Ok, when thinking about what I would do for my 100th post, and what book I would review to commemorate it, It came to only one book – Passchendaele, based on the movie and book by Paul Gross.
As of right now, 116 Brave men and women have sacrificed their lives to bring better lives to those living in Afghanistan and area. Most recently, in my area, 2 two brave men and 1 that I know of through friends, have given their lives and this is a tribute to them and their families.
Passchendaele, starts off with Sargent Michael Dunne of the 10th Battalion, in Belgium fighting in World War One, in the middle of a fight with German’s. With only 4 others that are with him in his group, they come across a deserted and destroyed town. All is quiet, and with the conditions, they are hungry, tired, and need a rest. However, that isn’t going to happen. As the Germans are held up behind an altar in a church well hidden, the men of the 10th are being fired upon.
Dunne orders a plan, and while carrying it out, three of his men are wounded and killed. In the midst of dust, smoke and other mortar fire die down, Michael walks up to the church thinking that there isn’t any one there. As he is walking, he is shot in the leg by a young (probably about 15) German soldier after they give up surrender. As he walks up to the altar to see this soldier, the soldier says “Comrade”. But then Michael does the unthinkable.. He kills the young man with his bayonet at the end of his rifle.
As we see Michael continue in this story, he is sent back to Canada with what they called as “Shell Shock”, and possibly facing charges of deserting his unit. Although, he didn’t as he was in shock, and wounded. He cannot sleep, he has vivid nightmares as if they are happening in real time and place, and is ordered to work in the recruitment office until his “Shell Shock” is better and is able to return to war.
Michael isn’t happy about this situation, but back before he is in the Military, he was involved in a bank robbery hence the reason for him going to war in the first place, to avoid being found.
While he was in a Canadian hospital for the wounded military members, he comes along this young nurse Sarah Mann. What you don’t know about Sarah is that she is addicted to those little pale blue pills that are called Morphine. Since, they weren’t keeping count of them because they were giving them out so often it was easier then usual to take them without being detected.
Michael is enthralled with Sarah, and wants to know more about her, but she declines. Later on he does find out what her name is and visits her in the town but she doesn’t want anything to do with him because of her own fears about being thought of as an addict, and what her past involves.
Eventually, Sarah agrees to go out with Michael and he takes her to his parents old homeland outside of town on horseback. Through the back country of the town, in Alberta. The scenic views melt her heart and she learns more about Michael and eventually she falls in love.
But they are both scared and afraid of what would happen next.
Sarah’s brother David wants to join the military. Trouble is that he is only 17 and you need to be 18 to be able to join the military. His girlfriend is the daughter of the town doctor, and he wants David to go and make himself a man before he allows his daughter to be more involved with his daughter. So, as Michael is working David tries to enlist in the war effort. Michael throws him out of the office on his ear. One day however, David goes in while Michael isn’t there and enlists and takes off to Europe to help in the fight.
Michael is so disgusted with where and who he works with and the attitudes of the town, Michael enlists using his mother’s Maiden name and goes off to fight yet again.
The rest of the story, I won’t give away if you haven’t already read the book or watched the movie by the same name. But I will say this. In World War One, they had the most diverse and most horrific situations that cold be thought of. The task at hand was insurmountable, but yet the Military took Passchendaele and helped fight the Germans, and win the war.
So, if you are interested about the history of the Canadian Military, I HIGHLY suggest this book AND the movie. They are both out – in Trade Paperback, and on DVD. It gives you only a taste of what they had to overcome in such dire circumstances then and now, but gives you the opportunity to see through their eyes, and appreciate what we have here in Canada or give thought of what we want to bring to countries that do not have what we have – a better life.
Paul Gross took 10 years to write the script and to make the movie based on his Grandfather’s story that he told Paul when he was a child. With the basis is the story he wrote, acted AND directed this tale of war, love and loss.
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