Merry Hell: The Story of the 25th Battalion (Nova Scotia Regiment)

Merry Hell: The Story of the 25th Battalion (Nova Scotia Regiment), Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1914-1919
Brian Tennyson
269 pages • ISBN 978-1442644960

Canada has always been involved in the most relevant events in the international system. The history of the Canadian military has many stories and anecdotes that inspire Canadians from coast to coast to feel proud of their country and the role they have played in the world.

All of us know the causes of the Great War along with its military strategies and its devastating consequences. However, many details are lost in the general context, life stories that give humanity to inhuman episodes that the whole world has witnessed.

This book is seen as a useful contribution to understanding the experiences of a generation of young Canadians who marched off to the Great War 100 years ago.

Merry Hell is the only complete history of the 25th Canadian infantry battalion, which was recruited in the autumn and winter of 1914–15 and served overseas from spring 1915 until spring 1919. Author Robert N Clements, who served in the battalion throughout that period and rose from private to captain, wrote the story many years after the war based on his personal memories and experiences. As such, his story reflects two unique perspectives on Canadian military history – the remarkably fresh recollections and anecdotes of a veteran, and the outlook of a man eager to share what his generation contributed to the nation’s history, character and identity.

Professional military historian Brian Douglas Tennyson reinforces Clements’ story with valuable and critical commentary, including an analytical introduction that contextualizes the history and notes that explain unfamiliar points and people. Merry Hell is a captivating tale for those who enjoy stories of war and battle, and one that will entertain readers with Clements’s richly colourful anecdotes and witty poems, none of which have been published before.

Brian Douglas Tennyson is emeritus professor in the Department of History at Cape Breton University.