Guests' Photo Gallery, Stories and Comments
 

Many people have been good enough to get in touch with me both before and after visiting the Flanders region and Vimy Ridge. Many have offered kind words for the web page and have taken a great deal from the regions visited.

I would like to present this section as a way for visitors to offer their own photographs and comments and share their feelings with those yet to visit or unable to visit the sites of the First World War.

Many thanks to all who visit and offer material. I'll do my best to accommodate all.

John Stephens

 



 

I was still quite young when my grandmother told me of Grandpas service in the Great War.As a boy I could not comprehend what she said to me. Where did he die?,Why did he die,for what? She would try to compose herself and answer the questions but broke down into sobs. Finally when I was 14 or so she got out a few of his letters that he had wrote during the Battle of the Somme.She told me that he was in the Manchester Regiment was 23 years old and left my Grandmother shortly after he volunteered.(My grandmother told me if you didn't volunteer you were branded as a filthy coward and identified with a white feather.)

She read a letter to me ,he telling her of the fear of what was to come,his corporal telling the men they would not survive the battle,but glory awaited.)He told of the horrible conditions they lived in,the short life expectancy, the constant noise,from artillery explosions machine gun fire,the dreaded gas. His last letter before the battle told of a chance to go to the rear for some hot food and clean clothes,but his officer saying they would not be ":battle ready"having had all the comforts and canceled their rest period .He closed his letter simply by saying "I die for my king" Farewell, Your Thomas

A few months later she received a letter from the "War Office"? she said,saying that my grandfather had died in the battle of the Somme.She was sent a large brass disc.(I still have it.)with the engraving saying (He died for King and Country).That was it She was numb she said having cried for so long As for the why she said. Davey, I don't know - it all so seemed needless. We didn't win anything really Please,she said,just always ,always remember those so young men who died in a war they didn't even understand.

In the years since my father finally located the cemetery where he was buried,in Etaples.We have a photograph of it in a scrapbook and each Remembrance day we take it out and think of a young soldier trying to make sense of it all, miles from home going to his death.Glory? I don't know.I never had a chance to ask him.

 

David Prestwich  2012


 

Many thanks to Stephan & Sherry Martin for these beautiful pictures of the Vimy Memorial

May 2008

                                                       

 

 

Sent: Wednesday, June 27, 2007 2:30 PM
Subject: A Submission for Page 4 - 3rd Ypres

Hello,

Thank you for setting up your website.

I have included 3 pictures from a recent May 2007 trip to Belgium and France to visit WW1 sites with my mother and wife.

We would highly recommend that anyone reading this website take her/his family to visit these sites. Very humbling and moving. We owe it to these people to learn from their anguish and their courage to make the world a better place.

The first picture is of the “Brooding Soldier” at the Canadian Memorial marking the bravery of the C.E.F. during the first gas attack raids of April 1915. A very powerful memorial to courageous men.

The second picture is of “Canada Bereft” at the Vimy Memorial. You can feel her anguish as she looks down to the base of the monument to the grave of the Canadian soldier.

The last picture is of my great, great uncle, Phillip Brown’s grave, at the Poperinghe New Military Cemetery. He volunteered at 39 to go to the war as a labourer. He and two of his mates were killed by a bomb thrown from a plane during August 1917, as they were working on a project near the Iezer Canal near Ypres (now Ieper). We had a chance to visit at his grave site (with the flag) for awhile. He was buried at the New Military Cemetery site beside his two mates (to the right of his grave).

As a note, both my mother and wife commented on the very noticeable change in temperature upon entering/leaving this cemetery. It is the site of 17 soldiers who were “shot at dawn”. Their spirits are very unhappy. To have volunteered and then to have been shot by your own side when no doubt you have already been through hell. It leaves you speechless. This cemetery holds the greatest number of soldiers executed during the war. We will remember them … from one dawn to the next.

As a last comment, the Belgians are a wonderful people. It is amazing that they have any sense of humour left at this point after having most of the world’s most powerful nations use their country as a battleground for many centuries.   

Thank you,

Charley Best
Toronto, Canada

 

       
 

 


 

Hi,
 
I was looking for sites via Google on Vimy Ridge when I came across yours. My great Uncle Bernard Hall (Private 739114) joined the 114th Overseas Canadian Expeditionary Force, he was shipped out France after visiting his family back in England , and was killed on the first day of the storming of Vimy Ridge, 9th April 1917, aged 21.  He was born in Hull, Yorkshire but had emigrated to Canada, working somewhere in Ontario.  He was my maternal grandmothers' favourite brother and as she brought me up, she used to talk about him quite a lot, but I wish I had asked her more questions now.
 
