Blog Prix Vimy Beaverbrook – 23 août 2018

Après deux semaines incroyables, nos étudiants du PVB 2018 ont fait ses adieux et sont partis tôt ce matin. Pour la dernière publication de cet programme nous avons demandé à nos nouveaux ambassadeurs du Prix Vimy Beaverbrook de décrire leur expérience en une seule ligne. (À noter: les participants blogueront dans leur langue préférée).

Alejandra: The BVP program is a perfectly orchestrated journey that allows for deeper and more personal thinking about the First and Second World Wars, for which I am thankful.

Cassandre: Une fabuleuse experience, de formidable rencontres, dinouables souvenirs- mon plus grand merci pour mavoir donné la chance denrichir ma personne.

Kelsey: This program was life-changing- it gave me an understanding of the World Wars on a level I could previously only dream of.

Cassidy: BVP 2018 was a breathtaking, emotional and adventurous experience that I will never forget.

Alix: Un enrichissement à vie, de mémoires d’amitié forgées et des images saisissantes gravées pour toujours, c’est ce que le BVP est pour moi.

Hannah: This program has enlightened me in both mind and spirit- I couldnt forget about this program if I tried.

Rachel: The BVP has inspired and empowered me to share this unforgettable experience with my community, and my perspective on Canadas involvement in both World Wars has been changed forever.

John: This program has introduced to me a new way of studying history, and to teachers and peers who will continue to inspire me in the future.

Isabella: BVP is not a program that has forced mundane dates into the minds of the participants, but has rather challenged one to think critically about past historical events and present-day occurrences.

Anna: The BVP has completely changed the way I view history, it has inspired me to learn and teach, and I cant wait to spread it as far as I can!

Gordon: This program has been truly incredible, from speaking to some of the last remaining Second World War veterans, to retracing the footsteps of the soldiers of the First World War and D-day- I am so grateful that I could be part of such an amazing experience.

Laetitia : Durant ce programme, jai appris énormément dinformations sur les deux guerres mondiales entourée de personnes incroyables: cette expérience restera à jamais graver dans ma mémoire: merci beaucoup !

Caroline: BVP has allowed me to experience history as I never imagined it before, among like-minded peers in an environment where it comes alive.

Brooke: Our classrooms ranged from lecture halls at Oxford, to the fields of Belgium, to the white caves at Vimy, to the rocky beaches at Normandy, and often where we learn, teaches us more than our tour guide.

Ghalia: Today I leave feeling more empowered than ever before and with a network of colleagues that have become lifelong friends.

Stanford: BVP has allowed me to share exceptional experiences with unforgettable people.

Blog Prix Vimy Beaverbrook – 22 août 2018

Le dernier jour du programme, les récipiendaires du PVB 2018 ont passé la journée à l’Université Paris Nanterre. Au matin, ils ont participé à une atelier de bibliothèque et archives et ont discuté la poésie de la guerre. L’après-midi, ils ont assisté à des conférences présentés par candidats de doctorats Gwendal Piegas et Mathieu Panoryia. (À noter: les étudiants blogueront dans leur langue préférée).

Today we went to the Université Paris Nanterre to attend lectures and do some activities around the University. My favourite activity was a poetry analysis that we did in groups. Our group had a poem called “My Boy Jack” by Rudyard Kipling, and we had to analyze it from an emotional point of view. I thought this activity was really interesting because the other part of our group had to analyze it from a historian’s standpoint, and we very different points. I think poetry is very subjective, especially when you aren’t given any information about the poem beforehand. Our groups analysis of the poem was quite different from the actual meaning of the poem. The lines we thought were metaphors were literal, and vise-versa. Although, the way I think of it, the way that one individual person can never be wrong in their own opinion. Poems are different from other literature because it often doesn’t impose a meaning on you, it’s all about interpretation and relating it to your own experiences. This is similar to learning about the World Wars, as a person born in the 21st century, I can never truly understand what experiences people went though. All I can do is try to use empathy to connect it using an experience to help me understand.   

