Wednesday, September 30, 2015

World War Wednesdays: Country Music and the World Wars

     This week's post is for any country music fans out there! I've always been a huge fan of the good old country classics, and this week I thought it would be interesting to combine two of my favourite things and discuss how it was affected by wartime. You'll be sure to recognize some names and hopefully even some songs!

First World War

     Commercial country music as we know it has its origins in the aftermath of the First World War, during the 1920s. America was determined to return to a peaceful, normal life, and country recordings in the 20s and 30s reflected that sentiment. A noteworthy exception is one side of Jimmie Rodgers's very first recording, "A Soldier's Sweetheart", which recalls "that awful  German war". In general, most songs from this period which dealt with war as a theme were about the American Civil War two generations earlier, usually told from the Southern perspective.
Jimmie Rodgers
 Here is a link to the 1927 recording:

Second World War

     Between 1939 and 1941, America once again saw itself surrounded by a world in conflict, before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 caused them to fully enter the war. Denver Darling recounted that fateful day in his song "Cowards Over Pearl Harbor".
Denver Darling
   Singer-songwriter Carson Robison produced a number of wartime ballads that would cause quite a stir with audiences today, such as "Here We Go to Tokio, Said Barnacle Bill the Sailor," "We're Going to Slap the Dirty Little Jap," and the double-sided "Hitler's Letter to Hirohito" and "Hirohito's Letter to Hitler".
    The real patriotic hit for 1941 came out of New York through singer Elton Britt. Called "There's a Star-Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere", the song told the unforgettable story of a crippled mountain boy wanting the "help bring the Axis down a peg".

     Here's a link to the catchy patriotic tune:

     Remarkably, country music experienced some major changes as a result of the Second World War. Before 1941, it was a regional product of the American south, but as the war threw Southerners all over the world for service and domestic war industry jobs, they took their music with them. The audience thus exploded and songs became recognized not only nationally but globally.

     Eight months into the war, in August 1942, a musicians' union strike resulted in a ban on all new recordings which lasted up to two years. By 1944, of course, the war was still being fought, and country music had not lost any of its previous patriotic enthusiasm. Gene Autry, then a pilot in the Asian theater, released "At Mail Call Today", Eddy Arnold had "Mother's Prayer" and "Did You See My Daddy Over There", And Bob Wills recounted the Pacific war with "White Cross on Okinawa" and "Stars and Stripes on Iwo Jima".

    In addition, Ernest Tubb released the song that inspired this week's post: "Soldier's Last Letter". It's a moving and emotional tune written by Redd Stewart during his time as a sergeant in the South Pacific. When Tubb released it in 1944, it became a No. 1 hit on the country charts and stayed there for four weeks. Merle Haggard later had a hit single with the song in 1970.
The great Ernest Tubb
     Here's a link to the song:

    Overall, the Second World War saw a major shift in the tradition of country music and wartime, which was born out of the post-WWI period. Some of these songs are tied to the most infamous names in country music, and they're as great to listen to today as they were in the dark days of their release. Country music owes a lot to this time in history, as well as the artists who gave it both a voice and a twang.

Supplementary Information courtesy of "Country Music At War" by Ronnie Pugh for CMT.

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Seedy Saturdays- The Tomato

Happy Saturday Everyone!  This week I bring you some information on the tomato.

Though thought of as a vegetable, the tomato is a fruit/berry of the nightshade plant.  Native to the South American Andes, the tomato was first used as a food in Mexico and the Spanish were the ones who helped it to spread throughout the world as they colonized the Americas.  There is evidence of tomatoes being grown in British North America in 1710.  They were more often grown for decoration however, not for food, as people thought they were poisonous at the time. 

As mentioned above, the tomato is a fruit, coming from a flowering plant, but is considered a vegetable for cooking purposes.  It has much less sugar than other fruits and because it is not as sweet as others, it is cooked like a vegetable, as a part of a salad or main dish and not in a dessert.  There was quite a bit of protest over whether to call the tomato a fruit or vegetable however.  On May 10, 1893 the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the tomato be legally classified as a vegetable based on the definition that they are generally used as a part of dinner, not dessert. 

