2006 Annual Battlefields Tour

Photo by Alex Leon

The 4th Annual St. Andrew's College Battlefields tour took place from March 13-21, 2006 with a group of 19 students and 2 faculty. 

The tour started with three days in Normandy, France with visits to the World War II D-day beaches of Sword, Juno, Gold and Omaha as well as to the beaches of Dieppe where the unsuccessful invasion of August 19, 1942 took place.  We then travelled to Belgium for two days of touring World War I trenches and museums in the area surrounding Ypres.  Finally we spent two days in the French town of Arras from which we were able to visit the tunnels and trenches of Vimy Ridge, the location of one of the greatest battles in Canadian history which started on April 9, 1917.

Menin Gate Memorial, YpresAll of us were staggered by the incredible loss of life in both wars.  In the country sides of Belgium and France there are literally thousands of World War I and World War II cemeteries where millions of soldiers from both sides are buried.  Yet, there are stills monuments such as Menin Gate in Ypres with names of hundreds of thousands of soldiers whose bodies were never recovered.  The predominant feeling amongst our group members as we visited some of the cemeteries and walked up and down the rows of crosses and tombstones was that there simply was not enough time to show these fallen soldiers the respect and remembrance warranted by their sacrifices.

Having walked on the beaches, crawled through the trenches and stood at the gun emplacements, 21 members of the S.A.C. community now have a much deeper and more vivid sense of the terror of war.  Having acknowledged and paid respects to hundreds of fallen soldiers buried on the soil they fought to liberate, we have a far greater understanding of the devastation of war.  Remembrance Day will forever hold a more emotional and personal significance for all of us because of our shared experiences on this tour.  

Read Conor Scott's essay here.