Anna Hoimyr, Gladmar SK

 

The last true day of this amazing program was highlighted by the introduction to other viewpoints to the war, that were not thoroughly discussed during the program. We visited Université Paris Nanterre and participated in a poetry analysis workshop. Two French scholars discussed the Franco-Prussian War and the Battle of Verdun, and the Eastern Front’s main interesting differences to the more studied Western Front. While analyzing different poems I came across a French poem called “Chanson de Craonne” with no known author. Reading poetry in my second language was a new experience for me, but it allowed me to understand an entirely different culture during the First World War on the Western Front; similar to how the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize has allowed to experience different narratives of the World Wars as oppose to the narrative usually taught in class. It was also interesting to see how there were many interpretations of the poem, whether that was because the poet wished to remain anonymous for fear that some of his sentiments may not have been appreciated by his commanding officers, or that the poem was a song that was constantly being altered by the soldiers on the front. Overall, I learned through today’s experiences, that the culture that was present during the First World War, the Interwar Period, and the Second World War are just as important for historians to look at critically as the actual military history of the war.

Isabella MacKay, Ottawa ON

 

I woke up on the last day of the BVP program feeling conflicted. Though I am disappointed to be finishing the most incredible experience of my life, I am thrilled to be heading home to share my new-found knowledge and perspectives. This morning we travelled to the Université Paris Nanterre where we were reunited with Julia. She led us in a workshop where I analyzed the emotional aspects and feelings conveyed by a poem written in 1915 during the battle of Ypres. Reading and listening to the various poems helped me to visualize a different side of war; soldiers wrote about their fears, their loved ones, or just how exhausted they were. This program has shown me the effects the Great War still has one hundred years later. I have visited countless cemeteries over the past two weeks, and yet I still find it difficult to comprehend that each and every headstone I saw represents a once living and loving person. When I sat in the cemeteries, I spoke to the headstones as I would a veteran, asking about their families and thanking them for their service. But whenever I stopped speaking, the leaves of the nearby maples began to rustle vigorously, almost as though the soldiers spirits were attempting to respond. Being part of the BVP has impacted my life in a way I never anticipated, and if knowledge is power, then I have gained the strength of every soldier who found in the First World War.

Rachel Woodruff, Chemainus BC

Blog Prix Vimy Beaverbrook – 20 août 2018

Aujourd’hui, nos récipiendaires du PVB 2018 ont visité le Centre Juno Beach où ils ont tourné le park Juno avec Vincent. En suite, ils ont visité Arromanches, le Mulberry Harbour, et le jardin Canadien au Mémorial de Caen. Pour finir la journée, le groupe a passée le soir au Queen’s Own Rifles de Canada (Maison des canadiens). (À noter: les étudiants blogueront dans leur langue préférée).

Aujourd’hui, nous avons visité plusieurs endroits historiques liés à la Bataille de Normandie. J’ai particulièrement apprécié le tour des bunkers, en plus de notre visite au Centre Juno Beach. Durant le tour des Bunkers, j’ai eu l’opportunité de voir ceux-ci en personne, c’était impressionnant de se trouver où les soldats allemands commandaient et observaient l’ennemi, car je pouvais voir des sites historiques ayant bravés le temps. J’ai également été surprise d’apprendre qu’un des bunkers avait été découvert récemment, il y a environ 8 ans. Apprendre cela m’a fait réfléchir: si les humains découvrent encore, de nos jours, des objets et lieux historiques, allons-nous continuer à en retrouver ? Par la suite, au musée canadien, Centre Juno Beach, le film intitulé Dans leurs pas m’a le plus marqué de l’ensemble des visites présentés dans l’endroit: il affichait des images des Canadiens lors du Jour J et durant la Bataille de Normandie. Pour moi, voir des représentations visuelles des évènements historiques de cet endroit était plus touchant que lire de l’information sur le sujet, puisque je pouvais me mettre momentanément dans la peau des soldats durant la Bataille de Normandie et ainsi imaginer ce qu’il aurait pu vivre à l’époque. Cette journée a donc été remplie de découvertes historiques intrigantes pour moi !

Laetitia Champenois Pison, Montreal QC

 

Today we had a tour at the Juno Beach Centre and our tour guide, Vincent, was amazing. He explained things in ways that were very easy to understand and you could tell he was very passionate about what he was talking about. One thing I learned from him was that the Atlantic Wall is portrayed a lot differently than how it really was. It is usually explained as a long wall going across the coast that absolutely no one could get through. Vincent explained it as a rope with knots in it. The knots were the bunkers on the coast. I think that is a very good way of putting it because the coast was heavily armed and defended but it was not a solid unbreakable wall. It was also an amazing experience to be on the beach and see the geography of it all. It made it much clearer in my mind. I’ve seen pictures hundreds of times but nothing can compare to seeing it in real life. 

