Veterans Affairs Canada

Veterans Affairs Canada

July 02, 2011 08:00 ET

Ceremony of Remembrance at the Courcelette Memorial

COURCELETTE, FRANCE--(Marketwire - July 2, 2011) - A Ceremony of Remembrance was held today at the Courcelette Memorial, the scene of the Canadians' initial victory in the long and costly struggle that was the Battle of the Somme.

"We have gathered here to mark the 95th anniversary of an important time in history, and to pay tribute to those who fought and those who fell here in the name of freedom," said Member of Parliament Brian Jean on behalf of the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs. "We also remember the people of Courcelette—this small village that occupies such a large place in Canada's history, and that still shows the scars of the great and deadly battles that were waged here. It is the story of thousands who traded their futures for ours."

When the Canadian Corps moved from the Ypres Salient to the Somme River region at the beginning of September 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 village of Courcelette. 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 on the day of the attack, the 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.

Those who participated in today's ceremony included Kim Perry Butler, Chargé d'affaires ad interim, Canadian Embassy to France; Suzanne Tining, Deputy Minister, Veterans Affairs Canada; Canadian parliamentarians; Lieutenant-Colonel Marcel Cloutier, Assistant Defence Attaché, Canadian Embassy to France; Jean-Marc Bassaget, sous-préfet de Péronne and representative of the préfet of the Somme region; Xavier Vandendriessche, Mayor of Courcelette; representatives of Canadian Veterans' organizations; and Canadian youth. To end the ceremony, the members of the Canadian delegation and all guests in attendance laid a flower on the monument as a symbol of remembrance.

On July 3rd, the delegation will participate in private wreath-laying ceremonies at the Adanac Cemetery and the Gueudecourt Newfoundland Memorial.

For more information on the 95th anniversary of the Battles of the Somme and of Beaumont-Hamel, visit the Veterans Affairs Canada Web site at veterans.gc.ca. Share your thoughts at facebook.com/CanadaRemembers.

Contact Information

  • Media Inquiries:
    Janice Summerby
    Media Relations Advisor
    Veterans Affairs Canada
    613-992-7468

    Codie Taylor
    Director of Communications
    Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs
    613-996-4649