The Minute Book
Friday, 10 November 2017

The First Celebration of the Armistice
Topic: Remembrance

The First Celebration of the Armistice


The Canada Gazette, Ottawa, Saturday, November 23, 1918



George the Fifth, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King, Defender of the Faith, Emporer of India.

To all to whom these presents shall come, or whom the same may in anywise concern,—Greeting:

A Proclamation

E.L. Newcombe, Deputy Minister of Justice, Canada:— Whereas it seems to Us fitting that a day should be set apart as a day of solemn thanksgiving to Almighty God for the victories that have been won by the Allied Armies and for the Armistice that has been signed by the contending nations,—

Now Know Ye that We by and with the advice of Our Privy Council for Canada have thought fit to appoint and do appoint Sunday, the first day of December in this present year to be observed throughout Our Dominion of Canada as a day of solemn thanksgiving to Almighty God for the victories that have been won by the Allied Armies in the war against the Central Powers of Europe and for the Armistice that has been signed by the contending nations involving a general surrender by the enemy.

And We do invite Our loving subjects throughout Canada to set apart the said day for this purpose.

Of all which Our loving subjects and all others whom these presents may concern, are hereby required to take notice, and govern themselves accordingly.

In Testimony Whereof, We have caused these Our Letters to be made Patent, and the Great Seal of Canada to be hereunto affixed. Withers: Our Right Trusty and Right Entirely Beloved Cousin and Counsellor, Victor Charles William, Duke of Devonshire, Marquess of Huntington, Earl of Devonshire, Earl of Burlington, Baron Cavendish of Hardwicke, Baron Cavendish of Keighley, Knight of our Most Noble Order of the Garter; One of Our Most Honourable Privy Council; Knight Grand Cross of Our Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George; Knight Grand Cross of Our Royal Victorian Order; Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Our Dominion of Canada.

At Our Government House, in Our City of Ottawa, this Fifteenth day of November, in the year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and eighteen, and in the ninth year of Our Reign.

By Command,

Thomas Mulvey,
Under-Secretary of State.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Authorization for Poppy to be Worn
Topic: Remembrance

Authorization for Poppy to be Worn

King's Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Militia, 1917

Para. 1364.—The wearing of any unauthorized ornament or emblem, when in uniform, is forbidden, unless express permission has been granted. The wearing of a sprig of shamrock in the headdress by Irishmen of all ranks, on St. Patrick's Day, is authorized.

1922 — General Order 202

Canada Gazette, 16 December 1922

King's Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Militia, 1917, are amended as follows:—

Para. 1364—after the word "authorized" in line 5, delete the period and insert ", also the wearing of a poppy in the headdress on the anniversary of Armistice Day. If the poppy cannot for any reason be worn in the headdress, it may be worn on the jacket."

1924 — General Order 49

King's Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Militia, 1917—Amendments

Canada Gazette, 10 May 1924

King's Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Militia, 1917, are amended as under:—

Para. 1364 as amended by G.O. 202 of 1922, is cancelled and the following is substituted therefor:—

1364.     No unauthorized ornament or emblem is to be worn in uniform, but special emblems may be carried on the headdress on anniversaries, provided authority has been obtained.

English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh and French soldiers serving in Units of the Canadian Militia may wear their respective National flowers in their headdress on the days specified below:—

  • St. George's Day – English soldiers.
  • St. Patrick's Day – Irish soldiers.
  • St. Andrew's Day – Scottish soldiers.
  • St. David's Day – Welsh soldiers.
  • St. Jean Baptiste Day – French soldiers.

All ranks, when not on duty, are authorized to wear a poppy on the uniform headdress on the 11th November, being the anniversary of Armistice Day of the Great War.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 11 December 2016

Canada Still Seeking Her Missing War Dead (1946)
Topic: Remembrance

Canada Still Seeking Her Missing War Dead (1946)

Ottawa Citizen, 11 December 1946

Over many lands around the globe, Canada is still seeking her dead and paying her last respects to the men who gave their lives on foreign soil in the Second Great War.

From the explosive pocked terrain of Northern Europe to the steaming jungles of the South Pacific, special crews still search for—and locate—the bodies of Canadian fighting men who fell quietly in far-off places.

Thousands Vanished

The army and the navy have completed this final gesture to their dead, but the air force, with the war long past, continues the long painstaking hunt for those thousands who vanished from the air to join the list of those "missing—believed killed."

More than 10,000 R.C.A.F. members were posted orginally under this heading. Many of these—perhaps half—never will be located, for they and their aircraft plunged into the North Sea, the English Channel, the Atlantic, or met death in circumstances that precluded recovery of their bodies.

3,000 Found

Of the remainder, about 3,000 have been found, many of them buried in Germany or other enemy countries. For those still untraced, the search goes on.

It goes on in Northern Europe, Italy, North Africa, the far east and the distant lands of the Pacific Theatre. In Europe, the R.C.A.F. has 30 officers working in a "missing research and inquiry unit" with the Royal Air Force and the Australian and New Zealand air forces.

Investigating officers travel to remote spots through the area, check police files, German Red Cross files and hospital records. They start in with reports of a flier's last operation, and go on from there.

In the other theatres, allied officers act as on-the-spot investigators for Canada and pass on information regarding any bodies located. Canada's group does the same for other allies.

When a body is found in enemy country, say Germany, it is disinterred and reburied in a British military cemetery where the grave receives perpetual care through the Imperial War Graves Commission. Relatives are notified and the next-of-kin receives a photograph of the grave where the soldier or airman lies finally.

Many families refuse to give up hope that a son or husband still lives, and the services receive many letters suggesting they may still be wandering, with memory gone, around the old battlefields. But not a single case of amnesia has been found.

Other relatives want bodies brought back to Canada, and offer to pay the cost. But there is no indication here that there will be any change in the policy of leaving the nation's dead lie where they fought and won their victories.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 11 November 2016

Canada to Honor Her Unknown Dead (1921)
Topic: Remembrance

Canada to Honor Her Unknown Dead (1921)

The Evening Record, Ellensburg, Washington, 26 November 1921

Ottawa, Nov. 26.—Canada is to pay her tribue to her unknown war dead. The body on an unknown soldier from the Dominion will be brought fron the Western front and burined beneath the Victory Tower of the new Parliament buildings, it was announced yesterday.

It is proposed that the body shall be placed in a vault excavated in the solid rock foundation under the great archway of the Victory Tower and between the two portals which give entrance to the buildings.

The grave will be set almost immediately below the altar in the memorial chamber overhead, and will be marked by a marble slab raised above the grave level.

