Slang of the First World War
"Cooties"

A Canadian searches his shirt for “cooties” (body louse) in May 1917.
Credit: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-001331.

With Valentine’s Day approaching, today we’re sharing a light-hearted story involving “cooties” and love letters during the First World War. Did you know “cooties” was one of the many terms used to describe body louse?

“One sunny day in the front-line trench, I saw three officers sitting outside of their dugout… exploring their shirts… The major was writing a letter; every now and then he would lay aside his writing-pad, search his shirt for a few minutes, get an inspiration, and then resume writing. At last he finished his letter and gave it to his “runner.” I was curious to see whether he was writing to an insect firm, so when the runner passed me I engaged him in conversation and got a glimpse at the address on the envelope. It was addressed to Miss Alice Somebody, in London… the major’s sweetheart… he wrote to her every day. Just imagine it, writing a love letter during a “cootie” hunt; but such is the creed of the trenches.” (Empey, Over The Top, p. 23)

History & Leadership
at Encounters with Canada

 

During Encounters with Canada’s  History & Leadership week (sponsored by the Vimy Foundation) students will explore Canada’s First World War history to develop their leadership skills. Using a century-old conflict as the starting point, participants will learn how to develop innovative leadership traits that can be successfully applied to their lives today.

As a part of the week, students will take part in interactive workshops, exchange ideas with special guest speakers, visit the Canadian War Museum, participate in the Vimy Day commemorative ceremony, and engage in many other stimulating activities.

How to register:

The 2020 program will run from April 5-11, 2020.

Click here to view photos from our 2019 program; photos from our 2018 program.

Contact us if you have any questions about this program that we can help with: programs@vimyfoundation.ca.

Figure T-130: The Canada Wordmark