Survey of Six “Western Front” Nations Shows Canadians Most Likely to Have Attended War Remembrance Ceremony in Past Year

But Canadians are Among the Least Likely to Remember Learning about First World War in School; All Countries, including Canada, Over-Estimate Canadian Soldier Deaths in First World War

Toronto, ON – November 10 2016– A survey of six countries whose soldiers fought on the Western Front in the First World War has revealed that Canadians are the most likely to have attended a war remembrance ceremony in the past 12 months, but they’re among the least likely to say that they remember learning about the First World War in school. The survey was conducted for the Vimy Foundation, and comprised 1,000 interviews in each of Canada, the United States, Great Britain, France and Germany, and 500 interviews in Belgium.

Fully one quarter (25%) of Canadians say they’ve attended a war remembrance ceremony in the past 12 months, while fewer residents of Great Britain (18%), the US (16%), Belgium (14%), France (11%) and Germany (4%) say the same.

Doing Enough to Mark the Occasion

For the last two years, and for two more upcoming, countries around the world have been commemorating the 100th anniversary of the First World War. But only one half (52%) of Canadians agree that Canada is doing enough to mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War, meaning that the other half (48%) of Canadians disagree that enough is being done. While only Americans (33%) lag Canadians in believing their country has done enough to mark the occasion, Canadians are less likely than those in Germany (58%), France (60%), Great Britain (63%) and Belgium (70%) to say so.

Moreover, Canadians trail most of the European countries in saying that they remember learning about the First World War in school. Two thirds (66%) of Canadians and those in Great Britain (64%) remember learning about the First World War in school, behind those in Germany (70%), the US (72%), France (78%) and Belgium (80%).

Personally Remembering those who Served

Nearly one half (46%) of those in Great Britain say that they are a descendant of someone who served in the First World War, meaning that they’re the most likely to have a personal connection to the Great War. Fewer residents of France (36%), Germany (34%), the US (31%), Belgium (30%) and Canada (29%) have this type of connection.

In an effort to stay connected to the First World War, many intend to visit a First World War battlefield, cemetery or historic site before the end of 2018, led by those in Belgium (25%), followed by those in the US (19%), France (17%), Canada (11%), Great Britain (10%) or Germany (7%).

The Battle of Vimy Ridge

The year 2017 marks the centenary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge – the famous victory that Canadian Brigadier-General A.E. Ross remarked, “In those few minutes, I witnessed the birth of a nation.” The victory not only changed how other countries saw Canada, but how Canadians saw themselves. Given its significance to Canada, it’s not surprising that Canadians are by far the most likely to have heard of the battle (61%). However, surprisingly only 17% of those in France have heard of it, despite it being the located in that country. Moreover, only two in ten (20%) Germans have heard of the battle, despite being the opposing force to Canada.

Remembering those Who Died

Respondents of each country were asked to identify, unaided, the number of soldiers that died while serving in the First World War, not only those serving for their own country, but for other countries as well.

The numbers reveal some interesting findings:

– Average error puts France as the most accurate; Canada and USA as the least accurate

– Canada, USA, Belgium, UK over-estimate their own losses; France and Germany under-estimate their own losses

– Canada over-estimates own losses, US and Belgium, under-estimates, UK, France (massively) and Germany (under by more than a million people!)

– Everyone over-estimates Canadian losses

– Everyone grossly under-estimates French and German losses

– Only people in the UK have a reasonably clear understanding of their own losses; everyone else under-estimates UK loses by at least a quarter million, with the Americans being the furthest off.

Download full results here.



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