Port Alberni writer Jacqueline Carmichael’s latest book is ‘Heard Amid the Guns: True Stories from the Western Front, 1914-1918.’ (Photo courtesy Chris Hancock Donaldson)

Port Alberni writer Jacqueline Carmichael’s latest book is ‘Heard Amid the Guns: True Stories from the Western Front, 1914-1918.’ (Photo courtesy Chris Hancock Donaldson)

Port Alberni author to read stories of forgotten men and women from the First World War

Port Alberni author Jacqueline Carmichael hosts live reading in advance of Remembrance Day

A Port Alberni author will be paying tribute to the forgotten men and women of the First World War during a virtual live-reading event on Nov. 9.

In advance of Remembrance Day, Port Alberni author Jacqueline Carmichael will read stories of discrimination from the First World War from her book, Heard Amid the Guns: True Stories from the Western Front, 1914-1918 (Heritage House 2020).

The book features the personal stories of ordinary men and women who answered the call to war, including more than a dozen vignettes about British Columbians, Among them, a number of pieces address racism and discrimination, topics that are often overlooked, Carmichael said.

“Since the book grew out of my interest in giving voice to those often overlooked by history, it was impossible to ignore the brave men and women who faced another battle, one raged in society then and in the century to come,” she said.

“There are amazing, touching, sometimes heart-rending accounts of people like Masumi Mitsui of Vancouver, lauded and medalled for his heroism in the First World War and interned without a thought in the Second World War.”

She will share the stories of people like Edith Monture, who had to leave Canada to get education to be a nurse and serve in the war because of her Indigenous status, and Black soldiers who had to form their own regiment to even have a Black officer.

Carmichael’s own grandfather, Alberta rancher George Anderson “Black Jack” Vowel, was a starting point for the book. Vowel was in the war for most of it; he survived being gassed and buried by a shell, and a range of illnesses including the “Spanish” influenza, mumps, German measles, and trenchfoot. His letters and journals survived him, and formed the foundation for the book. Carmichael walked in his footsteps in Flanders and France.

“I am the second-generation product of two soldiers of the First World War,” Carmichael says. “Like so many in their situation, my grandfathers survived, but they but they never talked about it.”

It’s only through recent memorial projects, such as the Canadian Letters and Images Project at Vancouver Island University, she says, that today’s generations are gaining a sense of the war’s lasting effect on families and communities.

Carmichael’s presentation will take place online at 7 p.m. PST. The live reading will be followed by a Q&A with the author. The link will be posted on the “Heard Amid the Guns: True Stories from the Western Front” Facebook page.

First World WarPort AlberniRemembrance Day