Sharpening the Blade
In 1916 the Canadians’ rough edges were being honed off.
First, in February, there is the tragic loss of the Parliament Buildings’ Centre Block by a suspicious fire. Then, in May, Lieutenant-General Alderson’s leaked memo damning the Ross Rifle ignites a political firestorm. After the Canadian Corps’ disaster at the St. Eloi carters, it doesn’t take long for Major-General Sam Hughes to replace Alderson with Lieutenant-General Julian Byng. Within days, the Corps is struck by a devastating blow at Mount Sorrel. In October, Sir Robert Borden tires of crossing swords with his mercurial minister of Militia and Defence issues a do what you are told ultimatum! A defiant Hughes quits.
At the sharp end, Major Llewellyn and his men continue to learn the use of the hand grenade, the rifle, and the bayonet as they are grounded in the terrible carnage at St. Eloi, Mount Sorrel, and the maw of the Somme. Gunner Paul Ryan will have to live with the tragic mistake as his shells decimate his own countrymen. Matron Samantha Lonsdale continues to use all her skills to put back the pieces of men torn apart by devastating new weapons. In the fall, Lonsdale is sent to Russia, where she is soon plunged into the Russian Revolution.
By the year’s end, they have been sharpened to a razor’s edge.
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