Surviving Trench Warfare: Technology and the Canadian Corps, 1914-1918


325 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-5017-4
DDC 940.2'1271




Reviewed by J.L. Granatstein

J.L. Granatstein is a history professor at York University and author of
War and Peacekeeping and For Better or For Worse.


One of the surprising aspects of the Great War is that some of those who
fought in the trenches survived. Bill Rawling, a historian at Ottawa’s
Directorate of History, National Defence Headquarters, has produced a
major reinterpretation of just how this occurred. Contrary to the
widespread perception that all generals are fools, he has analyzed the
way the high command of the Canadian Corps reacted to and learned from
its experience of barbed wire, machine guns, and artillery. The answer
was fire and movement, and the Canadians, all amateurs in 1914, had
become experienced professionals four years later, fertile in ideas and
able to develop such techniques as counter-battery fire to overcome the
enemy. Still, the casualties were terrible, and it was a rare major
assault that produced less than 15 percent killed and wounded; some
resulted in almost one in three becoming casualties. This is an
excellent book, a fine piece of scholarship.


Rawling, Bill., “Surviving Trench Warfare: Technology and the Canadian Corps, 1914-1918,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 15, 2024,