The Minute Book
Monday, 25 July 2016

Vimy Pilgrimage is a Reminder
Topic: Vimy Pilgrimage

Vimy Pilgrimage is a Reminder…

…To Young Canadians a Trust Passed On by Heroes of War

"Uncle Ray's Weekend Mail Bag," The Evening Citizen, Ottawa, Ont., 25 July 1935

The past couple of weeks we have been hearing and thinking a great deal about the peace Pilgrimage in Vimy Ridge for the unveiling of the Canadian memorial to those who gave their lives in the great World War. Perhaps some of Uncle Ray's nieces and nephews were down at the train or boat to wave good bye to daddies, uncles, grandfathers, mothers or aunts leaving for France. You wished them a pleasant journey. Though you felt you would miss them in the few weeks they would be away, already you were looking forward to the stories they would tell on their return.

It was very different with the boys and girls who saw the troops trains go in the years 1914-1918. Loved ones were going to face such terrible dangers it would seem a miracle if they returned. The honor roll of those who did not come back bears the names of nurses, girl ambulance drivers, voluntary aid workers as well as brave soldiers, chaplains, doctors. No doubt the thousands of ex-service folk who have crossed the ocean to do honor to fallen comrades are remembering that these died in the belief they were engaged in war to end war. To allow strife to come again would be to break faith with those who have gone. That is why so many veterans are so strongly opposed to the idea of war.

Why did daddies and uncles, big brothers, yes and grandfathers answer the call to serve between August 4th, 1914 and November 11th, 1918, knowing they would be obliged to endure great hardship and possibly suffering and death? To make Canada and the world free and safe for you. They were thinking of the young Canadians still to be born as well as beloved sons, daughters, nieces and nephews and little brothers and little sisters at home. Each of Uncle Ray's young Canadians has a share in the task of keeping faith with those who came back and the thousands whose names are engraved on the Vimy War Memorial. The best thank-you that you could give them would be to begin now and to continue all your lives to live and to work to keep your neighborhood, country and the world friendly and peaceful.

Uncle Ray.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 10 July 2016

Vimy Pilgrimage Bands (1936)
Topic: Vimy Pilgrimage

Vimy Pilgrimage Bands (1936)

Bands to be Inspected
Hon. Ian Mackenzie to Review Vimy Pilgrimage Bands

The Montreal Gazette, 10 July 1936

Hon. Ian Mackenzie, Minister of National Defence, accompanied by Brigadier R.O. Alexander, D.S.O., District Officer Commanding, M.D. 4, and other local staff officers, will inspect three bands this morning prior to their departure to participate in the Vimy Pilgrimage to France. The inspection will he held at 9 o'clock on Dominion Square.

The band of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery and a composite bugle and drum band from various Canadian units will sail today from Montreal on the Duchess of Richmond, under command of Lt.-Col. A.T. MacLean, of Victoria, B.C. The third band, a composite pipe band, leaves Quebec tomorrow on the Empress of Britain under the command of Lt.-Col. G.E.A. Dupuis, of the Royal 22nd Regiment of Quebec.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 23 June 2016

A Pipe Band for Vimy (1936)
Topic: Vimy Pilgrimage

A Pipe Band for Vimy

Pipe Band From Canada Urged by Western Member
Two Pipers and One Drummer From Each of 18 Military Bands For Trip to Vimy

Ottawa Citizen, 2 April 1935

To form the military pipe band from Canada to participate in the Dominion Day ceremonies unveiling the Vimy Memorial in France on July 1, 1936, Thomas Reid, Liberal member for New Westminster and well known piper of Parliament, has suggested to Hon., Grote Stirling, minister of national defence, that two pipers and one drummer, who saw active service in the war, be selected from each of the 18 militia bands of the Dominion. The minister has indicated to Mr. Reid that the department will give his suggestion careful consideration.