One day I would like to make the trip to France to see the cemetery and the monument.  I am attaching a photo of Bernard in uniform, and the following is a prose poem I wrote about him.
   
 

Remembrance

 

My Great Uncle Bernard

Joined a Canadian Regiment,
The Overseas Expeditionary Force,
114th Brock Rangers.
He was shipped back to England
and said his Goodbyes to his folks,
When asked by his sister
“Why did you enlist?”
He replied
“You would not want to think me a coward.”
The cold, damp winter weather
brought on his Arthritis,
Almost crippled, he was hospitalised,
Then before he’d recovered
they discharged him again,
and sent him over to France.
Into the trenches
and the frontline of battle.
On April 9th, 1917
They were ordered to storm Vimy Ridge,
Bernard was killed
on that very first day,
how I don’t know,
but I wonder,
was it that tank
hidden in a cottage,
that mowed him down with the others.

 

 

 
To think of him running
on those arthritic legs
through mud and gunfire
is so painful.
Like so many others
in the flower of his youth
he was cut down in those fields to expire.
My Grandmother,
his sister,
kept all of his medals
in plain sight, for all to see,
She was proud of her brother.
and treasured his photo’s
keeping alive his memory,
Now she too is gone,
and I have his medals
on a wall in my house,
in plain sight, for all to see,
I treasure his photo’s
and keep alive his memory,
I am proud of my Great Uncle Bernard.
On remembrance Day,
I’ll plant a cross,
Bearing his name with pride.
Now he is resting
In La Chaudiere Cemetery
Along with the others who died.
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Jackie S Brooks  ©
26 July 2003
 
I was moved by Murray Emmett Quinn's poem, Long Gone 'n Forgotten.  As he say's at the end  "but still  . . . at least some of tus will remember them."  I just wish I could have met some of Bernard's surviving friends before it was too late.

From Hans Lesage of Belgium, a great photo of the beautiful statues atop the Vimy Memorial
- dated August 15, 2004

 


Did your granddad fight in Passchendaele?

Did he give his life?

The Passchendaele Archives

A project of the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917

The Third battle of Ypres , known forever as Passchendaele 1917 was one of the great conflicts of the First World War. Hundred days of heavy fighting resulted in over half a million Allied casualties for but a gain of only a few miles. The dead comprised mainly British, Australian, Canadian, New Zealand and South African troops and on the great memorial wall at Tyne Cot Cemetery are inscribed the names of 35,000 British and New Zealand dead who fell at Passchendaele. Many of the Missing are buried in military cemeteries about the Ypres Salient as “A Soldier of the Great War” and “Known unto God”, but most lie still undiscovered in Flanders Fields. A visit to a military cemetery is always an inspiring and emotional experience but the fact remains that the Missing have only headstones and memorials whereon they are remembered. In the Passchendaele Archives at the Memorial Museum Zonnebeke, we have created a living memorial where we are endeavouring to put faces and stories to the names of the missing by building a personal record with photographs, family documentation and information from military sources.

To avoid a duplication of the excellent database of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission we will only create a file if a photograph is available and only if the man concerned lost his life between 12th, July and 15th, November, 1917.

To this end we seek your help in providing family material which you may feel will assist us in building our Passchendaele Archives. Photographs, letters, personal papers and reminiscences of family members will be gratefully received but note, we do not ask for original material unless you feel that you would wish to donate such to the Memorial Museum. Copies are quite acceptable but if you are not able to copy or scan your possessions at a high resolution we are most willing to undertake the task for you.

As a measure of our thanks and for your cooperation, we shall endeavour to discover, upon your behalf, what exactly happened to your loved one. You will receive wherever possible, a trench map, marking the approximate place where he was killed or was mortally wounded. With this comes a short report based upon the war diaries of his unit.

The aims of our project are:

  1. to build a personal archive of thousands of files which may be researched at the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917
  2. to create a database with the extracts of all files and extensive research facilities to provide for example the exact location of death on trench maps
  3. to select records of 100 men to be stored at the new Visitors Centre shortly to erected near Tyne Cot Cemetery; one for each day of the battle.
  4. the composition of a book on Passchendaele 1917 based upon the stories of the fallen.

If you have a family member who died at Passchendaele 1917 and would like information or assistance, upon how to assemble and collate information for our project, please contact:

The Passchendaele Archives
Jan Van der Fraenen
Ieperstraat 5
B-8980 Zonnebeke
archives@passchendaele.be
tel 0032 51 77 04 41
fax 0032 51 78 07 50


Dear Mr. Stephens,
One of the people who has been forgotten when discussing Vimy is Brig. Henry Thoresby Hughes G.C.M.G, D.S.O. He was the person along with the Canadian Engineers who actual built Vimy and all other war memorials in Europe. He was my grandfather.

