May 28 – Leaving the motor at the Cross Roads, beyond wh. it was forbidden to take it, we walked across Vimy Ridge. Even now it is covered with shell holes and craters so numerous as to make passage almost impossible. How the men advanced over it in the round of afire is beyond understanding. But they did so in the face of hostile fire and to their imperishable glory.
Starting in the fall of 1915, Bishop Michael Francis Fallon, fifth bishop of the diocese of London, represented the Catholic hierarchy to the Canadian government regarding the provision of chaplains during the First World War. In May 1918, the latter position lead him to England and France at the request of the Canadian government. During the four months abroad Bishop Fallon wrote, in great detail, what he witnessed, with whom he met, scenes and descriptions of the War, the status of Canadian soldiers, amongst many other fascinating accounts.
Digitizing Bishop Fallon’s “Diary of Visit to Canadian Army in England and France”, nearly 100 years after the last diary entry was written, could not be timelier as Canada and the international community commemorates the start of the First World War. Canada’s contribution to the war effort, abroad and at home, can be witnessed by this personal and detailed account written by the “prelate in khakis”, as he was referred to by a newspaper reporter.
The digitized diary includes a few additional elements that directly relate and enhance the diary pages. Accompanying the 228 page diary was a separate photo diary of images that correspond to exact entries from the war diary. These photos and postcards have been included into the main body of the digitized diary. Also inserted are newspaper clippings, relating to the bishop’s time in Europe, from Bishop Fallon’s own scrapbooks. And lastly, there are some correspondences which also relate to the affairs of the War and the bishop’s time away. To highlight where photos, newspaper clippings or correspondence relate to a diary entry a red border around key words or dates has been included.
The diary has been divided into user-friendly sections. Access the diary here:
This virtual exhibit was prepared by Deb Majer, Archivist, and Lizz Birchall, Archives Assistant.