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A soldier at the breaking point

"This is Matthew Halton of the CBC." So began Halton's war broadcasts. His reports were at times tender and sad and other times shocking and explosive. Halton was an unabashed sentimentalist who covered the war as a crusade, for which he was sometimes criticized but more often loved. Covering the major milestones of his generation – from the war trenches to the coronation of the Queen, Halton became Canada's most famous foreign correspondent. A thoughtful philosopher and determined idealist, Matthew Halton was an everyman poet who wore his heart boldly on his sleeve.

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A man suffering from battle exhaustion sobs in the corner of a cabin. Johnny is broken at last, describes Matthew Halton. Johnny is just one of many Canadian soldiers troubled by the extreme duress of war. He used to be a stretcher-bearer and would scramble onto the field under fire and retrieve the wounded. No longer. Halton reports on the phenomenon of battle exhaustion and its crippling effects in this CBC Radio report.
• Battle exhaustion, also known as shell shock and battle fatigue, occurs in active combat soldiers traumatized by war. It is characterized by nightmares, physical malaise, depression and nervousness.

• Historian Terry Copp indicates that thousands of Canadian soldiers suffered from battle exhaustion and were removed from the front lines by the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps.
Medium: Radio
Program: CBC Radio News
Broadcast Date: March 5, 1945
Reporter: Matthew Halton
Duration: 4:30
Photo: National Archives of Canada - PA 204812

Last updated: November 6, 2014

Page consulted on November 6, 2014

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