What goes on at COWBFA meetings?

Short answer is LOTS! You should consider joining us to meet some very interesting people working on projects about WW1 which they remember 365 days of the year.

Here`s a look back to December 3, 2011

Saturday December 3rd, 2011 was our last meeting for 2011 when internationally published author Michel Gravel gave a spell binding account of how he decoded scenes of refugees east of Arras and how they made their way through Canadian lines in September 1918. Gord Mackinnon spoke briefly on the military service of PMs Lester Pearson and John Diefenbaker. Several members had eye popping memorabilia from the Western Front.

Our next meeting will probably be spring 2012, watch for something happening in Kingston.

IMG692 750x563Branch Founder, Honourary Chairman and Lifetime Member John Haslam congratulates Michel Gravel on a superlative effort.

Where we meet

Newcastle Village Community Hall (click for map) is at 20 King Avenue West in Newcastle, Ontario, Canada on the north-west corner of Mill and King Street (Hwy 2). From Toronto, take highway 401 East to Mill Street (exit 440) in Newcastle. The Mill Street exit is just two minutes east of Hwy 35. On Mill Street, drive north about 2 kilometres to King Street (Hwy 2). The meetings are in the Council Chambers, upstairs.

On December 3rd, we followed the fortunes of Canadian soldiers from Arras, through No Man’s Land and the Drocourt-Quéant switch to visit Écourt-Saint-Quentin. We then retraced the trek of the liberated civilians back to Arras,our point of departure. The presentation was based on Michel Gravel`s book ‘Nous sommes francais, les Canadiens et les delivers d’Écourt-Saint-Quentin, 3 septembre 1918’, published in France in 20

On September 2 1918, after a week-long battle, the Canadian Corps, in cooperation with the British XVII Corps, broke through the Drocourt-Quéant switch on a narrow front,at a point south-est of the city of Arras. For the first time in 1918, Allied troops could gaze upon the greenfields of occupied France, fields occupied by the enemy in October of 1914. The next morning, on the 3rd of September, the Canadians advanced a distance of five kilometers through these fields, before consolidating their position.  On their way, the Canadians passed through a cluster of deserted French villages,the population having been evacuated by the Germans the day before. These refugees left on an exodus that eventually led them into occupied Belgium.

However, not all heeded the German evacuation order. In one of the villages, Écourt-Saint-Quentin, forty-or-so civilians remained defiant and opted to stay behind, taking shelter in the cellar of a large farm in the center of the community. Here they braved the allied bombardment, and hoped for the best. (Two of this group even passed on the relative security of this shelter and opted to remain in their own home.) It was a dangerous gamble, but their pluckiness paid off. After a terrifying night in the shelter, the Canadians swept into town, in pursuit of the retreating Germans. The civilians they found were likely the first to be liberated during the victory campaign of 1918.

Some of our members below. We are recruiting to get darken up the grey hair! Only the web master had a nap – but he drove four and a half hours to get there for 0930. 😉

The hall facilities where we meet can be seen below.


Glenn Kerr, (in Blue) our Chairman, kept the unruly mob in order, ably assisted by Ian Sneid (in Red)who came up from Hamilton


Gord Mackinnon speaks on Lester Pearson


A sample of the WW1 Souvenirs that came back in 1919.


Canadian Trench Art made from a German Artillery Shell


Top of the forage cap


Battles of the Canadian Corps on the sides of the cap


For more info see the JOIN US section on the front page. We serve the best $6 sandwiches in any town we meet.