Wednesday, December 7, 2016

World War Wednesdays: A Taste of 1918

      My sincere apologies for the lack of a post last week! Right after I told you all I'd never miss a week too. After some very frustrating technical difficulties we're back up and running and all is (hopefully) right with the world again. Let's get right down to business!
      I once had a professor who would make the whole class recipes from wartime and Depression-era cookbooks as an excuse for her to test out some risky historical concoctions. Since I can't do that for all of you, I thought it might be just as fun to take a look at some First World War recipes from the 1918 book Foods That Will Win the War and How to Cook Them. It was published in New York by C. Houston Goudiss, Food Expert and publisher of The Forecast Magazine, and Alberta, M. Goudiss, director of the School of Modern Cookery. Its foreword begins with:
     "Food will win the war, and the nation whose food resources are best conserved will be the victor. This is the truth that our government is trying to drive home to every man, woman and child in America. We have always been happy in the fact that ours was the richest nation in the world, possessing unlimited supplies of food, fuel, energy and ability; but rich as these resources are they will not meet the present food shortage unless every family and every individual enthusiastically co-operates in the national saving campaign as outlined by the United States Food Administration."

     Obviously, the work served a double duty as a patriotic source of encouragement for the American folks on the home front. For us today, it's a fascinating glimpse into what was being asked by everyday citizens in terms of lifestyle changes for the purpose of saving resources for the war effort. In general, Goudiss and Goudiss recommend one wheatless meal a day in every family, two meatless days per week, and each person to use one teaspoonful less of sugar each day. 

     Here's what they argued in terms of the economy of wheat:
     "Waste in your kitchen means starvation in some other kitchen across the sea. Our Allies are asking for 450,000,000 bushels of wheat, and we are told that even theirs will be a privation loaf. Crop shortage and unusual demand has left Canada and the United States, which are the largest sources of wheat, with but 300,000,000 bushels available for export. The deficit must be met by reducing consumption on this side of the Atlantic. This can be done by eliminating waste and by making use of cereals and flours other than wheat in bread-making." 

     Alternative ingredients for bread-making include cornmeal,  oatmeal, rye, barley, and mixed grains. Here are some of the bread recipes I thought might actually be fun and rewarding to try:

Oatmeal Muffins
1 1/3 cups flour
2 tablespoons molasses
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fat
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 cup cooked oatmeal
Sift dry ingredients. Add egg and milk. Add fat and cereal. Beat well. Bake in greased tins for 20 minutes.

War Bread
2 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons sugar
11/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons fat
6 cups rye flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cake yeast
To the boiling water, add the sugar, fat and salt. When lukewarm, add the yeast which has been dissolved in the lukewarm water. Add the rye and whole wheat flour. Cover and let rise until twice its bulk, shape into loaves; let rise until double and bake about 40 minutes in a moderately hot oven.

Potato Pancakes
2 cups chopped potato
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups of hot water
Boil potatoes in the skins for fifteen minutes. Pare and chop fine or put through food chopper. Mix potatoes, milk, eggs, and salt. Sift the flour and baking powder and stir into a smooth batter. Thin with hot water as necessary. Bake on a greased griddle.

     The book's section on meat saving is probably one of the most fascinating, as it includes some "scientific" opinions from the time that make the reduction of meat consumption sound fashionable and attractive:
     "Dr. Harvey W. Wiley has stated that the meat eating of the future will not be regarded as a necessity so much as it has been in the past, and that meat will be used more as a condimental substance. Europe has for years used meat for flavor rather than for nutriment. It would seem that the time has come for Americans to learn the use of meat for flavor and to utilize more skillfully the protein of other foods."

     This section also calls for an increased use of organs in meals, and outlines some methods for preparing such things as brains, heart, kidney, liver, tripe, and pigs' feet. Here are some of the meat-related recipes that wouldn't actually turn your stomach at the thought:

Actually, never mind. None of them sound appealing. Here's a meat alternative main dish that the authors recommend:

Macaroni with Cheese
Over 1 cup of cooked macaroni, pour this sauce:
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons fat
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup grated American cheese
Melt fat, add dry ingredients. Add liquid slowly. Bring to boiling point. Add cheese. Stir until melted and then pour over macaroni.

