#VimyRidgeHeroes

Category: #VimyRidgeHeroes

While the future of the world weighed on his mind, a corporal in the middle of the Great War noted that life goes on.

In the spring of 1917, as he and the entire Canadian Corps prepared for the greatest battle of their lives, Ellis Sifton, a twenty-five-year-old farm boy from Wallacetown, Ontario, stopped to notice familiar activity in the French countryside. Despite the approaching Easter offensive against German armies entrenched on Vimy Ridge, he noted in letters home that the planting season in France would go ahead no matter what.

Jack McLaren almost went to war without his most vital weapon. As it was, when he enlisted in 1914, the army recruiting office in Toronto had no uniforms, no rifles, and few training facilities. A fine arts graduate and amateur playwright, J.W. (as he was known) dashed to join Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in September 1915. In his kit he carried his personal effects, foolscap for his diary, a few sketch boards, water colour paints and brushes. And because he thought they just might come in handy, he also packed some writing paper and theatrical makeup.

Some of the 7,000 Canadians wounded in the battle for Vimy Ridge couldn’t believe their eyes when they were taken from the battlefield following their victory in April 1917. Suddenly, after weeks or months in the front lines knowing no one but their comrades-in-arms, some members of the Canadian Corps awoke to the strangest looking stretcher bearers. Instead of male medics and physicians, they came face-to-face with ambulance personnel such as Grace MacPherson.