Thousands of people attended this year’s Remembrance Day ceremonies around the City of Edmonton.
At the Butterdome, Mistress of Ceremonies J’Lyn Nye from 630 CHED told the crowd 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme which was waged in France, and had a horrible toll on our soldiers.
The First Newfoundland Regiment had 801 soldiers participating in the battle.
“On the first day of The Battle of the Somme, the regiment was called into action near the village of Beaumont Hamel. That morning, the Newfoundlanders had to cover more than 200 meters before they even made it to the Allies front line. Once they made it to No Man’s Land, they were expected to cross through tangles of barbed wire to reach the enemy trenches more than 500 meters away.”
Of the 801 Newfoundlanders who started that first day, only 68 made it through to the second day of the five month campaign.
Lieutenant Lois Mitchell told the crowd she was proud of the number of people who were in attendance. “Today we remember and express gratitude for the more than 117 thousand brave men and women of the Canadian Forces who throughout our history have sacrificed their lives battling the forces of intolerance, of fear, and oppression.”
Several veterans of the Second World War and other conflicts were on hand as dozens of wreaths were laid.
Private Ray “Lewy” Lewis grew up in Athabasca and enlisted in the army on Oct. 22, 1942 when he was just 17. The now 91-year-old had trained as a driver and mechanic. When he was sent to Italy during the Second World War he had never even fired a rifle.
“I took a fella’s place when he got killed in the regiment,” Lewis explained. “And then I got wounded and another guy took my place and he got killed. Another guy took his place and he got killed. By that time, two months later, I was back to take my original job.” (eb, with files from Global News)