Words of War

Words of War” will Feature Writers of Two New Books

Down through time, millions of words have been written on the subject of war, and among the accounts that are most telling are those that describe the experiences of soldiers caught up in situations no one would ever want to face.

The St. Thomas Public Library will be presenting the authors of two new, though quite different books on soldiers in wartime.  “Words of War” will be presented on Monday, November 8 at 7:30 p.m. in the Library’s Carnegie Room.  There is no admission charge.

Jeffrey Booth is the well-known St. Thomas author of several books on local history.  His latest is Dreams of Food and Freedom, which tells the stories of several men from Elgin County who were prisoners of war, from the War of 1812 through the two World Wars of the twentieth century.  There are stories of their experiences as POWs and glimpses into their lives before and after their internment.

Jeffrey  is no stranger to the military history of Elgin County, having previously compiled and edited two books of First World War letters written by local area combatants: Opened by Censor: A Collection of Letters Home from World War I Veterans from Elgin County, and “All is well with Ellis Tonight”: Letters of Ellis Wellwood Sifton V.C.

Scott Chantler is a St. Thomas native now living in Waterloo, who has written a graphic novel, Two Generals, inspired by the 1943 war diary of his grandfather, Law, who at the time of his enlistment in 1940 was a junior officer in the Bank of Montreal in St Thomas.  Though Law started out with the Elgin Regiment, he later transferred to the Highland Light Infantry, Galt, and participated in the D-Day invasion as an officer.  After the War, he came back to the Elgin Regiment and was later its Commanding Officer from 1962 to 1964.

While Two Generals is written for adults, Scott has written other graphic novels, including Tower of Treasure, a fantasy-adventure for children.  Another book in the same style, Northwest Passage, was nominated for the Eisner Award for Best Book for Teens.  He is also a well regarded commercial artist, numbering McDonald’s, Reebok and Maclean’s among his clients, and teaches the art of writing graphic novels in Toronto.

Both books, launched just days ago, will be available for sale and signing at the Library’s November 8 event.  As graphic novels are stories told in both words and pictures, there will be a visual element in the presentation made by Scott Chantler, and for his part, Jeffrey Booth will show photographs to illustrate the stories he recounts in his book.  The actual diaries of two of the Elgin POWs are also expected to be on view.

Both books, in their own way, remind us of the sacrifices made and the personal hardships endured by Canada’s men in uniform in wartime.

Lest we forget.


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