Page 4 - Cape Bretoners in World War One
ISSUE : Issue 33
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1983/6/1
H. L. Livingstone: I joined the 106th Bat- talion because my older brother was an of? ficer in that outfits I joined up in a re? cruiting meeting in the schoolhouse at Big Bras d'Or--a town meeting with a colonel talking to it. A lot of it, I think, was showing off. I became an important person-- I was only a boy, 18--before the community meeting, by joining up. This feeling, feel? ing created by propaganda, permeated the whole of society, even to the country dis? tricts . I can remember somebody coming to our house, and my mother posting up a pic? ture of a soldier, with quotations from Robert Bums: "For gold, the merchant plows the main,/ The farmer tills the man? or./ Glory is the soldier's prize,/ The soldier's wealth is honour," That was clev? er propaganda. It became an emotional thing. Patriotic, emotional. And everybody was very well brainwashed, I would say. Oh, Cape Breton was completely. And everybody went in the army, and about half of them were killed. See, they all joined infantry battalions, from Cape Breton, unlike Hali? fax and other cities in Canada, where they joined the artillery or army service corps or medical corps or something else. And the infantry was almost sure suicide. Your only chance to escape being killed was to be wounded. Imagine going across an open field there-- you can't call it a field, because it was shellholes--against machine gun and shrap? nel fire, just calmly walking toward the German line. Or, at the latter part, they had a better method of running in waves. The front wave would drop down flat on the ground and the next wave would pass over and then drop down again. I suppose the German artillery had difficulty in concen? trating on the people when they did that. Machine gun fire, likewise. I don't know exactly what the goal was. There were very few goals! It was such a fiasco, such a miserable business. For many years, most of us didn't want to think about it. The only thing I ever did in my life that I'm thoroughly ashamed of was going away to war and leaving my mother alone on the farm at Big Bras d'Or. There were three of us in the 25th Battal? ion. My brother Bill was foreman of a con? struction gang, cleaning up telephone lines in Montana, when the war broke out. And he came all the way home from Montana to enlist. My brother Dan was sailing out of New York at the time on a ship. And he- left the job, came up to New Brunswick, and joined the 64th Battalion, where they were mobilized at Sussex. Now, why we did those things, I just don't know. I think love of adventure and excitement is the best explanation. It's not a very good one, but it's the best one. But why I did the things I did is something else again. I have no adequate explanation. (I often wonder whether I would have the stomach to do the things that I might be called on to do.) Well, you probably would. I can remember catching a German patrol when the fog lifted in the early morning, right in the open field, not more than 300 yards away, and shooting them with as much gusto and as much fun as I would shoot rab- CONTINUED NEXT PAGE r-'r Announcing New Book THE WELL-WATERED GARDEN: The Presbyterian Church in Cape Breton, 1798-1860 by Laurie Stanley Th( We Wa e ed Ga de a ho o ghly researched scholarly work, as well as a thoroughly readable account of 19th century Presbyterian Gape Breton. It tells the tale of the enigmatic Rev. Norman MacLeod and the elaborate spiritual drama of the settlers who gathered "to sing the Lord's song in a strange land." Available In local retail outlets. Also available from: University College of Cape Breton Press P.O. Box 5300 Sydney, N.S. B1P 6L2 Phone 539-5300, Ext. 146 (4) ENTERTAINMENT CENTRE OF CAPE BRETON Joe's Vferehouse The Rxxl Emporium Cape Breton's Newest and Largest Restaurant SPECIALIZING IN AGED PRIME CUTS OF ROAST BEEF & STEAKS & ONE OF THE MOST UNIQUE SALAD BARS IN THE MARITIMES! & Smooth Herman's Lounge You will be surrounded by a collection of some of Cape Breton's finest antiques. Live Entertainment Nightly 424 Charlotte Street 539-6686 539-0408 RESTAURANT LOUNGE BANQUET FACILITIES ARE AVAILABLE
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