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Intro

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 8

June 8th was one of just three days in uniform, but like "D-Day" was both long and emotionally rewarding. The Calgary Highlanders consider two of its 42 Battle Honours to be emblematic of all of them, and commemorate them on an annual basis. The first of those is St. Julien, granted for the counter-attack at Kitcheners' Wood on 22 April 1915, and therefore the chance to visit the actual ground on which the attack took place was meaningful for all ranks. Kitcheners' Wood is looked on with special pride by the Regiment; it marked the 10th Battalion's indoctrination into battle, and was considered a crucial enough engagement to garner the attention of Marshal Foch after the war who described it as the "most gallant act of the war." The Canadian government recognized the battle in a way in which it has not done before or since - it created a special insignia to those who fought there, still worn by the Regiment to this day.

The attack on Vimy Ridge, almost two years to the day later, has become to the Canadian nation what St. Julien is to The Calgary Highlanders - a source of pride and an example of outstanding military achievement. The Monument at Vimy, on land permanently ceded by the people of France to Canada, is an expression of the importance placed on the battle in the collective national consciousness. Vimy was the first, and only, time the entire Canadian Corps attacked as a complete entity. After the appalling losses of the Somme the year before, and in stark contrast to the 16,000 casualties that would be suffered at Passchendaele a few months later, Vimy stands out as an impressive victory, and one that has entered Canadian mythology as the beginning of our nationhood.

Following a brief remembrance service and photo opportunities at the monument, as well as guided tours of the tunnels and trenches at Vimy, the tour paused at the St. Julien Monument for an official photo with the Brooding Soldier.

In the evening, still in uniform, the unit was honoured by participating in the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate.


Cabaret Rouge Cemetery and the French countryside with
the Chapel of Notre Dame de Lorette in the distance.

Photo by Nancy Desilets

On the way to Vimy, a brief stop at Nouex-les-Mines Communal Cemetery was made. Tucked in behind the French civilian plots is a well-tended Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery, and in amidst many fallen comrades, distinguished only by the "cross pattée" on his headstone, is Private Harry Brown, VC. Brown was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 16 August 1917 while acting as a runner during the Battle of Hill 70. He died of wounds incurred in the completion of his assigned duties.
Photo by Michael Dorosh

Brown was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 16 August 1917 while acting as a runner during the Battle of Hill 70. He died of wounds incurred in the completion of his assigned duties. A miniature camp flag was left to decorate his grave before departing.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

The contrast with the French military cemetery was marked; Commonwealth War Cemeteries are extremely well tended. The French plots adjacent to the Commonwealth plots were falling into disrepair, with cracked concrete headstones, unwatered grass, gravel ground cover, and plain metal markers. France suffered 1,397,800 military deaths during the First World War.
Photo by Michael Dorosh

Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery. Sergeant Klein, Honorary Colonel Mannix and Honorary Colonel Gibson pay their respects.
Photo by Michael Dorosh

Some wearing medals from more recent battles in Afghanistan, Calgary Highlanders junior ranks prepare to tour the tunnels on Vimy Ridge.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

Sections of trench have been preserved in concrete for all time; this trench mortar position is one of several preserved fortifications on what was once known as Hill 145.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

The Pipes and Drums lead off as the regimental delegation marches up to the Monument.
Photo by Nancy Desilets
Forming up for a short service of remembrance.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

Lone piper plays from between the twin columns representing France and Canada.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

A short service at the St. Julien Monument, with Pipe Major Mike Giles playing the lament.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

Regimental portrait of serving soldiers in front of the Brooding Soldier, a monument to the Battle of St. Julien. The design had originally been one of the candidates for the Vimy Memorial.
Photo by Michael Dorosh

Drum line in front of the Cloth Hall in Ypres.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

Pipes & Drums and highland dancers perform outside the Cloth Hall.
Photo by Michael Dorosh

The regimental contingent marches from the Cloth Hall to the Menin Gate.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

A time for sombre reflection; Colonel Sam Blakely, Colonel Fred Mannix, Major General Brian Vernon, Colonel Bob Gibson and Lieutenant Colonel Tom Manley during the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate. The ceremony has been a nightly tradition since July 1928; each evening, buglers from the local fire brigade sound Last Post in tribute to the fallen who gave their lives in the First World War. On this evening, The Calgary Highlanders were permitted to add a short ceremony of remembrance, including a wreath laying and the playing of Highland Cathedral by the Regimental Pipes and Drums, to the ceremony.
Photo by Nancy Desilets

Regimental Sergeant Major Emmett Kelly and Pipe Major Mike Giles take post under the direction of the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Mike Vernon. On the walls of the Menin Gate are inscribed the names of 54,896 Commonwealth soldiers who went missing from the start of the First World War to 15 August 1917. Among them are the names of 251 soldiers of the 10th Battalion.
Photo by Nancy Desilets


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