Let's skip to the sugar-saving desserts to round off the meal:

Oatmeal and Peanut Pudding
2 cups cooked oatmeal
1 cup sliced apple
1 cup peanuts
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
Mix and bake in a greased dish for 30 minutes. Serve hot or cold. This is a very nourishing dish.

Wartime Fruit Cake
1 cup honey or corn syrup
1 tablespoon fat
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
1 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped dates, figs, prunes, or raisins
3/4 teaspoon soda
2/3 cup milk
Cream fat, honey and egg. Sift dry ingredients. Add alternately with milk. Bake in loaf 45 minutes in moderate oven.

Soft Cinnamon Cookies
1 cup molasses
2 tablespoons fat
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon ginger
2 tablespoons cinnamon 
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cloves
Mix molasses, fat, and boiling water. Sift dry ingredients. Add the liquid. Add enough more flour (about four cups) to make dough stiff enough to roll out. Cut and bake about 15 minutes in moderately hot oven.

Wartime Taffy
2 cups corn syrup 
1/2 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon water
2 tablespoons vinegar
Boil the syrup for fifteen minutes, then add the soda. Cook until a little snaps brittle when dropped in cold water. Add the vinegar when this stage is reached and pour into oiled pans. When cool enough to handle, pull until white; make into inch-thick rolls and clip off into neat mouthfulls with oiled scissors, or chill and break into irregular pieces when cold.

"To provide adequate supplies for the continuing year is of absolutely vital importance to the conduct of the war, and without a very conscientious elimination of waste and very strict economy in our food consumption, we cannot hope to fulfill this primary duty."
-President Woodrow Wilson

     I hope this little glimpse into the First World War kitchens across America was an interesting and useful venture! Some of the desserts would make great Christmas gifts for that history buff on your list who continuously asks for outrageously-priced war relics and artifacts from niche market dealers in faraway countries. If you're interesting in sharing a little piece of 1918 this holiday or if you'd like to read more of this fascinating book, it is available as a free eBook through Project Gutenberg. If you do decide to whip up one of these recipes, please share a photo of the finished product! Happy cooking!
    Thanks for reading, 
Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Ontario Parks Statement regarding Fencing at John E. Pearce Provincial Park

The fencing recently installed at John E. Pearce Provincial Park is necessary to help ensure public safety due to the dangers associated with erosion of the bluffs, as well as to minimize damage to the bluffs by unauthorized access.  The location of the new fence is in accordance with the park’s management plan; the fence replaces an existing, partial fence that was in poor condition, and aims to limit unauthorized public access to the eroding bluffs and other sensitive natural and cultural features.  The fencing will be clearly signed prior to the opening of the park in 2017.
Environmental impacts of this project were assessed in a project screening approved under the Class Environmental Assessment for Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves.  During the screening process, impacts to species at risk, sensitive habitats, archaeological sites, and other wildlife (including deer) were considered; mitigation measures were identified to minimize any potential negative impacts (including identifying a 4 foot high fence that would not impede the movement of deer).
 The parking and picnic area will remain accessible to the park visitors during the park operating season.  Should members of the public wish to access the Lake Erie shoreline, the E.M. Warwick Conservation Area, located west of John E. Pearce Provincial Park, provides a staircase and access to the beach.
 Visitors to John E. Pearce Provincial Park may also be interested to know about the ongoing restoration project in the park.  This work is being undertaken by Ontario Parks and a number of partner organizations to restore wetland function to an area formerly used for agricultural purposes.  Additionally, the Tyrconnell Heritage Society continues to have a significant and positive role in day to day operation and management of the park.

