Today, our BVP 2018 recipients visited the Indian Memorial Neuve Chapelle, the Courcelette Memorial and the Lochnagar Crater Memorial. In the afternoon, they toured Beaumont-Hamel with Canadian guide Vienna from Veterans Affairs Canada, visited Thiepval, and participated in an artefact workshop at Historial de la Grande Guerre. (Please note: students will blog in their language of preference).
It’s hard to describe what it feels like to walk in the footsteps of a fallen generation. Today, we visited Beaumont-Hamel, the site of the Battle of the Somme. The site of the battle that killed 800 of Newfoundland’s brothers, sons, and fathers. I had been anticipating this since the start of the program. This was sacred ground, something that every Newfoundlander hopes to see. When we walked through the entrance, I got chills that did not go away until I was back on the bus. As we walked with the tour guide, I couldn’t help but think that a wall that took us minutes to cross, took the soldiers hours. While we were safe, they fought for every last step.
As I explored the battlefield where our men lived and died, I felt something profound that I struggle to explain. As I saw the Caribou monument, I became overwhelmed with emotion and found myself crying. As I placed Newfoundland pins on each memorial, I felt a connection with each name, each headstone. As I walked through the tattered fields, it felt as if the spirits of the first five hundred were walking with me. I felt a connection to the hundreds of men that I never met, the hundreds of men who died to protect me without ever knowing me. I won’t forget them or their sacrifice. Newfoundland will not forget its fallen, not for as long as the waves still batter our rocky shores.
Kelsey Ross, Burin NL
Cette journée a été marquée par une atmosphère sombre avec la visite de nombreux sites commémoratifs, le plus impressionnant étant le Mémorial de Thiepval. Le mémorial de Thiepval est un monument qui honore les noms des soldats britanniques et sud-africains disparus lors de la bataille de la Somme. Avec plus de 72 000 noms présentés sur les murs de la porte, il était à la fois émouvant et accablant. J’ai essayé de voir chaque nom comme une vraie personne avec des émotions, des passions et une famille, mais il est impossible de voir des tragédies aussi importantes. Ces derniers jours, lors de nos visites à Essex Farm et d’autres monuments, les pierres tombales ont été un marqueur visuel du sacrifice de masse qui a eu lieu il ya environ 100 ans. Les noms des murs du Mémorial de Thiepval sont souvent oubliés, car leur site commémoratif est une liste de noms facilement consultables, mais ces derniers jours m’ont rappelé les noms des disparus, en tant que personnes, au lieu de juste un autre numéro tragique.
Isabella Mackay, Ottawa ON
The day started in Belgium with one of the most beautiful sunrises we’ve experienced so far. After crossing borders into France and visiting several memorials throughout the day we arrived at Thiepval Memorial & CWGC and words fall just short of describing the magnitude of the site.
A humble entrance tricks the mind into believing it’s another memorial and museum, yet a short walk unveils an arch-like edification of monumental measures. Such a grand site makes one wonder, how vast was the extent of the First World War? The endless names that adorn the walls of the memorial touch deep within the heart and suddenly the emotion is too much. But isn’t everything about this war “too much”? Too much loss, too much sacrifice and too much at stake. Lower is the CWGC, a shared grave site with Commonwealth soldier headstones and French soldier headstones. The view encapsules the true spirit of cooperation and the European brethren that fought together for the beliefs and morals they deemed essential for society, the same morals we, as youth, should strive to protect through remembrance of this conflict. Tomorrow Vimy Memorial awaits our visit.
Alejandra Largo Alvarez, London ON