Cassidy Choquette, Steinbach MB 

 

Today we visited Juno beach and its educational centre, which was very interesting. The first thing we did was a tour of two German bunkers, the first of which was from 1940 and had many weak points and flaws as at the time of building the threat of an allied invasion was minimal and wasn’t taken too seriously whereas the second was built in 1943 and was far superior due to the growing possibility of the British Invasion. It was interesting to see how the bunkers differed and I learnt a lot about other tactical defences at Juno beach. After the bunkers we went to the centre which was very informative and it was amazing to learn about Canada’s role on D-Day since, being from Scotland we aren’t taught much about other countries’ role in the Wars, so it was eye-opening, not only today, but throughout the whole program, to learn how much they contributed to both World Wars.

Gordon Simpson, Edinburgh Scotland

Blog Prix Vimy Beaverbrook – 19 août 2018

Aujourd’hui, nos récipiendaires du PVB 2018 ont participé à une série de cérémonies commémoratives pour la 76e anniversaire du raid de Dieppe. La première cérémonie a eu lieu au Cimetière Militaire Canadien Dieppe où Rachel et Gordon ont déposé une couronne alors que Alejandra et John on lisent la promesse de ne pas oublier. La deuxième cérémonie a eu lieu au Square du Canada où Stanford et Hannah ont déposé une couronne. L’après-midi, les étudiants ont voyagé à Normandie, ont visité Pegasus Bridge, et ont participé à une cérémonie privée à Abbaye d’Ardenne, le lieu où 20 soldats canadiens ont été exécutés par les membres du 12e SS Division Panzer en juin 1944. Lisez leurs publications en suivant le lien dans notre biographie. (À noter: les participants blogueront dans leur langue préférée).

Today was another amazing day in Dieppe. This morning, we walked to the Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery, where we attended a ceremony marking the 76th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid. It made me so proud to head the Canadian anthem sung at the ceremony, honouring the Canadians who fought and died during the raid 76 years ago today. Another activity that particularly resonated with me occurred immediately after the ceremony. The BVP participants were each given the name and story of a soldier buried in the cemetery, and we were asked to find our soldiers’ respective graves. My soldier was Bertram Howard Renfrew Capnerhurst, who—like me—lived in Toronto. After finding his grave, I read the short sheet of information I was given. Bertram, serving in the Essex Scottish Regiment during the Dieppe Raid, was only eighteen years old (one year older than I am) at the time of his death. He came from a military family, his father having served in the First World War, and a newspaper article also indicated that Bertram was hoping to win a Victoria Cross. Upon being informed that his son was missing in action, Bertram’s father, Major Capnerhurst, stated, “If my son is among the dead, those Jerries will pay dearly for his life. I am going back over there as soon as I can.” As I read about Bertram and his family I imagined the grief of receiving the news of Bertram’s death, as well as the circumstances that would inspire his father to go to war not once, but twice. Although I never knew Bertram, I can’t help but feel a kinship towards him. Like me, he was a Toronto teenager. Unlike me, however, he had extraordinary circumstances thrust upon him. He made the ultimate sacrifice, and for that I am truly grateful.

Caroline Tolton, Toronto ON

 

The courtyard of the Ardenne Abbey is deceptively beautiful, deceptively peaceful. Broad, old trees stand strong, shading the small space from the scorching sun. Bushes of vibrant green leaves coat the ground save for a small path leading up to a larger clearing of grass. It’s a place that I would love to relax in with a good book, had I not known the dark truth of the places past. During the Second World War in June of 1944, this quaint little garden became the site of a terrible atrocity. Twenty men, boys really, taken as Prisoners of War were murdered for no reason at all.

Seeing this picturesque garden and learning about its dark history was heartbreaking. They were so very young, only a few years older than me, and they were braver that I could ever hope to be. When they realized that they were going to die, they did not cower, cry or confess all they knew. They shook each other’s hands and faced death head on. That kind of courage is unimaginable to me. I have never been thrust into a situation dire enough to require it. To die rather than reveal what I knew, I can’t say I would make the same choice. I certainly wouldn’t have faced my death in silence. These men were heros, they possessed a courage that I can’t even fathom. Perhaps it is because of their courage and the courage of men like them, that I am here today.

So, as I stood in that peaceful little garden and a soft wind rustled the leaves, I did what many French and Canadian citizens have done and will do in the future. I remembered them. I bowed my head and whispered a prayer for the fallen.

