ANC-C95744 | 150 horse-drivers wanted for the 57th Artillery Battery

150 horse-drivers wanted for the 57th Artillery Battery
1916, 20th century
This artefact belongs to : © National Archives of Canada
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Keys to History

Armies in 1914-1918 included more than infantry. Artillerymen dragged heavy guns into place and fired shrapnel and explosive shells at the enemy, causing more casualties than any other weapons, including machine guns. Engineers built roads, railways and fortifications. Miners were recruited to tunnel under the enemy trenches. Army Service Corps troops delivered food, ammunition and fuel, members of the Medical Corps evacuated and treated the sick and wounded. Cavalry tended their horses and waited to exploit the big breakthrough. When it did not come, they attacked anyway. Thousands of specialists had to be recruited and trained for Canada's overseas army.

Major Thomas Vien's horse-drawn battery needed drivers as well as gunners. Harnessing, driving and caring for the team of six horses needed to haul an 18-pounder field gun through deep mud was no job for amateurs nor for the faint of heart. Artillery served behind the trench lines, but they and their guns were prime targets for enemy artillery. On hot days, when gunners worked stripped to the waist, the gun lines were also a target for poison gas. Mustard gas burned a soldier's lungs and left agonizing blisters, especially where the skin was wet with sweat.

  • What

    This poster tells its Quebec City readers that this may be their only chance to serve with other French-Canadians in the artillery. The crossed British and French flags remind potential recruits that they will be fighting for both of Quebec City's imperial parents, though neither Britain nor France's Third Republic were very popular in Quebec before or during the war years.

  • Where

    In choosing Quebec City to recruit his battery, Major Vien was well aware that the "old capital" had a long military heritage as a French, British and Canadian garrison town. The first unit formed for the Canadian volunteer militia in 1855 was an artillery battery in Quebec City, and after 1871 most of the Canadian Militia's gunners learned their skills under professional instructors at the Citadel.

  • When

    The poster appeared in 1916. Major Vien did not find all of the wanted volunteers, and his 57th Battery was not completed.

  • Who

    Major Vien is looking for drivers for a French-speaking artillery battery. They must be able to handle one of the three pairs of horses that haul his guns or one of the two pairs normally needed to pull a two-wheeled limber loaded with artillery shells.