For additional information, contact Rhonda Card, Park Superintendent ‎at 519-874-4691 or<>

Friday, November 25, 2016

Foodie Friday: Irish Tea Cake

This recipe was requested by some of our visitors who have had Tea and A Tour recently so I thought I'd post it.  I found it on Let's Dish Recipes website which you can visit.  
Serves 8
Irish Tea Cake
10Prep Time
30Cook Time
40Total Time

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Powdered sugar for dusting
  • Fresh berries and whipped cream, for topping (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch round pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated. Stir in the vanilla.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir into the batter alternately with the milk, starting and ending with the flour mixture.
  4. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, then turn out onto a serving plate.
  6. Just before serving, dust with powdered sugar. If desired, top slices with fresh berries and/or whipped cream.
Who Dished It Up First: Adapted from All Recipes

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

World War Wednesdays: The Menin Gate and Remembrance in Belgium

The Menin Gate, 1927
     Confession time: this is the first week in my two whole years of blogging that I ever seriously considered having to take a week's hiatus. Things are pretty crazy up here on the schoolwork front, with a twenty-five page paper for one seminar (among other things) due on Friday that is so insanely long even my other seminar's classmates gasped at the thought! But, I thought about it a bit more and decided that if I have made it this long without having to resort to such a thing then I can certainly come up with something for you now. I'd like to give an anonymous shoutout to one of my colleagues who presented on this topic as part of her research project, which was fascinating enough to jolt me out of this funk I've been in and actually be excited to learn new things! Hopefully you find this story as amazing as I did and I appreciate your taking the time to read it this week more than ever.

     Here's some backstory: Ypres is an ancient town in Belgium which became renowned for its linen trade with England during the Middle Ages. Since it played such an important role in the textile industry and was a major hub of trade, it was decided to fortify the village with stone ramparts which were gradually expanded over the centuries.
The Menin Gate before the outbreak of war, Summer 1914

     During the First World War, the town of Ypres occupied a strategic position because it stood directly in the path of Germany's planned sweep across the rest of Belgium and into France from the north (the Schlieffen plan). The German army surrounded the area on three sides, bombarding it through most of the war. As a result, British, French, and other Allied forces made costly advances in counterattack from what became known as the Ypres salient into the German lines on the surrounding hills.

Another prewar shot of the Menin Gate- note the two lions on either side which were removed during the war for preservation
     By that time, the majority of the wall around the town had fallen into disrepair due to both the prolonged shelling and lack of upkeep in the years preceding the war. The Allied soldiers who marched to the front in the First and Second Battles of Ypres would have all passed through a gap in the old ramparts in order to cross a small stretch of water. Many thousands of men passed over that spot and marched to their deaths, with the stone walls on either side of the gap being among the last things they saw before doing so. As the war raged on, with some of the most horrific elements of the entire conflict happening at Ypres (including gas attacks), the nature of the conditions meant that thousands of bodies were lost in the muddy earth which essentially swallowed up the fallen. Overall, over 50,000 Allied soldiers lay missing at Ypres by the end of the war, with around 40,000 makeshift headstones dotting the area which read either "Known Only Unto God" or "A Soldier of the Great War."
The Menin Gate area at the end of the war
     In 1921, the British Imperial War Graves Commission felt it would be appropriate to build a splendid monument at the Menin Gate to commemorate the men who had died in battle but had no final resting place. Designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield, the memorial was finished in July 1927.
The unveiling ceremony
     In 1928, a year after the memorial was opened, a number of prominent Ypres residents decided that some way should be developed for the Belgian people to express their gratitude for the men who had passed through their town and were killed in their efforts to protect it. The Superintendent of Ypres Police presented the idea of a daily sounding of the Last Post-the traditional salute to a fallen warrior- at the Menin Gate. The privilege of playing the homage was given to members of the local volunteer Fire Brigade. They played their first tribute on July 1, 1928 and continued the tradition every day for the next four months of the summer. When fall arrived, the Brigade decided to suspend playing, but there was such a public outcry from the people of Ypres that they decided to continue. Amazingly, the Last Post ceremony has taken place EVERY DAY since July 1, 1928, and was only not held at the Menin Gate during the years that Belgium was occupied by the Germans during WWII (it was instead held in Brookwood Military Cemetery in Surrey, England by the Belgian government-in-exile).
     To this very day, the ceremony still happens, with crowds gathering every night at the memorial to witness this spectacular tradition. At 7:30pm the police arrive, and traffic is stopped from passing through the Menin Gate for a full hour. The crowd is hushed, the echoing sound of traffic ceases, and I'm sure it is an incredibly powerful experience.

