Whiz-Bangs and Woolly Bears is a story about a soldier of the Great War and his experiences as an artillery gunner in France. I used to listen carefully to his stories while we worked on his farm in Carleton County, New Brunswick. He had kept a diary during the war, and I later had a chance to look at it.
The short entries did not begin to describe the horrors of the Western Front in 1917 and 1918. As I grew older, I began to write him to ask about the details. He responded to questions about major battles in this example: "Passchendaele was just one glorious mudhole. We were there 42 days. Kept 24 men on the guns and lost 42 in the time, an average of one a day." This is the essence of what Whiz Bangs and Woolly Bears is about. It is a running discourse between a grandfather, Walter Ray Estabrooks and his grandson Hal Skaarup, now in the army as well.
Although the story is essentially about Walter Estabrooks, his experiences during the Great War, it is also about the fact that he lived to tell the tale. So many did not.
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