Major Alex Hughes O.M.M.,C.D.
 

Brigadier Henry Thoresby Hughes G.C.M.G, D.S.O.
Royal Canadian Engineers

Oft forgotten when the Vimy memorial is discussed, is Brigadier Henry Hughes, Royal Canadian Engineers, the officer who oversaw its construction and that of the all the official Canadian memorials in Europe commemorating the Great War.
Born and educated in London, England, Brigadier Hughes was trained as an engineer and architect in the late 1800s. After coming to Canada, he worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway (C.P.R.) on a number of construction projects, including the trestle bridges through the Rockies and the Round House in Winnipeg. While working in Quebec City, he was influenced by the distinctive forms of French Canadian houses and this later found expression in the bell cast roofs that adorned the railway stations he designed for the C.P.R., these becoming ubiquitous across Canada.
In 1902, he was among the first thirteen officers asked to go to Kingston Ontario to form the basis of what was to become the Royal Canadian Engineers. During the First World War, he served with distinction in the 3rd Canadian Division, was awarded the D.S.O. and mentioned in dispatches by field Marshall Haig. Later, he received the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George. He spent much of the 1920 and 30s in Belgium and France supervising the construction of the Vimy Memorial and other official monuments to Canada’s sacrifice during the Great War. He lived out his remaining days in Victoria B.C and died at his home in Elk Lake in 1947.

This article is submitted on behalf of the Hughes Family, by;
Leonard Thoresby Trump of Kelowna, BC

 


From Tony Greco - The Vimy Memorial's restoration as of July 2005


Many thanks to Oakville, Ontario's Don Neill for these shots of the Vimy Memorial on a foggy day.

 

     
 

 


 

Jean-Marc LeLong, Bois-Bernard, France
November 9, 2003

Hello John,
This morning I went to the Franco-Canadian ceremony at Vimy. Many personalities were present including
J-P Delevoye, ministre de la Fonction Publique.
I took some photographs likely to interest you .

 Bonjour John,
Ce matin je suis allé à la cérémonie franco-canadienne du 11 novembre à Vimy. De nombreuses personnalités étaient présentes (dont un ministre français, Mr Delevoye). J'ai pris quelques photos susceptibles de t'intéresser.

 
           
 
 

     
Two beautiful pictures taken by
Nathalie LeLong of
Bois-Bernard, France

March 2004

 
 
 

Dear John,

I am researching information on Sir John Moore’s “lost” Redoubt at Shorncliffe, Kent, England. I was fascinated about the baseball game at the camp.

I have recently setup the Shorncliffe Redoubt Preservation Society with the aim of saving a preserving this unique piece of military history. As you know the camp and the Redoubt was used by Canadians during the First World War. Even today Sandgate (the town by the camp) is the only town outside Canada that celebrates Canada Day by letting children place flowers on all the Maple Leaf graves, because of the heroic actions by the men when the town was bombed.

My aim is to save the Redoubt and set up a museum telling it’s story from 1805, involving Sir John Moore, the 95th Rifles and the birth place of British and Commonwealth Light infantry, through the Victorian Army, the Commonwealth troops stationed there, to today’s Camp as the home of the Ghurkha Rifles.

I would be interested to hear from any of contacts who could enlighten our researchers.

Thank you for your help.

Christopher Shaw
Chairman,
Shorncliffe Redoubt Preservation Society

chris.shaw95th@btopenworld.com
www.shornclifferedoubt.com


Hi John. 

As a very proud member of the Canadian Forces, I have been overseas several times to bury the remains of our soldiers found after far too long and to partake in the anniversary of the Armistice celebrations. 

It was a very moving experience and something that every Canadian should be made aware of, given the number of people we lost to war fighting for our freedom. 

I have attached a personal journal written after my pilgrimage in ’97.  It was such a moving experience and one I will never ever forget.  I wish every Canadian could visit the hundreds of memorial sites we have. 

Thanks again,

C.S.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

click here to view the Journal recounting the burial ceremony

"What lies before us and what lies behind us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us"

Ralph Waldo Emerson


Bonjour,

I am a young graduate from an engineering school in Douai, North of France, and I have also spent a year studying at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique, which made me aware of Canada's history and the bravery its people shown during WW1.

On Sunday, May 4th of 2003, I visited the Vimy Memorial. The beautiful weather then, the clear sky, and the 20°C of that bright morning may not tell about the dramatic conditions during the famous battle. Nevertheless I was filled with awe ; it gave me a starting point to explore internet resources on the subject, and brought me to your website.

