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Canadian History for Kids: Facts about World War 1 for kids

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One and Canadian History for Kids have assembled 31 remarkable stories about incredible people, places and events which helped shape our amazing nation.

A grateful nation never forgets a hero.

Facts about World War 1 for kids

  1. The First World War began on August 4, 1914, with the Triple Entente (United Kingdom, France and Russia) and other nations (Canada and Australia) against the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy). However, Italy refused to join in the war effort and instead, in May 1915, it aligned with Britain and France and declared war against Germany and Austria-Hungary.
  2. Canadians saw their first major action at Ypres on April 22, 1915. Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae was inspired to write In Flanders Fields to honour a friend who died during this battle.
  3. The Battle of the Somme began early on the morning of July 1, 1916. The 1st Newfoundland Regiment suffered especially heavy losses on that day. Of the approximately 800 Newfoundlanders who went into battle, only 68 were at roll call the following morning.
  4. The Battle of Vimy Ridge began on the morning of April 9, 1917, and ended four days later. It was the first time all four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought together as one formation. The Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge is considered to be a key point in shaping Canada as a nation.
  5. Canadians took part in the Battle of Passchendaele from October to November 1917. In a muddy corner of Belgium, Canadians overcame almost unimaginable hardships to capture this strategic village.
  6. More than 2,800 Canadian Nursing Sisters served with the Canadian Army Medical Corps.
  7. Approximately 4,000 Aboriginal Canadians enlisted during the war. This represented nearly one-third of all Aboriginal-Canadian men eligible to serve.
  8. Approximately 70 Canadians were awarded the Victoria Cross for “most conspicuous bravery in the presence of the enemy” during the First World War.
  9. More than 650,000 men and women from Canada and Newfoundland served during the First World War. More than 66,000 gave their lives and over 172,000 were wounded.
  10. The fighting ended on November 11, 1918, with the signing of the Armistice. The war officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.
  11. The Battle of the Somme had the highest Canadian casualty rate at 24,029. Next was Passchendaele at 15,654, then Vimy Ridge with 10,600, and finally the second battle of Ypres with 6,035. These are Canadian casualties. The British casualties at these battles, except for Vimy Ridge, were much higher. Together with Verdun, these were among the bloodiest battles in WWI.
  12. Sir Sam Hughes, the Minister of Militia and Defence, insisted that Canadians used the Ross Rifle. He was also nicknamed “Sir Sham Shoes” because he was known to be cheap, and he made the troops wear boots with soles made of cardboard. He also instructed men to paint horses black, because they were harder to see at night and they did not want to pay for actual black horses. He was dismissed from the war.
  13. Berlin, Ontario was pressured into changing its’ name to Kitchener, Ontario because of the name Berlin was a city in enemy Germany.
  14. On December 6, 1917, two ships, the Mont Blanc and the IMO collided in the Halifax Harbour. The Mont Blanc had more than 2500 tonnes of dynamite and explosives and exploded with massive force when it was struck. In all, between 2,000 and 3,000 people perished in the explosion. More than 10000 were injured. The horrors of war had come right to Canada.
  15. Private George Lawrence Price was a Canadian soldier and is traditionally recognized as the last soldier to be killed during the First World War. He died just 2 minutes before the armistice ceasefire that ended the war.

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