A Walk in their Shoes

“Infantry near Nijmegen, Holland” painting by Alex Colville.
(Photo: Beaverbrook Collection of War Art CWM 19710261-2079)

Arf! I’m doing my research on human foot travel during wars. I’m going to take my paws and pretend to step into the boots of an infantry soldier!

Infantry is the branch of an army that fights on foot, in areas where vehicles often can’t go. My great grandfather Gander served with The Royal Rifles of Canada from Quebec and the Winnipeg Grenadiers in Hong Kong in 1941. They were the first Canadian infantry units to see combat in the Second World War. Gander bravely fought at their side but sadly he died nobly in battle while saving the lives of several wounded Canadian soldiers.

For soldiers in the infantry, life is hard. They endure an almost endless routine of drills and marching. Soldiers on guard duty in the summer sweat in their uniforms and in winter, a thick coat protects their bodies but the faces, hands and feet are often at risk of being frostbitten. Many soldiers in the First World War suffered from trench foot. This happened because men had to stand in cold waterlogged trenches wearing wet socks and boots for days. It really was a tough life — lack of sleep, food and living in constant danger. It’s amazing what these young men endured. I’m proud my relative Gander walked alongside them.

Gandy the dog
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