A few interesting facts include: that the tomato was called pommes d'amour, meaning "love apples" in French.  In Spain, there is an annual celebration called La Tomatina, where there is a massive tomato fight, and lastly, during the 1800s, people would throw rotten tomatoes as “nonlethal” weapons to inform stage performers that they were bad. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

World War Wednesdays: the Battle of Britain 75th Anniversary Ceremony, Ottawa


      A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the anniversary of the start of the Battle of Britain, a major  Second World War air battle between the British Royal Air Force and German Luftwaffe during the summer and autumn of 1940. The official date for recognition of the battle this year was September 20, 2015, also known as Battle of Britain Sunday. To mark the occasion, a ceremony was held on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, to commemorate this significant event in our history. I was very fortunate to have attended the ceremony, and wanted to share some of the highlights with you this week! (If the videos do not work automatically, there are links below to where I uploaded them on YouTube).

     One of the main highlights of the ceremony was the presence of two reproduction planes which were parked on the lawn in front of centre block so that people could see up close the aircraft involved in the battle. On the left in the photo is the Supermarine Spitfire, and on the right is a Hawker Hurricane. The Spitfire has become the symbol of the Battle of Britain, and the Hurricane proved a strong example of Britain's defiance against the seemingly unstoppable British advance.
Another view of the Spitfire

The Hawker Hurricane

The Spitfire in front of the Peace Tower

The Hurricane in front of the Peace Tower
    Before the ceremony, the bells in the Peace Tower had been programmed to chime the tunes of popular British WWII songs such as Vera Lynn's "When the Lights Go On Again" and "The White Cliffs of Dover". I'm not sure if you'll be able to hear them in the video, but I captured the main tune to "When the Lights Go On Again".

    The flag on the Peace Tower was also changed for the occasion to that of the Governor General of Canada's to signify his presence.
     The ceremony itself was very moving, as it incorporated some of the traditional sombre elements of ceremonial remembrance along with aspects more specific to the event, including quotes from Winston Churchill and some of the airmen involved in the battle. A poem by Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr., a member of the No. 412 Squadron, RCAF who was killed in December of 1941, was read, which was particularly emotional.

     The ceremony culminated in a truly rare and remarkable sight-- flypasts from Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft past and present. I was lucky enough to capture them from the perfect spot, on what was a perfect day to be looking at the sky.

     In the centre is the Avro Lancaster bomber. The other planes are: a Curtiss P-40-N Kittyhawk, a Robillard Brothers North American Mustang IV (P-51 in the USA), a Hawker Hurricane Mk IV, and a Supermarine Spitfire XVI, all courtesy of Vintage Wings of Canada.

     The larger helicopter in the center is a CH-147F Chinook, and the other two are CH-146 Griffons.
    A CC-117 plane.

     A CC-150 Polaris and two CF-18 Hornets.

     And finally, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds flew the "missing man" formation to honour those who passed away in service of their country. You'll see the one aircraft depart from the group in a salute to the brave men and women who served during the Battle of Britain. 
Canada's Commander-in-Chief, His Excellency the Right Honorable David Johnston looks on as the Snowbirds emerge,  courtesy of Rideau Hall. 
     As seen in the pictures, it could  not have been a better day to honour this remarkable event. It was amazing to witness these aircraft in person, and I certainly will never forget it.

Thanks for reading, 


Monday, September 21, 2015

Memory Mondays- The Pearce Homestead

In 1809, John S. Pearce settled in the Dunwich area, along with the Backus, Storey and Patterson families.  Pearce purchased 200 acres of land in 1813 from Colonel Talbot and the house still on the property today was built in 1874.  The basement was often used for baking, with one fireplace there and two more on the main level.  There are two staircases in the house that lead to an upstairs with 8 bedrooms and 2 hallways.  The walls of the home are 3 bricks thick made from clay from the farm, and the foundation was made from farm stones and mortar.  It is a beautiful home that overlooks Lake Erie and has a great deal of history.  Have a great week and take care!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Behind the Scenes Sunday - Heritage Farm Show


Another Heritage Farm Show has come and gone!  Although the weekend was overcast and breezy and there were other events in the area, we had lots of visitors on site.  There are some pictures below and more on our Facebook page.  I want to use this post to thank everyone who made our 12th Annual Heritage Farm Show a success.  We appreciate you all and I apologize in advance if I have missed anyone.

