 1919.

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  • In My Father's Footsteps to the Western Front - Part 1

    1. 1. <ul><ul><li>In my Father's footsteps to the Western Front... </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Trip of a lifetime, and the role of serendipity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Part 1 of 5 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mary Anne Sharpe </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>November 2007 </li></ul></ul>
    2. 2. Objective <ul><li>Today, I am going to describe my trip to the Western Front </li></ul><ul><ul><li>how I prepared for it </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>what happened while I was there </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>what I learned </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>and three serendipitous things that helped make it the trip of a lifetime... </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Objective - Notes <ul><li>so these are my objectives for today's talk about my Western Front trip last April – to let you know: </li></ul><ul><li>how I prepared </li></ul><ul><li>what happened while I was there </li></ul><ul><li>what I learned </li></ul><ul><ul><li>about the First World War and the fighting of it and living in it </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>about my father many of them things that confirmed what I knew of him... </li></ul></ul><ul><li>and three things that happened that made it the trip of a lifetime... </li></ul>
    4. 5. <ul><ul><li>meet my father, Norman Edgar Sharpe, in his lieutenant's uniform – a pretty handsome guy, I think </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>not sure when this picture was taken, but I would guess about 1916-1917 when he was about 20 years old </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>I knew he had served with the 26 th Battalion New Brunswick </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>and I knew he had been at the Battle of Vimy Ridge and had been awarded a Military Cross </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>these things he had told me when I was growing up... </li></ul></ul>
    5. 6. I had memorabilia...
    6. 8. <ul><ul><li>I had his map of the Lens area of France – a map that he had clearly carried around and used </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>- sweat-stained and dirty, with his handwriting on it marking locations, dates, and with notations like &quot;Division at rest&quot;... </li></ul></ul>
    7. 13. I had done some research...
    8. 14. I had done some research... - Notes
    9. 15. Then the research and planning went into high gear... <ul><li>I decided to retire, and also to attend the 90 th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and dedication of the newly refurbished monument in France on 9 April, 2007 </li></ul><ul><li>but more than that, I decided to try to walk in my Father's footsteps on the Western Front, beyond Vimy </li></ul><ul><li>Further research included: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>trolling the 26 th Battalion War Diaries online at LAC </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>joining the C.E.F. Study Group Forum on WWW </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>obtaining a copy of the Battalion History: New Brunswick's 'Fighting 26 th ' </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>finding a tour operator through online research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>doing A LOT of background reading about WWI and specific battles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>researching the photographic and War Art collections at Canadian War Museum </li></ul></ul>
    10. 16. Research and planning into high gear... - Notes <ul><li>in August of 2006, I decided I would retire – and I learned that Parks Canada had been refurbishing the Vimy Monument, and that there was a hope it would be re-dedicated in a ceremony on the battle's anniversary Easter Monday 2007. </li></ul><ul><li>my husband suggested that we plan to attend </li></ul><ul><li>and, if we were to be there for the ceremony, why not stay longer than the day, and go farther afield than Vimy? </li></ul><ul><li>this meant I needed to know more about the details, so I started to do additional research... </li></ul><ul><li>these are among the things I did to get up to snuff... </li></ul>
    11. 20. Notes (slide 19)‏
    12. 21. A genealogical research trip (almost) like any other... <ul><li>I assembled all the pertinent material </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a spreadsheet with dates and names of locations that I sent to Jerry, our tour operator, so he could plan our trip </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>a binder to take with me, with copies of </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>pages from my father's diaries, cross-referenced with </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>pages from the Battalion History </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>pages from the Battalion War Diaries, including my father's own contemporary accounts of engagements (a hidden gem in the War Diaries!)‏ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>additional accounts of the various engagements </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>maps of the locations </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>photographs: both my father's and the official war photographs </li></ul></ul></ul>
    13. 22. A genealogical trip... - Notes <ul><li>well, this would be much like any other genealogical trip I had already taken, requiring: </li></ul><ul><li>not only preparation, but also organization! </li></ul><ul><li>so, FIRST I assembled some necessary materials that would help our tour guide plan the trip, coupling what I had discovered, with his own &quot;on-the-ground&quot; knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>and then I made myself a binder to take the most important stuff with me... </li></ul><ul><li>maps </li></ul><ul><li>pictures </li></ul><ul><li>descriptions from my father's diaries and the battalion diaries </li></ul><ul><li>other accounts </li></ul><ul><li>photographs – both my father's and others I found – this was particularly important for me, because being a visual person, I knew I would have trouble reconciling the black-and-white Western Front of old photos with the &quot;coloured&quot; one I would see – not only would there be many changes over the years, but the &quot;look&quot; of the place would be quite different </li></ul>
    14. 23. To be continued... in Part 2