In one month, it will be time to commemorate the centenary of Armistice of World War I. One century ago thousands of damaged soldiers were returning home, marking the resolution of the war to end all wars.
Worldwide there were soldiers embarking on the journey home. Some hadn’t met their children or hadn’t laid eyes on any family members for years. Others had seen and done unspeakable things, many returned broken on the outside, while for others the scars were less visible.
What was life like for them when they returned?
Let’s Remember Them
What records have you found about your soldier when they arrived home? Did they come home with all their body parts? Did they resume the same life that they had before they left or did they make different choices in their career, did they return to their home and family or live alone?
There were longterm consequences resulting from the soldiers’ experiences. Some returned but died within a few years from injuries. Most bore some scars, visible or invisible for the remainder of their lives.
What was your soldiers’ experience?
If your soldier fought for Canada the records at Library and Archives Canada that are online are the best places to learn about your Soldiers experience. Many include discharge certificates, like this one:
In the bottom corner, you can see that he was discharged on May 31, 1919, six months after Armistice.
When John began his service in 1916 he was an office clerk, to find out what his occupation was a couple years after his return I checked the 1921 Canadian census (or the first census of the country your soldier returned to). The 1921 census shows my grandfather, John Dever settled back in his parent’s home and went to work in the family grocery store.
Over the next few years, he took courses and became a grain broker, apparently transitioning back quite successfully, and somehow putting his war experiences behind him.
Not one story of his war experience was passed onto me.
I challenge you to write about the soldier in your family who returned. Consider commemorating their memory by sharing about their experience and transition to coming home.