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Day 1-3 (Paris) Day 4        5       6 (France) Day 7     8      9 (Belgium)    Day 10         11       12 (Nether.)
C.O.'s Intro | Itinerary

June 1-3

Dieppe | Juno | Clair Tison Ypres | Vimy | Low Tempo Walcheren | Arnhem | Groningen

2010 Centennial Battlefield Pilgrimage - Day 6

June 6th was the "Longest Day" for the Calgary Highlanders in many respects, as it included a very ambitious itinerary including three official ceremonies with additional stops of regimental significance and historical interest added in.

The first stop was perhaps the most meaningful of the day, as the Regiment was attending to a long-neglected task: dedicating a monument at the site where one of the Battle Honours was earned. The inhabitants of the tiny village of Clair Tison came out en masse to participate in a service of remembrance at the site of the plaque dedication. Moving poetry from local school children (speaking, to the soldiers who were killed at Clair Tison, about how they were the children the Canadian liberators never lived to have) mixed with short but meaningful speeches. The Highlanders present were moved by the sincerity of the day's events; fresh cinnamon buns and coffee were served immediately afterwards, and as the coaches drove off, local villagers lined the streets to wave goodbye, as if to blood relatives. It had been an enormously moving start to the day's events.

The next item on the agenda was also regimentally significant; Hill 67 was the site of the first combat action of The Calgary Highlanders in the Second World War. A large contingent of dignitaries assembled on the crest of the hill - in fact, the northwest promontory of the famous Verrières Ridge - and the regimental contingent was one group among many recognized that day, the focus of which was the unveiling of a monument to Canadian forces that had fought for the Ridge in the summer of 1944. Before the start of the ceremony, Master Corporal Ben Forrest was awarded the General Campaign Star for his tour of duty in Afghanistan by the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Vernon. Corporal Michael Dorosh was also awarded the bar to his Canadian Forces Decoration recognizing 22 years of service in the CF.

The third ceremony of the day took place at the Juno Beach Centre, where the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery had sent a contingent to dedicate a new monument to Canadian gunners, in the form of a restored 25-pounder gun. A sizeable contingent was assembled at the Centre, as is the case every year on the anniversary of the Invasion of Normandy.

A quieter interlude took place after the Juno Beach service, as the regiment visited Bretteville-sur-Laize Canadian War Cemetery, the cemetery laying claim to having the most Calgary Highlanders interred with 154 burials.

After Bretteville, the buses arrived at the private residence of Michael Sampson, who opened his private collection of battlefield relics to the tour, including, it is believed, part of Michael Wittman's Tiger 007.

The evening was closed out by a sit-down dress dinner in Caen, at which the drum corps of the Pipe Band entertained with a drum salute played on the tabletops and china, and the Highland Dancers had a chance to show off their skills.

Anyone who would criticize the French as ungrateful for the sacrifices of Allied soldiers during the liberation has never been to Clair Tison. Image courtesy Nancy Desilets

The Calgary Highlanders return to Clair Tison, led the Regimental Pipes and Drums.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

Le Regiment de Maisonneuve had previously erected a monument at Clair Tison honouring their dead.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

Dignitaries and veterans from France and Canada were on hand to witness the unveiling of the new monument to The Calgary Highlanders.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

The new monument is unveiled by the Commanding Officer and the Mayor of Clair Tison as the Pipe Sergeant and the Regimental Sergeant Major look on.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

A quick snack was all there was time for before departure to Hill 67.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

At Clair Tison, the regiment was treated like family by the local inhabitants.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

Master Corporal Ben Forrest receives his General Campaign Star atop Hill 67.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

Serving soldiers of The Calgary Highlanders march to the ceremony atop Hill 67.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

Also present on the tour were members of other units in 41 Canadian Brigade Group, who paraded in uniform at dress functions.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

Highlanders in mufti watch the proceedings at Hill 67.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

Helping dedicate the monument at Hill 67; Floyd Rourke DCM receives the appreciation of a crowd grateful for the presence of a Second World War veteran.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

The scene at the Juno Beach Centre on 6 June 2010; the Calgary Highlanders are formed up front and centre; the RCHA with their new gun monument is at the right of the photo.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

Corporal Treena Schneider of 41 CBG decorates the grave of a Calgary Highlander at Bretteville-sur-Laize with a miniature camp flag.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

The barn at Michael Sampson's farm; round object at bottom left is the driver's hatch from a Panzerkampfwagen VI "Tiger" tank, believed to have been Michael Wittman's.
Photo by Michael Dorosh

The longest day came to an end in Caen, with a little dinner music provided by the drum section.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

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