Thus, all who enter the Parliament building through the two portals under the archway of the tower, will pass by the last resting place of Canada's "unknown" warrior.

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Canada did not repatriate the body of an Unknown Soldier of the Great War until 2000.

The chosen resting place for this soldier, the Canadian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, is in front of the National War Memorial.

"The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was created to honour the more than 116,000 Canadians who sacrificed their lives in the cause of peace and freedom. Furthermore, the Unknown Soldier represents all Canadians, whether they be navy, army, air force or merchant marine, who died or may die for their country in all conflicts - past, present, and future." (Source)

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 10 November 2016

War Graves to be Held In Perpetuity
Topic: Remembrance

War Graves to be Held In Perpetuity

The Sherbrooke Telegram, 25 May 1944

Ottawa, May 25.—All necessary steps to ensure that the land containing Canadian War Graves Overseas will be held in perpetuity for the Canadian people, were taken long ago by the Dominion Government, Defence Headquarters announced.

By virtue of a long-standing agreement with the Imperial War Graves Commission all such properties requisitioned during hostilities by the Canadian Army, will be acquired, "not in the manner or with the consequences of a private sale," but for permanent possession by the Dominion of Canada, the statement revealed.

The Imperial War Graves Commission is the accredited agent of all the governments of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and the "custodian in perpetuity" of all the graves of fallen members of the Commonwealth's forces. The Commission was formed during the Great War and operates under special powers conferred by Royal Charter. Its headquarters are in London, England, and its Canadian member is The Hon. Vincent Massey, High Commissioner for Canada.

Although, due to the exigencies of war, the Canadian Army has had to assume the duty of choosing War cemetery sites, marking the graves with the approved, temporary crosses, maintaining the cemeteries during hostilities and keeping detailed records of those buried, it has carried out all such preliminary work under the guidance of the Commission. The transfer of active responsibility from the Army to the Commission, at the end of the war, will thus be effected smoothly and without the confusion which might otherwise occur.

When that time comes, of of the first duties of the Commission will be the replacement of all temporary memorials with permanent headstones. Such headstones, however, cannot be erected now, due to shortage of labor, lack of transport and—Overseas—the ever present danger of war damage.

As a temporary measure, therefore, all known graves will remain marked by specially designed wooden crosses; by the Star of David in the case of Jewish graves, or by other appropriate forms of memorials approved by the Commission. These temporary memorials are ruggedly built, painted white and bear the regimental particulars in black letters. In the Overseas theatres most of them are constructed on the spot by men of the Royal Canadian Engineers.

After peace is declared, and the danger of war damage removed, the Commission will erect the standard, copyrighted headstone which, since 1914-1918, has been reserved as a mark of honour used only on graves of fallen members of the Commonwealth's forces. As a symbol of equality of sacrifice all headstones are identical size and design, regardless of rank.

This traditional stone memorial is 2 feet 6 inches high, 1 foot 3 inches wide and 3 inches thick. Ample space is provided on each stone for a personal inscription and the engraving of a religious emblem, if the next-of-kin so desires.

The Commission in due course, will write to all next of kin to obtain full particulars of such inscriptions, so that all may be in readiness to make and erect the permanent memorial as soon as opportunity permits. Such details as the next-of-kin wish to have recorded in the permanent printed register will be secured at the same time and in the same way.

As in the late war, many are missing and have no known graves. In such cases the Commission will invite the next-of-kin to supply the necessary particulars for inscription on whatever type of memorial is chosen to commemorate their sacrifice.

No charge is made for temporary markings, permanent headstones or the necessary engravings. The Commissions funds are provided by the various Governments of the Commonwealth.

The Commission is prepared to mark all War Graves with the same distinctive headstone, not only in military cemeteries and Service Plots, but also in cases of single and private burials, where relatives wish their dead to share the traditional memorial with their comrades who rest in foreign lands.

The erection of private or unit memorials in military cemeteries of Service plats, however, cannot be permitted. Such a practice would destroy the harmonious appearance of the plots and violate the Commission's policy of equality of treatment. Civil cemetery authorities, for a like reason, also prohibit the erection of private memorials in service plots.

These policies, which have guided the Commission since it was first entrusted with the marking and care of the graves of those who fell during 1914-1918, have won the sympathy and understanding of the British Commonwealth. The War Graves Cemeteries which were laid out in all parts of the world, as a result of the Commission's labors, have been universally recognized as placed of quiet beauty, fitting memorials created by the Commission's architects and landscape artists as a final tribute to those who gave their lives in the course of duty. The same meticulous care governs the work of the Commission in the present war.

To attempt such an undertaking in the midst of the confusion of war, however, would not, in the Commission's opinion, be conducive to the satisfactory discharge of its responsibilities to the next-of-kin. Until hostilities cease, therefore, Canadians War Graves Overseas will remain marked by temporary memorials, while the cemeteries themselves will remain in the care of the military authorities until taken over by the Commission for permanent embellishment and maintenance.

Relatives who wish to make enquiries respecting war graves should address them to Imperial War Graves Commission, Canadian Agency, 312 Transportation Building, Ottawa, Ontario. [Current address: Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Canadian Agency, 66 Slater Street Suite 1412, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0P4, CANADA]

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Scanned Sites for Canada's Monument (1927)
Topic: Remembrance

Scanned Sites for Canada's Monument (1927)

Canadian and U.S. Officials at Arlington—Four Spots Considered

The Montreal Gazette, 14 June 1927

Washington, June 13.—The possible sites in Arlington Memorial Cemetery for Canada's monument to those citizens of the United States who died in Canadian uniform during the great war were inspected today by Canadians and United States officials. Four sites are under consideration; Three near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Amphitheatre, and the fourth alongside the section the main entrance road in the World War section among thousands of victims.

The Canadian favour proximity to the Amphitheatre, and the matter will be taken up with the Fine Arts Commission, who administer that section of the great national cemetery.

The inspecting party today consisted of Hon. Vincent Massey, the Canadian Minister, E.H. Scammell, Canadian Deputy Minister of Soldiers' Civil Re-establishment; Col. Henry Osborne, of the Canadian War Graves Commission, and Merchant Mahoney, of the Canadian Legation staff. The United States was represented by Colonel Hampton, of the Quartermaster-General's office, and F.J. Glochette, superintendent of the cemetery.

Preparations will go forward immediately for the cutting of the Canadian monument, which will be a cross of sacrifice of Canadian granite similar to those already erected in Europe in memory of both canadian and British was dead. The cross will stand twenty-four and a half feet high. It will be embellished with a crusader's sword in bronze, superimposed on the face of the cross, and a suitable inscription.