Peter, Pat & John Agar
Don & Betty Ann Bobier
John & Angela Bobier
Butch's Small Engine
Clean Cut Lawn Care
Connell Family
D & L's Place
Bill Denning
Dixon's Feed Service
DJW Mini Backhoe Service
Don’s Detailing & Refinishing
Jeremy & Coralee Dunn
Dutton & District Lions Club
Dutton Foodland
Dutton Variety & Gas
Brian & Liz Elliott
Rob & Janice Ellis
Fairles Food Market
Glen Ford
Sophie Gowan
Great Lakes New Holland
Knight’s Home Hardware
Cal McCallum
Cal & Mary McMillan
Don Miller
Dog Agility Group
Duncan & Eileen McTavish
Municipality of Dutton-Dunwich
Dave Murray
NAPA Deland Auto Parts
Branka Nesic
Out To Lunch Cafe
Carm Pfeiffer
PJs Pizza
Steve Proctor
Queens Line Automotive
Isabel Reid
Lisa & Richard Reid
Brad & Joanne Reive
Rick’s Auto Repair
Rodney Building and Metal Products
Shade and Shelter Tent Rentals
Shedden Fair
Talbot Trails Restaurant
Tasty Sweets Café & Bakery
Thamesville Community Credit Union
Thompson’s Seed
Ian Toll
Frank Vysocil
Wallacetown Agricultural Society (Wallacetown Fair October 2-4)
Jim & Leta West
West Elgin Mutual Insurance
West Lorne Foodland
Wicketthorn Farm
Susan P. Wilson
and many more!
Thank you to all our exhibitors, vendors, staff, farm show committee and volunteers!



Saturday, September 19, 2015

Saturday Sightings- Brown-headed Cowbird

Happy Saturday everyone!  This week is about the Cowbird.

The female Brown-headed Cowbird does not build a nest, she instead saves all her energy for producing eggs and can sometimes lay more than three dozen eggs a year.  They lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and abandon their chicks for foster parents to take care of.  This is called parasitism and has caused the numbers of the host birds to decline as their young take over the nests.

This bird can be found in open habitats, such as fields, pastures, meadows, forest edges and lawns.  When not displaying or feeding, they often perch high on tree branches that stick out.  They have glossy black plumage and a rich brown head, which can often look black at a distance or in poor lighting.  The females are completely brown and have fine streaking on the belly, with a dark eye.

Take care!

Catie and Ben

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

World War Wednesdays: FIRST BLOGIVERSARY!!!

     You heard me! I've officially been cranking out my weekly historical ramblings FOR A WHOLE ENTIRE YEAR. For some reason it's actually oddly emotional to think that I've been able to do something I love for a whole year, and every day I'm amazed at where it's taken me. Looking back on the last 365 days is bittersweet in a lot of ways, but this blog has always been one of the sweetest parts. Even when it seems like I've run out of things to bore you with write about, life has a way of throwing me these tiny little threads of inspiration and I end up learning more than I ever thought possible. I know I've mentioned this before, but I think it's so amazing and surprising that I could have set out 365 days ago to write something about the world wars every single week, and I probably haven't even put a dent in the topics that are available.

     Since I've kept this blog personal as well as informative, it's actually been a great way to map my growth as an historian as well as (at times) a sort of public diary. I thought it would be interesting to look back on the past year's posts to see how much has been experienced, discussed, and learned. If you've been with me from the beginning, it'll be a trip down memory lane, and if you're new it'll be a good catch-up! (All of these posts are available to revisit if you click on the corresponding months to the right).

Fall 2014
    My first few posts were from some experiences that I had at the beginning of my second year at uOttawa which in hindsight were some pretty pivotal moments. After a Facebook post on the anniversary of Canada's entry into WWII sparked some sharing, I realized the significance of personal connections to the greater events in our history. Meeting historian Martin Middlebrook and hearing him speak on WWI soldiers was an incredible reinforcement of my values as an historian who cares about what has been said just as much as what is being said. During the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War I had the opportunity to interview Canadian War Museum acting director of research Dr. Andrew Burtch, which illuminated the legacies left behind by the first global conflict in human history. A return trip to the War Museum prompted a post on one of my favorite pieces in its collection, the little bear from WWI.
Then, in October, the entire country was shaken to its core by the brutal slaying of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. The events of that day and the ones that followed are still as fresh in my mind as when they happened, and that week's post is probably my favorite from the year. Then came Remembrance Day in Ottawa, which was made even more meaningful and emotional.

