The Hawk and the Hare: Based on a True Story
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Based on a true story

Author: Janet Love Morrison

It is 1944 and the young Canadians of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry have had enough of drills and night marches and waiting. Private Ewen Morrison is 21 years old when he joins the regiment in Sussex and meets his new platoon, including Reggie Johnson, an Indigenous soldier from Ontario’s Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve. His new friend supplements the army’s training with some of his own, helping to prepare Ewen for scouting missions against the enemy. Landing on Juno Beach, the men confront the brutal reality of war as they advance across northern Europe with the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division. Reggie’s bravery, skill and authority soon earn him a field promotion, but not necessarily the respect of all the men in his platoon.

Based on war diaries and regimental records, The Hawk and the Hare is inspired by the real-life experience of the author’s father. This is not the story of generals and officers, but of the men on the ground and the hardships they endured. Exploring themes of friendship, culture and valour, The Hawk and the Hare honours the young men who fought to liberate Europe in the final months of the Second World War. 

  • Fiction
  • ISBN 978-1-7770101-2-6 (softcover)
  • ISBN 978-1-7770101-3-3 (html)
  • 5.5″ x 8.5″
  • Publication date: May 2020
  • CAD $ 22.95

This emotionally gripping novel brings to life an account of the atrocities of war amongst a tightknit group of infantry soldiers. It explores the personal relationships between leaders and followers, Indigenous and non-indigenous soldiers, veterans and replacement soldiers, comrades and enemies, soldiers and civilians . . .  Janet Love Morrison does a masterful job weaving the personal accounts into an action-packed storyline, making it a captivating read.

Colonel Timothy R. Young, Former Canadian Defence Attache to the Netherlands, Belgium & Luxembourg

I found the book emotional for me as my Dad also served in WW 2. It is a book about deep bonds, trauma, healing and freedom are some of the emotions I experienced. When Janet’s (the author) Dad was in the trenches on the front line, it made me appreciate how the men literally put their lives on the line so that I (we) could live in peace time.

I’m a native elder now, and when I read the parts with the native Indian man and her Dad team up as Scouts, I felt I was identifying with the Indian. It helped me understand more of what these men (and my father) went through. Many of the men returning had PTSD before it was completely understood.

Many thanks to Janet Love Morrison for all the research she has done. I could see this as a movie too.

Phil Mechuskosis L'Hirondelle, Educator and Cree Elder

Soldiering is a unique profession. Not everyone can do it, and fewer can do it well. Canada through the centuries has been fortunate to have soldiers of exceptional calibre, from our earliest days to the present. Wherever they have fought, they have been recognized as tough, adaptable, well-trained and independent-minded, not only by our allies but by our opponents. Every war has its own linguistic characteristics yet it is likely that a soldier of one generation would understand the talk of a soldier of another generation. While details may change, the atmosphere of military service is a constant. The tools may be different, but the preparation would be familiar through the decades. Janet Love Morrison, the daughter of a soldier, has captured this spirit well in The Hawk and the Hare, her semi-fictional novel of her father at war with The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. Set in 17 Platoon, “D” Company, the story follows a mixed bag of characters, all fictional except for her father, Private Ewen Morrison. With input from many sources including the RHLI Museum Curator Stan Overy, and using the RHLI war diaries as a guide with relevant excerpts, Morrison takes us through the Riley’s fight in north-west Europe. From April 1944 when Morrison came to the RHLI from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders – the Riley’s neighbouring unit in Hamilton – to landing in France a month after D-Day, to the days following the German surrender, Morrison brings the narrative down to the personal level.

I have talked to many of the Riley’s WW2 veterans and Morrison’s dialogue rings true -the banter, the bitching, the panic of combat, the relief of surviving, the joys of going on leave, the pleasures of clean sheets. That is the strength of this novel. Unlike the big histories, even the RHLI histories Semper Paratus and The Fighting Rileys, the story is mostly at platoon level, with all the characters she has created living, fighting and taking leave in close quarters. It brings the war’s narrative down to a personal level and suddenly the battles, the bad times and the good times come to life for the reader. At 252 pages, it is not a long read. I was able to take it all in over the course of just one day – because I had trouble putting it down. The tale slowly engrosses you, takes you over, and brings you into Ewan Morrison’s world. You feel the prejudices, the acceptance, the squabbling, the pride, the injuries, the death. You are there with 17 Platoon, “D” Company. You live the history from inside looking out, and that makes The Hawk and the Hare the perfect companion to the larger histories not only of the Rileys but to the Canadian experience surrounding D-Day and the struggle to victory in Europe during World War 2.

Capt. Tim Fletcher CD (ret), Royal Hamilton Light Infantry

This novel is loosely based on the experiences of the author’s father, who served as a foot soldier in the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry during World War II. Each chapter begins and ends with an excerpt from the official war diary or other regimental records–which give a glossy outline contrasting sharply with the often brutal personal experiences described. The narrative tracks Ewen Morrison from England to Normandy, then up through Belgium and the Netherlands and finally into Germany itself. Morrison’s best friend is an Indigenous man and the treatment of First Nations Canadians who were serving their country overseas features large in this book. A good read.

Michael Kerr, Goodreads

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Book Launch Event

June 21, 2020