One of the many veteran’s associations that emerged after the Great War was The Ypres League, dedicated to preserving the memory of those who fell in the salient and to “keep an ever-living memory of their fellowship….with the survivors” (The Ypres Times, Vol.1. No.1, Oct., 1921).
The League was founded by Colonel Beckles Willson, a Canadian popular historian and briefly the right-hand-man of Max Aitken at the War Records Office in London (his rank was purely honorary). Willson wrote two contemporary accounts of Ypres (In The Ypres Salient: The Story of a Fortnight’s Canadian Fighting June 2-16, 1916 ; and Ypres: The Holy Ground of British Arms ), forged a 1916 anthology of verse supposedly written by men in the trenches (which I’ll write more on later) and after the Armistice, spent months acquiring documents & material on behalf of what would become Canada’s War Museum. But I digress….
The official quarterly publication of The Ypres League was The Ypres Times (not to be confused with the satirical trench newspaper, The Wipers Times). In the April, 1931 issue it was announced that Will R. Bird had become “the corresponding member for Amherst, Nova Scotia” (p.182) and over the next several years, Bird would contribute a handful of articles and at least one poem to the magazine.
Today is the anniversary of the final action at Passchendaele, when the Canadians took the last of the high-ground north of the town, on November 10th, 1917.
Below is Will R. Bird’s Impressions of Passchendaele from the October 1st, 1934 issue of The Ypres Times. Enjoy.