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“Crucible of Fire” and “Canadian Soldiers in West African Conflicts” Articles Comparison

Introduction

In the article, Crucible of Fire: The Boer War and the Birth of the Canadian Army Medical Corps, the author, Ian McCulloch, takes the reader through a short history of the origins of the Canadian Army Medical Corps (CAMC). Specifically, the author highlights the nature of medical services that were available at the time and the various steps that were taken toward the creation of CAMC. In the article, McCulloch’s central argument is that the formation of CAMC in 1904 was born due to Canada’s participation in the Boer War in South Africa at the start of the 20th century based on the many reforms suggested for the Canadian Army back in Canada.

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On the other hand, in Canadian Soldiers in West African Conflicts, 1885–1905, Andrew B. Godefroy, the author, examines the critical role played by the Canadian Army in West Africa at the turn of the 20th century. The author’s thesis is that Canadian forces played a significant role in the success of the British army in various abroad missions. This paper analyzes these two articles to highlight their central claims by focusing on the authors’ approaches to communicating their message to their intended audience.

Crucible of Fire: The Boer War and the Birth of the Canadian Army Medical Corps

This article was written on November 15, 1995, and published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, which is a peer-reviewed medical journal run by the Canadian Medical Association (CMA). The author is Ian McCulloch, a Lieutenant Colonel, who at the time of publication was the commanding officer of the Black Watch (Royal Highland) Regiment in Montreal. This regiment was actively engaged in the Boer War at Paardeberg in 1900 after having sent 52 officers to the Special Service Battalion in 1899. The author’s main argument is Canada’s involvement in the Boer War in South Africa in 1900 contributed significantly to the formation of the CAMC.

Additionally, as the war continued, sweeping reforms for the Canadian militia were being suggested back home, which shaped the decision-making process that led to the creation of CAMC in 1904. The author is not responding to other interpretations about this topic. On the contrary, he seeks to give a brief history of how CAMC was born and the various factors that led to its creation. However, the article has an obvious perspective – that the operations of Canadian medical units in overseas operations were successful from the beginning. This explains why the author does not discuss the challenges that the first such units encountered in South Africa during the Boer War.

The author states, “Canadian medical personnel was able to acquit themselves so well in their first overseas campaign largely because of reforms started in 1896 following a change of government” (McCulloch, 1995, p. 1494). This assertion points to the aforementioned obvious perspective, which underscores biased opinions. The author follows the military history school of thought whereby he records the occurrences of the Boer War specifically focusing on the involvement of the Canadian military to ultimately show how it contributed to the formation of CAMC. This school of theory affects the interpretation of the article by allowing the reader to contextualize the author’s arguments.

For instance, it becomes easy to understand how and why this war led to the creation of CAMC. Finally, the author uses evidence from both primary and secondary sources even though he does not reference the same. This form of evidence validates the author’s claims, especially in instances where he seems to gravitate towards subjectivity in his arguments.

Canadian Soldiers in West African Conflicts, 1885–1905

This article was written in 2008 and was published in Canadian Military History, which is a peer-reviewed journal. The author is Andrew B. Godefroy, a Ph.D. holder in War Studies, a historian, and “a strategic analyst with the Canadian Army as well as the editor of the Canadian Army Journal” (Godefroy, 2008, p. 36). The author’s main argument is that the available literature mainly focuses on how the British army influenced and controlled an incipient Canadian militia. However, Godefroy argues that this perception is wrong based on incomplete analyses because the Canadian militia played a central role in various conflicts in West Africa.

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At times, such roles were critical for the operational success of the British army. Therefore, as the author posits, a new approach is needed in the analysis of the pre-World War I Canadian army – “one that focuses as much on the influence of those who left Canada for military service as those who remained within the ranks of the institution at home” (Godefroy, 2008, p. 21). In this article, the author is responding to other interpretations concerning the evolution of the Canadian Army and its role in various conflicts that it co-worked with the British army. Specifically, the author seeks to rediscover a deliberately forgotten chapter on how Canada and Canadians influenced the British army and its operations abroad, specifically in West Africa.

The article has an obvious perspective that the role of the Canadian militia in various conflicts is normally overshadowed by the many successes of the British army. In most cases, the Canadian militia worked under the British army, and thus analysts mainly focus on the latter, thus overlooking the role of the former in such successes – a perception that the author seeks to change. Godefroy follows the military history school of thought whereby he discusses the involvement of the Canadian militia in various conflicts in different countries in West Africa including the Gambia, the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone, and Northern and Southern Nigeria.

This approach affects the interpretation positively by allowing the audience to draw conclusions based on the claims made therein. The author uses a combination of resources, both primary and secondary, and gives a bibliography in form of notes at the end of the article. The extensive referencing of the claims made throughout the article makes the article credible to the reader because the author distances his opinions from the subject. This aspect shapes the author’s argument by introducing objectivity and minimizing bias, thus making the information reliable.

Comparison

The authors’ interpretations in the two articles are different in various ways. First, in the first article, McCulloch’s approach is somewhat subjective without extensive referencing of the presented ideas. On the contrary, Godefroy remains objective in his arguments by referencing the majority of his claims. The authors’ backgrounds could explain this difference. McCulloch was writing about the Black Watch (Royal Highland) Regiment, where he was a Lieutenant Colonel and a commanding officer, and the same regiment was involved in the very war he was discussing, which could be a source of his bias. There is a substantial difference in publication dates as McCulloch’s article was published in 1995, while Godefroy’s in 2008. However, despite the differences in publication dates, the approaches and theoretical backing are the same.

Both authors used the military history school of thought to present their claims. Therefore, the articles do not reflect changes within the field over time, as they are contemporary works that are shaped by differing approaches. On the one hand, McCulloch’s article is subjective focusing mainly on the author’s views and opinions with few mentions of some sources. On the other hand, Godefroy remains objective in his claims by referencing the majority of his claims, which introduces credibility and reliability in his article. The major weakness in McCulloch’s article is the lack of referencing of ideas, thus exposing it to subjectivity and bias.

However, the article is well written with a clear flow of ideas for the reader to follow, which is a major strength. On the other hand, the major weakness of Godefroy’s article is the extensive sub-titles, which could confuse the reader when trying to understand the central themes. However, the article is adequately referenced – a major strength.

Conclusion

Both McCulloch and Godefroy address different issues concerning the Canadian militia at the turn of the 20th century in various abroad missions, specifically in Africa. McCulloch focuses on the central role that the involvement of Canada in the Boer War played in the formation of CAMC. On the other hand, Godefroy discusses the role of the Canadian militia in West Africa where it worked closely with the British army. The two writers use the military history school of thought to present their ideas. Additionally, the articles are both contemporary works shaped by differing approaches, and thus they do not reflect changes within the field over time.

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References

Godefroy, A. B. (2008). Canadian soldiers in West African conflicts, 1885–1905. Canadian Military History, 17(1), 21-36.

McCulloch, I. (1995). Crucible of fire: The Boer War and the birth of the Canadian Army Medical Corp. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 153(10), 1494-1497.

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StudyCorgi. "“Crucible of Fire” and “Canadian Soldiers in West African Conflicts” Articles Comparison." September 1, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/crucible-of-fire-and-canadian-soldiers-in-west-african-conflicts-articles-comparison/.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "“Crucible of Fire” and “Canadian Soldiers in West African Conflicts” Articles Comparison." September 1, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/crucible-of-fire-and-canadian-soldiers-in-west-african-conflicts-articles-comparison/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) '“Crucible of Fire” and “Canadian Soldiers in West African Conflicts” Articles Comparison'. 1 September.

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