Winter 2014
      Posts from this period were extensions of the development of my own areas of interest thanks to some truly great classes and professors. I wrote about film, selected topics in Canadian history, and scratched the surface of what I now hope to be my Master's thesis topic, the Bombing and Gunnery School at Fingal, Ontario. I also had a memorable experience at the Fighting at Flanders: Gas. Mud. Memory. exhibit at the Canadian War Museum.

Spring 2015
     Things got a bit more personal in the spring when History People Problems started identifying themselves, and the topics took a turn for the local (Elgin County, Ontario, and area). My most popular post to date happened in April: "Panic in Port Stanley: The Loss of the Olga, 1944", which had 228 views!

Summer 2015 to Present
     Through the summer and up until now I still write about whatever interesting war-related stories find their way into my life, with some brief interludes of History People Problems and commemorative anniversary posts. Now that I'm starting my third year, the learning and experiences continue, and I can't wait to see what I'll have to reflect on a year from now!

     A huge thanks to all of you who follow these posts and care about history as much as I do. It's been a remarkable year and having people read all about it makes everything so much better. I also owe some major gratitude to Backus-Page House Cultural Manager Angela Bobier for making it all possible!
               Thanks for reading,

P.S. Please check out my new historical Twitter account to stay in the loop, @DLeitchHistory 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Memory Mondays- St. Peter's Cemetery

St. Peter’s Anglican Church Cemetery is also, like the church across the street, on donated land from Mary Storey and her brother Leslie Patterson, original settlers to the area.  Many of the early pioneers of this area and their descendants are buried there, including Colonel Thomas Talbot, with the first marked burial being in 1825.  Not only are the large stones beautiful and decoratively carved, it is simply a peaceful place.  There is also a very old, very large Himalayan Spruce growing just off from the perimeter of the cemetery.  It is a wonder to see and a marvel, as this species of trees is not meant to grow in this area and normally wouldn’t have survived as this one has.  Take care and have a great week!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Saturday Sightings- the Pileated Woodpecker

Happy Saturday everyone!  This week, information is being brought to you in regards to the bird that we can hear around the grounds here at the museum

The Pileated Woodpecker is one of the biggest and most striving birds in North America.  It whacks at dead trees and fallen logs looking for prey, like caterpillars and ants.  When it is done whacking at trees and logs, it leaves unique rectangular holes.  Their bill is long and chisel-like. 

This bird has mostly black with white stripes on the face and neck, but their defining feature is their flaming-red crest.  The Pileated Woodpecker has white underwings and small white crescents on the upper side, which are revealed when they fly.  Their wings are broad and this bird can seem crow-like when they fly. Males are the ones with the red stripe on the cheek. 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Catie and Ben

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Events to attend at The Backus-Page House Museum

Hi everyone! It's hard to believe that September is here! 

Don't forget to mark on your calendar this years Heritage Farm Show at the Backus-Page House Museum! This years farm show is taking place on September 12th and 13th,2015. The farm show is truly an event you wont want to miss. Bring your entire family as there will be something of interest for everyone!

Tickets for this years Motor Coach Tour at the Delhi Tobacco Museum & Heritage Center are now on sale! The tour will be on Saturday December 5th, 2015. The tour will be travelling with the Great Canadian Motor Coaches from Kitchener. Tickets are $75.00/person and includes lunch. For more information regarding this event contact 519-582-0278.

Also taking place at the Delhi Tobacco Museum and Heritage Center is the Apples Aplenty workshop, which will be taking place on September 19th,2015. Tickets are $35.00/person. Pre-registration with payment is required one week in advance. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

World War Wednesdays: Elephants at War

     A little while ago, I came across this image of a machine gun mounted upon the back of an elephant, and I wanted to read more about the role that elephants played in wartime. We've talked before about the animals of the First World War, but I had no idea that elephants were also involved. You learn something new everyday, and this is proof that no species on earth was spared the experiences of the world wars!

   During the ravages of the First World War, the intense demands of cavalry warfare led to most of England's horses being purchased by the British military and sent to the Western Front. For those on the home front trying to maintain food production, farmers and traders had to find alternative beasts of burden to carry out the heavy work.

