Armistice Day, November 11
Remembrance Day if you prefer. I prefer Armistice Day as a reminder that it is the anniversary of the end of the Great War, the First World War, "the war to end all wars." Sadly, it was the beginning of a century of wars.
This year is the first year Canada celebrates this day without a living veteran of the First World War.
In a way this whole year has been a remembrance occasion for me with my memorable trip to Belgium and Northern France when I visited with Lynne several war memorials and museum including Vimy Ridge, Ypres and the Canadian Polish Museum. I also read the History of the Battle of the Scheldt. (There is an excellent series of five Youtube videos about this battle. It is worth watching beginning here.)
It is a very emotional experience to visit the war memorial at Vimy Ridge and the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres. So many died in the battle of Vimy Ridge and the several battles around Ypres Of them, thousands of soldiers remains were never recovered. It was dirty dirty trench warfare, hard to imagine.. . . so many bodies whole or in parts just disappeared into the mud where they landed.
In WWII, after the successful Normady landing where the Canadians came ashore at Juno Beach they were tasked with clearing the Germans out of the coastal cities and towns to the north until they arrived at the Scheldt estuary. This body of water went inland from the North Sea to the city of Antwerp. The Canadians and Poles fought to clear the Schedlt of Germans so that the port of Antwerp could be used as a supply depot for the Allies advance of Germany. It was a very hard fought battle that the Canadians won as they liberated this part of Belgium. The Scheldt was also the route into the Netherlands where Canadian are remember as the liberators of that country
Militarily Canada has had its proudest moment in this part of France and Belgium in the two world wars. The many war cemetaries that dot the countryside stand witness to the lives of countless allied soldiers. In effect all of this countryside is a mass grave.
A field of poppies, symbol of remembrance
(click to enlarge)
A copy of "In Flander's Fields" in John McCrea's handwriting,
enlarged on the wall of the Flander's Field Museum in Ypres, Belgium.
My uncle ,Ross Reid ,was a pilot in the Second World War. He is the handsome lad in this picture second from the left. He survived the war but so many did not. The two pilots on the left and right of this pictured died shortly after it was taken.
I remember my Uncle Ross today. I admired and enjoyed him growing up and as an adult. He married, my Aunt Billie, just before he left for the war, and luckily he returned to live and raise a family.
This is the Canadian War Cemetary at Adegem
, Belgium. Here are buried 848 Canadian soldiers, most of whom died liberating the south bank of the Scheldt Estuary.
We remember! We also must be painfully reminded of the lessons we have not yet learned that find us still sending our youth off to die in foreign lands, none since as noble as the cause of the First and Second World wars.