BIG VALLEY BULLETIN — At a ceremony held at the Big Valley cenotaph last Sunday, April 9, the Big Valley Legion and members of our community gathered to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Located in our beautifully treelined Memorial Park about half-a-block from the Big Valley Legion, the Big Valley cenotaph was constructed in 1925 to honour all those who laid down their lives in war.
Over the sound of fluttering flags, the Last Post was carried out before the laying of a memorial wreath and the singing of our national anthem. A short speech illuminated the significance of the battle, describing the Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge as a defining moment for our country, helping to form Canada into the country it would become. This campaign would be the first time all four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force fought together in a battle that would leave over 3,500 Canadians dead and another 7,000 wounded.
The names etched on our cenotaph display the strong representation from this community and the family names are very familiar to most of us who live here. A search through numerous archives revealing at least one Big Valley soldier who was killed by enemy shell fire during the advance at Vimy Ridge and another buried at the Vimy Memorial, somehow brought the war’s costs that much closer to home. We have to thank our Legion members for reminding us of the sacrifices Canadians from every part of this country have made for our liberty.
The First World War is recognized as the bloodiest conflict in Canadian history. According to Veterans Affairs Canada, approximately 650,000 Canadians served in WW1, including members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, Canadians and Newfoundlanders who served with British forces and merchant mariners; a remarkable contribution for a country with a total population of only 8 million. Though the exact number of casualties is still uncertain, an estimated one out of every 10 who went to fight in the “Great War” gave their lives and more than 172,000 were maimed either mentally or physically.
We must remember them all.