Westmount, Quebec – 10 March 2017: The RMR Foundation is working to keep alive the memory of those who served during the First World War and starting 0n 22 March 2017 we will begin publishing the daily diary of an eye-witness from the RMR: Private Raymond Duval, MM.
Duval enlisted in the summer of 1916 and eventually reached the front and was officially badged into the Regiment in June 1917. He kept a diary throughout his time in the war which he published it as a memoir in 1954.
In 2014 The Diary and Memoir of Private Raymond Duval was edited and compiled by Natalie A. Dyck, and she has graciously permitted the RMR Foundation to publish Duval’s entries online. Starting with his first entry on 22 March 1917, we will publish each entry online precisely 100 years after he originally wrote them.
Natalie writes an excellent introduction to our project:
Lest we forget. It’s a term we’re all familiar with every November 11th, which compels to recall the past sacrifices that make our present possible. But for Private Raymond Duval, it was a prescient belief that drove him to record his experiences in the First World War as they happened. Sensing the significance of his current events one hundred years ago, he left behind a story that’s evocative of an entire era and rouses us to remember and empathize with a generation lost long ago.
Like many men of his time, Duval was excited by the romance and magnitude of fighting for King and country in the war that would give birth to the modern world. Born in Grand-Mere, Quebec, on November 23rd, 1886, he enlisted with the 244th Infantry Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, on August 10th, 1916. Like many battalions of the C.E.F., his was broken up and used as reinforcements for those already in the field. Private Duval was assigned to the 23rd Reserve Battalion in England, before joining the 14th Battalion, Royal Montreal Regiment, in France. He served on the Western Front, witnessing the carnage and senseless human sacrifice at the battles of Hill 70, Passchendaele, Arras, Amiens, Canal Du Nord, and Cambrai, until he was discharged on April 21st, 1919.
During the war, he maintained a daily record of his experiences in the diary provided to him by the army. After returning to Canada, he was an active member of the Grand-Mere community and the Royal Canadian Legion, and wrote several articles in the local newspaper. With the intention to create a public record of what he called “the brighter side” of combat duty, he again took pen to paper and wrote a memoir in January of 1954.
Despite its many horrors, Duval remembered the war fondly, telling his grandchildren that surrounded by the constant and random threat of death, he had never felt more alive. His comrades remained lifetime friends, many of them present for his 60th wedding anniversary to his beloved wife, Clare. Raymond Duval died at the age of 96, in St. Anne’s Veterans Hospital in Quebec. He wished to share his belief that in the worst of times, the human spirit endures, and the best in men can emerge.
Please check the RMR website daily for the next two years to read Private Duval’s diary. He maintained his diary from the day he left Montreal until arriving back in Montreal with the Regiment on Easter Sunday, 20 April 1919.