Today we remembered the Canadians who fought during Canada’s Hundred Days (August 8 to November 11, 1918) – a series of victories by Canadian troops that helped bring WWII to an end. We went to small resting places that are rarely visited: Sun Quarry Cemetery, Upton Wood Cemetery, Dury Crucifix Cemetery, Ontario Cemetery and the Bourlon Wood Cemetery.
It was deeply moving visiting Sun quarry Cemetery, which is off the beaten path near Cambrai, France. We all realised the scope of Canadians that were killed in action – and who must never fade away in memory. It’s important for us as Canadians not to forget these little cemeteries, and to bring back this history to our youth.
During the last several days we’ve met many local people who are dedicated to keeping the memory alive. Phillippe Gorczynsk is one of them. He has made it his lifetime passion to find, unearth and display a tank in a makeshift museum in the village. It’s a task that he has worked on for 20 years. After the tank was destroyed by artillery fire in WWII, it was pushed into a shell hole and used as a shelter by soldiers. Philippe heard the story of a buried tank from an old lady in the village who remembered it. He set about finding and salvaging it.
Photo above: Sun Quarry Cemetary. There are 191 First World War burials here, eight of them unidentified.
Photo above: The British Mark IV Tank which had been buried in the area.
Photo above: Canadian troops taking cover in a ditch alongside the road from Arras to Cambrai, 1918.
Early in 1918 the Allies expected fighting to go on into 1919, maybe even the 1920s. German forces came within 70 km of Paris, but became vulnerable as their supplies began to dwindle.
During the last 100 days the Canadian Corps’ four heavy divisions (100 000 men) defeated forty seven German divisions (one quarter of the German forces on the Western Front). Their successes came at a high cost, 20% of Canadian battle casualties ooccured in those three months.
6,800 were killed, 39,000 wounded.
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