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Posted on Tuesday December 29, 2015

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

Photographs of Canada during the First World War

This collection of digital Items of photographs covers an important period in Canadian history. Between 1895 and 1924 new provinces join the Confederation, one of Canada’s most influential Prime Ministers is in office, the First World War changes a huge number of Canadian lives and the country itself becomes increasingly independent and influential on the world stage.

This is all depicted in the collection with national events treated to local interpretations and international conflicts given a uniquely Canadian perspective.

The collection includes photographic record of the Indian Army in Europe during the First World War. These photographs were shot by Charles Hilton DeWitt Girdwood, when the Indian Army went on expedition to France in July-September 1915. This Indian collection consists of about 350 images. The two main groups are of wounded Indian soldiers in Brighton and Bournemouth (all with typed captions), undated but probably taken in April-May 1915, and then a series from France showing Indian and British troops, mostly dated 23 July - 8 September, with a short break in mid-August.

There are also a small number of post-air-raid photographs from England, presumably taken in early 1915, and two of Kitchener's recruiting speech at the Guildhall in early July. Most photographs show units of the Indian Corps - infantry of the Lahore and Meerut Divisions, and cavalry of the 1st and 2nd Indian Cavalry Divisions. This included a number of regular British units, which were mixed with Indian forces, as well as some Territorial Army reinforcements assigned to join them. A number of unnamed artillery, medical, and support units are shown, and there are four photographs of New Army units of 19th and 20th Divisions, apparently in transit through the Indian Corps area.