     Pictured above is Lizzie the elephant, who performed tricks as part of a travelling menagerie before the war. When World War One broke out, she was conscripted to help with heavy labour, fitted with a harness, and sent to work at scrap metal merchants in the industrial city of Sheffield, England. Her task was to cart munitions, machines, and scrap metal, which had previously been done by three horses who were shipped off to war. 
     The World's Fair newspaper first documented Lizzie's appearance in February, 1916, noting how the "great dearth of carting facilities in Sheffield" had led to her being "pressed into service" from Sedgewick's menagerie. It read:
     "Last week it was seen striding along with ease drawing a load of iron to a munition works... The weight of the load was equal to that usually allotted to three horses... Some passing horses were startled by this unexpected 'dilution' of their labour, and sniffed and shied as the elephant passed".

     Naturally, this would have been a strange phenomenon for the people of Sheffield, who had never seen an elephant before in their lives. Apparently, Lizzie was quite a character, and there is a story about her putting her trunk through someone's window and stealing their dinner!
     Unfortunately, little is known about Lizzie's fate after the war, though there is some evidence that she went on to work at a farm.

     In the town of Horley, Surrey, England, elephants from the locally-based Lord Sanger's Circus were used during the war to plow fields and transport agricultural loads around farms. Of course, this useful work would also have provided the circus with publicity, so many people benefited from the arrangement. 

     In Germany, elephants experienced a different type of hardship, notably for those living in some of the world's oldest public zoos. Hunger blockades inflicted by Britain brought most German zoos to the verge of bankruptcy, with a vast reduction in animal populations due to food shortages.

   The Tierpark Hagenbeck is a private zoo in Hamburg established in 1863 by Carl Hagenbeck, Sr., a fish seller and amateur animal collector. It was the first zoo to have enclosures surrounded by moats rather than barred cages to seem more like a natural environment. During the First World War, many of the zookeepers were drafted into the army, and some of Hagenbeck's animals were rented out for hauling wood, coal, and on home deliveries, It would not have been unusual to see elephants or trained bears working as draft animals and yoked to heavy wagons.

     The Second World War again brought hardship to German zoos, and significantly to the elephant population. On July 24, 1943, Allied air raids destroyed three-quarters of the Tierpark Hagenbeck in 90 minutes, killing 9 men and 450 animals. In his book titled "Animals Are My Life", Lorenz Hagenbeck documented the devastating event:
     "The worst part of it, however, was the fire, which was now quite beyond control. When the first incendiaries came down on the roof of the elephant house and this burst into flames, our resourceful chief keeper, Fritz Theisinger, quickly loosed his fourteen elephants, which he had kept tethered by only one hind leg, and led them outside. There they could try to avoid the incendiaries which were falling everywhere, and they took refuge in the large pool. Next, aided by the Czech P.O.W.s, he made an attempt to save the house, but at this point the P.O.W.s lost their nerve and ran away."

Even after the war, elephants from the Hamburg Zoo were commissioned to assist with cleanup

     Last week, I talked about my interest in how historical events on a large scale affected individuals on a small scale, and this week's post goes beyond that to include even the most unlikely of the four-legged wartime experiences. It is hard to imagine how scary and unfamiliar these events would have been for these gentle giants, and their story serves as proof of the devastating effects of human conflict in all aspects of life.
     Thanks for reading, 

Special thanks to:

Monday, September 7, 2015

Memory Mondays- St. Peter's Church

Built in the autumn of 1827, St. Peter’s Anglican Church was founded in the heart of the Talbot Settlement.  It was erected by the community known as “Little Ireland” on 10 acres of Mary Storey’s land.  There are still weekly church services at St. Peter’s and it was also the site of a scene in the movie “That Old Feeling,” starring Bette Midler and Dennis Farina.  It is one of the oldest churches in Southwestern Ontario, with a blue and white oak frame, limestone plaster, Gothic sashes and window frames, and glass from Buffalo.  A carpenter’s workbench was originally used as the pulpit, but it has come a long way since then.  Take care and have a great week! 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Seedy Saturday- Apples