The monument will be made in Canada and shipped here in time for unveiling some time in October. Plans for the unveiling ceremony are yet to be announced in Ottawa, but they include the despatch of a detachment of Canadian militia and a military band to Washington. It is not yet known who will perform the ceremony of unveiling. The Governor-General may be asked to come down or possibly Premier King will officiate.

elipsis graphic

The Canadian Cross of Sacrifice at Arlington National Cemetery

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 12 October 2016 10:19 AM EDT
Sunday, 6 November 2016

No Canadian Soldier to Remain Buried in Germany (1945)
Topic: Remembrance

No Canadian Soldier Will Remain Buried In the Soil of Germany

Ottawa Citizen, 30 October 1945

No Canadian soldier of the Second World War will remain buried in the conquered soil of Germany.

In accordance with the policy adopted by the Canadian army overseas, the Canadian bodies which were first buried in Germany will be brought out to one of the Allied countries and re-interred in one of the eight permanent Canadian military cemeteries, the nearest of them in Holland with 1½ miles of the German frontier.

By Dec. 1 the army hopes to have completed concentration of all Canadian killed on the western front within the eight cemeteries—four in France, one in Belgium and three in Holland.

That task has already been completed in Sicily and Italy with the main concentrations at Agira and Ortona and in the British cemetery at Cassino and lesser concentrations at 25 other points that once echoed to the sounds of battle.

The concentration is the responsibility of two army graves registration units. It is believed less than 1,000 remain unidentified and a specially qualified unit is laboring to lessen that number.

Col. Osborne Interviewed

In Italy, roughly 40 bodies remain unidentified.

Giving these facts in an interview, Col. H.C. Osborne, secretary-general of the Canadian agency for the Imperial War Graves Commission, said the commission was planning a list of British Commonwealth military cemeteries, giving their official name, the number of their dead, the nationalities and the location.

The general Canadian policy in northwest Europe was to establish Canadian military cemeteries in areas where operations were "essentially Canadian." But this would not preclude the burial of some British and Allied bodies in their plots.

The policy in Italy and Sicily had largely been dictated by the same circumstances which resulted in the burial of the Canadian dead in British cemeteries, since the Canadian role was played within British armies.

This Agira, one of the two official Canadian cemeteries in that theatre, contained 474 Canadian bodies compared with the 770 buried in the British cemetery at Cassino, scene of Italy's most bitter battle and neat the last few miles of the Liri Valley where the Canadian broke their sector of the Hitler Line.

The procedure practiced in establishing cemeteries provides that "on their completion, the graves are marked, the adjoining area cleared of fences, gates, flag poles, register buildings, tool houses and temporary crosses are constructed by the army."

When final graves registration is properly prepared, the graves are handed over to the Imperial [War Graves] Commission which assumes responsibility for permanent construction, the creation of memorials, horticulture and the general upkeep or maintenance.

The policy adopted by the Canadian army overseas that no Canadians of this war were to remain buried in Germany met the requests of more than a few bereaved mothers who wrote authorities requesting that their sons be removed from German soil.

Canadian soldiers of the First Great War were buried near Cologne and Berlin, Col. Osborne said, among the total of 6,560 British Empire dead who were laid to rest in the soil they, too, had conquered.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 5 November 2016

Cemeteries for Canada's Fallen (1919)
Topic: Remembrance

Cemeteries for Canada's Fallen (1919)

War Graves Commission Decides on Immense Plots in France and Belgium

The Toronto World, 7 February 1919

Ottawa, Feb. 6.—Canadian soldiers who gave up their lives for their country on the battlefields of France and Flanders will lie, as they fought, together facing the line they died to hold. Comrades in life, they will be comrades in death.

The Imperial War Graves Commission has issued its report to the various governments of the empire, the following memorandum on which is issued by the militia department here:

"Among other matters which were discussed by the Imperial War Graves Commission were two important questions. First, the bringing into cemeteries the bodies buried in isolated graves on the battlefield; and secondly, the exhumation of bodies, whether in isolated braves or in cemeteries, in order to transfer them to their native countries.

"The Commission recognized the existence of a sentiment in favor of leaving the bodies of the dead where they fell, but, in view of the actual conditions, regarded it as impracticable. Over 150,000 such scattered graves are known in France and Belgium. These will shortly be restored to cultivation, or possibly be afforested and the bodies cannot remain undisturbed.

"The Commission resolves to apply to the French Government for permission to gather these bodies into cemeteries as close as they may be to the place where they lie.

"Adopt" Our Dead

"With regard to the removal of bodies to their native countries, the Commission were aware of a strong desire in a small number of cases that such exhumation should be permitted, but the reasons to the contrary appeared to them overwhelming. The empire had gratefully accepted the offers made by the governments of France, Belgium, Italy and Greece to provide land in perpetuity for our cemeteries, and to 'adopt' our dead. The Commission felt that a higher ideal than that of private burial at home is embodied in these war cemeteries in foreign lands, where those who fought and fell together, officers and men, lie together in their resting place, facing the line they gave their lives to maintain."

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 3 November 2016

Grave Headstones Are Still Supplied (1926)
Topic: Remembrance

Grave Headstones Are Still Supplied (1926)

Veterans, Dying of War Effects Before September, 1929, to Benefit

The Montreal Gazette, 27 August 1926
(By Canadian Press)

Ottawa, August 26.—An order-in-council has been passed extending for a further period of three years the authority under which headstones are erected on graves in Canada of members of the royal and military forces whose deaths are attributable to the war. Such authority would have expired the end of the present month but the order-in-council will continue it until August 31, 1929.

The Imperial War Graves Commission only has authority to provide headstones in cases in which death occurred prior to September 1, 1921. The Canadian Government decided, at the time, having regard for the large number of patients in military hospitals in Canada and the number of men still suffering from the effects of their service in the great war, that it would supplement the work of the commission by providing at its own cost headstones for the graves in Canada of ex-members of the forces who might die subsequent to that date. The only condition being that death should occur under such circumstances and from such causes as would have brought the case within the scope of the Imperial War Graves Commission had death occurred on or prior to August 31, 1921.

Under this authority, 1,050 headstones were provided and erected in Canada up to March 31 of [1926]. Cases coming under the above order-in-council will continue to be dealt with in the office of the Canadian Agency, Imperial War Graves Commission, Department of National Defence, the cost being wholly borne by the Canadian Government.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 31 October 2016

"Old Contemptibles'" Pilgrimage (1938)
Topic: Remembrance

"Old Contemptibles'" Pilgrimage

Silent March to Cenotaph in London

The Glasgow Herald, 5 September 1938

Fifteen hundred members of the Old Contemptibles Association from all parts of Britain took part yesterday in the Association's annual pilgrimage to the Cenotaph, Whitehall, London.