Kelsey Ross, Burin NL

 

We began today with a ceremony at Dieppe commemorating the raid by the Canadians on 19 August 1942. For me, this was one of the most powerful experiences so far in the program, for several reasons. For one, it is eye-opening to see that local French people still commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of the Canadians who fought at Dieppe 76 years ago. Another striking aspect of the ceremony was the number of nations and organizations involved, all the national anthems being sung, and all the wreaths being placed by their respective representatives. I was honoured by the opportunity to read the Commitment to Remember at the ceremony. Additionally, the veterans present at the ceremony made it more special to me because I soon realized that we will soon lose the opportunity to learn from them and their experiences. Following the ceremony, we travelled to Abbaye D’Ardenne, the site where 20 Canadians were unjustly executed by the Nazis in June 1944, after refusing to turn over strategic information. This was the program’s second key visit today, and it was an intensely emotional one. The biographies and photographs of the 20 Canadian soldiers were prominently displayed, and we held a private ceremony at the small memorial where we each placed a poppy on a wreath. I was in awe, particularly of the immense bravery of the Canadians who stood strong, despite knowing their fate.

John Evans, Victoria BC

Blog Prix Vimy Beaverbrook – 18 août 2018

Aujourd’hui, les récipiendaires du PVB 2018 ont visité le cathédrale d’Amiens. Dans l’après-midi, les étudiants ont voyagé à Dieppe où ils ont rencontré Jean Caillet, résistant français durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. En suite, le groupe a fait un tour de mémoriaux à travers Dieppe, a marché le long de la plage rouge et de la plage blanc et a vu la plage bleu et la plage verte. Au soir, les étudiants ont assisté à une veillée du 76e anniversaire des raids de Dieppe et ont participé à la garde d’honneur au Cimetières des Canadiens – Les Vertus. (À noter: les participants blogueront dans leur langue préférée).

Today we transitioned from studying the First World War to the Second World War by visiting a cemetery with soldiers from both wars. I was excited to meet a member of the French Resistance, Jean Caillet, in Dieppe and felt grateful to have had this opportunity. I found the seminar to be extremely engaging because he was open to all of our questions. As he explained his role in the French Resistance, I was able to understand the implications people faced personally during the war. He spoke about his experiences in a manner that allowed me to understand as much as I possibly could about the emotions and hardships he went through. He also discussed his time as a prisoner in Spain which gave me another perspective of the difficulties faced during the war. I felt significantly more connected with the world wars when I was able to engage with someone who had witnessed and participated in one himself. I’m looking forward to speaking to veterans during Dieppe ceremonies tomorrow and learning about the personal aspect of the war.

Ghalia Aamer, Edmonton AB

 

Pour moi, ce jour a été très important. Nous avons rencontré Jean Caillet, résistant français durant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. J’étais vraiment très honorée, venant de la France c’était vraiment quelque chose de marquant pour moi. Je le remercie, de nous avoir partagé quelques bouts de sa vie. Je le remercie pour sa générosité et son envie de perpétuer sa mémoire et celle de tous les soldats ayant combattu pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Ce fut vraiment un moment magique ! Nous avons pu également participer à la cérémonie commémorative de Dieppe. Cela était vraiment émouvant. Ils ont déposé une rose sur chaque tombe canadienne et allumé plusieurs flambeaux. Cette journée était superbe ! Merci la Fondation Vimy !

Cassandre Onteniente, Bessières FR

 

Visiting Dieppe was an amazing day. I was drawn in as soon as I stepped foot on the rocky beaches of Red Beach. It’s sad to think of the lives lost on that raid, but at the same time I can’t help but feel a sense of pride. Seeing the landscape, hearing the sounds and feeling the burn of my muscles as we explored the terrain truly put the event into perspective for me.

Later today, the ceremony we attended only added to my feeling of pride. Only with it, I felt the spark of respect I feel for the French people grow into a raging inferno. For those people to commemorate the fallen Canadian soldiers yearly only adds to the swelling high I am still experiencing even as I write this blog post.

The history in Dieppe made me truly see how Canadians aided their allies during the Second World War. To annually remember the fallen of a foreign nation for attempting to liberate your community and to allow the erection of multiple monuments shows how thankful this one town is that we tried to do what we thought was right. Dieppe has won a place in my heart and I can only hope to experience this town again after the program concludes.

