Canadian Army well-represented at the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele
November 9, 2017 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces
Canadian Army members are attending various events in Belgium between November 8 through 12, 2017, highlighting the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele.
The Canadian Army representatives are part of a larger Government of Canada delegation, led by Sherry Romanado, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, and include Major-General Carl Turenne, Deputy Commander Canadian Army, as well as members from Veterans Affairs Canada and approximately 150 Canadian Armed Forces members.
Among the main events scheduled this week in Belgium are a Canada-themed Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres; a ceremony at the John McCrae Memorial in Flanders Fields; a poppy parade on Remembrance Day; and the Poppies Run, that includes a five kilometre stretch dedicated to Alex Decoteau, an Indigenous member who fought and died at the Battle of Passchendaele.
The Battle of Passchendale, which occurred from late October to mid-November 1917, is considered an impressive victory for Canada, but one that came at a high price with more than 4,000 Canadian soldiers killed, and almost 12,000 wounded. The outcome of the battle, won despite almost impossible odds, cemented Canada’s reputation as an elite offensive fighting force, with nine Canadian soldiers earning the Victoria Cross.
“I am proud to represent the Canadian Army in Belgium at the 100th anniversary of this key battle of our Canadian military history. The strength and bravery shown by our Canadian soldiers in the Battle of Passchendaele a century ago were exemplary. These traits remain present in our troops today who continue to serve their country with honour and distinction across the world.”
– Major-General Carl Turenne, Deputy Commander Canadian Army
The Battle of Passchendale, led by Lieutenant-General Arthur Currie, occurred from late October to mid-November 1917. In the fall of 1917, the Canadian Corps—after its great success at Vimy Ridge that April—was sent north to Belgium to relieve the battered Australian and New Zealand forces. Lieutenant-General Currie initially objected to the conditions but was overruled by his superiors.
Nine Canadians earned the Victoria Cross in Passchendaele: Private Tommy Holmes, Captain Christopher O’Kelly, Sergeant George Mullin, Major George Pearkes, Private James Peter Robertson, Corporal Colin Barron, Private Cecil Kinross, Lieutenant Hugh McKenzie and Lieutenant Robert Shankland. Two of them, McKenzie and Robertson, lost their lives in the battle.
The 60-person guard participating in events in Belgium for the 100th anniversary, from November 8 to 12 is comprised of the 58 units that fought during the battle a century ago. Members were chosen based on their unit’s connection to the battle and personal merit.
The Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate has taken place every single night at 8 p.m. (CET) in Ypres, Belgium, since 1928, with the exception of four years during the German occupation of Ypres when the ceremony was held in the UK.
The Alex Decoteau memorial run is named after Alexander Wuttunee “Alex” Decoteau, a Cree Canadian track and field athlete, police officer and soldier who died on October 30, 1917 during the Second Battle of Passchendaele. He is buried at the Passchendaele New British Cemetery.
In addition to commemorative events in Belgium, the Battle of Passchendaele is being remembered as part of Veterans Week November 5 to 11 in Canada.
- List of Passchendaele 100 events in Belgium with Canadian participation
- 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele – Veterans Affairs Canada
- From the Olympics to Passchendaele: Alexander Decoteau’s exceptional journey
- List of Victoria Cross recipients
- Veterans’ Week 2017: Canadian Army Remembers
Department of National Defence
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