     I just thought this was an amazing story and something that I hope we all get to experience someday as part of the history people bucket list. Information courtesy of and historylearningsite as well as the presentation in my European History seminar.
     Thanks for reading,
Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

World War Wednesdays: Final Remembrance Day in Ottawa, 2016

The parade of veterans in front of the War Memorial
     Knowing that this would be my final Remembrance Day in Ottawa for the foreseeable future certainly contributed to the emotional melancholy I feel every year around this day. I had my plan set out for a whole year for the best places to stand and the ideal time to arrive (after three years of trial and error) and hoped that this year would be the crowning glory of my treasured November 11 memories. As it seems to happen with a lot of other things, despite these best intentions things didn't exactly happen according to plan, but I certainly learned a lot as a result.
An early shot before the action started
     For starters, I actually was able to stay on schedule and arrive well before the ceremony began. When I was leaving my place in Gatineau, Quebec for the journey into Ottawa by bus, the weather seemed to be quite mild and much nicer than I had expected. After arriving downtown, I quickly realized that wasn't the case. The spot where I was planning to stand, where much of the action passes closest and where the dignitaries arrive, already seemed to be filling up, so I played it safe and decided to stay on Elgin Street, where I was closer to the rails, in the hopes of a better view (mistake #1). There was already a school group from the Maritimes and a few couples who were visiting from afar (one was all the way from Winnipeg). It's always nice to get to know the people you're standing with at events like this, I've met some very nice fellow Canadians that way!

    It was about five minutes into the waiting process (which began around 9:30am) that we started realizing how brutal the weather was going to be. People started putting on their hoods and zipping their coats a little higher, and I couldn't help but think of all the elderly veterans who were on their way into those conditions. The longer we waited, the wind and lack of movement really started to get brutal. I've been in Ottawa for four years and made a lot of silly fashion choices in -40 degree weather, but that day was truly the coldest I have ever been. When all the groups of soldiers and cadets started marching in, I tried for a few photos so that I could share them here, but the cold put a damper on my photography abilities. My apologies that there aren't as many photos as in previous years.

     That's about when the pipers rolled in. It turned out the large blank space between our spot and the War Memorial, where all the action happens, was where the pipers in their tall, black hats were supposed to stand. As a result, seeing anything happening at the memorial was basically impossible, and even the massive screens attached to several buildings were difficult to see. Trust me when I tell you that watching from the comfort of your home sometimes has its benefits! However, there really is no replacing the unexpected little moments that always seem to come along with events like this, and that I wouldn't trade for any front row seat. As always tends to happen when thousands of people are contained by a fence of metal rails, it is difficult to move once you've entered the crowd and almost impossible to get to the other side of the rails. I had witnessed more than one high-ranking veteran having to climb over the gates with no offers of assistance thanks to the rails being supposedly unable to open. Shortly before the pipers arrived but after the ceremony had begun, a gentleman with an older man linked to his elbow appeared to be working his way along the edge of the gate. When he got closer to me, I heard him indicating that he was trying to get his father to the other side of the gates and up to where the veterans sit at the memorial. Most people were very kind in letting him pass and even trying to get the police officers' attention to open the gate for them, but I did hear a few remarks about how they were clearly late. As they passed, the older man turned to me and jokingly commented on what a difficult time they were having, and I wished him luck in getting through. From the corner of my eye, I noticed the pins and badges he was wearing on his jacket, which said that he had been a Spitfire pilot and had served at Normandy on D-Day. Here was one of my aviation heroes struggling through the same crowd by whom he was supposed to be honored. I won't forget that gentleman, or his optimism, anytime soon.

