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Battered boots help Whitbourne remember war dead at Memorial Day ceremony

Whitbourne Mayor Hilda Whelan at the cenotaph July 1, 2018.
Whitbourne Mayor Hilda Whelan at the cenotaph July 1, 2018. - Contributed

Thanks to the efforts of the 2584 Whitbourne Army Cadet Corps and the support of the Town of Whitbourne and Whitbourne Sports and Recreation, the wreath laying ceremony held at the cenotaph in Whitbourne on Memorial Day, July 1, was very fortunate to have had a special addition to their monument: a lonely and battered pair of boots placed at the cenotaph.

Combat boots provided a powerful symbol of remembrance during the ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France on April 9, 2017. Thousands of modern day combat boots surrounded the Vimy monument that day, in memory of the almost 3,600 Canadian soldiers who lost their lives during the battle. Students from Canada and France took part in laying four rows of boots, representing the four divisions of the Canadian Corps that fought for the first time as one formation at Vimy a century ago.

2584 Whitbourne applied to Veteran’s Affairs under the Borrow a Boot program and were selected to have a pair of these boots on display at their July 1st service, a beautiful representation of how these men and women gave of themselves in the name of freedom.

The result of the battle at Beaumont-Hamel in France on July 1, 1916, was staggering. Of the 801 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who went into battle on the that fateful morning, only 68 would answer the roll call at the end. It is truly chilling — 255 dead, 386 wounded, 91 missing. This included 14 sets of brothers.

Contributed by Patti Kennedy

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