I am pleased to send you a few digital photographs I took on the occasion, hoping you'll find some interest in them.

In the memory of the terrible events of WW1 as well as the eternal friendship between our countries,

Eric PEBRET

* please click on each thumbnail to view larger picture

   
       

Submitted by: Andy Kyle

   
   

I found a couple of pictures of that #1 CCD (Canadian Corps Division ) baseball team that beat the American team in  July 1918 at Shorncliffe England. Dad, Norval W. Kyle M.M. Reg. # 461485 was loaned from the 44th Btn. to the 1st CCD on Feb.27th 1918 (assume to play Baseball). Dad is the one with the ball on the shoulders of the soldier.

A Brief Biography:  1914-1918  Norval Webster Kyle,  44th Battalion  Reg. # 461485 known as Kylie was born Nov.30th 1895 in Paisley Ontario.

On the 14th of February 1916 while with the Standard Bank (CIBC) he joined the 61st Battalion in Winnipeg Manitoba. By April 1st 1916 they were on the S.S. Olympia bound for Shornecliffe England and assigned to the 44th Battalion. For services as a Battalion Runner between May 6th---May 11th 1917, Kylie was awarded the Military Medal for bravery (M.M.) On November 6th 1917 at Passchendaele he was seriously wounded and sent by Hospital Ship to Epson England.
    

By February 1918, he was transferred on loan to the #1 C.C.D. (Canadian corps division??) at Shornecliffe The July 1918 baseball picture that he was so proud of, is the team that beat the American soldiers team.  N.W. Kyle, 44th Battalion Reg. # 461485 was discharged in London Ontario Jan. 27th-1919. He remained a banker with the Bank Of Commerce (CIBC) and died in Chatham Ontario in 1953.

 Andy J. Kyle in Sarasota Florida-Nov. 12th- 2002

and some late, breaking news of the game (as of April 2003)

            On Saturday afternoon [15/06/1918 ?] a Canadian Command Depot and an Aero Squadron (American) met in a baseball match on the Hythe Corporation Field, kindly lent by Mr Uden. The Mayor (Councillor W.R. Cobay J.P.) opened the game by pitching the first ball. There were some 2,000 spectators. The contest proved very interesting until the eighth innings, when the Americans led by 3 to 2. Then owing to an error on the part of the American "Southpaw" pitcher and a bad peg to the third by the catcher, the "fireworks" started and "when the smoke had cleared away" the Canadians had added four more runs to their score. The Aero team came right back in to this half of the eighth and through good hitting and base running managed to secure two more runs. This caused great excitement as the "position" looked fair for the Aeros with one out and two on base, but by a fast double play on an infield hit, the "Canucks" retired the side and prevented further scoring. In the ninth the Canadians managed (owing to some sloppy fielding on the part of the Yanks), to net two more runs, which practically put "the game on ice" and they prevented further scoring in the Americans half although they managed to get two men on base, but the next two batters struck out ending the game in favour of the Cannucks.

 Score: Canadians 8 runs; Americans 5 runs


Hello to Everyone,

Only two nights ago I watched a program on the history channel called "Shot At Dawn" and could only watch half of it, as I felt such shame for what happened all those years ago during WW1, how we could do that to our own men? .

To be honest who could blame anyone leaving their post in that horrific war,

No war is nice....but at least you need to feel you have some chance of survival, and they had none in many cases...but not to be represented and the TRUTH not told at their court martial, is a travesty of justice.

Australia had the right idea, in that none of their men were to be court martialed.

As I have an English Mother and Canadian Father, due to the Second World War,

I can see both sides of the story. But could never forgive what the likes of Haig and all the Fat Cats sitting back in comfort signing the deaths of these Brave Soldiers, just makes my blood boil, very few would have been deemed cowards, shell shock is a terrible thing...

To be able to go back in time and change so many injustices, I wonder how Haig and his safe and comfortable cronies would have fared on the front line?

I’m sorry to have gone on and on, but it came as a shock, putting it mildly, to know how many of those Soldiers were shot...It is too late for them and most of their Families, but for those who are left and To Right A Wrong, These Men Should Be Pardoned!

                                           I wonder if anyone has the guts to right this wrong!!!!

Hilary Hawkins


What Good Have We Done            byPatrick Stephens
Brampton, Ontario
December, 2002

A whistle blows and we run over the top

The bombs come down and many men drop

We attack them and they attack us

100 men die and we ask, “Is this just?”

Day after day, night after night

What good do we serve by continuing to fight?

