April 24, 2014 -

Canada's Battlefields - Local Students Travel Abroad

Taking history class one step further

One month before the big 90th anniversary celebrations of Vimy Ridge, held by the Canadian government, Eight EHS and TDSS high school students walked up to the towering, white marble monument, dedicated in 1936 by King Edward VIII. It was here that on April 9 1917 Canadian troops succeeded where larger British and French forces had failed. It was a pivotal moment that helped Canada come of age as a nation.

For ten days the group visited the battle sites of France, Holland and Belgium. It was a fitting way to spend March Break 2007. We stood on the German gun boxes and dugouts overlooking Dieppe where the Canadian army paid a terrible price in human life in the quest to obtain intelligence on the German land defence. The lessons learned here paved the way for the successful D-Day landing.

From Dieppe, the students visited the beaches of Normandy and saw the famous D-Day landing where our grandfathers gave everything in the defence of freedom. We visited several war cemeteries including Beny-sur-Mer and Tyne Cot. The visit to Juno Beach with its new visitor's center did much to impress students with just what was at stake in 1944.

A guided tour of Ypres took the students through the small Flemish town that saw five bloody battles during World War 1. Ypres remains an important pilgrimage site and home to the most visited memorial on the Western Front. The students walked through cemetery and field hospital where Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, sitting on the back of an ambulance, composed 'In Flanders Fields'. Today the poppies still grow.

The group also walked the fields of the Somme and experienced the trenches. In this now peaceful setting, the students explored old trenches and mine craters. It was in the Somme, Passchendaele and Ypres that more than 1, 200, 000 allied and German soldiers died.

The trip was educational, fun and exciting. Everyone returned to Canada with a new appreciation of the efforts of our soldiers during World Wars I and II. History came alive for these eight high school students.

Juno Beach

Juno Beach located in France was one of the landing sites on the coast of Normandy during D-Day.

Juno Beach

A guide brings students on a tour of Juno Beach.

Dieppe Canadian War Cemetary

Visiting the Dieppe Canadian War Cemetary in France.

Dieppe Canadian War Cemetary

Overlooking the shores of Dieppe from a German gun box.

Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery

Visiting the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery near the village of Reviers in France.

Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery

The grave of a Canadian soldier at the Beny-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery.

Flanders Fields

Flanders Fields Cemetary and Memorial in Belgium

McCrae Field Hospital

The McCrae Field Hospital

Yorkshire Trench and Dug-Out

Touring the The Yorkshire Trench in Boezinge, Belgium.