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Frank Grimmer did not set out to earn honours on the field of battle nor did he readily choose to go to war. World powers were shifting. The future of nations was deemed dependant on their armies. It was left to the young men to face the gunfire of other young men who could have been friends under the right circumstances and in times of peace. Where Duty Lies tells the story of how a 23-year-old St. Andrews, New Brunswick, man ended up in the quicksand-like mud of Passchendaele labouring under heavy artillery fire helping construct supply lines that supported the Canadian advance during the Third Battle of Ypres, often referred to as the most horrific in a war of horrific battles.
Frank’s call to the trenches came as the guns pounding Vimy Ridge could be heard on the coast of England. Eager to prove himself, he volunteered to join the battle force badly cut down during Canada’s warfare with the Germans in France. Here he found himself often deprived of the guns and ammunition to advance or defend himself. But with the other “pioneers” he stayed on the job amidst the blasts of high explosives.
In the hours leading up to the launch of the Canadian assault on Passchendaele Ridge, Frank, thrown several yards by an artillery blast, went on to do all in his power to “render aid” to the wounded and those who died. His bravery earned him the Military Medal—and a thousand nights of torment remembering the violence of the events.
John Cunningham,is a retired journalist and amateur military historian living in Bridgewater, N.S. A 1962 Acadia Science graduate, he began a wide-ranging 37-year media career with the Saint John Telegraph-Journal and The Evening Times-Globe. He also worked at Radio-TV Station, CHSJ, Saint John, and the Toronto bureau of The Canadian Press and The Bridgewater Bulletin. During the 1980s, his stories appeared in many regional magazines, including Atlantic Advocate, Halifax Magazine, Atlantic Insight and The NovaScotian. He also contributed items to Lookout Magazine, Life and Leisure on the Costa Del Sol, while living two years in Malaga,Spain. An amateur musician, Cunningham plays drums with the Mahone Bay Legion and Mersey Swing Bands and is a former member of the Bridgewater Fire Department Band. He and his wife Mary have a cottage near Saint Andrews, N.B.