Operation MEMORIA

International Information

International Operation Name: Operation MEMORIA

International Mission Name: Operation MEMORIA

Mandating Organization: Government of Canada

Region Name: Europe

Location: France

Mission Date: 12 December 1998 - 28 May 2000

Mission Mandate: To create a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial in Ottawa to symbolize the sacrifices of Canadians in the restoration of peace, past, present, and future. It involved the repatriation of the remains of an unknown Canadian soldier from a Canadian Military Cemetery in Europe and the internment of these remains in a granite sarcophagus.

Mission/Operation Notes: The plan for what would become Op Memoria received final approval on 16 December 1998. It involved several Canadian government agencies and departments as well as The Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Government of France. Given the significance of the battle of Vimy Ridge in Canadian military history, it was decided that Canada’s unknown soldier would be selected from there “known only unto God” from the Cabaret-Rouge Military Cemetery close to Vimy. The remains came from Plot 8, Row E, Grave 7.

The ceremonies began on 23 May 2000, with the handover by France of the remains to the government of Canada. Held at the Vimy Memorial in France, a French military bearer party and the Prefect of Pas-de-Calais presented the remains to the Canadian bearer party. From Vimy, the Canadian delegation moved to Lille, France on 25 May 2000. Here, a CC-150 Polaris from 437 Transport Squadron, 8 Wing, CFB Trenton, transported the remains to CFB Uplands at Ottawa International Airport. The remains were moved to Cartier Square Drill Hall in downtown Ottawa and then placed on a 100-year old gun carriage, donated by the RCMP. From there, a procession brought the remains to lie in state for three days in the Hall of Honour in the Centre Block of Parliament Hill. On 28 May 2000, the remains were brought from Centre Block to their new place of rest: the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the base of the National War Memorial on Elgin Street, downtown Ottawa.

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