Courcelette remembered

November 30, 2011 by Sharon Adams

Alberta MP Brian Jean recently shared memories with his hometown paper in Fort McMurray about a Veterans Affairs Canada commemorative tour last summer, where he was particularly touched by a gesture at a service in Courcelette, France.Delegates and guests from surrounding communities participated in remembrance ceremonies for Canadian soldiers at the Courcelette Memorial and for French soldiers at the nearby Monument aux Morts.  The Battle of Flers-Courcelette–in September of 1916–was so fierce that the Van Doos commanding officer, Lt.-Col Thomas Tremblay, was moved to say, “If hell is as bad as what I’ve seen at Courcelette, I would not want my worst enemy to go there.”  More than 300 Van Doos were killed or wounded.

After more than 90 years, the French have not forgotten, and hold an annual commemoration.  During a service this year those who attended, including the Canadian delegation, were given red and white carnations to place on the Courcelette monument.  Jean was particularly touched by four young Frenchmen who dressed in First World War Canadian uniforms.

One of the young Frenchmen, Aurelien Gabet, told Legion Magazine that he makes a point of telling all his friends to attend commemorative events so remembrance carries on to the next generation. He notices that once invited, they do, but lamented that the invitation was necessary, and he wished he could invite everyone of his generation.

Here’s a shot of three young men (from left) Aurelien  Gabet, Benoit Segard and Thievin Ladriere, placing flowers in remembrance of Canadian soldiers.

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