Youth Remember the 100th Anniversary of Canada’s Hundred Days
Hometown Braves

Aim

To help youth learn about 30 Canadians or Newfoundlanders who were awarded the Victoria Cross while serving with the Commonwealth forces during the last 3 months of the First World War, a period known as Canada’s Hundred Days.

Objectives

Through this activity, youth should:

  • learn about 30 individuals from Canada or Newfoundland who served with the Commonwealth forces during the First World War, and who were awarded the Victoria Cross between August 8 and November 1, 1918; and
  • learn more about the military exploit that made the individual earn the Victoria Cross.

Target audience

This activity is suitable for ages 12 to 18.

Sequence of Activities and Anticipated Time Frame [approximately 90 minutes]

(The activity can be modified to fit available class time.)

  • Introductory discussion [15 minutes]
  • Research and preparation [30 minutes]
  • Presentations [30 minutes]
  • Wrap-up discussion [15 minutes]

Materials

Introductory discussion [15 minutes]

Ask the students what they know about the First World War. Then, shift the focus to the final three months of the war. Do they know the soldiers from the Canadian Expeditionary Force played a key role in the battles leading up to the end of the conflict?

To help youth better understand Canada’s role in the final months of the war, ask them to read The Last Hundred Days historical sheet. They can also browse The Last Hundred Days web feature as an introduction to this activity.

From August 8 to November 11, 1918, the Canadian Corps gained 130 kilometres and captured thousands of German prisoners. More than 100,000 Canadians saw action during this period and, sadly, almost 46,000 were killed or wounded.

This learning activity will touch on bravery on the battlefield. Although there are a variety of decorations for courage in action, the purpose of this activity is to help youth learn about 30 individuals from Canada (either by birth, residence or enlistment) and Newfoundlanders who were awarded the Victoria Cross between August 8 and November 1, 1918.

Ask youth if they know what the Victoria Cross is. Key points they might bring up are that the Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest decoration for bravery a British Empire service member could receive during the First World War. The VC was created in 1856, and only approximately 100 Canadians have been awarded the honour over the years. You will find various sources of information online.

Research and preparation [30 minutes]

Distribute the Hometown Braves – 30 recipients of the Victoria Cross document and review the tasks with your students. If they have access to the document electronically, youth can use hyperlinks to speed up the research. If they are using a printed copy of the document, they will have to type in the web addresses (URLs) to access the research pages.

Have youth find relevant information about the individual to write a biography. You can divide the class and attribute a VC recipient per team. The type of information youth should include in their presentations:

  • Name and photo of the VC recipient
  • Place and date of birth
  • Age, place and date of enlistment (explain ties with Canada, if born outside of the country)
  • Occupation before the war
  • Few physical characteristics
  • Military unit(s) the individual served with
  • Places of military training and overseas service
  • Date and description of the action that earned them the Victoria Cross
  • Fate (died in service or survived the war)
  • Etc.

The research project can be presented in various ways. It could take the form of a large ID card, with information presented in point form and fitted on one page, or could be a more formal written essay. It can also simply be cue cards to be used for an oral presentation. If you have students with a knack for multimedia tools, they can use technology for their presentations too!

Presentations [30 minutes]

Ask each student or team to present his VC recipient.

Wrap-up discussion [15 minutes]

Lead a discussion by asking which VC recipient impressed them the most and why. Is there a Canada’s Hundred Days VC recipient with ties to your province or region?

Then, ask youth if they think it is important for the military to use decorations for bravery. In their opinion, were soldiers motivated by these decorations for bravery? Do they think only the individuals who received the Victoria Cross demonstrated courage during the First World War? Ask them to explain. What does bravery means in today’s world?

Possible extension activity [variable]

You may want to consult Veterans Affairs Canada’s The Last Hundred Days web feature for more information.

You can also visit Parks Canada web section on “Hometown Heroes” for more information on Canadians who made important contributions to the military during the First World War and the Second World War.

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