The Diary and the Mannequin: Headed for Europe

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Video Description:

In this video, you will learn more about the soldier Byron Cooper Sisler as he made his way to England for more training.

Duration: 5:02
Codec: h.264
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  • A screenshot of Joe standing with several mannequins dressed in military uniforms.
    00:00:00 - 00:01:11

    Old time piano music playing.

    Lottie is standing with her back to the door staring at a map of the world on the wall. On it there are labels of places significant to the war: England, France, Belgium and Germany.

    Joe is trying to get Lottie to turn around but she is ignoring him. Frustrated, he texts her.

    Joe: So?

    Lottie then picks up a bayonet from the table and uses it as a pointer to point out the approximate location of Camp Niagara on the map, then over at Europe.

    Lottie: so how did he get from here to there?
    Joe: by boat??
    Lottie: obviously! but what ship?

    Lottie turns and starts flipping through the box on the table. Joe heads over the mannequin. He sees a knife and begins to play fight with it. Lottie ignores him.

    Joe puts it down and texts: a soldier needs weapons. going to the armoury.

    Lottie looks at him questioningly then texts him.

    Lottie: good idea?
    Joe: you said boss was gone…

    Joe sees a trench telescope, tucks it under his arm, then marches out of the room. After he is gone, Lottie finds a postcard of a ship. She heads for the door and texts Joe.

    Lottie: SS LAPLAND!!!!!

    She then stands in the door to show him the postcard.

    Joe is standing amidst a large group of mannequins dressed in a wide variety of military uniforms. He cannot see what she is holding in her hand. He uses the telescope to see the postcard Lottie is holding. 

  • A screenshot of the mannequin-soldier trudging
    00:01:12 - 00:03:18

    The view from the telescope leads to a sequence of images of the ship and we hear the voice-over of Old Sisler. During the voice-over by Old Sisler, the mannequin-soldier looks out to sea from the deck of the SS Lapland; the sequence finally ends as the sky fills with night stars.

    Voice-over: Ah, the SS Lapland. What a beautiful ship. But crossing the Atlantic on a luxury liner didn’t make the trip pass any quicker. Oh, we kept ourselves busy with drills, celebrating a birthday or two; sometimes it was easy to forget we were even going to war.           

    Well, it sure hit home when we neared the Irish coast, found out we had to get through a danger zone without an escort. One of those German subs could have been right under us at any time, hiding down in those cold, rough waters. We had to have 200 men armed and up on deck all the time, along with our machine-gun sections. One night, we even had to sleep on deck, tied up in our life belts, all of us on edge, listening to the lapping of the water, imagining submarines and torpedoes and the war.

    Joe puts away the telescope. He is standing next to a mannequin dressed in winter-weather camouflage.

    Joe: wow scary eh? and cold...
    Lottie: you’re right! his diary starts in winter. january 1916!!!
    Joe: check that out, i’ll be right back

    Joe heads towards the armoury section of the museum.

    Meanwhile, Lottie retrieves the diary of Byron Cooper Sisler. She opens the diary and starts to read it while looking looks through the magnifying glass. During the Old Sisler voice-over there are images of maps and the mannequin-soldier is seen in a restaurant and sleeping in his barracks.

    Voice-over: I think that’s my first entry that she’s reading there in the diary. Oh, we had a fine time that day: the bunch of us out for a New Year’s dinner, lots of turkey, pudding and beer.

    Took a break from the diary for a while though. Nothing much to write about except the rains that never seemed to end. And it was cold. Our huts just had clapboard sheeting on the sides, a small stove in each. We slept on the floor, shivering and freezing till we fell asleep. It was a raw cold all night, and then at dawn, we’d be out on the ranges, soaking wet, laying in the mud to shoot.

    The voice changes during the voice-over to a younger voice, the voice of young Byron Cooper Sisler (Young Sisler) reading from his war diary. While he is reading, there is another sequence of the mannequin-soldier.

  • A screenshot of Lottie holding a photograph of Byron Cooper Sisler
    00:03:19 - 00:04:21

    Voice Over:
    January 24th, 1916
    150 of us went to the ranges today with shovels. We built the wall of sods, and it is quite a job.

    January 25th
    Ranges again this morning. By Jove! It is a terror, walking 14 miles a day there and back and working hard, with only a couple of sandwiches for dinner.

    February 24th
    We had a test in the Machine Gun school this morning and I think very few passed. We had to put the gun together blind-folded in 7 minutes. The snow is frozen now.

    Joe is still exploring the armoury.

    Lottie crosses the room to the exhibit. She opens Byron Cooper Sisler’s suitcase and rummages through it. She finds a partially destroyed photo. She takes it and holds it up to the mannequin.

  • A screenshot of Joe taking a picture of a ross rifle.
    00:04:22 - 00:05:02

    Lottie: found a clue, send pix of weapons…

    Joe receives the text as he is busy looking for an appropriate weapon for their exhibit. Joe takes a series of photos with his phone.

    Joe enters the storage room Lottie is sitting by the suitcase and texts him.

    Lottie: We know so much more now!!!
    Joe: But not his weapon
    Lottie: Let’s go through your images, see if we can figure it out.

    Joe sits next to her and they look at his phone.

    Screen freezes.