Writing dispatches under battlefield conditions.


With the coming of Remembrance Day we thought we would publish a short note on some preliminary work we undertook on some of the Great War diaries of the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry.

We looked at the messages being passed between the officers in charge of various companies as they battled at the front and the commanders some distance behind the lines. In total there are about 200 dispatches extracted from the war diary from about a dozen officers. We wanted to know: When crises intensify at the Front, do the officers in charge write less or not at all until the fighting slows? We speculated that this would be the case owing to the confusion and the increased need for hands-on leadership at such times.

We found that on the contrary, at the times of greatest activity, messages from the officers in charge at the front not only increased in number but in length at the times of greatest activity, when the troops and their officers were under fire or in other critical situations. These urgent messages tend to be an average of two sentences longer than other non-urgent messages.

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About the splash page


John McCraeThe splash page was created using pixelize written by Paul Wilkins using the images of documents from the Australian Red Cross, Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau as a pixel source. The represented portraits are from of the people of that era of which a good picture was available with the right contrast for pixelization. The first image is of Lt.-Col. John McCrae who wrote the poem "In Flanders Fields". The image was taken from the Library and Archives Canada photostream on flickr, and is cropped to remove his dog from the picture and scaled to enhance his facial features. This is followed by an image of General Currie, the commander of Canadian Troops in France, with a pixel size of 25. The image was sourced from the Library and Archives Canada photostream on flickr and did not need to be manipulated. Major Georges P. Vanier follows using an image from the Library and Archives Canada photostream on flickr, the image was cropped and resized to focus on the profile and enhaced the contrast. The image of General Sir Samuel Hughes was not changed. The image of Field Marshal Douglas Haig is curtosy of the Wikipedia Commons and was enlarged and re-centered. The landstrum infantryman with the spiked (the spike was meant to catch cavalry swords) helmet is cropped from a postcard scan on flickr from the Great War Flickr Pool, the württembergisch infantryman is also from another postcard scan in the same flickr pool.

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First data dump from Library and Archives Canada


The first data dump from Library and Archives Canada has been shipped to the Sharcnet data-center and loaded onto the cluster for processing. The data contains scanned images of the enlistment papers of Canadian Expeditionary Force soldiers (about a million images) and the full personnel file of about 200 soldiers (about twenty thousand images). The hard drive was first picked up in Ottawa and then traveled with a Muninn staffer to Waterloo, Ontario to one of the Sharcnet machine rooms.

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