We are often told that peace is earned by the power of the pen, but travel to most graveyards and you will see that peace was won from the end of a gun, after the pen ran out of ink. A recent quote I love is that heroes don't wear spandex or capes... they were dog tags. And the fields of poppies remind us of this. The only problem is that they are not in bloom all year round!
Shown here is this year's Remembrance poster which featured the massive pylons that represent both Canada and France. At their base are the inscribed names of over 11,200 Canadians who died in France, and to whom there are no known graves. (Over 3,500 Canadians were killed and another 7,000 wounded at Vimy, while over 4,000 Germans were taken as POW's.)
To the rear and towering over the massive pillars is the symbol of Canada Bereft, a mother deeply pained and troubled at seeing the many graves below.
The image has the memorial base siting on the very battlefield where Canadians from a Vancouver regiment are shown, in an actual photograph of the battle, as they charged through the barbed wire entanglements across heavily defended no man's land.
Back in Canada this week if you live in one of the provincial or territorial capital cities, you will see another reminder of of heroes past. Living elsewhere, it is hoped that the press will bring you the following story as well.
Last year the Federal Department of Canadian Heritage gave a grant of about $500,000 to the University of New Brunswick's Gregg Center for the Study of War and Society.
The grant was to bring further pubic awareness to the stories of Canadian Victoria Cross recipients from the two Great Wars..
How appropriate the funds went to the Gregg Center..named after WWl VC recipient Milton Gregg, a hero that served in both wars, earned a VC in France in 1918, also was awarded the MC and became an officer of the Order of Canada. Among his many careers, his soldiering started out as a private and ended as a Brig, General.
The Gregg program consists of an educational side, available on the net, and a 13 banner program. In the later, consultation with the military, the War Museum, universities across Canada and others, took place to select from almost 100 names, (I have more) a select group of 10 VC men to be featured, one per province.
Since no recipients came from the territories, each was consulted and agreed to use two generic Remembrance banners and a third containing the slogan... WE Will Remember." Each province would get 3 or 4 sets of all 13 banners to display in their capitals, all at once, or as they see fit through-out the year.
The remaining recipients are David Currie, WWll, Saskatchewan, Billy Barker, WWll, Manitoba, Ellis Sifton, WWl, Ontario, Paul Triquet, WWll, Quebec, Herman Good, WWl, New Brunswick, John Kerr, WWl, Nova Scotia, Frederick Peters, WWll, Prince Edward Island, and Thomas Ricketts, WWl, Newfoundland.
I encourage you to have a look at the wonderful site produced for this program at... www.canadavc.ca
And he also had large wheat fields in what was once called Upper Canada. And on 11 November back in 1813 the Yanks decided they would plow through there enroute from Cornwall to a place named Montreal. But John and friends decided the Yanks should be sent back home. And so they were..from his very property.
His last name was Crysler, and it would become famous as Crysler's Farm. (Shown above with the Americans attempting to push forward to the west, across the farm and onwards to Montreal.)
It was at the Battle of the Somme in WWl that Richardson found himself and comrades under heavy fire and held into trenches with many casualties including his own unit company commander. While he had rescued many a wounded soldier by hauling them into the trenches, he would drop his pipes to bring in yet another, was successful but then had to go back and get his pipes. While trying to retrieve them he was shot dead.
The pipes, shown above, were lost for years but finally found and brought back to Canada and became part of a permanent collection of archives at the provincial legislature. Last month, they were placed on display during a celebration in Chilliwack.
What local stories did not tell you was that, at the same time this posthumous recipient of the Victoria Cross was also being honoured back in his home town in Scotland.
So above you see The Royal Canadian Regiment's Lt Colonel Simon Rushen unveiling a stone in honour of Richardson on 7 October 2016. He is the Canadian Defense Chief of Staff either there or back in London. The ceremony took place outside the town hall at Bellshill, North Lanarkshire Scotland. The picture at the right includes an image of Dan Richardson a great grand nephew of the hero.
Just a week later, on the 14th, another Canadian VC man was honoured back at Manchester England.
Graham T. Lyall was once a sailor in England. But an ear infection saw his release and a move to Ontario. But he's soon cross the waters again, this time in an army uniform during WWl. By war's end he would have personally captured 115 prisoners, 1 field gun, and 21 machine guns. He would earn a VC in France and serve in both world wars reaching the rank of Lt. Colonel.
From the above you can see that he would be awarded the Victoria Cross, the Distinguished Conduct Medal, the Military Medal, British War and Victory Medals.
Just a few weeks back, on 26 October the townsfolk back in England made a call for the government to recognize him with a blue Plaque in his home town of St Leonards. Blue plaques are historic markers dating back to the 1860's and highlight people and placed worthy of historic remembrance. His story has been told on this site in the past.
This year marks the 10th year since I first discovered the grave of Victoria's naval VC recipient, Commander Rowland Bourke. Back in 2006 I first visited the site at Royal Oak in Victoria. There was a small marker, rather difficult to read, and even more difficult to find, shown above.
For a few years white crosses placed at veterans graves, were not placed at this grave and questions were asked several times. By 2008 on Remembrance Day a cross was placed, and each year since. In 2010 the local Naval Reserve unit... the HMS Mallahat was invited to attend on 11 November to pay respects to the hero. They have attended each year to do a short service ever since. In 2011 local family were found and have attended each year since.
In May of 2013, after the efforts of many groups and individuals, we helped an unveiling of a new much more visible upstanding Canadian Commonwealth Grave Commission's marker identifying the hero as a VC recipient.
Attending that ceremony were the very ambassador to Canada from Belgium, a representative of the British High Commission, our own Veterans Affairs and Minister of Defense (by letter) and also by letter, our own Lt Governor.
Also attending and participating were very high officials of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Commander of all Canadian naval forces on the west Coast, Rear Admiral William Truelove.
I tell you all of this to also note that this same very senior officer a few months back also assisted in the very highly media covered events in Washington DC to honor Joseph Noil a Canadian from Nova Scotia who earned the American Medal of Honor. He is buried just outside DC.
I share all of this for a reason. I am advised that on the 11th the Admiral is expected to be at the DC marker for Noil for another service in his honour. At the same time but about an hour later a ceremony will be talking place at the Bourke grave site at Royal Oak.
Can it get any better?
I think not.
See you next week,