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11/11/2012

Remembering in France and England

Steve Russell - Staff Photographer - @RussellPhotos

After the Olympics my wife and children flew over, we were going to hang out in London and go to France to visit my wife's ancestral hometown, Bayeux. Her family left the town in the 1600's to come to Canada.

It is hard to go to Normandy and not be a part of and see the history. 

And it hard to not be moved by it.

I was surprised, I don't really have a Second World War link to the battles that happened in the region. But I am a proud Canadian and our country's history in the region made me proud.

Both my grandfathers fought during the war. Granddad, a Brit, fought in Burma, Opa was German, he spent his war on the Russian front. Both survived the war but at a cost. My Grandad lost a brother in Dunkirk and Opa lost a large number of brothers and sisters during the war. I think of them a lot.

Normandy

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Juno Beach, the house still stands where Canadians landed in Bernieres-sur-Mer.

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The house is site to many memorials.

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You never know where you will find the war, the on of the barns at the Manoir where we stayed had a Howitzer.

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The other barn had a few more weapons.

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According to the Manoir's owner, this piece was used in the movie Saving Private Ryan.

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Many of the Canadian dead are buried in a cemetary close to the D-Day beaches, the Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery.

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Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery is the burial site of 2044 Canadians.

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Not all the soldiers in the cemetary are identified.

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Vimy Ridge

We weren't expecting to go to Vimy Ridge, it just kind of happened.

I remember my Grandfather, Opa, telling me that his father fought in the first World War trenches. He told me that tale we have all heard, that on Christmas night but sides put down their weapons and met in no-man's land.

Vimy was scary and beautiful, what happened there was scary, the memorial is beautiful.

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On the top of Vimy Ridge, sits the memorial designed by architect Walter Seymour Allward.

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Vimy ridge looks to Belgium on one side and to France on the other.

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Under the name J.W, Willson, someone has left stones from his home's foundation and from his Canadian grave site. The memorial has the names of 11,285 Canadian soldiers who were killed in France on it.

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British school children cover the memorial that sits on the top of the ridge.

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Sheep keep the grass around the memorial clipped. Sheep are ideal to keep the terrain pockmarked with craters and trenches short. 

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Under the trenches run a laberynth of tunnels. The tunnels offered shelter for soldiers and tunnels that dug under enemy lines to mine.

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The Vimy Memorial site also has preserved the trenches.

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Back to England

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The Canada Memorial near Buckingham Palace.

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Though it has signage asking for people to stay off, the slope and the smooth red marble surface is irresistable to children.

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Under the treasury at Whitehall are the Churchill War Rooms, where the British government planned their war.

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The war cabinet room.

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Hitler is drawn on one of the maps in the war rooms.

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The map room.

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Churchill's bedroom in the war rooms.

Previous Remembrance Day Photo Blog.

 

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