The Canadian War Memorials.

Our tour of the Canadian war memorials has come to an end.  We have seen so much, experienced feelings and emotions that are difficult to explain.  Shed a few tears, had a few laughs and said Thank You many times internally and externally as we walked among the tombstones of those young Canadians.  There were other sites that we did not visit, but we feel very content with what we have seen and are so pleased that you have allowed us to share our journey with you.  Thank you.

As in the past I wanted to make a slideshow to wrap up this part of our adventure and as I started to think about I was wondering what music I would use to accompany the pictures.  Well, I can tell you that the music came to me almost instantly and  it seemed very appropriate.  I hope you enjoy it….

The Caen Memorial

On Sunday we left the safety and security of our B&B for a leisurely walk to the Caen Memorial.  The memorial is home to the Caen museum which many regard as the finest WWII museum in France and it is also home to the Canadian, American and British honour gardens.  Also on site is the genuine command post bunker that the Germans used for coordinating their defence of Normandy. We did not visit many tourist places while in Caen as we used it as our base camp for visiting the memorial sites in Normandy.

On the grounds of the museum there is one of 16 copies of the famous Non-Violence sculpture, also known as The Knotted Gun by Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd. The sculpture depicts an 5′ long by 2.5′ high Colt Python .357 Magnum revolver with a the barrel knotted and pointing upwards. the sculpture rests on a 1′ high bronze plinth which rests on a 4′ high by 6′ long by 3′ wide by rectangular stone base.  A small plaque on the front of the base is inscribed:

Non-Violence
Knotted Gun

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The Canadian Garden.

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Below is the large granite slab with the Latin inscription:

No Day Will Ever Erase You From The Memory Of Time.

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The American garden has a memorial wall with plaques from all 50 states along with messages from some American territories.  Among them we found one which we thought to be unique.  It was from the State of Pennsylvania and has a piece of Granite from the Gettysburg Battlefield.

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The bunker for the German command post was a very interesting visit.  Unfortunately the lighting in the bunker was not very good for pictures.

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Juno Beach

Today we travelled from Caen to Juno Beach, about a 20 minute drive. On the way we stopped at Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery. Many of those buried here were men of the 3rd Canadian Division who died either on June 6, 1944 (D-Day) or during the early days of the advance towards Caen. There are 2048 gravesites here with the majority of them being Canadian. The site honors the dead with lovely flowers, well kept lawns and hedges and a view that faces Juno Beach.

Once at Juno Beach we walked along the boardwalk and crossed over the dunes to the beach. There are a number of storyboards along the way telling the story of the first offensive of the Allieds on this day of days. Buried in the sand is a German bunker which gives you an idea of how close the enemy really was to the beach. Even though many young men perished that day, it is amazing to me that any of them actually made it up out of the water onto the beach without being completely slaughtered. Their courage is amazing!!

Situated immediately behind the beach is the Juno Beach Centre. This museum, established in 2003, gives a history of Canada before the Second World War, our contributions during the war – both in Europe and at home, our current role as peacekeepers around the world and finishes off with a very moving twelve minute film of the landing and subsequent fighting on D-Day and the days that followed. Richard and I spent at least three hours here and would recommend it to anyone – especially if you are a Canadian. It is emotional at times, very well organized and always informative.

We left the museum feeling that we have probably seen all that we can see at this time.  Our minds are flooded with facts, our emotions are ragged, and yet our cup runneth over. We are so blessed to be Canadians and are so proud of those that have gone before us. There is nothing more to say.

Beny-sur Mer:

The Canadian Flag greets you as you drive into the parking lot of Beny-sur-Mer.

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Juno Beach:

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The arrow on picture below this one shows where the German soldier was positioned at the top of the bunker.img_4634

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Orders given to the Canadians as they landed at Juno Beach.img_4647img_4655img_4658

Col looking over the Memorial Bricks.img_4660img_4664img_4666img_4680img_4681img_4682img_4684img_4685img_4687img_4686img_4692img_4693img_4697img_4698img_4699img_4688

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The five soldiers of the Remembrance and Renewal sculpture stand tightly in a circular formation, each looking outward in the distance.  The massive figures undulate into one another, accentuating the unity and comradeship of those who served Canada at home and abroad.  This memorial sculpture honours the sacrifices of all those who participated in the war effort, both in the field and in all operations in Canada, to help bring about the final victory.

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As you know from the blog we paid a visit to Vimy Ridge which is the largest of the Canadian WWI memorials. Being as we were there just a few days ago Matthew Halton’s report connected with us in a profound way.

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