After the terrible poison gas attack in the Ypres Salient in April 1915, Canadian medical officer John McCrae made a plea to his nation in his poem, “In Flanders Fields”, to hold the torch from fallen hands and take up Our Quarrel with the Foe.
Inspired by McCrae’s words, author Ian Edwards, a historian with The Loyal Edmonton Regiment Military Museum, dives into the early story of the Edmonton area Canadian Militia and its preparation to stop the aggression of the Central Powers of Europe. He follows the new Edmonton units, cavalry and infantry, as they came together as comrades within their own unique battalions or regiments of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Edwards reveals their difficulties and successes with recruiting volunteers, mastering command and control, and adapting to new tactical skills, weapons, uniforms, and equipment. Most Edmonton region units were only to be broken up in England, parcelled out as replacements for the fallen Albertans. While other units supplied timber or laid rail lines to permit Allied Powers advances, medics from Edmonton collected and dressed the wounded soldiers of the infantry at the front line.
The Canadian Corps suffered atrocious losses at Ypres, the Somme, Vimy, Passchendaele, and the highly successful but costly Final 100 Days Offensive in 1918. Units, with high proportions of Northern and Central Albertans, had triumphs and failures. The gallantry of individual soldiers and unit battle honours paints the picture of their heroism while taking up the quarrel in the First World War.