The War

The First World War was the turning point in history, when war moved into the modern age and made use of modern technology to prefect the art of war.

When hostilities first began in 1914, traditional methods of warfare were utilized.  War was dirty and it was personal.  Soldiers fighting trenches could see the faces of those on the other side.  Forward movement towards enemy trenches meant hand-to-hand combat, close range shots or the use of bayonets.   However, modern technology began to change how the war was fought.

Aircrafts made their debut in combat during  World War I.  At first this technology was used simply in a  reconnaissance roll, allowing unheard of views of enemy positions. Air reconnaissance proved to be highly successful and quickly became an integral part of the war.  However, once the value of aircraft was proven, its role expanded greatly.  By the end of the war the countries involved now had fleets of fighters and bombers.  They had an air force.

While the First World War began with the idea of the supremacy of the cavalry this ideal was shattered and by the end of the war, machines took over the roll.  The tank made its first appearance during this war. As hostilities came to a end in 1918, the method of utilitizing tanks, along with artillery and air support, to barrage the enemy and clear the way for the infantry to move in was achieved.  Updated versions of this method continue to be used in battles even today.

Europe 1914

The Impact of War On Individuals

The war dramatically changed the lives of millions of people.  Families had sons, fathers, brothers and uncles head out towards an uncertain future.  Farms, homes and whole villages were destroyed.  For one family from Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, their one and only son and brother lost his life Somehwhere in Belgium. 

While on the front lines, William James Garrow faithfully wrote home to his sisters Leah and Lillian. Through these letters, we are provided with a glimpse of what life was like in the trenches. His letters home span from November 1915 to May 1916.

William was clearly aware that his correspondence would be read by the censors and made certain not to write anything that would reveal his position or that could be deemed to disparaging.  William’s letters personalize  The Great War, allowing us to read what it was like for a soldier in the middle of it.  It is a unique perespective focusing on the everyday life of a soldier in the trenches.

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