One hundred years ago – The Great War and a sister’s love

Canadiana:

Vimy Ridge – April 9-April 12, 1917

The new Dominion of Canada showed their courage and strength during this defining battle of “The Great War.” There were over 10,000 casualties.

Lucia Teti’s  family had arrived from Italy in the early years of the 20th Century and in short time established themselves as well- to- do  real estate owners in Vancouver, BC. Her father had at one time been part owner  of the landmark Sylvia Hotel, in the west end. His oldest child was a son named Fio. He had been born in Naples, Italy but adapted easily to his new country. There is a record of him in his teenage years working at the Pacific Bottling Company of Vancouver.  Fio was 21 when he joined the Irish Fusiliers in 1915. He then transferred to  the 7th Battalion,  Canadian Infantry, British Columbia Regiment before embarking on the great adventure.  He is now a name among  countless others, inscribed  in the Book of Remembrance. He fell in the first great push toward Vimy Ridge, near Arras, on April 9,  1917. He was one of countless young men so far from home, struck down in the hail of machine gun fire from the German held positions. He was carried dying, to a nearby field hospital where he succumbed to his wounds.

the Canadian Book of Remembrance

Lucia’s son, Silvio had yet to be born and of course never met his uncle, but Lucia or Lolly as she was affectionately known,  kept the fragile letters Fio had sent from the front. She would lovingly take them out from time to time to remind her family and friends of his sacrifice.  I now have the honour to share her story of a life cut short, in one more tragic chapter of human history. Fio never had a chance to fall in love and marry, to have children of his own, to experience all the potential that life has to offer in fullness. All that is left of him, is slowly fading on fragile onion paper where he writes of his enthusiasm for  the “picture shows”  and  asks his mother to please send a new safety razor. He describes the  aerial combat with Fritz  as “angry  buzzing bees overhead.”  He tells her that when they march they are all decked out like Christmas trees, clanking with their gear. The letters are light, humourous  and high spirited. To his little sister , Lucia, he says, “please don’t worry, I think I am one of the lucky ones and most of the boys think we will be home before the end of the year.” That letter was dated April 4, 1917. Five days later he was dead. He was 23 years old.

Many years later when Fio’s now middle aged nephew and amateur historian, Silvio, decided to find his grave there was no internet to assist him. He wrote many letters and waited weeks for replies. He studied old maps and war records. He finally set out like a pilgrim to reach a hallowed piece of Canadian soil at Aubigny-en- Artois near Arras in France.   Within a few weeks he at last stood at the resting place of one of the Canadian heroes of the “war to end all war,” and paid homage to his mother’s beloved brother. He has been the only family member to visit that faraway monument so well cared for by the grateful French people. The hundreds of rows of shining white stones commemorating  those long forgotten names stand as a tribute to sacrifice, honour and courage but also to the tragic loss, finality,  and sorrow of war. Long ago a young man set out on a great patriotic adventure and had died in it. He is not alone. War claimed many young men from both sides, mother’s sons, brothers, husbands,uncles and fathers were mourned and missed by their bereft families and what have we learned?

The Green Fields of France- Davey and the Fureys- an old song asking why

“Many historians and writers consider the Canadian victory at Vimy a defining moment for Canada, when the country emerged from under the shadow of Britain and felt capable of greatness. Canadian troops also earned a reputation as formidable, effective troops because of the stunning success. But it was a victory at a terrible cost, with more than 10,000 killed or wounded.   The Canadians had demonstrated they were one of the outstanding formations on the Western Front and masters of offensive warfare.”

 

Fare thee well, love

70 Comments Add yours

  1. Inspiredme says:

    Glad to follow your blog. Awsm post

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you so much for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This was a wonderful tribute Cybele, you’re a perfect custodian for his story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks so much Andrea and sorry to be late in replying. I’m still struggling!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Peter Nena says:

    Cybele, I think you missed my last story. It’s called Glitches. Published before the Blogfest. You never miss them and I have wanted you to read it. Writing with a specific reader in mind helps to keep the thoughts in check.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oh Peter, forgive me! Life has been so hectic! I’ll be over there to read it later today!! I don’t want to miss a story by you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Peter Nena says:

    Stories of war usually fill my heart with a great weight. For war never really ends. Every generation experiences war. With its wanton violence and destruction. I’ve been reading about North Korea and the US and Syria and Russia. That the leaders of those countries are too proud to reach peaceful resolutions! It is strange, indeed. That we even call them leaders, who wish to destroy us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I thank you Peter for such a thoughtful and meaningful comment as always showing much insight. Sorry to be late in replying.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Amy says:

    Thank you so much, Cybele for sharing you fascinating family history with us. Well written tribute.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. you are most welcome Amy and sorry to be late!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh Cybele what a lovely tribute .. how special that you now own these pieces of family history. Too young to leave .. how very sad. But special that your Dad made the journey and found his grave ..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you so much Julie! and sorry for the late response.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Cecilia says:

    Very touching post! Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  8. aidymcglynn says:

    Tragic Cybele, especially that particular war.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. so true Aidy! thanks for reading!

      Like

  9. Adrian Lewis says:

    This is a wonderful post, Cybele. It is both enthralling and very moving to read – you say that you have a duty to relate these things, and I can very much relate to that feeling. A wonderful post, from the heart. Adrian

    Liked by 1 person

  10. debiriley says:

    …. lest we forget, as the Australians say. This is a beautiful memorial.
    Those who served and made the sacrifice, deserve to be remembered. And war, ought not to be fought for the greed of the few. But as the final resort, for life and liberty. Your post made me so sad – for those young boys and the families who lost them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I so agree Deb! thanks so much for reading and understanding. Sorry for the late response.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. debiriley says:

        my pleasure! and, I understand…. no worries 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Enjoyed your tribute and the images that accompany it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you Sally!! I’m very behind these days!