The parade assembled on the Horse Guards Parade, where the men were inspected by General Sir Felix Ready (president of the Association). A memorial service was conducted by the Rev. H.M. Webb Peploe and an address given by the Rev. J. Cawley (late of the Manchester Regiment).

With the band of the Scots Guards and the drum and fife band of the 2nd Grenadier Guards at their head, but not playing, the parade marched in silence to the Cenotaph, where General Ready laid a wreath of red, white, and blue flowers.

Included in the parade were six holders of the Victoria Cross and three limbless men in wheeled chairs. The parade afterwards marched back to the Horse Guards Parade, where General Ready took the salute.

elipsis graphic

YouTube – "The Old Contemptibles" (1931)

YouTube – "Old Contemptibles" March To Cenotaph

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 24 October 2016

Will Mark Graves of Canadian Heroes (1920)
Topic: Remembrance

Will Mark Graves of Canadian Heroes (1920)

Berkeley Daily Gazette, Berkeley, California, 6 December 1920

Private William Lawrence King returned from the front and died in Winnipeg. He is buried in the Winnipeg (Brookside) Cemetery and is commemorated with a Commonwealth War Graves Commission stone.

Ottawa, Ont., December 6,—Six thousand soldiers' graves, located in 1200 cemeteries scattered throughout Canada, are to be marked with suitable headstones and given perpetual care by the Imperial War Graves Commission. These are the graves of members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force and the Royal Air Force who died in Canada on the way to or from the front.


elipsis graphic

Note: These graves would also include those soldiers who were repatriated from overseas sick or wounded, and who died in Canada before 31 August, 1921. That date was the cut-off used by the Imperial War Graves Commission for official recognition of war dead. Canada would extend that date a number of times for the provision of soldier's gravestones at the expense of the Canadian Government for those who died later of causes related to their wartime service.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 23 October 2016

Memorial at Vimy Finished in Two Years (1928)
Topic: Remembrance

Expect Memorial at Vimy Finished in Two Years (1928)

Premier Suggests Plaster Casts of Carvings from Tunnels for Museums in Canada

Ottawa Citizen, 23 October, 1928

Encouraging reports of the progress made on the Canadian National War Memorial on Vimy Ridge continue to be received by the Dominion authorities here, and its is confidently expected that the whole massive monument will be completed within the next two years. It was visited by the prime minister, Rt. Hon. W.L. Mackenzie King, a few weeks ago. The premier also made a trip through that part of the old front line which is still being preserved on the ridge and inspected the subterranean passages in the vicinity of La Folie farm where Canadian soldiers left carvings on the chalk walls of the tunnels. Mr. Mackenzie King expressed his satisfaction with the work being done and also suggested that he would as parliament at the next session to vote a small sum in order to have plaster casts of the carvings made and deposited in the museums of the country.

A polite exhortation to visitors not to defile these Canadian relics is contained in a notice on the entrance of the tunnel, which reads:

"These walls bear the names of the soldiers who lived here. Kindly omit yours."

At present the base of the memorial, about 200 feet square and 20 feet high, is finished, but several tremendous tasks confront the builders. Huge slabs of stone, some weighing ten tons, have to be hoisted in place at the extremities of the base and out of these will be carved the symbolic figures. This stone comes from Jugo-Slavia and its shipment and handling are matters of great delicacy. Following this the pilons which rise from the base, surmounting the whole thing, will have to be built up and the sculpture work on those groups at the top proceeded with.

The monument, which stands within a park of 25 acres, the gift of the government of France to Canada, is one of the six which the Canadian people are erecting at various parts of the front. The others are now finished. There are two in Belgium and five in France.

In Belgium are the memorials at:

  • St. Julien, to commemorate the Second battle of Ypres, April 22nd-25th, 1915, and
  • Passchendaele, October and November, 1917.

The French memorials are at:

  • Vimy Ridge, April 9th, 1917;
  • Dury, September 2nd, 1918—Drocourt Queant Line;
  • Courcelette, September 15, 1916—the Somme; and
  • Le Quesnel, August 8th, 1918—Amiens.

All are simple in design and totally devoid of any flamboyant inscriptions, merely recording that at these points the Canadian Corps fought and defeated the enemy.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

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

Colour is Trooped as Vimy Memorial
Topic: Remembrance

Colour is Trooped as Vimy Memorial

Guards Recall Heroic Dead Who Helped Capture Ridge
Ceremony at Armoury
Young Officer Whose Father Died in Battle Receives Standard—Unit is Reviewed

Montreal Gazette, 10 April 1935

Eighteen years ago yesterday an army in khaki, with "Canada" on its war-worn buttons, carved its name in the rock of immortality at a spot in France that will live forever in the history of the ages—Vimy Ridge. Last night, to the beat of drums, the memory of those men who died at the Battle of Vimy was honoured by the Canadian Grenadier Guards in the stately and magnificent ceremony of the Trooping of the Colour.

On April 9, 1917, the 87th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (the Canadian Grenadier Guards) went into action with the Canadian Forces at Vimy Ridge. The death toll of officers and men was terrible. A price beyond recompense was paid on that spot, and to the sacrifice made in 1917 the regiment last night gave homage.

A splash of scarlet across the drill hall, the flash of naked swords and the slow, penetrating beat of the drums saw the battalion perform the intricate measures of that most impressive of all military ceremonies, the Trooping of the Colour.

A tall young officer in scarlet and black "busby" stepped smartly across the floor as the armoury was hushed into silence, clicked his heels in salute and received from the hands of a fellow officer the wreath-topped Colour. He was Lieutenant P.F.L. Sare. Eighteen years ago his father, Major H.F. Sare, died at the Battle of Vimy in the conflict that was being commemorated last night.

The magnificent ceremony was carried through with impressive precision. Long lines of scarlet-tunicked men, with rifles sloped, moved slowly through the measures of the ceremony to the music of the scarlet and gold band. The drums, scrolled with the battle honours of the regiment, beat out sharp, staccato orders. Medals gleamed on the breasts of men who were, last night, remembering friends and comrades of Vimy Ridge. Side by side with them marched youths who had only a vague recollection of 1917.

