Contact Us
Welcome to the Western Development Museum
Facebook Instragram Twitter YouTube Donate Now through Canada

Remembering WWI

Saskatchewan Wartime Contributions
School Program

George Shepherd Library

Training Courses

Saskatchewan Soldier

When war broke out in August 1914, few thought it would last four long and bloody years. Some believed it would all be over by Christmas. How wrong they were.

Hundreds of Saskatchewan men, many with British roots, eagerly joined up. One such soldier was William Hurst Bothwell who had trained with the local militia in Moose Jaw. Bothwell signed on with the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force in September 1914. Two weeks later he was on his way to England with Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, the first Canadian contingent to arrive. Bothwell's battalion landed in France in March 1915.

Right: William Hurst Bothwell
WDM Collection, WDM-1985-S-79

Wounded but not Defeated

Trench warfare was a nasty affair as troops dug in for the long haul. Rats, mud and disease were rampant. The smell of rotting flesh, both human and animal, was indescribable.

Scarcely a month after arriving in France, Bothwell was wounded. After his recovery he re-enlisted, this time with the Canadian Machine Gun Corps.

New Weapon of War - Gas Attack

British Imperial War Museum Photo

Imagine crouching in a mud-filled trench wearing this awkward and uncomfortable hood. Captain William Hurst Bothwell, a Saskatchewan soldier, knew what it was like.

New tactics and new weapons made the First World War different from previous wars. The first ever large-scale gas attack was unleashed against troops on the Western Front by the German offensive near Ypres, Belgium in April 1915. Equipment was urgently needed to protect against this new weapon.

Protection from Poison Gas

Above Left: PH Helmet
WDM Collection, WDM-1985-S-97

Above Right: Reginald Booth, Canadian Soldier, c. 1916
WDM Collection, WDM-1973-NB-2735

This helmet was part of Bothwell's Canadian Machine Gun Corps kit.

The PH helmet introduced in late 1915 was the fourth protective device issued to British Empire soldiers. Made of two layers of flannel, one impregnated with chemicals to help counteract the deadly phosgene gas, the helmet covered the soldier's head and neck.

Continuing Service

In 1917 Bothwell was promoted to Major. Bothwell saw action in Belgium and France including the decisive September 1918 battle of Bourlon Wood.

Back Home

Bothwell was discharged in April 1919 and returned to Saskatchewan where he found work with the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Bothwell's uniform and gas mask are part of an exhibit marking the outbreak of the First World War. Four showcase exhibits have been created – initially, one will be shown at each of our four Museums. We hope visitors will pause and read the interesting Saskatchewan-based stories they have to tell. Later in 2014, the four showcases will be combined into one exhibit that will travel throughout the WDM system over the next few years.

Find out more about the exhibits and see more WWI artifacts -->

You might also be interested in:

Long Years of War - Ernest Elmer Auckland’s First World War Uniform

History of the Poppy

Impact of the First World War on Saskatchewan - stories and artifacts

About the WDM Collection

How to donate an artifact