     Overall, while I was rigid with cold and all of my muscles clenched against the driving wind, I was so concerned with the well being of the rest of those veterans that I could hardly focus on the service. I know how difficult it can be to be over ninety years old and in your own, warm home that it was hard to imagine the pain they had to have been experiencing in those conditions. However, over the course of the concluding veterans' parade and the aftermath of the ceremony when they all leave the memorial, I never once saw any of them appear to be affected by the weather in any way. Each and every one of those men and women stood tall and walked proudly, their minds clearly not in Ottawa at all. It was amazing to witness their unbelievable strength, and it reminded me that theirs truly is the Greatest Generation; we can never understand the limits to which they have been pushed in their lifetime.

     One less than uplifting event during the ceremony, which I'm not sure was covered by many of the television broadcasts, was the incident where a piece of plywood was blown off of a building under construction and into the crowd. There is always a bit of an unsettled feeling at the ceremony, at least for me, with the snipers visible on the rooftops and so many people (including dignitaries) in such close quarters. After that incident, though, I realized that my biggest fear is not of something like that happening during a public event, but that few would notice that it had even happened. I saw the plywood blow off the building and be thrown up into the air above the hundreds of people, slashing its way down in a zigzagging motion that one of the witnesses later compared to that of a guillotine. I instantly thought that something horrific was about to happen, but there really wasn't anything that anyone could have done in the seconds it took for the board to make its way down. As it got closer to hitting the people, it seemed to eerily slow, floating as a flat surface before swinging into a light post and shattering the glass everywhere. While I did hear that a woman was injured, the damage that could have resulted from that was terrifying to imagine and everyone there was extremely lucky to have either missed seeing it or missed having that awful memory of the day.
The Hon. Kent Hehr speaking with the crowd
     After the ceremony, there is a bit of time for the dignitaries and veterans to depart the memorial and the necessary preparations to be made for opening it to the public. In that span of time, a higher number of people than usual opted to leave, not waiting to place their poppy on the tomb of the unknown soldier. I decided to press forward and made it to the edge of the rails so that I could be among the first to arrive at the tomb once it was opened. Last year, I did this by accident and ended up being included in CBC's live broadcast of the event, and my grandparents at home were very eager to see if that would happen again (of course I'm aware that the day has nothing to do with me and being on TV was the least of my priorities). While I was waiting, I noticed that the MP for Calgary Centre and Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Hon. Kent Hehr, was making his way along the crowd. I waved to him and he came over, shook my hand and gave me a lovely introduction. While I'm certain we were both frozen to the core at that point and I actually don't remember too much of what either of us said, I do remember that he was a wonderful person and it was great to meet him after much anticipation on my part. He is doing some amazing things with the reopening of Veterans Affairs offices across Canada and it is great to see his obvious passion for our veterans.

     Finally, the gates were opened and I was able to get to the tomb to lay my poppy. This is always the pinnacle of the day and one of the most emotional aspects; it is incredibly humbling to approach the unknown soldier and spend a few moments reflecting on the magnitude of all that he represents. The photos from this point are probably the best, so I will let them speak for themselves:

This dog served as a reminder of the countless animals who also paid the ultimate sacrifice in times of war

     Overall, while it certainly did not go according to plan, my final experience at the national Remembrance Day ceremony was as touching and memorable as ever. I truly am so grateful to have been able to experience these four events, both as a Canadian and as a historian. It can be so easy sometimes to get bogged down in the details and think of the history as the material on an exam or in an essay, and it's events like this that remind me that these are real experiences that still exist in the memories of many. I encourage you all to consider attending the ceremony yourselves in future years as it is a moving experience that I wish you could all have. Hopefully this post was a good substitute for this year's edition, and you can learn from my mistakes when you make your plans to attend!
     Thanks for reading,
Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

World War Wednesdays: Donuts of the First World War: The Hole Story

     I thought it might be nice to give this Remembrance Week post a dose of sweetness as we prepare to reflect upon some of the more somber aspects of our wartime history this Friday. A great thing about this story is that it includes some actual testimony from our story's star, and you'll be able to tell her parts when the font looks like this. 

