18 Mar 2015
Our March speaker was Dr Luke Flanagan, who spoke about the Canadians in Bexhill during the First World War. Luke was keen to explore the impact of the influx of Canadians to the town and equally the influence war had on the development of Canada as a young nation.
The Canadian Training School saw young officers based in the centre of Bexhill, for around 4 to 6 weeks, before being sent out to the Front as Platoon Commanders. The Trench Warfare School trained cadets in trench warfare, so many of the Canadians stayed in the town for little more than a few weeks. Despite this some formed relationships within the town, a few culminating in weddings. Locals enjoyed attending organised sporting events and local businesses began to tailor their sales to suit the demands of the Canadians. However, when the war ended the Canadians left promptly and little evidence of their time here remains; with no memorials, just a few road names to reflect their presence.
Luke explored how the English Canadians were keen enough to participate in the war, considering the colonies at war also Canada had yet to develop foreign policy. In conclusion Luke suggested that the empirical ties did not appear to have decreased as Canada forged an identity of its own.
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