Monday, 9 April 2007

C is for Canadians

Today, Easter Monday 2007, the Vimy Memorial Monument in France was rededicated by H.M. Queen Elizabeth, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin.

It was in April 1917 during the First World War that four Canadian military divisions defeated the enemy in a four day battle at Vimy Ridge in northern France. It was the first time that Canadian troops had fought together as one unit, and the victory has been described as 'The Birth of a Nation".

The Vimy Memorial was first dedicated in 1936 by King Edward VIII, and although it survived the Second World War undamaged, time and the elements erased many of the names of the 11,285 WW1 Canadian soldiers who died in France and whose remains were never found. Restoration of the monument was completed in 2006.

3598 Canadian students were given a project to "adopt" one of the 3598 Canadians who died at Vimy Ridge, and find out more about him, and represent that soldier at the rededication ceremony. Most of those soldiers were not much older than the students themselves when they lost their lives. Those students were at the Memorial to pay their respects today.

Respects were also paid to six Canadian soldiers who were tragically killed in a roadside bombing in Afghanistan today.

I visited Vimy Ridge with my sons in September 2005. The Memorial was completely covered with canvas over scaffolding as the massive restoration was still going on. Still pretty impressive from the back though. Both No1 and No2 have an interest in Canadian Military History, and were able to help me visualise the events of 90 years ago.

No1Son standing in the WW1 trenches at Vimy. 90 years ago those trenches were full of mud, blood, bodies, smoke, ammunition, and were a pretty horrible place for those brave men.
We knew that my mother's cousin John Turnbull Chandler emigrated to Canada from England to study agriculture, and joined the Canadian Machine Gun Corps at Welland, Ontario, in 1915. He was sent to England for training, and then to combat in France, where he was killed 3 July 1917, aged only 20. Perhaps he was part of the troops that fought at Vimy in April, we don't know. We visited his grave at Bully-Grenay, Pas de Calais, France, possibly the first family members to do so. A sombre moment indeed.


  1. I have been to the war cemetaries in France. I went as an 11 year old on a school trip. It was a sight that will stay with me for ever.
    It is good to have days of rememberance

  2. Interesting post, Ex.

    First, my condolences on the death of the Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan today.

    Seeing your No1 son in the trenches reminded me of the Imperial War Museum in London - have you been? If not, I recommended it to your sons. One of their exhibits is a mock up of the trenches where you will hear, feel and smell the battlefield around you. Very sombering...

  3. When we visit war cemetaries in France we always notice how many Canadian soldiers are there. You'd think that the Americans did all the fighting themselves. We found the grave of somebody from the next village to ours (four miles away) in a cemetary of mixed graves. There was a Scottish regiment, English and Canadians. There were also German soldiers buried there.

  4. oops, nearly forgot - how to do the underlining thingey - there are instructions here - in the comments. - let me know if you have problems at all.

  5. This is an interesting post and your photos are very nice.

    Thanks too for visiting my blog.

  6. Beautiful posting. Did you happen to see the CBC Vimy Ridge 2-part special on Sunday & Monday nights? It was a really interesting production. My family and I visited the WWll landing sights and the Canadian War Memorial in Normandy last year. The whole experience gave me chills and changed the way I look at things. It is so important to honour those who fought for us.

  7. Hope you had a wonderful easter...& these are some wonderfully captured shots as well as the thoughts, which is relevant for any country!

  8. Really nice tribute...and lovely pics as usual.

  9. Thanks for posting this. Although a bit sad, it makes me feel proud to be a Canadian.

  10. I heard about it in the news this weekend. What a horrible event!!

    My prayers are with their families.

  11. Fizzy: I was very impressed at the military cemeteries in France, they are around every corner, and all spotless and so well kept.

    Isabella: We haven't been to London for years, but the War Museum is on our list of places to go!

    Peggy: We went to a huge German cemetery. All the graves were so dark and sombre.

    Letty: I think you're commenting on someone else's post, but thanks for the info just the same!

    Abe: your pics are lovely, I will visit often.

    TO team: I missed the Sunday and Monday CBC show (guests to look after) but I watched the rededication of the Memorial on Monday morning, very moving ceremony.

    Kalyan and Rosie: Thanks for your kind words.

    CdnSwss: Me too!

    Ming: Our soldiers are important to us. We have lost 51 young men and women in Afghanistan since 2002. Too many.

  12. I'm hoping to visit the battlefields this year. My grandfather fought as a 16 year old in WW1.
    Thank you for your visit and comment.

  13. Wow, those trenches are amazing... somehow I never pictured them as so oddly picturesque. Great irony in that.

  14. Hey, thanks for reading my blog :) My husband and I don't really have problems. He'll eat a full meal and I will eat the sides and add whatever I need. So now we make dinner together and it's very nice. We don't have kids yet, so I guess I will have to cross that bridge when I get there :) have a great week!

  15. I returned to thank you for the nice comments you made on my blog about bees. I don't know what is killing wildlife and insects but suspect it is chemicals as well as the Global Warming. It is getting worse all the time so I try to keep a large selection of plants in bloom each year and plant more each year so there will be food when the insects come back. They are hard to find nowadays. It is sickening like to many other things wrong in this world today.

    Thanks again.
    Abraham Lincoln
    My Photography

  16. You really do have a lot to be proud of as a Canadian, Ex-S. Could I become an adopted Canadian?!

  17. This post brought me out in goosebumps. Very moving!

  18. great post, great photos, ex-shammickite. thanks for adding to our knowledge of our brave neighbors to the north.



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