Hannah Rogers, Kinkora PEI

 

Blog Prix Vimy Beaverbrook – 17 août 2018

Aujourd’hui, nos récipiendaires du PVB 2018 ont visité le nouveau Mémorial Cote 70. En suite, ils ont tourné le musée Mons et visité le cimetière St Symphorien. Dans l’après-midi, le groupe a vu Cambrai et visité Bois de Bourlon. Pour finir la journée, Anna a honoré son soldat au cimetière Villers-Bretonneux sur le centenaire de son décés. (À noter: les participants blogueront dans leur langue maternelle).

Maintenant, ce qui a aujourd’hui attiré mon attention fut le débat que nous avons eu sur un point plutôt flou dans la tête de plusieurs historiens et de gens en général, quand fut la réelle fin de la guerre. Les chaperons nous ont chacun partagé leur opinion en réponse à cette question. Je ne peux pas dire que je m’oppose à ces opinions, chacune on leurs bons arguments, mais j’ai moi-même émis une opinion avec une collègue de BVP. Nous nous sommes dit que la fin de la guerre fut le 1er novembre 1993 lors de la création de l’union européenne. Cette discussion pourrait continuer très longtemps, elle sème de réflexions et de différentes opinions. La raison pour laquelle je crois cela est parce que je pense que l’union européenne a uni les différents pays d’Europe et a mis un terme aux conflits restants entres ces mêmes pays. Malgré le fait que les effets de la guerre se font encore ressentir aujourd’hui, je crois que l’union européenne est vraiment puissante et elle représente bien une réconciliation. Mais où est le Canada dans cette histoire? Et bien, il faisait encore parti de l’empire britannique et lorsqu’il fut indépendant, le fait d’avoir aidé dans les deux guerres a gardé le Canada amis avec l’union européenne doc le Canada a naturellement eu une réconciliation avec l’ennemi également. Pensons-y!

Alix Gravel, Bromont QC

 

Today was a day that was spent mainly on the bus, because we had to make the long trip from Lievin to Amiens. That was okay, though, because i really enjoyed being able to sit and talk with everyone for a while! The whole day we were urged to think about when the First World War ended and we were presented with many points of view. It is super interesting to think about, and a question i couldn’t answer but will think about often. These are questions we are asked every day, and i love the way we are always being challenged. Just before supper, I had the incredible honour of doing a tribute to my soldier, Melville Gordon Ball, at Villers-Bretonneux exactly 100 years after his death. I think this connects to the question of when the War ended because even though both his life and the War are deemed “over”, they live on in the memory of the people and the effects the had on the world are still felt today. It is crazy how much I had a connection I felt, one I didn’t even know I had until I saw his name on his gravestone. There was so much I don’t know about him, and I want to spread his legacy across Saskatchewan. I’m so, amazingly happy to have been able to visit him and hope to visit him again soon.

Anna Hoimyr, Gladmar SK

Blog Prix Vimy Beaverbrook – 16 août 2018

Aujourd’hui, nos récipiendaires du PVB  2018 ont visité le Mémorial national du Canada à Vimy: il s’agit d’une journée importante et émouvant pour nos participants. Le groupe a visité le Centre d’acceuil et d’éducation de Vimy où ils ont tourné les tunnels de Vimy avec Kate d’Anciens Combattants Canada. Dans l’après-midi, ils ont participé à une cérémonie privé à Vimy où Cassidy et Ghalia ont lu la Promesse de se souvenir alors que Gordan, Anna, et Brooke ont deposé une couronne. Pour finir la journée, les étudiants ont visité des sites dont Notre Dame de Lorette, l’Anneau de la mémoire, Cabaret Rouge, Neuville St-Vaast, et Maison Blanche avec le Groupe Durand. (À noter: les participants blogueront dans leur langue préférée).

Seeing the Vimy Memorial was something I had been excited for since being awarded the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize, but nothing prepared me for the actual experience. Driving up to the memorial, I was struck by the solitary white structure standing in the middle of a grassy field, once the site of Canadas bloodiest battle. During our solitary reflection period, I walked the perimeter of the memorial, absorbing the multitude of names inscribed on the walls. Pausing a moment to take everything in, sat on the pure white steps and put a hand to the stone. It was cool against my skin as I searched for a word to describe the emotions I was feeling. I felt sorrow, but also a vague sense of gratitude and contentment. When I stood before the stature of Mother Canada, belting out our national anthem, my heart was full of pride. As our voices blended together, I felt like I was a part of something bigger, just as our soldiers were as they stood on Vimy Ridge. Though a hundred years separate my time and theirs, today I was proud to stand on the ground where they fought, and most of all, proud to be Canadian.  

