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The First World War was a cataclysmic event, destroying body and mind in the millions, ruining Europe's cultural outlook, engendering deep hatreds and leading directly to the Second World War a generation later. Canada suffered too - thousands of deaths, maimings, mental breakdowns, suicides, war widows and spinsters waiting for loved ones who never came home. Yet we were not the Europe of a devastated landscape but a small and growing country soon to welcome many of those wishing to escape a war torn continent. Canada emerged from the First World War a more confident, independent entity, the result of a significant commitment of human and material resources, shared identity, victory on the battlefield and the inevitable sacrifice those victories entailed. Canada lost over 65,000 men and women in the conflict, mostly in the Army, but also the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Canadian Navy. New Brunswick was a strong pillar of this national stretch to maturity and in the process became a microcosm of social change affecting the young Dominion. The war began in a familiar way, another call to arms from Britain in August of 1914 and a predictably enthusiastic response. Yet as this response deepened in the opening years of the war there grew new plants from deep seeds - an infantry battalion of Acadian volunteers, the 165th ; black New Brunswickers from Saint John and Fredericton joining the No. 2 Construction Battalion being raised in Halifax, and women shipping overseas as nursing sisters in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps. The Army, as senior service, received the most recruits and its major provincial element, the 26th Battalion, was formed with contributions from around New Brunswick. As part of the 2ndCanadian Division, the 'Fighting 26TH" earned its battle honours and scars in all the major conflicts involving the Canadian Corps from the Somme to Vimy to Canal du Nord. Some New Brunswick soldiers transferred to the young Royal Flying Corps of the British Army, a few civilians enlisted in the small Royal Canadian Navy and others, including many women, worked to suppport them in factories at home. The war ended in November of 1918 and the victory parades that followed brought together spectators and returning veterans in celebrations that masked the many socio-economic transformations yet to come.

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