COURCELETTE, France, July 2, 2016 /CNW/ - A ceremony of remembrance was held today at the Courcelette Canadian Memorial, the scene of Canadian soldiers' initial success in the long and costly struggle that was the Battle of the Somme one hundred years ago.
When the Canadian Corps moved from the Ypres Salient to the Somme River region in the late summer of 1916, its first major action was the Battle of Flers-Courcelette—a two-army assault. In the offensive, the Canadian Corps assaulted on a two-kilometre front near the French village of Courcelette on September 15. Advancing behind a creeping barrage, the infantry was aided by the "new engine of war," the armoured tank, which frequently threw the enemy into confusion. The attack went well. Early that day, the first objective, a defence bastion known as the Sugar Factory, was taken, and the Canadians pushed ahead to Courcelette. Numerous German counter-attacks were successfully repulsed and by the next day the position was consolidated.
The Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada, the Honourable George Furey, Speaker of the Senate, the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Ambassador of Canada to France and Jean-Marc Todeschini, Sécretaire d'État chargé des Anciens combattants (French Secretary of State responsible for Veterans), participated in a wreath laying. To end the ceremony, the entire delegation and all in attendance laid a flower on the monument as a symbol of remembrance.
On July 3, the delegation will visit the Canadian National Vimy Memorial and participate in a wreath laying. The delegation leaves France on July 4 to return to Canada.
- The granite block of the Courcelette Canadian Memorial bears the simple inscription: "The Canadian Corps bore a valiant part in forcing back the Germans on these slops during the Battles of the Somme Sept. 3rd – Nov. 18th 1916."
- The Somme had cost Canada more than 24,000 casualties, but it was here in Courcelette that the Canadians confirmed their reputation as hard-hitting shock troops.
"We have gathered in Courcelette to mark the 100th anniversary of a significant, yet somber time in our history. We pay tribute to those who fought and those who fell here during the First World War. The story of the Canadians in the Battle of the Somme is one of courage and of devotion to duty. It is the story of tens of thousands who traded their futures for ours."
The Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada
For further information: Media Relations, Veterans Affairs Canada, 613-992-7468