Monday, November 13, 2017

Never Forgotten

With Remembrance Day just passed, I want to share with you this story from one of our congregation.  Andy Wallace was Gladys' father, and one of the thousands of Canadians who fought in "The War to End All Wars," WWI.  He saw action at Vimy Ridge.  When the battle ended, Andy, a carpenter by trade, worked on a large wooden cross to commemorate the dead of the 44th Canadian Infantry.  Just three weeks after the victory, Andy's cross was raised on the crest of the ridge. 
He might even be one of the soldiers in this photograph.  He and Sapper McIver created the huge wooden cross from 8x8 inch oak logs within range of the enemy's guns.  Other members of the section mixed the concrete. In a letter, a fellow veteran, A.C. King wrote to Andy, "Here is a picture of the cross.  It doesn't look so big but, boy, oh boy, that concrete took some mixing."

The cross was twelve to fourteen feet high and about six feet wide.  It was held together by wooden dowels and had no inscription on the carving itself.  There was a copper plate in the stepped concrete base that reads:
 to the memory of the officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the 44th Canadian Infantry who fell in the attacks on Vimy Ridge, the Triangle, and La Coulotte in April, May and June of 1917.
The monument was originally erected on Vimy Ridge, France by the 44th Battalion in 1917. In 1924,it was moved to its present location in Vimy Ridge Memorial Park on Portage Avenue in Winnipeg by members of the 44th Battalion Association and next of kin. Plaques on the sides of the monument listed those in the 44th Battalion who had lost their lives during the Vimy Ridge battle. Dedicated in June 1926, it was restored by the Department of Veterans Affairs in June 1967 and by the City of Winnipeg in October 1992.

The iconic Vimy Memorial that now stands on the ridge has eclipsed the battlefield monuments in the public imagination, but those rough crosses, built by fellow soldiers in the midst of battle truly bear the "blood, sweat and tears," of our military.

Thanks to Gladys for sharing her story, and thanks to Andy Wallace for his service to Canada. 
Andrew Wallace 44th Regiment, Canadian Infantry

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