Perhaps not surprisingly, as the centenary of the First World War approaches, some of the most popular pages on our website are the transcribed war diaries of the 3rd Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force.
Libraries and Archives Canada had scanned several hundred pages of these diaries and posted them on to their website as jpeg photos. As valuable as this was, they were impossible to search and the way they were listed on their site made it a challenge to find a particular date quickly.
So in the Fall of 2012, we undertook to crowd-source the transcriptions of these pages and were very pleasantly surprised by the results! Within just eleven weeks, 27 volunteers all recruited online and some from the far corners of the world, had transcribed 53 months of diaries and they were posted on our website! This has also allowed us to link to other information on our website such as specific soldier profiles and to include photos of relevant artifacts. We continue to add to these pages as we can.
I highly encourage you to check them out if you have not already done so because they give, in concise military way, a chilling perspective on this horrible war.
We’ve received some positive feedback on this resource but I was particularly pleased to see the recent comment reprinted below, from a US Army Lieutenant Colonel whose Scottish grandfather crossed the border from US to join the 255th Battalion, CEF. He eventually see combat with the 3rd Battalion. His story also illustrates how the war continued to impact families long after it had ended.
Thanks for transcribing the 3rd Bn war diaries. In August 1913, my grandfather, John Denning Wallace, immigrated from Paisley, Scotland to Kearny, New Jersey. In April 1918, he crossed the border and joined the Toronto Regiment to fight with the CEF in WWI. He served with the 3rd Bn on the front lines near Arras, France, from November 1917 until July 15, 1918, when he sustained a gunshot wound in the left arm. In February 1919, he was medically discharged for the “GSW left arm” and for “trench exposure.” A few years later, he died from the trench exposure at age 30 .
On review of my grandfather’s CEF discharge certificate and military records, they did not reveal how he sustained his combat wound, and for many years I often wondered. Thankfully, the 3rd Bn war diaries provided me with some background. The 3rd Bn war diaries for July 14-16 1918, and the 3rd Bn end of month casualty report for July 1918, reveal that my grandfather, “Wallace, J.D.”, and three other 3rd Bn soldiers were wounded by machine gun fire whilst “laying wire ” near Post 7 in the Fampough sector near Arras. The next day, one had died from his wounds.
Now I know.
Wayne S. Wallace,
LTC, U.S. Army