Second to None: The Fighting 58th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force

Second to None: The Fighting 58th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force

Second to None: The Fighting 58th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force

Second to None: The Fighting 58th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force

Synopsis

One of only fifty infantry battalions to see action with the Canadian Expeditionary Force during World War I, the 58th nevertheless had no official history. Second to None tells the story of this important, yet forgotten, battalion. The soldiers who formed the 58th exemplified the ideal citizen soldiers and later evolved into the tough, battle-savvy veterans who destroyed the cream of the German Imperial Army and won battle honours. The author uses the men's letters and diaries and family oral histories to amplify the terse account of the 58th's war diary, bringing to life once more the men who paid the price for freedom.

Excerpt

On May 18, 1939, the Historical Committee of the 58th Battalion wrote to the Records Section of the Department of National Defence, asking for copies of the various documents necessary for the writing of the battalion’s history. War clouds were already gathering over Europe and the Pacific, and the start of the Second World War, twenty-one years after the Great War had ended, quickly put the project on hold. If the history had been written at that time, the story that might have been told would be much different from the one unfolding in this volume. Major Warner Elmo Cusler, one of the original officers of the 58th, was the chairman of the committee. Two other originals — the last commanding officer of the battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Alexander Macfarlane, and Major Henry E. Rose, the author of large sections of the battalion War Diary — were members of the committee. Together, this trio had been involved with virtually all of the battalion’s major actions, and they would have brought to the history an intimate knowledge of the men and the battles that they had undertaken. With war looming, and with it having broken out so soon after the project began, they might have felt a sense that the sacrifice of so many lives had been futile. This belief would have given to the history a tone very different from that which it might have had if the narrative had been written soon after the Great War.

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