Remembrance Day

Dieppe at 75

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe raid by the Canadian army. Very controversial, as to what was achieved, it is none the less, a key point in history.

The Canadians were tasked with storming the Dieppe beach, obtaining information, and getting out. It didn’t go so well, and was considered a disaster by many historians. Others consider this raid as a testing bed for what eventually became D-Day. No matter what the opinion, it was a key attack.

This year, I was able to visit Dieppe on our tour of Belgium and northern France.

On our visit, the day we were to arrive at the August 19th 1942 Memorial, we were running very late. The day before, we went back to Vimy to see the tunnels and trenches that were not open due to the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy ridge. And we had to drop some other travellers of our group in Arras. So we were there over two hours late. From what I could gather, the people at this memorial were waiting especially for us! The woman was very upset at our tardiness, and my girlfriend spoke to her in French and explained our situation. It seemed to mollify her. Her husband, one of the owners of the memorial, was still very welcoming. We soon learned why.

Turns out, his mother was in occupied Dieppe. The day of the raid by the Canadians, leaflets were dropped, saying “stay in your homes, be safe. This is not a raid. We are the Canadian army. We will be back”. The French held to that hope. He said, “and then in 1944, you fulfilled your promise…you came back”. As such, he holds the Canadians in very high esteem, because we came back and liberated Dieppe. Very powerful. The museum/memorial, which is an old theatre, is full of memorabilia, photos, portraits of Canadian infantry. While the old theatre held its own appeal (being a theatre type, and he allowed us to go on the stage and such), I felt both very honoured to be Canadian, and unworthy. I had no connection to the raid or liberation. Its amazing how much this man held Canadian citizens in such high esteem.

We kept our promise. We came back.

That still sticks in my memory. Photos were not permitted of the artifacts (see the link above for more information), but the man allowed me photos of the theatre itself. Maybe on a later post. We went down to the beach. These photos are of our trip down. Its no wonder the soldiers had a tough time on the rocky beach. Just walking normally was difficult; never mind having to run up it with an enemy firing at you!

And what sticks the most with this, is that the men who participated in this raid were volunteers; not professional soldiers. They gave up their lives to fight for freedom.

All photos taken with the Fuji X100T.

On the beach. Rocky, and difficult to walk on.

A soldiers view. How can anyone manage this?

Birds-eye view of the beach.

Never Forgotten

Remembrance Day was this past week. The time to consider those who made our current lives what they are (the recent attack on Paris, France aside).

At the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Canada, at the end of the services, the public has a more recent ritual of coming up to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to place their poppy, and give thanks.

I walked by the memorial yesterday. Not only are the poppies still there, but in the time it took to make the image below, no more than ten people came to take time to remember. One woman specifically to place flowers and have a personal moment.

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Canada truly respects and honours its servicemen and women. Its what makes this country awesome.

And if I ran the circus, France, Canada was there for you in to great wars, we are with you now.

After

As with each year, I attend the Remembrance Day services downtown Ottawa. More so important this year, given all the happenings recently, and it being the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Great War (something I’m totally fascinated with and have read many books on).

For a change, the weather was really nice; sunny and warm (usually cold and damp) as if the gods above said, “have a nice day, you all deserve it”.

Since the installing of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, it has become a custom after all the dignitaries have left, to have everyone come up, leave their poppy and have a personal moment of reflection. While we typically will do this, this year I suggested we not, again, given the recent events and overly large crowd (estimated at 55,000). On our exit, I took the time to take this shot, with my X-T1 and 10-24 wide angle lens, showing the masses swarming the memorial.

We Canadians are very proud of our armed forces, what they do, and how they represent this country.

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