Lest We Forget
In 2001, Library and Archives Canada began an exciting research project called “Lest We Forget”. This program spread across Canada over the years, and in November 2011, Halifax joined as well. Now you can help out too!
So, what is the “Lest We Forget” project?
The Library will visit your school, community group or club and introduce you to up to 47 real Nova Scotia soldier and nursing sister files. We’ll show you how to read the records and what kinds of information you’ll find there. After that, it's up to you. Create a work of art, Youtube video or story about your soldier or Nursing Sister. The best work will be featured in a Lest We Forget showcase in the Spring. Details coming soon.
These records are fascinating. Each record documents the military life of a Canadian soldier or Nursing Sister that served in the WWI (1914-1918):
- Enlistment papers and last wills.
- Medical files from before, during and the close of the war.
- Disciplinary actions and rewards.
- Personal details, like religion, race, and class and marital status.
- Pay scales and occupations (not all soldiers earned the same!).
You might discover your soldier was a teenager who lied about his age, so he could join the fight early. You might have a soldier with an illustrious career, advancing through the ranks, full of medals and citations. Your soldier might be the opposite, with reprimands and suspensions…he may even have gone AWOL! Did your soldier live or die? Did he make it through fully intact, or were there lost limbs, diseases, even mental illness? Which regiment did your soldier serve? When and where did your soldier travel…and did he fight in any major skirmishes?
Maybe you’ll choose a Nursing Sister record, one of around 3,141 young women who volunteered to serve overseas in hospitals and convalescence camps. As a relatively new organization, they provided medical care to the wounded, either in cramped hospitals or at the edge of the battlefield. Their story is just as grim and exciting…no supplies, no clean water, pestilence and disease. Grievously wounded soldiers, with new forms of war bringing new forms of injury. Yet these nurses, just like our soldiers, pressed on and saw through to the end of the war.
We are inheritors of this country, and owe a debt of gratitude to those who sacrificed so much. The least we can do is remember them.
Here are some titles to get your interest peaked: true stories, fictions, tales of teens, soldiers and nurses…
Truce : the day the soldiers stopped fighting by Jim Murphy
Stolen Voices: Young People's War Diaries, from World War I to Iraq edited by Zlata Filipovićc and Melanie Challenger
Kootenay Silver: a novel by Ann Chandler
Megiddo's Shadow by Arthur Slade
Julia's story by Ruth Elwin Harris
Also try these great reads:
Hero by Paul Butler
Resistance: Teen Partisans and Resisters Who Fought Nazi Tryanny by Charles Anflick
Juno Beach: Canada's D-Day Victory, June 6, 1944 by Mark Zuehlke
If you’re interested, tell your teacher or club leader to book a Lest We Forget workshop. They are available to schools, community groups and clubs. Dates and locations are flexible. For more information or to book a workshop, contact Halifax Public Libraries at email@example.com, or call 490-5813.
Get involved, you'll be glad you did.