Stately and impressively the regiment marched past Brigadier W.W.P. Gibsone, C.M.G., D.S.O., O.B.E., officer commanding military district No. 4, who took the salute, and Rene Turek, Consul-General of France, who represented the mother of Vimy Ridge at the ceremony. The battalion was reviewed by Brig. Gibsone, Mr. Turek, and Lieut.-Colonel B.W. Browne, A.A. and Q.M.G.

Lieut. P.F.L. Sare was Ensign of the Colour. The escort was under the command of Lieut. J.G. Stewart. The band, at the close of the ceremony, played the national anthems of the British Empire and France. The regiment was commanded by Lieut.-Colonel F.R. Phalen, D.S.O., M.C., V.D., the officer commanding the Canadian Grenadier Guards.

The gallery of the drill hall was packed with visitors who had come to witness the magnificent ceremony. Never before had the Guards conducted the Trooping of the Colour with such precision as they did last night.

Following the ceremony, regimental cups and medals were presented by Brigadier Gibsone to a number of officers and men.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Private Irving, KIA
Topic: Remembrance

Private Irving, KIA

This story of one "Private Irving" comes from "The Official Story of the Canadian Expeditionary Force," by Sir Max Aitken, M.P., 1916.

Now we come to the story of Private Irving, one of General Turner's subordinate staff, who went out to do as brave a deed as a man might endeavour, but never returned. Irving had been up for forty-eight hours helping to feed the wounded as they were brought into Brigade Headquarters, which had been turned into a temporary dressing station, when he heard that a huge poplar tree had fallen across the road and was holding up the ambulance wagons.

Though utterly weary, he at once offered to go out and cut the tree in pieces and drag it from the path at the tail of an ambulance wagon.

Irving set forth with the ambulance, but, on nearing the place of which he was in search, left it, and went forward on foot along the road, which was being swept by heavy artillery fire and a cross rifle fire. And then, even as, axe in hand, he tramped up this road, with shells bursting all around him and bullets whistling past him, he disappeared as completely as though the night had swallowed him up! General Turner, who appreciated the gallant work Irving had set out to do, himself had all the lists of the field force checked over to see if he had been brought in wounded. But Irving was never traced. He is missing to this day—a strange and brave little mystery of this great war.

Identifying Irving from this brief description seemed like a daunting task, but checks of Ted Wigney's "CEF Roll of Honour," and the Canadian Virtual War Memorial quickly limited the possibilities to one soldier.

Private William Adam Irving died on the 24th of April, 1915. He was a soldier of the 15th Canadian Infantry Battalion.

Born in Little Current, Ontario, Irving's family was living in Sudbury when he attested for overseas service at Valcartier on 18 September, 1914. William Irving was a 21-year-old Deputy Sheriff, with 4 years prior experience in the "97th Rifles, Volunteers," now The Algonquin Regiment.

Confirmation that William Irving was the man in the excerpt above came from his Circumstances of Death record, which can be viewed among the resources on line at the Library and Archives Canada. This document reads:

"Previously reported Missing, now for official purposes presumed to have Died"

"On the night of April 23/24th, 1915, word was received at Brigade Headquarters that a tree had fallen across the road near Fortuin, thereby preventing the ambulances going up for the wounded. Pte. Irving who was nearby volunteered to go and cut the tree. He took an axe, climbed into one of the ambulances, and started for Fortuin. Shortly afterwards the ambulances were hit by shell fire, and the drivers taken prisoners, but no information has since been received concerning Private Irving."

Private William Adam Irving is commemorated on the Menin Gate, Belgium.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 18 October 2015 3:00 PM EDT
Friday, 14 August 2015

Sleep On, Beloved Brother
Topic: Remembrance

Sleep On, Beloved Brother

Captain Rowland Feilding, CO of the 6th Battalion Connaught Rangers, quoted in The Mammoth Book of War Diaries and Letters; Life on the battlefield in the words of the ordinary soldier, 1775-1991, Jon E. Lewis, 1998

Near Ervillers

8 October, 1917

… The section of front line which I hold is, as I have told you, more or less of a graveyard. Many soldiers lie buried in the parapet, and in some cases their feet project into the trench. The positions are marked, where known. We come across others, unmarked, as we dig. On such occasions the men put up little notices, some of which combine with the tragedy of it all a certain amount of pathetic and unintended humour. As you may imagine, the names of the dead are generally undiscoverable. On one board is written: "In loving memory of an unknown British soldier." On another—in this case the man's paybook was found on his body and therefore his name is known—the following words appear in chalk: "Sleep on, Beloved Brother; take thy Gentle Rest." In another case somebody has contented himself by just writing piously in chalk on the sole of a projecting foot: "R.I.P." Over another grave a bas-relief of the Head of Christ has been carved with a jack-knife on a piece of the chalk through which the trench is dug. It is embellished with hair and a fine halo drawn in purple indelible pencil.

If you saw it all you wouldn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

The Royal Canadian Regiment in the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 8 July 2015

The Unknown Warrior
Topic: Remembrance

The Unknown Warrior

Soldier and Sailor Words and Phrases, Edward Fraser and John Gibbons, 1925

THE UNKNOWN WARRIOR: The bringing "home" of the body of an "Unknown Warrior"—soldier, sailor, or airman, whichever it might chance to be—from one of the Fronts and re-interring it in Westminster Abbey as representative of the British Forces in the War was first proposed in 1919, but the idea was rejected by the Cabinet. A year later the Dean and Chapter of the Abbey laid the proposal directly before the King, who desired the Cabinet to reconsider it, expressing his own approval. The Cabinet thereupon took up the idea and arrangements were made. A number of bodies were disinterred at random in various cemeteries on the Western Front, and one taken, again at random. Removed to Boulogne with every honour the French could show, Marshall Foch personally representing the French Army, and escorted by British and French destroyers to Dover, thence, again with every honour, the body was brought to Victoria and to the Cenotaph on November 11th, 1920, the day the permanent Cenotaph was unveiled. Admirals of the Fleet, Field Marshals, and a guard of honour of V.C.'s escorted the coffin, with the Padre's Flag (q.v.) over it for pall. At the Cenotaph the King, as Chief Mourner, representing the Empire, laid a wreath on it. Borne then into the Abbey, and laid in the grave in the nave, the King in the course of the funeral service strewed earth from a Flanders battlefield upon the coffin. The grave was kept open for a week, and over a million people in a queue, it was calculated, filed past it. France, Belgium, Italy and America followed suit, France laying her "Unknown Warrior" beneath the Arc de Triomphe.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 22 June 2015

Capt (A/Major) Joseph Hemelryk, M.C.
Topic: Remembrance

Capt (A/Major) Joseph Hemelryk, M.C.