A runner comes in, a message is received

Thank the lord! We’re finally relieved.

As we sit in the rear lines trying to have fun

We receive the news - the lines have been overrun.

The thought hits our minds, while we got to shower

Our brand new reserves saw their final hour.

The message is heard the Germans used gas

And our poor helpless friends didn’t even have masks

Just as we thought that the Germans would come

We heard the news that our lines weren’t overrun,

When the others had fled and thought they’d soon be divine.

Our courageous Canucks, held strong our line,

While we are resting many men write to their wives and sons

And that is when I asked myself, “What good have we done?”

 

 


Submitted by: Gerry Carline

 Tyne Cot on September 24, 2002

 

 
   
   

from . . . Jean-Marc LeLong, Bois-Bernard, France

 

 
 
 
 
 

Les Français n'oublieront jamais l'aide apportée par leurs amis Canadiens.

The French will never forget the assistance brought by their Canadian friends. Many thanks to our Canadian friends.

We will never forget.

 

 
   
           

 

 
   
   

De ce cimetière Canadien de Vimy, on peut apercevoir, en face,  sur une autre colline, Notre-Dame-de-Lorette :cimetière et mémorial français qui commémorent les violents combats de 1915. Cette colline dominant l'Artois, ( 165 m.) à quinze kilomètres d'Arras, fut un des champs de bataille les plus disputés entre octobre 1914 et septembre 1915.

   
   

 


Mark Landergan, Minneapolis, MN

My wife and I made our first visit to Ieper and the surrounding area in September, 2000.  One of our goals was to retrace the path of my grandfather’s unit, the 3rd Middlesex, which was one of five battalions making up the 85th Brigade, 28th Division at the time of 2nd Ypres.  

During the first several days of the battle the 3rd Middlesex was incorporated into a special unit called the “Geddes Detachment”, which  in turn was attached to the Canadian forces and saw heavy action with  them.   

During the period from February to October,  1915, the 3rd Middlesex  saw action at Verbrandenmolen, St. Eloi, the Salient, Mauser Ridge, the GHQ line, as well as in the Battles of Frezenberg Ridge, Bellewarde Ridge, and at the Hohenzollern Redoubt at Loos, in France.  

(click on the thumbnails for a larger picture)

Broodseinde – This area saw heavy fighting in all three of the battles of Ypres.   In April 1915, Brooseinde marked the right flank of the 28th Division.

A Visitor’s Book:  I found the
remarks to be very emotionally intense, even after 85
years. Messages, such as "A promise kept", "In fond memory of my uncle", and so on. In my opinion, these are the
most poignant memorials to the men who fought and died
here. These are real people remembering real people,
across the ever-growing distance of time.

 

On Gravenstafel Ridge, looking south towards Zonnebeke.   This area marked the right flank of the Canadian Division after they entered the Salient in April 1915.   Gravenstafel Ridge came under German control in early May 1915, when the Allies withdrew towards Ypres to shorten their lines in the Salient.  It was recaptured two years later during 3rd Ypres.

 

       

Hill 60 - Formed by the soil removed for a nearby railroad cut, it commanded a view of the Allied lines to the west, and was fought over repeatedly.   The bodies of many of the men killed in the fighting here were never recovered, and are buried somewhere in the hill.  One book recommends a walking tour of Hill 60, but we found it fenced off, with cattle grazing on the hillside.

 

 

Turco Farm/Mauser Ridge – a modern-day farm near the location of Turco Farm, one of the objectives of the joint Canadian-British counter-attack on April 23, 1915.   The 3rd Middlesex, my grandfathers unit, briefly captured the farm, but was driven back by Allied artillery that mistakenly thought the farm was still held by the Germans.

 
         
  Railroad Cut and Modern Bridge – just to the right of Hill 60, many photographs of the area during the war show the railroad cut and adjacent bridge, which played a role in the fighting for Hill 60.   This, of course, is the modern version.        

I highly recommend Beyond Courage: The Canadians at the Second Battle of Ypres, by George Cassar, 
and 
Gas! The Battle for Ypres, 1915
, by J. McWilliams and R. J. Steel, for those interested in this part of the battle.


Photographs by G. Robinson, Virginia

 

     
           
     
           
     
           

       
             
             
         
             

Many thanks to Andrew Allanson-Parsons for sending these photographs. The pictures are scanned from a booklet acquired in 1940 by his grandfather, John Parsons, a gunner and cook during the Second World War.  

John Parsons went to Europe with the B.E.F (as part of the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry) on the 1st of January 1940 and left via Dunkirk.

