A Weary Road: Shell Shock in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1918

A Weary Road: Shell Shock in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1918

by Mark Osborne Humphries


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More than 16,000 Canadian soldiers suffered from shell shock during the Great War of 1914 to 1918. Despite significant interest from historians, we still know relatively little about how it was experienced, diagnosed, treated, and managed in the frontline trenches in the Canadian and British forces.

How did soldiers relate to suffering comrades? Did large numbers of shell shock cases affect the outcome of important battles? Was frontline psychiatric treatment as effective as many experts claimed after the war? Were Canadians treated any differently than other Commonwealth soldiers? A Weary Road is the first comprehensive study to address these important questions. Author Mark Osborne Humphries uses research from Canadian, British, and Australian archives, including hundreds of newly available hospital records and patient medical files, to provide a history of war trauma as it was experienced, treated, and managed by ordinary soldiers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781487525187
Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Publication date: 09/06/2019
Pages: 504
Sales rank: 745,165
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Mark Osborne Humphries is the Dunkley Chair in War and the Canadian Experience, Director of the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies (LCMSDS) and an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures
List of Abbreviations

1 Framing Shell Shock: Nervous Illness before the Great War
2 Purely Shattered Nerves: British and Canadian Approaches to Treatment, 1914—1915
3 Baptism of Fire: The Ypres Salient, 1915
4 The CEF's Shell Shock Crisis, Spring 1916
5 Treatment of Evacuated Cases, 1915—1916
6 The BEF's Shell Shock Crisis on the Somme, June—November 1916
7 Managing Shell Shock at the Front, October 1916-June 1917
8 Illusions of Success: The NYDN Centres, June—December 1917
9 Failure and Retrenchment, 1917—1918


Appendix A: Special Shell Shock Hospitals and NYDN Centres in Army Areas
Appendix B: A Note on First World War Medical Sources


What People are Saying About This

J.L. Granatstein

"Based on massive research into untapped archival sources, A Weary Road is a first-rate study by one of the nation's very best young military historians. This well-written volume adds much to our understanding of shell shock, wartime medical practices, and Canada's Great War."

Terry Copp

"Humphries' detailed, evidence-based account of combat-stress in the Great War sets a new standard for historians, fascinating and readable throughout."

Jonathan F. Vance

"A Weary Road is a nuanced and persuasive study of a much misunderstood subject. Mark Osborne Humphreys shows great empathy for the soldiers he writes about, as well as a refreshing willingness to cut through the mythology surrounding shell shock. Much of what we have been told about the subject will have to be rethought in light of his compelling research."

Tim Cook

"Shell shock is a powerful trope for understanding the horror of trench warfare. Dr Humphries offers a new way to make sense of this injury in the context of the time through his extensive research into multiple archives around the world. A Weary Road will become a classic in the field of military and medical history, as it explores the many complexities facing soldiers, senior commanders, and medical authorities in treating shell shock."

Timothy C. Winegard

A Weary Road will greatly enhance the investigation and literature of war-related trauma and mental health issues, by providing historical context to sustained research and treatment.”

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