Mr. Reid points out that no practical difficulties stand in the way of his suggestion being carried out. The different coloured tartans of such a band, Mr. Reid says, would put Canada in the front rank of the Vimy parade. Selection of one particular pipe band to represent Canada might cause considerable jealousy and if one band were selected, it might that it would embrace only very few men who saw overseas service, Mr. Reid added, suggested that such honours should be spread around as much as possible and pointing out that selection of two of its members for a composite band would pep up every militia pipe band in the Dominion.

elipsis graphic

Pipe Band Symbolic

Ottawa Citizen, 18 July 1936

"The pipe band which we have on board with us is rather symbolic of the whole pilgrimage, for they represent every regiment from Prince Edward Island to Victoria, British Columbia," said [Minister of Defence Ian] McKenzie.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 9 April 2016

Ashes for Vimy Ridge
Topic: Vimy Pilgrimage

Ashes for Vimy Ridge

Small Cross Burned, Symbolic of War Dead

The Montreal Gazette, 6 July 1936

Woodstock, July 5.—(CP)—Joining in an impressive service in Victoria Park today, ex-servicemen and other citizens of Woodstock witnesses the burning of small wooden crosses, symbolic of the community's war dead. The ashes were deposited in a small ivory urn and turned over to the Vimy Pilgrimage party from Woodstock to be scattered on Vimy Ridge.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 8 April 2016

Japanese CEF Veterans Going to Vimy with Pilgrimage
Topic: Vimy Pilgrimage

Seven Japanese CEF Veterans Going to Vimy with Pilgrimage

The Montreal Gazette, 16 July 1936

Seven sons of Nippon will march aboard one of the Vimy Pilgrimage liners this morning to travel with Canada's veterans to the former battlefields of France.

Wearing the British ex-service button, these Japanese from Vancouver will be honoring fallen comrades when they stand before the Canadian war memorial on Vimy Ridge, July 26. All are former members of the Canadian Corps.

Arriving from the coast early today the Japanese veterans of the C.E.F. will sail with 6,000 pilgrims of the western world — and the twain will meet, as they did 20 years ago in France, when the ships go out of Montreal to Vimy.

Some of those veterans who leave this morning will never see the great memorial on the ridge that they helped capture. For the blind are going too. And some will not hear the speeches, or the bands, or the prayers. For the deaf are going. And some will have to be carried to the place where Canada lost so many sons. For the lame and crippled are going.

And the widows. Many of those whose husbands died at Vimy Ridge, at Passchendaele and Hill 70, and the other battlefields which Canadian soldiers wrote into history, will be aboard the liners sailing out of Montreal on this solemn pilgrimage. Thirty-five war widows from Toronto make up one party, and there will be others from points throughout Canada.

And the nurses. The women who served in the Great War will be on the decks of the Vimy ships, going back to the places in France where they ministered to the wounded through all the long years of the war. The veterans who sail today will not all be men.

The wives and children of the pilgrims will make up approximately 50 per cent of the passenger lists in the four liners today, and the fifth sailing tomorrow. The great majority of the married servicemen are taking their families to France and England.

Complete passenger lists for the five liners total as follows:

  • Montrose, 1,426,
  • Montcalm, 1,512,
  • Ascania, 1,118,
  • Antonia, 1,258,
  • Duchess of Bedford, 1,074.

elipsis graphic

"The Epic of Vimy"

The Epic of Vimy, published by The Legionary after the Vimy Pilgrimage, included a roll of the CEF soldiers and family memebrs who sailed from Canada for the unveiling of the Vimy Memorial in 1936. From this roll, the following name may include some of the soldiers mention in the news article above. (Only one of these three could be foung in the Libarary and Archives database of First World War soldiers by the name as shown here.):

  • Furukawa, Mr. Bunshiro, 50th Bn, Vancouver; wounded while serving with the 50th battalion, and a recipient of the Military Medal.
  • Kegetsu, Mr. Eikicki, 50th Bn, Vancouver
    • Kegetsu, Mrs. Eikicki, Vancouver
    • Kegetsu, Miss Kimiyo, Vancouver
    • Kegetsu, Miss Takako, Vancouver
    • Kegetsu, Mr. Hajime, Vancouver
  • Shinobu, Mr. Saburo, Vancouver

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 8 April 2016 12:02 AM EDT
Saturday, 26 July 2014

We'll Never Forget
Topic: Vimy Pilgrimage

We'll Never Forget

From the papers of Lieut. E.R. Gill, A Pilgrimage to Vimy; republished in "My Grandfather's War; Canadians Remember the First World War, 1914-1918," William D. Mathieson, 1981

Well, now I come to the great day itself, Sunday, July 26, 1936. We, in Lens, were to leave in buses for the Ridge at 9 o'clock in the morning. It was actually nearly noon before we got away. The unveiling ceremony was to take place at 2:30 so that only a few hundreds of us had time to inspect the trenches that had been preserved and which are a bit unreal; to explore the wonders of the Grange Tunnel, and to see "No Man's Land" again, with its huge craters and the wire still there.

