He lied about his age to enlist because he was younger than the official acceptance age. As the son of a World War I hero, a year-long resident in England with his mother’s family, and an idealist with strong convictions, he held a slightly romantic view of war. His brother, relatives and friends had already enlisted. It was the exciting, heady mood of the day to ‘sign up’. A talented artist with his own mind, he wanted to join because he felt it in his blood. And it was The Royal Canadian Air Force that attracted him because he wanted to learn to fly.
There was a systemic problem, though. His artistic temperament fed a sensitive vein that ran through him. If he saw colours in technicolour, then he saw battle atrocities in vivid replays. Over and over.
After his return to civilian life, his subdued temper flared more easily. Tortured by the realities of war, his subsequent art reflected a declining mental state. Dark canvases featured war lords, demons, and hell. Years later, his condition would be recognized and labelled as post traumatic stress disorder but at the time, he was diagnosed manic depressive.
For this soldier---who suffered as do all soldiers---was my father.