It is rare to find a long-lost, unpublished memoir from the Great War. Silhouettes of The Great War is that rare find. It is the memoir of Harold Becker, a 21 year-old from St. Thomas, Ontario, and he tells the story of the enthusiastic days after war was declared, finally being shipped to England and his long wait to get to the front. His memoir is filled with the detail of daily life for a soldier of The Great War, both in the firing line and in the “billets”, away from the trenches. Becker is a great one for detail and he uses his wartime letters and diaries to write with great passion and pride in his times and experiences. He takes you with him as he goes Over the Top for the first time and you can feel his shock and terror. You can imagine being with him and his cronies and as they walk along the tree-lined French roads, from small village to small village, on their way to take in the Charlie Chaplin picture show at the Y.M.C.A. hut. Although a memoir, Silhouettes of The Great War takes on the feel of a novel.
Harold Becker served in the First World War with the 75th Canadian Infantry Battalion. Known as the Mississauga Horse, Becker was one of many reinforcements that joined the unit after the capture of Vimy Ridge. He was later gassed at Passchendaele, returned to the Front and his war finally ended in the open fields near a small village called Le Quesnel in August 1918.
Silhouettes of The Great War contains more than 30 original photos and illustrations taken from Harold Becker’s personal album. It is a Great War classic in the same vein as Reg Roy’s The Journal of Private Fraser and Will Bird’s Ghosts Have Warm Hands.
The memoir of John Harold Becker