Rachel Woodruff, Chemainus BC

 

I felt a lot of different emotions today when going to the Vimy Memorial, Maison Blanche and giving my soldier presentation. When we arrived to the Vimy Memorial, we had half an hour of silence. We could walk around and look but we could not talk. During this time, I reflected on what the men whose names were on the wall went through. I couldnt even begin to but I tried my best to empathize with them. Following our visit to the Vimy Memorial, we visited the Vimy Educational Centre where we toured the tunnels. Going through the tunnels was a very educational experience, however the tunnels we visited at Maison Blanche were much more preserved in their original state. Comparing the two sites gave me insight into how historical sites can be manicured for the public. As I mentioned before I did my soldier presentation today. It was a very emotional experience because I felt like my work wasnt done there. I wanted to be able to commemorate my soldier even more but I didnt know how in the moment. I wish I could converse with him but that isnt possible so I was left feeling somewhat empty in a way.

Cassidy Choquette, Steinbach MB

 

Today we visited the Vimy Memorial and the area around it. We started off at the visitor centre, where we learned about some of the geography of the battlefield and the magnitude of the Front and the forces involved. We then toured the preserved trenches and a section of the tunnels underneath them. This gave a sense of the confined spaces that the soldiers worked in, but not of the terrible conditions. We then went to the memorial itself and explored it in silence for thirty minutes. I found that during this time I was able to truly experience something which you could never experience without being there: the feeling of a personal connection to every name carved into that stone as a person who was once just like you or me. We later travelled to Maison Blanche where we were given the privilege of entering the tunnels of an ancient underground chalk mine that was used to house soldiers during the First World War. It contained a multitude of carvings or graffiti which are very significant in the understanding of the thoughts and attitudes of the soldiers who stayed there. The general themes found in the carvings were those of pride in country and fighting unit, and homesickness. I found it to be an especially unique way of gaining insight into the mindset of soldiers in the First World War. Finally, to end the day, we returned to the Vimy Memorial to spend more time with it while there were fewer other people, and to see it lit by spotlights after dark.

John Evans, Victoria BC

Blog Prix Vimy Beaverbrook – 15 août 2018

Aujourd’hui, nos récipiendaires du PVB 2018 ont visité le Mémorial indien Neuve-Chapelle, le Mémorial Courcelette, et le trou de mine Lochnagar. Dans l’après-midi, ils ont tourné Beaumont-Hamel avec notre guide Canadienne Vienna d’Anciens Combattants Canada, visité Thiepval, et participé dans une atelier d’artifacts au Historial de la Grande Guerre. (À noter: les étudiants blogueront dans leur langue préférée).

It’s hard to describe what it feels like to walk in the footsteps of a fallen generation. Today, we visited Beaumont-Hamel, the site of the Battle of the Somme. The site of the battle that killed 800 of Newfoundland’s brothers, sons, and fathers. I had been anticipating this since the start of the program. This was sacred ground, something that every Newfoundlander hopes to see. When we walked through the entrance, I got chills that did not go away until I was back on the bus. As we walked with the tour guide, I couldn’t help but think that a wall that took us minutes to cross, took the soldiers hours. While we were safe, they fought for every last step.

As I explored the battlefield where our men lived and died, I felt something profound that I struggle to explain. As I saw the Caribou monument, I became overwhelmed with emotion and found myself crying. As I placed Newfoundland pins on each memorial, I felt a connection with each name, each headstone. As I walked through the tattered fields, it felt as if the spirits of the first five hundred were walking with me. I felt a connection to the hundreds of men that I never met, the hundreds of men who died to protect me without ever knowing me. I won’t forget them or their sacrifice. Newfoundland will not forget its fallen, not for as long as the waves still batter our rocky shores.

Kelsey Ross, Burin NL

 

Cette journée a été marquée par une atmosphère sombre avec la visite de nombreux sites commémoratifs, le plus impressionnant étant le Mémorial de Thiepval. Le mémorial de Thiepval est un monument qui honore les noms des soldats britanniques et sud-africains disparus lors de la bataille de la Somme. Avec plus de 72 000 noms présentés sur les murs de la porte, il était à la fois émouvant et accablant. J’ai essayé de voir chaque nom comme une vraie personne avec des émotions, des passions et une famille, mais il est impossible de voir des tragédies aussi importantes. Ces derniers jours, lors de nos visites à Essex Farm et d’autres monuments, les pierres tombales ont été un marqueur visuel du sacrifice de masse qui a eu lieu il ya environ 100 ans. Les noms des murs du Mémorial de Thiepval sont souvent oubliés, car leur site commémoratif est une liste de noms facilement consultables, mais ces derniers jours m’ont rappelé les noms des disparus, en tant que personnes, au lieu de juste un autre numéro tragique.