To view more of the pictures and explore a great site please click here to get to Andrew's War Gunner web site.

 


Photographs by Alison Kenefick & Aris Symeonides of Ontario, Canada
             
 

Another evidence of Canada at Passendael, Flanders, Belgium.

  A memorial to those sons of Newfoundland that fell during the Battle of the Somme at Beaumont Hamel. Note the "grass cutting" chores being done by the local sheep as it is still too dangerous to use other means.   

The Newfoundlander's Trenches at Beaumont Hamel

 
         
             
 

The "Grieving Parents" memorial at the Vladslo German Cemetery at Vladslo, Flanders. The monument was sculpted by Kathe Kollwitz to honour her son, who is buried at this site. 
There are 25,664 German soldiers located at the Vladslo German Cemetery

   
             
             

The "Danger Tree" at Beaumont Hamel. This is the tree that was used as a rallying point for the soldiers of Newfoundland during their attack in 1916. 

   

The French Graves of Verdun. This photo was taken from atop the monument.

   
             
             

The French Graves of Verdun. 

 

The French Monument at Verdun. Slaughter on a grand scale.

 

The Newfoundland Memorial at Beaumont Hamel, France.

   
             

Jurgen Veys of Ieper, Belgium has been kind enough to pass along some very interesting text that gives a detailed description of a possible tour of the Somme area.

The text material is from the book, Major and Mrs. Holts Battlefield Guide to the Somme and is printed with the permission of Tonie Holt.

I strongly suggest a visit to the site, www.guide-books.co.uk for information on the purchase of this and other books on the subject.

Many thanks!

Click here to view the reading material.

Jurgen has also provided some great pictures of Ieper. 
(click thumbnails for larger versions)

 



Thank you for making this very special site available.
I am reading The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart - incredibly good book!
-  and wanted to see the Vimy site.
We should all reflect anew on the unbelievable events that happened at
Vimy and elsewhere - and yet the same theme still is being acted into
reality all over the world.
Where have all the flowers gone?

Yours truly,

Alan B. Campbell
Penticton, BC


    My interest in the Vimy Memorial was also sparked by Jane Urquart's 'The Stone Carvers'. A trip to the memorial via your website will have to satisfy my curiosity and patriotic gratitude until I can visit the memorial in person. We cannot let the heroics of our countrymen fade from our memories. A new generation arrives filled with innocence and consequently ignorance.
 
Thanks
J. Wallace, Toronto, Canada

 

On standing at the Monument at Vimy Ridge July 2000
by Judi Hills

I stand here before you
On a windswept day in July:
The skies are grey and your beauty towers
Immeasurable in the sky. 

Oh how it must have looked here
So many years ago,
When canons roared and bullets flew-
So much despair, grief and woe.

The trenches are all quiet now
The land lies so still.
You tower here before me
So serene upon that hill.
  An eerie quiet echoes
Quick glimpses of the past:
Of battle weary soldiers 
Who died in Honour: 
May their peaceful slumber last.

Each year we wear a poppy
In Remembrance of that time
When husbands, fathers sons and brothers
Gave their lives to keep the line.

Blood no longer stains the hillside
Though the poppies are crimson red.
Your monument reminds us:
Lest we forget our dead. 

 


I thought that it might be appropriate to include some photographs of the Canadian National War Memorial and the National Cemetery located at our nation's capital, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada..

Please click on the "thumbnails" to see a full sized picture.

John Stephens

   

The National War Memorial,
Ottawa, Canada

       
   
   

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, at the foot of the National Memorial

   
         
   
   

The National Veteran's Cemetery at Ottawa (Beechwood), Canada


My name is Dean Sellars and not unlike many other Canadians my family has served un-selfishly in WW 1&WW 2.
 
My great grandfather, Albert Thompson,& his three brothers, Fredrick Arthur Thompson, Roy Thompson&Harry Thompson, all served in WW1.
 
Albert or Bert as we called him & Fredrick (Art) both fought & survived Vimy. Harry died of wounds at Amiens, France August 10,1918. Roy, as far as I know, was MIA which leaves the mystery, as with many MIA Canadians, that maybe he is the Unknown Soldier.
 
Bert&Art both lived well into their 80`s and I feel very honoured and proud of their personal sacrifice and to have had the chance to have known them.
 
I very proud to be Canadian and plan to one day go to France and walk the path of my ancestors.
 
