Canadian Armed Forces teams depart for the 102nd annual International Four Days Marches Nijmegen
July 10, 2018 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces
Lieutenant-General Charles Lamarre, Commander Military Personnel Command, today wished a contingent of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members safe travels as they participated in the Nijmegen Departure Parade. More than 200 soldiers are travelling to the Netherlands for the 102nd annual International Four Days Marches Nijmegen, held July 17-20.
For a second year, Colonel Geoff Abthorpe, Commander 38 Canadian Brigade Group, headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba, will lead the CAF contingent. This year’s event commemorates the 66th year of CAF participation in the Four Days Marches since the CAF attended for the first time in 1952.
Originally designed by the Dutch infantry as an exercise to increase their long-distance marching and weight-carrying ability, the 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.
CAF participation in the Marches highlights Canada’s historic and unique connection to the Netherlands. Canada has had a special relationship with the Netherlands since the Canadian military took part in the effort to liberate the Netherlands during the Second World War.
“For 66 years, the Canadian Armed Forces have participated in the International Four Days Marches Nijmegen, honouring the Canadian troops who sacrificed their lives during the First World War and Second World War, for the freedom and security of Europe and consequently, of the world. This year’s team continues this tradition with pride and a great feeling of honour in commemorating our veterans.”
Lieutenant-General Charles Lamarre, Commander Military Personnel Command
“This year it is an honour to be commanding Joint Task Force Nijmegen for a second time and to have the opportunity to lead such a diverse and strong team, in the footsteps of our predecessors, who paved the way to freedom and peace in the last century.”
Colonel Geoff Abthorpe, Commander Joint Task Force Nijmegen
The CAF contingent is made up of 14 teams from across Canada, with 11 marchers each, plus special guests and support staff.
The military personnel participating are from the Army, Navy, and Air Force, representing all ranks and trades, Regular and Reserve Force, male and female, and of diverse backgrounds.
The CAF contingent will march 160 km through the Dutch countryside and crowded streets of towns in the area surrounding the city of Nijmegen. They will often walk the same terrain where Canadians fought and died during the Second World War.
While overseas, the CAF contingent will commemorate Canada’s First World War legacy in Europe, in particular, the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. After visiting the St-Symphorien Military Cemetery, where the first and last soldiers from the First World War are buried, the contingent will march through the streets of the city of Mons in Belgium, ending with a Remembrance Ceremony at Mons City Hall on Friday, July 13. The following day, on July 14, the contingent will hold the annual Vimy Memorial commemoration at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in Vimy, France.
The contingent will hold a memorial service at Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, on July 16, one day prior to the Marches. There, 2,338 Canadian soldiers who participated in the campaign to liberate the Netherlands during the Second World War are buried.
Lt Stacie Nelles
Public Affairs Officer
Department of National Defence
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