Isabella Mackay, Ottawa ON

 

The day started in Belgium with one of the most beautiful sunrises we’ve experienced so far. After crossing borders into France and visiting several memorials throughout the day we arrived at Thiepval Memorial & CWGC and words fall just short of describing the magnitude of the site.

A humble entrance tricks the mind into believing it’s another memorial and museum, yet a short walk unveils an arch-like edification of monumental measures. Such a grand site makes one wonder, how vast was the extent of the First World War? The endless names that adorn the walls of the memorial touch deep within the heart and suddenly the emotion is too much. But isn’t everything about this war “too much”? Too much loss, too much sacrifice and too much at stake. Lower is the CWGC, a shared grave site with Commonwealth soldier headstones and French soldier headstones. The view encapsules the true spirit of cooperation and the European brethren that fought together for the beliefs and morals they deemed essential for society, the same morals we, as youth, should strive to protect through remembrance of this conflict. Tomorrow Vimy Memorial awaits our visit.

Alejandra Largo Alvarez, London ON

Blog Prix Vimy Beaverbrook – 14 août 2018

Toujours dans la region d’Ypres, le groupe PVB 2018 a tourné le salient d’Ypres en bicyclette avec notre marveilleux guide Carl. Les sites inclues la Porte de Menin, le Mémorial de St. Julien, le cimetière Tyne Cot, le Mémorial de Passchendaele, et le Mémorial du Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. Au suite, ils ont assisté à la cérémonie du « Last Post » à la Porte de Menin, où Isabella, Caroline, et Laetitia ont déposé la couronne pour commémorer les morts.  (À noter: les participants blogueront dans leur langue préférée).

Aujourd’hui, nous avons fait un tour des lieux historiques de Belgique en bicyclette. Nous avons eu l’opportunité de visiter plusieurs cimetières et des monuments commémoratifs, dont un à St-Julien et un autre à Passchendaele. Cette expérience a été, à la fois, éducative et divertissante. Le cimetière de Tyne Cot m’a particulièrement marqué par les découvertes faites durant notre visite à cet endroit-là. J’ai appris que certains soldats avaient été enterrés avant la construction du cimetière parce qu’ils étaient morts sur les lieux et comme l’organisation responsable du cimetière ne voulait pas changer leurs localisations dans celui-ci, leurs pierres tombales sont mises dans un ordre non conforme; hors des rangées classiques présentes dans les cimetières classiques. J’ai ressenti que les soldats étaient respectés à leur juste valeur. J’ai aussi été surprise d’apprendre que certains allemands sont enterrés dans le cimetière Tyne Cot en Belgique, à cause de règles qui empêchent le rapatriement dans ce pays européen. Cette découverte m’a poussée à me demander si d’autres personnes ont fait des tentatives similaires et à vouloir en apprendre davantage sur l’opinion des historiens sur la question de rapatriement. J’ai hâte de faire des recherches pour trouver des réponses à mes questions.

Selon moi, notre journée s’est terminée en beauté : nous avons assisté à la cérémonie quotidienne <<Last Post>> commémorant les soldats morts lors de la Première Guerre mondiale à la porte de Menin. J’ai d’ailleurs eu l’honneur de déposer un bouquet de fleurs avec deux autres récipiendaires : Isabella et Caroline. Pour moi, ce fut un moment unique rempli d’émotions qui restera à jamais graver dans ma mémoire.

Laetitia Champenois-Pison, Montreal QC

 

Today has been my favourite day so far. We went on a bike ride and visited many memorials, including Tyne Cot, the largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery. There are almost 12,000 graves there, 8,300 of which remain unidentified. Round the outside of the plot, there were the names of 35,000 British and New Zealand soldiers, all of whom have no resting place. This was also where I did my soldier tribute. After spending many hours researching my soldier, it was incredible to finally visit his grave. It was also very moving, and to think that I had just told one of the soldier’s story, but there were millions of others just like him who lost their lives to this terrible war. My soldier was brought up in Edinburgh like myself, very near my house in fact, and went to the same local high school as many of my friends. Unlike my friends and I, however, he went to war, and died. His sacrifice, and the sacrifice of all the other soldiers that fought on both sides of the First World War makes them true heroes, and have my utmost respect.

