How clearly I remember August 4, 1914, at Grand Bend, the day war was declared. We were, of course, entirely dependent upon newspapers for news outside our own small community in those days before radio and TV. It was not until the afternoon mail came in that newspaper headlines flashed the word Great Britain had declared war on Germany. I rushed home from the Post Office to find father already had the news. He was looking very grave discussing the declaration with Captain Harding, a retired English officer who had got his newspaper first. Of course, they argued, it couldn't last long. Britain and France together would soon have the Hun on the run. But Captain Harding had a wistful look. He had served in the Boer War and but for his age he would willingly have taken up arms again. I believe he did get back into uniform as a recruiting officer.
War maps of Europe first introduced me to geography - or perhaps I should say to the implications of geography. (I was nine at the time.) What surprised me, I now remember, was how small England was, and how near to France: Father had gone to London in 1912, and I somehow had got the impression that since London was one of the biggest cities in the world, England must be one of the largest countries. But here it was a tiny country off the coast of France.