Today I was clearing a work space as yet another subconscious tactic to avoid starting in on year end books and tax returns when I came across my little stash of old maps. Two were essentially souvenir maps handed out to the 5th Canadian Armoured Division HQ (Dad's outfit) of their journey up the Italian Boot and through Holland. The third was an old WWI tactical map.
|1:20,000 map near Villers-Bretonneux July 1918,|
in other words the area where the first tank vs tank battle was fought and the Red Baron shot down.
Now, I haven't really looked at this map since I was a kid, and always ass/u/med it belonged to my Mom's dad who had been a regular in the Royal Horse Artillery, recalled to the colours for the Great War. Since it seemed both topical and a welcome diversion I decided to take a closer look, to see where it was in France and to call up some of the places in Google maps so I could look at street views of houses and terrain. AMAZING technology we have available to us!
However, that's not the point now, while looking at the scales etc I noticed that the map was subject to updates issued by Canadian Corps Intelligence. What? Why would an RHA corporal have a Canadian army map?
That's when I remembered what I had only fairly recently discovered which is that my Dad's father had emigrated from Glasgow to Montreal before WWI, met a nice girl, (also from Glasgow which is where another assumption had earlier led me astray), got married, had a couple of kids then headed off to war. Luckily he came back from the war and fathered my Dad. He died when I was very young and Dad never talked much about his early life or about his father and every one who had known my grandfather was either already dead or beyond questioning when I found the picture of him in uniform so I had let it drop for the time being.
Today, I looked him up on line and downloaded his service record. He was 27 (!?) when he joined and served as a driver with the Canadian Field Artillery in France from 1915 to 1918. His medical records indicate that he was invalided to hospital as sick a few times but was never wounded. Well, not in action, there is some indication that he had some fun on his annual 2 week leave in 1917. Anyway the point is, he came home intact so I am here and apparently he brought home a WWI tactical, topographical, map, all marked up with British and German trenches, enemy battery and MG positions, etc! Thanks Grampa Mac!
Je me souviens.