      Like

  12. Pieter says:

    Very good post written with respect and dignity. It shows that behind every number from every countless casualty from war there is a personal story and a family left behind. Love the way you commemorate your late uncle!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. a lovely thoughtful response Pieter! thank you so much and sorry to be so late in reply!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Pieter says:

        That’s ok 🙂 it’s timely to me 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Lucia was certainly beautiful! It’s always so difficult to read about war and so much life taken before it really had a chance to live. Tragic and people just don’t learn. I’m sure your father’s trip to his ucle’s final resting place was emotional. That song just brought tears to my eyes. Watching that video from 100 years ago was sad and moving. Here’s to the day when war is no more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your response is moving too Linda!! thank you. I’m with you but sadly, mankind seems not to learn from past mistakes! WWI was called The war to end all war!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Little did your great uncle know, Cybele, that one day you’d be writing this amazing tribute to him on your blog that people from all around the world could read. He would have thought it magic. My great uncle was also killed in the Great War. He was 18 and straight out of school, having been awarded the highest mark in the country for his leaver’s certificate. They sent him to the front, as an officer, and he was killed by a sniper. Such tragic loss. Our grand uncles and all those who fought alongside them, should never be forgotten. We have them to thank for our freedom and democracy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I so love history and when we know of some of our ancestor’s part in it, it becomes all too real. So sad to think of the sacrifice and the price our great uncles paid. “At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember them.” Thank you for reading Sarah!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Fascinating, Cybele. I so enjoy family histories. Thank you for sharing yours!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. you are most welcome!! and thank you for reading Debbie!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Sherry Felix says:

    Fascinating family history. I just watched a 3 part series on WWI. I wish there where no more wars.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oh me too! A sad legacy of humankind!! Thanks Sherry!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. A very touching post.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I get really upset about this particular war and the carnage and waste of young men who laid their lives aside for what amounted to the usual sabre rattling empire building. I come from a city that suffered quite horrendous losses, where the headlines screamed, not a family untouched. And men who did come home, gassed to rags, with the most horrendous problems that most definitely affected their families. You captured this young man’s life so well xxxx

        Liked by 1 person

  18. paula graham says:

    What a moving and poignant tale of Canadian bravely. The sad thing about war is that we are doing it all over again, again and again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. we have never learned!! and such a cost! Thank you Paula!

      Like

  19. Mél@nie says:

    impressive and emotional post, Ma’am… ❤ I did watch your PM in France a few days ago, he was moved to tears just like all the Canadians there… Vive le Canada et vive l'amitié entre nos 2 pays!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Merci Mel!! and yes a wonderful friendship between our two beautiful countries. ( and also with Scotland in those old days with Bonnie Prince Charlie fleeing to France!) 🙂

      Like

  20. It is lovely to read some of your family history, Hanna. Lucia was very beautiful, wasn’t she? I like the way you have used subtle colour and texture to enhance some of the old photos without obscuring their age.

    The war is best recalled through personal artefacts. It is too easy to forget what it really meant to the world when recounted in dry historical language. The family loss must have been hugely important to your father for him to make the pilgrimage to France. It must’ve been deeply emotional for him to find his uncle’s grave.

    Can I point out a small typo, you will not want remaining here? You have 2015 instead of 1915 when talking about your great uncle’s deployment.

    Happy Easter!🐰🐣🐰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you so much for you sensitive thoughts on this post Kate and oops fixed that typo.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He he. Your are very welcome and glad the typo was a goner!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. PS I need a proof reader sometimes!! and yes she was a lovely woman!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Glad you knew her, Hanna, despite the reputation of great aunts as promulgated by P.G. Wodehouse! 😆

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Anita says:

    Tragic. That’s all I can say.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It certainly was Anita! Thanks for reading.

      Like

  22. Maverick ~ says:

    Beautiful tribute. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you so much Maverick!

      Like

  23. I have never heard of this battle, and I guess never really heard about the Canadians part in the great war. Australia had it’s own battles and terrible losses and we seem to only see that, we never get told about the losses or battles of other countries. We have ANZAC Day coming up soon, which I think is kind of silly in a way, why we put so much emphasis on just one battle, when we should have more emphasis on Memorial Day (November 11). ANZAC Day does not remember other soldiers in other battles or other wars, none of them are alive from that one battle……..but there are battles raging even now and soldiers still loosing their lives. Why so much emphasis on one horrific battle. Sorry this turned into a rant……….:-) great read, fabulous history and wonderful photos

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know it’s funny how little we do know in that respect- although thanks to Peter Weir who made a movie called Gallipoli which I did see years ago- I knew about Anzac. And we really haven’t learned much from these horrific times, have we!

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Kerena says:

    I have no words.

    What an incredibly touching tribute.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Darlene says:

    A touching story. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks for reading Darlene!

      Liked by 1 person

  26. The war to end all war’s. I have often wondered if all the people that died in the great war, could see our world today. Would they have gave there lives so freely.
    RIP Fio

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know!! We never learn! Thank you George!

      Like

  27. sheldonk2014 says:

    Simply beautiful
    Great post cycbele
    As always sheldon

    Liked by 1 person

  28. disperser says:

    Very interesting. I read the Wikipedia entry which covers the strategy and action quite well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks Disperser!! There are a number of videos on youtube as well. Canada paid a big price at this battle!

      Like

  29. Beautiful stories, Cybele. I’m glad knowing that your father finally found the grave of your great Uncle. That must be an emotional moment for him…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you Nurul!! I think it was for him!! It’s important to keep family stories alive!!

      Liked by 1 person

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