At 12:45 noon a green smoke bomb went up from the watch tower as a warning signal that all pilgrims were to commence the movement to the parade ground. Lined up in companics under our respective Party Leaders, the Khaki Bereted ex-service Canadians were given a splendid vantage, point in front of the memorial. The Blue Berets (relatives) were on either flank and the French Veterans in our rear

It is estimated that there were 6200 from Canada and another 2000 ex-Canadians from Britain in this Legion Expeditionary Force. Included in the latter was my twin brother whom I met right in front of the memorial after an absence from each other of more than sixteen years.

As one stood in awe before that towering Vimy Memorial, on the highest point of the Ridge known as Hill 145, and 200 feet above the plain of Douai, one began to appreciate how fitting was this magnificent monument as a witness to Canada's efforts, and sacrifices in the Great War. One hundred and forty feet high, one hundred and thirty feet wide, and one hundred and fifty feet deep from front to back, it stands on a concrete raft two feet thick, twenty feet below the level of the ground. Nearly 8000 tons of stone quarried in Yugoslavia have been used in the memorial, some of the largest blocks weighing 26 tons. On the walls are inscribed the names of 11,285 missing Canadians, that is, those known to be dead but having no known graves.

The appearance of our youthful looking King as he stepped on to the dais; his address, every word of which was listened to intently; the sudden appearance of the two squadrons of R.A.F. airplanes flying over our heads shortly before the flag-draped figure of Canada was unveiled by His Majesty followed by eighteen planes of the French Air Force, these things which those of us who were privileged to witness, we'll never forget. Every note seemed to have a new meaning. "O Canada", "Land of Hope and Glory", "La Marseillaise" and "God Save the King" all seemed to have an added and a deeper significance.

And then the inspiring climax of the Vimy Pilgrimage was over…

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 9 April 2013

The Vimy Pilgrimage – Souvenir Envelope and Insert
Topic: Vimy Pilgrimage

Canadian Pilgrimage
to the Unveiling of Canada's Memorial
Vimy Ridge
and to the Battlefields
of France and Belgium
July – 1936

The above image shows a souvenir envelope made available to Canadians on the Vimy Pilgrimage in July, 1936, a trans-Atlantic trip undertaken by 6000 Canadian for the unveiling of the Vimy Memorial. This was example mailed from the S.S. Montrose, one of five liners carrying the Pilgrims to Europe, at Quebec on the day of her sailing (16 Jul 1936). The envelope contained an insert card, the text of which follows:


Canada's National War Memorial

Canada's National War Memorial measures 200 feet square and is 125 feet in height. It occupies the central position on Vimy Ridge in France.

This magnificent structure was designed by Mr Walter S. Allward, Canadian Architect and Sculptor, in 1921, under whose supervision the erection has been completed.

His Majesty King Edward VIII will unveil the Memorial at the ceremony, which will take place on July 26th, 1936, in the presence of 6.000 Canadians who will participate in a solemn pilgrimage to Europe to pay homage to those who made the supreme sacrifice.

Symbolism of Vimy Memorial

At the base of the strong, impregnable walls of defence are the Defenders, one group showing the breaking of the Sword, the other the Sympathy of the Canadians for the Helpless. Above these are the mouths of the guns covered with olive and laurels. On the wall stands an heroic figure of Canada brooding over the graves of her valiant dead. Below is suggested a grave with a helmet, laurels, etc. Behind her stand pylons symbolizing the two forces Canadian and French, while between at the base of these is the Spirit of Sacrifice who, giving all, throws the torch to his Comrade. Looking up they see the figures of Peace, Justice, Truth and Knowledge, etc., for which they fought, chanting the hymn of Peace Around the figures are the shields of Britain, Canada and France. On the outside of the pylons is the Cross.

On the walls are inscribed the names of 11,285 missing Canadians. That is, those known to be dead but having no known graves.


Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 10 April 2013 9:56 AM EDT
Sunday, 31 March 2013

The Vimy Medallion - A Gift of France
Topic: Vimy Pilgrimage


In July 1936, the Vimy Pilgrimage saw 6000 Canadians, both veterans and family members of survivors and casualties, sail to Europe on five liners of the Canadian Pacific and Cunard lines to attend the unveiling of the Vimy Memorial. Joined by many other Canadians who were already overseas, over 800 were in attendance when King Edward VIII unveiled that great monument on 26 July, 1936.

The schedule for the Pilgrimage saw the many voyagers travel to England for a few days after then unveiling after which, by special invitation of France, 5000 Pilgrims again crossed the Channel to visit and tour. One highlight of this tour was a grand banquet for the 5000 Pilgrims at the Hôtel des Invalides on 2nd August, 1936. During this banquet, each pilgrim was presented with a gift from the grateful nation of France. The Vimy Pilgrimage book which recounts the trip, "The Epic of Vimy," makes only passing mention of this offering, the Vimy medallions:

"Throughout its duration commemorative medals minted by the Republic of France as a souvenir of the Vimy Unveiling and of the visit of the Pilgrims were distributed to each one. These are in bronze and are appropriately impressed with the heroic figures of the Canadian memorial on Vimy Ridge."

Marshall Phillippe Pétain spoke to the Pilgrims on this occasion, his remarks are recorded in the "Epic of Vimy" and begin as follows:

"Soldiers need no lengthy speeches in order to understand each other. Let me express to you simply and in a few words the profound and sincere pleasure it gives to the war veterans of France to welcome the members of the Canadian Legion."

"During the war the daily communiqués from the front reported reverses: for the Canadians they announced only victories. They were doughy fighters who gained the objectives assigned to them, nor did they allow these to be retaken. The memory of the Canadians remains vibrant within the heart of the French poilu, for he who has endured the severest tests knows how to appreciate real valour. St. Eloi, Langemarck, Festubert, Passchendaele, Vimy — all those places where you covered yourselves with renown are as familiar to us as the Battle of Tahure, Verdun or Hartsmanweilerkopf."

"This rampart of Vimy which you stormed on April 9th, 1917, dominates the Plain of Douai. That you have seen for yourselves. From 1914 the French High Command recognized its importance. Upon its occupation depended the possibility of effective action against the only vulnerable flank of the enemy. Thus on May 9th, 1915, the 33rd French Army Corps, which I had the honour to command, received the order to capture it."

"The Moroccan Division, detailed to the assault, crossed the Ridge and penetrated into Petit Vimy, but in the face of furious counter-attacks were obliged to withdraw. It then required two more years before we became masters of those heights. That was your work."

"Your four Divisions, supported by the powerful artillery, launched themselves forward in the dawn of April 9th, 1917, and overcoming all German resistance, captured numerous prisoners and much war material. The Canadian Corps, happier than the 33rd French Corps in May, 1915, assured after a violent contest the definite possession of this position which was of utmost strategic value."

The bronze Vimy medallions are 50 millimetres in diameter and 4 millimetres thick. The face of the medallion features a bas-relief of the Vimy Memorial statue of Canada mourning, with the following texts, either raised or inscribed:

  • 26-VII-1936 (the date of the unveiling)
  • A de. Possesse (Albin Francoise de Possesse, the artist who created the medallion)
  • Scupt Walter S. Allward (the Sculptor of the Vimy Memorial)
  • Pelligrinage Canadien – Canadian Pilgrinage (sic)
  • VIMY

On the reverse is a silhouette of the monument, with the following texts:

  • Canadian War Memorial on Vimy Ridge
  • IN MEMORIAM SEXACINTO MILLIUM CANADIENSIUM QUI ANNO DOMINI MCMXIV-MCMXVIII ARMIS VITRA MARE VITAM PRO PATRIA VITRO DEDIDERUNT (Roughly translated to: "In memory of 600,000 Canadians, who, in the years of our Lord 1914 to 1918, under arms and from across the glittering sea, surrendered their lives for their shining native land.")

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 15 March 2013

The Vimy Pilgrimage Medal
Topic: Vimy Pilgrimage

In July of 1936, approximately 6200 Canadians sailed to Europe aboard five liners of the Canadian Pacific and Cunard steamship lines to participate in the Vimy Pilgrimage. These passengers formed the bulk of the attendance at the unveiling of the Vimy Memorial by King Edward VIII on 26 July, 1936.