Happy Saturday everyone!  This week I am going to share some information on a delicious fruit that is a favourite of many.
Apples have been present in societies as far back as the Romans, who developed a large number of apple varieties and then brought them to Europe, including Britain.  During Medieval times in Europe, apples were used for cider and cooking, but by the 14th century, Italians enjoyed apples at fancy banquets, along with other fruits, on display in tall-stemmed, glass containers. 
Apples were brought to North America by European settlers in the 1600s and the first apple orchard on the North American continent was planted in Boston.  There was one species of apple native to North America and that is the crab apple, which was once called the "common apple".  At first, apples were grown here mostly for cider, but soon were used for baking with some favourites including: pies, dumplings, fritters and pancakes.  There were 17 000 kinds of apples grown in North America in the 1800s and there were different kinds for each season, such as in summer for baking and fresh-eating, in the fall for making cider and to store in root cellars for the winter.  There are some really neat stories involving apples within a number of mythologies as well.
In Norse (Viking) mythology, providing apples to the gods would give that person eternal youthfulness.  In Greek mythology, the apple was considered to be sacred to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, thus throwing an apple at someone was a symbol of a declaration of love for them.  If someone caught the apple, it was to symbolically show one's acceptance of that love.  Lastly, many of us are aware of apples appearing in many religious traditions, often as a mystical or forbidden fruit.  
Enjoy your week to come!
Catie Welch

Friday, September 4, 2015

Family History Fridays - The Last 5 Photographs

A photo album was donated to the museum collection and none of them are labelled.  The only writing we can find refers to Johnny Sloan, 1887 and a Mc. McPherson of Wallacetown.  If you have any idea who these people are or what family they may belong to (most likely Sloan, McArthur, McPherson, Allen and others), please contact us.  The photo album is full so we have been posting photographs every Friday all summer long.  These are the last photographs.    
Angela Bobier 519-762-3072 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

World War Wednesdays: The Invasion of Poland, 1 September, 1939

     Yesterday marked 76 years since the German invasion of Poland in 1939. As we know now in hindsight, that day was the spark that set in motion the events of the Second World War. Millions of people watched helplessly as the world seemed to spiral out of control in the chaos of a single day. For me, this anniversary now holds a more personal connection, though I can still never come close to imagining what was happening in Poland 76 years ago.

     According to Adolf Hitler, the conquest of Poland would mean an increase in Lebensraum (living space) to the "racially superior" German people, who would colonize the territory and enslave the inferior Slavic people. This policy had already been carried out against Austria with its annexation in 1938 and the occupation of the Sudetenland and Czechoslovakia in 1939, and Hitler hoped that the Polish conquest would be met with similar tolerance from the world powers.

     In order to limit the possibility that the USSR would provide aid to Poland, Germany signed a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union on 23 August, 1939 with a secret clause that would have Poland divided between them. The invasion was postponed when Britain signed a new treaty promising protection for Poland in the event of attack, so to forestall British intervention Hitler used propaganda to allege persecution of German-speakers in eastern Poland. Polish troops began to be called up in fear of imminent attack, but they were persuaded by France and Britain to postpone mobilization in a final attempt to stop the war.

German troops parade through Warsaw after the invasion of Poland 
     On 1 September, some 1.5 million German troops invaded Poland along its border with German-controlled territory. The Polish army, which had hastily mobilized one million men, staged a valiant offensive campaign, but was no match for the sophisticated German "Blitzkrieg" strategy. On 3 September, war was declared on Germany by Britain, Australia, India, New Zealand, and France, and by 17 September all hope was lost for Poland. Its government and military leaders fled the occupied country the next day.

     I consider myself extremely lucky to have a dear friend who can tell me exactly what 1 September, 1939 was like as a young Polish citizen (from Silesia in the west, bordering Germany). The day was sunny and hot, with not a cloud in the sky. When they saw the first planes, everyone thought that the Polish air force must be doing a training exercise. It wasn't until they got closer that they realized the planes were from the German Luftwaffe, and then people began running from their houses shouting that they were being attacked and war had begun.

     It is amazing to me to hear these stories in the context of what had been a perfectly normal and happy life up until that moment. I recently came across this picture, which really solidifies how sudden the events were on that day. These chairs were laid out on 1 September, 1939 for a wedding. When the Germans invaded, the wedding was abandoned, with the chairs still set up. Eventually, trees grew up through them, adding to the eeriness of the scene. They are repainted every year as a monument to the lives forever changed that day.

     As with all aspects of the Second World War, the significant events can be broken down and analyzed from the perspective and experiences of individuals whose lives were changed because of them. This is what allows people to better connect with what really happened, and to understand it on a human level. This is my focus for my historical studies, my writing for these posts, and my everyday life!
     Thanks for reading,

  Delany Leitch