The Highland Light Infantry

53rd (Welsh) Division

When we think of Canadians at war, we tend to focus on a narrow set of well recognized names; among them Vimy and the Somme, D-Day, and more recently Afghanistan. But in our popular memory of Canada at War, there are so many other places, dates and people—soldiers, sailors and airmen(women) who served around the world— we overlook. Their stories have been easily forgotten because they do not coincide with one of Veterans Affairs Canada selected commemoration dates, or because the unit(s) involved may no longer exist or have a perpetuating active regiment. In many cases, such instances that do get mentioned can be either well-known, because of a family or personal research connection, to a listener or be completely unknown, in part because they have not entered the repetitious stream of media coverage of our country's past conflicts.

One of those lesser known contributions is the CANLOAN, Canadian officers and non-commissioned officers who joined the British Army in North Africa. On 5 January, 1943, it was announced that a detachment of Canadian officers and non-commissioned officers had landed in North Africa. These soldiers, the first of the CANLOAN program, would receive battle experience with the British forces, after which many would return to serve in their parent Canadian regiments, while a few would continue to serve in the British Army. Captain Joseph Hemelryk was one of these.

Hemelryuk was the younger son, out of two boys and five girls, of the children of Lt.Col. George Edward Hemelryk, OBE, JP (1881-1967), and Elizabeth Mary Smith (?-1943), of Dyserth, Flintshire, Wales. Having emigrated to Canada, he would join the Canadian Militia, being commissioned into the Royal Canadian Infantry Corps and serving with the Dufferin and Haldimand Rifles before the Second World War. Joseph Hemelryk shows up twice in newspaper accounts discovered by Google archives searches. In one, published in the Ottawa Citizen on 4 September 1943, we are informed that among thousands of Canadian proceeding overseas, Captain J. Hemelryk of Brantford, Ontario, is "returning to Britain for the second time in this War."

The second newspaper mention is more sombre. Again in the Ottawa Citizen, with a publication date of 10 May, 1945 (two days after V-E Day), the sad news is presented in black and white: "Major Joseph Hemelryk, brother of Mrs. June Iley, Perth," listed as Killed in Action. This notice is listed immediately under a photograph of Lieutenant General Charles Foulkes accepting the German surrender in the Netherlands.

Capt Joseph Hemelryk, at the time of his death, was serving with the 1st Battalion, The Highland Light Infantry in the 71st Infantry Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division, 30 (British) Corps. His death on 14 April 1945 came one month and ten days after the actions for which he was awarded the Military Cross.

As a Canadian, the citation for Hemelryk's Military Cross (Citation card PDF) can be found in the online holdings maintained by the Canadian Armed Forces' Directorate of History and Heritage.

Capt (A/Major) Joseph Hemelryk (Can Loan)
Recommendation for the Immediate Award of the Military Cross.

1st Battalion, The Highland Light Infantry
71st Infantry Brigade
53rd (Welsh) Division
30 Corps

This officer was in command of the right forward company of 1st HLI when the battalion was ordered on the night of March 4th to gain part of a bridgehead astride the main roads in the woods N.E. of ISSUM (1926) in order to cover a bridging operation to allow the armour to advance toward the RHINE. In order to reach this objective he had to advance uphill over open ground swept by MG fire from spandau posts in the forward edge of the wood. In spite of the fact that both flanks of his Company were exposed to heavy and accurate MG fire, the Company on the left having been held up short of the wood, he put in a well organized assault on the enemy positions in the wood and succeeded in breaking through to his objective. Although this position became almost untenable by daylight as a result of an enemy counter attack astride the road on his left, Major HEMELRYK kept his company in good heart by his personal coolness and disregard for his own safety. Throughout the day of 5 Mar from exposed position under continuous mortar and small arms fire he accurately directed artillery and S.A. fire on enemy SP guns, MG posts and a tank which was little more than 200 yards from where he was.

It was largely due to his tenacity in holding such an isolated position, fine leadership and skill in directing fire under most difficult and dangerous conditions, that the bridgehead achieved its purpose and the armour was able to get through.

Joseph Hemelryk makes a case in point for how easily the memory of Canadians soldiers, including those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, can slip from our societal memory. He served in a Canadian Militia regiment that was converted to artillery in 1945 and its name lost in an amalgamation in the 1950s. He served overseas with the British Army and remained in the CANLOAN program, thus no Canadian regiment records his service and sacrifice among their rolls or remembers his service.

Joseph Hemelryk served his new country with as much dedication and commitment as any more popularly recognized soldier. He too, deserves to be remembered, as a Canadian, as a soldier, and as a fallen hero decorated for his actions in the face of the enemy.

Pervias Rectus — Always Alert
(motto of the Dufferin and Haldimand Rifles of Canada)

Montis insignia Calpe — Badge of the Rock of Gibraltar
(motto of the Highland Light Infantry)

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 22 June 2015 12:10 AM EDT
Saturday, 25 April 2015

The Real Trench Spirit
Topic: Remembrance

France, December 1916. Unidentified members of the Australian 5th Division, enjoying a "smoko" near Mametz, on the Somme. Some are wearing slouch hats, steel helmets, sheepskin jackets and woollen gloves, demonstrating both the variety of official battledress, and how it was modified and augmented, for local conditions. (AWM E00019 5th Div 1916)

Those War Books

The Real Trench Spirit

The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 February 1930
(By F.M.C.)

Ian Hay and the author of the article on war books in Wednesday's "Herald" are quite right. The gloom and the horrors of many of those recent war books are overdone; the beastliness too often disfiguring them did not, thank God, degrade active service as the British Army (which included the A.I.F.) saw it; and the depicting of soldiers as beasts (in the words of Ian Hay) is an insult to a gallant generation of our race. Most ex-soldiers, serene at heart in the test they survived, uplifted by the comradeship which they learned in war and cherish still beyond, perhaps, any expression which civilians can understand, regard such travesties of themselves and their fellow soldiers with contempt. "The late unmentionable war," indeed! The ex-soldier of the A.I.F. who does not laugh derisively of it brands himself at once. Not long ago one of the old Diggers, long cut off by some fate from intercourse with his former comrades, met several of them at a Digger's funeral in Sydney. When the emotional ceremony was over, and he found himself returning with two or three in a cab, they made it a long drive back to the Central Station and separation, talking for an hour or more of old war memories. As the lonely one said good-bye, he remarked to the others" "Well it's a ---- of a thing to say, but I have not had such a good day for a long time."