Among the Pilgrimage Equipment issued to each traveler was the "Official Medal," also referred to as the "pilgrimage badge" (and all manner of variations of those terms). The July 1936 handbook given to pilgrims stated that:

"In addition to the official beret, haversack, guidebook and pilgrimage badge, each pilgrim will be handed a white celluloid identification button on which his party letter and company number are shown in black."

The Vimy Pilgrimage Badge, designed to resemble a soldier's medal, was further mentioned in a paragraph specific to the wearing of medals during the trip:

"Wearing of medals. When wearing decorations and service medals on ceremonial occasions, there should be worn well up on the left breast. The Company leaders will inform the pilgrims as to the occasions when the wearing of medals is appropriate. The Vimy Pilgrimage Badge or medal may be worn throughout the Pilgrimage. It should be pinned to the right lapel, as shown in the illustration."

Many photos of the Pilgrimage show the Pilgrimage medal being worn. King Edward VIII is among the many who wore it on 26 July 1936 at the unveiling ceremony. His medal was recently acquired by the Canadian War Museum.

In the pages of "Service," the history of the Royal Canadian Legion (by Clifford Bowering, pub. 1960) can be found the following description:

"Before the ceremonies began His Majesty, wearing his Vimy Pilgrimage badge, descended the steps to meet many of the Canadian veterans and their families. To the veterans this was a great moment in their lives. Hundreds crowded around the popular monarch, some to take pictures, some to talk to him, some to shake him by the hand. Eagerly, enthusiastically and obviously happily at ease, King Edward walked among his veteran-subjects, chatting, asking questions. He has a special word for Mrs C.S. Woods of Winnipeg, mother of eleven sons who had fought in the was and of whom five gave their lives. For half an hourthe King met with the veterans and return to the memorial only upon the arrival of President lebrun of France."



Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 4 March 2013

The Vimy Pilgrimage - The Five Liners
Topic: Vimy Pilgrimage

As described in the July 1936 Vimy Pilgrimage handbook and the book "The Epic of Vimy" published after the trip, the organization of the Vimy Pilgrimage for the trip overseas was described as follows:

1.     Organization. The pilgrimage is divided into five parties – one for each of the five passenger liners used. Each party is, in turn, divided into companies, numbering from 8 to 11 per ship and comprising from 120 to 135 pilgrims each. The staff in charge of every party consists of 1 Party Leader, 1 Assistant Party Leader, 1 Staff Clerk, and 1 Company Leader as designated for each company.

The parties are designated as:

The Launch Itinerary

Thursday, July 16— "K," "L," "M," and "O" Parties will sail from Montreal on the steamers "Montcalm" and "Montrose" of the Canadian Pacific Steamship, Ltd., and the "Antonia" and "Ascania," of the Cunard-White Star Line.

Friday, July 17— "Y" sails from Montreal in the Canadian Pacific liner "Duchess of Bedford."

The Vimy Pilgrimage, organized for the unveiling of the Vimy Memorial by King Edward VIII on 26 July, 1936, saw 6200 pilgrims cross the Atlantic on the five liners. Another 1365 Canadians in Europe joined the Pilgrimage. It is estimated that there were 8000 people at the unveiling of the Memorial.

Each pilgrim that made the Atlantic crossing paid the sum of $160 to cover the costs of Ocean Fare ($119.60), Land Tour ($36.00) and Pilgrimage Equipment ($4.40). The Pilgrimage Equipment consisted of Beret, Haversack, Official Medal, Company Badge, Official Guide Book, and Health and Accident Coverage.


Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Friday, 22 February 2013 2:18 PM EST
Monday, 25 February 2013

The Vimy Pilgrimage and the XIth Olympiad
Topic: Vimy Pilgrimage

This advertisement, for the 1936 Olympic Games to be held at Berlin, Germany, can be found in the Handbook provided to veterans and family members attending the Vimy Pilgrimage. Twenty years after those veterans saw Germany in defeat at the end of the Great War, the Canadian Legion saw German advertising helping to subsidize their printing efforts in support of the Pilgrmage. Little did they realize that within the following decade, another generation of Canadian soldiers would be fighting their way back into Germany with a highly skeptical view of the "traditional hospitality of the land of Wanderlust and Gemütlichkeit."

  • Wanderlust is a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world.
  • Gemütlichkeit means a situation that induces a cheerful mood, peace of mind, with connotation of belonging and social acceptance, coziness and unhurry.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST

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