     Our story begins in 1917 France, where young Helen Purviance, an ensign in the Salvation Army, was sent to work with the American First Division: There were four companies in my outfit, A, B, C, D. The major would assign them in turn to take responsibility for taking our tent down, packing our supplies and loading them on top of a truck.  We would climb up on top of our pile of supplies when we moved.  We always moved at night because of the ammunition train... General Pershing wasn’t keen about women going close to the front lines. He said he didn’t want to take the responsibility for us. We told him he wasn’t. We were taking the responsibility to do this. It seemed to us that the greater their (the soldiers) danger, the greater was their need... They armed us immediately with a gas mask, helmet and a .45 calibre revolver. They instructed us to take target practice for our own protection.”

     One day, as she and her assistant, Margaret Sheldon were taking a Sunday afternoon stroll near the Salvation Army hut behind the front lines, the pair come up with an idea to whip up a new sweet treat for the soldiers: “We had been making fudge for the soldiers and we were trying to think of something else to make with some supplies we’d gotten from the commissary of the ammunition train. And the more we talked, it just spelled doughnuts... Margaret said, ‘But what about eggs?’ I said I would go see the villagers about eggs. We got the eggs. When we made the first doughnuts, we partitioned off the hut with a blanket so the soldiers wouldn’t know what we were making until it was ready."
     Ensign Purviance coaxed the wood fire in the potbellied stove to keep it at an even heat for frying. Because it was back-breaking to lean over the low fire, she spent most of the time kneeling in front of the stove"I was literally on my knees when those first doughnuts were fried, seven at a time, in a small frypan. There was also a prayer in my heart that somehow this home touch would do more for those who ate the doughnuts than satisfy a physical hunger,"

     The first soldier to receive a doughnut was Pvt. Braxton Zuber of Auburn, Ala., who later worked with the girls as a full-time aide: “This came about because it was discovered Zuber had lied about his age when he enlisted.  He was only 16. When he was sick and had to go the hospital, he confessed his real age. The military was going to send him home. We had a detail assigned to help us get water and things such as that. So when the Army said it was going to send Zuber home, I said to them, ‘You are now assigning me an able bodied man who could be used for other duties.  Why don’t you let me have Zuber. Until he confessed, you would have never known he was under age. You could give me him instead of sending me a different man each day."

     Soon the tempting aroma of frying doughnuts drew a lengthy line of soldiers to the hut. Standing in mud and rain, they patiently waited their turn. Although the girls worked late into the night, they could serve only 150 doughnuts the first day. The next day, that number was doubled. A while later, when fully equipped for the job, they fried from 2,500 to 9,000 doughnuts daily, as did other lassies along the frontline trenches. After several soldiers asked, "Can't you make a doughnut with a hole in it?", Ensign Purviance had an elderly French blacksmith improvise a doughnut cutter by fastening the top of a condensed milk can and camphor-ice tube to a wooden block. Later, all sorts of other inventions were employed, such as the lid from a baking powder can or a lamp chimney to cut the doughnut, with the top of a coffee percolator to make the hole.
     The soldiers cheered the doughnuts and soon referred to Salvation Army lassies as "doughnut girls," even when they baked apple pies or other treats. The simple doughnut became a symbol of all that the Salvation Army was doing to ease the hardships of the frontline fighting man -- the canteens in primitive dugouts and huts, the free refreshments, religious services, concerts, and a clothes-mending service. Today Salvation Army Red Shield Clubs and USO units offer members of the Armed Forces a variety of services, ranging from recreational facilities to family counseling -- but the famous doughnut remains a perennial favorite. Nor is it confined to those in uniform. During every sort of peacetime emergency --fires, floods, earthquake, transit strikes, blackouts -- The Salvation Army's mobile canteens have provided thousands of civilians with the doughnuts that stand for the Salvationist's loving concern and readiness to help in time of need.