For the last ten years, wherever two or three of "the old mob" are gathered together, the old stories (and by increasingly rare good chance some new ones) have never failed to turn back Diggers' hearts to the war days. You may turn over the pages of the war-time "Aussie," the monthly magazine written by the soldiers in the field (and edited by little Phil Harris), and awaken a host of memories of the Bairnsfatheresque sort. It may be that in other armies soldiers never knew the wit and drollery which redeemed much of the horrors of war for the British soldier; yet if that were so, how did other armies, too, endure four years of such a war?

"Years and Years."

The soldier is grateful still to J.B. Dalley for the sketches of "My Batman" and "The Neuve Eglise Drag Hunt" which he wrote from France for "The Bulletin." Turn over the pages of "Aussie." Here is "The Corporal Story" by H.T.P., of the First Division:

I was a corporal in the A.I.F. for years and years and years,
And I did me bit on the Western Front with the Aussie Pioneers;
And I sometimes think that the roughest job as ever we 'ad in the war,
Was when they sent us up the line to build a camp for Corps.

The unseeing civilian will wonder why the Digger is already grinning. It is a narrative poem worth preserving, rather long for full reproduction here, but these lines reflect its general strain:

My oath, that camp was a roughie—a terrible windy job.
We 'ad casualties every day; I was losin' me bloomin' nob.
Bill and Joe Smith got scabies, and poor old Jock Mackey
'It 'is foot with a 'ammer and got marked down "S.I."

"S.I.," abbreviation, of course, for S.I.W. or self-inflicted wound.

Young Ern stood under a sheet of iron that cracked 'is skull like an egg,
And another chap fell in a borrer-pit and broke 'is bleedin' leg …

And so on, concluding with the quite extraordinary interview with the General, who asks him for advice. Then there is a letter from "sumware in France" after the Armistice from Digger Jim Mulga to his already repatriated brother in Australia:

Dere Steve,

Seein' theres and Armistice on I thort I'd give yer the oil. There ain't no more news as all the stoughin's done in; you will get orl that in the "Bullanganbudgery Herald," as I spose yer still take it. I'm getting' on orlright and still hold me old rank of privit tho' I neely got redooced the other day when I was up for office for workin me nut orf a fatigue party. The boss seems to have me anouted becos I pout the ard word on him for the lend of ten franks when I joyned the unit. … Seein' you've ben over here yer no a bit about q blokes, but we've got a fair cow. I went to him for a peace of soap the other day, and he told me I'd have to bring him back the old peace first. Dinkum. I went to Blighty on leaf a few months ago and looked just it in a bonzer tunick I sooveneered off a salvage dump. I neely did me block on a bonzer tabby I met over there, and was going to put it up to her to get spliced and go to Aussie after the wore. But its orf. I was tellin' her about a hop-over we had, and she sed Yes I suppose them barridges are pritty unpleasant, but you ort to be in an airrade its simply orful. Well I took a tumble that a chap would never get no credit for what he done, and as she coodn't milk I backed out …

How could the civilians at home understand? As "Primus" writes on "Going Home"—

"They wait for us. God, how well their letters have been camouflaged. But now and then just a wee small voice had cried out from between the lines, and we knew it all. We have never had the battles, the hardships, the mud, the ever-present comrades to keep our minds busy in France. They were lonely and could only read the papers, and our poor epistles, and their hearts were brought here, too. Yes, Digger, it's been a long, hard fight … but now we're going Home."

Leave and "Nut-Working."

Sergeant-majors, "quarter blokes," the M.O., and the pay clerk—the stories of them are legion. "Lance Jack's" description of a rifle—"A combination of steel and wood, with a hole bored through the centre for officers to look down to see if the soldier's thumb-nail is clean." Butler-Gye's story of "How Curley worked his ticket," by pretending to be off his head; he was discharged to Australia, and within a month of getting his freedom there he re-enlisted and returned to France with reinforcements to his old "Divvy." The divisional concert companies organised in the field became famous. The King commanded one of them to "do their stuff" in front of him at Buckingham Palace. One of the hits of the 2nd Division troupe, "The Sentimental Blokes," was the "aeroplane trip around the world for thirty bob." Among the passengers was an aged, long-bearded Digger. He explains that he wants to go back to his father's prickly pear farm in Australia. "You're a very old man," says the conductor as he hands him a ticket, "Ah. Yes," says the ancient Digger in quaking voice; "I'm very old now. In fact, I;'m due for my first leave. I'm No. 9—I've been through everything." Or again, the kind old lady visiting the Digger in hospital: "Do you ever get leave?" "Yes, ma'am, once a war—at the end of the war." Does any gunner still remember the classic "revised gun drill?" So, too, at every reunion still may be heard the hymn-tune choruses first composed to the tramp of route-marching feet, when the padres diligently tried to encourage the troops to forget monotony in song. The genius who composed "We are the rag-time army" to the tune of "The Church's one foundation" has secured immortality.

In one issue of "Aussie," Driver Baldwin composed his lyric to his "donks:"

I've scratch'd me 'ead an' bit me nails an' kept me brains a-rackin',
Athinkin' of another game to beat the one called packin'
It sorter gets yer thinkin' when the night's as dark as pitch,
And yer donks get mad and stubborn, and yer packs they want a 'itch.
They maybe "snap" goes some blame strap, and yer wondrin'if it'll holt,
And while yer tries to fix things up yer orf-donk does a bolt
An' Fritz don't stop his bloody fire to let yer fix things well.
And tho' yer cold—yes, freezin'—'e shoots as 'ard as 'ell.
Yer swear an' fix the flamin' strap inter a travellin' state,
Then kicks you donk an' in the dark yer grops round for 'is mate;
Yer find 'im freezin' meek an' calm with 'is front leg through the rein,
Yer cuss at him and fix 'im too, then orf you go again.
But it ain't no use yer grumblin', it don't make things no better,
Just 'ump yer kit and do yer bit accordin' to the letter.
Yer wants to know 'oo gives these tips—till now 'e's a survivor.
'E knows a bit about the donks—'e ought to; 'e's their driver.

These are only some samples of the current history of the Australian soldiers in the line in France, as recorded by themselves for relief of individual feelings, a relaxation from the demands of military discipline, and the amusement of their cobbers. The men who accomplish such efforts were neither demoralised or degraded by the horrors od war; rather they uplifted themselves above such a fate by virtue of their combined high hearts and courage. It is a great loss of Australia that she never saw her wonderful war army in being.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Canada's War Dead To Rest Forever
Topic: Remembrance

Holten Canadian War Cemetery

Canada's War Dead To Rest Forever On or Near Fields Where They Fell

The Evening Citizen, Ottawa; 4 October 1945

"To give effect to even a moderate demand for repatriation would be a task of greater magnitude than in 1918; for though the numbers involved are happily fewer, the graves are far more widely scattered and shipping facilities are almost non-existent.

