Canadian Armed Forces Participation in the 2018 International Four Days Marches Nijmegen
July 10, 2018 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces
A Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) contingent continues an annual tradition of remembering the sacrifice of Canadian soldiers in Europe, participating in the International Four Days Marches Nijmegen. Over the course of four days, from July 17-20, 14 CAF teams, consisting of 11 members each plus special guests, will march approximately 40 km a day for a total of 160 km, through the countryside and towns around the city of Nijmegen, in the Netherlands.
Originally designed by the Dutch infantry as an exercise to increase their long-distance marching and weight-carrying ability, the Four Days Marches have evolved into an international four-day event that challenges the physical and mental endurance of 51 000-plus military and civilian participants from more than 50 countries. The Marches are now the world’s largest walking event.
This year marks the 102nd anniversary of the International Four Days Marches Nijmegen. The CAF has been participating since 1952, making this our 66th year.
In 1944-1945 more than 7 600 Canadians died in the nine-month campaign to liberate the Netherlands and carry the Second World War to its conclusion. Their sacrifice has never been forgotten. Both Canadians and the Dutch still recall those events and celebrate the lasting bonds that were created between our two countries more than a half a century ago.
During the four days of the Marches, CAF members will walk the same terrain where many Canadians fell, presenting an opportunity to remember our fallen from the First World War. The contingent will visit the St-Symphorien Military Cemetery, where the first and last soldiers from the First World War are buried, marching through the streets of the city of Mons in Belgium and ending with a remembrance ceremony at Mons City Hall on Friday, July 13.
On July 14, the contingent will hold their annual Vimy Memorial commemoration in Vimy, France. Prior to the Marches, on July 16, the contingent will hold a memorial service at Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, where 2 338 Canadian soldiers who participated in the campaign to liberate the Netherlands during the Second World War are buried. Dignitaries and other international military contingents will participate at this remembrance ceremony.
By holding these commemorative events, the CAF marks the ultimate sacrifice made by two generations of Canadians in order that we all might continue to live in freedom and security.
The International Four Days Marches Nijmegen consist of four days of marching, through the countryside and crowded streets of towns and villages in the area surrounding the city of Nijmegen. For military participants, each day’s march begins and ends at the same base camp, Heumensoord, which is built each year just south of Nijmegen. The four-day route loops out into the countryside and back again to camp, calling to mind the four leaves of a lucky clover. Each military participant completes that day’s itinerary wearing standard combat clothing and carrying a military backpack weighted with 10 kg, in addition to individual provisions (water, snacks, etc.).
The Marches are neither a competition nor a speed test: proper training and good team spirit are required to ensure success. During the months of training necessary to be selected for the Canadian contingent, candidates test their physical and mental stamina by marching a minimum of 500 km as a team, in addition to conducting two consecutive days of 40 km marches. In general, most CAF participants train an average of 700 to 1 000 km in anticipation of the Marches. Moreover, the Marches is primarily a team event, which develops such core military values as leadership, teamwork, and camaraderie. The CAF contingent includes military personnel from across the country with diverse backgrounds, and representing all ranks, trades, and environments, in both Regular and Reserve Force. By working together and supporting one another, they will complete the Marches successfully and in good order.
Teams for 2018
Royal Canadian Navy (2)
MARPAC – Victoria
MARLANT – Halifax
Canadian Army (5)
Lord Strathcona’s Horse – (Royal Canadians) 3 Cdn Div – Edmonton
Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders* – 4 Cdn Div – Cornwall
4th Artillery Regiment (General Support) – 5 Cdn Div – Gagetown
33 Service Battalion* – 4 Cdn Div – Ottawa, North Bay, and Sault Ste Marie
2 Canadian Rangers Patrol Group* – 2 Cdn Div – Québec
Royal Canadian Air Force (3)
3 Wing – Bagotville
4 Wing – Cold Lake
14 Wing – Greenwood
Military Personnel Command (1)
2 Field Ambulance, 4 CF Health Svcs Group, Petawawa
Vice Chief of the Defence Staff – Canadian Forces Support Unit Ottawa (1)
National Capital Region
Judge Advocate General – LEGAL BRANCH
North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD)
* Primary Reserve Units
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Four Days Marches Nijimegen (Netherlands site)
Mons 14-18, The First & the Last, Battlefield Guide (City of Mons site)
Lt Stacie Nelles
Public Affairs Officer
Department of National Defence
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