I thank you for your site.
Mr. Dean Sellars
 
.....................Lest we forget............................I Won't

submitted  By Joseph A. Merrill III

Flanders Visit

There They Stand In Silence

Upon This Field Of Green

Bent And Humble

With Canes In Hand

Where Long Past

Their Youth They Lost

Amid The Poppies Red

Now In Awkward Silence

Apart From Wives And Children

They Commune With Shades

Awakened By Their Visit

To This Verdant Field

Where Poppies Hid The Carnage

For Those Brief Spring Days

Oh So Long Ago

In The War To End All Wars

Copyright 18, May 2001  By Joseph A. Merrill III
All Rights Reserved

http://sargethepoet.com/flanders_visit.html


Long Gone ‘n Forgotten

Submitted By  Murray Emmett Quinn - May, 2000
Fourteen Island Lake, St. Hippolyte de Kilkenny,Quebec

Comment

After watching the very solemn and moving ceremony and interment of Canada's "finally returned" Unknown Soldier, the following thoughts came to mind, and I boiled with anger at the thought that successive Canadian Federal Government politicians and bureaucrats, through their sheer ignorance, stupidity and ungratefulness, have for 83 years, since the end of World War One, had the unmitigated gall to have never had the common decency, respect, or pride, to erect here, at home, on Canadian soil, a tomb to Canada's Unknown Soldier(s). The fact that the immediate relatives, - Mothers, Fathers, Sisters, Brothers, etc, of “Our Fallen and Forever Lost”, who are only now represented by this Unknown Canadian Soldier, have never in those 83 years had so much as one specific square inch of Canadian soil whereon to kneel, - lay a Memorial Wreath, - or pay their simple respects to these lost men on Remembrance Day, - or any other day of the year for that matter -, is only exacerbated by the sad and deplorable fact that most of the above mentioned immediate relatives of these 12,000 “+” Unknown Canadian Soldiers are they, themselves, now long dead; - and of them, many have in fact been dead since long before even the Second World War. That fact is a very disturbing tribute to Canada's Fallen.

So much for 'thanks to', 'pride in' and 'respect and gratitude' for our 12,000 +? Unknown Canadian Soldiers who voluntarily and unselfishly paid the supreme and ultimate price to twice help save the British Lion's Royal Hide, and regain and preserve globally the freedoms of countless of millions from England to Hong Kong, and who also, due to the typically cold and inbred callousness and insensitivity of the mostly British and French descended Canadian politicians and bureaucrats of those times, have never until now had a worthy final resting place. It is truly sad, but mostly disgusting, that Canadian Veterans, including, in particular, our Native Veterans, have had to continue to fight - virtually alone - this further 83 year verbal battle, - aside from two other foreign wars -, with our usual cheap, gaudy and hypocritically bigoted - yet seemingly always ever so "proud-to-be-Canadian" - Canadian governments to gain such a measly memorial for their comrades, buddies, best friends and relatives. - Despicable.

Thank God there are still at least some “real Canadians” left who always Will Remember. But sadly, too many Canadians, especially our children and relatively new immigrant Canadians, are not only totally unaware of what we are remembering, they are not even interested in what we are remembering. Then again, how can one become aware of, or become interested in, any aspect of our Canada’s past, when our schools barely touch on the subject of Canadian History, let alone its Military History.

Dedication

To Canada's 12,000 "+" Unknown Soldiers and their immediate Families, Relatives and Descendents who, for 83 years, have never been voluntarily granted a specific national monument, nor even so much as one square inch of Canadian soil, by successive ungrateful Canadian governments, whereat to pay homage to their Lost and Never Found War Dead.

Long Gone ‘n Forgotten

By Murray Emmett Quinn               May, 2000

 Oft' times we say we're very proud, but never with much voice, 
'n our children know squat of our past by governmental choice.

They know naught of their Gran'dads, nor their Great-gran'dads before,
Who left their homes 'n lov'd ones 'n sailed off to foreign wars;
Nor of the scrawny lads of fifteen years, with glory in their heads,
Who swore to God they were eighteen, 'n by sixteen they were dead,  
Nor of that lad of seventeen, with peach fuzz on his chin,
Returned to mom, a lump on wheels before he e're could sin,
With some useless note of thankfulness, from out some royal pen, 
For his services well rendered to the cause of callous men. 

They've n'er heard of the horrors of those hellish wars of yore,
With hands 'n heads 'n arms 'n legs spread well amidst the gore.
'n they know not what makes man a man - a mind, a heart, a soul,  
Or that the clay from which he's made was n'er meant to be stole,
By kings 'n queens 'n presidents, safe far behind the lines,
Or of those men who dealt their deaths while sniffing foreign wines.
N'er are they taught this history of their kin well marched through hell
By starched and pompous cowards up on Parliamentary Hill,
Who've always thought our victories 'n our freedoms 'n our gains
Were won through their direction 'n the brilliance of their brains.

