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Military Lecture: “It was hell, that’s all”: Artillery and the Senses in the Canadian Corps, 1914-1918

March 21 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

The First World War on the Western Front was overwhelmingly a war of artillery. Both sides’ firepower dictated what form the war would take, driving men to dig trenches to conceal and protect themselves, but even then, artillery was responsible for over half of Canadian casualties. Given the significance of its role, it is no surprise that the letters, diaries and memoirs of soldiers make frequent reference to the unending roar of the guns and the damage wrought by shellfire.

But what was it like to fight with the artillery? Though stationed further from the front lines than the infantry, gunners underwent many of the same experiences and faced many of the same risks. They, too, struggled to fight a war against enemies they couldn’t see, learned how to use sound as a tool for self-preservation and were frequent targets of enemy guns. Despite these commonalities, however, the ways in which gunners understood the war and their role within it could vary drastically from their infantry counterparts. Using the senses — namely vision, hearing and touch — this presentation explores the lives of Canadian gunners and demonstrates the ongoing need to look beyond the trenches in order to better understand the diverse experiences of Canadians fighting the First World War

“It was hell, that’s all”: Artillery and Senses in the Canadian Corps, 1914-1918 is presented by Hazel Scott Pankratz. The lecture will premiere in-person at the Civic Museum, and online via our Facebook livestream. Preregistration is not required. The recorded conversation will be available on FacebookYouTube, and our Museum Everywhere Portal.  Guelph Museums’ Military Lecture series is presented in partnership with the Laurier Centre for the Study of Canada.

Watch The Recording

About Hazel Scott Pankratz

Hazel Scott Pankratz is a PhD candidate in history at Western University, where her research focuses on the intersection of technology, the body and lived experience in the Canadian artillery during the First World War. She holds degrees from Trent University and Wilfrid Laurier University.


March 21
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
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Guelph Museums


Guelph Civic Museum
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Guelph, Ontario N1H 4H8 Canada
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