At 0400 hours on 21 October 1915, 24 year–old First Lieutenant Herrick “Heck” Stevenson Duggan died of wounds in Béthune, France. One of the 61,000 casualties suffered by the British Army during its failed Loos offensive (25 September to 19 October 1915), Herrick differed from the vast majority of the dead and wounded because he was Canadian, not British.

Based primarily on correspondence between Herrick Duggan and his family during the years 1913–15, this article explores Duggan’s life and experiences leading up to, and during, the Great War. In doing so it examines how the “war to end all wars” impacted one Canadian and his family, as well as exploring the nature of British society during the early years of the war. Indeed, Duggan’s letters are a valuable source for understanding the social and military aspects of the Great War. Duggan was a candid and observant writer who held little back. He was not afraid to tender criticism and concern about the Allied war effort and objectives—not to mention government figures—when he felt it was necessary to do so. Furthermore, he was often quite open with his own feelings and emotions with regard to the position in which he found himself.