"On the other hand private repatriation by a few individuals who could afford the cost would be contrary to the equality of treatment which is the underlying principle of the commission's work and has appealed so strongly to the deepest sentiments of our peoples."

The Canadian dead of the Second World War will lie forever on or near the battlefields that brought them death.

Speaking for the Imperial War Graves Commission, the Department of External Affairs announced early today that no bodies would be brought home from Europe for the same reason that those of their fathers were not brought home after the war and the battles that took their lives.

The announcement, issued simultaneously in Britain and the dominions, said the decision had been made by the governments of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Newfoundland and India.

To explain its position, the War Graves Commission, accredited agent of all British Commonwealth governments, reiterated the policy laid down in 1918 which, as now, was issued in answer to requests from relatives wishing to bring their sons or brothers of fathers back to the soil of Canada.

Of Greater Magnitude

Said the commission:

"To give effect to even a moderate demand for repatriation would be a task of greater magnitude than in 1918; for though the numbers involved are happily fewer, the graves are far more widely scattered and shipping facilities are almost non-existent.

"On the other hand private repatriation by a few individuals who could afford the cost would be contrary to the equality of treatment which is the underlying principle of the commission's work and has appealed so strongly to the deepest sentiments of our peoples."

Therefore, repatriation would neither be undertaken nor allowed.

In the statement there was final information for relatives that their dead would sleep eternally in the earth of Sicily or Italy or France of The Netherlands. From the simple graves with the simple crosses that marked each battleground, they eventually all will be gathered into the major cemeteries that will make parts of Europe Canadian forever.

Already France has provided in perpetuity the land required for British cemeteries and by like generosities or by treaties the same will pertain in other countries where men of the Empire fell.

Gathered In

Already some of those cemeteries have gathered in Canadian dead, the first of them overlooking battlegrounds of Sicily. Another, south of Ortona, holds the dead of the Moro Valley and of other battles in Italy.

Possibly some day, somewhere in Europe, Canada will erect a single memorial to rank with that of Vimy in its excellence and in its meaning. Or possibly by some method she will add to the unscathed shaft on that immortal battleground of the First World War some mark or token that will bring it motherhood of the memory of the Second Great War.

But is anyone has thought those thoughts of decided those things they have not spoken.

Defence headquarters announced more than a year ago that all necessary steps had been taken to ensure that the land containing Canadian graves overseas would be held in perpetuity. They will remain permanent possessions of the Dominion.

Their "custodian in perpetuity" is the Imperial War Graves Commission, formed during the First Great War to operate under special powers conferred by royal charter. Its headquarters are in London and the Canadian member is Rt. Hon. Vincent Massey, high commissioner for Canada.

As a temporary measure during the war, many of the graves remained in their simplicity near the battlegrounds, the spots marked by wooden crosses with the names, the numbers and the regiments painted in black against the white of the wood.

Now the commission assumes the job of moving the bodies to the major cemeteries and erecting a standard headstone above them. Ample space is provided on the stones for a personal inscription and the engraving of a religious emblem if the next-of-kin desires. Next-of-kin will be written for such particulars.

In March, 1945, Maj.-Gen. J.H. Roberts, Canadian commander at Dieppe, was appointed chief administrative officer, central European district, with the War Graves commission.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Where the War-Dead Rest
Topic: Remembrance

Holten Canadian War Cemetery

Where the War-Dead Rest

The Beauty of the War Graves Commission Cemeteries

The Evening Citizen; Ottawa, Ont.; 6 November 1948

The well-kept beauty of the Canadian military cemeteries in Northwest Europe is a tribute not only to the care and skill of the Imperial War Graves Commission, but to the people of the surrounding areas. Writing in The Legionary, organ of the Canadian Legion, Major Colin McDougall, Canadian army photographer who visited Europe last summer, describes what he saw.

At Holten in eastern Holland, where lie men killed in the last stages of fighting in Holland and Germany, soil conditions were not right for landscaping, and in the past two years the weather has been bad. Yet the seed grass sown has now grown into a lovely lawn. Lying amid rolling country, the setting with its growths of Scots pines and a profusion of purple heather, reminds visitors of parts of Scotland.

The district is used as a holiday resort, and each day during the season hundreds of visitors enter the cemetery to view its 1,300 graves. At the head of each grave flowers bloom, and all around the flowers is the soft grass.

Similar scenes may be viewed at Groesbeek, also in Holland, where the cemetery, situated on a hilltop, overlooks the Rhine and the Hochwald, which Canadians will recall as the scene of particularly bitter fighting in February, 1945, when the drive to smash the northern flank of the Siegfried line was launched; and at Beny-sur-Mer and Bretteville-sur-maize in Normandy. At the former, one can see the English Channel over which the invasion fleet sailed to France, while the cemetery at Brettville is associated with the straight road from Caen to Falaise, scene of one of the bitterest struggles in Canadian Military annals.

The Imperial War Graves Commission plans to replace the crosses that now mark the graves with headstones, each with a Maple Leaf and a cross engraved on it. The Commission, which acts on behalf of, and is financed on a pro rata basis by all the Commonwealth governments, has kept in mind the overall simplicity and uniformity of design which is desired in these burial grounds. The caretakers it engages are veterans who approach their task with a sense of dedication.

Assisting the Commission is the National War Graves Committee, formed by the Dutch people. Through this committee many families and institutions in Holland have adopted allied graves on their soil. They visit the cemeteries regularly, to lay cut flowers on the graves, to pay homage to and pray for the men buried there. Many correspond with Canadian relatives of the dead, and inform them of the care received by the graves of their loved ones. And in Norandy, the people have similarly interested themselves in the Canadian cemeteries.

Besides visiting the cemeteries where rest the dad of the Second World war Major McDougall spent a brief time at Ypres, Belgium. Here at the Menin Gate each night Belgian veterans sound the Last Post in memory of the 50,000 men of the British Empire who perished in the Ypres Salient in the First World War. Damage to the area caused in the last war, is now being repaired. Workmen are restoring the historic Gate to its original perfection. Beside the new Cloth Hall built on the site of the old, some of the ruins have been left standing.

Each of the Canadian cemeteries was visited last summer by General H.D.G. Crerar, war-time commander of the First Canadian Army, while he was a member of as special Canadian mission which attended the coronation of Queen Juliana of The Netherlands.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST

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