Today our children can't conceive of Vimy's horrid scenes,
Where boys of glory charged ahead to their stunted final screams.    
To slump in silence to the ground, or bubble 'neath the mud,
While madmen drove the charge ahead, beneath the creeping thud 
Of shells 'n bombs 'n hand grenades 'n screaming moaning-minnies,
That make all wars seem worth-the-while to bureaucratic ninnies.
Some n’er but took a single step from off their parapet,
Where slanted rains of steel 'n shards 'n shiny bayonet,
Did slide 'em to their readied graves of greenish-yellow slime,
Wherefrom they watched a lark-less sky fade slowly for all time.

They've never heard of Passchendaele, Arras, or of the Somme,
Or counted names on Menin's Gate 'n wondered where they're from.
Nor can they visualize the fields of endless cross 'n stone, 
With names in numbers numberless, ‘n those with names unknown,
Whose souls had vanished in a flash of fountains spewing mud,
To but return upon God's earth as raining drops of blood.
N'er will their minds e're comprehend these losses of their kin,
Until they stride themselves amidst - ‘n contemplate within -
These endless fields of wasted lives, now hedged by silent trees,
That stand as mute reminders in the sighing of a breeze.

The author cannot with his pen, nor the artist with his brush,
Portray those lives that verged on death, when bowels were turned to mush
By childlike screams for "Mother", from young boys 'n full grown men,   
Who's minds 'n nerves had run a course which no God did intend. 
Who can with words or paint portray that instance in the fray
When broken minds 'n senseless nerves reduced mere men to clay?
Was this young lad a coward, with his shudders and his tears,
When he turned to run, or dropped his gun, or cowered in his fears? 
But most, - was this sufficient, for some mother's Captain son,
To execute his option on a mother's only son?

What know they of the ones returned with limbs no longer there,
Or those with minds for'er undone in closed and hidden care?
What know they of their fractured world of nightmares and of screams,
Or of lucid men who ne'er partook of all their lifetime dreams?
And what know they of those gimpy men in their jaunty little tams,
Bedecked in ribboned medals shined to brilliance by their hands,
And who silently and proudly march in sun, rain or snow be-damned,
To the sound of pipes or bugles as they march behind their band?
What do they know, our children? And how can they really care?
When their history's all been stolen ‘n their pride's not really there.

It seems n’er t’ave struck our betters, not then, or ever since,
That pride of country 'n her past are things to be evinced;
Not hidden like some filthy sins, or some blemish on our face,
Bequeathed to all our children like some national disgrace.
Does it never make you wonder? Does it make you truly proud?
That you barely know your anthem, which you never sing too loud,
With your fear of looking foolish to that son you stand beside, 
Who, likewise, sings behind the rhyme, thinking you will be his guide?
We're such a pack of hypocrites with that leaf we wave on high,
When we know not of our history, or why our gran'dads had to die.

 . . . but still,    . . .   at least some of us will remember them. 


I have sent Pte William Jennings 406558 grave registration card and letter about his death he was a relative .
                                                                                               
 Steve Silvers, April 2, 2004

 

 (transcript of the above letter)

No. 10 Casualty Clearing Station
B.E.F. France
20 -7 -16

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Jennings

 I am very sorry, indeed, to tell you that your son, Pte. W. T. Jennings died in this station at 3:25 am on July 16th. He was admitted four days before with serious shell wounds in the head, right arm & thigh. At first he was unconscious but the next day recovered a little but we kept him very quiet. I was with him very often and prayed with him. I did all I could to help to comfort him. I told him I would write to you. He sent you his dearest love  . . .

That was his only message but he was full of tender thoughts for you both. He was so good & patient … I thought he suffered very little pain yet the trial of lying there all those hours must have been great but he bore them nobly. I administered Holy Communion to him the day before he died. It meant a great deal to him. I felt you very near to him in spirit and we did not forget you in our prayers together. The doctors and nurses spared no pains in their care for him and surrounded him with every care to comfort but they could no save his life. The evening before the end he once more . . became unconscious, later passed quietly away. We layed him to rest with the church ceremony at the Military cemetery at Poperinghe Boeschlepe Rd. at Lyssenhoek. His grave will be marked with his name and is numbered Plot VIII line C Grave 25.  Any personal effects of his will be sent to you later by the authorities. Please accept my deepest sympathy and I hope that you will feel that he was not alone but with friends that did their best to help him.

Yours Sincerely,

A.B. Brooker, Chaplain

P.S. Please do not trouble to answer this letter


 


John Stephens

 

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last updated : May 2012