     In case you want to see what all the excitement was about, here's the recipe (

The Original recipe for donuts as made by the Salvation Army Lassies in WWI 
WWI Donut Recipe - Makes approximately 15 - 20 donuts 

4 cups plain flour
1˝ tsp salt
˝ tsp butter
4 tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 egg
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg

Put flour in shallow pan, add salt, baking powder, and Sugar. 
Rub in butter with fingertips. 
Add the well beaten egg and milk and stir thoroughly. 
Toss on floured board, roll to one-fourth inch in thickness, shape, fry, and drain. 
Mix the cinnamon and nutmeg with fine granulated or icing sugar and use to dust the donuts after cooking.

“I have always said that the doughnuts became known in 1847. But I do think they came into their own on Oct. 19, 1917, when Margaret Sheldon and I decided to make doughnuts in World War I.”

     I'd like to recognize the Doughboy Center, Susan Mitchem, director of the archives at the Salvation Army Headquarters, and the Salvation Army of Indiana for the information and quotes. I'd also like to mention that the Royal Canadian Legion Poppy Campaign is underway, and I encourage you all to look for your nearest poppy box and make a donation if you haven't already. One hundred percent of the proceeds go towards supporting our veterans, so it is our duty to repay them in such a small capacity. Please remember the regulations for poppy wearing: do not attach any pins or emblems into the center, wear the poppy only on a lapel or shirtfront, and be sure to purchase a new one every year. It's also not too late to begin thinking about how you will spend this Remembrance Day. Make a plan to attend your local ceremony, or at the very least to observe a moment of silence at 11:00am on Friday. If you're in Elgin County or the area, here is a list of ceremonies and events: If it's possible for you to take photos in a respectful manner or just share your experience in words, I'd love to hear about how you observe Remembrance Day and ways that this year was memorable. In the meantime, have a safe and respectful week and as always, 
     Thanks for reading, 
     Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

World War Wednesdays: Africa and the Second World War

Senegalese Riflemen who fought with the French

     This week, we're embarking into uncharted territory with WWW's first foray into a non-western perspective. I'll admit that my primary interest in Canadian and German history has dominated the narrative for the past two years, but a lack of knowledge of other sides of the story has also prevented me from expanding the horizons. Naturally, I have been interested in reading about the North African campaign of the Second World War and the legendary figure of Erwin Rommel, but that was the extent of my knowledge of the wartime conditions on that continent. Even during my in-depth Second World War course with Dr. Serge Durflinger, there wasn't too much discussion of Africa's role. Given that we call it the Second World War, I knew there had to be a connection, but never learned of it until very recently. I mentioned a few posts ago that I am taking a course on African history, which is part of my non-Western credit requirement. Since this is not my area of interest, I'll be honest and say that I wasn't overly excited about taking the class, and it's definitely been a challenge so far, but I did learn something completely new about the war and wanted to share it with you this week. I think a lot of us would say that our lack of knowledge on this topic does not come from an unwillingness to learn, but more from a lack of exposure to these stories. My hope is that you'll take away even a little information in order to acknowledge the African experience, and keep it in mind as we prepare to recognize that period in our history.

     All information comes from a lecture delivered by Dr. Meredith Teretta on 11 October 2016.