Gordon Simpson, Edinburgh Scotland

 

Today, we witnessed the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate. It was our second visit to the memorial, and yesterday I presented my soldier tribute. It was almost a turning point for me on this trip because the morning of my presentation we had visited many cemeteries and I hadn’t felt the least bit sad. I felt guilty because my fellow BVP peers had tears in their eyes. I thought that maybe someone else would be more empathetic would get more out of it. However, when I was presenting my soldiers project, everything was fine until I started to pack up my papers and walk away. All of a sudden, I felt my lip quivering and tears form in my eyes. I don’t know why I started to tear up, maybe it was because I was saying goodbye to my soldier, or maybe it was that I had spent so much time preparing my presentation for him and now it was over just like that. I realized that I can get so much from this program and I promised myself that I would make the most of this program by not worrying about how I might react differently to monuments, and taking in this experience in my own personal way. To end this day, I would like to share the poem I wrote for my soldier.

I Want You To Know

I want you to know,

That Indian Point still extends into the Bay

Waving goodbye to the boats that sail away

The ocean still creeps along the shore

Until the tide is up and there’s no beach anymore

I want you to know,

That the Algonquin Hotel still stands proud,

A shining gem in our small town

I want you to know,

That amidst the town square where children play and laugh

Stands an arch made from stone that we call cenotaph

John Herbert McMullon, you will never lose your home

Because in the town of Saint Andrews, your name’s written in stone

I want you to know,

You and many others, received an underserving fate

And that’s why I came to honour you, at the Menin Gate

Brooke Reid, St. Andrews NB

Blog Prix Vimy Beaverbrook – 13 août 2018

Aujourd’hui en Belgique, nos récipiendaires du PVB 2018 ont visité le cemetière allemande Langemark et le poste de secours de John McCrae où Gordon et Cassandre ont lu le poem Au champ d’honneur. En suite, les étudiants ont visité le In Flanders Fields Museum situé dans la Halle aux draps d’Ypres. Ils ont gravi les 231 marches de la tour pour admirer les vues magnifiques sur la région d’Ypres. Lisez les publications des étudiants en suivant le lien dans notre biographie. (À noter: les participants blogueront dans leur langue préférée).

The first site that we visited today upon our arrival in Belgium was the German Military Cemetery “Friedhof Langemark.“ As I entered the cemetery proper, I was struck by the number of names carved into the stone walls in every available opening. What I found most interesting about this site was how each headstone had about six names on it, which was out of necessity as the Germans often had to use mass graves.

Essex Farm was the hardest for me. Such a site feels akin to receiving a crushing embrace… with each inhale there is more pain and soon after tears spring to the eyes. The entire site felt so soft, loving and personal that my emotions showed more expression than my words ever could.

Now, both sites were both beautiful and tragic but I feel as though I connected more in Essex because of one grave in particular. There was a boy that served and died in 1916 at the age of 15. This was someone very close in age to me and yet we led drastically different lives. It is boy soldiers like him that really sell the idea of sacrifice to me. For young men to feel the patriotic duty to put their lives on the line makes me thankful to have memorials where I can pay homage to the dead like him.

Hannah Rogers, Kinkora PEI

 

Aujourd’hui j’ai finalement eu la chance de voir les vrais champs de bataille de la Première Guerre Mondiale, en Belgique. C’est une chose de lire sur les batailles, mais c’est une expérience complètement différente de voir les mêmes endroits et reliefs où les soldats ont combattu. Malgré cela, c’est encore très loin des vrais expériences, car nous sommes ici en temps de paix. Nous avons visité Langemark, un cimetière allemand, et Essex Farm, un cimetière commonwealth. Les deux sont en Belgique, ce qui est très symbolique, car cela représente le respet des soldats sacrifiés des deux côtés. Langemark garde la mémoire des soldats allemands morts durant les batailles de Ypres, surnommé le « Studenteschlafe » car la majorité des soldats morts étaient des étudiants. Cela démontre la vraie tragédie de la guerre : environ 40,000 jeunes allemands avec des futurs remplis de promesses. J`ai été frappé, à Langemark, par l`enterrement de deux soldats anglais. Je crois que c’est merveilleux que Langemark montre ce respect pour tous les soldats sacrifiés, peu importe leur nationalité. Une question que j`aimerais partager est s`il serait mieux pour les deux anglais enterrés à Langemark d’être plutôt enterrés à Essex Farm?

Standford Lee, Beaconsfield QC