On the 100th anniversary of the end of hostilities in Europe, Goose Lane Editions has published a comprehensive volume of the history of the 26th New Brunswick Battalion. Over 250 pages of the battalion’s history, from its formation in 1914 to returning home in 1918.
They fought at Ypres in the fall of 1915, on the Somme at Courcelette and Regina Trench in 1916. They carried on to Vimy Ridge, Hill 70, and Passchendaele in 1917. They were part of the battles at Amiens and the Hundred Days campaign of 1918. The 26th Battalion was the only infantry unit from New Brunswick (and one of only 24 from the rest of Canada) to serve continuously on the Western Front from 1915 until the Armistice in 1918. More than 5,700 soldiers passed through its ranks during the First World War: 900 were killed and nearly 3,000 were wounded.
Several years in the writing, A Family of Brothers tells the compelling story of the “Fighting 26th,” from their mobilization to the aftermath of the war. Using letters, newspaper accounts, war diaries, and other official documents, Brent Wilson offers a compelling account of the soldiers at the front and those behind the lines, their experiences of the war and how their lives would be transformed upon their return to Canada.
One insightful quote comes from Lieutenant Charles Lawson who wrote from the front in 1915:
“The only thing that strikes one is the uselessness and childishness of the whole business. It does not seem worthwhile. It is almost wholly a game of machinery, it seems so silly to be down behind a bank with someone waiting for a chance to pot you if you give them a chance. And probably in the end both sides will get tired and give it up.”
With many historic black & white photographs, an Appendix and a Bibliography, A Family of Brothers will serve the purpose of informing future generations of the futility of war and at the same time, memorializing those that have made the greatest sacrifice. A book worthy of being on the 2019 longlist for a “The Very Best!” Book Award for Non-Fiction.
A Family of Brothers is volume 25 of the New Brunswick Military Heritage Series.
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