     My professor began by asserting that the Second World War actually began in Africa, which obviously took me by surprise. She said that the first expansion of fascism took place not in Europe, but in Ethiopia, with Mussolini's 1935 invasion. This was related to both strategic and economic reasons, was a symbol of the birth of Italian power (Italy had controlled parts of that territory until they were defeated and expelled by the Ethiopians after the 1896 Battle of Adwa), and was a way of proving that the nation had been reborn. A hundred thousand Italian troops invaded from neighboring Somaliland and Eritrea, using superior technology including poison gas, and ultimately occupied the nation until 1941. Since Ethipoia was a member of the League of Nations, Emperor Haile Selassi made an appeal after the invasion which led to his honour as Time Man of the Year for 1935, but no action was taken by the League. The appeal did create a great deal of press, especially among members of the African diaspora in the West, where it established anti-colonialist, black solidarity sentiments.
Haile Selassi on the cover of Time 
     In June 1940, as Paris was occupied by the Germans and France fell, a hundred thousand African soldiers were mobilized to defend their colonial mother country, and seventy-five thousand were already on their way. African casualties in France already totaled twenty-four thousand, and there were between fifteen and sixteen thousand French African Prisoners of War in Germany. However, not all of French Africa was fighting for the same cause. You'll remember that when France fell, it was divided into two zones: Vichy France, which was a puppet of Nazi Germany under Philippe Pétain, and Free France, which supported the Allied cause under Charles de Gaulle. French West African territories aligned with Vichy France, as did North Africa. On the other hand, French Equatorial Africa under Félix Eboué pledged allegiance to de Gaulle and Free France, becoming a secondary seat of government with Brazzaville as the capital of Free France from 1940 to 1943.
Senegalese Tirailleurs prisoners in 1940
     The French African troops were called Tirailleurs, as they had also been called in the First World War, and played an important role in putting French West Africa under Free French control. Battlefronts included the late 1940 Allied invasion of North Africa (Operation Compass), where French West Africa joined the Free French troops in support of the Allies. Between 1943 and 1945, over a hundred thousand troops were drafted from French West Africa, and soldiers from both French West Africa and French Equatorial Africa made up over half of the total of the French Free Army.
British African soldiers in Burma
     In terms of British Africa, five hundred thousand African soldiers fought for the British, and fifteen thousand in total were killed.

     Overall, one million African men contributed to the war effort, and an estimated fifty thousand were killed in active duty.

     After the war, three hundred thousand African soldiers returned home in 1945. Africa experienced a much slower process in returning to civilian life, as troops remained in Africa until 1947 because preference was given to European soldiers to return home. In addition, the continent shouldered an economic burden as a result of its natural resource exploitation during the war. African minerals played a significant role in the Allied war effort, with an estimated ninety-nine percent of the Allied uranium coming from the continent, and those extractions during the peak years of the war were crucial for armament supply. Major mineral-producing countries included South Africa, the Belgian Congo, both Rodesias, the Gold Coast, Nigeria, Angola, Sierra Leone, Morocco, and Southwest Africa. As a result, the colonies were used as a means of shoring up the economies of their mother countries and the war accelerated the entry of Africa's mineral extraction into multinational corporate capitalism, a system that still plagues those countries to this day.

African veterans
     During the war, African soldiers had been exposed to the pro-democracy and anti-fascist ideas of their European and North American comrades. They came home from service, back into the rural areas of the continent, and began spreading those ideas and proliferating political parties. This, combined with the minimal compensation and recognition they received from the colonizing nations for their wartime contributions, prompted them to use their dissatisfaction to achieve political influence. Between the end of the war and 1960, their political opinions ranged from the search for retribution to outright revolution in regard to colonial independence.

     Overall, I think that Africa's story of the Second World War is one of many unfortunate and upsetting narratives from that period, and should be discussed and recognized by a wider audience. I'd like to thank you for expanding your historical horizons this week!

     I'd also like to mention that the Royal Canadian Legion Poppy Campaign is underway, and I encourage you all to look for your nearest poppy box and make a donation. One hundred percent of the proceeds go towards supporting our veterans, so it is our duty to repay them in such a small capacity. Please remember the regulations for poppy wearing: do not attach any pins or emblems into the center, wear the poppy only on a lapel or shirtfront, and be sure to purchase a new one every year. It's also not too early to begin thinking about how you will spend this Remembrance Day. If you are in the Elgin County area, I would highly recommend attending this year's ceremony held by the Township of Southold. It's on Sunday, November 6th at the Shedden Keystone Complex, with author and historian Ted Barris as the guest speaker. Mr. Barris is an excellent scholar of Canadian history, and I've worked with some of his material when writing about the No. 4 Bombing and Gunnery School in Fingal. I'm very sad that I can't be at the ceremony to meet him, so please be sure to attend on my behalf and hear him speak about Vimy Ridge. More details here:
     That's everything for this week! Thanks for reading,
     Delany (@DLeitchHistory on Twitter)