International Operation Name: Not applicable
International Operation Dates: Not applicable
Mandating Organization: Government of Canada
Region Name: Europe
Canadian Operation Name: Operation NIJMEGEN
Canadian Operation Dates: 1952/07/15 – Present
Mission Mandate: To participate in the four day fitness marches in the Netherlands
In the autumn of 1904, sergeants of the Dutch 6th Infantry Regiment formed a football (soccer) team. Other soldiers caught the sporting bug, which spread to civilians, and on 3 April 1908 the Dutch Physical Education Association (NbvLO) was formed. In July 1907, Lieutenant C. Viehoff had proposed a series of marches over four days covering 150 kilometres. In 1909, the NbvLO designed 15 such 150 kms courses (now 160 kms) and on 1 September 1909 the first 306 soldiers and 10 civilians set out. In 1910, the Association designed only one course, from Arnhem through Doesburg and Zutphen to Apeldoorn. In 1925, Nijmegen became the official start point for the four-day marches.
In 1928, Amsterdam hosted the Olympic Games. The march organizer, Jonkheer W. Schorer invited delegations from France, Germany, Norway and the United Kingdom to participate. The march gained in popularity through the 1930s, with increasing number of persons and international contingents. After the Second World War, a fund-raising drive and the efforts of volunteers allowed Nijmegen to again host a march in 1946. Starting with 4,011 people in 1946, the march now regularly draws over 35,000 people, but has been capped at 47,000.
Canadian participation in the Nijmegen marches has been given the name Operation NIJMEGEN. The Canadian Forces have been marching since 1952 when members of the 27th Infantry Brigade in Germany participated. The CF now regularly sends a contingent of 200 men and women. During the march the Canadian military participants stop at the Groesbeek Commonwealth War Cemetery, where they stage a ceremony to pay respect to the 2,331 soldiers and airmen who are interred there.
The DCDS/CFSU Team parades through downtown Nijmegen amidst a festival atmosphere with crowds lining the streets cheering and applauding the thousands of marchers in the 84th annual Nijmegen March.
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